JONATHAN CHRISTOPHER-HALL VS. RICH PATTERSON
Nick Stuart: And this must be another one of our new faces, making his debut here in the Almasy Invitational!
Richard Parker: So am I to understand that this man used to be the literal monster Grendel from the epic of Beowulf?
Nick Stuart: I don’t think—
Richard Parker: Because I suspend disbelief a lot, Nick. But I refuse to believe this man is between 1400 and 1200 years old, as well as a mythological beast the likes of which inspired the early Anglo Saxons.
Nick Stuart: Can we just…?
Here we go.
Wall of sound. Moving around the arena like a shockwave clear-cutting a city skyline.
Strapping Young Lad’s “All Hail the New Flesh.”
The hi-hats crash — guitar unyielding — drums pneumatic. A wordless cry comes screaming out of a vacuum, and then:
# HEY, MAN, I’M GONNA FUCK THIS SHIT UP
# NO FEAR, NO COMPROMISE, I WANT IT ALL
# I WILL NEVER BE AFRAID
# I’LL DIE FOR WHAT I BELIEVE
Suddenly the lights are up and blinding. Rich Patterson hits the stage, one side and then the other, each a moment for himself, right arm held aloft, pale eyes gazing into the audience as though he’s taking inventory of every fan, every sign, every flash of a camera.
Vince Howard: Coming first to the ring…from Wonder Valley, California…weighing in at 238 pounds…they called him Grendel, but he IS RICH PAAAAAAAAAATTERSONNNNNNN!
As Vince Howard announces his vital statistics over the heavy percussion of the song, Patterson tramps down the rampway, meeting a few outstretched hands with his own, up the steps to the apron, through the ropes, and into the squared circle.
# AND ALL YOU ARE IS ALL YOU ARE
# I’M SO SORRY FOR YOU — SORRY
# SO ALL HAIL THE NEW FLESH
# CUZ IT SUITS ME FINE
He heads to the far corner and shakes the top turnbuckle, backs into it, and settles there, awaiting the sound of the bell.
On the outside, Alexei Ruslan leans over and says something inaudible to the omnipresent Ivan Stanislav.
The lights kick out again, then a single spotlight appears at the top of the entrance.
“I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith begins and the crowd boos LOUDLY. From underneath a lift in the middle of the rampway, and a twirling lift at that, Jonathan-Christopher and Vickie Hall are revealed to be arm-in-arm, nuzzling each other’s chests.
Nick Stuart: I’m going to vomit.
Richard Parker: I’m going to cry!
Before the Amazing Life Partners lift their heads off each other, a film crew rolls out from behind the curtains. There are three men with cameras in their hands, attempting to capture every moment and detail between the two. The cameramen are dressed in gray outfits with an ‘ESPN’ tag on the back of their jackets.
Richard Parker: Yes! Let’s put that documentary out there! Will it be on Netflix? Paramount+? DisneyPlus?
Nick Stuart: It’ll be on ESPN.
Richard Parker: Oh, right.
Finally, Vickie releases her hold on Jonathan-Christopher but it’s clear he wanted to have more physical contact. Nevertheless, Vickie leads the way down the ramp as her honey buns and the camera crew hurry after her.
Vince Howard: Being accompanied to the ring by Vickie Hall and the ESPN 30 For 30 crew… he is The Forever Man… JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER HALL!
Vickie can’t stop spinning around and giggling into the cameras as they follow her and Jonathan-Christopher to ringside. Hall slides into the ring and then opens the top and middle rope for Vickie to enter. Dressed in the most adorable PRETTY PINK© little onesie, the polarizing manager (well, JCH offsets all the hate with love so, hence, polarizing) struts to the center of the ring and performs the splits, as PRETTY PINK© sparklers shoot off behind her and her man from the ring posts. Jonathan-Christopher helps Vickie to her feet and then opens the ropes again as she exits.
Vickie Hall: (To the ESPN cameramen) Did you get that on film?
One of the cameramen gives an over-the-top thumbs up as their theme music closes. Near the announce table, Ivan Stanislav shifts in his seat.
Nick Stuart: Is that a sly smile on the face of our Universal Champion?
