NOT EVERY APOLOGY IS FORGIVEN
We cut from that ridiculousness to something a little more typical. A backstage area, Lindsay Troy speaking to someone, and that someone receiving a big cheer.
That someone is New Orleans’ own Jonathan Rhine. The New Life sits forward in his wheelchair, looking up at PRIME’s CEO with a sad look.
Jonathan Rhine: I don’t really know what to do, Lindsay. Gray’s was home to me.
The Queen of the Ring sighs and nods, solemnly.
Lindsay Troy: I know. You’re not one to give up though, Jon, and I’ll do whatever I can to help if you want it.
Rhine looks down at his lap for a moment.
Jonathan Rhine: Well you know how much I hate asking for help…but I would gladly take it in this case. Something needs to be done about…
Rhine stops as he notices Lindsay stare past him down the hall. Slowly, Rhine wheels himself around so he can see who is coming.
The camera pans so that we too can see who it is. And when we do, the fans boo.
Paxton Ray is toweling himself off, recently finishing a win against Rich Patterson. He smiles when he sees the pair at the other side of the hall.
Paxton Ray: Ah, Jon. Jus’ the guy I wanted t’see.
Jonathan opens his mouth to respond, but before he can Lindsay steps in front of him.
Lindsay Troy: Don’t take another step. There’s no way you’re getting within 10 feet of Jon after what you did the last time you wanted to “see him” in an arena in this city.
The Boss is, of course, referring to ReVival 23 when Paxton tried to throw Jon Rhine off the entrance ramp in the Smoothie King Center. It was The New Life’s first appearance back in PRIME since the Bayou Butcher paralyzed him at UltraViolence 2022; a shocking betrayal which left Rhine confined to a wheelchair.
Lindsay snatches her walkie-talkie from her hip and keeps her eyes glued on Paxton.
Lindsay Troy: Dam, I’ve got a situation with Chet’s Boy over by his locker room.
Dametreyus: (after a couple seconds of static) His dumbass kid?
Lindsay Troy: No, the dumbass adult he’s managing.
Dametreyus: Copy. On my way.
Paxton looks from Lindsay to Jon and holds his hands up.
Paxton Ray: Nah, boss, it ain’t like that. I’m done with that. I’m sure you’ve seen me apologizin’ to people the last few months. Figured I’d give the biggest apology left.
Jonathan wheels himself from behind Lindsay and crosses his arms.
Jonathan Rhine: Yeah. I’ve seen your hollow words. I saw Nate accepted them. Jared texted me to say he’s done the same. And I can’t tell my friends how to live their lives or who to forgive and who not to forgive, but I can make my own decisions, and I’ve already made mine.
Footsteps from behind the Queen and the New Life signal the arrival of the cavalry. Dametreyus and a cluster of Enemigos take their positions, with Dam standing to the front right of Jon and the Enemigos gathering on either side of him and the Boss. Bringing up the rear is the Bad Dog, Wade Elliott. A flinty scowl crosses his face as he stands next to Lindsay.
Safe to say that Dam thought it’d be a good idea for him to come along.
Paxton Ray: So I’m guessin’ that’s a no on forgiveness?
Jonathan Rhine: You’re working in a gym that you stole from me with one of the most evil men on the planet. That’s a “fuck you” on forgiveness, Pax.
Paxton Ray: Ya don’t understand. I…
Then the Bayou Butcher shakes his head.
Paxton Ray: Never mind. It don’t matter what the situation is. A friend tol’ me that not every apology gets forgiven, an’ I gotta be okay with that. So we can leave it at that.
He then looks to Lindsay Troy.
Paxton Ray: So now it’s your turn.
Wade instinctively steps in front of her, crossing both arms across his chest.
Wade Elliott: You oughtta think ‘bout slowin’ yer roll, son.
In spite of everything Paxton has been doing recently to try and appear more civilized, he still clenches his fists in response to Wade.
Paxton Ray: First off, I ain’t gonna apologize t’ya, Wade, ‘cause you’re an asshole and I ain’t got the chance t’do nothin’ t’ya, thanks to this one here.
Wade Elliott: (lifting an eyebrow) …thanks fer clearin’ that up. Don’t remember askin’ fer one in th’first place, but hell, if I’m such an asshole…
The Bad Dog drops his arms, and opens his palms.
Wade Elliott: …here’s yer chance.
The Bayou Butcher snarls, and for a moment looks like he may take the offer. He spits to the side, however, and carries on.
Paxton Ray: I ain’t startin’ nothin.’ I’m jus’ tryin’ t’tell my boss and your boss that she ain’t gotta worry ‘bout me tryin’ t’hurt anyone anymore. Jus’ in the ring from now on. An’ that I’m sorry for all the ibuprofen she had t’get ‘cause of the headaches I caused her.
Paxton Ray: She ain’t gotta accept it either, jus’ like he ain’t. But I gotta say it so I can move on. So there it is.
Lindsay Troy: Do you think moving on is as simple as giving an apology, Paxton? After all this?
She steps around Wade, who begrudgingly backs off a bit.
Lindsay Troy: It’s not only what you did to Jon, and it’s not that you caused me headaches. I put my reputation and this company’s reputation on the line by allowing you back after I fired you, and that’s not something I do lightly. Quite frankly, I don’t know if it was worth it. I don’t know if you were worth it, because this apology tour of yours so far has been a lot of talk and not a lot of action.
A couple more steps and she’s eye-to-eye with Paxton.
Lindsay Troy: Nate Colton wasn’t wrong when he told you that you had to prove you were sorry. You’re still a long way off from doing that.
Paxton Ray: That’s fair enough. And I’ll take it and try t’show ya more action. But I do gotta say this. I appreciate ya puttin’ your name on the line. I didn’t before, but I get it now. And in 2024 and goin’ forward, I’m gonna put my name on the line – as a wrestler, as a man, and as a father.
Jonathan Rhine: As a father?
The New Life scoffs.
Jonathan Rhine: You don’t deserve Nora.
Paxton snarls for half a second before smiling and nodding his head.
Paxton Ray: Ya ain’t wrong, Jonny boy. But I’m gonna keep workin’ till one day I might deserve her. Y’all have a good rest’a your night.
Paxton nods to the wall of people between him and Jonathan, then walks back in the other direction. Rhine looks back up at Troy.
Jonathan Rhine: I don’t buy any of it.
Lindsay Troy: Hm.
She taps the walkie-talkie against the side of her leg and watches Paxton disappear. Wade and Dam step closer to her and Jon.
Lindsay Troy: I’m not sure I do either…but I also think something else is going on.
Wade Elliott: If it smells like horse shit, it’s prob’bly horse shit. May wanna keep an extra set’ve eyes on that one, Dam.
Dametreyus nods at his former Co-Head of Security, and Wade offers him another sharp glance.
Wade Elliott: An’ you know where t’find me.
We cut to ringside.