Table of Contents
RUINATION 29: THE COFFEE CAPITAL CRISIS
The stream comes alive as the SHOOT Project helmet burns its way onto the screen.
We cut to the SHOOT Project tour bus, hurtling up a highway, the Hollywood sign of California left behind in a cloud of dust and rubble.
The hard guitar riff of “Man in the Box” by Alice In Chains breaks the silence as the scene shatters and we’re rumbling down a highway, heavy rain pouring down in sheets.
I’m the man in the box
Buried in my shit
Lightning strikes all around as the looming shadow of the Climate Pledge Arena appears in the distance.
Won’t you come and save me
The tour bus is hit by an errant bolt of lightning and the scene goes white before we’re screeching to a halt in front of the arena, surrounded by several small town coffee shops.
Feed my eyes
Can you sew them shut
Deny your maker
We cut LIVE to the arena as the music blares and the crowd goes wild. Pyro explodes as the SHOOT Project has ARRIVED in Seattle!
Dutch Harris: We’re here and we’re LIVE from the Climate Pledge Arena and it’s been a BIG news cycle, Scott!
Scott Kamura: That’s right. Apparently, Joshua Breedlove got his new deal worked out, there was a fan vote for Blaze Claymore and Chad Kyle’s new team name, and apparently SHOOT Project bought into a network?!
Dutch Harris: That’s right, man. If you didn’t know, SHOOT Project bought into the ACE Network, which is where PRIME Wrestling currently airs, and collectively, they’ve joined the Phoenix Wrestling Alliance. Did you see that SWEET video!?
Scott Kamura: So what does that all mean, exactly?
Dutch Harris: The biggest thing I think is that there’s going to be more eyes on the product. We are now simulcasting to the ACE Network AND the PWA Network in addition to our in-house solution, the SHOOT Project Epicenter Network, or SPEN ironically.
Scott Kamura: And what all is this High Octane thing and all these other places?
Dutch Harris: High Octane TV, owned by High Octane Wrestling has partnered with the sVo, mVw, and OCW, so we’re competing! Gonna fuck ’em up! And we’re going to START fucking them up by kicking this show off with Daihm Ferguson taking on Ultimo Muerte!
Daihm Ferguson Vs. Ultimo Muerte
B! L! A! I! S! E!
Lou Grimaldi is standing backstage. His eyes curiously glance over toward a now-messy catering table. The camera turns toward what Grimaldi’s staring at: a husky individual in dirty clothes, heavy-breathing, and bleach blonde hair spiked to the rafters. The unknown individual touches every piece of food and drink on the table before Grimaldi grabs his wrist…
Lou Grimaldi: You have a lot of nerve to sneak in here, sir.
The unknown individual pulls his wrist away and smirks. With his grimy index finger, he slightly taps the top of his sunglasses and reveals his dark, inquizitive eyes. With one last look at the catering table, the man sniffs Grimaldi and speaks.
Unknown Man: You, big guy, have a lot of balls to get in between me and a meal. However, this catering doesn’t have anything a real man would eat anyway. Where the fuck’s the hotdogs and nachos?
About to lose his cool, Grimaldi cuts the man off.
Lou Grimaldi: How did you get back here? Fans are not authorized to be back here!
Confused, the man jams a finger right in Grimaldi’s chest.
Unknown Man: I’m Blaise Blaze. I was hired recently, guy.
Lou Grimaldi: Nobody told me we hired more ring crew…
Blaise Blaze: How dare you insult me, a professional wrestler, man. Had I not left my damn singlet at home, I’d be cookin’ some fisticuffs for your kisser. So, before you say another word, who the hell are you?
Lou Grimaldi: Lou Grimaldi. I’ve been here longer than you, and I can officially say I don’t like you at all. Besides, did you bathe before arriving? Who has the same last name and first name? Blaze Blaze. That’s terrible.
Blaise Blaze begins to take his shirt off for a backstage tussle, but other security calm him down. Lou Grimaldi stands his ground and laughs a bit at this embarrassing moment for the man known as Blaise Blaze.
