His breath was short, almost gasping. His ribs hurt from where they’d kicked him, over and over again. He felt the crust of dried blood around his mouth and his sinuses were stopped. This was bad. He opened his eyes and saw nothing but black with dots of light. His head was covered in a bag of some kind.
This is not the first time he’s been in this situation.
Probably won’t be the last time, either.
And he knew who was responsible, he just needed to calm down and figure out where exactly it was that they were taking him. He knew who he was going to see.
It didn’t feel like the desert, wasn’t far enough outside of Las Vegas for that. He couldn’t place it, but the road is gravel and the turns are sharp. He can feel his heart rate rising, his breath shortening.
He knows that there are at least two men in this van with him. Maybe a third. That was unclear.
“We’re almost there, don’t you worry little Joe,” the voice said.
That was definitely Scion.
“You’re in for a treat,” Scion says.
Eryk Masters: We’ve got a HUGE show for you tonight, and we’re kicking it off big time with a Sin City Championship match! Joshua Breedlove, winner of the Sin City Contendership Battle Royal, takes on defending champion Void!
Other Guy: Not only that, the TRIAD Tournament is DONE tonight, with the winner being decided between GODSPEED and The Holler! We’ve got a World Tag Team Championship match, the Iron Fist title is being legitimized, and of course our HUGE main event where X-Calibur attempts to dethrone Buck Dresden for the WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP!
Eryk Masters: We’ve got a bragging rights match with KIMO the REIGN Champion and Courtney Hatchett, the Shut Up and Fight Champion! Oh and we’re going to decide the FIRST challenger for the Iron Fist Championship when impressive newcomers Draco Dragotta and Dr. Ned Reform square off in a contendership match! That’s pretty special, OG!
Other Guy: Yep, they’re the ONLY competitors booked in a match that doesn’t involve a championship being decided. ON A CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION. That’s big praise from the office!
Eryk Masters: You got that right! Let’s get to the action, we’ve got Void defending the Sin City Championship against Joshua Breedlove and THAT. IS. NEXT!
Joshua Breedlove Vs. Void (c)
Eryk Masters: Uhhhh what in the unholy fuck was with that fast ass COUNT!? Void just got SCREWED.
Other Guy: Breedlove knows it too! He’s BOOKING it and the referee is running with him! What the fuck is that? The new ref is in Breedlove’s pocket?! Is that even a real thing?!
Void gets to his feet and stares out to Joshua Breedlove, the NEW Sin City Champion, who has a microphone.
Joshua Breedlove: ANY MEANS NECESSARY, DADDY’S BOY. You got problems, I got SOLUTIONS ya BITCH. It’s party time here in VEGAS because your boy SIN CITY BREEDLOVE is the CHAMP. ALEX! TAKE A BOW!
Alex Campbell, referee for the Sin City Championship match… takes a bow.
Joshua Breedlove: This little fuck is SO smart. He JOINS THE REFEREES UNION and CAN’T GET FIRED, well… for awhile at least. HAHAHAHA. Eat SHIT Void. I had to have an insurance policy because you are seriously the scariest motherfucker that I have ever seen in a wrestling ring. Don’t get me wrong, SHOOT Project fans…
…who are booing right now.
Joshua Breedlove: I have been given a great gift when it comes to professional wrestling, but sometimes… sometimes talent needs to be accompanied with BRAINS and I was blessed with those AS WELL. What did that get me? Well, I’ll show you. HASHTAG.
EAT SHIT BEN BRONSON. Where’s the Sin City Scoundrels? I KNOW they have a heroes welcome prepared for me in the back. FUCK yes. Have a good rest of the night you uncharitable nasty FUCKS.
“Virtuoso” by Black Violin kicks in again as Breedlove and referee Alex Campbell disappear into the back, leaving Void in the ring, and sending the camera back to Eryk Masters and the Other Guy.
Eryk Masters: Well that is… that’s disgusting. Breedlove gets a crooked ref onto the payroll and uses it to just take that championship from Void. Breedlove is going to RUIN all the prestige that belt has attained.
Other Guy: It is smart, though. Diabolical, but smart.
The lights dim.
A soft and subtle guitar strums into the atmosphere of the Epicenter. Followed by the mesmerizing vocals of one Maria Brink.
I thank you for all the lives you’ve led
I thank you for every word you said
I thank you for walking away…
I THANK YOU
Blue pyro explodes. Soon after, Courtney Hatchett appears on the entrance ramp for the first time in Revolution history. The SHOOT Project Shut Up and FIGHT Championship is fastened around her left arm.
I THANK YOU for the promises you broke
For always watching, WATCHING WHILE I CHOKE
She looks out into the audience, nodding with acceptance of the new and welcoming sight.
The SHOOTron then shows moments of Courtney Hatchett’s time on Shut Up and FIGHT.
Courtney nails a backstabber on Kitsune as “My Roots” by In This Moment picks up some momentum..
She hits a top rope exploder suplex onto NEMESIS during their classic.
Leaping into the air, she nails a shining wizard on Akuma Satsui.
I BITE DOWN a little harder
MY BLADES a little sharper
MY ROOTS, MY ROOTS
Run deep into the hollow…
Glimpses into a recent photoshoot are revealed as she stares deep into the camera with her hair blowing perfectly, holding up the Shut Up and FIGHT Championship for all to see.
This transitions into Courtney nailing a roundhouse on Robby Bingo…
… into flying off the top rope and nailing a dragoncanrana onto Jonah Silverkin…
… into hitting a Code Blue onto Adelaide Ainsworth.
STRIKE BACK a little harder
I SCREAM a little louder
MY ROOTS, MY ROOTS
Run deep into the hollow
Some of the fans in the audience even begin singing along to the “MY ROOTS” sections.
I HIT BACK a little louder
FUCK YOU a little harder
MY ROOTS, MY ROOTS
Run deep into the hollow
Finally, smiling ear to ear, Courtney sprints down to the ring in a brand new pink and black set of wrestling gear. Sliding underneath the bottom rope she runs to the turnbuckles away from the camera and jumps to the middle rope. Lip syncing the lyrics to her theme song, she pats on the championship belt slung over her shoulder and jumps down from the middle turnbuckle.
Several moments later, her theme finally fades and we are left with a standing ovation for Courtney Hatchett’s first official appearance on Revolution.
Eryk Masters: God. DAYUM. That was amazing.
Other Guy: Shit, even I’M pumped and I’ve been on Revolution since the beginning!
Eryk Masters: Well… Revolution 2, actually. But who’s counting?
Other Guy: You had to do it, didn’t you?
