The door connecting the parking deck to the Epicenter swings open violently. It bangs against the wall before the door slows itself, trying to restrain against the chaos and violence behind it. Without much warning beyond that, Void appears. He staggers forward, catching himself against the door. He seems out of breath, ragged, tired. He is alone. He remains dressed to compete, but he isn’t the same as he has been. He glances over to the camera, catching his eye with ours, and grimaces.
Void: Oh…it’s you.
He smiles a courteous, almost pained little smile.
Void: I was told…I needed to be here. Something about a match. Am I correct in this?
There is no one to answer him save the camera, who says nothing in response.
Void: Why…do you bother? Why do any of you bother? What does it matter? Oh, I am teaming up with a Butcher against a Butcher and a Buck, am I correct? And yet…somewhere in the hellscape is my father. My…father.
He catches himself.
Void: Let’s…dispense with the simplistic mentalities. Let’s ignore the fact that I took some time to myself after my home was savagely taken from me in a wretched little fire. Let’s ignore the fact that Reckoning Day is coming for all of us faster than we care to admit. What will happen to us, hm? What becomes of this company after this supposed important little moment in time they brand as a day of reckoning?
Void stops and presses himself against the wall. The firm and unforgiving cinder blocks feel good against his sweaty back. Cold. It makes him smile an actual genuine smile.
Void: Am I supposed to…I don’t know…challenge Obsidian to a match at Reckoning Day or something? Am I supposed to seek some measure of vengeance against that evil bastard? Or should I just focus instead of standing with the New Vanguard?
He leans in.
Void: To tell the truth? I don’t have the slightest…fucking…clue what’s going on. With them, with…
He motions around himself.
Void: …all of this, with me, with him, none of it. No, they line me up with someone I hardly know to face the two superheroes of this stupid company so that Jonas Coleman can get his hands on the last member of us that he hasn’t fucked up and to give Bucky a lovely moment to stand with his brother and they can, I don’t know, make out or some such.
He stops, looking behind himself at the door he just walked through. He chuckles, as if he is kidding himself.
Void: Oh…ohhhh…whatever shall you do, SHOOT Project, when the shadows overtake you? Whatever…shall you do when I am finally…me?
He grins to the camera.
Void: There are no strings to hold me down. No no no…no strings.
Void: Soon, baby. Soon.
He saunters off. The camera focuses on the wall he was resting on for a moment until the lights begin to flicker. Suddenly, they go out. Within a second, they come back on and OBSIDIAN is there. He stares blankly at the camera.
Obsidian: I’ve got no strings…so I have fun.
He slowly holds his arms up to his sides. He looks to both sides and then back to the camera.
Obsidian: I’m not tied up…to anyone.
Flicker. He is gone.
Eryk Masters: Dear god… that gave me the heebiejeebies.
Other Guy: That’s how we’re starting things off tonight, apparently, as we get into the first Revolution of the new year, with Void in the main event with C.K. Butcher against the Bad Ass Brotherhood. But first, Jacob Mephisto and Dan Stein square off!
Dan Stein Vs. Jacob Mephisto
The opening chords to “25 Years” by Pantera hits and the crowd goes, for the lack of a better term…ape shit!
Eryk Masters: And here comes one of SHOOT Project’s newest Hall of Fame inductees!
Other Guy: Have to say, feels good hearing X-Calibur’s name and the words “Hall of Fame” following it. Whatever things I may not like personally about X, he more than deserves the honor.
Eryk Masters: You’re far from the only one who feels that way, OG!
Other Guy: And look at that. Already a new shirt!
X-Calibur lets his entrance theme go for a moment or two before finally stepping out from the Gorilla position. He wears his typical street garb — jeans, black and white Under Armour trainers, a new “HXLL OF FAME” tee, and a charcoal black SHOOT Project zip-up hoodie. Pyro explodes in every which direction, unphasing X’s focused countenance as he marches down the ramp towards the ringside area.
Eryk Masters: X seems pretty… focused. Think it has anything to do with what he did to Loco Martinez at Ruination 2?
Other Guy: Well, obviously. Verbally chastising and then hitting Loco with an X-Terminator was pretty uncalled for, in my humble opinion. Maybe he’s out here to apoloigize?
Eryk Masters: I think you know as well as I do that X did not intend for that to go down the way it did. But yeah, you could be right about X making amends here. There’s just this look on his face.
Rolling under the bottom rope, X rushes toward the hard camera and jumps to the middle rope, balancing a knee on the top while raising a fist for everyone watching in attendance and at home. Climbing down from the middle rope once the SHOOT fanatics obtain their photo op, X motions for a microphone. The time keeper hands it off to a cameraman, who then hands it to X himself.
X-Calibur: Alright, look. First thing’s first… Loc? I’m sorry, man. Things… things got a little bit out of hand between us.
He looks down towards the mat, processing his words as they come to him.
