Great American Nightmare

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Jul
05

WELCOME TO THE NIGHTMARE

It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth’s dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be let alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests.

Carpenter Brut.

“Imaginary Fire”

The hard hitting tones guide us as we scream across a barren landscape. The surrounding world is desolate, dull, dusty, and hot. A city in the distance rushes in quickly; a tall, pointed tower in the forefront. We fly across what was once a long, enormous and rectangular pool, now dirt-covered and housing a wide-scale brawl of hundreds of combatants, all clad in repurposed metals, leathers, and junk. We fly overhead to a large construct, looking like an immense shoebox with twelve pillars in front. Inside is a massive statue of a seated, gangly man with a chinstrap beard, though most of the statue is crumbled and broken. 

Embedded within the statue, a throne built from skulls.

Sitting upon that throne: Brandon Youngblood. Armored in leather and bone, hand gripping the handle of a massive broadaxe, blade sitting on the ground and the handle serving as a prop for the Tower of Babel. He overlooks his arena and the chaos within.

“When you’re on your own, you default to guilty.
It’s fine, you’re wasting your own time.”

The God-Beast, Mushigihara, bear-hugs an opponent, crushing him in his arms. David Fox releases a bolt from a jerry-rigged crossbow nearby. Much to their surprise, two blue, swirling portals open overhead, the duo of Randall Schwartz and Kenny Freeman dropping to the battlefield, looking to each other confused as to their current situation.

“But don’t drag me in just to push me away.
We can make this simple! But it’s really up to you!”

Darin Zion removes a rusted gladiatorial helmet, taking a short reprieve to catch his breath, but is forced to lift his shield to a leaping FLAMBERGE, bringing his sword down against the bulwark. 

“It takes resolve to see,
THAT YOU REALLY DON’T GET NOTHING FOR FREE!”

The Multitudes that are Anna Daniels, clad in her crowd and worn robe, punts the head of a poor soul to the dirt. The body lands in a dusty heap at the feet of Mortimer Kjedelig, who draws his gaze up to the Time Lord. The camera pans around to the back of Mortimer’s head as he peels his mask from his face, but revealing nothing for us to see.

“Oh it takes a lot to love,
the way that you feel when you’re all alone.”

After power-bombing an opponent to literal dust, Sid Phillips is startled as a bazooka shell rockets past him, exploding in the background. Joe Fontaine, standing nearby looks up to see the source, then dives behind Sid, screaming in terror. The camera pans quickly to reveal El Hijo Del Super Cool Guy, clad in spiked pauldrons and a smoking bazooka over his shoulder.

“But we create the stars above,
when we go…”

Hayes Hanlon cuts a wide swath with a gleaming greatsword, taking a moment to bellow in victory to the spectators of this apocalyptic battle-royale. A small device slides between his legs from behind, a red light blinking quickly. He turns to see the grinning face of Rezin, black fingers wrapped around a remote, and his thumb on the button.

“And I really want us both try,
to leave the imaginary fire behind!”

The stabbings of Ria Nightshade are prolific, anyone within range subject to her whirlwind. Her blades graze the chest of The Anglo Luchador, arching back to avoid the cuts. In his left hand he holds a Corona, and in his right a Pacifico. He smashes each bottle against the heads of nearby opponents before advancing on the Toxic Queen.

“OH BEHIND!”

Bobby Dean lounges above the arena’s edge, being fed grapes from a handful of concubines. He throws up the horns for Trent Sadikaj and Barry Delgado, who thrash guitars made from literal battle axes to provide the fray with the necessary grooves. The form of Doozer materializes from the air behind Bobby, and smacks him across the head. He points to Solid Gold Rock n’ Roll and urges him to take action.

“If you want to resume your position with me,
I won’t. I’m in another place.”

A dilapidated and clearly homemade contraption flashes onto the field, “Time Machine” written in spray paint across its flank. A hatch on the side cracks open, billowing with smoke, followed by the red eyes of Garbage Bag Johnny and Nova. They survey their surroundings, and after a shrug, hop back in their Time Machine and flash away.

“And you’ll tell yourself that I’m pulling away.
We can make this simple! But it’s really up to you!”

Tattered trench coat whipping about, Dusk throws fans of daggers into the crowd around him. As he goes to throw another from his fingers, a stringy, milky strand shoots from his flank, snatching the dagger from his hand. It propels back to the white strand’s owner, Phil Atken, wielding a glue gun of sorts. The aged warriors share a glare before rushing each other.

“I know it’s hard to feel,
BUT YOU REALLY DON’T GET NOTHING FOR FREE!”

GREAT SCOTT charges across the battlefield astride GREAT BEAR, roaring out into the maelstrom with his sweet Beats by Dre headphones. The monster that is Balaam, Mask of Malice bursts through the combatants, Duke and Hoyt Williams behind him and wrenching back on his chains. He sends multiple opponents flying into the air before slamming into GREAT BEAR, wrapping him into a big bear hug. Nate Colton, having ducked the charge of Balaam, spots GREAT SCOTT rising from the floor after falling from GREAT BEAR’s back. Colton takes a fistful of chain, whipping it overhead before moving toward The World’s Greatest SCOTT.

“Oh it takes a lot to love,
the way that you feel when you’re all alone.”

The T-Shades that could only belong to the COOLympian drop down the bridge of his nose, his gaze looking across the battlefield to the calm form of Julian Bathory. The Carpathian Devil slowly lifts his palms, the tentacles of black shadow beasts emerging from the dirt.

“But we create the stars above,
when we gooo…”

Back to back, Jonathan Rhine and Paxton Ray fend off the hordes, Paxton clobbering and crushing limbs with spiked knuckles around his fists, and Rhine thrusting and swinging a jagged spear, teeth grinding and eyes burning behind a makeshift eyepatch. He turns to find Jared Sykes, burninating his enemies with a janky flamethrower. Sykes lifts his re-purposed welding mask to lock eyes with Rhine for a moment, before flipping his head forward to shut the visor.

“And I really want us both try,
to leave the imaginary fire behind!”

Emerging from the fray, Impulse drags his sword along the ground, walking toward the end of the field and looking up toward the broken statue. The Last Diamond rises from his Skull Throne, lifting his axe from the floor and taking hold in both hands. Youngblood glares down at The Marathon Man before we zoom out away from the frenzy.

“OH BEHIND!”

Welcome to the Nightmare….

MASTERS OF THE MULTIVERSE B-TEAM VS. DANGEROUS MIX

We fade out from the GAN hype video to a rowdy MGM Grand Garden Arena. The PRIMEates are yelling and vying for camera time as we do a sweep around the venue to pick up some of the more creative signs of the night…

MANNEQUIN CANADIAN DESTROYER COUNT: 6

STILL WAITING FOR MY MOUSTACHE RIDE, HAYES

PLZ STAB ME, RIA

MAIN EVENT HORIZON

GREAT SCOTT, HELP ME WITH MY ALGEBRA HOMEWORK

BUY THE COWARD YOU SHIRTS

I CAME TO SEE CHET FLEETWOOD

WHERE CAN I ORDER A KENDO STICK?

THE PHIL ATKENS DIET WORKED FOR ME

GREAT AMERICAN NIGHTCOURT

GREAT AMERICAN NIGHTSHADE

GREAT AMERICAN NATEMARE

DICK DIRTWOOD HAS A FUNNY NAME

LET CALLY SAY “HECK”

BRO FLAMBO BE STRAIGHT BUSSIN NO CAP FR FR

WHAT COLOR RIBBON DO WE WEAR FOR CANCER JILES AWARENESS?

SO ABOUT THAT KENDO STICK…

ACTIVATE PRIME GLOWUP

Nick Stuart: Welcome, everyone, to Great American Nightmare, PRIME’s second supershow of the ReVival era! I’m Nick Stuart and joining me as always is Richard Parker! We have an incredible show for you tonight, and that all starts with tag team action right now!

“Let Me Entertain You” plays over the sound system to a fairly mixed reaction as Randall Schwartz and Kenny Freeman make their way to the ring. 

Richard Parker: PRIME has a lot of talent, Nick, but I think our tag team division is what really sets us apart – so many great tag teams…and then there’s these guys.

Nick Stuart: The Masters of the Multiverse…B-Team has not had a lot of success since coming to PRIME for the Survivor Tournament, but don’t underestimate them.

Richard Parker: Why can’t I? I don’t have to fight them. I’ll underestimate them all I want.

Vince Howard: The following contest, scheduled for one fall, has a twenty minute time limit. Making their way to the ring, at a combined weight of 336 pounds…THE MASTERS OF THE MULTIVERSE…B-TEAM!

Freeman and Schwartz enter the ring and fist bump, then wait in the far corner for their opponents.

Backstage…

A respectable pop for one of PRIME’s newest acquisitions, as Mushigihara lumbers down the path with a face for war. The camera manages to pick up his low growls as he passes, before leaving us with David Fox and his wife Saori Kazama, casually strolling well behind the God-Beast.

David Fox: Well, this is it. The BIG pay-per-view debut and all that comes with it. Whew I’m pumped!

She reaches for a shoulder and casually rubs it in support.

Saori Kazama: You’re going to be great, babe. Just remember, don’t forget to breathe, no kicks above the waist until they’re clearly dazed, and trust your body if you think you need to tag.

Fox chuckles as Saori gently runs a finger down his chest.

David Fox: I mean, thanks, babe, but where’d you get THAT strategy from?

She smiles.

Saori Kazama: You told me to say it to you in case you forgot.

An awkward pause as David looks into her eyes with a look of “oh, yeeeeeeah,” which suddenly turns to surprise as the opening guitar chords of the Dangerous Mix’s theme music starts blaring through the building.

David Fox: Oops! Match time!

He gives her a cute peck on the lips before sprinting off.

David Fox: Wish me luck, babe!

The camera follows Fox as he double-times it to the arena entrance, where an impatient Mushigihara awaits.

Mushigihara: OSU.

David Fox: I know, big man, sorry. Let’s go out there and show those two who the real masters are, huh?

We cut back to the arena as the dimmed lights emphasize the array of lasers and spotlights dancing about as the nonsensical words (seriously, just TRY to make sense of the lyrics) of Hideyuki Takahashi’s “Run Rabbit Junk” continue to echo.

As the climactic chorus and slick licks kick in, a single bold spotlight comes down on the ramp, revealing the Dangerous Mix, arms raised, oozing intensity!

Vince Howard: AND THEIR OPPONENTS! At a total combined weight of four-hundred eighty-seven pounds… DAVID FOX! MUSHIGIHARA! They are, THE DANGEROUS! MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIX!!!

The Mix parades to the ring with confidence and gusto, tagging hands along the way.

Nick Stuart: The Dangerous Mix originally signed on to participate in the PRIME Tag Team Survivor Challenge, but after they were eliminated they signed a long-term contract to be a part of the burgeoning tag team division, and they show promise!

Richard Parker: They do, and they clearly know their way around the ring, but this is the big stage, and they better bring it if they’re going to be a mainstay around here!

Fox is the first to get onto the ring, hopping onto the apron and climbing up the turnbuckle from the outside, stopping to look down on the Masters of the Multiverse B-Team like an intimidating owl, before dropping down to the mat.

Mushigihara follows suit by Fox’s side, climbing onto the apron and stepping between the ropes, glaring with rage at the Masters, before bellowing out a thunderous…

Mushigihara: OSU!!!

The music fades as the Mix take their corner, not letting eyes off their opponents for one second. Freeman and Schwartz discuss briefly before Freeman points at the apron. After a second, Schwartz obliges and steps out.

DING DING!

Nick Stuart: Looks like Kenny Freeman wants to start this match off against the man nicknamed The God-Beast, Richard.

Richard Parker: Makes sense, Nick. I always like to fight people 140 pounds heavier than me. 

Kenny Freeman goes into a collar and elbow tie-up with Mushigihara, and surprising no one the big man gets the advantage. He shoves Kenny back, who rolls to his feet and nods, pointing to his biceps.

Nick Stuart: Kenny Freeman acknowledging the strength of Mushigihara.

Richard Parker: Hard not to.

Freeman then looks to his tag team partner and tags him in. 

Nick Stuart: I guess he’s tired?

Schwartz steps forward for a tie-up and gets sent back just the same as Kenny did. Without posturing, he goes in for another tie-up, but feints and goes behind Mushi, hitting him with an elbow to the back. He follows that up with several strikes before going for a German suplex. Mushi braces himself, then hits an elbow to Schwartz’s face.

Nick Stuart: Stiff shot by the God-Beast!

Mushi bounces off the ropes as Randall staggers and drives his shoulder into the smaller man, knocking him down. He looks down at him for a second, then bounces off the ropes and hits the fallen Schwartz with a huge splash. 

ONE!

TWO!

Nick Stuart: Kickout by Randall Schwartz, but he’s a little woozy from this early onslaught by Mushigihara. 

Richard Parker: Maybe he should’ve picked the Multiverse where he actually has muscles.

Schwartz tries to get to his feet but Mushi grabs him and drags him to the Dangerous Mix corner, where David Fox is waiting. He tags in and climbs to the top rope, then jumps down with an axe handle on Randall Schwartz’s shoulder. Schwartz stumbles away, and Fox uses the opportunity to grab his head from behind and take him down in a bulldog.

Nick Stuart: Another cover from Dangerous Mix!

ONE!

T–

And Schwartz kicks out again, instinctively reaching over for his corner. Fox grabs his head and pulls him to the far corner, where he lays into him with kicks and punches.

Nick Stuart: This rivalry seemed to have started over coffee, but David Fox is treating it as professionally as expected from the veteran.

Richard Parker: Got to love grudge matches over a caramel macchiato.

Fox grabs Schwartz in a Muay Thai clinch and begins to attack Schwartz with knee strikes. Schwartz stumbles away, trying to get to Freeman, but Fox grabs him and hits him with a reverse neckbreaker. He then tags Mushigihara back in. 

“OOOOOSUUUUUUUUU!”

Nick Stuart: The fans seem to love the big man out of Japan, don’t they?

Richard Parker: Or they love the predictability of a wrestler who only says one word. It’s why so many kids love Groot. 

Mushigihara goes over to Schwartz, who moves quickly and grabs Mushigihara’s legs.

Nick Stuart: The Schwartz special! The most devastating move in wrestling, also known as the rollup!

Richard Parker: How does this guy have a job?

ONE!

Mushi kicks out quickly, but it gives Randall a chance to tag in Kenny Freeman, who bounds over the ropes and rushes the God-Beast.

Richard Parker: Awesome, we might actually get some wrestling now. 

Freeman leaps at Mushi, who catches him and holds him over his head. Then, he begins to do barbell presses, much to the crowd’s delight. Each time he lifts, though, he doesn’t count. Instead, he…

“OSU!”

“OSU!” 

“OSU!” 

Finally, he slams Freeman on the ground to a big cheer. Mushi acknowledges the crowd, waving. Freeman slowly gets to his feet in the meantime.

Richard Parker: Big man should’ve gone for the pin there, he might pay for it.

He does, as Freeman knocks back Mushi into his corner, inadvertently tagging in Fox. Fox comes in to lay Freeman out with a clothesline, but he ducks and hits Fox with a big dropkick. Fox gets to his feet only to be taken down with a snap suplex, which Kenny quickly turns into a lateral press cover.

ONE!

TWO!

Nick Stuart: David Fox kicks out, but it looks like the Masters of the Multiverse B Team are taking control of the match!

Richard Parker: You need to give them a shorter name, that’s a real mouthful.

Nick Stuart: What do you suggest?

Richard Parker: B-Team works. Or just jackasses.

Kenny lifts Fox up and slaps a chinlock on Fox, wrenching at his neck. Fox struggles for a few moments, reaching for Freeman before trying to get to his feet. At first Freeman holds him down, but eventually Fox gets to one foot, then the other, and then gets his arm behind Freeman’s back. He lifts him up for a suplex, but Freeman lands on his feet and immediately hooks Fox up with a German suplex. But…

Nick Stuart: Wow! Now it’s Fox who lands on his feet! Both men showing great agility and athleticism! Now here comes Fox with his own German suplex! High bridge, Jimmy Turnbull is in position!

ONE!

TWO!

T…

Nick Stuart: Freeman with the kickout! And our opening contest tonight is a back and forth affair!

Richard Parker: Both teams are showing more resiliency than I thought.

Fox picks Freeman up, who swipes his arms down and hits him with a right fist! Fox fires back, and the men trade punches before Fox has Freeman up against the ropes. He throws Freeman against the ropes, then drops as Freeman comes back. Freeman jumps over, then goes for a clothesline but Fox ducks. Fox then runs in the other direction, they both meet in the middle…

Nick Stuart: Double clothesline, and both men are down!

Richard Parker: Both men need to make a tag. The only problem for the B-Team is that one partner has Mushigihara to tag in, and other has…Randall.

Both men slowly try to crawl to their corners as the crowd gets behind David Fox. Fox and Freeman both leap to tag their partners at the same time. Mushi steps inside the apron as Randall Schwartz…steps off of it and runs around the ring.

Nick Stuart: Schwartz isn’t ready to go toe-to-toe with the God-Beast!

Mushi slides under the ring ropes as Schwartz goes to a corner of the ring and bends down. While he does, Kenny Freeman starts to talk to Jimmy Turnbull about grapes, or aerospace engineering, or something. Mushi catches up to Randall, who turns around and throws something in his face.

Nick Stuart: What was that?

Richard Parker: I think it was a chai latte! Chai in the eyes! Chai in the eyes!

Nick Stuart: And Mushigihara is INCENSED! 

Richard Parker: Not with fire, though, because the coffee wasn’t hot. Why do these guys only throw iced coffee? 

Since it is not scalding hot, Mushi is merely furious, as he wipes his eyes and stares daggers at Randall Schwartz. And as Kenny and Jimmy Turnbull end their conversation, Randall decides the best course of action…

Is to run.

Nick Stuart: There he goes! He’s running around the ring and up the ramp, and Mushigihara is right behind him!

Richard Parker: I hope he catches him.

David Fox and Kenny Freeman notice their partners running up the ramp and hop down to run after them. Jimmy Turnbull screams after them for a few moments before shaking his head and calling for the bell.

DING DING DING!

Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, as a result of a double countout, this match is a NO CONTEST!

Boos ring out as the four competitors disappear behind the ring curtain.

Nick Stuart: Well both teams were competitive at certain points of this match, but the feud that started over coffee has now been furthered by chai.

Richard Parker: Best fed in the world, folks.

Nick Stuart: Let’s send it over to our colleague Angelica Brooks, who is standing by with a very special interview.

HOPE FOR THE BEST, EXPECT THE WORST

Nick Stuart: What a hot opening contest between the B-Team and the Dangerous Mix! Great American Nightmare is already off to a rousing start for the thousands here at the Grand Garden Arena and the hundreds of thousands more watching on ACE Network Pay-Per-Stream! But we have one distinguished guest in the front row tonight.

Richard Parker: Is it Wayne Newton?

Nick Stuart: No.

Richard Parker: It’s gotta be Wayne Newton.

Nick Stuart: Rich, it’s not Wayne Newton, drop it. Let’s throw it down to PRIME lead interviewer, Angelica Brooks.

The camera cuts from the broadcast desk to Brooks, standing in front of the guardrail on the side facing the hard cam.

Angelica Brooks: I’m so excited to talk to a legend in the Joshi and deathmatch community and one of the most highly acclaimed teachers in Japan right now, Pom Shinjoku. Pom, how are you enjoying Vegas so far?

The camera slowly cuts over to find Pom standing up by the guardrail, wearing an Anglo Luchador t-shirt over her outfit.

Pom Shinjoku: I love all the bright lights. It’s like they made a whole city out of the Roppongi district in Tokyo. I can’t wait to eat at one of the buffets too. You guys think COVID is over now, right?

Angelica Brooks: That’s a question for people above my paygrade. So, are you here to support your friend, The Anglo Luchador?

Pom Shinjoku: Oh yeah, I always like seeing him wrestle, but I’m a little concerned about him right now.

Angelica Brooks: Tell me about it! I interviewed him at ReVival 10. His behavior has been quite erratic lately, but it’s a whole other thing to experience it up close.

Pom furrows her brow a bit.

Pom Shinjoku: He hasn’t been answering his phone. I got a gift from him, plane tickets and one of his reserved front row seats for the show…

Mikey, The Anglo Luchador’s brother, butts into the shot and waves into the camera to show that he has the other one.

Pom Shinjoku: …and I’ve heard nothing else from him. He’s acted like this before.

Angelica Brooks: If you don’t mind me prying, when?

Pom Shinjoku: Back when I got this [pointing at her left eye, covered with an eyepatch]. He’s a loyal, faithful friend and a fierce competitor most of the time, but when he gets like this…

Her voice trails off.

Angelica Brooks: Pom?

Pom Shinjoku: Let’s just say I’m hoping for the best for everyone here, especially Ria Nightshade. I’ve become quite the fan of hers over the last few months, you know? But…

She trails off again.

Angelica Brooks: I can tell this is…

Pom Shinjoku: No, it’s okay Angelica-onna, I can relate. I am hoping for the best, but I’m going to expect the worst. I just hope my friend finds himself before he does something he can’t take back.

Angelica Brooks: I think a lot of people in this building and in the back feel exactly the same way. Let’s throw it back to the desk!

The camera cuts back to Nick and Richard.

Richard Parker: I for one hope that psycho luchador gets what’s coming to him, although I’d rather see Hoyt give it to him.

Nick Stuart: We know, Rich, and that’s what people love about you. Anyway, speaking of Hoyt, we’re almost up to his ward’s match against GREAT SCOTT and Nate Colton, but first, we have some more business to attend to backstage!

LORDY, LORDY…HERE COMES MORTY…

The scene cuts to another area backstage where Matt Mills, in all his professional glory, stands next to Mortimer Kjedelig.

Matt Mills:  Mortimer—-

Mortimer Kjedelig:  Hold up there, Matty.  I know what you’re gonna insinuate with your questions.  How did a winless mook like you end up in a Barb Wire Ropes match for the Impulse Title? 

Matt Mills:  It’s the Intense Championship and “barbed wire” and I was not about to call you a lose—

Mortimer Kjedelig:  Oh!  Hold up!  “Barbed” and not “Barb?”

Matt Mills:  Yes.  

Mortimer Kjedelig:  So this match and the ropes have nothin’ to do with the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Pamela Anderson movie?

Matt Mills:  Correct.

Mortimer Kjedelig:  I was grossly misinformed here!  

Matt Mills:  I wouldn’t say that.  It seemed pretty straightforward to me.

Mortimer Kjedelig:  We’re talkin’ barbed wire and, in the spirit of clarification, not cables with Pamela Anderson’s face, voluminous blonde hair,  boobage, neither/nor “Barb Wire” emblazered on them?

Matt Mills:  That is right.

Mortimer Kjedelig:   You’re tellin’ me that the barbed wire – sharp, spiky, razor wire, shit they use in prisons and farms to keep fuckin’ wolves out – replaces the ropes?  

Matt Mills:  Yes.

Mortimer Kjedelig:  Isn’t that, I dunno, dangerous?

Matt Mills:  I think that’s the point.

Mortimer Kjedelig:  That’s fucked up.  And let me surmise that I’m the loser whose face it is that is gonna get shredded like parmesan?   Is that it?  It pisses me the fuck off!  They put the zero win loser in the match as their little fuckin’ blood monkey?  Their sacrificial guinea pig?   “Yeah!  Hey!  Ria, Angelo, and Anna, they got their fanbases and their t-shirts that run one size too small, let’s have Morty drop a gallon of blood in the ring and get his face all mangled and shit!  No one gives a flyin’ fuck about him!”   Is that what everyone thinks?

Matt Mills:  I don’t think anyone thinks that—-

Mortimer Kjedelig:  Save me your philosophical bullshit, Matty!  I ain’t a sucker.  I’m onto them.  I got the nine-one-one.   But you know what?   I ain’t a loser.  I’m not gonna roll over and take this level of disrespect.  Fuck Ria.  Fuck Angelo Luchadoree.  Fuck my Uncle, my ex-wife, my Cousin Mikey, Ariel Autumnsommer, Vinnie Fuckin’ Shitbag, and a plethoral corn on the copia of others who made me feel smaller than a fire ant’s dick who don’t deserve to get fuckin’ name dropped.  And, oh I almost forgot, wth the utmost imperativity….fuck Anna Daniels and the quantum she leapt in on.  

Matt Mills:  Well, you do have your work cut out for you.  Records aside, what is your gameplan going into the Intense Championship match?

Mortimer Kjedelig:  You wanna know what irony is?  During high school, I wanted to be invisible but when I was at home, I wanted to be seen, and now, here I am, wearin’ a mask at a televised event where….what?  Dozens?  Hundreds?  Thousands of people will watch.   So, with that percolatin’ on your mind, there can be only two possible outcomes for me at this Great American Nightmare.  Outcome One:  I beat Anna Daniels into an unrecognizable pulp until she agrees to my terms, to wit, have been publicly displayed for all to hear, which, with specificity, is for her to go back in time and make one necessary alteratin’ tweak.   Outcome B:  I become the new Impulse Champion and rub it in all of the faces of every single person who doubted me and/or treated me like trash.   It will show that I finally did somethin’ right.  That at least one of my fuckin’ choices panned out for me. 

Matt Mills:  What will happen if you lose this—-

Mortimer raises an admonishing finger at the senior PRIME interview person, grits his teeth, his fists clench, his arms start shaking, and when he speaks, his tone becomes emotional, no matter how hard he tries to repress it

Mortimer Kjedelig:  I told you, I ain’t a fuckin’ loser.

Mortimer Kjedelig storms off camera and Matt Mills looks back at the camera as the scene ends.

WINNER GETS FIVE STAR TITLE MATCH AT REVIVAL 12:NATE COLTON VS. BALAAM THE MASK OF MALICE VS. GREAT SCOTT

Great American Nightmare returns to ringside and the buzz of the crowd is still flowing at high levels. There is a genuine excitement in the air that doesn’t seem to be dying down any time soon. 

Nick Stuart: This one is a long way from over and we’re rolling right through to the next contest of the evening. It’s a triple threat match for the Number One Contendership to the 5 Star Championship as Great Scott, Nate Colton and Balaam look to stake claim to face either Rezin or Hayes Hanlon in the very near future.

Richard Parker: That was a lot of information to process at once but thankfully I am a very smart and wise man and understood all of it. I can’t wait to see Balaam squash the pathetic bugs who stand in his way, just as the power of Hoyt has decreed. 

The camera cuts to the ring and Vince Howard.

Vince Howard: The following contest, scheduled for one fall, has a twenty minute time limit. Introducing first…

“Possum Kingdom” by The Toadies plays as Balaam enters through the crowd. Some of the crowd dare each other to try and get a closer look at the Mask of Malice but in the end, they all scamper away in fear. He is held back by a chain attached to his nose controlled by the Harbinger of Malice.

Vince Howard: …from Prospect Heights, Illinois…being accompanied to the ring by “The Malice Man” Duke Williams and Joe Burro…weighing in at 345 pounds…he is BALAAM THE MASK OF MALICE!

Nick Stuart: Some brave fans trying to get up close with Balaam…

Richard Parker: … and rightfully being smited for it.

Joe Burro stands in the ring holding up high “The Good Book” as they head towards the ring, where referee Elvis Nixon is already looking mightily unimpressed by Balaam’s entourage. As Balaam charges towards the ring, Nixon takes one look at Burro and Williams and indicates that they are out of there.

Richard Parker: Another referee bias against Hoyt and Balaam! When will it stop?

Nick Stuart: Probably when they can be trusted to have a net zero shenanigan output. 

Richard Parker: A what?

As a frothing mad Balaam goes after Nixon, his caretakers utter a few final words to calm his soul pre-match and dutifully make their way to the back. 

Richard Parker: They know Balaam has got this one and they want to go and formulate a game plan for The Anglo Luchador.

Nick Stuart: Fans, Richard Parker is a big fan of Fleetwood Mac, I don’t know if any of you knew that.

A slightly adrift Balaam backs up in the ring as a classic rock riff signals the beginning of “Tryin’” by the Eagles, and moments later Nate Colton emerges from the curtain. He holds his arms up high, showing off his blue satin jacket–his family name emblazoned on the back; his first name stitched on the front.

Nick Stuart: You have to wonder what’s running through the mind of Nate Colton here tonight. He’s truly out here on his own. No family supporters in the crowd, no Nathan Filmix in his corner. He certainly looks pumped but is there sadness hiding behind that?

Richard Parker: Hey, fair’s fair, if Balaam has to do this alone, we can do without the eight thousand members of the Colton family stinking up the joint. 

Vince Howard: Introducing next…from Evansville, Indiana…weighing in at 255 pounds…NATE COLTON!

Nate walks quickly to the ring, making sure to high five any fans who reach toward him. He climbs the steps, ducks between the top and middle ropes, and enters the ring. 

Nick Stuart: His efforts in Survivor and his budding friendship with Nathan Filmix have really helped Colton build a solid fanbase with the PRIME crowd and he wants to give a little bit of that love back as he heads to the ring.

Richard Parker: Give the love back? Sickening sentence. I hope Great Bear rips your head straight off when he gets here.

Colton heads directly to his corner and undoes his jacket, showing off his gear–white trunks that reach his upper thigh with a blue stripe down the side, white boots with blue trim, white MMA gloves, and blue elbow and knee pads. After handing his jacket to a ring attendant, he makes another appeal to the fans, then stretches in the corner, keeping his distance from Balaam, who is very stoic as he stands in the opposing corner.

Nick Stuart: I hope Elvis Nixon is ready to work tonight because he’s going to make sure these two stay apart before Great Scott even gets to the ring.

“Born For Greatness” by Papa Roach begins to blast over the speakers, as GREAT SCOTT emerges from behind the curtain carrying a nondescript championship belt over his shoulder. For some reason, Great Scott is over. Like really over. The crowd is going goddamned ballistic, and gets even louder as GREAT BEAR steps out behind him, rocking out to some EDM on his sweet Beats By Dre headphones.

Vince Howard: Lastly, from the Greater Metro Area of Great Falls Montana…weighing in at 276 pounds…GREAT SCOTT!

Nick Stuart: The shortest man in this contest with arguably the biggest heart, Great Scott has been on a tear since he debuted in PRIME. Four wins, zero losses. That is something very few have been able to claim.

Richard Parker: And if everyone in the PRIME roster had a bear in their corner, maybe they’d be undefeated too.

Nick Stuart: Nonsense! Great Bear hasn’t been involved in a single decision so far for Great Scott. He’s just been vibing on the outside.

Richard Parker: Vibing? Did you just say vibing, Nick?

As Richard Parker tries to recover from his commentary partner’s use of YOUNG LINGO, GREAT SCOTT and GREAT BEAR make their way down to the ring, where GREAT BEAR starts doing awesome dance moves at ringside. It isn’t entirely clear if this is a real live bear, or a man in a very convincing bear costume, but the crowd is very into all of it.

Nick Stuart: Nate Colton is from a very traditional wrestling background, I have to wonder what he makes of a man like Great Scott. After all, Great Scott was emotionally struggling with the idea of fighting what he viewed to be another good guy here at Great American Nightmare.

Richard Parker: I’d be surprised if he remembered anything pre-Burger King binge at this point. The King… he does things. 

Anyway, Great Scott climbs up into the ring and goes up on all four ring posts, basking in the adulation of fans and holding up his championship belt. Elvis Nixon tries to gently point out that this is not a recognised championship as Great Scott hops off the final post. Scott tosses the belt over to Great Bear, but that’s when the unthinkable happens.

Nick Stuart: Elvis Nixon is demanding Great Bear go to the back and the fans are not happy!

Great Scott looks shocked for a few moments before Nixon explains that he wants an even playing field. The booing rains down upon Nixon like a tsunami but it doesn’t deter his decision. Great Scott, being a good guy, nods respectfully and asks Great Bear to return to the back. 

Nick Stuart: Elvis Nixon wants to make sure that whoever earns that shot at the Five Star Championship does so on their own merits and I think he’s right to do so.

Richard Parker: I think some of the crowd are ready to commit murder upon seeing a bear sadly dance back up the ramp.

With the area clear of possible outside intruders, Nixon signals for the bell

DING DING

Nick Stuart: And this contest for a shot at the Five Star Championship is officially underway.

An exuberant Colton looks towards Great Scott and begins to gesture that they should work together. Great Scott yells “I TRUST YOUR LACK OF FACIAL HAIR” and launches himself at Balaam, looking for some form of shotgun dropkick but the powerful Balaam manages to catch him in the mid-air. Balaam hoists Great Scott up, looking to drop him down to the mat but before he gets a chance, Nate Colton bounces off the ropes and hits a chop block right to Balaam. Balaam staggers but does not let go of Scott, so Colton goes for a second chop block. This time, Balaam casually drops Great Scott to the mat and wobbles down to one knee. Colton looks towards Scott, Scott looks back and the two jump up in the air and jointly kick Balaam straight in the face hole, which finally sends Balaam down to the mat.

Richard Parker: Now what, dummies? Only one of you can win this match!

Nick Stuart: It’s not the way I would’ve put it, but it’s very true. In this triple threat match, it’s one fall to a finish. Teaming up can only get you so far. 

Instead of focusing on who will pin Balaam, Scott and Colton decide to continue their alliance for the time being and descend on the fallen Balaam, both standing over him. This turns out to be a less than wise decision as Balaam shoves off both men with a powerful force, sending them crashing in opposite directions. Balaam slowly pulls himself back up, clearly looking to do some hurting on the two men who have wronged him. He staggers over to a dazed Colton and scoops him up and down with a thunderous body slam that makes some of the fans near the front rows go “oooo”, it’s that powerful! As if trying to send a very clear message to his two opponents and their attempts to team up, he scoops up Great Scott too and body slams him right on top of Colton. Balaam roars and signals for Nixon, putting one foot upon the human pile he just created.

ONE!

Nick Stuart: Nate Colton and Great Scott both free themselves of the pile that Balaam has created but the message I think is clear, Balaam is not a fan of the two men working together and is happy to take them both down.

Richard Parker: Two men, three men, forty men, it doesn’t matter when you have the power of Hoyt running through you. 

Nick Stuart: Is that what they call it these days? A lot of people have also been accusing Great Scott of having the “power of Hoyt” too.

The combined force of Colton and Scott breaking free sends Balaam staggering backwards a little. The two temporary allies both manage to quickly get back up to their feet as Balaam looks on with clear evil intentions in his eyes. Balaam sees Colton and Scott using the ring ropes for support and rushes at them, looking to clobber both men with a double lariat. Rather than knock two heads clean off however, Scott and Colton duck and low bridge the ropes together, sending Balaam tumbling down to the mats on the outside of the ring. Balaam crashes with a thud, and suddenly, the two allies turn to each other. 

Richard Parker: I knew this would never last, these two men are too egotistical to let the other get the win.

Nick Stuart: Egotistical is not a word I’ve heard describe either Nate Colton or Great Scott before this match.

Rather than take each other by surprise, the two men return to the middle of the ring and shake hands, which the crowd finds very adorable, with the audio crew able to pick a very audible “awwwww” from a contingent of the PRIME Faithful. Great Scott is the first one to take action, trying to slip behind the larger Colton, but Colton manages to side step Scott’s attempt to clutch at his wrist. Scott staggers and Colton acts quickly, wrapping Scott up in a small package.

ONE! 

TWO!

NO!

Rather than a kickout, Scott manages to use his muscular muscles to roll through and get Colton’s shoulders down on the mat.

ONE!

TWO!

NO!

Colton manages to break out of the package that he himself created. He quickly sweeps behind Great Scott and schoolboys him.

ONE!

TWO!

NO!

Great Scott, showing remarkable power, rolls through on the small package and manages to wrap his arms around the waist of Nate Colton. He hoists Colton up and hopes to throw him over with a German Suplex, but as Colton gets some air, he manages to forward roll, hooking Great Scott in another pinning combination.

ONE!

TWO!

BALAAM!

Nick Stuart: An impressive competitive display between Colton and Great Scott but Balaam returned to the ring with authority.

Richard Parker: You mean he sensibly rested outside the ring and let the children play for a little bit? Tough luck Colton and Scott, daddy’s home!

Nick Stuart: I don’t like how you described any of that. 

Colton’s pin attempt is broken by a very irate Balaam leaping into the air and putting down his weight with as much force as he can muster, which is a lot of force, on both men. He crushes down on Scott and Colton, who both flop out onto the mat. Balaam decides that Great Scott is a better target for the moment and mounts the man, grinding his very pointed elbow right into the forehead of Great Scott, who groans in agony. Balaam lifts the elbow a few times, drilling in a few stiff shots to the skull, then returns to the grind. Elvis Nixon looks displeased but knows that there’s nothing he can do to stop it. As Nate Colton gathers himself, he tries to break up the elbow crushing of Great Scott but Balaam uses his free hand and swats Colton right across the noggin, sending him straight back down to the mat.

