The camera pans backstage and there’s a brief chorus of boos as Johnny Vignochi walks down a hallway alone, dressed in a leopard print shirt, black pants, and Italian loafers. His long brown hair is up in a messy bun, and he’s wearing a pair of gold-trimmed shades. He stops abruptly, as if he hears something the audience can’t. He takes his sunglasses off and peers around cautiously. We’re suddenly clued into what he’s hearing. NC-17 pokes his red mohawked head out from the inside of a nearby trash can. The crowd pops as Johnny does a double-take.
NC-17: Psst! John boy! I’m over here!
Johnny Vig: Ethan, what the–!?!? Where have you been? I’ve been lookin’ all over for ya! What the fuck are ya doin’ in a trash can?
NC-17 looks worse for wear. His head is bandaged and he has a black eye from his match with Muerte. He definitely looks on edge.
NC-17: SHHHHH!!!! SHUT UP, DUDE. He might hear you.
Johnny Vig: Who might hear me? Is…is this about Ultimo Muerte? And what happened down in Mexico?
Johnny looks like he’s smelling something unpleasant. He fans his nose and shakes his head in disgust.
Johnny Vig: Jesus, Ethan, you smell like a can of tuna.
The cream of obscene looks absolutely frightened. He’s pivoting his head frantically, trying to make sure nobody else is coming down the hallway.
NC-17: You haven’t seen him tonight, have you?
Johnny Vig: Who? Muerte?
NC-17: SHUT THE FUCK UP, Vig, God damn. Stop saying his name.
Johnny Vig: Oh for crying out loud, Ethan, he ain’t the Candyman. He ain’t gonna manifest ‘cause I said his name 3 times.
NC-17: How do you know?
Vig facepalms to the delight of the audience. Seventeen begins to creep back into the trash can slowly.
Johnny Vig: You gonna be ready for Haskell tonight or am I gonna have to wheel you down to that ring myself?
NC-17: Oh, I’m still gonna put a hurtin’ on that one-tooth havin’ cousin-fucker, believe that. Just make sure you got the car fired up and ready to go after the match. I’m not sticking around long enough for that creep Muerte to haunt me…I mean find me. Yeah…find me.
The cream of obscene tentatively tries to climb out of the can, but ends up toppling over and spilling trash everywhere. The crowd pops again as Johnny shakes his head.
Scott Kamura: Well it looks like whatever happened down in Mexico didn’t stay down in Mexico.
Dutch Harris: You can say that again, Scott. Our Shut Up and Fight Champion looks like he’s about to Shut Up and Get Out of Town. He better hope Muerte isn’t in the building tonight.
We cut to a commercial break before heading on to the next match.
Blackhawk Fight Gym Vs. Azraith/NEMESIS/Ayumi Seppuku
As her team begins to roll out from the ring, Judy-E stands still, balling her hands into fists. Azraith takes notice and taps her on the shoulder, nodding with his head that they’re going, and her stance relaxes. Nodding her head, she begins walking to the ropes with him. Nate, Jamie, and Buck are talking amongst each other…and everyone—Azraith, Ayumi, Blackhawk Gym, the announcers, and especially Nate—is caught entirely caught off-guard as NEMESIS turns and rushes Nate!! He tries to anticipate when he hears the movement, but can’t turn fast enough to mount a defense as she SPEARS him clear through the ropes and onto the FLOOR!!
Scott Kamura: Whoa!! Judy-E DeMitri is fed up and she’s making it known!! Did you hear Nate’s skull?!
Dutch Harris: Poke a dog, don’t cry when you get bit!
Nate attempts to roll through and gain control, but she cuts him short with an absolutely BRUTAL looking 12-to-6 elbow!! Robideau shakes his head, trying to get his guard up—NEMESIS transitions out to the side mount, kicks her leg up high, and drives her knee into his ribs!! He rolls away to the announce desk, gritting his teeth, nursing a gushing cut across his brow that’s currently pouring sweat and blood into his eyes. Azraith, Buck, and Jamie have all hopped to the floor…though we can’t hear over the crowd noise, we can see Az pleading with her to walk away. She looks to him for a long moment as Nate makes it to doubled over, arms rising on his knees, gasping for wind.