X-Calibur: You know as well as I do, as well as ANYBODY in the Epicenter, and as well as ANYBODY watching at HOME, that I said what I said just to rile you the fuck up. Calling you fat and whatever the fuck else I said… come on, man. You really think that’s what I think about you? After all the shit we’ve been through together? I just… I see our careers lined up, side by side, and I can’t help but get a little goddamn frustrated. I shouldn’t have to be fucking CHASING YOU, Goddammit! I shouldn’t have to be the one lifting YOU UP in our friendship. You’re younger than me and you’ve, dare I say, accomplished a hell of a lot more than I have in this business in terms of impact and idolatry.
He pauses and just shakes his head.
X-Calibur: With SHOOT Project being back, that should’ve meant LOCO FUCKING MARTINEZ WAS BACK. When I got myself back into ring shape and came to this place’s newest revival? I was prepared, nay excited, to watch back to back matches of you facing some of the the newest members of SHOOT’s rogue’s gallery in CK Butcher and Charlie Jay Hitchens. I was willing and ready to accept the fact that you, once again, had already beaten me to the punch in some type of ceremonious arrival. Yet, when I got here?
He looks deflated. Defeated, even.
X-Calibur: No Loco. No masked JL Martz trying to pull one over on anybody. No second generation Loco Martinez Jr. running around with Papa Martinez in his corner like nepotism was suddenly in style here in Vegas. Nope. Not a whisper or even a fucking murmur of the whereabouts of one Loco Martinez.
Did he retire?
Did he die?
Well… [pointing at his chest] I… fucking cared. Cause you’re among the best of the best, man. You always have been, even if others didn’t acknowledge it.
He looks out at the sea of SHOOT Project fans all holding onto his every word.
X continues just as we hear the crowd beginning to rumble over something.
Eryk Masters: Uh, there’s quite the commotion happening in the crowd right now..?
X-Calibur: But that’s okay, because–
There’s a blur of a knee driving into the temple of X-Calibur!
Other Guy: Holy shit!!
The springboard flying knee just absolutely levels X-Calibur to the point where the impact causes X to flip forward onto his back. The Epicenter’s rumbling turns into a strange, confused mix of gasping, roaring, and booing as Jay Martinez stands over his long time friend with a conflicted look at having dropped the Hall of Famer with the “Zombie Kill of the Week”. He runs his hand over his messy hair before slowly dropping to a knee and picking up the mic X-Calibur was just speaking into.
Jay Martinez: Consider this my receipt…
He takes a pregnant pause and nods to himself.
Jay Martinez … AND my RSVP for Reckoning Day!!
He cocks his head to the side with a smirk as the roof becomes UNGLUED at the announcement.
Jay Martinez: Sorry it’s late. The Postal Service is in shambles.
He drops the mic next to X’s head as “We R Who We R” by KE$HA begins to blare over the Epicenter’s PA system. Jay leaves the ring as X-Calibur begins to sit up, leaving the audience in a curious state of excitement, shock, and confusion.
Eryk Masters: Wow. I really didn’t think Loco was going to accept X’s challenge, nevermind in the way that he just did!
Other Guy: Looks like X succeeded in what he obviously set out to do: bringing back Loco Martinez to SHOOT Project..
Shaking his head, X holds the right side of his skull and looks up at the EpiTron playing the replay of the Zombie Kill of the Week.
He nods his head in acceptance, gritting his teeth in agony.
Eryk Masters: Well now it’s OFFICIALLY Official! Loco Martinez accepted X-Calibur’s challenge. We’ll see these two square off!
Other Guy: And it’s not simply a “squaring off” between these two legendary competitors. It’s the FIRST TIME in SHOOT Project HISTORY that we get to see these two do it at RECKONING DAY.
“OKAY, MOTHERFUCKER!! OKAY!! I SEE YOU, ALRIGHT!! I SEE YOU!!”
X-Calibur yells out at Loco Martinez, who has stopped at the top of the rampway. The camera then catches a split-screen moment between the two: X sitting up in the ring, holding onto the side of his head, and Loco Martinez at the top of the ramp, patting his own knee and stretching out his leg as he shows the world he’s back.
“Ain’t it funny…”
At the top right of the screen, the words Recorded Previously fade slowly in, as does the scene itself. The setting comes into focus, that of an unnamed training facility, and reveals a young woman sitting – head down, hands working on unwrapping her arm tape – on the edge of a wrestling ring. The sheen of sweat glistens off her tanned skin and a few strands of blonde hair have escaped her ponytail, falling unbothered around her face.
Daryn Thompson’s not much of a talker. Sure, she can talk a barrel of shit when she needs to; growing up with brothers meant she had to not only hold her own in their sibling scraps but to also keep them in line with a sharp word. When it comes to competing, though, the Texas Technician has always vastly preferred to let her fists do the talking. It’s what made her a star in Orlando, and what shot her to new heights in Japan.
Shut up, and do the work.
And know when to best pick your shots to put a bitch down…
Daryn Thompson: Ain’t it funny that I came to SHOOT Project a few weeks ago, had a helluva match against Kowloon Zombie…my first one Stateside in over three years…and now I gotta hear some yappin’ dog actin’ like she knows some shit when all she did was show her whole ass.
Her hand is freed of tape. Daryn flexes her fingers, balls up the used bits, and moves on to her other hand.
