WELCOME TO MIAMI
An aerial show of the lengthy, streaking white building across the street from a stunning row of palm trees reveals the Miami Beach Convention Center, the home of Domination 6, and a massive change to the previous half a dozen shows that have preceded it.
‘WELCOME EVERYBODY to a party in the city where the heat is on, all night, on the beach to the break of dawn…WELCOME TO MIAMI.’
The cameras are now circling the area as fireworks go off in various directions as it now pans to Lucas Quinn, beautifully suited in yet another dark blue suit, The Mark to his left, the dark-haired, white t-shirt and jean-wearing Deltzer salutes some of the fans. Allie Reece, the pink-haired blonde has a denim jacket and matching jeans complemented by, surprise, a light pink top, and also waves at the appreciative audience.
‘A special welcome to you at home and The Miami Beach Convention Center, the same place where thirty-nine years ago to the day of Magnum Opus, as it turns out, a young Cassius Clay shocked the world and defeated Sonny Liston. We are here where between seven and a half thousand members of the GLOBAL Nation will smash this company’s attendance record in a history-making night, our first away from The Globe, outside of California, and above all, where we will hear from the FIRST EVER Global Champion, the one and only, ‘Legend’ Sean Darring. Congratulations, champ.’
‘Yes, and we know who played Muhammad in that biopic, don’t we, Quinn? Risky business quoting him in this climate, but congratulations to the champ indeed, my pick, and the best choice ANY wrestling organization could hope for, Sean Darring. However, Aleczander The Great, his number one contender, initial challenger, and self-proclaimed FIRST GLOBAL hall-of-fame inductee will no doubt have something to say after a mightily impressive victory over August Lazar in the opener at Magnum Opus. What a WAR that was. My god.’ Allie muses.
‘Magnum Opus lived up to its name, GLOBAL Nation, but we won’t do a REAL Alexander the Great and shed salt tears because there are no more worlds to conquer, there are plenty, and we’ll have a tournament kicking off tonight, eight men – Alex Reyn, Daniel Dream, and Big Aug lead the way as favorites, joined by Alfie Button, EZ Rah, Son of Malta, The Great Wall and Joe Public. Brackets will be announced shortly. All first-round matches will take place tonight with the final culminating at Gold Rush, our next extravaganza, again set to take place in California. More information on that in the coming days and weeks.’ The Mark beams.
‘You don’t wanna salute the champ, Mark?’ Allie ponders, appearing puzzled.
‘Of course, congratulations to the incomparable Sean Darring, and I’m just getting over the efforts he, Daniel Dream, and Alex Reyn put in to boast the claim of becoming the inaugural GLOBAL Champion. Freddie Rich may be a dead man walking, and speaking of which, The Master Sisters retained their coveted GLOBAL Tag Team straps against The Rich Family. Who will step up to the plate to challenge them? A big win for PTA over Health Fanatics could well put them in the frame, but we’ve got a whole host of duos who are in the frame.’ Deltzer waxes.
Salesman Quinn turns to the camera. ‘EZ Rah, in action tonight, didn’t cash in against Jerry David in what was a show-stealing Match of The Night contender. Then again, Jerry didn’t have the last laugh either, their Last Man Standing leaving them both flat out for the count. Who will prevail between the King of Crypto and King of Comedy? I’ve got a feeling something bigger, better and badder will settle the score at Gold Rush.’
‘So much to unpack. Great wins for my girls, Amber Lee, Angel Ramirez, and Valorie Vitality, shutting up Kid Chameleon, the obnoxious so-called ‘Queen’ Bianca Davis, and the soon-to-be-retired, Jed Johnson, Mr. Personality himself. I’m proud of them all, especially Angel, because that was a hell of a fight.’ Allie punches the air, reliving their victories.
‘It was a pretty good night for you, wasn’t it? Quinn asks Allie.
‘Sure was, and the after-party was a blast, as well. What I can remember of it.’ Reece giggles.
‘A memorable night for Ross Hanson, who in conjunction with Hayley Robinson, signed off his career with a win, and no, I’m not saying that team name again. But let’s look forward. Will we see Christian Pierson? Is The Great Wall truly back? We’ll find out against ‘The East Wind’ Alex Reyn tonight. Son of Malta, fresh off beating Darren Best, could be a dark horse in the aforementioned tournament.’ Quinn speculates aloud.
‘And we expect another memorable night for GLOBAL in Miami. The crowd is BUZZING, you can feel it in the air, they’re waiting for the arrival of one man, the LEGEND himself, Sean Darring, who somehow, some way, FOUND a way. HERE WE GO…’ Quinn’s voice tails off as the lights go out, accompanied by an iconic 80s pop song professional wrestling fans associate with an extraordinary competitor the majority of these fans know as one of their own.
The Final Countdown hits the PA system as the Miami Beach Convention Center erupts in a massive sign of respect, appreciation, and hometown bias cheers rising to their feet.
Lucas Quinn barely heard over the rabid Miami fans saying, “These fans showed up in droves to celebrate with the Miami-born Sean Darring … Their legend and our champion!
The Mark follows up, “A Florida State graduate and started his career in the small yet popular Florida wrestling promotion, Florida Superstars Wrestling.”
As the fans continue to hoot, holler, and cheer, the man who survived the stacked hand of Daniel Dream and the chaotic mind games of Alex Reyn to win the GLOBAL Championship at Magnum Opus emerges from the entranceway.
All class as usual, the Legend is dressed in a tailor-made black suit with a symbolic orange tie for his hometown. The GLOBAL prize proudly wrapped around his waist – the Legend stands looking around the Convention Center, soaking up the respect and admiration from “his people.”
“L – S – D L – S – D L – S – D”
“L – S – D L – S – D L – S – D”
“L – S – D L – S – D L – S – D”
The fans chant the three letters for good and bad the Legend has grown known over the years as. As Darring emerges from the entranceway, you can see that the wounds from the war at Magnum Opus haven’t fully healed even after weeks. Still walking gingerly on the Legend’s face reminds us of the destruction that happened. The stitches have been removed, but the bruises and scars remain.
While the bruises and scars remind us of the pain of the match, the smile and the twinkle in Darring’s eyes remind us of the finish: the pride, the glory, and the potential end of a legacy. Darring slows down partly because his injured leg and ankle need it, and the other reason is to take time to celebrate with a very special part of GLOBAL-Nation.
Allie gushes, “You can almost see a tear in the Legend’s eye. Tonight is a special night for GLOBAL, these fans, and the Legend himself. It’s been long since he has been inside a ring in front of the Miami fans.”
Finally, after a dozen or more fist-bumps. Some high-fives and a series of hugs. The Legend makes it to the ring and accepts a microphone from the outside. He stands in the center of the ring where just two weeks prior, he accomplished a feat nearly nobody, even himself; the thought was truly possible.
Standing turning around slowly, the Legend continues to soak up the rabid cheers from the Miami fans. He smiles, mouthing the words “Thank You” every few seconds, finally raising the microphone to his mouth.
“If that wasn’t a welcome home, I don’t know what is!”
Another insane POP as they try to start another “L-S-D” chant, but the Legend knows we are on a schedule and continues.
“Thank you, truly from the bottom of my heart. I am so thankful for the reactions I have received across the globe over the past few years, but tonight I can’t deny that this was special and something I will never forget.”
The Legend nods, touching his heart and showing the Miami fans a true sign of thanks and appreciation in return.
“As you can see, I brought something with me.”
The Legend looks down at the illustrious golden prize. GLOBAL letters pop out of the golden championship belt as we have our first real close-up on the new GLOBAL Championship belt.
“It wasn’t easy. Daniel Dream and Alex Reyn are two of the best in this industry. They will go on to do a lot of special things. They took this old body to the limit. In the end, I was able to keep Dream’s shoulders on the mat for one tiny millisecond longer than mine was earlier in the match.”
The fans cheer again, chanting – YOU DESERVE IT!
“Even weeks later, my face is a little uglier. It took me longer to walk down that aisle. I haven’t slept well since, but every second of misery is worth it.”
A chuckle comes from the Legend as agrees with the fans showing a bit of that Legend pride and arrogance with the YOU DESERVE it chants.
“While I love every second out here tonight celebrating this amazing honor. We do need to move on and talk about tonight.”
The Legend pauses as if he is soaking up that final moment of appreciation from the fans before he moves on.
“The hardest part about being a champion is staying the champion. Now there are two ways you can do that. The first is simple you just avoid wrestling. Being the champion has perks and responsibilities that can affect your wrestling schedule. The other? You come out here and defend the title and WIN. Any guess what I plan to do?”
Miami’s response answers that question!
“There is a whole locker room back there that is young, hungry, and deserving of the same opportunity I had at Magnum Opus. I don’t have much time left in this industry, and you won’t find me sitting on the sidelines milking any champion perk. I have told the board, championship committee, and anyone else in the back who would listen to me that I want to travel and come out defending this title as much as possible. It doesn’t matter if it’s Daniel Dream or any of the other worthy challengers in the locker room. I will fight to earn this honor each and every night!”
“Hall of Fame” by The Script feat. will.i.am.
The piano intro plays and the crowd is already jeering!
Darring watches and hears the crowd’s overwhelming response to the interruption of his heartfelt hometown moment. Out from the back — in his golden ring gear, no less — Aleczander The Great struts through the curtains. After barely surviving a very physical battle with a very physical giant, Aleczander raises his arms up and then holds out his signature self-made Hall of Fame plaque and bouquet of golden flowers as he heads down The Red Carpet.
“What is the meaning of this?!” Lucas Quinn yells out. “Why does Aleczander The Great need to come out here and interrupt Sean Darring’s time in his hometown?!”
“He’s the Number One Contender to the GLOBAL Championship, that’s the meaning of this!” Mark Deltzer replies. “That’s all the reason he needs to come out here. He earned that right by defeating “Big Aug” August Lazar at Magnum Opus and he’s got a golden ticket!”
“That’s all true,” Allie adds, “but to do this now? He’s an attention-starved glory hound hungry for his next bite, plain and simple.”
Aleczander starts the walk and holds out The Hall of Fame plaque and the golden flowers before setting them down in a corner of the ring. He climbs up the steps and then milks the entrance some more… much to Darring’s annoyance. The Gilded Great steps into the ring to come face to face with The Legend as his music fades out. The crowd’s jeers are loud as he grabs a microphone from ringside and eyes up the inaugural champion.
“Sean, Sean, Sean, mate,” Aleczander begins. “Look, mate, I’m sorry. You came out here. You poured your heart out to all these people right here in Miami…”
Pause for a loud cheer from the mention of the town.
“But funny story, mate. I used to live here, too! Seriously! When I first moved to America just over a decade ago to build me shining and stellar wrestling career, I wrestled here in Miami as well! So when I heard these people chanting “YOU DESERVE IT!” Clearly, mate, they were referring to ME when I single-handedly destroyed a GIANT! The Largest Athlete in The GLOBE to win at shot…”
He taps the title currently worn by Darring.
The crowd boos even louder as Aleczander continues his delusions.
“I just wanted to come to get a look at you personally. Because, you may not know this yet… but mate, you and I are about to make history!”
Darring can’t help but indulge.
“Oh? Is that right?” Darring asks.
“Oh, mate, it is! It is! It’s only fitting that you, the undefeated! The unstoppable! The mighty! The talented! The technically-gifted! The beloved Legend of GLOBAL takes on the UNDEFEATED! UNSTOPPABLE! MIGHTY! TALENTED! MUSCLE-Y GIFTED GLOBAL HALL! OF! FAMER!”
Aleczander The Great holds up his hands.
“GLOBAL LEGEND SEAN DARRING! GLOBAL HALL OF FAMER ALECZANDER THE GREAT! THE BIGGEST MATCH IN GLOBAL WRESTLING TODAY!”
Darring looks up with him, then Aleczander turns to face the GLOBAL Champion.
“Don’t waste your time on all those other minnows in the back, mate… you go after the biggest, hungriest, most powerful, goldest, most Hall of Famer-iest shark in the back! The man who… once again… SLAYED A GIANT to earn the right to fight for that championship! I… er, WE want to make MONEY! We want to make MOMENTS! We want to make HISTORY!”
He turns to Darring.
“What do you say, Seanie?”
The Legend listens to the number one contender and then finally responds.
“Aleczander, you make a good … shall I say “great” case. You earned the right to be the number one contender and should get the first shot.”
Aleczander The Great is proud of himself as he has convinced the champion, but the Legend holds up a finger.
“Right here TONIGHT … In front of all these rabid GLOBAL fans. As you called it – The Legend versus The Hall of Famer for the GLOBAL Championship tonight on Domination!”
The GLOBAL Hall of Famer looks around confused…
“Wait… right… now?” He points down at the ground. “Here? Mate… Nah! Nah, I’m talking like…”
The legend nods with encouragement.
“As you said – We will make history, and there isn’t a better place than right here in Miami.”
The POP from the Miami crowd says they agree with Darring.
“There isn’t a better time than right now!”
The crowd BUZZES. They want the first title defense of the GLOBAL Championship and they want it now!
Aleczander looks out to the crowd.
“You know what? You’re right! You’re RIGHT! GLOBAL LEGEND VERSUS THE GLOBAL HALL OF FAMER RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW! YOU’RE ON!”
The Legend smiles, removing his suit coat and the GLOBAL Championship belt as the fans begin to roar in excitement. Aleczander, already dressed for the fight, talks himself up in the corner.
“I… are we really doing this?” Lucas Quinn asks excitedly.
“I think we are!” Allie replies. “The first defense of the GLOBAL Championship right here and now in Miami! Right in the champion’s own backyard!”
“Unbelievable!” Mark Deltzer says. “Boys and girls, we’re about to witness history!
Things seem to be nice and official when official Duncan Sullivan heads out to the ring, which tells the crowd that they are about to get what they have asked for!
Darring is ready!
And Aleczander is ready!
…to bail from the ring.
The Gilded Great rolls out of the ring as Darring and Sullivan look at one another and then back to Aleczander on the outside. He snatches his belongings and grabs the microphone again.
“That doesn’t work for me, mate!” Aleczander screams over the jeers of an outraged crowd. “You might be the GLOBAL Champion! You might be a Legend, but I’m a HALL OF FAMER and I outrank you! It’s the pro-wrestling law! These wankers had the NERVE to boo me when I came out here to grace you all with my presence and I’m not going to wrestle in front of a bunch of ungrateful nobs!”
He gets louder.
“And I’m sure a bunch of you arseholes were out here moments ago chanting for LSD! I ain’t wasting me Hall of Fame prowess and skills on a bunch of Miami druggies who will be too stoned to remember what happened the next morning! No! When we have this match, Darring… when I BEAT you for the GLOBAL Championship, it’s gonna happen on MY time! Not yours! Good night, Miami, eat a giant bag of dicks!”
