The New Orleans beat drops as we’re taken back to the Big Easy for another night of action.
A flag blows in the breeze atop the mast of a ship in the port of New Orleans, revealing the SHOOT Project logo as the lyrics kick in.
Woo, this that shit they didn’t want me on
I’m bout to act a badonkadonk, shamone, shamone
Don’t need sugar, I need cream, I’m dark and strong
The garbage man puttin’ on cologne, aroma wrong
The battered SHOOT Project your bus roars to life and comes flying off the ship and begins to tear through the streets of New Orleans.
I’m on, I’m on, this that shit they didn’t want
I act a ass and shit a skunk, I will, I won’t
Black your eye, like Will.I.Am, you Willy Wonka
That’s me in the Lamb, I’m disappearin’ like Jimmy Hoffa
The bus hurtles through the streets, bouncing to the beat of the music before ultimately skidding to a stop in front of the Smoothie King Center just as the building’s lights all flare to life and the Revolution logo flashes on the screen.
We cut to the arena where pyro explodes and we’re taken to Eryk Masters and Other Guy!
Eryk Masters: Welcome, SHOOT Nation, to the final stop before Iron Will 2! We’ve got one heck of a night ahead of us! We’ve got a couple of big debuts tonight! We’re going to see El Cuco Dave off against PRIMAL as well as Chick Grillbreast going one on one with the Hootchie Cootchie Man himself, Bobson Dugnutt!
Other Guy: That’s not all we’re gonna see! We have the second half of the Tag Team Championship preview when Luis de Leon goes one on one with Ayumi Seppuku! We’re also going to see, and I can’t believe I’m saying this… X-Chadlibur… challenging for the Shut Up & Fight Championship against Blaise Blaze!
Eryk Masters: In our Main Event, we’re going to also see the other Last Chance Iron Will match. We’ll see Jamie Johnson, Judy Punchinello, and Lexi Gold square off! But, that’s not all!
Other Guy: Speaking of Lexi Gold! She’s got double duty tonight! Due to the situation surrounding the Iron Fist Championship last night on Ruination, we’ve got another match added to the show here tonight! Jacob Mephisto has been cleared after his alleged attack on Ruination. Now, unfortunately, Haskell Payne still hasn’t cleared concussion protocol and IAM is technically dealing with allegations that he assaulted Mephisto. So, tonight, Jacob Mephisto will defend his Iron Fist Championship against Lexi Gold!
Eryk Masters: Well, that whole situation just stinks of Mephisto’s manipulation. But, tonight Lexi Gold could very well punch her ticket to Iron Will 2 as the new Iron Fist Champion! All that and more, right here in New Orleans. It’s Revolution: The Battle for the Big Easy!
Chick Grillbreast Vs. Bobson Dugnutt
Nate Robideau Interview
Backstage–and we see a somewhat familiar sight. Abigail Chase is standing with a man that we’re very familiar with, but who looks almost foreign to us. His knuckles are bandaged, the Blackhawk Fight Gym hoodie is there, but his demeanor…Nate used to be a person of tight control, in his stance, in his face, in his existence. His very frame looked like a tightly coiled spring at times. Now, he looks relaxed. Almost carefree. He easily smiles as she begins to speak.
Abigail Chase: Nate Robideau, a lot has been going on for you recently. The shutting down and sale of your gym, the search for a new facility. But the thing that everyone seems to be talking about is what you did to Benedict Kaye and what that might mean for the ongoing fight between you and OutKast. Do you have a comment, an explanation, anything?
Robideau: Explanation. Hm. That makes me feel like you want me to justify what I did, doesn’t it?
Abigail Chase: It was…different from what we have seen from you, I’ll say.
He chuckles–then cuts it short and affixes her with a fiery stare, though his smile remains.
Robideau: Benedict was a casualty of war. Next question.
Abigail Chase: Your attitude seems markedly different from the man we’ve seen, the man who became World Champion–do you care to comment on that?