Daryn Thompson: Congratulations, Bonnie, you read a bio. Bless your heart, you did it poorly, but you sure did it. I didn’t expect you to have memorized my greatest hits, or know that I’ve been fighting folks of all sexes and genders since I broke into this business, but that’s alright. I’m fine with bein’ underestimated. I’m fine with you assumin’ that since I held a few women’s titles that fightin’ the ladies is all I’ve been doin’ with my time, and then in the exact same breath not realizing that my tag team partner is a man. Can’t really fault you there; you’ve been a little busy. I know shufflin’ cards and lookin’ pensively out a window is very important. What do we call that, again?
The tape is now gone from her left. Thompson squishes the parts together and alley-oops them over the recording device. There’s a smack as the tape hits skin, signaling there’s someone else present.
Voice: Clown shit.
Daryn chuckles, softly.
Daryn Thompson: That’s right. Clown shit. Didn’t realize I joined the circus. Wasn’t my intention to be a part of any vaudeville act, but I guess when you’ve got a snake lady entwined with …
Daryn Thompson: …“literal vampires,” then you just gotta take the surprises as they come.
There’s a snort off-camera, but Daryn presses on.
Daryn Thompson: You’re gonna find out real fast that I got a few surprises of my own for ya, though, Bonnie. I don’t care where you – or anyone else – is from, or how big, small, tough, or weak they are; it don’t matter to me. You and I don’t have anythin’ in common except our hometown and the sex on our birth certificates; I’m a class unto myself…I’ve been a wrestler for six years and I’m more relevant yesterday, today, and in the future than you’re ever gonna be. All the twisty metaphors and pretty lil’ language that drip from your mouth and don’t mean shit ain’t gonna save you from me rippin’ your arm from your body and beatin’ you in the mouth with it. And then when I’m done, just for funsies?
A small smile forms on the Daughter of Dust’s lips.
Daryn Thompson: I’m gonna cut the head off the snake and make a new pair of boots with your skin.
“Nice job, kiddo,”
Lindsay Troy, SHOOT Project’s latest signee, detaches the iPhone 12 Pro Max from its tripod and swipes the recording app out of the way while Daryn hops off the apron and walks over. She grabs a sweatshirt and a bottle of water from her duffle bag and then stops next to the Queen of the Ring, who is sending the vignette into production.
Daryn Thompson: Wasn’t too mean?
Lindsay Troy: Well, if I’m calling a spade a spade, it’s probably the meanest I’ve ever heard you be.
Daryn winces at her mentor while Lindsay laughs, pleased.
Lindsay Troy: Do it more often. There’s a place for the good guys who are pure of heart and who take no shit.
Daryn Thompson: Thanks, LT. Makes me feel validated. You gonna do one now?
Lindsay Troy: Nah. This is your time today. SHOOT’s gonna be hearing from me plenty soon enough…
And fade out for real.
RAIKO Vs. Kitsune
Eryk Masters: RAIKO has won over Kitsune, who can’t be too happy with the results tonight.
RAIKO’s arm is held high and she is grinning her sadistic grin as GODSPEED members Fuego Eterno and Akuma Lee enter the ring, checking on Kitsune who is groggy but motioning for a microphone.
Other Guy: It looks like Kitsune has something on his mind. I guess he’s gonna sign that post nup or something.
Eryk Masters: Will you stop?
Akuma hands Kitsune a microphone as Fuego helps Kitsune to his feet.
His head is bowed to her as he catches his breath.
Kitsune: I don’ think you…know…what this meant…to me.
RAIKO glares at him as Fuego helps keep him from falling over.
Kitsune: Couldn’t beat that big Irish fuck…can’t beat you…
Kitsune: How about…you cut me some slack, huh? For all our good times we had. Give me…another shot.
RAIKO shakes her head no as Kitsune is now standing on his own.
Kitsune: RAIKO. Give me…another shot.
RAIKO sneers at the notion and shakes her head no again.
RAIKO points her finger to her chin as if she is deep in thought. Then, she shakes her head no again. Kitsune nods at her decision.
Akuma Lee suddenly CLUBS RAIKO in the back with a double axe handle blow RIGHT into Kitsune’s vicious flying knee strike! RAIKO is down on the mat and the fans are NOT happy! Kitsune stands over her, microphone in hand.
Kitsune: Babygirl…maybe it’s time we saw other people.
Kitsune drops down and wails on her. He leans back and speaks up again.
Kitsune: It’s just…it ain’t workin’ out.
Kitsune: Tell you what, though. At Reckoning Day…you ain’t gon’ have to give me another shot. Because…I’m gonna take it. Call it Couples Therapy.
He goes to hit her again, but stops and ruffles her hair. Kitsune looks over to Fuego and then to Akuma, who are looking at the booing faces of the Faithful glaring back at them.
Kitsune: Oh…oh y’all mad?
He nods his head as Fuego and Akuma help him to his feet.
Kitsune: We just gettin’ started.
The three of them slide from the ring and leave RAIKO in the middle of the ring, unconscious. The camera focuses on Kitsune’s masked face as he saunters backwards to the exit, his point made.
