The broadcast fades as the production cues up the pre-taped footage.
The scene is a standard interview set-up. Soft mood lighting on a stylized PRIME backdrop. A couple seats. A couple ferns.
Simon Tillier, PRIME’s chipper and ever-enthusiastic junior backstage reporter, is seated in one of the two plush gray armchairs, absentmindedly primping at the corners of his navy suit.
Then he notices the camera rolling, and quickly perks to attention. His characteristically boyish grin spreads across his face
Simon Tillier: Hello, ladies and gentlemen! Simon Tillier here!
A chyron with his name appears below him, for those at home who are presumably hard of hearing.
Simon Tillier: Tonight, fans, PRIME Wrestling is proud to provide you an exclusive in-depth look into a highly anticipated new star who will soon be joining the locker room!
He holds out his arm, gesturing to the off-screen figure in the other chair.
Simon Tillier: At this time, allow me to introduce my guest… Kerry Kuroyama!
Cut to camera two, trained on the seat across from Simon.
PRIME gets its first real glimpse at Kerry Kuroyama, casually reclining in his own plush seat. Kuroyama is a rather regal and statuesque man of thirty, adorned in a dark emerald suit complimented with a black shirt and gold chain.
The chyron reappears, now with the interviewee’s name. Production graciously leaves up a few seconds longer than normal.
A chance for the mush-mouthed lowlifes watching at home to read over the last name a couple times in hopes that they get the pronunciation right.
Simon Tillier: Kerry, thanks for joining me this afternoon! And a pleasure to formally meet you!
Kuroyama nods once in acknowledgement of Simon’s greeting. Firm and deliberate.
Kerry Kuroyama: Honored.
Cut to camera three, which fits both men into the shot. Tillier, brimming with an earnest sort of buzz for this opportunity, is upright and on the edge of his seat with his notes in hand. Across from him, Kerry is relaxed and reposed. The image of tranquility.
Simon Tillier: Well, Kerry, I know I don’t speak only for myself when I say that there are many here in PRIME who are eager to get to know “the Pacific Blitzkrieg” of Vae Victis fame. Especially given your work over in our tertiary competitor, DEFIANCE Wrestling.
The corners of Kuroyama’s mouth curl into a slight smile. It’s understated, yet still somehow brimming with confidence.
Kerry Kuroyama: My reputation precedes me. I’m relieved to hear that
Simon clears his throat while his handles fiddle with his notecards.
Simon Tillier: So, fill us in on a bit of a background. From what I’m told, you’ve been wrestling now for over a decade?
Kerry affirms that the junior reporter did indeed do his homework with a slight nod.
Kerry Kuroyama: Twelve years, professionally. Though technically, I’ve been working the ring since I was fifteen.
Simon Tillier: Really? That’s quite an early start. But then, I’m told you are a third-generation athlete.
Kerry Kuroyama: Correct.
Simon Tillier: So I suppose wrestling was always expected of you, it being the family business? Continuing the family legacy, and what have you?
Kerry looks to a nondescript point off camera for a beat as he mulls over an answer.
Kerry Kuroyama: …more or less. I can certainly say that coming from a family of wrestlers factored into choosing this career path.
His eyes find Simon again. Thunderous conviction underlines the serious tone of his voice.
Kerry Kuroyama: But nevertheless, Simon, the choice was my own.
Tillier nods, understanding.
Simon Tillier: I think I see what you’re saying. Well then, let’s move forward from your humble beginnings as a young up-and-coming pedigree talent from Seattle, and talk about your time in New Orleans, working for DEFIANCE.
A paradoxical sound.
Long and heavy. Dripping with both fondness and utter exhaustion.
Kerry Kuroyama: Many, many great people down there in New Orleans, doing many, many great things in the name of professional wrestling.
Then his face grows taut. The smile comes off more as a sneer. It’s as though somebody held up a carton of spoiled milk under his nose.
Kerry Kuroyama: …and… some others.
Simon Tillier: What was it like, working there?
Kerry spends a beat to ponder on how exactly he wants to answer that question.
Because there are many ways of going about it. And he’s not sure any one answer would fully encapsulate the situation.
Kerry Kuroyama: DEFIANCE… was a solid paycheck for the past eight years.
Simon blinks. Balks, almost. It wasn’t quite the answer he was expecting.
Kerry Kuroyama: Like any federation, it had its highs and its lows. In the case of the former, working alongside legends like Lindsay Troy, Henry Keyes, and Sonny Silver in Vae Victis.
Simon Tillier: And the lows?
His smile reappears, a bit wider and more relaxed.
Kerry Kuroyama: Well… let me just say that DEFIANCE is a place that fosters a certain kind of culture. One that, after eight years of the grind, I’ve honestly become a bit weary of.
Simon’s eyebrow arches.
Simon Tillier: Is that so? Please elaborate more on that “culture”, as you put it. How does it compare to what we have here in PRIME?
Kerry emits a low, but warm, chuckle in the back of his throat.
Kerry Kuroyama: That’s a loaded question, Simon… but I’ll give it my best.
Kuroyama uncrosses his legs and sits up, bringing himself closer to the interviewer. Simon also edges further toward the edge of his seat, hanging on every word.
Kerry Kuroyama: It’s a culture that values things like “the entertainment factor”, over the sanctity of the sport. A culture that values stories and soap operas, over wins and losses.
