Table of Contents
Make Way for the King
“Make Way for the King” by OHANA BAM EXPLODES over the speakers and the capacity Epicenter crowd comes alive right before transitioning to a SERIOUS amount of boos when they realize what’s happening. Crimson and gold shiny confetti falls from the sky, blurring everything out, confetti everywhere, and then…
“MAKE WAY FOR THE KING”
Crimson and gold pyro shoots out from various places on the ramp, announcing and confirming the entrance of the former SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion, Joshua Breedlove!
Eryk Masters: This is great news!
Other Guy: What do you mean?
Eryk Masters: If Breedlove is here, then that means his contract stuff must have gotten sorted out! This is awesome!
In full royal garb, the EMPEROR of the HOLY BREEDLOVE EMPIRE steps out onto the top of the ring ramp as confetti continues to shower down from the top of the building, nearly covering Breedlove, who makes a motion like he’s peering through the curtain, and he begins his walk down the ramp!
Other Guy: For those of you who don’t pay attention to the business part of this thing, there’s been a lot of discussion about what was going to happen with Joshua Breedlove. He suffered the loss of the World Heavyweight Championship at Champion’s Choice and then news hit that Breedlove’s SHOOT Project deal had expired.
Eryk Masters: And being the consummate business man that he is, Breedlove was not willing to sign whatever slop was thrown his way by the Real Deal, oh no.
Other Guy: I heard it a little differently, and that SHOOT Project was evaluating whether or not keeping this blowhard on the roster was worth the money.
Breedlove reaches the ring, disrobes (literally, because he’s wearing like… kingly garb), and then rolls underneath the ring, khaki slacks and a shirt that reads “The Emperor”, with a microphone somehow in hand.
Joshua Breedlove: Oh my godddddd, thank you guys SO much for this warm welcome, and to kick off Revolution 175, believe it or not! Wow! I’m SOOoOOoOOo grateful to all of you! We’ve got some things to talk about, Las Vegas, and none of them are things that you DESERVE to hear, but they’re things I’m going to tell you anyway, because there’s been a lot going on in the ol’ Breedlove world.
The crowd boos at the shade being thrown, but Breedlove ignores it.
Joshua Breedlove: So last time I was out here, in this ring, I was beaten, soundly, by Ignatius Albert Martin.
The crowd ERUPTS at the name of the new World Heavyweight Champion!
Joshua Breedlove: Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves guys… Anyway, I didn’t expect it, the rest of the Empire didn’t expect it, and I know the world didn’t expect it, but I stand before you with no title around my waist–in my hand–nothing. No championships for Breedlove, but that’s okay. IAM will be… I don’t want to call him a great champion yet, but he COULD be a good champion.
The crowd gives a surprisingly positive reaction to that.
Joshua Breedlove: Okay, settle down. One of the things that happens in the professional wrestling business is that when you lose a title, ya get a rematch, but I actually hate that stipulation because I think it’s stupid, and so I waived mine.
The other thing that happens in this business is that contracts expire, and that’s what happened. For the last several days, Joshua Breedlove was technically a free agent. And believe me, I fielded all sorts of calls from all sorts of places, but SHOOT Project is home and home is where the heart is, right?
Joshua Breedlove: Fuck all that. We couldn’t come to an agreement on a long term deal, so we compromised. You see, I have something that the Real Deal and the SHOOT Project wants and I’m not letting it go without getting exactly what I want, and I haven’t gotten that yet… so, we’re still negotiating.
That makes me being here a little wild, right?
What we DID agree on was that I’d extend my contract end date through Redemption! That’s right! And what did I get for that?
A shot at the World Heavyweight Championship AT REDEMPTION!
The crowd boos and are somewhat confused, given the previous chatter about rematch clauses and the link.
Joshua Breedlove: I know, it’s weird because I just talked about how rematch clauses are ass, but what I did wasn’t enact a rematch clause, I used some of my leverage as a bargaining chip and so… whether it’s Ignatius Albert Martin, RAIKO, or Bobson Dugnutt, I’m challenging for the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship at REDEMPTION.
The crowd commits to the booing this time, as it’s now been cleared up for them. “Make Way for the King” hits, ushering Breedlove out of the ring. He walks up the ramp, doing the royal wave. You know the one. He’s taking his good, sweet time too.
Eryk Masters: Awesome! Well, while he’s doing that and enjoying himself, we’re going to get things cleared up out here and then we’re getting to it.
Other Guy: That’s right, folks. I’m sure we’ll hear more from him at some point, but for right now? We’ve got a big time tag match kicking this show off, and that’s the returning Spinebuster Island challenging Blood Money and that match is NEXT!
Blood Money Vs. Spinebuster Island
Rose Has a Plan!
What are we doing back here, Curtis?
We find ourselves backstage. Alexander Vaka trails behind a determined looking Curtis Rose as they pace up and down the hallways of the backstage area.
Vaka: Again, I ask, what are we doing back here, Curtis?
Rose stops in his tracks and holds a hand up in a shushing manner.
Rose: He’s around here somewhere. I gotta find him!
Vaka has seemingly finally had enough. At this point in the evening he has now followed his partner from the Administrative offices, to the locker rooms, to catering, and everything in between. At no point did Curtis ever say what he was doing, or who they were looking for, just that he needed Curtis to follow him. The anger on Vaka’s face had started to show by the time the camera arrived, and it has now boiled over at the lifting of Curtis’ arm.
