In a very non-traditional approach for PRIME, we open on a shot of Nick Stuart and Richard Parker, both men looking somber in their seats behind the broadcast desk. Visible over their shoulders are a series of signs, all printed on white paper, all reading the same thing:
FIGHTING FOR JONATHAN
Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately my broadcast partner and I need to be the bearers of some unfortunate news tonight. Normally we would be taking you into our first match, but two weeks ago at UltraViolence there was an incident that occurred, and on behalf of PRIME we felt that it needed to be addressed.
Richard shakes his head and looks down at the desk.
Nick Stuart: In an act of ultimate betrayal, Paxton Ray turned on his partner, Jonathan Rhine. We’re not going to show you the footage. I have it directly from Lindsay Troy’s office that the attack has been edited from the UltraViolence replay that is available on the ACE Network. But in the weeks since it happened, we’ve received word that Jonathan Rhine…
Richard Parker: This is a black mark on the sport of professional wrestling, Nick. Absolutely, incredibly disgusting.
Nick Stuart: Fans, Richard and I have the unfortunate distinction of letting you know that as a result of the vicious attack by Paxton Ray… Jonathan Rhine’s in-ring career is over. We don’t know what will come of this, but all of us here at PRIME wish him all the best in what we can only imagine will be a long recovery. We promise to keep all of you at home updated as we…
There is a commotion in the crowd behind the broadcasters, as a series of heads turn in the same direction.
Richard Parker: It looks like we’ve got something brewing here, Nick.
The camera pans to a wide-shot of the arena. Moving alongside the entrance, with no music or fanfare, King Blueberry marches to the ring with a sense of purpose. What the camera also reveals is that the signs behind Richard and Nick were not an isolated cluster, and the arena is a veritable sea of “FIGHTING FOR JONATHAN” signs both printed and homemade. The same phrase is printed on the t-shirt that Blueberry wears. Beyond that, he is dressed for battle.
When the crowd recognizes who it is that’s moving to the ring, and what he’s wearing, the response is volcanic.
Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen, we weren’t expecting this, though I can’t say I’m surprised. Jared Sykes, the man under the mask, and Jonathan Rhine have known each other for most of their professional wrestling careers.
Blueberry slides under the bottom rope, where Vince Howard has been waiting to announce the first match. There’s a look of surprise on Vince’s face, as the same man who for months has been forcing him to announce “total combined heights” and refusing to divulge his partner’s weight now confidently strides over, extending a hand for the microphone he holds.
For those in the know, this is significant. Over the course of his career, the man under the mask can count on one hand the number of times he’s stood in a ring with a microphone. It’s unfamiliar territory, something he’s not inclined to do unless the circumstances compel it.
Few situations are more demanding than this.
Notable by her absence is the presence of Reina Raspberry, but there’s a valid reason for this as well: she doesn’t know he planned to do this.
He paces the ring like a caged animal. The microphone in his hand is heavy, almost leaden in his grip. Twice he tries to bring it close to his lips, and each time his hand stops just short. The words come to him in broken, disjointed bursts; each phrase part of a half-formed thought. The panic starts to sink in. They’re all watching, all waiting. Eleven years away, one year under a mask, and now he’s here in front of the world with a microphone and no plan.
He closes his eyes, and searches for a memory, finding one he was only recently reminded of.
“You could read the phone book, and they would love you for it.”
He exhales once, and the camera catches him mouth a single phrase before drawing the microphone up.
King Blueberry: PAXTON RAY!
The response the name earns is predictable.
King Blueberry: Two weeks, Paxton. You’ve had two weeks of peace, away from a very large group of people all thinking very bad things about what they’d do the next time they saw you. Let’s not waste anymore time, huh?
He strides to the side of the ring facing the entrance.
King Blueberry: I don’t need rules. I don’t need a referee. And you can damn sure believe that I’m not interested in a fucking explanation. What I need… what – I – NEED… is for you to get your ass down here, and then we’ll see which of us gets to walk out on our own!
There is no music, no grand entrance. No one slinks through the crowd.
King Blueberry: You know, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Things are a little different when the other person knows it’s coming, aren’t they, Paxton? But I guess the big, bad man from the bayou maybe isn’t so tough after all. C’mon out, Pax’. I’m right here.
Once again, nothing happens.
King Blueberry: I said come on, goddammit!
After a few moments of silence, we hear the sound of a typewriter clicking. The PRIMEView lights up with the following word being typed on a black background:
FIGHTING FOR NORA
The letters begin to swirl around, a reverse of the image we’ve seen in their video package before, and finally two names are spelled on top of each other.
Then, slowly, a red line strikes through the name at the bottom.
The name fades away, leaving only Paxton’s. In months prior, “Piece by Piece” by Strata would start as the Lafayette Bruiser would make his entrance. But this is not months prior.
New Paxton. New attitude. New song. And it starts with a single line sung without instruments.
They say it’s good to start a story with a tragedy
Then the chunky southern guitar riff of “Fistfight” by The Ballroom Thieves starts to play. Within a few moments, the man of the hour appears under the PRIMEView.
Nick Stuart: There he is, Richard. The man who paralyzed Jonathan Rhine. His own tag partner. His friend.
Richard Parker: He certainly looks proud of himself.
Indeed he does. The Lafayette Bruiser looks at the fans with a small smile as he soaks in their hatred. He makes no motion towards the ring, or to raise a microphone to his mouth. He has waited months for this moment. The fans can wait a few more seconds.
The day I finally met you like I knew I would
You raised me from the wreck of my doubts
You were smiling to yourself as if we both understood
The silent language of the anguish of a heart that sings but doesn’t make a sound
As the song kicks into the chorus, it begins to fade, and the jeering of the crowd overwhelms the arena. The cameraman gets close to him, highlighting Paxton’s new shirt: black, with one word in white.
After a few moments, Paxton Ray pulls the microphone to his mouth and starts to speak.
Paxton Ray: I–
Paxton’s smile widens as the fans hurl boos and expletives his way. A few empty cups – and one not so empty, with soda splashing against Paxton’s feet – come flying, followed by some other debris from the fans close enough to take aim at the young man from Lafayette.
Nick Stuart: That’s right, you monster! These fans were behind you every step of the way. For your daughter! And now you do this!
Paxton waits for the boos to subside, then looks back at King Blueberry.
Paxton Ray: I hope they got a bed ready at Sunrise. ‘Least ya can keep your boy company.
He throws the microphone down and begins to stomp towards the ring.
In the ring, King Blueberry has cast his own microphone aside. Without taking his eyes off the man storming the ring, he quickly pulls his shirt off and takes a few steps backwards. He crouches low, bouncing back and forth on the balls of his feet. Whatever happens next, he won’t be caught unaware.
The ominous opening to “Put ‘Em in the Grave” by Jedi Mind Tricks creeps through the speakers, and that can only mean one thing:
The Boss is in the building.
So who’s the next to get it?
I’ll take the life of anybody trying to change what’s left…
The PRIMEates fix their eyes to the stage and roar as Lindsay Troy comes storming, furious, out from the back. She swipes Paxton Ray’s discarded microphone and stomps down the ramp. Ray has paused at the bottom of the incline and looks over his shoulder at the approaching Queen, while King Blueberry hasn’t taken his eyes off Paxton.
Nick Stuart: If looks could kill, Richard.
Richard Parker: In this case, it’s too bad they don’t.
Troy reaches her destination and stands in front of Paxton Ray. Her heels put her exactly eye to eye with the Bayou Butcher, whose smug expression hasn’t wavered. A tense ten, fifteen seconds pass before Lindsay lifts the mic to her lips.
Lindsay Troy: Get out.
Paxton scoffs, unbothered, until Troy steps closer.
Lindsay Troy: That wasn’t a suggestion, you piece of shit. You are done in PRIME, and in this business, effective immediately. Nowhere of repute will have you after what you did to Jon, and if I had it my way, not even your precious mud pits would take you back. Now, get out of this arena and get out of my sight.
Only now do Paxton’s emotions change, and they cycle: at first he snarls with rage and shakes his head, saying things the mic can’t or won’t pick up. When Troy’s expression doesn’t waver, he grits his teeth and takes a step back. Finally, he leans forward into the microphone Lindsay is holding, keeping King Blueberry in the corner of his eye.
Paxton Ray: Count yourself lucky, Blueberry. Your boss won’t always be here to save ya.
He then looks up and smiles at Troy.
Paxton Ray: Go ‘head, Queen. Remove me.
The PRIMEates have been loud this entire time, so the arrival of Dametreyus and Wade Elliott to the scene went undetected. The Heads of Security grab Paxton’s arms from behind and haul him backwards without care. The entire time down, Paxton allows himself to be moved, the smile never leaving his face. Dam and Wade are flanked by Enemigos I, III, VI, and VII as they make their way along the side of the ramp and out of sight.
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray is outta here! Fired by the Queen and justifiably so!
Richard Parker: You think it’s too late to sing “Na na na, hey hey, goodbye?”
King Blueberry had watched this all unfold from inside the ring. He stared when the first decree was handed down, and Paxton’s role within the company was terminated. The fingers on his left hand flexed and tightened as the Queen handed down her judgment. He watched transfixed as the Bayou Butcher went willingly, quietly up the ramp and back into the same obscurity Jonathan Rhine had dragged him from.
It’s only when Paxton is out of sight does King Blueberry move, jumping between the ropes to the arena floor and marching to where Lindsay Troy now stands. The mask he wears does little to hide the anger.
Nick Stuart: Jared, what the hell are you thinking?!
In the days to follow, it’ll be a common refrain.
Richard Parker: One man fired already tonight, and another on the verge of committing career suicide.
There’s a palpable unease that spreads through the crowd, as King and Queen stand inches apart. Ordinary the height disparity means he’s looking up to meet her eyes, but tonight she towers above him. He doesn’t flinch, doesn’t move, doesn’t act. No words are exchanged, though there will likely be a series of very uncomfortable conversions to come later.
Nick Stuart: Back off, Jared. Just back… off.
Salvation comes in the form of his partner, sprinting the length of the ramp and pushing the Blueberry away. Despite not having a microphone, her first words to him are clear as a bell.
“What the fuck are you doing?!”
Troy watches Reina Raspberry haul the infuriated King Blueberry away. She subtly shakes her head and, with a resigned sigh, walks to the back.
Nick Stuart: Something tells me this is far from over. We’ve got our opening match coming up so let’s go to Vince with the intros.
RIA LOCKHART VS. ALEX STEEL
With the ringside area finally cleared, Vince Howard stands ready to do his job. But first, as is tradition, there are signs to be revealed. Fair warning, a lot of them are very thirsty. Behold!
HAS TAL CONSIDERED REACHING OUT TO FLAMBO RE: BEING A SWORD
LET MUSHIGIHARA SAY… OH. NEVERMIND.
WOULD LUNCH TIME VS BANDITS IN A CHOCO TACO EATING CONTEST BE A HANDICAP MATCH?
CAN SOMEBODY HELP ME GET GAS?
KBB VS HANLON: MASK VS ‘STACHE
BOOK EL HIJO DEL SUPER COOL GUY VS. ONKERS MCGOO, COWARDS
IS CANCER JILES IN GUANTANAMO BAY?
CAN I GET DAM’S NUMBER?
RHINE SHOULD’VE LEFT PAXTON IN THE MUD PITS
CANCER JILES IS MY GUANTANAMO BAE
POWERBOMB COLOGNE HELPED ME LOSE MY VIRGINITY
CAN FLAMBO AND COLTON SHIP UP NOW?
FREE TICKETS FOR NATE COTTON’S REALTOR
COLOSSUS REFERS TO THE SIZE OF TRUCK NEEDED TO DELIVER CONDOMS TO THIS ROSTER
DEAR DR. REFORM WHY DOES IT HURT WHEN I PEE
HOW MANY STITCHES?!
WHY HASN’T ANYONE PRIMED THAT SHIT YET
There’s more. A lot more. Because we as a species have decided that there can never be enough signs. Some are in-jokes. Some break the fourth wall. Some are so meta that Facebook is preparing to file a lawsuit. Get it? Because Meta is the name of their company.
Let’s allow Mr. Howard to do his thing.
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall. Introducing first, making her PRIME debut… Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri and weighing in tonight at one-hundred and twenty-three pounds…
The collective attention of the crowd is drawn to the entryway.
“Got Each Other” by The Interrupters cues up as Alex steps into the entrance area amid the lights kicking up behind her. She stops to look at the crowd, does some quick stretches, then runs down the ramp. Alex slides into the ring, does a run into the ropes, before sliding out on the rebound to give her baseball cap and T-shirt to a young fan in the audience. She then slides back into the ring and waits for her opponent.
Vince Howard: AWESOME ALLEEEEEEEXXXXXXXXX STEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL!
Nick Stuart: Alex Steel well on her way to endearing herself to the PRIMEates with a gesture like that, Richard.
Richard Parker: A little light pandering never hurt anyone, I guess.
Vince Howard: And her opponent…
The opening riff to New Found Glory’s cover of “This is Me” blasts throughout the arena.
I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, “they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious
As the chorus begins, Ria Lockhart slowly walks out. A pink and light blue jacket adorns her frame and a pair of pink mirrored wraparound sunglasses sit on her face. She remains motionless, stoic, for a moment. That changes in an instant as a wide grin breaks out on her face. Back and forth she goes on the top of the ramp, firing up the crowd.
Vince Howard: Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania…
Ria confidently strides down towards the ring, slapping hands and casually chatting with fans. Once ringside, she quickly traverses the stairs. Standing on the apron, she pulls off her shades, gazing around the audience. She flings the glasses into the crowd, again, a big smile on her face.
Vince Howard: And weighing in tonight at one-hundred and fifty-five pounds…
Lockhart grabs the top rope. She gives a small hop, bouncing off the bottom rope. She uses that momentum to flip up and over the top, landing on her feet in the ring. Almost as soon as she does, Ria bolts for a corner. She climbs it hurriedly, resting with one foot on the middle rope and one on the top rope. She flings her arms into the air to again get the crowd going. She hops down after a pause and backs towards the same corner, pulling her jacket off.
Vince Howard: RAINBOW ROCK… RIAAAAAAAAAAAA LOCKHAAAAAAAAAAAAART!
With both competitors in the ring, there’s only one formality left to cover.
Nick Stuart: There’s our opening bell, which means ReVival 16 is now officially underway! This should be an interesting test for both competitors, Richard. Ria is looking to get back on the winning path against the newcomer in Alex Steel, but Steel’s not to be overlooked.
Richard Parker: I heard she has a powerlifting background, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she manages to throw some members of this roster into the sun. Alex, if you’re curious, I have a list. It’s sorted alphabetically, except the first five entries are all Cancer Jiles.
There’s a bit of a feeling out process as the match gets rolling. The two circle each other, lock up, and Steel gets the upper hand given her strength advantage, pulling Ria into a headlock takeover and clamping down on the hold. It’s countered with a head scissors, but Steel pushes out from a headstand, and lands a snap dropkick as Lockhart begins to get back to her feet.
Both women are back to their feet quickly. Steel charges in with a short lariat, but Ria ducks, connecting with a solid elbow shot once her opponent turns around. A second one lands, staggering Steel back a bit, which gives Ria enough room to lunge in with a jumping calf kick.
Nick Stuart: Quick exchange here to start this one. Ria Lockhart using her experience to create some distance and get Alex Steel under control.
Richard Parker: It’s a smart play, Nick. Remember… Powerlifter. Sun. Yeet.
Nick Stuart: Yeet?
Richard Parker: Did I not use that word correctly?
Ria shoots in, feinting going low so that she can get behind Steel. It’s enough of a distraction that she’s able to quickly capture the PRIME newcomer in a snap dragon suplex. She follows with a cover, hooking the far leg as Ashley Barlow – the referee assigned to his match – makes the count.
Alex Steel forcefully gets a shoulder up once the ref’s hand hits the canvas for the second time. Again both women get to their feet, and this time when Ria moves in to attack she’s caught with a quick jumping knee strike to the jaw. She staggers back, charges in again, but this time Steel is ready and catches her in a side released belly-to-belly suplex.
Nick Stuart: Quick flurry of offense from Alex Steel, and now it’s her turn to make the cover.
Which means it’s Ria’s turn to get her shoulder up.
Nick Stuart: Steel not allowing Ria the chance to get to her feet, smothering her with a pair of grounded elbows!
Richard Parker: This is one of many reasons why I could never be a wrestler, Nick. Wouldn’t want to get hit in the face.
Nick Stuart: I can’t imagine it feels very good.
Richard Parker: And also I’m very pretty. Can’t mess up this moneymaker.
Steel brings Ria back to her feet and sends her hard into the corner with an Irish whip. Ria is crushed almost immediately as Alex Steel charges into her with a spear, timed in such a way so that Ria doesn’t have a chance to react between hitting the buckle and being hit. She stumbles forward out from the corner, and is caught with an overhead belly-to-belly which sends her careening halfway across the ring.
Nick Stuart: HUGE suplex out of the corner by Alex Steel, once again putting that strength on display!
Richard Parker: You know, I wouldn’t want to get suplexed like that either.
Nick Stuart: Let me guess. You’re also secretly a part-time butt model?
Richard Parker: No, it just doesn’t look fun, is all.
Steel closes the distance, but from a prone position Ria connects with an upkick using both legs, sending Awesome Alex to the mat. She’s quick to her feet, but the opening provides Ria with the chance to regain her footing, and when Alex moves in she’s caught with a uranage backbreaker.
Nick Stuart: Very back-and-forth contest to kick things off for us tonight.
Richard Parker: Honestly, it’s pretty refreshing to see two people just have a competitive match without either one of them attempting to do crimes to the other.
Nick Stuart: Can’t argue with that, Richard.
Richard Parker: Now about that list of people I want Alex Steel to throw…
Ria pulls Steel in, trying to cinch her for an exploder suplex, but a series of back elbows to the jaw are enough to cause Ria to break her grip. Another jumping knee connects, and a stunned Ria is caught by a charging clothesline. Steel dives through the move feet-first, and kips up back to her feet.
Nick Stuart: Huge clothesline takes Ria Lockhart down!
Richard Parker: If I was Alex Steel I don’t know if I would be playing to the crowd right now.
In the ring, the newcomer has turned her back to the fallen Ria and is going through a few theatrical gestures.
Nick Stuart: No, you’d be throwing people off a list.
Richard Parker: I’m so glad you remembered!
Alex attempts a standing moonsault, but Ria was able to get her knees up in time. From her prone position on the mat, she pivots on the canvas and turns the move into a variation of a small package.
Nick Stuart: Countered! Could this be it?!
Nick Stuart: No!
Ria brings Alex back to her feet and grabs a rear waistlock. She lifts her opponent up, going for a back suplex variant, but there’s enough reserves left in Steel that she’s able to float over and land on her feet behind Ria.
Nick Stuart: Neither of these women are looking to give the other an inch here. Incredible back-and-forth contest and now… OH MY!
Nick’s sudden outburst is because Alex Steel has just hoisted Ria Lockhart straight into the air with a gorilla press pickup.
Richard Parker: Alex, no! Ria’s not on the yeet list!
Nick Stuart: And Alex Steel just dropped Ria Lockhart straight down onto the canvas!
Sensing an opportunity, Steel steps through the ropes and climbs to the top buckle. She perches there for a moment, looking out to the crowd and taking it all in. PRIME is a big stage, maybe the biggest she’s performed on, and an audience this size can be a little overwhelming.
Nick Stuart: Steel taking a little too much time here. If she’s not careful this could backfire.
She leaps from the buckle in a diving splash but is unable to course correct in time as Ria moves on the mat below, the hesitation having given her time to get out of the way. Steel connects with nothing but canvas.
Nick Stuart: And Alex Steel comes up empty!
Richard Parker: That’s Vegas for ya’. Sometimes you hit big, sometimes the house takes you to the cleaner, and sometimes your opponent rolls out of the way when you go high risk.
Nick Stuart: That… sure is… something?
Ria waits until Alex is just back to her feet before she strikes, snapping her opponent down with a jumping cutter.
Nick Stuart: LOCK CUTTER! Ria Lockhart picked her moment and caught Alex Steel!
Ashley Barlow slides into position to make the count.
Ding ding ding!
