Bang! Pro Wrestling was established by the Doi siblings, Inoue and Ryuunosuke, in 2011.
As circuses go, you had the full three rings.
In one ring, you had… well. The ring. The arena for every professional wrestler to duke it out to determine a winner and a loser. Sometimes several losers. Depends on how many people were in that ring, really.
In the second ring, you had the full ludicrousness of free-roaming wrestling battles that happened just about anywhere in day-to-day society. Water parks, theme parks, park parks, office buildings, baseball stadiums, basketball stadiums, bouncy castles, convenience stores, Denny’s… You name it, Bang! Pro Wrestling has invaded it. And someone has likely been suplexed in every single one of those settings.
And in the third ring… well, you got the extreme stuff. Bang! Pro Wrestling was no stranger to violent escapades. Thumbtacks, explosions, light tubes, barbed wire, tables, tables covered in barbed wire, barbed wire covered in tables… You name it, it’s probably made contact with the supple flesh of an unfortunate wrestle boy.
For Coral Avalon, who’d been there since the very first show until his recent final tour in May of 2022, it was home.
It was also the place where he truly became what he already knew he was.
Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
December 10th, 2013
Coral Avalon leaned against the corner, his back to the turnbuckles. Sweat blinded his eyes, his heart pounded in his chest. His lungs screamed at him that this had all been a terrible mistake. Pain was a distant throb in the back of his mind, the adrenaline had been keeping him going this whole time.
He’d been at this for nearly thirty minutes, and it felt like five minutes.
Where did the time go?
His opponent stood across from him, barely able to get to his feet.
This was a time before the Kingdom, when Coral Avalon was simply the top gaijin performer in Bang! Pro Wrestling, and he took on everyone that Doi Inoue thought would throw him into the Sun. Sometimes, Coral himself would suggest such an opponent.
He almost immediately regretted it tonight when he brought Franco Marchesi with him to Japan.
Franco stood at about six feet and five inches tall and had a swimmer’s build. Long, lanky limbs belied his physical strength and musculature. His hair was buzzed short. A small scar carved a line through his left brow.
Franco was born in Venice, and immigrated to America when he was a young boy. He grew up admiring wrestlers like Joey Malone and Daniel Phillips, and jumped at the chance to train with the former after he gave up swimming.
There were three “survivors” of Joey Malone’s ill-fated school of wrestling. One was Coral, soon to style himself a king without a crown. The second was Coral’s long-time tag team partner, Allen Brown, who wrestled as the Codemaster. Together, the two of them formed the Blue Rogues, a tag team that eventually became an entire gang of miscreants that banded together with Codemaster and became acquainted with Avalon. They won the fWo and PRIME tag team championships together, until Allen got in trouble with the law and the whole thing collapsed under the weight of his hubris.
But there was a third, and that man stood across from Coral, a warrior that he’d never quite met in the ring before in his life.
Franco made his name wrestling in Europe after surviving the abject cruelty masquerading as a wrestling school that you paid to have inflicted upon you. He was, after all, Italian-born and he spoke several languages. That’s where Coral first met him, and invited him to Japan.
Inoue took one look at this freakishly athletic tall Italian, smiled in that cruel way she did when she found something terrible she could do to Coral, and put them in a match together.
The match had been a slugfest. Coral gave up half a foot to the Venetian, and he was almost as good in the ring as Coral was. What carried him through the day so far had been Coral’s acumen. Franco had been favoring a knee before the match, a little gift from a match with Amy Campbell in England the previous week, and Coral zeroed in on that. He couldn’t help it. Friend or foe, once you got in the ring with Coral Avalon, the wrestling robot in him would take over and start zeroing in on weaknesses.
The European uppercuts he throws could be stronger than mine, but he’s not putting his full body behind them yet. He just relies on his natural size to carry them. His knee must be bothering him that much.
The fact that he could think this consciously after getting blasted by those same uppercuts was a testament on how repeatedly getting kicked in the head by an angry Japanese woman with a black belt in karate could forge a skull stronger than steel.
Oh, uh. Hey! Quick note from PRIME’s PR department here, just got it across my desk. Let’s see here…. Do not test this on your own. We haven’t put a lot of science behind it, but we’re pretty sure your brains will be liquid by the time your skull gets that hard.
In any case, the match had reached a fever pitch.
Franco had just kicked out of one of Coral’s tried-and-true bombs, the old Ratings Spike he stole from Ruben Ross early in his career, and used for so long that the move was more associated with him than with Ross. That was becoming more frequent. It didn’t have the same bite it used to. His opponents had become tougher and tougher as he kept wrestling.
But while Franco had just kicked out, he was still on Wobble Boulevard, and about to take a long drift into Spaghetti Legs Lane.
Coral watched him get to one knee.
He thought about his options.
He had so many.
Knowledge in professional wrestling was power. A blessing and a curse. Coral knew so many different ways to put someone’s shoulder on the mat for three. He knew so many ways to bend a man’s limbs in shapes better suited for summoning eldritch horrors. But sometimes, the biggest problem he had was having too many options for what he wanted to do at any given moment.
It took until Franco was back on his feet before he made his choice.
There’s an art to a good yakuza kick.
There’s the approach. The sprint. The forward momentum. You want just enough of it to do damage when you make contact, but you don’t want so much that you lose control or mistime when you bring your leg up. You’d look like an idiot. Or you’d miss and hit someone in the knee instead, and while that’s pretty effective in its own right, it’s not what you’re looking to do.
Then there’s the kick itself. Franco was a very tall man, noticeably taller than Coral was. Tall enough that Coral would have to reach high to hit him in the head with the kick. He’d have to make a small leap. Like riding a bicycle.
And finally, the recovery.
The part no one thinks about.
The worst part about hitting a new move was not being accustomed to hitting it. You could stumble, lose your balance, and fall. You could accidentally do the splits and not have the flexibility for it. You might roll your ankles. Anything and everything could happen.
Fortunately for Coral, things went as drawn up in the playbook.
Coral hit the kick, and the momentum from landing carried him into the ropes. If the ropes hadn’t been there, then Coral might’ve ended up in the lap of some excited Japanese office lady, and then it’d be a very different story we’re telling.
Franco spun like a top upon impact, and fell to the mat one final time.
He’d picked up the win.
And yet, something gnawed at Coral, deep within.
When Coral got to the back after he’d won the match, Ryuunosuke was waiting for him.
