Jacob Mephisto Vs. Haskell Payne
The Death of the Pride
We cut back to the backstage area, where Mary Kelly is standing by.
Mary Kelly: Ladies and gentlemen, at this time please welcome my guests…Isaiah Galliard and Luis de Leon: Carolina Lions!
The fans soundly give a mixed reaction as both men step into frame. Both seem tense, but maintain their focus on Mary.
Mary Kelly: Now, gentlemen, a lot’s been going on since your loss at Iron Will 2 against Lux Aeterna for the championship. Have you given thoughts on your next moves in the tag team division?
Isaiah steps towards her to speak, but Luis steps in front of him to cut him off.
Smoke: Mary, un momento. CHARLOTTE.
There is a pop heard from the Faithful.
Smoke: Your favorite sons…have returned.
The pop is a little less focused and elated this time, but Luis ignores it.
Smoke: I thought we’d be coming home heroes but nah. Nah, Mary, because you see…this man by my side? He’s standin’ by my side but we all already know where he put his knife.
Isaiah steps around him and to the other side of Mary Kelly.
Reaper: Nah, y’know what? Bump this shit, man, I’ve had it. We LOST, man. Losses happen.
Smoke: To you.
Reaper: Man, you can get everything right and still catch Ls, that’s how the world works. Lindsay Troy and Ayumi Seppuku beat us. They’re icons in this industry. Icons, bro.
Luis moves closer to Isaiah.
Smoke: They got in here on their past merits. They got thrown together and have made a joke out of the tag team division. Yet, here you are, lickin’ boots like you’re some kind of alt right sympathizer. I bet you listen to Ye when you think you alone.
Isaiah sighs as there is a collective “ooooh” from the crowd.
Reaper: Look, man, we gotta work together. We’re a team.
Luis scoffs with the fakest laugh he can muster.
Smoke: We came to this place for a homecoming and what did you decide to do? Lie to these people. Lie to OUR people. My momma’s in the audience tonight, you gonna lie like that in front of her? We ain’t a team, bitch. You wanna see a team? I’ll show you a team.
As if on cue, EL PARIA steps into frame. Isaiah looks at the two of them staring daggers into him.
Reaper: Then I guess this is it.
Smoke: Si. Chinga tu madre, perro.
Reaper rolls his eyes.
Reaper: You two can go ahead and think I sleep with the enemy when I ask Lux to train me and give me insight into this business, that’s fine. I’ll tell you what. Why don’t the two of you meet me on our next shows? I’ll show you what I learned, Luis. Man to man, Lion…to Lion.
Paria moves to speak but Reaper holds his hand up.
Reaper: No. No no no, nobody’s talkin’ to you. This between me…and this guy right here.
Smoke: Aight, man. You and me. One on one. Ruination, Revolution, I don’t care. I’ll have my true friend with me. Who the hell do you have to watch your back?
Reaper: Me? I think I know a couple bad ass ladies that I can ride with since they know a thing or two about loyalty.
Luis starts at Isaiah but Paria stops him.
El Paria: Smoke! Nah, not here. Not now.
Luis holds his hands up and points at Isaiah.
Smoke: I’mma be seein’ you, bitch. Real fuckin’ soon.
With that, El Paria and Luis de Leon exit from whence they came. Isaiah watches them walk away and then turns his attention to Mary.
Reaper: Thank you for your time, Mary.
Isaiah walks away in the opposite direction. She turns to the camera.
Mary Kelly: Alright then. Back to you guys?
The Murder Doves Vs. Zoomer Love
What's more important?
Laura Seton: No, Madison, that’s not the point!
Laura Seton paced in her locker room. In street clothes of a white sweater, black pants and black shoes, she lowered the phone from her ear. A breath before she spoke again.
Laura Seton: Look, I’m just stressed, okay? You get that?
Madison Seton: You must be stressed 90 percent of the time because you act like this quite often. Did back then and haven’t changed.
Laura Seton: Just… please…
Madison Seton: All right, all right. I will.
Laura Seton: Thank you.
She has a second to take the phone down again and look at the screen. An incoming call. What she was waiting for. She seems to tense up.
Laura Seton: I gotta go. They’re calling now.
She doesn’t even give Madison a chance to say goodbye. She closes her eyes and takes another big breath as she answers.
Laura Seton: Hello?
???: Hey, Laura. It’s Emily. How are you?
