Table of Contents
The stream comes alive as the SHOOT Project helmet burns its way onto the screen.
We cut to the Las Vegas skyline all lit up at night, spotlights shining up from the world famous SHOOT Project Epicenter and searching the skies as Killer Mikes voice kicks in.
To the mother of my enemy I just killed your son
He died with his face to the sky and it cannot be undone
We cut to the SHOOT Project tour bus zooming through a road on the open desert, the sands of the Mojave billowing out from the metal monstrosity.
He didn’t die hard in the end he just grinned and bowed
There’s a flash of red light and suddenly it’s night again and the record scratches, leaving us in silence for a moment until…
Ain’t nothin’ but a gangsta party…
The beat drops and we’re taken to the lit up skyline of Los Angeles. We pan around the city as the music plays, catching several LA landmarks all lit up in the night. The lyrics kick in just as we see the tour bus hurtling through LA traffic.
Picture perfect, I paint a perfect picture
Bomb the hoochies with precision, my intention’s to get richer
With the S N double O P…
The SHOOT Project tour bus pulls to a stop in front of the lot up LA Epicenter before the Revolution logo flashes on the screen.
We cut inside the LA Epicenter where pyro explodes and the thousands of SHOOT Project Faithful are just a rabid as the night before!
More Gold on the Horizon?
Backstage, Lexi Gold is sitting down on some crates that are located in the hallway. She has her head down, completely unaware that the cameras are on her. Abigail Chase walks up to her with a mic in hand and tries to get her attention.
Abigail Chase: Lexi, last week you tricked Blaze Claymore into competing in a cage match with you, but it backfired when he not only won, but he was able to capture your Shut Up and Fight Championship. A title that you held for five months and meant everything to you. How have you recovered from all of this?
Lexi raised her head up and looked at Abigail with disappointment and sadness in her eyes.
Lexi Gold: That’s the thing, I have not recovered from it. I keep watching it back and every time I do it makes me want to bash my head into a wall. I should have never played mind games, especially with the king of mind games himself. It was very stupid of me, and now I am left with no title around my waist.
Abigail Chase: True, but there is a silver lining to this, and that is you get another opportunity at getting your title back when you face Danni Johnson for a number one contendership spot for that title. Do you believe you can put aside what happened at Redemption and focus on tonight?
Lexi hops off the crates and takes a deep breath before smiling, seemingly happy now. She had no reason to continue to be down in the dumps.
Lexi Gold: Absolutely. Throughout my career, I have risen from every downfall that I’ve experienced and continued to fight. Tonight will be no different. I can’t change what happened at Redemption, but what I can do is move forward and better myself. I proved to the world and myself that I’m worthy of holding gold, and I’ll do it again. I dare Danni prevent that from happening. She will fail in her attempt, just like Blaze will at being a respectable champion. Now if you’ll excuse me, I got a number one contender’s spot calling my name.
Abigail Chase: Best of luck!
Lexi smiles again, turns on her heel and goes to get ready for her match while Abigail stands there as the scene fades to black.
Danni Johnson Vs. Lexi Gold
Iron Chef Bullshit
Voice: What the hell is this shit?
A camera finds The Carolina Lions standing over a serving tray in the craft services room of the LA Epicenter staring at a steaming plate of couscous layered with garbanzo beans, tomatoes, and feta cheese.
Reaper: Uhhh… I don’t know about this, man. This looks just…just awful.
The pair slide down the line towards another tray – this one filled with what look to be chicken sandwiches.
Smoke: Now this is what I’m talkin’ about, man. Some classic cajun blackened chicken and-
Smoke stops and stares in a mix of fear, wonder, and some frustration crawling across his face like a spider.
Reaper: What’s up?
Smoke: “Plant-Based Chicken Substitute.” What the fuck is “Plant-Based Chicken Substitute”?
Reaper blinks a few times himself as he stares at the patties before the two Lions.
Reaper: This is what they meant back home about West Coast food, bruh. All that “Impossible Meat” and avocado toast type shit. Made out of chickpeas and dandelions or some such.
A gentleman in a bright red-and-yellow silk shirt steps up to the pair wearing plastic serving gloves and has his long black hair bundled up in a net. He looks at the two confused fighters and claps his hands dramatically.
Sal Mancini: Benvenuto! I am Sal Mancini, the caterer for today’s extra special event. If you have any questions about these premier dishes, please let me know. We only serve the highest-quality, natural, fresh ingredients from-
Reaper: You got any potato salad?
Smoke: Or any Mac n’ Cheese?
Smoke: Chicken empanadas?
Reaper: Turkey sandwiches?
Smoke: Roast beef?
Reaper: Fried turkey legs?
Smoke: I’ll even settle for a shrimp burger.
Reaper: Or a turkey burger.
The caterer turns his nose up slightly, shaking his head.
Sal Mancini: No, but could I interest you in some miso-maple braised leeks or beet cappelletti with Meyer lemon-zested goat cheese and beet green pesto?
Reaper and Smoke look at each other and then back to the caterer before slowly backing away from the table as though they stumbled across a crime scene. For them, it’s definitely a crime scene. A culinary crime scene.
Smoke: You know what? We’re good. We like, you know, real food. Not this Iron Chef, Chopped ass silly shit.
Reaper: Hey, good luck with taking that leak and beating your cappelletti or whatever.
The two snicker a bit as they turn their backs on the caterer and leave the craft services area. Meanwhile, the caterer clenches his fist in anger and turns, punching his fist straight through the drywall behind him in frustration.
Sal Mancini: Cazzo! Bastardos.
Blaze Claymore in "Blaze Wins: A Shut Up and Fight Story"
Blaze Claymore stands nervously outside of the semi-famous Cinedrome in Los Angeles wearing a characteristic cheap tuxedo, but his defining ponytail has seemingly been lopped off as he sports a 1990s Brad Pitt-style frosted tips look instead.
A confused looking Chadwick Kyle, sporting a red-and-blue plaid suit jacket and jeans, flips through a series of pages attached to a clipboard. A visibly annoyed Abigail Chase stands off to the side with a camera operator at her hip.
Abigail Chase: Look… I agreed to come out here because I was promised an interview with the new Shut Up and Fight Champion, but I have no idea what THIS is all supposed to be. I’m losing my patience.
Blaze smiles and waves his hands dramatically.
Blaze: Nothing to be concerned about! All will be revealed soon.
