MATT WARD VS. SAGE PONTIFF
Nick Stuart: Folks, ReVival 22 continues. Still to come, the 5 Star Championship bout, Nate Colton defending his newly won title against the likes of Anna Daniels in a rematch of their contest from ReVival 17. And then, our main event…Universal Champion Hayes Hanlon takes on the challenge of Rezin…and given the history between those two, that one is worthy of closing out the show.
Richard Parker: Look, anyone who makes it so I don’t have to see Cancer Jiles saunter around…I could care less. That makes us all winners.
Nick Stuart: But before then…Sage Pontiff, The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience, a man who preaches a message of peace but has shown little but violence…he’ll get everything he can handle and more…because he faces the return of a PRIME Hall of Famer. But not just any Hall of Famer…perhaps the most physically dominant wrestler in PRIME’s history…The Inhuman Being, Matt Ward.
At first, darkness hits. Every light in the Amyway Center, causing a buzz among the crowd and a few cellphone camera lights. The video screen shows a single glowing orb at the top of the screen. Lavender. Then another beneath it, blue. Teal. Green. Yellow. Orange. Finally, red–and then around it, the shimmering outline of a human body in lotus position. This hold on the screen as an almost marching drumbeat begins, pulsing throughout the arena.
Lights come up, pink in tone, all in time with a psychedelic drone of distorted guitar noise. As the solo of what could very well be an electric sitar begins, a figure walks out from the back. More accurately, he damn near glides. His neck is hanging with the weight of what seem to be many different strands of prayer beads. He is barefoot, his calf length, baggy pants a frankly offensive patchwork of tie dye, paisley, and other patterns. Hanging to the floor is a long, linen kimono in pure white.
Sage Pontiff has arrived, and he throws his head back, practically bathing in the rain of flower petals.
There is no up or down
Your truth is the only master
Death is made by the living
Pain is only intense to you…
He begins to slowly make his way down the ramp, occasionally twirling and oftentimes doing respectful bows to certain members of the audience, kissing his fingertips and then touching his forehead.
Vince Howard: This bout is set for one fall with a thirty minute time limit…Introducing first, from the High Desert, Joshua Tree, California…weighing two-hundred and one pounds…he is the Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience…SAAAAGE PONTIIIIFF!!
Sage slides into the ring, kips to his feet fluidly, and then takes a running start and leaps flat footed, landing with a slight wobble on the top turnbuckle–but sticks the landing, and holds his arms out messianic-style, bathing in reactions. Mostly negative, though there are a smattering of true believers that are making themselves known over the jeers.
The Sun shines every day
The Sun shines every day
Sage executes a backflip from the top, landing on his feet, and bows to the crowd, and the toward Elvis Nixon before removing his kimono and beads. He begins to stretch, adopting the revolved crescent lunge, his fluidity and vascularity on full display as “Satori Part II” fades to nothing. And as it does?
The Amway Center is once again plunged into darkness.
Wiz Khalifa – “No Limit (Sencit Remix)”
A wave of soft white lights begin to blink on and off in rapid succession, like strobe lights on speed. At the top of the stage, The Inhuman Being, Matt Ward, emerges from the Argyle Position.
The man often referred to as Tchu slowly makes his way down to the ring. As he does, some fans along the aisle start an “IN-HU-MAN” chant that spreads across the ringside area. Hopping up onto the apron, he quickly gives a shake to his left knee, giving it a quick slap before stepping through the ropes. He climbs the near corner and throws his arms open to the world as the fans blow the roof off the arena.
Vince Howard: His opponent, from the Columbus, Ohio…weighing two-hundred and twenty-seven pounds…the ONLY three time Universal Champion in PRIME history…a former Intense Champion…a former Tag Team Champion…the 2005 Jewel in the Crown…the 2007 winner of the Dual Halo…PRIME Hall of Famer…he is the Inhuman Being…MAAAAATT! WAAAAAAAAARD!
And then, it’s on to business. Ward hops down from the corner, again fiddling with his left knee brace as the music fades, his eyes cast forward toward his opponent.
Nick Stuart: If looks could kill…
The energy in the Amway Center is at a fever pitch of anticipation as the bell rings. The smile on the face of The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience shows either a complete lack of confidence…or a dire ignorance of what stands across the ring from him. The Inhuman Being. The Wrecking Ball. No one else can claim a totality of accolades within the halls of PRIME as Matt Ward. There is little emotion in the face of Tchu, just an intense, cold stare.
Nick Stuart: This is going to be very…very interesting.
Richard Parker: A flower of enlightenment taking on some blood thirsty barbarian. Peace and Love versus Disdain and Hate. A battle for the soul of PRIME and its chance to open its third eye.
Nick Stuart: …
Richard Parker: Namaste, Nicolas Stuart. Transcend and become changed.
Nick Stuart: …you’re…you’re kidding me here with this, right?
Richard Parker: Me? Acting like I’m joshing around your Joshua Tree? How dare you!
