Dripping blood and the echoes of a red puddle as each droplet falls. A puddle of red that’s spotlighted and surrounded by darkness. A familiar voice. The voice of a Blue Ridge Butcher filled with conviction. He is not seen as the blood continues to drip and add to the puddle of crimson.
CK Butcher: It takes a proud individual to entertain the idea that they’ve lost. It takes strength. It takes courage. It’s responsible. Own it. Acknowledge it. Be…accountable.
An eerie ambience.
Still no sign of the man who calls himself the Lord of the Flies.
CK Butcher: I lost. I’ve grown comfortable with losing. Isn’t that rather odd? Who, in their right mind, finds comfort in losing? One, I would never categorize a Butcher man as being in ‘the right mind’, and two: there’s beauty in loss. I won’t bore you with any further poetry about losing and how it makes me grow. No. You see – I’m progressive. I have to remind myself that the present is what matters for the future. Dwelling on loss, or drawing theories for the hypothetical is neither logical nor realistic.
The upward pan.
Scaling the lengths to find the source. Where does this blood come from? The efficacious voice of the elder Butcher continues as blood trickles down the screen.
CK Butcher: Let’s switch gears. What happened when Buck Dresden defeated me at Reckoning Day? It’s simple. He did exactly what Nate Robideau did. Made me…stronger. That has always been an art for me; the ability to be defeated and find the strength to move on. Nate Robideau defeated me. I grew. The Lord of the Flies became a force. The Lord became a menace. The Lord fought tooth and nail. Yet, the Lord wasn’t as conditioned as he so happened to believe. No. The Lord talked the talk but didn’t have the legs to walk the walk. Actions always speak louder than words. Actions. Like…a Buck Shot. He didn’t have to say anything to prove he was better. He simply… did it.
The bodily fluid transitions from a trickle into an oozing stream the closer in proximity to the source. The sound of a blood red faucet that cannot shut off.
CK Butcher: Buck Dresden killed The Lord; may he rest in peace. With that fatal lariat came a calming in the universe. A balance between life and death. A transfer of the soul. A transmigration. The Lord of the Flies is dead, and in death there is life. A King is born. Not just any king. A King who is the life force. A King of the blood. The blood that brings life to this business. Buck Dresden did exactly what the universe needed him to do. He made CK Butcher stronger. He made CK Butcher a king. He made…the Crimson King.
There he is. His face is all that can be seen; from the crown of his bald head, to the substratum of his beardless chin, and from ear to ear. A complete transformation. He’s nearly unrecognizable. Even his eyebrows have are removed. A shadow surrounds his crystal blue eyes. His pearl white teeth cut through the blackness. His face is covered in blood. His voice transforms and permeates with passion.
Crimson King Butcher: The Crimson King is a man of action. The divine truth. Buck Dresden is a man of action. Therefore…the Crimson King…baptised in the blood of SHOOT soldiers, and christened by the Holy bicep of a SHOOT prophet, will take…action. A Slaughterhouse Gauntlet. The Blue Ridge Ballyhoo. A King’s Gauntlet. At Revolution 155 – one poor soul from the front lines of SHOOT Project will be sacrificed…at the hands…of the Crimson King’s action. This will continue at Ruination 6, and Revolution 156, then at Ruination 7, and 157. So on, and so forth. My undeniable determination to defeat every member of the battalions will not end. Unless…unless Buck Dresden determines the Crimson King worthy of a rematch; worthy enough to look the mythical hero in the eyes…and raise Hell. How many men shall I cripple to get to you one…more…time?
Crimson King Butcher: I will not stop until Buck Dresden answers my call.
Crimson King Butcher: And…I…will…NOT…lose…again…
The blood red, hairless face of the Crimson King Butcher fades into the blackness.
The scene switches backstage as Kayden Paulton paces through the halls with a smile on his face. He politely greets a gathering of ring crew members off to his left before smiling again and humming a tune. After a cautious turn in the hallway (Paulton doesn’t want to bump into anyone) he sees a man in the far off distance. Kayden nods and walks over.
Kayden Paulton: Hey Pat Cassidy!
