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Warrior’s Code

A stormy sky breaks as the first notes of “Cannon in D Minor” by Two Steps from Hell echo, the “Warrior’s Code” logo ignites with flames and energy surges as the powerful, rhythmic strings and brass of “Cannon in D Minor” swell dramatically.

 

 (Voice epic and commanding) “As the storm gathers, so do the warriors. With courage in their hearts and destiny in their hands, they step into the arena. Welcome to Warrior’s Code!”

 

 The Punchline and Ryan Samuels stride into the arena, faces set with determination, ready to clash with Johnny Patriot and CICADA in the Grudge Match

 

 “In a battle where egos collide and tensions explode, The Punchline and Ryan Samuels take on Johnny Patriot and CICADA. Witness the clash of wills in a Grudge Match of epic proportions!”

 

 Chick Grillbreast enters with flair, ready to confront NC-17 in the Premier Gauntlet

 

 “Charismatic Chick Grillbreast steps up, ready to turn the tide against the clever and calculating NC-17 in a test of wit and strength!”

 

 Jack Johnson, focused and fierce, prepares to take on NC-17 in another intense Gauntlet match

 

 “Jack Johnson, a warrior forged in fire, faces the tactical genius NC-17, battling for supremacy in the Premier Gauntlet!”

 

 Miranda DC, poised and graceful, enters the ring against NC-17, the arena lighting up with anticipation

 

 “Elegance meets intellect as Miranda DC challenges the reigning champion NC-17 in a duel that will define destiny!”

 

 The Collins Twins engaged in a gritty, no-holds-barred New York Street Fight with Long Island Hardcore

 

 “In the concrete jungle of the New York Street Fight, The Collins Twins and Long Island Hardcore unleash chaos, where every blow is a story of survival!”

 

 A frenzied montage of the Sin City Championship—Jeffrey James Roberts, Kazna Morozova, Alex Kincaid, Moriton, and Madison Seton clashing in a tumultuous battle

 

 “The stakes are higher than ever in the Sin City Championship. Five fierce competitors, one ring, no mercy!”

 

 Lucha Fitness dazzles with agility and speed, challenging the powerful and cohesive Coltons for the World Tag Team Championships

 

 “High-flying Lucha Fitness takes on the powerhouse Coltons in a dynamic clash for the World Tag Team Championships!”

 

 The intense rivalry comes to a head as Joshua Breedlove steps into the spotlight, facing off against the champion, Laura Seton, for the World Heavyweight Championship

 

 “And in the grand finale, Joshua Breedlove challenges the indomitable Laura Seton for the World Heavyweight Championship. Witness the pinnacle of power and passion!”

 

 A rapid montage of signature moves, dramatic falls, and triumphant victories, the music reaching a powerful climax

 

 “Warrior’s Code. Be part of the legacy, witness the drama, and live the glory!”

 

The event details flash across the screen—date, time, venue, and how to watch—beneath the blazing Warrior’s Code logo

 

 

Dan Stein walks down the hallway, his cane-assisted gait slightly improving each day, as preparations for Warrior’s Code get underway. He flashes a quick thumbs up to a couple of the backstage crew as heads towards his office to tidy up a few last-minute items, but is quickly intercepted by a familiar, but unwanted face.

Dan sighs.

Dan Stein: Lennox. You shouldn’t be here. And… shit, man, you look awful. What’s…

Lennox casts his eyes from side to side, frantic.

Lennox Fergsuon: You HAVE to stop this, Dan. You have to call off tonight’s matches with Seventeen.

Dan’s voice catches in his throat as he sees true, primal fear in Lennox’s eyes.

Dan Stein: What happened? Tell me! Is it Daihm?

Lennox rubs his face, the redness of his skin making his bloodshot eyes stand out even more.

Lennox Fergsuon: Just DO it, Dan! Or else!

Dan’s eyes narrow at Lennox’s tone, but he is soon catching Lennox from falling, dropping to one knee himself as his own instability keeps him from holding his colleague’s weight as he whispers in near-catatonic confusion.

Lennox Ferguson: …or else… or else… or else….

Dan Stein: Help! HELP! Medic! We need a medic here, now!

IN THE RING

HERE WE GO

The lights dim in the arena as the crowd roars in anticipation. Suddenly, the big screen lights up with a video montage showcasing the Punch Line trio: Roy Vezina, Harv Norris, and Rick Hull, clad in hockey gear, smashing pucks and body-slamming opponents in the ring. The screen fades to black, and then bursts into flames as a heavy metal version of the Canadian National Anthem blares through the speakers.

 

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the ring… THE PUNCH LINE!

 

The arena erupts into jeers as Roy Vezina, Harv Norris, and Rick Hull skate down a specially constructed ice ramp, twirling hockey sticks and trying to high-five fans along the way. Each wrestler wears customized hockey jerseys with their names emblazoned on the back.

 

The trio reaches the ring, where Roy grabs a microphone.

 

Roy Vezina: Hey, SHOOT Project! Are you ready for the biggest fight night of your lives?!

 

The crowd boo in response.

 

Roy Vezina: Introducing first, the man who keeps this team together and always hits the target, “The Canadian Shield” Harv Norris!

 

Harv flexes his muscles and points to the audience, eliciting more boos.

 

Roy Vezina: Next up, the sniper who never backs down, “Rocket” Rick Hull!

 

Rick pounds his chest and lets out a primal yell, fueling the crowd’s disdain.

 

Roy Vezina: And yours truly, the captain of this ship, “Mr. Canada” Roy Vezina!

 

The crowd chants “Go Away” as Roy raises his hands in triumph.

 

Roy Vezina: But wait, there’s more! Joining forces with us tonight, he is the meanest cowboy this side of the Mississippi…”The Midwest Nightmare” Ryan Samuels!

 

The arena darkens as the sound of thunder rumbles through the speakers. Suddenly, a lone spotlight illuminates the entrance ramp, revealing Ryan Samuels in cowboy attire, stomping towards the ring with an intense scowl on his face.

 

Roy Vezina looks slightly nervous as Ryan enters the ring, but the trio of hockey bros welcome him with open arms, all smiles.

 

Roy Vezina: Tonight, we’re not just here to win; we’re here to show the world what happens when you mess with the Punch Line! So Johnny Pots-and-Pans, CICADA, get out here and face us like real men! Or are you a bunch of hosers, eh?

 

The crowd goes to town booing the group as the Punch Line and the Midwest Nightmare stand tall in the ring. The crowd shifts to cheers as the American flag takes over the SHOOTron and “The Star Spangled Banner” hits over the PA. Johnny Patriot walks out, a more intense look in his eyes and in his step than what he the SHOOT Project faithful are used to. He simply walks to the top of the ramp and points a finger at the ring. Ryan Samuels flips him off as the Punch Line mocks him. 

 

Eryk Masters: The crowd is READY for Johnny Patriot to get some semblance of revenge against Roy Vezina’s group.

 

Jason Johnson: But can Johnny and his partner overco-

 

The lights…go…OUT! The crowd gets pumped.

 

OH

 

The lights come back up. CICADA stands next to Johnny Patriot. The Punch Line isn’t as animated, but they still taunt Johnny and CICADA. Ryan, however, has fallen silent. CICADA and Johnny look each other in the eye before CICADA places his head against Johnny’s head and places his hand behind Johnny’s head. Johnny mimics the gesture and both me look into each other’s eyes. They embrace, ready to go.

 

Jason Johnson: Listen, yeah, CICADA is intimidating and has been dominant in almost every performance he’s had in SHOOT, and Johnny Patriot is a certified legend, but 3 on 2 is still 3 on 2. 

 

Johnny turns to walk to the ring, but CICADA places his hand on Johnny’s shoulder, holding him back. Johnny turns, confused, but CICADA points to the SHOOTron. As they both stare at the screen, it comes to life, revealing…

 

A voice hits comes over the PA. It is robotic and distorted, much like The Speaker’s voice, but this version has a female tone.

 

The Speaker: SWARM has arrived. The lands will be picked clean.

 

M̴̧̭̭̜̳̅̌̐͆͆͘ị̸̢̨̹̪̪͖̍̌̓͞s̼̹̈̈́̏̈̏t̩̦̠̝̯͔̬̭͌͆͠a̠͉͓̞̓̐̈͊͘k̴̺̯͔͖̓̍́͘͟ë̢͓̝͉̹̮̽͒͒̃̆s̲̤̬̩̓̀ ̵̧̦̖̘̒̂͘ͅw̺͔̫̑̓̌͑ȅ͙̪̱̣͂̋͟ͅr̫̳͖͚͊̑̊̋̊͘̕͏ḙ̴͍̺̭̟̻͂̀̂ ̯͎̫̬̀͋̍̒m̸̸̡̮̱͈̘̖̫͙̿̈́å̜̭̠̮̱̀͢ͅd̳̱͕͉̿̓̔ė̶̸̬̙̘̺,̢̗̘̍̒̎̒͊ ̢̛̘͍̘̒͒̔̓͑̚̚R̶̝͚̤͇̖͐͊̉̀y̛̤̩̝̼̖̼̋͋͂a̟̞̩͎͚̙̍̑͒̉͒n̪̺͎̖̊̅͘ͅ.̷̶̢͙̹̙̙̻̟͕͈̕

 

 

 

 

Run

Run

Run mother fucker, Run!

As the lights come back on and “Streaker” by TOBACCO plays over the PA, a man stands at the top of the ramp. He wears a white body suit and black tights. On his chest is a blue locust outlined in gold. His mask is white, no opening for the mouth, with black over the eyes. His eyes have blue tears running down them and the forehead has the same locust logo as the shirt. 

 

The Speaker: LOCUST has arrived.

 

The crowd pops as CICADA and LOCUST lock eyes. LOCUST is significantly shorter than CICADA, but they both stand face to face. LOCUST slaps CICADA. CICADA slaps LOCUST. They trade these slaps for a moment before going forehead to forehead. They then turn, both men holding their arms out as they begin to walk to the ring with Johnny Patriot. The camera cuts to the ring, where Ryan, Harv, and Rick look nervous as Roy Vezina freaks out.

 

Eryk Masters: Looks like we’ve got a new debut and an even match! Here we go!

Backstage

MEMENTO

The cameras cut to the parking garage– and the crowd begins to boo in outrage at what they see. Lars Von Bremen is leaned up against the passenger side of a purple box chevy, talking to somebody through the window. We can’t quite make out who it is…the windows are tinted a shade of midnight…but we can see the cherry of a cigarello light up like a street lamp, glowing in the shadows.

 

Lars Von Bremen: They’re both here, in the building.

 

Lars takes another long drag, exhaling like a dragon’s breath.

 

Lars Von Bremen: You can’t blame yourself for these…betrayals. 

 

There’s a familiar low growl over the gentle sputtering of the Chevy…the unmistakable gravel of Premier Champion NC-17. The Epicenter erupts with even LOUDER disapproval; they can’t STAND this guy.

 

NC-17: You’re right, Lars. And I don’t. But I gotta fix ‘em regardless. We gave ‘em fair warning.

 

Lars Von Bremen: You’re far more patient than I. 

 

The camera pans around to the windshield, where we finally get a shot of our agitator. NC-17 is in a tracksuit and oversized sunglasses; he looks higher than a kite, and no, he’s not just high on life. The dude is SKITTERED and the crowd is sounding off. He sniffles.

 

NC-17: Go ahead and take care of ‘em.

 

Lars nonchalantly flicks a piece of lint off his shoulder.

 

Lars Von Bremen: I thought you’d never ask.

