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Master of the Mat 2024

06.09.2024

ARENA: THE EPICENTER

MASTER OF THE MAT 2024

 

There must be some kinda way outta here…

 

Black and white. Laura Seton looks up from the ground and stares right into the camera. 

 

  Said the joker to the thief.

 

A smirking Lindsay Troy peers over her right shoulder, biting down on her bottom lip as she gazes at us.

 

There’s too much confusion

 

Breedlove’s back is to the camera, with his impeccable back muscles flexing. He raises his left arm out to his side with a balled fist.

 

…I can’t get no relief.

 

Alex Kincaid and NC-17 step towards one another. Black and white metamorphosizes into bits of color on their respective ring gear. 

 

Business men, they drink my wine…

 

Kincaid fades, but NC-17 remains. Ayumi Seppuku steps into the picture, standing by her tag team partner. Arthur Pleasant and Jeffrey James Roberts rise from the ground in flames, each of them covered in what seems like buckets of blood.

 

…plowman dig my earth.

 

The Premier and Sin City Championships merge into a single title belt as if once broken apart. Miranda DC and Madison Seton stand above an endless sea of competitors, worshiping them both like Goddesses.

 

None will level on the line…

Lucha Fitness crash through it all like a wrecking ball demolishing its way through an epic mural. The Coltons, Benjamin and, Dennis, waltz into the picture, flanking Maximo Fisico and Kid Lucha. All four men look up and see the World Tag Team Championships.

…nobody offered his word, hey hey!

A snarling Wolf Man comes face to face with a life-sized version of Lexi Gold’s doll, who holds Lexi Gold in its arms.

No reason to get excited…

Ultimo Muerte and C.K. Butcher step to one another, face to face. Right beside them is Pandora, as well as the alter ego of C.K. Butcher, Evil Butcher. 

…the thief, he kindly spoke.

Newcomers face off with one another as Josh Conway makes a fist and pounds his palm while Solar Gamma Death Ray motions for him to bring it.

There are many here among us…

Three members of The Punchline look like they’re about to collar-and-elbow tie-up with The Wild Ones.

who feel that life is but a joke.

Random shots of Real Deal, Jester Smiles, Azraith DeMitri, and X-Calibur hit us all in rapid fire succession. Could these men play a part that has yet to be revealed?

But, uh, but you and I, we’ve been through that…

We see glimpses from the previous battles of Lindsay Troy and Laura Seton where they’re pounding each other’s heads and twisting each other’s extremities into submission holds. Just when Troy hits Executioner’s Song on Laura, the battle morphs into previous battles of Joshua Breedlove and Lindsay Troy. 

…And this is not our fate.

Just as Breedlove hits a nasty ‘Make Way For The King’ forearm smash onto the Lady of the Hour, the video switches once more as Laura hits the angel’s Fury, which then morphs into the previous battles of Breedlove and Seton. The SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship glistens in the background, observing all the action like an all-seeing entity.

So let us stop talkin’ falsely now

Flashes of Joey Burkhalter, LOCUST, Anna Daniels, Kazna, Archer Quincannon, Mike De Le Huesos, and Josh Kaine come to an explosive crescendo as Madison Seton holds the Sin City Championship, screaming with an intensity that yields to absolutely no one.

The hour’s getting late, hey

More flashes follow, this time of Vito Valentino, CICADA, Jack Johnson, IAM, Izzy Sia, RIA, and an EIGHTH participant cloaked in digitally applied shadow all come to a head as Miranda DC holds the Premier Championship. She holds a lone finger pointed skyward to the wrestling Gods.

All along the watchtower

Newcomers Solar Gamma Death Ray and “North Star” Josh Conway are shown doing a photo op. The black and white masked enigma, Solar Gamma Death Ray, hits a series of impressive arm drags to one of his opponents from the most recent episode of Revolution. This is followed up by Josh Conway delivering a North Star DDT to an unknown opponent from another promotion.

Princes kept the view

Lexi Gold drags WOLF MAN out by a chain as Dr. Străjer looks on in horror. Quick flash to Lexi’s arm being twisted unnaturally. WOLF MAN throws Lexi into a structural beam and is soon surrounded by paramedics. Dr. Străjer stands by WOLF MAN, who stands across from Lexi Gold. She holds onto her doll with great possessorship. WOLF MAN snarls. Lexi Gold growls.

While all the women came and went

Alex Kincaid hits CK Butcher with a double knee chin crusher and covers him for the shocking three-count, effectively eliminating him from the Master of the Mat tournament. There’s a sound byte that plays over the Hendrix classic. “Nothing…nobody…not a damn thing will stop me from being the best version of CK Butcher.”. Madison Seton snags Ultimo Muerte up with a flying triangle choke. Muerte tries to fight it, but his body has had enough and he submits to the Sin City Champion. Another sound byte; “…we all have our driving forces, don’t we, Mr. Butcher?”. Ultimo Muerte, stoic and ready for war behind his mask, CK Butcher’s lips qui ver with rage as he does his best to stave off Evil Butcher.  

Barefoot servants, too

Jane Doe delivers a vicious uppercut to Eddie E, putting the Hall of Famer square on his back. Ryan Samuels hits a jumping knee shot to COMBAT Kabuto and then makes a lateral cover for a three-count. Lou hits Boone Daniels with a twisting reverse DDT that makes one half of the Kings of the Wild frontier eat the mat. Harv Norris lifts Laura Seton up from the top rope and falls to the mat with a devastating top rope DDT, and the Epicenter is silenced when he gets the three-count on the Workd Heavyweight Champion. X-Calibur looks on in shock and disappointment as a brand new shirt saying “SETON SLAYER” with pancakes on it flashes across the screen with a smiling Rick Hull. The Punchline stands before the Wild Ones with the daunting backdrop of Master of the Mat looking at them all from afar.

