Backstage, Angelica Brooks has once again drawn the task of interviewing one of PRIME’s more colorful characters. Normally when someone has the unfortunate distinction of putting a microphone before Jared Sykes or his alter-ego King Blueberry, it’s done in a locker room or a hallway. Tonight, however, they stand in front of a PRIME-branded backdrop. This might have something to do with why he looks to be on edge. This, or the fact that the specter of retribution hangs looms his head.
The Blueberry mask still bears all the tears and stains of recent conflict. Despite the fact that everyone else has cast that name aside, Sykes himself still insists on wearing it.
Angelica Brooks: Ladies and gentlemen, Jared Sykes.
The Vegas faithful erupt.
Angelica Brooks: Jared, we’re on the last stop before Colossus, and the questions have been swirling after what happened between you and Paxton Ray two weeks ago. Can you take us through that? Can you tell us what you were thinking when it all went down?
King Blueberry: I don’t really know if I have a good answer to that, unfortunately. I know how this is going to sound, and there are going to be a lot of people who’re going to see this and think, “yeah, no shit,” but I wasn’t thinking. I saw Paxton, and I saw Justine, and… I dunno. Everything just went blank for a minute.
Angie nods, but doesn’t say anything, leaving him space to continue. It’s a trick also used by interrogators: when left to stew in silence, some people will tell you everything.
King Blueberry: I’m not proud of it, in case anyone was thinking that. Not at all. It just… It happened.
Angelica Brooks: I know there’s been talk in the industry of what might have happened if Coral Avalon and the Winds of Change didn’t intervene.
King Blueberry: I try not to think about that.
Before Angelica can ask another question, a blur moves through the screen and takes Sykes with it. The camera readjusts up to see that Paxton Ray has arrived.
Paxton Ray: Funny, I been thinkin’ bout that for a couple weeks.
Before King Blueberry can recover, the Bayou Butcher is on him, sending two quick left hands to the jaw. Blueberry slumps onto a nearby wall, and Ray grabs his head and slams it into the wall forcefully.
Paxton Ray: Y’know, I thought attackin’ from behind was a cowardly move, but this is kinda fun.
Paxton sends a punch to Blueberry’s gut, then hits him with a knee strike to the face. As Blueberry tries to recover, Paxton laughs.
Paxton Ray: Did ya know ya can get a rash from steel chairs? I still got ointment in my shirts.
Paxton is too busy cracking wise to notice Blueberry grabbing a poster from the wall.
King Blueberry: Fuck, just knock me out if you’re gonna monolog the whole time.
Sykes tosses it at Paxton and as The Lafayette Bruiser swipes it away, Sykes tackles Ray, knocking them both to the ground. Blueberry begins to assault Paxton with punches until the larger man forces him off. Ray stumbles away, but the tag champ follows him, grabbing a nearby steel chair to continue last ReVival’s furniture remodeling. Instead, Ray whirls around with a backhand that causes Sykes to stumble and drop the chair.
Paxton Ray: Knock ya out, huh? That can be arranged.
Sykes ducks a wild left hand and drives his shoulder into Paxton’s ribs, using his lower center of gravity to force him back towards the Argyle area.
Though she’s put down her mic, Angelica Brooks can still be seen in the background of this debacle. Making sure to stay out of harm’s way, it’s clear that she’s giving instructions to any nearby production people to stay with this.
Paxton is driven back towards the stairs that lead to the entrance stage, colliding with the steel railing. Despite Jared’s attempt to break him over the rail, he’s able to get a hand free and dig his thumb into the corner of Sykes’ eye. Jared stumbles back, and then a right hand sends him reeling through the curtain.
Nick Stuart: Are they coming out here?
Richard Parker: Buckle up, Nick. We’re about to have company!
The scene shifts. We’re no longer backstage, but are now out in the arena proper. Both men exchange strikes as they move through the narrow corridor between the entrance ramp and the guardrail holding the fans at bay. Right now those fans are ravenous. For many of them this is the closest they have ever been to a fight like this, and more than a few with they could get their own licks in on the Bayou Butcher. A soda cup flies through the air and explodes upon contact with the side of Paxton’s face.
Nick Stuart: I know that this is Las Vegas and people come here to take risks, but part of me can’t help but think that anyone foolish enough to throw a drink at Paxton Ray right now is gambling with their life.
Richard Parker: So what does that mean Sykes is doing? You heard what Coral Avalon told him last week about how the house always wins.
Nick Stuart: I’d rather not… OH NO!
Another fan, one who’s perhaps had one too many beverages of a different kind, leans over the guardrail and gets right in Paxton’s face. Before the MGM security team can intervene, he tries to shove the Lafayette Bruiser. He’s met with a snarl, and a threat that the camera doesn’t pick up.