His eyes narrow. His head tilts.
Kerry Kuroyama: A culture where the only way to get ahead is to grease palms, kiss ass, and make a fool out of yourself. And if you’re patient, and show up, and work hard, and be a good sport around the thigh-slappers whenever they go and do their indulgent, contrived acrobat bullshit, then maybe–maybe… the Big Bankers that fancy themselves wrestling promoters will give you a title opportunity.
Kerry Kuroyama: Just so some asshole can tear it away from you… and never have to answer for it.
Between his knees, Kerry’s palms firmly rub into one another.
Almost a bit too firm. Borderline aggressive, even.
Kerry Kuroyama: But above all that, it’s a culture that is alarmingly regressing back into a darker time. A time that many of us had hoped was long gone. All by opening its doors to select ne’er-do-wells who should have stayed under whatever rock they crawled out of. A culture that tries to pass off novelty acts as professional athletes. Gamers. Snowflakes. Clowns. Vampires.
That sour milk expression returns.
Kerry Kuroyama: Stoner punks…
He grunts, and continues.
Kerry Kuroyama: Eighteenth-century strongmen with stupid accents and fragile egos. Washed up divas who stupidly believe the Gilmore Girls somehow translate to wrestling. Gothic sadbois with basement chemistry labs where they brew up monster serum. Ned Reform. Every manner of circus sideshow, using that squared circle as a stage to either play out their life drama, or their practice their stand-up routine.
The corners of his jawline slightly pulsate, suggesting the grinding of teeth.
Kerry Kuroyama: I existed within that culture for eight years before I finally realized I no longer had any place in it.
He points to his chest.
Kerry Kuroyama: At my core, Simon, I am not an entertainer. I am a competitor.
Tillier, who has remained silent over the course of this deposition, now sees his chance to bring the interview back full circle.
Simon Tillier: And so, here we are at the present day, with your coming to PRIME. Would you say this is the culture you’d rather be a part of?
Kerry Kuroyama: That’s exactly why I’m here, Simon. Based on everything I’ve seen happen in this company over the past two years, I’m confident that PRIME is the place where competition is king. A place where success isn’t simply something to be gifted to me on the basis of good behavior and time served.
He points to the ground beneath his feat. A figurative gesture.
Kerry Kuroyama: Here in PRIME, success is something to be taken.
Simon is taking it all in. His energy has quieted down from the beginning of the interview.
On the other hand, Kuroyama’s presence and overall attitude has subtly grown more forceful and intimidating. He’s hardly the laid back, well-dressed gentleman the junior reporter first met only a few minutes ago.
He’s become something else.
As if breaking from a trance, Tillier sees that the notes in his hands have somehow wrinkled and faded through absentminded fiddling about. He sets them aside and decides to wing it going forward.
Simon Tillier: I see. So then, I suppose I should ask, what sort of success do you intend to take for yourself here? As in, what’s your overall goal in PRIME?
Kuroyama holds out his hands.
Kerry Kuroyama: What other goal is there? The Universal Championship. The undisputed greatest prize in the modern era of professional wrestling. The endgame for any well-meaning wrestler with the right amount of heart and talent.
There’s no hesitation in his voice. No mistaking his intentions.
Simon’s eyes stay on him, transfixed.
Kerry Kuroyama: My absolute goal is to claim the summit of the PRIME mountain. To join the ranks of timeless legends like Brandon Youngblood. Hayes Hanlon. Nova. Chandler Tsonda. Cancer Jiles. Phil Atken.
Simon’s face brightens.
Simon Tillier: Rezin?
Kerry’s face darkens.
Kerry Kuroyama: …
Simon Tillier: …
The silence lingers for a long and painfully awkward beat.
Long enough to impress upon the junior reporter that Kerry Kuroyama is not a man to be interrupted.
Especially when bringing up that particular shithead.
Picking up on the tension, Simon realizes his folly and appears to shrink further into his chair. Then finally–and perhaps somewhat graciously–he clears his throat with a light grunt and continues.
Kerry Kuroyama: The point I want to get across to you, Simon–as well as the millions watching at home–is that an athlete of my caliber and ambition doesn’t come to a place like this without a certain amount of confidence in his ability to get what he sets himself after.
Kuroyama turns in his seat and looks dead into the camera.
Deep within his dark eyes, a storm is brewing.
Kerry Kuroyama: I don’t want a single one of you mistaking my intentions. I didn’t come to PRIME to make friends. I came here to drop motherfuckers on their heads, and put gold around this waist. You can watch it happen soon, come the Almasy Invitational. To those of you in the locker room who have the capacity to pull your head out of your ass and pay attention, let me send this message to you: Step up, or step the fuck aside. You’re out of time, and I’m out of patience.
Kerry looks back over to his esteemed interviewer.
Kerry Kuroyama: …we’re done here then, yes?
Simon Tillier: (stammering) I–uhhm…
Before Tillier can protest or react, Kuroyama is up and on his feet. In seconds, the mic and bodypack come off and go into the now empty seat.
Production cuts to camera one, trained on the interviewer. Kerry’s emerald suit flashes by as he passes between the camera and Simon in his walk off the set.
Tillier helplessly watches him leave, and is left awkwardly staring into the camera with nothing left to say.
Dead air for several seconds.
Production, sensing this is going nowhere, fades to black.