NO TIME FOR SIDEQUESTS
The cameras are focused on the talent entrance in the new touring era of ReVival, the first show on the slate. The steel doors creak open to reveal the entrant as the PRIME Intense Champion. The top-ranked wrestler in the company. The man under siege in that show’s main event.
The Anglo Luchador.
Blue PRIME duffel bag. Khaki shorts. A custom t-shirt that reads “I won at PWA-1 and all I got was a fight with a murderous crawfish.” His lucha mask. And the Intense Championship, strapped around his waist. He passes a few people on his way to prepare for the horrors of war. Production assistants. Angelica Brooks. Elvis Nixon. Random arena employees.
And then there’s the French kid who believes he has reason to be mad at everyone and everything in the world, hand in a bag of Brets chips, teal hood on his zip-up sweatshirt draped over his head.
“FLAMBERGE. New year, new leaf. How are you doing?”
The luchador’s greeting falls flat. The look on his face could melt ice, especially as it leers down to the Intense Championship.
“Tu dois penser very highly of yourself, no? Do you EVER remove that thing?”
“If you’re asking whether I wear it to ShopRite or Wegman’s, or if I take it to my kid’s basketball practice, or whatever, no. But I’m representing PRIME right now. Feels only right to wear it whenever I’m on camera.”
“Ah, oui, of course you are the one who feels they represent the PRIME, like every other fossil here.”
FLAMBERGE pulls his hood back, and boy-howdy is his flame-like vertical coif popping off today. He takes a step closer to the 2022 Champion of the Year, sizing him up like every would-be tough guy in an 80’s movie.
“Yeah, I represent PRIME because I carry one of the titles here. I also went into the Best Arena and dog-walked one of their Hall of Famers and wrestled and won at PWA-1. But sure, downplay all that. Probably makes you feel better about successfully defending that Five Star you had a grand total of zero times.”
The luchador smirks.
“But I get it. That’s the lack of perspective that youth has these days.”
FLAMBO’s perma-frown grows and grows.
“Oh yes, of course, your last defense was against the man who thought they would make their le grand retour at my expense, the Tony Gamble, a man I sat up and put down, and the woman whose ass I do not kiss enough puts my first defense against the three men who may hate me the most in the company, oui, let’s talk about perspective…merde.”
FLAMBERGE steps closer again. The Champ stands his ground, which seems to catch the Kid off guard.
“This is cute. L’enfant Terrible thinks I am going to be intimidated by a stereotypically masculine show of testosterone. Kid, I used to be you. Then I dealt with scores and scores of you before I hung the mask and boots up the first time. Chill out before you pull this shit against someone who doesn’t have the patience of someone like, say, your mother. Just ask Mort K-whatever what happened to him when he ran afoul of Ivan.”
Eagle-eyed viewers will note that at the words “I used to be you”, FLAMBERGE’s eyes grow wide, vacant, and staring…not into the Luchador, but somewhere unseen. One imagines a growing ringing in the ears, a muffling of words into vague Charlie Brown Adult sounds. Cue the slideshow meme of the chihuahua’s Vietnam flashbacks. The nostrils flare and the wind of the exhale could probably propel a paper airplane.
“I said chill out, kid. Like I said, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf this year,” replies the Champ. “I’m not looking for any extraneous fighting that might take me off my game. I just want to get to my locker room and meditate a bit before I have to go forcibly cut the tomalley out of an overgrown crayfish, okay?”
Yet the Kid does not move.
It’s Nate Colton all over again. Maybe just as bad, it’s Brandon Youngblood all over again. Every dance in this company seems to start with the left foot for the French Phenom, and it’s all war dances here. Fight or fightfight, there is no flight. The vacant rage-stare twists into a face that would almost register as “listening”, if it weren’t for the fact that he still isn’t looking at TAL’s eyes…it’s every moment the relentless voice in his head seems to warn him about every minute of every day:
You’re not wanted – you were NEVER wanted – and so you must take.
His fist is clenched, he cocks back, ready to swing…
…at someone no longer there..
“Kid,” a voice calls from behind him, further down the hall, having slipped by him in his utter state of catatonia, “I told you, I have absolutely no time for sidequests. Big dumb ape, main event, remember?”
The shuffling of feet is audible in the distance. The Intense Champion is gone from the scene. Left only is a French kid, suddenly snapped out of whatever state he found himself in. Lost without a destination for his fist. Angry, as usual. And with maximum huff, he leaves in the opposite direction.
We then fade to black.