We open tonight’s show with a shot of the parking lot of the MGM Grand. Immediately we see a silver pickup truck pull onto the level and find an open spot. The camerman runs up quickly, presumably because he thinks it’s someone we want to see.
He’s wrong, though. No one wants to see Paxton Ray.
The Bayou Butcher opens the door and sees the camera, then looks away with a small smile on his face. He steps down and slams the door, then grabs his gym bag out of the bed of the truck.
He walks towards the entrance, whistling a tune which quickly dies in his throat as he sees three people standing by the entrance. Let’s go over them in order, shall we?
The first is Enemigo XVII. No further information required.
The second is the former Co-Head of Security, and the evening’s main event. His name is Wade Elliott, and he’s angry.
The third is the CEO of PRIME, and judging by the look on her face, Lindsay Troy is angry too.
Paxton Ray: Ah, the red carpet treatment. Hey y’all.
Visible steam rolls out of the ‘Bama Bruiser’s nostrils. The Queen has her arms folded over her chest, and the fingers on her left hand drum against her right bicep.
Lindsay Troy: Going somewhere?
This makes the Lafayette Bruiser raise his eyebrow.
Paxton Ray: Uh, yeah. Got a match. Ya hired me back, ‘member?
Lindsay Troy: Oh, I remember. So you figured you’d mosey on into the arena, do your little stretches, and then go wrestle. That about right?
Paxton Ray: I ain’t much of a mosey-er, nah. But yeah, pretty much.
Lindsay Troy: Mmhmm. Well, I think you can do all that out here. You haven’t really earned the right to be welcomed back fully. What do you guys think?
Wade Elliott: (Growling.) He ain’t earned th’right t’be welcomed back at all.
Enemigo XVII says nothing, naturally.
Paxton looks at his three bouncers refusing to permit entry. There is — for just a second — the beginnings of a snarl on his lips. Then it quickly morphs into a smile.
Paxton Ray: So I’m just gonna stay in the parkin’ lot til it’s time to beat up Mephisto?
The silence they give him is more than enough answer. He nods.
Paxton Ray: Aight. Fair enough.
He swings his gym bag over his shoulder.
Paxton Ray: Hey, good luck in your match, Wade. Ya ever want a bigger challenge than Ol’ Dusty, ya know where t’look.
As Ray turns away, Elliott releases an amused, audible snort. The Bayou Butcher pauses his stride, looking over his shoulder back at the Blue Collar Brawler, who is wearing a rare, wide grin.
Wade Elliott: (Genuinely chuckling.) You really think yer made’ve nails, don’tcha Ray?
And then slowly, that grin fades, and Wade reverts to his thundercloud glare.
Wade Elliott: Son, you’re the softest sum’bitch on the roster.
Lindsay Troy: Oh, one more thing, Paxton, before you find a corner to squat in.
A sly smirk finds its way to her lips.
Lindsay Troy: If I see anything I don’t like out there tonight, or at the Belmont, or…well, anywhere, really…you’ll be making yourself at home back in the New Orleans mud pits.
Paxton doesn’t smile as turns back around, giving a mock salute.
Paxton Ray: Aye aye, cap’n.
And with that we go inside.
COMMERCIAL: 24 HOUR RULE
LARRY TACT VS. EDDIE CROSS VS. MIKE MCGEE
We’re taken into the MGM Grand Garden Arena proper to tens of thousands of screaming PRIMEates holding a boatload of signs…
MIKE MCGEE DRIVES 55 IN THE PASSING LANE
I DISCORDED AND DROVE ALL THE WAY HERE
BEAUTIFUL FRENCH MADE GLUE
I WAS YEETED BY IVAN STANISLAV AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS TOO SMALL 5XL NEW ERA SHIRT!!
PLEASE HIRE NASA TO RETRIEVE CORAL AVALON FROM SPACE, IVAN YEETED HIM TOO HARD
WARMCOLD: IT EASES THE NECKTORAL ACHES
LET REZIN HAVE A FLAMETHROWER
DO A FLIP, GREAT BEAR
“POSSESSION IS 9/10THs OF THE LAW” – YOUNGBLOOD PROBABLY
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT LET REZIN HAVE A FLAMETHROWER
SCG FOR ROTY YOU COWARDS
DEAR DR. REFORM
DO YOU THINK IT MIGHT BE LUPUS?
EDDIE CROSS IS A NEWB
HE PROBABLY COULDN’T EVEN SPEEDRUN MARIO BROS
I ALWAYS THOUGHT CANCER JILES HAD SMALL DICK ENERGY
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS SMALL DUSK ENERGY
WHAT ABOUT SMALL DUCK ENERGY
DAVE GIBSON SHOPS AT BURKES OUTLET
With that, we kick it over to Nick and Richard.
Nick Stuart: We’re jumping into the action right away to kick off this nineteenth installment of ReVival! Triple threat action is on the docket as the veteran Larry Tact gives the formal PRIME welcome to newcomers in “N1GHTCRAW1ER” Eddie Cross and Mr. Middle Management, Mike McGee!
Richard Parker: Larry, Lumbergh, and Lag… OH MY! The McGee guy is mildly interesting, and Timo’s kid is sure to deliver, but Larry Tact has been looking to turn the corner for a while, and I don’t expect he’ll give either of these two an easy time in there.
Nick Stuart: It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Let’s go to Vince, standing ready in the ring!
Smiling proudly into the camera, Vince Howard raises the mic to address the masses.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen… WELCOME to REVIVAL NINETEEN!!
Vince Howard: This is our opening event!
Match Start in 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…
– Eliminate Other Players –
“ISIS (ADHD)” by Joyner Lucas ft. Logic begins, and the arena lights focus on the entry.
One time for them prayin’ on my downfall (Yeah)
Two times for the homies in the chow hall (Whoa)
Three times for them hoes on the internet
Shittin’ on me when they really should get out more
Four times for the days I would hold back (Woo!)
Five times for the bitches who ain’t called back (Yeah)
Six times for the kids like me who got ADHD just to (Brap, brap, brap)
As Joyner Lucas rhymes Eddie “N1ghtCraw1er” Cross steps out of the back followed shortly by Dave Gibson. He adjusts his custom gaming glasses before walking down the ramp focused on the ring. He pauses at the ring steps, taking off his backpack, unzipping the main compartment, and placing it in the corner of the ring. He waits for the transition between Joyner and Logic’s verse before psyching himself up. Vince Howard is waiting.
Vince Howard: The following triple threat contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first, from Detroit, Michigan by way of Orlando, Florida, standing six feet four inches and weighing in at two-hundred and twenty-five pounds… EDDIE “N1GHTCRAW1ER” CROSS!!!
Eddie tosses his glasses to Dave, runs up the ring steps, wipes his feet on the apron, and enters the ring as Logic spits his hook.
Me and Joyner need a couple hearses (Woo!)
Double homicide, kill the beat and the verses
Everybody livin’ on the surface
But we came from the underground, yeah, we deserve it
Eddie rolls his neck and prepares for the match.
“Bright Future in Sales” by Fountains of Wayne plays and the PRIMEView shows a lot of different spreadsheets with formulas and TPS forms.
Vince Howard: Coming next to the ring, hailing from Maplewood, New Jersey, and weighing in at two-hundred and five pounds… the ONLY human resources manager in professional wrestling, MIKE MCGEE!!!
McGee walks to the ring in a “business casual” singlet – double hooked and made to look like a collared shirt and slacks. He sneers at fans and gives out warnings to anyone who speaks out of turn. The PRIME faithful regard Mr. Middle Management with a blend of bemusement and befuddlement.
“Pieces of Man” by Drown plays over the arena speakers as the lights cut out. Royal blue lights flicker on the stage while golden spotlights scan the crowd. They settle on centerstage where Larry Tact stands. He opens his arms and puffs out his chest, soaking in the crowd’s reaction before bellowing and making his way down the ramp, the spotlight following him.
Vince Howard: And introducing the final competitor, fighting out of Manhattan, New York, and weighing in at two-hundred and sixty pounds… here is, LARRY TACT!!!
As he walks, Larry critiques some fans at ringside with petty insults before arriving to the ring, glaring at his opposition. He pulls himself up using the ropes and walks slowly along the apron before wiping his boots and entering the ring. He stretches using the ropes before bouncing from side-to-side.
Nick Stuart: Tact looks focused tonight. Cross as well, as his trainer Dave Gibson gives him some last minute pointers.
Richard Parker: Meanwhile, Mike McGee is offering the ref pointers on how to call the match…
Nick Stuart: He’s not in the ring for more than five minutes, and he’s already lecturing people on their work. Thankfully, Ashley Barlow doesn’t look interested in hearing what he has to say, instead just eager to get this one started as she cues for the bell!
The competitors begin encircling the center of the ring, each man warily looking between opponents to see who is willing to make the first move. A moment later, the trio act simultaneously, with Cross and Tact going into a collar-and-elbow, and McGee backing off into the corner.
Nick Stuart: And here we go, with the veteran Larry Tact and the debuting Eddie Cross pairing off into the collar and elbow! Mike McGee, on the other hand, appears reluctant to jump into the action.
Richard Parker: It’s a rather efficient use of his stamina, Nick, wouldn’t you say?
Nick Stuart: I suppose, only in that he lets the other competitors do all the work. Larry and Eddie are working against one another now… and here’s the veteran Tact wrapping up the waist and taking Cross to the mat!
Tact moves toward the arm to follow up, but Eddie dauntlessly hooks him by the ankle and pulls him down to his level with a quick trip! With Larry on all fours, Cross presses his advantage by jumping onto his exposed back and wrapping his arms around his head.
Nick Stuart: Eddie Cross going for the sleeper… but Tact snapmares to counter out of it, rolling N1GHTCRAW1ER back to the mat! And there’s a chinlock to go with it!
Richard Parker: The kid thought he could gank him, but the ring general Larry Tact knows every trick in the book!
Nick Stuart: Well let’s see what strategy the “general” utilizes to deal with pro wrestling’s only human resources manager, as Mike McGee moves in to finally get himself involved in the action!
McGee shakes his head and tsk-tsks Tact’s form on the chinlock, but nevertheless lands a few stiff kicks to Eddie’s exposed chest. Larry gives Mr. Middle Management a reproachful look in reaction to the criticism, but nevertheless wrenches back on the head of Cross while burying a knee into his back.
Nick Stuart: Tact and McGee seem to find themselves on the same page here, double-teaming Eddie Cross, while Dave Gibson looks on in concern!
Richard Parker: A brilliant tactic, if you think about it. Cooperation benefits productivity in the workplace, and the wrestling ring is no different.
Nick Stuart: Now McGee with another stiff kick–NO! Cross catches him by the foot… and pulls him right into Tact!
Cross rolls free and tends to his neck and ribs while McGee and Tact tumble into a pile. They quickly push themselves to their feet, Larry fuming while Mike tries to give his best apology. Tact doesn’t buy it, lighting up the master of middle management with furious rights and lefts before stuffing him down and hoisting him off the mat by the waist.
Nick Stuart: BIG Gutwrench Suplex by Larry Tact! So much for “cooperation benefiting productivity”, or however you put it! It’s every man for himself, as Tact covers the chest of Mike McGee for the pin!
TW–CROSS quickly breaks it up!
Richard Parker: Kid knows how to deal with campers, thanks to instincts sharpened from years of P-V-P!
At ringside, Gibson supportively pounds the mat, urging on E.C. who stays on the rising Tact with continuous forearm strikes to the back of the head to leave him reeling. Larry attempts to end the onslaught by pulling Cross into a grapple, but the N1GHTCRAW1ER instead drops to his knees and rolls him back to the ring with a smooth fireman’s carry.
Nick Stuart: Quick counter by E.C.! Tact back up… but immediately gets taken down again with a Side Russian Legsweep!
Richard Parker: HEH! PWNED!
Nick Stuart: Did you just say “poned”?
Richard Parker: No, PWNED! Like OWNED! Like he just OWNED him! Habla “L33T Speak”, Nick?
Nick Stuart: I have no idea what you’re talking about, but in terms of this match, I’ll agree that Mike McGee had a definite impact off that move.
Cross plots an armbar, but the veteran’s ring awareness kicks in as he scrambles a few inches in the other direction and quickly snags the ropes. E.C. sneers as he keeps the hold locked in, forcing official Ashley Barlow to step in to begin a count.
“One! Two! Three! Four…”
Nick Stuart: Cross is refusing to break even after the count of four, and now Ashley Barlow has to pull him off and give the young second-generation athlete an earful on respecting her authority between the ropes!
Richard Parker: This isn’t Blood Gulch, kid. There are RULES!
Eddie blows off the official’s attempts to chide him, prompting a disapproving shake of the head from Mike McGee, standing behind him unnoticed. When Cross bends down to go back to work on Tact, Mr. Middle Management creeps up behind him and presses him into the ropes for a bounce of momentum.
Nick Stuart: Belly-to-back suplex by Mike McGee! Eddie Cross forgot about the third man in this match, and paid the price!
Richard Parker: Probably expects him to be the least threatening in this match-up. Which is a big mistake. Take it from me, human resources are NOT to be taken lightly! PRIME’s HR department is still on my case about that comment I made on Angelica’s dress the other week!
Nick Stuart: As they should be, you lout. Back to the action, McGee quickly hooks the legs and rolls E.C. onto his shoulders!
KICKOUT! Cross stays in it!
McGee says to Barlow that if she could um, be a little more on the ball with those counts, that’d be greeeaaat. Meanwhile, Tact is working himself back off the ropes, and immediately zeroes in on Mike as he rises back up to his feet.
Nick Stuart: Tact back up, going for the Big Boot–but NO! McGee narrowly ducks, and snags ahold of the other leg to trip Larry to the mat! McGee now looking for an Ankle Lock… NO!!
Richard Parker: That boot found its mark after all!
The only human resources manager in professional wrestling sprawls awkwardly off the impact of Tact’s grounded kick to the face, stumbling over the recovering Eddie Cross and falling into him. Cross shoves McGee aside as he scrambles to his feet, but Tact is upon him already, doubling him over with a stiff toe kick to the midsection.
Nick Stuart: SNAP POWERBOMB by Larry Tact!
Richard Parker: The fragrance you never forget!
Nick Stuart: Eddie Cross has been laid out, and now Mike McGee gets wrangled back to his feet… and LAUNCHED with The Humbling! The veteran Larry Tact is taking command of the ring!
The Uranage Suplex flings the much smaller McGee wildly across the canvas until he tumbles into a heap. With his ring awareness on display once again, Tact goes for a position facing the N1GHTCRAW1ER as he covers the chest of McGee.
Nick Stuart: Tact with the lateral press! This could be it!
THR–NO WAIT, Barlow sees the leg on the rope!
Richard Parker: Dang… that was a brilliant move by Larry, keeping his eyes on Cross lest the kid try to break up another pin. But he’s probably kicking himself now for not hooking the legs.
Tact grunts with frustration, but stays in control as he delivers a pair of sharp elbows to keep the human resources manager stunned on the mat. Across the ring, Eddie is slowly getting up with the help of the ropes and the encouragement of Dave Gibson. Larry rises back up to his feet, seeing his opportunity to make a move.
Nick Stuart: Tact turning his focus back onto Cross before the rookie athlete can regain his bearings!
Richard Parker: Veteran move there! If he can continue to dominate both opponents from here on out, eventually one will break and give him the pinfall he needs!
Nick Stuart: Cross coming off the ropes… but Tact scoops him onto his shoulders into the Torture Rack! Looking for the TACTILIZER–NO! Wait! What happened?!
Richard Parker: E.C. got a little handsy with Larry’s face and pew-pew’d one of his eyes, I think!
Cross falls off of Tact’s shoulders as Larry, temporarily blinded, grabs at his face in agony. He doubles over and grabs a hold of the middle rope, staring at a fixed point on the mat while blinking, desperately trying to get his vision back. E.C. scrambles to his feet and is about to pounce, when he suddenly finds himself levitating off the mat…
Nick Stuart: MCGEE from BEHIND with a German Suplex… rolls through… ANOTHER German… rolls through… MAKE THAT THREE!
Richard Parker: Why do one when you can do three? That’s how middle management achieves maximum productivity output, Nick! This will look great on his performance review!
Mike McGee ignores the cover when he notices Tact’s position, and immediately sees a window of opportunity opening up before him…
Richard Parker: Uh oh… I feel Larry Tact is about to be moved downstairs into storage B!
Nick Stuart: McGee back on his feet now, taking a bounce off the ropes… sunset flip into OPEN ENROLLMENT–NOOOOPE!!
Richard Parker: Assets LIQUIDATED!
Larry Tact heaves his back at the last possible moment, launching the only human resources manager in professional wrestling out of the 21 Suplex and over the ropes, splattering face first onto the ringside floor!
Nick Stuart: The veteran had that one scouted!
Richard Parker: And perfect timing, as he now has the ring alone with–
Nick Stuart: EDDIE CROSS with the OHKO Spinning Back Elbow blindsides Larry Tact outta NOWHERE! That found its mark perfectly, and Tact is OUT!
Tact hits the canvas like a mighty oak being felled to the earth, and E.C. is upon him immediately. After interlocking the legs, the N1GHTCRAW1ER reaches down and tucks Larry’s head into a dragon sleeper before rolling back.
Nick Stuart: G-G!! Cross has the Surfboard Dragon Sleeper locked in!
Richard Parker: Oh man, he DID gank him after all!
Nick Stuart: Tact has nowhere to go, and with McGee outside the ring, no one to save him!
If the back elbow didn’t put Tact out, then a few moments held inverted in the choke hold finishes the job as his arm goes limp. Barlow doesn’t wait around as she waves for the bell.
DING DING DING
“ISIS (ADHD)” by Joyner Lucas ft. Logic hits the PA. McGee comes into the ring a second too late as Cross releases the hold and gets back to his feet to have his arm raised in victory.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, here is your winner, by submission… “N1GHTCRAW1ER” EEEDDIIIEEE CROOOOOOSSSSSS!!!
Nick Stuart: A victorious debut tonight for the son of our own Timo Bolamba, as Eddie Cross showed poise and focus in that ring to pick up the win!
Richard Parker: Mike doesn’t look too pleased.
Mr. Middle Management is again disappointed with the official’s performance, droning on in the official’s ear about how she should have waited for a tap Barlow ignores him to tend to Tact. E.C. is joined in the ring by Gibson, who approvingly claps his student on the back.
Nick Stuart: No disagreement here with the official’s call; Tact looked legitimately unconscious after that elbow shot, and she had no other choice.
Richard Parker: Maybe, but a guy of Tact’s experience has held out against worse. Even if it was the Play of the Game, Cross got in a lucky shot.
Nick Stuart: In any case, let’s get on with the show, as we head to the back to hear words from the NEW Five Star Champion of PRIME… FLAMBERGE!
We cut to backstage in front of a large PRIME-branded backdrop. FLAMBERGE is pacing back and forth, close to legit mouth-frothing. Rather than his wrestling gear,
FLAMBERGE: BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD EST LE PLUS GROS BÉBÉ DE TOUT PRIME!!
He wipes his face with his palm and slows down his pacing.
FLAMBERGE: This was the FLAMBERGE’S TIME, Youngblood! After the match of the night after the match of the night after the feud of the year after ANOTHER match of the night, the Kid found his way by the hook or by the crook into championship gold, and YOU, THE BABY, COULD NOT ACCEPT THIS. I had plans, dick! Des ballons! Cakes! Fireworks! The Confetti! DO YOU REALIZE THE LOGISTICS??…fine. Ceci aussi devrait passer. Sais-tu ce qui me met en colère? Do you know what makes the FLAMBO this way?
The Frenchman leans in.
FLAMBERGE: It has always been the easy for you – when the PRIMEates and the bootlickers in the back said the Hail Caesar, Long Live The Suplex Papa – to sit upon your little balsa wood perch and rain down your little Fake-Toughie Weewee And The Vinegar at the wrestlers like me who are not impressed by your brand name. What have you accomplished since I entered your world, you Babble Tower? Who are you in PRIME, now that I have fully, TRULY arrived?? YOU’RE NOBODY! PERSONNE! And you resent me for your failings so much that you must steal the glory that is not yours, all while the Driest Tongue in PRIME from all his bootlicking, the bitch Nate Colton, sits on the ground next to your table for the scraps.
FLAMBERGE snorts uncomfortably loudly and hawks up a big ol’ loogie onto the floor. Sorry, MGM Grand custodial staff.
FLAMBERGE: So listen to me, you son of the bitch…you have the two choices. I’m here, Youngblood. I’m here in Las Vegas, and I’m not playing the hard to get – SURRENDER TO ME my Five Star Championship that I rightfully conquered from that tumbleweed Rezin, or you will WISH I was just the wide-eyed boy pulling on ropes pour la chance that you so desperately wish I am.
“HEADS UP! MAKE WAY! COMIN’ IN HOT!”
The sound of rolling caster wheels catches the young Frenchman’s attention, and he notices something quickly approaching. A nonchalant step over to the side helps him avoid an incoming shopping cart barrelling out of control into the shot. It comes to a halt when it crashes headfirst into the wall and send its “pilot” careening into the concrete.
FLAMBO releases an annoyed groan, knowing that instead of getting the man he called out, he now has to endure this Goat Bastard. Rezin croaks in pain from the floor, but nevertheless fights through it as he pushes the cart off of him and stumbles back to his feet.
Rezin: (rubbing his head) Slow your role there, FLAMBURGLAR! Or as they say from your neck of the woods… ralentis ton croissanwich!
FLAMBERGE opens his mouth to speak, perhaps to correct his French, but shuts it as soon as Rezin’s filthy palm appears inches from his face.
Rezin: Now, I know what you’re gonna say! In fact, I know how this whole confrontation you’re baitin’ us into is gonna shape out! Which is exactly why I’m here!
His crazed grin finds the camera. FLAMBO rolls his eyes, deciding to himself if he should choke out this maniac now or later.
Rezin: See, I went ahead and created an artistic dramatization of how all of this is likely gonna play out, just to save us all the time of having to sit through it! Let’s roll the tape!
He snaps to someone off camera.
Rezin: Hit it, Jerry!
Production Assistant: But my name is Paul!
Rezin angrily shakes his fist at the voice.
Rezin: GODDAMBIT JUST PLAY THE TAPE BEFORE I COME OVER THERE AND HIT YOU!!
It begins with a black screen, followed by the following caption:
A COMPLETELY TRUE AND FACTUAL DRAMATIZATION OF COMPLETELY TRUE AND FACTUAL EVENTS
Amazingly, none of the letters are backwards. You owe someone ten bucks.
From there, it fades into the inside of the MGM Grand, where ReVival 19 is about to start. But something looks…off. Let’s chalk it up to artistic license.
FLAMBERGE walks to the ring. He is mad and French. He has a microphone.
FLAMBERGE: Je suis le mad!
STUFF FOR THE STUFF GUY
This brings out Brandon Youngblood and his adorable new puppy, Nate Colton. Brandon has the Five Star Title over his shoulder. Nate starts barking at the camera, because he’s from Indiana and technology frightens him.
Brandon Youngblood: I understood what you said because I am mad and Canadian. You cost me my belt so I’m taking yours, neener neener.
