“The Artist” Zex stands backstage, dressed in his wrestling attire which consists of faux-skinny-fit jeans; covered in patches and designs and a pair of plain black wrestling boots. He takes a few steps back, scratching his head as a perplexed and quizzical expression befalls him.
Zex: Yeah, I don’t really think either of us needs to change our ring attire. The fans know who we are, they know we’re friends.
He is of course talking to none other than Freak Nasty 1; who at this point in time is pitching a tag team idea to both “The Artist” and his number one client, Omar Owens who looks just as mystified by Freak’s suggestion.
Freak: “ Team name… Air-Brush! Just think about it. The “O2” symbol written in paint splashes, turn the number “2” into a “Z,” and that’s your logo, you can wear capes that woosh over your shoulders and…”
“The Artist” holds up his hand and extended index finger, cutting the eccentric manger off while shaking his head.
Zex: I like a cape as much as the next guy, but this is beginning to get complicated.
Freak: “Okay, we’ll put a pin in that one and save it for later. I’ve got more…How about… Art-I-Choke.
Zex: Omar? Please tell me he isn’t serious…
Omar: “Oh, he’s serious alright…Now you can see what I have to put up with.”
Zex: What’s wrong with simply being known as Omar Owens and Zex?
Freak: “How am I meant to market that? It’s boring. Besides all the great tag teams have a team name.”
Omar: “He’s got a point, a team name would be cool.”
Zex: Agreed. I’d just like something a little less…Lame…
Freak clicks his fingers, causing both men to look directly at him as he grins wildly.
Freak: I’ve got it! The Omar-Zexuals.
Both Omar and “The Artist” stare at each other blankly for a moment, possibly wondering if Freak is trolling them right about now when two pale slender hands reach up behind “The Artist’s” shoulders, covering his eyes; while asking the question “Guess who?”
Zex turns quickly to see his wife standing before him, he hoists her up off the ground as she wraps both her arms and her legs around him.
Zex: You’re back!?
They kiss for a moment, before she slides down and onto the floor holding her husband’s hand.
Rain: Yeah, we thought we’d just stop by for a moment before we head off for a drink or two…
Freak: We? What we, white woman?
Zex: Yeah, so where’s the lady of the hour?
Rain pokes her head back out the locker room, ushering in a leggy, caramel skinned women, in a tight black dress, leather jacket with one side of her hair buzzed down, while the rest of her head sports long wavy black hair that cascades down past her shoulder.
Rain: Seeing as you’ve never really been formally introduced. Zack, Auryn.
Zex leans in giving her a welcoming hug as Omar and Freak look on. Omar’s mouth is agape at this beautiful specimen of the female form stands before him. Freak has a different reaction. He gets a devilish grin on his face and impolitely eyes Auryn up and down, admiring her form, slowly nodding as he does so.
Rain: And this is Omar Owens and his heterosexual life partner; Freak Nasty 1.
Auryn: Freak Nasty 1? I’ve heard that name before.
Freak: You’re a friend of Rain’s, so you must have good taste in music. Maybe you’ve heard my hit song…
Omar: You just said she must have good taste in music
Auryn: Nice to meet you both, anyway. So are you guys joining us for a drink?
Zex: Well, I’ve got a match so I won’t be around until later.
Omar: I should probably stick around and watch Zex’s match. You never know, I might be facing the winner in the next round of the Master of the Mat.
Freak: Yeah, yeah, you stay here. The three of us will go to the bar and maybe get to know each other a little better. Except, Rain and I already know each other quite well, so it’ll be me getting to know Auryn a little better…
Omar sees right through Freak’s less than subtle intentions. Not wanting to let Freak get the advantage in getting to know Auryn, he pipes up.
Omar: You know, Freak, as my *ahem* manager, I think it would make sense for you to stay with me and watch the matches so we can plot our strategy for future matches.
Freak: Oh, Omar, you flatter me, but you know that match strategy isn’t my strong suit. That’s something you’re better off doing without me. I’d just get in the way.
Omar: You’re right. You’re pretty useless when it comes to that. But you know what you’re good at? Knowing what it’s time for me to take a break and recharge…which I think I should do tonight. At the bar. With our old friend Rain and our lovely new friend Auryn.
Freak: Great. So we’ll go to the bar. All four of us. Including you.
As Omar and Freak go back and forth about their plans this evening there’s the sound of footprints from the other end of the hallway as Master of the Mat contestant; Aiden Miles casually walks by, dressed in a pair of skinny blue jeans, ripped on one knee and a black lightweight hooded top, covering his half bleached hair, he suddenly stops in mid strut. Spotting Omar, Freak and Zex he’s like a deer in the headlights before he spins on his heels and looks to walk away, but he realises it’s too late and turns sheepishly around with a fake grin.
Miles: *whispers*Damnit…Oh hey! Of all the feds in the world, I walk into yours…
Zex: For fuck sa…I mean…Hi Aiden. Nice to see you, man.
“The Artist” looks at Omar and then at Freak before looking down at is arm, reading the time on a watch that doesn’t exist.
Zex: Is that the time? I’m gonna have to bail on this reunion. I need to go over…Erm…My…entrance-lighting…Yeah, that’s it, entrance-lighting.
Omar Owens mouths the words “son of a…” as Zex kisses his wife on the cheek and then rushes out of the locker room and past Aiden Miles.
Freak: And we…We’re taking these two lovely ladies out for a drink.
The elbow of Freak Nasty suddenly whacks into Omar’s ribs, prompting him to pipe up.
Omar: Yeah, we’d love to stick around and chat. But we’ve made reservations.
While looking at both Rain and Auryn, Freak offers them both an arm, in hopes that they will take them and allow him to pimp his way out of the room…However, they simply look at each other quizzically before exiting the room…
Freak: That’s our cue.
Omar: Yeah. Oh and good luck out there tonight Aiden.
Freak Nasty 1 and Omar quickly follow suit, leaving Miles standing alone in the hallway.
Miles: Well that went better than expected.
The arena is black, the crowd murmuring. The sound of a steel train bell is heard, it starts out faint, but gradually gets louder and louder. Then, a loud horn sounds and Halestorm’s “Freak Like Me” begins!
I’m on the train that’s pullin the sick and twisted,
Makin the most of the ride before we get arrested,
We’re all wasted,
And we’re not going home tonight.
The faces of Maya Nakashima, Corey Lazarus, Lunatikk Crippler, Dan Stein, and ANARCHY all occupy an even section of the SHOOT Project’s Epitron, blended with the championship belt that each holds.
Covered in black we lack the social graces,
Just like an animal we crawl out of our cages,
They can’t tame us,
So if you’re one of us, get on the bus
The faces disappear as a flag with the SHOOT Project Helmet takes over the screen. The Epitron splits into three views, one with Maya Nakashima when he first captured the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship… the other with Dan Stein squaring off against Trey Willett… the third, Lunatikk Crippler hitting the Lunatikk Sweet!
If you’re a freak like me,
Wave your flag!
If you’re a freak like me,
Get off your ass!
It’s our time now,
To let it all hang out
The flag catches fire, as new faces come into the fray. We see Cameron Ash, Ryan Shane, Kale Tanev, and Eli Storm standing across from each other on an abandoned train platform. Corey Lazarus stands off to the side, watching the other four while Kincaid watches a monitor with vested interest as Jerry Matthews dusts off an old foe, defending the Iron Fist Championship.
We’re underground but we will not surrender,
We’re gonna give them something to remember, yeah,
ANARCHY’s T. Rex and Arch Angel grin, holding the SHOOT Project World Tag Team Championships up as Vermont’s Finest look on. That image is replaced by the gruesome burn that Corazon suffered, the fire burning into his back, but this time the fire takes the shape of the SHOOT Project helmet.
So write your name in gasoline,
And set that shit on fire
The train platform disappears as the burning helmet takes over the rest of the screen, and the last thing you see are the flames illuminating the silhouettes of all the SHOOT Project Soldiers standing, riding on top of a moving train through the black of night.
So shout if you’re a freak like me,
They can’t hold you down,
You were born to rise!
It’s our time now to come out!
If you’re a freak like me!
With so much happening in the organization on any given Revolution, it’s not unheard of that the cameras would pick up the middle of a conversation between an unlikely compolation of performers. The show heads backstage into one of several locker rooms, where we see FORMER SHOOT Project Tag Team Champions, T-REX and ARCH ANGEL chatting with one-half of the CURRENT SHOOT Project Tag Team Champions, LUNATIK CRIPPLER. The members of Anarchy are in their street clothes, while Crippler’s already donning the black trunks and vest.
T-Rex: You guys were the better team that night, but we feel pretty good sayin’ we’re the better team MORE OFTEN.
Arch Angel: And we just want to make sure we have the chance to prove that sooner rather than later.
The tone is certainly competitive but not necessarily threatening, which draws a respectful nod from the current champ. He reaches down to the bench and grabs his title belt.
Lunatik Crippler: (Gesturing toward the belt) I take this seriously, boys. Okay? And there’s nothing I want more than to prove to you what happened at One Twenty-Four wasn’t a fluke. And even if I have to do that ON MY OWN… I’m not gonna back down. So you tell me when and where, and you got your rematch.
The tandem seems content with that response. Angel nods and Rex puts his hand out for a shake.
T-Rex: Then we’ll be chatting real soon…
Crip returns the gesture and the two men shake hands. Angel then moves in for a fist bump, which Crippler obliges as well.
"This is what I like to see. This is great…"
A familiar voice breaks up the meeting.
The DEFILER: I knocked, but uhh… I’m sure you couldn’t hear it over all the… mutual respect. (He smiles coyly, playfully). It’s good to see those (pointing at Cripler’s belt) being taken seriously again. This is very cool.
He clasps his hands together and gives a respectful bow.
The often controversial, former World Champion is in a full grey suit with a light pink tie. His hair is a perfect blonde, bed-head mess and his scruffy, hipster beard shows hints of wisdom grey.
He turns his attention to the other two in the room.
The DEFILER: (Looking at Angel and then T-Rex) You guys mind if I have a second with Will?
No one seems terribly thrilled to see Jonny, a common theme over the last month or so. Angel and T-Rex look at Crippler momentarily.
Arch Angel: Maybe aim for One Twenty Eight or Twenty Nine.
T-Rex: We’ll hit you up.
Lunatik Crippler slaps the title belt he now has slung over his right shoulder.
Lunatik Crippler: You got it.
The members of Anarchy leave without saying a word to Jonny, who watches them leave before proceeding.
The DEFILER: (Looking back to Crippler) Those guys are fucking assholes, man. (Speaking candidly) I’m glad you beat them, to be honest. I didn’t uh…
Crippler doesn’t share Jonny’s opinions and doesn’t appear interested in hearing them.
Lunatik Crippler: I have a match to get ready for, man. What’s up?
He asks coldly, which does not go unnoticed.
The DEFILER: Are we cool?
Crippler shrugs and even rolls his eyes a little bit
Lunatik Crippler: As cool as two guys who don’t know each other can be.
Jonny is quick to reply.
The DEFILER: You know what I mean, Will… People talk, man. They talk and blog and write on internet forums. I hear them. I know they’re talking and… and I just… (Trying to stay calm) I just wanted to make sure that uhh…. (Deep breath) That you’re not buying any of the chit-chat that I had ANYTHING to do with what happened two weeks ago.
He pauses, hoping for a reaction out of Crippler, but doesn’t get one.
The DEFILER: You know I didn’t do anything. Just tell me you KNOW…
Crippler finally puts his arms out and shakes his head.
Lunatik Crippler: Dude! (Frustrated) I don’t know what to think or believe, but honestly… I also haven’t thought about it. Shitty things happen in this business, and you move on. I have a match with Loco tonight… a tag team championship to look after… Not to mention a Master of the Mat Tournament to focus on…
Jonny cuts him off.
The DEFILER: If I wanted you down, you’d BE. DOWN.
Aware that there isn’t a response to Jonny’s almost desperate tone, Crippler simply abides.
Lunatik Crippler: (Arbitrarily giving in) Okay.
The DEFILER: (Barking back) NO! NOT FUCKING OKAY!
There’s another longer pause, as Jonny realizes he may have hit a breaking point and tries to reel it back in.
The DEFILER: It’s not okay, man. After what I did for you… wh…
Crippler very sternly chimes in.
Luntaik Crippler: Stop! Just stop. You didn’t DO anything for me, Jonny. You forfeitted a match. You haven’t DONE anything for anyone. And then, yeah… you "HAPPEN" to be around when those kids role through. What else do you want people to say? (Considering his words) I don’t know you very well, and I don’t know how much you give a shit about my opinion, but… But maybe DO something?
Jonny stays silent and Crippler continues.
Lunatik Crippler: You’re not going to make friends by talking about a wrist injury or… being a hero or whatever.
He stares at Jonny and allows for the words to sink in.
Lunatik Crippler: Heal up and BE ONE if that’s what you want.
The Defiler continues to keeps quiet, for another couple moments, facing Crippler, but not looking at him. His eyes are distant, wandering. He rubs at his nose and his chest expands as he takes a silent breath.
The DEFILER: I loved being a tag team champion… I was fucking good, man. Heh. They always try to say it’s a less important title, but I really think it’s about the human holding on to it…
He pats the front of the belt and
The DEFILER: You’re right, though. About the ummm… about me.
"Thanks for the advice."
He makes his finger into a gun, clicks his tongue and backs away off camera… presumably, out of the room.
Loco Martinez is walking through the arena, his ring gear on. He casually tapes up his right wrist, whistling as he walks. Not really paying attention to what’s going on around him, but also deftly avoiding bumping into any of the production crew, or staff. He’s clearly done this before. He continues this odd prematch prep, and doesn’t see SHOOT Project’s World Champion walking towards him. He hears one of the bevy of production assistants say "Hey Champ", and Loco looks up confused, thinking the man might be talking to him, but then notices Maya Nakashima. The SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship glimmering on Maya’s shoulder. Loco’s eyes drift to the prize, and lingers. Maya clears his throat as if to say "My eyes are up here, buddy". Loco snaps to attention, his lust totally busted. They shift uncomfortably.
Loco: Maya! Dudeman…ummm… man… uh… How’s it going?
Maya: Good… good… BUSY… you know? You?
Loco: Yeah. Same. Just out here grinding.
They share an awkward chuckle and you’d be hard pressed to know these two were close friends. You can see it in Loco’s eyes as he scrambles for something.
Loco: So, any word on Ike? I saw that last week… scary stuff.
Maya sighs and tries to relax.
Maya: Scary… yeah. Isaac should be okay though, he lost a lot of blood but he’ll be alright.
Maya closes his eyes, his head bowing a little low.
Maya: Look, Loco, I… I know what you’ve earned and I know you want your one on one shot against me, and you deserve it, more than anyone. It’s just…
Maya looks at Loco, his grip tightening on the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Title.
Maya: You will get your chance, I swear it, Loco. But right now it’s just…
There is a pause and then Maya smiles the two share a chuckle. Loco’s eyes fall to the title again before he locks gazes with the Champ.
Loco: Look. You want to keep it. I want to take it from you. In the short term? We’ll enjoy awkward exchanges, or outright avoidance. That is until SHOOT sits us down at a big fancy table and has us sign a contract. At Master of the Mat we will go out there and claw and scratch and fight like hell. Because that golden beauty on your shoulder isn’t JUST a championship. Its THE Championship. THE measuring stick for SHOOT and this industry. If it causes our friendship to be a little awkward?
Loco shrugs and smiles playfully.
Loco: I think we’ve seen first hand that it can cause friends to do a LOT worse.
Maya: It has done far worse to far greater people, but that’s not an excuse, not for me anyway. I don’t want it to be awkward, I don’t want it to cause a rift between us. I want it to be the pillar of HOPE SHOOT needs right now, that we two friends can, in good faith, have a match. Not a match about blood, vengeance, or tyranny… but a match for the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship. We two friends, not driven by hate, able to put on a clinic for no other reason than we want to be the best and we want, deeply, to do right by the fans.
Maya puts a hand on Loco’s shoulder.
Maya: Just give me some time, Loco, to sort this thing that’s going on right now and I swear… it’ll be different, we’ll make a difference. I swear it, Loco.
Loco smiles genuinely and gives Maya’s hand a friendly pat. The two don’t share another word, they just head off in their separate directions.
“Diamond Eyes” is playing overhead, and we return from a commercial break to see Kincaid already in the ring, pacing back and forth.
Eryk Masters: The former Iron Fist Champion has been quiet this week. Not sure where his head is at.
Other Guy: He should be focused purely on Winter. The self-proclaimed “Prince of SHOOT” made some major waves last week. Found a way to beat Kincaid for the Iron Fist Championship AND made a very profound (albeit underhanded) statement in a Master of the Mat bout between Corazon and Donovan King.
Eryk Masters: Kincaid has his rematch opportunity tonight. Let’s hope he makes the most of it!
“Let Me Take A Selfie” by The Chainsmokers starts to play overhead, and we hear the purr of a powerful engine right along with the music. The Lamborghini Huracán cruises into view next to the stage, Winter wearing Gucci shades with one hand loosely clasping the wheel.
Billy exits the car, taking a moment to lift the Iron Fist Championship HIGH up into the air…the crowd responding with loud, less than impressed boos. A beautiful brunette climbs out of the passenger seat, taking a moment to flip her hair before following Winter as he makes his way down the ramp.