Scott Kamura: NEMESIS considering her options here, the champion reeling, but he is on his feet!
Dutch Harris: Economy of violence! Three moves and the champion is still trying to stand up straight!
Nate finally puts his spine straight, waving off the slow advance of Johnson. Dresden hangs back, as if he knows this is something he has to handle on his own. Judy-E turns from her father and looks at Nate directly, who peers at her with shining eyes made all the brighter by the contrasting blood. There’s a tense moment…then Robideau gingerly takes his fighting stance to a raucous uproar from the crowd! She nods and starts to take her stance before rushing him with lightning speed!! She shoots for an overhead right, which Nate takes the bait for, going for a block and leaving his midsection exposed—NEMESIS drops to a knee and positively BURIES her elbow into his ribs!! Nate stumbles, gasping, before recovering and cinching her head, bringing up big Thai style knees on his good side!
Dutch Harris: Can y’all step in already?!
Scott Kamura: Hesitant to agree with you on breaking up combat, but look at how purple Nate’s side is already, I’d be shocked if she didn’t crack a rib on that shot!
Finally, the teams descend—along with some members of the security team—onto the brawling pair, as Nate is bringing one knee into Judy-E’s face while she hammers away on his injured rib. Both teams have some difficulty separating them, and then they finally break, Nate actually has a chunk of her mask in his mitt! They keep trying to push forward, screaming at one another, until Robideau finally drops to one knee, both arms wrapped around his midsection. He screams in frustration and rage, staring up at Judy-E DeMitri, who locks eyes with him even as she’s being ushered backwards. With all of this action, we cut away as the medical staff make their way to Nate…
Cameras cut to the Epicenter’s green room; a converted ballroom with several large circular tables spaced evenly out on thin carpet in the center of the room and sets of long banquet tables pushed up against two of the walls.
Laid out across the banquet tables are an assortment of cold cut sandwiches, deserts, sliders, water, tea, sodas… the usual catered food fair.
Standing at the table, looking down in puzzlement, is BOSS Koga; wearing a red mawashi (traditional sumo garb) and stroking his coal black beard as if he was in deep thought. In his other hand is a paper plate piled cartoonishly high with snacks. He’s just begun to sample some of the delicacies he’s selected when there’s a voice from off camera.
Ayumi: If I were you I’d avoid the chicken salad sandwiches… and the roast beef sandwiches… and really any of the sandwiches.
Ayumi Seppuku, dressed down in a simple but eye-catching tracksuit, reaches past Koga to snag a slice of cheese pizza from a grease-soaked box.
Ayumi: I know it’s not exactly good for you, but at least, unlike those sandwiches, it won’t make you empty your stomach later on.
The Ronin Wraith wipes her hand on a napkin and extends it towards Koga before quickly drawing it back and trading it for a more traditional bow. Koga places his plate of food on a table and returns the bow, although there’s a hint of derision in his eyes. He goes back to his grazing, crumbs tumbling down his bare, tattooed belly like boulders down a mountainside.
Ayumi: You must be Koga. Seppuku Ayumi. I’m glad I ran into you… I know we have a match tonight but there aren’t many Japanese expatriates here in Las Vegas, or in SHOOT for that matter… so regardless of how things turn out tonight I’m glad you’re here.
BOSS Koga licks all five of his fingers while he playfully processes the information.
Koga: Ayumi Seppuku. Now where have I heard that name before…
Ayumi smirks slightly, trying to break the ice with some sarcasm.
Ayumi: Depends on what circles you hung with back home.
BOSS Koga smirks back, no sense of humor in his gaze.
Koga: I don’t know what it is… but that name is throbbing, stuck like a splinter in my mind. I can’t place it, but maybe when we meet in the ring seeing your unconscious body laying broken at my feet will spark some memories. Maybe then it will be my name that sticks like a splinter in YOUR mind when the night is done and over with.
Ayumi’s positive demeanor falters
Ayumi: Calm down there Hirohito. Don’t go burning bridges before you have a chance to walk across them.
Koga lets out a mighty belch. One that looks like it smells.