Coral had maintained a good winner’s posture until he breached the curtains, and then he stumbled and sat down on an empty chair as though he’d planned to do that all along.
Smooth as silk, that’s me.
“What was that?” Ryu asked. His tone was genuinely curious, like a worker asking his co-worker what sort of tools he used on the job.
It took Coral a few seconds before he registered what Ryu was asking. The cacophony outside for the arrival of Lord Kurosame-sama from the depths of whatever ocean he came from made it hard to have a conversation.
Coral shrugged, “I just did a yakuza kick, I don’t know.”
He’d never done it before tonight. It was always something in the back of his mind, as with most moves he knew. He hadn’t practiced it. He was surprised when it won him the match. The yakuza kick was simple in theory. Difficult, however, in practice. Coral wasn’t known for his kicking. He was better known as a scrappy underdog, the one who took the finishing moves of other wrestlers and made them his own.
For the better part of ten years, “the Kleptomaniac” was the name synonymous with Coral Avalon. Outside of a Koji clutch that he started using right at the same time Lindsay Troy started using it, he had no finishing moves that were his own. And he still held on to the embers of this style of wrestling this far into his run in Bang! Pro Wrestling.
But Coral knew there was a problem.
He always knew.
It was all a gimmick.
The match with Franco had exemplified this. It took until Coral could hit something he’d never done before to put Franco down. He hit the man with everything he had relied upon until this point. He kicked out of the Ratings Spike. He got powerbombed right out of the Koji clutch. He was launched out of the ring trying to use Scott Slugger’s Curveball. And so on, and so forth.
Almost everything he had didn’t work.
And so he decided.
Tonight would be the last night he’d rely on his crutch.
“I think it’s time I made a change, Ryu-san.”
TAKING A DIP
Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
December 21st, 2013
Another day, another show in Bang! Pro Wrestling.
Shows for Bang! Pro Wrestling were usually filmed in two parts. The first part that occurred in a building like the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium? That’s the part that got sold on DVD and shipped to aspiring collectors the world over. The other part? That’s the bullshit that got put up on YouTube to get all kinds of eyes on the insane craziness that made up Bang!
You know the bullshit.
It’s all those times that Bang! Pro Wrestling would put a match in a city park or in a marketplace, maybe in an amusement park or a water park if they were feeling frisky.
Coral would never, ever get accustomed to those sorts of matches.
Nine years before Kensuke BLACK would make a sport out of throwing Coral into every single cubicle that ever existed on the fifth floor of a milquetoast Japanese office building, Coral was in the Shonai Ryokuchi Park freezing his ass off. It was just four days before a Christmas that he’d be spending with his wife’s family. His only respite from the cold was the lab coat he wore over his bare chest.
The whole thing was going to be a shit show.
Inoue was probably laughing her ass off about it back at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, where it was nice and warm. So was Kensuke BLACK, who would’ve been wrestling a dark match at that same gymnasium later that night, though Sakagami Kensuke wasn’t going by that name yet and was nothing but respectful towards Coral at this stage of their careers.
The match was meant to be a clusterfuck.
Clusters would be fucked in this six-man tag team match, a free-for-all dumb-fest for the Bang! With Your Friends trios championships.
One side was Coral in the mask of Baron von Blackberry, teaming up with two of the three members of Mega Job. Beef and El Janito. Mega Job came to Bang! Pro Wrestling for what would be their last tour as professional wrestlers before their retirement from the ring to get into proper, less-painful comedy. And eventually, a very popular children’s cartoon about their exploits. If you’re wondering where Steve was, he was likely also at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, also laughing his ass off.
Somehow, some kind of way, the team of Baron von Blackberry and Mega Job were the Bang! With Your Friends trios champions in 2013, which only occurred because Blackberry did most of the work.
So that’s how it is.
Mega Job did not win titles. Titles simply found their way into Mega Job’s grubby hands by sheer happenstance. Coral didn’t even want to admit that the pair of miscreants shared the distinction of being fWo Tag Team Champions with him, even if Mega Job themselves didn’t remember how that even happened. But regardless, Blackberry and Mega Job were together “the Fruits of THE DOOM”.
The other side was a whole crowd of Bang! Pro Wrestling luminaries.
“Diamond” Daisuke, his full name was Hashiwara Daisuke, was a man who looked like a stereotypical Japanese high school delinquent. The brown-dyed pompadour, ever-present sunglasses, the school uniform-styled outfit with the open shirt that showed off his muscles. You never wanted to mess with his hair, if you knew what was good for you. You would think that with the nickname and the pompadour that you’d be comparing him to Josuke in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, but he looked more like Kuwabara from YuYu Hakusho.
God, I’m such a weeb.
The second was Umehara “Cowabunga” Kenji. Cowabunga Kenji was an unusual case of a man who held a valuable job as a salaryman. One day, however, he suddenly decided to become a professional wrestler. Such a drastic, sudden change was about as common an occurrence in Japanese society as being struck by lightning. He performed while dressed as a salaryman, the Cowabunga nickname was simply something he added to contrast his otherwise plain and bland-looking salaryman look with the wildness of pro wrestling.
Those two formed the Diamond Salary Connection, the ridiculous combination of Daisuke’s delinquent and Kenji’s salaryman. Together, they were the Bang! With Your Partner champions of 2013, and would go on to be one of the most distinguished tag teams to have ever graced the ring (and other exotic locales) of Bang! Pro Wrestling.
And finally, the third member of the team.
He almost needed no introduction to anyone who’d known the story of Bang! Pro Wrestling for the last twelve years.
The current Bang! Openweight Champion.
The Ace of Hearts, Fukumaru Kazuya.
When the Doi siblings created Bang! Pro Wrestling, the foundation of the company was centered around four “aces”, the pillars of the company. We already talked about one of them, Hashiwara Daisuke.
Well, Fukumaru Kazuya was Bang! Pro Wrestling’s most feared professional wrestler.
If Daisuke had the appearance of a delinquent, then Kazuya had the attitude. Surly, violent, bombastic, and mercurial, the Ace of Hearts did whatever he wanted to ensure that his opponents were left broken in his wake. He cared far more about torturing his opponents than he did in defeating them, and anyone who watched him wrestle knew that he had the skill to make everything he did hurt.
His hair had a deep widow’s peak to it, and coupled with the scowl that was usually plastered on his face, he ended up with a nickname among some fans that they didn’t dare repeat in his presence: “Vegeta-sama”.
