Backstage, in front of the PRIME Ultraviolence 2022 promotional banner. While it would look great with Brandon Youngblood on the left and either Cancer Jiles or Julian Bathory on the right, current uncertainty has prevented this and a blow up of the Universal Championship title belt itself in the forefront with markings that might make up the words ‘Who will be your MESSIAH?’ behind it certainly sells tickets and pay per view access.
In front of the banner, Angelica Brooks is waiting with her smartest business suit on her back and a microphone in her hand.
Angelica Brooks: We’re counting down the weeks to UltraViolence here in PRIME Wrestling, but we’re also counting down the minutes until undefeated PRIME Universal Champion Brandon Youngblood squares off against his top challenger, veteran wrestler Phil Atken! I’m currently standing with a man who knows both of these athletes fairly well…
Impulse steps into view, and the reaction from the fans can be heard from the arena itself. Impulse gives a small smile and nods his appreciation for their appreciation.
Angelica Brooks: You’ve famously wrestled the Champion in two of the best matches in PRIME since the revival started, and I know you’re familiar with Phil Atken from the other end of your career. What do you think their strategies will be tonight, and do you think Phil Atken is the one to climb the Tower of Babel?
Impulse: Seems to me their best strategies will be to play to their strengths. Champ has the height and weight advantage, the age advantage. I think his smartest play will be to try and end this one fast, fast, fast. On the other hand, I’ve never wrestled Phil but we have some of the same survival tales. You don’t get to be in your late fifties – jeez – in this sport without knowing what you’re doing. Phil’s gonna need to play it smart and keep him off balance, maybe drag this out as long as possible and try to tire the champ out before he can get his hands on him.
Angelica Brooks: That’s a unique take on this match. What sort of head space do you think they’re in right now?
Impulse: I wish I remembered who said it but someone on this roster previously – and accurately – referred to these two as the last two undefeated wrestlers in PRIME. They both have something to defend here, and for Atken it’ll be a validation of his entire career to this point, and for the Champ…
He stops talking and looks at Angie for a moment before continuing.
Impulse: I once described him as the perfect man to be the torch bearer as PRIME came back around, at least through the end of the beginning. Assuming I’m correct, which is always up for debate, now that his Unfinished Business© tour is over, he’s going to be desperate to prove that this isn’t the end of the beginning. Beyond that?
Impulse: Atken got himself distracted with the Anglo Luchador on social media this week, and while it was a fleeting encounter, you never know what’ll stick in someone’s head when they most need to focus. And the Champion? Still seems like I’m living rent free inside his head, particularly when you realize he feels the need to respond to every little thing I say.
Angelica Brooks: If we can focus on that for just a moment, you and Brandon Youngblood are two of the most well liked and well respected athletes in this company, but you just don’t seem to be able to resolve this thing between you. Is there a way to rebuild this respect?
Impulse: Maybe? I doubt it. It’s not a matter of professional competitiveness anymore. I can respect what the Champ has done in this company this year and in past years, and still look at his own attitudes and realize I don’t have any use for it. I’ve talked about this plenty and I don’t want to repeat myself ad nauseum. Professional respect is pretty straightforward to keep and maintain. Personal respect?
He seems like he’s struggling for just a second to find the words.
Impulse: The biggest sticking point seems to be my opinion that being in a company’s Hall of Fame does not – and should not – mean that respect is automatically owed to you. Look at my match at ReViVal 12. I don’t respect Nova because he’s a Hall of Famer in PRIME, I respect him because he’s never done anything to me to prove he doesn’t deserve it. If that’s above the Champ’s level, I don’t know what else to tell you.
Angelica Brooks: Impulse, thanks for being here with us today. We’re just a few seconds away from seeing former Five Star Champion Hayes Hanlon–
“Don’t worry, I won’t make you wait.”
From stage right steps in Hayes Hanlon, ring tights and boots on and shirt nowhere to be found. Angie shuffles over a bit, positioning between the Marathon Man and the Event Horizon.
Angelica Brooks: Timing is everything. Hayes, you’re stepping into the ring with “Beautiful” Bobby Dean in just a few mome…
Hayes Hanlon: Sorry Angie, I don’t wanna cut you off, but I only have a couple minutes and I think they’re reserved for this guy.
Hayes points a finger at Impulse, who gives a short glance, and nothing more.
Hayes Hanlon: (Gesturing to Impulse’s general existence, with mustache curling up one to one side quizzically.) Where does all this come from, Knox?
Impulse stares at him for a second.
Impulse: What are you even talking about?
Hayes Hanlon: Look, man. I know you won’t like hearing it from the rookie, but dude? You talk a lot about respect, but it usually has to do with earning yours. Isn’t that a little..backwards?
Impulse: Listen, Hayes. People get my respect, they have to earn my disrespect. And I’m focused on that because I’m me. I don’t really care who’s earned your respect or disrespect because I’m not you. But with the way you lionize certain people just for their longevity or accomplishments, it’s a little surprising that I didn’t make it onto that list. But I’ll be honest with you, Bambi…
The derisive name clearly causes a rise in Hanlon’s ire.
Impulse: Your respect, or lack thereof in my direction? Doesn’t really keep me up nights.
Hayes Hanlon: Ah, so I have a list now. Do me a favor, jog my memory about your accomplishments. You know, for my list.
Impulse: I’m not that guy, Bambi. I might have multiple title reigns on my resume, but what matters to me is the minutes in the ring. The opponents I’ve battled and the mark I’ve made all over the world. As a student of the game, I assumed that would be something that a wrestler like you would have already known.
Hayes Hanlon: All those minutes, and all those marks. And yet, none of them PRIME.
Impulse: When you can make an impact in more than one place… that’s when you’re the real deal. Open your eyes and drop the unquestioning hero worship, Bambi, before a bigger ass than me comes along and makes you pay for it.
Hayes Hanlon: PRIME is the “real deal,” buddy. It was the top of the food chain for a looong time while you were winning your Division III titles elsewhere, and I’m getting a little tired of you puffing out your 20-inch chest around here like it’s just another fed. As far as the “bigger ass” is concerned…
Hanlon looks Impulse up and down.
Hayes Hanlon: …then I guess that’d be almost the entire roster, huh?
The Event Horizon takes a break from the barb by smoothing out his mustache, then turns to Angelica Brooks.
Hayes Hanlon: I’ll catch you on the next one, Angie. I’ve got another egg to crack, and I won’t need help from MESSIAH to do it, either.
The former Five Star Champ gives The Marathon Man a half-assed two-finger salute before exiting the interview area.
Angelica Brooks: Well…
Impulse: Oh, that boy’s got a rude awakening coming down the road.
The Marathon Man exits in the opposite direction, and Angie gives an apprehensive look in both directions before we leave the area.