Blaze leans over to Chad and whispers
Blaze: Chad… I’m very concerned here. You were in charge of the invites – where is everyone?
Chad shakes his head.
Chadwick Kyle: I’m not sure, Mr. Claymore. I sent out invites to everyone in SHOOT – except those who shall not be named, of course – I told them they were all invited to the exclusive rad carpet rewatch of your triumphant win against the siren of SHOOT Lexi Gold after she tricked you and tried to put you in a cage.
Blaze: Well, as you may remember she DID put me in a cage; but little did our little Lexi Luthor realize that the falling of that cage would be her downfall! Now it’s time for the rest of the world to see the truth I’ve been trying to share all along that there is a MASSIVE conspiracy and-
Blaze pauses and blinks several times at Chad.
Blaze: Wait… did you say RAD carpet party?
Chad nods and then throws up the horns.
Chadwick Kyle: What’s RADDER than a party with THE Blaze Claymore? Right?
Blaze sighs and presses the bridge of his nose.
Blaze: You’re not WRONG Chad, but it was supposed to be a RED Carpet party. You know, like at the Oscars, or the Emmys, or the Golden Globes, or…
Chadwick Kyle: The No-No Room in Grandmother Kyle’s House.
Blaze just looks confused at Chad, who genuinely looks like he’s trying to help.
Blaze: Look… Chad. We just can’t have a SAG Award Winning* Superstar in HOLLYWOOD and not have a red carpet premiere with glitz, glamor, gift bags, and best of all – grifting!
Chadwick Kyle: Was I supposed to get gift bags?
Blaze: Yes, Chadwick, of course! What else are we supposed to give to our guests?
Chadwick Kyle reaches into his pocket and rummages around.
Chadwick Kyle: Some Werthers originals, 40 cents in change, and my parking validation card.
Blaze: Are you sure YOU aren’t Grandma Kyle?
Chadwick Kyle: Last time I checked.
Blaze: Okay well… did we get any RSVPs for tonight?
Chadwick shrugs and just as Blaze is about to throw up his hands a car pulls up and a well-dressed couple that neither of them recognize step out and look around.
Man: Honey, I think we’re at the wrong place.
The woman looks nervously at her watch.
Man: Sirs! Sirs… can you tell me is this the premiere of the new Whoredorowsky picture? On Topo? We know there’s a showing tonight but can’t find the cinema.
Blaze looks around mischievously.
Blaze: Why of course! You’ve found the right place. You see, I’m Whoredorowsky’s assistant director and this here is the star of the picture… Chad. Say a line from the film, Chad.
The couple looks confused.
Chadwick Kyle: Um… Palms are sweaty. Arms are heavy. Vomit EVERYWHERE. Mom’s spaghetti….
The couple start to back away slowly, re-entering their taxi, as Chad fumbles to remember more lines of the freestyle from “8 Mile.” Chad looks back over to Blaze, obviously dejected.
Chadwick Kyle: OK. So I may have misspelled a few things on the invites. OK. But people will still come. I mean, who doesn’t want to come to the Raddest party in town?
Blaze: I hope you’re right, Chad. I mean… there’s so such thing as bad press, right? Maybe we can still sell this as the LEAST attended premiere in Hollywood history.
Chadwick Kyle: Oh! Brilliant idea. And, in fact, I made sure to send all the bosses specific “uninvites” to their offices. So no worry about them coming.
Blaze stops dead in his tracks and turns back around to face Chad.
Blaze: Go on….
Chad gets a very proud grin on his face and sort of pops up like a halfling, eager to explain his victory.
Chadwick Kyle: Of course I did! I sent individual letters to Real Deal, Donovan King, Lennox Ferguson, OutKast, all of the SHOOT referees, the city of Los Angeles, and of course to Lexi McBadwoman. It said that we were going to be doing a watch party of the match, and would be charging a minimal cover, but that they shouldn’t bother because they were, and I quote, “totes not invited.”
Blaze smiles and pats Chad on the shoulder.
Blaze: Ah! Yes! Reverse psychology! Exclusivity! Now I’ve got an even better headline for the papers: “Hundreds Turned Away From Epic Blaze Claymore Premiere Showcase.”
Chad claps his hands in excitement but stops suddenly as a shorter man wearing a black suit and tie walks up to the pair.
The Suit: Excuse me. Excuse me, gentlemen? Are you Blaze Claymore and Chadwick Kyle?
Blaze perks up once again at the prospect of a new guest to his party.
Blaze: That would be SHOOT Project Shut Up and Fight Champion, THE Blaze Claymore and his loyal sidekick, Chad. Luckily you are JUST in time for an exclusive premiere of “Blaze Wins: A Shut Up and Fight Story” and let me tell you only the most elite of the elite are able to get inside, that’s why you’ll see so many empty seats inside and absolutely no other reason.
The Suit: That actually won’t be necessary, sir. You see, I represent SHOOT Project management. It has come to our attention that you have pirated a copy of the recent Redemption show and are charging an admission fee to view it. I’m sure you’re aware that is a violation of US Copyright Law as well as your contracts….
Chad and Blaze look confused as they are handed a stack of papers.
The Suit: What I’ve handed you are Cease and Desist notices to shut this… thing down . Iimmediately. But, do try and have a good evening.
As the Suit turns and makes his way, the facade of calm has completely left the face of the SUAF Champion. Chad, for his part, is confusedly thumbing through the paperwork.
Chadwick Kyle: You know, this type of thing doesn’t happen in the Democratic People’s Republic of Chad. And if it did, it’s no big deal to just call up the President for a quick bit of immunity. Me being the President-
Blaze puts a finger up to the face of Chad and cuts him off mid-sentence.
Blaze: I was wrong Chad. Defeating Lexi Gold was not the end of Deep SHOOT’s nefarious schemes like I had hoped it would be. This is just proof of how deep Deep SHOOT goes. We have to regroup, Chad. We have to mount a truly united front. This is an act of WAR!
Chad nods in agreement and then confusion.
Blaze: I’m sorry. Until we can truly uproot the weed that is Deep SHOOT, the Democratic Republic of Chad will have to remain a figment of your imagination. I need you as my Vice President. My trustworthy aide… as we go beyond just overcoming Deep SHOOT, but launch a “Cool D’etat” (trademark pending) and become the NEW presidents of SHOOT Project.
Chad’s eyes grow wide.
