THE VOLLEY BEFORE THE BATTLE
And from Buster Gloves, we return to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, quickly followed by an unmistakable cry that sends the entire arena into a frenzy.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH surges through the arena, the entrance ramp bathed in blinding crimson and white strobing light. The ovation only gets more frenetic as the PRIME Universal Champion pushes his way through the curtain, a daunting, powerful stride to his manner as he begins to make his way to the ring.
Nick Stuart: And here HE is!
Richard Parker: The Cancer Killer. The Winner of the Marathon. PRIME’s Tower of Babel.
Nick Stuart: These fans are going wild as Brandon Youngblood makes his way to the ring! Undefeated since the ReVival. The Almasy Tournament Champion. And as of now…with two successful defenses to his name. He’s faced all comers. But tonight…we know…we know what is on the horizon.
Richard Parker: Glue. A world of glue.
Youngblood isn’t dressed to compete, but he’d be quick to be able to throw down if needed in his street clothes. The Universal Championship slung over his shoulder, there is no hesitation in his movement, his expression stern, and without a second thought, he climbs the ring steps, stepping between the ropes, and as he does, he lifts his title into the air, facing the hard camera, then turning toward the entrance ramp, lowering it and slinging it back over his shoulder. Turning his head, Vince Howard goes from his place and hands the Only Diamond a microphone, receiving a nod in acknowledgment. As his theme downshifts and begins to climb again, his arm explodes upward once more, letting out a mighty roar that is matched by the fans in attendance.
Nick Stuart: Last week, Youngblood said he would come out to the ring…and he wanted the current number one contender…the Humble Proprietor of The Glue Factory, to meet him. And while he is here tonight, we don’t know if he will accept the challenge.
Richard Parker: Phil Atken isn’t a coward. He’s going to be here. We know it. Thinking he won’t be…that’s a mistake I’d expect from Dusk. Not from Youngblood.
The theme fades, but the cheering barely ebbs. Standing in the center of the ring, Brandon looks to the crowd, smirking, bringing the microphone near his lips, ready to speak. But before he can…
This causes a wide smile to break across the Tower of Babel’s face. And from the depths of his powerful frame, he lets them know his appreciation.
Brandon Youngblood: HELL YEAH TO THE BEST FANS IN THE WORLD!
Brandon Youngblood: LAS VEGAS IS DIAMOND COUNTRY!
Another massive ovation.
Extending the microphone, he swings around the ring, letting it all soak through to the fans at home, everything fueling an unmistakable intensity as the Universal Champion slams his massive fist into his own chest, his head shaking, unable to contain his joy.
Brandon Youngblood: That’s what I’m talking about! That’s what I’m talking about! PRIME just got a lot of friends out there, but they got to know…they’re on notice…because this place…here…what WE have in the MGM Grand…that’s what they’ve got to get up to! That’s the level they have to reach! Here…PRIME…after being silent for a damn decade…and in less than a year…it’s like we never left! And it’s because of the awesome wrestling talent we have that fills every part of our roster…
PRIME PRIME PRIME!
Brandon Youngblood: It’s rising stars like Hayes Hanlon!
After a monumental, career defining victory over Cancer Jiles, what else can you expect? Youngblood nods his head.
Brandon Youngblood: No slaps needed, Hayes. Picked up the pieces after losing the 5 Star Championship to Rezin–
Brandon Youngblood: Hey…he’s got his coming in a few moments. GREAT SCOTT…you got guys like him coming on your heels! It’s guys like Nate Colton ready for anything! It’s Ria Nightshade and Anna Daniels and The Anglo Luchador and Mortimer Ka-Jet-Lag throwing down in barbwire…kicking ass…putting their hearts and their BLOOD on the line to make a statement! It’s tag teams doing what nobody else in the history of PRIME were able to do…main eventing Great American Nightmare! Fighting For Nora–
Brandon Youngblood: And The Kings of Popsicles–
Brandon Youngblood: Every tag team in the world? You’re on notice. You want to prove you’re the best? You do it in a PRIME ring. Against the best! And while they take Tag Team wrestling to a new era…if you want to prove you’re the best wrestler in the world…there’s only one way to prove it.
A dramatic pause. A few steps forward. And as he speaks, he raises the Universal Championship.
Brandon Youngblood: Beat me.
Another raucous ovation at this. And once it dissipates, he continues, throwing the title over his shoulder.
Brandon Youngblood: Since I became Universal Champion…I haven’t come out here a lot to flap my gums. Maybe I didn’t feel like it was my place. Let others take some of the spotlight we have here because it sure is wide enough. I figured I’d do most of my talking in the ring. Fighting. Each time I’d step in here, I’d make all the statements I’d need. But when I did that…I made a mistake.
He clears his throat momentarily.
Brandon Youngblood: Other people started talking. Making assumptions. Big assumptions. Big bets on themselves. And that spotlight, some of them…they wanted it to shine brightest on them. I said I was on an Unfinished Business tour, and now that that’s done, it’s time to take stock.
He looks at the crowd eager to hear what he has to say.
Brandon Youngblood: Cancer Jiles. Temper Tantrum man. Everything before you. Nothing but excuses. Suplex after suplex. Your insides cracked and broken. You got my blood, you got my knee…but I got you. I put you down again. And again. And I’ll do so. Again. And again. Everytime you step into my ring with me…again. Impulse? You got your answer. And I ain’t gonna say much more…but you can deal with it and live with it however you want.
A sly smirk, only to quickly dissipate.
Brandon Youngblood: I let you guys dominate a narrative. Let you both take shine. Make a lot of assumptions. And that’s fine. But it’s not how it’s gonna be anymore.