Well, uh, outside in the cold distance

NC-17 hits the ‘Not Yet Rated’ on Trailer Trash Terry, pinning him with a single foot and winning the match for HEXX to advance to the second round. Arthur Pleasant traps Sho Yoshida in a Triangle Choke and makes one half of the Midnight Cowboys tap, advancing The Devil’s Advocates to the second round. NC-17 rolls up Rowland Collins and catches him with a three-count as Ayumi Seppuku makes sure Michael Collins can’t interrupt the cover. Arthur Pleasant steals his Father’s move, the Kimura Lock, and makes Little Boy from the Atomic Punks tap. Jeffrey James Roberts is ready to wreck Fat Man, but the bell has already sounded and a smile supplants his desire to attack. NC-17 once again hits the Not Yet Rated, but this time the Hall of Famer Real Deal falls victim to it as HEXXX advance into the finals. Blood soaks the wrestling mat and both Arthur Pleasant and Jeffrey James Roberts. JJR manages to wipe blood away from his eyes and nails a picture perfect twisting moonsault press onto LOCUST for the three-count. Arthur and CICADA look like they want to continue their fight, but the fight has already been won by The Devil’s Advocates. Arthur Pleasant. Jeffrey James Roberts. Ayumi Seppuku. NC-17. The silhouette of the 2024 Masters of the Mat trophy transcends them all.   

A wildcat did growl

NC-17 leaps into the air with a kick, with a brief “WOOOOOAAAAH” cutting through the All along The Watchtower cover. Alex Kincaid flies off the top rope and slams his body so hard into the frame of LOCUST that he turns over into an unconscious state. The referee calls for a “Critical!” as soon as he recognizes LOCUST’s inability to continue and sounds for the bell. An exhausted NC-17 hits the ‘Not Yet Rated’ on Jack Johnson so hard that his face spikes into the mat. The referee can tell that he might be knocked out, so he checks on him. Like LOCUST, Jack Johnson is deemed incapacitated. Both Alex Kincaid and NC-17 stand face to face with the 2024 Master of the Mat trophy setup between them.

Two riders were approaching

A cavalcade of high risk maneuvers hit us in rapid succession. Kid Lucha launches off the back of Maximo Fisico, landing a destroyer on Dennis Colton in one swift  motion. Benjamin Colton hits a nasty hurricanrana that spikes Kid Lucha, and then Dennis hits a nasty lariat on Maximo that takes him down. Suddenly The Coltons hold the SHOOT World Tag Team Championships in the air. Gradually, the titles fade from their arms and appear around the Lucas Bros waists.

And the wind began to howl, hey

Joshua Breedlove holds the World Heavyweight Championship up in the air for his own Empire. He’s soaked in sweat and blood. 

All along the watchtower

Lindsay Troy has her arm raised in the air with the 2023 Master of the Mat logo directly behind her. She’s completely spent after a courageous fight. 

All along the watchtower

 

A final shot of Laura Seton holding her World Heavyweight Title in the air. Tears stream down her face, completing a 20-Year journey to become World Heavyweight Champion.

The hype piece to one of SHOOT Project’s most anticipated Premium Live Events in history fades to black…

 

…and then we fade in LIVE! To the Epicenter in Las Vegas!




POST MATCH

NOTHING BUT DEAD WEIGHT

With the match over, Harv Norris and Rick Hull are nursing their wounds from another tough loss. Roy Vezina paces angrily, his face a mask of frustration. Ryan Samuels stands off to the side, chuckling to himself, unable to hide his amusement at their defeat.

 

Roy Vezina: [Turning sharply toward Ryan, his voice rising] You think this is funny, Ryan? You think our hard work, our dedication, is a joke to you?

 

Ryan Samuels: [Still chuckling] Well, Roy, it kind of is when you look at it from where I’m standing.

 

Roy Vezina: [Voice growing louder, furious] You’re nothing but a water boy, Ryan! A loser who can’t do anything right! That’s why you’re the water boy and not in this ring fighting with us!

 

Ryan Samuels: [Chuckles fading, his face growing darker] What did you just say?

 

Roy Vezina: [Stepping closer, eyes blazing] You heard me. You’re a joke, Ryan. A pathetic excuse for a wrestler. You couldn’t cut it in the ring, so you were relegated to fetching water and towels. That’s all you’re good for.

 

Ryan Samuels: [Stepping forward, fists clenching] You better watch your mouth, Roy.

 

Roy Vezina: [Ignoring him, voice dripping with disdain] You’ve always been a failure, Samuels. That’s why you’re stuck being the water boy. You don’t have the guts, the skill, or the heart to make it. You’re nothing but dead weight, dragging us down.

 

The tension builds as Ryan’s face grows darker and darker, his amusement completely gone. Harv and Rick sense the danger and try to pull Roy away from Ryan.

 

Harv Norris: [Trying to calm Roy] Dee pipe began to rust while new? (Ay, b’y, let’s just cool down, alright?)

 

Rick Hull: [Nodding] Yeah, Roy, this isn’t helping anyone.

 

Roy Vezina: [Ignoring them, stepping even closer to Ryan, almost nose-to-nose] You’re a loser, Ryan. That’s why you’re not in the ring fighting with us. You’re not even worth the air you breathe in this ring! You’re just a worthless, good-for-nothing water boy!

 

Before Harv and Rick can react, Roy slaps Ryan hard across the face. The sound echoes through the arena, and the crowd gasps. All hell breaks loose as Ryan’s face contorts with rage.

 

Ryan Samuels: [Snarling, his voice low and dangerous] That’s it, Roy! I’ve had enough of you!

 

Ryan lunges at Roy, who scrambles back, but Ryan’s fury is unstoppable. He grabs Harv by the arm and, with a powerful heave, throws him over the top rope and out of the ring. The crowd roars as he turns to Rick, who charges at him. Ryan ducks and uses Rick’s momentum to toss him out of the ring as well.

 

Roy Vezina: [Eyes wide with fear, backing away] Get away from me, you psycho!

 

Ryan charges at Roy, who barely makes it out of the ring in time. Roy hightails it up the ramp, with Ryan giving chase.

 

Ryan Samuels: [Shouting] You’re not getting away that easily, Roy!

 

As Ryan runs by, Harv stumbles to his feet. Without breaking stride, Ryan hooks his arm and delivers a devastating lariat, sending Harv flipping through the air. Harv crashes hard onto the ramp, sprawling out in a heap. The crowd bursts into laughter and cheers.

 

Harv Norris: [Tumbling, dazed] Ay, b’y!

 

Rick Hull: [Scrambling to his feet, looking concerned] Harv, you alright?