Blaze: Let’s do it, Chad. Let’s win one for the Gipper!
Chad: The talking dolphin?
Blaze blinks in confusion at his new running mate and then smiles.
Blaze: Sure! To hell with logic! Blaze and Chad! Together, we’re going to make SHOOT Project Great Again!
Chad: That sounds problematic, but SURE!
The two SHOOT Project Soldiers embrace as the lights of the Cinedrome are shut off and the camera cuts back to in-ring action.
Josh Conway Vs. Chase Gold
A hush falls over the crowd in the Los Angeles Epicenter as the opening riffs to Electric Six’s “I Don’t Like You” hit the speakers – causing several groups of fans to stand up and peek their heads towards the entrance ramp while others look around confused.
Someone told me you were cool
But the more I think about it that someone must have been you
Did you actually read your books at school?
‘Cause you really don’t seem ready for the drop of the other shoe
Soon enough, a stoic-looking Lennox Ferguson, red hair slicked back and wearing a button-up shirt and tie, makes his way into the center of the ring as a chorus of boos follow him down.
Eryk Masters: We’ve seen a lot of the new SHOOT Project Chief of Staff behind the scenes, but this may be the first time he’s been out – main stage.
Other Guy: You’re right, Eryk. I have to wonder what this is all about….
The Ox waives off his music and straightens his tie before raising the microphone to his lips. Before he can say anything, the fans begins a chant:
Crowd: Chief of Crap! Chief of Crap! Chief of Crap!
Lennox shakes his head and tries to talk over the crowd, which only makes things worse.
Lennox: I wanted to come out her to-
Crowd: Chief of Crap! Chief of Crap! Chief of Crap!
Lennox: If you would just let me-
Crowd: CHIEF OF CRAP! CHIEF OF CRAP! CHIEF OF CRAP!
Lennox: SHUT THE HELL UP!
The crowd boos as Lennox grabs his head and tries to regain his composure.
Lennox: Now… Please. I’ll only be a few minutes. You see…
When there’s lightning, you know it always brings me down
‘Cause it’s free and I see that it’s me
Who’s lost and never found…
Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark” plays over the speakers, cutting the Chief of Staff off, as a set of rainbow fireworks go off on the entrance ramp and out of the back steps a dressed-down Daihm Ferguson in a sleeping shirt and leggings, but holding a HUGE pride flag as he stands at the top of the entrance ramp and begins to wave the flag rhythmically back and forth.
Crowd: DRAG-ON! DRAG-ON! DRAG-ON!
The LA fans are clearly on Daihm’s side as he firmly plants the flag at his side and stares down at the ring toward his father, gesturing for him to continue.
Lennox: Daihm. How fortuitous. First, let me commend you on being a strong advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights here in SHOOT Project. We are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate on the basis of race, age, gender, sex, sexual orien-
Daihm: What the ‘el are you goin’ on about? Fuckin… NO. What’s your play old man? Why are you set on making my life a living ‘ell?
The fans roar as Lennox shakes his head and sighs.
Lennox: As I was saying earlier… I wanted to come out here and address a couple of recent incidents. First, obviously, is the attack on Buck Dresden at Redemption. We are still trying to determine who the assailant was but we are doing everything in our power to bring the person or persons responsible to justice.
This gets a minor pop from the crowd, but Daihm looks unamused.
Lennox: Second, I wanted to, in the strongest terms, distance SHOOT Project from the actions taken by Jacob Mephisto and Azraith DeMitri in their match at Redemption. There is a distinct line between competitive fighting and… assault. We apologize to any families who were watching and would like to hear how we can improve our product. Just call our new customer feedback hotline at 1-800-SHOOTUP.
Other Guy: That could be problematic…
Daihm decides to sit down, cross-legged, still holding the Pride flag in his hands, as if Lennox was reciting a children’s story as he continues on… and the crowd begins to roar – getting antsy.
Lennox: But most of all, I wanted to come out here to reiterate SHOOT Project’s commitment to second chances. There is nothing more important in this world than getting the chance to make up for your mistakes….
The crowd begins to boo as Lennox turns to look directly at Daihm.
Lennox: So Daihm… I’m giving you a second chance to apologize to this company – and to me – for for your actions as of late.
Daihm looks dumbfounded up at the top of the ramp. He goes to speak but Lennox keeps going.
Lennox: Because you’ve refused to meet me in private, I had to make this public plea to get your attention. You see, SHOOT Project is a company that is in desperate need of discipline. Of rules. And regardless of position, name, or rank … RULES need to be enforced.
Daihm cockily rolls his eyes and goes to lie down, curling up like he’s about to take a nap.
Lennox: You’re only making this more difficult for yourself, Daihm. You see… Jamie Johnson accepted his punishment by putting his title on the line last night against your friend, Judy.
The crowd boos at Judy Punchinello’s name, while it causes Daihm to sit upright – suddenly keyed in to everything Ox is saying.
Lennox: So. AGAIN. I am going to give you the opportunity here and now to apologize to these fans for causing so much mayhem; to ME for your threats; and to Mr. Johnson for quite honestly tarnishing the SHOOT Project name. If you do – we’ll just forget everything with Sarah King, with Judy, with Paria… we’ll forget it all happened and you can just move on.
A bemused looking Daihm Ferguson smiles and mouths the words “FUCK OFF” to a huge roar from the crowd. Lennox, meanwhile, looks disappointed; sighing in the middle of the ring.
Lennox: Okay. Well. That’s… unfortunate. Because you see… there is someone else in this company who, quite frankly, hasn’t seen ring action for a while and HAS been willing to do what it takes to put themselves on the right path.
Daihm Ferguson leans forward, curious.
Eryk Masters: Who…
Other Guy: It could be anyone, Eryk.
Eryk Masters: Anyone who wants to work with this tool? I think that pool of talent has to be pretty low and-
The lights in the Epicenter cut out suddenly causing a cautious roar to rise from the crowd. The slow beat of an instrumental “Voodoo” by Godsmack booms in the arena. The stage illuminates a pale yellow light as fog starts to roll in from the back – causing Daihm to retreat backward down the ramp as it completely engulfs the area.
Suddenly, appearing from the back are cloaked druids carrying candles that flicker through the fog at their feet. As they walk in pairs in formation from the SHOOTron to the ring, Daihm looks around unsure of what’s happening.
