THE VEGETABLE AGE
We get a shot of a familiar championship belt. It’s the 5-Star Championship. As the camera pans back, it shows the man who freshly won that belt in a hard-fought war just two weeks ago in Coral Avalon. The Crownless King walks casually down the hallway, occasionally exchanging polite nods with whoever passes him by. The man’s positively beaming.
Then his smile relaxes a little and he slows down. He sees a man he’s interested in talking to. After all, they hadn’t had a chance to exchange pleasantries since his dramatic return to PRIME just under two months ago.
Coral Avalon: Ah, Chandler, good to see you. How’s the, uh… you know, I’m just glad you’re not dead after the last show. It looked a little touch-and-go there.
He resumes his smile. On the receiving end is the Model Citizen, newly returned to the fold in PRIME, and already infamous for familiar histrionics. If Coral remembers Tsonda crying wolf last week, Chandler certainly doesn’t.
Chandler Tsonda: (clapping) The conquering hero! Coral Five Stars! A guy among dudes! What’s the thing, my Crownless King?
Coral keeps up his smile despite realizing that Tsonda’s not even going to acknowledge anything of what he just said. Typical.
Coral Avalon: Oh, you know, I’m just doing that thing we all do when we don’t have a match, where we wander around backstage until we see someone interesting. And, well… who’s more interesting than the Model Citizen, am I right?
Chandler Tsonda: Now this, this is the PRIME I know and understand. Good guys, bad guys, all of us running into each other like backstage is tinytown!
It’s important to note that, while Tsonda’s aura is friendly, and he has made eye contact with Coral, his eyes flit to the 5-Star Title in a way that makes him look like he’s got a twitch. His precious.
Chandler Tsonda: Say, man, you think I could ask you a…uhhh…serious question? Just one universally beloved voice of the people to another?
Coral Avalon: Chandler Tsonda asking serious questions? Shut the front door! That doesn’t happen, does it?
Coral Avalon: Well, alright, so I don’t know about the whole “universally beloved voice of the people” business, I just kinda do my own thing. But sure, fire away.
The Model Citizen nods, and leans in conspiratorially. Of course, the camera follows.
Chandler Tsonda: Does it seem a little quiet around here? A little…too quiet?
It is very normal in the life of Chandler Tsonda to make conversation like this on camera with someone he just met. Just roll with it.
Chandler Tsonda: PRIME used to be barely organized chaos. People summoning eldritch, SCCW invasions, I think one time a ghost inhabited my body? You know, normal wrestling stuff. But I was clear on one thing: everybody was out for number one. It’s how I came up, and I assume the same is true of you. And now…
The Sultan of Style shakes his head, a clear look of confusion painted across his million-dollar mug.
Chandler Tsonda: It seems like there’s an awful lot of people respecting each other?! And the competition is solely on merit? Must be a ruse, right?
Coral Avalon: Does it weird you out that not everyone here is carrying around knives and looking for backs to put them in? I remember how cutthroat PRIME used to be, so I know what you mean. And also, the last time I was on national television, a swamp monster tried to murder me with light tubes and piledrivers. Uh, but not Paxton Ray. Different swamp monster.
He shrugs his shoulders.
Coral Avalon: Although, if you ask me, maybe some people just mellowed out with age. Look at Youngblood. The guy used to try to end careers. He certainly tried to end mine once or twice, and it didn’t really take. Now he’s out there shaking hands and hugging babies and representing the company again.
The Crownless King’s easy smile widens, extremely proud of himself that he didn’t misplace the adjectives for hands and babies. That’s happened once or twice, and it’s very awkward every time.
Coral Avalon: Also, I don’t know if you noticed, but our boss is Lindsay Troy and she took up falconry since I last saw her. Or whatever the owling equivalent of falconry is. She doesn’t exactly tolerate a lot of the old shenanigans.
Chandler Tsonda: Exactly. So while I can’t say for sure that Troy, Youngblood, and the like have been replaced by their lizard people replicas, it’s not entirely off the table. Good to know you’re with me, Avalon. You’re good people.
The 5-Star Champion has given zero indication he supports this theory, it should be noted for the potential future legal ramifications.
Chandler Tsonda: Either way, I gotta find a new nemesis, which I’m sure you know is, like, a whole thing. (sighing, wistful) Gone are the days where you could throw a stone in the general direction of Tony Gamble just because it’s fun, and end up hitting 3-4 genuine supervillains along the way. What’s a guy to do about finding a black-hearted bastard to hate with every fiber of his being?!
Coral’s smile remains easy, but one can tell that even he’s having a hard time grasping the whole “lizard people” argument.
Coral Avalon: I mean, there’s this funny thing that happens sometimes where people… change? It’s weird, I know. But it’s like… when you’re a kid, you don’t like vegetables all that much, right? And then, as you get older, your tastes mature and suddenly vegetables are great. I think PRIME is like that. PRIME’s in its vegetable age now.
Let it be known that PRIME does not endorse calling its current ReVival era the “Vegetable Age”.
Coral Avalon: Though I don’t think anyone would complain if you threw more stones at Tony Gamble. I’m pretty sure that’s actually a company policy.
Chandler Tsonda: People change. Agree. They change into possibly reptilian replicas that explain unprecedented behavior. This is exactly what I’m saying. Coral, my man, I’m loving how simpatico we are here.
Hard to say what percentage of the 5-Star Champion’s words that Tsonda has actually listened to, but you’d be safe to take the under no matter what.
Chandler Tsonda: So if PRIME has become Veggie Tales, you’re saying I just have to find my red meat.
No one has said that.
Chandler Tsonda: I like the cut of your jib, Avalon. And I think you’ve given me some inspiration.
Coral Avalon: Well, I’m not sure how much of that I actually agree with, but I believe they say that a “cut of my jib” is distinctly in the red meat direction.
No one has said that, either.
Coral Avalon: So, you’re welcome? I think?
Tsonda does the two-fingers-to-the-forehead gesture that signals mutual understanding.
Chandler Tsonda: I’ll text you. Time for Chan to down some red meat.
Strange parting words from the Model Citizen, but not any stranger than the rest of them. Coral nods as he walks off, and starts to walk in another direction. Then he stops, and turns to look over his shoulder.
Coral Avalon: …He doesn’t have my number, does he?
He briefly considers going back to telling him. Instead, he just shrugs his shoulders and continues on his merry way as we cut elsewhere to a guy with a big ass and another guy who is just an asshole.