Laura Seton: Nervous?
Emily: Understandable. Okay, I’ll get right to it: You can keep control of your little ones.
Laura Seton: Oh, thank God…
Emily: There are guidelines, though. You cannot do anything that could be seen as threatening.
Laura Seton: But I’m a wrestler. That’s like, most of my job.
Emily: Nothing threatening that is unprovoked. We get it, you have to fight at your job. What we don’t want is you doing something irrational. Like in a match? Regular fighting? Okay. Something where you’re in self-defense? I emphasize, you are struck first, okay. If you start a fight by striking someone, that’s a problem.
Laura Seton: But what if I’m provoked?
Emily: If you are hit, yes. If you are insulted or whatever, no. Any first strike by you highly risks losing Alan and Cheyenne. Like Phil said to you, just think and think some more.
Laura Seton: May I ask, who called this in?
Emily: I don’t know. I really don’t. I just came in one day, saw the open case on my desk.
Laura Seton: Can you find out? For me?
Emily: Okay, two problems. One; I honestly have no contact with the people taking complaints. Two; what are you going to do to who called this in? This is personal territory and we don’t need anyone getting hurt over it.
Laura Seton: If this was who I think–
Emily: What’s more important? Getting revenge… or being with your kids?
A Very Special Episode of the Dragon's Lair
The darkness of the arena is suddenly shaken with the crack of a pyrotechnic lightning strike that explodes into the opening lyrics of Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark” as Daihm Ferguson appears – not from the top of the rampway – but from the concourse.
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!
You’re just a picture, you’re an image caught in time.
We’re a lie, you and I.
We’re words without a rhyme.
There’s no sign of the morning coming.
You’ve been left on your own,
Like a rainbow in the dark.
Just a rainbow in the dark…
Wearing a garish red cape with dragon claws on his hands and feet – and a dramatically-constructed face paint, the Dragon makes his way down the steps as, for the first time, a familiar logo appears superimposed over a live SHOOT broadcast.
Other Guy: We knew this was going to be a big one, Eryk, but the Dragon is really pulling out all the stops tonight as he FINALLY gets to confront his father, the Ox, who coincidentally also happens to be our company’s Chief of Staff.
Eryk Masters: The fans are certainly here for it, OG! Listen to that crowd!
Indeed, there is a definite energy in the air after Daihm’s recent showing in the Rule of Surrender contendership match and the confident-looking fighter waves to the crowd briefly before clearly readying himself for what comes next.
I wish I would have met you…
Now it’s a little late.
What you could’ve taught me.
I could have saved some face.
They think that your early ending,
Was all wrong.
For the most part they’re right,
But look how they all got strong
The boos come down furiously as Lennox Ferguson steps out onto the rampway looking rather annoyed at the whole spectacle.
He wastes no time making his way down to the ring, but doesn’t exactly exude any sense of panic or urgency either. Just a clear, focused intent to get down to business.
Eryk Masters: The tension is palpable, OG. At least, it seems to be for everyone BUT Lennox, who looks rather… bored.
Other Guy: Mind games, Eryk. There is NO way that Lennox doesn’t have some sort of emotion being out here in the middle of a SHOOT Project ring with his son. No way.
The Ox, carrying a microphone, raises it to his lips as he looks the Dragon in the eye.
Ox: Let’s get this over with.
Dragon scoffs and shakes his head as the two find their respective seats on a made-up set in the ring that features a make-shift throne for Daihm and a raised stool for Lennox. The elder Ferguson rolls his eyes as Daihm positions himself and leans forward, now with his own microphone in hand.
Dragon: Well, well, well, ladies, gents, and everyone in between, we have a truly, truly special edition of the Dragon’s Lair here for you tonight as the one and only LEGEND of SHOOT Project, the company’s very own Chief of Staff, and YES, as much as he seems to not want to own up to it… MY FATHER, LENNOX FERGUSON.
The crowd boos mercilessly as Lennox mock claps along in Daihm’s general direction.
Dragon: So. Lennox.
Ox: Oh, please, Daihm. Why the formalities all of a sudden? Call me dad.
Daihm squirms in his chair slightly at the eagerness with which Lennox says the words.
Dragon: I think everyone here has been asking the same question since you arrived back in SHOOT Project… why now? What brought you back?
Ox: That’s an easy one, Daihm.
