The crowd is a mixture of apathetic and irritated when “Bawitaba” Begins to play over the PA system. Chadwick Kyle emerges from behind the curtain and the fans begin to boo. Several fans on the entrance ramp turn their back to Kyle as he makes his way down the ramp. He climbs into the ring and grabs a microphone.
The Chadster: All right all right! Lets get it all those in the Republic of Chad! That’s what I like to see! Unfortunately the Chadster is here tonight on some pretty sad business.
The booing continues.
The Chadster: Believe me I know. I wish I could come out here and party with you before my Big Tag Team Title bout with the Untalented Cyber Assholes. I do. But there’s an elephant in the room that I have to address. And that elephant is…Lindsay Troy.
Several people int he audience have begun to leave their seats to make their way to the bathroom and to the concession stand.
The Chadster: I get it! Lindsay Troy and the rest of Valor makes me want to get up and leave the room too. I feel you out there my fellow republicans of Chad. Now I knew that Valor had it out for The Ole Chadster. I knew that they wanted to shut me up more than anything. What I didnt know was the lengths that they would go to in order to Assassinate my good name.
He begins to pace back and forth in the ring.
The Chadster: I cant imagine anything so low. How intimidated by me must Valor be to stoop to paying women to claim that they dont enjoy my text messages and Spitter exchanges? Can you imagine just how much money it would take to turn some of your fellow republicans against their democratically elected Captain and Emperor? To that end. I have a challenge. Right here, right now. Lindsay Troy. Get down here, get in this ring, and face me. You’ve got a lot to answer for and you’re going to do it tonight.
Chad drops the mic and leans against the turnbuckle. The few fans that have remained in their seats through this are looking anxiously towards the entrance ramp. Hoping that someone…anyone will end this. After ten seconds that feels far more like ten minutes, Chad picks the microphone up.
The Chadster: Count it to ten, boys. She’s not coming out here? That’s fine. I’m 1-0 against Lindsay Troy! The undefeated streak keeps on coming. I call that vindication! Hit The Chadster’s music! I’m outta here!
As “Bawitaba” comes back over the PA system the fans begin to start filing back into the arena, safely assuming that this is finally coming to a close. Chad makes his way back down the ramp, trying to slap hands with a few people on the way down but not making contact as they turn their backs. Chad shrugs his shoulders, makes an apologetic gesture and mouths “I got it, six feet…six feet. Safety first and all” before going back behind the curtain.
KIMO Vs. NC-17 (c)
The lights in the SHOOT Project Epicenter go dark as a heavy metal riff hits and strobe lights begin flashing to the beat.
Your Butt Is Mine
Gonna Take You Right
Just Show Your Face
In Broad Daylight
I’m Giving You
On Count Of Three
To Show Your Stuff
Or Let It Be
Eryk Masters: Wait… what?
Other Guy: Who would choose this as entrance music?
Eryk Masters: No one with any sense, that’s for sure.
The opening lines of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” play on the SHOOT Epicenter speakers as a figure walks out from behind the stage and makes his way to the ramp. He’s wearing a shockingly-red tuxedo and black bow tie as he smiles broadly, taking his time to make his way to the ring – doing hand guns to everyone in the crowd as he happily hops into the ring.
The mystery man takes his glasses off and puts them in his suit jacket pocket, which barely manage to hold on to the sewn-on pockets. He takes the microphone and extends his arm out to the crowd enthusiastically.
Man: FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YOU LAS VEGAS!
Immediately. IMMEDIATELY. Boos rain down from the stands.
Eryk Masters: Oh Jesus.
Other Guy: What… the hell.
The man in the ring smiles broadly, strutting around to the chorus of boos.
Man: That’s right. Boo me. BOO ME. Because you know that in all your pathetic little lives you’ll never amount to HALF the man that I am. That’s right, FOOLS; you get the absolute pleasure of seeing Blaze Claymore IN. THE. FLESH.
Eryk Masters: Blaze who?
Other Guy: I’m Googling him now.
Blaze Claymore: And Las Vegas, let me tell you that in the few days I have been here, I can see why they call you Sin City. Everyone is greedy, gluttonous, wrathful, envious, lustful, prideful, and, dare I say, SLOTHY!
