A golden fuse on the blacktop of the Las Vegas Strip lights up the screen. It races towards the SHOOT Project Epicenter, which the camera pans up to reveal. “The Crazy Ones” by Stellar Revival kicks in as the fuse ignites the SHOOT Project Helmet.
We are the new-school, no rules
Needle in a haystack
The first image is Donovan King, standing at the entrance to the arena with the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship on his shoulder, flashing quickly to Dan Stein, a grin on his face as he saunters down to the ring. It cuts to Maya Nakashima kneeling in the ring, his arms outstretched as he looks to the skylights.
We are the outsiders, all nighters
Scream if you’re a badass!
It shows Jonas Coleman marching down to the ring as Lunatikk Crippler is shown getting in someone’s face. The scene cuts to Charles Brandon Magnus and Buck Dresden with their titles held high in the air for a moment before we catch a brief view of El Asso Wipo breaking every back in existence while Silas Mitchell looks on, his face twisted in consternation. We see Jacob Mephisto slowly leaning in and whispering into the ear of some unknown Soldier as he stares at the camera, a grin forming on his face.
We are the wheels that keep turning
Long Island Hardcore individually during the Redemption Rumble, laying the heat on their opponents. It flashes to Johnny Napalm hoisting the Tag Team Championship in the air, cutting quickly to Thomas Manchester Black shouting out to the fans in attendance, which quickly cuts to Chance Ryan glaring at the camera, Cade Sydal behind him with a smirk on his face. We see Cronos Diamante sparring with Edmund Augustus Shan before it cuts to Henry Gordon wringing his hands with a grin on his face.
We are the heart breakers, risk takers
Anything but boring
Laura Seton helping to eliminate Jaime Alejandro is shown as Corey Lazarus is arguing with a referee before we see Solomon Richards nods his head to the camera. We then see Ja Gi Kyung-Moon flying over the top rope into the ring.
‘Cause we are the crazy ones
The mavericks, the dreamers, the forgotten sons
Mason Pierce drops to the floor, leaving his partner to be victimized before we cut to ANARCHY saluting the fans as they stand at the entrance. Kenji Yamada has Flay Rios by her cheeks and slaps her across the face as he glares into her sad eyes.
We color outside the lines for fun
We are the crazy ones
Johnny Napalm is covered in blood, staggering around with a gigantic grin on his face. Obsidian lords over a fallen foe as Isaac Entragian puts his arm around Elizabeth Gaunt, glaring down at Maya Nakashima.
‘Cause we are the crazy ones
The badass, outcast, son of a guns
Mason Pierce takes a harsh pile driver through the flaming table from Kenji Yamada. Thomas Manchester Black trades hits against Corey Lazarus. We then see Tanya Black holding her belt high before it cuts to her nailing a picture perfect dropkick to an unknown foe.
We march to the beat of a different drum
We are the crazy ones
We are the crazy ones
Henry Gordon stands tall in the ring, severely winded, as it cuts to Dan Stein holding Minxy Jones’ mask high above his head as a trophy.
One of a kind, believe it
So stand up and make ’em see it
The guitar solo brings us to Donovan King hitting the Dealbreaker on Mason Pierce, then Corazon hitting the Act of Inhumanity on Isaac Entragian, then Jester Smiles connecting with the Virginia Sidekick on Lunatikk Crippler, then Jaime Alejandro wailing away at Obsidian, backing the monster against the ropes. We see Drew Stevenson slapping the hands of a few fans before it cuts to David Miller, standing in a dimly lit ring, his head bowed and sweat dripping from his head.
‘Cause we are the crazy ones
The mavericks, the dreamers, the forgotten sons
Isaac Entragian lights Jaime Alejandro’s uniform on fire cuts to Laura Seton hitting a flying crossbody to Dan Stein.
We color outside the lines for fun
We are the crazy ones
Corazon catches Isaac Entragian with the Act of Inhumanity and Phillip Goodman smirks at the camera.
‘Cause we are the crazy ones
The badass, outcast, son of a guns
Lunatikk Crippler throws his head back, his silken, ebony locks flowing back in slow motion gets quickly cut Alex Brooks sprinting to the ring.
We march to the beat of a different drum
We are the crazy ones
The SHOOT Project Helmet reappears on screen, in golden flame against a black background.
WE ARE THE CRAZY ONES
“The Crazy Ones” continues to play when all of a sudden it is interrupted by…
ALL OF THE LIGHTS
The fans pop BIG as “All of the Lights” begins to play. Out from the back emerges SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion DONOVAN KING. He stands there, hood draped on his shoulders and the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship on his shoulder, wearing a Kevin Ware “RI5E” shirt underneath.
Eryk Masters: Ladies and gentlemen…welcome to Revolution and what a way to start the night off!
King saunters down the entrance ramp, nodding his head to the beat of his theme music.
Samantha Coil: Ladies and gentlemen…The SHOOT Project WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION…DONOVAN…KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!
King walks across the ring apron and hoists his World Championship high above his head as he ascends the turnbuckle. Samantha Coil walks over and hands him her microphone as he stands there. He stares at the sea of fans cheering wildly for him as “All of the Lights” dies down.
Donovan King: First off…our hearts, our thoughts, and our prayers go out to everyone out there in Boston. Whether you’re missin’ your loved ones, you’re sittin’ in a hospital bed, or you’re clutchin’ a phone waitin’ for it to ring, know that everybody across this nation is lookin’ at you an’ thinkin’ uh y’all tonight.
The fans give a strong applause.
Donovan King: Now…I came out here to open Revolution not with words uh worry…but words of hope.
The fans cheer once more.
Donovan King: As I sat there in the back before my match at Reckoning Day, each an’ every fan I’ve met, every person I know I’ve had the honor to touch the heart of…was gonna be watchin’ me an’ wondering if I had it in me to take down the will of Lunatikk Crippler or the ways of Dan Stein.
Donovan King: I’m a man of many doubts. See, I sat there an’ I worried if I could do it. Them two’s the finest opponents a guy like me could ask for an’ on the grandest stage uh them all. Ain’t a Soldier alive can say they coulda walked into a match like that an’ not been worried about the outcome an’ not been looked at like he was crazy.
Donovan King: But Reckoning Day came an’ Reckoning Day went and I’m here openin’ up Revolution to tell each an’ every ONE of you watchin’ tonight that Donovan King is here an’ Donovan King is STILL THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION.
The fans POP.
Donovan King: Dan Stein an’ Lunatikk Crippler gave me one hell of a fight an’ I’m honored to have faced the two of ‘em in the main event of Reckoning Day. But…tonight’s the start uh Master of the Mat, the winner goes on to face the World Heavyweight Champion.
Donovan King: But for tonight…I’ve got a meeting with the SHOOT Project Board uh Directors an’ we’re gonna be talkin’ about what the next step is for me an’ this here title I proudly defend for each an’ every one of you out there. Hopefully they’ll tell me somethin’ I can share at Dominion. If not?
King can’t help but chuckle.
Donovan King: I’ll just take on the first mother fucker that gets in my way.
Enjoy the show, SHOOT Project.
“All of the Lights” kicks back in as King drops from the turnbuckle, saluting the fans by holding his title high above his head.
Eryk Masters: That’s the man to beat, OG. Donovan King has just come out here tonight and after some poignant words, he showed some respect to what came before while looking forward to what’s coming next!
Other Guy: He said he hopes to know what’s next for him and the main event of Master of the Mat by Dominion and I, for one, can’t wait to see what he has to say!
Eryk Masters: That said, it’s a new era! A new day! The Road to Reckoning Day is over and the March to Master of the Mat is ON!
Eryk Masters: We begin tonight with a newcomer showcase.
Other Guy: And I here that we actually have some newcomers!
“Diamonds Aren’t Forever” by Bring Me The Horizon blasts out of the speakers, signaling to the crowd that the first match is about to begin. The opening announcement from Samantha Coil sets the tone.
Samantha Coil: Tonight’s opening contest is a Newcomers’ Showcase! It’s set for one fall and has a ten minute time limit. Introducing first, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada; weighing 220 pounds… J.P. Corino!
Corino walks out from the back wearing his wrestling tights. J.P. stares intensely at the ring, clutching the spike around his neck. The SHOOT Project fans barely even register to the man as he stalks methodically toward the ring.
Eryk Masters: Contrasting his comments and demeanor in his promo two weeks ago, we have a very mentally focused and quiet J.P. Corino. There he has that spike that he calls Marla in his hands. He used that to break a camera… was that ours?
Other Guy: Yeah, word is he’s probably getting fined.
Eryk Masters: How much?
Other Guy: If the rumors are true, he’s working for free tonight.
As J.P. Corino steps up the ring stairs and wipes his feet at the apron, stepping through the ropes into the ring. Corino takes to a corner facing the entryway, never releasing his grip on his spike. When J.P. looks settled in, the music switches to “Dead Flag Blues” by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The arena turns black. A chorus of string instruments begins to play a melancholic tune as a pale spotlight rushes to the top of the stage. There, it falls on Elizabeth Mauduit dressed in a pair of tight, dark jeans and a black hoodie. She stops at the top of the ramp and looks out into the darkness.
Samantha Coil: And from weighing 130 pounds, residing in Las Vegas, Nevada, Datura!
Elizabeth makes her way down the ramp. The silhouette of hands reaching out to grab her can be seen on the outskirts of the spotlight. Datura ignores them as she makes her way to the steps.
Other Guy: Datura looks… out of it.
Eryk Masters: That she does.
Austin Linam calls for the bell. Mark Kendrick hits it to begin the contest, but neither wrestler is quick to begin. Datura looks wholly uninterested in making the first move, and J.P. Corino refuses to remove the spike. Referee Linam tells Corino to remove the weapon, as this is a standard rules match and carrying the weapon can result in a disqualification. Corino stares right through Linam, toward Datura, gripping Marla tight in his hands.
Eryk Masters: Corino looks like he’s grinding his teeth.
Other Guy: He’s playing out the match in his head, thinking of every horrible thing he wants to do to Datura.
Datura, for her part, yawns. Linam repeats his warning to Corino to remove the spike. Corino continues to ignore the referee. Austin Linam gives one more warning, and turns to the timekeeper to call for a disqualification but Corino finally removes Marla from his neck.
Eryk Masters: That was a close one. That would not have been a good way to debut in SHOOT Project.
Corino turns back to the ring and his opponent, stepping forward to meet Datura in the middle of the ring. Datura, scratching her scalp and staring up at the lights, moves forward as well. Corino gets within a few feet of Datura before surging forward and grabbing her by the hair, throwing wild punches to her forehead and orbital bone. Elizabeth Maduit covers up as best she can, Corino backing her into the corner and unleashing a strong series of punches to the upper body and abdomen intended to take any potential fight out of her.
Eryk Masters: Austin Linam can barely get Corino out of the corner!
Corino stops at a count of four and shoves the referee away, causing Linam to stand up for himself and remind Corino that he’s on very thin ice. Corino goes back to the attack in the corner, but Datura kicks at the knee to get J.P. to break his attack. With just enough time to try to separate, Datura uses a double-leg mule kick to push Corino away. The brawler stops himself after a few steps and charges back in, Datura kicking him at the shoulder to get some bit of damage and deflecting his attempt at a haymaker. Datura throws two more mule kicks at the arm and grabs it, pushing herself away from the corner with a foot on the middle ropes for a Tornado Single Arm DDT.
Other Guy: Datura’s gonna be working the arms here, but J.P. Corino just got up like that was nothing.
Corino kicks Datura in the stomach and softens her up with some knife edge chops before whipping her to the ropes. Datura returns into a hip toss, though she flips through! A knee to the midsection stuns Corino, who gets a Flying Armbar for his trouble.
Eryk Masters: J.P. Corino goes down for the crucifix armbar, but look at him turning it over!
Corino rolls into the armbar and gives Datura a few hammer fists before standing up and kicking her in the back. Datura releases, allowing Corino to deadlift her up for a powerbomb pin!
J.P. Corino pulls Datura up to her feet and locks his hands around her neck. Datura throws her knee into the solar plexus and pulls the wrists out and away from her throat, breaking the grip. A kick to the midsection allows Datura to turn and run to the ropes, but Corino grabs the back of her jeans and yanks Elizabeth Maduit past him and into position for a high angle Backdrop Suplex.
Eryk Masters: Datura lands on her feet!
Datura hooks the arms behind Corino and trips him forward to the mat, rolling over in a Double Underhook Armbar for the cattle mutilation!
Eryk Masters: She’s locked in the Moonflower! Corino’s trying to roll it over but her bridge is too wide to leverage!
J.P.Corino does his best to maneuver himself toward the ropes, working against her hold, but eventually the pain is too great. Corino taps Datura’s arm. Mark Kendrick rings the bell.
Samantha Coil: Here is your winner… DATURA!
Elizabeth Maduit releases the hold and rolls out of the ring. Without waiting for or accepting fanfare, Datura resumes her disinterested demeanor and walks to the back.
Eryk Masters: Wow. Very little technical about that match… it was a fight from start to finish.
Other Guy: If that’s what I were up against in a debut match I probably would’ve skipped out on my contract, too.
At the top of the ramp, Datura turns back to look at J.P. Corino. The man is crouching in the ring, staring daggers into Datura.
Eryk Masters: J.P. Corino is holding that spike again.
Other Guy: Guy like that, only a matter of time before he introduces Datura to Marla.
The scene fades in to the back. Jester Smiles is roaming around the backstage area, looking down corridors, throwing open doors, and checking around corners in search of something. There is no face paint and no ring attire, simply the Donovan King "Long Live The King" t-shirt and blue jeans.
Jester Smiles: SAMMY! SAMMY! WHERE ARE YOU!?
There is no response, so Jester keeps frantically looking. He throws open a door, not bothering to read what the door says. But as the door opens, the camera catches the name plate on the door.
As the camera turns, Jester is face to face with former rival The Real Deal. Jester completely freezes, a look of shock and confusion on his face.
Jester Smiles: Josh, I…I…uhhh…
Jester diverts his eyes away from Real Deal, casting them to the ground.
Real Deal: Weird. I knew I smelled bitch somewhere. What’s the matter, Eric? Can’t find your meal ticket?
Jester looks up, anger furrowing his brow.
Real Deal: I get it, man. You have to ride the coattails while you can. Sammy Rochester is one of the hottest commodities in the SHOOT Project right now, and what are you? A manager. It’s a tough way to go out, I guess, but with you? Not all that surprising.
Real Deal laughs.
Real Deal: I’m actually a little amazed that you managed to keep with this, this long. Everyone knows that you’re dead as fuck once Sammy figures out that you’re just milking him for exposure and leeching off of his success, and you know what, E? We’re seeing his veil lifted more and more every day, man. How does that make you feel? Does it scare you?
Real Deal shakes his head with Jester simply looking ahead.
Real Deal: It’s a struggle, I know, battling with becoming irrelevant. Real tough. Maybe you’ll come out on top… but knowing you? That’s maybe keeping my expectations too high. Tell you what… take your Sherlock Holmes act elsewhere.
Real Deal points towards the door.
Real Deal: Get the fuck out of my office.
Jacob Mephisto is seen walking backstage. He is wearing a pair of black dress pants with a black button down shirt. The Sin City Championship rests on his shoulder. He turns the corner and sees Elizabeth Gaunt sitting on a table, her legs swinging back and forth. He approaches her cautiously with a sly smirk on his face.
Jacob: Well, well, well… Lizzie Gaunt. You’ve got a big match tonight, don’t you? Trying to climb another rung towards this?
Jacob lightly pats the shining title belt on his shoulder.