The Easy-Going Grappler finally comes across the man he’s been interacting with online for the past few weeks. Cassidy, who had been scrolling through his phone, puts it down and turns to greet the eternally optimistic Paulton with a smile.
Kayden Paulton: Really nice to meet you. I’m a big fan. Kayden Paulton.
Paulton sticks out his hand and Cassidy shakes it.
Pat Cassidy: Nice to meet you, buddy. Good to put a face to the Spitter handle.
Kayden Paulton: I think you’re a tremendous wrestler and you’re really taking this industry by storm. Sorry, I’m rambling. Just really swell to meet you.
Pat Cassidy: Hey, man. Same to you. Very swell. But uh…
Cassidy looks down awkwardly.
Pat Cassidy: …could you maybe let go of my hand now? We’ve kinda crossed the politeness threshold here.
Paulton blushes and removes his hand, embarrassed.
Kayden Paulton: Oh sorry about that! Ya, I hear ya. Sometimes things can get too nice and then it’s… weird.
Kayden continues to look at Cassidy with a pleasant smile. He realizes this might be “too nice” as well and shakes it off.
Kayden Paulton: So what brings you to SHOOT pew pew? Ha ha.
Cassidy suddenly shifts his view to over Kayden’s shoulder, where he catches a glimpse of a womanly shadow from around the corner. Within moments, Teresa Ames casually approaches the pair, acting like she wasn’t there the entire time. He quickly darts his eyes away from her and back to the Easy-Going Grappler.
Pat Cassidy: Man, I caught a few of their shows on TV and was impressed by the competition. Not to mention the whole Vegas setting, am I right? Seems too good to be true.
Kayden Paulton: Yessir! Vegas is incredible!
Teresa parks herself right across from the two men in her sights.
Pat Cassidy: (pretending Teresa doesn’t exist and maintaining firm eye contact with Kayden) But what about you? I remember hearing you came quite a long way to be here.
Being extra cautious, Paulton nods in a calm manner. He’s trying to make sure he doesn’t come across as too nice.
Kayden Paulton: Yes, I did. I was wrestling in the independent circuit in the UK for a few years. I was also a part of a small promotion in the US before then but it went under after three television shows [slight frown] but I gotta pick this frown up-side-down because it’s the present that matters.
Teresa allows her right hand to roll down her hip, alluringly.
Teresa Ames: I have a present for you.
Kayden begins to turn towards Teresa, but Cassidy suddenly snaps his fingers loudly, startling Kayden. Cassidy makes the “maintain eye contact with ME” hand motion. Kayden nods, maybe not totally understanding, but at least getting the message.
Pat Cassidy: That’s a great attitude to have, my friend. I also try to live in the moment. Like, this moment. Right now. Where only the two of us are standing here. You know what I mean?
Cassidy speaks slowly, letting the message sink in. Kayden smiles in response.
Kayden Paulton: Say, come to think of it, I should get ready for my match. I’m taking on Teresa Ames. Big fan of hers as well. We had a good contest at Reckoning Day and I’m definitely looking forward to our second battle.
Paulton starts looking around…
Kayden Paulton: Say, have you seen her tonight? I wanted to give a quick hello…
The EG Grappler’s attention is quickly diverted back to The Black Out. Both men grin at each other. Cassidy cracks his knuckles, preparing to deliver the coup de grace.
Pat Cassidy: Teresa… Ames? I’m sorry… not sure that name rings a bell, to be honest. Never heard of her.
Teresa Ames: I’M RIGHT HERE YOU MORONS! Count all your SHOOT money while you can. Soon enough it will be my alimony to spend!
Cassidy watches the departing Teresa with a smile. He breaks out in a small fit of laughter and smacks Kayden on the shoulder.
Pat Cassidy: Good job, man! That was fun. We’ve gotta do this again sometime. Good luck with your match.
With a final smile, Cassidy walks out of frame. Paulton, once again, smiles warmly, oblivious to what just took place.
Kayden Paulton: What a super swell guy.
Jacob Mephisto Vs. Daryn Thompson
Broad in chest. Oiled. Garbed in leather, chains, and fur. But their waists are barren, missing the belts that called their barrel midsections home. They appear to be in mourning–gear and face paint in tones of black and slate grey. They are not screaming. All they do is breathe.
