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Ruination 55

The silence in Dan Stein’s office is deafening despite the significant number of people in attendance as nearly a dozen bodies circle the COO’s desk. However, Dan Stein is not the one sitting there; Ayumi Seppuku is and she firmly holds a phone in her hand, looking at it intensely.

The COO is not far from Ayumi, however. He stands several feet back alongside Josh Johnson and Lennox Ferguson, arms nervously crossed. Meanwhile, Jack Johnson, Chick Grillbreast, and Miranda DC are positioned against the wall to their right while several LasVegas Police Department officers are huddled on the other side. One is eagerly holding a receiver to their ear as they gesture toward Ayumi.

Officer: You need to keep him on the line for at least three minutes to allow us to trace the call. Do you understand?

Ayumi nods in the affirmative and then looks at the wall clock above her. Just about thirty minutes until the show and less than a minute until showtime.

*RING* *RING* 

 

The sudden sound of the phone jolts Ayumi out of her day dream and causes everyone else in the room to begin scrambling into position. She takes a deep breath and sighs as she picked up the receiver and cradles the phone against her shoulder.

Ayumi Seppuku: Seventeen.

Voice: Not quite.

Ayumi’s face tenses slightly.

Ayumi Seppuku: Vig.

Voice: The one and only. Now… we’re going to make this quick, you and I. OK? Because I’m not dumb and I know there are probably cops hovering over your shoulder right now trying to trace the call, am I right?

Ayumi looks up and the officer motions for her to keep talking.

Ayumi Seppuku: Less than. A dozen.

Vig laughs on the other end of the line.

Vig: Cute. Cute. But not as cute as the two baby face boys I’m looking at right now. They are so sweet when they sleep.

The audio from the call can be easily heard by those in the room and it takes Miranda DC to hold back both Chick and El Paria from leaping forward toward the phone Ayumi is holding. Ayumi’s fist clenches tightly, knuckles whitening as she seemingly plays along.

Ayumi Seppuku: Why, Vig? What are you. And Seventeen doing. This for? Why Daihm? Why Jamie? Why try and. Attack Jack last week?

There is a pause on the other end of the line.

Ayumi Seppuku: Vig?

Vig: I heard you, Ayumi. Even as stilted as your speech still is. Seventeen did too. He’s just… thinking.

Ayumi laughs.

Vig: You think this this funny?

Ayumi Seppuku: What does. Seventeen need. To think about?

 

Vig: My client… I mean…

Ayumi raises her eyebrows.

Vig: Look. I think we can all agree this has gone on long enough. We’ve got the top brass’ attention? Good. Because NC-17 is ready to begin issuing some demands.

Now it’s Josh and Lennox’s turn to raise their eyebrows. Dan Stein looks between the two of them and mouths the words “demands” like a question as the officers to his side are quickly writing down notes.

Ayumi Seppuku: Go ahead. I’m listening.

Vig: No. Not here. You know that’s not how this is going to work. If Seventeen is going to say something it’s going to be to the fans and it’s going to be live on air without any interference, tape delays, or fancy editing. He has something he wants the entire SHOOT universe to hear and it’s about damned time that Johnson, Ferguson, Stein, and everyone else with a corner office finally stopped and listened. OK?

Silence returns to the room once again as Ayumi looks around for some sort of direction. Stein motions for her to continue, giving a thumbs up before whispering something in Josh Johnson’s ear.

Ayumi Seppuku: How about. Tomorrow? Revolution.

Everyone stops and turns to look at Ayumi, whose eyes have grown fierce and a smile crossing her lips. She is enjoying this.

The line pauses again until a new voice appears on the line. It’s NC-17.

NC-17: You know, Ayumi, it’s been so long since I’ve seen you wrestle a full match in person. It would be a treat to share a couple words after your return to the ring. What do you say?

Ayumi’s smile widens.

 

Ayumi Seppuku: Sounds. Tempting.

NC-17: I’ll bet. However, to ensure my safety… and the safety of Jamie, in particular… I hope you understand my need to have the ring and immediate vicinity cleared of any wrestlers, security guards, police officers, and any staff member. I am going to talk with the fans and I don’t need any interference causing static. You got me?

The police officers give a thumb up, indicating they’ve traced the call.

Ayumi Seppuku: I’ve got you.

