We flash to a shot inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the text at the bottom right of the screen saying ‘filmed days earlier’. The arena stands empty, no fans to be seen. In the ring, however, are two figures. One is the backstage voice of PRIME, Angelica Brooks, microphone in hand. The other? The now former Universal Champion, Brandon Youngblood. Dressed in street clothes, the Tower of Babel looks like he’s been run through a meat grinder, his face showing the result of his battle with Phil Atken. Both his eyes are black and blue, swollen. His nose is heavily bandaged with gauze, as is his cheek. He rests his back against the turnbuckles, hands on his hips, his head slightly downcast. Angelica’s eyes face the camera in front of her as she begins to speak.
Angelica Brooks: Folks, we’re a few days out from ReVival 14, but with me here is Brandon Youngblood.
She pauses, turning to the former champion.
Angelica Brooks: Brandon, I know this must be difficult, but thank you for giving up some of your time to be here today.
Youngblood looks up, offering only a nod in response.
Angelica Brooks: I would be remiss not to congratulate you on what you’ve accomplished in PRIME since the company’s return. Winning the Seymour Almasy Invitational. Becoming the inaugural Universal Champion of this new era of PRIME. You took on all challengers…stood undefeated throughout most of this year. As legendary as your career has been, this most recent run has seen you at your very best, and you’ve set a standard that is hard to match not just in PRIME, but anywhere in the wrestling world.
The glowing praise is met with no response, rather, he looks to the empty stands for a moment before returning to look toward Angelica.
Angelica Brooks: That being said…the wrestling world is in absolute shock with what transpired on ReVival 13. In an absolutely physical battle, Phil Atken stunned everyone by making good on his promise of winning the Universal Championship. As difficult as this might be to ask, can you let your fans…the fans of PRIME…know your thoughts on the events that transpired?
It takes a few moments, but Brandon gathers himself and begins to speak.
Brandon Youngblood: PRIME has the best wrestlers in the world. It’s not a shock if many of them can become Universal Champion. But Phil Atken? Nobody should be shocked. I said from day one he was a threat. His career, where he was, what he did or didn’t accomplish before coming here? It doesn’t matter.
There isn’t some gritting of teeth. Scratching his goatee, he continues.
Brandon Youngblood: On August 12th, he made his mark. He proved he’s the greatest wrestler in the world.
Brooks looks at him, perplexed.
Angelica Brooks: I find this…troubling…
A few blank moments pass before she steps forward.
Angelica Brooks: Brandon…as physical as the match was, as intense as it was, it wasn’t without controversy. Phil Atken had you locked in The Shotgun, and you were about to make the ropes until FLAMBERGE made his presence known. It is clear to everyone that you were screwed.
His response is immediate.
Brandon Youngblood: Look…do I have feelings on how that match played out? Of course I do. Look at my face. It’s a mess. It’s still a mess. My nose needed surgery to repair the damage done. On that night, Phil Atken brought everything he had. Did I overlook him? No. Did he hit me harder than I expected? You’re damn right he did.
He looks at the camera, stepping from the corner.
Brandon Youngblood: But I ain’t Randall Knox. I’m not going to stand here, magnanimous when it suits me, and when I get answers I don’t like, pitch a bitch fit from a hospital bed. I will take nothing away from Phil Atken, the competitor, the wrestler. Do I agree with how he views the world? Hell no. Do I agree with some of what he’s done here? Hell no. But on that night, Phil Atken took decades of frustration…he fought…he represented people that believed in him…that depend on him…and he won the greatest prize in the history of our sport.
A shrug of the shoulders.
Brandon Youngblood: Now I could stand here and diminish all that. I could try and make him an afterthought. Call into question all of it. Make it about me. But again, I’m not Randall Knox. This isn’t me sitting here, asking the question about another five minutes. He deserves to hold the Universal Championship. Yeah…FLAMBERGE grabbed that bottom rope…
His tone shifts into a growl.
Brandon Youngblood: And believe me…when that little prick gets put in the ring with me, he’s a dead man.
The threat out of the way, his voice returns to normal.
Brandon Youngblood: But am I going to sit here, talk to you, talk to all the fans and say ‘if I grab those ropes, I rally and suplex my way through adversity and retain’? I could. But I won’t. Because reality is…we will never know about that night. We don’t know if I get up and hit another half nelson or a Randallplex. We don’t know if it doesn’t matter and he gets me in another Shotgun. And I’m not about to drive myself crazy doing so. And I’m not going to piss on Phil Atken either.
He eases his back against the turnbuckles.
Brandon Youngblood: But what I will say? I didn’t get to where I am by rolling over. Phil Atken gave me one of the worst beatings I’ve ever had in a wrestling ring. For some, that might be the end. They’d say it’s not worth it to get back up and go for more. The road to the Universal Championship is the hardest there is. Nothing is given. I know there’s no immediate rematch coming my way. Every title opportunity, I had to win my way there through gauntlets. Tournaments. Halos. Everything I’ve ever gotten here, I’ve had to fight and scrape and claw for. Lindsay Troy isn’t going to make my path easy. I’m not Cancer Jiles or Julian Bathory…I don’t get to tie my way to another shot. I’m not GREAT SCOTT, failing forward to an automatic rematch because that prick Melvin Beauregard and his PWA is caping for me.
The disgust is palpable. He turns toward Angelica.
Brandon Youngblood: And as hard as it will be, this isn’t the end, Angie.
Only to refocus back to the camera.
Brandon Youngblood: Phil? Congratulations. I have a challenge for you. You bring that same fight you had against me to UltraViolence. Take down Bathory and Jiles. Keep fighting. Define your legacy as a great Universal Champion. Bring out the very best you have and keep getting better. I demand it. Me? I’m gonna do the same. I’ll learn. I’ll grow. I’ll get better. Because I’m coming for you…and I won’t accept anything but your best.
And with that said, the Tower of Babel steps through the ropes, and takes his leave.
Angelica Brooks: Strong words from the former champion.
Let ReVival 14 get underway.