Nick Stuart: You have been right that Balaam was waiting on the outside of the ring for his moment to strike. 

Richard Parker: I have been psychically linked with Balaam and so I understand his every feeling. 

Nick Stuart: And last week, you were psychically linked with El Hijo Del Super Cool Guy…

Richard Parker: Hey, you start with the inanimate and work your way up. Although that mannequin remains surprisingly racist…

Before we can delve further into the cornering world of Richard Parker, we return to Balaam continuing to destroy Great Scott’s skull with an endless elbow assault. Balaam raises his elbow in the air to deliver a few more forceful blows, but is stopped in his tracks by an ANGRY GLARE by Great Scott. Balaam has an instinctive emotional response to the glare that stops his battery for a second, which is just enough time for Nate Colton to grab the back of Balaam and drive him into the mat with a modified Russian Leg Sweep. Colton nods to Scott, but the victory is short lived as by the time he turns around, Balaam is already back to his feet. The horror movie monster levels of terrifying do little to deter Colton, who at this point just has endorphins running all over the joint, and Colton hooks Balaam’s waist. He tries to hoist him for a German Suplex but Balaam ain’t budging.

Nick Stuart: Nate Colton is a pretty tall guy himself and clearly has some power to him, but I’m still not sure this is wise.

Richard Parker: Trying to lift up the angry monster man who wants to kill you? No, I wouldn’t say it’s wise. 

Balaam starts to drill his very powerful elbows into the skull of Colton, but it does seem to deter Colton’s desire to lift the man off the ground. Suddenly, an angel named Great Scott, now very much gushing blood in all directions from his temple, crawls over and hooks his meaty arms around Balaam’s legs. Scott is able to pull with enough force to weaken Balaam’s base and Colton manages to lift him up and over with a picture perfect German suplex. Colton keeps his arms locked and lifts himself up into a bridge, pinning Balaam to the mat.

Nick Stuart: COULD THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP DO IT?

Richard Parker: Hoyt, I hope not!

ONE!

TWO!

Nick Stuart: Balaam manages to power out!

Richard Parker: This is just a handicap match, it’s disgraceful that Elvis Nixon kicked very qualified ringside advisors out of the ring just so he could facilitate this disgusting two on one affair.

Colton bangs his fist down on the mat in frustration, but the smile doesn’t leave his face, clearly he is relishing the challenge that is before him. He goes over and extends a hand to Great Scott, and helps him back up, getting his white MMA gloves covered in the blood of Great Scott. Balaam is already back up and looks to ring the bell of Colton from behind, but even through his blood encrusted face, Scott is able to see the attack coming and kicks Balaam right in the nose ring. Balaam wobbles but does not fall down, and Colton decides that it’s time to go for the kill. He grabs Balaam’s arm and wraps it around the monster’s own throat. He tries to hoist up Balaam for the Colton Clutch Suplex, but Scott’s slippery blood means it is hard for him to get a firm grip with his gloves.

Richard Parker: See what happens when you try to play the hero? He’s lost the ability to get a grip!

Nick Stuart: That may be, but he’s not giving up the fight, he’s trying to lift up the monster and Balaam is certainly showing signs of losing air.

Great Scott manages to wipe the blood from his eyes and sees the situation that is before him. He wants to help Colton and calculates that the best thing to do is…

Nick Stuart: GREAT SCOTT MUZIK!

Richard Parker: It’s a superkick, just call it a superkick.

Great Scott superkicks Balaam straight in the jaw and the combination of the cobra clutch and the force of the kick allows Colton to get Balaam up and over with the Colton Clutch Suplex. Colton shows that he may have been trying to apply too much force however, and as Balaam falls to the mat, Colton loses his footing and falls to the outside of the ring, first tumbling onto the apron and then slipping down to the ringside mat, smacking his head against the steps on his way down.

Nick Stuart: Nate Colton with an amazing display of power, he just managed to crush Balaam with the Colton Clutch Suplex but the momentum sent him flying.

Richard Parker: The desire to prove himself may be costly, that was a nasty spill he took to the outside.

A bloody and exhausted Great Scott falls on top of Balaam and Elvis Nixon counts it as a valid pinfall attempt.

ONE!

TWO!

THREE!

DING DING DING

Richard Parker: I don’t believe this. I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THIS!

Balaam manages to throw Scott free and toss him into the air, sending him flying into the mat at the 3.1 mark, but it’s already too late, Nixon has called for the bell. Balaam leaps right back up to his feet and starts to stalk Elvis Nixon, who quickly skedaddles from the ring. A frustrated Nate Colton looks on from outside the ring, just not able to get back into the action in time.

Nick Stuart: I don’t think a single pundit would have predicted this two months ago, but Great Scott is now five and oh in PRIME, and he’s about to challenge for the Five Star Championship. Whether that be Rezin or Hayes Hanlon, they better get ready, they’re about the face perhaps the most unique competitor in the company. 

Richard Parker: None of this is happening, this is a bad dream. None of it. 

The cameras start to fade away from the ring as Balaam tries to throttle Great Scott but is stopped in his tracks by a returning Great Bear, who stands between Balaam and the winner of the match. Great Bear and Balaam continue to stare down as Great American Nightmare moves forward to a commercial break. 

A LESSON IN THE INEVITABILITY OF FAILURE

Fade to backstage following the commercial break. Don’t you love that you paid to watch this event and STILL have to sit through ad breaks? Thanks ACE Network! 

The shot is before the interview backdrop, to one one side, junior reporter Simon Tillier waits to conduct an interview. He’s watching helplessly as “The Escape Artist” Rezin is in the process of harassing a production assistant, he forcibly shaking the poor guy around by his shirt collar.

Rezin: …and then there’s TWO explosions, GOT IT?! TWO!! Then you HIT THE MUSIC! I want STROBES goin’ off errywhere! I want FLAMES shootin’ up the sides of the rampway! I want LASERS… HOLOGRAMS! And goddambit, I want those SMOKE MACHINES ROLLIN’ SO HARD you’d think the BUILDING was on fire!

Production Assistant: I mean… we’ll try our best. What you’re asking for is going to require a lot of power. Maybe we cut one or two things–

Rezin: SHUT UP!! Do you have any idea who I AM?! I’m the FUTURE FIVE STAR CHAMPION, and tonight is my BREAKTHROUGH MOMENT! This entrance has to be PERFECT! It has to be DARK! It has to be CHAOTIC! I want those fans to feel DREAD and DESPAIR when they see me coming to the ring! I want their SKIN to crawl! I want them to think I’m like the very PROPHET of the END TIMES or some shit! Ya get me? ANTON CHIGURH from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN! RANDALL FLAGG from the STAND! KILLER BOB from TWIN PEAKS! The RED MASQUE OF DEATH from… ya know, THE RED MASQUE OF DEATH!!

Production Assistant: I don’t understand these references…

Rezin: THEN GOOGLE IT, YA NORMIE!! Now SCRAM!!

The crew member scurries away while the Goat Bastard continues kicking and swatting after him, cackling. Then he sniffs the air, and smells the reek of junior reporter. Behind him, Simon tenses up…

Rezin: Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf…

Another reference for you kids to Google in your spare time. Rezin turns to face the interviewer, and Tillier audibly gulps.

Rezin: …you got somethin’ to say to me, Simon? Or do I needa twist your arm?

Simon shows his commitment to professionalism by adjusting his tie and pushing forward.

Simon Tillier: G-good evening, Rezin. As we all know, later on in the event, you’ll be challenging “The Event Horizon” Hayes Hanlon for the Five Star Championship. What’s your mindset like tonight before heading into such an important contest?

Rezin’s reddened eyes widen into a crazed stare and his lips curl into a hungry sneer. His face has become the ghastly visage of madness and murderous ambitions. 

Rezin: You wanna know my MINDSET, Simon? Well, there’s only ONE mindset to have, when the STAKES are HIGHER than I am on a Friday night! A mindset that fits perfectly within this money and greed-obsessed city we’re in…

Pointing intensely into his own temple, he takes a threatening step forward, now looming over the fear-stricken junior reporter. Simon can only hold out the mic and pray for the best.

Rezin: ALL! IN! THAT is my mindset, Simon! 

Simon Tillier: Well, that is a daring proclamation to make. But, as you must know, with such high stakes in this match, and with everything on the line, should you lose…

Rezin snatches the mic away from him. 

Rezin: You think I’m worried about LOSIN’?! Been there, done that! I lose tonight, I go back to bein’ the Goat Bastard this world knows me more, no better no worse! And tonight, I got nothin’ to lose, but everything to gain! But you know who can’t say the same? You know who SHOULD be worried about losin’? 

He redirects his crazed glare to the camera, practically jostling Simon out of his own interview.

Rezin: HAAYYESS HAANLOONN, THAT’S WHO!!

He finger-guns the camera.

Rezin: I’m gonna do you a FAVOR tonight, Event Horizon! I’m gonna teach you a LESSON that you’ll take with you for the rest of your career! That lesson? FAILURE is INEVITABLE, HHAAYESS HAANLONNN!!

Rezin’s sneer slowly stretches into a maniacal grin. His unbridled energy can’t be understated, as he is practically a walking stick of TNT right now.

Rezin: NO ONE escapes FAILURE! Not even ME, the ESCAPE ARTIST! I have tasted FAILURE so much through my career, I’ve become NUMB to it! I’m IMMUNE to the FEAR of FAILURE, because it’s something I know I can SURVIVE!! But YOU?! HA-HAA… so are still so YOUNG… so NAIVE… and so IGNORANT of all the SUFFERING that comes with FAILURE!! SUFFERING that I will bring you, HAAYYESS HAAANLOOONNN!!

He advances on the camera, which attempts to back up as if to protect the fans watching at home from the smell reaching them through their television screens. Rezin is seething with heavy breaths, teeth bared like a speed freak on his last two dollars. 

Rezin: But don’t worry, Haaayyyesss… cause years from now, you’ll be THANKING ME! You will come to APPRECIATE the ASS-KICKIN’ I’m going to hand you tonight! Cause eventually, in hindsight, you will come to understand that reflecting on our own FAILURES in life is EXACTLY what makes us STRONGER in that ring!

Closer. Our view is nothing but crusty whiskers, flaring nostrils, and determined, bloodshot eyes.

Rezin: You’ll look back on this night as the moment that changed your life forever. The moment you realized that you were wasting your potential as a professional wrestling, instead of finding your TRUE calling in life…. PUMPING GAS!! BACK HOME!! IN THE STUCK-UP SNOBBISH SUBURBS of PORTLAND, ORE-GONE!!

He finally steps back. The Goat Bastard throws his head back and throats the mic, shaking his fist and calling his opponent’s name into the heavens with the spite-filled, guttural rage of a Saturday morning cartoon villain. 

Rezin: HHAAAAYYYYEEEZZZ… HHHHAAAAANNNNN… LLLAAAAWWWWNNNNNGGGHHH!!

He nearly spikes the mic until he notices Simon still standing by, and instead gently hands it off to the junior reporter. Rezin takes his leave while Tillier curls his nose at the layer of spittle left over the foam head of the mic.

DOWN THE ROAD

Nick Stuart: We’re just about an hour or so away from the rematch of the year – Brandon Youngblood vs Impulse II, this time for the PRIME Universal Championship! At this time, however, let’s go to the challenger for the match, live backstage, is Impulse! 

Split screen with Nick and Richard on the left, Impulse and Cally on the right. Impulse looks to be ready for battle, while Cally sports novelty ‘G-A-N’ sunglasses and is eating some cotton candy. Pop from the fans at the sight of the number one contender on the big screen. 

Nick Stuart: Impulse, Cally, good to see you! 

Cally: HI RICHARD! HI NICK! HI VEGAS! 

Complete with spastic waving, of course.

Richard Parker (unenthusiastic): Charmed.

Impulse: Good to be with you, Nick. Rich. 

Nick Stuart: Obviously you’re ready for your showdown with Brandon Youngblood, but coming up right now is a match I know you and the Champion are both watching closely, as Julian Bathory and Cancer Jiles–

Richard Parker: *Raspberry*

Nick Stuart: … Jiles… will be facing off for a title shot at Ultraviolence! What’s your take on this match, and should you be the Universal Champion at the time, do you have a preference for your opponent? 

Impulse: That’s a lot of assumptions there,  Nick… even if I win the PRIME Universal Championship tonight, there’s a lot of space between now and Ultraviolence where anything can happen. But I’ve been in the ring with Julian Bathory before. I know his strengths and weaknesses, and I know how he operates. Cancer Jiles–

Richard Parker: *Raspberry*

Both Nick and Impulse look at Richard.

Cally: ‘Scuse you!

Impulse: I’ve never been in the ring against Jiles, but as the runner up in the Almasy Invitational, he’s clearly got the chops. But he’s also come up short in multiple matches for the gold and I think it’s about time to start moving forward and seeing what someone else can do with an opportunity.

Nick Stuart: What’s your prediction, Impulse? 

Impulse: Taking the title holder outta the equation, I’ve gotta pull for Bathory in this one. I know what he can do and I would love to see him headline the next one. Now… that being said? 

Richard Parker: Never a straight answer with this one. 

Impulse: If I’m holding the gold when Ultraviolence rolls around? Brandon Youngblood has made beating up on Jiles just look… SO appealing. I’d love to get in on that action. 

They look at Richard.

Richard Parker: …I’ll allow that one.

Nick laughs at the comment.

Nick Stuart: Thanks for taking the time, Impulse, and best of luck later tonight! But it’s time to see who will be opposite the Champion in a few months’ time, let’s get to the ring!

CANCER JILES VS. JULIAN BATHORY TALE OF THE TAPE

WINNER GETS TITLE SHOT AT ULTRAVIOLENCE:CANCER JILES VS. JULIAN BATHORY

Nick Stuart:  PRIMEates, it’s time to find out who will earn an opportunity at the Universal Championship at our next supershow, Ultraviolence!

Richard Parker:  When you say it like that, it really downplays the situation we’re in with this match.

Nick Stuart:  Please, Richard, why don’t you enlighten us.

Richard Parker:  If we ever have to see Cancer Jiles in a Universal Championship match again, it’ll be too soon. I’d rather go on Hot Ones and burn a hole in my tongue and grow an ulcer in my stomach! That’s why we all need to be Team Bathory tonight.

Nick Stuart:  I can’t say I find Bathory or his mentor, Violence Jack, all that inspiring and the types to stir up support.

Richard Parker:  Uh, have you seen MESSIAH? Imagine if Julian wins this match, and leads them to the Universal Championship at Ultraviolence? It’s a next level step for him and the entirety of MESSIAH.

Nick Stuart:  Nevertheless, let’s see who it will be and send this one to Vince Howard in the ring!

Vince Howard:  The following match is scheduled for one fall with a thirty minute time limit, and will determine the NUMBER ONE CONTENDER to the UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP AT ULTRAVIOLENCE!

The tones of “Shadow” by The Enigma TNG string from the aisles to the rafters and back again as the heads of MESSIAH cross the threshold onto the stage. Julian Bathory and Violence Jack make their way down to the ring.

Vince Howard:  Introducing first, hailing from Szeged, Hungary and accompanied by Violence Jack! He stands six feet two inches tall, and weighs in at 226 pounds… he is THE NEW WORLD SAVIOR! THE CARPATHIAN DEVIL… JULIAN! BAAAAATHORYYYY!!

Nick Stuart:  A huge opportunity at stake for the leader of MESSIAH tonight, as Julian Bathory could secure his chance at the top title in PRIME at Ultraviolence, regardless of who the Universal Champion is after tonight.

Richard Parker:  Yes, that’s a rich prize for a win. But don’t undersell the chance to lay waste to that piece of human trash, Cancer Jiles!

Richard Parker:  Cancer isn’t winning any popularity contests tonight, but something tells me that’s the furthest thing on his mind, given the stakes.

Richard Parker:  I’m not sure PRIME can withstand another Universal Championship match with this coward in it. Hopefully Bathory can crack him and let the yolk circle the drain to keep him far from that title.

Julian and Violence Jack exchange a few words before Bathory walks up the steel stairs and makes his way into the ring, not for a second thinking of the crowd. He looks sharply focused, holding in a performance he’s confident will be unleashed and earn him a win once the bell rings. Before we get there… 

The lights dim.

A breeze moves through the air.

The boo birds climb to their perch.

Seconds pass.

Richard Parker:  I can’t stand this guy. I really hope Bathory knocks his teeth out.

Nick Stuart:  It’s real simple— a win tonight for Jiles and it’s the Main Event at Ultraviolence for the UNIVERSAL Championship. And, should fate have it so, a round three against Brandon Youngblood.

Richard Parker:  Not gonna happen. I read that Bathory sacrificed ninety seven chickens over the course of the last two weeks to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

Nick Stuart:  Where’d you hear that?

Richard Parker: The Cracking News Discord. I was doing some surveillance. AND WHERE THE FUCK IS THIS GUY?

As if on cue, the instantly recognizable guitar riff from “I am the COOL” booms throughout the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Then, it’s Screamin’ Jay’s turn.

I’m the one your mama warned you about
When you see me, I will leave you no doubt
I’m the coolest man that ever walked this earth
I’ve been the coolest since the day of my birth… 

Smoke. 

Pyros. 

….I am the cool 

Jiles finally emerges from the back. His hair looks like an infinity million dollar bill. His shades, as if such a thing were even possible, somehow look even better than his hair. He’s even got a picture of a face covered in yolk and shell Julian Bathory on his tights.

This is Great American Nightmare.

Go big or go home.

Vince Howard:  Introducing next, representing the EGG BANDITS… From Phildadelphia, Pennsylvania and weighing in at two hundred eighteen pounds… he is the GREEK GOD of COOLYMPUS… “COOL!” CANCER! JIIIIIILLLLLLESSS!!!

Richard Parker:  The balls on this guy. 

Nick Stuart:  COOLtanium, from what I’ve read.

And of course…

BOOOOOO~! 

The COOLYMPIAN doesn’t stop to pose, or release a burst of his mist. Actually, instead of taking his time like he normally does he keeps his stride swift and heads directly to the ring. Before he slides under the bottom rope he screams at Timo Bolamba to keep Bathory back in the opposing corner. The thing is Bathory is already in his corner, paying no mind to Jiles’ antics. Eventually Jiles slides in, and once again demands of Timo. This time around it’s about wanting to see with his own eyes Timo checking the boots and other areas on Bathory.

Nick Stuart:  Jiles is really laying into Timo here.

Richard Parker: Yeah, apparently internal bleeding doesn’t count in a Furst Blud match. Such a bag of dicks this guy is. Hopefully Timo disqualifies him for being such a vicious asshole. That would teach him.

Nick Stuart: Could you imagine?

After getting an extensive, awkward check of his own, Jiles removes his shades and hands them to Vince Howard. He starts to bounce around in his corner to limber up, then shares an insult with a ringside fan. Then one with Timo, and three more for Bathory. Having issued the mandatory instructions to both wrestlers, Timo calls for the bell to start the match!

DING DING

Julian Bathory immediately charges Cancer Jiles, knowing once the bell rings, an offensive is already a moment late. He launches his body with a leg lariat to down Cancer, snakes an arm around his neck, and begins raining down blows to the forehead. Jiles gets an arm between Julian’s and his neck, a separation he leverages to slip out from the sudden assault. Jiles rolls outside, checking for blood and finding none. Julian stands and roars out while Timo puts in a count on Cancer.

ONE!

TWO!

Despite being put on his heels, Cancer somehow still saunters around the ringside area.

Richard Parker: Look at this guy. COOLYMPIAN? More like all shell, no substance!

Nick Stuart: Cancer taking his sweet time on the outside, maybe seeing if he can goad another opponent into coming out, as he did with Flamberge. Meanwhile, Julian Bathory looks like he’s got a whole new level of ferocity to start this match.

Richard Parker: Yeah, facing Cancer will do that to you. Who doesn’t want to smash his face in?

THREE!

FOUR!

Jiles ignores heckling fans at ringside as Bathory watches his opponent circling the ring.

FIVE!

SIX!

Nick Stuart: When it comes to these two, I think it’s safe to say that the mental game is as relevant as the physical action.

Richard Parker: These are two Alphas and only one is going to get the spot at Ultraviolence.

SEVEN!

Cancer finally decides the time is right to surface onto the apron. Bathory wastes no time charging with a Clothesline and whiffs, as Jiles drops to ringside before sliding into the ring and smoothly popping up behind Bathory. Julian snaps off a Backfist Knuckle without even turning. He finds air, with Cancer running off the opposite ropes. Julian finds Cancer hitting a Shotgun Dropkick and bounces off the ropes. In a fluid motion, Cancer is up behind Julian and rakes the back with crooked flexed fingers. The MESSIAH director grabs his back and the COOLYMPIAN hits a series of toe kicks to the ribs. However, the Prince of Tears is quick to get upright and closes the distance with Jiles. A Clothesline is slickly evaded and Bathory turns– TERMINAL CANCER!

Nick Stuart: NO! Bathory managed to drop to the mat as Jiles came whizzing by with his finisher! He scoops Cancer Jiles up into a pin!

ONE!

TWO!

KICKOUT!

Both men are back up quickly. Bathory points to his head with a mirthless chuckle while Cancer slicks back his hair as they circle.

Richard Parker: Imagine if Cancer Jiles ever ended this quickly? I’d vomit all over the front row. Then my heart fluttered at the idea Bathory could catch him in that pinfall!

Nick Stuart: I think it was a defensive maneuver to buy Bathory a moment. He knows it’s going to take way more to secure the number one contendership to the Universal Championship.

Richard Parker: If Mr. COOL weren’t such an arrogant jerkoff, he’d realize the same is true to put away Bathory.

An exchange of words leads to The New World Savior initiating the next volley. A forearm turns Jiles’ head and Bathory goes for another. Cancer ducks under and locks his arms around Julian’s waist again, but receives back elbows that catches Jiles on the temple. Julian gets free and sends Jiles flat back to the mat with a Clothesline near the ropes. He grabs Cancer’s legs and positions his head under the bottom rope. In the next moment, Julian finds a ruse unveiled as Jiles pulls his legs forward. Julian goes throat first against the top rope, gagging, while the COOLYMPIAN slides to the apron. He drops Bathory’s throat over the top rope again, sending him to the mat while clutching his windpipe as Jiles makes his way back in for a pinfall!

ONE!

TWO!

KICKOUT!

Nick Stuart: Shrewd move by the veteran Jiles, who is establishing control of the match.

Richard Parker: It won’t last for this ingrate. It’s just the setup to the bloody comeback for Bathory. Wait and see.

Jiles slides back in and blatantly ignores Bolamba’s asking him to wait so he can check on Bathory. Cancer begins a round of stiff kicks that receive admonishment from Timo, then a count ensues.

ONE!

TWO!

THREE!

FOUR!

Cancer walks away from the assault on Julian, only to begin a new wave of stomps that received another count reaching four. He rakes the eyes of Julian for good measure before as the crowd provide their soundtrack for the Greek God of COOL.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 

Richard Parker: CAN WE JUST DISQUALIFY THIS CHUMP ALREADY?!

Nick Stuart: Cancer is really testing Timo with his choice of offense. I’m sure Timo doesn’t want to have to end the match that way, but Cancer may give him no other option.

Richard Parker: Don’t be weak, Timo! Buy a clue. I know every trick in the book and Jiles is so far down in the trash heap, he doesn’t deserve leeway.

Jiles uses the ropes and his heel to unceremoniously shove The Prince of Tears out of the ring. He rolls out and lifts Bathory up, lacing a knife edge chop across the chest. A second chop causes Julian’s hands involuntarily to go to his chest, with discoloration appearing. Cancer grabs Bathory’s wrist and Irish whips him into the steel stairs as Timo puts in a count…

ONE!

Richard Parker: REVERSAL!

Nick Stuart: Bathory flips the script and sends Cancer crashing back first into the steps! It looked like the eGG Bandits leader had things in hand, but through hell and high water, Julian found an opening.

Richard Parker: Now keep on him.

TWO!

THREE!

The Prince of Tears closes the distance with a Kitchen Sink knee that doubles over the COOLYMPIAN. With a snarl, he leans Jiles back and strikes with a knife edge chop. Jiles leans forward, gasping for air. 

THREE!

The Prince of Tears grabs Jiles in one hand, and cocks back an arm, savoring the moment before hitting a straight punch to the face of COOL, who reels back against the steps. Bathory repeats the cycle and pounds his own chest a couple times. The Carpathian Devil realizes Timo paused his count to warn about using a closed fist, but does not restart the count.

FOUR!

FIVE!

The New World Savior substitutes forearm shots that leave one of Cancer’s cheeks blushed. Far from satisfied, Bathory sits Cancer’s dazed form on top of the steel stairs so his back is facing Julian.

SIX!

SEVEN!

Julian rolls back into the ring, only to step back out onto the apron. Timo tells him to take things back in the ring, but the Prince of Tears waves him off as he eyes Jiles.

Nick Stuart: I’m not sure what Julian has planned here, but I would guess it’ll maximize the pain on one Cancer Jiles.

Richard Parker: Good, send him to the hospital for all I care. Let the Bandits have the night off early so we don’t have to worry about their lurking around.

Nick Stuart: Richard, I think that’s over the line, even for Jiles.

Richard Parker: Hey, who wants to see him around? NOBODY!

Gauging his distance, Julian leaps clear over Jiles from the apron and snaps the COOLYMPIAN’s into and off the steel stairs. Cancer tumbles off to the floor, gripping his head. The New World Savior is up and feeling his control tightening before hauling Cancer up and into his arms. 

ONE!

Timo puts in a fresh count, and Bathory looks back briefly before sending Cancer crashing into the barrier. He pulls Jiles up and uncorks an Exploder Suplex that sends Cancer’s body rattling into the barrier before dropping down and pressing his head against the barrier, trying to break him clear through it.

TWO!

Nick Stuart: Bathory landing Jiles on his back and neck before literally trying to cave his head in!

Richard Parker: Some think it’s vicious, but this should only be the beginning of the end for the Cancerous stain on PRIME!

THREE!

The Carpathian Devil has plans for the immediate future of the Bandits’ leader. He grabs the COOLYMPIAN by an arm and drags him off the railing. 

FOUR!

He yanks Jiles up and hooks an arm around the neck, with his other going under one of Cancer’s legs. In one smooth motion, he lifts, turns, and smashes Jiles neck first onto the ground.

Nick Stuart: CARPATHIAN DEATH SONG! If he can get Cancer Jiles back into the ring, that could be it!

FIVE!

Richard Parker: GET ON YOUR DARK HORSE, BATHORY!

SIX!

Bathory applies a headlock but finds the dead weight of his opponent won’t move easily.

SEVEN!

The Carpathian Devil lifts Jiles in a Fireman’s Carry and deposits him onto the apron.

EIGHT!

As he follows in, Cancer stirs with an eye pokes that sends Bathroy to a knee outside. Jiles rolls into the ring, still down.

NINE!

Nick Stuart: I can’t believe it!

Richard Parker: NOT THIS WAY! NOOO!

Timo raises his hands and rules… Julian Bathory dove into the ring in time, as he was unable to complete the ten count. Cancer Jiles rolls himself over and make a cover!

ONE!

TWO!

THR— VIOLENCE JACK PUTS BATHORY’S FOOT ON THE ROPES!

Nick Stuart: Violence Jack took advantage of Timo’s view on that one! Otherwise, this match may very well have been over.

Richard Parker: I’m glad someone knows what to do around here.

Julian rubs his eyes on the mat while Cancer rolls onto his back, his nose trickling a stream of blood.

Nick Stuart: A razor thin margin for Julian Bathory, who BARELY beat the count and nearly felt the sting of a Jilesing. Violence Jack nearly got him disqualified, but the play worked.

Richard Parker: My heart may not make it through this show, seeing Jiles creep closer to another Universal Championship match.

Julian goes outside of the ring, still trying to clear his vision. Timo sticks his head through the ropes to check on Bathory, and Violence Jack reaches into the ring and drags Jiles out of the ring and traps him inside the apron skirt.

Nick Stuart: Violence Jack trapping then peppering Cancer with strikes while Timo is distracted!

Richard Parker: It’s everything Jiles deserves. He’d do the same if he could, and thankfully he can’t right now.

Nick Stuart: I know Jiles isn’t someone who holds to rules, but do two wrongs make a right?

Richard Parker: Nick, how long have we been calling matches? Obviously they do!

Julian waves his arm to direct Shanahan away from Jiles as Timo turns around and only sees VJ checking on Bathory, with Jiles still stuck and blood smeared across his face. The Prince of Tears suddenly grabs Shanahan and squints – or is it a glare? – and holds VJ close to him, whispering. He then points to the ring and walks away, towards Cancer. VJ gets up on the opposite side of the apron from Jiles and begins arguing with Timo about the eye poke Cancer delivered earlier. As they argue, the Carpathian Devil looks incensed at Cancer for nearly getting him counted out. He chokes Cancer with both hands before yanking Jiles out of the predicament, and into a new one.

Nick Stuart: Bathory crossing Jiles arm over his throat, lifting him straight up into a vertical position…

Richard Parker: STARFALL BOMB!!

Nick Stuart: Or, CSILLAGHULLÁS BOMBA! Bathory is out to not only win the match, but possibly send Cancer Jiles on the shelf as he drops him ON HIS HEAD TO THE FLOOR!

Richard Parker: I TOLD YOU NO ONE WOULD CARE!

Some gasps cruise through the arena as the audience watches what could be an execution at hand. The New World Savior isn’t done picks up an unmoving Jiles, crimson mask and all, before charging him into the ring post. Jiles rebounds off the floor and Bathory picks up the steel stairs as Timo remains engaged with Violence Jack. Julian slams the steel steps across the body of Cancer, who spasms from the impact. Bathory reacts with a devilish grin, the deed done, and collects the limp body. He rolls Cancer into the ring and enters as VJ drops down and Timo watches Bathory make a cover!

ONE!

TWO!

….

THREE—FOOT ON THE ROPE!!!

Richard Parker: WHAT IN THE BLUE HELL!

Nick Stuart: It wouldn’t be true but for our eyes seeing it! Jiles is NOT done yet, by a mere inch of his toe on the rope!

Richard Parker: This is straight up BLASPHEMY!

The Prince of Tears is seeing red, and not from raked and poked eyes. He gets up and into the face of Timo, insisting the count was slow. Cancer struggles his way to his knees, only for Bathory to drop a 12-to-6 elbow that flattens Cancer.

Nick Stuart: That’s a clear sign that this match could be nearing it’s end.

Richard Parker: Yes. The real Great American Nightmare, of Jiles getting another Universal title shot, will soon be over. Thank MESSIAH!

Near fall or no, the Prince of Tears knows where this is leading, and waits on the Ascendant of Mount COOLYMPUS. One by one, Jiles uses the ropes to slowly right himself, breathing labored, yet his hair looking as immaculate as always. Looking to speed things up, Bathory rips Jiles off the ropes.

Richard Parker: YES! CHAOS REIGNS!!

Nick Stuart: NO! NO! COOLYMPIAN YOLJK HITS THE MARK!!

Richard Parker: NOOO! HOLD ONTO HIM BATHORY!

Too late, the Prince of Tears is rolling on the mat, trying to clear his face of the yellow mist. The COOLYMPIAN grabs the ropes for support but falls to the mat, exhaustion and blood loss setting in. He uses a forearm to clear his eyes before moving to a corner position.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 

Nick Stuart: Pretty sure I’ve seen this before.

Richard Parker: This would be a travesty, a farce, a FLEECING if Jiles pulled this one out. Don’t let this ungrateful stain on PRIME get away with it, Bathory.

Nick Stuart: You can’t deny that Jiles has found his way to multiple title shots, including as a finalist of the Almasy Invitational. Could one more shot be all he needs?

Richard Parker: Hey, I don’t have to like it! Stop rubbing in the fact of the matter as we’re about to live in that grim reality.

Cancer watches as The Prince of Tears rises, and fires off TERMINAL CANCER— NO! Whether through preparation or Bathory having his vision enough, he catches the leg of Jiles, spins him around and grabs him around the neck for CHAOS REIGNS– DENIED! The spilled blood of Cancer has slicked up Bathory’s arms, allowing Jiles to wriggle free. Bathory swings wildly to tag Jiles but misses, and Cancer clips the knee of The New World Savior. Seeing an opening, The COOLYMPIAN CONNECTS WITH TERMINAL CANCER!!

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 

Richard Parker: DON’T LET HIM!

Nick Stuart: JILES FALLS ON TOP OF BATHORY!

ONE!

TWO!

….

THREE! 

NO! NOT THREE!

Richard Parker: MESSIAH RISES!

Nick Stuart: By the width of a sheet of paper! Maybe! That was as close as it gets, and Timo now finds himself cornered by Cancer Jiles!

Richard Parker: TIMO JUST TOSS HIM! DQ!

For the moment, Timo finds enough restraint and tells Jiles to respect the stripes. Cancer spits blood onto the mat and picks up Bathory– ELDRITCH DRIVER! NO! Jiles holds on for dear life to The Prince of Tears. Jiles charges him into the corner and Timo has to dive out of the way, momentarily out of position.

That’s all he needs.

Nick Stuart: LOW BLOW! Cancer goes low on Bathory!

Richard Parker: Timo DIDN’T see that??

Nick Stuart: He had to retreat out of the corner, he couldn’t!

Jiles holds up Bathory using the corner as Timo pulls himself off the mat. Bathory’s face is etched in agony, so Cancer turns him and begins slamming his head on the top turnbuckle. Once. Twice. Three. Four times before leaving Bathory slumped against the turnbuckle and Jiles steps back, motioning for Julian to extract himself. As Bathory turns, not only does Terminal Cancer MISS but Cancer’s foot connects with an exposed turnbuckle that The Carpathian Devil tore the pad off of.

Nick Stuart: Jiles sticks the landing on the exposed ring and staggers! He turns right into CHAOS REIGNS!!

Richard Parker: DON’T LEAVE IT TO CHANCE!

Nick Stuart: Maybe he heard you because Julian Bathory is not done!

Richard Parker:  R’LYEH ANTHEM ’19! DO IT NOW!!

Nick Stuart: He has Jiles up and JILES WRIGGLES OUT TO THE SIDE! TERMINAL CANCER HITS!!

Richard Parker: This really is a nightmare.

Both men collapse on the ground, spent. They’ve been trying to annihilate each other with their best shots and the exertion has caught up.

Along with something else.

DING DING DING

Richard Parker: What the…? Did Bathory have his hand over Jiles? Please say yes.

Nick Stuart: The bell rang and Timo Bolamba is talking to Vince Howard.

Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been informed by Timo Bolamba that this match is a… TIME LIMIT DRAW!

The PRIME faithful are split, some displeased to not have a definitive winner, and an equal number are happy neither of these two will walk out with a title shot.

Nick Stuart: It’s not everyday you see two competitors throw their best shots, and not give in. This is what it means to compete for a chance at the Universal Championship! For Bathory and Jiles, the time expired leaving them and us with unanswered questions.

Richard Parker: We got to see these two almost kill each other, Jiles bled a gusher AND is denied the Universal Championship match at Ultraviolence! Not gonna lie, it’s better than it could have turned out.

Nick Stuart: I’m not sure where this leaves us, but I have to imagine we’ll hear a ruling one way or another soon enough. For now, we have plenty more action at Great American Nightmare, including the Five Star title match pitting Rezin against the champion, Hayes Hanlon! Before that, a brief ad break to regroup.

THE GOOD STUFF

In a quiet locker room, The Tower of Babel sits. The steel chair underneath him is a far cry from his Skull Throne, but it suffices. Ring gear on, his head is bowed, sweat dripping to the floor below. Elbows on his knees, he clasps the Universal Championship in his hands, deep in thought. 

The calm before the storm.

And within its eye, a young upstart barges in, breaking the silence. Hayes Hanlon, wound-up and immensely tense, bursts inside. Wide-eyed and almost vibrating, he walks up to the Tower of Babel, who in turn scans his eyes upwards toward him. 

Hayes Hanlon: Okay! (He claps his hands together) I’m ready! Don’t hold back.

Calmly, Youngblood stands from his seat without a word, putting his championship on the seat. His blank gaze contrasts the nervous and excitable visage of The Event Horizon.

Brandon Youngblood: Breathe out.

Hayes does.

SMACK!!!!!

Youngblood’s palm strikes through Hanlon’s cheek like a hot knife through butter. Hayes flounders to stay on his feet, planting a hand against the wall, his eyes rolling in every direction. Once he finds some semblance of balance, head still lolling, he stands back to Youngblood, holding up a finger while dazed and dizzy.

Hayes Hanlon: Yup, that’s the good stuff. Thanks. Stay golden, Champ.

The Five Star Stud turns on his heel and exits the locker room. Youngblood, for all his stoicism, surrenders a small, amused snort before sitting back on his makeshift Skull Throne and bowing his head.