If Ward could hear them, he would roll his eyes. Ever the little shit, Richard. Some things never change. And as Sage Pontiff lazily stretches himself like a cat, barefeet switching against the top rope, working to loosen up his hamstrings. Biodiesel camper vans, am I right? A slight shift of Ward’s gaze to the fans in Orlando carries with it the faintest of smiles. And from there? After an eternity away from the competitive confines of the squared circle, Tchu charges forward, slamming his forearm into the neck of Pontiff, quickly smothering him with powerful, clubbing blows to the frantical Bodi’s body as he violently collapses to the canvas, only to spring up and keep receiving punishment from the Inhuman Being.
As Pontiff tries to weather the brutal storm of forearms and elbows across his exposed back, he throws fists at the ribs of Ward, trying desperately to hit a liver shot. The Inhuman Being barely grimaces, driving a 12 to 6 elbow right into the back of Sage’s neck, then trapping his leg after locking in a front chancery, launching him across the ring with a powerful suplex that has the Orlando crowd jumping to their feet.
Richard Parker: Well Hoytdamn!
Nick Stuart: Ward wasting little time! He hooks the leg!
Richard Parker: Maybe…maybe a smart time to not be making Bob Evans Senior Discount jokes. Like…at any time Tchu is wrestling. Because that…
Nick Stuart: That isn’t a greatest hit. That’s…Matt Ward showing very VERY early on exactly what Sage Pontiff…what all of PRIME…is up against.
Richard Parker: There was an explosiveness in those blows. That suplex. And it’s not like we haven’t seen Matt Ward around. He would patrol the MGM Grand Garden Arena. But did I have any indication that I’d be staring into a time machine? Hell no.
Nick Stuart: On a cool autumn night in Chicago nearly a decade ago, Matt Ward had what we all thought was his final match. What we thought was the final match in PRIME’s history. The main event of Colossus VIII. And while he fell that night to Lindsay Troy, the impact, the legacy, everything about the man known as Tchu, was cemented. And tonight, in Orlando, the Inhuman Being returns…and he is showing us that he returned with a vengeance!
Heavy breaths from Ward follow the count by Elvis Nixon. The Wrecking Ball pulls at the brace on his left knee, slamming a fist into the canvas, not out of frustration, but just because he can. Everything about him sounds a clarion call of carnage. As Sage tries to pick himself up, Ward grabs hold of him, smothering him again with a rear naked choke, but it is quickly transitioned to hammering elbow blows to the shoulder blades of The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience. In his time in PRIME, Pontiff has yet to feel such immense and destructive blows from an opponent.
And in their wake…he is smiling.
Ward’s volley should make him wilt, but for whatever reason, the pain, the bludgeoning hammerlike shots bring a wild gleam to his eyes. But even as he feels and enjoys ‘The Experience’, the body is far weaker than the spirit. Survival fits into the philosophical principles somewhere, yes? He throws his head back, catching Ward on the bridge of the nose with his brainpan. The shot is enough to cause Tchu to relent, if only for a moment, and in the space of the opening, another wild back headbutt is the start to both men scurrying to their feet. Once up, Ward tries to grab hold with a collar and elbow tie up.
Pontiff has other ideas.
Nick Stuart: Arm drag by Pontiff!
Richard Parker: Oh that was a deep one!
Nick Stuart: Ward trying to get back up to his feet quickly by he doesn’t spring up as quickly and–
Richard Parker: Sage has the high ground–
Nick Stuart: Another armdrag! Momentum sends Matt Ward just a bit across the ring and OOOOH! ROLLING KOPPO KICK! Did that one catch Ward flush?
Richard Parker: Matt Ward is out of sorts–
Nick Stuart: Rolling leaping forearm strike! OH MY! And Ward is on the canvas and Pontiff is covering–
Richard Parker: No he’s mounting!
Nick Stuart: Pontiff throwing his head into Ward’s! Headbutt after headbutt raining down! Sage Pontiff is taking it to the PRIME Hall of Famer and this isn’t what we were expecting! Not after his surprise loss at Colossus to Ria Lockhart!
Richard Parker: That was an upset–
Nick Stuart: And as these blows keep raining down, we might be seeing another one in the works here! And OH! Sage blasts Tchu in the face with a heavy forearm before slamming his head into him again and–
Richard Parker: Did Ward–
Nick Stuart: Ward blasts him in the face with a forearm on that headbutt attempt! Sage didn’t see that one and he’s got to be cross eyed…he’s staggering away…on his backside, checking his own jaw…
Richard Parker: I think this match is a bring the heavy artillery match, because these two are throwing mortar shots at each other!
Nick Stuart: Ward to his feet and OH! OH MY LORD!
Richard Parker: That clothesline nearly took Sage inside out!
Nick Stuart: Cover!
While there is some spring to this kickout, there is a pause in the follow up. Ward checks his nose, shaking his head, blood starting to flow from his nostrils. The expressionless terminator exterior of the Inhuman Being shifts to a glower of intensity as he looks at The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience, who himself as a wicked glee of madness etched across his face despite his trying to get to his feet, only to fall back down to the canvas.