The crowd boos him out of the arena as he throws the microphone down and completely turns his back to walk away. The Legend slowly picks his suit jacket back off the floor and places the GLOBAL Championship on his right shoulder, looking towards the Hall of Famer.
“I think GLOBAL-Nation here in the Miami Beach Convention Center and all around the globe agree with me when I say – You are a Hall of Famer, alright. A Hall of Fame Coward!”
The Legend is right, GLOBAL-Nation agrees.
Then storms off through the curtain and out of sight.
Lucas Quinn’s tone is one of surprise and excitement in equal measure. “Once again, we’d like to extend our congratulations to GLOBAL’s inaugural champion, but Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m being told there’s some commotion backstage!”
The camera feed cuts to the arena foyer, just in time to see fans scatter and run as Alex Reyn and Freddie Rich come crashing THROUGH the glass door!
‘JESUS!’ Deltzer swears as the two ignore the broken glass digging into them as they roll and brawl on the floor like wild animals!
Allie explains.” These two have been fighting since they GOT here! We’re lucky it didn’t interrupt Darring’s speech!”
The two separate and Freddie rips a Fire extinguisher off the wall! Reyn dodges out of the way, and it bursts on impact with the wall, releasing a cloud of gas and foam! Reyn emerges from the crowd like a specter to drive a knee into Freddie’s gut and ram him headfirst into the marble edge of the reception desk, but a fired up Freddie gets back up, and launches himself at Reyn, even as blood trickles down from a cut above his eye!!
A thunderous sound of footsteps, GLOBAL’S press officer, Alicia Fawkes flanked by a virtual ARMY of security guards aimed with ACTUAL, LOADED PISTOLS (Because when it comes to Alex Reyn, you can never be too careful) immediately getting between the two to separate the fight by a mass of bodies as we hear the front door slide open.
Clad in a light gray suit, which isn’t flattering him at this moment in time, Giovanni Ferrari, the CEO of GLOBAL, arrives on the scene. He is somewhat breathless, betraying his fine physical condition, but more testament to his immediate concern at the commotion and chaos ensuing in front of his eyes.
‘What in the hell is going on? Didn’t I say I wanted more security for tonight? What a mess this is.’
Alicia approaches him.
“Apologies sir. We were able to keep them from interrupting the ceremony, but as you can see…”
She gestured to the carnage before speaking.
“Given Mr. Rich’s unprovoked attack on Mr. Reyn at Magnum Opus. I personally think he’s earned a swift trip HOME. Without pay.”
Ferrari shakes his head incessantly, a combination of disbelief at the scene before him and at Alicia’s assessment. ‘Unprovoked? Not what I heard, even if I am furious at him for sticking his nose in during our first-ever GLOBAL Championship match, not to mention the first pay-per-view main event, but unprovoked? Anyway, it might be better for everyone if he was sent home, Freddie himself first and foremost. That’s not a bad idea.’
He gave a nod towards Freddie, who was still bleeding heavily from that cut above his eye.
“I hope you haven’t been putting too much stock into locker room rumors,” Alicia says with a shake of her head. “Mr. Reyn wasn’t seen anywhere near Frank Rich’s house. Whatever the Riches might claim. Still, I agree with you on the second point. It is best for EVERYONE involved if we send Mr. Rich home.”
Freddie Rich, holding his head for real and nursing a potential concussion, still has enough sense to mockingly put his index fingers in his ears to check for ringing. ‘Me? Send ME home? And not that ANIMAL over there?’
Giovanni puts his hands up, sensitive to Freddie’s situation, and perhaps because of Rich’s disorientation, Freddie forgets who he’s talking to for a minute and doesn’t allow the President and CEO of the company the right to reply.
He points back to a spot, yards away, presumably from where this altercation has taken place. ‘Do you know what he did to my dad? He came to my house two months ago and pretty much threatened me, just because he can’t let go of something from the past. Suspend me? He SHOULD NOT EVEN BE HERE.’ Rich shouts, angry, for the purpose of emphasizing the danger and destruction The East Wind brings with him wherever he goes.
“THAT’S a matter for the courts, not us. We’re in the business of entertainment and in OUR business, you interrupted one of GLOBAL’S biggest shows.” Alicia retorts.
“Yeah, but… Reyn was the one who attacked Freddie tonight.” One of the security guards speaks up.
“Oh, trust me, I’d happily send them BOTH home, but unfortunately, Mr.Reyn is already scheduled in our main event with The Great Wall and, forgive me sir, but I think you’ll agree we don’t want whatever this petty feud is to interrupt ANOTHER main event.”
Freddie shakes his head, while still holding it, and a rather large blot of blood is seen on his right hand. ‘You guys, man. EVEN for wrestling promoters, you’re cold. Heartless. He attacks my dad, puts him in the FUCKING hospital, and all you care about is your precious main events. Do whatever the fuck you want. I’m gone.’ Freddie departs the scene, visibly shaken not only in agony, but also anger, resigned to a potential suspension – or worse – from the GLOBAL board.
Jarrod Cruz, Giovanni’s most trusted confidant, looks Freddie up and down, and Jarrod ‘thumbs back’ at Freddie, flustered himself and with visible sweat patches on his light blue shirt. ‘What happened to him? I got here as quickly as I could.’ He states, holding his hands up in an apologetic manner, to Giovanni, who is still flustered at the entire scene.
‘Alex attacked him and what I’ve been told is he smacked Freddie’s head off the wall, and judging by his behavior, I wonder if Freddie might have a concussion, in which case it would be better if he were sent home.’ Ferrari reasons.
Cruz ushers his partner away from Alicia for a moment for a ‘quiet’ word. ‘I hate to be that guy, but Freddie and Alex clearly want each other in the ring. The Great Wall is a test for anyone. Listen, just listen for a second, okay? It’s wrestling. These guys and girls hurt each other every time we go on air, it’s kind of the point, right? Reyn v Rich is much more attractive, much more appealing and like you told us a few weeks ago, Reyn’s got eyeballs on the product. We’ve got a show coming off a hot pay-per-view, two people pissed off at each other, and an episode to get through. Let these guys have at it, which is each other, because if we don’t, it’s gonna happen on the streets anyway.’
Ferrari shakes his head, but Cruz’s raised eyebrows and continuous stare makes Giovanni rethink. Slowly, Giovanni gives him a nod, slaps him on the shoulder and Cruz grins.
“Sir, I really don’t think this lack of professionalism should be rewarded with-”
Giovanni walks past Alicia, ignoring her advice, and raises his voice. ‘FREDDIE…FREDDIE RICH.’
The elder statesman of The Rich Family turns upon hearing his name shouted for a second time, giving Giovanni time to make up the fifteen meters between them, strolling up to his employee, sticking his hand in Freddie’s face. ‘You got your match, but make it count, my friend.’
Ferrari gets his fingers out. ‘One, you tried to ruin our main event at Magnum Opus. Two, I’ve never had to come down here for anything in the four months we have been open. Three, don’t ever FUCKING speak to me like that again. So, yes, you can have Reyn tonight, but it might be your last. Good luck.’
“Once again, you make the wiser decision, Giovanni,” Reyn says, stepping forward, his gaze still fixed on Freddie Rich. “It’s so refreshing when the parasites stay out of my way.”
His lips curl into a snarl.
“He interfered in MY fight. I’d rip him apart with or without your permission. But now you get to make your oh, so precious money off of his execution.”
Freddie laughs out loud. ‘EXECUTION? He hospitalizes my dad and threatens me within earshot of every GLOBAL Director, all in the name of getting some previous viewers? Hey Reyn, I’ll raise you. Sure, I’ll face you. Done. You can do whatever the Hell you want to ME, I’ll even sign legal papers. But, after tonight, you leave my family alone. And I want THAT in writing too! So, yeah, do your worst to me, maim or even kill me live on GLOBAL television, and give Giovanni and these guys what they want. After tonight, though, you leave my family out of it. Deal?’
There is a slow tilt of the head from Reyn.
Alicia threw her hands into the air in exasperation.
“Marvelous! The man who interrupted our biggest match gets a main event spot! Mr. Ferrari, I’ll make the necessary arrangements, and then I’m going to the ladies’ room to wash my hands of ALL of this.”
With a look of disgust at Reyn and Freddie, she turns on her heels and walks away.
A smiling Xiang, arriving on the scene from ten meters away, points at Giovanni incredulously. Ferrari immediately fires the first shot. ‘How do you already know?’
Xiang arches his hands toward his own chest. ‘They call me The Artist of War, and it’s for a reason. If you’re removing The Great Wall not only from the main event but the tournament, then we BOTH want assurances our time will come. I see you’re busy, and I’m not an unreasonable man, but rest assured, we will meet.’
Xiang does a double take when he turns around and sees two men, 6’9 and 6’6 respectively, standing side by side and looking down at Alex Reyn, who recognizes them both.
Giovanni palm strikes his own head, seemingly having forgotten about his meeting with the cowboy-hat-wearing Texan and arm-folded Paoli powerhouse and 19-time World Heavyweight Champion never take their eyes off Reyn, who slides away, ready to exact revenge on Freddie Rich in tonight’s main event.
‘Chris, Hank, thank you so much for agreeing to me with me.’
Chris Hopper and Hank Wright look at one another, unfolding their arms. ‘It looks like we came along at exactly the WRIGHT time.’ Hank jokes.
Hopper rolls his eyes. ‘You just had to do it, didn’t you?’
‘It woulda been rude not to.’
Giovanni and Jarrod escort Chris and Hank away, or should that be the other way round, to a quieter refuge, where they can discuss a whole host of matters.
THE QUEEN'S BANQUET
“Now, why on Earth is there nothing fit for a Queen to eat?!”
The Queen speaks in a demanding tone towards the catering staff member, who looks confused at the statement from the Queen. The Queen, however, takes the facial expression as an insult.
“What is this? Just because that street punk beat me in some barbaric street fight? Are you going to disrespect me by not responding? All of this food is meant for peasants! Look at the grease dripping from this pizza!”
Bianca points at the slice of Pizza under the warming tray as the catering woman responds.
Bianca quickly cuts her off disrespectfully.
“How dare you! You will address me as your majesty! Is that understood?”
Suddenly, the lights in the catering section go out, with the exception of one small spotlight. After a brief pause, The Jester steps under the light, his mouth wide open with a toothy grin, his tongue lapping around his lips.
His shrill voice, like the sound of your mother-in-law yelling your name from the bathroom, reels off a rhyme;
“My liege thou art a temple,
last week the angel you ought have disassemble…d.
Yet yee failed, so I am here to say
I’m going to cheer, cheer, cheer up your day!”
The lights click back on and Queen Bianca stands alone, the catering employee having taken the opportunity of the brief blackout to escape the clutches of the irritating queen.
Bianca looks fuming, her nostrils flaring, a vein popping out of the side of her neck.
“GUARDS!” she exclaims, looking around and spotting her entourage standing a few feet away, twiddling their collective fingers. “What are you doing, don’t you see him? Get him out of here!”
The guards look at Bianca, then at The Jester, then briefly at their shoes, then back at Bianca.
Meanwhile, The Jester stands juggling three juggling balls and grinning from ear to ear.
“I said get him out of here!” Bianca screams.
The royal guards move forward to grab The Jester. As they lunge at him, he sidesteps them, causing them to fall in a heap. He hurls his juggling balls to the ground, and they explode into thick plumes of white smoke, which quickly fills the room.
The Queen and her entourage cough and splutter, their hands flailing around in the air trying to clear the smoke; however, once it has dissipated it becomes apparent that The Jester is gone, leaving The Queen standing in the thinning smoke, fuming.
The night of Magnum Opus
Somewhere in Hollywood
“Whooo!! That shit ROCKED, son!”
“Hell yeah, it did!”
Hayley Robinson’s two blond brothers, still coming down from the natural high of their match at Magnum Opus, whoop excitedly as they share a high-five, under the amused gaze of their two older siblings.
“So…all y’all fixin’ to stick around?” Hayley – still technically the only member of the family officially contracted to GLOBAL Wrestling – looks around at all three men around her to indicate the question is for all of them.
“Hell, why not?” The youth known as Destruktor, real name Aiden Robinson, shrugs. “Ain’t nothin’ but the XBox waitin’ for us back in Arkansaw…”
His older and remarkably similar looking older brother – known in the ring as Brutalizer, with an umlaut, because that is the most metal way of spelling it – hastens to agree, but the third and oldest of the men presents a valid argument.
“Hell, y’all, I cain’t. I gots to go back to work on Monday. Bad enough, I done took a whole week off already…”
“Man, fuck that!” Young Aiden waves the wad of notes in his hand, equivalent to the amount paid to a guest performer at GLOBAL. “You ain’t never gon’ make this kind’a money pumpin’ no gas! Just tell Ol’ Joe to suck it!”
“I cain’t, y’all…” The oldest of the brothers looks as apologetic as he does serious. “Ol’ Joe been good to me all these years…he could’a done gotten som’body else to do my job, but he ain’t never get rid o’ me. ‘sides, say I quit at the gas pump…the hell we gon’ put food on the table for two weeks, or a month?”
“BRO!” Aiden all but shouts as he waves his bills in his brother’s face again. “Drew…dude…the hell you think we fixin’ to do with this? We ain’t buyin’ no TV dinners, I can tell ya that! Naw, son…we goin’ fancy like Applebee’s on a date night!”
“Aid…” It is Hayley’s turn to cut in. “If Drew ain’t wanna do it, then he ain’t gotta do it.”
“Naw, fuck that.” Aiden is oddly incensed as he whirls around to face his sister. “It ain’t work like that. If we gon’ do this, we ALL gon’ do this.”
“You just chickenshit ’cause you ain’t never been nowhere without Drew…!” Chris Brutalizer’s response startles his brother, who spins back in the opposite direction, glaring. This, however, does not faze Chris in the slightest. “Hell, bro, you know it. Raven’s gone off an’ done it all on her lonesome. Two a’ us…? We ain’t never gone nowhere like that. Even back when we was in that place a couple years back, we always come home to Drew and Raven.” The middle brother places his hand on his younger sibling’s shoulder. “Look, ain’t no shame in that…I’m just sayin’…”
While his two brothers have this discussion, Drew is busy counting the money, and realizing just how much of it there is – even without him getting paid for his appearance. He therefore wears a surprised – almost shocked – expression on his features as he turns to his sister.
“Y’all make this much ev’ry time?”
