NO HOLDS BARRED: THE ANGLO LUCHADOR VS. PAXTON RAY
Fuck the pleasantries, we’re right in it.
“They say it’s good to start a story with a tragedy.”
The chunky guitar riff of “Fistfight” by The Ballroom Thieves kicks in as Paxton Ray walks out under the PRIMEView. Paxton sneers as the fans boo, then slowly holds his hand up in the air.
The day I finally met you like I knew I would
You raised me from the wreck of my doubts
You were smiling to yourself as if we both understood
The silent language of the anguish of a heart that sings but doesn’t make a sound
Normally Paxton would be brought to the ring by his manager, Foster Nackedy, but that relationship has soured, and tonight Paxton is truly alone. He slowly walks towards the ring, looking around as the crowd rains hate down upon him. He steps up to the apron and steps over the ring ropes, then leans back against them and closes his eyes.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring, weighing in at 245 pounds…he is The Bayou Butcher…PAAAAAXTOOOOONNNN RAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!
Soldier Field goes dark except for the ambient light from the night sky, the Chicago skyline filling the air with light pollution. The PRIMEView lights up to show Paxton Ray holding a baby in the hospital, his face beaming with joy.
Nick Stuart: I don’t understand this. Paxton’s already in the ring.
The hazy, drawn-out vocals of Scott Lucas begin over a trippy guitar. “Manifest Destiny, Pt. 1.”
You’re onto something good, but I can’t believe it’s all that matters to you.
The screen smash cuts to Paxton and his daughter Nora smiling wide showing her first lost tooth, then cuts to a promotional still from the original photoshoot for the Fighting For Nora foundation.
A fool, who never seems happy when things are great.
Smash cut to the first video clip, Paxton Ray and Jon Rhine walking to the ring during a Fighting For Nora match.
It’s too late.
Smash cut to The Anglo Luchador posing with the infamous Paxton Ray/Nora cutout at Target.
Before you can think, the thought has entered your mind
Smash cut to ReVival 33, another video, this time The Anglo Luchador zapping Ray with the shock collar.
And it’ll be back soon.
The PRIMEview goes dark for a beat, and then simultaneously, the hard-driving guitar-and-drum assault of another Local H song, “Cynic,” hits on the Soldier Field PA while intense spotlights shine on the entrance.
It’s the Anglo Luchador wearing a white and gold variant of his ring gear and a gray t-shirt with black lettering on it. Familiar black lettering.
Nick Stuart: Hey, look at the shirt he’s wearing! That’s…
Richard Parker: A Fighting For Nora shirt. Damn.
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure if this is defiance, mind-games, or an attempt at Death-By-Butcher here, but you have to hand it to the utter boldness of the Anglo Luchador here.
Richard Parker: For once, Nick, I agree with you. In this one instance, I will put aside journalistic integrity and hope that The Anglo Luchador turns this monster into gator sausage. And then he can go back to losing all his matches.
Nick Stuart: Folks, my broadcast partner.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and weighing in at 211 pounds, he is the first Intense Champion of the ReVival, the Last Champion of Tenochtitlan, and he’s Fighting For Nora…
The crowd goes absolutely ballistic at the mention of Nora
Vince Howard: …The Anglooooooo…. LUUUUUUUUUUUUUCHADORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!
The Luchador stops his strong, slow gait as he broaches the ringside area. He removes the Fighting For Nora shirt and throws it to a little girl in the front row sitting with her parents.
There are no lock-ups. There is no feeling each other out. This is not a scientific wrestling match.
As soon as the bell rings, the two men charge each other and meet in the center of the ring to trade a frenzy of punches Frye-Takayama style.
Nick Stuart: This rivalry has become deeply personal between these two men. Paxton blames the Anglo Luchador for taking his daughter away. The Anglo Luchador’s brother, Mikey, has spent weeks in the hospital because of Paxton Ray.
Richard Parker: And there’s a real chance that one or both of these men spend some time in the local medical facility when this is over.
