THE CONTRACT SIGNING
The camera cuts back to the ring, where a matte carpet has been laid on the canvas with a table from Ikea in the middle. There are two office chairs, one on either side. If I didn’t know any better, it would seem that the ring is ready to host a contract signing.
Nick Stuart: Next up, we have a contract signing between The Anglo Luchador and one member of the group KING. I’m guessing it’s going to be David Noble.
Richard Parker: Does it really matter? The Anglo Luchador is so down in the dumps lately you could put Dusk’s brain in a jar, and that would probably get a victory over him.
Nick Stuart: Dusk’s brain… sometimes, I wonder where your head gets this stuff from, Richard.
Richard Parker: Don’t blame me. Blame Nova and Garbage Bag Johnny.
Nick Stuart: Cute; blame two guys who aren’t even active here right now.
“Cynic” by Local H hits on the PA, and the crowd RAAAAHHHHHHS when The Anglo Luchador, dressed in a blue PRIME golf shirt, khaki pants, and black oxford shoes, strolls out from behind the curtain. He’s carrying a leather folio with the PRIME logo on it. He raises his hands to the crowd in approval before walking to the ring, slapping the hands of the young fans, reaching them over the guardrail while carrying the folio close to his chest.
Richard Parker: They let him be the one to carry the contract to the ring? Collusion! Collusion! Who’s a wrestling lawyer I can call?
Nick Stuart: Well, all things considered, I don’t think Lindsay Troy was going to let a member of a group that has been antagonizing her by their existence here bring official documents to the ring. Plus, The Anglo Luchador has been helping out backstage lately.
Richard Parker: No wonder the production values have dropped.
Nick Stuart: They have not. Stop it.
The Luchador slides into the ring, pops up, sets the folio down on the table, and dusts himself off, raising his hands for the crowd again. He then goes over to the side of the ring where Vince Howard sits and calls for a microphone. He taps it, and starts yakkin’.
TAL: So, I’m out here tonight to sign a contract for a match at Colossus. Honestly, at this time last year, I thought I was going to be in a different place than I am right now. But life has a funny way of dumping piles of shit on you.
The crowd gasps.
TAL: But I’m here, and I have to face off against another group of assholes who tell it like it is, who think they know me better than I do, and that their judge-jury-executioner act gives them carte blanche to do to me what they want because it somehow is exacting justice. Justice. Yeah, none of that around here anymore, if ever.
Richard Parker: He sounds like he’s bitter.
Nick Stuart: I disagree, Rich. As someone who was literally threatened physically by the current Universal Champion, I can empathize with The Anglo Luchador a bit.
TAL: So come on out.
The Luchador places the microphone on the table and places his arms across his chest.
“Only One King” by Tommee Profit and Jung Youth plays inside of the Bridgestone Arena, to a chorus of boos. From the backstage area emerges Cory Kensington, Jamaal Ingram, David Noble, and Shawn Graham. They’re all dressed in the finest suits (no ties, because fuck ties) and spread out across the stage before Rose steps out, dressed in a pair of black slacks and a white button-down shirt which is tucked into the pants. She walks down the ramp with KING following behind her.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador might want to rethink his strategy of being out here by himself.
Richard Parker: I mean, this is a big deal, a contract signing. You always want your friends there who have supported you on the journey.
Nick Stuart: Sure…
As they step into the ring, Rose is handed a microphone. She taps on it a few times before sitting in one of the office chairs and looking up at The Anglo Luchador.
Rose: Tom, go ahead and have a seat. It’s fine; we’re here for a signing, not a donnybrook.
The Anglo Luchador doesn’t oblige.
Rose: Fine then, Tom. I heard you backstage as you moaned about how life is dumping piles of shit in your lap. You continue to refuse to take ownership for the situations you find yourself in.
Rose clears her throat.
Rose: So, since we’re in the wrong, Tom, why don’t you tell us who you are? Who are you, Tom?
His eyes squint.
TAL: Again, you have the beat on who I am. Why don’t you tell me because honestly, whatever I say, you’re just gonna say “nooooo ur wrong lol,” so I don’t wanna fuckin’ bother.
A smile appears on Rose’s face.
Rose: Cute. I’ve got no problem telling everyone who you are, Tom. I looked up to you. I believed in you. I bought the bullshit you’ve been feeding everyone for years. I saw you backstage when I was a little girl and believed you were who you said you were. And I was wrong. But you did such a good job of feeding everyone that plate of shit that it’s time everyone actually knows who you are.