“Shiiiieeeeet.” Hayley grins. “That there’s guest pay. Contract folk make way MORE’n’that. Me ‘n’ Ross was makin’ rent no problem, an’ we done had some left over for like dates ‘n’ shit…”
Drew definitely appears interested at this point. “An’ that’s ev’ry couple weeks?”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
“An’ they good for it? They pay you reg’lar? No bullshit excuses ‘n’ shit?”
“Not for me, man…”
Drew cracks a rare smile at Hayley’s words. “Daaaaaayum. Guess I better start thinkin’ ’bout how to let Ol’ Joe down easy.”
Aiden and Chris are within earshot for this, and promptly rush and crowd their older brother. “You for real, Drew? You fixin’ to stay on with us?”
“Hell, they ’bout to pay me for babysittin’ y’all…” He grins and winks. “I already do that shit anyway, an’ ain’t nobody pay me for it!”
The two younger boys whoop again, chest-bumping and hugging both each other and their siblings.
“Hell yeah, muthafucka!!”
“The METAL MILITIA is BACK, bitcheeeeesss!!!”
With that, the two take off running towards the entrance of the Arby’s the entire family is about to go into, whooping and hollering as they race each other, leaving the two older Robinsons to shake their heads and roll their eyes at each other.
“Anybody asks, they ain’t with us.” Hayley smiles at her brother, who returns a grin.
They are still chuckling when they enter the restaurant and join their brothers in line.
BIG AUG Vs. SON OF MALTA
“We’ve got a HUGE match-up coming up next! Our first match in the tournament to crown a new contender for the GLOBAL Championship!” Lucas Quinn tells the fans. “Four quarter-final matches on deck and our first one is quite a contrast of styles when the technically-savvy veteran, Son of Malta, takes on the man who got cheated out of the Number One Contender’s spot by Aleczander… I’m talking “Big Aug” August Lazar!”
“That was a great fight between he and Aleczander The Great,” Mark Deltzer says. “But it was marred by interference from Aleczander’s new buddies, The Best of British and the help of a weapon he would identify later as his Hall of Fame ring.”
“Big Aug’s efforts were praised by GLOBAL Wrestling’s higher-ups and hence why he was placed in this tournament!” Allie says. “Meanwhile, Son of Malta is coming off a big win over Darren Best at Magnum Opus in his own right and wants to follow that up by breaking the giant Big Aug down to size! Let’s get to that in-ring action now with “Downtown” Jason Brown ready for the introductions!
The Miami crowd cheer for the opening bell to signify the first match on tonight’s first traveling show for GLOBAL Wrestling!
I go by the name of Dame Jones
I’m with my crew
And we gon’ show y’all what we be snacking on
“Hot Cheetos and Takis” by Da Rich Kidzz.
TOWERING through the entrance, the dirty-blonde monster with hair tied back in a bun, wearing a red and black sleeveless bodysuit walks out and raises a finger in the air! He looks out to the cheering crowd with a box in hand. Just like his two prior appearances, August Lazar’s best friend and manager, Del Waterstone, records the entrance on his phone while wearing the first bit of August’s GLOBAL merchandise, a red “Chow Time” apron with a pair of cartoon teeth around the logo.
“GLOBAL WRESTLINGS! I’M JUST GETTING STARTED! BIG AUG TAKING THIS TOURNAMENT HOME!” yells Big Aug to the hard camera in front of him.
On his way down the red carpet, he opens the box and starts throwing out various packs of candy, peanuts, jerky and other snacks to the GLOBAL fans.
“Let ‘em know, Augie, let ‘em know!” Del shouts. “Tonight, it’s Chow Time!”
Big Aug hands Big Aug’s Big Snack Box to Del and then pulls himself up to the ring apron.
“Introducing first…” “Downtown” Jason Brown makes the announcement. “From Clearwater, Florida, by way of Romania… accompanied by manager, Del Waterstone… he stands SEVEN-FOOT FOUR and weighs in at THREE-HUNDRED NINETY-NINE pounds…
Big Aug holds a finger for every nickname he’s been given…
“He is Everyone’s Zest Friend… Boss of the Sauce… Mr. Spice Guy… One Giant Tasty Snack… The Man with an Appetite For Life… The Man With The Iron Stomach… and The Largest Athlete in The GLOBE…”
Brown takes an exaggerated breath as Big Aug poses in the ring.
“BIG AUG” AUGUST LAZAR!”
Wrestling’s Largest Foodie raises his hands in the air to cheers from the crowd of his home state! Del takes off the “Chow Time” apron and then gives it over to a young kid in attendance to take home! Del resumes filming just as the energetic giant jumps in place, getting himself ready for the task ahead against a true veteran of the sport.
After all the pomp and circumstance is done, “The Maltese National Anthem” hits the PA system, which can only mean one thing: the dangerous Son of Malta emerges from the curtains to a mixed reaction. The GLOBAL nation hasn’t made up its mind about the dangerous technician. The announcers talk about how dangerous the veteran is, and if he gets you locked in that Maltese Cross, it’s all but over.
“And his opponent…” announces Brown. “Proudly representing his home country of Malta… weighing in at 242 pounds… he is SON! OF! MALTA!”
Son of Malta pays the fans, even the cheering ones, no mind as his focus is solely on capitalizing on momentum gained from Magnum Opus with his win over Darren Best. He stops at the steps and pays no mind to Del Waterstone at ringside as he walks up the steps. He stares down Big Aug from the apron, then climbs inside.
“What a clash of styles, like you said Lucas,” Allie says. “Son of Malta, a decorated veteran of many organizations with many titles to his name. Big Aug has a decent resume of his own outside of GLOBAL for his relatively short wrestling experience, but both men are looking to this tournament for their first taste of gold here in GLOBAL itself!”
Lucas agrees. “Big Aug! The Largest Athlete in The GLOBE. Powerhouse with some deceptive bursts of explosiveness. Son of Malta. A cold, calculating technical mastermind that has broken down some of the biggest and best put in front of him.”
Referee Shane Staggs looks to both men to see if they’re ready…
The Snack Daddy charges forward, but Son of Malta moves out of the overzealous giant’s way! Son of Malta goes right at the left leg with a pair of kicks – the same target that Aleczander exploited against the giant back at Magnum Opus just under two weeks ago. When he inches the giant lower with another kick to the knee, the technical fighter uses some of that MMA background to fire off a pair of big elbows to the side of Big Aug’s head.
The Largest Athlete in The GLOBE tries to get his guard up, so Son of Malta goes low and attacks the leg again with another trifecta of hard kicks! He has the giant backed up against the ropes and then fires off a series of kicks to the knee and forearms to the face.
“Guard up, Augie, guard up!” Del shouts from ringside to his best friend.
The Maltese Mauler dares Big Aug to take a shot. He does… but SoM sidesteps it and then goes at the leg again with another kick, baiting Big Aug right into an opening that he can exploit!
With Big Aug in the ropes, Malta tries to grab a leg and do some damage… but before he is able to get anything going, Big Aug palms the back of SoM’s head and sends the technician off to the ropes. The home state of Big Aug cheers the former NBA player on as he has Son of Malta up on his shoulders for all to see! The Miami crowd gives the big guy some love as he paces around with Son of Malta on his shoulders fighting to slip out…
Right into a gorilla press toss from almost eight feet in the air!
The wind gets knocked out of Son of Malta quickly after the first big offensive move from The Boss of the Sauce. Augie looks out to the GLOBAL Nation.
“MAKE SOME NOISE! LET’S GO!” he screams, getting a loud ovation!
When Son of Malta tries to stand again, he gets walloped by a hefty clothesline from the former NBA player. Big Aug then hits the ropes and measures his target carefully…
Dropping a HUGE elbow drop on his chest! Big Aug goes for a cover with the elbow remaining on the veteran’s chest!
Son of Malta uses his legs to kick up and out of the first pinfall attempt of the match.
A bound and determined Big Aug grabs Son of Malta by the arm and pulls him up, only to get stopped short with another kick to the leg! Lazar winces in pain as he throws another kick to the leg of the giant. He grabs the arm and then brings it down across his shoulders! Big Aug howls in pain when Malta tries to go to drag the big man down to the mat for what might be a fujiwara armbar attempt… but Big Aug is too strong!
He launches Son of Malta across the ring with a big whip! He hits the corner and that allows Mr. Spice Guy to hit the corner with a huge running back elbow on the technically-savvy vet! SoM gets hurt and then wobbles back, but Big Aug has plans in mind right now…
HUGE BIEL TOSS ACROSS THE RING!
The 242-pound and six-foot three Son of Malta is thrown more than halfway across the ring like it were a simple task from The Largest Athlete in The GLOBE! He hits his back and tries to hobble back to his feet against the ropes when a freight train by the name of August Lazar comes at him and clotheslines him over the top rope and out to the floor! Son of Malta is down on the outside as Big Aug takes a moment to bask in the reception of the state he calls home.
“Come on, Augie, take it home! Take it home!” Del shouts.
As he gets caught up in the moment, Son of Malta is still stumbling around ringside trying to get back up after being mauled in the last couple of minutes by The Boss of the Sauce. Said Boss of Said Sauce steps over the ropes and goes out to the floor. He wants to earn the win over a respected veteran like Son of Malta nothing less.
The train known as Big Aug starts to get on the tracks quickly as he has the veteran lined up. He grabs Son of Malta and now he’s on his shoulders! Malta tries to fight out of the grip of the giant as he looks to possibly hit the snake eyes portion of the Food Chain combo…
Son of Malta slips out behind the massive giant!
…and Big Aug takes a thunking right into the ring post. He hobbles back a few moments after being introduced to steel.
Son of Malta hits him with a running high knee to the ribs…
And Big Aug greets the ring post a second time!
The crowd can’t believe it! After some careful maneuvering, Son of Malta looks to be in control of the match again. He rolls inside to catch his breath while the two trips to ring post boulevard have rung the bell of Mr. Spice Guy. He’s slumped over on the floor as Shane Staggs’ count starts.
Son of Malta doesn’t necessarily want the countout win, but he’s stunned from Big Aug’s earlier barrage.
Big Aug finally shakes the cobwebs free!
The big man gets into the ring… and right into the tight grip of a front facelock from Son of Malta, who waited him out! While Big Aug is laying on the mat after sliding back into the ring, Malta attacks with a barrage of grounded knee strikes to the big man! He continues raining them down while the crowd boos the big man from Florida being pummeled by the technical fighter.
After the knees, he stands up and switches to elbows again, raining down some 12-6 elbows down on the top of Big Aug’s head as he tries to get up to his knees. Malta fires a few more off and then grabs the neck of Big Aug, trying to soften him up with a MMA-style chokehold.
“This tournament is mine to win, Lazar!” Son of Malta shouts. “Not yours!”
He keeps on shaking the giant’s neck as he’s down on the mat! He continues to hold the neck, but Big Aug tries to fight back!
Del leads the people in more chants of “BIG AUG!” as The Boss of the Sauce tries to get back to his feet. Slowly, he starts to rise even with the added weight of Son of Malta on his back! Just when he tries to get SoM off of his back, the veteran slips out and then pushes Big Aug into the ropes with all his might. The momentum sends the back man right back into the waiting grip of Malta…
RELEASE GERMAN SUPLEX ON THE BIG MAN!
The GLOBAL Nation lets out a collective SHOCK after Son of Malta uses Big Aug’s own movement against him to hit a HUGE release German suplex that will no doubt stay with his accruing list of highlights on his GLOBAL reel! Del jumps up and can’t believe it as August Lazar has been dropped to the canvas.
Son of Malta starts to stand up as Big Aug tries to gather his surroundings…
The top-level superkick taught to him by former mentor, “Superstar” Vince Jacobs, the Superstar Kick NAILS Big Aug right on the button and drops the big man on his back! Son of Malta goes for a quick cover and the crowd can’t believe it!
Son of Malta is shocked after Big Aug powers out and throws him off his upper body! The veteran sits up and glares at Staggs, but the fall was only a two-count! Son of Malta doesn’t let the moment pass him by as Big Aug tries to get back to his feet, this time going low again and trying an ankle lock to chop the big man down to size while he’s still grounded!
The Boss of the Sauce is howling in pain after Son of Malta tries to rip the ankle off the redwood-like leg of his, but he tries to gut it out! The big man doesn’t let Malta get too far!
He inches closer to the ropes…
AND GETS IT!
The perks of being a 7’4” giant (even a grounded one) bear some fruit for The World’s Largest Foodie as he clutches the bottom rope! Son of Malta milks the five-count to relinquish the hold, but backs just before the full five, not wanting to have a tournament spot lost due to disqualification of all things. Big Aug tries to stand up again, but once more Malta is on the leg and clips it from behind with a big kick. He goes to grab August by his neck again with a front facelock…
But Big Aug fights his way out…
AND SLAMS HIM DOWN WITH A RELEASE FLAPJACK!
Once more, Son of Malta gets powered up and dropped down from a big height with another power move from The Boss of the Sauce! Everyone’s Zest Friend tries to catch his breath and make sure his left leg has some mobility while Malta is trying to get air back after a seven-foot fall to the mat just took it away.
The GLOBAL Nation get behind the giant when he waits for Son of Malta to get back to his feet, followed by waffling him with a big clothesline off the ropes! Malta tries to scramble back up in a daze, only to collide with Big Aug’s big arm a second time! Big Aug lets the crowd cheer him on as he pulls up Malta and then whips him off the ropes. The Largest Athlete in The GLOBE runs off adjacent corner…
A HUGE running shoulder block off the other side sends Son of Malta stumbling ass over tea kettle and down to the mat! Big Aug crawls over and goes for the cover!
Just barely, Malta escapes defeat! But Big Aug doesn’t let himself get dissuaded, thinking back to Magnum Opus where Aleczander The Great stole the Number One Contendership from him.
He has the match in hand when he grabs Malta by the throat and hoists him up. He goes for a chokeslam…
Out of desperation, Son of Malta latches onto his neck for dear life and makes use of his MMA background once again to try and rob the giant of his oxygen supply! Big Aug goes down to the ground on his knees as Malta keeps the hold wrapped tightly! When he gets Lazar down to the canvas, he tries to switch out and roll on his back…
He’s looking for The Maltese Cross!
He tries to hook the hold on him, but Big Aug yells out! With one last surge of power, he has Malta on his back before he can fully apply the double underhook crossface! Big Aug fights back to a knee… THEN TO HIS FEET! He throws Son of Malta up to catch him in a belly to back position…
The GLOBAL Nation explodes when Big Aug DRILLS Son of Malta into the canvas with a last-ditch belly to back lift into a chokeslam! He presses down with both hands on his chest for the final cover!
