We fade in from commercial back in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the camera focused on the center of the ring. Standing in the ring is the impeccably dressed Angelica Brooks, microphone in hand, the fans cheering, a few making unseemly cat calls that are quickly admonished by those around them. She stands up straight, drawing the microphone to her lips, a smirk plastered across her face.
Angelica Brooks: Ladies and gentleman, the Universal Champion, Brandon Youngblood.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
With the clarion call for war that is Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH blaring, the fans stand at their feet, roaring in anticipation of The Tower of Babel. He doesn’t take long, storming from the back, dressed in street clothes and with the Universal Championship belt slung over his shoulder. The audience is going full tilt, rattling the roof in their cheers as the Last Diamond begins power walking down the ramp.
Nick Stuart: And here he is!
Those with an observant eye catch Youngblood’s form fitting black shirt; it is simple, nondescript, save for the golden emblem logon near the collar and the bold lettering over the chest. ‘BEAT CANCER’. He makes his way from the ramp to ringside, then up the steps, all before stepping through the ropes and making a beeline for the nearest corner, climbing to the second rope and looking out to the crowd. Soaking in the adulation, the Universal Champion repeats this at each of the corners, then bounces down to his feet to meet up with Angelica Brooks at the center of the ring.
It is several moments before the cacophony of sound dies down, as does his music. When it finally does, Angelica looks up at the massive form of the Champion, ready to speak.
Angelica Brooks: Looks like your knee is not worse for wear.
Brandon Youngblood: Knee isn’t as bad as everyone thought, huh?
He lightly raises his left leg, giving it a playful wiggle, giving a big smile before continuing on.
Brandon Youngblood: Before I get too far along, just wanted to say, if you go on the PRIMEporium, there’s going to be a limited run of these shirts for sale–
YOU BEAT CANCER!
YOU BEAT CANCER!
YOU BEAT CANCER!
Brandon Youngblood: –as I was saying, there’s going to be a limited print run of these shirts available for purchase…including a special number of one hundred that I’ll be personally signing and dating. Now…I think it’s important to tell you where the money is going to go for these…I spoke with Lindsay Troy and we both want to use all the proceeds to help an amazing cause…St. Jude Children’s Research Hospitals do such incredible work with families and children suffering from rare forms of cancer…every cent donated, every bit of it, it goes to treatment, it goes to food, it goes to housing for families…
Another big cheer from the crowd stops Brandon in his tracks for a moment.
Brandon Youngblood: These are such difficult times, and nobody should have to face them without someone in their corner. There’s a ton of people out there Fighting For Nora, and having met her at the Fighting For Nora Gala in New Orleans, let me tell you, Paxton Ray…no offense to you…she’s a stronger fighter than you can ever hope of being. Me too. She’s a real Champion.
LET’S GO NORA!
LET’S GO NORA!
LET’S GO NORA!
Brandon Youngblood: But there’s a lot of families out there that don’t have a platform, that don’t have a place like PRIME that can support them. These families…those kids…they’re unsung heroes. So I want to make sure they know…the PRIME family sees you…they’re rooting for you…and if something like this can help in any small way, then we’re gonna do it.
Angelica Brooks: An amazing gesture…and I can tell everyone, from personal experience, St. Jude is one of the most amazing charities in the world.
She nods her head before moving on.
Angelica Brooks: I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you, Brandon, after Culture Shock, when you won the Almasy Invitational and became Universal Champion, so many people wanted to know what was next. And they got their answer in the form of a rematch with the then top contender, Cancer Jiles. After everything that has happened between you two, after two intensely fought matches, after all the mind games he and the Bandits put you through, do you respect the challenge Jiles represented for you?
There is a loud mixture of boos coming from the crowd from the question. Youngblood is pondering how he wants to address this, but then just takes it on.
Brandon Youngblood: There’s a lot of things I’d like to say right now. A man fights his way through a tournament to make it to the finals, you have to respect that, right? No matter what, that person has to bring it every time out, show out every time they step in the ring. And if you want the honest truth? The competitor? I can’t say I don’t respect the accomplishment. But Cancer Jiles? That man respects nothing. Respects nobody. He walked into PRIME calling it beneath him, second rate, second class. We’re all supposed to hang off his every word. Be happy he’d grace us with his presence.
His expression is stern. Focused.
Brandon Youngblood: If he was standing in this ring with you right now, he’d be brushing his shoulder off, justifying it all, still disrespecting everything and everybody. He wanted the worst for me? He got it. And I don’t respect him. I’ll never respect him. He wanted to beat me just so I wouldn’t be the Universal Champion anymore. Here’s a newsflash for him and for everyone else; I walked back into this company already a Hall of Famer. My legacy speaks for itself in these walls. And as long as I’m holding this?