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… RIA LOCKHAAAAAAART!
Nick Stuart: Tremendous showing for Alex Steel in her first match here in PRIME. The future is definitely bright for this young lady.
Richard Parker: That made you sound so old, Nick. Like do you have pockets full of Werther’s candies, or what?
Nick Stuart: And for Ria, a big win as we start our road towards Colossus!
Richard Parker: Seriously, do you buy them in bulk so you have a few in all of your coats?
Nick Stuart: (sighing) Goddammit, Richard.
MUSHI SAYS MORE WORDS, NO MORE OSU
Backstage at the MGM Grand.
The Dangerous Mix of David Fox and Mushigihara are making their way to the arena entrance, dressed in their ring gear and ready to fight. David turns his head to his Kaiju of a partner without slowing his pace down at all.
David Fox: Big man.
Mushi simply lets out a low “hmm?” in response.
David Fox: I’m real sorry about getting mad about… well, everything.
Mushi nods. They both keep walking, like a pair of workers heading to a job site.
David Fox: I appreciate you telling me everything, and I hope you’ll continue telling me the truth about everything.
David Fox: Y’know, it’s funny. Saori and I have known you for… gosh, almost ten years now? And yet it feels like meeting a new friend all over.
Fox chuckles while stretching out his arms and chest.
David Fox: I know that’s real sappy to say, but… I dunno. I feel like this is gonna take our little team to another level. It’s hard to explain. You know what I mean?
Mushigihara stops dead in his tracks, cracking the tiniest of smirks. David stops too, raising an eyebrow in curiosity.
Mushigihara: Yeah, I know.
If you didn’t know, now you do. Mushigihara, PRIME’s own Kaiju of the tag team ranks, actually can talk, and without the slightest hint of an accent.
Mushigihara: We’ll have plenty of time to talk about that. Let’s get in that ring and serve those Lunch Time fellas a hearty welcome meal for now, OK?
David looks non-plussed, shaking his head and sighing.
David Fox: You’ve been waiting ten years to start talking so you could make cheesy jokes, haven’t you?
The duo start walking again, Fox chuckling as he walks off-camera.
Mushigihara: [in a dodgy Uruk-Hai impression] Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys!
David Fox: [off-camera] You know I’m a vegetarian, so that’s aaaalllllllll you, buddy.
Mushi follows his partner off-camera as we cut back to the ring.
THE SEG WITH NO TITLE
Backstage, Simon Tillier stands quietly, microphone in hand.
Standing next to him are two individuals we are slowly learning about. One is newcomer Adam Ellis who is dressed and to go for his upcoming match wearing a pair of plain blue wrestling shorts. The other is Adam’s wife- Ginny Van Lear. The former MMA prodigy is dressed in a t-shirt, jeans, and her feet are wrapped in tape.
Simon Tillier: Ladies and gentlemen… Adam Ellis and his valet Ginny Van Lear.
Adam Ellis: Good evening Mr. Tillier.
Ginny speaks in her distinct Appalachian dialect.
Ginny Van Lear: Simon.
Simon Tillier: Ginny, I was told that last night was your birthday so a belated Happy Birthday to you.
Ginny Van Lear: Mighty obliged to ya. Hard to reckon I’m twenty now.
Simon Tillier: Well again, Happy Birthday to you.
He turns to Adam.
Simon Tillier: Now to you Adam. First off, any lingering aftereffects from the ‘REAL LOVE’ Darin Zion attack on you at UltraViolence?
Adam Ellis: No. Zion got a cheap shot in when I wasn’t looking. It’s fine. It’s nothing. I am ready to go tonight.
Simon Tillier: You were more than a little upset with Zion’s attack?
Adam begins to answer but Ginny jumps in.
Ginny Van Lear: Oh hell yeah. Y’all I was mad as a hornet.
She points angrily toward the camera.
Ginny Van Lear: That hoity-toity Mister Zion’s damn lucky PRIME security didn’t let me kick his high-falutin’ head off, that’s shor’nuf.
Simon turns to Adam.
Adam Ellis: Darin’s pretty lucky her spinning kick didn’t connect.
Adam then puts his hand on Ginny’s shoulder in the hope that the now twenty-year-old red-haired firecracker will eventually cool off.
Simon Tillier: All right. Adam, if we could talk about your debut match?
Adam Ellis: Sure, Mr. Tillier:
Simon Tillier: You had a good win over Ria Lockhart four weeks ago in your first PRIME match. Tonight, you will face another newcomer- Sage Pontiff. How do you approach this match?
Adam Ellis: Well Simon, the key is to never, ever, underestimate your opponent. I don’t know a damn thing about Sage Pontiff. He probably doesn’t know a lot about me either. So I approached training for the match the same way I would have if I was wrestling Brandon Youngblood, Cancer Jiles, Rezin, or The Anglo Luchador tonight. I worked out with Charlie Blackwell down in Dallas this week and he pushed me to put in the time and work so I will have the confidence I’ll need tonight when the bell rings.
Simon Tillier: So you feel good about your match tonight?
Adam Ellis: Basically, hard work equals confidence. Hard work means I should be prepared and be able to handle anything that happens in the ring. I feel I’m ready for tonight.
Simon Tillier: Thank you Adam and Ginny for your time… and good luck tonight, Adam.
Adam Ellis: Thank you Mr. Tillier.
Simon Tillier: All right. Back to you Nick.
LUNCH TIME VS. DANGEROUS MIX
We head back to ringside, where Jimmy Turnbill and Vince Howard are currently in the ring as “Everybody Wants Some” by Van Halen begins to play throughout the arena before cutting to Nick and Richard at commentary!
Nick Stuart: Well folks, it’s been a wild night so far and after that statement from Adam Ellis it’s time to get back to in-ring action! We have a new tag team in PRIME and they look hungry to make a name for themselves!
Richard Parker: Oh, they look hungry alright…I think I’d better hide my donut stash.
Nick just sort of glares at Richard as we see the very tag team making their way out, before Vince begins the introductions.
Vince Howard: The following tag team contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first, they are the team of Sterling “Meat” Hayes and Brian “Tater” Chevis…LUNCH TIIIIME!
Hayes and Chevis give some high fives to fans in the front row as they head toward the ring, looking forward to their first match in PRIME as their music fades.
Vince Howard: And their opponents…
“Run Rabbit Junk” by Hideyuki Takahashi plays as David Fox and Mushigihara make their way out to the stage, ready to get into action.
Vince Howard: At a combined weight of 487 pounds, the team of David Fox and Mushigihara, they are…DANGEROUS MIX!
Fox and Mushi approach the ring, cheered on by the crowd as the pair enter to prepare for tonight’s bout.
Nick Stuart: Some interesting words from the Mix earlier tonight, as they look to bounce back from losing to the Masters of the Multiverse…and their counterparts…at UltraViolence.
Richard Parker: Can’t argue with a good strategy, Nick!
We start things off with Fox and Tater, the latter looking to lock up with the Soul Survivor…but a swift, hard kick to Tater’s leg lets the stocky man know what David has in mind. Fox keeps this up for just a moment longer, before Tater manages to block a kick before pulling him into a shoulder tackle, sending Fox crashing to the canvas!
Meat cheers him on from the apron as Tater brings Fox back to his feet, sending him to the ropes with an Irish whip as he looks for a clothesline on the rebound…but David ducks under it, using the momentum to his advantage to leap up, hitting a modified neckbreaker on the rebound that drops Tater hard!
Nick Stuart: Tater giving Fox a real fight at the jump, but David’s in control here now!
Richard Parker: If there was ever a time for a bit of a mean streak to pop in it’s now, Fox!
David stays on the attack with some hard kicks, but Tater does his best to absorb the damage as he slowly gets back to his feet…and manages to catch Fox off guard once more, this time taking him down for a spinebuster! Tater rolls over, reaching out to tag in Meat as Mushi extends an arm from his corner looking for a tag of his own!
David crawls inch by inch toward the corner…and just as Meat reaches to grab the leg and stop him, Fox manages to leap up and make the tag to Mushi! The crowd cheers, eagerly anticipating something of a HOSS fight as Mushi and Meat stare each other down…and Meat smiles, egging Mushi on somewhat. The two start exchanging some hard lefts and rights, which Mushi quickly turns into elbow strikes as he beats down on Meat, only stopping to hoist him up and over for a gutwrench suplex!
Nick Stuart: And what a suplex that was! With how big Meat is, Mushi’s strength is absolutely stunning here!
Richard Parker: If he keeps that up he might wear himself out, though!
Meat is down as Mushi goes for a cover…but Turnbull doesn’t get to make the count, as something of an argument is distracting him from ringside. We turn our attention to it as well, seeing Fox arguing with…the B-Team!?
Nick Stuart: What are those two doing, they’re not even supposed to BE here tonight!
Richard Parker: Right, fellas, there IS such a thing as too much bragging…and this ain’t the time for it!
The argument continues until Tater has had enough, dropping from the apron as he charges at the Masters…but his momentum sends him crashing into them AND Fox simultaneously, sending all three men crashing to the floor! Back in the ring, Mushi is confused and somewhat annoyed by this turn of events…but that gives Meat an opening as he rocks the Kaiju with one hard right hand after another, sending him toward the corner.
Meat comes running full speed toward the corner, but Mushi just manages to avoid disaster as he ducks out of the way…and uses the momentum to drop Meat with a Biel throw! The chaos at ringside has finally subsided, but there is still no Fox available for the tag…so Mushi seizes his opportunity, bringing Meat up to his feet as he looks for a Uranage…but Meat manages to stop it with an elbow to the head! Meat hits the ropes, looking for a clothesline…but Mushi catches him by surprise, this time connecting with the Uranage! The crowd are shocked at the power on display as Mushi makes the cover once more…and this time, Turnbull makes the count!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Here are your winners, via pinfall…David Fox and Mushigihara…DANGEROUS MIX!
Mushi gets to his feet as Turnbull raises his arm in victory, but the Kaiju is still distracted by what’s going on outside as the Masters are finally back on their feet…and immediately hightail it up the ramp, heading to the back as Fox gets a chance to slide into the ring to join in the celebration. That doesn’t last terribly long as we see Tater slide in as well, checking on Meat before bringing his friend up to his feet…and the two duos stare each other down, eager for some sort of rematch down the line as we cut back to commentary.
Nick Stuart: Well folks, this match took some turns but we have a win for Dangerous Mix down…but with the shenanigans from the B-Team, it seems there’s an unresolved issue now!
Richard Parker: Very true Nick, I can’t say I blame these guys for wanting another crack at each other down the road…but what in the fresh hell is this?
Richard lifts a peculiar card up, handing it over to Nick who reads from it.
Nick Stuart: Masters of the Multiverse, B-Team…for the love of food? I dunno what that means either, Richard, but I suspect we may have a little more understanding of why they came down here during this match tonight! Folks, we’re just moments away from our next exciting match as Sage Pontiff debuts against Adam Ellis!
Back in the ring, we see that the stare down between Lunch Time and Dangerous Mix has ended in a very reluctant handshake between the duos, that the crowd show some appreciation for as we cut to commercial!
IN THE NAME OF THE CROWNLESS KING
ReVival 16 rolls along, cutting away to a dark room. A single stool sits empty in the center, and remains empty until a lone figure walks into frame. Dressed in a patchwork fur cloak, the man sits down at the stool, and tents his fingers as he looks towards the ground.
Coral Avalon: You know, I’ll be honest. I’m not one for sitting around and talking. Especially these days.
The “Fighting for Jonathan” T-shirt is prominent underneath the cloak.
Coral Avalon: But you all saw me at UltraViolence, backing up my boys, and I felt the need to introduce myself.
In the background, behind Coral, walks Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips of the Winds of Change. Not dressed to compete, the two stand there with their arms crossed, leaning against the wall. Actually, some of that’s a lie. Sid’s the one doing that. Joe’s got himself a bucket of popcorn.
Coral knows they’re behind him, but tries not to cringe.
Coral Avalon: My name is Coral Avalon.
He has an easy smile as he continues.
Coral Avalon: Before you all ask, and I know a few of you are going to ask… yeah, that’s the real name. The one I was born with. You can make fun of it if you want, and I don’t really care if you do. But if you’re going to do that, you’d better not miss.
He winks at the camera.
Coral Avalon: Fifteen years ago, I was right here in PRIME. The lead clown in the Codemaster’s clown car called the Blue Rogues. There were eight of us. Me, the Codemaster, Mega Job, the Falk Brothers, and Joe’s aunt, Alexandria. We were the PRIME Tag Team Champions. Getting there and then keeping the belts, that was my job. Everyone else’s job was pure shenanigans.
He pauses to smile to himself, remembering a different time. Then he lets the smile fade.
Coral Avalon: And it lasted all the way until a corporate suit wearing a human being decided that I wasn’t worth keeping around.
He looks straight at the camera.
Coral Avalon: But that… that was fifteen years ago.
He smiles, again, showing teeth. A grin that might be comparable to certain cats from Wonderland.
Coral Avalon: I tell you the story of who I was in PRIME, not because I really want anyone to remember it, but because I want to prove how far I’ve come. I’ve made my return. And I’ve found that PRIME’s plenty full of guys who’re exactly the same as when I saw them last, and… I’m not that. I’ve grown. I’ve changed. You cling too desperately to the past, and you’ll let go of your future.
With a mouth full of popcorn, Joe Fontaine finally chimes in.
Joe Fontaine: Very enlightening!
Sid jabs Joe in the shoulder for the outburst, and Joe reacts with a loud “ow”. In the foreground, Coral closes his eyes, and remains calm. It’s a feat that might not have been possible without building up more than a decade’s worth of patience.
Coral Avalon: Do you mind?
Sid Phillips: I want to talk about powerbombs.
Coral Avalon: You always want to talk about powerbombs. Don’t you have anything else you want to talk about besides powerbombs?
Sid Phillips: No.
Joe Fontaine: We could talk about Street Fighter.
Sid Phillips: No. No gods, no kings, no Shoryukens, only powerbombs.
Coral Avalon: Guys. Don’t make me come over there.
While Coral’s response is genial, there’s a hint in the tone that made both members of the Winds of Change shut up instantly. After all, they both know that the manner of Coral Avalon “coming over there” is going to be in the form of King Arthur’s spear. In foot form.
With the peanut gallery quiet for the moment, Coral turns back to the camera.
Coral Avalon: So, I come to you not as the Kleptomaniac of the past that made his name on the backs of what he took from others, but as a king who leads himself. And I’ll fight anyone to prove that. Doesn’t matter if you have a championship or not. Doesn’t matter if you’re Regular or GREAT. Doesn’t matter how many doctorates you claim to have. Doesn’t matter if you’re a cultist, a follower, a fellow berry, from the multiverse, a bandit… a father of suplexes or his first cousin. Doesn’t matter if you travel by boat, by jet, or by TARDIS. Doesn’t even matter if it’s Paxton Ray, who might not have a heartbeat before I even get a chance to put him in a ditch.
Coral’s eyes glinted. There’s a quiet anger behind them simply mentioning that name. One that, for now, he’s willing to keep buried.
Coral Avalon: If you’re on the other side of that ring from me, you’re gonna regret it.
Behind him, Joe munches his popcorn VERY audibly. And Sid chimes in.
Sid Phillips: ‘Cause we’re all gonna powerbomb you.
Coral casts a bewildered glance behind him towards Sid.
Coral Avalon: What? No. It would just be me doing the powerbombs, in this case. You can do the powerbombs for your own matches.
Joe Fontaine (mouth full of popcorn): I dohn’t do powahboms, bruh.
Sid Phillips: Yeah. Come on. I didn’t graduate with honors and a pHD from the West Arizona University of Powerbombs with a major in Greater Powerbomb Theory and a minor in gardening, to not powerbomb people.
Coral tries very hard not to look like he has a headache.
Coral Avalon: First of all, that’s not a real university. Second of all, that’s not a real major. Third of all… gardening?
Sid Phillips: Everyone’s got to have a hobby. Mine’s flower arrangements.
Coral Avalon: I’m going to ignore you now.
Sid Phillips: Fair.
Coral turns back to the camera, and gestures to his left and his right.
Coral Avalon: These two are my students. And while they’re not sitting here with the PRIME Tag Team Championships after UltraViolence… rest assured, those are still on their radar.
Sid Phillips: I’m gonna invent a whole new powerbomb just for those berries.
Coral Avalon: Okay, I know I said I was going to ignore you, but… okay. I’m sure you can do that.
Sid Phillips: The heavens themselves will be born asunder by the very force of the powerbomb I will deliver to that Jared Blueberry. The ground will quake as it’s delivered, and he will only ever be identified by whatever Jell-O flavor he leaves behind when he is smote. By powerbomb.
Joe Fontaine: Gonna go out on a limb and say… probably blueberry-flavored.
Sid Phillips: He will shit blueberries from every orifice after I am done powerbombing him with the righteous fury of a million burning suns.
Joe Fontaine: Gross.
He shovels popcorn into his mouth. Some of it misses.
Joe Fontaine: I’m eating here, bro.
Coral Avalon: You know, Sid, he is my friend and he’s going through a tough time right now. Like, he’s taken what happened to Jon the hardest out of any of us. So maybe we don’t threaten to murder Jared with a heaven-splitting death Jell-O powerbomb.
Sid Phillips: You’re right.
He turns to Joe, and “whispers” to him.
Sid Phillips: Psst. Still going to powerbomb him to death.
Joe Fontaine: Psst. He didn’t seem so bad, though. Said some cool things to me after the match.
Coral Avalon: Guys. It’s not whispering if you say “psst” before the things you say.
Both Joe and Sid turn to Coral, and stare at him for a while. Then they both turn and leave, walking off-screen to the left. Coral closes his eyes and waits for a moment, before he lets out a deep sigh.
Coral Avalon: Well, a kingdom isn’t built in a day.
He stands from his seat. His heavy, ridiculous cloak knocks over the stool when he does, and he stands there awkwardly over the fallen stool like it’d been shot by snipers. Yup. This promo is definitely going well for him, and that feeling is etched all over his face.
Coral Avalon: Next time… just leave Joe and Sid in catering before I do this. Yeah. That’s what I should do.
He walks away, muttering to himself.
And ReVival moves along.
A RED DECLARATION
The MGM Grand is bathed in red lighting. That means only one thing:
“The Soviet National Anthem” by the Red Army Choir explodes over the PA system. The crowd immediately erupts into boos and jeers as the flag of the Soviet Union appears on the PRIMEtron.
Nick Stuart: I never thought I would say it, folks, but Ivan Stanislav is indeed here in PRIME!
Richard Parker: Yes, and coming off of a great win at UltraViolence against Hayes Hanlon!
Nick Stuart: What are you talking about? Hanlon defeated The Russian Bear right in the middle of the ring.
Richard Parker: That’s not what the Russian newspaper says!
Nick Stuart: I don’t even know what to say to that…
The negative reaction intensifies as Ivan Stanislav and Alexei Ruslan emerge from the backstage area. The Russian Bear raises his arms high in the air and bellows defiantly as the entire arena battles against him. Stanislav is undaunted as he walks down the aisle way scowling. Halfway towards the ring, a particular PRIMEate with an American flag shirt flicks Stanislav the bird. The Bear turns and yells at him, and another member of the crowd launches his full soda cup at Ivan. It explodes as it hits his chest and sprays all over the Russian, soiling his black shirt and suspenders. Ivan grits his teeth and kicks his foot out, nailing the barricade and collapsing several sections of it.
Nick Stuart: We might have a riot here folks!!
Richard Parker: That idiot would deserve it! We are all lucky to have such a legend here in PRIME!
Security rushes to block Ivan and Alexei from advancing into the crowd, and also to hold back the tide of fans. The soiled Stanislav instead turns and makes his way to the ring while the ring crew helps restore the barricade to working order. Ivan steps up onto the apron and over the top rope and raises his arms into the air again and roars, while Ruslan procures a microphone.
Alexei, in his trench coat and hat, walks in front of Ivan and paces while the music dies down and the lights raise.
Alexei Ruslan: Oh! How nice it is to be back in America with such warm welcomes!!
Alexei Ruslan: Every single one of you ingrates should be cheering myself and Ivan Stanislav. We are some of the only people who actually fight for YOU! And here you are, belittling yourselves!
