NOT DOING IT
Simon Tillier holds a microphone and looks directly into the camera. Behind him, a blue PRIME banner.
Simon Tillier: Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce my guest at this time… Ned Reform!
Reform, dressed in his civies and looking weary, moves into view. Uncharacteristically, he does not amend Tillier’s statement to include his academic title. Instead, the Yale professor simply sighs and rubs his temples.
Simon Tillier: Ned, at the PWA Supershow weeks ago, you teamed with your protegee TA Cole to take on HOW’s GREAT SCOTT and Stronk. It was a heck of a contest, but you found yourself on the losing end of that battle. We haven’t heard much from you since… where is Ned Reform’s head after such a significant loss?
Reform’s face goes cold. He squints… and looks Tillier directly in the eye. He moves awkwardly close to the announcer’s face.
A few uncomfortable seconds go by.
Simon Tillier: I mean, I’m sure you’re ready to pick up the pieces and get back to showing what you’ve got in PRIME… right?
Reform continues to stare. More uncomfortable silence. If one looked closely, one might swear they see a bead of sweat forming on Tillier’s forehead.
Simon Tillier: Ned… uh, Dr. Reform… I…
Suddenly, the tension is broken by a voice off camera.
??: Just the Ned I was looking for! Because it’s 2024 and Ned is still a popular name.
Ned doesn’t break his stare into Tillier’s soul, but the source of the comment does move into frame… it’s Abe Lipschitz.
Abe Lipschitz: Good news, Ned! I’m here to put a boot in your ass, Ned! It’s the American Way, Ned.
Of course, Abe is holding a literal cowboy boot in his right hand and points to both it and Reform’s ass to emphasize what he means (as if that were needed). Slowly… slowly… ever so slowly… the scowling PhD turns his head to take in this new arrival. He looks Abe up. He looks Abe down.
Abe Lipschitz: Yep! By way of a completely random draw, you, Ned, have been chosen to be the antagonist in my debut feud. And yeah, it was completely by chance, but it does kind of work! Right, Ned? I’m an attractive, fun-loving youngster who has a great connection with the fanbase. And Ned, you are…well, not any of those things. Two puzzle pieces with a perfect fit.
Reform looks back to Tillier. Motions for the mic. Tillier, happy to comply, hands it over. Now armed with a microphone, The Good Doctor turns his full attention to Abe. The tension is thick, Reform wears a condescending snarl, and The Sage on the Stage is surely ready to unload yet another classically annoying and wordy Ned Reform tirade. Instead… Reform shakes his head.
Ned Reform: …I am not doing this.
And he simply releases the mic, letting it fall to the floor. He turns, and without another word, walks out of the shot. Abe scratches his head, glances at the boot, and then over to Simon.
Abe Lipschitz: Oh, he’s freakin’ doing this. Whether he likes it or not. The Black Metal friends will rub it in my face if this idea doesn’t work. Ned, wait up! NED! NEEEDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!
Just like that, Abe follows after the Doc, leaving Simon both alone and confused while we cut back to the ring for our next match.