Jacob: Why bother? We both know that nobody is taking this away from me, princess.
Gaunt favors Jacob with a smile that is close to a sneer, and she pauses for a moment to fluff her hair.
Gaunt: I thought I heard a slimy eel slithering down the hallway…and here you are. Boasting doesn’t suit you, Mephisto. And if you wanna make Jacob’s Ladder references, at least shake your head around a little bit, crazy ass demon style.
Liz demonstrates by twitching her head back and forth in jittery movements for a moment, finally pausing to smirk at the new Sin City Champion.
Gaunt: I don’t need your ladder, Jacob. I’ve got a luxury elevator that’s going to take me RIGHT to you…so I’ll just cruise along and enjoy the ride while listening to peaceful muzak.
Liz rubs one hand against her chin while examining the Sin City Title on Jacob’s shoulder.
Gaunt: I’ll give the devil his due, though…you’ve impressed me, Jacob. I never thought in a million years that you’d knock off Sammy. I didn’t think ANYONE…could take this pretty, shiny thing from the monster baby…but you did. It was a commendable performance. Cherish it, pal…
Gaunt leans closer and she delicately runs her fingers along the faceplate of the Sin City belt. Her eyes widen like a child seeing a toy she simply MUST have in a shop window.
Gaunt: Because your reign won’t last long, I’m afraid. There are two things I want in SHOOT Project right now, Mephisto. I want my vengeance against Nakashima…and I WANT the Sin City Championship. I’m going to be a super generous girl…and let you know that ahead of time. I want you to see me coming. I want you to know that I’m focused purely on YOUR division and YOUR title. You’ll have plenty of time to prepare yourself, and if you want an idea of what’s coming your way? Watch closely when I wreck Lazarus tonight.
Jacob allows a sly smirk to form on his face. He looks down at the Sin City Championship on his shoulder for a moment and brushes off the area that Gaunt touched.
Jacob: Now, now, we can’t have your filthy SCAR hands polluting the title. You have fun going up against Corey. You think you’re some kind of major threat to me? Consider the fact that I’ve already gotten past Laz. So, deary, I won’t need to watch you go up against a man I’ve already beaten. Face the facts, Lizzy. You’re playing catch up. And as far as your raging desire for what’s mine goes, well, you can’t always get what you want. You’d do well to learn that.
Jacob turns from Gaunt only to come face to face with Solomon Richards.
Jacob: Well, look who joined the party. You know, big guy, it’s funny that you’re next in line for a shot at this.
Jacob taps the Sin City Championship on his shoulder.
Jacob: After all, haven’t I beaten you already?
Solomon gives a nod and a smile in Jacob’s direction. He leans casually against the wall, but does not break eye contact with Jacob.
Solomon: That belt fits pretty well, huh? You seem to be enjoying it an awful lot.
Jacob offers a sly smile to Solomon. Gaunt rolls her eyes.
Gaunt: God, I want to make SO many “an atheist and a jesusfreak walk into a bar" jokes right now.
Both Jacob & Solomon ignore little Miss Gaunt.
Jacob: It does fit well, doesn’t it? What champion doesn’t enjoy holding his title? But, my enjoyment only goes so far. How much are you enjoying knowing that you’re going to fall short again when we step into the ring?
Solomon gently pushes himself from the wall and crosses his arms in front of him, barely holding himself still in a hearty laugh. He pulls a hand out and places it on Mephisto’s shoulder, taking him aback for just a second, unsure of his intentions but clearly ready for a fight. The jovial smile never leaves Solomon’s face.
Solomon: You did beat me. And I can tell you, it was a hell of a lot of fun watching you talk about it. I can tell you that I will enjoy fighting you again. Almost as much as I’ve enjoyed watching you make a fool of yourself every week.
He pulls his hand back and the look on his face gets a bit more serious, but the smile never leaves his face. Jacob, clearly agitated takes a bit more of an aggressive stance.
Solomon: I’ll tell you what, you prance around for as long as you have left. You take that belt to sleep with you if you want. Anyone can wrestle a bear and not die once. But you not only want to do it again, you want to provoke the bear? That’s a fool if I ever saw one.
Gaunt fans her hand in front of her nose for a moment.
Gaunt: He’s serious, Jacob. He sure SMELLS like bear shit, anyways. He’s GOD’s carebear, and he will maul stigmata into you, unbeliever!
The smile on Jacob’s face vanishes only to be replaced with a sneer. Solomon glances at Gaunt again like she’s a bothersome fly flitting around him.
Jacob: So, I’ve been making a fool of myself since the last time we met? Interesting. Was I a fool for beating David Miller? Or maybe it was when I beat both Sammy Rochester and Corey Lazarus to win this title? You claim that you’re the bear? Let me tell you a little something about yourself, Solly.
Jacob’s sneer slowly turns back into a slight smirk.
Jacob: Compared to the man I pinned to win this belt? Well, you’re nothing but a cub. So, forgive me if I’m not exactly intimidated by a man who beat Drew Stevenson after he was attacked right before the match. Oh, and let’s not forget you beat David Miller. But, remember, I did it first. You’re just like Lizzy here. You’re still playing catch up.
Gaunt crosses her arms while blushing angrily.
Gaunt: HEY! I beat Henry Gordon. You know…the guy you were supposed to mold like clay or something into this incredible SHOOT Project Soldier? But then he got lyme disease…and you abandoned him for hand sanitizer and big Sin City dreams!
Solomon holds up a hand to motion Gaunt to simmer down, and he stares into Jacob’s face.
Solomon: You can tell me all day who you’ve beat, and what you’ve done, and how great of a champion you are and forever will be. Bottom line? You hold on to that little notion that you are better than me. Grasp at it. But what you can’t tell yourself? You can’t look at yourself and say that you are the same man that beat me.
As Solomon begins to walk away from the situation, he looks back over his shoulder at Jacob.
Solomon: This Champion? It’s not Jacob Mephisto. Or maybe it really is you. If it is, I’m terribly, deeply sorry.
Solomon turns back and continues walking away, raising a hand to wave back at the champion. Maya walks past Solomon, he tips his head ever so slightly as they pass each other. Maya walks forward, noticing the various other Sin City Championship Series competitors gathered. Maya stands in front of Jacob, hoisting one hand to the side, bowing and bringing his arm inward towards his waist.
Maya: Congratulations, to the new Sin City Champion. It was quite the achievement to earn that, one that you should be proud of. But, my friend, don’t go resting on your laurels yet… you still haven’t faced me in this tournament yet. While you may have all these accolades and wins to proclaim as your edge against everyone else in this tournament… you don’t quite have that track record against me, do you Champ? Don’t be fooled, Jacob, just because I’m pulling double duty in the Master of the Mat and the Sin City Championship Series doesn’t mean I’ve taken my eye off you, and that title, for a second. I’m still coming for what I lost at this Series last year, make no mistake about that.
A twinge of a smile curls up Maya’s cheeks, but he suddenly pivots and gets right in Gaunt’s face.
Maya: And you, Gaunt, don’t think I haven’t been watching you and Project: SCAR. I see Isaac still has you tied up nice and tight, dragging you along on your cute little chain and collar. Does he know you’re back here talking to me? He might get mad at you, since, you know… you were supposed to be the one who broke me and exiled me from SHOOT Project, remember that? I’m surprised Isaac keeps you around, Lizzie, I mean… you couldn’t even come CLOSE to doing the job you were supposed to! And man… when I knock you out of the Sin City Championship Series?
Maya makes an exaggerated motion of looking up towards the ceiling and then back down at Gaunt.
Maya: But I tell you what, Gaunt, since I like you so much… I’ll make sure he can’t hold it against you. I’ll make sure that after I KNOCK him out of the Master of the Mat tournament? He won’t be able to say ANYTHING about you losing to me in the Sin City Championship Series. Because you know what, Lizzie, as much as I would love to hold the Sin City Championship and the World Title high above my head? Nothing would please me more than to take both Project: SCAR representative out of the Master of the Mat and Sin City Championship Series. To show the WORLD that you aren’t immortal beasts… you’re human just like the rest of us, you can BLEED just like the rest of us, and you can FAIL just like the rest of us.
Maya gets as close as he possibly can to Liz’s face.
Maya: So go out there, Lizzie, go out there and shine in the way only you can. Be brutal, be sadistic, and be the perverted little animal you want everyone to see you as. Do what you do best out there, Liz, get your HOPEs up as high as you possibly can, I want you to REALLY believe you can win this. Because when your name is next to mine, Lizzie, when your name is next to mine… I’m going to kill your HOPE. I’m going to do to you what you and Project: SCAR do every night to the fans and the Soldiers of SHOOT.
The smile fades.
Maya: I’m gonna rip your god damn heart out, Liz.
Gaunt is almost staggered by the sheer venom in Maya’s voice, but she quickly composes herself and grits her teeth together.
Gaunt: Good, Maya. Focus on Isaac and Master Of The Mat. Consider me the afterthought….just a side project for you on your way to the World Championship. Unlike you, I’m not splitting my focus. I can’t WAIT until I get to you, Maya….because I’m going to humiliate you just like you humiliated me at Redemption. You’ve already showed the world I can FAIL…you’ve already showed the world I can BLEED…you proved how human I am at Redemption. And I HATE you for it…I’ll never stop coming after you for it…
Liz’s eyes look especially crazed at this moment.
Gaunt: Remember what you always used to tell Isaac, Maya? You’d tell him no matter HOW many times he knocks you down; you’ll keep getting back up and coming back for him. You’d never break. Well, Maya…you’ve knocked me down already…but I am FAR from broken….and I will keep coming back for YOU…until the job is done. I’m your persistent nightmare. I’m the one that’s never going to let you rest….I’m the one that’s never going to STOP until I show the world I can beat you.
Liz pauses, breathing hard.
Gaunt: Wanna rip my heart out? Go ahead. Because when I meet you in the finals…everything that I do to you…will be HEARTLESS.
Gaunt spins on her heels and heads off down the hallway, and Maya just shakes his head at the words of the SCAR wench. Jacob sighs loudly, causing Maya to turn his attention back to the champion.
Jacob: She does know that if she faces you, it’ll be in the semi-finals, right? I guess it doesn’t matter. All of this talk about winning the Series and seeing each other in the finals? It’s a moot point. See, Maya, Lizzie has to get past Laz tonight. And you? Well, you’ve got Sammy to deal with. I wish you the best of luck in that endeavor. And, in case you’ve forgotten, Mr. Nakashima, you aren’t the only one pulling double tournament duty. In fact, tomorrow night, I’ll be beating Trey Willett in my quest to become the Master of the Mat. But, I’m glad you haven’t forgotten about this tournament. Because I certainly haven’t. I hope I get the chance to meet you in the ring some time soon. Because then? I will have that track record against you.
Jacob offers Maya an almost genuine smile.
Jacob: Make no mistake, Maya. I fully intend on keeping this title. I’m not going to pull a Nakashima and lose it during the Series.
Jacob walks off, leaving Maya standing alone.
Without warning, pyro ERUPTS and black and silver tickertape flies out into the audience from the entrance. The opening of “Hail to the Chief” brings the fans’ attention to the stage. There is a black and silver American flag waving on the SHOOT Tron, though there are no stars…only a single star with the infamous skull patch of the BAD ASS BROTHERHOOD. The song suddenly remixes into Bun B’s “Hail to the Chief” as out from the back comes BUCK DRESDEN and CHARLES BRANDON MAGNUS. Magnus is dressed in a suit and tie, black on black with a silver tie. Buck, meanwhile, is wearing his BAB Cowboy hat and BAB t-shirt with the sleeves torn off.
Samantha Coil: Ladies and gentlemen…Buck Dresden and Charles Brandon Magnus…the BAD…ASS…BROTHERHOOD!!!
Magnus removes his Oakleys as he ascends the ring steps, listening to the fans giving a decidedly mixed reaction. He motions for Coil to give her microphone over to him while Buck walks over and receives a second microphone from Mark Kendrick. Magnus motions for “Hail to the Chief” to be cut off and it slowly fades down.
Charles Brandon Magnus: Ladies and gentlemen…here tonight…in front of all of our little Bad Asses in the audience and the Bad Asses watching at home…we are your record breaking, record making, title taking, claim staking, former and soon to be future World Tag Team Champions…THE BAD…ASS…BROTHERHOOD.
The fans react, but again…pretty mixed.
Buck Dresden: Y’all don’t seem that appreciative. I mean, here we are, guys. Did y’all see Reckoning Day?
The fans cheer.
Buck Dresden: Like I said. Here we are. Where’s our opponents? Hm? Where’d them New York boys go?
Charles Brandon Magnus: Unfortunately, our match ended in something of a disconcerting fashion. But, be not afraid, SHOOT Project, because the Bad Ass Brotherhood is here to give you the chance…of a lifetime.
You see…the World Tag Team Championship hags on a dire precipice. Rumors abound of what will happen later tonight. I can’t say for myself but what I CAN say…is that SHOOT Project…you and your tag division deserve better.
Buck Dresden: You deserve AWWW-SUM.
Charles Brandon Magnus: You deserve…us.
Magnus and Buck slaps hands as the fans aren’t sure how to react to this new overt ego the two of them are showing off.
Buck Dresden: So, me an’ Charlie Mags…we thought to ourselves that it’s time we cut the horse crap an’ we just got real. There’s no tag teams capable of bein’ proper number one contenders…save the team what deserves their rematch fer them titles.
So, ladies and gentlemen…I’m goin’ on record as sayin’ that as of right now…YER NEW NUMBER ONE CONTENDERS ARE…THE B…
A bass BOOMS throughout the arena as the fans all stand up, staring at the entrance. Peter Gabriel’s “Signal to Noise (Instrumental)” plays softly as the SHOOT Tron shows the Las Vegas skyline until finally we hear three words whispered over the PA…
The fans…fucking…LOSE IT.
The guitar HITS as out from the back emerges OUTKAST. He stands there, listening to the fans cheering as he grasps a microphone. He is dressed in a black pair of dress pants and matching shoes with a cobalt blue dress shirt.
“Signal To Noise” dies down as he stands there, soaking in the adulation. He can’t help but smirk as he holds his hand up, motioning towards the ring. He turns his head and looks over to the fans once more, and the chant picks back up again.
OutKast: Welcome back?
He cocks up an eyebrow.
OutKast: Where the hell did I go?
POP. He turns his attention to the ring.
OutKast: Buck Dresden…Charles Brandon Magnus. The Bad Ass Brotherhood. We’ve not gotten the chance to properly…meet, have we?
Charles Brandon Magnus: We know who you are, Kygon!
Kast nods his head, smiling.
OutKast: Good, good. So you both know that I sit on the SHOOT Project Board of Directors and I’m not really a fan of showing up and taking the spotlight these days, right? Still…there’s just something about tag team wrestling that gets a guy like me all…amped up.
He rubs his stomach.
OutKast: Right in here. Butterflies, you know? So when Jason, Josh, Azrael, and myself are all sitting in the back and we’re watching this Inmates-Run-The-Asylum scenario that’s unfolding in the tag division, we all decided we needed to do something.
Now, Josh’s got his fingers in a lotta pies, so we didn’t want him to overextend himself and get in your business. Goeren, he’s likely to create a situation that involves hookers and hand grenades. Jason…well, Jason’s like me. We don’t like showin’ our faces often. We like to lay low. Be cool.
Buck Dresden: No offense, but do you have a point here?
Magnus looks at Buck.
Buck Dresden: …sir?
Kast stands there, still smirking as he nods.
