ICONIC - 03.05.2023
Somewhere in the darkened guts of the arena, a shrine has been executed.
When we see it, the first thing the camera–shaky, handheld–notices is the source of golden light. Taking some time for the lens to adjust, we can see that it’s an absolutely massive number of candles set on an angled table, some on the floor in bunches–easily in the hundreds and casting the room in a dim, dreamy haze. Upon the wall, pasted against brick that has long been stained black with something, are two pictures: Dennis and Benny Colton.
From the darkness emerge two figures, those two colossuses of muscle and ill-intent. They both have their tops peeled down to the waist, but are otherwise ring-ready: CYBER Power Devil and CYBER Superbeast. They slowly pace toward the shrine, the altar, saying nothing–but that isn’t new for them. Once they arrive at it, the flickering candles shining off of their respective facepaint and mask, they drop to their knees…and it’s then that we notice the knife. A handle of bone lashed to a jagged, curved piece of razor-sharp obsidian. They look at the pictures for a long while before finally, we can see Superbeast’s chest expand.
Superbeast: Unholy Father.
His voice is a booming, growling thing, his heavy japanese accent making every word come out with a halting, orderlike quality. But while we are used to them screaming in their prior incarnation, now his words are definitively inside-voice, bordering on a whisper.
Power Devil: Unholy Father.
Power Devil is all bass, Worf raised on a steady diet of black metal, but similarly, gona is his bark and howl. He is not screaming, he is speaking.
Unison: We have lost sight of our charge.
Power Devil and Superbeasts gazes meet one another, and they both nod. Superbeast reaches down and holds the blade aloft, the fire dancing in the facets and crevices of the pitch black stone. As he holds it aloft, his partner speaks again.
Power Devil: Baleful angel, guide our hand. Enrich us with the vastness of understanding. Make us your weapon on this plane of existence, that we might decimate all who stand before us and be your conquering horde of two.
Superbeast: Blood for blood.
Power Devil: Blood for blood.
Superbeast turns the blade on his own massive chest and draws a line from armpit to sternum, barely registering an intake of breath. He hands the blade to Power Devil, who does the same, matching his brother. They both hold the blade together and push it toward a central collection of candles, as we hear their vitae crack, sputter, and sizzle on the volcanic stone. Though their chests are bleeding, they stand stock still, allowing every trace of blood to be burned from their sacrificial shank. Finally, they set it, smoking, on the concrete. They stand, rubbing the blood from their chests onto their torsos in the shape of an inverted cross. Finally, they lean forward over the flames and leave one last thing: Bloody thumbprints on the face of their opponents.
Unison: Blood for blood.
They stand tall.
A breeze comes through the basement with enough power to extinguish all the candles.
What It Takes
We go backstage and find Abigail Chase, mic in hand against an ICONIC backdrop.
Abigail Chase: Another huge night of SHOOT history awaits to be written, but before those history books are edited, I am pleased to be joined by a Soldier who has made her mark on history here. While she has no match tonight, she has had plenty of in-ring time the past two Ruinations. Ladies and gentlemen, the SHOOT Project Rule of Surrender champion… Laura Seton…
The in-arena audience can be heard cheering in the background as Laura, her blonde hair down, slides into the shot, the Rule of Surrender belt slung diagonally across her chest, covering the design of a black t-shirt. She smiles as she speaks.
Laura Seton: Howdy doo, Abigail! How are you this fine evening?
Abigail Chase: Doing well, Laura. Now, as I mentioned, you have the night off. This being the first pay-per-view of the year, how do you take that?
Laura Seton: Obviously I want to compete tonight. I’m a professional athlete that’s proud to do what they do, so no, I don’t exactly enjoy being on the sidelines for the night, but I’m also professional enough to not take this personally. Part of me is overjoyed that I’m not risking spending yet another 60 minutes in the ring.
They share a laugh as a small “FIGHT FOR-EV-ER” chant starts up again before giving away quickly.
Laura Seton: It was like I told Lexi a couple weeks ago, Lindsay was one of my two dream opponents during this run. Not to slight anyone like Jamie Johnson who’s already had a hell of a start to his career, but LT has so much history in that ring. Our careers have paralleled around two decades length and somehow never intersected until now. I’m glad our matches have played out as they have… even if there’s been no winner.
Abigail Chase: So how do you plan to spend the evening? Scout a potential opponent?
Laura Seton: I may do that, and like everyone else here, I’m looking forward to Jonas’s in-ring return–
A huge eruption from the crowd interrupts her, getting a chuckle out of her. She waits for the cheering to subside before continuing.
Laura Seton: See, I’m playing “fan” tonight. I even bought some merch earlier–
Just as she begins readjusting her title belt, a big grin forms as she takes notice of the figure stepping into the screen.
The figure belonged to none other than Lexi Gold, who is standing across from Laura with a smile on her face. She is in full ring gear tonight as she is happy to be in the building, competing and meeting up with her friend again.
Lexi Gold: Hey there champ, I’ve been meaning to catch up with you again, but I’ve been so busy preparing for my match tonight. Not going to lie, I am extremely nervous. I have been biting my nails and pulling my hair out as a result.
Laura looks at her friend and smiles.
Laura Seton: Yeah, you’ve got a lot of pressure. I know it’s a big deal, but the more you stress out over this, the more frazzled you’re going to be when that bell rings.
Lexi turns to Abigail and asks her if they could have some alone time. She nods her head and leaves, then Lexi turns her attention back to Laura.
Lexi Gold:You are right. It’s an important match, and you might be the only one who believes I could potentially win, and that’s okay. It’s going to help me get my motivation back. Are you here to do a little scouting?
Laura Seton: I may do a little, but like I told Abby?
She readjusts the title to over her right shoulder, showing her shirt is a Lexi Gold shirt.
Laura Seton: I’m more interested in being a fan tonight.
Lexi Gold: Hey, nothing wrong with that. You deserve a break once in a while. Plus, I am pretty sure you will be back in action again in no time and when it happens I believe you will put on the best match out there. Say, where is your chicken bag? I figured you would have brought it with you.
