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Redemption 2023

Maria Madden: WELCOME EVERYONE TO REDEMPTION!

Mark Kendrick: Woah! Love that enthusiasm, Maria. And I can’t blame you, we have EVERY championships up for grabs tonight. There is no doubt that, by the end of tonight, we are going to have new champions across both REIGN and SHOOT Project.

Maria Madden: And first up we have a match that, honestly, I’m a bit terrified to call. To have CICADA, WOLF MAN, and Ultimo Muerte in the same ring together? This close to Halloween? I think we’re just asking for trou- AGH!

Suddenly, two bolts of electricity shoot from the top of the jumbotron down onto the stage as a heavy metal guitar riff plays.

When there’s lightning! It always brings me down…

“Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio hits the speakers as the fans erupt and a sharp-looking Daihm Ferguson steps forward from the back and makes his way to the rampway. Clad in a full tuxedo, red hair slicked back, the young fighter approaches the ring.

Mark Kendrick: You okay there, Maria? 


Maria Madden: Yes. I uh… well, that just startled me a bit. Spare no expense for one of SHOOT’s biggest programs, right? But… Daihm Ferguson isn’t due out here for another couple of matches. What’s up?

Mark Kendrick: I think he’s about to tell us, Maria.

Daihm Ferguson looks up at the sold out crowd, cheering for him, and takes a deep breath.

Daihm Ferguson: You lot have been incredibly important to me over these past two years. I mean… coming from Scotland to the States as a young kid I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was more focused on findin’ me’ dad than anything and didn’t really care much what folks thought of me. At least… that’s what I thought.

Daihm smiles.

Daihm Ferguson: Even when I was at my lowest, unable to truly feel like I had friends in this company, YOU were always there. Thank you.

The crowd roars.

Daihm Ferguson: Tonight? I’m hoping you’ll be there for me again. Because I have a special Dragon’s Lair invitation tonight to a very special person to me.

The crowd hoots and hollers as Daihm look down, stepping side to side nervously. Suddenly, competing chants begin to rise up from the stands:

WE WANT CHICK! WE WANT CHICK!

MAX-I-MO! MAX-I-MO! MAX-I-MO

Maria Madden: I feel like I’m on an episode of The Batchelor!

Mark Kendrick: Is that a… good thing?

Daihm raises his head and takes in a breath.

Daihm Ferguson: Chick Grillbreast…

The crowd loses it and it looks like Daihm may be about to lose it too.

Daihm Ferguson: I don’t know if you will ever be able to feel the way about me that I do about you… and, I’m sorry that, in my frustration over that, I embarrassed you. But… I am also not going to apologize for my relationship with Maximo.

The Maximo stans in the audience go wild.

Daihm Ferguson: But before Maximo and I’s match, I wanted to just tell you – and everyone here tonight that YOU, Chick, are and will always be my partner.

The crowd roars in approval, but Daihm raises an arm to his eyes to wipe away tears.

Daihm Ferguson: I know we haven’t talked since, well… since Revolution… and I’ve done a shite job of trying to explain myself. So… I honestly don’t know what your answer will be, but I hope that you will be willing to come out here tonight, meet me in the ring, and let us start so we can make DAIHMBREAST…. The DAIHMBEST

Maria Madden: Awwwww! That’s so sweet!

Mark Kendrick: So cringe.

DAIHM-BEST! DAIHM-BEST! DAIHM-BEST

The crowd chants rabidly, and the briefest of smiles flashes over Daihm’s face… at first. But then thirty seconds pass, and then a minute, and the crowd’s reaction turns from cheers to mumbles as Chick does not emerge.

Maria Madden: Oh…. oh no…

The fans watch in a hushed silence as a pained Daihm Ferguson lowers his head and nods. 

 

The Dragon slowly exits the ring, setting his microphone down on the mat, before slowly walking up the rampway, head lowered, before vanishing behind the curtain and into the back.

IN THE RING

CLAP FOR THE WOLF MAN

Maria Madden: Well, we hope the best for Daihm and Chick, but the SHOW MUST GO-

The arena lights immediately cut out.

Maria Madden: GOOOO FUCK YOURSELF!

The crowd is already jazzed, as a “SPOOKY SHIT” chant gets underway.

After several seconds, the Jumbotron comes to life and we see a smiling Dr. Străjer leaning eerily into the camera, which has an almost fisheye lens effect happening. The angle and lighting of the video makes his already disproportionate body look like a mix between Jack Skelington and the Other Bobinsky from Coraline…

Dr. Străjer: Oh my dear SHOOT Project, how are you all doing this evening?

The fans cheer in approval.

Dr. Străjer: Wonderful. Wonderful. Because I have a favor to ask of you tonight.

Maria Madden: I wouldn’t trust any favor from Străjer.

Mark Kendrick: Hey! That rhymed!

Dr. Străjer: One month ago my champion. YOUR champion, WOLF MAN, made clear what he was capable of against the verminous CICADA once the proverbial gloves came off, yes? And just a few weeks ago you… showed your approval by encouraging our beast to maim Mr. Ortega, yes?

Mark Kendrick: Oh they encouraged him alright; he was about to kill Străjer, too, before he drugged him. How he can still deal with that beast is beyond me.

The crowd roars in affirmation as Străjer raises his staff, which begins to emit a deep, ominous orange color. As the light from the staff glows, the house lights turn a deep orange as well.

Suddenly, from behind Străjer, we see the imposing figure of WOLF MAN appear, his teeth bared, and eyes seemingly glowing.

Dr. Străjer: Well, tonight, my friends. I have just one request for you…

Maria Madden: Is it for us to all go home so we aren’t in the same room with a human wolf, voodoo doll, and bug creature? Please?

 

Dr. Străjer: I want you to CLAP for the WOLF MAN.

Mark Kendrick: He wants… what?

Străjer reveals a truly horrific looking smile.

Dr. Străjer: When the time comes; just when you THINK that your blood lust is satiated… just when it looks like there is no way there could possibly be more carnage UNLEASHED in that ring. When you need your TRUE CHAMPION to give you WHAT IT IS YOU CAME HERE FOR!

Străjer moves his hands out in front of him, his glowing staff somehow floating next to him on its own, pulsing orange light like a heartbeat.

Dr. Străjer: Clap. For. The. WOLF MAN.

Străjer claps twice in quick succession.

The screen goes black.

 

The lights go out.

 

And then… 

BACKSTAGE

ROBOT!

The sight in the back is as eerie as it is captivating.  The appearance is of whom we know as Madison Seton, but with the upcoming holiday–she is not herself, in more ways than one.  A wig, parted in the middle, of almost dirty blonde hair, a white dress with a long-sleeved black and white striped shirt underneath, blue tie, white knee-high socks and black shoes.  A nearly dead ringer for the character M3GAN.  She looks cautiously in the back, as if saving herself for one person.  Within seconds, she seems to find her target.  She blinks a couple times before goes gaze goes blank.  With a robotic appearance of her step, she walks towards her sighting.