 

The big man pats the car and starts to trudge off. He stops when NC-17 beckons his name.

 

NC-17: And Lars? Make sure you give ‘em a memento. Somethin’ to remember good ol’ NC-Seventeen.

 

The Chevy lurches forward and out of its parking space, driving past Lars and leaving the audience at Warrior’s Code to wonder what it was they just witnessed.



RINGSIDE

4 WITH A CHAMPIONSHIP

Our cameras take us back to ringside at Warriors Code where Alex Kincaid is standing in the ring. He walks around to the cheers of the fans, and for a minute the edges of his lips twitch as he realizes this audience in particular…has missed him. There’s a small chant of his name somewhere in the southwest section of the crowd and he leans against the ropes, staring out into them. The chant grows. Not enough to take over the whole arena but enough to make him finally crack into a full wide grin. He walks away from the ropes, nodding to himself as he collects a microphone from a ringside technician and addresses the match.



Kincaid: Well, that’s flattering isn’t it? I’ve spent a lot of time in my career acting like I’m above that but..I’m not. I’m just not. I hear that and my heart just pounds like a hammer in my chest. Because I didn’t think I’d hear it again. I thought I was gone. When I walked away, I made the choice to give up that sound, to give up this feeling…all that. Yeah. I certainly didn’t think I’d ever get the opportunity to stand in a building like this again and hear the people cheer for me before I get to go down to the ring and compete for another title match. The Sin City Championship seemed like an impossibility. A dream of a dream, something that I would never get near. When I came back and I looked around at our title scene I thought…god, imagine if I managed to become a champion again. But it was never going to happen, was it?



A little grin again at the audience. A smattering of cheers again.



Kincaid: To walk into a place like this with no record, that’s one of the most challenging things in the world. One of. Maybe not the most. Now, walking in here with no trust from your coworkers. Walking in here when no one believes in you…that’s harder. But here I am, back, and you know there’s a lot of guys who call themselves old school right? Just come out and do the work. Don’t sell yourself. Don’t engage in the pageantry. All of that. Now, maybe I’m not old school but I sure as hell get that attitude so all Alex Kincaid has to do is point….at the scoreboard. And you know what the scoreboard says, SHOOT Project fans? It says 3 and Nothing. Someone back there said, if you give him a chance and you let him spread his wings he’s going to fly above everything and SHOOT let me do it. You put me in there against super athletes, monsters, hell two monsters at the same time and who walked out with the W? The surprise. The spanner in the works. The Complication.



He turns to the camera with his last words and holds up a finger, pointing it to his face as his expression darkens.



Kincaid: I wanted to come out here tonight because every once in a while even I need a reminder of what this is supposed to be. Morozova, Roberts, Seton…Moriton…those are a lot of big hills to climb. That’s what it would take to walk out of this place with the Sin City Championship, how am I supposed to pull that off? You want to know a secret? I have no idea how I’m going to pull this off. And it used to be that when Alex Kincaid hit the ring without a plan, if Alex Kincaid walked into an arena and he hadn’t thought about how he’d broken down his opponents the work would feel half done. I would feel myself at a disadvantage. The truth is, when you’re one of those guys, when you’re a ‘Ohhh I get in peoples heads before the contest blah blah blah’ you know what’s fun? The ready made excuses. Knowing that, if you fail, it wasn’t because you weren’t a good enough wrestler that night. You just didn’t do enough. It took me walking away to remember where I am. To remember what we do-



He heads toward a corner of the ring, pointing downward to the trademark SHOOT Project Helmet. He stares down the camera, growling out a single word.



Kincaid: Here.



That’s enough to get the people even louder as he stalks back to the middle of the ring. He wipes his hand over his mouth, the emotion rising as he continues.



Kincaid: That name, that NAME. SHOOT Project. I’ve always liked that name. You know, it’s 2024 a lot of people think they understand what a word like that means. I don’t think you do, but that’s neither here nor there. What matters is what we’re trying to tell you: This is real here. This is a place where great athletes give up something real, where we sacrifice our lives to you three seconds at a time to try and make ourselves into legends and for so long I have bounced around this industry screaming that it needed to be better to be worthy of me when the truth was…I was never worthy of IT. And I don’t know what happens tonight, I don’t know what happens when I get in there with a pile of wrestlers who could take me to my limit on any given night. My first night here, I told you I would win. Because I knew I would. Since then, I’ve told you I would TRY. And I have. I have fought for you harder than I ever have in my life and I have earned my way to this opportunity…like I never have before, I-



His voice cracks for a second. He looks furious at himself, embarrassed for a moment and there’s even a little bit of laughter in the crowd. This section of this crowd is quickly shouted down. From that strange, little southwest corner of the building his name rises again. He notices it, raising an eyebrow quizzically and playfully looking back over his shoulder toward them. When he finally turns to them they cheer mightily and he smiles, grateful they’ve bailed him out as he continues.



Kincaid: I have been a champion before in this company. And I squandered it. I wasted the chance to be what I knew I could be. I didn’t understand the power, the immense privilege, the very dream I held in my hands. And I cannot, cannot, CANNOT go through this life knowing that that was the legacy I left in the greatest company in the industry. This place is different, this place has always been built by a few very special people who knew they wanted to give us something special and…and I hate that what I am known for here is all the times I decided to walk away from it. Tonight, 3 and Nothing becomes 4 With A Championship! Tonight, I don’t care if I have to rip a certain someones dumb looking topknot clear out of their head to make them understand, I will not be conquered! Tonights championship has been EARNED and goddamnit, for once in SHOOT Project I will walk out of thi sbuilding holding it proudly!



He slams the microphone down and shouts out at the now cheering crowd. He climbs to the middle buckle, shouting defiantly for all who can hear him. His statement is made, marked by hundreds of cheering fans he once despised who now seem fully behind him.



POST MATCH

ESCALATION

NC-17 rolls to the outside of the ring, away from Chick Grilllbreast, as the crowd boos the fighter viciously. He makes a bee line for time keeper Dennis Heflin and yanks a microphone out of the man’s hands.

Seventeen watches out of the corner of his eye as a still-furious Chick begins to make his way through the ropes towards the Premier Champion.

NC-17: Nah nah nah Big boy. You had your turn. Back the fuck up.

Chick does not back the fuck up, instead he screams something at Seventeen and continues to make his way toward the outside of the ring, ready to pursue his quarry.

NC-17: HEY! HEY! You want to save Daihm, yeah? Your precious Dan Dragon!? Back up. NOW. Or I give the order to END HIM.

Seventeen holds up his free hand, almost daring Chick to come closer. This time, the muscular fighter stays put and the Premier champion smiles confidently, his eyes now turning toward the rampway.

NC-17: THAT GOES FOR YOU TOO, STEIN! You want Daihm back then stop this, right now!

The crowd waits with baited breath as Seventeen points confidently towards the top of the rampway…

YOU’VE GOT THE TOUCH!
YOU’VE GOT THE POWWWWWEEER!

After several seconds of waiting, “The Touch” by Stan Bush hits the speakers and the crowd goes wild for the SHOOT Project COO as he emerges from the back with a stern look on his face and microphone in hand.

Dan Stein: Excuse me. I don’t think you’re in any position to be making demands of anybody, Seventeen. And quite frankly I’m sick and tired of hearing your voice so why don’t you just shut the FUCK up!

NC-17 looks bewildered and almost nervous as the fans erupt.

SHUT THE FUCK UP! CLAP CLAP CLAP!
SHUT THE FUCK UP! CLAP CLAP CLAP!
SHUT THE FUCK UP! CLAP CLAP CLAP!

NC-17: How dare-

Dan Stein: Did I STUTTER? SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.

SHUT THE FUCK UP! CLAP CLAP CLAP!
SHUT THE FUCK UP! CLAP CLAP CLAP!

Dan Stein: Fact of the matter is, Seventeen, I know you aren’t smart enough or capable enough to have orchestrated this campaign by yourself, so one of those other two masked freaks you have at your side is calling the shots and I want to know who they are. I WANT TO KNOW WHO THE BASTARD IS THAT ENDED MY IN-RING CAREER!

The fans are on their feet for Stein as NC-17’s glare burns a hole into Dan, but he doesn’t raise his mic. His arms are frozen at his side.

Dan Stein: Just like I thought. You’re someone else’s bitch. Always have been. ALWAYS WILL BE. And so, tonight you get to be my bitch too.

NC-17’s eyes go wide.

Dan Stein: Not only are you going to still fight Jack and Miranda tonight, Seventeen, but I’m putting your title on the line in your final match of the night!

The fans erupt as NC-17 begins to throw his hands up in anger and paces around the outside of the ring in frustration, but then stops suddenly and laughs to himself, as if concocting a scheme.

Dan Stein: And just because I know you’re the kind of slimeball who would count himself out to hold on to the title, not only is your match a no-count out, no-disqualifications match for the title, but if you walk away -— even if you’re injured. Even if Jack Johnson beats you within an inch of your life and you’ve got to be held up Weekend and Bernies style — you will FORFEIT the title and be FORBIDDEN from holding ANY title in this company as long as I have a say in the matter.

NC-17’s smirking face turns sour as all the color drains from his face and he staggers backwards in shock. Meanwhile, the crowd is absolutely loving it.

Dan looks sternly down at Seventeen.

Dan Stein: As they say, no rest for the wicked, Seventeen. Get ready for your next opponent… JACK JOHNSON!

 

Immediately “On Tap” by Coast Contra hits the speakers and the crowd erupts as a confident-looking Jack Johnson emerges from behind Dan Stein with a microphone in hand. Rather than walk down the rampway toward the ring, Jack lets the music fade out.

Jack raises the mic to his lips and, as he does, he ignores NC-17 and instead looks over to Dan.

Jack Johnson: Thanks for the introduction, Dan. And… thank you for giving me this opportunity to avenge the actions taken on me and my brother Jamie, who I am happy to say is making a speedy recovery.

 

The fans cheer for Jamie’s health as Jack holds up his hand to cut them off.

Jack Johnson: But this is also a chance to right a wrong that took place six months ago when you and I were facing off in the main event of Revolution 198. The night you— WE were attacked by a fucking COWARD hiding behind a mask.

Jack turns his attention to NC-17 and begins to slowly walk down the rampway.

Jack Johnson: And right now I don’t give a single shit about this piece of trash as my opponent, because the only thing I care about is getting my hands on whoever is fucking behind this bullshit!

NC-17 begins to back up, nervously, as Jack approaches.

Jack Johnson: But until this jackass here tells us who exactly that is, then I guess Chick and I are going to have to beat the information out of him!

Jack drops the microphone and prepares sprint down the remainder of the ramp when-

 

Jason Johnson: OH FUCK!
Eryk Masters: NO!

The crowd roars in shock, causing Jack to turn around and see two masked figures, one in white and one in black, standing over an incapacitated Dan Stein!

Eryk Masters: Where did they come from, Jason?! I wasn’t watching!

Jason Johnson: I don’t… I don’t know!

The crowd is raining down boos as Jack’s expression turns from confusion to anger. He screams with rage and turns his attention away from NC-17 and sprints at full speed back up the rampway towards the two masked figures.

Eryk Masters: Jack Johnson is a man possessed! He’s got his sights set on solving… or should I say RESOLVING this mystery once and for all!

Jason Johnson: He’s got to get to them first, though, Eryk! They are already high-tailing out there, leaving an unconscious and possibly re-injured Dan Stein at the top of the rampway!