Koga: You’re just a snack on my personal buffet line, Seppuku. Not even the main course. You’re fighting a real live sumo tonight. I hope you’ve brought your own appetite.
As if unconsciously thinking about appetite, Ayumi doesn’t respond but instead lifts up her slice of pizza and takes another bite.
As she lowers her hand back down Koga slaps the slice away and it tumbles to the floor, cheese-side down.
Ayumi’s eyes look down at the floor and then up at BOSS Koga; her face surprisingly, eerily calm given the incredible sign of disrespect. Koga doesn’t flinch or back down; in fact, he takes a step closer towards Ayumi, but Ayumi stands her ground.
Ayumi: You know, Koga…
Koga: BOSS Koga, to you, abazure.
Koga layers the insult with perfect diction, waiting, begging for Ayumi to make a move, but she just sighs, a mix of disappointment and boredom in her expression now.
Ayumi: …Good luck out there tonight. And don’t forget…
Ayumi eyes the table behind Koga at the half-empty platter of cold cut sandwiches.
Ayumi: No… nevermind.
Ayumi takes a step back and once again bows towards BOSS Koga, but now clearly in a mocking gesture, before turning around and calmly walking out of the green room as the cameras pan back to BOSS Koga who looks on, fuming.
Unholy Cyber Army Vs. The Bone Brigade
The camera opens on Mary Kelly standing in the backstage area looking at the camera. Standing next to her is Dan Stein. Dan holds a strap of the Iron Fist Championship at his side with his left hand, and has the Louisville Slugger he’s been carrying around on his right shoulder. Dan hasn’t shaved and a nice, thick beard has grown on his face. Dan’s eyes are covered by a pair of dark sunglasses.
Mary Kelly: I’m here with Iron Fist Champion, Dan Stein.
Mary turns to Dan.
Mary Kelly: Dan, it’s been two weeks since Void abducted your wife, Molly Stein. Can you give us any update on her whereabouts?
Mary puts the microphone in Dan’s face. Dan stares straight ahead at an angle as he answers softly.
Dan Stein: No.
Mary pulls the microphone back.
Mary Kelly: Do you know if she’s safe?
She again puts the microphone in his face. Again, Stein responds softly.
Dan Stein: No.
Mary pulls the microphone back, slowly.
Mary Kelly: Later tonight Lindsay Troy and X-Calibur battle for the opportunity to challenge you for the Iron Fist Championship. What are your thoughts on the match?
Again, she puts the microphone in Dan’s face. Stein continues to stare straight ahead.
Dan Stein: …fuck ‘em both.
Dan drops the bat from his shoulder, holding on to the handle as it clanks against the ground. Dan looks at Mary.
Mary Kelly: Th-thank you.
Dan walks forward between Mary and the camera and down the hallway. Mary looks back at the camera.
Mary Kelly: Scott, back to you.
A knock at the door causes Real Deal’s eyes to lift from his desk, as usual he’s sifting through a stack of papers.
Real Deal: One second!
He looks down at his phone and stands up, buttoning the bottom button of a well-fitted two-piece suit.
He walks over to the door leading to his office and opens it to find Sarah King, who looks diminutive by comparison, standing there. Real Deal looks down and then steps to the side, ushering Sarah in.
Real Deal: Thank you for coming Ms. King. I am glad you were able to make time for me on such short notice.
Sarah King nods, her usual caustic demeanor always seemingly melted away while in the SHOOT Project president’s presence.
Sarah King: Of course, sir.
Real Deal walks back over to his desk and picks up a bound stack of paper, holding them up for Sarah to see.
Real Deal: Well; I was able to make it happen. It took some strings but you’re headed to Europe, Ms. King.
Sarah looks up with a slight bit of shock in her eyes, but pleasant shock.
Sarah King: Where do I sign?
Sarah Almost instinctively reaches out for the stack of papers in Real Deal’s hand, but he retracts them.
Real Deal: No problem there, Ms. King; you see, when you signed your original contract with me, given your past … issues I made sure that the language included in there stated that your original signature was applicable for future signatures as it related to new ventures – at my discretion. But, as a former lawyer I assume you have no problem with that since you did ultimately sign that contract, right?