FLAMBERGE cries, as he is powerless in the face of the double-neener.
Brandon Youngblood: I am the big bastard man and I will beat up everyone and win this belt for realsies at Colossus.
Nate Colton: *whines*
Brandon Youngblood: Yes, you too. I’m sad that I have to kill you already because you just got your shots.
Nate Colton walks to the corner of the ring and squats down, never breaking eye contact with Brandon.
Brandon Youngblood: No! Bad Nate!
FLAMBERGE: Ring is for the wrestling, not the pooping!
Rezin appears. He is wearing a monocle, but not where you think.
Rezin: My word. Gentlemen, it seems we are at an impasse. Allow me to settle this matter with my debate skills, which I learned while a professor at that greatest of educational institutions, Purdue.
He points at Nate Colton, who is still trying to poop.
Rezin: You will stop that at once. Sir, you are not a dog. You are a MAN, from the great state of Indiana!
The crowd cheers, because none of them have ever been to Indiana. Nate stops pooping and stands up.
Nate Colton: You’re right. I had forgotten myself, and have brought shame upon my homeland. I am sorry.
Rezin now looks at FLAMBERGE.
Rezin: And you, young man. Quit being so…French.
FLAMBERGE: Ik zal het in overweging nemen.
Rezin: And finally, Mister Youngblood.
Brandon wakes up. He often falls asleep when people are not yelling at him in French.
Rezin: I am aware that you are a big bastard man, but I regret to inform you that you shall not beat everyone up and win the Five Star Title for realsies at Colossus.
Brandon Youngblood: Yes I will! FOR. REALSIES.
Rezin: Rather, I will be the one winning the Five Star Title for realsies.
Brandon and FLAMBERGE can’t be mad at this statement, because they’re already mad. Nate Colton tries to get mad, but the only emotion he can handle is Indiana, so he just does more of that.
Brandon Youngblood: No! I want the title!
FLAMBERGE: I want the title!
Nate Colton: I want the title!
Stupid Dog: I want the toilet seat!
Twisted Sister: I WANNA ROCK!
As Twisted Sister starts playing, the four contenders squabble in the ring until separated by security.
Richard Parker: We did it! We solved all the world’s problems! SUCK IT, MEET THE PRESS!
Nick Stuart: And now, onto the next thing which is also very important.
The camera zooms out… revealing the ring to be of tiny scale, and the figures crashing into each other to be plastic action figures, clenched into the hands of none other than Rezin. The Escape Artist compliments the action with by making explosion noises with his mouth.
Rezin: CRRSSHH!! FWWOOOSSH!! BRRAAAGGHH!! GGRRRMMMSHH!!
He stops as soon as he notices the camera is on him, and smiles sheepishly.
Rezin: Ummm uhhhhhh… FORGET WHAT YOU SAW HERE!!
He darts out of the frame.
We cut back to Rezin and FLAMBO backstage, now in the flesh.
Rezin: Shit, I forgot to cut that part out…
FLAMBERGE: La poupée Geordi La Forge avec la boule de coton collée sur sa tête est-il censé être moi?
The young Frenchman starts self-consciously touching his hair.
Rezin: Thanks! I thought it was good too! But now hopefully you see my point, FLAMBO… this shit’s gonna devolve into absolute CHAOS one way or another! And when that happens, Brandon Youngblood is gonna be the LEAST of your worries when I come to take that belt back! And yeah, I’m sure you’re probably feelin’ pretty damb proud of yourself after knockin’ me off my throne two weeks ago! Ya earned it, kid, so savor the moment… cause NEXT TIME–NEGGZ THYME, FLAMBO–if you think I’m gonna roll over and let myself be choked out again, THEN LEMME TELL YA RIGHT NOW THAT I’M–BLEGHK!!
Rezin’s insane rant is cut short when FLAMBERGE swiftly snatches him by the beard and yanks him into the Marie Antionette!
The Five Star Champion cinches his forearm deep into the former champion’s neck while Rezin wildly thrashes in an effort to free himself… his flailing arms and legs growing ever slower and weaker as FLAMBO continues to choke him out… and finally, he goes limp.
FLAMBERGE: Au revoir, dickhead.
FLAMBERGE dumps Rezin’s unconscious husk back into the shopping cart in which he came and kicks it back down the hallway. Rezin rolls out of the shot with a prolonged snore.
FLAMBERGE: Maybe I will hunt down the Youngblood myself, instead.
FLAMBO strides in the opposite direction of the shopping cart.
ReVival heads backstage and finds the Queen of the Ring walking through the hall on her way back to her office. The angry look on her face from her encounter with Paxton Ray hasn’t faded, but the promise of a few moments’ peace to re-center herself is sure to do wonders.
Of course, she’s not going to get it, because as recent history has proven she can’t have nice things.
Troy rounds a corner and looks down the corridor, spying Enemigos IV and V standing on either side of her door, and the Universal Champion waiting in front of it. She throws her head backwards and lets out an audible groan of annoyance, which makes all three men’s heads turn her way.
Lindsay Troy: What. What could you possibly want?
Cancer Jiles: Free reign.
Lady Troy bellows from her diaphragm. The whole bit almost exhausts her. Then she smiles, satisfyingly.
Lindsay Troy: Try again, Pizmo.
Cancer Jiles: (shrugging) Worth a shot. Say, I noticed we’re still using the old advert for COOLOSSUS. You know, the dumber, stupider, sillier, misspelled one that nobody cares about.
And there goes her smile.
Cancer Jiles: I thought we agreed to go with the fresh, hip, much COOLER one that is actually marketable and gets the people going. What gives?
E4 suffers another fainting spell. E5 luckily catches him.
Lindsay Troy: Funny, I don’t remember us having that conversation at all. In fact, let me tell you what I do remember, since I was just thinking about it the other day. I remember when Balaam almost killed you.
Lindsay Troy: If only I knew then what I know now….
The Champ gasps for air, as if the Mask of Malice himself were choking the life out of him yet again.
Cancer Jiles: Well, if you won’t give me that I want something else. It might surprise you to know it is something other than free reign, too.
Lindsay Troy: I’m on the edge of my seat.
Cancer Jiles: I want a fair shot to defend the UNIVERSAL TITLE.
The Queen tilts her head to the left, confused.
Lindsay Troy: Come again?
Cancer Jiles: I don’t want that insect — that deplorable Samoan Slob — to be anywhere near my match at COOLOSSUS. I don’t want him as a part of my safety entourage for my grand entrance, and more importantly I do want him inside the ring for my MAIN EVENT.
The Champ thrusts his finger towards the ground, as if that is supposed to help his argument.
Cancer Jiles: Timo’s cheated me enough, and I can not trust him. Not to mention he has too much yolk in his eyes. Glasses or not, he’s really a liability to us all.
The Queen rolls the imaginary yolk from her eyes.
Cancer Jiles: We need someone dependable; who doesn’t stand inside the shadow of doubt.
Lindsay Troy: In other words you’ve tortured and robbed Timo so badly you no longer trust him to do the right thing, and you want me to make it right by removing the Senior Offical from the biggest match of the year?
Cancer Jiles: If that’s how you want to see it and I get my wish, yes.
Lindsay Troy: Uh huh. And who might you suggest in his stay?
Cancer Jiles: You. I want you to be one to count my three. Honor, dignity, competition… they all trust you to do the right thing even in the darkest of moments. Plus, I want to look into your eyes and revel as your soul leaves your body.
If looks could kill, the Maestro would be a pile of ash at Lindsay’s feet.
Cancer Jiles: Calm down. I’m just kidding. Besides, I know you don’t have a soul to begin with. Hell, it’s why I can trust you.
The Queen of the Ring remains unamused. Her Champion on the other hand has stolen her smile and made it his own.
Cancer Jiles: Think about it. You do this for me and who knows? Maybe I’ll start pronouncing things the right way.
Confident, Jiles turns on his heel and glides off towards COOLYMPUS. The Enemigos follow silently after him, leaving Troy alone once more.
KENNY FREEMAN VS. BOBBY DEAN
Nick Stuart: Next up, Kenny Freeman and Bobby Dean set to square off! Richard, hit me with some of your thoughts on this weird entanglement in the tag division.
Richard Parker: The only entanglements I care about are the knots in poor Randall Schwartz’s necktoral muscles.
Nick Stuart: Those aren’t a thing. You know that, right?
Richard Parker: Are you saying the basic anatomy 101 course at Hollywood Upstairs Medical School lied to me?
Nick Stuart: In no uncertain terms… yes.
“You’re the Best Around” hits on the PA as a mixed reaction, mostly boos, fills the arena for the arrival of the Beautiful Man from Honalee. Bobby Dean steps out of the curtain holding a turkey leg in each hand. He is air-drumming with them, poorly, to the rhythm of the song.
Richard Parker: I’m speechless.
Nick Stuart: I’m not! Thanksgiving is in six days, Richard. It’s Bobby’s favorite day of the year!
Bobby grooves and glides gracefully to the ring working the imaginary skins with those turkey drums oblivious to the crowd’s reactions to him. He climbs the apron and rolls into the ring, putting one turkey leg in his mouth while slipping his left arm out of the robe and then switching and repeating with the right.
Vince Howard: This match is scheduled for ONE FALL! Arriving to the ring, from Houston, TX weighing in at 369 pounds, he is the Beautiful Man from Honalee and one third of the eGG Bandits…
The crowd boos LUSTILY at the mention of Cancer Jiles’ band of miscreants.
Vince Howard: …BOBBY DEEEEEEEEEEAAAANNNNNN!!
Bobby raises both drums in the air, soaking in the reaction from the crowd. The PA dies down momentarily before “Let Me Entertain You” replaces it. Kenny Freeman emerges holding the latest Food-O-Matic model, this time with “bass processing” technology, with Randall Schwartz in a neck brace trailing. Fans in the audience who are old enough to remember first-cast Saturday Night Live are buzzing to themselves.
Vince Howard: His opponent, weighing in at 160 pounds and hailing from Los Angeles, CA, he is one half of Masters of the Multiverse… B-Team… KENNY FREEEEEEEEEEEEMANNNNNNNNNN!!
Kenny hands the food processor off to Randall, and hops on the apron.
Jimmy Turnbull calls for the bell…
DING DING DING
And the match begins with K-Free approaching Big Beautiful Bobby looking to lock up with him. He attempts to reach in, but Bobby bonks him in the head with one of the turkey legs. Kenny gives an exaggerated “OUCH!” while clutching his head before moving back in to try again. The Biggest Bandit hits him in the head with the other turkey leg.
Richard Parker: No fair! That’s contraband! Turnbull, do something!
Nick Stuart: I agree it’s weaponry, unorthodox as it is, but you should know by now PRIME officials give a lot of latitude towards Bobby Dean for using food in a match.
Richard Parker: Yeah, I see that. I wouldn’t want to see him hangry either.
Kenny moves in one more time, ducking down to avoid a turkey leg bop, but Bobby, the quickest he’s ever moved, dips his right arm down and uppercuts the turkey leg into Kenny’s mouth, trying to shove it down his throat. He pushes Kenny’s head up and back in a makeshift mandible claw, using the turkey leg as leverage, all while shouting at Turnbull “ASK HIM! ASK HIM!”
Nick Stuart: Even if he does give up, I’m not sure it’d be legal.
Richard Parker: I’m just impressed Bobby is sharing his food for once.
Turnbull exhausts his five count and is able to wrest both turkey legs from Bobby’s grasp. The Big Man from Honalee sulks at the loss of his mid-match snack, which gives Kenny the open door to wrap the big man’s arm behind his back in a hammerlock. Bobby shoots his free elbow back to break the hold, but Kenny outfoxes him by dodging and floating into a side headlock. Bobby pushes off, sending Kenny into the ropes. K-Free charges in, only to be sent back down to the mat with a shoulder block. He gets up again and charges off the ropes on his own volition this time. As Bobby braces for another shoulder block, Kenny puts on the brakes and pokes the big man in the eye.
Nick Stuart: Dirty pool from Kenny Freeman there!
Richard Parker: What do you mean? I didn’t see anything, just good clean Greco-Roman wrestling from someone wrestling a dirty rotten eGG Bandit.
Nick Stuart: What part of the Roman Empire emphasized eye gouges?
Richard Parker: Malta. Never trust the Maltese.
As Bobby staggers around the ring holding his face, Kenny hits him with a quick drop toehold before wrenching in a side headlock on the mat. While Turnbull’s attention is squarely on the headlock in the ring, the crowd turns its collective gaze to the entryway.
Nick Stuart: Oh wow, look at who’s come to pay a visit!
Richard Parker: Just what we need. Kickpads and the OSU Man.
Nick Stuart: Now, now Richard, he says a lot more words than OSU now.
David Fox starts jawing with Randall Schwartz at ringside while Mushi takes dead stare at Bobby Dean, still in the headlock, laughing at him. In the confusion, Fred Mayhew ambles down to the ring to even the odds for his side, taking no time to get right in the faces of Fox and Schwartz. Freeman breaks the hold and starts jawing at Mushi, but the God-Beast shockingly waves him off and says he wants Bobby Dean.
Richard Parker: Already too many people at ringside right now. I’m starting to get nervous. This is like when I went to Altamont.
Nick Stuart: I know for a fact you were too young to have gone to that music festival.
Richard Parker: Who said anything about a music festival? This was in 1996 for a Beanie Babies Convention.
Turnbull warns all the competitors on the outside to knock it off, but the congregation grows as Bobby Dean rolls to the outside to take umbrage directly with the Kaiju. They start arguing, while Kenny drops to the outside to usher Randall away from the Fox/Mayhew conflagration. Freeman sneaks back into the ring as Mushi keeps his interactions with Bobby verbal only to avoid handing him a win. Turnbull begins to count.
Bobby is oblivious as he’s getting even more heated at Mushi’s mere presence. The two titans of the ring are face to face, arguing over something.
Bobby hears the count and goes to turn around to get back in the ring. However, Mushi has other ideas and turns him around to say one last thing to his face.
Bobby Dean: Whaa?
In his confusion, he misses Turnbull’s final count.
Jimmy Turnbull: RING THE BELL!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner, as a result of a countout, KENNY FREEMAN!
Bobby and Fred are STUNNED. Randall joins Kenny in the ring, arms raised, but Mayhew jumps in to chase after them. No sooner does he hop on the apron do they drop out and escape through the crowd. Meanwhile, David drags Mayhew off the apron and, with the match decided, Mushi finally throws a blow at Bobby. The two teams brawl around the ring, but security is quick to get out there to keep it from escalating.
Richard Parker: Aww, it was just getting good! I wanted to see the Mix smash those eGGs into oblivion.
Nick Stuart: There’s already been too much extracurricular violence here in PRIME lately. Regardless, we’re going to have to take a commercial break. We’ll be right back after these messages!
Richard Parker: Hopefully not from WarmCold.
COMMERCIAL: ACE NETWORK
The backstage hallway and all the random doors leading from it are eerily quiet as The Anglo Luchador takes his time filling up a steel water bottle from the cooler. He doesn’t have anything scheduled for the evening, no promos, no interviews with Richard and Nick, but he likes being around, especially now that the time between matches is rife with scoundrels making their presence felt in extracurricular fashion. Paxton Ray being backstage again alone gave him cause enough to be in the building anytime production was taking place. His lucha mask can’t hide the frustration in his eyes distracting him from the task on hand. As the water he’s not paying attention to spills from the top of an overfilled bottle, he recoils.
Voice from Off-Camera: You know, a supposed “good guy” like you really ought to watch his language.
The camera turns to show Tony Gamble walking towards the Intense Champion, who is rolling his eyes at the incursion upon his privacy.
Tony Gamble: You never know who might be around to hear it. I heard Voss might show up one of these days, and I’d hate for the 15 or so of his kids who are still young enough not to know that word is bad to be given a negative impression.
TAL: What do you want, Wingtips? I don’t have time for your sales pitch again.
Tony Gamble: Sales pitch… Oh, that’s right, you thought I was asking you to join the Gee Aye Ess last Revival. I’m not gonna lie, you’d be an okay addition to the group, but there’s just something about you that just wouldn’t fit. It would be like using a Duplo block in the middle of a Lego build, and we have standards. What I was offering though, was a bit of protection, because seeing you walk around backstage like a puppy being anytime to rub his belly or scratch behind his ear was pathetic. Especially when everyone seemed too busy, or just plain uninterested, in giving you any attention.
Tony presses his pointer finger against the corner of his eye, then drags it down his cheek as he forces his permanent grin into a semi frown.
TAL: A protection racket? Man, I should have figured that out the moment you came back. How much you trying to extort from me, five, six figures?
Tony Gamble: I’m not a monster, and quite frankly I’m offended you would think I would expect anything in return for offering my services. Your well being is plenty payment for making sure compost like the Halls and Ray don’t cause PRIME to fester, but you don’t trust me… so I get it. I just hope you don’t get placed in a position that makes you regret that decision.
The luchador sets the bottle down on the floor and approaches Gamble with a steely look in his eyes.
TAL: Out of one side of your mouth, you say I don’t trust you, and then out the other you give me a reason not to. What makes you think you’re not part of that same compost heap those other miscreants are? I know what you’ve done here isn’t nearly on their level so far, but I know my history.
He pauses pregnantly before uttering what comes next.
TAL: I know about you and your pal Devin Shakur.
Gamble smirks, the extent of his reaction to his pointed history.
TAL: I know what you’re capable of, and I don’t want any of it. You want to show you’re a changed man? Release Mort from his indentured servitude. Don’t make it so Dam and Wade have to drag you kicking and screaming to face off against Craig. Keep your nose out of matches that don’t concern you. Until then, whatever it is you’re offering, whatever edge you think you can give me? I don’t want any goddamn part of it.
Tony steps back with his hands raised.
Tony Gamble: No need to get your panties in a bunch, I simply wanted to offer my assistance. It’s funny though, that you’re hesitant to trust that I’m capable of changing, considering you yourself sported your own set of stripes not too long ago.
With two fingers pressed against his forehead in salute, Tony tips his head toward the Intense champion.
Tony Gamble: The offer stands, regardless.
The luchador shakes his head and turns around to pick the water bottle off the floor. Just then, the camera falls over as if the cameraman was run into. The final frame shows a water bottle crashing to the floor as the scene cuts away from backstage, not showing anything indicating what may have caused the supposed accident.
I FEEL YOU. DO YOU FEEL ME?
Backstage, we can assume.
Sage Pontiff, The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience himself, is not pacing. Many fighters find themselves full of excess energy before a bout–Sage finds himself standing very still in a deep horse stance, his hands extended. Say what yuou want about his philosophy, but his physical frame is top-notch, a testament to lean muscle that he makes look effortless. His eyes are closed, but he speaks nonetheless, taking in a slow inhale of breath and then speaking as he lets it out, circular.
Sage Pontiff: The thing about paths is that while we forge our own, sometimes two souls are sort of…intrinsically linked, right? Like they’ll keep seeing one another. Keep crossing. Call it deja vu, or fate, or harmonious vibration, whatever you’d like–but no matter how hard you try, you’ll always end up at the same destination. And fighting against those universal currents…you can try. You can even live a relatively normal life, for a while. But you’ll either be brought back to where you started, or dragged into the undertow.
The stance breaks as he gets to his feet. Shirtless in fisherman’s pants that seem comfortably oversized, his dreadlocks sway for a moment as he considers the floor. His eyes are rueful. Almost sad.
Sage Pontiff: I don’t want to see Ria drown. I want to see her soar.
Eyes, competing colors, meet the camera. He addresses one who isn’t present–one who when they last met he beat into a pulp.
Sage Pontiff: I know you’re out there, Ria. I can…
He holds his hand out. His eyes close. Head back. Feel the energy.
Sage Pontiff: …I can feel you. Can you feel me? My hand is extended. Extend yours.
Long pause. Transference of vibration.
Sage Pontiff: Feel that. That is the pull of inevitability, Ria. That is the pull of our lives being interwoven at this crossroads. Feel my frequency, tune in to me, right? Because this isn’t going away. You can come here, right now, and beat me bloody–I welcome it! I’ll enjoy it! But it won’t mean anything if the work hasn’t been done. If the third eye is not open, if you are not resonant within yourself. You understand that.
His eyes open and there is a moment, the briefest of one, where they flash. Call it a trick of the light.
Sage Pontiff: Don’t you?
Hands onto hips, akimbo.
Sage Pontiff: As I understand it, you’ve all but disappeared. People who know you say things, and I hear them. But I know you’re here. I know you’re close. I can feel you. Can you feel me? Your soul is reaching out. Yearning. The facets that you’ve tried to swallow and bury are starved, Ria. Now they’re lashing out, and you’re paying a grave psychic price for it. You can tell me you’ve made your peace, but your peace is a thing of repression. Of not nurturing parts of you in the hope that they will just perish. All I can see is your pain. And all you have to do to escape it, all you have to do is heal is to…take my hand. Embrace yourself. Allow yourself to find harmony. Battle with the Bodhisattva. Ascend. Transcend.
Sage’s smile is so easy and charming, we can see why he either helps or dupes so many. It cuts across his face in the way that men in magazines smile, but it’s not an affectation. It’s just how he is. He holds his rangey arms out in an almost joyous shrug.
Sage Pontiff: I will win tonight or I will lose tonight. In so much as our paths have been linked, my fate tonight is already something that has yet to happen and is happening, it is both historical and imagined. Right?
The smile gets even wider.
Sage Pontiff: I hope we both bleed.
Now the smile fades, not for sadness. Back to his standard setting, somewhere amidst permanently stoned and truly enlightened.
Sage Pontiff: But whether I’m getting the hand raised or going out on my back…Ria, I’ll always return to you. Because our work is not done. There is dissonance in the psychosphere that will not be resolved until we finish that work. And when we’re done…you will feel light as a feather. Enlightened. Soaring. A being of love. I feel you.
The countenance of Buddha breaks into a smirk.
Sage Pontiff: Do you feel me?
With that, he clasps hands and bows deeply, reverently. Then he pops his back and begins to walk out of frame. We cut away.
ANNA DANIELS VS. SAGE PONTIFF
Cut to the ring.
Nick Stuart: Up next we have an interesting little matchup between PRIME mainstay Anna Daniels, and relative newcomer Sage Pontiff. Anna comes into the match trying to get back on the right track after losing a close one to Nate Colton on the last ReVival, and Sage is looking for his first PRIME win after succumbing to Adam Ellis back on ReVival 16.
Richard Parker: Should be a doozy,
The entire area fades to black, causing the PRIMEates in attendance to steadily come to a hush. After a moment, the beginning guitar notes of Solid Space’s “A Darkness In My Soul” begin. Nothing comes on the PRIME*view to note exactly who is coming out. Suddenly, a spotlight pierces through the dark pointed to the top on the entrance ramp. Anna Daniels stands there, her profile positioned towards the light. She lets it wash over her while letting the fans get a good look at the merchandise. Finally, she glances at the ring with a small smirk on her face.
As The Muse takes her time heading to the ring, she wistfully observes the goings on around her as if getting into a certain type of groove that only she can hear. Her strolling sways almost like she’s dancing from time to time. Her robe and headpiece–once more regal and dazzling artifacts from her homeplanet–are in various stages of disrepair and utter damage. Anna slaps a hand or two, nods a little to those in attendance. Once ringside, she motions for somebody to take the robe and headpiece which when taken nearly make the poor sap fall over.
