Table of Contents
As the SHOOT Project logo goes up in smoke, we cut to a time lapse of the Las Vegas skyline fading from the bright, sunlit day to the dark sky of night, the neon lights blazing over the landscape. There’s an almost eerie sound of silence to it. The lights cut out as if someone threw a switch, plunging everything into darkness. And then, very abruptly…
I got, I got, I got, I got
Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA
Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA” slaps through the stream as neon lights flare into the form of Joshua Breedlove standing in all his glory, hoisting the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship high above his head as the camera pans around him in a full 360° view.
Cocaine quarter piece, got war and peace inside my DNA
The Unholy Cyber Army burst into existence in a shower of neon sparks, raising their World Tag Team Championships high and bellowing silently into the darkness.
I got power, poison, pain and joy inside my DNA
I got hustle though, ambition, flow inside my DNA
A burst of multicolored neon explodes into Pat Cassidy holding the Sin City Championship high in the air, pure joy on his face mixed with exhaustion.
I was born like this, since one like this, immaculate conception
I transform like this, perform like this, was Yeshua new weapon
Streaks of gold fly across the screen, converging and morphing into the form of Lexi Gold with the Shut Up and Fight Championship clasped firmly around her waist.
I don’t contemplate, I meditate, then off your fucking head
This that put-the-kids-to-bed
Several rapid flashes of multicolored neon herald the arrival of Buck Dresden, the Iron Fist Championship draped over his shoulder. The scene lightens and darkens in a steadily pulsing manner as Buck offers silent challenge to all comers.
This that I got, I got, I got, I got
Realness, I just kill shit ’cause it’s in my DNA
Jamie Johnson burst into the scene in a flash of blue light.
I got millions, I got riches buildin’ in my DNA
Cal Crawford burst forth in a red, white, and blue bomb of neon sparks.
I got dark, I got evil, that rot inside my DNA
I got off, I got troublesome heart inside my DNA
The darkness itself seems to coalesce into the form of Void. Blight and Fade appear beside him for a moment before all three disappear into whisps of smoke. A flash of red light flares up and Jacob Mephisto stands where they previously stood, flanked by The Montgomery Twins.
I just win again, then win again like Wimbledon, I serve
A spotlight flashes and Nate Robideau bursts into the scene, throwing a nasty looking knee before fading out and a burst of neon green light reveals Josh Conway pointing out into the distance.
Yeah, that’s him again, the sound that engine in is like a bird
A shower of sparks forms into IAM, looking up with a face full of determination before two streaks of red light form an X as X-Calibur pops into the scene throwing a roaring elbow.
You see fireworks and Corvette tire skrrt the boulevard
Ayumi Seppuku springs into existence in an explosion of golden light before another burst of color produces Go Gensai.
I know how you work, I know just who you are
A shower of multicolored sparks births the form of NEMESIS, her mask being pulled down over her face.
See, my pedigree most definitely don’t tolerate the front
Shit I’ve been through prolly offend you, this is Paula’s oldest son
Three neon skulls form from smoke as the Broguns form, holding the Battalion Championships up for all to see.
I know murder, conviction, burners, boosters
Burglars, ballers, dead, redemption
Scholars, fathers dead with kids and
I wish I was fed forgiveness
Several flashes of all different colors and shades of neon take over the screen as we see flashes of every SHOOT Project Soldier along with flashes of the word “ApeX” interspersed.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, soldier’s DNA
Neon purple streaks across the screen and forms into the Ruination logo…
Not Just Here For A Paycheck...
We turn our attention to a view of the parking lot arena. Everything seemed quiet and normal, then that changed when the sound of a motorcycle coming from the distance is heard. The covered figure who is decked out in a full leather jumpsuit turns off the engine and climbs off the bike, then removes their helmet to reveal the identity of the person. It is revealed to be the New Shut up and Fight Champion Lexi Gold.