 

His back is turned and Madison does her best to stifle a sudden laugh.  Once ready, she taps on the shoulder and speaks with a straight, metallic tone to her voice.

 

Madison Seton: Hello, Chick.

 

Chick Grillbreast: HELLO MONOTONE…

 

He turns around.

 

Chick Grillbreast: AAHHHHH ROBOT! GET AWAY! GET AWAY FROM ME! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

 

As if in wonderment, Madison simply tilts her head to the left.  Then to the right.  Then returning to it’s set position.

 

Madison Seton: I sense you feel scared, Mr. Grillbreast.  There is nothing to be afraid of.

 

Chick Grillbreast: ROBOT! ROBOT! ROBOT!

 

He turns around and runs into his locker, falling down. However, since his brain is presumably not that large, it doesn’t do much damage. He gets up, dusting himself off, and he faces Madison again, shocked as he was when he first laid eyes on her.

 

Chick Grillbreast: AAHHHHH ROBOT… oh wait, we did this already. Anyway, WHAT DO YOU WANT WITH ME, FOUL CYBORG??!?!?!?! DO YOU WANT TO STEAL MY GAINZ?!?!?!?!

 

Madison Seton: Your gainz are too sick for me.  I was hoping we could become friends.  Would you like to be friends, Chick?

 

She tilts her head again to the right.

 

Chick Grillbreast: AHHHH! DON’T DO THAT!

 

Madison Seton: Do what?

 

Chick Grillbreast: THAT! THE TILTY THING! Seriously, it’s super creepy. Even if this was a good faith attempt at winning my friendship, that would be a dealbreaker. Seriously, don’t.

 

Madison looks shocked at Chick’s moment of lucidity.

 

Chick Grillbreast: I mean STOP THE SCARY CREEP STUFF.

 

Madison does her best to stay in character, but her eye roll is still noticeable.  She untilts her head.

 

Madison Seton: You are very complicated, Chick.  Maybe if you did more cardio, you could lose some of that stress.  I can search for popular cardio exercises for you.

 

Chick Grillbreast: Robot? Cardio? Alright, that’s it, I’m going to find Dan Dragon.

 

Chick turns around and runs through a wall, leaving a perfect cutout shape of his body in the wall, like out of a Looney Tunes cartoon.  Madison loses the blank expression and scoffs, the scoff turning to a laugh in the direction Chick went.

Promotional Video

CRASHING THE PARTY

The screen flashes to an unusual, but familiar scene. We’re once again up on the catwalk as firm, purposeful steps can be heard on the metal flooring below. The sound is muffled, however, by the roar of the crowd below.

We watch from a stranger’s POV as they crouch down and observe, looking down at Daihm Ferguson standing in the middle of the ring.


Daihm Ferguson: …I hope that you will be willing to come out here tonight, meet me in the ring, and let us start so we can make DAIHMBREAST…. The DAIHMBEST!

There is a roar from the crowd, but it is overpowered by an angry, hissing sound that comes from behind the camera as we zoom in on Daihm’s face, sporting a beaming, hopeful smile.

A heavy, angry breathing can be heard from the other side of the camera, growing seemingly more rabid with each breath, before  a sharp clattering of metal on metal as the camera flips upward and lands on a nameless security guard on the other end of the catwalk.

Guard: Hey! HEY! You can’t be up here!

Another sound, a deep, guttural, laugh, emerges. The sound is almost unnatural, like the sound of an air vent rapidly expanding and contracting… and you see a brief hesitation of the guard, holding up his hands in defense, before the image warps and cuts. 

 

A wooshing camera swings wildly, jostling up and down and back and forth, creating Indistinguishable images of flesh and viscera interspersed with static and grunting until the feed cuts entirely and we are left with just bars and tone.

 


BACKSTAGE

LETTING 'EM KNOW IS HALF THE BATTLE

Cut.

 

Here’s Abigail Chase, microphone in hand and ready to interview. Specifically, she’s ready to interview the Coltons, who are standing by–still in their street clothes, but we see their signature ring jackets, Benny in red and Denny in green, as well as the SHOOT Project Tag Team Titles, still in their resplendent gold.

 

There’s also a handsome blonde fella behind them. He’s a bit taller than Benny, not as big as Denny, and currently has a large gym bag thrown over each shoulder. He doesn’t have a fancy jacket, but he does have a PRIME polo shirt…and if you watch their shows, you probably know who this is.

 

Abigail Chase: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the SHOOT Project Tag Team Champoins, Benjamin and Dennis Colton…and their…friend?

 

Benjamin Colton: And our family! This is my brother, Nate. He’s graciously agreed to be our backstage guest tonight.

 

Nate Colton: You make guests carry your stuff?

 

Benjamin Colton: No free rides, big bro.

 

Nate rolls his eyes–family, amirite?–while the lads snicker. Abigail, who is no stranger to these shenanigans, presses forward.

 

Abigail Chase: Gentlemen, you’ve had your issues with the Midnight Cowboys MC in recent months, culminating with an unscheduled match against four of their members–after which, you were attacked by their leaders. What are your thoughts heading into this match?

 

Benjamin Colton: Our thoughts? Our thoughts is that we owe those guys an ass-kicking, and we always pay our debts. Sho Yoshida! Tafugai!

 

Dennis Colton: Hey, you got it right this time.

 

Benjamin Colton: You and your Cowboys have been riding high lately, thinking you got the upper hand tonight. Yeah, you may have the numbers, and yeah, you may have got here in style while we caught a ride from the Nate-and-no-girls-mobile.

 

Nate Colton: Hey!

 

Benjamin Colton: But we also came in with the gold, babies, and you best believe we’re leaving with it. Two weeks ago we tore through your boys like toilet paper, and now you two asswipes are gonna get the same. Tonight’s the night we show you jokers why we’ve been the A-One since Day One. Big man!

 

Benny slaps his cousin on the chest, as he is wont to do.

 

Dennis Colton: Should I let ‘em know?

 

Benjamin Colton: Let ‘em–dude! You’re stepping on my line!

 

Dennis Colton: Sorry. I’m just really excited to let ‘em know.

 

Benjamin Colton: Well maybe you don’t get to let ‘em know now. You’ve ruined the moment.

 

Benny turns away and crosses his arms, obviously upset at how his cousin jumped the gun. He can barely keep from laughing, he’s so upset. Meanwhile, Nate rolls his eyes.

 

Dennis Colton: C’mon, Benny. Let me let ‘em know.

 

Benjamin Colton: Shan’t. Maybe I’ll ask Nate to let ‘em know; he’s our guest tonight.

 

Behind the champions, Abigail leans over to Nate and whispers.

 

Abigail Chase: Are they always like this?

 

Nate Colton: No…they’re usually worse.