She makes her way to the stairs and slinks along the apron, wiping her feet before entering the ring. Immediately after, she nearly chases off the ref in a sudden blur of action before smiling yet again. Casually, she strolls to a corner with her head bopping before perching herself onto the top rope laid out like a French girl people like to paint.
Richard Parker: Someone get me a blank canvas!
Nick Stuart: Keep it above the belt, Dick.
Richard Parker: That’s no fun.
“Satori Part II” by Flower Travelin’ Band echoes over the 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 bowing to the crowd. He moves to the other side, doing the same.
Nick Stuart: Sage might want to save one of those prayers for the wrestling gods.
Richard Parker: HAIL HOYT!
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 before the bell.
Nick Stuart: Eventually Elvis Nixon is going to have to break up this stalemate.
Elvis calls for the bell.
Nick Stuart: And… And….
Neither Anna or Sage budge from their respective corners. Even after referee Elvis Nixon admonishes them, neither budge. Both are cozy.
Richard Parker: Uh…
Nick Stuart: So…
Richard Parker: Is this whole thing rehearsed? Is it a ploy to sell t-shirts? Is Sage waiting for the prayer basket to finish making the rounds? Or does the match writer not know enough about these two to continue?
Nick Stuart: All fair questions.
Finally, Sage moves towards the center of the ring; breaking the stalemate. Anna hops down from her perch and meets him. Both seem to look past the other, and to the corner from which their opponent came.
Nick Stuart: Looks like they are wondering if the grass is greener on the other side.
Richard Parker: Sure does. I’ll have to find out what we’ve been putting in those turnbuckles.
Eventually Anna can’t help herself; she starts to cut down Sage and all he stands for. She first does so with her vicious words, and then she actually does it by sweeping his legs. Once down on the mat she quickly mounts him, and begins striking him like he owed her money. Sage throws his leg on the rope, which causes referee Elvis Nixon to break up the hold. Sage rolls outside the ring to catch his breath, while Anna dares him to get back inside the ring.
Nick Stuart: I’ll tell you this much, I don’t think Sage has an answer for Anna’s takedown game. He might have to get creative and try to put her away quickly.
Sage barks at Elvis to get Anna back before reentering the ring. He slides under the bottom rope, and charges in. Anna ducks a clothesline attempt, but the nimble Sage bounces off the ropes and hits her with a leaping forearm strike on the rebound. He doesn’t waste any time and goes for a quick cover.
Nick Stuart: Quick kick out from Anna! Gonna take a lot more than that to keep her down.
Both Anna and Sage are quick to their feet. The two exchange a flurry of blows in the center of the ring, which Anna gets the better of after placing her thumb in Sage’s eye. He reels back in agony, and Anna follows him in close pursuit. She reaches out and spins him around by his shoulder.
Richard Parker: WOW! HE DROPPED HER WITH ONE PUNCH!
Nick Stuart: Anna is out cold. I don’t even know if she is breathing.
The announce team isn’t kidding, and upon further review, from the reverse angle per se, you can see Sage Pontiff reeling in agony and as he’s reeling he’s also reaching into his tights to retrieve a foreign object. Anna, who is too busy smelling blood never sees it coming, and neither does Elvis Nixon who was trained by Timo so obviously he would be out of place.
Nick Stuart: Well that makes a little bit more sense.
Richard Parker: When in Rome.
Sage tosses the equalizer out of the ring and then in a very dramatic fashion army crawls his way to an easy pin.
Elvis Nixon drops down to make the count.
Nick Stuart: NO! She kicked out! Anna kicked out! It was close but she got that shoulder up. You wonder if he didn’t do the dramatic crawl if Sage would have won this match.
Richard Parker: Guaranteed.
Replay once again comes in handy as a side by side shot shows Anna getting her shoulder up at the last possible millisecond. Sage argues with Elvis Nixon over the call but it gets him nowhere. In the meantime Anna stumbles her way to her feet. She gets behind Sage and tries to wrap him up. However, she’s still feeling the effects of the loaded punch, and as such isn’t able to be as stealthy as she needs to be. Sage takes advantage, and is able to quickly roll her up.
Elvis drops down.
Nick Stuart: NO WAY! Just when it looked like Anna was about to make a thrilling comeback Sage manages to roll her up for a three count! Crazy match, and a big win for the Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience.
Richard Parker: Buy her shirt.
The match concludes with Sage and his hand raised high in victory.
Nick Stuart: We’re back from commercial break and…
PRIME’s play-by-play commentator stops dead in his tracks as “Better Than You” by Metallica interrupts him.
Richard Parker: Yes! A visit from Tony Gamble!
Nick Stuart: This isn’t on my runsheet, what’s the meaning of this?
Richard Parker: You need to adore Gamble more, Nick. Stop asking so many questions.
As the highlights of Gamble’s illustrious career play on the PRIMEview, the Permascar Superstar emerges, arms outstretched, with Mortimer Knightengale behind him and flanking him to his left. Gamble preens to the crowd as he strolls forward. As he gets a third of the way down the aisle, his business associates, Domingo Cruz and Frank Pastore, slowly cross over from Argyle position dragging a limp, masked body wearing a “Fighting for Jonathan” shirt.
Nick Stuart: Oh no, did the GAS assault The Anglo Luchador backstage after the cameras stopped rolling from when they were on screen?
Richard Parker: That’s a wild accusation, Nick. We gotta hear Tony out. Remember that episode of The Simpsons where the clumsy waiter wrongfully accused that Quimby boy of roughing him up when it was due to his own incompetence?
Nick Stuart: That’s a cartoon, Rich.
The luchador is clearly groggy and barely conscious as blood oozes from the holes on his torn and tattered mask. His shirt is stretched out and bloodied. His eyes are glassy as the GAS associates drag him to the ring. Mort stands in the corner, looking as if he wishes he were anywhere else, while Tony heads over to Vince Howard to ask for a microphone. The GAS associates lift the luchador onto the apron and shove him haphazardly under the ropes. Tony taps on the microphone before lifting it to his mouth.
Tony Gamble: Look at this… I hate to be the one to say I told you so, but I warned him that he was barking up too many trees. I told him, in words that you younger generation may understand a bit better, that he was chasing too much smoke and he shouldn’t be wandering around alone. He did not listen, mocked me for offering my assistance, and now he is laying there bleeding all over the mat like his week has come.
Gamble makes his way closer to the ring ropes, a fire in his eyes as he continues.
Tony Gamble: It didn’t have to be that way, but I get it. I of all people know that PRIME has always been a place where violence runs rampant, and Angie here has never held back in pointing out that I was one of the ones causing that violence. I don’t deny my past, hell it got me in the PRIME Hall of Fame, and to where I am today. But there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Assholes like Paxton Ray and the Love Convoy have repeatedly crossed that line, and while Angie doesn’t want my assistance he doesn’t deserve to be left in the back fighting everyone’s fights on his own. He shouldn’t be in the locker rooms and hallways begging to fight alongside your supposed good guys, only to be brushed aside or ignored because he is only top tier in his own mind. He may not be on the level of Hayes Hanlon, or have the youthful aggressiveness of Nate Colton, but he doesn’t deserve to be ignored or kicked to the curb because of it. Not when all he wants to do is prove that he is here to be a pillar of PRIME’s ReVival.
Tony turns and looks down at The Anglo Luchador as he starts to stir, then makes his way over to his side and squats down next to him.
Tony Gamble: Don’t worry, Angie. I’m going to find out who did this to you, and i am going to make them pay… No, we’re going to make them pay, because we are not going to stand by and let people do whatever the hell they want. Lindsay Troy and her ragtag group of merry men may have their hands tied in red tape, because they have morals and children that look up to them and expect them to carry themselves to a higher standard, but I don’t give a damn what kids think of me and I wipe my ass with red tape.
Tony stands back up and motions for Pastore and Cruz to pull TAL out of the ring.
Tony Gamble: So I want whoever did this to listen up… You’re going to get what is coming to you, so be ready because…
Something – no, someone – comes running out from Argyle position and catches Tony’s attention. He drops the microphone and motions for the rest of the Gamble Adoration Syndicate to scatter into the crowd. Not from fear of the lone man heading toward the ring, but because that is not why he is out here and he is sure that the man is not responsible for the Intense Champion’s current state – Dusk. He chases off the GAS and covers the luchador.
Nick Stuart: Finally!
Richard Parker: But it was just getting good!
Nick Stuart: You’re incorrigible sometimes, you know that?
Dusk helps the luchador to his feet and keeps him upright as they walk to the back, presumably to pay a visit to Dr. Fihlguud.
Nate Colton enters the parking lot of the MGM Grand, his stride quickening. A parking lot attendant looks up.
Parking Lot Attendant: Everything okay, Mr. Colton?
Nate Colton: Yeah. Just left something in my car.
He walks down the aisle of the parking lot, keeping to the side to avoid any cars. As he gets closer to his car, he starts to hear grunting. Thinking something’s wrong, he speeds up until he gets to an empty spot which actually isn’t empty at all.
Paxton Ray sits there, or rather sit ups there. He is continuing to do sit ups even as his eyes land on the Next Diamond. After a few more, he finally stops and looks up at Nate.
Paxton Ray: Sup, Hog?
Nate Colton: Hmmph.
Colton’s expression sours, and he turns to walk away. Paxton stands up, dusting his hands off.
Paxton Ray: Man. Never knew a Midwestern kid t’ be rude on th’ outside. Usually y’all jus’ cover it up with fake nice.
As he turns back toward the Bayou Butcher, Nate lets out a heavy sigh. Clearly he would have been perfectly happy to pretend that Paxton Ray didn’t exist, but he no longer has that option.
Nate Colton: People always told me that if I can’t say something nice, I shouldn’t say anything. And believe me, I got nothing nice to say to you.
Paxton Ray: I see. So ya were one a’those Rhinestones I keep hearin’ ‘bout. Sorry ‘bout that. Or maybe it’s somethin’ else.
He walks a couple of steps towards Colton. The Evansville native doesn’t back away, no matter how badly he wants to leave.
Paxton Ray: I saw ya help the Blueberry when he was gettin’ attacked by the love dorks. And now ya fightin’ ‘em with Youngblood. And ya have all sorts’a things t’say ‘bout me, when I didn’t do anythin’ to ya. So I guess ya just like pokin’ your nose in other people’s business.
Nate Colton: You crippled a man, Paxton. You could have killed him. That makes it my business. I grew up in wrestling, and there’s too many people I care about to let that happen to anyone. Jon Rhine had earned my family’s respect, and mine…so yeah, it hurts like hell to see what you did to him. But it could have been anyone, and you’d still be the worst kind of bastard.
Paxton Ray: Can’t say nothin’ ‘bout that. I’m definitely a type’a bastard. There’s a lot of us out here, even the good guys ya try to fight for.
Paxton walks over to his truck, lets down the tailgate and sits down on it.
Paxton Ray: I respect the way ya feel ‘bout family. I know how important it is to ya. Which is prob’ly another reason you’re givin’ me the ice right now. After all, I saw who’s in the Belmont with me.
The sneer that forms on Nathan’s face, along with the way his fists clench, let us know that he knows exactly who Paxton is talking about.
Nate Colton: You better pick your next words real careful, buddy.
Instead, Paxton picks his hands…up. He holds them in front of him.
Paxton Ray: Overprotective brothers are th’ worst. Don’t worry, I ain’t gonna do anythin’ to your sister. I like bigger targets.
Paxton now scoots off the tailgate and stands up.
Paxton Ray: I do think it’s prob’ly for th’ best if we keep mindin’ each other’s business, though. I’m sure ya had some reason t’be out here and I have to get changed for my match soon. And unlike ya, I ain’t tryin’ to show hog to the whole world.
It’s been half a year now, but any mention of that particular Jabber incident still gets a flush of embarrassment.
Nate Colton: How many times I gotta tell people, my brother stole–never mind. I’ve had enough of you anyway.
He walks away from Paxton, but from an odd angle. It’s not the direction he was originally walking, but it does allow Colton to keep an eye on the Lafayette Bruiser as he goes.
Also, wrestling being wrestling, Nate does his best to get the last word in.
Nate Colton: You’re right about one thing, though. You won’t do anything to Jenny at the Belmont…but not for the reason you think.
Paxton watches Nate walk away, nodding, then takes off his shirt before noticing the camera is still there.
Paxton Ray: Ain’t ya got somewhere t’be?
The cameraman presumably agrees, because we cut.
Backstage at ReVival 19, two men stalk the hall, one of them walking a little gingerly after competing earlier in the night. These two are none other than Eddie Cross and his manager Dave Gibson. Eddie is sporting his yellow gaming shades and jacket again and as they walk up and sit down at a table, Eddie pulls out his gaming laptop and flips open the screen. Normally Dave might chastise him, but after the contest earlier, he deserves a little downtime.
Rounding the corner, still sporting his singlet and carrying a book in his hand is one of Eddie’s opponents from the previous match, Mike McGee. He sees Eddie and Dave and makes a beeline for them.
Mike McGee: Just who I was hoping to see after that little skirmish we all had earlier.
Eddie looks at Dave and then back to Mike.
Eddie Cross: What do you want? I’m trying to re-center after the match. I don’t have time for your HR nonsense.
Mike pulls the book up. It has a picture of Mike McGee on the cover and is titled “7 Effective Ways to Succeed for The Young Mind”
Mike McGee: I’ve been doing some digging and noticed you don’t have a professional resume, no LinkedIn, no degree, and suffice to say no Full-time workplace experience to speak of… or part time for that matter. I thought I would extend an olive branch and offer these words of wisdom that I have written to guide the young and unemployable towards success.
As he holds out the book, Dave looks dumbstruck at the audacity of Mike McGee.
Dave Gibson: Mike, you ain’t a strong learner are you?
Mike McGee: Quite the contrary I will have you know that I…
Dave Gibson: It was a rhetorical question, dipshit.
Gibson snatches the book out of his hands and walks over to a trash can. He picks the plastic can up and makes a show of throwing the book in the garbage. Mike stands mouth agape holding his hand over his heart like someone has just stabbed him and his life is flowing out. Finally, he gathers himself and harrumphs a response.
Mike McGee: Well, you’ll never own a cherry red Kia Sorento with that attitude, buster.
Dave Gibson steps forward and goes nose to nose with Mike. Eddie stands up behind his mentor and picks up his laptop. Dave stares through Mike’s eyes and into his nervous system. He speaks with an icy rasp.
Dave Gibson: Beat your feet, son.
Mike slowly backs up and, eyes darting back and forth as Eddie steps next to Dave, turns to walk away briskly.
Eddie Cross: Hey Mike?!
Mike turns around to see what Eddie wants.
Mike McGee: Yeah E…
The laptop drills Mike McGee over the head with a satisfying sound of the monitor cracking and keys fly all over the place on the ground. Mike crumples in a professional heap and Eddie kneels next to him skittering a couple broken pieces of the laptop and keys across the floor.
Eddie Cross: See Mike, I hear everyone asking who I am. I hear everyone calling me a rookie. Saying I don’t belong. Thinking I am some sort of joke because of my Father.
Mike groans on the ground and Eddie looks down on him with malice.
Eddie Cross: That’s just fine with me. Because they will never see me coming.
Dave taps his protege on the shoulder and nods down the hall as Eddie stands up and they walk down the hall.
PAXTON RAY VS. JACOB MEPHISTO
“Fistfight” by The Ballroom Thieves kicks in as Paxton Ray walks out under the PRIMEView.
Richard Parker: They are really letting Paxton have it.
Nick Stuart: Well he deserves it.
He sneers at the fans on each side as they lob insults and boos at him. Paxton snarls defiantly and slowly raises his hand into the air.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring, weighing in at 245 pounds…he is THEEEE BAAYOOOUUUU
Howard looks down at his card in hand and shakes his head. Finishing the introduction in a normal, much less enthusiastic voice.
Vince Howard: Butcher… Paxton Ray.
Nick Stuart: That’s disgusting.
Richard Parker: Listen, I have some pretty liberal views on what’s okay in a wrestling ring, but Paxton? Disgusting.
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
Paxton slowly walks towards the ring, looking around as the crowd in the MGM continues to rain hate down upon him. He steps up to the apron and steps through the ring ropes, then leans back against them and closes his eyes as the crowd continues to serenade him.
Nick Stuart: This crowd has not stopped letting Paxton know how they feel this entire entrance.
Vince Howard: Now coming to the ring is his opponent, hailing from Nazareth, Pennsylvania…standing six-foot five and weighing in at two hundred and sixty-five pounds…he is JAAAAACOOOOOOOB MEEEEPHIIIIIIIISTOOOOOOOOOOO!
The towering Mephisto steps out from Argyle Position and stands menacingly at the top of the ramp. The fans give Mephisto a different mixed reaction as he strides confidently to the ring.
Richard Parker: I hope he eats him.
Nick Stuart: What?
Richard Parker: Well you know… Mephisto… the whole biting thing…
Nick Stuart: I’m still not supporting cannibalism on television.
Richard Parker: Don’t worry, I will!
Parker’s headset can be heard shuffling and a loud shout ‘EAT HIM MEPHISTO!’ you can imagine Nick Stuart shaking his head back and forth.
Nick Stuart: I apologize for my broadcast partner. You can imagine Lindsay Troy booked this match with a purpose though. Mephisto, even with losing the Intense title match in his last appearance, has been much more formidable recently.
Mephisto saunters confidently to the ring and slithers into the squared circle. He does a quick lap around, and snarls at Timo. Bolamba ignores him and checks over both competitors for weapons.
Nick Stuart: I wouldn’t want to be in Timo Bolamba’s shoes this evening.
Richard Parker: Why not? You could let Mephisto kill Paxton Ray. Sounds like good shoes to me.
Nick Stuart: I’m glad you could add your words of wisdom.
Paxton comes to the center of the ring, and Mephisto meets him there. They stand eye to eye, nose to nose, with Paxton only slightly standing over him. Mephisto tauntingly bites at Paxton, and Paxton fires off a right hand.
Nick Stuart: Here we go! Two of the largest men in PRIME going toe to toe.
Mephisto stumbles backwards from the right hand and Paxton tries to throw a second right but Mephisto blocks and unloads with one of his own that sends Paxton reeling backwards. Mephisto loads up a second right hand and fires it off, connecting as Ray continues backwards towards the ropes. Paxton gets to the ropes but Mephisto is all over him with right hands. Paxton covers up in a boxing style shell, and Mephisto goes to the body with his punches smashing Paxton in the midsection. After a few seconds of punishment Timo finally steps in to break it up.
Richard Parker: I love it Timo! Give him those extra seconds!
Nick Stuart: I don’t think that’s what Timo was doing Richard.
Paxton tries to reset and come off the ropes but Mephisto steps around and under Timo, taking Paxton to the corner by cutting off his escape route. Mephisto drives a knee into Paxton’s midsection, then another, then another.
Richard Parker: He’s relentless Nick!
Nick Stuart: Mephisto sure is starting this one off furiously.
Mephisto backs up and comes sprinting in with a huge lariat in the corner, slumping Paxton into a seated position on the middle turnbuckle. Mephisto steps back and comes in with a rising knee, but Paxton manages to get out of the way. Paxton wheels around and throws a right hand, connecting with the now cornered Mephisto. A second right hand from Paxton Ray follows.
Nick Stuart: Ray with the reversal, and some big right hands.
Paxton backs up to the far corner and comes sprinting in with a huge splash to Mephisto. It’s Mephisto’s turn to slump to the middle turnbuckle as Paxton backs away again. This time Paxton runs in and delivers a big boot to the seated Mephisto. His head snaps back as the boot connects, smashing off of the turnbuckle.
Richard Parker: COME ON MEPHISTO!
Paxton smirks as the boos start to come in from the crowd. He grabs Mephisto by the head and presses his neck against the rope as Timo begins a count.
Paxton lets go, breaking the choke and smirking at Bolamba with his hands raised. Timo begins a lecture but The Lafayette Bruiser goes right back in, choking Mephisto again.
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray challenging the official here.
Richard Parker: C’mon Timo, get him off of him.
Timo quickly goes right back to the count.
Paxton is staring right into Timo’s face as he counts.
Richard Parker: God I hate him.
Just as Timo is about to raise his hand for a five, Paxton lets go and Mephisto slumps down to his knees. Bolamba goes in with a much more pointed lecture but Paxton shrugs him off, bringing Mephisto to his feet. He whips Mephisto across the ring into the far corner and lines Mephisto up again. Ray sprints across the corner looking for a big boot but Mephisto ducks under the maneuver letting Paxton hang himself up on the ropes.
Nick Stuart: Mephisto getting out of the way from Ray, and Mephisto looks to take back control.
Richard Parker: GET HIM!
Mephisto is quickly back to his feet as Ray pulls his leg down from the top turnbuckle. Mephsito drives his shoulder into The Bayou Butcher’s midsection, doubling him over. Mephisto grabs Ray by the head and throws him onto the canvas in the middle of the ring. Jacob marches to the center of the ring and pulls Paxton to his feet, he whips Paxton into the ropes, Paxton comes back and Mephisto tries for a big boot but Ray ducks under. Mephisto turns on a dime and follows Paxton into the ropes. Just as Paxton hits the ropes Mephisto connects with a huge clothesline spilling both competitors to the outside.
Nick Stuart: And we’re on the outside now!
Richard Parker: Just think what Mephisto can do out here!
Mephisto is the first to his feet and drags Ray up with him.
Mephisto launches Ray into the barricade, sending it shaking backwards as the fans in the front rows scramble away.
Mephisto approaches as a fan showers Paxton with popcorn, Mephisto unloads with a knee to the midsection, then smashes Paxton’s face off of the barricade.
Jacob grabs Ray and whips him across the outside, sending him hard into the apron. Paxton arches his back in pain.
Mephisto grabs Paxton by the back of the head and slams his face off the apron, once, then twice.
Richard Parker: SMASH HIM!
Mephisto holds onto Paxton and pulls him off the apron, in one fluid motion he turns and launches him headfirst into the steel steps.
Mephisto smirks, standing over Paxton, who is now kneeling with his face on the steel stairs.
Jacob grabs Paxton by the back of the head and slams it off of the steel steps.
Paxton slides down the steps to the floor.
Mephisto rolls into the ring to break the count, and then immediately rolls right back out. Timo yells at Mephisto who shrugs, waiving him off and marches over to Paxton. He grabs The Bayou Butcher by the head.
Nick Stuart: Mephisto breaking Timo’s count here, and he’s going right back towards Paxton. I think Mephisto wants to keep this one on the outside.
He leans down, smiling from ear to ear. He says something to Paxton.
Then he bites him on the forehead.
Richard Parker: YES! YES! YES!
Paxton kicks his legs and shoves at Mephisto, finally getting Mephisto off of him.
Nick Stuart: It looks like Paxton is busted open here!
Richard Parker: MEPHISTO IS TRYING TO EAT HIM! HE SMELLS BLOOD! HE’S LIKE A SHARK!