 

Harv Norris: [Groaning, trying to sit up] Sunday is dee… best part of dee week… (Yeah, just… give me a minute…)

 

The scene ends with Roy frantically escaping to the backstage area, Ryan in hot pursuit, and the crowd buzzing with excitement at the unexpected turn of events. Harv and Rick pick themselves up, looking dazed and confused as the camera fades out.

BACKSTAGE

THE ART OF THE DEAL

“Street Fighter” Scottie Barnes awaits his prey in the Epicenter. He hears the sounds of Master of the Mat from the arena and the chaos of backstage production. Each moment fills him with greater hatred. He can think only of Real Deal, his cruel arch nemesis, and how he kept him from the grand stage he belonged on.He knows Real Deal is avoiding him so he has laid his careful trap for his pathetic underling, COO Dan Stein. He sees Stein approach and emerges from his hunter’s perch.

 

Scottie Barnes: Surprise Attack!

 

He screams emerging and colliding with Dan Stein impotently, finding him to be frustratingly stout and his physique annoyingly chiseled for using a cane. 

 

Dan Stein: Did you just come out of a janitor’s closet – how long were you there?

 

Hank Hercules: It’s a surprise attack you nerd! 

 

Hank Hercules, also emerging from the very small closet, eating a sloppy looking meatball sandwich which said janitor will no doubt have to clean up later.

 

Dan Stein: Aw, man, Ray’s gonna flip out when he sees that mess, gu-

 

Scottie Barnes: Cut the fancy talk Stein. 

 

Barnes says getting in his face. 

 

Scottie Barnes: I want Real Deal. He’s ducking me and you either get me in front of him, or you take me on. I’m the toughest motherfucker in SHOOT and I won’t let you and Deal hold me down from your ivory tower.

 

Hank Hercules: Hell yeah. 

 

Adds Hank largely inaudible as he continues to eat his sub.

 

Dan Stein: Listen, as much as I’d love to get in there and give it a go, (Dan raises his cane) there’s one guy on this roster who books himself, and it isn’t me. If you want Real Deal to stop (finger quotes) ducking you (unquote) then you’re going to have to…incentivize the match. Nothing I can do for you, even if I wanted to. Which, for the record, I don’t.

 

Scottie Barnes (with rage): Incentivize! I am offering him the glory of combat, I am calling him out, I am saying he is not a true fighter if he won’t face –

 

Hank interjects, improbably still consuming his meatball parm.

 

Hank Hercules: Hold on partner, let me handle this, I listened to The Art of the Deal book on tape, leave this to the businessmen. Exactly what kind of incentive is Mr. Deal looking for? 

 

Dan Stein: Real Deal has done everything, won everything, beat everyone this industry has to offer. Only thing that keeps him coming out of retirement is the money. Money for him, money for the SHOOT Project. 

 

Dan nods, looking at Hank. 

 

Dan Stein: If you want Real Deal, show him there’s money to be made and not just for Bear Grylls over there.

 

Dan says, pointing at Scottie with his thumb. Dan catches a glimpse of his watch, causing him to double take and study it. 

 

Dan Stein: Listen, gentlemen, I have to get going. Show to run, you know the deal. It was a pleasure getting surprise attacked by you and all.

 

Dan moves to walk away, but stops mid-step. 

 

Dan Stein: Oh, by the way. Your Spitter suspension?

 

Scottie Barnes (perking up): Yeah?

 

Dan Stein: Continues.

 

Scottie Barnes (dejected): Aw, man!

 

PREVIOUSLY

THE BAPTISM OF CK BUTCHER

The river flows like a human vein.  The blood of the Earth.  Water is a life force.  The other force shines down upon the water.  The sun, and clouds, complete the beautiful blue sky.  It’s a wonderful day.

 

Norris Winfield, CK Butcher’s Pastor, stands in the water.  The large man wears a white alb that floats along the top.  There’s a special happiness in his grin.  He shuts his eyes and begins to pray.

 

Pastor Norris: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of baptism and the opportunity for my brother to publicly declare faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

 

CK Butcher: [Narration] We make a lot of decisions in life.  The results and consequences of decisions may be fleeting, or they could resonate for a lifetime.  We meet people who made decisions that have changed their life for the best, and some for the worst.  There are people who do not know how to make a decision, or simply can’t.  The power of the decisions we make don’t just affect the decision maker.   Our decisions affect everyone that serves a purpose in our lives.  

 

Pastor Norris: I pray that this baptism would be a powerful testimony and symbolic entry into the Body of Christ.  May it mark the burial of an old way of life and the resurrection into a new life lived for You.

 

CK Butcher wears a white robe and wades through the water.  He approaches Pastor Norris.  The Pastor opens his eyes.

 

CK Butcher: [Narration] There’s an unpredictability to life that drives these decisions.  One day you’re homeless, aimless, walking the streets on Thanksgiving day and looking for a bed; because of a decision.  One day you’ve rebuilt your life and live happily no matter the conditions; because of a decision.  One day a woman enters your life and, for whatever reason, loves you more than any woman ever has.  All decisions become redirected one wedding and three children later.  Every decision is now a fragile strategy that could change the fabric of lives you’re now responsible for.  

 

Pastor Norris: Lord, I ask that as my brother goes under the waters of baptism, You would wash away all remnants of guilt, shame, and impurity.  Let it represent the cleansing of his sins by the blood of Jesus.  Fill them afresh with Your Holy Spirit and supernatural power to walk obediently with You all their days.    

 

The men look each other in the eyes.  Pastor Norris’ happiness continues to shine as a compliment to this wonderful moment.  CK Butcher is stoic.

 

CK Butcher: [Narration] The decision to be a better example is one that takes more time than it really should.  Everybody is different, and some get it faster than others.  It doesn’t matter how long it takes.  The best examples are often those who took the longest to get there.  The lessons they’ve learned are the premise of their stories.  Here are the decisions they made.  It’s your choice to do it the same, or do it better.  

 

Pastor Norris:  Grow their faith through studying Your Word.  Establish them in Christian community where they can be discipled to maturity.  Give them courage to share their testimony with others to make Your Name known.  

 

Members of the clergy spectate.  CK’s family waits for him at the shore.  His wife, and children, are dressed in wet, white, robes.  Each has been dipped in this water as they enter the journey together.  

