UNHOLY CYBER ARMY VS. SAIGO
(RE)BUILDING AN EMPIRE
We see a focused Judy Punchinello walking through the halls of State Farm Arena – so focused that she completely misses the figure walking opposite her until the two collide – their shoulders crashing into one-another.
Judy Punchinello: Hey, watch you’re fuckin-
Judy’s mouth closes quickly as she sees the figure of Joshua Breedlove composing himself and running his hand back through his hair as he does.
Joshua Breedlove: Oh my… Judy. I must apologize for my clumsiness.
The words exit Breedlove’s mouth like a hiss, but somehow without malice. Judy just stands there not sure how to react. Breedlove interjects to cut the tension.
Joshua Breedlove: I hope you’ve had the chance to consider my offer… you know… joining the New Breedlove Empire.
Judy closes her eyes and runs a hand through her hair, almost mocking Breedlove.
Judy Punchinello: Oh… I’ve been considering it;, sure. I suppose I am still trying to understand what’s in the offer for me? Seems to be you’re on the rebound – losing to fuckin’ Laura Seton? Shit man…
Judy shakes her head.
Judy Punchinello: I’ll admit after getting the assist from El Paria and then us having some … conversations as of late. I REALLY considered what it would mean for me to be a part of a group again, let alone the Holy Breedlove Empire….
Judy lets the name hang in the air as Joshua Breedlove steps back and assesses his quarry’s tone and demeanor.
Judy Punchinello: And now I’m beginning to wonder… why shouldn’t YOU be asking to join ME as we take down the nepotistic, anacronistic bulllshit here in SHOOT? Seems that YOU need help right now a lot more than I do…
Breedlove is not impressed.
Joshua Breedlove: I may have severely misjudged you. I think it’s interesting that a previously consistent tag team loser, Punchy? Punky? I don’t remember what it was… lives atop some kind of high horse despite only having very recent success. Glass houses and whatnot, you know?
Joshua Breedlove: The Empire and I are a pillar in the professional wrestling industry. We teem with success on a consistent basis. If you don’t see the value in that, and you don’t see how your career has taken an upswing just through the idea of being associated with me then maybe you should call Bridgette or Bella or whatever the other one’s name was, and see if you can settle up.
He smirks and begins to walk away.
Joshua Breedlove: All I can do is see talent, utilize talent, and foster talent. I can’t help if that talent is stupid and misguided.
A light flickers in Judy’s eyes.
Judy Punchinello: Oh please, someone like you knows my pedigree probably better than I do. Your acting flippant only confirms my suspicions. Whether it’s the Holy Breedlove Empire or the Holy Roman Empire – that shit may not have been built in a day, but it doesn’t take much for it to burn to the ground and join the ash heap of history .
Breedlove keeps walking.
Judy Punchinello: How about a counter offer, Josh. Hmm?
Breedlove stops and turns, looking at the Rule of Surrender Champion.
Joshua Breedlove: I’m listening. Barely.
Judy Punchinello: I know you’re in need of a champion as you rebuild your team, and even YOU aren’t as charismatic to sway Buck Dresden, Lexi Gold, or Jamie Johnson to your side. And me? I’m DONE being seen as someone’s “partner” or even worse… someone’s “stable member” … Yes, you fuckin’ know how to get shit done here in SHOOT, I’ll grant that; but I’ve also seen folks in your orbit crash and burn so badly they never recover. You may think you’re going out on a limb inviting me into the Empire, but I’d be taking just as much of a risk if I join.
Breedlove looks to Judy.
Judy Punchinello: So here’s my offer: I’ll be a willing member of the Holy Breedlove Empire on two conditions: First… I’m your second in command. You need a night off? A liaison? Muscle to make things happen – I’m your bitch. Second… I get first right of refusal on being added to any Battalion matches featuring other Empire members.
Breedlove ponders for a moment and then smiles.
Joshua Breedlove: I can work with that.
Judy Punchinello: Then I can work with you.
Judy extends her arm outward to Breedlove who just looks at the gesture like it’s some sort of rotting food left on the table before raising his hand to his face in mock amusement and then returning the gesture with a smile on his face.
Joshua Breedlove: Now then… for the first order of business as a newly initiated member of the Empire; let’s discuss next steps, shall we? After all… we can’t exactly let Ms. Seton embarrass us, now can we?
Judy Punchinello: Already on it, chief. Trust me… you’re gonna LOVE what comes next.
WHERE’S THE GOD DAMN PROTEIN, MAH
The camera cuts back to the arena, where Scott Kamura and Dutch Harris sit behind the Ruination announce table.
