Backstage, where the camera follows one of the dynamic young stars of PRIME that everyone is excited to see.
Only, nobody wants to see Nate Colton right now.
Whether you want him or not, here he is. Wearing his jacket, carrying his bag, walking through the halls. Catching a pretty severe side-eye from pretty much everyone.
But he can’t worry about that right now; he’s got a big match tonight, which means a trip to the locker room. He needs to change into his gear, focus on the fight ahead of him, get in the right headspace…but mostly, he needs to get away from the camera’s unblinking eye.
Nate does not acknowledge the glares or sharp whispers that go on behind his back; he just makes a beeline for the locker room. It is his home away from home, his sanctuary, his Mojo Dojo Casa House.
Nate Colton: Oh! Umm…
…full of people. A lot of people.
Very unhappy people.
Specifically, most of the PRIME roster. There’s the Anglo Luchador, with obvious outrage on his face despite the mask. Chandler Tsonda, his displeasure somehow softer than everyone else, as if he isn’t completely on board with what’s about to happen. Hayes Hanlon hangs in the back, separate from the rest of the crowd purposefully not making eye contact. Abe Lipschitz, still mourning his loss of Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration, stands quietly in the center of the mob. Rocky De Leon and Eddie Cross are whispering back and forth; Adam Ellis stares at Nate with just about the saddest puppy dog eyes you ever saw. Coral Avalon is on hand, even though he never goes to the main locker room. This might be the men’s locker room, but Justine Calvin is present; so is Kennade Starr. Not just the wrestlers either; Matt Mills, Elvis Nixon, and two or three Enemigos are there as well, representing their factions of PRIME staff. All of them staring at Colton; most of them scowling.
And there, at the front of the mob, is Brandon Youngblood.
He does not shout. He does not need to. His tone carries weight.
Brandon Youngblood: Nathan…
The tone of a disappointed parent.
Nate Colton: Brandon. What’s going on?
The question lingers in the air. A pregnant pause. Enough time to let anxiety sweep in. A stare, and with it, a drop in the stomach, a cooling through the chest and around the heart. Gooseflesh isolates on the shoulders.
Brandon Youngblood: You know what’s going on here. Right here. Right now. Don’t you?
Nate hangs his head a little, then nods.
Nate Colton: …yeah. Yeah, I do.
Brandon Youngblood: Scandal. Been thinking about it for two weeks…if you want to let THAT into your life…by all means…that’s a decision you can make and regret. But bringing her HERE…
Nate Colton: I know…and I’m sorry, all right? That all went…a lot worse than I expected.
The apology is not met with open minds or hearts, but rather a round of scoffs. Youngblood tenses slightly; it’s only his long-standing respect for the Colton family and his recent friendship with Nate that keeps him from boiling over.
Brandon Youngblood: So you knew it would be bad…but manageable? Controllable? Help me understand here…you knew she was going to be a problem. Prying into people’s lives. No boundaries. No conscience. This isn’t organized. We didn’t get together and plan this. We all MET here. Independent. So you tell US…you think it was worth it?
Nate Colton: I have my reasons.
This sets off a fresh round of indignation, with most of the gathered masses yelling at him at once. Strangely, this works out somewhat in Nate’s favor; if everyone airs their grievances at the same time, he can’t hear the specifics.
Unfortunately, the attention is about to be focused again, this time by an unlikely source. It’s not one of the veterans who takes center stage, nor is it one of the people yelling the loudest.
With the simple act of stepping forward and raising a hand, Adam Ellis gains the attention of the room.
Adam Ellis: If I can say something?
The buzz of griping dies down a little, and the young man from Missouri continues.
Adam Ellis: Nate, I don’t mean any disrespect here, ‘cause of what your dad and your family means to wrestling. Your dad and my trainer go way back and I must have watched a hundred of his matches while I was training. Your sister Jenny earned the respect of the MVW locker room with the way she carries herself. But with what your name means to the business, I just can’t believe you’d let that harlot in the building so she could say all those awful things.
Colton looks away, desperate to see anything other than Adam Ellis staring him down. But there’s no solace to be found in the room.
Adam Ellis: Y’know, me and Ginny just had our first anniversary…
Nate Colton: Congratulations.
Nate’s comment comes almost automatically, like his “Midwest Nice” training kicked in. Adam is thrown off a little, but continues.
Adam Ellis: …thank you. Should have been a great night. And it was, mostly. But that…woman…posted her trash just a few days before, sayin’ that me and Ginny were…
His face turns red with anger, but he pushes it back down.
Adam Ellis: …well, it was a big damn lie. The whole night we were out celebrating, what she wrote stuck in the back of my mind when I should have been focused on celebrating our first anniversary. You didn’t write the words, Nate. But you knew what she was, and you let her in here anyway. And I can’t believe that someone who grew up in the business like you would do something like that. This isn’t HOW. This is PRIME.
Nate Colton’s face had been burning with shame, but his mood shifts immediately after Adam’s last statement. For the first time, we see a spark of defiance in the Next Diamond, but before he can make a response…
Adam Ellis: And that’s all I’ve got to say about this.