Vaka: Curtis, we have a match tonight. It’s our first match under the Empire Banner, and I’m a little concerned at your lack of focus here. I thought that joining up with the HBE would give you just the slightest bit of purpose, but here we are again, doing some kind of nonsense instead of preparing for out match against Martial Law. What in the Heck are we even doing here?
After Vaka’s explosion, Curtis Rose stops in his tracks. He doesn’t seem angry like Vaka, just flustered, almost like he’s been caught red handed. Without turning to face Vaka, he hangs his shoulders down and turns his gaze towards the floor.
Rose: You don’t understand, this is about our future. It’s about our future as Tag Team Champions. And our future spot as the Greatest Tag Team in the Empire. As of right now, no one even talks about us. Like we’re some kind of joke. Spinebuster Island practically named the entire Tag division, even those new Lion guys. But nothing about us.
Vaka: Well, to be fair to everyone, you have kind of made us a bit of a joke. You run our mouth on Spitter all day, never train, and then we lose. So…That kind of tracks, Curt.
Rose: WELL NOT ANYMORE AXE!
Curtis resumes his searching posture and begins furiously knocking on doors in the hallway. After the first two doors Vaka finally has had enough. He takes a hand and places it on the shoulder of Curtis, almost pulling him off his feet in the process.
Vaka: Curtis, stop. We don’t have time for whatever this is here. So either tell me what we’re doing and explain how its going to help up beat Martial Law, or lets get back to the gym and get ready for out match tonight.
Rose: Fine, but you’re not going to like it.
Vaka: Do I ever?
Curtis Rose spins in place to face Vaka. He turns his head to the floor like a scolded child.
Rose: Ok. So…before you get mad, hear me out. So Real Deal has promised Chad Kyle that he can challenge for any title of his choice if he beats Broodwarden right?
Vaka: A quite literal tall task, yes, I am familiar.
Rose: OK! So We all know that Chad Kyle is incredibly stupid. Like way stupid. Like, Chad probably has to have Ria lace his boots for him before he goes down the the ring for his match. As in, he probably isn’t talking shit about BroodWarden on Spitter, he probably really just can’t spell it. Like, He’s so stupid that…
Vaka raises his hand and places it over Curtis’ mouth, catching Rose by surprise.
Vaka: Enough! Just get on with your point here.
Rose: Alright alright. So all we have to do is talk to Chad, and convince him that they best possible use of his free title shot is to give it to us. So that we can Challenge Troy and Ayumi for the belts. This is the best time to go after them, before Ria and Danni get another shot. I really amd getting tired of getting kicked in the face by the two of them. So we tell Chad that if he let’s us have the shot, then it can’t save his girlfriend from having to embarrass herself getting beaten again. Honestly I haven’t quite figured out the details yet, just that he may have something we want, and we’re gonna have to get it.
Vaka stops, thinking about this for a second. A smile comes across his usually dour face.
Vaka: This isn’t the most noble of plans I’ve ever heard, Curtis. I have to admit though, it actually might work. Ok, I’ll give you a little more time. Let’s go find him.
Who you looking for!? Maybe I can help?
Both Curtis and Vaka turn to look at the voice. At first Curtis starts to answer, but is immediately taken aback by Chad Kyle standing in front of them. Rose looks panicked, and Vaka just has a bemused look on his face.
Chad: You guys have been looking around here like crazy for someone, I thought about asking earlier, but I’ve just had an awful lot going on. But things seemed to have calmed down a bit before my match, so I thought I’d give you a hand.
Curtis looks to Chad, almost puzzled.
Vaka: Actuall, Chadwick, Curtis was looking for you. Well…Go on, Curtis. You had some business with Mr Kyle?
Chad: Aw man! I love business talk. No one ever really wants to talk business with me, but I think I’ve got a pretty sharp mind for it. Really, its not easy running an entire Democratic People’s Republic all on your own. People think it just happens, but it’s a lot of work!
Rose: Right…So. Listen, we here are Fear and Loathing are really loving what you’re doing out there. Like seriously. Great stuff. We know that there is no chance that Broodwarden can outclass you in the ring. We’ve noticed all of your hard work.
Chad beams from ear to ear at the recognition of all of his “hard work” that he’s been doing as of late.
Chad: Aw man! Thanks Curt! You know, I was pretty sure that you hated me, but hearing all of this from you, right now before I have one of the biggest matches of my career, it really makes me think. Maybe we can be best friends afterall!
Curtis grits his teeth and does his best not to recoil as Chad reaches out and gives him a few friendly stikes on the shoulder.
Rose: So hear me out. I know that you’ve been talking a lot about getting into the tag division with the feww title shot that you are bound to earn tonight. But I ask you this: Do you really want to get in the way of your girlfriend getting her title back? What if you win, and the stress of you being the championship is just too much for your relationship? What then?
Chad: I mean, I did think about that. I don’t want Ria to be mad at me. I just dont think that theres much I can do about that. Besides, Ria always told me to just do my best and that she’d be proud of me. So I think that we should be ok, ya know?