Stanislav’s beard drips from the soda and he takes the microphone. His voice booms and causes the PA system to crackle.
Ivan Stanislav: After twenty long years, we have finally returned to wrestling ring. And indeed, this is how the masses greet us? When last I stood in ring like this, I was cheered! You howl at Ivan and Alexei because you are frightened, just like all members of PRIME roster! Your brains have all turned to mush. You are all complacent!
Ivan is furious and it clearly shows. He reaches up to his beard and wrings it out with one hand. Soda drips from it.
Ivan Stanislav: PRIME came begging for Ivan Sergeiovich and Alexei Gregorovich to come to roster. After flakey, lazy roster had hole in it, they needed true dependable men to bring some level of legitimacy to this flagging organization, and so here we are! DYAAHAAHAA!!
Ivan’s grating laugh pops all throughout the speakers of the MGM Grand as he grips his suspenders and tugs on them.
Nick Stuart: Stanislav may have come to help with a gap in the roster, but I don’t think it’s a real good idea to bash your employer.
Richard Parker: Comrade Stanislav will do what he wants. He’s afraid of nothing!
Ivan stares directly at the camera and points, his face filled with rage.
Ivan Stanislav: There is nothing fancy about what is to be done here tonight. Later this evening, I will annihilate Shawn Warstein, but I wish to speak on something far more serious! Clearly, wrestling product in these modern times has waned. Look at what PRIME has to offer!
Ivan wrinkles his nose.
Ivan Stanislav: The roster wishes to all be friends! They tippy tap on their jibber Jabber clamoring for attention and giggles! They want to go out to eat with one another. Go to the gym together. They want to loan things to one another. It makes me think they wish to all hold hands and dance in circle. When did so many men lose their testicles?!
Alexei shrugs and smirks at the rhetorical question.
Ivan Stanislav: When Ivan Sergeiovich tries to talk sense into them and truth, they attack with hurtful remarks towards myself and my people. Easy to do behind computer monitor. Harder to do in this ring, eh Alexei?
Ruslan simply laughs and nods his head.
Ivan Stanislav: It makes Ivan Sergeiovich sick. The abject disrespect from roster to management is unfathomable!
Ivan hocks and spits on the mat and thumbs at himself and Alexei, who stands to his right and has his hands behind his back.
Ivan Stanislav: We are not here to make such friends. We are here for comrades. Individuals who show the ideological and physical prowess to stand for something greater than themselves. The collective is always more powerful than the individual. There is, and will always be, a Red Army so long as Ivan Stanislav is active. Even if it is just myself and Alexei here. A two man army is more than enough. But I am calling upon entire roster, for those who wish to have more than just a casual friend, but rather a comrade, to consider coming to Ivan Stanislav to be part of movement far greater than any other!
Richard Parker: See!? Ivan is giving members of the roster the chance to be part of something greater than just themselves! Who wouldn’t want Ivan watching their back?!
Nick Stuart: If memory serves, back in PCW Chris Sloboda was in the Red Army and after he started becoming popular, didn’t Ivan Stanislav throw him out? And by throw him out, I mean physically attack him?
Richard Parker: Revisionist history!
Ivan Stanislav: I think of poor young bastard in hospital bed who shares same name as myself, Jonathan! If he had true friends, perhaps he would have not been brutalized so terribly, eh? A member of Red Army would never go through such horrible tribulations. He would be ready for such underhanded tactics! But no, his friends are “fashionably late” to his aid!
Ivan huffs and stomps to one side of the ring and elevates his voice.
Ivan Stanislav: The owners of PRIME grow fat off of every dollar they make, not just from you fans, but from us hard working wrestlers. They and their ilk sit in their fancy glassed boxes high above your heads, looking down upon you with derision!
Ivan points up around the arena at some of the glassed in box seats.
Ivan Stanislav: UltraViolence was resounding success. Estimates show that the inclusion of Ivan and Alexei are driving force for this success. However, the same wealthy bastards book the unequipped in matches too brutal for them to handle. Such as main event, dog collar matches, and the like. The current roster lacks the fortitude for such endeavors and they find themselves in hospital. Those mindless puppets behind the curtain continue to dance to the tune. Ivan Stanislav dances for no one!
Still, Ivan isn’t winning over any converts. He’s roundly boo’d by the audience.
Nick Stuart: As a matter of fact, I will go on record for saying that PRIME is paying for all relevant medical bills related to the Jonathan Rhine situation.
Ivan Stanislav: If you people are too stupid to listen, then Ivan’s actions will speak louder than his words! Entire PRIME roster is cowering in the back, but there is nowhere they can hide. Each and every one of you back there, mark my words, if you are not part of The Red Army, you will be considered an enemy!
Stanislav stands in the middle of the ring and grows less animated, and more solemn. The boo’s continue.
Ivan Stanislav: Finally, I want to speak on something very important and serious, regardless of where you stand on whatever spectrum. Yes, there is conflict raging in Europe, and yes, brave boys and girls are losing their lives. I am veteran, I can relate to grave situation at hand.
Ivan nods his head. The crowd does silence slightly.
Ivan Stanislav: Which is why I simply wish to say that despite it all, I stand by my beautiful brothers and sisters in Russia. Ivan Stanislav stands wi—
The microphone cuts out as Ivan looks down at it. The crowd immediately erupts negatively towards Stanislav. Ivan stomps his foot and his face twists into a grimace as he shakes the mic. Alexei walks over and taps the mic with his hand. Nothing.
Nick Stuart: Folks, we must be having some sort of a technical problem with our microphone.
Ivan snarls and bellows and points off to the side of the ring, beckoning for another microphone. He hands the “faulty” one to Alexei, and catches another that is thrown in.
Ivan Stanislav: As I was saying, I stand by my bro—
Again, the mic cuts out. He snarls and looks down at the microphone and hollars into it, but to no avail. The Russian Bear gazes around the arena with frustration, before eyeing the box seats high up in the air.
Richard Palmer: This is the most dastardly censorship I have ever seen!
Nick Stuart: Do you agree with what he’s saying?
Richard Palmer: I… well… I mean… er….
Nick Stuart: Stanislav is looking around the arena now, and he doesn’t look happy.
Indeed, Stanislav eyes the fancy box seats that rise high above the general public. He grips the microphone, reels back, and launches the microphone through the air. It flies like a dart and smacks into one of the glass walls and disintegrates into plastic. The people inside instinctively drop to the floor as Ivan laughs.
Nick Stuart: I suspect he’s going to have to pay for that…
Stanislav stands defiant as the Soviet National Anthem blares through the arena one last time. The crowd doesn’t let up with their displeasure, and unfazed, the two Russians make their way out of the ring.
Richard Palmer: I wholeheartedly welcome The Red Army to PRIME. It’s about time!
Nick Stuart: So you’ll sacrifice your paycheck to split it evenly amongst everyone?
Richard Palmer: Well…
Nick Stuart: Either way, I don’t think we’ll be rid of these two for some time. What was this, a declaration of war? Against everyone? I guess only time will tell!
FOR THE LOVE OF GOOD
As we wrap up things with our comrade Ivan Stanislav, the big screen flickers on as the crowd draws their attention to a familiar graphic…
From there we cut to a montage of what appears to be the best chefs, cooks, and bakers around the world, before the voice of Randall Schwartz begins speaking in the background.
Randall Schwartz: We love food. Food is delicious. Food makes the world go round.
Randall’s voice is soon joined by that of his tag partner and social media influencer, Kenny Freeman.
Kenny Freeman: As the Masters of the Multiverse, we’re acutely aware of just how important food is. No matter where you are in this universe or the next, you need food to survive…that’s just science.
The scene shifts, focusing on the preparation of food in different types of kitchens and bakeries as Randall continues.
Randall Schwartz: So, we’ve decided to refocus our efforts, and help bring attention to the need for quality control when it comes to what you, the PRIMEates, put into your bodies when you join us for ReVival and supershows.
From here we cut to a shot of the B-Team themselves, smiles on their faces as they speak once more.
Kenny Freeman: Hi, I’m Kenny Freeman…
Randall Schwartz: …and I’m Randall Schwartz…
Kenny Freeman: And starting today, your Masters of the Multiverse B-Team stand here as your new PRIME Commissioners of Food and Beverage.
Randall Schwartz: Because we love food as much as you do, but we care about what you consume.
We stay on the shot of the B-Team as one final graphic appears in front of them:
MASTERS OF THE MULTIVERSE, B-TEAM…FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD
And with that, the big screen fades to black before we go back to ringside!
SAGE PONTIFF VS. ADAM ELLIS
“Satori Part II” by Flower Travelin’ Band echos over there PA system, signaling the arrival of ‘The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience’, Sage Pontiff. He strides out, arms spread wide. He walks to one side of the stage, offering a prayer and bow to the crowd. He moves to the other side, doing the same.
Pontiff casually strides down the ramp, occasionally pausing to chat with the audience or offer a prayer. He gets to the ring, rolling under the bottom rope and inside. He takes in the annoyed reaction from the crowd. He smiles and strides over to a corner. He rests an elbow on the top rope and flings his legs upward. He’s now laying across the corner, relaxing until his opponent makes his entrance.
Garrett Biggs’ “Mama Didn’t Raise No…” plays over the sound system and on the video screen, a video plays showing a series of wrestling trophies on a dresser next to an old high school football uniform that has ‘Ellis’ on the back.
An acoustic guitar plays and the vocals begin.
“Mama didn’t raise no… quitter- guaranteed to get the job done.”
Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear walk out from the back hand in hand and stand on the stage.
“She didn’t raise no SOB who that can’t back himself up – been known to throw a good punch.”
The video screen shows a series of action shots of Ellis from his various matches
“And this ol’ boy gets going when the going gets tough- sundown to sun up.”
Dressed in a t-shirt, jeans, and her feet wrapped in tape the former MMA prodigy nods her head causing her bright red hair to flip, and raises her left hand…
“Need a man with a helping hand – he’s always got one to lend.”
…and then brings it down as the chorus and full instrumentation hits- complete with pyro.
“Oh, I might be a little rough around the edges”
Adam’s wearing a pair of plain blue wrestling shorts. He starts forward down the ramp towards the ring followed by Van Lear.
“From the outside lookin’ in it might seem helpless.”
The couple reaches the ring. Adam holds the rope open so Ginny can slide through.
“I’ve been blessed with a strong backbone – I never coulda made it on my own”
Adam joins her in the ring.
“But if there’s one thing that I know – Momma didn’t raise no…”
Adam climbs up the top turnbuckle and holds up his arms
Nick Stuart: We’ve got an intriguing matchup between two of the newer members of PRIME here, Richard!
Richard Parker: That we do, Nick. Both guys are the same height, but Sage is giving up a bit of beef to Adam Ellis.
Nick Stuart: That could certainly play a factor in this battle.
Richard Parker: It could, but there’s something about Sage. I think he’s got a couple of tricks up his sleeve. Adam Ellis better be on his toes!
The crowd buzzes as the two circle each other. Ellis steps forward, but Sage calmly takes a step back and smirks. Another step forward, another subtle retreat. Both Ellis and the crowd show minor impatience with Sage. Pontiff turns towards the crowd and motions for them to calm down. He coolly steps forward. Adam goes to meet him, looking to engage in a lock up. Sage has other ideas, as he sends a mid kick to Adam’s ribs, stunning him!
Pontiff moves quick, snapping Ellis over with an arm drag. He recovers rapidly, but is flung back over with another arm drag. This time, Adam sits up but doesn’t climb to his feet. Sage squats down to look him in the eyes. He gives the Warrensburg native a smile and prayer hands. Ellis rolls his eyes while shaking his head and climbs to his feet.
Nick Stuart: Sage Pontiff showing off that quickness.
Richard Parker: He sure is. The kid can move when he feels like it!
Nick Stuart: I think he might be taking Ellis a bit too lightly. Adam is an accomplished athlete! He’ll have Pontiff tied up on the mat in no time if he’s not careful.
Richard Parker: Mind games, Nick! He’s got him right where he wants him!
Ellis recovers and again goes for the collar and elbow tie-up, successfully this time. He clamps on a side headlock in short order. Ellis wrenches on it, causing Pontiff to flail his arms wildly. Ellis gets a bit too complacent, allowing The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience to slip out behind him.
Sage takes this opportunity to fling forward with a wheel kick, smacking Ellis between the shoulder blades! Adam stumbles forward, discombobulated. Pontiff dashes towards the ropes springboarding off with a leg lariat that knocks Ellis to the ground!
Nick Stuart: Nice leg lariat there from Pontiff!
Richard Parker: He took a chance and it paid off. Kind of the opposite of you with the slots at the casino!
Nick Stuart: I wish I could say you’re wrong, but you’re not.
Sage quickly mounts Ellis, pounding him with a headbutt. Another follows, then another. Pontiff pauses, a devilish grin on his face. He folds house hands together, drawing boos from the unhappy audience. He goes for a fourth headbutt, but is met with a forearm to the jaw from the prone Ellis!
Another forearm knocks Sage off the mount and onto his backside. Ellis wrangles him down, locking in a modified STF! Elvis Nixon goes in to check for the submission, getting a negative from Sage. In between screams of pain, Pontiff… smiles?
Nick Stuart: Is he smiling?
Richard Parker: Hoooo boy, that kid ain’t right!
Nick Stuart: It’s certainly unnerving, watching someone seemingly enjoy getting beaten up.
Richard Parker: You usually have to pay for such a thing!
Pontiff tries to drag the two towards the ropes, with little luck. Ellis tightens up the facelock, causing more screams of agony from Sage. Pontiff’s arm raises, looking like he might tap! The crowd starts to buzz louder! Sage reaches that hand back to gouge Adam’s eyes! Ellis groans and releases the hold. Ginny Van Leer makes her displeasure with the cheating known to Elvis, who’s already warning Pontiff not to push his luck. Sage offers a prayer and an apology, not looking entirely sincere while doing so.
He gets to his feet, dropping a leg across Adam’s throat! Pontiff strolls over to the ropes, climbing onto the apron. As Ellis recovers, Pontiff jumps up onto the ropes. He wobbles though, almost losing his balance! He hurriedly flings himself off, but Adam has recovered at this point. He sidesteps the desperate Pontiff, grabbing the stumbling opponent with a waistlock. Ellis flings Sage backwards with a German Suplex, bridging for the pin!
Nick Stuart: Big move from Ellis! Picture perfect on that bridge, but Sage isn’t quite done yet!
Richard Parker: Pontiff better get his head back in the game! Ellis might be from Buckfutter, Nowhere but the guy has talent!
Ellis wastes no time pushing his advantage. He pulls Sage to his feet before sending him right back to the mat with a snap suplex! Adam jogs over to the corner, climbing to the top rope. He pauses for just a moment before flying off with an elbow drop! He forgoes a cover, backing up and taking a squat stance.
As Sage stumbles to his feet, Ellis charges. He jumps up in the air and rocks Pontiff’s jaw with a Superman Punch! Sage flies backward and onto the canvas. Adam tries to scurry over for a cover, but Sage tumbles out of the ring and onto the arena floor!
Nick Stuart: Oh man! That’s some bad luck for Adam Ellis. He might’ve had this won!
Richard Parker: Was it bad luck or did Sage take in his surroundings and get out of there?
Nick Stuart: I’m gonna go with bad luck. Sage has no idea where he is right now!
Pontiff crawls, using the time keeper’s table to get himself up. He leans on it to recover as Ellis is in hot pursuit. He grabs Pontiff, chucking him back into the ring. Once there, Adam fires up the crowd before closing in on Pontiff. He grabs his legs, looking to lock in his patented Elevated Boston Crab!
Sage knows he’s in trouble and starts to struggle. Looking for any escape, he reaches up and again rakes Adam’s eyes! This draws Ginny onto the apron to object. Nixon goes over to get her down. While that situation is going on, Sage reaches into his pocket…
Nick Stuart: What?! Pontiff just smashed Ellis in the jaw with the bell hammer! When did he even get that?!
Richard Parker: He must’ve grabbed it when he was resting on the time keeper’s table! I told you the kid was smart!
Sage tosses the hammer out of the ring just before Nixon turns around. He frantically waves Elvis over and goes for the cover!
There’s no ring bell, for obvious reasons.
Nick Stuart: That’s ridiculous! Sage Pontiff should be ashamed of himself!
Richard Parker: Hey Nick, a win’s a win!
COMMERCIAL: SHOOT PROJECT
ONE (1) MANNEQUIN WAS HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS SEGMENT
Back from commercial, and the camera pans into an area backstage at the Grand Garden Arena. The Anglo Luchador appears on screen, seated on a big production chest, wearing a brand new Fighting for Jonathan t-shirt along with khaki shorts, sneakers, the Intense Championship strapped ‘round his waist, and his lucha mask. To his left (the viewers’ right), there is a mannequin’s head impaled on a pike. Worry not, friends, the mannequin head does not belong to El Hijo del Super Cool Guy, who is resting safely somewhere in this great land of ours.
TAL: Hey guys, it’s me again, Richard Parker’s favorite wrestler, the Intense Champion, the slayer of Balaam, and the face of PRIME in the Phoenix Wrestling Alliance, The Anglo Luchador.
He bunny hops off the chest and stretches slightly to shake the inertia out of his system.
TAL: You might be wondering how I did a few nights ago, in case you were on a business trip or are recovering from Hurricane Ian down in Florida, or you went on a vision quest into the desert high on peyote. All of them are valid reasons, but I told the world I was going to come back with a head on a pike, and well…
He splays his arm to his left and presents his effigy of a conquest like the world’s homeliest Vanna White.
TAL: Now, because the laws of man still apply here in wrestling, I can’t say I literally killed and brought back the man’s head, but an effigy will do, mainly because I did what I said I was going to do. He put up enough of a fight for me to call him by his real name, Jace Parker Davidson, so, allow me to address the man.
The luchador smirks.
TAL: Bart Harley Jarvis, like I said, I don’t give a crap if you learned a lesson when I went into your home turf, took a pound of your flesh, and pinned you on your flagship show with my finisher, without any help, with maybe a dozen people in the arena even wanting me to win. I doubt you will because you seem like the kind of guy who keeps rolling along in a bubble where wins are owed to you and losses are flukes. My only request to you is that since you don’t have the moral authority to demand that GREAT SCOTT wins as a condition of keeping him supplied with his fix? You give him all the Liquid STRONKUMMS he wants, and you do it without a squeak, lest you want me to come back there and give you a swirly.
The Intense Champion tries the ol’ “two for flinching” step-to at the camera.
TAL: The lesson was always meant for anyone else with two or more brain cells they could rub together, be it in your own locker room or at SHOOT Project, Sanctioned Violence Organization, or Missouri Valley Wrestling. If anyone thinks they can call the thunder down, you had better have your lightning rods in good repair. I told you all that PRIME Wrestling was the benchmark, and I was her vanguard. Words mean jack and shit in this business without actions, but luckily for all of you, I walk the walk too. Again, this was a warning shot across the bow of the entire PWA. You think you’re a King of Everything? Think again. Not only is the PWA PRIME’s personal playground, I am the gamesmaster. We don’t mess around. Now, onto more current affairs…
The luchador clears his throat.
TAL: …I have claimed the Mask of Malice back from Hoyt Williams, kept the Intense Championship, and gone off to distant lands to tilt at a man with an IQ lower than a windmill. What is next for The Anglo Luchador? Well, I’ve seen the runsheet for tonight’s show. I have some business I need to attend to coming up in, oh, a few minutes now. What kind of business? Well, I don’t want to blow up any spots before they happen. Just know that it has a lot to do with the name on the front of my shirt, but those roots have a much longer creep than recent events. I’m a fighting Champion, after all. I am not waiting for people to come to me. I have scores to settle, and I’m going out to collect. You don’t like it? Don’t cross me then. Until then, well, take a long look at the head on the pike. It might be made of plastic, but believe me, what it symbolizes isn’t good for the next person who wants to make an enemy of the PRIME Intense Champion.
The luchador walks off as the camera pans in on the mannequin head, which has “Bart Harley Jarvis” written on the forehead in red Sharpie.
If it looks like Mark, the backstage assistant responsible for trying (and mostly failing) to keep King Blueberry in check, has pissed himself for a second straight show, well, there’s a reason for that.