Eryk Masters: You’re like the slinky that made it alllll the way down to the second to last step. Out of like 5,000.
Courtney asks for a microphone. The time keeper hands one to referee Clark Feldman, who then hands it to Courtney.
Courtney Hatchett: Thanks, guys. That was… well, amazing. Sheesh! Listen, I’m not even sure I deserve that kind of adulation or entrance. I mean, compared to guys like Jonas Coleman, Buck Dresden, and X-Calibur… who in the hell am I, really!?
A few moments later, Courtney goes to speak but is interrupted by a chant that keeps gaining momentum.
Clap, clap, clapclapclap.
Clap, clap, clapclapclap.
Courtney Hatchett: I beg to differ, but I’ll take it. Haha.
She looks around at the Epicenter, noticing the banners for Revolution plastered everywhere.
Courtney Hatchett: Listen. I loved being a part of Shut Up and Fight, but I’ve dreamed of this day since I was a little girl. Coming out to the ring to my own entrance theme, surrounded by thousands of fans singing along, chanting along, or just doing whatever you wanna do. Seeing Eryk Masters and Other Guy over there talking into their headsets, about me, to the audience at home on their SP+ apps. This is… so surreal.
She tears up for a moment, but regains her composure.
Courtney Hatchett: But regardless of how surreal it feels, here I am. Here I am… AND STILL… Shut Up and Fight Champion!!
She holds the belt up to a thunderous pop. Lowering her arm, she looks into the title’s beautiful blue and silver faceplate.
Courtney Hatchett: I gotta be honest… I really thought my championship reign was coming to an end after Shut Up and Fight was canceled. But, leave it to the brilliant minds of Sean Kygon and Josh Johnson to come up with an idea that breathes new life into a championship. So with that said, I wanted to call someone out specifically to defend my championship. And with that in mind… SAMMY ROCHESTER! I know you and Arthur are watching. I haven’t forgotten what you d-
Suddenly, Courtney is interrupted by the opening chords of “Fur Elise” by Cole Rolland. The lights on the entrance way switch to a light purple hue as the song kicks into gear. Courtney Hatchett, and the rest of the audience, seems a little stunned by this development…
Eryk Masters: …what’s going on here?
Other Guy: I think I know who this is!
We soon get our answer, as Ned Re… excuse me, DOCTOR Ned Reform emerges from the back. He’s dressed in his purple and white singlet and full wrestling gear, but curiously has a pair of reading glasses clipped around his bald head.
In his hand he has a microphone, which he holds high into the air as a signal for the music to stop. His theme fades out.
Dr. Reform smiles broadly, looking around at the stunned crowd.
Dr. Ned Reform: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.” Fitzgerald’s seminal masterpiece.
Reform looks around, nodding as if he’s just said something profound. Nobody seems to have any idea what he’s talking about, but that doesn’t phase him one bit. Courtney meanwhile leans back against the ropes
Courtney Hatchett: No, please. Go ahead. It’s not as if I was talking or anything. Floor is yours, Doc!
Amused at Courtney’s sarcasm, Reform chuckles ever so slightly.
Dr. Ned Reform: I’m sorry to interrupt, sweetie. But when I see a chance to make a point, the good doctor does not hesitate. You see, as much as I’d hate to make you the unfortunate example of my next lecture… well, you might not realize this, but you… you are the canary in the coal mine.
Quick check in with the fans. Yep, nobody still has any idea what the hell he’s talking about.
Dr. Ned Reform: You stand out here, waxing nostalgic. Telling us about your journey to SHOOT. The blood! The sweat! The tears! The fans shower you with validation – they say you deserve it! All while holding what’s essentially a relic over your shoulder. Under different circumstances, some might see your little speech as inspirational. As it is, I’m afraid I have to classify it for what it is… pathetic.
The fans boo that. Now they’re less confused and just angrier. Who is this jerk?
Reform holds up his hands as if you say, “Hold on! Stay with me! I have a point!”
Dr. Ned Reform: Now, now, now! Wait a minute! It’s not her fault, you see. She doesn’t know any better. This is a common human fallacy: the Good Ol’ Days. The fact is, Shut Up and Fight is gone. It’s in the past. Your title has become the product of a bygone age. Your championship, and your championship aspirations… are being left in the post-Reform era.
That stupid, smug grin.
Dr. Ned Reform: Of course! You think it coincidental that the winds of change – ie. ME – arrive on the scene and suddenly we see a dramatic shift in how SHOOT presents television? No, we are in the early days of the Reform Era. And I’m afraid that emotional speeches in the middle of the ring have no place in the new SHOOT. You see, SHOOT is becoming a place of logic. Of reason. Of a new hegemony that values intellect. A place where attachments to the past are left on the cutting room floor like the sentimental nonsense they are. A place where nobody “deserves” anything. Tonight, I continue to serve as a model for what SHOOT can someday be. And you…
Reform motions to the ring.
Ned Reform: …I’m afraid that the new world has no use for your feelings.
Reform drops the mic and smiles. He mouths, “thank you for coming to my Ned Talk!” before turning and marching back through the curtain, seemingly oblivious to the cascade of boos.
Courtney Hatchett: Oh. Oh you’re finished now? Does that mean I can get a word in edgewise now? Cool. So here’s the deal.
She shakes her head, irritated by the nerve of Reform and his ill-informed diatribe.
Courtney Hatchett: If you actually LISTENED to what I was saying, Doc, then you’d know that I wasn’t… how did you so eloquently put it? “Waxing nostalgic”? Yeah, not sure what person you were watching in the ring from back behind the curtain but it sure as hell wasn’t me. I didn’t even MENTION my journey to SHOOT, so you can stop putting words into my mouth, ‘kay?
The fans pop at her fiery retort.
Courtney Hatchett: See, before you so rudely interrupted me? You know, like how most of the arrogant Doctors are that I’ve met throughout my career in nursing who look down upon nurses? I was about to throw down my “Shut Up and FIGHT” challenge to Sammy Rochester. Because I haven’t in any way, shape, or form forgotten about that inverted chokeslam he gave me at Revelation. And I definitely need to get me a piece of that comeuppance pie against the child of Frankenstein’s Monster and Forrest Gump. Buuuuut…. wellllll…
She pauses and smiles towards the audience who are on the same wavelength as her.
Courtney Hatchett: Since you want to run your mouth at me and look stupid in front of the whole world, then I’ll oblige you. My match with Sammy can wait. Because I could seriously use a little tune-up match against some arrogant jackass before I go and throw myself into the fire against Arthur and Sammy again. And I… oh yeah… and I can’t think of a more suited tune up match than going against YOU, Doctor Ned.
