ReVival 10

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Jul
05

…Static.

Then, the feed briefly cuts out. 

When ReVival 10 comes back to life it does so in shell white and yolk yellow color. The instrumental version of “I am the COOL” is softly playing.  

BuhBuhBuhBuh-Bandits.

Then, as the feed further unscrambles, two men of honor and prestige are seen in the center of the stage. Center stage being outside the MGM Grand and on the streets of Las Vegas.

Bobby Dean: Do you really think he’s going to say yes this time?

Doozer: I think we have to keep on trying. As weird as it sounds, I’ve grown attached to the bear. Could be because we have similar tastes in EDM, or it could be that he too doesn’t like forest fires. Regardless, he’s grown on me.

Bobby Dean: Is that what fornicating with animals is called? I always wondered…

Out from stage left, a third man also born of prestige and honor appears.

Cancer Jiles: No, it’s just called sex for you.

Bobby, cut in half, frowns. Dooze shakes his head at being a second too late to tell the joke. 

Cancer Jiles: Just kidding, Bob. Lighten up. HA.

The Honaleen scoffs.

Cancer Jiles: So tell me, say yes to what? And why couldn’t we talk inside?

Bobby Dean: Because it’s a cold open. Doesn’t it have to be outside?

Cancer Jiles: What?

Bobby Dean: I thought you had to be outside for a cold open. Is that not the case?

Cancer Jiles: A cold open means the audience isn’t warmed up yet. It means you jump right in. I don’t think it matters if you’re inside or outside.

Oblivious, probably from partying all night, Doozer shrugs his shoulders.

Bobby Dean: Oh… well in that case I know you’ve been busy pooping blood, but we never got around to seeing if GREAT SCOTT–

Doozer: AND GREAT BEAR!

Bobby Dean: And of course GREAT BEAR, we never got around to seeing if they were going to become part of the yolk. I don’t want it to linger on and become another Max Shell case. Plus, we did lose a man this week. Just saying.

Now the Maestro is the one who scoffs.

Cancer Jiles: I believe my stance was over my dead body. Here I am, above ground still so I guess you could say that nothing has changed.

Bobby Dean: Okay then, COOL guy. When you say over your dead body– have you looked at yourself lately? You’re a mess. Who knows what’ll happen to you next?

Doozer tries to vanish, but he can’t. Or he doesn’t. Maybe it only works indoors. Damn cold open.

Bobby Dean: This place… the supposed war against PRIME… it’s killing you. Some see it. We know it. I’ve seen those bloody tissues in the waste basket. I’ve reused them for toilet paper in a pinch. I know more than anyone just how bad it is. You were talking to yourself the other night at like, 3AM.

Doozer vomits at Bob’s revelation. Right there, for all of Fremont Street to see. Jiles doesn’t. Instead, he reaches out and places his hand on Bobby’s shoulder. He lowers his shades, winces like he bit into an onion, and then quickly puts them back on because the sun is still up in Sin City.

Bobby Dean: What I’m getting at is we would love your blessing before you’re unable to give it.

The entire street goes silent. A dust ball dances through the air. A bird flies into the side of a building, breaking its neck. Jiles’ hair starts to radiate a vibrant shade of waterfall yellow. Doozer braces. Bobby smiles, always aloof.

Cancer Jiles: Your concern is cute, annoying, and unnerving. I do appreciate the lengths you’ve taken, but I assure you I’m fine. I’ll even prove it. You want to make the Bandits GREAT again, well then if I lose in the main event tonight, MY main event, the home of the COOL as some of the boys and girls in MESSIAH are calling it, then we’ll actually talk about it. Not in the shitty side discord either, I mean the other shitty side discord with him in it.

WINK.

Bobby Dean: You mean that?

Cancer Jiles: Of course. If you guys think that’s what we need, then sure. I’m a team player. I want what is best for the Bandits. If that means me losing AGAIN in the main event then so be it.

Bobby Dean: Then deal! 

Bobby and Dooze high five.

Doozer: Not that we’re cheering against you or anything. We’d never.

Cancer Jiles: Of course not.

MASTERS OF THE MULTIVERSE…B-TEAM VS. SOLID GOLD ROCK ‘N ROLL

“Hell is gone and Heaven’s here, there’s nothing left for you to fear.
Shake your ass, come over here.
Now scream!”

“Let Me Entertain You,” by the one and only Robbie Williams serves to greet the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The camera flies through the building, soaring past the roaring fans of Las Vegas and highlighting everyone’s favorite part of the show: the signs!

DOES BLOOD PUDDING COME WITH A SIDE OF BLOOD SAUSAGE?

BEANS BEANS THE MUSICAL FRUIT

WHO IS THE MINOTAUR?

RIP JOE FONTAINE

I HOPE MIKEY UNLIKELY IS OK

BEATS. BEARS. BATTLE ROYALS.

RHINEBERRY 

SEND FLAMBO

THIS IS THE COOLEST MAIN EVENT I’VE EVER SEEN

BUY THE SHIRT, YOU COWARDS

I BOUGHT THE SHIRT, ANNA, I’M NOT A COWARD

MORBIUS IS A REZIN BIOPIC

Out stroll the Masters of the Multiverse’s B-Team, the duo of Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz, waving, pointing, and posing their way down the ramp to what they hope will one day be adoring fans.

Nick Stuart: It’s a beautiful night for a revival, folks! Welcome back to the ACE Network, the MGM Grand Garden Arena here in Las Vegas, Nevada, and ReVival, count em’! Number 10!

Richard Parker: We’re in the double digits now, Nick! No turning back!

Nick Stuart: And no turning back before the Great American Nightmare coming in two weeks! But first, tonight’s ReVival has more story to tell before our second super show! Including the last stop of Survivor, with the remaining teams of Fighting for Nora, Blue Live Crew, and the duo of Nova and Garbage Bag Johnny competing for the shot at the Tag Team straps at Great American Nightmare!

Richard Parker: And in our main event, FLAMBERGE will, unfortunately, square up with Cancer Jiles. With any luck we’ll wind up with a new brand of egg-flavored Bret’s chips.

Nick Stuart: Gross. There’s that and much more, but first! Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz face off against Barry Delgado and Trent Sadikaj!

Richard Parker: Let’s ROCK!

Vince Howard: Tonight’s opening bout is a scheduled tag team competition! First, from southern California, at a combined weight of 336 pounds…The Masters of the Multiverse! B-Team!

Freeman and Schwartz, meanwhile, have taken every advantage of Nick and Richard’s intro to earn some love from the crowd to marginal effect before Robbie Williams fades out…

…and is replaced with a sorely needed kick in the teeth from Mastodon.

“I CAN SEE WHAT THE WORLD HAS DONE TO YOU!
I CAN FEEEL THE WEIGHT!
FEEEL THE WEIGHT!”

“The Motherload” batters through the speakers like an avalanche wearing skin tight leather jeans and a zebra-striped headband. Barry Delgado walks out standing nine feet tall despite being five-foot five, followed by the lanky frame of Trent Sadikaj, just oozing with SEX.

Richard Parker: Oh YEAHHH!!

Vince Howard: And their opponents! At a combined weight of 471 pounds…Boogie and Electric Boots! They are SOLID! GOLD! ROCK N’ ROLL!

Bras, panties, and men’s boxer-briefs soar through the air as the rockstars stroll into the ring. Delgado pushes his hands through his immaculate mullet, while Trent blows sensual kisses to the crowd at ringside.

Nick Stuart: We’ve seen both these teams exit the Survivor competition, and both are looking for their first tag team victory here in PRIME. Tonight, one will get over the hump, and the other will continue the search.

Richard Parker: And we all know who’s gettin’ over the hump, bay-bay! OWWW!!!

Barry stands in his corner, Trent rubbing his shoulders from outside the ropes, while Randall Schwartz is the first up for MotM, with Freeman ensuring him that he’ll be okay.

DING DING

Schwartz cautiously walks forward to meet Boogie center. The mustachioed, mulleted monster raises a hand and reaches forward, to which Randall looks back at Freeman with uncertainty.

Nick Stuart: And Delgado looks to start ReVival 10 with a test of strength!

Richard Parker: Barry Delgado is the strongest man AL-I-YI-YI-IIIIVEE!

Nick Stuart: Richard…where did that studded armband come from?

The ‘Entertainer’ carefully reaches out to meet Boogie’s hand. They lace fingers, and Delgado quickly puts Randall in a vice grip, twisting his arm around with a yelp, dropping him to a knee.

Nick Stuart: …and are you wearing eyeliner?

Randall squirms away, but only thanks to the MEEERCY!!! of Barry Delgado releasing his grip. Schwartz scrambles back to his corner, slapping Freeman’s hand and clambering through the ropes. K-Free sighs before stepping into the ring to meet the eager Delgado. After a quick circle the two lock up, but for what Freeman makes up for in (a little bit) of height, he lacks in strength and weight advantage, finding himself driven into the corner.

Nick Stuart: Delgado ramming Freeman in the gut with those boulder shoulders! Two, three times! He climbs up onto the bottom rope, punching down into Freeman’s skull! Turnbull with the warning and the count…and a big headbutt to cap it off!!

Richard Parker: Heaven above!!!

Boogie hops off the ropes and struts across the ring, arms out and his palms up, nodding with a grin to his partner in Trent Sadikaj, giving him a high five and a slick palm slide. Boots swings those R-rated legs over the top rope with ease, dripping with swagger as he approaches the dazed Freeman. He blows a kiss into his palm before absolutely slapping the taste out of K-Free’s mouth. 

Nick Stuart: Oooh, a sharp slap to the cheek from the long arm of Trent Sadikaj!

Richard Parker: Most righteous, sugar!

Solid Gold’s front man pulls Kenny away from the corner, dropping to his hip and sending him over with a swift arm drag, standing tall before landing a knee into K-Free’s chest. A second knee takes the wind out of him, and Trent takes the opportunity to pull his opponent to his feet, throwing him into the corner with a hard whip.

Nick Stuart: Solid Gold in control of this match! Electric Boots feeding Freeman’s chest a few big backhands before pushing a long leg into his face, pinning him into the turnbuckle! Turnbull with another warning and the count!

Sadikaj let’s Jimmy “Turnbuckles” count to a healthy five before pulling his big, devastatingly sexy boot away from Freeman’s jaw. Sadikaj slinks away, walking backwards with his long arms stretched out, giving Freeman all the time he needs to recover with a cocky smirk. He reaches a hand behind him toward Boogie for a sneaky tag, Delgado getting ready to step through the ropes.

Nick Stuart: Trent with the tag, and Freeman still wiping the bottom of Trent’s boot from his face! Boots taunting Kenny with a wink and a kiss, and Kenny’s ready for the offensive! He charges forward, Boots ducks a swing from Freeman…OH MY!!!!! HUGE LARIAT FROM DELGADO!

Richard Parker: It’s a revelation, babayyy!

Boogie stumbles forward after absolutely leveling Freeman with a monstrous lariat, pursing his lips together to let out an audible “oooooooooo!” to the crowd, knowing damn well how naaassstyyy! that lariat was. Freeman sits up, fully dazed, and Delgado gives him assistance to his feet before hoisting him into a front rack. With a gratuitous grunt, the Mound of Mullet and Muscle easily presses Kenny overhead, taking him for a lap around the ring before dropping him to his stomach dead center.

Richard Parker: Feel the THUNDER! Feel the LIGHTNIN’!!!

Nick Stuart: Take your tie off your head!!! Huge Gorilla Press from Delgado! He’s eating it up!!

Barry flexes his ample biceps, walking backwards and pointing a finger to Trent, who points back with a flex of his own. 

Nick Stuart: Boogie back-stepping toward the Master’s corner, but his eyes are on his partner!

Richard Parker: Heads up, Boogie Baby!!!

Delgado’s broad back bumps into the turnbuckle, but that’s not all that’s waiting for him. In a rare moment of bravery, Randall Schwartz throws a hard forearm into the back of Delgado’s head, forcing him to stumble forward. Boots turns with a glare, then rushes toward the corner to retaliate, but Schwartz hops off the apron to the safety of ringside, escaping Barry’s wrath.

Nick Stuart: Schwartz jumping in to spoil Solid Gold’s party! Barry doesn’t appreciate it!

Richard Parker: Eyes on the prize, Boogie!

Trent hollers to his partner to turn around, but to no avail, as Freeman has made his way to his feet, taking the opportunity to wrap Barry up from behind, take a huge breath, and send Delgado over with a German suplex.

Nick Stuart: Finally some offense from the Masters of the Multiverse!!

Richard Parker: …B Team. 

Kenny, while woozy, keeps the momentum going, throwing himself off the ropes and hitting Boogie with a low dropkick, sending him to his back. Freeman feels the energy, bouncing off the ropes again toward the downed Delgado, stopping to tilt his head down, dance his feet and spin in a 360, before leaping and landing a leg drop across Barry’s neck.

Nick Stuart: Follow the Freeman!! K-Free looking for the Freeman Special!

K-Free makes moves to get Barry locked in, but Boots scrambles away to his corner, leaping to tag the long arm of Electric Boots. Trent hops the ropes quickly, and after a crow hop throws one of those sensuous, luscious, bedazzled boots toward Freeman’s head.

Nick Stuart: Superkick attempt from Sadikaj, big whiff! K-Free ducks forward and he’s off the ropes! Boots responding with a spinning heel kick…DUCKED AGAIN! Freeman baseball slides under that long leg!

The Solid Gold frontman is quick to his feet after the second miss, striding forward and visibly frustrated, but he doesn’t have much time to dwell on it, as Freeman pops up in defense, clapping Trent’s ear with an enziguri.

Richard Parker: C’mon now, Boots Baby!

Nick Stuart: Sadikaj is down! Freeman is gassed! 

K-Free breathes heavily while Trent stirs, though still able to start crawling his way toward his corner, Barry reaching out and ready to barrel in. Kenny rolls over to a knee, shifting toward his partner, who reluctantly holds out his hand.

Nick Stuart: Both opponents in need of the tag!!

With the crowd roaring and in a simultaneous burst, Trent launches forward to clap Barry’s hand, while Freeman stumbles to his corner, tagging in Randall. Boogie and The Entertainer rush in, and much to his own surprise, Randall catches Barry off guard with a side-kick to the quad. Schwartz takes a cautious moment before throwing a right hand to Barry’s noggin, stepping to the side after the punch, then decides to put Delgado in a headlock.

Nick Stuart: Schwartz has Barry in a headlock! Where does the Entertainer go from here…but Barry with the reversal!!

Delgado loosens Randall’s grip with a couple hard elbows into his gut, keeping him doubled over. Having no interest in an encore tonight, he stands, shoving Randall’s head between his legs before rolling him up into powerbomb position. After pushing him further in the air via gripping the shorts (a SOLID 5’,10” in the air), he sends him hammering home to the mat.

Richard Parker: MEEERCY! KISS THE DEVIL!!

Nick Stuart: He’s not finished yet!

Boogie shakes his shoulders, feeling lightning and thunder in the veins, and takes a moment to give Boots a tag in the corner. Trent makes his way up top, while Barry returns to the downed Schwartz. After some lifting and positioning, Randall finds himself atop Mount Delgado and facing a perched Electric Boots.

Richard Parker: These boys got a reputation, sugar!

With a great push from those lengthy stems, Trent flies forward and clobbers The Entertainer with a magnificent clothesline.

Richard Parker: A BAD REPUTATION, BABY!

Nick Stuart: Randall is down! Trent with the cover! Jimmy Turnbull with the count!

ONE!

TWO!

THREE!

DING DING DING

Vince Howard: Your winners! SOLID! GOLD! ROCK N’ ROLL!!

Nick Stuart: And Boogie and Boots find their first victory in the PRIME ring!!

The Motherload” hits the speakers as Barry and Trent celebrate. Barry flexes his pythons, nodding his head, while Trent rocks onto his toes and tilts back, letting out an audible “OOOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!!!” Eventually they turn to the ramp, paying much needed attention to the loving ladies on their way out. Meanwhile, Freeman tends to the stirring Randall Schwartz.

Nick Stuart: A great performance to kick off ReVival 10! 

Richard Parker: That match was SOLID GOLD, Mama!

Nick Stuart: Okay that’s enough, put your shirt back on. And folks, stick around! A triple-threat involving Ria Nightshade, Mortimer Kjedelig, and Balaam the Mask of Malice is coming up next! Right here in Las Vegas!

Richard Parker: On the ACE Network, baaabyy!

THE MASK OF MALAISE (THAT’S A DESSERT, RIGHT?)

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 ring under the bottom rope, steps up to the middle turnbuckle and raises his hands in the air as the spotlight shines upon him. Mortimer hops off the turnbuckle and takes a microphone, then stands in the middle of the ring, looking out at the audience as the music fades.

Mortimer Kjedelig: 

Mortimer Kjedelig stands in the middle of the ring, his mouth is open, but no words come out. He stands there frozen as if he had never addressed a crowd this size before (because he hadn’t). The crowd is silent.  

Mortimer Kjedelig: I…uh….

Mortimer Kjedelig turns his head and clears his throat. He shuts his eyes and begins mumbling to himself, what he is saying cannot be heard but one could assume a string of obscenities would be involved. Mortimer Kjedelig takes a deep breath. He brings up the microphone once again, his hand trembling, he looks down at the mat and begins.

 Mortimer Kjedelig: I’m gonna keep this, uh, thing, uh short. There is someone who abuses their power here in PRIME to push their own nebulous agenda. That person is Anna Daniels. She has repeatedly interfered in my matches and, in some fashion, caused me to lose by usin’ her time travellin’ capabilities. It is also my belief that it is because of her that, what’s-her-face, Cecily Ryan was given the boot.  

The crowd let their opinion known that they are not on board with this theory. Mortimer Kjedelig slowly lifts his head and looks out at the audience.

Mortimer Kjedelig: Yes, I believe that Anna Daniels is the one on steroids, she was found out so she used her time travel superpowers to swap the samples. And that makes Anna Daniels no better than a degenerate fuckin’ junkie.   

The crowd’s disapproval becomes more apparent and his commitment becomes increasingly more confident.

Mortimer Kjedelig: Prove me wrong! Until two weeks ago, there was no evidence of steroid abuse from Cecily Ryan! Whereas, it is a fuckin’ fact that Anna Daniels uses her powers for her own selfish reasons….while people like me….people like me have to live in constant fear that the next time I open the door that it won’t be the pizza delivery guy, it’ll be a bullet. People like me, who, in the insurance industry, has had to hunt down certain people who were late with their payments, and may or may not have had to make a convincin’ argument as to why it is in their best interests to their and their family’s health, to make good on said payments. People like me who was in the wrong place at the wrong time which, in turn, prevented him from bein’ in the right place at the right time with the right person which would have changed everythin’.

Mortimer Kjedelig seems to ignore the crowd and gets lost in his own words as he continues.

Mortimer Kjedelig: Tonight, I will defeat Balaam and I will remove the mask from atop his face and then I will hunt down Anna Daniels, put the mask on her and order her to go back in time to stop me from makin’ that stupid, fuckin’ decision.  And I know Anna is gonna do her best to circumcise my victory this evenin’, but I have taken precautions from allowin’ that to happen. My mask has been doused with holy water, I have a clove of garlic in one pocket and a rabbit’s foot in the other, and my boots have been spiritually cleansed with incenses filled with herbs and spices and shit. So, Anna, I practically dare you to try your time travel shit this time. The mask is mine.  And as far as your best friend Ria? Well, she gets in my way tonight, when I’m through, let’s just say that watchin’ someone get mauled by a lion that immediately threw up afterwards and then purported to consume said throw up, allegedly, won’t be the most disturbin’ act of violence I’ve ever, allegedly, witnessed, hypotherimically speakin’. 

With the crowd firmly against him (clearly Anna Daniels’s doing),  Mortimer goes to say something else but nothing comes to him. He drops his microphone and prepares for his opponents.   

MORTIMER KJEDELIG VS. RIA NIGHTSHADE VS. BALAAM THE MASK OF MALICE

Nick Stuart: Well, that was something. 

Richard Parker: How is it that this place gets weirder and weirder every week? And we still have Survivor on the docket tonight.

“Tonight (We’ll Make Love Till We Die)” by SSQ replaces it along with an eye-exploding neon green strobe. The fans come to life in their appreciation for Ria Nightshade, who stops right in the middle of the aisle to look at them with the confident/indifferent stare that betrays nothing. 

Nick Stuart: Ria Nightshade is on a collision course against the Anglo Luchador, and we’re still just wondering if it will be for the Intense Championship! 

Richard Parker: All I’m wondering is where in the third row will Anglo’s head land, and what lucky fan will get to take it home? 

Nick Stuart: You can hear these fans showing Ria their appreciation, Richard! Her never-say-die attitude has earned her their respect! 

Richard Parker: You say respect, I say fear. They both get you the same seat at the table. 

At ringside, Ria stops and swings her right leg up, resting it on the apron. She waits for the anticipation to build before grabbing the middle rope and completing the split with her left, holding position long enough to allow plenty of photography. On her entrance into the ring, she stands up, regards Kjedelig with a dismissive stare, and takes position in an opposite corner.

Nick Stuart: She’s ready, partner! 

As soon as the music shifts to “Possum Kingdom” by the Toadies, the lights dim and the fans at the end of a row begin to stand up and look around, wondering if they’ll be the lucky ones tonight. 

Richard Parker: Do you see him? 

Nick Stuart: We can’t see much of anything right now, as we know the Harbinger of Malice will be leading Balaam to the ring from somewhere in the crowd.

Richard Parker: Good luck locating him in this darkness! That’s how he gets you, Nick – you never see him coming! 

Nick Stuart: There he is! 

Richard Parker: …

Balaam approaches the ring opposite the hard camera – always causing problems, of course. Malice stops at the guardrail to climb over into the ringside area– 

Nick Stuart: RIA OFF THE TOP WITH A FLYING AXEHANDLE! Elvis Nixon hurriedly calls for the bell and this one is underway!

Balaam is knocked backwards into the front row while Ria lands hard just inside the ringside area, all the while Kjedelig watches it happen. 

Richard Parker: I admire Ria’s moxie, but was it worth it to take yourself out at the same time you got first strike on Balaam? 

Indeed, Balaam is up before Ria – he didn’t have quite so far to fall after all – and moves on the offensive with a big fist to the top of her head, buckling her back to her knees! Handful of hair, and Balaam pulls Ria off her feet! 

Nick Stuart: The power of this man! Ria trying to break free but she’s fighting against herself with Balaam’s grip on her hair! 

Richard Parker: OH she got the nips she got the nips! 

Like two protruding warning signs. Ria’s target is right in front of her, grabbing Balaam with what can only be described as a two-fisted purple nurple. The entire arena seems to collectively groan as Balaam drops her, and she scrambles away as quickly as possible! Ria slides into the ring – 

Nick Stuart: Kjedelig with a stomp to her face! I think she and Balaam may have forgotten about their third opponent! Leg drop to the back of her neck! Kjedelig rolls her over with a quick cover! 

ONE…

Kickout! 

Nick Stuart: Good strategy for him to try and steal one, but Ria isn’t done yet – BALAAM PULLS MORTIMER OUT OF THE RING! 

Right hand by Balaam! Right hand by Kjedelig! 

Richard Parker: Mortimer’s got nearly a hundred pounds on Ria, and Balaam has nearly a hundred on Mortimer. Trying to go fist to fist is a bad idea no matter who you are. 

Balaam fires another fist! And another! Wild swing by Kjedelig, and the Mask of Malice hooks him in a modified side suplex on the floor! RIA WITH A BASEBALL SLIDE TO THE SIDE OF THE MASK! 

