A buzz fills the arena. There are no other matches for the night. The steel cage looms ominously over the ring inside the SHOOT Epicenter.
Mark Kendrick: Here we go! There are no more contenderships to be decided. Only one more title on the line. Two men who couldn’t be contained now placed inside one of the oldest, most diabolical torture methods in the wrestling world.
Maria Madden: These two men have tortured me and my poor heart for months now and, while I am excited for this to be over and decided, I don’t think what I’ve been through will come close to matching what these two are going to do to each other.
Mark Kendrick: Who are you thinking comes out ahead?
Maria Madden: I don’t know. I don’t know if this match will even end. Both men seem to have Satan himself powering them and I don’t know if they are capable of feeling pain. If I had to choose, Ultimo Muerte has the power and time advantage and he beat the Northmen in the most dominant fashion. I’m going Muerte.
Mark Kendrick: CICADA may have taken more damage from MWR, but he also beat them quicker and has been nearly untouchable in every match. However…I don’t know, I think I might agree with you Maria. I don’t think Muerte is ready to let go of the Horizon Title just yet.
The lights go out. The arena erupts in cheers and boos, everything but silence. Phone lights begin to light up the arena.
Maria Madden: Oh Jesus, here we go.
The screen comes to life. We see the speaker, bathed in blue, inhuman yet hyperrealistic eyes scan the crowd. Spotlights match his eye movement as both screens search the entire arena before all lights land on the cage.
The Speaker: TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TAL
All the spotlights proceed to light up the entrance ramp, which remains empty.
The Speaker: Annihilation.
The screens suddenly erupt with a near-deafening roar of blue pyro, killing the feed and leaving the arena, once again, in total darkness.
Maria Madden: MY HEART CAN’T TAKE MUCH MORE OF THIS!
Nothing moves. If it weren’t for crowd noise, there would be almost complete silence.
The boos, the cheers, the raucous, intensely excited nature of the crowd returns as “Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni” by Eiko Shimamiya hits over the PA.
Mark Kendrick: Here we go!
The ramp fills with blue lights and fog. The song builds until the 19-second mark when two blue spotlights come to life and shine down on CICADA at the top of the ramp. He looks down at the ground, breathing heavily, but slowly, his shoulders visually rising and falling. He remains in place for a fair amount of time, ignoring everything around him.
Maria Madden: Behind that mask hides some kind of emotion, but what? Excitement, tension, nerves, fear?
Mark Kendrick: I don’t think we’ll ever really know, Maria.
CICADA does his kamigoye knee pose suddenly before throwing his arms out and allowing himself to bathe in the blue light and the noise of the crowd. He finally snaps his head down to the ring and begins to slowly walk, his stride slow, methodical, and confident. Fans hold their hands out to get high fives, but he ignores them. The world is darkness to him, the blue providing a focus on the only thing that matters to him…himself.
Mark Kendrick: CICADA has, quite simply, come into REIGN with a passion and purpose, unlike anything we’ve really seen before. He has had a match on almost every single REIGN card since joining and has consistently sought out the most game competitors.
Maria Madden: Though the crowd has very mixed feelings about this man…creature…ghost…we know that many of the SHOOT faithful tune in to REIGN weekly to see who CICADA will destroy next.
Mark Kendrick: The Ghost of REIGN. I think I like that.
CICADA slowly walks up the ring steps. He walks to the center of the ring and holds the ropes, looking up at the cage. He takes a deep breath before stepping over the ropes, understanding that he won’t be able to leave this ring until the match is over. He looks around, taking in the size of the crowd, much larger than his usual REIGN appearances.
Maria Madden: Even a supernatural monster like CICADA seems caught up in the moment.
Mark Kendrick: This is the largest event REIGN has ever seen and this man, not even challenging for the REIGN World Title, has found himself in the main event. However, we’ll see if a ghost can withstand a true demon.
