STRETCHER/SUBMISSION MATCH: EDDIE CROSS VS. DAVE GIBSON
The opening guitar chords and drum lick of “Paradise City” start to echo through the stadium. As the riff begins, the doors of the ambulance burst open to reveal Dave Gibson. Mr. Old School has a predatory smile on his face, dressed in a set of dark coveralls. His head, freshly shaven, shines under the bright lights.
Dave jumps down from the ambulance to a chorus of boos. Despite the hatred from the fans, Dave is grinning from ear to ear, reveling as he makes his entrance.
Richard Parker: Having not seen Gibson wrestle in so long, I’d forgotten how sadistic he can be. How driven he can be.
Nick Stuart: Back in his time, he was someone mere steps away from being a top contender in PRIME for the Universal Championship. He had some brutal battles, most notably with Brandon Youngblood–
Richard Parker: He is THE ONLY one to ever break the Gridlock without aid.
Nick Stuart: His battles in OSW…his battle with his opponent’s father…with PRIME Hall of Famer Hessian…
Richard Parker: And you know my love of Lord Cecilworth Farthington…but Gibson’s ability to grapple was the progenitor to the leader of the Glue Revolution.
Nick Stuart: And all that time away from the mainstream ring…in those North Carolina backroads…he’s been honing others. He’s never been far away from the ring. From the sport. And tonight, he makes his return. Perhaps for the first time time. Perhaps…for the final time.
Gibson’s eyes are welling up as he heads for the ring, but he blinks furiously as he makes the long walk. Slowly and methodically. Dave leisurely steps between the ropes and raises his hands, spinning in a slow circle before springing to the middle rope in the nearest corner, screaming “LET’S FUCKING GO!” to the ringside fans.
Vince Howard: This match is set for one fall with no time limit and is a Stretcher/Submission Match! The only way Dave Gibson can win is by submission. The only way Eddie Cross can win is by loading his opponent into the ambulance. Introducing first…from Charlotte, North Carolina… he weighs in tonight at two hundred and thirty pounds…MISTER! OOOOOOOOOLD SCHOOL! HE IS… DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE! GIBSON!!
Dave jumps back down and holds up one finger, starting to unzip the coveralls. Underneath, Dave is wearing an all-white suit, complete with jacket and tie. The fans oooh and ahhh at the ramifications. Blood is about to be shed.
The night sky above Soldier field is full of stars even as the arena lights go dark. On the PRIMEtron, a blue holographic woman familiar to those who have played the Halo series shimmers into existence and a light heroic music fills the air.
Cortana: They let me pick. Did I ever tell you that? Choose whichever Spartan I wanted.
A yellow comet appears and slowly streaks across the sky.
Cortana: You know me. I did my research. Watched as you became the soldier we needed you to be. Like the others, you were strong and swift and brave. A natural leader. But you had something they didn’t.
A smaller comet breaks off from the main fireball, and begins to descend.
Cortana: Something no one saw but me. Can you guess? Luck.
The smaller comet suddenly plummets down to the earth and crashes on the entrance with an explosion of pyrotechnics and smoke on the right side of the stage just past Argyle. The arena fades to black
Cortana: …Was I wrong?
The words echo into the night sky and the fans begin to buzz.
Sergeant Johnson: I remember how this war started… what your people did to mine. I’m not ready to forgive you, but… I am glad you stood by him to the end. …It’s hard to believe he’s truly gone.
Arbiter: Were it so easy…
The tragic final words of Halo 3 play as the music comes to a crescendo and the arena fills with quiet tension and the murmuring of excited fans. Finally the voice of Master chief breaks the wall of silence.
Master Chief: This is Sierra-117, can anyone hear me? Over.
No answer as the arena remains dark…
Master Chief: Infinity! This is Sierra-117 of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn. Do you copy?
Cortana’s digital form flashes on the screen once again and smiles.
Cortana: Don’t make a girl a promise if you know you can’t keep it.
Darkness one more time. Fan camera phones illuminate the arena like sixty thousand stars.
Spotlights illuminate a UNSC pod on the stage just to the right of the ambulance and the gregorian chant of the Halo Theme – Gungnir Mix feat Steve Vai fills the arena as the fans clamor.