 

Benjamin Colton: What say, bro? You wanna let ‘em know?

 

Dennis Colton: What? No! Letting ‘em know is my thing! Cousin, help me out here.

 

Nate lets out a heavy sigh as he finds himself once again thrust into the role of “the adult in the room.”

 

Nate Colton: Benny, let him let ‘em know. Denny didn’t mean anything by it; he just got ahead of himself.

 

Benjamin turns back around and sees the remorseful look on his cousin’s face. See that? That’s some serious-ass remorse right there.

 

Benjamin Colton: Well…okay. Big man!

 

He slaps his cousin on the chest again.

 

Benjamin Colton: Let ‘em know!

 

And just like that, it’s all back on the rails. As much as it ever gets, anyway.

 

Dennis Colton: Cowboys, this all started when I invited you to come on out in front of the world and say our names, Well, you’re about to ind out what that name means. It means excellence. It means determination. Hell, our name might as well mean wrestling itself.

 

Nate offers a pat on the shoulder; Dennis nods and smiles a little bit.

 

Dennis Colton: But most of all it means when the pressure’s on, when the chips are down, when the gold is on the line, we’re gonna be at our absolute best. And when we kick into high gear…doesn’t matter how fast your bikes are; there’s no way you’re keeping up. And still?

 

Benjamin Colton: And. Still.

 

Dennis Colton: No doubt.

 

Benjamin Colton: LET’S DOOOO THHHIIIIIIIIIIIIISSS!

 

Benny jumps up and down as he leaves the shot, that pre-match energy already pumping through him. Denny follows, a little more reserved but no less excited. Finally Nate, who gives a polite nod to Abigail as he walks away, still carrying the lads’ bags.

 

Abigail Chase: The Coltons are just as confident as ever. Time will tell if that holds true after the match, though. Back to you guys!

 

Cut.

Our feed cuts back to the ring where an impatient Maximo Fiscio is standing, arms crossed. He looks incredulously at the referee who shakes his head and raises his shoulders in a shrug.

Eryk Masters: Hello folks; if you are just joining us you can clearly see that our planned match together between Maximo Fisico and Daihm “The Dragon” Ferguson is off to a bit of a bump start as we have been waiting for several minutes for Daihm to arrive.

Other Guy: This is pretty disrespectful to Maximo, Eryk. I mean, I know these two are on the outs, but this is giving big My Best Friend’s Wedding vibes.

Eryk Masters: Look, I don’t disagree, but Daihm has been one of the more consistent and dependable wrestlers we have. I don’t think he’d just… blow this match off.

Other Guy: Love can make us do crazy things, Eryk.

Maximo points to his wrist and the referee nods and signals for the Dennis Heflin, who goes ahead and rings the bell!

The crowd begins to boo as the referee holds up his hand and begins to count.

ONE!

TWO!

 

Maximo leans back against the ropes and shakes his head in disgust.

THREE!

Other Guy: What in the world is Daihm DOING? Has he just… ghosted us all after Chick refused to come out – to the ring that is – earlier this evening?

Eryk Masters: …

FOUR!

FIVE!

SIX!

The crowd’s chorus of boos only grows louder as Maximo leans even further back against the ropes and looks up toward the ceiling. As he does, his gaze clearly catches something as he pushes himself up immediately and begins to look around.

SEVEN!

EIGHT!

Eryk Masters: I just don’t believe this…

Other Guy: What’s up with Maximo? He seems… disturbed by something.

Eryk Masters: This is a pretty disturbing turn of events, OG…

NINE!

TEN!

Heflin rings the bell and the crowd goes nuclear and Maximo Fisico is declared the winner by count out. Maximo quickly rolls himself backwards out of the ring and doesn’t waste any time hitting the rampway – his eyes, every now and then, looking up towards the arena ceiling.


RING ENTRANCE

BLACKHAWK GYM

With little warning, the lights in the building cut to perfect, pitch blackness.  After what seems like too long a wait, the punishing bass of “Say my Grace” kicks off, and the ramp is bathed in bright spotlights hitting in sequence from the ring backwards. 

The final one illuminates the top of the ramp–and all three members of Blackhawk Fight Gym! 

Dressed in gear of matching gold with red and black detailing, all three are smiling.  Confident.  They all start warming up–Burkhalter rolls his shoulders, shaking his legs out.  Izzy twists her hands, popping her wrists.  Nate hops from one foot to another, slapping his overpass chest. 

Make room on my plate

I just said my grace and then I ate

Gotta particular taste

I just stuffed my pockets in my face

Okay, let’s have a debate, we talkin’ ’bout poppin’, I promise I’m feelin’ a way (Who?)

I took the bodies up outta my closet, I buried ’em deep and they still in the way

As the group begin to make their way down the ring, a swagger in their step, the announcement comes…

Samantha Coil: Representing the Blackhawk Fight Gym of Spring Valley, Las Vegas, Nevada…at a combined weight of five-hundred and sixty-one pounds…Izzy Sia, Joey ‘Golden’ Burkhalter, and Nate Robideau–TEAM BLACKHAWK!!

The announcement is met with a fair amount of boos, but there’s an undercurrent of excited cheers–likely due to the young stars of the future that Nate has with him.  Sia stops her walking to begin talking shit to a fan who has yelled at her, extending a middle finger!  Nate and Burkhalter interpose, diverting her back toward the ring. 

Eryk Masters: Izzy Sia getting a bit too animated, and it looks like Nate is smartly reminding her to save that energy for the ring!

Other Guy: I’ve watched Nate put legends in the hospital, and Sia is still the scariest out of all of them!

 

He got fire, I got fye, lighter fluid (Fire)

Got away from the haters, say, “Hallelujah”

Shit be crazy, the shit be the closest to you (Crazy)

It’s okay, ’cause they know that I come to do it (Hey)

Finally, the trio make it to the ring, and they waste no time in taking up as much space as possible, stomping the perimeter and yelling.  They each take a different corner, climbing to the middle turnbuckle and raising their arms–even if Izzy is flipping off a section of the crowd while she does it.  


I filled up the crib with cars, the halls with all and all, I’m still havin’ space

Gotta particular taste, picky eater I guess, but I’m still stuffin’ my face (Yeah)

She gotta natural wrap like a natural do, like the blunt, she don’t like the shit laced

I was outside of the buildin’, I’m ownin’ the spot, want a b, then you gotta have faith

 


Nate hops down and gathers his students.  They bow their heads, draping their arms across one another’s shoulders, a tender moment amidst the punishing bass and crowd noise.  What is said is a mystery–be it prayer, pep talk, thanks, or order.  But they clutch one another tightly before they break, with every member yelling a loud “Kiotsuke!” in unison before taking their place in their designated corner.  

