NUMBER ONE, BY DEFINITION
A familiar piano sample begins to loop throughout the KeyBank Arena as PRIMEates rise to their feet!
OOH LA LA, AH OUI OUI
OOH LA LA, AH OUI OUI
OOH LA LA, AH OUI OUI
OOH LA LA, AH OUI OUI
As the beat kicks in and “ooh la la” by Run The Jewels (feat. Greg Nice & DJ Premier) blares through the speakers, three very dapper boys step through the back.
Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips, collectively the Glue Man Group, beaming with a lot of pride at the job their boy has done. Joe is in his usual bedazzled green suit that really hurts the eyes if the light catches it the wrong way, while Sid is smoldering in his suit. Both have party hats, because of course they do. FLAMBERGE, the aforementioned “boy”, looks about as extra as it gets…he’s got a bright copper coat that seems to be covered with reptilian scales and pokey bits and tassels and, somehow, not a single pocket, as well as bright teal tailored slacks. His yellow sunglasses, once perhaps made of plastic and available at your local discount bin, have been upgraded to yellow Wayfarer tinted Ray-Bans. The PRIME Universal Championship gleams around his waist, freshly polished and glorious.
Behold, PRIME. You allowed this to happen. The snowball was allowed to roll down the hill, and now it’s Move Or Get Flattened By The Fucking Boulder.
The Lizard King has come to collect. Again.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, introducing at this time…the NEWWWWWWW PRIME Universal Champion! FLAAAAAAAMBEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRGE!
Nick Stuart: What a remarkable 2023 this young man has had, partner – he became the Intense Champion after an unforgettable Pier Six Brawl against Anna Daniels, he broke – let me repeat, he BROKE – the all time record for consecutive singles victories in the history of PRIME across its twenty-plus year history, a streak that is still alive by the way, and he found a way to defeat the unstoppable Russian juggernaut that is Ivan Stanislav to claim the Universal Championship in the main event of Colossus. Unreal!
Richard Parker: All hail the Bearded Dragon, Nick! Nobody seems to be able to figure out how to deal with this, I don’t know, this ENIGMA, and just like the rest of the glue boys, he’s an ace. A weird, weird freakin’ ace.
FLAMBERGE grabs a microphone from a ringside staffer as his music fades out. It’s, again, not a full-on boo and CERTAINLY not a cheer from the crowd tonight – they’re certainly happy that the Russian Bear is no longer champion, but there is no love lost for the French Lizard standing before them now, nor for the all-too-eager Joe and Sid flanking him. Joe is going to town with his party blower, that’s how eager he is.
FLAMBERGE: This is the part where I say something bizarre, non?
He takes a look at Sid, who’s smoldering as always. He doesn’t say “hey” because that might actually break something.
FLAMBERGE: Let’s start with this – hey, hello, I would like to dedicate my victory of this prized Universal Championship to the one man who saw something in me that no one else did, the one man who unlocked the TRUE potential inside – PRIME’s first TRUE Big Bad, before the Russians or the Paxtons or the Vickies or the Farthington Jizz Pods or the Vampire Werewolf Boys With Stupid Little Tattoos ever sunk their teethy little teeth into this place – THIS IS FOR PHIL! ATKEN!!
FLAMBERGE unstraps the Universal Championship and holds it aloft, and NOW the boos come pouring in, because really, fuck that Phil Atken guy.
FLAMBERGE: Unjustly maligned, forced to retire before he truly hit his stride, the hero that made the bitch Brandon Youngblood choke on his own blood and spit and bile until the referee said “non, no more, this man has had the enough” like I wish so badly I had done myself – Phil, I hope to have done you proud. I hope I have shown PRIME what it really, actually takes to be The Man here in the big leagues. SOMEBODY HAD TO.
The boos are a roaring cacophony at this point – not only is Phil Atken among the most loathed figures of the ReVival Era, but damn it, they like that zaddy Brandon Youngblood, and gosh darn this French kid for disagreeing!
FLAMBERGE: Do you know what happens when you win and you win, and you win and you win? For nearly sixteen months, not a single fall to the pin nor the submission to the hold, and as the championship belts flow? Need I remind you – NOBODY in this company has been able to touch me! Not the Stanislav who whines and moans like a child that I was some sort of “surprise” when he had AN ENTIRE MONTH TO PREPARE FOR OUR MATCH…not the Tsondas or the Avalons or the Gambles or the Byrneses or the Anglue Gluechadors, all of whom have held the championship gold in the ReVival Era…not the Jonathan-Christopher Hall, winner of the Almasy and just warming up that windpipe with his gal-pal before it’s collected again…it has just been necks, and necks, and necks, and necks, and necks, and now that my mantle has become so overcrowded with the damn necks that I need to hire a contractor to build an extension? I AM THE TOP OF THIS MOUNTAIN. PRIME – I AM NUMBER ONE, BY DEFINITION!
Joe pats his best friend in the whole wide world, FLAMBERGE, on the back in excitement. Sid continues smoldering. It’s powerful.