OutKast: Oh, I do, Buck. Because, you see, I made a special exception tonight. See, I’m tired of seeing no order in the tag division. Seems ever since the first of the year, it’s been pushed, bullied, and disregarded. So, tonight, in the spirit of Master of the Mat and the Sin City Championship Series…I’ve set up a nice, fun, and wonderful little tag team tournament.
Just four teams. Nothin’ fancy.
Buck slaps the nearest turnbuckle, obviously infuriated.
Charles Brandon Magnus: You can’t do that! We deserve our rematch!
OutKast: Guys…you lost to Tanya Black and Chance Ryan and the stipulation was you didn’t get any rematches. Anything you get…you earn.
The fans cheer. Louder than the Brotherhood might expect.
OutKast: So, our teams are…
OutKast: Kenji Yamada and Flay Rios, representing Project:SCAR.
The Fans: ANARCHY!!!!!
Buck Dresden: That’s not funny, you guys!
Kast motions to the ring.
OutKast: And you two.
The fans cheer once again.
OutKast: The winner of this little thing gets the right to face off for the tag team championship belts at a time to be determined. Until then, guys?
Best work on your people skills…
“Signal To Noise” kicks back in and the fans EXPLODE. Charles Brandon Magnus is pacing the ring, shaking his head while Buck Dresden is glaring OutKast down, FURIOUS. OutKast waves to the two of them as he leaves the entrance stage, bringing the fans to their feet, excited at what has just transpired. We cut back to Buck Dresden and Charles Brandon Magnus, the two of them talking to one another, trying to calm each other down.
Samantha Coil: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall and is a Master of the Mat qualifying match!
The crowd begins to cheer wildly.
Jap the Ripper by B’z begins to play through the speakers of the Epicenter, causing the crowd to cheer even louder.
Samantha Coil: Introducing first, hailing from San Diego, California, standing 5’11 and weighing in at 188 pounds, here is JA GI KYUUUNG MOOOON!!!
Ja Gi explodes onto the entrance ramp full of energy. He runs to each end of the stage, pumping the crowd up. He runs down the entrance stage, touching the hands of as many fans as possible. He dives under the bottom rope and quickly ascends the nearest turnbuckle, raising his arms in the air before going to a neutral corner and awaiting his opponent as Jap the Ripper fades.
Everyday Combat by Lostprophets begins to play and the crowd continues to cheer, showing their appreciation.
Samantha Coil: And his opponent, hailing from Naked City, Las Vegas, here is EDMUND AUGUSTUS SHAAAANNN!!!
Shan walks out onto the stage and begins to walk purposefully down the ramp. He fist bumps with a few fans on his way, but never breaks his gaze away from Moon. Shan hops up onto the ring apron and raises his fist in the air before stepping into the ring.
Referee Willie Dean calls for the bell and Shan walks to the middle of the ring, extending his hand for a handshake. The crowd’s reaction is mixed, but Ja Gi cautiously moves forward. Moon takes the extended hand, and Shan IMMEDIATELY begins to fire forearms into the face of Ja Gi, causing the some of the crowd to boo, while others continue to cheer.
Eryk Masters: Shan is off to an aggressive start here. You never know what you’re going to get with a Shan handshake offer.
Other Guy: That’s for sure. It’s like he’s a handshake schitzo.
Eryk Masters: That’s what you’re going with?
Other Guy: Sounded better in my head.
Shan backs Ja Gi into the corner with a constant barrage. Referee Willie Dean is right there and starts his count.
Shan backs away quickly just before Willie Dean counts five. Ja Gi holds his jaw as he moves out of the corner and the two men begin to circle one another. Shan moves in to lock up, but Moon ducks under to grab a rear waistlock. Shan fires an elbow into Moons jaw, breaking his grip and staggering him backwards. Shan turns and moves in, firing heavy lefts and rights at Moon. He lands a few, but Moon is able to sidestep and drops Shan with a drop toe hold. Moon floats over and hooks on a front facelock. He shoots the half and covers!
Shan kicks out at one!
Eryk Masters: Ja Gi tried to end it early there with a quick pin attempt, but Shan gets out at one.
Other Guy: Edmund is a former Sin City Champion. There’s no way he’s going to get beat with something like that.
As Shan begins to get to his feet, Ja Gi runs to the ropes, bouncing off and NAILING Shan with a dropkick to the chest, knocking Shan back down before he can fully get to his feet. Moon immediately capitalizes with a standing senton splash. Moon covers again and hooks the leg.
Shan gets his shoulder up. Ja Gi stays on top of him, bringing him to his feet. Ja Gi backs Shan into the ropes and Irish whips him across the ring. Shan comes off the ropes only to be met with a QUICK leg lariat from Moon! Ja Gi covers again!
Eryk Masters: Ja Gi is staying on top of Shan, OG. That’s back to back near falls from him.
Other Guy: It’s a great strategy, but if Shan can turn the pace around, Ja Gi could be in trouble.
Moon slaps the mat in frustration, but doesn’t give up his assault. Shan makes it to his feet and Ja Gi begins to PEPPER his legs with stiff kicks. Shan is doing his best to check each kick but with little effect. Without warning, Shan LUNGES forward and connects with a HUGE lariat, sending Moon crashing to the canvas!
Eryk Masters: What a move by Shan! That’ll sure change the pace of things!
Other Guy: It wasn’t pretty, but it was certainly effective.
Shan shakes the ache from his legs and advances quickly on Ja Gi. He begins to stomp away at Moon repeatedly. He brings Moon to his feet, hoists him up, and DRIVES him down to the mat with a gutwrench suplex! Shan gets to his feet quickly and drops a heavy elbow to the upper back of Moon. He quickly stands and drops a second elbow. And then a third. Shan drops to the mat, rolls Ja Gi over, and covers!
Moon gets his shoulder up!
Shan maintains his composure and brings Ja Gi back to his feet. He Irish whips Moon to the turnbuckle. As Moon connects with the buckle, Shan gets a running start a CRUSHES Ja Gi with a HUGE lariat into the corner!
Shan pulls Moon out of the corner and lifts Ja Gi up onto his shoulder. He gets a running start and DRIVES Moon to the mat with a running powerslam! Shan covers!
Moon just barely gets his shoulder up at the last possible second!
Eryk Masters: Shan is really controlling the pace of the match now. It looks like it’s just a matter of time now.
Other Guy: I wouldn’t count Ja Gi out just yet, but Shan is making a very good argument with his actions in the ring.
Shan brings Ja Gi back to his feet again and fires a STIFF forearm to his face. Shan boots Ja Gi in the gut and hooks his head. Shan hoists Ja Gi up, holding him in position.
Ja Gi manages to drop behind Shan JUST BEFORE Shan can drop him with his finisher! Moon hits the ropes quickly and NAILS Shan with a dropkick to the back, sending him chest first into the ropes. As Shan bounces backwards towards Moon, Ja Gi springs into action!
GOOD NIGHT MOON!
Eryk Masters: Moon hit that flush to the back of Shan’s head!
Other Guy: Holy shit, that came out of nowhere!
Ja Gi drops to the mat. Both men are down! Willie Dean waits a moment, but then starts to deliver his count!
Ja Gi starts to crawl forward towards Shan.
Moon drapes his body over Shan’s for the cover!
Shan just BARELY manages to get his shoulder up!!
Eryk Masters: Shan dug down deep there! He wants to win this Master of the Mat Qualifier badly!
Other Guy: Moon could have had him, but he couldn’t get the cover quick enough. Whoever makes it to his feet first is going to have a huge advantage here!
Both men are trying to pull themselves to their feet using the ropes. Shan, surprisingly, makes it to his feet first, just a second before Ja Gi. Shan rushes forward with a lariat, but Moon ducks and hits the ropes. He comes off the ropes just as Shan turns around.
GOOD NIGHT MOON!!
Eryk Masters: Moon hit it again!
Other Guy: This has to be it!
Ja Gi covers and hooks the leg!
DING DING DING!!!
Samantha Coil: Ladies and gentlemen, here is your winner, advancing in the Master of the Mat Tournament, JA GI KYUUUUNNNGG MOOOOOON!!!!
Ja Gi rolls off Shan and gets to his knees. He looks towards the ceiling as Willie Dean raises his arm in victory and Jap the Ripper plays again.
Eryk Masters: This was a very hard fought win for Ja Gi tonight! He moves on to face Loco Martinez in the next round.
Other Guy: That match is going to be one to watch, Masters. But, let’s not forget that we still have three amazing matches coming up! Including our main event, where Thomas Manchester Black will face Mason Pierce!
Eryk Masters: Not to mention a Sin City Championship Series match between Liz Gaunt and Corey Lazarus.
Ja Gi rolls out of the ring with his arms still in the air. Shan has gotten to his knees and is staring a hole in Ja Gi’s head as Moon touches hands with the fans on his way back up the entrance ramp.
The shot goes to the back, where Dutch Harris is standing by, a microphone in hand.
Dutch Harris: Ladies and gentlemen, if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out this year’s Reckoning Day, still available on i-pay-per-view through the SHOOT Project website! That’s SHOOT Project dot com! Speaking of Reckoning Day, I’m joined right now by one of the participants of the epic extravaganza’s first day, Chance Ryan.
The camera’s shot widens, panning out to include the nearly six-and-a-half-foot tall Chance Ryan, clearly not dressed to compete in his relaxed fitting blue jeans and a dark orange short-sleeved button down shirt, with yellow lightning bolts for buttons. Dutch looks at the comically juvenile ensemble with grace.
Dutch Harris: Now, Chance, you weren’t successful at Reckoning Day when you faced Tanya Black within the confines of a steel cage. A match you asked for yourself. My question is, and I think everyone kind of wants to know the same thing here, how are you feeling about that?
Chance leans closer to the microphone as Dutch raises it some for him.
Chance Ryan: That’s kind of a trick question, right? I mean, who feels good about a loss, right? The truth is, Tanya and I left it all in the ring, and she walked out with the victory. I’m not thrilled about it, I didn’t go out and celebrate or join in the rest of the festivities. Day Two wasn’t spent by me, sitting and watching. I was out in the gym, working to improve instead so that one day I can be in the main event of Reckoning Day.
Dutch starts to move the microphone to ask another question, but Chance catches it and pulls the mic back to himself.
Chance Ryan: I’m not done, man. No disrespect intended, of course, but you asked me a question and I plan on answering it to the fullest of my ability. Now, what’s happened between Tanya an I is in the past. If we cross paths again it’ll be what it’ll be, but right now she’s not my focus. I’m focused on the future, and the future is –
Chance stops speaking as in front of him steps none other than Buck Dresden and Charles Brandon Magnus…The Bad Ass Brotherhood. Neither man seem all that enthusiastic as they step completely in front of Dutch Harris, blocking him from view. Buck takes the microphone and slowly bends Dutch’s hand in his direction.
Buck Dresden: No offense, Ryan, but why’re we listenin’ to you? You lost to Tanya Black, if anything we oughtta hear what she has to say about that match. What do you ACTUALLY have to say?
Magnus twists Dutch’s arm, bringing the microphone to his face.
Charles Brandon Magnus: Pay no mind to my friend, Chance. He’s a little…testy about this tag team contender thing. As a matter of fact…Dutch, WE are who you should be talking to. We are back to back to back Tag Team of the Year. We are the longest reigning champions in SHOOT Project HISTORY. Why are you talking to one half of two straight failed attempts at tag teams when you should be talking to the rightful leaders in tag team wrestling about their opinions on what this company is daring to do to our beloved division?
Chance shakes his head in disdain as Dutch looks between Chance and the Bad Ass Brotherhood, more than a little anxiety would be evident in his face if the camera could get a clear shot of it, surely. Chance takes a step to get closer to the microphone, and keeps his eyes on Buck and Magnus.
Chance Ryan: Look, guys, I don’t have any problems with you and I don’t know what your problem is with me, but I’m kind of in the middle of something. I’m sure if you were a little more patient, Dutch would have interviewed you, too. Right, Dutch?
Dutch Harris: Uhhh…uhhhh…
Chance Ryan: See? He’s a little nervous right now, but yeah, he would’ve interviewed you, too.
Buck yanks the microphone and the arm back in his direction.
Buck Dresden: Our whole fuckin’ career’s been wrapped around you an’ yer failures, you get that, Chance? We won our tag belts in a match with you. We lost our tag belts in a match with you. You here, right now, an’ all I wanna do is let off a little fuckin’ steam after what we just got told.
Magnus puts his arm in front of Buck, blocking his path. Again, he twists Dutch’s arm.
Charles Brandon Magnus: Chance. Perhaps you should find a better time to be interviewed about your most recent reboot of your alleged career? No offense, Ryan, but ever since your match against your former partner, we’ve noticed…
Magnus looks over Chance’s shoulder.
Charles Brandon Magnus: …you’re all alone.
Chance can’t help but to also look over his own shoulder before turning back to look at Dutch and then Magnus.
Chance Ryan: You’re right, I am. Look, I don’t want any troube. If it means that much to you, to get your precious interview, then I’ll go. It’s fine. But you…
Chance points at Buck.
Chance Ryan: You need to watch your mouth. Clean it up, Buck. No one respects a potty mouth.
Chance turns to look at Dutch.
Chance Ryan: I’ll catch you later. Have fun.
Chance backs away a few steps before he departs. Dutch finally manages to take the microphone and his arm back. After a brief sigh, he speaks up again.
Dutch Harris: Well, then…Buck…Magnus…what are you…
Charles Brandon Magnus: Shut up, Dutch.
Magnus walks away.
Dutch Harris: But, I thought you guys wanted an interview?!
Buck rolls his eyes.
Buck Dresden: Who the fuck wants to be interviewed by you?
Buck walks away, leaving Dutch to himself. He shakes his head, visibly annoyed.
Dutch Harris: Can we just…yeah, just cut it.
Jacob Mephisto is seen for the second time walking through the backstage area with the Sin City Championship on his shoulder. As he approaches his dressing room he hears someone chuckle, as off from a corner comes a very big problem in the form of the six foot nine Johnny Napalm walking up with that briefcase in his hand.
Napalm: So, were all here to praise Jacob tonight, huh? Don’t get me wrong you’re the Sin city champion. The one thing I am worried about is can you handle the pressure?
Napalm looks Jacob in the eyes
Napalm: With all due respect, you got a lot of people gunning for your title. One problem I see however is only a couple of them will ever get that chance in SCCS. However, I do see that vision. You see if you get by Solomon, you run directly into me. And trust me I am not forgetting Shan; he is going to have one hell of a war on his hands soon.
I always have options open, even if Shan wins. And that is Master of the Mat. You see, when people think about one title they always block the other ones out just like having tunnel vision. However, I have a better outlook on things going on in SHOOT. Right now, I have a chance to go after one of three titles here in SHOOT. You see I have BIG dreams and if one falls apart, I always got other options, even tonight when I take on Kincaid. If I can beat him, I have an option to go after the Iron Fist title.
Master of the Mat and SCCS are two of the biggest tournaments of the year. And most of us here are all looking forward to both of them. However, you need to realize, I am also here and I am just as hungry to win them BOTH!
For some time now, you everyone has considered me an afterthought, but tonight I make my presence known to everyone in SHOOT and you can hate me all you want, but you will learn to fear me as well.
Napalm looks at the Sin City Title
Napalm: And soon Jacob, all the competitors will be the least of your concerns when I beat you for the Sin City title. Don’t believe me? Everyone thought Genesis Corporation was going to keep the tag titles for awhile. They didn’t, and honestly they couldn’t defend the titles once, just like Shaolin when he won the world title.
Question is Jacob, how many times will you defend the belt before the next one claims it?
Napalm seems to look past Jacob as he sees someone walking down a hallway as he grins, he moves away from Jacob.