Mephisto goes to come back in on Paxton, who thumbs Mephisto in the eye. Jacob stumbles backwards as Paxton gets to his feet, feeling his head and looking at the blood on his hands.
Paxton starts screaming at Mephisto and starts throwing right hands, one, then two, then the third. They just keep coming.
Paxton grabs Mephisto by the hair and slams him headfirst into the steps. He slams Mephisto the first time, Mephisto tries to block the second.
Richard Parker: STOP HIM!
But Paxton kicks Mephisto in the knee and slams his head off of the steps again. This time Mephisto slumps.
This time Paxton rolls into the ring to break up the count, but is right back outside of the ring. Timo throws his hands into the air as he marches towards the rope shouting at The Bayou Butcher.
Paxton pulls Mephisto to his feet, and sends him flying.
Richard Parker: This isn’t good.
Mephisto crashes into the ring post, shoulder first. Paxton walks up the steps, and steps over Jacob who is leaning against the ring post and the stairs.
Paxton starts throwing kicks, and stomps Mephisto’s arm and shoulder in between the stairs and the ring post.
Nick Stuart: This is absolutely brutal.
Richard Parker: He’st trying to break his arm! GET SECURITY! PEOPLE WITH BATONS! ENEMIGOS! THE GUYS IN MASKS FROM HIGH OCTANE! ANYONE!
Paxton grabs Mephisto’s arm, holding it up, and drops off the stairs, slamming his elbow into the steel steps.
Paxton rapidly begins throwing forearms and shots to the pinned right arm of Mephisto. Over and over.
Paxton, satisfied with the damage done, rolls into the ring. Mephisto grimaces and brings himself to his feet, right arm hanging limp at his side. He flexes his hand a few times, making sure he can feel it. Timo goes to the ropes to check on Mephisto who stomps away shouting at Timo. Jacob stomps his way up the steps and enters back into the ring. Mephisto is still trying to work out the kinks in his arm as Ray snarls.
Richard Parker: It’s broken isn’t it? He broke his arm.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think it’s broken Richard, Mephisto’s starting to move it fine.
Paxton, now with blood running down his face, comes in at Mephisto. Jacob manages to sidestep out of the way and delivers a shot with his left hand across the side of Paxton’s face. Mephisto fires off another left hand, and then a kick to Paxton’s midsection.
Richard Parker: THE ONE ARMED MAN!
Ray is shocked as Mephisto continues to lay into him with left hands and kicks. Ray covers his stomach, and Mephisto moves his kicks to Paxton’s legs. Mephisto grabs Paxton’s head with his left arm and slams him to the mat with a DDT!
Nick Stuart: That might be the first actual wrestling move in this match.
Richard Parker: And it’s from Mephisto!
Mephisto is back to his feet and pulls Paxton up slowly by his hair, using only his left arm. He tries to simply lift Paxton up onto his shoulder, but stumbles forward grabbing his arm, and dropping Paxton back down to the mat.
Richard Parker: CMON! YOU GOT THIS MEPHISTO!
Nick Stuart: The damage Paxton Ray did to that right arm is really paying off for him right now.
Mephisto squats down lower and tries to bring Paxton up again. But this time Paxton unloads with a double ax handle to the back of Mephisto’s skull. Mephisto drops to a knee, he tries to explode up again, but Paxton sends another double ax handle, this time targeting the shoulder and base of the neck of Mephisto. Mephisto drops down again and lets go of Paxton, Paxton steps back and smashes the kneeling Mephisto with a spinning discus elbow.
Richard Parker: Shit.
Nick Stuart: Huge elbow from Paxton!
Paxton gets to his feet slowly, he looks down at Mephisto and yanks him to his feet by his right arm. He whips Mephisto into the ropes, and as Mephisto comes back he lifts Mephisto into the air, dropping him, and smashing him with an uppercut.
Richard Parker: SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!
Nick Stuart: Pardon my partner, but Paxton Ray with a Lafayette Lullaby to Jacob Mephisto.
Paxton drops down on top of Mephisto, hooking both legs as Timo slides in with the count.
Richard Parker: CMON!
Richard Parker: Dammit.
DING DING DING
Paxton leers over Mephisto, who shoves Ray away from him and rolls to the outside.
Nick Stuart: What a fight Mephisto gave Paxton Ray in there today.
Richard Parker: At least he bit him.
Vince Howard: Your winner by pinfall, Paxton Ray.
Our scene fades to commercial with Paxton Ray bloodied, arm raised, center of the ring, with some trash flying in.
COMMERCIAL: SHOOT PROJECT
WRONG PART OF TOWN
We’ve just witnessed Paxton Ray and Jacob Mephisto do everything in their power to rip one another apart. Unfortunately, the man whose head everyone wants to pop off (that’s Paxton Ray in case you were unclear) still has it attached by some stroke of luck.
Backstage though, Dusk stands outside the locker room door of someone who has a vested interest in Paxton Ray. A person that Dusk may have, once upon a time, smashed a chair into their skull.
Keep in mind, this was a very long time ago, and many many things have changed since then.
He looks at the door, which reads King Blueberry, and sighs.
Like, legit huge sigh.
Dusk: [mumbles] What am I doing here?
He then looks to his left and there is a large cart with something on it, though we are unable to see what that something is as there is a large black drape over it.
Dusk then looks back at the door, shrugs his shoulders, and knocks on the door.
The door to the locker room of King Blueberry (and presumably Justine Calvin). What purpose does he have to be knocking on their door, especially with a main event match coming soon against the Alabama Bruiser himself?
That’s a great question.
Before we can answer that question though, the door opens and there stands a mildly irritated woman with her back to the scene, completely unaware of what’s going on in the hallway.
Justine Calvin: We can have that conversation later, Jared, but right now I have a match in a few minutes, and I’d like to spend those trying to focus.
She turns, and almost plows into the Lost Soul.
Justine Calvin: Oh. Hi, Craig.
Dusk: Oh, um, hi Justine.
King Blueberry: (from off-camera) Look, I’m not trying to complicate things here, or…
When King Blueberry steps into view behind her, his mask is askew, not fully covering his face. He pulls it down into place as soon as he realizes they have company, quickly ducking back into the room to make sure that he’s well and truly hidden. The ruse has been obvious for some time, and the use of his real name is commonplace in PRIME, but if you were to ask Jared Sykes whether he’s ready to take that stupid costume off the answer would still be no.
Justine glances back over her shoulder, and then turns to Dusk.
Justine Calvin: Good luck.
She taps him on the shoulder before starting off down the hall. After a few feet she turns, now walking backwards towards her destination.
Justine Calvin: You’re gonna need it.
Dusk: Yeah, I usually do. Good luck on your match.
And then she’s gone, leaving a very confused blueberry behind in the locker room. Now fully hidden, he pokes his face out into the hallway taking in the surroundings.
King Blueberry: This is about the smoke machines, isn’t it? Or maybe the memes? Look, if I’d known that “Dusk superkicks the World Trade Center” was going to blow up that big on Reddit… Well… I probably still would have Photoshopped it, but still.
Dusk looks over at Sykes and shakes his head.
Dusk: I don’t know what Reddit is. My daughter just had to explain to me what Jabber is. Are you on that thing? [beat] What am I saying? Of course you’re on that thing. Anyways, Jared. Long time no talk. I think last time we really saw each other, you know, had a conversation, I don’t think it went that well. Not here to do that again.
The Blueberry rubs at a spot on his forehead. If he weren’t wearing a mask, the camera would be able to see a scar that runs not far beneath his hairline. It’s one of a small collection, but this one in particular came at the hands of the man across from him on a day when Dusk wielded a chair and Jared decided that he would take a bullet for Alexandra Pierce, shoving her out of the way and eating the full brunt of the impact.
It, like the scar that serves a souvenir, is one of many decisions he’d no doubt like to take back.
King Blueberry: Cool. Well, then I guess I can cross you off the list of people who I figured want to beat my ass. In fairness it’s not the best list to be on if you’re looking for exclusivity. Lotta names on that list.
He sighs as he offers a glance down the corridor in the direction his partner disappeared.
King Blueberry: Lotta names. So then to what do I owe the pleasure?
Dusk clears his throat, his mind having traveled to place that he hadn’t gone to in a while (read: Alexandra Pierce). He then looks over to his left.
Dusk: I brought you something.
He then looks back over at Jared.
Dusk: So, I’m retiring. Started to take a look at the random stuff I’ve accumulated and somehow I’ve accumulated quite a bit of these and I noticed your… affinity… for them so I thought I would bequeath them to you. Seeing as how you probably need something positive in your life considering all of… that.
The that he is referring to of course being what happened to Rhine, his current blood feud with Paxton Ray.
Dusk: Who knows. Maybe you can use these against a certain somebody.
King Blueberry: Okay, I’ll admit you’ve got me curious. But if whatever’s under that cover over there turns out to be Jimmy Bonafide’s old gun collection…
He sucks in a breath through his teeth.
King Blueberry: Well, I know wrestling law is pretty lax, but I think I’d still go to jail for that.
Dusk: Two things. One, my employment contract specifically prohibits me from having anything to do with guns on the property. Something something 2007. We’re not going to talk about it. Second, not going to say I don’t blame you. But, no, not guns. Something that could serve a dual function.
Dusk then looks over to his left, grabs the curtain, and yanks it off the cart. To reveal…
The masked man steps out into the hall and paces a slow circle around the cart, taking it all in. A thousand ideas dance through his brain, some of which aren’t suitable for broadcast no matter what rating PRIME operates under.
King Blueberry: My electric bill is about to be so high.
A grin creeps across his lips.
King Blueberry: I’ve definitely got some ideas for these. Might need to clear space where I store all the office chairs.
Don’t ask. The less said about that collection, the better.
He picks up one of the smoke machines and tests its weight.
King Blueberry: You think one of these would survive impact? Like, hypothetically let’s say I was going to try to hit a man with it. You think it would hold up, or are we looking at a one-shot situation? You know, scientifically speaking, of course.
Dusk: Scientifically speaking, I think you could use one and bludgeon an asshole from Louisiana multiple times. Per each smoke machine. Scientifically speaking. Hypothetically.
Dusk then winks. Very obviously. As if he’s never had to wink before in his life. He then grabs the cart and wheels it into Jared’s locker room.
Dusk: Want to talk about Paxton? And everything? I have a fair bit of experience fighting asshats. Though, I guess with the group we’ve run with in the past, you would have some of the same experience as I do.
He then finds a chair and sits down in it.
King Blueberry: That’s a loaded question. I’m… I dunno. Still trying to figure all this out. I was one of the loudest voices in picking that fight, and in getting him back here to have it. Now he’s here, and if I’m being honest…
King Blueberry: I don’t know how to reconcile it. What happens if he and I cross paths tonight? What happens if someone else I know gets there first? And the worst one, what happens if something happens because of it? I forgot what this feels like, and am suddenly reminded that it sucks.
Dusk nods his head.
Dusk: I’ve been there. Not there. Normally the guys I’ve fought haven’t paralyzed someone just because they could. But, I’ve definitely ran into that spot where the animosity against someone is so strong that the mere sight of them unleashes unholy war. My piece of advice? Holding in your feelings isn’t the way. You’re fortunate that you have someone like Justine in your corner. Because she could help you process your feelings if you let her in.
Dusk: You want to do right by Jon and that is commendable and honestly, expected. Just realize you get truly one shot at Paxton. Don’t waste it. Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment. Bring a smoke machine to the fight. And don’t stop until you have nothing left in your bones. Make your one shot count and you won’t have these ‘what-ifs’ floating in your mind. Now– what the fuck?
The fuck of Dusk’s comment reveals itself to be one-half of Winds of Change, Sid Phillips, randomly looking through Jared Sykes gym bag. It doesn’t take long for him to be joined by Joe Fontaine and Coral Avalon.
Sid Phillips: Wow, that’s a lot of stuff. I mean. None of it’s good for powerbombs, but…
Coral Avalon: Knock that off, Sid.
Coral shakes his head and looks over at Dusk and Jared.
Coral Avalon: Sorry about this. One thing led to another, and… well. Here we are.
Sid Phillips: Curse the blood of bears, for they have no soul to be cursed in its place!
Coral Avalon: …Yes. Of course.
By the way, Joe Fontaine found the popcorn. Applause!
Joe Fontaine: Well, I didn’t think we’d wind up here of all places. We interrupting something? Oh, it’s a bunch of smoke machines!
Joe goes over to the cart of smoke machines. He doesn’t touch them with his greasy popcorn hands, but he’s definitely in awe of them.
Joe Fontaine: Ooh. Vintage. They’re not like all of those company-mandated smoke machines we all got a few months ago. Hey, Sid, Avy, you gotta check these out.
Coral Avalon: No.
Dusk stands up and walks over to Joe.
Dusk: Those are the real deal. Circa 1940, because you know, I’m old.
He then looks at the popcorn.
Dusk: What do you need popcorn for?
Joe Fontaine: Eating.
He pauses, and holds out the bucket.
Joe Fontaine: Want some for the road before you go fight a very big and very mean head of security who I think might have killed at least two guys? Maybe three?
Dusk looks at the bucket of popcorn and then at Joe.
Dusk: Nah, I’m good. [beat] And I’ve heard it’s four. But, that assumes I haven’t killed a few guys in my lifetime.
He then looks over at Sid.
Dusk: Learn any new moves yet? Or are we still on the powerbomb-and-elbow combination?
Sid Phillips: What’s an elbow?
Coral looks like he’s in pain, or maybe about to cry a little.
Coral Avalon: Sid, we talked about this.
Sid Phillips: We did?
Coral Avalon: It’s that thing you do with your arm when you’re not powerbombing someone.
Sid Phillips: Oh. Right. That’s an elbow. I forgot.
Dusk smiles and looks over at Jared.
Dusk: These are your people. And I have no doubt they’re not here for me, but for you. Plus, you heard Joe. I’ve got to fight a very big and very mean head of security. That’s taking up much of my mental capacity.
He then walks over to Jared, placing his hand on Jared’s shoulder.
Dusk: You’re going to do the right thing when you come face-to-face with Paxton. I know it. Because you were always the best of us. Also, the weirdest, but definitely the best of us.
He then looks back at Coral and the Winds of Change.
Dusk: Not sure if that is really saying much though.
Coral Avalon: I only play a berry on YouTube, I’ll have you know.
Dusk: I find that hard to believe.
King Blueberry: Well then. Here’s hoping I don’t let anybody down. Gentlemen, it’s been… a lot.
He steps away from his perch and begins the trek down the hall. His partner’s got a few minute head-start, and though she may not be keen on his presence for her first singles match in PRIME there’s nowhere else that he’d rather be.
Dusk follows behind him, though going in a different direction.
Thus, leaving Coral Avalon and the Winds of Change all alone in the locker room of Jared Sykes. Obviously, that’s a well thought out idea.
Coral Avalon: Okay, seriously. How did following you bring us here of all places?
Joe Fontaine: Secret Enemigo tunnels.
Coral Avalon: …I’m sorry I asked.
And with that can of worms randomly opened, NEVER to be closed again, we cut to Anna Daniels, punting random people in the head because that’s what she does.
THE (MULTIDIMENSIONAL) COST OF STICKY FINGERS
A night that didn’t go his way. That was a theme of late, but Larry Tact refused to allow his head to be hanging as he gathered his things and exited the locker room. If anything, he was fuming at the fact there was always one critical misstep that spelled his fate in most of his matches. He had gotten close… so tantalizingly close… in several contests, yet somehow found defeat. It had been cultivated into a bad habit, and Larry needed to search his mind for whatever was blinding him to the cause, and scrub it off.
As he was in thought, he didn’t realize where he was going, and found himself standing across from Lindsay Troy’s office. Larry could feel the weight of his suitcase, the lost sleep from a hotel bed, and the thought of where this odyssey had led him. After the UltraViolence match with Dusk, Larry wasn’t sure where he was going next. That was supposed to be a statement for Larry, regardless of the ultimate outcome. He had literally poured his blood into it, and it felt as if he was now unable to capitalize. There was still a piece that came and went, and for once Larry wasn’t entirely confident he could pin it.
Growling, he turns away. No, he wouldn’t allow the doubters to get in his ear with their drivel. He was going to show them all how harsh the backlash would be.
Somehow, Larry’s exit from the arena had began taking him through the irredeemable PRIMEporium merchandise area. Most recently, that had led to a particularly bizarre scene unfolding – in his mind – thanks to something around Anna Daniels’ region. It had been an unnerving experience, and Larry revolts at feeling such… vulnerability. It was then he decided to make his way back to Anna Daniels’ merchandising area. He rolled his suitcase along with enthusiasm to get to the bottom of why this incident even occurred.
Still, Larry made a cautious approach upon reaching their table. After seeing some possible, alternate universe to this one, with his own child being transformed? It was enough for pause, and even gave his skin a bit of a sheen. Looking at the t-shirts on display, he can’t help himself, deciding that the “NEW NEW ERA” t-shirt is just as bad an idea as its predecessor. Come to think of it, Larry envisioned an ‘improved upon’ design, which he could then return on display here.
The last time he removed a t-shirt, of course, he had been transported. He was determined to reverse some mistakes around here, and Anna was inadvertently going to help him with a t-shirt donation towards the cause….
… Or would they?
He reached toward the stack of shirts that just so happened to be left there unsupervised. His fingertips touched the fabric and just for a moment, he began to feel like something had…shifted? Tact shook his head violently, trying to get the feeling out of his head as he goes to grab the merch.
Only to be met with an intense pain.
Larry Tact screamed in agony as his eyes were momentary blinded by the moment that overtook him. He took a few deep breaths to stabilize himself as his vision faded back in. Pain was replaced with horror as he looked at his hand, comically smashed with what felt like a giant mallet. Bones were clearly broken. It ached again viciously and he grit his teeth in a hope to not give another howl of suffering. He was so focused on that, he failed to notice what just glitched back in.
“Can. We. Help. You. Sir?”
The vessel of Anna Daniels sat behind the table, feet propped up. She gave the aura of being casual. Relaxed. Calm. However, the look on her face showed anything but. A slight malicious smirk and a wildness in the pupils. Larry looked at his hand again.
His hand was fine.
At once terrifying and remarkable, it dawns on Larry that he’s in the midst of a powerful force. That would always grab his attention, especially if he could find a way of harnessing it.
Slowly, Larry looks up at Anna and, perhaps surprisingly, a small smirk creeps onto his face.
“You are no mere wrestler, are you?” he tentatively comments while raising his pseudo-smashed hand. “A couple of weeks ago, I felt how easily it cut to my core, my very recollections thrown into question. That was merely a defense mechanism of yours, wasn’t it. Just now, this searing, smashing force… you’re clearly not here to merely hock merchandise, are you? What is it you’ve appeared in PRIME for?” Larry points a finger to directly address the Multitudes. “Where do you get this power from?”
“Different questions with separate answers.” The Muse ironically mused. The smirk never left through Larry’s rambling. “No, sir. We are not a mere wrestler, much as we would’ve liked to have been once upon a time. We’re so much more than that. And, no. We did not come here to simply sell our wares although it doesn’t hurt matters any.” A subconscious rub of the wedding band. “As for why we’ve come to the PRIMEverse…”
There was a pause as they took the time to sip from a tea cup. A tea cup that wasn’t there before either.
“We would imagine for similar reasons to you, Larry Tact.” There was a note, however subtle to those words. As Larry cocked an eyebrow at the remark, the Multitudes knew that he wasn’t from here either. “We were bored. The other ‘verses we’ve either dominated already or are on our way of doing so. We needed a fresh challenge and a whole new world to leave our imprint on. A clean state to paint a masterpiece on. A place to alter, actively or otherwise. What better place than a resurrected corpse of a promotion hungering for something to hold on to when the dust settles?” The vessel pointed to the logo on the shirt. The now glitched and altered NEW ERA. “And our power…our wondrous power…”
It is here that her eyes turned into something else. Not eyes at all, but swirling dueling portals of red and blue. Past and future. Madness and genius. “Anna, as many call her, was born empty and clueless amongst duo suns. She stared at the orange night sky and craved to become one with it. Once she stared into the Schism, the Schism stared back and we planted our seed in her brains. Some of this is because of her, some because of us. Some is due to what society made us and the better parts are what we make of ourself. That is how a full person is made. Sugar-spice-everythingnice-snips-snails-puppydogtails.” The smirk was replaced by a grin, almost mocking the whole proceedings. “And chemical X, of course. That’s how an individual is formed.”
As he listened, Larry lowered his hand and made an effort to keep his mouth from falling agape. He worked to maintain a static countenance, not wanting to betray the impact they were having on him. In reality, what he was hearing was beyond his full comprehension. Conveniently, it was also tailor-made for an intriguing rationale.
“I have to admit… that’s a lot to take in,” Larry confided, crossing his arms and taking a half step backwards. “There’s so much more I could ask. However, sometimes it’s best to leave things to be revealed at the tactful moment. From what you’re telling me, it sounds like you’re operating sol– uh, well, without anyone else here in PRIME. I can relate, somewhat. Despite the setbacks I’ve had here, I would still rather unlock the answers myself, rather than with one of the scum-sucking, under the bridge dwelling ingrates who happen to have a physical talent for in-ring competition,” Larry growls, feeling the weight of his recent troubles stoking the fire within. Another glance at his hand, then back to Anna keeps Larry’s tone diplomatic. “But you? There’s a much different aura about you. There isn’t desperation, or even disgust, nor many other common emotions. You’re quite atypical. Regardless of what may be happening under the skin, there’s… something… more worldly about your approach. Perhaps that would allow us some common ground to operate on, and help each other out in these rough waters.”
“Uh huh.” The snark of Firebug started to seep through as the vessel leaned forward. He wasn’t wrong. They were also seekers of answers, seekers of truth no matter how much failure would take. But this offer was suspicious. The taint of him emerged from his pores. “There’s no point in us being desperate. Everything comes our way soon enough. But what is in this for you?”
It isn’t exactly the response Larry was looking for, and not entirely surprising. This Anna has been going at it alone, and like Larry, is likely wise to machinations and betrayal. He measures how far he wants to go in his response before spreading his arms open. “For me? I’ll be honest. I saw something the last time I took one of your t-shirts, and yes, I did. It’s possible I felt a bit of your true power transfer over. I want to embrace that force, and I won’t let it nor its possessor drive me away from it. Typically, I haven’t received premium treatment from the universe, much less the idiot PRIMEates or anyone in the locker room. With you, I see a different path. So what’s in this partnership for me? Possibilities. A different approach. A whole different world of possibilities.”
“And there is a price that must be paid for those possibilities. Nothing worth having is possible without it.” He knew that. Would have to know that in order to attempt that slight slice of woe-is-me reasoning. “You have seen one instance and in your power lusting self, in your angst in not wanting to be a failure to your child or yourself, you make this proclamation to us…even though you were planning to what? Steal another one of our shirts? Make more mockery of us in your mind? Deface it just like you did this?”
