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Ruination 59

EP.: 059

DATE: 05.27.2024




Tag Team Match



Right fist.  Taped knuckles smash into a punching bag.  Left fist, but a little lower, and same result.  The bag dents with every jab.  Right, left, right, uppercut, gut punch, and then CK Butcher spins and slams his elbow into it.  The momentum sends the bag swinging back, and it’s met with a thunderous knee upon return.


He grabs the bag with both hands and stares at it.  He catches his breath.  His eyes are locked on the bag.  His head drops and he sighs.


CK Butcher: I know you’re here.


Who?  Butcher turns around and examines the Epicenter’s gym.  He looks past the fitness equipment and pans across the landscape until he spots someone.  A young man across the gym is maintenancing the Force USA G20 Pro All in One Power Rack.  He is kneeling and his back is to Butcher. 


The mirrored wall across from the man doesn’t show CK a face; only the top of his head.


CK Butcher: Where’ve you been?  I was beginning to think that you gave up.  You and I both know that you’re very good at giving up.


That did it.  The man stops.  He puts a wrench in a Kobalt tool bag and then slowly rises.  He doesn’t turn around.  He doesn’t need to.  The mirror shows Butcher everything.  That man is exactly who he thought it was.  Evil Butcher.  The irritating apparition obnoxiously smiles and salutes.


Evil Butcher: Salutations! You’re getting good at this.  It’s about time you were good at something.  So, ya’gonna stomp Joey’s face in later’er what?  That boy could use a good old fashioned CK Butcher murderin’.  You should probably start getting more aggressive anyway.  Ultimo Muerte gon’kill you son. 


CK doesn’t let that talk get under his skin.


CK Butcher: I know what I need to do.


Evil Butcher smirks.


Evil Butcher: And what’s that? Grow a bigger pair?  Don’t be so predictable.


CK Butcher: No.  I know what I need to do to get rid of you.  Forever.  


Evil Butcher: Muh’fuck…you wouldn’t know your head from your ass let alone know how to get rid of the only reason you’re relevant.  I’m your relevance.  I’m calling your bluff.  You ain’t know shiiiiiiiiit.


CK Butcher: Good.  I want you to play it off.  I want you to act like it’s any other day and then BOOM! You’re dead.  Gone.  Finito.  You won’t even see it coming, albeit I’m warning you right now.  But, that’s typical you, isn’t it?  The writing is all over the wall but you’re too damn ignorant to understand the context.


Evil Butcher: Says the guy talking to a reflection of some random dude that I’m embodying.  Tell me somethin’, benevolent me, what is it you think will rid you of me?   


CK Butcher: Baptism.


Pause.  Evil Butcher stares at CK.  His dark bloodshot eyes are wide.  


Evil Butcher: Ba…bap…bah…bahaHAHAHA!


He puts his hands on his belly as he tilts his head backwards in laughter.  He ends the cackle and looks back at himself.


Evil Butcher: You really think getting dipped under water will drown me out?  You think some guy pretending to bless the water will do anything? You think that God will save you from me?  Let me share a little secret with you.  I am an extension of you.  In the opinion of your beliefs: God made you.  Therefore – God made me.  I…am…you


CK Butcher: You are not me.


Evil ButcherThis guy.  Brother – you’re screwed up more than ever.  And, here I thought I was the one who was fucked?  Fill a fuckin’ goblet with Jesus’ blood and drink it on down.  Eat one of those tasteless wafers.  Repent and all that jazz.  I’ll still be here.  You’ll still be nothing more than…well…a tasteless wafer.  


CK Butcher: I –


Evil Butcher’s brow furrows and he is aggravated.  


Evil Butcher: Oh shut up.  Just shut the Hell up.  Get ready to lose to Joey Burkhalter.  Get ready to die at the hands of Ultimo Muerte.  Get ready to retire due to utter failure.  Get ready to disappoint that pathetic family of yours.  Get…ready…


That’s where it hurts.  Say something about CK’s family.  The family he works hard for.  That’s the twist of the knife.  CK isn’t having that.  He snarls.  His fists are ready.  Veins bulge from his neck.  His teeth are clenched.


Evil Butcher: That’s it! Get angry!  Fiilllllllll with RAGE! Come over here and BASH my face into this mirror.  Come on ya pussy…be a fuckin’ man.


He’s contemplating it.  He wants to grab this person by the hair and watch his skull shatter glass.  But, he realizes that’s exactly what the Evil Butcher would do.  It’s what he wants.  CK won’t give him what he wants.  


He calms down.  Starts to breathe in, and out, with each breath more satisfying than the other.  Evil Butcher raises an eyebrow and watches as his benevolent self controls his anger.  Their eyes meet; CK’s blue eyes, humble, and Evil Butcher’s empty black holes.  CK smirks.  Evil Butcher does the same.  Then CK walks away.


Evil Butcher: That’s what I thought.  You’re pathetic.  But, don’t worry.  I’ll be here when you need it the most.  And – you will need me.  Unlike that God of yours…


He looks back in the mirror and smiles.  Then he slaps himself across the face.  The visage jitters, glitches, and then returns to being the maintenance worker.  He has no idea what happened.  It’s as if time stopped for him.  He bends down, grabs the wrench, and returns to work.

#11 IZZY SIA VS. #2 NC-17


Singles Match



The ring has just begun to clear from the Izzy Sia and NC-17 match when a loud disturbance seems to be occurring on the floor next to the rampway. Loud shouting can be heard through as security appears to be trying to stop an agitated individual from approaching the ring.

Dutch Harris: Hold on folks, we have some kind of issue going on here… if we can maybe get a camera pointed in that direction we can see what’s going on.

