The show opens outside the SHOOT Project Epicenter. Fans are trickling into the building, and the wrestlers are all making their way in for the Master of the Mat qualifying episode. All wrestlers except for one, that is. He’s holding a megaphone and holding a placard on a stick that reads “FAIR 2 FELIX!”
Felix Mullen: *through the megaphone* BOYCOTT SHOOT PROJECT! STAY AWAY UNTIL THEY STOP DISCRIMINATING AGAINST ME FOR MY RADICAL POLITICS!
Fans give him the side-eye almost categorically if they don’t ignore him.
Felix Mullen: THIS IS A PICKET LINE! DO NOT CROSS!
Fan #1: What picket line? It’s just you.
Fan #2: Corny. C’mon, let’s get to our seats.
Furious, Felix shoots the fans a glower before lifting the megaphone back to his mouth and points it at the pair of fans walking away.
Felix Mullen: HEY YOU! THIS IS TOO A PICKET LINE! I’M JUST WAITING FOR THE IWW AND THE TEAMSTERS TO GET HERE TO MARCH IN SOLIDARITY! THEY’RE PROBABLY STUCK ON THE 15!
He turns around to find himself face-to-face with his girlfriend and tag partner, Peach Backshots. He’s startled and jumps back.
Felix Mullen: Miranda. Have you come to join me in solidarity?
Peach Backshots: Felix, what are you doing?
Felix Mullen: What I said I was going to do! I’m going on strike until I get fair treatment from Real Deal and the rest of the SHOOT Project front office. I am just as deserving of a chance at the Master of the Mat as anyone!
Peach Backshots: No, mi corazon, I mean what are you doing out here by yourself? You’re embarrassing yourself. You don’t deserve this.
Felix Mullen: I won’t be by myself for long! I just said, the IWW and the Teamsters will be here soon! Maybe even the DSA and Culinary Union Local 226! And I mean, you’re here, right?
Peach Backshots: As much as I don’t want to see you humiliated, I have to go. I have a match to prepare for soon.
Peach walks towards the building as Felix stands, mouth agape. He drops his sign as the scene fades to the next segment.
Ignatius Albert Martin Vs. Kitsune
Puke and Rally!
Backstage, a clearly intoxicated Tommy Knuckles stumbles, bumping his massive body against the walls and nearly tripping over his own feet. He mumbles to himself and, after rounding a corner, runs directly into a SHOOT staffer, sending him toppling him to the floor.
Knucks: HEY! Watch where the hell you’re going!
The staffer scrambles back to his butt, apologizing profusely. Knucks grabs two fist fulls of the staffer’s shirt, pulling him dead weight off the ground and inches from his face. The staffer winces from the sting of the alcohol on his breath.
Knucks: Sorry? I d-
Knucks: I’ll s-show you.. “sOrRy”!
Johnny Patriot (Off Camera): HEY yourself! Unhand this fine, hard working American who was just trying to do his job!
Knuckles turns his head toward Patriot, still with the staffer by the shirt. Patriot appears in the camera wearing his trademark red, white, and blue mask along with a finely tailored navy blue suit. The roadie puts his finger up to speak.
Roadie: I’m actually Canadian.
Johnny Patriot: Really? Are you people multiplying in this American-founded company?!
Roadie: It’s Japanese, actually, I think. Yakuza and all that.
Patriot looks at the roadie, crossing his arms over his chest.
Johnny Patriot: You’re not taking this “me saving you from an unpatriotic ne’er-do-gooder” very seriously.
Knucks: SHUT UP! Both of you! Hey, Captain America, why don’t you return the suit to whatever mall you got it from and mind your own damn business?
The roadie turns his attention back to Knucks and his eyes go wide.
Roadie: Oh, yeeeeah. You’re roughing me up.
Suddenly, the staffer’s demeanor returns to the scared (and slightly disgusted by Knucks breath) panic that was on it.
Johnny Patriot: Listen here, Citizen. You’re impeding upon this man’s freedom of movement and crossing into assault territory! I will not stand by and watch idly as this infringement continues! And, for the record, this suit happens to be from the great American company, Jos. A Bank!
Knucks looks Patriot up and down–it really was a nice suit. He turns his attention back to the staffer.