NC-17: I know.

*Click*

As soon as the line goes dead everyone in the room jumps to attention. The cops begin to furiously scan their devices, trying to locate the signal of the call, while Josh, Lennox, and Dan all huddle together quickly, shouting something about “security” and “liability.” Ayumi stands up from the desk and lets out a sigh only to be confronted by Miranda DC, Chick Grillbreast, and Jack Johnson.

Each of them look Ayumi, but it’s only Jack that speaks up.

Jack Johnson: If my brother comes back with a single hair harmed on his head… I’ll be coming for yours.

With that, El Paria turns and leaves the meeting room with Chick and Miranda reluctantly following behind. Ayumi is left to just stand and stare in silence.


Backstage

NO ONE IS GONNA PUNK US

The camera opens backstage in the bustling corridors of the arena, where “The Punch Line” trio – Roy Vezina, Harv Norris, and Rick Hull – are gearing up for their tag team match against the Atomic Punks, led by their manager Dr. Sato. The tension is palpable as they discuss their strategy.

 

Roy Vezina: Alright, boys, listen up. Tonight, we’re up against the Atomic Punks, a couple of masked freaks led by that sneaky Dr. Sato. But let me tell ya, we ain’t gonna let them punk us out, eh?

 

Harv Norris: Dee roof should be tilted at a sharp slant. Dee point of dee steel pen was bent and twisted.

 

Rick Hull: Damn straight, Harv. Those Atomic Punks may think they’re hot stuff with their masks and their manager, but they’re no match for The Punch Line, eh? Tonight, we show them what Canadian toughness is all about. We hit ’em hard, we hit ’em fast, and we send ’em packing back to whatever hole they crawled out of, eh?

 

Roy Vezina: Remember, boys, we stick together, we watch each other’s backs, and we take down the Atomic Punks one punch at a time. We ain’t just fighting for ourselves tonight; we’re fighting for every fan out there who believes in The Punch Line. Because, yes we Canada! 

 

Harv Norris: Dee small pup gnawed a hole in dee sock. Dee lease ran out in sixteen weeks.

 

Rick Hull: And we’re fighting to prove that we’re the main event, not some masked clowns with a gimmick. So let’s lace up those skates, boys, ’cause tonight, we’re gonna skate circles around the Atomic Punks and show Dr. Sato who’s boss!

 

With a final fist bump, The Punch Line trio heads out of the locker room, their determination shining through as they prepare to face their opponents in the ring.

 

ATOMIC PUNKS Vs. The Punchline

Tag Team Match

Backstage

STAND ON BUSINESS

 

Backstage, and most of the active members of Blackhawk Fight Gym are here.  Bouchard is somewhere, one assumes attending business meetings or buying mustache wax.  In front of us though are two fully-geared out specimens of youthful fighting prowess. 

Joey ‘Golden’ Burkhalter is rangey in the way that even the casual observer can realize makes him a nightmare in the ring.  He’s all lean muscle and hard angles, and he’s now filled with the sort of shitty confidence that’s only found in the truly conceited or really young.  Jury’s still out on what the source of his is.

Izzy is his opposite number in a lot of ways.  Where he’s tall and paleand shimmering, she’s short and dark and her eyes are filled with the sort of dark intentions and bright constant scanning of corners that show her to be a n absolute Sherlock of the fight game. 

Right now, they’re leaned against a cinderblock wall, looking at one another.  Finally, izzy steps forward, indicating to her buddy with her thumb. 

Izzy Sia: He’s faster than you.  His kicks hurt more–I know, I’ve eaten about a thousand of ‘em.

Burkhalter claps her on the shoulder, joining her in the foreground. 

Joey Burkhalter: You got submissions?  Her joints laugh at them.  And yours are gonna cry–trust me, I’ve been tapped by her more times than you can count. 

Izzy Sia: What are they looking at, Golden B? 

Joey chuckles, flexing without a care for the fact that he’s coming across like a bit of an asshole.  He’s Abercrombie meets Tapout at this point. 

Joey Burkhalter: They’re looking at the future.  I mean I totally get it.  You guys got your scary names and whole…things, I guess.  But see, Iz and me, we aren’t superstitious or dumb or worried.  You guys really think masks and facepaint are what make you killers?