Curtis starts to move with a bit of panic. His plan seems to be falling apart in front of him.
Rose: Yeah but still. You don’t want to risk it do you? I mean, women can get pretty jealous. Trust me man, I know this kind of stuff. I’ve been around.
Vaka openly chuckles at Curtis saying he’s “been around.”
Rose: Axe! Shut it! Listen, Chad. I don’t want you to have to go through the same stuff that I have. I want to help you…like a mentor! A tag team mentor! That’s it!
Chad: Oh Man! That would be awesome! You guys are a pretty great tag team! When I challenge for the titles, I’m gonna need guys like you to show me the ropes. This day is turning out awesome!
Rose: No…see I was thinking that the only way that we could truly teach you how to be a champion is if…we were champions? So ou win the shot, you tell Real Deal that you want us to take it for you. Then when we are champions, we can teach you how to be the best champion you can be. So when me and Axe think that you’re ready, we give you a shot at the title. A real student versus master kind of deal.
Chad looks at Curtis with a puzzled look on his face for a minute. The gears are most definitely turning inside of his head, but they have appeared to grind to a halt. Curtis is anxiously awaiting Chad to say anything at all, while Vaka just seems terribly disinterested in the inane banter between the two.
Chad: Wait…you want me to give you my title shot? So that you can give me a title shot later on? If you can beat LT and Ayumi?
The camera can almost hear the clang of metal grinding against itself in Chad’s ehad as he attempt to work through this scenario in his head.
Chad: But if I keep my title shot, then I can just go ahead and challenge myself, and we can still be friends and train together and all that! So it’s really a win win for me. Aw man, Curtis you’re super smart! I’m glad we’re friends. I can’t wait to train with you guys its gonna be a blast!
Curtis Rose stands in the type of bewildered look that can only come from a cartoon. His mouth, open, his stance hunched over. Chad leans in and gives his new best friend a hug and begins to walk off. Vaka pats Curtis on the shoulder as he shoults at Chad as he is walking down the hallway.
Vaka: Always a pleasure, Chad. I’m sure Curtis can’t wait to get into the gym with you. Just give me a call, I’ll set it all up.
As Chad fades out of the camera’s view, Vaka slaps Rose on the back, taking him out of his daze.
Vaka: You didn’t really think that would work did you? I’ve indulged you long enough, it’s time to get back to work before the match starts. We’re gonna earn a title shot the old fashioned way, and you’re going to do your part.
Vaka turns to walk the other direction. Rose moves to follow but is still shaking his head in disbelief. The camera fades as the two men walk off camera back towards the locker rooms. H
Chadwick Kyle: Victim's Advocate
An angry-looking Blaze Claymore sits at a folding table with his arms crossed.
The SAG Award Winning* actor has set up shop outside of Real Deal’s office, a clipboard and stack of papers off to the side with a giant sign hanging in front of him that reads:
“FREE BLAZE CLAYMORE”
No one, not a SINGLE person had even slowed down while walking past the table. It was becoming clear that no one was taking him seriously.
Voice: I’ll take it!
A confused-looking Blaze looks up to see a smiling Chadwick Kyle sauntering his way down the hallway in his ring gear.
Blaze: Excuse me?
Chadwick: Your sign. What do I need to do to get the free Blaze Claymore?
Blaze blinks at Chadwick.
Blaze: Chad, this is a protest. I’m fighting to be freed from the clutches of this new so-called Chief of Staff. He’s a madman! Can you believe that I was assaulted and I have to get permission, from my abuser mind you, to fight her? I mean
Chadwick: Her who?
Blaze: Lexi Gold.
Chadwick: Awwww she’s sweet. She gave me cake.
Blaze: THAT CAKE WAS BAKED WITH LIES!
Chadwick recoils, legitimately shocked and concerned about the cake.
Chadwick: So wait…you’re telling me that Lexi lied to me? Or did she lie to the cake while she was baking it?
Blaze rubs his temples with his thumb and index finger.
Blaze: No Chad, she used the intense heat of all of her lies to bake the cake. It was like a convection of deceit! She has the entire roster convinced that she’s some sort of nice person.
Chadwick: She sure seems nice.
Blaze: IT’S ALL A FARCE, CHAD! Can’t you see what she’s doing!? She’s hiding behind that bubbly pleasant exterior. In reality, she’s ducking real challenges! Why else would she keep wrestling Dan Stein over and over again instead of giving me my fair shot?
Chad places his chin in his hand and strokes his imaginary goatee for a moment as if he’s in deep thought.
Chad: You do make some pretty good points my dude. It sure does seem like that word. You know, the one where two people are working together? Contract? Conditions? Convection?
Blaze: No…she cooked the cake with lie Convection. You’re thinking of collusion.
Blaze gestures Chadwick to his clipboard.
Blaze: I’m trying to collect enough signatures to take this to the Las Vegas City Council, the Better Business Bureau, and maybe even Judge Judy. I will NOT be bullied into submission, Chad. I will NOT.
Chadwick: Let me help!
Blaze sits back in his folding chair and looks at Chad, who seems eager to help Blaze out. The SAG Award Winning* Actor’s eyes look over at the blank sheet of signatures for his petition and then suddenly his eyes light up as he reaches into his pocket and begins to unfold a piece of notepad paper.