Knucks: I don’t give a sh-
He pauses abruptly, a lump rising in his throat.
Knucks: I’m gonna kick your-
Knucks retches, still clenching the staffer’s shirt, who is now violently thrashing to get away from what’s coming. Knucks wretches loudly and his cheeks puff!
He unleashes an absolutely revolting belch directly into the staffer’s face! His eyes roll back and he starts to retch himself. Knucks drops him with a thump to the floor. He takes one last look at Johnny Patriot and slurs drunkenly at him.
Knucks: This ain’t over…
Chadwick Kyle Vs. Gabriel Martinez
Blood Red Glory
Abigail Chase: I’m backstage with the one and only Judy Punchinello as she prepares for what promises to be an epic face off against Jacob Mephisto for a spot in the Master of the Mat tournament.
Sure enough, a sour-looking Judy stands cross-armed as the bubbly Abigail continues her interview.
Abigail Chase: Now, Judy… it’s been a little over a year since the last Master of the Mat and I believe at that time you were still partners with Belle Grant as the “Pop Punks” correct?
Judy glares at Abigail.
Judy Punchinello: What’s your point?
Abigail smiles and laughs nervously.
Abigail Chase: I just meant… you’re on your own here tonight in a match against the one and only Jacob Mephisto – a man who took a Hall of Famer like Azraith DeMitri to the limit not too long ago and well, you had your match with Azraith and lost, and, well, you’ve actually had quite a few losses here recently and I think that-
Voice: Blood for Blood.
Abigail Chase yelps in surprise as she bobbles her microphone.
Judy’s eyes show legitimate surprise as Power Devil and Cyber Beast, the Unholy Cyber Army, step into frame. Though they’re known for yelling and screaming, they have been silent for some time, and their voices are more a low rumble of threat than anything.
CYBER Power Devil: Judy Punchinello.
CYBER Superbeast: Your fists thirst for blood.
Judy Punchinello can’t help but laugh.
Judy Punchinello: Guilty as charged.
No laughter from the Lords of Hell. Judy’s laughter trails off, slowly.
CYBER Power Devil: Why?
Judy Punchinello: Why… what?
CYBER Superbeast: Why do you hold back?
Judy scoffs as the intrepid reporter tries to interject.
Abigail Chase: Unholy Cyber Army! Are you here supporting Judy in her match ton-
CYBER Superbeast: ‘Support’ is something that the weak need. True warriors, true conquerors, stand alone and break all those that dare oppose them. There is glory in that, blood red glory.
CYBER Power Devil: Glory! Blood for blood.
Unison: Blood for blood.
Abigail Chase recoils but then nods instinctively.
Abigail Chase: Yes… so… wait…. What?
The two members of the Unholy Cyber Army point in unison at Judy Punchinello. Unsure if this action is a threat or something else–Punchinello’s shoulders hike up a bit, her hands moving to a more ready position; primed to spring into action. After a long, tense moment, the members of the Unholy Cyber Army…smile?
CYBER Superbeast: You are a cocoon.
CYBER Power Devil: You are resting.
CYBER Superbeast: Will this tournament be the moment that you break free of your shell? Will it be the moment that you stop being afraid of what awaits, cowed like some sort of dogged mendicant?
CYBER Power Devil: Trees grow. Rivers course. And warriors destroy, their thirst for blood unabated until they meet a superior conquering force. Then they have two paths to take, Punchinello. Will you fight again, this time stronger? Or will you wither and die like a cur in the street?
Judy’s expression is cold as stone watching as the Unholy Cyber Army, just as quickly as they arrived, provide a curt nod to both Abigail and Judy, and stomp away, leaving chaos in their wake like a hurricane that has left both of them flabbergasted.
Abigail Chase: Well I… Judy? What do you make of all that?
Judy Punchinello: I’ll have to get back to you on that one, Abigail…
The two end up standing in stunned silence for several seconds before Abigail reaches up and presses a hand to her head, checking her ear piece.
Abigail Chase: Oh! I’m told we have to cut immediately to some sort of incident elsewhere in the building. Let’s go live to…
Abigail Chase’s expression falters.
Abigail Chase: …really? Ugh… I guess.
The reporter sighs.