Dragon: Please… call me “SON”
The weight of the air in the arena increases as the two lock eyes.
Ox: As I was saying, Mr. Johnson actually came to ME and offered me this position. I was between jobs at the time and I felt that I owed it to the company to come back and be of some kind of service.
Daihm nods, his painted face amplifying the contortions occurring as Ox gives his answer.
Dragon: And there were no OTHER factors that prompted you to come back? Just … right place, right time?
The crowd grumbles as Daihm looks incredulously at his father, whose face is cool as a cucumber.
Dragon: Okay, then, DAD. I have to ask… you made a pretty big splash in your first couple weeks back when you suspended Judy Punchinello. Did that have the effect you were hoping for, now that she’s moved on to harassing poor Laura Seton?
Ox looks genuinely confused.
Ox: Did my suspension of Judy have the effect I was hoping for? It’s not about what I wanted, it’s about what was required given the situation. She ASSAULTED you, unprovoked, and that needed to be dealt with. If there was any evidence to the contrary that would have made me issue a different punishment, there was plenty of time for the witnesses to offer it up.
Daihm clenches his fist.
Ox: And Laura Seton is lucky I didn’t suspend her after that shit she pulled. You angling for something here, SON?
Dragon: Next question.
Ox throws up his hands.
Dragon: Why did you single me out to go up against Muerte? Out of ANY of the other fighters here you put my career on the chopping block. Why?
Ox closes his eyes and sighs, looking genuinely annoyed and frustrated..
Ox: Because you deserved to be cut.
The crowd roars in disapproval, but Daihm doesn’t flinch.
Ox: You’ve seen the influx of talent we’ve had, and the veterans we can’t exactly let go of unless we want to take a big financial hit, so honestly, I looked at who was new, low performing, and not bringing in any additional revenue for us. You and Muerte rose to the top pretty quickly in that regard.
Daihm shakes his head.
Dragon: You’re a bloody liar.
Ox feigns shock.
Ox: Excuse me?
Daihm stands up from his chair to a huge roar from the crowd as Lennox inadvertently scoots his chair backwards.
Dragon: You fuckin’ did it to punish me! To get me OUT of this company because when you saw that there was another Ferguson encroaching on your legacy here in SHOOT your ego couldn’t fuckin’ take it. It was all fine and good to leave your bastard son halfway around the world, but the moment he starts to be a burden to you it becomes a fuckin’ crusade to send him back to where he came from and kick him out of your life once again.
Ox stands up now, and gets into Dragon’s face.
Ox: Watch your fuckin’ mouth. You don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.
Dragon throws up his arms in disbelief.
Dragon: Then fuckin’ explain it to me! I’m WAITING! We’ve ALL been waiting to see what it is about the DRAGON that makes the big, mighty OX so fuckin SCARED.
The crowd ROARS as Daihm Ferguson jabs Lennox Ferguson in the chest with those words. And it isn’t long before they are shouting in anger as the elder Ferguson shoves his son back forcefully.
Eryk Masters: I don’t like where this is headed, OG.
Other Guy: Can we get some security out here!? I think we’re going to need it soon!
Daihm laughs a cocky laugh as he points out to the crowd.
Dragon: Just like aye FUCKIN’ thought. You’re a paper fuckin’ tiger. A bullshit artist who gets by making people think you’re worth a damn when all you’ve EVER done is fuck up people’s lives. You fucked up MY life. You fucked up me mom’s life. You fucked up Sarah King’s life. And I bet…
Daihm walks back over to Ox, his dragon costume no longer looking simply kitschy, but now altogether terrifying… as he meets his father eye-to-eye with a determination completely foreign to even himself.
Dragon: I bet… Lennox. That you’re right shite because you know that, deep down, in spite of your bravado and confidence and money … that you ruined your dad’s life because you’ve been NOTHING but a FUCKING DISAPPOINTMENT.
What happens next happens so fast that even the cameras can’t catch it. Within a split second Daihm Fergsuon is down on the mat in a heap and Lennox Ferguson is standing over him with a look of pure rage.
Ox: YOU FUCKING BRAT!
Lennox kicks Daihm square in the gut causing a painful grunt to echo through the auditorium. A wounded Dragon rolls over on his back as he coughs up a bit of blood.
Other Guy: Shit! Shit! Get the medics! Get security! Get-
Eryk Masters: Get those men out of the ring!
