INTENSE TITLE FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE: PAXTON RAY (C) VS. NOVA
“Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time!”
George Clinton heralds the arrival of the challenger.
“For y’all have knocked her up.”
There’s a rustle on the curtain below the PRIMEview showing a sky on the precipice of a hellacious storm.
“I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe, but I was not offended for I knew to rise above it all…”
Nova flings the curtain up and stands, looking around the stadium full of PRIMEates going psychotic for the Starchild as he stands ready to go to war. He feels the spotlight beam upon him, and that’s his cue to kneel at the entryway. A man’s gotta have a code, and a man’s gotta have his rituals.
“…or drown in my own shit.”
Nick Stuart: Blood for blood. Foster Nackedy and Sonny Silver were both casualties for this war that is about to unfold in front of us. Falls count anywhere.
Richard Parker: Normally, I’m all for seeing Foster getting smacked around, but did The Chairman have to catch a stray too? And another thing, as much as I don’t like Foster here, well, good guys really aren’t supposed to be taking revenge.
Nick Stuart: Since when do you care about the morality of revenge, Richard?
Richard Parker: Nick, I’m the color commentator who supports the bad guys. I’m supposed to be a hypocrite?
Nova stalks down the aisle, eschewing his normal pre-match cigarette. Maybe it’s the nerves. Maybe he needs all his breath for the Bayou Butcher. Either way, The Risen Star appears a little more tense than the PRIMEates are used to seeing him.
Vince Howard: This match is scheduled for one fall and is for the PRIME Intense Championship! Entering the ring, from Parts Unknown, weighing in at 240 pounds. He is the challenger, a former Universal and Five-Star Champion, the Risen Star, the Starchild… NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!
Nova enters the ring, walks over to the far side of the ring from the ramp, and leans on the ropes, awaiting his destiny. “Maggot Brain” fades out for a few beats.
“They say it’s good to start a story with a tragedy.”
As the chunky riff of “Fistfight” by the Ballroom Thieves enters the arena speakers, the fans erupt in hatred for the Intense Champion. A few moments pass before Paxton Ray enters, Foster Nackedy trudging behind him with a walker.
Nick Stuart: There he is. The most hated man in PRIME. The man who ended Jonathan Rhine’s career.
Richard Parker: And sadly perhaps the most fitting Intense Champion we’ve ever seen.
The two men begin their walk to the ring. Most would focus on Paxton, and I wouldn’t blame them; after all, he’s the wrestler. But please, humor me and look behind him at the manager. Usually, Foster Nackedy is smiling. He loves every part of the role he plays on screen. Even now he would love to be hamming up an injury, pretending to be hurt worse than he is, maybe telling Nova that he’s to blame for all of this.
That’s not what he’s doing, though, and the commentary team notices.
Nick Stuart: Foster Nackedy looking angry tonight, Richard.
Richard Parker: Of course he is, Nick! Nova beat the snot out of him on ReV 25! I’d be looking at Nova the same way too!
That all makes sense, but the main problem with that theory is that Foster isn’t looking at Nova at all. He’s looking straight ahead, not focusing on anything, just slowly walking forward.
Okay, back to the champ. Ray grins as he pulls himself up on the apron and enters the ring, then puts his title in the air. The boos rain down as Foster leans against the apron, now finally staring at Nova. Paxton grins at Nova, then spreads his arms wide.
Vince Howard: And his oppon…
Before Vince can get the words out of his mouth, Nova RUSHES in with a flurry of fists, looking like a cross between Rocky Balboa and the Tazmanian Devil. The bell rings hastily as Elvis Nixon’s all-too-brief respite is cut even shorter than normal. Haymakers, mid-kicks, toe kicks to the gut, uppercuts. Nova is giving the Champion absolutely no rest, but honestly, the only person in the arena who might believe he deserves mercy is the sourpuss on the outside of the ring leaning on his walker.
Nick Stuart: Nova is a HOUSE ON FIRE!
