Countdown to Doomsday
Posted on 02/27/23 at 6:00pm by Joe Fontaine
Event: ReVival 24
A doomsday clock was ticking down for the tag division of PRIME.
The clock was ticking to one minute to midnight at Culture Shock, where it all began, and where it would end. Only two teams were left to decide who would end the division on top.
For the Winds of Change, though, there was one last obstacle before they reached that showdown.
And for the Masters of the Multiverse B-Team, the clock was ticking before they faced the storm.
Only one minute to midnight until the tag division’s demise.
Joseph Rashard Malone Jr. sat on the couch in the living room of the Malone residence, with two teenage girls sitting next to each other and staring intently at him. Unfortunately for him, this was the Rainbow Mafia, and this was never a good sign for him.
One of them was his younger sister, Celeste Malone. She was taller than Joe was by an inch, with brown hair to her shoulders and her mother’s blue eyes. Joe remembered a time when his sisters were tiny hell raisers, out to tie ribbons in his and his father’s hair and obnoxiously gossip among themselves.
Now, Celeste was out of high school along with her identical twin, Selene. The youngest of the four Malone siblings, Juliet, was just two years away from joining them out of that accursed prison where children’s dreams went to die (or at least, that’s what Joe always thought high school was supposed to be). The most noteworthy thing about what Celeste wore was the rainbow-colored ribbon she used to keep her hair in a side ponytail.
The other was Sid’s younger sister, Luna Phillips. Not much had changed about her in the year or so since she came to Vegas to scream obscenities at Joe. The rainbow pins in her waist-length black hair marked her as a member of the so-called “Rainbow Mafia”, a name that Joe and only Joe used for the girlish gaggle that was his three younger sisters and Luna.
“So…” Joe said, and then became unsure of what he wanted to say. He had his hands on his knees. He stared back at the two of them, trying to match their own stares. It was two-on-one, so that wasn’t very fair. “How long’s this been going on?”
“Just a year,” Celeste sheepishly admitted in her soft voice, “Just after you got into PRIME.”
“Cool, cool, cool,” Joe said, “That definitely explains why I didn’t notice until now. You could’ve just said something, you know.”
“You’re not exactly known for keeping secrets, Joseph,” Luna chimed in, her voice far grumpier. Usually, whenever Joe and Luna started interacting, there was a lot of bickering and arguing, plus a few schoolyard insults, before it devolved into hair-pulling and then Luna beating the shit out of him. But this time was different. Luna’s tone was one of humiliation.
“Name one time I never kept a secret,” Joe said.
Luna rolled her eyes and held open a fist. One finger went up, “Okay, there was the time that you told Selene that I ate her chocolate.”
“You were seven!”
A second finger, “What about the time that you told my dad that I was thinking about a nose piercing?”
“Okay, sure, but it would’ve looked so bad on you. It was for your own good. You’re cute as-is.”
Luna set her jaw as she went to the third finger, “How about the time you came into our classroom yelling about how Celeste, Selene, and I were some sort of mafia?”
“That’s not even a secret! I mean, first of all, I’m not sure which one of you is the don, and second of al—“
Luna loudly cleared her throat, and Joe fell into silence before he could start doing that thing he did where he launched into random non-sequiturs that made no sense to anyone except Joe himself.
“Point is,” Luna interrupted, “We didn’t want to tell you or Sid, because inevitably, one of you was going to tell our parents before we could.”
Non-sequiturs were most certainly a Malone family trait, however, as Celeste turned to Luna, “Which one of us is the don?”
“I don’t care. You’re it.”
Joe looked at the two of them, and then cast a glance at his sister, “I mean, I’ll spring for the rainbow-colored bowler hat.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Luna snapped.
“Language, darling.” Celeste gently chided.
Luna rolled her eyes, “I just can’t believe this dumbass walked in on us like it’s a fuc— a, uh… a stupid sitcom.”
Celeste tented her fingers underneath her chin, staring at her brother more intently. “Joe, you know that both of our parents are from a big, scary testosterone-fueled world. The same one you’re in now. They might not understand.”
“That you’re going out?” Joe asked, “Come on, Lestie, you think I’m going to tell someone before you do? What kind of big brother do you think I am?”
“A dumb one. Made of dumb. Like, your parents got together and used all of the dumb materials on you so that they could use only the not-dumb materials on your sisters instead.” Luna said, “Seriously. Don’t. Tell. Anyone. Do you understand me?”