Unfurled instantly before Tact was another shirt. One he knew quite well. An old white NEW ERA shirt, used by him as a rag to wipe off Dusk’s blood from his hands. The hand that was struck began to throb again. He had to look away from it and the vessel lest the look the Multitudes gave him forced his blood to run cold. With a shake of his head, he feels perspiration breaking out onto his skin’s surface. He tries to push past it, “I was… nngh… acting out of frustration. There’s another way for us, this… *huff* can’t be happening. It’s a ruse… grk…” Larry grits his teeth and struggles to cope with the pain pulsing mass that is his extremity. When he finds he cannot move his fingers, a pang of panic hits. “You’re crushing…”
“You got a glimpse into what lies beyond and instead of being the smart man you assume yourself to be, you stumble back into our domain to be an absolute prick!” The words crashed about him, sending a blow to his ego. They weren’t done. Not even close. “Then we catch you in the act and you try to pull the whole team up schtick. As if we don’t already know you’re a deceitful little shit who would stab us in the back the moment you get your way. We’ve seen it more times than we care to count!” Cornered, Larry couldn’t help but get the feeling that he was a rat caught in a trap.
As a matter of fact, he was.
The pain that came across his back was very much like the metal snap of the mouse trap. Another howl in pain as his knees gave in. The PRIMEporium was now a void, a beginning and an end. Larry’s mind was spiralling. His vision was blurring, and he no longer had his bearings about him. He was swimming in pain and confusion, all the while watching the Multitudes at work, helpless.
The voice was overhead. Larry craned his head to see. Logan? Morgan? It was unclear. His brain was on fire again as a finger placed itself atop his head. The simple touch was like a knife through his skull, creating a burst of light in his mind that nearly caused him to pass out. His eyes began rolling back into his head as Logan/Morgan stepped aside for another figure to pass by, running towards him. At that moment, Larry couldn’t focus on the lean man barreling down the not-hall. He can only focus on his son.
If he couldn’t remember his family, whichever version of it, he’d be entirely consumed by the chasm of chaos he was presently swirling around in. “Logan… Morgan…”
And yes, Lindz. Tact did get punted in the head.
Barely able to stand, aching, and split open. This time, his fresh blood was the donation dripping on an already tainted t-shirt. The Multitudes shifted. The voice that comes out of the vessel is emotionless. “If we were you, we would give an honest think about yourself. About…things. We think you need it, Lawrence. When you’re done with that, come and see us again.”
Even if he could see clearly, Larry would have found his assailant too elusive to catch up with. Instead, he laid on the ground of the PRIMEporium, a victim of the very force he sought to wrangle. He watched as an official spotted him and ran over, shaking Larry’s prone form and calling for assistance on a com unit. His protests were a murmur, and garbled at best, as he continued to think on his family as he sought shelter from his mind, and the agony wracking his body.
Then, mercifully, he was out.
STATE OF CONFUSION… STATE OF CONFUSION
The scene cuts backstage to Angelica Brooks, PRIME interview extraordinaire. Looming next to her is wrestler, G.A.S. Member, and Library Card carrier, Mortimer Knightingale.
Angelica Brooks: Mortimer Knightingale—-
Mortimer Knightingale: Yeah, that’s me.
Angelica Brooks: You have been conspicuously missing from PRIME programming for four weeks. Where have you been?
Mortimer Knightingale: I was concussed. Concussed by a mad giant that threw me through a wall.
Angelica Brooks: You are, of course, referring to Ivan Stanislav….
Mortimer Knightingale: Ivan Stanislav? You know what he did? That prick threw me through a wall, concussin’ me. He’s lucky I don’t use his nutsack as a fuckin’ punchin’ bag!
Angelica Brooks: Right, have you been medically cleared to compete?
Mortimer Knightingale: What do you mean?
Angelica Brooks: You mentioned you were suffering from a concussion….
Mortimer Knightingale: Oh! So you know! You wanna know how that happened?
Angelica Brooks: Ivan Stanislav threw you into a wall.
Mortimer Knightingale: Ohhhh…if that prick were standin’ in front of me, I’d beat his ass and use his fuckin’ nutsack as a—-
Angelica Brooks: “Punching bag”?
Mortimer Knightingale: How’d you know I was gonna say that? You usin’ that clairvoyancy on me? Gettin’ in my head? Well, you ain’t gonna find nothin’ there, toots. I’m impotent to your telekinesiocity. Did he put you up to this?
Angelica Brooks: Who? Ivan Stanislav?
Mortimer Knightingale: Ivan Stanislav! That prick threw through a—-
Angelica Brooks: “Wall” which gave you a concussion. We’ve been through this.
Mortimer Knightingale: My grandmother taught me two things, never get married on a Friday and never trust a stragheria. You might think your slick tryin’ to psychically violate me. It’s almost like….
Angelica Brooks: What?
Mortimer Knightingale: …Ivan Stanislav put you to this, didn’t he?
Angelica Brooks: What?! I am a professional!
Mortimer Knightingale: Where’s the other guy?
Angelica Brooks: Who? Simon Tiller?
Mortimer Knightingale: Who the fuck is that? Mills! I want Matt Mills! Get that stunod over here! I’m done with you! And that filthy Russian slob!
Mortimer Knightingale walks off leaving Angelica Brooks in a state of confusion. After two seconds Mortimer walks back into frame and exits in the opposite direction as the scene comes to an end.
JUSTINE CALVIN VS. TRISTAN-CRISPIN GLADHAPPY
Nick Stuart: Up next, ladies and gentlemen, we have a match centered around one idea: payback.
Richard Parker: Well, maybe two ideas: don’t forget the rusty nail.
Cut to the ring, where Tristian-Crispin Gladhappy stands, smiling and seemingly attempting to nuzzle referee Elvis Nixon, who is having absolutely none of that.
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for ONE FALL and the Love Convoy is BANNED from ringside!
The crowd poops for that one. Gladhappy – not so much.
Vince Howard: Introducing first, from Sacramento, California and weighting in at two-hundred nineteen pounds… TRISTIAN-CRISPIN GLADHAPPY!
The crowd is less than enthusiastic for the Nuzzler extraordinaire.
Vince Howard: Gladhappy grinning like a fool… does he understand the mindsight his opponent is in tonight?
On cue, the arena falls into darkness, as white and purple spotlights swirl over the crowd. The opening riff to Motley Crue’s “Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid” hit the speakers.
Nick Stuart: We’re just seconds away from the arrival of Justine Calvin, Richard, and even though she’s on her own in this match I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that as of forty-eight hours ago she and her partner now hold the longest single Tag Team reign in the history of PRIME, beating out Crudely Civilized’s 138 days.
Do your thing, Vince Howard.
Vince Howard: Making her way to the ring… She hails from Boston, Massachusetts and weighs in tonight at one-hundred and twenty pounds…
Justine steps through the entryway and pauses for a moment at the top of the ramp to take it all in. She’s made this walk before, but until tonight she’s always brought a partner into battle with her. Tonight, for the first time in her professional career, she takes center stage in one of the biggest promotions in the storied history of wrestling.
Vince Howard: She is one-half of the PRIME World Tag-Team Champions…
Her title belt is strapped around her waist, and at Vince’s mention it of she taps the center buckle with a hand that looks to have a few extra layers of tape around it tonight. Trailing about twenty feet behind is her partner, making sure to keep a respectable distance. A casual observer might think that the presence of King Blueberry is to try and counteract any potential hostility from elements of the locker room that seem bent on their elimination, but the truth is that despite the issues that Sykes and Calvin have had as of late he wouldn’t miss her first singles match for the world.
Vince Howard: She is… “High Caliber”… JUSTIIIIIIINE CAL-VIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNnnnnnn!!!
She pulls herself up onto the ring apron and steps through the ropes. Where normally she’d take a moment to pose with her half of the Tag Team Championships, tonight there’s a more pressing mission, and it involves hitting Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy as hard as she can until he stops twitching.
It’s only after handing over her belt that she notices the presence of her partner, now lingering outside the ring. If this is a surprise to her she gives it little thought before squaring up ahead of the opening bell. Elvis Nixon moves in position, a quick nod to each wrestler, and then he signals for the bout to begin.
Nick Stuart: And Calvin wasting NO TIME! She charges across the ring with rage in her eyes!
Gladhappy can do little but shriek in terror and cover up with his arms before Justine begins to pepper his body with stiff kicks! The SMACK of flesh on flesh echoes through the arena as Justin is unrelenting in her focus to remove Tristin’s head from his body. The nuzzlemaster falls backwards into the corner, still trying to cover up. Justine gives him no quarter as she moves in to continue the onslaught. On the outside, King Blueberry encourages the slaughter as he cheers his bloodthirsty partner on.
Richard Parker: I understand looking for some payback, but if Justine isn’t careful here, she’s going to get herself disqualified.
Elvis Nixon moves in to tell her just that, but she pays him no mind as she changes tactics and starts with forearm strikes to the now seated Gladhappy. With no choice, Nixon begins a five count. On the outside, KB moves into position to try to alert his tag team partner to the count, waving his arms. He is able to break the spell, and Justine’s berserker fury momentarily halts and she takes a few steps back. Gladhappy is officially Gladloopy as he leans against the bottom turnbuckle, checking his nose for damage. Tristan looks up at the seething Justine… and shakes his head “no” before rolling under the bottom rope and out of the ring!
Nick Stuart: Gladhappy may be looking for a respite… but he’ll find no allies on the ringside floor, because there is NO Love Convey at ringside.
Richard Parker: No rusty nails, either.
Outside the ring, Gladhappy is hurting, but that doesn’t stop him from scanning the front row – likely looking for someone willing to nuzzle. He opens up his hands wide in an inviting gesture. He finds nobody willing to engage (in what quite a few fans are making rather… obscene gestures toward him), so he turns back toward the ring… and that’s when his head is SNAPPED back by an explosive shotgun dropkick! The crowd loves it as the back of his head hits the guardrail!
Richard Parker: Maybe he should focus less on the hugs and more on the grappling, eh?
Calvin rolls Gladhappy back into the ring where he stumbles to his feet and then collapses into the corner. He throws his hands up in a plea for mercy, but Gladhappy instead position in the opposite corner. Her eyes narrow as she charges out, building up a head of steam as she runs at her opponent… she leaps forward, looking to drive knee right into Crispin’s face…
Nick Stuart: NO! Gladhappy moves out of the way at the last second!
Richard Parker: Justine is able to stop herself before her knee hits the turnbuckle… but she turns into a thumb to the eye!
Elvis Nixon admonishes Gladhappy, who instead of acting ashamed appears to be going in for a hug with the referee. King Blueberry hops onto the apron to protest this display of cheating, and Elvis moves away from Crispin to tell him to get down. This backfires for poor KB, however, as this gives Gladhappy a chance to choke Calvin on the bottom rope!
Richard Parker: You’re not helping, ya dink!
Nick Stuart: …dink?
With the ref’s attention again focused on the match, Gladhappy picks up his lighter opponent for a brutal backbreaker! Calvin holds the small of her back in pain. She is brought to her feet… and dropped down with quick DDT! Gladhappy is sure glad and happy as he gleefully makes the cover.
Nick Stuart: One half of the tag champs powering out!
Richard Parker: I thought Blueberry was going to have a heart attack.
Still, Justine Calvin isn’t in the clear because Gladhappt is not letting up – he nuzzles his opponent… right into a chinlock. KB slaps the mat to rile up the fans who are soon clapping in unison, urging Justine to overcome her Love Convey adversary.
Nick Stuart: The people are solidly behind one half of the PRIME tag team champions!
Justine begins to feed off the people, pumping her arms and finding new energy. Gladhappy shakes his head “no” as he attempts to synch in the hold even tighter, but nothing can stop High Caliber once she’s in this gear. She gets up to her knees. Then a leg. Then a second leg. Just as it appears she is about to power out…
Nick Stuart: No! Crispin thinking quickly! He sweeps under Calvin, lifting her up into an electric chair position!
Nuzzle Master Flex lifts the tag champ high into the air, bracing himself to fall backwards to complete the move…
…but out of nowhere, Justine instead rolls FORWARD, catching him on the way down with a textbook sunset rollup!!
THREE – NO!
At the very last second, Gladhappy is able to power his way out of the pinning predicament. He scrambles to his feet, dusts himself off, breathes a sigh of relief that he was able to escape that one… and then turns directly into a kick to the face! A bead of spit shoots high into the air and Gladhappy seems frozen in place for a second… before dropping to his knees. Calvin grabs his wrists, holding his arms high into the air. The fans buzz in anticipation as they know what’s coming… she rears back…
Nick Stuart: Calculated Risk!!!
Richard Parker: KNEES MEET FACE! KNEES WIN!
Gladdyhappy is down, and Calvin hooks the leg…
DING DING DING!
Vince Howard: Your winner… by pinfall “High Caliber”… JUSTIIIIIIINE CAL-VIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNnnnnnn!!!
Nick Stuart: And a huge measure of revenge for Justine Calvin for the attack two weeks ago!
Richard Parker: I mean, Gladhappy has nothing to complain about. Calvin’s knees sure NUZZLED his face, you know what I mean?
WHAT’S IN THE CABINET?
Inside a small locker room, Nova sits on a bench, fully decked-out in tights, pads, and gloves.
He’s not scheduled for a match, but that’s irrelevant to his wardrobe considerations.
Those who know it feel it.
His eyes come back into focus at the sound of a knock at the door.
Nova: (Looking up.) Yup.
The door to the locker room creaks open and Hayes Hanlon quickly steps through and shuts it behind him. He takes one look at the Starchild, and his shoulders slump.
Hayes Hanlon: I tried, man. I really tried.
The Risen Star grins at Hanlon, and reaches into a bag under the bench, shuffling out a cigarette. He lights up.
Nova: I know you did, Hayes. I was there, bud.
The Event Horizon turns away and steps across a row of lockers like he’s about to unload on them before he pauses and turns back to Nova.
Hayes Hanlon: That was your shot! You got another chance at the big strap, and it was blown over freakin’ nonsense.
He runs a hand through his Mount Rushmore-level ‘stache.
Hayes Hanlon: I’m freaking out, man. This shit with Jiles never ends. I wanted to face you at Colossus and…and bro, you’re really wearing your great on an off-night again, huh?
Nova takes a long drag and his grin stretches from ear-to-ear.
Nova: I didn’t ask for that shot, but I got it, and once I got it, I wanted it more than anything, Hayes. And it felt right. It felt like it was time.
The Starchild takes another drag.
Nova: I was there, right? And when all of a sudden I wasn’t there, it took a second.
Nova stares off into space, nodding his head and using his free hand to scratch at his odd horseshoe of scraggly silver-blonde hair.
Hayes stares at him, waiting for the proverbial punchline.
Hayes Hanlon: …a second for what?
Nova: It took a second… to remember that I might not be the Champ…
The Risen Star lifts a leg and points joyfully at his ankle.
Nova: …but I am free, Hayes.
Hanlon nods, and Nova points up to the wall, where a framed photo of the early generations of PRIME Hall of Famers hangs above a water cooler.
Nova: (Taking another drag.) Besides, I don’t think they can take that away from me just ‘cuz I won a lot, took twelve years off or something, then came back and didn’t win very much.
Both their heads whip around at the sound of a CABINET~! door exploding open next to a series of lockers. Out of the open space climbs a man in a black suit, graying brown hair closely coiffed around his ears as he stands upright in front of the Risen Star and Hanlon behind him.
The former Chairman of PRIME… and more importantly, fellow PRIME Hall of Famer, Sonny Silver, adjusts the blood-red tie cinched around his neck, and locks eyes with Nova.
Sonny Silver: Oh…can’t they?
He runs a hand through his gray-flecked beard and his eyes narrow. The pupils in Hanlon’s eyes grow as he looks back and forth between the two. Nova stands up, planting his left foot behind him and reaching out…
…before drawing Silver into a hug. Nova howls with glee.
Nova: Sonny, you motherfucker! How long has it been? How are you, bud?!
Sonny draws back and grips the Risen Star by the shoulders, the grin that sank a thousand dreams spreading over his face.
Sonny Silver: Doing all right, man, doing all right. Been spending the last few years training this next generation of athletes, shit-kicking rookies, weeding out the bad ones… and waiting in this here CABINET~! How about you?
Nova steps back, holding out his arms and taking a drag.
Nova: I’m not in prison anymore, so I feel like…trending in the right direction?
Hayes Hanlon: (Stepping forward and reaching a hand to Silver.) Sorry, don’t wanna interrupt. I’m Hayes Hanlon, huge fan of your work Mr. Silver…but…did you just climb out of a locker room cabinet in a three-piece suit?
Silver’s eyes dart briefly towards the Event Horizon before settling back on Nova. Nova looks over to Hayes and gives him a quick head-shake.
Hanlon stares around at the film crew, mouthing the words, “He did, right?”
Sonny Silver: Nov, I wish I could say you look great…
Nova looks himself up and down.
Sonny Silver: …and I wish I could say this was a happy visit, but the truth of the matter is… what’s the nicest way for me to put this…
Nova absently offers a cigarette to Hayes while Sonny searches for the words. Hanlon plucks one out and reflexively puts it between his lips, before shaking his head and looking at the cig with confusion, turning back to the film crew and handing it off to a cameraman, mouthing “I don’t smoke.”
Sonny Silver: Nova… you’ve been stinking up the joint. BAD. Like, “A Loaf of Wonder Bread left out in the sun for three days” bad. And worse…
Silver pinches the bridge of his nose and takes a deep breath to calm himself.
Sonny Silver: HOO-WEE…you’ve been doing it in the name of the PRIME Hall of Fame.
The former Chairman of PRIME~! fights back tears.
Sonny Silver: You’ve sucked pretty bad so far, and we…I think I’m comfortable saying “we”…are really concerned that the n00bs are gonna think you were basically the litmus test for success back in the day.
Silver puts a hand on Nova’s shoulder and gives him a sober nod.
Sonny Silver: That would give the impression that all of us who came before, and won big, waddled around a McDonald’s ball pit spraining ankles until someone stumbled their way into grabbing a kitschy trinket hanging from the ceiling tarp, and that’s not fair, Nov. That’s not how we get remembered.
Having heard enough, Hayes takes a step forward.
Hayes Hanlon: Dude, I was picking boogers in that ball pit when Nova was winning titles, and that’s a bunch of bullsh-
The Risen Star draws an arm across Hanlon’s chest, calling him back.
Nova: (Eyes turning back to Silver.) What do you want, old friend?
Sonny Silver: I want you to stop blaspheming what we built. I want you to quit pissing in the pool of legends. WAKE! THE FUCK! UP! You’re better than this, Nova… SO much better than this… but after seeing everything I’ve been seeing out of you lately…
Nova’s brow furrows as he pauses to consider whether he peed in someone’s pool recently. Silver reaches out and yanks the Risen Star’s face around to meet his.
Sonny Silver: We gotta get drastic. So here’s what’s gonna happen…
Sonny pulls him just a hair closer.
Sonny Silver: I’m stepping back into that ring, Nova. I’m stepping up into that ring to protect the good name of all PRIME Hall of Famers… and I want that person I step into the ring with… to be you, Nova. You and me, one-on-one, at Colossus!
That really sinks in for Nova as he continues taking in what’s being said (yelled?) at him. Hayes gasps, audibly, and does his best impression of that gif of Andy Dwyer from Parks and Rec.
Sonny Silver: You want to keep that Hall of Fame spot of yours? I’m gonna talk to Lindsay to make this happen, but you and I, we’re gonna FIGHT. You’re gonna go out there and you’re either going to prove me wrong, or you’re going to prove me right. ‘Cause if I win…you relinquish your place in the PRIME Hall of Fame!
He facepalms Nova away, costing him at least, like, nine inches of floor space, then turns and marches out of the room, the tails on his suit flapping enthusiastically as he makes his exit.
Sonny Silver: (Shouting on his way out.) I want your answer soon, Nov! Take it or leave it!
Hanlon looks over to Nova.
Hayes Hanlon: Okay, that’s a tough sell. But…what happens if you win?
Nova shakes his head as he snuff his previous cigarette and lights a new one.
Nova: He’s a pretty shrewd negotiator.
Justine Calvin makes her way through the backstage area following the conclusion of her first-ever singles match on the national stage. Tomorrow her muscles will feel every minute of that match, but for now she is content to coast on the surge of adrenaline still coursing through her. Despite the recent injuries to it at the hands of the Love Convoy, the left arm held up okay. All things considered, it’s been a pretty good day.
Then she hears it. Justine doesn’t recognize the lyrics or the song, only the voice. The drawl is unmistakable.
“You were a bright light, you were a fist fight…”
At least, it was a pretty good day.
Another surge of adrenaline hits her system, the fight or flight instinct taking over. Paxton Ray weighs twice as much as she does, and stands a good foot taller. That he’s a terrible singer is the least of her concern.
Still, her hands ball into fists. A snarl curls the corner of her lips. Fight it is, then.
The Bayou Butcher sees Justine stop and he rolls to a stop as well, landing a few feet away from the tag champion.
Paxton Ray: Hey there, champ. Nice match.
Justine scoffs, then spits on the ground at his feet. It’s fortunate that her mother doesn’t watch every week, or there would be a lecture in her future.
Justine Calvin: You. Don’t. Belong here.
Paxton nods, reaching up to rub his beard.
Paxton Ray: I see why ya think that. I ain’t as dumb as they say, ya know. I know what I did ain’t right.
He looks back briefly to find a nearby wall and leans against it.
Paxton Ray: But at the end’a th’ day, I am here, belongin’ or not. And if I’m here, I’ma keep doin’ the thing I love. Sorry if it makes ya feel bad.
He’s not sorry.
It’s the ease at which he carries himself that draws her ire.
Justine Calvin: The hell you will. I don’t know if you realize this, shithead, but there’s just one of you, and there’s a whole locker room full of us. You think everyone’s just going to forget about what happened to Jon and let you go on with your life? You think everyone’s going to forget about what happened to Mark?
She flexes the fingers on her right hand and rolls her wrist. She hasn’t been around long enough for people to pick up on it yet, but it’s her tell.
Justine Calvin: So yeah, you’re here. Now. But I wouldn’t fucking get comfortable if I were you.
But he does look so comfortable right now. His boot dances on and off the wall as he looks down at Justine.
Paxton Ray: Is that right.
Justine doesn’t answer. Paxton leaves his perch, launching himself back into full posture. He takes a few steps towards her and smiles.
Paxton Ray: Well if it’s all of ya versus lil’ ol’ me, then y’all are more than welcome to make me leave any time ya like. But ya won’t.
He continues to close in on her.
Paxton Ray: ‘Cause ya can crow all day long ‘bout what’s right an’ wrong, but talkin’ is easier than fightin’. People can hurt ya. Make ya bleed. Drown ya in fuckin’ chocolate.
At the last word, Justine’s face cracks briefly, though her snarl returns quickly as Paxton leans in.
Paxton Ray: And ya never. Fight. Back.
A torrent of memories flood her mind, the horrors of the last few months replaying themselves on a loop. Twice her partner’s life was threatened, and twice she was unable to do anything to prevent it.
Justine Calvin: (hissed) Fuck you.
Her punch is clean, solid. The height disparity between them means she has to reach more than she’d like, sacrificing power for precision. Her father was a boxer. She grew up with three older brothers. Learning how to throw a punch was taught early on in the Calvin household, the most important item on the list behind first words, learning to walk, and potty training.