Sarah squirms, not liking where this is headed.
Real Deal: Now, you provided me an interesting offer last week – wanting to be a talent scout of sorts in our European offshoot. And I did give that some thought, but to be frank Ms. King, your asking price is far too high for JUST a talent scout. And with your background? Your history? There’s so much more opportunity for you to make this transfer worthwhile.
Sarah King: So… what’s the catch?
Real Deal smiles, finally handing Sarah King the stack of papers with a clear, bold cover page that reads: “TALENT CONTRACT”
Sarah’s expression drops.
Real Deal: There’s no catch, Sarah. Starting, effective immediately, you are a member of the Masterpiece Pro Wrestling roster.
Sarah stands up to protest, but Real Deal waves his finger.
Real Deal: My decision is final, Sarah. I know you know how to handle yourself the ring… and your name will mean a lot over there to old school fans. Plus…
Real Deal leans in, continuing in almost a whisper.
Real Deal: I know you’ve been digging into the history of one of my talents there, Sarah, and I don’t take kindly to being bullshitted. You want to find out what’s going on with Daihm Ferguson? Ask him your damned self.
Real Deal pulls back and looks at Sarah King, whose face is as white as a sheet, gripping the contract in her hand.
Real Deal: Now, unless you have any other business here, I’ll have to ask you to leave.
Sarah stiffly stands up, nodding, and slowly walking towards the door, trying to process the information.
Real Deal: Oh, and Sarah…
Sarah turns back, anger now creeping into her look of shock.
Real Deal: Your flight leaves tomorrow… I’d let Ayumi know you won’t be there for her first main event match. I’ll let you figure out how to break the news.
Sarah’s face contorts into a mix of shock, anger, frustration, and acceptance. She grudgingly nods and whispers on her way out…
Sarah King: Thank you… sir…
Haskell Payne Vs. NC-17 (c)
The camera cuts to the backstage area where the former Two-Time Shut Up and FIGHT Champion, Courtney Hatchett, is seated against a wall in the production area. Adorned in a black and white pair of Under Armour shorts, a purple, white and black Ruination tank top, a pair of baby-blue Beats Solo 3’s fitted over her head, and her hair tied back in a ponytail, SHOOT Project’s very own Goddess of Shut Up and FIGHT sits stoically, if not somewhat wistfully, listening to a playlist she put together on Spotify.
Just as Maria Brink is about to scream in part of the song “Big Bad Wolf”, someone walks up to her. Looking up, Courtney scoffs as the camera widens, revealing it to be Judy-E DeMitri. Courtney lowers the left side of the headphones so she could hear and converse with her.
Courtney Hatchett: Hey.
Judy-E waves a lil, dusting herself off. Wearing a simple black tank-top with an indecipherable black metal band name scrawled along in its dirty white print, and a pair of blue denim shorts, with almost-too-big looking combat boots. She runs her hand through her platinum undercut.
Judy-E DeMitri: You doin’ okay? I know it’s been…rough, the last couple of weeks. For both of us, honestly.
Courtney heaves a half-hearted chuckle before answering.
Courtney Hatchett: I guess. Sorry if I seem standoffish at all. I’m just… I don’t know what’s going on with me right now. I’ve lost the title before under worse circumstances, so it shouldn’t bother me so much that NC-17 pulled it off against me. But, if I’m being honest? It really does.
She sighs, while lowering the volume on her iPhone. Leaning forward with her forearms resting on her knees, Courtney pulls a cold, wet towel that she has resting on her exposed knee up onto her shoulders. The cool sensation of the sopping wet towel sends goosebumps up her arms.
Courtney Hatchett: Maybe I’m just a sore loser? Then again, I look around SHOOT and see a lot of these boys acting like fools and it puts the whole “sore loser” thing into perspective. Anyway. I’m rambling about my own problems. I know you’ve had some tough losses as well.
Just for a second, Judy-E lets a scowl cross her face, thinking about her championship match with Nate. She shakes her head.