For Doi Inoue, he was a man after her own heart, which was why she chose him to be the Ace of Hearts. Not that he cared that much what she, or anyone else, thought.
Kazuya reserved a particular disdain for two kinds of individuals in particular.
The first? The idiots. The array of bumblefucks who dared to enter the ring and not take it as seriously as he felt they should. That happened to be all three of the people he glared daggers at. Even if the setting wasn’t a ring, he’d still beat the shit out of all three of them if he could.
The second? The foreigners. All of them, really, but especially Americans. And once again, that included all three members of the opposing team.
So when the referee, poor Ryu, rang the imaginary bell (literally, he just said “ding ding”), Kazuya made a beeline for the biggest foreign bumblefuck on the opposing team.
That, unfortunately for him, was El Janito.
“OH GOD!” El Janito screamed, as he realized that Kazuya was rushing at him with red in his eyes and a thirst for blood. Rather than meet him head-on, Janito did what any normal human being would do in his situation. He turned, and he ran for his goddamn life.
Beef and Baron von Blackberry watched him exit, pursued by bear Kazuya.
And that gave the Diamond Salary Connection plenty of opportunity to jump them.
Beef was a lot of things. Slightly annoyed, a semi-competent film director, one-third of Mega Job, in possession of a really fun name to say, and a man with awful hair. Seriously, you could sweep the floor with his hair, which stood straight up like he was permanently the victim of electro-static shock.
Anyway, what he was not was well-equipped to handle a Japanese salaryman in a business suit beating the shit out of him. He was never well-equipped to handle a Japanese elementary school student beating the shit out of him, either, but that’s not exactly pertinent to this story.
Daisuke had more of a challenge on his hands, by comparison.
You might look at a character like Baron von Blackberry and think of him as not a challenge. A lot of bluster with no fire. One often forgot that underneath the mask was a venerated and well-regarded professional wrestler. So unlike El Janito, who ran away as though the devil were chasing him (because he was), or Beef, who was being beaten to near-death by a salaryman, Blackberry fought back.
This went on for a while.
The three individual fights – hardly any teamwork involved at all – eventually separated. Janito ran for his life down the road, in the direction of a zen garden on the west side of the park. Kazuya pursued. Kenji was perfectly happy beating Beef to death exactly where they started.
Once Blackberry got the upper hand on Daisuke, Daisuke chose to retreat, because he clearly wanted none of Blackberry’s Fruitsylvanian Scientific Strong Style.
Now, Blackberry could have gone to rescue Beef, but that was dumb, and you’re dumb for suggesting it. Why would that ever be a suggestion? Beef could obviously take care of himself.
“HELP ME!” shouted Beef, as Cowabunga Kenji continued to stomp him into the ground.
Look at how much help he didn’t need!
Anyway, while Beef was busy not needing any help, Blackberry pursued Daisuke to the east where they found themselves at the water fountain. The great water fountain was a large circular pool at the center of a pathway. The pool had one large fountain in its center surrounded by eight smaller fountains in a ring around it.
Part of why Coral hated open-air matches like these was that there was often a lot of wandering around instead of fighting. The matches lost much of the intimacy of grappling that he enjoyed doing. He usually called them “tours”, and the participants of the match were “tourists” and not “wrestlers”. Still, Inoue’s in charge, so he couldn’t really complain much about it.
Also, the fact that Daisuke ran towards the fountain was of grave concern to Coral.
It was too cold to be brawling in gods-damned water, and Daisuke was the kind of guy stupid enough to try it.
Sure enough, the first thing that Blackberry saw when he arrived in the fountain area was Daisuke making a beeline for the fountain.
Blackberry immediately stopped pursuing him.
“FOOL!” Blackberry said to the cameraman that’d been following them. “Do you think I intend to get my finest lab coat wet!?”
He simply turned and headed back the way he came, leaving Daisuke to run into the fountain on his lonesome.
When Blackberry returned to where the match began, he saw that Kenji had Beef caught up in an STF. Only, instead of a basic headlock, he had his necktie wrapped around Beef’s neck.
That’s probably a murder in the making.
So, out of the goodness of his heart, Blackberry kept Cowabunga Kenji from going to jail by kicking him right off of Beef before he could strangle him to death.
Really, you’ll thank him later, Kenji.
As a minor note, this also meant that Beef got to live longer.
Blackberry didn’t care.
Kenji didn’t appreciate Blackberry averting this caught-on-camera murder. So when he got back up after getting kicked off of Beef, he went after Blackberry.
Kenji made plenty of mistakes here, obviously.
Probably the biggest one he made was trying to swing wildly at someone like Blackberry, expecting it to work the same as it did against Beef. All it took was to step into the swing and catch him in the gut with a knee before he locked in an octopus hold.
Ryu, who’d been following Blackberry this whole time, asked Kenji if he wanted to give up.
Kenji displayed his burning Japanese puroresu spirit by not giving up. His fists were balled up and shaking. Blackberry found this rather annoying, so he wrenched on the hold even more, looping his arms around Kenji’s neck to really wrench it in.
So it wasn’t looking good for Kenji.
Who could save him?
“OMAE!” shouted someone not that far away, his voice a guttural baritone sure to relieve the bowels of all but the bravest of pro wrestlers. It was less an exclamation and more of a roar. Defiance. Not the wrestling fed, because that’s the one part of describing his voice that wasn’t in all capital letters. Just the stuff that came out of it.
No one knew who the voice belonged to until El Janito came running, screaming at the top of his lungs past the two of them.
They all knew, now, who was approaching.
Beef had the expression of a man who needed to spend thirteen full minutes in the nearest bathroom.
“Oh, shit!” Beef shouted, and he scrambled to get out of the way of the impending doom that approached them.
So, let’s talk a little bit more about Fukumaru Kazuya for a second here.
He was born in Yokohama. The youngest of seven children, he had to fight and scrape by just to receive attention from his parents, let alone from his peers. He fell into delinquency early on in his life, which was why he definitely carried that kind of attitude. By the time he got into high school, he was a bonafide badass “banchou”. A gang leader. He got into many fights over what he considered his turf, until the day came when he got into a fight he didn’t win.
That fight was against a professional wrestler.
All he remembered were the bald head and the tattoos, and the fact that he was American. Also, the suplexes.
With his defeat, he left his position as gang leader behind and dedicated himself to becoming a pro wrestler just to have his revenge. He trained rigorously, not only putting time into his wrestling work, but even getting into MMA. But no matter how much he trained or how many wrestlers he left needing to be carried out on a stretcher, Kazuya never saw that American again.