Her partner would tell you that the eyes of Reina Raspberry function like a tractor beam, and once you’re caught you might as well give up, because the alternative is being blasted down into your component atoms by her wrath. The thing about her mask is that it only covers the upper half of her face, and her eyes are visible through it. Right now, they’re locked onto Mark.
Reina Raspberry: So you don’t know where he went? Don’t have any idea?
Backstage Assistant Mark: N-no.
Reina Raspberry: Mark, I’m not trying to be an ass about this, but aren’t you kind of supposed to know these things?
Mark looks at the floor.
Backstage Assistant Mark: Yes.
Reina Raspberry: Okay, well if you see…
She pauses, as a familiar silhouette begins making his way down the hall. That’s when the mood shifts. If Mark was anxious before, he ain’t seen nothing yet.
Reina Raspberry: Where the fuck have you been?!
The Blueberry doesn’t break his stride, simply continuing down the hall towards his destination.
King Blueberry: Needed to clear my head. Got pretty worked up earlier, and I didn’t want to take that into the match with Hanlon. He’s not the enemy. He doesn’t need to deal with the fall-out from… that.
Reina Raspberry: Well thanks for cluing me in on what you were going to do, but I guess that’s just the way you operate lately, isn’t it? Not telling me shit. First you show up on High Octane, then you actually go to one of their shows, and now you’re picking a fight with the guy who…
She cuts herself off, not wanting to finish that sentence.
Reina Raspberry: Seriously, Jared, what the fuck are you thinking?!
For his part, he doesn’t stop moving, and still continues on his path towards the locker room they share. This is the latest in a string of very bad decisions on his part.
Reina Raspberry: Oh no, we’re having this conversation now.
King Blueberry: I’d really rather not.
Reina Raspberry: And I really don’t give a shit.
As soon as he’s in the locker room, she reaches up and pulls the mask from her face in one swift motion
Reina Raspberry: And take that stupid thing off. I’m not having this conversation with you dressed like a clown.
The camera starts to follow, until a door is slammed mere inches from the lens.
AH DO ME RAY
“You think I’m funny… Funny how?”
The unmistakable voice of Joe Pesci irritates the eardrums right before Metallica’s ‘Better Than You’ begins to blast through the PA System, the calling card of Tony ‘The Grin’ Gamble. He walks out at the same time the music kicks in, Domingo Cruz and Frank Pastore on either side. All three men are wearing black shirts with #ADOREME in white Comic Sans font across the front. The three men make their way down the ramp and toward the ring once the lyrics of the song kick in.
I look at you, then you me
Hungry and thirsty are we
Holding the lion’s share
Holding the key
Holding me back ’cause I’m striving to be
Footage from ReVolution 94 when Gamble locked The Illustrious Face Eater into his ‘Smile For Me’ submission and won the Internet Title.
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
The Gamble Adoration Syndicate take their time walking up the ring steps, Gamble stares into the ring for a few seconds with his left hand on the top rope, before ducking between the top and middle rope to step into the ring. Footage from The Great American Nightmare event of 2007, where Tony Gamble managed to outwit Wade Elliott to win the Intense Title.
Lock horns, I push and I strive
Some how I feel more alive
Bury the need for it
Bury the seed
Bury me deep when there’s no will to be
Another clip shows, this one from the Great American Nightmare; where Tony Gamble became the Five Star Champion by pinning Chandler Tsonda.
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
The booing from the crowd seems to get louder as the music fades away. Tony nods his head for a few moments, then brings the mic to his lips.
Tony Gamble: I know how you all feel, I’m just as unhappy with the way things went down at UltraViolence too. And believe me, I don’t plan on letting he who we shall not call by name off the hook. Oh no, I plan on making it a priority to see to it that he pays for what he did. No one should take things so far that another man’s livelihood is at risk. That is unacceptable, and the price he pays for that is going to be a hefty one. But enough about him for a moment, because his time will come.
He lowers the microphone long enough to bring his free hand to his face and wipe at his eyes quickly.
Tony Gamble: Right now I want to take a moment to thank all of you that sent me get well soon cards and fruit arrangements. I want to say thank you for taking time out of your day to send me JibJab’s that brought a smile to my face, and an even bigger thank you to everyone that is doing their part to keep hashtag adore me trending on all social media platforms. I know that you all adore me, but ladies I want to send a special thank you for all the choice photos of yourselves in slightly revealing lingerie. It is you that truly lifted my spirits, and helped me get through a really trying time.
He stops again, shaking his head for a moment as he once again wipes at his eyes. This time though, Domingo walks over and hands him a handkerchief. Tony takes it and you can slightly hear him say thank you before bringing the microphone back to his lips.
Tony Gamble: Speaking of trying times, I think some of you are aware that my dear old friend Jonathon Rhine got hurt at UltraViolence. It’s a terrible situation that he has been put in, and the four of us would like him to know that we are…
The Grin realizes that there are only two other people in the ring with him.
Tony Gamble: Oh, that’s right, we have yet to introduce you to the newest member of the Gamble Adoration Syndicate… Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, please join me in welcoming…..
The sounds of Dean Martin fill the arena as “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You” is played. A couple of seconds pass. Then a couple more. Finally, Mortimer Kjedelig emerges sporting his black and teal tracksuit. “G.A.S.” is emblazoned on both the back of his tracksuit as well as his mask. He slowly makes his way to the ring, eyeing Tony Gamble through the mask. Mortimer enters the ring and leans into the microphone so he is eye to eye with “The Grin”.
Mortimer Kjedelig: So, here we are, eyes to nose. You beat me. I admit it, I got beat by a pocket paisan. I ain’t gonna bitch and moan about it. I lost. And if there’s one thing in this shitty life I’ve learned, it’s when you lose, you deal with the fuckin’ shit that goes with it. Here I am with Gamble Ascertaition Syndicate or whatever it is befuddled all over my gear! I’m even wearin’ this fuckin’ t-shirt!
Mortimer Kjedelig unzips the tracksuit jacket and removes it revealing the t-shirt that reads “#ADOREME” and respectfully takes the microphone from Tony Gamble. He looks down at the t-shirt he’s wearing and then back up to Tony.
Mortimer Kjedleig: “AH DO RAY ME”. What the fuck does that even mean? What’re we, some kinda barbershop quartet now? I can’t sing for shit otherwise I’d be doin’ “Guys and Dolls” on Broadway.
Mortimer Kjedelig looks at Tony, Tony looks at Mortimer. Domingo looks at Mortimer, then looks at Tony, and then looks at Mortimer. Frank looks at his shoes. They are loafers.
Mortimer Kjedelig: So, what’s it gonna be Tony-Tony-Tone-Tone? You changin’ my name de plum here or what? What’s it gonna be? ‘Cause I fuckin’ know you’re not usin’ any of my ass kickin’ names. The world’s waitin’. You gonna call me Fuckface Shitterbottom? Come on, Tone! How ya gonna humiliate me now? Huh? Morty Mossyballs? Jerk-Off Jerry? What’s my fuckin’ name Tony?
Tony motions to Domingo who pulls out an envelope and hands it to Mortimer Kjedelig. Mortimer opens it and begins reading.
Mortimer Kjedelig: “Player’s choice. ‘The Full Monty’ Montgomery Kuh-Jedi-Lig or Mortimer Knightingale.” You pricky shit! If I’m forced to choose….I guess….Mortimer Knightingale….
Tony Gamble: You’re welcome.
Gamble turns back to the crowd, that damn grin turned all the way up to max.
Tony Gamble: While it’s nice to have another smiling face adoring me, along with everyone here and the hundreds watching from home, tonight isn’t all about me. No, we’re here to show support for a fallen friend.
The Permascar Superstar hands the microphone to Knightingale, and removes his #ADOREME shirt to reveal another underneath. One that gets a very negative response from the crowd.
It has #STANDINGFORJON across the front.
Tony holds his hand up to quell the crowd, but it doesn’t work very well.
Tony Gamble: I know, it upsets me too. A few days ago I got this cramp in my calf. It hurt so bad I didn’t think I would ever be able to walk again, so not only do I know how much pain Rhine felt when he and Paxton had their little falling out – I’m proof that there is a silver lining to what happ…
Voice behind the curtain: Alright, alright, that’s enough outta you, Wingtips.
No music tonight, just The Anglo Luchador in his Fighting for Jonathan shirt, shorts, and, of course, the Intense Championship wrapped around his waist like a good tecnico wears a title belt.
TAL: Look, I know you think everything’s funny haha. I get it. I like japes too. For example, you watch television, Tony? Of course you don’t. You’re too busy doing legitimate business things.
Gamble’s smile turns upside down. At least the one he can control.
TAL: I get it though. Some men just want to watch the world burn. You’re one of them. The biggest problem is even though there’s a lot wrong with this world, with PRIME, I think it’s worth saving.
Roar from the crowd.
TAL: It doesn’t hurt that you keep wantonly firing shots in my direction or in the direction of people I care about. There’s the matter of this Intense Championship, how you keep taking credit for this. I felt bad about it for a while. But after going through wars with John Boy and Larry Tact? I earned this title through blood and steel. Then had to go and be a chauvinist on Jabber to a woman who left the company after her man breached his contract.
A big “ooh” rises up from the crowd now.
TAL: Regardless of your opinion on that couple? Telling a woman to go make a sandwich when this company has several talented women who can and have hung with the men on this roster? Real scumbag shit, Tone. But it’s these shots at Jon Rhine, man. I can take you screwing with me. This is wrestling. I need thirty hands to count how many times someone did me wrong in the ring, either through attacks or tainting an accomplishment. People not in the company, who cares, they’re gone. But Jon Rhine? The man is in a hospital bed right now and you gotta take shots.
Boos rain down on Gamble.
TAL: King Blueberry has the main issue fighting for Jon. I’ll take this ancillary battle, because Wingtips? I’m sick of you. I need to shut you up, and there’s only one place that can happen. In that ring you’re standing in.
Big cheer rises up.
Nick Stuart: The Intense Champion, laying down the gauntlet!
Richard Parker: This man trying to pick a fight with the ma… err, I mean a legitimate business?
TAL: So, how about it? You, me, and leave all those Duprees in the back. Let’s settle this, Hall of Famer to Future Hall of Famer.
Tony Gamble: That sounds like a fabulous idea. You let me know which future hall of famer you want to represent you, and I’ll… Oh, you’re talking about yourself, that’s cute.
Tony walks over to the ropes and leans on them with his forearms.
Tony Gamble: But you know what… you’re on. Next week, you and I go one on one for the Intense title. Say your goodbye’s now, because you’re looking at the soon to be two-time Intense Title champion.
TAL: I get the feeling my dance card is punched, but even if we can’t do it next week, why don’t you save the date for Colossus?
The crowd roars at the suggestion.
TAL: But whether it’s at ReVival 17 or in Madison Square Garden, I’m gonna get me a pound of your legitimate businessperson flesh, capice?
The Intense Champion stares daggers at Gamble as he tosses the microphone to the commentary desk and walks back to Argyle position. Tony just smiled as he motions for the rest of the Gamble Adoration Syndicate to exit the ring as we cut to the backstage area.
WHAT A PEACH YOU ARE
Simon Tillier looks as snazzy as ever backstage with microphone in hand, eager as a beaver for what’s coming next.
Simon Tillier: Ladies and gentlemen, at ULTRAVIOLENCE we saw one of the most heated rivalries in PRIME come to a head as two future stars, Nate Colton and FLAMBERGE, took things to the next-
(off-camera): Non non non, hold it right there, vous bébé mésange d’un homme.
FLAMBERGE steps into frame, wearing a khaki wool turtleneck with a gold chain, white pleated slacks, and thick black sunglasses. Tillier looks nervously excited to get his first question in.
Simon Tillier: FLAMBO, the world wants to know-
FLAMBERGE grabs the microphone and pulls it to his face, Tillier’s hand still desperately holding onto its handle underneath the Frenchman’s grip.
FLAMBERGE: I KNOW what the world wants to know. They want to know how my game that is the big talk had the bad result, non? They want to know how I feel about le fils de pute Nate Colton getting his hand raised and our little parking lot conversation, non? I GIVE NOT THE SHIT WHAT THE WORLD WANTS, TILLIER!
Simon is taken aback and tries pulling the microphone closer to get a word in – he’s not winning this test of strength.
FLAMBERGE: FLAMBERGE only gives the damn for what the FLAMBERGE wants, and right now, it is the three things. The first, is the health and the recovery of the person who is most the near and the dear to the hearts of many of us backstage, and the fans at the home…
Simon Tillier: Of course, we are all praying for Jonath-
FLAMBERGE: Phil Atken – je jure devant Dieu, Tillier, interrupt me again and see what happens to you, je vais t’apprendre à la dure si tu ne fermes pas ta gueule.
FLAMBERGE: The second is for the Nate Colton to enjoy his petit instant while he can – he knows as well as I do that this thing is not the finished. And the third…
He looks over at Tillier.
FLAMBERGE: No interruption? I have your the permission? GREAT, THANKS SIMON, WHAT A PEACH YOU ARE. The third…le troisième.
He removes his thick sunglasses – he has bandages over the bridge of his nose and his eyes are swollen and bruised from the events of the post-ULTRAVIOLENCE press conference.
FLAMBERGE: The third is for the pain in the FLAMBERGE’s asshole Brandon Youngblood to understand that the smug arrogant bastard that thinks he is the cock in the henhouse has days as the face of this PRIME brand that are numbered. He wants every wrestler in the back to quake like une petite feuille at the mere thought of getting in his way, and he abuses this aura to keep himself on the top of this place while his little dogs like Nate Colton see this abuse as “dues”. DUES.
FLAMBERGE spits on the ground.
FLAMBERGE: Decades of the tenure be damned, it is the same reason the America is in the shit shape it is in, what with your 80 year old senators who think the Jabber is a dance boxers do. The old warhorses of wrestling can only become useful when they become the glue. I waited too long before deciding it was time to beat the shit out of my own daddy, but mark this, and make sure your handsome shithead little son sees this, Youngblood – I will NOT wait too long to beat the shit out of the Suplex Daddy.
FLAMBERGE finally relinquishes his grip on the microphone and storms off. The back of Tillier’s palm is bright white, then flush pink in the spots where FLAMBERGE’s grip overlapped his hand.
Simon Tillier: …I guess it’s back to you, Nick and Richard!
SHAWN WARSTEIN VS. IVAN STANISLAV
Our scene fades from backstage
Nick Stuart: What a treat we have for you next. Ivan Stanislav is coming off a hard fought loss to Hayes Hanlon.
Richard Parker: And Shawn Warstein beat Buster Gloves up. Who cares?
“The Soviet National Anthem” by the Russian Red Army Choir erupts as Ivan Stanislav and Alexei Rulsan emerge from the backstage area.
Vince Howard: Coming down the aisle, hailing from Arkhangelsk, Russia, standing seven-feet one inches tall and weighing in at 400 lbs. IVVVVAAAAAAAAAAN STAAAAAAAANISLAAAAAAV!
Stanislav and Ruslan raise their arms, side by side, roar at the crowd, and pointedly make their way towards the ring. Stanislav points and jaws at several fans along the way, while Ruslan points and hawks at the greatness of the Russian Bear. Stanislav steps over the top rope and thunders into the ring. He raises his arms over his head and bellows at the camera.
Nick Stuart: Ivan looks impressive.
Richard Parker: And here comes Warstein. A winner.
Vince Howard: And his opponent from Chicago, Illinois, standing six-feet four inches tall and weighing 234 lbs… SHAAAAAAAAAAWN WAAAAAAAAAAAAAARSTEIN!
“Centuries Remix” by Fall Out Boy and Juicy J hits as Warstein walks out and looks around at the crowd. Once again the crowd boos, but this time the reactions are mixed. The hatred for the russian clearly outweighs the hatred for Shawn Warstein. Warstein smirks into the camera, and makes his way to the ring. Several fans reach out to touch him, but he dodges their hands on the way to the ring.
Nick Stuart: Timo checks over both competitors.
Richard Parker: I don’t trust him. I think he’s a communist like Stanislav.
Nick Stuart: He’s literally a millionaire.
Richard Parker: Communist in disguise.
Warstein is patient off the bat, Stanislav charges across the ring and Warstein gets out of the way of the enormous bear. Stanislav turns around and heads back across the ring right at Warstein. Shawn once again steps to the side and Stanislav smacks the top turnbuckle and roars, he turns around pointing a figure at Warstein who simply smirks back at him.
Nick Stuart: Smart strategy by Warstein.
Richard Parker: Strategy of a winner.
Stanislav turns towards Timo and begins yelling at Timo and pointing towards Warstein. Shawn walks out of the corner to the middle of the ropes. Timo shrugs his shoulders at Stanislav and the enormous Russian charges once again. This time Warstein grabs the top rope and drops to the ground, letting Stanislav spill over the top rope to the outside. The seven footer lands on his feet, but Warstein is quick to follow him outside.
Richard Parker: See a winner! He’s already beating Ivan!
Warstein steps onto the apron and jumps off with a double axe handle, dropping his combined fists across the top of Stanislav’s head. Stanislav wobbles backwards, Warstein rips off a knife edge chop and Stanislav staggers.
Warstein pulls back again and unloads a second knife edge chop to Ivan’s chest, and the big man staggers backwards up against the ring post.
Warstein fires a right hand, then a second one.
The big Russian still won’t fall, Warstein backs up to the barrier and charges in with a forearm.
Stanislav steps out of the way and Warstein crashes forearm first into the ring post.
Warstein walks away holding his arm while the big Russian bear holds his chest.
Warstein turns around and Ivan smashes him with one of his huge right hands. Warstein hits the deck immediately and Stanislav smirks.
The big man reaches down and drags Warstein to his feet, he lifts him up in the air with a two handed military press.
Richard Parker: Oh he’s really strong…
Stanislav tosses Warstein back into the ring over the top rope.
Nick Stuart: What strength by Stanislav.
Stanislav rolls under the bottom rope, but Warstein is already up and on his feet. Ivan starts to get up, but Warstein starts raining down right hands across Stanislav’s face. The big man powers through the pain and tries to continue to his feet.
Richard Parker: Things are looking a little rough for Warstein.
Nick Stuart: He’s fighting an actual giant.
Warstein unloads a kick to the kneeling big man’s midsection and then grabs his head, planting him to the canvas with a DDT. Warstein, now with some control, drops a closed fist from six-feet four inches in the air across Ivan’s forehead. Warstein jumps to his feet and drops another closed fist. He grabs Ivan and hooks the leg.
Richard Parker: Well…
Ivan tosses Warstein across the ring as a kick out. Ivan gets to his knees again, and Warstein runs over trying to throw right hands. Stanislav shoves Warstein across the ring back to the corner. Warstein looks shocked as the big man gets to his feet. Shawn storms back in with right hands and kicking Stanislav in the midsection. Stanislav once again shrugs him off and throws him across the ring. Stanislav finally gets to his feet.
Nick Stuart: Ivan looks upset.
Richard Parker: Very.
Ivan storms across the ring and Warstein manages to slip under his grasp. Warstein runs and hits the ropes and comes back with a clothesline. Stanislav is barely staggered and grabs Warstein by the throat. Warstein fights back, knocking the big man’s grip away and slipping around behind Stanislav with a hammerlock. Warstein dives for the knee of Stanislav with a chop block.
Richard Parker: THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! WINNING MAN SHAWN WARSTEIN!
Nick Stuart: Warstein is a smart wrestler, he’s proved that all over the world. Sure he’s struggled a little here in PRIME, but the man can go.
Ivan stumbles forward into the turnbuckle, Warstein looks shocked that the brute didn’t fall at least to a knee. Warstein jumps to his feet and follows Stanislav into the corner with a back elbow that sends the Soviet Bear right back into the corner. Stanislav leans against the ropes as Warstein unloads with shoulder shots to the big man’s midsection. Stanislav folds and Warstein backs off. Warstein runs into the corner as fast as he can, and jumps as high as he can…
Richard Parker: Oh shit.
Nick Stuart: STANISLAV CAUGHT WARSTEIN!