Judy-E DeMitri: Call me a sore loser, call me angry, irrational. I don’t care. I have an opportunity to push out of my fathers shadow, and I have an opportunity to beat one of the most dangerous SHOOT Project Heavyweight Champions of all time. Just because he caught me one time…doesn’t mean he…I…hell you’re right. This stuff’s gotten so much into my own head that sometimes I have a hard time seeing all of the nonsense going on around me. I’m sick of being the humble young talent. I want us to stand out.
Courtney’s eyes tell the story of a woman who is thinking long and hard about the state of things.
Courtney Hatchett: I hear ya, for sure. Nate is beatable, though. He just caught us, is all. I know you’ll see those holes in his game the next time you face him. Same can be said for me. Same as anyone who is as good as we are and suffers a loss to someone we know can be beaten.
Courtney pauses for a moment, chuckling. Her mind races in every direction.
Courtney Hatchett: Gosh. You know, I always knew I wanted to end up here when I pursued my dreams of becoming a pro-wrestler. I always knew the competition would be rough, too. But… this rough? I don’t know. I guess I needed a little humbling to “mind my surroundings”. One thing I do know, one-hundred percent, is that I need to find a way out of this funk.
Judy-E nods empathetically, thinking back to her own recent couple of matches a moment.
Judy-E DeMitri: Humbling is overrated, we need to kick a little ass.. Coming up just short in a few title matches myself, I know what it’s like to be frustrated here. Plus, you have a bunch of assholes running around here like it’s a villain-of-the-hour free-for-all. That definitely can’t be helping your vibes right now.
Thumbing through her playlist, Courtney puffs her cheeks out and nods, slowly letting the air out of them.
Courtney Hatchett: You could say that again, Judy. Y’know, it’s true what they say: chivalry IS dead. At least, in SHOOT it is. As long as guys like the Proper Villainz, The Unholy Breedlove Empire, and whatever the hell other nastiness that’s in the pipeline ready to surface here are running around unchecked? Then the measure of respect and valor this place once held everyone else to has become utterly lost. Plain and simple.
Courtney sighs, lamenting over what once was. She goes to look down when suddenly Judy-E’s eyes light up like a light bulb just went off in her head.
Judy-E DeMitri: Courtney! You just… oh my God! That’s perfect.
Courtney throws a look of confusion at Judy-E.
Courtney Hatchett: Say what?
Judy-E DeMitri: VALOR. I… really think you’re onto something here. Come on. You need to be a part of this. There aren’t many souls on this roster who command the kind of out and out respect that you do.
Courtney smiles, clearly touched from the kind words.
Courtney Hatchett: That’s probably the sweetest, nicest, most badass thing anyone has ever said to me in SHOOT.
The Goddess of Shut Up and FIGHT crosses her feet in front of her and rises up to a standing position. The towel on her neck nearly falls but she catches it with catlike reflexes only to toss it into the community laundry receptacle next to her. Lowering her noise canceling headphones down so that they cradle her neck, Courtney nods.
Courtney Hatchett: Alright. Ya sold me, Judy. It’s time I got out of this funk I’ve been in and did something about my future here.
Judy-E raises her eyebrows.
Judy-E DeMitri: You mean..?
Courtney nods with a smile.
Courtney Hatchett: I’m in. VALOR sounds like a concept SHOOT has been long in need of. Time to show these punks running amuck here a thing or two about it.
Judy-E slaps Courtney on the back jovially, smiling brightly before reaching behind her, and slowly donning her black and silver mask, her hands smoothing over the bright red mohawk atop it. Her smile turns to a grin and her eyes grow steely.
NEMESIS: A fitting sentiment. You and I are more on the same page than you know, Courtney. VALOR is going to be EXACTLY what SHOOT Project needs!
Security guards are racing through the backstage area, all collecting around the intersection of two hallways. The camera splits the crowd to reveal Dan Stein on top of a bloodied Obsidian, absolutely laying into him with elbows and punches. The security guards attempt to pull Stein off, but Dan’s rage allows him to shove them away easily, returning to rain down blows on the massive man he’s mounted. Obsidian has a massive gash just above his left eye, and the eye is swollen shut. Dan swings a heavy fist down, cracking Obsidian open on the forehead.