Of Bang! Pro Wrestling’s “four aces”, he was the most feared. The most terrifying. The one that the fans hated as much as they were awed by him. For Kazuya, it was just as good to be feared as it was to be respected.
So, it’s not like Kazuya punched Blackberry in the face to save Kenji, any more than Blackberry went and saved Beef. That was immaterial. Kazuya simply saw something that was annoying and felt a compulsion to punch it.
Since Blackberry’s hands were occupied, what with the octopus hold and all, he took that fist right to the ‘ol noggin. So it’s probably good that his mask had some material to it to soften the blow, because Kazuya probably would’ve killed him trying to punch him off of Kenji’s back.
But Coral didn’t remember a lot of what happened for most of the rest of the match. Then again, he was up against two of Bang! Pro’s aces, and his partners were Mega Job. So there was certainly a lot of screaming.
Most of it was Mega Job’s, of course.
All he knew was that the Fruits of THE DOOM didn’t escape from the park with their championships. They would become the property of the motley alliance of Kazuya and the Diamond Salary Connection for the next 55 days.
Well, that’s a story for a little bit later.
There’s one more thing you should probably know about this.
Kazuya had a great idea, you see, for waking Coral up from his groggy state. Together, he and the Connection carried him back to the fountain.
And then they threw him in.
“Merry Christmas, you bastard!”
He would come to regret this.
December 23rd, 2013
“Honestly, I still can’t believe they threw you into the fountain.” Annabelle said.
Coral sneezed, and felt miserable.
And it wasn’t just because he was sick. Rather, it was because he was sick at the worst possible time of the year to be sick, two days before Christmas. As you might imagine, that’s because of what Kazuya and his buddies did at the conclusion of that last match.
Coral was still running a fever, but it’d been worse the previous few days than it was today. He didn’t remember much of yesterday other than a lot of sleeping and a lot of Annabelle running back and forth between the room where he slept and the convenience store.
Beef and El Janito had flown home after that match, at least once those two durable morons cleared all of the medical protocols after the beatings they received from Kazuya, leaving Coral to convalesce in the home of his wife’s parents. How lucky for them.
“Kazuya thought it’d be funny,” Coral said.
“Well, clearly, it’s not.” Annabelle said. Coral always thought her face was cute when it pouted like that.
Annabelle was part-Japanese. Her grandmother on her mother’s side was, anyway. Everyone else was a mix of Canadians and Americans. It made her Japanese features very muted, with less emphasis on her cheekbones and larger eyes. Her hair was naturally blonde, though Coral could nearly count the number of times he’d actually seen her with blonde hair with his hands. Today, it was black with pink highlights. She was also considerably shorter than her husband, as he had a full head of height on her.
“That asshole’s lucky that he’s still in Nagoya.” Annabelle said, her arms crossed in a huff.
“Hey, don’t go picking a fight with him, Annie,” Coral said, laughing between a few coughs. “He’s the champ, what’s it say about us pro wrestlers if you put him in the hospital?”
As soft as she appeared, Annabelle herself knew a thing or two about delinquency.
Okay, for her, it was more about skipping class to hang out with her friends in Shibuya, and less about getting into turf wars. You still didn’t want to actually make her angry with you.
“Only because you say so,” Annabelle said, playfully punching at his shoulder.
Coral would, of course, argue with exactly how playful it was when he was still recovering from illness, “Ow.”
The two of them had flown into Japan a month ago, as they often did this time of year. Annabelle’s parents both lived and worked in Japan. Her father, Michael, worked to localize video games for English-speaking countries. Her mother, Haruka, was an English teacher. Her brother was in town, along with his wife and the triplets. The triplets were five, and were already a handful to deal with. Her aunt and uncle, Viola and Harry, had also flown into Japan from their home in Vancouver. Along with their kids.
So the entire Natsukawa household had way more people in it than it could reasonably fit, even if you included the room that Coral found himself sequestered in. It wasn’t even everyone in Annabelle’s family, just the ones who regularly visited for Christmas.
At least most of the family were out of the house going around to different places in Tokyo.
Annabelle chose to stay behind to take care of Coral, who was much more lucid today, but still needed his bedrest.
“You sure you didn’t want to go to your old haunting grounds in Shibuya?” Coral asked.
“What, am I a ghost?”
“Yeah, just one that I can hear coming because of the platform heels.”
Annabelle bopped Coral on the shoulder again.
“That one, you deserved.”
“Kinda did, yeah.”
Coral leaned back on his pillow and looked up at the ceiling.
“So, what was Shibuya like when you really did haunt it?” he asked.
Annabelle shrugged, “Just a lot of fiddling with old-timey cell phones, looking at skirts they’d yell at me for wearing, making out with girls, that kind of thing.”
“Uh, what was that last one?” Coral asked.
Annabelle let out a girlish giggle, the kind that made you forget that she was ten years too old to be laughing like a high school girl.
“Don’t worry about it.”
He didn’t. Mostly because his wife teased him like this plenty of times before.
“Do you miss it?” Coral asked.
“Well, Mikoto was a lot taller than I was, naturally, so it was an exercise for my neck and toes trying to… oh, you mean Shibuya itself?”
Coral winced, “Yes.”
Annabelle smiled devilishly at her husband’s discomfort.
“It was a simpler time. I didn’t have to worry about that much more than getting in trouble with the school or my parents over what I wore, what color my hair was, or who I was dating. Nowadays, I have to worry about securing gigs, keeping the finances sorted, and managing whatever dumb bullshit my husband gets himself into.”
Coral laughed, and then he coughed.
“You’re such a buzzkill.” Annabelle said.
“Well, that’s on my business card. Coral Avalon, professional wrestler, professional buzzkill.”
“Glad to see you’re not too sick to cut me with your rapier wit. Did you forget ‘amateur comedian’?”
“Hey, I wrestle with a fruit on my head sometimes, I’ve clearly graduated to ‘professional’. But I mean, if I start adding everything else I’m at a professional level with, then those business cards start to become a nightmare to print, and…”
Annabelle rolled her eyes, “Slow down the wit train, you doofus. You’ll hurt yourself.”
“Sorry,” he conceded, “How was the gig?”
Annabelle shrugged her shoulders, “Well, it was good to see Mikoto again, really. Don’t worry, less kissing than usual.”