 

CK Butcher: [Narration] I’m not looking to run from the decisions I’ve made.  Those will stay with me forever.  What’s done is done, but don’t be confused.  Change is also a decision, and it’s one of the hardest choices that we have to make.  If what you’re doing isn’t working, if the results do not provide the right education, then change may be necessary.  You can build a bridge to get over that river of inadequacy.  You can also build a boat. 

 

Pastor Norris: May this public declaration be just the beginning of a life wholly devoted to You. Set their heart ablaze with passion for the lost. Use them mightily in building Your Kingdom. As they emerge from the waters, they rededicate their life to following You with boldness and joy.

 

The Pastor’s smile doesn’t fade.  Norris reaches and lays a palm against CK’s forehead, and then he guides Butcher toward the water.

 

CK Butcher: [Narration] Or, in this case, you can stop for a moment to be drenched in the water.  Realize that what is on the other side is the rest of your life. Understand the beauty and what it means. Feel its healing power.  Allow it to enter your soul, cleanse your veins, aid in exhalation and bridge the synapses. 

 

Pastor Norris: ask all of this in the powerful Name of Jesus, who modeled baptism in obedience to the Father and through whom we have new abundant life.

 

CK closes his eyes and holds his breath as the Pastor dunks him.  He is underwater for what seems like forever, but there’s no anxiety of drowning.  There’s no feeling of regret; only suspended animation and the power of change.  

 

CK Butcher: [Narration] I’ve made a lot of decisions in my life.  Some were good, and some bad.  But, I can’t have any regrets.  I am here because of every decision that I’ve made.  I am here for all the decisions that I will make.  This isn’t just about me, either.  It’s about everyone that serves a purpose in my life.  I appreciate you all too much to see you hurt by the choices that I make.  That will no longer happen; win or lose.

 

Pastor Norris: Amen!

 

Pastor Norris pulls CK from the water.  There’s a blinding burst of light.  Natural sounds take their time to return to the ears.  The bird’s chirp again.  The water races beneath both men.  Butcher lets out a roaring exhale.  The Pastor wipes the water from CK’s eyes.  He turns to see his family.  Their smiles and the shine of their eyes tell him everything will be just fine. 

PREVIOUSLY

NIGHT THOUGHTS

The night was foggy, swirling around the ancient oak trees. The moon barely lit the cemetery, giving a faint silver shine to the tombstones. The air smelled damp and rotten, making it spooky.

 

Lexi Gold sat on a worn wooden chair, her dark hair framing her pale face. She held an old children’s book in her hands. Across from her, in an equally old chair, sat Miss Marrow, her haunted doll. The doll’s porcelain face was cracked, with one eye larger than the other, and lips painted a deep, unsettling red.

 

Tombstones were all around them, quiet observers of the unusual gathering. Some were ancient and falling apart, while others were new, with freshly dug soil.

 

Lexi Gold: Are you ready for tonight’s story, Miss Marrow?

 

Lexi spoke softly, almost like a whisper.

 

She looked at the doll, whose glassy eyes seemed to shine in the dim light.

 

Miss Marrow sat still, eyes not blinking. Yet, the air around her felt colder, as if she was more than just a doll.

 

Lexi opened the book, and the pages made a sound like crunching leaves.

 

Lexi Gold: Tonight, we read The Tale of the Restless Child.

 

Her voice grew darker as she began the story.

 

Lexi Gold: Once, in a village not far from here, there was a child who could not sleep. Every night, as the moon rose, she would wander the woods, searching for something she could never find…

 

As Lexi read, it got darker around them. The tombstones seemed to move closer, looking scary in the faint light. An owl hooted far away, making everything even scarier.

 

Lexi Gold: …and one night, she found herself at the edge of a graveyard, much like this one. The air was cold, and the ground was soft beneath her feet. She walked among the graves, feeling eyes upon her, but when she turned, there was no one there.”

 

Lexi stopped and glanced at Miss Marrow. The doll’s face appeared to change slightly, with a hint of a smile on her painted lips.

 

Lexi Gold: She saw a figure in the distance, a child like her, but with eyes that glowed like embers. The figure beckoned, and she followed, deeper into the graveyard, until she reached an old, forgotten crypt…

 

The wind made the leaves dance, and Lexi stared at Miss Marrow, as if getting something spooky energy from the doll.

 

Lexi Gold: Inside the crypt, she found a secret, something that should never have been disturbed. The child’s restless spirit was forever bound to that place, a warning to all who wander the night.

 

Lexi shut the book, her breath showing in the chilly air.

 

Lexi Gold: So, Miss Marrow, do you think the child ever found peace?

 

The doll stayed quiet. Lexi decided to relax in her chair, while the doll watched silently.

 

Lexi Gold: Glad we’re together again in this familiar place?

 

The doll’s head slowly turned to Lexi.

 

Miss Marrow: For how long, Lexi? For how long are we going to be together?

 

A light breeze brushed Lexi’s hair as she sighed, finding peace in knowing her doll has come alive again and hearing her voice.

 

Lexi Gold: Forever, Marrow. I could never get rid of you. It would absolutely kill me if I did that. 

 

Miss Marrow: Are you going to let the bad men take me again? Would you even care if they did?

 

She sat back up, taken aback by the question.

 

Lexi Gold: I messed up. We fought in the mirror maze, and then one thing led to another and you were gone from my possession. I stopped taking care of myself when you were gone. I didn’t bathe for weeks, even ended up with a bald spot from cutting my hair in a moment of madness. Despite all this, I still care about you and I won’t let anyone take you from me again. As for WOLF MAN, he’s going to get what’s coming to him at Master of the Mat. No one dares to turn you against me.

 

Miss Marrow: You can’t just beat him, Lexi. He must suffer. BOTH of them must suffer. They…TOUCHED…ME! No one is supposed to touch me, Lexi. No one should touch any of us. 

 

A silence sits in the air, an intensity between Lexi and the doll.

 

Miss Marrow: There is no peace to be found for the restless, Lexi. Only vengeance.

 

And violence.

 

The wolf is a tool. The old man must suffer.

 

Lexi listens and her head is swarming with ideas. She rises up out of her seat and walks around, then circles around a few headstones.