Blaise Blaze: It’s Blaise Blaze, asshole. That’s two different names.
Lou Grimaldi: You just said Blaze Blaze.
Blaise Blaze: B! L! A! I! S! E!
Lou Grimaldi: We already have a Blaze here, jackass.
Blaise Blaze: I’ll kick his ass—
Grimaldi has had enough. He ends this situation before it goes any further; Blaise Blaze, at his first event after being hired, is escorted out of the arena. Expletives are thrown at everyone that will hear, but nobody really cares what Blaze has to say.
Haseo Karasawa Vs. Danny V5
For a chance
Laura Seton: What is an “expectation?”
Video rolls of various Laura Seton highlights. Top rope splashes onto downed opponents. Hurricanranas and other acrobatic maneuvers from her heyday of years ago.
Laura Seton: How does one meet it? Continue to put on feats of unearthly athleticism?
Shots of her raising various championships, recognizable to SHOOT fans, the Sin City Championship three times.
Laura Seton: Winning championships?
Shots of her in the ring, some displaying more of her artillery, others simply showing her with a smile, still others with her glaring at an opponent, ready to tie up.
Laura Seton: And what happens if you don’t meet them? Are you a dud?
Laura is pinned.
Laura Seton: Do you become a has-been?
She stands by the ropes looking confused after a screwjob/controversial loss.
Laura Seton: Do people look back at you and think of you as a never-was?
Highlights of her in her early days, being pushed around by then-grizzled vets and generally struggling to pull off certain moves that would eventually become second nature to her.
Laura Seton: What happens when you hit the street after a match and are greeted with, “Where the Hell have you been?” What happens when, after you’ve given so much towards the sport we love, you’re thought of as more of a disappearing act? When what people know what you can do becomes buried because of a perceived coming up short?
A shot of her in present day attire, with a quick zooming in to her eyes. Her brow narrows.
Laura Seton: Maybe I’m not as commonplace as I’d prefer–
Quick shots again of her at the onset of her career, but this time with more success.
Laura Seton: –but to think I don’t care!? Or that this doesn’t matter!?
Another round of clips from the latter portion of her career as her voiceover continues.
Laura Seton: I’ve given too much to “not care.” Why do I keep returning? For a chance. A chance to grow. A chance to be bigger than before. Maybe this won’t be the perfectly executed but to think I’ll accept anything except being in the ring with a shot at the World Championship?
You’re more insane than Lunatikk Crippler.
First Strike? You’re out!
Jacob Mephisto - Iron Fist Champion
The lights go dark, turning the arena pitch black. Cell phone lights flare on, pinpricks in the crowd. The heavy guitar riff grinds its way through the speakers as “The Dark Horse Always Wins” by Blues Saraceno begins to play and the SHOOT Nation goes into an uproar of hate, showering boos down. The SHOOTtron flares to life with the image of a burning Joshua Tree before transitioning to the steel M logo.
A spotlight shines down, illuminating Jacob Mephisto, the Iron Fist Championship clasped firmly around his waist just as the lyrics kick in.
Deliver me from evil,
Deliver me, deliver me from sin,
Mephisto raises his head and tilts it back, looking toward the ceiling as the camera slowly zooms in on him.
Deliver me from evil… Yeah
Deliver me again… Never
He lowers his head just as we cut to a close up and opens those pale, gray eyes, a smirk forming on his lips.
The dark horse always wins…
The Iron Fist Champion looks left and right, sneering at the booing fans.
The dark horse, the horse always wins…
He throws his arms out wide and the lights flare to their absolute brightest before settling to normal as the music kicks back in and Mephisto starts his walk to the ring.
So bring me to the water,
And drown me in your reign
Bring me to the water… Yeah
And drown me once again
Mephisto stalks his way to the ring, stepping between the ropes and throwing his arms out wide. He unclasps the Iron Fist Championship, staring into its golden faceplate for a long moment before slowly raising the title high in the air.
As the music fades, he hesitates before handing the title off to the referee.