Nick Stuart: Front dropkick by Ria to the rising Mortimer’s face! She may have caught her boot on the bottom rope and hit a little hard, but she’s holding her own against these two beasts! 

Richard Parker: It’s a vicious cycle, her only real shot in this one is to take some high risks, but one misstep and it could be all over for her! 

Ria slides outside the ring behind both her dazed opponents and grabs a  chair from the timekeeper, setting it up just in front of the far ring steps while Nixon’s count reaches four. Five! Kjedelig sees her and rushes – and he’s hammered from behind by Balaam! The Mask of Malice keeps his focus on the opponent in front of him, all the while Ria slides into the ring in his blind spot and creeps up behind, exiting onto the ring apron and driving Balaam face first into the set up chair! 

Richard Parker: Is it luck, or is it skill? 

Nick Stuart: Ria Nightshade playing a dangerous game of chance, but I think this young woman will continue to play that game until it backfires! 

Kjedelig hears the count hit seven and quickly slides into the ring, followed by Ria who circles him like a shark. They lock up, and Kjedelig muscles Ria backwards into the corner. Ria puts a foot back to brace herself, and she quickly climbs backwards to the middle turnbuckle and pushes off, taking Mortimer down with a modified armdrag! 

Nick Stuart: She’s on fire, and her in-your-face attitude has her in a decided advantage! 

A rake of the face keeps Kjedelig off balance, and Ria lifts him with a backdrop suplex! The fans pop, with a “LET’S GO RI-A” chant that seems to throw her momentarily off balance.

Richard Parker: She’s never needed the PRIMEates, their support would disturb me too. 

Scoop and a whip into the corner, Ria follows through with a springboard back elbow that catches Kjedelig right in the face! Another whip across the ring, but Mortimer manages to plant his feet and reverse – RIA IS CAUGHT AROUND THE NECK BY BALAAM! 

Richard Parker: Protect the moobs this time! 

Nick Stuart: Balaam holding Ria at a full arm’s length, he learned from last time, and Mortimer tries to take advantage – BALAAM CATCHES HIM AS WELL! DOUBLE CHOKESLAM! 

Kjedelig hits the mat hard, but Ria practically bounces a foot in the air with the force of impact, and Balaam stays on top of her, lifting her high in the air and freefall dropping her face first onto the mat below! The Mask of Malice turns his attention back towards Mortimer, and he reaches for the rookie, who suddenly springs to life and catches Balaam off guard, lifting him in a reverse atomic drop, followed by a quick snap suplex! 

Nick Stuart: Quick reflexes by Mortimer, and he’s gotten himself a bit of a breather out of it! 

Richard Parker: Mortimer has been taking the brunt of it for most of this match so far, he hasn’t really had a chance to gather himself and plan a strategy. Well, here you go, home slice. Let’s see whatcha got. 

Balaam already has a hand on the middle rope to pull himself up, and Kjedelig shows a decent amount of ring awareness by turning and driving a boot into Ria’s midsection, stopping her recovery before it can truly get underway. He returns to Balaam and clubs him with a pair of fierce forearms between the shoulder blades once, twice, three times in total, and whips the Mask of Malice into the opposite rope! Hard clothesline takes— 

Nick Stuart: Balaam staggers back a step but he doesn’t go down! 

Richard Parker: That shows the power of believing in HOYT! 

The two big men stare each other down in the middle of the ring, BALAAM SWINGS WIDE! Kjedelig ducks his head back and fires a fist upward, catching him right on the chin! Another shot to the face, and he quick scoop slams Balaam and covers! 

ONE…

TWO…

Ria Nightshade with an elbow to the back of the head! 

Nick Stuart: She’s got all guts and no fear, I’ll give her that! Ria hooks Mortimer by the head and pulls him forward, we’ve seen this before – DDT – MORTIMER LIFTS HER UP! 

Richard Parker: Now it’s a battle of attrition. She’s squeezing him around the neck and he’s squeezing her around the abdomen. Who runs out of air first? 

In fact, Ria’s face is turning red while Mortimer’s legs begin to buckle, with the fans shouting their support for their favorite to hold on the longest. Behind Kjedelig, Balaam rises to his feet and bares his fist – TRIOXIN FROM RIA! Balaam takes that mist right in the face and Kjedelig spins around to defend himself! Both of Ria’s boots bounce off Balaam’s mask in a display of accidental teamwork, and Kjedelig finally feels the effects of her choke hold, staggering backwards! 

Nick Stuart: Ria dropped face first on the top turnbuckle! Mortimer gasps for air as the holds are broken, but the athlete in the biggest trouble right now I think is still Balaam, as he can’t see! 

Richard Parker: I don’t think they have what it takes to pin him, but Ria could pin Mortimer or vice versa and Balaam wouldn’t be able to see where they are to break it up, and not winning is the same as losing. 

Ria with a low blow, but Kjedelig blocks it by crushing her fist between his thighs, and he drops both fists onto the top of her head! Scoop – SMALL PACKAGE REVERSAL BY RIA! 

ONE…

TWO…

KICKOUT! 

Nick Stuart: Ria doesn’t follow through, that was possibly a reflex move on her part. Balaam moves in, and he wraps that massive hand around her face this time! 

Richard Parker: Does that mask actually protect him from the mist? Either way, better safe than sorry on the second lift. 

Balaam hoists Ria up and runs her back – first into the corner! 

Richard Parker: Crucified!

And he turns to drop her to the mat! 

Richard Parker: And buried! 

Nick Stuart: MORTIMER WITH A DROP TOE HOLD! 

Before Balaam can actively drop Ria for the second part of Crucified and Buried, Mortimer Kjedelig rolls towards them and hooks his ankles, thus hitting even more of an impact on Ria than she initially would have received. He grabs Balaam from behind and hoists him up in a release German suplex, sending him across the ring! 

Richard Parker: Seriously, how is Ria moving? 

Nick Stuart: A combination of stubbornness and contempt? 

On one unsteady knee, Ria takes a deep breath and forces herself to her feet, She turns her head slightly to gauge where Kjedelig is at, and she fires backwards with a hard swooping clothesline. 

Nick Stuart: MORTIMER CATCHES HER! BUST OUT! BUST OUT! He covers! 

ONE…

TWO…

THREE!

BALAAM BREAKS UP THE PIN! 

The Mask of Malice rolls Mortimer Kjedelig over and fires three… four… five fast and hard fists right into his face to soften him up, and he pulls the rookie up! 

Richard Parker: MORTIMER GOES STRAIGHT TO HELL! 

Nick Stuart: Balaam kicks him out of the ring and hooks both of Ria’s legs! 

ONE…

TWO…

THREE!

Nick Stuart: Mortimer Kjedelig gets back to the ring a hair of a second too late, as Elvis Nixon raises Balaam’s hand in victory. 

Richard Patrick: He put up a good fight, but luck wasn’t on his side tonight. And Ria? Holy crap can she come back from a two on one beatdown. 

Nick Stuart: Absolutely, Richard! Balaam gets his hand raised tonight but all three of these athletes showed us why they’re such an important part of PRIME’s resurgence! 

Richard Patrick: Sure, sure. But it’s the Mask of Malice that gets to reap the benefits! 

Nick Stuart: We’ll be right back after these words!

COMMERCIAL: OSW

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Keep it Old School all the time with OSW.

YES, THIS IS A JOJO’S REFERENCE

We fade out of commercial and into…silence?

As a matter of fact, the MGM Grand is at a complete standstill. Literally. Nobody–not the crowd, not the ref, not the commentators, not one soul–is moving. They are frozen like statues. No muscles flexing or sounds from their vocal cords. Indeed, the only thing any of them can move is their eyes. Side to side. Back and forth. What the hell is going on?

Tap.
Tap.
Tap.

Someone is tapping on a microphone, as if to make sure it still works in this frozen landscape. Eyes dart to the top of the ramp and those that can see her are treated to the sight of the one person on the roster who very well do such a thing. And from the look on her face, she isn’t particularly amused. In fact, one can see a little something behind the usual nonplussed expression on her face. A glimmer of irritation. But then again, what do we know? For all you know, dear watcher, you are seeing a bit of movie magic. A hoax. The work of a master editor. Any excuse to make this not real, eh?

Anna Daniels: Sit.

We who aren’t in the building can’t see exactly who she’s telling to sit. But apparently, this wish is granted. The camera shifts to get a better look. The Muse sitting cross legged on the ramp, the NEW ERA shirt prominent. How is this filmed? GoPro? Either way. There is a pause as the shuffle of Multitudes try to figure out exactly what is the best way to start this. Eventually, somebody wins.

Anna Daniels: Mortimer…

Immediately, there is a shake of the head. Firebug has taken the mic.

Anna Daniels: you know what? fuck that dancing around. rowan. your name is rowan and as far as we’re concerned, you are the most cowardly bitch on this entire roster and it ain’t even close, you underwhelming sack of one-hundred percent grade A USDA approved bullshit!

One can’t help but wonder what kind of reaction this would get if the fans could make noise. As it is, the only noise is an exhaled sigh and another shift.

Anna Daniels: Here’s the thing, Rowan. We tried to be nice about it. We really did. We explained that changing a person’s past is not in the cards. We even explained why with the whole WHAT IF YOU’RE WRONG thing. We played along with your shenanigans, took you calling us a whore on the chin, even went so far as to not verbally rail you when you came up to us begging with some cheap, stale chocolates. And although we aren’t always above abusing our position as lord of time for shits and gigs because…

Her arms flare out as if to say “look at this” before continuing.

Anna Daniels: Exhibit A. We honestly don’t like to do it all the time. It ruins the fun for us when people expect it and it’ll ruin the fun for you. So needless to say, your endless bellyaching about “oh, Anna did this and Anna did that and she’s the reason I absolutely suck” even when we’re not in the same ‘verse is irritating. Add to that you threatened Ria who can take care of herself, thank you very much. And accusing us of switching around Murder Roidhead’s test results? Really? We’re not you. We aren’t pathetic.

A member of the Multitudes cannot help but make the vessel’s hands clap together.

Anna Daniels: Now! We could just travel back in time, be a vindictive little monster, and make your life a thousand times worse to the point where that shitty little shack you’re living in would look like a palace. Buuuuut that wouldn’t very fun! That would be boring! So we have a proposition. Listen real hard because we know you hear us. Mortimer Karmachameleon vs the New Era. Great American Nightmare. We win? You leave us alone. You never ask the question again. You shut up and deal with your failures. You win?

A pause.

Anna Daniels: We won’t fix your past. But you will.

There is now a smile.

Anna Daniels: You will be taken back to that Macy’s of yesteryear. Maybe a little bit before then. You will have the chance to fix what you think is your biggest mistake. You will have one shot. One opportunity. This is everything you’ve ever wanted. One moment. Will you capture it…or let it slip?

Eminem song in your head aside, anybody can see the smile grow wider. It’s almost as if they already know the answer.

Anna Daniels: Better hurry to Lady Troy’s office, Rowan. The Nightmare is just around the corner. And as for the rest of you?

It is only then that she takes full control of the GoPro just enough to show that NEW ERA logo proudly.

Anna Daniels: Buy our shirt, you fucking cowards.

And then…darkness. The world begins to move again in confusion just in time for the next segment.

YOU’LL BE SWORRY!!!!

For the second show in a row, the intrepid Simon Tillier greets us backstage with a smile, and flashing a bright white grin of his own is “Event Horizon” Hayes Hanlon, black button-up dress shirt on and Five Star title draped over the shoulder.

Simon Tillier: Welcome back, PRIME family! I’m Simon Tillier, standing next to reigning Five Star Champion, Hayes Hanlon! Hayes, congratulations on a successful title defense against Alexander Redding and Cecilia Ryan at ReVival 9!

Hayes Hanlon: Much appreciated, my man! After all that chaos back at ReVival 7 I was pumped to walk away with a clean win!

Simon Tillier: And speaking of subjects a little less clean, we received unfortunate news after ReVival 10 that your opponent, Cecilia Ryan, tested positive for Probenecid. Any comment?

Hayes Hanlon: Well, last week was the third time we’d stepped in the ring together, and the third time I came out on top, so that should tell you everything you need to know about how successful her little experiment was.

Simon Tillier: And on your second visit with Alexander Redding?

Hayes Hanlon: Yeah, last show you saw what happens when Red’s buddy isn’t around to give him a pat on the ass. But listen, Simon…

Hayes wraps an arm around the Junior reporter’s shoulders, who continues to hold the mic up to the Five Star Champion’s face.

Hayes Hanlon: I could go on about Cecilia and Red, but what I have to say is better said to the rest of the roster.

Simon Tillier: Oh? So what’s the message?

Hayes keeps Simon wrapped up in the half-bear hug, then snaps his dark brown eyes to the camera, mustache curling.

Hayes Hanlon: Friends, enemies, cult shysters and masked nerds…you’re gonna have to do better. 

Simon’s shoulders look uncomfortably pinched between the broad body and big grip of The Event Horizon, but keeps the mic in place.

Hayes Hanlon: And I get it! It’s not easy seeing the rookie hold onto the gold! Especially a dude so fresh, so sensational, so. Damn. Good. Lookin’. 

Hayes smooths out his ‘stache with his free hand. 

Hayes Hanlon: And man, you know I hate to disappoint, but I feel like holding onto this strap for a minute. Maybe TWO minutes, Simon! And if outside interference can’t do it, if ‘roids can’t do it, then the roster’s gonna have to ask themselves…

The Five Star Stud snaps back to the camera

Hayes Hanlon: …what will it take, to take down the Event Horizon? 

He keeps his mustache curled, gaze lingering on the camera for an extra moment, before patting Simon on the shoulder and releasing his grip. Simon adjusts his posture with a grimace.

Simon Tillier: Strong words, Champ! But any words for your challenger at Great American Nightmare?

Hayes Hanlon: You mean…Rezin?

Simon Tillier: Uh, yes, Rez…

Hayes Hanlon: (Snapping his look to the floor) The Goat Bastard, Rezin?

Simon Tillier: Yes, your opponent at…

Hayes Hanlon: (Quickly looking somewhere off camera) The guy who got beat just LAST ReVival by a chick who thinks time travel is real? Rezin?

Simon Tillier: 

Hayes Hanlon: (Up to the ceiling) The guy who came up short at Culture Shock against Yours Truly? Rezin?

Hayes looks away off camera, drawing a hand over his upper upholstery before turning back to Tillier.

Hayes Hanlon: It seems that Troy wants to give everyone I’ve already beat a second chance, Simon, and beat em’ I have! So if I have any words, it’s this: 

The Five Star Stud flashes one last quick stare to the camera.

Hayes Hanlon: Rezin, why should you. Be. Any. Different.

Surprisingly, the question is met with a disembodied answer, coming in the form of a low, guttural voice.

“Hayesss…”

Simon and Hayes separately look around for the owner of the voice. Then, unexpectedly rising into the frame from a column of smoke as if he’d been summoned up through a portal to hell, “the Escape Artist” Rezin appears. 

Simon Tillier: Oh my… Rezin!

Rezin’s eyes are on par with Nicolas Cage levels of absurd craziness as he stares down the Five Star Champion.

Rezin: Haaayyyeeesss…

His head begins to shake and convulse. Trails of frothing saliva spew from the corners of his mouth as his breathing gets heavier and more pronounced. His clenched fists are held out before him, tremoring with all the rage and fury he can muster.

Rezin: …hhhhhhhhHHHHAAAAYYYYEEEESSSS!!!

Despite Rezin’s unstable seething, Hanlon remains calm, sans one flinch once Rezin’s stench hits his nose. Tillier glances anxiously between champion and challenger, as he finds himself inexplicably caught between the two. He elects to cut through the tension the only way he knows how: by asking questions.

Simon Tillier: So, um… Rezin, would you care to respond to — HEY!

The Goat Bastard swipes the mic from the junior reporter’s hand and savagely yanks him out of the way by the collar of his suit jacket. Now he stands toe-to-toe with the Five Star Champion, glaring intensely into the Event Horizon’s face. To his credit, Hayes Hanlon doesn’t flinch, and offers 

Rezin: You disappoint me… HAAYYESS HAANLONN!

He puts a snarling, vindictive emphasis on the champ’s name. Real Wrath of Khan levels of overdramatic.

Rezin: Here I was thinkin’ that you, being the Carl Sagan aficionado and all, would at least be a halfway intelligent guy… but NAH! Clearly all that GOLD is gettin’ to your head, cause after just ONE successful title defense, you’re already out here suggestin’ that this ol’ Dopesmoker ain’t gonna be anything else other than the guaranteed next rung on your ladder!

The Goat Bastard slowly walks a circle around Hanlon, sizing him up and down, like a jackal sniffing his prey. 

Rezin: You ask why should be any “different”? Hell, why should YOU!? You may have enjoyed a nice coupla months since you STOLE that title from me back at Culture Shock, but what’s a coupla months compared to the YEARS I’ve grinded myself through this business! Believe me, HAAYYESS HAANLONN… you ain’t ANYTHING I haven’t seen before! I’ve seen this industry chew through hotshots like YOU almost as frequently as the Melvins go through bass players! Champs come and go, as they always have… but REAL FIGHTERS like ME will always stand to outlast one generation after the next! 

Rezin leans in nice and close, A sneering, devilish grin spreads across his face

Rezin: Don’t get me wrong, cause I would love for NOTHING MORE than to KICK that that gloriously thick pussy-broom right off your DAMBably handsome face, I can’t honestly say I have much interest in bein’ PRIME’s next “flavor of the month!” All that I REALLY need from YOU, HAAYYESS HAANLONN…

A tar-stained index finger pushes into the face of the championship belt draped over Hayes’ shoulder.

Rezin: …is THIS BELT, and all the SWEET, SWEET CAPITAL that comes with it!

A low and hungry growl escapes the Escape Artist as his gaze lingers over the Five Star Championship for a moment. Then his crazed glare finds the eyes of the champion once again.

Rezin: Ya really wanna know what separates THIS high-flippin’, bong-rippin’, and scum-drippin’ sum’bish from those two normie STOOGES ya beat at the last show? Well, it can easily be summed up into two words: LATERAL! THINKING! The ability to use STONER INGENUITY to solve conventional problems with UN-conventional solutions!

Rezin points at his own nogging and cackles with a sorely misplaced sense of triumph.

Rezin: Thing is, I don’t even have to prove I’m any “better” than YOU to get these FILTHY HANDS OF MINE on that strap!  All I gotta do, HAAYYESS HAANLONN… is wait until that one perfect moment! That ONE MOMENT when you let your guard down and leave yourself open and vulnerable! And when that moment comes, HAAYYESS HAANLONN… when you ABSOLUTELY LEAST SUSPECT IT… THAT is when I STRIKE!

Hanlon’s right hand suddenly swats the mic from his hand in an absolute blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.

Rezin: D’AAH!!

The suddenness of Hayes’ movement causes the cagey Goat Bastard’s fight-or-flight senses to kick in, and he instinctively dives head first into a nearby waste bin. Hayes makes a move to say something to the Escape Artist, but thinks better of it before turning to Tillier.

Hayes Hanlon: Someday we’ll get a normal interview, Simon. See you in a couple weeks, Rez.

The Champ hands the mic back to the junior reporter before exiting off screen. Rising out of the trash, Rezin angrily shakes his fist after the Event Horizon.

Rezin: YOU’LL BE SWORRY… HHHAAAAYYYYEEESSSS…. HAAAAANNLOOOOONNNNNN!!!!

INFINITE POSSIBILITIES, ONE CONCLUSION

ReVival returns to see senior interviewer Matt Mills standing next to Sid Phillips. Sid, wearing a brown poncho over his usual black and blue singlet, stands there with his hands on his hips. Conspicuous by their absence are Sid’s tag team partner, Joe Fontaine, and the team’s manager, Baron von Blackberry. Yes, he is their manager, because he’s the sane one of the three. We’re not joking. 

Matt Mills: Ladies and gentlemen, joining me here right before his first actual match in PRIME is Sid Phillips! Tonight, Sid, you’re going up against the team of Nate Colton and Nathan Filmix, but…

Matt looks around.

Matt Mills: Sid, where’s your tag team partner?

As if on cue, a hand taps Matt from behind. The camera pans over. Standing there with a goofball grin on his face and wearing a bedazzled poncho of his own is Joe Fontaine.

Joe Fontaine: Hey there, Millsy, my man! Lookin’ fly like usual, I see.

He pats Matt on the head as he takes his place by Sid’s side. Let’s all forget the fact that Matt easily had three inches and fifty pounds on the poor guy. Matt, the consummate professional that he is, decides to simply ignore it.

Matt Mills: Joe, we’re all wondering. How are you still alive?

Joe Fontaine: What do you mean?

Matt Mills: I mean, last week, when the Winds of Change were eliminated from Survivor, plenty of people were questioning if you were even alive at all. You appeared to have met an untimely end at the… uh, hands? Is hands the word? The “hands” of El Hijo del Super Cool Guy.

At the mere mention of the name of King Blueberry’s tag team partner, Joe whirls around, literally jumping into the air in a 360 degree spin. He lands with a crouch, and holds his hands out with his palms close to the ground.

Joe Fontaine: DON’T. SAY. THAT. NAME!

Sid rolls his eyes, and pulls Joe away from Mills. He looks at the senior interviewer with steely eyes, the look of a man who doesn’t want to deal with Joe’s horsing around.

Sid Phillips: Listen to yourself, Matt. Don’t you think that whole question was insane? The one you just said? He’s obviously alive.

Joe Fontaine: Yeah!

Sid Phillips: I mean, I don’t know how he’s alive either…

Joe Fontaine: Hey!

Sid Phillips: …But the point is, he’s alive, and we’re alive, and we’re ready for our first match in PRIME.

Matt Mills: Okay. Good. I guess that’s good. Now, Nathan Filmix and Nate Colton are known for their acumen within the professional wrestling ring, so what strategies have you developed to counteract that?

Sid genuinely looks puzzled at the question. He takes a glance towards Joe, who simply shrugs his shoulders. So Sid turns to Matt, and smirks a little.

Sid Phillips: Strategy? Okay. Here’s a strategy for you. You know how when you get in the ring, there’s a wealth of possibilities out there? Anything can happen, right? That’s true for a lot of guys in the locker room. It’s true for Filmix and Colton. We all saw them win last week. But with me, and only me, there’s but one inevitability.

Sid points a finger at himself.

Sid Phillips: I, alone, can turn every infinite possibility that could happen in that ring into a single inevitable conclusion… and that conclusion is powerbombs. 

Matt Mills starts to move the microphone back to his own lips to ask another question, but Sid grabs the microphone with Mills’ hand still on it, and pulls it back towards himself. He isn’t done talking. 

Sid Phillips: Let me tell you something, Mills. I’m going to walk into that ring. I’m going to step through the ropes. And then when the bell rings, I’m going to powerbomb Filmix. I’m going to powerbomb Colton. I’m going to pick up the broken corpse of Filmix, and then I’m going to powerbomb him on top of Colton. I might even feel frisky and try powerbombing both of them at the same time. I’m going to powerbomb the two of them until their bones inside their bodies are dust, then I’m going to powerbomb the gelatinous, limp garbage that remains until they’re pudding, and then I’ll powerbomb the pudding for good measure. 

There is a long pause, as Sid’s mad ramblings about powerbombs sink in for the other two people in the room. Then Joe pats Sid on the shoulder and beams proudly.

Joe Fontaine: And my strategy – thanks for asking for my opinion, by the way – is to be incredibly fabulous and dazzle everyone with my sick moves!