FLAMBERGE: And so in another world, I may ask “whose neck is next?”, but we all know the answer! The man with the Golden Ticket, the Heart And/Or Soul of this place they say…the Jared Sykes.
FLAMBERGE: SYKES! I know you are here tonight, and I want to look you in the eyes. Champion to challenger. Wrestler to wrestler. I will not cower away, I will not complain about the HoRrIbLe FaTe of defending my title like my predecessor does, and still does, and won’t stop doing – we must measure, moi et toi. I am PRIME’s ace, and you are PRIME’s heart, and only one of those truths can matter the most in the end. Sid and Sid’s friend – hey, guys, listen, this is important – Sid and Sid’s friend are cool, they aren’t going to do anything to you. The Mustache has moved on after your Colossus clash, and I am pretty certain that the Cecilworth does not even want to be here right now – so please. If you will. Come on out.
There’s a moment where it just gets quiet, almost to the point where things start to feel a little awkward. Fortunately we never quite hit that moment of full-on please-Jesus-someone-say-something-we’re-on-live-television when that first note of Northlane’s “Plenty” rips through the speakers. The crowd reaction is about what you’d expect, if what you expect is to get very loud all of a goddamn sudden.
Tonight Jared is wearing street clothes and the expression of a man who’s not sure he actually wants to be out here right now. Some of that is probably the jetlag. Dude did just fly in from Japan after the Bang! tour concluded. But he’s here nonetheless, because he’s a little idiot man who sees a ring full of people keen on doing him bodily harm and thinks, “Visiting them would be a crackerjack idea!”
Still, he moves to the ring at a decent clip, and manages to secure a microphone from a ringside attendant before joining the Glue contingent in the ring.
Jared Sykes: Well… this is a little unexpected. You know, I just want to go on record here and say that I didn’t plan on crashing your party tonight, because after the year you’ve had… man, I think you, and Sid, and Sid’s friend have more than earned the right to brag.
There are a few boos rising from the crowd, because this isn’t what these people want to hear right now. For his part, Jared raises a hand to try and get them to settle.
Jared Sykes: No no, I’m serious. I know it might not be a popular opinion, but he’s right. This man has been on a run for the ages. He’s broken records. He’s collected half a billion necks. And he is the Universal Champion.
He turns his attention towards FLAMBERGE.
Jared Sykes: And… and… I know that moment was taken away from you at Colossus. I wasn’t going to be the reason why it happened again tonight, because I know what that feels like.
He offers an exaggerated shrug.
Jared Sykes: Buuuuuuuuuttt since you called me out here, I figure I get to tell you face-to-face. 2023 was a HELL of a year for the burning sword of Strasbourg, and for whatever it’s worth, you have my respect for that.
Somehow, despite all of FLAMBERGE’s earlier incendiary words, there’s a look of mutual respect between the two competitors. Neither man flinches, and in doing so, both have passed some sort of silent test with each other. Sykes holds out his hand for a handshake – despite it all, despite everything with Hanlon’s involvement with the Glueminati and despite Joe and Sid being mere feet away, he knows this is the right thing to do – and FLAMBERGE looks down at it. Then he looks at the crowd.
Is this the moment we see a flicker of Julien Lavigne slip through the façade of FLAMBERGE?
The Frenchman begins to extend his hand.
Nick Stuart: OH, WHAT THE HELL? WHERE DID HE COME FROM??
Cecilworth Farthington. Of course that fucker decided to show up after all.
Bent steel chair in hand, he sneers intensely at the crumbling Sykes, who is clutching at his back. Cecilworth gives him another-
-before ditching his weapon and diving in, looking to cause any kind of physical harm he can to the joints and ears and eyes of Jared Sykes.
…did FLAMBERGE just shove Farthington off?
He did. FLAMBO just pushed The Financier off of Sykes.
The two almost come nose-to-nose and start to jaw at each other. Lipreaders may catch Cecilworth saying something along the lines of “you don’t know a damn thing about what this is about” and FLAMBERGE saying something along the lines of “I didn’t ask for your damn help”. Joe and Sid are frozen, unsure whether to intervene, whomst’s behalf to intervene for, or if they should maybe start hitting Sykes too? No, they decide – FLAMBO’s not happy about the hitting, let’s not hit.
After a VERY tense staredown between the original two Crown Princes of Glue, Cecilworth rolls his eyes and backs off. This idiot Frenchman isn’t capable of understanding, and this conversation is going to take more time than he’s willing to give in front of a bunch of plebs here in Buffalo.
FLAMBERGE turns to the prone Sykes.
FLAMBERGE: That’s TWO you owe me now, Sykes.
Jared rolls onto his side and bites on his upper lip. Then, in a rare moment of pure, unchecked frustration, he pounds the mat with his fist.
Every time. Every goddamn time. Maybe one day he’ll learn.
The Glueminati all exit the ring to leave Sykes to his thoughts as we cut to backstage.