Napalm: Now if you will excuse me, I have some things to do.
Napalm walks backwards a little then turns around and walks away as Shan comes into view; both Napalm and Shan look at each other for a second as Napalm walks off. Jacob sneers as Napalm leaves the area. Shan walks by Jacob without so much as looking at him. Jacob looks around and notices he is by himself. He sighs and smirks.
Jacob: Why does everyone with a little bit of size always think they’re some kind of unstoppable monster?
He looks down at the Sin City Championship on his shoulder.
Jacob: Nobody’s taking this from me.
Jacob walks down the hall and around the corner.
Eryk Masters: Up next is our second Master of the Mat qualifier between the number one contender to Thomas Manchester Black’s Iron Fist Championship, Kincaid and one half of the World Tag Team Champions, Johnny Napalm.
Other Guy: It’s funny you say that, Eryk, because tonight could be the last night Johnny Napalm has that title.
Eryk Masters: That’s right, Dan Stein’s future is still up in limbo right now and, true to the man, he’s taking his sweet time letting us know exactly what he’s doing.
Other Guy: To be fair here, Stein has done a lot for SHOOT Project in the time he’s been here. This guy has been in SHOOT Project in some capacity since Revolution 20, back in 2008. Think about that for a minute. He’s one of the longest tenured stars on the roster, and he’s just hitting the prime of wrestling career.
Eryk Masters: Well, whatever the case may be, Stein could be leaving his tag team partner high and dry and Johnny Napalm has been very vocal about his feelings regarding the World Tag Team Title he holds.
Other Guy: It’s a shame that the man could lose his first title in SHOOT Project because his tag partner bails, but that’s the way the Big Guys ruled.
Suddenly, the guitar riff from “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by Scorpions rocks through the speakers of the arena.
Eryk Masters: Wait a second…
Other Guy: That’s…that’s Dan Stein’s first entrance music in SHOOT Project!
The fans jump to their feet as Stein’s original entrance video is shown on the SHOOTron, highlighting his Sky High Cup II tour, and time in TTW and OPW. The fans EXPLODE in boos, draining out the song. Stein waits until the chorus before walking out from the back, wearing a simple black SHOOT Project t-shirt and blue jeans with very ordinary sneakers. Molly, his Assistant, is unusually absent from his entrance, but he carries a microphone in his right hand and his World Tag Team Title belt on his left shoulder as he steps out onto the stage.
Other Guy: Looks like he’s here tonight to talk, not to fight.
Eryk Masters: And he’s underdressed for the occasion. Definitely not like that blasphemous entrance he had at Reckoning Day.
Stein looks around the arena with glistening eyes, taking in a deep breath before he moves down the ramp. The fans at his side are hostile, shouting at him as he passes. Stein doesn’t pay them any attention as he continues down to the ring, wasting none of the fans’ time, and ducks under the top rope.
Eryk Masters: Let’s see if he get THIS over quickly. Lord knows, everything is on HIS time. He is certainly on a mission tonight.
Other Guy: He hopes to go out like he came in, Eryk. With the fans on his side! The way it should be.
Stein stands in the middle of the ring while the noise dies down. Slowly, Dan puts the microphone to his mouth.
Dan Stein: I really don’t want to take up a lot of the time tonight so I’ll try to make this as quick as possible – I know you’ve all got some very important Master of the Mat matches to get back to.
The fans in the arena explode, causing Stein to smirk. Stein adjusts the belt on his shoulder.
Dan Stein: Awesome, that’s what wrestlers love to hear.
Stein looks at the crowd, then down to his sneakers, kicking an imaginary sand pile over with his toe.
Dan Stein: So, you’ve all heard the rumors, I’m sure. You’ve seen the dirt sheets, been on the internet, whatever. You know what this is all about, and the truth to all of the rumors of my SHOOT Project demise is this.
Stein takes a deep breath, collecting himself. The pause allows the favorite chant of the fans to start up.
Stein looks out at the fans, smirking at the chant. He shakes his head, putting the microphone back up to his mouth.
Dan Stein: I have to go.
The fans EXPLODE at the news.
Eryk Masters: FINALLY! It’s confirmed!
Other Guy: Man, would you get over whatever beef you two have? This is a world class athlete, give him some respect.
Stein pauses for a moment.
Dan Stein: I… I can’t give you what you want from me. When I first joined SHOOT Project, and I took on that dastardly Roland Caldwell, that was when you were most happy. Truthfully…it was when I was most happy with myself, too.
Stein pauses. Shaking his head and looking down, his hand grips the leather around the faceplate of the belt. The fans boo Stein, causing him to take a breath.
Other Guy: Those words sound sincere, Masters.
Eryk Masters: Uh huh. I bet.
Dan Stein: I’ve been a pro wrestler since before my 18th birthday. I wrestled in OPW with a fake ID for Pete’s sake – I wasn’t even out of High School yet. And in these last 8 years, I’ve learned a lot from the guys in the back. Dave Hawkins.
The fans cheer.
Dan Stein: Del Carver.
A noticeably louder cheer.
Dan Stein: Jun Kenshin. All those guys in the back always told me that if I couldn’t look myself in the mirror and know that I was doing the right thing, that, well…I should just leave. So, I’m going to.
Eryk Masters: Hm. He’s showing a lot of class addressing those men like that
Other Guy: Of course he is! He’s a human being on his last breath in SHOOT Project!
Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na
Hey, Hey, Hey,
A section of the fans starts the chant, but it quickly picks up steam. Stein has no choice but to sit back and listen for a moment. Stein sighs, and exhales through his mouth, putting the microphone back to his mouth.
Dan Stein: The things I’ve done in recent history…that makes me feel like…like I turned my back on my family. You ALL know that I lost mine, back before I joined SHOOT Project. Most of you already know this, but my mom and my dad, they passed away when I was wrestling.
Stein wipes his hand over his eyes, clearing up the beginnings of tears. The fans are unsure how to respond.
Dan Stein: But you guys, you’re my family, and I’ve been really, really shitty to you guys lately. I’m sorry. I did everything I could in SHOOT Project, and I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to get us to the top of the mountain, but we came close. We came damn close. But Donovan King, he’s a true champion. He’ll be there for you, for all of you, now and in the future. He’s strong; Dependable. Hell, the guy went through two of SHOOT Project’s BEST to hold onto his belt, just two weeks ago. He’s the King in SHOOT Project. Anyone steps up that you don’t think deserves it from Master of the Mat? King will put them down. Be ASSURED of that.
Other Guy: A lot of respect being shown by Dan Stein to endorse the World Champion like that.
The fans cheer the praise for King. Stein has to move on to keep himself from tearing up.
Dan Stein: Tonight, I’m turning in my half of the SHOOT Project World Tag Team Championships, and because of that, Johnny Napalm could very well lose his half.
The fans cheer at the news, causing Stein to hold up a hand to calm them with a smirk.
Dan Stein: Now, now. He’s a champion and a deserving one at that. The man won these belts for us, pinned Lunatikk Crippler and put Alex Brooks down with a Napalm Bomb. He’s deserving.
The fans boo. Stein smirks, shaking his head.
Dan Stein: Well, despite what you all think of him, he’s become one of my best friends the last couple months, so I’m going to stay out here for his match, and we’re going to walk out of here as champions, together. The way that you all knew I should. What do you think about that?
A mixture of boos and cheers pour out from the fans. Stein nods and smiles.
Dan Stein: I can live with it.
Eryk Masters: Man. Stein…If you’re telling the truth…
Other Guy: There goes a good one. There goes a good one.
Dan ducks under the top rope of the side closest to the announce table, drops down to the floor and hands off his microphone.
The ring bell sounds a few times as the fans know what is next
Samantha Coil: This is a first round match in the Master of the Mat Tournament set for one fall!
When Samantha stops talking, the lights drop.
Eryk Masters: Oh, Jesus, I am not liking this guy even more now.
Other Guy: Since he grew a backbone?
Eryk Masters: No, since he decided to hold his half of the World Tag Team Championships hostage because Dan Stein is leaving!
"Absolute Zero" By Stone Sour kicks in and out from the back marches Johnny Napalm to a chorus of boos. Napalm has a smug look on his face as he looks out at the fans. He is wearing his "Fear Me" shirt, and on which the back reads "I Am Your Violent Savior".
Samantha Coil: Introducing first from South Boston, MA, accompanied to the ring by Selena, standing six foot nine inches tall, the Violent Savior of SHOOT… JOHNNY NAPAAAAALM!!!
Napalm stands at the top of the ramp with a briefcase that contains his tag title belt. He raises the devil horns in the air holding the steel briefcase, soaking in all the boos and heat he is receiving. Napalm walks down to the ring with Selena in tow. Napalm slides in and barks something to Samantha Coil. Coil announces with obvious disdain.
Samantha Coil: He is also the LONE REMAINING SHOOT Project World Tag Team Champion!
The crowd boos at the remark as Napalm looks out at his tag partner with a scowl.
Eryk Masters: NAPALM IS NOT THE TAG TEAM CHAMPION, STEIN IS RETIREING AND HE IS HOLDING THE BELT HOSTAGE!
Other Guy: Why are you so obsessed with that Eryk? Stein still holds his half of the titles. Napalm isn’t retiring. I would like to see someone take that belt from him in the mood he is in.
Eryk Masters: It does not hide the fact he has no tag team partner anymore and refuses to give the title to the front office.
Other Guy: Okay, tough guy. You try to take the belt from him.
Eryk Masters: You’re right. You know what? I think I’ll stay here.
Napalm points out at Dan Stein one more time before Selena calls his attention away. Napalm walks to the ropes and Selena grabs Napalm’s face to whisper something to him.
Samantha Coil: And his opponent…
As Napalm nods, “If I Was Your Vampire” by Marilyn Manson replaces Napalm’s music! The fans in the arena IMMEDIATELY respond to the music with boos.
Eryk Masters: The fans don’t know who to get behind in this match! One man holding a title hostage, the other bringing the fight to a champion!
Other Guy: This match is SHOOT Project World Tag Team Champion going up against the Number One Contender to the Iron Fist Championship, Eryk. It’s an exposé on brutality!
Kincaid walks from the back with somewhat more of a strut after his big pick up at Revolution 108.
Eryk Masters: Kincaid certainly has a long career ahead of him here in SHOOT Project, I’ll give you that.
Other Guy: Both men want to become World Heavyweight Champion, Eryk. Let’s see who wants it more!
Kincaid ducks under the ring ropes, turning to the fans with his hands raised.
Samantha Coil: Currently in the ring, he is the Number One Contender to the SHOOT Project Iron Fist Champion…standing six foot, four inches tall… KIIIIINCAAAAAAAAAAAAAID!
Dennis Heflin finishes checking Johnny Napalm’s gear before heading to Kincaid to do the same. Kincaid points at Napalm, yelling something at him from across the ring!
Eryk Masters: I think Kincaid is trying to tempt the beast there!
Other Guy: Not like Napalm needs any more motivation, he’s already out to prove his claim to the title he holds!
Heflin steps back from Kincaid, checks to make sure that Napalm’s attention is on Kincaid and not Dan Stein, and then turns to Mark Kendrick, calling for the bell!
Eryk Masters: And we’re off!
Napalm and Kincaid march at each other to the center of the ring! Kincaid ducks a HUGE swing from Napalm, and quickly turns around, spinning Napalm around to face him. Kincaid slams a boot into Napalm’s gut, doubling him over and just as quickly grabs Napalm’s head and SLAMS him to the ground with a swinging neck breaker!
Eryk Masters: Kincaid brought the big man down with a thud!
Other Guy: Kincaid’s no slouch himself, Masters!
Kincaid looks out to the fans with a cocky smile for a moment, walking over to the fallen Tag Team Champion.
Eryk Masters: Well, it certainly seems Kincaid remembers his upcoming title shot!
Other Guy: Let the guy have some fun, Masters!
Kincaid grabs Napalm by the shoulder, putting his knee in the big man’s back and wrenching back on the man’s arm. Napalm screams out in pain as Heflin checks in. Kincaid looks out to the fans and sticks his tongue out at them, wrenching back harder! Napalm looks out at the ropes, trying to drag Kincaid with him for a rope break. Kincaid senses the man moving and slams an elbow into his upper back, stopping the man. Stepping back, Kincaid grabs Napalm’s head flips forward, bringing Napalm down with a snap neck breaker!
Eryk Masters: Kincaid working on the upper-back and neck area of the big man, hoping to neutralize the strength factor!
Other Guy: And looking sharp as he’s doing it!
Kincaid sits up and shakes his finger out at the fans. Napalm rolls on the mat, clutching his neck as Kincaid makes his way to him, grabbing Napalm and pulling him up to his feet by his hair! Napalm stands now and Kincaid leans him back against the ropes, then WHIPS him across the ring. As Napalm storms back across, Kincaid runs at him, throwing a HUGE shoulder in Napalm.
Eryk Masters: Napalm is staggered!
Other Guy: But he’s still on his feet!
Napalm swings his hands to regain his balance, but Kincaid is too quick and bounces off the ropes once more, launching ANOTHER shoulder into the big man. Napalm staggers backwards and falls against ropes, wrapping his arm around the top. Kincaid can’t help but turn to the fans and brush off his shoulder! He walks over to the World Tag Team Champion, dropping down for the pin!
Napalm kicks out! Kincaid grabs his hair in frustration but quickly gets to his feet and moves to grab Napalm’s head! He drags Napalm to the center of the ring, wrapping his arm around Napalm’s head and WRENCHING down on it, stomping for extra force. Napalm wraps his hand under Kincaid’s leg and attempts to lift him up, but Kincaid counters by grape-vining his foot in Napalm’s leg! Napalm tries one more time, but AGAIN it’s blocked! Kincaid senses a hold break and again decides to act first, throwing Napalm away. Kincaid takes a step and picks up his feet to run at Napalm… but Napalm throws a thumb into Kincaid’s eye! Heflin gets into Napalm’s face and reminds him that he’ll disqualify him!
Eryk Masters: Blatant cheap shot, Heflin!
Other Guy: Heflin gave him the warning! Cooler heads prevailed, Masters!
Kincaid attempts to regain vision in his eye as Napalm takes a moment to collect himself. As Kincaid turns back to the Violent Savior, Napalm CLOBBERS him with a clothesline, dropping Kincaid to the mat! Kincaid bounces back up, shocked, only to be greeted by ANOTHER bicep in the face! Kincaid tries one more time…but Napalm clotheslines him straight out of his boots! Kincaid falls into a heap upon himself! Napalm looks out of the ring and points at Stein who now sits beside the announce table.
Eryk Masters: Oh, c’mon, Napalm! You’ve got the upper hand! Stop showboating!
Other Guy: Especially to Dan Stein, what’s he trying to prove?
Eryk Masters: …is he tweeting?
Stein has his face buried in his phone, typing up a storm. Stein smiles, holding up his phone to the guys.
Other Guy: Yup. Commenting on your hair, it seems.
Selena yells for Napalm’s attention and points him toward Kincaid who rubs his jaw on the mat. Napalm locks his eyes on Kincaid and moves over to him quickly. Napalm drags Kincaid up to his feet, but is met with a HUGE European uppercut! AGAIN Napalm only staggers! Kincaid turns around to the fans, smiling and tapping his temple! Napalm stands behind him, obviously enraged!
Other Guy: Yeah, keep showboating, big guy.
Eryk Masters: Kincaid doesn’t know the impending doom behind him!
Kincaid smirks and turns around only for Napalm to pick him up HIGH in the air with a gorilla press! Kincaid kicks and tries to squirm his way down, but Napalm walks out from under Kincaid, dropping him to the mat! Sensing blood in the water, Napalm turns around as Kincaid rolls to the ropes! Napalm begins stomping on Kincaid’s stomach over and over!