The fists fly seemingly without end, each man trading punches with the other for a solid minute. A right from the Anglo Luchador busts Paxton’s lip, but it’ll take a while before the broadcasters realize it. A left across the face from Paxton Ray connects with the Luchador’s nose, which begins a trickle of blood through his mask. The stand-up brawl only ends with Paxton digs both of his thumbs into the eyes of the Anglo Luchador and drives him down into the mat, where he attempts to spike his head over and over into the canvas.
It doesn’t last long, as Paxton quickly dismounts and moves to the corner where he practically tears the turnbuckle covers free from their positions.
Nick Stuart: We’ve seen Paxton do this before in matches like these, using everything that he can find as a weapon.
Richard Parker: We’ve also seen him do other things, Nick. Things that nobody should have to watch.
Paxton turns and is met with a charging lariat from the Anglo Luchador that sends both men over the top rope to the outside where the brawl begins anew.
An uppercut lands along the Anglo Luchador’s jawline, and he slumps back against the guardrail. Paxton leans over and begins ripping at the tape that binds the ringside mats together, trying to create some separation between them.
Nick Stuart: What is he… oh. Oh no. No no no no no.
Ray balls up the gaffer’s tape and casually tosses it into the crowd. Chicago has certainly seen its share of violence – both in and outside the confines of wrestling – but not a soul in this crowd is dumb enough to throw the tape ball back.
Paxton pulls one of the mats back, exposing a large square of the concrete floor underneath. He grabs the Luchador by his mask and drags him up to his feet, all the while maneuvering him to the danger zone he’s just created by the ring.
Richard Parker: Watching what this lunatic did to Jonathan Rhine last year is something I still see at night, Nick. I do not want to watch it happen to someone else.
If this was a normal match, Timo Bolamba would have already put a stop to this. There would be rules that he could enforce. At best, the offender would find himself disqualified. At worst, fined. Perhaps terminated if the offense was egregious enough. But now Timo’s hands are tied, so he’s forced to watch as Ray cradles the Anglo Luchador’s head under his arm and starts to hoist him up into a vertical suplex position.
Nick Stuart: No, there’s no way he’s going to hit that brainbuster! Not on the concrete floor!
Richard Parker is uncharacteristically silent.
Nick Stuart: Goddammit, no! Timo… someone… ANYONE… You’ve got to put a stop to this right goddamn now!
Richard Parker: God’s not listening, Nick. If she was, then we wouldn’t have to deal with Paxton Ray in the first place.
Time seems to stop as Paxton holds the Luchador in the air. With the exception of Nick barking into his headset at ringside, the arena is dead quiet.
But Paxton doesn’t fall.
There’s a brief moment of hesitation, and the Anglo Luchador – sensing the impending threat – starts to fight back. He tries to score a few shots with his free arm. His legs kick in the air. Paxton is forced to adjust.
Richard Parker: Tell me when I can look, Nick. I don’t want to see this. I can’t.
Instead, the Anglo Luchador is dropped stomach first across the unforgiving guardrail, and all the wind is driven from his body. It’s not a happy landing, but compared to the alternative it may as well be heaven. The gathered PRIMEates let out a collective sigh of relief.
Nick Stuart: Fans, I still… I can’t believe what we almost saw.
Richard finally takes his hands away from his face, opening his eyes.
Richard Parker: Oh, thank Hoyt. That could have been so much worse.
But it doesn’t get much better. Paxton reaches over the guardrail and grabs a chair from a fan in the front row. It’s not your traditional folding chair used at events like these. No, this one is a souvenir item sold as part of a premier VIP package. It has a padded seat. It’s heavy, sturdy – built to last on display for those lucky enough to own them. Paxton folds it up and swings, but not with the padded side.
Nick Stuart: Good lord!
Richard Parker: Okay, I’m closing my eyes again. This is a crime, and we’re both accessories for watching it, and I don’t feel like going to prison for Paxton goddamn Ray tonight!
A second shot connects with the Luchador’s back, and then a third. The Son of the Shogun manages to slide off of the guardrail before the fourth, which is swung hard enough that the chair is dented and a piece of the seat back goes sailing into the crowd. Thin rivulets of blood begin trickling down the luchador’s back from the places where a few stray burrs from the metal caught him.
The fan who lost their seat stares wide-eyed as all this is unfolding, weighing whether the story is worth the money paid for this experience.