As the chant comes to an end, the pod bursts open dramatically and the door clatters to the ground. Out steps Eddie Cross, wearing Master Chief green Spartan armor inspired ring attire. As the guitars and strings ramp up, he walks to the top of the ramp and looks ominously at the ambulance before turning his gaze up the ramp to the ring and the man waiting inside.
Eddie steels himself and closes his eyes, snapping them back open when Vince Howard gives his announcement.
Vince Howard: Aaaaaaand his opponent… from Orlando, Florida… standing six feet four inches and weighing in at two hundred and twenty five pounds… EDDDDDDDDIIIIIIIEEEEEEEE CROOOOOOOOOOOOSS!!
Screaming guitars and thumping drums play the young man to the ring. He walks with a purpose, slapping fans hands as he goes. As he gets to the ring, he hops up the steps nimbly and points at Dave then to the apron. He wipes his feet in respect before entering the ring with the heroic music filling the air through the arena.
Eddie leaps onto the second turnbuckle and holds his hands up, and the fans respond.
Across the ring, Gibson hasn’t taken his eyes off his pupil and watches as the man known as “n1ghtcraw1er” starts to remove his spartan green vest to prepare for the start of the match.
He never gets the chance, as Gibson charges forward as the vest is being taken off, launching into Cross with a lethal bevy of forearms, pushing him into the ropes and throwing a stiff knee to the stomach to cause the former pupil to his knees. Elvis Nixon thinks about pulling Gibson away, all as Mr. Old School stomps the absolute piss out of Cross, but thinks better of it. It is UltraViolence after all. He does what he’s supposed to do.
He calls for the bell.
Nick Stuart: And Gibson…Dave Gibson…in a PRIME wrestling match for the first time in nearly two decades…Dave Gibson ASSAULTING his former pupil from the very start here.
Richard Parker: The ARROGANCE of Eddie Cross. This man has gone and kicked your damn head in, he’s beaten you up, brutalized you, thrown you out on your ass…and the way you get yourself prepared for that IS TO GIVE YOURSELF THE BIG BOY ENTRANCE? Good Hoyt are you DENSE!
Nick Stuart: Different people get in the mindset in different ways–
Richard Parker: –and SOME PEOPLE get in the mindset by getting dirt stomped to death after their silly video game entrance! Here’s a video game entrance you should’ve come out to, Mister Crawler of the Night…PONG. Because YOU’RE ABOUT TO HAVE YOUR ASS BEAT from one side of the ring to the other, to the other, to the other, and then, you’re going to urinate all over yourself as you cry in submission!
Mr. Old School is good, grabbing onto the face of Cross, looking to measure him to drive a knee into his neck. Not the face, but the neck. And as he does, Eddie manages to grab onto him, getting a roll up.
Richard Parker: WHAT AN IDIO–
Yes, there are no pinfalls in this Stretcher/Submission match. Eddie Cross is very very dumb. A total idiot. A moron. Except…he never did the move to get a pin. The snatch, the pull, the roll, it pins Gibson’s shoulders to the mat, but only briefly. The scramble afterward has Cross rising first and clubbing Dave’s ear with an open handed palm strike that discombobulates the long retired but seasoned pro, dropping him to a knee. Before he can get back to his feet, Cross absolutely blasts him in the chest with a penalty kick.
Gibbo crumples, but Cross gives him no quarter, diving on top of him, driving his elbows into his head as he does, bellowing, roaring, full of adrenaline.
Nick Stuart: You were saying, Richard?
Richard Parker: Hooooooooly Hoooooyt.
Gibson is taking a BRUTAL pounding. All white attire harkens to what is to come, but the beginning stanza of this has already begun, the blood flowing from the head of Mr. Old School. It’s nasty, the gash finding no relief as Eddie continuously finds it, blow after blow, all as Gibson throws his hands up, trying to guard, to find something, anything to stop the onslaught. Nothing.
Nick Stuart: This match…THIS MATCH…it only ends if Gibson goes out in the back of that ambulance or if Eddie Cross submits…but…
Richard Parker: You’re already asking if this might just be stopped right here.