“Than usual?” Coral repeated.
Annabelle’s laugh was the usual affair, “I’m kidding, you doofus. Anyway, it’s nice to do some mature music around here. Mikoto and I can still jam together. It’s like old times in the music club again.”
Of which, Annabelle was once the president.
Most of her musical instruments from band club were still in this house, in fact, as though Annabelle had never left it. The only instrument she lugged around everywhere was her guitar. When Coral looked for wrestling jobs, Annabelle would look for bands looking for a guest musician and help them out for a time. If she didn’t find anything, she’d spend her time writing music for when they got back to whatever home they had.
Annabelle’s head suddenly snapped up, and she sat up straight in her seat, “Oh, I almost forgot!”
She stood, and ran off out of the room, leaving Coral very confused in his bed. He thought about what he was going to do on the next Bang! Pro show. Once Inoue learned how sick he was, she rescheduled his next appearance for the big show on the 4th.
He thought about the change he wanted to make, and how necessary it was going to be.
When Annabelle returned, she brought back a cupcake. Just a single, sad cupcake, with two novelty candles on it. One of the candles said “3”, and the other said “0”.
“It isn’t much, I know. You were so sick that I didn’t have time to actually bake anything.” Annabelle said, “So I bought this from a store. Sorry.”
“Don’t worry. Gotta watch my weight, anyway.” Coral admitted, “Wow. Thirty, huh?”
“It’s a shame that your life is over, now.” Annabelle said with a grin. “You’re old now, and can’t hang out with any of the cool kids.”
“That’s a shame.” Coral said, “You’ll be there, soon, though.”
“Yup. I’m gonna be an old maid and have to trade my guitar for some knitting needles,” Annabelle said.
“That’d be a sight.”
Annabelle smiled vaguely at Coral. They’d been together for almost a decade at this point, and Coral recognized the vague smile as something she always had right before she was going to ask something devious. Before he could call her out on it, though, she asked the question.
“So, I didn’t marry someone who’s going to wilt away from what happened to you, did I?”
Coral laughed, and then he coughed.
When he recovered, he said, “Oh, I got something in mind for Kazuya.”
He looked back up at the ceiling.
“He won’t expect it.”
THE VENETIAN AND THE SQUADRON
January 4th, 2014
There were two shows in Bang! Pro Wrestling that were among the most important in the company.
The first was the anniversary show, which took place every August 8th. Usually, it was an exhibition show rather than a major event, though. And every year since 2017, the anniversary show would hold a special eight-man tag, which usually had all eight of the company’s champions competing. Which was to say that the holders of the Openweight, Hardweight, With Your Partner, With Your Friends, and All Day championships would compete against each other in an exhibition.
The August 8th show was also when the blocks for the yearly “Terminus Complex” round robin tournament would be announced, the winner of whom would go on to the other important show of the year to challenge for the Openweight title. Usually, when you talked about the tournament, you called it the TC-X.
The other one was tonight.
“The Clash of Aces”.
On January 4th of every year, Bang! Pro Wrestling would enter the Ota City General Gymnasium and hold its biggest show of the year. While the first few years had mediocre attendance, this was the year that Bang! Pro began to build up its steam and become a stalwart for the independent Japanese scene. Almost five thousand people were packed into the building, and while it would be years before they’d infiltrate even more vaunted buildings in the Tokyo area, they’d built up a reputation as a fun circus.
The 2014 Clash of Aces was a seminal moment in Bang! Pro’s history, however.
And it all began at the conclusion of the Bang! With Your Partner championship match.
The Diamond Salary Connection had just retained the belts, having taken down the challenge laid down by the Deep Sea Threat, the unusual team of Lord Kurosame-sama and Typhoon Timothy. As the Ace of Diamonds and his tag team partner celebrated their win, they were confronted by the last individual they expected to lay down a challenge – Franco Marchesi.
Speaking through a translator, Franco laid down his own challenge for the champions.
Yet, he never said anything about a partner.
He did, however, have friends.
Before “Diamond” Daisuke could even answer the challenge, he was waylaid from behind by a man in a hood wielding a steel chair. Kenji intervened, and just as he was about to wrestle the weapon away from the masked man, he was struck in the back by a second hooded man.
As Kenji hobbled forward from the impact, he was met in the face by Franco crushing him with a lariat.
The Japanese fans booed.
And then the jeers turned to surprise.
The hooded men unveiled themselves.
You might not know their names.
Not right away.
The names they have made in the American independent scene were only significant to anyone who paid attention to what happened to the Squared Circle after it faded from the national spotlight and retreated to Northern California.
Avis Flyfield was a very tall, lanky man. He stood six feet and three inches tall, yet he could fly just like his name implied. He looked a little like a flesh-colored Gumby that might have been stretched a little tall, and the frosted tips of his blonde hair were extra obnoxious. At least, what you could see of them over his aviator-themed bandana.
The other man was named Aaron Fetzer. At five foot and eight inches tall, but well over two hundred and fifty pounds, he was a wide-built fire hydrant of a man. His face was surrounded by a grizzled beard, but he also wore an aviator-themed bandana.
The Squadron had arrived in Bang! Pro Wrestling.
The moment they’d revealed themselves, they turned their attention to the Ace of Diamonds as he tried to get back to his feet. Fetzer met him and hoisted him up into a fireman’s carry, and then began an airplane spin. After several rotations, Fetzer tossed Daisuke into a facebuster.
Which got extra facebuster-y when Flyfield met him in the air with both knees.
And that was the first appearance of the Squadron’s “Tail Spin”.
Franco’s expression at seeing this was a confident smirk.
The three of them left with no further explanation.
It would come, soon enough.
THY KINGDOM COME
January 4th, 2014
Thirty minutes had passed, and there hadn’t yet been a winner.
Fukumaru Kazuya was down on one knee.
In front of him, his opponent was also down on one knee.
Kazano Haruki, the Ace of Clubs, was the first Openweight champion in Bang! Pro Wrestling’s history.
He was, in fact, the first man that the Doi siblings recruited to represent the company when it was formed. Tall, handsome, and still young, Haruki was the yang to Kazuya’s yin. His short hair and black drunks were a stark contrast to the wild hair and long white pants of his bitter rival. A valiant warrior from a humble country town in the Nara prefecture, he carried himself as though he were one of the fabled samurai of old.