Warstein is scrambling mid air, kicking his feet and legs, but Stanislav’s grip is tight. Warstein tries to get free but Stanislav smiles as he lifts the smaller man up higher into the air. He lets go, letting Warstein fall out of the sky, and the enormous russian absolutely takes his head off with a lariat sending Warstein skidding across the canvas. Stanislav marches over, and walks across Warstein’s downed body. He hits the ropes, and drops a four hundred plus pound leg across Warstein’s neck.
Richard Parker: So, back in the motherland.
Nick Stuart: What?
Richard Parker: Well you know, mother Russia.
Nick Stuart: You’re a communist now?
Richard Parker: I’m a winner.
Ivan reaches down and pulls Warstein to his feet, Warstein is still wobbly from The Iron Curtain. Stanislav lifts him up, and throws him to the canvas with The Red Scare. Warstein thuds off the canvas. Stanislav marches over and pins Warstein, smiling ear to ear.
Richard Parker: Hurry up Nick, we gotta stand for this.
Alexei Ruslan slides into the ring behind Stanislav and smiles. The National Anthem of the Soviet Union hits and Alexei raises Ivan’s arm as high as he can, Stanislav does the rest.
Vince Howard: You’re winner by pinfall. Ivan STTTAAAAANISLAAAAAV!
The Soviet National Anthem plays to the loud jeers of the PRIMEates as Ivan leaves the ring victorious.
Nick Stuart: Tough break for Shawn Warstein here tonight. But, The Russian Bear was just too much.
Warstein gets to his feet, shaking his head and then…
The music cuts off abruptly as the lights blink out, plunging the arena into total darkness. A murmur winds its way through the crowd in the silence.
The Dark Horse
The Dark Horse
The voice of Blues Saraceno brings an ominous feeling, no instrumental accompanying the lyrics just before the lights flicker and return to the arena.
Standing on the ring apron are Patience Montgomery, Decius Montgomery, and Isaac – each Family member on one side of the ring. The boos rain down heavily as The Patriarch himself stands in the ring, directly in front of Shawn Warstein.
Nick Stuart: What’s this? Jacob Mephisto and his Family are here!
Richard Parker: I don’t know what they want here, Nick, but it’s pretty obvious that Mephisto has some interest in Warstein.
Mephisto steps in closer, but Warstein doesn’t budge. Mephisto tilts his head to the side slightly, almost curiously. The All-Father slowly walks around Warstein, seemingly sizing him up.
Nick Stuart: This is just odd.
As Mephisto completes his revolution around his quarry, Shawn Warstein smiles. The Patriarch nods once. The lights go dark again for a few moments. When they come back on, Warstein is alone in the ring, a single, small, black stone sitting at his feet. He looks down at it for a moment before shrugging his shoulders and picking up the stone as we cut away.
LIFE IS LIKE A BOX OF BANDITS
ReVival comes back to life after the commercial break and picks up with a zoom-in on the newly ordained Bandits luxury box, aka eGG Den 2.0, aka Champion’s Advantage, aka Bandit Jail, aka Owner’s Box.
Nick Stuart: From rags to riches this bunch. Then again, Jiles does have a jet.
Richard Parker: Fuck him and the horse he rode in on. Whatever its name was.
Bobby and Dooze are sitting down next to each other. Dooze, the old curmudgeon, looks perturbed by the amount of popcorn Bobby has spilled on him. Bobby meanwhile, is glowing a beautiful hue, or he’s just been wiping his buttery hands on his face. A few seats down from them, because his ego needs the space, is Cancer Jiles. Jiles, whose hair and T-Shades game remain unrivaled, has one-half of the heads of PRIME security, Dametreyus, standing closely behind him. Timo, dressed for success, paces in the background in preparation for the night’s main event or because Jiles’ cackle has broken him.
And seated wayyyyy off in the last seat, barely visible, in fact only visible because of the UNIVERSAL Championship’s luster, is Lady Troy herself.
She ain’t smiling, either.
Richard Parker: Poor Dame. Talk about bitch duty.
Nick Stuart: What!?!
Richard Parker: He’ll die before Jiles goes anywhere with that belt.
Nick Stuart: Oh.
Richard Parker: What did you think I meant?
The show feed quickly switches to outside the luxury box where both Four and Five of the Enemigos are posted up. Angelica Books is also there, and trying to get a word with the newly crowned UNIVERSAL Champion; presumably to ask him how he is doing, if his body is on the mend, and if he still plans to spurn PRIME and never wrestle there again. However, despite her best pleading, even she is turned away by security.
Nick Stuart: The Enemigos aren’t playing around and I can’t blame them. If Jiles were to escape under their watch, Lindsay Troy would make a fajita out of them. And not a magical one.
Richard Parker: I’m sure if Jiles grabbed the belt and “jumped” from his penalty box in some attempt to escape that Mom really wouldn’t care. As long as he didn’t land on a fan and break both his legs.
The shot goes back to the zoomed-in view of the luxury box. Jiles, now with a silver platter full of grapes in his grasp, is stuffing himself like a ravenous COOLympian Emperor. He wildily chews with his mouth obnoxiously agape, causing both the juices and fruit bits to seemingly bleed down his chin.
Richard Parker: Can you believe this man is the UNIVERSAL Champion? Make it make sense. Please. I’m begging you. Nova. Hoyt. Brandon. Fuck, even Wade. Someone. Anyone. Do the right thing. He deserves it.
Nick Stuart: We’re all just as thrilled about it as you are. Still, to play devil’s advocate, it doesn’t change the fact that since PRIME reopened no one has bled more, no one has suffered more, no has taken more punishment than Cancer Jiles has. Yet, there he sits, spitting grapes, the star of the show… our UNIVERSAL Champion.
Richard Parker: This is going to be a long road to Colossus. Maybe longest ever. JUMP YOU SHITLORD! JUMP!
The shot cuts away before Jiles can make an inappropriate gesture which would not have gone over well with the Beltkeeper.
TAKE YOUR STAGE
As the camera shifts from the eGG Bandits in their luxury box, we zoom out to a hallway backstage, where a monitor finishes showing the previous segment.
As it zooms out further, we find Hayes Hanlon watching with his arms crossed over his chest, curling a lip and shaking his head slowly. Boots and tights are on, the black dress shirt with the rolled up sleeves remains, and the MGM crowd off-camera lets ‘em know.
“Don’t let it get to you, kid.”
Hayes looks over to his right, and the Risen Star enters the scene, patting Hayes on the shoulder. Again, the Arena lets ‘em know.
Hayes Hanlon: (Snorting) Third time’s a charm, I guess.
Nova laughs, sparking a cigarette.
Nova: Get used to it, Hayes. I’ve dealt with enough guys like Jiles to know that if one thing’s for sure? It’s that they’ll always worm their way into the spotlight. It’s only a matter of time before they get their hands on the gold.
Hayes mulls it over, black mustache twitching a touch.
Hayes Hanlon: I guess we were screwed anyway. Glue Factory. eGG Bandits. MESSIAH. We were gonna eat a shit sandwich any way you slice it.
Nova chuckles, taking a drag and exhaling a plume.
Nova: Yup. Only thing to do is take the stage you’re given and send them a message.
Hanlon turns to the Starchild.
Hayes Hanlon: Kinda like you and Youngblood.
Nova tilts his head and shrugs, knowingly.
Hayes Hanlon: That was huge, man.
Nova: A long time coming with that one, but that could’ve gone either way at any given moment. Brandon put up a hell of a fight.
Hayes Hanlon: Yeah, but Youngblood’s already let the world know that he’s still got it. You were caught up with Survivor for so long…and that MESSIAH crap in your match with Knox…
The rookie pauses, and lifts that ‘stache into a genuine grin.
Hayes Hanlon: …it was good to see you knock off the rest of the rust.
Nova: (Pointing his cigarette at Hayes) Watch it. I won’t take any “old man” jokes.
As if on cue, the gravelly voice that can only belong to PRIME’s resident Bad Dog hollers down the hall, and Wade Elliott pops into view on the other end, looking none-too impressed. He darts his sharp blue eyes to Hayes and Nova and curls in his lips.
Nova: Speaking of old men…
Wade Elliott: God-damnit, Caesar!! You said you were goin’ t’ take a quick piss!! Been sittin’ back there with my thumb up my ass fer fifteen minutes! You ain’t gettin’ out’ve this Rummy match, I’ve got a pure sequence goin’!
The Risen Star laughs, holding a finger up to the Blue Collar Brawler to buy him a moment.
Nova: Better get back to the babysitter. But hey man, that stage is yours tonight…
He points back to the screen, a quick “Tale of the Tape” shot between Hanlon and King Blueberry for their Main Event match later in the evening.
Nova: …go send your message.
Starchild gives the Event Horizon one more thump on the back before retreating to his keeper down the hall. Hayes watches the screen intently as it shifts back to the luxury box for one last shot of the Bandits and their antics. He nods to himself with a sly grin before we shift elsewhere.
ONE LAST TOUR
Fireworks explode all around the MGM-Grand Arena and “Death Grip” by Watt White engulfs the arena in sound.
And I’m fire
Nick Stuart: We’ve heard rumblings the last few days that Dusk was in town and here he is!
Richard Parker: And why? I thought he retired.
Nick Stuart: Well, you know, he came up victorious against Larry Tact and wants to say his farewells I imagine.
Richard Parker: Buh-Bye! See you later! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Even if he does look good in those slacks.
Nick Stuart: Alright, calm down tiger.
Dusk emerges from the backstage area wearing a pair of baby blue slacks and a white t-shirt that says ‘FIGHTING FOR JONATHAN’. He makes his way down the ramp, high-fiving the fans on his way down before he slides into the ring.
Richard Parker: Okay, thanks you came, now go home.
Nick Stuart: Oh calm down.
Dusk walks around the ring as the fans continue to chant his name.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
A smile appears on his face as he walks to the ring apron and graciously accepts the microphone a stagehand is offering him. He holds the microphone in his left hand while slipping his right hand into a pocket on his baby blue slacks. He walks around the ring, the same smile on his face before standing in the center of the ring, tilting his head up slightly, and closes his eye.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
He places the microphone to his lips.
Dusk: Man, does that sound good.
He lowers his head, looks out at the fans again, and nods subtly.
Dusk: It is that sound, the sound of your voices that has willed me on, night after night, city after city for the majority of my career. It didn’t matter if we had seventeen people in attendance or sixty thousand. It was all the same to me because you were the reason I fought through pain, fought through torture, battled against the best this sport has ever put in front of me, and continued to push forward without pause.
The fans roar at the top of their lungs as Dusk moves to the edge of the ring, removes his hand from his pockets, and rests his forearms against the top rope.
Dusk: You all have stood by me for the past thirty years and have reminded me why I do this time and time again. You all stood by me two weeks ago in this very building and continued to chant my name as I battled against Larry Tact—
Dusk: —to victory.
Dusk: And I have to hand it to Larry, he pushed me to my limits and while he’s a little pissant, I also respect that he brought everything he could into that ring to give me the fight for my life. I hope he learned something from that match, because I sure did. I learned that there’s still some life in these old bones of mine. That maybe, just maybe, I could still perform in this ring like I used to.
He walks around the ring, the fans continue to cheer him on.
Dusk: Still, that doesn’t negate the health risks that I’m facing when I do step inside of this ring. The risks that have the doctors in the back worried and warning me of what could happen if I suffer another concussion. I would be lying to every single one of you if I told you that watching what Paxton Ray did to Jonathan Rhine didn’t only make me sick to my stomach, but make me think twice because of the risk we all take when we do the very thing we love most.
RHINE! RHINE! RHINE! RHINE! RHINE!
A smile appears on Dusk’s face as he nods his head.
Dusk: He’s going to need your love each and every day moving forward, and if I know Jon, I know just because an asshole like Paxton did everything in his power to break him that there is no breaking the spirit of The New Life.
Dusk: But that’s not my battle, that’s for Jon and Jared to figure out. No, for me, tonight is about what tomorrow brings and whether or not I’ve stepped foot into this ring for the last time. Are you all ready for some real talk?
The fans respond in agreement. He knew they would.
Dusk: Good, good. Because when I stepped out here into the ring with Tact, I fully intended for that to be my final match. Part of me was ready for it to be my final match. I went home and I prepared for a trip to Japan with my family. Then, I got a call. From the Boss-Lady of PRIME. And she had an intriguing offer for me.
Dusk lowers the microphone as he walks around the ring before he pauses in the center of the ring.
Dusk: That offer was simple. To not let my match against Larry Tact to be my final match. That if I wanted a true final match, that Lindsay Troy would provide one for me. As she put it, to have a real Colossus moment fitting for me to close my career out on. To have a farewell tour over the next few Revivals. To finish my career the right way.
Dusk: And I can’t begin to tell you how excited I got about the prospect. Because I knew I still have something left in the tank and part of me wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet. To be honest, I half expected Lindsay to yell ‘SIKE’ into the phone and hang up. You see, Lindsay and I, we haven’t had the smoothest of roads together. While we’ve only stood across the ring from each other once or twice in our careers, we’ve never been what some people would call friendly. But then, she gave me a list. A list of people she wanted me to face on this farewell tour.
Then, Dusk reaches into his pocket, and pulls out a small piece of white paper. He takes a look at it and then looks back at the crowd.
Dusk: Part of me wondered if Lindsay was punking me. I half-expected the list to either be facing Jimmy Bonafide three times or hell, facing off against Alexandra Pierce and Cozen. But, that wasn’t the case. Instead, there are three real names on this list that Troy wants to see me wrestle against over the course of the next handful of shows and then a mystery opponent at Colossus IX. So, I’ve had time to think about it, but I thought I would hear what the fans have to say.
Dusk: I’m sorry, I didn’t quite hear you.
PRIME THAT SHIT! PRIME THAT SHIT! PRIME THAT SHIT!
Dusk: Well, now you’re just going to piss off Lindsay Troy with that chant.
FOUR MORE MATCHES! FOUR MORE MATCHES! FOUR MORE MATCHES!
Dusk: Well, that chant is a mouthful, but I think I get the gist of what you’re trying to say. Can I share with you my thoughts? Because on one hand, I’m all for it. Four more matches against the best that PRIME has to offer is something that speaks to me. Because as much as I know I need to step away from the ring, I don’t want any doubts in the back of my mind, any regrets for not going forward with this. At the same time… I’m scared. I don’t want it to be like when I went up against Phil Atken. I feel… better knowing that I took our newly-crowned Universal Champion to the limit and nearly beat him. That I beat Larry Tact. I still don’t want to fall flat on my face and stay for one match too long, do you understand that?
He sighs as he stands there.
Dusk: But, I didn’t get as far in this business, I didn’t build a thirty-year career in this business that I love, by being safe, by being scared, by taking the road away from adversity. I did it by throwing caution into the wind and staring my demons directly in the face. So what the hell? Three more matches here in Vegas. Then in Madison Square Garden, at Colossus IX, I will wrestle my final match, and this time, it will be the end of the road for me.
Dusk: So, before we wrap this party up and get to Ned Reform and Great Scott, do you want to know who my first opponent is?
Dusk: Well, the fans demanded it. I know he is back there, his tiny fingers tapping away on Jabber. This is a man that I have stepped in the ring with in a multi-man match at Dices, Dollars, and Tragedy, a man that has been my opponent in a number of tag matches, and a man that in singles competition we have one victory a piece. Though, my victory against him came at Culture Shock fourteen years ago and saw me capture the Intense Championship from him. I’m talking about none other than The Grin himself… TONY! GAMBLE!
“Well, I’m glad someone is excited.”
There at the top of the ramp, with a microphone in hand, stands Tony ‘The Grin’ Gamble. Still wearing the #STANDINGFORJON in white Comic Sans font t-shirt he revealed earlier in the night. That in itself gets a deserving chorus of boos from the crowd.
Tony Gamble: Now me, I’m not so happy. You see, after my little conversation with The Angry Luchadore, I marched straight into Troy’s office and demanded a match against him for the Intense Title next week at Revival Seventeen. And luckily for him, her answer to me was no.
He starts down the ramp, headed toward the ring as he speaks.
Tony Gamble: She said no because apparently the piece of canvas I cut out of the ring after UltraViolence ended, is now worth nothing since that is not the mat you wrestled your last match on. You selfish son of a bitch, I was going to sell that online for hundreds of dollars!
Dusk raises the microphone to his lips, but Tony lifts his left arm and extends a single finger in the air – no, not that one – and wanna it side to side.
Tony Gamble: NOOO!! NO SIIIRRR!! You just spoke for two hours about your now insignificant match with Leroy, so now it’s my turn to talk.
Tony makes his way up the steps and into the ring. Dusk welcomes him with a smile as he approaches.
Tony Gamble: Don’t worry, it won’t take long. I just wanted to look you in the eye when I tell you…
Do you know those pauses that just keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting with bated breath and a sudden rush of adrenaline in your veins that makes your heart feel like it wants to rip its way through your chest?
Tony Gamble: No.
Tony said simply, as he popped the non existent collar of the black Fruit of the Loom t-shirt he had some kiosk in the mall put stickers on while he shopped for the dark blue denim jeans with the faded patches on the front at Hot Topic. He was actually looking for a pair of pants reminiscent of the ones Troy used to wear years ago during her first run in PRIME.
Oh, you don’t really care about all that.
Tony Gamble: I don’t have anything to prove, and as far as I’m concerned you’re already in a box on the top shelf just waiting to be forgotten about. Here, let me start the process.
Tony turns around and heads towards the corner.
Dusk: Whoa, whoa, Tony. Slow your roll.
Tony pauses and looks back at Dusk.
Dusk: First off, I get it. Your feelings are a little bruised. You had those big dollar signs in your eyes and were ready to sell that ring mat on eBay for, what do you call it, i soldi. And now you can’t. I have a proposition for you though, my long time nemesis. I’ve got pieces of a table from our match back in 2008. You know, the one where I hit the Sunset on you through it before taking the Intense Championship from you? Now, that should fetch you a pretty penny.
The grimace on Tony’s face darkens as he inches closer to Dusk. Dusk puts up his hand.
Dusk: Slow it down. Do you remember the last time we stood in the ring together? You were teaming with Devin Shakur. I was with Cozen [shudders], it was a lot of fun. More fun because Cozen and I got the victory, but you know, it’s like our last great memory together. I don’t know what it is about us, Tony, but we already gravitate around one another. It’s not my fault that you’re, like, in love with me. It just is what it is.
Tony opens his mouth, but Dusk shakes his head and holds up his finger.
Dusk: You want a match with The Anglo Luchador? For the Intense Title? You’re in luck. I’ve got a direct line to my old friend. You accept this match and I will help make that a reality. If you don’t accept the match though? Well, I’ll keep you here, in this ring, all night. In front of these fans.
Then, a stagehand approaches the side of the ring and waves at Dusk. Dusk looks at the stagehand, looks over at Tony, and holds up both hands before he walks over to the stagehand and leans over. The stagehand whispers something in Dusk’s ear, Dusk looks at him with a confused look on his face, and then shrugs his shoulders.
Dusk: Okay, Tony. They’re telling me I can’t keep you here all night. I can keep you here for twenty minutes though. And I know you don’t want that.
The stagehand then whispers in Dusk’s ear again.
Dusk: Oh, really? Okay, correction, I’ve been told I have like sixty seconds at most before Lindsay Troy comes out here and makes the match happen herself. You don’t want to upset the bosslady, do you Tony?
Dusk then looks out at the fans.
Dusk: I may have made that last part up, about Troy coming out here.
He then looks back at Tony.
Dusk: So, what do you say, Tony? One last time. You and me. In this ring. Let’s have some fun together. It would be so fetch.
The Grin shakes his head.
Tony Gamble: I was still going to say no, but you brought up a few interesting points: I’ll upset Troy if I decline, you can put a good word in for me with The Angry Luchador, and most importantly the fans really want to see this.
Tony Gamble: The thing is Dusk: I don’t really care what the fans want, your good friend is the one begging for a shot at me, and I piss off Troy on a daily basis so this is nothing new for me. It was the last thing you said though that really irked me, made me realize that I wasn’t thinking things through, and that was when you used the word fetch to describe what our match could be.
He walked up to Dusk and tiptoed a bit to look him kind of in the chin.
Tony Gamble: That convinced me to change my answer of no to… Hell No.
Tony turned his back on Dusk once more.
