Posted on 10/29/22 at 2:00am by Brandon Youngblood
Event: ReVival 18
August 14, 2022
@GREATSCOTTNESS: I STARTED THE ATKENS DIET TODAY IT IS THE NEW DIET OF CHAMPIONS I TRIED THE YOUNGBLOOD DIET BUT IT JUST MADE ME SHIT THE BED WHEN IT MATTERED MOST
The absence of sleep is a dirty bomb to the psyche, polluting a struggling, aching mind. Twenty-four hours after ReVival 13, it wasn’t losing the Universal Championship to Phil Atken that kept Brandon Youngblood awake; it was his broken nose. Choked wheezes tried to force their way through his nostrils, useless against the plug of crushed cartilage and turbinates. The pain of breathing, sharp as it was, would be worth it if he could get one fresh breath, one clean exhale. Surgery was two days out. Afrin and VapoRub weren’t miracle workers.
Abuse calcified The Humble Proprietor of The Glue Factory to something stronger than granite; Brandon’s body suffered the culmination of Atken’s lifes work, terrible bruises and gashes littering his body, a dull, all consuming throb filling him. His nose, pulverized with a soccer kick, was the worst of it, its effects psychological as much as physical. Sleep apnea is both a silent and snoring killer. Given the thickness of his neck, CPAP therapy was required. Adapting wasn’t easy. Mouth masks were constricting, uncomfortable, the constant forced air pressure signaling fight or flight responses through his heart as he began nodding off. Nasal pillows, however, were comfortable. Less inhibiting.
They were useless despite the manual adjustment of his septum.
Every two hours, he iced the bridge of his nose. If it helped with the swelling, he couldn’t say. Back home in Eau Claire, he was unable to lie down in bed; doing so put immense pressure on his chest, suffocating his breaths. Sitting upright in the leather recliner in the living room helped. His eyelids were heavy. The ticking of the clock had a soothing tone. Maybe this time, he’d finally fall asleep.
The palpitations and surging hot flashes blitzed him within moments, bringing him to his feet, pacing. His fingers dug into his scalp as he trenched through the carpet, reeling, not understanding why he couldn’t fall asleep, couldn’t relax. He needed to breathe, push harder and harder and blow, a finger digging inside his nostril trying to pull back against the swell and damage to open the cave-in, arrhythmia, a need to bore inside, clean everything out, clean the dead and broken and breathe, thoughts of the aftermath of surgery, the relief, the glorious relief, focus on that focus only on that it’s going to get better it’s going to get better, and after intolerable centuries, he could feel the tension dissipate within his body. He slumped back into the recliner, drawing his blanket over his legs, ready to try and begin the cycle all over again.
Derealization scrambled his haptic sensation. The softness of a pair of satin jackets eased the tide. One crimson, the other emerald. Both of them featured hoods. The Next Diamonds. The weight of being Champion meant too little time and far too many priorities. He should have gone to them months ago, before the bullhorn. Regret. He couldn’t make up for lost time. Tale as old as time in the sport of professional wrestling.
A story for another time.
He reached for his phone as his thoughts raced. Losing to Atken, the competitor, didn’t bother him, but rather what the loss meant. Its totality only grew in the caustic moments of insomnia. Phil’s mission statement about a brighter future for the next generation of wrestling was a thin veil, a front belying the danger of his methods and sheer brutality. Even had Brandon won, his victory wouldn’t have been absolute.
Self doubt and sorrow gave way to an ocean of bitterness, pointed not at the Proprietor, but at something else. Something far more petty. The ones who danced on his grave. There weren’t many, be it from respect or fear, but two men dared, through the safety of Jabber. Their celebration of Atken’s victory outstripped his own by miles. One made sense; FLAMBERGE had cast his lot when he pulled the bottom rope and cheated him of continuing the fight. The other screamed from the ether, unprompted, unsolicited, unconnected, a spitfire torrent sensing weakness.
The petulant Scott Gratesburgh.
Brandon would remember this night, as well as the ones that followed, until his nose finally healed. Remember every night being a roll of the dice to see if insomnia and anxiety would win out. But here, as he tried to fall to sleep once again, it would be his words he’d focus on.
He thought of the ways he’d force those words down his throat, chased soon after by bloody broken teeth.
Such a GREAT motivator.
It was a poor decision. His eyes scanned across the jabs, over and over. They prickled inside his mind, found the soft spaces housing his vulnerability. A second attempt at rest. It ended in failure as well. This time, as he rose from his seat, he grabbed his phone and hurled it across the room, into the fireplace. He could hear the screen shatter against brick and steel. It was now just as useless as the rest of the soot and ash.