Richard Parker: Tell that guy he can have my chair on the condition he calls the rest of this match, because I’m about at my limit for the violence, Nick.
Paxton pulls up the Luchador and rolls him back into the ring. In spite of everything he’s just gone through, the old luchador somehow manages to stumble up to his feet. He staggers for a moment, drops to a knee, and all but collapses onto the mat before trying to regain his bearings.
On the arena floor, Paxton has lifted up one side of the ring apron and has started rummaging around underneath the ring for something to weaponize.
Richard Parker: Oh, fuck this.
He finds it in the form of a large piece of lumber with one end wrapped in barbed wire.
Nick Stuart: For those of you who are watching and are new to PRIME, these two men in the main event of the first ReVival of 2023 in a barbed wire ropes match, and that was before things became overtly hostile between them. Given everything we know, and what’s happened since…
Richard Parker: You might want to turn the screen off now.
Paxton climbs onto the ring apron and is about to step between the ropes when he’s cut off. The Anglo Luchador comes barrelling towards him as if shot out of a cannon. A series of rights and lefts try to knock the Bayou Butcher back to the floor, but Paxton holds on with his free hand. He swings the 2×4, but the force of it causes it slip free from his hand and tumble to the mat. In response, the Anglo Luchador connects with a gamengiri that almost sends Ray to the ground.
Nick Stuart: New life in the Anglo Luchador!
Richard Parker: Honestly, Nick, I’m just happy we avoided having to watch another barbed wire murder.
Paxton staggers, one foot slipping from his perch on the ring apron, but his grip on the rope means he doesn’t fall. The Anglo Luchador looks at his enemy, and then looks down at the board.
Richard Parker: Okay, I might have spoke too soon.
He contemplates picking it up for a moment, but then gets a different idea. The Luchador builds up some momentum off of the ropes opposite Paxton. With Ray still wavering on the ring apron, the Anglo Luchador vaults over the ropes and onto his shoulders, twisting in the air and sending him back first onto the exposed concrete with an inside-out hurricanrana.
Nick Stuart: GOOD LORD!!
Richard Parker: True story… One time I dropped a watermelon out a third-story window, and that’s exactly what it sounded like.
Timo immediately slides out of the ring to check on both men, because what he and everyone else just witnessed was an absolute car crash. Both are stirring, though Paxton Ray is still mostly prone on the concrete.
Nick Stuart: We knew this was going to be wild, Richard, maybe even more violent than their Intense Title match earlier this year, and that’s why we have a team of medics close at hand.
Richard Parker: Does that include a coroner? Because I feel like we might need one of those before the night is over.
The Anglo Luchador gets to his feet, though he is noticeably wobbly and needs to use the guardrail to steady himself for a moment. Once he’s sure of his footing, he waves away Timo and connects with a pair of stomps to Paxton Ray. He pulls Ray to his feet and brings him over to the steel steps, which Paxton is then immediately introduced to. The Old Luchador slams Paxton down face-first a second time, and this shot opens a small cut just above his left eye.
Nick Stuart: Both men busted open, which should come as no surprise tonight.
Richard Parker: I’m surprised it took this long, to be honest.
With Paxton slumped in the corner where the guardrails meet, the Anglo Luchador puts all his weight behind the stairs and pushes them into a new position near the side of the ring, but around four feet out from the ring apron.
Nick Stuart: Remember, this is no holds barred, so anything goes here tonight, and it looks like the stairs are about to become part of the match.
Richard Parker: As opposed to thirty seconds ago, when they were also part of the match.
Nick Stuart: Look, this is a lot to take in, okay?!
The Anglo Luchador drapes Paxton across the top of the steps, and fires off five rapid punches to the spot where Paxton is cut, opening it wider and causing blood to drip down into the man’s eyes.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador climbing up onto the ring apron. What… oh no. This could be a bad idea!
Richard Parker: As opposed to what? All the good ideas he has?
The Son of the Shogun glances back over his shoulder as he grips the top rope from his perch on the ring apron. He springs up onto the second rope, and then vaults backwards with an Asai moonsault.
He lands chest first on the cold, unforgiving steel.
Nick Stuart: HE MOVED! PAXTON RAY MOVED!
