A PLesant Surprise
“Maria! I just met a girl named Maria. And suddenly that name. Will never be the same to meeeee….”
Maria Madden: A little West Side Story for me, eh? What are you even doing here?
The crowd comes unglued when JOSHUA BREEDLOVE enters the frame. He’s wearing khaki slacks and a dark red buttondown shirt, which he uncuffs and rolls the sleeves to just below his elbow.
Joshua Breedlove: I love this business, Maria. Truly. I love everything about it, but you know what I love the most?
Maria Madden: What’s that?
Joshua Breedlove: Finding the next big thing.
Maria Madden: So this is a scouting effort, then?
Joshua Breedlove: You could say that. There are a handful of people here on the REIGN roster that I’ve been watching while I was rehabbing. Some may surprise you, some may not. Obviously my boys Hanzo and Yarbury always keep my interest. I was bummed to see them not tagging anymore, but then I learned they’re taking on Mojo Sensation tonight, and I’m intrigued by that.
Maria Madden: Who else has you interested?
Joshua Breedlove: Ohhh… I was thinking I’d play coy and keep it a mystery, but nah. Rafael Ortega, Diego Ramirez, and the main one I’m here to see is this new sensation to the SHOOT Project, dude’s doing double duty, you know?
Maria Madden: You’re talking about–
Joshua Breedlove: Golden Burkhalter, baby.
Maria Madden: What’s the endgame there?
Breedlove looks at Maria, motions for her to come in closer, she gladly does so, and answers.
Joshua Breedlove: Absolute, total domination.
Maria Madden: Love that. See you later?
Joshua Breedlove: Wouldn’t miss it.
We cut away.
REIGN Tag Team Championships
Midnight Cowboys MC Vs. Furia Inviernal (c)
The SHOOT Project video screens flashes to a site that may look familiar to some, but even so, the environment looks equally off-putting.
A seemingly unnaturally proportioned figure sits on the observation side of a two-way mirror that looks out over what might be confused as an animal enclosure, but instead serves as a makeshift home for REIGN’s own WOLF MAN.
The titular WOLF MAN rests calmly in the background as the room’s dimmed fluorescent lighting pops and hisses through the mirror – casting only the faintest elements of light on the figure. The shape remains turned towards WOLF MAN for several seconds before something catches his attention.
Soon, a blast of purple light fills the room, revealing the face of Dr. Străjer. He holds his staff up above his head as he slides a seemingly nondescript, folded piece of paper in front of him. It rests neatly on a computer console as Străjer stares, seemingly unblinking, almost… eager.
In his thick, Eastern European accent, Străjer begins to read what appears to be a note to himself. His tone makes it seem like this is not the first time he’s read these words aloud; perhaps not even the tenth or twentieth time…
Dearest Dr. Străjer,
My, what a rise in popularity for your subject. It appears the REIGN ‘faithful’ have been enamored by WOLF MAN since the beast’s debut just a few short months ago. It is no wonder, with their monstrous features and mannerisms. These ‘faithful’, mirroring the temperament of your subject, are blood hungry and WOLF MAN appeals to them. Congratulations are in order, Dr. Străjer, as you seem to have struck gold.
Of course, I am not alone in my assessment of WOLF MAN. My ‘consigliere’, if you would, has taken to WOLF MAN as well. I never would have sought your ward out as a partner for Ultimo Muerte if she did not give her blessings. WOLF MAN’s abilities in said match were on full display. How incredibly enchanting! As such, the High Brujah would enjoy your company to discuss further opportunities.
You will soon find a private jet reserved in WOLF MAN and your name stationed at Harry Reid International Airport as a courtesy. Please arrive at your presumed leisure. The High Brujah understands that you and WOLF MAN may have quite the schedule; however, I must remind you that the High Brujah does not intend to wait very long for a response.
The light on Străjer’s staff glows as he reads the final words, the name “Pandora” lingering on his lips like a word he can’t quite get out or, even more so, one he wants to savor the sound of.
Suddenly, the glow from the staff shifts from purple to a deep red, casting the room and Străjer in a bloody hue. Străjer looks up, through the glass, at a stirring WOLF MAN… just watching. Then, just as quickly as it had appeared, the staff’s light goes out and the interior lights of the facility come back to life, illuminating a contorted Străjer who does not simply get up from his chair but crawls from it.
He places the letter neatly in his coat jacket pocket as he makes his way to the door that leads into WOLF MAN’s cage.
The beast was growing restless… it was time for him to feed.
The Pain Hunter Vs. Austin Kwon Rhee
Mojo Sensation Vs. Hanzo/Yarbury
Following the conclusion to the Hanzo/Yarbury Vs. Mojo Sensation match, the lights dim and pyro explodes as “MAKE WAY FOR THE KING” hits, signaling the entrance of the inimitable former SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion, Joshua Breedlove!
Mark Kendrick: Listen to the crowd!
Maria Madden: This is such an unexpected treat tonight, Mark. How did you pull this off?