Laura Seton: Locked away with my other personal stuff in the locker room. I try not to keep my purse on me backstage. Too many… uh… not-so-trusty people around. Don’t want that literally stolen. Already had too much stolen, metaphorically speaking.
Lexi looks at her nails and nods once again as she makes a good point.
Lexi Gold: I totally get it, which is why I made sure to keep my snakes and dolls at home. They are much safer there than with all this mayhem. Speaking of which, you totally need to come meet the family one day. I trust you around them. We can all enjoy a nice meal at the dinner table.
Laura smiles again.
Laura Seton: I’d like that!
Her smile slowly fades away as she puts a hand on a shoulder of Lexi, making full eye contact with her.
Laura Seton: You have a wealth of opposition waiting for you. I know most people think NEMESIS will win. I know you can… Play it safe. Play it smart. And go steal that title shot for yourself.
Lexi takes a deep breath in and exhales as her eyes look around everywhere.
Lexi Gold: I plan to take your advice and apply it to this match. Nothing is going to stop me from attempting to eliminate everyone in this match, not even seeing my own blood pour out of my head. I want this win so bad, Laura. Let’s see if I have what it takes this time.
Lexi looks at her rather seriously before turning on heel and leaving to get set for her match.
ADrian Reyes (c) Vs. Jamie Johnson (c)
Let's Get To Work
Let’s take a cut to the backstage so that we can get a better look at one of the competitors in the six way battle to be number one contender to the SHOOT Project World Title. Who is it you say? Chic Grillbreast? Nah.. We’re lookin at Black Sheep Baez. Clean shaven. Top light has his bald head shining. Got’damn look at those pearly whites. Eyes like diamonds. Sleeves removed from what looks like a brand new Black Sheep Baez t-shirt to expose his biceps. Met’s colors on the shirt. It’s baseball season, folks. Baez relishes in some of the cheers he hears from the Epicenter. Standing next to BSB is the always fine Abigail Chase and bae’s ready to open this puppy up.
Abigail Chase: Ladies and gentlemen I am with Black Sheep Bae –
Quick interruption. Hand’s up. His eyes are closed. Absorbing what cheers he’s receiving. He’s loving this and with an exhale he turns to Abigail and smiles.
Black Sheep Baez: On GOD! Can you believe it? Can you? Yo, this is a got damned dream. Ya boi, B-S-B, live on a P-P-er-PREMIUM event about to go toe-to-toe times three with some of the best in this industry. Is this real? Am I dreamin? Pinch me, bae. C’mon, don’t be shy, just a lil one.
Why not, right? Abigail feels the same way and she reaches over to give Baez a little pinch on the right shoulder.
Black Sheep Baez: Yep. Real. Go’head and ask your questions.
Abigail Chase: Tonight you’re up against six of some of the biggest stars in SHOOT Project. You have the opportunity to go up against either Jonas Coleman, or Nate Robideau, if you’re able to pull out the victory and be the last superstar standing in that ring. How do you feel going into one of the biggest fights of your career?
Black Sheep Baez: Ya nailed it homie. This is one of the biggest. I had a chance to share a meal, and a fine drank, with four of these beautiful souls that imma bout to tear it up with. The evenin was filled with great conversations, stories, delicious food, laughs, …clownin’. It was nice. Dani threw a hissy fit. Lexi ate an entire piglet. Peach only said ‘OK Boomer’ maybe two times. And, I tell you what, it was nice to finally get a chance to meet NEMESIS. JUDY-E, BAY-BEE!
He’s gotta take a moment to pause because the crowd has erupted over the name drop. JUDY-E chants wave across the Epicenter. With a quick sniffle, and a smile at Abigail, he’s right back to it.
Black Sheep Baez: I almost feel like her and I had the same teacher. I’ve watched her father wrestle consistently, non-stop, since I was just a wee-lil Black Sheep. Yo, my dad idolized Azraith DeMitri! When it comes to the word ICONIC – aint no man better represent that than Azraith. I told her that, and I also told her exactly how I feel. Ya right when ya say this is one of the biggest matches of my career. We all know what’s at stake. We all understand that each of us gonna step into that ring and fight for our lives. For our families. Our future. OUR identity. Because we aint stoppin at ICONIC. The biggest match of my career is yet to come and tonight is just another provin ground for ya boi. Another test. A hurdle. A lesson.
Although he could easily add on to that Abigail has a really hot question she’d love to hear his answer to.
Abigail Chase: Do you feel that you deserve to be in this match after losing your challenge for the Sin City Championship?
What did she just ask? He likes it though, and he’s not afraid to confront that question head on.
Black Sheep Baez: I’m not gonna complain because somebody must thinks I deserve this. Ya know what – let’s rewind for a quick second. Yea that’s a question that I’ve asked myself, but I didn’t allow it to sink in enough to matter ‘cause my skin thick. I lost fair, square, and I put on a battle. Everyone in SHOOT, everyone in Vegas, Buffalo, THE WORLD – they witnessed it. They witnessed Jamie and ya boi take it to another level and the amount of RESPECT that I have for that man is beyond comPUTE. Jamie on another level. We all knew my chances were slim but the story we told in that ring made folks think otherwise. Perhaps, homie, that’s why I’m right here, rightchnaw, ready to stare each one of those em-effs in the eyes and show’em a real ass showdawg. Gotta get better each and every day. So, imma do work. B-S-B finna put on another fight for his life tonight, ya feel me? And we damn well know that the others feel exactly the same way.
One last question from Abigail as we begin to wrap this up and send Black Sheep out through Gorilla.
Abigail Chase: Two weeks ago you mentioned on your podcast that you lost a family member and tonight you’re fighting in the name of his mother, and daughter. Would you like to say anything more about that before you head to the ring?
Black Sheep is caught off guard, but not in a way that would anger him. Perhaps he wasn’t thinking about it? His eyes are closed for a very brief moment so that he can take a deep breath and then speak into the microphone upon the exhale.
Black Sheep Baez: That’s all I needed to hear. Right place, right time, baby. You lit the flame that’s about to set the forest fire. LET’S GO!
And with that he pounds his chest, kisses his fist, points to the sky, and quickly darts away from Abigail Chase. That’s when the interviewer smiles into the camera and nods. Transition to ringside for this freakin awesome six way elimination match.
