TONY GAMBLE vs. BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD
The Amalie Arena darkens. The shift in ambiance has the fans rise to their feet, the sound rising. And then, cutting through it all, The Battlecry.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
From the very start of Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH, Brandon Youngblood surges from the curtain and into the well of sound filling the arena. Through the blinding blue and white strobing light cutting through the darkness, the Tower of Babel powerwalks, his eyes trained forward, an oppressive scowl of intensity a hallmark painting his face.
His shoulders sway with the bravado of his BMF walk, a spotlight lighting his path. The 2022 Wrestler of the Year is quick down the ramp, his gait swinging him around the arena floor, to the ring steps. There is no slowdown as his feet pound the steel, stepping between the ropes and exploding upright. Once inside, he begins pacing around the outside perimeter of the ring, his eyes locking toward the curtain, all as Vince Howard makes his announcement.
Vince Howard: Introducing first…hailing from Bandera, Texas by way of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada… weighing in at 270 pounds… he is…THE DIIIIIIAMOND! OF THE REVIVAL! BRAAAAAAAANDON! YOUNGBLOOOOOOOOOD!
The lights return, and as they do, the Suplex Daddy readies himself in an amateur stance, his hands on his thighs, a snarl of disdain curling his lips. If looks could kill, the next person out is already dead.
Nick Stuart: Brandon Youngblood is all business here tonight, Rich.
Richard Parker: Yeah, well, business hadn’t exactly been booming at Suplex Industries lately, have they?
Nick Stuart: …Suplex Industries?
Richard Parker: LLC.
Nick Stuart: I mean, you’re right in that Youngblood’s been in a bit of a slump lately. His last singles win was against Larry Tact back in October. His opponent is a Hall of Famer, and despite his record since coming back to PRIME, he isn’t one to be underestimated.
“You think I’m funny? Funny how?”
The familiar voice of Al Pacino’s Scarface echoes in the arena, as Metallica’s “Better Than You” revs up. Youngblood’s eyes narrow as he spies Tony Gamble walking to the ring, proudly wearing his “#standing4Rhine” T-shirt as he heads to the ring. It’s a T-shirt that he, and probably only he, is proud of.
Vince Howard: His opponent! From Las Vegas, Nevada! He weighs in tonight at one hundred and eighty-seven pounds! THIS IS… TONY “THE GRIIIIIIIIIIN”… GAAAAAAAMBLLLLLLLEEEEEE!!!
Tony takes his time getting to the ring, letting the video of his career highlights play behind him. You know those highlights by now. Winning Jewel in the Crown. Defeating Jason Snow and Jay Phoenix for the 5-Star Championship. All those times he had Wade Elliott’s number. Beating at one point stopping to argue with a fan at ringside.
Nick Stuart: Tony Gamble’s also a name that hasn’t had the best luck as of late, Rich.
Richard Parker: True adoration comes from adversity, Nick.
Gamble enters the ring with a smile on his face. Oh, wait, that’s the scar. Either way, he makes a point to show off his cool shirt to the hard camera.
Nick Stuart: Why is he in that shirt!? How is he allowed to wear that abomination!?
Even Richard Parker doesn’t have an answer for that.
Of course, part of the reason for that is that Brandon Youngblood immediately walks over to Gamble and taps him on the shoulder. Gamble, perhaps thinking it’s the referee asking to check him for all of the foreign objects he definitely has on his person, turns to find himself standing face-to-face with his opponent. You know, the 6’3”, 270 pound Tower of Babel who’s staring daggers through him. Gamble is frozen for a few moments, allowing Youngblood plenty of time to hit him with a knife-edged chop.
DING DING DING
The shirt only somewhat protects Gamble’s supple flesh. The rest of his body reacts as most people would when getting chopped by a man with arms like tree trunks. Muscular tree trunks which went to the gym. Forest gym. Where even the twigs gets swole.
Gamble turns and clutches his chest, and tries to get away. Only, he finds himself in the corner with Youngblood too close for him to get away. Youngblood lands another chop. Gamble grimaces.
