Revolution 171

Table of Contents

Takeaway

Earlier this evening….

 

The cameras cut to ‘Trattoria’, a classy Italian restaurant attached to the side of the Goodfellas Casino, just off of the Vegas strip. With some nondescript opera music playing softly in the background, the restaurant is empty apart from a table in the corner where four men in dark suits sit, slowly tucking into plates of pasta and sauce. Two of those men are familiar to ‘SHOOT’ viewers as one of the hottest tag teams on the roster right now, Anthony Moretti and Joe Barone. The other two are more familiar to other wrestling fans, but part of the larger ‘Blood Money’ family, Money Malone and James Von Drake.

 

Anthony Moretti: “Marone! No way are we paying the tab for this, where they get the bread from? The bread museum?”

 

Moretti picks up a piece of stale bread from the bowl in the middle of the table and throws it at one of the lurking waiters. The waiter quickly bows his head and walks away, not wanting to get into any kind of confrontation.

 

The four continue to take a few more mouthfuls, but the silence doesn’t last long as suddenly into the restaurant runs an out of breath kid in a white polo shirt, a ‘SHOOT:Project’ logo on the left breast pocket.

 

Anthony Moretti: “Ohhhh! There is a dress code here you know!”

 

Joe Barone: “Oh!”

 

Money Malone & JVD: “Ohhh!”

 

The kid stumbles over to the table despite the angry stares from Blood Money, and struggles to go out his words.

 

SHOOT Employee: “No… Sorry…. Anthony…. Mr Moretti… Mr Barone…. Sirs…. I have been looking all over town for you both. You haven’t checked into the arena for your match tonight.”

 

Anthony Moretti: “Match? What match? We showed up last time and got nothing but disrespect!”

 

Barone stands up angrily from the table to stare at the SHOOT employee, slowly folding his arms menacingly. The SHOOT employee takes a few steps back.

 

SHOOT Employee: “Sorry, guys… erm… You have a match tonight against Fear & Loathing on Revolution! We need to get going to make the opening bell!”

 

Moretti slowly looks around at the other men at the table, before quickly rising up, sending the plates flying. Moretti shouts over at the waiter that he verbally abused only moments before.

 

Anthony Moretti: “OH! Mario! Over here and bag this up to go, we got some gavones to beat up and some money to win!”

 

Moretti clicks his fingers at the waiter and points down at the food, before marching towards the door, Barone quickly following in step. 

 

Anthony Moretti: “Kid, get over here. Tell us everything you know about these Faith and Loathing assholes!!”

 

Moretti & Barone stride out of the restaurant with the SHOOT employee close behind. Will they make it to Revolution for their tag team match against Fear & Loathing and can they extend their impressive winning record further?

Fear & Loathing Vs. Blood Money

The Return

The opening snarl of Stone McKnuckles version of “Storm Eagle” hits the speakers. A stranger emerges from the back of the Epicenter.. With the camera zoomed out from him, he walks to one side and shouts up into the stands at the audience. He takes a deep breath and walks to the other side to do the same thing. The camera zooms in to finally get a look at his face. Certain things have changed. His normally slicked back and professional brown hair has been allowed to grow down to shoulder length. He’s grown out a wild looking beard. Most of all, the eyes that used to burn with hatred for everyone who walked through the arenas with him have softened. Now he seems in awe of what he’s staring at. He closes his eyes and takes a breath. There’s a chant of his name. A small one, but it’s there.

The unthinkable has happened: Kincaid has returned to SHOOT Project.

Eryk Masters: All week we heard the rumors! This man, a former Iron Fist Champion, one of the great ‘What If?’ questions of SHOOT Projects past was recently spotted at our offices. And tonight, he makes his return!

Other Guy: You can call him a ‘What If’ question if you want, you can talk about the potential, the reality of Alexander Kincaids career has been struggle after struggle. He might not be the most popular guy backstage, but you know what? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to see him!

By now Kincaid has made his way to the ring. He climbs to the apron and raises his hands high in the air, once again soaking in the energy of the audience. This time though? A keen ear would notice it’s a little bit different. There’s more than a few boos mixed up in his reception. He gives a playful wink to the audience and steps inside the ropes. He heads across the ring and asks for a microphone. He’s handed it by a seemingly confused crew member and he paces around to compose himself before he speaks to a SHOOT Project audience for the first time in over 7 years.

Kincaid: I feel like I should have something clever to say, you know? This is an important moment. That moment that I used to dream about a few years ago. What would I say if I ever came back here? What would be the first words out of my mouth when I was back in this place? I had something in mind back then, that first year I was gone. It was going to be really something. Second year I kept it. Third year…after that it starts to get a little bit distant. The funny thing about a dream dying is it doesn’t happen all at once. Wasn’t like coming back here, coming back to the wrestling business just fell to powder in my hands. Dreams die the slow death. You start getting older, you start making compromises, you start telling yourself that you can’t do the hard work to get what needs doing…done.

There’s a buzz from the audience. They don’t know how to react to what he’s said yet. He rests his hands on the top rope and smiles, shaking his head.

Kincaid: For those who you don’t know me, my name is…Alex Kincaid. Formerly, Alexander Kincaid when I wanted to put a real shine on my name. There was a time when I was a rising star in this company. There was a time when I held championship gold here, when I was having rivalries that people thought might have defined the future direction of this company. Sounds crazy right? Here’s the worst part: I didn’t appreciate any of it. See, I had it in my head that this industry was exploiting us. That it was burning young wrestlers out, that we were killing ourselves for…well for you guys. For fans that didn’t give a damn about us. God, I didn’t appreciate any of the opportunities I was given in here and trust me I certainly didn’t appreciate you guys.

The crowd can’t help but boo at that. Alex Kincaid grins and shrugs.

Kincaid: I know! I know, believe me. The only thing that ever made me happy was pro wrestling. It was my way out of a broken home, it was my way to being something…something I could be proud of. But I twisted it all up, I made a mess of it and I convinced myself that…well, that it was something it isn’t. I made myself hate it. I made myself hate all of you. Trust me when I tell you I was no better back there. It’s not just a matter of being a piece of shit in the ring, of jumping people, of being a preachy scumbag. It’s also all the stuff you never saw. I didn’t meet a bottle I didn’t like. I certainly didn’t behave myself like somebody who marched around calling himself the standard bearer of this industry should have. I burned every bridge in front of me. Eventually, the doors here were closed to me. And you know, even when SHOOT isn’t putting on shows this place still has some of the best talent in the world. I could have used connections here to go out and build my career up…except I’d been such a big piece of garbage nobody wanted me around.

Someone in the crowd shouts something about him feeling sorry for himself. It’s barely picked up by the microphones, but it’s enough to make him turn and glare into the audience. He forces himself to regain his composure and continues speaking.

Kincaid: But this isn’t a pity party. Great wrestlers, even good wrestlers, they can talk you into seats but what happens between these ropes is what gets into your heart. I’m not coming out here to try and tell you that you should forgive me or that I’m the great lost secret of SHOOT Project. Nah, screw that, I made my bed and I have to lie in it. I didn’t walk away from this industry, this industry pushed me out because I spat in its face one too many times. While I was away, I found a woman. I got married. I tried to settle down and do the regular life thing but year after year, I just felt that thing burning down in my gut that tells me ‘You can’t do anything else, you are a professional wrestler to your core.’ And I cannot deny that anymore!