@GREATSCOTTNESS: PLUS I TRUST THE ATKENS DIET BECAUSE LAST NIGHT AT REVIVAL IT SHAVED OVER TWO HUNDRED USELESS POUNDS OFF THE UNIVERSAL TITLE
Just over than seventy days. Awful as they were, part of me wishes I could go back. At least there were focal points to wrap my anger around. The Glue Factory. FLAMBERGE. The Universal Championship. I didn’t know the path forward, but it seemed like one would become evident soon enough.
At least then, I wasn’t questioning whether any of this was worth it anymore.
I can deal with the weight of expectation on my shoulders. Suffer in silence as I can’t sleep. Be the tree under which everyone else finds shade. At least, then, I have control, even if it’s just the illusion. But since unlucky 13, PRIME, home, has spiraled out of control.
And I couldn’t stop it from happening.
Couldn’t control it as it picked up steam.
Couldn’t silence the screaming chaos as it overtook everything.
Hayes Hanlon has watched every show in PRIME’s history three times over. “Same as it ever was,” he says, tugging at a ‘Fighting For Jonathan’ shirt, using it as an instrument that shows how he and people like Sykes and others are heroes. That’s easy when you are sitting in front of a television or are in the crowd. Then, it’s just a show. I lived that history. I know its measure in full because my hands and blood formed its foundation.
I also know how I’d have looked at him. How I’d have devoured his sentimentality.
I’d smile at the whiff of fresh meat. I can even taste the iron, feel the rust wedging between my teeth in gummy hunks. My heart was black; it wouldn’t care about your morals, your ethics. Those would be your shackles. And if you held to them, all you would do is bind your own hands behind your back and offer your head to the block.
Gravestones and songs of heroism are helpless in the face of a siege engine. Another skull for the skull throne.
The engine inside me isn’t dormant anymore. It’s bursting through my seams. I dread its return. For what it will make me say. What it might make me do.
Hurting people feels good.
Just let me focus on GREAT SCOTT. Or Just Scott. Gratesburgh? He picked a fight fifteen pupa stages ago, and now his butterfly wings hover in the same turbulent fog, wishing to rewind back to seventy days prior. Back before tantrums and blaming others became his fallback. Back when there was still a chance he could become 5 Star Champion.
Back before he kept losing the medium ones.
Back before his words aged like milk.
October 8, 2022
@GREATSCOTTNESS: HEY CAPTAIN MELLOW DRAMA THE EMOTIONS STORE CALLED AND SAID STOP CRYING. I LOST A TITLE MATCH TO A CAMEL GOAT AND YOU DON’T SEE ME MOPING AROUND NO I WENT AND GOT MEAT LIKE A MAN
It’s said that drowning is a peaceful way to die. The lungs fill with fluid and, suddenly, it’s over. No pain. No worry. If that’s true, then why is waterboarding such a devastating interrogation tactic? Those who suffer it gasp for air within moments, struggling, the rag smothering their face soaking through, their limbs flailing, all until it’s removed and the water gushes out of their mouth and their eyes glass over and they will do anything, anything, to stop it. It’s a war crime for a reason.
PRIME must be a nation state that doesn’t adhere to the Geneva Convention.
The person being waterboarded suffers the most, but agony isn’t the reason for its use; if it were, the Judas Cradle and the Brazen Bull wouldn’t be relics. Waterboarding is a utilitarian torture. Simple household items. Can happen anywhere. Has a more ‘do-it-yourself’ spirit.
Not only that, but its very threat can create an inspiring level of terror for those who witness it.
Chocolate. It rushed across Jared Sykes’ rag covered face. Amy Campbell knew how hard it was to breathe with a mask on in the best of circumstances. This was different. She knew how that mask felt. Knew from how it pressed against the bridge of her nose and how, if the laces weren’t tied just right in the back, that the neck could grip like a vice. Chocolate, or so they say. Its viscosity screamed motor oil, its thickness denying him the right when he opened his mouth. He suffered alone. There was no cavalry. No savior. And as the violence stretched on, her eyes fell upon the man with whom she shared the bed she was steadying herself against.
It was brief, her glance. Then, her eyes were back on the screen. Why was nobody coming? A line of demarcation. A threat from an incel with a crowbar. If anyone got close, he’d take Justine Calvin’s eye.
A crowbar with a rusty nail.
Was it in Vegas? Does it even matter? That city followed us like a plague. Sin City Championship Wrestling. Wherever it went, its oppression, its hatred, its desire to kill your soul while letting your body live just so it could savor your suffering, followed. A bowie knife and Carbon and a rusty nail from Kingsley and–
“Amy?” Brandon’s voice was hollow as it rippled from the hall doorway.