Other Guy: Looks like Billy is bringing Eye Candy to the ring for this one.
Eryk Masters: She sure is…
Other Guy: Nah. I mean that’s her name. Or at least that’s what Billy calls her…
Winter enters the ring, pausing only to remove his shades and toss them to Eye Candy. He brings the Iron Fist Champion up to his face and gives it a delicate kiss while simultaneously winking at Kincaid.
Samantha Coil: The following is an IRON FIST CHAMPIONSHIP REMATCH…and it will be contested under ten count rules! Introducing first, the challenger, from Bearing Falls, New Jersey…weighing in at 230lbs….KINCAID!!!
The fans cheer, Kincaid still pacing back and forth.
Samantha Coil: And his opponent, hailing from Manhattan, New York…weighing in at 235lbs…HE IS THE IRON FIST CHAMPION…THE PRINCE OF SHOOT…BILLY WINTER!!!
Kincaid starts to pull his t-shirt off to get ready for the match…but the second the bell rings Billy rushes forward and WAYLAYS Kincaid in the side of the head with the Iron Fist title as hard as he possibly can!!!
Kincaid gets BLASTED back into the turnbuckle, his shirt still covering his face and only halfway up his arms, and Winter just starts to SLAM cheap shot punches into his torso, followed by a barrage of knee strikes!
Other Guy: REALLY? Winter has no class, E. Kincaid is blinded, he wouldn’t even let the man get his shirt off to compete.
Eryk Masters: If there’s a shortcut to be taken, better believe Billy knows it intimately.
Winter suddenly RIPS the turnbuckle pad off the top turnbuckle, and he starts to just BASH Kincaid’s head into the exposed ring post…
Three times…four times…five times…six times!!!
Winter finally allows Kincaid to drop backwards to the canvas, some blood starting to seep through the material of the t-shirt that’s still covering his face.
Billy leans down and TEARS the shirt from Kincaid’s face…but Kincaid rallies by getting up to his knees and just TACKLES Winter down, proceeding to slam rights and lefts into Billy’s handsome face!
Other Guy: YEAH! There’s still some fight left in Kincaid despite Winter’s shady tactics in the early goings.
Eryk Masters: He’s gotta be stunned though, OG…that steel ring post meeting your skull is bound to leave a man a bit scatterbrained.
Suddenly Kincaid drops off from Winter, holding a hand against his forehead and giving us the idea that he’s still feeling the effects from that ring post. Billy quickly scrapes himself up to his feet and proceeds to RAKE THE HELL OUT OF KINCAID’S EYES!!!
Billy then quickly ascends a turnbuckle and DIVES into Kincaid with a leaping forearm shot, knocking Kincaid to the side!
Other Guy: I think Kincaid is hurt, E. Winter never really even let the man get out of the gate here…
Winter scrambles out of the ring, screaming at ringside officials to get out of the way….and then he grabs a portion of the steel ring steps and brings them into the ring.
Kincaid has made it up to his feet using the ropes…and as sort of a last gasp he trips Billy up, forcing him to his knees…and then Kincaid UNLEASHES WITH A SUPERKICK TO THE FACE!!!
Winter FLIES backwards into the steel steps, laying across them with his arms splayed outward.
Eryk Masters: BIG FAT KILL!!! Is that gonna be enough?
Other Guy: He got ALL of it, E!
The referee moves forward to start a ten count.
Winter stirs, finally managing to sit up. Kincaid zips forward and tries the superkick for a second time…but Winter ducks under and MEAT HOOKS A LOW BLOW INTO KINCAID’S GROIN!!!
Kincaid staggers forward…and Winter pulls him up onto the steel steps and gets him into a headscissors…BEFORE JUMPING UPWARDS AND SPIKING KINCAID’S HEAD INTO THE STEEL STEPS WITH A PILEDRIVER!!!!
Eryk Masters: SHATTERED MIRROR!!!!
Other Guy: On solid STEEL! Did you hear the crunch??
The referee moves back into position, counting off.
Kincaid remains motionless.
Samantha Coil: Here is your winner…AND STILL IRON FIST CHAMPION…THE PRINCE OF SHOOT…BILLY WINTER!!!!
Billy kicks Kincaid out of the ring…and then Winter takes a seat on the steel steps, crossing his legs casually. He calls for a microphone and Eye Candy tosses it up to him.
Eryk Masters: Well this match played out in quick and lethal fashion…and I think that had a lot to do with Winter’s dirty tricks when the bell first rang.
Other Guy: Winter retains…and looks like he has something to say too.
Billy Winter: Take your seats and hold your applause, folks…it’s time for the inaugural edition of story time with the Iron Fist Champion.
The crowd boos loudly, and Winter takes a moment to readjust the Iron Fist title draped across his shoulder.
Billy Winter: So ever since I came here…I’ve been hearing the boys in the back talk about this one particular Soldier. They speak about him in…reverent tones. His name gets dropped in SHOOT Project constantly. It’s the way that they talk about him that stays with me. When he’s mentioned…it’s not as some normal, average joe. They shroud him in myth; they talk him up like some legendary figure straight outta a professional wrestling fable.
Billy pausing, stroking his chin.
Billy Winter: His name is Donovan King.
The fans pop HARD at the mention of King’s name.
Billy Winter: They say his athleticism is flawless. They say he’s always on his grind, an unstoppable force that has a past lined in gold and a reputation built on respect. It’s said that getting a win against Donovan King…is like winning the lottery. A RARE thing. These are the words that follow King…like a fucking impenetrable superhero costume that you have to cut through before you even get CLOSE to the man protected by them.
Billy scoffs, pushing a few locks of hair behind his ear.
Billy Winter: And bear with me, but I’m about to drop a Lion King analogy here. This motherfucker…this brazen motherfucker Donovan King…sits up on the Pride Rock of SHOOT Project like Mufasa, gazing down at his SHOOT Project kingdom while hyenas skulk below, those hyenas never really taking the initiative to CHALLENGE his placement on Pride Rock. He just lounges up there, content with his majestic reputation…and ever since he came back here…no one has made a play for his throne? People just…swallow his bullshit and ACCEPT that he’s the KING??
Billy’s emotions are getting the better of him, jealousy blending into a fresh blooming hatred behind his prettyboy features.
Billy Winter: FUCK THAT. Your Pride Lands have changed A LOT since you’ve been away, Lion King. Lots of new animals prowling around…and we are HUNGRY. Fucking STARVED. So that’s why I chose you, King. Because around here…it gets no bigger…than YOU. When I make statements…I want the whole world talking about them. I want my actions to be captured by spotlights and spelled out large and bright on Las Vegas marquees…
Winter grins, his smile so white and brilliant.
Billy Winter: That’s why…I’m aiming to topple a King. That’s why…I intend to do what no man in SHOOT Project has ever been able to do on a long-term scale.
Winter leans forward, those serene eyes looking so very cold, so very detached.
Billy Winter: I’m taking your Pride Rock, Lion King.
A pause, the fans booing louder than ever.
Billy Winter: And I’m raising up my name…on the remnants of your legacy.
As if on cue, “King Unchained (SHOOT Remix)” by 2Pac kicks in. The fans ERUPT as DONOVAN KING steps out on the entrance stage, bringing them to their feet. He stands there wearing his new leather hooded jacket, the silver Crown on the hood itself and the camera sweeping behind him to reveal the new King Lion emblem. He stands there, letting the music play for a moment.
Donovan King: Yo, kill this song fuh me.
“King Unchained” dies out, and the camera goes between King and back to Winter, both men staring at one another.
Donovan King: You in that ring there…got yourself the Iron Fist Championship, rollin’ hard an’ standin’ tall in the center of the ring to end Revolution. More’n that, you take down that cat Kincaid…no small feat. You know what, man? I’m impressed. I give you your propers, homie. It’s hard to beat Kincaid, let alone hard to get the drop on Corazon or King, let alone the two of ‘em combined. But…you did.
He takes a few steps forward, stopping at the beginning of the ramp itself.
Donovan King: For a guy who seems to have it all, you still say you hungry. Well, you know…I get that. I walked my black ass to the back last Revolution an’ I threw a hissy fit. No cameras, no interviews. I straight threw chairs, tossed tables, I mean…I bitched out. How fucking DARE this…this…
King gestures towards Winter, waving his hand up and down.
Donovan King: …THIS mother fucker…come at me after I was just beaten by a guy who’s never had it in him to beat me before. See, that was Corazon’s time to shine…not yours. An’ you took it from him. Perhaps the greatest Iron Fist Champion this place has ever known in Adrian Corazon dropped by a guy who had held the belt fuh like forty five minutes or somethin’. But it ain’t about Adrian, is it? Nah nah…see…it’s about how Billy Winter wants to ascend to godhood. It’s about how Billy Winter wanna see if his arms is long enough to box wit’ God, right?
King removes his hood as he begins to walk down the ramp.
Donovan King: I came back to this company because uh what my theme song asks. Is it wrong if I wanna get it on ‘til I die? I came back fuh the love of the game. I made my money. I made my history. But I see the game’s changed. I see the new players. This place got the same shows, same talents, but things is…so damn different now. An’ it don’t get no more unique than “Let Me Take A Selfie” Billy Fucking Winter.
Winter continues to watch King as he walks to the end of the ramp.
Donovan King: You wanna get at me, Billy? You wanna make this a Lion King thing? No problem, son. Let me make it a lil’ bit my own. Let’s make an analogy with…The Wire. An’ in that show…the baddest mother fucker in the land only got dropped when he didn’t see it comin’. The baddest mother fucker in the land stood tall fuh the duration of the show, never flinched an’ never backed down. It was only when a bitch ass kid snuck up on him an’ popped him that he fell. An’ Billy?
King walks towards the ring, bringing the fans to their feet as he jumps up to the ring apron.
Donovan King: Like the baddest mother fucker in the land once said…you come at the King?
He removes his jacket, letting it fall to the floor.
Donovan King: You BEST not miss.
The crowd ROARS at this, King glaring at Winter from the apron and seconds away from entering the ring.
Eryk Masters: Looks like Billy might have bitten off more than he can chew!
Other Guy: WHOA…WHO’S THAT??
Suddenly a HUGE man jumps the barricade and just SNATCHES King’s legs out from under him, King falling backwards as his face SMACKS hard against the ring apron.
The man’s back is to the camera, ragged jeans, work boots, and a dirty white wife beater covering his massive chest. He turns around to face the camera, a little deranged gleam twinkling in his eyes.
Eryk Masters: Hold up…it’s that damned ELGIN BLAIR!!
Other Guy: The Hillbilly Beast just assaulted King…seems Winter drew King out here for the sole purpose of ambushing him!
Elgin SCRAPES King up and tosses him back into the ring, Billy still sitting casually on the steps with microphone in hand.
Winter chuckles lightly.
Billy Winter: Remember how I said there are lots of new, hungry animals prowling around? The keyword there is ANIMALS. Plural makes all the difference, Lion King.
Winter then SPIKES the microphone down as hard as he possibly can into King’s forehead, knocking King right back down to the canvas while Blair lurks like a slavering jackal.
Blair and Winter both lean down and pull King up to his feet, Winter proceeding to just rudely SLAP his face, again and again, not so much trying to hurt King, but trying to HUMILIATE him.
Winter then tosses King into Elgin’s arms…and the Hillbilly Beast LOCKS onto him in a Cobra Clutch hold…BEFORE CRUSHING KING INTO THE STEEL STEPS WITH A MASSIVE SIDE SLAM!!!
Other Guy: Oh god…Elgin calls that The Tribulation…and King is splayed across those steps like a RAGDOLL.
Eryk Masters: This Elgin is just…scary. The man is GIGANTIC, has a sour disposition, and to top it all off…he seems to have some kind of allegiance worked out with Billy.
Other Guy: Opposite attract, I suppose. Winter and Elgin on the same page sends a shiver down my spine, though…
Billy moves into position behind King, and he leans down and begins to CONSTRICT King’s limbs and throat with that trademark Straight Jacket chokehold, rearing back HARD and making King grimace yet again!
Eye Candy slides the Samsung Galaxy S5 into the ring and Billy snatches it up, proceeding to FISH HOOK the side of King’s mouth to force him to smile. Elgin lurks in the background, arms crossed, a predatory grin on his face.
Winter screams out “CHEESE!” before snapping the selfie, making sure to get himself, King, and the lurking Elgin all captured in the photo.
Other Guy: Winter is sick in the head, E. Something very off about this man…
Eryk Masters: This whole thing has been incredibly hard to watch…
Winter finally breaks the hold, and he and Elgin exit the ring, proceeding to slowly make their way back up the ramp.
The last shot we see is Donovan King splayed out across the steel steps, his eyes glazed over and staring sightlessly up at the Epicenter lights.
We open up inside the office of Jason Johnson. He is sitting at his desk, thumbing through a bit of paperwork. There is a knock at his door, and before he has a chance to answer, Trey Willett barges in and puts a fist down on the desk.
Jason Johnson: Can I help you, Trey? Or did a mahogany tree murder your mother?
Trey reaches into his pocket and pulls out a promotional poster for Master of the Mat and tosses it in Jason’s general direction. As it falls down on the desk, we can see that it shows an image of Loco Martinez and Maya Nakashima as hype for their Title match at the show. Jason looks up from his desk and grasps the poster in his hand, looking at it for only a second before putting it back down on the desk in front of Trey.
Jason Johnson: Yes…I think I may have seen this poster once or twice when I approved it. What’s your point.
Trey picks up the poster and crumples it in his hand before chucking it into the bin in the corner of the office. He puts his hands back down on the desk, refusing to sit down.
Trey Willett: You know that spot is mine. Loco had his chance at ELITE. He blew it. He got pinned just like everyone else. Dan Stein blew his rematch at ELITE. It’s not my fault that they accepted the match. I’m the only one left with a legitimate claim to that title and you know it.
Jason Johnson: What I know is that I gave Loco the title match at Master of the Mat. You can’t come into my office and try t bully your way into a title match. I’m going to let this little outburst slide because of our history, but don’t think that my good nature will suffer another outburst like this. I understand that you want your rematch, and if this doesn’t happen again, you just might get one. But for now, I suggest you reevaluate just what it is you are doing here, and fall in line.
Trey, looking slightly dejected, finally sits in the desk. The harsh look over Jason’s face softens as Trey eases his fists and places both palms on the table. He looks up to Jason apologetically.
Trey: Fine. But at least do me one favor.
Jason Johnson: I’m listening…
The scene fades to black with the two men sitting across from each other as Trey begins to speak.
It’s been awhile since he’s been in this position. The SHOOT Project backdrop, the microphone a mere inches from his face, but the former Laws of Survival and World Heavyweight Champion Trevor Worrens looks to be okay with it all. Still in "street" attire consisting of dark blue jeans, a cardinal red tank top, and a black beanie Worrens’s focus is not so much on the microphone as it is on the woman holding it, Mary Kelly.
Mark Kelly: Right now I am standing here with one half of tonight’s main event, a former champion here… Trevor Worrens. Trevor, you definitely made an impact upon your return, securing a place in the Master of the Mat tournament in under 6 minutes. But tonight-
Trevor Worrens: Yeah, tonight. Tonight is what really matters. Round one, just starting out and I am in the main event. Me headlining over the likes of a bout between Dan Stein and Adrian Corazon…
Worrens thinks about that for a moment
Trevor Worrens: Which means one of two things, either I’ve caught the early attention once again of SHOOT Project’s board or… I’m being tested with the hopes that I’ll fail.
Mary Kelly: What do you mean?
Trevor Worrens: It’s no secret, Mary. My last time around the block I took the World Heavyweight Championship and it was nothing more than a bragging right to me. I showed it off, I used it as a measuring stick of being the best without actually PROVING it. (smirking) They were pissed at me. The traditional guys, the old guard, they HATED me for it. Got worked over harder than the norm by Jun Kenshin and just like that… I wasn’t champion anymore.
Mary Kelly: A lot of time has passed, Trevor, new names new faces…
Trevor Worrens:But it’s still the same SHOOT Project, Mary. And Zex doesn’t understand that. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell him, trying to make him see but he chose the route he did. He chose to twist up his own version of me to parade in front of the SHOOT faithful. He verbally attacked me, took the low road with name calling and making fun of my girlfriend. That’s how HE’S choosing to handle this match, his approach to me, and I have to be okay with that.
Worrens takes a deep breath accompanied by the slight shake of his head
Trevor Worrens: But what I’m not okay with is the fact that IF he wins this match, then it doesn’t even matter. I’m here for this, Mary. for the Master of the Mat tournament. To be the kind of guy that keeps this place from spiraling into another dark war. Zex thinks it’s all about friendships and hugging it out and respect… that kind of thinking makes you vulnerable. That kind of thinking gets you put on the shelf.
Worrens takes the microphone from Mary now. Worrens looks directly at the camera.
Trevor Worrens: If I don’t win tonight. This place is fucked… and the care bear brigade of Zex, Loco, and Maya… won’t be able to do anything about it.
Worrens somewhat aggressively hands the microphone back to Mary Kelly. She speaks up before he can leave.
Mary Kelly: Not to be judgmental, but Trevor that comes across like a threat.