Joe held up his hands non-threateningly, for he was not in the mood to get the shit beaten out of him by Luna again. “Loud and clear.”
He started to put his hands down, but left one up so he could point a finger up in the air, “One thing! Actually. One thing. When you guys get married, I’m the best man.”
Luna and Celeste exchanged glances.
“How did you know that she said yes?” Celeste asked.
Joe hesitated, his eyes going wide. If he’d been drinking a fine beverage this morning, he would’ve choked on it. “I… I didn’t until you said something just now.”
Luna’s hand hit her forehead.
“I’m telling you, Kenny Freeman is aerodynamic on a scale greater than most people in PRIME.” Sid said, “So, if I powerbomb him hard enough, he’ll skip across the ring like a pebble thrown across a lake and then die. The coroner’s report will simply say he died by natural causes, because nothing in this world is more natural than dying by powerbomb.”
The Winds of Change were backstage at ReVival 17, October of last year, watching the match between the erstwhile Kings of Popsicles and the Masters of the Multiverse B-Team on a backstage monitor. The match was highlighted by severe miscommunication and distrust between Sykes and Calvin, while the B-Team were being unusually competent in keeping the match in their control.
“I’m not sure the physics of that checks out, man,” Joe said, “A powerbomb’s more of a downward motion, right?”
Sid cast Joe a glance like he didn’t know what the fuck he was even talking about, “No. Not necessarily. Some powerbombs, like the good ‘old crucifix, you just chuck the guy forward like you’re throwing out the trash. So, I do that to Kenny, and he’ll do a hop, skip, and a jump to his utter demise.”
Joe watched as Freeman and Schwartz were continuing to put pressure on Justine. Under the tutelage of Coral Avalon, he’d been getting better at discerning what was going on. He knew what Freeman and Schwartz were trying to do, attempting to keep Calvin from tagging in Sykes so they could beat her two-on-one.
“You know, given what the division’s been like since Survivor, we’re probably going to have to go up against those Multiverse guys before we get another shot.” Joe said, “So we might need to employ an actual strategy against them, because… well, those guys are crazy.”
“You’re one to talk.”
Joe shrugged, but contemplated what that match would look like. He came to the conclusion based on prior experience that there would be shenanigans. Shenanigans that were difficult to explain without a scientific treatise about the nature of the multiverse, some very animated arguments with colleagues about whether or not cloning technology had gotten that far or not, a throwing up of the hands in frustration, an exclamation of “FUCK IT!”, and a shot of bourbon.
“I know they had the match after us at UltraViolence and I wasn’t exactly in a state of mind to watch that, but didn’t they bring guys from the multiverse to help them win? Like, a second Kenny and Randy? Or maybe like a super cyber Kenny Freeman that’s like seven feet tall and has built-in flamethrowers.” Joe asked. “You think they’d do that to us?”
Sid shrugged his big shoulders as he considered Joe’s latest pole vault over the bar of insanity, a task where Joe was an Olympic gold medalist.
“I think we would win by disqualification if the flamethrowers come out.”
“That’s, uh… I don’t want a pyro victory.”
“Pyrrhic.” Sid corrected him.
“That’s what I said.”
They watched as King Blueberry tagged in. They watched as Randall Schwartz made an ill-advised move to try and take advantage. They watched as Jared Sykes proceeded to murder the absolute fuck out of poor Randy’s necktoral muscles.
Joe and Sid exchanged looks as this was happening.
Coral Avalon happened to be walking by, fresh off of his tough loss to FLAMBERGE earlier in the night and soon to be running out there to stop a war crime from happening, and chimed in as they watched what was happening.
“Well, maybe you won’t have to worry about them if they’re dead.”
“So, you finally came out to mom and dad?”
It was Christmas in the Malone family household. A Malone family Christmas usually only involved Joe, his siblings, and his parents. It took the family reunion to involve the disparate members of the family to gather together, and that usually took place in March. For obvious Survivor-related reasons, Joe didn’t participate in last year’s festivities.
In a week from this moment, Joe and Sid would both be flying to Japan to take part in a tour for Bang! Pro Wrestling. It would be their first time out of the country, and their first time being that far away from home. Coral had insisted that they went to help further their training, because the tag division of PRIME just didn’t have the competition.
The two were sitting together in the room that the twins usually shared. Joe was still in his pajamas, which were definitely not Gundam-themed, don’t judge him.