Normally, this is the kind of thing that the broadcast team would be instructed to not draw attention to, lest another overeager fan try to follow suit. This is not a normal situation.
Nick Stuart: Fans, I think this would be a good time to remind everyone that the barricades are there for a reason…
Richard Parker: That might be the dumbest thing I’ve seen anyone do in the last year, and I’ve called matches with a mannequin!
For a moment, Paxton’s attention is diverted away from Sykes. The fan, now fully aware of what exactly he got himself into, curls up into the fetal position as a crowd of MGM security surge through the crowd.
A shout from Sykes causes Paxton to turn, and he’s met with a blow to the chest from a toolbox that had been placed under the entrance ramp. A second one to the ribs follows, hard enough to bust open the latch and send the contents spilled out onto the floor. Paxton drops to a knee among the tools, and the camera doesn’t see as he palms a wrench in his left hand. Neither does Jared, but he feels it when it’s brought up sharply into the small of his back.
Nick Stuart: Where the hell did he get that?
Richard Parker: I think when the toolbox exploded. Honestly, let’s all just be glad it wasn’t the screwdriver. Or a boxcutter.
Nick Stuart: Jesus.
Jared lurches forward and is forced to catch his balance on the corner of the guardrail. Now only a few feet from the ring, he turns in time to see Paxton draw his arm back again. This time when he swings the wrench, it goes low – real low – and draws an audible groan from the gathered faithful. In any other circumstance, Richard might be making a joke about how the world was just saved from having to deal with Blueberry children.
Richard Parker: That’s not… no. No, I don’t even want to think about what that felt like.
Nick Stuart: I’m starting to wonder whether we’re going to get someone out here to break this up before it gets worse.
Richard Parker: How much worse can it get after “bashed in the crotch with a wrench?”
Nick Stuart: Remember a second ago when you were talking about boxcutters?
Richard Parker: Ohhhhhhh. Good point.
Sykes begins crawling along the barricade, desperate to ignore the dull ache that’s spread up into his stomach and the sense of nausea that comes with it. Behind him, Paxton walks with the slow, casual pace of a man in no real hurry to get anywhere. His target’s been compromised and isn’t currently fighting back.
Richard Parker: They keep getting closer, Nick. It’s starting to weird me out.
Jared draws himself up using the ring steps in obvious physical discomfort. Paxton closes in, tossing the wrench lightly in his hand. As soon as Sykes is on his feet, he fires off a punch.
It connects soundly with the ring post.
The wrench falls from his hand. He tries to shake the feeling back into his hand and looks up to see a fist flying back in his direction. Flesh and bone and steel connect with his jaw and he staggers back. Jared tosses the wrench aside and takes hold of Paxton with two hands, giving himself a bit of a running start.
Nick Stuart: Richard, MOVE!
No sooner do Nick and Richard manage to get out of the way does Paxton Ray get sent flying across the length of the broadcast desk. He collides with the chairs on the opposite side and tumbles to the floor.
Richard Parker: Nick? Can you hear me? Are we still live?
Nick Stuart: Richard… yes. I think… Are you okay?
Richard Parker: Yeah, I’m… I’m fine, just – HOLY SHIT!
One of the broadcast chairs is sent flying over the table, catching Sykes unprepared and blasting him back into the ring apron. Paxton steadies himself on his feet and stalks around the broadcast table, grabbing one of the monitors from the desk. As soon as he’s close, he swings with it but misses wide and it explodes against the ring stairs.
The Enemigos come in droves. They pour from the ring entrance down the ramp, and are just about to intercept when Jared kicks Paxton back towards the guardrail, and then dive-tackles him over it into the crowd, taking out two rows of fans in the process.
Richard Parker: I hope they brought the tazer!
Security storm into the crowd, but by the time they’re able to get their hands on either man Sykes has already armed himself with a chair once again, bringing it down twice on Paxton’s left shoulder. Paxton growls and swipes at Sykes, but security has intervened.
Both men are separated behind the guard rail, and they each are essentially carried over the top and back to ringside. As they are both escorted out, Paxton Ray twists out of their grip and dives into the entire pile of Enemigos carrying Sykes, causing them all to fall like so many bowling pins. Paxton pounces towards him on the ground, but the security has regained composure, and the two separate groups – separated by much more distance – start to make their way to the back.
Nick Stuart: Well that was absolutely terrifying.
Richard Parker: And yet, Nick, it could have been so much worse. With chaos like this, I can’t even imagine what those two will do to each other when the bell rings at Colossus.