Abigail Chase: Let’s go live to some bullshit with Blaze Claymore.
A roving backstage camera is running down the hallway of the Epicenter, spinning around like a scene from the Blair Witch Project before it staggers to a stop on a distraught-looking Blaze Claymore.
The Deep SHOOT conspiracy theorist, just minutes from his match with So Jun Lim, is standing outside of his locker room with a mix of anger and confusion on his face.
Blaze: WHO DID THIS!?
A small crowd of backstage crew begin to gather as Blaze points wildly into the room.
A/V Crew: Sir, what’s the matter?
Blaze spins around and throws up his hands, which are oddly glistening.
Blaze: The matter!? Are you blind?
Another staffer in SHOOT Project gear approaches, pressing an ear piece to her head.
Security Guard: Yeah, we’ve got a Code Beige. Can you get eyes on Sector 10?
Blaze looks around, instinctively pressing a hand to his head before pulling it back violently with disgust as the camera tries to squeeze in.
Blaze: Who is going to pay for this? Hmm? Maybe it’s that Judy fuckin’ Lunchable trying to be clever. I did piss her off doing better as Michalangelo than she did playing Raphael! But I don’t get it! What’s the joke!?
Janitor: What was that? I got the notice we had a Code Beige?
Blaze gestures towards his dressing room before crouching onto the ground and putting his hands on his head.
Blaze: Shit. Shit. Shit… what is this? What is going on?
The camera finally breaks through the crowd and approaches Blaze, spinning around to catch a glimpse of the scene and it is indeed horrific. Every inch of Blaze’s locker room is caked in Vaseline. The walls. The floors. The sink. His shoes.
Blaze: God… DAMMIT. How am I supposed to get prepared for my match when everything is so… greasy!? Who would do this!?
Security Guard: Seems like the kind of prank Johnny Knoxville would pull, sir.
Blaze Claymore shakes his head.
Blaze: Mr. Knoxville is a saint. He would never be so vile… no, I thought it was Judy but there is only one person who could pull this off – with all the time he has to sit back and prepare for Master of the Mat – there is no question this is Dan Stein’s dirty work.
Blaze waves his hand.
Blaze: What kind of camera footage do we have? CCTV? To Catch a Predator Cam?
Security Guard: We don’t have an active camera here because it used to be a broom closet… but we’ve kept an eye on Dan Stein all night, sir, and he wasn’t anywhere near here.
Blaze closes his eyes.
Blaze: Then I need to know who WAS! Who had a motive? Who had the opportunity? Who came into the SHOOT Project Epicenter tonight with a gallon of Petroleum Jelly!?
A/V Crew: Have we checked on Daihm Ferguson?
Blaze turns around, eyes wide.
Blaze: YES! Of course! Him and his large pole!
The crowd chuckles.
Blaze: Because he was playing Donatello! Come on! Look, it doesn’t matter. We need footage of Daihm Ferguson here in this arena tonight and make sure we catch him in the act. I have no doubt that Daihm and Dan are working together on this! D’s stick together, after all.
Another chuckle from the crowd.
Blaze: UGH! Come on people! We need to build a case! But until then…
Blaze: …we’ll have to take justice into our own hands.
Blaze looks down at his jelly-covered hands.
Blaze: After… I get a towel.
So Jun Lim Vs. Blaze Claymore
Picket Blues, Pt. 2
The camera cuts to outside the SHOOT Epicenter, where Felix Mullen is still carrying on his one-man strike. His posture has slouched since the show open, and the groups he promised would join him have not shown up yet. Wearily, he raises his megaphone to his mouth.
Felix Mullen: HEY. YOU. TELL REAL DEAL TO BE FAIR TO ME? I DUNNO. SUBSCRIBE TO MY PATREON.
He sighs, but something catches his attention. He perks up at a large van’s side door opening. Could it be the IWW finally showing up? No, it’s a van full of special needs kids excitedly exiting to see some SHOOT Project action. Felix sighs again before putting the megaphone up to his mouth.
Felix Mullen: HEY KIDS, DO YOU WANT TO STRIKE WITH ME?
Teacher: Uh, no? They’re here to see their favorite wrestlers like Dan Stein and Laura Seton and their new favorite, Black Sheep Baez.