Just as Jack reaches the midway point of the rampway, Chick Grillbreast has also turned his attention to the two masked figures and is joining Jack Johnson in his pursuit! The pair run at full speed up the ramp, jumping over the injured Stein, trying to catch up with the masked figures!

Security begins to swarm in now from the sides, trying to attend to the SHOOT COO and get him support. As the ring clears, a confident, cocky NC-17 laughs and shakes his head before flipping off the fans in front of him. 


The crowd boos as Seventeen goes over to grab his Premier Championship, slinging it over his shoulder, and prepares to leave until  the first notes of “Lexapro” by VOIID hit the speakers!

Eryk Masters: NOT SO FAST! MIRANDA’S HERE! MIRANDA’S HERE!

NC-17 turns in surprise, almost forgetting in the chaos that he still has another match to complete!

Jason Johnson: INDEED SHE IS, ERYK! And per our COO, this match is NO DQ! NO COUNTOUT! If NC-17 runs, then he forfeits his title and is BARRED from holding any other title in the future! One way or the other, these two are going to settle their months-long feud here tonight!

Miranda bends down to check on the recovering Dan Stein as he’s helped to the back by security before pointing directly at NC-17 and then running a thumb across her throat!

Seventeen sets his title down and rolls back into the ring, cracking his knuckles as his final opponent of the evening slides under the bottom rope and into the ring!

POST MATCH

WHY!?

An exhausted Miranda DC looks out into the crowd, who are all cheering her name, as she is handed the Premier Championship.

 

Jason Johnson: Thank goodness! I am so glad I don’t have to say “SHOOT Project Premier Champion NC-17” any longer!

Eryk Masters: You and me both, Jason! And Miranda looks pretty pleased herself, stepping over the body of her opponent to show off her new belt to the crowd!

The new Premier Champion slaps the flat part of her new belt confidently, raising her arms in victory, just as a strumming guitar riff hits the speakers and the opening lines of “Hey Man, Nice Shot” by Filter hit the speakers!

Jason Johnson: By God, Eryk, that’s Lennox Ferguson’s music!

Eryk Masters: By God, you’re right!

A confused Miranda DC turns around to see the SHOOT Project Chief of Staff walking side-by-side with bandaged-up Dan Stein, the pair making their way to the ring. The fans roar in approval of seeing that Stein is feeling better, but Miranda is arguably a bit miffed at the pair’s arrival.

Dan Stein: I’m sorry, Miranda, for ruining your moment here tonight. But I think you can understand that we have words for your opponent now that his punishment is complete…

The fans roar as NC-17 begins to stir back to life and Miranda sidesteps the scene, letting Dan and Lennox step into the ring. Dan and Lennox flank the recovering ex-champion, who is scrambling to pull himself up on the ropes, looking groggily for an exit.

Dan Stein: Not this time, Seventeen. It’s time we got some answers! Who is behind this? Who are-

Lennox Ferguson: WHERE IS MY SON!? DAMMIT!?

Lennox yanks the microphone from Dan’s hand and gets into NC-17’s face, causing Dan to recoil slightly. Seventeen simply smirks and shakes his head, mouthing something to Lennox who rears back and SLAPS THE FIGHTER ACROSS THE FACE!

Seventeen recoils backwards, stumbling as Dan tries to step in between the two.

Lennox Fergsuon: YOU SON OF A BITCH! I DID EVERYTHING YOU ASKED! EVERYTHING!

Jason Johnson: Wait…

Eryk Masters: What did he just say?

Dan’s expression turns to bewilderment as his full attention is now on Lennox, whose fuming rage is focused solely on NC-17.

Lennox Fergsuon: YOU PROMISED IF I KEPT THEM AWAY… IF I LET YOU GO AFTER JOHNSON’S KIDS YOU WOULD PROTECT MINE!

Dan Stein and the rest of the arena is in stunned shock as the SHOOT Chief of Staff continues, his voice high pitched and choking back emotion:

Lennox Fergsuon: YOU PROMISED AND MY SON ISN’T HERE! WHERE IS HE!? GIVE HIM BACK GODDAMMIT!

 

BLACK. 

 

The arena goes dark, causing the fans to snap out of their stunned silence. A high-pitched audio signal blasts over the speakers and static explodes onto each of the screens around the arena. 

 

Jason Johnson: Oh Christ, not again!

After several seconds of static, the feed cuts now to bars and tone, which slowly begin to drain of color and the tone itself becomes warbly, almost like a scream as a demon mask emerges:

 



Eryk Masters: What the fuck is that!?

The image vanishes as quickly as it appears; it’s hard to even process before the lights in the arena come back on and suddenly Dan Stein and Lennox Ferguson are flanked by the two masked figures who attacked Dan earlier — one in all black and one in all white.

Jason Johnson: This isn’t good, Eryk! It’s three on one! Miranda, get back here!

Eryk Masters: It looks like they’re ready for a fight and LENNOX IS GOING TO GIVE IT TO THEM! LENNOX HAS SNAPPED!

Lennox drops the microphone at the sight of the masked figures and IMMEDIATELY lays into the one to his right, wearing white, but he whiffs on his punch and staggers, giving both masked figures an opening, which they take and DOUBLE SUPERKICK TO LENNOX’S HEAD!

Jason Johnson: OH GOD THEY’VE KILLED HIM!

The SHOOT Project Chief of Staff drops like a sack of bricks just in time for Miranda DC to return to the ring, but she’s intercepted quickly by NC-17 and the white masked figure! The Premier Champion is trapped and restrained as the black-masked figure looks up from Lennox’s limp body and at Dan Stein.

Eryk Masters: Oh shit. This is not good. NOT GOOD!

Jason Johnson: Get out of there Dan!

Rather than retreating, the SHOOT Project COO bends down and grabs the microphone. Despite his injuries, despite the situation, he seems irrationally calm standing face to face with the very monster who ended his career six months ago.

Dan Stein: So. This is it, hmmm? Come to finish what you started?

The masked figure nods affirmatively, taking a step forward towards Dan, who does not retreat. Instead he looks almost… mournful.

 

Eryk Masters: What is he doing!?

Dan Stein: I see… I had my suspicions. But to see it here and now I can’t believe I missed it for so long. I can’t believe you were here, under our noses this entire time…

Jason Johnson: I have no idea what is going on, Eryk, but does Dan Stein have a death wish!?

Dan Stein: But before you end my life, just like you ended my career, I just want to hear it…

The masked figure takes another step forward and nearly on top of Dan Stein.

Dan Stein: I want to hear why! WHY AYUMI, WHY!?

With those words, the air is sucked from the entire arena and you could hear a pin drop. The raucous fans go absolutely silent as the COO, firm in his words and his intent, points at the masked figure wearing black.

Dan Stein: You owe me… you OWE everyone at least that much.

Eryk Masters: No… I refuse to believe this. This can’t be…

With a simple motion, a black gloved hand reaches upwards and the masked figure is masked no longer as Dan Stein and the entire SHOOT Project fan base sees Ayumi Seppuku drop her facial covering and lets it fall to the ground before slowly clapping, mocking Dan Stein who just looks absolutely heartbroken.

Jason Johnson: I… what the FUCK is happening? This… this is…

Eryk Masters: This has to be some sort of mistake, right? Like… it’s AYUMI. Why in the world would she be behind this!?

Dan’s previously calm demeanor boils over as he visibility tenses up, raising his cane to point at Ayumi, gesturing wildly.

Dan Stein: I knew you were angry, Ayumi… but this? YOU’RE A MONSTER!

The previously stunned crowd ERUPTS at Dan Stein’s words, and Ayumi erupts as well! She lunged forward, crushing Dan Stein’s windpipe with one arm! She lifts the Hall of Fame wrestler up off the mat with a feat of INCREDIBLE strength as she uses her free hand to snag the microphone away from Dan’s hand and brings it up to her lips, speaking not in the broken, raspy voice she has been using since her public return, but the smooth and powerful voice she has been known for since she came back to SHOOT Project three years ago.

Ayumi Seppuku: YOU’RE DAMNED RIGHT! A MONSTER OF YOUR OWN MAKING!

The crowd shouts Ayumi down with so much heat it could keep a family of four comfortable all winter! She tightens her grip on Dan’s throat and you can even hear through the microphone portions of the COO’s larynx begin to fracture, sickening cracking sounds echoing over the roar of the crowd.

 

Ayumi Seppku: WHY DAN!? THE FACT THAT YOU EVEN HAVE TO ASK SHOWS JUST WHAT SIDE YOU ARE ON! You and your PERFECT family. You and your ability to just fail upward. You’re everything fucking WRONG with this company, Dan, and as far as I’m concerned you and everyone else like you should FUCKING ROT!

The fans boo Ayumi mercilessly, but she is focused only on Dan, whose face begins to turn blue.

 

Ayumi Seppuku: All I ever wanted was to be accepted for who I am… but that was too much for you. Too much for SHOOT. Too much for these so-called FANS.

The fans boo Ayumi mercilessly.

Ayumi Seppuku: You built me up to be a hero and then chewed me up and spit me out when I made you think a bit too hard about who and what I am. And all it took was an accident to try and get rid of me for good. So, YES, Dan, I am here to finish what I started because the ONLY thing I regret standing here right now that I didn’t beat the shit out of Molly and prevent another WASPY, Captain America mother fucker from being bor-

Ayumi drops a gasping Dan Stein to the mat as she sees JACK JOHNSON vaulting over the barricades from the crowd —making a bee line for the ring! Miranda DC uses the confusion to break free from NC-17 and the other masked figure, throwing haymakers left and right!

Eryk Masters: Jack Johnson’s here! Let’s go!

Jason Johnson: Fuck yeah!

Jack gestures for a microphone and snags one out of the air.

Jack Johnson: I fucking KNEW it.

The crowd roars in approval as Jack takes an attack stance.

Jack Johnson: Any last words before I finish what the Carolina Lions started and put you permanently in a hospital bed, sucking out of a straw?!

Ayumi sneers at Jack.

Ayumi Seppuku: Yeah. Once I finish with the Steins I’m coming after your crotch fruit and gold digging whore next!

Jack Johnson screams and launches himself violently at Ayumi! The two exchange blows back and forth. Meanwhile, NC-17 and the other masked figure have regained their advantage over Miranda DC! It’s chaos on the ring as now CHICK GRILLBREAST IS RUNNING DOWN THE RAMPWAY!

NC-17 yells something to his allies as Ayumi hip tosses Jack Johnson over an extended knee and backs up towards the ropes! The three figures gather together as now Chick Grillbreast, Jack Johnson, and Miranda DC stand opposite! Dan Stein and Lennox Ferguson are both down for the count as the trio of Chick, Jack, and Miranda advance forward but just as quickly as they do, the three members of the masked terrorist group scatter, each choosing a different side of the ring to exit under the bottom rope!

Jack immediately bolts out of the ring, following Ayumi through the crowd as Miranda chases after NC-17 and Chick takes the remaining fighter as they each run a different direction, trying to escape! The fans are rabid as the scene in the ring remains one of devastating physical damage to two of SHOOT Project’s leadership.

Eryk Masters: The cowards are running away! Stay and fight, assholes!

Jason Johnson: We also need medical attention Eryk! Let’s cut to the back and try and regain some control of the situation. There’s still a LOT more action left to go this evening!

PROMOTIONAL VIDEO

THE NEW...

The Ace Network app’s welcome screen hits the television and wastes no time fading into its library of content split into halves. The blue and white of PRIME and the black and white of SHOOT Project, their dueling logos shifting to gain control of the screen as the viewer struggles with their decision. One or the other. Two parts, one “unified” whole. Until the one holding the remote swipes right. Another few button presses and a video pops on. The contents of it are unimportant.