Paxton rears back, his hand going straight to his jaw. He rubs the spot a little and finds a bit of blood coming out of his lip. Looking away for a moment, he turns back to his assailant with a smile.
Paxton Ray: Oh, Jussy. I was so hopin’ ya would do that.
He quickly lunges forward and grabs at her.
Paxton is hit by a blur of blue and white, the impact hard enough that he’s sent careening into a nearby stack of crates. The blow is strong enough to break his grip on Justine, who is dragged down with them. Before either she or Ray can react, Sykes is back on his feet, grabbing Paxton by his shirt and driving him into the nearest crate.
King Blueberry: Hey, Paxton. Been a while.
The first thing that catches his eye is a cart a few steps away, upon which is stacked a pile of folded chairs. It’s the sort of thing the production crew would use to move seats in and out of the floor area of the Grand Garden Arena. In this case, it may as well be a weapons locker. Sykes picks up the topmost chair, hefting it in his hands, testing the weight. The first swing connects. A jolt of electricity rockets the length of Paxton Ray’s spine, and a surge of energy is released from the gathered faithful.
It all happens so fast that only now does the broadcast team realize what’s happening.
Nick Stuart: Pandemonium has broken out backstage!
Richard Parker: Call it whatever you want, Nick. As far as I’m concerned this is justice.
A second shot connects, and then a third. A fourth follows.
Justine Calvin: Jared, what the fuck are you doing?
She stumbles to her feet, her body still sore from the last few months of hell now only compounded by being minutes removed from her match. She moves to intervene and only just escapes being clipped by the backswing on her partner’s fifth shot with the chair. The blow is hard enough that the weapon bends, and the back section breaks free of its solder and flies across the length of the space.
Sykes looks at the broken frame he holds, turning it over in his hands. He casts the bent metal aside and calmly picks up a replacement. Justine takes a step towards him, desperate to bring the situation under control. This isn’t the boy she grew up with. It’s not the man who brought her to PRIME and opened a door for her career. She searches his face, looking for some hint of that person, but the expression she finds causes her to freeze.
There isn’t one.
Justine Calvin: (softly) Jared?
A second chair is dented and bent against the body of Paxton Ray.
Nick Stuart: Fans I’ve just been told that security has been made aware of the situation and are on their way to try and break this up.
Richard Parker: If they decide to stop by the casino first I won’t complain.
The third chair isn’t swung, but rather unfolded and thrown like a crude javelin. The fourth chair mercifully misses its target, but is swung hard enough that it punches through the wooden wall of one of the production crates and lodges itself there.
Justine Calvin: Jared, come on, that’s enough!
He doesn’t stop. A fifth chair is pulled from the stack, and turned sideways. The swing that follows is the most brutal, as it’s wielded like an axe and swung with two hands so that the impact isn’t taken flat, but rather along one rigid edge.
The Bayou Butcher rolls onto his side, arching his spine and grimacing through clenched teeth. Before he can catch his breath he’s forced onto his back. The air is driven from his body as the crossbeam between the folded legs of the chair is pressed against his throat. All two-hundred pounds of Jared Sykes leans against it. The anger now pours through the rips in his mask. Anger, and a hint of regret.
King Blueberry: Don’t… you… ever…
The words are all but spat at the trapped brawler. Between gasps Paxton tries to push free, but he is caught in the teeth of a Turkish kangal, jaws locked tight around its prey.
Justine snakes her arms around her partner’s waist and plants her feet. Despite the fact that she’s giving up almost eighty pounds, she has to try.
Justine Calvin: Stop! Just stop! Jared, please!
Fortunately for Justine, someone’s there to help. His name is Sid Phillips, and he usually only knows powerbombs. Tonight, though, he’s there to use his considerable size to take hold of one of Jared’s arms and pull him back. It’s almost like he’s fighting the tide, though, and even he has trouble keeping Jared held back until Joe Fontaine comes in to grab hold of the other side.
Coral Avalon: Whoa, there! That’s enough!
Coral Avalon puts himself between Paxton Ray and Jared Sykes, right into the eye of the storm. He keeps his head on a swivel, keeping both of them in his sight. Jared could always break away, somehow. Paxton might not be as dead as he looks. He stands ready to fight both of them to get them to stop, even if it means he’s the one sent to the hospital for it.
Coral Avalon: Sorry, Jared, I’m afraid the lady asked for you to stop.
In between heavy breaths, Jared relents.
King Blueberry: Alright… alright… fine.
He lets his muscles relax, letting the tension bleed away. Jared allows himself to be led back a few paces, and while his posture has eased the grip on the chair never lessens.
King Blueberry: Fine.
For his part, Paxton doesn’t move. Within the hour, a post will appear on Reddit counting the amount of times he was leveled with a chair in the space of the last few moments. The final tally will be twenty-six.
Justine Calvin: (whispered) What the fuck.
King Blueberry: It’s cool. I’m fine.
Coral Avalon: I’m glad that it’s cool and you’re fine. Can you put down the chair now?
The next few seconds seem to drag on forever as Jared stands steadfast, still white-knuckling the leg of a ravaged folding chair, before his fingers release and it clatters to the floor.
King Blueberry: There. It’s done.
His eyes never leave the still-prone Paxton.
Justine Calvin: Okay, I think we need to talk. Now.
With the Winds there for support in the event Jared has a change of heart, Justine is finally able to pull him away from the scene.
The last thing the camera sees before transitioning is Paxton Ray sprawled out on the tile, a smile curling across his lips.
We return to the in-ring area as a technician lays flat on his back on the entryway ramp. The camera remains there as the technician rolls over and crawls on his hands and knees, fearfully, away from the backstage entrance.
Nick Stuart: Folks, we just saw a technician fly out from the backstage…
Richard Parker: There’s another one!
Sure enough, another technician, dressed in all black clothing, flies through the air from backstage and lands on top of the ramp. Like the previous tech, he crawls up to his hands and knees and scurries away just as The Russian Bear, Ivan Stanislav, emerges with a look of pure, unquantifiable rage on his face.
Richard Parker: Get the yeet counter up!!
Ivan tromps down the entryway as the crowd immediately begins to boo him. His music does not play, nor do the lights turn crimson as is typically the case. He simply thunders towards the ring with heavy, stomping footfalls, his eyes glaring with barely contained anger.
Nick Stuart: This isn’t on our sheet everyone, I have no idea why Ivan is even here. He’s not even scheduled to wrestle tonight.
Richard Parker: We can always use more Ivan though, I mean c’mon Nick, the guy brings in some big ratings!
Stanislav steps, yes, steps up onto the apron and over the top rope in a frighteningly fluid motion. He barks near the timekeeper and a microphone flies through the air, which he deftly catches. It’s at this time that the production team finally realizes what is going on, and the “Soviet National Anthem” blares and the lights immediately turn red, but it’s too little too late. Stanislav roars into the microphone and the sound system crackles and pops under the sheer weight of his voice.
Ivan Stanislav: SILENCE!
The music stops immediately and the lights return to their normal shade, as if to transmit the fear of the poor folks in the production truck. The canvas ring flexes and bounces as Ivan stomps around near the ropes, pacing like a caged animal.
Nick Stuart: I don’t see Alexei Ruslan with Ivan… that’s a little strange, isn’t it?
Richard Parker: Everything Ivan Stanislav does is carefully calculated, no doubt by design!
Stanislav finally stops in the middle of the ring and stares towards the hard cam.
Ivan Stanislav: Since I have come to PRIME, I have done nothing but honest best to be cordial, statesmanlike representative of my Motherland! Ivan Stanislav has tried, time and time again, to advocate for those who may be disenfranchised. I have done what I can to show caring for those less fortunate. I have argued, in positive manner, for those who have been wronged by those who are in power. And yet, throughout it all, I have been met by blind fools who do nothing more than wag their tongues and make morons of themselves in vain attempt to insult The Russian Bear! And why do they do it? Because they hate my country? Or is it me? Or their fear of my greatness? Regardless of the reasons, it is well documented that Lindsay Troy and PRIME as whole begged Ivan Sergeiovich to come to their flagging aid, and since doing so, I have demolished Hayes Hanlon…
Nick Stuart: It is well documented that Hanlon defeated Ivan at UltraViolence…
Ivan Stanislav: …annihilated Shawn Warstein…
Nick Stuart: Warstein wasn’t annihilated. If anything, he could have beaten Ivan, who showed a lot of ring rust still…
Ivan Stanislav: …and castrated Coral Avalon!
Nick Stuart: An interesting choice of words considering how hard Ivan kicked Coral in the testicular region…
Richard Parker: Propaganda. You know, Nick, some day your words are going to get you in a lot of trouble.
Ivan Stanislav: And still, the idiots and fools wish to insult me. Me! I try to impart my wisdom, and try to make their lot in life better! And these idiots are not willing to even grant me the simplest form of human decency! I am walking legend in the realm of wrestling! The single greatest entity to come out of PCW and OSW! I am a veteran of foreign war. I am champion and hero of Russia! And each and every one of you dogs spit upon me, my people, and my MOTHERLAND!
The sound system struggles not to self-destruct as it works overtime to handle the roaring of The Bear. Stanislav, despite his near nuclear meltdown, suddenly grins. Is this where the term “Crazy Ivan” comes from? No, that’s a submarine term. But he is looking fairly manic.
Ivan Stanislav: Some of your memories may be short. Perhaps, just perhaps, you are unaware of what I have done in the past federations? Perhaps, you foolishly forget the peril one puts themselves in when they are stupid enough to prod the Bear? The young, stupid idiots on this roster think they can throw barbs at me from afar, and not risk retribution? I assure you that each and every one of them will pay a terrible price! That is an inevitability. I will make each and every PRIME viewer cry for their heroes while I demolish them!
Ivan smirks to himself, his rage has been bottled, but it clearly simmers beneath frustrated eyes.
Ivan Stanislav: I have learned great many things here in PRIME since coming back. I have learned that you can paralyze someone, and after weathering vacant threats, you can be allowed back! I have learned that if you tell the truth, and do your best to let individuals think critically, you are berated for your efforts. Perhaps my biggest takeaway thus far since coming back? Nothing, at all, has changed.
Ivan’s anger starts to cloud his face again and frowns.
Ivan Stanislav: Those wrestlers will get their due, absolutely. But any individual who dares to speak ill of The Russian Bear… any tiny, miniscule ant who thinks it prudent to get in my way, physically or verbally, is considered an enemy. There is one person, one damned person, who is not back there on the roster, who has particularly insulted me…
Nick Stuart: Let me just say that whoever that person is, I feel sorry for them. Ivan looks like he won’t be contained tonight.
Ivan Stanislav: This person has audacity to use their station to parrot lies and fabrications regarding The Russian Bear. They do it behind the protection of their position and would-be “history” in this company. They do it for their own betterment and self-fulfillment. This… wrecker… thinks they are shielded by their own “prestige” in PRIME. You all know who I am speaking of:
Ivan turns, walks over to the corner of the ring, and points an accusatory finger down at the announce table.
Ivan Stanislav: NICK STUART!
We cut to another camera near the announce table, where Nick’s eyes bulge out of his head and he brings his hands up.
Nick Stuart: What? What’s he talking about?
Richard looks over at Nick, and then up at the ring. Despite the bright lighting, Stanislav casts a long shadow as he steps over the rope and exits in their direction. Richard cannot hide his fear.
Richard Parker: Oh crap here he comes!
Stanislav no longer is holding his microphone, but his voice is easily heard from the other mics in the immediate area. He bellows in Russian.
Ivan Stanislav: Ты сукин сын Ник Стюарт! (switching to English) You have audacity to presume I cheated in my match against Avalon?!
Nick rises as Ivan looms on the other side of the announce table. He brings his hands up in front of him. Richard nearly trips over his chair and stands as well.
Nick Stuart: Calm down Ivan, I was just calling the match, nothing more than…
Ivan Stanislav: RRRRAAAAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!
It is so chaotic, it’s hard to keep it all straight. In an instant, Stanislav grabs the entire announce table with both hands and flings it up and over his head, backwards, without even watching it. The table lifts into the air, ripping the monitors, cables, and wires with it. Nick and Richard scream as their headsets rip from their heads. High overhead, the announce table lazily sails through the air, past the ropes, and comes crashing down inside the ring itself. It explodes in a torrent of wood and hardware, bursting outward in a mess of debris. All around Ivan, Nick, and Richard, the three monitors fall like meteors.
One monitor narrowly misses the timekeeper and instead hits the bell with a loud CLONG! Another lands farther off to Ivan’s right. The third… doesn’t seem to fall? Everyone around the ring, save for Ivan, Nick, and Richard, flee. They drop their clipboards and papers or drinks, and evacuate. One brave cameraman moves in close to get a shot of Ivan’s angry face. The Bear bellows as his huge paw of a hand engulfs the camera lens.
Ivan Stanislav: Get out of my fa–
Static fills the tv screens after Ivan’s huge paw obliterates the front half of the camera. Production switches to another camera, whose operator runs down around the ring, almost simulating an earthquake from all the bouncing. As this new cameraman rushes around the ring, the first cameraman is running past him. The camera, which Ivan crushed, careens over his head much like the table, past the entire ring, and explodes into plastic and metal on the entryway.
We see Ivan from the opposite side with this new camera angle. His shoulders rise and fall and tug on his red suspenders, which work the front of his pants slightly higher around his solid waist. Nick tries to back away, but he’s all but trapped by the guardrail. The crowd hurls insults at Stanislav, who is unfazed. Ivan reaches out and snatches Nick up by the front of his smart, expensive shirt and jacket.
Ivan Stanislav: Silk shirt and supple tie, Stuart. You reek of bourgeois filth!! You need to learn to speak the truth!
Nick screams as he is slowly lifted by the shirt.
Nick Stuart: Mr. S…Stanislav….
Ivan snarls through gritted teeth as Nick continues his ascent at Ivan’s massive hand.
Ivan Stanislav: PRAPORSHCHIK!
Nick coughs as Ivan wraps his huge hand around his neck. He kicks his legs feebly and tries to push at Ivan’s enormous forearm.
Nick Stuart: Praporshch.ik…
Ivan effortlessly shakes Nick forward and back. The hapless announcer struggles not to ragdoll and fails.
Stanislav turns and carries the flailing Nick with him. He steps up onto the apron, and up over the top rope into the center of the ring. His feet kick at the debris that once was a fully functioning announce table. Somehow, the third and final monitor finally falls from on high, crashes into a turnbuckle, and explodes. The ring looks like a warzone.
Ivan shakes Nick again, to and fro, as the poor announcer continues to paw at the enormous Russian forearm.
Ivan Stanislav: Come on big mouth, you always like to talk, I cannot hear you, dog! You apologize for lying to everyone, eh? Or else I make you scream!
Nick Stuart: S….srryy….
Surprisingly, Richard snaps out of his shock and slides into the ring. Ivan stands amidst the wreckage of the announce table, for all to see, while still easily holding a now purple-faced Nick Stuart by the throat.
Richard Parker: Ivan! Comrade! Put him down!
Ivan gives no indication that he is going to let go of Nick. If anything, he throttles the hapless announcer more. Richard decides to act.
Richard Parker: That’s enough Ivan, stop it! Let him go!
Bravely, Richard Parker jumps and grabs onto Ivan’s arm in a futile attempt to make him lower Nick. The crowd pops loudly for Richard, who attempts to help his friend in spite of this overwhelming, angry Russian. Instead, he hangs there and kicks his legs. Ivan grits his teeth and jerks his elbow to the side, jostling not just Nick, but also sends Parker falling and haphazardly rolling into the corner. Richard calls out towards the entrance.
Richard Parker: We have to get some help down here!!
Help arrives in the form of PRIME Head of Security Dametreyus and Head Referee Timo Bolamba. The crowd immediately cheers upon their arrival, which draws Ivan’s attention. The two men slide into the ring as Ivan now holds Nick firmly around the neck and turns to face them. Both Dam and Timo keep a safe distance from Stanislav, but neither look like they’re willing to back down. Richard makes it up for them as he dabs his forehead with a handkerchief in the corner.
Dam: Put him down, or I’m gonna put you down.
Timo Bolamba: Ivan, what the hell man? Don’t make us do this.
Ivan bellows in Timo’s direction, but he has Nick in a very precarious position.
Ivan Stanislav: I will not stomach a vile lie-monger. He spreads lies about you as well, Bolamba, and criticizes your hard work. He has even already apologized. It is a confession to his disparaging attacks! You should be helping me wring his little neck!
Despite Stanislav standing several inches taller and being several points heavier than Dam, the PRIME Head of Security squares off against Ivan. Though the statistics state that Ivan would be just fifty pounds heavier than Dam, he looks a fair bit bigger. Is he really only 400 pounds? Regardless, Ivan points a threatening finger towards Dam, who stops just short of closing the distance.
Ivan Stanislav: You take another step, little man, and I will make Nick Stuart’s poisonous voicebox regret it! Any fool who wants to have the nerve to criticize Ivan Stanislav risks his retribution!
While Ivan speaks, Timo checks on Richard Parker, and as he notices the situation unfolding, he says something to Richard. Richard runs like hell up the ramp. Ivan shakes Stuart a few times, who weakly paws at his forearm, but is fading fast. It’s a standoff. The boos grow as Ivan raves. He points at Timo and Dam.
Ivan Stanislav: Timo, you know what I can do! This piece of filth deserves everything I give him. And you!?
Ivan points directly at Dam, who is just aching to attack him, were it not for Nick’s precarious position.
Ivan Stanislav: I stopped dropping cruiserweights in kindergarten!
Dam looks at Timo, weighing his options, before taking another step forward. Ivan sneers and is about to open his mouth again when “Put ‘Em in the Grave” blasts through the arena. Lindsay Troy, looking murderous, walks swiftly through the curtain and down the ramp, sliding underneath the bottom rope. She gets to her feet and storms over to Ivan, positioning herself in front of Dam. Her voice is a low, deliberate growl.
Lindsay Troy: Put. Him. Down.
Stanislav continues to hold Nick aloft as his face twists into a grin. It’s been a long time since Ivan Stanislav and Lindsay Troy have been in the ring together, but the tension between them is clearly still there. Ivan barks at her.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAAHAAHAA!! The “Queen” descends her lofty throne, finally. You do not want to shuffle me off to your assistant now, do you?
Ivan brandishes Nick in his huge hand and shakes him a few times.
Ivan Stanislav: Take your lapdog! Now I have the true spreader of disinformation and deceit. I should have buried you twenty years ago!
The Samoan Silencer takes a step forward to try and diffuse the situation, but Troy holds her arm out to stop him. She keeps her eyes locked on Ivan and unbuttons her suit jacket. The PRIMEates let out a roar as the garment is tossed to the mat.
Lindsay Troy: Should’ve. Didn’t. You’re about to be reminded why.
Ivan glances to his right towards Nick in his hand. He considers his options for a moment, grins, and with one motion he tosses him toward Troy for her to catch. Stanislav tilts his head to the side and cracks his neck, as one hand pulls his left suspender off his shoulder, and his other tugs the right off his other shoulder, letting them dangle alongside his legs. He roars.
Ivan Stanislav: You were little girl in big ring back then, Lindsay Troy, and you are still little girl in big ring! Regardless of what you think, you are out of your depth. I will bring you back to reality!
Richard finally emerges from backstage with none other than Alexei Ruslan, who looks as confused as ever. He widens his eyes as he sees the carnage and situation in the ring, and admittedly, he grins to himself with amusement. But he jogs (not runs) down towards the ring. Ivan looks past Lindsay, Dam, and Timo to see him.
Ruslan slides into the ring and warily walks a wide circle around the PRIME staffers while pointing a finger upward towards them, as if to tell them to wait. Ruslan speaks in his native tongue to Ivan.
Alexei Ruslan: Иван, какого черта ты делаешь?
Ivan Stanislav: Унижай эту собаку, как будто она этого заслуживает. А потом подавить этих троих, Алексей!
Ruslan nods his head and lifts both of his hands towards Ivan, as if to defuse the situation. He then looks over at Troy, Dam, and Bolamba and frowns.
Alexei Ruslan: Распространитель лжи усвоил уроки. Мы уложим его, если он пересечет нашу красную линию.
Stanislav nods and replies, and oddly enough, it is almost conversational now.
Ivan Stanislav: Очень хорошо. Ты видишь маленькую Линдси Трой? Она чуть не испачкалась, она так трясется!
Lindsay Troy: Скажи это по-английски, трус.
In unison, the two Russians go from smirking and smiling at one another, to frowning as they mechanically turn their heads towards Troy. Rage seems to bubble up in Stanislav’s prodigious frame as she speaks -their- language, but more so for whatever she says.
Ivan Stanislav: I have put far greater people far deeper in the ground for calling me far less…
His military boots crunch as he bends his feet to move forward, but it’s Alexei, of all people, who intervenes. With an almost gentle touch, he grips Ivan’s huge wrist, with as much as his hand can allow. Alexei dispenses with the Russian.
Alexei Ruslan: Ivan Sergeiovich, why bother? We take her out, we have to take both of them out. Fact is, they are just pawns in her game, eh? They should not have to suffer. She comes out when she has numerical advantage, and she is shaking. Let us not terrorize the little girl. I remember how she squealed when I choked her with flag, she is probably still in therapy for it.
Ruslan sneers at Troy and Ivan seems to calm a little bit. He pulls one suspender up, and then another.
Ivan Stanislav: All right… all right. You are right. No reason to drag the tin soldier security guard and Bolamba into conflict of her making.
Ruslan reaches into his trench coat pocket and produces a card. He flicks it towards Troy.
Alexei Ruslan: Ms. Troy? You have a problem with all this mess, you can call Ivan’s aides in Kaliningrad.
Lindsay Troy: (sarcastically) I’ll have my assistant get right on that.
The Russians smirk. Some of the PRIMEates boo, as they clearly wanted to see the throwdown. Ivan lumbers to the edge of the ring and points at Richard Parker, who stands in the corner.
Ivan Stanislav: You continue calling what is correct about Ivan and Alexei. Turncoats are not, shall we say, celebrated.
Ivan allows Alexei to climb out first. Somehow, Ruslan has a steel baton in his hand. Where did it even come from? Nevertheless, Ivan steps over the top rope and down to the floor. They trudge up the ramp, with Stanislav turning around to point at the three in the ring. He jaws at them in Russian, but it’s more roaring than intelligible. Timo and Dam check on Nick, who isn’t unconscious, but is coughing heavily and blinking rapidly. Stanislav makes it to the top of the entryway, turns, and bellows one more time.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAAHAAHAA!!
Ruslan beams to himself and to Ivan. He removes his hat and bows towards the ring, then flips the hat back up on his head with a cocky grin. The two turn, in lock step, and exit. Dam checks on Nick while Timo throws up an X hand signal to indicate a medical crew to come down and check on Nick.
Yeet Count: 3 (4 if you count the announce table)
NATE COLTON AND BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD VS. 2BECOME1
ReVival comes back from commercial to find a makeshift commentation station in the form of a long folding table set up amongst the debris from Ivan’s tirade. The PRIMEates give a resounding cheer as the camera closes in on Nick Stuart and Richard Parker, who have returned to their seats.
