CAKE BY THE OCEAN
A true love story
An honest friendship
Everyone else go home, we’ve already won
— — — — —
MGM Grand Arena
Hall’s Backstage Locker Room
ReVival #4: After 5-Star Qualifying Match
Las Vegas, NV
March 4, 2022
♫ Oh, no
♫ See you walkin’ ‘round like it’s a funeral
Nothing but bedlam from far down the MGM Grand backstage.
♫ Not so serious, girl, why those feet cold?
There’s dancing and clapping and a whole lotta good time coming from inside the Hall’s change room as Vickie sits on the bench, bouncing up and down to “Cake By the Ocean” while giggling profusely at the sight in front of her.
♫ We just gettin’ started, don’t you tiptoe, tiptoe (ah)
In the middle of the “dance floor” is none other than Jonathan-Christopher, fresh off his PRIME debut.
♫ Waste time with a masterpiece, don’t waste time with a masterpiece (huh)
The Hall’s received their golden ticket to Culture Shock, challenging for the 5-Star Championship via Jonathan-Christopher’s win.
♫ You should be rollin’ with me, you should be rollin’ with me (ah-ah-ah)
The Forever Man is proving to be quite the little dancer when unchained from slow dancing to love songs, something he and Vickie do every night before they sleep.
♫ You’re a real-life fantasy, you’re a real-life fantasy (huh)
JC has all the moves.
♫ But you’re movin’ so carefully, let’s start livin’ dangerously
He dances way better than he wrestles.
♫ Talk to me, baby
He’s got the swim.
♫ I’m goin’ blind from this sweet-sweet cravin’, whoa-oh
The drown and goin’ down.
♫ Let’s lose our minds and go fuckin’ crazy (ah)
♫ I-I-I-I-I-I keep on hopin’ we’ll eat cake by the ocean (uh)
Pirouette. Yep, surprise. The pace JC can flip into new moves is astonishing!
♫ Walk for me, baby
♫ I’ll be Diddy, you’ll be Naomi, whoa-oh
♫ Let’s lose our minds and go fuckin’ crazy
Macarena. Hell ya!
♫ I-I-I-I-I-I keep on hopin’ we’ll eat cake by the ocean-
Vickie is so startled she leaps upright and drops her iPhone, which shuts off and is connected to their Alexa device. Jonathan-Christopher’s heart jumps out of his chest, completely unable to process what’s happening, although he sees a blur of a man storm past their half-open door.
“I CAN’T HAVE THIS!”
The scream is loud and thunderous. Another smash of… something… echoes throughout the hall and into the ALP’s locker room. Jonathan-Christopher looks at Vickie. He races over to her, helping Pretty Pink to her feet.
“I am so so sorry. Are you okay?” For a brief second, he wasn’t able to come to her aid. The Forever Man was so rattled, he couldn’t think straight. As a result, the Woman of Wonder seems off put by the lack of immediate support.
“What the heck is going on?” Jonathan-Christopher worries.
“STUPID! DAMMIT!!” A voice shouts down the hallway, although the cries of frustration are becoming more distant.
“Jonathan-Christopher, I am not feeling calm or secure at the moment,” Vickie is helped back to the bench where she sits down, shaking everywhere. “Can you see what’s up?”
It’s a tough ask and a rare one at that, for Pretty Pink to ask her man to separate from her. Nevertheless, this is an intense situation and when called upon, Jonathan-Christopher would do anything for his ALP.
He nods, although he’s apprehensive about walking into danger.
“Hurry up please honey, I’m very stressed,” she reminds. It takes the Vow of Virtue longer than he would have thought. He’s extremely reluctant to walk out there. His heart is pounding. His hands are shaking.
“Hurry!” The Dynamic Doll raises her voice, she’s clearly not happy with Jonathan-Christopher’s continued procrastination, particularly when she has already asked him once. Perhaps it’s the intensity of the moment, the stress of whomever is outside has transferred itself into Vickie’s subconscious.
By now, Vic doesn’t even know what’s happening. She can’t give a directive if she tries. Head in her hands, she shakes wickedly. Meanwhile, Jonathan-Christopher has moved an inch closer to the door.
The voice down the hall sounds a little calmer.
Jonathan-Christopher figures he HAS to step up for his ALP. He realizes at times like this, it’s one quick, deep breath and then out the door he’ll go.
He sucks in some air.
Lets it out.
And sprints forward.
Fumbling into ground zero with too much speed, Jonathan-Christopher immediately regrets his decision. Not knowing what’s in front of him, he closes his eyes and prays nobody sees him.
Oh my god.
And right away, too.
He crumples into the fetal position and slowly slides down the wall. He hears the footsteps coming closer.