The last words are a shout, emphasized by a point at the ring beneath his feet. His expression hardens and he stares directly out at the people again.

Kincaid: SHOOT Project combs the world to find the absolute best talent to wrestle in front of you people. They’ve got the eyes on up and comers, when you get that call to come and prove yourself here it really means something. This time wasn’t like that. I had to call them. I asked for a second chance. ‘You’ll be starting at the bottom’ You got it. ‘Your past victories here don’t matter’ Fine. ‘If you cause any drama backstage, you’re on a short leash.’ I don’t care. I want that second chance. I want to be what I ALWAYS could be if I could just get out of my own way! My name is Alex Kincaid, and I am back to earn my place in this industry again. To win over the doubters, to prove to the people I’ve wronged that I’m different. I am…I’m….

He seems to have trouble finding those last words to really punch in his point. But then he finds it. He cracks a grin, a grin that widens into a full on smile as he realizes the obvious.

Kincaid: I’m here to wrestle, man. Simplest thing in the world but I’ll be damned if that doesn’t open up a whole lot of possibilities doesn’t it? If you’re one of those people backstage who heard the rumors about Kincaid hitting this ring again and thought ‘He doesn’t deserve to be here?’ Well, you know, I’m going to win you over the exact same way I’m going to win over everybody in this crowd. I’ve come back here to get to my roots, to discover the parts of me I love the most and to embrace the truth that I KNOW deep down in my heart: From bell to bell no one can do what I can do in this ring. This is a different Kincaid, a new Kincaid, a Kincaid that is going to embrace the infinite possibilities wrestling can bring and be happy to get the chance to be part of it again. But, BUT-

He holds up a finger to emphasize a point.

Kincaid: One thing that hasn’t changed is that I care about the future. About what I want wrestling to be. So, look, if you’re someone who wants to come out here bell to bell and prove that I don’t deserve to be here? I’ll meet you face to face, I’ll give you the chance to prove me wrong. But there’s something else in our locker room. There are monsters here. And not just the obvious ones. Void creeps me the hell out, Bobby Tick’s bringing in Broodwarden and probably looking for some hooks to start hanging up corpses in the friggin’ basement and I’ve seen RAIKO leave so much blood in this ring you’d think we were in a slaughterhouse. Say what you want about people like that, but at least you know what you’re getting. No, I concern myself most with a deeper kind of evil. The kind of men and women who make this industry rotten to its core, the people who tell you that they’re the model wrestler and then exploit the industry I love. The people who want to bleed wrestling dry, they’ve got a new enemy today. Look in my eyes. Know that I am serious. My name is Alex Kincaid. They call me Infinite. And I am here to take wrestling back.

He tosses the microphone to the floor and Storm Eagle hits the speakers again. He shouts out at the audience and starts making his way back up the aisle. There is certainly uncertainty to come, but for tonight at least, he seems to have truly returned to the fold.

Eryk Masters: I can honestly say I never thought we’d see this. It’s like a different man! Alex Kincaid says he is here to take wrestling back? What could that mean?

Other Guy: It means he’s motivated! His temper is escalated! He’s fascinated with SHOOT Project and all his potential opponents, and before you ask me Masters no that was not meant to rhyme!

 

IAM the Main Event

Backstage is loud.  

 

But then, again, locker rooms are always loud.  Soldiers doing their best to get amped up before stepping out into battle.  It’s the same.  Doesn’t matter much the battlefield.  There was a time that Ignatius would be blasting his music, banging on the lockers and getting the rest of his team hype.  But he’s got no team now.  

 

One of the dings against Ignatius’ career was that he was too “me first,” or he “wasn’t a team player.” Now it’s just him.  No one else on “Team IAM” to help him.  No shoulder pads to slap, no face mask to pull.  Just Iggy, sitting on a bench.  His shoulders slouch just a bit, swaying back and forth.  His head nods up, down, side-to side.  

 

Can’t keep runnin’ away

Can’t keep runnin’ away

 

The Pharcyde’s “Runnin'” can be heard coming through the oversized headphones resting over top of Ignatius’ head.  After a few seconds he leans down and grabs hold of his bag on the floor.  He carefully grabs his ring gear from the bag and sets it on the bench beside him.  He has his own locker.  It’s a perk of working for SHOOT Project.  He wouldn’t have to take his gear back and forth, but SAIGO had a big of a problem the last time he showed up to train in sweats and tennis shoes.

 

Can’t keep runnin’ away…

 

Ignatius stands, pulls the headphones down from his ears and rests them on his shoulder.

 

I ain’t got smoke with you, Nate.  I know that.  I think you know that too.

 

Ignatius opens his locker and grabs a towel from it.  He takes his diamond stud earrings out and places them in a small box in the top of his locker. 

 

Sometimes you just gotta talk a bit, man.  Get yourself hype.  Why do we do that?  Is it to make other people believe we better than we are?  Or is that cause we wanna believe we better?  Don’t matter.  I been in that ring with you before.  Didn’t matter how fast I was.  Didn’t matter how fast my jaw was either.  You put me down.  I aint gonna apologize for talkin’ shit bout a man that I don’t got beef with.  But I’ll try an explain it I guess.

 

He turns and sits back on the bench, taking off his sneakers and folding his socks into them.  He sets the shoes down in the bottom of the locker.  Without bothering the headphones he pulls his t-shirt up and over his head.  He grabs a coat hanger and places his shirt on the hanger and in his locker.

 

This isn’t the top for me, man.  But it’s the highest I been here.  Top of the card, Nate.  That don’t mean shit to you, I know.  You been here before and you definitely act like it.  Class.  Dignity. The look and feel of a vet that knows that this is just another Revolution.  It’s another match in the Apex.  You know that it don’t matter if this match happens at the top a Tha card or at the bottom.  It’s still worth the same amount of points either way.  But I don’t see it that way, Nate.  I gotta hunger over here.  I gotta need to see my name headlining that card.  And I gotta beat you my first time in this spot.  I gotta prove that that Main Event spot aint yours.  I aint here just because it’s “Nate vs. Some Dude.”  

 

After pulling some of the creases out of his ring gear, he ensures that everything fits snug, right where it should.  He sits back down on the bench and starts pulling his boots on.  Making sure every lace sits right.  

 

I’m here cause of me.  Not because I’m facing a former World Champ, but because IAM the main event.  So yeah, I talked a little shit.  I got you a little worked up.  And that’s good.  Imma come out and breathe in whatever fire your spittin’ at me and use it to fuel my rise to the top a this side of the bracket.  Aint finna be no easy win and another main event victory for a former champ. IAM gonna show the whole world that this is just the first of what’s gonna be a whole mess of main event Showcases. So see you out there, Nate.  With your help, we gonna tear the house down.

 

The camera fades as IAM starts to tightly fasten the laces of his boots, pulling the headset back up over his ears. 