Richard Parker: Given all the cigs and pot he smokes…
Nick Stuart: Now, now, Richard, don’t go being a narc. We don’t want any angry letters from Teddy Palmer.
Richard Parker: Why’d you have to mention him? Now I just want a pepperoni pizza.
The Bayou Butcher tries to cover up from the surprise onslaught, but Nova keeps hammering down on him. Finally, the Champion slumps, and Nova stomps a mudhole in him before walking it dry.
Nick Stuart: Nova grabbing Paxton off the canvas. Bourbon for Breakfast, this early in the match?
Richard Parker: I hope so! Gotta save my energy for that main event…
Pax still has enough wherewithal to shove himself off Nova’s shoulders, preventing the flash-crowning of a new Intense Champion. Redneck Einstein drops to a supine position and then rolls out of the ring, trying to clear the cobwebs out of his brain. After collecting himself from the shock of losing his prey, Nova shakes his own cobwebs out and dives out in chase of the Intense Champion. He’s stopped momentarily, however, by a raspy, annoyed-sounding voice.
Foster Nackedy: Hey burnout, did I tell you how much I enjoyed seeing the fear in Sonny’s eyes when Paxton was kicking the shit out of him?
The Starchild jerks his head ever so slightly, but it’s just the in that Pax needs to jump in.
The metallic clang of the guardrails separating fan from fighter reverberates with shocking intensity in the spaciously cavernous dome of JerryWorld. Nova’s back lands with malice on the steel with each ram of Paxton’s shoulder against his stomach, weakening his core. Not content with using his own body as an implement of bludgeoning, Paxton leaves his challenger in a crumpled heap propped up on the guardrail as he looks around for a weapon. He spies one, but it’s currently being occupied by Vince Howard’s posterior.
Paxton Ray: YOU! GIMME DAT CHAIR!
Without hesitation, PRIME’s ring announcer hops to his feet, allowing Paxton to grab the steel implement with haste. He folds it up, thinking momentarily about giving The Risen Star some help developing tau proteins in his brain, but he thinks to himself almost immediately that he’s started hacking away at a more beneficial spot on Nova’s body.
Nick Stuart: SICKENING! Paxton Ray driving the point of that steel chair he STOLE from Vince Howard into Nova’s ribs and solar plexus!
Richard Parker: On one hand, Vince and I play cards every other Tuesday and I hate seeing him inconvenienced, but on the other, this is smart strategy. If he can take out Nova’s core, then Bourbon for Breakfast is pretty much neutralized.
Nick Stuart: Rich, did you just make a salient analytical point?
Richard Parker: Hey, I’m not just piss and vinegar all the time.
Ray’s repetitive shots increase in frequency until a machine gun of chair point jabs are seemingly peppering Nova’s midsection. The Starchild gasps for air as if he’s just been plucked from drowning, but the onslaught is far from over. The Lafayette Bruiser opens the chair, then scoops his prey up, lifting him so that his belly is open facing the floor.
Nick Stuart: DEAR GOD! A gutbuster on the top of that chair and…
Richard Parker: He’s not done yet, Nick.
Paxton looks over at the timekeeper, and with a vicious snarl in his lips barks at her.
Paxton Ray: GIMME DAT CHAIR! NOW!
Richard Parker: I don’t understand this! There are chairs under the ring! Can’t he just grab one of those?
Nick Stuart: Rich, I think the cruelty is the point here.
As Nova writhes on the mat outside the ring, Paxton sets the second chair up so that its back is facing the back of the first one. The tops of both chairs form a point, and everyone with vantage good enough to see the simple yet demonic structure Paxton Ray has constructed gasp in unison. The Butcher scoops Nova from the ground, looks at the crowd and barks, and then…
Richard Parker: That’s gotta be even more painful than it looks.
As Nova crumples back to the mat after being bodyslammed back first into the makeshift torture device Paxton set up, the crowd rains their loudest boos down on the Intense Champion yet. Over 105 thousand people strong, raining hate on him, and still, he had no reaction other than to whip the ring skirt up and look underneath for even more plunder.