DING DING DING
“Hot Cheetos and Takis” by Da Rich Kidzz plays to the cheers of the GLOBAL Nation as Big Aug hobbles to his feet, still trying to catch his breath after Malta worked over his skull and tried to rob him of air for some of the bout! Big Aug looks at Del, knowing he has been through a fight tonight, but at the end of the day, the massive Lazar is victorious!
Son of Malta is helped out of the ring by Staggs while Del enters the ring to celebrate the massive win with his best friend.
“GLOBAL WRESTLINGS!” Big Aug’s voices booms to the ringside camera. “BIG AUG GOING FOR GLOBAL TITLES! ONE MATCH DOWN… TWO TO GO!”
The celebration continues as the show moves on!
“Are you happy with your smile?” the voice-over man asks as a group of models sits around a table in a coffee shop, smiling and laughing. The sounds of laughter are muted, and instead a gentle instrumental song plays over the top.
“Are you happy… with your smile?” he asks again.
Now the models are having a picnic in the park, laughing.
“Are you HAPPY… with your SMILE?” he asks again, more emphatically.
The models are on a rollercoaster, laughing.
“Are you happy…?”
Sat in the cinema, eating popcorn, laughing.
“Are you HAPPY with your SMILE?”
Trying on clothes in a high-end boutique, laughing.
“With your SMILE?”
Jogging in the park, laughing.
“Are you happy… with your SMILE? With your SMILE? Are you HAPPY with your SMILE?” incredulous now.
Walking their dogs. Loads of dogs. Laughing.
“Are you happy, you know, the feeling happy? Are you HAPPY with your SMILE?”
One model now sits in a dentists chair. Laughing.
“If you aren’t HAPPY with your SMILE, maybe you should get your teeth whitened.”
The dentist puts a mask over the model’s face, twisting the laughing gas knob. The dentist is laughing. The model is laughing.
“Are you HAPPY with your SMILE now?”
The dentist turns the gas up more. They are laughing.
He turns it up more. They laugh more. The model holds his sides, laughing.
Suddenly, the model’s head explodes. Blood and brains spatter the dentists white smock, his white walls, his posters on dental hygiene, his stainless steel sink, his light fitting above.
“How about NOW? Are you HAPPY with your smile NOW?”
THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE GYM (I)
Jabari pushes open the heavy metal door to the Slaughterhouse Gym, the sound of the rusted hinges squeaking in protest. As he steps inside, he’s hit with the familiar stench of sweat and iron. The gritty, rundown facility looks the same as it always has – the walls covered in cracks and graffiti, the floors stained with sweat and blood, and the equipment old and worn. It’s a place where fighters come to push themselves to the limit. Jabari takes a deep breath and walks further into the gym, feeling the intensity of the atmosphere. Jabari’s eyes are immediately drawn to the pro wrestling ring situated in the center of the room. Jabari spots Cillian Hall inside the ring.
So, Cillian Hall is black, 6’6 and 226 – quite wiry and wearing a green and white Adidas vest. He has black hair and a lovely smile. Think of a young Magic Johnson.
Jabari then notices Daniel Dream, wearing a white T-shirt, approaching from beside the pro wrestling ring. The two men greet each other with a high-five before pulling each other into a tight, friendly hug.
“Jabari, how’s it going?” Daniel asks.
“What up, dawg?” Jabari asks.
Daniel says, “Cillian is going to be helping us with our workout. And he’s going to help me with a few moves if you want to join us.”
“I don’t know, man,” Jabari says, hesitantly. “I’ve only been a match analyst, I’ve never wrestled before.”
“That’s okay,” Daniel reassures. “You got a great mind for the sport, you’re already athletic, I believe you can be a great wrestler.”
Jabari thinks about it for a moment before glancing up at Cillian Hall. Jabari starts nodding.
“Okay, let’s do it.”
Jabari steps into the ring, feeling a rush of adrenaline as he steps between the ropes. Cillian steps forward and begins to explain, “The headlock is a bread-and-butter move for wrestlers,” he says, “a lot of people use this move because it’s simple and effective.”
He demonstrates the move, placing his arm around Jabari’s neck and pulling his head into his armpit. “Once you have the headlock in place, you can apply pressure by squeezing your arm against their neck,” Cillian explains. “But be careful not to apply too much pressure, or you could injure your opponent.”
Jabari nods, taking mental notes as Cillian continues, “You can also wrench your opponent’s neck to make the hold more painful,” Cillian says, demonstrating by twisting his body and pulling Jabari’s head to the side.
Jabari feels the pressure of the headlock and winces slightly as Cillian applies more pressure.
Cillian says, releasing the headlock, “Alright, let’s move on to something a little more advanced. This one’s called the Sleeper Hold. First, you need to get behind your opponent and wrap your dominant arm around their neck. Make sure it’s snug, but not too tight. You don’t want to cut off their air completely.”
Jabari positions himself behind Cillian, sliding his arm around his neck as instructed.
“Good,” Cillian says. “Now tuck your forearm under their chin and wrap their neck tight. This will help to keep the hold in place.”
Jabari does as he’s told, tucking his forearm under Cillian’s chin and tightening his grip.
“Next, put your non-dominant hand behind their head,” Cillian instructs, “You can use it to apply a little extra pressure if needed.”
Jabari positions his other hand behind Cillian’s head, ready to add more pressure if necessary.
“Finally, grab your non-dominant bicep with your dominant hand,” Cillian says. “This will lock the hold in place and make it even harder for your opponent to escape.”
Jabari follows Cillian’s instructions and locks in the Sleeper Hold, feeling the pressure build around Cillian’s neck.
“Excellent,” Cillian says, impressed with Jabari’s execution of the hold. “You’ve got the hang of it. Just remember, this is a dangerous move, so use it with caution.”
Jabari releases the Sleeper Hold. Cillian turns around, steps forward, grinning as he says, “Alright, now let’s work on some flashy moves. How about a superkick?”
Jabari nods, watching intently as Cillian demonstrates the move on Lee Matthews, Daniel’s instructor. A strong, athletic man with dark hair and hazel eyes. Jabari tries to mimic the movement but stumbles a bit at first.
“Remember to keep your balance, and follow through with the kick,” Cillian advises. “That’s what gives it the impact you’re looking for.”
Jabari nods eagerly as Cillian takes a step back and motions for Daniel to come forward. Daniel approaches and stands in front of Jabari, bracing himself for the move.
“Alright, Jabari, here’s how it goes,” Cillian explains. “First, you need to lift your dominant foot up and position it behind your non-dominant foot. Then, you want to snap your leg forward, hitting your opponent in the chin with the ball of your foot. And make sure you really follow through with it for maximum impact.”
Jabari nods and takes a deep breath, then lifts his leg and snaps it forward, connecting with Daniel’s chin. Daniel stumbles back into the ropes but manages to keep his balance.
Cillian positions Daniel in front of Jabari. Cillian says, “Okay, Jabari, for this move, you’re going to grab Daniel’s head and jump forward, bringing him down with you.”
Jabari nods and steps towards Daniel, grabbing his head with both hands. He jumps forward, pulling Daniel down with him and slamming him onto the mat with a cutter.
Cillian nods approvingly. “Nice work, Jabari. That’s a good cutter. Remember to keep the motion fluid and fast. Now, let’s try something even more impressive. How about a powerbomb?”
Daniel steps forward again. Cillian stands behind Jabari, guiding him through the move.
“Okay, Jabari, you’re gonna grab Daniel by the waist and lift him up so he’s sitting on your shoulders,” Cillian explains. “Then, you want to drop down to your knees, driving his back into the mat. It’s a big move, so make sure you’re using your legs to lift him up and control the fall.”
Jabari nods and takes a deep breath, bending Daniel over with a kick to the gut, then reaches forward and grabs Daniel’s waist. With a grunt, he lifts Daniel up onto his shoulders, then drops down to his knees, driving Daniel into the mat with a loud thud.
Daniel groans as he lands flat on his back, holding his back. “Oof, that was a good one,” he says, grinning up at Jabari. “You’re a natural, man.”
Cillian says, “Okay, Jabari, for this next move, you’re going to apply a Figure Four Kneebar on Daniel from the powerbomb position.”
Jabari moves into position, grabbing Daniel’s legs, crossing and twisting them into a Figure Four shape.
Cillian watches closely, making sure Jabari has the hold applied correctly. “Good, now twist and apply pressure on his knee. Make sure you’re putting enough pressure to make him submit, but not enough to injure him.”
Jabari nods and starts to twist Daniel’s leg, applying pressure to the knee. Jabari can see that the injury Daniel sustained early in his career is affecting him, making the hold all the more painful. Jabari’s technique is too perfect, the hold too agonizing. Daniel’s face contorts in pain as he tries to hold out, but it’s no use. Daniel taps out repeatedly, signaling that he gives up, unable to take any more of the excruciating pain.
Cillian smiles and nods approvingly. “Great job, Jabari. You’re really picking this up quickly. Keep practicing, and you’ll be a pro in no time.”
PRIME TIME CELEBRATION
GLOBAL is in Miami, and that can only mean one thing. While GLOBAL’s roster is hard at work back at the Miami Beach Convention Center. GLOBAL’s top A-listers – Jimmy Classic and “The Suplex Ninja” Trae Larkin, are still celebrating their prime-time performance at Magnum Opus live from one of Miami’s top beaches, Bal Harbor Beach. Jimmy Classic stops entertaining the gathered crowd to focus on the connected live feedback to Domination.
“GLOBAL-Nation, our sincere apologies that the Prime Time Athletes couldn’t be there with you tonight. You see, we all have our strengths and roles. And after a masterful performance by Trae and myself – we received the honor and assignment right here at Miami’s finest!”
Jimmy Classic grabs the live feed camera and does a slow 360 spin showing the highlight on one of Miami’s amazing beaches. Jimmy then sits the camera back on its tripod and continues with a smug smile.
“With a Mai-Tai in hand, I toast our masterful performance in doing everything we said we would do. Standing with T, Trae and I told the world we were once-in-a-lifetime athletes. We are the one-percenter alpha males that every man wishes they were, and every woman wishes they were with. The Health Fanatics learned firsthand that competing with pure natural greatness takes more than a gym body.”
Jimmy Classic’s partner, Trae Larkin, has joined his partner as the commotion of celebration continues around them. Jimmy pats his partner on the shoulder and continues.
“In our debut match on the biggest stage of them all, we changed the tag team scene overnight. No longer are they talking about the Health Fanatics. No longer are they talking about the Master Sisters, and even the Rich Family is starting to become an afterthought. The Prime Time Athletes came, we saw, and at Magnum Opus, we conquered.”
Cheers all around as Jimmy Classic raises his drink. While Jimmy Classic drinks in celebration, the more methodical of the two, Trae Larkin speaks.
“Everybody wants to know now that Magnum Opus is over, and we embarrassed the Health Fanatics, what is next for the Prime Time Athletes? Who can compete with complete greatness?”
Trae looks around as if he is asking if there is anyone.
“In our first interview, we called out the Rich Family. Everyone considers them the measuring stick around here. I think it’s safe to say that after slicing through the Health Fanatics on the biggest stage, it’s time to find out if the old boys are ready for Prime Time.”
Jimmy Classic nods in agreement as the waitress brings the tag team into full celebration mode for another round of drinks.
“Rich Family, you are now on the clock. It’s the past versus the present. The hardest part of being an athlete is accepting younger, faster; better athletes do come along. Deciding it’s time to hang up the boots. We all age out of greatness. That’s what the hall of fame is for. The Prime Time Athletes are here to help you in that journey.”
Trae Larkin glares into the camera, delivering a message to the tag team royal family. While things have gotten a little serious, the celebration mood continues as Jimmy Classic chimes in to give one final message.
“The rest of you, enjoy your night working for your paycheck. We will continue to live the life you all dream of living.”
The scene shifts to backstage here in Miami where Steve Blaine has just managed to catch the masked man known as Gemini. Gemini is walking away wearing a black T-shirt with purple letters on the back that say “You Know what I mean”
The front of that black shirt in bold, purple letters, simply shows 3 little letters that are “FTK” which we see as the surly veteran turns around and just gives a huff under his breath.
“If it is alright with you, I’d like to ask you a couple of things.” Blaine asks this knowing that it is 50/50 that there is agreement.
After a deep breath, the masked superstar takes a deep breath and exhales with a louder than expected, “What.”
“Well,” a shocked look over Steve’s face as he stumbles through, “There are a lot of questions about how you managed to appear at Magnum Opus after the beating you had received.”
“Man,” Gemini stands defiantly as he answers, “You’ve heard of ‘Mansplaining’ something to a lady?”
Blaine’s face stays blank.
“Anyway,” the masked enigma continues, “It is where you have to explain something really, really, annoyingly easy for somebody to get it. So I guess I’m about to ‘Moronsplain” you something, Blaine.”
“I don’t think I’m that stu…”
Blaine’s words cut off as Gemini grabs the microphone out of his hand.
“You see, when a man like myself takes a beating, the body heals fast because the mind is strong,” he says pointing to his temple with his free hand. “And when the mind is strong there is nothing, anybody, can do to hold me down.”
He turns his gaze toward Blaine.
“And that is exactly what kids like you, Reyn, and so many others want to do to me – hold me down and beat me into oblivion,” the veteran states. “But that won’t happen. I’m too strong! And you know what that means to me? It is the real meaning when I say, Fuck Them Kids.”
“OH MY GOD, YOU SHOULDN’T SAY THAT!”
A voice rings out and both men look to their left as a large individual walks into the frame. He is wearing sweats and is pushing 400 lbs if he is an ounce. The largest man in the screen’s view, and his face suddenly goes from concerned to almost angry when he enters the frame and sees Steve Blaine.
“You gotta be fucking with me!” The large man states.
“Chris Smith!” Blaine rings out loudly. “You found your way to Global?”
“Listen, I know why this poor bastard is saying things like that about the kids,” Smith states as Gemini looks at him knowing he just explained it.
“And why is that ‘Big Kid’?” Steve retorts.
“YOU!” Smith points right down at the smallest man. “I remember you working for every single one of them out to screw the ‘Big Kid’ out of what was rightfully his, and now you are doing it to this poor chap!”
Smith turns to Gemini.
“My friend, not everyone is like them,” he shares. “There are some who do things for purely good reasons and not to help some people get ahead. Let’s have a talk, and maybe I can lend an ear.”
Gemini begrudgingly nods and shakes Chris’ hand, and the largest man turns back to Blaine.
“You just stay away from him,” Smith threatens. “Because “The Big Kid’ is here now, you see. I’m here to put right what is going terribly wrong. It is my duty to help this man fix what you and them have broken! When I’m done, I’m going to celebrate because I’m doing this for the kids!”
Smith walks off and Gemini seems confused and walks off behind him, but is still heard.
“Man, Fuck Them Kids….”