She rises from her chair and glares at Tom.
Rose: Four weeks ago, ReVival 37 in Louisville, I watched you come out here and talk about me, talk about KING, and talk about my father. And you mentioned that he’s at home dying. That’s not something we’ve really talked about publicly, but you’re right Tom, my father is at home, dying before my very eyes. Brain cancer. I’ve had to watch the person that’s been everything to me become a shell of that man because of a tumor that’s killing him.
Rose purses her lips as she inches closer to Tom.
Rose: You clearly have known and yet… where have you been, Tom? Were you with my family in Montana to start the year? Or how about in San Diego? You have no problem being there for everyone else, protecting the so-called innocent, but your “friend” as you described him, someone you have known for years… you’re nowhere to be found. My husband died. Nothing. It’s been crickets from you, Tom, while you run around here and be the superhero for everyone else.
Rose looks out at the fans.
Rose: That is Tom Battaglia, for the record. Someone who speaks from one side of his mouth and does the complete opposite. Fake as fuck.
She then turns back and looks at Tom, arms outstretched, wanting him to prove her wrong.
TAL: I’m sorry your husband died. I’m sorry your dad, my friend, is sick. I could explain why, but I mean, everyone on the ACE Network has seen why. You want to play white knight and fight battles for people whether they want you to or not, fine. Play the game. I did. Grisly shit happened to me, my home, my family. The world doesn’t revolve around you. It doesn’t revolve around me. It keeps turning and turning and turning. I do the best I can to help those in need. People like Eddie Cross, people like Miranda DC, like my blood brother, Mikey and my brother from a different mother, Timo. Like Nora.
A RAAAAHHHHH goes up for Paxton Ray’s daughter.
TAL: But when I stretch myself too thin and try to help too many people, you know who ends up getting hurt? My family, the people I need to care about. There’s not enough of me. So if you think I should’ve prioritized you, fine, think that. I’m sorry I couldn’t. But don’t pretend like you can mete out justice for it, or that harassing me, drugging me, targeting me is going to make it better.
The Luchador bends over, opens the folio, and signs his name on the contract.
TAL: Now, get your lackey, Mr. Dick-Tok, to sign his name and get this over with.
She nods her head and looks over at David, who begins to inch forward, but Rose holds her hand up.
Rose: Tom, your Oscar-worthy performance is quite impressive. I will give you credit there. Try a bit harder and you might clinch it, just add some tears next time. [beat] You’ve got it all wrong, though. I don’t need anyone to do my dirty work.
Rose grabs the pen and applies her signature to the contract.
Rose: I do it myself. Those five, they’re ready to strike, but with you… this is personal. Colossus… I’ll be the one you stare at across the ring.
Murmurs are heard through the crowd.
Nick Stuart: Did you see this coming?!
Richard Parker: Absolutely not.
Nick Stuart: Is she even trained? Someone needs to stop her.
Rose then reaches into her back pocket and produces a mask before throwing it on the table.
Rose: Don’t worry, Tom. You even helped me get my ring jitters out at Lucha Especial 4. Sorry I couldn’t have let you in on the secret, but then, it wouldn’t have been a secret, would it? You got your wish. You’ve got me.
She then drops the pen on the contract. As she does, “Put ‘Em in the Grave” by Jedi Mind Tricks puts all the proceedings in the ring on pause. Lindsay Troy throws the curtain aside and walks briskly down to the ring.
Richard Parker: Looks like you’re getting your wish, Nick.
Nick Stuart: Thank God.
The Boss glides between the ropes and motions for her music to be cut. Rose has a satisfied smirk on her face as Vince Howard tosses Lindsay a microphone. She motions for TAL to give her a moment, then turns to Rose.
Lindsay Troy: I wouldn’t be smiling if I were you.
The smirk on Rose’s face remains on her face, though, as she turns to the BOSS of PRIME.
Rose: Bosslady, to what do we owe your presence? I think you could agree; there’s no shady business going on here. We haven’t devolved into a brawl like many of your employees in the back would have. Hell, we’re not even in your office. I would say this is a marked improvement over ReV 37. So, how have we stepped our toe over the line?
Lindsay Troy: Well, you all are still employed, so I wouldn’t call it an improvement.
There’s a pointed look towards Noble with that statement, before she turns her attention back to Rose.
Lindsay Troy: Anyway. I was in the back, getting ready for my bi-monthly Yelling at the Bandits, when I noticed you didn’t read the contract before you signed it.