And then Youngblood grabs hold of his shirt.
A smile dares to crease the Diamond’s lips.
He’s had time to think about this one.
With both hands and a tug, he splits Gamble’s shirt wide open, exposing his chest. Gamble is wide-eyed with shock. Part of it is doubtlessly because that’s a vintage #standing4Rhine T-shirt that he thinks will sell like hotcakes here in Tampa. Part of it is because he knows what’s about to happen.
Richard Parker: OH GOD!
Nick Stuart: There aren’t very many men in PRIME, or anywhere else in the world, with chops like that!
Richard Parker: CALL THE POLICE!
Tony Gamble is smiling. Oh, wait. My bad. That’s just what his face looks like. Tony Gamble is definitely not smiling. He’s in shock, an expression like he just had a bucket of ice water dumped on his face. Youngblood shoves him back into the corner and does it again.
Nick Stuart: Youngblood is lighting Tony Gamble up like it’s New Year’s all over again!
Richard Parker: CALL THE NATIONAL GUARD!
Okay. Tony Gamble is very much not smiling about any of this, even the scar that gives him his nickname can’t hide this. He wants to escape the corner, looking pleadingly to referee Ashley Barlow to get Youngblood off of him. She is trying to encourage Youngblood to stop chopping Gamble to death, but hasn’t started a five count yet. And all the while, Youngblood takes aim at Tony’s exposed chest again.
Nick Stuart: Brandon Youngblood has already chopped Tony Gamble’s chest red here!
Richard Parker: CALL THE SPACE FORCE!
It’s only now that the referee starts her five count. Youngblood smiles at her. He starts to back off… and just when Gamble thinks he’s in the clear and he can start doing all of the usual Gamble shenanigans, Youngblood uncorks one more chop for good measure.
Richard Parker: NO! CALL THE DEADLY VIPER ASSASSINATION SQUAD!
Tony’s legs fly out from under him and he falls to the canvas in stinging pain. Youngblood doesn’t relent. He pulls Gamble to his feet and launches him halfway across the ring with one of the more ornery suplexes in the Extended Suplex Family, the Head and Arm. That’s the suplex that doesn’t get first dibs at the Suplex Buffet and it’s real pissed off about that, so it’s going to take it out on every single human body it ever encounters. Especially the ones that have vestigial things like arms or a head.
Gamble lands hard on the canvas, flopping like a fish on impact for a few seconds. However, he’s a veteran. He’s a Hall of Famer. has the wherewithal to quickly roll to the outside to regroup. Perhaps he is hoping that the Tower of Babel would perhaps believe that Gamble had been punished enough and that he’d let him breathe.
Youngblood is under no obligation to do any of that bullshit, because it isn’t in his lifetime contract.
He follows Gamble to the floor, stalking after the Grin. Tony does what anyone would in this situation if you were being stalked by a 270 pound “Anger Golem” who also goes by the nickname of “Suplex Daddy”, and flees. Which is to say that he immediately crawls underneath the ring apron to escape from Youngblood. Brandon is in no mood for these sorts of shenanigans, and grabs Tony by the boot.
There’s a brief struggle as Gamble struggles to escape his grip, and then fails and is pulled out.
Okay. We need to find a reason to excuse referee Ashley Barlow here, because Ashley is a good referee and doesn’t deserve to have to referee a Tony Gamble match considering all of the shenanigans he’s going to do here.
Maybe she’s being lenient, knowing that Tony Gamble would resort to this sort of thing early in the match, or that it was happening out on the floor where the rules might be relaxed. Maybe she sees a very fascinating butterfly and is like, “What are you doing here, butterfly? Get out of here!”
That, we’re going to say, is the onomatopoeia for a fire extinguisher doing some extinguishing. As one does with it. Look, Brandon Youngblood looks damn good after losing all that weight a year ago, and Tony knows that his fellow Hall of Famer can’t go on being so hot. He might die! From the heat! So, really, this whole fire extinguisher business is for Youngblood’s benefit, really.