They leave Blaine alone as the screen fades out.
CHAT SHIT, GET HIT
The silence inside the Miami Beach Convention Center is broken by the first few strands of an unfamiliar theme song, Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”, which causes a large portion of the fans in attendance to turn their attention to the entranceway, where an unimposing figure – doubly so for a wrestler – has just emerged through the curtain. The man, first seen by viewers at home having an altercation with El Principe outside Studio 49 during GLOBAL Magnum Opus, wears a ratty leather jacket and even rattier faded blue jeans and workboots, and his few slimy strands of hair are slicked back over a large bald patch, the ends falling in wisps around his ears. He is also in far from peak condition, his musculature having evidently gone to seed. However, even in spite of all this, he wears a confident, defiant, slightly manic expression as he begins to walk down the ramp and requests a microphone. Nor, when one is given to him, does he waste any time putting it to good use.
“My name is John J. Truth. And I call bulls—t!”
The crowd give a mixed reaction, unsure what to make of the new arrival. Allie, however, has no such qualms.
“I’ve heard of this guy. He supposedly has some mental issues…”
“You mean he’s cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! Seriously, I know there’s an inclusivity quota, but is this really a good move? I mean, this guy looks unpredictable…I wouldn’t want to be out there with him!”
“You’re not a wrestler, though, Mark…”
Quinn’s barb quashes the discussion, just in time for the man called Truth to speak again.
“I call bulls—t on a company that slaps one of its contracted employees with a fine just for speaking his mind…WHEN HE’S NOT EVEN ON LOCATION!”
“I mean…the parking lot is part of a location…Angel Ramirez won a match there at Magnum Opus…”
Allie is not wrong, though Truth would certainly think otherwise, as his next few words prove.
“Seriously, what kind of snowflake-loving, Thought Police, leftist, woke bulls—t is that? A guy ain’t even free to say what he thinks anymore? I thought this was America! I thought we had a little something called the FIRST AMENDMENT!”
Not even the mention of the Constitutional text of the United States is enough to bring the Miami crowd fully round to the newcomer’s side, however, as there are still more boos than cheers scattered throughout. It is, however, Deltzer who voices what everyone is thinking.
“Is this guy seriously out here losing his s—t over a fine?”
What little support there is is, however, enough to bolster the man, on whose lips a smile begins to form as he continues.
“I mean, if I wanted to be told what to think and what to say, and have my freedoms taken away, I would have moved to f—ing China!”
More boos rain down on the man, as the announce table collectively starts to become anxious.
“Sound crew, censoring sounds at the ready…”
Oblivious to the reaction he is causing, Truth continues.
“Then again, what did I expect from a company that lets illegal aliens run around wearing masks all the time, so the Feddy-rails can’t find out who they are?”
“Does he mean the ‘Federales’?”
“Be quiet, Mark. This is such a trainwreck, it’s almost fascinating.”
Deltzer acquiesces to Allie’s wishes for once, as on the platform, Truth becomes more and more irate.
“Sounds like a Commie move to me… Hell, for all we know, the goddamn Chinese government is secretly funding these guys! Hell, I bet the Lizard People are involved! And the Illuminati! And the Deep State! And, hell, those f—-ing bastards out in Orion, too! OPEN YOUR EYES, SHEEPLE!”
“Did he say out in Ohio?”
“Orion, Allie. He…he said Orion. As in, the star. In outer space.”
“That’s…what I thought I’d heard, Lucas. But I didn’t want to believe it…”
“Oh, great, conspiranoid alert! I told you this guy was bad news!”
For once, nobody disagrees with Mark Deltzer, as, on the platform, Truth prepares to continue his speech.
“That’s why I’m here. Because fine or no fine, GLOBAL needs somebody who can see through their bulls—t. And I intend to be that man. Starting tonight, I intend to make each and every one of you people see the Truth about this company, and some of the people in it. And I’m going to start with that little green-card-dodging son of a bitch who made me get this fine—”
That is as far as Truth gets; for, dashing out of the back like a rabid wolverine to make the newcomer eat his words, comes none other than the subject of Truth’s last sentence – the luchador known as El Principe! Blows rain down on the older wrestler as the Lucha Prince exacts revenge for John’s disparaging comments both at Magnum Opus and here tonight – a quest in which he, surprisingly, finds support from the announce table.
“Good on him!”
“Serves that guy right! What a creep!”
The fans appear to agree with the announcers, even if they cannot hear them, as Principe gets arguably the biggest ovation of his career, Mexico notwithstanding. Emboldened by this reaction, the Prince of Lucha continues to drive Truth down the ramp and towards the ring by force of blows, his intentions rapidly becoming clear: Principe wants the match he did not get to have at Magnum Opus, and by hook or by crook, he plans on getting it here tonight.
EL PRINCIPE Vs. JOHN J. TRUTH
As the brawl between the two men escalates and moves down the entranceway and towards the ring, referee Aaron Powell is called down to try and break it up, a fact Mark Deltzer does not miss the chance to comment on.
“You know s—t is serious when they call Powell down…”
Even GLOBAL’s biggest and most intimidating referee is unable to deter Principe, however, who does separate from Truth, but only to throw him into the ring, quickly following suit a moment later, and gesturing for Powell to do the same. Though initially reluctant, the 6ft8 colossus eventually shrugs, as if to say “screw it”, and calls for the timekeeper to ring the bell; a moment later, the iconic dinging sound echoes through the Miami Beach Convention Center, signalling the start of an impromptu match!
“Looks like we have a match on our hands, ladies and gentlemen…”
“That’s right, Lucas. I assume Powell thought he might as well do some damage control, and allow this to at least become sanctioned…”
“You may well be right, Allie…Whatever the case, Principe will have to abide by the rules now.”
“Not that he seems to mind…”
Deltzer’s observation is, indeed, accurate, as Principe proves more than capable of administering a pummelling without the need to cut corners. He continues to land blows to the back of Truth’s head, then whips him to the far corner, shimmies up the turnbuckle, and delivers a seated senton to the back! He wastes no time rolling off of John, however, and once again scaling the turnbuckle, where he perches, waiting for his opponent to regain a vertical position before leaping off with a hammerlock!
“It’s been all one-way traffic so far…are we sure the old man’s a wrestler?”
“With the mouth on him, Mark, I think he’d make a far better manager…”
“Maybe so, Lucas, but who the hell would want this guy speaking for them?”
As the announcers debate the relative merits of the man called John Truth, in the ring, he has taken it upon himself to prove them all wrong, profiting from an opening to counter Principe’s attempt at positioning him for a suplex with an eye poke, then an eye rake. This earns him a reprimand from Powell, but The Man Who Fell to Earth does not seem too bothered by it, merely landing a knee to Principe’s gut, before driving him face-first onto his knee, and following up with a quick facebuster; rather than cover or follow on from there, however, he merely stands up and begins to walk away, muttering irritably to himself.
“Are you surprised, Al? I told you guys he wasn’t a wrestler…”
Deltzer’s observation may well have some validity, as John seems interested in nothing more than to get the hell out of Dodge as quickly as possible; the recovered Principe, however, has other ideas, and promptly rolls through to his feet to catch up to his opponent and lock his hands around his waist, pulling him back for a suplex…then another suplex…and then ANOTHER suplex, completing the sequence known as El Tricolor – much to Lucas Quinn’s delight.
“Not so fast, there, buckaroo!”
“Is it wrong that I love watching this guy get destroyed by Principe? I mean, I don’t exactly LIKE Principe, but…”
“…but that guy deserves it, Al. Don’t worry. We get it.”
As this conversation transpires, in the ring, Principe has moved further down the suplex path, landing one of his trademark release aztec suplexes, then promptly walking over to once again pick up his opponent. A few elbows to the stomach from Truth have no effect, nor does the claw-like nerve pinch to the lucha superstar’s belly, as Principe fights through the pain, dogged and single-minded in his determination to lift Truth up for yet another technical manouevre. This ends up being a vertical backbreaker, but Truth is able to slip in behind Principe and rake his back, creating another opening for himself. He promptly turns heel – literally – and once again begins to walk away, but Principe lunges forward to grab a heel hook. John is, however, able to mule-kick his way out, then turn over and push Principe away with a two-footed thrust to his chest. This buys him enough time to roll out of the ring and to the outside…which he should know better than to have done, with Principe fighting fit and at his back…
“TOPE SUICIDA from Principe, and now both men are down!”
The crowd is on their feet as, from the ring, Powell begins to count….in Spanish, no less.
Principe begins to stir…
…as does Truth.
Principe pulls himself up…
…he goes to one knee…
…he fetches Truth and brings him to his feet…
…and then an unexpected theme song has the crowd, the announcers and Powell all craning their necks towards the ramp, where two familiar figures have just appeared.
“It’s Xiang and The Great Wall! What are they doing out here?!”
“I guess we’re about to find out, Mark…”
Indeed, no sooner has Lucas spoken than Xiang requests a microphone. No longer heeding Powell’s count, Principe promptly gets in the Chinese national’s face, ranting in Spanish to the effect that he was here first and has a score to settle with this “pinche pendejo”; Xiang, however, only smiles, merely uttering a “sorry” before Principe gets grabbed by the neck and thrown down onto the concrete of the entranceway by The Great Wall!
“CHOKESLAM to Principe from The Great Wall, and there is NO way he is answering any sort of count NOW!”
Not that it matters, as the Chinese duo’s intervention has caused Powell’s count to reach TEN, and the referee to call for the bell, ruling the match a no-contest double count-out – a ruling the out-on-his-feet John Truth appears not to mind overmuch, as he continues to pursue his own single-minded objective of reaching the back as quickly as possible…
…a task which proves more difficult when his way is blocked by the still-smiling Xiang and his seven-plus-foot associate. Truth’s posture and body language immediately turn defensive and confrontational, the shock somehow bringing him out of his daze, but Xiang simply addresses him in a calm, even tone, never losing his smile.
“Hello, friend. Please do not worry. We seek only to talk for a moment…”
John does not appear too convinced, continuing to stammer and babble incoherently off the mic, but still Xiang mantains his poise.
“We have heard you direct some rather harsh, unprovoked and unfounded words towards the glorious People’s Republic. We believe you should atone for them.”
Truth once again begins to rant, but Xiang cuts right across him.
“Now, we are giving you an option, my friend. You may apologise to us, president Xiping and the great Chairman Mao, in which case we will let you pass unharmed. Alternatively…” Xiang’s grin becomes unpleasant, even evil. “…we can seek restitution and retribution another way. What say you, friend?”
A long, tense moment elapses, during which the crowd, the announcers and no doubt viewers at home all hold their breath, in anticipation of Truth’s response; then, the predictable happens.
“I ain’t apologising to no c—-k!”
The horrified gasp from crowd and announcers alike, followed by a shower of boos, indicates a VERY disrespectful and racially insensitive term has just been used, which the viewers at home were thankfully spared from witnessing; Xiang’s smile, however, twitches for only a moment before he speaks up once again, sounding forlorn and almost apologetic in his own right.
“So you have chosen to die on this hill. Very well.”
With that, he turns his attention to his client, whom he speaks a few words to in quick Cantonese, causing the behemoth to step forward unexpectedly swiftly, to grab John by the throat and administer the same punishment he reserved for Principe!
“And now a BIG chokeslam to Truth as well!”
“Again, Mark, as much as I don’t particularly like The Great Wall, I can’t say I am entirely displeased to see that happen…”
“Yeah, Al, this Truth guy has a knack for making even the biggest a-holes in this company seem like nice guys by comparison. That takes some skill. Too bad he isn’t as skilled at actual wrestling…”
It is on these words from Deltzer, and an image of Xiang and The Wall turning their back on the prone body of one John J. Truth, that the feed transitions elsewhere.
THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE GYM (II)
Daniel pushes himself to the absolute limit during his ‘Idealized Warrior Workout’, sweat pouring down his face as he grunts with each rep.
Jabari watches on in amazement, impressed with the intensity of the training session. “You’re really going all out today,” Jabari remarks, spotting Daniel as he struggles to push the barbell back up.
“Yeah, I gotta make up for that loss at Magnum Opus,” Daniel grunted, his muscles straining under the weight.
Jabari nods and asks, “You think you can beat Sean Darring next time?”
“I know I can beat him,” Daniel replies confidently as he puts the barbell down with a thud. “But I’ve gotta be at my absolute best. And that means pushing myself harder than ever.”
Daniel continues pushing himself as the session intensifies, the weights getting heavier and the reps more difficult. But his muscles burn, and yet he doesn’t falter, driven by a burning desire to prove himself as the most dominant wrestler in GLOBAL.
“You’re something else, man,” Jabari finally says, as Daniel finishes his final set.
Daniel sits up, wipes the sweat from his forehead, and grins.
Daniel, taking it as a compliment, responds, “Thanks, Jabari. But I’m just getting started. There’s a lot more work to be done if I’m going to win that championship.”
A KINGDOM DIVIDED
12 hours after GLOBAL Magnum Opus
Somewhere in Hollywood
The all-star cast of Aleczander the Great, The Best of British and The Master Sisters sits around a table just big enough to have them all without any unneeded private space invasion, as a computer sat in front of them.
The three women of the group sit silently on one side, Aurora eyeing their male colleagues, as they all seemed to be extremely cheerful and bantering with one another over a glass of wine. The female side also has drinks, specifically beers, but contrary to the other, all the glasses seem to hover around Aurora. Even so, she does seem to be sober, at least sober enough to slap Dawn’s hand as she tries to steal one for herself, her eyes not moving from the male trio.
“Alexander the Great! He came, he saw, he conquered, eh?” Rupert Royston-Fellowes playfully punches his new ally in the shoulder. “You know, you are really not so bad, for a Northerner…”
“Yeah, and you two are not so bad for posh Southern wankers!” Alecz returns the blow in kind, laughing it up along with the two Best of British members. “Thanks for the assist with that giant walker, Big Aug. And when the time’s right, I’m putting that gold around me waist and carrying this promotion across me boulder-like shoulders!”
At this point, Aurora finished gulping the last glass on her side and seems to think that’s enough, slamming one of the Tag Team titles on the table.
“Will you shut up? Stella should be calling us soon, and I think we all would like to be able to hear her.” She says briskly. “If not for anything else, to know whether this is worth dealing with four neanderthals instead of just one.”
“Yeah!” Dawn shouts from her side, slamming the other tag team title in a comically aggressive way on the table, causing half the glasses to tumble and fall. “I can’t even hear the voices in my head with all this noise!”
She turns to Moonlight, who doesn’t seem bothered at all with either side… It’s almost like she’s already used to a gigantic family bickering with each other.
“That’s a joke, by the way.” Dawn tells her. “I can hear the voices just fine!”