Nick Stuart: Oh no.
Richard Parker: Who left a goddamn heavy-duty CHAIN underneath the ring!
Not that it matters either way who left it there, but later on in the evening, there will be a Hell in a Cell match. Certain implements are needed to set up and break down said superstructure. And one of those implements could be used to squeeze the life out of someone.
Which is exactly what Paxton Ray is setting out to do as he wraps it around Nova’s midsection and squeezes.
He rigs the chain so that it keeps the compression around the middle of Nova’s torso but so that there’s also enough slack at either end so he can, well, drag his body up the ramp with him, which is exactly what he does. The Starchild’s face is frozen in abject horror and pain as he gasps for belabored breaths underneath his already damaged ribs. Paxton emotes little as he drags his victim to the ramp. He stops about halfway up and then suddenly jerks his arms up in the air, maximizing the torque placed on the exposed skin of his challenger. Nova’s eyes bug out of his head. His mouth opens as wide as it can, and the sounds can only be described as porcine in nature. Even Foster, who has made his way over to where the scene of the assault is happening, can only wince in reaction. Elvis Nixon asks Nova if he wants to give up. There might be a part inside his psyche that wants nothing more than to throw in the towel and get the fuck outta there, but the rest of that brain had a resounding answer.
Paxton, in frustration with violence and hatred in his heart, whips Nova off to the side, sending him tumbling off the incline, crashing into the guardrails by the entryway. He stalks over but is stopped.
Foster Nackedy: Pax, no. I need to get something off my chest.
Foster waddles over and stands right in front of a crumpled Risen Star – or more like Fallen Star, am I right? – and slowly lifts his walker into the air. With a flourish, he sends it crashing down diagonally into Nova’s gut.
Foster Nackedy: FUCK YOU!
Fire figuratively burns behind his eyes as he lifts the walker up and crashes it into Nova’s solar plexus again. And again. And again.
Nick Stuart: My God! He’s going to town!
Richard Parker: I haven’t seen anyone this angry since they told The Anglo Luchador they were out of fish sandwiches and coffee last Friday.
Nick Stuart: (clearly ignoring Richard’s non sequitur) I just don’t know why he’s so angry.
Foster’s assault on Nova continues.
Foster Nackedy: THIS IS YOUR BOY, LINDZ? HUH?
Foster Nackedy: THIS IS WHO YOU GRACE WITH YOUR FUCKING CHARITY?!
Nick Stuart: Alright! Enough! Point is made!
In a rare show of mercy, Paxton seizes Foster by his arms.
Paxton Ray: THAT’S ENOUGH, FOST!
Nick Stuart: All that yelling, I don’t think it was Nova he was mad at.
Richard Parker: Lindsay Troy must have pissed in his cereal this morning, sheesh.
Paxton brusquely shoves Foster off to the side and then tosses him his walker. His focus goes back to Nova, whom he lines up for a shoulder tackle right into his gut. There’s just one problem.
Richard Parker: There’s still life in the Risen Star after all, Nick!
Nick Stuart: AND THAT’S NOT ALL!
Nova takes advantage of a doubled-over and groggy Paxton to land his patented Dying Star Drop. Hoping to steal a win in the confusion, he tackles the Butcher onto the ramp and scoops him up in a pinfall attempt…
NO! Paxton kicks out with authority. Nova gets to his feet, holding his ribs but letting the adrenaline course through his veins to help him carry on. He grabs Paxton in a tight headlock and starts struggling up the ramp, dragging the Champion with him. He stops at intervals to give him a knuckle-pointer to the face to keep him dazed enough to drag him all the way up to right underneath the PRIMEView. He tosses Paxton like a bag of garbage onto the floor right before the curtains leading into Argyle. As the Champ gets on all fours, Nova sizes him up and…
Nick Stuart: That knee sent Paxton TUMBLING past the curtains! What impact!
Richard Parker: They’re moving backstage. You know what that means.