Electryk Tyger Vs. Jacob Mephisto (c)
The Iron Price: Chapter 3 - The Gold Standard
The bell sounds and Mephisto throws his hands out to the side in celebration as “The Dark Horse Always Wins” picks up again. The crowd hurls down boos and insults as the still-reigning Iron Fist Champion laughs as he’s handed the title. Mephisto raises the title into the air slowly, soaking in the hate of the crowd.
Dutch Harris: Well, it was a valiant effort from Electryk Tyger, and maybe Mephisto was a little surprised, but he’s the Iron Fist Champion for a reason, and winning 2 falls straight? Proves that.
Scott Kamura: No offense to Tyger, but he was out of his depth here.
Mephisto lowers the title and stares into its golden faceplate, mesmerized. He’s quickly shaken from his hypnosis when…
Lexi comes out from behind the curtain to loud cheers from the crowd, dressed in her gear. With a mic already in hand, she makes her way down the ramp and looks at Mephisto as she does so. She ascends the steps and gets in the ring through the bottom rope, then walks over to him and waits for her music to die before speaking while still keeping eye contact.
Lexi Gold: Congratulations, champ. That was an impressive win. I watched the entire thing backstage, and while you are a great champion and earned your stripes here in SHOOT Project, you sure have an attitude that just bothers me, much like Blaze Claymore. I’m not going to run down your entire history and say I know everything about you, because I would be lying to myself and to these great fans here tonight, so who pissed in your Cheerios and made you despise the world?
She isn’t trying to be his friend. In fact, it’s quite the opposite of that. She’s curious, at the same time unafraid, should he choose actions over words.
Mephisto watches Lexi as she speaks, his head tilting slightly. He takes a step back and tosses his head back, laughing. He motions for a microphone of his own before turning back to Lexi.
Mephisto: Would you just look at this! Lexi Gold, ladies and gentlemen.
The fans cheer for Lexi, but continue to boo Mephisto as well.
Mephisto: Let me guess. You’re out here to lay down a challenge for the Iron Fist Championship. Before you answer, you should probably hear this.
Mephisto shoulders his title, looking Lexi in the eyes.
Mephisto: You showed real guts coming out here and confronting me face to face. IAM didn’t get in the ring with me. Hell, he didn’t even speak. Haskell Payne? Sure, he talked a big game. But you? You came down here and got right up in my face.
Mephisto smirks. He holds up a placating hand before Lexi can speak again.
Mephisto: First, you compared me to Blaze Claymore, of all people. Don’t make that mistake, dear girl. I’m far from a cut rate, discount Corey Lazarus.
The crowd boos loudly, but there’s a smattering of laughter from the more nostalgic fans in attendance.
Mephisto: But you’ve made a mistake. You see, by your own admission, you don’t know much about me. You come out here full of gumption and demand to know my motivations? You really should have done your research. Let me give you a run down. I have been ‘Mr. Sin City’ after submitting one of the SHOOT Project’s most terrifying competitors in history, Sammy Rochester. I’ve beaten legends, including one whose name is synonymous with the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship in Donovan King. Twice. Lexi, I’m not just another opponent for people. I change people, Ms. Gold. I took Azraith DiMitri, hall of famer and one of the most feared men in this industry to his limit. I break people. I end careers. Ask David Miller or Takuma Sato. Who? Exactly. So, Lexi Gold, what makes you so special? What makes you think you won’t be forgotten like those others? What makes you worthy of another shot at gold?
The smirk is gone from his face, replaced with a blank, emotionless look, though hellfire flashes in his pale, gray eyes.
Lexi raises her microphone, but pauses. And then she slaps Mephisto right across his face. Mephisto’s head snaps to the side and stays there, the Iron Fist Champion taking in what just happened as he slowly turns his head back to look at Lexi Gold, who has absolute defiance in her eyes.
Lexi Gold: I may not be all those names you mentioned, but one thing I am is a fighter. For years, I’ve been put through the wringer more times than anyone could count, but I got up and chose to fight again and as long as I am still alive and breathing, no one, not even you is going to take away my chances of succeeding here or anywhere else in the world. I sacrificed too much to allow some ego driven maniac such as yourself take my dream and passion away, from me.