No one in the room believes that Joe is dazzling anyone with any sick moves, because it’s very difficult to take a man who keeps getting his ass kicked by an inanimate object seriously. Matt frees his arm from Sid, and moves his microphone to his lips.

Matt Mills: Mr. Fontaine, while everyone in PRIME is well aware of Sid’s, uh… talent for powerbombs, we haven’t seen a whole lot of your skill in the ring yet. In fact, you’ve spent most of your appearances so far taking Canadian Destroyers from… a mannequin.

Joe Fontaine: Hey, man, don’t say the M-word around me. Really kinda brings my mood down, you know? But I mean, think about it. Maybe I’ve been holding back this whole time. Maybe my wrestling skills don’t translate well to farcical games of chance! You don’t know that. I’m full of surprises. Like a Kinder egg. Except cooler, and not at risk of being a victim of banditry. I’m like a Kinder, uh… treasure chest! Yeah! 

Mills goes to ask another question, because a lot of what Joe Fontaine said happens to be incredibly questionable. However, before he’s able to get a single word out, he is interrupted by a maniacal laughter.

Everyone knows whose maniacal laughter this is.

Baron von Blackberry: AHAHAHA! MILLS, YOU FOOL! How DARE you conduct an interview with my minions without me, the great and mighty and ABSOLUTELY PERFECT Baron von Blackberry! Were it not for the laws of this foreign land, I would DESTROY you for such careless insolence! 

When the camera pans towards Blackberry, he is… not quite dressed as he usually would be. On the top of his blackberry-masked head, he’s wearing an ill-fitting red New York Yankees baseball cap. Backwards. He’s also wearing a big, bulky sports jacket over the top of his lab coat.

Even Matt Mills, consummate professional that he is, is taken aback by what Blackberry is wearing.

Matt Mills: Mr. von Blackberry… what… What are you wearing?

Baron von Blackberry: Oh, this? Let me tell you something. This is an idea that came into this world as a reject. Look into these eyes.

Matt Mills: I can’t see your eyes.

Baron von Blackberry: SILENCE!

Mills is physically taken aback by the volume of Blackberry’s decree of silence.

Baron von Blackberry: Anyway, as you have clearly asked for our opinions on my minions’ opponents, allow me to elucidate my own opinions on the matter. 

Matt shrugs, and properly points the microphone towards Blackberry.

Baron von Blackberry: I admit that Nate Colton is a fine specimen of a man, fit for all manner of curious scientific experiments, and certainly attractive to the eyes of many women. Especially Peggy. Hello, Peggy, I hope you’re doing well. As for Nathan Filmix… may he leap naked into a pit of cacti and angry porcupines while marinated in orange juice! Regardless, all that matters is that my minions here are doing this all for the nookie.

Joe Fontaine: Uh, the nookie?

Baron von Blackberry: Indeed. The prophet known as Fred Durst came into Fruitsylvania with a vision, extolling the virtues of doing it all for the nookie, so that your enemies can take a cookie and stick it up their YEAH. Prophet Durst’s words were recorded in his two great religious texts – Significant Other and Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water.

There is an even longer pause as Blackberry’s mouth contorts in a grimace, actively regretting the things he is saying.

Baron von Blackberry: …I should never again make bets with Jared Blueberry.

After another long pause, Blackberry simply turns on his heel and walks away, leaving Joe and Sid to stand there awkwardly. The two look at each other and then follow Blackberry out, heading for the ring.

Matt Mills: Richard, Nick, um… back to you guys. 

Internally, Mills is probably wondering if it’s time for a pay raise. In any case, it’s now time for the next match. Featuring all of these bozos!

NATE COLTON & NATHAN FILMIX VS. WINDS OF CHANGE

Referee Jimmy Turnbull stands in the ring next to Vince Howard as we prepare for the next match.

Nick Stuart: Coming up next, tag team action as the Winds of Change take on the team of Nate Colton and Nathan Filmix or, as our esteemed leader is calling them this week…hang on, let me double check…Saturday Nate’s Alright!

Richard Parker: (For Fighting)! Can’t forget that parenthetical, Nick!

Nick Stuart: Too right you are, partner. Both teams fared well in our much-vaunted Tag Team Survivor, and both Nates are looking to build momentum after their big triple-threat tag team win over the eGG Bandits and the Saturday Night Specials.

Richard Parker: Winds of Change are definitely my team to watch – you know Sid Phillips? I crossed paths with a bookie who is taking action on how many powerbombs he would deliver in this match!

Nick Stuart: Oh boy…what’s the over/under?

Richard Parker: Six point five! I bet on the over, of course – you know why?

Nick Stuart: I’m scared to ask.

Richard Parker: IT’S HIS ONLY MOVE, PARTNER!

Vince Howard: The following contest is a tag team match scheduled for one fall! Introducing first, at a combined weight of FOUR hundred EIGHTY pounds…Joe Fontaine! Sid Phillips! THE WIIIIIIIINDS of CHAAAAAAANGE!

The opening piano of the Bandini remix of Ennio Morricone’s classic “The Ecstasy of Gold” hits, and out marches Sid Phillips wearing a brown and red poncho. Behind him, Joe Fontaine emerges wearing a bedazzled, colorful poncho of many colors over the top of an equally gaudy tearaway suit. A lot of rhinestones are involved with that one. Baron von Blackberry comes out behind Joe, laughing maniacally as he does. Sid’s all business as he marches down to the ring, while Joe takes his time playing to the crowd and flexing his muscles. Sid enters the ring first, and Joe slides in behind him. Joe makes a big show about removing his tearaway suit, and does a lot of flexing afterwards as though he’s the strongest boy in the whole world. He isn’t. Sid is very unimpressed, but he makes a show out of pretending to be in order to appease his partner.

Nick Stuart: How many powerbombs do you think Fontaine is going to hit tonight?

Richard Parker: I think Baron von BLACKBERRY has a better chance of hitting a powerbomb tonight!

Vince Howard: And their opponents, at a combined weight of four hundred seventy-five pounds…the team of Nathan Filmix and Nate Colton!

Richard Parker: Aw man, he didn’t say the name!

“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival blares over the PA to a surprising pop as Filmix runs out, equal parts Pumped As Hell and Nervous About His Choices, but the fans are into the familiar guitar stylings. Filmix can’t help but bop to the beat as he waits atop the ramp. After a bit, the music cuts out, and “Tryin’” by The Eagles plays over the PA system. Colton steps through and just gives his partner a look, tongue literally in cheek. Filmix looks to his partner, his eyes saying “pretty good though, right?”, as Colton just shakes his head and the two head down to the ring.

Richard Parker: I think I know what the Nates should actually call themselves, are you ready for it?

Nick Stuart: Hit me!

Richard Parker: The Nate U Give.

Nick Stuart: …

Richard Parker: 

Nick Stuart: Jimmy Turnbull is ready to get things started – and not a moment too soon!

DING DING

Filmix starts things off for the Nates and Fontaine enters for Winds of Change. Fontaine launches into an aggressive collar-and-elbow right away. Filmix is taken aback for a moment as Fontaine’s charge sends him staggering to regain his balance, but after a couple steps, he’s able to use his size advantage to gain leverage before quickly switching. Filmix goes for the rear waistlock, but Fontaine is able to quickly go-behind and go for a waistlock of his own. Back and forth they go until finally Filmix throws a back elbow that connects, then he throws a second one that Fontaine ducks! Fontaine scrambles to his corner and quickly tags in his much larger partner.

Nick Stuart: Fontaine slips through Filmix’s grasp there, but a pretty even exchange to get things started.

Richard Parker: Very technical, but here’s my money man now! Powerbomb him six point six times, Sid!

Filmix looks to get a first strike in as Phillips enters, but his forearm smash is caught! Sid maintains wrist control and, with his free arm, lifts Filmix up by the armpit until he’s up on his shoulders – POWERBOMB!

Richard Parker: One down!

Phillips scoops Filmix off the mat and lifts him back up, then drops back down into a SIT-OUT POWERBOMB!

Richard Parker: That’s two!!

Phillips lets out a big boy roar and soaks in the crowd’s adulation.

Nick Stuart: Impressive power from the big man, but he may be celebrating too early…Filmix is crawling over to his corner, and he’s reaching – no! Phillips cuts him off!

In a rare moment of Not Powerbombing, Phillips has hold of Filmix’s leg and drags him to the middle of the ring! He then props Filmix’s ankle onto one shoulder, then the second ankle on his other shoulder, straiiiiiins and lifts! Powerbomb number three! Ready for a breather after exerting himself, he tags in Fontaine.

Nick Stuart: Winds of Change are isolating Filmix at this point, and Joe Fontaine looks to press the early advantage!

Fontaine goes straight to the top rope and goes for a moonsault to the fallen Filmix – Filmix moves out of the way! Fontaine crashes and burns! Filmix scrambles to his feet and grabs hold of his opponent, connecting with a Vertical Suplex! After the suplex, he goes for the cover and gets a one count. Not wasting a moment, Filmix reconnects with the rear waistlock he sought out in the opening moments of the match – connects with a German Suplex! He bridges for the pin, and Fontaine thrusts his arm in the air just after the two count!

Nick Stuart: Those powerbombs took a toll on Filmix – he was able to stop the bleeding, but he really needs to tag in his partner – and there’s the tag! In comes Colton!

Richard Parker: Get Sid back in there! He owes me four more powerbombs!

Colton sprints into the ring and quickly knocks Fontaine to his ass with a sprinting forearm smash! As he rebounds off the ropes, Fontaine staggers back up, only to be dropped with a running neckbreaker! He lifts the dazed Fontaine by his noodle and, just as quickly, hurls him over with a snapmare before locking in a nasty rear choke hold!

Nick Stuart: Submission attempt here!

Fontaine flails his legs and after great effort is able to reach the ropes, forcing a break of the hold. Colton gets to his feet first and measures his man. Fontaine gets to his feet and looks to shake out the cobwebs, only to be caught by Colton and hurled across the ring via Exploder Suplex! For good measure, he runs to his opponents’ corner and shoves Phillips off the apron!

Richard Parker: Colton fears the powerbomb! It’s confirmed!

Nick Stuart: I think he’s just trying to execute a sound tag team strategy, partner!

Once again, Colton measures his man and lifts him up – positions him to be upside down – and DRIVES Fontaine’s collarbone into his knee with a devastating shoulderbreaker! He hooks the far leg!

ONE

TWO

NO!!

Fontaine shoots out of the pinning predicament at the last possible moment and gives a desperate look to his corner, but to his despair – no Phillips. He only has a moment to soak in this sight before Colton wrenches Fontaine’s neck backwards into a standing Dragon Sleeper! Colton looks to Jimmy Turnbull, checking for the submission!

Nick Stuart: Fontaine is in a world of trouble, partner! He’s going to need a miracle here!

As if on cue, Phillips slides into the ring and kneels before Colton’s legs…

Richard Parker: NO WAY! Do it you beautiful man!

…and starts lifting! Fontaine’s own feet dangle off the mat for a moment before he’s able to slip out of Colton’s Dragon Sleeper, which Colton tried maintaining whilst being lifted up! POWERBOMB! Jimmy Turnbull admonishes Phillips and sends him back into his corner, missing Fontaine’s attempt at a cover! After a back and forth argument, we see Filmix enter the ring and deliver stomps with violent precision directly into Fontaine’s ribs. He clasps hands with Colton and pulls him towards his own corner, stepping back out of the ring. Blackberry steps in to calm Phillips down, which seems to finally work. As Turnbull and Phillips end their tiff, Filmix is able to successfully tag himself in.

Nick Stuart: Just as it looked like Winds of Change halted the momentum of the Nates, Filmix comes in with a timely save! It looks like he’s recovered from those powerbombs and is ready to win it for his team!

Richard Parker: Come on, Phillips! A hundred bucks is at stake!

Nick Stuart: Maybe not best to give specifics on air, Richard.

Filmix locks in the underhooks – Double Underhook Powerbomb on Fontaine! He bridges up for the pin!

ONE!

TWO!

THR-NOOOOO!

With a last gasp effort, Fontaine gets the shoulder up! Filmix is stunned and starts barking at Jimmy Turnbull, who maintains the accuracy of his count. In his frustration, Filmix fails to notice that Fontaine, almost on autopilot, has full-on leapt towards his corner to the straining outstretched arm of Sid Phillips, making the tag!

Nick Stuart: In comes Phillips!

Richard Parker: EARN ME DOLLARS!

Hearing the roar of the crowd after the tag, Filmix turns around and locks eyes with the big man standing across the ring. They step towards each other and go nose-to-nose and the trash talk flows, much to the delight of the PRIMEates in attendance. Phillips moves to grab Filmix by the head, but Filmix scouts it and blocks, instead locking Phillips’s head! With the headlock, he delivers a series of knee strikes into Phillips’s chest and guts! He gets Phillips down to one knee before transitioning to wrist control – whips him back – RIPCORD HEADBUTT! Both men stagger, but Phillips falls first! Filmix goes for the cover!

ONE!

TWO-AHHHHHHH!

Phillips uses his Herculean strength to LAUNCH Filmix off of his chest! Both men scramble to their feet – Filmix leaps onto Phillips’s back, attempting a rear naked choke! With much effort, Phillips is able to shift and reposition and adjust until, somehow, he has Filmix up on his shoulders, though it’s definitely backwards to how Sid usually expects it. A look of confusion washes over his face for a moment, before a lightbulb moment hits – ELECTRIC CHAIR SLAM by Phillips!!

Richard Parker: THAT STILL COUNTS! THAT STILL COUNTS!

Nick Stuart: What an Electric Chair Slam by Phillips!

Richard Parker: YOU MEAN A REVERSE POWERBOMB, NICK.

Nick Stuart: Take it easy!

Phillips lowers the straps on his singlet as he lets the energy of the crowd and the moment flow through him! He reaches down and grabs Filmix, another standing headscissors transitioned into a lift – with some extra OOMPH, he delivers another powerbomb! Baron von Blackberry is going NUTS on the outside in excitement, pumping up the crowd!

Richard Parker: THAT’S SIX, ONE MORE, PARTNER!

Nick Stuart: I’m pretty sure that’s five powerbombs and one elec-

Richard Parker: DON’T TAKE THIS FROM ME!

Phillips quickly gets Filmix into standing headscissors position one more time, and lifts him up to his shoulders! Colton can take no more of this and steps through the ropes to break this up – BUT FONTAINE IS THERE TO WIPE OUT COLTON WITH A MOONSAULT!!

Nick Stuart: THAT MOONSAULT CAME FROM NOWHERE!

Phillips lifts Filmix up a few extra inches into the air – ELEVATED POWERBOMB! He stacks Filmix!

ONE!

TWO!

THREE!!

DING DING DING!

“The Ecstasy of Gold (Bandini Remix)” by Ennio Morricone blasts through the ring as Jimmy Turnbull goes to raise Sid Phillips’s arm!

Vince Howard: Here are your winners…THE WIIIIIIIINDS OF CHAAAAAAAANGE!

Fontaine holds his ribs after that final Hail Mary maneuver and stumbles to the middle of the ring, beaming widely as his arm is also raised by the referee.

Nick Stuart: What a fantastic win by the Winds of Change – it looked dicey there for quite a while!

Richard Parker: Yep, but then MY MAN hit ALL SEVEN POWERBOMBS which earned me a trip to the pay window!

Nick Stuart: …six powerbombs and an electric chai-

Richard Parker: SEVEN. POWERBOMBS.

Nick Stuart: Either way, an outstanding effort out of both teams tonight! It’s time to take a break to pay some bills, stay tuned!

COMMERCIAL: DEFIANCE

https://youtube.com/watch?v=VMwcHvvT3SQ%3Ffeature%3Doembed%26color%3Dred%26rel%3D1%26controls%3D1%26start%3D10%26end%3D10%26fs%3D1%26iv_load_policy%3D1

DEFIANCE has hit the road! Catch them in your town and stream all the action live at defiancewrestling DAHT CAHM!

THE BERRY, THE BATHORY, THE BELLYACHER

Jonathan Rhine is walking down a backstage hallway. Every so often he stops, then begins quickly jogging in place. After the third time, he smiles.

Jonathan Rhine: I’ve got this log challenge.

Suddenly he stops. Something else Rhine has got, apparently, is his eyes on a man he has wanted to confront for a few weeks now. Alone, for once, is Julian Bathory, and he’s smiling at Rhine.

Jonathan Rhine: You.

Rhine walks up to Bathory until they are inches apart.

Jonathan Rhine: LT won’t give me a match with you yet, but she will eventually, and I can’t wait.

The director of MESSIAH eyes his rival up and down for a moment.

Julian Bathory: If this is how you treat all would-be donors to your foundation then I’d hate to see the hostility you have for those who shun their commitments to humanity.

Whether the look on his face is masked mirth or true sorrow is in the eyes of the beholder. In the view of Jonathan Rhine, quite obviously, it’s the former.

Julian Bathory: I offer you altruism, a gift to aid in eradicating an evil dear to your heart, and I’m treated with naught but disdain and hate. By you and your associates. And for what? The company I keep?

Jonathan Rhine: Shweta said this is what you would do and say. You operate in darkness, pretend to be good, and yet we know it’s nothing more than a farce. You fooled the other donors, you’ve fooled countless people around you, but you won’t fool us. You can continue your facade. In the ring, it won’t matter.

He shakes his head.

Jonathan Rhine: You can downplay your association with Shanahan all you want, but all I know is that rabbits don’t lie in the den with snakes.

The Carpathian Devil grins, taking a step back. He tilts his head and reaches to his collar, brushing over the copper coin which rests below his throat.

Julian Bathory: You speak truth, Jon Rhine. He is a snake. Bruce Shanahan is one of the most devious serpents to ever exist in the business of professional wrestling.

Rhine’s eyes widen slightly, obviously not expecting that admission. Bathory takes a step forward, inches from the face of his aggressor.

Julian Bathory: Oh, did that slip by your guard? Do you expect me to offer hollow platitudes about my mentor being a wholly reformed man without an ounce of malevolence in his soul? Negative. No, no, not at all. I acknowledge the flaws and evils in the old Violence Jack, the horrors he’s visited on the world. But by my direction I keep his destructive whims at bay and recognize the wisdom he offers, channel them, cast off the worst impulses like a snake discards a spent skin. The approach of a hero wreathed in white light? Not remotely. But then, unlike you, I see the world with more nuance, in shades of gray, minus the fantasy. I see the world as it is.

Jonathan Rhine looks down at his feet.

Jonathan Rhine: It sounds nice in theory. You trust your friend. Well I trust mine. And Shweta has spent years in the underbelly of the wrestling world. She has heard things. Things about you and your money. Things that prove to me that the people who know who you are — who really know — won’t accept your money. And when I saw her reaction at the dinner, I knew that nothing good had walked through that door. 

Rhine nods, then steps back.

Jonathan Rhine: Your façade is good. But I bet it starts to slip when I get a few good punches in. Hopefully we’ll see in a few weeks. 

A smirk from the leader of MESSIAH.

Julian Bathory: I wear a variety of masks as needed, Jon. My responsibilities are many. However, if you want a true angle on a phony facade, find a mirror. Your eyes, your mannerisms, your quirks, they betray you. I don’t see strength in front of me, I don’t see a force prepared to hurtle to the peak of PRIME and change the world. There’s merely a man held back by hollow sentiment, aching for validation.

He steps in closer, reading his aggressor. Rhine’s eyes burn holes in Bathory, but for one moment there is a brief flicker of uncertainty. 

Julian Bathory: Yet for those cracks I still behold someone, were they to take in the gospel we offer, that could become a behemoth in this company and a beacon of their foundation.

He spreads his arms, welcoming.

Julian Bathory: I hold the keys to your Heaven, Jonathan Rhine. As I do for myriad others. Remember, in the end, everyone gets the help they need.

Jonathan Rhine looks down at his feet. When he speaks, it is without volume or conviction.

Jonathan Rhine: You…you don’t know me.

The voice that follows is one that Rhine probably does not want to hear right now.

“I don’t know about that. It sounded like a pretty accurate assessment to me.”

Some might say it’s providence that King Blueberry and Jonathan Rhine keep running into each other backstage like this, but the reality is that there are only so many ways backstage to get from point A to point C. It just so happens that point B runs through this conversation.

King Blueberry: Of course, now he’s going to hold a grudge forever because you said a mean thing this one time. Sorry, Julian. But hey, welcome to the club.

When Rhine notices who is speaking, he rolls his eyes. He takes a few steps back from Bathory and gives him a quick glance before addressing his latest assailant.

Jonathan Rhine: Hi, Jared. Rich of you to say since you probably keep all of the mean things I’ve ever said about you in a journal under your pillow. I’m just going to warn you though, Bathory isn’t anyone you want to side with, even if it’s against me.

King Blueberry: Oh, come on. We both know that’s bullshit. There’s no way that would all fit in just one journal.

Despite the venom, the Blueberry’s posture is casual. He leans against the wall, hands buried in his pockets, feet crossed at the ankles, nothing that would convey an air of aggression or concern.

King Blueberry: I have to admit, the man makes a pretty good point. You can’t really call someone out for knowing questionable people when you’re working with a woman who went through the trouble of actually, literally poisoning you a while ago. Pretty hypocritical, really.

But make no mistake, he is still on the attack.

King Blueberry: I wonder what makes her the exception.

Rhine doesn’t respond with words, but he shakes his head quickly. 

King Blueberry: But, she did put together one hell of an event, and I mean that sincerely. I know it had its hiccups, but it did a lot of good, and ultimately that’s the important thing, right? I do have a question about that. Don’t feel obligated to answer; I realize it’s not really any of my business.

He turns ever so slightly. The next question isn’t aimed at Rhine, but rather Julian Bathory.

King Blueberry: I heard your group made a pretty big donation to the foundation. I’m just curious… did they keep it?

Julian Bathory: They didn’t.

King Blueberry: Wow.

Nothing about his posture changes, but there’s a subtle shift along King Blueberry’s jawline as muscles tense. What follows is a slow nod and a long breath.

King Blueberry: And here I thought the purpose of a foundation was to raise money, but I guess that all goes to hell when the source doesn’t line up with your pristine portrait of morality, huh? “Sorry, kid. We had to put your health and future on the back burner because this guy knows a bad man. Tough break.” Maybe it was never really about her.

He pushes away from the wall.

King Blueberry: You don’t like the people he knows, so their money isn’t good enough. Thousands of dollars cast aside because… fuck. Seriously, Jon, which one of you’s supposed to be the bad guy here?

For a brief second, Jon’s eyes flash in anger. Then he begins to laugh.

Jonathan Rhine: I swear, Jared. You really have it both ways, don’t you?

He claps his hands together.

Jonathan Rhine: How freeing it must be to be King Blueberry and Jared Sykes. One day you can shock people with tazers, steal forklifts, cause thousands of dollars in damages to hotel property, and be a nuisance to all under the guise of comedy. The next day you can make unironic moral judgments and get offended when anyone insults you for your previously stated buffoonery. How wonderful it is to never have to answer for anything your other half does so you can continue to mock and harangue people who do things that you can’t possibly comprehend.

His smile drops and he takes another step towards King Blueberry and away from Bathory.

Jonathan Rhine: You don’t know anything about the Foundation. What we go through, what we raise, and what we do with that money. And I could tell you the truth: that even without this snake’s donation we were able to give Nora and Melissa more money for her treatments than we had raised in the first four months. But it doesn’t matter, does it? You’ve made your mind up. Twelve years ago you got mad at me for whatever reason, and in your head now I’m just a capital B, capital G Bad Guy. Never mind that we’re standing feet away from someone whose organization actually does evil things in the guise of darkness. 