Daryn Thompson Vs. Bonnie Blue
Backstage, we see the Sin City Scoundrels resting on some production crates, joking with one another.
Michael Sexton: –and then he said, “I’d eat your pussy but I’m fasting!”
Lucas Sexton: Holy fuck, he really said that?!
Michael Sexton: Hahaha, yeah man. To that new Ames chick, he’s got a thing for her.
Michael’s laughter trails off as his eyes find something that takes his attention. He taps Lucas’ midsection, nodding in the opposite direction. Both Lucas and the camera turn their attention and behold a hulking duo at the opposite end of the hall: CYBER Superbeast and CYBER Power Devil, dressed in their civilian standard of workout pants and plunging gymnasium tank tops. They’re sipping water and finishing up a conversation with some road agents, laughing, the Tag Team championships around their waists. Finally, Power Devil claps one of the men’s shoulders.
Power Devil: Hahaha, I couldn’t move my leg for a half a day!! No more frying pan matches for these guys! Hahaha.
The conversation reaches it’s end, and the Unholy Cyber Army begins to walk down the hall. The Sextons follow them intently, and the Champs throw them a nod as they pass them and continue down the hall.
Michael Sexton: Looking forward to taking those sweet, sweet belts off of you two boys.
Lucas Sexton: Haha yeah, gonna be really nice when these two scoundrels knock off the “SHOOT Project Tag Team of the YEAR” for 2020. Pave the way for 2021’s team of the year, my dudes.
The Cyber Army stop. They take a moment, then they turn, both smirking. They puff their chests out, sighing.
Superbeast: Power Devil, brother…did you hear something?
Power Devil: You know, I could have sworn that a team that hasn’t bested us and has no real accolades to their name might have been speaking to the Demons of Cyber Roppongi in an incredibly cocky tone. But I’m sure it was just a mosquito.
Lucas Sexton: I’ll just say it. Fuck you, you stank ass lil bitch.
Michael Sexton: Well god damn, but… I agree. Imagine puffing your chest out because you’ve beaten some Chicago indy teams and MCGA. Wow.
Michael writes out the word WOW in the air, with his finger. Power Devils smile falters, and theres a flash of the veins in his neck, but Superbeast steadies him with a hand on the shoulder.
Superbeast: C’mon, brother. There’s no glory in defeating these two brigands.
They both begin to turn.
Lucas Sexton: Wait… wait… are the BIG BAD TEAM OF THE YEAR CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD… turning their BACK on two brigands?
Michael Sexton: Looks like they are, Luke. Like a couple of lil thin neck chickens.
Michael Sexton begins to flap.
Lucas Sexton: What came first? The chicken or the egg?
Michael Sexton: Doesn’t fucking matter, because these two poultry pieces of shit are walking away. BOK BOK. Why don’t you two fuck knuckles come here and we’ll just pluck the feathers from your chicken throats?
Power Devil turns to rush them–Superbeast holds him back! The Sextons hold their hands up, audibly saying “oooh”. Superbeast sets his jaw and imposes his body between his partner and the team.
He raises his head up and screams, his eyes wild.
Superbeast: YOU ARE LOWER THAN DOGS!! You have achieved nothing, you are the pet lizards to the smuggest snake in the entire company!! You dare lay insults to our face?! YOU WILL BE FED A DIET OF NOTHING BUT SUFFERING!!
Power Devil grabs him by the shoulders and pulls him away, replacing him directly in front of the scoundrels, the veins in his temple pulsing in rage.
Power Devil: You dare?! You dare?! You brigands, you jackdaws, you curs!! You will be broken and twisted into Havel-inspired postmodern sculpture in the medium of limbs, blood, and pain!!
The Scoundrels smirk.
Michael Sexton: Oh, yeah? Make me.
Power Devil: NAME THE TIME!!
Superbeast: NAME THE DAY!!
Michael and Lucas look at one another.
Michael Sexton: Reckoning Day.
Lucas Sexton: January 23rd. Belts on the line. Unless you two are a bunch of little bitches.
Both members of UCA lean in close, cutting into the Sexton’s personal space. There’s a long moment where both Power Devil and Superbeast stare murderous fire into their eyes. Their fists clench and unclench. Their breath comes in ragged. Finally, in unison, they nod–then they turn and stomp off in fury.
Teresa Ames Vs. Lucy Sixx
We cut back to the back where we see the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship resting on the shoulder of none other than Buck Dresden. Buck has on a Bad Ass Brotherhood skullie and his usual gear on. Other than that, the man is sitting on a box, resting against the wall, his head leaned back. It is a simple backdrop, but then again…this is a simple matter to him. Combat. The ongoing ever neverending battle.
Buck Dresden: In a few minutes I’m gonna be out in that ring with my brother against two scary bastards, one of which I’ve got on my card for Reckoning Day. In just a few minutes, CK Butcher is gonna lock up with me officially for the very first time. He’s gonna see me an’ focus in on me an’ things are never gonna be the same.