Nick Stuart: Certain fighting organizations might have already called a stop to this–
Richard Parker: But Gibson is still trying to–
Nick Stuart: And someone needs to think of the wrestler’s well being–
Richard Parker: That DEFINITELY isn’t Eddie Cross right now–
Nick Stuart: Perhaps the medics can pull a stretcher OOOOH! OH NO!
Richard Parker: You were saying…Nick?
His head bounced off the canvas like a basketball, leaving a splotch, Gibson is in survival mode, and manages, finally, to get a thumb in eye of Eddie Cross. Not just a thumb, but a thumbnail. The young star yelps instinctively, grabbing for his eye, rolling on the mat, his legs kicking at it, his free hand slamming and reverberating through the boards.
Nick Stuart: That looked HIDEOUS when we–don’t show a replay of…
Richard Parker: OOOOOOH!
A replay on the screen shows that Gibson’s thumb sunk deeper than originally anticipated. Enough to push the eye uncomfortably from the socket. A point of reference? Allan Ray of Villanova. You may search if you wish. The fans in Chicago audibly gasp. But they do even more when Cross lifts his head from the canvas, gets to his knees, and PUSHES his eye back into place.
Richard Parker: I want to throw up–
Gibson is up, throwing a knee to the back of Cross’s neck, grabbing on the jaw, driving the point of his knee and yanking back with a chin lock. The blood is absolutely flowing from him in spurts, but the furious look in his own eyes flashes starkly, hauntingly out of the mask.
Nick Stuart: This is looking just…OHHHH!
Richard Parker: BRAINPAN TO THE MUSH!
Cross threw his head back, smashing into the nose and teeth of Gibson. Mr. Old School reaches for his mouth, stunned, dazed, and then eats a knee to the face.
Nick Stuart: This…this is a fight. Not much wrestling–
Richard Parker: For these two, survival is on the line–\
Nick Stuart: Cross lifting Gibson up and you can see…you can SEE…that one eye is closed, and he’s gritting his teeth, front chancery–
Richard Parker: Gibson escapes!
Nick Stuart: And Gibson wrapping his arms around the neck rear naked–OH! CROSS DROPS! JAWBREAKER REVERSAL. And Cross lifting Gibson up again with that facelock…slingshots him into the ropes FALCON ARROW!
Richard Parker: HE TOOK THAT FROM GIBSON!
Nick Stuart: THE THROWBACK! THE THROWBACK! Cross isn’t done! He has Gibson up and he BIELS him across the ring! What strength shown by Eddie Cross!
Richard Parker: Gibson trying to rise–
Nick Stuart: TRIGGER WARNING! FLYING KNEE STRIKE CONNECTS WITH THE BRIDGE OF GIBSON’S NOSE!
Richard Parker: Those fancy tights are ruined and stained now!
Gibson rises almost instantly, legs wobbly, and throws a wild haymaker swing at nothing. He then collapses, only to try and rise again, using the ropes to make his attempt. And as he does? Eddie Cross charges forward, blasting into him with a clothesline that sends the two of them ass over teakettle to the outside with a BRUTAL fall!
Nick Stuart: The violence here…that fall…
Richard Parker: Gibson looks like he landed awkwardly–
Nick Stuart: Cross narrowly avoided on top of his own head. The velocity he used to launch into Gibson–
Richard Parker: Those simple submission attempts by Gibson, those torquing holds, to see Eddie have answers to them, the perfect answers…it has to have Mr. Old School thinking maybe he bit off a bit more than he could chew…or maybe it’s the blood loss. Definitely the blood loss…
Elvis Nixon is on the outside. The ring isn’t necessary for the contest from the Gibson end of things, submitting Cross can happen anywhere. And the ambulance? It beckons. Cross is stirring, and as he gets up, he goes to grab his former trainer, only to get dropped by a punch.
Nick Stuart: MY WORD! IS THAT?
Richard Parker: A chain. Gibson has a chain. And a bottle of rubbing alcohol.
Given the proximity to the apron, Dave reaching under the ring doesn’t get the most attention. But in the recovery, he managed to wrap his fist with a chain. Smirking, laughing, he unravels the chain, getting up, slumping against the ring apron, dangling it for the camera.