Scott Kumura: Stakes are high here ahead of the finals for Master of the Mat, I don’t blame someone for being overly emotional…

A drone cam swoops in to reveal a tall, elderly man who looks disheveled — thin wispy white hair barely covering his scalp as he brandishes some sort of object at security. The elderly man screams violently and shoves the two guards apart, hobbling along the side of the stage until he can climb onto the base of the ramp. He is on his knees, now, laughing as he looks upward toward the stage entryway and holds what looks to be a doll in his hand.

Dutch Harris: Holy crap! It’s Doctor Strager. Strayher. Stray… jer?

Scott Kumura: There you go. But I can’t tell what he’s saying… are we able to get the crowd mics turned up?

Dutch Harris: Last we saw him at Revolution he was coming out of some … supply closet with a doll that I think may be Lexi’s.


Scott Kumura: Why would Lexi keep something like that in a SHOOT supply closet?

We see the doctor, who is normally composed, violently shaking Lexi’s doll.

Dutch Harris: Regardless, I don’t think it’s wise to push Lexi Gold, Scott. She’s got more than a few screws loose.

Scott Kumura: And he doesn’t?

Dutch Harris: Good point.

On cue, “5 out of 6” by Dessa hits the speakers, signaling the arrival of Laxi Gold as a wild-eyed Dr. Străjer stands to his feet at the base of the ramp and is handed a handheld microphone by one of the ringside crew.

Străjer slings tightly to the doll, but his eyes go wide when Lexi walks out, confidently, holding a massive chain in her hand that is pulled taught, disappearing around the corner into the back. She stifles a laugh as she methodically wraps her hand around the chain, making sure she has a firm grip.

Dr. Străjer: What have you done with my beast!? Tell me or I destroy the doll!

Lexi shakes her head no as, with a slight tug and to the crowd’s horror, she pulls WOLF MAN, bound by the neck in chains, mercilessly toward her side at the top of the ramp. With a wicked grin, she pulls out a microphone and points down at Străjer. 


Lexi Gold: Back for more, are you? Let’s not forget you’ve got something that belongs to me, but as it so happens I have something of yours as well. I would hand the doll over for your own safety – and for his safety as well.

WOLF MAN clearly looks drugged as he wobbles from side to side. Lexi confidently pets the beast’s long hair like an animal’s mane as Străjer looks equally horrified and furious. He narrows his eyes and throws the doll down at his feet, which seems to cause Lexi to immediately collapse, hitting her head on the top of the rampway.

Străjer smiles and picks the doll up as he inches closer up the rampway while Lexi tries to compose herself… hand still locked tightly on WOLF MAN’s leash. The crowd begins to cheer as Străjer stalks closer, grabbing the doll’s right arm and twisting it violently.

Lexi screams as she gets to her feet, her arm contorted backwards. Yet she maintains her hold on WOLF MAN and looks ready to retaliate.

Lexi Gold: Go ahead. Break me, and I’ll shatter you! Do you dare break any more of your frail body, old man?


She shakes off the pain from her arm and starts biting the chain impatiently, becoming insane without her doll in her grasp. Străjer, meanwhile, brings his microphone up to his lips — breathing heavily and himself looking on the brink of a psychological break.

Dr. Străjer: You had your chance to make this simple, my dear, but you refused. You have now brought upon yourself the wrath of the very power of which you could have been a part. Because if you think mere chains can hold my beast… then you have sorely forgotten the source of WOLF MAN’s true power.


Lexi circles WOLF MAN and stops to run a hand through his hair with a sinister smile.


Lexi Gold: Are you certain about that? So, since you want to be possessive and not give me what’s mine, I suppose I’ll hold onto him for a little longer, to do with as I please. It seems like he is not as important to you as I thought he was. On the bright side…the thought of all the ideas I could explore with him by my side is quite delightful.


Dr. Străjer turns to face the crowd and raises a hand into the air as Lexi looks on, confused. 


Dr. Străjer: My dearest friends! I know that things may seem dire, but this is precisely when WOLF MAN needs us – needs YOU – the most. We must break through this witch’s curse and you know what you need to do! I ask you, as loud as you can, to CLAP FOR THE WOLF MAN!

Lexi looks around nervously as the SHOOT Project crowd errupts in a massive howl.

Crowd: AOOOOOO!!!!!

The crowd immediately begins to launch into a rhythmic clapping, bringing a smile to Străjer’s lips as he turns around to face Lexi Gold, who grips the chain even tighter and yanks WOLF MAN close to her side. The mad doctor just laughs as WOLF MAN’s eyes begin to flutter.



Soon, WOLF MAN’s eyes are wide open, looking around, bewildered to find Lexi Gold standing next to him.


The crowd’s efforts are deafening now and WOLF MAN responds by throwing his head back in a wild howl and the crowd responds in turn.

Crowd: AOOOOOO!!!!!

Lexi tries to restrain WOLF MAN by his chains, but WOLF MAN’s strength and aggression is enough to cause several links in the chain to snap and shatter. The untethered WOLF MAN snarls wildly at Lexi before leaping forward and bringing the fighter down on her back! The crowd erupts as she tries to fend off WOLF MAN’s attack, his arms swinging rapidly back and forth as his claw-like nails cut into her skin and he brings his mouth down on her shoulder blade.

With a horrific scream, Lexi tries to escape, but WOLF MAN pulls her back by her legs before lifting her up and throwing her a good five feet backwards, causing her to hit a structural beam holding up the video board. With an OOMPH she collapses to the floor, either unconscious or simply playing dead.

Just as WOLF MAN is about to launch another attack, Dr. Străjer appears behind WOLF MAN and claps his hands loudly twice, which causes the beat to turn his attention to Străjer, who extends a hand outward.

Dr. Străjer: Not yet, my fiară. Her time will come… let us get you healed up. We have a lot more work to do.

WOLF MAN sniffs Străjer’s hand and soon approaches, heeling to his side as the doctor looks down at the unmoving Lexi Gold.