POST MATCH

The bell rings, and as if coordinated, all three members of Blackhawk Fight Gym divert to their chosen ( or assigned ) targets: Izzy immediately grasps Jack in a Thai clinch, bringing up chin-height knees, while Burkhalter blindside kicks Jamie in the temple with a heel kick!  Nate rushes Breedlove, clearly intent on doing the worst he can–but Breedlove isn’t going down, deftly avoiding his first combination and keeping his distance!!

 


Eryk Masters: No shock in the attack, but Josh Breedlove is keeping away from the strikes and…OG, he isn’t retaliating! 

Other Guy: Gotta question the intelligence of that–you give a guy like Nate an opening and he’ll shelf you!!

Both men are now circling one another–Burkhalter has Jamie in a sprawl mount, keeping him from getting to his feet, while Izzy and Jack jockey for position.  Nate shoots for a leg, gets it, but Breedlove slips it and backs away.  Shaking his head, he points to the mat, and yells loud enough to be heard over the crowd. 

“This isn’t necessary, okay?!  You won!”

Robideau shakes his head, then cracks his neck. 

“Nate, look at me!  I’m not going to fight you, you get that?!”

This gives Burkhalter pause, at least.  He stops trying to outright stifle Jamie’s movement, looking to the scene playing out.  Nate is cracking his knuckles, the ill-intent evident on his face.  Izzy has roped Jack into a leglock that is keeping him from intervening, and outright laughs and torques harder after Paria drives the heel of his free leg into her nose!  Joshua Breedlove himself surveys the scene and, after making eye contact with Joey for a brief second, looks to Nate again. 

He holds his arms outward. 

He closes his eyes. 

He’s completely defenseless. 

And he does nothing to stop it when Nate rushes him and SNAPS HIS HEAD BACKWARDS WITH A COMPLETELY UNPROTECTED UPPERCUT!!  The crowd ERUPTS in horror as Breedlove’s eyes snap open, his head rolling towards his left as he falls backwards, spine stiff, hands out in front, nerves clearly short circuited!!  Nate grins at his handiwork, adding insult by spitting on Breedlove, who is currently blinking and rolling confusedly! 

Other Guy: Holy fuck!!

Eryk Masters: Uncalled for, unnecessary, dangerous–you violent, gutless bastard!  Josh Breedlove just took one of the hardest shots I’ve ever seen another person take, and to say he was rocked is an understatement!!

Nate considers doing something more, then thinks differently of it, Joshua Breedlove clearly in no condition to fight.  Walking over to Burkhalter and Jamie, he waves his student off, who stands up, staring at him with a questioning look.  He then looks to Jamie Johnson, and jerks his head toward the leader of the Empire.  The message is clear as day: “go get your man.”  Jamie considers his position as he gets to his feet, and knowing he’s outnumbered, makes a beeline for Breedlove while staring absolute death at Nate.  Izzy joins them, allowing Jack to join his brother. 

Both members of The Empire are at the side of their leader.

They stare at the gathered members of Blackhawk Fight Gym. 

With a sneer, Nate raises his arm.  Izzy Sia joins him.  After a pregnant pause…Burkhalter does the same.

BACKSTAGE

THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING DAN DRAGON

 

We cut backstage to find a swarm of security trying to keep a visibly distraught Chick Grillbreast away from an angry, but bemused Lucah Fitness.

Kid Lucha: Yo yo yo pollo hermano, what’s got your goat now? Did you finally realize SHOOT has been filling the break room with Impossible burgers?

Chick pauses his ramage slightly to consider Lucha’s words and grows even more angry, pulling several security guards with him as he gets within inches of Lucha’s face.

Chick Grillbreast: WHAT DID YOU DO TO DAN DRAGON!?

Kid Lucha looks genuinely confused as he turns to Maximo Fisico, who shrugs.

Maximo Fisico: Look, esse, I don’t know what kind of Talented Mr. Ripley cosplay bullshit you’ve got going on between the two of you, but your boy made me look like a fool out there tonight not showing up. I have a mind to give you the beating I was planning to give him.

Chick Grillbreast: I know what kind of beating the two of you did together and I don’t want any part of it! Just give me Dan Dragon back!

Maximo’s eyes grow wide and scoffs, before lowering his voice and poking Chick Grillbreast in the chest forcefully.

Maximo Fisico: Go piss up a rope, Chico; I’m done playing third wheel in this kinky roleplay shit you two have going on. We don’t know where Daihm is and, frankly, we don’t care. Find another team to swing with, comprende?

Chick pulls back, his face contorting from anger to concern.

Chick Grillbreast: You… don’t know where he is?

Kid Lucha steps forward and throws up his hands in frustration.

Kid Lucha: DING DING DING! It only took 20 times for it to sink into your thick skull. Now, kindly fuck off and leave us alone. We have a tag division to attend to.

The pair step back, still guarded by security, as Chick lowers his head in concern and solemnly turns away to head back to his locker room.

IN THE RING

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL AND HE SHALL APPEAR

 

THE WORLD IS A VAMPIRE

 

The iconic five words to the opening of “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” by Smashing Pumpkins hits the. Soon after, a giant “X” appears on the SHOOTron. Moments throughout X-Calibur’s SHOOT Project history comes in flashes.


SENT TO DRAAAAAAAIN
SECRET DESTROYERS

 

A much younger X-Calibur hits the X-Terminator on Ben Jackman to win his first SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship and the 2005 Resurrection Tournament. A more recent X-Calibur shows X suplexing Azraith DeMitri during their Revolution 200 classic.

 

Another younger version of X-Calibur is being handed his third Iron Fist Championship, circa 2006. X-Calibur holds up his second SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Title after defeating Cade Sydal and Jonas Coleman at Master of the Mat 2011.    

 

HOLD YOU UP TO THE FLAMES
AND WHAT DO I GET
FOR MY PAAAAAAAIN?

 

Suddenly, X-Calibur is collecting arms through various flashes from the past several weeks.

 

BETRAYED DESIRES
AND A PIECE OF THE GAME
EVEN THOUGH… I… KNOW…

…I SUPPOSE…I’LL… SHOW
ALL MY COOL AND COLD…
….LIKE OLD JOOOOOOOOOOOB

 

An incredible amount of pyro explodes throughout the Epicenter, surrounding the entrance area and their outlines of smoke dissipating like ghostly apparitions thereafter.

 

DESPITE ALL MY RAGE I AM STILL JUST A RAT IN A CAGE
THEN SOMEONE WILL SAY WHAT IS LOST CAN NEVER BE SAVED
DESPITE ALL MY RAGE I AM STILL JUST A RAT IN A CAGE

 

X emerges from the curtains as the fans play sing-a-long to Billy Corgan’s classic lyrics. Black fight shorts with a golden “X” going up the center. Black and gold MMA gloves. Rather than acknowledging the crowd, X is focused on the ring ahead.

 

Eryk Masters: Yeeaah, I’d say X means bidness tonight!

