THE ORANGE: PART TWO
Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen… what a couple of nights, what a weekend here in the Big Apple and the return of Colossus! And we are drawing near to our main event of Night Two, where the Universal Championship will be decided.
Richard Parker: I’m exhausted
Nick Stuart: Hang in there, buddy. We’ve got…
Nicks leaves Richard hanging as a commotion a couple rows from ringside has a buzz filtering through Madison Square Garden. A large figure pushes his way to the barricade. Shaved head, stubble beard, well tanned in a suit that looks custom. Without a pause, the man hops over the rail and steps toward the ring.
Nick Stuart: What’s… is that…?
A couple members of Security start to move towards the individual, but they quickly recognize him, and he holds up a piece of paper in his hand with the PRIME logo, unmistakable, atop the form.
Richard Parker: Holy smokes!
Nick Stuart: It is! That’s Kaiser Vashaun!
As the one-time Next In Line hops onto the apron and steps between the ropes, his image is cast onto the PRIME*View and the crowd pops for the former 5 Star & Intense Champion. With no hesitation, he heads to the far ropes and request a microphone.
Richard Parker: He’s back! PRIME is gonna be huge in 2023!
Nick Stuart: This is unbelievable!
Vashaun casts a sly grin across the arena as he raises the mic to his lips
Kaiser Vashaun: Feels good to be back. Been a real long time and feels real damn good.
The Next in Line pauses just a moment, glancing at the papers in his hand as he raises them in display for the crowd
Kaiser Vashaun: I don’t want to waste everyone’s time, so I’ll cut to the chase. Y’all may know my history with Matt Ward, what you may not know is that Matt has decided to step down from his role in Talent Relations to spend more time with his family. And, wanting to make sure he leaves PRIME in a good spot, he called me up last week and told me he had one more spot available. And he offered me this contract.
Kaiser gives the papers a quick shake.
Kaiser Vashaun: It was an unexpected call. I told him to give me some time to mull it over, and Matt said “Hey, why don’t you fly out to New York for the lead-up to Colossus and we’ll talk”. We met Thursday night as final touches were being readied for the big show. He asked me to sign, handed me pen & paper, and I… I told him to give me another couple nights to think it over. Let me take in the show at ringside, feel that rush.
Kaiser Vashaun: Well, here we are. And as I hold this contract now…
The lights in the arena plunge to darkness. In a moment of déjà vu, the PRIME*View burst to life with scenes of midwestern sunsets.
Richard Parker: The hell? This again?
And then the deep bass of Sam Elliott’s voice.
They say, “Beware the old man in a profession where they all die young.”
This business has no mercy on youth.
It will chew a kid up, spit them out…
Break the spirit of the strongest Youngblood.
But those who make it till the dusk…
They come to find there’s something in the orange.
All the while knowing this business will never love you.
Now, the scene changes to an old warehouse of some sort. Still, orange sunlight pours in thru the windows, casting everything in shadows. A wrestling ring stands in the middle of the otherwise empty room and the camera starts to move in towards a solitary figure, leaning on the ropes, head down. The narration continues.
One day it’ll even look you dead in the eyes and say…
“I don’t love you…”
The figure on the PRIME*View looks up and the camera locks on familiar eyes.
“I Fucking Hate You”
The crowd becomes unhinged as the sounds of Godsmack’s “I Fucking Hate You” tears thru the Garden, even if its near impossible to hear.
Nick Stuart: What is this?!?!
At the top of the entrance set, the man known as The Inhuman Being steps into view and, somehow, the roar of the crowd grows even louder.
Nick Stuart: Matt Ward! Tchu is here! Live!
Richard Parker: I thought he was stepping down as a VP and going home to his wife & kids?!
The one-and-only 3-time Universal Champion makes his way down to the ring, up the steps and stops at the ropes for a moment to stare down his former protégé. Slowly, Ward steps between the ropes and walks towards Vashuan.
Nick Stuart: For the first time in decade, The Inhuman Being is in a PRIME ring on live broadcast!
Richard Parker: What the hell is going on?
As the man once known as PRIME’s Wrecking Ball steps towards Vashaun, the music fades and the lights return to normal. Kaiser holds out his hands in the universal “what the hell” gesture, and his microphone barely picks up Tchu’s words as The Inhuman Being takes one aggressive step forward to close all distance.
“Should of signed when ya had the chance”
In an instant, The Inhuman Being explodes forward with a headbutt that sends Vashaun staggering back, straight into the ropes.
Richard Parker: What is that?!
Kaiser hits the cables and stumbles back towards the waiting PRIME Hall of Famer. Two arms. One sleeper hold. Held for just a moment. And then…
Nick Stuart: DOWNFALL!!!
Richard Parker: Why?!?!
The crowd doesn’t necessarily understand either, but they don’t seem to care, going nuts as the back of Vashaun’s head bounces off the canvas.
Ward stands and glares down, before reaching and picking up the microphone and contract Vashaun had been holding. Ward raises the mic, taking deep breaths, perhaps from adrenaline, perhaps his 46 years showing.
Tchu: Ya had a week to think about this, Kaiser, and ya hesitated. You never hesitate in this business.
Ward casts his gaze up and looks toward the crowd before spinning towards the hard cam
Tchu: Some of what Kaiser said tonight is true. In early November, I gave Lindsay Troy notice that I would be stepping down from my executive role. But after Kaiser got cute last night and asked for another 24 hours… I started thinking. And after a loooong night, a lotta contemplation and next to no sleep, I had a change of heart. I decided there was someone else who I’d rather offer up that roster spot to.
Ward looks down at the contract and the crowd starts buzzing. Everyone knows whats coming, but they hang in anticipation anyways.
Richard Parker: No….
The PRIME Hall of Famer plucks the pen from the top of the contract and quickly scribbles his signature across the bottom of the page.
Nick Stuart: Are you kidding me?!
Tchu: No more suits. No more ties. No more VP gig.
Ward spins slowly in a circle, center of the ring, looking at the thousands of fans all around the arena.
Tchu: The Inhuman Being is back.
As the crowd loses its mind, Ward tosses the mic, then looks down at Vashaun and lets the contract go, the pages fluttering and landing across the chest of a lifeless Next in Line.