Dr. Străjer: A lot more work, indeed.


The fans let out a cheer as Străjer tosses Lexi’s doll next to her dismissively and then raises WOLF MAN’s arm in victory, letting the fans celebrate before the doctor and the beast exit to the back, walking calmly past a rush of EMTs who go to check on Lexi Gold.



The scene fades into the back. Mary Kelly stands with the World Tag Team Champions (and the Sexiest In SHOOT Champion) Lucha Fitness. Both are wearing suits in opposite color patterns. Kid Lucha has on a green blazer and green slacks with a hot pink collared shirt, while Maximo has a hot pink blazer and slacks with a neon green collared shirt, with more buttons unbuttoned than what would probably be considered classy. Kid Lucha tries to look nonchalant and largely fails, while Maximo is standing far too close to Mary Kelly.


Mary Kelly: I’m here with Lucha Fitness, the world tag team champions, and…Maximo, please, can you just…a couple of steps back.


Maximo Fisico: I’m sorry hermosita, but you’re just so…magnetic. 


Despite his flirty nature, Maximo honors the interviewer’s request. Mary rolls her eyes. 


Mary Kelly: Alright, as the champions, the results of the tag team Master of the Mat must be intriguing to you. We’ve already seen The Brass move on over The Wild Ones, which I know you were cheering on. Any of the other teams catching your eye as preferred opponents?


Kid Lucha: Nah, they all suck.


Maximo Fisico: A few of them have caught more than my eye, si me entiendes.


Mary Kelly: Great, quality answer, super cool. So, what are your thoughts on facing The Coltons at Master of the Mat?


Kid Lucha: They sure keep thinking about us.


Maximo Fisico: But we aren’t thinking about them at al-




A blur of red flashes across the screen, heading straight for Maximo Fisico. He’s got just enough time to throw Mary Kelly in the path.


Mary Kelly: What the fu-


The blur skids to a halt and stabilizes into the form of one Benjamin Colton, decked out in blue jeans and a SHOOT Project T-shirt, covered by his signature red jacket. Benny has a fist cocked back and aimed at someone he really, really doesn’t want to hit. He snarls at the champions, still more than ready for a fight but unwilling to go through a civilian to get it.


Benjamin Colton: Hold still, you chickenshit!


Hot on Benny’s heels is his cousin Dennis, rocking the green jacket over his street clothes as per usual. Unfortunately the BEEFTANK also has to halt his progress, now that Mary is in the way. Taking advantage of their completely brilliant, if not a bit chickenshitty move, Lucha Fitness uses their superior speed to VANISH from the scene, sprinting as hard as they can from the furious Coltons.


Dennis Colton: You all right, Mary?


Mary Kelly: I’m…fine, thank you.


Benjamin Colton: Cool. Go find a spot to relax if you’re feeling shaky. We’ve got a couple murders to commit.


The lads run down the hall and out of the scene.






“Wolf Totem” by The Hu hits on the PA, which can only mean one thing.

Dutch Harris: Ooh, it’s the Mighty Garuda! And Mr. Ho!

Scott Kamura: I wonder what pleasure we have of seeing them.

Dutch Harris: I heard some rumors about dealings with Felix Mullen.

Scott Kamura: Don’t mention that name! Gives me heartburn just hearing it.

Mr. Ho walks with purpose followed by Moriton in his traditional wrestling gear. He grabs a microphone from ringside and climbs into the ring, followed by his mighty stallion. He stands center stage, Moriton standing behind him askew to his right.

Mr. Ho: I’m going to cut to the chase here. That’s how you Americans say it, right? Not wasting anyone’s time here. Felix Mullen! You walking skin tag! Get out here now!

Boos rain down in the arena at the mere mention of Mullen’s name.

Mr. Ho: Don’t you DARE keep me waiting, snake! Come here and face me and my stallion like a simulacrum of a man at least!

Hold your horses, I mean, stallions.

The voice booms across the EPICENTER even though the guy who said it hasn’t emerged yet. As soon as he does, no one can hear anything but boos.

Felix Mullen: You really want to call down this thunder? Or are you just surly because you don’t want to pay me the money you’re about to hand over?

Mullen struts down to the ring with a paper in his hand.

Felix Mullen: because if you don’t hand me my money, I’m going to tell the whole world what’s in this police report.

Mr. Ho: Oh boy, can’t wait.

Scott Kamura: Ho is really nonchalant about this whole thing.

Dutch Harris: Hey, those rumors I heard didn’t exactly paint Felix in the best of lights, but I’m not sure there is a good light that can shine on that turd. I think he’s in for a rude awakening, Scott.

Mullen slides into the ring.

Felix Mullen: Can’t wait? For the world to hear about the heinous CRIMES you were involved in all those years ago?

Mr. Ho: You mean the ones I turned myself in for this week?

A murmur goes up in the crowd. Felix stands stunned, eyes wide enough to be seen from Carson City.

Mr. Ho: You see, you snake, I thought long and hard about things. And I decided that I would rather rot in an American prison cell for the rest of my days than have to deal with you for another second. But a funny thing happened when I was there. You know what they told me?

Felix: gulping You mean, uhh, they, uh, recognized you were an upstanding citizen and dropped all charges?

Mr. Ho: No. They said that the crimes happened so long ago that there was a thing called statute of limitations. You knew that. And you knew that I, a man who spent most of his time in Asian countries, brokering deals mostly for Japanese feds, wouldn’t know much about American law. So you took advantage of an old man so you could get money. I could have you turned over, arrested, but I know your types. You’ll slither out of the grasp of the police using your privilege that you hypocritically rail against on your little radio show. So I’m just going to have to do something better.

Felix gulps as he feels the hulking gravity of Moriton move from the back of Ho to the front.

Mr. Ho: My Garuda is going to take advantage of you.

