REZIN VS. PAXTON RAY
Vince Howard: The following non-title match is scheduled for one fall…
As Vince Howard begins the ring introductions the camera catches a glimpse of a collection of people standing near ringside for this match. Normally the PRIME medical team waits backstage in case something happens to a competitor, but when one of the people in the match is Paxton Ray the rules change a bit. In these cases, they send a small cadre of staff out towards the ring, so that if something catastrophic happens then can try to address it all the sooner.
Speaking of Paxton…
“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. He 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
Paxton 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!
The lights cut.
“I AM BECOME DEATH, THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS”
Off the sound bite, an exploding pyro rocks the arena, leaving behind a rising mushroom cloud of smoke over the stage.
Vince Howard: And his opponent… Weighing in tonight at 205 pounds…
“I Have Prepared A Statement” by Whores pumps in over the PA. The PRIMEview cycles through footage of nuclear explosions, weapons of war, burning cities, riots in the streets, and in-ring highlights of the Goat Bastard being his daring and dastardly self. Blinding white light fills the entry-way as the silhouette of a man steps through the curtain.
When the solo hits, the stage lights come up, revealing “The Escape Artist” Rezin. He stands in place for a few moments, defiantly staring down the jeering crowd with his arms outstretched into a cross pose, and then begins the trip down the ramp. Reaching the ringside area, he does a loop around the ring and works the fans standing at the barricade with a heat-inducing exchange of trash talk.
Vince Howard: The Goat Bastard… The Escape Artist…
Satisfied by their seething hatred, he slides into the ring, wraps his arms between the ropes when he stands up, and rolls himself back into an inverted cross pose.
Vince Howard: REEEEEEEEEEZZZZZIIIIIIIIINN!
Nick Stuart: There’s our opening bell, which means this one is officially underway. Fans, I feel like I should warn you. If you’re just tuning into us for the first time, welcome. But you should also know that one of the men in this match, Paxton Ray, is one of the most violent competitors we’ve seen in years.
Richard Parker: We won’t say what he did, but he will not be going to the happy place when he dies.
Nick Stuart: And the other, Rezin, is a former Universal Champion and in all the time he’s spent in PRIME we have yet to figure out if he has an “off” switch.
Richard Parker: What my man is trying to say, is this could get weird in a hurry. Or violent. Probably both to be honest.
Nick Stuart: So, if this is your first time with us…
Richard Parker: Yes, our ref is wearing facepaint.
There’s no chain wrestling, no feeling each other out. The fans watching this match aren’t being treated to an exhibition of scientific grappling and transitions. There is no feeling out process. Instead, both men meet in the center of the ring like the collision of a warm and cold front slamming into each other in the atmosphere, and a hurricane of punches ensues.
Richard Parker: And we’re off to the races, apparently! The punch races.
Paxton employs some dirty boxing. Punches thrown in the clinch. A forearm is raked back and forth across the bridge of Rezin’s nose. An elbow pops the former Universal Champion in the cheek. A rabbit punch just narrowly misses before Rezin ducks out of the way.
There’s a flurry from the other side. A kick to the thigh gets Paxton to lower his hands for a moment, and an open-palm strike lands flush on his ear. A forearm lands on his lower lip. A combination of a left, a right, and then a kick to the midsection causes the Bayou Butcher to take a step back.
Nick Stuart: Maybe we should get both of these guys corner men and do this in rounds, the way tonight is going.
Richard Parker: Wrestling? In rounds? Pfft.
Paxton snarls as he charges in, but Rezin ducks low and takes out the bigger man’s legs with a sweep. A snap leg drop connects with the back of Paxton’s neck before he has a chance to get his bearings. Rezin bounds to his feet and looks to push on, but Paxton has already rolled onto his back and a flailing upkick catches the Goat Bastard in the side of the head.
Nick Stuart: Things already looking ugly here.
Richard Parker: Okay, I know that these guys are both problematic in their own way, but you don’t need to get personal, Nick. Words hurt.
