INTENSE TITLE: THE ANGLO LUCHADOR (C) vs. BALAAM THE MASK OF MALICE
Vince Howard: The following contest is a lucha de apuestas match scheduled for one fall, and is for the Intense Championship!
Vince Howard: This is a mask versus mask match, meaning the loser must remove their mask!
Nick Stuart: For fans who aren’t familiar with the concept, lucha de apuestas means that both men involved in this match have made a wager based on the outcome. The wager for this match is that both masks are on the line, and the loser must surrender theirs to the winner.
Richard Parker: We literally listened to Vince Howard say half of that just now.
Vince Howard: In addition, I have been informed that this is a no-disqualification match!
Nick Stuart: An interesting wrinkle for sure, but one that makes sense given the circumstances. These two camps have been sniping at each other all year. They’ve met once before at Culture Shock, but that match ended via countout.
Richard Parker: And there’s not a clock on the planet that will save the Anglo Luchador tonight, Nick. Praise Hoyt!
Vince Howard: Introducing first, from Prospect Heights, Illinois and weighing in tonight at 345 pounds…
“Possum Kingdom” by The Toadies hits the arena speakers, and the fans in attendance immediately clear a path. They know what this song means, and before long the massive Balaam appears in the crowd.
Richard Parker: Clear a path, ye unworthy!
Vince Howard: The Mask of Malice… BAAAALLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAMM!!!
Controlled by a chain attached to his nose, Hoyt Williams’ personal behemoth is led to the ring by the Harbinger of Malice. In the ring Joe Burro holds up “The Good Book” high for all to see, while Hoyt casually strolls to the timekeeper’s area and helps himself to a seat.
Vince Howard: And his opponent… Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and weighing in tonight at 211 pounds…
The arena darkens, but instead of the normal sugar skulls, Santana, and smoke machines, the PRIMEview fades into a 16-bit display, stylized like a famous Konami series of video games about a vampire hunter. The title reads “HOYTSYLVANIA” with “press start” blinking underneath. A high-pitched sound effect plays, and the screen fades into mock gameplay as “Simon Belmont’s Theme” from Super Castlevania IV begins to play. The main character on the screen is a 16-bit Anglo Luchador, wielding a whip and taking out well-dressed zombies holding aloft replicas of “The Good Book.” The scene continues with the Retro Luchador encountering the stage’s boss, a massive rendering of Balaam in pixels. The hulking beast swings his arm and smashes into the pixelated Luchador, sending him crashing against the wall.
Richard Parker: Okay, game over, let’s get…
But the Luchador rises, leaps, and cracks the whip, landing on Balaam’s face, removing his mask. The final game shot on the PRIMEview shows the Anglo Luchador holding aloft the Mask of Malice as the screen fades to black.
Vince Howard: He is the reigning Intense Champion…
With “Simon Belmont’s Theme” still playing, the Intense Champion emerges from the back, dressed in a green-and-purple mock-up of Richter Belmont’s costume, championship belt affixed around his waist. His gait is plucked straight from the Castlevania series, only stopping to slap hands of various fans going nuts along the aisle. He looks upon the ring, with Balaam already inside, exhales, and hops up onto the apron, taking the belt and his sleeveless vest off before entering through the ropes. He hands them both to Elvis Nixon before stepping through the ropes.
Vince Howard: THEEEEE ANGLOOOOOOOO LUUUUUUUUUUUUCHADOOOORRR!!!
Nick Stuart: The bell has sounded, and this one is under w-OH!
A running body avalanche from the massive Balaam crushes the Anglo Luchador as soon as the bell rings, blasting the Son of the Shogun back into the corner.
Richard Parker: This is the kind of start to a match I like to see! Let the power of Hoyt flow through you, big man!
Balaam rears back and swings down with a clubbing blow, but only hits the turnbuckle as the Anglo Luchador manages to slide out of the way. A surprise enzuigiri connects with the back of Balaam’s head, which the Old Luchador immediately follows-up with a running hurricanrana to try and take the big man down.
Richard Parker: I take it back, I don’t like this at all!
Nick Stuart: An early flurry of offense from the Anglo Luchador as he looks to try and retain his title against his biggest…
Richard Parker: Woof to that pun.
Nick Stuart: …challenger to-date!
Seeing success with his initial barrage, the Anglo Luchador springboards to the second rope and attempts a second hurricanrana, but is caught by Balaam.
Richard Parker: Okay, I take that back, and…
Nick Stuart: We get it, Richard. We all get it.
A thundering buckle bomb rocks the Anglo Luchador. He staggers out of the corner, but Balaam has already hit the opposite ropes and built up a head of steam.