 

Other Guy: Other than the Redemption Rumble later on tonight, I don’t believe X has been booked to compete tonight. So what’s with the gear?

 

Eryk Masters: Maybe he’s doing another open challenge like the one we saw at ETERNAL?

 

Other Guy: Well, if it IS an open challenge, I hope to GOD Chad Kyle is not here tonight. I don’t know if he has the wits about him to NOT accept!

 

Rolling under the bottom rope, X hops to his feet and jogs in place for a moment. 

 

X-Calibur: Listen. Sorry, ladies and gents. No open challenge tonight. (audible boos) I know, I know. Trust me. I thought of issuing one as a sort of warm-up for later, but I have some petty mystery-guy drama to deal with first. Just wanted to get that out of the way so none of y’all are disappointed when I don’t kick someone’s ass in a three-minute, one-sided beat down.

 

The SHOOT Project faithful chant for X, despite not getting an impromptu match like at the last Pay-Per-View. His candor, as it turns out, is very much appreciated.

 

X-Calibur: Before I come out here later and once again throw enough bodies out of the ring to earn myself a shot at THE SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion at Reckoning Day— be it Azraith or Laura— there’s a couple of things I need to get off my goddamn chest.

 

Pacing like a caged animal, ready to lunge at the first piece of meat thrown to him, X continues.

 

X-Calibur: First and foremost— YOU. 

 

He points to the SHOOTron.

 

X-Calibur: Lemme say it again for the row in the back: YOU. You come in here, interrupt my shot, create tension between me and the rest of the roster, then… poof. Gone. Nothing. Not a word to follow up on your actions. Is this one of those moments where I didn’t get the memo and, whoever the tick you are, you were fired before you could even reveal your identity? 

 

He thinks about it. A beat later, X continues.

 

X-Calibur: Naaaahhhh. See, knowing Real Deal like I do, he would’ve thrown you my way to feast on before wishing you to Go Fuck Yourself On Your Future Endeavors. And since that didn’t happen? I’m going to assume that only one thing DID happen. You decided to wait, like a fuckin’ snake, and strike when we all least expect it. Well, given this is motherfucking REDEMPTION?! One of the biggest shows on the SHOOT calendar? What are you waiting for?! Stuck on some spine-tingling masterpiece you didn’t get to deliver in time and are wondering whether to even show up at all since Halloween is over?!

 

The Epicenter laughs along with this. But X isn’t playing. Not in the slightest.  

 

X-Calibur: I’m fuckin’ serious, you spineless little cunt! I’m not going ANYWHERE until you get your fuckin’ ass out here, look me in the eyes, and tell me what the fuck it is that you want from me. I’m not gonna let some Riddler-Joker wanna-be hybrid jerk-off ruin MY night and cost me the Redemption Rumble. So here’s your chance, pal. It’s your move, and it’s now…or NEVER.  

 

You can feel the anger pulsate from his very soul. Until…

 

Clang!

 

Clang!

 

Clang!

 

The sound of steel-on-steel echoes throughout the Epicenter as every screen in the arena jumps to life once again. Cut to a shot of a massive hand sliding into a fingerless glove.. 

 

Clang!

 

Clang!

 

Clang!

 

The echoing sound continues as more footage plays, we cut to a shot of an arm sliding through a black jacket. Cut to massive black boots being laced up and tightened.

 

Clang!

 

Clang!

 

Clang!

 

Back to the close-up shot of a head as gloved hands cover a short mane of bleach blonde hair. 

 

Clang!

 

Piercing green eyes.

Clang!

 

A sweep of black fabric.

Clang! 

 

The lights cut out, a roar emanating through the crowd as a guitar twang hits the speakers and Darren Korb’s “Spike in a Rail” hits. A spotlight swings and catches a tall figure in a black cloak standing at the top of the rampway. Timothy Roy.

Eryk Masters: I… what the hell is Roy doing out here? I know he and X have had their spat over this past month, but you don’t think… 

 

Other Guy: I mean, he CALLED OUT the guy who’s been making these threats. You think it COULDN’T be Tim? He did align himself with Blaze Claymore, remember? He was friends with “X-Chadlibur” after all. Maybe this was the long game!

 

Timothy Roy already has a microphone in hand as he walks up to the very edge of the rampway, but doesn’t proceed. He simply locks eyes with a furious X-Calibur.

Timothy Roy: Calm down, Eryk. Don’t get the wrong idea here… I’m not your secret admirer. Quite frankly, there’s less and less I admire about you as the days go on.

The fans begin to oo and ah as the very utterance of “Eryk” by Tim causes X-Calibur to begin to pace the ring in frustration.

Timothy Roy: Oh, you can get all hot and bothered all you like, X, but let me RECAP the situation here for you, OK? Two months ago you show up like a ghost and then some cryptic, shadowy figure issues you a vague challenge and drop my Uncle’s name out of nowhere. Then immediately after you come to ME asking if I know anything? If I’ve seen anything? Okay. Fine. I bite. But just like you said – POOF – nothing heard from them again. Meanwhile I can’t seem to escape YOU. Every week you keep showing up… before my match with Azraith. AFTER my match with Azraith. Always trying to get in my ear for some fucking reason… and then you get booked against Azraith for some fucking reason I can’t begin to understand and then make it seem like YOUR loss to Azraith is somehow more important? More meaningful? More worthy than my loss? You know more than you’re letting on and it’s FUCKING pissing me off, OKAY?

X-Calibur looks rightly confounded at what Tim is saying, throwing his arms up in the air in disbelief. Meanwhile, Tim just lets out a dry laugh of disbelief.


Timothy Roy: Of course. Of COURSE. Keep playing the victim here, dude. We know your history. We know what it means to be “X-Calibur” in SHOOT Project… Right? Hmm?

Tim shakes his head.


Timothy Roy: You know what the difference is between you and me Eryk? I took a loss to Azraith and shook his hand immediately. You take a loss to Azraith and use it as a platform to get more followers on Spitter and virtue signal how “grateful” you are to have the opportunity. Well, you know what? I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart, that despite your loss, you know what I KNOW? That your SON would be truly proud of what YOU’VE accomplished!

 

X-Calibur’s eyes go wide and his face contorts in some mix of shock and frustration and sadness as the crowd erupts at the gauntlet Timothy Roy has just thrown.

Other Guy: Oh fuck me. Why did he have to go and say THAT!?

Eryk Masters: Timothy Roy must have a death wish OG, that’s as best as I can figure.

Timothy Roy: Yeah! Doesn’t feel so good when someone else says it, does-

Tim’s rant stops mid-sentence as he staggers forward, dropping the microphone with a loud clang before collapsing forward, eyes rolling in the back of his head. As Roy drops forward, sliding down the first few feet of the Epicenter rampway, a figure is revealed standing behind him, grinning and twirling a large yellow smiley-faced mallet back at the camera with the faintest spray of blood oozing downward.