This elicits a deep sigh from Nate, who crosses his arms and looks to the floor for a moment, thinking. Finally, he starts to respond, but he’s looking more at the camera than he is to her.
Robideau: Yeah, You’d have to be blind to not see that there’s been…a change. But treading water is exhausting, and what’s more…it leaves you vulnerable. OutKast taught me that. Trying to remain above your more base emotions looks real nice, but it deadens that animal part we need to stay sharp and competitive. OutKast taught me that. Ignoring that our stock and trade is pain, brutality, and blood is a mistake. OutKast taught me that.
Abigail Chase: But aren’t you worried that he’ll retaliate? He was all-too ready to blindside you before you put one of his kids in the hospital.
Robideau: He can try. He might. And he might get a couple of good licks in. But right now, Samantha…OutKast and I are in ‘on sight’ territory. So the further apart we are from one another, it’s probably for the best. Those couple of good licks are going to seem like lovetaps after I give Benny Kaye a roommate, understand? And he knows that. He knows that, he’s a smart guy. So if I’m OutKast…actually, Maria, come in close here.
Nate motions to the cameraperson–Maria, we assume–and the view moves over until he takes up most of the frame himself. He actually smirks, and his tone is one of friendship and congeniality, even with his rumbling bass.
Robideau: Sean, if I’m you? I’d keep far, far away. Because you wouldn’t want to get messed up before the big match you’re about to sign up for. This isn’t over. You know that. You’re a smart guy. And we, much though I want to, aren’t going to settle this back here. Trust me, I’d like nothing more than to see the life drain from your eyes while I’m pulling back on your necktie like a set of reins, but…it isn’t going to happen here. You and I are warriors, right? This is a war, remember? You wanted war. And we settle our wars out there. Since ancient times we’ve fought, men like you and me. In pits, in arenas, circles of people, ropes around haystacks. It’s what we do. And it’s what, once I’m finished…that you will only ever be able to say you used to do. I’m not setting stipulations, Sean. I’m just letting you know.
He shrugs. Casual.
Robideau: This is going to be your last match. So you better keep yourself nice and healthy for me. And if you want to doubt what I’m telling you, think this is false bravado? Go visit your son.
Nate starts to walk off, but catches himself and comes back, holding up a finger.
Robideau: Hell, go visit him anyway. He was certainly wailing for you plenty when I was through with him. And once you’ve brought him flowers and had a good long look in the mirror, give your best friend a call–and tell him on no uncertain terms that you want Nate Robideau, out there, in the ring, one last time.
He looks to his extended finger and grins, then points at the camera lens, jabbing it towards the viewership to punctuate each word.
Robideau: One. Last. Time.
With that, Nate Robideau nods to Chase, and then exits, almost strutting out of the camera’s view. She watches him go, studying him for a moment, before bringing the microphone to her face and turning to the camera.
Abigail Chase: Back to the action.
El Cuco Vs. PRIMAL
The Stone and the Blood
There is in this remote patch of nothingness and rock, a fire burning. And next to that fire, a large slab with a somewhat flat surface, painted black on top.
There is also a figure. We do not see the face. Hunches, in a hood and something approximating a robe made of various strips and cast off rags,They–it– emerge from the darkness. In their left hand, they clutch some manner of small rodent. Field mouse, vole, shrew.
In their right, a blade made of chipped flint set into a bone handle with pitch and leather. As the figure begins to speak, the voice is one we are familiar with. Low, droning rasp. Deep in tone. A voice of ancient seals and prophecies.
the haruspex: The Lords of Hell spoke to me. Their voices are too powerful, too destructive for the common ear–I fight madness every time they so much as whisper. And they said unto me, that the reckoning was upon all of you.
The figure simply, with zero fanfare, sets the struggling creature upon the stone and draws his blade from hind to neck. As the small sacrifice bleeds out, we realize the stone isn’t painted on top.
the haruspex: They spoke to me of an arena in which gladiators fought, of two beings who were the true champions of this world, the true kings. They lacked their gold but they did not lack for their dominance or the respect they were given. The fear they were shown. And when they saw weak combatants, they culled them from existence as a warning to the others. They strengthened with their destruction.