Nick Stuart: A massive spear by the Mask of Malice almost cuts the Intense champion right in half!!
Richard Parker: This is the best day. Just the literal best.
A massive paw grabs the Old Luchador by the throat, and then a second hand tightens the grip. The Anglo Luchador is lifted from his feet and held aloft in the air, as the weight of his own body and the tightening grip of Balaam threaten to choke the life from his body. And unlike the last time these two met, there is no protective layer of IcyHot (or its edible counterpart WarmCold) to help the Son of the Shogun escape.
Richard Parker: The power of Hoyt is breathtaking, isn’t it, Nick? Get it?
Nick Stuart: That is the worst pun. Just the absolute worst.
Richard Parker: The spirit of Hoyt can breathe life into a man’s lungs, and the hands of Balaam can squeeze it right back out.
Referee Elvis Nixon checks on both competitors, and offers a warning to Balaam, but it’s summarily ignored.
Richard Parker: Nothing you can do to stop it, Elvis.
Nick Stuart: Just because the rules are relaxed tonight doesn’t mean that our referee crew doesn’t have a responsibility to make sure that the wellbeing of every competitor is attended to. Especially after what happened to Jonathan Rhine in our last match.
Richard Parker: Jesus, Nick, way to bring it down.
The Anglo Luchador begins flailing his legs, though whether it’s to try and throw Balaam off balance or use a few wayward kicks to break up the hold is anyone’s guess. It is enough of a shift in momentum however that Balaam stumbles towards the ropes, like a foal taking its first ginger steps onto the ice.
Nick Stuart: Whatever the Anglo Luchador is doing seems to be working.
Richard Parker: From where I sit, it looks like what he’s doing is “throwing a big boy tantrum.”
The Luchador gets a foot on the top rope, then another, and the footing is able to help relieve some of the pressure on his neck. He clasps his hands together, bringing them down in an axehandle smash across first Balaam’s left arm, and then his right, before grabbing his wrist and leaping into the air for a flying arm drag.
Because of Balaam’s size, he doesn’t rotate over, and instead stumbles towards the far side of the ring like a drunken child. Not that you should get your kids wasted or anything like that, but if you did this is probably what it would look like.
He steadies himself against the ropes just in time to be blasted by a Cactus clothesline from the Anglo Luchador that takes both men over the top rope and to the arena floor.
Nick Stuart: The Intense champion throwing everything he’s got at his challenger tonight. And he’ll need to keep up the pressure if he intends to keep both his title and his mask.
Richard Parker: Not a chance, Nick. When you’ve been baptized in the holy waters of Hoyt, anything and everything is possible, which is how I know Balaam is going to throw Angelo Lunchables into the sun before tonight is over.
Outside the ring, both men slowly get back to their feet.
Nick Stuart: Angelo… Lunchables? What?
Richard Parker: Maybe he can play poker with whatever god lives in the sun. Does a god live in the sun? Doesn’t matter, because they’re not as cool as Hoyt! I bet it’s a weirdo bird thing.
Recognizing that his opponent is still trying to regain his bearings from the tumble to the outside, the Old Luchador gets a running start and connects with a shotgun dropkick that sends Balaam reeling back into the ring steps.
Richard Parker: That’s illegal!
Nick Stuart: I’m pretty sure it isn’t. We were alerted at the start of this match that it was being contested under relaxed rules.
Richard Parker: I meant in the state of Utah.
Nick Stuart: Which we’re not in.
Richard Parker: …shit.
The Anglo Luchador presses his advantage, mounting the monster and landing a series of hard rights. At least until a massive left hand catches a punch, and a right from Balaam shoves the Luchador back. Not to be denied, Anglo is right back in the fray, but this time Balaam is able to get a finger into one of the eye holes on the Luchador’s mask, threatening to tear it free.
Nick Stuart: Balaam trying to rip the mask from the Anglo Luchador’s head before the end of the match!
Richard Parker: I hope he has a bag or something to replace it with. Got a gut feeling that guy ain’t pretty.
Nick Stuart: Richard, we’ve been working with some of these guys for almost a year. Are you trying to tell me you’ve never seen anybody without a mask backstage?
Richard Parker: I don’t believe in fraternizing.
With both men on their feet, the Old Luchador delivers a series of leg kicks that target Balaam’s bad knee – the one that healed itself the moment John Kennedy Royko, Jr. put on the Mask of Malice and transformed. A clubbing blow from the monster sends the Luchador back yet again. This time he charges in and dives at his adversary, but is caught mid-air by Balaam.
The fans in the first row are forced to scatter in a hurry as Balaam charges to the guardrail and heaves the Anglo Luchador over it, into the first row of seats. Folding chairs clatter to the ground around him as he lands on the concrete floor. At the timekeeper’s table, Hoyt Williams’ smile is unmistakable.