 

Eryk Masters: WHAT THE FUCK?!

 

Other Guy: SPEAK OF THE DEVIL AND HE SHALL APPEAR!!

 

Arthur Pleasant stands there, looking all over the Epicenter, but more specifically at his own father, X-Calibur, from across the way.

 

“BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

 

Eryk Masters: No fucking WAY is this happening!

 

Other Guy: You mean to tell me X-Calibur’s own SON has been the one behind all of this?!

 

“FUCK YOU, AR-THUR!”
CLAP, CLAP, CLAP-CLAP-CLAP

“FUCK YOU, AR-THUR!”
CLAP, CLAP, CLAP-CLAP-CLAP

 

X-Calibur’s face goes as white as a ghost as Arthur stands there with the mallet. Suddenly, he sits criss-cross, pulling a microphone from his waistband.

 

Arthur Pleasant: Hi, Dad! ME. Yes, ME. You wanted… to talk?

 

X closes his eyes and can’t believe what is happening.

 

Arthur Pleasant: Hey! Mister! You okay there, Timmy?! I tried to hold back juuuuust a smidge. After all, it would be a shame for me to not allow you to compete in the Redemption Rumble later on tonight. Hopefully I did. Oopsies if I didn’t. I mean, sometimes I don’t know my own strength though so… it is what it is what it fucking is, I guess!

 

Arthur swipes a little spot of blood coming from the back of Tim’s head and uses it as “eyeblack” under each eye.

 

X-Calibur: I should’ve…fuckin’…KNOWN.

 

Pleasant wags a finger, laughing.

 

Arthur Pleasant: Yes! Of COURSE YOU SHOULD HAVE FUCKING KNOWN! Hahahaha… but you didn’t. D’oooohhhh. And here we are. Another casualty in the career of the mighty, the legendary, the disgustingly gold-laden hall of fame career of X-Calibur. How does it feel knowing you…

 

He points the mallet at Roy.

 

Arthur Pleasant: …did this? God you’re such a bully! Glad I didn’t inherit that trait!

 

X goes to speak but nothing comes out. He is legitimately speechless.

 

Arthur Pleasant: But don’t worry, Pops! Unlike you, the night is still young! Assuming Tiny Tim here ever wakes up and you don’t slip away undetected into the jaws of oblivion once again, you and I could have some serious FUN in this Redemption Rumble thinger-ma-bob! Just like you asked all those months ago! Father and Son! Co-Winners of the Redemption Rumble! It’d be unprecedented. See you later tonight, Pops! I love you! So very, very much!

 

X’s head perks up, mired in confusion.   

 

X-Calibur: Wait a second. Hold the fuck up, Arthur. I…we never…

 

The Worst Nightmare of Wrestling laughs, backrolling to his feet. Curtseying his own Dad, Pleasant drops the mic and disappears into the back.

 

SHOOT Medical is already on the scene, tending to Timothy Roy, but the massive SHOOT Soldier is already beginning to come to and pushing away the trainers. As he refuses, he tenderly tapping the back of his own head, feeling around for the blood leaking out of it. 

 

Eryk Masters: I am… stunned. STUNNED at these shocking developments.

 

Other Guy: I never thought in a million years we’d ever see that piece of shit Arthur Pleasant inside SHOOT Project again. 

 

Eryk Masters: And now… if I understand this correctly, he’s in the REDEMPTION RUMBLE?! How the fuck did THAT happen?!

 

X isn’t sure what to make of anything at this point. Hopping through the ropes to the outside, he approaches Roy, who is just getting to his feet and looks angrily at X-Calibur.

 

X-Calibur: You gonna fuckin’ accuse me of colludin with that calamitous son of a bitch?! Do it, Roy. I fuckin’ DARE. YOU.

Tim looks at the blood on his hands from the new wound on the back of his head.

 

Timothy Roy: No need, ERYK, I already know the TRUTH.

 

X snaps, lunging at the much bigger man, both now rolling around trying to take pot shots on the rampway as SHOOT Medical is now wearing two hats, trying to prevent both individuals from killing each other before they even get to the Redemption Rumble. Finally, SHOOT Security arrives, running out to get in between X and Tim.

 

“LET THEM FIGHT!”

“LET THEM FIGHT!”
“LET THEM FIGHT!”
“LET THEM FIGHT!”

 

Eryk Masters: Ladies and gentlemen, this scene has grown more chaotic by the second! I’m getting word that Arthur Pleasant has made a bee-line for a locker room somewhere backstage with guards at the door.

 


Other Guy: I’m also being told that Arthur Pleasant IS going to be in the Redemption Rumble, after all, which… I just have to ask… HOW!?

Security finally manages to pull a fuming X-Calibur and Timothy Roy apart, the fans in attendance basking in the shitshow of all shitshows, before the scene transitions elsewhere.

BACKSTAGE

NC-7TEENY

 

Redemption cuts to backstage, where the camera seems to be moving towards a…locker room? The door appears to be ajar, allowing us to bear witness to some sort of…scene.

 

Premier Champion NC-17 has his tights partially pulled down, and it looks like…his agent, Johnny Vig, is administering some sort of substance with a syringe into his posterior? Before we can get a real good look, there’s a shout from Seventeen, accompanied by Vig slamming the door in our face.

 

A moment later, SHOOT Project interviewer Mary Kelly appears and knocks on the door, prompting Johnny Vig to reopen it and allow everybody entry.

 

Johnny Vig: Sorry about that, Mary, my client was getting dressed. Don’t wanna broadcast NC-Seven-PEEN on PPV, now do we? Fuckin’ thing don’t look right anyways, got more HPV than corn kernels on a cob–

 

NC-17: YAH, THANKS John Boy, but I don’t think the pretty lady came for show and tell.

 

Mary glances back at the camera apprehensively.

 

Mary Kelly: Definitely not. We’re actually here because you asked us to be?

 

The emaciated Johnny Vig straps the Premier championship around Seventeen’s waist, who looks…suspiciously amped. He’s rubbing his face and cracking his neck, flexing his bulging traps and pecs while he hops in place.

 

NC-17: That’s right, Mary Kelly, you satiable little mink you. Your Premier Champion, the KING of CRASS, the little banana from Indiana-

 

Johnny Vig: The CREEEEAAAAM of OBSCEEEENE, N-C-SEVEN-TEEN!

 

NC-17: -has an important PSA to make tonight. Ya see, it’s been a long time in the making, Mary Kelly, but yours truly has finally made it to the top. I’m a CHAMPION, Mary…and yah, while championships mean MONEY and FAME and more ASS than a greyhound bus seat, they also come with a great responsibility.

 

Mary Kelly: The responsibility of holding yourself to a higher standard?

 

Johnny Vig immediately takes offense at the notion, stepping in between his client and Mary Kelly.

 

Johnny Vig: Oho, like what? USADA standards? You tryna imply somethin’, Mary? 

