TAG TEAM SURVIVOR
Twelve men stand in the dry Las Vegas night in three groups of four.
Okay, that’s a lie. It’s eleven dudes, but one of them has a mannequin strapped to his back with bungee cords like Chewbacca at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. What a schmuck.
Before each group is a boulder the size of a small car. How did they get there? Probably cranes or really big trucks. What’s the boulder budget for a promotion the size of PRIME? Evidently a lot. What happens if a giant rock goes rogue? Pray the crowd is insured. Is this a good idea? Oh god no, but we’re doin’ the thing, so strap in ‘cuz it’s about to get weird.
Nick Stuart: Fans, we are moments away from taking the first steps towards crowning the inaugural tag team champions in the new era of PRIME. Tonight twelve of the preeminent teams in professional wrestling have an unorthodox challenge in front of them.
Richard Parker: That’s the polite way to say it.
Nick Stuart: We haven’t seen Survivor in professional wrestling in quite some time. Any predictions for tonight, Richard?
Richard Parker: That’s a loaded question, and there’s no real way to answer it. It’s like anything I might say could come true, no matter how bizarre. It all feels like it’s on the table tonight.
Despite the fact that they’re all gathered here to shove big rocks, not everyone seems to have got the memo. Sid Phillips is dressed in his ring gear, evidently unaware that rocks of this size were not made to be powerbombed. Garbage Bag Johnny looks ready to serve up a pile of Donkey Sauce in a Guy Fieri-esque flame-patterned bathrobe. The monitor around Nova’s ankle blinks a steady green.
Richard Parker: Does Nate Colton have a taser?
Nate Colton does, in fact, have a taser.
Richard Parker: Why does Nate Colton have a taser?
Because the alternative was “Bobby Dean gets a taser”.
Nick doesn’t get a chance to answer, because that’s when the sound of an air horn signals the start of the contest. A roar rises from the gathered crowd flanking both sides of the Vegas strip as the combined might of the different teams.
For one of those teams things go immediately sideways, and it’s the one that was already short-staffed. Barry Delgado, who is himself a denim clad muscle-boulder, begins to get the DUI rock rolling (puns!). He’s assisted by his partner Trent Sadikaj, whose contributions consist of a series of athletic high kicks, like a kung-fu Paul Stanley. They’re not the problem. The problem is that Doozer – who is clearly visible and wildly flailing – can’t seem to get stable footing. He slides around the street like a toddler learning to skate without the benefit of milk crates.
The elder bandit collides with Nate Colton who is then thrown forward, narrowly missing his newfound partner Nathan Filmix with the business end of the taser he’s carrying, which finds a home in the plump backside of Bobby Dean.
Richard Parker: Well, I suppose that’s one way to get him moving.
Nick Stuart: Unfortunately, he’s headed in the wrong direction.
Bobby immediately sprints into the crowd in the direction of a Fighting For Nora bake sale table. The look of impending dread on Shweta Kallemullah would be visible from space, if they looked for that sort of thing aboard the ISS.
Nick Stuart: Crudely Civilized getting out to an early lead here!
A collection of figures stands gathered on the sidelines, gyrating their hips in a loosely choreographed routine. Longtime fans of bullshit will recognize them as Charlene, Misty, Noelle, Carl, Janelle, Cinnamon, and Biff. They are the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers (JBDs), and they are gathered here to honor the memory of their fallen namesake with music. Also the entire budget was spent on boulders, so there wasn’t much left for a proper cheering section.
JBDs: (cheering) Boots and Boogie! They’re our men! If they can’t do it then someone else will probably.
On the Team VIAGRA side, there are the makings of trouble between some of the tribe members. Paxton Ray shoves Jonathan-Christopher Hall aside to try and get better leverage on the boulder in front of them.
Nick Stuart: We’ve got our first bit of dissension here, and it’s on the VIAGRA squad.
Richard Parker: Dusk’s not in this match, Nick.
Nick Stuart: A scuffle seems to have broken out between Paxton Ray and Jonathan-Christopher Hall.
It doesn’t take long for this to escalate, and both Darin Zion and Jonathan Rhine are forced to stop their own attempts to move the rock and try to settle things down. Unfortunately, this means the tribe loses some ground.
Visibly frustrated with the situation, Sid Phillips grabs a nearby Enemigo who had until then been working crowd control.
Nick Stuart: The Winds of Change using everything at their disposal as they…
Nick Stuart: Phillips powerbombing that poor Enemigo into the boulder!
Richard Parker: Hasn’t even wrestled a match, and he’s already out a few thousand dollars. That’s a guaranteed fine.