Nick Stuart: Absolute chaos as this sprawls into the crowd!
Richard Parker: No, it’s okay. I have it on good authority that everything is fine as long as these fans all signed a waiver.
A camera operator is grabbed by the shirt before he can move out of harm’s way, and finds himself sailing through the air. He crashes into the now-standing form of the Anglo Luchador, sending both men careening deeper into the crowd.
Richard Parker: Not sure if it covers “murdered by a flying union employee,” though.
At least everyone still has their face.
One eager fan tries to start a “PRIME that shit” chant, until he is hit by a tranquilizer dart and hauled off by security to spend some time in the Nevada Ditch Fields to think about what he’s done. Not really, but it would be nice if that happened.
All Elvis Nixon can do is watch helplessly.
Nick Stuart: Balaam now stalking his way to the guardrail. This could get ugly real quick.
Richard Parker: Yeah, by taking Anglo’s mask off. We covered this. Jesus Hoyt Christ, don’t you pay attention?
That’s the sound a chair makes as it goes sailing through the air towards Balaam, who swats it aside with ease, sending a different group of fans scattering.
Another is thrown. Then another. And another.
From his spot in the crowd, the Anglo Luchador has managed to pull himself back up and unload with the closest thing he can find, which in this case is All The Chairs. Unable to defend against all of them, one manages to slip through Balaam’s defense and clips the side of his head, tearing a gap in the Mask of Malice.
And then something crazy happens. Balaam’s bad knee, the one that doctors said should prevent him from ever wrestling, buckles.
Nick Stuart: Did I just see what I think I saw?
Richard Parker: If what you saw was Balaam stumble, then no. That was a hallucination.
Wide-eyed, Hoyt Williams rises from his seat by the timekeeper.
Richard Parker: Please, Hoyt, tell me it was a hallucination!
Nick Stuart: Could this be the opening that the Anglo Luchador needed? That one shot damaged Balaam’s mask, and for a moment whatever mystique it had seemed to falter.
Richard Parker: You shut your lying mouth, Nick.
Another chair is thrown at Balaam, who manages to catch it just as the Anglo Luchador sprints forward, leaps off of the guardrail, and attempts to connect with a missile dropkick into the chair.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador digging deep and pulling out one of the tricks that helped him outlast Balaam in their first enco-
That’s the sound a chair makes when it’s swung at high velocity into the airborne, defenseless form of the Anglo Luchador.
Richard Parker: Home run, baby! Go on and touch ‘em all!
Balaam casts the chair aside and grabs his fallen opponent before rolling him into the ring. The Mask of Malice goes from floor to ring in two terrifying steps. With the Anglo Luchador groggy on the canvas, Balaam makes his way to the corner where he grabs a turnbuckle pad with both hands and tears it clear from its mounting.
Richard Parker: I think Hoyt’s about to deliver us all a miracle, Nick. I prayed for this. Oh god, I prayed so hard!
Balaam hoists the Anglo Luchador onto his shoulder and sets his sights on the turnbuckle whose pad he’s torn off.
Nick Stuart: No, dammit. Balaam looking to drive the Anglo Luchador into that exposed steel.
Richard Parker: If it’s any consolation, we have Hoyt right here to read the man his last rites.
Nick Stuart: It’s not!
Balaam charges across the ring, looking to crush the Old Luchador with the full force of his ‘Crucified and Buried’, but at the last second there’s some fight. The Anglo Luchador slips down off of Balaam’s shoulders. The big man stumbles, and then a dropkick catches him square between the shoulder blades and sends the already-off-balance Balaam into the corner.
The Mask of Malice suffers its second bit of damage on the night, as a one inch gash appears from where it struck metal. There is an audible gasp among the gathered masses as Balaam drops to one knee, his strength failing.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador with a brilliant counter! He’s got the monster rocked!
Richard Parker: I hate it I hate it I hate it I hate it I hate it I hate it…
Balaam staggers back, then drops to one knee again as he tries to shake off the cobwebs. Behind him, the Anglo Luchador stands ready. His feet are planted shoulder-width apart. His shoulders roll to stay loose. What he’s planning next should end the match, assuming he’s strong enough to pull it off.
The crowd can sense it, and the rumble within the arena intensifies as Balaam steps back into the waiting arms of the Anglo Luchador.
Nick Stuart: Straightjacket hold applied, but now the question is can he hold on, and can he pick this monster up!
Richard Parker is silent, save for the mumbled prayers to Hoyt that the microphone picks up.
