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Revolution 207

EP.: 207

DATE: 04.29.2024

ARENA: THE EPICENTER

Video screens throughout the Epicenter glow brightly with a now-familiar smiling devil as the roar of the crowd nearly deafens the heavy riffs of Dance with the Dead’s “Hex” piping through the speakers.

We know why and soon see why as three figures in masks appear at the top of the Epicenter rampway and confidently walk down to the ring, even as fans in the first few rows try to clutch an grab at the trio. Other fans, not within reach, begin throwing full cups of water, soda, and beer onto the ramp and arena floor.

Jason Johnson: In all my years of doing this, I have never seen this kind of animosity from the fans!

Eryk Masters: You’ve been doing this for four months, Jason. But you’re also not wrong! The fans are livid to start tonight’s show and I can’t blame them; this is the first time since the events of Warrior’s Code that they have shown their faces. I mean masks. I mean…

Jason Johnson: We know what you mean, ‘Ryk.

The three masked individuals enter the ring and the one wearing the black mask holds a microphone in their hand. The white-masked figure pulls off their mask to reveal the face of the reviled NC-17, who makes a wanking motion with his hand while the red-masked figure stays still, flanking their black-masked colleague, who reaches up and pulls their mask off to reveal the smiling face of Ayumi Seppuku.

The fans are shouting wildly as Ayumi and NC-17’s smug visages are shown on the arena screens. The Hall of Famer gestures for the crowd to keep it coming, even holding up a hand to her ear, taunting the very fans who had welcomed her back to SHOOT almost exactly three years ago.

Ayumi Seppuku: Oh come on Vegas! Tell me how you really feel!

The sound coming from the arena seats is so loud it’s hard to believe it hasn’t shaken the very foundation of the Epicenter.

Eryk Masters: I think I preferred her when she didn’t have a voice.

Jason Johnson: We all do.

Ayumi’s smirk widens as she continues.

Ayumi Seppuku: After all these months, after nearly TWO YEARS I can’t tell you how cathartic it feels to finally have you tell me to my face how you’ve felt about me all along. I wasted so much time trying to appease you, trying to bend over backwards just so you would TOLERATE me all the while knowing you – or this company – would ever truly care about me.

Jason Johnson: Jesus Christ, how delusional is she!? She’s a Hall of Famer for Christ’s sake. We threw her a party! She got to make a speech and everything!

Ayumi Seppuku: I almost. ALMOST convinced myself that this time it would be different, but when push literally came to shove, this company and all of you couldn’t memory hole me fucking fast enough. I was seen as a HEX on this company and everyone was glad to see me gone. My tag partner leaves the company rather than fighting to bring me back. My boss rewards the two sociopaths who nearly killed me. My colleagues looked at me like I was a fucking monster.

Jason Johnson: Because you ARE a fucking monster!

Ayumi Seppuku: I heard that. Jason.

Ayumi turns to lock eyes with the brother of CEO Josh Johnson and uncle of Jamie and Jack Johnson and the crowd erupts seeing the color commentator stand up from his desk and pointing violently while Eryk Masters tries to pull him back down into his seat.

Ayumi saunters over to the side of the ring closest to the announce table and leans down.

Ayumi Seppuku: I’m more than happy to show you just how much of a monster I’ve become… just like I did with Jam-

YOU’VE GOT THE TOUCH!
YOU’VE GOT THE POWAAAAAHHHH!

 

The roof blows off the Epicenter as “The Touch” by Stan Bush hits the speakers and a hobbled, but determined Dan Stein arrives at the top of the rampway with a microphone in hand. Ayumi’s attention turns from Jason Johnson to the SHOOT Project COO with a curious, if not amused look on her face.

Dan Stein: You’re not doing a GODDAMNED thing.

In spite of the huge pop, or perhaps because of it, Ayumi laughs out loud and goes to say something back, but nothing comes out of the microphone. She taps on it, confused and showing a bit of frustration.

Dan Stein: You’re not saying a GODDAMNED thing either.

Dan now has Ayumi’s full attention as she jaws at him from the ring, NC-17 now at her side joining in as Dan shakes his head in disgust and disappointment.

Dan Stein: I’m going to make this announcement quick because these fans came to watch the opening round of Master of the Mat, not listen to your therapy session.

Ayumi’s eyes grow wide as the cameras clearly capture her saying “Fuck You” toward the SHOOT COO.

Dan Stein: Fuck YOU, Seppuku. And you too, Seventeen. You’ve terrorized SHOOT long enough and even though you’ve managed to burrow yourselves back into this company like a couple of blood-sucking ticks, that doesn’t mean you’re free from consequences.

