T.B. AND THE BEAR
PRIME Senior officiant Timo Bolamba is intently watching a monitor with a technician that is checking a replay of the previous action on the night at the referee’s request. He remarks to the video tech that he would like to see a pin again and pulls a stopwatch out of his pocket.
Just then, Timo jerks with a start as a loud, echoing laugh rolls down the hallway. It can mean only one thing.
Timo turns and looks down the hallway, to see the form of Ivan Stanislav, The Russian Bear, filling the entire aisle as he thunders down the hall towards him. Usually, when Ivan Stanislav approaches anyone, he’s roaring, running, glowering, sneering, snorting, yelling, stomping, and threatening. But this isn’t the case. Stanislav smiles from ear to ear in an almost comically unsettling manner that is the antithesis of his typical demeanor. He carries under one of his huge arms a large, unlabeled bottle of clear liquid. His voice booms up and down the hallway as he bellows with a chuckle.
Ivan Stanislav: Timo Bolamba! Great Lenin’s Ghost, it has been long time!
About ten feet behind Ivan, Alexei Ruslan walks with his hands behind his back, doing nothing but observing carefully. Ruslan stares straight at Bolamba, and he doesn’t look nearly as friendly as The Russian Bear. Timo seems gobstruck that Ivan is even here, let alone that he is acknowledging him in person. Jabber banter is one thing, but this is almost a surreal moment.
Ivan Stanislav: Twenty years! How time goes by, does it not? And now, look at you, wearing the zebra stripes!
Stanislav wiggles his massive finger towards Timo.
Ivan Stanislav: I always said this! Timo Bolamba is as principled as they come. Timo Bolamba always is man to stand up for those in need. Timo Bolamba always is man who sticks to self honor and makes sure things are done right way, eh?!
By now, Ivan stands just a foot from Timo, and casts a long shadow across his body. Stanislav smirks and lifts his square chin and still smiles.
Timo Bolamba: Hello Ivan, it’s been a very long time. Did you come to convince me in the ways of Lenin?
Ivan Stanislav: Nyet, I bring all the way from my own home some vodka made just by me! This present is for you! Chilled in Arkhangelsk ice!
Stanislav offers the bottle to Timo and grins still, showing his huge teeth. Timo looks wary, but The Russian Bear insists.
Ivan Stanislav: A gift to my old friend.
Ruslan does his best to appear invisible, behind Ivan, and continues staring. The Samoan reaches out hesitantly, and takes the bottle.
Timo Bolamba: Friend? I guess you could say that. Though my chiropractor is still charging me for the Red Scare you hit me with in Alliances 2001.
Ivan shrugs to himself.
Ivan Stanislav: What can you do about these things? Say, I heard that you are officiating great, long awaited return of Ivan Stanislav. I am certain you jumped at opportunity to be part of this historic moment. I not only wanted to find you because we have so much… history… but also because of how proud I am that you took up job officiating. If you may remember, poor officiating in the past between yourself and Ivan Stanislav resulted in tainted victory at my expense!
Timo raises an eyebrow.
Timo Bolamba: Now hold on a se…
Ivan Stanislav: Ivan is certain that you have agonized over such terrible injustice for so many years, you finally have opportunity to right that grievous wrong. For that, Ivan is grateful! It takes true man to admit the folly of those tainted victories!
The Samoan looks at Ruslan then back to Ivan. He does not appear amused.
Timo Bolamba: Ivan, you know as well as I do that those wins were legitimate. Sure…I never directly pinned you, but the rules are the rules and your team lost. I can’t help that I hold a winning record over “The Great Ivan Stanislav”…and I am surely not going to let you forget it.
Timo pauses before continuing.
Timo Bolamba: Come to think of it, I beat Meanstreak clean without a soda machine or anything to aid me. Did you manage to do that? I can’t recall. You two had so many great battles, after all.
Stanislav puffs up his chest a bit more and places his huge paw of a hand on Timo’s chest, but he still smiles. Nonetheless, the smile that once reached his eyes isn’t that wide anymore.
Ivan Stanislav: Now now, Timo, there is no need to get upset. You said you still have work done due to Red Scares back in the day, yes? I am sure it rendered your mind a little foggy. And I cannot be held responsible for any mishaps Meanstreak may have had with capitalist soda machine.
Ivan does rub his chin after a moment, no longer touching Timo.
Ivan Stanislav: I may admit sometimes it is blur, considering how many World Titles Ivan held in PCW and OSW. Always having to be representative of such lofty organizations. All the charity work Ivan had to do and public appearances.
Ivan snaps his finger suddenly, it might as well be a thunderbolt.