He points to Bathory.

Jonathan Rhine: You want to be on the side of a literal devil against someone who is trying to do the right thing? I won’t stop you. Here, I’ll move so you can get closer to him.

And Rhine shuffles to the side, mockingly bowing and gesturing towards Bathory. 

King Blueberry: You do love to bring up the taser thing, don’t you? If it means that much to you, then go ask Troy for it. Maybe that request will go better than your last one. And why wouldn’t you want it, after all you’re the one who benefitted from it being around, right?

He simply shrugs.

King Blueberry: Forklifts, cakes, leaf blowers… it’s all just stuff. Not like I’m putting my ego in the way of someone’s life. But preach all you want. I’ve heard the sermon for years, Jon. I’m a billion different versions of dumb depending on who you ask. And he’s the “literal devil?” What the hell have you actually witnessed to give you the moral superiority to say that? I mean it’s not like he had his affair broadcast on live television.

Jonathan Rhine blinks. He takes a step backward. 

Jonathan Rhine: You…

Then, he clenches his fists.

Jonathan Rhine: You…fucking…dare…

And then he cocks back and punches King Blueberry in the jaw. Julian Bathory leans back, grinning, as Shweta Kallemullah suddenly runs in, grabbing Rhine’s shoulders and pulling him back as he tries to lunge forward at Blueberry. For his part, Blueberry offers no resistance.

Jonathan Rhine: You don’t even get to reference Katie! 

Shweta looks from Rhine to King Blueberry and shakes her head as she tries to drag Rhine away.

Shweta Kallemullah: Come on, Jonathan. Ignore him.

Jonathan Rhine: I know who I’m picking when I win tonight!

It’s only when they leave that King Blueberry puts a hand to his jaw.

King Blueberry: (Softly) Yeah. That one… that one I had comin’.

LESSONS

Somewhere in the PRIME-porium.

(Still a stupid name.)

There are people manning their merch stands, hoping to catch anybody on their way to or from their piss breaks to shill the latest things for you, the audience, to buy. They will work from before the doors open until the last fan walks off. They will be here almost in spite of themselves and if you hang out long enough, you realize how much everything blends together. It becomes a blur of meaningless faces selling bits of fabric, a bleeding through of capitalism. And noticing that this narration is beginning to sound like Rezin, let’s shake this up a bit.

What the majority of these miscellaneous faces fail to notice is that their stock is dwindling a bit. And it’s not because of sales. They turn their backs for just a moment and something steals just the smallest stack of merchandise. How horrible! How terrible! Who would do such a thing? He blends into the shadows and seems very happy about his petty theft either way. His tail wags as he plays with the t-shirt shaped cloth, throwing it up in the air and catching them up with his teeth. Chewing on them. Ripping them to bits. But he’s making sure not to eat them. That’s important. He’s a good boi, after all. He says so.

His stealthy bid to continue with what some might call theft carries on. He doesn’t see it that way. No, not at all. It was playtime for him. Clearly, some very considerate person had brought loads upon loads of toys for him. He has been a good boi, we’ve already been over that. Another piece is snatched away from the unobservant merchants. He had skills that would have made Arsène Lupin take notice. A mistake had been made, though. In his excitement, he had gotten careless. He may have checked his twelve, but he forgot to check his six. Never forget to check your six. Because of this, he was now compromised. His cover had been blown.

His potential captor stalked him. That might be a bit of an over-exaggeration, as they actually approached him from the front, making no effort to hide. That didn’t mean he was on guard. Playtime, remember? One must have priorities. He noticed them soon enough. Despite the cliché, hiding in plain sight is a poor strategy. If you’re trying to get noticed, though? There are worse ways to go about it. They reached a clawed hand for him. It was over, the jig was up, that’s the ballgame, the end is nigh, no going back now. They playfully tussled his ears back and forth.

“Bucky! What are you doing here?”

The voice belonged to one Ria Nightshade. Bucky explained himself, the excitement very obvious in his voice. His words meant almost nothing. This isn’t said to belittle him, it’s said because Ria can’t speak the language of dogs and their barking. Nonetheless, she smiles at her four legged friend, crouching down to get closer to his level. A wagging tail, a panting tongue and the facsimile of a smile let her know that Bucky is rather happy to see her as well. More ear scratches, some butt scratches and general pets are heaped upon the canine. He’s all too happy to receive the physical attention.

A figure rounds the corner. They are slender, elegant, but with an air of danger. The Time Lord has arrived. Anna Daniels has quite the sight in front of them. Bits of ravaged fabrics litter the scene, almost as if hit by a bomb. Bucky, seemingly sensing his owner’s presence, turns to confirm his premonition. He darts off towards them, greeting The Muse in much the same way he had greeted Ria. Speaking of, she had slowly trailed Bucky’s steps. Anna slowly dropped to one knee, their turn to love on their pet. They looked up at Ria prior to rising back to their feet.

Anna Daniels: Sis, fancy meeting you here.

A slight smile finds its way into Ria’s face.

Ria Nightshade: Purely coincidental, I promise. While I have you here, I wanted to ask you something.

Anna Daniels: We may have an answer for you.

Ria’s body language changes. She seems withdrawn, vulnerable. She hesitates. It could be a matter of wording. Perhaps she’s worried about the answer she’ll receive? A deep breath proceeds another change in demeanor, Ria steeling herself before speaking.

Ria Nightshade: So you’re a collection of entries inhabiting a human body.

Anna Daniels: Human?

The features of Anna Daniels look like somebody threw a rock and struck her. Somebody in that brain was about to launch into an explanation. But observing Ria’s demeanor, they opted not to.

Anna Daniels: Well. Close enough, anyway. Why?

Ria Nightshade: Do… they fight? How can you keep yourself from going mad when the noise never stops?

An air of exhaustion has surrounded Ria. It could be from her grueling match earlier. Her questions tell a different story. This isn’t a physical exhaustion. This is a woman suffering mentally, emotionally. It wasn’t an obvious cry for help, but a quiet plea for guidance. 

Observing the circumstances, there is a nod from the vessel. As more pets are delivered to the not-quite-stealthy black lab, Anna’s slender fingers touch upon the GoPro connected to his collar. Master thief and quality cameraman. Who would’ve thought? The camera is grabbed from the pup.

Anna Daniels: Okay. First of all, we get rid of this.

It only takes a brief moment to whip out the sonic screwdriver from a pants pocket to disable the thing. Another moment to get stuffed into the abyss of another pants pocket. Still another to set up a chair.

Anna Daniels: Lesson one. Sometimes, what helps the body also helps the mind. That’s true regardless of what’s going on. Sit your ass down.

As if Ria had a choice in the matter given the New Era’s hands on her shoulders. The little sister sits and her big sis begins to pace. There isn’t a lot of eye contact in the pacing. Merely the booting up of thought processes and Firebug’s inevitable brashness bleeding through.

Anna Daniels: now. let’s get this straight. of course we fuckin’ fight. it’s an inevitability. you ain’t a mental mess of versions of yourself without a fair amount of dust ups along the way. it’s normal. or at least normal for beasts like us. so don’t worry about that so much. but if whichever one of ya is expecting a single cure all, you got the wrong idea, kid. lesson two, i guess. one size fits all only exists in shit clothing.

Suddenly, the pacing stops and the rant stops with a mumble.

Anna Daniels: They probably already know that. They aren’t stupid.

A shake of the head. Another chair is set up. Anna’s ass is in the seat. Now there’s eye contact.

Anna Daniels: Distraction. You may not realize how much a good distraction can pause a fight for long enough to make it less of a fight.

Bucky barks and wags his tail amongst the scraps, knowing that he is being talked about in a vague sense. He offers his own advice before continuing playtime. A smile creeps on Anna’s face.

Anna Daniels: Bucky says get a dog. It’s not the worst idea, honestly. They’ll make you live in spite of yourself. Let’s see, what else? Closer to match time, we end up rerouting all our anger against ourself and focus it on whoever’s in the ring. Still a distraction, just add violence. Sometimes, the vessel locks us in a room and screams into the void until we feel better. Sometimes, we rant to people outside of us. Good listeners can offer insight. And occasionally…

Sigh. Nobody wants to say it. But somebody has to say it.

Anna Daniels: Lesson three. Occasionally, you have to go a bit mad. Because you will have too much shit in your head and nothing else seems to work. Which means you might do something stupid and you might do some damage and you’d have to be ready to take responsibility for it. And that sucks. But the alternative sucks more. 

The sage advice ends on a bit of a somber note. The aura hangs there for a moment before Anna’s eyes roll. Not because of Ria Nightshade, but due to the word vomit that just spewed forth.

Anna Daniels: And when we get long winded like this, please tell us to shut up! Our rambling even annoys us.

Ria’s eyes wander at the tail end of the conversation. It wasn’t due to boredom. There was a turning point, a time where one thing said had obviously affected Ria adversely. The words and their connotation hung in the air. The alternative sucks more? The alternative… She looks back to Anna, her unofficially adopted big sister. Ria’s eyes were riddled with worry and strife, a look she rarely allowed anyone to see.

Ria Nightshade: People wonder why I call myself a bad person. It’s not the drug use. It’s not the days where I’m more nasty than usual.

Ria taps her temple as her stare shifts from looking like an incredibly sad painting to one of deathly seriousness. She has information, something she has only very vaguely hinted at. This might not be the right time. The place we refuse to name again could also be the wrong place. Anna Daniels may not even be the right collection to reveal this to. There was a kinship here, though. The air seemed to get heavy prior to Ria speaking her next words.

Ria Nightshade: There are other people in here, more than the two others have been exposed to. One of them… You said the alternative sucks more? It might be too late.

The words were chilling, concerning and unexpected. Others? Too late? The cloudy nature of what was being said couldn’t be easily deciphered. Was this a warning? A confession? Whether it was foreshadowing or admission of past sins, it was not positive by connotation. It was Ria’s turn to pace, rocketing out of her chair. The nervous energy seemed to explode out of her, frantic steps back and forth in the area they occupied.

Ria Nightshade: I don’t know what they might do. I don’t know when they might come out. There’s a darkness inside me, moreso than what others have seen. True evilness. I’m scared. If they get out… I don’t know that I can control them. I worry there’d be a very real chance I’d be gone.

That last line could mean a variety of things. Did Ria mean Nightshade would be gone? Herself as a whole? What exactly did that mean? The frenzied pacing stopped abruptly, with Ria plopping back into her chair. Her hands become both a mask and support for her face, hiding and holding at the same time. Was there anything Anna could say to help? This situation might be one where only these creatures were capable of understanding the other’s struggle, at least on a basic level. Silence, the enemy of distraction, has taken a hold of the situation.

Suddenly, the vessel known as Anna Daniels pops out of her chair…and hugs Ria?!

Anna Daniels: This might warrant more discussion later. But we’re going to give you a little bit good news, bad news, and iffy news. Good news: you feeling fear is a good thing. If you didn’t feel fear, you’d really be fucked. Fear means you don’t want to be the darkness and it means at least one of you will want to fight it off. Bad news: they will come out. There’s no if about it and deep down, you know that. Knowledge is power. Prepare for it.

The question would be how? That would be a question the Multitudes couldn’t answer. Each mental battlefield is different. The ways to victory are different. And they couldn’t fight the battles for them.

Anna Daniels: Iffy news: you might end up…gone. You might end up completely different when it all hashes out. But we have faith in the both of you. No matter how fucked up and misplaced that may seem to you both right now.

With this, the Multitudes plant a kiss atop of Ria’s crown. And Bucky, ever sneaky, licks up the tears that slip from her hands. With one hand, Ria reaches down and gently scratches her furry friend’s neck. The other wipes her eyes as the woman does her best to inhale fresh air and exhale the negative. Without a word, she demurely rises from her chair and starts off with a turtle-like pace away from the poignant, yet still unresolved situation. As if someone hit the pause button on a remote, Ria freezes in place. She wearily turns, leaving her gazing at the Time Lord. A moment passes, but the mood somehow seems ever so slightly lighter. With as much a smile as she can muster, Ria speaks softly.

Ria Nightshade: Anna… Thank you.

GET A GRIP

Nova and Garbage Bag Johnny sit in chairs in the office of PRIME’s President and CEO, Lindsay Troy, staring around at the ambience and decor. Nova flips open his cigarette pack for a quick butt-count. GBJ picks something out of his beard and holds it up to examine it, concerned. 

“The Queen of the Ring” sits across from them in her chair, which you may notice is constructed out of gold and silver championship belts. If you’re wondering if this looks familiar, yes, it is the same one.

Anyhoo, LT’s hands are clenched into fists that no stress ball would dare attempt to ameliorate.

Nova looks at Troy.

Johnny looks at Troy.

Troy scowls at them both.

They look at each other, then back at Troy.

Lindsay Troy: Guys…this needs to stop.

Nova and GBJ exchange a glance.

Lindsay Troy: I love that you went all-in on Survivor after a couple of disappointing losses. I’m thrilled about it, honestly. You didn’t sit around and pout, and that’s commendable. But this “Future of Wrestling” shit…is too much.

She slowly un-clenches her fists and runs a hand through her curls.

Lindsay Troy: This stuff with “future” old-man versions of you running around, showing up in matches…I don’t know where you found these guys, or how they keep getting access backstage without credentials…

She shakes her head.

Lindsay Troy: …but it needs to stop. This is a wrestling company. Where people wrestle.

Garbage Bag Johnny: (Turning to Nova) Was last week the scary maze or the gross food-eating competition? I don’t remember…

Lindsay Troy: Okay, people eventually wrestle.

Troy looks to Nova.

Lindsay Troy: This isn’t NFW, Caes. Craig Miles isn’t here to green-light time-travel or robots or spaceships made out of weed. 

She takes a deep breath and looks at them both.

Lindsay Troy: Just…tell me that we’re done with this, okay? Done with “Future Nova” and “Future GBJ” and traveling back in time to change or relive the past. Can you tell me that?

Nova and GBJ stare at her blankly.

Lindsay Troy: Guys. C’mon.

Nova: What…

He pauses, searching for words.

Nova: …the hell are you talking about, Lindz?

Nova turns to GBJ, pointing a finger at Troy.

Nova: Do you have any idea what she’s talking about?

GBJ slowly shakes his head in bewilderment.

Garbage Bag Johnny: I thought this was going to be about getting my Golden Ticket back.

Nova: Lindz…homie…I’m sure this…(gesturing around the office)…has all been a LOT. No doubt you’ve been under a ton of stress. And we think you’re doing a great job! Don’t we, Johnny?

GBJ flashes a thumbs-up.

Garbage Bag Johnny: Great job.

Nova: But time-travel? “Future Nova?” “Future GBJ?” Old-man versions of us?

He bursts into a fit of laughter, gripping his sides. For his part, GBJ enjoys a more restrained chuckle. 

Nova: (Wiping his eyes) Oh, man…that is good. I’m worried about you, girl, but that is good stuff. Have you thought about taking a vacation? Some time for yourself?

Troy sits in shock. Nova gets out of his chair and motions to Johnny.

Nova: C’mon, bud, we gotta go do whatever the thing is. And you…

He points a finger at the Queen of the Ring.

Nova: You take five and try to pull yourself together.

Nova leaves the office and GBJ lags behind for a second.

Garbage Bag Johnny: But yeah, if you know how I can get that Golden Ti-

GBJ is interrupted by a death glare and a finger…no, not the middle finger. Troy’s just pointing at the door. Johnny nods awkwardly and exits. 

Lindsay Troy is mid-sigh-of-relief when Nova pokes his head back in the doorway, grinning broadly.

Nova: “Time-travel”…get a grip!

He ducks back out, leaving Troy still slack-jawed behind her desk.

TAG TEAM SURVIVOR

Nick Stuart: At Culture Shock we started with three tribes and twelve total teams, but after weeks of challenges only three teams remain.

Richard Parker: And despite all of the eliminations we’ve had to date, each of the three original tribes is still represented by a team here tonight.

Nick Stuart: It’s true. Fighting For Nora represents the V.I.A.G.R.A. tribe, while King Blueberry and his mannequin are the last members of DUI.

Richard Parker: You know I heard that tribe was almost fined. Something about trying to rebrand the initials to do with underwear.

Nick Stuart: And rounding out the competition, the team of Garbage Bag Johnny and Nova carries the flag of the Crudely Civilized tribe. If you had to make a prediction, Richard, which team do you think comes out of tonight the winner?

Richard Parker: You and I, because we never have to call this stuff again after tonight.

The camera makes a sweeping shot over the challenge arena. It’s weird, you guys.

Nick Stuart: We’ve got quite the scene laid out for the last three Survivor teams tonight, Richard.

Richard Parker: Look, after the last show I’m sure that anything else we get is going to be tame by comparison.

Nick Stuart: Hard to argue with that. Fans, normally this is where we’d show you a recap of what happened during the maze challenge of ReVival 9, but…

Richard Parker: Our lawyers have advised us against it, on the count that the images it contains may scar some of our younger viewers.

The pool at the MGM Grand has undergone some renovations recently. A series of buoys has been deployed, each of them bearing unique weapons. The first contains two pairs of oversized boxing gloves, the second holds two pairs of padded nunchucks, and the third has two pairs of pugil sticks – one red and one blue.

Around the perimeter of the water, three turrets have been installed. At the base of each turret is a big ‘ol bucket of tennis balls. These turrets are each manned by some particularly colorful individuals, so let’s introduce them, shall we?

The first is probably called Laser, but like not the one that Cancer Jiles references once every full moon. A totally different Laser. This Laser has a physique carved from marble and a smile that screams, “I dare you to try and punch this look off my face.” He’s the type who’ll try to hit on your girlfriend in front of you, all while he makes his pecs dance. Rest assured that every bathroom in the Chateau de Laser (his name for it, not ours) has a bidet, because his arms are too jacked to wipe properly. Fuck Laser. I hope his balls fall off and need to be fished out of the pool with a skimmer.

The second is equally buff, but without the omnipresent “big Chad energy.” His name is Blazer, we think, which has nothing to do with fires, or fire-adjacent references, and everything to do with the stylish blue sport coat he wears over his MGM-branded singlet. The ascot and pocket square are a nice touch, though perhaps a bit overkill for the occasion.

Then there’s the third, whose name is Glazer, because he looks like a man who has fried and consumed enough frosted donuts in his lifetime to feed a starving, underdeveloped nation. He’s a walking UN humanitarian crisis, that guy. He does not have a branded singlet. His ensemble is much more bohemian, like someone handed him a tank top and Sharpie and hoped for the best.

Oh, and the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers – Charlene, Misty, Noelle, Carl, Janelle, Cinnamon, and Biff for the folks keeping track at home – are each swimming around the pool dressed as the individual tentacles of a giant, derpy kraken, because hey why the fuck not.

It’s like if an asshole watched too much American Gladiators as a child, and decided to mash up popular games Joust and Assault into one Frankenstein’s monster of late-80s competition shows.

Umm.

Hi.

Nick Stuart: Presiding over the final Survivor event is the MGM Grand’s Special Liaison to PRIME, Melvin Beauregard!

Indeed he is. He’s taken up the perch in the lifeguard’s chair, complete with tiny orange shorts and a frosted layer of sunblock on his face. Have you ever seen a Halloween pumpkin that’s been left out long enough to collect the first snow? If the answer to that question is yes, then you know what Melvin looks like.

DOOOOOOOOOOOOOT

Also he has an air horn.

Richard Parker: Jesus. Can we get someone to check the levels on his mic?

Nick Stuart: That sound means that the final contest of Survivor is underway!

Richard Parker: That sound means I’m deaf in my left ear.

All five human participants take their first tenuous step onto their logs. An improvised flotation device is engaged around the feet of El Hijo del Super Cool Guy as he is gently placed atop his own log.

Richard Parker: Is that legal? That can’t be legal.

Nick Stuart: If you can find me a set of rules for these events, I’d be happy to read them.

Richard Parker: Now is not the time for salient points, Nick.

Yeah, Nick. We’ve got nonsense to create.

Nick Stuart: Nova showing incredible balance right out of the gate as he works to stay afloat. He’s got tremendous control over the log.

Richard Parker: I want you to take a minute to think about the last thing you just said. It doesn’t have to be now. It doesn’t even have to be tonight. But soon, you should take some quiet time and give that one a chance to meditate.

Nova’s deft footwork not only keeps him on the log, but sends him in the direction of the first weapons buoy in search of a pair of padded nunchucks. He’s about ¾ of the way there when Laser trains his sights on the Risen Star and opens fire with his tennis ball cannon.

Because Laser thinks the elderly should be set adrift on chunks of ice, clearly.

Nick Stuart: Nova having to contend with those tennis ball turrets early on, but it looks like the buoy is going to give him some cover.

Nova manages to roll his log behind the buoy, where he unclasps a pair of nunchucks.

In the water beneath him a shape appears. In the commotion it’s difficult to make out the shape as anything more than a shadow, though there are strong humanoid and bovine elements to it. It also has four horns, though it’s likely that two of them are actually snorkels. Can never have enough snorkels. The only clear aspect of its form is the SCUBA tank strapped to its back.

Richard Parker: Alright, who taught the minotaur how to swim?

The shadow sinks towards the bottom of the pool and out of sight.

Meanwhile, the hail of tennis balls from a trigger-happy Laser continues, but now armed with a means of defense Nova is ready. He spins the weapon in his hands, his body a blur as ball after ball is deflected away. It’s as if someone blended eight Bruce Lees together, then boiled down the resulting slurry into one super-concentrated Bruce Lee.

Richard Parker: What is any of this?

Nick Stuart: Fans, if you’re just tuning in…

Richard Parker: We promise there is actual wrestling on this show, and you should stick around.

Nick Stuart: Yes, but…

Richard Parker: We here at PRIME cannot be held liable for any trauma you may experience as a result of watching Survivor.

Nick Stuart: Sure, but that’s…

Richard Parker: Also if you or your loved ones have any information about the identity of a goddamn minotaur, please keep that to yourself.

Glazer lines up a shot from his assault cannon, and wow is that a weird thing to say in the context of a wrestling show. Anyway, he clicks his trigger and sends a ball careening directly at Paxton Ray. In one fluid motion, Paxton catches the ball, manages to hold his balance, and then hurls it directly at King Blueberry.

Thwok!

That’s the sound a hollow tennis ball makes when it strikes the hollow head of King Blueberry.

Nick Stuart: And we’ve got our first team conflict starting to unfold.

Richard Parker: Throw the next one harder, Paxton!

Nick Stuart: King Blueberry looking very wobbly on that log. I don’t think he was expecting that blindside shot.

Richard Parker: Would it really be from the blindside if he saw it coming, though?

Nick Stuart: Good point, Richard.

Enter an auburn-haired woman from off-camera, carrying a phone in one hand a Chipotle-branded delivery bag in the other.

Richard Parker: Is that… Roxy Phoenix?

Yes.

Nick Stuart: I can’t say for sure, but there is a striking similarity.

No, I just told you. It’s her.

Our intrepid announce duo may never know the identity of this woman (it’s Roxy Phoenix; we covered this), but what we do know for sure is that after handing Melvin his delivery bag she begins giving out small cards to everyone she passes by. The URL printed upon each one will direct more than a few bystanders to an OnlyFans page.

Melvin dips a hand into the bag and retrieves his burrito bowl, and then a scowl spreads across his face as he’s hit with a dawning realization.

Melvin Beauregard: MY CHIPOTLE DIDN’T COME WITH A FUCKING FORK!!!!