Nick Stuart: Welcome back fans, and as you can undoubtedly see, the show will go on despite our – and our booth’s – appearances.
Richard Parker: I’ve called a lot of action and have seen a lot of things go down in a PRIME ring, but never anything like what Ivan Stanislav just did. Are you sure you’re alright to keep going tonight, Nick?
Nick looks at his long-time broadcast partner and nods. If he’s still shaken at all by what happened a few moments ago, he’s doing his very best to not show it.
Nick Stuart: Good to go, Richard. Let’s turn it over to Vince Howard for the intros.
The 2 Become 1 Remix by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre begins to play as the crowd boos loudly!
Vince Howard: The following tag team match is scheduled for one fall; and the Love Convoy is BANNED from ringside!
Jonathan-Christopher Hall and Darin Zion step out to a chorus of boos as they make their way to the ring.
Vince Howard: Introducing first, weighing in at a total combined weight of 445 pounds, Jonathan-Christopher Hall and Darin Zion. 2BECOME1!
The pair makes their way to the ring, Jonathan-Christopher noticeably glum without his beloved Amazing Life Partner.
Vince Howard: And, their opponents!
A classic rock riff signals the beginning of “Tryin’” by the Eagles, and moments later Nate Colton emerges from the curtain. He holds his arms up high, showing off his blue satin jacket–his family name emblazoned on the back; his first name stitched on the front.
Vince Howard: First, from Evansville, Indians and weighing in at 255 pounds, NATE COLTON!!
Nate walks quickly to the ring, making sure to high five any fans who reach toward him. He climbs the steps, ducks between the top and middle ropes, and enters the ring. He heads directly to his corner and undoes his jacket, showing off his gear–white trunks that reach his upper thigh with a blue stripe down the side, white boots with blue trim, white MMA gloves, and blue elbow and knee pads. After handing his jacket to a ring attendant, he makes another appeal to the fans, then stretches in the corner while he mentally prepares for his opponent.
Vince Howard: And his tag team partner…
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
Bloodsport (World Domination) by Health pounds through the arena and every PRIMEmate present comes to their feet!
Vince Howard: Hailing from Bandera Falls, Texas by way of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and weighing in at 270 pounds! He is the Tower of Babel, BRANDOOOON YOUNNNGBLOOOD!!!
Brandon Youngblood makes his way to the ring, all business, as the fans cheer him all the way.
Nick Stuart: We’re about set to get underway here and it looks like Nate Colton is gonna start off with Darin Zion.
As the bell sounds, Nate Colton and Darin Zion begin to circle one another. They tie up, but Colton quickly transitions to an arm wringer before seamlessly turning it into a wristlock. Zion immediately reaches over and rakes the eyes to break the hold, but Nate shrugs it off and quickly snatches a headlock and whips Zion over with a headlock takedown! Darin counters with a head scissors, but Nate kips out of it. Both men pop to their feet and Zion rushes in only to catch a quick arm drag for his troubles. Zion rolls away and bails from the ring!
Nick Stuart: And right away here we’re seeing the superior technical skills of Nate Colton. That didn’t go the way Zion hoped.
Richard Parker: I mean, can you blame him? I’m sure it’s difficult to concentrate when your whole entourage is banned!
Nick Stuart: Zion should be more than used to bans by now.
Zion and Hall come together on the outside while referee Jimmy Turnbull begins his count.
But the crowd comes ALIVE when Brandon Youngblood comes around the corner on the outside and flattens Jonathan-Christopher Hall. Youngblood begins to stalk Zion as Turnbull’s count reaches five.
YOUNGBLOOD’S GONNA KILL YOU
YOUNGBLOOD’S GONNA KILL YOU
Zion backs into the ring apron and is ROCKETED forward as Nate Colton connects with a baseball slide from the ring to the apron! Colton rolls outside after Zion and slings him back inside!
Nick Stuart: There’s nowhere to hide tonight! Now they’ve got to face their opponents head on!
Colton waits as Darin gets to his feet and then rushes forward, clobbering him with a running forearm. He brings Zion back to his feet and lifts him up before driving Darin into his knee with a back breaker!
Nate brings Zion back to his feet and drags him to the corner before tagging in Brandon Youngblood and the PRIMEates let out a raucous cheer!
Youngblood steps through the ropes and plants a boot in Zion’s gut before slinging him over with a gutwrench suplex. Suplex Daddy isn’t done though, and he brings Zion back up for another gutwrench, this time tossing the Love Convoy member halfway across the ring!
Nick Stuart: Youngblood’s taking his time here. He’s going to make these two pay.
Richard Parker: You had to know at some point, they were gonna be taken to task.
Youngblood stalks Zion as the latter crawls toward his partner. Youngblood snatches Darin by his tights and drags him backwards before YANKING him up into position and throwing him over with a German suplex! Youngblood tags Nate back in, holding up Zion’s arm while Colton sends a forearm into his exposed ribs.
Nate hooks Zion for a vertical suplex, BUT Zion drops his weight and rolls Nate up with an inside cradle! Turnbull is there!
Colton kicks out and Zion quickly rolls away, desperately reaching the outside of the ring for a breather.
Nick Stuart: Even after taking this beating, Darin Zion just almost ended it right there! You can’t say he’s not resourceful!
Richard Parker: I can say anything I want, it’s a free country!
JC Hall comes around to help his partner out, but the crowd roars again as The Tower of Babel makes his way around, spinning Hall around and absolutely jacking his jaw with a European uppercut! Jimmy Turnbull is right there admonishing Youngblood while Zion slips back into the ring to a waiting Nate Colton.
Richard Parker: Come on, Turnbull! I get he’s mad, but you’ve gotta keep order! Hall was just helping his partner!
Nick Stuart: You can’t blame Youngblood for his anger after what these two… OH! What a dirty move!
With the referee’s back turned while dealing with Youngblood on the outside, Nate starts to bring Zion to his feet, but Real Love goes LOW, dropping Nate to his knees.
Zion gets fully to his feet on slightly wobbly legs before hooking Colton by the head and whipping him over with a snap suplex. The crowd lets out a LOUD boo as Zion tags in a fresh Jonathan-Christopher Hall.
Hall steps through the ropes and immediately plants a boot to the side of Colton’s head. The Timid Tiger drops a leg across Colton’s throat to follow up before going for a quick cover.
Colton shoulders up to avoid the three, but Hall isn’t done. He brings Nate to his feet before whipping him back over with a snap mare. He looks to blow a kiss to his Amazing Life Partner, but Vickie is nowhere in sight. Jonathan-Christopher looks put off by his lack of Vickie at ringside, but quickly wrenches on a reverse chin lock, squeezing down on Nate.
Nick Stuart: I’m surprised Hall is able to focus without Vickie here tonight.
Richard Parker: He’s a professional, Nick. Sure, he misses his ALP, but he’s got a job to do tonight and he’s getting it done.
Jonathan-Christopher looks up and jaw-jacks in the direction of Brandon Youngblood on the apron, the cameras not quite picking up what he says. Youngblood looks furious as he steps into the ring barreling forward. Jimmy Turnbull steps in his way as Hall hops up and away, motioning Zion into the ring.
Nick Stuart: Brandon’s temper is getting him into some trouble here. Look at that double team!
Zion and Hall shoot Colton into the ropes and drop him with a pair of back elbows. Hall exits the ring, leaving Zion in the ring. Darin snatches a rear chinlock just as Turnbull gets Youngblood back to the corner.
Zion transitions from the chinlock to a dragon sleeper! He cranks back and Turnbull is right there to check on Nate, but Colton shakes his head in the negative.
Nick Stuart: Come on! There was no tag there!
Richard Parker: They didn’t need to, they were close enough that it didn’t matter!
Nick Stuart: Will you be serious?!
Darin cranks back harder on the hold and Colton begins to fade. Jimmy Turnbull raises one of Nate’s arms and it drops once.
BUT Brandon Youngblood storms into the ring and STOMPS Darin Zion in the head to break the hold. The referee is right on Youngblood’s case, sending him back to the corner.
JC Hall takes advantage of the distraction and rushes into the ring. Zion rolls out, clapping his hands loudly, as Hall brings Nate to his feet before hooking him in a vertical suplex position.
Hall goes to lift, but Colton blocks the attempt! The Timid Tiger tries again, but again it’s blocked! And a third time!
Nate Colton brings Hall up and over with a suplex of his own and the crowd goes wild!
Nick Stuart: Now’s the time to capitalize! Nate Colton’s got to make a tag!
Richard Parker: But look how smart Jonathan-Christopher is!
Nate tries to crawl towards Youngblood, but Hall has ahold of his boot, preventing him from getting too far! Colton struggles to a standing position on one leg, hopping around as Hall keeps his grip.
And Nate Colton LEVELS JC Hall with a huge enziguri! Colton drops and crawls forward, reaching for the outstretched hand of Brandon Youngblood!
Darin Zion rushes into the ring and Jimmy Turnbull turns around to chase him back out JUST as Colton tags in the Ace of PRIME! The crowd goes ballistic as Youngblood enters the ring! Suplex Daddy SNATCHES Jonathan Christopher around the waist and LAUNCHES him up and over with an overhead belly to belly suplex! He lets out a ROAR as the crowd cheers!
But Jimmy Turnbull turns around and immediately starts waving Youngblood back to the corner. The Hall of Famer is incensed, insisting there was a legal tag! But, Turnbull ushers him back out of the ring!
Nick Stuart: Come on, Jimmy! There was a tag!
Richard Parker: He didn’t see it, Nick! You know the rules!
Jonathan-Christopher blindsides Nate Colton as he tries to reenter the ring. He drags Colton back to his own corner, tagging in Darin Zion. Zion climbs to the top turnbuckle while Hall hooks Colton in a suplex position. JC hoists Colton up and over as Zion leaps and connects with a flying crossbody! Zion stays on top for the cover!
Nate kicks out!
Nick Stuart: What resilience by Nate Colton!
Zion complains about the count to Turnbull, the the official is having none of it. Darin turns back to Nate, who is pulling himself back up to his feet by the ropes. Nate turns around into a running knee to the gut. Zion still has Nate on the ropes and goes up and over, hooking on a tarantula hold!
Jimmy Turnbull doesn’t bother checking on Nate, he immediately begins his five count.
Zion releases the hold just in time, Nate collapsing into the ring while Darin hits the apron and rolls back in. Zion drags Nate back to his own corner, tagging in The Timid Tiger once again. The two shoot Nate into the ropes, joining hands and attempting a double clothesline, but Colton ducks under, hitting the opposite ropes. Colton rushes back into the fray and mows down both members of 2become1!
All three men are down in the ring and Brandon Youngblood is nearly beside himself on the apron!
Nick Stuart: Go for it, Nate!
Colton begins to crawl to his corner, reaching for his partner.
Zion and Hall both start to shake out the cobwebs.
Nate is inches away!
Youngblood’s hand is outstretched!
Zion and Hall look to one another for a moment and dive forward to stop Nate!
But too late!
Nate makes the tag!
The crowd nearly blows the roof off the arena as Brandon Youngblood barrels into the ring. Zion pops to his feet and gets quickly snatched up into a lightning quick belly to belly suplex! Jonathan-Christopher rushes in, but he’s stopped dead in his tracks by a Brandon Youngblood special! The sound of the knife edge chop connecting with Hall’s chest is like a gunshot, sending the Timid Tiger to the canvas!
Youngblood snags Zion again, this time short-arming him and hoisting him up before nearly driving him THROUGH the mat with a nasty spinebuster! The Anger Golem isn’t done yet, though!
Nick Stuart: Brandon Youngblood is a house of fire!
Richard Parker: Someone’s about to get hurt, Nick.
Zion rolls to the outside to recover while Youngblood stalks a still recovering Jonathan-Christopher Hall. Hall turns to come face to face with a seething Suplex Daddy. He backs away, holding up his hands. Hall turns and quickly tags in Zion, who looks nonplussed! Youngblood ignores the tag and drops Hall with a stiff elbow before turning and launching Zion back into the ring!
He Irish whips Zion into the far ropes, but Zion hangs on and bails from the ring! Youngblood wastes no time and follows Real Love outside, chasing him around the outside, Zion is a hair faster, sliding back in first. As Youngblood follows him in, Zion drops a quick elbow to the back of Brandon’s head!
Richard Parker: Smart move!
Nick Stuart: Was it, though?
Youngblood still gets to his feet, absolutely seething. Meanwhile, on the apron, Jonathan-Christopher seems to be having some trouble with his ring gear as he fiddles with his boot.
Youngblood advances on Zion, but Darin reaches up and blatantly gouges the eyes of the Ace of PRIME! Jimmy Turnbull is immediately on his case admonishing him!
Nick Stuart: What a dirty- hey!
The Timid Tiger has removed a pair of brass knocks from his boot and slipped into the ring. He winds up big as Youngblood turns!
But Nate Colton is there! Colton has crossed the ring and clotheslines Hall out of the ring! Hall drops the knucks on the apron and Colton locks in the Colton Clutch on the outside! Jimmy Turnbull turns his attention to Nate and Hall!
Meanwhile, Darin Zion has picked up the knucks and slid them on!
Nick Stuart: Oh no! Look out!
Zion swings for the fences, but Youngblood ducks under!
Nick Stuart: HALF-NELSON SUPLEX!
Richard Parker: Oh! Zion landed on his head!
Youngblood growls as he covers Zion and Turnbull turns to see it!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: The winners of this match…the team of Brandon Youngblood and Nate Colton!
Nick Stuart: Colton and Youngblood get their own measure of revenge against The Love Convoy tonight. The momentum seems to be shifting to the side of the good guys.
Richard Parker: Bah. Anyone with half a brain knows that in the end, love will conquer all!
Events in the ring seem to be winding down, but there’s a sudden uptick in noise from the crowd.
Nick Stuart: There seems to be some commotion, let’s see what’s going on…
Nate Colton rolls out of the ring, trying to catch his breath for a moment before heading to the back. When suddenly…
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE IS HERE! FLAMBERGE came in out of nowhere and LEVELED Nate Colton with an elbow to the back of the head! Colton is down!
Richard Parker: That oughtta teach the goober to keep his head in the game.
Nick Stuart: The game’s already over, Rich! The match is done, and FLAMBERGE shouldn’t even be out here!
The Strasbourg Superstar takes a moment to taunt his rival–
FLAMBERGE: Tu es toujours the BIIIIIIIIIITCH!!
–before returning to his original purpose, which involves that involves a certain championship belt. He saunters toward the timekeeper’s table, where the Five Star Title sits. He grins widely as he approaches and grabs one end; the prize he rightfully won is now in his grasp.
Funny thing, though. No matter how much he wants to leave with that belt, he can’t quite manage to do so. That might have something to do with the big meaty paw grabbing the other end of the belt.
Nick Stuart: Youngblood’s got the other end! FLAMBERGE tried to sneak off with the title, but Brandon isn’t about to let that happen!
Richard Parker: How can he sneak off with it? He’s the champion! That’s HIS belt!
Nick Stuart: …all right, you got me on that one.
A brief tug of war ensues, as each man tries to pull the belt out of the other man’s grasp.
FLAMBERGE: Donne le moi! C’est à moi!
Brandon Youngblood: Screw you, shitheel! You want it so bad, take it from me!
Once again, we are at an impasse. One that, once again, can only be resolved by the sudden appearance of a Goat Bastard.
Nick Stuart: REZIN! REZIN is coming through the crowd, and…
Richard Parker: That punk is STILL knocked out?!
Nick Stuart: Still out after FLAMBERGE’s Marie Antoinette earlier in the night, but somehow the cart has made it’s way out here and now–LOOK OUT!!
In the time it took Nick Stuart to yell all of that, Rezin, still conked out in his shopping cart, rolls out of control along an aisle through the crowd, eventually crashing into the barricade and sending him flying out over the guard rail. His flight takes out Youngblood and FLAMBERGE, sending all three men and the title belt flying in different directions. FLAMBO falls back into the corner, Youngblood towards the ring. Rezin snaps awake in time to find himself skidding across the announcers table, knocking papers everywhere and spilling Richard’s drink.
Richard Parker: Gah! My iced tea!
Nick Stuart: That doesn’t smell like iced tea, Richard.
Richard Parker: You mind your own damn business!
Nick Stuart: It is chaos at ringside right now, fans! Everyone is down–but they’re right back up! All three men are getting into it now! It looks like we’ve got an extra fight on our hands tonight!
A wave of Enemigos pours down the ramp, because if there’s one thing PRIME security can’t abide, it’s unscheduled fun. They quickly separate the three wrestlers, much to the crowd’s chagrin.
LET THEM FIGHT! LET THEM FIGHT!
But the crowd doesn’t sign their paychecks; Lindsay Troy does. So the Enemigos keep all three of them away from each other–no easy task, to be sure.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE, Rezin, and Brandon Youngblood can’t wait to get at each other! They’re ready to fight for the Five–hey…where is it?
That’s a good question, Nick. Yes, the fate of the Five Star Title itself was briefly forgotten in all the kerfuffle, and we should probably find out what happened to it.
Here’s what happened. When Rezin collided with Youngblood and FLAMBERGE, both men let go of the belt simultaneously, sending it flying through the air…not far, because championship belts are not terrible aerodynamic, but enough to get it away from the chaos. It bounced a few times, then flopped to a stop near the ring. Right where Nate Colton happened to be standing back up.
He picks up the belt and stares at it, not bothering to look at the fight breaking out only a few yards away.
Nick Stuart: Colton’s got it! Nate Colton has the Five Star Title!
Any wrestler worth their salt will tell you how badly they want to win a championship. But they never really know what that kind of want feels like until they get close. To hold the belt in your hands. To hear the announcer shout your name. To hear the fans explode as you realize your dream.
Nate feels his fingers tighten on the faceplate, and the lust for championship gold burrows deeper into his heart. He wants so very badly to keep it, to clutch it to his chest, to wrap it around his waist.
But he can’t. It doesn’t belong to him.
Someday, maybe. But not yet.
The scuffle had died down by this point, and the Enemigos now stood between the other three men, rather than having to hold them back. With a heavy sigh, Colton approaches the group.
His eyes meet with Youngblood’s, who smiles broadly. The Tower of Babel holds out his hand, ready to accept the burden once more.
Richard Parker: No fair! FLAMBERGE is getting his title stolen again!
Nick Stuart: Since when have you ever cared about ‘fair?’
Richard Parker: Not at our regular poker games, that’s for damn sure.
Nick Stuart: What?
Richard Parker: What?
Nate lifts up the belt to hand it off, but starts to draw it back…as if the mere act of letting go will cause him physical pain. But he knows what he has to do…and if he doesn’t do it now, he might not ever be able to.
With a sigh, he holds out his arm, and presents the Five Star Championship…
Nick Stuart: I don’t believe it! There is no love lost between these two, but Colton is still giving the title belt back to FLAMBERGE!
Richard Parker: Attaboy, Colton! Way to do the right thing!
FLAMBERGE is shocked at first, almost too shocked to actually accept. The shock quickly turns to disgust, then to glee as he snatches the belt out of Colton’s hand. Nate winces as this happens, as if the belt took a piece of him along with it.
Nick Stuart: Look at Youngblood! He is LIVID!
The Anger Golem is now earning his nickname, as he screams in Nate’s face.
Brandon Youngblood: Hell did you do that for?!
Nick Stuart: And now a HARD shove from Youngblood to Colton! These two were on the same side just a few minutes ago, but now THEY’RE ready to go at it!
Richard Parker: Serves you right, dummy! Nobody likes a boy scout!
Nick Stuart: ANOTHER shove from Youngblood…and Colton gives one right back! Now the Enemigos have to keep THEM separated…fans, we’ve got to take a break so this can get resolved. Let’s get a word from our sponsors.
COMMERCIAL: HIGH OCTANE WRESTLING
THE GAMBLER’S FALLACY
The adrenaline has finally worked its way out of his system, and now Jared Sykes – the blueberry king – sits on a chair in a small conference room backstage. His head low, his hands shaking, refusing to make eye contact with any of the four people gathered around him.
A few feet away paces his partner, Justine Calvin, trying to shake a knot out of her right hand. It was her punch that started the dominoes falling, but what happened after that was something that she would have never predicted. And if not for the intervention of Joe Fontaine, Sid Phillips, and Coral Avalon, she might find herself in a very different situation, likely giving a statement to a man in uniform about why Paxton Ray is no longer breathing.
King Blueberry: Can one of you just say something and get it over with? The silence is killing me.
Joe Fontaine: Bro, I don’t even know where to begin with you.
Coral Avalon: Joe.
Joe Fontaine: What?
Coral Avalon: Give us a sec. We’ll call this berry business.
Joe rolls his eyes, looking like he wants to say something about so-called “berry business”, but he relents when Sid grabs him by the sleeve of his suit and pulls him away. Once the Winds of Change are out of sight, or at least off-screen, Coral sighs.
Coral Avalon: Sorry, I felt we had to step in before that escalated to an actual, real-world homicide.
King Blueberry: It would have never got that far.
He keeps his eyes trained on the floor.
Justine Calvin: Bullshit it wouldn’t! When you finally settle down, then you need to watch back what happened, so that you can see… I don’t know… whoever it is under that mask right now come damn close to taking someone out permanently. I’ll be forever grateful that you guys stepped in, Coral, but Joe’s right. I don’t even know where to begin.
Jared peels his eyes off the ground and looks up at his partner. Ever since the night they ascended at the Great American Nightmare there have been cracks forming in his armor, battle scars in his mask coming in the form of rips and tears. His expression – what elements of it that Justine can see – is almost pleading, begging her to believe him.
King Blueberry: Justine, it would have never got that far.
She shakes her head, looking away.
Coral slides his palm across his face, looking up at the ceiling, uncertain. It takes him a few seconds for him to level his gaze at the king of blueberries again.
Coral Avalon: Jared, I’m not even sure you believe yourself when you say that. You wouldn’t have stopped until that man was in a grave.
Here lies Paxton Ray. “He’s your problem, now, Hell.”
Coral Avalon: To me, it’s not a question of “never going that far”. We’ve been well past “too far” since UltraViolence. But I don’t want you to go so far that we can’t get you back.
Justine Calvin: You keep crossing this line and nobody’s going to be knocking on your door in ten years.
Her face flushes red as a wave of regret hits. Sometimes the buttons are too easy to push, no matter how much you know you shouldn’t. She glances at Jared just long enough to see his own eyes burning back in her direction, but this isn’t a conversation for the masses to hear.
King Blueberry: Every fuckin’ time.
He presses his palms into his eyes before turning his attention back to Coral.
King Blueberry: Terrence Kingsley. Knowing how things would play out, what would you do if you could go back twelve or thirteen years? What would you do if someone tried to take him out of the game? What are those years of your life worth? What do you think they’d be worth to the people who didn’t make it back?
Coral hesitates, taken aback. Once upon a time, he’d found himself free-falling in piledriver form from ring apron to concrete, thanks to the aforementioned Kingsley. A man who, Coral would admit, came within a hair’s breadth of putting him in a wheelchair just like Paxton did to Rhine.
Coral Avalon: It’s… it’s not like I hadn’t thought about it.
He looks away for a few moments, considering his words, and then turns back to Jared.