 

(mostly)

 

The camera slowly begins to zoom out. The first thing we notice is that it’s not the normal flat screens we’re gotten used to having. But a heavy as all hell, bulb lit, CRT monitor with knobs that glimmer slightly in the harsh neon lighting. This thing is clearly on its last legs and not meant for streaming in the least. That’s okay, though. It has plenty of replacements. Zooming out even farther reveals televisions of every shape, size, era, and dimension covering a wall from the floor to the ceiling. Each screen has a different promotion from a different part of the world on it. Count all the stars in the sky and you get perhaps a fraction of what’s out there.

 

Static. The back of a big leather chair watching everything. Or at least trying to. The noise from so many speakers going on at once is enough to drive a person mad. It is an electric buzz of various voices trying to call action. Talk trash. Cheer. It’s all a mess, all a part of the great puzzle of the “sport”.

 

And Kincaid from o–

 

The screen…is paused. All of them are. Suddenly all the color is gone. A dainty hand from the black chair reaches for a bottle of Jack Daniels. Slowly, the dainty fingers open the bottle and pours the booze into a glass. On the rocks. The figure with the hand fluctuates. Blonde. Brunette. Wax body. Flesh body. Pixel body? She doesn’t seem bothered by the shifting. Eyes shift from the drink to the screens. The liquid is downed quickly. And in the neo-noir twilight, there’s a heavy sigh.

 

Anna Daniels: Fuck it. What’s one more?

 

One more what? Muse and Multitudes don’t say. She just points the remote to the camera and turns it off.

The voice of Samantha Coil rings over the PA, and the crowd already knows what’s about to happen.

Samantha Coil: The following contest is a New York Streetfight! There are no tags, no disqualifications, and falls count anywhere!

 

Eryk Masters: The arena is just electric right now, Jason… this is a fight that’s been nearly 15 years in the making.

 

Jason Johnson: It’s a callback to a time when SHOOT Project’s tag division was incredibly hot, Eryk… the Flying Avengers, Long Island Hardcore, the Collins Twins, TRES BIEN, and the Bad Ass Brotherhood, mixing it up in banger after banger, and this one appears to be no different.

 

Feedback from an amplifier. Repetitive strumming. Bagpipes. The fans quickly pick up on the beat and begin to clap their hands to “The Boys are Back” by Dropkick Murphys.

 

 

 

THE BOYS ARE BACK!

 

 

 

THE BOYS ARE BACK!

 

 

 

THE BOYS ARE BACK AND THEY’RE LOOKING FOR TROUBLE!

 

 

 

THE BOYS ARE BACK!

 

 

 

THE BOYS ARE BACK!

 

 

 

THE BOYS ARE BACK AND THEY’RE LOOKING FOR TROUBLE!



A green spotlight shines down on the hooded figure of Michael Collins, holding a barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat!

 

An orange spotlight lands on Rowland, dual-wielding kendo sticks!

 

As the white spotlight engulfs both of them, they fling their hoods back to the roar of the crowd!

 

Samantha Coil: Introducing first, from County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Michael and Rowland Collins, the COLLLLLLLINS TWIIIINS!

 

Eryk Masters: The Collins Twins came ready for carnage, Jason!

 

Jason Johnson: And rightfully so! The ringside area is already littered with implements of violence, Eryk. This one is going to be a bloodbath, no question.

 

Michael and Rowland, both in their hooded vests and jeans, circle the ring, admiring the arsenal spread at their feet, before rolling inside, champing at the bit to get at their old rivals. Michael leans over the ropes, pointing the bat at the entranceway, as the lights go out.

 

Pyro fires off three times, sending sparks in the shape of an X across the stage. The thrumming bassline of Thin Lizzy’s “Bad Reputation” pounds through the arena!

 

Samantha Coil: And their opponents, from Westhampton Beach, NY, CJ Nelson and Jolene Walsh, LOOOOONG ISLAAAAAAAND HAAAAAAARDCOOOORE!

 

The crowd goes insane as CJ Nelson and Jolene Walsh step through onto the stage! CJ’s in a white Vice Squad t-shirt, jeans, and motorcycle boots, while Jolene has on a cropped “Three Wipo Moon” shirt over her powder-blue trunks with fishnets! CJ holds his hand up, letting a metal chain drop down, while Jared has a plastic bat with what looks like halves of beer cans attached to it! Michael and Rowland are leaning against the ropes, spitting metaphorical fire as the two make their way down the ramp!

 

Eryk Masters: Jolene Walsh showing some creativity with the weapons today, I can only imagine the lacerations that thing could cause.

 

Jason Johnson: I’m not trying to downplay the danger of Long Island Hardcore in a match like this, but it’s important to note this is the first time they’re working as a team since… what, EWA’s From the Ashes back in 2015?

 

Eryk Masters: You and I both know, Jason, that these two are a well-oiled machine. I don’t think even two decades would be able to change that.

Jason Johnson: This would be a terrible match to find out that’s not the case.

 

The pair slide in the ring, and IMMEDIATELY Rowland and Michael start laying boots into them! CJ and Jolene drop their weapons, but Rowland and Michael don’t! Rowland slams both kendo sticks across Jolene’s back, dropping her to the mat, while Michael jams the end of the bat into CJ’s gut, doubling him over! Michael tries to rake the barbed wire across CJ’s forehead, but a big burly arm holds it at bay! Michael grabs him in a side headlock, but that may have been a mistake! CJ stands, and tosses Michael like a sack of potatoes, the bat going flying out of the ring!

 

Meanwhile, Rowland continues to slam the kendo sticks down on Jolene’s back alternating shots with loud cracks! Welts are already starting to rise! Rowland turns just in time to get speared to the mat by CJ! He starts throwing hammer fists into Rowland’s face as Jolene gets back to her feet! Jolene shakes off the pain next to the ropes– clothesline from Michael, and they both fall to the floor!

 

Eryk Masters: Clearly no time wasted from these teams here!

 

Jason Johnson: If you don’t start off strong with either of these teams, you’re only hurting yourself.

 

Rowland is the first to get up, and he sends Jolene HARD into the ring steps! In the ring, Michael manages to jab a thumb into CJ’s good eye driving him off, and blinding the big man! CJ steps back a bit, and Michael comes off the ropes with a front face dropkick that staggers the big man! He rolls away, getting on CJ’s blind(er) side and flies off the ropes once again dropping him to the mat with a bulldog!

 

On the outside, Jolene is trying to get her bearings, but Rowland has been a force of nature! She gets on her hands and knees, and Rowland sends a boot square to the face! She leans against the steps, and Rowland rushes her, SLAMMING his hips into her face, knocking the top half of the steps out of alignment! Jolene flops on the floor, holding her face!

 

Rowland notes a burlap sack under the top step!

 

Jason Johnson: Rowland just found a present, Eryk!

 

Eryk Masters: There is nothing good that comes out of a burlap sack in one of these matches.

 

Jason Johnson: That really depends on your perspective. For the audience? It’s GREAT.

 

He flings the top step aside, reaching into the bag, and pulling out skewers! He holds them up to an excited roar from the bloodthirsty crowd, and stands over Jolene, squatting down and pulling her face up by the hair!

Jolene immediately starts shaking her head, eyes wide, as Rowland brings the skewers toward her– she puts a hand up to block his hand, but he yanks back on her hair again, and she loses her leverage! He jams the skewers into her forehead as she screams, and then pounds them in further with his other hand!

 

As blood starts to pour down Jolene’s face, Rowland pulls her back up, and drives her face into the apron with a snake eyes! The skewers go flying, and Jolene is a bloody mess!

 

While Rowland butchers Jolene, Michael pulls CJ up– no! CJ levels him with a rising clothesline! Michael can barely catch his breath before CJ pulls him up into a belly-to-belly! He holds on, pulling him to his feet, and sending him head over heels with a T-bone suplex! Michael rolls up to his feet, dazed, walking into the corner! Before he can get anywhere else, CJ grabs him in a rear waistlock and sends him flying over his head with a German suplex!

 

Jason Johnson: CJ Nelson tossing Michael Collins around like a goddamn ragdoll!

 

Eryk Masters: CJ’s strength has always been the stuff of legend, Jason, and Michael’s getting a reminder of that now!

 

Michael hits the mat, and CJ picks up the chain, wrapping it around his fist as Rowland celebrates the skewering! CJ steps onto the apron as Rowland turns around– double axe handle right between the eyes! Rowland drops like a stone, as Jolene gets to her feet! CJ puts a hand on Jolene’s shoulder, and she nods, putting a hand up. They turn to the ring– just in time to see Michael Collins fly through the ropes with a suicide dive! CJ and Jolene drop to the floor, and Michael lands on his feet! He pulls Rowland to his feet, who is now bleeding from a cut on his forehead!

 

The Collins Twins immediately go after CJ, throwing boots and fists as he tries to get back to his feet! He’s on his knees when Rowland smacks him with a European uppercut, stunning him long enough for Michael to grab a bundle of light tubes from under the ring! Rowland hits a second European uppercut, and Michael holds the bundle in front of CJ’s face! Rowland steps back– superkick! The glass shatters with a puff of white smoke, and CJ falls face first to the floor!

 

CJ holds his face with one hand, trying to get to his knees, but Michael hits a jumping double stomp right into his back that puts him back on the floor! Rowland grabs the chain, but before he can get to CJ, he and Michael get LEVELLED by a barrel roll tope from Jolene from the ring!

 

Jason Johnson: When did she even get back in there?!

 

Eryk Masters: That’s the danger of this match! You can’t take your eyes off either opponent, especially one as quick as Jolene Walsh!

 

Jolene grabs a bundle of light tubes of her own, and goes for Rowland! She grabs his legs, putting the bundle right between them!

 

Eryk Masters: Oh god, no.

 

She holds Rowland’s feet apart, before leaping into the air and dropping both legs across the tubes! The shatter with a puff, and Jolene rolls off, holding her legs, while Rowland holds a much more sensitive area! Michael gets to his feet, staring over at the carnage with a yelp! Before he can do much about it, CJ charges with a clothesline– ducked! CJ runs into the barricade, and before he can turn around, Michael jumps up, springing off the barricade with a roundhouse to CJ’s bloody face!

 

Jolene gets to her knees, pushing the top of the other set of stairs off to reveal a staplegun! Michael moves to attack CJ as he falls to the floor, but Jolene catches him by surprise with a standing poison rana! Michael hits the floor headfirst, and Jolene swipes the staplegun off the steps, reaching into the collar of her shirt! She pulls something out, holding it up to the crowd: a $100 bill! As Michael starts to get up, she kicks his legs out from under him, and pulls him into a camel clutch! Both arms locked behind her legs, she slaps the bill against Michael’s forehead, and he tries his best to escape! She raises the staplegun into the air as the crowd roars, before bringing it back down and stapling the money to Michael’s head, as he howls in pain!

 

Jolene pushes Michael’s face back down to the floor, rolling back into the ring! Meanwhile, CJ has gotten to his feet, wiping blood out of his good eye. He walks to the apron, but Rowland has gotten around to his blind side, and before he can climb the apron, Rowland hits him with a low blow, chain still wrapped around his hand! 

 

Jason Johnson: If I didn’t know he already had kids…

 

Eryk Masters: This match has not been kind to testicles so far, I don’t like it.