Eryk Masters: Two weeks of aggression coming out on those kicks. That’s three hundred pounds of man stomping down on Kincaid’s ribs.
Other Guy: Absolutely devastating blows there!
Dennis Heflin steps in, beginning to count for Napalm to back off!
Napalm FINALLY stops just before the end of the five count! Heflin warns him one more time as Kincaid curls up against the ropes! Napalm looks out at the fans, causing them to erupt in boos! Johnny HAWKS a MASSIVE spit-wad straight out at them, spraying the front the front row.
Johnny Napalm drops down and covers Kincaid!
Kincaid kicks out! Napalm slaps the mat, trying to get the count sped up! Napalm pushes off the mat and gets to his feet. Heflin steps back and Napalm walks toward Kincaid, pulling himself up by the ropes. Napalm clubs Kincaid’s back, bringing him back down to a knee, then another dropping the man down to the mat! Napalm drops down with an elbow drop to the man’s back!
Eryk Masters: ALL of the weight on Kincaid’s back!
Other Guy: Kincaid looks like ran over road kill out there right now!
Napalm steps back, motioning for Kincaid to get up! Kincaid again drags himself to his feet with the ropes, turning and leaning back. Napalm walks forward and lifts his foot high for a big boot…
Eryk Masters: Desperation dragon screw whip!
Other Guy: Kincaid takes the big man down!
Kincaid and Napalm are both on the mat now, looking around
Eryk Masters: Who’s going to get up first!
Other Guy: Which man wants it more? Which man is going to capitalize?!
Kincaid begins to stir now, watching as Napalm favors his back. Kincaid grabs the second rope and drags himself up to his feet as Napalm rests on his hands and knees. The man with a shot at the Iron Fist belt axe handle slams Napalm down to the mat, then straddles the man’s body. Kincaid throws Napalm’s arms over his knees, sitting back on Napalm’s lower back and pulls back, WRENCHING on Napalm’s head!
Eryk Masters: Camel clutch! Napalm looks to be on the verge of tapping out!
Other Guy: Looks like Kincaid having trouble with the big man’s size, Masters!
Kincaid feels his fingers slipping and clubs Napalm across the face with a forearm! Kincaid drops Napalm, who rolls around on the mat, grabbing his face. Kincaid smirks out at the fans before moving to the turnbuckle!
Eryk Masters: Since when does Kincaid do high risk moves?
Other Guy: He’s got a shot at the Iron Fist Champion, he’ll do what he wants!
Kincaid climbs to the top turnbuckle, looking down at Napalm before standing up tall on the top, stretching out his arms! Kincaid looks over at Dan Stein and waves “good-bye” to him!
Other Guy: He looks like a wrestling angel up there, Masters!
Eryk Masters: He looks like a show-boater!
Napalm stops rolling around JUST as Kincaid leaps off the top rope! Kincaid drops a knee down…BUT NAPALM MOVES! Kincaid hits mat! In obvious pain, Kincaid dances around the middle of the ring holding his knee! Napalm sees the opening and SLAMS a boot into the gut!
Eryk Masters: Napalm Bomb!
Other Guy: DEVASTATING FORCE!
Samantha Coil: YOUR WINNER AND ADVANCING IN THE MASTER OF THE MAT TOURNAMENT, THE VIOLENT SAVIOR…JOHNNYYYYYY NAAPAAAAAALMMMMMM!
Eryk Masters: Napalm just quit Kincaid like a bad habit!
Other Guy: And ruined his winning streak in SHOOT Project! Kincaid’s going to go into his match with Thomas Manchester Black with a little less momentum, but don’t count him out yet!
Napalm rolls out of the ring, looking over at Stein. Dan claps for his former partner, smiling. Selena grabs Napalm’s arm and turns him around, trying to keep the peace! The camera fades as Stein puts his hands on his hips and shakes his head at the upset Napalm.
We cut to the back where we see Chance Ryan slinging his duffel bag on his shoulder. He waves to a producer as he marches from the Epicenter. He shakes his head as he walks through the backstage hallways. He looks up at the exit sign and walks towards the door but he is sudden GRABBED from behind and SLAMMED through the door! He falls on the ground in the parking deck through the door and cradles his head. The fans start to alarmingly boo when THE BAD ASS BROTHERHOOD march through the door.
Charles Brandon Magnus: You okay, Chance?
Buck rolls his eyes as he picks Chance up by the collar of his shirt. He pulls Chance back and LEVELS him with a short arm clothesline! The fans boo once again as Buck looks around and sees an old school Carolina blue Ford Thunderbird.
Buck Dresden: Whose car is that right there, Chuck?
Magnus glances over to the Thunderbird.
Charles Brandon Magnus: I think it’s Mr. Kygon’s.
Buck Dresden: Hey, Chance.
Buck picks him up off of the ground and drags him to the Thunderbird.
Buck Dresden: All you’ve done is fuck around with us in our legendary tenure as champions. You fucked with us the whole time we was champs. That I can forgive.
He SLAMS Chance’s head into the hood of the car.
Buck Dresden: You tryna censor me? That I can forgive.
He SLAMS Chance’s head down once again.
Buck Dresden: But when you walked out after that interview? You didn’t say goodbye.
Buck shrugs and quickly locks Chance into the BUCK SHOT and LEVELS him into the hood, bending it in so deep Chance is PLANTED firmly.
Buck Dresden: An’ THAT…that’s just disrespectful.
Buck brushes his hands as Magnus cups his hands against his cheeks as if he were Macaulay Culkin. Buck walks past Magnus and kicks Chance’s duffel bag as he walks back into the building. Magnus walks over to Chance and pokes him in the shoulder a few times, causing Chance to groan in pain. Magnus breathes a sigh of relief that Chance isn’t dead and he scurries off after Buck, leaving Chance rooted to the metal hood of the Thunderbird.
Your fear it moves me.
Your weakness I taste.
I breathe you, I hate you.
You course through my veins.
The lights dim down for a moment and an explosion of pyro signals the entrance of Tanya Black who stands on the stage looking mesmerized for a moment as she soaks in the boos of the fans, dressed not in her ring gear but in boots, jeans, and a t-shirt declaring DOMINION LIVES.
You want me. You love me.
And I hate myself.
I need you, but I hate you.
‘Cause I want nothing else.
Eryk Masters: Here she comes ladies and gentlemen. Tanya Black won big at Reckoning Day and she’s entered into the Master Of The Mat tournament.
Other Guy: That’s true. She went into a steel cage with Chance Ryan and despite his wrath and anger, Tanya was the one who won the day by being a little tougher and a little crueler.
And I bleed you since I’ve healed you.
Your pain escapes through me.
‘Cause I breathe you, but I hate you.
‘Cause they say we could never be.
They can’t see.
As Die For You continues to play the arena watches as Tanya Black begins walking to the ring, every step seeming to awaken her more and more, her look going from vacant to determination. Sliding into the ring Tanya Black moves to the middle and holds her arms out to the sides as she leans her head back.
It seems the pain’s been traded,
Since I pulled you through.
And now my mind’s been so jaded.
And I would kill myself for you.
I’d die for you.
With her music dying down Tanya Black calls for a steel chair and a microphone. Once she has it Tanya sets the chair up in the middle of the ring, sitting backwards in it as the microphone is verified to be working.
Tanya: Ladies and Gentlemen, the good news is I am at one hundred percent healthy and powerful after getting in one HELL of a fight at Reckoning Day!
The fans boo a bit but Tanya simply ignores them for a moment as she lets the heat die down.
Tanya: Oh come on. I even wore my sexy cowboy boots for you guys. I haven’t worn these in AGES. Fine boo me. Party Poopers. I don’t care because I have something special going on tonight.
Eryk Masters: Please let’s not discuss her special plans. They aren’t good news for anyone but Tanya.
Other Guy: Pessimist. I heard she spent all day hanging around the Epicenter willing to talk to any fans who are respectful to her.
Tanya: First things first. Chance, you wanted a match with me. You got it. You beat me up quite a bit. I hope you’re happy now because I respect you and frankly if I have to destroy anyone’s career here in SHOOT, I don’t want it to be you.
There’s a small pop at that but most of the fans are still leery of Tanya and her intentions. Playing with her hair Tanya waits for them to all pay attention to her again before she speaks.
Tanya: But onto the future. See Master Of The Mat has begun! And this year Tanya Black has been entered into it. In fact at Dominion’s big return to the airwaves you will see me compete against, for the first time in SEVENTEEN MONTHS, Maya Nakashima!
The fans pop huge at the match announcement and an audible Maya chant begins Tanya clapping along as she sits there looking like nothing bothers her.
Tanya: Indeed. A perfect start as I finish some old business that has been lingering too long. But more importantly than that is this. I’ve thought long and hard about the whole Master Of The Mat thing and what it means to me. How much of an honor it is to win the whole thing. For that I make a vow to all of you:
Tanya Black is going to fight every match fair and square.
No cheating, no dirty moves, nothing but pure wrestling talent. I’ll still beat the holy piss out of everyone who steps in my ring every round. But it will be honorable beatings of mucho ass-kicking.
Eryk Masters: That’s a hell of an announcement! Tanya wants to win Master of the Mat properly.
Other Guy: That will be an accomplishment she can brag on for the rest of her life if she does. The brackets this year are stacked.
The fans honestly pop a little bit at this though there is still a fair share of boos. Tanya simply smiles and lets the fans have their time before she speaks again.
Tanya: Oh there is one other reason. See there are some… legends in this match. Icons. And we all know I just love to stick it to the legends. Humiliating them in the ring is fun to me. It’s my bread and butter. But more importantly than that is there are some other beings in the tournament. I can’t call them people. Not after Reckoning Day. I speak of Project: SCAR.
Arena-wide boos for this one and Tanya boos along even standing up to egg the fans on to boo even louder for the stable she just name-dropped.
Tanya: I may not have a sympathetic bone in my body during a match. Hey if you are a trained wrestler and you step into a match, your fate is sealed. We both know the rules. We both have the potential to tear the other apart. I know my choice. If you hold back that is your problem. I may think that Adrian Corazon deserves the beating he took in the match. I may even think he deserved to have Obsidian chokeslam him. Let’s face it. Everything SCAR has done is on Adrian’s head. He let them in. He let Isaac take control and dictate their plan. Adrian deserves pain and humiliation.
But he doesn’t deserve Fire. No human being deserves that. It has nothing to do with wrestling. That was sick and deranged and I’m still disgusted over the whole affair.
That’s why I will fight pure. I will strive to become Master Of The Mat to keep it from Project: SCAR. I will do it as a wrestler. No outside the ring pyromaniac tendencies. No acts of demonic defacing. No mind games. I will teach Project: SCAR that real power, real legacies are made from actually wrestling. I am not a hero striving to save SHOOT Project’s soul and restore it to how it was before you all arrived. I have my own plans for it. The New Revolution lives. It fights.
I am a cruel bitch in this ring. But I’m a fair fighter. If we match up in the brackets, I will outwrestle SCAR or die trying. I am a martyr for them. The ones who hide amongst the crowd of sheep. The educated have awakened.
With that the camera pans around and we see several small groups amongst the crowd. Each group has over a dozen fans. Each group wearing Tanya Black’s t-shirt proudly. As they do this Tanya Black stands up and folds up the chair. Lifting it up high Tanya slams the chair on the mat several times.
Tanya: Wrestling Is Returning To SHOOT Project. I fight because I enjoy wrestling as a competitive sport. That’s the New Revolution. No Heroes, No Villains. No Fire, No Failed Romance Drama. The Sinister Syndicate does not endorse blaming the fans for their allegiances, it praises those who raise the bar in the ring and not outside of it.
We do not interrupt champions and tell them we have already earned Number One Contendership Status. We take titles by being too dominant to ignore. The words are reaching the fans. The fans are responding. I call on all the wrestlers who care about wrestling as a sport to join the Syndicate. If you want to focus on business and not being friends, or pushing an agenda of terrorism. Join The New Revolution. We aren’t SHOOT, We aren’t SCAR. We are the Sinister Syndicate. We are The Third Army.
With that Tanya Black leaves the ring her music kicking up again as the fans give off a mixed reaction to her speech, unsure what the future holds and what she wants from the company.
Eryk Masters: There you go folks. Tanya Black wants to ride her momentum straight through Master Of The Mat and beyond. She won’t be stopped.
Other Guy: The question is will she gain more in-ring allies to go with these fans who apparently like her way of doing things as well. I bet Chance Ryan will have something to say about this.
The fans are abuzz as the scene shifts to the backstage area, where we see SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion DONOVAN KING walking through the locker room area. He has his hood pulled down, a small smile on his face, and the World Championship on his shoulder. King slaps the hand of a nearby road agent before he turns the corner to his private locker room. He stares at the door and chuckles to himself as he looks at the nameplate at eye level. King opens the door and he immediately freezes, his eyes narrowing.
Standing in his locker room, watching the door and locking eyes with King, is DAN STEIN. There is a silence between the two of them for a moment before King finally speaks.
Donovan King: I thought this thing here got settled at Reckoning Day. You need somethin’?
Stein adjusts the title belt on his own shoulder, smirking at the Champ.
Dan Stein: Yeah, I guess you could say I do. I have something to tell you. In fact, in spite of my busy schedule, I’ve been waiting in here for the last twenty minutes to make sure you heard it from me before anyone else.
Dan takes a step forward, closing some of the distance between the two men. Stein takes a deep breath.
Dan Stein: I’m sorry.
King cocks his head to the side, staring at Stein with a rather bewildered expression.
Donovan King: Pardon my confusion.
King’s head snaps from left to right.
Donovan King: I don’t…THINK I see Napalm around here. Are you…seriously in this room on your own? One on one? With me? To apologize for something?
Stein chuckles to himself and holds up his hands as he scans the room.
Dan Stein: Just me.
Stein puts his left hand back on the faceplate of the title on his right shoulder.
Dan Stein: Did you see what I said out there?
King remains silent, glaring at Stein.
Dan Stein: I’m gonna go with no.
He clears his throat.
Dan Stein: I’ve been thinking about it for some time now, man, even if it seems like it was a just huge joke – the whole… retirement thing, you know? And, I mean…I saw that fire in your eyes at Reckoning Day. I saw that drive you have, and it made me realize that…fuck, man, I hate to say it, but I just don’t have it in me anymore. I don’t have what you have.
King moves to interject, but Stein throws up his hand to stop the man.
Dan Stein: N-no. I know. Not a lot of guys do, hell, maybe nobody else on God’s green earth has the passion you do; that’s why you’re champion, right? But, man. I’m Dan Stein, you know? Anything that I put my heart to, I go out and get. You’ve heard the accolades, I’ve made SURE you’ve heard the accolades. I’m a winner. But getting into the ring with you…just made me realize that I’m not in wrestling for myself. That’s not to say that if my heart was in it I would’ve laid you down. I’m just saying…my HEART isn’t in wrestling anymore, Donovan.
Dan Stein: So, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I took the Redemption Rumble spot from someone that could’ve used it, that NEEDED it to show that they had what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with Donovan King. I’m sorry that I spent so much time on the outside of the ring my last few months, I should’ve paid rent to the ring apron. You deserved… more…in an opponent than what I could give to you. You deserved a second Lunatikk Crippler in that ring. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be that guy, and I’m sorry I didn’t recognize it sooner.
King looks around once more before he sighs.
Donovan King: You won the Rumble because you earned it. I didn’t like that you did it, but you got the tag belts, you’ve been on a tear, so I’m not a fuckin’ idiot to assume you lucked into the spot you’re in.