Nick Stuart: What? That’s not what I meant at all.
Paxton rolls to his feet, and then blasts Rezin with an uppercut clothesline. In an instant the Escape Artist finds himself flipping in the air ass-over-tea-kettle from the strike. He’s quick to his feet, but no sooner is he standing does he simply fall forward and face plant onto the mat. The Intense Champion snakes an arm around Rezin’s throat and pulls him up into a sleeper hold.
Richard Parker: What did he just say?
Nick Stuart: It sounded like, “Oh, thanks. Wait a damn minute,” and then he trailed off into choking sounds at the end there. Why?
Richard Parker: Huh.
Nick Stuart: What?
Richard Parker: I had no idea you were fluent in Crust Punk.
Referee Bolamba gets in close – well, as close as he can while being out of range of a flailing Rezin – to make sure that the hold isn’t straying too close towards being an illegal choke. One of those flailing limbs catches Paxton in the eye, and then Rezin – with Ray still on his back – charges towards the nearest corner and ducks down as he throws himself towards it. Paxton isn’t able to break the hold in time before his face is introduced to the top turnbuckle.
Rezin hops onto the second rope and leaps towards Ray looking for a tornado DDT, but he’s thrown off just as he starts the rotation. The Lafayette Bruiser reaches out with two hands, grabs Rezin by the throat, and lifts him straight up into the air. Naturally, an admonishment from the referee follows, because trying to hang a man is against the rules.
Nick Stuart: If he keeps going on like this, Paxton might be on the fast track to get himself disqualified.
Richard Parker: What’s the over-under on whether or not he cares?
Before that can happen, Paxton heaves Rezin off and throws him into the buckles. When Rezin stumbles out of the corner looking for more, Foster’s Psychotic Meal Ticket grabs him by the throat again, only this time he tosses his opponent towards the ropes. It’s only thanks to a last-second grab that Rezin doesn’t take an awkward tumble between the ropes to the arena floor.
With Rezin caught halfway between being in and out of the ring, Paxton reaches around his head and pulls him forward, using the top rope as a makeshift garrote.
Timo Bolamba is quick to begin his five count, admonishing Paxton Ray every step of the way for whatever good that does. The Bayou Butcher doesn’t seem to care about the slowly rising numbers, only in cutting off the air from his opponent.
Nick Stuart: I think someone needs to remind Paxton Ray that this isn’t an Intense title match.
Richard Parker: Cool. You let me know when you find someone who’s ready to throw their own life away.
Paxton breaks the hold before the five count and Rezin slides to his knees to catch his breath. The lecture from PRIME’s head referee continues, but the Lafayette Bruiser pays it little mind and steps right past Bolamba to get back at Rezin. For his part, the Escape Artist has spent the last few seconds walking on his knees towards the corner.
The Intense champion charges in with a European uppercut, but Rezin ducks out of the way in time to avoid the blow. As Paxton starts to turn he’s might with a wicked enzuigiri that staggers him towards the ropes where he tumbles over and to the arena floor.
Nick Stuart: Could be a big momentum shift here for Rezin. He’s managed to weather the storm of Paxton Ray so far, and now he has an opening!
Richard Parker: Which means this might turn into a car crash.
The Goat Bastard grins and then vaults up onto the top buckle. Video clips of what happens next will be uploaded to social media by no less than thirty people who would rather record things with their phones than watch the match.
Nick Stuart: Rezinsault to the outside!!
Richard Parker: Beep-beep goes the jeep-jeep!
Nick Stuart: Fans, I can’t believe what we just… wait… huh?
Richard Parker: What? The jeep? I said it would be a car crash. Don’t ask me about the truck.
Nick Stuart: (Sighing) What about the truck?
Richard Parker: It goes vroom.
Rezin is the first to his feet. He stumbles towards the ring and slides in, then waits a moment for Paxton to start to get back up. Once the Bayou Butcher is up, Rezin hits the opposite ropes and charges across the ring for a suicide dive.