The medics make their first move, stepping over to where the Anglo Luchador lays on the ground clutching his ribs. Despite sucking wind through gritted teeth, he’s waving them away and insisting that he can continue. The medical team scatters, but not because of what the Luchador says. No, it’s because Paxton Ray storms in among them, and reaches down to collect ol’ Anglo.
He grabs the Luchador by his mask, pulls him to his feet, and rolls him back into the ring.
Nick Stuart: Both men back in the ring now…
Richard Parker: They sure are, but that might actually mean things are about to get worse.
Nick Stuart: Why do you…
And then Nick realizes.
Nick Stuart: Oh.
There’s a block of wood still in the ring, and it’s wrapped in barbed wire. But more importantly, Paxton Ray already has his hands on it. He swings, and the barbs taste flesh for the first time tonight, digging into the Luchador’s back and opening up fresh wounds. He drops to his knees. A second shot clips his forehead, and a tear appears in the Anglo Luchador’s mask. Behind it comes a stream of blood.
But instead of falling over, the Anglo Luchador gestures for Paxton to swing again.
Nick Stuart: There is no quit in the Anglo Luchador tonight, Richard!
Richard Parker: I’ll take you at your word, I’m covering my eyes again. I don’t want to see what’s happening in that ring.
Paxton rears back for another swing, but a haymaker to the ribs knocks the wind out of him. A second punch follows, and Paxton doubles over. The Luchador rises to his feet and immediately snaps the Lafayette Bruiser down with a DDT. The impact is enough that the board scatters across the ring.
Richard Parker: Is it safe to open my eyes yet?
Nick Stuart: You might want to hold off, because the Anglo Luchador has just found himself a weapon.
Richard Parker: Okay. Thanks, Nick. Appreciate you.
Three successive shots with the wired-up 2×4 land on Paxton Ray’s back, each one shredding his tank top more and more until it’s nothing more than a blood covered rag hanging off of his torso. With the board in both hands, the Luchador backs off. He waits for Paxton to get to his feet, and then…
Nick Stuart: What? Why?
He tosses Paxton the board.
Richard Parker: Is it safe to look now?
And dropkicks it directly into Paxton’s forehead.
Richard Parker: JESUS HOYT CHRIST!
The barbs drag across his skin, tearing away thin strips of flesh and hair, and covering the Butcher’s face in a deep crimson. Paxton stumbles back and collapses into the corner of the ring with the removed turnbuckle covers. The Anglo Luchador uses the 2×4 to brace himself, and then charges across the ring with the barbed wire board in tow.
Richard Parker: This just keeps getting worse.
Nick Stuart: Paxton moved again, and the Anglo Luchador crashed into those exposed buckles!
Paxton slides out of the ring and once more searches for something under the apron. He wastes no time in finding it, and is immediately back inside with a black bag in one hand. He closes the distance to the Anglo Luchador with purpose and empties the contents of the satchel.
Nick Stuart: We’ve seen barbed wire, chairs, the stairs, and a man thrown on to exposed concrete, so what could possibly…
Richard Parker: NO PLEASE NOT THAT!
It’s a shock collar.
Paxton attempts to pull the Luchador up to lock that collar on, but as he gets close the Luchador grabs him by both legs and takes him to the ground. What follows is a mad scramble as both men jockey for position, exchanging mount and guard, to try and get the collar around the neck of the other. A left from Paxton connects. A forearm from the Luchador. They trade punches and positions around the canvas, but the longer limbs of Paxton Ray mean that he’s able to get behind the Anglo Luchador and lock the collar into place.
But getting the collar on was one thing. There’s still the matter of the remote control, which the Anglo Luchador is currently reaching for. Again Paxton dives for it, and again a struggle breaks out.
Nick Stuart: It’s a mad scramble for the remote!
Richard Parker: As long as they keep away from me, they can do whatever the hell they want at this point.
Paxton claws for the control, but the Luchador won’t release his grip. A back elbow from the Anglo Luchador creates a little separation between them and he gets ready to throw the remote, but Paxton grabs hold of the Luchador’s hand and slams it down onto the mat which triggers the collar.