Buck Dresden: Seems like ever since I became Champion there’s never been a moment where I can breathe an’ just enjoy the moment. That’s to be expected because you see…to be the champion you have to be ready. All the time. Never restin’ on yer laurels. Ready for the predators, ready for the scavengers, ever…ready.
He nods, getting into the feel of the things he’s saying.
Buck Dresden: But see…I like that. I like never stopping. I live for things like this. CK Butcher, Alden Butcher, Jonas the Butcher…fact is I’ve lived in this slaughterhouse my entire run as champion an’ if you think that suddenly ends at Reckoning Day because CK Butcher’s earned his shot against me? Nah. I don’t live just for the violence of this. I don’t live just for the war. I live for the end of it all. I live for the victory. I live for the Buck Shot, the Buckinghammer, the Cattle Driver, I live for any move that gets me the end result I need an’ the end I need…sees me retain this title.
Buck leans forward, dropping the World Championship to his lap.
Buck Dresden: I became champion when SHOOT was still lookin’ for its legs. We didn’t know what this was, necessarily. We had heroes, monsters, whatever, but we didn’t have a vision. Just wanted to have a little fun, tell our stories, love our ambition. Now, same as it always is, SHOOT’s back at the forefront of professional wrestling. Everybody’s asking about SHOOT. Everybody’s talkin’ about SHOOT. They wanna know how to get in, they wanna fight here, they wanna be a part of this. I don’t blame ‘em. It’s 2021. Brand new year. New faces are gonna show up. New people are gonna change the game here.
Buck looks down at the World title.
Buck Dresden: One thing’ll remain the same. This title…an’ the tough son of a bitch who holds it. Come Reckoning Day, CK Butcher’s gonna see just who he’s dealin’ with. Tonight he gets an appetizer. Then, CK, we get to see if you’re the Lord of the Flies…or just a fly hoverin’ over a pile of shit. See, I don’t fear you. I respect you. I know you’re capable of great things. You’re an award winnin’ bad ass mother fucker what don’t take shit from nobody but understand this, CK. Understand…this. Understand we’re operatin’ on a level most will never get to see. Understand we’re in a place most will never be. Understand we’re gonna take this to rare air the likes of which most will never breathe.
Buck slides off of the box and stands there, throwing the World Championship back over his shoulder.
Buck Dresden: I’m not here to play with you, CK. I’m here to kick your ass. An’ that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.
With that, the World Champion leaves the scene and we move to another area in the back.
The Greatest Iron Fist Champion That Has Ever Lived skips along a corridor in the backstage area of the SHOOT Project Epicenter. Various pieces of production equipment are stacked along both sides of the wall, along with wires tapered down to the waxed cement flooring beneath a layer of electrical tape and foam covering. Arthur’s obnoxious, and severely alarming, glee befits the bright orange suit he wears.
Alongside him is his play pal and best friend, the hulking seven-foot two-inch abomination known as Sammy Rochester. Arthur pats the faceplate of his championship with each measured skip, whistling to the tune of “Mr. Sandman”. Without warning though, Sammy stops in his tracks and places a hand out to stop Arthur from proceeding.
Arthur Pleasant: Well, well, WELL! If it isn’t my second best friend in the biz!
The camera swings around and meets the cold, hard countenance of one Azraith DeMitri. He looks…worse for wear. If one looks closely, they can tell he’s still wearing the same jeans and t-shirt he was wearing the last time he was on camera, when he was abducted by Arthur and Sammy. His hair loose and scraggly, hanging over his shoulders and partially over his face. Torn, tattered bandages wrap loosely around his forearms up to his elbow, and there’s blood coating the bottom parts of his jeans and boots. He looks dirty, tired, but more than anything else there was a dark, ominous energy in his eyes as he glares a hole into Arthur.
Arthur Pleasant: Can I just say… wow? I mean, WOOOOOW! You do realize that there’s a Salvation Army down the road if you need some clothes that badly, right? I should know. Haha.
Not one word. Not a reflexive eye bat. Not a single nose flare. Not one indication that anything Arthur had just uttered was processed. Or, at the very least, mattered the slightest bit to Azraith. Still, Arthur continued.
Arthur Pleasant: Alright. Let’s just skip the preamble then and get right down to rusty tacks. You’re probably a little mad(bro) at me for getting a little rough while we played last Revolution. I mean, in my defense, you DO have that reputation of being one sadistic fuck! So, of course, I’m going to play a little rough! You know what I mean, friend?
Still nothing. Arthur turns toward Sammy and whispers loud enough for them all to hear what he’s saying.
Arthur Pleasant: [loud whispering] I think Azraith has gone bye-bye. I also think it’s about to get really messy in here. Whatever you do, Sammy, do NOT get involved here! I mean it, Sammy. Not one finger on that wrecking ball of a hand of yours touches Azraith DeMitri. Nod if you understand me.
Sammy nods. Arthur chuckles. Turning toward Azraith, Arthur shrugs while cocking his head.
Arthur Pleasant: [clearing his throat] Okay, man. Let’s do it! RAWR!