Reginald Dampshaw III Vs. Pat Cassidy

Peace Summit

Backstage, strutting with a spring in his step, is the one.

The only. 

The greatest. 

Kitsune!  In his jawless “dating” mask and the custom purple Adidas tracksuit, Rod Lavers, casio on the wrist.  There may be tougher hombres, there may be higher flyers, there may be more intimidating presences.  But no one can step to the Broguns on the style tip.  He’s so enjoying his stroll that he hardly takes notice of a cat slinking in a darkened doorway until he calls out. 

Vlad: Kitsune.  Let’s chat. 

Vladimir Kyle, one of the seemingly endless Kyle Clan, makes himself known.  He’s every bit as short and scrawny as Chadwick, but clearly is going for Rule 63-Lisbeth Salander cosplay.  Multiple facial piercings, streaks of seapunk teal in his hair, and a duster jacket that’s somewhere between coats both rain and lab.  He walks up, cockier than he has much call to be, smirking.  He holds up his phone, shaking it. 

Vlad: Y’know I don’t not do my homework.  I know everything there is to know about the Broguns.  I know Michael Angel Ortega and David Joel Burgos Jr. 

He sets his phone into the pocket of his coat.  He sets a finger into Kit’s chest, no threat to it, just overly familiar. 

Vlad: But you’re a fucking ghost, friend. 

He walks to the wall and leans his back against it, crossing his arms. 

Vlad: Not that it particularly matters.  This isn’t me doing some sort of big opposition research reveal.  But I did want to talk to the shot caller, as it were.  The “Don Dada”.  The guy who actually calls the shots, because everyone knows that as…vocal as your skeleton pals are, they ask ‘how high’ when you say ‘jump.’

Kitsune: There a point to all this?  You guys already got your match. 

Vlad: Glad you asked.  See, my dear brother Braddock has this idea.  That we could find peace between our camps.  And inroads have been made to Dave and Mike, but…you have to be the deciding vote, Kitsune.  Because if you’re not down with it, they’ll drop the idea like a bad habit, won’t they?    

 

Ya Purple Boy looks Vlad up and down, confused at the strange Kyle standing before him.

 

Kitsune:  That’s…okay, yo.  First up, real talk, Mike and Dave are my brethren.  I don’t run them, they don’t run me.  Hence, you know, “brogun” bein’ a portmanteau of “brother” and “shogun” which is a samurai without a master.

 

Vlad:  I, too, have read Wikipedia.

 

Kitsune:  Ha ha…ya got jokes, dig it.  Second up, I’m a ghost because one of the first spells I ever learned was that shit Marvel ripped offa my people in the new Spider-Man movie.  The right people know me, the rest of y’all can live with the mystery.

 

Vlad takes all this new information in.

 

Kitsune:  Third up, I don’t give a damn, shit, or fuck if the Kyles wanna fight or not.  However, y’all got a guy that wants to eat me.

 

Vlad:  Russ?

 

Kitsune:  Well, I ain’t talkin’ about Chad!

 

Vlad nods in understanding.

 

Kitsune:  Listen, I don’t mind if the Kyles get a title shot.  If y’all earn it, by all means come face us.  But, yeah, ya mans is right.  I ain’t out to get into a war with no cannibals an’ no Devil’s Rejects from the Jersey Shore or whatever your whole…thing is.  If Bradimus is out here talkin’ to Mike an’ Dave and you’re right here right now talkin’ about peace, then yeah.  I’m wit’ it.  I’m tryna be a good man, Vlad, you know what I mean?

 

Vlad:  Absolutely.

 

Kitsune:  I’ll talk to my boys, tell ‘em I ain’t wanna see no fights based around Spitter bullshit.  Hopefully they’ll dig what I’m plantin’ in they minds an’ we can approach this the right way in the future with real actual competition, not some bullshit.  You agree with that?

 

Vlad:  Of course, Kitsune.  That’s all I want to know.

 

Vlad extends his hand.  Kitsune looks it up and down and then takes Vlad’s hand.

 

Vlad:  When the Kyles face the Broguns, it’ll be done the right way.

 

Kitsune:  Appreciate it.  Oh hey, what’s that over there?

 

Kitsune points over Vlad’s shoulder.  Vlad turns his head and Kitsune runs off camera.  Vlad turns his head back and looks confused.

 

Vlad:  I still see you.

 

Kitsune:  FUCK.

 

Kitsune comes back on screen.

 

Kitsune:  I ain’t figured that one out yet.

 

Vlad and Kitsune stare blankly at one another, the awkward moment sinking in between them.

 

Vlad:  You should practice that.

 

Kitsune:  I should practice that, yeah.

 

Vlad smirks, nods, and does a small wave.  He walks backwards away from Kit, neither man breaking each other’s gaze, until Vladimir turns, stalking down the hallways with an energetic stride.  We cut away…



Admonishment

Cut to the ring. A pale and skinny man hops near the turnbuckle.  The camera zooms in on his pimple covered face as he opens his mouth wide to stretch his jaw muscles.  He whips his bowl cut blonde hair as he cracks his neck.  He slaps his boney chest to create a hollow thud, takes a step forward, and tightens the waistband of his unbelievably cheap blue tights with a cliche diamond pattern down the side of the legs.  He waves to the crowd as he’s introduced by the ring announcer, but there’s a strange look in his eye.  A foreboding glare.  

 

The beautiful Samantha Coil is center stage, and looking magnificent as always.

 

Samantha Coil:  Ladies and Gentlemen the following contest is scheduled for one fall with a five minute time limit!

 

Other Guy:  Five minutes?

 

Eryk Masters:  Rather odd, right?

 

Samantha Coil:  In the ring, weighing in at 157 pounds, he hails from right here in the trenches of Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada!  

 

There’s a minor pop for the sheer fact that this walking toothpick of a man represents the city that the SHOOT Project calls home.

 

Samantha Coil:  This is…BARE BONES…LONNIE…MANDALARK!

 

Eryk Masters:  This wasn’t in the format.  However, Lonnie Mandalark is making his SHOOT Project debut tonight and I’m curious as to who he’s fighting…

 

Other Guy:  Please be Kincaid.  Please be Kincaid…

 

It’s not Kincaid.  A graphic pops onto the screen as we start to hear the brutal riffs of “Dead Guy” by Ministry.

 

Voice: AND HIS OPPONENT…

 

The volume lowers as a raspy and powerfully confident voice takes over.  The round and proud Bobby Tick waddles onto the stage dressed to look oddly similar to Danny Devito’s Penguin from Batman Returns.  The fans are not sure what to make of this, but their attention has been hijacked; their eyes are glued to the stage.  

 

Eryk Masters: We were introduced to this disgusting looking creature a week or so ago on SHOOT Project dot com.

 

Other Guy:  DOT com.

 

Eryk Masters:  Bobby Tick’s client, Broodwarden, is a nightmare force to be reckoned with.  It’s been a while since SHOOT had a man well over seven feet tall who actually looked the part of a colossus just by shredded definition alone.  

 

Other Guy:  I just realized that little Lonnie Mandalark is like…almost two feet shorter than Broodwarden.