Tony Gamble: Troy said the match is already signed, but she’ll have to drag me to the ring kicking and screaming before I step into the ring with you again. Enjoy your little walk into the sunset, because I won’t be joining you.
Dusk: Man, I would’ve sworn you were a Mean Girls fan, but that’s okay Tony. Because at Revival 17, we get to kick it like the old times again.
Tony exits the ring and begins to make his way up the ramp.
Dusk: And Tony…
Gamble turns around and looks at Dusk.
Dusk: I look forward to showing you that not much has changed in the fourteen years since we’ve stepped foot in the ring together when I have your shoulders pinned for the ol’ 1-2-3. Because, what the boss wants, the boss gets. See you in two weeks, best buddy of mine.
Tony scowls as he marches up the rest of the ramp and disappears backstage as “Death Grip” by Watt White plays once again in the MGM-Grand Arena.
Nick Stuart: A farewell tour for Dusk!
Richard Parker: Ugh, I was more than happy when he was leaving at UltraViolence. Now I have to put with more of him! Come on!
Nick Stuart: Well, Lindsay Troy made a request.
Richard Parker: I thought she hated him too!
Nick Stuart: Well, maybe not? But we know that we have Tony Gamble vs. Dusk, which feels weird for me to say, happening in two weeks time and who else do you think is on that piece of paper of his?
Richard Parker: I don’t know, but I’m sure it won’t be fetch. Ah! He’s got me doing it now! Curse him!
We got from Dusk interacting with the fans, taking pictures of him to the backstage area where one Sage Pontiff is doing… Pontiff things.
Backstage, Ria Lockhart has gathered her gear and is in her street gear; a pair of black jeggings, calf high boots, a black PRIME hoodie and a King Blueberry t-shirt. As she rounds a corner, she passes a reclining figure, who has apparently laid out a travel blanket on top of a production crate. Sage Pontiff, licking what wounds he has, is seated with his body in a lotus position with his eyes closed. She throws a quizzical look in his direction, but shakes her head and keeps her stride going. But a voice halts her in her walk.
Sage Pontiff: Your aura is in disarray.
Ria turns back around, raises an eyebrow and tilts her head.
Ria Lockhart: Oh really? What makes you say that?
Sage Pontiff: I don’t have to listen hard to hear the cries, I don’t have to focus myself too deeply to see the pain. Each human being on this spaceship carries with it it’s own unique vibration, and yours is dissonant. There’s a rage inside of you, Ria Lockheart. You’re broken. I can provide the fix.
Ria chuckles as a smirk forms on her face. She shakes her head and takes a few steps towards the awkwardly positioned Pontiff.
Ria Lockhart: Honey, I’m aware of my darkness. There was a time it threatened to swallow me whole. I’ve done the work and I came to an important conclusion. That darkness? It’s a part of me. Accepting it keeps it in check. So while I appreciate the offer, I’d say I’m good for now. Thanks.
The Bodhisattva raises his body off the resting lotus position on sinewy arms before unfolding his legs. He stands up slowly, languidly, seemingly letting every vertebrae in his spine unfurl one by one until he’s erect. Hands on his hips, he looks to her.
Sage Pontiff: Acceptance is only a step, universal sibling.
He leaps down, easy, and now stands face to face with her.
Sage Pontiff: Western medicine seeks acceptance as a defeat action, throwing your hands up. But why court the feeling of powerlessness? Why look at yourself in the mirror and say, “Hey, I’m too weak to change anything, and that’s okay”? No no no, you’re stronger than that. You’ve got a deep well of transformative potential in your aura, you only need the appropriate key to fit into your lock.
Those last words carry something in his tone–it’s not seductive, necessarily, but it certainly feels inappropriate. Ria’s eyebrow raises again. Unlike last time, it’s out of annoyance rather than curiosity.
Ria Lockhart: I hope that wasn’t some attempt at innuendo combined with a pun.
Her tone, her body language and the look on her face all point to being irked.
Ria Lockhart: On top of that, I’m taking a bit of umbrage with your thought process. Acceptance as defeat? No. In this case, acceptance translates to love. Loving myself. I’m still working on spreading that love, but that’s a neverending battle.
There’s a soft chuckle at this, right on the line of either being condescending or legitimately humored. He begins to pace, slowly walking around her.
Sage Pontiff: “We are born of love–love is our mother”. I can hardly think of a more transformative power than that of love. But to love one’s self is not to mire in one’s self. One day you’ll understand, Ria Lockhart. You will break through, and you will feel the warmth of the sun on your face for the first time. Sooner than you think you will feel what it is like to achieve spiritual harmony, and you’ll wonder why you lived a life of dissonance for so long.
He stops in front of her, more close than she’s comfortable with–but she sets her spine and stiffens her lip rather than shy away. His smile is all warmth, his eyes unflinching and penetrating in their gaze.
Sage Pontiff: I will close my mouth and speak to you in a hundred silent ways.
With that, the Bodhisattva of Transformative Experiences gathers his gear–which appears to be some manner of bedroll and a baja hoodie–and strides away with the easy, loping steps of someone with little worry or care. Or anywhere in particular to be. Ria stares off in the direction Sage had meandered towards.
Ria Lockhart: Or you could’ve kept the silent part while getting rid of the speaking.
A visibly embittered Ria storms off in the other direction.
GREAT SCOTT VS. NED REFORM
ReVival goes back to ringside, with Nick and Dick.
Nick Stuart: Up next we have Just Scott going up against Ned Reform. Scott is the younger, taller, heavier, and presumably much more athletic of the two. Ned, coming off a debut win also has a brain cell so we’ll give him the nod in the smarts department. Should be an interesting matchup.
Richard Parker: Should be an absolute hoot. Can you believe this is Just Scott’s tenth match in PRIME? He wasn’t even a participant in the Almasy! Like, when did that happen?
Nick Stuart: Time flies when you’re Scottacanrana’ing around.
The lights go out.
The first and iconic few chords of Beethoven’s classic “Fur Elise” each throughout the arena. On the big screen, a series of purple music notes appear in tandem with the song. The music shifts from classic piano to a guitar version of the theme as two letters are on the screen: “NR.” The crowd begins to jeer as the house lights come back on, but this time as solid purple.
From the back emerges the Good Doctor himself, Ned Reform. He’s dressed for competition in his purple singlet, white boots, and ever-so-punchable smirk. One arm is behind his back as he stops in the center of the ramp – in his other hand? A microphone. Reform’s gaze moves slowly across the arena – his smile never faltering despite the boos.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring, from Litchfield, Connecticut and weighing in at two hundred twenty-seven pounds… NED REFORM!
This announcement draws a fresh round of boos. Reform looks directly into the camera, makes a “cut it” motion, and then impatiently waits as his theme fades away. Shifting his gaze from the lens to the people in attendance, he brings the mic up to his lips.
Ned Reform: That’s DOCTOR Ned Reform, glorified mic stand.
Reform’s smile grows wider. He begins to make his way toward the ring – but very slowly, as he cuts his promo as he walks.
Ned Reform: Children, children, children. No doubt the portion of the program for which you purchased your ticket has arrived. For those of you at home, rest assured that we entered the only segment worth watching. Now, I believe…
As Reform is talking, a chant begins. Softly at first, but it picks up in volume as it catches on. It eventually grows so loud that Reform is forced to stop walking, his eyes nearly bugging out of his head as he looks into the fans and registers what they’re saying. It seems a chant has followed him from the last time he was in Las Vegas in a different promotion…
“DOC – TOR – DICK – HEAD!” (clap, clap, clap clap clap!)
“DOC – TOR – DICK – HEAD!” (clap, clap, clap clap clap!)
“DOC – TOR – DICK – HEAD!” (clap, clap, clap clap clap!)
Reform lets loose a single sneer before the facade goes back up and he smiles again.
Ned Reform: If you insist on being vulgar, have no doubt that I am a patient man. I can wait.
Reform folds his arms, looking around the arena with a look that is half disappointment and half annoyance. The fans continue their chant as The Sage on the Stage tries his best to look disinterested. Unfortunately, despite Reform’s best efforts, the “Doctor Dickhead” chant does not subside. Finally, his patience at an end, Reform lashes out with bug eyes.
Ned Reform: VERY WELL! You have just robbed yourself the gift of my verbiage! Instead, enjoy as I stomp Just Scott back to the stone age!
The people cheer in their apparent victory as Reform tosses the mic aside and sprints the rest of the way to the ring. He quickly moves up the steps, wipes his feet on the apron, and then enters the ring. Elvis Nixon gives him a thorough inspection before Ned finds his corner.
RIchard Parker: Someone said the other day that Ned Reform looked like Phil Atken just without all the glue sniffing and now I can’t unsee it.
Nick Stuart: And here comes Just Scott. Formerly, GREAT SCOTT.
“Born For Justness” by Papa Roach begins to blast over the speakers, as Just Scott emerges from behind the curtain carrying a nondescript championship belt over his shoulder. For some reason, EVEN Just Scott is over. Like really over. The crowd is going goddamned ballistic, and get even louder as Just Bear steps out behind him, rocking out to some EDM on his sweet Beats By Dre headphones.
Nick Stuart: That bear has captured the minds and hearts of wrestling fans across the globe.
Richard Parker: EDM is a thing again because of him. You’d think Scott’s entrance music would be some sort of EDM remix?
Just Scott and Just Bear make their way down to the ring, where Just 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.
Richard Parker: I bet Raisin has nightmares about that bear.
Nick Parker: Or would it be dreams since he probably enjoys nightmares?
Richard Parker: Good question.
Anyway, Just 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. When he descends, he hands Just Bear the belt and sends him back up the ramp. Elvis Nixon gives him a check of the pads and then calls for the bell.
Nick Parker: And we’re under way.
As soon as the bell rings The Doctor hits the canvas and rolls to the outside. There, he waves off Just Scott and decides to make small talk with a ringside fan. Nixon starts to count, reaching five before Ned rolls back in, and then quickly back out.
Nick Stuart: Ned playing some mind games early on.
Scott walks over and shoots Ned a funny look. Confusion. He then shrugs his shoulders, grabs the top rope, and in one, swift, graceful motion, leaps over the top rope and lands cleanly on the outside, right behind Ned. Ned, still engaged in the ringside conversation, doesn’t even notice Scott has dropped in right behind him, until of course Scott gently taps him on the shoulder.
Richard Parker: This guy is like a ninja! I bet if he landed on an egg shell it wouldn’t have even cracked. Quick, someone run up to the Shit Pen and ask those goons for an egg.
Ned’s eyes go wide, as he’s completely caught off guard by sheer and scary athleticism. However, Scott, instead of lifting him up and twirling him around and then suplexing him into the third row, points to the ring as if Ned wasn’t aware of where the match was being held. The whole gesture is very kind, and very innocent, and it would stay that way if it weren’t for Ned jabbing Scott in the eye. He then quickly follows the gouge up with a toe stomp, and then slams Scott’s head into the barricade.
Nick Stuart: The Sage of the Stage getting his hands dirty.
Richard Parker: I’m not surprised. He’s from Connecticut.
Reform pushes the dazed Scott into the ring. He then slides under the bottom rope, quickly gets to his feet, and lays a few boots to his still downed opponent. He then takes a moment for himself, and plays to the crowd. And yes, of course he takes his attention from off of his foe, and while doing so Scott is able to get to his feet. Ned turns around, and Scott quickly wraps his arms around him like they were about to jump out of an airplane with only one parachute. Scott then easily lifts The Warrior Poet off his feet, almost like he were a child, and then belly to belly suplexes him. Scott holds the finish and Elvis Nixon moves in for a count.
Nick Stuart: THAT WAS CLOSE! That’s how powerful he is. Just Scott can end a match at any time.
Just Scott pulls Ned up along with himself. He whips Ned into the corner, hard, and Ned comes stumbling back out of it trying to find a reason to live. Scott quickly wraps him up again, and again delivers a belly to belly suplex that’s so devastating you’d think he’d practiced it on a bear.
The Artist formerly known as GREAT SCOTT again holds the finish.
Not to be confused with the Hardcore Artisan Scottywood.
Nick Stuart: OH SO CLOSE!
Richard Parker: Hopefully The Doctor didn’t like his ribs. If so, at least he knows a guy.
Scott gets up to his feet and shares a friendly thumbs up in the direction of the general audience. Ned is rolling around on the canvas like there’s a pocket of oxygen down there that’s really going to change his day. Scott then refocuses and reaches down to grab Ned. However, Ned is able to surprise Scott by rolling him up with a small package.
Just Scott POWERS THE FUCK OUT.
Nick Stuart: That would have been something.
Ned is still flustered and trying to regain his breath. He is able to get up to his feet and put some distance between him and Just Scott. That distance however is quickly erased when Scott comes charging in seeing that Ned is standing in the corner. Ned, though, moves out of the way at the very last second, and is able to dodge Scott’s SPEAR. Scott goes between the top and second turnbuckles, and shoulder blocks the ring post.
Nick Stuart: Looked like the ring moved an inch there.
Richard Parker: Sure did. Maybe two.
Ned points to his brain, very happy, and also very fortunate to have one. He then pulls Scott out from the corner by his feet, and drags him to the center of the ring. He stands over his downed opponent, and holds up a single finger, pointing all around the arena. He spins around in a full circle before stopping, and once again points to that big brain of his.
But three times.
Ned then leaps into the air, and drives an elbow into Scott’s heart. He points to his brain, and lazily covers Just Scott.
Nick Stuart: That might have killed him!
Richard Parker: Again.
Elvis drops down to count.
Just Scott POWERS THE FUCK OUT.
LIKE, HE BENCH PRESSES NED REFORM A GOOD FIVE FEET IN THE AIR. While Ned is airborne, Scott quickly kips up, but instead of landing on his feet his legs find Ned Reform’s shoulders and you guessed it.
Nick Stuart: HOLY HOYT!
Richard Parker: Hey! That’s my line! Buy yes HOLY HOYT! That was something out of a videogame! I can’t believe that just happened! He changed directions in mid air! We’re going to have to have Ned explain this to us!
Just Scott makes the cover. He hooks the leg. Elvis Nixon drops down.
Ned moves his leg.
Nick Stuart: What a finish! Just when it looked like Ned had him, Just Scott shows that power, strength, athleticism, and flexibility are just too much to overcome. Great showing here by both guys. I guess JustER showing by Scott.
Richard Parker: You’re a clever one, aren’t you?
Nick Stuart: And now a word from our sponsors.
The shot cuts away with Just Scott standing tall inside the ring.
COMMERCIAL: HIGH OCTANE WRESTLING
IT’S NOT OKAY
We start backstage with Angelica Brooks holding a microphone. She looks a little flustered.
Angelica Brooks: Hello. This was originally supposed to be an interview with Paxton Ray. As you are all aware, however, Ray was fired by PRIME President Lindsay Troy tonight. So instead, we have…
Angie breaks her professional voice for just a second as she looks past the camera.
Angelica Brooks: Do we have it ready?
There is no verbal response, but Angelica’s posture relaxes and she nods.
Angelica Brooks: Ok. So instead, we have another interview lined up. I’m pleased to be joined by Jonathan Rhine’s girlfriend and manager, Shweta Kallemullah. Shweta…
The shot of Angelica shifts to the left as another screen of a hotel room pops up. Shweta sits at a desk with earbuds in. Angelica has to pause because as the screen wipes, the PRIME audience lets out a healthy cheer for the Chairperson. Shweta smiles briefly, but it’s a smile that doesn’t reach her eyes. We
Angelica Brooks: Thank you so much for joining us. I know this has been a terrible time for you. So I have to start by asking what may be the hardest question to answer: how are you guys doing?
Shweta Kallemullah: Thank you Angelica. That is a tough question to answer. “Better” is probably the best answer I can give. So that’s what I’ll say. We’re doing better.
Angelica Brooks: Better is good. Obviously we heard the results of Jon’s surgery and the prognosis last week, which is not what any of us wanted to hear. So I have to ask now, a week later as the dust has settled a bit, has that prognosis changed at all?
Shweta Kallemullah: Unfortunately not. Jon has regained the ability to move his head, and the doctors say that feeling and movement should return to his arms soon. But the problem is with his legs. The doctors say it will be a long time before he walks again, if he ever does.
Angelica is visibly shaken by the words. Yes, she had heard already. But hearing it from Shweta hits different.
Angelica Brooks: Shweta, I’m…I’m so sorry to hear that.
Shweta, for her part, sucks in her lips and closes her eyes for a moment. She is trying to stay composed, but…
Shweta Kallemullah: It’s okay.
There is a brief pause. Angelica opens her mouth to speak, but Shweta shakes her head.
Shweta Kallemullah: I don’t know why I said that. It’s not okay.
Angelica nods, but doesn’t respond, opening the floodgates for Shweta.
Shweta Kallemullah: It’s not okay that a man who spent his life fighting in the ring now has to fight for his life out of it. It’s not okay that a man we trusted, loved, supported, would turn on a man who tried to help him. It’s not okay that I spent my young adult life as a wayward soul, hurting others in a desperate search of feeling whole, only to rehabilitate, finally find what I was looking for, and have it — not taken away. I’m not leaving his side. But…but…
She finally runs out of steam. There are no tears, but her breathing is erratic. Slowly, Angelica tries to regain control.
Angelica Brooks: I’m so sorry. I only have one more question, but we don’t have to ask if you don’t feel up to it.
Shweta Kallemullah: No, this is okay, Angelica. Go ahead.
Angelica Brooks: Thank you. Now, I know you probably weren’t watching the show earlier. But I wanted you to know that earlier tonight, Lindsay Troy fired Paxton for his attack on Jon. How does that make you feel? Are you relieved?
Shweta’s eyes lower.
Shweta Kallemullah: Honestly? It makes me afraid. Afraid for Lindsay, for Jared.
Angelica Brooks: What do you mean? Paxton is gone from PRIME.
Shweta Kallemullah: Angelica, I just told you about my past. I was aligned with one of the worst people anyone has ever met. You could say that I became very acquainted with evil. And I know one thing about people like Paxton — a man I misjudged in weakness and will never forgive myself for — those people do not respect pink slips. They don’t just turn away at closed doors. They bust them open. They go through windows. They keep coming. And they don’t stop until someone actually stops them.
Angelica Brooks: I…that was Shweta Kallemullah. Shweta, please give Jon our best as we hope for a full recovery.
Shweta Kallemullah: Thank you Angelica.
THE SECOND LIFE BEGINS
Where do PRIME stars hang out when they’re not on the show?
The major stars still get their own private room, of course. Those lower down in the pecking order will usually still go to the locker rooms, but not always. Sometimes they want to be alone, but still be ready in case they need to run out to the ring and dropkick somebody. That’s why PRIME sets one or two locations aside as “green rooms,” where folks can watch the show in peace and quiet.
Nate Colton is in one of those rooms right now. Who knows why; perhaps he just wants time to process the events of the evening. Or maybe he’s already seen enough wieners for one day. Regardless of the reason, he is currently sitting in a folding chair, watching Shweta talk about how she’s afraid for Lindsay Troy and Jared Sykes after Paxton Ray was handed his pink slip.
Nate shakes his head in disbelief at Shweta’s words when someone knocks on the door. He quickly stands up.
Nate Colton: Just a sec.
He opens the door and sees the production assistant we all know as Patricia, even though their name is Samantha. It’s ridiculous, honestly. They work very hard and deserve more respect than this.
Anyway, Patricia is holding a small basket full of bottled water.
Patricia: Mister Colton?
Nate Colton: Please, Sam. Call me Nate. Mister Colton is my dad.
Patricia: Of course. Anyway, I got you that water you asked about.
Nate Colton: Oh, you didn’t–I just wanted to know if there was any left! I could have got that. But thank you!
He takes the basket from Patricia and sets it on a nearby table, then takes two bottles out. He offers one to Patricia, who shakes her head.
Patricia: It’s no problem, Mis…Nate. I’m here to help.
Meanwhile, Nate has already opened one of the bottles and consumed half of its contents. A trickle runs out of the corner of his mouth, down the front of his “FIGHTING FOR JONATHAN” shirt. At least he’s got something besides a PRIME polo now.
Nate Colton: Sorry, I’ve been going through this stuff like crazy ever since I moved out here. It ain’t natural to work up a sweat while you’re watching TV.