Then, from out of the darkness beyond the druids walks the enormous Ultimo Muerte in black, red, and gold tights and matching mask – looking down at the ring and then towards Daihm. Behind Muerte, his equally tall handler Pandora steps out and drags her index finger along the back of Ultimo Muerte’s shoulders. Then looks around the arena and down to Lennox in the ring and Daihm now standing at the base of the ramp.
As the song swells, the druids blow out their candles. The song stops and the lights around the stage shut off leaving the arena in darkness. Only a few seconds pass before the lights turn back on in the arena as Daihm is boxed in by his father, Muerte, and Pandora.
Eryk Masters: Holy shit… is this… actually Muerte?
Other Guy: Something tells me Breedlove is doing fine without Lennox Ferguson’s help, Eryk. This looks like the real deal. I mean not the Real Deal, our boss, but that-
Eryk Masters: I got it.
The fans aren’t quite sure how to react, but a buzz circulates through the crowd as Lennox claps politely at the arrival of Muerte and Pandora.
Lennox Ferguson: Let me just be one of the first to say “Welcome Back” to SHOOT Project, Señor Muerte and, of course, Ms. Pandora. I’ve appreciated working with you these past few days and your clear interest in a more permanent and elevated role in this company. I wish more of our stars were as grateful of such a chance as you both have been.
The Dragon turns back toward Lennox with anger as Pandora speaks.
Pandora: The pleasure has been all ours, Ox. We truly welcome this opportunity and won’t disappoint you.
Eryk Masters: Will someone just tell me what’s going on here!?
Lennox clears his throat.
Lennox Ferguson: The truth of the matter is that SHOOT Project is not a charity. It is not a halfway house. It is a BUSINESS. And like any business, we can only support a certain number of staff – of talent – and we don’t have the time or patience to deal with those who aren’t committed to this company’s mission.
Muerte here has made it clear he IS committed and after proving himself as a formidable opponent I think he deserves another chance in the ring. Daihm, on the other hand, has also shown great promise, but an unwillingness to play by the rules…
The fans boo the Chief of Staff as he ignores the roar and points to Daihm and then up to Ultimo Muerte and Pandora.
Lennox: So, Daihm? Muerte? You two are going to prove to this company which one of you really wants to be here. I’ve cleared you both to compete in a best two out of three series of matches over the coming weeks with a single main roster spot on the line.
The fans explode while Daihm looks incredulous, shouting something at Lennox who leans over the ropes and looks directly into the Dragon’s eyes.
The Lennox: The winner will EARN the right to be booked in future matches, including title matches, while the loser… well… let’s just say you might want to use this time in L.A. to look for an apartment because once our tour is over you won’t be returning to Las Vegas any time soon.
Other Guy: Holy cow, Eryk. This is huge! I’m not sure this has ever happened before in the history of SHOOT Project and the stakes couldn’t be bigger for these two competitors.
Eryk Masters: I think everyone in this arena is excited at the prospect of this turn of events except for The Dragon who just THREW his microphone into the ring aiming for Lennox’s head and is now stomping up the rampway towards Ultimo Muerte and Pandora.
As Daihm storms up the ramp, the druids turn their attention toward him in sequence until he finally reaches the imposing Muerte and Pandora, the young fighter standing more than several inches below Muerte’s shoulders. Pandora simply smiles and puts a hand on Muerte’s chest as Daihm just turns away and makes his way to the back.
Electric Six’s “I Don’t Like You” once again hits the speakers as a content-looking Lennox Ferguson crosses his arms and smiles.
The Iron Price: Chapter Two
The Los Angeles Epicenter is plunged into darkness and the SHOOT Project Faithful in the City of Angels let out a burst of chatter, some cheers mix with boos, but it’s all anticipation.
A heavy guitar riff tears through the speakers, accompanied shortly by drums as “The Dark Horse Always Wins” by Blues Saraceno begins to play. The SHOOTtron comes to life with the image of a burning Joshua tree, eliciting a LOUD chorus of boos from the sold out crowd just as the lyrics kick in.
Deliver me from evil,
Deliver me, Deliver me from sin,
The burning tree fades and is replaced by a new logo:
Deliver me from evil… Yeah
Deliver me again…
The crowd unleashes another flurry of boos as a spotlight shines down onto the entrance stage and Jacob Mephisto stands in the center of it. Mephisto is dressed to the nines in a dark, charcoal gray suit with a blood red tie. He unbuttons the suit jacket and opens it slightly revealing the Iron Fist Championship, the pristine white leather of the strap a sharp contrast to the charcoal gray of the suit and the black dress shirt underneath.
The Dark Horse always wins
The Dark Horse, The Dark Horse always wins
The lights flare to their absolute brightest for just a beat before settling to their normal brightness. We now see that Mephisto is flanked to the left and right by Patience and Decius Montgomery. Just behind him and to the left and right are Johann Deitrich and KC Rockefeller. The Family is in full force once again.
Eryk Masters: For the second night in a row, the Iron Fist Champion is here, and he’s got his Family with him! Last night, Jacob Mephisto gained his first apparent challenger when IAM came out here to confront him.
Other Guy: I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a confrontation, but the former World Champion made his intentions pretty clear.
Mephisto steps forward and the rest of The Family follows suit. The Patriarch leads the way down the ramp and to the ring, walking up the ring steps and stepping through the ropes. Mephisto walks with purpose, though there are small moments where he almost seems to wince, clearly still feeling some residual effects from Redemption. The stitches have mostly dissolved in his forehead, but a couple still stick out, an ugly reminder of the war he endured with Azraith DeMitri.
Eryk Masters: It’s going be interesting to hear what Mephisto has to say tonight after his sermon was cut short at Ruination.
Mephisto unbuckles the Iron Fist Championship from around his waist and slowly raises it high above his head before placing it on his shoulder. Patience Montgomery retrieves a microphone and hands it to her Father. There’s a long pause as the music fades and the LA Epicenter crowd hurls boos, jeers, and insults down at the ring. Mephisto smirks.
Jacob Mephisto: Last night, as I was laying down the new law for the Iron Fist division, I was rudely interrupted by a would-be challenger.
The crowd lets out a roar of approval at the mention of IAM.
Jacob Mephisto: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What has he done to earn a shot at this? Lose the biggest prize our company has to offer?
Jacob Mephisto: I mean, come on. It’s Maya Nakashima all over again! Let’s give everyone a shot, right? Maybe we should dig up Kentucky Sasake and let him take his chances! Hey, where’s google old Pete Jack?