 

Lexi Gold: Seeing as Strajer and WOLF MAN have a fascination with toying with the dead, perhaps I should consider burying WOLF MAN alive six feet under? Do you like the idea?

 

Miss Marrow: Leave the wolf in the ground for other scavengers to find his body. Yes, good for the wolf, but the old man…he deserves worse. You should remove the hands that dared to touch me.

 

Pause.

 

Miss Marrow: …to start with.

 

Lexi Gold: I’ll graciously allow him to keep his hands, but don’t think I won’t come up with something better along the way. Will you be lurking in the shadows to witness my match? You could even spook the other wrestlers. Perhaps I’ll bring your favorite rocking chair too in case you get tired and want to sit. 

 

Miss Marrow: To see the old man and the beast suffer…

The doll’s chair starts rocking faster and faster.

 

Miss Marrow: I wouldn’t miss it, sweet Lexi.

 

Lexi starts suddenly crying mixed in with a sinister laugh, runs up to her doll. She picks her up, and they begin spinning rapidly together in a circle as the scene cuts.

BACKSTAGE

OCCUPIED!

Scene opens in a dimly lit bathroom in the arena. Roy Vezina bursts in, looking panicked and desperate for a place to hide. He quickly ducks into one of the stalls, trying to catch his breath. Moments later, Ryan Samuels storms into the bathroom, fury and rage etched all over his face.

 

Ryan Samuels: [Growling] Roy! Where are you, you coward?

 

Ryan begins kicking open each stall door one by one, the sound echoing through the bathroom.

 

Ryan Samuels: [Kicking a door open] Come out and face me!

 

Ryan kicks open another door and is surprised to find Benny Colton sitting there, looking shocked and confused.

 

Benny Colton: [Startled] Whoa, man! Occupied!

 

Ryan Samuels: [Momentarily taken aback, then apologizing] Sorry, Benny.

 

Ryan closes the door and moves on, his anger not diminished. He approaches the stall where Roy is hiding, ready to kick it down.

 

Ryan Samuels: [Raising his foot] This is it, Roy!

 

Just as Ryan is about to kick down Roy’s door, Harv Norris and Rick Hull burst into the bathroom, followed by a team of security guards.

 

Harv Norris: [Shouting] Rion, note closely dee size of dee gas tank! (Ryan, stop this madness!)

 

Rick Hull: [Pointing to the security team] Get him out of here!

 

The security guards quickly swarm Ryan, pulling him away from the stall. Ryan fights back, trying to break free, but the guards hold him firmly.

 

Ryan Samuels: [Struggling] Let me go! I’m not done with him!

 

As the guards drag Ryan out of the bathroom, he manages to land a swift kick to Harv’s private parts. Harv crumples to the ground in pain, groaning.

 

Harv Norris: [Falling, his voice a high-pitched squeak] Ay, b’y!

 

The security guards finally pull Ryan out of the room, and the bathroom door swings shut behind them. Roy, still in the stall, takes a deep breath and cautiously steps out, shaken but trying to maintain his overly positive demeanor.

 

Roy Vezina: [Trying to stay positive, forcing a smile] Well, that was… certainly something. Just a minor hiccup. Nothing to worry about.

 

Rick Hull: [Helping Harv to his feet] You alright, Harv?

 

Harv Norris: [Grimacing, holding his groin] Mesh mire… keeps chicks inside. (Yeah, just… need a moment.)

 

Roy Vezina: [Putting a hand on Harv’s shoulder] Don’t worry, Harv. This is just a little bump in the road. We’ll bounce back stronger than ever. Nothing can stop the Punch Line!

 

Despite his shaken appearance, Roy manages to project an air of confidence, though it’s clear he’s rattled. The camera pans out as Roy, Harv, and Rick regroup, determined to move past the chaotic incident.

 

As they exit the bathroom, a muffled voice from the stall Benny is in breaks the silence.

 

Benny Colton: [Confused, his voice echoing in the bathroom] What the heck just happened?

 

The camera zooms in on the closed stall door, then slowly fades out, leaving Benny’s bewildered question hanging in the air as the scene ends.

BACKSTAGE

ABJECT FAILURE

Eryk Masters: What a huge win for the Devil’s Advocates! 

 

Jason Johnson: They’re going to be watching eagerly later tonight, as the Coltons look to reclaim their tag gold. 

 

Eryk Masters: That’s for sure, and frankly, either of those matchups are freaking fire for me. Coltons Vs. Devil’s Advocates? Lucha Fitness Vs. Devil’s Advocates? LOVE that.

 

Jason Johnson: We’re getting word that something’s going on backstage. We’re hearing that a… is it a seance? I have no idea. Something’s going on with the Celestial Order. We’ll head back there.

 

Backstage, a door opens to a darkened room where members of the Celestial Order are sitting together, circling an unidentified item. Elijah Cassius Starborne is the only one with a unique look, and next to him sits Solstice, Elijah’s muscle. One of the Order’s acolytes notices a woman walk into the room and gets up to meet her. This catches Elijah’s attention, and his eyes widen once he sees who it is. He scurries to his feet, beating the acolyte to the door. 

 

Elijah: It was my understanding that we were not to meet so publicly. On camera. 

 

Pandora: The situation has changed. 

 

Pulling her towards the doorway and out into the hall, Elijah is surprised when he’s not greeted by Ultimo Muerte. He waves Solstice off, who’d been lumbering behind them.

 

Elijah: It’s changed so dramatically that we’re making a spectacle now? 

 

Pandora: Yes. With Ultimo Muerte’s loss against CK Butcher, there will be a hierarchical shift in Mexico. 

 

Elijah: How do you know that? 

 

Pandora: We were visited by those who control us in the last week. 

 

Collapsing against the wall, Elijah is deflated and also somewhat shocked.

 

Elijah: You mean…

 

Pandora: Yes. 

 

Elijah: What’s the new goal? 

 

Pandora: They seek to make a much more public, immediate impact very soon, and to do so means that a statement needs to be made. They will make that statement in the coming weeks. 

 

Elijah looks down to the ground, clearly much more insecure than he’s ever appeared before. 

 

Elijah: And what does that mean for me? For us? 

 

Pandora: We have not moved quickly or successfully enough to their liking, Elijah. You will get a visit soon, from someone else who’s able to operate in the United States. They see these past few months as nothing but abject failure.