Mephisto smirks again. He shakes his head slowly.
Mephisto: You’re a fighter. You just keep getting back up every time you get knocked down. You’re the plucky never say die type, aren’t you?
The smirk never reaches those cold eyes, where bad intentions reside.
Mephisto: You know what you are, Lexi Gold? You’re a dime a dozen. You’re a cookie cutter. Your dream and passion? Everything you’ve sacrificed for? That dies if you come for this.
Mephisto taps the title on his shoulder.
Mephisto: You’ve got a future in the SHOOT Project, Ms. Gold. You’ve shown that much by holding onto that Shut Up and Fight Championship as long as you did. So, I’m going to give you one last chance to survive this. Walk away. Go home. Live.
Mephisto makes a dismissive motion with his hand, his face deadly serious.
She paces the ring back and forth, considering his option carefully before stopping and going nose to nose with him.
Lexi Gold: Nah, I am fine right here where I need to be. Your threats are useless and make it seem like you hold all the power within the company. What? Because you are the champion? Or is it because you took down some big names. That’s the difference between you and me, at least when I was Shut Up and Fight Champion I didn’t allow my success to turn me into an unbeatable monster. You are taking the cake with that position. You talk big and mighty. I have a new offer for you, why don’t you put that title of yours on the line against me soon, and see who could come out on top, unless you are scared…
Mephisto looks at Lexi for a long moment. He raises his hands up, a placating gesture, and takes a step back. Mephisto nods, and then hauls off and swings at Lexi! But, the former Shut Up and Fight Champion ducks, anticipating the attack!
Lexi launches forward and nails Mephisto with a STIFF forearm, staggering the Iron Fist Champion backward as the crowd lets out a cheer!
Dutch Harris: Lexi Gold is NOT afraid of Jacob Mephisto and she’s taking it to the champ right now!
Scott Kamura: Mephisto tried to take a cheap shot, but Lexi was not having it!
Dutch Harris: She better be careful though. Where Mephisto goes, so goes The Family!
The crowd hurls down a series of boos as The Montgomery Twins come sprinting to the ring! Decius charges forward first, but Lexi ducks a clothesline and knocks him to the canvas with a standing enziguri.
Scott Kamura: Lexi Gold is a house of fire. She just dropped Decius Montgomery – OH!
As Lexi pops back to her feet she turns right into a face full of Black Mist from Patience Montgomery! Lexi clutches at her eyes, unable to see!
Dutch Harris: It looks like Patience has picked a little something up from her father.
Mephisto shakes the cobwebs out and stalks Lexi as she tries to feel her way around the ring. The crowd shouts down warnings, but they’re all jumbled together and mixed with boos.
Mephisto steps directly behind Lexi, speaking without the microphone, but loud enough for a nearby camera to pick up his voice.
Mephisto: I warned you…
Lexi hears his voice and whips around to face him, but Mephisto is too fast. He ducks down and hoists her up onto his shoulders in a fireman’s carry!
Dutch Harris: He’s gonna put her down with that fireman’s carry lungblower, the Memento Moris, his tribute to former tag team partner Sean Boden! WAIT A MINUTE!
The crowd explodes with cheers as Ignatius Albert Martin and Haskell Payne come sprinting down the ramp, steel chairs in hand. Mephisto drops Lexi and bails from the ring, the Twins close behind, Patience snagging the Iron Fist Championship on her way out. She hands the title to her father as the trio backs up the ramp.
IAM and the Colonel check on Lexi, who is wiping black gunk out of her eyes, the three would-be challengers to The Patriarch’s title glaring up at The Family. Mephisto slowly raises the title high in the air as we cut away.
Your Champion Arrives
“Make Way for the King” by OHANA BAM EXPLODES over the speakers and the capacity Climate Pledge Arena crowd comes alive right before transitioning to a SERIOUS amount of boos when they realize what’s happening. Crimson and gold shiny confetti falls from the sky, blurring everything out, confetti everywhere, and then…
“MAKE WAY FOR THE KING”
Crimson and gold pyro shoots out from various places on the ramp, announcing and confirming the entrance of the former SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion, Joshua Breedlove!