CYBER Power Devil. CYBER Superbeast. The Unholy Cyber Army.
They stand in front of the brick patterned banner that they have used since the beginning. Their team name in graffiti stylized Megadeth font. Tags and images–pentacles, blades, axes, skulls, nude devil women, 666 brands–adorn the negative space. Superbeast raises his hand and draws a deep breath.
He exhales. Stares the camera down with murder in his eyes. Shaking his head, he turns to his brother, who grips his massive arm in a gesture of reconciliation. They both shake their heads slowly, until Superbeast closes his eyes and, after a moment, nods.
Power Devil roars and grabs the background banner, tearing it from it’s fastenings and bringing it to the floor in a crumpled mess. He breathes heavily, growling, his hands pulsing into fists periodically. He reaches down and gathers the shredded backdrop, crumpling it into a pile at their feet. He looks to the camera, his teeth bared, and inhales.
Shaking his head, he stomps off frame. Rushing back in, he grabs Superbeast around the back of his neck. Superbeast does in kind. They rear back and DRIVE their foreheads into one another with a sickening thud. Power Devil takes a moment, breathing heavily, and nods. Superbeast reaches into his jacket pockets, retrieving a bottle of lighter fluid and a book of matches.
He douses the banner.
He lights a match and then sets the entire book.
He drops it. The banner engulfs fast, catching fire. Both men stand, towering, the fire catching and illuminating them both. The light shining in their eyes. Their faces stern. No screaming fury. No fiery passion.
They look to the camera. Then they walk off, leaving the blaze and a screaming backstage attendant who douses the fire with the spray from an extinguisher.
Kayden Paulton Vs. Teresa Ames
Backstage, a wall. A man in front of it with a braided mohawk and a frame too thick of neck and broad of chest for the dress shirt he is wearing. His face grim. Lip set. Determined. Nate Robideau looks to the camera, crossing his arms. His voice is the rumble of thunder.
Robideau: I have failed you.
He looks down, letting out a deep sigh.
Robideau: I have failed you and failed myself. Who I was after that match…how I behaved…I am ashamed. My apologies are due to you fine people in the audience. Watching at home. To Clark Feldman. To the management team and Mr. Johnson.
His arms unfold. He sets his hands to his hips.
Robideau: But most of all, I owe an apology to you, Joshua Breedlove.
He smiles in a rueful, defeated fashion.
Robideau: When we first were paired for that match I asked you if you were a warrior or a common braggart. You answered that. Definitively. And I acted poorly. I know there is darkness in me, Joshua. I know that I have something inside of me that I can dig deep and uncage when a competitor deserves it, like with CK Butcher. You did not deserve that. And you did not deserve it in an ambush. That is…a cowards act. I do not even begrudge your friends for coming to the ring and trouncing me. I was out of control.
He looks directly to the camera with his dark eyes.
Robideau: I will do better. I will be better. I only ask the opportunity to prove it.
With that, he walls from the frame, leaving it looking at the wall before cutting away.
Pat Cassidy Vs. Bobson Dugnutt
“FRIENDS, SHOOTIANS, COUNTRYMEN… LEND ME YOUR EARS!!!”
The scene opens in the back, a lockerroom has been decorated like a Roman villa, and is the current home of the HOLY BREEDLOVE EMPIRE. Joining Joshua Breedlove are KIMO and the Sin City Scoundrels, Michael and Lucas Sexton.
JB: As you two have an important contest coming up, I will keep this brief. This… is the Holy Breedlove Empire, and you three? You are my soldiers. I trust you. I believe in you. I know you will succeed.
Breedlove nods, as do both Sextons and KIMO.
JB: All of us are decorated… adorned with gold. We are a NATIONAL entity with our reach spanning coast to coast, thanks to you, KIMO. You run REIGN with an iron fist and the dominance befitting a champion. Boys, my Sextons… my scoundrels… you? You have just begun your odyssey, and you did so by dethroning a storied team, the Unholy Cyber Army.
He walks over and places his hand on each man’s shoulder.
JB: I have very high hopes for you.
He turns his back and walks back towards his daius.
JB: That is all, gentlemen. I bid you adieu. Good fortune in the contest to come. It is going to be an interesting one.