Her bare feet shuffled forcefully back and forth from her perch at the edge of the bed, her fingernails sinking into her forehead. Rocking. A harsh sob. An anguished, frustrated wail. Her hands opened and fell, then swung forward, her breathing heavily. She growled, planting her feet in the carpet, her eyes swollen from anxiety attack tears.
He opened your mouth. Forced it open with clawing fingers. He smelt like an ashtray filled with cheap cigarette butts saturated in bog filth. His breath was humid and oppressive against your neck. Mississippi. Parchman Farm. SCCW was Parchman Farm, and there were no guards on the way. There’s no flavor as he sinks the nail inside your cheek and pushes it through the other side. It’s not clean. Layers of flesh twist around bits of corrosion. What do you see, Amy? Nothing.
You can’t see anything when your eyes are rolled back.
“Why?!” She shouts. Are Melissa and Travis still there? It doesn’t matter. She doesn’t care. She grabs Brandon by the shirt, looks into his eyes. Her lips trembled. “Why?!”
“No!” Her push is forceful. “Don’t tell me you’re sorry. Don’t fucking tell me you’re sorry!”
“What?” She sawed her forearm against her eyes, brushing away the tears. They burnt like lava. An ugly snort. Her fists balled up as she backpedaled from the doorway, trying to center her breathing. “What are you going to say, Brandon? What are you going to say?!”
“I…don’t know. I just…I just want to help you. That’s all I care about right now.” And that’s the truth, Amy. It’s the honest truth and seeing you like this scares me. And you can’t control it. You’re in shock and I…I don’t know how to help or what to say. “Let’s get you something to calm you down so you don’t spiral. Come on, Amy. Please?”
He’s trying to help he’s trying to help he’s trying to help “We were done with this part of our lives! Wrestling. Had made our peace! Moved. The fuck! On! But now we’re here. We’re here, Brandon! Two old and scarred up soldiers looking at a battlefield with a little skip in the step because we! Can’t. Move. On! It’s pathetic! It’s fucking pathetic!”
It’s your fault, Brandon. Her words caused him to shrink. He couldn’t look at her, hanging his head, his hands instinctively folding over each other, resting softly on his stomach. What could he say? What could he do to help her feel better? This is your fault. You aren’t there, but you both know this is your fault. “I didn’t mean–”
“I didn’t think it would be–”
“Why are you making me watch my friends die?!” She could barely choke the words out through her sobs. “My friends…my family…you don’t know. You don’t know!”
“Everything we’ve been through. When nobody cared. They did. They did! When I couldn’t believe in myself. When I was fucked up on pills and coke and…and…they believed in me! Jon and Jared. And I hurt them! I hurt them so fucking bad and I just want to leave it behind because I can’t say I’m sorry I can’t say I’m sorry I CAN’T SAY I’M SORRY–”
She was sinking into the abyss. He didn’t know the stories about the SCCW Highwaymen because she wouldn’t tell them. Distance provided a safe haven. She had a new life. Sobriety. She’d traded warm California and Hollywood lights for Wisconsin cold. She was a step mother. Enjoyed engineering albums and cosplay outfits. Life was calm. Predictable. She liked the routine and the mundane. Age had finally slowed her down. Everyone loses the battle against time. But those moments of the past, the harshness, the desensitization, the hardening of the heart, she wasn’t built for it anymore. Neither was he. At least he tried telling himself that.
“We’re all just dogs, aren’t we, Brandon? Just mutant shit in some junkyard, and people throw us against each other and want us to tear our throats out, and they got…they got cameras! Jared’s in there and he’s dying and THEY GOT CAMERAS! AND MONEY! HE’S DYING FOR MONEY! HE’S DYING FOR MONEY AND ENTERTAINMENT AND IT’S NEVER ENOUGH–”
Us. Listen to her. Us. This is us. You were done with wrestling. Content. Moved on. But then, The Queen spoke, and you weren’t so content anymore, were you? Look at your goal board, ‘Tower of Babel’. Years before, it’s filled with charity fundraisers and events, with house projects. You wanted to shave off a few pounds. Maybe do a half marathon. Now, it’s about wrestling championships. Pay-Per-View main events. You ‘won the big one’ and that should have been enough to fill your stomach. We both know the truth. As you stood there, smiling after the Almasy, that Universal Championship going around your waist, it wasn’t enough. Even in that moment, it wasn’t sticking to your ribs. And Amy’s yelling at you and you’re wallowing in lost Camelot as her family is slaughtered. What do you feel? Ask that tummy of yours, ‘Diamond’. It feels full. With hate. With rage. You want to charge down that ramp and destroy the Love Convoy. You want to crush Cancer Jiles. FLAMBERGE cheated you and he swaggered up to you in that media scrum and you want to smash him. That feeling is more complete than any championship belt. And you wanted to play hero? He grabbed hold of her, pressing her against his chest. “It’s okay, Amy. It’s okay. I’ve got you. I’ve got you.”