Dave Gibson: This one’s for you…Von Helsing…
Nick Stuart: Hessian? What does he mean?
A sliced end of the link. This chain came from North Carolina as well. A slight rust filters through it. Jagged rust held between blood soaked fingers.
Nick Stuart: Oh my word is he–
Richard Parker: He’s grabbing Eddie–
Nick Stuart: Oh that eye is SWOLLEN–
Richard Parker: A target…
Nick Stuart: No…NO! HE’S GRABBING THE EYELID…HE’S GOING TO SLICE THAT EYELID WITH THE–
Richard Parker: OH DAMN I THINK GIBBO JUST GOT LAUNCHED INTO SCHAUMBURG!
Nick Stuart: LOW BLOW! It’s ALL legal here and that’s a hallmark of Dave Gibson and CROSS with a russian legsweep on the stadium floor. He lifts Gibson up and LAUNCHES HIM INTO THE RING STEPS!
Richard Parker: Seeing that makes my entire body ache!
Cross, his vision compromised, he looks around as best as he can. Then, he finds it. The chain. There is no wrapping it around his fist. What there is? Him storming over to the rising Gibson, and whipping his across the shoulder with the chain link. Then the back. Over and over again across the back. Gibson tries to get away, stagger away, the chain leaving behind rust and welts, all as he hollows like a werewolf into the overcast sky. His entire body quakes in agony as Cross whips and whips and whips the absolute piss out of his former trainer.
Nick Stuart: This match…this match has been anything but a scientific examination of grappling…it’s been absolutely brutal…bursts of hatred, of pain… and where is Eddie Cross–
Richard Parker: Gibson tried to get away by going up the ramp, but…that strategy…it’s taking him closer and closer to the ambulance!
Nick Stuart: Where is Eddie Cross goin–oh no. Oh no no no.
Richard Parker: The rubbing alcohol–
Nick Stuart: Cross…oh my God…Eddie Cross is back near Gibson–
There is no dramatic pulling of the top off the bottle of rubbing alcohol. It just comes off. And then, the contents are dumped all over the back and head of Dave Gibson.
Nick Stuart: JESUS CHRIST!
Richard Parker: OH MY HOYT!
Like a demon soaked in holy water, Gibson convulses in conniptions. His hands shake. He roars in pain. And Eddie Cross? He throws the bottle against the back of his former teacher’s head before lifting him up and snap suplexing him on the ramp. He’s not down long, grabbing the chain, and continuing to smash it into Gibson’s flesh. Like the scalded dog he is, Gibbo scurries as best as he can, bringing him closer and closer to the ambulance.
Nick Stuart: As uncomfortable as things have been in the dissolution of this relationship, this match, its bursts of brutality, has been something.
Richard Parker: It’s just crazy to see Cross dealing with the adversity of what is going on with his eye. And he has to be feeling good about all this…
The stalking is taking Gibson closer and closer to Eddie’s desired and ultimate destination. And as if to help get things going, he brings Gibson up and launches him against the side of the ambulance. The blood smear as he falls is something to behold. Cracking open the latch, Cross drags the body of Gibson over, and then slams his head into the door, causing it to swing to a near close.
Eddie Cross: I!
The door is swung back into Gibson’s face.
Eddie Cross: HAVE!
Another slam into the door.
Eddie Cross: FUCKING!
Eddie Cross: LEARNED!
Eddie Cross: AND NOW!
The blood is becoming one with the ambulance.
Eddie Cross: I TEACH YOU!
And another brutalizing blow.
Eddie Cross: THE FINAL LESSON!
Finally, Gibson collapses.
Nick Stuart: These fans! These fans are roaring for this!
Richard Parker: Bloodlust! Straight up bloodlust!
The ambulance doors now open, the ending seems rudimentary. Predictable. Eddie Cross grabs the body of Dave Gibson, and looks to toss him into the back of the ambulance like the sack of shit he has been. But then, he stops.
Nick Stuart: Why is he–
Richard Parker: YOU HAVE THE MATCH WON! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! He HAS IT WON!