Blaze: Chad! You want to help your friend Blaze out, right?
Chad: I do, like helping out my friends, this is true. I didn’t realize we were friends though.
Blaze juts forward in his chair, a deep look of concern crosses his face. He reaches one hand out to Chad, giving him a reassuring pat on one arm while sliding the paper outwards – drawing Chad’s attention.
Blaze: Of course we’re friends Chad! And friends help each other out. You see, I COULD take the time an effort to collect a bunch of signatures, which I could of course do because people support me in this important endeavor. OR you could help me make this all go away with just ONE signature. YOURS.
Chadwick: I have that kind of power?
Blaze: In a sense. So… because Lexi won’t face me head on I need your help to ensure I get justice! I need YOU, Chadwick Kyle, to be my Lexi Gold. More specifically, signing Lexi’s name right here on this dotted line.
Chadwick: I help my friends whenever and however I can… but this seems wrong.
Blaze: No, Chad. It’s justice. This is LITERALLY the perfect example of two wrongs making something right. If Lexi’s lies have baked a devil’s food cake of deception, your signature – as Lexi – will CRUSH the cake and in its place will rise a glorious, immaculate creme brulee.
Chad quickly grabs the pen and scribbles on the line.
Chadwick: All this talk of desert and I just want to eat, but danggit I’ve got this match. But hey, when you beat Lexi at Master Chef… I can try some of that cream brew, right?
Blaze takes the paper back and smiles. He reaches a hand out towards Chad for a handshake. Chad, instead of taking his hand, leans over the table.
Chadwick: Naw man. That ain’t it at all. Friends don’t shake hands. Friends hug it out, yo.
Before Blaze has a chance to react, Chad leans over the table and gives him a hearty man hug. He gives exactly three slaps on Blaze’s back before releasing him.
Chadwick: Looking forward to that desert once you beat Lexi. It’s a promise, yeah?
Blaze nods, looking befuddled.
The Chadster turns and continues on his original path – down the hall and towards his match with Broodwarden.
Chadwick Kyle Vs. Broodwarden
A Confrontation Before Confrontation...
The Cameraman finds himself backstage in the parking garage area of the arena. There are a few fans that have already lined up behind the barricades to see if the can catch a glimpse of their favorite superstars entering for Revolution. A few of them perk up as they see a car pull up in front of the door. Ignatius Albert Martin can be seen counting through a few bills and handing them up towards the driver of his Ride Share vehicle. Martin reaches towards his bags that sit in the seat next to him and opens the door. He slings his bag over his shoulder as a few of the fans start to move together to see if the can get an autograph or photograph. Martin gets out of the vehicle and turns to close the door.
IAM? We talk for minute?
The fans at the barricade snap to the left and recognize her before Martin can. RAIKO comes out from the shadows of the garage, looking like she’s always been there. The fans seem a little shocked and start grabbing their phones from their pockets, furiously texting and snapping photos of the two standing across from each other. Martin closes the door of the car and turns to face RAIKO, a hesitant smile across his face. The car pulls out of the drive as Martin starts to walk towards her.
IAM: Hey. Didn’t expect to see you, or anyone really, out here yet. Of course I got all night.
RAIKO: Want to make something clear. This not personal. What happen in match happen cuz you have thing I want. Would do same to anyone who face me.
Ignatius’s concerned posturing turns to that of a more relaxed person. He adjusts the bag on his shoulder, trying to find a more comfortable position for it, before just setting it on the ground next to him.
IAM: Naw man, I get it. No hard feelings at all. Besides, I was just playin’ on Spitter about all that fork shit, you know. I got it. You gotta do you. Still, I was a little taken aback when I had a defense like…right after I won. And I was definitely more than a little concerned when i found out it was you I was going out there against. Everything I see about you, just crazy good man.
RAIKO casually leans against a brick wall, arms crossed on her chest. Her eye is closed.
RAIKO: Appreciate kind words. World championship… It thing I wanted most when I come to SHOOT. Things have change since then. Are things more important that titles. But this opportunity still important to me. Do not want to let friends down. Do not want to let self down.
Martin stops to think over this for a moment. His first instinct is to reach out and place a reassuring hand on the shoulder of his challenger, but immediately thinks better of it. Instead, he reaches into his bag and pulls the championship out. Holding it in both hands. The crowd that has begun to amass in a larger quantity at the barricade are now furiously snapping photographs and a few of them have started talking back and forth to one another.
IAM: I’ve heard all of that. Hell, I said all of that. There are more important things than winning the belt, sure. But that’s why we’re both here after all. When it comes to personal lives, that’s different, but work? This is what it’s all about. This is what we come out here for every week and leave everything out on the mat. I’m not gonna pretend like I know you, or even know anything about you other than what your capable of in the ring. But I will say that neither of us have anything to be worried about when it comes to letting our loved ones down. We ain’t exactly seasoned vets, but we’re two of the best that this company has to offer, that’s evident by where we’re at.
RAIKO has not opened her eye, but her nodding at certain words and comments Martin makes shows she’s paying attention. Her posture doesn’t change otherwise, almost as if she’s become a statue with a moveable head. She finally does raise her head, opening her eye and looking directly at IAM.