Scott Kamura: Welcome back to ringside everyone! SHOOT Project Soldiers have been trickling into the Atlanta area for the last two weeks, but nobody has been more busy than one Soldier in particular. This man is no stranger to the camera, and was asked by one local business to be a part of their television promotions. You may have seen this particular TV ad before if you’re in the local area. I have, and I have to say, it’s a doozy! Without further ado, making its SHOOT Project and ACE Network debut…WHATEVER THIS IS!
The camera fades. The camera opens up on a grainy television advertisement. A bright, sunny day greets us. The camera pans down on a shopping center, and a door being open from inside one of the businesses. Walking out is Dan Stein, wearing a backwards 1974 Atlanta Braves hat and matching 1974 Hank Aaron Braves jersey. Dan waves at the camera as it closes in on him, walking out with a tub of powder in one hand and a Vitamin Shoppe branded protein shake in the other.
Dan Stein: Hi, I’m SHOOT Project Hall of Famer and former World Heavyweight Champion, Dan Stein. More than that, I’ve been featured on the cover of Men’s Fitness five times. As a known pro-wrestling “body guy”, I know a thing or two about working out. And when I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, there’s only one place I’ll go to pick up my protein powder! The Vitamin Shoppe, right here on Peachtree. Not that Peachtree…you know the one!
An audible laugh track plays over the commercial. How cringy. The address flashes up on the TV.
Dan Stein: With their friendly staff, high quality products, and low prices, The Vitamin Shoppe has my seal of approval. Come on down during business hours and tell them “The Lights” sent you for a cool twenty-percent discount off your entire order. And, if you make it in before close on Monday October 3rd, you can pick up tickets to SHOOT Project Revolution to watch me embarrass Chuck Gruntback-
“Chick Grillbreast” pops up on the TV.
Dan Stein: -in an Arm-Wrestling Contest down at the State Farm Arena, live! Speaking of which, I better get back to the gym.
Dan takes a drink from the shaker, then pulls it back, smacking his lips and holding up the label to the camera.
Dan Stein: That’s The Vitamin Shoppe, 3261 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, Georgia! Lights…out!
Dan superkicks the camera lens, causing the commercial to go black. We cut back to Scott Kamura and Dutch Harris in the arena. Dutch is hiding behind his hands, stifling a laugh.
Dutch Harris: What…was…that?!
Scott Kamura: What?! I didn’t think it was bad for his first advertisement spot!
Dutch Harris: Scott, I think he just set acting back twenty years.
Scott Kamura: Well, at least he got to promote the Arm Wrestling match with Chick Grillbreast at Revolution 183! While my partner tries to compose himself, let’s welcome our next competitors to the Ruination ring!
Dutch again hides behind his hands, and the camera cuts to the ramp.
ZOOMER LOVE VS. THE PATRIOT ACT
Backstage, Luis de Leon glares across the locker room at Isaiah Galliard. Unbooked, but that just means you get to enjoy the travel, and the time to heal is honestly never not appreciated, but…there’s a level of anxiousness in them. Their recent defeat at the hands of Lux Aeterna put them at odds with one another. Neither of them willing to give an inch to the other. Their tension is cut by the arrival of a mighty shadow cast upon the floor between the two of them. He’s got broadness and brawn in a fashion that they’ll probably not achieve in their days, so that lands him an imposing cut–but he also has a reputation now, and that’s why they stiffen when he stops and crosses his arms. Luis instantly sneers, his chest filling up with air–but Nate holds up a hand and shakes his head.
Robideau: You can save the bon mots and the snide remarks–hold all of that bullshit until after the performance.
Both members of the team sour at this, going from cautious to hostile in a half a second–but they do listen. Regardless of their problems, the two of them have no one else to turn to and in the presence of this master of noble and wanton violence, they may need one another.
Robideau: I’m here to offer you something.
Nate pops his neck and begins a slow pace in front of them.
Robideau: It’s not lost on me that you’re not where raw talent of your caliber deserves to be. And I can see it in your eyes how much you don’t like hearing this from me. But I look at the two of you and it disgusts me how poorly you’ve been treated. You two are the future, and you should be treated as such. Seen as such. You should be given the respect that you deserve.
Those last words he punctates by jabbing his finger in their direction. Isaiah and Luis soften at this: clearly his hook has at least intrigued them.