Cross drops Gibson, slowly making his way down the ramp, grabbing the chain. And as he does? Gibson crawls back to the ramp, splaying out after trying to get away as much as he could from the ambulance.
Nick Stuart: What is Cross going to do with that chain–
Richard Parker: OOOOOOOH! OOOOOH OHHHHH OOOOOOOOOOOH!
Nick Stuart: JESUS!
Richard Parker: A KICK! RIGHT! BETWEEN! THE LEGS!
Elvis Nixon and everyone in attendance, as well as those at home, wince. Cross doubles over. Gibson, for his part, grabs hold of Eddie, executes a desperation belly to back suplex which splatters the pair on the ramp. The proximity after the blow gives Gibson the opportunity he needs.
Nick Stuart: THE SILENCER! THE SILENCER! IT’S LOCKED IN! IT’S LOCKED IN!
Richard Parker: AND IT’S TIGHT!
In the world of PRIME, the cobra clutch was owned by Dave Gibson before it was Nate Colton’s. For the old fans, they know this. For the new ones, they know just what this means. End game. Finality. Inescapable. Colton claims the hold as a birthright, but Gibson…it is his body, his blood, his everything. Hold for hold. Mr. Old School.
Nick Stuart: CROSS HAS NO CHOICE! HE HAS TO TAP! HE HAS TO TAP!
Richard Parker: NEVER FORGET HE HAD THE MATCH WON AND HE DECIDED TO DO THIS!
Like a boa constrictor, that body scissor. In training, Eddie Cross has experienced this more times than he’d ever care for. Pitiful student. Never truly good enough. He didn’t have what it takes. THIS…is the final lesson for Eddie Cross. Dave Gibson was more of a father to him than his own dad was…and parenting is tough. Sometimes, it’s all about measuring your child’s expectations. Putting them in alignment with the real world. This isn’t your make up kid. Go home. Find some job that pays well. The sharks of this world know that you will never have what it takes to do it.
Nick Stuart: Nixon is close, he’s asking, he’s PLEADING with Cross to let him end this match–
Go home, kid. You hear those words from your REAL old man?
Now fuck off home.
Fuck off home, you goddamn North Carolina redneck.
A fist flies back, smashing into Gibson’s nose. Chain. Full on chain. And another. The hold is broken. So might Gibson’s face. Struggling for air, Eddie Cross grabs at his neck, but his eye, wide, his mouth, open, he knows he can’t stop. Can’t try to recover. Dave Gibson will never stop if he doesn’t learn the actual last lesson. If he doesn’t push himself through the limits he feels he has. Another punch. And then?
The chain. That jagged edge.
Sunk over the eyelid of Dave Gibson.
Nick Stuart: OH MY GOD!
Dave Gibson roars in pain, his hands wild. But with a grappler like him, any such reaching is to be taken as offense. One grip is all he needs. Which is why Eddie Cross stomps on his head. Which is why Eddie Cross lifts Dave Gibson up to his feet and puts his head between his thighs. Why he moves close to the end of the ramp.
Nick Stuart: He can’t be–
Richard Parker: HE ISSSSS!
Eddie Cross lands it and quite possibly breaks the neck of Dave Gibson for the final time. And he staggers up, using the ramp to pull himself up. The adrenaline rushing through him powers him through. He roars and pounds his chest. Then he looks at the lifeless body of his former trainer.
He lifts him up.
And slams him into the back of the ambulance.
The doors close.
The student becomes the teacher.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: HE DID IT! GOOD LORD HE DID IT!
Richard Parker: And he brutalized him!
Vince Howard: YOOOOOOOOUR WINNER…EDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDIE! CROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSS!
Like a Spartan, Cross stands for a moment, his anthem playing, raising his hands before slumping to his knees. He reaches for his eye, trying to push himself to his feet, but as he does, he falls to a knee.
It’s only after he does that he braces against the ramp, sitting over it, pumping his arm upward in victory. His former teacher’s blood is all over him, that wonderful get up completely ruined.
But after all the beatings and suffering, the end result? It makes it all good.
Because on this night, Eddie Cross proved some of his most vocal detractors wrong.
We then cut to commercial.