 

Rowland slides into the ring, ducking a Jolene clothesline, and coming back off the ropes with a clotheslines of his own– also ducked! Jolene grabs onto his shoulders, dropping him with a lungblower! He flops over onto his belly, and Jolene picks up the wiffle bat, with the sharp aluminum cans attached! Rowland pulls himself to the ropes, barely getting to his feet, as Jolene yanks the vest off of him! Rowland spins in a 360, and before he can turn back around, Jolene SLAMS the weapon into his back! It sticks with a wet sound in the middle of his back!

 

Eryk Masters: Oh, that is gross.

 

Rowland stumbles off the ropes, screaming, his back arched with the bat still stuck in it! He pushes it off, as blood starts to flow down onto his jeans!

 

Michael gets into the ring, the bill still stuck to his head, and he charges Jolene! Jolene drops to the mat, and Michael bounces back off the ropes, leapfrogging Jolene– CJ grabs Michael’s leg and he falls to the mat! Jolene takes the time to slide back out of the ring as CJ gets in! He pulls Michael to his feet, and whips him to the corner! Michael hits the turnbuckle hard, and looks a little out of it. Rowland is barely up when CJ grabs him, whipping him into the corner to join his brother!

 

Rowland hits Michael with a smack, and CJ follows after! He wraps his arms around both men, squeezing Rowland between the two! CJ lets out a roar, and sends BOTH Collins Twins out of the corner with an overhead belly-to-belly! The crowd screams!!

 

HO-LY SHIT!

HO-LY SHIT!

HO-LY SHIT!

 

CJ covers Rowland!

 

ONE!

 

TWO!

 

Kickout by Rowland, who leaves a bloody stain on the mat under him!

 

Jolene pulls a plywood board out from under the ring, and it’s covered with the heads of dozens of forks, pointed up! She slides it into the ring, much to the crowd’s delight! 

 

Jason Johnson: I’ve seen some insane weapons in this sport, Eryk, but that may be the craziest one yet.

 

Eryk Masters: How long do you think it took to make that? There’s got to be… like a hundred forks on there.

 

Jason Johnson: If anyone’s got the time, it’s Jolene Walsh.

 

Rowland rolls away, but Michael gets to his feet! CJ lays a few punches into his face as Jolene sets the bed of forks behind him! CJ whips Michael to the ropes!

 

Eryk Masters: Are we about to see the Deer Park Death Drop here?!

 

Michael grabs the ropes, and before CJ can adjust to this Michael hits him with a pop-up dropkick! CJ stumbles back and falls on the forks! Jolene looks stunned, but charges Michael with a clothesline– ducked! Jolene comes off the ropes, and Michael sends her flying with a back body drop! She lands on CJ’s torso, and CJ roars in pain! A chair comes flying into the ring thanks to Rowland on the outside, while Jolene rolls off of CJ, and CJ rolls off of the forks, his white shirt now covered in red on the back AND front!

 

Jolene gets to her feet, Michael grabbing the chair! Rowland slides in, bag in hand! Michael tosses the chair to Jolene, who catches it, and Michael drops to his hands and knees– Rowland comes flying off of Michael’s back and dropkicks the chair into Jolene’s face! She falls into the corner, andMichael grabs the bag Rowland pulled in with him, dumping gusset plates onto the mat! He pulls one out, and stands over Jolene in the corner, pushing one into her forehead! Jolene screams, bleeding from new cuts on her head, and as Michael gets out of the way, Rowland slams into her with a knee strike!

 

Eryk Masters: Long Island Hardcore may be innovators in the deathmatch style, but I’d say Michael and Rowland have had no problem adapting!

 

Jason Johnson: It just takes a certain killer instinct, Eryk, and whether or not they ever had it before, the Collins Twins are definitely showing it now!

 

CJ is on his feet, and the Collins brothers focus their attack once again, driving him to his knees with a barrage of punches and kicks! Michael and Rowland grab him by his arms, and send him to the ropes, but CJ comes back with a double clothesline! Rowland is the first to get up, and CJ launches a straight jab to his face! The crowd chants!

 

OI!

 

Another!

 

OI!

 

CJ crushes Rowland with a short-arm clothesline that makes him flip over onto his stomach!

 

OI!

 

Rowland falls onto the ropes, dazed! Michael is up, but CJ boots him in the gut, and pulls him up into a crucifix position!

 

Eryk Masters: He’s going for a Crucifix Escapist onto the forks!

 

Jason Johnson: Rowland with the save– no!

 

Before Rowland can save his brother, Jolene flies off the top rope with a missile dropkick! Both of them collapse to the mat, and Rowland rolls out as CJ brings Michael down with a crucifix powerbomb, onto the bed of forks! Michael rolls off, screaming, and CJ covers!

 

ONE!

 

TWO!

 

THR– Kickout by Michael!

 

Jason Johnson: HOW!?

 

It looks like CJ’s asking the same question, arguing with the ref! While he isn’t paying attention, Rowland slides back in, and pulls on CJ’s hair, SLAMMING a gusset plate into his head with a loud smack! CJ throws his hands up to try to pull it out, but Rowland drives an elbow into it instead! Michael is back on his feet, while Jolene has her arm hooked over the bottom rope! CJ pushes Rowland away, trying to yank the metal out of his head, but before he can get anywhere with it, Michael slams another one right next to it!

 

Blood flows into CJ’s eyes as he howls, and Michael pulls him to his feet! He whips CJ to the ropes, and as he comes back, Michael hoists him up, with Rowland standing by… SHATTER MACHINE! Rowland drives CJ’s head into his knees, and it looks like the mighty CJ Nelson might be out cold!

 

Rowland goes for a cover! Jolene gets to her feet!

 

ONE!

 

TWO! Jolene tries to break it up, but Michael throws the chair into her face!

 

THREE! The bell rings!

 

Samantha Coil: Here are your winners, Michael and Rowland Collins, THE COLLINS TWINS!

 

Eryk Masters: After all that time, the Collins Twins finally get their comeuppance over Long Island Hardcore! And what a bloodbath it was!

 

Jason Johnson: Absolutely! Both teams look like ground beef, but the Irishmen go home with the victory at last!

 

WINNERS: THE COLLINS TWINS (24:28)

 

As Dropkick Murphy’s “The Boys Are Back” rings through the arena once again, Michael and Rowland drop to their knees, raising their fists to the sky! Rowland pulls Michael up into an embrace! CJ stirs, flinging the gusset plates out of his face, as Jolene helps him up to his feet. The victors look over at them, as both teams meet in the middle of the ring.

 

CJ puts a hand out in respect, and Jolene does the same! They shake hands mid-ring, and CJ and Jolene both raise their respective Collins’s hand in the air!

 

Jason Johnson: An immense sign of respect from the three-time champions, Eryk!

 

Eryk Masters: And damn well-earned! The canvas needs a power wash!

 

Jason Johnson: A decade-long rivalry finally put to bed tonight, as– wait, who is that?

 

As the teams pose for the hard cam, three people in jumpsuits slide in behind them, one in a Ghostface mask, another in a Michael Myers mask, and the last in a Jason-style hockey mask. We can see a black mohawk coming from under the Jason mask. Jason slams Rowland with a chair in the back, while Ghostface and Michael Myers level Michael with a double clothesline to the back of the head! CJ and Jolene jump back in shock, as Jason pulls Rowland up into a powerbomb, dropping him out of the ring! He comes to the other side, where Ghostface and Myers have pulled Michael into a double suplex– they deposit him on Jason’s shoulders, and he slams Michael to the outside with a powerbomb as well! Ghostface and Michael Myers pull off the masks!

 

Jason Johnson: It’s the Vice Squad! Lou and Jane Doe!

 

Eryk Masters: But why are they here?! And why attack the Collins Twins?!

 

Jason Johnson: Looks like even their mentors don’t even know the answer!

 

CJ and Jolene walk forward, confused, arguing inaudibly with the two women. Lou looks up at Jolene while Jane faces off with CJ, before Lou kicks Jolene in the gut and drops her with a Diamond Cutter! CJ turns, but before he can react, Jason cracks a chair over his head! CJ turns around, dazed, and Jane kicks the back of his knee, getting him down to her height, before dropping him with a Postmortem! Jolene gets to her feet, barely, and Lou whips him into the corner! He hits hard, stepping out, right into a Jane shotgun knee strike! Jane rolls away as Jolene drops into the corner, and Lou runs right behind with a bronco buster! As she rolls away, now it’s Jason’s turn as he crushes Jolene with a cannonball!

 

Eryk Masters: WHAT IS GOING ON?!

 

CJ goes to stand, but Jane whips him to the ropes! Jason catches him on the way back, popping him up, and Lou hits a cutter on the way down– onto the forks!

 

Jason Johnson: CJ with a taste of his own medicine! A Deer Park Death Drop onto the bed of forks!

 

Eryk Masters: But WHY?!

 

Lou calls for a microphone as the crowd is absolutely ballistic, pouring boos down on the trio.

 

Lou: What, did you think I was gonna just let you old fucks come out here and take all the spotlight from the younger, more deserving talent? 

 

You get a call from Dan Stein saying SHOOT wants tag teams, and do you say, “Hey, I know a good young team you could use, one that’s just dying to get back in the scene?” Of course not. Do you even tell anyone about your “amazing” comeback? Or do your friends and colleagues have to find out by seeing it on TV?

 

You just can’t fucking stand being out of the spotlight. It’s pathetic, honestly. You couldn’t let go. Well, look where that fucking got you.

 

The crowd just increases the intensity of their boos.

 

Lou: Oh, shut the fuck up, y’all are just as complicit. You explode into cheers for these geriatric fuckheads who haven’t done a goddamn thing of note in SHOOT Project in 14 years, and you all get hard at the sight of them losing gallons of blood. This is what you wanted? Because if all you wanted was violence, I think the Deathmatch Debutante could have done that just as well, if not better. But here we are, reliving the early 2000’s as if wrestling hasn’t moved in leaps and bounds since then. What a fucking joke.

 

Jane Doe: This is a message, not just to these four with a combined age in the triple-digits, not just to SHOOT Project, but to all of wrestling. It’s time for y’all to let the past stay in the fucking past. Whether it’s the Collinses, LIHC, DeMitri, Laura Seton, X-Calibur, who the fuck ever, your time is over. You had your moments. You had the chance to set your legacy, and if you’re not thrilled with how it turned out, too fucking bad. It’s too late. Make like Stein and Real Deal and Smiles and get out of the fucking way of the new generation.

 

Lou steps over to CJ, tearing the bloody Vice Squad shirt off of his back. She hands it to Jane as Jason stomps on CJ’s head before dragging him to the middle of the ring. Lou pulls a lighter out of her pocket.

 

Jane Doe: Starting with this. The Vice Squad is dead. That name is too wrapped up in a man who doesn’t even fucking exist anymore.

 

Lou lights the shirt ablaze as best she can, given how soaked in blood it is.

 

Jane Doe: We’re far beyond “LIHC’s proteges” now. We’re legendary champions in our own right. And we’re bringing that legend to SHOOT, whether you like it or not.

 

Eryk Masters: Lou and Jane Doe, formerly the Vice Squad, now… I don’t even know, making a statement here!

 

Jane grabs CJ’s leg, pulling him into an STF in the middle of the ring! As she pulls CJ’s face up, Jason squats down next to his face, pulling the mask off!

 

Jason Johnson: Is that… is that Cormac Nelson?!

 

Eryk Masters: CJ’s son?!

 

Cormac Nelson: Hey pops. I, uh, forgot to tell you, but I signed a contract too. You always did say, “If you’re gonna make an entrance, make it memorable.” Thanks for the tip.