Patricia: It definitely takes some getting used to. Jason’s from Bozeman; I thought he might actually melt when he moved down here.
Nate Colton: Heh. How’s he doing, anyway? Has the job search panned out yet?
Patricia: Not yet, but he’s got another interview on Wednesday.
Nate Colton: Hell yeah! Tell him I said good luck.
Patricia smiles, slightly disarmed by how much interest this medium-famous person has taken in their personal life. Midwesterners are weird if you’re not used to them.
Patricia: I will. Hopefully then I can quit Uber and get more involved with the production booth here at the Grand. But I’ll have plenty of time for that later.
The smile on Nate’s face slowly fades, leaving a pensive look in its place.
Nate Colton: It’s funny…I thought that way too. I figured, I’m a young man yet, I’ve still got a lot of time to accomplish my goals in this business. And then…well…
He nods toward the television screen, which still features the face of Paxton Ray.
Nate Colton: I thought Jon was going to have plenty of time left, too. Maybe he and I could have faced off one day. Woulda been great, too.
Patricia: I bet it would, sir.
They don’t care, of course; Patricia isn’t even slightly interested in wrestling. But Nate is so lost in his thoughts that he doesn’t even notice, or correct, the “sir.”
Nate Colton: But now? I just hope he’s able to walk again someday. And I know it’s selfish, and it’s nowhere in the same galaxy as all the other bad news about this, but…I can’t help thinking about that match we’ll never get to have. A dream that’ll never come true.
Patricia nods; that’s something they know about (because don’t we all?)
Nate Colton: I know there’s no guarantees in life, but this really brought it home. I guess I just wasn’t ready for doors to start closing, y’know? Anyway…makes me think about what I want to accomplish here in PRIME. I’m proud of what I’ve done so far, but there’s a lot more I want to do. I better get movin’, if I want to do any of it. It’s like that old line about life, right?
There’s no reason for us to know that Patricia minored in philosophy, but it’s a reasonable explanation for why she’s able to quote Confucius from memory.
Patricia: “We have two lives; the second one begins when we realize we only have one.”
Nate Colton: I was going to say “get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’,” but I like yours better.
Patricia: Thank you. I’d better get back to work.
Nate Colton: I suppose. Thanks again, Sam. Take care.
Patricia smiles warmly as they leave the room, back to their very important production assistant duties. Meanwhile, Nate turns back to the television; the screen is currently blank and then static comes out of the speakers…
I’M STILL HUNGRY
The following footage was electronically sent to the PRIME production team earlier today…
Rezin: Arright, gang, listen up…
The view abruptly comes in, and we immediately see the face of PRIME’s Five Star Champion, “The Escape Artist” Rezin.
Rezin: I hope you’d be willin’ to forgive your forever loyal and forever LIT Five Star Champion for not bein’ present tonight in my corporeal form… but as all of ya oughta know by now, there ain’t a dull moment in the life of a face-kickin’, Zippo-flickin’, scab-pickin’ PUNK ROCK sum’bish like ME!
Some things to take in here: He’s wearing a neck brace. And a hospital smock. And he’s behind the wheel of an ambulance. There’s a briefcase with banknotes sticking out the sides in the seat next to him. The meatwagon is blazing down a highway like a bat out of hell.
Despite the circumstances, Rezin nonchalantly drags off a spliff caught in the corner of his mouth.
Rezin: I also know that things have been pretty quiet outta Camp Crustpunk since UltraViolence, and I DOPE-ly apologize to anyone who might have been left hangin’ on the ever-chaotic misadventures of this ol’ Goat Bastard. Rest assured though, when I get back to Vegas…
A devilish glint fills Rezin’s eye.
Rezin: I will MORE than make up for my absence!
Sirens! And not the kind belonging to this particular emergency vehicle.
Rezin’s wild and bloodshot eyes pop open when he looks into the sideview mirror and presumably sees cherrytops flashing back at him.
Police: (on loudspeaker) You in the ambulance! Pull over, immediately!
The Escape Artist groans and eyerolls, like this was a problem as mundane and everyday as taking out the trash.
Rezin: Gimme a sec, gang…
He reaches off camera and, amazingly, procures a pipe bomb. Because it’s well-known that anarchists just have these things sitting around on standby.
The real anarchists, anyway.
He lights the fuse with the burning cherry off his joint. It sparkles ominously.
Rezin: One… two… three… four… twenty. Heh heh… wait, where was I? Oh well, fuggit, ACAB or whatever…
He drops the pipe bomb out the window and–
The ambulance shakes and swerves briefly off the peal of the explosion before steadying itself and resuming its wild ride down the freeway. Meanwhile, we hear the squeal of another set of tires preceding the dulled bang of a vehicle running itself into the ditch.
Glancing into the sideview again, Rezin grins and nods approvingly. No more sirens.
Rezin: As ya can no doubt see, gang, I’m a bit pressed for time here, so I’ll say my piece and let ya get back to the action…
From whatever off-camera void where he summons up homemade explosive devices, he retrieves the Five Star Championship of PRIME and rests it on his shoulder.
Rezin: For the time being, I find myself in the rare and extraordinary position of being the reigning Five Star Champ AND top ranked wrestler in the company, so I think it’s safe to say by now that I’ve more than proved my worth in this industry. But don’t get me wrong, cause I ain’t one to sit back and rest on my laurels…
His hands tighten their grip on the wheel while he continues to grinning like a jackal.
Rezin: Whether I’m a champ or a chump… number one or number zero… bringin’ it hard, fast, and PUNK ROCK is the ONLY WAY I know how to roll!
Daring and defiant as always, he slaps the face of the belt.
Rezin: So no matter what this world throws at me, whether it be roid-raging bear wranglers juiced up on STRONK or giant cowboy kill-machines with arms the size of friggin’ construction beams…
He winces slightly while tugging at the foam brace around his neck, but his fiery gaze doesn’t leave the camera.
Rezin: …ya can bet your normie ASSES that for as long as Hell’s Favorite Hoosier carries this strap, he’s gonna bring a fight worthy of EVERY DAMB STAR etched on it! So bring your best, PRIME! Bring your worst, too! Cause I’M! STILL!! HON-GRYY!!
More sounds from the road. The Goat Bastard suddenly perks up and pays attention to what’s ahead of him.
Rezin: Speaking of…
No sirens this time. Instead, a… jingle?
Rezin: …ICE CREAM.
Rezin’s nostrils flare and his lips curl back into a voracious, predatory snarl. His maniacal grin widens while he slams down on the accelerator.
Rezin: EEEEYYYESS CRRREEEAAAAAAMMM!!!
The ambulance shakes upon impact as Rezin rams the rear of what we can only assume to be an ice cream truck.
Rezin: I SCREAM FOR EEEEYYYESS CRRREEEAAAAAAMMM!!!
A second impact dislodges the camera from its mount, and footage returns to static…
Then we fade to Nick and Richard, shaking their heads in disbelief.
Richard Parker: How has that idiot not blown himself up yet?
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure, partner. Folks, we haven’t confirmed the Five Star Champion’s exact whereabouts since he was reportedly “decapitated via clothesline” the other night during another promotion’s event. Initial reports indicated that he was taken to a medical facility, but…
Richard Parker: Ugh, lemme guess… the Escape Artist did the thing that he does.
Nick Stuart: Our producers would also like me to remind you that the thoughts and opinions expressed in the previous video package do not reflect those of the ACE Network.
Richard Parker: Yeah, I can’t imagine they think highly of a drug-addled, bomb-making nutjob as a face for the company. The sooner this idiot loses that belt, the happier a whole lot of people are gonna be.
Nick Stuart: Be as it may, the ever unstable “Escape Artist” Rezin continues to dominate the ranks of PRIME as the Five Star Champion, leaving chaos and carnage in his wake.
Richard Parker: And smoke. And–OH! Don’t forget roaches. Both kinds of roaches.
HAYES HANLON VS. KING BLUEBERRY
Nick Stuart: Jacob Mephisto, chilling as ever. But now, we head to our main event, and even though this ought to be a sporting wrestling exhibition between two of the most popular and talented wrestlers on the roster.
Richard Parker: Normally, a match like this would make me sick, but given the circumstances with Jonathan Rhine, and the fact that the vibes have been off tonight, I’m actually looking forward to this.
Nick Stuart: Vibes? Have you been watching TikTok again?
Richard Parker: How else would I know how to make those grinders I brought during our production meeting working lunch yesterday?
The arena darkens.
We Came as Romans.
The music builds, and the crowd lifts. Those flickering flashbulbs leading us in. The good ol’ PRIME*View makes its journey toward the massive black hole in the distance, the screen shaking as it approaches closer and closer.
Vince Howard: Annnnnnnnd NOW! Your MAIN! E! VENT!
The music hits heavy, a wall of white light underneath the PRIME*View flashes hard, and the lightshow fills the arena. The broad silhouette of Home Run Hayes lifts his fingers to the sky before the music slows, and he steps out to bellowing audience.
Nick Stuart: And out walks the Comeback Kid!
Vince Howard: We’re scheduled for ONE FALL! Introducing first, from West Linn, Oregon! Your former Five Star Champion from West Linn, Oregon! Standing six feet, three-inches tall and weighing in at two-hundred and sixty-one pounds!! THE EVENT HORIZON…HAAAAYYYESSSS!!! HANNNLLLLOOOOONNNN!!!!!
“I FALL INTO A BLACK HOLE IN MY HEAD!!”
Hayes hits the ramp with the chorus, slapping his chest hard, where white letters spelling “F4J” sit on a black t-shirt. Hanlon is extra wound-up tonight, quickly sliding to the apron and stepping up the turnbuckle, but not before looking over to Cancer Jiles and blowing him a kiss. Cancer swats away the incoming kiss with a swift backhand.
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon was given a tall task at UltraViolence, and he delivered! Our star rookie here managed to defeat the Russian Bear, Ivan Stanislav, in an incredible display of strength, connecting the Super Massive on a 400 pound goliath!
The camera feed cuts to a replay from UltraViolence. Ivan’s massive body lays across Hanlon’s back. It shows The Event Horizon’s struggle to step up to the second rope, and highlights the moment Hayes brought him to the mat with the Burning Hammer maneuver.
Nick Stuart: An enormous statement after suffering defeat to GREAT SCOTT at ReVival 15!
Richard Parker: A sad day for the Motherland to be sure, but an impressive moment in our sport, Nick!
The rookie leans back over the post, chest to the sky, as the chorus finishes its job. He hops to the mat, checks the ropes with a few bounces, and waits for his opponent to arrive, his music trailing off.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
This isn’t your typical Berry entrance. There’s no elaborate bullshit. No smoke machines. The Jimmy Bonafide Dancers have been given the night off (not that they really ever work, but still). There’s just the music.
“Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid.” Motley Crue.
Even Vince Howard is surprised, since the information he was given about this introduction is devoid of the usual nonsense he’s forced to contend with when Berries are involved.
Vince Howard: From Boston, Massachusetts… He weighs in tonight at one-hundred and ninety-nine pounds…
Tonight, King Blueberry is a little lighter than usual. It’s not a new workout regimen or diet, just the stress of watching the career end for one of the closest friends he’s made in the industry. It’s why he wore a “Fighting For Jonathan” shirt when he appeared to start the show, and why he wears one now.
Vince Howard: He is one half of the PRIME World Tag-Team Champions…
He’s also alone, at least at first. The Blueberry is halfway to the ring by the time his partner appears at the curtain. And despite his own intensity, she doesn’t seem in any particular hurry to join him.
Vince Howard: KIIIIIIIIIIING BLLLLUUUUUUUUUEBERRRRRRYYYYYYY!!
Yeah, that’s right. We do those now.
The two wrestlers meet in the center of the ring, waiting for the bell to sound. Big cheers go up for the pensive-looking Jared Sykes. The crowd starts chanting “WE LOVE RHINE! WE LOVE RHINE!” Justine Calvin, though visibly not in the mood to give a hoot throughout her trek to the ring, is finally moved to an emotion other than “staring daggers at Jared Sykes” at the chant.
Richard Parker: Normally, I’d be all over this crowd for pandering, but I agree with the fans, Nick.
Nick Stuart: Yes, touching sentiment for Jon Rhine’s best friend here. A lot of emotion riding on this match.
And then…nothing. The Event Horizon and the Prince of Produce remain in their corners, eyes locked on one another. Despite the ringing of the bell, and the rumbling MGM Grand crowd. Despite Jiles watching close by. They stand still, not even studying each other. Just relaxed.
Nick Stuart: Folks, this main event match is underway, but neither opponent has made a move.
Richard Parker: Think they’ll kiss? Or cry it out in the middle of the ring?
Hayes looks over his left shoulder, then his right. His eyes flash down.
Then set on Jared Sykes.
And then, Home Run Hayes pulls his “F4J” t-shirt over his head, and extends it toward King Blueberry.
Nick Stuart: Now this is fascinating…Hayes Hanlon with an offering here…
Sykes eyes the black shirt in Hanlon’s hand for a moment, the Garden crowd rising at the display. He takes his time, taking his turn to peer left and right.
Then pulls his “Fighting For Jonathan” shirt off his torso, and reaches it over to his young opponent.
Nick Stuart: Now THIS is CLASS, folks!
The two take each other’s shirts enthusiastically, opening them up and lifting them overhead to the crowd to display their messages. The technicians in the back have caught up, an enormous “F4J” filling the PRIME*View.
Richard Parker: It sure is, partner. Well done, boys.
The raucous crowd continues to roar, Hayes and Sykes hand their shirts off to aides at ringside before turning back to the center of the ring, both marching in and meeting each other with a hearty high-five.
Richard Parker: Now let’s see a SHOW!
Nick Stuart: I should note that Blueberry said something to young Hayes there. Microphones couldn’t pick it up.
Richard Parker: I hate that I’m the voice of reason here because it means the world is probably about to end, but maybe it wasn’t meant to be picked up by mics? Besides, the match is starting.
The two wrestlers lock up strong in the collar-and-elbow tie-up, each one jockeying for leverage, but neither one finding it. They break after a ten-Mississippi count and regroup. Hanlon reaches in to go for another collar-and-elbow, but Sykes deftly ducks and slides behind the Event Horizon, wrapping him in a rear waistlock. He jostles for position with Hanlon throwing wild blind elbows that the King easily dodges. The disruption is enough for Hanlon to break the lock and slip behind Blueberry for a reversal. Using his weight to force past any inertia Sykes is providing, he hoists the Tag Champ in the air for a German or back suplex, but midair, Blueberry deftly transitions into an armdrag. Hanlon ends up on all fours, slamming his hands on the canvas, and he gets back up to his feet to shake out the cobwebs.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon has a decided size advantage here, but the King has been around the block several times. He may not look it, but he’s one of the most gifted wrestlers at using leverage and keeping moving parts working in sync.
Richard Parker: Especially when he’s operating a forklift!
Nick Stuart: Not sure I’d bring that up now, that seems like a distant memory with everything that’s happened, especially recently.
Hanlon moves in to grab Sykes with another collar-and-elbow tie-up, but it’s a rope-a-dope. Anticipating Sykes going for the end-around again, Hayes immediately smashes into his hands before they can clasp, then deftly turns around to throw a wicked lariat. Blueberry immediately recognizes it and ducks, transitioning into a crucifix. Hayes blocks it and drops the Tag Champ with a Samoan drop.
Nick Stuart: And that’s where young Hayes will get you. If he can catch you in the right spot, that power offense AND counteroffensive will put a hurting on a smaller competitor.
Sykes holds his back and rolls into the ropes as Calvin just looks on, shaking her head. Timo Bolamba gets in between Hanlon and the ropes, causing Hayes to throw his hands up in innocence.
Richard Parker: I don’t trust this Hanlon not to play it fair. You know he hangs out at the Velvet Rabbit?
Nick Stuart: That’s conjecture, and strip clubs or not, Hanlon doesn’t seem to have animosity towards Sykes and the feeling is mutual. Besides, Richard, don’t you go to the Velvet Rabbit, frequently?
Richard Parker: Don’t blow up my spot like that!
Jared gets up on the apron, lets out a huge sigh, and then gingerly steps through the ropes. Nothing is long-term hurt but his pride, but each bump he takes is magnified by his attention concentrated… elsewhere.
Nick Stuart: Blueberry is back in the ring, and we’re ready to start again!
Hanlon takes advantage of Blueberry’s momentary daze to lock up again, quickly wrenching the Tag Champ’s head within his grasp by his hip. Sykes uses all his force and probably some adrenaline too to shove Hanlon into the ropes. On the rebound, Blueberry whips the Event Horizon with an armdrag, and then a second one as Hayes quickly gets to his feet. He goes for a step-up hurricanrana as Hanlon gets onto one knee, but the Event Horizon gets his wits about him and shoves Sykes in the back of his thighs before he can close the window. The Tag Champ backflips and lands on his feet before shooting Hanlon a knowing but uneasy look of respect.
Nick Stuart: Quite refreshing to see such an athletic exhibition in the main event. Wrestling can be fun.
Richard Parker: Look, I disagree, even though I know they’re both fighting for Rhine here, I need my fix. Someone hit someone with a low blow or a weapon or an eye gouge. I’m dying over here!
Nick Stuart: We can always bring Cancer Jiles out from the crowd.
Richard Parker: On second thought…
Hanlon thinks about lunging in hastily again, but the young lion realizes it didn’t work the last time, so he backs into the corner to regroup. Blueberry shakes his head after momentarily thinking it over and charges in, hitting Hanlon with the “walk vertically up your chest” move while he’s in the corner. Hayes stumbles out, and Blueberry, after hesitating momentarily thinking about what move to hit him with, rolls him into a small package…
Hanlon kicks out almost immediately after Timo counts two.
Nick Stuart: This is a sporting contest, but I think King Blueberry knows he’s got to win this one.
Richard Parker: Hey, you don’t get paid by the hour, although judging by how long some of our pay-per-views have gone…
Nick Stuart: Hush.
Hanlon stumbles to his feet, with Blueberry sizing him up from the back. He leaps up on his opponent’s shoulders and again hesitates a little, as he’d be going for the poison rana here. Instead, he shifts his weight forward and attempts a victory roll…
Hanlon kicks out again shortly after Timo’s hand hits the mat a second time. Jared slams the mat with both his fists and pops up as Justine on the outside continues to look like she’d rather be anywhere else but at ringside.
Nick Stuart: Reina Raspberry looks like she’d rather be at the dentist’s office right now.
Richard Parker: Well, who can blame her? King Blueberry’s head’s not in the game right now! He’s clearly holding back.
Nick Stuart: Somehow, Richard, I don’t think that’s the reason she’s looking disinterested.
Sykes is quick to his feet while Hanlon’s equilibrium is shaken with the barrage of flip-overs he’s had to endure. The Tag Champ notices his opponent is doubled over and attempts a sunset flip. Hanlon blocks it, shakes out the cobwebs, and lands a big jumping legdrop across Sykes’ throat.
Nick Stuart: WHOA MAMA! Hanlon has just landed perhaps the biggest move in this match.
Richard Parker: Whoa mama? Are you gonna start making obscure pop culture references now too?
Nick Stuart: The heck you on about, Richard?
Richard Parker: I don’t know. I think Randall Schwartz just walked by me and I got a whiff of a different leg of the multiverse.
Hanlon goes for a quick cover…
Blueberry kicks out. Hanlon gets up to his feet and does the “touch ‘em all” hand signal before grabbing Sykes up, whipping him into the corner, stalking over briskly and leaning into Blueberry’s chest with his ham-hock hands with huge knife-edge chops.
Richard Parker: King Blueberry really dazed right now, I thought for sure he might have had time to slide out of the corner.
Nick Stuart: We all know he’s got a lot simmering in his brain right now. Rhine in the hospital. Reina Raspberry clearly angry at him. Paxton Ray laughing in the face of justice. This is just a confluence of all the worst things in his life combining into a mighty river.
After five or six chops, Hanlon seats Blueberry on the top turnbuckle and climbs. He yells to the crowd before hooking Sykes up for the big superplex with panache, baby. He floats over into a cover…
The Tag Champ kicks out. Hanlon pops to his feet with Sykes still on the mat, and he beckons to the crowd, getting a muted cheer. Not because they don’t love Hayes – they do. It’s just they also really love their King.