RAIKO: Have been wrestling for 13 years. Almost been wrestling longer than have not. Been a part of many different things, variety of experiences. This match is most important of career. That all you need to know. Will give my everything tonight. Expect you will do same. Want this match to be remember as two warriors that gave everything in quest to be best. You will bleed. I might. No matter the pain, push through until only one is standing. I want to be that one.
Martin reaches down and puts the title back into the bag, his symbolic act, not hitting the mark that he was hoping it would. He stiffens his stance and attempts to hit the same stern mark that RAIKO has been, but is obviously not even close.
IAM: I got that. You don’t have to worry about me half assing it out there, if that’s what’s got you out here. We aint gonna give no garbage show out there. It’s the main event. It aint my first, and it aint gonna be my last. I appreciate you trying to find out where my head’s at, but my head is focused on keeping this thing I worked my ass off for. I know everyone in this arena wants to take me out and be champion. I don’t have any problem with you, or any bad blood, but I’m starting to get just a little aggravated with everyone making the assumption that they gotta tell me to bring my A-Game. I’m always on my game, win or lose. That’s why I’m where I am.
Martin’s tone has gone from it’s usual jovial nature, to something a bit more resembling irritation.
IAM: I don’t mean no disrespect, but if I gave anything less than a hundred when I went down to the ring, I wouldn’t be here, getting ready to defend this belt against you. I know how bad you want this belt, Hell I know how bad everyone wants to be the one coming out as champ. That don’t mean that I don’t. I know I lucked into this spot, but it’s mine to defend now.
RAIKO lets out a sigh and shakes her head. She pushes off the wall and stands inches from her opponent, looking up at him.
RAIKO: You not understand. You say you give one hundred percent. Believe you. You say you worthy champion. Agree with you. I take you seriously. But that mean you have to give more than one hundred percent. Will push myself beyond my limit. What is you limit, Ignatius Albert Martin? If one hundred percent is all you have to give… You will not win.
Martin looks his opponent directly in the eye. His defensive stance is on full alert now. He doesn’t puff his chest, but he doesn’t back down either.
IAM: I get it. I know exactly where you’re coming from, and I’m starting to see why you got picked to be my first defense. You don’t just want to win. You want to hurt, punish, bleed me out. That’s what winning is to you, and that’s fine. If that’s the kind of match that I’m going to have to have to prove that I belong where I am, then that’s the kind of match that I’m going to have. It aint my style, and it aint the kinda match that I like to have, but that’s part of the world of wrestling I guess. Every day of my life I’ve been given this hundred and ten speech. From my parents, coaches, from SAIGO. All of them. They all talk about that little extra push that takes you from being good to bein’ great. And I think I’m great. The world may not see it yet, you may not even, but they’re gonna. You’re gonna see it. Imma go get my ass dressed to go out and compete. And I’m gonna win. I’ll win bloodied, I’ll win exhausted, gassed, broken, whatever it is you got planned out there.
RAIKO looks IAM up and down one last time. She gives a subtle nod as she slowly backs away. She stops after a few feet, raising her right arm and pointing her index finger at the man.
RAIKO: Stay true to you word. It not my goal to just hurt you. My goal to hurt you in name of championship. But I go as far as needed to do that. We see what each of us truly made of!
RAIKO quickly turns and walks away. Martin watches her intently as she makes her way back towards the backstage area, waiting until she has passed through the doors before he leans down and grabs his bags. He starts to walk into the arena, stopping to adjust the look on his face back into a smile. After he has composed himself, he makes his way towards the back, stopping to sign some autographs from the fans before making his way inside.
Martial Law Vs. Fear & Loathing
The Hell Razor's #1 Fan!
The fans immediately start booing as we cut to the back and we see the Carolina Lions sauntering through the backstage area. CL Smooth himself, Isaiah “The Carolina Reaper” Galliard, leads the walk with his large lens sunglasses masking his eyes and a majority of his cheeks. He wears a denim jacket with patches all over it. His chain dangles precariously from his neck as he grins from ear to ear looking around. Behind him is CL Smoke, “El Fumar” Luis de Leon. Smoke is dressed with a Clemson orange puffy bomber jacket with purple furred interior, the same sort of large lens sunglasses on. He motions to various people in production and nudges Reaper, both men chuckling. They continue sauntering until Reaper bumps shoulders with a larger man, white tanktop and tights on. Behind him is a stockier man with a black leather jacket and a cigar chomped between his teeth.
Reaper: Ohhh shit, bruh, look! SAIGO no Eiyu! Yo, I used to download y’all matches from way back in the day. Y’all hated each other.
Keiji Tokugawa looks over to Daiichi and shrugs.
Smoke steps to his partner’s side and holds his hands up in surrender.
Smoke: Whoa man, ain’t no lines in the hallway, it was an accident. Maybe your boy should apologize.
Daiichi shakes his head and exhales a cloud of smoke.
Daiichi: Fuck that, fuck you, fuck you, fuck your sunglasses inside, fuck your stupid fucking jackets, fuck your disrespect, fuck your apologies, fuck your one win, fuck your smirks, fuck your ugly colors, fuck your everything and most importantly, fuck off.
Smoke is stunned. He stares at Daiichi and is about to buck until Reaper gets between them.