The crowd is unleashing a chorus of boos down at the reigning Iron Fist Champion now.
Jacob Mephisto: No. This needs to be earned. I will not…
🎶Double Super Buzz by Nine Pound Hammer🎶
Eryk Masters: It’s…Haskell Payne?! The Colonel?!
Other Guy: Yeah, the shoeless hill person more like…
Emerging at the top of the ramp is indeed the Kentucky Colonel himself, the Psychobilly, Haskell Payne. His red hair is exquisitely pompadored, and he’s wearing a fresh set of snakeskin boots–and kindly sipping from a stadium beer in a plastic cup as he stalks back and forth, all nerve and energy like a pissed-off chihuahua. He finally holds up a microphone, and the sound team fades his song out. He takes a moment, building anticipation, a smirk slowly crawling across his face.
The Colonel: Y’know I was all set not t’say a good goddamn thing, just chill and enjoy my beer, but I gotta tell ya, Jake…you talk. A lot. And th’ thing is, generally when someone like you can’t help but flap his gums, he’s one thing.
He pauses for effect while Mephisto looks on, frankly bemused.
The Colonel: Afraid. Yella. Chickenshit. Cause I dunno if you ‘member it, but me and some buddies held a championship for a bit. And I ain’t never fed no one some song and dance about needing to “earn” it–if you wanted th’ smoke, you got the smoke. Cause thats what bein’ a champion means. So th’ way I figure it, you got yourself three options.
He downs the remainder of his beer and tosses the cup.
The Colonel: Put it up, shut th’ fuck up, or git ready for a whuppin’ that you don’t want courtesy of the Psychobilly–and I ain’t gonna wait for no bell.
Eryk Masters: The Psychobilly has laid down the challenge! And just listen to these fans!
Mephisto paces in the ring for a few moments clearly irritated by the chanting and another interruption. He stops pacing and stares up at Haskell.
Mephisto: You insignificant fool. Do you really think you can just waltz out here and get yourself a title shot just because you insult me? Where did you even come from?
The Patriarch runs a hand over his face.
Mephisto: This isn’t Champion’s Choice. This isn’t even a Championship Edition. But, it looks like I’ve got a couple of challengers, don’t I? And, I’m sure everyone wants to know whose challenge I’m going to accept.
He takes a breath.
Mephisto: Because you’re absolutely right, Colonel. I need to be a fighting champion. Which is why I’ve accepted a challenge from one of your very own, Los Angeles! Well, sort of.
The smirk returns to Mephisto’s face while the crowd murmurs, a lot of boos still mixed in.
Mephisto: So, get in line, Iggy. Wait your turn, Colonel. At the next Ruination or Revolution, I will put this Iron Fist Championship on. The. Line. My challenger… is Electryk Tyger!
The crowd lets out a loud boo, but there are a smattering of cheers for the REIGN talent that’s been apparently chosen.
Mephisto tosses his head back and laughs as he drops the microphone and Haskell spits on the stage and we cut away.
Spinebuster Island Vs. Fear & Loathing
The Mouth of Hell Opens
As the teams mill post match, readying to head out, the lights cut out!! Camera flashes go off in the absolute pitch darkness, and the crowd starts screaming in anticipation. There’s a long moment…and then the lights come up–and the crowd ERUPTS as the two teams are no longer alone in the ring!!
Eryk Masters: No!
Other Guy: It’s them!!
Eryk Masters: Unholy!
Other Guy: Cyber!
Eryk Masters: Army!!
Clad in bodysuits covered in pentacles and demonic imagery, Superbeast and Power Devil look massive, looking at both teams with cold fury. A section of the crowd lets loose with a “Witness!” yell, and they take it as a call to action, rushing a team apiece with furious blows!! Superbeast makes Curtis Rose backflip with a gigantic boot, and shakes off the forearm blows of Alex Vaka before giving some back of his own!! Power Devil catches a double kick to the gut, then grits his teeth and HOOKS both members of Spinebuster Island to the mat with a lariat from both arms!! Superbeast gets control of Vaka and whips him into the ropes, but the big man comes off and puts his weight into moving faster–slipping the oncoming boot and knocking the wind from the masked man with a locomotive shoulder block!! Power Devil is laying in heavy boots to Quinn’s skull, practically heel kicking him in the orbital bone with all of his bulk, but Dan Richards grabs him by the shoulder and spins him, raring back and planting his big right hand punch right in the nose of the demon!! He stumbles backwards, shaking his head, his nose already taking on a lump and an odd angle–then he straightens his posture and GRINS, his lips and teeth soaked in blood!! Richard throws a left, a right, laying into Power Devil, who finally blocks one and SMASHES his forehead into the smaller man’s nose!! He stumbles to his knees, clutching his face, as one half of the Cyber Army pops his neck and laughs!
Other Guy: Jesus!
Eryk Masters: Dan Richards proving he won’t take guff from anyone, but at what cost?
Other Guy: And the big guy is still tussling with Superbeast!
Vaka and Superbeast are jockeying for position, which gives Rose all the opening he needs to uppercut the Demon of Cyber Roppongi right in his crotch!! The low blow causes him to double over, and the big Samoan straddles his head and cinches his waist, looking for a powerbomb–but get’s flipped with authority as Superbeast straightens up and throws him backwards!! Both members of Fear and Loathing crash into one another in a bad way!! Not wasting any time, Superbeast grips the top rope and LEAPS–BURYING his knee into Vaka’s skull, sandwiching his head between his bulk and the mat!! He stands and screams directly at the reeling tag team, a horrifying bellow, before turning his attention to his partner. Power Devil has Quinn in his grasp, and he whips him to Superbeast…who pops him high into the air and then DEMOLISHES him with a midair catch into a powerslam!! Both members of the Cyber Army meet over the frankly motionless body of Joe Quinn, planting their foreheads together, yelling at one another, seemingly psyching each other up even more!! They push Vaka to the floor with their boots, where the big man is still shaking his head, trying to regain his bearings. Rose starts throwing punches as they grab him, trying to stop their motion, but gets andwiched between both of their forearms before being hoisted into the air. They raise him high and advance towards the corner–and LAUNCH HIM for far that the first thing that stops his body’s momentum is his SKULL ON THE RING POST!! Curtis Rose lands at an extremely awkward angle, his head on the post, his chest on the top turnbuckle, and the rest of his body hanging limp towards the mat!! Dan Richards is checking on his partner, and stands up, ready to square with the Unholy Cyber Army, his nose bloodied, placing himself in between harm’s way and his reeling partner. They look at him, considering for a moment–but the cheer of the crowd distracts them, as Alex Vaka is back to his feet and trying to climb into the ring!