 

Elijah: What? Why? 

 

Pandora: You couldn’t handle Archer Quincannon. We have been similarly unsuccessful in our own quests. Neither of us have a Master of the Mat winner on the horizon. They are looking for avenues back into the SHOOT Project and we have not held up our end of the deal. 

 

Elijah: You are taking this remarkably well.

 

Pandora: I have had time to come to terms and I have offered a solution. I’d recommend you take some time and do the same.

 

Elijah has a panicked look and wipes sweat from his brow as he stands before Pandora, who has remained calm and even keeled the entire conversation. 

 

Pandora: I must take my leave. Expect to hear from them soon.

 

Elijah: I… okay.

 

Making her exit, Pandora turns her back to him, and he stands mouth agape but curling into a scowl. Unhappy. 

 

Jason Johnson: Well that’s all kinds of creepy.

 

Eryk Masters: Did you know that those two even KNEW each other, nevermind were somehow connected or working together? 

 

Jason Johnson: No, I didn’t, but if all of that is true and not a smokescreen… I’m worried about what might come next.

 

Eryk Masters: Be that as it may, we’ve got a Sin City Championship match coming up, and I’ve got NO idea how this is going to play out. I’ve gotta try and believe in my girl Madison, though. 

 

Jason Johnson: I’m Burkhalter all the way. 

 

Eryk Masters: Let’s get into it!

IN THE RING

SURPRISE!

♫ THE WORLD IS A VAMPIRE ♫



“Bullet With Butterfly Wings”. Smashing Pumpkins.

 

♫ SENT TO DRAAAAAAAIN

 

A giant “X” on the SHOOTron.

 

 

♫ SECRET DESTROYERS ♫

 

The crowd goes fucking APE. SHIT.

 

Eryk Masters: WHAT?!

 

Jason Johnson: Josh told me he had a surprise, but I didn’t think it’d be THIS! 

 

Eryk Masters: This is insane! How’d they keep it quiet? How’d HE keep it quiet?!

 

Jason Johnson: That’s the way of the road sometimes, E. 

 

 

♫ HOLD YOU UP TO THE FLAMES ♫

♫ AND WHAT DO I GET ♫

♫ FOR MY PAAAAAAAIN?! ♫

 

X-Calibur comes out from Gorilla and onto the stage. The audience erupts as the Hall of Famer cracks his neck and adjusts his MMA gloves. 

 

♫ BETRAYED DESIRES

♫ AND A PIECE OF THE GAME

 

Stopping to look at the fans in attendance of this year’s Master of the Mat, a large BANG goes off showering pyro all along the stage entrance in perfect timing with the lyrics of the legendary song.

 

♫ DESPITE ALL MY RAGE I AM STILL JUST A RAT IN A CAGE

 

The audience sings along as X-Calibur makes his way down to the ring. Wearing a pair of jeans and his MMA gloves, X-Calibur smiles from ear to ear, enjoying the moment one beat at a time.  

 

Eryk Masters: We saw something in the hype video that hinted an eighth man would be involved in this Premier Championship showdown, but neither me nor my broadcast partner heard a word about who it could be!

 

Jason Johnson: I wasn’t even sure if it was actually a thing!

 

With all seven of the competitors in the ring, looking none too happy that the two-time SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion is crashing their “Premier”, X simply runs under the bottom rope and lunges at the first opponent he sees!

 

Eryk Masters: Here we goooooooooo! 

COMMERCIAL

NEW PROMOTION COMING SOON!

BACKSTAGE

SOMETIMES YOU JUST GOTTA GO WITH THE SHITKICKING METHOD

We transition to everyone’s favorite SmashShow, Vito Valentino, who’s coming off his loss from the Premier Championship Scramble. Looking a bit disappointed in himself for being unable to capture the Premier Championship, he doesn’t let it bother him too much as he walks with his head held high. Looking to a random member of the Epicenter personnel, Vito stops her.

 

Vito Valentino: Hey, you have any idea where Real Deal is? Or Dan Stein? Whoever’s closest, honestly.

 

Before the unidentified female, who happens to be pushing those black production boxes everyone gets thrown through, Vito waves his hand.

 

Vito Valentino: Scratch that. I want to talk to Real Deal. It’s more appropriate this way, I think.

 

She looks around, and has a look of “I don’t fucking know, dude!” on her face.

 

Vito Valentino: Sorry. Hey, you need help with that?

 

She shakes her head when a voice over his shoulder surprises him.

 

Real Deal: You had a good run out there, Veet. Proud of what you’ve done here in a short period of time. What can I do for you?

 

Vito Valentino: Thanks, man. I’ve been tryin’ to earn my keep around here. Hasn’t been easy with all the egos runnin’ around demandin’ shit, but I’d like to think I’ve been doin’ a decent job at blockin’ it out and givin’ it my best out there. Anyway…

 

He pauses for a second, looking over his shoulder and just around the general vicinity.

 

Vito Valentino: This fuckin’ Scottie Barnes shit, man. Ugh.

 

Laughing, Real Deal moves and leans against the wall, ending with a short, mostly exasperated sigh. 

 

Real Deal: I’ve been in this business a long time. Everyone has an angle when they come in, whether it’s something simple or something more complex. Some ideas are much, much dumber than others. His is one of those. I’m… not going to fight him. It would be a waste of my time, at least for now.

 

Shrugging, Real Deal continues.

 

Real Deal: And really, I should let him jump back on Spitter, but I’ve been enjoying the delusional shit that’s been coming from his… agent? Handler? Manager? Not really sure what Hankules is.

 

Vito laughs, nay, guffaws mightily at the mention of Hankules.

 

Vito Valentino: Honestly? I think it’s him. Or, like, his Mom. In the fuckin’ basement he lives in. But anyway. Yeah. I’m not sure what he’s thinkin’ there, that’s for sure.

 

Real Deal: Never even considered that it might be his mom. That’s…. a special level of pathetic, actually.

 

He shakes his head.

 

Real Deal: He needs some good advice, or a shitkicking, or something. I saw you’ve been trying to get through to him. Sorry it’s not landing.

 

Vito nods and follows it up with an exasperated sigh of his own.