She sobbed into him, her arms frenetic with haphazard movement until he pinned them to her sides, gently rocking her back and forth. “I didn’t want to see his face. I didn’t want to see his face. All this time and I’ve just wanted to avoid his face.” Panic melted into sorrow, her weeping carrying the thickness of mud. “I never said goodbye…never said goodbye…I lied to him and ruined him and ruined everything and I never even got to say goodbye and it’s the biggest mistake of my life–”
Hurt them. Listen to your conscience. Listen to the fans. Know from within. They won’t stop hurting others. Not until you put an end to it. Your hands are filled with blood. You’re a Bastard. A Pariah. Eat the bullet because it’s what’s right. You made the choice to come back. You’re not their example. Their standard. You’re their weapon. Your soul doesn’t matter. The violence you bring does. “It’s okay Amy…”
“–and I never stopped loving him.”
October 22, 2022
ReVival 17, Iron and Copper. They hurt the ones you love. Swore and nuzzled in their wake. Nate Colton and Coral Avalon and Brandon Youngblood finally took a stand. The Love Convoy scattered in their presence, their banshee, Vickie Hall, ordering them to safety. And as Coral went to check on the fallen Popsicles, Vickie’s dress became tangled in the ropes. Honolulu quick, Brandon surges, snatching her by the waist. Her love partner, Jonathan, was the first skull in the Diamond Age. Even as the love of his life begged for help, even as he screamed for her to be let go, he made no effort to stop it.
Do it. He’s watching you. Make him feel it. Make him watch helplessly as the one he loves gets–
“Don’t.” Colton’s tone is measured, his frame sizable enough to impede. A buffer between Youngblood and Vickie. She’s light. So light. Suplex her. Do it. DO IT! A wall of sound like a song to God’s glory in a Pentecostal church. But the young man’s words somehow broke through, pausing Brandon’s bloodthirsty conscience. “This isn’t who you are.” Shut up. Shut up! I NEED this, Nate! YOU need this! They deserve it! Chocolate stains never washing away and she had to watch it all and “This isn’t what we are.” I need to protect the family.
Simmering, those Midwestern sensibilities. He looked at Nate. This young man, cut from granite, skilled beyond measure, clean cut, good of heart, born to a caring family who loved each other. His father, Jake, is the only man he grants the honorific of Mister. Nate’s shoulders were broad. One day, they’d carry PRIME. All Youngblood wanted was to lessen that future load. He sneered as he let go of Vickie, his eyes moving toward the ring, toward Justine Calvin and the Crownless King stooped to his knees, making sure she was alright.
Then, they looked toward Jared Sykes.
Slashed across his chest, a pool of blood underneath his torso stained the canvas. Brandon watched as Nate stepped between the ropes, getting on his knees, checking on the fallen Blueberry, all while the Tag Champion tried to push himself off the mat. When PRIME returned nearly a year ago, what Brandon wanted was for it to be a place where gladiators shared the ring, rising each other up, there to support each other in the aftermath. Looking within the squared circle now, those dreams were dead. What he stood outside of was another MASH unit, another violent scene, another stab against the darkness which stirred the human heart.
Just because PRIME wasn’t Camelot didn’t mean he couldn’t make it a better place.
He stepped through the ropes, moving toward the grunting Sykes as Colton tried to make sure he stayed down. “Don’t move. That’s…really bad.”
Jared wasn’t listening.
Brandon pushed down on the champion’s shoulder, bracing him against the canvas. “Just stop. Medical is on their way.” The two had rarely crossed paths in their careers. Discounting a match a decade before, Jared had gone out of his way to keep his distance from the Diamond. The two that got away. Brandon could sense the panic surging through him, Jared’s words catching on dried lips.
Youngblood’s hand left Jared’s shoulder before taking him by the hand.
“I got you.” Their eyes connected for the first time. “Brother.”
That violence for the Convoy has to go someplace.
Larry Tact did nothing to me. Look what it got him.
Let me focus on Gratesburgh. Before 13, all I ever did was hype him up as a future contender and a bright young talent. My body was still warm when he danced on my grave. Just words, right?
Going through a lot right now.
Isn’t it just GREAT that my proportionality scale is broken?
I’m going to enjoy hurting you.