Izzy Sia: Pageantry.  Plain and simple. 

Joey Burkhalter: You think either of us give a shit about that?  You really think the two brightest stars from Blackhawk Fight Gym, the star pupils of one of the most dominant champions in SHOOT history, are afraid of…

He dismissively shakes his hand, as if indicating something, his face one of disgust. 

Joey Burkhalter: that?

He steps aside, waving off their competitors with derision.  Izzy steps up, rubbing her hands together and chuckling. 

Izzy Sia: Like it’s so embarrassing for you.  We show up off the strength of what the fuck it is we do in a fight, and the world opens up to us.  Contracts at our feet.  Shit, they offered me more than one endorsement deal–and I know every crew, fight gym, street gang, and management firm has been beating the door down to get a piece of my bestie over here.  We’re in demand…what the fuck are you?  

From behind, The Golden One grabs her by the shoulders, excitedly shaking her. 

Joey Burkhalter: Stand on business, Iz!

She sneers and extends a middle finger at the camera. 

Izzy Sia: Fuck standing on business, we’re standing on your fuckin’ throats.

Joey Burkhalter: Cause the both of you cartoon losers are looking at the future. 

Izzy Sia: You’re in decline.

Joey Burkhalter: But we’re just getting started. 

With that, Izzy smirks–and shoots an elbow into Burkhalter’s breadbasket.  But this isn’t an assault, far from it.  The incredulous open mouthed smile on Burkhalter’s face is evidence enough of that.  He reaches out for her, but she slips his grip.

Joey Burkhalter: Oh you’re gonna pay for that!

Izzy Sia: You sure?  I don’t wanna see you main eventing with a dislocated elbow…

With that, he gives chase, their laughter echoing down the hall.  It’s hard to remember sometimes because we see what they do in what is very much an adult world, but they’re neither of them even 20 yet.  They’re still kids.  So of course they’re going to act like teasing siblings. 

Just incredibly violent ones.  We cut away…

Backstage

MONSTER SEEKING MONSTER

A cocky-looking Lexi Gold stands, arms crossed, looking down the hallway eyes intensely focused on the curtain separating her from the main arena as cheers ring out from the crowd — undoubtedly from some finishing move that just got kicked out of.

Lexi is so incredibly focused, in fact, that she is unaware the hallway behind her has suddenly started glowing purple. At first the color is almost indistinguishable, but it continues to deepen until even Lexi cannot ignore the violet (and violent) aura that suddenly surrounds her.

Voice: Ahem. Ms. Gold. How… nice to meet you finally.

Lexi turns, more annoyed than angry, to find a tall, skeletal-looking figure with a significant hunchback slowly rubbing his hands over the surface of a cane with a glowing glass ball on top of it. He smiles, showing off a crooked row of teeth before bowing slightly and tipping his hat.

Lexi remains unimpressed.

Voice: My name is Străjer. Dr. Înnegurat Străjer. I believe you will be facing off against my prized beast later this evening. My precious Vârcolac. He is quite hungry you know… it has been so long since he has tasted battle.

 

Lexi Gold: I’m sorry, what? Do I appear to be food to him? It’s amusing to me that I continue to get booked against these foolish creatures. Do I come across as some kind of monster?

 

Străjer leans in, a glimmer in his eye only accentuated by the glowing hue coming from the top of his staff.

Dr. Străjer: Precisely! Oh, Ms. Gold, I am so glad we are on the same page — you and I. Conversation with the Vârcolac is ummmm how should I say… limited. You, though, you have the same wild spirit, the same unbridled blood lust. It truly is remarkable how you are able to harness such-

 

She chuckles and interrupts him before he can speak.

 

Lexi Gold: You are delusional if you believe we are on the same page. I’m several steps ahead of you and your beast. Speaking of whom, why isn’t he here? Ah, that’s right. He is intimidated by me. I would be too. Did you happen to see what I did to Fang Fury on the last show? He was under the impression that sinking his teeth into me would give him the upper hand, but instead not only did he find himself choking on blood, but he choked in the match itself.

 

Dr. Străjer’s expression sours slightly as he adjusts his posture and is now standing a good foot above Lexi, the shadows cast by the violet glow covering half of his face. His eyes burn with a mix of anger and desire.