Moriton moves with lightning speed, tossing Felix to the mat with a tomoe nage. Felix pops up to his feet, but Moriton is there again with a VIOLENT single leg sweep takedown. Felix staggers up to his feet once more…



Scott Kamura: Brutal.

The crowd roars as Mullen twitches on the canvas like a dead fish.

Dutch Harris: Needless to say, I think this chapter in Moriton’s career has ended.

Scott Kamura: Thankfully.


“Wolf Totem” hits on the PA again as Moriton and Ho leave the ring, but not before sneering at Mullen’s prone body. The camera cuts to another part of the EPICENTER.

#14 C.K. Butcher Vs. #10 Golden Burkhalter


Singles Match


The New Aeon’s eyes are fixed on the ring canvas.  Did that just happen?  Is CK Butcher moving on in the tournament?  His thoughts are like white noise due to the crowd’s reaction.  Even if they were cheering for him – he wouldn’t care.  He sits up and sees Butcher and the referee in the center of the ring.  Butcher’s arm is raised.  The ring announcer’s voice is muffled, but he can make out the words.


…Winner… C. K. …Butcher!


Sounds are starting to become clearer.  Louder.  Burkhalter rolls to his feet and is face to face with Butcher.  Both men have endured battle this Master of the Mat season.  For Butcher – this is about respect, and Burkhalter earned it for his strength and determination.  Burkhalter, on the other hand, is bitter and disgusted by the outcome.


Dutch Harris: These two men put on a great match and it looks as if Butcher would like to seal the deal with a handshake.


There’s a pause as Burkhalter stares at CK’s extended hand.  Joey contemplates the handshake.  The crowd is anticipating the possibility of Burkhalter clasping his hand with Butcher’s.  There are so many scenarios, and Butcher is smart enough to realize, but he takes the chance.  This could lead to Burkhalter shaking his hand, and then slamming him with some type of Judo throw.  Or, in a more desperate act of bitterness: the stiff kick to the dick.  Or, what if he actually shakes his hand?  That’s the scenario everybody wants to see.


But, the New Aeon won’t give it to them.  He definitely won’t give it to Butcher.  He smacks CK’s hand out of his way and then quickly exits the ring.  The fans boo.  Burkhalter doesn’t care.  He’s not shaking Butcher’s hand.  


Scott Kamura:  This kid will be trouble for a long time to come.  We have seen the likes of this type of persona.  Chad Kyle.  Ben Bronson.  Joey Burkhalter is on a new level.  He is his own style of shithead.


Butcher doesn’t turn around.  He’s not going to watch Burkhalter walk the ramp and exit.  He closes his eye and shakes his head.  It’s not in disbelief.  It’s mild disappointment.  But – he knew that could be a result when trying to extend the proverbial olive branch.  


What Butcher doesn’t see is what Burkhalter relishes.  The human epitome of disrespect.  He grabs his crotch and thrusts his waist toward the ring while sticking out his tongue.  CK Butcher may have won his way into the final four, but he’s easily lost the chance to cure poisoned youth.



Scene opens in the Punch Line’s locker room, a few minutes before their match against the SWARM. The room is filled with the sounds of pre-match preparations: the rustling of gear, the clinking of metal buckles, and the murmur of last-minute strategy discussions. Rick Hull, Harv Norris, and Roy Vezina are putting on their wrestling gear with determined expressions. Ryan Samuels, visibly frustrated and simmering with anger, is in the background, rummaging through Harv Norris’ bag.

Rick Hull: [Adjusting his wrist tape] Alright, boys, this is it. Time to show CICADA and LOCUST what the Punch Line is made of. We’ve trained hard for this.

Harv Norris: [Strapping on his boots] Hurdle dee pit with dee aid of a long pole. Take dee match and strike it against your shoe. (Ay, b’y, we’re gonna take ’em down. Just gotta keep our heads in the game.)

Roy Vezina: [With his usual overly positive tone] Exactly! We’ve got the skills, the strength, and the strategy. No SWARM can outmatch us when we’re on our game.

Ryan Samuels: [Knocking over a water bottle] Oops. Sorry about that…

Ryan’s apology is half-hearted as he continues to rummage through Harv’s bag, pulling out a variety of odd items: a can of sardines, a small Newfoundland flag, and a rubber chicken.

Rick Hull: [Noticing the commotion] Big guy, what are you doing over there?

Harv Norris: [Looking over] Dee stray cat gave birth to kittens? (Hey, b’y, what’s with going through my stuff?)

Ryan Samuels: [Holding up the rubber chicken] What’s all this, Harv? You got a whole circus in here.

Harv Norris: [Laughing] A brown leather bag hung from its strap. Sweet words work better than fierce. (Ay, b’y, just a few lucky charms. You never know when you might need a bit of home spirit.)

Roy Vezina: [With a condescending smile] Let’s focus, team. Ry, can you stop messing around and help us get ready?

Ryan Samuels: [Grumbling] Yeah, yeah. I’m on it.

Ryan hastily puts the items back in Harv’s bag and starts picking up the knocked-over water bottles, his frustration palpable. He moves with barely concealed irritation, his actions sharper and more forceful than necessary.

Rick Hull: [Standing up, fully geared] Alright, boys, we’re ready. Let’s go out there and give the SWARM the match of their lives.

Harv Norris: [Slapping his chest] Dee music played on while they talked. Press dee pants and sew a button on dee vest. (Aye, let’s show ‘em the heart of Newfoundland and the strength of the Punch Line.)

Roy Vezina: [Nodding] That’s the spirit! Remember, we’ve got each other’s backs out there. We’re unstoppable when we work as a unit.

Ryan stands back, glaring at the trio as they huddle together. His anger and resentment are clear as he watches them bond.

Rick Hull: [Extending his hand] For the Punch Line!