Brandon Youngblood: You too, kid.

FIVE STAR TITLE TALE OF THE TAPE

FIVE STAR TITLE MATCH:HAYES HANLON (C) VS. REZIN

Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall with a thirty minute time limit, and will be for the FIVE STAR CHAMPIONSHIP!

wwwWWWOOOOOOMMMmmm…

wwwWWWOOOOOOMMMmmm…

wwwWWWOOOOOOMMMmmm…

The lights dim to black as the haunting blare of an air raid siren fills the Grand Garden Arena.

Nick Stuart: Better duck and cover, Richard!

Richard Parker: Forget it, I’m not getting under this table. The floor is sticky…

On the PRIMEView: a nondescript view of the desert. Then an ancient, pre-recorded voice echoes through the arena…

“We waited until the blast had passed…”

Off the words of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the PRIMEView is suddenly washed out in white light. Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” screeches in over the PA.

“Walked out of the shelter and then it was extremely solemn.”

When the light fades, the desert is aflame beneath the shadow of a rising mushroom cloud.

“We knew the world would not be the same.
“A few people laughed, a few people cried.
“Most people were silent.” 

Beneath the explosion footage, a wall of blinding white floodlights pour out through the entry-way.

“I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita:
“Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, he takes on his multi-armed form and says…”

A human figure appears before the wall of light. Recognizable features are completely silhouetted against the intense backlighting. It slowly strides through the curtain, casting a long shadow across the arena and over the PRIME ring. 

“’Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’”

The music cuts. Everything goes BLACK…

…and stays that way.

…still nothing.

Richard Parker: Um… okay, I’m confused, is this part of the entrance?

Nick Stuart: Not sure, partner…

A confused din spreads through the crowd, along with hundreds of phone lights. Peaking over the noise is an especially raspy and confused voice shouting through the darkness from the direction of the stage.

“HELLO?!”

A lighter flicks on. The confused face of REZIN appears.

Rezin: …what is the friggin HOLD-UP?!

The house lights, quite anticlimactically, return to their normal lighting scheme. 

Nick Stuart: What the…?

Rezin, revealed to be awkwardly standing alone on the stage, is looking around as if something was supposed to happen. When it doesn’t, he directs his angry glare at the production crew off to the side.

Rezin: Where’s the BANG?! There was SUPPOSED to be a BANG!!

Crew Member: Sorry, Mr. Rezin… we blew a fuse. Start it again from the top?

Rezin: …grrrRRRAAAHH SCREW IT!! The moment’s already been RUINED! Just cue the music…

The thrashing riffs of “Apocalyptic Havoc” by Goatwhore rip through the PA, but the Goat Bastard immediately begins giving the production team the signal to cut it.

Rezin: NO, DAMBIT, not THAT ONE! The NEW ONE! I swear, if you guys were any more USELESS, you could get jobs workin’ for the ELL-VEE-PEE-DEE!!

After a few moments, the PA debuts the Goat Bastard’s new entrance theme, Ministry’s cover of “Search and Destroy”, albeit to very little fanfare. Beyond aggravated by this point, Rezin impatiently stomps down the rampway while the crowd gets an open chance to heckle him over the botched entrance.

Nick Stuart: We apologize for the technical difficulties, folks.

Richard Parker: No! Do not apologize for this! This is hilarious!

Rezin takes his time down the rampway, caught up in trash-talking with the fans that are daring enough to laugh at his faux pas. Suddenly–

BAANNGG!!

Rezin: D’AAHH!!

Double mushroom crowd pyros suddenly EXPLODE on the sides of the stage, way past their intended cue, and the Goat Bastard is caught in such surprise that he is knocked off balance and sent rolling down the rampway!

Nick Stuart: OH!! Bit of a delayed reaction there…

Richard Parker: How much are we paying this effects team again?

The challenger tumbles the rest of the way down the ramp and finally lands on his ass at ringside, his face comically red and scowling. The PRIMEates laugh hysterically. 

Rezin pulls himself to his feet and dusts himself off. He slowly walks along the guardrail encircling the ring, loudly and brazenly insulting the ringside fans and getting the crowd hot. Al Jourgensen’s vocals finally come in to tell the full story.

“WELL I’M A STREET-WALKIN’ CHEETAH WITH A HEART FULL OF NAPALM!
“WELL I’M THE RUNAWAY SON OF THE NUCLEAR A-BOMB!”

A “MAIN EVENT HORIZON” sign gets torn out of the hands of a younger fan and ripped to pieces. One guy’s drink, hanging a little too far over the rail, gets plucked from his hand and thrown out over the crowd, dousing the first three rows in Coke and ice. The PRIMEates are livid! Rezin defiantly cackles in their faces!

“I AM THE WORLD’S FORGOTTEN BOY!
“THE ONE WHO SEARCHES AND DESTROYS!”

Nick Stuart: Look alive, Rich! He’s coming this way!

The Goat Bastard hops onto the commentary table to get himself elevated, daringly glares out into the crowd, and verbally savages the fans. Jeers and a volley of trash come raining back.

BOOOOOO!!

Richard Parker: STOP, you idiot! We’re getting pelted down here!

Rezin hops from the commentary table to the steps, the steps to the apron, and over the ropes to enter the ring. He scales a corner and takes a seat on the top turnbuckle, looking out over the sea of hostile fans surrounding him. His arms fan out into a cross-pose, acting like PRIME’s greatest pariah. The crowd lets him have it.

BOOOOOO!!

The Goat Bastard lets himself drop into the Tree of Woe position and continues to hang there, upside down while waiting on the champion, arms crossed over his chest, wild eyes watching the entrance…

High tempo beats kick in. The PRIME*View ignites. Deep space, soaring through the cosmos.

Screen shaking, approaching the enormous, light-halo’d sphere. The pull is inescapable. It takes over the screen, then blinks to nothing.

You know what time it is.

The intro to “Black Hole” by We Came as Romans blasts hard among pulsing white flash bulbs, revealing the silhouette of PRIME’s Five Star Champion.

Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to get Five Star!

Out walks The Event Horizon, his belt over shoulder. The arena erupts for the young Hayes Hanlon, emerging from the wall of white flashing lights. The first verse carries on, and as it crescendos, Hayes tilts his head back with eyes closed, takes a deep breath in through his nose, and slowly lifts the belt overhead in one hand. 

I FALL INTO A BLACK HOLE IN MY HEAAADDD!!!
REACH INTO THE DARKNESS FOR WHAT’S LEEEEFFTT!!
I’M FIGHTING THE GRAAAVITY!!
IT’S PULLING THE WORST PART OUT OF MEE!!

BLACK HOLE!!!

As the chorus fades, Hayes makes his march, belt draped across his shoulders like a sauna towel. Eyes peeled and trained on his challenger, the smallest of smiles behind his mustache.

Nick Stuart: Since his exit from the Almasy Invitational, Hayes Hanlon has been on a roll! Victorious against nine competitors in the Five Star Scramble to win the title, and successfully defending against Alexander Redding and Cecilia Ryan. But now he faces a different kind of opponent, some might say his polar opposite, in Rezin.

Richard Parker: The kid’s had a run, but he’d better check himself quick. Not everyone might notice, but that ego is starting to grow.

Climbing the steps, Hayes gives Rezin a half-assed salute with two fingers before climbing inside. He walks past The Goat Bastard with head held high, stepping onto the first rope. He turns to face ringside, throwing another glance to his opponent, before leaning back over the ringpost and laying his belt across his chest, arms outstretched wide to meet the chorus.

I FALL INTO A BLACK HOLE IN MY HEAAADDD!!!
REACH INTO THE DARKNESS FOR WHAT’S LEEEEFFTT!!
I’M FIGHTING THE GRAAAVITY!!
IT’S PULLING THE WORST PART OUT OF MEE!!

BLACK HOOOOOLE!!!

He hops down, meeting the remaining posts with a quick hoist of the belt while the music breaks down. Finally he hands the belt off to Ashley Barlow, who presents it to The Garden Arena. The crowd roars for the Five Star Stud, who finds his place in his corner, ready to put on a show.

Hanlon hands the Five Star title belt to referee Ashley Barlow, who raises it for all in the arena to see, as Rezin flips himself down from the cornerpost and psyches himself up for the match. Hanlon is unphased, as Barlow hands the belt ringside and gestures to both men, asking their readiness before ringing the bell.

DING DING

Nick Stuart: This one’s been brewing for a while, and it’s now the second time these two men have faced off for the title!

Richard Parker: Yeah, ever since Culture Shock, these two have been at it, and tonight they finally settle this once and for all.

Nick Stuart: It was at Culture Shock when Hanlon won the championship in a five-way match, with Rezin breaking up the deciding fall just a liiiiiiiiiiitle too late! And since then Rezin has antagonized Hanlon, leading up to THIS match.

Rezin and Hayes slowly step towards one another, staring each other down, ready to settle their rivalry once and for all, and determine who is worthy of the PRIME Five Star title…

…only for Rezin to roll out of the ring to a jeering Las Vegas crowd! Rezin saunters to the nearest camera and points to his own cranium tauntingly. He looks back at Hanlon, as Ashley Barlow starts counting him out.

Richard Parker: SMART strategy by the challenger, can’t run yourself too ragged in a big match like this!

ONE!

TWO!

Richard Parker: Stay out there till 9! You’ll be just like that scumbag Jiles. 

Nick Stuart: I don’t ever want to see that many ten counts again.

THREE!

FOUR!

Rezin nonchalantly rolls into the ring, and makes a lunge for the Five Star Champion’s legs and wraps around behind him, before leaning back to the ropes and stretching his arms out, tauntingly. The crowd is CLEARLY not enjoying this display of arrogance, and neither is Hayes Hanlon, as he unleashes an EXPLOSIVE right hand to Rezin’s jaw that knocks him back a little as the challenger flails his legs in panic! Hayes fires another right, and another, before winding his arm up, as the crowd goes wild!

Nick Stuart: And a huge haymaker on the way from Hanlon! 

WHAM!

Richard Parker: NOT GOOD! 

A MASSIVE haymaker from Hayes Hanlon sends Rezin over the top rope and onto his feet on the ringside floor, before tumbling backwards! The challenger is clutching his head as he struggles to recover, while Hanlon now follows suit to the outside of the ring! He grabs Rezin by his hair and sends him reeling with a headbutt that has him staggering into the guardrail, before appealing to the crowd! 

Nick Stuart: Dangerous man to pose against. 

Richard Parker: Doesn’t this kid ever figure this out… 

Hanlon soaks in the roars of the crowd, almost to the detriment of his focus on the match, before going back to work and grabbing Rezin by the scruff and whipping him into the nearest rail…

Nick Stuart: AND HE GAVE REZIN TOO MUCH TIME! 

…only for Rezin to hop onto the TOP of said guardrail, and leap off with a Rezinsault onto Hanlon, but the Event Horizon manages to CATCH Rezin mid-air, holding him over his shoulder! As Rezin flails and struggles to free himself, Hanlon points towards the nearest steel ringpost, and as the crowd ramps up in cheers, he rushes towards the post, launching Rezin face-first into the steel! Rezin ricochets off the post and rolls along the apron before landing on the floor yet again, as the crowd goes wild!

Richard Parker: That has to be illegal, Ashley, disqualify him! 

Nick Stuart: Richard, he used the ring, you can use the ring as a weapon. 

Richard Parker: YOU SAID IT’S A WEAPON!

The champion hypes the crowd up farther, before grabbing Rezin and rolling him back into the ring and following suit! Hanlon makes “c’mon, get up!” gestures at Rezin as he rolls around on the mat, looking for a way back up to his feet. As Rezin scrambles on the mat, Hanlon drives an elbow into his chest, before picking him up and wrapping his arms around Rezin’s waist and taking him over and down with a belly-to-belly suplex, followed by a cover!

Nick Stuart: Big belly-to-belly suplex by Hanlon there! 

ONE!

Richard Parker: Thank Hoyt. 

Rezin kicks out early, and seems to be finding a second wind, as he is slowly but surely rising up to one knee, an intense look carved on his face. He gets back up, and throws a haymaker into Hanlon’s face!

Richard Parker: FIGHT BACK YOU GOAT BASTARD! 

Nick Stuart: Can we say that about wrestlers?

Richard Parker: He says it about himself.

A low hum comes over the crowd as Hanlon barely registers the hit, and responds with a MEATY forearm that makes Rezin reel back into the ropes, only to bounce back and punch Hanlon again! This one actually dazes Hanlon a little, but the champion rallies on and waffles Rezin again! That punch also sends Rezin into the ropes, but THIS time, he spins into the air…

Nick Stuart: What a spinning heel kick by Rezin!

The Five Star Champion is knocked for a loop as he takes that spinning heel kick, but is just on the verge of falling over! He manages to catch himself and lumber towards Rezin…

Richard Parker: TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMBER!

Seeing an opening, Rezin jumps up and down and points down on Hanlon, before hustling up the ropes and landing a haphazard Rezinsault onto the champ for the pin!

ONE!

TWO!

HANLON KICKS OUT! REZIN IS BESIDE HIMSELF!

Richard Parker: JUST DIE KID! JUST DIE! 

Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon has a lot of fight left in him. He didn’t survive a roided up Cecilia Ryan and four other people in a five way just to lose like that. 

Rezin goes back onto the offensive, launching a salvo of kicks to the body of the Five Star Champion, and bounds off the ropes, only to get caught in a BIG powerslam for a cover!

ONE!

TWO!

Nick Stuart: NOT ENOUGH! Rezin survives!

Richard Parker: Someone get Hayes some drugs or something, I heard his brother OD’d a few weeks back. Maybe that’ll help Rezin get ahead.

Nick Stuart: That was really messed up Richard. 

Richard Parker: I’M NOT SORRY!

Rezin kicks out, but Hanlon is not discouraged, as he pulls his challenger back up to his feet and gets his hands on Rezin’s throat, signaling for the Epoch!

But Rezin manages to kick Hanlon in the breadbasket mid-lift, doubling the champion over long enough for Rezin to bound off the ropes and drive his face into the mat with a bulldog! The challenger bounds up the ropes, waiting for Hanlon to rise up, and plants a picture-perfect missile dropkick into the champ’s face! Rezin is on a roll, and scrambles to get the Five Star Champion to his feet, doubling him over and hooking his arms for the Inverted Cross Driver…

… which fails as Hanlon pushes Rezin off the ropes chest-first, which makes him bounce backwards and into a POWERFUL GERMAN SUPLEX!

Nick Stuart: What a display of explosive power by the Five Star Champion!

Richard Parker: No bridge, all impact, baby!

Hanlon rises to his feet and plays to the crowd while Rezin flops around like a fish out of water on the mat, before reaching into his tights and pulling out a joint! He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a lighter, and fires it up to the approval of the roaring crowd!

Nick Stuart: The champ having a little party time in the middle of the match!

Richard Parker: He better not get too comfy, or else his title reign’s gonna go up in smoke!

Nick Stuart: …you’ve been waiting a while to say that line, haven’t you?

Richard Parker: What, is it that obvious?

Rezin staggers to his feet, and blindly rushes towards Hanlon, who catches him and hoists him across his shoulders, before driving him to the mat with an impactful Samoan drop!

Hanlon covers Rezin and Ashley Barlow is right there with the count!

ONE!

TWO!

REZIN GETS A SHOULDER UP!

Nick Stuart: Another kick out! 

Richard Parker: C’MON DO SOMETHING! HE GOT THE DRUGS OUT AND EVERYTHING! 

Unfazed, the champion takes one last drag off his joint before passing it off to ringside and leaning into the corner, waiting for Rezin to get up!

Rezin is wobbling on his feet, something the reigning Five Star Champion notices as he lines up for the kill in the corner, hyping the crowd up and jogging in place, until Rezin staggers RIGHT into Hanlon’s path for a THUNDEROUS LARIAT that sends Rezin almost airborne, and the Event Horizon haphazardly rolling into the opposite corner! However, the Five Star Champion wastes no time in getting back up to his feet and signaling for the end!

Nick Stuart: What a Lariat from Hanlon. 

Richard Parker: Probably some cowboy from Texas who wished his was that good. 

Hanlon grabs Rezin by the hair to pull him back to his feet, then gets his hands on Rezin’s throat and hoists him up for another try at the Epoch…

CRACK!

Nick Stuart: And Rezin sneaks out the back door! 

But Rezin manages to pull himself together long enough to box Hanlon’s ears mid-lift, forcing him to drop Rezin back to his feet! The challenger rushes off the ropes, and unleashes ANOTHER Cloven Hoof Kick! This one, however, actually makes the champion drop to a knee and clutch his jaw until Rezin pulls him up back to his feet and puts the champ’s jaw over his shoulder, before taking the big leap…

WHUMP!

Richard Parker: YES! YES! THE DRUGS WORKED! 

Nick Stuart: I don’t think it was the drugs, but what a move by Rezin!

Rezin drives Hanlon’s skull into the mat with Into the Void! The challenger is dazed for a second, but rushes over to drape an arm over Hanlon’s chest, and Ashley Barlow is there to count!

ONE!

TWO!

THREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

DING DING DING

Hayes is unable to kick out in time, and Rezin rolls onto his back as the referee reaches to the timekeeper for the belt!

Vince Howard: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, here is your winner…

…and NEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWW! FIVE STAR CHAMPION

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

REZIIIIIIIIIIIIN!!!

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Ministry’s cover of “Search and Destroy” begins anew as Ashley puts the belt on Rezin’s chest, causing him to look down and beam with excitement as he realizes he just won!

Richard Parker: I can’t believe it! That crusty punk rock piece of gutter trash did it!

Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon can’t believe it either

Richard Parker: And he even looked like a capable wrestler! Miracles do happen!

Nick Stuart: Don’t say that too loud, they might hear you in Chicago. We’ve got to take a quick commercial break. Don’t go anywhere!

*AIRHORN TIMES THREE*

PRIMEporium.

(…don’t make me say it.)

The usual table. Anna Daniels has her feet upon it. Earbuds on. She sees the camera drone and motions it to come over. She then taps on a sign.

Keeping PRIME’d for match.
Don’t mind the Resting Bitch Face.

A tap to another.

Buy the shirt, you fucking cowards.

A point to the NEW ERA shirts. And you’re thinking “big deal. We’ve seen this before.” Well, wait a second, scooter. There’s more. Another tap. Another sign.

Buy this one too.
Because it’s true.

UNIVERSAL TITLE TALE OF THE TAPE

UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH:BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD (C) VS. IMPULSE

Lights.

Cheers.

Cannonball.

“HEY HEYYYYYY!!!!!
HEY HEYYYYYY!!!!!”

Nick Stuart: I’ve been looking forward to this one all night, Richard! Impulse and Brandon Youngblood arguably gave the match of the tournament up to Culture Shock, and we’ve been waiting for the rematch ever since! 

Richard Parker: And I’m glad it’s come true, the last thing I’d wanna see is Cancer Jiles defending the strap. And let’s not forget that Impulse nearly got upset bbyt Tapioca Puddings of all opponents. Regardless, the last few meetings between Youngblood and Knox have felt a little testy. I think we’re going to see battle tonight.

As Impulse enters the arena with Cally a step behind, he stops for a moment to appreciate the size and volume of the crowd that’s here to see him wrestle in his biggest opportunity in PRIME so far. He takes a deep breath and taps his fist against his chest in a sign of appreciation and acknowledgement of their reaction.

Cally, on the other hand, is the same as ever, waving, blowing kisses, with a smile that never fades. She has what looks like a small cooler bag over her shoulder.

Nick Stuart: The Champion made the comment at ReViVal 10 that this would be a brutal match, possibly trying to shake Impulse’s confidence – or Cally’s. And that could be a way to gain the psychological edge. 

Richard Parker: She’s a cute kid but if Knox wants to have her at ringside, he’s gotta face the fallout.

The hardcore wrestling fans among the PRIMEates appear to be out in full force tonight, with Impulse taking his time to get to the ring to slap every outstretched hand – which appears to be all of them. Having had experience in this field, Cally makes sure to stay close by him, and she seems to have almost as many requests for a second or two of time. 

Fist bumps as they hit the ringside area, Impulse slides under the bottom rope and climbs to the middle of the middle, facing the hard camera with a fist in the air.

Nick Stuart: The challenger looks ready, Richard! He’s giving up height, weight, and experience to the Universal Champion, but I would be hard pressed to underestimate his resolve! 

Richard Parker: Brandon Youngblood underestimates Impulse, he loses the title. Guaranteed, but guaranteed he knows that. Why is she coming this way? 

His train of thought is broken up by Cally, stopping in front of the table and dropping her bag down on top of it. 

Cally: Didn’t get your order tonight, Richie! 

Nick Stuart: “Richie?”

She opens the bag. 

Shaker. Gin. Glass. Gin in shaker, shake it up. Gin in glass, bottle of olives. Spear three, in the glass, and serve.

Twenty seconds. 

Cally: Tip your servers! 

And with that, she slides into the ring and puts a reassuring hand on Impulse’s back as he stretches out, listening to Timo’s instructions.

Nick Stuart: Well then.

Richard Parker: I’m almost afraid to taste it.

The PRIMEview shifts from the ring to the backstage locker rooms, the percussive beat of “Trust Me” by Brad Fiedel powering through the MGM Grand Garden Arena sound system. The capacity crowd rises to their feet as a door explodes open, roaring when they see the PRIME Universal Champion, Brandon Youngblood, step on the other side.

The mood and tenor changes, as inside the arena the lights have dimmed. All attention is paid to the screen, the stride of the Tower of Babel resolute, his expression focused and intense. The vaunted Universal Championship belt is slung over his shoulder, held in place with a clasped hand.

Nick Stuart: And as they say…things just got real awfully fast.

Richard Parker: Notice he doesn’t have a martini in his hand.

Nick Stuart: The Universal Champion, Brandon Youngblood, day eighty-five of his reign. Could tonight be the last? The last time Brandon was in the ring with Impulse, it took everything he had, and a bit of controversy, to survive.

Richard Parker: You going to tell that to his face? Because I’m sure he’d love to hear that, Nick.

Nick Stuart: A last second shift of his shoulder off a bridging suplex. Brandon has said he wants five more minutes. That his reign as Universal Champion still lingers in doubt until he clears this one hurdle. Impulse wants the answer to his own question…was it a fluke? Was he the one that was lucky, or was he on the way to Culture Shock if he didn’t make one simple mistake?

He moves, undaunted, through the locker room hallway. The hallway transitions from locker room doors to the backstage, to the metal supports and the black drapery making up the lead to the entrance ramp. The Universal Champion never wavers, always looking forward on the path he is on. 

Nick Stuart: This isn’t a blood feud. It’s a challenge of who is the better wrestler. These two men take pride in the craft, the sport of professional wrestling. Beyond championships, beyond controversies…this match up is about something else; pride.

Richard Parker: When you get into those weeds, it IS a blood feud. They might not want to hurt the other, but they’re going to look at the other with resentment. ‘The fact that this guy has the audacity to even challenge me in my ring like we are equals’. You can give handshakes and flowers and all that nonsense, but at the end of the day, if you’re competing at the highest level, there is a demand from the self to prove you’re better.

As he neared the steps leading to the Argyle Position, the camera stops, now shooting his back as he ascends and turns, his hand throwing back the curtain. He disappears, the cameraman lingering, the soundtrack having reached its final beats. The fans are ready. And as the show goes back to the arena, we can see the fever pitch is about to reach another level in a few short moments.

The first time ended in controversy.

A lingering question.

Tonight, only answers.

BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN

“Bloodsport (World Domination)” by HEALTH. A wall of dominant noise surges through the arena, an absolutely raucous ovation erupting within the MGM Grand Garden Arena as Brandon Youngblood appears on the entrance ramp, bathed in flickering crimson and white lights.

Nick Stuart: A raucous ovation for the Universal Champion!

Richard Parker: It’s so loud I can barely think! They’re shaking my damn martini!

There is no pause from the Universal Champion to soak in his cheers, instead, with purpose, The Last Diamond marches to the ring, his eyes toward Impulse and Calico Rose. His oppressive scowl of intensity says it all. Cally reassures the Marathon Man that he’s got this, to not get psyched out, but he never wavers, even as the gooseflesh rippling up his arms may note otherwise. This very well could be his one shot, and not only that, his one chance to ascend to the top of a promotion he gladly calls home. A foreign concept after resented employment from the litany of companies he’d wrestled in before.

All that stands in his way is the very embodiment of PRIME.

Nick Stuart: Neither man wavers here. Not even Cally. The Unfinished Business Tour of Brandon Youngblood is about to begin its final stop, and there is no place you’d rather be if you’re a fan of professional wrestling!

Perhaps her reassurances aren’t for Randall, but rather, herself. Brandon’s words, his claim of what this match would entail, carried with it an air of dread. She grabs hold of Impulse, kissing his cheek, whispering in his ear. The messenger isn’t important. The message is.  

There is no walking along the ringside area, no slowdown as the Universal Champion stomps his way up the steps and into the ring. Once inside, Youngblood begins pacing around the outside perimeter of the ring, his eyes locked on Impulse the entire time. Regardless, Vince Howard is ready to let the PRIMEates know.

Vince Howard: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, OUR NEXT MATCH IS SCHEDULED FOR ONE FALL WITH A SIXTY MINUTE TIME LIMITAND IS FOR THE UNIVERSAL!!! CHAAAMPIONSHIIPPP!!!!

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

Vince Howard: The Challenger! Hailing from New York, New York! His record stands at five wins, one loss! Standing five feet, ten inches tall and weighing in at one-hundred ninety-one pounds!! He is your NUMBER ONE CONTENDER!!!!!

A rise from the crowd, and Impulse throws one arm in the air to The Garden.

Vince Howard: THE MARATHON MAN!! IIIIIIIMPUUULLLSSEEE!!!

Cally screams for RK at ringside, turning to the crowd and lifting her arms up and down. Impulse surrenders a small smile, but it’s short lived to train his eyes back to the Tower of Babel.

Vince Howard: And his opponent…

The MGM Grand begins to swell. 

Vince Howard: From Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, standing six feet, three inches, and weighing in at two-hundred and eighty pounds!!

The rafters start to shake.

Vince Howard: He is UNDEFEATED in the ReVival Era, and your REIGNING UNIVERSAL CHAMPION!!!!

The PRIMEates crescendo with a deafening din, and The Last Diamond slowly lifts the Universal Championship belt overhead with one hand, with heavy eyes locked on his opponent’s.

Vince Howard: BRANDON!!! YOOOOOUUUUNNGGGBLOOOOOODDDD!!!!!!

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

Timo collects the belt from the Champ, hoisting it overhead and showing it to all corners of the bellowing arena. He hands it off ringside, checks in with the competitors, then calls for the bell.

DING DING

A long staredown. Chins up. Shoulders back. Feet rooted. The Marathon Man and The Last Diamond give the MGM Garden ample time to settle their rolling appreciation.

Nick Stuart: You nearly taste the tension, partner! And speaking of which, how’s that martini?

Richard Parker: It’s…strong. But you’re right. If there were any pleasantries left, they’re out the window.

As the din steadies, Youngblood is first to take a step, crouching slightly and strafing to his right. Impulse returns in kind, side-stepping counter clockwise and at the ready. Two gladiators waiting for the moment to strike. A lunge forward from the Champion, easily side-stepped from the Challenger. Another feint, and Impulse refuses to bite, light on his feet as he hops back. Youngblood lowers his stance, hands out and ready to grapple. Impulse responds in similar fashion, though cautiously.

Nick Stuart: Impulse taking a defensive approach to start this match. A controversial finish at ReVival 5 must be looming in his mind. He won’t want to make any mistakes.

Richard Parker: Nothing controversial about it. Shoulders were down, and the count hit three.

A fake to the right, then a hard lunge from the Champ, shooting for RK’s waist, but the swift opponent side-steps, taking advantage with a forearm just under Youngblood’s ear. Impulse thumps him with another, and the Tower of Babel pivots, staying calm while taking the hit. He goes for another grab, but Knox spins away from his grasp.

Nick Stuart: More defense from The Marathon Man, avoiding the Champ’s grip.

Richard Parker: Can’t argue that tactic. What do you even DO when BY gets ahold of you?

Youngblood pursues, bursting forward quicker. Another dodge from Randall, retreating to the next corner. Another half-lunge, and another skip away. A third attempt forces Impulse to jump into the ropes to evade Brandon’s grasp, using the rebound leap and throw his legs around the Champ’s head.

Nick Stuart: And Knox makes a move! Looking for the takedown!

BY is able to stop the momentum and keep himself from going over, using his size advantage to try and wrap up The Marathon Man. Impulse is ready however, and quickly swings his legs around, his feet hitting the ground and allowing him to pivot and spin away from the Tower of Babel’s grip. However, as he re-balances, Youngblood advances and wraps him up stomach to stomach, lifting up and to the side, slamming Impulse hard to the mat.

Nick Stuart: Belly to belly suplex from Youngblood! Finally able to catch Knox!!

Richard Parker: About time we saw a little action!

Youngblood mounts the challenger, throwing a few stiff elbows and taking advantage of his size. Impulse squirms, arms up to block the assault. The Champ eventually relents, and opts to plant his feet and pull Impulse with him. A powerful headlock sinches Knox in, who fights to pull BY’s bicep away from his skull. Youngblood adjusts his feet to counter Randall’s efforts, wrenching him left and right to maintain control.

Richard Parker: God, it’s like a shark with a seal!

Nick Stuart: I don’t know if that’s the right comparison, but Youngblood’s pulling no punches tonight!

Impulse, firm in The Last Diamond’s grasp, throws a hard elbow into the stomach. A second, then a third, and just when Youngblood is ready to release, he hooks a leg inside RK’s and sends the back of his head to the mat.

Nick Stuart: Stiff Russian Legsweep! Youngblood going for an early pin!

ONE!

TWO!

T…KICKOUT!

A shoulder up from The Marathon Man is not unexpected, and Youngblood mounts him once more, smothering him from a side-mount. A handful of forearms lead to a couple knees to the obliques. An elbow keeps Impulse dizzy, and the Champ wraps him around the midsection, deadlifting him up and sending him overhead.

Nick Stuart: Youngblood with the grip around Impulse, deadlift him up with ease. Heaving him back, OH! Belly to back suplex to The Marathon Man!

Richard Parker: Suplex Daddy getting it going!! Another pin!

Youngblood drops down for another cover, and Head Referee Balomba starts the count.

ONE!

TWO!

TH…KICKOUT!

Nick Stuart: Shoulder up! Impulse won’t let this one slip away early!!!

Again, Youngblood stays on task, and Cally shows some concern from the sidelines, biting a lip before slapping the mat to cheer Impulse on. Youngblood drives another knee, another forearm, and again stands up the Marathon Man.

Nick Stuart: Impulse to his feet, Youngblood gripping the wrist and whipping him off the ropes. Knox off the ropes, the Champ ducking low for a backdrop…Impulse with the hurdle! 

Landing clean on his feet, RK bounds off the ropes again towards Youngblood as he turns. Impulse slides low, scissoring his legs for a legsweep and toppling the Tower of Babel.

Nick Stuart: And a response from Knox!! A baseball slide takedown brings the Champ to the mat!

Close to the ropes, Impulse rolls quickly to the apron, gripping the top rope as he pops to his feet, then after a hop and a slingshot, flys over the top rope to catch the standing Youngblood with a clothesline.

RAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

Nick Stuart: SLINGSHOT CLOTHESLINE! Impulse finding his window and taking the shot!

Richard Parker: He’s gonna have to keep that up, playing possum will only get him so far.

Impulse catches his breath for a quick moment, but the Champ is quick to roll to a knee. Randall is quicker, however, popping to his feet and dropping Youngblood’s head to the mat with a legdrop across the back of his neck, following up with another. Then, taking advantage of the momentum, takes Youngblood by the leg and lifts it back over his hip, squatting down as the Champ growls in pain.

Nick Stuart: And The Marathon Man locks in a single leg Boston Crab on the previously injured knee!!

Richard Parker: Oooh man, I hope that thing has held up well enough!

Youngblood seethes, slamming a fist into the ground. Impulse holds on tight, squatting lower and pulling back harder. Timo drops down to address The Last Diamond, who keeps shaking his head.

Nick Stuart: Cancer Jiles notoriously did everything he could to destroy that knee at ReVival 7, and The Last Diamond recovered in timely fashion! And now that same knee is in the grasp of The Marathon Man! 

Richard Parker: Youngblood’s blood vessels are about to burst, look at his eyes!!

Wild-eyed, Youngblood crawls forward on his forearms, bit by bit. Impulse has no choice but to shuffle with him to maintain the hold. Balomba follows as BY grits his teeth, fighting his way to the ropes.

Nick Stuart: The Champ clawing for the ropes!!!! He needs to get there quick!

He’s only a couple feet away, reaching forward but just short. Impulse does his best to drag him further back into the ring, but another surge forward and a lunge of the arm gives Youngblood the distance necessary to wrap his hand around the bottom rope.

And naturally, Knox elects to hold on a little longer.

Nick Stuart: And The Universal Champion holds on a little longer!!

Richard Parker: And so does Impulse!

Impulse releases The Last Diamond at the count of five, offering no resistance to Timo Balomba. Brandon pulls himself upright, shaking his leg out for a moment, but a chop across the chest interrupts him. 

Nick Stuart: A sharp chop across the chest from Knox! He doesn’t want to lose his momentum!

The chop gives Youngblood pause, almost offended at the notion, until RK chops him across the chest again.

Richard Parker: That might be a mistake…

A wince from the Tower of Babel, and Knox follows with a third stiff chop. And then, with absurd impact, Youngblood responds with an absolutely eardrum-popping knife edge chop to The Marathon Man, flattening him to his back in an instant.

OOOOHHHHHH!

Nick Stuart: OOOOH MMYYYYY!!!! AN ABSOLUTELY WICKED KNIFE EDGE TO IMPULSE!!

Richard Parker: (coughing) Oh…oh man…I just choked on an olive…

The Champ drops down for a mount, a barrage of forearms and elbows ensue as Impulse covers up. Back to their feet, Youngblood whips RK hard into the turnbuckle, charging behind and clobbering him with a big lariat into the corner.

SMACK

OOOOHHHHHH!

Nick Stuart: And ANOTHER bone-cracking chop from the Champion! What a sound!!

The strike is easily audible throughout the arena, nearly busting Knox open. He leans over, clutching at his chest and in visible pain. Cally covers her mouth on the side, eyes wide with concern. The Champ pulls Impulse away from the corner, hucking him across the ring with another whip and sending him slamming into the turnbuckle.

Nick Stuart: Youngblood chucking RK across the ring, BIG slam into the corner. The Champ charging forward, looking for another lariat…IMPULSE OVER HIS HEAD!! An incredible show of athleticism!!!

Impulse, digging down deep, manages to leverage himself off the ropes over the charging Youngblood, twisting 180 and landing on his feet behind him. He wraps the larger man up, and with a big breath and mighty hoist, heaves the Tower of Babel over and and crashes him to the mat.

Nick Stuart: AND A BELLY-TO-BACK SUPLEX ON THE LAST DIAMOND!! 

Richard Parker: Youngblood has almost 100 pounds on him!! How do you get a guy like that over your head???

It’s a rumble in the MGM Grand. BY’s heavy body stirring a moment after the impact and Impulse still wincing in pain from the devastating knife edge chops. Cally smacks the apron with both hands, electric after the huge suplex and once again throwing her hands up for the crowd to join her. First to his feet is Knox, fighting through the pain. He throws himself against the ropes, catching Youngblood in the teeth with a baseball slide before he can get up.

Nick Stuart: A baseball slide from Knox and a little dental work for the Champ. RK to his feet, Youngblood standing and checking his lip. Impulse waiting…dropkick!!

Youngblood reels, stumbling away and into the corner after Impulse connects the standing dropkick. RK kips up to his feet quickly and rushes in, leaping to connect a jumping forearm smash across Youngblood’s face. Another follows, just before Impulse leaps to connect another standing dropkick to the Universal Champion in the corner. 

Nick Stuart: And another!! Impulse is on fire!!

Richard Parker: The Champ better get it together quick! Impulse is dangerous when he finds his flow!!

Youngblood stumbles forward after the leaping strike, and Randall Knox, with all his strength, dips and hoists the 280 pound Brandong Youngblood over his shoulders, barely keeping balance before tilting him to the mat with a hefty, gravity-assisted Samoan drop.

OOOOHHHHHH!

Nick Stuart: WHAT A SHOW OF STRENGTH FROM IMPULSE!! HE GOES FOR THE COVER!!

 RK hooks a leg, looking for a pin, and Timo Bolamba is ready for the count.

ONE!

TWO!

TH…KICKOUT!

Nick Stuart: SHOULDER UP!!!!

Richard Parker: And the Champ! Says! NO!!