“How’d it go?” Joe asked.
“There were a lot of questions. Like, a lot, a lot.” Celeste said. She spent some time looking down at her feet. “Mostly, though, it was just dad doing what dad does and rolling with it. I think he kinda always expected that one of us would marry one of Uncle Danny’s kids, to be honest. We’re all so tight-knit.”
Joe nodded, “Yeah, we are.”
The Phillips siblings had always been around the Malone family, through everything. It’s why Sid was Joe’s tag team partner. It’s why Luna was such a key component of the “Rainbow mafia” despite being the only Phillips in a sea of Malones.
“Thanks for not telling anyone before I did,” Celeste said.
“Don’t thank me, seriously. I wanted to tell Sid. Thankfully, every time I started to, something would come up and I’d forget about it.”
“Given how he hyper-obsesses over stuff, I imagine he’d have forgotten even if you did tell him.” Celeste said. “Still, you didn’t tell anyone. Thanks.”
Joe smiled and looked up at the ceiling, “Well, it’s the sworn duty of the big brother to look out for the little sister. I mean, Luna wouldn’t have been my first choice of Phillips sibling I’d have dated, but that’s because she’d punch my lights out at the slightest provocation.”
“What, so you’d pick Sidney?”
“No way, I’m worried that Sid’s ass is forming its own gravitational field and will start swallowing everything up.” Joe said, “Seriously, it seems like it only gets bigger as time goes on. If it starts talking to us, we’re in trouble and I’m going to have to suggest that someone sacrifices themselves to save us from an extinction-level booty event.”
“What kind of diet is he on that sustains that kind of booty, anyway?” Celeste asked.
“One based on powerbombs, apparently.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s what I told him, too.” Joe said, “He said that it’s a fool who looks for logic in the chambers of the human powerbomb.”
“That’s what I said.”
There was a long pause between the siblings.
“So, mom and dad are cool with it, then,” Joe said, “That’s good. If anyone was going to worry me, it was going to be mom. Actually, Uncle Danny worries me more, he’s definitely the shadiest of our wacky collection of shady uncles.”
Celeste smiled, “Oh, Uncle Danny was fine with it, too. He encouraged it, even.”
“That’s good. I think.” Joe said, “So, my important question is… when’s the wedding that I’m totally going to be the best man for?”
Joe returned Celeste’s smile, a self-satisfied grin, “So, right after Culture Shock. That’s convenient.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want you two to miss it for the world.”
It was a beautiful day at the Devil’s Ditch Wrestling School in Arizona.
Birds chirped. Cacti did big cacti things. On days like these, kids like Sid Phillips…
“No, no, no! You gotta pop those hips!”
…were somehow entrusted with teaching the bright and shining students of former professional wrestler Benjamin Morris all that he knew about pro wrestling.
God help us all.
Sid was a merciless taskmaster when it came to the fundamentals of the powerbomb. He critiqued everything from the lift all the way to the release. He even brought flash cards with numbers written on them to grade the powerbombs he witnessed.
“Mr. Phillips,” one student said, “What about running the ropes? I’m still a little iffy on th—“
“You don’t need to run the ropes if you powerbomb the opponent,” Sid interrupted.
“Can you teach me how to use a German suplex?” another student asked.
Sid furrowed his brow and stared daggers at that student, and when a man the size of Sid Phillips did that to someone who was at the cruiserweight level, the only thing they could do in response was wilt like a dying flower.
“Let me tell you something about this heresy you speak of. I was not put on this earth to teach a man how to suplex. I was put on this earth to speak the gospel of the powerbomb. You want to learn blasphemies, there’s plenty of other lesser men who will teach those to you. If you want to learn the good word of Sid Phillips, though, you will shut up and powerbomb this man.”
Sid pointed at the poor training dummy for all of these powerbombs.
His name was Terry.
Terry looked up at Sid with pleading eyes, wanting nothing more than for this training session to be over. He wanted to go home. He wanted to be anywhere but here, in this wrestling school, under the watchful eye of this man who only knew this one weird trick. Wrestlers HATED it.
Sid responded to those pleading eyes with cold ones of his own. The type that knew no mercy. The type that can’t be bargained with, or reasoned with. Pitiless eyes, with no fear. Eyes that wouldn’t stop until anything and everything around him was decimated by powerbomb. Eyes that would survive even a trip through HOW.