While Haruki wasn’t traditionally Kazuya’s most bitter rival among Bang!’s four aces, he still saw himself as the Watanabe no Tsuna to Kazuya’s Ibaraki-dōji. The legend of Tsuna saw him confront the oni, Ibaraki-dōji, and in the ensuing confrontation, cut off the oni’s arm. Later, Ibaraki would find a way to retrieve his arm from Tsuna, and escape into the night. And with Haruki and Kazuya, it was much the same. One wrestler fashioned himself as a samurai. The other was a marauding demon, an oni, who ruled over Bang! Pro Wrestling as its Openweight champion.
Both men rose as one.
Warriors all, rise up.
Haruki threw a chop that resounded through the arena like a thunderclap. Haruki answered with a teeth-rattling elbow. They exchanged. They fought. Neither gave an inch.
Until Haruki caught Kazuya with a headbutt.
That rocked the champion, who went down to one knee.
Haruki seized the opportunity. He grabbed Kazuya’s arm, seizing him into a hammerlock, and spinning him around into a front facelock. Everyone knew what he was looking for.
The Higekiri DDT was the move that won Haruki the Openweight championship, defeating Kazuya in the finals of a one-night, eight-man tournament. In fact, it gained its name from its perceived effectiveness against Kazuya – the Ibaraki-dōji to Haruki’s Tsuna. The only palpable difference between Haruki’s Higekiri and Tsuna’s was that Kazuya didn’t lose his arm.
Kazuya, pushed to the brink of exhaustion, could only slump down to one knee.
Haruki wrenched hard with both holds he had on Kazuya, determined to get him up for the move’s full impact. But when Kazuya did stand, he immediately charged forward, driving Haruki into the turnbuckles. Haruki’s reaction was to scream defiance. He would not release his grip. He was going to kill this oni, once again.
He pushed Kazuya back out to the center of the ring, only for Kazuya to charge him into the corner again. This time, he battered the challenger in the ribs with his one free hand. The last punch was enough to break Haruki’s grip, and double him over.
Kazuya hit him with an elbow, rocking the other man, only for Haruki to answer with another chop. Only, this chop didn’t have the mustard behind it that the rest of them did. Kazuya’s body shots had taken their toll on him, stealing his breath away. Kauzya hit him with a second elbow, and then whipped him into the turnbuckles on the opposite side. Haruki reversed, and it was Kazuya who hit the turnbuckles.
And then he came roaring out of the corner with the Kanabo – a rolling elbow.
Haruki took it right on the chin. He didn’t go down, but his entire body was turned around by the blow, and exposed his back to Kazuya.
And that was all it took.
Kazuya grabbed the half-nelson with one arm, and a waistlock with another. He lifted Kazuya up, and then drove him through his legs with a piledriver-like move.
The Dragon Driver had connected.
And it was academic from there.
Fukumaru Kazuya was still the Openweight champion.
Trainees of the Bang! Pro dojo flooded the ring to tend to the two men. Some of them would become familiar faces in the future, such as Ichikawa Gorou and his brother Bando. Eventually, Kazuya got his feet, shrugging off the trainees that were still trying to tend to him. He stood over Kazama, his championship belt dangling in his left hand to the point that the strap was brushing against the canvas. Yet he did nothing. He waited.
When Kazama finally recovered enough to get to one knee, Kazuya helped him up the rest of the way. Kazama held the back of his neck with one hand, and watched as Kazuya held out his hand.
A measure of respect for a worthy opponent.
Kazama took it, looking his opponent in the face the entire time.
“Next time,” he told him.
“I’ll be waiting,” was Kazuya’s response.
With that, Kazama slipped under the bottom ropes and left. He may have lost, but he’d leave with his head held high.
All in all, a successful main event to end the show.
Until the three men appeared on the apron.
They’d slipped in without anyone noticing, when everyone was too busy watching Kazuya celebrating his victory.
Avis Flyfield and Aaron Fetzer flanked Franco Marchesi, who leaned casually against the ropes. Flyfield already had one leg through the ropes, but was content to stand next to Franco and not make any further moves. Fetzer had the biggest shit-eating grin on his face, as though he knew something that no one else did.
Kazuya glared at the three of them.
He wondered what they were doing here, just as everyone else in the building wondered the same thing.
For several tense moments, neither side made a move. Then Kazuya dropped the Openweight title to the ground.
He invited them all into the ring. He’d fight all of them. He’d fight their mothers, too. Fuck it. Punches for everybody. He had his hands raised in a fighting position.
And then he heard the change in the crowd’s reaction. Wrestlers weren’t that stupid. Usually. They all had ears. Well, there was that one deaf wrestler – his name was Bradley Duncan – but he was an exception.
Kazuya knew that something had changed, and it had nothing to do with any of the three men directly in front of him.
So he turned.
A man in a Baron von Blackberry mask had slipped into the ring. Only, he wasn’t wearing the usual Blackberry regalia of a lab coat with no shirt underneath it. He was wearing a leather jacket and a T-shirt underneath it. Kazuya seemed almost bewildered by the sight of him.
He continued to be bewildered, except now he was staring at the lights with glassy eyes.
A yakuza kick from this masked stranger hit him square in the jaw.
That one move turned the Openweight champion into a figurative corpse. Not a literal one, because then we’d have a big murder on our hands, and the course of history would be very different. The man in the Blackberry mask recovered perfectly from the kick.
Boos rained down on the men in the ring, as the other three men entered the ring, chasing out any of the young trainees who dared enter the ring to help Kazuya out. Franco immediately picked up the Openweight championship belt, and tossed it out of the ring like yesterday’s garbage.
The man in the mask put his back to the corner, and the Squadron picked Kazuya’s body by each of his arms, holding him in place. He could barely stand up. Odds were good that his body was on auto-pilot. When the masked man charged, the second yakuza kick hit him square in the jaw. Kazuya fell into a skid, landing near the ropes.
There was a stunned silence in the crowd.
The masked man threw off his coat.
His left arm had visible scarring on it, perhaps the most recognizable part of his body that wasn’t his face. Scars that wouldn’t ever heal from a bloody war with Lowell Dot Com and Jimmy Cain almost eight years ago. He waved for Fetzer and Flyfield to pick Kazuya back up. This time, they propped his body up in the corner. Were it not for the ropes, he’d have slumped down to the ground.
The masked man put his back to the corner again.
This time, Kazuya’s body had nowhere to go to take the third yakuza kick. The masked man kept him aloft and pinned in the corner, not letting him collapse to the mat yet. Fetzer and Flyfield came over to grab his arms, keeping him up and letting the masked man create distance.