Void: A True Hero
A beastly-looking figure appears on screen as a backstage camera finds Void preparing for his upcoming match against Lindsay Troy.
Focused entirely on doing a runthrough of his equipment, SHOOT Project’s 2021 Co-Villain of the Year doesn’t realize that SHOOT Project’s 2021 Mister Irrelevant, Blaze Claymore, is vigorously tapping him on the shoulder.
Blaze Claymore: AHEM! Mr. Void?
Void finally stands up and turns around, looking down at Blaze who is forcing a smile far wider than he needs to. Void looks Blaze up and down and then returns to his ring gear check.
Blaze scowls and tries to grab Void’s shoulder but before he can even get within reaching distance, Void spins around and snags Blaze’s wrist.
Blaze Claymore: ARGH! I mean… AH! Good! I won’t take much of your time. I just know that you and the Steins have a bit of a history and so I thought if anyone in this company might understand the Deep SHOOT conspiracy it would be you, Void.
Void stares menacingly at Blaze.
Blaze Claymore: I just need to know… who’s really pulling the strings!? Is it Dan? It’s Dan, right? How’s he doing it?
Void doesn’t react. Blaze narrows his gaze.
Blaze Claymore: Are you saying it’s Molly!? She’s the ring leader?
Void drops Blaze’s hand as he says Molly Stein’s name. The beast lets out a sigh.
Blaze Claymore: I knew it! I knew she knew more than she was saying she knew. I knew it! Now everyone else needs to know it!
Blaze begins to turn and walk away.
Blaze Claymore: Excuse me? If it’s not Dan… and not Molly…
Void lifts his head and casts a knowing glance back at Blaze.
Blaze Claymore: Oh…. oh shit. How devious!
Void doesn’t react, even as Blaze reaches out and tries to shake his hand.
Blaze Claymore: Thank you, Void! I knew I was missing something, and now I know! It’s all because of Siobahn Stein! SS! SHOOT SABOTAGE! HOW OBVIOUS! And you… YOU tried to stop it.
Blaze gasps, covering his mouth in shock.
Blaze Claymore: You… you are a true hero, Void. You may have been voted a villain by Deep SHOOT, but to me you will ALWAYS, ALWAYS be a hero in the fight to make SHOOT Great Again!
Blaze Claymore: Thank you, Void! You’ve shown me the way… what I need to do. What WE need to do to end the Deep SHOOT conspiracy. THANK YOU!
A giddy Blaze Claymore scampers off, clapping his hands together as a very confused looking Void just shakes his head and refocuses on getting ready for his match.
Void: What a fucking idiot…
Putting in the Work
A roar can be heard from the crowd as none other than Ayumi Seppuku appears on screen, making her way through the back halls of the Epicenter.
Like a woman on a mission, she stops in front of a locker room door and bangs on the door loudly, her face a mix of annoyance and anger.
After a few seconds, the door swings open to reveal Judy Punchinello halfway through finishing her face paint for the evening. The Iron Fist challenger looks genuinely shocked to see Ayumi there.
Judy: Ayumi, what… what are you doing here?
Ayumi’s eyes gaze over to her side before reaching over and pulling a nervous-looking RAIKO into frame, which causes Judy’s shock to turn into anger.
Judy: What is SHE doing here?
Ayumi looks between the two fighters and claps her hands firmly as if trying to wake the two of them up.
Ayumi: WE are here, Judy, because this has to stop. OK? First Daihm, then Belle, then RAIKO? Who’s next on your Kill Bill hit list? Me? Is that there this ends?
Judy: You don’t want to go down this road, Yums.
RAIKO steps forward between the two.
RAIKO: Do not threaten Ayumi-chan.
Judy scoffs and shakes her head.
Judy: You know… if you two had spent a FRACTION of this energy trying to get my suspension lifted maybe we’d be Battalion champions right now. But we’re not. We’re bloody going to face off for the Iron Fist title because apparently the only way I can get anyone to fucking give a shit about me is when I punch them in the fuckin’ face.
RAIKO: LISTEN TO WHAT YOU SAY! DO IT MAKE ANY SENSE!? NO!
RAIKO steps back and lowers her head as Ayumi sighs and looks up at Judy.
Ayumi: Goddammit, Judy… you’re smarter than this. You think we didn’t want to call? That we didn’t go to Lennox’s office every day to check on you? That we wouldn’t have thrown you the biggest fucking party when you came back? It was an active investigation with severe legal consequences! It’s part of the JOB here at SHOOT. Fuck… do you know how many times I’ve been suspended? Fired? Even arrested because of some dumb shit I did? Come on, Judy. What is the end game here?
Judy steps forward confidently, closing the gap between her and Ayumi. As she does, her eyes catch RAIKO’s and while she addresses Ayumi, the two Iron Fist challengers stay locked in a tense gaze.
Judy: Some dumb shit, huh? Is that what you call trying to stand up for a friend? Or did you forget the entire reason Daihm even got punched that night was because I was defending you against Sarah King? I was defending US! I took the proverbial bullet for you both that night and what, exactly, did I get in return?
Ayumi makes a move to speak but RAIKO cuts her off, stepping forward, extending her wrist, which has the two friendship bracelets wrapped around it.
RAIKO: We never need defending. YOU just loose cannon blaming us. We only ever want to be you friend!
Judy looks ready to throw an angry retort back at RAIKO but instead she lets out a sigh and lets her shoulders drop. Her voice drops an octave as she turns around and begins to walk back into her locker room.
Judy: Fuckin’ ‘ell…
Ayumi reaches out and grabs Judy’s shoulder.
Ayumi: We still can be, Judy. We can put this all behind us and move forward – together.
Judy reaches back and grabs Ayumi’s hand, squeezing it at first but then pulling it off her shoulder as she fully steps back into her locker room and grabs the edge of the door with tired-looking eyes.
Judy: And that’s the problem, Ayumi… you want to put “all this” behind “us” but what you’re really wanting is a clear conscience without earning it. At least RAIKO has the balls to put in the work.
RAIKO casts a surprised look at Judy who catches her gaze one last time before she shuts her door in Ayumi’s face followed quickly by the *click* of a lock on the other side of the door.