He bristles as he says these things aloud.
Donovan King: You takin’ your ball an’ goin’ home usually would piss me off. Think it was a trick or some shit.
He takes a step forward.
Donovan King: You’re for real, huh? You put all your eggs in one basket wit’ Reckoning Day an’ by hook or by crook, it didn’t land the way you wanted…nah, you NEEDED it to.
King lets out another sigh.
Donovan King: So what do you do? Where do you go?
Dan Stein: It wasn’t so much that I needed something land one way or another; I’ve been in the business for far too long to know think one match is the end-all-be-all. I hold myself to the same standards you do, King. I’m not going to stick around if my heart is not in it anymore, just like I know that you wouldn’t stay in the ring if you weren’t performing at tip top shape, be it ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, whatever. It’s just…my time, you know? But, you’re right. Where do I go from here?
Stein strikes an exaggerated thinker pose, flexing his bicep for the camera.
Dan Stein: Hmm… I don’t know. Some place with hot women and adoring fans…but one where I won’t have to worry about the…
Stein gestures to his face.
Dan Stein: Money maker.
Chuckling, Stein stretches his back out, causing the shirt to reveal the definition. Stein laughs once.
Dan Stein: Nah, man. I’ve been in talks with magazines, still got that underwear deal, might even out produce Lazarus in the box office, I don’t know. I just know that…well, you won’t find me in a wrestling ring for a long, long time.
Donovan King: Truthfully? I don’t know what you want me to say. You’ve been my ally, you were almost my friend, you were my rival, then you became my enemy. You an’ me, we’ve ran the gamut. I stand here now listenin’ to you tellin’ me this and I wanna be thankful, but I also wanna feel sorry.
He glances down at the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship belt. The face plate glistens in the light of the room as he places it upon his shoulder.
Donovan King: I came here to help lead a new era tonight, Dan. I thought you were a part of it. It fucks with me you won’t be, but I get it.
Stein nods, looking at the watch on his wrist. Stein smiles at King.
Dan Stein: Thanks, Donnie. You’ll find the new guard. You’re the one they listen to back here. You’re the ones all the boys and girls look up to, don’t worry about the new era – it’ll be stronger without me.
Stein sighs, taking a step past King.
Dan Stein: Keep in touch, King. Sons of Liberty gave me purpose. I won’t thank you enough for that.
Stein steps toward the door of the locker room, walking past King. King quickly grabs Stein’s arm, not allowing him to pass. Stein stops and the two men stare at one another before King releases Stein. He offers him his hand.
Donovan King: Good luck out there.
Stein takes the man’s hand and shakes it twice.
Dan Stein: You too, Champ.
Stein drops King’s hand politely and walks through the door, leaving the camera to focus on King.
An old fashioned, black and white film countdown rolls on the SHOOT Project Video Wall, the film flickering and a beep heard after every digit, unheard over the chorus of jeers from the crowd.
Lo Fidelity Allstars’s "Battleflag" plays overhead, and out from the back saunters Corey Lazarus with the hood flipped up on his entrance jacket. Corey smirks at the crowd, and the fanbase boos loudly in response.
Samantha Coil: Introducing first, hailing from Hollywood, California…he weighs in at 230lbs…THE HOLLYWOOD KID, COREY LAZARUS!!!
Eryk Masters: The Hollywood Kid looks to be in chiseled shape tonight. He’s been pretty quiet leading up to this match, but we know he wants to advance in the Sin City Championship Series.
Other Guy: Laz stays busy; E. This is the man who very soon will be voicing BOOSTER GOLD! I don’t blame him for not responding to SCAR’s spoiled little princess of perversion, anyways. Would YOU want to have a lengthy conversation with Gaunt?
Eryk Masters: I’d rather jam sharpened pencils DEEPLY….into my eardrums.
Laz hops up onto the apron and slides into the ring, removing his jacket to wait for his opponent.
“Blood” by In This Moment sears through the Epicenter, and black & red rose petals begin to fall down from the rafters at the top of the ramp. Elizabeth Gaunt steps out from the curtains with her hands on her hips, wearing her black latex bodysuit and a brattish smile. The crowd EXPLODES with a negative reaction.
Samantha Coil: Introducing second, hailing from Coney Island, New York…she weighs in at 155lbs…representing PROJECT: SCAR…THE HELLCAT, ELIZABETH GAUNT!!!
Gaunt leans forward, touching her fingers to her pink lips only to blow condescending kisses to the fans that are showering her with hatred.
Other Guy: SCAR’s getting no love tonight, E.
Eryk Masters: Considering what they did at Reckoning Day…I’m not even remotely surprised. I didn’t think it was possible for SCAR to make themselves even more detestable than they already are…but they sure proved me wrong.
Other Guy: Let’s not forget Entragian just laying WASTE to Real Deal earlier tonight. We’ll keep you folks posted if we get an update on Hall of Famer’s condition later tonight.
Liz skips down the ramp and hops up onto the apron, proceeding to handspring forward and flip herself over the top rope before popping up to a vertical base.
Eryk Masters: This will be interesting, I’ll say that much. Lazarus is spectacular technical performer in the ring, and Gaunt is just so damn FAST and limber.
Gaunt and Laz stare each other down while Samantha Coil takes a moment to step forward with a microphone.
Samantha Coil: The following is a SIN CITY CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES match…scheduled for one fall!
Samantha leaves the ring, and we hear the bell ring with a loud clang, signaling that we are OFFICIALLY UNDERWAY!
Corey runs forward in an attempt to take Gaunt by surprise, but the young woman cartwheels to the side and bounces off the ropes, proceeding to DRILL Corey in the knee with a low dropkick. Corey get staggered down to one knee, and Gaunt promptly springboards up onto the second rope only to spin in midair and SNAP a scissor kick down across the back of Corey’s neck.
Corey goes down hard, and Gaunt tries for an early cover.
Corey shoulders out hard, and Gaunt rolls lithely to the side.
Other Guy: It’s so damn difficult just to get your HANDS on Liz…she bounces around that ring like a piece of flubber.
Eryk Masters: Gaunt’s fueled by way too much sugar and way too little sanity. She’s like the energizer bunny if he went on a seven day meth binge…
Lazarus climbs back up to his feet, and Gaunt hits the ropes and gets up a huge head of steam…but LAZ CATCHES HER WITH AN EXPLODER SUPLEX!!
Liz flies backwards like a broken ragdoll, and this time Laz goes for the cover.
Liz manages to kick out while holding her side.
Other Guy: That’s how quick Lazarus can turn the tide. He came THIS close to becoming the Sin City Champion at Reckoning Day for a reason.
Eryk Masters: Definitely a world-class athlete, OG.
Corey pulls Gaunt back up her feet, and he sends several hard knife-edge chops right into her chest…and then he irish whips her hard into the ropes, looking for a lariat on the rebound….but Gaunt ducks!
She hits the ropes again, but this time Lazarus LEVELS her with a yakuza kick to the head! Gaunt pitches forward, about to fall, but Corey catches her! Lazarus locks Gaunt up tight around the waist, and then he SMASHES her into the canvas with a high angle german suplex…and he bridges with a pinfall attempt!
Gaunt shoulders out once again, and Lazarus looks a little frustrated.
Other Guys: Corey wants to end this thing early here…but it seems to be getting a little frustrated.
Eryk Masters: Gaunt’s one tough cookie, OG. Admittedly she’s a rancid, hard-as-rock cookie…but she is tough.
Laz pulls Gaunt back up by her hair…but Liz breaks free and begins to crush open palm strikes into Laz’s torso. Lazarus is reeling backwards, and Liz starts in with nasty looking elbow strikes down, targeting the sides of Corey’s head. Corey staggers into one of the turnbuckles…and Gaunt leaps across the ring, performing a picture perfect back-flip that transitions into a MULE KICK!!
Gaunt’s boots connect with Corey’s face, and his head whips backwards violently with spit flying from his mouth. Liz then grabs Corey’s arm and flips him down to the canvas with an over the shoulder arm drag.
Laz lands hard, unmoving…and Gaunt takes that chance to hop up onto the nearest turnbuckle…ONLY TO FLY THROUGH THE AIR AND SMASH INTO LAZ WITH A CORKSCREW MOONSAULT!!
Gaunt pulls back on a leg hard AND grabs a handful of tights when the referee isn’t looking, her turquoise eyes crazy with excitement.
Corey kicks out at the last second, and Gaunt SHRIEKS like a cat in anger while pulling at her hair.
Other Guy: SO close. I’m surprised that didn’t put Lazarus away for good. Plus Gaunt tried her best to cheat her way to victory there…blatantly pulling on the tights.
Eryk Masters: Corey’s a ring general; OG….he knows when to keep himself alive when things are getting dodgy.
Gaunt pulls Lazarus back up to his feet…but he pushes away from her and he promptly moves in for the kill! Lazarus LEAPS towards Gaunt and looks to SMASH a roundhouse enzuigiri into her temple…BUT GAUNT FLIPS HERSELF BACKWARDS WITH A MATRIX-LIKE MOVE, AVOIDING THE CONTACT ENTIRELY!
Other Guy: Oh crap! Gaunt’s spine literally seemed to contort backwards and she evaded End Credits!!
Eryk Masters: That old carnival acrobat training is coming in handy here tonight…
Laz’s boot catches nothing but air, and he smashes right back down to the canvas…and the moment he gets up…Gaunt grabs him by the neck and SITS OUT WITH A STUNNER, LAZ’S FACE GETTING NAILED AGAINST HER SHOULDER!!
Other Guy: DEAD ORCHID!!! She snapped him down with that stunner!
Lazarus flips backwards from the torque of the stunner, and he lands awkwardly on the canvas.
Gaunt drops down quickly for a pinfall.
Samantha Coil: Here is your winner, at a time of eight minutes and twenty three seconds….THE HELLCAT, ELIZABETH GAUNT!!!
Gaunt immediately gets to her feet and she begins JUMPING up and down with glee while screaming out “I WIN, I WIN” over and over again.
Eryk Masters: A win for Gaunt. Yay.
Other Guy: I note a distinct lack of excitement in your voice, E.
Eryk Masters: She has the sportsmanship skills of a cheerleader with tourettes syndrome. Since she won this match, I wonder if it would be possible to reward her with a lifetime supply of Ritalin?
Gaunt is currently pressing an “L” into her forehead while enunciating the word “LOSEERRRRRRRRR” at Lazarus’s barely conscious body, much to the chagrin of the crowd.
Other Guy: Uh…yeah. I’d cosign on the Ritalin.
Eryk Masters: Well, as much as I hate to say it, the story here is that Gaunt advances in the Sin City Championship Series. The Series rolls on, folks…and we’re getting closer and closer to the finals.
The scene cuts out with Gaunt twirling a lock of her hair and batting her eyelashes innocently, that mean-spirited little grin still plastered across her lips.
Stein is walking down a service slash delivery ramp outside the Epicenter with the SHOOT Project World Tag Team Championship belt on his shoulder. From behind him he hears his name ring out.
Loco Martinez: Dan! YO DAN! DANNY BOY!
He stops and turns to see his longtime friend, Loco Martinez scurrying down the ramp hoping to catch Stein before he vanishes forever.
Loco Martinez: Dude. Hold up.
Stein stops in his tracks, recognizing the voice. With the camera at his back, Stein wipes his eyes and brushes his hand off on his pants before turning around.
Dan Stein: Dudeman! What’s up? Fancy catching you here, y’know…on my way out the door as you’re heading back in it.
Stein adjusts the title on his shoulder, smirking at his Sky High bunk buddy.
Loco Martinez: Heh, crazy how things change, but you know? A few weeks back YOU gave me some sound advice. Your delivery may have been lacking.
Loco flashes a smirk and wink. Stein grins, lifting himself up off the ground with a calf raise.
Loco Martinez: But the message was true. You were right, Dan. So I’m here… HOPING I can return the favor. Don’t go. The things you said out in that ring? Those feelings. That passion you have? All of it is still in you. Sure. You messed up. You strayed off the path and had a hard time looking at yourself in the mirror. I know that feeling. I’ve been there… recently. If you leave NOW, when you’re at your peak? You’re going to regret it. You called them, no… US… your family. You can’t leave your family like this, man.
Stein lowers his head to the ground for a moment, taking in the words spoken to him. Stein looks back at Loco, placing his hand on his hip.
Dan Stein: It’s not like that, man. ‘Regret’ is a great word there. There are a lot of things I regret in this world. A lot of things I wish I would’ve done differently, sure. Knocking you out of the first Sky High, for instance.
Stein jabs Loco’s arm playfully.
Dan Stein: But the fact of the matter is that what’s going on up in my head…it’s clarity. I know what I’m feeling right now. I know that if I were to TRY and go out, to be the man that the fans want me to be – the man that I want myself to be? I’ll end up looking like a fool. I’ll be the next Justin Moreno, man. I don’t want that. YOU don’t want that for me.
Stein sighs with a smirk.
Dan Stein: Nah, man. There are a lot of things I regret, but who am I to take up a spot that workhorses like Ja Gi Kyung-Moon, Kincaid, the new blood deserve? I’m nobody special. I thought I was…
Loco frowns at this.
Loco Martinez: Listen man. People have come back from far worse. Especially in this industry. You are nobody special? That’s a lie. Everyone in that building behind us KNOWS better. I… KNOW… BETTER.
Stein exhales deeply.
Dan Stein: Thanks, man. That means a lot to me, coming from you – not my friend, but my friend the LEGEND.
Loco flinches at the use of the word “Legend” as Stein pats him on the shoulder.
Dan Stein: But it’s done. Tomorrow at Dominion, I’m turning in this belt and I’m heading out the door. Maybe this is just one of my sabbaticals, maybe I’ll just hit up some sex shack over in Germany – I hear Goeren’s opening up a SHOOT Project casino in Berlin.
Stein winks at the camera.
Dan Stein: I might be back sooner than anyone thinks. But…I have to go. I have to go.
The sincerity in Stein’s words ring true to Loco. He begrudgingly nods.
Loco Martinez: I, of ALL people, can understand NEEDING to get away. I just wanted to make sure that YOU know you have friends, and that there isn’t anything you can’t come back from, and nothing you can’t accomplish in that ring. I hope I’m seeing you sooner, rather than later.
Loco throws his arms around Stein in a huge bear hug. Stein’s feet come off the ground and dangle for a moment, causing him to chuckle. Loco drops Stein back to the ground.
Dan Stein: You will, Broski. You will.
Stein places his hand back on Loco’s shoulder for a second before turning around to continue to walk down the ramp. Loco watches his friend walk down the ramp and toward the Hummer that brings Stein to and from the Epicenter. Suddenly, from in front of one of the production trucks runs a tall, massive figure. Johnny Napalm.
Loco Martinez: Stein, watch out!
Loco calls out, watching Napalm absolutely DECIMATE Stein with a forceful shove. Stein smashes into the trailer of the truck, COLLAPSING to the ground in pain and throwing his belt onto the pavement. Napalm turns his head to Loco, who sprints down the ramp towards them. Johnny picks up Stein’s title belt and turns to the camera, holding up the belts.
Johnny Napalm: Hey, SHOOT Project. You want these belts? Come and take them!
Napalm backs up as Loco reaches Stein and squats down to attend to him. Loco glares towards Napalm briefly. The camera fades as Napalm turns around and walks away, both titles over his shoulder.
Eryk Masters: WHOA! A moment between friends absolutely ruined by the violent pride of Johnny Napalm. Absolutely disgusting!