Eryk Masters: Slothy?
Other Guy: Forget it, he’s rolling.
The crowd boos, roaring even louder as Blaze turns and screams into the microphone.
Blaze Claymore: SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP YOU… YOU… VEG-ASSES.
Eryk Masters: Wicked burn.
Other Guy: Says here he was in something called Spooky Movie 6… and was uncredited in a straight-to-video Steven Segal movie. I have no idea who the fuck this guy is.
Blaze Claymore: Look. I didn’t come out here for your approval. I came out here because in the few days I’ve been here I’ve seen a lot of WEAK talent. No drive. No motivation. No CHARISMA. So I, SAG AWARD WINNER Blaze Claymore, am going to do what must be done.
Blaze smiles, broadly, as he confidently walks a circle around the ring and then dramatically points toward the back.
Blaze Claymore: KAYDEN PAULTON. I DEMAND YOU COME OUT HERE AND FACE ME.
The crowd roars – if not for Kayden Paulton, then for someone, anyone, to shut this guy up.
Eryk Masters: Why would this guy have a beef with Kayden Paulton? He has a match tonight anyways and besides, he’s like… literally the nicest guy on the roster.
Other Guy: Well… that may be THE reason, Eryk. It seems this… Blaze Claymore is trying really, really, hard to make the crowd hate him right now.
Eryk Masters: Well, I can’t say it isn’t working.
The crowd is already clapping and cheering.
“Walking on Sunshine” blares on the PA and the fans continue to cheer as Kayden Paulton strolls out with a genuine wave and heartfelt smile at the fans who welcome him. Paulton turns his attention to inside the ring at Blaze and gives him a wave, too. Blaze responds by crossing his arms and tapping his foot like Sonic the Hedgehog.
The Easy-Going Grappler walks down the rampway before rolling into the ring, his theme song coming to a close. Paulton is handed a microphone by the time keeper and thanks him, before asking how the time keeper’s wife and children are doing at home. The time keeper blushes, realizes he doesn’t want to take time away from the confrontation at hand.
Before Paulton can do anything else (like continue talking to the time keeper), Blaze claps his hands quickly to turn the attention back to him.
Kayden Paulton: Oh hey, man! It’s awesome to see you! Always good to see new talent in SHOOT! I’ve been out of action for a little while myself but it’s good to be back and see new faces!
Paulton’s smile beams from ear-to-ear. Blaze raises his own microphone to respond, but he’s cut off by Paulton’s unchecked optimism.
Kayden Paulton: I’m totally flattered you called me out here!
Paulton offers his hand to Blaze but Blaze slaps it away, drawing boos from the audience. Claymore tries to speak again but Paulton is so excited he can’t contain himself.
Kayden Paulton: Blaze Claymore, right? That’s a super swell name! Haha, Blaze, that’s so unique. You’ll stand out in SHOOT! Which is saying something because there’s so much amazing talent here!
Claymore is getting visibility frustrated and tension grows in the arena as it’s realized Kayden may not be in a safe environment right now. However, as he paces around the ring, Paulton remains oblivious.
Kayden Paulton: Hey Blaze, if you’d like, we could hit up a pizza place after the show. On me, no doubt about that! When I first moved to Vegas, I was lost but SHOOT and their fans were so welcoming. They say “Sin City” is bad but it’s awesome! So friendly! These people are the greatest! Anyway, I am doing way too much talking here, I’m sorry. You’re the attraction!
Paulton says this without a hint of sarcasm in his voice. The Easy-Going Grappler turns to the fans who try to get Paulton’s attention.
Eryk Masters: Watch out!
Kayden Paulton: Give it up for Bl-
Blaze Claymore takes a running jump and clocks Kayden Paulton in the head with his microphone, making a loud “THUNK” that reverberates around the arena. The attack doesn’t have much force as Paulton stumbles, still holding his microphone but now grabbing his head.
Kayden Paulton: Ah. OW! Sorry Blaze, I was in the way. Let me try this again… give it up-
This time Blaze just… suckerpunches Paulton in the face, dropping the most positive man in SHOOT Project to the mat HARD. Blaze winces from the punch, wringing his hand out while raising his microphone with the other.