The Jimmy Bonafide Dancers use this opportunity to pivot the nature of their cheering. They too will probably be shelling out soon, because Prince’s estate is probably pretty litigious.
JBDs: (cheering) They wore a blaaaaaaaaaackberry beret. The kind that lands you with a copyright claim!
The team VIAGRA boulder rolls past a group of fans gathered on the sidelines, one of whom is wearing an Ohio State University tee shirt. Mushigihara catches sight of this out of the corner of his eye, and a dawning realization appears on his face.
With renewed vigor the former sumo lays into the rock with hard slaps, driving it forward.
Kenny Freeman walks with his back to his team’s boulder, lightly pushing on it with one hand. His other hand holds a phone at arms length.
Nick Stuart: And now Kenny Freeman seems to be live-vlogging tonight’s Survivor challenge.
Richard Parker: And it looks like his partner, Randall Schwartz, is passing out headshots to the crowd.
The Jimmy Bonafide Dancers are there to lend words of encouragement to the duo.
JBDs: (cheering) What is a multiverse? Tell us what it is! What is a multiverse? None of us went to college!
Richard Parker: Speaking of the multiverse…
Nick Stuart: Oh no.
Richard Parker: Do you think there’s an alternate reality where the PRIME tag team division is full of functioning, well-adjusted adults?
Nick Stuart: I don’t know if-
Richard Parker: Maybe the multiverse has bled into our reality. Maybe Barry Delgado is a mirror universe version of Bobby Dean, where he woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and said, “I can fix this.”
Nick Stuart: There’s at least a 6 inch height difference between them, Richard.
Richard Parker: It’s another universe. Who are we to determine the rules?
It’s here where Mikey Unlikely stubs his toe on the boulder. As anyone who’s ever caught their foot on a coffee table can tell you, man that shit hurts. Fortunately, his bruv JFK is there for moral support.
Nick Stuart: It appears that we might have just witnessed our first injury in this challenge.
Richard Parker: Which is legitimately surprising, given the number of people on the road that I wouldn’t trust with a pair of scissors.
Nick Stuart: The Hollywood Bruvs taking a minute to regroup.
Richard Parker: I mean kids’ scissors. You know the ones that are all plastic and will only cut construction paper, but nothing else.
Nick Stuart: The Hollywood Bruvs… are leaving?
Indeed they are. First they linger back as the boulders are rolled away, and then begin strolling away from the strip.
On the DUI side, Nate Colton and Nathan Filmix talk strategy as they work on their boulder. Colton, it should be noted, is still holding the taser he was gifted earlier in the evening, which seems to be a source of great consternation for the ever-serious Filmix. After a moment of debate, Colton relents and places the taser on the ground, only to have it promptly kicked into him by a still-slipping Doozer.
Nick Stuart: Delgado and Sadikaj still rolling their stone.
Richard Parker: I want you to know that pun physically hurt me.
Nick Stuart: Nothing I can do about that now, Richard.
Richard Parker: I heard that one day, Barry Delgado happened upon the hill where Sisyphus was pushing that boulder. He stepped in and said, “don’t worry, bro, I got this,” and took over. He pushed that boulder up that hill so many times that the boulder wore down so much that now he uses it as a bass pick.
Nick Stuart: Where did you hear that?
Richard Parker: The internet wouldn’t lie to me, Nick. Not to me.
Meanwhile, the VIAGRA boulder has started to edge (tee-hee) its way into the lead.
As King Blueberry shifts his grip on the DUI boulder, the legs of El Hijo Del Super Cool Guy whack Paxton Ray in the shoulder.
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray not having the best day. First some strife within his own team, and now it looks like an issue with the blueberry king is afoot.
Richard Parker: It’s not like these are new issues, Nick. We heard a few weeks ago what Ray thinks of this costumed boob.
Again Ray abandons his boulder duties. He grabs the mannequin and tears it away from Blueberry, causing the bungee cords that held it in place to snap hard against Blueberry’s back. With one motion he rips the gaffer tape from the mannequin’s neck, and rolls its head under the closest boulder. What follows is a loud crunch.
Nick Stuart: For the second time in as many shows, El Hijo Del Super Cool Guy has been beheaded, fans. I don’t think he’s going to recover from this one.
Ray nonchalantly tosses the remains of the mannequin behind him, daring the King to retrieve it. There’s no time however, as a distracted Joe Fontaine – busy mugging in front of the phone of a nearby fan – turns around at just the wrong moment. The legs of the mannequin catch him around the neck, and then the rules of physics go right out the window.
Nick Stuart: Canadian destroyer! Canadian destroyer! Physics be damned, Joe Fontaine is down, and I don’t know if he’s getting up any time soon!