Richard Parker: Big Vickie Hall fan? PRETTY PINK© is very close to Moscow Red.
Nick Stuart: I think it’s more likely that Ivan remembers how he stole glory from JCH in Rev 30’s Tropical Turmoil qualifier.
Back in the ring, Patterson and JCH circle one another. The crowd is buzzing, powered by their distaste for the Halls, and curiosity to see another new PRIME face debut.
The two men lock up. Patterson is quick to shift his weight, pivot on one foot, and get behind JCH. Patterson catches Hall in a full nelson, and then quickly elevates Hall up and…
Nick Stuart: Now that’s a nice full nelson backbreaker! Instant offense from Rich Patterson.
Richard Parker: (clearly reading off the Beowulf Wikipedia) “but their blades cannot pierce Grendel’s skin.” Yeah, not seeing anything about a full nelson in here. This guy’s a phony.
JCH rolls up and into a three point stance. He looks mildly aggrieved at the newbie Patterson taking it to him from the jump. Patterson stands his ground, and Hall, miffed, rolls under the bottom rope to the outside.
And on the outside, Jonathan-Christopher focuses on what’s most important.
Nick Stuart: Is he…speaking to his own camera crew?
Richard Parker: Absolute mogul. Content lord. Savvy personal brand.
Rich Patterson, it turns out, did not come to PRIME to be background b-roll for JCH’s 30 for 30. And the evidence is that he’s on the outside of the ring, and his elbow is spinning, and whoopsy daisy, it’s in JCH’s nasal cavity.
Nick Stuart: Vicious spinning elbow from Patterson!
The stunned Forever Man staggers back, leaving the opening for Rich Patterson to deposit him on the floormats with a judo throw.
Richard Parker: They want us to think that judo had been invented during the Dark Ages in Western Europe. It’s a big lie, Nick, and they don’t want us asking these questions.
Rich Patterson stays on the offensive, tossing JCH back into the ring, and separating Hall from his camera crew, and, most importantly, his ALP.
Vickie Hall: (perma-shrieking) You’re ruining the shot, Dick Patterson!
Patterson’s got JCH in the corner, and Hall covers up as if to protect from another elbow. Instead, Patterson backtracks two steps to the center, of the ring, gets a running start and…
Nick Stuart: Oh, that’s a MIGHTY corner splash. Now right into the headlock takedown! Goes for the pinfall!
JCH flicks his shoulder off the mat right after Ashley Barlow’s second count. He may be a weasel, but he’s a cockroach of a weasel. A…weaselroach. You get it.
Nearby, Ivan Stanislav chuckles at something Alexei Ruslan has said about the in-ring action. Both men follow Patterson’s next move with their eyes.
That next move Patterson’s got is to keep the pressure on. He “helps” JCH to his feet, and immediately grabs his opponent in a front facelock, lifts JCH to a vertical base, and…
Nick Stuart: Tight vertical suplex-backbreaker combo!
On the mat, JCH grabs at his back, underscoring the damage done by two picture-perfect backbreakers.
Richard Parker: He’s targeting the back. Just what someone would do if they WANTED us to think they were the legendary Grendel.
Patterson mounts the downed JCH. The St. Lous crowd, like all wrestling fans the world over, would simply love to see Vickie’s husband get punched in the mush.
Patterson complies. He goes right elbow, left elbow, headbutt, and repeats each cycle three times. A raucous crowd counts with each blow.
That’s three times three. And for the grand finale…
The coup de grace is Patterson rising to his feet, lifting his right elbow high, and then going into a sheer drop.
NIck Stuart: Patterson ends the symphony of strikes with a elbow drop and Jonathan-Christopher Hall’s gotta be seeing stars!
The cameras don’t catch it, but Vickie Hall, from the outside, yells in Rich Patterson’s general direction, trying to either persuade him about the everlasting power of love or maybe call him a dingus loser for daring to put hands on her guy. Patterson gives her a look, as if confused about her…well, everything, and then gives a “whatever” hand wave.
Richard Parker: Disqualify him! Disrespecting women has no place in PRIME! Is Ashley Barlow even an ally if she doesn’t DQ this misogynist?