 

Eryk Masters:  Yeah, whoever booked this match is an asshole; to say the least.

 

Other Guy:   And he’s like…over two hundred pounds lighter than Broodwarden, too.  This shit’s gonzo.  EMT’s on high alert.  

 

Eryk Masters:  County coroner is on speed dial.  

 

Bobby Tick takes anchor at the top of the ramp with a sinister grin.  Broodwarden leisurely saunters onto the stage for the SHOOT faithful to digest.  The gargantuan towers over his manager.  His pecs flex up and down.  The veins bulge from his biceps while he cracks his knuckles.  This creature wouldn’t be complete without something that sets him off from all the rest.  He adjusts a uniquely creepy lucha-libre inspired mask made of burlap; a sadistic cowl meant for nightmares.  

 

Bobby Tick:  What you see behind me is real.  This isn’t an illusion.  The madmen engineering your worst possible nightmare went full throttle!  That’s right, my friends, I’d like to introduce to you – my client.  This seven foot-four titan, near 400 pound mass of Godly brawn, is every miniature mortal’s least favorable antithesis.  Have you seen his hands?  Trust me – they’re not hard to miss from the nose bleeds.  

 

The bulbous orator shuffle steps toward Broodwarden and signals for the giant to present his hand to the crowd.  His meat hook opens and his fingers spread.

 

Other Guy:   Yikes…the wing span on those fingers…

 

Eryk Masters: Yea, no thanks.

 

Bobby Tick:  Only Sulten Kosen, Guinness record holder for largest hands in the world, has a mitt larger than the duke of my unbelievably mythic client.  And THIS poor son of a bitch…

 

The manager returns to the ramp and points at the pencil-neck competitor in the ring.  Tick shouts into the microphone with passionate antagonism.

 

Bobby Tick: …he thinks he has the ability, the fortitude, THE BALLS, to go face-to-face with this God damned megalith?  No-no, my good man, you sir are nothing more than a dickless excuse for fodder in the prologue of my client’s ANTHOLOGY OF ANNIHILATION!

 

The camera takes another glimpse of Mandalark standing prominent in the ring and revealing a cocky half grin.  Tick stops in his tracks and Broodwarden follows suit.  The giant cocks his head to the right.  Bobby Tick’s boffola is followed with a glare.

 

Bobby Tick:  Are you…are you smiling?  Why, sir, nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.  Do you know who said that?  Martin Luther King, Jr, and HE had a DREAM.  Today, YOU…have a NIGHTMARE.  So, allow me to introduce to you the man who’s going to take pleasure in snapping your body in half and spraying the first several rows of the Epicenter with your viscera.  He hails from the diamond mines of Hell! THE MAESTRO OF SPINE GRINDING…THE COLOSSUS CACODEMON…

 

He growls into the microphone and follows that with a blood-curdling clamor.

 

Bobby Tick:  BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRROOOOODWARRRRRRRRRRRDEN!

 

Eryk Masters:  I’ve got goosebumps, OG.

 

Other Guy:   Bobby Tick could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman wearing white gloves in the middle of July.

 

Eryk Masters:  Broodwarden has hopped up onto the ramp.  Mandalark takes a couple steps back.  You have to wonder what’s going on in that young man’s head?  

 

Other Guy:   Funeral arrangements?  His last will and testament?  Did he use the restroom before this match?  Wouldn’t it be something if this guy actually thought he had a chance against Broodwarden?

 

Samantha Coil exits the ring as Broodwarden slowly advances toward Mandalark.  Bobby Tick has found a spot outside the ring between the first row and the apron.  Three men in the front row share some language with the manager, and Tick isn’t afraid to bite back.  

 

“You just stand there and watch the show you stupid pile of Vegas trash,” Tick says with a flowing guffaw as he returns to observe his client stare down at the morsel below.  Referee Alex Campbell watches Lonnie Mandalark lunge forward and attack Broodwarden with a knife-edge chop to the mid-section.  Campbell signals for the bell.

 

Other Guy:   Broodwarden is just staring down at ole’ Bare Bones with that look in his eye like “did you really just try to tickle me?”

 

Eryk Masters:  Just take the L, little buddy.  Fall to the mat, let Broodwarden place the sole of his boot on your chest, then let Alex slap the mat three times.  Save yourself.  

 

It’s apparent by the look in Mandalark’s eyes that he’s not in this match to give in.  The walking skeleton paces backward and then leaps!  His boots press against Broodwarden’s mid-section.  The leaping drop kick fails to move the monster and Mandalark falls to the mat in a heap.  Bobby Tick slaps his palms against the ring apron and emphatically chortles.  

 

“Broodwarden!” Tick shouts.  The giant leisurely reacts to Bobby’s call.  Tick’s outer brow lifts, his eyes widen, and his cheeks raise with a sinister grin.  His insidious nod gives Broodwarden the right of way.  The monster returns an empty stare at Mandalark.  Lonnie saunters backward.  The monster stalks.  

 

Eryk Masters:  Um.  Lonnie…some advice?  RUN!

 

Why would Lonnie do that?  No, instead the thinly sliced prey stops in his tracks once he’s reached the turnbuckle.  He’s cornered.  There’s nowhere to go.  Broodwarden stands over him and releases a Bull sized exhale.  There’s a look of horror on Lonnie’s acne-riddled visage.  Broodwarden places his paws on Mandalark; one on each arm.  Lonnie’s feet leave the mat and he’s lifted with ease so that he’s eye to eye with the man behind the burlap mask.  No hesitation.  Broodwarden spins around and tosses Lonnie like a ragdoll across the ring!  Mandalark lands on his heels about a foot before the opposing corner and his back splatters against the buckles!  The impact expels Lonnie from the corner and he flops face-first onto the canvas.  Bobby Tick points and scoffs.  

 

Other Guy:  The hang time on that poor guy!  My GOD!  Broodwarden must have been a champion shot put!

 

Eryk Masters: Did you hear the sound his back made against the buckles?  He’s gotta have fractured vertebrae…

 

“Look at him!” Tick screams from the apron.  “Look at this pathetic pissant!” He continues as Broodwarden approaches the fallen twig.  

 

Mandalark tries to ascend and he raises his fear ladened face to plead with the monster from his knees.  Lonnie is praying, and begs Broodwarden to stop, but to no avail.  The monster reaches and grabs a handful of Lonnie’s blonde hair to guide the weightless man to his feet.  That leads to Broodwarden’s massive fingers wrapping around Mandalark’s neck like an ancient neck trap torture device.  The poor sap is lifted!  The presentation of almost inhuman strength has silenced the crowd.  Broodwarden climbs the turnbuckle with Lonnie’s throat in his vice grip.  He rises, balances, all while holding Mandalark by the throat with his right hand.  

 

Other Guy:   Holy shit.  He just carried 150 plus pounds with one hand while climbing the turnbuckle.  This guys is not only scary, but he’s scary strong.

 

Eryk Masters:  And scary athletic.  

 

“GRACEFUL PLUMMET!” Tick shouts with glee, and the manager turns to the crowd so that their attention is directed at the public execution in the ring.