Blaze Claymore: Don’t UPSTAGE me Paulton. That’s MY line. SHOOT Project! GIVE. IT. UP. FOR MEEEEEE, BLAZE CLAYMORE.
Blaze reaches down and grabs Kayden Paulton’s limp arm, raising it up and making it wave to the crowd, who sound ready to revolt.
Blaze Claymore: And let’s give Kayden Paulton a hand as well, shall we? Yay! Yay for mediocrity!
Blaze stands up and kicks the dazed Paulton, rolling him out of the ring and dropping him like a sack of potatoes in front of the kindly time keeper, who looks on horrified.
Blaze Claymore: And. Scene.
Blaze crosses an arm across his chest and takes a bow as “Bad” hits the speakers and he blows kisses to the audience, soaking in the vitriol coming back his way.
Other Guy: What the hell just happened, Eryk?
Eryk Masters: Kayden Paulton tried to welcome SHOOT Project’s newest hire and got a punch to the jaw for the trouble. I know revenge isn’t Kayden’s style, but damned if it isn’t going to be on the minds of a lot of fans here tonight. We’ve got SHOOT medical coming out to check on the status of Paulton, who is scheduled to face Justin Moreno in the next bout.
Other Guy: Well, after getting SUCKERPUNCHED like that, he may not be able to compete and word is that Justin Moreno would receive a forfeit win as a result. That’s a really shitty way to lose a match, if you ask me.
Eryk Masters: And it looks like that’s been confirmed, the fans letting the world know that they do not approve. Kayden Paulton has been deemed medically unfit to compete against Moreno in Moreno’s in-ring debut, and THAT is a bummer. We umm… hmm. We have a vignette from the former World Heavyweight Champion, Nate Robideau, as medical works to escort Paulton from the ring. Hopefully he’s okay.
Interior Shot: Blackhawk Fight Gym.
We can only barely hear the audio from inside. Nate Robideau stalks the floor, arms crossed, face still bearing some lumps from taking more than a few shots from Judy-E Demitri. The new champion. NEMESIS herself. He’s wearing a loose T Shirt and Muay Thai shorts in some garish combination of green and pink. He’s barking orders. His students listen.
There are, notably, almost double the amount he had last time. That means only seven, but still.
When he speaks, it’s a voiceover. His deep voice speaking in a ponderous, conversational manner.
“What’s freedom, really?”
The Nate on Screen walks one of his students through passing to full guard. He illustrates how something as simple as dropping your shoulder can make the pass impossible. Indicates with his hands, kneeling on the mat: the most minute adjustments can mean all the difference.
“See, Judy-E DeMitri walloped me. No arguments, no excuses–definitive. I lost.”
He rolls to his feet. Claps his hands. They go to it, gauntlet style against one boy. Takedon, guard, submission. Takedown, guard, submission. When that one has faced the other six, it’s a new students turn to face them one after the other.
“I lost. Do you know how much freedom I feel saying that? I was scared to admit this at first. It’s not how a warrior at the highest level is ‘supposed’ to feel. I’m supposed to feel rage, to pursue revenge, to hate and train and become all the more primed and ready so that I can win back that title belt.”
He nods and yells out something encouraging after the last takedown. Claps this student on the shoulder and helps him up. The smallest of them, he nonetheless possesses a fluidity that the others plainly don’t have.
“And hell…I might end up doing that, one day. I have a long list of people who are owed one. Buck, Butcher, her. These challenges and open ‘somedays’ pile up like gravedirt.”
Looking at the clock on the wall, Nate calls them all to attention. They line up, arms in front, standing like soldiers at the ready. He says a few more muffled words. Then he goes down the line, giving handshakes to each.
“But for right now? I’m free.”
As the students begin to joke with one another, some taking the opportunity to free roll, the camera follows Nate into his office. He cracks open his fridge, pulls out a bottle of water. He takes a long pull, staring at the 4 foot tall table to the left of his desk. Surrounded by photos of his accomplishments and press shots of him holding the belt. It’s empty. His gaze stays there. Falters. He looks away.
“Right now I’m free to do whatever. To focus on whatever. Whoever.”
Padding over to the door of his office, he watches his students gather their things. Bookbags and duffels, heading off into the evening. Maybe they have school tomorrow, maybe not. He smiles at this, taking another sip of water as the door bells rings and the hydraulics catch before the door settles into closed.