Richard Parker: What the hell did I just watch?!
The Crudely Civilized tribe’s attempts to push their boulder are momentarily halted as Pat Cassidy finds himself suddenly pelted in the face with a pair of ladies’ underwear. Size thicc. Standing along the challenge route, Muriel Puddings shouts obscenities like a horny Bobby Knight.
Muriel Puddings: Come tongue my taint!
Cassidy yanks the drawers from his eyes and presses onwards, but Muriel’s leering continues. That is until she sets her eyes on the dapper visage of Garbage Bag Johnny, looking like the mayor of goddamn Flavortown in his fiery bathrobe.
Muriel Puddings: HNNNNGGGHHHHH!!
Richard Parker: Gross.
Johnny moves away from the rock and dusts himself off. Then, he exits the challenge course alone and heads off into the warm Nevada night. The man has a date to prepare for, after all.
Nick Stuart: Garbage Bag Johnny has decided to call it a night a little early.
Richard Parker: I have a feeling his night is just getting started.
Nick Stuart: I’m actively trying to not think about that, Richard. In either case, the Crudely Civilized tribe is now down three members, all of whom walked out on their own accord.
The Saturday Night Specials and Nova lean hard against their boulder, trying to will it to move faster, but given the sudden departure of so many tribe members it’s not moving nearly as well as it once did.
At least they have the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers to serenade them.
JBDs: (cheering) How many special people change? How many lives are living strange? Why does Nova look like Doctor Wily?
Nick Stuart: I don’t know who is responsible for hiring the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers. It’s like that person doesn’t know there is an actual rock band in this challenge tonight.
Richard Parker: I heard that one time Barry Delgado flipped over a cop car with the cops still in it, and they apologized to him.
Nick Stuart: Seriously, Richard, what websites are you visiting?
Richard Parker: Don’t ask scary questions, Nick.
Imagine what happens next takes place in slow-motion. In fact, let’s take it a step further. Open up another tab, navigate your ass over to YouTube, and find “Chariots of Fire” by Vangelis. It’s cool. We’ll wait.
Actually, hold up, I’ll do it for you. Here.
The crowd of people on one side of the challenge route parts to make way for an inflated Zorb ball. Inside, the hulking form of Bobby Dean two-fists entire cakes acquired from the Fighting For Nora bake sale table. The inside of the bubble is smeared with crumbs, and frosting, and sweat, and wait just how the fuck did he get inside that thing anyway?!
A big doof with a Georgia tee-shirt and an incredibly punchable face doesn’t manage to get out of the way in time, and is subsequently trucked by Bobby the Cake Hamster.
His vigor renewed, Bobby charges the Zorb back on to the challenge route, builds up a head of steam and hurls his body at the boulder in front of him, but the recoil buckles him backwards, and he begins slowly rolling away. The boulder seems unaffected by the bombastic bash of Bobby’s bouncing, boisterous bulk.
Nick Stuart: Bobby Dean just slammed into that boulder, but I think all the plastic padding absorbed the shock.
RIchard Parker: And now gravity’s taken hold, and he’s rolling the wrong direction down the strip.
Meanwhile, in the far lane, Sid Phillips has finally set down that poor, battered Enemigo he’s been powerbombing into his boulder. Total powerbomb count? 23.
Nick Stuart: Crudely Civilized trying to keep pace, and doing a damn remarkable job despite being outnumbered at this stage in the game.
Richard Parker: We’ve only got a few feet to go before the finish line.
The crowd around the finish line gets louder, trying to will the competitors closer. The DUI boulder creeps towards the goal. Trent Sadikaj lands a jumping front kick – to date he has exclusively relied on kicks to move the boulder – that narrowly misses the hand of Nathan Filmix.
Nick Stuart: DUI out in front! VIAGRA right behind!
Richard Parker: That joke writes itself.
A final collective surge from the VIAGRA team gains them some ground.
But it’s not enough.
Nick Stuart: Delgado with a final push and DUI has taken the first challenge in tag team Survivor! What a spectacle!
Richard Parker: Spectacle, circus, debacle… This sure has been something. I’m not sure if I’m excited or terrified to find out what’s in store for all of us in two weeks.
Nick Stuart: Well tonight’s challenge may be over, but we still have to find out which teams have been eliminated by tribal vote. We’re going to give them all a chance to regroup, and will have that information for you later.
Richard Parker: Do I get to vote? I’ve got some thoughts on this.
Nick Stuart: For now let’s give it up to all the teams who competed tonight, especially Solid Gold Rock ‘n Roll for getting their squad first over the finish line!