You always remember your first Colossus.
I was such a different person then, in every possible way. Younger, brasher (I know), with a decade of experience and such little respect given my way. Married to someone I never should have said yes to. On my way to yet another personal heartache and professional abandonment.
But on that night, when everything in my life still felt together, I felt the magic in the air. It was bigger than a “big night” feel. The energy and excitement emanated from everyone backstage, cracking like thunder and lightning ahead of the rain.
I won gold at my first Colossus. The validation that Joey Melton and I could function as a tag team was confirmed; this wasn’t just an experiment any longer.
We’d break up not long after; turns out the ring isn’t the only place Joey’s been caught cheating.
I kept some different gold at my Second Colossus, when I broke the Colossus Curse against Sonny Silver. Before me, nobody had successful defended the Uni Title at the biggest show of the year. It wasn’t until then that I finally felt like I Made It Here. That my tag title reign and my first Universal Title win weren’t flukes. That I really could hang alongside PRIME’s giants of the industry.
That feeling was tested at my third Colossus, when a cipher sent by a Spider stripped me bare and tested my resolve. I would dismantle Cozen, and with it I reaffirmed my talent and sense of worth.
I would go to war with my long-time friend at both my fourth and fifth Colossus. We went Intense at my fourth, and our match for that belt still remains one of the toughest, most physical battles in my career. At my fifth, we closed the door on PRIME’s ReVolution Era as two of the best to ever do it.
I say all this, Dusk, because I need you to know that I understand why you picked me. After all, we know each others’ careers almost inside and out. I wasn’t lying when I told Jiles that Colossus is my show. There is nobody better at the big dance under the big, bright spotlights than me.
And for you to ask me to be the one to see you off into the sunset?
Buddy, just ask Cozen, Matt Ward, Vic Creed, and Cayle Muray.
There’s nobody who does it better.
Early November 2021
“Alright, who we got next?”
The question is answered by the shuffling of papers and the unmistakable squeak of a dry-erase marker on whiteboard. Lindsay looks over her scribbling, nods in approval, and turns to face the men behind her. Matt Ward and Killean Sirrajin sit next to each other inside The Queen’s Chicago home, the remnants of Peaquod’s pizza scattered amongst the headshots, scouting reports, and press write-ups on her desk.
They’ve been at this for awhile; discussing, debating, theorizing, and shaping Lindsay’s plan of a resurrected PRIME into something more than an industry rumor or prayers of return from the PRIMEates. Something tangible. Something real.
Their task at the moment? Finding PRIME’s Old Guard and seeing who wants to make another run at it.
“Have we tried reaching out to Dawkins, Hess or Harmen?” Matt asks while lifting a page from his steno pad.
“No,” replies Killean, throwing a rubber stress ball up in the air. “But I asked Skylar Montgomery and he was a ‘no.’”
A wadded up ball of paper flies toward the Supreme Machine’s head. “The hell you did,” Lindsay smirks as Sirrajin ducks. The ball bounces to the floor.
“You’re right, I didn’t.” He sits back up with a grin. “I asked Peter Vetra instead. He said yes, then called me back a little while later and said he was quitting. ”
Matt chuckles. Lindsay rolls her eyes. “Anyway,” she says. “Dawk says he needs to think about it.”
She turns back to the board and writes his name underneath a “MAYBE” column. “I talked to Jack at the last DEFIANCE show; he said he’s taking fewer bookings now to focus on training BRAZEN kids. And Hess is a ghost.”
“Really?” Killean frowns as the Hs go under the “NO” column. “Between the three of us, who do we know in Detroit that can track him down?”
Lindsay shrugs. “Two of the new refs are from that area, but I don’t want them to try and find Von Kelsig on his own. If we can’t reach him using our own networks, then he may not want to be found.”
“Probably the right move,” Killean nods, about to continue when Matt interrupts. “What about Dusk?”
It takes a moment or two before Lindsay replies with a thoughtful, “Hmm,” while Sirrajin turns to Ward. “You think he can still go?”
“He was wrestling up until a few years ago, right?” Matt asks Lindsay.
“Yeah…” Her brow furrows in thought as the end of her blue EXPO pen taps against the whiteboard. “We were in Legacy of Champions together for a bit. He was still there when it closed in 2017.”
Killean chuckles. “Five years removed…better than some of these guys.” His chin lifts in the direction of the “YES” column, where Brandon Youngblood’s and Nova’s names are written along with a few others. “Do you think he can still go?”
Another shrug. “Honestly? He may think he can, because it’s the second coming of PRIME, but he really may not be able to. The division he was competing in when LOC closed…it was no picnic in the park.”
Matt taps his pen against the arm of his chair. “Definitely understand that. Won’t know unless we ask him, though.”
The Queen looks out the window to the scorching street below. Cyclists in tank tops and shorts pedal by, chasing the shade from the oak trees down the street. Her time in Legacy of Champions feels like a lifetime ago; she was married, then. She was the FIST of DEFIANCE. She was not yet excommunicated from the New Orleans-based company by Eric Dane’s selfish, petty decree. She hadn’t found her way into the hellmouth of High Octane Wrestling. Her time in LOC with Craig Maloof saw them at odds…the Lost Soul believing she had lost her way while holding the Underground Title, and the Lady of the Hour staunchly defending that his help wasn’t needed.
It was like they never left PRIME.
They would battle, twice. The first time, Troy steamrolled him with a flying double knee strike and a spike DDT. The second time, it would take Maloof three superkicks to put her lights out and wrest the cursed belt away from her.