She holds the Shut Up and FIGHT Championship for the whole Epicenter to see.
Courtney Hatchett: So buckle up, Neddo. And just, for the LOVE of GOD… shut up and FIGHT me!!
She drops the microphone as her theme starts to play again.
Eryk Masters: Well, I’m certainly looking forward to that one!
Other Guy: Looks like Courtney just made good on the new stipulation for the Shut Up and Fight Championship and has a date with the Good Doctor! But right now? She has a date with the Champion of REIGN, KIMO!
KIMO Vs. Courtney Hatchett
It wasn’t a suggestion or a command, it was just what was about to happen next. He felt two sets of hands on his shoulders shove him down into the chair, his face still covered with a black cloth bag.
He hears what sounds like tape, and then that continues, as they start to wrap it around his torso and to the chair. His wrists get wrapped to the armrests. His feet get wrapped to the legs.
“I’m going to pull the hood off of your face now. If you scream, we’re far out enough that nobody can hear you, so don’t bother,” says Scion.
The veil comes off of his face and he takes a quick look around. Abandoned warehouse. Scion, Avarice, and Malice, all in the room. Malice is dragging an old TV and VCR over to sit in front of Jonas Coleman. They’re already plugged in, and there’s a tape labeled “4/18/2016” sitting in the tape bay.
There’s one more person that joins them, and when Jonas sees Adrian Corazon, it feels like the temperature in the room bottoms out. Almost like if you gasped out, you’d see your breath. Corazon walks up to the TV and places his hand on the appliance. He nods to Avarice, who takes his cue.
“Mr. Coleman! Thank you SO MUCH for joining us. Anything to say before we commence?”
Jonas shakes his head.
Scion and Malice immediately grab hold of Jonas’ face and Avarice tapes his mouth shut. They strip Jonas’ shirt from his back. Corazon pushes the tape into the VCR and presses play, the others grinning as the video begins.
Malice and Scion begin laying into Jonas Coleman’s upper back with straps, leaving large red welts.
“You’re awake. Good.”
Diego Reyes slowly opens his eyes, looking at the world around him. He is bound to a bed: his forehead, arms, legs, and midsection buckled down. His mouth has a belt tying it open, locking his entire body to the bed. He manages to look down at his feet and sees a man wearing a black hood. The voice is familiar. Once the man steps into the light, he sees where he is. He knows who he is. He is still in Mexico.
And he is with the Herald.
Herald: I am stunned, Diego, that you have come so far.
Diego says nothing. How could he?
Herald: You came to Mexico looking for answers. You came here looking for me, correct? Looking for something to do with me or something to do with our Master. But, you see, Diego, that’s the thing.
Herald reaches down, cupping Diego’s cheek.
Herald: You don’t know me. You certainly don’t know our Master. I am everywhere. I am nowhere. I am everyone. I am no one. I am the Herald, Diego Reyes. I am the Herald to our Master. Our Master that leads this company we call the SHOOT Project. He is our God, our messiah, our savior. I am his messenger, his trumpet, his scion.
Herald: You will notice you can’t feel your appendages.
Diego looks around frantically, growling and grunting behind the belt that has buckled him down and locked his mouth open.
Herald: That’s so you don’t pass out. You see, Diego, tonight, there are five points I would like you to understand.
Herald stands over Diego’s head, dropping something heavy, somewhat wet.
Herald: Number one…you, Jonas Coleman, the Soldiers, the Faithful, you will all only know what we want you to know when we want you to know it.
He drops another object onto Diego’s face. It bounces off and lands on the floor near the first.
Herald: Number two…Diego Reyes is not as important as he thinks he is. You are a fat, useless, pretend detective stepping down the wrong dark alleyways looking for the wrong clues.
He drops another.
Herald: Number three…Jonas Coleman and all who follow along with him are going to suffer for this useless transgression. It is important for all to understand our control.
He drops another.
Herald: Number four…in case you haven’t noticed, Diego, I have been dropping your right hand’s fingers on you.
Diego’s eyes go wide. He looks down to his right hand and sees each of his fingers have been removed, the wounds cauterized shut.
Herald: Number five.
Herald takes Diego’s index finger, pressing the tip in Diego’s forehead as Diego begins to grunt, the fear settling in.
Herald: Tonight you will understand why you don’t question your betters, Diego. Tonight, you will bleed for your stupidity.
Diego begins to scream violently, only for Herald to turn his back on the PERDITION tag team member, best friend of Jonas Coleman, and SHOOT Project Veteran. Diego screams until his throat cracks and he stops, looking at his feet as four men garbed in total black step into the room. Herald turns around and looks back to the men and to Diego. Herald nods. Each of the four men pull six inch blades from their belts.
Herald locks eyes with Diego.
Herald: Take whatever you want from him.
Diego’s eyes go wide as tears begin streaming down his temples. He howls as he watches the blades penetrating his flesh, sliding deeper into him. He looks up for one last glimmer of hope to Herald that is quickly diminished with the slamming of the door.
Eryk Masters: At the top of our show, we got a video transmission from the New Vanguard, and apparently… they’ve abducted Jonas Coleman, and they want the whole world to know it. This was a continuation of that transmission. I’m not sure what exactly it is that they’re showing him, but they’re beating the absolute hell out of the former World Heavyweight Champion, and he’s in a bad, bad way.
Other Guy: We also aren’t sure when or where these videos are taking place. I haven’t heard from or seen Jonas Coleman here tonight, which was a little odd to me, but I didn’t think anything of it and I’m not sure anyone else did either. He wasn’t booked, he’s been fighting this battle, and… yeah.
We cut to the ring as the lights go out.
Eryk Masters: What is going on?
Other Guy: I have no clue!
A red light begins shining the middle of the ring as “Popular Monster” by Falling in Reverse begins playing loudly through the PA System. Lucy Sixx walks briskly down the ramp and slides in the ring. She demands a microphone.
Lucy Sixx: Cut the damn music! You see for so long I have sat back and watched as people in this business continue to live their lives the way they damn well please. I am sick and damn tired of it.
Eryk Masters: Truly have no clue who this person is.
Other Guy: Give her time, Eryk.
Lucy paces the ring as she continues to speak.
Lucy Sixx: My name is Lucy Sixx and I am the daughter of Beezelbub, the Devil himself. My father has me on a mission to show the err of the ways of man. I am here in SHOOT to prove that your days are numbered. I am demanding a match with ANYONE in order to begin making an example of the pathetic shits on this roster! Come on management. Give me my first sacrifice! Time is ticking and my father is watching.