Arthur puts his arms up like he’s not taking the situation seriously. It’s almost as if he wants Azraith to strike first. Putting his hands up like some 1920s drunken bare knuckle fighter straight out of a Conan O’Brien skit, Arthur pedals his upturned knuckles in Azraith’s direction.
Arthur Pleasant: Any day now! Your move, Azzhole! [Like the cowardly lion] PUT ‘EM UP, PUT ‘EM UUUUUUP!
He stops and laughs at his own dumb joke. STILL nothing from his opposition. It’s clear to Arthur that he is not getting anywhere with the man he previously kidnapped.
Arthur Pleasant: What is fucking WRONG with you?!
The mere question makes him laugh.
Arthur Pleasant: I can’t believe I just asked someone else that question. Out loud. Hahaha. But… SERIOUSLY. What is, uhh, wrong with you? You’re… you’re supposed to hit me!
Arthur slaps Azraith across the cheek so hard that it leaves an imprint behind. Azraith rubs his cheek, rolling his jaw to work out the pain. But he just smiles back at his aggressor.
Arthur Pleasant: Ohhhh. Look at that WELT forming! Is this what turning the other cheek looks like?!
He slaps Azraith across the OTHER cheek! Azraith does the same thing as before, only the smile is wider. Arthur looks confused.
Arthur Pleasant: Huh. Helllooooooo?! Earth to Azzy!!
Arthur gets right in Azraith’s face and knocks on his temple rather annoyingly. You can tell that he’s simply trying to provoke him as much as possible.
Arthur Pleasant: This is where you attack me viciously, like a madman possessed! ENTER THE SANDMAN, BABY!!!
He goes to slap Azraith again, but Azraith reaches down and RIPS the Iron Fist Championship off of the champion’s waist. Each button snapping out of its buttonhole in rapid succession. He stares at the championship a moment before looking back at Arthur.
Azraith DeMitri: You…you think you DESERVE this? That you’ve EARNED anything? You’re a child, playing with toys. Instigating nonsense because you think I’ll bite. I’ve raised a child before, Arthur, I understand a tantrum when I see one. You want my blood? You want to earn your place through my violence? You’ll have to start. My body is broken and my flesh is tattered, but I’m STILL a champion. Forever. Come and take what’s yours away from me, Arthur.
With a cold, steely confidence, Azraith grins just slightly as he raises the Iron Fist Championship above his own head with his free hand.
Arthur looks back at Sammy, as if his mute best friend would have some ringing advice for him in this situation. Spoiler Alert: He doesn’t. Arthur sighs and rubs his eyelids. His lip quivering a bit as if he’s trying to keep his own anger in check.
Arthur Pleasant: That’s… not how this is supposed to go. You’re not… you’re not playing fair.
Arthur contemplates what Azraith said for another moment… and then his face lights up like a light bulb just went off.
Arthur Pleasant: Wait a second — did you say, “raised a child”?! You mean… you mean Judy?! That tasty looking cunt who walks around here like she’s the baddest bitch in the fucking galaxy?! Hahaha. Yeah, you raised her alright. She turned into a yummy-looking piece of strange, didn’t she? Let me ask you something, Daddy-O. Does she… does she… shave? You know… [in a whisper] … down there?
He gets up close to Azraith’s ear… before actually licking the lobe.
Arthur Pleasant: Come on, baby. Do it. You know you just… mmm mmm MM… want to. You know you want to just end my sad, pathetic existence right here and now. Fucking DO IT, then!! Just imagining your daughter bent over a production box with my dick going in and out of her sopping wet pussy. Hope.. oh GOD.. she doesn’t get pregnant from my super seed! Then again, my little financial burden would get to grow up with such a fantastic Uncle in his or her life!!
Arthur laughs LOUDLY in his sickening display. Trying his absolute goddamn best to get Azraith to make a move. The best way you could describe Azraith, at that exact moment, would be exhausted. He reaches up, idly wiping the saliva off of his ear before shaking his head. His jaw tightens up just a second, just the hint of the anger burning before he shakes it off again.
Azraith: NEMESIS can, and always has, handled herself like an absolute professional in this industry. The only thing I’m imagining is the last time a shitty little edgelord tried this line of reasoning. He ended up losing his title to a DeMitri because he underestimated her. What’s next, Arthur? Why are you so intent on being Jacob Mephisto’s metaphorical sloppy second?
Az looks at the Iron Fist championship again, idly polishing it with his dirty wrist, smearing dirt and sweat on the pristine face before looking back to Arthur, raising a brow. Arthur’s eyes go wide as soon as he hears Jacob’s name mentioned against his own.
Arthur Pleasant: Jacob’s… Jacob’s… ohhh. Oh, man. No, no. You… you’re good, aren’t you?
Suddenly, Arthur LAUNCHES himself forward into a shitty looking Thesz press that takes Azraith down, spilling them both against the corridor’s cement walls. Arthur looks down at Azraith, absolutely shaking with rage.
Arthur Pleasant: You… you just won’t… play… fair.
GET HIM SAMMY!