“Yes, well, why don’t you chat to THEM?” Rupert points between himself and the two men beside him, irritably. “SOME of us are trying to have a private conversation…”
“PRIVATE?!” Aurora chortles. “With how loud you’re being? I bet they can hear you lot all the way out in the desert!”
Rupert glares daggers at her, but the leader of the Master Sisters is not intimidated.
“Besides…how do you think Stella will like it when we tell her you’re deliberately snubbing the only ACTUAL Champions in this group so far?”
To his credit, Rupert does not waver either, instead pointing at the screen.
“Go ahead. Tell her. See what she says.”
In fact, just at that moment, the laptop in front of the six members of the United Kingdom stable lights up with a Skype call, which Nigel Kensington III has taken it upon himself to answer; as a result, the smirking face of group investor Stella Chalmers-Blythe now takes up the majority of the computer screen.
“Tell me WHAT, Rupert?”
“Oh, just some hormonal grievance or another, Stella…you know how it is…”
“Yes, Rupert.” Stella’s smirk has devolved into a thin-lipped glower. “As a matter of fact, I DO know how it is. In fact, I have some…hormonal grievances…myself at the moment. So you would do well not to test my patience.” Then, as if nothing had transpired, the classy brunette smiles around at the rest of The UK. “Hello, everyone! How are we?” She points at Alecz.
“Aleczander…fabulous job tonight. Welcome to the team!”
Aleczander is about to thank her – and probably gloat – but the Master Sisters cut across and make themselves heard, with Aurora in the lead.
“How am I? Upset, that’s how.”
“And I’m upset because Rory’s upset.” Moonlight follows on from her sister’s train of thought, with Carnival following suit a mere moment later.
“And I’m upset because Rory won’t let me have a beer! OW!”
Carnival waves her hand around to shake off the sting, as Stella looks directly at the three sisters, her expression now more serious.
“Please, girls…do elaborate. We are a team. I cannot have members feeling uncomfortable or at odds with each other.” Stella glowers at the three men. “Is it something these gentlemen did?”
“Well… I just feel like the actual Champions in this group should not be treated like inconsequential second bananas just because they happen to have ovaries…” Aurora joins her boss in shooting the men a baleful look. At her words, Stella’s glower doubles in intensity, the honey in her tone replaced by ice.
“Is this true?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Stella!” Rupert doth protest a little too much. “We were simply having a spot of laddish banter with our new colleague!” He slaps Alecz on the shoulder companionably. “We meant no disrespect to anyone by it…”
Stella’s “hm” indicates she is not fully convinced, an impression furthered by the tone of her voice when she next speaks.
“Well, make sure it does not happen again. The girls here are just as much part of our team as Aleczander.”
“Yeah, and he didn’t even have to be TRICKED into joining…” Carnival is, as usual, not the slightest bit afraid to call things as she sees them. Stella, however, once again replies simply with a “hmm” before Aleczander jumps in.
“Mates, mates, loves… calm down. First off…”
He points at Aurora.
“Love, don’t ever interrupt a Hall of Famer. That’s grounds for being kicked out of the locker room. Happened to me once. I don’t make the ProWres laws, I just enforce them as a man of status.”
She rolls her eyes as he moves on.
“Second… I do want to give me thanks for having me as the newest member of the REAL United Kingdom, eh? Those lovely Master Sisters are 100% correct. They got the Tag Team Titles and I know a thing or six about CARRYING other people to Tag Team Title success as I mentioned in my historic GLOBAL debut! Like me, they also deserve their flowers and if you disrespect them, you disrespect US!”
The Sisters do seem convinced for their part. Aleczander then wraps a muscular arm around both Nigel and Rupert’s shoulders next.
“And these two? You’re me guardian angels! When that giant bloodthirsty foody came at me with nothing but death and hunger in his eyes, they were there to stop GLOBAL’s first televised act of cannibalism, allowing me to slay the beast and win me Number One Contender spot! And when I take that GLOBAL Championship from that withered wanker, Sean Darring, we’re ALL gonna be GLOBAL Champions!”
He then shakes hands with the two.
“So if there are any ill feelings among this group, how about we squash them right here, right now, yeah? Maybe we celebrate this new arrangement somehow? Have a good time, yeah?”
Stella, who has been studying her newest recruit intently as he speaks, now pipes up herself once again.
“Thank you, Aleczander. I could not agree more. Which is why I shall be taking measures to ensure we maintain a harmonious working environment within this group at all times.” She looks at the two Best of British members, who now appear ever-so-slightly concerned. “In fact, I have planned a little team-building retreat for all of us, ahead of the next live event. To that effect, I have instructed Kerry to find us a suitable venue, which will accommodate seven of us over a weekend.”
At this point, the voice of team PR officer Kerry Buckingham can be heard from offscreen. “Browsing TripAdvisor as we speak, Stella, darling. Do you have any preferences as to the locale?”
“I do, actually. Could you make sure it is somewhere remote? Perhaps the Scottish Highlands, or Snowdonia?” All six members of the team appear horrified by this turn of events, but Stella simply grins evilly. “We do not want any unnecessary distractions taking away from our focus…”
Kerry acquiesces. “Of course, darling. I shall start researching venues straight away.”
“Thank you, darling.” Stella once again turns her attention to the camera, gracing all six of her team members with a smirk which does not reach her eyes. “That is settled, then. I shall see you all on Saturday, at seven A.M. Kerry will forward you the details.”
With that, and not giving anyone on the team another chance to get a word in edgewise, the brunette promptly hangs up the call, leaving her six charges to exchange words, point fingers and attribute blame for this latest development.
MAKE IT RIGHT
Frank Rich’s shoulder-length hair, once full of golden locks and now gray, is the least of his worries. Cuts and lacerations litter his weathered face. Now, in his sixties, the proud professional wrestler has seldom taken a beating like this and lies unconscious, his much younger second wife, the glamorous Victoria, who is still blonde, catching her breath for all the crying she has done in the last several minutes.
Freddie, decked out in his leather jacket and all-orange wrestling attire, walks into the room, quickly followed by Cousin Todd, brothers Declan and Donny, who are all ready to rock and roll ahead of their crucial GLOBAL Tag Team encounter with The Master Sisters just HOURS from now.
Freddie sits down by his dad’s side, ignoring Victoria, and holds his father’s hand. ‘Dad, can you hear me? It’s Freddie. I’m so sorry. This is all my fault, but if it’s the last thing I do, I’ll get revenge on that bastard for you and for us.’
Todd comes over to console Victoria, and they exchange some words, she is fittingly in a black dress and matching heels. Donny stays at the doorway, beckoned by Victoria to come over for a hug, and Todd also invites him to greet his mother.
Freddie suddenly ups and leaves, only for Declan to put his right hand on ‘Big Brother’s’ chest and whisper. ‘This is on you. Make it right.’
Taken aback, Freddie looks down at Declan and nods while Declan stares ahead at his father and then over at his sobbing mother, seething with rage that the real patriarch of the family has been put in hospital because the acting leader hasn’t acted firmly or rapidly enough.
LIVE A LITTLE
Alfie Button winces as he sits down on a bench in the hallway. clutching his ribs. They’re wrapped in athletic tape, still smarting from Crusader X getting his knees up and the subsequent double rotation moonsault in their match at Magnum Opus.
A somewhat somber voice is heard from out of frame. “Alfie. ¿Que pasa?”
Through gritted teeth, Alfie nods at X. ‘Watch ya, ‘ow are ya doin’? Well done. Beat me fair and square, fair play to ya, mate.’
Crusader X steps into frame. “Mind if I…” He motions to the empty seat on the bench.
Button beckons for Crusader to sit. ‘By all means, mate.’
X sits. He glances down at Alfie’s taped-up ribs. “Sorry, I didn’t catch you after the show. Had to leave right after it was over. How are the ribs?”
‘They’re sore, geezer. You did a right number on ‘em, but I’ll live and ‘ow about ya skull?’
X laughs slightly. ‘Still hurts.’ His smile fades quickly. ‘Now, about our condition… management just told me that, if we are teaming together, they want us on the card next week. Will you be up for that after your match tonight?’
Button nods his head three times. ‘A deal’s a deal, and we’ll give it a go for one match, sure, why not? As for training or beyond next week, well, we’ll ‘ave anovver look at it in the future, eh?’
Alfie extends his hand, which X takes and subsequently shakes. ‘Great. I don’t know our opponents yet, but-‘
There’s something… different about X’s tone. His voice is unusually downcast. He’s not smiling. His usually glib and fiery demeanor is nowhere to be found.
Alfie does a double take and looks around. Incredulously, he throws his hands up. ‘Don’t see what the issue is wiv ya, mate. You’ve got it made, you beat me AND got what ye wanted. Is there somefing I’m missin’ ‘ere or what?’
‘‘Well… I didn’t just come here to ask about our match. I wanted to thank you, Alfie,” says X in a somber tone.
Alfie asks. ‘Abaht what?’
X makes eye contact with Alfie. ‘For being the toughest opponent I’ve ever fought. For showing me what this sport is supposed to be, without any parasites in the way.’ He looks down at the ground. “…And for showing me how far I’m going to have to go here in GLOBAL.”
Alfie tilts his head, somewhat shocked by that. ‘You’re welcome, I guess. Fank you for the lesson. Much obliged and maybe down the road…’
Crusader continues, staring at the floor. ‘You know, part of me didn’t think I’d ever do the double moonsault again. All of me hoped I’d never have to. You know how dangerous it is. But I know for a fact that that is the only move I could have beaten you with. If I gave you anything less than the best I’d ever given, they’d have been raising your hand instead.’ X’s tone gets a bit more urgent. ‘The amount of punishment I took from you… look at how banged up we are, man! If that’s what I’m gonna get from Darring or the Master Sisters or anyone else at the top, wrestling the way I do now? That’s not sustainable. I need to be better. I need to train harder. And if I really want to save this sport, I need to-‘
Button holds his hand up, like a parking enforcement officer, and then leans in. ‘Listen, geezer, that’s part ov ya problem and why you might be making so enemies. You’re all up in ‘ere.’ Alfie says, prodding the side of his own head with his left index.
‘You’re too intense, and focused on what you find you ‘ave to do to get better, and I’m the same, I speak from experience. But, you’ll burn out quickly if ya force it, don’t push yaself too ‘ard, ‘ave a breavver, stop freakin’ out and definitely knock this parasite crap on the ‘ead. Relax, chill mate, and focus on our match for the next show, eh? Learn to switch off and ‘ave some fun while ya at it.’ Alfie reasons.
Right as Alfie talks about their upcoming match, X looks up. He sees Amber Lee walking down the hall toward Alfie. Suddenly, X smiles his familiar smile for the first time in a while. Is he smiling at Alfie’s words… or something else?
‘You might want to turn around.’ Says X.
‘Watch ya, Amber. You all right?’
Lee smiles ear to ear. ‘Yeah, of course. You?’
X rises to his feet, giving up his seat. “Thanks for the talk, Alfie. Good luck against EZ Rah tonight. Hope you win the whole thing.” He turns to Amber and nods. “Amber.” He steps out of frame.
Amber Lee joins Alfie Button, collectively known as Amber Button, who are now sitting together on the same bench backstage. Amber is in a dark blue t-shirt and ripped jeans, by virtue of not having a match tonight, while Alfie is about to wrestle EZ Rah momentarily. He’s in his technicolor-like dreamcoat, tights teeming with all the colors of the rainbow and then some.
‘Hey Alfie, how are you? What did HE want?’
Alfie looks back at Crusader X. ‘I still don’t know, darlin’. I can’t work him aht, in or out ov the ring, apparently. Anyway, I was proper gutted when he beat me, I couldn’t Adam and Eve it, but I’ve got EZ Rah next. You’ve really cheered me up, fanks for all ya messages and support over tha last few weeks, you’ve been a proper mate Amber and I can’t fank you enough. Seriously, sweetheart.’ Alfie gently rubs Amber’s left shoulder before realizing that’s potentially off-limits and privately thinking that she could do him a lot of damage with that particular body part, given how much she has thrown Kid Chameleon around in the last couple of shows.
Amber smiles and nods her head, she’s been enjoying the time that she and Alfie have spent together hanging out. Amber leans into the touch and lays her head on his shoulder for a moment, which causes the Londoner’s face to light up like the rest of his attire, even if he hides it from Lee. ‘You’ve been a proper mate too, as you call it.’ She says as she winks at him and lets him know that she isn’t going to put him in a world of hurt for just touching her shoulder. ‘I don’t blame you for being bummed, it sucks to lose.’ Amber adds as she folds her hands in her lap.
Alfie nods back at Amber. and then puts hovers his hand close to the aforementioned shoulder, hesitant to. ‘Cheers. Listen, wevver I win, lose or draw, would you be up for a little get-togevver? A few ov us are ‘avin’ a bit ov a do, a shindig, a party I guess you could call it, really. And I was wondering if you might fancy it? We’re talkin’ about ‘aving at a hotel or rentin’ an apartment somewhere. We could go along and order a pizza, maybe watch some telly? No worries if not.’
Amber leans into his hand and playfully elbows him as she crosses her feet at the ankles. “I’d like that Alfie, I’m always up to hang out with you and watch some telly,” Amber replies as she tries on her best British accent. “Oh my god that was so bad Alfie! I am so sorry,” she said with a hint of pink to her cheeks as she turns her head away for a moment.
Button isn’t sure what to do in response to that and ruffles his mane in bewilderment. ‘Seriously though, is that a yes? Do ye fancy it?’
‘It’s a yes Alfie! I’ll go out with you!” Amber says as she playfully punches him in the shoulder. “Are you really baffled that I’d go with you?”
Alfie jokingly holds his own shoulder. ‘That bloody well ‘urt. It didn’t, really. Well, I didn’t wanna take fings for granted. There’ll be a few ov us goin, and we might make a bit ov an ‘abit if it goes well, and you’re a wicked girl, so I fort I’d ask. Glad you’re gonna come along.’ He smiles, nudging her back.
‘Who else is going?’ Amber asks as they nudge each other back and forth for a moment. Amber was enjoying the various times they spent together, she never had a lot of friends growing up, so it was nice to have Alfie as crazy as he is.
Button, not renowned for his arithmetic skills, numbers them with each finger. ‘Ade, Ant, they’re bof good mates ov mine, Teagan and Izzy, ‘oo are meant to be a right laugh, Valorie might be there, Saul, Angel, Dazza, can’t forget ‘im and The Riches are invited, but that might depend on what ‘appens tonight. It’ll be a good crowd and good craic, I reckon.’