Ayumi and NC-17 roll their eyes.

Dan Stein: First. While we are ALLOWING you to stay in Master of the Mat, once both of you are eliminated from competition, even if that means this evening, you will be removed from booking consideration going forward. In other words, you may still be SHOOT employees, but you can ride pine until it becomes your coffin. If you want to stay in the ring then you better stay in the tournament.

Dan points down toward the ring.

Dan Stein Second. You said something that got me thinking, Ayumi. Because you’re right that you’re a hex on this company, and as I am sure you know, the only way to remove a hex is to CLEANSE it.

Ayumi and NC-17 look at one another, showing even more concern than before.

Dan Stein: Effective immediately, SHOOT Project is putting a company bounty on the heads of the three individuals known collectively as HEXXX! Any Soldier. Any SOLDIERS who neutralize this threat will be HANDSOMELY rewarded!

The crowd roars as the members of HEXXX look shocked.

Dan Stein: FINALLY, and most importantly… if Daihm Ferguson is not safely returned by the time either of these prior conditions are met, then upon the elimination of Ayumi Seppuku and NC-17 from the tournament or their inability to compete in said tournament due to injury or other factors…

SHOOT’s COO looks coldly at the group assembled in the ring.

Dan Stein: No contract, or conditions you may have tricked Lennox into promising, will keep any of you safe. THAT is a fucking promise.

The crowd cheers and a new chant begins to surface; soft and quiet at first, but then overtaking the entire arena.

FUCK YOU. SEPPU-KU! FUCK YOU SEPPU-KU! FUCK YOU SEPPU-KU!

Dan Stein: I couldn’t agree more. Now, clear the ring and get NEMESIS out here.

Stein lowers the microphone and walks away as an incredulous-looking Ayumi Seppuku and NC-17 are shouting and pointing at each other in the ring until DooM Dance by GUNSHIP hits the speakers signaling the arrival of Ayumi’s competition for the evening.

Ayumi says something to cause NC-17 and the unknown third member of HEXXX to roll out of the ring before she plants her feet to the mat and clenches her fists in anticipation.

OPENING MATCH

MASTER OF THE MAT: ROUND 1

#8 NEMESIS

VS.

#9 AYUMI SEPPUKU

Backstage

CRAZIER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED

 

The Kid: Okay, so, uh….cards on the table. 

The Kid, Flaco Cortez, is pacing, geared out, and though it seems crazy to call this lanky young ox of a guy “The Kid”, his soft and uncertain way of speaking combined with his childish face make it way more apparent than when he’s tossing people around the ring.  He chews on his lip, fidgets, and tries to figure out what to say. 

The Kid: Okay.  I know I’m not supposed to go far.  Right?  Like, don;t get me wrong, I’m super super thankful for the opportunity, just…I kinda feel like a sacrificial lamb, in a way?  “Give everyone an exciting match”, probably what they were thinking.  And Bennett, Oso, I know you guys are gonna see this but I can’t just walk in front of the camera and just tell everyone how cool and strong I am, y’know? 

He holds his lengthy arms up, as if begging off. 

The Kid: It’d feel…like a put on.  Like I’m a liar, and I’m not a liar.

Flaco shakes his head, resuming his pacing. 

The Kid: Truth is I dunno if I can even win this match, much less a whole tournament. 

With a stop, his movement shifts.  So does his energy.  He crosses his arms, looking at the ground for a long while, thinking things through. 

The Kid: But crazier things have happened, right?  Like, this whole industry is built on possibilities  of wild things happen.  Including big surprises.  Why not me?  I could tell everybody all about why I won’t win, but you know all of that already.  And I agree with you!  I’m inexperienced, young, probably somewhere where I shouldn’t be.  I’ve got a lot of voicemails reminding me of that last part.  Every day I get calls I don’t answer and every call ends in a voicemail that’s just…I’m sure he’s just trying to toughen me up.  But it’s so like…over and over again.  Reminding me.  Just telling me over and over that I don’t belong. 

It’s clear these last words are more raw and confessional than most things he’s said, given the plain hurt in his eyes.  But he raises his head up, intakes some breath sharply like he’s waking himself from a trance, and sets his lower lip. 

The Kid: But maybe I do. 

Flaco nods now, gaining confidence. 

The Kid: Win or lose, maybe I just do. 

He smiles–to a put on, not a false cocky, just a simple smile.  He nods, then walks off, presumably to his match.  We cut away…

SINGLES MATCH

MASTER OF THE MAT: ROUND 1

#7 JAMIE JOHNSON

VS.