Eryk Masters: I don’t know if he has a gear other than rage at this point–Alex Vaka wants revenge!!
Other Guy: I don’t blame him, either! Rose looks like he doesn’t even know where he is!!
The Cyber Army slides to the floor, the three largest men in the ring area meet on the outside, and it turns into a trading of blows without a moment’s notice. Superbeast and Vaka clinch up and start trading blows like Frye and Takiyama, beating each other’s face into lumpy mush–but Power Devil puts a stop to it by field goal kicking Vaka’s leg out from under him! The big man stumbles back, and gets zero moments to breathe as the Unholy Cyber Army start layering him with stomp after stomp, practically taking turns driving their heels into his skull!
Eryk Masters: Absolute pandemonium here, folks! Curtis Rose is still reeling, Dan Richards is getting his partner help, the ringside medics are trying to do their jobs!!
Other Guy: Those folks don’t get paid enough to eat blows from the Cyber Army, ‘Ryk!!
Vaka gets dragged to his feet, somewhat limply, and immediately thrown into the steps!! He flips forward, taking the hit to his thighs, and crashes to the ground, sprawling. With zero pause for celebration, the Unholy Cyber Army haul him to his feet and shoot him into the guardrail!! Power Devil grabs him and hoists him onto his shoulder–and runs the big man all the way to the top of the ramp before PLANTING him with a bodyslam with a chilling level of casualness!!
Other Guy: They’re going too far with this!! You made your point!!
Eryk Masters: Superbeast has a hold of Vaka’s head, and they seem to be discussing something?
The Demons of Cyber Roppongi confer for a moment as one half of Fear and Loathing attempts, slowly, to crawl away. Power Devil nods, then stomps his way to the far side of the entrance stage. Superbeast grabs and then WHIPS Vaka, so hard that he drops to the floor as he does it, directly to Power Devil, who catches him and raises the Samoan high in the air…and BURIES him into the hard metal floor of the entrance ramp with a spinebuster!! Vaka can hardly move, and seems to be curling his body out of instinct and extreme pain more than anything intentional. He blinks his eyes slowly, working his jaw, foamy blood lining the edge on his mouth as fresh rivulets stream down his cheeks. Both of the Demons of Cyber Roppongi slowly stride over, breathing heavily, their teeth bared. Power Devil and Superbeast look at one another, nod in unison, and motion across their throats with their thumbs. Curtis Rose is at the base of the ramp, stumbling, trying to get to his partner despite his clearly rung bell.
Eryk Masters: Rose showing a lot of heart, but I don’t think he can make it–no one should even be moving after what he’s been through!
Other Guy: Oh shit, look at this!!
The Cyber Army grabs Vaka, pulling him to some approximation of standing. They look across the crowd, bathed in flashbulbs, before their eyes land on Rose. Power Devil even calls him over, encouraging him with a smile–and as soon as he stumbles, the smile drops. Both men flip an almost entirely limp Alexander Vaka up on both of their shoulders…they step forward and THROW ALEX VAKA FROM THE RAMP WITH A POWERBOMB–INTO A PRODUCTION CRATE!! It doesn’t break, no cinematic crash of plywood and metal, just Vaka bent at a terrible angle, bowed backwards!! The crowd explodes into screams of rage, horror, and thunderous boos as the Unholy Cyber Army howl to the rafters in victory and bloodlust!!
Eryk Masters: WE NEED SECURITY!! WE NEED MEDICS!!
Other Guy: They’re not here for the titles, they’re not here to win!! They’re here to ruin careers!! Alex Vaka fuckin’ near bent completely in half backwards!!
Rose clambers down to the production area as medics, referees, and security swarm the scene. Superbeast and Power Devil pay them zero attention, staring at their handiwork with an eerie air of serenity. As they begin to get jostled by the officials, they turn swiftly, causing the entire group to instinctively back up and brace themselves for a fight. A fight that never comes. The Unholy Cyber Army simply walk through the entrance, cutting a path by their sheer size and capability. We leave the carnage as the feed cuts away…
Iron Chef? Bullshit!
Lennox Ferguson looks up from his desk as the door to his office slams shut and two men step into the room.
Nearly identical-looking figures – each sporting long black hair – position themselves in front of his desk and simultaneously throw two chef aprons down onto the floor.
The one in the red and yellow shirt steps forward first, placing his had to his chest and gesturing wildly.
Sal Mancini: Your staff, sir, are VERY rude! They do not RESPECT fine cuisine. We were invited here PERSONALLY and have been made fools of.
The other man, wearing black, and seeming calmer, walks up to Lennox’s desk and sets down a flier from the night’s show with the faces of the Carolina Lions circled in black marker.
Santino Mancini: These two. The Lions I believe you call them. They disrespected our work. They have DAMAGED our reputation in this city and we are going to lose BUSINESS because of these miscreants.
Lennox shakes his head.
Lennox Ferguson: I hardly think some off-handed comments in the back room of a wrestling promotion is going to impact your bottom line, gentlemen.
Sal Mancini gestures over to his brother, Santino.
Sal Mancini: Show ‘em.
Santino pulls out his cell phone and swipes a couple times before turning and showing Lennox a “Yelp” review that has half a star. He reads it aloud.
Lennox: D’oro Restaurante. Dor’on’t waste your time with these frou frou fools. They call rice “cous cous” and put beans in it, they give you fake chicken, and they piss in their food.
Santino locks eyes with Lennox
Santino: They posted this tonight and it already has 800 likes. And they didn’t stop at Yelp. They posted to Spitter, they did a TikTok challenge not to eat our food, and now people are DDOSing our website.
Sal Mancini: Worst of all they called us Iron Chefs! That’s Bullshit! We’re hardworking, third-generation restaurateurs who have a reputation to uphold, SIR, and we are planning on suing these two idiotas and just wanted to give you the courtesy of a warning.
The brothers nod toward each other and then turn away from Lennox – preparing to leave, but he stops them.
Lennox: Wait. Let me make it up to you…
Santino, the calmer of the two, stops and turns around.