Robideau: And before you raise it as a question? Yeah, this isn’t an act of altruism. I’m improving things, and that means cutting away weakness and adding strength. You’d be a crown jewel in my enterprise–but you’d also get the benefit of all of it behind you. Training, nutritionists, conditioning, everything. I don’t want you to rebrand or even rep the gym–my legal team is still hashing that out with management anyway. And trust me when I say, I’m not here to tell you how to get it done. I’m not offering to teach you how to take down Lux Aeterna or SAIGO or the Cyber Army. You two already know how to do that. I’m offering to elevate you to the next level so you can actually execute.
He reaches into his pocket and retrieves two business cards. He hands one to each man and nods his head.
Robideau: Whatever your quarrels, they’re meaningless. You know I’m telling you the truth. .
He adjusts his composure almost to the point of arrogance.
Robideau: Address is on the back. Either I see you or I don’t. But I hope I do.
With that he turns and walks off, more struts really, the new pep evident in his step. The camera lingers here as both members of the Carolina Lions look at one another–then they both look towards the hallway Nate walked down, their faces registering somewhere between annoyance and curiosity.
SO JUN LIM VS. BOSTON
HONE YOUR BLADES
Backstage, the hallways are always bustling with activity. Be it production assistants, road agents, sports doctors, catering, camera crews–dodging humanity is more the norm than not.
But wide berths are afforded for the talent, for a number of reasons.
The wide berth afforded Nate Robideau is something to behold. It’s doubtful that it has been offered out of respect, in full at least, but it’s given all the same. He looks so different from how we normally see him, his penchant for drab and unremarkable workout wear having been replaced with high top sneakers, jeans, and a track jacket with a logo on the chest that he’s covered up in gaffer’s tape. But despite the space benign given, he’s all smiles. Handshakes. Head nods. So when he passes Ria Lockheart, he gives the same.
That’s all it could be, they pass one another without incident–but Nate stops short and turns around.
Robideau: I never did get a chance to thank you.
Ria tilts her head slightly, as if trying to pull back a memory slipping from her fingers.
Ria: For what?
Robideau: Couple weeks back, I was taking it on the chin on Spitter. Right before I was…
As he walks forward, he looks at the camera with a wry smirk.
Robideau: …put in time out. Lots of folks who haven’t ever been put in the position I was were all of the sudden experts on how to conduct themselves, and they weren’t afraid to let me know in between telling me to go fuck myself. But there was one person who actually had my back, who wished me luck in setting up a new space for my school. That was you.
Ria shrugs. The slightest bit of discomfort is visible on her face.
Ria: Look… I don’t approve of the whole ‘put them all in a body bag and sort it out later’ attitude you’ve taken on… But you’ve been both respectful and kind to me in the past. People also tend to forget that OutKast initiated this. I do wish you’d pull it back a bit, though.
Nate leans against the wall in front of her, softly smiling to himself.
Robideau: James and me, that’s an old wound that probably won’t heal anytime soon. Look, it’s a rough world these days. I’m just trying to protect myself and what I’ve built. And honestly, Ria, playing defense all the time is just so damn exhausting. Figured it was my turn to remind this company at large that there are…consequences.
The discomfort on Lockhart’s face fades to disappointment as Nate speaks. She loosely hugs herself just above her hips.
Ria: I kinda get it. I dunno… I guess I just thought you were above that? Dangerous but disciplined. You never seemed to let that stuff bother you. Why now? What changed? Was it Jamie? The OutKast stuff? Or did you really just tire of it all? I just don’t think this is really you, Nate.
Now it’s Nate’s turn to look a little surprised.
Robideau: I was above it all when CK Butcher tried to ruin me. I was above it all when I tried to defend the title I’d won. I was above it all with everyone. Verde, James, Outkast, my own students, the boss…but the real truth of it is, is that also kept me apart from everything. And being apart from everything is safe, it really is. But it’ll leave you bitter and disappointed and alone, turns out. So this is really me, Ria. Just I decided to take off a filter that wasn’t doing me any damn good.
He claps her on the shoulder and stands up straight as if he’s about to leave, but stops himself.
Robideau: Everything I did wasn’t because I saw red or lost my cool. I’m a grown man. Those were acts of discipline. And if you ever need somewhere to hone your blades…
Reaching into his pocket, he hands her a card.
Robideau: You’ll always be welcome.
Ria examines the card as Robideau walks off. She looks in that direction, then back at the card. She walks opposite, drawing over to a garbage can. She holds the card over the can… but hesitates. After moments, she slowly pulls the card away. Ria stares at it again.
Ria: Hone my blades?…
Ria shakes her head mournfully. Yet, the card finds its way into her pocket…
ALL IN THE FAMILY
We cut to the ring with the playing of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” in the background. Laura Seton, in her red leather jacket, jeans and knee high black boots enters the ring.