The figure’s hand sets the blade down. The hood leans over the rock. For a while, there are no words. Just what appears to be studying.
the haruspex: But there will always be those who seek to usurp the rightful rulers. This is the nature of things. If your throne is made of blood, then blood must be shed periodically to sustain it.
They reach onto the stone with one emaciated hand, nails sharp and matte black, and draw the blood across in a pattern. The entrails become arranged. There is a dry wheeze, something approximating a laugh, which trails off.
the haruspex: Richards and Quinn have called upon my Lords. They have faced this fate, gazed upon its face, and said unto them ‘prove it.’ There is much to be commended in this. It is more than most of the cowardly lot do, those who would bray as goats do, making noises of little consequence. No, the Unholy Cyber Army have seen fire worthy of their attention in Spinebuster Island. They have seen the fury in their hearts and felt the power of their blows. They are to be revered. They are to be respected.
The figure snatches up their bloody blade and raises one claw to the heavens, to the stars.
the haruspex: Their funeral will be one of heroes.
X-Chadlibur Vs. Blaise Blaze (c)
Blah Blah Stone and Blood etc etc.
Abigail Chase: I’m standing by with JOE QUINN and DAN RICHARDS… challenging the Unholy Cyber Army at Iron Will 2… they are SPINEBUSTER ISLAND!
The crowd pops a little bit as Quinn and Richards come into the frame.
Quinn: Evening, Abby. Thanks for the time.
Richards: We bet you’re wondering if we have any thoughts, anything left to say to Power Devil and Superbeast ahead of our showdown in just a couple of weeks, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t.
Quinn: We got a lot of things on our mind, Abby, but the fact is? What point do words serve in this situation? For some people, words do a lot of the job for you. For Spinebuster Island? It’s the fight that does the work for us.
Richards leans in, smiling.
Richards: And what’s left with the Cyber Army BUT to fight? You see, for all the bravado and hellfire and whatnot? There’s something that people need to remember about the Unholy Cyber Army, and what’s that?
Quinn: They’re just flesh and blood, just like everyone else.
Richards: They put their pants on one leg at a time, for sure. And what’s the best part about that? Those who are just flesh and blood can be beaten. They can be felled. They can be put down. Dominated.
Quinn: So what are you and the rest of the world going to do, PD and Superbeast? What’s going to happen when we make the world WITNESS…
Richards: WITNESSSSSS. Sorry, always wanted to do that.
Quinn: …when we make the world witness that you two are just men, and we put you down for that beautiful one, two, and three.
Richards yells “WOOOO!” from slightly off screen.
Quinn: Gotta love it. Appreciate you, Abby. Back to you, OG.
Gold & Iron
The lights go dark, turning the arena pitch black. Cell phone lights flare on, pinpricks in the crowd. The heavy guitar riff grinds its way through the speakers as “The Dark Horse Always Wins” by Blues Saraceno begins to play and the SHOOT Nation goes into an uproar of hate, showering boos down. The SHOOTtron flares to life with the image of a burning Joshua Tree before transitioning to the steel M logo.
A spotlight shines down, illuminating Jacob Mephisto, the Iron Fist Championship clasped firmly around his waist just as the lyrics kick in.
Deliver me from evil,
Deliver me, deliver me from sin,
Mephisto raises his head and tilts it back, looking toward the ceiling as the camera slowly zooms in on him.
Deliver me from evil… Yeah
Deliver me again… Never
He lowers his head just as we cut to a close up and opens those pale, gray eyes, a smirk forming on his lips.
The dark horse always wins…
The Iron Fist Champion looks left and right, sneering at the booing fans.
The dark horse, the horse always wins…
He throws his arms out wide and the lights flare to their absolute brightest before settling to normal as the music kicks back in and Mephisto starts his walk to the ring.
