YOU MAY BE A LOVER, BUT YOU AIN’T NO DANCER
Abraham Lipshitz and Jared Sykes have completed their match, and the cameras find their way once again backstage in the halls of the Amway Arena. Another segment. Somewhere, a self-proclaimed “king” cries that wrestlers have lives backstage. C’est la vie, I suppose. One of those wrestlers is The Anglo Luchador, not seen since the least cold of any cold open, steam still seeping out of the earholes on his lucha mask. He is still red hot, making Florida look like a tundra. The list of wrestlers he does not want to see right now isn’t long, but it’s not short either. Right at the top of that list? It’s not Paxton Ray, oddly enough. It’s not Tony Gamble or Ivan Stanislav. It isn’t even Timo Bolamba’s snot-nosed, antagonistic son. It’s the man, child, manchild he runs into…
“Salut, bite belette.”
FLAMBERGE. He’s still in his ring gear and tries to hide a grimace, a remnant of his battle with Nova, as he steps into view.
FLAMBERGE: You say you’re just like me, eh, and you take the analogy to the next level and lose your title too? It is, as you say, on the nose.
On the nose. How this masked man, ironically wearing every single bit of rage and insecurity on his sleeve at the moment, wanted to put fist on the punk’s nose. Fighting shape or not, and let’s face it, size differential or not, FLAMBERGE was imminently more of a threat than the giant luchador who moved like he was in a Harryhausen movie in Mexico ever was, he was ready to throw down. He just wanted one more nudge. Just a teensy-tiny one.
TAL: You got me, kid. Har har, I lost my title and enough blood to choke a vampire luncheon. Now let me pass in peace.
His subconscious thought “do it, kid, gimme a reason” though. The peanut gallery on Jabber has him pegged right, you know. Meanwhile, the Kid hasn’t forgotten what happened at ReVival 21…how his brain sort of freeze-framed and locked him into something dark, over and over, at the innocuous-enough notion that elders have often experienced the things that youths currently experience. Every instinct told him to ball it all up into that right fist and shove it six inches past the back of this fossil’s skull.
But he lost himself too far then. Now…now he’s been stewing on it.
FLAMBERGE: In what world do you deserve peace from me, old man? As far as it goes with the FLAMBERGE, the Luchador’s goose is only the half-cooked.
Urge to kill, rising.
TAL: Kid, you’re far from the only one who doesn’t want to give me peace, but unless you want even more smoke after going toe-to-toe with this company’s KING of Smoke, I suggest you let me go and plot on how you can try to follow in Phil Atken’s footsteps like you’ve been doing here for the last six goddamn months, okay?
Needling. Your mileage might vary on how clever his barbs are compared to some of the wittier members of the roster, but he knows how to get under someone’s skin. FLAMBERGE’s eyes prove it all the more – any attempts at playing Cool Tough Guy have been quashed.
FLAMBERGE: I don’t give the damn how many people think they want to see the Anglo fall, I am now the FRONT OF LA LIGNE, you egoist, you wish-you-could-be-the-son-of-the-bitch, you Dollar Tree hardman…if you are the smoke, I am the goddamned FIRE that gives the dying horses like you any last hope of the warmth in the winter of your careers, and it is the high time someone like ME slapped the man under that mask for being la merde at BOTH the idiot identities!
He’s giving you the in you wanted, the luchador thinks to himself. One last bit of conscience filters in. He hears his therapist in his head repeating a line from a session back when Tony Gamble especially got under his skin some time in the end of the 2022 calendar year. “Think of a song, something to calm you down. I personally like The Beatles.”
He thought of a Beatles song, or at least he tried to. If he could conjure “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” he might not be gritting his teeth and beginning to cock back his fist.
Too bad he’s thinking of “Helter Skelter.”
When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide…
Eyes closed, heart teeming with unbridled lust for violence.
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride…
Cocking back his fist, exaggerated. It’s not the fighting form he learned, but it’s the one he feels.
‘Til I get to the bottom AND I SEE YOU AGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIN AAEEEE YEAAAHHH!
The fist flies through the air. Only after the follow-through does the man, the forty-plus-year old man worked into a shoot by a young lad barely into his early adulthood, see that his fist has caught nothing but tardigrades at best. FLAMBERGE saw his opening and escaped.
He’s halfway down the hall now. Sonofabitch, he did the thing.
The asshole thing.
He pulled une rapide, and he’s VERY pleased with himself about it.
FLAMBERGE: Go back to the Jabber, old man. And do not tag me. You don’t deserve the eyes I would bring you.
Fuck. The luchador looks defeated. Shoulders, sunken. Eyes, demonstrating the kind of sadness you only see in a person born in Pennsylvania.
TAL: Probably what I needed, but not what I wanted. Fuck it, time to go drink until I can’t feel feelings anymore.
And thus, The Anglo Luchador trudges off in search of the suite he requested be stocked with booze. And the cameras switch to another part of the arena, featuring a former TAL nemesis and one of the six people who’ve defeated him in PRIME thus far.