Reaper: Yooo, it’s a fuckin’ honor to get dressed down by y’all. Remember when you were the Hell Razor, man? Daiichi, my dude, that shit was legendary. Gettin’ told to fuck off by you?
Reaper claps his hands together.
Reaper: Means the world. Sincerely.
Daiichi lights the cherry of his cigar with a deep inhale of the smoke.
Daiichi: You’re strange.
Smoke: You got no idea, old man.
Keiji: Old man?
Keiji grins, picking up on the passive insult.
Keiji: You only win one match. Where we are from, that as impressive as buying popcorn for the show. No disrespect to the Twins.
Smoke: Nah, all disrespect to those bitch asses. We stomped them. We’ll go through you, too.
Daiichi: Think so, eh?
Reaper removes his sunglasses and pinches the bridge of his nose as Smoke is now chest to barrel chest with Daiichi.
Daiichi: I am still that Hell Razor, boy. Your friend knows. You do well to remember that.
Reaper pushes between the two of them.
Reaper: Bruh, stop. Seriously. We already got the Sisters of Steel on the radar. I ain’t tryna catch every eye until we got that gold.
Keiji: You want gold?
Keiji nods and cocks his head to the side with a sly smile.
Keiji: Our paths are destined to cross. If Ria and Danni do not end you first, we look forward to the honor.
Smoke: Yeah, we’ll see about that.
Daiichi inhales his cigar one more time and shakes his head.
Daiichi: Do what you do. When Ria and Danni are tired of your talk, they’ll deal with you.
Reaper: Countin’ on it, sir.
Daiichi rolls his eyes.
Daiichi: Let’s go, Keiji. Battles aren’t won in a hallway.
Daiichi pulls Keiji away from Smoke while Reaper pulls Smoke away as well. Once SAIGO has completely broken off contact from the confrontation, Reaper puts his sunglasses back on. He straightens Smoke’s bomber jacket and brushes it off for any dirt or disappointment that might be on there.
Reaper: Don’t worry about it, playboy, this our company and our division.
Smoke glares at the two veterans.
Smoke: El Paria tenía razón. Necesitamos remover los cimientos de esta empresa y gobernar como estamos destinados a hacerlo. Los imperios caen, Reaper.
Reaper: Yeah, bruh, yeah they do.
We cut away at this moment, with the Carolina Lions recollecting themselves.
A Family Disunion
Daihm Ferguson looks like he’s seen a ghost and so does Judy “Punky” Punchinello – but for different reasons.
The two SHOOT Project Soldiers are sitting in front of an oak desk and, behind the desk sits a man the Dragon recognizes instantly – a man he’s seen in photos, videos, and heard described to him countless times…
Lennox Ferguson. The Ox. His father.
Like looking at himself 20 years in the future, Daihm struggles to find the words to respond to what he had just been asked.
Lennox: I’ll say again, Daihm… can you tell me, in your own words, what happened at Ruination when you and Ms. Punchinello engaged in your confrontation?
Daihm’s head is spinning. He arrived at the meeting knowing he would be talking about Punky with a new executive staff member but seeing his dad in the flesh after all these years, after all his attempts to reach him on his own, to see him here – close enough to touch but so incredibly cold, and distant. He didn’t know how to process all of it.
Daihm: I… don’t…
Lennox: You don’t recall? That’s understandable; you didn’t have a concussion according to these reports, but any kind of sucker punch is likely to jostle your gray matter a bit.
Lennox looks at Punky, dressed unnaturally in a pin-striple suit, who looks ashamed and about ready to cry.
Lennox: And you, Judy?
Punky: I was angry because of something Sarah King had said. I threw a punch meant for Sarah but Daihm stepped in the way and I hit him instead. I never wanted to hurt Daihm. I never wanted to hurt anyone… I just wanted to defend my friends.
Lennox looks down at his report.
Lennox: Ah, yes… Ms. Seppuku and RAIKO. I’ve read their reports, as well as reports from Ms. King and Bubble Gum as well. Everyone but Ms. King backs up your story – that Daihm here stepped in front of the attack and took the brunt of it.
Daihm blinks, silent. Lennox sighs.
Lennox: Okay so… here’s where we’re at. Judy, you assaulted a fellow Solider outside of the confines of a match and that has consequences. Seeing as how this is your-
Lennox turns to look at Daihm; his reaction steely with determination.
Lennox: Why, what, Daihm?
Daihm’s eyes well up with tears as he stands up and presses his palms against his forehead, trying not to scream.
Daihm: Why are you here!? Now? For this!? Is this some sort of … what is going on!?
Lennox holds his hand up and motions for Daihm to sit down, which he does reluctantly.
Lennox: I understand there is a lot you and I have to discuss, Daihm, but right now I need to do my job and sort out what happened between you and Judy here. Are you finally willing to elaborate?
Daihm sinks back in his chair and remains silent.
Lennox: Understood. Well, then I have no choice…
Ox turns to look at Punky and sighs.
Lennox: Judy, if there is anyone in this room right now who understands the urge to punch Sarah King in the face it’s me. However, as a member of this company there is a certain level of decorum that we expect, that Mr. Johnson expects.
Punky looks at Daihm who looks away from his friend. She stiffens up and looks back to Lennox.
Lennox: You’re suspended, with pay, until further notice, Judy. We’ll continue to investigate the circumstances of this situation and hopefully…
Lennox looks back over to Daihm with a visible sense of disappointment.