With that Lucy rolls out of the ring and walks up the ramp shaking her head side to side.
Eryk Masters: The daughter of the devil? Do you believe this?
Other Guy: Are you willing to risk it?
GODSPEED Vs. The Holler
Eryk Masters: Can’t believe it! The Holler won!
Other Guy: Yeah, that cluster at the end was something, and gave Elgin enough of a window to get that pinfall. That was a crazy win and congratulations to our new TRIAD Champions, Haskell Payne, Elgin Blair, and Robby Bingo, the HOLLER!
Eryk Masters: Great tournament, too! SHOOT’s never had six-man tag titles before, so it was really interesting to see this one play out and see how the different teams gelled together and all that.
We cut to the unlikely scene of a run-down coffee shop somewhere within the city of Las Vegas, far off the infamous strip.
Sitting in a booth across from one another are the unlikely duo of Jacob Mephisto and Nate Robideau. The scene is awkward at best. Nate seems on edge, while Mephisto appears lost in thought.
Most of the sparse patrons pay the two large men no mind, but one or two gawk occasionally. It’s hard to discern whether or not these two are recognized.
Mephisto takes a sip from a chipped, off-white mug, seeming to revel in the flavor for just a moment.
Mephisto: I’m surprised you called. What’s on your mind?
He shifts in his seat with a noted discomfort and sinking into his shoulders. He occasionally glances about the room, a byproduct of his days spent incarcerated.
Robideau: I do not know that there is much on my mind not tied to what I went through. I could talk about this to Power Devil or Superbeast, but they are very positive people. I get the feeling they never gave dwelling much thought…well, that seems to be all I have right now, is dwelling.
He sips from a plastic cup of water with no satisfaction.
Robideau: I do not even know why I reached out to you. Not many places for me to reach out to anymore.
Mephisto nods slowly, the understanding sinking in. He rolls the mug in his hands a couple of times.
Mephisto: Yea. From what I gather, your brethren don’t look back too often.
Mephisto sighs, looking directly at Nate with his pale, grey eyes seeming to look into the Native’s soul.
Mephisto: He scarred you. Butcher, I mean. You already had the weight of your past pressing down on your soul. And he carved a wound into it. It’s a scar you’ll carry forever. Things like that… they change men. Butcher fed on it. You… well… you dwell. But, you scarred him too, in a way. And that is how you move forward.
The big man stips on his coffee, peering out of the window.
Robideau: Is that what I have left? Just hurting other people until I feel better?
Mephisto shakes his head slowly. He sips his coffee (black, no cream or sugar) briefly before looking back to Nate.
Mephisto: No, Nate. That’s not all you have left. That’s the Unholy Cyber Army’s influence speaking to you. Brutality. Violence. Mayhem. All in the name of glory and feeling… better.
The dingy light of the shop glints off Mephisto’s pale, grey eyes as he produces a smirk that never reaches those eyes.
Mephisto: Rise above your station. Or, since we’re in Vegas, start counting cards or palming aces. Pick your metaphor. What you have left is opportunity.
Mephisto runs a hand through his hair.
Mephisto: Look, Nate. Your name’s been in lights now. In front of the world, you’ve beaten the number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship twice. You’ve endured his torment. Now? Now you can choose to wither away and continue to wallow, or you can pull yourself up and show the world what the real Nate Robideau can do. Sin City Champion? Iron Fist Champion? Hell, Tag Team Champion if you want it bad enough. Point is, when I look at Nate Robideau, I don’t see a monster needing to be unleashed or a man needing to be destroyed. I don’t see a mind to twist. I see a Soldier of the SHOOT Project holding himself back from getting any and everything he deserves.
Robideau: And what is it that I deserve then, Jacob? Success? Fame? Riches?
He peers out of the window, consumed in thought for a moment–but he doesnt look pained. Doesn’t look stern. Doesn’t look upset or concerned. It’s a rare glimpse of peace on his face. When he does speak, his terse thunderclap voice is softened.
Robideau: This is the life I know, and I know that I am likely too old to learn a new one. But all I have ever wanted was peace. A place to call my own. A job that affords food and a roof. New shoes when the old ones give out. Quiet at night. The burn of a run in my chest and the sweet delirious exhaustion of a match fought to the finish.
He looks back to Mephisto, his reverie broken.
Robideau: That is what I…that is what I hope I deserve.
Mephisto smiles again.
Mephisto: Peace. That’s something that has eluded me for as long as I can remember. But, perhaps we can find a path to it.
Mephisto stands, slowly and unrushed and extends a hand. Nate shifts in his seat for a moment before standing and taking Mephisto’s hand. The two men shake before Nate turns and walks away without another word.
As Nate heads for the exit, Mephsito studies the man, a smirk forming on his face as he speaks in almost a whisper to no one in particular.
Mephisto: Peace. I hate the word. But still… so much potential.
Brick Wall. Graffiti that seems to grow—across the top are the names of teams: “MCGA”, “VICE SQUAD” are there with big red X’s through them. The screen is occupied by the hulking, oiled, leather-clad presence of CYBER Superbeast and CYBER Power Devil: The UNHOLY CYBER ARMY. Superbeast hangs back, allowing Power Devil to walk forward, rubbing his hands together and looking to the ground. His voice is his regular bark, but turned down to 8 instead of 10.
Power Devil: When men sit upon the throne, when they stand tall at the highest peak of the mountain, they can only find solace in the rumbling thunder in the sky and the demands of those who dare scale high enough to issue challenge!!
His partner slaps the wall and growls to the ceiling, his neck veins on full display.
Superbeast: But! You are weak, SHOOT Project! You bring us no challengers, no teams to devour and pick from our teeth like gristle!! Are you afraid? Do you fear what we will do to you?!
He looks from left to right, his mighty brow furrowed. His next words are in what counts as a whisper between these two.
Superbeast: Do you…fear failure?!
Power Devil: Failure? Failure?! Failure does not exist when someone takes a stand, attempts to lay claim, and fights with honor and passion! That is the great purifying fire of violence, the great purifying lava of combat itself!! Only in not stepping forward and attempting to strip from us our metal crowns do you count yourselves as failures!
Superbeast punches him in the chest with a wet thud. Power Devil returns it, then points to the camera, then to his partner, nodding.
Superbeast: Which brings us to our long time enemies…the Murder Doves! SEGATA! Luto!! You step forward for one! Last! Chance! It is time to settle this, let this be the defining match of our rivalry! Not the Bed of Nails Match at the Bloodbath STAR Tournament at Horinouchi Gymnasium!