Other Guy: Someone get out there and look at Stein! Did you see how hard Napalm threw him against that semi?
Eryk Masters: Napalm is going about defending his title reign in all the wrong ways! Fans, we’ve got to keep moving on, but rest assured you’ll be updated with the health of Dan Stein as soon as anything is released, either here or on SHOOTProject.com
Other Guy: That is definitely NOT the way Dan Stein deserves to go out. Not at all.
The camera fades inside the hushed arena.
The lights cut out in Sin City, plunging the Epicenter into the depths of darkness.
A solitary image appears on the SHOOT Project video wall.
It’s the SHOOT Project Helmet inked into a man’s flesh, that flesh burning, the skin charring and blackening. Blood turns to ash, and defilement reigns.
With this horrific image playing on a loop, “Black Session” by Katatonia scorches through the arena, jagged melodies signaling the arrival of one of the most infamous groups to ever desecrate the SHOOT Project roster.
The ENTIRE Project: SCAR contingent steps out from behind the curtains, Obsidian, Isaac, and Kenji in the middle, with Flay flanking them on one side and Gaunt on the other. Obsidian’s face is an impassive mask obscured by tangled locks of hair; and Kenji’s expression is as ruthless as ever. Isaac favors the crowd with a great white shark grin, his toxic green eyes shining especially bright.
Eryk Masters: FILTH. That is what these men and women are, OG. They should be ashamed to even show their faces here tonight after what they did at Reckoning Day.
Other Guy: They might regret showing up, E. There are some MAJOR stirrings in the back thanks to how Day 1 of RD concluded. Jason Johnson is reportedly furious with this group, and he’s been bogged down trying to play damage control with various media outlets ever since that segment aired.
Eryk Masters: Oh believe me, I know. OutKast and Real Deal, both men heavily involved in the backstage side of SHOOT, plan to drop the hammer on these sick bastards tonight. The term “make an example out of them” has been thrown around quite a bit behind those curtains, and rest assured, folks…you’re gonna see consequences tonight.
All five members of SCAR begin to stalk down the ramp, the booing in the Epicenter breaking ENTIRELY new records for SHOOT Project programming, the fans so worked into a frenzy you fear they might leap the guard rails to hand SCAR a little vigilante justice.
Erick, Isaac, and Kenji all walk at a confident, deliberate pace, and Flay just shuffles meekly along while Gaunt skips happily down the ramp.
The members of SCAR enter the ring, and Obsidian is the first one to snatch up a microphone. The bearded desert beast stares out at the crowd, his expression seeming more PRIMAL than it’s ever been before.
Eryk Masters: Oh yeah, I’d LOVE to hear what this man has to say for himself. He’s the one that practically fed his former best friend to the slavering wolf pack he now calls his “family.”
Obsidian stands there, silent. He grasps the microphone tightly in his hand as he watches the fans jeering. After a beat, he brings the microphone to his lips.
Obsidian: My heart…
The boos drown him right back out, and he drops the microphone with a sigh. He lets the boos die down and finally begins to speak once more.
Obsidian: My heart is broken. You needn’t believe my pain, it is a hate I understand too well. My heart has always stood for what it believed, firm and loyal. Eventually, my heart grew black, cold, and hunted for the evils in the world to purge itself. My heart, my beautiful, fragile heart…grew too big for what it beat for.
He turns to Isaac for a moment.
Obsidian: I cannot be asked to choose my family, and to do so damns me to everlasting agony. We are on a collision course to Hell, the lot of us. I stand before you now the shepherd of that damnation. As my heart hurts, Adrian…my beloved Adrian…convalesces as his flesh heals. You cannot know what I have done, none of you. NONE of you know this. To look in the eyes of the man who I swore loyalty with…and…
He turns back to Isaac for another moment.
Obsidian: …and to look in the eyes of this man who I also swore my loyalty to. I am the Scourge of SCAR that flagellates the weak before they are paraded through the streets and hung before the masses to rot in the midday sun. Adrian deserves better than what he has afforded himself. His shortsighted ambitions thrust him into Tartarus. I told Adrian. I told him that we deserve to die for what we have done.
He pushes a grin across his face as though it were made of stone.
Obsidian: He was just unaware the depths of my actions. Tonight marks a new beginning. A beginning of an end. Those who have challenged Isaac Entragian…Diamond Del Carver…Jaime Alejandro…Adrian Corazon…are all gone. Broken. Defeated. Buried with no ceremony. There is no one who can challenge his glory, his or Kenji’s or Elizabeth’s or even dear Flay’s, and those that dare have but to step forth…and face my wrath. Kenji, Flay, Elizabeth…we are, all of us, filled with love. Filled…with hope. Our cancer has been burned away. Now and forever…SCAR…rises.
Kenji steps forward, with Flay shuffling behind him trying to keep her distance from the other members of Project: SCAR.
Kenji: We never wanted it to end like this; I never wanted it to end like this. But Corazon gave us no other choice, no other option than to cast him out. When he came to me, asking me to rebel against Isaac… what did he really think was going to happen? That I would side with him; a man who turned his back on me at every turn, rebelled against me and my BROTHERS at every turn. He attacked me time and time again, and it was Isaac who always brought me back, always made me look past his treacherous schemes and forgive him, for the greater good of SCAR.
Kenji slowly nods his head towards the ground.
Kenji: The greater good… that is why we had to burn Corazon at Reckoning Day. Because Corazon was the tumor, Corazon was the cancer, and Corazon was the disease eating away at Project: SCAR. An apathetic little worm digging its way into SCAR, trying to cause a divide. For the greater good of the cause Isaac and I started, Corazon had to be sacrificed. Corazon made his bed, and now… he burns in it.
Flay tries to grip onto Kenji’s shoulder, looking back towards Elizabeth who is taunting her. Kenji snaps her forward, kicking her knees and forcing her into a kneeling position, resting his foot on her spine putting her on all fours.
Kenji: And let the bed Corazon burns in be a firm warning to the rest of you… Soldiers… back there. We are Project: SCAR. We are WHOLE. We are coming… for all of you.
Gaunt hops forward next with microphone in hand, pausing to giggle against her palm while looking down at Flay in her position of humility.
Gaunt: Like, umm….why are you people so angry tonight? You silly, boring people. We gave you some sizzle AND some steak at Reckoning Day! It’s something you’ll all remember…forever.
Gaunt’s bratty grin spreads across her pink lips, and she plays with one end of her plaid skirt almost shyly.
Gaunt: We treated you all to a barbecue, and I’ve heard not even ONE thank you! BUT BUT…I got like over a million Twitter followers after Reckoning Day! And…only about six thousand and seven of them tweeted me death threats…
Gaunt bites her bottom lip, her eyes flitting from side to side playfully.
Gaunt: We’ve been….soooo BAD, SHOOT Project. Do we get a spanking??
Liz points her bum at the camera while giggling madly, her plaid-skirt covered tushie taking up the entire frame for a moment.
Finally…The Ivory Terror himself steps up to the forefront. Isaac seems almost to bask in the negative response that’s baking off of the Las Vegas crowd, to the point where it’s like he’s FEEDING on it.
He slowly brings a microphone up to his pallid lips, that razor-sharp grin prevalent for all to see tonight.
Entragian: I’ve heard all the whispers. I’ve heard the outcry. Day 1 of Reckoning Day was the setting of a modern day ATROCITY. So taboo! The work of cold-blooded criminals! The media response….has been delicious. And no matter how hard Jason Johnson uses his corporate mop to try and scrub the palette clean, the image of Corazon’s back turning black with blisters….the skin curling like parchment…THE HELMET that stands as a symbol of majesty for SHOOT Project…turned into little more than desert dust. It will stay with you…
Isaac scrubs a hand across the white stubble on his cheek, his snake-like eyes glimmering with amusement.
Entragian: Consider that a wake-up call. You forgot exactly WHO WE ARE, SHOOT Project. With all the bickering and side choosing, we were looked at as mischievous scamps play fighting with each other. You all forgot…for a painfully crucial moment…what Project: SCAR is capable of. You were blissfully blind to the threat we pose, and it became necessary…to scorch those eyelids open.
Isaac opens his eyes wide to demonstrate, the poisonous shades of his irises looking out through white eyelashes.
Entragian: What happened to Corazon was just a preview…of things to come. Consider it the trailer leading to the feature presentation. My siblings…have appetites. We are a voracious lot, and in this time of celebration…we’re in the mood for a feast. SHOOT Project will serve as our table and her Soldiers will serve as morsels of nourishment to fill our bellies and bolster our glory.
Isaac begins to walk down the line of men and women that comprise his “family.”
Entragian: Your Tag Team Division will fall to Kenji and Flay. Your Soldiers, big and small, will be throttled into lifelessness by our great hunter, Obsidian. The crown of the Sin City Division will soon rest upon my little Lizzie’s head. And Master Of The Mat? That’s to be my personal killing field. Mark my fuckin’ words…I will cut through that tournament like a tempered blade coated in spider venom, and if you find yourself in my bracket? I’d suggest you invest in a coffin for your career sooner rather than later.
Isaac practically beams now, the future bloated and dark with SCAR’s aspirations.
He lifts up one pallid hand, staring it solemnly.
Entragian: Project: SCAR is whole again. We are UNITED. We have endured, SHOOT Project. We set our sights now on blood and power…and the lot of us will roar through this company like a gasoline-soaked inferno until we get EVERYTHING that we want. To really cap things off? I’ll give you one sentence, Kincaid-style…that really says it all…
Isaac clears his throat, his gaze falling on a sea of upset faces in the Epicenter.
Entragian: SCAR’s in control. You’re all pretty much fucked…
Isaac’s hand….balls into a fist.
A chuckle births itself into the world from Isaac’s chest, and the crowd UNLEASHES with a raucous response, the boos almost deafening.
The arena goes black. Gold pyro explodes from the Revolution stage, effectively interrupting the Project: SCAR speech.
“I CAME TO TELL THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH!!!”
The crowd BLOWS THE FUCK UP both out of respect and out of gratitude that someone has decided to come down and break up the Project: SCAR party. They’re even HAPPIER that it’s the man who built the SHOOT Project house, and they let him have it.
Real Deal’s removed his dress coat from earlier and has his sleeves rolled up.
Eryk Masters: Let’s talk a little bit about history. Real Deal is one of the men who most people recognize as THE guy who carried the SHOOT Project on his back for YEARS, helping really aid the growth of this place into an international entity.
Other Guy: And his face is all about business. Real different from him talking to Alex Brooks or wrestling Loco Martinez.
Eryk Masters: Which brings me to my second point. He’s also the man who really helped foster the growth of Adrian Corazon into an international superstar and widely recognized figure. Real Deal brought him in, got him trained, and helped him learn to speak English. Those two guys are very close. Adrian Corazon owes his entire career to Josh Johnson.
Real Deal stops halfway down the ramp, microphone in hand.
Real Deal: No, I’m not going to walk all the way into the ring and get in the middle of your circlejerk. Sorry to disappoint you.
The crowd reacts, laughing.
Real Deal: I’ve seen a lot of things happen in this business. I was in the SHOOT Project when we were underneath the heel of the Yakuza, and I saw some seriously nasty shit. We let a lot of things go here, but what you all did to Adrian Corazon at Reckoning Day?
Real Deal’s brow furrows and his gaze turns narrow and pointed.
Real Deal: That went beyond the scope of what we do here.
Real Deal breathes in deeply as the crowd has gone from loud and raucous to a hushed, dull murmur.
Real Deal: Jason, Sean, the rest of the board of directors, and myself have been discussing for weeks what exactly we’re going to do. How would we punish Project: SCAR? How would we get the group back under control?
Real Deal sighs, looking directly into the eyes of Isaac Entragian.
Real Deal: Conventional wisdom would be that we fire all you motherfuckers and have you arrested.
Crowd pops, and Real Deal turns to address them.
Real Deal: Would you like to see the entirety of Project: SCAR get their asses fired right FUCKING now?
The crowd pops again!
Real Deal: I kinda would too. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you lean… we’re not going to do that.
The crowd starts to boooooo at this news, but Real Deal holds his hand up, attempting to quell the storm.
Real Deal: Now, don’t get me wrong… again… I want them gone. Every last one of them, but there’s one man who’s asked that we not fire ANY MEMBER of Project: SCAR. This is the same man who refused to press charges when he had his back lit on fire and the skin melted from his flesh. The man who I truly believe, ESPECIALLY now is… the baddest man alive.
Real Deal pauses.
Real Deal: Adrian Corazon.
The crowd EXPLODES.
Real Deal: He’s not going to be satisfied with you all in jail or whatever. He wants you where he can find you and where he can get to you, and you know what? The board of directors, Jason, Sean, and myself?
Real Deal smirks.
Real Deal: …we’re going to let that happen. We’re going to let him do whatever he wants to do to whoever of you he wants to do it to, short of murdering you in that ring. Cool, right?
Eryk Masters: I just fucking got chills.
Other Guy: Wow.
Isaac’s face has turned a pasty pink as he’s getting just a bit angry at the proclamation the Real Deal has made, but it quickly goes from that pasty pink anger to a twisted smile. The crowd’s noise level starts to change. Real Deal turns around and IMMEDIATELY gets CLOCKED by JESTER SMILES. The audience in attendance BOOOOOOS as Real Deal is staggered and dropped to a knee. Jester nails him again, backing him down the ramp. Real Deal attempts to fight back, but Jester just caught him off guard.
Eryk Masters: This is bad. Real Deal’s being forced down to the ring and you can practically see Project: SCAR licking their lips.
Other Guy: We’re going to need help for him out here, probably immediately, guys.
Jester has Real Deal backed against the ring now and he smiles at him and waves and then DRILLS Real Deal with the VIRGINIA SIDEKICK. Real Deal slumps to his knees. Jester moves towards him and picks him back up. He slaps him in the face a little, attempting to stir him. He just grins at him, turns him around and slides him into the ring, right into the clutch of Project: SCAR.
Eryk Masters: I don’t know what the HELL Jester Smiles thinks he’s doing…but that man has just FED Real Deal to these…animals.
Other Guy: I thought we were about to see JUSTICE…but now…it looks like carnage might be the only thing in our future.
Real Deal is hurting, his arms clutching his ribs as he struggles to get up to his feet. He pulls and claws at Isaac Entragian’s legs and torso, trying to weakly pull himself up to something close to fighting form. Entragian stares down at him, that smile growing larger by the second.
Every single member of SCAR has formed a rudimentary circle around the LEGEND of SHOOT Project that is Real Deal…and they look like hyenas sniffing at the carcass of a wounded gazelle. Kenji’s opaque eyes are colder than ever, Flay’s nostrils flare as that primal streak awakens in her…and Gaunt skips around Real Deal while giggling like a happy school girl. Obsidian silently cracks his neck to the side…and Isaac reaches down to grip Real Deal by the cheeks, bringing their faces close together.
Isaac then just drops Real Deal….and EVERY single member of SCAR begins to stomp the living hell out of the SHOOT Project Hall of Famer. Isaac and Obsidian stamp down hard boots on Real Deal’s head, Kenji and Flay send scathing kicks into his ribs, and Gaunt hops up and down like a bunny to deliver double stomps to Real Deal’s legs and arms.
Kenji drags Real Deal back up to his feet, and he RIPS his shirt into tatters before CRUSHING a headbutt into his face. Kenji tosses him over to Obsidian, and the big man slams a knee into Real Deal’s gut to double him over. Gaunt and Flay are on him next, Flay scratching and clawing at Real Deal’s face while Gaunt sends multiple roundhouse kicks into his upper chest.
Eryk Masters: This is a massacre! Real Deal doesn’t have even a ghost of a chance against this hellacious brood.