Terry, much like the other wrestler, wilted and accepted his lot in life. He bent over at the waist and waited for his inevitable doom.
Sid nodded in acknowledgement of this, and then turned back to the wrestler asking about the German suplex.
“See, why can’t you be like Terry? Just imagine he’s one of many Kenny Freemans and send him to hell.”
He slapped the second wrestler on the shoulder, and pointed at the bent-over Terry.
“Now, go get ‘em, tiger.”
It was still a beautiful day at the Devil’s Ditch Wrestling School in Arizona.
Birds were singing. Tumbleweeds tumbled. On days like these, kids like Joe Fontaine…
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
…were handling the news of the tag division’s imminent demise extremely well and maturely. He was definitely not throwing things at the nearby wall. He’s so not doing that, you guys. This man was an adult very much in control of his emotions.
Um, oops. Forget that last paragraph.
The phone hit the wall at a velocity that would void a whole lot of warranties once it made impact. Joe would discover later that the phone would be broken in a way that the “U” key no longer worked, and he’d need to go get a new one.
Also, sorry, Sid, were you about to drink that Tchu-branded Monster energy drink? It’s gone now. You have Joe to thank for that.
Sid stared at his empty hand, where once the intimidating mug of the Inhuman Being stared daggers at those who would dare to drink his contents.
“Dude, I was drinking that…” he muttered to no one in particular.
Joe pulled at the obnoxious topknot on his head as he tried, and failed, to control his anger, “Six months! Six goddamn months we’ve been trying to get this rematch, and for what!? FOR WHAT!? To become King Shit of Fuck Mountain!?”
“Kings Shit. Plural. There’s two of us.” Sid corrected him, still staring at his still-empty hand, “You know, I was really wondering what Tchu-flavored Monster tasted like, and now I guess I’m not gonna know.”
Joe paced around furiously, not quite knowing what to do with any of his limbs. He’d already thrown everything that he could get his hands on like he was an immensely large Russian wearing his yeeting suspenders. He was a bundle of exposed nerves. Angry. Annoyed. Apoplectic. Aggravated. Other very A-words that you can recite from a thesaurus like a faux smart person.
In truth, they’d have found out earlier if they’d simply answered a phone call from Lindsay Troy earlier that weekend. But Joe and Sid usually only received phone calls from LT when they were getting fined for their assorted dumb shenanigans, and they both quietly decided that if they didn’t answer the phone, then they wouldn’t get fined. That idiot logic was the reason why it came to a surprise to both Joe and Sid that the tag division was about to go away. It also, you know, wouldn’t have prevented them from getting fined if that was what LT was calling for, but… you try telling these two morons this.
Sid wordlessly pulled out his phone and started to explain what just happened on Jabber.
Then he tempted fate, and typed “Thankfully, mine [his phone] remains pristine, and nothing bad will happen to it.”
He really should’ve known better.
“Dude!” Sid complained. He held his out like LeBron complaining to J.R. Smith about running down a clock in a tied NBA Finals game.
Joe realized what he’d done only seconds later, and said in a tone equally quelled anger and embarrassment, “I’ll buy you a new one.”
With all his energy spent, Joe sat down on the floor and buried his head in his hands.
Sid stared at the wall where his phone lay. In all honesty, if Joe hadn’t done it himself, he might have. How did one crucifix powerbomb a cellphone, though? It had no arms.
“Fuck, dude. How long have we been here?”
“About five hours. I don’t think any of these students have a future in powerbombs.”
“No, in PRIME.”
“Oh. Right.” Sid said. He thought about it. Time had flown by so quickly since they were rookies with familial name value trying desperately to not lose Survivor. “We’re coming up on a year.”
“Only one year…” Joe said, “God.”
“It felt like it was inevitable, man,” Sid said, “Teams were dropping like flies after Survivor. The Bandits, the Specials, David Fox and Nathan Filmix went back to their home planets… Johnny and Nova always felt like a temporary arrangement. The Convoy decided to give up, pretend they were tag champs, and stop teaming. Hell, even the B-Team’s only got a flock of Freemans left, and we still gotta send them back to whatever terrible multiverse they all came from.”
Sid crouched down to place a hand on Joe’s shoulder.
“You know what this means, though, right?”
“We only have one chance left to settle things with Jared and Justine when it’ll matter.” Sid said.
“No pressure, right?” Joe asked, “No one but us.”
Sid grunted in response.
“No one but us.”