Patterson, showing no signs that he wants to engage in any of the Hall family shenanigans, grabs at JCH from behind and pulls the man up by the chin. He tries to wrench at JCH’s arms backwards, though he can only secure the left. Hall fights off the right and keeps it free.
Nick Stuart: It would be bad news for the Love Convoy if Rich Patterson secured that right arm. That camel clutch the middle of the ring could signal an early exit for Hall from the Almasy!
JCH, in full weaselroach mode, is able to use his length to keep his right arm free. Instead of lingering, Patterson shifts into joint manipulation mode. He drops JCH’s head, and applies with both hands to separate Hall’s left hand into a v-grip.
Richard Parker: I don’t care for this.
Nick Stuart: The joint manipulation? The match? Rich Patterson’s offense?
Richard Parker: Yes.
You can hear the pained grunt of JCH as Patterson separates the Forever Man’s third and fourth fingers in a way that you’d typically have to go to a Saw movie to see. But more than that, you can hear the agonized wails of Vickie Hall.
Vickie Hall: (near tears) That’s his sixth and eight best fingers, you GHOUL!
JCH is powered up, at least somewhat, by the adrenaline from hearing his wife in such discomfort. He’s able to shift his weight, and effectively “pull the chair” so that Patterson, leaning over Hall’s hand, plunges forward.
Nick Stuart: He rolled him up!
Richard Parker: Ring the bell!
Ashley Barlow does no such thing, and points to the very clear handful of tights that Jonathan-Christopher just let go of. She waves her finger Mutombo-style at JCH, and signals to all involved that the match continues on.
Nick Stuart: These are the best officials in our industry, and Ashley’s all over the correct call! No DQ, but a clear warning for Hall, and the fight keeps going.
JCH continues to whinge at Barlow, arguing his case. Of course, there is an additional earful from Vickie on the outside. Rich Patterson, up albeit shaken, is not waiting around for an invitation.
Nick Stuart: And there’s Patterson back on offense with the jumping knee strike!
The knee strike is a glancing blow due to JCH seeing it at the last minute. But even the glancing blow has the Love Convoy headman staggered to the side. With Hall having an uneven base, the man formerly known as Grendel drops JCH once again with a vicious palm strike.
Richard Parker: This man hates LOVE, Nick. How can you defend this?
Nick Stuart: I think he may just want to impress and win the Almasy Invitational. He’s the one who happens to be taking this match seriously.
Richard Parker: What could be more serious than documenting and preserving this match for a future captive audience on ESPN+?
JCH is on jelly legs now. He’s back up, but not for long. Hall wobbles against the ropes, providing him a bit of a bounce. On the other side of the ring, Rich Patterson runs himself off the ropes.
JCH isn’t on jelly legs now.
He’s on his back.
Nick Stuart: And that’s Grendel’s Hammer! Patterson’s patented Polish hammer!
Richard Parker: Do something, somebody! ESPN! Bob Iger! Beowulf! PROTECT HIM!
No protection now. Patterson drops and hooks the leg.
JCH looks like the blow might have knocked him into another century.
Ashley Barlow’s second hand hits the mat, and there’s nothing doing.
And that’s your winner.
The timekeeper is really shitting the bed in this one, huh?
Nick Stuart: Oh, COME ON!
Richard Parker: The absolutely unconquerable power of love, Nick. I have to admit: I feel like a romantic at times like this.
The cause for consternation is, yes, Vickie Hall. She’s also the reason there’s no bell. At about 2.6, Vickie, in Ashley Barlow’s blind spot, put her husband’s left foot on the bottom rope. Barlow points to the foot on the rope, and despite Patterson’s protest, she shakes her head and mouths “foot on the rope, match continues.”
Nick Stuart: Could we get through ONE Jonathan-Christopher Hall match without the extracurricular chicanery?
Richard Parker: I’m sorry that a loving, traditional, nuclear American family is “chicanery.” Not everyone is in a polyamorous quadruple with an anime pillow.
Nick Stuart: Oddly…specific suggestion.
Richard Parker: And we’re back to the in-ring action!