But as soon as his upper body starts to push through the ropes he’s met with a discus elbow from Paxton on the floor. When you’re 6’5”, these are the things you can do. Rezin slumps against the ropes, and he’s soon joined in the ring by the Intense Champion.
Nick Stuart: And just like that, Rezin’s attempt to press the advantage has been thwarted. You know it’s been pretty even between these two so far, Richard. Trading move for move ever since the opening bell.
A left hand catches Rezin under the eye.
Richard Parker: Speaking of trades, I would like to swap a slightly used Paxton Ray for a human being with empathy. How do we make that happen?
Another left staggers the Escape Artist, but before he can fall to the mat Paxton Ray stamps down on his foot and quickly reaches out with his right hand.
And snatches Rezin by the beard. With Rezin’s feet functionally stapled to the mat, the Lafayette Bruiser pulls him in by the beard. As he gets close, Ray unloads with another shot from his left hand but doesn’t break his grip.
Nick Stuart: How many more of these shots do you think Rezin can take, Richard?
Richard Parker: Based on what I saw it take to put him away at Culture Shock, Nick? A lot. A whole Hoyt-damn lot.
A third punch connects. Then a fourth, this one busting open Rezin above the right eye. Referee Bolamba moves to admonish Ray for the hold he has on his opponent’s beard, but the Bayou Butcher is only stalled for a moment. He sneers at Bolamba despite the ever-rising count, and pulls Rezin in yet again.
Only this time Rezin puts all of his momentum into lunging at Ray and drives a headbutt into the bridge of the Intense Champion’s nose. Paxton crumples to the mat and brings a hand to his face only to pull it away wet, his own blood now staining the canvas.
Nick Stuart: What a counter by Rezin! He knew that Paxton was expecting dead weight, but Rezin put everything he had into that strike.
Richard Parker: There’s a reason they call him the Escape Artist, Nick. Sometimes it’s subtlety and guile, sometimes it might as well be sorcery.
Nick Stuart: So how do we qualify this one? A judicious application of physics?
Richard Parker: Nope, magic. Tada!
As Paxton tries to shake off the cobwebs, Rezin darts towards the ropes before leaping on the second and flipping back. Both feet land on Paxton’s shoulders and drive him face first into the mat with a moonsault stomp. Rezin rolls Ray onto his back, revealing a red smear on the canvas from the impact, and hooks the near leg.
Timo gets down on the mat immediately for the count.
Nick Stuart: Incredible move by the former champion!
Richard Parker: NOW DO IT AGAIN!
There’s a collective groan that comes off the crowd as they realize as one that Timo’s hand was about to hit the mat for a third time before he gestures to the bottom rope, especially the part where Paxton’s far leg is resting.
Richard Parker: Goddammit, Nick. I thought that was it. I thought Paxton Ray was about to join his manager in the Cool Helmet Club.
Nick Stuart: Judging by the reaction from this crowd, you’re not alone.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but I’ve seen behind the curtain. I know how these people operate. I have seen how the hotdog is made, Nick.
Nick Stuart: That’s… not a phrase.
An irritated Rezin rises to his feet, but before he gets fully vertical Paxton grabs him by the waistband and pulls him through the ropes and out to the arena floor. The Bayou Butcher spits a gob of blood onto the canvas before rolling under the bottom rope.
The Goat Bastard tries to stand, but a hard kick to the temple puts him back on the ground. Paxton moves to his downed opponent and drags him back to his feet. After wiping some of his own blood on his hand, he snaps off a jab that connects with Rezin’s jaw. This time Rezin finds his beard snatched by two hands as he’s violently pulled towards the ring steps.
That’s the sound Rezin makes when he’s snatched up by the face hairs.
And that’s the sound his body makes when it collides with the ring steps, dislodging one half from the other and sending it toppling over.