Sammy doesn’t budge, though. He was given a directive and he has taken it seriously. After a moment or so, Arthur looks back at Sammy and shrugs as if to say, “What the fuck are you doing?!”, and then immediately realizes what he’s done to himself.
Arthur Pleasant: God…. DAMMIT.
Azraith struggles somewhat against Arthur, moving his arms up in such a fashion to protect himself from punches coming from the top. However, during all of it, Azraith seems to be…laughing? Full throated, belly laughing. Even coughing somewhat, he can’t help himself it seems, despite trying his best not to get pummeled by the furious Pleasant.
Azraith: What’s next, Art? You got any rafters to throw me off of, maybe? That’s usually a spicy one.
Arthur does not know what to do: this much is clear. His eyes dart back and forth, scanning every scenario he can think of but, the more Azraith smiles and laughs in his face, the less likely it is one will reveal itself to him.
Arthur Pleasant: ARRGH!!! THIS IS NOT HOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO GO!!! GAH!!! YOU FUCKING FUCK!!!!!
Arthur reigns down some headbutts across Azraith’s face, apparently breaking the bridge of his nose like Arthur had done to so many before him. Arthur stops himself, though. Whatever manner of resolve he had before now was simply hanging on by a thread.
Reaching into his pocket, he pulls out a cigar. From his other pocket? A cigar cutter.
Arthur Pleasant: It’s… it’s okay, Azraith. I know you didn’t mean to not play fair with me. I know you’re just a little upset that things haven’t been going your way lately. That’s okay, though. You know what I do when things don’t seem to go my way, friend? I remind myself that thing’s could be a lot worse. “HOW do you do that?!”, you ask?
It’s a little something I like to call pain therapy.
Taking the end of his cigar, he cuts a good three-quarters of an inch off. Reaching into his pocket for a third time, he pulls out a bright orange zippo lighter. With the flick of his thumb, he lights the end of the cigar while taking a few puffs to further along the process. A moment or two later, smoke billows from the end of the cigar. Flicking the lid shut on the lighter, he places it back into his suit jacket’s pocket.
Arthur Pleasant: Now. Where to begin your treatment is the real question!
Arthur takes the cigar and scans Azraith’s face with the lit end of the cigar. Making beeping sounds as if he had sonar tracking on his person, Arthur reaches his eyeball when the “tracker” starts beeping incessantly.
Arthur Pleasant: Aha! I think we have a — wait a minute.
Those dark, almost black eyes dart towards the cigar cutter. As soon as he sees it, all sorts of thoughts and possibilities enter his mind, forcing his face to light up like Christmas morning. His twitching eye betrays him, however, as he remains dismayed over Azraith’s unwillingness to “play fair”.
Arthur Pleasant: I have a better idea! Since you don’t want to play fair? I don’t think I will either.
Arthur grabs Azraith’s hand and places the cigar cutter just over the tip of Azraith’s pinky.
Azraith. Does. Not. Flinch. His face smeared with blood and his eyes narrow, Az’s faux-jovial nature has faded into one of a quiet, steely determination. His voice muffled through his prone position, Azraith actually attempts to lean up, to get closer to Arthur’s face.
Azraith: You better have one of those big enough t-AAAGHH!
A loud snap clicks and Az could no longer hold his facade any longer, a blinding white pain courses through him. Az raises his right hand to his face, looking at a pouring, oozing spout of blood coming from his pinky finger, whose tip was severed just above the first knuckle. Arthur is laughing like a madman before Az reaches up and pulls Arthur down into a rising headbutt of his own, with ferocity enough to throw the man off his mounted position atop Azraith, giving him a chance to stand.
Azraith: You…stupid FUCK.
Before Arthur can say anything else, Az just SLAMS a punting kick right in-between Arthur’s open legs, honestly not so much to inflict pain as it was to just stop his laughing. Even through that sudden shock, Arthur gasps and heaves out sickly chuckles. Az’s body was shaking, adrenaline coursing through it as he looks around for something to tie his finger off, before stopping. A heavy sigh escapes him as he reaches down, picking up Arthur’s lit cigar.
Azraith: Games…it’s always fucking games with y’all…
Az’s jaw clenches, and his eyes close before he slams the red-hot cinders of the cigar onto his still bleeding pinky. His left leg shakes violently, almost causing him to topple over as another clenched yell reverberates through him. Arthur’s gasping giggles cease as Az’s eyes open, violent and full of rage as he glares downwards at him, his breathing haggard and raw. The flow of blood slowly drops to a trickle, then nothing before Az rips it from his finger, throwing it aside. For a long, silent moment, Az glares down at Arthur, who looks unsure whether to jump up and attack or scurry back further. After a few more seconds, Az drops to a knee, his head lowering.
Arthur: FINALLY. Oh, you had me worried for a s-
Azraith: – Just shut the fuck up, Arthur.
Az reaches to his side and picks up the Iron Fist Championship before standing, throwing his head backwards to push his hair out of his face. Using his still bloody right hand, he smears the title red, top to bottom, leaving it a glossy, muddy crimson. In the middle of it, he draws his longtime symbol, an Anarchy-style A with a Z slashed through it.