As the frost built up between them, a shoulder injury would put Troy on the shelf. She’d remain there while LOC shut its doors and a two-year hiatus began. Her hibernation was interrupted by a call from Lee Best in 2019 with an invitation to HOW. She hadn’t thought about Dusk in a long time, and truth be told he may want nothing to do with a PRIME run by her.
But Matt was right. They wouldn’t know unless they asked.
“I’ll call him,” Lindsay finally said while reaching for her phone and unlocking the screen. “I’m telling you both right now, though…if he comes back, he’s not coming out to Kanye…”
Thank God you listened to me about not coming out to Kanye. If we knew back then what we know now?
December 16, 2022
8 hours until showtime
There’s a familiar electricity in the air.
PRIME crew members inside Madison Square Garden scurry about to ensure Colossus’ set-up is on track.
And at the top of the entrance ramp, Lindsay silently watches them work, the hood of her sweatshirt up over her curls.
Never did she imagine competing at Colossus again. It was never her intention to come out from behind the desk and trade her stilettos for well-worn boots.
She foolishly thought her Streak was secure.
Tomorrow night, Lindsay and Dusk, her not-quite-an-enemy, not-quite-a-friend, would put on the match of a lifetime and give the Lost Soul a proper goodbye. For real this time.
He was at the top of his game on his way out the door, and yet, was still adamant about walking away on his own terms.
I hope to one day be so lucky…
“Feels surreal, doesn’t it?”
Matt Ward’s flat Midwestern accent floats into Lindsay’s consciousness and causes her racing thoughts to cease. She looks over her shoulder and smiles at her friend and one-time rival ambling toward her with his hands in his pockets.
“You can say that again.”
PRIME’s former Wrecking Ball stops next to her and sits down on Lindsay’s left, stretching his legs out with a grimace. Like all retired wrestlers, the aches and pains of hard years in the ring still linger long after the boots have been hung up. For some, it’s their backs and necks; for others, like the man known around the world as Tchu, it’s their knees.
An easy silence settles between the Inhuman Being and the Queen of the Ring, two company and industry veterans, watching the whole show coming together. The quiet’s disturbed after a time by Lindsay sighing and gently shaking her head. “I feel like I’ve asked myself this question more times this year than I ever have before, but am I doing the right thing here?” Her eyes drift to his head, in profile. “Accepting this match, competing here again…”
“What makes you think you’re not?” Matt replies, genuinely curious.
“I dunno, I…” she trails off. A second sigh. “Part of me feels like I’m disrespecting the promise we made at Colossus ten years ago, that we’d be each other’s last PRIME match. There was so much left on the mat at Soldier Field…by us, by the rest of the boys…and that’s special to me. That’s the culmination of everything I worked for, cried for, bled for as a member of PRIME. You come here to battle the best and, if you’re able, beat the best.”
Lindsay looks back toward the ring.
“So why do I feel like a hypocrite for saying ‘yes’ to Craig’s last chance at capturing that feeling?”
“Because you have integrity, and you care about how it looks as the owner.” Matt smiles. “But how many times did Tyler Nelson wrestle when he ran this place? Or Chet Worth? Or Devin Shakur?”
The Queen frowns. “I’d really like to not be thought of in the same breath as them, thanks.”
“All I’m saying is there’s precedent, whether we like any of those guys or not. Besides,” he nudges her shoulder. “You’re doing this for a good reason. Craig could’ve chosen anyone to send him off into the sunset. He wanted The Benchmark. Who can blame him?”
Her smile returns and she hangs her head, chuckling. “That’s a good way to look at it. I just hope he realizes what he’s getting himself into.”
I’ve been thinking about what my sixth Colossus – the Colossus I was never supposed to be in – is going to bring.
The end of an era, for one. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that our first year would not have been the same without Dusk as a member of PRIME. From Red Eyez jokes, to smoke machines, to Beetlejuice pants, to the end run of a lifetime, you are one of the cornerstones of our first year back.
And even though I may be returning your praise right now, and yes…I meant everything I said up there, none of that will mean dick come December 17th.
Everyone is going to want you to have the feel-good sendoff that you deserve. Buddy, if I wasn’t going to be in the ring against you, that’s what I’d want, as I’d want for everyone who wants to go out on their own terms.
But you had to go and call for the Harbinger of War.
This past year has been one of triumph, and one of frustration. From Jiles and Bathory, to Paxton Ray, to the Love Convoy, to Ivan Stanislav, and everyone and everything in-between, I have dealt with a lot of bullshit. And that feeling’s gotta be taken out somewhere.
I think you had good intentions.
I think you made a grievous mistake.
It’s time for the boys in the locker room to be reminded just who it is that signs their checks.
I’m not the same wrestler I was five years ago, Craig. Whatever you remember about how I used to be, throw it out the window. For the last year and a half, I have been a buzzsaw. The PRIMEates looking for flippy shit need to leave those expectations at the door. I hit harder, for longer, than ever before. I’m refined and precise, deadlier than a snakebite and I don’t think you have the antidote to save yourself.
I’m more than just your Boss, Dusk. I’m the Final Boss. I am Charon; I am the one you run into at the End of the Road, who decides how your passage out of PRIME will be.
Craig, you have had an admirable, amazing PRIME career. You have the respect of the locker room, the staff, and the fans. Most importantly, you have my respect.
It will be my honor to send you out on your shield.
But I won’t let you have the honor of ending my Streak.