Santino Mancini: Oh? What could you possibly offer that we’d exchange for litigation that we are SURE to win?
Lennox taps his desk and then opens a drawer, pulling out a piece of paper and grabbing a pen off to the side, scribbling something down and then holding it up to the two brothers. The writing on the paper simply says “The Assault Baes”
Lennox: I can offer you an opportunity to settle things… personally. If you’d drop any litigation.
Sal Mancini: Assault Baes? What are you-
Santino holds up a hand and walks back over to Lennox to grab the piece of paper, studying it closely. After several seconds he grabs a nearby chair and pulls it over.
Santino Mancini: Graci’ Mr. Fergsuon. How very… generous of you. Let’s talk…. details.
Dan Stein Vs. NEMESIS (c)
Failure & Fortune
The horns sound off, bringing the fans to their feet! “American Venom” hits with the drums as out from the back emerges BUCK DRESDEN. He is wearing a black pant of combat pants and boots with a white t-shirt on. He begins his walk down to the ring, microphone in hand.
Eryk Masters: This is a guy with a lot on his mind, OG.
Other Guy: I’m guessing he retires tonight. He was so close to the World title but let a tiny attack ruin his chances? Nah, he quit on himself at Redemption. He quit on the fans.
Eryk Masters: That’s bull and you know it, OG. Buck Dresden wasn’t cleared to compete, Real Deal made that call, and he’s here tonight and medically cleared to kick some ass!
Buck rolls into the ring and pops back up, looking at the sea of fans, the SHOOT Faithful, as “American Venom” fades out.
Eryk Masters: Let’s hear what the All-American Outlaw has to say!
Buck stares at the camera for a long, silent moment. The fans, of course, aren’t quiet but Buck most definitely maintains an angry silence. He inhales deeply, closing his eyes to try to control and choose his words carefully.
Buck Dresden: Y’know…
Buck Dresden: It’s taken me a long time to get back here. It’s taken me a whole damn year of setbacks, depression, defeat, and loss again and again until I finally stood up on my own and could tell each and every one of you here tonight…
He pauses briefly, letting his words sink in.
Buck Dresden: I’m ready to walk into Iron Will and be the World Heavyweight Champion.
The fans pop at his announcement. However, as he nods to acknowledge the fans’ approval, he tightens his grip on the microphone and begins to pace in the ring.
Buck Dresden: I was ready to do it at Redemption an’ I whipped Josh Breedlove to get that shot…only to have it taken from me.
The fans boo but he doesn’t listen to it. He knows it isn’t about him.
Buck Dresden: Real Deal told me I could get another shot. Said it’s only fair. Said I was screwed because some coward attacked me. But, see, I got a problem with that. I got a problem with all that. I got a problem with who took me out. I got a problem with how Redemption played out in general. What I don’t got a problem with? The fact that I gotta re-earn my title shot. That’s a choice I made fer me.
He lets it simmer, his statement. This is for him to do. This is his mission.
Buck Dresden: I was inducted in the SHOOT Hall of Fame last year. It’s a spot I cherish, I am honored to have, and am proud to tell the world. That same night, I won Champion of the Year. People put their faith in me that night an’ I realized…I gotta once and fer all…stand up for myself an’ stand up for those that support me.
Buck Dresden: I know this is a broken record at this point, but I gotta say it again. To each and every person that voted for me in those awards, I was a success. But to me…I was a failure.
The fans boo their disapproval of what he’s saying.
Buck Dresden: I was proud to be World champion, but I wasn’t quiiiite ready to be that. Overall, I faced a grand total of one opponent that you can consider high quality and I was so disillusioned with everything that went into being a Champion that by the time I was up against the first ever Iron Will Classic, I failed. I failed to be the Iron Fist Champion that night, I failed to remain the World Champion. I walked out of that show furious. Furious at myself, furious at that belt, furious at everything. An’ I wanted to take it out on everyone I could.
He lets it sink in, slowing his breathing as he paces.
Buck Dresden: Problem was, nothin’ fixed that for me. Nothin’ external, anyway. Destroy and remove a cancer to the company and our sport? Yeah, that’s great but I’m still tossin’ an’ turnin’. Tear apart that cancer’s piece of dogshit kid an’ remove him also? Awesome, but I’m still wantin’ to punch a goddamn wall. That anger carried me a good while, but I didn’t have it in me to take that anger an’ ride it all the way to the top. I couldn’t be Master of the Mat. I couldn’t get the job done. I didn’t respect my title that I earned. I wasn’t even mad when I finally lost that goddamn thing.
He chuckles to himself again.
Buck Dresden: All’s I got left it this war an’ my dog. I made enough bad calls in my life to lead me to this isolated kinda life. That’s on me. But if this is still my war an’ it’s still on me to make good before I finally fall in this never ending war, then so be it. I’ll brawl ‘til I fall. That means when Real Deal an’ Ox found me laid out, I wasn’t gonna waste my time no more. I have one chance to rectify one major failure an’ that’s the Iron Will Classic.
The fans cheer at what he says.
Buck Dresden: I’ll put anything on it. I’ll bet my career, my life, my dog, on the Classic. I want to fight through the qualifyin’ matches. I wanna tear up the Rule of Surrender bout. I wanna win the World Championship. Destroyin’ the Proper Villainz is one thing. Takin’ down a whole ass Empire is another.
The fans pop BIG at the mention of the Holy Breedlove Empire.
Buck Dresden: Josh Breedlove!
He stops pacing this time and glares directly into the camera.
Buck Dresden: You an’ your Empire have run roughshod over this company. You’ve bullied, you’ve schemed, you’ve stood apart from the rest of the company an’ now you’re just happy to leave the company, title in hand, an’ let not only the company suffer but leave your Empire helpless. Whether you come back or not ain’t a factor for me because if you don’t? I’ll find you. If you put people in my way, I’ll go through them and I’ll find you. If you figure out a way to try’n keep me from takin’ that title back for this company? It don’t matter, Josh, because I’ll find you.
He sneers and his knuckles whiten against the pressure of holding the microphone.
Buck Dresden: That brings me to the man that put me down. I know why you did it. I know how you did it. What I don’t know is if you think you’re gonna get away with it. So, VOID…
The fans begin to murmur with excitement at the idea of Buck against Void.