She stops to fix her blonde hair before grabbing the belt that is resting on the bike, throwing it over her shoulder with a smile on her face as she proceeds to make her way inside the building.
Dr. Pontificus Kensington, UBE Spokesperson: Good evening, Ms. Gold. It’s my pleasure for you to make our acquaintance! If you’re unaware, I’m Dr. Pontificus Kensington, and I am the spokesperson for the Unholy Breedlove Empire. We’re the group that backs El Paria, your opponent tonight.
Kensington is flanked by Muratagi Hanzo and Cromwell Yarbury, the UBE’s non-Cyber Roppongi tag team, but El Paria is not present.
Dr. Pontificus Kensington, UBE Spokesperson: You’ll notice of course that El Paria is not with us at the moment, but we did want to pass along a message to you on his behalf. You see, Mr. Paria is a once in a lifetime talent. You’ll notice that even in his loss to Trashcan Tim, he managed to be very impressive, and he displayed a level of talent that goes well beyond his 18 years of life.
Dr. Kensington smiles, smugly, at eye level with the SHOOT Project’s Shut Up and Fight Champion. He fixes his eyes on her championship and cocks his head.
Dr. Kensington, UBE Spokesperson: We wish to express our gratitude for this matchup, Ms. Gold. El Paria is young, and winning a championship, should he be victorious against you, would make him one of the youngest champions in SHOOT Project history. Quite the accolade. You’ll have to forgive us if things get a little rough in the ring, but we’ve been instructed by our emperor, the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion, that you are hands-off and that El Paria must show his own grit and talent if he hopes to be victorious tonight.
Lexi smirks at his choice of words before finally speaking.
Lexi Gold: He would have to pry it out of my hands in order for this championship to be removed from me, because I don’t plan to have this precious thing released into the wrong hands. This belt means the world to me, and tonight I’ll showcase that. It is a shame Paria could not be here at this moment.
Dr. Kensington chuckles, pondering what Ms. Gold said.
Dr. Kensington, UBE Spokesperson: Well, perhaps he’ll get that opportunity. You know, to pry it out of your hands. I suppose we’ll see, won’t we?
Lexi Gold: I guess we shall. This will be my second-biggest match here in SHOOT Project, and I’m not only planning on bringing the fire, but also plan on bringing another W to my column as I continue to welcome new and old challenges with no problem. I will not allow myself to sit around and just collect paychecks every week. I rather work my way up. I hope that can be said about my opponent.
Dr. Kensington, UBE Spokesperson: Well, that is absolutely adorable. You sure are plucky, aren’t you? Hanzo, Cromwell… let’s go find El Paria and let him know about just how game Ms. Gold is for this matchup. He’ll be glad to hear, I’m sure.
Dutch Harris: Well, well, folks. The UBE is looking to add some more championships to their roster and the champ herself, Lexi Gold, is not going to let that happen so easily.
Scott Kamura: You know, that’s right, Dutch. That matchup is just a little bit later this evening. Should be a VERY interesting one, to say the least.
Lexi wishes luck before turning on her heel and strutting away, grasping the title on her shoulder with a smile on her face.
SAIGO Vs. The Pop Punks
Keiji and Daiichi come to their feet, breathing heavy and exhausted after a grueling match with the Pop Punks.
Dutch Harris: I’ll tell you what, these two teams are going to be serious contenders in the tag team division.
Scott Kamura: No doubt about it, Dutch. They put on a great- OH! What the?!
Keiji and Daiichi are absolutely BLINDSIDED out of nowhere by Patience and Decius Montgomery! The Twins immediately begin putting the boots to the members of SAIGO as the crowd unleashes a torrent of boos.
Dutch Harris: Where did they even come from? Jacob Mephisto’s creepy kids are laying waste to SAIGO here! But why?
Scott Kamura: Well the last time we saw these two, they were talking about making an impact. They’re doing that tonight!