Dr. Străjer: Delusional, you say… well, I suppose dreams do make us a bit illogical, but delusional, Ms. Gold, I think you don’t quite understand what it is I’m saying. I am offering you an opportunity; a chance to be your best self. Someone who can embrace their inner urges and reap the rewards afforded the most highly-esteemed members of this coterie.

Lexi looks coldly back at the doctor.

Dr. Străjer: To put it in more vulgar terminology, I am offering you a chance to have your cake and eat it too. Embrace your inner monster, as you put it, and enjoy the fan adoration that has been your hallmark. You don’t need to limit yourself to choosing between the two sides of yourself, Ms. Gold. You can be a Jekyll and a Hyde.

 

She looks around, thinking about his offer  before giving her response. 

 

Lexi Gold: I don’t need to be influenced to revert to my good habits. If I want to be a monster that people paint me to be, I’ll do it all on my own. If you noticed, I don’t like being told what to do. I play by my own rules, so I’m not interested in your offer. I’d like you to personally deliver a message to your Wolf friend. I hope he has been taking notes on me, because when that bell rings, there is only room for one victor, and it’s not some half-man, half-wolf freak. The victor belongs to the Golden Goddess Lexi Gold, and I’ll prove it by tearing him limb from limb, leaving nothing but carnage in my wake, then you’ll have no choice, but to carry what is left of your experimental project and attempt to put him back together again. 

 

Dr. Străjer resets his stance and then lets out a brief laugh.

Dr. Străjer: Oh, Ms. Gold… WOLF MAN may be an “experiment” as you put it, but so was your atom bomb. Sometimes experiments work. Sometimes they work even better than anticipated. Sometimes they change the world as we know it.

As the doctor’s eyes narrow, the glow of the orb turns from a serene purple to a dark, aggressive red.

Dr. Străjer: Sometimes experiments work. Sometimes they work even better than anticipated. Sometimes they change the world as we know it.

The orb’s color changes quickly, now to an austere gold. He brings his staff up to his eye line and looks through it towards Lexi, who is tapping her foot with annoyance.

Dr. Străjer: You’re an experiment too, Ms. Gold. I can sense it. And while at first you had my interest you now have my attention. I wish you well tonight, Ms. Gold, and don’t worry; I’ll pull my beast back from the brink when the time comes. I wouldn’t want to ruin the fun of seeing just what kind of monster you become.

With that, Străjer smiles and tips his hat curtly to the Golden Goddess and walks away.

Lexi Gold: Oh he has no idea exactly what I’m capable of.

 

She smirks and walks away from camera view. 

 

THUNDERFIST VS. JEFFREY JAMES ROBERTS

Singles Match

Backstage

A RARE SHOWING

The scene cuts to the back where Mary Kelly stands with the SHOOT Project Tag Team Champions, the Coltons, on either side.

Mary Kelly: Dutch, Scott, I’m back here with the SHOOT Project tag team champions, The Coltons. Guys, last set of shows, Benny took home a win over Maximo Fisico while Dennis got the short end of the stick against Kid Lucha. Did you guys figure anything out about Lucha Fitness that will help you in your title defense against them?

 

Benjamin Colton: We figured out that I’m amazing. But we already knew that.

 

Dennis Colton: You’re also super humble.

 

Benjamin Colton: The most humble.

 

Dennis Colton: Sucked to take another L in singles competitions, but those guys are legit, just like all the teams here in SHOOT Project. But know we know them a little better, and we’ll be putting the work in to make sure these belts stay right where they belong.

 

The big man pats the faceplate of the SHOOT Project Tag Team title, secured around his waist.

 

Benjamin Colton: Lucha Fitness earned their shot, but if they think that means they can knock off the Number One Tag Team–in SHOOT and in your hearts–they got another thing coming. Me and the big man here are set to prove, again, that we’re the best team in the game.

 

Kid Lucha: Did someone say Astonishingly Lucha Goodness?

 

Kid Lucha walks into the frame. Mary looks annoyed, the Coltons look guarded but unworried.

 

Mary Kelly: No…nobody said that.

 

Kid Lucha: Well…someone should have. Anyway, Mary, as nice as it is to see you, we should get drinks sometime, but I just saw you guys having a chat and just wanted to say something.

 

Kid Lucha turns his attention to the Coltons. 