NEMESIS, Peach Backshots, Chick Grillbreast, Black Sheep Baez, Lexi Gold, Danni Johnson
The Dragon's Lair Feat. Chick Grillbreast
We cut back to the ring and see a sight that has been absent from the SHOOT Project for months as Daihm “The Dragon” Ferguson stands in the middle of the ring alongside a jacked-up looking Chick Grillbreast!
Daihm’s music begins to trail off as the fighter appears – his face painted in green and yellow makeup with a long, green cape flowing behind him. His Scottish-red mane is now cut short into a sort of Flock of Seagulls haircut.
Flashing on the SHOOT Jumbotron is a familiar logo as Daihm gestures over to Chick.
Daihm Fergson: ‘Ello SHOOT Project! It’s been far too long and so believe me when I say I am truly buzzing to be bringing to you a new episode of THE DRAGON’S LAIR!
The fans cheer, happy to see the second-generation SHOOT soldier back in the ring following his reconciliation with his father at Reckoning Day.
Daihm Ferguson: Here with me tonight is a man that needs no introduction, but neither does the Never Ending Pasta Bowl or Shamrock Shake, I’m talking of course about the Sovereign of Stamina, the Governor of GAINZ, and possibly Future SHOOT World Heavyweight Champion…. CHICK GRILLBREAST!
CHICK GRILLBREAST: Thank you for the introduction, but why did you need to mention PASTA and MINTY CREAM when introducing me? Do you think I deviate from my rigid diet of chicken, egg whites, bison, and protein powder? DO YOU THINK I AM NOT SERIOUS ABOUT MY SICK GAINZ?!?! THAT MAKES ME SO MAD!!!!!
Daihm holds up his hand to calm Grillbreast down.
Daihm Ferguson: Of course not, Chick. If there is one thing people can count on you for it’s Gainz! But we’re also here today to go BEYOND THE GAINZ… like, for example, your name is Chick, but is that a nickname?
CHICK GRILLBREAST: WHO IS NICK?!
Daihm Ferguson: No, I mean, is Chick short for something?
CHICK GRILLBREAST: UH, that’s a good question? I think it’s Chickard? Maybe Chickenzie? Or maybe it’s, uh, Chickolas? Oh no, my brain is having a BIG OUCHIE right now thinking about it.
The massive mountain of a man puts his hands on his nascently shaking head. Daihm quickly tries to change the subject..
Daihm Ferguson: Nevermind, Chick. Let’s talk about something else. How about your upcoming World Heavyweight Championship match? How have you been preparing for taking on the likes of Peach Backshots, Lexi Gold, Black Sheep Baez, Danni Johnson, and former champion NEMESIS?
CHICK GRILLBREAST: Well, Dan, I…
Daihm Ferguson: Daihm. DAIHM, that’s my name, ya bellend.
CHICK GRILLBREAST: YOU DARE CORRECT ME?!? THAT MAKES ME…
Daihm Ferguson: So mad?
CHICK GRILLBREAST: YES! Thank you for understanding! Okay then. Well, uh. Well, um, I made a lot of SICK GAINZ in preparation for my match tonight. You know, just because wrestlers are puny and scrawny doesn’t mean they’re easy to throw around. They just don’t let you toss them like they’re balls or… uh… balls… or… hey, uh, what else do people throw again?
Daihm Ferguson: Cabers!
CHICK GRILLBREAST: Hey, just because I’m white doesn’t mean I’ll laugh at you being racist against Asian people there, buddy.
Daihm Ferguson: No, I wasn’t, uh, cabers are the… you know what, it’s better if I just let you continue on your train of thought. To nowhere.
CHICK GRILLBREAST: Uh… thanks? I think? ANYWAY, I notice you’re scrawny and puny too, Damn. Have you ever thought about maybe NOT being scrawny and puny? You know, for your own good or whatever?
Daihm looks down and stretches out his arms.
Daihm Ferguson: I mean… I suppose I could try going from a Twink to a Twunk.
CHICK GRILLBREAST: Are you making fun of me again!? Stop speaking like a Tweety bird!
Daihm Ferguson: You know… I think you’re onto something, Chick! But I can think of only one person who can bring the GAINZ to the DAIHM…Z
CHICK looks confused as Daihm reaches out his arm to shake Chick’s massive tree trunk of an appendage.
Daihm Fergsuon: Chick?
CHICK GRILLBREAST: Yes, Dan?
Daihm Fergsuon: Can you help teach me your secret to GAINZ?! Will you help train me to get SWOLE and be a TWUNK or perhaps even… A WOLF!?
CHICK starts to get excited.
CHICK GRILLBREAST: OH! You want me to … train you!?
Daihm nods as the fans start to go wild.
CHICK GRILLBREAST: Are you ready to fill your mouth with meat!?
Daihm Ferguson: ALREADY DO!
CHICK GRILLBREAST: Are you ready to start at the bottom so you can get to the top?
Daihm Ferguson: I CAN BE A VERSE, SURE!
CHICK GRILLBREAST: ARE YOU READY TO BODY SLAM EVERYTHING IN SIGHT!?
Daihm Ferguson: JUST TELL ME WHERE TO SWIPE RIGHT!
CHICK GRILLBREAST meets Daihm’s handshake with a vigorous handshake of his own as the fans erupt in cheers for the two fighters who have seemingly formed an odd, but intriguing alliance.
Dan Stein/Chadwick Kyle Vs. Blaze Claymore/The Rooster
We cut to a shaky camera in the back halls of the SHOOT Project Epicenter as a confrontation is underway between Blaze Claymore and Dan Stein.
The two fighters, who just engaged in a vicious tag match, are seemingly at each other’s throats.
Blaze Claymore: This isn’t over, Stein! You think just because you won that we’re going to stop our fight against Deep SHOOT!?
Dan Stein: Man, you’ve been harassing me and my family for months now, trying to prove this Deep SHOOT conspiracy. What is your PROBLEM with me?!
Blaze Claymore: Stop gaslighting me!
Rooster is holding Blaze back while Chadwick Kyle is trying to pull Dan away from the scene, Meanwhile, Dan’s wife Molly and daughter Siobahn are trying to steer clear of the confrontation.