Nick Stuart: Oh, for God’s sakes…
To his credit, Tony feels the steely gaze of Ashley Barlow behind him in the ring, and knows he can’t use the fire extinguisher for its true intended purpose as a bludgeon. He tosses it aside, not caring where it lands. It sprays out a little burst of extinguisher when it lands, dousing some fans in the front row. They’re hot, too. Obviously.
Richard Parker: We should really get that thing checked! It went off in Tony’s hands without his intention!
Nick Stuart: That’s the most far-fetched lie you’ve concocted for Tony Gamble in a long series of far-fetched lies you’ve concocted for Tony Gamble.
Richard Parker: No, it’s a near-fetched truth!
Nick Stuart: That makes no sense!
With the extinguisher discarded, Tony does the next logical step. He charges Youngblood and shoves him with all of his body into the nearby steel steps.
Youngblood hits the stairs and falls over them, landing on his back on the other side. As Youngblood lays stunned on the ground, Tony Gamble looks down and realizes he has some problems. First, Youngblood drew blood on his chest from all those chops, and that’s pretty fucked up. I mean, who does that? Second, his shirt is in tatters. Because of the chopping. And the Youngblood. And the ow.
So, Tony pulls the shirt off, and then does what anyone would in his situation.
He starts trying to strangle Brandon to death with it.
So, really, when we say “anyone”, we mean “anyone with a face scar in the style of a grin named Gamble”.
This one, referee Barlow can’t let go. She slips between the ropes and begins to administer a five count to make Gamble let go. Gamble breaks at four and a half, and then starts arguing with Barlow. If you’re wondering, the words “he isn’t standing up for Rhine!” can be read from his lips.
Richard Parker: Yeah! Get ‘em, Tony!
Nick Stuart: Whose side are you on, anyway?
Richard Parker: I am a broadcast journalist, Nick. I am on no one’s side. Now, let’s watch the most adorable man in PRIME beat the hell out of Brandon Youngblood for the next five or so minutes.
Nick Stuart: You’re incorrigible.
Richard Parker: Ridiculous. I love corgis.
Gamble eventually pushes Youngblood back into the ring, then follows him in and kicks him several times in the head. Then he drops an elbow right onto Youngblood’s back. He gets up and drops a second one. Then he drops a third, this one with an extra flourish and with most of Gamble’s body landing on Youngblood’s spine. Gamble struggles a bit to roll Youngblood over for the cover, what with him being a large meaty man and Tony not being that, but he eventually gets him down to start a count.
Youngblood kicks out at one.
Gamble turns to Barlow and immediately complains that she’s counting too slow and that it should’ve been a three. His complaints quickly stop when he realizes that Youngblood is trying to get to his feet. Of all the things Tony Gamble wanted at this time, Brandon Youngblood standing on his feet is really close to the bottom of that list. So he pounces on Brandon, landing punches to the back of his head as he tries to sit up. When Brandon gets down to one knee, Gamble takes a few steps back and gives Brandon just enough space before he runs up and hits him with a knee to the head.
That’s enough to put Youngblood on the ground again, and Gamble quickly scrambles over for a cover, wanting to end this one quickly.
It gets two.
This time, Gamble’s complaints to Ashley Barlow are louder, enough that the commentary desk could hear parts of it.
Richard Parker: Huh. What’s that about a sandwich?
Nick Stuart: Stop it.
Oh. Sorry, Tony, you might get suspended from Jabber again.
Gamble looks down at his chop-ravaged chest, and knows he needs to make Youngblood pay for that. What if it becomes a scar? How could he possibly deal with a scar?
The Permascar Superstar kicks Youngblood in the head again for the reminder.
That, uh… might have woken up the Tower of Babel.
Because he suddenly stands up and stares bullets at Gamble.
Tony Gamble smiles. Wait, no. That’s just how he usually looks. Tony Gamble is not smiling.
Especially not after that.
Nick Stuart: GOOD GOD, what a chop from Youngblood!