Azraith: You want my blood? You want my essence? You want “The Sandman”? Now you know the price of admission, champ. I may be a broken down old man…I may have lost more matches than I’ve won in my life…and I may be a fucking magnet for freaks like you…but I’m sure as fuck never gonna let a piece of shit like you think you DESERVE this. I’ll give you all the blood you need, you’ll be a goddamn DeMitri by the end of it. Just make sure to tell the boss that you’re putting the Iron Fist Championship on the line first.
He doesn’t give Arthur a chance of a witty retort. He simply drops the championship on his chest, and staggers away, reaching up and patting Sammy on the shoulder idly as he does so. Arthur looks at Sammy, holding himself in the groin from the punt kick Azraith delivered.
Arthur Pleasant: What do you think, Sammy?! [Groaning in pain.] Think he wants to play now?
Arthur groans for another moment before falling to the waxed cement flooring in a fit of laughter that carries down the corridor like singing in an echo chamber.
Meanwhile, Sammy spots the tip of Azraith’s pinky and picks it up. Staring at it for a moment, he slowly places it in his pocket for safekeeping.
The Bad Ass Brotherhood Vs. C.K. Butcher/Void
Darkness takes the Epicenter.
Immediately, a purple light shines down at the top of the ramp, and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C minor” sings out over the speakers, bringing the crowd to silence, signalling the arrival of the Black Death of the SHOOT Project, Adrian Corazon. Eryk Masters or the Other Guy both try to speak, but no words come out. That same purple light adjusts, following Corazon from behind and shining lights down into the ring onto Jonas Coleman, Buck Dresden, C.K. Butcher, and Void.
He begins a slow, casual walk down the ramp, a twisted smile across his face. Jonas immediately stops what he’s doing and turns to stare him down, ignoring that Void is in the ring and just NAILS him from behind with an elbow to the back of the head. Corazon reaches the ring and rolls in, as Void walks away from Jonas, leaving him to his Master. Butcher and Buck are brawling on the other side of the ring, with Butcher preventing Buck from getting to his Bad Ass Brother.
Corazon pulls Jonas up to his feet and shoves him into a turnbuckle, holding his face with his hand, and just letting his ears have it. Jonas’ face is contorted with anger and rage, but he doesn’t have the strength to fight off Corazon just yet.
Eryk Masters: Can we get some help out here!? Coleman and Dresden are outnumbered and significantly outgunned!
Other Guy: Yeah, I don’t think these two are going to make it to Reckoning Day without some help!
C.K. Butcher whips Buck Dresden into a waiting lariat from Void, who flattens the World Heavyweight Champion! Butcher pulls Buck to his feet and wraps his arm around Buck’s neck, choking him, as Void peppers Buck’s midsection with HUGE rights and lefts.
Meanwhile, Corazon is just bludgeoning a now seated Jonas Coleman with his boots in the corner, absolutely laying into him. Jonas is spitting blood now, Dresden was already bloody from the match, and Void, Butcher, and Corazon are absolutely going to work, when suddenly a guitar riff hits and you can hear clapping from the track!
“When everything is turned to black
And you don’t know where to go
You need something to justify your soul.”
Silences are broken
Confidence is gone
Everything you’re holding on to falls”
The guitar and percussion continues, the crowd is starting to clap along and the action has stopped in the ring!
“All the people selling truths
On every corner now
They wait until the fear has knocked you down.
All the rules are changing now
You’re living in sin
Everything around you’s caving in”
And with that, NONE OTHER THAN OBSIDIAN MAKES HIS APPEARANCE AT THE TOP OF THE SHOOT PROJECT RAMP. The crowd goes FUCKING NUTS and VOID starts to LOSE HIS SHIT! He IMMEDIATELY scrambles down out of the ring and runs up the ramp!
Eryk Masters: Odds are evened! Odds are evened! Holy shit what an entrance from Obsidian!
Other Guy: No kidding! Did you even know he was in the building!?
Eryk Masters: I had no idea!
Void and Obsidian meet like a freight train at the top of the ramp and immediately start brawling it out and the distraction has allowed Jonas Coleman to get to his feet and start getting some measure of work in on Adrian Corazon. Buck is back to his feet as well as he advances to C.K. Butcher, but officials begin streaming out from the back! The crowd boos!
Eryk Masters: Oh man, the crowd does NOT like that this is about to be broken up, but I think it’s the right move!
The Real Deal is on the scene, directing traffic, as multitudes of SHOOT Project personnel are trying to separate Void and Obsidian, and more are running down the ramp to get to Jonas Coleman, Adrian Corazon, C.K. Butcher, and Buck Dresden! Real Deal shouts “ERYK” getting the attention of the commentator’s desk!
Real Deal: END THE SHOW, ERYK.
Eryk Masters: Oh man, okay. We’re out of time for Revolution, ladies and gentlemen! The next time you see us will be January 23rd at RECKONING DAY, and I can ASSURE you that officials will not be separating any of these guys on that show!
Other Guy: This is CRAZY. These guys are going BERSERK in the ring!
Eryk Masters: That’s it for us! Goodnight!
The feed cuts!