For what it is worth, maybe the earlier blows to his liver did more damage than he let on. Ward tries to draw in as much air as he can into his lungs, but struggles, and even more so, his entire body itches in spent adrenaline. A seeming old man fatigue? More like ring rust. Nothing can prepare you for a match like a match, and with a decade away, the subtle aches and pains are all the more daunting. As is the swelling he feels in his left knee, which pisses him off more than anything. A furious punch at the top of his brace is followed by a ginger wince, and as Pontiff swings to try and grab hold of him, he brushes him aside, face washing him with his palm, and then smashing him in the head with a fist.
Nick Stuart: Elvis Nixon not letting that fly–
Richard Parker: I don’t think Ward cares. He’s not listening. And now he’s…
Nick Stuart: Back mount. Back mount by Matt Ward–
Richard Parker: But his feet aren’t–
Ward’s hands lock around the waist of Sage, and with a roar, Tchu lifts him up, driving him into the canvas with a deadlift gutwrench suplex.
Richard Parker: HOOOOOO-EEEEE-YACHT!
Nick Stuart: Ward with the cover!
Oxygen burns on arrival. Is this the smart play? The fans in Orlando are going absolutely wild at the display. Ward tries to keep the pressure up, grabbing hold of Pontiff, who is starfished across the canvas. And as he does…
Nick Stuart: SAGE WITH THE SMALL PACKAGE!
Richard Parker: Wow that was real close!
The Inhuman Being is shocked with how quickly the small package came out, and as he continues his heavy breathing from his red-lining offensive assault, Pontiff grabs hold of him and hits him with a jawbreaker, continuing to put his head to good use. The ricochet isn’t enough to take Ward off his feet, merely causing him to stagger. And as he does? Pontiff notices the limp from the favored left leg. He wastes no time, capitalizing with a smothering assault of pummeling kicks to his left thigh and knee. This is enough to cause the PRIME Hall of Famer to go down, his leg giving out, now stuck perched on his good knee.
Richard Parker: This might be the opening Pontiff can strike upon–
Nick Stuart: What is he…bounce off the ropes–
Richard Parker: Frankensteiner!
Nick Stuart: He drove Ward’s head into the canvas with that one!
Richard Parker: I’m smelling a transformative upset brewing!
Ward somehow gets himself to his knees, in a daze, and as he does, Pontiff locks his hands around the stooping head of The Inhuman Being, throwing a powerful knee into his face, connecting with his cheek. The second drives deep into his eye.
Richard Parker: This just feels…barbaric! Just…
Nick Stuart: The fans in Orlando aren’t pleased! Not one bit! And Ward…Matt Ward…
Richard Parker: Pontiff running to the ropes! OH he’s jumping onto them! What balance!
Nick Stuart: Pontiff dancing on those ropes and he’s launching himself toward Ward OH!
Richard Parker: OH OH OH!
Nick Stuart: WARD CAUGHT HIM! WARD CAUGHT HIM ON THE CROSS BODY ATTEMPT AND HE’S TRYING TO SLING HIM ONTO HIS SHOULDERS FOR WEIGHT OF THE WORLD AND–
Richard Parker: HIS KNEE!
Nick Stuart: WARD’S LEFT KNEE JUST BUCKLED! IT JUST BUCKLED UNDERNEATH HIM!
Pontiff is slammed to the canvas, but not in any controlled manner, and as a result, uses his elbows and knees to cushion the blow. Matt Ward, however, is grabbing at his left knee, widely grimacing, snarling, eyes closed.
He doesn’t see the thrusting mule kick at all.
Richard Parker: NAMASTE!
Ward goes limp in his position. Pontiff has no hesitation.
Nick Stuart: A SECOND NAMASTE! COVER!
DING DING DING
As if shot from a cannon, the Inhuman Being kicks out, and on one damn leg, grabs hold of Pontiff, who is already starting to celebrate, and throws him with an overhead german suplex. And as Ward cusses at himself, as he looks to go for Downfall, the only thing preventing him is the body of Elvis Nixon working to try and protect Pontiff, who, in a moment of self preservation, throws an elbow to get separation.
Richard Parker: UPSET! UPSET! WHAT A DAMN UPSET! SAGE PONTIFF BEATS THE RETURNING MATT WARD!
Nick Stuart: And he’s just now realizing…he’s just now realizing what happened…that he didn’t kick out in time!
Vince Howard: Your winner…by pinfall…SAAAAAAAAGE! PONTIFF!!
The fans in Orlando wildly boo as The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience, a wild, manic glee in his eye as maybe, just maybe, it’s sinking in what he has accomplished. Meanwhile, in the ring, Matt Ward sits in the corner, a furious look in his eye, staring toward Pontiff, then Nixon, all as his lungs heave, all has his hands go toward his left knee. His eyes follow.
Those close to the ring can hear him call his left knee a motherfucker.