Youngblood’s arm is thrust high into the air, defying the count. Randall Knox catches his breath while on his knees, wheels turning in his head as what to do next. He looks to Cally at ringside for support. 

And then he looks up top.

Nick Stuart: It looks like Knox is looking topside!

Richard Parker: Against The Last Diamond, you have to use every piece of your tool set.

However, before any thoughts of high flying come to fruition, The Marathon Man takes the opportunity to mount the downed Youngblood himself, keeping the Tower down with a volley of forearms. Then, with swift efficiency, throws himself to his back while wrapping up Youngblood’s arm, locking in an efficient armbar. 

Nick Stuart: Maybe not!! An armbar attempt from Knox!!

Richard Parker: If the knee won’t break, maybe the elbow will!! But I don’t think he’ll have the leverage!

The Last Diamond grits his teeth and flexes his arm in, keeping Impulse from locking it out completely, his size and strength advantage the only thing saving him from a perfectly executed submission. Youngblood shifts his hips, looking for ropes to grip, but they’re too center ring to reach. So he keeps pulling his arm in against the wrenching Randall Knox. 

Nick Stuart: Not a good place for the Champ right now, the ropes are too far away!!

Richard Parker: But Impulse can’t lock it out! Youngblood’s keeping that elbow bent with everything he has!

Realizing the joint won’t give, Knox releases the hold, leaving Youngblood center-ring and clutching his elbow. Meanwhile, The Marathon Man scurries to the corner, hopping up to the top and prompting the PRIMEates of the MGM Grand to pull out their phones.

Nick Stuart: And now Impulse takes to the sky!!

Richard Parker: Watch out, Youngblood!!

With a deep breath he leaps, and gainers into the air among the screens and flashbulbs.

Nick Stuart: Knox in the air! Flipping around!! NOBODY HOME!!

Richard Parker: BIG MISS!!

Nobody home indeed. The Champ rolls to his stomach out of harms way as the splash from Impulse’s Shooting Star Press meets nothing but canvas. Impulse clutches his stomach while BY catches his breath, propped on his forearms. The crowd rises and roars, urging the competitors to continue. Youngblood finds a knee for support, and Knox clutches the middle rope. Each inching their way to standing positions.

Nick Stuart: These two are going HARD! Looking somewhere for an upper hand!!

Richard Parker: Speaking of hands…

Once on his feet, Youngblood takes measured steps to the ropes to meet Impulse, saying “hello again” with an open-palm CLAP against the ear. Impulse reels, almost dropping back to his knees, but responds with a chop against the chest, forcing Youngblood to take a step back. An overarm club to RK’s shoulders, and a stiff elbow into Brandon’s gut, then a bear hug from The Universal Champion, gripping The Marathon Man Tight and working to lift him off the ground.

Nick Stuart: The Champ has RK wrapped up! This is the LAST place Impulse wants to be!

Richard Parker: Impulse is gonna be a couple inches taller after that bear hug!

Youngblood maintains the hold, RK’s arms stuck within the squeeze of Suplex Daddy’s. BY takes the opportunity to deliver a stiff headbutt to RK’s skull, followed by another. Then another, before The Champ hurls him back to the mat with a heavy THUD.

Nick Stuart: BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! YOUNGBLOOD WITH THE COVER!

ONE!

TWO!

THRE…KICKOUT!

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!

Nick Stuart: AND IMPULSE WON’T GO DOWN!!

Growling at his challenger and at the defiant arm in the air, Youngblood is viscous as he stands, wrenching Knox along with him. A push against the ropes and Youngblood assists the momentum, throwing Impulse across the ring and into the ropes. The Marathon Man rebounds, and a ducking Youngblood explodes upward and catapults him through the air, an one-and-a-half spin leaving Knox to hammer into the mat face first.

OOOOOOOOHHHHHH!!!

Nick Stuart: HUUUUUGE BACKDROP!! 

Richard Parker: Check your teeth, Knox!

The Last Diamond follows after the impact, crouching to lock Knox into a half-nelson and dragging him upright.

Nick Stuart: And the half-nelson is locked in! This could be it!!

Richard Parker: It has to be, Knox is getting battered!

Impulse goes flying ass-over-tea kettle, landing hard on his shoulders and back-rolling to his stomach. Youngblood pivots on a knee and rolls Impulse over to his back, looking for the pin.

ONE!

TWO!

THREE…KICKOUT!

Nick Stuart: And ANOTHER shoulder up!!! Unbelievable!!

Richard Parker: Where does this guy find it? 

Brandon’s chest heaves heavily, that defiant arm of Impulse once again thrust into the air. A frustrated growl leads to a mountsmothering him with an onslaught of elbows and forearms. Impulse turns over to avoid the barrage, giving Youngblood the opportunity to lock him up from the back, and after a strong deadlift up, The Universal Champ seconds the Number One Contender overhead with a German suplex. Knox hits the mat hard on his shoulders and base of the neck, back-rolling over and landing in a seated position in the corner. 

Nick Stuart: Another big suplex from Youngblood! How many can Knox take??

Richard Parker: Suplex Daddy doing what he does best, Nick!

Youngblood meets him in the corner as Impulse struggles to stand. A couple stiff elbows keep The Marathon Man dazed. BY drags him center, then shoves him off the ropes. He cocks back and drives forward looking for a lariat….

OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHH!!!!!!!

but meets the sole of his opponent’s boot against his jaw.

Nick Stuart: OOOOOOOOH MY GOODNESS!!!!!! SUDDEN IMPACT!!! SUDDEN IMPACT FROM IMPULSE!!

Richard Parker: Where did that come from!!?? He must have cracked a few teeth!!!

The Garden rumbles. The Tower of Babel toppled and collapsed to the floor after the swat to the jaw. Impulse falls against the ropes for support, absolutely exhausted. Calico Rose is going nuts ringside, begging RK to finish the job. ‘Pulse digs deep into those legendary reserves, dropping to his knees to hook the leg.

Nick Stuart: This may be it!! We may have a new champ!! Bolamba with the count!!

ONE!

TWO!

THRE…SHOULDER UP!!!

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!

Nick Stuart: AND YOUNGBLOOD WON’T GO DOWN!!!

Richard Parker: That is INSANE!

Knox tilts his head back in disbelief, eyes closed and breathing heavily. Youngblood’s arm reaches stiff into the sky. Randall looks to Cally with a nod, forces himself to his feet, and gets back to work. Impulse wraps the Champ’s head up in a headlock from a knee. Youngblood, woozy, pulls a leg underneath, trying to stand. Knox stands, maintaining the hold, then runs toward the corner leaping onto the buckle, spinning back into the ring, slamming Youngblood back to the mat.

Nick Stuart: Beautiful maneuver from Impulse! He needs to keep the pressure if he’s going to get the three count!

Youngblood on his back, Impulse rolls to the apron, slingshotting over the top to connect a leg drop. Off the ropes and he drops a forearm across his face. Keeping the train rolling, a hop off the middle rope and jumping backward lands a press across BY’s chest. Youngblood rolls to his side, clutching his abdomen and getting to a knee, only to find Impulse wrapping him up and planting the top of his head with a DDT.

Nick Stuart: And the hits keep on coming!! It looked like Youngblood had Impulse battered and beaten, but The Marathon Man has absolutely surged!!

Richard Parker: How did he kick out of that suplex, how did he pull off that superkick??

Back upright, Knox pushes Youngblood into the ropes. A chop to the chest, a forearm to the jaw, keeping the Champ from recovering. A heavy push against the ropes and Knox heaves the Tower’s frame across the ring. Youngblood rebounds, and is met with a spinning wheel kick to send him back to the mat. Rejuvenated, Impulse hops up, eyeing the downed Champion, breathing heavily.

And then, looking up top once more, he heads to the turnbuckle.

Nick Stuart: Knox looks to the skies once more!!

Knox climbs, the Arena bellowing for another spectacle. Youngblood stirs, elbows pushing into the mat for leverage. Impulse squares himself up, and takes another deep breath, before taking flight.

Nick Stuart: Another Shooting Star Press!! This could be it for the Champ!!

A high arcing gainer. Flashbulbs capture the graceful image as he reaches his peak.

But the Champ has rolled to a knee.

Nick Stuart: Youngblood is up!!!

Richard Parker: Oh JESUS…

As Impulse almost finishes his rotation, The Last Diamond lunges upward, catching The Marathon Man’s abdomen against his shoulder with perfect timing, and finishing with an awful, thundering slam to the mat, flattening the challenger with crushing force.

OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nick Stuart: GOOD GOD!!! SPINEBUSTER!! A SICKENING SPINEBUSTER!! CAUGHT FROM MID-FLIP!!!

Richard Parker: WHAT THE FU…

Impulse lays splayed out, unmoving. Youngblood on his hands and knees in front of him, gassed out and trying to his best to find oxygen. Cally sands shell-shocked ringside. And the MGM Grand is an absolute mad house.

Nick Stuart: I can’t believe what I just saw!! Youngblood somehow set himself up to catch Impulse just as he came around from the Shooting Star Press!

Richard Parker: Did you hear that?? His back must be broken!

Knox reaches an arm up aimlessly, barely conscious at this point. The Champ staggers to his feet, breathing fire through his nostrils in sharp bursts. The end is near. 

Almost.

Nick Stuart: But the Champ. Isn’t. Done.

Richard Parker: Look away, Cally. 

The Tower of Babel stalks over behind Impulse’s head, reaching down to hook his arms and pull his body upright. Unfortunately, The Marathon Man can’t offer much of a fight as Youngblood locks him into a half nelson. With a roar and an explosive drive through his legs, The Universal Champion heaves back and sends Knox over, landing him high-angle against the back of his skull amongst the frenzying, bloodthirsty roars of the MGM Garden Arena.

Nick Stuart: second half-nelson suplex!

Richard Parker: That’s it. It has to be!

Sitting up from the mat, and knowing the work is done, The Last Diamond pivots around to a knee before laying across Impulse’s unmoving body, hooking the leg and making very, very sure that those shoulders are flat on the mat. Timo, per usual, is ready for the count.

ONE!!

TWO!!

THREE!!!!

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!!

DING DING DING

Vince Howard: YOOOOUURRRR WINNER!!! AAANDDDD STIIILLLLL UNIVERSAL CHAMPION…BRRRAAAAANDONNN! YOOOUUNNNGGBLLOOOOOODDDD!!!!!!

Helth’s “World Domination” hits the arena hard once more. Cally has dove into the ring almost before Vince Howard can finish announcing the victor. Youngblood stands, giving her room. Timo receives the Universal Title from ringside, presenting it to the defending champion, who grips the strap in one hand and throws it into the air with a mighty roar.

Nick Stuart: AND THE DIAMOND AGE CONTINUES! BRANDONG YOUNGBLOOD WITH THE VICTORY!!

Richard Parker: 7 and 0, baby!!

Nick Stuart: That wraps up the first half of Great American Nightmare!! Your Universal Champion remains atop his Skull Throne!! We’re taking a brief intermission, and get yourselves ready for the second half!! TWO Number One Contender matches! The battle for the Intense Championship! And the finale to Survivor, with the Blue Live Crew up against Fighting for Nora for the tag belts!! We’ll be right back!

As we start to fade out, The Universal Champion makes his rounds, meeting each ringpost with feet on the bottom ropes and the belt in the air. One more skull for the Skull Throne, and another notch in the Diamond Age.

INTERMISSION

DARIN ZION VS. FLAMBERGE

Vince Howard: Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back to the Great American Nightmare! The following contest is scheduled for one fall and has a 20 minute time limit. Introducing first…

“Happy Song” by Bring Me the Horizon cues up and Darin Zion makes his way to the ring.

Vince Howard: …from Chicago, Illinois…weighing in at 225 pounds….”REAL LOVE” DARIN ZION!

BOOOOOOOOOOO!

Nick Stuart: We’ve got Darin Zion in action here tonight representing the Love Convoy, and unfortunately his partners in crime, Jonathan-Christopher Hall and Vickie Hall, aren’t here this evening.

Richard Parker: And for good reason, Nick. Vickie Hall’s sister is getting married later this month and she’s been called away for wedding duties. Who better to be your matron of honor than the Woman of Wonder?

Nick Stuart: I dunno…anyone?

“Dangereux” by IAM cues up and the PRIMEates give the youngster from Strasbourg, France a mostly positive reaction. FLAMBERGE walks briskly through the curtain, not reacting to the fans around him.

Vince Howard: And his opponent…from Strasbourg, France…weighing in at 206 pounds…FLAMBERGE!!!!

Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE entering the arena on his own once again, Richard…we saw on ReVival 10 that he’s shed the help of his father and marketing agent, Daniel Darby. 

Richard Parker: It didn’t work out for him so well against that scumbag Jiles.

Nick Stuart: It’s a brand new day and a brand new opponent, Rich.

FLAMBERGE has just slipped in-between the ropes when Darin Zion bulrushes him from the corner and levels him with a big clothesline! Elvis Nixon calls for the bell and we’re underway!

DING DING

Nick Stuart: The veteran Darin Zion’s not letting FLAMBERGE get a moment to compose himself in his first supershow match. He’s dropped to the mat and is raining rights and lefts down on the youngster’s head.

Richard Parker: It’s tough love, baby! Even members of the LOVE CONVOY will tell you that sometimes tough love is needed when it comes to combat!

Zion rips FLAMBERGE off the canvas and sends him across the ring with a big Irish whip. With a head of steam, he darts in after the Frenchman and leaps with a BIG uppercut! FLAMBO’s seeing stars and Zion keeps the pressure on with multiple knife-edge chops!

Elvis Nixon tells Zion to take it out of the corner and he does, looking for another Irish whip, but feigning it and transitioning into a DDT! He pulls FLAMBO away from the ropes and goes for the cover.

ONE!

TW-KICKOUT!

Nick Stuart: Our first near fall of the night and Zion gets almost a two count out of it.

Richard Parker: Bet FLAMBERGE is wishing he had Henri here with him. A father’s love knows no bounds.

Nick Stuart: If that’s the case, Henri Lavinge had a funny way of showing it.

Zion is back to his feet and stomping away at FLAMBERGE. He takes a moment to walk away from his opponent and taunt the crowd with arms wide and a big shit-eating grin on his face.

Darin Zion: DON’T YOU JUST FEEL THE LOVE BABYYYYYYY?

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Richard Parker: Sometimes I wonder if our fans were hugged enough as children.

Nick Stuart: I wonder the same thing about you sometimes, partner…oh! Roll-up by FLAMBERGE! The cover!

ONE!

TW-NO!

Zion kicks out and looks incensed that FLAMBO got his wind back enough to take advantage of him like that. He grabs FLAMBERGE’s arm and YANKS it hard, causing the youngster to yelp in pain! Keeping control of the arm, Zion sends a couple kicks into FLAMBO’s midsection, then shoots him into the ropes. FLAMBERGE ducks under the clothesline and runs to the opposite side, but Zion follows after him and catches him with a leg lariat on the rebound! Another cover by Zion!

ONE!

TWO!

KICKOUT!

Nick Stuart: After an impressive match against Cancer Jiles just two weeks ago, this cannot be how FLAMBERGE envisioned this contest against Darin Zion going.

Richard Parker: Everyone loves to sleep on Darin Zion but the man is a fifteen year veteran of the sport. He is not to be taken lightly, Nick. REAL LOVE CONQUERS ALL!

Nick Stuart: God, I hate that you are all in on the Love Convoy. Almost as much as I hate your loyalty to Hoyt Williams.

Richard Parker: He who dares blaspheme God’s Champion will never know peace on this earth!

After the kickout, Zion looks down at FLAMBERGE with a sneer. He slaps him across the face and screams at him.

Darin Zion: You think you’re so great? You think you’re the next big thing?

SLAP!

BOOOOOOOOOO!

Nick Stuart: Oh come on, this isn’t necessary.

Richard Parker: What did I say about tough love, Nick?!

Darin Zion: You’re not half the wrestler I am, fLaMbErRrRrGgGeEeEeE

SLAP!

BOOOOOOOOOO!

SLAP!

BOOOOOOOOOOO!

Elvis Nixon admonishes Zion for this disgusting display of behavior, but JCH’s BFF shoves him away as he gets to his feet! Elvis gets to his feet also and the two men are nose to nose!

Elvis Nixon: If I tell you to knock it off, Zion, you need to knock it off, or else I’ll disqualify you!

Darin Zion: Who the hell are you to tell me when to stop, zebra boy?!

In the midst of all of this, there’s a commotion going on in the crowd, which is ratcheting up the volume of the BOOOOOOOOOO!s. FLAMBO’s getting his bearings and looks out into the crowd to see someone in a black and white-striped track suit being hauled away by MGM Grand security.

Nick Stuart: Is….is that Henri Lavigne?

Richard Parker: Security should be escorting that man to the ring to help his son out, not escorting him away! HEY! That man is a scholar amongst men!

FLAMBO puts two and two together as a look of determination crosses his face. He gets to his feet, shakes the cobwebs out, and charges at an unaware Zion….

CRACK!

RAAAAAHHHHH!

Nick Stuart: Flying knee strike by FLAMBERGE! 

He rolls through, turns around….

CRACK!

Nick Stuart: Jumping roundhouse kick!

Richard Parker: No no no, come on Zion, get your head back in the game!

Zion crashes to the mat but FLAMBO’s starting to get momentum. He slides to the mat and starts hammering away at Zion with rapid-fire 12-6 elbows. Zion’s stumbling down dream street, but he manages to wriggle out of FLAMBERGE’s grasp and make it to the ropes.

BOOOOOOOOOOO!

This doesn’t stop FLAMBO, though. He simply grabs Zion and tosses him through the air with a BIG judo throw! Darin lands right on his tailbone and screams in pain, and is then sent flat to the mat with a vicious Sliding D!

RAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

Nick Stuart: FLAMBO with the cov….no, he’s not going for the cover. 

Richard Parker: Idiot.

Nick Stuart: He’s going for the guillotine choke!

Indeed, FLAMBERGE’s got Darin Zion locked into the Marie Antoinette! Elvis Nixon is in position, asking Zion if he wants to give up, and he adamantly shakes his head no!

Richard Parker: Come on Zion, dig down deep and fight out of this!

Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE locks the hold in tighter!

FLAMBERGE squeezes with all he’s worth and finally…FINALLY…Darin Zion taps out!

DING DING DING

RAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

Vince Howard: The winner of this match…FLAMBERGE!

Nick Stuart: Well Darin Zion gave it his best effort but in the end, FLAMBERGE was able to battle back and pick up the win!

Richard Parker: I’ll give the kid some credit, he was able to figure out how to turn the tide, but the next time he might not be so lucky.

Nick Stuart: We have to take a short break but we’ll be right back with more action!

CHETTER OFF DEAD

We start in the Fighting For Nora locker room, where Shweta Kallemullah looks around, worried.

Shweta Kallemullah: Where did he go?

Jonathan Rhine: Who?

Shweta Kallemullah: Chet.

Jonathan Rhine and Paxton Ray at each other and shake their heads.

Paxton Ray: Jesus Christ.

Jonathan Rhine: You brought him to the show? And then you lost him?

Shweta Kallemullah: Of course I brought him to the show. This is a huge match for you and for the Foundation. Everyone should be here to celebrate. And I didn’t lose him – he’s an adult, not a puppy.

Paxton Ray: Woulda been better off bringin’ a puppy, at least it’s cute when they sniff your crotch.

Shweta rolls her eyes as Jonathan quickly offers a fist to Paxton to tap.

Shweta Kallemullah: Oh, this is what gets you guys to bond? Dunking on my boyfriend? If I knew that I would’ve dated him months ago. Maybe that would’ve saved you from beating the shit out of each other.

Jonathan Rhine: First of all, Paxton beat the shit out of me. I didn’t fight back.

Paxton Ray: Ya tried to.

Jonathan Rhine: Second of all, if you would’ve dated Chet earlier we probably never would’ve gotten here because he would have ruined it somehow. He would’ve been one of the chefs in the food challenge and would’ve created a lasagna so awful we would’ve quit.

Paxton Ray: I bet he puts cheddar cheese in his lasagna.

Jonathan Rhine: I bet he puts cheddar cheese in his cereal.

Paxton Ray: I bet he calls it CHETar cheese.

Jonathan Rhine: Oh God, I bet he does.

Shweta pounds her fist on the table.

Shweta Kallemullah: Stop it! Guys, tonight you are main eventing a PRIME supershow. You have the opportunity to be the first tag team champions in the ReVival era. You should be focusing on the task at hand.

Jonathan Rhine: Sorry, Shway, but Chet is the worst. Full stop. No one is worse. There are billions of people in the world, and you picked the literal worst person alive to date. That has nothing to do with tonight. We’re ready. Trust me.

Suddenly there is a loud knock on the door, followed by a scream of pain. The door opens and Chet Fleetwood enters. Even though this is his first time on PRIME television and no one knows him, everyone boos. He’s that awful. 

He’s holding his fist and his face is in visible agony. Shweta rushes to him as Paxton and Jon look at each other.

Shweta Kallemullah: Chet, what happened?

Chet Fleetwood: You work for a maniac, that’s what happened!

Shweta Kallemullah: Lindsay Troy did this to you?

Chet Fleetwood: Yep, and you better believe I’m suing. Can’t have a business run by someone who breaks your hand if you ask a simple question.

Shweta nods slowly.

Shweta Kallemullah: What question did you ask her?

Chet shrugs and nonchalantly answers.

Chet Fleetwood: I asked her if she thought me having sex with her tall ass would be like fucking a giraffe.

Jonathan Rhine does a decent job of hiding his chuckle by looking down and covering his face. Paxton Ray, however, does not.

Paxton Ray: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

As Shweta tries to control her anger, Paxton walks forward and slaps Chet on the shoulder.

Paxton Ray: Maybe we was wrong. You’re funny at least.

Paxton looks over at Jon. 

Paxton Ray: Gotta go talk to somebody. I’ll see ya later.

As Paxton leaves, Jonathan stares at Shweta and her erstwhile boyfriend, waiting for the reaction. Instead, Shweta calmly turns to Jonathan.

Shweta Kallemullah: Jonathan, can you please escort Chet to Wade Elliott’s office? I have decided he is no longer my guest and he’ll have to leave the backstage area.

Chet Fleetwood: What! You can’t kick me out! I’m injured and need assistance!

Shweta Kallemullah: Wade can help with that too. Just let him know what you asked Lindsay. He’ll take really good care of you.

Without speaking, Jonathan grabs Chet by the bad hand and leads him out of the room, sending a smile back to Shweta as he does so. She doesn’t return it as she waits for the door to close to react: she screams, then shakes her head, then grabs a stress ball on the desk and starts squeezing.

Shweta Kallemullah: God, he really is the worst. 

After a moment, she shakes her head again.

Shweta Kallemullah: She’s only three inches taller than me!

I’VE HEARD ABOUT YOU

The camera fades in to Nova walking down one of the arena hallways, geared up for the first actual wrestling match he’s had in months. He passes a large framed poster on the wall. 

PRIME Presents

ReVolution 129

May 30, 2007

Universal Championship Match

“The Risen Star” Nova (c)

vs.

“The Queen of the Ring” Lindsay Troy


Nova stares up at the advertisement for the night his Universal Title run came to an end, and his smile fades as a shadow at the end of the hallway casts a pall over Memory Lane. He turns to face it.

It’s Bruce “Violence Jack” Shanahan.

Clad in a jet-black suit with a blood-red tie, Shanahan slowly walks up the hallway towards the Risen Star. Nova instinctively reaches down, adjusts his knee guards and boot laces, then checks his gloves and elbow pads.

Nova advances towards Violence Jack. Shanahan grins.

Bruce Shanahan: I’ve heard about you, Nova.

Nova pulls a cigarette from behind his ear and somehow retrieves a lighter from his tights.

Nova: (lighting his cigarette and taking a drag) I’ve heard about you too, Bruce.

Bruce Shanahan: I’ve spoken about your…situation…with Julian. He agrees. We’ve let your nonsense with this Survivor game show run its course, to whatever end. 

Nova looks around as the hallway seems to shrink in on itself. Suddenly what felt like overwhelming fluorescent lighting is reduced to a few flickering bulbs. Shanahan takes another step forward, unfazed by the cigarette smoke swirling around the Starchild.

Bruce Shanahan: But when it ends – and it will end – you need treatment, Nova. You will get treatment. 

Nova looks Shanahan up and down, observing as the tattoos that criss-cross Violence Jack’s body begin to swim and dart about his arms, legs, and head. 

Bruce Shanahan: MESSIAH will save you.

Nova takes a last drag and stomps out his cigarette on the concrete floor before staring Shanahan in the face, a broad grin stretching out his graying beard.

Nova: Well I guess Johnny and I better make sure it doesn’t end, then, shouldn’t we? 

Shanahan’s smile fades.

Bruce Shanahan: It will end, Nova. And we will be there…waiting.

He turns and marches off into the darkness that consumes the end of the hallway.

Nova turns his head back towards the ReVolution poster on the wall, but the feeling is gone. He shakes dark cobwebs out of his head. 

Nova: I need to find Johnny. It’s time to do this.

He turns back where he came from and marches down the hallway.

THE EGG BANDITS VS. SOLID GOLD ROCK ‘N ROLL

Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall with a thirty minute time limit.

Nick Stuart: Well, the second half of Great American Nightmare is already off to a rousing start, and now we’ve got some tag team action. The eGG Bandits hope to recoup some momentum as they take on Solid Gold Rock ‘n Roll up next.

Richard Parker: I’d say the Bandits should probably wear protection during this match, but I’m not so sure Bobby Dean doesn’t have all the same STDs that Boots and Boogie have either.

Nick Stuart: Gross, Richard, gross. Anyway, let’s get our first team out here!

The arena lights dim as the sounds of “Banditstruck” fill the air. The crowd begins to cheer as Bobby Dean emerges from the top of the stage under the PRIMEview. Doozer enters behind him, but he’s a little harder to see, not because he’s behind the Beautiful Man from Honalee, but because he’s Doozer.

Richard Parker: Honestly, I’m shocked Bobby Dean is showing restraint by not having a bundt cake in hand for this match. He’s really taking the grandeur of the supershow stage seriously, unlike his scoundrel leader, Canc…

Just then, Bobby pulls out a whole rotisserie chicken from the back of his tights and starts eating it while holding the drumstick as he’s lurching down the aisle.

Richard Parker: Remind me never to compliment the Bandits again, Nick.

Nick Stuart: Duly noted, Richard.

The Bandits make their way to the ring despite their slow gait from Bobby’s eating and Doozer jawing with the fans along the entryway. They take their place in the middle of the ring and wait for their opponents as Bobby picks the bones off his chicken clean.

The lights in the arena go completely dark as a laser light show strobes around the arena. The PRIMEview comes to life with all the members of the Solid Gold Rock ‘n Roll band dressed in form-hugging, full body unitards. Trent Sadikaj and Barry Delgado stand front and center with the other four members of the band flanking them.

Nick Stuart: I have word that we’re getting a world premiere for the band’s new music video, “Cyberlover!”

Richard Parker: You know I’m a connoisseur of fine music, Nick, so when I say this was my favorite track off their latest EP, Neon City Samurai, I’m not, as the kids say, capping.

Nick Stuart: I’d ask where you picked that terminology up, but I think I want to know when you changed into that spiked choker and that leather daddy captain’s hat a little more.

Richard Parker: You can never be too prepared to be in the moment when Solid Gold Rock ‘n Roll is around.

The music video, with its dark and misty trappings punctuated by laser lights and Long Don’s sick riffs, plays in full on the PRIMEview. Younger women faint at the raw sexual fury of Boogie Barry’s sensuous bass playing. Older women have to fan themselves at the rhythmic gyrating of Electric Boots’ pelvis and his soul-shrieking heavy metal falsetto. Iron Sam works the skins with all the grace and fury of a drummer of her stature. The crowd is into it. The song finishes up and two spotlights shine on the top of the stage. From an elevator down below rise the duo of “Electric Boots” Trent Sadikaj and “Boogie” Barry Delgado.

Nick Stuart: And here they are, in the flesh… when the hell did you change out of your suit and into that?

Richard Parker: (dressed like 1970s Rob Halford) ROCK AND ROLL WILL NEVER DIE.

The bounding riffs of Mastodon’s “The Motherload” fill the arena as the team of Solid Gold Rock ‘n Roll saunter to the ring, and the reaction from the fans for the first time since coming to PRIME is overwhelmingly positive. Boots stops to sign one fan’s chest, while women throw their underwear at Boogie as they strut towards the squared circle. They finally make it to the ring and stand across from the Bandits. Jimmy Turnbull has to get in between them so Vince Howard can make his intros.

Vince Howard: This match is schedule for ONE fall. Introducing first, to my left, representing the eGG Bandits…

Crowd cheers loudly.

Vince Howard: …at a total combined weight of 642 pounds, the Man from Honalee, BOBBYYYYYYY DEEEEEEEEAN and the Boston Bruiser DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOZERRRRRRR!

Doozer mouths some unflattering things about various fans in the row and their mothers as they boo him and Beautiful Bobby, who is just finishing up the palate cleanser from his rotisserie chicken, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey.

Vince Howard: And their opponents, to my right, at a total combined weight of 471 pounds, Electric Boots Trent Sadikaj, Boogie Barry Delgado, they are SOLID GOLD ROCK N ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!

The crowd continues cheering.

Vince Howard: Your referee for the match is Jimmy Turnbull.

DING DING DING

As soon as the bell rings, Bobby Dean throws the chicken bones from his snack in the faces of both members of Solid Gold Rock ‘n Roll as Doozer follows through with some punches, kicks, and finally stomps.

Richard Parker: You can’t do this to rock icons! Cancer Jiles must pay for his corruptive influence!

Nick Stuart: For once you and I agree on something, Richard. 

Turnbull admonishes Dean and is able to get only Boots and Doozer in the ring. Doozer pulls the band’s frontman to his feet, lays in a couple of jabs, and then bounces off the ropes, hitting him with a shoulder block. He turns to the crowd, but Sadikaj isn’t fazed enough from the knockdown for that to be a wise move.

Nick Stuart: Boots up to his feet, and he’s ROCKING Doozer with big punches!

Richard Parker: I haven’t seen this much energy from Trent since I saw him at their show for the Force Cycle Mega Tour in Albuquerque!

Boots lands a huge shotei to the chest of Doozer. Although the Old Bull is rattled, the blow sends him straight into his own corner, where Bobby Dean tags himself in. Boots sees this, nods, and tags in his studly bassist, Boogie Delgado. 

Richard Parker: Real beefy boy hours!

Nick Stuart: Boogie Barry might be giving up over 100 pounds to the Beautiful Man from Honalee, but he’s got DECEPTIVE bassist strength going for him.

Boogie and Bobby meet in the middle of the ring, getting up close and personal with each other. Boogie keeps talking his crap to the Beautiful One, but Bobby just shakes his head and dares Delgado to do something about it. Boogie Barry slaps Dean across the face, and then grabs him, left arm between his massive thighs and right arm over the shoulder.

Nick Stuart: Ooh, we know Boogie planned on taking the Beautiful One off his feet, but I think it might be too early.

Richard Parker: I know he can do it. Bobby’s mostly empty pounds anyway, I mean how heavy can residual bundt cake crumbs and Big Mac wrappers be?

Nick Stuart: Richard, 400 pounds of Big Mac wrappers weigh the same as 400 pounds of steel.

Richard Parker: IN WHAT UNIVERSE?

As Boogie walks away holding his back, Bobby follows through, nailing Boogie with ONE Mongolian chop… then a second… then a third.

Nick Stuart: Boogie is reeling! Bobby looks to capitalize going off the ropes and… what?

Richard Parker: He’s winded? From running the ropes? This is a new low.

Doozer is flabbergasted on the apron as Bobby loses all steam after bouncing off the far ropes. He doubles over, and Boogie takes the opportunity to come in, hitting the Beautiful One with a DDT before tagging in Electric Boots.

Nick Stuart: And here comes Trent Sadikaj to work over Bobby Dean.

Richard Parker: He’s a triple threat bandleader, Nick. Plays guitar like James Hetfield, sings like Bruce Dickinson, and has a right hook like Axl Rose. 

Boots lays the eponymous footwear into Bobby before the big man can rise to his feet. As he gets up, Trent tries to put him down with an arm drag. However, the big Bandit will not budge. Instead, he shoves Trent to the ground and tags in Doozer. Trent staggers to his feet, but Doozer puts him back down with a fireman’s carry. He bounces off the ropes and goes for a leg drop, but…

Nick Stuart: No water in the pool! Trent is up, so is Doozer and BIG palm strike! Doozer goes flying!

Trent waits for Doozer to get to his feet before planting him again with the Headbanger’s Ball tornado DDT. Boots heads over to the corner to tag in Boogie, and they plant Doozer in the mat with a double team suplex.

Nick Stuart: Bandits can’t get out of the blocks, it seems.

Richard Parker: Maybe they should spend more time on themselves and less on serving Jiles? Just a thought.

Nick Stuart: You have AMAZING clarity when it comes to Jiles, and WHEN DID YOU HAVE THE TIME TO PUT ON THE EYELINER?

Richard Parker: A true rocker never divulges his secrets.

Boogie goes to pick up Doozer, but Doozer rakes the eyes and scurries over to the corner to tag in Bobby. The Beautiful One moseys over, but Barry has recovered enough to land a kick in his massive gut.

Nick Stuart: Could we see the powerslam here?

Barry lifts Bobby off his feet for a moment before dropping him back and holding his back. Bobby lays in a punch for good measure.

Richard Parker: He’s so close, Nick. So close!

Bobby closes in for a move, but Barry collects his wits and with lightning quick precision rocks the big man’s jaw with a stiff right cross.

Nick Stuart: Dean is reeling! Could we see it here?

Boogie roars for the crowd, who returns in kind, and moves in, grabbing Dean…

SLAAAAAMMMMMMMM!!!

The ring shakes and the crowd ERUPTS!

Nick Stuart: HE FINALLY DID IT! HE SLAMMED THE BIG MAN!

Richard Parker: What a night! They’ll be talking about this for years to come!

Bobby rolls over to the corner and Doozer tags himself in, but he can’t overcome the momentum, running into a big boot from the band’s bassist. Boogie walks backwards into the corner and tags in boots. He then lifts Doozer on his shoulders, with Trent raising his arms to the crowd on the top rope. He jumps with the Doomsday Device…

Nick Stuart: BAD REPUTATION!!

…and then makes the cover…

ONE!

TWO!

THREE!

Vince Howard: Your winners, SOLID GOLD ROCK ‘N ROLL!!!!

Turnbull raises both Boots’ and Boogie’s arms as the crowd roars in unison.

Nick Stuart: What a match, Rich… Wait, when did you change back into your regular suit?

Richard Parker: Through Hoyt, all things are possible, Nick. You should know this by now.

Nick Stuart: Ah well. Big night for the Solid Gold Rock ‘n Roll boys. Music video debut, big tag win, I’m sure either the Blue Live Crew or Fighting for Nora will have a stiff challenge from them down the line. We have a lot more great action tonight on ACE Streaming Plus, but first, I hear we’ve got some words from Phil Atken backstage.

Richard Parker: Phil Atken is a THREAT!

Cut away…

THE BULLHORN

Great American Nightmare continues to both rock and yet also roll, often at the same time. As the show powers forth further, we find ourselves in the confines of Glue Central, the locker room of Phil Atken and his pals in the Glue Factory. The camera catches Hank with a wistful look in his eyes, which many online have speculated may be related to the MGM Grand outdoor pool but that can’t be confirmed at this point.

For his part, Dirk Dickwood continues in his form of “one bad comment away from a breakdown” as Phil’s match with Dusk, and the Universal Championship ramifications therein, draws closer.

For his part, the Humble Proprietor of the Glue Factory looks rather at ease with the whole state of affairs. Atken flashes a slimy smile towards the camera and starts to chitter chatter.

Phil Atken: I asked if the camera crew could join us backstage for a few moments because I felt it important to address my upcoming match with the vapid cloud turned human, Dusk. You see, this is an important night for me, it’s an important night for the Glue Factory… hell, it’s an important night for the hungry young talent of PRIME.

Phil snorts a little as he utters the last sentence, but this doesn’t break the salesman smile.

Phil Atken: For a couple of months now, I’ve been stating the mission statement of the Glue Factory and I’ve been stating it loud and clear. Tonight, we begin to put together the broken pieces that have been shattered through decades of mockery and derision. Yet, no one in PRIME seems to want to listen, no matter how many people I control the very life of. For three matches now, I have wrapped myself around my opponent and choked the life out of them, and for three matches, I have chosen to be merciful. Still though, people call me old, people mock my past, people treat me like a Scooby Doo villain of the week, isn’t that right Dusk? I mean, we can’t blame him, the smoke machine he carries around produces a more dense product than what remains in his skull.

Hank snaps his head in the direction of Atken, raising a slightly confused and quizzical eyebrow.