 

Broodwarden lifts Lonnie into the air for the chokeslam.

 

Eryk Masters:   Jesus…Lonnie’s gotta be over 15 feet in the air right now. 

 

Other Guy:   Fuck.  Fuck.  

 

Broodwarden spins toward the ring and leaps off the turnbuckle with Lonnie in tow!  Mandalark is driven shoulder blade first into the mat with excessive force from the top-turnbuckle chokeslam known as the Graceful Plummet.  The crowd releases a wave of gasps and the commentary team responds with a simultaneous ‘OH MY GOD!’  Lonnie flops like a fish out of water and then lands in a messy folded heap in the center of the ring.  Broodwarden draws near the bag of raddled bones once known as Lonnie Mandalark, and uses the tip of his boot to nonchalantly flip the vanquished onto his back.  The giant rests the sole of his astronomical size 21 on Mandalark’s chest.  Campbell slides onto the mat and slaps the canvas three times with the palm of his hand.  The bell rings to signal the titan’s victory.  

 

Bobby Tick never let go of the microphone.  He rolls like a bowling ball underneath the bottom rope and sluggishly gets to his feet.  He adjusts his suit and tie as the referee points toward Broodwarden as the winner before exiting the ring for safety.  

 

Bobby Tick:  Let it be known…

 

The manager is catching his breath after exerting himself more than intended while rolling into the ring.  

 

Bobby Tick:  …let that be admonishment in the most prolific and convenient of ways.  You sent us this pathetic excuse for a first opponent in an attempt to embarrass my client and prove a point.  Prove what?  That you’re not to be fucked with?  That we cannot enter the golden gates of your Elysian dream with the intent of being King of the proverbial mountain?  That you consider US…a joke?  Well, well, well.  You can bring your legends, their kids, and their admirable courage.  You can say whatever verbiage your pitiful brains recycle.  You can attempt to out-finesse and out-smart.  Let this be the curtain raising first blow and the action needed to seal the deal.  We’ve traveled the globe and vanquished every opponent defined as worthy enough for our standards.  Legends.  Heroes.  Gods.  All consumed.  You don’t have to listen.  You have the right to ignore.  The fact of the matter is simple.  You can’t allow a monster into your establishment without consequences.  Ignoring the monster gets you devoured.  If there’s anything I’ve learned about SHOOT Project it’s that every superstar in the locker room is selfishly invested in their own bubbles.  Blind.  Deaf.  Inconceivably dumb.  Ignorant to the predictability of their demise.  Demise at the hands of this man.  The last face you’ll see before you retire, and the name you’ll gurgle during the death rattle.  

 

He points at the couth giant standing stoically at his side, and growls into the microphone much like he did during initiation.  

 

Bobby Tick:  BRRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOODDDDDDWARRRRRRRRDENNNNNNN

The microphone is released from his grip and falls to the mat.  “Dead Guy” by Ministry starts over as the crowd, and all in attendance, keep their eyes on the men in the ring.  Broodwarden’s eyes stare directly into the camera and do not blink, Bobby Tick chortles like a madman and Lonnie Mandalark rests in peace.

KIMO of the Iron Fist

Abigail Chase: We just witnessed the debut of Broodwarden in an impressive fashion, but just as impressive is the man I’m standing next to! He’s about to challenge for the Iron Fist Championship against Buck Dresden. He is a former Shut Up and Fight Champion, a former REIGN Champion… he is KIMO. KIMO, you’ve been busy these last few weeks, striking out on your own and now finding yourself in this match against Buck Dresden. Thoughts?

 

KIMO looks at Abigail Chase and then to the camera, considering his words.

 

KIMO: I don’t have a lot to say about this. My aim is to go in there, beat Buck Dresden in a two out of three falls match, and capture the Iron Fist Championship. I know it’s not going to be easy. I know that Buck Dresden is a hall of famer and a massive challenge. What else is there to think about? It’s going to be a fight.

 

Abby frowns a bit, but continues.

 

Abigail Chase: Well, let’s shift gears then. There’s been a lot of noise around Buck Dresden lately, talking about his distractions and personal problems and whether or not his head is really in this. Do you have any–

 

KIMO raises a hand, interrupting Abigail Chase.

 

KIMO: I apologize, Abby, but anyone who thinks that Buck Dresden is LESS dangerous because he might have some things going on outside of the ring… is a fool that is going find a loss in Buck Dresden’s ledger. I prepared for Buck Dresden the exact same way I prepared for him the last time we fought, and that’s preparing for a war against an opponent that is by all counts a better professional wrestler than I am. The chance that I have? Is to treat Buck Dresden like the threat that he is, and ready myself for a fight.

 

Abigail Chase: Simple as that?

 

KIMO: Simple as that. I believe my music just kicked off. Goodbye, Abby.

 

Abigail Chase: There you have it, folks. A confident, yet cautious KIMO. His match is next!

KIMO Vs. Buck Dresden (c)

North America's Favorite Tag Alliance

Previously Recorded

A disgruntled-looking Honorable Smooth Walker is rubbing his forehead as he sits in the SHOOT Project training facility he helps manage. 

 

Hon. Smooth Walker: What the hell is this kid doing? What the hell is he talking about … tag team with Johnny Patriot? I thought they were in a rivalry and he was partnering with Mephisto.

He shakes his head.

Hon. Smooth Walker: That’s a whole-nother mess though. I’ve tried to instill my training in Blaze but now he’s also getting lessons from Mephisto and it’s making a mess of things… and now he drops THIS on me? Some sort of … bet he lost.

 

A nervous voice can be heard from somewhere off camera.

 

Blaze Claymore: Oh… oh no. This is… this is so bad.

 

Honorable Smooth Walker cocks his head towards the voice and stands up, gruffly.

Hon. Smooth Walker: Goddammit, son. Are you going to tell me what this is all about? I really hate guessing games.

 

There’s some … crying? Before Blaze speaks up again.

Blaze Claymore: Uhhhh. Uhhhhh. Okay. Um. 

 

The camera doesn’t even need to pan over – Honorable Smooth Walker’s reaction says everything as he stands, mouth agape as some sort of … Canadian Luchador walks into the shot wearing a red-and-white mask, complete with red unitard featuring a white maple leaf and matching boots.

A brown ponytail limply hangs out of the back of the mask that looks about a size too big as the fighter pulls himself up into the ring and stands nervously looking at his trainer who, despite his shock, is nonplussed.

Hon. Smooth Walker: Son. I’ve seen a lot of things in my time on this earth. I’ve seen men die in battle. I’ve seen a man walk on the moon. I could swear I’ve even seen a ghost in that one creepy hotel I stayed in when I visited Sault Ste Marie back in 1988 – but I have NEVER seen anything quite like this.

 

Blaze looks dejected, but as he lowered his head, Honorable Smooth Walker smacks him upside the head.

 

Blaze: OW! What was that for?!


Hon. Smooth Walker: What do you think!? Dammit! You said you lost a bet? No! You’re going to prove to people that you WON that bet. You want to be a Canadian luchador? We can work with that! It’s damned COLD up in Canada, that takes STRENGTH! That takes GUTS!