Other Guy: He’s up against overwhelming odds, E….and that damned Jester Smiles is still watching from the top of the ramp with a GRIN on his painted face!
Isaac finally grabs Real Deal by the remains of his shirt and he LAUCHES the Hall of Famer over the top rope and down to the floor. He picks his microphone back up before exiting the ring to stalk Real Deal back up the ramp.
Entragian: Let’s take a stroll, legend.
Isaac begins to just KICK Real Deal up the ramp, each massive boot to his ribs sending him flying about two or three feet each time.
Real Deal is crawling towards the top of the ramp, and Isaac just rudely snatches him up with both hands and CRUSHES him up against the SHOOT Video Wall, allowing Real Deal to sink down to a sitting position with his face STREAKED with blood.
Isaac leans down, those green eyes bubbling with the poison that infects his heart.
Entragian: Get up and fight me, legend. SHOOT Project needs you now…more than ever. She needs an avenging warrior. Listen to the PEOPLE….they are singing sonnets of adoration for YOU, Real Deal. They believe in you. Let them suckle on the teats of HOPE like piglets that know nothing of the slaughterhouse.
The fans are in a RAGE right now, and they are chanting with incredible intensity for the SHOOT Project legend known as Real Deal.
Entragian: Stop me, legend. SHOOT Project craves peace. Are you the one to give it to them?
Real Deal valiantly gets up to his knees, his body LITTERED with small lacerations and already purpling bruises, but his eyes still shine brightly with that fighting spirit that has earned him LEGENDARY status in this company.
Eryk Masters: This piece of garbage human being….Entragian is sick, OG. He’s baiting Real Deal into some kind of fight at the top of that ramp, and he knows the man can barely STAND right now.
Other Guy: He doesn’t care; E. Isaac is like a tomcat playing with a half-dead mouse…
Real Deal barrels into Isaac with fists flying, and he drives Isaac back across the top of the ramp. The strikes are weakened by Real Deal’s blood loss, and Isaac practically chuckles after each one connects.
Real Deal staggers backwards, and he makes one brave attempt at THE REALITY CHECK…but Isaac easily scouts the superkick and ducks underneath, proceeding to CLAMP his hand around Real Deal’s throat while bringing the mic back up to his lips.
Entragian: I think you should have stayed in your office, Josh.
Real Deal is CLUBBING at Isaac’s arm, spit and blood sputtering down past his bottom lip, but his strikes don’t even have the smallest effect on that tree-limb Isaac calls an arm.
Entragian: Look at the camera, legend.
A dry croak of defiance issues out of Real Deal’s throat, and Isaac uses his free hand to TWIST Real Deal’s head around and force him to stare directly into the closest camera.
Entragian: You watching from your burn center bed, Corazon? I’m sure you are. Been keeping up with things? If not, here’s an update. You and I are both number one seeds in the Master of the Mat tournament. I’m going to destroy every Soldier that breathes in that tournament…until I get to the finals. I’d like to see you in the finals too, Adrian.
Isaac let his forked tongue slips out…and he LAPS some of the blood off of Real Deal’s forehead while grinning.
Entragian: Here’s a little incentive to make sure that you get there.
Without another word….Isaac LIFTS Real Deal high up into the air with a single-arm chokehold…AND HE CHOKESLAMS REAL DEAL OFF THE RAMP, THE LEGEND’S BODY FREEFALLING BEFORE SMASHING INTO SEVERAL PRODUCTION TABLES BELOW!!!!
Eryk Masters: NO!! That savage son of a BITCH! He just BROKE Real Deal’s body!!
Other Guy: That’s at least a twenty foot drop, E…we need a stretcher out here for Real Deal immediately. Real Deal’s neck twisted to the side when he landed…and his entire frame just looks UNNATURAL right now.
The shot zooms in on Real Deal, both hands locked around his neck. He looks like a limp, sprawled out ragdoll that’s been dyed red with his own blood. Multiple EMTs flood out from the back with a stretcher, and they start to stabilize Real Deal before placing a brace around his neck.
The camera moves back up to take in the insidious features of Isaac Entragian…and he flits his forked tongue at the camera with all of Project: SCAR standing beside him at the top of the ramp and RELISHING the damage they’ve done here tonight.
Eryk Masters: And we’re supposed to have another match tonight? Jesus…
Other Guy: Yeah and we’re not even going to really get much of a break.
Samantha Coil: The following contest is the main event of the evening, and is a Master of the Mat Tournament match!
“The Are Lost” by Last Remaining Pinnacle starts up over the PA system, as the crowd explodes for the man known as “The Queen City Hitman”.
Samantha Coil: Now introducing from Tokyo, Japan by the way of his hometown, The Queen City…Charlotte , North Carolina…
TMB comes out from behind the curtains wearing Black and White MMA shorts and boots. He tops that off by wearing a Grey North Carolina Tar Heels Hoodie with a towel over his head & his forearms and fists taped up. On his fist and forearm tape you see the words “Dark Sinner”. Black hardly looks out from the hoodie as he walks toward the ring. He stops and cracks his knuckles before raising the Iron Fist title in the air.
Samantha Coil: He is “The Queen City Hitman”… "The Scarred Saint"…
TMB continues to make his way down the ramp way, soaking up the reaction from the crowd that are tossed his way. TMB makes his way up the steel steps and steps over the top rope and doesn’t even look at the ref as he makes his way to the middle of the ring. He raises his title once more as Carolina Blue and White streamers flood the ring, Japanese style. TMB bows to the fans and goes to the corner as Ring Hands start to clean the streamers from the ring.
Samantha Coil: This is your Iron Fist Champion…THOMAS MANCHESTER BLACK!
Once the ref is finished, TMB takes off his hoodie and tosses it to a ring hand, before slinking down into a sitting position in the corner and handing the title to the ref. Black eyes remain focused as he waits for the match to begin.
Eryk Masters: The current reigning Iron Fist Champion gets no days off after his BRUTAL ladder match at Reckoning Day!
Other Guy: And that’s the way he likes it. Thomas Manchester Black is always looking to prove himself, and going into Master of the Mat, this is his first step in doing so!
The music shuts off, and Black continues to focus on the entrance ramp, as "Mislead" by James LaBrie begins to play. The love that the fans had for Black is equaled in the hatred they have for Mason Pierce, as the Orion Champion makes his presence known to the arena. He steps out, the Orion title slung over one shoulder, Leona standing on his opposite side.
Samantha Coil: And his opponent, from Manchester, England, weighing in at two hundred and thirty pounds….he is Mason. PIERCE!
The duo begin their slow saunter down to the ring, Mason’s eyes locking onto those of TMB from across the arena.
Other Guy: This man is already champion of Orion, and he is looking for even more gold.
Eryk Masters: He’s made it no secret he wants to win Master of the Mat, and for Mason Pierce, that first step lies through the Iron Fist Champion!
Pierce makes it to the ring apron, where he hands the Orion title to Leona for safe keeping. She slings it over her own shoulder as Mason grasps the ropes, pulling himself up to the apron. He steps through the ropes, and the fight is on!! The bell rings as TMB rushes Mason Pierce, who is as ready as can be for the Iron Fist champion! Both men start throwing bombs out of the gate, and TMB gets the early advantage, plowing into Mason’s face with a well placed forearm that drops the Orion Champion to the canvas. TMB forces himself into a full mount, raining hammer shots towards the face of Mason, who tries his best to avoid the blows. He quickly reaches out to the bottom rope, meriting a break from the referee. TMB lets up for a split second, allowing Mason to escape the ring for a bit of a reprieve. That doesn’t last long, as Black is RIGHT OUT AFTER HIM!
Eryk Masters: Black looking to make things violent from the get go!
Black walks behind Pierce, and grabs him by the back of the head. He SLAMS Pierce’s head off the ring apron, causing Mason to go to his knees.TMB picks Mason up and whips him straight into the guardrail! The crowd is in a frenzy and gets out of the way just in time for Pierce to crash into the steel!
Other Guy: Black is taking control early, and Mason needs to come up with something to get the advantage back in his court!
Black stalks Pierce and peels him off the guardrail. Pierce breaks Black’s grip and backs away, but TMB charges! Pierce sidesteps at the last second, and Black finds himself shoudler first against the ring post! The crowd groans in unison, but Mason Pierce has found his tide-turner. He takes the left arm of Black and wraps it around the ringpost! Black backs away, gripping his hurting appendage as Pierce grabs Black by the back of the head and trunks and rolls him into the ring. Mason slides in after the Queen City Hitman and begins going to work. He steps over, grasping Black’s arm between his legs, and slams himself on the mat, locking in a cross armbreaker! Black is thrashing around in pain, trying to find an escape, but there is none! Mason Pierce seems to be doing everything he can to rip the arm violently from the socket of Black! Pierce sits up and throws himself back down to the mat for a little bit of extra torque.
Eryk Masters: Mason Pierce is looking to make a statement here tonight!
Other Guy: I have a feeling that statement is "I’m going to beat you with your own arm here in a second."
Black tries to reposition himself, but he is only able to slide a couple of inches. It turns out to be enough, as his fingertips brush the bottom rope, before he finally locks onto it for a break. Tony Lorenzo informs Mason of this, but it doesn’t seem like he’s letting go. Lorenzo tries to break the grip, but it’s vice like! He stands up and starts to count!
FI-Mason breaks the hold, just in the nick of time. Black gets to his feet, holding his left arm close, and Mason is behind him. Mason goes for the waist, but somehow, TMB has the wherewithal to counter. TMB with a go behind on Pierce, but Mason throws an elbow. TMB ducks and shove Pierce away. Black follows up with a big forearm, right to the chest of Pierce. Pierce follows up with a forearm of his own, but TMB just SNAPS, and fires off rapid fire blows to the body and head! Pierce is rocked and TMB takes advantage and throws him into the corner! Pierce hits the turnbuckle and staggers forward, only to be caught by Black, who makes excellent use of an exploder suplex, propelling Pierce right back into the corner! Pierce’s knees buckle and he hits the ground, only to be tied up in a pin by the Iron Fist Champion!
Pierce kicks out! Black fires off a quick right hand, but somehow, Pierce grabs a hold of it, trying to tie Black up in a Triangle, but TMB powers out, and lands a vicious headbutt that makes Pierce see stars. Black gets up, pulling Mason up along with him. Pierce out of desperation fires an elbow that connects with the face of TMB. Black fires back, whipping Pierce’s head backward with a right hand. Pierce retaliates, driving the point of his elbow to the top of the cranium of the Iron Fist champion, before TMB goes low, doubling the Orion Champion over with a well placed and well timed kick to the stomach. Black runs the ropes behind Pierce and bounces off. He runs past the Fixer again, rebounding off the ropes once more, setting up for his patented shining axe kick.
Other Guy: Get Down or Lay Down!
Eryk Masters: Pierce ducks!
Just in the nick of time, Pierce gets his head below the boot of TMB, and allows TMB to move past him. Black halts his momentum, but is unable to combat Pierce cradling him up for a back suplex that drops Black right on that left shoulder! Black flips with the impact, and Pierce takes control once again! He drops a knee right to the shoulder and holds TMB down as Pierce drives a second knee, this time, right into the temple of TMB!
Eryk Masters: Just absolute vicious striking from both men here. I’d say the winner will be the man who manages not to get a concussion!
Pierce digs his elbow into the shoulder joint of Black, while pressing his knee up against the man’s head. The Iron Fist champion is in agony here as the submission specialist from Manchester is going to town on that injured left arm.
Other Guy: Mason Pierce has a strategy here. Inflict pain. He’s not going for pinfalls yet, he’s looking to make a statement in forcing TMB to submit!
Eryk Masters: Pierce is definitely softening the arm up of TMB, but Black submitting? That’s a pretty tall order.
Pierce swings around to the back with a chicken wing on TMB, really yanking back on that left arm. He leans forward and hooks in a half nelson on the left arm as well, forcing the shoulder in a very awkward angle.
Eryk Masters: A very unique submission from Mason Pierce! This is really a test for the new Iron Fist champion!
Black is gritting his teeth in pain, but he’s not anywhere CLOSE to submitting. Pierce gets an idea in his head, and follows throw, striking Black’s shoulder with his own head! This gets an audible gasp of agony from the Iron Fist Champion, and brings a smile to the face of Orion’s Fixer. Mason throws another headbutt, and this time, the audible gasp turns into a desperate grunt, as TMB is looking very much worse for wear here. Mason throws a third headbutt, but has a dazed look on his face!
Other Guy: OUCH! Bone vs Bone. I think Mason took the worst of that one!
Mason connects with solid bone, causing him to lose his grip on Black. TMB fights out of the hole to a thunderous ovation from the crowd, but he’s still hurting. Mason gets up and Black charges, but Mason ducks and takes TMB down with a half nelson suplex!
Eryk Masters: More impact on that shoulder! Black is in serious trouble!
Mason floats over, pinning TMB’s left arm underneath him in a pinning combination!
TH-Black kicks out! Mason slaps the mat in frustration. He picks Black up off the ground and whips him into the ropes-NO! Black holds on and pulls himself towards Pierce and takes the Fixer down with a short clothesline! The fans pop loud as Black takes Pierce down! TMB tries to get back to his feet, but Mason beats him to a vertical stance. Mason tries to kick Black, but TMB catches the foot and hooks Mason Pierce with a Tarheel Suplex! The fans explode again, and TMB hooks the leg for the cover!
THR-Pierce gets a shoulder up! TMB gets to his feet, pulling Pierce up along with him. TMB slings Pierce into the corner, and he crashes into the turnbuckles! TMB charges, but Pierce swings his feet up, crashing right into the shoulder of Black! Black clutches his injured limb, but Pierce grabs a hold of it. Mason locks in a Greco-Roman knuckle lock and scales the turnbuckles. He jumps off the second turnbuckle, driving his elbow into the shoulder of TMB! Black is in pain, but Pierce still has hold of Black’s arm. Mason kicks Black in the back of the knee, buckling it to the point where Black ends up on the ground! Pierce immediately goes to work and slaps on the Manchester Necktie!
Eryk Masters: NO! Black counters the Necktie!
Other Guy: Northern Lights Suplex!
Mason slips out of the attempt, and ends up behind Black. Pierce shoots a forearm into the kidneys of TMB, and turns him around. Mason with a kick to the gut, and then he hooks both arms behind TMB’s back!
Eryk Masters: THE PAYROLL! Mason Pierce nails it!
Pierce hooks both legs for the cover, and Tony Lorenzo slides into position!
The bell rings, and "Mislead" kicks back in. Pierce rolls off the cover, breathless, but a huge grin on his face. Leona is waiting outside of the ring, smile on her face.
Samantha Coil: Here is your winner, advancing in the Master of the Mat tournament…..MAAAAAASON PIIIIIIIIIIIERCE!
Other Guy: Mason Pierce has defeated the Iron Fist Champion!
Eryk Masters: It was a hard fought match, but Orion takes the victory here tonight! TMB gave it all he could, but tonight everything just came up Mason!
Mason and Leona celebrate up the ramp, Pierce holding the Orion championship up high as TMB looks on angrily in the center of the ring. The Orion duo turn and laugh, looking at the anguish of Black in the ring before disappearing behind the curtain.
Eryk Masters: We’re out of time tonight, folks, but hopefully we’ll have an update on the condition of the Real Deal for you tomorrow night, when DOMINION returns!
Other Guy: Yep, and for Eryk over there, I’m the Other Guy and we’ll see you tomorrow night. Congratulations to Mason Pierce on his victory, of course, and advancing to the next round of Master of the Mat. Goodnight, everyone!