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray just used the Anglo Luchador’s hand to trigger that collar, but it looks like both men are suffering for it!
Richard Parker: So am I. I know what that feels like!
After the first charge, Paxton pries the remote free from the Luchador’s hand and sends another massive current through him. It’s only a few seconds, but for everyone watching it feels like an eternity, yet eventually Paxton tosses the remote aside and makes the match’s only cover.
Nick Stuart: No.
Nick Stuart: Not like this.
DING DING DING
The ring is a disaster, the canvas painted with the blood of both men. The ringside area is in complete disarray. Both men lay spent on the mat. But mercifully, it’s over.
Nick Stuart: What a war this was. Paxton Ray probably thinks he’s gotten a measure of revenge in his head.
Richard Parker: He probably also thinks you solve complex math equations by punching them. I don’t think he’s the arbiter of what’s smart. Still, I learned my lesson. Never trust The Luchador.
Paxton reacts to his win, spattered in blood, most of it decidedly not his own, with all the emotion you’d expect out of the sociopath. The fallen Luchador, the white portions of his gear now stained pink from all his blood loss, crawls over to the ropes and calls over to the timekeeper for a microphone as Paxton slowly exits the ring.
Nick Stuart: What’s he doing?
Richard Parker: Knowing him? Probably something incredibly stupid.
The Luchador props himself up on the bottom rope, seated with most of his lumbar and his entire ass and legs on the mat. He lifts the microphone to his mouth.
TAL: You ain’t learned shit.
The crowd goes OOOOOOOOH!! at the Luchador on the microphone.
TAL: TURN AROUND AND LOOK AT ME, YOU STUPID FUCK.
The Luchador uses the ropes to get up to his feet, hunched over, visibly in excruciating pain. Paxton merely stops in his tracks momentarily.
TAL: You beat me, fair and square, I get it. I poked the fucking bear and I lost, but did you two scumbags really win? Do you even know why you have to go on this mad wild goose chase and why your ex-wife and your daughter are in hiding? Look at yourself, man. LOOK AT ME, AND LOOK AT YOURSELF, YOU SORRY EXCUSE FOR A MAN.
Paxton turns around and snarls before continuing his stalk back to the locker room.
TAL: You could have her back, not Melissa, she’s fucking through, but Nora. You could see Nora again if you two just stop giving into his bloodlust. Sykes tried beating it into you. Caes tried. Anna Daniels tried. I SURE AS FUCK TRIED, PAXTON. Maybe beating it into you doesn’t work because you like it too much. Maybe you need to hear it, loud and clear, in front of thousands here and hundreds of thousands more at home. You know what your daughter told me, Paxton? YOU KNOW WHAT SHE TOLD ME?
Paxton again stops momentarily before reaching the top of the stage.
TAL: She said “He isn’t my daddy anymore. I want my daddy back.” THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID. You lost yourself because you thought Jon Rhine, my friend, Jared Sykes’ BROTHER, would look good as a head mounted on your mantlepiece. Fuck that. And fuck you until you’re ready to be a fucking man, to be a fucking FATHER.
Nick Stuart: Did… Did the Anglo Luchador get through to Paxton Ray?
Paxton turns around and stares at The Anglo Luchador, his nostrils flaring. And for a moment, he takes two steps towards the ring. However, before he can get any further towards his opponent, a young woman walks out from the back and steps in front of Paxton.
Nick Stuart: Who is that?
Richard Parker: I have no idea, but she is getting way too close to the murder man for my liking.
The woman puts a hand on Paxton’s chest and stands on her tiptoes, whispering something in Paxton’s ear. After a moment, the Bayou Butcher closes his eyes, then nods. Without looking back at The Anglo Luchador, Paxton and his unknown friend walk through the curtain.
The Luchador falls back down to his behind, sobbing.
TAL: Man, I only knew about her from stories, and I wanted to help her more than anything in the world. I had her for six months, and she was like family to me, to my boys. sniff You’re her flesh and blood, man. Why can’t you… why…
The Luchador, strained from the beating, the blood loss, and his animated oratory, slumps in the corner. Timo Bolamba hurriedly calls for the medics to come out and attend to him as the camera cuts to our final commercial of the evening.