Nick Stuart: Fans, we know that Rezin is resilient…
Richard Parker: You’re supposed to pronounce it “Rezilient.” It’s like the thing that Zion does with the Z’s in words, but less cringey.
Nick Stuart: …but we’ve seen what Paxton Ray can do to people in situations like this, when he’s not confined by the ring.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but… oh shit he’s coming over here!
Indeed he is. The Lafayette Bruiser storms past the broadcast tables and rips the folding chair out from under the timekeeper before the poor sap even has a chance to stand up. He bangs it against the ring apron twice to signal what’s about to happen, and then raises it over his head.
This isn’t an Intense championship match. Those relaxed rules that won him the championship? They don’t apply here.
So when Paxton rears back with the chair and starts to swing it down towards Rezin, he’s surprised to find there’s resistance. Then he looks up to see Timo Bolamba reaching over the ropes and holding the top of the chair with both hands. What he says isn’t caught by the ringside mics, but the intent is clear. No weapons.
Richard Parker: Here’s something I never expected to say tonight: thanks, ref!
Nick Stuart: This isn’t going to go… OH!
Paxton pulls the chair towards him then shoves back hard enough to not only break the referee’s grip on the chair, but clip him in the chin with the top of it. He turns to once again level the chair at Rezin.
Instead, the chair is punted directly into the face of the Bayou Butcher.
Nick Stuart: CLOVEN HOOF KICK! CLOVEN HOOF KICK!
Both the chair and Paxton Ray fall to the arena floor, but he’s not allowed to stay there for long. Rezin pulls him up and rolls him under the ropes with a healthy shove that sends the Intense champ a few feet away, then pauses on the ring apron to catch his breath.
Richard Parker: Get in there and end it!
Nick Stuart: When did you become such a Rezin fan?
Richard Parker: Look, how can I say this delicately… Paxton Ray should be forced to sit in a locked room and listen to Jace Parker Davidson’s course on how to talk to women. On repeat. Forever.
Nick Stuart: Oh. Well then.
Richard Parker: With no bathroom breaks.
Rezin grabs hold of the top rope and springboards over it and onto the second rope inside the ring before vaulting off and executing a Rezinsault.
Richard Parker: Yeah! Rezinsau… oh godDAMMIT!
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray got the knees up! I don’t know how, but Foster Nackedy’s pet jackal somehow managed to get his knees up.
Paxton stands, but then stumbles back to one knee. He pushes himself up again and this time brings Rezin with him. A European uppercut connects with the Goat Bastard’s jaw, and Rezin collapses forward using Paxton’s torso to keep from falling over. The Bayou Butcher grins through a bloodsoaked beard as he tucks Rezin’s arm and drapes an arm behind his neck.
Nick Stuart: Oh come on, not this…
The boos rain down from the crowd as they start to sense what’s going on. Paxton grabs the waistband of Rezin’s pants and prepares to lift him into a vertical position. A cup of soda sails into the ring and explodes against the Intense Champion’s shoulder before he can lift Rezin up.
Nick Stuart: If he hits this tonight…
Richard Parker: I will totally storm the ring… In my imagination.
The Escape Artist is lifted off of his feet.
Nick Stuart: No, no, no…
When he’s raised above Paxton’s shoulder, he spins his hips and reverses the facelock onto Ray himself. When he snaps down to the mat, the momentum is enough that Ray is spiked hard on the back of his neck.
The crowd erupts.
Nick Stuart: INTO THE VOID!!
Richard Parker: Hell yes!
This time Rezin hooks both legs.
He pulls back with everything he’s got left.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… REZIN!
The medical team that had been nearby throughout the match now moves to check on both men, but Rezin brushes them off before beginning his journey to the back.
Nick Stuart: A big win tonight for Rezin in this non-title match, as this makes him the first person in PRIME to take down Paxton Ray in a sanctioned singles match!
The last shot before cutting backstage is of a seething Paxton Ray glaring up the ramp from his place in the ring.