Hockey’s the toughest goddamned sport on this planet outside of maybe rugby! Those bastards lose half the teeth in their mouths by the time they’re in their 20s because they have giant rubber pucks flying at their face at 90 miles an hour.

You want to be someone who is FEARED, Blaze Claymore? There is NOTHING and I mean NOTHING more terrifying to Americans than the metric system.

 

Blaze Claymore: Kenny.

Hon. Smooth Walker: Excuse me?

Blaze Claymore: My name, when I wear this mask, is KENNY. Kenny Canuck.

 

Hon. Smooth Walker: Okay! Good! Say it louder!

Kenny Canuck: My name is Kenny Canuck.

 

Hon. Smooth Walker: Like you mean it, goddammit!

 

Kenny Canuck: MY NAME IS KENNY CANUCK! 

 

Hon. Smooth Walker: And WHAT is Kenny Canuck going to DO!?

Kenny Canuck: KENNY CANUCK IS GOING TO FORCE FEED YOU MAPLE SYRUP UNTIL IT ENCASES YOUR ORGANS IN DELICIOUS AMBER THAT THEY FIND MILLIONS OF YEARS IN THE FUTURE AND THEN TRY TO RECONSTRUCT YOUR DNA USING FROGS BUT THEN IT BECOMES A HUGE LEGAL LIABILITY FOR ALL INVOLVED.

 

Hon. Smooth Walker: Woah there, champ. I love the energy but… let’s redirect it a bit.

 

Suddenly, the doors of the SHOOT Project training facility burst open as Smooth Walker and Kenny Canuck look over in shock, lifting hands to their eyes to block the glare as the figure standing proudly in red, white, and blue in the doorway comes into focus.

Johnny Patriot: AHAH! I finally found you my Dude From Another Latitude! Are you READY!?

 

Kenny Canuck looks confused – even behind the mask.

Kenny Canuck: Ready? For… what?

Johnny Patriot: What else, my Bro from the Snow? We’ve already got our first tag match!

 

Smooth Walker calms his irritation before pointing directly at Johnny in the doorway.

Hon. Smooth Walker: Well quick gawking! We don’t have all U.S.A. Today! Let’s get training!

 

Johnny Patriot leaps up with a heroic punch to the air before rushing over to the ring to join Kenny Canuck.

 

As the two stand side by side, Honorable Smooth Walker crosses his arms and looks the two men up and down.

 

Hon. Smooth Walker: Alright boys. Let’s get to work in making you North America’s favorite tag team.

 

Johnny Patriot smiles from behind his mask and raises his hand.

 

Hon. Smooth Walker: Yes? Patriot?


Johnny Patriot: Alliance! Sir. North America’s Favorite Tag Alliance. 

 

Smooth Walker lets out a dry laugh.

 

Hon. Smooth Walker: Sure. Whatever. Now drop and give me 20! 




Pop P*nks 4 Evr

Punky the Clown: Go Fish! 

 

Bubble Gum: Drat! I don’t have a license!

 

Punky the Clown: No, BG… you… nevermind. Just draw a card from the pile.

 

Bubble Gum: Well you should say that.

A dressed-down version of The Pop Punks sit on a dock behind the SHOOT Project Epicenter waiting for Revolution to wrap up. The two hadn’t been booked on the show ever since their loss to Sisters of Steel and so they had kept themselves busy by joining the arena crew – helping teardown after each show and loading things in and out of vans.

 

Bubble Gum reaches into the pile and pulls out a card to add to her rather large hand. As she peeks over the cards she sees a distressed look in Punky’s eyes.

 

Bubble Gum: Why so glum, chum?

Punky lets out a sigh and lowers her hand before looking around. All that is there to greet the two of them is a long stretch of parking lot, some tall lights, a chain link fence, and then miles and miles of desert.

 

Punky the Clown: I was just… hoping for more, ya know? We get called up to the main roster and we seemed to be in a good groove and then nothing. I just don’t know what we did to get pushed to the back of the line.

 

Bubble Gum makes a pouty face at Punky and goes to say something but as she does, the staff entrance to the dock area opens and out steps a familiar face.

Bubble Gum: DAIHM!  

 

The pink-haired fighter jumps from her chair and runs over to give him a hug. Not expecting to see the two of them there, his face goes blank for a second before registering what’s going on just in time to catch Bubble Gum in his arms and give her a big hug.

 

Daihm Ferguson: You’re taking a piss! How are you doin? I can’t believe you’re here! I mean, well… I can, but I wasn’t expecting to see you here, specifically.

 

The more cool-headed Punky stands up and walks over slowly to give Daihm a hug as well. The three of them – old friends from Masterpiece Pro Wrestling who found their way to various state-side projects – stand together for the first time in months.

Daihm: How the hell you been? 

 

Not missing a beat, Bubble Gum chimes in with a high-pitched, perky voice.

 

Bubble Gum: We’re loading boxes!

 

Punky presses a hand to her forehead and lets out a little laugh as Daihm looks up with genuine concern. 

 

Punky the Clown: She’s telling the truth… and I guess in this business you really never know where your next meal is coming from. But, what about you, Daihm? I understand you got yourself a shot at the Master of the Mat winner… congrats.

 

Daihm gives a concerned look to Punky as he puts an arm on Bubble Gum’s shoulder. 

 

Daihm: Yeah, I mean. It’s a heck of an opportunity – just sort of happened, ya know? But… who knows what comes next? 

 

Punky looks at Daihm and nods, almost resigned.

 

Punky: Well. I’m proud of you, Daihm. I just wish I could say I was proud of us. 

 

Daihm steels himself and squeezes Bubble Gum’s hand before reaching out to Punky, who initially rebuffs the effort but Daihm forcefully grabs her hand to put it in his own. As he does, he pulls all three of their hands together and smiles.

 

Daihm: You still can, Punky. In fact… I’m beginning to think it’ll be a while before I go back to Los Angeles. I’m starting to like it here in Las Vegas and even more than that – I like the people I have the chance to work with.

 

Punky and Bubble Gum look at each other, at first confused and then realize almost simultaneously what Daihm is proposing. 

 

Bubble Gum: You… you’re serious?

 

Daihm nods confidently.

 

Punky lets a smile cross over his face and then shakes her head in disbelief. 

 

Punky the Clown: Well… I hope you don’t think we’re changing our name or anything. But, I suppose a trio DOES sound a bit better than a duo.

 

Daihm nods in approval as Bubble Gum jumps up with excitement and wraps the both of them in a large group hug.

Bubble Gum: Oooo! I’m so excited! Pop Punks FOREVER! 

 

Daihm smiles and raises a fist in the air.

 

Daihm: Pop Punks Forever!

 

And, finally, Punky shakes her head and brings the three of them closer together, whispering.

Punky the Clown: Pop Punks forever…

Void Vs. Go Gensai

Atonement

 

Black screen. 

The sound of something cutting through the air with speed, then a wet, snapping impact.  A groan.  Weak, but it comes from deep within a human body, an expression of pain that originates somewhere deep in the meat and then resonates out through the lungs. 

Drip. 

A voice.  We know it.  The graveyard speaks again. 