The smile slowly disappears off the face of the leader of KING. She moves over to the leather folio and picks it up.
Rose: Should I take the time to read it now, or do you want to tell the classroom what was added in there?
She holds out the folio with a less-than-bemused look on her face. Her eyes narrow as she looks over at Tom, with a ‘what the fuck did you do’ look on her face.
Lindsay Troy: Oh, Tom didn’t do anything. Tom’s not a lawyer, he didn’t draft that contract. David Walter Smith, PRIME’s General Counsel, drafted it. Tom was in the room when it happened, though. As was your father.
Rose’s head snaps back to the boss at the mention of her father. Her jaw sets as she has to resist her darkest demons at this moment. She grabs the folio and opens it, glancing over the contract. She has to flip past the first page to find what, if anything, could be out of the ordinary.
Then, at the bottom of the second page, she finds something and looks up at Troy.
Rose: What the fuck is this?
Lindsay Troy: Hm?
She looks over and smiles.
Lindsay Troy: Oh, that’s a clause from your employment contract. You’re contracted to PRIME as KING’s manager; however, the clause states if you decide to forgo your management duties to become an active competitor at any point and for any length of time, your opponent(s) get to choose the match stipulations. You signed the contract, Rose…
Now it’s the Queen’s turn to smirk.
Lindsay Troy: …so you must have been OK with it.
Rose looks over at David and the rest of KING, who look at each other as if they’re wondering if this is the moment the shackles come off them. Their leader, though, moves to a vacant corner, and she puts her forehead on the top turnbuckle, taking a moment to herself.
She feels the crowd around her swelling and closes her eyes. It’s only a few moments, but she stands up and spins on her feet, the smile returned to her face.
Rose: You, even mentioning my father…
She shakes her head.
Rose: Not here, not now, but I will share my feelings with you sooner than you’d like. You are always true to yourself, Lindsay, and I must hand it to you. You know exactly how to pull the strings ever so elegantly, manipulating those to your benefit.
She looks over at Tom and nods her head.
Rose: And you… pick your stipulation. Take your time thinking about it, too. You made a promise to my father that you never intended to keep. I’m making you a promise that I’m coming to collect on. I may not be the person to retire you, Tom, but I will be the moment everyone points to as the start of your downfall. You don’t want me to make good on my promise? Then you better pick a stipulation that will keep me down because it will take a lot more than you to do it for good.
Rose inches closer to her Colossus opponent.
Rose: This is real, Tom. Realer than anything you’ve ever experienced in your life. You thought Paxton Ray wanted to tear your head off? You haven’t seen anything yet, because this is my life you’ve fucked with. Paxton, he earned the shit that came to him. What about me? Did I deserve for you to abandon me, to turn your back on my father when he was at his lowest, for this bullshit? I’ll answer it for you. No, we didn’t. But you deserve everything that’s coming to you.
Her eyes narrow, and they resemble her father’s in the moment.
Rose: You better finish me when you get the chance, Tom. You better take me out because if you don’t, I’ll keep coming. In that ring, you better put me through a table, send me through the barricade, crack my head open with a chair. Give me everything you have and then some because I’ll keep getting up if you don’t. I’ll keep coming for you. I won’t be stopped until I get what’s mine.
Rose takes a breath and turns towards the members of KING.
Rose: Pick your stipulation; I don’t care what it is. I don’t need to be here any longer for this bullshit.
She looks at Troy.
Rose: You got what you wanted. Trust me when I tell you I will get what I want.
She then exits the ring with KING in tow. Noble is the last one to exit the ring, staring at Lindsay momentarily before leaving and following the rest up the ramp.
Lindsay Troy: Oh, Rose, one more thing.
KING stops on the stage and looks back at the Queen.
Lindsay Troy: That clause was your father’s suggestion, and I agreed with him that it was a good idea. Thought you should know.
Rose stands there momentarily, nodding and fuming, throwing up two birds for Lindsay Troy before exiting backstage.
Nick Stuart: Well, things escalated quickly there at the end.
Richard Parker: That woman astounds me more and more every single day.
Nick Stuart: I know; Lindsay knows how to keep everyone in line.
Richard Parker: Lindsay? I was talking about Rose! She’s a hero in my eyes!
Nick Stuart: …right. Let’s cut backstage, where I understand we have… I can’t even explain it. Let’s just go.
We cut from the sight of Lindsay Troy exiting the ring and The Anglo Luchador picking up the folio to the backstage area.