Nick Stuart: This falls count anywhere match is really about to get started.
Richard Parker: vibrating VIOLENCE!
The Risen Star follows back with cameras trailing. He grabs Ray as he’s trying to get to his feet, not-sp-gently assisting him so he can bash his thick skull into monitors, lighting rigs, laptops, and soundboards. Nova slams Paxton’s head into one piece of equipment, and the entire audio feed for ACE Network knocks out for a moment. As technicians hustle to get the sound back on, Nova grips the Champion by the back of his A-shirt and heaves him through to the hallway.
Nick Stuart: Are we back on yet?
Richard Parker: I’m so mad at Nova! Everyone at home missed my stunning rendition of “Nights of Agony” off Solid Gold Rock ‘n Roll’s classic album, Forge Cycle II.
Pax stands on the concrete floor of the hallway, holding his back, none the wiser that Nova is lining him up from the back. The Starchild lunges in, grabbing a hold of his waist.
Nick Stuart: OH MY GOD! GERMAN SUPLEX ON THE CONCRETE FLOOR!
Richard Parker: He’s dead. Call it.
Elvis hits the deck to count as Nova holds the bridge in place…
NO! Just a shade before Nixon’s hand hits the floor, Paxton kicks out. Nova looks around. There’s no crowd to appeal to, but he knows it’s time. He picks the Champ up to his feet and attempts to put him on his shoulders, but…
Nick Stuart: Oh no! He’s trying Bourbon for Breakfast, but Paxton Ray has done too much damage to his core, and I think that German suplex took the last bit of strength from those muscles!
Richard Parker: I knew he should’ve tried that one move with the weird name or, uh, the other one?
As Nova holds his guts, Paxton takes a beat to recover before finding his opportunity. He spies a soda machine, and in one swift movement, he grabs the Risen Star by the scruff of hair on the back of his head and by his tights and launches him into it. The light violently flickers in the vending machine as Nova collides with it, back to the unforgiving structure.
Richard Parker: At least it didn’t explode open this time like it did when Ivan got a hold of it at ReV 25.
As Nova staggers to his feet holding his gut with one hand and his back with the other, it’s Pax’s turn to line up his shot. He charges in, arm outstretched, and sends the Starchild FLYING backwards with a huge lariat. Nova twists inside out from the impact and lands stomach first on the edge of a steamer chest. As he turns around to face his opponent, a small trickle of blood begins to ooze from his mouth into his ratty beard.
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure how much more damage Nova can take here. He’s gotta be bleeding internally after that onslaught.
Richard Parker: Well, I hope he goes to a local medical facility afterwards, get checked out.
Nick Stuart: Richard, what did you just call it?
Richard Parker: I… I don’t know. It’s like the icy hand of evil reached out and touched my mind from across the multiversal void.
Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen, my broadcast partner, Richard Parker.
Paxton instinctively rips Nova onto the hard floor and goes for a cover.
Feebly, the Risen Star kicks out. The Butcher of the Bayou rips Nova to his feet and throws him several yards into the distance. He follows up with some well-placed kicks to the gut before finding an open door. As Nova reaches for something to brace himself, all he finds is the Lafayette Bruiser’s hands on him, tossing him through into the Dallas Cowboys locker room. Paxton looks around for a weapon and finds a football helmet that’s been left out. He grabs it and begins to work over Nova with the hardened plastic and metal protector.
Richard Parker: That’s the closest the Cowboys have gotten to a Championship since 1996, Nick!
Nick Stuart: I didn’t take you for a football fan, Richard. Who’s your favorite team?
Richard Parker: The St. Louis Battlehawks! CAW CAW, BABY!
After slamming the helmet into various parts of the Starchild’s soft flesh, Pax looks around for more implements of punishment, and his eyes light up as he spots the ice bath, which has been filled and graciously provided for PRIME wrestlers to use after their brutal matches for the evening, for a fee, of course. Jerry Jones ain’t runnin’ no charity, here. He drags Nova over to the tub and dunks him, submerging his entire head.