 

Cormac drops the microphone on CJ’s head, and before CJ can overpower Jane, Lou drives a chair into his face with a baseball slide dropkick! The three stand in the middle of the ring, raising their fists to the air!

 

Eryk Masters: I don’t even know what to say about this, Jason, this is… this is a twist.

 

Jason Johnson: No matter how you look at it, Eryk, it looks like this trio’s here to make waves… and apparently make enemies.

 

Backstage

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR THEFT

The scene is backstage at the Epicenter, somewhere outside of the dressing rooms in a hallway. Their backs are turned to the camera, but the audience can easily see who they are. The shorter man in the porkpie hat and leather jacket is the agent. The hulking piece of steppe made flesh wearing his traditional Mongolian bokh garb is the wrestler.

Mr. Ho: Kincaid.

Mr. Ho turns around, sunglasses hiding his eyes but with nothing to hide his sneer.

Mr. Ho: I heard what you had to say just now. Four other Soldiers in this match and yet you can only fixate on one. I’ve seen insecurity before, but usually, that’s reserved for the losers.

Moriton turns around now, snorting, face looking like an old-time Japanese demon painting with its anger.

Mr. Ho: You should be the one who sleeps easy at night, yet here you stand, obsessed with my horde rider. It’s almost like you know you sinned. You know you transgressed against the laws of nature and man. You saw him plant Kazna Morozova, a firebrand rising in the ranks here. You saw him KNOCK HER OUT with the Chingisiin Yalalt.

He pulls his glasses down revealing bloodshot eyes.

Mr. Ho: And you stole victory.

The agent mockingly golf claps as his charge’s facial expression changes little.

Mr. Ho: Congratulations for stealing food out of my mouth. For stealing glory from the wings of the Mighty Garuda. You should take it as a highlight in your tenure in SHOOT Project because it will not happen again.

He nods, looking back momentarily at his absolutely feral client.

Mr. Ho: Just because you know the beating is coming, Kincaid, doesn’t make it any less sorrowful to endure when it finally happens. The guilt of stealing from my rider, the shame of a win that wasn’t yours. This is what keeps you up at night.

He shoots a feral look of his own into the camera.

Mr. Ho: This is what keeps our names in your mouth.

A beat.

Mr. Ho: But the reality of the situation is, Kincaid, I feel sorry for you. When we all step out of the curtain, and my Mighty Garuda goes to claim what belongs to him? You will be in his sights, but he is not only thinking about you. He has been preparing for Roberts. For Morozova. And especially for Madison Seton.

Ho laughs again.

Mr. Ho: What will that say for you when your laser focus on my Mighty Garuda nets you absolutely nothing in return, and you go back to the earth, bruised, beaten, and battered as recompense for your crimes against wrestling? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

 

Ho gestures to Moriton, and they walk off, presumably in the direction of the entrance.

ELSEWHERE

A KAREN MOMENT

Inside a Las Vegas Olive Garden, the restaurant is packed with eager customers seated and ready to dine. The scene appears odd for a pay-per-view, that is until the camera shifts to find Lexi Gold sitting alone at a table. She stands out as the most disruptive customer, engaging in a heated argument with the female waitress by her side, embodying the stereotypical “Karen” persona.

 

Lexi Gold: First, you serve me breadsticks that are hard as rocks, then you replace them with ones that taste like playdough. Were you intentionally providing poor service, or are you simply bad at your job?”

 

Attempting to diffuse the situation, the waitress calmly responds, prompting the attention of other diners.

 

The waitress: Ma’am, I can assure you that the breadsticks were fine. You had already eaten several it seems like. Would you like me to bring another serving?

 

Lexi pushes the basket off the table, causing it to crash onto the floor, much to the waitress’s annoyance.

 

Lexi Gold: Are you accusing me of lying? How dare you! Just remove your trashy breadsticks out of my sight and bring me my meal, so I can leave this place.

 

The waitress leaves and Lexi sits back against her chair and rudely props her feet up on the table. As she does, she notices the attention of the Baby Boomer crowd turn violently toward the doorway that leads from the main entrance to the dining room. There she sees a familiar but unwelcome face… and suit, hat, and cane.

A server nervously approaches the figure, fumbling with a menu, as Lexi and the guest lock eyes.

Server: Oh, my. Sir. Do you need assistance? Would you like a booth? We have …. something available I’m sure.

Lexi’s face sours as the man simply grins and points a boney finger over towards her table.

Server: Of course; of course. I didn’t realize Ms. Gold had a… fath- … grandfath-… relative joining her. Please, let us know if we can get you anything.

Dr. Străjer: Bring us an order of stuffed… whatever it is you put cheese into here. Olives? 

The server looks confused.

Dr. Străjer: Fine, carrots, then, just… shoo. I have business to attend to.

The server tries to question the order but Străjer cuts him off by slamming his cane down on the floor, causing the young man to scramble away. WOLF MAN’s manager pays no mind as his focus remains on Lexi Gold and he slowly but confidently closes the distance and approaches the fighter’s table.

Lexi looks up and notices Strajer approaching her. She rolls her eyes at the unwelcome company.

 

Lexi Gold: What the hell are you doing here? I didn’t invite you. You can sit your crippled ass somewhere else.

Străjer ignores Lexi’s words and proceeds to sit directly across from her, his crooked grin flashing similarly crooked teeth as he reaches down to the floor to place the basket of breadsticks back on the table. She remains silent, stunned at Străjer’s bravado and/or idiocy.

Dr. Străjer: What I am doing here, Ms. Gold, is to re-extend my offer. I assumed that after you experienced the monstrous, beastly energy of my WOLF MAN, you would understand that what I offer you is the very thing you so clearly desire: to become THE monster within SHOOT Project.

Lexi Gold: I mean, I have been on the receiving end of losses, the big one being my match to Laura Seton for the World title. I pushed her to the very limit, and somehow she managed to sneak away with a win and retain.

 

She gets angry revisiting this moment in her head and slams her fist against the table. An excitable Dr. Străjer leans in and reaches for Lexi’s hands in a gesture of… comfort? but pauses and thinks better of it. Instead, he lightly taps his staff on the ground, a call and response to her outburst.

Dr. Străjer: Exactly. EXACTLY! You have the raw talent of a warrior — you have the will to see your prey vanquished, but what you lack, Ms. Gold, is a guide. A taskmaster who can turn your violent tendencies into tangible victories. 


Not expecting to reply, Lexi takes a sip of water, only to spit it out in disgust, clearly unimpressed with the flavor.

 

Lexi Gold: Why am I drinking water that tasted like it was filtered through a fish task? This is undoubtedly the worst place I’ve ever encountered. I’ll have to speak to the manager about this.

 

Turning her attention back to Străjer, Lexi sighs, tapping her fingernails against the side of the glass in an angry, nervous manner. 

 

Lexi Gold: Listen here, old man. You made two mistakes. Firstly, assuming I’d suddenly be on your side, and secondly, tracking me down to talk. You fell on deaf ears the first time and my answer is still no. So, if I were you, I’d get the hell out of here for your own safety.

Dr. Străjer leans back in his chair, hands clasped over the top of his cane, as he assesses his quarry. Lexi, not one to appreciate being assessed in any capacity, stands up violently and firmly plants her palms on the edge of the table, leaning in towards Străjer.

Lexi Gold: Did I stutter, old man? Your WOLF MAN isn’t here to protect you and I have no problem snapping your bones like one of these breadsticks!

Străjer blinks and looks suspiciously at the undercooked bread, then back at Lexi. He sighs and pushes himself up from his seat and meets Lexi’s angry gaze with a surprisingly calm demeanor.

 

Dr. Străjer: Hmmm. You are most certainly a difficult subject… but no matter. You merely possess the appearance of civility; a beast in human clothing. And, like all beasts, Ms. Gold, you can and will be made to heel.

Lexi’s eyes grow wide with anger but Străjer is already moving away from her table, making his way back through the aisles between tables and out toward the lobby. Lexi stays focused on Străjer, so much so that she doesn’t even notice the server appearing from her side to slide a steaming hot dish in front of her.

Server: Your cheese-stuffed carrots, miss.

Lexi watches Străjer exit and then turns to look at the gross-looking dish in front of her, mozzarella cheese seeping out of steamed carrots sliced like baguettes. She tries not to hurl as she throws her napkin down on the table and storms away from the table.

Backstage

LEAVE A LASTING MARK

We cut to the back. Max Towers and Barbie Kellers are back in the loading docks. Max sips on an overpriced, piss-yellow beer, checking his surroundings constantly. Barbara seems charmed as she drinks an oversized and CERTAINLY overpriced frozen margarita in one of those hourglass plastic tubes that you can get all over Las Vegas. She wears a black sequin, strapless dress, short enough and showing enough cleavage to be sexy, but nothing overly trashy. In her other hand is one of those Korean corndogs, the ones filled with cheese and topped with all kinds of sugar and sauces. She takes a big bite, ignoring her classier elements, just really enjoying the night.

 

Barbie Kellers: Man, I knew being backstage was fun, but these premium live events are WAY different.

 

Max takes a nervous sip of his beer as his eyes dart around.

 

Max Towers: Yeah, these events are pretty neat. 

 

Barbie nudges the tiny man with her elbow, getting his attention.

 

Barbie Kellers: He’s a big pussy. Him and Teen. They aren’t going to do anything. C’mon, let’s enjoy the night! Let’s go watch some of the matches, hit the bars, get wild! 

 

Barb suggestively licks the top of her K-dog before taking a big drink of her frozen margarita. You can tell this may not be her first of the night.

 

Barbie Kellers: I’ll make it worth your while…

 

This display of corndog-based eroticism seems to make Max briefly forget about the death threats. He leans in and kisses Barb, her eyes going wide before closing and kissing back. After a good deal of snogging, Towers leans back, a big smile on his face. He kills his beer and tosses the cup away.

 

Max Towers: Wooo!

 

Barb giggles as Max suddenly finds some confidence.

 

Max Towers: You’re right, Barb. Fuck that big lard ass and fuck NC-Felony. They’re not going to do SHIT to me. Let’s go tear this place up! It’s not like we don’t deserv-

 

Barb doesn’t even have time to scream. Lars Von Bremen is suddenly on Max, shoving his head into a wall. She drops her K-Dog and her margarita, screaming for help, but Max is already getting pounded but he much, MUCH larger man. 

 

Lars Von Bremen: What do you deserve, TEENY?! 

 

Max tries to fight, desperately kicking and punching in the direction, but his bell has been rung and his punches don’t seem to phase the nearly 7-foot-tall murderer that attacks him with intensity and focus. Lars grabs Max by the throat and walks him over to a nearby storage cage. Max hits a stack of empty kegs, crumbling to the ground. Lars walks into the cage and begins to plant boots to the head of Max. He leans down and grabs Max’s throat again, choking him.

 

Lars Von Bremen: Did I not warn you, Teeny? Did I not tell you to leave?

 

Barb has had enough. She runs into the cage and begins hitting Lars with her purse. The big man is unphased as he continues to choke the life out of Max. Finally, she is able to swing high enough that a shot catches Lars in the back of the head. He winces, but he does not drop Max. He turns his head to the women. She has his attention, and the look on her face shows she immediately regrets it.

 

Lars Von Bremen: Watch carefully, little champion. 

 

Lars drops Max, who coughs and sputters for breath. Lars turns his attention to Barb and violently shoves her out of the cage. She topples over, her high heels causing her ankle to twist badly. She cries out in pain, tears immediately falling from her eyes. Lars walks out of the cage and removes a deadbolt from his pocket. He shuts the cage and locks it with the deadbolt, turning back to Barb.