Keiji and Daiichi are too exhausted to manage much in the way of defense; and The Twins continue to stomp away. Patience violently rips herself away from Keiji, clutching at her own black and red hair. Decius leaps into the air and double stomps down across Daiichi’s chest before moving over and dragging Keiji into the corner. He slides out of the ring, holding him in place.
Dutch Harris: I don’t like how this looks!
Patience unleashes an ear-piercing scream and charges forward, jumping into the air and DRIVES her feet into the face of Keiji!
Scott Kamura: Shotgun dropkick! She calls that “Father’s Approval,” or so I’ve been told.
Keiji is on dream street, and the Twins turn to stalk Daiichi, who is dragging himself to his feet using the ropes, preparing to fight.
Dutch Harris: Oh man, get out of there!
Patience buries a knee to Daiichi’s lower back and sends him into Decius, who pops him up and brings him down with a high lifting sit out spinebuster!
Scott Kamura: Oh! Decius just planted Daiichi with that spinebuster he calls “Tough Love.”
The Twins pop to their feet, looking down at SAIGO.
Dutch Harris: And look who’s arrived, Kamura.
On the entrance stage, Jacob Mephisto has walked out, The Rooster and KHARRION in tow. Mephisto is smiling and clapping. He motions for the Twins to join him and the pair doesn’t hesitate.
Scott Kamura: That whole group of individuals is just plain creepy. Still though, I don’t know if The Twins bit off more than they can chew in provoking Keiji and Daiichi like that tonight!
El Paria Vs. Lexi Gold (c)
The Failings of Nothing and the Love of Everything
The camera fades in on Void sitting alone, his hair cascading over his masked face. He sighs as he lifts his head to the camera. He sits in the bowels of the Epicenter and while he slowly rocks back and forth his body disappears and reappears into the shadows around him.
Void: Six points.
He locks eyes with the camera.
Void: Six points means I’ve been able to defeat two fucking people.
He holds one finger up.
Void: One, a fucking run of the mill wannabe Japanese nut.
He holds a second finger up.
Void: The other, an actual formidable opponent. I don’t like the guy, but he’s at least a worthy opponent.
He chuckles derisively.
Void: I should be at nine points. I should be at nine points but a big fucking goose egg is how I started my run in this tournament. I should be running this thing. I mean, take a look at this, dear viewers or readers or whatever the hell you are. Look at this. I am a submission marvel, am I not? I am a massive mass of humanity, capable of being a brawler with chokeslams and powerbombs and other bullshit but I took a different route. Use my giant tree trunk legs as grapevines. Arms like mighty alligators but use them like the constrictors they were born to be. See? So many things about me people weren’t ready for.
Void rolls his eyes, pulling his hair away from his face.
Void: But I face my hardest test, don’t I? A World Champion. A god of professional wrestling, MMA, whatever else he does. Nate Robideau. Blackhawk. You’re…well…I struggled this whole time to figure out exactly what I wanted to say to you and it just isn’t…it isn’t there for me.
Void: I’m not motivated for this. It breaks my heart. You see, Nate, I wanted to be Rule of Surrender Champion. Ayumi Seppuku is slowly walking away with our block, Nate, and all I think I’m going to do is…fail. Because, Nathan, all I think I do is fail.
Void: I have to get past you and Scion for the chance to even taste a chance at winning that Rule of Surrender Championship. It all…comes down…to this. My loss to start this whole thing has left me clawing for every thing I’ve gotten. But, you know the thing about that is, Nathan? A World Champion. The son of the goddamn owner of this place.
He shakes his head.
Void: The New Vanguard. The DeMitris. Iron Will. The Lights. This. Tell me what I have to do to make any of those a success? A victory? Oh, you may point to my accolade of villainy this company bestowed on me but they didn’t have the guts to give it straight out to me, they wanted to share it with that insipid Breedlove. Oh, and now? Now, Seppuku won’t leave me alone. Like a bully masquerading as a savior, Seppuku just keeps rubbing in that opening loss. This is my rapidly told story, Nathan. I don’t revel in it. I don’t weep for it. It just is what it is.