Molly Stein: Goddammit, Dan! Just walk away! It’s not worth it!
Dan Stein: He’s harassing us! Or did you forget the 20 pizzas that got delivered to our house the other night? Or the phone calls where there’s just raspy breathing on the other line!? Or how about all the SCHUTZSTAFFEL PATCHES we’ve gotten in the mail!?
Blaze Claymore: I mean your last name is STEIN, why wouldn’t you be receiving Nazi merit badges?
The Lights rips free of Chadwick Kyle and goes to sock Blaze Claymore in the face. As he does, Blaze puffs out his chest and tries to jump slightly to intercept Dan’s punch, which he takes with full force across his pectoral muscles.
Blaze Claymore: Mother… FUCKER. OW! Goddammit why didn’t it go off!?
Blaze staggers backwards into Rooster’s arms as Dan looks confused.
Dan Stein: Why didn’t WHAT go off!? You’re a damned lunatic! Just stay away from us! Let’s go, Molly.
A frustrated Dan Stein turns around and begins to collect his family as Chadwick Kyle tries to keep distance between the two. As he does, Rooster reaches over and grabs at Chad’s shoulder and looks into his eyes.
Rooster: You’ve fucked up, Chad.
Chad recoils, hearing the first words Rooster has spoken since returning to SHOOT. As he does, he tries to swat away Rooster’s grasp but instead awkwardly hits Blaze’s chest. As he does, a giant spray of red explodes all over Chad, Rooster, and Dan.
Blaze Claymore: OHH! OHHHHH! NOOOO!!!! AGGHHHH!
Blaze falls prone to the ground, a seeping wound seemingly opening in his chest. However, no one is paying attention to him as Dan Stein has seemingly been blinded by the explosion of red liquid.
Dan Stein: YOU CRAZY SONOFA-
As he reacts, Dan swings wildly, trying to reach out and land a punch where he thinks Blaze may be. But, as he does, a high-pitched scream cuts through the chaos as Molly Stein falls to the ground, trying to cradle Siobahn as she does.
Blaze Claymore quickly gets to his feet, eyes wide, as he sees a blinded Dan Stein searching around for the source of his wife’s screams. Molly, meanwhile, is reeling on the ground, trying to regain her composure as Chadwick Kyle wipes fake blood from his eyes.
Blaze Claymore: THIS IS FIRST DEGREE ASSAULT! MOTIVE! PREMEDITATION! YOU’LL BE HEARING FROM MY LAWYER!
Dan has dropped to his knees, trying to attend to his wife, grabbing his crying child in the process. Blaze meanwhile takes in the scene and laughs.
Blaze Claymore: YOU SEE WHAT YOU GET!? YOU SNAKE!? YOU CHARLATAN!?
Dan Stein ignores Blaze’s rantings as he tries to attend to his wife. Meanwhile, Rooster begins to pull Blaze away as security begins to arrive to attend to Molly Stein.
Blaze Claymore: IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE I EXPOSE YOUR LIES! I KNOW YOU’RE JUST A PAWN AND THAT THIS GOES MUCH DEEPER. IT’S NO LONGER JUST DEEP SHOOT, DAN, IT’S DEEPEST SHOOT!
Blaze continues yelling into the ether as Dan looks on, horrified at his actions, while medical personnel attend to his family.
Let Me Spell It Out For you
Eryk Masters: Well folks, up next we have… wait what?
Other Guy: What is it, E?
Eryk Masters: I’m being told we’ve got a situation in the back. Do we have a camera back there? Can we cut to it?
We cut to the back where the scene is chaos. A crowd of people have gathered and are fighting off… security?
SHOOT Project security personnel are swarming the area, but there are so many bodies, it’s hard to tell what they’re swarming to. After a few moments, there’s a flash of black and red hair and we catch a glimpse of Patience Montgomery. Right behind her is her twin, Decius.
Seconds later, Curtis Rose goes crashing into the wall behind everyone, his head bouncing violently against the solid material. Patience and Decius each grab an arm, holding Rose in place against the wall. The swarm of security struggles against a crowd of people that only seems to be getting larger.
Finally, we see Jacob Mephisto, Patriarch of the Family, walking toward Curtis Rose. He walks calmly, as if he doesn’t even notice the chaos around him. As he walks, he taps something the camera can’t quite capture against his leg. As he reaches Curtis, he snatches him by the chin.
Jacob Mephisto: Did you think you were really on my radar, Mr. Rose?
There’s a clicking sound that the camera just barely captures above the sounds of the commotion. Curtis Rose winces in pain.
Jacob Mephisto: I just need you…
Jacob Mephisto: …to deliver…
Jacob Mephisto: …a message for me.
The clicks continue, faster and faster. With each one Curtis winces, but doesn’t quite cry out. He struggles against the Twins, but they hold him in place. The camera can’t quite pick up what is happening, but evidently someone in security can, because that struggle grows more frantic.
After what seems like an eternal few more seconds, the clicking stops. There’s a clattering sound and Mephisto drops whatever he was holding. One of the Coyotes hands him something. Mephisto turns back to Curtis Rose.
Jacob Mephisto: I really appreciate your cooperation, Mr. Rose.
Mephisto lightly taps Rose on the cheek with his hand. He turns away from him for a moment, looking at the chaos in front of him as if seeing it for the first time. He smiles…
And then he turns back and spews black mist into Curtis Rose’s face. Rose clutches at his eyes and sinks to the ground.
Mephisto turns and stalks away, the Coyotes hightailing it away from the area.
As security moves into the scene, they begin calling for the EMT staff. As the camera fully gets a view of Curtis Rose, we see what Mephisto was carrying. On the floor is a metal staple gun. On Curtis Rose’s chest are three letters, written in black staples, blood trickling out of the pinprick wounds they’ve caused.
I A M
Below those three letters, Mephisto has written one other word in black sharpie.
As Rose is tended to, we cut away from this image, back to the action.
Judy Punchinello Vs. RAIKO (c)
Eryk Masters: What. A. War!
Other Guy: Can’t say either of them held back.
An exhausted Judy Punchinello pulls herself to her feet, makeup worn off, drenched in sweat and blood, as RAIKO staggers back, catching herself against the ropes.