Dutch Harris: This is great news!
Scott Kamura: I’m not sure I agree…
Dutch Harris: Well, we know he re-signed with the SHOOT Project earlier this week, so you know he must have a lot on his mind, what with that and the Iron Will Classic looming on the horizon!
In full royal garb, the EMPEROR of the HOLY BREEDLOVE EMPIRE steps out onto the top of the ring ramp as confetti continues to shower down from the top of the building, nearly covering Breedlove, who makes a motion like he’s peering through the curtain, and he begins his walk over to the announce desk!
Scott Kamura: Oh great. He’s coming over here…
Dutch Harris: This is GREAT. CHAMP, please come sit down. Please please!
Breedlove takes a seat and grabs a headset to throw on, joining the commentary team, much to Dutch Harris’ delight and Scott Kamura’s dismay.
Scott Kamura: To… what do we owe this pleasure, Josh?
Joshua Breedlove: Whooooaaaaa, Scotty. We’re not tight like that. You can call me “SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion, Joshua Breedlove.” Thanks. And wouldn’t you know it?! I’m here to scout out some competition. This First Strike business is a very important thing to me, because I’ll get to learn who one of my competitors is at Iron Will 2, you know?
Dutch Harris: You got any favorites going into the next match?
Joshua Breedlove: Absolutely not. I just see them as potential notches on my belt. And that belt? The SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship. Let’s get to it!
Josh Conway Vs. Judy Punchinello Vs. Laura Seton
Your Champion's Thoughts
Scott Kamura: Certainly you have some thoughts as to what you’ve just seen?
Joshua Breedlove: Of course I do. Don’t let the fact that Laura Seton took the L here confuse you. That chick has it going for her in a big way. She’s a legend for a reason, and Judy P? Man oh man… she’s VERY interesting to me.
Dutch Harris: Care to elaborate on that?
Joshua Breedlove: No, I don’t. I think we’re being told we’re going backstage! I’m staying out here for the main event, though! I’ve got an obviously vested interest in seeing who comes out on top there. See you guys again in just a moment!
The Dragon's Lair
We find Daihm “The Dragon” Ferguson walking through the back of the Climate Pledge Arena with a towel strewn over his shoulders and a nervous-looking Sarah King trailing behind him.
Sarah King: Daihm! It’s OK. It was just one match – you just need to do what you know you can do in the next two matches.
Daihm throws up his hands, reaching onto his head and pulling wildly at his hair.
Daihm: FUCK. I bloody… I upended me life for THIS!? I left home. I left me boyfriend. I left me mum. All to chase down this arsehole who is trying to make my life a living ‘ell!
Sarah gestures with her hands for Daihm to try and stay calm.
Sarah: It’s almost been a year, Daihm. If it was just about Lennox… I don’t think you’d still be here. Just like we talked about on the way up here – it’s not about HIM it’s about YOU.
Daihm closes his eyes and lets out a heavy sigh as Sarah carefully puts her hand on his shoulder.
Daihm: Feels like the whole world is against me right now… my friends turnin’ on me. Me dad bein’ a fuckin’ joke. And now I’m one loss away from getting kicked of the roster altogether before I even had a chance to do somethin’ here.
The Dragon begins to continue down the hall towards his dressing room but before he can get far, Sarah King grabs his arm and holds him back.
She looks around, making sure no one else is within ear shot. As soon as she knows the coast is clear, she leans to whisper something into Daihm’s ear that causes him to rise to attention – his eyes wide with a mix of shock and curiosity.
Daihm: You really think…
Sarah nods, slowly – but definitively.
Sarah: It’s time to take the kid’s gloves off, Daihm. You’re going to get shoved around until you find a way to fight back.
Daihm steels his expression as he nods in response.
Sarah: It’s time to show them what happens when you try to enter the Dragon’s lair.