It was only then that help arrived for Kazuya.
Cowabunga Kenji came running to the ring. He was met by Franco, who hit him with a European Uppercut hard enough to eject him from the ring as quickly as he entered it. Diamond Daisuke, who’d earlier taken the Squadron’s “Tail Spin”, was unable to reach the ring in time to stop the masked man from blasting Kazuya with a fourth yakuza kick. This time, Kazuya fell to the mat. A trickle of blood stained the canvas where he fell.
When he hit the ring, he was immediately jumped by Franco, who was joined by the Squadron in a beating of the other half of the Diamond Salary Connection.
It was only then that the masked man pulled his mask off.
Okay, so it took him some time.
I mean, that mask was known to be difficult to take off once it was on, just ask Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips about nine years into the future.
There were gasps in shock when the crowd finally realized who the man in the mask was.
It was Coral Avalon, of course.
I mean, whose story do you think you’re reading?
Anyway, Fetzer rolled outside and grabbed a chair. He slid it in for Flyfield to collect, and Flyfield brought it down onto Cowbunga Kenji’s head the moment he recovered from his European uppercut-related ejection. Kenji fell to his knees, and then collapsed to the canvas shortly thereafter.
Daisuke attempted to crawl over the top of Kazuya to protect him. All this earned him was Franco muscling him back up to his feet, and throwing him back out of the ring.
With the Diamond Salary Connection neutralized, Avalon called for Kazuya to be pulled back up to the corner again. The fans were clamoring for someone, anyone, to save the day. Even a vicious monster like Kazuya didn’t deserve something this excessive, they thought.
Franco stepped through the ropes and held Kazuya in place, along with Fetzer.
Flyfield held the steel chair in front of Kazuya’s face.
And Avalon put his back to the opposite corner.
A TYPICAL CLANDESTINE MEETING AT THE LOCAL JAPANESE DENNY’S OVER TREACHERY
January 3rd, 2014
Let’s go back.
There were over 500 locations in Japan that had a Denny’s. A few of them were in Tokyo. And one in particular would be the source of all of what would transpire in a day’s time at the Clash of Aces.
Four people had gathered at one of the corner tables of the fine Denny’s establishments in Japan. And that’s the end of that statement, we’re not building an Extended Denny’s Universe. I see those owls. Leave me alone.
The four men that would soon be known as the first members of the Crownless Kingdom: Coral, Franco, Avis, and Aaron.
They had gathered to discuss a nefarious pro wrestling plot.
“You know, your evil plot seems to just revolve around kicking little Kazu in the face a lot,” Flyfield observed.
“Yup!” Coral said. He smiled. They laughed.
Gone was the illness that had cost him more than a week, his birthday, and his Christmas. All that was left was just enough resentment to want to get back at the men who orchestrated that turn of events, and so he sought out the three other men at the table.
“Also, who said this plot was evil?” Coral asked.
“Uh, I did. Just now.” Fetzer said.
Flyfield shook his head. Without the aviator-themed bandana, his forehead looked very prominent and could probably blind a person if he caught the light in the right way, “It’s called paying evil unto evil, Fetz. Avy nearly lost his whole holiday because of that man.”
“Yeah, but what is evil, anyway?” Fetzer asked, “Is that something you can really quantify in a pro wrestling context? I mean, at the end of the day, we just kick people in the head and that’s how we get our checks signed. Think about it. We get paid to do this. Every day, we engage in combat with our fellow gladiators for the amusement of thousands. Is it what we do that’s evil, or is it the nihilistic monsters that love to see us shed our blood each and every night that’s the true evil?”
There was a long pause.
“Fetz, I think you’re thinking too much about this,” Flyfield said. “Avy’s just looking to settle a score.”
“But who’s really keeping score, when you think about it? I mean, who’s managing the score sheet? Who scores the scoremen?”
“You did not just say that,” Flyfield said.
“I did! I did say that. I used my word-mouths and everything.” Fetzer said.
Franco cast a glance at the two of them, and raised his eyebrow to Coral.
Coral rolled his eyes.
“I swear, they’re better than you think,” he whispered to the Venetian.
“If you say so,” Franco whispered back in his accented English.
Franco was a man of few words, which was ironic for a man who spoke at least four languages. He was a man of action who preferred to speak with his actions, his expressions, and his forearm uppercuts from a European origin rather than his words. He was a machine built to wrestle.
Just like Coral was.
That’s why they got along so well.
“You two know why I asked you, and not Connor and Simon, right?” Coral asked.
“Not really,” Avis admitted.
“It’s probably got to do with egos, am I right? I mean, those two are always talking about how great they are and how great Boston is, and they’re all like, ‘yeah, man, we’re the best’. And they, like, rub it all in your face like mud or cake or a mud cake or something. I mean, I don’t like them that much, that’s what I’m getting at, but I mean… we’re all about hustle and loyalty and respect up in the Squadron. You’re the captain of this force, so we go where the mission is, and we take down all enemy hostiles, yeah?” Fetzer asked.
There was a long pause.
“Fetz,” Coral said, smiling at him, “Shut up a sec.”
Everyone laughed, including Fetzer himself.
He did shut up, though.
“I’m going to become the enemy of every wrestler in Bang! Pro Wrestling by attacking the Openweight champion like this. Even if it is Kazuya we’re attacking. I’m going to be the bad guy here, even if I think and know otherwise. They’re all going to want my head. Every fan, every wrestler, and… well, Inoue always wants my head, so I guess I’m giving her more of an excuse now. If I’m being honest, I need backup. I need backup that I can rely on to be here. And Connor and Simon aren’t going to be here on every show. They’ve got their own business back in the States.”
There was silence at the table. They all knew what Coral was getting at. If he went through with this, regardless of how justified Coral was in taking revenge on Kazuya, then Coral was going to be public enemy #1 in Bang! Pro Wrestling. Yet, he was fine with this. He’d do it alone if he had to.
“You guys, though… me included. We’ve all got something to prove,” Coral said.
“Which is?” Franco asked.
“That we’re not all also-rans. That we’re all champion-caliber wrestlers, even if we don’t have the stats or the championships to show for it. Avis, how long did you spend in the doldrums of all those promotions we shared, hoping to even make it to television? Fetz, how did it feel knowing that the only reason anyone paired you with Avis was because they thought it’d be funny to have a stocky guy like you team up with a high-flying maven like him? Franco, did the fWo even call you back after Joey Malone destroyed his knee trying to make a comeback? How long did PRIME go without ever giving me another look?”