Eryk Masters: Again tonight RAIKO proved that she is one of the best in this business going to war with Judy Punchinello and retaining the Iron Fist Championship.
Other Guy: Judy is not going to be a happy camper, Eryk. This is a second title chance she’s squandered and it’s gotta be a huge hit to an ego like hers.
Judy watches as the referee walks over and hands RAIKO her belt. The crowd roars in approval as RAIKO clutches the belt to her chest but soon begin to boo as Judy walks over to RAIKO with a determined look in her eye.
RAIKO prepares a defensive stance but is shocked as Judy extends a hand out toward the Iron Fist Champion.
Other Guy: Is… Judy congratulating RAIKO!?
Eryk Masters: These two are like two sides of the same coin and live by their own rules, like a pair of neutral good and neutral evil paladins…. which you can catch later this month as Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez star in “DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES”
Other Guy: We’re not sponsored by that movie.
Eryk Masters: We could be! I’m an influencer!
Other Guy: That’s not how it works!
RAIKO looks Judy in the eye and nods as she extends her arm, clad with two friendship bracelets hanging from her wrist, as she accepts Judy’s congratulations and the two frenemies share a tense exchange in the ring.
Judy yanks her arm back quickly from the exchange and takes several steps backward before dropping down and rolling out of the ring, making the long walk to the back.
RAIKO, meanwhile, looks down at the Iron Fist Championship in her arms and raises a fist in celebration as the crowd rewards her efforts with a standing ovation.
The Right Stuff
As we cut back to ringside, the crowd is abuzz in anticipation of the next match. The arena lights dim and the SHOOT Project Faithful stir.
The SHOOTtron springs to life with a black background with white lettering.
Nights like tonight are once in a lifetime…
The first sentence fades and is immediately followed by another.
The biggest moments are those that etch themselves into our memories forever…
The poetic words vanish again, but are again replaced immediately.
These moments are, and will forever be…
The screen darkens again and this time the lights go out completely. The crowd is buzzing as smartphone flashlights flick on. Finally, out of nowhere…
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
The Right Stuff
The sounds of New Kids on the Block rocks the Epicenter as the lights begin to strobe with multiple colors. The response from the SHOOT Project Faithful? Well, mostly confusion.
First time was a great time
Second time was a blast
Third time I fell in love
Now I hope it lasts
Someone sets off a smoke machine behind the curtain and white fog comes billowing onto the entrance ramp, accompanied by a lone figure. He’s jamming in tune to the boy band classic, tearing a late 80s vibe into our modern world.
I can see it in your walk
Tell ‘em when you talk
See it in everything you do
Even in your thoughts
From his haircut to the threads, he’s a real throwback to a bygone era. His moves rival Donnie, Joey, Danny, and even both Knight brothers as he feels the vibe. Most of the fans in attendance look on with confusion, but some of our older fans begin to join the vibe.
You got the right stuff, baby
Love the way your turn me on
You got the right stuff, baby
You’re the reason why I sing this song.
The man goes center stage pointing out at the jam packed crowd.
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
The Right Stuff
He turns and points to the SHOOTtron just as a huge burst of white pyro explodes on the sides of the ramp and a name appears on the screen and the music cuts off.
Eryk Masters: What. Was. That?
Other Guy: I have, literally, no idea.
Eryk Masters: Well, folks, we’ve got more still to come tonight, barring any other, ah, surprises. Stay tuned!
THANE Vs. Bronson
BRONSON slowly turns his head and begins lifting himself off of the mat, breathing heavily as he sees Thane picking himself up. The fury is in his face as he looks at his former leader. Thane isn’t paying BRONSON any attention, however, and is only focused on getting to his feet. BRONSON quickly charges at Thane and slams him into the corner turnbuckle. Thane is dazed as BRONSON measures him.
BRONSON: YOU SANCTIMONIOUS SON OF A BITCH!
BRONSON wails on Thane with punch after punch bringing the former Proper Villain down to one knee as he tries to block BRONSON’s violent shots. BRONSON slides from the ring and quickly finds a folding chair underneath the ring. He slides it into the ring and lifts it high over his head…and SLAMS it into Thane’s back! Thane grits his teeth as BRONSON NAILS him again! Thane punches the mat as he sucks each show up, only for BRONSON to throw the chair down in frustration. BRONSON picks Thane up who, despite trying to tank these shots, is still groggy from the assault.
BRONSON: I LOVED YOU! YOU WERE LIKE MY FUCKING FAMILY!
He SNAPS Thane to the mat ONTO the steel chair with a DDT! Thane again tries to pick himself up off of the mat as BRONSON takes a hold of his hair and picks him up…and DROPS him with a snap piledriver ONTO the chair! Blood is slowly trickling from Thane’s head but Thane CONTINUES to try to get up. BRONSON, however, has had enough. The referee tries to stop him but BRONSON shoves him away. He reaches down and grabs the chair. He turns Thane over so he can look in his eyes. He presses the edge of the chair against Thane’s throat and lifts it high…only for the lights to suddenly flicker in the arena! A loud CLANG is heard. Suddenly, the lights go back up and Thane is…gone!
BRONSON throws the chair down and looks frantically around the ring. He looks at the apron, then to the outside, looking everywhere for Thane.
He is breathing intensely heavy, unable to calm himself down. His former friend is gone before he could deal a killing blow and put an end to all of this. He is alone.
Unholy Cyber Army Vs. The Coltons
Change Gonna Come
Fade in. Silence.
A tight shot of a record spins on a turntable yet we hear nothing. We can’t even make out the album of choice as it spins seemingly endlessly. Within moments, a hand leads the needle ever so delicately to the beginning of the disc. A crackle of sound bursts through the void. Within moments, a decrescending violin leads an orchestra swell into a familiar classic.
Ladies and gentlemen: Mr. Sam Cooke.
I was born by the river
In a little tent
Oh, and just like the river, I’ve been running
It’s been a long
A long time coming, but I know
A change gon’ come
Oh yes, it will
The shot pulls out. A silhouette of our subject is shown standing at the record player. The darkened room makes it hard to distinguish just who we’re looking at. A taller man with short hair. Lean but muscular. He grabs a bottle sitting near the record player and throws a splash of its contents into a lowball tumbler. He brings the glass to his mouth and sips. An exhale of satisfaction leaves his body.