Nate Colton: All right, that’s too far. I know I fucked up, and I’m sorry, but–
“Sorry, Nathan? Bullshit. You don’t even know ‘sorry’ yet.”
Another figure cuts through the masses; this one belonging to someone no longer content to wait patiently for their turn to speak. Justine Calvin has waited long enough.
She looks behind her, briefly taking in the attendance for this meeting.
Justine Calvin: Oh look, it’s everyone that I’m allegedly sleeping with in order to keep my spot here. How convenient for me that we’re all together in one place. Means we can get this over with and then everyone gets the rest of their night back.
Nate Colton: Justine, nobody in the world actually believes–
She whips her head around, shutting Colton’s mouth with a withering glare. She is hear to speak her peace and by God, she will be heard.
Justine Calvin: You know, I have been trying to get to this level almost as long as you’ve been alive. I’ve heard shit from promoters, from other wrestlers, from fans… Maybe you don’t give a shit, and that’s fine. I mean it’s not, but whatever. Ask Jenny about it sometime, because I guarantee she’s dealt with some of the same, even if she never told any of you about it.
Colton is visibly angered by that claim; his fists clench and his lip curls slightly. But he remains silent.
Justine Calvin: But two weeks ago?
Justine’s words fail her for just a moment; she utters a fierce growl before regaining her composure.
Justine Calvin: That might be the worst, most insane shit anyone’s ever said. And there was fuck-all I could do about it. Can’t swing on a member of the press – and I user that term super fucking loosely – because the rules are different. That would be a crime. So I’ll just grit my teeth and deal with it, right?
Colton turns his head, trying to look away. Justine follows his eyes, and walks back in front of them. This is your shit sandwich, junior, and I’m making sure you eat every last crumb.
Justine Calvin: And you should know better. For fuck’s sake, I’ve met your parents. I know they raised you better than this. And I hope there’s some real awkward conversations y’all get to have in the future, but not a single fucking one of them will be as much fun as any time I had to tell someone I know back home that, no, it was all a bunch of bullshit from a crazy bitch and none of it was true. So you want my opinion? Go fuck yourself with a rake.
She steps back into the crowd, and the storm of her outrage is replaced by a stifling silence. Now would be a good time for someone to come to Nate Colton’s defense.
This does not happen.
After an uncomfortably long moment, Nate draws in a breath and speaks.
Nate Colton: Seems like you’re all in agreement, then. Just let me get changed real quick, and I’ll be–
He tries to jostle past the Tower of Babel, but a meaty hand stops both his progress and his speech.
Brandon Youngblood: This place…there’s sanctity here. There’s trust. Yeah…some of us get private locker rooms. It’s a perk. But for a lot of us…we knew that when we’re wounded, when we’re vulnerable, when we’re learning…there’s always a place. You don’t see Paxton here because of what he did to Jon. You don’t see Cecilworth or Ivan. You don’t see a lot of people here…because you can’t trust them…you can’t trust their heart…
His words hang in the air for a moment.
Brandon Youngblood: I know what you are. In your head. But your heart betrayed you. And you…betrayed every single person standing here right here, right now. You’ve been around the sport long enough to know what that means. Don’t make me have to say it to you.
Nate Colton: …
Colton looks at the group again, hoping to find a single friendly face or spark of sympathy…but there are none to be found. Here in this gathering of his peers, Nate Colton is completely alone.
Nate Colton: All right.
Colton lowers his head and turns to leave the locker room. He stops just as he opens the door, as if he still has something to say…but what good would it do?
A moment later, he is back in the hallway. His feet carry him away from what used to be a safe place, and toward the unknown. As his emotions subside, he lets out a bitter chuckle.
Nate Colton: At least things can’t get any worse.
Oh, Nathan. You idiot. NEVER say that, unless you want to be proven wrong.
Nate whips his head toward the speaker, ready to unload his frustration on them.
Nate Colton: What?! What do you want n…
Until he sees who it is.
Nate Colton: …hello.
At first, the Queen merely looked displeased. Now, after the Next Diamond’s sharp response, she looks like she’s considering cutting his tongue out of his mouth.
Lindsay Troy: Going somewhere?
Nate Colton: I need to get ready for the match tonight, so–
Lindsay Troy: Don’t bother. I just got word; Cecilworth’s flight got delayed and he couldn’t make it to the States in time. Looks like you’ve got the night off.
Nate Colton: Oh. Okay. Thanks for letting me know. Are we gonna reschedule, or…
Lindsay Troy: We can talk about that in my office Monday morning, right after your performance review.
Nate Colton: …
Lindsay Troy: 9AM, Nathan. And if I were you, I’d make sure I was on time. You’re on thin ice as it is.
The Queen turns and walks to another part of the building, where no doubt something else will go catastrophically wrong without her presence. This leaves the Next Diamond at a complete loss…for words, for direction, for purpose.
Also, for company…but that’s just fine.
Nate Colton doesn’t really want to be seen right now as we fade to ringside for our next match.