And he prepares for the end.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” is all Jonathan-Christopher can say over and over. The angry person’s feet slam against the cement floor at an intense rate, coming right towards him.
“I love her, we need each other, please! I’ll do anything!” The Timid Tiger whimpers, his last possible chance to reason with this person.
Thump, THUMP, THUMP!!!
“Congratulations on your fucking victory, man.”
THUMP!!! THUMP, thump…
Jonathan-Christopher’s still in one piece.
He opens an eyelid and looks around. He sees nothing.
He hears the man walking… but his shoes are going in the opposite direction.
The Forever Man opens his second eye. He hears the angry wrestler push an exit door open and a roar from outside the Vegas streets floods through, albeit briefly, before the door closes and locks on its hinges.
Jonathan-Christopher sees Vickie standing in their locker room.
“It was Darin Zion,” she mouths to him. She’s only now starting to overcome anxiety.
“Darin Zion?” Jonathan-Christopher asks.
She rolls her eyes and pulls a random last name out of the air, a little fed up with her man’s nervousness and lack of support she felt earlier. “No Darin Matthews. Of course Darin Zion.”
“Humph,” The Folsom native scratches his temple. He looks back down the hall, as if somehow Zion would magically reappear and he’d be able to assess for himself. JC feels brave. First time ever but of course, no one else is around at the moment. “We should address this.”
— — — — —
MGM Grand Arena
Talent & Staff Cafeteria
Before ReVival #5
Las Vegas, NV
March 18, 2022
A few hours before ReVival 5 and Darin Zion lines up for catering behind a number of staff. Dressed in a loud purple shirt and black dress pants, the top three buttons of Zion’s shirt are off, revealing half his chest. Honestly, he’s not trying to show off his muscles, he simply couldn’t be bothered.
Leaning to view the end of the line, the frustrated athlete gives a hard sigh. He isn’t in a rush but also wouldn’t mind sitting down quickly.
It seems like forever but Darin eventually reaches the entrée. He takes a large piece of BBQ chicken, a side of steamed vegetables and a ceasar salad. Arriving at checkout, he pays with his preloaded PRIME card and walks past the staff table with a bit of a snide glance. They don’t notice.
Tray in hand, the Illinois star scans his surroundings in order to find somewhere to sit. He sees packs of staff and talent at various tables but none of which interest him. Then his eyes fall on…
The fucking eGG Bandits.
Jiles, Doozer, Bobby. Bobby absorbs the entire course in front of him almost instantly. Seriously, it’s impressive. Doozer can’t believe his eyes. He wants to vomit.
Darin knows these guys from HOW, he knows them well so he grumbles to himself and decides it’s best to be on his own.
“Ha! Never,” Zion ensures, “I’d rather sit with Steve Solex.”
Certainly a low blow and completely unrealistic comment because Lindsay Troy would never invite Solex into her company.
DZ wanders towards an empty corner table. He rather haphazardly tosses his tray down and takes a seat. He decides to sit facing the wall so he won’t bear witness to any of the idiots he doesn’t want to be associated with. He feels it. The tension inside him. 0-2 in PRIME, it wasn’t the way Zion intended. He underestimated Impulse, let’s be honest here. He was stuck in his own head and didn’t recognize Impulse’s accomplishments in DEFIANCE. Not like Zion would care about that place.
Darin also got caught in the 5-star scramble. Quite frankly, DZ doesn’t remember who pinned him. He was white hot after the match. He’s forgotten the whole night.
PRIME wasn’t going well. HOW was his only answer.
“Hey there,” a quirky voice from behind him begins. It’s a female voice. One he’s not too familiar with but he’s becoming more accustomed.
Whatever. Zion doesn’t acknowledge.
“Hey, you need to go sit across from him, baby,” the voice says but she’s no longer talking to Zion. She’s nudging someone else. Someone who seems reluctant.
“I don’t want to,” a man’s voice replies.
“Honey, you have to,” she demands.
“He’s scary,” he begs for the ability to move on from this potential interaction. “You saw him last week…”
It was two weeks ago but the woman’s voice is letting him off the hook.
As long as he sits down at the table.
As long as he starts to make small talk.
“Hi, hello, hey,” the man says in an extremely awkward manner, almost like he was legitimately thrown into the seat across from Darin. “Nice to meet you Zion, my name is Jonathan-Christopher.”
Zion hasn’t looked up from his plate. Or said a word.
Jonathan-Christopher eyes immediately dart to the person behind Darin. Clearly by now, everyone knows it’s Vickie Hall. She doesn’t say anything… vocally. But she’s speaking with body language. She tells The Timid Tiger to continue talking.
“Yeah, so, ummm, hello again!” Jonathan-Christopher is so fucking awkward. In fairness to him, it’s not like he has a game plan. The Hall’s did not expect to see Darin Zion in catering right now. Truth? The Hall’s were passing through and forgot about the “anger incident” from ReVival 4.