He saunters to the near corner, looking out toward the fans.
Brandon Youngblood: When you talk about the best…when you look out on that wide horizon and want to know where you stand? It’s not them that are the measuring stick. It’s Brandon Youngblood.
The focus is made with a snarl.
Brandon Youngblood: And that carries something real heavy moving forward because as much as I’ve rambled, I’m out here to deal with the biggest threat to date. The biggest one I’ve had since years ago…when I faced off against Jason Snow…Phil Atken! Atken! At Great American Nightmare, you said your hand was gonna be raised in a month’s time. Same as the rest of them. You talked about a better PRIME. You ain’t a coward. You’re gonna say it to my face.
(I Want to be The One) To Watch You Die by The Megas begins to boom all over the sound system, the boos raining down heavy. It’s not as though Phil Atken needs to be told to come out; he’s been letting this little scene play out, readying how he’ll strike toward it, being as quick as he is vicious. The Proprietor of The Glue Factory finally arrives, the resplendent Philip Martin Atken dressed in a dashing violet three piece suit, joined at his side by his Chief of Security, the seven foot monster, Hank. The tandem begin their march towards the ring, expressionless, their glowers threatening as ever.
Upon reaching the ring, Atken leaps up on top of the apron, wiping his shoes on the edge of the canvas. Hank has procured a microphone from Vince Howard, who is shaking from the experience. Making his way over, the Chief of Security holds open the ring ropes and allows his boss to enter the ring. Hank takes his place in the corner, handing the microphone off the Atken as his boss makes his way to the center of the ring, coming within arm’s reach of the Universal Champion.
The Megas fade away. The tension is palpable. And in the midst of all this, Youngblood extends the Universal Championship toward the face of the Humble Proprietor.
Brandon Youngblood: You called this a bullhorn. Your fifteen minutes have started. Better make them count, Ozymandias.
Atken’s face curls up in a manner implying we’re uncertain if snarling or smirking. Atken gives a gentle golf clap as he raises the microphone to his facehole.
Phil Atken: Nice to see you so energetic Bloody. I was just standing in the back and I truly felt moved by your kind words to the hungry talent of the PRIME roster. It’s a shame it took you so long to find that voice of yours. I mean, some would say the timing is awfully convenient, wouldn’t they? I have to wonder if you’re perhaps concerned that many of the people you’ve just mentioned are beginning to think I have a point.
Youngblood doesn’t move an inch, just looking at Atken with a bemused expression that could be interpreted in a million different ways.
Phil Atken: It’s a little bit upsetting that you left Great American Nightmare with the Universal Championship. I liked my odds better with someone who would certainly underestimate me. Unfortunately, the title had to remain in the hands of the one man who has been paying attention from the start. Still, my expectations for the Universal title remain the same.
Atken tilts his head a little and glares at the Universal Championship, almost completely taken in by it for a few moments before he snaps back to attention.
Phil Atken: Sometimes an old face can be a fresh face. There’s a lot of talent from an endless sea of promotions who are watching PRIME with a lot of interest right now. They want to find out if this company provides real opportunity or platitudes. It’s nice for a Universal Champion to come at and volley a lot of attaboys while still feeling vastly superior deep down, and people can tell, people can tell it’s all politics. Meanwhile, Phil Atken as Universal Champion? That opens the floodgates of potential and imagination. PRIME no longer mired in the swamp of the Old Guard. Bloody, buddy, I appreciate you slayed the gatekeeper. It means I can kick you right through that gate to a bold new tomorrow.
The title descends, then falls to the canvas. And it’s holder? He draws ever closer. As he does, Hank steps forward from his corner, but Atken puts his hand out toward him, assuring him, having him stand down.
Brandon Youngblood: Make no mistake…when it comes to this ring? I take pride in my accomplishments. Take pride in the work put in to be everything I say. Is there arrogance there? You’re damn right. My words? I don’t do politics. I speak from my gut…from my heart…because when I came back to this? I was gonna do it a better way. You got that arrogance in you too. And your past…my past it brings us here. To this moment. To our paths colliding. But make no mistake…you’re not building your new world off my bones. I’m like no one you’ve ever faced. That goes two ways. What fuels you? I know. I was there. But that Championship? It doesn’t care. It will never care.
Atken looks out at the crowd of the Grand, and there’s a clear buzz of anticipation, they see Youngblood edging closer to Atken’s face and are expecting some action. Atken’s eyes gaze upwards, his bottom lip curling in as he bites down upon it. Atken begins to nod his head up and down, clearly trying to either amp himself up or calm himself down, but there’s a clear nervous energy about the normally composed competitor. Youngblood doesn’t back down an inch.
Phil Atken: We’re not doing this here. We’re not doing this now.
Atken takes a few steps back and rolls out under the bottom rope, Hank taking to his side as he looks back up at Youngblood.
Phil Atken: Nothing for me to gain right now. You’ll get to work me out when we step in the ring for the title.
Atken gestures to Hank to follow as he slowly turns his back on Youngblood and heads back to the ramp. The previously excited crowd is now showering boos down upon Atken, who seems incredibly unperturbed by the reaction.
Cracking his head, the expected thing would be to call Atken a coward. Or perhaps try to goad him in other ways. But in truth, as imposing a threat as Youngblood may be, he never sought or anticipated violence in this night. Instead, as the behemoth Hank exits the ring, Brandon just nods his head.
The fans might be booing the lack of action, but as the Universal Champion scoops up his belt and pumps it skyward, the mood changes into a roar of cheers.
They were ready for a battle before.
Like the two men about to face off? They’re ready for an absolute war.