So bring me to the water,
And drown me in your reign
Bring me to the water… Yeah
And drown me once again
Mephisto stalks his way to the ring, stepping between the ropes and throwing his arms out wide. He unclasps the Iron Fist Championship, staring into its golden faceplate for a long moment before slowly raising the title high in the air.
As the music fades, he hesitates before handing the title off to the referee.
Eryk Masters: Well, after two failed attempts, we’re finally going to see a title defense.
Other Guy: You gotta admit though, it was a smart strategy while it lasted. And, really, no one’s been able to prove anything yet.
The music hits and the crowd comes to their feet as Lexi Gold steps out onto the entrance stage. She begins to make her way to the ring when those cheers turn into boos.
Eryk Masters: Wait a minute! What the hell!?
Other Guy: It looks like Mephisto had a plan after all!
The Montgomery Twins have rushed the entrance stage and blindsided Lexi! The challenger valiantly fights back, laying into Patience with a stiff forearm, but Decius stops her in her tracks with a nasty Savate kick to the throat!
Eryk Masters: Jacob Mephisto is just bitter about losing that Battalion match last time on Ruination. He doesn’t want to defend that title!
The Twins continue to maul Lexi, slamming her into the barricades on the way down to the ring. The whip her into the ring apron as they approach the ringside area. Decius snatches Lexi by the wrist and rockets her forward into a waiting Patience, who levels Lexi with a roaring elbow!
The Twins bring Lexi to her feet and roll her into the ring where Jacob Mephisto his cackling like a madman.
Other Guy: Come on! There’s no way the referee is gonna allow this match to happen, right?
The referee is already waving things off, but Lexi reaches up and grabs his arm, saying something to him that the cameras don’t pick up. We can just see the official’s mouth moving with the words “you sure?”
Eryk Masters: Look at Lexi! She’s getting to her feet! I think… I think she just told the official she wants to go on with the match!
Other Guy: That’s a bad idea, Eryk. That’s Jacob Mephisto in there. Say what you want, he’s the Iron Fist Champion for a reason.
The official checks on Lexi one more time and goes to call for the bell when…
I CAME TO TELL THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUUUUUTH
The crowd comes ALIVE as Chuuch by Bun B begins to slap through the speakers and The Real Deal himself steps onto the stage.
The Real Deal: That’s enough of that. This match isn’t gonna happen tonight.
The crowd boos a little bit, but Mephisto smiles as the music cuts.
The Real Deal: The Iron Fist Championship has a long and storied history in the SHOOT Project. At times, it’s been more hotly contested than even the World Championship. So, you can imagine how I’m feeling right about now watching what you’re doing, Jake.
Mephisto simply shrugs, taking the Iron Fist title from the referee and slinging in over his shoulder.
The Real Deal: So, let me tell you what’s gonna happen. Tonight, you’re getting the night off. Lexi, you have an opportunity to prepare for later tonight. But, that Iron Fist Championship? Yea, you’re going to defend it at Iron Will 2, Jake.
The crowd begins to cheer louder.
The Real Deal: Your team lost in Austin. The winning team has earned their shot. So, at Iron Will 2, Jacob Mephisto will defend the Iron Fist Championship.
The boss pauses for effect.
The Real Deal: Against Lexi Gold… Ignatius Albert Martin… and Haskell Payne in a Four Way Dance Elimination Match!
The crowd explodes with cheers again and Mephisto is beside himself in the ring, shaking his head violently. The Real Deal walks back behind the curtain as the crowd is cheering!
Mephisto immediately turns to rush Lexi, but she sidesteps and Mephisto hits the turnbuckles. He whirls around and catches a nasty jumping enziguri to the temple! The Twins slide into the ring, but Lexi is ready for them and bails, backing up the ramp. As she gets to the top, IAM and Haskell Payne step onto the ramp, the trio of challengers looking down at an incensed Iron Fist Champion. Mephisto cradles the gleaming title to his chest, sneering up at his fate as we cut away.