It’s been too hard living
But I’m afraid to die
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there
Beyond the sky
It’s been a long
A long time coming, but I know
A change gon’ come
Oh yes, it will
The shot changes and we slowly pan across what appears to be a trophy case. A variety of awards and accolades are seen… crystal statuettes, ornate plaques, and various championship belts almost sparkle as they pass by. Eagle-eyed viewers may even be able to spot SHOOT-centric ones such as “Newcomer of the Year” and “Feud of the Year” along with replicas of the Rule of Surrender and Laws of Survival titles.
I go to the movie
And I go downtown
And somebody keep telling me
“Don’t hang around”
It’s been a long
A long time coming, but I know
A change gon’ come
Oh yes, it will
The shadowy figure has moved from the record player into a nearby chair. His drink sits on an end table next to him. As Sam Cooke continues to croon, his hand lightly circles the rim with his fingertip as he quietly enjoys the moment.
Then, I go to my brother
And I say, “Brother, help me, please”
But he winds up knockin’ me
Back down on my knees, oh
There been times that I thought
I couldn’t last for long
But now, I think I’m able
To carry on
The glass is picked up once more and is raised to his lips for one more sip. His features, still mostly obscured by his dimly lit surroundings and the glass in front of his face, begin to become a little more clear. Clean shaven. Greying, short hair that was once black. As he lowers his drink to place it back on the table it becomes clear who we are watching…
It’s been a long
A long time coming, but I know
A change gon’ come
Oh yes, it will
Without saying a word, “Ravishing” Ron Barker leans towards the camera with a smirk as we fade to black.
Lindsay Troy Vs. VOID
Lindsay Troy and Void glare at one another as the fans boo the draw. Both of them sense the frustration of the crowd, the anger in their opponent, and the drive for the match to continue. Troy argues with the referee while watching Void, telling him to restart the match only for the referee to shake his head no, indicating to her the time is the time and we can’t keep adding time to the matches of the night. She shakes her head and sees Void slowly beginning to pace, getting his energy back.
Eryk Masters: It looks like this is far from over between the two of them, OG!
Other Guy: Man, I don’t know. We still don’t know why Void targeted Lindsay, we don’t know what’s going on between them, and it just feels like we’ve only just OH SHIT!
Other Guy’s exclamation comes as Lindsay FLIES at Void in a rage, attacking him with punches that he returns in kind! The fans ERUPT as the two trade blows, the referee waving frantically for people to come and help separate them! Road agents and referees enter the ring en masse trying to get between them, only for Void and Lindsay Troy to start shoving the agents and referees away, swatting them almost like flies!
Eryk Masters: We need answers, but first we need order! These two are gonna kill each other!
Void tackles Lindsay and straddles her, trying to get to her face with his massive hands. He grabs at her hair and her cheeks, trying to find anything just soft enough to grab and pull. Lindsay Troy does the same, digging her nails into his cheek and cutting as deep as she can as she grabs a firm hold of his hair and face! Before either of them can do irrevocable damage, the road agents and referees regain control of the two of them and pull Void off of her!
Other Guy: Lindsay Troy and Void are not gonna stop tonight, Eryk, that much is certain. But what will it take? How far are either of them willing to go?
Eryk Masters: Let’s be honest, OG, Void’s shown time and again he’s willing to go to hell to try to get what he wants and Lindsay Troy isn’t the draw she is because she’s got a career of hesitation! She’s the queen and it showed tonight!
They finally shove Void from the ring and he summons Fade to his side. She scurries to him and watches Lindsay, her eyes filled with wonder at the sight. Void throws his arm around her and motions for her to help him to the back. Lindsay Troy continues to stare daggers into the duo as they leave. Void has a smirk on his face and his back to her while Fade keeps her head turned over Void’s massive arm, looking at Lindsay.
The Bone Brigade Vs. The Carolina Lions
The referee hands the belts to the Carolina Lions, but before the win can even be announced, they start laying in some stomps–Isaiah starts booting mike in the skull, and Luis gets Dave with a rough kick to the midsection, causing the taller half of the brigade to double over in pain!! The crowd starts to unload boos on them, but there’s a noise from somewhere in the arena. A loud, rafter-rattling hum is increasing in intensity, so much so that the Lions take note of it and stop their attacks, moving towards one another and looking around the arena.
The noise reaches a speaker-blowout level of bass and then dies off, along with the lights!!
Eryk Masters: Folks uh, possibly some sort of electrical issue, audio feedback causing a power loss, I’m trying to get word now of what we’re–
Suddenly, the lights pop back on–And KITSUNE IS STANDING ON THE TOP TURNBUCKLE!! The crowd explodes in cheers as the Lions split their attention, Isaiah looking at the Bone Boys, Luis eyeballing Kit as he nods and points him out!
Eryk Masters: The Carolina Lions are victorious here, and they seemed intent on being sore winners, but the return of Kitsune has cut them short!!
Other Guy: I will submit a binding resolution here, sorcery should be outlawed from this great sport!
The buzz is electric as Kit leaps from his perch and lands on the mat, rolling his shoulders. Mike and Dave, despite the match, look freshly energized by their Brogun pals return, and the Lions have a choice to make. They move back to back, choking up on the front plates of their belts, brandishing them like weapons! Then, after a tense moment, as if they’re psychically connected…the Lions book it out of the ring!! The Borguns give chase as far as the ring ropes, talking as much shit as humanly ( skeletonly, yokai-ly ) possible, as Raper and Smoke move backwards up the ramp, brandishing their titles!
Other Guy: ‘Ryk I’ma cut you off before you call them cowards or say something else that frankly is insulting–that’s a High-IQ move, and you know it! Why the flip would they stick around when they’re at a numbers disadvantage?!
Eryk Masters: You’ll get no debate from me! I may not appreciate how they conduct their business, but I’d avoid Kitsune on the warpath if I were them…still, they should know that they’re delaying the inevitable!