#10 FLACO CORTEZ

Backstage

WAIT & SEE

Jason Johnson: We’re headed to the back for a chat with my favorite former World Heavyweight Champion! 

 

Eryk Masters: Your brother? 

 

Jason Johnson: Ew, no. Breedlove! 

 

The shot transitions to Abigail Chase standing by with Joshua Breedlove to her right. He’s somewhat distracted, his gaze drifting over to the monitor every so often. Hearing the producer off camera, he focuses up, though. 

 

Abigail Chase: I’m here with Joshua Breedlove, and we’re just going to get right into it. We haven’t heard anything from you about Warrior’s Code since the event, so what’s going through your mind right now? 

 

Breedlove: Laura Seton is every bit the competitor she said she was and I said she was. I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to get it done against her again, but… a draw is improvement, I guess.

 

He looks over at the monitor once more.

 

Abigail Chase: What’re you thinking is up next for you, then? You’re not in Master of the Mat, so I’m assuming you have some idea.

 

Breedlove: Wasn’t my choice not to be in Master of the Mat, but in talking with Stein and Josh, it’s feeling like we’re going to run this back on PPV and do Breedlove/Seton again. I’ve now fought her in three separate singles matches. I’ve come up short in two of them and we split the uprights on the third.

 

Abigail Chase: That’s got to be frustrating. So, it sounds like you haven’t gotten a definitive answer about plans for the World Heavyweight Championship at Master of the Mat. Is Lindsay Troy’s return perhaps a part of that? 

 

Breedlove sighs, turning and looking at Abigail Chase.

 

Breedlove: Of course she is. Look, I get how business works. You have a commodity like Lindsay Troy that comes in, she makes her intentions clear, you do what you gotta do to make that match happen. There’s plenty of history between the three of us, so it essentially writes itself. 

 

Abigail Chase: You seem annoyed at that.

 

Breedlove: Who wouldn’t be? I’m only human. Laura Seton represents a challenge I’ve yet to overcome. Adding Lindsay Troy to that mix puts that goal farther out of my reach and adds an unknown element to the whole thing. It’s not even Troy’s fault, it’s just frustrating. 

 

Abigail Chase: And I’m guessing it’s compounded by not being in Master of the Mat. 

 

Breedlove: It is. It’s a mixed bag for me. I hate not being in control of my own destiny, but at the same time… there’s a lot of really good Empire representation in this thing, so that’s where my focus is going to be until we have some clarity on what’s happening in the title scene. 

 

Abigail Chase: You’re right, of course. With Burkhalter beating Mike last night, and Madison Seton moving on, you’ve got to be happy with those results.

 

Breedlove: I am, for sure. I’m bummed for Mike because he’s been putting a lot of work in, but Burkhalter is raw and amazing. Chad Kyle put in some good effort against Madison, but ultimately that match went the way I expected it to. 

 

Abigail Chase: Which means you’ve got Jamie, who just wrapped his match up, and Jack to watch tonight.

 

Breedlove: Yep! I’m confident in both of those guys. I like Flaco Cortez, who’s been working out at the Sanctum a bit, but Jamie’s a man on a mission. His drive since he got cleared has been incredible to watch. Jack too. Jack’s got such a weird matchup though, so it’s hard to say which direction that one goes.

 

Abigail Chase: Referring to his Dad? 

 

Breedlove: Of course. We all knew that Real Deal had been training for a return, I just don’t know why this is the spot he chose. Will Jack be able to put his own dad down? It’s intriguing. 

 

Abigail Chase: Any comment about the happenings between the Johnson’s and the whole Ayumi Seppuku thing? 

 

Breedlove: Nah, not touching that. 

 

Abigail Chase: Fair enough, folks. We’re going to kick it back to the boys at the desk and get ready for even more action tonight. 

 

The scene transitions back to Jason Johnson and Eryk Masters.

 

Jason Johnson: I can’t say I blame Breedlove. 

 

Eryk Masters: For what? 

 

Jason Johnson: For anything that he just said, honestly. There’s a lot of weirdness happening around here and his crew seems to be wrapped up in the middle of it. It’s gotta be hard taking care of that business while also not being sure what’s happening with your own business.

 

Eryk Masters: Referring to the Laura Seton/Lindsay Troy issue? 

 

Jason Johnson: Yep. It’ll be interesting to see how that all shakes out. Up next, we’ve got…

SINGLES MATCH

MASTER OF THE MAT: ROUND 1

#6 ELIJAH CASSIUS STARBORNE

VS.