The lights go out once again. Flames appear on the SHOOTron. “Alchemy” by Al Marconi begins to play. The slow, somber, and tense Spanish guitar floats through the arena. As the song plays, a brujah emerges from the back. She holds a sword with the hilt pointed upwards. In the hilt sits a lit candle. Soon follows another brujah with the same sword. And another. And another.
Mark Kendrick: 10 witches.
Maria Madden: 10 swords.
Mark Kendrick: The worst destruction for CICADA.
Maria Madden: I hate all of this.
The witches line up on the ramp, 5 on each side, holding up their flaming swords. Pandora emerges from the back, the Horizon Championship slung over her shoulder. She points to the SHOOTron with an evil smile. The High Brujah appears in front of the flames, a wicked smile on her face.
High Brujah: Ultimo Muerte…show the world the power of our coven and annihilate this insect.
Flames erupt from the ring posts and the entrance ramp as “Inhumano” by Anna Fiori hits over the speakers! Ultimo Muerte emerges from the back quickly and with purpose. Stopping only to look up at the screens and acknowledge the High Brujah. With a nod to Pandora, he quickly stomps down the ring. Where CICADA was slow and methodical, Ultimo Muerte is fast and powerful, each step thundering on the metal.
Maria Madden: You said it best, Mark. A demon. Ultimo Muerte is a demonic, evil, and ancient force that is supported by ACTUAL MAGICAL WITCHES.
Mark Kendrick: I have the best roster.
Ultimo Muerte slides under the bottom rope and is immediately on his feet. He moves directly to center ring and gets directly in the face of CICADA. Neither man speaks, but the fact that their foreheads are touching and they are nose to nose says enough about what we need to know. The referee steps in between them, trying to keep some semblance of order for this. Pandora is in the ring now. She hands the Horizon Title to the referee, never taking her eyes off CICADA. Maria Madden joins them in the ring. She puts her hand on Ultimo Muerte’s shoulder and tugs on him. He backs off, reluctantly, as does CICADA.
Maria Madden: Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for TOTAL…ANNIHILATION!
The crowd erupts.
Maria Madden: The following contest is set for ONE FALL-
Maria Madden: And is for the HORIZON CHAMPIONSHIP!
The referee holds the title high to even more cheers from the crowd.
Maria Madden: Both men will be locked inside this steel cage. Escape is not an option. The match can only end in pinfall, submission, or referee stoppage. Introducing FIRST, the challenger, weighing in tonight at TWO HUNDRED and FIXTY SIX pounds and hailing from…Hell or The Further or wherever Stephen King’s nightmares exist…he is The Ghost of Reign-
Mark Kendrick: Trademarked!
Maria Madden: CIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICADAAAAAAAAAAA!
Some fans boo, some fans cheer, but almost all of them make noise and litter the ring with blue streamers.
Maria Madden: AND HIS OPPONENT…THE REEEEEIGN-ING HORIZON CHAMPION-
Mark Kendrick: I see what you did there. Atta girl.
Maria Madden: Hailing from Tijuana, Mexico and weighing in at THREE HUNDRED and TWENTY POUNDS…The Ultimate Death…The Demon of REIGN…The Master of the Blackest Magic…ULTIMOOOOOOOOOO…
Maria lowers the mic and takes a deep breath, which gets a response from the crowd.
Maria Madden: …MUUUUUUUUUUEEEEEEERTEEEEEEEEEE!
The fans erupt again as red and black streamers come flying into the ring. A few ring crew suddenly appear to help the ref sweep all the streamers from the ring. Pandora touches Muerte’s shoulder and locks eyes with him. They nod to one another, no words passed, just understanding. CICADA leans against the ropes and stares at Muerte, silently and ready. As the streamers are removed from the ring the cage begins to lower.
Mark Kendrick: Great introduction, Maria.
Maria Madden: I never want to be in the ring with those two ever again.
The cage finally falls. All doors are locked. The Ghost and The Demon stare at each other. The bell rings.