“None of you all will know if you’re the object of my focus. Hell, I don’t even know what’s going to demand my time anymore. I put every ounce of who I was into holding that belt and I still ended up a lame duck. Doesn’t mean I won’t hold it again. Or the Iron Fist belt. Or any belt. But no matter what, when I wake up and decide what that day has for me, believe one thing.”
Finishing his water, he walks over to the heavy bag. Lays in a few halfhearted strikes, just warming his shoulders up.
“I’ll be ready. Physically, mentally, emotionally. I’ll be ready. More ready than I have been before.”
Nate gets one stutter step backwards, then launches himself high with a knee strike–so hard that the bag sways backwards. He catches it as it swings towards him, grinning. He takes a moment, adopting his hybrid Thai Boxing stance, looking as if he’s about to do bagwork until three in the morning again. After a moment, he shakes his head. He gathers his phone and his sandals. Without even a glance back, he leaves, cutting the lights and leaving us with a black screen. But his voice has one more thing to say.
“Do you think you’ll be able to say the same?”
Jamie Johnson Vs. C.K. Butcher
We cut to the backstage area and we see, sitting on some of the boxes for production, the “All-American Outlaw” Buck Dresden. He sits very still, his hands on his knees and his head bowed. His hair is getting a little bit longer now, hanging precariously from his head. He wears his old BAB biker vest which is still standing the test of time though the age is beginning to fray its edges. On his shirt he has the BAB Skull flanked by the name “BUCK” drawn out and emblazoned like steel eagle’s wings.
Buck: Ya know I don’t ask for much.
He slowly looks up at the camera.
Buck: The love of my woman and my dog, the taste of a hot meal and a cold drink, the ability to lay my head down at night knowin’ I gave 110% each an’ every single damn day to earn what I have see THAT’S…
He chuckles, keeping his seething rage down.
Buck: …that’s the American Dream I live by. See, when I put on this vest or I hear my music an’ I go out there I see the fans an’ they see me an’ we all know we enter a covenant together. A bond. Man, let me tell you, that bond is unbreakable. Even when we want to break we still stand tall an’ get ready for the fight.
He stops himself.
Buck: The fight. See, that’s funny. The fight is a…funny thing. See, I lost the World Championship in a match that changed everything about me. Changed who I was, what I thought, how I thought, how I processed grief because let me be very honest with you, who I was an’ who I am are different now. I sat back on my ass and I looked at Nate Robideau and all the fears, all the anxieties, all the worries came at me at once. Was I a good champion? Did I represent this company right? Was CK Butcher, CJH, X-Calibur, all these marquee legendary names or frightening monsters…was that a strong resume?
He laughs a small, nervous laugh.
Buck: Fact is it doesn’t matter what I was, all that matters is who I am. The one person you gotta be better than is who you were yesterday and yesterday I was worried about things that might never come true and the fear of fairy tales ain’t gonna move the needles in my life. At Conquest, I defeated Arthur Pleasant. It’s hard to look at who I’ve been in the ring with and not see the similarities. Buck Dresden is a Monster Hunter, a Monster Slayer, a Monster Killer. So let’s keep slayin’, let’s keep killin’, let’s keep huntin’. NEMESIS. Congratulations. Congratulations to your much deserved win. NEMESIS, I told you I’m comin’ for you. I know you ain’t gonna back down from a fight an’ I respect that. But I will stand back for so long before things get a little bit…aggressive.
He holds his hands up to stop things from progressing further down that road.
Buck: Now, no…not a threat. I approach things like a gentleman. But, hey, please understand that I’m antsy. I’m anxious. I’m ready to get in there and force my way in. I know you love a good fight, so do I. Just know that when the time comes, I’ll do everything I can to get that belt back. If I have to knock years off your life and mine…I will. If I have to make it so we can’t walk the same way…I will. I face monsters, I hunt monsters, and I slay monsters. I’ll let you enjoy your time a little bit longer, Judy. There are always monsters out there to kill.
Buck: I guess it comes down to what…and who…you consider a monster.
He hops down from the box and walks away from the scene, leaving the camera to ponder those final words.