Trevor Worrens: It’s not, not a threat from me anyway. Just a word of warning. I’m a good guy, Mary. I said it before and I’ll say it again. I am. A good guy. Just not their brand of good guy.
With that, Worrens takes off down the hall, his main event match looming in the very near distance.
To catering we go, as Shawn O’Reilly, ring veteran and new SHOOT Soldier, walks around, looking at the various members of SHOOT Staff and Security gather their meals. One man, a twenty-something production assistant whose headset is about to fall off, begins walking toward him, and Shawn smiles, nods, and then starts to reach out for a handshake…
…but the twenty-something production assistant walks by him, gulping down a cup of coffee as he does so. Shawn quickly transitions the awkward handshake attempt into a stretch and then shakes his head, feigning a yawn as he does so, before rounding the corner. He bumps into a man standing there, jawing away on his cellular, and causes him to drop a bottle of Fiji onto the floor, its contents spilling about. The man sighs and then groans, turning around as O’Reilly takes a step back, his eyes never leaving the puddle forming around the bottle.
Shawn O’Reilly: Hey, sorry, I didn’t mean to…!
His apology is cut off with laughter as the man, Corey Lazarus, just casually picks the now half-empty bottle up off the floor. He tosses it into a nearby recycling bin and then slides his cell away.
Corey Lazarus: …ahaha! No worries, babe! I was wondering when I’d run into you, as a matter of fact.
Shawn hides a hint of a smile, and Corey quickly checks his phone again before sliding it back into his pocket.
Corey Lazarus: You used to work for the same guys Cliff did back in, like, ’91…I think…?
Shawn O’Reilly: Cliff Young?
Corey Lazarus: The one and only, yeah.
Shawn O’Reilly: I had some matches with him, yeah. I think we may have tagged up, once or twice.
Corey Lazarus: I knew it! I fucking knew it!
There’s no other way to say "Corey fanboys out," really, as he smiles wide and genuine and is then overcome with nervous laughter.
Corey Lazarus: Oh man, I…jeez, like…oh SHIT…! It was a match the two of you had that got me into this sport, dig?
Shawn smiles again, not even trying to hide it, and then extends his hand to an excited and gracious Lazarus.
Shawn O’Reilly: That’s kind of you to say that, Corey. Greatly appreciated.
Corey Lazarus: Oh man…I, sorry…I have to get a picture with you to send to Cliff, man, is that cool?
Shawn O’Reilly: Sure thing.
Corey pulls his phone back out of his pocket and looks at the screen, frowning slightly before the fan in him returns, wrapping his arm around O’Reilly’s neck and giving the most awkward of thumbs up. The selfie is taken, and Corey steps away, disapprovingly looking at his phone again before turning back to O’Reilly.
Shawn O’Reilly: Hey, is Cliff still all surly about that record Metallica made? The one that everybody bought?
Corey nods, smirking.
Corey Lazarus: Oh, you know it. Man…I can’t believe I finally ran into you…what are you doing here tonight? I thought you had this night off, or something?
Shawn O’Reilly: When I broke in, you showed up to every show a promoter put on with your gear nearby, just in case they need to swap somebody out for some reason.
Corey Lazarus: Ah, "card subject to change" dreams. That’s, uh…cool, I guess…I mean, I’m here because I need to talk to somebody, but that’s old school. Like, wicked old school.
Corey’s exuberance drains a bit, though he feigns it well enough so that O’Reilly, noticing it, would be in the wrong to say anything about it.
Shawn O’Reilly: Well, when you’re done doing that, maybe we can grab a beer or hit the gym or someth…
Corey checks his phone again, and then shakes his head as he cuts O’Reilly.
Corey Lazarus: Hey, yeah, that’d be great, but I have to go take care of something right now…dig? Like, shoot me a text or something, babe. Rock n’ roll.
Corey walks off from O’Reilly, whose head hangs slightly before he turns around and makes his way back to the coffee. Corey checks his phone again and steps only around the corner.
Corey Lazarus: Say I haven’t been answering my phone, huh? I’ve called you three fucki…
Corey’s phone suddenly rings, and he nearly drops it as he goes to answer, fumbling a bit before grabbing it. He peers around the corner, making sure O’Reilly is heading the other direction, and answers.
Corey Lazarus: Hey, man, I’ve been…what do you mean I didn’t call you? I left, like, a dozen voicemails…yeah, babe, I did…right, no "babe," so uhhh partner?…dude, I was in court…yeah, the custody thing…yeah…you should feel like a dick…okay, I guess you shouldn’t, cool, so…why’d you say "no" already? I haven’t even asked…dude, why not?
The other voice yells and Corey covers the speaker, holding it away for a second before coming back. He stammers before speaking, the person on the other end still going, but finally gets a word in.
Corey Lazarus: Hey, slick, it’s me, your tag team partner, remember? You know, the other half of the World Tag Team champions? That guy who’s been trying to get in touch with you since we got these belts but you’ve been too focused on Master of the Mat? Yeah, that guy, the L-A-Z, so how about I come out there with you, and…dude, no way, I know you two want a clean match, when have I ever…uhh, yeah, that was because Tommy Boy is an asshole, he’s not, so…dude, LISTEN TO ME…
Corey walks down the hall, nearly pushing the cameraman over in the process, and steps outside, still barely getting a word in.
Samantha Coil: The following contest is a round one match in the Master of the Mat tournament!
The crowd pops loud. “One Track Mind” by Papa Roach kicks on. Smoke begins to fill the entance area. A platform begins to slowly rise from the ramp itself, revealing AIDEN MILES. His arms are outstretched, head hung almost like a rockstar. When the ramp reaches its pinnacle, Miles begins his slow saunter down toward the ring. A small breeze from the smoke machines causes the flaps of his black, cutoff army shirt to flap a little as he makes his way toward the ring.
Samantha Coil: Introducing first, making his SHOOT Project debut….he is “The Standard”…..AIDEN…..MIIIIIIIIIIIIILES!
Eryk Masters: This is our first look at Aiden Miles, OG. What’s your impression?
Other Guy: I don’t know, E. Let’s see him wrestle first.
The smoke machines begin to cut off as Miles rolls underneath the bottom rope. He discards his shirt, preparing for the unknown that is his opponent.
Papa Roach cuts off.
Mysterious, haunting music plays over the loud speakers throughout the arena, and the words Captain Enigma appear on the overhead screen.
Eryk Masters: Well, here comes this “Captain Enigma” guy who, honestly… has been pretty underwhelming so far.
OG: Yea… I’m not really into the gimmick – the whole idea. It’s pretty – stupid…
Eryk Masters: Maybe the moves in the ring will make up for the subpar showing in other areas…
Wearing just the Batman mask and wrestling gear, Captain Enigma walks out on the stage to a – well, indifference. Some light applause and some boos – but people are relatively unsure of how to react.
Eryk Masters: Wait… there’s something familiar about that guy…
Captain Enigma stands at the top of the stage and looks over the crowd, clearly not really surprised at the fan reaction. He looks over the crowd – clearly thinking. He shakes his head and turns and walks back to the curtain, pulling off the mask as he does so.
Eryk Masters: Is he going home?
O.G.: It looks like he’s taking off his mask. Maybe he’s ditching the stupid gimmick?
Just before he walks back through the curtain, he drops the mask and disappears – too fast to get a shot of his face.
Suddenly, the lights go out throughout the arena and the crowd is basked in darkness… seconds later, a long rock chord plays as Kid Rock’s “Bawitdabah” starts to blare through the arena. Red, white and yellow strobes come on before the big screen springs to life. Red, orange and yellow lines are racing across the screen, clearly trying to spell out a word. It all looks too familiar.
My name is Kiiiiiiiiiddddd….. Kid ROCK!!!
The big screen flashes white for a split second, before the colors merge to spell out the word “Icon” on it. The smarks in the crowd suddenly explode, and their enthusiasm starts to carry throughout.
OG: NO WAY!!!
Eryk masters: I KNEW there was something familiar…
The red, yellow and orange lines change from the word Icon to reveal another name:
The crowd explodes into a deafening scream.
Eryk Masters: Holy…
OG: The ICON is back!!!!
The curtain explodes open and Rocky Stellar – hall of famer, former world champion, and one half of the greatest tag teams in the history of wrestling, walks onto the stage, smiling. He soaks in the crowd cheers for a second before running down the aisle and sliding into the ring. He pops up, smiles widely at Samantha Coil (of course) then runs to the nearest turnbuckle and climbs it, soaking in the excitement. He soaks in the crowd enthusiasm for a second before applauding back that the crowd, thanking them for the reaction.
Samantha Coil: And his opponent….he is the ICON……..ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOCCKYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY…..STELLLLLLLLLLLLLLARRRRRRRRRRR!
The music shuts off, and Rocky begins circling the ring, Miles circling as well.
Eryk Masters: This is big, OG! The Icon is back!
Other Guy: Yeah, but Aiden Miles is not intimidated! He’s raring and ready to go!
The bell rings, and the two men lock up immediately, with Stellar getting the better of the initial exchange. He shoves Miles to the ground, surprising the SHOOT Project rookie.
< b>Eryk Masters: So far, so good for Stellar.
Other Guy: Yeah. That one move really showed him!
Miles is quickly back to his feet, now a little more cautious. They lock up again, and Stellar quickly goes behind with a hammerlock, but Miles wriggles out of it quickly. He drops down to a knee and attempts a takedown, but Stellar counters….by yanking the hair of Miles and pulling him into a headlock.
Eryk Masters: Years of experience have netted The Stellar One with a multitude of dirty tricks.
Other Guy: TRANSLATION: He cheated.
Miles gets to his feet and quickly buries an elbow into the gut of Rocky Stellar. Stellar doubles over, releasing the headlock. Miles bounds to the ropes, rebounding with a spinning heel kick that takes the veteran down!
Eryk Masters: Here in the first couple of minutes, the newcomer to SHOOT is keeping up with one of its all time greats!
Other Guy: TRANSLATION: He’s pretty good.
Eryk Masters: Stop that!
Other Guy: Knew I’d get ya.
Stellar is dazed but gets back to his feet. Miles places his head under Rocky’s chin and drops to his knees, rocking the vet with a mandible shattering jawbreaker! Rocky lands flat on his back, hard, and seems a bit jarred. Miles gets in quick for a lateral press!
Stellar rolls his shoulder up!
Eryk Masters: Bit of a lax cover there. I’m sure the little nuances of being in that ring are going to come back to Miles. He’s spent the better part of two years away from the game.
Miles picks Stellar off the mat, but catches a knee to the stomach for his assistance! Miles backs off a bit, and Stellar stalks forward, and catches Aiden with a big European uppercut! Miles’ head snaps back, but Stellar YANKS his hair, bringing his jaw back down to catch ANOTHER uppercut! Miles drops to a knee, but Stellar refuses to let up! He Irish whips Miles into the corner, but Aiden Miles leaps onto the second turnbuckle! He grabs the top rope with both hands and flinches back, causing Stellar to flinch, covering up for the impact! The impact that doesn’t come! Miles leaps and as Stellar uncovers, he gets caught with a flying body press! Both men meet canvas, and Miles hooks the leg, going for the win!
Stellar kicks out AGAIN. Miles gets to his feet, allowing his wily foe to get up. He steps through the ropes, onto the apron as Rocky is a bit groggy to his feet. Miles leaps up, attempting to springboard off the top rope, but his FOOT SLIPS! Miles turns his body in midair and lands on his left arm!
Eryk Masters: That mistake was almost tragic! At least Miles had the bearings to turn himself, putting that impact on his shoulder when it was very nearly his FACE.
Other Guy: There’s a reason they call that style “high risk”, E. That was it.
Stellar notices and smells blood in the water. He pounces on Miles, pounding away at the shoulder and bicep area of Aiden Miles, who is very nearly howling in pain! Stellar yanks the arm of Miles up, twists, and slams the arm down to the canvas, trying desperately to hyperextend that elbow! Miles tries to yank the arm out of Stellar’s grasp, but Rocky quickly applies a wristlock! The fans are cheering like mad, chanting the legend’s name!
Rock looks out to the crowd, and pays for the distraction. Miles is able to fight up to his feet, then places a foot under Stellar’s chin and hits the canvas. Stellar falls back like a Redwood, while Miles is clutching his arm close.
Stellar rolls to his stomach to try and push himself to his feet. Meanwhile, Aiden Miles struggles to a standing postion himself. Rocky is up and attempts a boot to the stomach, which is CAUGHT by Miles! Miles hesitates a moment, but is able to pull off a snap Dragon Screw Legwhip, WRENCHING the worn out knee of Rocky Stellar!
Eryk Masters: The kid is nervous and it nearly cost him! But hell, that was a good looking legwhip!
Other Guy: I hope Rocky realizes he’s in a spot of trouble here, and not his arthritis acting up.
Miles goes right to work on the injured wheel of Stellar, holding the leg up, and putting boot after boot right behind the knee! Stellar is grabbing at the knee, in obvious pain here, and Miles isn’t going to let up! He takes a step back and then somersaults over Stellar, still holding onto the leg! The landing is a bit sloppy, but it gets the job done, forcing Stellar’s leg in a position that a contortionist would have trouble with! Rocky clutches at the knee, rolling on the canvas! Miles hooks the bad leg and covers!
Stellar kicks out, putting more pressure on that knee! Miles brings Stellar back to his feet uneasily, and Rocky JABS HIS THUMB IN MILES’ EYE! Aiden is momentarily blinded as Willie Dean admonishes Stellar on the tactic.
Eryk Masters: The grizzled vet swears he was aiming for his nose!
Other Guy: Yeah, he was definitely looking for a booger.
Stellar limps towards Miles, but Aiden rolls through, hooking the bad leg for a school boy!
Th-Stellar nearly got caught there! Both men get to their feet, only for Miles to sweep Rocky off his! Aiden Miles attempts a figure four, BUT STELLAR COUNTERS WITH A SMALL PACKAGE!
Miles kicks out!
Eryk Masters: Stellar’s first pinfall attempt of the contest! Shows the smarts of the veteran, picking his spots. Also shows the eagerness and determination of SHOOT’s newcomer, going early and often for the W.
Stellar gets up as does Miles, and Miles is quick to act, thrusting his palm into the chest of Stellar. Rocky clutches his chest, possibly thankful for his aspirin regimen, as Miles runs the ropes, looking to capitalize. Stellar tries to duck, but Miles leaps and hooks around Stellar’s arms for a crucifix, but the CAGEY STELLAR DROPS DOWN HARD countering with a Samoan Drop!
Other Guy: I’ll say this: Stellar has taken a beating to that knee, but that was a GREAT counter!
Stellar is shaky to his feet, but he makes it up. He pulls Miles up and whips him HARD into the turnbuckles! Miles starts to crumple, but Stellar is coming in for a hobbling avalanche!
THAT MISSES! Miles grabs the top rope and slings his body over Stellar’s….BUT STELLAR CATCHES HIM!
Rocky twists Miles on his shoulders, fireman’s carry style, and SWINGS HIM AROUND FOR AN F-5 that causes Miles to land on that injured arm!
Eryk Masters: Great countering, and Stellar is at the advantage!
Stellar slides over as well as his knee will allow, and drapes an arm over Miles’ chest!
TH-MILES ROLLED HIS SHOULDER UP! The fans are actually standing now, eager to see what happens next! Stellar gets up and moves towards his opponent, but Aiden Miles snags his knee up with a drop toe hold! The move is high, but MORE effective, as Miles clamps his feet around Stellar’s knee, causing him to fold like a deck of cards!
Other Guy: This kids clumsiness is a dangerous weapon here!
Miles lifts Stellar up and executes a go behind. Stellar pushes backwards, but Miles is able to turn him and Stellar crashes into the turnbuckles! Miles hefts backwards, a German suplex attempt, but Stellar holds onto the ropes for leverage!
Eryk Masters: Great ring awareness from Stellar!
Miles rolls backwards after the suplex was blocked, but charges Stellar in the corner! Stellar turns just in time to put his shoulder down and BACKDROP MILES OVER THE TOP ROPE!
BUT MILES LANDS ON THE RING APRON! Stellar tries to block the roundhouse that Miles sends his way, but is only PARTIALLY successful! Stellar staggers back, having to grasp at his knee! Miles springboards…
Other Guy: Nailed it that time!
BUT STELLAR DUCKS! Miles ROLLS THROUGH ON THE MISSED SPRINGBOARD and rushes Stellar! Stellar crouches, and Miles ends up low-blowing himself on Stellar’s elbow! Every man in the Epicenter felt that one!
Eryk Masters: This is what Master of the Mat means! Pulling out all the stops! Never giving up!
Other Guy: Punching a dude in the junkbox!
Eryk Masters: There’s a lot riding on this for BOTH men!
Miles is doubled over in pain, duh, and Stellar grabs a HUGE FISTFULL of Aiden’s hair and yanks his head back! Stellar hooks in for the STELLAR DROP!
But Miles COUNTERS the reverse DDT by spinning around! He breaks Stellar’s grip and takes him over for a Capture Suplex!
AND IT ENDS WITH A BACKBREAKER THAT WOULD MAKE EL ASSO WIPO WEEP! Stellar is rocked! Miles hooks a leg and Willie Dean counts!
THREE! NO! NO!
YES!! Stellar shouldered up, but NOT IN TIME!