Eryk Masters: A veteran by every definition, but seeing Laura Seton today, after her big win over Joshua Breedlove two weeks ago–her excitement is like that of a youngster.
Other Guy: One could say nerves tempered her pre-match excitement at Iron Will 2 but with no match tonight, I agree with you EM. This is as happy as I’ve seen her since she returned… and that’s saying something.
Laura gets a mic, her blonde ponytail swinging as she turns to acknowledge all sides of the fans.
Laura Seton: So it looks like I’m not quite out to dry, am I?
She holds a huge grin as the fans cheer.
Laura Seton: There’s a number of people here–some certainly more vocal than others–that think I’m at the end. Not just my last legs, mind you, but actually… at… the end. Some are fellow competitors, some wear suits, some… might even be right out here–
She motions towards the audience.
Laura Seton: … and if you’re one of them? Well, that’s okay. You can have your opinion, but I hope you note my past couple months. Two weeks ago we saw what happened. Over a month ago I earned my way into the Iron Will matches. Not just invited, mind you, but I earned it by winning. I went from someone maybe having a mid-life crisis to, “Yeah, she still belongs.” Which is why–
Eryk Masters: I was wondering how long it would take for Judy to show up, OG. She just CAN’T let Laura have anything.
Sure enough, a cocky-looking Judy Punchinello appears at the top of the rampway looking down at Laura Seton who just shakes her head in disbelief.
Her disbelief turns to anger as her sister, Madison Seton, appears from behind Judy and looks almost… disappointed.
Judy nods to Madison as the two slowly make their way down to the ring, which causes Laura to step back slightly.
Other Guy: Laura did exactly what she said she was going to do and took out the former World Champion and proved Judy wrong. There’s a HELL of a lot more fight in Laura Seton and she deserves to be in the world title discussion.
Eryk Masters: Judy Punchinello might take some umbrage with that view, OG. After all she pinned Breedlove at Iron Will and was the last one standing before getting taken out by Breedlove. What I don’t understand is why Laura’s sister has been at Judy’s side since Iron Will. We know Laura and Madison have a fractured relationship but this still makes little sense.
Hallelujah, I’m over you yeah
I buried you, oh Lord, you’re dead to me
Rest in peace…
The bridge of “Rest in Peace” by Dorothy fades out as Judy and Madison step into the ring. Judy hoists her Rule of Surrender title over her shoulder so Laura can get a good look at it as she uses her other hand to aimlessly wave around a microphone as she looks around at the crowd who have begun to rain down heat on the champion.
Judy Punchinello: Which is WHY, Laura. I wanted to come out here personally and congratulate you on a match well won. After all, I also know how exciting it is to take out a former world champion. After all, I did it three times at Iron Will.
The crowd seethes in anger.
Judy Punchinello: SHUT UP! You bloody Yankee shits.
This only gets the Atlanta crowd more violently aggressive while Laura Seton crosses her arms defiantly.
Laura Seton: Oh, stop the nonsense. Two weeks ago you wanted me to retire and now you’re acting like we’re supposed to be friends. I get Madison isn’t my biggest fan, but why she’s around you is beyond belief. You’re just a whiny bully and a sore loser.
The crowd roars, causing Judy to smirk, looking back over to Madison before adjusting her title.
Judy Punchinello: Loser. Riiiight. That’s funny, Laura… because I don’t see a title on YOUR shoulder. Seems like YOU’RE the sore one. Which, as I was saying, before being so rudely interrupted… is why I wanted to congratulate you and be the bigger person. It was actually Madison here who convinced me to come down here tonight.
Laura looks up at her sister who genuinely looks genuinely concerned.
Judy Punchinello: So, YES, Laura, I wanted to say congratulations that you were able to best Joshua Breedlove. But I ALSO wanted to say that doesn’t change the rationale for your needing to just… stop. Just… let this all go.
Laura rolls her eyes and begins to turn her back to Judy and Madison.
Judy Punchinello: What is your endgame, Laura? What are you doing this for? WHO are you doing this for? Because as far as I can see… your personal desires are getting in the way of you being able to take care of your family.
Laura whips her head violently over to Judy and then looks over to Madison who is trying to fight back tears it seems.
Judy Punchinello: Let’s just cut to the chase, Laura… you beat Breedlove to end your string of failures in the ring. Bully for you. But how likely do think it is you’ll experience that same miracle in the future? Hmm?
As Judy says the word “miracle” Laura’s mood shifts from annoyance to absolute rage.
Judy Punchinello: I mean-
Laura Seton: Shut your FUCKING mouth, Judy! You have NO idea what a miracle is!! It’s a miracle I had twins via IVF!! It’s a miracle I get to hug them every night!! It’s–a…
She seems to realize what just came out of her mouth as she looks down. Her rage seems to subside as the surprise sets in with the audience.