Other Guy: Delay nothing, we’ll see how strong the Broguns feel when the whole gang’s together!
Ring Entrance: Jonas Coleman
The lights dim, spotlights shine down onto the ring ramp. A soft timpani drumroll begins.
OutKast is shown.
Joshua Breedlove is next.
Buck Dresden rounds things out.
Dresden’s image fades into a stylized version of the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship, which draws a pop from the Epicenter’s crowd. Half of Nate Robideaus face covers half of the World Heavyweight Championship. The other half gets covered now, by Jonas Coleman.
After the lightning strikes, “Holy Defender” by Primitai screams out over the stereo as Jonas Coleman makes his entrance to the huge roar of the crowd. He’s adorned in the same blue, white, and black tights he wore to face El Paria, and begins his long walk down the ramp as Samantha Coil does her thing.
Samantha Coil: Introducing the challenger… he is a former SHOOT Project World Tag Team Champion… HE IS A FORMER WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION… ONE HALF OF THE LEGENDARY BAD ASS BROTHERHOOD… HE IS THE BUTCHER… JONAS COLEMAN!
RING ENTRANCE: Nate Robideau
The lights in the arena go pitch black, leaving the crowd buzzing for what they know is coming. Slowly, from the arena soundsystem, a slow drone begins to play, accompanied with a sound like wind going across a desert plain. When the haunting notes of guitar begin to play, a red light is cast upon the ramp–when another guitar picks up, golden searchlights begin to swirl.
Right before the guitar hits in full, a single image appears on the screen: The smirking face of Nate Robideau.
Ragnarok by We Hunt Buffalo begins to rattle the rafters, all but matching the crowd’s boos in it’s intensity and sound. Nate steps out onto the ramp, championship around his waist, body glistening. He takes a small moment to hop on the balls of his feet before striding down the ramp itself, confidence in his every step. The guitars continue to batter the walls of the arena as he rolls into the ring..
Samantha Coil: Introducing…From Natakkoa, Elko County Nevada, weighing two-hundred and forty pounds…he is your SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion…The Blackhawk, NATE ROBIDEAU!!
Nate strips off his belt and clambers to the middle turnbuckle, raising it high. At the final note of the song, he hops down, timed perfectly with the cutoff.
Eryk Masters: This feels huge, OG. Just like… really huge.
Other Guy: That’s because it is, E. Jonas Coleman comes back because Nate has become too dangerous and needs to be stopped? Are you kidding me right now?
Eryk Masters: You know what’s wild, though? Coleman is seen as the underdog going into this match. THAT is how dominant Nate Robideau has been.
Other Guy: Yeah, but Jonas has fought from behind before. A LOT. Being the underdog isn’t new to him, though at this stage in his career? It’s definitely a surprise. Jonas IS the SHOOT Project, after all.
Eryk Masters: Hell man, let’s get to it. This is what it’s all about!
Jonas Coleman Vs. Nate Robideau (c)
Nate doesn’t even wait for the bell to stop ringing, diving onto Jonas’ back and laying vicious elbows into the base of his skull!! One, after another, after another, as Jonas’ ability to cover himself up from the damage becomes weaker and weaker! Finally, the referee succeeds in pulling Nate back as the crowd’s boos begin to ratchet up–Robideau shakes the ref off like he’s nothing, then shoots forward, bringing his right knee up to his face…and DRIVING his leg down, burying his heel into Coleman’s head unprotected!! The Butcher goes limp in a crimson pool as Blackhawk begins stalking back and forth, gritting his teeth in rage!
Eryk Masters: Robideau is shameless!
Other Guy: Look, Coleman brought this on himself in a lot of ways!
Eryk Masters: By what, standing up to him?!
Nate leans over the rope in the corner, yelling for something. Finally, he gets handed a microphone, and he starts to walk the perimeter of the bloody canvas, shaking his head at the crowd noise.
Robideau: Oh, shut up. I know, I know, “he’s such an evil, mean bastard”–sit on it. He came after me. You hear me?!
He points at the now stirring body of Jonas Coleman.
Robideau: This piece of shit dared to come after me because he wanted to prove that he still had it! You laughing now, Jonas? Any fun bits or insults to throw my way? You’ve been conducting yourself like a fucking child in what is a man’s business! Now what do you have to say?!
Jonas finally makes it to the ropes, attempting to drag himself up one-armed. Nate notices this and lowers the mic, pacing back and forth, staring absolute fire into the back of his fallen opponent. It looks nothing so much as him working himself up, his frown growing with each circuit, until finally he stops…and smiles. He drops to a crouch, taking a moment to watch The Butcher struggle with trying to get his footing, bell still clearly rung. With a chuckle, Nate brings the mic back up.
Robideau: Jonas, buddy…even your best friend had the good sense to stay down. Now I only have to assume that you aren’t so bad off. Now I have to assume that you’re begging me for more.
Eryk Masters: Oh what a crock of shit!
Other Guy: What, you think Jonas is blind and stupid? Like he doesn’t know what Nate’s about?!
Nate drops the mic to the bloody canvas with a thud and a wail of feedback, cracking his neck and rolling his shoulders, clearly gearing up for something nasty. He drags Coleman by the leg back to the middle of the ring, stepping over his midsection and pulling his head upwards, rearing back for more wraparound forearm strikes! He reaches back to make sure he really messes Jonas up–and over the PA, “Conflict Minded” but Drug Church hits to a massive reaction! Nate lets go of Jonas, walking forward to the ropes, his eyes narrowing. He’s focused on looking for her to come out–and doesn’t notice the cheers that accompany her sliding into the ring on the opposite end! She clears the distance between them and grabs Nate by the leg entirely unawares, hauling upwards and dumping him to the floor!! Nate lands hard on his head and shoulder–NEMESIS stands between him and his injured opponent, resolute!
Other Guy: Well this is hardly her business at all!
Eryk Masters: Be as offended as you’d like, but she’s got a match set with the World Champion–and she’s just as fed up as the rest of us with his antics!!
Nate stands up, chuckling, and points at Judy-E. He snatches his title from an attendant and begins to walk to the back, pausing to draw his thumb across his throat–a promise of things to come. As medics swarm the ring, the logo plays…