Power Devil: Not the countless barbed wire rope bloodfests! Not the finale of the Duos of Death Tag Tournament in Kobe World Hall—piranha tank, tables, ladders, light tubes!!
Superbeast: Not even the match at Korakuen where Asesino de Luto II stabbed me in the shoulder with a hunting knife!! This will top them all! And you will rue, rue coming to these United States to seek your glory!!
Power Devil imposes himself in front of Superbeast, slapping the belt around his waist and grinning.
Power Devil: There will be no gold for you at the end of this, no crown!! Just pain, suffering, and our arms held high! Your ribs will crack, your brains will swell, your lungs will choke on your own bile as we thrash you once again, destroy you in front of the world once more, and etch your name into immortality on this sacred record!!
They’re now side by side, both pointing to the camera, the locomotive having gained full steam.
Superbeast: Prepare yourselves! You will not be known as cowards!
Power Devil: Not as failures!
Superbeast: Not as jackdaws—you are dogs, common curs, jackals the both of you! But you are curs who do not fear the day that they will have to witness–
Power Devil: WITNESS!!
Superbeast: Their own downfall at the hands of the Kings of the Underworld, The Favorite Sons of the Morning’s Son, the Demons of Cyber Roppongi—The Unholy Cyber Army, who have surveyed every team in their path and left them to a person Bowed!
Power Devil: Bleeding!!
They headbutt one another—again—and scream in each other’s faces with a Viking’s rage and delight. Stomping out of frame, we cut away.
The Murder Doves Vs. UNHOLY CYBER ARMY (c)
Eryk Masters: It was brutal, it was bloody, but the Unholy Cyber Army continue their reign as our Tag Team Champions! OG, your thoughts?
Other Guy: I cant really say I’m excited–I’m a Murder Doves P1 and all–but I also can’t deny that it was an all-out war!
Eryk Masters: Whatever your thoughts, we know–what the hell?!
As “Body Hammer” continues and the Cyber Army raise their titles with weary arms, there is a screaming commotion from the audience. Hopping the rail are a giant bearded man and his slight companion: KHARRION!! Johann Deitrich slides into the ring with a chair and sizes up the team as KC Rockefeller waits on the apron, his hands grasping the top rope tightly. The scremas increase as Superbeast and Power Devil slowly turn, drawn to the noise–Johann rushes Superbeast and LEVELS him with a chair shot to the head! KC springboards off the top and twists his body midair, bringing both his feet into Power Devil’s face with a missile dropkick!!
Other Guy: Well those two have been begging people to challenge them since they got those belts and it looks like the checks are getting cashed!!
Johann tosses KC the chair, and he starts bringing the edge down into Power Devil’s midsection repeatedly! Johann starts laying punches to Superbeast, who is trying to get to standing amidst the assault, but the lights clearly aren’t on. With a mighty kick, Power Devil gets enough space between himself and KC to get to his feet, blood streaming down his mouth from his nose. He screams and rushes the smaller half of KHARRION with a lariat, but he’s too exhausted for his normal speed, and KC ducks–then turns and SLAMS Power Devil in the back of the head with another chairshot!!
Eryk Masters: Someone get out here and stop this!
Other Guy: You kidding me man? You try getting in there and breaking that up!
KC grins and looks at Power Devil, then raises the chair up above his head–and brings it down AGAIN into Power Devil’s skull! He stomps him a few times and then hits him AGAIN!! Superbeast finally gets to his feet and almost on instinct brings his forehead into Johann’s face with a nasty headbutt, then immediately clutches his temples with both hands. In that brief moment, the big man lines up and punches Superbeast so hard in the face he crumples to the mat!!
Other Guy: Jesus, did he just cold-cock him?!
Eryk Masters: Someone get on the horn to Grimaldi, something!
Johann scoops up Power Devil and gets him in a standing headscissors, then flips him up high for a powerbomb…KC takes a run and leaps high, connecting with a knee to his face as Johann brings him down to the mat with authority: GREETINGS FROM ROTTENBERG!! They stand tall, surveying the carnage they have caused, hardly even noticing the noise from the crowd as they get blindsided from behind by the Sin City Scoundrels!!
Eryk Masters: It’s absolute anarchy right now! Mike and Luke Sexton are here…saving the day?!
Other Guy: Hey, Breedlove’s at the entrance! YO, JOSH!!
Breedlove is indeed standing at the entrance, clapping his hands and grinning as the Scoundrels brawl with both halves of KHARRION and push them from the ring to the floor. Both teams exchange heated words: Johann and KC screaming bloody murder at the Sextons, and the Scoundrels insulting them and making exaggerated jack off motions. KC starts like he’s going to the ring, but Johann holds him back, their work done for now. Both members of KHARRION hop the rail and back into the audience, still screaming expletives and threats. Michael and Lucas rush to Superbeast and help him up, the big man trying to shake the cobwebs from the hard right he took, his face and chest coated in blood.
Other Guy: It’s like I’ve been telling you man, SCS are philanthropists!
The team talks with Superbeast for a moment, who nods, seemingly indicating that he’s all there, blinking his eyes repeatedly. They turn, intent on seeing to Power Devil–AND LAY INTO SUPERBEAST’S FACE WITH A DOUBLE SUPERKICK!! Superbeast backflips over the top rope, crumpling to the floor!!
Eryk Masters: Oh come on!!
Breedlove, Lucas, and Michael all laugh, the man on the ramp slapping his knee and pointing, as boos begin to cascade over the pair. They haul up Power Devil and whip him into the ropes…Lucas brings him down with a drop toe hold as Michael comes off of the opposite side with a lightning fast V-Trigger: THE SINNISTAR!! They give each other a high five and bow to the crowd, Josh Breedlove waving to the SHOOT Project faithful despite all of the boos and screams. The Sin City Scoundrels snatch up the Tag Team Championships and raise them high–then simultaneously spit on the laid out Power Devil and drop the belts, laughing and rolling out of the ring.
Eryk Masters: The Sin City Scoundrels with a vile, opportunistic display!
Other Guy: I told you, man! They kept asking for challengers!!
As the Scoundrels reach the top of the ramp, Josh Breedlove gives them a double high five. They all raise their arms in triumph as we cut away…
Draco Dragotta Vs. Dr. Ned Reform
Other Guy: The Good Doctor’s dance card is looking to be real busy here in the coming weeks! He’s got a date with Courtney Hatchett and he’ll end up seeing the winner of the Iron Fist Championship match that happens next!
Eryk Masters: Yeah, talk about making your mark and early. Ol’ Ned pissed off Court so bad she’s going to get her piece, and then he got this win here and… man, I don’t know who I’d WANT to face if I were him, from this murderer’s row of competitors. Each of them present a different kind of problem!