Nick Stuart: Hayes looking for approval, and I think he’s got enough to do what he wants to do.
Richard Parker: Look, that kid playing the hero against Blueberry was always going to be a tough sell, but now? I’m shocked the crowd is that split.
Nick Stuart: Hey, it’s not Hayes’ fault all this happened. But I digress…
Hanlon bends over and locks in…
Nick Stuart: THE NORTHWEST NECKTIE!
Hanlon has that Tequila Sunrise in tight with a look on his face better fit for an all-night bender at the Velvet Rabbit with three strippers, his brother Paul, a pile of coke, and guy in a Steely McBeam costume. Why Steely McBeam? I don’t know, it just fits Hanlon’s entire vibe. He’s enjoying it way, way, way too much.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon has that move cinched in! Can King Blueberry inch to the ropes before he has to give in?
Richard Parker: Hanlon doesn’t have positioning in the center of the ring. If anyone can get there, it’s that wiry rascal Sykes!
Blueberry makes one desperate reach for the bottom rope, and he does! Timo calls for the hold to be broken, and Hanlon obliges at first warning. Sykes uses the ropes to get to his feet, but Hanlon is sizing him up for a Big Bossman-style hip attack in the ropes.
Nick Stuart: This could be the end for King Blueberry…
But at the last second, Sykes senses Hanlon and rolls on the middle rope to his left, causing the young former Five Star Champ to get hung up in the ropes.
Nick Stuart: This could be the break one-half of our Tag Team Champions has been looking for!
Richard Parker: I just hope for Hanlon’s sake that whatever club he heads to after the show has champagne on ice, and less for the champagne.
Hayes gingerly extricates himself from the ropes, but he walks right into a waiting King Blueberry, cocked and firing with a right jab worthy of Muhammad Ali. Hanlon goes cross-eyed, staggers a little bit, and holds up his right index finger before falling stiffly to the canvas…
Richard Parker: TIMMMMMMBUUUUUUUUUUUURRR!!!!
Hanlon hits the mat like a ton of bricks. The King catches his breath for a moment, partially to recover from being in the Northwest Necktie for a bit and partially because he has to think of what he wants to do. Most of his signature offense targets the neck. He doesn’t want to injure the poor lad; they’re both on Team Jonathan. Ah, Team Jonathan, there’s an idea…
Nick Stuart: Hanlon getting to his feet, and Blueberry is stalking him. What could he be cooking up here?
Another punch, only this time, he’s gone southpaw. Then another. Then a third left jab before a lightning quick pivot on his right foot to complete the familiar, but not to Sykes, striking combo. About fifteen minutes after this match ends up finishing, Hanlon will swear that at this moment, he heard Fozzy’s “Judas” playing in his head. He falls to the mat while Sykes appeals to the crowd, which roars its approval.
Hanlon slowly rises to his feet, only to have the King greet him with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Instinctively, Blueberry charges to the ropes, jumps on the second cable, and flips back.
Nick Stuart: Is that… the New Life Moonsault??!?!
Richard Parker: I don’t believe it! I don’t fall for stunts like these, but man…
He makes the cover…
Hayes kicks out later in the two count than he had been earlier in the match. Blueberry again rises to his feet, laying in wait behind the Event Horizon, who is rising, back turned to his opponent. The King takes a running start, vaults into the air while doing a forward somersault, grabbing onto the young libertine’s neck…
Nick Stuart: BREATHTAKER! KING BLUEBERRY IS PAYING TRIBUTE TO JONATHAN RHINE HERE IN THE MAIN EVENT, AND THE GRAND GARDEN ARENA IS COMING UNGLUED!
Rather than going for the pin, Jared waits again for Hanlon to get up. He has one more move he needs to hit before he feels he can put this one away. Hayes is up. The King locks his hand across his chest, hoisting his opponent into the air and spinning into the…
Nick Stuart and Richard Parker, simultaneously: RHINE REWIND!
He floats over seamlessly into the cover.
ONE! (the match is won)
TWO! (I hope you’re seeing this, Jon)
Hanlon gets a shoulder up at the last possible second! The arena is stunned! King Blueberry can’t believe it!
Nick Stuart: SO CLOSE! If that had ended the match, there may not have been a Grand Garden Arena left after the three count.
Richard Parker: Look, normally, I’m ripping on both these goofballs during the match, but this is exciting as heck! Praise Hoyt for this action. What am I saying?
Jared Sykes rises to his feet once more, looking for a way to put this feisty young lion to bed for good. He’d have to do it himself, with an implement from his own toolbox. Hanlon rises to his feet, turns around, shakes the cobwebs out for what seems to be the millionth time this match, only to walk right into the grasp of a waiting King Blueberry.
The Third Degree…
Hanlon has fight left in him, using a right elbow to Blueberry’s right temple three times to buy him some distance. After getting air between them, Hayes charges right back in, arm outstretched.
If were Japan, Nick Stuart would be saying “LARIATOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” right about now.
Blueberry turns inside out and hits the canvas like a sack of dirty laundry fresh from the car ride home from college. Rather than go for the pin, Hanlon climbs the turnbuckle…
Nick Stuart: Big man going to the top, this could spell doom for King Blueberry…
Richard Parker: Or for Hayes Hanlon! Go for it, but you gotta know the risks!
Hayes slaps his right elbow with his left hand, leaps, and drives the point right into Blueberry’s chest. The Tag Team Champ unnaturally convulses until Hanlon shoots the half, hooks the leg, and wrangles him under control against his will for the cover…
THR… NO! Timo’s hand hits the mat AFTER Jared kicks out. The match continues. It’s Hayes’ turn to slam the mat this time.
Nick Stuart: Young man letting his emotions ride high! He has a win over the current Universal Champion under his belt, but you gotta believe beating yet another member of the PRIME firmament is on his mind.
Richard Parker: Well, if he doesn’t win here, at least he did beat Jiles, that lousy no-good crumb!
Nick Stuart: Careful, Jiles might hear you from where he’s sitting.
Hanlon doesn’t wait for Blueberry to get to his feet. He staggers over, sucking wind, and grabs the Tag Champ to put him on his back, Sid Phillips-style. He scans the crowd, cracks his neck, and then…
…yeah, that’s a 9 out of 10 on the Powerbomb Siddy scale. King Blueberry receives an instant flashback, and not the good kind. Cover.
TH… even closer than the last one, but the kickout is still emphatic.
Nick Stuart: I don’t know what it’s going to take for either one of these men to put the other away, but this is a main event befitting the GREATEST wrestling promotion on the planet right now.
Richard Parker: I’m starting to sweat up here, and I’m only describing the action. Jesus.
Hayes rises to his feet and mock-slashes his throat with his thumb. It’s time to finish the job, he thought. He yanks King Blueberry to his feet and whips him towards the ropes. Pop up.
Hayes’ overzealousness gets the best of him, and the King is able to carry his momentum forward so that he clears the former Five Star Champion, landing behind him. They both turn around to face each other at the same time, and that’s when Jared Sykes did the unthinkable, at least to his opponent.
Nick Stuart: LISTEN TO THAT IMPACT! King Blueberry just LIT UP Hanlon’s chest with that overhead chop!
Richard Parker: Uh, that look on Hanlon’s face…
Parker’s description undersold it. Hayes Hanlon looks as if he’s offended that of all moves, Jared Sykes would throw an overhand chop this late in the match. All his fatigue and body damage don’t matter. His nostrils flare and he returns with an overhead chop of his own across the King’s chest, welted from the corner chop flurry earlier in the match. The Tag Champ staggers back a bit, but his veins are flowing with just as much adrenaline as his opponent’s. He throws another chop. Hanlon returns with one of his own.
And they enter a feedback loop of overhand chops across each other’s chests.
Nick Stuart is having a near aneurysm calling the action. Richard Parker covers his eyes; he cannot bear to watch the chests becoming redder than the flag in Ivan Stanislav’s struggle bunker. Both men’s knees begin to wobble, but either through shared psychosis, brain cells awash in too much testosterone and adrenaline, or some macho bravado that escapes anyone who isn’t a male wrestler (supported by the look of horror on Justine Calvin’s masked face), they keep hacking at each other, not intending to stop until one of them slumps onto the canvas.
Or both of them.
And both of them eventually do end up on their knees, exhausted, spent. They spend a moment, raw chests leaning on each other before hitting the mat in comatose limpness.
Nick Stuart: You can uncover your eyes now, Richard.
Richard Parker: Oh the carnage. Oh the humanity. My Hoyt.
Timo Bolamba starts his count.
Richard Parker: And I thought this match was going to remain friendly!
Nick Stuart: In way, I think always has been. Sometimes, emotion gets the better of you, and you have to prove something, not just to the other guy, but to yourself. They’ll still shake hands afterwards.
Nick Stuart: But you still want to win the match. Ironically? This might cost both of them the win.
Shockingly, despite giving up 60 pounds to the stocky Hanlon lad, Jared is the first to move. He starts his way to the ropes, snake-crawling across the canvas. Hanlon grabs his chest, and then as if he was late for school with Timo’s voice as the piercing bell of his alarm clock in his ear, he jolts towards the ropes himself.
They’re both on their knees, leaning on the ropes.
At the last possible second, both men are on their feet. The senior official adjudges them to be fit to continue, and they stagger over to each other. They eye each other up and… it’s another collar-and-elbow tie-up.
Nick Stuart: And here’s our match reset! Both men are worse for wear, but oddly enough, it feels like they could go for another half-an-hour!
This tie-up is weaker than before, and Hanlon cannot exert his size. Reaching into the depths of his jellies, King Blueberry lifts a knee into Hayes’ gut and snapmares him onto a seated position.
Grabs him once more to his feet.
Nick Stuart: Oh my, could we see the Third Degree here now?
Instead, Blueberry connects with a European Uppercut, the triceps connecting underneath the jaw of Hanlon. Hayes’ head snaps backwards as he stumbles backwards from the shot and into the ropes. Blueberry gingerly walks over to Hayes and connects with a striking elbow to the jaw of Hanlon before he whips him into the ropes. Blueberry then bounces off the ropes himself and both men have the same idea at the same time as they both connect with clotheslines on one another.
Their bodies crash into one another in a sickening thud before they slam into the mat and they grab their wracked bodies in pain.
Richard Parker: Well, that’s not going to help improve anything.
Nick Stuart: I wouldn’t think so.
Both men roll around on the mat as Timo checks on both of them before beginning ANOTHER ten count.
Hanlon grabs the bottom rope while Blueberry rolls onto his stomach.
Hanlon pulls himself up using the middle rope while Blueberry pushes his groaning body up using his arms.
Hanlon is able to make it up to his feet while Blueberry leans into the ropes and sighs. Bolamba checks both wrestlers and stops his count. Blueberry rushes at Hanlon, who looks out of it.
Except he’s not.
He wraps his hands around Blueberry’s throat, lifts him into the air, turns 180 degrees, and hammers him into the mat.
Nick Stuart: THE EPOCH! THE EPOCH!
Richard Parker: There’s no getting up from that, no siree.
Then, Hanlon looks around the arena before his eyes lock with the Universal Champion, Cancer “Crumb” Jiles, who is enjoying the proceedings with a smug smile. He mockingly claps at Hanlon’s big finish. He grimaces as he inches towards Blueberry, looking to drape an arm over his chest in order to gain the victory.
Yet, he will not get that opportunity.
Nick Stuart: What is going on?!
Richard Parker: Look, look. In the crowd!
Suddenly, a man in black leather pants, a black shirt and black leather jacket slides into the ring. He’s also sporting a black ski mask so no one can tell who he is. The man sees Hanlon trying to make a pinfall attempt.
And the masked man immediately performs a splash to both Blueberry and Hanlon, forcing the referee to call for the bell.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: I believe this match has been thrown out!
An announcement would have been made on the no contest but the masked attacker continues to pummel King Blueberry with a fury of shots. Reina Raspberry slides into the ring, in an attempt to make the save but as she does she hears the crowd screaming. She looks over-
She’s absolutely annihilated by a second man wearing all black with a leather coat and ski mask. The two reasonably muscular men place a fury of boots to Raspberry and Blueberry alongside a chorus of boos.
Referee Timo Bolamba attempts to put a stop to things but he’s pushed down by the second masked man and kicked out of the ring. The time keeper rings the bell but it’s no use, these two individuals are on a mission! Even Hayes Hanlon tries to collect himself but the masked men make quick work of him, hitting Hayes with a double powerbomb and then discarding him to the floor below.
Nick Stuart: We need security out here!
STOMP STOMP STOMPSTOMPSTOMP, it’s a reckless attack as the two men now mount their main targets, The King of Popsicles, hammering lefts and rights with a vengeful rage and zero intention of stopping. The Tag Team Champions are trying to cover up, break free and/or defend themselves. Reina Raspberry knees her attacker in the family jewels and King Blueberry finally has an angle. After placing both arms across his face, he lunges them forward and strikes his attacker square in the nose.
The man shouts; he falls back. This allows Blueberry to escape! KBB looks to his left and sees his partner trying to break free as well. The Boston native takes a run at the second attacker and dropkicks him in the side of the head! The crowd cheers!
It looks like the tables have turned until a THIRD man dressed in black, with the exact same clothing and ski mask hops over the rail and slides into the ring. Reina Raspberry remains on all fours. She sees the third man enter and tries to warn King Blueberry.
But it’s too late.
The third man did not come alone.
Nick Stuart: Is that a steering wheel!?
The play-by-player announcer isn’t wrong. The third man levels King Blueberry on the side of the temple with a steering wheel.
Reina Raspberry can’t defend herself.
She’s cracked on the top of her head with the same wheel.
The two men who were pushed off the champions have now collected themselves. All three attackers stand in the middle of the ring to a chorus of boos. The man with the steering wheel and the second attacker turn to the first, who seems to be nursing his nose from KBB’s earlier blow.
The main man nods.
And all three of them begin stomping the living hell out of the PRIME Champs.
DING DING DING DING DING DING DING
It’s no use. More boos, more stomps. Security runs down to ringside but the third attacker, the one with the steering wheel runs towards the ropes and swings, keeping security at bay. The steering wheel man digs into his jeans and pulls out a crowbar with a rusty nail on top of it. He tosses it to the second man. The second man looks over to security and tells them if they take another step, he’ll use the crowbar and drive the rusty nail into Reina Raspberry’s eye socket, putting her in the hospital and definitely placing her on the injured list.
There’s another stir in the crowd.
Nick Stuart: MORE of them!?
The camera tries to catch the kerfuffle… someone is walking through the crowd and making their way to ringside but this person isn’t tall enough for the camera to find them just yet.
The initial attacker screams at the other two men inside the ring. They once again proceed to mangle and rip apart the champions. The man with the steering wheel takes a few steps back to collapse in the corner. He starts obnoxiously hitting the middle of the steering wheel.
Masked Attacker #3: HONK! HONK! HHHHHHOOOOONNNNNNKKKKKKKKK!!
Finally, there are eyes on the other person making their way to ringside. This individual is short, petite…
And dressed in pink.
From head to toe, just like the others. But this attacker is female and wears a pink bridal dress along with a pink ski mask so her face can’t be seen.
She arrives at the guardrail and daintily steps over it. She looks at security and slides into the ring. She meets eyes with attacker number two… and he stops his beating on Reina Raspberry. She looks over at attacker three.
He just keeps honking the horn.
Attacker #3: HOONNNKKKKK MOTHAFUCKAAAAAAA!!! HONK HONK HONK!!!
And then she looks at the first man. He not only stops his attack, he stands upright and motionless. Seemingly captivated.
The woman in pink slides out of the ring. She pulls back the ring apron and slides in a giant gasoline container. Then she slides in another. Another. Security is kept at bay by the second man, saying he won’t use the crowbar as long as they stay where they are.
The woman in pink enters the ring again. She takes out a face cloth from her pocket.
Nick Stuart: What the hell is going on!?
While the announcers have mainly stayed on radio silence, they start piecing things together.
Richard Parker: No way…
The three men take hold of King Blueberry. The initial attacker flips KBB up-side-down. The third attacker takes the face cloth and drapes it over Blueberry’s mouth. The woman opens a gasoline container and begins to pour its contents over the champion’s face to the loudest boos so far.
Richard Parker: Is that chocolate!?
Nick Stuart: I don’t care what this is! This is disgusting! They’re waterboarding him!
Indeed, they are. Blueberry struggles to find a way out of the towel wrapped around his face but with his mask on, it isn’t helping. The chocolate syrup forces the towel to be stuck there. Reina Raspberry is trying to help but she’s been beaten so badly all she can do is lift an arm and then pass out herself. Security can’t enter, because the second man keeps insinuating he WILL use the crowbar.
The woman in pink opens the second gasoline container. She pours it down King Blueberry’s body and into his face. KBB gags and struggles for air, waving his hands around profusely.
Nick Stuart: THIS NEEDS TO STOP RIGHT NOW!
Richard Parker: It’s one man’s health for another. Security is forced to choose!
The woman in pink discards the entire third container across Blueberry’s face. With KBB passed out, she nods and the initial attacker tosses the fan favourite to the canvas.
Finally, the woman in pink walks right in front of the first man. Although the jeers are loud, the apron camera is able to pick up their discussion.
The Pink Bride: Baby, you okay, baby?
She rips off her mask, revealing herself to be Vickie Hall.
Nuclear heat follows.
Nick Stuart: DAMMIT! What the hell are they doing back!?
Vickie lifts her arms up and takes the ski mask off the first man.
Vickie Hall: You okay, my baby-oh-baby?
Jonathan-Christopher nods, albeit with a tear in his eyes.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: King Strawberry hurt my nose.
Vickie places her hands on his face to examine the blow.
Vickie Hall: Well I’m always willing to look past an imperfection.
The Timid Tiger’s eyes glisten.
Meanwhile, the man with the steering wheel goes back to his spot in the corner. He keeps honking the horn like an obnoxious child wanting attention from everyone. He rips off his mask.
REAL LOVE Darin Zion.
Darin Zion: HONK FOR LOVE, BOOYAKASHA!!
Pretty in Pink Vickie saunters over to the side of the ring and SCREAMS for a microphone. She’s handed one and goes to the center of the squared circle.
Vickie Hall: Hello PRIME! My name is Vickie Hall and THIS is my Amazing Life Partner, Jonathan-Christopher Hall!
Nick Stuart: We know who you are!
Vickie Hall: Over here is his best friend, Darin Zion.
Vickie Hall: And this individual in the middle…
The man with the crowbar takes off his mask. He looks similar to Jonthan-Christopher but not exactly.
Vickie Hall: Is Jonthan-Christopher’s cousin, Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy!
Nick Stuart: Seriously?
Tristan-Crispin gives himself a nice nuzzle hug.
Vicke Hall: And we are here in PRIME for our Hallmark Journey!
She kneels down, right in front of the unconscious King Blueberry.
Vickie Hall: You RUINED the beginning of my Hallmark Journey when you poured chocolate syrup on me. RUINED IT! RUINED IT!!! YOU. RUINED. IT.
With Vickie going through PTSD, it’s clear Jonathan-Christopher has to be there for her. Providing emotional support, he places a gentle hand on her back. Immediately, she’s soothed and responds by standing up and gazing into her man’s eyes before turning to the crowd.
Vickie Hall: We are writing the wrongs. We are FIXING the journey. This is no trial, we are serious. PRIME Wrestling, you’re ALL on notice!
She cackles evilly.
Vickie Hall: Because the LOVE CONVOY has arrived!
Pretty Pink tosses the microphone down. Darin Zion keeps honking like a toddler. Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy just giggles with glee. Security and EMTs are in the ring to check on the Tag Team Champions.
All the while… Jonathan-Christopher holds Vickie in her arms.
Vickie Hall: Do you love me, baby?
The Vow of Virtue nods with passion.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: Of course I love you.
The PRIME signature appears on the bottom of the broadcast feed as Jonathan-Christopher pauses and looks down at their handiwork. The crowd continues to hate everything they see. Zion honks away, Gladhappy jumps up and down like everything’s right in the world and Vicke and her ALP embrace.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: I fucking love you, baby.
She doesn’t bat an eye.
Vickie Hall: I fucking love you, too. Baby.
Oh yeah, they swear now.