 

Lars Von Bremen: Ms. Kellers, I do apologize for this, but, unfortunately, are tiny friend in there did not heed the warning and…well…there are consequences for those who do not listen.

 

Barb tries to crawl away, but there is no escaping the looming presence of Lars. He stalks over, like the real life Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers, and grabs Barb by the hair, lifting her off the ground. 

 

Max Towers: Put…her…down  you…you…you fucking…you fucking-

 

Lars slams Barb’s face into the cage as Max claws at the door and the deadbolt, kicking at it, trying desperately to get it to open…and finding no way to. Lars grates Barb’s face against the cage, blood immediately pouring down her face. 

 

Lars Von Bremen: I didn’t want to do this, Teeny. He didn’t want me to do this. But here we are, Teeny. Here we are.

 

Lars drops Barb, her ankle getting further smashed as she drops. Lars walks off-camera for a moment and returns with a briefcase. 

 

Barbie Kellers: Max…Max…

 

Max crawls over to the part of the cage that a barely cognisant Barbie Kellers leans against.

 

Max Towers: It’s okay, Barb. It’s okay. I’m…I’m gonna-

 

Lars Von Bremen: It isn’t okay, Barb, and he’s not going to do anything. 

 

Lars removes a pair of handcuffs from the briefcase. He leans down slowly and grabs Barb’s arm, trying to put the handcuffs on, but Barb comes to life, pulling and kicking at Lars. Lars sighs, grabbing her hand with his free hand, and snaps her ring finger. She cries out in pain, her desperate struggle stopping. Lars, his face pure cold and machine, places the handcuffs on Barb’s hand and cuffs her to the cage.

 

Max Towers: Fucking stop it! Stop it, okay!? Fuck, I’ll…I’ll fucking leave.

 

Lars stops for a moment, looking down at Max, who has begun to sob. 

 

Lars Von Bremen: I know, Max. I know you will. But…I need you to understand that you can’t ever come back. I need you to know what I’ll do to you, to her, to anyone you love. See, Mr. Teen still has some mild affection for Barbie here, so there are certain lines I am not going to cross. But anyone else you love? Family? Friends? There won’t be limitations, Teeny.  I want you to remember…

 

I’m being merciful.

 

Lars pulls an electric shaver from his bag. He turns it on. Max shakes the cage, screaming at Lars. Barb seems barely aware of what is happening.

 

Max Towers: YOU MOTHER FUCKER! YOU MOTHER FUCKER!

 

Lars leans down to Barb. She seems barely conscious, the shot she took to the head against the cage making her out of it. Barbie Kellers is a tough customer, a woman who’s lived a hard life and had to harden with it, but she is not a trainer fighter.

 

Lars Von Bremen: Ms. Kellers, I’m going to ask that you hold as still as possible. Otherwise, this is going to cut into your skin quite badly.

 

Lars grabs Barb by the hair. Instinctively, she tries to fight, but as Lars begins to use the shaver to cut her hair, her jerking around causes the shaver to knick her scalp, bloodying her even more. She calms down, either realizing that the fight is futile or having lost too much blood to fight anymore. 

 

Lars Von Bremen: Shhhh…shhhh…there we go. 

 

Max is stunned as he watches Lars Von Bremen completely shave Barb’s head, all her blonde hair falling into piles on the ground. Max, still sobbing, gets close to the cage, puts his face right up to it.

 

Max Towers: Okay, you’re done, right? You’re done with her, right? You can…you can just beat me up now, okay? You don’t have to keep doing this.

 

Lars doesn’t even look at Max. He returns the clippers to his briefcase.

 

Lars Von Bremen: My instructions were to humiliate her and leave a lasting mark. 

 

Lars removes a torch. Max’s eyes go wide in horror. Barb seems barely aware of her surroundings. Lars also removes a small branding iron. The camera zooms in on the branding iron, revealing a logo that reads “NC-17”. 

 

Max Towers: Lars…Lars…c’mon man. 

 

Lars turns on the torch, turning the nozzle until the flame is pure blue.

 

Lars Von Bremen: What did I tell you to do, Teeny?

 

Max sniffles and sobs.

 

Max Towers: Lars…please…

 

Lars Von Bremen: Teeny…what did I tell you to do?

 

Barbie Kellers: His…fucking…name…is…Max.

 

Lars turns his attention back to Barb. She glares up at him, her face a crimson mask of pain, despair, and as much rage as her heavily injured body can muster. Her ankle is turning blue and black. It is clearly swelling. Lars turns the torch off. He smiles down at Barb, a sympathetic smile.

 

Lars Von Bremen: Damn…she is too good for you, Teeny. Ms. Kellers, I’m so sorry. 

 

All you had to do was fuck literally anyone else.

 

The sympathy and smile immediately vanish as Lars turns the torch back on and begins to heat the branding iron. Barb rolls her head over and looks at Max. The voice that escapes her mouth is barely a whisper.

 

Barbie Kellers: Max…don’t…don’t let him…Max…

 

Max’s face is wet with blood and tears. He shakes the cage again but with less strength. It is all so hopeless now.

 

Max Towers: Just look at me, Barb. Just look at me. It’s going to be okay. It’s-

 

Barb SCREAMS in pain as the branding iron is placed on her left shoulder. The sound of sizzling flesh can still be heard over her screams. The screaming doesn’t last long, as Barb’s brain finally has enough and she, mercifully, passes out. Lars tosses the branding iron away, puts the torch back in his briefcase, and closes it. Without another word he removes a set of keys from his pocket and unlocks the handcuffs from Barb. Next, he walks over to the deadbolt, unlocks it, and opens the door. He stands at the ready for Max to come bursting out of the cage to face him, but Max simply sits, completely dejected, staring ahead. Lars removes a knapkin from his pocket and wipes some blood from his face. He then tosses the knapkin at Max. It hits him in the face and falls to the ground.

 

Lars Von Bremen: What are you going to do, Teeny?

 

Max sniffles. There is a silence for a few moments.

 

Max Towers: I’m going to leave Las Vegas.

 

Lars nods.

 

Lars Von Bremen: And wrestling. If I hear you are on the independents, in Mexico, or in Japan, I’m going to find you.

 

Max nods rapidly, insanely.

 

Max Towers: I’m leaving Las Vegas and wrestling.

 

Lars walks over to Max. He pats his head.

 

Lars Von Bremen: Good. Good boy. Now get the fuck out. 

 

Max barely hesitates. He picks himself up and immediately runs. Lars scoffs before finally walking off-camera as well. The camera fades out to an unconscious Barbie Kellers. When we cut back to the announce table, Eryk Masters and Jason Johnson both sit in stunned silence.

 

Eryk Masters: Jesus Christ, what was that?



IN THE RING

THE RISE OF...

 

The lights dim in the arena.  A familiar video begins to play for the crowd.  

Eryk Masters:  These videos have been released through SHOOT Project social media this week.  Each package pointed directly to Warrior’s Code.  Could this be it?  

 

Jason Johnson:  I think so, Eryk.  This could be the moment.  Let’s see who’s behind these mysterious videos.

 

The many, many, SHOOT Project fans in attendance begin to watch.  The voiceover isn’t familiar, but a recycled motivator that drives the point home.  The narrator wraps up at around 1:16, and the sledgehammer swings into frame to destroy the television.  The narration has transitioned into the opening of “The Title” by Aryn Jones.  A giant phoenix with the letters CKB flash on the screen, followed by the CK BUTCHER logo and a slow zooming shot of the man himself.  There’s a rather mixed reaction from the crowd.  Some boos, some cheers, but it’s a reaction nonetheless.

 

Eryk Masters:  WHAT!?  Nooooo way.

 

Jason Johnson: CK Butcher is BACK!  

 

Eryk Masters:  What the HELL?  I thought he was retired?  I thought his career was over?

 

Jason Johnson:  Apparently not, ‘ryk.  Because there he is…in the flesh!

 

CK Butcher walks slowly onto the stage.  He looks like a completely different person.  There’s no wrestling gear, black and red trunks, or blue and white shorts.  He’s wearing a sports jacket over a Tom Waits Rain Dogs t-shirt.  He’s wearing jeans and a pair of Hey Dude’s.  He’s lost weight, but he hasn’t missed a day to keep his physique in check.  He’s clean cut and his facial hair is well-kempt.  He pauses at the edge of the ramp, takes a deep breath, and surveys the surprised crowd.  

 

Jason Johnson:  The last time we saw CK Butcher he was trying to get his life together.  He spent a long time being one of the most evil men on the SHOOT Project roster.  Something snapped.  He was trying to redeem himself.  But, his body had other plans and a back injury took him out of the game.

 

Eryk Masters:  Yea, well, hopefully he’s ready to get his hands dirty.  There’s a lot of bridges to be re-built.  I am intrigued to see where this goes.  This could get interesting.  

 

Butcher takes the walk down the ramp while reaching out from time-to-time to slap a few hands.  He doesn’t skip a beat, and slides into the ring as soon as he reaches it.  The SHOOT soldier stays on his knees and looks down at the center of the ring.  He taps his knuckles against it, leans forward to give it a kiss, and smiles.  He slowly stands but then directs himself to the corner where the ring announcer is ready to hand off a microphone.  

 

CROWD: WELCOME BACK! GO A-WAY! WELCOME BACK! GO A-WAY! WELCOME BACK!

 

Eryk Masters:  Like I said – this could get interesting.

 

Butcher nods and centers himself in the ring as the crowd’s chants fade.  The microphone is ready.  CK takes a deep breath.  

 

CK Butcher:  I locked up before I came out here.  There was a brief moment where I stood backstage and couldn’t move.  What am I doing?  I had my forearm and forehead resting against the cold brick wall.  Flashbacks raced through my mind.  I kept recalling the negative stuff.  Deep breaths, Ben, deep breaths.  Ya’gotta be positive.  I told myself: you wanted this.  Me.  I wanted this moment.  

 

He paces back and forth.

 

CK Butcher:  Then, I thought to myself, if they’re allowing me to do this – what do I say?  What can I say that would make everyone believe that I’m back to make a difference?  What can I say that would prove that I’ve changed, or that perhaps I’m not the same person that I was before?  This was supposed to happen last year.  It was around this time, last year, that I asked to return.  I couldn’t do it.  I talked myself out of it: stay retired; you did enough damage.  I bowed out, saddled up, and galloped off into the sunset.  CK Butcher’s moment came to an end.   

 

He pauses, a smile slowly rising, as folks in the crowd cheer for the idea of CK Butcher’s career coming to an end.  He continues.

 

CK Butcher:  I had a third child last year.  Today is his first birthday.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t want to return?  Maybe I lost the love that I once had for this sport?  Maybe I realized I had nothing left in the tank?  No.  I didn’t come back last year for the same reason that I couldn’t make it before.  It had nothing to do with the logical answers.  It had all to do with me being me.  Overthinking.  The need for approval.  That voice inside my head that asked: who the Hell cares about you?  After the shit that you pulled, and put yourself and others through?  Who would actually care?  Or, maybe it was reaching out to an old friend and getting the cold shoulder?  Same thing.  The need and lack of approval.  The same crap that got me into that situation in the first place.