Other Guy: That’s the truth. And with the litany of other new competition coming through here, who knows what we’ll see next, PLUS I hear he’s gotten Joshua Breedlove’s attention on Spitter! Popular guy!
Eryk Masters: I mean, let’s be real… Joshua Breedlove would talk to a fence post on Spitter if it insulted him.
Other Guy: True, but man… he caught the attention of two champions and won the right to face a third… that’s… that’s probably unprecedented, right? Have we ever seen that?
Eryk Masters: I’m not really sure, honestly. There was the Triad thing with Real Deal, but that was a little different. This guy has just… kinda come out of nowhere and made waves very quickly. I like it.
Scion has taken two steps back from the rest of the group, as Jonas Coleman watches with wet eyes, in agony. He thought about screaming halfway through the first “session” but no noise came out.
He was stunned.
“Like what you’re seeing so far, you bitch?” Malice, the living embodiment of rage, “this is the magnum fucking opus.”
Jonas cuts his eyes over to where Malice is standing, and Malice does the “spooky” fingers at him. Avarice stands by, also delighted, with a huge huge smile on his face. Jonas looks at him for a long, long time and just shrugs, silently, also closing his eyes.
“Let’s continue, shall we?” Avarice asks, rhetorically, before pressing play.
Malice continues the assault, dragging barbed wire up and down Coleman’s back, leaving long bloody scratches that seep down into the chair.
“Hey there, Diego…how are you?”
Diego slowly allows his eyes to drift down to the doorway where he sees Herald standing there, his arms behind his back. He walks in and smells the air.
Herald: Goodness, Diego, you’ve really stunk up the place.
Herald looks around at the floor.
Herald: And you’ve done one nasty number on our floor. For shame.
Diego squints as he glares at Herald.
Herald: I’d ask how you’re doing, but it seems one of the men wanted to pry loose a few teeth and a chunk of your tongue. Sorry about that, I should have told them to keep your face out of it. The anesthesia was never administered above your collarbone. You’d feel every bit of that. At least we got that doctor in here to vacuum out the blood from your mouth or otherwise you might drown and, truly, we can’t have that.
Herald shakes his head, clearly amused with himself.
Herald: You’re one tough individual, Diego, I’ll give you that. But don’t worry, it’ll all be over soon. At least once we get the message across.
Herald turns to the door as more men pile in. They begin to cut open Diego’s pants and shoes, ripping his clothes from his body.
Herald: Gentlemen…if you cut something else off…maybe break a bone or something. We don’t want this to get tedious.
He slams the door shut. Diego looks up to the men in the room around him. They begin speaking to one another in Spanish. Diego watches as one of the men place something that looks similar to a rail spike on his kneecap. He screams as another man drives it in, one centimeter at a time, into Diego’s knee.
Other Guy: Whatever this is that they’re making him watch is… it’s totally fucked Jonas Coleman up. Like Eryk said a few segments ago, he’s obviously getting beaten up as he watches whatever this video is, but… if you look at his eyes… it’s like there’s nothing there.
Eryk Masters: This is what happens with Adrian Corazon, OG. The guy just… he’s the living embodiment of evil. I HATE Adrian Corazon. He’s a snake.
Other Guy: I can only hope that whenever this was recorded, Jonas is… well, he’s not wherever that is. This is hard to watch and we have to keep on with the show.
Azraith DeMitri Vs. Arthur Pleasant Vs. Bonne Blue Vs. Dan Stein
Other Guy: What a bloodbath! What a crazy finish!
Eryk Masters: I couldn’t believe that Azraith went nearly 45 minutes in that matchup, holy shit.
Other Guy: No kidding about that. We have an Iron Fist Champion, and his name, unfortunately, is Arthur Pleasant. I was absolutely pulling for DeMitri there. I think everyone was, honestly.
Eryk Masters: Everyone but Bonnie Blue, Arthur Pleasant, and Dan Stein, I’d imagine. I definitely was too. I wanted to see Az complete that bucket list of his, but tonight was not that night. That’s a bummer.
Other Guy: You know what that means though, right E? It’s almost time for the main event of the evening, the WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP!
Eryk Masters: You got that right, and I’ve been jonesing for this match ever since it was announced. It’s going to be–
The beating stopped.
Jonas looked up in clear distress and pain, to Adrian Corazon, who stared blankly at him, offering no words. He looked to Avarice, then to Malice, and then over to Scion, who was nearly completely out of view.
He shook his head. This was not what he was expecting. He expected to be beaten to a bloody mess. He expected them to fuck with him, but this? Showing him this video… of his friend… his partner…
This was too much.
He wasn’t allowed to think about it any further, because Avarice and his stupid gleeful face pressed play once again, and Malice went back to work.
We see a pickup truck driving recklessly in the desert in the dead of night. It barrels far away from the lights of the world behind it. After traveling for what seems like hours, it finally comes upon a row of four black Lincolns. The truck slams on the brakes, dust billowing throughout the scene. We see several men standing in front of the headlights for the Lincolns. The four men in the truck pile out, saying nothing to the men they have driven to. They open the truck bed and throw out a bloody and broken body. For a moment, it looks as if it were dead. Then…slowly…a groan escapes Diego Reyes’ bloodied mouth.
The men pick Diego up, dragging him to the feet of the men standing in front of the Lincolns. One of the men is the Herald himself. He stands there, looking down at Diego. His eyes dart up to the men.
Herald: Is he dead?
One man shakes his head no.
Herald: Can he speak?
Herald grabs Diego by his hair.
Herald: Can you speak, Diego?
Diego Reyes: ….f.fffff.f…..f.ff….
Diego Reyes: …..ffffff…ffffuuuck…fuck…you.
He chuckles, proud of himself. Herald sighs.
Herald: Did Jonas Coleman really put you up to this, Diego?
Diego Reyes: …fuck…you.
His words are stronger. He looks up at Herald. The men keep his broken arms wrapped up. His knee is bleeding on the sand. One foot is gone.
Herald: It’s been a long week, Diego. Don’t make tonight any longer.
Diego Reyes: Where…where is he?
Diego Reyes: M…M…Master.
Diego looks past Herald to the growling, booming voice behind him. A man garbed in all black, similar to Herald, with blazing orange eyes, glaring down at Diego Reyes.
The Master: You have come closer than any before you, Diego. I decided it was only fair we meet.
Diego Reyes: …hey.
Diego laughs, blood pouring from his mouth now.
The Master: Your brother, Jonas Coleman, has sealed your fate as well as his own, Diego.
Diego says nothing.