Luis de Leon Vs. Ayumi Seppuku
The bell rings and an exhausted Luis de Leon and Ayumi Seppuku both push themselves up, slowly, from the mat to lean on the ropes.
They meet eyes from opposite corners.
Eryk Masters: A heck of a showing from Smoke here taking it the distance against a SHOOT Project Hall of Famer in Ayumi Seppuku. There is no question that the Carolina Lions and Lux Aeterna are on a collision course to command the tag division here in SHOOT.
Other Guy: No question! But wait… something’s going on in the ring, Eryk.
Ayumi Seppuku pushes herself off of the ropes and makes her way slowly over to a recovering Smoke, who reacts cautiously as Ayumi approaches.
The Ronin Wraith stops short of meeting Smoke against the ropes, but raises her arm, extending a hand outward toward her opponent.
Eryk Masters: Now that is something you don’t see in SHOOT every day!
Other Guy: With how vicious Luis has been on Spitter and in the locker room over these last few weeks I have absolutely NO idea why Ayumi would even give him the time of day.
Eryk Masters: It’s called respect, OG.
Ayumi gestures toward Luis who, after a pause, pushes himself up off the ropes and stands toe to toe with one half of the tag team champions.
Luis says something the microphones can’t quite pick up to Ayumi who simply nods and once again extends her hand out towards one half of the Carolina Lions with the crowd now roaring in the background.
FInally, Smoke extends his hand and meets Ayumi’s olive branch, shaking her hand firmly.
Other Guy: Well, wonders never cease, Eryk. I would have thought-
Eryk Masters: Oh shit!
As the crowd roars in approval at the show of collegiality, the scene quickly turns as Luis de Leon, having Ayumi Seppuku in his grasp, pulls the veteran forward into his arms, locking her tightly in what looks to be a hug but quickly becomes apparent is a modified chokehold.
Ayumi flails wildly as Luis’ eyes grow wide, tightening his grip, leveraging his weight to prevent the Ronin Wraith any means of escape.
Eryk Masters: Security! We need security!
Other Guy: Ayumi’s fading, Eryk. She may pass out!
Luis whispers something into Ayumi’s ear before letting out a scream as he lifts the Ronin Wraith up vertically in the air and then falls to the mat with a vicious falling DDT.
The crowd erupts in anger as an exhausted, but laughing, Luis de Leon rolls out of the ring holding his side, leaving through the crowd as Lindsay Troy bolts down the aisle trying to get her hands on the Carolina Lion as a team of paramedics and security trail quickly behind heading towards the ring to begin checking on an unconscious Ayumi Seppuku.
Scratching the Surface
A stern-looking Judy Punchinello stands alone in the back with her arms crossed, staring off into the distance.
From out of the frame, a hand rests on Judy’s shoulder causing her to spin around in a mix of surprise and anger.
Joshua Breedlove: Woah there, tiger. Save some for Jamie and Lexi out there.
Judy looks cautiously at the Heavyweight Champion before releasing her fist and taking a step back.
Judy Punchinello: To what do I owe this pleasure, Josh?
Breedlove bristles slightly at the direct way Judy addresses him, but simply nods and runs a hand through his hair in response.
Joshua Breedlove: I just wanted to come and wish you luck. I saw how you handled Laura last night and I have to say that I’m impressed.
Judy casts an uneasy glance at the head of the Breedlove Empire.
Judy Punchinello: Oh?
Joshua Breedlove: I dare say you reminded me a bit of my-
Stepping into frame between the two Soldiers is none other than Laura Seton herself. Dressed down in street clothes, the veteran looks from Breedlove to Judy and then back to Breedlove.
Laura Seton: I don’t know whether to be amused or disgusted.
Judy Punchinello: I can tell you which of the two I’m feeling right now.
Laura shakes her head.
Laura Seton: Did I miss something here? You say you’re angry and mad at undeserving people getting all the breaks here in SHOOT, yet you align yourself with Breedlove of all people? Someone who thinks only of himself and his ability to consolidate power? You know if you win tonight, he’ll turn the full power of his Empire at you to crush and destroy you.