Felix Mullen: THEY’RE ALL BOOKED FOR REVOLUTION. THIS IS RUINATION. DON’T YOU PREPARE FOR THESE THINGS BEFOREHAND?
Teacher: One, I’m standing right next to you. You don’t have to talk through the megaphone. Two, shut up.
The teacher herds the kids forward to get to the entrance of the building. Felix turns around and is excited once again to see a Dodge Sprinter van pull up. The Las Vegas Culinary Union Local 226 is emblazoned on the doors.
Felix Mullen: *off megaphone, thankfully* This is it! Finally! My backup has arrived!
The passengers, all dressed in their checkered pants and white overcoats, file out of the van one by one, chatting each other up as they head towards the Epicenter. As they approach Felix’s bunky-ass picket, he again lifts the megaphone to his mouth.
Felix Mullen: COMRADES! GLAD YOU COULD BE HERE IN SOLIDARITY FOR MY STRIKE AGAINST SHOOT PROJECT?
Cook #1: Strike? Our shop steward didn’t tell us about no strike.
Cook #2: Yeah, we’re here to set up craft services for the wrestlers for after the show. We even had to bring out Bubba the Meat Man because there’s one guy who eats like 20 pounds of grilled chicken breast in one sitting.
Bubba: Actually, he’s my hero.
Felix Mullen: WHAT? BUT YOU’RE UNION! YOU HAVE TO STAND WITH ME! I’M ON STRIKE! YOU CAN’T CROSS A PICKET LINE?
Cook #2: What union do you belong to anyway?
Cook #1: Yeah, I mean, I thought wrestlers weren’t organized anyway.
Bubba: They aren’t. In fact, if we strike with him, we’d be standing with a scab. Let’s go in before someone sees us.
The cooks all shuttle past Felix as once again, he slumps his shoulders in disappointment. The backup beeps of a big tractor trailer rouse him from his sadness. Although the trailer is unmarked, he beams with excitement.
Felix Mullen: Could it be? The Teamsters are finally here?!?!
As the driver gets out of the cab, Felix’s face beams with anticipation. The driver opens the back and lets down a ramp. Out walks one man. One grotesquely muscular man with two functioning brain cells and even less body fat.
Chick Grillbreast: HEY, THANKS FOR THE RIDE. THE LAST THREE UBERS I TRIED TO TAKE HERE ALL BROKE DOWN.
Driver: Don’t mention it, but you don’t have to yell, I’m right here.
Chick Grillbreast: Oh, sorry.
The King of the Swole Bros stalks towards a visibly disappointed, growing tense and restless over his seeming abandonment. Finally, he makes a move, walking over to block Grillbreast’s path.
Felix Mullen: ALRIGHT, THAT’S IT. YOU’RE NOT CROSSING THIS PICKET LINE! YOU WILL STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH ME!
Chick Grillbreast: Whoa, whoa, slow down. Solidarity? I don’t think I got up to that entry in my Word of the Day calendar yet.
Felix Mullen: UGH, IT MEANS “SUPPORT,” YOU LUMMOX!
Chick Grillbreast: First off, why would I support you? You’ve got way too much body fat. Second, that loud thingy you’re talking into is giving my ears a big hurty. That makes me SO MAD!
Chick raises his fist into the air and punches the megaphone out of Felix’s hands. It lands on the roof of the SHOOT Project Epicenter.
Felix Mullen: No worries, I planned for such a contingency.
Felix bends down and reaches into the knapsack he brought with him, pulling out a second megaphone.
Chick Grillbreast: I swear to Arnold, if you talk into that thing into my face again, I am going to smush you into a ball and throw you so far that Las Vegas Aces superstar Candace Parker will try to get me to teach her how to do fullcourt shots like that.
Felix sheepishly puts down the megaphone.
Chick Grillbreast: Besides, I already promised my new best friend, Dan Dragon, that I would help him make SICK GAINZ today. He got really excited when I told him we would be pumping all night long. Anyway, I gotta go, nerd. Good luck with whatever loser stuff this is.
Chick stomps off. Felix stands back up, dusts himself off, and points his head to the sky.