The Master: SHOOT is not a place for someone like you. It is mine. I had shown your ilk kindness, Diego. I allowed your kind to come to my paradise. I did not extend that kindness to all. Instead, you and yours spat in my face. That is what you want to do? Burn my paradise to the ground?
Diego Reyes: No…no…no…not…no…
The Master kneels down, his masked face leveled with Diego’s bloody face.
The Master: I will not let your ilk burn my paradise to the ground, Diego. No. You see, Diego, if you want a war, if you want a revolution, if you want to stand against me, you need to know two things. One, what you are fighting for. Two, what you are willing to lose.
The Master stands behind Diego, whispering in his ear.
The Master: Do you think Jonas was willing to lose you?
A thin, sharp blade erupts from Diego’s throat. Diego feels the cold metal in his hot throat. He feels everything. He can’t speak. He can’t react. His eyes grow wide and a tear finally falls from his eye, mixing with the blood pouring from his throat.
The Master: Before you bleed out, Diego, I want you to know something.
The Master slowly pulls back his hood and removes his mask. He pushes Diego over onto his back, forcing Diego to lock eyes with him. Diego reaches out uselessly. He wants to throttle the life out of the Master, but he sees the world fading from his eyes.
The Master: Your hands, feet, and head will be burned to ashes, Diego. Just like your hopes and aspirations to revolt against my will. Your body will be left out here in some pit we will dig. No one will know what became of you, Diego. You will not matter, you will not make a difference, and soon…all you love, all you believe in, will burn right along with you.
The Master steps over Diego’s body as it twitches its last few moments of life away.
The Master: They are close, my Herald. Tell the others.
Herald: Yes, my Master.
The Master pulls the hood back over his head and slides into the back of one of the Lincolns. The Herald gets into another. Soon, all of the men leave the men from the truck behind as two of them begin to dig, the other two begin to carve.
The tape stops and Jonas stares at Corazon, no blinking, just a white-eyed stare. Corazon just smiles and pulls a thin, sharp blade from his pocket.
Jonas’ eyes go even wider.
With a quick thrust, Adrian Corazon stabs the top of the television, shorting it out. He leaves it sitting there as he stares at Jonas Coleman. This knife was a symbol, no… the murder weapon. Corazon looks to the knife and then back to Jonas Coleman once more and then he just… takes a bow.
Jonas slumps into the chair, accepting the truth in front of him. He was looking directly at Diego Reyes’ killer, and the other four around him?
They were just pawns in this game.
Scion walks forward, in shock.
“I… I’ll dump him off. Put his… put the black cloth bag on his head,” he said, and Malice complied, but not before getting one more shot in on Jonas across his face.
“Load him into the van.”
As Scion gets into the driver’s side, he pauses for a moment and pulls his phone out of his pocket. He goes searching for a contact, one he hasn’t spoken to in months.
He opens his text messages and starts a new one.
“Dad, it’s James. I’ve… I messed up. This is bad… I.. I’m bringing Jonas… Joe… to the Epicenter. I will leave him at the entrance. He… he needs to go to the hospital.”
He clicks send, waits a couple of moments, and waits for the message to show “read” before starting the van up.
Eryk Masters: I can’t… what? I saw a… a knife… the TV… I’m not even sure what to make of that.
Other Guy: Look, it’s clear that there’s something they made Jonas Coleman watch that they didn’t want the world to see. That much is obvious. Adrian Corazon perpetuated something in 2016 that has clearly rocked Coleman’s world.
Eryk Masters: Of additional interest… Scion’s reaction. Did you catch who he texted?
Other Guy: Nah, the video cut right around that same time, right?
Eryk Masters: Almost… contact said “Dad”. I’m pretty sure, anyway. I’m not 100% sure, though, but I think Scion reached out to Josh.
Other Guy: Now that… that would be quite the development.
X-Calibur stands in front of a dirtied full-length mirror inside of the men’s SHOOT Project locker room. Though it is communal, there wasn’t another soul in sight. Just X and his mirror image staring at one another while X wrapped his wrists in pink and purple tape.
He saw a version of himself in the mirror that differed from what stood in front of it.
Mirror X-Calibur smirked back at Real X-Calibur as blood dripped down his hands. Steel chair clutched between them as strands of his long, wet, dark brown hair dangled in front of his sinister face. For a moment, he missed his long hair as he ran his hand through his short-length mohawk.
He could hear himself talking to OutKast in the image, with whom he just put down in a chair assisted X-Terminator. Doing so set up the finals of the Resurrection tournament against Ben Jackman.
Mirror X-Calibur: Guess X is just another word for better than you… bitch.
He remembered it vividly. As if it just happened.
Mac called it on commentary, “BLACKOUT BOMB… NO, X ESCAPES AND LANDS ON HIS FEET!!! CUTTER!! HOLY SHIT!!! HE DROPPED HIM WITH THE X-TERMINATOR!! HE COVERS JACKMAN
ONE… TWO… THREE!!!
X HAS DONE IT!!! HE IS FINALLY SHOOT PROJECT WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION!!”
Real X-Calibur shook his head.
X-Calibur: Fuck that.
Mirror X-Calibur metamorphosed into another version of Mirror X-Calibur. This time, his hair was spikey and messy. Blood dripped down his hands again. Steel chair gripped tightly between his hands as Mirage, Mason Pierce, and Azrael Goeren all stand beside him. The Hierarchy. More echoes of a time long passed.
Mirror X-Calibur: I will win the Redemption Rumble… for that is why I am the Redeemer of SHOOT Project.
He could hear Masters shouting with excitement, “ONE!!! TWO!!! X SHOULDERS OUT FROM CADE SYDAL AND THROWS A LEG UP, SLIDING HIS SHIN UNDERNEATH THE CHAMPION’S CHIN!!!
Mirror X-Calibur could feel his own blood pour out of his head as he held Death’s Door, known then as the Bite of the Basilisk, with a death grip. Trivia Time: this moment is why he eventually changed the name. Because the maneuver had the power to bring death to the careers of many.
“CADE TAPS!!! CADE TAPS!!! NEW CHAMPION!!! NEW CHAMPION!!!”
Real X-Calibur shook his head again.
X-Calibur: Fuck that.
All of a sudden there was a knock on the door. X said nothing. There was another knock.
X-Calibur: For fuck’s sake, it’s OPEN.
The door opens and Jay Martinez walks in. X-Calibur could see it was Loco Martinez as he eyed up his long time friend, even if Jay himself did not, or maybe simply refused to see it.
Jay Martinez: Sup?
Jay Martinez: Hey!?