Richard Parker: CALL 911!
Tony reacts as though he’s shot pointblank with a double-barreled shotgun. It’s not that he falls. He’s blown backwards. It’s only because of the grace of the nearby turnbuckles that Tony doesn’t immediately end up on his back. He grimaces, an expression that seems odd because of the half of a Glasgow grin he’s got going on. Youngblood is down on one knee for a brief few moments, still trying to shake the cobwebs from Gamble targeting his head.
He gets to his feet, then traps Tony in the corner and uncorks another chop.
Richard Parker: CALL LINDSAY TROY!
Nick Stuart: Would Lindsay Troy even do something about this?
Richard Parker: …No, probably not.
With Tony chopped even bloodier, Youngblood sent him to the opposite corner and then charged him. Gamble, however, is able to get both of his boots up to kick Youngblood in the face. Youngblood staggers backwards, and Gamble pushes himself up to the second rope. Youngblood staggers into his grip.
Nick Stuart: Tornado DDT from Gamble!
Richard Parker: ADORABLE!
Gamble quickly scrambles on top of Youngblood for the cover.
Gamble snatches a chinlock out of the kickout and tries desperately to grind Youngblood down, using his leverage like he’s in mid-pushup on top of Youngblood. Youngblood is too dazed to fight out of it right away as Barlow checks to see if Youngblood wants to give up. He doesn’t. Just thought you should know.
Once he shakes the cobwebs, he starts to try and get to his feet. Gamble desperately doesn’t want this to happen, and when Youngblood is on his hands and knees, Gamble mounts his back and tries to force him back to the canvas.
Youngblood does not go down.
It’s at this moment that realization dawns on the permanently smiling face of the Grin, that Brandon Youngblood may be introducing him to a new member of the family. Indeed, the moment Youngblood has fought his way to his feet, he suddenly goes behind Gamble, almost manhandling him in the process. Gamble’s arms flail as Brandon rips him to the ground with a released German suplex!
A very prolific member of the family, indeed, that Release German.
Nick Stuart: GERMAN SUPLEX! Gamble is in trouble!
Richard Parker: Time out! Escape! Flee!
It takes Brandon some time to get to his feet, but he’s up before Gamble can get to his knees. Blood stains the back of Youngblood’s singlet. He doesn’t care. He pulls Gamble up and hits him with a vertical suplex that releases as Youngblood falls backwards, launching Gamble to the other side of the ring and sliding out to the floor in a heap. The simple, practical eldest brother of suplexes, Vertical. Sometimes, when Vertical gets frisky, it goes full Release.
Gamble got the frisky version. That’s what he’s smiling. Wait. No. Dammit. I keep messing that up. Tony Gamble is not smiling.
Youngblood slides out of the ring to pursue Gamble. The last time this happened, Gamble had retaken the advantage. This time, Gamble is too busy flopping like a fish on the outside from getting suplexed to worry about a countermeasure. Youngblood picks him up and goes for a second helping of the eldest suplex brother, Vertical, this time landing a second released suplex right onto the ring apron.
Nick Stuart: Brandon Youngblood has taken control of this one, Rich!
Richard Parker: No! Get, uh… get back in the ring, Tony! Maybe he’ll have a suplex stroke and get counted out!
To Gamble’s fortune, he didn’t fall off of the apron after landing on his back. He does indeed manage to roll back into the ring. Unfortunately, Youngblood’s in pursuit of the Grin, as he slides back into the ring. Gamble, desperate, starts crawling to a corner so he doesn’t get suplexed again. Youngblood grabs hold of his wait to introduce him to the most famous member of the extended Suplex family, German, once again. Gamble grabs hold of the middle turnbuckle cover in his efforts to avoid being taken to Suplex Parish for the Suplex Family Reunion. His efforts are for naught. He is ripped from the corner and thrown violently to the ground.
The turnbuckle pad goes with him.