‘Do you have anyone to accompany you to the ring tonight?’ Amber asks as she tucks some of her blond hair behind her ears and smiles at him. She recognizes some of the names that Alfie rattles off but is unfamiliar with a couple of them, so she asks him who some of them are.
‘Oh, Ade and Ant? They’re Team United, but they used to be known as RAF. If you’re offerin’, that would be cool. and Allie and The Mark from commentary too. Allie loves you. So, it’s a date then? I mean, not a ‘date’ date, but we’re definitely goin’? Should be a larf.’ Alfie cheerily predicts.
The two of them stand up from the bench and face each other. ‘I’m offering to come down with you and it is a date Alfie,” Amber replies as she steps closer to him and slips her arms around his neck and gives him a big hug. ‘Go kick some ass out there tonight.’ She says softly in his ear and kisses his cheek leaving a print of her lipstick there.
He staggers as she leaves, and looks up at the sky, praying to a higher power. ‘Fanks, big man, you’ve not only made my night, but my monf, you beauty.’
MAKING THEIR OWN LUCK
The feed returns to the arena just as the hard-rocking opening riff for Cockpit’s “Mission to Rock” starts up on the arena PA system, heralding the arrival of the outgoing and outspoken duo known as Trouble Roxx. As Izzy Roxx positions herself off to the side, the better to put on an air guitar clinic, her partner, Teagan Trouble, continues to walk down the entranceway, tapping the drumsticks in her hands together in time to the singer’s call of “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!” A moment later, those same drumsticks go flying into the crowd, hopefully to be treasured as a memento by a fan of the quirky, charismatic duo. Izzy then joins her partner in the center of the entrance platform, the two dabbing in opposite directions as they share a fistbump, complete with ‘hand explosion’ at the end.
“These young ladies know how to make an entrance, I’ll give them that…”
“That’s right, Lucas. And they’ve proven they can wrestle, too. There’s more to these two than just smoke and mirrors…”
“Frankly, Allie, I’ll believe it when I see it.” Deltzer, ever the doubting Thomas, chooses, as ever, to be the voice of dissent.
As the announcers discuss their relative merits, Teagan sets about asking for microphones, which she is promptly given by a nearby stage technician, around the same age as the two girls. A few words of inaudible banter elapse between Teagan and the young man, before the redhead half of the team steps back to where her partner is waiting and hands the second microphone over to Izzy, before bringing hers to her own lips to officially address the crowd.
“MIAMI, MAKE SOME NOOOOOOOOISEEEEEE!”
The crowd in attendance promptly complies, causing both girls’ smiles to widen as Teagan continues.
“Not bad, not bad…not as good as back home in Cali, but…”
As if on cue, another raucous ovation starts up, indicating the youngster’s tried and true tactic has worked. Teagan could not possibly be smiling wider as she once again addresses the crowd.
“All right! That’s more freakin’ like it!” She does not pause for a reaction before speaking up again. “Now…if you don’t know who we are…”
“…you should have been paying ATTENTION!”
The normally meek Izzy’s abrupt intervention brings an impressed look from her partner, and the two share a low-five as the dark/haired girl urges her partner to “tell ’em”. Predictably, Teagan does not need telling twice, promptly turning her attention back to the crowd again.
“WE ARE…GLOBAL Wrestling’s ONLY officially sanctioned streaming hosts…wrestling’s VERY OWN Team Rocket….the HOTTEST prospects in fifty-one states…the little girls in the middle of the ride…the foxes you’re waiting for…”
The redhead pauses for effect, affecting a smug expression, before pointing at herself. “I’m Trouble…” She then points at her friend, who similarly mugs for the crowd. “She Roxx…And together, we’re…” Izzy joins in for the grand finale. “….TROUBLE ROXX!”
The crowd give the two girls another ovation, as, on commentary, Allie sounds suitably impressed.
“Now THAT is an introduction!”
Deltzer, however, is less complimentary
“I still preferred their first one. Needs more Pokémon references.”
Teagan waits for the ovation to die down before continuing.
“You know…last month, in California…we didn’t have a match, but we still came out and introduced ourselves, and ended up making a couple friends. Then, two weeks ago, at GLOBAL’s FIRST-EVER Pay-Per-View…we didn’t have a match either, but we invited our friends over to hang out on Twitch and have a Watch Party, and things got SO crazy, they want us to do it again whenever we’re not out here.” Another cheer goes up for this fact – the crowd in attendance presumably containing at least a few of that stream’s attendees – as Teagan continues. “Then, this week…they bring us all the way across country to Florida…and guess what? We don’t have a match. A-GAIN.” Teagan playfully rolls her eyes before proceeding. “It’s cool, though. My Dad always said you gotta make your own luck. So tonight, we’re gonna make ours again. No biggie. Only this time…we’ve got company.”
A mischievous smile dawns on the youth’s features as her and Izzy step to either side of the stage and stand perpendicular to the entrance curtain, the better to draw attention to the two figures now crossing it, and moving over to stand beside the two girls.
“Correct, Allie. It’s Ant Rushton and Ade Flowers. Team United. The first and only team these two have faced to date!”
“Aw, don’t tell me they’re gonna do it AGAIN?” Deltzer does not even wait to see what transpires before making his displeasure heard. “BOOOO-RING! BOOOO-RING!”
Almost as if to spite the announcer, however, Teagan’s next few words reveal a particular twist to tonight’s proceedings.
“Alright, guys. Remember we said we made a couple friends last time? Well, this is Ant, and that’s Ade. You probably know ’em from Twitch.” The reaction here indicates there are DEFINITELY some stream-watchers in attendance. “Now, last time, these guys gave us a match…but we don’t like to fight our friends, soooo…this time, we thought we’d do something a li’l different.” The redhead’s impish grin returns in full force as she continues. “So this time, we’re all gonna TEAM UP, and give SOMEBODY ELSE a match who doesn’t have one. So…if anybody back there feels like kickin’ it in the ring for a couple minutes with four supremely RAD humans, this is your chance. Come on out here and let’s freaking DO this!”
With this, all four wrestlers turn towards the entrance ramp, waiting to see if anyone will take them up on their challenge.
“Yet another open challenge laid down by Trouble Roxx here.The last one was answered by Team United, but they are all apparently on the same side this time around. I wonder if anyone will take them up. A tag team match is one thing, but an eight-person tag is far trickier to arrange on the fly like this…”
For a moment, it appears Allie’s pessimism is warranted, as the entranceway remains silent, and the arena flatscreen off. Just as the four wrestlers are resigning themselves to their fate, however – shrugging their shoulders, shaking their heads, and giving each other disappointed looks – a theme song does start up, perking up their spirits right along with the crowd’s.
The reaction, however, is moreso for the fact that there is a challenger at all than for the challengers themselves, who – with one notable exception – are an unknown quantity for anyone who did not watch Magnum Opus. While the live audience is somewhat baffled, however, Allie provides an explanation for the benefit of the viewers at home – and a surprised Mark Deltzer.
“It’s…it’s those redneck kids from Magnum Opus!? What the hell…?!”
“That’s right, Mark. The Metal Militia have officially signed on full-time with GLOBAL, and are the newest addition to our tag team roster. What’s more – remember we were wondering what was next for Hayley Robinson, after Ross Hanson retired two weeks ago? Well, there’s our answer!”
In fact, the former Dirty Bird strides proudly and defiantly alongside her three brothers, all of which wear their usual, deadpan expressions. Their overall body language is, however, more competitive than outright hostile as they approach the wary but inviting group waiting at the ramp, giving them blatant, though not unfriendly, once-overs. What they see evidently passes muster, as, after another moment, they directly address the group already standing on the ramp.
“Y’all wanna match?” Unsurprisingly, “The Raven” has appointed herself as the group’s spokesperson. “Well, damn. We wanna match too.” The blonde makes a show of looking around in all directions. “An’ I guess ain’t nobody here to stop us…”
She arches an eyebrow at Teagan and Izzy, who beam. The redhead then confidently steps forward, offering Hayley a handshake.
“Hi. I’m Teagan.”
Initially reticent, “The Raven” is eventually overcome by the redhead’s earnest sincerity, even offering her a halfway grin as she returns the handshake.
“Nice to meet you, Raven.” Teagan jerks her head back towards the assembled group behind her. “That’s Izzy, the taller guy is Ade, and the other one’s Ant.”
Hayley emulates the gesture, nodding towards her own group. “An’ dem boys my brothers. The big one’s Drew, li’l one’s Aiden, an’ the other one’s Chris.”
Teagan smiles over her new acquaintance’s shoulder at the three boys. “Nice to meet you guys.” Then, she turns her attention back to Raven, whom she quirks an eyebrow at. “So…we having a match, or what?”
Nobody needs telling twice, as all eight wrestlers immediately take off running towards the ring.
“Well, well…” Allie sounds genuinely surprised. “I guess we ARE having a match after all!”
Before they can reach the ring, however, a cry from Teagan stops the group in their tracks.
Fourteen pairs of eyes turn to the redhead, who nevertheless remains unfazed, simply pointing around at her friends.
“We need a name, guys…” She thinks for a moment, using her hands to “lay out” imaginary words in midair, as if assembling a marquee. “’Team Trouble’…nah, that makes it sound like it’s my team, and I don’t want that….”Roxx United”? Nah, that sounds like a crappy soccer club.” She looks round at all three of her team-mates pleadingly. “Help me out here, guys!”
Ant Rushton is the first to speak up. “You have the right idea…you just need the right combination of words.” He, too, ponders the matter for a moment; however, when the conundrum does get resolved, it is by perhaps the unlikeliest of sources. Izzy Roxx has a giant grin on her features as she tugs on her partner’s sleeve; then, as Teagan turns her attention from Rushton to her, she utters two single words, each landing with the force and finality of a finishing blow.
The smiles on the other three’s features tell the tale; and with the final hurdle finally overcome, the now somewhat anticipated match can finally begin!
TROUBLE ROXX & TEAM UNITED Vs. METAL MILITIA
Having entered the ring, and as they wait for a referee to appear, both teams continue to hype up the already buzzing crowd, who is more than willing to respond in kind. Then, after official Gabrielle Harris has been sent down, and once each of the eight competitors has shaken hands with all of their counterparts, the teams finally take up their positions behind the tag ropes on either side, leaving only one member in the center, as the legal person – for United Trouble, this is Ade Flowers, and for Metal Militia, the third and oldest of the Robinson brothers, Drew, identified by his own cutoff t-shirt as ‘Brew Drinker’.
“I didn’t know the older brother also wrestled…”
“HA! What’s the matter, Allie? Did you not do your homework on these guys?”
“For your information, Mark, there were no records of him ever wrestling for them before. I guess he does. Now I know.”
“…and knowing is half the battle!”
As Deltzer stops just short of singing the jingle to GI Joe, in the ring, Flowers is having some difficulty taking the larger man down. A dropkick only staggers him, and while a second is successful in throwing him into the ropes, the ensuing running crossbody attempt is caught, and reversed into a big back body drop over the ropes and to the outside! Brew Drinker then surprisingly chooses to tag himself out in favour of his youngest brother; after a moment, however, the purpose of this becomes clear, as Aiden Destruktor gets a running start and springboards off the ropes with a suicide plancha, which takes Flowers back down onto the concrete!
“Good teamwork there by the Metal Militia…though I guess it’s to be expected. After all, they are all family…”
Lucas’s observation needs no retort from either of his colleagues, who watch on as both men pull themselves up to their feet and square off against each other on the outside. Here, Aiden’s more brawl-centric style comes in handy, as he lands a quick series of punches to Ade, then a headbutt, which sends him reeling backwards and sets him up for a running crossbody from Destruktor, which sends both men crashing into the nearby barricade!
“A reckless approach from young Aiden Destruktor here…though effective so far…but it may end up costing him in the long run…”
“I don’t know, Lucas – I think that kid is probably tougher than he looks. You don’t grow up as a foster kid in a trailer park without getting some grit under your skin…”
“How would YOU know, Reece? You grew up in Hollywood!”
“Never mind Mark, Allie. Impressive research, as usual.”
“Thanks, Lucas. And don’t worry, I won’t.”
As the announcers discuss Allie’s upbringing, both the legal men have recovered from their impact with the guardrail, and have resumed their brawling. Once again, Aiden has the upper hand, and throws Flowers against the nearby steel steps before noticing the referee’s count has reached ‘EIGHT!’ and quickly rolling under the ropes and back into the ring. A moment later, after shaking off the cobwebs from his impact with the stairs, so does Ade Flowers, who returns to the canvas right at the count of “NINE!” – and promptly kips up to his feet and goes after Destruktor!
Ready though he is for his onrushing opponent, the youngest of the Robinson siblings is unable to prevent himself from getting knocked down by Ade’s running body press! Seeing an opening, the Team United/United Trouble member quickly scrambles to his feet, dashes to the ropes, and connects with a beautiful springboard lionsault, which further wears down his opponent.
“The tables have turned here, and Ade Flowers has found his footing after some initial difficulties.”
“Yes, Quinn, but the question is: can he keep it up against a tough opponent?”
As if on cue, Allie’s question gets answered in the ring a moment later, as Ade forgoes a pin in favour of a trip up the turnbuckle, from where he promptly launches off with a frogsplash…
…WHICH MISSES, as Destruktor scrambles to his feet and runs across to tag Drew back in!
Surprisingly, however, the biggest and oldest of the Robinsons immediately tags out to their other brother, Chris, bringing a surprised look and a few words from his younger sibling.
“It’s apparent Drew Robinson would rather stay out of the spotlight, and let his actually trained siblings showcase their skills…”
“That, or he’s just chicken, Allie.”
To her credit, Reece does not even deign Deltzer with a response, instead pointing out that Ade, too, has managed to make his way over to his team’s ringpost and tag in his partner, Ant Rushton; as such, when Brutalizer finally takes to the centre of the ring, it is to face a fresh legal man from the other side. This does not seem to bother him in the slightest, however, as he promptly surges forward with a flurry of punches, catching Ant just enough off-guard to send him stumbling back a few steps with each blow. After a moment, however, the United Trouble member sees an opening, and counters with an uppercut, which similarly catches his opponent unaware. Unsurprisingly, repeat iterations of the move quickly follow, until the Englishman has effectively managed to create separation from his opponent.
“Smart desperation move there from Ant Rushton…but can he capitalize?”
Lucas should, however, have been more concerned with Rushton’s defensive game, as Brutalizer wastes no time rushing in for a running crossbody; the Englishman, however, leapfrogs it, somersaulting in midair, then – as the middle Robinson brother turns around – connecting with an impressive dropsault!
“Look at the agility of Ant Rushton! He made that look easy!”