 

Mary looks confused.

 

Mary Kelly: Er…no, I mean, just…in general. Uhhh…you ARE adhering to those too, I’d hope?

 

Johnny Vig: Oh yah, yah. Teen’s cleaner than a fresh pair of pampers, scout’s honor!

 

NC-17: Higher standards, of COURSE Mary. I mean, I don’t think I could be any higher if we’re being honest. But beyond that. I’m talking about the responsibility of passing on this knowledge. Teaching our youngsters. Mary, I’m talking about the future of SHOOT Project.

 

Mary Kelly: Like Black Sheep Baez?

 

Seventeen’s face turns beet red and his nostrils flare at the suggestion. He smacks himself in the forehead, gritting his teeth.

 

NC-17: God Mary, are you fuckin’ high right now? No….NO, that’s not what I mean AT ALL. The only future that guy has is watching a ref raise my hand for a THIRD time later this evening. I’m talkin’ about people with TALENT. I’m talking about people with MOXIE. With a little PIZAZZ.

 

Mary Kelly: Uhh, okayyy…and who, exactly, ARE we talking about?

 

NC-17: Use your fuckin’ eyeballs, Mary, take a look around! Anybody who’s ANYBODY in SHOOT has their own training camp! Fuck, look at Blackhawk Gym! Or the Breedlove Empire! The heavy hitters, they’ve all got a little cadre of fuckin’ STUDENTS and, and, and HENCHMEN…and ya know what? I think it’s high time I put together a little squad of my own.

 

Mary Kelly: Oh, uh…WOW. I mean…what would your, uh, “gym” be called? Who would you teach?

 

NC-17: I’d name it after the place where it all started, Mary Kelly. GOLD’S GYM. And as far as students go…well. I’ve already got one, Mary. And he makes his official SHOOT Project debut…TONIGHT.

 

Mary Kelly: Tonight? Here at Redemption?

 

NC-17: IN the Redemption Rumble, MARY. Guy hasn’t even been born yet and he’s already competing for the TOP PRIZE. That’s money. That’s power. That’s influence.

 

Johnny Vig: And we can get anybody else booked in the Rumble too! For a small fee of course.

 

Mary Kelly: Well, who is it? What’s his name?

 

Seventeen rubs his hands together creepily, snickering.

 

NC-17: Oh God, Mary Kelly, I thought you’d never ask! Vig, will ya do the honors?

 

Johnny Vignochi does a makeshift drumroll with his bony hands on one of the locker doors. Mary Kelly looks skeptical.

 

Johnny Vig: LADIES and GENTLEMEN. BOYS and GIRLS. DOGS and CATS. FEAST your eyes on the latest and greatest addition to Johnny Vig’s Talent and Entertainment Agency! PUT your hands TOGETHER for…N-C-SEVEN…..TEEEEEENYYYY!

 

All of a sudden the locker that Johnny was drumming on SWINGS open, and…a miniature version of NC-17 steps out! He can only be 4’4, maybe 4’5, and a hundred and forty pounds soaking wet, but the little person…well, he’s almost the spitting image of NC-17! He’s got the red mohawk, the pink tights, the white tassels! And he’s wearing a pair of hot pink oakleys! He flexes both of his tiny, T-rex arms at the camera and lets loose a ferocious growl!

 

7teeny: RAWWWWRRR!!!!!

 

Mary Kelly takes a step back and blinks, looking to the camera before looking back at 7teeny. She’s gone from skepticism to…well, there isn’t really a word to describe Mary Kelly’s face right this moment. She just watched a small man in a NC-17 costume come out of a locker after all. The big Seventeen continues to yell at the camera, spittle flying out of his mouth.

 

NC-17: That’s right, Mary Kelly! I’ve hired a miniature version of MYSELF! Isn’t he fuckin’ adorable? TONIGHT, I fold Black Sheep Baez’s ass once and for all and begin to cement myself as the GREATEST Premier Champion SHART Project has ever seen! And my little friend NC-7teeny makes a BIG…tee-hee…splash at Redemption by becoming the NUMBER ONE CONTENDER to the World Heavyweight Championship!

 

Johnny Vig: Ya DON’T wanna miss it! So tune in or tune out! NC-17! NC-7TEENY! Black Sheep Baez! The REDEMPTION RUMBLE! MUST SEE. TEE-VEE. BAY-BEE!

 

With that, NC-17 starts aggressively slapping his own head, causing Mary Kelly to startle a bit. He charges off, practically frothing at the mouth, a cackling Johnny Vig in tow. 7teeny snaps at Mary, growling like a small dog, before the diminutive new SHOOT superstar makes his exit as well.

 

Mary just sort of stares at the camera awkwardly, at a total loss on how to react. 

 

The camera fades.

 

BACKSTAGE

CLEARED TO COMPETE

 

Eryk Masters: Hey so, we’re getting word from the back that Breedlove is in the medical area getting checked over. 

 

Other Guy: It would be absolute fuckery if he got screwed out of the Rumble opportunity because Nate Robideau is a dick.

 

We cut backstage where Breedlove is being looked over by head trainer Trey Willett and also two medical personnel. Maria Madden is nearby, keeping an eye on things. Jamie and Jack Johnson are also present, somewhat out of view, concern across their faces.

 

Maria Madden: Josh, I don’t know if this is a good i–

 

Joshua Breedlove: Maria… I appreciate your concern.

 

Trey Willett: I mean, it’s not unfounded concern man. You got your bell rung pretty good out there after the six man.

 

Breedlove looks down, pondering for a moment. He shakes his head, clearly defiant.

 

Joshua Breedlove: I don’t care. 

 

The surprise is noted in the room. Jamie smirks, Jack smiles, and the rest continue to express their issues, concerns, and arguments. It becomes a lot of gray noise until finally Breedlove speaks up. 

 

Joshua Breedlove: What is your opinion? 

 

He looks over towards one of the doctors, Dr. Cedric, who shrugs his shoulders.

 

Dr. Cedric: Here’s the long and short of it, Mr. Breedlove. You got hit hard. Real hard. But the signs and all the tests show that you’re… at the bare minimum for what I’d allow in terms of competition. 

 

Joshua Breedlove: What about you? 

 

He turns and looks towards the other doctor, Dr. Martinez, and she nods her head.

 

Dr. Martinez: I concur with my colleague, Josh. You’re right on the borderline, but gun to my head, I’d give you clearance.

 

“Unfortunately, the bare minimum isn’t quite enough for me to allow it.” 

 

The room goes silent as the Real Deal walks in, interrupting the proceedings. It’s almost like a family reunion here with Real Deal and his two sons, Real Deal and Trey.

 

Real Deal: Appreciate your work, doctors, but give us the room please.

 

Doctors Cedric and Martinez quickly gather up their paperwork and belongings and make a quick exit, leaving only Maria Madden, Jamie Johnson, Jack Johnson, Trey Willett, Josh Johnson, and Joshua Breedlove present. 