Ashley Barlow watches this happen, and she knows that the right thing to do is to put the pad back on the middle turnbuckle before someone as duplicitous as Tony “the Grin” Gamble finds a means to use the exposed buckle. So, she takes the turnbuckle pad and goes to do exactly that, while Brandon presses his advantage.
The only thing that gets pressed, however, is DEEZ NUTS.
Nick Stuart: A LOW BLOW!
Richard Parker: No, he just uppercutted him in, uh… the third thigh!
After the uppercut right in Theordore Nuts (Esquire), Gamble rolls Youngblood over into a cradle and awaits his victory. And when Barlow turns and sees the pin, she has to count.
Nick Stuart: IT’S NOT OVER!
Richard Parker: Come on, Tony! Hit him again! Right in the Diamonds!
Nick Stuart: Please don’t encourage him.
Gamble is still dizzy from being introduced to so many members of the Suplex Clan, but he looks up at Barlow disbelieving. It wasn’t three?
Gamble knows he needs to take advantage. The desperation in his eyes made him look wild. Unhinged. Tony Gamble is smiling. This time, he really is.
He wraps himself around Youngblood’s arms. The legs scissor one, and he works to hook the other arm.
He wants Youngblood to Smile For Him.
There’s just one problem.
No sooner did Gamble start the second armbar did Youngblood stand. Now, uh… the Smile For Me submission hold works best when the opponent is not standing, as a general rule. He tries to grab hold of Youngblood’s mouth anyway, hoping that wrenching in the submission from his position would make him collapse and make him the winner (or weiner).
It doesn’t happen.
So he tries elbowing Youngblood in the head instead. This makes Youngblood bow down, but he’s still on his feet. In fact, the motion of bowing down was so sudden for Tony that he loses his grip on Youngblood’s arm. He thinks fast and tries to turn it into a sunset flip, but he can’t get Youngblood over for it no matter how much he kicks and flails his legs to stop him. After a few moments, Youngblood reaches down and hoists Gamble up to his feet.
And Gamble responds with a thumb to the eyes.
Gamble smiles… wait, does he? Or is that just his face? Anyway. Gamble looks pretty proud of himself… and fails to realize that he’s still in the clutches of the Paterfamilias of the Ancestral Suplex Homestead. He only realizes it the very second Youngblood squares up.
Nick Stuart: EXPLODER!
Richard Parker: NOOO!
The Exploder, the delinquent of the Suplex Family that wears leather jackets and rides motorcycles and starts jukeboxes by punching them, makes its presence felt and Tony Gamble hits the canvas hard. Youngblood rolls into a cover.
Somehow, Youngblood’s Hall of Fame counterpart finds it within himself to kick out, and now it’s Youngblood who looks wearily at Barlow to confirm the voracity of her count. When she confirms it’s just two, he nods in understanding. To Suplex Daddy, that just means a bigger family reunion.
He grabs Tony by the waist and lifts him up.
Maybe, deep down, Brandon Youngblood doesn’t want to use the Karelin lift. After all, it’d give Ivan Stanislav something to crow about later that Brandon would use a Russian’s legendary powerful murder wrestling move. But as he hoisted Tony Gamble up in the move, something became immediately wrong.
Tony Gamble is in desperation mode. He is absolutely not smiling. He is panicking as he is being dead-lifted by his much stronger opponent. In his desperation, his hands grab Barlow’s pants leg, somehow pulling her into Youngblood.
Youngblood’s too big to be thrown off by this, but it does do something that’s in Gamble’s benefit – it prevents him from finishing the really deadly part of the Karelin lift, which is the part that happens when Youngblood stops lifting you and drops you like a load of laundry. You know, one that’s being sent to hell.
Gamble doesn’t have any interest in being folded like hell laundry, so while Youngblood is trying to get the referee out of the way so he can finish this move, Tony does what Tony’s known to do.
Nick Stuart: ANOTHER LOW BLOW!
Richard Parker: Yes!
This goes unnoticed by Barlow, but Youngblood and Gamble both fall to the ground together. One is more obviously clutching his crotchular region than the other. Gamble takes advantage and jackknifes Youngblood for the pin.