‘For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you.  You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins.’  Don’t pass out now.  Not yet.”

When we do see an image, it’s a tight shot of a bloodstained shirt, covered in grime.  One scarred hand raises into the frame, holding a braided length of leather that is dripping crimson.  The other grips the lash, twists it, drags along it’s length, causing most of the blood to splatter across her clothes and the ground. 

Black again. 

“He spoke to me and told me about that cancer in you, Victor Thane.  Aint much to be done for that except to tear it from you.  Piece by piece.”

Back to a visual.  Victor Thane’s face is laying against the same tree stump.  He looks positively filthy, coated in dust that is only broken up by rivulets of sweat and streaking lines of tears that have escaped from his bloodshot eyes.  His lips are ragged, chapped.  His teeth are filthy.  How long has it been?  His gaze rolls forward, then his pupils move in erratic directions.  He cannot see behind himself.  He desperately wants to.  But all he can do is mutter and mumble, something that could be words or a sentence if he had more sustenance, if he had been able to rest without the chill of the desert at night making him shiver under the cheap blanket she throws around him for comfort.  He finally manages something weak.  Barely audible. 

“…mercy…”

Black again. 

There she is again. 

“Again.”

When the visual returns, it’s a long view.  Low to the ground.  We can see Thane’s face above the top tof the tree trunk.  On either side, his hands, caked in grime and blood, boud to one another with a length of rope that is strung through a corkscrew leash stake.  His wrists have been rubbed so raw the fresh red shines in garish technicolor vibrancy against all of the earthen tone dust. 

We also see her behind him.  She cocks her arm back.  Swings it forward. 

That cut of the air. 

That bite into the skin. 

His head flies back, and his eyes open wide.  He blinks as his jaw moves, wanting the words to come, but only the groan remains.  She swings again. 

Cut. 

Bite. 

The tears are coming, he cannot stop them.  He looks deranged, gripping at the bounds again, tearing his wounds fresh, every muscle and sinew working towards a goal that will never be achieved.  His futility is poison to him.  A situation he cannot slide from.  There is only the cut.  Only the bite.  Only the sun and this trunk.  He tries to twist his neck to meet eyes with her and cant.  Through a shuddering sob of a breath, we hear it once again. 

“…mercy…”

Cut. 

Bite. 

Cut.

Bite. 

Black. 

Black screen and all we hear are the shuffling steps.  Her boots in the gravel and dust.  The loping, unsteady stride of someone who has broken their back working hard for all of their life.  Her whisper carries dread on it’s wings despite her intent, the choked and raw vocal cords rasping against one another. 

“When the Romans took him , there was a law.  Forty lashes would kill a man.  Thirty-nine was considered the maximum before a man would perish and he would be called to the kingdom.  ‘And the Lord of Hosts shall brandish a whip against him as He did when he struck Midian at Oreb’s rock.’

When we return, we are behind her, following her.  Amidst the clouds of dust, there the form is.  Nude.  Bound like a penitent.  The shoulders sagging and swelling with sobs. 

The back is an absolute roadmap of welts and split skin, the brighter red blood coursing next to almost blackened dried streaks, the wounds puffy and irritated in the dry conditions, dirt clinging to open flesh. 

Charlie Jay walks to where she has lashed her charge, her victim.  She udly tosses the braided leather to the ground, where it lands with the briefest splatter before dust and earth claim the blood clinging to the strips.  There is a pause.  For once, she seems unsure of the next step.  She places her bloody hand on his head.  It is a motion of comfort done by someone who has never comforted another human being in her life.  It is alien in her muscles.  Still, the effort is made, and what little fight he has left in him melts away.  He practically nuzzles into her touch, unable to speak, brain not firing in any way that is proper anymore.  She removes her hand, and it goes to her belt with a practiced fluidity that is the opposite of her attempts to comfort.  Draws her hunting knife.  Leans over.  Slices the rope.  His arms drop to his side.  He collapses into the ground.  She sheathes her blade with a satisfying settle into the leather, snaps it secure.   Then we hear nothing save for the wind and the delirious groans of Victor Thane.  She looks at him.  Looks at his pain and his suffering–if either make any smight impression on her, she doesnt betray it.  Instead, she walks off.  Out of frame for a moment, leaving him there, red and flesh amidst the bleached earth.  Then she returns.  Sets down a gallon jug of distilled water next to his head. 

Walks off. 

“We will see what redemption looks like for you, Victor Thane.”

Black. 


Something Far More Dangerous

There is a knock on one of the many locker rooms that line the SHOOT Project Epicenter and as the camera pulls back we see Ayumi Seppuku, in full ring gear and face paint, standing outside.

 

As Ayumi steps back we see the name “Void” scrawled on masking tape in Sharpie. The scene  comes into frame just long enough for the crowd to process the situation before the door opens up revealing the monstrous figure of Void, wearing his mask as he casts his gaze down towards the Ronin Wraith, a hiss of air can be heard as he breathes in deeply before ‘greeting’ Ayumi coldly.

 

Void: Seppuku… to what do I owe this pleasure?

 

The last word rolls off of Void’s lips like icor.

Ayumi doesn’t budge, her war paint a reflection of sorts against Void’s mask.

Ayumi: We didn’t have a chance to connect after our match… I wanted to rectify that. To let you know that no matter what happens, no matter what has happened in your past, I hope we get the chance to meet in the ring sometime soon.

 

Void grimaces against the pain he’s no longer able to hide. He still isn’t healed, he still isn’t strong enough. The frustration of his situation is evident in his iron clenched jaw.

 

Void:  Seppuku. Why do you want to connect with me? Do you go to all of your former opponents and try to shake hands and say good game? Is this a thing you do?

 

He rolls his eyes behind his mask before he allows her into the room with him. It isn’t a dressing room as much as it’s a custodial closet with a broken lock. Void slumps down in a chair against the back of the room and sighs.

 

Void:  It doesn’t matter. You beat me, Seppuku. Do you seek to try to, I don’t know, rub it in?

Ayumi cocks her head to the side and stares at Void directly. This unflinching confidence seems to make him nervous and his eyes try to look anywhere but back at her.

 

Ayumi: That’s a fair question and I suppose my answer is that I repay respect with respect. I understand your friend… Fade? I heard she extended her congratulations after our match and I appreciated that. I wanted to meet her as well. Is she here?

 

Void:  No.

 

His answer is terse and judging by his response it is clear it’s a matter he won’t entertain any further discussion. Void looks back to Ayumi, looking at her up and down again and again as if sizing her up for a meal or a conflict, though his body language makes it clear he won’t be doing any such thing.

 

Void: I had my Fade inform you on social media of a job well done against me and you needn’t bother asking for her again. I make no excuses for a defeat. I was not prepared for you and you bested me. Such a fault shall not occur again. You should focus instead on the remainder of this tournament and perhaps your own people. You have a broken little family of your own to deal with given the current state of disarray in VALOR so do me the courtesy of staying away from mine.

 

Ayumi’s genuine look of concern for Void is almost more infuriating to Void than any other reaction she could have had.