 

Dennis Colton: Where’s your partner?

 

Kid Lucha shrugs.

 

Kid Lucha: He’s out of town. Said he had some business to take care of. He won’t be on the shows.

 

Benjamin Colton: Oh nooooo, I’m so disappointed.

 

Funny, he doesn’t sound disappointed at all.

 

Kid Lucha looks down, a little disappointed, and sighs. 

 

Kid Lucha: I know that me and my partner don’t exactly have the peachiest of reputations around here, and I know we’ve taken some potshots at each other over the months on Spitter and on the interwebz, but above all else, I am a wrestling fan, and I just want to say that, as a student and fan of this sport, what you guys are doing for tag team wrestling and for those titles is incredible. The SHOOT Project Tag Team Championship has a long, prestigious history, and yet you guys have found a way to elevate them. Honestly and sincerely, it will be an honor to face you guys for those belts, and I legitimately can’t wait to tear down that ring with some old school tag team wrestling and some ASTONISHINGLY LUCHA GOODNESS.

 

Kid Lucha extends his hand.

 

The lads have a whispered conversation between each other. Maybe they’re deciding whether to accept Kid Lucha’s offer of sportsmanship. Maybe they’re discussing the qualities of a truly great waffle. Either way, the conversation is short, with the champions shaking the challenger’s hand.

 

Dennis Colton: Us either. It’s gonna be a blast.

 

Benjamin Colton: Hell yeah it will. See you in the ring.

 

Challenger and champions part ways, leaving Mary Kelly to handle the cleanup. As usual. C’mon guys, do better.

 

Mary Kelly: A rare show of respect between upcoming opponents, but rest assured that once the titles are on the line, Lucha Fitness and the Coltons will be giving each other hell in the ring! Dutch, Scott…back to you!



IZZY SIA VS. Kazna Morozova

Singles Match

IN THE RING

The Epicenter Arena goes dark as the fans rise from their seats, knowing what awaits.

Spotlights come alive, awash in purple as they swirl the ring.

 

Crowd: WOLF! MAN! WOLF! MAN!

Dutch Harris: Ohhhhh boy, Scott. Here it comes!

Scott Kamura: What… what is wrong with you?

Dutch Harris: Oh come on. You’re not a #WolfManStan?

Scott Kamura: My name is SCOTT and don’t you dare say “Hashtag” out loud like that ever again.

The purple spotlights complete their initial orbit before landing in one unified position on the rampway where the tall, gothic visage of Dr. Străjer hands with his hands clasped over the glowing orb on top of his body-length staff. He looks up and smiles at the crowd before pointing his staff in a sweeping motion across the arena.

Crowd: AROOOOOOOO!

The crowd howls with anticipation.

Dutch Harris: AROOOOOOO—OW! OW! Why are you hitting me with a rolled-up newspaper?!

Scott Kamura: WHY DO YOU THINK!?

“Clap for the Wolfman” by Guess Who hits the speakers as Dr. Străjer turns and points his staff toward the entryway – making way for a burly figure who emerges in leather cloth, his tangly hair down to his shoulders and a shiny championship belt around his waist. As WOLF MAN finally arrives in full view at the top of the rampway, the crowd begins to clap in unison.

CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!

CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!

Scott Kamura: Okay, okay… let’s just… make sure these claps are on the beat. WOLF MAN is like a Clapper but instead of turning a light on he mauls your face.

Dutch Harris: With the crowd on his side like this, Scott? The tide could turn at ANY moment for Lexi Gold tonight.

Bathed in purple light, WOLF MAN and Dr. Străjer make their way down the ring as the fans continue to hoot and holler, reaching out to slap WOLFMAN’s hand, but are ignored as his beast-like focus is honed firmly on the center of the ring. He steps into position as the lights return to normal and he lowers his head and shoulders, placing his knuckles on the ring mat ready to pounce the second his opponent emerges.

“Mothman” by Joh Yoban hits, and the crowd’s reaction immediately turns from unbridled excitement to similarly unrestrained animosity upon hearing the theme.

Lexi Gold emerges from behind the curtain, unphased by the reaction, taking her time walking to the ring with a big grin on her face. Passing by a group of young teens, she glances at some signs in support of WOLF MAN and pauses, changing her trajectory and walking toward them.