Zion continues eating.
“My name…” Jonathan-Christopher looks over at his Dearest Daisy, she continues to throw her hands around, signaling for more conversation and even though JC has already gone here, it’s all he knows. “…is Jonathan-Christopher Hall and I’m a wrestler in PRIME.”
The Vow of Virtue is absolutely lost. He attempts to open his mouth, nothing comes out. He tries to convey friendly body language and Zion isn’t looking. Jonathan-Christopher is so interpersonally awkward, the best he can do is-
“I recognize your voices!” Zion says without lifting his head.
Success! At least to Vickie. Perhaps she wasn’t able to see Zion did not pull his head upright and doesn’t seem interested in having a conversation.
Meh. The Woman of Awe tells her man to keep talking.
It’s anyone’s guess as to what Jonathan-Christopher is going to do.
He sits there.
Nothing is said.
FINALLY, Zion raises his head.
“You’re Jonathan-Christopher and you’re his Amazing Life Partner.”
How did Darin know? Vickie’s stunned.
And just like that, the formerly dubbed “Multiverse Athlete” goes back to finishing his chicken.
Pretty Pink has had enough. Since her presence is revealed, she bums Jonathan-Christopher to move over and takes a seat alongside her spouse. She eyes Zion rather methodically.
“Hello there darling,” The Dynamic Doll starts into her god-only-knows preamble. “You’re right, that’s us. I’m Vickie and this is my absolutely extraordinary love-of-my-life, Jonathan-Christopher.”
She studies Zion’s face, or at least what she can make of it. Then she reaches forward and grabs Zion by his right wrist.
“Listen hun,” she says as the Chicago star provides a look suggesting Vickie should think twice about touching him. “We think you have been so screwed over here, haven’t we honey?”
Vic nudges Jonathan-Christopher. He catches on quickly and replies. “Oh yes definitely.”
Vickie continues. “And we have heard rumblings around a Survivor Tag Team Championship Tournament.”
“Another tournament?” Zion wonders out loud. His demeanor has changed a little. His face is a bit more forgiving to the ALPs, not the upcoming event. “No thanks, hard pass.”
The Dearest Daisy isn’t rattled. She powers through, still holding on to Darin’s arm. She gives a hard look at Zion, commanding his attention, then she turns and gives a hard look to her man. He was already locked and loaded on her.
“I think you two would make fast friends,” she snaps, as if this is the gospel and absolutely, Jonathan-Christopher and Darin Zion are meant to build a socialized relationship. “I see it in you two. It’s perfect.”
Zion’s apprehensive, of course. Although he does lean back slightly to consider the thought.
“Well, we both did get screwed in the Almasy Invitational…” Zion comments. Promptly, Vickie’s expression turns into something along the lines of “we don’t talk about that tournament.”
“Not sure what you mean there, Darin,” Pretty Pink says sternly before pausing to apply new red velvet lipstick. “Jonathan-Christopher and I just got here two weeks ago.”
Before Zion can question this potential fact, Vickie changes the topic. She points to herself and then at Jonathan-Christopher.
“We have seen you on the Jabber, the silly program Lindsay Troy demands us to use for PRIME promotions. We have seen you discuss love. Promote it to everyone,” Vic scratches the side of her cheek. She asks this as a legitimate question. “Did we influence you?”
Zion’s neither here nor there. He looks indifferent. It takes a while for the HOW/PRIME wrestler to find the right words.
“Zion’s all about love,” he pauses, regretting the statement already. “Well, was.”
Jonathan-Christopher is an idle passenger in this conversation. He has no skills, or clue, on what to say. However, Vics has Darin talking. For all her head-in-the-cloud thoughts, the woman is quite keen on understanding body language. Or so she thinks. And she thinks she’s captured Zion’s curiosity.
Now she’ll snatch his attention for good.
“What if Jonathan-Christopher and I said…” she leans in and speaks in a lower tone of voice, even though no one else is near them, or anyone would care. “…we could help you recapture some of that exuberance?”
Vickie pulls back and collapses into Jonathan-Christopher’s chest. He wraps his arms around her tight while Pretty Pink keeps talking.
“As in a love for wrestling… tournaments… real competition… and world championship gold. Have it all, honey. Gosh golly, it would be so divine, wouldn’t it? Jonathan-Christopher Hall, 5-Star Champion. Jonathan-Christopher Hall and Darin Zion, Tag Team Champions.”
She ponders further.