Harv Norris: [Placing his hand on top] Take dee winding path to reach dee lake! (For the Punch Line!)

Roy Vezina: [Joining in] For the Punch Line!

Ryan Samuels: [Quietly, with disdain] For the Punch Line…

The team breaks the huddle with a cheer, their spirits high and their focus sharp. Ryan picks up the remaining water bottles and hands them to the team, barely hiding his scowl.

Roy Vezina: [Patting Ryan on the back] Thanks, Ry. We know it’s not easy, but we appreciate your help.

Ryan Samuels: [Nodding curtly] Just go out there and win. That’s all that matters.

Rick Hull: [Smiling] We will. And when we do, it’ll be for all of us, including you? Right? I guess?

Roy Vezina: Oh no, no. Ry’s got a lot of work to do before he’s off the bench. Like, a lot. 

As the Punch Line finishes their preparations, Ryan crouches down behind Harv, pretending to check his gear. With a sly smile, he ties Harv’s shoelaces together.

Ryan Samuels: [Muttering to himself] Let’s see how you like this, b’y.

Harv stands up, oblivious to what Ryan has done. As he takes a step forward, he immediately trips and falls to the floor with a thud.

Harv Norris: [Falling, surprised] A flat pack takes less luggage space?! (Whoa! What the heck?!)

Rick Hull: [Rushing to help Harv up] Harv! You okay?

Roy Vezina: [Concerned but trying to stay positive] What happened?

Ryan Samuels: [Feigning innocence, hiding his smirk] Must’ve tripped over your own feet, Harv. Gotta be more careful.

Harv Norris: [Untangling his laces, grumbling] Dee man wore a feather in his felt hat. (Damn laces… Thanks, Ryan. Real helpful.)

Ryan’s smirk fades as he watches the Punch Line rally around Harv, his prank doing little to dampen their spirits. The trio heads out of the locker room, ready for their match, while Ryan lingers behind, still boiling with frustration.


The scene fades with Ryan glaring at their retreating backs, his anger simmering as he follows them out, still bound by his role despite his resentment.






She was nearly finished with her pre-match warmup routine.  Things were getting to a point where the only thing left for Madison Seton to do was watch the last couple matches prior to her own.


One of which was to include fiancee Jack Johnson.  We already heard from her earlier how much it would mean to win Master of the Mat and face off for the World Heavyweight Championship.  And she knew what the possible matchups could be for her.


Again, cue Jack Johnson.  This time as an opponent.  She couldn’t help but laugh to herself.  Not in a “funny, haha” way but as in such a delicious twist of coincidence.


Why NOT fight for real?


Jack Johnson: You know, I said this earlier in the week, but we’re not that far from squaring off, you and me.


He calls that out as he walks up behind her and gives some supportive shoulder rubs. 


Jack Johnson: And last I remember, when you and me were in the ring together, it was meeeee who won that contest.


She raises her head and closes her eyes, taking in the soothing rubbing.  She has a grin as her eyes open.  She takes Jack’s hands in hers, brings them to her mouth and kisses them before turning around.


Madison Seton: Ah, yes.  We’re playing that card.  Well, that Madison is more grown up.  Has won a championship.  And is rockin’ this fed.  Now, I’m dreaming of a you/me final… but you’re dreaming of you think you can beat me.


Her smile turns to the same brash one as earlier this evening.


Jack Johnson: Uh huh. I didn’t realize we hadn’t met. I’m Jack Johnson. Formerly El Paria. Currently the Second Son of the SHOOT Project. I don’t dream, Mads. I just achieve. 


He laughs, poking her in the side. 


Jack Johnson: And Master of the Mat 2024 sounds like my kind of achievement.


She gives a nod with that smile before gently taking his cheeks in a hand and pinching them together as she looks him right in the eyes.


Madison Seton: Not with this endgame, lover boy.  You ever have years of dreaming of being World Champ?  Of whipping your bitch sister’s ass as a reward for your hard work?


Jack Johnson: I mean, yes? Just replace sister with brother and that’s the situation. Have you been cleared? Concussion, perhaps? I can call medical.


He walks towards the door and she pulls him back, both laughing.


Jack Johnson: I’m just saying, I’ll get them if you need them.


Madison Seton: I don’t recall you ever hitting me hard enough for one of those.  You’ve run my heart pretty well during… activities… Hey, you remember what Caitlin looked like after Breanna “introduced herself” back in New York?


Jack Johnson: You thinking about that jersey pull deal that went viral? Or something else?


Madison Seton: More like the car wreck screen.


The lightbulb goes off in Jack’s head.


Jack Johnson: Ohhhh, is that what you’ve manifested your outcome to be if we square off? I’m Breanna in this scenario, right? Obviously.


Madison lets out a laugh.


Madison Seton: Okay… OH-KAY!  You’re asking for it–


She wraps him in a play headlock, which he turns into a collar-elbow tie up.  The two stay locked until a third party enters the scene. Joshua Breedlove.


Joshua Breedlove: You two… do I need to get security? You guys are hilarious. Sounds like you’re already married.


Madison and Jack immediately break away and stand at something resembling attention. This get another laugh from the former World Champion.


Breedlove: Yep, ridiculous. Stop it. At ease. I can’t believe I even just said that.


Madison Seton: Sir!  Yes, sir!


She eases up, but keeps a super-straight face.  For a few seconds.  A smile attempts to crack through, but she fights it off.  But it was enough.  Just a few more seconds pass before she busts out laughing again for a bit.


Madison Seton: Hey, could be a huge night for us tomorrow and Master of the Mat.  Like, The Empire could be the superconference of SHOOT.  A loaded Final Four in the tourney.  A chance for All-Empire for the final.  Like, this could be The Empire Invitational!