What follows is our heroic lifeguard and master of ceremonies attempting to drink the contents of his bowl. Which is the polite way of saying he throws his head back, and starts dumping burrito bits – not to be confused with fajita fragments; those are something entirely different – into how gaping maw.

Richard Parker: Remember earlier when I said this couldn’t possibly be as disturbing as last week?

Like a python choking down a whole chicken, Melvin all but unhinges his jaw and gulps down his Tex-Mex. Very little chewing is involved.

Nick Stuart: Yes.

Richard Parker: I would like to rescind that statement.

The internet is forever, Richard. It remembers. The internet knows all.

Glazer fires a tennis ball from his assault cannon. The shot zips past the ear of Paxton Ray, who has to quickly adjust so as to not catch the shot full-on in the face. He wobbles on his log, but doesn’t teeter over.

The tennis ball, by the way, hits Super Cool Guy square in the crotch, and rebounds off towards the crowd.

Nick Stuart: Luckily for the rest of our competitors that shot didn’t hit any of them.

And unluckily for Melvin Beauregard, the tennis ball caroms in his direction with enough force that when it hits his hand the burrito bowl he’s holding explodes.

Richard Parker: If there was a just and loving god in this universe, that shot would have hit King Blueberry. We don’t need any more of that guy running around. One is already too many!

It’s only a few seconds later that the son of Super Cool Guy is hit with a second shot, this one from a pugil stick wielded by Garbage Bag Johnny. Like a homeless Barry Bonds, his swing is hard enough to both send the mannequin’s head skyward, and cause the rest of its body to topple into the pool. It floats for a moment before water starts rushing down the now-gaping hole in its neck and begins sinking.

Nick Stuart: El Hijo del Super Cool Guy has been eliminated!

Richard Parker: With any luck we will never see it again.

Nick Stuart: There’s still a chance that King Blueberry wins this for his team, and then the mannequin could get a title shot at the Great American Nightmare, Richard.

Richard Parker: No. We’ll never see it again. I’m willing this to happen, Nick. I need this.

One of the tentacles – probably Biff; he’s not very intelligent, and given he is a member of the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers that is saying something – tries to flail himself at Johnny, but is subsequently pummeled with the pugil stick until he gives up his attack and simply floats away.

Unfortunately, the distraction is enough that Jonathan Rhine is able to roll his log close enough to Johnny and shove him into the water. Johnny bobs back to the surface, and starts casually backstroking away.

Nick Stuart: And now we’ve got our first human elimination, as Jonathan Rhine sends Garbage Bag Johnny into the water. Fighting For Nora now the only team remaining with two members still on their feet.

Richard Parker: I like how you had to qualify that as a “human” elimination.

As Blazer unloads a volley of tennis balls at the competitors, a new figure strides into view carrying a fishing rod and tackle box. Fans of the eGG Bandits will immediately recognize him as Zeb Martin.

Nick Stuart: True to the way that Survivor has unfolded this year, it wouldn’t be an event without a cameo.

Richard Parker: Which is a totally different video service that what Roxy uses.

Nick Stuart: How do you know that?

Richard Parker: Umm… uhh… YEAH SO ANYWAY…

Zeb rolls up his pant legs so that they’re cuffed just below the knee, and takes a seat on the edge of the pool. Then, he casts a line.

Richard Parker: Does he know this is a swimming pool?

Nick Stuart: I hope so.

Richard Parker: And that he’s not going to catch anything here? Because it’s a swimming pool.

The line hooks itself around one of Jimmy Bonafide Dancers, and Zeb starts the arduous process of reeling that person – it’s Cinnamon, by the way – towards the side of the pool.

Richard Parker: I take it back. He just caught a yellowtail dumbass.

The barrage of tennis balls aimed at Paxton Ray clearly has the brawler rattled. He catches another, and angrily casts it aside, almost clipping his own partner with the shot. For his part, Paxton doesn’t seem bothered by this at all.

Nick Stuart: I’m not sure Rhine and Ray are on the same page right now.

Richard Parker: Well at least Paxton’s aim is bad. He almost caught his own partner right in the Rhineberries.

The dark shape of the scuba minotaur (scubataur?) appears below the surface of the water again, this time breaking the surface as a dark hand reaches up to grab at Nova’s ankles. Though he doesn’t see this, he still manages to narrowly avoid being caught, as his balance and footwork move him in the direction of King Blueberry.

The Blueberry appears slightly distraught as he watches the body of Super Cool Guy bob feet-first towards the surface thanks to the floats attached to him. The King’s log rotates (tee-hee) just in time to see Nova – still spinning those ‘chucks like a whole-ass Jet Li movie – surfing in his direction.

Richard Parker: I’ve got a feeling one of these guys is about to take a dick in the pool.

Nick Stuart: You… what?

Richard Parker: Dip. I said dip. D-I-P. One of these guys is about to take a dip in the pool.

Nick Stuart: Right.

Richard Parker: Don’t blame me for your own impure thoughts.

Two members of the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers Swimmers creep up on the sides of King Blueberry and flail their tentacles at him. Of course, because they’re uncoordinated cretins, they miss him and whack each other. Honestly, it’s a miracle they haven’t drowned yet. Still, Blueberry has to adjust to avoid the blow, and his momentum shift sends him into Nova. Despite taking a half-dozen padded nunchuck shots to the face, King Blueberry manages to knock the former Universal Champion off balance and into the water.

Nick Stuart: And now Nova has been eliminated! This leaves just King Blueberry up against both members of Fighting For Nora!

That would be the two men who have already realized their advantage, and have started to close the gap. It’s Rhine who closes the distance first, and the remaining members of the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers Swimmers encircle the group.

Nick Stuart: Jonathan Rhine and King Blueberry both trying to shove the other off their log!

Richard Parker: But the odds aren’t good, because there’s still Paxton Ray to worry about.

There is one final buoy that hasn’t yet had its weapons pilfered, and it’s the one that Paxton Ray is currently next to. He unhooks a comically oversized boxing glove.

Nick Stuart: Paxton looking to introduce some plunder of his own.

Richard Parker: Well, the man is known for punching, so it makes sense.

He launches the glove like a goddamn missile.

Richard Parker: Nevermind.

It collides with King Blueberry, catching him low, just above the knee. Blueberry buckles, stumbles forward, and loses his balance on the log.

There are three splashes. First the glove hits the water, then King Blueberry, and his momentum sends him tumbling into Jonathan Rhine who falls as well.

DOOOOOOOOT DOOOOOOT DOO-DOO-DOOOOOOOOOT!

That’s the sound an air horn makes when its owner is all too excited to smash the button. Behind a face coated in sunblock and burrito bits, Melvin Beauregard beams a smile.

Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray is the last man on his feet, which means that Fighting For Nora has won the inaugural Survivor event, and will move on to choose their opponent for the tag team championship at Great American Nightmare!

COMMERCIAL: CLASSIC WRESTLING

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CLASSICMANIA IS LOOMING! DON’T MISS A MINUTE OF THE ACTION AT http://classic-wrestling.com

RAIDERS OF THE LOST BELT

“Nah, no match tonight. I’ll probably hit The Strip after, though. I heard a rumor that GREAT BEAR would be spinning records at Omnia tonight…”

Opening up backstage, the rookie sensation Hayes Hanlon strolls down a hallway, cell phone to his ear and Five Star Title hanging over his shoulder.

Hayes Hanlon: …honestly I don’t know if it’s a dude in a bear suit or not, it’s really hard to tell. Those Beats by Dre headphones are pretty sweet, though.

He pushes open a door on his left, leading us into his locker room. He pushes the belt off his shoulder, laying it over the top of a steel chair before walking into an attached bathroom, closing the door behind him.

Panning over to the locker room’s entrance, a set of black-tipped fingers wrap around the door jamb, followed by a crazed pair of eyes peeking inside. 

Rezin: (Whispering) Ahh, perfect… the ever-reliable post-interview bowel movement!

The Goat Bastard, Rezin, carefully tip-toes his blackened boots inside, listening carefully to the muffled sounds of Hayes from the bathroom

Rezin: Easy now…

His foot clipping the edge of a waste bin causes him to flail around cartoonishly, hopping from toe to toe back and forth, arms whipping overhead like a wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man at a used car dealership.

Rezin: Oh, BOG SAGET–!!

He slaps a crusted hand across his mouth to shush himself, bloodshot eyes wide open, listening to see if the jig was, indeed, up.

The muffled words from Hayes in the bathroom continue unimpeded. 

The jig is, not quite, up.

Pupils darting left and right, Rezin continues sneaking into the room, growling under his breath.

Rezin: Where is that damb belt…

In what takes entirely too much time, the Goat Bastard finally spots the shining belt, draped over the chair in painfully obvious fashion.

Rezin: Therrrrrrr you are…

He reaches behind him, retrieving a white t-shirt from his waistband. He crouches down, eyes shooting from the bathroom door and back to the belt, blackened fingers carefully bringing the shirt closer to the belt, like Indiana Jones swapping the sandbag in place of the golden idol. 

Rezin: Caaaarefuullll….

In a swift motion, Rezin snags the belt, replacing it with the shirt, the anarchy “R” symbol facing out proudly. He twinkle-toes his way back out the door, clutching the belt to his chest before clumsily shutting the door behind him. 

Shortly after, Hayes emerges from the bathroom, phone still to his ear.

Hayes Hanlon: …tell me about it, Barry and Trent make me feel things…wait, WHAT THE HELL??

Hayes nearly drops his phone upon seeing his belt missing. He frantically whirls around the locker room, searching for his coveted strap.

Hayes Hanlon: Gotta go, I’ll call you back!

He shoves his phone in his back pocket, distraught as he pushes both hands through his dark hair.

Hayes Hanlon: You have to be freaking KIDDING me! Who the hell would have DONE this…oh, yeah. That makes sense.

He spots the anarchy “R” shirt lying over the chair’s backrest, and the black bootprints leading into and out of the room make it hilariously clear who the culprit is. 

Hayes Hanlon: Son of a

The Five Star Stud rushes out of the door, slamming it behind him.

PLAYING WITH HOUSE MONEY

We cut backstage. Angelica Brooks has a microphone in hand as she stands next to FLAMBERGE in his ring gear.

Angelica Brooks: Ladies and gentlemen, FLAMBERGE! FLAMBERGE, tonight we see you take on Cancer Jiles in your first ever PRIME main event. This is only your fourth professional match – for many wrestlers, it takes YEARS to headline a show. How are your nerves?

FLAMBO’s outer lip curls upward for a fraction of a second before returning to his normal stoicism.

FLAMBERGE: I am playing with the house’s money, no? There has been much of the foregone conclusion this match. All I will say is, for the fans of PRIME who have been paying attention? You will not be surprised by what happens tonight.

Angelica Brooks: Last time you and I spoke, it seemed like your…marketing manager? Sponsor? Your designated “talking head”, Mr. Darby, seemed like he had a lot to say before your interjection. How are things with you two right now?

FLAMBO rolls his eyes.

FLAMBERGE: I can’t deny the revenue he generates, but let me make this clear…he does not speak for me. Not then, not now, not ever.

Angelica Brooks: And your father, Henri Lavigne…he’s been on this journey with you your whole life, but based on what we saw recently-

FLAMBO holds a hand up to Angelica – not aggressively, but certainly with purpose. He takes a breath before leaning into the microphone.

FLAMBERGE: Dad, I know you’re watching right now. You’re watching and hoping for me to fail tonight. You’re waiting for some vindication, some proof that you were right all along about some imaginary goalposts you’ve set for me that have changed more times than I can count. I want you to look into my eyes right now.

FLAMBO’s gaze is unblinking and piercing as he locks eyes with the camera.

FLAMBERGE: Everything I achieve in PRIME is not BECAUSE of you, it is in SPITE of you. And when I take over the main event scene of PRIME in earnest, when I win my first championship gold? You’re going to be sitting there, rotting on some disgusting old chair somewhere, wishing you could celebrate with your son. You’ll be running through a sleeve of Oreos, pissed at me for another supposed “slight” as I earn the recognition you think belongs to YOU. And I will be here…in PRIME, fighting the best wrestlers on the planet, and so very glad to have you out of my sight.

Angelica’s eyes have been growing wide, but she composes herself as FLAMBERGE finishes speaking.

Angelica Brooks: Strong words from one half of tonight’s main event! Let’s go back to ringside!

FLAMBERGE leans into the camera one last time, warmth in his eyes for maybe the first time ever.

FLAMBERGE: Love you, mom!

LARRY TACT VS. THE ANGLO LUCHADOR

The arena darkens. The first dabs of the organ intro to “Oye Como Va” by Santana fill the arena as purple and green lights strobe while the telltale mask of the Anglo Luchador rotate on the PRIMEview behind. Smoke begins to waft across the entryway as the instrumental beginning of the song swells into its big climax. Right before the lyrics sound, The Anglo Luchador appears from the back, looking out at the crowd. He exhales and bows his head before he takes his final strides toward the ring.

Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first, from Philadelphia, PA! Weighing in at 211 pounds…he is THE ANGLO LUCHADOR!

Nick Stuart: TAL and Larry Tact are not only two wily veterans of the squared circle, Rich, but they’re no strangers to each other. One upon a time they battled it out in the famed Empire Pro Wrestling, and if they can recreate that battle here tonight, then we’ll be in for a treat.

Richard Parker: Yeah but that’s going to require this idiot to focus on his opponent and not speak in tongues like he’s been doing on Jabber for two weeks, or start thinking ahead to his showdown with Ria Nightshade, which may or may not be for the Intense Championship.

“Pieces of Man” by Drown plays cues up next. Royal blue lights flicker on the stage while golden spotlights scan the crowd. They settle on center stage where Larry Tact stands. He opens his arms and puffs out his chest, soaking in the crowd’s reaction before bellowing and making his way down the ramp, the spotlight following him. 

Vince Howard: And his opponent, from Manhattan, NY! Weighing in at 260 pounds…he is LARRY TACT!

As he walks, Larry critiques some fans at ringside with petty insults before arriving to the ring, glaring at his opposition. He pulls himself up using the ropes and walks slowly along the apron before wiping his boots and entering the ring. He stretches using the ropes before bouncing from side-to-side.

Referee Timo Bolamba excitedly rings the bell, and the bout begins with TAL and Larry Tact staring each other down! The PRIMEates hoot and holler as the tension builds between the two long-time rivals, kicking off another chapter of their rivalry!

Nick Stuart: This one’s going to be a scorcher, for sure!

The two adversaries start jawjacking at each other, before Larry Tact unloads with a hard right that knocks TAL silly and reeling towards the ropes. Tact hounds TAL, following up with a forearm to the mush, before whipping TAL into the ropes, and knocking him down with a clothesline on the rebound! Tact taunts the crowd, before pulling TAL back up and headbutting him back onto the ropes, and grabbing him in position to lay him out on the mat with a thunderous vertical suplex making him almost BOUNCE on impact!

Nick Stuart: Tact taking it to TAL early, looking to make a statement.

Richard Parker: As he should. Larry may not have the most impressive record here but he’s been getting better and better every single week, if I do say so myself. And if he were to, I don’t know, punt that old Luchador’s head off his neck, I for one wouldn’t be the least bit upset about it.

The boost from the mat actually helps the Old Luchador in getting back on his feet and in fighting condition, and he is able to telegraph Tact’s incoming clothesline and duck it, and catch him on the turnaround with a monkey flip! Tact manages to get back to his feet, only to be caught in a headlock that takes him up and over TAL, and the luchador manages to hold on and keep Tact on the mat! The crowd oohs and aahs at the deft display of technique and ring savvy, as he wrenches Larry Tact’s head, making the bigger man stamp his feet in pain.

TAL digs deep within himself and tries to do another long twist, but Tact manages to get his hands up on TAL’s face, and after a bit of feeling around, manages to get a handhold… in the form of a finger poking TAL’s eye, making him yelp in pain as he lets go of the hold and covers his eye! Timo Bolamba rushes to Tact and gives him a stern warning about rulebreaking, which Tact just shrugs off and laughs.

Nick Stuart: Senior official Timo Bolamba’s not about to let Larry Tact get away with any fast ones here tonight.

Richard Parker: I don’t know what Bolamba’s talking about, I didn’t see Larry do anything.

Nick Stuart: What are you talking about, Larry clearly poked TAL in the eye right there!

Richard Parker: I think you’re hallucinating. Are you sure you didn’t get into whatever stash that idiot Rezin hooked TAL up with this past week?

Nick Stuart: I can’t believe you sometimes…

As Tact chuckles to the crowd, TAL starts pulling himself up by the ropes, visibly frustrated but undaunted. Tact saunters over to his longtime rival, and lands a punch to TAL’s face, once again drawing flack from Timo, before following up with a kneelift to the gut, and taking TAL up and over with a gutwrench suplex that leaves TAL reeling, and the crowd booing even harder!

Tact confidently gets back to his feet, and plants some boots onto TALs back as he tries to get back up, before hooking his arms around TAL’s waist and dropping him down with ANOTHER gutwrench! Tact chuckles and drops an elbow, before leaning in as Timo Bolamba counts.

ONE!

TAL manages to kickout, but Tact is still on him, dragging him to his feet before whipping him into the ropes and driving him into the mat with a booming spinebuster! TAL is clearly struggling, holding his head in his hands as he writhes on the mat, as Larry Tact arrogantly towers over him. Beckoning for the luchador to rise up, Tact grins as TAL slowly rallies up, and swings right into Tact’s face, dazing him enough for TAL to grapple with him and try to pick him up. However, before TAL can really try to get a lift going, Tact manages to hook TAL’s legs and sweep him to the ground, mounting him and rolling him onto the mat, getting TAL’s arm in a rough “chicken-wing” position with his legs, and locking the wrist for a painful-looking jiu-jitsu classic.

TAL is clearly not having a good run of things, as he grits his teeth and tries to contain his pain. The crowd tries to rally for the luchador.

“T-A-L!”
“T-A-L!”
“T-A-L!”

It doesn’t seem to do much though, as any attempt to leverage himself out of the hold is met by Tact simply bearing down and keeping his adversary locked in place.

Nick Stuart: TAL is in a world of hurt right now, he’s got to try and get to the ropes and force a break here.

Richard Parker: Yeah, before Larry ends up breaking his arm, which he just might do!

Tact yells out in frustration as he tries to tighten up the lock on the Old Luchador’s arm, but TAL screams even louder; not in pain, but in determination and grit, as he manages to hyperextend his free arm and reach out for the ropes! Timo Bolamba forces a break of the omoplata, which Tact doesn’t give until Timo’s count reaches four. As Tact gets back onto his feet, TAL pushes himself back up, almost deliriously, favoring his shoulder. Tact reaches TAL, and gets a grip on him, but TAL manages to beg him off with an elbow to the ribs, followed by letting loose a salvo of fists to his face, to Timo Bolamba’s chagrin, as he admonishes The Anglo Luchador. TAL ignores it, as he rushes in with a HARD chop to Tact’s chest, followed by a hand on Tact’s head, driving him face first into the nearby turnbuckle! His second wind coming, TAL rallies the crowd up, as he tangles Tact up and whips him HARD into the opposite corner! Tact reels from the impact, as TAL starts pumping his fist, before RUSHING where Tact is, with a CRUSHING back elbow! The adrenaline overriding his pain, TAL hooks Larry Tact in and rolls him onto the mat with a small package!

ONE!

TWO!

Tact manages to kick out, but TAL is a step ahead of him. Tact manages to get onto his hands and knees, but falls prey to TAL’s mat wrestling skills, as he manages to hook Tact’s arms and roll him with a La Magistral cradle!

ONE!

TWO!

Tact kicks out again! TAL is a house of fire, and lines up his next attack as Tact gets back to his feet, lunging in and hooking Tact’s arms! After a dramatic pause, TAL drives with his feet to send Larry Tact crashing into the mat via a butterfly suplex. TAL takes a deep breath, before stomping down on the downed Tact, first onto his chest, then onto his arm, before grabbing Tact’s arm by the wrist and SLAMMING it to the mat with a hard snap. Tact manages to get back up to his knees, just in time to eat an enzuigiri by The Anglo Luchador, who makes a cover and makes sure to grind his elbow into Tact’s face as Timo drops in to make the count.

ONE!

TWO!

Tact manages to pop a shoulder up, visibly agitating TAL, to the point where he is starting to look at ringside absentmindedly before Tact lands a double axe handle onto his back, sending TAL stumbling to the ropes, where he is whipped across the ring. Tact goes for a Big Boot, which TAL avoids, and eats a leaping enzuigiri that sends him back to the mat! Without any delay, TAL rolls Tact face-down on the mat, and grapevines his legs onto Tact’s, before reaching over and pounding on the arm TAL was softening up, grabbing both wrists, and pulling Tact up into the classic Romero Special! Tact yelps in pain, as his muscles are stretched out by both the convoluted lucha submission TAL has on him, as well as good old gravity. TAL pushes on, his body starting to give from all the exertion in this battle.

Nick Stuart: Some quick and close pinfall attempts there; Larry Tact showing his grit and determination with those kick outs, and now he’s the one who’s caught in a submission attempt!

Richard Parker: Come on Larry, fight out of it now!

Timo asks Larry Tact if he gives up, and Tact responds by shaking his head and yelling “NO!” Before long, though, the strain of gravity and exertion forces TAL to relent, rolling over and releasing Tact from the Romero Special. With a shake of his head and a signal to the crowd, TAL looks over to the stumbling Tact, and leverages himself under his legs, in what appears to be an attempt at the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex!

The attempt is short-lived however, as Tact simply manages to hop onto his feet, sending his weight crashing down on TAL’s neck and upper back, before adding the pressure courtesy of the Tactilizer!

TAL struggles with the pain and agony, gripping at his mask and tensing up, as Tact leans into the hold, putting more pressure on TAL’s back! After a long struggle, and a mighty yelp, TAL manages to slip free of the hold, and pull himself under the bottom rope and onto the floor!

Tact can only look down at ringside and shake his head at TAL, as he slowly pulls himself up by the apron, and onto his feet. Using the edge of the ring as support, TAL eyes an unoccupied folding chair by the timekeeper, and trudges towards it. Larry nonchalantly steps out of the ring, towards TAL, who is now armed with the chair.

Richard Parker: Now THAT’S what I’m talking about, Nick! The Anglo Luchador is coming to his senses, tossing out the rulebook, and he’s gonna get NASTY if it means getting the duke here tonight!

The Anglo Luchador, with a gust of adrenaline, rushes towards Larry and swings the chair…

WHACK!

…only to hit the steel ringpost and clearly hurt his hands, while Timo calls out from inside the ring not to use foreign objects! Seeing an opportunity, Tact grabs TAL by the mask and rams his head into the ringpost, before hoisting him up onto his shoulders…

…and driving TAL into the mat with a nasty powerslam! The crowd vociferously boos Tact as he casually grabs TAL by the mask and throws him back into the ring, following suit and leaning in for a cover.

ONE!

TWO!

TAL just barely manages to kick out, but he is definitely worse for wear.

Sensing the end, Tact points at the fallen Anglo Luchador, while gesturing for the jeering crowd. He reaches down, grabbing TAL by his mask back up to his feet, before stuffing TAL’s head between his knees and signaling for the Starbreaker! Tact lifts TAL up, but before he can finish TAL perches himself on Tact’s shoulders and starts laying a salvo of fists onto his face as the crowd goes wild!

Seeing his opportunity to close the match fading fast, Tact looks for an easy out… and takes it, as Tact falls back-first to the mat, pulling TAL down with him, right onto Timo Bolamba!

Nick Stuart: Down goes head official Timo Bolamba, and it seems like that was a deliberate move on the part of Larry Tact!