Lennox: …hopefully we’ll be able to get this resolved sooner rather than later. I’m sorry.
Punky nods quietly to Lennox and then stands up to leave. As she does, Daihm reaches out but Punky pulls her arm back and shakes her head, refusing to look at her friend as she leaves walks away – exiting the room and letting the door close with a soft *click* leaving the father and son alone in silence.
Daihm looks up at Lennox with a kind of anger rarely seen in the young Scot’s eyes while Lennox’s eyes are just… cold.
Lennox: You better hurry up, Daihm. You wouldn’t want to miss your first title shot. Keep your head in the game and chin up.
Lennox’s tone is genuine, but not warm. As if he were talking to a stranger rather than his own son. Daihm shakes his head and stands up, disgusted, pounding his fist on the desk.
Daihm: Keep my… are you kidding?! Why are you doing this to me?
Lennox sighs, pressing his hands on the desk as he stands up to meet Daihm’s gaze. He looks like he’s about to say something but then merely straightens his tie, gesturing Daihm to the door of his office. Daihm swipes his father’s hand away and scoffs, muttering something to himself as he walks out the door and slams it hard behind him.
Ox lets out a breath and returns to his desk, beginning to sift through another stack of papers and taking notes.
Daihm Ferguson Vs. Lexi Gold (c)
After being in action earlier, Lexi Gold is seen backstage about to leave the arena, dragging her suitcase along, but before she can walk any further she is stopped by Abigail Chase who has a microphone in hand. Lexi looked worn out, and tired and just ready to head to her hotel room for the night; but was still happy to fulfill her request to do the interview.
Abigail Chase: Lexi, congratulations on successfully retaining your championship out there. How do you feel as a result of that?
Lexi Gold: I feel tired, but good. You know, last week I was put through the test by competing on both shows plus defending my title, but it’s nothing I couldn’t handle. This is the kind of stuff I signed up for and the reason why I’m the current Shut Up and Fight champion. What you just witnessed out there earlier was pure hard work and determination that has paid off.
Lexi looks down at her championship around her waist and smiles.
Abigail Chase: There is no doubt about that. You certainly have had your hands full dealing with Blaze Claymore antics as of late as well. Now that you signed the contract to face him, what can fans expect to see out of that match?
Lexi raises her eyebrow and looks confused by that question.
Lexi Gold: What the hell are you talking about? I never signed a contract to face him
Abigail Chase: I’m just passing on the information that I’ve been told.
Lexi’s eyes looked as though they were about to pop out of its socket right there and then.
Lexi Gold: What the heck is that fool plotting? Sneaky little…
Lexi tries to calms herself down before continuing.
Lexi Gold: Sorry, Abigail, I’ve got some… investigating to do. If you’ll… excuse me…
Lexi storms away from the scene, leaving Abigail watching on in concern.
A Backstage Conversation
Backstage, and for once, we don’t get to see Nate Robideau taping himself up. Punching a wall. Stretching. Drawing within himself for whatever inner strength and will he has to pull up from his gut every time he fights. We’re so used to seeing him work himself into a lather for some contest, it almost seems alien. He’d treat an opening match against Bobson Dugnutt like it was for the World Title. But right now?
He’s in what accounts for his standard coaching attire these days, though right now he’s just watching the monitors and chatting with the occasional road agent and combatant. Gym hoodie, a newer design with the bird logo taking up most of the back. Cotton shorts. Wal-Mart slide sandals. He seems practically jovial. But there’s a crackling in the energy of this area. Hard for some to notice, but Nate casts his eyes to the side like a dog catching something strange on the breeze.
And there he is. Larger than life by the virtue of just being who he is. We get to see Real Deal a lot, he’s active on Spitter, he does a lot of the press. But OutKast…OutKast parts the people backstage like Moses without a word. And when he locks eyes with Nate, it’s not a question. He walks past the Blackhawk Fight Gym Head Coach and nods in the direction of a locker room. To say that Nate has a choice in the matter is to misunderstand the dynamic. So he follows. And as soon as they’re in the room, he’s ready to be who he is. Nate Robideau. Neutral. Calm. Jovial.
Robideau: Been a while since we’ve talked, hasn’t–
OutKast, the normally withdrawn and quiet President of SHOOT Project, sneers as Nate speaks. His mere voice causes Sean Kygon to recoil.
OutKast: Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak. Let me say it again. Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak. Black Hawk. Native leader of men. Soldier. General. Hero. Villain. That’s the name of someone you fear.
Kast paces a bit, thinking about the Sauk leader. He clenches his fist as he speaks, holding it to his face to withhold his emotions.
OutKast: Instead, you’re out here using it like a brand name. Blackhawk gym. “Blackhawk” Nate Robideau. You own a gym. Congratulations. You lead who? You do what?
He stops himself, looking at Nate for a long moment as Nate tries to let the elder statesman of SHOOT Project say his piece.
OutKast: You know how long I listened to people in my career laugh at me because I shared my name with a rap group? People always got jokes, but I shut them down. I made it my mission…to shut…them…down. Because names matter, Nate. Titles matter. And you’re supposed to be a leader of men. Now, the one man you led, the one man you had with you…
He walks his two fingers along the invisible line between them. Once he finishes, he wipes his hand across the line, never losing his eye contact with Nate.