The group of youths, flanked by increasingly nervous guardians, try to pull the signs away, but, living up to her mean girl demeanor, Lexi vaults the barricade, getting into the face of a random kid. The rest of the arena roar in anger as the confrontation is shown on the jumbotron.

Cameras swarm to see Lexi bad mouthing a boy with tears in his eyes as she REACHES OVER and TAKES THE CHILD’S SIGN! She tears it up in front of him and the rest of the Ruination crowd before tossing it aside and continuing her walk.

If the fans hadn’t already turned on Lexi Gold, there was no question now of their animosity as a “FUCK YOU LEXI” chant overtakes the arena while she climbs up the steps and enters the ring through the bottom rope.

Unphased, Lexi taunts WOLF MAN, her eyes meeting his – a proud warrior primed for battle. 

LEXI GOLD Vs. WOLF MAN

Singles Match

Backstage

THANK YOU!

It’s been a hair over a year since she first signed with SHOOT.  A contract she still has a copy of framed in her residence.  While she had the normal rookie ups and downs, it was still one of the best years of Madison Seton’s life.

 

The first show of her second year sees the new Breedlove Empire member walking the halls rather innocuously.  She passed by a table filled with various magazines–whatever ones still exist in today’s digital age and begin flipping through the selections.  Suddenly, a hand goes over her eyes as another wraps around her mid-section.  She may not be the easiest person to handle, but this at-first mystery person seems to know their way around her… seemingly kidnapping her!

 

“Mads… shhhhh. Don’t say anything. Don’t do anything. If you look behind you, you lose the game.” 

 

She smiles, recognizing the voice, but does as she’s told as he says and doesn’t speak, doesn’t move, doesn’t look. 

 

“Okay, let’s go, let’s go. Quiet.” 

 

He leads her to a quiet room in one of the lesser used areas of the Epicenter. She is familiar with this room for… other reasons.

 

Madison Seton: Uh… we’re going round two already?  ‘Cuz there’s–

 

???: Just open the door, Mads.

 

She shrugs and does so.  Only this time the room isn’t empty save for a sofa… it’s set up for a small party.  A couple slices of cake and a couple wrapped boxes sit on a table.  She has a grin.

 

Madison Seton: Didn’t we already do my birthday?

 

Jack Johnson: Yeah, of course, but this is different. Birthday was like… a group thing and all that fun stuff, this is just us, at least for now. I’m sure some vultures will be in here to pick up some free cake or whatever, but for now, you and me.

 

He smiles.

 

Madison Seton: Didn’t you get me enough stuff?  Did you find a garage sale the last couple days?

 

She strides to the table and picks a small box.  She holds a poker face as she side-eyes her fiancee.

 

Madison Seton: What did I say about jewelry?

 

Jack Johnson: I don’t know if I should be insulted or not at the insinuation that I’d need to shop at a garage sale for… anything. 

 

He laughs.

 

Jack Johnson: But no, no jewelry. Nothing like that. Well, kinda like that, I guess? 

 

She takes off the wrapping as she turns to him.

 

Madison Seton: So there is or isn’t something sparkly in here.

 

She holds up the small box.

 

Madison Seton: Because even a fool knows this is a—

 

Jack chuckles cutting her off.

 

Jack Johnson: Yeah, still not jewelry though. Just a convenient container.

 

He pushes a medium-sized box towards her.

 

Jack Johnson: You know what comes next, right? You gotta open it.

 

She rips through the wrapping and lifts the lid off a garment box.  A white jersey with red lettering and numerals stares back at her.  Her high school’s name and her then-used “45” on the front as she unfolds it.  She smiles.

 

Madison Seton: You went out of the way to get–

 

She notices a tiny rip in the neckline.  Only one jersey ever received that.  Her senior year State Tournament jersey.  Her jaw drops.

 

Madison Seton: How did you get this!!??  That was 14 years ago…!

 

Her eyes fly from the jersey to Jack and back numerous times.

 

Jack Johnson: Not trying to brag, but my dad’s a generational wrestling superstar and the owner of one of the premier entertainment companies in the country and Breedlove’s an extremely wealthy individual with large reach and connections. We know people. Well, really, they know people. 

 

He smiles.

 

Jack Johnson: I just happened to have the connection to them and the motivation for you.