Nick Stuart: The brutality! I don’t care if this has no rules, Elvis has to get in there and do something!
Richard Parker: I know! You can’t give Nova a bath against his will. He’ll clean up when he’s good and ready.
Nick Stuart: A MAN IS BEING DROWNED, RICHARD, NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR JOKES!
Thankfully, Nova is able to break free of Paxton’s grip by flailing his elbows. He comes up for air as the Champ flinches momentarily, but before he can get his wits about him…
Nick Stuart: OH NO! Paxton with the sled drill on Nova! And, hey, wait, did he just shove Nova into a locker?!?!
Richard Parker: I wonder how many times that happened to him in high school.
As the Starchild groans, Paxton takes a moment or two to catch his breath before ripping Nova out of the locker and tossing him back into the hallway. Nova slams backfirst into the wall and slumps onto the ground as the Bayou Butcher follows up with his trademark three elbow drops, each producing a sickening thud as they find their aim on the solar plexus area. On the third elbow, he stays on the cold, unforgiving ground and makes a cover…
Nova makes his most desperate kickout yet. The Champ rises to his feet and finds another steamer chest, this one on wheels. He rolls it over, ramming it into Nova’s side before tossing him on it. The Butcher moves behind the chest, placing both his hands on it.
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray has done a lot of sadistic things in this match, but I don’t even want to think about what he’s going to do with Nova on that chest.
Richard Parker: He’s gonna send him for a joyride, Nick. I don’t like it, but I mean.
Richard is right.
Paxton shoves the chest with all his might, sending it careening back down the hallway towards Argyle. The only thing stopping it is the soda machine Nova’s back met earlier in the match. The jolt of the head-on impact doesn’t knock Nova off the chest, but it’s enough to send a geyser of blood shooting from his mouth. Paxton stalks down towards his mark, grabbing a fire extinguisher off the wall on his travels. He raises it over his head, and in one grim swoop…
Nick Stuart: DEAR LORD! If Nova didn’t have a laceration to one of his organs before, he’s got one now.
Richard Parker: I’m going to see if Hoyt can bless this poor child later on this evening. They kinda were rivals back in the day, but I’d like to think he’s a forgiving savior.
With the drill press-force blow to his ribs, Nova rolls off the chest, plopping on the floor. Paxton drops the extinguisher haphazardly and drops to cover…
Nova’s shoulder shoots off the solid floor just enough to keep the match going. Paxton sits his challenger up and takes several steps back. Nostrils flared, lips sneered, he charges in attempting to put a killing blow on the match with a sliding lariat. There’s just one problem with that.
He didn’t notice that the fire extinguisher he dropped was a little too close to Nova for him not to grab it and squeeze.
Nick Stuart: JUST THE BREAK NOVA NEEDED!
Richard Parker: I’m happy for him, but he’d better not hope The Anglo Luchador doesn’t fall asleep backstage reading Faulkner by candlelight.
Nick Stuart: He’s not that old, Richard.
Richard Parker: Okay, okay, reading George RR Martin by candlelight.
Nova is up but still clutching his midsection. In the confusion, he grabs Paxton by his waist and tries another German suplex, but his core is too damaged to get him up and over. Thinking quickly, he spins the Champ around and plants him on the concrete with a double-arm DDT. He drops for a cover…
NO! Paxton Ray kicks out. In the confusion, The Starchild grabs the Butcher to his feet and throws him back into the Argyle position. He sees an extension cord and instinctively grabs it, wrapping it around the Bruiser’s throat. He wrenches back, depriving the Intense Champion of air.
Nova: GIVE UP! GIVE UP YOU LUNKHEADED MOTHREFUCKER!
All Paxton can reply with are gurgling noises and gasps for air. There’s no chance at all that he’s going to slam his hand on the floor though. This thought becomes evident to the Risen Star as his own mind wanders back to a conversation he had by a canyon with Sonny.
“A potentially never-ending series of bloodbaths.”