Joshua Breedlove: Oh, Ms. Seton. Stop it. You’re embarrassing me.
Judy Punchinello casts a look over at Breedlove.
Judy Punchinello: Who’s to say that Breedlove here isn’t afraid of me, hmm? Maybe he sees the writing on the wall and realizes that you keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Laura Seton: You’re out of your mind…
Judy reaches up and shoves Laura Seton firmly in the chest, the surprise force causing the veteran to stumble and fall onto the ground. She quickly picks herself up, looking shocked but also… sad.
Meanwhile, Judy looks Laura in the eye – her focus like a thousand whitehot suns.
Judy Punchinello: You said you know my anger? You know how I feel? That YOU felt the same way and all it took was hard work, a five star effort, just win matches.
Judy laughs wildly.
Judy Punchinello: How’d that work out for you, Laura? Hmm? Are you here today because your hard work and playing by the rules got you where you want to be at THIS stage in your career? Hmm?
Laura doesn’t respond.
Judy Punchinello: You think you know my anger, Laura? You’ve scratched the FUCKING surface.
Frustrated, Judy Punchinello turns away from the scene and stalks off towards her match – leaving Joshua Breedlove and Laura Seton alone.
Breedlove whistles lightly and gestures awkwardly towards a confused Laura.
Joshua Breedlove: That was impressive. The passion. The drama. The pure rage of it all. Sexy.
Laura Seton: You’re disgusting.
Joshua Breedlove smiles confidently.
Joshua Breedlove: Of course. I wouldn’t be the Emperor of SHOOT Project if I wasn’t.
With those parting words, Joshua Breedlove follows Judy Punchinello out towards the main arena, while a shocked Laura Seton only watches, as our main event is about to kick off.
Judy Punchinello Vs. Jamie Johnson Vs. Lexi Gold
“MAKE WAY FOR THE KING!”
The crowd comes alive, mixing boos with cheers, as the sound of Ohana Bam’s “Make Way for the King” heralds the arrival of none other than the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion himself, Joshua Breedlove! Breedlove is dressed in a simple pair of jeans, a black “EMPIRE” shirt, and the Air Jordan Chicago 1’s as he walks out onto the ramp with the World Heavyweight Championship over his shoulder and a microphone in his hand. He begins clapping.
Joshua Breedlove, SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion: I just want to take a moment to congratulate you all. You’ve fought long and hard to get to this point, to slot yourself into this Iron Will Classic against me. Also against NEMESIS, but who cares about her, right? This is the prize that everyone’s after.
He taps the World Championship with the microphone as the crowd boos.
Joshua Breedlove: And I don’t blame them. From Buck Dresden, to Laura Seton, to my favorite new lil prospect Judy P… I congratulate you, and at this time, I wish to manage some expectations. You see, while what you’ve all done to get here is amazing, the gauntlet you’ve run is just arduous and and difficult. Amongst the toughest challenges in this business, for sure. You’ve all created this amazing amount of focus for yourselves, really in on your goals. You see the Rule of Surrender Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship as possibilities, and I’m here to tell you…
They are not.
All of this? These matches that the Real Deal threw you all in so that you MIGHT get a chance? They gave you the one thing that you really shouldn’t have when you step into a ring with me, and that’s hope. Because for Buck Dresden, NEMESIS, Judy Punchinello, and Laura Seton?
The only thing that you’re going to experience at Iron Will…
There are checks and balances to this whole thing. Buck Dresden has learned that first-hand.
Shout out to Void.
The crowd boos, acknowledging the beating that Void put on Buck Dresden at Ruination 31.
Joshua Breedlove: I am ready for this challenge. Ready to defeat four other contenders. Ready to carry my World Heavyweight Championship back to the back with me at the end of the night, and the rest of you? The rest of you should get used to that idea.
Your time in the sun is over.
The only thing left is to fade.