 

Madison gets a momentary look of concern.

 

Madison Seton: I don’t know if that’s a good thing you have an “in” at my old high school…

 

But her wide smile returns as she lightly blushes looking back at Jack.

 

Madison Seton: But thank you!  This is so awesome!

 

Jack Johnson: Oh don’t you worry, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on any and all high school Mads stuff. I already ordered all of your yearbooks. I can’t wait for those to get here. Gonna be fuckin’ GREAT.

 

She blushes deeper, a small laugh from embarrassment.

 

Madison Seton: Nooooo!  I had braces as a freshman; I looked like such a fuckin’ nerd!

 

Jack Johnson: I didn’t actually order your yearbooks, that’d be weird.

 

She puts her hands on her hips and looks at him with raised eyebrows.

 

Madison Seton: Would it?  For you??

 

Jack simply puts his arms to his side and gives an innocent shrug.

CICADA VS. GOLDEN BURKHALTER

Singles Match

POST MATCH

INTERCONTINENTAL, INTERDIMENSIONAL CHAOS

As the match ends, both Burkhalter and CICADA look exhausted. The fans cheer the brutal affair they just witnessed.

 

Dutch Harris: What a match we just witnessed. These fans showing their approval and-wait a damn minute.

 

As the fans cheers turn to boos, Ryan Samuels starts making his way to the ring. Burkhalter clears out, not having anything to do with the issues between the ghost of SHOOT Project and the Curmudgeonly Cowboy. CICADA, despite the war he just fought, stands tall. Ryan Samuels slows his movement, staring up at CICADA. He looks angry, and he is definitely talking some shit, but he doesn’t seem to want to move forward.

 

Scott Kamura: Well…he’s right there, Samuels. Go get him.

 

Samuel’s anger and defiance are betrayed by what looks like nerves, maybe even a little bit of fear. However, even that changes as a grin crosses his face. The crowd boos even louder as The Punch Line emerges from the crowd and hits the ring behind CICADA. Harv Norris goes low and clips CICADA’s leg, and for the first time in his SHOOT career, CICADA looks hurt. He clutches his knee as Rick Hull begins to stomp on him. Harv Norris is up quick and begins to put the boots to him. Roy Vezina joins Ryan at ringside and smiles, pointing to CICADA and telling Ryan to go get him. Ryan hits the ring and stays on his knees, delivering punches to CICADA.

 

Dutch Harris: I’m hardly inclined to feel sorry for CICADA, but after a hard fight with The Golden One and now facing a three on one, I’m not sure even he’s got much of a chance.

 

The crowd hardly has reason to be particularly fond or forgiving of CICADA, but seeing these three men cowardly beat down a man who has been fairly consistently straightforward and fair in his brutality angers them. They boo and throw trash, but the two Canadians and the Midwest Nightmare don’t care. However, the boos turn to cheers as Johnny Patriot and Boyd Walton hit the ring. Harv Norris and Rick Hull see them coming, but the Patriot Act hits with such speed and intensity that they quickly get the upper hand. Boyd Walton and Rick Hull pound on each other while Johnny Patriot and Harv Norris go at it. In the chaos, Ryan Samuels gets up and clobbers Patriot, allowing Harv to get the upper hand.

 

Scott Kamura: The numbers game is in favor of Roy Vezina’s Punch Line and I’m not-oh, damn, CICADA is up.

 

Though he hobbles a little, CICADA is on his feet. Ryan turns just in time to see CICADA loading up a big kick. Ryan drops and rolls out of the ring. In the confusion, Patriot blindly pulls Harv Norris, who eats ALL of CICADA’s foot in the face. CICADA drops again, holding his knee some more, but Harv Norris rolls out of the ring. Boyd Walton is able to clothesline Rick Hull out of the ring, leaving The Patriot Act and CICADA in the ring. CICADA tries to get to his feet, but clearly his knee is tweaked. Johnny Patriot offers CICADA a hand, which CICADA takes, and Patriot helps CICADA up, helping to stabilize the big man. Harv clutches his cheek, Rick clutches the back of his head, and Roy Vezina talks shit. Ryan Samuels is already at the top of the ramp, locking eyes with CICADA (though CICADA’s face is completely covered). The Patriot Act and CICADA stand tall in the ring as the camera fades to black.