Felix Mullen: FUUUUUUU
Before he can finish his drawn out profanity, the camera cuts to the next scene.
Peach Backshots Vs. El PaRia
You Left Me On read...
We cut to our commentary team where Dutch Harris and Scott Kamura prepare for the next contest of the evening.
Dutch Harris: We’re about set for the next qualifier for Master of the Mat where we’re going to see-
Scott Kamura: Jacob Mephisto? Again?
Dutch Harris: No, you idiot, he’s in the main event.Pay attention you-
Scott Kamura: No, no! I’m being told Mephisto is in the back and he wants a camera on him right now. It… doesn’t sound great.
Dutch Harris: Oh shit. I mean, let’s get someone back there please!
Scott Kamura: I’m being told if security tries to interfere this time, there’s going to be blood. That’s a direct quote apparently.
Dutch Harris: Oh, Christ. CAN WE GET SOMEONE BACK THERE!?
We cut to somewhere deep in the backstage area were a jumpy image comes into view. Abigail Chase speed walks along, microphone in hand. They pass a SHOOT Project security team hovering just around a corner, hesitant to approach.
Abigail and the camera person round the corner to see Jacob Mephisto crouched on his haunches, forearms resting on his thighs and hands clasped together. Behind him is… something… covered in a black curtain. The Patriarch looks up, eyes locking on the camera and Abigail Chase.
Jacob Mephisto: Ms. Chase… I didn’t ask for an interviewer.
There’s a giggle from the shadows and Patience Montgomery saunters into view, slowly walking a circle around Abigail.
Patience Montgomery: Ooooh. Father asked for a camera. You’re not welcome here.
Decius Montgomery stalks from another corner, a hammer in his hand. He joins his twin in circling SHOOT Project’s number one interviewer.
Decius Montgomery: Should we use this one as a messenger too?
Mephisto looks up, no mirth in his expression.
Jacob Mephisto: There’s no need for you to get messy, Ms. Chase. You may go.
Decius steps back, mockingly motioning for Abigail to exit. Patience, for her part, looks disappointed for just a moment before smiling sweetly while the beloved interviewer gives the camera person one quick glance and hightails it out of there.
The Twins flank Mephisto as he slowly comes to his feet. The Patriarch motions the camera forward and begins to pace back and forth.
Jacob Mephisto: I consider myself a reasonable man. Really, I do. In our world, sometimes reasonable is a little extreme to outsiders.
As their Father paces, the Twins’ eyes follow him, always watching… always observing.
Jacob Mephisto: I’m also a patient man. Still, I sent a very clear message to Ignatius Albert Martin at Iconic. I’ve given him time to take it in and respond.
Mephisto stops, turning to face the camera directly.
Jacob Mephisto: But, it appears that Mr. Martin has, what do the kids call it these days?
He glances back at the Twins.
Jacob Mephisto: Ah, yes, he’s “left me on read.”
There’s a slow nod from The Patriarch.
Jacob Mephisto: But, as I said, I’m a patient man. So, I’ve composed another message for him.
Mephisto whirls around, and yanks the black cloth away to reveal a SHOOT Project security guard strapped to a gurney, placed upright against the wall. He’s been gagged and his shirt has been torn open. Small, shiny objects stick out of his flesh. Not staples this time…
They form three letters. The same as before.
Just like last time, one additional word is written in sharpie underneath, trickles of blood running through the lettering.
Jacob Mephisto: I’m a patient man, Ignatius. But, if my messages continue to go unanswered, I’m going to start becoming very offended.
He inhales deeply.
Jacob Mephisto: If you ignore this message, I’m going to start carving into the people that the SHOOT Nation really cares about.
The Patriarch tilts his head up and to the right, raising his voice.
Jacob Mephisto: You can come and get your friend now!
The Family stalks away as security comes around the corner, swarming the area with EMTs in tow to tend to their hurting comrade.
The camera gets one last shot of the initials written in copper nails before we cut away.
Thane Vs. Malice
Picket Blues, Pt. 3
Most of Ruination is over by now, but Felix Mullen is still outside the Epicenter, yelling through his megaphone at anyone walking by, whether wrestlers leaving the building after their match ended or passersby walking around the neighborhood passing SHOOT Project’s home of operations. Most people ignore him, but he finds two young men walking out of the Epicenter who definitely will at least listen to him.