The crowd is livid as Lennox grabs his son by the hair, pulling him up into a weakened standing position before screaming and SLAMMING the younger Ferguson’s face into the throne he had just been sitting on and a vicious CRACK can be heard throughout the arena as Lennox lets go and Daihm just collapses to the ground.
Eryk Masters: JESUS!
Other Guy: I’m going to barf.
As Lennox steps back, his eyes adjust and he looks down at what he’s done. His eyes go wide with terror and his face goes sheet white as he drops to his knees and tries to tend to his son but before he can, security sweeps in to the ring and physically rips the SHOOT Project Chief of Staff away from the Dragon and pulls him backward as medical staff slide in and begin assessing the damage.
Lennox looks legitimately horrified as the fans begin to throw trash at the veteran and possibly former Chief of Staff as he is physically dragged out of the ring and away from a scene that can only be described as carnage.
Ria Lockhart Vs. Dan Stein
Reclaiming My Time
He’s not flanked by his usual entourage, no. Instead, Joshua Breedlove walks mostly alone, with Clemson Dean in tow. The crowd throws some boos when he appears on the screen, which gives Breedlove cause to smile. He continues his stroll and bumps into Mary Kelly, microphone in hand.
Joshua Breedlove: Ms. Kelly! Wonderful to see you.
Mary Kelly: I find you acceptable, most of the time. Interview?
Joshua Breedlove: An exclusive, even.
Mary Kelly: Oh? What’s that?
Joshua Breedlove: Joshua Breedlove versus Buck Dresden at Reckoning Day, for the World Heavyweight Championship, of course!
The crowd rings loudly with half boos and half cheers at this announcement. Breedlove nods with satisfaction, continuing to smile.
Mary Kelly: That’s been confirmed? I haven’t seen that announced anywhere.
Joshua Breedlove: Oh, don’t you worry about that, Mary Kelly. I’m on my way to get it all set and done with Mr. Real Deal right now.
Mary Kelly: That’s strange, because I heard that they were considering Nate Robideau for the shot at Buck Dresden.
Breedlove arrogantly puts his hand up, acting very surprised.
Joshua Breedlove: I’m sorry, what? Mr. Executive Maiming Action himself? Nonono. Look at the rankings! Breedlove is #1, Robideau is #2! Why on earth would he get to jump the line? We’re OBVIOUSLY getting Breedlove/Dresden 3 at Reckoning Day. The rubber match! The deciding contest! Will Breedlove make history and capture his third World Heavyweight Championship, defeating one of the ONLY MEN in the SHOOT Project who’s been able to knock him off?
It writes itself!
Mary Kelly hears this, but puts her hand to her ear, apparently listening to an earpiece.
Mary Kelly: So I’ve just been informed through the executive office that that’s NOT in fact the plan, Josh.
Joshua Breedlove: Excuse me, what? Reclaiming my time.
Mary Kelly: …yep, not the plan. Here’s the plan. At Ruination 35, you’re going to square off against Nate Robideau in a singles contest.
Joshua Breedlove: Oh nonono. I don’t believe that’s–
Mary Kelly: And the winner of THAT contest is going to face Buck Dresden, or Void, at Reckoning Day for the World Heavyweight Championship. An OFFICIAL number one contender’s match, Josh! That’s awesome!
Joshua Breedlove: This is TERRIBLE. I don’t understand how we can just IGNORE THE RANKINGS, Mary. This is ridiculous. I’m going to go talk to Mr. Johnson right-the-fuck-now.
Mary Kelly: Well, while you do that, I’ll kick it back to the arena as the Sin City Championship is on the line, when the previously mentioned Nate Robideau takes on the reigning Sin City Champion… Jamie Johnson. That match is next!
Nate Robideau Vs. Jamie Johnson (c)
“One for the Money” by Escape the Fate trails off, Jamie Johnson standing in the ring with the Sin City Championship in hand. He hands it over to Clark Feldman as Samantha Coil steps up.
Samantha Coil: From CHARLESTON, South Carolina… he is the SHOOT Project Sin City Champion… THE REALNESS… JAMIE JOHNSON. The crowd cheers, but they’re immediately silenced as “Get Up” hits, but Nate actually beats it by a half second, appearing on the ramp. The rushed playing of it means his lighting effects are off, giving us the impression that he popped out before he was given the go-ahead. As he starts booking it down the ramp at a brisk pace, his jaw set, the announcer scrambles as well.