 

Real Deal: I can’t let you go out there, Josh.

 

Joshua Breedlove: Ugh. You HEARD them though. I’m NOT getting sidelined by Nate Robideau again, Josh. It’s not going to happen, DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME? 

 

He starts to raise his voice, but Maria walks over and places a hand on his shoulder, instantly calming him down.

 

Joshua Breedlove: You know the stakes here better than anyone, Josh. You KNOW that’s on the line. It’s not just a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, man. It’s a shot at… heh… REDEMPTION. 

 

He chuckles at his own joke.

 

Joshua Breedlove: I’m not asking to go out there on a torn ACL or a broken neck or arm or anything like that, man. Yeah, I got hit hard. Yeah, he fucked me up. Yeah, they will barely clear me, but they WILL clear me. What do I have to do? 

 

Real Deal: There’s nothing. Nothing–

 

Breedlove stands up and gets nearly nose to nose with the Real Deal.

 

Joshua Breedlove: What. do. I. have. to. do.

 

Real Deal puts a finger into Breedlove’s chest, backing him up a few steps.

 

Real Deal: Josh, you know the drill here man. We take wrestler health so much more–

 

Breedlove steps up to him once more.

 

Joshua Breedlove: I will do anything I have to do to get out there, Josh. I will sign whatever paperwork. Sign a release. Declare live on television that SHOOT will have no culpability if something happens to me. I’ll sign a waiver, I’ll donate my cut of the PPV profit, I don’t care what it takes. 

 

Maria walks over to the Real Deal and whispers into his ear, just under the sensitivity of the camera’s microphones. Real Deal sighs, looks at her, says “Are you sure?” and when she nods, he relents.

 

Real Deal: Fine. I’ll have the paperwork brought by. You get those two doctors to clear you, you sign a waiver, and you can compete. You will be subject to the same random selection that everyone else is. No favors except for this one.

 

Breedlove relaxes and lightly pumps his fist.

 

Joshua Breedlove: Thank goodness. Let’s get those two back in here.

 

Eryk Masters: You heard it, folks! It was looking like Breedlove might not be cleared to compete in the Rumble tonight, but a deal has been struck! 

 

Other Guy: Let’s just hope that this doesn’t cause more harm than good, E. Breedlove missed nearly a year of time already and I know he doesn’t want to miss more.

 

BACKSTAGE

SINS

SHOOT Project Chief of Staff Lennox Ferguson enters from frame right as he calmly approaches his offices within the Epicenter.

Posted on either side of his door are two off-duty officers; a… personal assurance he indulged himself ever since things had seemed to go sideways for him in SHOOT. Ever since Blaze Claymore and Timothy Roy… well…

He felt calmer with Claymore behind bars, but despite his seeming change of heart, Lennox wasn’t all that convinced with Roy. Not yet.

Lennox nods to his security detail.

Lennox Ferguson: How’s the evening officers? Any issues I should know about?

A short, red-haired cop that reminded him a bit of his son spoke first.

Officer 1: No, sir. Been pretty quiet here all evening. We’ve been doing patrols as well, seeing if we could shine any light on those missing pieces of equipment, but we didn’t see anything suspicious.

Lennox nods.

Lennox Ferguson: That’s good to hear. How about…

 

His eyes stay on the officer – just long enough to feel uncomfortable. He coughs as the older-looking, dark-haired officer chimes in.

Officer 2: As soon as we hit the 24-hour mark we’ll call it in, but… hopefully we won’t need to do that and he’ll come back. Even when kids become adults they still act like kids and run away from home, right?

Lennox sighs and smiles weakly before pushing open the door to his office. Mere seconds later we hear a horrified scream from Lennox that causes both officers to draw their weapons immediately and rush inside. 

 

Officer 1: SIR!

The camera follows to show a horrified-looking Lennox Ferguson, and the two officers, looking up toward the ceiling where a television monitor is swinging from side to side, being held up by industrial grade wiring and blasting color bars.

Gently resting over the backside of the monitor is a power blue cloak with white trim, the lengthy train nearly hitting the floor as it hovers over a blue and white dragon mask.

Lennox shakes violently as he approaches the scene, officers scanning every corner of the office for signs of entry and finding absolutely none. Following Lennox, the camera is able to briefly peer over the Chief of Staff’s shoulder to see him holding his son’s mask in one hand and in the other…

The officers convene at Lennox’s side and look down, matching Lennox’s complete look of shock as he grips a single piece of paper featuring letters and words jaggedly cut out – ripped out – from SHOOT Project marketing materials…

Officer 2: Dear god…

POST MATCH

THE SOUL OF THE SHOOT PROJECT

 

Samantha Coil: THE WINNER OF THE 2023 REDEMPTION RUMBLE AND THE NEWWWWW NUMBER ONE CONTENDER TO THE SHOOT PROJECT WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION… THE EMPEROR… JOSHUA BREEDLOVE!!! 

 

The fans are giving a standing ovation for Breedlove’s performance, and as a dejected Viento Helado makes his way up the ramp, he’s receiving some love of his own from the fans along the sides. Breedlove is nearly laid out in the middle of the ring, but manages to pull himself up onto his elbows and he backs himself into the corner to lean against the turnbuckle. 

 

Eryk Masters: Breedlove put it all out there tonight, OG. He was barely cleared before this match kicked off and managed to come in here and outlast everyone else to clinch it! 

 

Other Guy: This is a big deal after tonight and it has some major implications moving forward, you know.

 

Eryk Masters: Of course, because you know that Nate Robideau and the Blackhawk Gym are going to make a case about getting in the mix of all of this.

 

Other Guy: Yep, and you know–

 

The announcers are cut off by an audible microphone popping as an exhausted Joshua Breedlove is tapping the top of the device. He’s still breathing hard, but has mostly caught his breath. 

 

Joshua Breedlove: I want you to look in my eyes…

 

He takes a big, deep breath.

 

Joshua Breedlove: This match? I never want to do one of these again… 

 

He laughs.

 

Joshua Breedlove: But more importantly than that… I’m putting the world on notice. Joshua Breedlove is coming for the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship and I intend to win it.

 

The crowd pops.

 

Joshua Breedlove: But first…

 

A collective “Huh?” is heard.

 

Joshua Breedlove: I’m not done with Nate Robideau. Not even close. This fight that we’re having, Nate? This war that you seem so intent on having with me… it’s about so much more than rival factions. It’s much, much more than that. My quest for gold is on pause until you and I are done. I don’t care what it takes, because this fight? This war?

 

Heh. I will do WHATEVER it takes to get back into the ring with you, and to educate you in a way that you’ve seemingly not been taught. 

 

You’re a blight on this industry. 

 

A mark of shame for this company.

 

This is a war for the soul of the SHOOT Project, and you need to be put down. 

 

Black.