Phil Atken: Don’t worry big man, Dirk will explain it later. Well, if he can get his hand out of his mouth.

We quickly see Dirk Dickwood chewing down on his nails like it was his last meal before execution.

Phil Atken: So a change of tactics is clearly required if I am to MAKE people listen. That brings me to the Universal Championship. I am two wins away from possessing the biggest bullhorn in the wrestling industry. Two. Wins. When the inevitable happens, when my hand is raised against Brandon Youngblood or Impulse in about one months time… the offer I’m about to make will be out of date. 

Atken mimes the ticking of a clock with the classic combination of tongue click and finger wag. 

Phil Atken: I would like the young, the hungry and the overlooked members of the PRIME roster to watch my match this evening. I would like them to pay attention to what I do to Dusk in that ring and consider what The Glue Factory could do for you. That’s right, Anna Daniels, Nate Colton, Ria Nightshade, Great Scott, Pete Whealdon… the list goes on. All of you have been put to the side in the name of the same old, same old. Cancer Jiles, Brandon Youngblood, Impulse, Rhine and hell, the Blueberry boy and the Lucha guy… they’ve had their time to shine. They’ve had their roses. Isn’t it time for the industry to change? Isn’t it time to see new talent get the recognition they deserve? If you would rather beat your head against the glass ceiling, I won’t get in your way.

Phil does some mock banging of his head against the wall over and over again to help drill in his point. 

Phil Atken: Or you could rally around me, rally around the man they mocked and derided for years. Think about the message it would send to the entire universe if I was THE pinnacle of this industry. Think about how the entire industry would have to question itself, reform what it means to be a true talent at the top of the ladder. Think about the opportunities it would open for all of you. The Gatekeepers conquered, the golden boys molten… a new PRIME. A better PRIME. A PRIME worth fighting for. 

Oh, I should mention that Atken’s eyes are getting wider and wider as he speaks, spittle flying out of his mouth. Really frothing stuff. 

Phil Atken: I promise nothing but mentorship and an even playing field. That’s all I want you to consider. Tonight, you have time to think. At ReVival 11, after I AM victorious over Dusk… that might be the time to give The Glue Factory’s door a lil knockeroo.

Phil mimes the knocking upon the door.

Phil Atken: Just some food for thought. 

The camera fades out as it goes to what I assume to be another exciting event at the Great American Nightmare!

TWO RIGHT HANDS MAKE A WRONG

The PRIMEview airs static, and when it clears up, fans in attendance are treated to the sight of three men.

One is Joe Fontaine, with his dumb cheeky grin plastered all over his face. The bedazzled entrance poncho is worn comfortably over his shoulders. The second is Sid Phillips, who looms menacingly in the center of the frame in his much simpler poncho, and made only larger by the low angle of the camera. The third? That’s Baron von Blackberry, the third member of the team, who is crouched down and holding the camera so that all three of them are in the shot. Hence the low angle.

Baron von Blackberry: Let I, the great and mighty and ABSOLUTELY PERFECT Baron von Blackberry, elucidate you all for a moment…

The Devil Fruit holds up his hand as though he’s milking an invisible cow that’s well and truly willing to be milked by a man with a blackberry for a head.

Baron von Blackberry: Long ago, there was a team. So long ago that some of you weren’t even born yet. Maybe you knew them as sperm, or glints in your father’s eye. I don’t know. I stopped caring about the whimsical nature of genetic memory since the last genetic experiment I performed created a horde of murderous bunny rabbits that swept through the lands, causing untold chaos and fatal groin injuries for all that encountered them. Were it not for the efforts of the thousand robot armies of the scenic, yet diabolical nation of Fruitsylvania, you would all have to cater to and bow for your new groin-seeking rabbit overlords. You have me to thank for averting this catastrophe that I am not responsible for and you cannot legally prosecute me in a court of law where I don’t already preside as judge, jury, executioner, and hair critic.

About halfway into that last paragraph, Joe and Sid slowly turn to Blackberry with increasingly concerned, confused looks.

Joe Fontaine: Uhh… so there was a team.

Baron von Blackberry: Yes. And?

Sid Phillips: …That’s all you really said before you said that insane thing you said.

Baron von Blackberry: Bah. You worry too much about the details for a man who has no details about how he handles his opponents.

Sid PhillipsOne detail, you mean.

Baron von Blackberry: The adult in the room is talking!

Sid Phillips (whispering): Powerbombs.

Blackberry turns to cast an aside glance at the big man. After a beat, he turns back to the camera.

Baron von Blackberry: So, there was a team, long ago. And they, too, were known as the Winds of Change. And while that team has changed lineups many times, there are two truths you have to understand about this team. The first is that there is always a Phillips. Be it Sid, or his old man.

Sid Phillips: Sup.

Baron von Blackberry: And the second is this. You’d best pay attention.

Blackberry shifts the camera. He’s the only one there. The tone in his voice is less jovial than it usually is.

Baron von BlackberryWe are the Winds of Change, taking PRIME Wrestling by storm. It does not matter to us who you are, be you a humanitarian organization to save the life of a little girl, or a fellow King of Popsicles, or PRIME Hall of Famers, or Dual Halo winners, or Jewel in the Crown winners, Almasy Invitational champions… Universal champions, 5-Star Champions, 36th Chamber of Shaolin champions, Bang! All Day champions, Undisputed North Dakotan Wominternopean Janitor-Jobberweight champions… this is for all of you. You all stand before the hurricane.

He takes the camera and puts it back in the previous spot, with the other two back in frame.

Joe Fontaine: Yeah!

Sid grunts, but nods in affirmation.

Baron von Blackberry: So, I want Nova and Garbage Bag Johnny, and everyone else for that matter, to know this. No matter what happens in that ring tonight, that hurricane isn’t going away. What you have here is a perpetual motion hurricane. An unending, swirling sore on the side of the planet. And your Galactus-sized doctor can only watch helplessly as it churns.

Joe Fontaine: This analogy’s kind of gross, dude.

Sid Phillips: I’m not a big fan of being compared to an unending pimple, either.

Joe Fontaine: God, that’s even worse. Could you even imagine?

Sid Phillips: Imagine all the promos that’ll get cut against us now, telling everyone how they’re going to pop us.

Joe Fontaine: Oh, god. That’s terrible! I don’t want to be a weird gross planet pimple! Couldn’t you have at least consulted with us before you told the entire world that we were that?

Baron von Blackberry: FOOLS! What I mean is that the destruction that will be wrought will be NEVER-ENDING and PERPETUAL.

Joe Fontaine: And a nightmare for beauticians the world over.

Baron von Blackberry: You only just graduated from being Minion #1 to personal Right Hand to the Benevolent God-King Emperor Sensei of Fruitsylvania, and you have so quickly developed such a lip. 

Sid Phillips: Wait, I thought was the Right Hand.

Baron von Blackberry: Yes. There are two right hands. Like Goro, from The Mortal Kombat. 

Sid Phillips: His hands only have three fingers, though. I don’t think either of us want to be a three-fingered hand, even if they could shoot fireballs.

Joe Fontaine: Yeah, we’re not wizards out here. That’d be ridiculous. Who would ever become a wizard in professional wrestling? You’d be all squishy and stuff, and someone will suplex you and all of your bones would shatter at once, and ain’t nobody wants to be a weird slug thing with no bones in them.

Both Blackberry and Sid give Joe a look. Joe looks genuinely confused.

Joe Fontaine: What?

Blackberry ignores him, and turns to Sid instead.

Baron von Blackberry: Do not question the anatomical accuracy of your Benevolent God-King Emperor Sensei, Sid Phillips, or I will refer you to the slogan of Mentos for what would await you should you continue!

Sid Phillips: Whatever. Can I do the thing where I start talking about powerbombing Nova and Johnny, again? That’s my favorite part.

Baron von Blackberry: No. In fact, let’s just get to the ring before I start handing out such discipline that you would not be able to compete tonight. Deeply regretting your promotions, now.

Blackberry places a hand on the camera lens, and Great American Nightmare goes back to the ring as confused as ever.

NUMBER ONE CONTENDERSHIP FOR THE TAG TITLES:NOVA AND GARBAGE BAG JOHNNY VS. WINDS OF CHANGE

Nick Stuart: Fans, we are moments away from determining the first team to get a shot at the PRIME tag team championships, which will be awarded in tonight’s main event. Will it be a team composed of two legends in Garbage Bag Johnny and Nova, or the upstart Winds of Change?

Richard Parker: I guess that depends on whether or not Sid Phillips has learned a second wrestling move or not.

The arena lights go dark, as the sound of folk guitars fill the MGM Grand.

Nick Stuart: Well this is different. Not at all what I was expecting.

It goes on like this for a while. Approximately 42 seconds, in fact, before the distortion kicks in and we get our first real taste of Blind Guardian’s “Time What Is Time.” The 2007 remaster, in case you were curious.

Vince Howard: Introducing first, at a total combined weight of 475 pounds… GARBAGE BAG JOHNNY AND NOVA!

A giant cylindrical object appears at the entryway, with two figures standing atop it, surfing it as though it were a hoverboard. My friends, this is no hover board. It’s a joint. Eight feet in length, two feet in diameter, and being “Teen Wolf’ed” by Garbage Bag Johnny and Nova.

This is probably the part where I get fired.

Richard Parker: Somehow this is exactly what I was expecting.

The power metal ramps into high gear, accompanied by some GBJ air guitar. He’s quite the virtuoso in this area, in case you weren’t aware. Michael Angelo Batio ain’t got shit on him.

Nick Stuart: This is… Fans, I… uhh… I’m not entirely sure how to explain what I’m seeing here.

After a moment, the duo arrive at the ring, whereupon they disembark their herbal transport and do the next logical thing: begin smoking it.

I take it back. THIS is the point where I get fired.

Nick Stuart: Can we even show this on television?!

The benefits of being on a streaming service, Nicky-boy. Less restrictions!

For the next few minutes – because this song runs 5:44 – the two trade places until the entire joint is nothing but ash on the ringside area. And thanks to the smoke, there’s a decent chance that everyone on this side of the arena would fail a drug test for the foreseeable future.

Or just pretend the thing is made out of newspaper over a wire frame with a bunch of smoke machines crammed inside it. It’s not, but you do you.

The duo slide into the ring and wait.

Vince Howard: And their opponents…

Once more, the arena goes dark, and the PRIMEview flickers to life with an image of the earth, but not as it is now. It’s accompanied by one phrase, appearing for a second and then fading.

65 Million years ago…

A tyrannosaurus lumbers into view, crashing through the trees before rearing back with its head and roaring to the heavens. The roar is suddenly stifled as the image of the dinosaur rotates and inverts. We pull back, to see the familiar silhouette of Sid Phillips with the T-rex in a waistlock. You know what happens next.

Richard Parker: Oh, for the love of…

We zoom back farther, until we’re looking at the earth from orbit. The force of the powerbomb creates a shockwave that spreads out from the epicenter until it engulfs the planet, ending the Cretaceous Period and the reign of the dinosaurs.

It also triggers the first notes of Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold” (specifically, the Bandini remix).

Vince Howard: Accompanied by Baron Von Blackberry, and weighing in tonight at a total combined weight of 179 pounds and 2.6 powerbombs…

Nick Stuart: I wonder what that converts to in metric.

Richard Parker: You think there are metric powerbombs?!

The scene on the PRIMEview changes. We’re in ancient Rome, and a group of senators is advancing on Julius Caesar at the Curia of Pompey. They’re bowled over by a toga-clad Sid Phillips, who grabs the dictator and powerbombs him before the entire Roman conspiracy.

Vince Howard: The team of Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips… The WINDS! OF! CHANGE!

Smash cut to the inside of Ford’s Theater. The year is 1865. As he watches Our American Cousin from a private box, President Abraham Lincoln is completely oblivious to the presence of John Wilkes Booth. You know who’s not? Sid motherfucking Phillips. He bursts into the room, grabs the would-be assassin around the wait, and powerbombs him over the railing before flashing a thumbs-up to the Great Emancipator.

Richard Parker: Whoever decided that this video package was a good idea? That guy needs therapy.

Hi.

The trio make their way to the ring, but let’s go back to the PRIMEview.

Where are we now? Ancient Egypt. How far back are we? Oh, you’ll see. In the midst of the desert, Sid Phillips runs with a pharaoh on his shoulders, before diving towards the ground and delivering a powerbomb so hard that the ground gives birth to the pyramids.

Yes, it’s true, the pyramids are just tiny, misshapen earth boners. The planet has a kink, and that kink is powerbombs.

Nick Stuart: Both teams are in the ring…

Richard Parker: Thank god.

Nick Stuart: …and we’re all set to kick this one off!

DING DING

Starting the match off for their respective teams, Joe Fontaine and Nova begin the feeling-out process, which isn’t nearly as hot as it sounds.

Nick Stuart: This is a big hurdle for Phillips and Fontaine to overcome. In only their second match here in PRIME, they stand across the ring from a hall-of-famer and two-time Universal Champion in Nova, and Dual Halo winner in Garbage Bag Johnny.

Richard Parker: Do you think he’ll ever get to cash in that golden ticket?

Despite not being able to hear any of this, Johnny involuntarily twitches.

Nova presses an early advantage, taking down Fontaine with a pair of quick armdrags. On the second one he maintains a grip on Fontaine’s wrist, pulls the younger man to his feet and in close for a T-bone suplex. His man-bun remains unharmed.

Determined to try and assert himself, the man called Tempest charges in, but the ring savvy of Nova means the Risen Star sees it coming a mile away, and a knee to Fontaine’s midsection sends him tumbling back to the mat.

Nick Stuart: That experience of Nova really coming into play early here, Richard.

To maintain their advantage, Nova muscles Fontaine over towards GBJ for the tag.

Richard Parker: And now the… something… of Garbage Bag Johnny has… You know what, I don’t know where I was going with this.

Johnny enters the ring and connects with a few shots. He staggers Fontaine, who wobbles right into the same arms that have loved and caressed Muriel Puddings ever so tenderly. There is no love there for Joe. Only suplexes. And then an inverted atomic drop. Sorry about your dick, Joe.

Nick Stuart: Fontaine is down again, and it looks like Johnny could be going for a submission of some sorts here.

Johnny grabs both of Fontaine’s legs and lifts them off the mat, then steps through as if looking for a Sharpshooter. He pauses, picks up his foot, and sets it on the other side of Fontaine’s body. Clearly befuddled, Johnny shakes his head, scratches his beard, and then steps back to release the hold.

Richard Parker: What the hell is he doing?

Johnny stares off into space for a moment, tracing mathematical equations in the air with his finger. A few seconds later he snaps his fingers, clearly having experienced his “Eureka!” moment and picks up Joe’s legs again, only because the time Joe’s had to recover the attempt is counter.

Nick Stuart: Roll-up by Fontaine!

ONE!

TWO!

Nick Stuart: Garbage Bag Johnny kicks out at two!

All 2.6 powerbombs of Sid Phillips lean over the ropes, desperate to tag himself into the match and run wild with the only move he knows. His partner, now stumbling to his feet, moves for the corner but is caught by Garbage Bag Johnny. A rear waistlock follows, and for a moment it looks as though Joe’s man-bun is about to take another bump, but a back elbow breaks the hold, and then a pele kick sends Johnny to the mat.

Nick Stuart: Fontaine back on his feet. He needs to make a tag and get out of that ring.

Outside the ring, Baron Von Blackberry yells something to Joe that sounds like it ends with the word “Freshmaker,” and Fontaine gets a bit of pep in his step.

Richard Parker: I don’t think Johnny’s going to let him.

Fontaine lunges for his corner, making a much-needed tag. Johnny dives for Joe, and instead finds himself at the feet of Mr. Powerbomb, Esq. (no, we don’t know where he went to law school either).

Unfortunately, being prostrate on the mat such as he is leaves Johnny in a perfect position for some down-home, old-fashioned, fresh-baked powerbombin’.

Nick Stuart: Fans, we knew it was coming – it was only a matter of time – but Sid Phillips is in the match, and has just delivered his first powerbomb of the night!

It’s followed by a second, and then a third, each one with enough of an angle to cause Johnny to roll through. The laws of tag team wrestling, and believe me there are laws – just ask Sid Phillips, who apparently is licensed to practice powerbomb law, say that every hot tag must feature the intervention of the opposing team’s illegal partner. And because we are not one to challenge the laws of wrestling, lest we end up in powerbomb court, that’s what happens.

Nova charges in, but is popped right up by the Riot, and… look, he only knows ONE MOVE. The force of the powerbomb sends Nova rolling back out of the ring, but the change in focus has given Johnny time to get back to his feet. He leaps from the second rope onto Phillips, grabbing him in a headlock and twisting his body as he tries to take the big man down with a tornado DDT, but Powerbomb Siddy puts on the brakes, hoists Johnny into the air, and… yeah.

Nick Stuart: Another powerbomb by Sid Phillips!

Richard Parker: For the love of god, kid, learn a lariat or something.

The Internet: No.

The Powerbomb Wizard makes the cover and hooks a leg, trying to end this match.

ONE!

TWO!

But despite all the powerbombs, Garbage Bag Johnny still kicks out. Phillips draws him up, getting ready for another one of THOSE MOVES THAT HE DOES, but punch straight to the groin puts a stop to that.

Nick Stuart: Low blow by Garbage Bag Johnny, and I don’t think referee Barlow saw it happen.

Richard Parker: Well she’s clearly aware of it now, what with Phillips holding his junk and all.

The referee tries to make sense of this all, which gives Johnny enough time to crawl back to his corner and tag in Nova.

Nick Stuart: Nova looking for some aerial offense. Off the top rope with a springboard crossbody, and… Sid Phillips caught him!

Sid Phillips is known for one thing, and that thing is powerbombs. It’s widely assumed that powerbombs are the only thing he knows how to perform. This is not entirely accurate. Everything that you have been led to believe thus far has been an elaborate ruse, a charade, a farce! There is one other move he can perform when the time is right. Only one other move.

Holding Nova across his chest as if he scooped him up for a slam, and didn’t just luck into this catch, the big youngster shifts his grip so that Nova is over one shoulder. That’s when it happens. Still carrying the Risen Star, Sid Phillips launches himself into the air, spins, and lands the only other move he knows.

Kids, it’s a doozy.

Richard Parker: What the…!!!

Exploding.

Cyclone.

Homicide.

Driver.

Richard Parker: That wasn’t a powerbomb!

Nick Stuart: Nova driven head-first into the canvas! Phillips with the cover!

Richard Parker: Everything I thought I knew is a lie.

Referee Ashley Barlow is down to make the count.

ONE!

Nick Stuart: This could be all! We could be about to see our new number one contenders!

TWO!

Behold yonder skies, and the flying garbage man.

Nick Stuart: Dumpster Dive from Garbage Bag Johnny to break up the pin!

Johnny is quick to scurry out of the ring and ready himself for a tag. Sid, dazed from the impact to his dome just a moment ago, shakes off the cobwebs as he makes his way back towards his own corner.

Nick Stuart: Both teams looking to make a switch. Johnny is in! And so is Fontaine!

Fontaine’s entrance has much more flair, as he springboards immediately to the top and lands a missile dropkick directly onto Johnny’s beard. The beard recoils in terror, and the human man it’s attached to falls to the mat. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, Joe runs to a neutral corner and climbs the buckles before flinging himself off with a high arcing moonsault. It completely misses Johnny’s beard, but does connect with Johnny’s chest. So that’s a plus.

Having tasted success, young Joe goes for another neutral corner to repeat the move, and while the moonsault is just as pretty, the landing leaves a little to be desired, as this time it’s neither Johnny’s chest or beard that gets hit, but rather empty canvas.

Nick Stuart: Joe Fontaine let himself get carried away there, and came up short.

Richard Parker: I am trying to think of a wind-related pun and failing!

Johnny scoops a groggy Joe Fontaine up into a fireman’s carry position, but instead of driving Fontaine to the mat head-first, Johnny instead slams him down on his ass.

Nick Stuart: Tragically Hipbuster on Joe Fontaine! The smaller man taking the brunt of the impact, and compressing his spine. This could be the end of the Winds!

Richard Parker: Oooh, I got one! You could say the Winds are broken. Johnny is breaking the Winds.

Nick Stuart: Barlow with the count!

ONE!

Sid Phillips is stuck. We’ve already covered that he only knows one move (powerbombs), but strikes – you know, like kicking and punching – are also moves, so by extension he has no idea how to throw a jab. What does this mean? Well, it means that when the big man runs into the ring to break up the count, he’s not quite sure how to do it.

TWO!

So he defaults to the first thing that comes to mind, the hamster in his brain whose name is Powerbomb. To that end, he waistlocks an imaginary person, and slams them to the ground in what would be the same spot Johnny is in. With force. Like he goddamn means it. The side-effect of this is that both of his hands, clasped together like an ax handle, smash Johnny in the back of the head.

Richard Parker: Decades of calling professional wrestling matches, and this is the first time I have ever seen someone break up a pin that way. Probably a reason for that.

Johnny rolls to his corner and tags in his partner, while Ashley Barlow tries to get Sid Phillips out of the ring. She gets some help in the form of Garbage Bag Johnny, who flies into frame with a spinning heel kick that takes both Johnny and Phillips to the floor.

Nick Stuart: Nova and Fontaine the legal men. Kick to the midsection… Nova has both arms hooked… Double-arm DDT takes Joe Fontaine to the ground!

Nova rolls right back to his feet and brings Fontaine up with him.

Richard Parker: He could have gone for the cover right there and ended this.

Nick Stuart: I think Nova is looking to make sure that Fontaine stays down. Nova with the pickup. This could be Bourbon For Breakfast. He’s got Fontaine in posi… NO!

The Tempest shifts his momentum, contorting himself behind Nova and knotting him up as both men roll to the canvas.

ONE!

Nick Stuart: Bourbon For Breakfast countered! Joe Fontaine with the surprise roll-up!

TWO!

Richard Parker: What an upset this would…

THREE!

Richard Parker: …be.

DING DING DING

Sid Phillips and Baron Von Blackberry both hit the ring as the realization creeps across Nova’s face.

Vince Howard: The winners of this match… Sid Phillips and Joe Fontaine… the Winds of Change!

Nick Stuart: The Winds of Change have done it! This upstart team just managed to knock off two of the biggest names to ever step foot in PRIME, and this means that down the road they will meet the winner of our main event for a shot at the tag-team championship!

The cameras linger on the Winds celebrating in the ring before going to commercial.

HANDS ARE NOT FOR HITTING

Backstage.

It’s not often that King Blueberry gets the full-blown interview treatment. He’ll tell you that it’s because this sort of thing isn’t really his vibe, which is true; he’s never been a fan of situations he doesn’t control. The reality is that most interviewers just don’t want to deal with him. Angelica Brooks, renowned and venerated in the industry, is not most interviewers. If there’s anyone capable enough to get legitimate answers, it’s her.

King Blueberry and a redhead. What could possibly go wrong?

Angelica Brooks: Tonight, PRIME will crown its first tag-team champions of the new era. I’m here with King Blueberry ahead of our main event.

For his part, King Blueberry is calm, almost serene, with the faint hints of a smile playing at his lips.

Angelica Brooks: King Blueberry – Jared – it’s no secret that there’s been some tension between yourself and Jonathan Rhine over the last few months, and tonight you’ll be stepping into the ring against each other for the second time since PRIME re-opened its doors.

At the mention of Rhine’s name, the berry reflexively runs a hand along his jaw.

King Blueberry: Yeah. First time didn’t go so well for me. Rev 4. I wonder if he’s still pissed about the whole taser thing.

Angelica Brooks: Two weeks ago things between you escalated going into the final Survivor challenge, and the cameras caught you saying, “that one I had coming.” I was wondering if you’d elaborate on that one for us.

He nods along as she speaks, and when the microphone is presented for him to answer, he starts to speak, thinks better, and contemplates the answer. This happens two more times before words finally escape the berry, but to Angie’s credit she never lets him dodge the question or give him an out. It’s why she’s paid the big bucks.

King Blueberry: So, the short answer is that I got angry, and dredged up something that I shouldn’t have. I tried to make a point, I guess. I’ve heard it from Jon for as long as I’ve known him, just a constant stream of “here is everything you’re doing wrong.” And it’s easy to judge when you never take a good, long look at yourself. And, so, I went about it the worst way I possibly could. So yeah. Had that one comin’.

Angelica Brooks: And what would you say the nature of your relationship is now?

King Blueberry: Complicated.

She waits for more, but it doesn’t come.

King Blueberry: Sorry, that’s about the best I can give you right now.

Angelica Brooks: A moment ago you mentioned how the first time you stepped in a ring with Fighting For Nora that things didn’t go in your favor. At the time you were using a mannequin as your partner. I know that a contract has been issued by Killean Sirajin’s office recently. Does this mean you think tonight will go any differently?

The smile spreads like wildfire across his face. He tries to control it, to reign it in, but fails.

King Blueberry: I can confirm that there will not be a mannequin wrestling tonight.

The disappointment from the assembled crowd at the MGM Grand is audible, even backstage.

BOOOOOOOOOOOO

His next comment is directed at everyone who just made their displeasure known.

King Blueberry: (laughing) Oh, shut up. It’s not like he’s going away. SCG is here to stay.

RAAAAAAAAAHHHHH

Sorry, Joe Fontaine.

King Blueberry: He just won’t be in the ring tonight. Hopefully never again, but we’ll take it week by week. As for the rest of your question… will tonight go any differently? I don’t know. There’s a big part of me that wants to end the night a winner. Not just for me, but for the person I’m going out there with.

The mask has always only covered half of his face, so it’s still somewhat noticeable when his cheeks flush.

King Blueberry: And then there’s a part of me that doesn’t care, because this is already a good day.

Angelica Brooks: How do you see this matching playing out?

His posture noticeably tenses, and for the first time since this conversation started the smile wanes.

King Blueberry: Call it a hunch, but I think I’m probably getting punched tonight.

“Yeah, prolly a good bet.”

Angelica turns as Paxton Ray walks up behind her. The brawler notices Blueberry’s reaction and smiles. 

Paxton Ray: Don’t get all fighty on me. I ain’t here for an early session. 

Angelica, the professional that she is, turns and puts the microphone in Paxton’s face. 

Paxton Ray: I jus’ wanted to say before we go out there tonight that…well, I think I was a little too harsh on ya.

The berry’s first reaction is to glance back over his shoulder. After all, a blindside or distraction attack is commonplace in the world of professional wrestling. Almost fifteen years of experience has taught him that it’s not something in the Rhine playbook, but old habits die hard.

King Blueberry: Okay, so this is… unexpected. But you’ve got my attention, so fire away.

Perhaps a poor choice of words, given the history here.

King Blueberry: What’s up?

Paxton Ray: When I got here I didn’t know anybody, and I thought ya were just a fuckin’ weirdo. And ya prolly still are. 

Blueberry nods, naturally.

Paxton Ray: But then I saw how hard ya fought. How ya kept coming out on top, even as ya saddled yourself with a useless hunk’a plastic. And I saw ya with Nora. So yeah, I punched ya after, and I’ll punch ya again tonight, because that’s jus’ what I do. But I wanted t’tell ya that I respect ya. 

Paxton holds up a fist expectantly; not for punching, but for bumping. The gesture is returned in kind.

King Blueberry: I meant what I said at the fundraiser… about you guys being strong. And I wish for both your sakes that you didn’t have to be. That said, I’ll make sure I have the ice packs and frozen peas ready. You know, for later.

With one finger the berry traces a slow circle in the air around his face.

King Blueberry: Shit, at this point it’s just tradition.

Paxton nods and begins to walk away. He stops, then hangs his hand on the wall for a second before turning around.

Paxton Ray: An’ for what it’s worth. No matter what he says to ya…Jon respects the hell outta ya too. It’s why he’s so pumped tonight. So whatever beef y’all have between ya…hopefully one day it’s gone. 

He turns around again and walks away.

Paxton Ray: An’ if I can help with that in any way, I will.

King Blueberry nods for a moment, and then turns back to Angie.

King Blueberry: Well then. Guess tonight just got a little more interesting. I appreciate the time, but I’ve, you know, got to go see a guy about a half-dozen smoke machines.

The last thing the camera catches before fading is our intrepid interviewer mouthing the words “smoke machines” with a furrowed brow.

GAN: NIGHTMARE ACTIVATED

We cut backstage where we see… Dusk. Look, there’s no need for a fancy smoke machine or theatrics. The man is standing against the wall, with a camera in front of him, and you know damn well what this is!

Take it away, Dusk!

Dusk: Great American Nightmare. Would it surprise you to learn that I’ve only competed once in my life at Great American Nightmare? It certainly surprised me. One match, against Cozen…

He shudders at the thought.

Dusk: And I pulled off the victory. That was fourteen long years ago. The parallels to that night fourteen years ago is a woman who attacked me… mentally compared to a man who attacked me… physically. A crazy woman to a crazy man. A man who seeks to destroy me because I’m… taking a spot from a younger wrestler.

Dusk shakes his head at the thought.

Dusk: Phil, I don’t know if you know this or not…

He motions for the camera to come closer to him…

Dusk: It might be a secret, Phil, so I’ll whisper it to you…

Dusk then clears his throat.

Dusk: YOU ARE FUCKING OLDER THAN ME, YOU DIPSHIT!

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Dusk: The hypocrisy is so rich that I can’t even believe it. Let me fill you in on something, Phil. You made this personal. You stepped into that ring and cost me a match against Tapioca Puddings. You commanded Hank to destroy me in the middle of that ring. You ran away when I came looking for you. But, I’m the fucking problem? 

He shakes his head once again.

Dusk: I’m going to fill you in on something, Phil. You’ve already done your worst to me. You ensured Hank gave me a concussion, made sure I was laid out on the shelf. You scared my daughter and granddaughter. You put my career at risk. I’ve been to hell and back, Phil. Now it’s your turn.

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Dusk: Bring your seven-foot mute freak. Bring your ‘holier than thou’ self to that ring. At the end of the day, what do I have to lose, Phil? What are you going to do to me that you haven’t already done to me? Smash my face into the ring post? Throw me off the top of the arena? Not your style. Your style is to sneak up on someone and lay them out. Now you have to look me square in the face and actually fight me. So tell me, what else can you do to me? Pin me? Take a fucking number. I’ve been pinned, Phil. I’ve lost. I’m still standing here, ready to fight.

He cracks his neck to one side and then the other.

Dusk: And there are stakes on this match. More so for you, Phil. I’ve had my chances at the Universal Championship. You though? You crave this opportunity because you know how quickly you will be forgotten if you lose at my hand. I don’t need a title shot to make this match important to me. I don’t need a title shot to raise the stakes in my mind. A title shot would be nice, but not nearly as nice as getting my hands on you and doing what I’ve dreamt about doing for the past two months.

He inches closer to the camera. 

Dusk: What can I do to you? I can expose you for the prick that you are. I can expose you in that ring and show you a fresh hell that you’re not quite familiar with. You merely dance in the shadows, Phil. I’ve lived my entire life there. Tonight, in that ring, you have everything to lose. Because tell me how you’re going to pick yourself back up off the mat if you actually lose to the man you wanted to destroy the moment you came to PRIME? Like the fucking loser you are. I didn’t ask for this fight, Phil, but I sure as fuck plan on ending it. You might beat me tonight. You might have Hank do your dirty work. But I promise you, after tonight, you will never be the same. I am your nightmare, Phil, and there’s not a fucking thing you can do about it.

Dusk then turns and marches down the hallway, heading towards the ring for his date with destiny. 

DUSK VS. PHIL ATKEN TALE OF THE TAPE

WINNER GETS UNIVERSAL TITLE SHOT AT REVIVAL 13:PHIL ATKEN VS. DUSK

Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall with a thirty minute time limit.

As the camera switches to the arena from the scene with Dusk, whose entrance music should hit but… Dusk’s?

“Death Grip” by Watt White churns through the arena’s PA system, and fans get on their feet and cheer rabidly for him as he marches down the ring to their chants.

DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!

And so on, and so forth.

Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall with a forty-five minute time limit! And it is for the NUMBER ONE CONTENDERSHIP FOR THE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP, to be decided at ReVival 13! Introducing first, from Los Angeles, California! He weighs in tonight at two hundred and twenty-five pounds! This! Is! DUUUUUUUSK!!!

Smoke fills the entryway, because Dusk does not make an entrance without smoke machines. It’s a rule. It’s in his contract. The crowd shouts in jubilation as the former Intense Champion marches down to the ring, trenchcoat billowing in the air. While he slaps a few hands on his way to the ring, his eyes are laser focused. He’s all business. 

He stomps up the steps and moves to one corner, ripping his coat off and then pacing around unable to fully contain himself.

Nick Stuart: The crowd’s definitely picked their favorite here tonight, Rich.

Richard Parker: Yeah, I get that. The crowd’s always entitled to be wrong.

Nick Stuart: Dusk’s been aching for revenge ever since Culture Shock, when Phil Atken and his associate made their debut in PRIME. 

Richard Parker: Yeah, Dusk’s head got dribbled like a basketball! It was awesome! It’s the animated background on my desktop now.

Nick Stuart: …What? 

Before Richard could elaborate, the mood suddenly takes a turn.

“(I Want to be The One) To Watch You Die” by The Megas hits the airwaves, and out comes the Humble Proprietor of the Glue Factory himself. He walks to the center of the entryway, eyes locked squarely on the ring and the man that awaits him there. He’s soon joined by his Chief of Security, the seven foot tall behemoth known simply as Hank. The pair makes their way down to the ring with the clear intention of making Civil Dusk a more permanent fixture of the Glue Factory’s wares.

Vince Howard: And his opponent, from Glascow, Scotland! He weighs in at two-hundred and twenty-five pounds! He is the Humble Proprietor of the Glue Factory, PHIIIIIIIIIIIL ATKEEEEEEEEEEN!!!

Upon reaching the ring, Atken leaps up onto the apron. He goes to wipe his boots on the edge of the canvas, with Hank getting ready to hold open the ring ropes. And then…

RAHHHHH!

Nick Stuart: Dusk’s not waiting for Atken!

The crowd roars as Dusk charges the ropes and hits Atken in the side of his unsuspecting head with a running flying knee. Atken flies off the apron in an uncontrolled fashion, hitting the guardrail on the outside. Hank stares impassively at Dusk, who shoots a contemptuous glare at the menacing giant, but makes no move towards him. Instead, he hops off the apron and takes several steps back, giving his boss and Dusk all the room they need to get their fight going.

Atken, the tough old son of a bitch he is, is already getting to his feet as Dusk’s feet land on the concrete. However, he’s disoriented. He stumbles right into Dusk’s waiting arms, who hits him with a forearm to the chin. A second one puts Atken on his back again.

Richard Parker: The bell hasn’t even rung yet! Dusk’s out here with zero regards for the rules!

Nick Stuart: He’s out for blood against the man that tried to end his life at Culture Shock!

Atken, for his part, is already trying to get to his feet. Dusk stalks after him as Atken tries to create space between the two, trying to reorient himself. Dusk takes him by the head and drags him over to the ring apron, slamming his head down onto it. THUNK. He does it again. THUNK. Atken, however, catches Dusk in the ribs with an elbow as he grabs his head for a third time. A forearm backs Dusk up, and gives Atken the space he needs.

Senior Referee Timo Bolamba has long gotten out of the ring to sort out some semblance of control in the contest. Neither participant is very interested in officially starting the contest, though. Atken pushes past the senior referee and lands an elbow at the top of Dusk’s head. This one rocks PRIME’s elder statesman, putting his back against the ring apron.

Nick Stuart: Senior referee Timo out here trying to restore ord—

Nick doesn’t finish his thought before the kick.

WHACK.

It hits like a gunshot. The sound and force of it is clear for everyone in the front row. Dusk’s chest takes the whole of Atken’s left leg, and the man stands rigid for a few moments before he stumbles backwards. He’s only kept aloft by the ring apron. WHACK. The second one, as crazy as it might sound, hits even harder. Dusk slumps down, breathing labored by the sudden introduction of Atken’s boot somewhere in his lungs.

With Dusk slumped down, Atken puts the boots to Dusk, burying him halfway under the ring apron with his relentless stomps.

BOOOOOOO!

Atken has a cheeky smirk on his face as he finishes his barrage of stomps by stamping the sole of his boot in Dusk’s face, and really leans into it. Timo starts a count, even though technically, the match hasn’t even begun yet.

Richard Parker: Look how quickly Atken turns the tables!

Nick Stuart: Atken has taken the upper hand here, and let’s make it clear here that the match hasn’t even started yet!

Atken stoops over and pulls up Dusk by his head. He’s getting ready to throw Dusk back into the ring to start the match, but then Dusk comes alive and smashes Atken with a forearm that sends him sprawling to the floor. Dusk doesn’t let up and presses his advantage, catching Atken in the gut with a knee. Then he grabs Atken by the head, gets a head of steam, and flings him into the barricade near the timekeeper’s table!