 

Vito Valentino: Yeah, about that. That’s actually why I wanted to talk to you in the first place. I’m done tryin’ to get through to him. At least verbally. It’s time to try the shitkicking method. If I have to powerbomb him until his brain rearranges itself, then that’s what I’m gonna do. Hate even talkin’ about this, but it is what it is. He’s made his bed, and now he can bleed in it.

 

Real Deal laughs.

 

Real Deal: I can get behind that. So we’re thinking about you against him, then? How ‘bout Ruination 60? It’ll give him an opportunity to experience reality and give you an opportunity to help your friend. Win win?

 

Vito Valentino: Works for me. I’ll even put some kind of stipulation on the line for it, if you are okay with that? If I win, he’s done with Spitter, and so is his manager and any other damn variety he wants to use until you deem he’s ready to handle himself in a more respectful manner. If he wins? You can ban me from Spitter. Can’t believe I’m even suggestin’ such a stipulation, but that seems to be the only language Barnesy understands.

 

Real Deal: That…actually sounds good to me. Reinstate his login and take away yours? Haha. Good God. Alright. I guess it could be fun to watch him twist in the wind some more at the idea of getting back his precious Spitter account.

 

Vito Valentino: Fantastic. I know he’s goin’ to love the idea of gettin’ one past you and me and stick it to “the man”, one way or the other. Me, on the other hand? It’s time to welcome a new viewer to The SmashShow.

 

Vito smiles, chuckling at the match he got approved.

 

Real Deal: Right on, Vito. I look forward to seeing this go down! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I do have a busy night still ahead of me an there’s some things that need my attention.

 

Vito Valentino: Of course, Boss. Thanks for listenin’ and makin’ it happen!

 

Nodding, Real Deal heads down the concourse of the Epicenter where screaming fans can be heard in the distance. Vito, meanwhile, stands back against the wall, dropping a facade he seemingly has kept up.

 

Vito Valentino: Goddammit, Barnsey. Why are you makin’ me do this?      

ENTRANCE

THE COLTONS

 

Let’s get wild.

Let’s get crazy.

Let’s get, as the song says… “Out of Control.”

RRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!

Moments after the Eagles’ classic hits the arena, Benjamin and Dennis Colton emerge from the curtain…and we can already tell that this isn’t going to be a normal match.

Eryk Masters: Look at the Coltons! They’re ready for war!

Indeed they are. For the first time in SHOOT Project, they’re not wearing their signature color-coordinated gear or ring jackets to a match. Instead, they’re dressed for the bunkhouse–thick, long-sleeved shirts, blue jeans, and taped fists.

Jason Johnson: Bunch of cowards! They spent all that time demanding barbed wire, and now they’re afraid they’re gonna get hurt?

Eryk Masters: It’s tactical! These matches get brutal fast, and anything to mitigate the punishment is going to be a smart play.

Normally the Colton’s entrance is marked with big smiles and shaking hands, but there’s none of that here. They are all business as they stalk their way down the ramp and up the ring steps, only becoming slightly more cautious as they step between the barbed wire ropes.

Eryk Masters: The Colton cousins are all business tonight, and no surprise–Lucha Fitness made this fight very personal, even before winning the titles at Warrior’s Code!

Jason Johnson: Maximo Fisico and Kid Lucha are deep in the Coltons’ heads right now. Lucha Fitness attacked their family, took their belts, and threw them off their game enough to get knocked out of the Masters tournament right away.

Eryk Masters: That’s why the former champions pushed so hard for this match! They need to make a statement if they want to get back on track. Lucha Fitness have already shown they’ll stop at nothing, and the Coltons will have to match them step for step.

Denny briefly acknowledges the cheering crowd, and both men turn to face the entrance.

 

 

ENTRANCE

LINDSAY TROY

It’s time now for the main event of the evening, and the SHOOT Project Faithful are waiting with baited breath for the Soldiers to make their way into the arena. The excitement is palpable as the Epicenter buzzes with anticipation and cheers and chants begin to ripple through the crowd.

 

LET’S GO BREEDLOVE, LET’S GO! (*CLAP CLAP*)

LET’S GO BREEDLOVE, LET’S GO! (*CLAP CLAP*)

LET’S GO BREEDLOVE, LET’S GO! (*CLAP CLAP*)

 

LAU-RA SE-TON! (*CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP*)

LAU-RA SE-TON! (*CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP*)

LAU-RA SE-TON! (*CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP*)

 

HAIL THE QUEEN!

HAIL THE QUEEN!

HAIL THE QUEEN!

 

Without any sign or warning, the lights cut out, which sends the Faithful into a frenzy. White spotlights slowly come to life on the entrance stage, illuminating eerily rolling fog trailing across the metal platform. 

 

It’s then that the ominous chords of a doom piano begin their disconcerting symphony.

 

dunnn dunnn dunnn. dunnn dunnn dunnn. dunnn dunnn dunnn. dunnn dunnn dunnn.

 

Thunderous drum beats soon follow. A haunting voice wails through the gloom before the lyrics creep through the Epicenter’s speakers.

 

STRANGER FRUIT

HOW IT GROWS AND GROWS

WE ALL SAW THE SHOOT

BUT WE TEND TO THE ROSE

 

“Stranger Fruit” by Zeal and Ardor heralds the arrival of Lindsay Troy. She strides slowly onto the stage, the white light backlighting her as she cuts a foreboding path through the darkness. 



STRANGER FRUIT

IS A PLANT OF THE WELL

FLESH SO BITTER

IT PICK ITSELF

 

She strides down the ramp amidst purple, gold, pink, and blue spotlights. The fans lucky enough to have seats on the aisle pound the barricade in time to the music as the Queen approaches the ring. The Faithful with ringside seats do the same as Lindsay hops on the apron, wipes her feet, and slips inbetween the ropes.

 

STRANGER FRUIT

WITH A BECKONING CALL

FROM CROWN TO THE ROOT

THIS TREE WON’T FALL

 

Up to the corner now for a photo op. Lindsay sheds her jacket and casts her gaze amongst the Faithful, throwing an arm into the air with a look of determination. 

 

This is what she wants. 

 

This is what she’s come back for.

 

The Queen hops down from the turnbuckle and paces the ring, ready and waiting for Breedlove and Seton to join her.