Felix Mullen: *into his megaphone* HEY YOU, GUY WHO SIMPS FOR MY GIRLFRIEND AND HIS COUSIN, COME OVER HERE.
That’s right; it’s the Coltons.
Benjamin Colton: I don’t simp for your girl’s cousin!
Dennis Colton: He means me, Ben.
Benjamin Colton: Denny doesn’t simp for your girlfriend’s cousin either!
Dennis Colton: That’s not–
Benny starts walking over to the podcast host and wrestler; Dennis follows against his better judgment. Honestly, “against his better judgment” accurately describes most of his lifelong interactions with his cousin.
Benjamin Colton: What’s going on, dorksock?
Felix Mullen: I AM GOING ON STRIKE FOR BETTER TREATMENT. YOU KNOW, I WAS HERE YESTERDAY? AND TALKED ABOUT IT ON SPITTER? ANYWAY, SINCE YOU LIKE MY GIRLFRIEND SO MUCH, YOU SHOULD HELP ME OUT, BECAUSE HELPING ME OUT MEANS HELPING HER OUT.
Benjamin Colton: We’re right here, dude. The megaphone’s not necessary.
Dennis Colton: What kind of “better treatment” are you striking for?
Felix Mullen: FOR STARTERS, MORE OPPORTUNITIES. I WAS UNJUSTLY LEFT OUT OF MASTER OF THE MAT. DO YOU KNOW HOW EMBARRASSED I FEEL BECAUSE OF THAT?
Benjamin Colton: Wait, I know this one. More embarrassed than how you feel because of your haircut?
Dennis Colton: But less than how you should feel about that haircut.
Felix’s eyes grow wide at the insults hurled at his hair.
Felix Mullen: NOW YOU LISTEN HERE YOU CORNFED PUNKS! MY HAIR IS A CANVAS FOR BURLY JEFF UP IN BUSHWICK TO WORK HIS ARTISTRY! I PAY FORTY DOLLARS FOR THIS, AND YOU WILL NOT INSULT IT WITHOUT PENALTY.
He pulls back for a moment realizing he shouldn’t be threatening people he’s trying to get to join him.
Felix Mullen: BUT ALL WILL BE FORGIVEN IF YOU TWO JOIN ME AND STRIKE FOR BETTER TREATMENT FOR ME, AND MAYBE FOR YOU TWO AS WELL. I DON’T KNOW. AREN’T YOU SICK OF FIGHTING THOSE CYBORG GUYS?
Benjamin Colton: We keep winning, so not really.
Dennis Colton: Anyway, there’s the tag team tournament coming up. We’ll get our chance to take on fresh opponents soon enough.
Felix looks flabbergasted.
Felix Mullen: B-B-B-BUT IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO! HELP ME SO THAT MAYBE MIRANDA, I MEAN, PEACH WON’T BE THE NEXT ONE TO BE GIVEN SHABBY TREATMENT BY SHOOT PROJECT! PLEASE! PICKET WITH ME!!!
Benjamin Colton: The math checks out, I guess.
Dennis Colton: Didn’t you fail math?
Benjamin Colton: Shut up.
Dennis Colton: Twice?
Benjamin Colton: Shut up, I said.
Felix Mullen: LOOK I DON’T CARE HOW MANY TIMES YOU FAILED MATH. ARE YOU TWO HAYSEEDS GOING TO JOIN ME OR NOT?
Dennis Colton: I don’t think so. Peach has been doing great so far, and she’ll keep doing just fine. I’m starting to think your gripe against SHOOT Project is really just a reflection of your own jealousy and frustration.
Benjamin Colton: AND you brought up a guy named “Burly Jeff” and didn’t even offer his phone number. RUDE.
Felix Mullen: THAT’S BECAUSE BURLY JEFF IS EXCLUSIVE. YOU NEED A REFERRAL FROM A SECOND REFERRAL JUST TO HAVE HIM INTERVIEW YOU TO SEE IF YOU’RE HIS KIND OF CLIENT.
He doesn’t notice, but both Coltons have walked off. He slumps his shoulders again as the scene jumps to another part of the Epicenter.