CRASH!

OHHHH!

Nick Stuart: Atken takes a rough landing, and Dusk is on the attack!

Indeed, Dusk immediately gets on top of Atken and rains fists down on top of the Glue Factory’s Humble Proprietor like it’s monsoon season. Dusk only gets up off of Atken when Timo reaches a four count, and then his eyes catch sight of the monster nearby.

While Hank hasn’t moved a muscle since Dusk attacked Atken to begin the match, he is too close to the proceedings for Dusk’s liking. So when Dusk gets off of Atken, his attention is drawn to the mute monster looming nearby. Hank doesn’t seem to notice or care. Perhaps he is daydreaming of the opulent splendor of the MGM Grand Pool. 

Dusk makes a crucial mistake at this moment, as he decides whether to superkick the giant or not.

It’s in making the assumption that Atken was down and out.

In a burst of speed you wouldn’t expect from a fifty-eight year old man, Atken rises up from behind Dusk and gives him a mighty push.

THUNK!

Richard Parker: Oh, so that’s what Dusk’s hollow skull sounds like when you hit it with something.

What hit Dusk’s skull, the density of which is under intense scientific dispute by PRIME’s top wrestling scientists, was the ring post.

Dusk’s head hits the post and he falls in a short spiral to the floor, face-down. Hank doesn’t move even as Dusk lays sprawled out on the ground by his feet, and only backs away when Timo yells at him to step back. Atken, for his part, gives one of his confident smirks as he strolls up to Dusk and grabs him by the hair.

And it’s at this point you know… it’s gotten real.

Nick Stuart: Oh my god! Dusk’s busted open!

A cut has formed just above Dusk’s right eye, and a volcanic spritz of blood is fast covering his face. Dusk looks glassy-eyed from the hit. Atken’s smirk turns into a smile.

And then he’s on him.

Atken himself now has a small wound of his own just under his eye, and now he’s returning the deluge of fists previously endured to sender. Timo once again has to start counting to make Atken break away from him. He does, eventually, his fists stained in Dusk’s blood.

Nick Stuart: Things aren’t looking good for Dusk here. And as a reminder, the bell hasn’t even rung yet.

Atken pulls Dusk up to his feet, and drags him in a headlock closer to the desk.

Richard Parker: Uh, he’s heading our way, Nick.

Nick Stuart: I see that…

Atken smirks when he sees PRIME’s intrepid commentary duo. He grabs Dusk by the wrist and the head, and swings him directly towards the desk. Richard and Nick both yell audibly into their microphones and move away, ready to dodge a flying grandfather.

Instead, Atken swivels Dusk around and tosses him into the ring instead.

He laughs, and makes a small wave to the commentators before rolling underneath the bottom rope and into the ring. And because everyone’s in the ring…

DING DING

…we can actually get this show on the road.

Atken can barely contain his amusement as Dusk grabs the ropes to try and get himself to his feet, showing the audience just how badly he was bleeding. His face is already a crimson mask. Meanwhile, the commentary team audibly gets their microphones working again.

Richard Parker: Not so sure I like this Atken fellow now.

Still, Dusk sees Atken, and regardless of how his vision’s holding up from the blood in his eyes or how light-headed he must feel after losing so much blood, he can’t help but charge in and smash Atken in the face with an elbow.

Atken reacts as though Dusk hit him with a nerf bat. Made of air.

He laughs.

And then he hits Dusk with an elbow so hard that it knocks him off his feet. When Dusk manages to get up again, Atken tees off on him, landing elbow after elbow in combinations on Dusk’s head. Dusk tries to cover up. It doesn’t matter. The elbows land through Dusk’s attempt at a guard. Dusk gets backed up all the way into the ropes, where Atken continues to beat him until Timo starts a five count.

Atken stops the beating, backing away from Dusk and holding his hands up. His arms are stained in blood, now, from his elbows to his hands.

The moment Dusk takes even a single step forward from the ropes, Atken goes back on the attack. This time, it’s a kick that catches Dusk in the thigh. A second one in the ribs sends Dusk into the corner. Then Atken tees off again, throwing elbows at Dusk’s head and face, pounding him until he’s in a seated position in the corner. Timo tries the five count again, but the relentlessness of Atken’s barrage causes Timo to physically pull him from Dusk’s bloodied husk.

Nick Stuart: This is getting very uncomfortable to watch, very quickly, Rich.

Richard Parker: Honestly, Timo should just stop this.

The fans, though, still support their man.

DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!

Atken, smirk still on his face, simply holds his hands up after Timo pulls him away. Timo walks over to Dusk, asking if he wants to stop the match. Before Dusk can even answer, Atken goes to deliver more blows.

RAHHHH!

Oh, that sound? That’s how the crowd reacts when Dusk, grasping the top ropes, pulls himself up and grabs Atken by the head. He spins Atken around, putting him in the corner, and pummels him with a furious string of rights and lefts!

Nick Stuart: Dusk is not done yet! He’s unloading on Atken! Rights! Lefts! An elbow! And… OH!

Atken hits Dusk with a knee in a gap between the blows. He gets out of the corner, and takes down Dusk with a snap mare. Atken hits the ropes in front of Dusk, and when he comes back…

THWACK!

…he kicks Dusk in the chest so goddamn hard that you could’ve heard it in Salt Lake City. 

A hush falls over the raucous crowd that’d been excited to see Dusk’s comeback. Atken places a knee on Dusk’s chest, and yells at Timo to make a three count.

ONE!

TWO!

NO.

RAHHH!

Nick Stuart: Dusk kicks out of the penalty kick, and Atken can’t believe it!

Indeed, the expression of Atken’s face is a mixture of disgust and bewilderment. The former is directed at Timo, who holds up two fingers. The latter is expressed towards Dusk. Atken gets back to his feet. Seeing Dusk sit up, Atken smirks, and then hits the ropes again for a second penalty kick.

He hits nothing but air.

Dusk punishes Atken on the whiff, scooping him up for the school boy. This only gets a one-count, though, as Atken easily rolls through it. Both men get to their feet, and Atken snaps off a kick.

Caught.

Atken realizes what’s about to happen maybe a second before it does. His sneering look of grim superiority vanished faster than a Spinal Tap drummer. Dusk pulls Atken into him and takes him down with a clothesline.

Richard Parker: How is he still fighting back!?

Nick Stuart: I don’t know, but Dusk’s on the offense, now!

Atken gets back to his feet. Dusk charges him and takes him down with a second clothesline. Dusk’s momentum carries him into the ropes, and he’s only barely able to stop himself before he runs headlong into them. Dusk turns, and sees Atken trying to rise again. So he goes for a third clothesline.

Atken ducks.

However, when Atken turns, he meets something he doesn’t expect. Which is surprising, because he’s in there with Dusk. And there’s one thing you should always be prepared for when you’re in the ring with Dusk.

THWACK!

Nick Stuart: Superkick from Dusk!

Atken doesn’t quite go down. He staggers as though punch drunk. No thoughts, head empty. He backs right up into Dusk’s waiting arms.

Nick Stuart: And a German!

Dusk, through some miracle, is able to hang on for a bridge.

Richard Parker: Unbelievable! 

Atken rolls out of the pinning predicament on the count of two. Dusk himself rolls to his stomach, and doesn’t move for a while. Timo begins a standard ten count. Atken is the one on his feet first, surprisingly enough. He staggers over to Dusk, and SLAP.

OOOH!

Atken pulls back and hits him with another SLAP, the sound of which was almost deafening. Dusk is almost on the verge of going down after the second slap, but manages to get himself vertical again.

SLAP.

That one has a different reaction. One entirely undesired by the Humble Proprietor. 

It wakes Dusk up.

Dusk squares up, and roars defiantly in the face of Atken. Undaunted, Atken goes for a fourth slap. Dusk blocks it, and then hits Atken in the face with a forearm. Several more follow, and Atken is backed up all the way into the corner. Atken has to cover up once he’s there, but then Dusk hits him with a knee. Then he pulls Atken in.

Nick Stuart: Dusk… gets the northern lights suplex!

There’s no bridge. Dusk rolls through, an impressive feat for a man of his age and blood loss. He stands up and backs into the ropes, and as Atken manages to sit up…

Nick Stuart: Shining wizard!

This puts Atken down, and Dusk manages to crawl on top of him.

ONE!

TWO!

NO!

Dusk pops up as Atken shoots the arm up, and grabs hold of it and his head.

Nick Stuart: ANACONDA CHOKE! Center of the ring! Atken has nowhere to go!

Dusk cranks back on the submission hold with everything he has. The crowd comes as alive as they ever had before.

DUSK! DUSK! DUSK DUSK!

Atken is screaming, his legs kicking uselessly behind Dusk’s body. Dusk is also screaming, his vocal cords straining as he puts everything he has into his deadliest submission hold. Fans shout, raucous as ever, hoping that Atken’s hand slaps the mat and puts this bloodbath at an end.

But even a veteran like Dusk makes a mistake from time to time, especially when he’s only being driven through his fatigue and blood loss by unbridled passion and anger.

He left Atken’s other arm free to do as it pleased.

Nick Stuart: Atken… ATKEN’S RAKING THE EYES! He’s attacking Dusk’s wound with his free hand! 

Even Dusk has his limits. He breaks the hold, holding his bloodied face, as though holding it would unblind what made him blind. Atken scrambles to the ropes, no doubt trying to avoid getting ensnared by an anaconda again, and definitely preferring to not end up like Jon Voight in that one movie.

Still, Atken makes it to his feet before Dusk could get all the way up. When he sees that Dusk is still on his hands and knees, he runs up.

WHACK!

Nick Stuart: Oh my GOD, what a kick to Dusk’s head!

Richard Parker: Ever seen a jousting lance? Imagine it had a wrestling boot at the end. That’s what Atken just did, right now.

Despite the kick, Dusk is somehow able to stay on his knees. Atken sees this. He waits for Dusk to sit up, and when he does, he kicks him straight in the chest.

TWHACK!

Dusk falls backwards onto his back, his knees bent under him in a manner that would be hell on someone his age. For a quiet and uncomfortable moment, the crowd was hushed. Atken shook his foot contemptuously. His self-satisfied smirk plastered all over his face…

…for about two seconds.

RAHHHHH!

And then Dusk rises from his goddamn grave.

Richard Parker: Where is he getting this from!?

Dusk roars to life, his arms outstretched. Inviting Atken to come at him with everything he has. 

DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!

Nick Stuart: Dusk wants more! This crowd wants more!

Well, Phillip Martin Atken is never one to turn away a challenge.

THWACK! A kick. THWACK! And another. THWACK! THWACK! THWACK! So many that you’d think that Phil’s trying to get his computer working. After the fifth kick, Atken backs into the ropes for another penalty kick.

It doesn’t come.

Dusk slumps down as Atken rebounds, and he’s forced to come up short or kick nothing but air. The hush returned to the crowd. Timo crouches down to check on Dusk as he lies nearly motionless on the canvas.

Nick Stuart: Timo’s over checking on Dusk, and… hey!

Atken didn’t care.

He moves to grab Dusk by the head and pull him up. But as he does, Dusk comes alive again. He grabs Atken and rolls him up in an inside cradle!

ONE!

TWO!

THRE-NO!

Miraculously, somehow, Atken found a way to escape Dusk’s ruse. He scrambles to his feet, red hot after nearly getting duped in such a manner.

THWACK!

And he takes another superkick.

Atken falls as a tree would in the woods. Dusk falls backwards, and the two men are down once again. Neither move for a time, even as Timo begins a ten count. When Timo gets to three, Dusk stirs, and begins to crawl to the ropes. At six, Atken manages to use the ropes to get to his feet. It takes until eight for Dusk to do the same.

An expression of befuddlement appears on Atken’s face. There might be more of Dusk spread across the mat than in the man staggering to his feet like he’s starring in a John Romero flick.

DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!

Nick Stuart: I don’t know how much Dusk has left, but Phil Atken looks like he’s seen a ghost!

Richard Parker: Well, he’s got those Beetlejuice pants, so… y’know.

Atken meets him with a slap. SLAP! It echoes like all the others. But it doesn’t quite have the same bite they did before. The match has taken its toll on Atken, as well. Dusk looks wobbly, his legs like jelly. Yet he musters up the strength to answer with a forearm.

Then it goes back and forth like this for a time. A SLAP! And then, a forearm. SLAP, then forearm. SLAP. Forearm. But then, Atken falters. He takes steps backwards after the third forearm, and more come for his dome. He’s backed into the ropes, and that allows Dusk to get an Irish whip on Atken.

Atken gets the reversal, and the moment Dusk hits the ropes, Atken runs into the ropes in the same direction. Dusk manages to stop his momentum, but realizes Atken isn’t there. He turns, and Atken slips behind him, and grabs the rear naked choke!

Nick Stuart: SHOTGU- NO! Dusk throws him off! SUPERKI- NO!

This time, the third time is not the charm for Dusk. Atken catches the boot mere moments from it hitting him a third time.

OHHHHH!

The kick Atken throws is a straight one, aimed right at Dusk’s plant leg. The crowd gasps as one. Even Nick is heard gasping on commentary. Dusk falls to his knees.

It’s almost too easy.

The piledriver that Atken employs, the Tarp, is usually held aloft for several seconds. Atken is not in the mood for such patience. He is aiming for the kill. So when he picks Dusk up for the piledriver, Dusk’s feet are barely even off the ground before his head hits the mat. The crowd gasps again.

Nick Stuart: That’s the Tarp! Atken just stuck him with that one, folks!

Atken lies on his back for a moment. Dusk’s body lingers between Atken’s legs for a moment before he falls to one side. Atken’s confident smirk is gone, now. His eyes tell a different story, that of a man who perhaps expected this to go a much different way than this. The crazy eyes. A man who knows he has to put an end to this.

He picks himself off the mat and pulls Dusk in.

Richard Parker: Oh, man, I don’t want to be Dusk right now.

Atken hoists Dusk up and holds him up in the piledriver position for a long, agonizing few seconds. He pivots several times, showing everyone in attendance what’s about to happen to their hero.

Nick Stuart: And there’s the Tarp! Again!

The impact of the piledriver pops Dusk up and lands him on his back next to Atken. Atken doesn’t even hesitate.

Nick Stuart: The Shotgun’s locked in!

Richard Parker: That’s it. He’s glue.

Atken gets his arms around Dusk’s throat, and his legs around his body. Every time Atken has done this since entering PRIME, it has ended the match. 

Despite this, the fans don’t want to give up hope.

DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!

For his part, despite everything, Dusk reaches out for a bottom rope that might as well be an entire parsec away from him. He’s barely conscious. And then, his arm falls to the mat. 

If it were up to him, then everyone knows he’d always choose to continue.

But it’s not up to him.

It’s up to referee Timo Bolamba.

DING DING DING

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of this match, by submission… PHIIIIIIIIL ATKEEEEEEEEEENNNN!!!

Nick Stuart: Phil Atken’s done it! He’s going to ReVival 13 with the Universal Championship hanging in the balance!

Despite the sound of the bell, and despite Vince Howard’s announcement, Atken hasn’t released the hold. It takes until Timo physically pulls Atken’s arms free of Dusk’s throat that he finally relinquishes the hold. When Atken does, he shoves Dusk off of him so contemptuously that it only spurs the fans to boo even louder.

Timo raises his arm in triumph once he gets to his feet.

Only then does the confident smirk return to Atken’s face.

Nick Stuart: Dusk gave it everything he had in this contest, Richard. 

Richard Parker: Yeah, and look where it got him, Nick! If Dusk gave everything he had and then some, and Atken still chokes him out… What’s going to happen on ReVival 13 is that we might just have a new champion!

As Atken slips out of the ring to join Hank on the outside, the scene cuts away as Timo checks on Dusk’s condition after the match.

TAKE WHAT YOU CAN GET

As we come back from commercial, we’re greeted with the smiling face of Matt Mills. He’s standing in front of a backdrop with the Great American logo, microphone in hand.

Matt Mills: Welcome, PRIMEates! In just a moment, I’ll be joined by Ria Nightshade for a backstage exclusive!

Seconds later, Ria Nightshade wanders onto the scene. She cautiously scans the area, as if some unknown source has filled her with paranoia. Same finally locks her sight onto Matt, her gaze full of distrust.

Ria Nightshade: Who the hell are you?

Matt is initially taken aback by the inquiry. He quickly recovers, chuckling in a good natured manner before answering her.

Matt Mills: Come on, Ria. You know who I am.

Ria crosses her arms on her chest. It’s apparent in short order that she won’t be answering any questions without a satisfactory explanation from the interviewer. Matt sighs heavily, doing his best to mask his annoyance.

Matt Mills: I’m Matt Mills, I conduct-

Ria interrupts Matt’s answer by shooting a hand up.

Ria Nightshade: Yeah, I don’t actually care. I was told you have a question for me, so get on with. It better not be stupid!

Mills stares at Ria for a moment. He closes his eyes, composing himself before pushing through with the best smile he can muster.

Matt Mills: There’s a rumor going around that you might debut a new finisher tonight! Is there any truth to that?

Ria cocks her head to the left, raising her right eyebrow. Her hands move to her hips, still skeptical of this whole situation.

Ria Nightshade: Not sure where you heard that, but it’s true.

Matt nods in response. He pushes forward, his body language more excited after this small bit of progress.

Matt Mills: Can you tell us more?

Ria looks back and forth. It’s as if she’s concerned with spies, ignoring the fact that the camera in front of her is broadcasting this message to millions.

Ria Nightshade: Well Mick-

Matt timidly holds up a finger, quick to correct the Toxic Queen.

Matt Mills: Matt.

Ria glares at the veteran staff member. The look says she won’t stand for any more interruptions from him. His shoulders sag, resigned to let her speak her mind.

Ria Nightshade: Bob. Well Bob, I don’t feel in a particularly talkative mood. You want something? Fine. The name is Toxic Shock Syndrome. I’m not gonna tell you what it is. If I happen to break it out tonight, you’ll know when you see it. That good enough for you?

While he seems to want to press further, Matt takes a half step back. The look Ria wears on her face is that of pressure. One misstep could set her off. This information will have to do, lest he want to see what the consequences of prying might be.

Matt Mills: Thanks for your time, Ria!

Ria Nightshade: You’re welcome, Fancy Microphone Stand.

Matt frustratedly throws his arms in the air, a look of exasperation on his face. Ria walks off, darting her head back and forth, weary of any information leaks.

INTENSE TITLE TALE OF THE TAPE

INTENSE TITLE: BARBED WIRE ROPES MATCHRIA NIGHTSHADE VS. THE ANGLO LUCHADOR VS. MORTIMER KJEDELIG VS. ANNA DANIELS

Nick Stuart: Up next is our Intense Title match… what an encounter we have for you. The ring crew have taken off the ropes and wrapped the ring in barbed wire. 

Richard Parker: This is going to be awesome! Blood is going to be everywhere! 

Nick Stuart: I didn’t know you were into death matches. 

Richard Parker: As long as I’m not in them. 

Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall with no time limit. It is a barbed wire rope match for the Intense Championship. The only way to win this match is to pin or submit your opponent inside of the squared circle. AAAAAAAND our FIIIIIRST competitor coming down the aisle is MOOOOOOOOOOOOORTIMER Kjedelig! 

The opening riffs of “The Immigrant Song” by Karen O with Trent Reznor begins and the masked man emerges from the curtain as the lights dim and the spotlights shine on the ramp. Mortimer Kjedelig begins making his way down the ramp, pointing to the fans in attendance. As he walks by, he pays no attention to the fans, he’s there to a job and his gait shows it. He slides into the currently open ring, steps up to the middle turnbuckle and raises his hands in the air as the spotlight shines upon him. He hops off the turnbuckle and readies himself for the match as the music fades.

Vince Howard: And the first of his opponents… from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAA NIIIIIIGHTSHAAAAAAAADE! 

The MGM Grand goes black before being bathed in neon green lighting as the synthesized drum beats of “Tonight (Well Make Love Till We Die” by SSQ fill the arena. After about 40 seconds, guitars and vocals join the drums.

 In darkness you will find me
I dance among the dead
But very soon I’ll need to hunt the scent of blood instead
Rising from your earthbed
It thickens in the air
A smell both sweet and rancid, I know that you are near

As the chorus begins, Ria Nightshade finally saunters out from backstage. As she stands near the entranceway, she drinks in the crowd while wearing her usual smirk. She confidently strides down to ringside, stopping at the apron. She swings her right leg up, her heel resting on the apron. She turns her head back towards the crowd, giving a wink before swinging her left leg up onto the apron.

She stays in the split for a second before sliding into the ring. Ria then sits up on her knees before bouncing up to her feet. She picks a random corner, sashaying over that way. Once there, she leans back against the turnbuckles in a seductive pose, waiting for her next opponent. 

Vince Howard: From Mount Perdition on the planet Gallifrey… AAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNAAAAA DAAAAAAAAANIELS! 

Lights go out.

At this point, you’re probably expecting “A Darkness In My Soul” to come through the speakers, right?

No.

Instead there is a drumroll with just the undercurrent of guitar. The drums build for just a bit. Then a spotlight on the top of the ramp shines through the faintest shade of smoke the smoke machine can puff out. It shows Anna Daniels sitting on a steel chair, feet propped on a random crate, sipping on a bottle of Asahi Super Dry to the mocking starting “na-na’s” of Nico Vega’s “Million Years.” She isn’t looking at the ring, looking at the crowd instead.

A common man is a common cold
You know I’m bigger than a body and I’m sweeter than gold
I got swords for hands, detective eyes
You never known something quite like the back of my thighs
You’re low, baby, low, so own your shit
Cause you done fucked up and you’re scared of it
You better learn from a man who’s afraid to dance
With a witch like me, and a wicked trance, ’cause…

The chorus does hit as she pops to her feet. She slips off her robe/cape and headpiece/crown, placing both on the chair. 

The Muse walks down to the ring without a care in the world. Her face is a blank slate, showing little on emotion except a small smirk at the equally small “BUY THE SHIRTS” chant that has just started up. There’s looks all over the place. One to a sign holder, another to the commentary desk, and a very brief one to Pom Shinjoku as they lock eyes for a moment. Finishing up her bottle of lager and setting the empty bottle on the floor, Anna rolls under the bottom rope. Only now looking at everyone inside the ring.

Even now, she isn’t bothered by this. This is the New Era in her element.

Vince Howard: And lastly, from PHILAAAAADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, THE AAAAAAAAANGLO LUCHAAAAAAAAAADOR! 

The lights in the arena go down. Red lights strobe gently at the entrance after a warning for those for whom flashing lights affect, and red-masked faces appear on the PRIMEview. “Oye Como Va” plays over the loudspeakers, but it is not the familiar original version by Santana. This one is grimier, harder, a metal cover by the band Los Los.

Nick Stuart: I don’t think The Anglo Luchador is playing around, Rich.

Richard Parker: He shouldn’t even be here for what he did to Larry Tact at ReVival 10! He should be fined, suspended, and handed over to Hoyt for flogging!

The Anglo Luchador steps out from the back, wearing a Ria Nightshade PRIME licensed shirt with the sleeves and sides cut out. He carries with him a baseball bat crudely entwined with barbed wire, eyes laser-focused on the ring. He stalks down the ramp paying attention to no one as the red masks slowly melt off the faces on the PRIMEview, leaving behind skulls. The fans do not know what to think. Families with small children are aghast. Meatheads who love gore are losing their ever-loving shit right now. The Son of the Shogun stops short of the ring apron.

Nick Stuart: Ria Nightshade for sure knows what she signed up for here, but did Anna Daniels and Mortimer Kjedelig?

Richard Parker: I just hope the Nevada Board of Corrections and the Department of Justice are watching this. Easy evidence. Open and shut for whatever case is going to come out of this. My Hoyt!

He slowly climbs up onto the apron, holds the bat with his left hand halfway up the barrel, and then drags the barbed wire across his right forearm, drawing blood. He puts his arm to his mouth and suctions. Then, pointing his head towards the rafters, he sprays his own blood in a fine mist from his mouth.

Nick Stuart: …

Richard Parker: I take back every bad thing I’ve ever said about this man. Not because I like him. Because I’m afraid.

As the blood drips from his forearm, he enters the ring and goes over to a corner, awaiting the bludgeoning that is to come.

DING DING

Nick Stuart: And here we go… our four competitors in the center of the ring. 

Richard Parker: And just like we thought! 

The Anglo Luchador and Ria Nightshade immediately beeline towards each other and start throwing right hands, fast and furiously. Mort and Anna Daniels are immediately in the same predicament. Ria and TAL fall to the mat, rolling and punching while Mort and Anna stay standing. The Multitudes fires off a right hand to Mortimer’s masked face, and he fires back with an eye rake that sends Anna Daniels stumbling. Mort tries to shove Anna Daniels backwards into the barbed wire but she steps out of the way, and Mort backs away from the north side of the ring’s ropes. 

Nick Stuart: That barbwire is already factoring into the equation. 

Richard Parker: No shit Nick, it’s barbed wire. These competitors have been factoring in since they found out. 

Nightshade comes out on top in the exchange on the ground with the Anglo Luchador on the south side of the ring. The two have rolled near the ropes, and Ria grabs a headlock and tries to drag Anglo towards the ropes. He struggles, and manages to slip his masked head out of the hold, Ria tries to get to her feet but Anglo slams his knee into her midsection causing her to double over. TAL grabs Ria around the midsection and sends another knee flying into her midsection. 

Nick Stuart: Vicious knees from The Anglo Luchador into Nightshade’s midsection! 

Richard Parker: Oh! Look at Mort and Anna! 

On the northside of the ring, Mort sends a right hand into Anna Daniel’s face. She responds with a low kick to the inside of his leg that momentarily hobles the larger man. Anna Daniels fires off a right and then a kick to Mort’s side. Mortimer manages to catch it but Daniels smashes him across the head with an enziguri. Mortimer wobbles back towards the ropes for a second, but falls forward onto his face instead. 

Nick Stuart: That was close. 

Richard Parker: Nobody’s bled yet. 

Nick Stuart: It’s been like three minutes! Plus TAL was bleeding before we started. 

Meanwhile on the southside of the ring, Anglo has started trying to push Nightshade backwards into the barbwire, but Nightshade manages to use her foot to push off the ropes and sending TAL stumbling back to the middle of the ring. Nightshade gives TAL a taste of his own medicine and slams him in the stomach with a running knee lift. She then grabs him in a front face lock and sends him careening to the mat with a DDT. 

Anna Daniels drags Mortimer over to the barbed wire, but the big man manages to get to his feet on the way and plants his feet. Frustrated, Anna transitions from holding the back of his mask to a Muay Thai clinch and drives a knee into Mortimer’s face. Mortimer’s legs wobble, and Daniels fires off another knee into his face. Mortimer spits out a mixture of his own phlegm and blood on the canvas, and charges Daniels pushing her back towards the ropes. 

Richard Parker: Oh yeah, just start bleeding without the barbed wire…

Nick Stuart: Richard I don’t think that’s a choice. 

Anna veers slightly connecting with the turnbuckle. Mortimer drives a shoulder into her midsection once, then twice. Anna uses her arms to cover her midsection and make an escape but Mortimer has her cornered. In the middle of the ring, Ria kicks him in the midsection and starts dragging him to the barbed wire. TAL tries to get up, but Ria plants a knee firmly in his back, and smashes his face off of the canvas. 

Nick Stuart: Ria Nightshade really giving Anglo Luchador the what for! 

Richard Parker: He made her! That glorious campaign for this match made Ria Nightshade. 

Nick Stuart: I beg to differ. 

Anna Daniels finally falls to the ground from the onslaught Mortimer has put her through, Mort backs off to the center of the ring and comes running into the corner looking for a kick, but Daniels moves and Mortimer’s leg goes through the ropes. The NEW ERA of PRIME gets to her feet to see Mortimer carefully trying to remove his leg from the barbed wire. 

Richard Parker: Get Mort out of there! Someone get him unstuck! 

Nick Stuart: I don’t think that’s how this match works. 

Anna sweeps his planted leg out from under him, finally causing more than just the fabric of his clothing to connect with the barbed wire. Mortimer roars in pain while Anna Daniels takes a moment to recover. Ria has managed to drag TAL most of the way to the barbwire and is trying to run his face across the ropes, TAL is pressing against the mat, but his grip keeps slipping. He realizes he can’t generate enough leverage and grabs the barbed wire. 

Nick Stuart: What a decision by Anglo Luchador! 

Richard Parker: BRAVERY NICK! THAT’S BRAVERY! 

Nick Stuart: Or self preservation. 

TAL gets himself to a standing position using the ropes but Nightshade kicks him in the midsection. The elderly luchador fights through the pain and manages to stomp at Ria’s foot as hard as he can. The shock of the move gives TAL an opening and he pulls his hands off the ropes and grabs Nightshade by the hair and whips her into the barbed wire. Anna notices things going south for Ria Nightshade and comes across the ring and hammers home a right hand across The Anglo Luchador’s face. The unexpected shock stuns TAL, and Anna Daniels hits him with a perfect dropkick, sending him into the barbed wire.

Richard Parker: No! You’re supposed to be fighting Morty! This isn’t some type of team up! 

Nick Stuart: There aren’t any rules Richard, anything goes, including teaming up. 

The old crafty veteran manages to keep his arms off of the wire and reaches out and pulls Anna Daniels into the wire with him. Ria struggles and manages to rip her midsection out of the barbed wire and starts unloading with right hands on The Anglo Luchador. In the meantime, Mortimer has carefully freed his legs from the barbed wire and comes running into the scene on the ropes like a bull in a china shop. He connects with a clothesline to the back of Ria’s head, his body thumping into The Anglo Luchador, and his other arm clotheslining Anna Daniels and stopping her attempt to free herself from the barbed wire. 

Richard Parker: Did the ropes just creak? 

Nick Stuart: That’s a lot of human being tied up in barbed wire… 

Richard Parker: OH SHIT! NO MORTY! 

Mortimer backs up and runs at the now trapped grouping, Ria Nightshade and The Anglo Luchador are intertwined, body and barbed wire, while Anna Daniels is directly beside TAL. Mort gets close and leaps, delivering a huge cross body to all three. 

SNAP 

HOLY SHIT! 

HOLY SHIT! 

Richard Parker: HOLY SHIT! 

Nick Stuart: Holy shit. 

The barbed wire ropes on the east side of the ring snap, sending all four competitors spilling down to the arena floor, a tangle of barbed wire and bodies. Mortimer starts to pull himself free from the barbed wire very carefully while the rest of the competitors lay resting and bleeding on the floor. 

Nick Stuart: The barbed wire ropes on the side of the ring farthest from us have snapped. 

Richard Parker: No shit Nick, no shit. Jesus, I get wanting to turn them into pin cushions… 

Nick Stuart: I’m still in shock. 

Mortimer is the first to his feet as the rest begin to rise. Just as Ria Nightshade peels herself free from TAL she encounters a boot to the stomach. Ria fights back, dropping to her knees on the barbed wire and smashing Mortimer with a low blow. Mortimer hunches over and walks gingerly over to the apron and leans against it. Ria pulls herself up, blood and puncture wounds across her clavicle. She turns towards Mortimer and lays a kick into his midsection, then grabs him by the arm and whips him as hard as she can into the steel steps. 

Nick Stuart: What an Irish whip from Ria Nightshade. 

Richard Parker: Cheating! SHE CHEATED! 

Nick Stuart: There’s no rules Richard. 

The Anglo Luchador and Anna Daniels finally get to their feet, TAL is dazed from taking the brunt of the cross body, and having Ria land on him while on the floor. Blood is streaming down his back. Anna grabs him by the mask and slams him face first into the barricade. The old luchador tries to fire back by slamming her head into the barricade but Daniels grabs ahold of TAL’s fingers and snaps it backwards. 

Richard Parker: Oh no… not finger stuff I hate finger stuff. 

Nick Stuart: Creative offense here from Anna Daniels! 

TAL shakes his bleeding hand furiously as Anna grabs his arm and irish whips him into the barricade, away from Mortimer, Ria, and the barbed wire floor. Ria grabs Mort’s face and drives the back of his skull into the steps again, before pulling him to his feet. She grabs the much larger man, and tries to slam him onto the barbed wire with a uranage. Mortimer manages to stretch his back leg out so he can’t be tripped and pushes Ria Nightshade away from him. 

Richard Parker: Thank God. 

Nick Stuart: That could have been bad for both competitors. 

Richard Parker: I don’t know if Ria really cares. 

Mortimer tries to catch his breath but Nightshade is right back at him, raking her nails down his back. Mortimer yelps and walks away from the barbed wire holding his back. Ria is right behind him and drives his face into the padded concrete with a running bull dog. On the other side of the ring Anna Daniels grabs TAL and tries to irish whip him into the steel stairs, but TAL stops himself in his tracks, turns around and ripcords Anna Daniels into a big right cross. Anna sprawls out on the concrete floor as TAL reaches under the ring and pulls out a table. 

Richard Parker: HAH!

Nick Stuart: The violence in this match keeps escalating. 

Richard Parker: I’m just glad we got rid of the KFC kitchen under there. 

Ria Nightshade looks across the ring and sees The Anglo Luchador setting up the table, she takes off sprinting around the far side. TAL sets the table up on the arena floor and begins grabbing the barbed wire off the ground, he turns around and places it on the table but gets caught with a diving forearm. TAL is floored, but manages to roll to one knee. Ria is up in an instant and grabs the old Luchador by the face and pulls him towards the barbed wire ropes. 

Nick Stuart: Ria with a big save, and Anna Daniels gets a moment to recover. 

Richard Parker: Not if my boy Mort has anything to say about it. 

Stumbling around the corner comes Mortimer, but Anna Daniels has made it to her feet. She fires off a right hand to the large mask man, and follows it up with a front kick to the top of the thigh. Mort’s knee buckles and Anna smashes him in the face with a knee. Mort turns around holding his already busted mouth but Anna hooks both of his arms and slams him to the arena floor with a Tiger Suplex. Meanwhile TAL elbows Ria in the stomach and grabs her face pulling it towards the barbed wire. 

Richard Parker: Get her! 

Nick Stuart: This is sick. 

He pushes her face towards the ropes, but Anna Daniels comes back and slams TAL across the side of the head with a forearm. Anna grabs the Anglo Luchador by the back of the head and slams his face off of the ring apron. TAL ricochets back up, and Ria slams his head off the mat a second time. Ria grabs TAL’s face and runs it across the barbed wire ropes causing part of his mask to tear and reveal his forehead. 

Nick Stuart: Big gash opening up on TAL’s forehead here. 

Richard Parker: The ringside area might as well be a moat. 

Anna, seeing Ria has everything in hand, turns around and gets smashed with a clothesline by Mort. TAL manages to gouge Ria in the eye with his thumb and stumbles off for safety holding his head. TAL makes it back over to the barbed wire free side of the ring, grabs his bat and rolls in. Ria is hot on his tail. Anna and Mortimer are trading wobbly right hands, and finally Mort kicks her in the stomach and hits her with a DDT. 

Nick Stuart: Ria Nightshade and Anglo Luchador are having a show down in the middle of the ring! 

Richard Parker: Anna Daniels and this NEW ERA thing might be DOA after Mort’s done slamming her head off the concrete! 

The Anglo Luchador kicks Ria in the stomach and he raises his bat into the air to a mixed reaction from the crowd as Ria is barely able to stand in front of him. 

Nick Stuart: He can’t be thinking…

Richard Parker: After the brutality we’ve seen in this match, I’d be surprised if he didn’t try to do batting practice on that poor woman’s eye socket. 

Nick Stuart: And with Pom Shinjoku in the front row! He can’t be.

The Son of the Shogun takes the bat and calls his shot. He winds up, but at the last second stops his swing. Instead, he heaves the bat behind him in a Jose Bautista-worthy flip as if he just won the World Series. The crowd, which had cheered every gory action in this match from all four competitors at this point, rises in unison to cheer the Luchador’s decision. On the outside Mortimer pulls Anna Daniels to her feet, but she manages to fend him off with a kick to the stomach and drives him head first into the barricade. 

Nick Stuart: I don’t believe it! The Anglo Luchador has a heart after all!

Richard Parker: But he has no brain! He could have had this match won!

Nick Stuart: To quote Anthony Mackie from that Disney Plus series everyone hated about my partner here, “he’s out of line, but he’s right.” But I think I’m glad his heart won over his brain here.

Anna Daniels runs and goes to knee Kjedelig in the face but Mort slumps over and Daniels’ knee crashes into the barricade. The old luchador grabs Ria by her waist and lifts her perpendicularly to the canvas. After a 450-degree turn, he drops her on her neck at a sharp angle.

Nick Stuart: KARELIN DRIVER! KARELIN DRIVER! THAT’S HIS OLD FINISHER! HE’S GOT THE INTENSE CHAMPIONSHIP WON!