Breedlove: You guys are prepared for all options, of that I have no doubt. Y’all do your job and I’ll try to get my job done at Master of the Mat. Against your sister. 


He looks at Madison.


Breedlove: And your future sister in law.


He looks at Jack, who jokingly points at himself. Breedlove smiles.


Breedlove: Now go get it done.


Madison gives a couple stomps similar to what you find from a Soviet Russian soldier before standing at attention again.  She holds a hand to her brow in salute.


Madison Seton: On your orders, sir!  Readying to advance to Master of the Mat finals, SIR!!






The lights shine.  Again, she stands on her lonesome.  Her red and gold wrestling gear on.  The Sin City Championship again resting on the shoulder of Madison Seton.  Her expression couldn’t be show more self-confidence if she tried.  An expression bordering egotistically satisfied.


Madison Seton: Two steps.  Two more steps in two nights.  From the eight we’re at now all the way down to two by the end of tomorrow night.  All that anticipation from the front office over which of us steps it up the most, to the fans and who’s favorite makes it out still in the running…


… To us.


The actual competitors.  The actual wrestlers that are looking to take that giant BITE at the apple being held in front of us.  The chance to leap right off the competitive page and showcase why we not just deserve to be in SHOOT, but have that chance at the World Heavyweight Championship.


That prize.  The one thing every…




one of us wants!


–She gives a quick laugh, carrying a brash expression.


Madison Seton: And now I tiptoe that line.  That so fine line.  The one that separates me from being Sin City Champion and World Heavyweight Champion.  After all…


How can I be a proud Sin City Champion when I just said that everyone wants the World Heavyweight Championship?


–She nods, that look becoming further brasher as she pats the faceplate of the belt.


Madison Seton: THIS keeps me motivated.  Everyday I wake up and see THIS, I feel so FUCKING PROUD of being in SHOOT.  It shows–no–tells me that I belong.


That I’m a verifiable fucking superstar here!


I deserve a spot on this roster and I deserve to be a moneymaker here.  I deserve a spot in the ever-inclusive Empire.


THIS makes me proud when I take it to practice with the Fever.


Yeah, I really do that.


It shows I know what a championship mentality is and keeps me playing hard.  At practice, if someone, say, stuffs me or steals from me or otherwise shows me up or outdoes me?  They race to the belt and hold it high.  They get to show off that they outdid me.


You know how much that fucking sucks?  You know how much I want to whoop Caitlin Clark or Aliyah Boston’s ass when they raise my title?


And they aren’t even wrestlers.


Imagine how pissed I must get when thinking about another member of SHOOT beating me and taking my championship.



And trust me, I’m sure at least a good 90 percent of this roster would love to have that chance.  And would feel ever-accomplished to being the one to dethrone me.


So yeah, this belt is a big…






to me.  Every time I go inside the ring with it on me, I know I’ve got something special.  Something special on me.  Something special about to happen.


But I know it’s not going to last forever.  Try as I might for it.


And there’s one person that I really want to get my hands on here.


That bitch holding the World Heavyweight Championship.


My easiest path to get to her?


Become Master of the Mat!  Mistress of the Mat?  That make more sense, right?  “Mistress” for the woman?  I know all about being a “Mistress of the Mat.”



Well, anyway… 


I have quite the path in front of me just tonight in Kincaid, a more than seasoned veteran.  And what could tomorrow night bring?  Another grueling opponent.  And getting through Butcher or Burkhalter?


I may get one of those fuckfaces from HEXXX.  Or the spitfire Izzy Sia.


–She has a chuckle as she gives a friendly smirk and a wink.


Madison Seton: Or my man, Jack!  Madison Seton versus Jack Johnson!


From our bed to your wrestling ring!


I may be light-hearted right now about it, but no matter who the fuck faces me??


I’m coming in like a ball of fire.  Because the further I go in this historical tournament, the hungrier I get.  The closer I get to my sister?  Getting to be just a razor’s thin margin away from facing her?


Or whomever holds the World Heavyweight Championship?


That makes my stomach GROWL!  It makes my eyes starve seeing my name getting oh so close…


And if Laura Seton is no longer champion?


–She shrugs.


Madison Seton: Then I go up against whomever.  Maybe I get Breedlove and we show the wrestling world what The Empire brings to the world of wrestling as we put on a classic!  Maybe it’s Lindsay Troy and we put on a show of shows for the SHOOT fans to go bat shit crazy over.


Or Laura stays champion.  And I come at her…


And show her just what it’s like to be someone else’s bitch!


Kincaid tonight and another match tomorrow are my next steps.  Oh yes, I get it.  I’m not looking ahead as much as it looks like.  Breedlove and The Empire would whoop my ass if I did!  I just know what could happen.


But first?  I’m taking care of what needs to happen!



“HEX” by Dance with the Dead hits the speakers as a laughing red skull appears and begins pulsing like a beating heart over the Epicenter video feeds. However, it’s clear the Epicenter crowd is not in a laughing mood.

A white-masked figure emerges from the back and the reaction of the fans nearly overtakes the pulsating bass of HEXXX’s entrance music. The figure calmly walks down the rampway, reaching up to remove the mask and reveal the face of a stoic, but confident Ayumi Seppuku as she locks eyes with her opponent, Jack Johnson — a seemingly final bulwark standing in her mission to take down SHOOT Project’s progeny.

Dutch Harris: I can’t begin to tell you, Scott, how disappointed and if I’m being honest, furious, I am at what has become of Ayumi Seppuku. As successful as our company has been these past few years, the emergence of HEXXX has made it impossible to enjoy.

Scott Kumura: You’re absolutely right, Dutch… beginning with the attacks HEXXX perpetrated against Jack Johnson and Dan Stein all those months ago to the disappearance of Daihm Ferguson at the end of last year… not to mention the attacks Barbie Kellers and whatever happened to our colleague Moira Quirk, it has been a non-stop assault on all that is good and decent in the SHOOT Project.