#11 IZZY SIA

POST MATCH

NOT FINISHED YET

As Izzy Sia is celebrating her victory in the ring, the crowd’s attention turns inward as someone is ripping through the audience! 

 

Jason Johnson: Security! 

 

Eryk Masters: Izzy look out! 

 

But Izzy Sia is not the target, no. The target is Elijah Cassius Starborne and the pointed weapon is none other than Archer Quincannon, and when the crowd realizes it? They pop. 

 

Jason Johnson: We knew this wasn’t over, but it’s REALLY not over. Archer FLEW down from somewhere in the crowd! 

 

Eryk Masters: Quincannon suffered a defeat at the hands of C.K. Butcher last night in the first round of Master of the Mat, in what many would consider an upset, but it seems he’s got a new or renewed focus! 

 

Sia bails out of the ring, knowing that she’s not the subject of Quincannon’s ire, as Quincannon slides underneath the bottom rope and starts wailing on Elijah Starborne! Starborne is covering up as best he can, but Quincannon is relentless in his attack and his punches are definitely getting through. 

 

Jason Johnson: Where’s the cult?! 

 

Eryk Masters: Or Solstice, for that matter?!

 

Quincannon, who seems to know his time for this attack is limited, follows Starborne who’s managed to get out of the ring and onto the floor. As he gets back to his feet, Starborne eats a boot to the chest and bounces off of the guardrail with a thud! Quincannon is piecing Starborne up, getting some sweet revenge on Starborne, who’s been tormenting him for MONTHS. 

 

“You just quietly make your debut in this tournament?! You can’t face me?! You’re a coward!” 

 

The crowd’s feverish as Archer has Starborne cowering underneath him on the floor, blood starting to come from his mouth and a bruise on his face. Quincannon drags Elijah to his feet, still screaming in his face. 

 

“I told you this was going to happen if you kept fucking with me, Starborne. I told you that you and your celestial goonsquad were going to circlejerk yourselves into an ass kicking, and HERE. IT. IS.” 

 

Quincannon lifts Starborne up and drops his midsection over the guardrail, drawing an “oooh” from the crowd. 

 

Jason Johnson: He’s kicking his ASS. God DAMN.

 

Eryk Masters: Your heart gonna pee? 

 

Jason Johnson: Maybe! Is that gimmick infringement?! 

 

After what seems like an eternity, members of the Celestial Order, led by Solstice, start pouring from the back. Quincannon kicks Elijah Starborne in the face once more and then hops the guardrail! He makes his way up into the crowd and turns back, looking at the carnage he caused with a HUGE smile on his face. 

 

Eryk Masters: That had to feel GREAT for him. 

 

Jason Johnson: And the Celestial Order won’t even go after him right now, they’re way too concerned about the condition of their leader. 

 

Eryk Masters: The crowd’s loving this shit too, and Archer’s eating it up! 

 

Archer Quincannon lifts a fist into the air and the crowd lets him hear it! 

SINGLES MATCH

MASTER OF THE MAT: ROUND 1

#5 CICADA

VS.

#12 JEFFREY JAMES ROBERTS

Backstage

FIGHT FOR MY FAMILY

Eryk Masters: Mary Kelly’s in the back with the big boss himself, the owner, CEO, president, hall of famer, former World Heavyweight Champion, TRIAD winner… the Real Deal! 

 

Jason Johnson: Going for a bonus, eh? 

 

Shifting to the back right outside the entrance to the ramp and curtain, Mary Kelly stands next to a very amped up looking Real Deal. He hasn’t stopped moving since she caught up with him.

 

Mary Kelly: So it’s pretty safe to say you’re excited? 

 

Real Deal: Oh yeah, absolutely. I’ve wanted to get back in the ring for a little bit, even just for some one off stuff and I thought this was a good way to do it. 

 

Mary Kelly: Against your son? 

 

Real Deal laughs.

 

Real Deal: Yeah, I see a couple of things, you know? I see the turmoil that Ayumi Seppuku has put my family through as something that needs to be dealt with. I figure Jamie, Jack, and me? That’s three out of sixteen chances to get our hands on her. So if I win? 

 

He pauses.

 

Real Deal: I move a step closer to kicking the shit out of Ayumi Seppuku, a shit-kicking that she very desperately needs. If I lose? That means, to me, that Jack is ready to get on with his career and that he’s better set up to go after Ayumi. I’m good with either of those outcomes. 

 

Mary Kelly: So this whole thing is driven by what Ayumi Seppuku has done to your family, then? 