Coral Avalon: But, you know, I can’t change the past, and wouldn’t even know where to begin if I could. There’s no such thing as time travel for the likes of us. And I’m much more concerned about the present, about this friend of mine who acts like he has no future.
King Blueberry: And what about Joe’s future? Sid’s? What about Ria or Hayes? Colton? Timo’s kid? Do they all have to worry about whether or not everything they worked for suddenly comes to an end at the hand of that psychopath Paxton? He’s here again, and that’s partially my fault.
He once again locks eyes with Justine.
King Blueberry: I know that. I own that.
And once again refocuses his attention on Avalon.
King Blueberry: I couldn’t stop Kingsley then, Coral. I thought I could, but it was… it was just words. My own devil kept him just out of reach. And people got hurt because of it. Everyone, everyone that I cared about paid a price. We can hide it all we want, we can pretend that we’re past it, but some of this shit just does… not… heal. I will trade my future every goddamn day if it means that doesn’t happen to anyone else. Mine for theirs. For hers.
He offers a weak shrug.
King Blueberry: Seems fair to me.
Coral Avalon: Slippery slope. Can’t believe I have to say that for a second show in a row. What kind of example would you set for those kids if you decided to enact frontier justice? Do you want to become a Paxton Ray for someone else?
King Blueberry: Coral, I don’t want to do any of this, but these are the cards I keep getting dealt. And you and I have been in Vegas long enough to know that you either play your hand or fold.
Coral Avalon: You know what they say about the house, in that case.
He shakes his head and turns pleadingly to Justine. As though he’s apologizing for what she’s had to deal with day-to-day.
Coral Avalon: Jared, I know you’re going to fight this fight no matter what anyone tells you. I know that what Paxton did was inexcusable, and he deserves triple of what’s coming. All the same, I’d prefer it if you were able to walk away afterwards without having to post bail. And, preferably – and hear me out on this one, I know it’s crazy – but maybe fight him while there’s a man in a striped shirt present.
King Blueberry: You’re not wrong. Neither of you are wrong. I know that, despite how it looks – and I know it looks crazy, but…
Justine Calvin: But you’re going to do it anyway. Fight him, I mean.
King Blueberry: Yeah. I am.
Justine Calvin: And there’s nothing we can say to make you change your mind on this.
King Blueberry: I’m sorry.
She finds a nearby chair and all but collapses into it, looking utterly defeated.
Justine Calvin: Then… then can you at least listen to Coral? Can you promise no more of this vigilante shit? He’s right. Don’t be them.
He looks to each of them in turn, first locking eyes with Avalon.
King Blueberry: I give you both my word.
And then with her.
King Blueberry: For whatever that’s worth.
LIKE RIDIN’ A BIKE
A pair of sharp blue eyes peek behind the curtain in Argyle position, scanning a rumbling MGM crowd, wide eyed.
Stepping away from the curtain, Wade Elliott puts his hands behind his head and paces nervously. An odd image for the usually gruff ‘Bama Bruiser.
Wade Elliott: (Whispering to himself) C’mon you old sum’bitch…you can do this…like ridin’ a bike…
Wade’s whispers keep him from hearing faint steps approaching behind him. Enter the Lady of the Hour, hands behind her back and smirking at the nervous Southern Sparkplug. She’s had quite the busy night so far, but despite the distractions and high-running tensions, she looks rather relaxed.
Besides, she wouldn’t miss seeing Wade off for anything.
Lindsay Troy: You look like you’ve got the first day of school jitters, Drifter.
Wade jerks his head to see Troy, relaxing a touch and taking a deep breath in.
Wade Elliott: Fuckin’ all wound up. It weren’t never like this back in the day. Shouldn’t feel no diff’rent.
He turns his frame to the Queen, looking for answers.
Wade Elliott: Why’s it feel so damn different?
Lindsay shrugs, and her smirk morphs into a gentle smile.
Lindsay Troy: Maybe because you thought you were done with it all. But if I didn’t think you could still go, I wouldn’t have dropped your name on that list.
Elliott turns back to the curtain.
Wade Elliott: Just feels like somethin’s missin’.
Lindsay Troy: I might have the thing that’ll put your mind at ease.
She brings her hands around; clutched there is Wade’s dusty brown drifter’s hat.
Wade Elliott: Well…shit…
He reaches out for it, looking it over in his hands like a long lost friend. The wide brim, tassels, all the dust and dirt from so many years.
Lindsay Troy: That old hat’s been through a lot. I hope you didn’t think I got rid of it.
She takes it back and places it on his head.
Lindsay Troy: Just like it never left.
He smiles at her, and adjusts it on his head.
Wade Elliott: Big Damn Heroes?
Lindsay Troy: Ain’t we just.
He flashes her one last grin through that gray beard, and disappears through the curtain.
DUSK VS. WADE ELLIOTT
Vince Howard: The following contest is our MAAAAAIN EVENT OF THE EVENING and is scheduled for one fall with a thirty minute time limit!
Without much more to do, we are getting this bad boy underway.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring from Los Angeles, California and weighing in tonight at two-hundred and twenty-five pounds…DUUUUUUUUUUUSK!!!!
The lights dim, there is a long pause. Just as the crowd grows restless, fireworks explode all around the MGM-Grand Arena and “Death Grip” by Watt White engulfs the arena in sound.
And I’m fire
From the backstage area emerges “The Lost Soul” Dusk, who looks ready for a fight. He stands at the top of the ramp and looks out at the fans, many of whom are on their feet and chanting his name.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Nick Stuart: The last stanza of Dusk’s career, his list of opponents, and this time, he faces someone from the old guard who hasn’t been active in the ring in the ReVival Era.
Richard Parker: Metamucil time!
Nick Stuart: Dusk chose Wade Elliott for this battle. Once before, they fought for the Intense Championship, with Dusk coming out on top. Will we have a repeat? Or will The Bad Dog avenge that prior loss?
The Lost Soul makes his way down the ramp, extending his arms and high-fiving the fans along the aisle.
As “Death Grip” trails off, it’s replaced by the steady strum of a guitar that could only belong to Johnny Cash. A curious start to most in the crowd, but older fans may harken back to ReVolution 184. Regardless, “A Boy Named Sue” by the Man in Black carries on over the already rumbling crowd.
Well my daddy left home, when I was three,
didn’t leave much, to Ma an’ me.
Just this old guitar and an’ empty bottle of booze.
The lyrics scroll in white on the PRIME*View, and the MGM Arena starts singing along.
Now I don’t blame him ‘cause he run an’ hid,
But the meanest thing that he ever did,
Was before he left, he went an’ named me –
And then, shit gets LOUD. Johnny’s strums are replaced by a distorted guitar with a southern twang, followed by a steady beat of the drums. The entrance strobes as “Step Up (I’m On It) by Maylene and the Sons of Disaster wails away. The PRIME*View rolls that footage. A charging pick-up. Vicious dogs snapping at the camera. Tipped over whiskey bottles. All mixed with a montage of ass-whippin’ before the music slows.
Too long, and too little,
Tell me when you gonna bring it on.
Small fights, and big stages,
Never terrified enough to run.
Vince Howard: And his opponent!! From Pine Ridge, Alabama!!
A big frame in a wide-brimmed drifter’s hat hides in the strobe lights, that hat tilted down a touch.
Vince Howard: Standing six feet! Four inches tall! Weighing in at two-hundred and fifty-four pounds!
The smoke starts settling, the lights start trailing.
Vince Howard: A former PRIME Intense Champion!!
The chorus hits, and the Son of a Bitch himself strolls out to the top of the ramp, one fist in the air, and a grin on his face he just can’t shake.
Vince Howard: THE BAD DOG!!!!! WADE!!! ELLLIOTTTT!!!!!
The Blue Collar Brawler takes it in for a moment before making his way to the ring, the MGM Garden Arena going absolutely ape-shit for Wade’s return to the ring. Dusk waits with a smile inside the ropes.
Nick Stuart: Partner, I had a feeling we’d see Ol’ Wade get into a tussle or two for PRIME’s return, but I can honestly say I never expected to see the ‘Bama Bruiser in a match in this ReVival era!
Richard Parker: Old habits die hard, Nick!
Nick Stuart: At ReVival 18, Elliott agreed to Dusk’s request for a match in this farewell. Those who watched the ReVolution Era may remember an Intense Title match between these two, where a red hot Wade Elliott fell to the Lost Soul in what many called an enormous upset. And tonight, while no bad blood remains between these two, you have to think Wade would like to settle the score.
Richard Parker: Let’s hope nobody breaks a hip, first and foremost.
Meanwhile, Wade gives Dusk a friendly point of the finger before climbing the turnbuckle. The music rises, and Wade removes his hat, holding it high in the air as the chorus hits heavy.
ALLLL LINED UP AND BUILT FOR PRESSURE!
(STEP UP! I’M ON IT!)
SAAYY YOUR PEACE LIKE IT’S THE END!!
(STAND BACK! WE’RE MOVIN’!!)
The crowd? Bellowing. The roof? Shaking. The opponent? Ready.
Let’s do it old school.
Nick Stuart: The Lost Soul and The Bad Dog! All these years later! Soak it in, PRIMEates
Wade hops down, and immediately removes his shirt. Those paying attention will notice that on his left pec, where two Confederate flags once waved, is now the image of Wade’s dog, Angus the Bluetick Hound, the original Pup of PRIME, and one that Bucky would approve of. The light show ends, the music trails off, and Wade hands his hat off ringside.
Once back in the ring, head official Timo Bolamba calls for the bell.
Nick Stuart: And here we go.
Richard Parker: This match is sponsored by The Old Country Buffet.
Nick Stuart: I can’t believe you here…
Richard Parker: Let’s make sure they get applesauce and lots of bland oatmeal. Nothing spicy. Old people’s bowels don’t react well to cayenne or chili.
All jokes aside from Richard Parker, Dusk and Wade Elliott stand across the ring from each other, staring toward the other, a slight smirk spreading across both their faces. 2008 is a long time. A variable lifetime ago for both of them. And yet…as they draw closer and closer to one another, that sense of the old fight feels all too familiar. Elliott is in his fighting stance, which isn’t at all scientific, but rather influenced by a lifetime of brawling and bar room battles. Dusk, meanwhile, giving up near thirty pounds, is looking ready to grapple. He goes for a collar and elbow tie up, with Wade doing nothing to avoid it.
Nick Stuart: There two locking horns…
Richard Parker: Must be for the last bit of prune juice…
The ‘Bama Bruiser quickly starts exerting his strength, backing Dusk toward the ropes as the two aggressively jostle in their tie up. However, with a surprisingly quick burst of movement, that bullishness is used against Wade, as Dusk snaps him over with a deep armdrag. Back to his feet, Dusk looks at the downed Elliott, who starts wringing his arm, hand flexing from fist to open. The smirk on his face becomes a smile, then a nod.
Richard Parker: I mean, all my jokes aside, and I know they’re absolutely terrible, but Wade Elliott hasn’t actively wrestled in a PRIME ring since the end of the Revolution Era. He’s a fixture of our security staff now, and yeah, he’s an imposing force…
Nick Stuart: Many men in their early fifties would pay to be anywhere near Wade’s condition.
Richard Parker: But that right there? That armdrag? You see how effortlessly Dusk was able to hit it? How natural it was? He’s not on the outside of the gate…he’s still IN the game. His ring legs aren’t muscle memory.
Wade rises from the canvas, this time being the aggressor of a collar and elbow, but just as quickly as he locks up, Dusk once again hits him with another armdrag. Quick. A puff of smoke. The Bad Dog sits up from the canvas. There’s no smirk this time. No smile. He looks to Dusk, who beckons for him to get up.
Nick Stuart: There is something to be said about activity. Then again, all we need to do is look at UltraViolence. Ivan Stanislav came back from well over a decade out of the ring, and at a much older age than Wade Elliott, and he looked like an absolute force.
Richard Parker: Ivan is also a mountain of a man. Someone of mythological stature in the sport of professional wrestling. Wade’s a former Intense Champion. Jewel In The Crown Finalist. He lasted longer in the Dual Halo than anyone ever has. And in his time, he was one of the toughest competitors there was…
Another rise from the canvas. Wade’s feet are heavy as he drives forward, once again locking horns with Dusk. The once Lost Soul tries for another armdrag, but Elliott blocks it off. No matter. He just as easily uses the momentum shift and grabs hold for a neckbreaker, dropping the Drifter to the canvas with a sharp thud.
Nick Stuart: Running knee strike right off the neckbreaker!
Richard Parker: …but that time has past…
Nick Stuart: This is nothing like I think we were expecting. Not deep into this one, but Dusk is showing a level of ring generalship that has to have people questioning if he should be hanging his boots up in a few short weeks.
Richard Parker: He picked this match. There’s history there. And this is one of his last times out here in front of the fans. Wade Elliott? This is a fling. He goes back to putting on a security shirt and breaking up fights. Or not doing a good enough job stopping them…
Nick Stuart: You better hope he doesn’t play this back.
Richard Parker: Sue me. Hell, even before UltraViolence, our security has had their hands in too many cookie jars…and the MGM security team? Crack individuals. As in I think they’re all on crack.
Maintaining his attack, Dusk keeps on Wade, throwing a stiff kick to his spine. The Lost Soul, then grabs The Bad Dog by the head, lifting him up, and, with surprising ferocity, begins laying into him with a series of forearm smashes to his jaw, rocking the ‘Bama Bruiser back against the turnbuckle. Dusk lowers his head and grabs the ring ropes, driving his shoulder into his midsection, then again, then once more, driving the wind out of him.
Nick Stuart: Dusk the aggressor here early on.
Richard Parker: In a Wade Elliott match in the past, I’d say this might be foolish. But he needs to keep pressing. He has the advantage with ring legs, and as he’s driving that shoulder in his lungs? He’s got ring lungs too.
However, Elliott does his best to push Dusk away, and then throws a wild haymaker that connects and drops his opponent to the canvas. On the rebound, finally, Dusk is blasted with a shoulder block, and then another, all before Wade launches into the rising Dusk with a series of haymakers. Each one connects with a snap, starching the former PTC Extreme Champion, only to then be slung across the ring with an irish whip. Elliott follows behind, nailing a clothesline into the opposite corner.
Nick Stuart: Oh what a clothesline by Elliott!
Richard Parker: You can never count a brawler out.
Floored, Dusk gets a belly full of stomps, the Drifter grabbing the top rope as he does so. He continues, driving his chest into the mat with a series of boots. Head official Timo Bolamba starts a five count, and even though he wants to continue the fight, Wade backs off before five, taking a few steps back, motioning for Dusk to get back to his feet.
Richard Parker: Stopping just short of walking that mudhole dry.
Nick Stuart: This isn’t pretty, but then again, Wade Elliott was never a ring technician like Dusk was. He got by on his guts and his bar room brawling skills.
Dusk, a bit staggered from the onslaught, reaches for the ropes and pulls himself up. Once back to his feet, Dusk sees Elliott as he charges toward him, and in response, drops to the mat, reaching out with his legs, catching hold of a drop toe hold that slams Elliott face first into the bottom turnbuckle.
Nick Stuart: What turnabout!
Richard Parker: And that’s what awareness of the ring can do for you.
Wasting no time, Dusk drags Elliott back from the turnbuckle by the ankle before lifting his opponent up by his foot and driving his knee into the mat. Elliott yets out a yell (not of the rebel variety), clutching his leg, only for Dusk to grab at the knee and hit a heavy whip into the canvas.
Nick Stuart: Targeting the leg now.
Richard Parker: You know what they say about a one legged man in an ass kicking contest.
Dusk continues his targeting, pulling The Bad Dog’s leg straight before burying his elbow into the ‘Bama Bruiser’s thigh muscle. Wade tries to roll out of it, but Dusk is on him like a python, maintain a hold, rolling over with him, spinning around and wrenching back with a single leg crab.
Nick Stuart: Smart strategy being exhibited by Dusk. That isolation of the knee could be a game changer.
Frustration etches across Wade Elliott’s face as he reaches for a rope, not quite able to reach it. For his part, Dusk sits down, wrenching back further, and wrenches back even harder, smoke billowing from his ears as he yanks back with all his strength. If Wade wasn’t going to submit, he was damn sure going to make sure Elliott was down one of his mudhole stomping knees, especially after what he had felt earlier.
The thing about Wade Elliott, though, is that while he’s been away from the ring, his fighting spirit has never wavered. He drags himself toward the rope, inching closer, fingers almost reaching it. Dusk senses how close he’s gotten. He stands up, throwing Wade’s leg hard against the canvas with another whip, and then grabs hold of the leg again, attempting to drag him back to the center of the ring. However, knowing he might be in big trouble if this happens, Wade wildly kicks and uses his legs to push Dusk away with all his force.
Richard Parker: We got a stubborn mule here!
Dusk tries to smother Elliott, but he gets an elbow to the jaw for his troubles, hitting with such ferocity that it drops him to the canvas. Wade hangs against the rope, favoring his leg, trying to shake what he’s feeling. Rising up, Dusk goes again, trying to take the fight to Elliott, and as he does, he’s surprised as Wade lowers a shoulder, lifting him up and sending him over the top rope.
Nick Stuart: Dusk sent to the floor…wait…
Dusk doesn’t go to the floor, however. He managed to hold onto the rope as he was slung over, rising to his feet on the apron. Wade turns around, but is caught off guard when Dusk reaches up and grabs the back of his head, dropping off the apron and snapping his neck across the top rope. Elliott staggers backwards, clutching his throat as the Lost Soul rolls back into the ring. His blind charge comes to a near dead stop, all as Wade throws a wild clothesline, but he ducks, and then hits a running knee strike to his stomach, sending Elliott stumbling back to the corner.
Nick Stuart: This is…again…not pretty. An economy of physical offense utilized by the former Intense Champion.
Richard Parker: Not pretty, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s smart. Calculating. Legal.
Dusk charges, but when he arrives, all he meets is turnbuckle. The ultimate Halo survivor side stepped out of the way. The Bad Dog then grabs Dusk by the arm, blasting him with a clothesline that nearly takes his head off. Instinct is the only reason Dusk can stand, and as he does, he’s blasted with a big boot to the chest.
Nick Stuart: OH! Trademark Bad Dog there!
Richard Parker: Not much you can do when you get blasted by the sole of a Wolverine!
Dusk struggles to his feet, but Elliott is quick to follow. An errant punch from Dusk connects, and the favor is returned, then another, and another, and another, all before grabbing him and whipping him across the ring with an irish whip, nearly taking Dusk out of his boots with a HEEEEEAVY spear.
The Blue Collar Brawler keeps up, grabbing hold of the top ropes, raining down more mudhole stomps to Dusk’s stomach. After the onslaught, Wade forces Dusk to the canvas, hooking the near leg.
Wade isn’t stopping, not ceding control, and brings Dusk to his feet, keeping tight and blasting him with heavy forearms to the former PTC Extreme Champion’s back. After a good five blows, Wade hoists Dusk up across his shoulders–it’s Roughneck time!
Just as Elliott throws Dusk onto his shoulders, he deadweights, grabbing a front facelock, and plants a DDT. As if sprung from the DDT, Wade stands, only to get blasted in the jaw with a patented Dusk superkick!
Wade falls down.
After the kickout, Dusk stands, waiting for Wade to get up as well. Eyes locked on him, he readies himself, about to land another superkick.
Nick Stuart: Could this be it? Could this be it?
Richard Parker: He’s loading up!
Elliott struggles to get up, punching at his weakened leg, his jaw sore as Hell, seemingly unaware. Once to his feet, the loaded up Dusk is ready to uncork another superkick, but before he can launch, Wade blasts him in the chest with a powerful boot to the chest that absolutely levels him.
Richard Parker: Another heavy boot! That one was devastating!
Dusk nearly collapses back to the canvas as he tries to rise. Wade is huffing and puffing. Narrow eyes. He knows the longer this goes, the more his wind and his legs will give out. Instinct takes over. Dusk tries to catch Wade with another superkick by surprise, but all he manages to do is put himself in great position for Wade Elliott to grab hold of him and absolutely spinebuster the hell out of him.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: And Dusk kicks out JUST after the three! Wow! What a battle between these two PRIME stalwarts!
Richard Parker: All those old jokes from the beginning, scratch that. These two can still fight, and everything being fair, that’s awesome to see.
Vince Howard: Your winner…by pinfall…WAAAAAAAAAAAAAADE! ELLIOOOOOOOOOTT!
The match settled, Wade Elliott stands up, hands on his haunches, drawing in as much air as he can. Dusk staggers to his feet, using the ropes for leverage. He shakes his head, and obviously feels a little disappointment in the result, but before he can linger on these feelings too long, Wade is in front of him, hand out.
There’s no thinking about this.
Two of PRIME’s past Intense Champions shake hands, all as the fans in the MGM Grand Garden Arena cheer. And after a few moments? The pair embrace in a hug.
A toast to the old world.
A SPECIAL REFEREE
The curtain closes on yet another spectacular edition of ReVival.
The stands are starting to empty. Catering is all but done. Most of Hayes Hanlon’s merchandise remains on store shelves. The announce team has cleared out, and instead of the MGM Grand fading to black…
…the feed switches to COOLYMPUS, aka Jiles’ skybox/lair/cell. There, sitting with his full entourage in tow, sans Timo, is none other than the man himself, PRIME UNIVERSAL CHAMPION, Cancer Jiles. His hair radiates gold power. His T-shades make him look like he’s ready to weld an aircraft carrier back together. His tracksuit, electric blue PRIMEate with the cream Adidas stripes, is actually pretty cool.
Cancer Jiles: Yawn. I don’t even know who those two guys were.
Lindsay Troy: One guy worked security up until tonight, and you wrestled the other one a few months back.
Cancer Jiles: Oh. I did? Did I win?
The Champ snickers.
Lady Troy rolls her eyes.
Cancer Jiles: So what brings you back up to the garden, my Queen? Dare I say you’ve made a decision regarding the TIMO matter? Are you going to grant me my request and stand beside me at… COLOSSUS?
Lindsay Troy: Well, I did give it some thought and yes, I decided Timo won’t be reffing your Colossus match against Hayes.
The Maestro smiles wide. He can taste victory already.
Lindsay Troy: However, I won’t be the one taking his place.
Cancer Jiles: Bobby? Dooze? Zeb? Cardboard Dan?
The Queen of the Ring gladly shakes her head no to each of his suggestions.
Lindsay Troy: As much as it would tickle me to see the charred remains of Cardboard Dan wear a referee shirt, or even hear RICK count to three in French, it won’t be any of your Bandit brethren.
She stands and turns to face him, unable to hide her glee.
Lindsay Troy: It’ll be Nova.
He-Man does his best not to break from his steadfast COOLYMPIAN reserve, but an audible groan is heard. The Queen pats his cheek and saunters out of the skybox. She’s almost completely out the door when she throws one more comment over her shoulder.
Lindsay Troy: Good luck, champ.
The door to COOLYMPUS closes behind PRIME’s Queen. As she smugly walks, away an ominous cackle suddenly booms from within the skybox. The unnerving sound runs down her spine and stops her dead in her tracks.
Did she just get one over on her Champion?
Cancer Jiles: Checkmate.
Or does John Doe have the upperhand?