There was silence between the other three men, who all shared looks with one another.
All of them knew the answers to his questions.
And until it closed.
“Think of it this way. None of us are venerated, first ballot Hall of Famers. We’ve rarely been given our due. I admit I had my shot at the spotlight, but the ground underneath me gave out before I could seize my chance. You guys haven’t even had the chance, and you deserve more than you’ve gotten. Hell, we’re all more than ready.” Coral said.
Flyfield pumped his fist.
And Franco silently nodded.
“People who think they’re above us are going to throw us into fountains, or beat the crap out of us, or treat us as their lesser. Losers, unwanted, and all. They can think whatever they want, but they shouldn’t think that they’ll get away with it. None of them should. You follow me through this, and I guarantee you… people won’t look at us as also-rans. They’ll look upon us as kings.”
Coral’s eyes glimmered, “Because we’re all kings without our crowns.”
It didn’t take long for the other three to come to a consensus.
“I’m in.” Franco said, without any further elaboration. It was likely that Franco was in well before this conversation even took place. He respected Avalon. Few others could escape the burning hells of Joey Malone’s idea of professional wrestling training and still want to wrestle after that.
“Hell yeah, I’m in,” Fetzer said. He held up a hand for Flyfield to high-five him, not even looking his way.
Flyfield high-fived him, “Me too.”
Coral picked up his glass of water, and held it up in a toast.
“Then let’s take our kingdom, boys.”
RHONGOMYNIAD, THE STRIKING SPEAR
February 14th, 2014
Within six weeks of that incident at the Clash of Aces, Coral Avalon and the so-called “Crownless Kingdom” had taken Bang! Pro Wrestling by storm.
On the 5th of February, Avalon teamed with Franco Marchesi to battle the Diamond Salary Connection for the Bang! With Your Partner tag team championships. The back-and-forth affair was viciously fought by the Kingdom, who mercilessly attacked Daisuke’s knee throughout the match. Finally, a chop block rendered Daisuke unable to continue. Without Daisuke, Kenji succumbed to Avalon’s still-unnamed yakuza kick and Marchesi’s “Golden Wind” piledriver.
And so, after a brilliant 397 day campaign as the Bang! With Your Partner champions, it ended just like that. There were new champions.
It was much the same nine days later.
Fukumaru Kazuya was still nursing his injuries after Avalon had kicked him in the face five straight times at the Clash of Aces, and while he hadn’t defended his Openweight championship since then, Avalon still had a point to prove. He challenged the Bang! With Your Friends trios champions, teaming with Fetzer and Flyfield.
And unfortunately for Kazuya, his “friends” in this scenario were the Diamond Salary Connection, who were completely banged up after what Avalon and Marchesi had done to them only days ago.
It might as well have been a slaughter.
In fact, as Avalon would soon discover, he was maybe entirely too effective in what he and the Kingdom had done to Kazuya and gang.
But that’s definitely a story for another time.
The point was, the Connection couldn’t muster up the strength to deal with a fresh Squadron who had only just debuted, and Kazuya hadn’t fully recovered from what happened. In the end, Avalon put down the Ace of Hearts with yet another yakuza kick, and he had secured a major victory over the Openweight champion while claiming a second championship for himself in the process.
Just not the top prize.
Walking backstage, Avalon and the Squadron met with Franco. Every one of them had a championship belt. Avalon had two, slung over his shoulders in a cross shape. He smiled for the camera, and for the many microphones that were pointed in his direction.
“I told everyone that our kingdom would come,” he said to the reporters, making a point to speak in English even though everyone knew he was fluent in Japanese, “When Bang! Pro Wrestling first opened its doors, the Codemaster and I became the first Partners champions. But I knew. Oh, I knew. No one saw me on the level of your beloved Aces. Your Hazuki-san, the noble samurai from the country. Your Izuo-san, the hot movie star from Hokkaido. Your Daisuke-san, that volcanic delinquent from Ginza. Your Kazuya-san… your Openweight champion. You all saw me as a faker. A pretender to your vaunted thrones. I get it.”
“It was only a matter of time before Daisuke and Kenji took these belts from us. They saw Antoine and myself as just convenient belt-warmers until they could take them from us. And I’m sure they had a laugh when they threw me in that fountain back in Nagoya, after they took the other titles from me and my other friends.” Coral said.
He smiled cheekily.
The smile of a man who was satisfied with the level of his revenge.
The smile of a man who was, for the time being, done with being a berry.
“Well, boys, thanks for keeping all of these belts warm for the four of us. You did your job. It’ll all help warm our kotatsu.”
The four of them shared a laugh.
Well, three of them did.
Franco chose not to laugh.
With Avalon’s speech done, a reporter asked the first question that came to mind.
“For weeks, you’ve been using a, uh…” the reporter hesitated to use the common name for the move Coral used, “…Kenka kick to finish your opponents. Have you chosen a name for it, yet?” the reporter asked in Japanese.
Coral kept up his smile.
“…What?” the reporter asked.
“The spear of King Arthur,” Coral elaborated, “The spear of a legendary king. Rhongomyniad.”
Coral, admittedly, only knew vague details about Arthurian mythology because of the etymology of his family name. The island of Avalon was where the body of King Arthur was laid to rest when he was killed by Mordred at the Battle of Camlann. Coral’s ancestors rechristened themselves as “Avalon” when they came to America in the late 18th century, as the island was described as a paradise.
Arthur was best known for his Excalibur, but he was associated with other weapons as well.
Rhongomyniad, the striking spear, was one of them.
It was also probably a nightmare for Japanese folks to say.
Coral continued, “A spear comparable to the legendary Excalibur, itself. Powerful enough to bring down a hundred demons. And if that’s the case, then what is one demon to this spear of mine? What is Kazuya? He’s just shish kebab, am I right?”
Coral’s smile dropped a little, “Don’t answer that. You know I’m right.”
His tone became more serious.
“Let me make it clear, once again. If there are four Aces in Bang! Pro Wrestling, then there are now four Kings,” Coral said, “We are the Crownless Kingdom.”
He paused. He looked to Franco, then to Fetzer and Flyfield. His fellow kings.
He nodded, and turned back to the reporters.
“And we don’t need your crowns to be kings.”