Dan Stein: Where…
Dan Stein: …is…
Another elbow, this time sending blood spattering across the wall next to him.
Dan Stein: …she?!
Dan reaches down and grabs the Louisville Slugger next to the Iron Fist Championship and stands up, swinging the baseball bat back and down to Obsidian’s ribs, audible cracking can be heard. As Obsidian rolls out of pain, Dan kicks him in the side to stop him.
Dan brings the bat down on Obsidian once more, causing Obsidian to cry out. The monster is laid low, trying to breathe. Blood splattered across his beard.
Obsidian: Give me…a chance…to…
Dan Stein: To WHAT?! To lie?! To manipulate me?
He stomps on Obsidian’s chest, pinning him down.
Dan Stein: What about Molly? HUH?! Did you give HER a chance?
As Dan swings the baseball bat back once again, Obsidian spits through the blood covering his face. Weakly, Obsidian puts a hand up. Stein looks down at Obsidian, baseball bat still cocked.
Obsidian: Dan…I need…I…
He collects his thoughts.
Obsidian: I will…tell…
His words are barely audible. Stein twists the bat in his hands, gripping harder. Again, Obsidian spits.
Obsidian: I will tell you.
Obsidian rolls to the side, letting the blood pour from his face to the ground. He looks up at Stein through his crimson mask.
Dan Stein: Don’t lie to me, old man.
For the first time, Obsidian’s eyes grow wide. Not from pain. Not from fear. From weakness.
Obsidian: No lies.
Dan looks down at Obsidian and grips the bat again. He debates swinging it down again…but drops the bat behind him. Security rushes over and grabs the baseball bat away from him, then rushes between the two men. Obsidian grabs one of the security guards by the pant leg and moves him out of the way, clearing a space for Obsidian to look at Dan. Obsidian puts a bloody hand up for Dan. Dan exhales deeply before reaching his own bruising, bloody, knuckle exposed hand down, and pulls Obsidian up to a seated position.
Dan Stein: Damn it.
Dan squats down, grabs the Iron Fist Championship, then grabs Obsidian’s arm and throws it over his own shoulders, pulling the injured Obsidian up to his feet. Despite every piece of him wanting to leave the beast broken and defeated, he knows a few cheap shots with a bat won’t be enough and eventually the darkness will return. But for now, Obsidian is quiet and Erick the man inside is there. Erick drags his left leg as the two men walk through the security guards, causing them to split.
Lindsay Troy Vs. X-Calibur
Moments after the bell sounds, X-Calibur sits up with a smirk on his face. Nodding with respect at Lindsay Troy, X pushes himself the rest of the way up off of the mat. Rather than help her up as well, however, X turns his back and faces the entrance ramp.
Eryk Masters: What an incredible match between two titans of industry. A veritable fantasy match-up that has come to life, I’d say.
Other Guy: Without a doubt. Whether you love or hate either competitor, they both brought it tonight. Hats off to them.
Standing, covered in sweat, X motions for a microphone from the time keeper’s area. After a few moments, one is tossed in his direction.
X-Calibur: Good match, LT. Welcome to SHOOT Project. Now get the fuck out of my ring. A SHOOT Project Hall of Famer is about to speak his goddamn mind and he doesn’t need your ass, sweet though it is, distracting him from his message.
The fans boo mercilessly at these disrespectful words. The Former Two-Time SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion and RECORD SETTING Three-Time Iron Fist Champion, simply turns his back towards the Queen of the Ring. For a moment, it looks like LT is going to strike X for such a brazen display of dishonor to a fellow ring veteran like herself, but she simply smirks before rolling out of the ring.
The Iron God watches Lindsay Troy head up the ramp, ignoring her just as much as she is with him. Continuing, he directs each word and syllable to everyone in the locker room and in the Epicenter wholly.
X-Calibur: Understand something. I did what I did to Azraith and pulled the ole “OMG SWERVE~!” not because I wanted to. Nor was it done as some little nod and wink to bring some old Hierarchy faction member from ten years ago out of the woodwork and back into relevancy. I did what I did because I had to. There’s a stark difference there, folks. Want… versus need. Please, PLEASE understand this.