“If only I could be associated with others, become some kind of belt collector…” she winks, thinking of the 97red velvet shade of lipstick she bought yesterday. Totally an elite shade. Anyway, the tiny girl brushes off this nonsensical comment. “So what do you say, doll? We’ve interacted with you a few times on the Jabber and Twitter. You seem like a great guy. Jonathan-Christopher and I were talking after witnessing your meltdown and rewatching your match. You’re underrated, under-represented, especially in PRIME.”
Zion is appreciative of the compliments. For the first time in weeks, he cracks a tiny smile. “Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy.”
“But you don’t deserve half the stuff thrown your way,” Vickie adds.
“You’re right, I don’t.” Zion is slowly coming to terms with hearing someone else explain his reality.
Vickie nestles into Jonathan-Christopher’s chest further. Her eyes are the only thing moving. They’ll look up to her man, or across the way at her… dare she say it… teammate?
“So,” she clarifies. “Are you in?”
Jonathan-Christopher speaks up as well. “Would be nice to befriend someone in these parts,” he adds an awkward laugh. “My ALP’s been telling me I need to get out more.”
Zion pulls a finger to his chin. He’s finished his dinner and ready to watch ReVival 5…
From the sidelines.
Not booked. 0-2. It bothers him. Sure, Zion may not be the greatest talent in the world. He’s a loveable goofball. His tough-guy attitude can get in the way. He’s put his foot in his mouth many times.
This time… he ain’t gonna.
“You’ve got yourself a partner,” Zion replies. “Real Love Darin Zion. Count me in.”
“Real love?” Vickie removes herself from Jonathan-Christopher’s chest and starts nodding her head, as if she adores the new nickname.”
“Love is all around,” she confirms, turning to gaze into Jonathan-Christopher’s eyes. “Isn’t it?”
“Yes, baby,” The Vow of Virtue replies. “Love is all around.”
It’s settled. Jonathan-Christopher and Darin will end up working together. They will enroll in the PRIME Survivor tournament… making sure RESPECT is placed on Zion’s name.
“Tell me one more thing, Darin,” her voice pipes up again. Vickie looks into Jonathan-Christopher’s eyes and then methodically turns to their new teammate. “Are you single?”
Zion is about to reply, going into a long-winded speech regarding his current girlfriend Meredith. Their problems, fights but also their strength in one another. Doesn’t matter. Vic cuts him off.
“Because you know, I have a younger sister…”
— — — — —
Today (03/19/22) 12:02am
im coming back momentarily-
thnx 4 letting me clear my head on walk w/o u-
been feeling lil stressed u know-
managing Zion now 2-
-Hey bae no worries.
-Take all the time you need, I am just watching Netflix.
what r u watching lol-
hope ur not watchin something w/o me-
-Oh yeah sorry no. I mean I was going to watch something.
-I am waiting for you baby.
u no i luv it when u call me baby-
-I know, baby.
-I love you!
and i love you-
-Back soon baby?
prolly 20 mins-
-Okay baby sounds good.
-If I’m asleep by then don’t worry. Make as much noise as you like.
-How are you feeling?
took u long enough to ask lol-
i am doing much better now thnx u-
-Great! You’re going to handle both managing situations so well!
after lots of thought i think i will too-
thnx u baby-
-See you soon baby?
soon baby luv u-
c u l9er-
— — — — —
Las Vegas, NV
March 19, 2022
Another night in the books. The Hall’s met some people today. Two in particular. One is a woman, Cecilia Ryan, who they hope to never see again. The other is a man, who they know will enrich their lives forever.
“REAL LOVE”, ALL CAPS, Darin Zion.
For the first time since arriving in Las Vegas, Jonathan-Christopher is sound asleep before Vickie. He lays with his back to the mattress, topless and without covers because Vickie has them scrunched into her body. She is awake but pleased with their progress. The thoughts of managing a double champion and helping to ReVive another man’s career. It’s a big undertaking.
But she’s got this.
Why have one successful star when you can guide two?
Maybe one day.
The tiny girl with a big voice yearns for being manager of the year. She has worshiped the best valets in the business at a young age. Never in her wildest dreams would she have thought her man and his new best friend are going to the top with her.
It’s the purest love story and the truest friendship. She isn’t managing a colleague. She is managing her ALP and his best friend. Family.
Vickie stares at her man. She knows he will be successful at Culture Shock. Afterwards, the three of them will collectively comb their skills and conquer the tag team division.
This is magical.
No other way to describe it.
“Sleep well, my honey bunch of oats,” the Dearest Daisy says softly, as she watches her man slumber. His body trembles a little, likely from feeling the cold air through the window. But Pretty Pink has to feel her security and she most certainly needs the blankets wrapped thoroughly around her.
Tag Team Champions.
Managing her undefeated family.
She’ll have her cake. Oh you bet, she’ll eat it, too.
Too easy of a footnote to end on?
We’ll see about that.