The bell rings, and the fans applaud!
Samantha Coil: At the time of fourteen-minutes, eighteen seconds, here is your winner, and advancing to the Master of the Mat tournament…..”The STANDARD” AIIIIIIIIIDENNNNNN MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILES!
Eryk Masters: The crowd is applauding BOTH of these men, but Aiden Miles has gained some respect here tonight!
Other Guy: He just PINNED a Hall of Famer! That’s a HUGE way to debut!
Eryk Masters: But one HELL of an effort by Rocky Stellar tonight! He pulled out a few tricks, but came up JUST short!
Other Guy: I can’t take anything away from him after that performance! He’s like a beat up old pickup: Still plenty of gas in the tank, and power under the hood!
Papa Roach plays as Willie Dean raises Aiden Miles’ hand, while Rocky Stellar lays on the canvas, looking up, shocked.
Eryk Masters: For Aiden Miles, Master of the Mat rolls on. For Rocky Stellar? I hope we see him in the ring again real soon!
A short man with ruffled brown hair and a frantic look on his face sprints backstage through the halls, every person he passes is stopped immediately and asked the same question.
Backstage Attendant: Have you seen Maya?
When the first few shake their head with a quizzical look, he continues his marathon backstage. He screams into his headset that he’s trying to find him, but on such short notices it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack. He bursts into every door in his path, most people too upset with his intrusion to care what he’s asking. Finally, after winding his way down every corridor, he sees Maya standing in a lonely corner staring at his phone. The glimmer of the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship like a beacon of light to the frantic mess of a man.
Backstage Attendant: Maya, thank god I found you…
Maya casually turns around, an ever present smile of hope on his face.
Backstage Attendant: Look, I know you weren’t scheduled for tonight, but they just told me that you’ve got a match, tonight. Soon, even.
Maya doesn’t look upset or disturbed, he looks excited.
Maya: That’s fine, I’ve had too many nights off anyway. The champion has to fight, and I’m always ready for the challenge.
The attendant sighs, finally able to take a moment to wipe the sweat off his brow. He turns from Maya and starts to walk away, but Maya stops him.
Maya:Wait… who am I fighting?
The man looks back at Maya, suddenly the feeling of relief gone.
Backstage Attendant: They… didn’t tell me. They just wanted me to let you know that you had a match tonight. Sorry, Maya, I… I honestly don’t know who you’re supposed to face tonight.
Maya shakes his head for a moment, sighing under his breath.
Maya: It’s fine… go on, you look like you need a break, I’ll be fine. Champion has to fight, no matter who against…
“Circus” by Britney Spears suddenly punctuates the ambient crowd noise of SHOOT Project’s Epicenter. The arena lights dim to a reddish glow as the opening words of the first verse fill the arena air.
There’s only two types of people in the world
The ones that entertain and the ones that observe
Well baby, I’m a put-on-a-show kind of girl
Don’t like the backseat, gotta be first
A flash of blinding light erupts and the arena lights return to normal. Chaos is standing in the middle of the stage. His body is painted entirely red; his short shorts match the colour of his body paint giving him the appearance of a eunuch.
I’m a like the ringleader, I call the shots
(Call the shots)
I’m like a firecracker I make it hot
When I put on a show
Chaos stares at the crowd who are giving him a muted positive response, probably something to do with his relatively new status and absurd behaviour. Chaos spins in a complete circle before skipping to the ring.
I feel the adrenaline moving through my veins
Spotlight on me and I’m ready to break
I’m like a performer, the dancefloor is my stage
Better be ready, hope that you feel the same
All eyes on me in the center of the ring just like a circus
When I crack that whip, everybody gon’ trip just like a circus
Don’t stand there watching me, follow me, show me what you can do
Everybody let go, we can make a dancefloor just like a circus ahhhhha
Chaos makes his way to the ring and slides under the bottom rope. He stands in the centre of the ring to listen to muted applause as his theme music fades out he is handed a microphone by an anonymous ring technician.
A response, not a great response, but a response nonetheless. Chaos looks over his right shoulder and talks to no one.
Chaos: How rude. I stay hello and they say nothing.
He looks forward again.
Chaos: I said Hello!
Now he gets more of a response. A cheap pop, of course.
Chaos: And the crowd goes wild!
Another cheap pop but he is happy.
Chaos: Been here before. Twice. Lost both times. Last time was here staring at ceiling after feeling Dan Stein Twitterbation explode in my face. Made me think. I had something to say.
They say you can’t love and be wise, but I can pretend with you, if suddenly I ever have to surrender you I’d fall in a heap, I’d fall on the floor and crawl on all fours, for you I’d fall on my sword. If grief ever darkened my door, you’d light it up. The way you brighten up a room hits me right in the chest, it puts the breath inside of my lungs, it’s like I leapt into sun. And in spite of my weary frown, you wear a smile that wears me down. Like a… Travelling man in the back of a van capturing sands like time through the back of my hand. If I could hold it for a moment, do a lap of this land. I’d console you for a moment, and then be back in a glance. But I’m so far since we left for the road, the chicks I’ve seen around the heavens and globe, searching for the next episode. Problem is, in letting it go; it’s like letting go of everything you treasure and know. And whenever I go, I think my chest will explode.
Try and understand, where I lay my head is my home And I was in love, before this rasslin’ shit was ever in vogue. But if you feel that you’re ever alone while standing in the same room as me. Like set it in stone. You can’t save me, acquainted to this devilish road. But you’re bravely willing to give a hell of a go. So… I won’t let you down, I won’t let you down again…
Chaos throws the mic down and runs at the ropes, jumps over them. He planchas out before tucking and rolling as he lands, he jumps over the barriers and leaves the Epicenter through the crowd, who are excited they get to touch a Soldier.
Eryk Masters: Our next match is a contest between two friends who are hoping to gain some momentum moving towards Master of the Mat.
Other Guy: Who knows, if both of these men are as successful as they hope to be at Master of the Mat this could be a prequel of a future title match!
The bell rings as Samantha Coil stands in the ring.
Samantha Coil: The following contest is scheduled for one fall and has a fifteen minute time limit. Coming to the ring first…
Lights go out. Epicenter gets up. Yellow spotlights and Golden Pyro shoot off from around the giant tron as Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R” rips through the PA system.
“Tonight we’re going har har-har ha-ha-hard
Just like the world is our our-our our-our-ours
We’re tearin’ it apart part-part pa-pa-part
You know we’re superstars, we are who we are!”
Loco explodes from the back a yellow “Welcome to the Freakshow” t-shirt. His baggy black vinyl pants and yellow boots. He bobs to the music slapping hands with fans as he makes his way to the ring.
“We’re dancing like we’re dum dum-dum dum-dum-dumb
Our bodies go num num-num num-num-numb
We’ll be forever youn youn-youn youn-youn-young
You know we’re superstars, we are who we are!”
He jumps up onto the apron facing the crowd.
Samantha Coil: Weighing in at Two Hundred and Fourteen pounds. From Philadelphia Pennsylania. The 2013 Master of the Mat. LLLLLLLOCO. MAAAAAAAAAR. TIIIIIIIIIIII. NEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZ!!!!!
He rolls backwards into the ring, landing on one knee his head poking through the ropes his huge Cheshire Cat smile on his face as the Epicenter roars their approval.
Samantha Coil: AND HIS OPPONENT….”
She trails off just as "Sound of Madness" by Shinedown begins. The fans, expectedly pop for the familiar entrance music.
<“I>Yeah, I get it
You’re an outcast
Always under attack
Always coming in last
Bringing up the past
No one owes you anything
I think You need a shotgun blast A kick in the ass So paranoid
WATCH YOUR BACK”
Crippler steps out with his Tag Title on his shoulder.
Samantha Coil: He is currently residing in Las Vegas Nevada and weighs in at two hundred, thirty-eight pounds… THE SUBMISSION SPECIALIST… and one half of the SHOOT PROJECT WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS…
He heads to the ring in his ring attire… black trunks and a vest that he actually takes off and tosses to the side as he heads down the ramp toward the ring. He and Loco lock eyes and give each other a smile and nod. Crippler slides into the ring and jumps to his feet soaking in the adulation of the Epicenter crowd.
Eryk Masters: This crowd is electric. Really letting both of these men how much they appreciate them.
Other Guy: Definite big match feel, Masters! Two men with a lot on the line moving into Master of the Mat. One hopes to win that illustrious tournament, and the other hopes to be walking out of Master of the Mat SHOOT’s World Champion.
The two men bounce and nod as they get their instructions from Austin Linam. He calls for the bell. The crowd immediately starts a “Lets go Crippler… Lets Go Loco” echo chant. They circle and come to the middle of the ring and meet for a handshake. They then take a few steps apart from one another as the Epicenter erupts into applause at the display of sportsmanship.
They circle. Go for a tie up, Loco ducks under into a tight waist. He rolls back with a roll up. He throws his head back with a bridge!
NO! Crippler shoulders out. Loco pops up and holds his fingers an inch apart with a huge smile. Crippler smirks and gives a nod.
Eryk Masters: If Loco wasn’t one of Crippler’s friend’s that kind of gesture would get him slapped.
Other Guy: Or worse.
The two circle again. Go for a tie up. Crippler this time ducks behind into a tight waist. Crippler lifts Loco up and drops him belly down on the mat. Crippler then shows off his mat prowess doing a quick spin on Loco’s back and then tussling his hair before hopping up with a similar grin.
Eryk Masters: And same thing for Loco. If this wasn’t a friend of his?
Other Guy: Loco’d pop him.
Eryk Masters: Or worse.
Loco gets up with a smirk and a nod. They circle again. Lunge for a tie up, but Loco drops to a knee and takes Crippler down with a fireman’s carry. He makes a lateral press.
Crippler forces Loco out with power, and as Loco comes in and Crippler sweeps Loco’s legs. He makes a lateral cover.
ONE! NO! Loco is out. Crippler is up, he goes to bring Loco up, but Loco brings him down to the mat with an inside cradle!
Loco quickly gets up, he swings a wild kick that Crippler ducks and pulls him down with another roll up.
Both men pop up after the fast paced exchange. The Epicenter stands and applauds. They exchange a quick slap low five, and circle. They tie up. Crippler quickly ducks and grabs Loco’s arm. Does an arm ringer. Holds the wrist. Twists the arm further. He pulls Loco in and levels him with a short arm clothesline. He holds onto the wrist. Pulls Loco back to his feet. Levels him with another violent clothesline. He still holds onto Loco’s wrist. Pulls Loco back to his feet. Goes for one more short armed clothesline, but Loco ducks it, and steps behind. Tight waists and launches back with a german suplex! Loco bridges!
TH-NO! Crippler shoulders out.
Eryk Masters: Loco almost had him there.
Other Guy: The way these two are matched one move, one error could be the difference.
Crippler gets up and is quickly dropped with a drop kick. Loco stays on the offensive. He brings Lunatikk Crippler to his feet. Whips Crippler off the ropes. Swings a wild clothesline that Crippler runs under. Crippler leaps to the middle rope, and then launches back with a twisting high cross body. Loco turns and is shocked to see an airborne Crippler Crash hard into Loco. He stays on top and hooks a leg.
NO! Loco shoulders out.
Eryk Masters: Crippler taking a page out of the Loco Martinez play book and taking flight there almost scored the pinfall!
Crippler brings Loco to his feet, and ROCKS him with a European Uppercut! Loco staggers back into the ropes. He charges in to clothesline Loco, but Loco ducks looking to back body drop Crippler over the top rope. Crippler senses this and grabs the top rope and lands on the top rope. He kicks through the middle rope that sends Loco stumbling out away from the ropes. He leaps up to the top rope and launches with a diving clothesline.
Eryk Masters: He leveled Loco there!
Lunatikk Crippler makes a cover and hooks the leg.
Th-NO! Loco shoulders out!
Eryk Masters: Another near fall for the Master of the Mat hopeful. He’s taking it to the Number One Contender.
Crippler stays on the offensive. He brings Loco up. He grabs Loco for an exploder suplex. He goes to launch Martinez back, but Loco jumps into the move and somersaults, landing on his feet. He takes off for the ropes. Bounces off them and comes out leveling Crippler with a spinning heel kick! He pops up quickly and drops a leg across Crippler’s chest. Pops up and hits a jumping elbow drop. He stays on for a lateral cover.
Two…NO! Crippler is up at two. Loco drags Crippler up and whips him hard into the corner. He charges in looking for a running splash, but Crippler ducks through the middle ropes. Loco crashing chest first into the turnbuckles. Crippler grabs the top rope and launches his right leg upward leveling Loco with an enziguri. Loco crumbles in the corner. Crippler looks at his friend with a smile, and points to the top turnbuckle. The crowd roars their approval.
Eryk Masters: Crippler looking to fly again?
He slingshots himself over the top rope landing in split legged position.
Eryk Masters: HE couldn’t!
Other Guy: Trying to deliver some “Happiness” to Loco.
He goes back with his split legged moonsault, but Loco pulls his knees up.
Eryk Masters: Loco countered!
Crippler clutches his ribs. Loco gets up and drops a knee across those ribs. He brings Crippler to his feet and nails lightning fast a snap suplex. Loco holds on. Pops his hips and rolls standing up, and delivering another snap suplex. He holds on again. Pops his hips, and rolls standing up.
Eryk Masters: Shades of the late great Eddie Guerrero.
He lifts Crippler one more time, but this time nails him with a brain buster! He floats over for a cover.
Thr-NO! Crippler shoulder’s out.
Other Guy: Loco almost had him there.
The crowd is at a fever pitch as Loco quickly gets up, and looks to keep things fast paced. He makes his way to the ropes, and steps onto the apron, sizing up Crippler.
Eryk Masters: Maybe looking for the Zombie Kill of the Week.
Other Guy: Just call Crippler the Walking Dead, Masters.
Crippler groggily gets to his feet. And Loco slingshots himself to the top rope and launches with his flying knee, but Crippler launches himself up and LEVELS Loco with a spear! The crowd jumps. Loco is down! Crippler is Down! Crippler crawls to make the cover! Crowd counting with Austin Linam.
THREE-NO!NO! Loco shoulders out. The crowd roars. Crippler looks disbelieving from Austin Linam to Loco Martinez. He gets up and stalks Loco. Loco struggles to a knee. He struggles to his feet, Crippler goes in and grabs Loco looking for the Lunatikk Sweet, but Loco senses it and is able to shove Crippler off, and grabs Crippler’s wrist, and pulls him in and launches his leg up with a super kick!
Eryk Masters: The Locapitator!
Other Guy: Don’t know if we’ve seen that in SHOOT!
Crippler crumbles. Loco falls and lays his back across Crippler’s chest. He grabs a leg and leans back into the cover.
THREE-NO! NO! Crippler gets a shoulder up. The crowd roars. Its now Loco’s turn to look in disbelief from Linam to Crippler. The crowd starts a “This is Awesome” chant. Loco gets up. He drags Crippler up with him. He rocks him with an European Uppercut. Crippler stumbles back and then lashes out with a knife edge chop, the Epicenter “WOOOOOOOing” as you expect. Loco takes a few steps back, and then he comes foreword with another sternum rattling European uppercut. This drops Crippler to a knee, who then lashes out with a welt inducing knife edge chop, with the corresponding “WHOOOOOO”.
Other Guy: I think that one broke the skin.
Eryk Masters: These two competitors are really laying into one another here tonight.
Loco winds up and drives another European uppercut into Crippler. He staggers back off the rope, but comes out and levels Loco with a diving clothesline. The crowd “OOOOH’s” the impact as both men are down. The wear and tear of the match taking its toll. Austin Linam starts his standing ten count.
Four… Loco stirs.
Five… Crippler is up to a knee.
Six… Loco gets to his feet, but so is Crippler. Crippler charges looking for another clothesline, but Loco ducks under it. He grabs Crippler by his head and plants him with a reverse DDT! Loco is back up and brings Crippler with him. He goes for an irish whip, but Crippler reverses it. Loco off the ropes. Crippler goes for a back body drop, but Loco front hand springs off Crippler’s shoulders. He lands on his feet, and runs to the ropes, and leaps to the middle rope, and launches himself off…
Crippler turns and is leveled by a flying knee to the temple!
Eryk Masters: ZOMBIE KILL OF THE WEEK! HE GOT IT!
Loco scrambles and makes the cover. He hooks the leg and leans back with all his might. Crowd counting along with Austin Linam.
THREE!!! The bell rings as Samantha Coil announces at ringside.
Samantha Coil: The winner of this match at fourteen minutes and three seconds. The Freakshow, LLLLLLLOOOOOOOOO. COOOOOOOOOOOOOO. MMMMMMMAAAAAARRRRRRRR. TI! NNNNEEEEEEEEEZZZ!!!!
Ke$ha roars through the arena as the Epicenter crowd stands on their feet saluting the two soldiers. Loco gets up gingerly holding his ribs. He nods at Crippler who is also starting to get up, holding his head. The two lock eyes. Loco walks to Crippler and extends a hand. Crippler takes it and the two shake hands and hug in the ring as the Epicenter applauds.
Eryk Masters: A helluva fight here tonight. Great to see that sportsmanship, and that two friends can have such a high impact, highly competitive match!
Loco and Crippler make their way out of the ring as the music fades and we cut away.