Pausing, he looks down at his own feet.
X-Calibur: So before you lay into me with your hatred and vitriol all across social media with your stupid ass TikTok videos and Spitter bullshit, I’m just gonna say this once: hate me if you want, but respect me you fucking will. So, if by the time the copyright pops up and you still don’t like what I have to say? Then fuck it. Have at it. Flame me to your heart’s desire. Each and every one of you can cry into your collective pillows about it for all I fuckin’ care. But until then? Shut the fuck up and listen.
The crowd senses the air of entitlement about X-Calibur and boos him. A few old school “asshole” chants break out, but he pivots from their derision into what he has to say.
X-Calibur: At this time… I’d like to call the Proper Villainz out to the ring. Everyone from Victor Thane all the way down to the bottom of the barrel with the Angsty Purple Fox. All of you… get your asses out here right now. I’ll wait.
Turning his back to the entrance, X looks up at the lights and closes his eyes, waiting for the music to hit.
Eryk Masters: What the hell is going on, OG?
Other Guy: Your guess is as good as mine.
“Devil Inside” by INXS kicks in and so do the boos. Out from the back first is Mr. Ben Bronson, clapping proudly and happily. The grin on his face is wide and the happiness is palpable. He motions to the back a la Vanna White and out steps Kintaro, followed by RAIKO. Both of them have the SHOOT Project Triad Championships around their waists. Kintaro is all smiles while RAIKO glares dead ahead, ready at a moment’s notice to tear heads off.
Other Guy: Bronson’s really proud tonight. You can tell. He has that Second Ever REIGN Champion glow about him.
After the three of them comes Mike and Dave of the Bone Brigade. The two of them are given a bit of a pop and they nod their heads at the fans. They turn to the entrance as out next is none other than Kitsune. The fans cheer rather loudly for him as the camera shifts to the ring, where we see Bronson already in the ring with a grin and still clapping for X-Calibur.
Eryk Masters: Ever since the Battalion ruling came into effect and Real Deal wanted people to find allies, Victor Thane has probably been the most successful. I mean, look at this collection. RAIKO, Kitsune, Kintaro, the Bone Brigade, X-Calibur even. The Proper Villainz have sneakily become one of the most powerful forces in SHOOT Project, OG.
Other Guy: I notice you didn’t mention Mr. Ben Bronson. The Record Setter. The Trend Setter. The Dream Supreme.
Eryk Masters: Who?
Lastly from the back comes Victor Thane himself. He has the Triad Championship on his shoulder as he is dressed in an all black suit with a blood red kerchief in the coat pocket. He smiles a proud little smile as he takes the rear of his force. Noticeably absent is Fuego Eterno, however. As “Devil Inside” fades out, X makes a beeline for Kitsune.
X-Calibur: You got something to say to me now, boy?! Huh, you byproduct of incest and dwarfism?!
Kitsune looks taken aback by this and the crowd actually boos this bullying behavior.
X-Calibur: Uh huh. Heh. You’re all full of piss and vinegar with my name at the tip of your tongue when I’m not in the fuckin’ room, but here I am and there you stand like a deer in the goddamn headlights. Fuck you. You can shut the fuck up before I rip that dumb little fuckin’ mask off your stupid little fuckin’ head and pull your spine out through your fuckin’ nose.
Kitsune goes to say something, but X puts a finger up.
X-Calibur: NOPE. You don’t get to say a fuckin’ word. You had your say. Now I’ll have mine. And you two fucks over there fuckin’ side-eyein’ me?!
He motions towards the Bone Brigade.
X-Calibur: When I’m done pulling this motherfucker’s spine out? I’ll come over there and attach your mouths to each other’s asses and make the first ever Human SHOOTipede right here, right now. So I’ll say it again, you can shut the fuck up. We’ve got BUSINESS to conduct here that’s, quite frankly, above ALL your pay grades. But since all of you are actually in this thing with me? Since WE’RE technically all in this fuckin’ thing together like some kind of super faction or something? I wanted you out here regardless. Thank me later. You’ll get a “ur welcome” when and fuckin’ IF I fuckin’ feel like giving one.