Ayumi arrives at the ring but does not enter. Instead, she stands and watches as an animated Jack Johnon jaws at her from the ring — albeit keeping one eye turned to the entryway just in case any other HEXXX members decide to arrive… but none do and the music fades. Ayumi gestures for a microphone; however, the absolute vitriol of the crowd prevents Ayumi from speaking.

Ayumi Seppuku: Tonight-





Ayumi lowers the microphone and rolls her eyes, waiting for the fans to tire themselves out. She puts her arms on her hips and taps her foot, looking like a desaturated Sonic the Hedgehog, which just riles up the fans even more.

Ayumi Seppuku: I’ve got ALL fuckin’ day, folks. Keep it coming.

Jack Johnson approaches the ropes from inside the ring and points down to Ayumi, yelling something that only she can hear. She turns and laughs at her opponent.

Ayumi Seppuku: You’re just lucky I MISSED JJ. Otherwise you’d be hobbling around on a cane like that cripple Dan St-



“The Touch” by Stan Bush hits the speakers as the fans ERUPT. Ayumi and Jack both turn their attention to the top of the ramp as SHOOT’s COO, Dan Stein, emerges with a frustrated and annoyed look on his face. With microphone in hand, he wastes no time in getting down to business.

Dan Stein: Christ almighty. Will you just shut the fuck UP!?

Ayumi’s eyes grow wide and the fans, somehow, get even louder.





Ayumi violently points upwards toward the COO.

Ayumi Seppuku: You know, DAN. Ol’ buddy. I’m going to be the bigger woman this evening and not let you get under my skin. Besides… you’re just the paper pusher I wanted to see tonight…

Dan scoffs as Ayumi looks down, her demeanor softening as she seemingly struggles to get the words out.

Ayumi Seppuku: Because… well… because you’ve won. Okay? I give up. I’m ready to negotiate.

The fans, rather than cheering, fall into a confused silence. The shock on Dan Stein’s face is palpable as he tilts his head, not quite sure he heard Ayumi correctly.

Ayumi Seppuku: If you call off your bounty hunt — no matter what happens tonight or tomorrow — Daihm will be returned safe and sound before Master of the Mat.

The fans explode in cheers as Ayumi tenses up, clearly frustrated to be in this position. She paces around the floor, waiting for Stein as he slowly raises the microphone.

Dan Stein: I’ll say it one more time. SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.

Ayumi’s jaw drops as the fans explode. Jack Johnson crosses his arms with a smile on his face, but Dan coldly watches as Ayumi contorts her face in anger. He shakes his head.

Dan Stein: You don’t get to bargain with people’s lives, Ayumi, and even if you could — you’ve lost any bargaining power you may have had. We got the information off of your USB drive; not the evidence you planted for us, but the stuff buried underneath, so you don’t need to worry about handing Daihm over because our team is on the way to get him this very second. And if he has so much as a scratch on him, HEXXX will be banned from participating in ANY events that take place here in the Epicenter until further notice!

The fans explode as a furious Ayumi raises the microphone before lowering it again, appearing for the first time to truly be on her heels.

Dan Stein: See. Not so hard to keep your mouth shut is it? Now that I’ve got your attention-

Stein is cut off as the video board frantically transitions to the back of the Epicenter where we see a raging Chick Grillbreast slamming a bloodied Lars von Bremman against the wall. Chick is roaring, spittle flying in Lars’ face as he throws the HEXXX bodyguard like a rag doll to the side.

The camera operator keeps their distance as they pan over to see an already unconscious NC-17 laying prone on the floor. Chick turns violently towards the injured Lars who is breathing heavily and trying to pull himself back up to his feet. Chick gets there first and wraps Lars in a sleeperhold, leaning into the hold and yelling into Lars’ ear.

Chick Grillbreast: GIVE. ME. DAN. DRAGON!

Lars tries to resist but Chick begins to crush his windpipe. Lars’ face begins to turn red and then purple…

Lars von Bremman: …the basement… storage room….

Lars barely gets the words out, using his last ounces of air — but it’s enough and Chick drops him like a sack of bricks. Immediately turning and running away from the scene as Lars chokes, coughing and grabbing at his throat.

The camera operator chases after Chick, who moves like a gazelle on steroids, shoving everything and everyone out of his way as he speeds towards the nearest stairwell. Like a human bowling ball, Chick careens through an entire squad of detectives and SHOOT security who had been slowly and carefully descending the same stairwell.

Chick Grillbreast: I’M COMING, DAIHM! I’VE FOUND YOU!

Chick hops over the carnage, down literal flights of stairs, bounding from one landing to another as he rushes toward a massive steel door that reads “NO UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY” and the camera operator reaches the scene just in time to see Chick prying the door open purely based on strength, adrenaline, and concern for his best friend.

We see Chick step into a room awash in darkness. He looks around, waiting for his eyes to adjust as the camera operator opts to turn on night vision. The darkness cuts to a digital, grainy green color and in that feed we see a room walled with shelving, random objects tucked away on either side, but in the center is a figure sitting in a chair. His head is sagging down with vibrant red hair falling forward and covering his knees as his arms hang loosely at his side, brushing against the heavy twine that holds him against the chair.

Dutch Harris: Oh dear God…

Chick rushes forward, seeing enough — even in the darkness — to take action and begins to immediately untie the bindings. The figure looks up, woken by the commotion, and we see through the night vision the familiar, but worn and startled face of Daihm “The Dragon” Ferguson… seemingly unharmed. He looks around, eyes glowing in the reflection of the camera feed as he blinks wildly, trying to ascertain his surroundings. 


Chick works to get the ropes undone and we see them drop in a pile around the chair. Soon after, shell-shocked Daihm is pulled to his feet and into a deep embrace by his friend and tag partner.