A scarred white back dominates the frame. Twisted, crisscrossing scars traveling across musculature that is so wide from shoulder to shoulder that we can barely see anything else. Isaac’s face is aimed forward at one of the monitors somewhere in the back, white hair pushed back behind his ears.
The muffled sound of heavy guitars and pulsing drum beat interrupts the hushed meditation, emanating from the large set of head phones resting on the head of SHOOT Project Soldier “The Artist” Zex. who stands a meter or two away his emerald green eyes gazing upon the towering pallid warrior.
“The Artist” pauses, slipping the headphones from his ears; the lyrics can now be heard for a brief moment… “You never said forever, would ever hurt like this…” before he quietens the volume to a mere whisper. Zex steps forward standing a few feet away from the silent monolith, contemplating his next words very carefully.
Zex: A mutual “friend” of ours once uttered these profound, but truthful words; “You either embrace the darkness…Or you get lost in it.” I was so high and fucked up at the time…I didn’t realize it already had me…I’m not even sure I cared.
“The Artist” can almost sense Entragian’s ears prick up and while not turning around to face him, he knows he has his attention.
Zex: I tried both…I embraced it. I got lost in it. I wasn’t pulled into the abyss, I didn’t fall in. I stood on the edge of the deep, dark well and flirted with it like she was a lover; and then I chose to dive in head first.
He rubs the inside crook of his elbow, his hands running across a tattoo of Rain’s lipstick mark that reminds him never to stick a needle in his veins again.
Zex: People think it’s cold down there. But it’s warm, man…It’s almost blissful. But you can’t see yourself decaying; you don’t realize that thick black tentacles are reaching out of the darkness, wrapping themselves around everything and everyone you hold dear; tightening its grip on your life and poisoning everything around you.
“The Artist” watches as Isaac clenches his fists, his pale skin tightening around the whites of his knuckles.
Zex: And no motherfucker tells you, that you have a choice. It’s out of your hands, right? So you give in and you run with it…Hell, you even enjoy the chaos and misery, I did; I felt ethereal, I felt special; as if someone had let me in on some dark, forbidden secret. But then…You go so far down that rabbit hole that you start to believe that this is it, that you can’t ever turn back. It’s here that the fog starts to lift, you get little snapshots of your life and what you have become and it makes you feel sick.
Isaac’s hands extend, returning to normal; Zex nods his head, taking another cautious step forward.
Zex: If you can get past that nauseating feeling in the pit of your stomach, if you look up away from the destruction, even for just a second…You will see that the graveyard only stretches so far. For me I had Rain, she reached in and pulled me out on more than one occasion…And when someone offers you that helping hand.
“The Artist” turns away, looking over his shoulder at the “Ivory Terror” one last time…
Zex: You either slap it away and let the abyss drown you…Or you take it, you fight, you scratch and you claw your way out of the darkness and into the light…Ain’t nobody gonna make that choice for you…That one, it’s on you.
He heightens the volume of his music, the lyrics once again kicking in… “I wanna live, I wanna love but its a long hard road, out of hell…” and then places the headphones back over his head, continuing his pre-match ritual and leaving “The Pale Rider” to his thoughts.
The lights in the arena go down to a low dim. The crowd begins to stir and look towards the stage. A low, white smoke begins to pump out from behind the curtain. Over the PA system, a voice can be heard, booming throughout the arena.
It’s Been a long time coming…
It’s Life or death for me now…
But you know, there’s no turning back now…
This is what makes me…
This is what I am…
“Hate Me Now” by Nas begins to play throughout the arena as Dade Davis emerges from the the curtain. A few fans begin to cheer in appreciation, a few boo, but for the most part, there is little more than curious anticipation from the SHOOT fanbase as to how this man will perform. Dade Davis casually walks down the ramp. He slides underneath the bottom rope and shoots up to his feet, head held high. He pays little attention to what is going on around him. He solemnly waits in the center of the ring as Dennis Heflin checks his wrists.
“Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas suddenly blares over the arena. The fans erupt in a mixture of emotions. There are still quite a few fans in attendance clearly pulling for the Wayward Son, but more and more are starting to boo him. Without acknowledging any of them, Trey comes from the back and briskly walks towards the ring.
Trey slides into the ring, and without warning, charges into Dade Davis, bringing him down with a spear! Heflin calls for the bell as the music dies down. Trey is raining blows down one after another on Dade Davis. Samantha Coil, unable to introduce the match, quickly slides out of the ring as well.
Eryk Masters: Dear God, OG. Trey is like a man possessed! We’ve never seen him like this before.
Other Guy: Trey has been showing signs lately of being a man undergoing some change. I definitely didn’t expect this.
Trey continues to rain down on Davis as Heflin attempts to break the two men up. Trey continues to wildly fire blow after blow, until Dade finally is able to get his wits back about him. With a sudden jolt of power, Dade manages to get both hands on Trey’s chest and shove him across the mat. Dade fires up to his feet, eyes wild with anger. Trey rolls backward and rockets back up to his feet as well. Both men charge the center of the ring meeting as Dade Fires a vicious right hand into Trey Willett’s jaw. Trey stumbles back a step as Dade continues to throw another right, followed by a left. Dade backs Trey into the corner and rears back to deliver another right—But Trey leverages both hands into the second rop and BURIES both feet into the Midsection of Davis.
Davis stumbles back towards the middle of the ring as Trey uses both arms to leap up and position himself on the top rope.
Other Guy: This isn’t going to end well.
Eryk Masters: Yeah, but for who?
Dade stands straight up as Trey fires off from the top rope, attempting a hurricanrana but Dade CATCHES HIM MIDAIR! Dade uses the momentum to slam Trey to the mat for a powerful spinebuster. Dade props Trey legs over his shoulders as Heflin slides down to the mat for the count.
Trey powers his shoulders up and rolls over onto his side, clearly hurt. Dade comes back to his feet and walks towards Trey sending a heavy boot to the Trey’s right ankle. Trey curls up into a position attempting to protect the vulnerable ankle as Dade sends two more quick boot strikes to the affected ankle. The fans begin to pick up at the early intensity of this contest.
Eryk Masters: Finally after a high risk maneuver didn’t pay off for Trey, Dade is able to slow this match down to a more manageable pace.
Dade raises both arms out to his side, taunting SHOOT Project’s Wayward son to get up. He fires to more brutal boots to the ankle of Trey, who rolls over in intense pain. Dade reaches down and grabs Trey by the back of the head, lifting him to his feet. Dade fires into Trey’s chest with a hard knife-edged chop. The sound of the slap echoes through the arena a Dade delivers one more, then another. The force of the blow sends Trey backwards. Trey uses the momentum to lean back into the ropes and fire forward smacking Dade Davis with a clothesline! Both men collapse on the mat, before rolling over on their hands and knees. Both men are trying to get to their feet.
Trey Willett is first to his feet and runs towards the ropes, jumping up for a second rope moonsault BUT DAVIS IS UP LIKE A LIGHTING BOLT! Davis rises to his feet and flies to the second rope, pulling Trey down in a Russian Leg Sweep! Both men are back down on the mat!
Other Guy: What was that!? Where did this guy come from!?
Eryk Masters: Trey really did find himself quite the opponent here in the opening round of Master of the Mat. It looks like Davis has an answer for just about everything Trey is throwing at him.
Dade manages to throw an arm over Trey for the cover. Heflin slides down for the count.
Dade rolls over, and manages to get up to a sitting position in the corner of the ring. Trey rolls over onto his side and starts to bring himself up to his knees. Davis pulls himself up by the ropes and starts stalking towards Trey. He grabs Trey by the back of the head and rears back to deliver a right to Trey’s jaw, but Trey fires back with a right of his own into Dade’s midsection. Dade doubles over as Trey delivers another hard right into Dade’s midsection. Trey pulls himself up to both feet and delivers a left jab to Davis. Trey grabs Dade and fires him in an Irish whip to the ropes. As Dade rockets back towards Trey, he reaches up and pulls on the top rope, sending Dade tumbling over the top rope into a heap on the floor!
Dade pulls himself up to a rest on the crowd barrier, clearly favoring his head. He looks back up to the ring just in time to see Trey slingshot himself over the top rope, landing in a head onto Davis in a body splash! The crowd is on their feet now as both men are lying on the outside. Heflin begins to count both men out.
Trey is first to his feet, grabbing Dade by the back of the head. He uses Dade as a leaning post, pulling himself up. He pulls Dade to his feet by the back of the head and SLAMS him face first into the guardrail!
Dade rolls over, splayed out against the guardrail as Trey rains a flurry of blows down on Dade’s face. The fans count along “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR” After the fourth blow, Trey lifts Dade back to his feet.
With all of the strength that Trey can muster, he sends Dade flying into the steel steps with a hard hammer throw that leaves Dade crumpled on the other side of the steps. The sickening echoes throughout the arena.
Trey slowly walks over to Dade and picks him up, sliding him back into the ring. Trey slides in behind him breaking the count. Trey rises to his feet and grabs Dade by the arm, dragging him to the center of the ring. Trey lifts Dade up to his feet and delivers a hard boot to the midsection, doubling Dade over in pain. Trey hooks him into a double-underhook position.
Eryk Masters: Here we go folks, It’s time for the Dawn of a New Era!
Other Guy: Davis put up one Hell of a fight, but it looks like this one is about to be in the books.
Trey tries to sure his grip on Davis before leaping into the air, plummeting Davis face down with the Dawn of a New Era. Trey immediately gets back to his feet and looks down at his fallen foe. Heflin is already down on the mat, anticipating a cover attempt. Davis is out. Trey, not content, simply smiles and wags his finger at Heflin. He reaches down and rolls Davis onto his back. He walks over to the corner and leaps up onto the top turnbuckle. He takes a small second to size up his fallen opponent before leaping into the air with a TREY-50 SPLASH!
Eryk Masters: OH MY GOD!
Other Guy: I guess he wanted to make extra sure he was down?
Trey hooks the leg. Heflin hesitates before Trey waves his hand, assuring him he is finished. Heflin drops down for the count.
Heflin calls for the bell as Trey gets up to his feet.
Samantha Coil: You’re winner at a time of thirteen minutes and sixteen seconds. He will advance to the second round of the Master of the Mat tournament. He is the Wayward Son…TREY WILLLLLETTT!!!
“Carry on Wayward Son” hits the PA, but Trey is not done. He lifts Davis to his feet and walks towards the corner. He points at the SHOOT Helmet on the turnbuckle and shouts something indeterminate before drilling Davis’s head into the turnbuckle. Davis falls into a heap on the mat and Trey drops to the mat and slides out of the ring. He makes his way up the ramp, ignoring the spattering of boos behind him.
Eryk Masters: What is he doing? That was just unnecessary.
Other Guy: Trey said he wanted to make a statement. Looks like his point was made.
“All my life I’ve been searching for something
Something never comes never leads to nothing
Nothing satisfies but I’m getting close
Closer to the prize at the end of the rope
All night long I dream of the day
When it comes around then it’s taken away
Leaves me with the feeling that I feel the most
Feel it come to life when I see your ghost”
Pyros on each side of the Epicentre’s big screen explode towards the ceiling and the crowd starts cheering as the Foo Fighters “All My Life” plays across the sound system. Kale Tanev appears at the top of the stairs among the crowd and quickly makes his way down to the ring in worn jeans and a “KT” t-shirt. The SHOOT Project Rule of Surrender championship belt is thrown over one shoulder, held partially in place by his cross-strapped duffel belt.
Tanev hops over the black barricade, tossing his bag into the ring, sliding under the bottom rope. His face is grim as he is handed a mic from the ring crew.
I stand alone on the precipice of who you think I am.
I mean, listen, the SHOOT Project has done everything for me.
Six months ago I was living on the streets. Drifting from city to city. Just trying to get what I needed. Enough food to get me through the day. A coat to stay warm.
Three months ago it all changed. I found out that I was needed in my old life. I found desperation gnawed at me deeper than the threat of starvation.
I tried some things I’m scared to admit. But nobody really cared. My action were largely irrelevant to the world around me. The only people who may have been affected were victims of my behaviour. And myself. And certainly, nobody cared about me.
Tanev pauses for a moment, collecting himself and his thoughts.
I came out tonight to say sorry.
I owe everyone associated with the SHOOT Project an apology.
Last week I almost slid back to that dark place. I hate that expression. Dark place. It’s usually reserved for cowardly men who hide behind a cliché to justify their inexcusable actions.
Tanev pauses for a moment.
Wait. Maybe it’s time I admit that I’m a coward. I’ve run from my problems before. I can’t fall back into that old pattern. For the first time in a long time I have responsibilities other than to myself. That’s why I’m even here in the first place. Now I have a responsibility to honour the Rule of Surrender championship.
The crowd pops as Tanev holds the strap up high with one hand.
Last week I embarrassed myself, dishonoured this historic championship, and brought injustice to the SHOOT Project’s loyal fans when I tried to sell the belt. I feel the shame of a hundred defeats.
I have no excuse. The gravity of my situation overcame me. Weakness and alcohol reduced me as a man. And it nearly cost me everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve.
I know better than to ask for forgiveness. I’ve been down that road before. I’m too far gone to even try. But I will promise you that I will do better. That I will be better. I will strive to be a champion who you can be proud of. I will endeavor to be the best Rule of Surrender champion you’ve had. I will seek to be the greatest Master of the Mat in SHOOT Project history!
Tanev drops the mic in the centre of the ring and holds the belt up between his hands, above his head. The crowd cheers as “All My Life” crashes over the sound system and Tanev grabs his bag and then exits the Epicentre back through the crowd.
Without much warning, the lights in the arena dim down and the fans turn their attention to the Epitron. The scene on the Epitron is a dark and desolate hellscape. We see coyotes fighting over what appears to be a wet cloth. We see oil cans with flames spouting out from them. We see the husks of charred cars rusting in the night. Suddenly, a person skitters across the road from one side to the next. We hear the howl of a wolf. Then…we hear the voice…of Optimus Prime.
In a world of darkness, there are many trials…and tribulations.
We see a quick glimpse of an army marching through the streets in this hellscape, their guns are the ready.
Heroes and villains…gods…and devils.
The camera shifts to several children, staring at the army in fear. The soldiers marching reflected in their eyes.
But in our darkest hour…in our time of need…there is a need for something…someone…greater.
The soldiers stop marching as the camera pans to reveal a single solitary man standing in the road. He wears a poncho and a cowboy hat, his head bowed to the camera and the soldiers.
Someone who will fight for the little guy.
The soldiers are shown yelling at the man, pointing their guns at him. The children turn to him and are instantly comforted.
Someone just a little bit stronger, a little bit badder, and a little bit…do…do I have to say this?
Do it, Peter Cullen. I didn’t pay you to ad lib.
Very well. Someone a little bit…asser. Bad…Asser.
There you go. The soldiers continue to yell as the man slowly lifts his head, revealing his bearded chin. Before we see his face, the camera cuts out, leaving the arena in darkness. Suddenly, we hear an immortal line…
IN CONSTANT SORROW….ALL THROUGH HIS DAYS
“Man of Constant Sorrow” by Charm City Devils kicks in, bringing the fans to their feet.
I am a man of constant sorrow
I seen troubles all my days
And I bid farewell to old Kentucky
The place where I was born and raised
The place where I was born and raised
The lights come back on and standing in the center of the ring is that man wearing the old cowboy hat and poncho. He slowly lifts his head and the camera catches its first glimpse of the longer haired and bearded visage of…
Eryk Masters: Well I’ll be damned! It’s the Bluegrass Bad Ass!
Buck reveals a microphone tucked in underneath his poncho which the fans can clearly see a Bad Ass Brotherhood logo on the front and back of the poncho now.
Buck Dresden: Ladies an’ gennelmen…the time has come fer me to come…back…home.
The fans cheer him on.
Buck Dresden: I stand alone before y’all now a different man than I left. I went to Japan with my brother Charles…Brandon…Magnus…and we went on to dominate A1W as the Bad Ass Brotherhood.
The fans give a mixed reception, though much closer to positive.
Buck Dresden: I know I know…but, ya see, I done learned me up a thang or two since I was here last time, y’all. I left my boy Chuckles back in Japan and I came back here fer one reason and one reason only…
…it just ain’t SHOOT Project without a Bad Ass in it.
Buck Dresden: So I told my best good friend Jason Johnson, put me in the lion’s den! Put me in the deep end, coach, an’ I’ll Lochte it! Jeah!
Buck pops the collar on his poncho like a fucking pimp.
Buck Dresden: So Jason tol’ me “Well suckle my Buckle it’s Buck Fucking Dresden and he wants to get him some at long last!” I told him “Yeah, man, that’s me.” He said “Buck, I know just what we need you to do.” I said “What’s that?” He said “We need you to slap the SHIT outta Dan…FUCKING…Stein.”
The fans POP.
Buck Dresden: Now, Danny wants to be in that deep end right with me an’ maaaaan…I cain’t blame him. But here’s the thang…Jason wants me to get in on the ground floor and flyyyyyyyyyyyyyy to the tippy top. So what’s he do?
He decides Buck Dresden will face Dan Stein in the opening round of the MASTER OF THE MAT TOURNAMENT.
Buck grins through his sexy as fuck beard and long hair.