 

CK Butcher:  I tried the gimmick swap.  I went from the most vile, evil creature in SHOOT Project, to the complete opposite.  Which one is the true CK Butcher?  If I can be transparent?  None of them.  CK Butcher is a pseudonym for an entirely different person.  There’s no gimmick here.  I won’t say that I’m just like you, or that I’m a regular guy.  I’m not.  Everyone is different.  The point is this:  I am a hard working family man, an artist, a professional wrestling romantic, who has failed time and time again so that he can stand here and do it all over.  Hopefully better.  I’ve been given that opportunity.  I’ve got to be the luckiest man in the industry.  Whether it’s God’s will, or that there’s someone in authority that’s reasonable enough to give me another chance, I stand here before you all humbled, with humility, and honesty.   

 

That receives a few slow claps from the crowd.  A few chirps from old fans.  

 

CK Butcher:  Every person has a journey in this life.  Some are less confusing than mine, and some have a main character that better understands the mechanics of how this all works.  This has been my journey: a continuous cycle of rise and fall.  Now, I don’t know who’s been tasked with getting paid to make up the videos that have led to this moment, but the phoenix rising from the ashes is a choice touch.  It makes sense, albeit slightly overwhelming.  I thought the goal of portraying CK Butcher rising after the fall is hopefully as inspiring to you as it is to me.  

 

CK Butcher:  The days of calling myself the Lord of the Flies, or Salt of the Earth, are long, long, long gone.  

 

Now that gets the crowd going.  There are more cheers mixed with jeers.  He nods in agreement with them.

 

CK Butcher: My departure from the SHOOT Project in 2022 may be exactly how the story was supposed to go?  I was able to spend time with my family.  I focused on being a better person.  I was counseled.  I won’t go into detail, yet, but let me just say that this is the CK Butcher that I wish would have debuted back in April of 2020.  This is the man that should have won the 2020 Redemption Rumble and then battled Buck Dresden at the greatest show of’em all. This isn’t the blood stained and inhumane CK Butcher.  This is Ben; the real person behind the mask.  No gimmicks.  The only thing that might make this come off gimmicky is my belief that failure is no longer an option.  Maybe that’s more cliche than gimmick?  Regardless – I will put in the work.  I will do what I love.  I’ll do it naturally and I will tell my story.  Mine; my story.  Not some made up madness about savages from the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I will do this the way it should have been done. 

 

CK Butcher:  Actions will speak louder than words. If it doesn’t work out?  Well – then it was never meant to be.  Either way?  Closure…has come.  I am BACK! …And, I feel better than ever.  As a matter of fact – I feel so good about this that I’m going to challenge myself to do something that I’ve always dreamed of doing.  Ladies and gentlemen – CK Butcher is not only BACK…but he’ll be entering the most prestigious tournament in all of professional wrestling.

 

Eryk Masters:  Whoa, wait a minute…

 

The crowd’s cheering begins to increase.

 

CK Butcher:  That’s right, folks.  Thank you, so much, for this moment.  This is exactly how I wanted this chapter to begin.  However, I need to prepare.  It’s not going to be easy trying to be Master…of the Mat

 

“The Title” by Aryn Jones plays again as Butcher’s large pearly white smile shines underneath the arena lights.  The crowd cheers at the mention of Master of the Mat.  That is, indeed, one of the greatest tournaments in all of sports.

 

Jason Johnson:  And there it is!  Not only is Butcher back, but he’s entering the Master of the Mat tournament!

 

Eryk Masters:  We’ll see about that, Jason.  He might not wanna get his hopes up.  Butcher has a long way to go before he can be a master of anything…

 

The last shot is of Butcher’s happiness in the ring.  A quick bow to the crowd as the production team transitions…

RING ENTRANCE

BREEDLOVE VS. SETON

We’re transported to the back in gorilla position, following Lucha Fitness celebrating their shocking win over the Coltons. Gorilla is buzzing as the team makes their way through the curtain and that scene gives way to this one…

 

“Are you ready for this?” 

 

“As ready as someone can be, I think.” 

 

The voices belong to Maria Madden and the #1 contender, Joshua Breedlove, who elicits a large pop from the crowd once the view sharpens and clears up. Breedlove is lightly pacing, Madden is trying to calm him down.

 

Maria Madden: Good. You’ve got this. This is the preamble to reign number three for you. Record tying.

 

Joshua Breedlove: Record tying.

 

He takes a big deep breath in and exhales, centering himself.

 

Joshua Breedlove: Conquer my unconquerable. 

 

As if on cue, Madden’s calming smile turns to a slight scowl as Laura Seton comes into frame, drawing even more noise out from a capacity crowd. She holds the World Heavyweight Championship on her shoulder and doesn’t make eye contact or even look at Breedlove or Madden. She’s just focused, full steam ahead. A familiar melodic chant starts to play over the PA, signaling the start of Ohana Bam’s “Make Way for the King” and triggering the crowd into a frenzy! 

 

Joshua Breedlove: Guess it’s now or never. 

 

Breedlove leans in and kisses Madden, takes a moment and looks back at the World Heavyweight Championship and its holder and then jogs over to the entrance to the ramp and waits for the line to hit. 

 

“MAKE WAY FOR THE KING”

 

The music screams out and the crowd is definitely into it. Breedlove is staring at the ground right outside of the entrance and he smiles at the reaction. He’s wearing an EMPIRE t-shirt and his normal red, black, and gold ring gear with standard black wrestling boots. He lifts his head, looks out to the ramp, and steps out, grabbing the pop that all wrestlers want to hear at some point in their career.

 

Jason Johnson: There he is, E. The challenger. The record chaser. The guy who’s looking to end Laura Seton’s reign before it even really gets started. 

 

Eryk Masters: He’s got a tall, tall order ahead of him. Also, I have a question.

 

Jason Johnson: Go for it.

 

Eryk Masters: Sometimes you call me E. Sometimes you call me ‘Ryk. What’s up with that? 

 

Jason Johnson: Sometimes I just like to change it up, man. 

 

He’s soaking in the cheers as he takes a few steps in, with Samantha Coil carrying him the rest of the way.

 

Samantha Coil: INTRODUCING FIRST… HE STANDS AT SIX FEET, FIVE INCHES TALL AND WEIGHS IN AT TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE POUNDS… HE IS A TWO TIME FORMER SHOOT PROJECT WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION… HE IS THE NUMBER ONE CONTENDER… THE CHALLENGER… JOSHUA. BREEDLOVE…

 

As Breedlove gets into the ring, he offers a quick thanks to Samantha Coil and turns to face the ramp once more, awaiting his opponent. The lights dim to an almost pitch black dark, flashes from phone cameras start to blink all over the arena, the crowd quiets in anticipation, waits for it… keeps waiting… finally…

 

… I’ll get him hot, show him what I got…

 

A blast of fireworks go off at the head of the ramp.

 

Can’t read my, can’t read my, no he can’t read my poker face…

 

The crowd explodes for the song of the champion, Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”! Dressed in her red and black ring gear, Seton makes her way to the top of the ramp and the noise levels grow as she shows a determined face with the World Heavyweight Championship around her waist. 

 

Jason Johnson: Laura Seton is all business tonight.

 

Eryk Masters: She knows she has to be. Sure, she’s beaten Breedlove before, but this is different. It’s Big Match Breedlove. 

 

Jason Johnson: He does seem to get a boost when he’s in these scenarios, but Laura Seton didn’t get here by shying away from these moments. She’s going to look to strike early, strike fast, and strike often.

 

Samantha Coil: INTRODUCING A LEGEND IN THIS SPORT… SHE IS A FORMER SIN CITY CHAMPION… A FORMER RULE OF SURRENDER CHAMPION… ONE OF THE MOST DECORATED COMPETITORS IN ALL OF WRESTLING AND THE CURRENT SHOOT PROJECT WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION… PLEASE WELCOME THE DEFENDING CHAMPION… LAURA SETONNNNNN!!!!!

 

The crowd keeps its energy up and its levels high as Laura Seton smiles once reaching the ring. She climbs up, wipes her feet off on the mat as is customary, and climbs in standing face to face with Breedlove. She holds the title up in the air and hands it over to Samantha Coil, who climbs out of the ring and onto the floor. 

 

Jason Johnson: That shit is electric, GOD DAMN.

 

Eryk Masters: I love EVERYTHING about this. 

 

Jason Johnson: Is your heart gonna pee? 

 

Eryk Masters: Probably! 

 

The two competitors retreat to their corners…

 

POST MATCH

DOOM PIANO INTENSIFIES

Both Laura Seton and Joshua Breedlove rise to their feet, exhausted from battle. The SHOOT Project World Title is returned to Laura as the fans applaud both Soldiers’ efforts.

 

Eryk Masters: Both Seton and Breedlove went the distance but neither could beat the clock, Jason. 

 

Jason Johnson: Hate to not see a conclusive winner, Eryk, and you’ll have to wonder what happens next. Will they run it back? We’ve got Master of the Mat looming after all.

 

Breedlove extends a hand in sportsmanship (what? Sportsmanship?) to Laura, and the Champ accepts. The two exchange words that aren’t picked up by the camera or the boom mics overhead.

 

And that’s when all the lights go out.

 

Eryk Masters: Oh what’s going on here?

 

Jason Johnson: No happy moment lasts forever, Eryk!

 

The SHOOT Project Faithful immediately turn their camera flashlights on while buzzing and shouting in confusion. Neither Josh nor Laura know what’s going on either, but they don’t have to wait too long before ominous chords of a doom piano begin their disconcerting symphony.

 

Thunderous drum beats soon follow. A haunting voice wails through the gloom before the lyrics creep through the Epicenter’s speakers.

 

STRANGER FRUIT

HOW IT GROWS AND GROWS

WE ALL SAW THE SHOOT

BUT WE TEND TO THE ROSE

 

It’s a new theme to some Soldiers and SHOOT Project Faithful; to others, it isn’t. They’ve heard it before, some many times, over the last two years. In the Flynn Cup. In PRIME and DEFIANCE, where it all began. In Bang! At RAPIER:BATTLEARTS Ace ABSOLUTE. 

 

STRANGER FRUIT

IS A PLANT OF THE WELL

FLESH SO BITTER

IT PICK ITSELF

 

It’s the clarion call for the group known as Vae Victis; its members spread throughout all the premier wrestling companies on the planet. Brutalists personified, seeking to return the sport to its purest form: punishing fights, no quarter given, no fools suffered gladly. And now, here, in SHOOT Project, “Stranger Fruit” by Zeal and Ardor doesn’t signal a debut.

 

It signals a return.

 

STRANGER FRUIT

WITH A BECKONING CALL

FROM CROWN TO THE ROOT

THIS TREE WON’T FALL

 

From the back and onto the stage walks a Soldier not seen inside a SHOOT ring in a year. The last time they were, Void was sent back into the darkness, never to be seen again. Now, in the center of red, white, and pink spotlights, the Soldier stands tall, expression hardened stone.

 

Lindsay Troy, the Queen of the Ring, acknowledges nothing and no one around her.

 

She simply makes a belt motion around her waist.

Jason Johnson: It’s been a night of surprises, with Ayumi being revealed as the person behind Daihm’s abduction, all of the craziness around Barbie Kellers, Lars Von Bremen, and NC-17, CK Butcher’s return, the Vice Squad is back, there’s another Nelson in the fray, Anna Daniels’ debut, LOCUST is here, and now this! This is crazy! I’m out of breath!

 

Eryk Masters: It’s a good time to be a fan of the SHOOT Project and the ACE Network, folks. Master of the Mat is just around the corner, and we’ll see what happens with all of this when Ruination and Revolution come at you next on April 28th and April 29th! 


Jason Johnson: No kidding! What does it all mean? Are we going to get a rematch between Laura Seton and Lindsay Troy? Is there a triple threat in our future? There’s a lot of history there with all of them, so stay tuned. Goodnight everybody!