Scott Kumura: I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it! HEXXX has finally met its match and his name is Chick Grillbreast! Fuck yes, DAIHMBREAST is ba-

We don’t see what happens, just the result.

Chick suddenly falls to his knees as Daihm slowly rises up, towering over his friend. As Chick tries to catch his breath, the crowd in the main arena of the Epicenter watches in horror as Daihm turns around to grab the chair he had just been tied to and raises it high above his head.

Dutch Harris: Oh dear God!

Daihm brings the chair down with incredible force, turning it into splinters as it connects with the shoulderblades of Chick Grillbreast! Before he steps forward, over the collapsed and unmoving body of his victim, Daihm reaches for something on a nearby shelf.

Scott Kumura: No… no no no no.

What Daihm pulls out is a familiar-looking mask with a demon design that he holds gingerly in his hand before placing it over his face and firmly securing it. 


With the mask now applied, he turns around to look at the carnage of his attack on Chick. He bends down and checks Chick’s body… but not to make sure he’s okay. Instead he grabs at the debris and pulls out a splintered chair leg! 


He holds it up, assessing the weapon, before moving forward, completely ignoring the camera operator who has bunched themselves against the wall as tightly as they can, and flips off the night vision mode as they trail Daihm Ferguson methodically making his way up the stairwell on some kind of homicidal mission.

The feed abruptly cuts back to the arena of the Epicenter and everyone except Ayumi is looking at the video feed in stunned silence. The HEXXX leader is also stunned, but can also barely seem to contain her laughter as she looks around and takes in the moment.

Ayumi Seppuku: Well shit. Wasn’t how that was supposed to happen… but I didn’t see any scratches. Did you, Danny Boy?

A shell shocked Dan Stein turns and looks at a smirking Ayumi.

Ayumi Seppuku: Looks like I held up my end of the deal after all; though while Daihm is unharmed I certainly can’t promise that of your search-and-rescue team. You may want to think about clearing the building — our little bundle of joy gets pretty cranky after waking up from his nap and it’s hard to know what he’ll do without his parents around to help him mind his manners.

Dan’s eyes grow wide.

Ayumi Seppuku: I’m sure you’ve got a long list of babysitters who are up to the task, but in the meantime…

Ayumi turns and looks at Jack Johnson.

Ayumi Seppuku: I’ve got a legacy to end.



Singles Match



Dutch Harris: We’re headed backstage, where I’m getting word that Abigail Chase is standing by with the former World Heavyweight Champion and current World Heavyweight Championship challenger, Joshua Breedlove! 


Scott Kamura: Should be interesting to hear what he has to say!


Abigail Chase stands by as Joshua Breedlove enters the frame to a decent pop from the Ruination crowd.


Abigail Chase: Josh, I gotta say, it’s weird that you’re here and back full time and that you seem unfeatured or less featured? 


Joshua Breedlove: 2022 me would be upset by that question, Abs, but 2024 me is cool with it. I’ve had the opportunity to rest, get ready for Master of the Mat, and really put my focus into helping the Empire work their way through what’s been a grueling tournament. 


Abigail Chase: On that note, you guys are one for three tonight, with the Collins Twins bowing out of the tourney, Burkhalter losing to Butcher, but Jack Johnson just advanced to the semifinals. How are you feeling about all that? 


Joshua Breedlove: I’m proud. I know, crazy. Everyone’s put in a tremendous amount of work and it’s paid off. Burkhalter and the Collins Twins are going to be harder on themselves than I could ever be on them, but we’ll go over all of it when we get back to the Sanctum. 


Abigail Chase: And any prediction for Madison and Kincaid? 


Joshua Breedlove: That’s a tough one, honestly. Madison’s a prodigy, there’s no question about that, but Kincaid is amazing too. He’s got a ton of experience, he’s also been a champion here in SHOOT before, so there’s really no telling on that one. BUT…


He pauses, Abigail waits.


Joshua Breedlove: I gotta go with my girl. Madison all the way, getting us one step closer to an all Empire final. 


Smiling, he drinks the cheers in.


Abigail Chase: Changing focuses for a moment, you’re slated to challenge for the World Championship again at Master of the Mat, but with the added element of a returning Lindsay Troy. She had some harsh commentary for you the last time we were on TV. Where are you at with all of that? 


Joshua Breedlove: Abs, I gotta tell you, I really wanted to come out here and get shitty and run her down when she was talking the shit she was talking, but instead I chose to listen and reflect. I think a lot of what she said was a little bit dated because she hasn’t really been around, but a lot of what she was saying was true too.


Abigail Chase: That’s surprising. Like what? 


Joshua Breedlove: The stuff about me gaining perspective after getting my ass kicked. She’s absolutely right about that. The reality of that situation is that after he injured me, it became important to me to stop Nate Robideau and that helped paint a picture about the rest of all of this…


He waves his hands around and the crowd gives him love for the acknowledgement as well.


Joshua Breedlove: …and so yeah, perspective was gained. All that said, am I happy that she came back here, immediately inserted her nose into my business with Laura Seton? Nah, not really, but it sure makes for compelling television, doesn’t it? 


Abigail Chase: Oh no doubt about that. 


Joshua Breedlove: So yeah. Frustration, perspective, acceptance. That’s how we’re rolling right now, with the punches, you know? I don’t know what the situation is going to be for the main event, whether it’s going to be me and Laura one more time, or if we’re going to get some triple threat action, but I’m ready for whatever Master of the Mat has to offer.


Abigail Chase: Speaking of that, we’re getting ready to head back to the ring where Madison Seton will take on Alex Kincaid for a slot in the Master of the Mat semi-finals! Thanks for your time, Josh.


Joshua Breedlove: Always, Abs. Madison all the way, baby! 




Singles Match