Buck Dresden: So Dan, get yer fuckin’ shine box, brother, because yer about to go head to head with the Bluegrass Bad Ass, Kentucky Fried Sexy, BUCK…FUCKING…DRESDEN.
See you soon!
“Man of Constant Sorrow” kicks back in, bringing the fans to their feet. He stands there, grinning from ear to ear as they continue to cheer.
Eryk Masters: Buck Dresden is BACK and he’s on his own! Can you believe it?! And he’s going one on one with none other than DAN STEIN! My goodness!
Other Guy: If your heart isn’t peeing, your soul’s gotta be pregnant with a sexy countrified baby!
The crowd dies down and the lights dim. A dark purple glow overtakes the Epicenter. A very light piano chord hits, and then percussion. It’s a bluesy beat, and the crowd recognizes it immediately. “Baddest Man Alive” by The Black Keys ft. RZA starts to pour through the arena speakers. The SHOOT Project video wall showcases “BADDEST MAN ALIVE” in western-style tombstone font, and the crowd is already ROARING when Adrian Corazon steps out from behind the curtains.
“I could take the pitchfork from the Devil; keep a super suit like I’m incredible…from the deep blue sea to the dark blue sky…”
“I’M THE BADDEST MAN ALIVE!”
Other Guy: Gotta say, I’m a fan of the music choice.
Eryk Masters: I think it fits. With the tear he’s on? I think that’s fair.
Samantha Coil: Introducing first… the challenger… he hails from Mexico City, Mexico…weighing in at two hundred and twenty five pounds… he is a former World Heavyweight Champion… THE BADDEST MAN ALIVE…ADRIAN CORAZON!!!
Corazon stands at the top of the ramp for a moment, smirk upheld on his face…and the crowd EXPLODES for one of SHOOT Project’s most dangerous Soldiers. Corazon’s trademark smiley face appears on the video wall, and dark purple pyro blasts up into the air on either side of the ramp, getting the frenzied fans even more excited. Corazon makes his way down the ramp and rolls into the ring.
“YOU’VE GOT THE TOUCH! YOU’VE GOT THE POWER!”
The fans in the arena EXPLODE in boos at the INSTANT that Stan Bush’s “The Touch” blares over the PA system. As blue and hot pink spotlights dance over the stage, Tina and Toni from Flex Magazine walk out from the back wearing Golden Boy workout shirts and yoga pants. The muscular women walk out to the ramp, and cross their arms over their chests. A woman dressed in an Avicii t-shirt with skinny jeans walks out from the back with Molly the Chimp in tow. The chimp has a baby blue Dan Stein t-shirt on, and blows raspberries out at the fans. Molly, Stein’s assistant, steps out from the backstage area leading Dan Stein out from the back. Dan has the Sin City Championship belt strapped like a bandolier over a baby blue vest and hood. The Golden Boy stops to shadow box at the top of the ramp. Samantha opens a piece of paper she held in her hand.
Samantha Coil: He is the former SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion, a TWO time former Iron Fist Champion, former World Tag Team Champion and the 2012 Redemption Rumble winner. Weighing in at two-hundred and fifteen pounds, from right here in Las Vegas, Nevada! Here is YOUR TWO-TIME REIGNING and DEFENDING SIN. CITY. CHAMPION….. The Golden Boy! DAAAAAAAAAAN STEIIIIIIIIN!!!!
Stein, raises his hands as the fans continue to rain down boos on him as the entourage begins to walk down the ramp. Walking down to the ring, Stein keeps his head lowered, continuing to shadow box! As Stein makes it to the ring, he stops, looking to his left, then his right, and…leaps to the apron. Dan ducks under the top rope into the ring. He shadow boxes for a few more seconds before stopping in the middle of the ring, bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet.
“Um, before we get started!” A voice booms out and the EpiTron immediately lights up to show the face of none other than the Real Deal, Executive Vice President of the SHOOT Project.
Real Deal: Hi guys. I just had a real quick detail I needed to pass along.
Stein and Corazon both look up to the screen, waiting.
Real Deal: Well, when we booked this match, it was booked just as a Shut Up and Fight match. That’s pretty much all we wanted out of it. We appreciate your willingness to defend the Sin City Championship, Dan, but umm… here’s the thing.
Real Deal laughs and points to the nameplate on his desk that reads “Executive Vice President.”
Real Deal: You don’t get to dictate to us what you do and don’t do, and while we’re typically very lenient when it comes to you guys kinda deciding your own fate… we’ve been told with you, to keep the leash a bit tighter. So, there’s not going to be a title on the line in this match.
The crowd boos.
Real Deal: I know, I know. Normally, I’d be all about Dan Stein defending, but I think we need to remind Stein that his place is as an employee and not someone who steers the ship. You can pretty much blame him for that.
The crowd still boos.
Real Deal: Sorry guys, I know! Look, we’ll make it up to you another way, another time. I gotta run, though. Let’s get this match underway.
Stein is furious as the bell rings and Adrian Corazon is the immediate aggressor. He takes off running and flies across the ring, landing a hard right hand which stuns and staggers Dan Stein back into his own corner. Corazon follows this up with a series of three more right hands before Scott Kamura backs him away. Stein takes a big deep breath and moves out of his corner.
ACT OF REALITY.
Eryk Masters: Holy SHIT.
Other Guy: Dan Stein just got FLATTENED.
Stein kicks out!
Eryk Masters: Well, it won’t be quite that quick. Stein gets his shoulder up and he’s already shaking out the cobwebs.
Other Guy: I have to say, I’m surprised that Corazon went there so early and even more surprised that Dan Stein kicked out of it convincingly even after being taken completely off guard.
Corazon is to his feet as Stein is getting to his. He’s stalking the Sin City Champion who gets back to a standing position. Corazon immediately aggresses again, clobbering Stein with rights and lefts. He goes for a spinning elbow, but Stein ducks it. Corazon staggers off balance. Stein moves in front of him and then flips him over with a beautiful hip toss. Corazon gets back to his feet, though a bit slower than Stein is able to center himself. Corazon moves towards Stein who trips him and hits a drop toe-hold.
Eryk Masters: Stein’s recovered nicely here.
Other Guy: The guy is the reigning Sin City Champion and a former World Heavyweight Champion. Corazon knows he’s not in the ring with a scrub just like Stein knows he’s going to have to basically be perfect to capture a win here.
Stein follows up by kicking a downed Corazon in the chest. He then drops a leg across the back of Corazon’s neck and immediately follows up with a pin attempt.
Corazon kicks out.
Other Guy: Corazon’s not going to be shut down with some basic stuff either.
Stein is up on his feet, waiting on Corazon. Corazon gets to a knee, Stein charges. Stein wraps his arm around Corazon’s neck and drags him down with a reverse bulldog! Stein pops to his feet and starts showboating for the crowd, who shower him with LOUD boos!
Eryk Masters: I was GOING to say that Stein is doing a great job at staying aggressive and taking the fight to Corazon, but this little interlude kind of deflated that.
Other Guy: Stein is definitely sending a message with this. He’s telling Corazon that this is the pace he can expect and he’s going to rub that in as much as possible.
Eryk Masters: Real quick, though… looks like that might not work, because Corazon is back to his feet.
The fans boos quickly turn to cheers as they see Corazon on his feet. He smirks as Stein turns around. When Stein turns, he cocks back and hits ANOTHER Act of Reality! Stein crumples to the ground and Corazon covers!
Stein kicks out again, still pretty convincingly.
Other Guy: Say one thing about Dan Stein, say that he won’t be felled so cleanly. This is a man who’s going to fight.
Eryk Masters: I’m kind of curious what Corazon’s gameplan is. Right now, he’s hit two superkicks and some punches and he’s gone for covers after each Act of Reality.
Other Guy: I think he’s establishing that, to him, this is a striking game right now. Beyond that, I’m not really sure myself. Tell you one thing, though. Stein’s head and neck have to be throbbing.
Stein is slowly getting to his feet and Corazon is watching and waiting. Stein gets up, Corazon goes and locks him into a front facelock. With Stein’s head and neck trapped, Corazon walks Stein back into a corner. When Stein’s back meets the turnbuckle, Corazon winds back and open hand SLAPS Stein across the face. The crowd pops, but Stein seems to be enraged by the action and his face is blood red as he looks back towards Corazon. With cat-like quickness, Stein rakes Corazon across the eyes, stunning the Brutal Inhuman. Stein immediately follows up and delivers a MEAN low blow! The crowd boos vehemently and Stein is just smiling.
Eryk Masters: Think Stein felt mocked there?
Other Guy: Oh you know he did.
Corazon didn’t slump all the way to the ground, instead backed into a corner. Stein follows up, going after Corazon’s chest with some knife edge chops! The crowd boos for every one, and boos even LOUDER when Stein backs off to taunt Corazon a bit. Corazon’s still stunned, so Stein hits him with three more. He finishes the combo off with a hard right hand, and Corazon takes a seat on the mat.
Eryk Masters: Corazon’s not looking quite so inhuman right now. In fact, he’s looking decidedly human.
Other Guy: I think it was the low blow that did that, but.. that’s just a guess.
Eryk Masters: Astute.
Dan takes a few steps back, and flies into the corner with a splash! Corazon stumbles out of the corner, Stein takes post in the corner and then runs behind Corazon and brings him down with a bulldog. Stein covers!
Eryk Masters: Corazon’s not going to go quietly into the night either.
Other Guy: The funny thing about this is Corazon’s motivation for taking this match so soon. He just wanted to prove a point and handle this “distraction” as he called it. Now, he’s on the end of another ass-whooping, just like he got against King.
Eryk Masters: Yeah, I agree. He’s taken some damage in this match for sure. Stein is definitely game.
Stein pulls Corazon to his feet by the hair, drawing ire from Scott Kamura. Stein grouses with Kamura, allowing Corazon a few seconds to catch his breath. Stein walks off from Kamura and sees Corazon starting to get to his feet. He stops that by quickly locking Corazon’s head and neck up and pulling him up into a vertical suplex. Corazon clutches his back from the impact, and Stein continues, getting to his feet and driving boot after boot into Corazon’s back.
Other Guy: Stein’s bringing up the intensity level now.
Eryk Masters: Yep, doing work on Corazon’s scarred back.
Stein moves to Corazon’s feet now and picks them up. He smiles to the crowd and starts to lock in the Sin City Deathlock! The crowd boos and Corazon is obvious in his anguish. Stein’s got him in the center of the ring, and Kamura goes to check on Corazon, who aggressively shakes his head no. Stein locks in the hold just a little bit harder, and you can see Corazon gritting his teeth. Kamura checks him again, but Corazon again says no.
Other Guy: And this’d be why he was doing work on his back.
Eryk Masters: Yessir. The Sin City Deathlock is painful as hell. Corazon’s going to have to really work to get through this.
Corazon starts to claw his way to the rope to the surprise of Dan Stein. He gets just inches away, but Stein starts to drag him into the center. Corazon uses the change in momentum to put his hands flat on the mat and push up. This allows him to free himself and roll away from Stein. Corazon gets to his feet as Stein is charging with a lariat, but Corazon ducks. Stein rebounds off the rope and throws it again, but Corazon ducks again! Stein rebounds one more time, but Corazon is waiting! He throws a HARD right hand into Stein which rocks him. Corazon throws his hands behind Stein’s head and drags him down into the ACT OF INHUMANITY. THE CROWD POPS.
Eryk Masters: HE DID IT. WOW.
Other Guy: I bet that move hurt a LOT more after taking the two superkicks early in the match. Yeah, Stein put up an amazing fight and had Corazon on the ropes a couple of times, but that turnaround was SO quick.
Stein leaves the ring, visibly upset, as Samantha Coil climbs into the ring to raise Corazon’s hand.
Samantha Coil: Your winner at a time of fourteen minutes and twelve seconds… the BADDEST MAN ALIVE… ADRIAN CORAZON.
Corazon holds the championship up as “Baddest Man Alive” hits the PA.
Eryk Masters: Have to be honest… this win keeps the narrative about Corazon going. Big wins over King and Stein in a matter of two weeks. Very impressive.
Other Guy: And if he keeps winning… he’ll be the number one contender, too. His momentum is off the chart right now.
Eryk Masters: I’d be worried, if I were the rest of the field. And what will Dan Stein do? He REALLY wanted that win.
Other Guy: I guess we’ll see what happens here in the next few weeks.
We cut to ringside at the Epicenter as the lights flicker off then immediately back up. The fans in the arena begin a hushed mumbling over what could be going on as they hear the PA key up over the epicenter speakers.
It Kills me not to notice but I’ve all but just forgotten
What the color of her eyes were or her scars or how she got them
As the telling signs of age rain down a single tear is dropping
Through the valleys of an aging face that this world has forgotten…
There is a bright flash of white pyro on the stage as “Savior” by Rise Against blares kicks in over the speakers. Just as the crowd starts to realize what is going on, Solomon Richards emerges from behind the curtain. He wears a faded pair of denim blue jeans and a plain white t-shirt tucked in. There is a mild, positive reaction from the crowd for the return of the former Rule of Surrender Champion. He brushes his deep brown curls from his face as makes his way down the ramp.
There are a few fans that reach out to touch Solomon and he responds in kind with a slap on each hand that is outstretched. As he walks down the ramp, the camera catches a clear glimpse of an ear to ear smile on the face of the big man. He finally makes his way to the ring and from the floor, he reaches up and grasps the top rope and pulls himself to the apron and up and over the rope.
Once in the ring, the music begins to die down. He stands in the center of the ring, those that still remember him in the crowd still giving him his due respect. He raises a microphone to his face with one hand, and raises his arm in the air with another to quiet everyone down a bit.
Solomon: SHOOT Project…It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Last time I was in this ring, I was losing my Rule of Surrender Championship. I’m not going to lie to you guys. That one really hurt me a lot. Sure, I was here and there in between that and SHOOT taking itself a little break. But I was never really the same after that, ya know?
All through our extended vacation, all I could think about was how good it felt to come out here and give you fine people the show of your lives. All I could think about was how wonderful it felt to be YOUR Rule of Surrender Champion. Now I’ve sat in the back of the Epicenter for almost a month now, thinking about just when I would be ready to make my comeback. Did I want to enter the Master of the Mat tournament? Did I want to just walk out here and challenge the Champ? Or did I want to just wait until the good folks in the office decided that they were going to put me on a show.
After putting in some heavy consideration, I thought I would just come out here and tell you guys face to face. Solomon Richards? He’s back. I’ll see you all next Revolution.
Solomon puts the microphone back into his back pocket as his music starts to play over the PA once more. A limited spattering of fans begin to cheer as Solomon smiles and steps out of the ring. He raises a hand and waves at the fans that he can see, and reaches out to slap hands with those that reach out to him. As Solomon makes his way back through the curtain, the music fades to a close.
Just moments before the main event and the camera finds itself focused on the locker room door. Listed are a few names, mostly free agents who haven’t earned the right to an individual room for preparing and amidst those names is TREVOR WORRENS, a name the camera focuses on.
Eryk Masters: We’re just moments away from tonight’s main event and after that contest between Stein and Corazon, well both Zex and Trevor Worrens are going to be looking to pull out all the stops.
The door opens and fans watching live and from their computers are expecting Trevor Worrens but are greeted by the six foot seven wraith, WAILER.
Wailer: Yeah… we heard you loud and clear this week. Glad you finally wised up and came around.
Wailer closes the door, throws up a quick middle finger to the camera and then shoves past it, causing the cameraman to almost lose his balance and fall to the floor. It cuts away from there.
Samantha Coil: Ladies and gentlemen tonight’s main event is a round one Master of the Mat tournament match!
The haunting yet energetic piano begins, then the electric guitar… the music swelling to a single moment.
"LET GO!…. This time It’s Different"
The opening scream and first line of "This Time It’s Different" by Evans Blue is the queue as Trevor Worrens walks out from the back taking in the crowd for but a second.
Samantha Coil: Introducing first, weighing in at two hundred and fourteen pounds and hailing from Claremont New Hampshire… here is Trevor Worrens!
Worrens heads down towards the ring, accompanied by a smattering of cheers but not much crowd reaction otherwise. Behind him his name shows up on the video screen in low-fi film grain quality then cuts away to some older footage of Worrens competing. The clips are all faded accept for a clip of Worrens making Chris Michaels tap out. This video package continues on a loop as Worrens walks up the steel side steps and into the ring.
Eryk Masters: At Revolution one twenty five, Trevor Worrens returned after a near 6 year absence and earned himself a spot in this year’s intensely competitive Master of the Mat tournament. Tonight
Other Guy: Worrens is definitely man on a mission, and I like it. I like the edge, I like the focus, but ya gotta wonder if his drive is causing him a bit of tunnel vision both in regards to the match tonight and the competition of this tournament.
Eryk Masters: That’s a good point, and certainly The Artist Zex believes that to be the case, OG. Doubtful you’ll ever see those two hanging out backstage anytime soon.
Other Guy: Yeah, and that’s how it should be. Master of the Mat ain’t about making friends, it’s about making your way through the competition.
Trevor’s very agreeable with official Tony Lorenzo who checks him upon entrance into the ring. He shows his boots and allows for a quick pat down before backing into "his" corner" at the back left side of the ring. There’s not a whole lot of fanfare for the former champion, though he doesn’t seem to take notice one way or another. Worrens’s music starts to fade and the cameras take a wider angle around the ring, where we see a few additional officials as well as a couple local independent talents who have been hired on as "security".