 

ENTRANCE

JOSHUA BREEDLOVE

“MAKE WAY FOR THE KING”

 

The music screams out and the crowd is definitely into it. Breedlove is staring at the ground right outside of the entrance and he smiles at the reaction. He’s wearing an EMPIRE t-shirt and his normal red, black, and gold ring gear with standard black wrestling boots. He lifts his head, looks out to the ramp, and steps out, grabbing the pop that all wrestlers want to hear at some point in their career.

 

Jason Johnson: Tall order on tap for ol’ Breedlove tonight. 

 

Eryk Masters: That’s MY line!

 

Jason Johnson: Not tonight it’s not!

 

 

He’s soaking in the cheers as he takes a few steps in, with Samantha Coil carrying him the rest of the way.

 

Samantha Coil: INTRODUCING FIRST… HE STANDS AT SIX FEET, FIVE INCHES TALL AND WEIGHS IN AT TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE POUNDS… HE IS A TWO TIME FORMER SHOOT PROJECT WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION… HE IS THE NUMBER ONE CONTENDER… THE CHALLENGER… JOSHUA. BREEDLOVE…

 

As Breedlove gets into the ring, he offers a quick thanks to Samantha Coil and turns to face the ramp once more, awaiting the last dance partner. The lights dim to an almost pitch black dark, flashes from phone cameras start to blink all over the arena, the crowd quiets in anticipation, waits for it… keeps waiting… finally…

ENTRANCE

LAURA SETON

… I’ll get him hot, show him what I got…

 

A blast of fireworks go off at the head of the ramp.

 

Can’t read my, can’t read my, no he can’t read my poker face…

 

The crowd explodes for the song of the champion, Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”! Dressed in her red and black ring gear, Seton appears the top of the ramp and the noise levels grow as she shows a determined face with the World Heavyweight Championship over her shoulder. 

 

Jason Johnson: Laura Seton is ready to ROCK tonight

 

Eryk Masters: She knows she has to be. Sure, she’s beaten Breedlove before, but this is different. Lindsay Troy is here, Breedlove has had another long period of time to prepare for this moment specifically. 

 

Jason Johnson: That’s true, and what an X factor, to be sure.

 

Samantha Coil: INTRODUCING A LEGEND IN THIS SPORT… SHE IS A FORMER SIN CITY CHAMPION… A FORMER RULE OF SURRENDER CHAMPION… ONE OF THE MOST DECORATED COMPETITORS IN ALL OF WRESTLING AND THE CURRENT SHOOT PROJECT WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION… PLEASE WELCOME THE DEFENDING CHAMPION… LAURA SETONNNNNN!!!!!

 

The crowd keeps its energy up and its levels high as Laura Seton smiles once reaching the ring. She climbs up, wipes her feet off on the mat as is customary, and climbs in standing face to face with Breedlove. She walks towards Lindsay Troy and taps on the title belt. Finally, she walks to the center of the ring and holds the title up in the air before handing it over to Samantha Coil, who climbs out of the ring and onto the floor. 

 

 

 

POST MATCH

WATCH YOUR STEP

The roar of the crowd finally begins to die down, but only slightly, as SHOOT Project’s newest champion Lindsay Troy makes a final lap around the ring, holding the World Heavyweight title proudly up in the air.

As she holds the belt close to her chest, prepared to step through the middle ropes and make her way up the rampway, the lights in the arena all turn a dark yellow, almost gold hue — causing Lindsay to stop in her tracks.

 

Then, over the speakers, a distorted, pastiche version of The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” hits.

Yeah…

 

I’ve been tryna caaaaaaaaaall.

I’ve been on my own for long…. ENOUGH

Maybe you can show me how to love, maybe…
I’m going through withdraaaaaaaaaaawals

You don’t even have to do too much….

I look around and Sin City‘s cold and empty
No one’s around to judge me.
I can’t see clearly when you’re goooooooooooooooooooone

 

As the modified note lingers, a tense-looking Lindsay Troy narrows her gaze towards the rampway just as the lights go out in the Epicenter arena entirely.

Then…

 

 

 

 


“HEX” by Dance with the Dead blasts over the speakers and several individuals emerge on the rampway:

Lars Von Bremen
The Kingslayer
Ayumi Seppuku.

As soon as Ayumi steps out from the back, Lindsay’s expression contorts into a mixture of anger and rage, but while Lindsay may have the title in her hand, Ayumi holds a microphone in hers.

Ayumi Seppuku: Oh… oh Lindsay. What a mess this is…

The arena is absolutely livid at the appearance of HEXXX, trying to drown out Ayumi with the chorus of tens of thousands of boos, but somehow her voice cuts like a knife through the din.

Ayumi Seppuku: You just had to go and win the title, didn’t you? You just HAD to rub salt in the FUCKING wound…

Lindsay grips her title – and the ring ropes – tightly, her expression focused entirely on her former tag partner, who is now holding court at the conclusion of Master of the Mat. Ayumi, for her part, just looks… saddened; almost reticent.

Ayumi Seppuku: ALL of this… it could have been avoided. But you thought your own legacy was more important than what we tried to build together. You fucking LEFT and set out on your own because it was easier to cut and run than face your own fucking mistakes!


The crowd boos Ayumi incessantly as Lindsay jaws something back at Ayumi.

Ayumi Seppuku: So congratulations, LINDZ. You’ve found yourself at the top of the ladder. But as someone who can speak from experience… you better fucking watch your step — otherwise it might be your last.

Just as Ayumi finishes her remarks, like a bolt of electricity, NC-17, the new number-one contender for Lindsay Troy’s title, emerges from the seams of the arena and storms the ring! He slides in under the bottom rope just behind Lindsay, who can’t react in time, her attention split between her former Lux Aeterna teammate and NC-17; as she turns, the number one contender grabs Lindsay and lands a NOT YET RATED off the edge of the ring, dropping the new Heavyweight Champion to the floor outside!

The fans in the arena are in a frenzy as NC-17 stands alone in the middle of the ring, his focus turned to HEXXX as he raises his arms, crossing them together in a gesture of solidarity.

Ayumi, Kingslayer, and Lars raise their arms in unison, crossing them to create a triple “X” formation at the top of the ring as the Cream of the Obscene raises his head to the rafters and belts out a scream of defiance matched only by the boos from the SHOOT Project faithful.