“And I just wonder if that’s a road you need to go down.”
“What if you win?”
He’s shaken to sense and releases the tension on the cord. He rises to his feet, dragging Paxton with him, only to plant him back down again with the In-NOVA-tor, although not getting all of it because his insides radiate with throbbing pain. He covers after the impact…
But Paxton Ray kicks out once more.
Nick Stuart: I’d say it’s only a matter of time before Nova finishes the job here, but Paxton has done a number on his core! I don’t know how much strength he has left to execute any of his finishing maneuvers.
Richard Parker: I have a pilates DVD he can borrow if that’ll help.
Nick Stuart: (audibly sighing)
And right on cue, The Risen Star once again attempts Bourbon for Breakfast, but his ribs and abs and back still are just not cooperating. He rolls the Butcher through the curtains back onto the top of the stage under the PRIMEView for all the six-figures of fans in JerryWorld to see. He plants a boot square in Paxton’s back between his shoulders and then drops down.
Omoplata armbar with a crossface.
Better known as the Horizontal Face-Pull Neck-Stretch Inverted Hurt-Plex Lock Bomb.
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray’s got nowhere to go, Richard!
Richard Parker: No rope breaks, sure, but you just saw him NOT tap out with an extension cord wrapped around his neck!
Nova put the hold on Paxton thinking he would ride it out and make him pass out. The wily Cajun had other ideas.
He sinks his teeth into the back of Nova’s forearm. It doesn’t leave the mark it should have because of the thick wristtape, but Nova breaks the hold regardless. After shaking off, Nova turns around and boots Paxton in the head. He looks out at the crowd, the writhing sea of humanity all there in that moment to see him put down a rabid alligator and reclaim the Intense Championship. He closes his eyes and breathes in deep. He bends down and grabs the Champion.
It’s time for Bourbon for Breakfast.
Paxton Ray in the fireman’s carry. All Nova has to do is spike, and the match is won.
Nick Stuart: NOOOOOOOOOO!
Richard Parker: Honestly, they were backstage so long I forgot Foster was still out here.
That’s right. Foster Nackedy saves his charge by pulling him off Nova’s shoulders. Incensed, the Risen Star turns around, but he, Foster, and everyone in earshot around the top of the stage turn their head to the entryway with someone’s almost melodic war cry.
“CHAIRMAN OF PRIME, ACTIVATE!”
The stadium EXPLODES in a deafening RAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!! as Sonny Silver comes charging out of the back with his favorite weapon, a steel chair. With no regard for anyone, his target especially, he swings the metal seat, planting it on directly on Foster’s head. Mr. Bad Name himself goes FLYING down the ramp. However, the celebration is short lived, as Sonny follows him down to keep up his assault.
Paxton Ray has recovered.
As Foster tumbles down the ramp with Sonny hot on his heels, Nova turns around only to find Paxton ready to deliver a swift toe kick to his groin.
Nick Stuart: NO! NOT LIKE THIS!
As Nova grasps at his dick and his balls, Paxton grabs him by the neck and drags him over to the edge of the stage. He wipes the sweat from his brow, and then places both his hands underneath Nova’s armpits, tossing him into the air.
And to make matters even worse? Nova’s feet don’t touch the ramp. He careens back off the stage, crashing into the store of tables and other spare equipment below. Paxton calmly, cold-bloodedly, climbs down from the stage, plants his fist in between Nova’s eyes one more time to make sure he wouldn’t move, and then barks at Elvis Nixon to count the cover.
DING DING DING
Boos rain down from the nosebleeds down to the floor, but the damage is done.
Vince Howard: Your winner, and STILL PRIME Intense Champion…. Paxton… RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!
The Champion sits next to the heap of destruction he caused, catching his breath. Nova doesn’t move more than what it takes to keep breathing. Foster Nackedy still remains prone on the ramp, probably with a concussion. Sonny Silver tosses the chair away and scowls down at Foster. The carnage is palpable, but isn’t that how the current Champion wants his cruel kingdom ruled?