Eryk Masters: Some extra "eyes" and help down here at ringside. After the brutal assault on Donovan King by Billy Winter two weeks ago, it looks like the higher ups have clamped down on security to protect the tournament participants.
Other Guy: With so much at stake, as well as so many "non-contracted" employees participating, it’s probably a security measure that needs to be taken. Plus, Eryk, it really goes a long way to protect the legitimacy of the event as well. Cut out the proverbial "dusty finishes" and "screwball endings" and you avoid a lot of "what if" garbage from your fans and competitors both.
As Other Guy trails off "Wait" by DIIV begins to play and the crowd stirs to life quite a bit more than they did for Worrens. The melodic, trance like sounds signal the arrival of the young and popular Soldier, ZEX! The curtains rustle, and on cue, the Artist arrives with a BANG! Pyro shoots off from the all-around the entrance area and the fans scream loudly with delight!
Samantha Coil: And his opponent… from Toronto, Ontario, Canada… Weighing in at two hundred and nineteen pounds… "THE ARRRRRTIST" ZEEEEEEEEEX!!!
Zex has some CRAZY energy going tonight as he flies down toward the ring, slapping a few high-fives on his way.
Other Guy: A pretty important night for this kid, Masters. The fans are really taking to him and, from what I hear, he’s become pretty popular with the boys in the back as well. He’s a great competitor but he really needs this win tonight.
Eryk Masters: In fairness, both men NEED this win because without it, their aspirations to become SHOOT Project’s MASTER OF THE MAT will be dashed. It’s a very interesting contest between two men, battling obscurity and destiny. A GIANT contrast to our main event two weeks ago that pitted, arguably, two of the biggest names in our company. Neither of these men are Adrian Corazon or Donovan King… YET, but a win here tonight and a good showing, and either one of these guys CAN and WILL become household names.
Zex stops near the barricade in front of the ring and raises his hands in the air and shouts wildly at the crowd. They cheer back and he slaps his chest two times before pointing out at them in appreciatation. Worrens takes all of this in from inside, through "poker" eyes that seem to be analyzing every movement Zex makes. The Artist finally spins around and hops up on the apron. He points to a few more fans off his right, before turning and entering the ring.
While the music fades, Tony Lorenzo greets him inside and does the same quick check-in he performed on Worrens. Zex obliges and clears. He spins to face Worrens, whom he nods his head at while hopping anxiously, three times. Lorenzo checks in with Worrens who nods that he’s ready… double checks with Zex.
They’re both GOOD TO GO!
Lorenzo calls for the bell!
Eryk Masters: And we’re off with this all too important CONTEST! Zex. Worrens. MASTER OF THE MAT, ROUND ONE, FOLKS!!!
Worrens moves in quickly, hands up near his face. He throws a warning palm strike. Zex flinches. Worrens moves in and catches Zex off guard with a knee strike to the midsection! Zex fires back WILDLY with a chop! Worrens is able to absorb a solid deal of the blow. He throws a kick at Zex’s left leg! Zex leaps back! Worrens charges back with a knee! Zex is able to barrel roll away to the side! He then quickly gets to his feet and springboards off the second rope! He spins around in midair with a low angle cross body! Worrens drops flat to the mat and Zex flies over, but manages to tuck his shoulders in and summersault back up! Worrens is up quickly to greet Zex with an open palm strike to the mouth right as he tries to turn back around! Zex is caught off guard by the stiff strike! Worrens spins and connects with a follow-up elbow strike that CRACKS Zex in the side of the head. Zex carelessly WHIPS back around with a sloppy right handed strike attempt. Worrens blocks it, though, grabbing his hand and quickly executing an arm wringer, neutralizing his opponent before BARRELING him with a knee to midsection and finishing with a FOREARM STRIKE TO HIS FACE!!!
"OOOH" the fans react to the stiff series of attacks from Worrens who is brutally aggressive early on.
Eryk Masters: Worrens firing on all levels at the start and I do not believe that Zex is going to win in a brawl with the former SHOOT Project World Champion
Other Guy: I was just about to say the same thing, Eryk. Zex needs to find some separation. His strengths tonight are going to be stamina and innovation. Worrens is ground and pound, but he’s limited in his offense, whereas the sky is the limit, QUITE LITERALLY, for The Artist.
Worrens pushes Zex back into the ropes and appears ready to swing him away; however, he pulls it back and instead throws a SICK forearm smash into Zex’s chest. He then makes a SECOND attempt to throw him, but AGAIN stops short, this time bringing him down to the mat with a SHORT ARMED CLOTHESLINE! Zex hits the back of his head hard and Worrens goes for a quick cover!
Lorenzo drops for the count!
"ONE!" Worrens reaches for the leg "T…"
Zex is able to get out before a two count. Worrens gets up quickly, only to land down errantly with a SNAP elbow drop across Zex’s chest! Worrens stays on top and hooks the leg.
Zex is out again.
Worrens is careful to limit any space between he and his opponent, wasting little time as he lifts Zex up by the back of his head and arms. He pulls him into a DDT position, but instead keeps him locked in with a front facelock. He yanks back a couple of times and then throws a pretty stiff potato shot to the neck. Zex shouts something and Worrens drapes his his arm over the back of his head, setting up for suplex! Zex, however, somehow manages to squirm of his grip and reverse with a ROLL-UP ATTEMPT! HOWEVER, Worrens, having, perhaps, a bit more strength actually ROLLS THROUGH THE ROLL-UP with Zex, and muscles both him and his opponent back to their feet!
Eryk Masters: WOW.
Worrens grips onto Zex’s shoulders, presses down to keep him stabilized, and in one motion, elevates himself up and backward, before quickly SWINGING BACK WITH BOTH KNEES INTO ZEX’S KNEES!
Other Guy: Oh man! EUCH!!
Other Guy provides the voice of the cringing fans! Zex HOWLS in pain, while Worrens grabs at his right knee.
Eryk Masters: Worrens perhaps sacrificing his own mobility for the opportunity to take Zex’s aerial game away and GOOD LORD that did not look or sound pretty.
Other Guy: If you’re the kind of weirdo wrestling fan that likes labeling and naming moves, Worrens calls that Knee to Knee combat, and yeah… Geeze, man. That looked horrible.
Worrens gingerly pulls himself to his feet, while Zex, on his back and in great pain, slaps the mat with both hands. Weirdly, the fans start to sort of boo Worrens. The former world champion appears momentarily caught off guard as he sort of peers to the right and left, but doesn’t otherwise slow his pace. Worrens hobbles over to Zex and pulls him up off the mat to very little resistance. Worrens works him back into the corner, where he GRIIIIIIINDS his forearm up against Zex’s face. Lorenzo starts a five count, but Trevor stops at THREE. Worrens throws a strike, but Zex is actually able to get his arm up and deflect the attack! Worrens seems a bit caught off guard! He comes back with a second attack that lands, but Zex is able to absorb most of it by covering up and ducking into the corner. Worrens seems irritated, but maybe also a little gassed as well.
Other Guy: Worrens may have gone a little too hard early… Kind of a couple lazy strikes and plus he put Zex into a pretty decent spot defensively. Not much room against the turnbuckles…
Worrens throws a quick kick into Zex’s exposed right thigh and it lands HARD! The "CRACK" draws another "OOH" from the crowd. But ZEX FIRES BACK WITH A WILD KNIFE EDGE CHOP OUT OF NOWHERE! The blow lands at Worrens’s NECK OF ALL PLACES!!
Eryk Masters: Ugly defensive chop but it LANDED. Zex is not giving in.
Other Guy: If it feels right, Zex is gonna do it.
Worrens is NOT happy about that attack from Zex! He charges in screaming with a PALM STRIKE! Zex is mostly defensive and so the blow is mostly eaten by the muscles around his upper arm. Lorenzo requests that Worrens backs out of the corner, and the former world champ agrees. Worrens shakes his head and takes a deep breath, now gesturing for Zex to come at him.
Lorenzo checks on Zex, while Worrens seems to feel he’s given plenty of time for his opponent. Worrens moves back in to restart his assault, but Zex grabs the ring post and slings himself away, out of the ring and on to the apron! Worrens cannot react quickly enough! Zex springboards back in and connects with a PICTURE-ESQUE kick to the side of Worrens’s head! Worrens staggers backward and falls into the ropes! Zex starts to run at the ropes, but holds up and grabs his knees. He drops down! Worrens charges, BUT ZEX EXPLODES WITH A SPINNING HEEL KICK!!!
Eryk Masters: A little bit of possum from the young man!
Other Guy: Or he just knew he couldn’t explode like he wanted and lured Worrens in… which is what it looks like.
Zex grabs at his leg and starts to slapping the mat. The fans clap along, hoping the Artist can get back into the swing of things. Worrens sits up and shakes the cobwebs off, realizing he may have gotten lazy. He as well slaps the mat, though only once, with a MUCH more aggression. He spins around and up to face Zex from a vertical base. Worrens moves in, but Zex rolls him up!!!
Worrens is put into a pinning predicament!!
Worrens powers out at Lorenzo’s second count! Zex hobbles up quickly, Worrens tries to grab at the back of shoulder’s but Zex NARROWLY runs out of his grip! Worrens tumbles forward. Zex, feeling the momentum makes a detour and turns sharply to his left! He jumps toward the ring ropes and springboards back with a SHINING WIZARD! KNEE TO THE SIDE OF WORRENS FACE!!!
Eryk Masters: WOW! Incredible instincts! He felt Worrens falling, cuts to his right and we have a PUNISHING STRIKE!!!
Other Guy: An impressive turning point in this one. Worrens is slipping fast and Zex is FEELING IT! LISTEN TO THIS CROWD COME ALIVE!
Zex pumps his fists and quickly scurries for a cover.
Lorenzo drops to make the count…
The crowd STIRS.
Other Guy: LOOK OUT!!!
Lorenzo doesn’t even get to a count of one, before JASON RILEY IS OUT OF THE CROWD AND INTO THE RING!!! The officials and security at ringside RUSH toward the action! TOM QUINN AND WAILER ARE CLOSE BEHIND!! Lorenzo is up to try and stop anything from happening!
Eryk Masters: DAMNIT!
Zex sees Riley and STORMS AFTER HIM, but one of the security guys stops that from happening. Everyone is TRYING to keep order, but its NUTS! Everyone is on their feet trying to figure out WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON! Riley SWINGS WILDLY at one of the back-up officials. It looks like it might be Willie Dean! Two security guys come over to stop it but Wailer LEVELS ONE OF THEM WITH A RIGHT HOOK! Quinn follows with a KNOCK OUT KICK to one of the other guards! Austin Linam, pulls Quinn back!!! Riley LUNGES AT ZEX!!! BUT WORRENS LUNGES BACK UP TO PUSH HIM AWAY AT THE LAST MINUTE!!! Worrens is SCREAMING at Riley!
"GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!"
All of a sudden Tom Quinn NAILS WORRENS FROM BEHIND WITH A SHARP KICK TO THE BACK OF HIS KNEE!!! Worrens falls back down to the mat! WAILER CHARGES, BUT IT’S ZEX WHO CUTS HIM OFF BY LITERALLY THROWING HIS BODY AT HIM! WAILER HITS THE MAT!!! Security pulls Riley away! Lorenzo doesn’t seem to have any idea what to do! Zex kicks at Wailer, while Worrens tries to help pull everyone apart! Worrens grabs at Quinn, but two security guys and Willie Dean help pull him back! Lorenzo is SCREAMING at Riley, Quinn and Wailer to get out…
Zex turns to Worrens now. He’s saying something but it’s hard to tell. Zex SHOVES Worrens and points to Riley and Quinn. Wailer SHRUGS a guard off and tries to get back in the fray! Zex spins back to defend himself! Lorenzo joins three other guys to neutralize the larger man…
Which is when the crowd EXPLODES.
Out of nowhere, JONNY JOHNSON STORMS INTO THE RING! Still in his suit from earlier… He slides right in, undetected, unhindered!
Other Guy: THE DEFILER??? WHAT???
Jonny moves behind Worrens!!!
HE LOCKS IN THE CHICKEN WING!
Zex turns back around!
JONNY, WITH THE MOVE STILL CINCHED IN, SWINGS WORRENS AROUND AND PLANTS HIM FACEFIRST INTO THE MAT WITH THE DEMORALIZATION PROCESS!!!! Zex is PISSED OFF!
THE FANS ARE CONFUSED AND GOING CRAZY.
Eryk Masters: What is happening???
Wailer’s finally out of the ring and Lorenzo turns back around, but Jonny’s already left the ring. He’s SCREAMING at Zex to make the pin, but Zex is FURIOUS. Riley is still shouting something across the ring… Only to bet met with a middle finger from Jonny.
Lorenzo checks in with Zex, who can only shake his head.
Worrens is out.
Other Guy: Did Lorenzo see the attack? If Zex says anything… he loses this match.
Eryk Masters: But does he want to WIN like this? This is HUGE! What on EARTH is this about…?
Other Guy: Those three assholes, man…
Lorenzo is trying to figure out what happened. Security and the other officials manage to get Riley, Quinn and Wailer to the back, leaving Zex and Lorenzo in the ring, Jonny outside of it… and Worrens dead in the middle of it. Zex is just shaking his head, and so Tony Lorenzo shouts outside to Jonny, having ZERO clue why he’s here. Jonny smirks out of disbelief at Zex, for whatever reason, and turns his back, shaking his head in frustration.
Zex shouts out a very audible "Fuck". Lorenzo looks at Worrens and then at Zex.
Eryk Masters: This is insanity right now.
The fans are confused and loud. Everyone on their feet, not sure what they just witnessed.
Zex turns to Worrens and WAVES for him to get up… but Worrens isn’t moving. He slams his fist into his palm and shouts AGAIN.
"COME ON! GET UP! GET UP TREVOR!"
No matter how hard Zex waves… Worrens is down.
Lorenzo again checks in with Zex, who this time shoves the official away and drops down next to Worrens. He again shouts, but in vain.
He finally just closes his eyes, grabs Worrens leg and makes the cover.
Lorenzo hesitates, but drops down.
"ONE!" "TWO!" "THREE!!!"
The bell sounds and "Wait" by DIIV. The crowd reaction is muted, most of them out of breath and, or energy.
Zex rolls back over to his side and sits up, staring out at nothing in particular, deflated.
Samantha Coil: The winner of this match and moving on to ROUND TWO in the TWO THOUSAND FOURTEEN MASTER OF THE MAT TOURNAMENT… THE ARTIST, ZEEEEEEEEX!!!!
A few doctors rush into the ring to check on Worrens, while Zex shakes his head and rolls out of the ring.
Eryk Masters: Frustration from Zex, and I can’t say I blame him. He was on a roll after surviving a pretty brutal assault from Worrens… Things got weird, and now a huge cloud of doubt and what ifs could potentially follow him throughout the rest of the tournament.
Other Guy: A lot of questions, Eryk, and I think it might be a couple of weeks before all of this gets sorted out. I’m gonna have to go home and watch this thing again for sure. Congratulations, though, to Zex… I know you’re talking about the what ifs, Eryk, but they happen in our sport. And what we KNOW is that that young man battled hard and looked absolutely amazing. Him and Worrens both to be totally honest. You live for moments, in this business, and whatever the hell happened out here… well…
"It was a moment."
“HORIZON” by D’espairsRay blazes into the Epicenter, and the fans EXPLODE with cheers as MAYA NAKASHIMA bounces out from the curtains! The World Heavyweight Champion smiles brightly, gazing out at the fans, and the fans respond by taking the positive reaction even further, people rising in the stands and clapping wildly for the Soldier of HOPE.
Other Guy: These fans are damn near blowing my eardrums out…that means one thing and one thing only…Maya Nakashima is HERE!!
Eryk Masters: We’re just getting word about an impromptu match the World Champion will be involved in tonight…the details are slowly trickling in, this definitely was NOT planned…
Other Guy: Card is subject to change, E! That’s the beauty of SHOOT Project!
Samantha Coil: Introducing first, from Nagasaki, Japan…weighing in at 120lbs…SHOOT PROJECT’S WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION…MAYA NAKASHIMA!!!
Maya RUNS down the ramp, slapping hands with every single fan who makes the effort to reach out a hand…and then Maya reaches the apron and jumps up onto the top rope, proceeding to springboard and roll and his way into the ring before popping back up to his feet…much to the enjoyment of the capacity crowd.
Eryk Masters: One thing is abundantly clear here tonight. These people LOVE Maya Nakashima. This young man brings a level of energy to the World Champion role that we haven’t seen in a long time.
Other Guy: I’m eager to see who he’ll be facing off against tonight…seeing Maya competing is always a treat.
Samantha Coil: And his opponents…
Eryk Masters: Did uh…she say opponents? Like…plural?
The curtains open…and Soldiers begin STREAMING out from the back. Charles Brandon Magnus steps out, Chance Ryan steps out, and they’re followed by Diego Reyes, Javier Gomez, Hellmutt, Pablo Diablo, both members of RINGO STARR…the top of the ramp keeps filling up, Kobayashi Maru joins the others…and the last man to emerge from the back is a grinning AZRAEL GOEREN!!
Other Guy: What…in the hell…is this?