Void: You know what my failings do to me, Nathan? They give me life. They make me get up and try again. Save those that need saving. Build that which is destroyed. Construct things in my image and my vision. Do me a favor, Nathan. When we meet, don’t half ass this. Break me. Finish me. Kill me. Don’t leave any doubt. I’d hate to look back and think a roll up shocked me. I want to tap out. I want to be knocked out. I want your full fury because Nathan if I don’t get that, I’m not going to be very happy.
He looks back to the camera, a smile on his face.
Void: You bother me, Nathan. A cyst on my flesh that I can’t tell is benign or carcinoma. You’re there, you bring me concern, but I never want to know if you can kill me or not. The problem is I can’t wait for the fates to decide that for me. I have to cut you out. If not, who knows what you might do to me, right?
Again he pulls the hair from his face.
Void: Let me be beneath you, Nathan. Let me be your nothing. You, my friend? Oh, you are my everything. From bell to bell, you are the love of my life. The reason my heart beats. Come alive with me, Nathan. Feel the fire with me. The passion. You and I together for one single moment in time that won’t matter to some but will mean everything to me. I am your nothing, Nathan. I am beneath you.
Void: That is exactly where I want to be. I am pure, Nathan. I will be holy with you. Sacred with you. I will be your nothing. I will walk in, my six points, my failure, and my nothing. But I will come alive and I will love you, Nathan. I will love you greater than you’ve ever been loved. I will reach within you and feel you, taste you, suck you in and slide into you. I won’t disappear with you, my darling Nathan, but I will live in a brighter light of combat with you. We can part ways after it’s over, never see each other again, but from bell to bell?
He pauses once more.
Void: I will be your greatest love. I will be your…everything.
He leans back and fades completely into shadow.
Dan Stein Vs. Jacob Mephisto
Keeping It Real
Dutch Harris: We’re joined backstage at this time by the former member of the Unholy Breedlove Empire and the former REIGN Champion… KIMO.
The screen transitions to KIMO standing alone, no interviewer, in the backstage area against the wall of the Epicenter. The crowd doesn’t quite know how to react or respond to KIMO, but there are some cheers throughout the arena.
KIMO: I am going to keep this brief.
The camera zooms in, directly on KIMO’s face.
KIMO: At the ApeX, I am going to challenge Buck Dresden for the Iron Fist Championship. It’s going to be the fight of fights, and you know why? Because I NEED the fight. Ever since I left Mr. Breedlove, I have been on a journey, an adventure, if you will. To strike out on one’s own is a beautiful gift that I have given myself, and I recognize that there is a long road ahead to victory…
KIMO takes a deep, methodical breath.
KIMO: Understand this, Buck Dresden and the world of the SHOOT Project… KIMO will not rest, KIMO will not relent, KIMO will not surrender, and KIMO… will stand tall as the KING of the IRON FIST.
With no wasted motion, KIMO draws his hand across his throat in a cut motion and the scene returns to ringside, where Dutch Harris and Scott Kamura are waiting.
Dutch Harris: KIMO keeping his promise and keeping it brief. I can appreciate that.
Scott Kamura: I gotta wonder too, how much of this belief in himself does KIMO really have? Is this a bravado situation?
Dutch Harris: Scott, they make those Chuck Norris-like jokes about him on Twitter. KIMO’s a killer and the fact that neither he nor Buck have been able to score a victory against one another is evidence that both KIMO AND Buck Dresden are monsters. They are going to have a freaking crazy battle at the ApeX.
Scott Kamura: Well, with the ApeX in mind, we go on to the next matchup in this block of the ApeX when Josh Conway takes on Cal Crawford… NEXT.
Josh Conway Vs. Cal Crawford
NAFTA 22: No Robots, No Skeletons
A glowing red maple leaf is emblazoned on the screen as the opening chords to “Hero” by Chad Kroger and Josey Scott begin to swell in the background.