Taking the Universal Championship into his hand, he lifts it upward.
Brandon Youngblood: He’s got no chance. Because everytime he comes around me? I’ll beat him. He tries to throw barbs? I’ll throw him on top of his head. He wants to try to injure me? I’ll make those chiropractor and hyperbaric chamber bills of his keep climbing. He wants my blood? Well…he got it…but not until after cracked his insides open and made him spit up his guts.
He slings the Championship belt back over his shoulder, adjusting it.
Brandon Youngblood: Cancer Jiles is a threat to every single person on this roster. Hell, he’s a threat to the referees and managers and staff. But it all comes down to this; whenever the big bad wolf starts stomping around and gets too big for his own damn britches, the Suplex Daddy is going to come and beat his ass and put him right at the back of the line, where he belongs.
The fans roar at the notion.
Brandon Youngblood: Now whether he stays there or not? That’s not my call. That’s on Lindsay Troy and the decision makers. We have a ranking system for a reason. But I’ll tell you this; this ain’t the Bandits show. Send up the signal flares for the Octane…SOS…it’s sunk. And me? I’d rather focus on the here and now. Test myself against fresh competition.
Angelica Brooks: That fresh competition now has you set to face off against the official number one contender, Impulse, at Great American Nightmare. But we all know, this match-up isn’t fresh blood.
Brandon Youngblood: No it isn’t. But it is unfinished business.
A slight pause.
Angelica Brooks: Now being able to fully focus on the challenge of Impulse, what do you have to say about the challenger leading up to this titanic wrestling match up? This isn’t a case of bad blood, but the fans, myself included, know how the last contest between you ended…there was a lot of controversy there…how do you intend to rectify that and put an end to the controversy?
His posture shifts to one of ease. Conversational.
Brandon Youngblood: You’re right. Impulse…this isn’t a match about bad blood. Or disrespect. I respect you, Randall. I respect you a helluva lot. Since that night at ReVival 5, you’ve taken on all challengers, answered the bell. You’ve beaten Anna Daniels and Teddy Palmer and Julian Bathory. You’ve defeated the Anglo Luchador. Tonight, you had Tapioca and you won that. There’s nobody else in this company who has a target on their back like you have since that night…
He uses his free hand to point a thumb at himself.
Brandon Youngblood: Save me.
Another pause, another cheer.
Brandon Youngblood: Randall…you’ve controlled your future. You’ve taken the challenges laid out and snuffed them out. All by your own hand. And that takes a helluva competitor to do that when the lights are on. You bring your talent, your experience, your momentum…you have your fans and you and Cally…you’re beloved figures. PRIME having you representing its very best? That’s good for everyone.
And as the fans go to chanting for Impulse, Brandon nods his head in acknowledgment.
Brandon Youngblood: And I may be the Universal Champion, I may be undefeated, I may have defended this belt, but something keeps eating at me, Randall. Keeps gnawing at me. I could say that on ReVival 5, I overlooked you. I didn’t take your challenge seriously. I could say I came unprepared and got caught. But that’d be a lie. And I’m not going to lie to you. On that night, you took me to a limit few ever have. And when it was all said and done, my hand was raised, but I didn’t beat you. I advanced, but it was because of your mistake, not what I had done.
He stops his statement, readjusting himself, thinking, before beginning to speak again.
Brandon Youngblood: So I ask myself…am I truly the Universal Champion? I hold the belt. Everyone looks up to me as the standard in PRIME. But I have to ask myself…razor thin margin…if I don’t get my shoulder off that mat in time…is it you standing here instead? Am I the one clawing and scratching to get back in the mix? I think we both know the answer to that. I think you’d have won the championship at Culture Shock. I think you beat Cancer Jiles. Everything you’ve done since coming to PRIME, it’s by your own hand…
He looks over toward his Championship belt.
Brandon Youngblood: Even the fact that I’m holding this championship right now.
A light smattering of boos. Undeterred, the Tower of Babel continues.
Brandon Youngblood: It’s why at Great American Nightmare…it’s not for blood…it’s not for championships…it’s not for pride. It’s about closure. For me. Getting those five minutes. Taking the control from your hands into mine. Defining the Diamond Age not in blemishes or controversy…but in declaration. I’d say it isn’t personal, Randall…but for two duelists like us? We both know that isn’t true. We’re going to go into that ring on July 1st and we’re going to go to war. We’re going to leave every bit of what we have in the ring. And in the end…when it’s all said and done…we’ll both have our answers. We’ll both have our say. And from it?
Standing completely straight, The Last Diamond puts emphasis on his closing words.
Brandon Youngblood: A true Champion will be born.
Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH begins to play again, the Universal Champion raising his title skyward, Angelica Brooks nodding as the scene moves elsewhere.