Elvis Nixon drops to the canvas on the inside of the ring. On the outside of the ring Anna Daniels tries to run into the ring but Mortimer lunges and tackles her to the ground. The two scramble around on the floor until the larger man gets the upper hand. 

ONE…

Nick Stuart: CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? RIA NIGHTSHADE KICKS OUT AT ONE! SHE TOOK THE ANGLO LUCHADOR’S HEAVIEST SHOT AND KICKED OUT AT ONE!

Richard Parker: Oh my Hoyt. I don’t think she can be denied tonight, Nick.

TAL gets to his feet and is wobbling as Ria drags herself to her feet. The two square off and two big right hands and TAL is falling backwards to the turnbuckles. Ria grabs the old man by the arm and sends him flying into the barbed wire closest to Anna Daniels and Mortimer. Mortimer is pulling Anna Daniels up to her feet by her hair. He grabs The Time Lord and lifts her up for a power slam. Anna fires off right hand after right hand and finally The Muse slides off his shoulders and lands on her feet. Ria runs at The Son of the Shogun and rips him off the barbed wire with a picture perfect cutter. 

Richard Parker: NOOOOOOOO!

Nick Stuart: Huge jumping cutter by Ria Nightshade! She calls it Toxic Shock Syndrome! 

Mortimer and Daniels are back to trading strikes on the outside. Mortimer manages to come back after an eye rake and kick Anna Daniels in the stomach, he lifts her up for a power bomb. Ria Nightshade sees it out of the corner of her eye and instead of pinning TAL goes flying over the barbed wire ropes. She’s a second too late as Anna Daniels is smashed through the barbed wire covered table with a power bomb. 

Richard Parker: YEEEEEEEEEEES! SHE CAN’T TURN BACK TIME NOW! 

Ria lands and shoves Mortimer, he hits the barricade, but Ria crashes into the carnage of the barbed wire table. Ria tries to pull herself up, but Mortimer runs over and slams her down on the barbed wire with his arm-trap neck breaker.

Richard Parker: HAH! HE GOT HER TOO! 

Nick Stuart: The Bust Out has Nightshade covered in barbed wire. 

Mortimer stumbles through the carnage towards the ring and rolls in on the open side. He looks down at a still unconscious TAL and smiles. A man comes through the crowd with a chair wrapped in barbed wire, and slides into the open end of the ring right behind Mortimer. 

Richard Parker: GET THAT FAN OUT OF HERE! 

Nick Stuart: That doesn’t look like a fan Richard…

The man slides into the ring, directly behind Mortimer Kjedelig. The man taps Mortimer on the shoulder, he turns around directly into a chair shot right to the top of the head. Mortimer hits the ground like a sack of bricks. The man smashes him in the head with the chair again, and then smashes him in the ribs with it.

Richard Parker: NO! NO! NO!

Nick Stuart: NO! THAT CAN’T BE! 

Richard Parker: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Tony ‘The Grin’ Gamble turns around, trademark smirk across his face. 

Nick Stuart: TONY GAMBLE IS HERE FOLKS! THE PRIME HALL OF FAMER HAS JUST FLOORED MORTIMER KJEDELIG! 

Richard Parker: I need another pair of pants. I just shit myself. 

Gamble yanks the barbed wire off the chair and drops to the ground on top of Mortimer. He locks in the Smile For Me using the barbed wire across Mortimer Kjedelig’s mouth. Mort is unresponsive as Gamble yanks back on the hold extremely hard before slamming Mortimer’s head off the canvas. He lets go of the hold and starts to exit the ring but The Enemigos come down and surround Gamble who puts his hands up in the air. The Anglo Luchador looks up glassy eyed and sees Mortimer unconscious on the ground. He crawls over leaving a blood smear across the canvas.  

Nick Stuart: This can’t end like this. 

Richard Parker: OH YES IT CAN! THE FIX IS IN! JUST LIKE WHEN KENNEDY BECAME PRESIDENT! 

Ria Nightshade and Anna Daniels try to rip the barbed wire off of themselves frantically as Elvis Nixon slides over for his first cover of the night. 

ONE! 

TWO! 

THREE! 

DING DING DING

Vince Howard: The winner of this match, and the NEEEEEEEEEW INTENSE CHAMPION! THE AAAAAAAAANGLO LUCHAAAAAAAADOR! 

Nick Stuart: Mortimer just got robbed. 

Richard Parker: Who cares, the right guy won! 

Ria Nightshade finally rolls through the open end of the ring, a bloodied mess. Anna Daniels looks back into the ring momentarily, then stumbles her way back down the aisle. 

Nick Stuart: We’re gonna cut backstage while they clean this ring up… 

Richard Parker: I don’t think so Nick…

The only two left in the ring that are still conscious are The Anglo Luchador and Ria Nightshade. Both are bloodied and beaten, but neither is broken. The old luchador with the half torn mask rises to his feet and looks over at Ria.

He’s extending his hand.

Nick Stuart: After everything he’s put her through, he’s got a LOT of nerve to extend an olive branch.

Richard Parker: Even he might agree with you there, Rich, but let’s see how this plays out.

He nods as vigorously as his tired muscles allow him to while his hand is outstretched. He speaks to her, without aid of a microphone. Only those within 30 feet or so can hear him.

TAL: I’m sorry. I really am.

The Toxic Queen scowls momentarily but turns away, blushing slightly.

Nick Stuart: I don’t know what’s going on here. But I don’t think Ria is having any of it.

TAL: You don’t have to take my hand here. I understand. If you want, I will leave you alone forever. You deserve whatever it is you want. I just want to make sure you know I’m sorry.

Ria gets up and stares at the old luchador. It’s unclear whether a tear is forming in her eye or if it’s just perspiration. Her look softens for a moment before she lifts her head up.She shakes her head sadly before pushing past him to walk away.

TAL: Yeah, I deserve that. No hard feelings from me.

The old luchador turns around to collect his bat, when suddenly, every light in the Grand Garden Arena goes dark.

Nick Stuart: What is it now? 

Richard Parker: I have no idea Richard.

The din of the crowd reaches fever pitch before the lights turn back on to show Balaam standing in front of The Anglo Luchador, breathing literal steam out of the nose holes in his mask. Duke Williams and Joe Burro flank him, barking orders to attack.

Nick Stuart: This is disgusting! The Anglo Luchador just fought a war against three of the best wrestlers PRIME has to offer!

Richard Parker: Justice waits not for you to rest, Nick! The Anglo Luchador will finally pay for his sins at the hands of Hoyt’s chosen executioner!

With dried blood caked on his skin and muscles aching, the old luchador strikes first, peppering Balaam’s chest with stiff-ass, chest-reddening knife-edge chops that hurt his own hand and wrist more than they do the monster’s chest. The Mask of Malice goozles the Shogun’s Son’s throat, looking to put him through the mat with a chokeslam. The old luchador is able momentarily to break free by kicking Balaam’s leg out of his leg, but before he can turn to escape, Balaam grabs him again by the back of his shoulder.

Nick Stuart: I think we’re seeing the end of The Anglo Luchador here in PR…

Stuart’s commentary is interrupted by an absolute eardrum-shattering pop from the crowd. Ria Nightshade has turned around and is sprinting back to the ring. She picks up the barbed-wire bat that The Anglo Luchador crafted and sends a Shohei Ohtani-sized home run crack to Balaam’s ribs.

Nick Stuart: She’s back! The Toxic Queen is back! Maybe there is room for forgiveness in her?

Richard Parker: No, she’s just another heathen who needs a flogging!

She winds up again to take aim at the Mask of Malice, but he shrugs off the first shot too quickly for her to get another off. Suddenly, Hoyt’s acolyte has both the Son AND Daughter of the Shogun by their throats.

Nick Stuart: Oh no. The Enemigos are distracted handling Tony Gamble! They can’t come out here to get involved!

Lift. CRASH. The Anglo Luchador and Ria Nightshade both are planted on the canvas, eyes facing the lights of the Grand Garden Arena before they go out again. After a few seconds, they return on. Balaam, Duke, and Burro are all gone. EMTs rush out of the back to get the two competitors loaded up and taken backstage for medical attention.

Nick Stuart: Okay… now we’re going… get more people out here NOW! 

Richard Parker: HOYT! YES HOYT SAVES! 

Cut backstage

WHY DOESN’T ANYONE SMILE ANYMORE?

“What, you guys aren’t happy to see me?”

The unwelcome guest in the Intense Title match, Tony “The Grin” Gamble, finds himself being hauled through the backstage area by all five Enemigos, presumably on his way to be tossed out of the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The entirety of the Enemigos squad really isn’t necessary for dealing with Gamble, since he barely cracked two bills and was shorter than Mike Best the last time anyone saw him, but in these circumstances it’s important to have a show of force.

We’re lying about Tony’s height, by the way. You can thank EmoChris for deleting his bio on the old site, so now we gotta make shit up.

Anyway.

Enemigos 1 and 6 have Gamble by the arms. 4 and 5 walk out in front while 3 follows a step behind. Tony takes a look around as he’s carted along, seeing if he notices anyone from the good ol’ days.

Tony Gamble: You should be praising me right now, not throwing me out. What’s a big event without a surprise or two, am I right? 

His chatter goes unanswered. 

Tony Gamble: You’d think a Hall of Famer would be shown a little more respect. You should have me hoisted on your shoulders; celebrating my grand return, instead of dragging me like a dog through the streets. Seriously amigos, I can walk on my own two feet, y’know.

“Can you?”

The contingent stops suddenly and Enemigos 3 and 4, the two largest security bois, step aside.

Lindsay Troy: (frowning) Would be a shame if something were to happen where you couldn’t.

The Queen of the Ring is flanked on either side by both Dametreyus and Wade Elliott. None of them look particularly pleased to see the Grin, least of all his old nemesis the ‘Bama Bruiser. Might have something to do with Chet Fleetwood, who’s to say, really? Still, Tony beams up at them as he finds his arms released by his captors.

Tony Gamble: Queenie. You look good.

Lindsay Troy: Scarface. You don’t.

Gamble’s smile falters for a split-second before he musters up a laugh.

Tony Gamble: Too bad your personality didn’t age as gracefully…

The scowl on Elliott’s face deepens, but before he can open his mouth, Troy steps forward.

Lindsay Troy: You’re not in a position to make jokes here, dipshit. Hall of Famer or not, you don’t currently work here, so that little stunt you pulled constitutes trespassing. And while I’m sure Las Vegas’ finest would love to deal with you, I’ve got a feeling the man you screwed out of the Intense Title’s gonna want a piece of you for himself.

Troy gives The Grin a grin of her own.

Lindsay Troy: And to me, that’s a lot more satisfying.

The former 5 Star champion brushes his hands along his sleeves, shrugging slightly as he shakes his head.

Tony Gamble: Well, technically, that would be assault… With me not currently working here and all. If anything, he should be glad I saved him some face. You’re telling me you believe he actually had a chance out there?

Lindsay Troy: I believe he had a better chance than you would in his position. Want to prove me wrong?

With a slight chuckle, Tony runs a finger along his scar before rubbing his chin.

Tony Gamble: I don’t know, I have a lot of things on my plate right now. 

Lindsay Troy: We caught Cirque du Soleil the other night and didn’t see you performing, and I know the regular circus isn’t in town. I think you’ve got a free and clear schedule…otherwise, you wouldn’t be here.

The Queen opens up a door and beckons Gamble inside.

Lindsay Troy: I know you, Tony. You’re just like the rest of the old guard that came back…the itch never left. So why don’t you step into my office and we can talk brass tacks.

Tony Gamble: Not really interested in tacks, but if you can get me one of those cool zebra striped shirts like Timo, maybe we can work something out.

Lindsay Troy: I’m sure I can rustle one up for you somewhere. Shall we?

Gamble looks at the Enemigo on either side of him, then to Wade and Dametreyus, then adjusts his shirt, looking pretty pleased with himself. He saunters over to the office door and walks in…but stops short.

Tony Gamble: Hey wait a min…

Before he knows it, he’s being shoved inside a broom closet, with the door slammed shut behind him. Dametreyus and Wade both chuckle, although the Bad Dog’s is a little less mirthful than his co-Head of Security’s.

Lindsay Troy: Friggin idiot. Works every time.

Dametreyus: You really gonna hire him back, Boss?

Lindsay Troy: I dunno yet. I’ve got the main event to think it over. But Mort deserves to give him a little come-uppance, don’t you think?

Wade Elliott: More’n just a little.

Banging can be heard from inside the broom closet as the scene fades away.

BURYING THE BARBED WIRE BAT

Dr. Astrid Fihlguud’s office was busy with Great American Nightmare. Most wrestlers passed in and out, but currently, The Anglo Luchador and Ria Nightshade both have spent more time than anyone else in that office after their encounter not only with each other, Mortimer Kjedelig, and Anna Daniels, but with Balaam after that match. Dr. Fihlguud is doing the last part of the concussion protocol test to the old luchador. As she finishes up, she looks over at Ria with a glance trying to center both wrestlers in her line of sight.

Dr. Fihlguud: Both of you passed initial concussion protocol tests, but I would feel a lot better if I had you both checked into Sunrise and stayed overnight for observation. I doubt they’ll find anything, but I just want both of you to be checked out as thoroughly as possible.

TAL: Well, you’re the only one they call starts singing in the tune of the Motley Crue song FIIIIHLGUUUUUD.

Dr. Fihlguud: I swear to God, the next person that does that to me, I’m putting Ivermectin in their IV. Jesus Christ…

As PRIME’s chief physician walks back to her desk to start making arrangements for an overnight stay, the old luchador turns to his foe from earlier.

TAL: Hey, uh, thanks for at least trying to save me back there. I know it wasn’t much, but like, the fact you came back means a ton to me.

Ria is dead silent.

TAL: I meant what I said though. If you want to be done with me, I understand. I have a lot to make up for. I don’t know if me forcing you to see my song and dance would be fair to you.

The silence lingers a moment longer before Ria speaks.

Ria Nightshade: I wasn’t gonna come back for you, not at first. I figured you had what was coming to you. But when Balaam put his hands on you, I felt that anger rising… I remembered what he did to your hands…

Ria still has yet to turn and face TAL. Her expression is solemn, serious. Her focus is downward. There’s no way of knowing what exactly she’s thinking. Is she embarrassed over the beating both had received? Maybe it’s embarrassment over the way she has handled their relationship?

TAL: Well look at you; there IS a human behind all the homicidal urges and Hot Topic makeup.

Silence again.

TAL: Sorry, I am who I am, and that’s a jackass. Look, I didn’t initially choose you to, well, use you. I had some kind of match in the back of my mind all the time. I always respect people who make their way in this industry, who reach for what they want. I could tell from the Jabber pokes and the press conference, you had a fire in you. I had to see how hot it was. I know you don’t give a shit if you earned my respect tonight, which you did, but man, did you hear all those people? They love you.

If you were to follow her eyes, you’d be forgiven for thinking Ria hadn’t heard a single thing The Anglo Luchador said. Her gaze is still locked onto the floor when she speaks again.

Ria Nightshade: I’m fueled by emotion. Emotion is the reason I exist. I might say biting shit from time to time, but I have feelings. Those feelings can get hurt. I can try to shield them, try to hide them away, but I can’t completely protect them.

Ria finally looks towards TAL. It’s a sideways glance, one where she still isn’t making eye contact. It’s progress from burning a hole in the ground with her sight, but one who can read people can tell this is a struggle for her.

Ria Nightshade: It’s cool having support, but I wasn’t looking for it. I’m just being me. I am who I am, too. You think I don’t give a shit about your respect? I might not say it out loud, but there’s people I look up to around here.

The old luchador lets out a muffled laugh as he drops his head, looking at the scars forming on his chest.

TAL: I mean, yeah. Anna. If she’s not on the most powerful, next-level LSD unknown to anyone else, she’s apparently surfed the cosmos. Hard not to look up to her.

Her eyes return to where they once were. There’s a different air to her now. It’s subtle, but if you look close, you can see the faintest hint of pink to Ria’s cheeks. Almost as if she were… blushing?

Ria Nightshade: It’s not just Anna. There’s Cally and RK, who have a kindness and optimism that just seems unbreakable. There’s Baron Von Blackberry, a guy going out of his way to help his students grow. There’s Sykes, who constantly fights through his past for a better future. Timo could use whatever shitload of money he has to do a ton of things, but he tries to use it for others. Then, there’s you…

The tinge of pink deepens closer to red. Ria shifts uncomfortably. You can tell there’s more on her mind, things that she could and very likely does want to say. That door stays closed, at least for the moment. Quiet has slid back onto the scene, capturing attention and inserting awkwardness back into the conversation. The old luchador closes his eyes slowly, bitterly. If you could see into his eyeholes, you’d see a tear forming.

TAL: I’ve thought a lot about the concept of penance over the weeks. Power. What I needed to do to slay monsters and be the best person I could be. I don’t need your forgiveness to move forward. If you want to give it, I’d be happy. Probably not deserving.

He clears his throat a little.

TAL: But no matter how much I try, I can’t change shitty things I’ve done, or in some cases, tried to do and was stopped. The only thing I can do going forward is do things that would make me deserve people like you, Ria, looking up to me. So let’s start now…

He kicks his feet off the gurney he was brought into Dr. Fihlguud’s office on and hops off. He extends his hand to Ria.

TAL: Why don’t we get outta here. Hospital’s not my scene tonight anyway. Timo has the night off from officiating the last match on the show, so let’s go see him. And I’ll give you my friend Pom’s number too. I think she has a lot she could impart to you too. I think the right people in your ear? You could be Universal Champion here. And I’m not just saying that to try and butter you up after all the crap I’ve pulled either.

Ria’s hand moves slightly, but she hesitates. Finally, she looks the old luchador in the eyes. Maybe she’s trying to assess the truth in his words? Perhaps it’s a way to show that respect before she takes his hand? Or there’s a chance she’s giving him a look at her eyes. If they are a window to one’s soul, there’s no better way to show respect and trust. Ria does have one better way to do that. She finally takes hold of The Anglo Luchador’s hand with a gentle grip while hopping off her own gurney.

Ria Nightshade: You might be full of shit… But that all sounds really good. Too good to pass up.

The old luchador looks now the same way he did when his first son was born. At peace. The narrator is not sure here whether he deserves to feel that way, but life works out sometimes in screwy ways. He pulls Ria completely off the gurney and lets go.

TAL: Alright, let’s make like a shepherd and get the flock outta here before the doc gets back with marching orders.

Ria nods and they leave the office. A few moments later, Dr. Fihlguud reemerges into the patient area with some files.

Dr. Fihlguud: Okay, I talked to Sunrise and… what the heck?

She notices both her patients have left, both gurneys as empty as Jesus’ tomb three days after the first Good Friday.

Dr. Fihlguud: Next performance review, I’m asking Lindsay Troy for a goddamn 50 percent raise. I can’t with this roster. I CAN’T.

The camera cuts back to the Grand Garden Arena. It’s MAIN EVENT TIME.

COMING SOON … ULTRAVIOLENCE

SEPTEMBER 23, 2022

TAG TEAM TITLES TALE OF THE TAPE

SURVIVOR FINALS: TAG TEAM TITLESFIGHTING FOR NORA VS. BLUE LIVE CREW

The noise of the crowd is low but active, a constant buzz as they anticipate the final match of the night. Fans across the venue wait for either of the final two surviving tag teams’ music to hit so they can stand and cheer.

Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall with no time limit and is for the WOOOOOOORLD TAG TEEEEEEEAAAAAAM CHAAAAAAMPIONSHIPS!

Nick Stuart: We’ve made it, Richard. It’s been an incredible night and we’re ready for the main event, which will decide the first Tag Team Champions of the ReVival era.

Richard Parker: I hate cancer and equally hate mannequins, so I think you know who I’m rooting for tonight.

They’re going to have to wait a few moments, though, as the only sound is of a typewriter clicking. The PRIMEview’s black screen suddenly has one name written in Courier font.

“THE NEW LIFE” JONATHAN RHINE

Fans begin to cheer as another name is typed below the first.

PAXTON RAY

As the last letter is typed, the bassline of “Piece by Piece” by Strata rumbles through the speakers. The letters on the screen start to disappear one by one.

T   N   IF                   O           RHIN

 A  O  R

And as the instruments pick up, the letters move across the screen as two Gs and an F drop from the top, spelling out the team’s name as the vocals explode in a long and garbled scream.

FIGHTING FOR NORA

At the top of the ramp the team appears. Paxton Ray enters first, looking out at the crowd uneasily. Though he has been in PRIME for four months, this is only the second time he has walked down this ramp. Jonathan Rhine, though, has made this walk hundreds of times, and his demeanor reflects it. He’s got a black eye and has white tape around his torso, but he’s smiling. 

I found these plastic parts and wires
Let’s split me open at the seams
And rip out everything inside
Make room for all these new machines
Sew me up and pray that I survive
A brand new me-Piece by Piece

Nick Stuart: Former PRIME Intense Champion Jonathan Rhine looks like he’s been through an hardcore match, but I don’t think you could stop him from fighting tonight if you tried.

Shweta Kallemullah enters last, looking out across the crowd with a smile. She looks at her charges and nods. They walk together, Jonathan looking at his tag team partner and talking, giving him advice before the biggest match in the young man’s life. Paxton Ray either doesn’t hear him over the crowd or is too focused on the task at hand, because he doesn’t look over or acknowledge him. The song rolls into the chorus as Ray and Rhine approach ringside. 

Vince Howard: Your main event is one fall, and is for the PRIME Tag Team Championships…entering first, at a combined weight 475 pounds…accompanied by Shweta Kallemullah, they are FIGHTING! FORRRRRRR! NOOOOOORRRAAAAA!

Stay here and watch me bleed
Watch me bleed
It’s a brand new me
Piece by piece

Shweta walks around the ring as Rhine climbs the top turnbuckle and soaks in the cheers, his eyes closed, one arm up to the sky. Paxton Ray bounces from foot to foot, then thrusts his own fist to the sky.

Nick Stuart: These men along with their opponents survived six grueling events of increasingly difficult tasks and now they stand here, hoping to be the final tag team that survives.

After soaking in the reaction for a few moments more, Rhine finally drops off the turnbuckle and puts an arm around Paxton Ray, who doesn’t look at him but allows himself to be brought in close for a side hug. After a moment, Jonathan Rhine looks from his partner to the ramp, waiting for the man he used to call a friend.

The buzz of the crowd gives way as the PRIMEview flashes to life, giving us a shot of a hallway backstage. Seven figures stand outside a doorway, each dressed in a shirt that reads “SECURITY”, but this collection of fools isn’t on any official payroll, and for good reason. They are Charlene, Misty, Noelle, Carl, Janelle, Cinnamon, and Biff, collectively known as the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers. Carl steps forward and knocks on the door, which is pulled inwards with tremendous force.

The sound of drums played with an almost-military cadence fills the arena, and if you’re smart you’ve already figured out where this is going.

The Jimmy Bonafide Dancers barely get out of the way in time as a two-wheeler is shoved through the open door. Strapped to the cart via bungee cords is the plastic form of El Hijo del Super Cool Guy, and tonight his traditional red ski mask is missing. Behind him, wheeling this debacle and looking utterly disgusted with the lot he’s drawn in life, is a young man named Mark. Rest assured, he is hella pissed.

The drums are joined by horns, because you’re goddamn right we’re doing this.

The son of Super Cool Guy leads the way down the hall, flanked on either side by three members of the witless dancing troupe. Biff brings up the rear, a few steps behind Mark, because his arthritis flared-up today and he’s having some trouble with that bum knee of his.

Nick Stuart: So. Ummm… This is a thing, I guess.

Richard Parker: (sighs what might be all of the air in his body.)

The scene on the PRIMEview cuts as the six more nimble dancers (no offense, Biff) step through the entryway. Each of them are holding their own portable smoke machine, and they spread out in a triangular pattern before firing those bad boys up. It’s about to get real cloudy in here, kids. So cloudy, in fact, that the curtain of sparks descending from on high is almost obscured. Almost, but not quite.

You’re goddamn right we “Goldberg’ed” the mannequin.

Mark, determined to get this over with as fast as possible, begins jogging the cart towards the ring, stopping just at the bottom of the ramp. For a moment he contemplates his life before PRIME partnered with the MGM Grand, the odd jobs he worked to make ends meet and pay down his student loan debts, and was it really that bad?

The music ends, the dancers fumble in the fog they’ve created, and then scurry to the back just as poor Biff finally makes it to the entrance. Dejected, he turns back, and now we can do this for real.

The arena falls into darkness.

Once more the PRIMEview flashes to life, as a collection of still photos cycle through, each in black and white, with a common theme among them. The first is a thin man, far too small to be a wrestler, whose berry-themed mask is accented by a pair of glasses worn outside of it. The second is a large, bearded fellow with a berry mask of his own, doing what appears to be a backstroke around the outside of a ring. The third is immediately recognizable as Baron Von Blackberry, cackling in triumph as the scenic, yet diabolical nation of Fruitsylvania secures additional gold to add to its coffers. The fourth shows a man who will be walking to the ring momentarily.

The fifth comes with a voiceover, pulled from the archives of a long-dead promotion.

“Greetings, those of the City of Sinners! I am Sultan Strawberry, ruler of the Strawberry Emirate!”

The reaction of the Vegas faithful is deafening.

Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen, what you just heard was the voice of Seymour Almasy, who once competed under the mask of Sultan Strawberry.

The image of a raspberry gives way to three letters, all rendered in a gothic font, take over the screen.

K O P

For fifteen years the Kings Of Popsicles have existed in professional wrestling. In that time only five people have been part of that group, and though each has seen their life move in different directions – two unfortunately taken far too soon – the covenant is eternal. Today that number increases by one.

Guitars. Drums. It’s not the usual nonsense King Blueberry walks out to.

Life returns to the arena.

Well in the heat of the night
You went and blackened my eyes
Well now I’m back
I’m back
I’m back
And I’m coming your way

Motley Crue. “Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid.”

Two figures emerge from the entryway. The first, King Blueberry, has traded in his usual blue and white attire for one that is predominantly red with black accents, though his mask remains the same. In his left hand is a small case, not much bigger than one used for firearms. Beside him is a woman dressed like a prizefighter in purple and silver, with a mask of her own covering only the top half of her face. Each wears a gray tee shirt bearing the logo of a wrestling school in northeastern Massachusetts.

The theme is hers, or rather it was her father’s – inherited when he hung up his gloves and eased into retirement from the ring. Judging by the expression on her face, readable because the mask only covers around the eyes, she had no idea this was happening.

Vince Howard: Making their way to the ring, and hailing from Boston, Massachusetts… Weighing in tonight at…

The intrepid announcer squints at the card in his hand, and shakes his head.

Vince Howard: 201 pounds plus “I’m not asking her this Vince I’m serious she’ll kill me and my mother said you don’t ask women this.”

The woman in purple smacks King Blueberry in the arm.

Vince Howard: The team of King Blueberry and Reina Raspberry… THE KINGS! OF! POPSICLES!

When the final bell rings and the fans file out, this team will once again be the Blue Live Crew, but this is a night for kings and queens.

Outside the ring, King Blueberry sets the case on the apron and snaps it open. It’s not immediately obvious what’s inside, only becoming clearer as he moves towards the mannequin and reaches to its head. The mask he places on his plastic counterpart is red, strawberry-themed, with a turban sewn in. It’s the original, the only one of its kind.

The covenant is eternal.

Both teams in the ring, Official Jimmy Turnbull gives both of them final instructions. It’s here that we see Paxton Ray will be the first person in on the Fighting For Nora side. On the Kings of Popsicles side? Reina Raspberry is having an animated discussion with King Blueberry, who keeps assuring her to get in the ring. To fight off her growing jitters.Once she reluctantly accepts, the bell rings, getting the Main Event of the evening underway.

DING DING

Nick Stuart: And here we go! PRIME Tag Team Survivor started with many teams, so many of them accomplished in their own right, be it as tag team specialists or singles competitors or both. But it has all built to this.

Richard Parker: Weeks upon weeks of utter insanity, and we settle the score in the ring. A novel concept, Nick.

The fever pitch of the MGM Grand continues unabated, the fans on their feet, cheering, clapping, this wild night having built to this crescendo. Never before had a PRIME Pay-Per-View been headlined by a Tag Team match. The ReVival Era is different. Weeks upon weeks of games. Tonight, it will be about wrestling.

The two seasoned pros, King Blueberry and Jonathan Rhine, stand in their corners, tag ropes in hand. It is the neophytes taking center stage here, now. Given the insanity of Tag Team Survivor, the visual in the center of the ring is just as well; Paxton Ray towers over Reina Raspberry by over a foot. Comical proportions notwithstanding, Reina’s mind is elsewhere. Jitters. An absolute inability to stop fidgeting. The mask on her head is stupid and isn’t her idea and it’s making it hard to breathe. She can’t feel her arms. Countless times inside a wrestling ring, but here, now, with these lights, with these cameras, with these stakes, her stakes, she is swimming in frenetic anxiety attack levels of nervousness. Cottonmouthed and boxed in, she springs herself against the ropes, trying to calm herself, let the autopilot kick in. She looks back at Blueberry and wants to kick him, punch him, hurt him in so many awful ways. Why did she have to start? Because they both know the truth; if he started, what she is experiencing now is merely delayed, marinated with a lingering dread that might make it worse. 

On the other side, Paxton Ray is the cliched opposite, not because of any big stage experience advantage; Reina had well over a decade of ring time over him. It’s just that he doesn’t care. There are no butterflies, just an overwhelming need to hit something. Hard. He loosens his shoulders against the top rope, springing forward with heavy stomps. 

Richard Parker: I’m going to make my thoughts known right now…that King Blueberry is tagging with Reina Raspberry tonight is a grave miscarriage of justice.

Nick Stuart: How do you figure?

Richard Parker: She hasn’t been around throughout Survivor? She just slides in when things are settled! Blueberry should have to be teaming with El Hijo Del Super Cool Guy. It’s only right!

Nick Stuart: Will you stop?!

Richard Parker: Oh I am sure Fighting For Nora feels the same way!

As Official Jimmy Turnbull darts away, Reina takes the center of the ring, raising her hand up, challenging Paxton to a roman knuckle lock. What she gets, instead, is a Paxton charging forward, burying her with his shoulder, knocking her flat on her back. She springs up, and when she does, he is there, tying her up before lifting her off her feet and tossing her out of the lockup, her face and chest bouncing off the canvas, a roll of her hips and a quick bit of movement has her back on her feet, but not before he blasts her with a lariat. And when she gets up, another. 

Justine Calvin, welcome to The Show. Trial by fire. And after a third lariat takes her down, Ray grabs her by the hair, muscling her into the Fighting For Nora corner, tagging in Rhine before launching off a few driving shoulder tackles to her midsection, making sure to stoop very low, on the last one even falling to his knees with the amount of force he is directing into her ribs.

Richard Parker: Hell, having second thoughts there Blueberry? Maybe the mannequin would put up a better fight. At least it can Canadian Destroy someone!

Nick Stuart: Reina Raspberry comes with a pedigree all her own.

Richard Parker: An outsider. Never earned a spot in the big time. 

Nick Stuart: And she has all the pressure on her to perform tonight.

Richard Parker: Might want to tell her that.

If Reina Raspberry thinks things are going to get easier now that the brute of Fighting For Nora is out of the picture, she is dead wrong; now, the wrestling lesson begins. The wind driven out of her from Paxton, Jonathan quickly snaps off a european uppercut that brings her back to a full stand, and once she does, he takes hold of her arm, tossing her across the ring with a deep armdrag. Survival instinct should take her to her own corner, King Blueberry reaching into the ring with everything he has, strategy be damned because it’s not working, and in these gallows, his pleading apologies to her and his begging for her to tag him in falling on deaf ears. 

Rhine’s not about to let a deep armdrag give Raspberry a chance to tag out, and with fleet footing, he quickly closes in on her, and as she is getting off her knees, he hooks his arm underneath hers, bringing her high into the sky with a hip toss. With the thud, he dives onto her, smothering her, getting a side headlock. He’s shaking his head, arms like a vice, grinding, every attempt to pick herself up answered with a tightening. How the hell did she get herself into this? What did she get herself into?

Nick Stuart: Jonathan Rhine is a former PRIME Intense Champion, and he’s showing his ring acumen here. Fighting For Nora both have this match well in hand.

Richard Parker: This is getting embarrassing.

King Blueberry fights the urge to get in the ring, to break this up, but his pacing around his corner shows just how restless the proceedings make him. He blames himself. Blames himself for everything. A dropping of the silly facade. His hands wildly clap, trying to get the crowd to join with him, to give some kind of surge of energy to Reina. 

Her hands grab at the forearm of Rhine, then toward his hands. He tries to keep his vice hold on her, applying as much pressure as he can, grimacing, but for as much as this is causing her pain, it’s causing his hands to go numb. It doesn’t help that her fingers slink within his grip, or the fact that she has a surprisingly oppressive grip, isolating Jonathan’s fingers, separating just enough to get herself out of the predicament, rolling on the canvas, planting the heels of her hands and pushing herself up. Rhine smothers, though, grabbing hold of her, swinging her to the mat violently with an ippon seoi nage, holding dominant position and trying to segue to an armbar, but as he does, Reina’s legs come up, pulling him back with a headscissor. Tightening like a boa constrictor, she looks to her corner, watching Blueberry absolutely losing it at the way she escaped, wildly smacking his hands together over his head, the fans cheering her for the light escape, him calling over to her, hand out into the ring.

Rhine, though, pivots, escaping himself by flipping and dropping his back onto the smaller Raspberry. Turnbull quickly slides in.

ONE

TWO

Reina doesn’t have the power, now, to bridge out, instead, snapping rapid fire punches into the ribs of Jonathan Rhine with enough force to have him roll off. Staggering to her feet, she adjusts the mask on her face, trying to find her way to her corner, and as she turns toward it, Rhine grabs hold of her leg, pulling her back to the center, then toward his own corner. She hops on one foot, and when she tries to wallop The New Life with an enzigiri, he ducks it, letting her leg swing over its mark, causing her to splay out on the canvas. With a free hand, Rhine tags Paxton, and as Ray enters, Rhine deadlifts Reina off the canvas with a stiff german suplex. As soon as Rhine is done, he’s through the ropes, Paxton Ray snapping off an elbow drop on Reina, and then another, and then one more for good measure. He pins her close to the ropes, intentionally.

ONE

TW-FOOT ON THE ROPE

Expend energy. Smart strategy. Paxton grabs Reina and lifts her up, the canvas rattling from a massive scoop slam. Ray quickly tags back in to Rhine, and on the outside, Shweta Kallemullah is clapping and smiling in approval. The two are working perfectly as a unit, have cut off the ring completely, and are in firm control. The psychological damage inflicted on King Blueberry, though, is as bad as what is being inflicted on his partner; if he had nails to chew, they’d be nubs. He knew if he went in there to try and save her, to save Justine, that she would never forgive him, despite everything. After all that bold talk about deserving to be on the grand stage long ago, to be bailed out? To be proven right in not belonging? Reality be damned, Fighting For Nora be damned, the Blue Live Crew both knew that she had to fight her way through this…IF she could fight her way through this. 

Richard Parker: Why isn’t he helping his partner? This is getting damn ugly in there!

Nick Stuart: There’s something to be said about fighting your way through adversity.

Richard Parker: And there’s something to be said about giving yourself a damn chance. And these Popsicles are doing no such thing.

Once back inside, Rhine scoops Reina off the canvas, grabbing her and slinging her with an overhead belly to belly, having pivoted so she hits the ropes, continuing to isolate her from the wide side of the ring so she is caught in the Fighting For Nora no-man’s-land. Her back springing off the canvas, arching, so much damage, so much already forced upon her, and Rhine is there, again, ring general that he is, grabbing her and hooking her leg, flawless with the fisherman suplex and the bridge to accompany it.

ONE

TWO

TH–KICKOUT!

King Blueberry, Jared Sykes, in all his years, with all his experience, is powerless. Utterly powerless. Every hit Justine suffers, he grabs at his mask, winces. The fisherman has him punching his turnbuckle in frustration, not at her, but at himself, for putting her in this predicament. In putting her in this no-win situation of pressure that would make mincemeat out of lesser wrestlers. He believed in Justine, believed in Reina Raspberry, deep in his heart, with his everything, knew she was a fighter, had always known she was so much more than what she believed herself to be. What good is all that if he was the only one? Rhine continues his assault, front chancery and a vertical suplex, and another quick tag to Paxton, standing her up and pressing her into their corner before firing off a chop across her chest that has her nearly collapse to her knees, if not for the grip of her hands on the top rope. When Paxton steps back into the ring, he drives his shoulder into her stomach, exploding upward and taking her with him, dropping her with a stun gun that splays her back on the canvas. He hooks her leg.