 

Real Deal: Didn’t start out that way. Initially, I started training again because honestly? I’m not much older than Laura Seton and she just won our World title. I wanted to see if I still had something like that left in me or if the years of being in the office were a little too unkind. 

 

Mary Kelly ponders that for a moment. 

 

Mary Kelly: Guessing Lindsay Troy coming back probably helped motivate you too. 

 

Real Deal: Yeah of course! But that was honestly after all of this. This went from basically a temp check on my body to a full blown need to be able to get in the ring and fight for my family. 

 

Mary Kelly: Well, you’re in great shape and I’ve heard that you’ve been working with Eddie E. and Trey to get back into ring ready form, so good luck out there tonight. 

 

Real Deal: Thanks Mary, and good timing on the ending of this interview, because I just heard the lights go out and I think…

 

He stops himself.

 

“I CAME TO TELL THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUUUUUTH!!” 

 

 

Real Deal: That’s my cue.

SINGLES MATCH

MASTER OF THE MAT: ROUND 1

#4 JACK JOHNSON

VS.

#13 REAL DEAL

SINGLES MATCH

MASTER OF THE MAT: ROUND 1

#3 LEXI GOLD

VS.

#14 CORMAC NELSON

POST MATCH

SHATTERED

After securing a win in her qualifying match, Lexi Gold walks through the backstage area basking in the huge victory. Upon reaching her locker room, she turns the knob and pushes the door open, stepping inside. Making her way to the mirror nestled in the corner of the room, she gazes at her reflection with a sense of satisfaction.

The smile drops quickly as she sees a familiar but unwanted presence lurking in the shadows behind her.

Lexi: How did you get in here?

Dr. Străjer: The how is not important, Ms. Gold. It’s the why.

Lexi: Not to me it’s not. Get out. Now!

Dr. Străjer wags his boney finger at Lexi as the orb at the top of his cane glows a sickening green color, washing the room in a toxic hue.

Dr. Străjer: I was watching your match intently, Ms. Gold. And I was watching your opponent as well… so lucky that Mr. Nelson seemed to suffer a lapse in judgment you were able to capitalize on, and place you in the next round of this… um… physical pageant.

Lexi’s face contorts in confusion. The green orb pulses.

Lexi: Are you… implying you fixed my match?

Dr. Străjer: How can one imply the truth? I used the resources at my disposal and did what needed to be done.

Lexi: You are crazy.

Dr. Străjer: I offered you a path, Ms. Gold, and you saw fit to humiliate me. To reject my very generous offer, and so I had to take matters into my own hands and show you what you have available to you if you simply open your mind to what is possible and unleash the beast that we both know you have hibernating inside.

Lexi: You want to be humiliated furthermore?

Dr. Străjer: I see. Well… Ms. Gold, this is my last offer and after today you have two choices… and I strongly encourage you to weigh them carefully. You can join me and sit at the zenith of this company or you can reject your true nature and, in so doing, place yourself in the sights of my WOLF MAN. 

 

Lexi Gold: What I find amusing in this situation is the fact that you talk so highly of him, yet he hides in the shadows. Your monster is a coward.

Dr. Străjer frowns, his face turning sour as he shakes his head.

Dr. Străjer: Oh Ms. Gold… the shadows are where all predators stalk their prey; but I had hoped you would not be counted among that lot.

Dr. Străjer begins to walk toward Lexi’s locker room door.

Dr. Străjer: Mind those shadows, Ms. Gold… sometimes they show more than mirrors do.

 

Lexi Gold: You’re looking rather shaky there. Let me lend you a hand. 

 

An evil expression formed on her face. She marches toward him and catches him off guard –  snatching the cane from his hands, attempting to use it as a weapon! Străjer reacts violently, moreso than Lexi was expecting for a seemingly frail old man, initiating an aggressive tug-of-war over the cane with neither one refusing to let go. 

 

Lexi Gold: Give it up, old man. You’re better off in a nursery room than being here.

Dr. Străjer: You are making a FATAL mistake, căţea!


Lexi yells, giving one final strong tug but before she loses her step and falls backwards. Străjer tumbles with her into the glass of the mirror as it shatters completely, but rather than falling to the ground, the pair disappear into the space where the mirror glass once was.

The scene holds for several seconds with no signs of the pair returning, before finally cutting to a new feed.

SINGLES MATCH

MASTER OF THE MAT: ROUND 1

#2 NC-17

VS.

#15 ARTHUR PLEASANT

COMMERCIAL

MASTER OF THE MAT

MAIN EVENT MATCH

MASTER OF THE MAT: ROUND 1

#1 MIRANDA DC

VS.

#16 IGNATIUS ALBERT MARTIN