Gamble immediately puts his feet on the ropes.
Nick Stuart: REF!
Nick Stuart: REF!
Tony Gamble is absolutely not smiling. He’s bewildered.
Barlow looks up to see the ropes shaking after Youngblood’s thunderous kickout, and admonishes Gamble for putting his feet on the ropes. Gamble denies it. Gamble might have also said something about sandwiches. You can’t prove it.
Gamble pulls Youngblood into a standing headscissors. Gamble is a much smaller man than Youngblood, but he’s able to muscle the Tower of Babel up.
Nick Stuart: PILEDRIVER! WILL THIS DO IT!?
Gamble, exhausted, falls on top of Youngblood.
Tony Gamble is definitely not smiling, to the point that even the scar “Ddroops into a frown. Don’t ask how that works. He’s thrown nearly everything he has at Brandon Youngblood, but Father Suplex simply won’t stay down. If Tony Gamble didn’t know any better, he’d swear that Youngblood doesn’t actually adore him. And that’s just crazy!
Gamble’s desperation leads him to looking towards the turnbuckles.
He’s uncertain if what he’s about to do is the right move.
But he’s running out of options before this hulking mass of suplexes gets up again and starts yeeting him across the ring again. So, Tony Gamble crawls to the turnbuckles, and then makes a climb up. He stands on the top rope, and takes one last look behind him. Youngblood is still down. He isn’t getting up to stop him.
Now or never.
Gamble leaps off for the moonsault.
Nick Stuart: MOONSAULT FROM GAMB—NOBODY HOME!
Richard Parker: NO!
Indeed, just like almost every other time Gamble has attempted the moonsault since returning to PRIME, he misses. He finds nobody waiting for him, and he lands clutching his stomach.
Youngblood, clutching the back of his neck after the piledriver, stalks behind the recovering Hall of Famer. When Tony is back to his feet, Youngblood has him in the one of the most ornery and dangerous members of the extended Suplex family. Half Nelson.
Nick Stuart: HALF NELSON SUPLEX!
Richard Parker: NO! TONY!
The Half Nelson Suplex doesn’t like people, by the way. It’s surly, grumpy, probably thinks its brother Full Nelson gets too much attention. So, Half Nelson takes it out on people’s necks. Fuck necks. Especially yours.
Gamble lands, rolls on his stomach, and then rolls back onto his knees. For a fleeting moment, you might think that Tony Gamble is going to stand up. But then he flops onto his face, and doesn’t get up.
Youngblood has beaten plenty of opponents with the half nelson suplex, and it’s hard to imagine that Tony Gamble is getting up after taking one.
But he has one more suplex to show the Grin.
Youngblood grabs Gamble by the waist and deadlifts him up. And with a dangerous twist, he sends the Grin straight to fuck.
Nick Stuart: RANDALLPLEX!
Richard Parker: ARGH!
They don’t talk about Cousin Randall in the Extended Suplex Family. That motherfucker is crazy.
In any case, Youngblood covers Gamble, the crowd counting along.
There’s slight movement from Gamble.
A weak attempt at a kickout.
But he can’t.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen! The winner of this match… BRANDOOOOOOOOOOON YOOOOOUUUUUUUNGBLOOOOOOOOOOODDDDD!
Youngblood takes a moment to stare at Tony Gamble as he lies unmoving on the canvas, before he allows Barlow to raise his arm in triumph.
Nick Stuart: What a war between two Hall of Famers here tonight, Rich!
Richard Parker: It’s not fair! Tony had this!
Nick Stuart: Tony Gamble almost had this by every kind of crooked means he could conjure up, but he went to the well one too many times and paid a steep price for it tonight.
Richard Parker: This is a travesty! An injustice! Tony Gamble is a Hall of Famer!
Nick Stuart: So is Youngblood.
Richard Parker: Stop using your logic against my logic!
We cut to our fourth commercial break of the evening as Youngblood celebrates his victory.