Richard Parker: I don’t know how you can say that, Nick. Officials need to know where they are at all times. Timo should have gotten out of the way!

Bolamba and TAL collide head-first into each other, and Bolamba is knocked back hard into the turnbuckle, before faceplanting onto the mat! TAL is reeling, struggling to roll himself out of harm’s way, while Larry Tact is slowly, but surely, getting back to his feet.

Seeing TAL writhing on the mat and Timo laying motionless, Tact grins and steps out of the ring, digging under the apron to see what he can use for that “extra” dose of damage.

The crowd boos as Tact gleefully pulls out what appears to be a classic 2×4… wrapped in barbed wire. He slithers back into the ring, just as TAL is getting back into one knee, and lines up his swing to finish off his masked nemesis. TAL struggles, but manages to get back to his feet, and starts towards Tact, who swings his deadly new toy…

Richard Parker: Oh my Hoyt, what an idiot!

Nick Stuart: TAL might not feel that right now, but he sure will when that rush wears off!

…but TAL manages to catch it! Wincing in pain as the barbed wire digs into one of his hands, TAL nevertheless gets a good grip on the naked part of the plank, and give Tact a good old-fashioned Sparta kick to the midsection, deflecting the New Yorker back-first to the ropes, just as Timo starts to stir and picks his head up.

The camera focuses on TAL, panic in his eyes as he stares at the barbed-wire 2×4, before looking at Larry Tact and letting out a scream before swinging!

CRACK!

Larry Tact drops to the mat like a sack of bricks, after taking it right on the head! Just before Timo is able to open his eyes, TAL tosses the 2×4 out of the ring and onto the arena floor, out of sight and out of mind! As TAL makes the cover and calls out to Timo, blood can already be seen leaking from Tact’s forehead, as Timo crawls on his belly towards the pin and slowly counts!

ONE!

TWO!

THREEEEEEEEEEE!

DING DING DING

Vince Howard: The winner of this match…THE ANGLO LUCHADOR!

Richard Parker: Cheater! Scammer! This was highway robbery!

Nick Stuart: You were praising TAL for using a chair not even five minutes ago!

Richard Parker: That was outside the ring where anything goes, and he wasn’t using it to win the match! Larry Tact was robbed!

Nick Stuart: I can’t with you sometimes…

TAL rolls off Tact’s body, staring at the ceiling and raising his arm, as Timo slowly starts to climb back up to his feet, making sure to grab TAL’s wrist to officially declare him the victor. Tact starts to come-to and roll out of the ring, while a triumphant TAL looks at the camera with a slightly unsettling grin.

Richard Parker: If I’m Larry, I’m not going to let TAL get away with this. Not by a long shot.

Nick Stuart: We’ve got to take a commercial break but don’t go away folks, we’ve still got a lot more ReVival still to come!

COMMERCIAL: WARMCOLD

AVAILABLE IN STORES NOW!

YOU THINK THIS IS ABOUT COFFEE?

Back from commercial, we cut backstage to one of the many fine drinking establishments within the MGM Grand…but not the bars, oh no. We’re at one of the places serving the finest beverage known to mankind…coffee. Most notably, we see two fine connoisseurs of said beverage stepping into view to pick up their very own brews…Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz, the Masters of the Multiverse.

Well, the B-Team, anyway.

Just as the pair get ready to enjoy their finely-crafted drinks, they are interrupted by the only man in the world brave enough to venture into this corner of the venue to get the hottest scoops, Matt Mills.

Matt Mills: Hello PRIMEates, I’m here with the B-Team of the Masters of the Multiverse to talk about their upcoming match at Great American Nightmare against…

Matt is cut off by a frustrated Randall Schwartz, who literally shushes the reporter with a finger to his mouth before finally speaking up himself.

Randall Schwartz: Respectfully, Mr. Mills, I need you to not do…whatever this is, right now. Kenny and I have some very important strategorization to deal with, thank you.

Mills is almost taken aback by this, as Randall and Kenny begin talking over some much-needed strategy for their Great American Nightmare match when they notice a pair walking up to the pickup side of the table…the Dangerous Mix of David Fox and Mushigihara. Randall motions to the other end of the table, before the Masters rise from their seat and approach their future opponents.

David Fox: Man, I can’t wait to get my masala on! Hey, Mushi. What time is it?

The God-Beast who aligns himself with this goofball rolls his eyes, as if he’s been asked that question a thousand times already, before letting out a low growl of annoyance.

Mushigihara: Oooooooosu…

Fox giggles in self-satisfaction.

David Fox: That’s right, big man, it’s chai time. A little treat for a night off, and then we’ll get to work on how we take on those Multiverse weirdos.

The big man simply nods in agreement, as he settles for a simple cup of green tea. Noticing that their targets have been lulled into a false sense of security, Randall grabs the nearest cup of coffee…splashing the drink right into David’s face!

Randall Schwartz: Gotcha!

But instead of looking angry from a burning surprise, David looks mostly annoyed as we notice ice cubes on the floor.

David Fox: …you know using coffee to burn somebody’s face only works if the coffee is hot, right, genius?

Mushi actually chuckles a little at the scene unfolding before him, only for Fox to snap a glance at him as if to say “really, bro?” The God-Beast pipes up, but still has the slightest hint of a grin he just can’t shake. Kenny tries to rush Mushi, who just glares at him…and the so-called influencer quickly thinks twice.

Kenny Freeman: Right, uh…we’ll see you at Great American Nightmare, you fiends!

Randall Schwartz: Yeah!

Kenny Freeman: And uh….Old Shoe to you, too!

With that, the Masters run off, leaving us with a confused Fox and Mushi before we cut away from the mess that’s been left behind here.

David Fox: (as the camera cuts) Where do they get these guys?!

ONE STEP BACK

Backstage we go, specifically to the locker room, where Nathan Filmix and Nate Colton are recovering after their match with the Winds of Change. Their spirits are low after their defeat; Colton sits on a bench with a towel covering his head, while Filmix stands near the lockers, two of which are sporting new dents. They’re still in their ring gear, although Nate Colton is finally unlacing his boots.

They probably don’t want to talk to anyone right now, but maybe someone wants to talk to them. That someone is PRIME’s junior interviewer, Simon Tillier.

Simon Tillier: Hello again, PRIME fans! Simon Tillier here, backstage with Nathan Filmix and Nate Colton, who just suffered a tough defeat at the hands of the Winds of Change.

BANG!

Simon jumps at the sound of Filmix punching another locker. Colton looks up at the intruding announcer and drops his towel to the floor.

Simon Tillier: Gentlemen, how are you feeling after your match?

BANG!

They’re gonna have a hell of a repair bill.

Nate Colton: Not great, Simon. Obviously, we wanted this one real bad. A win meant a chance at being the number one contenders for the belts, and we let that slip through our fingers.

BANG!

Nate Colton: Yeah, we’re not happy.

Simon Tillier: Now it’ll be the Winds of Change moving on to Great American Nightmare to face whoever loses from Survivor. 

Nate scowls at the mention of the team that just defeated him, but he presses on.

Nate Colton: Credit where it’s due; those guys did a hell of a job tonight. Shame we didn’t have a mannequin to help us.

Simon Tillier: So what’s next for your team, then?

Nate Colton: We want to get back in the win column, and as fast as possible. And if I know my man Filmix, he’s gonna want to put his hands on someone, real soon.

At the mention of his name, Filmix turns for the first time, locking eyes with Simon.

Simon Tillier: Do…do you agree with this sentiment, Mister Filmix?

BANG!

Tillier nearly jumps out of his wingtips as Filmix slams his elbow against the locker, then wheels around and walks right up to the announcer, getting entirely too close.

Simon Tillier: You’re invading my personal space a little–

Nathan Filmix: You’re DAMN RIGHT I do. I’m ready to hurt someone, and I don’t care who it is. Could be those musician idiots, or the lover morons, or some pipsqueak little announcer–

Nate Colton: Hey! Kid’s just doing his job, leave him out of it.

Filmix growls at Simon again, but walks back toward the lockers. Tillier breathes a little easier.

Nate Colton: I’m just glad he’s on my side.

Simon Tillier: Understandable. Tonight’s loss also leaves you without a concrete plan for Great American Nightmare.

Nate Colton: That’s true. I just hope Lindsay Troy knows that no matter what her plan is for us at Nightmare, I’m ready and willing to step up the challenge, and I’m sure that goes double for my man Filmix.

BANG! goes the locker again, causing Simon to twitch and Nate to half-smile.

Nate Colton: The kind of mood he’s in, I wouldn’t want to fight him.

Simon Tillier: Thank you, gentlemen. Nick, Richard, back to you!

BANG!

GREAT SCOTT VS. ALEXANDER REDDING

As the fans settled down from a lovely time purchasing popped corn and dogs (hot), the dimming of the arena lighting indicates that we are ready for the next sporting contest of the evening.

Nick Stuart: I’m not even sure what to make of this next bout as a rather downtrodden Alexander Redding looks to get back on the saddle after missing out on 5 Star Gold.

Richard Parker: Alexander Redding will be looking to smash his frustrations all over the face of Great Scott and that stupid bear of his. 

Nick Stuart: I wouldn’t recommend Redding try his luck with a bear, but we’ll see what the night brings us. 

“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 get even louder as GREAT BEAR steps out behind him, rocking out to some EDM on his sweet Beats By Dre headphones.

Nick Stuart: Have we ever had any confirmation of what that belt Great Scott carries is?

Richard Parker: If you want to make sense of his manic ramblings, be my guest. 

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: The crowd in the MGM Grand are firmly behind Great Scott and who could blame them, the man has been a freight train, destroying all in his path so far. Three matches, three wins and against the caliber of talent we have in PRIME, that is impressive.

Richard Parker: I could be undefeated if I could bring a bear to the ring… and a gun… and a mace… 

Richard Parker’s increasingly long list of weapons that would bring him victory in the grappling ring are cut short by the dulcet tones of ring announcer, Vince Howard.

Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall. Introducing first, from the Greater Metro Area of Great Falls, Montana, he weighs in tonight at 276 pounds and is accompanied to the ring by GREAT BEAR… GRRRRRREAT SCOOOOOOOTT!!!!

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.

Richard Parker: Shouldn’t Great Bear be over DJing the Survivor contest? 

Before we ponder too deeply on the nature of time and space, “Love Spreads” by The Stone Roses bellows from the sound system in the MGM-Grand Arena and from the back emerges Alexander Redding.

Nick Stuart: At the conclusion of the 5-Star Title match, Alexander Redding’s skull clashed with the unforgiving steel ring steps. You have to imagine he is in no mood for any shenanigans tonight and will be looking to make short work of Great Scott.

Richard Parker: This company has treated an athlete of Alexander Redding’s prestige disgracefully. Multiple instances of shoddy officiating in two title matches, a vendetta against his long term partner Teddy Palmer and forcing him into a bout with Great Scott while still in recovery from head trauma. Yet here he is, still fighting. I would show him some more respect.

Nick Stuart: As soon as he bothers giving any to the rest of the roster, I’ll consider it.

Redding walks down to the ring, clearly still disgusted by the idea of the match he is about to find himself in. He waves away referee Elvis Nixon as he hops into the ring, not breaking eye contact with Great Scott, who as a good boy, remains respectfully in his own corner. Redding looks out to ringside and sees Great Bear vibing, rolling his eyes at the circus he finds himself part of. Elvis Nixon performs his final checks and signals for the bell.

DING DING

As the match begins, Great Scott stands in place, glaring at Redding with a very angry expression in his face. He knows in his heart that Alexander Redding is not a good man and wishes to express this with his face. Redding seems very unperturbed by the visual scolding, basically laughing in Great Scott’s face. Great Scott does not take kindly to the rudeness and throws a wild haymaker, but Redding slides out of the ring, chuckling to himself. He slowly starts to back away from the ring, as a frustrated Scott, hands on his hips, looks over to Elvis Nixon.

Richard Parker: I know Alexander Redding is trying for mind games with Great Scott in the early goings but I feel like this may be a tactical error, you normally need someone with a brain for that to work.

Nick Stuart: Alexander Redding going into the bag of dirty tricks right away. He’s out here with no Teddy Palmer, no Grady Patrick, he has to do this one on his own and that is a tough task against Great Scott.

Elvis Nixon tries to encourage Redding back into the ring and Redding teases sliding back under the bottom rope but as Great Scott nears him, he rolls back out. Great Scott roars out in frustration as a cheeky little smile creeps upon the face of Redding. Redding wanders around the ringside area, keeping his focus on Great Scott inside of the ring. He seems pretty confident in his actions until he bumps into something. More specifically, he collides into Great Bear and almost knocks Bear’s sweet Beats off. Redding sees Bear turn around and realises that his safest option is to scramble right back into the ring. 

Nick Stuart: In a choice between Great Scott and Great Bear, Alexander Redding has chosen the former.

Richard Parker: IT’S A BEAR. OF COURSE HE’S GOING TO FIGHT THE MAN!

We cut away from Richard Parker slowly having his mind unravel at everything to do with Great Scott and focus back to the ring. Redding confidently walks over to Great Scott and fires a ricocheting chop to Great Scott’s chest. Scott seems unperturbed by the slappitude of the chop, and as Redding invites a response, Great Scott wraps his arms around Redding and drills him into the mat with a belly-to-belly suplex. Scott lets rip a roar of power as the crowd wildly cheers him on. A dazed Redding gets back up fast and is dropped by a second belly-to-belly just as quickly. Operating more on bodily instinct than any tactics, Redding pops up for a third time. Great Scott doesn’t really think he has much need in changing his current game plan and once again wraps his big beefy biceps around Redding but as he pulls Redding in…

Richard Parker: Brilliant!

Nick Stuart: One man’s brilliant is another man’s cheating. Redding lifted up his knee as Great Scott hooked him in and drilled the young man’s down under.

Richard Parker: That is the most unique phrasing for a low blow that I’ve ever heard. 

Elvis Nixon was unable to detect the shot due to the broadness of Great Scott’s body. Scott looks very pained at the cheap shot but isn’t provided recovery time, as Alexander Redding slips behind and rolls him up.

ONE!

Redding hooks the tights.

TWO!

Nick Stuart: Great Scott powers out!

Richard Parker:  I’m not sure if hooking the tights was the smart move here, that’s a lot of spandex to keep hold of.

Great Scott kicks out with enough authority that he sends Redding flying into the ropes and as he turns around on Redding’s return from bounce town, he hoists The Man With The Joker Teeth up and over with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Redding flies high in the air and crashes violently to the ground from the momentum of the exchange as Great Scott roars out once more. Great Bear, sensing the roar, joins in. The wave of roaring makes its way to the MGM Grand crowd, who also roar out in support of Scott.

Richard Parker: The MGM Grand is starting to sound like a dog pound.

Nick Stuart: The intensity and heart of Great Scott has warmed the cold, dead heart of Las Vegas and it’s showing in this contest.

A dazed Redding is back up again and swings left and right, not making contact with anything in particular, as his opponent is standard about a metre away from him at this point. A forceful left sends Redding spinning as he whiffs against the air. Great Scott grabs Redding’s arm and whips him into the corner and Redding collides hard into the turnbuckles. Redding gasps for air as Great Scott places him on the top rope. As the urgency of the situation dawns on Redding, he tries to fight Scott off, trying to push him back down off the ropes. Great Scott manages to stand firm though and lays in a few elbows across the jaw. Satisfied that Redding’s defences are down, Great Scott leaps up into the air…

Nick Stuart: Picture perfect Scottacanrana!

Richard Parker: It’s happening again! How is this happening again?

The crowd shriek in delight as Great Scott delivers his world famous Scottacanrana to Alexander Redding. As Redding crashes into the mat, it’s clear that he is down and out. Great Scott scrambles quickly over Redding and hooks the leg for the pin.

ONE!

TWO!

THREE!

DING DING DING

Vince Howard: Here is your winner, at a time of eight minute, twelve seconds… GRRRREAT SCOOOTT!

An exuberant Scott leaps back up and allows Elvis Nixon to raise his arm high in the sky as Great Bear continues to perform some sweet ass dance moves at ringside. 

Nick Parker: Mortimer Kjedelig, Shawn Warstein, Dusk, Pete Whealdon and Alexander Redding are incredibly talented competitors and yet, when it comes to the force of nature that is Great Scott, no one has yet worked out what to do. 

Richard Parker: At this point, nothing in this era of PRIME should surprise me but a four and oh undefeated record by a man named Great Scott is causing my brain some deep trauma.

Great Scott begins to perform the World Famous Great Scott inside of the ring to celebrate his victory as the cameras fade out.

COMMERCIAL: MVW

Don’t miss MVW, where the very best in minor league wrestling comes to you live from the nation’s heartland! 

UNBALANCED ACCOUNTS

SIRSY.

Cannonball.

Cheers.

HEY HEY!

Nick Stuart: These fans are still buzzing from the Tag Team Survivor announcement, and for the second half of the old one-two punch it looks like we’re about to hear from the number one contender to the PRIME Universal Championship! 

Richard Parker: Honestly, I don’t know why he’s still in the running. The trouble he had with Tapioca Puddings last week, will it take Youngblood more than ten minutes to run him through the ringer? 

Nick Stuart: Need I remind you that Youngblood got past him in the tournament semifinals by the skin of his teeth? 

Richard Parker: Need I remind you that all that matters is who’s hand gets raised? 

Dressed in street clothes, Impulse and Calico Rose walk the aisle hand in hand, occasionally having a kind word for a fan at the railing or posing for a photo or two. The look on the Marathon Man’s face is one of patient impatience – Impulse is known as an athlete who wants to get into the ring and get to work – while Cally eats it up, doing her best to give each fan a memory to take home with them. 

Nick Stuart: It’s strange to think it was five years since Impulse was last working full time for a wrestling company when the Almasy Invitational began, he clearly hadn’t lost a step! And these two have certainly endeared themselves to the PRIMEates in particular and Las Vegas in general, with Impulse doing any promotional work that’s asked of him to put more eyes on the company, and Cally making what I understand is a ton of money for charity work all around the city! 

Richard Parker: Charity? She’s a bartender. Hey honey, where’s my drink? 

Cally’s head turns towards the commentary table as she smiles at the two men, and hops the guardrail! Impulse watches her go with a confused look on his face, but smiles in her direction and shrugs his shoulders while he retrieves a microphone from Vince Howard and enters the ring.

Impulse: We’re two weeks out–

Before he can continue, the fans’ cheers rise again as Cally climbs back over the guardrail. She stops at the commentary table, pops the top on the tall boy Sam Adams she’d carried back from a vendor, and placed it in front of a slack – jawed Richard.

Calico Rose: Tip ya bartenders, luv!

As she reenters the ring, Nick and Richard stare at the can for a few seconds, until Richard simply shrugs and takes a long swig, to a roar of approval from the people. In the ring, Impulse stares Cally down, on the verge of laughter. “Are you done?” he asks her off microphone, smiling and shaking his head. She shrugs, they hug, and he lifts the microphone once again.

Impulse: Two weeks out from the most significant rematch in the PRIME revival’s short history so far. Two weeks away from the Great American Nightmare, where, one way or another, my nightmare comes to an end. 

He paces the ring while Cally leans back into a corner. 

Impulse: When I signed my name to a PRIME contract, I’ll be honest, I thought it would be a short term thing. Few months in and out, help an old friend get her business off the ground, and then I could return to my life of semi – privacy away from everything about this business that I can’t stand. 

Pause.

Impulse: And then something happened. PRIME turned into our home. 

The fans cheer, he glances at Cally, she winks at him.

Impulse: The competition feeds what I need. The athletes here are some of the best I’ve ever been around, and before I knew what happened, I not only wanted to be here…

He looks straight into the hard camera.

Impulse: I needed to be here. Until three months ago.

Richard Parker: Do you need a calendar, old friend? Or do you do your counting on your fingers? 

Nick Stuart: Will you stop? 

Impulse: You see, three months ago, practically to the day, I stepped into this ring against the man who would become the PRIME Universal Champion. 

Another pause.

Impulse: And I lost. And that’s all good. Brandon Youngblood–

He stops talking as the fans cheer for the reigning Champion. Impulse nods his approval and encourages the cheer for a few seconds before he puts the microphone back to his face. 

Impulse: Brandon Youngblood was the Champion this company deserved – that this company needed – to push the doors all the way open, and he proved that against Cancer Jiles. Twice. But I can’t help wondering. 

The fans buzz, hanging on his words as the number one contender leans on the top rope, letting the moment build.

Impulse: That night… Brandon Youngblood got his hand raised in a victory he earned. But did he earn it because he was better? Or was he just luckier? 

A small ripple of a boo runs through the crowd at the insinuation.

Impulse: I’m not taking a single thing away from Brandon Youngblood, he’s earned his place in this company’s history and in its present and future. But watch the match. I’ve been in this sport long enough to know when I’ve got an opponent beaten, and the fact of it is, I had Brandon beaten. I was in control… and then my shoulders were down for the three. 

Beat.

Impulse: Was it luck, or was it skill? And the thing that eats away at me is that I don’t know. And I have to know. I don’t like to use the word all that much, but I deserve to know. 

He points out into the crowd.

Impulse: You all deserve to know. And Brandon himself deserves to know. Was he better than me that night, or was Lady Luck just on his side? 

Impulse chuckles to himself quietly.

Impulse: Because… An athlete that’s better than me,  I can look them in the eye, shake the hand, offer congratulations, and get on with my life. If it was just a matter of bad luck for just long enough to score a three? I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to let that go. 

Cally steps forward and takes Impulse’s free hand. He glances at her and gives a squeeze. 

Impulse: I like and respect Brandon Youngblood, and I support him as the PRIME Universal Champion. But.

Pause.

Impulse: I have to know.

Ask for an answer, and ye shall receive.

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

Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH. The mood changes, an intensity pervading the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The number one contender and his emotional and spiritual second, locked hand in hand, turn their attention toward the entrance ramp, the arena lights an assault of bright reds and whites. Within moments, the herald to his arrival is joined by PRIME’s ACE, The Tower of Babel, the Hall of Famer and Universal Champion; Brandon Youngblood. Dressed in grappling shorts and a ‘BEAT CANCER’ shirt, he powers from behind the curtain, his Championship belt slung over his shoulder, the strap cradled in hand as he strides to the ring. 

Nick Stuart: The ever focused Youngblood is wasting little time here. We’ve known Impulse would be fighting the Universal Championship since Culture Shock, but who he’d face was a question.

Richard Parker: Impulse’s been able to rest on his laurels.

Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador isn’t a pushover. And, even though most thought Tapioca Puddings would be a simple tune up, that isn’t the case. Just ask Dusk…

Richard Parker: I’d rather ask Hank…but you know…there’s a small barrier there… 

Nick Stuart: Would it be Brandon Youngblood or Cancer Jiles? The Almasy Invitational Finalists. And after an intense war at Culture Shock, Brandon finally won the most coveted prize in the sport after years of near misses. But there was no time to rest, barely any time to recover, before having to face off against Jiles one more time with all the chips down. 

Richard Parker: First blood.

Nick Stuart: Youngblood battered and brutalized Jiles. Even with the odds stacked against him, with a balky knee, with a stipulation that he could lose everything in a flash of crimson, here he stands…an already battle hardened Diamond having passed his first major test. But Impulse presents perhaps his greatest challenge; a skilled wrestler with a renowned focus. One that rivals his own.

Brandon quickly climbs the stairs, stepping through the ropes, his eyes focused on the couple. While there isn’t malice or distrust in his eyes, there is a hint of annoyance, of discomfort. After staring the two down momentarily, he makes his way to the near corner, climbing to the second turnbuckle before pumping the Universal Championship into the air. The fans roar in approval, doing so when he hits each following corner. As he does this, Richard takes a swig of his tallboy, smacking his lips. 