Jay Martinez: Just not your usual enthusiastic self. Especially for the rarity of me comin’ ‘round these here parts.
X smirks at Jay’s horrid cowboy affectation.
X-Calibur: Haha. Sorry, man. Just thinking is all.
Jay Martinez: About?
X said nothing. He just continued looking into the dirtied mirror.
Jay Martinez: Jesus. Speaking of 9 years, when was the last time somebody cleaned that thing?
Jay walked up closer to X-Calibur. It saddened X to see his friend, his old tag team partner, in such poor physical shape.
X-Calibur: Dude. We gotta get some JJY for you.
Jay Martinez: TDJJY?
X-Calibur: Yeah. The Defiler Jonny Johnson Yoga. I heard it’s a thing.
Jay Martinez: Yeah that’s a hard pass for me.
They shared a laugh but X kept looking at the mirror. Each fingerprint that sullied the glass told a story of someone who walked through these hallowed halls.
X-Calibur: It’s funny, man.
Jay Martinez: Hm?
X-Calibur: I’ve held the World Title here twice, yet I’ve never truly won it.
Jay Martinez: What do you mean?
X-Calibur: I just… look at the first time I won it. I turned my back on my own mentor. Destroyed him. Put a clear shot to championship gold over something much more meaningful. Pathetic.
Jay said nothing and just… listened.
X-Calibur: Second time? It took Kenji Yamada taking out Jonas Coleman and Cade being distracted for me to claim it. I’m pretty sure I was neck-deep into booze and drugs, too. Fuckin’ Hierarchy. Fuckin’ Goeren.
Jay Martinez: We all do shitty things at some point. Nature of the business. Look at our respective track records. WITH each other. Against each other. Last time I set foot in THIS place? I set out to right wrongs. After all the heinous shit we did to Maya… I was able to show him, SHOOT, anyone watching who I REALLY was.
X-Calibur: Ain’t disagreeing with you. Just sayin’. Would’ve been nice to do it… better. To do it… FOR something. Not IN SPITE of something.
Jay Martinez: It’s never too late to be a better you. What do you think tonight is? If this isn’t your chance to, no pun intended, REDEEM yourself? Then I’ll eat a fuggin’ bug.
X laughed. Imitating ANARCHY! Was always a point of focus resynchronization for each of them.
X-Calibur: Ain’t disagreeing with that either.
Jay Martinez: But I mean, it’s just a chance.
He sighed and patted X on his shoulder.
Jay Martinez: Meaning, you’re probably gonna lose. As in, you’re going to do the opposite of win.
X laughed his ass off and finally turned around, away from the mirror. Smirking…
X-Calibur: Fuck that.
X-Calibur Vs. Buck Dresden (c)
Buck drops to his hands and knees and lays the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship on the mat between himself and the prone X-Calibur. Buck looks over to X as he stirs. “Man of Constant Sorrow” kicks in and Buck begins to nod his head.
Eryk Masters: What a match!
Other Guy: Man, I don’t know if it’s cooler that X still has it or that Buck took it to him like that!
Buck sits up on his knees and throws the title over his shoulder, sucking wind as X put it on him in that match. Buck watches X as he begins to stir. Buck grabs a hold of the ring ropes and pulls himself up. After a beat he staggers to X and reaches down to lift him to his feet. X quickly tears Buck’s grip away and falls backwards into the turnbuckle. Buck stares at him, exhausted. X, clutching his neck, walks up to Buck. “Man of Constant Sorrow” dies down. The two of them are glaring at one another. X slaps the faceplate of the World Championship and begins to nod his head. He offers Buck his hand.
Eryk Masters: Look at this. THIS is what SHOOT’s all about!
Buck accepts the handshake and “Man of Constant Sorrow” kicks back up again, the two men embracing in a hug in the center of the ring. Shots are shown of the fans clapping and showing their appreciation for this show of respect between the legend and the possible legend in the making. Suddenly, the camera shifts to the entrance, as does Buck’s attention. Out from the back comes…CK BUTCHER.
Eryk Masters: What’s he doing out here?!
Butcher saunters down to the ring, applauding as Buck stares daggers through him. X motions for Butcher to come get in the ring and get it on, but Buck pats his shoulder, shaking his head. X points to CK Butcher and motions between the two of them to take the fight to him if he tries anything. Buck waves X off and points to Butcher and then back to himself. He pats X on the chest and asks him to let him have it.
Other Guy: Well that’s stupid. CK Butcher is fresh, ready, and he can crush both these guys. He needs all the help he can get!
X rolls to the ring apron and hops down, glaring at CK Butcher, who scoffs at the Instant Heat member. X and CK stare at one another for a long moment before X shows him how many fucks he has to give: one by way of the middle finger. X continues on his way as Butcher turns his attention back to Buck, who is staring him down. Butcher enters the ring and the two men are eye to eye.
Eryk Masters: Our Reckoning Day main event right there!
Neither man speaks for about fifteen seconds, which feels like an eternity. Slowly, Butcher looks down at the World Championship and then back up to Buck’s eyes. Buck reacts by slowly lifting the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship above his head between the two men. Butcher begins to nod and starts talking to Buck. Buck starts to do the same. Quickly, it becomes an argument between the two men. We can’t hear what they’re saying but as if simultaneously, they start slinging rights and lefts at one another!
Other Guy: Forget Reckoning Day, it’s happening now!
Butcher starts to get the upper hand and steps back, kicks Buck in the midsection, and sets him up for the Meathook!
Eryk Masters: MEATHOOK!
Quickly, Buck spins out and in one fluid motion takes Butcher’s arm for the ripcord into the short arm clothesline he calls the Buck Shot!
Other Guy: BUCK SHOT!
Butcher DUCKS the Buck Shot and the two men are back at it with hard shots over and over at one another. Quickly, referees and road agents flood the ring, separating the two men. Butcher stops all aggression immediately and stands still, the referees between them and holding them back. Buck glares at Butcher and reaches down, picks the World Championship up from the mat, and ascends the corner the referees have backed him into.
Eryk Masters: They have been scouting one another, probably since Redemption, OG. Butcher’s not here to play games with Buck and Buck isn’t going to let Butcher steamroll over him!
CK Butcher stands in the corner, a smile and devilish smirk on his face as Buck sits on the top turnbuckle across the ring from him, lifting the World Championship high, pointing to Butcher and then to the title itself.
Eryk Masters: SHOOT Faithful, the march to Reckoning Day begins here! We’re outta time, goodnight!
We end a shot over Buck’s shoulder, over the sea of referees and road agents between the two, staring dead into the eyes of the merciless number one contender…CK Butcher.