As the image of the maple leaf fades, a confident-looking Kenny Canuck stands against a green screen backdrop – which we see for a split second before the screen is replaced by a clip show of moose trudging through snow, two hockey players punching the shit out of each other, Canadian mounties riding through quaint city streets, and a… can of LaBatt Blue for some reason.
Kenny: My fellow Canadian… and the rest of my cheeseburger-loving neighbors to the south – I am here to report that the state of SHOOT Project is in trouble.
Kenny, fully masked, shakes his head ruefully.
Kenny: I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but our current tag and Battalion champions are made up of robots and skeletons! It’s just like Linda Hamliton predicted in 1992! We’re on the precipice of the apocalypse and no one seems to care.
Kenny points a finger into his maple-leaf-adorned chest.
Kenny: Well, I care. Kenny cares. North America’s Favorite Tag Alliance cares. And we know you care too. No one wants to be ruled by screaming robots and doped up zombies! Right?
Kenny looks nervously off camera to someone we can’t see and whispers.
Kenny: they don’t want that, right?
Regaining his composure, Kenny points to the camera in dramatic Uncle Sam fashion.
Kenny: Look. I know things may look dire today… we lost the fight against those old Japanese men and that… wasn’t a great look. BUT Canada doesn’t give up. America doesn’t give up! NAFTA doesn’t give up! No! We get better. Stronger. Faster. We’re no daft punks!
Kenny looks off camera with a thumbs up – hoping the joke landed. Whatever reaction he gets clearly isn’t the one he was hoping for.
Kenny: Well. We’re NOT. And we’re going to prove it tonight by taking on double trouble themselves, Danny DeVito and Arnold Swarzenegger! That’s right, the Twins!
We can finally hear Johnny Patriot’s voice off camera, whispering.
Johnny Patriot: Patience and Decius.
Kenny: Sorry. Right. Patience and Devious.
Johnny Patriot: Decius.
Kenny: Whatever! The point IS, SHOOT Project, you have been forced to cower in fear for too long, the robot army thinks it’s won! The skeletons think that just because they don’t have skin they can’t bleed! Well I’ll tell you one thing, I DO bleed. I bleed red. And white. And my partner Johnny, he bleeds enough blue for the both of us. Robots? They don’t bleed either! We need tag team champions who BLEED. Who’s with me!?
A silence falls over the set as the lyrics of “Hero” can slightly be heard in the background…
I’ll hold onto the wings of the eagles
Watch as we all fly away
Kenny: that’s your cue!
Johnny Patriot jumps into the shot in full ring gear as the green screen shifts from whatever clip art website they used to find “Videos of Canada” to a more well-produced waving American flag overlaid with the Statue of Liberty.
Johnny Patriot: I AM! ME! Johnny Patriot! And you should be too!
Johnny points to the screen and as Kenny sees this, he joins in a second behind.
Johnny Patriot: PATIENCE!
Kenny Canuck: DECIUS!
The two NAFTA members look at each other and then back to the screen.
Johnny Patriot: WE’RE COMING FOR YOU!
Kenny Canuck: WE’RE GOING TO BEAT YOU!
Kenny stops and shakes his head, looking at Johnny.
Kenny: We practiced this… it’s We’re coming for you!
Johnny: I think saying we’re going to beat them is more impactful…
Kenny: Why are you changing the lines?
The voice of The Honorable Smooth Walker pipes up from behind the camera.
Hon. Smooth Walker: Fellas, I gotta get this camera back to the editing room before they realize it’s missing. Just… figure it out and quickly.
The two NAFTA members nod and hold out their hands… for a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Johnny: Best five out of seven?
Kenny: Best seven out of nine.
Johnny: Nine out of eleven!
As the two begin throwing rocks, paper, and scissors at each other, the video image piped to the green screen cuts off abruptly and Hon. Smooth Walker appears from off frame, into the shot, pulling out a folding chair and sitting down watching the international conflict play out.