Buck Dresden: …you stepped up for your newfound buddy Breedlove an’ you kept me from the title match at Redemption. Well, I’m standin’ right here, Void, why don’t you step on out here an’ do what you didn’t do when you attacked me an’ look me dead in my eye, you yellow-bellied son of a bitch.
As soon as he insults the Technical Titan, “Would?” by Alice in Chains kicks in and the fans boo mercilessly. Void walks out to face Buck. He stands alone and he stands on the stage, never setting foot any closer. “Would?” cuts out as abruptly as it began. He watches Buck, who is continuing to pace in the ring.
Void: Ever the conquering hero, huh Buck?
Void smiles at his latest victim.
Void: Yes, it’s true. I am the man that ended your shot at the World title and cleared the way for Joshua Breedlove to recapture it. I did it as much as a favor to Breedlove as a favor for myself. For, you see, Buckley, I haven’t been given my due in this company.
Buck stops pacing to listen to whatever line of bullshit Void is about to spew.
Void: I held one title here so briefly and then Josh Breedlove took it away from me. I’ll never forgive him or his referee for that. But I don’t have to like someone to understand their goals and how they align with my own. See, I wanna be somebody, Buck. I wanna be important. I wanna be an award winner like you. I wanna be in the Hall of Fame like you. I want people to think of Void when they think of SHOOT Project,
Void: But I can’t get that if I keep failing. See, Buck, you talk of failure and yet here you stand, rocket strapped to your fucking back. You talk of overcoming obstacles and yet here you stand, dangerously close to another World title shot if you overcome your fears. What did you fail at? Was it defeating Jonas Coleman? Charlie Hitchens? Butcher? Maybe it was when you ended X-Calibur’s career or beat his son so badly he turned from a cheap imitation of me into a cheap imitation of his Daddy. Oh…oh wait.
He stops himself.
Void: Oh, so you think that you losing the World title at last year’s Iron Will and losing the Iron Fist title are all failures, right?
He shakes his head.
Void: No, Buck, because you at least got to hold them. Me? I couldn’t get the job done in ApeX and the Rule of Surrender title. I couldn’t get the job done against Dan Stein and the Shut Up and Fight title. I just…keep…failing. Over and over. So I’m shooting for the moon, Buck. I wanna be World Champion, too. But…do I get a chance to go into the Iron Will? No, sir. Reserved for others but not me. Not me, who survived the Vanguard. Not me, who rules the Tunnels. Not me, who suffers in silence. NOT ME NOT ME NOT ME!
He drops his head, letting his emotions get the better of him for a moment before he begins to speak again.
Void: I’m going…to murder…any chance you have of becoming a champion and if I fail at that I’ll ruin any chance you have of keeping it. Anyone else who sets foot in my path or desires to be champion such as the Rumble winner herself? I’ll make sure she can never even share the same ring with that title let alone compete for it.
He closes his eyes, thinking with a wistful grin at what evil he can create.
Void: It’ll all be so…beautiful, Buck. It’ll be all perfect and it started with you at Redemption. So you can run, you can hide, but I’ll find you. If you become champion, I’ll find you. If you sell your ranch and leave Nevada, I’ll find you. If you remarry, I’ll find you and your wife. If you have a kid, I’ll find you, your wife, and your child. No matter what happens, Buck, I refuse to let go. I will ruin this for you and everybody else. It’s time to spread my darkness over this company like a veil of cold and solemn, quiet agony. When the road to the championship is flooded with the blood of the fallen, I will use your cadavers to float on to my victory and my destiny.
He sneers at Buck.
Void: And no one, nowhere, can stop me.
Buck Dresden: That’s a loaded statement since you been stopped more’n once in the past year.
Void glares at Buck at the insult as the fans pop.
Buck Dresden: You couldn’t beat Josh Breedlove so now you’re picking at his scraps, huh? Couldn’t keep your title against him, couldn’t win Villain of the Year against him an’ had to tie with him, couldn’t get into the main event like he did…face it, Void, you wanna be the bridesmaid all yer life that’s on you but if you try’n stop me or go after anybody in the Iron Will Classic or if yer stupid enough to go after the number one contender, you’re dealin’ with forces you ain’t never seen, boy. It’s a shame, too. A guy as talented as you, as powerful as you, shouldn’t be…I don’t wanna say Robin to Breedlove’s Batman…a guy like you shouldn’t be the Alfred to Breedlove’s Batman.
Buck Dresden: How’s it feel, anyway? Is the leather of his boot as tasty as Curtis Rose make it out to be?
Void begins to tremble with rage at what Buck is saying.
Buck Dresden: Man, you kidnapped a pregnant woman, mentally tortured a Hall of Famer and icon in this business, an’ you STILL couldn’t win the Villain award against a guy who really just spammed Spitter.
Void begins to walk down the aisle. He gets halfway and stops. The boos answer his discretion.
Void: You know what, Buck? I won’t let you coerce a conflict out of me. You’re not my only target. I don’t need to placate your impotent rage with allowing you to get hands on me.
Void: SHOOT’s about to feel a whole new wave of change, Buck. Your time is at an end. Your kind is at an end. My darkness and the darkness of those like me will wash over this place. We will take titles, we will ruin lives, and we will rule this place as the most powerful deities in professional wrestling.
Void takes a few steps up the ramp.
Void: Enjoy your descent into extinction, All-American Outlaw. Your head will look quite nice on my mantle along with the others I’ll be putting up there.
Void drops the microphone and starts to walk up the ramp, laughing as he leaves. He hears the fans begin to cheer loudly and he turns to see Buck Dresden RIGHT in front of him! Buck slowly lifts the microphone to his lips.
Buck Dresden: You want my head, mother fucker?
He SLAMS his head into Void’s, sending the giant staggering backward! Void gets his wits about him only for Buck to club him in the head with an elbow strike! Void powers back with a punch! Buck absorbs it and lets out a guttural yell before he TACKLES Void, wailing on him with punch after punch until referees and road agents pour out from the back to stop the fight!
Eryk Masters: Buck Dresden is a man possessed!
Other Guy: He wants to win the Iron Will Classic and Void isn’t gonna stand in his way!
Once Buck is pulled off of Void, Void pushes himself away from Buck. His mask is cracked and torn, revealing parts of his scarred face. The road agents try to restrain him but he simply walks away, bringing a chorus of boos. Buck shoves the referees and road agents off of him and merely glares at the entrance that Void disappeared into as the show fades to black.