OutKast: …walked away. He’s gone. You trained Jamie. You gave him pointers, tips, advice. I watched that boy grow up. I saw him before his voice got any bass in it. I held him when he’d freak out over a nightmare and I was at Josh’s house. I fed that boy. He played with my kids. Hell, as far as I’m concerned, Jamie Johnson IS my kid. Now look at him. At the bosom of a megalomaniac. And you let it happen. So when I come to find you, I find you…chillin’. Life is good for good ol’ Nate Robideau.
He pauses for a second.
OutKast: Except it’s not.
Nate looks to the floor. We know his ticks–it’s not like his videos are long on special effects, so the finer points of his body language are on a more prominent display. He’s setting his lower lip, curling it into his upper. It’s Nate’s classic “I’m going to try and not snap” face. Kygon claps his hands, loudly, breaking Nate from his own spell.
OutKast: Nah. You don’t get to draw away from this. You’re right here, right now.
Robideau: And what would you have me do? Tell him “No”? Break his arm, his face, his spirit for even suggesting such a thing? Would you have me lead men with a hand that drips blood, Sean? There are inevitabilities in life and one of them is that children must walk their own path and own their mistakes. I am choosing to honor the fact that Jamie wants that different path. It’s not one I agree with.
He gets closer. There’s a bristling between them. When Nate speaks again, it’s almost a whisper, but it’s far from meek. It’s soft, tense wording. Defiant.
Robideau: But you don’t want to hear that.
OutKast: You don’t actually have kids, do you? You don’t have any idea what it’s like to see someone make mistakes you might have the influence to fix. And you? He looked up to you more than anyone. You knew the mistake he was making. Yet, here you are, washing your hands of it. That attitude right there? That’s why you didn’t even win your block let alone the whole ApeX. That attitude right there? That’s why you only held the World title for a few months and haven’t even sniffed the title scene ever since then. That attitude right there?
OutKast looks Nate up and down.
OutKast: That’s why a 52 year old man who goes by a name like OutKast and hasn’t wrestled in over a decade can get in your face with no fear that you’ll do a goddamn thing to him.
He lets that sink in for a moment. He can see it seething underneath Nate’s stoic face. His jaw is clenched.
OutKast: See, I remember when CK Butcher put you through the wringer. You had the taste of blood in your mouth. You could have changed the world. Yet here you are.
Robideau: Changed the world by what, beating anything that breathes into submission? Letting him win, letting him and Verde and every other person who is just like you be proven right? You know what? I am changing the world. In small ways. Every one of my students is a better man for having crossed that threshold. My gym is the lone safe space in a terrible, violent neighborhood. And it isn’t big, and I lost my star pupil, and you can step in here and piss on it all you want, but you..
He actually jabs ‘Kast in the chest with his finger.
Robideau:…you aren’t me. You haven’t seen what I’ve seen. You haven’t done what I’ve done. So yeah, you can walk up to me, broken down and surly, and you know I won’t do anything to you. And so could Ignatius, or Lexi Gold, or anyone. Because Nate doesn’t bring his fights backstage like a petulant child any more. I settle things where I settle them. Like an honorable man, for honorable reasons.
OutKast looks at Nate with a bewildered expression, part smirk and part astonishment.
OutKast: You mean kill a guy? That old thing? Because that’s about the only thing you’ve done I haven’t. Fight in mixed martial arts? Did that. Got the belts to prove it. Win a World title? Man, I started challenging for midcard belts because winning the World title got so damn boring I did it so much. Win the Rule of Surrender title? Oh wait, no…you didn’t do that one. That was me. Earn a spot in the Hall of Fame? Wait…damn, I’m sorry, Nate. That was me again. Oh wait, I know something you’ve done I haven’t!
OutKast holds his finger up.
OutKast: I’ve never had a student walk out on me.
He lets that statement linger in the air for a solid three to five seconds before he continues.
OutKast: I don’t care that you killed a guy. I don’t care that you’re scared to be a beast. I do care that you took a boy that I love like my own blood and you let him walk into the lion’s den without so much as a by your leave. You were perched on the precipice of greatness. Somebody this company could hang their hat on. Someone I could be happy if my kids came to you and wanted training or just advice. But you know what?
OutKast holds his arms out and smirks.
OutKast: You’re right. You are absolutely right. I came at you all wrong. Nate Robideau. Former champ. Former teacher. Former…
OutKast: …well, you know what I mean. I’m just a…what was it…broken down, surly old man, right? Yeah, that sounds like me. You go back to chillin’ out, Nate. Enjoy yourself. It’s a show! Woo. Hoo.
The smirk dissipates as OutKast takes a step away from Nate.
OutKast: Have a good night, Nate. I’d say I’m looking forward to your match but…you’re not booked, are you?
He nods at Nate as if he’s coming to understand something he isn’t letting Nate in on.
OutKast: Funny that.
And with that, OutKast takes his leave. Nate watches him go, silent–but his eyes are molten with fury. After a long, long moment, he exhales slowly, closing his lids. Trying to find his zen or grappl;ing with what was just said to him, we can’t be sure. But there he is. Eyes closed. Chastised.