Kitsune and Bone Brigade all look at each other incredulously as if they cannot believe they just got berated by X-Calibur in front of the world. Victor Thane tries to ease tensions as he signals for them to “simmer down” and “hear him out”.
X-Calibur: Now then… on to new business. You see this man? You see Victor Thane?
The crowd boos Victor immediately who simply smiles and laughs to himself.
X-Calibur: As much as I could just drive this guy’s neck into the ground? Or snap his fuckin’ arm off his fuckin’ shoulder? It doesn’t matter what I could do to him because this man truly RESPECTS me. To me, that trumps my own dislikes and issues with someone. This man RESPECTS me so much that he actually went out of his fuckin’ way to try and recruit me into this thing of ours. He went above and beyond the call of duty in perfecting an army that’s needed to keep us at the top of SHOOT. He did this… by using the single most important weapon in the entire world.
X pauses and lowers his head, mindlessly rapping the microphone against his temple as he thinks about his next word.
Looking back up, he now faces the camera.
X-Calibur: You see… turns out my daughter, Esper, isn’t the only seed I’ve sprouted in this cruel and twisted world of ours.
Eryk Masters: What?!
Other Guy: Holy bombshells, Batman. What the…
The crowd falls into a hushed silence, holding on to every word now.
X-Calibur: Oh! Got your attention now, did I? Good. ‘Cause what I’m about to reveal is going to turn this place on its fuckin’ head. I mean, if I’m being real with y’all? I nearly retired for good when Victor found this information out. No lie. It just… it shattered my world into a million little bloody pieces. But after some time, I’ve learned to accept it. In fact, I’ve even begun to embrace it.
You see, it happened twenty-seven years ago. I had a son without even knowing it.
For twenty-seven years, I’ve walked this Earth… wanting… begging for a son to carry on the Van Warren legacy. When, as it turns out?
I already had one.
X-Calibur lifts his arm and points it in the direction of the entrance ramp.
X-Calibur: Ladies and gentlemen, the newest member of the Proper Villainz… my SON.
The SON of an Iron GOD.
The Hand of Calamity.
There’s a loud, collective GASP that echoes throughout the arena.
“Danse Macabre” by Saint-Saens hits and Arthur Pleasant saunters out to the ring wearing a black suit and purple tie.
Eryk Masters: NO. This… this can’t be happening. This fucking scumbag is the SON of a Hall of Famer?! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!
Other Guy: …wow. What the… WOW. Now I kind of get the picture as to why he hasn’t been seen or heard from since Iron Will.
Eryk Masters: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!
Arthur Pleasant’s hair has grown-in a bit, though shortened in length, covering up some “bear-claw” looking scars that are just visible on his temple that was previously scarred tremendously with an “X”.
Eryk Masters: Holy fucking shit. You’re telling me all this time… Arthur Pleasant is actually… Arthur Van Warren?!?!?
Other Guy: I don’t even know what to say here. How the… man. WOOOOOW. This is NOT. GOOD. I fear for the future of SHOOT Project if this son of a bitch, this spawn of sheer evil, is marching hand in hand to war with the Proper Villainz.
Eryk Masters: What have you done, Victor?! What in the HELL… have you… done?
Arthur slithers into the ring under the bottom rope. Looking uneasy about what he just revealed to the world, X-Calibur simply stands there with Victor eagerly awaiting “the moment” by X’s side. The Hand of Calamity rises to his feet as the rest of the Proper Villainz look as stunned as the people sitting back in their seats do. Bronson dabs tears from his eyes in elation for this heart chilling moment.
Arthur immediately hugs X-Calibur.
X just stands there for a moment with Arthur’s arms wrapped around him… before reciprocating an embrace back to his son.
Arthur drops to his knees and, for a moment, hugs his Dad’s left leg. He then turns toward the camera, cocking his head slightly as he positions his legs onto the canvas “indian style”.
The Iron God, meanwhile, stands behind his son for the photo-op of a lifetime as Victor Thane pats Arthur on his shoulder and raises X-Calibur’s arm in triumph while the Proper Villainz look on in disbelief.