Ivan Stanislav: Speaking of which, since we are talking about the past, how many World Titles did you have again?
The Samoan Silencer nods slowly. He sees full well what Ivan is doing, but there is nothing on this earth that can stop the end result now.
Timo Bolamba: I held the FSW World Championship through several months and even represented Team FSW at Alliances 2002. I thought you knew that? I suppose at that time you were pretty busy coming out to the ring to that generic Ozzy Osbourne song and abandoning communism to chase that lady around.
He looks at Alexei.
Timo Bolamba: Hey Ruslan, do you remember when Ivan became more or less American and meandered all over OSW letting Sebastian Toomes and White Mexican be the big dogs? That sure was a good time for everyone.
Stanislav growls under his breath.
Ivan Stanislav: Why you little…
But it’s actually Alexei who clears his throat and interjects, standing between Ivan and Timo, if on the outside still.
Alexei Ruslan: For the record, dear Timo, everything Ivan Sergeiovich did in OSW, and PCW for that matter, was sanctioned by the government of The Russian Federation. And as for..
Ivan is no longer smiling and his face turns stormy.
Ivan Stanislav: As for all of the other things you have said, I apologize if I received more cheers than dear Timo Bolamba. I was not about to come out to some song called “Warrior of Love.”
He barked out a laugh, but one of his hands is balled into an anvil-sized fist.
Ivan Stanislav: Twenty years has gone by, I bring gifts to not only non-Russian, but non-communist, and all you can do is try to insult me? This is very poor showing, Timo.
Ivan shakes his head. Alexei glances between the two of them, but predominantly watches Ivan carefully. For his part, the face painted PRIME senior officiant does not back down.
Timo Bolamba: About that. You do know I am not Speedy Riggs, right? And even if I stooped to “remembering an old friend” when I was making a call in the ring, I have personally trained every officiant in PRIME to inspect and report errors to Lindsay Troy herself. For accuracy, you see.
Stanislav clears his throat and frowns at that.
Ivan Stanislav: Unfortunately I am certain you are no Speedy Riggs. I would hardly ever consider asking you to break rules set in PRIME, certainly not. I just thought you might remember that rules are different for Ivan and Alexei, eh? But if you don’t recall, it is quite all right, dear Timo. Hm?
Timo thinks over his next words in pensive contemplation.
Timo Bolamba: I guess you will just have to hope you’re still good enough. But don’t worry about what I have to say. My time has passed and here you are, in all your suspendered glory.
The Samoan sighs a little and smiles. He remembers great battles with Ivan in the past and, deep down, does consider him to be a friend.
Timo Bolamba: Even still. Here you are. Here I am. Shame that we can’t do it one more time to set the record straight once and for all, isn’t it?
The Russian Bear looks down at Alexei, who then looks over at Timo, as does Ivan.
Ivan Stanislav: Yes, here we are, after all these years. It is a shame, but you are officiant now, yes? Which is honorable job nonetheless, Timo.
Alexei chimes in.
Alexei Ruslan: Oh, and here, we did have something for you to take to the ring…
Ruslan fishes into the pocket of his brown trench coat and produces a small sponge which, naturally, has the hammer and sickle of the Former Soviet Union emblazoned on the front.
Alexei Ruslan: This is so you can sponge up Hayes Hanlon after we are through with him.
Ruslan smirks and Ivan nods, but he’s smiling once more. He suddenly clasps his huge hand on Timo’s shoulder and squeezes, not in a threatening way but more a warm way. At least as much as Ivan can muster.
Ivan Stanislav: It is nice to see you, Timo Bolamba. You may have questionable memory, not be Russian, not be communist, not ever have been part of Red Army, and may have been in Ivan’s way in the past, but despite all of these otherwise egregious shortcomings, Ivan is still happy to see you!
Ivan winks at Timo.
Ivan Stanislav: And you enjoy vodka, hm? And just remember what I said: these young children aren’t ready for how Ivan handles business in wrestling ring, eh?
The Samoan looks at the bottle of vodka in his hand. He returns the warm regard and nods.
Timo Bolamba: Da, comrade. Da.
Ivan smiles a wide, toothy grin once more.
Ivan Stanislav: Good to see you, Samoan Silencer. Let us get going.
The Bear nods once more at Timo and winks at him, before turning to walk away. Ruslan tosses the sponge in the air, and leaves it up to Timo to catch it. The two Russians speak jovially in their native tongue as they make distance from Timo. For one moment, Ruslan turns and looks at Timo, backpedaling as he makes eye contact, before seamlessly turning and walking away with his much larger comrade. It’s not long before the laughing Russians are down another hallway and their conversation is nothing but a dull roar.