 

Ayumi: What makes you think VALOR is in disarray? Just because we’re not worshiping at Lindsay’s feet or asking NEMESIS for our next orders doesn’t mean we don’t have each other’s backs. You know, Void, trust and friendship isn’t the same as codependency.

 

Void:  Your faction is scattered, divided, leaderless. Cassidy is a drunk, DeMitri is a headcase, Troy is a fool, Courtney is truant, and then there’s you.

 

Void’s eyes now lock in on hers.

 

Void:  So much different from who you once were, so different from what you have been before, so desperate to be considered a hero I wouldn’t be surprised if your transformation was less a chrysalis and more casting a shroud over your shame. I know your career, Seppuku, I’ve seen your history. The last thing I’ll do with my time is let someone like you come to me and tell me of trust, friendship, or any other false platitudes.

 

He rises up, fully armored.

 

Void:  I am not your fellow combatant you can go shake a hand, smack on the ass, and go “good game” after it’s over. I stew on my defeats. I plan, I plot, I scheme, I make sure I never feel that shame again no matter what it takes. I survive. I survive and I do it not by shaking hands, kissing babies, and pretending to be something I’m not. You need to leave before this goes beyond your little respect circlejerk and becomes something far more dangerous. Say your peace and leave me in mine.

 

Ayumi sighs and shakes her head.

Ayumi: Dangerous huh? Who are you trying to convince of that, Thomas? Me? Or yourself?

Void says nothing at this. His cold stare cuts through Ayumi as he simply turns his back to her and calmly closes the door behind him, leaving her alone in the hallway.

 

After several seconds, Ayumi lowers her head in defeat.

 

Ayumi: Shit.



Ayumi Seppuku Vs. Jamie Johnson

Something to Prove

We’re getting used to this. 

Backstage.  Alone.  They afford him this, people avoid this section of hallway.  Is it out of fear, respect, or distaste—he doesn’t really know.  Later, after the fight, when he’s in that twilight moment, he’ll think on it and consider if he comes across as unapproachable.  But for now, he bounces from foot to foot.  Throws high knees with a sort of speed that frankly, on his bulk, looks like a cheat code.  He doesn’t look to the camera, which sways with a sort of handheld verité, but he does begin to speak. 

Robideau: The path and the way.  I’ve been thinking about it more and more. 

Come off the knee strikes.  Work dodges.  Duck, weave, bend, twist.  Activate all those pesky hidden muscles in the torso, make sure they’re warmed up for when you need them. 

Robideau: A strong fighter can fight on his skill alone.  Doesn’t need to prove anything and can do great things.  Win a lot of battles.  Attain championships.  But a strong fighter is always going to pale in comparison to a fighter who is fighting for something.  A fighter with something to prove or something to save can be less skilled than his opponent and still win.  It’s the ‘heart’, or an ‘intangible’.  That sort of invisible factor that can’t be measured and can’t be trained. 

He stops moving.  Shakes out his left arm, then his right.  Hooks his fingers together and spreads his palms out, cracking every knuckle.  He looks at the camera, his face warm, even softly smirking.

Robideau: This is where I would hedge my bets.  Say that you’ve got a good chance Ignatius, because even though I’m more skilled than you, you have something to prove.  That hunger.  But then I kept thinking about them.  The path.  The way.  And then I realized: You want to prove something that’s already been proven, and I want to prove that my life hasn’t been wasted.  And the jury is still out on that one. 

Nate crosses his arms.  Studies some detail on the floor.  Thinks for a moment. 

Robideau: You want to prove you belong, Ignatius Albert Martin.  You want to prove that your second act has legs and that you aren’t just another athlete trying to coast on his numerous physical gifts to get by.  That you’re taking this seriously.  But you know what?  You’ve proven that.  There isn’t a person in this company who doubts your bonafides, and if they do, they’re ignoring the plain evidence.  You can hang.  You’re here for the right reasons.  You’re looking down the barrel of a long and fruitful career. 

Nate cranes his neck to the left side until a staccato crack is heard.  Same with the right. 

Robideau: I’m trying to prove that what I teach has validity.  That maybe one day I can rub shoulders with Kano and Gracie and Saenchai.  And Ignatius?

His eyes meet the camera, and he smiles.

Robideau: I’m old and desperate, too. 

Nate chuckles to himself for a moment before straightening his back out and rolling his shoulders.  Hopping from foot to foot.  Now he feels loose.  But when he speaks, his voice has dropped an octave.  His words are hard edged. 

Robideau: I’m more skilled.  I’m hungrier.  And here in a few I’m going to prove whose division this will be.  It will be an Ignatius. 

He stops.  Looks up to the ceiling.

Robideau: Ignatius Te’moak Robideau. 

With that, he throws his hood up over his face and jumps up and down a few times.  He stalks down the hallway, throwing the odd hook shot and jab, a man on a mission.  A man with a match.  A man who is hungry to prove something.  

 

The Summit

The room is oval, like an office, with a large oaken desk in center. There is an emblem designed into the office’s carpet. It is the logo for the Unholy Breedlove Empire. It’s like a family crest, only Joshua Breedlove’s face is in the center. On the desk, the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship sits in a clear glass display case. Behind it, is the champion himself, Joshua Breedlove.

Joshua Breedlove, UBE Emperor and SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion: PONTY! What’s on my agenda for today?

 

Dr. Pontificus Kensington, UBE Spokesperson: It is Revolution today, sir. The ApeX continues, your old compatriot KIMO has an opportunity against Buck Dresden…

 

Joshua Breedlove, UBE Emperor and SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion: I beat him once.

 

Arthur Osborne, UBE Historian: That is correct, back in 2016. You have yet to face him again.

 

Joshua Breedlove, UBE Emperor and SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion: Second verse will be same as the first. I hope KIMO does well. What’s next?

 

Alexandra Vergara, UBE Intern: You may want to consider responding to Lindsay Troy, who has decided upon herself to challenge those ruffians that don’t understand how first come, first serve works.

 

Joshua Breedlove, UBE Emperor and SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion: I’ll pass. If Lindsay wants to put herself in a precarious situation prior to facing me, that is her business and her risk to take.

 

Dr. Pontificus Kensington, UBE Spokesperson: So the official comment will be that there is no comment?

 

Joshua Breedlove, UBE Emperor and SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion: Correct, Ponty. What else?

 

Alexanda Vergara, UBE Intern: You saw that Chad Kyle rebuked your offer of a tailor and reservation at Hell’s Kitchen, I’m sure.

 

Joshua Breedlove, UBE Emperor and SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion: I did. Chad is his own man, I can respect that. Is that all?

 

Kelvin Breedlove, UBE Gopher: Here you go sir! Coffee!

 

Breedlove takes a drink of it and QUICKLY spits it out onto Kelvin Breedlove’s shirt.

 

Joshua Breedlove, UBE Emperor and SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion: How fucking DARE you bring me swill like this?! What is this, DUNKIN DONUTS??? This is a STARBUCKS ORGANIZATION, KELVIN. YOU ARE SO LUCKY YOU ARE FAMILY.

 

Black.

Nate Robideau Vs. Ignatius Albert Martin