With a defiant roar and the strength of Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and victory, manages to power Balaam up into the electric chair position. And as Balaam rises, so does the MGM crowd.
He’s suffered through IcyHot jokes, the fallout from his taco-related exploits, and pending litigation over a product he endorsed. But in this moment, as his muscles strain to lift a man almost double his size, the Anglo Luchador is an ascendent avatar of the Aztec pantheon.
In this moment, he is the essence of what it means to be a tecnico.
Nick Stuart: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
Richard Parker: SAME BUT FOR ENTIRELY DIFFERENT REASONS!
The Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex connects with enough force that Elvis Nixon has to briefly grab one of the ring ropes to keep from falling over. He dives to the mat of his own volition, because now he’s got a job to do.
Richard Parker: Please kick out. Hoyt save us, PLEASE KICK OUT!
Richard Parker: Don’t make me switch religions MESSIAH is too weird!
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: That’s it! He’s done it! The Anglo Luchador has retained his championship, and as a result we’re only moments away from Balaam having to relinquish his mask.
Richard Parker: I think I’m about to be sick.
The Monster, caught in the hazy in-between between Balaam and John Kennedy Royko, offers little resistance as the Anglo Luchador unfastens and removes the mask of malice from his head.
Nick Stuart: Justice is served, and The Anglo Luchador is still the Intense Champion.
Richard Parker: Boy is Royko ugly. Put that mask back on him.
The Anglo Luchador stands over the fallen Balaam holding both his mask and the Intense Championship as the crowd cheers wildly. Hoyt slides into the ring and starts berating the fallen Balaam.
Nick Stuart: Is this the end of Balaam and Hoyt Williams once and for all?
Richard Parker: RISE!!! RISE DAMN IT RISE UP!!!!
Balaam can’t stand as his knee is now once again a problem without the mask. Hoyt starts poking him with his titanium cane with the golden Sebs head hand grip.
Nick Stuart: JESUS, c’mon, won’t someone step in and stop this?
Hoyt is really laying into Balaam as The Anglo Luchador is unaware with his back turned to the action. Hoyt puts the cane to Royko’s neck.
Nick Stuart: Enough is enough.
Richard Parker: Put the dog down!
The Anglo Luchador turns around, spotting Hoyt, and the cane at the neck of Balaam. The Anglo Luchador trains his own eyes to stare dead into Hoyt’s eyes and holds the Mask of Malice up.
Hoyt Williams: HAND ME THAT MASK!
The Anglo Luchador doesn’t budge as Hoyt steps closer towards the Intense champion lifting his titanium steel cane, wound up and aimed for the Luchador’s skull.
Nick Stuart: Don’t do it, we’ve seen enough carnage already!!!
The “thud” is heard throughout the arena.
Richard Parker: What the hell?
Hoyt drops the cane and stands stunned for a second as blood starts to drip down his face. He collapses in total dead weight. The Anglo Luchador smiles still holding the mask and the title. The camera pans past the fallen bodies of Balaam and Hoyt revealing a strikingly beautiful yet awfully pregnant woman standing tall. She has a wooden bat in her hand which she drops completely stunned.
Nick Stuart: That’s John Kennedy Royko’s fiancée Aurora Jennings.
Richard Parker: That’s felonious assault, no, that’s actual assault. Get the cops out here.
Hoyt is not moving. Duke and Joe just watched stunned. The young lady mouths the word’s “thank you” to The Anglo Luchador who gives her an accepting nod. He tosses the mask towards her and rolls out of the ring with his title. She catches then drop the mask running over to check on JK Royko.
Nick Stuart: Reunited and it feels so good!
The much smaller woman he’s up the big man who is trying to stand on his knee. He pulls it off with pain in his eyes. He has an adrenaline rush and uses it to give Aurora a massive hug. The camera cuts to a lady crying in the audience.
Richard Parker: Clearly upset over the violent and unprovoked attack on Hoyt Williams.
Nick Stuart: Please.
John Kennedy Royko raises the hand of Aurora in victory as the crowd cheers him on. He gives her a big kiss before limping over and holding the ropes down for her exit. She gets about halfway out of the ring before turning back and looking at the mask laying in the middle of the ring.
Nick Stuart: Leave it be.
She turns around and walks over to the mask stepping over the fallen body of Hoyt Williams in the process. After a moment she gives a devilish look towards JK who shakes his head “no”. She reaches down and picks it up looking at it in wonderment. Suddenly the lights turn red, and the screen goes black with just the words “Mask of Malice: Chapter 2, Spring 2023”
Nick Stuart: I don’t know what’s going on but with the PRIME Intense Champion, the mask, or the future and, well, we are moments away from our Part One main event, the Berry Civil War!