Eryk Masters: I count TEN guys up there, OG. These are all guys currently competing with SHOOT’s international brands….Reality Check and AlieNation-One based out of Mexico and Japan.
Other Guy: Some familiar faces too. Magnus, Chance…even Goeren. I’m not understanding what exactly is playing out here, though…are we about to see a lumberjack match or something?
Samantha Coil runs to the side, receiving word from one of the ringside techs…and then she brings her microphone back up to her lips, his voice slightly confused and uncertain.
Samantha Coil: I have just been informed that this match will be a HANDICAP MATCH. Maya Nakashima will be facing off…against all TEN Soldiers from the AlieNation-One and Reality Check rosters…and this match will be contested under NO DISQUALIFICATION RULES!
Maya’s eyes widen in the ring, the fans begin BOOING loudly…and all of the men start to storm their way down the ramp, walking in pairs with many sets of eyes locked on the World Heavyweight Champion.
Eryk Masters: Are you KIDDING me right now? Who in their right mind would book a match like this??
Other Guy: This…is ridiculous, E. TEN guys vs. ONE guy??? That’s not a match. That’s not any kind of competitive fight. That…is a SLAUGHTER.
Eryk Masters: Something’s not adding up here, E. Whoever is pulling the strings on this thing CLEARLY wants to see Nakashima torn to pieces…
The men start to circle the ring, all of them cutting off ANY means of escape for Maya like wild dogs zeroing in on fresh prey. Maya is trying to look everywhere at once, his body slowing rotating in the ring…his fists raised.
Eryk Masters: Hold up…I’m just getting more information trickling in here. We’re now being told that SEVERAL Soldiers are BANNED from ringside for this match.
Other Guy: WHAT?
Eryk Masters: Zex…Loco Martinez…Omar Owens…Donovan King…Crippler…all BANNED from ringside.
Other Guy: Uh…does it strike you as a coincidence that those men are all friends and allies of Mayas? Guys that would likely try to come out and help Maya even up the odds here…
Eryk Masters: This started out smelling fishy, but now it just smells purely ROTTEN.
Several of Maya’s opponents begin to climb up onto the apron…but before they can fully encircle Maya, the World Champion hits the ropes in pure desperation and SPRINGBOARDS up and over the top rope with a BODY SPLASH that takes out half of the ten Soldiers! Bodies fly all over the place, and Maya jumps right back to his feet and grabs the closest body…turning to throw Pablo Diablo back into the ring beneath the bottom rope!
Eryk Masters: Holy crap…Maya just launched himself into these men and knocked most of them down like bowling pins! Seems the World Champion is set on making a fight out of this regardless of how hopelessly outnumbered he is…
Other Guy: One thing that we all know for a FACT, Maya Nakashima is ALL heart and he will not back down from any kind of challenge!
Maya is busy sending lightning fast kicks into Pablo’s ribs, but suddenly Chance Ryan and Hellmutt slam into Maya from behind, just ruthlessly NAILING the World Champion with clubbing blows. Maya manages to shake them off, and he hits the ropes…AND NAILS BOTH OF THEM WITH A FRONT DROPKICK, BOTH BOOTS CONNECTING WITH BOTH MEN’S FACES!!!
Chance flies backwards into a turnbuckle and Hellmutt is DOWN!
The fans ROAR in approval!!!
Other Guy: Does Maya actually think he can WIN this thing?
Eryk Masters: I think he does, OG! Maya’s all about HOPE…and he’s not ready to let hope die just yet, no matter the odds!
More Soldiers are getting into the ring, and Maya is ZIPPING back and forth, his hair flying out wildly behind his head. Maya rams a forearm into Diego Reye’s jaw, then he runs to the side and takes Javier Gomez out with a leaping leg lariat!
Maya pumps his fists, feeling the adrenaline…but he is SMASHED DOWN INTO THE CANVAS FROM BEHIND VIA A LUNGBLOWER FROM CHARLES BRANDON MAGNUS!!!
Maya is rolling around in pain, obviously hurting…and Magnus begins to just STOMP down on him, and then both members of Ringo Starr join Magnus and begin to just SMASH kicks into Maya’s ribs and torso!
Other Guy: Come on! How is this even HALFWAY fair??
Eryk Masters: It’s not, OG. Whoever orchestrated this farce of a match made SURE it wouldn’t be fair. Somebody wants to see Maya hurt…somebody wants to see this young man put onto the shelf for good…
Ringo Starr pulls Maya up to his feet and holds him up, allowing Magnus to hit the ropes for a big move…but Maya throws his feet up and SLAMS them into Magnus’s face!! Maya then throws elbows backwards, shaking off Ringo Starr and buying himself some time.
Maya hits the ropes and grabs Bobby Ringo’s shoulders before SMASHING his knees into Ringo’s face!!!
Bobby flips backwards, and AJ Starr tries to gain some vengeance for his tag team partner…but Maya SLAMS double knees right into his face too, taking out the duo in record time!
Other Guy: ODE TO SHINYA…back to back….Ringo Starr is laid OUT!!!
Eryk Masters: Maya is actually doing it, OG! I can’t believe I’m saying this…but there MIGHT be a chance!
Speaking of chances, Chance Ryan blazes back into the ring the moment Maya turns around and BEHEADS HIM WITH A CLOTHESLINE FROM HELL!!!!
Maya gets TORN down to the canvas, and he grabs the ropes, struggling to pull himself back up to his feet but still badly stunned. Maya regains his footing…but the moment he does Azrael Goeren DRILLS Maya’s head right back into the canvas with a jumping DDT!!
Maya lands hard, NOT getting back up, and Kobayashi Maru climbs to the top turnbuckle and takes advantage by flying downward and NAILING a guillotine leg drop right across Maya’s throat!
Eryk Masters: We might have spoken too soon, OG…Maya is grounded now…and this is starting to get uncomfortable to watch.
Other Guy: This is just impossible, E. These men are mugging Nakashima, the numbers game was bound to catch up with him sooner or later.
Hellmutt drops down on Maya and starts to just PISTON punches into his face and head while Javier Gomez grabs Maya’s legs and begins to send NASTY looking kicks down into his thighs and hamstrings.
Meanwhile Chance Ryan hits the ropes and comes down RIGHT on top of Maya’s torso with a body splash, crushing all of the air right out of the World Heavyweight Champion!!
The fans are booing so loud it’s like THUNDER in the Epicenter!
Eryk Masters: Maya’s getting picked apart right now. HOPE…seems to be fading…
Other Guy: And you just gotta imagine that all of Maya’s friends are seeing this play out in the back, they WANT to come out here and help him…but they’ve been banned form ringside.
Eryk Masters: I have no doubt of that, OG. I’m sure guys like Zex, Loco, Omar and so many others would be sprinting down that ramp right now if not for the bogus stipulations added to this “match”.
Azrael Goeren screams out “GET HIM UP!”…and several men all grab Maya’s little body at once and RIP him back up to his feet. Maya can barely stand at this point, and Goeren and Magnus just take turns SMASHING and SLAMMING fists into his face, one after another!
A little stream of blood starts to ooze out from the corner of Maya’s mouth, and we see one of his eyes beginning to swell with purple bruising.
Kobayashi hits the ropes and BLASTS a shining wizard into Maya’s temple, rocking his head to the side. Several hands reach out to just PUSH a stumbling and staggering Maya forward…and he EATS a big boot from Diego Reyes!
Maya crumples down to the canvas, breathing shallow and labored, and ALL ten men start to just STOMP on Maya, forcing the World Champion to curl up into the fetal position to try and protect himself somehow.
Eryk Masters: Seriously…this is disgusting. This is NOT what SHOOT Project is about.
Other Guy: This needs to stop…
Suddenly Azrael Goeren raises up a finger, grinning brightly…and he rolls out of the ring and grabs up a STEEL CHAIR.
Goeren then rolls back into the ring and instructs several of the other men to hold Maya, forcing him down onto his knees…and then Goeren places the chair right up against Maya’s temple, the crazed German licking his lips and rearing the chair back EVER so slowly to bring it down onto Maya’s skull…
Time seems to stand still for a moment in the Epicenter, the fans in an uproar over this travesty unfolding before them…that chair held high above Goeren’s head and about to crash down.
Suddenly…darkness overtakes the Epicenter.
A powerful, haunting darkness.
We hear the sound of distant hooves pounding across desert earth.
Hellfire bursts forth at the top of the ramp, a dry ice smoke creeping out from the curtains. The flames and the smoke mix together; creating an atmosphere at the top of the ramp like a doorway to HELL itself has been opened beyond those curtains.
Silence hangs over the crowd for a moment, people unsure of what’s going on, but that silence is broken by the POUNDING of the speakers as “Bad Moon Rising” by Mourning Ritual CRASHES THROUGH THE AUDIO SYSTEM.
“I SEE A BAD MOON RISING.”
“I SEE TROUBLE ON THE WAY.”
“I SEE EARTHQUAKES AND LIGHTNINING.”
“I SEE BAD TIMES TODAY…”
The lights turn back on, and standing there at the curtains is Isaac Entragian, all seven feet and three hundred pounds of him.
The immediate thing we notice is the FIRE in Isaac’s eyes, almost like inner flames have been relit within him. His stance alone is completely different compared to how he’s been in the last few weeks.
There’s no sign of weakness, or apathy…nothing broken about the expression on the albino’s face.
There is only dark strength, eyes as cold as gravestones…and razor sharp teeth bared in an expression of pure, unbridled WRATH.
Other Guy: Oh…shit.
Eryk Masters: What…is this man doing out here…
Other Guy: Look at him, E. Lately Isaac’s been a shell of his former self…but the Isaac I’m seeing right now? Nothing broken about this man. You can see it in his eyes…this…is THE IVORY TERROR.
Eryk Masters: Oh I see it, OG. I definitely see it…and although things were bad for Maya Nakashima moments ago, I’ve got a feeling they’re about get a whole lot WORSE.
Entragian begins stalking down the ramp, the fans still hushed into silence…the monster’s eyes seeming to burn brighter with each and every step. ALL of the men in the ring have stopped assaulting Maya, each and every Soldier watching Isaac’s progress.
Entragian reaches the apron, and he climbs up and steps over the top rope. All ten Soldiers instinctually move to the opposite side of the ring, giving this hulking monster a WIDE berth.
Isaac’s eyes lower…and suddenly they LOCK onto Maya Nakashima.
The fans see this…and they already start booing, almost like they can sense where this is going.
Eryk Masters: Oh no…enough is enough. Maya just bore the onslaught of TEN guys…and now this damned MONSTER has the World Champion in his crosshairs!
Other Guy: Lately Maya’s been trying to help Isaac somehow, but time and time again Isaac has rebuked Maya’s attempts to help him. He has beaten Maya down…he has spit into his face…and something tells me Isaac’s out here now to END Maya once and for all…
The Soldiers in the ring notice what’s about to happen, and they all move away from Maya, giving Isaac a clear path to the World Champion. Some of the men do it out of fear, some out of respect, but ALL of them make sure Isaac has easy access to Nakashima.
Isaac takes a few steps forward until he’s INCHES away from a bleeding, helpless Nakashima. Maya is on his knees, staring up at Entragian through drooping, bruised eyes.
The rest of the Soldiers are on the other side of the ring now, watching this play out while the fans continue to boo louder and louder.
Goeren is grinning madly to himself, and he steps forward from the rest of the men and yells out “YES!!! SHOW US, ISAAC! THE MONSTER IS BACK!!!” before lightly applauding, much to the annoyance of the crowd.
Isaac’s scarred, massive back is still turned to Goeren and the rest of the men…but very slowly, Isaac turns around to face the ten Soldiers standing near the ropes.
His eyes linger on Goeren, and a smile appears on the albino’s face. A sharp, devilish smile.
And it’s now that we notice….Isaac Entragian has positioned himself perfectly in the ring so that his body is BETWEEN Maya and the rest of the men, almost…like he’s shielding him.
Isaac leans slightly forward, flashbulbs clicking all over the Epicenter, his massive frame looming over Goeren.
Entragian: I’ll show you.
The terror instantly alights in Azrael Goeren’s eyes and he takes a cautionary step back…but for Azrael and the rest of the men…
It’s already too late.
The uppercut catches Azrael right on the underside of the jaw, and it’s like a jackhammer slamming into his chin, the crazed German FLYING backwards into the rest of the men, bowling a few of them over.
Eryk Masters: WHAT?!?!
Isaac then LAUNCHES himself forward, proceeding to grab the heads of Bobby Ringo and AJ Starr, only to CRACK them together as hard as he possibly can…the sound like a gunshot as both men CRUMPLE to the canvas!
Chance Ryan tries to take Isaac’s head off with a clothesline, but Isaac ducks, and when Chance rebounds off the ropes ISAAC CUTS HIM IN HALF WITH A SPEAR!!!
Charles Brandon Magnus quickly ascends a turnbuckle and leaps downward, trying for a desperate axe handle…BUT ISAAC SPEARS HIM RIGHT OUT OF THE SKY!!!
The fans…are actually starting to CHEER?!?!
Eryk Masters: Are those…cheers? Is Isaac Entragian…getting cheered?!?
Other Guy: I don’t even know what’s going on right now, E! All I know is that Isaac just hit Corruption and cut two men in half…and he is showing NO signs of stopping!
Hellmutt blasts a clubbing blow into the back of Isaac’s head, but it has NO EFFECT…and Isaac turns around and just DESTROYS HELLMUTT WITH A BICYCLE KICK TO THE FACE!!!
Maru runs forward and tries a kick, but Isaac catches his leg…AND SENDS HIM UP AND OVER WITH A DISEMBOWELER, MARU ROLLING OFF OF ISAAC’S KNEE AND MOANING IN PAIN!
The fans are going CRAZY…people in the stands looking shocked to the point where it’s almost comical!
Javier Gomez and Diego Reyes make an attempt to double team Isaac, grabbing his big arms and irish whipping him hard into the ropes…but on the rebound he GRABS them both by the throats…AND CHOKE TOSSES THEM OUT OF THE RING, BOTH MEN FLYING BEFORE CRASHING DOWN ON THE OUTSIDE!!!
Isaac then bends down…and picks up the steel chair that Azrael Goeren dropped.
Goeren is crawling across the canvas, trying desperately to escape…but Isaac GRABS him by the ankle and YANKS him backwards, the Megastar screaming out “NEIN, NEIN, NEIN!” when he realizes what’s waiting for him.
Entragian then just starts to SMASH the steel chair down into Goeren’s body, DEMOLISHING him with shot after shot…before KICKING Azrael so hard in the ribs that he rolls clear out of the ring!
Isaac turns to the side…and the only man that remains standing in the ring is Pablo Diablo.
Isaac stalks towards Pablo with steel chair in hand, and he leans down and ROARS into Pablo’s face, spittle flying from his razor sharp teeth and lashing forked tongue…the very wind of that roar blowing back Pablo’s long black hair.
Pablo seems to contemplate his chances for a moment…and he then he simply rolls out of the ring and begins running as fast as he possibly can up the ramp!
Other Guy: Pablo Diablo just got the hell outta dodge!
Eryk Masters: Can you blame him?!?
The ring is now empty…aside from Maya and Isaac.
Isaac suddenly turns toward Nakashima, steel chair STILL in hand…and he begins to stalk his way closer to the World Champion.
Eryk Masters: Oh no…did Isaac just want Maya all to himself? Is that why he did this?
The fans start to boo again, Isaac looming over Maya Nakashima, glaring down at him with eyes FULL of fire, his chest heaving.
This pivotal moment seems to stretch out for a LONG time…
Isaac finally tosses the steel chair to the side.
And then…THE PALE RIDER EXTENDS A HAND TO MAYA!!!!
The Epicenter EXPLODES, fans losing their shit, the cheering seeming to shake the very building, making the foundation of SHOOT Project TREMBLE!!!
Maya himself looks floored by this, almost like he barely believes what just happened…but he grabs that pale hand…and Isaac helps the World Champion up to his feet!!!
Other Guy: I can hardly believe what I’m seeing…
Eryk Masters: This…is blowing my mind right now.
Isaac maintains eye contact with Maya for a moment, and he whispers barely loud enough for only Maya to hear….”thank you…for everything.” And then Isaac grabs Maya’s wrist and RAISES IT HIGH…AND THE FANS GO EVEN CRAZIER!!
The chant starts in the far back of the stands, and it picks up fervor and volume by the second.
“LET’S GO IKE!!!
LET’S GO IKE!!!
LET’S GO IKE!!!”
And now it’s Isaac’s turn to be shocked, because in all of his long, strange career…his long, strange LIFE…he has never heard people cheer his name.
The monster begins to slowly rotate in the ring, staring out the fans, taking this all in, the roaring of “LET’S GO IKE!!!” pounding through his ears.
Maya takes this moment to step forward…and he takes Isaac’s wrist and raises it UP HIGH!!!
Other Guy: Holy…crap. This…is a SHOOT Project MOMENT, Eryk. This…is a moment SHOOT fans are going to remember for a LONG, LONG time…
Eryk Masters: The Pale Rider…is back, OG. And he’s back in a way that I NEVER would have seen coming in a million years…
The shot closes out with Isaac and Maya in the ring, the fans cheering at the top of their lungs, those “IKE” chants continuing to pick up intensity.