Other Guy: Laura Seton has kids??
Eryk Masters: That’s gotta be one of the best kept secrets in SHOOT, OG. A secret kept from everyone.
Laura sighs before looking back up at her sister. Madison stands arms crossed, a smirk on her face. Laura looks at Judy who also smirks, her own eyes slowly moving towards Madison, then slowly back to Laura. Laura seems to get the message. Seemingly ashamed of herself for revealing some of her private life, she speaks quietly.
Laura Seton: But you already knew that, didn’t you?
Judy steps forward, closer to Laura, as she extends an arm out and ,,, pulls in Laura for a hug! The crowd doesn’t know what to think as Madison, too, steps forward and wraps her arms around the pair.
Microphone pressed to her lips, Judy whispers softly.
Judy Punchinello: Now you see, Laura. Now you see why we’ve had to be so hard on you. So you could finally, FINALLY, see that above all else family comes first.
Eryk Masters: This is absolutely vile. Why… why… are you crying!?
Other Guy: It’s just… so nice to see roster members bonding together in times of crisis and-
Before Guy can even get the words out of his mouth, Laura Seton has snapped. Her arms are locked around Judy Punchinello’s neck as the Rule of Surrender champion’s face begins to turn red; her arms flailing.
Madison Seton is trying to pry her sister’s away from Judy to no avail as she is screaming for her to stop. Judy’s face begins to match the color of her hair as her eyes begin to flutter and she sags to the floor.
Laura’s eyes are wide as she is screaming something at Judy, not realizing her rival is already unconscious. The fans are on their feet – screaming along with Laura – as security rushes in from behind the barricades.
Eryk Masters: Jesus Christ! Laura Seton has been pushed over the edge, OG, and I am not sure exactly what it was Judy was hoping to accomplish by doing it, but the dam has figuratively burst here tonight.
Other Guy: Madison is pleading now with Laura as security is trying desperately to unlink the two fighters. Any longer and Judy may start to experience some lasting effects from the lack of oxygen to her brain, here, Eryk. This is a serious situation!
Finally, something Madison says connects with Laura, whose eyes lock with her sister and as quickly as the switch was flipped, Laura throws her hands up and lets Judy collapse like a sack of bricks to the mat. Medical staff slide in immediately to check on the champion’s vital signs as security bunches up around Laura to create distance between her and Madison.
Laura’s gaze is focused entirely on Madison now – Laura shaking her head in disgust before she is finally pulled away by security and led out of the ring to the roar of an approving crowd.
EL PARIA VS. JAMIE JOHNSON (C)
The crowd is booing LOUDLY, as Jamie Johnson stares towards the ramp, ignoring the championship being put around his waist and ignoring his hand being raised. He ignores Samantha Coil calling him the winner and ignores his music playing. He just keeps staring, but not long after… he’s greeted by El Paria walking back out to the ramp, microphone in hand.
Scott Kamura: What could this guy POSSIBLY have to say now?
Dutch Harris: Hard to say, since he got the opportunity he’s been craving and just… threw it away.
Jamie’s music fades away and the boos continue, so El Paria does what any jerk with a microphone would do in this situation and begins loudly tapping his hand on the mic, causing an audible and annoying pop.
El Paria: Shut the fuck up, all of you. This match? This “opportunity?” This was a fucking joke, and I treated it like the joke it was. You think YOU can dictate the terms of our encounter? Fuck that.
Paria begins pacing across the top of the ramp as Jamie stands, unmoving, in the middle of the ring.
El Paria: You think you can just do whatever you want. Dictate to whoever you want. Make whatever match you want, but nah. Nah man. It’s not going to go down like that. You see, I’ve had enough. Had enough of your bullshit, your holier-than-thou attitude, and your entitlement to… everything you’ve ever gotten in your life. Opportunities. Championships. Everything. So when we meet again? It’s going to be on my terms, Jamie, and it’s going to be a fight for the ages, and I’m going to educate you on what it means to actually have to put in hard work and scrape by for everything you get, because that’s what I’ve had to do, Jamjam. I’ve had to claw and scratch.
Jamie’s making the motion with his hands that is synonymous with saying “blah blah blah” and he taps the title, reminding Paria who the champion is.
El Paria: Yeah, fuck that. Watch your back, James. I’m just going to keep coming, keep fucking your day up, and then I’m going to claim this match and that title whenever I damn well feel like it, because when it comes to this game?
El Paria: I make the rules.