Rich Patterson is clearly frustrated, but he does his best to keep his focus on the actual opponent at hand, instead of the ringside harpy. That doesn’t stop her one bit.
Vickie Hall: (shrieking, so much shrieking) You’re not half the man my Amazing Life Partner is!
Patterson flips Vickie Hall a bird, and stays on task. She responds with grace and dignity.
Ha, kidding, kidding.
Just like that, she’s up on the apron, getting in Rich Patterson’s face.
Nick Stuart: (sigh) Vickie Hall is…making her presence felt.
Vickie Hall: (always with the shrieking) You are a RUDE and NASTY man!
Ashley Barlow steps in the middle, trying to instruct the alpha Hall back down onto the outside. Patterson keeps his gaze darting between Vickie and her husband, expecting some nasty work from one or the other.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall doesn’t know everything about a wrestling ring. But he knows what to do when you catch your opponent in a half-second of distraction. JCH watches Patterson’s eyes flick towards his wife, and JCH lunges from the mat at Patterson with an upper cut. Physics work like this: if you’re on the ground, and you unleash a gnarly uppercut towards a standing opponent, a certain result is guaranteed.
Richard Parker: NARDS!
Nick Stuart: Low blow!
JCH rolls up Patterson. Vickie points over Ashley Barlow’s shoulder, but Barlow insists not until Vickie’s off the apron. All of a sudden compliant, Vickie Hall hops down, Barlow turns around in time to count.
Nick Stuart: Don’t ruin this promising debut like this!
Richard Parker: Welcome to the big leagues, rook!
Nick Stuart: Kickout! Patterson stays alive!
The crowd may be behind him, but Patterson is now on the defense. He shields himself from several vicious kicks to the ribs. JCH is worse for the wear, but he’s finally got a chance to go on offense. He seizes it by stomping away at Patterson’s midsection.
On the outside, Ivan Stanislav and Alexei Ruslan may or may not be discussing in Russian the merits of Vickie Hall. Something like: she is alpha, this Vickie Hall; she must have Russian blood somewhere in her family.
Nick Stuart: That low blow may not have won the match, but it has changed the complexion entirely.
JCH pulls Patterson up, wailing away with a double axe handle at Patterson’s back to keep him doubled over. JCH grabs him and shoots him at the opposite rope.
Usually, being shot at the rope means you come off the ropes. Rich Patterson doesn’t get the luxury.
It’s just a small hook of his boot, an easily missable sleight of hand by Vickie Hall. But she stops Rich Patterson’s momentum, and even though he’s been staying laser-focusd on the challenge in front of him, it’s human nature that he turns and looks at the grabbed foot.
Richard Parker: These people need to grow up.
Nick Stuart: Just another blatant example of interference from the Hall household.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall doesn’t know everything about a wrestling ring. But he knows what to do when you catch your opponent in a half-second of distraction.
JCH grabs Rich Patterson’s arms, elevates his opponent and…
Nick Stuart: Stand By Me!
The Forever Man hooks the leg of his downed opponent.
Richard Parker: Bring that W home to your stunning wife, stud!
Nothing to do but the formality.
DING DING DING!
Vickie’s up on the apron before the third strike of the bell even hits. She uses hand gestures to direct the camera crew to make sure they get this next part.
Vince Howard: Your winner, and moving on to the next round of the Almasy Invitational, JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER HALLLLLLLLL!
Vickie enters the ring and offers a victory-nuzzle to JCH, who looks utterly winded, but has technically come out on top.
In the other corner, Rich Patterson beats his hand against the mat and stares daggers into the back of the Halls. Even a crowd acknowledgment, and a hefty portion of the lower bowl clapping for his effort doesn’t do much to soften the blow.
Nick Stuart: That is a rotten beat for Rich Patterson. He impressed, he showed out, and he may have an 0-1 record to his name, but he is clearly good enough to compete here in PRIME.
Richard Parker: Said another way: WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER AT THE HALL HOME TONIGHT, BABY!
Nick Stuart: Ill-gotten wins are clearly the “Hallmark” of the Love Convoy.
Richard Parker: Nick, you dastardly punsman.
Nick Stuart: Let’s head backstage for a word with our own Angelica Brooks.