ONE

TWO

Another foot on the ropes. He smirks. Grinds his elbow against her sternum as he reaches his long arm and tags Rhine back in, who grabs the top rope and slings himself over, dropping an elbow across her chest. There’s a reason these two wanted to get in the ring, and they are showing it here tonight. Another cover.

ONE

TWO

KICKOUT

Nick Stuart: Amazing and crisp tag work on display here!

Richard Parker: Like a boulder going downhill. They’re just building momentum on top of momentum. 

Rhine is up to his feet, running across the ring, springing off the ropes. Blueberry stares at him as he draws near, fights the urge to grab a hold, and then, he hits a baseball sliding dropkick to the head of Reina Raspberry that nearly takes her out of the ring.

Richard Parker: How many official matches have Fighting For Nora had?

Nick Stuart: My notes say a handful.

Richard Parker: Could have fooled me.

Another tag. Lifting her up, her Irish whips her on their nearside of the ring, and on the rebound, both members of Fighting For Nora leave their feet to launch themselves into her with shoulder tackles, the violence from the blow on Paxton’s side damn near swinging Reina around a full 360 as she crumbles to the canvas.

It is foolish to think she can hang, some glorified hand from the northeast, her first major shot coming after age forty. PRIME is a place where World Champions like Shawn Warstein and Larry Tact struggle to find even the slightest modicum of success. And here she is, in the Great American Nightmare Main Event, never having paid the price to be here, not having done a single Survivor Challenge, not proven she should be here in any way save a relationship with a former wrestling champion riddled with such guilt and depression that he hides in plain sight as a court jester. A guy who had so few friends from years of sequester, he lugs around a mannequin to ‘have his back’. The insanity of it all, down to the damn Goldberg entrance, and even with the Sultan Strawberry mask, what the hell did it matter? And as she struggles, as she questions herself, as she wishes she was microscopic so she could disappear, to stop the pain, the embarrassment so bad she wants to weep, she hears it. It starts low, at first. But then, it swells, a clamor from the crowd. 

They cheer her name.

LET’S GO RASP-BERRY! 

CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP

LET’S GO RASP-BERRY! 

CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP

LET’S GO RASP-BERRY! 

CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP

Paxton and Jonathan look at each other, then to Shweta, who quickly waves them off to keep their focus. Then, they look toward the spirited and vitalized Blueberry, who is clapping loudest amongst them, matching their chant, bellowing out with everything he has. Rhine rolls out to his corner, with Paxton taking center stage, lifting Reina from the canvas and grabbing her in a side headlock. A quick punch as Turnbull closing in, warning him to open his fist, the staggering Raspberry finding solace in the corner, but not for long, as Paxton hauls off and hits an open handed strike to her, then buries one in her belly, forcing her back straight and into the corner, a tight forearm, and another, and another, he pulls her from the corner, clubbing her across the shoulders and back with his forearm, maintaining hold of her by her mask, and then, front facelocked, he looks for a vertical suplex.

No more.

No fucking more!

She escapes his grasp, falling to her feet behind him, and as he quickly turned, she grabbed hold of him, a surprising show of strength as she stepped forward, leverage, all of it, sending the much bigger man over almost like a judo throwing hip toss, only for her to quickly swing and spin and grab hold of his next and spike his face into the canvas with a vicious Ruby Cutter.

Nick Stuart: OH WHAT A MOVE! WHAT A TURNOVER! A RASPBERRY TURNOVER HAS PAXTON RAY SEEING STARS, DROOLING ON THE CANVAS! NOW’S YOUR CHANCE, REINA, TAKE IT!

Richard Parker: Fighting For Nora has been utterly dominating her! And King Blueberry has been standing there, watching it the whole time! Standing there and letting her take an absolute beating! They’re been on point, you think Rhine is going to give her one bit of air here?!

Nick Stuart: Rhine’s just as shocked as Paxton is, as shocked as Shweta is! Blueberry is practically inside the ring with how he’s perched over that top rope! Arm out! Reina is reaching! She’s reaching with everything she’s got! Paxton Ray is trying to get up, she’s crawling, crawling, everything she has! Oh! Oh no!

Richard Parker: Ray’s got that ankle and he’s going to drag–

Nick Stuart: Mule kick! Mule kick to Paxton Ray! SHE DIVES AND MAKES THE TAG!

Reina finally escapes, rolling completely out and to the apron. King Blueberry charges in, house on fire, pent up, ready to just unleash. Pissed off isn’t what he’s feeling…but watching someone he cares about systematically picked apart, and off a decision he himself made, he can’t forgive himself, but the time to reflect is later. Now, he’s in the ring, running fresh, blasting into Paxton Ray with a yakuza kick of absolute death, causing the Lafayette native to hit the canvas hard, then spring back up on instinct. The moment he does, Blueberry grabs hold of him, swinging him and nailing a picture perfect swinging neckbreaker, and before Paxton knows any better, he’s up again, snapped once again into the ether with ANOTHER swinging neckbreaker. But Ray is tough, he can take it, at least his spirit says so, as he staggers, empty headed, back to his feet, only to be put to bed for good with a killer lightning spiral neckbreaker that has him going for the leg.

ONE

TWO

KICKOUT

Nick Stuart: King Blueberry is a house of fire here!

After what happened before, there is no way in Hell that Blueberry is letting him off that easy. The fans are going absolutely wild, Reina, grabbing her neck, now in her tag corner, snarling, cursing, demanding Jared take the bastard’s head off. He doesn’t need to be told twice; he snaps a knee into the breadbasket of Paxton, driving the air out of his lungs, and then straight up knees him in the face. Collapsing to the canvas, Ray is defenseless, barely getting his hands up as Blueberry lashes out with a cannonball dropkick, sending him skittering over the canvas, mat burns and all. But it comes at a cost. Rhine makes the tag. 

The MGM Grand Garden Arena, already raucous, starts simmering. An octave change. A pitch shift. The New Life steps inside the ring, slowly. King Blueberry is on his feet, looking forward to him, through him. 

Nick Stuart: Oh my word…finally…finally! You can feel it throughout the crowd, the tension here! Jonathan Rhine and King Blueberry…face to face…finally face to face!

Richard Parker: Geez…the hair on my neck is standing up! Why? He’s a damn doofus…but I can’t help it!

The two slowly make their way to each other, no words shared. Two war horses. Two men standing in the city they fought in a decade ago, against a dead man’s hand, against figures that did everything they could to ruin their lives and careers. And yet, it is them that are still standing, still fighting, still main eventing. 

Nick Stuart: These fans are going wild! Former Sin City Championship Wrestling Universal Champions both! A friendship sundered! A brotherhood in shambles! Now…taking center stage!

If the announcers are feeling it, can you imagine what the two men in the ring are experiencing? Years of emotion, resentment, traded barbs, a wanting, a need in the acknowledgement of the other, low points punctuated with a collapsing level of self doubt and dread. Survivors, both. This is who they are. Rhine can’t help but feel the enormity of this moment, looking to the crowd, side to side, welling in his stomach just as powerfully as the night he finally, finally took down the venerable and unstoppable Clinton Sage. But Sage isn’t his brother in arms, and the man he once called friend is doing the same as him, a sensation prickling through him, Sin On Spike 5, before the violence, before light tubes and broken fingers and palpable fear that death was coming for him that night in the form of a curse, the Pit Viper. And yet…and yet…

This is far more personal.

As is the hand Jonathan Rhine extends.

Weatherworn from the Mud Pits, a bruised peach.

Blueberry stares at the hand. Part of him wants to smack it away. For everything. And now, for Reina. But he doesn’t. Instead, he extends his own hand, taking the shake vigorously, his eyes looking up into the swollen ones of The New Life.

Nick Stuart: What a moment!

Richard Parker: They’re going to tear each other apart!

They break away, wordless, expressionless. Both men take a few steps back from each other before they circle. Looking for an in. None given. Finally, they lock up. Rhine exercises his power advantage, pushing forward on Blueberry, but as he does, he is caught with a deep armdrag, the arm still held as the pair get back to their feet, Rhine trying to wring his arm free, only to get hit with another armdrag. Blueberry maintains the hold, looking for an armlock, and as he does, Rhine uses his free hand to grab for the ropes. Turnbull goes in to make the break, but before he can Blueberry has released the arm of The New Life, the Blue Live Crew member on his feet, Rhine on a knee, looking upward. 

Nick Stuart: The history between these two is well documented. And whereas some might be expecting a bloodbath–

Richard Parker: Well, the ring certainly is one after that Intense Title Match–

Nick Stuart: What we are seeing instead here is a wrestling clinic between two seasoned pros.

Jonathan gets to his feet. The former PRIME Intense Champion goes in for another collar and elbow tie up, and before Blueberry can react this time, Rhine swings him to the canvas with a side headlock takeover, holding the grip. The suddenness doesn’t allow Rhine to use his full weight and power, and gives Blueberry an opening, scissoring his head and pulling Jonathan over with a takeover. It’s Rhine’s turn to answer, the sequence mirroring the earlier goings on, pinning Blueberry to the canvas by dropping with his back to escape.

ONE

TWO

But King Blueberry has the wherewithal at this point that Reina did not, and he bridges up with his arms around Rhine’s waist, the two off the canvas. And before Jonathan can react, Blueberry grabs hold and nails a vicious neckbreaker over his knee. This time, he covers.

ONE

TWO

KICKOUT

Staggering back to his feet, Rhine lashes out with wild chop toward a visualized target, but he misses, and Blueberry grabs hold of him by the back, trapping his arms, snapping him with an arm trap Saito suplex. He maintains the hold, pulling Rhine back up with him, hitting another! He goes for another cover.

ONE

TWO

PAXTON RAY!

Richard Parker: There you go!

Paxton stomps on the mashed head of King Blueberry to break up the pin. The fans are booing loudly, especially after how The Kings Of Popsicles refused to do this same thing earlier on in the match when Reina was getting absolutely annihilated. Jimmy Turnbull is having NONE of it. He tries to get between Ray and the staggered Blueberry, who is on his hands and knees on the canvas. He’s not quick enough; Paxton grabs hold of Blueberry by the mask, lifting him up, and pitches him through the ropes to the outside. More booing. Turnbull grabs a hold of him, and Shweta calls from the outside for Paxton to stop, but the Lafayette Bruiser wants more. 

Paxton Ray: THASMYPARDNA WHADAMYISUPPOSEDTODO?!

Richard Parker: What’s he saying?

Nick Stuart: He’s pleading his case for his partner.

Richard Parker: You need a guy like that, vicious and all, on your side.

It comes out in a barely coherent spit from the adrenaline. Hands up, he backs away, and as he does, Reina can’t help but take a swipe in his direction. Jonathan looks up to his partner, unsure how to feel, but then, Paxton helps him to his feet, patting him on the chest. 

Paxton Ray: Got you.

Doing what any good partner would.

Jonathan Rhine: Thanks…

Looking to the outside, he sees King Blueberry using the guardrail to help himself back up. Jimmy Turnbull hasn’t started a countout yet, and rather than protesting, The New Life makes his way to the outside, rolling out, grabbing onto the now vertical Blueberry, looking to get him back in the ring. That is, until a stiff punch hits him in the gut. And another. Rhine throws his hip into his old friend, who responds by bursting up with a massive knife edge chop.

TH-WAAAACK

Jonathan isn’t about to get into a slugging match. He veers off and hits a chop of his own. As he does, Turnbull finally commences a count.

TH-WAAAACK

ONE

Blueberry is nearly brought to his knees, and lashes out with another chop, this one hitting the former Intense Champion in the throat. 

TH-WAAAACK

Nick Stuart: That one caught him in the windpipe!

Richard Parker: Oh! That might play a role as we go on, taking the wind out of him like that! Smart!

TWO

THREE

Intent doesn’t matter. Instinct, however, does. Jonathan grabs hold of Blueberry, and in a moment of letting the wrestling truly take over, he drives him into the ring post, causing his old friend to ping spine first against it. There is no reprieve after the blast, instead, Rhine grabbing him by the arm and whipping the absolute hell out of him into the ring steps on the other side, the collision so violent that the metal clasp breaks apart, causing King Blueberry to somersault from one side to the other, skipping like a rock on the other side of the outside padding on his fall, which he has no way of breaking. 

Nick Stuart: Oh my word!

Richard Parker: Wrestling clinic officially over!

Rhine, noticing what he’s done, how hard he has lashed out, grabs his forehead in disbelief. He can see King Blueberry, Jared Sykes, struggling, grabbing at his knee, his ribs, his wrists. Can feel him groaning. But the two know the stakes. Know what is on the line.

FOUR

FIVE

It’s just that the moment of mental reflection is all it takes for Reina Raspberry, from the ring apron, to put the absolute shit out of him. Bad enough that Rhine thinks his nose may well be broken. And then, she hits a vicious dropkick targeted towards his head. 

SIX

Nick Stuart: And Reina here take up for her partner–

Richard Parker: So nice of her to show a damn pulse…

Getting back up herself, her jitters gone, Reina drives Jonathan Rhine into the guardrail, firing off a heavy kick to his chest, and then another, and another. She peels him off the guardrail and rolls him back into the ring, but not all the way, dropping her elbow over his perched head.

She dusts her hands, getting back into her own corner. Her eyes are on Rhine. The crowd noise is distant. The train that is a charging Paxton Ray isn’t; he blasts her from her corner and to the outside with a nasty shoulder block, and, in a show of absolute madness, he grabs onto the top rope and slings himself over, diving and using his entire body to crash into the unprepared Reina Raspberry. Turnbull recommences the count.

ONE

TWO

THREE

On the other side of the ring, King Blueberry staggers back to his feet, falling, then back up, a newborn baby calf, spaghetti legged. Rhine is recovering, his head rocked.

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

Shweta is over to Paxton, helping lead him back to their tag corner, doing what she can to talk sense to him, to get him to not continue fighting with Reina, who is on the other side, yelling for him, yelling for her to let him go. 

SEVEN

Rhine grabs onto the ropes, pulling himself back up.

EIGHT

King Blueberry rolls back into the ring.

Nick Stuart: Blueberry back in! But just barely! Both Rhine and Blueberry are both at their feet, shaky, staring each other down! No feeling out process here! They charge at each other, Rhine with the shoulder tackle! He grabs him and GUTWRENCH SUPLEX! He looks to tag Paxton in–wait…what is Paxton doing?

Richard Parker: He’s still talking with Shweta!

Nick Stuart: Rhine looking over, perplexed, perturbed, they were working so smoothly as a unit before.

Rhine looks to take the tag now that his partner’s attention is back in the ring, but before he can, Blueberry trips him, and on the rebound, hits a leg scissor takeover. The momentarily distracted Paxton Ray punches his turnbuckle pad, all as he watches Blueberry take the moment and smother his partner with a headlock. Rhine gets to his knees, and falls to his backside, his head driving underneath the chin of Blueberry in a makeshift jawbreaker. Staggered, Blueberry grabs at his face, and Rhine gets to his feet, and as he does, the two lunge at one another, and in the process, their heads collide. The blow is enough to make the two collapse, to scramble. Blueberry grabs near his eye, specifically the left side. Rhine shakes his head, cobwebs and a headache starting to layer in. Both men use the ropes to pick themselves back to their feet, and once they do, Rhine gets the advantage, tossing Blueberry with an overhead belly to belly. On the fall, it becomes clear the damage that has been done by the two’s head colliding.

Nick Stuart: There’s a visible mouse growing over King Blueberry’s left eye. Oh my word, you can see it swelling…

Richard Parker: That’s a target. A big target. Lost peripheral vision if that eye completely closes up and it looks like it will…

Nick Stuart: He’s grabbing at that eye gingerly, oh he knows it. He pounds the mat in frustration! Reina is yelling for him to tag her in, she’s back in her corner, she’s pointing at Paxton Ray, oh she wants him bad!

Richard Parker: The Ravishing Raspberry wants a bit of Creole–

Nick Stuart: Richard!

Richard Parker: Get your mind out of the gutter! Paxton Ray and her have really taken it to each other in this main event, and they don’t have the complicated history Blueberry and Rhine have. They just want to pound the hell out of the other!

King Blueberry looks to his partner, looking to go for a tag, to figure out the full damage going on with his eye. But he’s the one who just suffered a suplex; Rhine is the one on his feet, tagging his partner in, a brief stare between the two, no words exchanged. Paxton steps into the ring, and feeling rather perturbed, grabs onto Blueberry, hitting him in the breadbasket with a punch. He whips him across the ring, hitting him with a boot to the gut on the carom and blasting him across the back with a double axe handle. 

Paxton grabs hold of Blueberry, looking at Shweta, and then Jonathan. Front face lock. He needs their attention. Needs Jonathan Rhine to see this. Lifting Blueberry upward, he holds him in the air, the fans counting the seconds as the hold lasts beyond ten, all the blood rushing to the head of the former SCCW Universal Champion. And then…and then…

Nick Stuart: BRAINBUSTER! OH GEEZ WHAT A SNAP ON THAT! 

Richard Parker: Blueberry is splayed out! Twitching! Oh my Hoyt!

There should be a pin here. But there isn’t. Instead, Paxton stares toward Rhine, The New Life’s face turning pale momentarily before an intense flush filters through. His glower is heavy, his eyes wide. Paxton doesn’t emote, doesn’t smirk, doesn’t even nod his head. Dustin. He hooks the leg of King Blueberry, twitching on the canvas.

ONE

TWO

THREE

THREE

THREE?!

NO!

At the very last second, the absolute last second, King Blueberry kicks out. The fans explode, some thinking they may have seen the main event finish, others knowing the immensity of what kicking out after that sickening brainbuster means.

There is no disbelief. Paxton merely rolls off, looking down at the Blueberry. He can hear the crowd. Everyone can hear the crowd.

FIGHT FOR NORA!

LET’S GO SYKES!

FIGHT FOR NORA!

LET’S GO SYKES!

FIGHT FOR NORA!

LET’S GO SYKES!

Hearing his name, his real damn name, is like a shot of adrenaline to his heart. Mixed as he might feel, odd and offkelter, confused, not from the brainbuster, that did enough of its own scrambling, but after everything, the decade of darkness, the fall before it, Wyatt Connors, the messages, the letters, thanking him, the ones wishing it was he who plunged well over a hundred feet, ‘This is who you are’, a funeral dirge, but now, a beating in his heart, stirring, is it the collision that has his eyes welling up with tears, or is it the manifestation of so many sleepless nights, or worse, the ones where he did dream?

Paxton is going through his own moment of clarity. But he’s a fighter. He rises, dropping his elbow over Blueberry. And again. And again. And he goes for a pin.

ONE

TWO

KICKOUT

With. Fucking. Authority. Blueberry, Jared Sykes, rises as quickly as Paxton Ray, and when the Lafayatte Bruiser swings for his eye, he ducks. He fires off a mule kick, doubling over Ray, and as he starts to rise, Blueberry jumps onto his shoulders.

Nick Stuart: POISON RANA! POISON RANA! 

Richard Parker: Bounced his head off the canvas like a damn basketball!

Ray staggers to his feet before they give way. King Blueberry looks to his corner. Justine Calvin is pacing. She wants in. Now. And who is he to deny her? He makes the tag. And, unlike before, when she started, things are completely different. Her survival early on has earned her credit. How many teams would have fallen from the early Fighting For Nora onslaught? You think either member of the Hollywood Bruvs wouldn’t have made it a quarter of the way through with shit filling their pants? Jonathan Christopher-Hall? The Saturday Night Specials? They weren’t here. This isn’t their moment of glory after over a decade in the Northeast underground. 

Richard Parker: The Ravishing Raspberry!

Paxton Ray staggers to his feet, but he isn’t ready. He could never be. Reina Raspberry charges, blasting him with a knee, then a punch. Turnbull warns her about the closed fist, but it just makes the next jab sting all the worse. The daughter of Barrett Calvin can pack just as vicious a punch. The unexpected surge is met with an uppercut, and then a front kick that drops Paxton to the canvas. Once there, she charges forward, throwing her entire body into a knee strike that wipes them both out. She scrambles for the cover.

ONE

TWO

THR-KICKOUT!

Nick Stuart: More like the Relentless Raspberry! Reina showing exactly why King Blueberry picked her to team with him here.

Reina smothers, diving onto Paxton with a front facelock, and after seeing the vicious brainbuster Jared suffered earlier, has malice in her heart. Hooking his long leg, she lifts him, spiking him into the canvas with a fisherman buster that causes an audible gasp from Shweta, and a hellacious roar from the crowd. Another cover.

ONE

TWO

THRE-KICKOUT!

Rising back to her feet, she quickly slams her heels in a double footstomp into Paxton’s chest, soccer kicking his ribs, causing him to roll to the outside. And when he does? There’s nothing stopping her. Running forward, she dives through the ropes, blasting him with a suicida, driving him into the guardrail with such velocity it damn near breaks the barricade free. 

Sensing the moment, Blueberry runs across the apron, kicking Paxton as he rebounds back to the apron. And after? He runs again, grabbing his head with his legs, another poison rana, this time on the outside mats. 

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

Richard Parker: I’m going to take it back. She’s a pistol. Much better than a mannequin. Some damn fire in her. 

Nick Stuart: Bold to admit you’re wrong already, Richard. Growing some humility?

Richard Parker: I just verbalized what everyone was thinking early on. And I continue to have my finger on the pulse. You’d have to be dead not to see it.

Sykes and Calvin slap hands as Rhine, after the brainbuster, after seeing what has transpired, lays back. Shweta is yelling for him to help. Pained, conflicted as he is, he remains. The Kings Of Popsicles roll Paxton back into the ring, and once back in, the two Berries get in the ring. Paxton is seeking out his partner, seeing from the corner of his eye, but he’s punch drunk, seeing stars. Blueberry locks arms with Raspberry, and with every ounce of his body weight, gives her a forceful push forward of momentum. Bounding across the ring, and just before Paxton can get the tag, she annihilates him with a front dropkick that causes his sternum to barrel into the turnbuckle. Rising quickly, she launches herself, grabbing his neck, dropping for a lungblower that stabs her knees into his back with devastating force.

She makes the cover.

There is no count.

Instead, Jonathan Rhine, who tagged his partner the moment he came crashing into his corner, drops a pointed elbow over the back of Reina’s head, pulling her off his partner, and hitting her with three quick and tight punches before spinning and obliterating her with a quick turnaround elbow. Blueberry is back in his corner, cheering his partner on, but Rhine will have none of it, scooping her up and hitting her with a butterfly suplex. He looks to get her with an armbar, but she escapes, staggering up, doing what she can by firing off a punch to his stomach from a kneel. The blow is glancing, with Rhine throwing his thigh into her face. Once down, he takes off toward the ropes, jumping, springing off with a moonsault and driving his knees into her throat.

Nick Stuart: NEW LIFE MOONSAULT! COVER!

ONE

TWO

KICKOUT

Richard Parker: Needed the overhead belly to belly before! 

Nick Stuart: A Rhine trademark dating back, but he saw an opportunity! And he continues to press. Oh my word this match, these two teams, everything they’ve done, they’re fighting with everything they have! 

The damage done, Rhine grabs onto Reina, his arms collapsing her, a Katihijame, and off the New Life Moonsault, with the deepness of the hold, with the positioning, Reina is in trouble. Real trouble. Her tongue lolls out of her mouth for a moment, her hands fighting toward Rhine’s forearms, bad enough that she brandishes her nails, but as she claws at his flesh, there is no respite. Just a groaning New Life, grimacing, choking the life out of Reina Raspberry. But she won’t give up. So he begins to stand.

Richard Parker: What is he doing?! He had her right where he–

Nick Stuart: OH MY GOD!

Richard Parker: ……nevermind…

Katihijame suplex. Right on the top of her head. And the hold remains. It would take a miracle now for her to escape. She doesn’t even have the strength to tap, her arms limp. 

Two are stronger than one.

King Blueberry dropkicks Rhine in the face, breaking the hold, saving the match, and more importantly, saving his partner. Once the hold is broken, she startles awake, breathing, a deep inhale, a scramble with her limbs as the sudden rush of blood and oxygen fires up fight or flight responses. Turnbull warns Blueberry for getting in the ring, but he pays it no heed, backpedaling to his corner, hand out, wanting, needing to tag in. As the world starts to slide back into focus for Reina, she rolls, smacking her partner’s hand, and he comes in, house of fire, all as Rhine is getting up, feeling like a few of his teeth have been loosened. 

It doesn’t take long for Blueberry to make his intentions known.

Nick Stuart: NTD! NTD! NTD!

Richard Parker: With freaking all the cheese sauce in the mezzanine!

Nick Stuart: COVER!

ONE

TWO

THREE

NO!

At the very last moment, it is Rhine’s turn to kick out. Blueberry collapses back, breathing heavily, his partner slumped in their corner, across the ring, Paxton having his bearings but looking spent. 

Blueberry grabs hold of the downed Rhine, holding him on the canvas, firing off some knees to his shoulders, all before springing up and lifting Rhine off the canvas, grabbing him in a full nelson.

Nick Stuart: FULL NELSON BULLDOG!

There is no cover to follow. Instead, King Blueberry slinks from Rhine, rising up, ascending toward the near corner, but then springing off the ropes as he sees his old friend now his stomach.

Nick Stuart: DEAD AIM! DEAD AIM! DEAD AIM! HE ROLLS HIM ONTO HIS BACK! COVER!

ONE

TWO

FOOT ON THE ROPES

The springboard 450 is a sight to behold, even this deep into the match.

FIGHT FOR NORA!

BLUE LIVE CREW!

FIGHT FOR NORA!

BLUE LIVE CREW!

FIGHT FOR NORA!

BLUE LIVE CREW!

Rhine is in a desperate way. Blueberry, in control, locks him in a front chancery, looking to snap him back into the canvas with a neckbreaker of some kind, any kind, but at the last moment, The New Life slips free, stumbling to a knee, barreling into Blueberry’s midsection with a shoulder. The two doubled over, Rhine’s hands fumble, grabbing at the head of Blueberry, his hand combing over the swollen mouse over his opponent’s eye, and he drives his own head into the spot. The collision is brutal. Survival instinct. Blueberry tries to guard the eye, but Rhine slams his head into the spot again, causing the swell to burst open with a cut that instantly begins to pour blood. A headbutt doesn’t follow, this time, a stiff elbow catching the glowing bullseye, tearing at the gash, and not only that, but tearing at the Blueberry mask itself. The force creates a tear, and the elbow that follows causes the tear to grow, growing enough that flecks of Jared Sykes’ colored hair begins to come out. 

Nick Stuart: That swelling mouse is now a bloody river gash! The blood cascading into his eye! Tearing at his mask!

Richard Parker: And now, a big old target lingers after it’s been pierced. Bullseye in the most vicious of ways!

Blueberry collapses to the canvas, allowing Rhine the chance to rise up, using the ropes, staggering to his corner, tagging in a huffing Paxton Ray, who demands the spent New Life picks up his old friend and whip him toward him. Rhine complies, but before he does, Paxton slinks between the middle and top rope, then explodes out and blasts the stampeding Sykes with a shoulder block that hits as vicious as any blindside football tackle on a Sportscenter Top Ten. 

The advantage is theirs. The time is now. Turnbull tries to get Rhine to leave the ring, but there’s nothing to stop them. Survivor. A Championship long dead for over twelve years. Tragedies. Foster Nackedy’s contemptible bastardry. Jonathan Rhine slingshots King Blueberry into the turnbuckle, and on the carom, he throws him skyward. 

The Lafayette Lullaby.

And the cover.

ONE!

TWO!

THREE!

THREE!

THREE?!

FOOT. ON. THE. ROPES.

Jimmy Turnbull saw it. Shweta, ramshackle from emotion, is on her knees, at first knowing Paxton and Jonathan had just won the PRIME Tag Team Championships. 

Paxton Ray can’t believe it. His fist screams from the uppercut he landed.

Jonathan Rhine can only collapse. He knows what they’re in there with. An ultimate survivor. An enviable quality, no matter how annoying the bastard could be. That man had survived the horrors of Sin City through its corrupt, disgusting maw, Desade, Lane Stevens, Wyatt Connors. He’d dealt with his own horrors in the form of Clinton Sage in those moss covered halls. Credit where it is due. Ultimate respect. 

But their fight is not over.

And maybe, it will never be over.

Paxton didn’t see that. Couldn’t see it. He just wanted to fight. He wasn’t weighed down by the specters of old demons. His daughter faced a graver one. And he would fight for her. Always. Dad was bringing the Tag Team Championship home and putting it at the foot of her bed. 

He grabbed King Blueberry, lifting him up, but the damn fool couldn’t even hold his own legs up. He collapsed the moment Paxton got him to a stand. Turnbull finally got control back of his match, getting Rhine into his corner. The Lafayette Bruiser lifts Blueberry off the canvas, clobbering him with a discus elbow that causes them both to collapse to the canvas. 

ONE

TWO

REINA. RASPBERRY.

Nick Stuart: WHAT A SAVE!

The newfound berry saves Jared Sykes, diving onto the pinning Paxton Ray. What follows is a level of guts that will be told for generations in the Calvin bloodline. She punts Ray from his spot, and when he rises, slugs him with a left and a right combination. Paxton isn’t knee deep in mud, but he is at home. Right at home. He fires off a jab at Reina, connecting. But she isn’t deterred. Turnbull tries to break the pair up, getting between them, but she peels him away, and as Paxton tries to follow up, she clobbers him with a high kick. She looks at Jared, at King Blueberry, blood from where his mask hit the canvas pooling. Even with the insanity of the Intense Title Match, this fresh blood has a coaxing pull. He’s crawling to her. To their corner. Elbows and all. She steps back into her corner, and even as Rhine protests, all he can do is hold his hand out, trying to get Paxton to come to, to tag him in.

King Blueberry has already tagged Reina into the match. 

She goes to the top rope, and dives off, nailing a double footstomp onto the back of Paxton Ray. The sickening thud is all it takes. Getting to her feet, and knowing Jared is incapacitated, she charges toward Rhine, blasting him with a harsh enough forearm that he drops from the corner and onto the floor with a thud. Paxton is up. His hands are ready for a fight his head isn’t clear enough for. She charges into him, burying her knee into him, firing off another. Paxton doubles over. But she grabs hold. She grabs hold and lifts him onto her shoulders. On arm on his waist. Another hooking his leg. The arm moves down. Piledriver position.

Jack 

LaLanne 

Driver

Richard Parker: THAT’S IT!

Nick Stuart: COVER!

ONE

When you’ve toiled in obscurity, how does it feel to finally make it beyond your wildest dreams.

TWO

When you’ve questioned yourself for even being here, what happens when you finally get the affirmation that not only do you belong, but you always have.

THREE

How does it feel when your storybook doesn’t have its fairy tale ending?

KICKOUT!

Barely.

Utterly barely.

But a kick out nonetheless.

Nick Stuart: I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! AND NEITHER CAN THESE FANS! THEY’RE GOING ABSOLUTELY INSANE!

Richard Parker: By the love of Hoyt, what a battle! What a battle! Everything you could want to see in the ring being put on full display!

Jared Sykes merely looks on, head hung. Rhine is in his corner, eyes wide, shocked that his team is still in the match. Shweta’s hair a tousled mess from the rollercoaster she wants off of. And El Hijo Del Super Cool Guy? If only you freaking knew. Reina is inconsolable. She collapses. Paxton Ray is barely breathing, but still, he breathes. 

FIGHT FOR NORA!
BLUE LIVE CREW!

FIGHT FOR NORA!
BLUE LIVE CREW!

FIGHT FOR NORA!
BLUE LIVE CREW!

The roar of the crowd brings with it a climactic urgency. Everything has been spilt. We are in the end game now. And for Reina Raspberry, for Paxton Ray, it is in utterly drunken, spaghetti legged rises that show their true measure. Reina tries to hit him, but he falls to his knee, making her miss her target. He drives his shoulder into her midsection, grabbing onto her to pull himself up, hitting her with a loopy uppercut to the collarbone, and with her fully standing, he splatters her with a discus lariat. He roars.

Rhine roars back, begging for the tag. For him to pull himself through and find a way.

But Paxton can’t hear him. And as the two get back to their feet, another loopy punch is met with a clutch. With all he has, Paxton Ray lifts Reina up.

Rhine.

Rewind.

A cover.

A blind tag. 

King Blueberry has just enough, just enough to get into the ring, to get Paxton off Reina, and bringing him up, her grabs hold of him and looks to hit something, anything, a cutter, just anything to bring this bastard down. But Ray pushes him off. Sweat pouring, he laughs. He can see daylight. A sudden surge. All it takes.

Lafayette Lullaby.

This one ENDS it.

Except the final blow misses.

Except Jared fucking Sykes has fallen to his feet behind Paxton Ray.

Except Jonathan Rhine yells for Paxton to watch out.

A wild backward swing.

A near miss.

An old friend.

A hallmark of the greatest tag team to ever grace the National Wrestling Council.

Eat your heart out, Crash and Burn.

Nick Stuart: FLATLINER! THIRD DEGREE! THIRD DEGREE!

Not enough. Jared maintains the hold and rises with Paxton Ray.

Another Third Degree. Another flatliner. Crash and Burn. Crash and fucking Burn.

Nick Stuart: COVER!

ONE!

Jonathan Rhine bolts with everything he has out of his corner.

TWO!

Justine Calvin throws her entire body into The New Life to stop him.

THREE!!!

DING DING DING

“Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid.” indeed.

The MGM Grand Garden Arena explodes as Jimmy Turnbull’s count reaches three. Jonathan Rhine reaches out too late toward his partner, collapsing when he sees the result.

Nick Stuart: THEY DID IT! THEY DID IT! FROM THE UNKNOWN! FROM A HAUNTED PAST! THE KINGS OF POPSICLES…THE BLUE LIVE CREW…ARE THE LAST TEAM STANDING…THEY ARE THE SURVIVORS! THEY ARE THE PRIME TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!

Richard Parker: I CAN’T HEAR MYSELF THINK!

Vince Howard: THE WINNER OF THIS MATCH…THE WINNER OF PRIME TAG TEAM SURVIVOR…AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND NEW…PRIME…TAG TEAM…CHAMPIONS! KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINGS OF POPSICLES! BLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLUE! LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE! CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW!

The PRIME Tag Team Championships have been dormant since last held by Change In Spades. But on this night, they return, alive, and have found a home in the revived PRIME. King Blueberry is on the canvas, doing what he will, his chest heaving, the tears overwhelming him, mixing with his own blood. Reina looks toward him as he rolls off of Paxton Ray, then toward the crestfallen New Life, who is magnanimous in defeat.

Jonathan Rhine: Congrats Justine…

It takes everything in her not to be overwhelmed herself. 

Returning to the ring, Jimmy Turnbull holds both Tag Team Championship belts, and makes his way to Blueberry, ready to hand him his prize. He slinks back on his knees, his forearm reaching for his eyes, his free hand fervently pointing toward his partner. And if he doesn’t get the clue, he makes his intent clear.

King Blueberry: Her. Give them to her.

Jimmy isn’t one to protest, and with a bit of gusto, offers both Tag Team Championship Belts to Reina Raspberry. In utter shock, she takes both of them, one in each hand, and as she does, her arms collapse to her sides. Head hung low. A lifetime to this moment, a lark, but now? On this grand stage?

She hadn’t just arrived.

She was a Champion.

Nick Stuart: These two teams…incredible! People had their questions about both, some even questioning their mettle. Their drive. Their determination. If they belonged. But tonight…tonight…they have shown us all what Tag Team Wrestling is all about.

Richard Parker: The art isn’t dead. It’s alive and well here in PRIME!

Fighting For Nora doesn’t linger, instead, Rhine helps his partner out of the ring, the Lafayette Bruiser out of it. They’d been such a unit early on, but in the midst of fatigue, their well oiled machine slipped. And even then, look at what they’d accomplished. Look at what they had done. Tomorrow will bring with it new life. And in this moment, on this night, the future is bright. Just a little more, and it’s them holding those Tag Team Titles.

On this night, they know they will be back.

If only we all knew what was to come.

Inside the ring, Reina rises to her feet, and seeing Blueberry, she dive tackles him, laughing, a lazy snow angel on a blood soaked canvas. How fitting. Jared points to El Hijo Del Super Cool Guy, pounding his chest before pointing to the sky.

Sail across the stars, Sultan Strawberry. The covenant is eternal.

As Fighting For Nora make their way up the ramp, Jonathan looks toward the ring, a few deep breaths, shock in the moment, a lingering look to Paxton who can barely hold himself up, and Shweta, her arm around his shoulder, ready to console. He looks back to the ring, defeated for now, and yet, with a gathering sense of purpose. 

In the ring, Reina Raspberry gets onto the shoulders of the kneeling King Blueberry, raising the PRIME Tag Team Titles in the air. 

On this night, one thing is clear.

While there is a winner tonight, the entire tag team world is put on notice.

These two teams are your standard.

These two teams are what you can only hope to catch up to.

Good luck.

Fade. To. Black.

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