Richard Parker: Damn is this refreshing and cold.

Nick Stuart: What stands between these two isn’t animus. It’s a pride. We saw earlier tonight how close the matchup between these two was in the Semi-Finals of the Almasy. And Youngblood has made it known what his thoughts are. There’s a question hanging over the most prized trophy in all of combat sports, and the only two people who can answer it are in a PRIME ring.

Stepping off the last corner, Youngblood turns to once again face Impulse and Cally. Even without hatreds to fuel the fire, what remains is just as personal. Perhaps even greater so. The Last Diamond is expressionless as he draws closer and closer to the Marathon Man, and his glower is met in kind, Calico Rose lingering a few steps behind. And then…the two nod to each other. Impulse puts the microphone into the chest of Youngblood, mouthing the words ‘Looking forward to the answer, Champ.’ A little salt lingers at the end of his sentence. Brandon takes the microphone, his music fading, the energy of the crowd still bubbling over as the pair remain mere inches from each other, eyes locked in a game of chicken.

Brandon Youngblood: I called the road to Great American Nightmare ‘The Unfinished Business Tour’. Something snappy. Statement of purpose. And as much as people wanted to make it all about Cancer Jiles…

There is a distinct shift, a heavy smattering of boos at the mention of the eGG Bandit.

Brandon Youngblood: Truth is…it was about you. It was always about you, Randall. I have my answers in every match since coming back to PRIME. Every single one of them. Clear. Clean. Decisive. When I proclaim this The Diamond Age, it needs weight. Credibility. And I have that. Save one night. Save one opponent.

He jabs his finger, pointing to the Marathon Man. The space between them makes it impossible that they won’t touch, his finger stabbing not too forcefully into his chest, leaving an uncomfortable decision to be made in how to answer. If he didn’t, he’d be giving dominion to the Tower of Babel, but if he did, where would it escalate? For two men steeped in the craft of wrestling, there didn’t need to be horse heads or cryochambers or scattershot promos; all that needed to be there was a question of skill. Cally did the answering for them, her hand pushing Youngblood’s away. She tries to play it off as coltish; it does nothing to cool the simmering tensions.

Brandon Youngblood: You. You, Impulse. It’s why, two weeks ago, I stood in this ring and asked if I was truly Universal Champion. Because you’re right…you had control. You had me beat. And since PRIME’s revival, everything you have…everything you are is by your hand…even the fact I hold this.

He smacks his palm against the faceplate of the Universal Championship.

Brandon Youngblood: Five more minutes can change everything. Can make it so you sleep better at night. Can make you a true champion. I looked past Jiles…to you. Because I knew…at the Great American Nightmare…we’d be in that ring one more time. We’d be in that ring one more time…and when we are done…you won’t be the one in control. will be. 

Impulse: Based on our track record, sir… if you’re in control?

And the number one contender points at the title belt. 

Impulse: Then that’s coming home with me, and we’ll have to do this all over again.

He allows a smile to cross his face.

Impulse: But I wouldn’t worry about it, Champ. Something tells me this one is for keeps. Only thing I’ll guarantee about the Great American Nightmare, Brandon? You walk out with that title?

He pauses.

Impulse: You’ll definitely have earned it.

Impulse extends a hand toward Brandon Youngblood, never breaking eye contact.

Brandon Youngblood: It’s gonna be physical. Real physical. A war of attrition. We both feel it in our bones. We both know, to win, to beat the other…we’re going to have to take a piece of them. Smother them. Take the control. In the end…our loved one’s are gonna be concerned about what happens. How bad we’ll get hurt. How far we will take the limit within the confines of sport. I know you’re ready…Randall.

He breaks his stare, looking down to Calico Rose.

Brandon Youngblood: Are you? 

He takes the number one contender’s hand and shakes it, sternly, looking back to him. The message is clear. The focused intensity of the Last Diamond fills Cally with a gnawing discomfort, her grip on the Marathon Man’s hand tightening. She’s not worried about her safety; it’s Randall she worries about.

No matter what, everyone will get their answers on July 1st.

PHIL ATKEN VS. PETE WHEALDON

At the commentary table, Richard guzzles down the last of his beer.

Richard Parker: (belches) …what? It’s not like I’m just gonna let it go to waste!

Nick Stuart: If you’re finished… let’s move on to our penultimate matchup for tonight! It’s a crossing of paths between two tried and tested veterans of the ring, when “Magnum” Pete Whealdon will go toe to toe with Phil Atken of the Glue Factory!

Richard Parker: Well Pete Whealdon may not be any spring chicken, but maybe it’s too soon for a new line of “Magnum Glue”? I bet there’s still plenty of mileage left in the guy!

Nick Stuart: That may be the case, Phil Atken is looking to continue his steadily building momentum leading up to his inevitable showdown with the PRIME veteran, Dusk! Whealdon, for his part, is looking to bounce back after being handed an upset at the last show by GREAT SCOTT! So without further adieu, let’s take it to Vince Howard standing by in the ring!

Fade to the ring, where we see the ring announcer smiling warmly to the camera.

Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall! 

“(I Want to be The One) To Watch You Die” by The Megas begins to boom all over the sound system, heralding the arrival of The Proprietor of The Glue Factory himself, Philip Martin Atken. The veteran athlete steps out and heads directly to the centre of the entrance way, not paying much mind to the reaction of the crowd at the MGM Grand. Atken is quickly joined at his side by his Chief of Security, the seven foot monster known as Hank. The tandem begin their march towards to the ring with clear purpose and clarity of mind.

Vince Howard: Introducing first, accompanied to the ring by HANK… he hails all the way from Glasgow, Scotland, and weighs in at two-hundred and twenty-five pounds… the HUMBLE PROPRIETOR of the GLUE FACTORY… PHIIIIIIIIILLL AAAAAATKEEENNN!!!

Upon reaching the ring, Atken leaps up on top of the apron and the camera catches him gives a small little self satisfied smirk to himself as he wipes his boots on the edge of the canvas. Chief of Security Hank holds open the ring ropes and allows his boss to enter the ring. Hank takes his place in the corner of the ring as Atken gladly welcome the referee to check him for any contraband items.

Angular guitars and a brick head of a kick drum begin to strobe as Joe Talbot starts ranting about creatine and a bag of Charlie Sheen. The Thumping Bass line of “Never Fight a Man with a Perm” brings Pete Whealdon out from behind the curtain. Hair done up slick, wearing aviator sunglasses, he has his hands in the pockets of his Members only Jacket. He strides down towards the ring, Green kick-padded Boots slamming confidently into the ground.

“Never fight a man with a perm!”

Vince Howard: And the opponent, from Los Angeles, California, and weighing in at two-hundred and twenty-seven pounds… “MAGNUM”… PETE… WHEEEAAALDOOON!!!

Whealdon slides under the bottom rope as the song starts breaking down into tremelo’d chaos. He moves to his corner and starts removing his excess gear, revealing green floral print tights.

Nick Stuart: Based on the tale of the tape, both of these competitors are almost the same in terms of height and weight, but there’s at least twenty years separating them! 

Official Ashley Barlow makes her final checks and gives the cue to the timekeeper to begin the match.

DING DING

Both competitors are slow to come out of their corners, casually approaching each other until Atken and Whealdon are face to face. Words are exchanged. Whealdon smirks, turns away… and NEARLY takes Atken’s head off when he suddenly comes twirling around!

Nick Stuart: WHOA! Pete Whealdon thought he could end this early by taking the Humble Proprietor’s head clean off his shoulders with a HAYMAKER out of nowhere, but Atken DODGES and puts that arm into an armbar!

Richard Parker: This crafty old goat is still sharp enough to show the kids in this place what for! Age ain’t nothin’ but a number, baby!

Nick Stuart: …please don’t say that on the air again.

Richard Parker: Sorry, I think that beer they gave me was a Double IPA or somethin’…

Atken mugs to the crowd as he cinches the hold and tries to force Whealdon onto a knee, but Pete instead slips free and goes behind with a rear waistlock. Whealdon attempts to take him down, but Phil beats him to the punch by bending over, hooking the leg, and sweeping him to the mat.

Off the reversal, Atken goes for the Figure Four, but Pete puts a boot right into his posterior and kicks him away! The Humble Proprietor rebalances and turns around into a running elbow from Whealdon that knocks him to the mat! As Atken pushes himself to his feet, Pete returns to the rear waistlock, this time succeeds in following through with the German Suplex, bridging into a pin! 

ONE!

TWO!

NO!

Atken rolls his way out of the pin, and catches Whealdon with a Jawbreaker to counter! Whealdon clutches his mouth as he staggers back but doesn’t go down. Rubbing the soreness out of his jaw, he comes charging back with renewed anger, but runs right into a drop toe hold by the waiting Atken. Phil pounces on him, slapping on a side headlock.

Nick Stuart: The action has been back and forth thus far, but Phil Atken is looking to lock things down as he works the head of Pete Whealdon!

Richard Parker: That’s some sound logic on the part of Phil Atken, slowing down the pace of this match! When you’ve lived enough years, you learn that there’s no reason to rush things, and sometimes it pays to take your time!

Nick Stuart: Are you sure it’s not just because it’s easier for you to pay attention when things aren’t moving quite so fast?

Richard Parker: Hey now! I’m in no condition to be operating heavy equipment right now…

Atken wrenches on Whealdon’s head for several moments, trying to slowly grind him to his knees. Whealdon doesn’t make it easy, staying on his feet while pushing and bulling the adhesive aficionado around in a circle. The struggle takes him into the ropes, where Pete finally pushes him off.

Whealdon gets loose, and Phil Atken goes into motion. Pete goes after him. Atken, off the ropes, runs straight into BRICK WALL by way of a charging headbutt by Pete Whealdon!

Richard Parker: So much for taking things at a nice, leisurely pace…

Nick Stuart: Here comes Whealdon to press his advantage–NO, ATKEN with the SMALL PACKAGE!

ONE!

TWO!

KICKOUT!

Whealdon scrambles to his feet first and soccer kicks Atken in the sternum to keep him down, before further punishing him with aggressive stomps to the limbs. Atken rolls his way to the ropes for some reprieve, but Pete pulls him back off the mat, leads him by the head into a facelock, and lifts…

Nick Stuart: IMPLANT DDT!

ONE!

TWO!

THR–NO!! 

Nick Stuart: Atken gets the shoulder up, but he looks shaken up off of that DDT!

Richard Parker: Bahh, I’ve seen Phil take harder shots of Scotch at the end of the night!

Nick Stuart: That’s it, give me your keys…

Whealdon has Atken by the hair as he hauls the Humble Proprietor back to his feet, peppering the side of his head with elbow strikes until he dumps him into the corner. Pete drapes his arms over the top rope to expose the chest…

CHOP!
CHOP!
CHOP!

Richard Parker: HELP! POLICE! ELDERLY ABUSE!

Nick Stuart: Looks like those knife-edge chops are hitting a LOT harder than Scotch, Rich!

Atken’s face is in agony, and he comes to just in time to see Pete running straight at him, and decades of accumulated muscle memory snap into action as he dives to the side, and Pete Whealdon’s dropkick hits nothing but the turnbuckle pads! Atken capitalizes with a HARD kick to the head!

Atken’s agony is now smug confidence as he peels Whealdon off the mat and prepares him for the piledriver… but then Whealdon hooks him by the knees and jacknife rolls the Proprietor’s shoulders to the mat!

ONE!

TWO!

THR–KICKOUT!

They break apart. Atken tries to stay on him, but gets met with a sharp kick to the face. He reels into the ropes, taking a bounce to gain some speed, but then Whealdon suddenly springs up and ROCKS him with a high roundhouse kick that finds its mark on the side of his head!

Nick Stuart: OH MY! Whealdon is nearly DECAPITATED! Phil Atken with ON BEING A BASTARD!

Richard Parker: Oh man… have the tables really been turned on Phil Atken? 

Nick Stuart: That would be an ironic twist of fate.

Richard Parker: Ironic? More like tragic! I don’t know if I’m ready to live in a world where a thing like “karma” may actually exist, Nick!

Atken wobbles on rubber legs, looking like he may fall over at any moment. A sadistic glint fills Pete’s eye as he goes into the spinning motion for the CHEERS, PRICKS!

But Atken DUCKS, and ends up behind him!

Nick Stuart: Phil Atken HAS HIM IN THE SHOTGUN!

Pete fights it. He pivots to throw Atken off. He rams himself back-first into a corner to sandwich him against the turnbuckles… but there’s no dice. The cagey Proprietor clinches in on the rear naked choke.

Nick Stuart: Whealdon can’t get him off!

Richard Parker: You could say he’s stuck to him… like GLUE?

Nick Stuart: If Phil takes him to the mat, this will be over!

Whealdon’s eyes begin to flutter. Phil kicks at the knee to cause it to buckle, and finally manages to take him to the mat, belly-up and turning blue. Barlow doesn’t think twice; she flags down the timekeeper and calls it.

DING DING DING

“(I Want to be the One) To Watch You Die” hits the PA. Atken keeps the held locked in for several more seconds until Ashley finally pries him off. Rolling Whealdon off of him, the Humble Proprietor of the Glue Factory rises off the mat with a smug grin on his face and his arms raised in triumph.

Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, here is your winner, by submission… PHIIIIIIIIILLL AAAAAATKEEENNNNNN!!!

Nick Stuart: What a competitive battle we just witnessed, but ever crafty Phil Atken pulled through in the end

Richard Parker: I told you, Nick: age ain’t nothing but a number!

Nick Stuart: In the context of wrestling, that might be true, but PLEASE stop saying that! In any case, Pete Whealdon definitely showed he’s not someone who can easily be manhandled. But all Phil Atken needs is one good opportunity to put away even the best in the industry!

Atken reunites with Hank outside the ring as Barlow checks on Whealdon, still gasping for air.

COMMERCIAL: HIGH OCTANE WRESTLING

REFUELED 100 AIRS THIS SUNDAY LIVE ON HOTv!

DOUBLE DAWG DARE YA

We Came as Romans.

“Black Hole.”

The PRIME*View bursts to life, taking us on the space voyage toward a looming black hole that heralds the arrival of the Five Star Champion. It’s loud. It hits hard. The Garden is rumbling and soaking in the spectacle.

The Event Horizon, however, is not.

Nick Stuart: Ooooh boy. Wade and Dam better get ready in the back. The Five Star Champion is on his way to the ring, and he is NOT happy.

Richard Parker: You need to have the strap to be a champ, Nick. Stupid, rookie mistake from this kid.

The usual fanfare and showmanship from the young Hanlon is absent as he marches to the ring, microphone in hand, but as our friend Richard Parker made clear, the Five Star Title nowhere to be found. 

Nick Stuart: The rookie has enjoyed a strong start to his short PRIME career, and at ReVival 9 he proved himself worthy of holding the title of Five Star Champion. But clearly, Rezin doesn’t share the same sentiment.

Richard Parker: I’ll admit, it’s a low blow to swipe another man’s belt. But if Hayes wants to be the big dog around here, he’s going to have to pull his head out of his ass and put it on a swivel.

The Event Horizon has stepped into the ring, rolling up the sleeves of his black button-down before making the motion to kill his music.

Hayes Hanlon: Well, the circus show keeps on rollin’, doesn’t it?

Hayes settles himself, wiping a palm down his upper lip-holstery. 

Hayes Hanlon: At least one of the clowns keeps rollin’, anyway. You all know who I’m talking about.

The Five Star Stud takes a lap, the crowd booing their support.

Hayes Hanlon: There were five of us in that ring at Culture Shock for the Five Star Title, and when I beat ALL of them, all YOU could do was pitch a fit like a squirming, dirty little child.

A pause, and a crack of the neck.

Hayes Hanlon: And still, for what seems like no good reason, the boss decided you had “earned” another shot. But not just any shot! No, you got yourself a shot at Great. American. Nightmare.

Hayes Hanlon: Great American Nightmare. Where Sonny Silver took the big strap from Lindsay Troy. Great American Nightmare. Where Chandler Tsonda took out Bryan Dawkins, Devin Shakur, Xavier Kannon, AND Tyler…

FUCKIN’!!!”

Hayes Hanlon: …Rayne to win The Roulette! But man, I don’t expect you to recognize any of those names, ‘cause that just ain’t your style, is it? It’s not, because you’re not a wrestler, man.

Hayes allows the Garden to rumble before returning the mic to his lips.

Hayes Hanlon: Because you’re the kinda guy that has no respect for this sport. You’re the kinda guy that has no respect for PRIME’s history. For its champions! You’re kinda guy that would spit in the face of every last one the PRIMEates that show up every night, and that ain’t it, baby!

The crowd rolls, a steady stream of boos for the man in question, and a wave of cheers for the Five Star Champ.

Hayes Hanlon: And you’re the kinda guy that would rather steal the strap from the dude who earned it. Rather than square up with him. Like a man. And I’ll be real with ya, dude…

Richard Parker: Careful, kid. Getting a little big for your britches.

Hayes Hanlon: …you don’t deserve another shot. But buddy, I’m HERE, and WHOEVER wants to step inside the ropes with me? Buddy I’M DOWN. But if you’re here to play games, then why don’t we cut. The. Shit. Why wait until Great American Nightmare?

A pop from the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and a rise of heavy cheers.

Hayes Hanlon: …so, REZIN!??

The rookie holds the mic in the air, allowing it to absorb all the arena’s support.

Hayes Hanlon: Why don’t we give you your shot RIGHT. NOW.

Nick Stuart: And there it is! The Event Horizon calls out The Escape Artist!

Richard Parker: About time this kid showed some guts.

Hayes drops the microphone to the mat, turning his attention to the top of the entrance ramp, further adjusting the cuffs of his shirt in preparation, the bellowing crowd lifting the rafters.

…until a voice comes growling out through the PA system.

“HHHAAAAAAAYYYEEESSSSSS…”

Nick Stuart: What in the…?

“HHHAAAAAAAYYYEEESSSSSS!!”

Hayes looks around, searching for the source of the gravelly voice.

“OVER HERE… HAAAYYYESSS HAAAN-LAAAWNNN!!”

Finally, the camera spies a waving figure way up in the seats. A spotlight hits that area, and SMASH ZOOM to “the Escape Artist” Rezin hiding out among the fans, mic in his hand, shit-eating grin on his face, and Five Star Championship brazenly draped over his shoulder.

Rezin: I’ll come clean with ya, Haaayyyes…

He casually begins descending the steps

Rezin: When I snagged this belt off ya, I had half a mind to just scalp it on the black market for a hefty price, and skip all that Great American Nightmare malarkey. But what you just said has got me thinkin’ now…

Continuing his descent, he points to the man in the ring and snarls voraciously.

Rezin: That’d be TOO EASY for the likes of YOU, Haaayyyes Haaanlooonnn…

Rezin comes down the last few steps and reaches the ground level. The crowd milling around the floor-level seats part as he steadily advances toward the barricade. As he walks, he removes the belt from his shoulder and admires its gilded luster.

Rezin: Sure, it would suit my needs just fine, along with the added bonus of pissing off the fans, the front office, and so many others who take material things like this wayyy too seriously! But really, where’s the fun in that? 

He reaches the barricade, and clears it without too much trouble. Then he slowly, methodically ascends the steel steps to the apron, eyes never leaving the Event Horizon glaring back at him from within the ring.

Rezin: This is VEGAS, baby! And now that I think about it, I realize that I am just the right amount of CRAZY to risk  EVERYTHING I GOT if it means being the one to turn PRIME’s Five Star Stud into a Five Star STAIN on the canvas!

Despite Hanlon staring daggers at him, Rezin steps through the ropes to enter the ring. 

Rezin: Stealin’ a belt? Nahh, that ain’t any way to earn my stripes! If I’m gonna take this belt, I want to do it in the way that will make it clear to everyone that YOU – LOST – IT!

He holds up the Five Star Championship and gives a brief lookover… then, his chilling stare finds the Event Horizon once more.

Rezin: …but since I LIKE ya so much, HAAAYYESS HAAN-LAAWN… I’m gonna let you savor the feeling of being a SOME-BODY SPECIAL, for as long as you can! So for now, YOU can just HAVE IT BACK!

Rezin lobs the belt back to Hanlon.

It’s a high pitch. Hayes catches it before it hits him in the face…

Unfortunately, it finds its mark anyway, thanks to the force of Rezin’s HEEL behind it.

Nick Stuart: CLOVEN HOOF KICK!!

BOOOOOOOOO!!!

Hayes goes down, the Five Star Championship falling to his side. Seething, rasping, and practically foaming at the mouth, Rezin aggressively paces around the ring, hovering around the prone body of the stunned Five Star Champion and pointing down to him.

Rezin: (Breathing heavily into the mic) IIIIII’LL TELL YOU WHAT–TELL YOU WHAT… HHHAAAYYYEEEZZZ HAAANNN-LAAAAAANNN!!! TODAY is YOUR LUCKY DAY, and you WANNA KNOW WHY?! You WANNA KNOW WHY?! It’s cuz THIS OL’ DOPESMOKER is GIVIN’ YOU an OUT!!

The Goat Bastard flops onto his belly at the head of Hayes Hanlon, his maniacal stare looking him right in the face. The Event Horizon is slowly coming to from the effects of having a championship belt kicked into his head.

Rezin: As soon as you pick your ass up off that mat, HAAAYYYEZ HAAAN-LAAAWN, you march RIGHT INTO the OFFICE of LINDSAY TROY, and DEMAND a DIFFERENT OPPONENT to FIGHT at GREAT AMERICAN NIGHTMARE! DEMAND IT… as your RIGHT as CHAMPION! TELL HER you want SOMEONE ACTUALLY “wOrThY” of being the CHALLENGER to the prestigious, the honorary, the esteemed, the epitome of bleached-butthole FIVE STAR CHAMPIONSHIP! 

He springs up onto a knee and wrathfully shakes his fist toward the empty heavens.

Rezin: Ask for ANNA DANIELS! Ask for BALAAM! Ask for JULIAN BATHORY! Ask for THE ANGLO LUCHADOR! Ask for PHIL ATKEN! Ask for the GUY WHO YELLS ALL THE TIME! Ask for ANYBODY — AAANYYYBOOODYYY other than this WRETCHED, ROTTEN, and REVOLTIN’ SUM’BISH! Cause at least there’s GRACE in gettin’ your ASS WHIPPED by any of THEM! But gettin’ it from ME?! THAT is a HUMILIATION you will NEVER RECOVER FROM! So DO IT!! DO IT, HAAAYYYEZ HAAAN-LAAAWN!! I DOUBLE-DAWG-DARE YA!!

To raucous jeering from the fans, Rezin rises back to his feet and spits onto the canvas. His focus is on them now.

Rezin: HALF a YEAR I BLED in THIS RING for the ENJOYMENT of YOU SCUM, and YOU ONLY SAW ME as a PUNCHLINE!! But I am GAWD-DAMB thhHHROUGH! WASTING MY TIME in a place that REFUSES to SEE ME for the WARRIOR – EYE – AMB!!

BOOOOOOOOO!!!

Rezin looks down on Hanlon again. Hayes is rubbing his jaw and pushing himself up to his knees.

Rezin: …and I ain’t gonna pretend like I have any interest in bein’ the Five Star Champion of a cesspool of yuppie scum like PRIME… if it means having to lift it off some pampered-ass poster boy who ain’t got the capacity to look at me as anything more than another notch on his belt…

Hayes raises his head, just in time to see Rezin again kneeling in front of him, snarling face inches away from his own.