Samantha Coil: From Natakkoa, Elko County Nevada, weighing two-hundred and forty pounds he is The Blackhawk, NATE ROBIDEAU!!
Nate doesn’t even let his music play out, quickly stomping his way down to the ring. No hoodie, no shaking out or stretching, bare knuckled. He slides into the ring and instantly gets in Jamie’s face, both men jawing at one another nose to nose.
Eryk Masters: Bit of bad blood between these two, so Clark Feldman needs to get control of the situation sooner rather than later!
He indeed attempts, wedging an arm in between the men, causing Nate to hold his hands up and nod, clearly intent on backing off. He takes one step back–before LAUNCHING himself forward and blasting Jamie in the nose with a headbutt!!
Other Guy: Whoa! Caught him slipping!
Eryk Masters: Slipping nothing, that was a cheap shot!
Jamie stumbles backwards, shaking his head to try and get his senses back, while the referee interposes himself. Nate elbows the official in the temple, more out of annoyance than anything, causing Feldman to drop like he’s been shot! The crowd is booing as Nate smiles, offering the smallest of shrugs before turning his attention to The Realness. Smelling blood, he pounces on his former student, blasting him in the ribs with a left and then leveling him with an unprotected overhand right! The crowd screams as Jamie attempts to get to his feet, Nate circling him and rolling his shoulders…and smiling! Taking his time, Nate practically struts, cracking every one of his knuckles, leaping on the balls of his feet, considering his next move on his clearly wounded opponent.
Eryk Masters: I remember a Nate Robideau who used to have honor!
Other Guy: Think that ‘honor’ is gonna comfort Jamie while he puts a steak on his face, ‘Ryk?!
Eryk Masters: The bell hasn’t even rung, this match hasn’t even started!!
Nate gets a running start and leaps into the air, looking to bring a big time knee down on the back of Jamie’s head–at the last second, Johnson rolls away, dodging it! Robideau growls and pounces on his body, executing a full mount and bringing down an absolute monsoon of 12-to-6 elbows and punches!! The blows are reeling Jamie, each landing with a sickening thud, worsening the condition of his already broken nose, splattering Nate’s white shorts with blood! Jamie tries to get his guard up, but in doing so gives Nate an opening–He snags his former student’s arm, then swings his legs around his shoulders, using his momentum to swing Jamie on top of him! Nate Robideau locks Jamie Johnson into a textbook Leg Triangle, wrenching it as hard as he can!! Arm trapped, Nate’s legs interlocked, his nose absolutely pouring blood, he starts to tap almost instantly as the bell continually rings, the crowd tearing the roof off in rage!!
Eryk Masters: Let him go! You made your point!!
Jamie’s taps go from quick to furious, desperate…then they begin to die down. Nate throws his head back, gritting his teeth…and Jamie’s arm finally goes limp!! Robideau lets go, rolling him over to the mat and kipping up to his feet. He circles the ring, looking sour and angry, absolutely offended. He crouches low to Jamie, who is blinking slowly, looking at him with contempt before spitting in his face and standing up. Finally, he turns to the entrance, his lip curling into a sneer. He then turns to the hard camera, pointing to his eyes before slapping his battleship chest. The message is clear.
He grabs the barely conscious Jamie Johnson and easily sets him onto his knees, like he’s merely arranging a toy. The security team is pouring down the ramp, as he gets a hold of Jamie’s hair. He swings his leg backwards, then drives it forwards as he pulls his opponent’s face forward–and takes him off his seated position with a MASSIVE knee to the face!! Jamie lands in a wrong way on his back, clearly out cold, and Nate looks like he’s ready to do more, popping his neck, before Lou Grimaldi himself and three other men get a hold of his arms and pull him back!! They swarm Robideau, interposing as many bodies as they can between him and The Realness, and for a brief moment, it looks like he might try to fight them all!
Other Guy: I hate to say it, but he was warned, and–
Eryk Masters: Oh blow it out your ass, OG! This was past uncalled for, this was a sadist getting revenge for something the kid wasn’t even responsible for!!
Finally, Nate allows himself to be restrained, the security team zip-tying his wrists together. He smiles warmly as medical staff tend to Jamie, resisting being led away long enough to see them trying to help him get his senses back. There is no music. There is no champion standing tall.
Just a black screen. And a logo.