Mark Kendrick: I didn’t even have to do anything. I got word from the Vegas office that he wanted to come down, and there was no way I was going to say no to that.
Still dressed in the khakis and dark red buttondown, Breedlove makes his way down the ramp and into the ring, where both Mojo Sensation and Hanzo & Yarbury are standing. He hugs Yarbury and Hanzo and shakes the hand of both members of Mojo Sensation before they make their exit. As he’s handed a microphone, the crowd is just beside themselves.
Joshua Breedlove: Can you guys believe REIGN gets me on a live mic before the SHOOT Project does? Isn’t that some wild shit?
The crowd pops, and off to the side, you can see Mark Kendrick pump his fist.
Joshua Breedlove: We just witnessed an incredible tag team contest between those two teams, so please give it up for both of them.
The crowd shows their appreciation as both teams make their way behind the curtain.
Joshua Breedlove: Anyway, did you guys see Revolution?!
The crowd pops.
Joshua Breedlove: Not only did I get a really freaking cool return, but I kicked the SHIT out of Nate Robideau.
They pop again.
Joshua Breedlove: I only mention that because the big reason that I’m here tonight is so that I can get a good, up close and personal look at Nate’s prized student. Y’all know who I’m talking about?
Someone in the crowd shouts out “GOLDEN BURKHALTER”, causing the immediate surrounding members of the audience to laugh, and Breedlove to smile.
Joshua Breedlove: Nailed it. I’m here for Golden Burkhalter. I intend to take everything from Nate Robideau. I want to take his health, his safety, I want him to feel anything BUT secure, and one of the biggest pieces of that puzzle is the business acquisition of one, Joey Burkhalter.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Robideau has done great work in getting this man trained for combat. He’s a gifted, talented, creator of violence, but he doesn’t yet have the flare. The excess. The entertainment, and that my friends…
That is what I’m here for.
I know you’re back there listening, Joey. I know you’re hearing what I’m saying. You want to be a superstar in this business, I get that. I also know what it takes to get there. I know the type of work you have to put in, I know the hands you have to shake, I know the wheels that need to be greased.
You want stardom?
He motions to the crowd.
Joshua Breedlove: You want to hold them in the palm of your hand? All you have to do is say the word, Joey. Say the word and we negotiate immediately. I can pay you more than you could possibly ever spend, and I can turn you from a gifted fighter into an all-around incredible commodity.
Check it though, REIGN. I’m not going to take up more of your time. I’m also here to see Diego Ramirez tonight, and he just got done fighting. I’ll see you kids later.
He flips the mic, which makes an audible pop as it hits the mat. “Make Way for the King” picks up one more time, and Breedlove makes his way back up the ramp as we cut away…
Julia Riff-Raff Vs. Tommy Knuckles
Giving the Fans What They Want
We come back to the ring, and Mark Kendrick is standing in the middle with a velvet bag in his hand. He’s smiling and waving to the crowd with his free hand, and he gets handed a microphone shortly thereafter.
Mark Kendrick: Wow, what a great night it’s been tonight!
The crowd shows their appreciation.
Mark Kendrick: We’ve had two incredible tag team matches, two great singles matches, and we’ve got our main event for the Horizon Championship to go!
Again, the crowd agrees.
Mark Kendrick: We had a visit from Joshua freakin’ Breedlove tonight, and THAT was awesome, but we’re here to talk about something that’s very important to REIGN. We’ve seen an uptick in big time violent matches here in the SHOOT Project and in REIGN over the last several months.
One of the things I’d always loved back in the early days of SHOOT, when I was watching way, way back when, was the whole idea behind the DEATHKORE division.
So, now that I run things around here, I thought to myself… what better way to pay homage to that division, and to that extreme violence than by having ourselves a little surprise here.
The crowd is hushed, listening to his words.
Mark Kendrick: I called Josh a few weeks ago and we started talking. Not quite a negotiation, per se, but just a conversation. I wanted to bring the Deathkore Championship back. I wanted it to be a defining feature here in REIGN, and I wanted it to be something that sets us apart.
He’s very protective of SHOOT Project history and things along those lines, and with the Deathkore Championship’s history being folded into the Sin City Championship, he wasn’t sure.
I’m real persistent, though.
Like, obnoxiously so.
And so, I think he finally got tired of me nagging him about it and we had another discussion. This time, a negotiation.
He begins to open the bag and he pulls a championship belt out of it, drawing the noise and cheers from the Los Angeles crowd.
Mark Kendrick: We’re getting the Deathkore Championship.
Kendrick smiles and the crowd pops again.
Mark Kendrick: But this one is unique. It won’t have the lineage of the old one, it won’t be tied to those names, instead… it’s going to be ours. All ours.
REIGN’s Deathkore Championship will be yet another way that we define and differentiate ourselves, and we will be deciding that champion VERY soon. So get ready for violence. Get ready for bloodshed, and with that in mind, I’m going to lead us into the main event festivities for the evening, as Golden Burkhalter challenges CICADA for the Horizon Championship!