Rezin: Do yourself this one favor, Haaayes Haaanlonnn… save yourself from the disgrace of being the guy who dropped the belt to friggin’ REZIN, of all people. Otherwise, I will become the blight on your career that will never go away. Trust me, kiddo… I SMOKE BLACK HOLES for BREAKFAST!

The Event Horizon BURSTS off the canvas to a ROAR from the PRIMEates…

…and the Escape Artist rolls back over the top rope and dips out of the ring, to a disappointed groan from the crowd.

Nick Stuart: And that’s why they call him the “Escape Artist,” folks.

Rezin climbs the ramp, scowling at the crowd as they rain their hostility upon him. He keeps his back turned to the ring. That is, until the mic comes back to life.

Hayes Hanlon: REZIN!!!!

The Goat Bastard stops, looking over his shoulder to see the dazed Five Star Champ, leaning over the ropes for support with the microphone to his mouth.

Hayes Hanlon: I DON’T WANT ANYONE ON THAT LIST!!!

Hayes seethes through his teeth, breathing heavily through his nose, much to Rezin’s twisted delight.

Hayes Hanlon: AT GREAT AMERICAN NIGHTMARE, I JUST WANT YOU!!!

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

Nick Stuart: And The Five Star Champ has made it clear!!! It’s Rezin he wants for the Five Star Title defense, and it’s Rezin he’ll get!!

Black Hole” hits the speakers once more, followed by an unimpressed sneer from the Goat Bastard. Hayes grips the top rope with both hands, the two sharing a fiery staredown before we fade elsewhere.

THE SHOGUN’S CHILDREN

Nick Stuart: Well, that was surely something between the two competitors in the Five Star Championship match, wasn’t it? But I’ve got word senior reporter Angelica Brooks has caught up with The Anglo Luchador. Let’s throw it backstage.

The camera cuts to backstage in front of the locker rooms, Brooks standing with a sweaty Luchador breathing heavily, not involuntarily but by choice it seems.

Angelica Brooks: That was quite the match you had with Larry Tact out there, but I hear…

TAL: Forget Tact, just forget him. Ria Nightshade, I’m talking to you right now.

Angelica Brooks: That’s what I was going to say. I hear you have picked out a stipulation for if you win the Intense Championship match voting?

TAL: Oh yeah, I do, and actually, I propose this match happens the way I’m proposing regardless of whether or not we get the match or that turds-for-brains GREAT SCOTT gets his shot at the Impulse Championship or whatever. Turns out that just like real politics, this whole campaign was a sham anyway, because now, the time has come to shed blood, Ria. That’s right, you wanted blood? You got it.

Angelica Brooks: So that means you have a stipulation in mind?

TAL: Angie, yes, I do. Long ago, in lands far off to the East, men and women competed with their bodies on the line, spilling blood, sweating buckets, crying their eyes out in defeat and victory. The place was called Bloody Japan Grappling Arts. The main tournament was called Shogun Warfare. BJGA is long dead and gone, and the Shogun is dead and buried. But his children are alive and well.

Angelica Brooks: I don’t understand, what is your angle here?

TAL: Let me cook, Angie, please. I am telling you that his children are alive and well and in PRIME. I am the Son of the Shogun. I bring his weaponry with me, and I will place it around the ring at Great American Nightmare right here in Las Vegas. You, Ria Nightshade, you are his daughter, whether you know it or not. You want to fight me? You want to make me bleed? You want a shot at taking me down? I’m going to give you that shot. I may even give you the first one for free. But you’re going to find out that for all your rage, whether righteous or not, all your desire? The things that you want most desperately in the world may be impossible to attain.

The old luchador grabs the microphone from Brooks who stumbles back in shock.

TAL: The Shogun’s Progeny Match may seem on the outside to be normal. You can win by pinfall, submission, knockout, or referee’s discretion. No disqualifications or countouts. However, everything around the ring will be wrapped in barbed wire. The Shogun loved barbed wire, and his entire tournament was festooned in it. A celebration of lacerated skin and demoralized spirits. That’s what you want, right, Ria? To make me bleed? To crush me? You have your chance. The ropes will be wrapped in barbed wire. The steel chairs. The tables. The kendo sticks. The baseball bats, oh yes, the baseball bats will be wrapped in barbed wire. You wanted this, and I don’t blame you. I would want to strangle me in barbed wire too. But you’re going to find out the hard way. The world doesn’t always reward those who’ve been wronged. I’m going mummify you in barbed wire and make you wish you never tried to pick a fight with me in the first place.

The self-proclaimed Son of the Shogun walked off, throwing the mic to Brooks before disappearing stage right.

Angelica Brooks: Well, that was intense. Anyway, let’s pay some bills and then Jiles, FLAMBO, main event time.

COMMERCIAL: SANCTIONED VIOLENCE ORGANIZATION

There’s no place hotter for wrestling action than right here in Las Vegas! Check out sVo’s Sunday Night Showdown at svolasvegas.com

CANCER JILES VS. FLAMBERGE

Nick Stuart: It’s finally time for our main event of the evening! Interesting dichotomy here, the FLAMBO vs the COOLympian. 

Richard Parker: I hate Cancer Jiles. I hate Cancer Jiles. I hate Cancer Jiles. I can’t wait to laugh at that scumbag and tell him he lost to his face. 

Nick Stuart: Would you really Richard? 

Richard Parker: Well… you know… 

And then, the lights fade.

I AM dangerous
Dangerous
Dangerous
Dangerous

And across the PRIMEview?

FLAMBERGE

The arena lights come back to life, and out comes the anointed French wrestling prodigy, FLAMBERGE. He saunters from the back with a cool casualness, loudly chomping on a wad of gum, “Dangereux” by IAM blaring as the fans boo…but only a little? More than a healthy portion of the fans in the MGM Grand Garden Arena are cheering, maybe because of FLAMBERGE trying to take control of his own destiny, maybe because of the fact that he’s facing the number one villain in all of PRIME. Regardless, his powerwalk carries with it a weird charisma, a calm indifference, and as he takes his lap around the ring, he pays no heed to his surroundings. Rolling into the ring, he takes the center of the ring, his head bobbing the entire time.

Vince Howard: Introducing first, from Strasbourgis, France, standing six foot and weighing in at two hundred six pounds…He is…FLAAAAAAAAAMBERGE!

Chomping on his gum, he gives acknowledgment to Howard before bouncing on the balls of his feet. And as he waits for the arrival of the COOLYMPIAN, he makes his way to the far corner, turning his back to the entrance, the camera now tight on FLAMBERGE, his elbows resting on the top turnbuckle, eyes glowering as he stares at the fans at home, ready for the biggest match of his young career. 

Nick Stuart: Flamberge has been on a roll recently, getting some big wins but this is going to be his biggest test yet. 

Richard Parker: I can’t wait for him to stuff a bunch of chips in Jiles’ throat then choke him half to death. 

The lights slowly draw to a dim.

Then, it’s black.

Then, the birds begin.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Then, the instantly recognizable guitar riff.

Then, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins soothes…

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…

The booing quickly intensifies.

Richard Parker: And God do I hate this stupid fucking song.

….I am the cool

Intense pyros scorch the MGM Grand Garden Arena. It’s like they saved all of them for this very moment. Out from the back after receiving the proper beckon steps the Grand Maestro of COOL, Cancer Jiles. He stops at the top of the ramp, smiles widely as yolk drips from his chin, arrogantly points to his ab tattoo, and righteously poses for all to boo.

And they do.

En masse.

Richard Parker: And God do I hate him. I hate that smile, his hair, the fact he’s still breathing, and those corny shades. 

Jiles casually manifests an egg from behind his ear and flips it deep into the audience. Suddenly, a presumably cultist incel wearing a MESSIAH t-shirt can be heard crying amongst all the intense booing.

Tough week.

Nick Stuart: Like him, love him, hate him, want to watch him suffer– you got to give the guy one thing, Rich, when he’s in the main event there isn’t an empty seat in the house.

Richard Parker: I’ll give him this much, he’s Brandon Youngblood’s bitch.

The Maestro gets a few feet from the ring, crouches down, and places an open palm on the floor. He looks up at Flamberge, says something to him about the COOLYMPIAN fault line running underneath of them, and then somehow smiles even wider than before.

Nick Stuart: Earlier in the week Jiles told Flamberge not to worry about the tremors– that they  weren’t from an earthquake but from Jiles’ always endearing ovation. I’m assuming that’s what that was all about.

JIles slithers under the bottom rope and then heads to his corner. Upon noticing Timo Bolamba is the referee for tonight’s matchup, he bends over and asks him if it would be easier to fuck him over if he pulled his pants down. The fans really let the COOLYMPIAN have it for the blatant sign of disrespect. Timo is unappreciative, however keeps his composure and remains professional.

Nick Stuart: Our two men are in the ring, and Timo has called for the bell! 

Richard Parker: CHECK JILES AGAIN TIMO! That little prick has to have something in his sock. 

Flamberge takes up a Muay Thai kick boxing stance, while Jiles stands across the ring from him. Hands on his hips, Terminator shades still on, just staring into the soul of the young frenchmen. Flamberge stalks forward, careful as can be, but Jiles just stands perfectly still. Stoically staring. 

Richard Parker: Hit him! He fell asleep! Hit him! 

Like he was listening to Richards commands Flamberge cocks back and fires off a right hand. 

Nick Stuart: And Jiles dancing away, wishful thinking here Richard. 

Flambo doesn’t take his eyes off the prize as Jiles shifts quickly out of the way. Jiles backs away into the corner, and Flambo tries to follow, coming in with a high kick. Jiles ducks underneath the leg and right back to his original corner. Flamberge shifts his shoulders and turns back around as calmly as ever. 

Nick Stuart: This young man has incredible willpower and self control. He’s not phased by the unpleasantness of Cancer Jiles. 

Richard Parker: I think Jiles is scared of him, Nick!

The two reconvene and Jiles is finally ready to fight. Flamberge lowers his shoulder and rips off a right hand to the body that connects right on the tattooed L in cool. The liver shot leaves Jiles trying to back away but there is nowhere to go besides out of the ring. Timo runs to the ropes to admonish Jiles, who simply shrugs his shoulders and doesn’t care. 

ONE!

Nick Stuart: Looks like Timo Bolamba is looking to keep this contest moving by trying to count out Cancer Jiles. 

TWO!

THREE!

Richard Parker: I told you Nick, he’s running scared. 

FOUR!

FIVE!

Flamberge approached the ropes and yells something at Jiles who just smirks and can be seen mouthing the word ‘crumb’ to his opponent. 

SIX!

SEVEN!

Jiles grabs hold of the middle rope and looks back at the crowd. 

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

EIGHT!

He smiles and hops up on the apron pointing to Flamberge and insisting that Timo move Flamberge away from the ropes. 

Nick Stuart: Jiles looks to be entering the ring again soon. 

Richard Parker: He’s not in the ring yet! Keep counting Timo! 

Timo goes to back Flamberge off the ropes, and as he’s between the two men Jiles lets rip an open right hand that catches Flamberge across the face. Flamberge is irate and starts pushing against Timo trying to get to Jiles, but Jiles just drops off the apron and keeps grinning like the Cheshire cat. 

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Richard Parker: I really hate this guy Nick, I mean I normally like all of them. Hoyt, Bathory, all the bad guys. But this guy. 

Nick Stuart: Rubs you the wrong way? I totally understand Richard. 

Finally Flamberge backs away from the ropes and Timo goes back to counting Cancer Jiles. But with an entirely new count. 

ONE!

Nick Stuart: The count was broken. 

Richard Parker: You have to be kidding me Richard. HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME. 

TWO!

THREE!

Jiles taunts Flamberge trying to get him to come to the outside of the ring, but Flamberge walks back into the far corner and sits down on the bottom turnbuckle. He never removes his eyes from Jiles. 

FOUR!

FIVE!

Nick Stuart: Flamberge looks absolutely irate right now.

Richard Parker: Have you ever seen anger ripple under a man’s skin? 

SIX!

SEVEN!

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Garbage and trash begin to fly from the upper deck of the MGM Grand as Jiles grabs the middle rope and takes a deep breath. 

EIGHT!

Finally Jiles steps up onto the apron, he looks at Flamberge who is ready to pounce sitting on the bottom turnbuckle. He points Timo in Flamberge’s direction but Timo chooses this time not to budge. 

NINE!

The ascender of Mt. COOLympus steps through the ropes just in time, and Flamberge is on him faster than a fat guy is in the buffet line at Golden Corral. A right uppercut to the stomach and a knee to the still downed head of Jiles sends him reeling against the ropes. Flamberge unloads with two more right hooks to the body that stagger Jiles into the corner. Flamberge has no mercy, following Jiles into the corner with a running forearm. 

Nick Stuart: What a flurry of offensive from Flamberge! 

Richard Parker: Where’s Henri? He needs to be telling the kid not to tire himself out. 

Jiles goes into a shell with his hands around his face and Flamberge drives a left knee into Jiles’ body that crumples him. Flamberge follows the knee up with a left hand that slumps The Almasy invitational finalist in the corner. He follows up quickly with a series of kicks and stomps to Jiles’ chest. 

Richard Parker: He’s going to turn Jiles into mush! 

Nick Stuart: And Timo Bolamba is forced to come to the aid of Cancer Jiles. 

Richard Parker: Why?! 

Nick Stuart: Because you can’t churn Cancer Jiles’ insides into butter while he’s in the corner RIchard. 

Timo gets between the two men and has to forcefully move Flamberge away from Cancer Jiles. The King of COOL pulls himself up slowly in the corner, and starts checking his lip for his own blood. Timo finally gets out of the way of Flamberge and the young man is relentless and right back in Jiles’ face. Jiles looks to stomp the toes of Flamberge, but Flamberge manages to maneuver through and smash Jiles across the face with a right roundhouse kick. Jiles wobbly steps out of the corner, takes two steps and falls right on his own face. Flamberge is quick to flip him over and hook his leg for a cover. 

Richard Parker: I don’t know if this is going to be enough but what a kick! 

Nick Stuart: Absolutely took the legs right out from under Cancer Jiles. 

ONE!

TWO!

KICKOUT!

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Richard Parker: Ask Youngblood kid, you have to absolutely massacre this cockroach. But we’re off to a good start. 

Nick Stuart: The fans really aren’t happy that Jiles kicked out there. 

Flamberge grabs Jiles by his hair and pulls the COOLYMPIAN to his feet. He wraps his arms around Jiles’ waist going for a belly to belly suplex. Jiles flails, but Flamberge won’t be denied and manages to get Jiles up and over, sending him slamming to the mat. Jiles instantly grabs his back and tries to get to his feet, but Flamberge comes roaring in with a knee that smashes Jiles in the back of the head. 

Nick Stuart: Jiles is down again! Flamberge with the cover! 

ONE!

TWO!

….

KICKOUT!

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Richard Parker: WHY WON’T HE DIE! 

Nick Stuart: He wasn’t a finalist in The Almasy Invitational for nothing Richard, he’s taken our Universal Champion to his limit twice, and Flamberge is absolutely having his way with Cancer Jiles in there. He just needs to take it the rest of the way. 

Flamberge pulls Jiles up to his feet again by his hair. Flamberge backs himself up and comes off the ropes with an attempted spinning roundhouse kick. The wobbly Jiles manages to stick a thumb in Flamberge’s eye, sending the youngster back into the ropes. Cancer Jiles takes the opportunity to drop to the mat and roll out of the ring. Flamberge, holding his eye still tries to come after Jiles swinging a heavy leg at him that barely misses. 

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

ONE!

Jiles stumbles over to the guard rail and leans up against it. He reaches out and takes a fans drink, looks at it, thinks twice, and then just tosses it into the stands. 

TWO!

THREE!

The fans return the garbage to Jiles tenfold, plastic bottles and cups flying onto the COOLYMPIAN who doesn’t notice as he crouches down and holds his face. 

FOUR!

FIVE!

Flamberge is in the ring, rapidly blinking and while standing in the far corner trying to get his bearings. 

SIX!

SEVEN!

Jiles finally stands up to his full posture and waves for Flamberge to come outside the ring. Flamberge waves Jiles off. 

EIGHT!

Jiles finally hops up onto the ring apron, once again he tries pointing to Flamberge but Timo just shakes his head and keeps counting. 

NINE!

Jiles steps through the ropes, this time with his head up watching Flamberge. Flamberge starts across the ring, and Jiles throws himself through the ropes hitting Flamberge with a spear. The move appears to almost hurt Jiles more as Flamberge scrambles quickly to his feet at the shock of being taken down. Jiles isn’t far behind and reaches for one of Flamberge’s legs, but the leg is already firing forward and catches Jiles across the bridge of the nose. Jiles stumbles backwards and Flambo shoots in with a double leg, taking Jiles down to the mat. 

Nick Stuart: What a knee from Flamberge! 

Richard Parker: I need Jiles to be in the hospital instead of at the Great American Nightmare. 

Jiles tries to set up some type of defense, but Flamberge postures up in Jiles’ guard. Flamberge fires off a right hand that connects again with Jiles’ nose, and another, and another. Jiles finally scrambles and grabs the back of Flamberge’s head pulling him back down. Flamberge slams Cancer off the mat and creates enough separation to posture up again. Flamberge throws a left hand and Jiles manages to awkwardly roll away and kick Flamberge in the thighs with both legs, getting enough space to make it to the ropes. 

Nick Stuart: I think I see blood under Jiles’ nose! 

Richard Parker: I love when he bleeds! It’s just like against Youngblood! 

Jiles gets back to his feet slowly, keeping one hand on the ropes. Timo keeps the two men apart as Jiles finally separates himself from the top rope. His face is covered in blood that’s coming from his nose. Flamberge comes in like a hurricane again, right hand flying, at the same time throwing a left knee. Neither blow connects as Jiles manages to slither out of the way. Flamberge slams into the corner and Jiles fires off a kick to the back of the young man’s knee that drops him. Jiles is behind him, and starts slamming his face off the 2nd turnbuckle over and over again. 

Richard Parker: Get in there Timo! Come on! 

Nick Stuart: Cancer Jiles seems a bit irate at how this match has gone. 

Jiles turns Flamberge around in the corner and swings a kick in at FLAMBO’s exposed chest. It connects, but FLAMBO catches it with both arms and gets to his feet staring a hole through Cancer Jiles. 

Richard Parker: YES! 

Jiles goes for an enziguri, but Flamberge shoves him down to the ground furiously. Jiles bounces off the canvas and Flamberge catches him in the stomach with a hard kick. Flamberge grabs Jiles’ head and goes to lock in the Marie Antoinette guillotine choke. Jiles immediately starts to flail as the hold gets locked in. 

Richard Parker: He’s going to turn purple! 

Nick Stuart: That blood is literally being squeezed out of Jiles’ face by the young Frenchman. 

With his own blood spraying, Jiles manages to wiggle his chin down past Flamberge’s forearm reducing the pressure on his windpipe, but now the gore is really flowing as Flamberge keeps squeezing his head. Jiles does the only thing he can hope to do, and bites Flamberge’s forearm as hard as he can. 

Richard Parker: CANNIBAL! I KNEW HE WAS A CANNIBAL! 

Flamberge recoils, grabbing his forearm as a smirking, bloodied Cancer Jiles falls to the mat. Timo looks down, and sees the gash the young Frenchman has on his arm and goes to Jiles and warns him. 

Nick Stuart: Timo Bolamba doesn’t seem to like the fact that Jiles has taken a bite out of Flamberge! 

Jiles ignores Timo and rolls himself out of the ring again. 

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 

ONE!

Jiles takes up his now familiar post on the railing recuperating. 

TWO!

THREE!

Flamberge walks to the ropes, Timo tries to usher him back into the center of the ring. Timo turns around, now with a broken count. 

ONE!

TWO!

Flambo takes off running and baseball slides to the outside. 

RAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

Timo looks shocked as Flambo lands on his feet outside the ring. Jiles is on him immediately driving a knee into Flamberge’s stomach. Flamberge crumples over and Jiles drives his head into the railing. 

ONE!

Nick Stuart: Cancer Jiles has a lot of experience outside the ring. 

Richard Parker: WHERE IS HENRI? HE SHOULD BE HERE TELLING HIS SON NOT TO DO THIS! TIMO GET OUT THERE AND HELP HIM! 

TWO!

Jiles holds Flamberge’s neck across the barricade, choking the life out of him. 

THREE!

FOUR!

Jiles’ turns towards the crowd with his bloody grin and the garbage begins to fly again. 

FIVE!

Jiles grabs Flambo and Irish whips him into the next closest barricade. Flamberge collides into it, and Jiles comes running, planting a boot across Flamberge’s face. 

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 

SIX!

Jiles grabs Flamberge by the arm and this time whips him as hard as he can into the side of the ring. Flamberge looks almost electrified as his back crashes into the apron. The Frenchman falls to the ground, with himself half under the apron and Jiles is on him just out of Timo’s view under the ring. 

SEVEN!

Jiles comes out from under the apron smiling, and rolls himself into the ring. He wipes blood and the yellow substance off his chin as Flamberge now crawls out from under the ring, face covered in yellow mist and blood. 

EIGHT!

Richard Parker: HE MISTED HIM TIMO! DISQUALIFY HIM! 

Nick Stuart: It was under the ring, I don’t think Timo saw it! 

Flamberge gets to his feet and is trying to wipe the mist from his eyes. 

NINE!

FLAMBO dives into the ring. Into the waiting boots of Cancer Jiles. Jiles starts frantically kicking at Flamberge while holding the top rope, Timo once again tries to get in between them but Jiles shrugs him off and keeps stomping. Bolamba once again inserts himself between the two and finally gets Jiles to separate as Flamberge drags himself up off the canvas by the ropes. 

Nick Stuart: Jiles is a wild animal in the ring right now. 

This time Jiles is on the offensive and stalks over to Flamberge in the corner. Flambo is still trying to get the thick yellow mist out of his eyes, but Jiles doesn’t care. He throws a right hand that connects, and then a left that also connects. Jiles goes to grab Flamberge around the neck, but Flamberge stumbles forward and manages to grab Jiles around the neck in a Muay Thai clinch. He pulls Jiles’ head down and knees him in the mouth. Jiles staggers backwards, and a half blind Flamberge comes forward. 

Nick Stuart: TERMINAL CANCER! 

Richard Parker: NO! NO! 

All of the air in the MGM Grand is sucked out of the building as the super kick almost decapitates Flamberge, sending his neck snapping backwards as he crumples to the mat. Jiles immediately falls to his knees, every last ounce of energy he had going into his finishing maneuver. Jiles stares blankly for a moment, almost out of it while sitting up. He crawls his way across the ring and waits. 

Richard Parker: ROLL OUT OF THE RING KID! DON’T GET UP! 

Nick Stuart: Cancer Jiles is waiting like a coiled snake. 

Flamberge drags himself up to his feet using the ropes and stumbles into the center of the ring, Jiles comes forward throwing another Terminal Cancer but Flamberge manages to stumble out of the way. 

Richard Parker: RUN KID! GET OUT OF THERE! 

Jiles comes from the other corner and Flamberge didn’t see him as he tried to wipe the bloody mist from his eyes. 

Nick Stuart: TERMINAL CANCER AGAIN! 

This time Jiles flops on top of the floored Flamberge and hooks the leg. 

ONE

TWO

….

THREE

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Nick Stuart: What a battle between two incredible competitors. 

Richard Parker: He almost had him! He was an inch away! 

Nick Stuart: Flamberge has nothing to be ashamed of tonight, he fought like a man possessed. What an incredible match. 

FADE TO BLACK

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