Once again, no one disputes Quinn’s statement, which the crowd also evidently agree with, judging by the huge cheer and chants of ‘THAT WAS AWE-SOME!” currently rippling through the Miami Civic Center. Even Brutalizer seems impressed, shooting his opponent a quick grin as they both pull themselves up to their feet to start over.
As the two men re-start, Ant once again goes on offence, connecting with a dropkick. Brutalizer goes down again, and Rushton kips up to his feet, looking to build upon this momentum. He runs over to the near set of ropes to connect with a moonsault, then gets up, and lands a second one – though only just, as Brutalizer very nearly manages to roll away. Knowing his next move could prove his undoing, Ant allows Brutalizer to pull himself up to his feet, as he himself climbs up the turnbuckle to connect with a missile dropkick! He rolls through on the landing, and clambers up the turubuckle directly opposite, launching off with a somersault senton…
…which crashes and burns, as the Militia member rolls out of the way!
“Rushton went to the high-flying well too many times, and it cost him.”
Yet another statement from Quinn goes uncontested, as moment elapses when both men lay on the ground, before Brutalizer begins to pull himself up to his feet. Once he has regained his bearings, he then walks over to the similarly recovering Ant and lands two stiff uppercuts in quick succession! The Englishman is sent reeling into Metal Militia’s corner, where Brutalizer tags in his sister to do what she does best. Hayley wastes absolutely no time in taking advantage of this, and promptly jumps into the ring, only to walk a few feet away and run in with a big splash! She then tags in Drew, who – surprisingly – does NOT immediately tag himself out, rather emulating his sister and running in with a big splash of his own!
“Double whammy from Metal Militia there, and Rushton must think he’s in Disneyland, ’cause he just went to Splash Mountain!”
“…did you just come up with that on your own, Mark?”
“Yup! Not bad, huh?”
“Actually…no, it’s not. You should pitch it to the Robinsons. Not even joking.”
As Allie and Mark share a rare moment of camaraderie, in the ring, Brutalizer is once again the legal man, and has Rushton trapped in the corner, where he is punishing him with repeated, and stiff, knee and elbow strikes, under the encouragement of his brothers and sister. Eventually, however, he, too, goes to the well once too often, allowing Ant Rushton to fight back by way of uppercuts yet again. This time, however, the Brit takes advantage of the gap he has managed to create to duck underneath Brutalizer’s arm and run across to his team’s turnbuckle, where an eager Teagan Trouble is waiting, arm outstretched. Her exclamation of ‘FINALLY!’ can be heard over the slap of hands, as the redhead half of Trouble Roxx enters the ring and makes a beeline for Brutalizer!
Seeing the oncoming girl, however, the middle Robinson brother immediately tags in his sister, who shoots him a look but makes no further comment, simply stepping in the ring to meet the oncoming Teagan. The redhead respectfully stops short in her tracks to allow her opponent to enter the ring properly, and earns a round of applause from the crowd as she and Hayley circle one another.
“Always good to see some sporting behavior, especially from younger athletes like this bunch…”
“That’s right, Lucas – they ARE young. Six out of these eight athletes are under the age of thirty, five under the age of twenty-five, and one is still in his teens. This really is the new crop of talent making a name for themselves here at GLOBAL!”
“That’s right, Allie. And it’s great to see.”
As the announcers praise the young wrestlers’ actions, in the ring, the evenly matched Hayley and Teagan have finally moved past the appraisal phase, with “the Raven” unsurprisingly throwing the first blow – a clothesline which Teagan ducks, tripping her opponent up along the way. Hayley faceplants, and Teagan runs the ropes on the far side, rebounding off them to catch the Redneck Stomper with a leg lariat as she pushes herself to one knee! Down goes Hayley yet again, as Teagan takes to the ropes once more, this time to connect with a dropkick to the blonde’s face! Hayley, who was once again partway through pulling herself up, goes down once again, having yet to land her first blow to her nimble opponent.
“Hayley Robinson is having some trouble dealing with the quickness of Teagan Trouble here…”
Yet again, a Quinn quote goes unchallenged, as Teagan seeks to capitalise on her growing momentum with yet another rebound off the ropes. This time, however, her crescent kick attempt gets countered into a bicycle kick, which catches Teagan square in the jaw and sends her hurtling to the mat!
“You were saying, Quinn…?”
Having finally found a way into the match, “The Raven” is quick to capitalize, dropping a couple of swift elbows on her downed opponent, before rolling her over, pulling both her arms behind her head, and connecting with a brutal curb stomp!
“REDNECK STOMP to Teagan Trouble, and just like that, the tide has turned here!!”
“So it has, Lucas. Hayley Robinson showing that respecting an opponent does not mean holding back; in fact, more often than not, it’s closer to the opposite!”
“And now, here’s our first cover of this matchup!”
Indeed, Hayley has just dropped down for a cover, as Gabrielle slides in for the count.
T—eagan is clutching the ropes!
“How does that girl still have that kind of spatial awareness, after a stomp like that?”
Allie’s question lingers in the air as, in the ring, Hayley starts over, bringing Teagan up to her feet and connecting with a few chops to her chest, which succeed in trapping her against the turnbuckle. “The Raven” adds a couple more, for good measure, before stepping backwards to get a head start, and connecting with a big running splash in the corner! She backs up again, and Teagan eats a running spinning elbow smash, which further wears her down and leaves her at Hayley’s mercy. Seeing an opening, “The Raven” forces her opponent up the turnbuckle, where she sets her up for a diving top-rope bulldog…
…which Teagan manages to counter, throwing Hayley off-balance and sending her hurtling to the mat!
“Reversal by Teagan Trouble, and she could try for something here…”
The “something” in question ends up being a diving crossbody, which gets a lot of air…
….before getting reversed into a back body drop by Hayley “The Raven!”
“Oops! Better luck next time…”
Deltzer’s snappy remark gets no retort from either of his colleagues as, in the ring, Hayley seeks to once again regain control. She pulls Teagan to her feet and connects with a headbutt, but her attempt to follow this up with a running punt gets dodged by Teagan who spins out of the way and takes off running to her team’s turnbuckle – as luck would have it, the closest one to where she is – to tag in her partner and best friend. As such, when Hayley recovers from the missed attack and turns around, she is taken down by a HUGE diving crossbody from the high-flying Izzy Roxx, whom Teagan has assisted with Lift Off!
“Izzy Roxx wasting no time leaving her mark in this match, and now Hayley the Raven has a high flyer to contend with!”
Quinn’s observation is absolutely correct, as Izzy promptly gets up from the dive to springboard off the near set of ropes with a moonsault, which she transitions into a cover!
T—he “Raven” kicks out!
“When are people going to learn not to go for pins from moves like that? It never, ever works!”
Even Allie has to agree “the Mark” has a point, as Izzy is forced to start over. She takes advantage of Hayley’s prone position to drop a couple of elbows, before returning to her natural habitat – the top turnbuckle, from where she attempts a flying one, which connects! Rather than go for another potentially pointless pin, however, the youngster pulls herself up to her feet and once again scurries up the ring post, perching at the top for a moment to look down before launching off with a cannonball senton! This, too, connects flush, and this time, Izzy does pin! Gabrielle slides in for the
T—oo bad Hayley was close enough to the ropes to grab them!
“Not yet for Izzy Roxx, but she is definitely having the best of Hayley Robinson here…”
Lucas’ two colleagues are quick to agree, as Izzy now looks to her team’s corner, where Teagan is gesturing and yelling “Rocketship!” Izzy, however, appears rather hesitant, and instead opts for a Phoenix Splash…
…which is met and countered on the last roation by a HUGE bicycle kick from Hayley Robinson!
“OH, MY WORD!!”
“She took a little TOO long arguing with her buddy there…”
Deltzer’s (entirely accurate) observation is drowned out by the chants of ‘HOLY S—T! HOLY S—T!” emanating from the Miami crowd. One person, however, is neither impressed nor amused by the goings-on; rather, tears of concern rim Teagan Trouble’s eyes as she watches her lifelong best friend, now barely conscious and totally at the mercy of her opponent, be dragged over to, and then up, the nearest ring post, which Robinson then promptly leaps off of, planting Izzy with a diving bulldog!
“BIG impact from Hayley Robinson, and that has to be it!”
Hayley knows it as well as Quinn, as she promptly covers the now totally knocked-out Izzy. Gabrielle slides in for the count, but her hand has barely hit the ground yet before Teagan attempts to invade the ring, but her progress is cut off by the Robinson brothers! Oblivious to all this, Harris simply presses on with the count.
The rest of United Trouble barge in to engage the Militia…
…but the male Robinsons hold their own for just long enough for Harris to count…
…and give their team the win!
No sooner has the bell rung, however, than their demeanor changes, as they pull their opponents in for high-fives and pats on the back, and join the inconsolable Teagan in checking on the still prone Izzy. As such, it takes a long moment before they are ready to have their hands raised, as “Downtown” Brown makes the announcement.
“Ladies and gentlemen….the winners of this match…the METAAAAAALLLLLL MILITIAAAAAAA!”
As their opponents make a point of also raising their hands, the Militia’s oldest member lives up to his name by walking over to the corner and producing an hitherto unseen cooler, from which he begins to produce seemingly endless cans of beer. Two of his three siblings get handed identical cans of Budweiser, before he exchanges a look with the teenaged Aiden Destruktor and hands him a different-looking can, which a close inspection reveals to also be for Budweiser…Budweiser Zero, that is.
“I bet that’s not what he drinks at home…”
As usual, Allie makes a point of shooting down Deltzer’s snide remarks. “Well, it’s what he’s drinking HERE.”
Aiden does not appear too happy about this, but, rebuked by all three of his siblings, eventually shrugs his shoulders, bashing his can together with theirs and partaking in the ensuing chug-a-thon. The fans, who are already appreciative of the team’s celebration, escalate to fever pitch when cans get thrown to their opponents, as well, and they are invited to join in. Even the still red-eyed Teagan cannot help but perk up as the chug-a-thon doubles in size, United Trouble proving surprisingly capable of keeping up with the rednecks. It is, therefore, amid a sea of discarded and crumpled cans that the most talkative person in the ring has the usual last word.
“We’ve been United Trouble and the Metal Militia. Thank you, goodnight!”
With that, and still chatting amicably amongst themselves, the two teams make their way up the ramp and to the backstage area, under the thundering ovation of the Miami fans.
The sun finds its way into the single roomed home through the gaps in the boarded up windows, highlighting the dust as it floats through the air, gently swirling up and down, spiraling infinitely.
A green sofa is set against the brick wall, with a cardboard box acting as a makeshift coffee table in front of it. On the table is a crack pipe, a lighter, an ashtray and a large upturned bottle of Budweiser.
Litter is strewn across the floor. Empty beer cans, pieces of torn paper and card, food packaging and toilet paper.
On the sofa, a gaunt, pale man is slowly rousing from his sleep. He is wearing a large pair of y-fronts and, on his head, an empty bag of Doritos Cool Original.
He groans some more.
He rubs his head, which rustles, and groans a little bit more as he sits himself up on the sofa.
“Dude…” he mutters to himself.
He looks up at the brick chimney on the opposite side of the room, and pinned to it are three items, each with a single nail through them.
The first is a bag filled with ivy.
The second is a manuscript of some play or other.
The third is a few pages of sheet music.
“What the fuck did I do last night, dude?” he asks nobody in particular.
Doritos Man then vomits all over his toes.
THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE GYM (III)
Jabari Crossover sits in The Slaughterhouse Gym, catching his breath after a grueling weightlifting session, his thoughts drifting to the defining moment of his career as he chats with Daniel.
“Yo, Daniel, do you remember that game back in college when I pulled off that crossover move that left that player writhing on the floor?” Jabari asks.
“Yeah, I remember,” Daniel replies. “That’s one of the sickest moves I’ve ever seen. But why are you bringing it up now?”
“Because that move ended his career,” Jabari says, shaking his head. “I remember thinking, ‘damn, I just ended this guy’s career.’ But what I didn’t realize was that it would end mine too. I was the projected number one pick in the NBA draft. But after my crossover, the other player, who was also a highly projected pick, was never the same again. And my reputation as a ‘draft bust’ followed me everywhere I went. Teams were scared to draft me because they thought I would do the same to other players. And that’s why I never made it to the NBA,” Jabari says, his voice tinged with sadness.
“I’m sorry, man,” Daniel says, placing a hand on Jabari’s shoulder. “That’s rough. But at least you’ll always be remembered for that sick crossover move.”
Jabari smiles, “Yeah, I guess you’re right. But sometimes I can’t help but think about what could’ve been.”
FERRARI? MORE LIKE A FIAT.
The dying moments of Magnum Opus.
Giovanni Ferrari is in the GLOBAL equivalent of the Oval Office, all the directors are there as well, but he’s closest to the monitor and a few of these old men have had several heart attacks. That’s not just down to the amazing action and effort of all three me, but the vested interest of having one Daniel Dream come out of the chute with the GLOBAL Championship firmly strapped around his waist and a proverbial rocket to the moon.
However, as Darring hits Dream with the Flashbang, and subsequently pins ‘The One’ the room is left in shock, as is Giovanni. He has a soft spot for Sean, having brought him to GLOBAL and understands Darring’s value as a professional wrestler, even if Giovanni also sees amazing stock in Daniel Dream, too. He takes it in for a moment, but hears some pens chucked onto the table, and then looks round at everyone for their thoughts. In spite of the wonderful display, and GLOBAL rounding off a memorable night with an incredible main event to boot, Giovanni is the only one smiling.
‘So, what did you think?’
One by one, except for Alicia Fawkes, Jarrod Cruz and Ray Young, the gray-haired, once-upon-a-time-in-Hollywood executives file out, disgusted that the result hasn’t gone the way they wanted it to.
Stanley Johnson can be heard saying. ‘He had to go and fucking get Darring, like some kid in a candy story. Then, someone let Reyn in the door. If he hadn’t interfered, we could have Dream as champion, but no. He knows wrestling, blah blah blah, and now we’re fucked.’
The retort comes from Oliver Smith, the other one gunning for Giovanni. ‘They think he’s some kind of hot shot, and the move that beat Dream? Someone told me that’s called a hot shot, too. Funny, don’t you think? Just because his surname’s Ferrari, he thinks he is one. More like a Fiat. He’s just cost this company thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Don’t be surprised if he gets the chop, and then it’ll be you or me next. Let’s work together.’
A handshake between the two elderly gentlemen in their sixties sickens Giovanni, watching on from the office while pretending to listen to Ray Young, only privy to Stanley’s side of the story.
IS IT OVER?
Friday, 10th March 2023.
The darkness of the comedy club has a cold, sticky feeling to it. Years ago smoke would have wafted up to the rafters as the crowd smoked and enjoyed drinks while taking in the jokes of various comedians. Nowadays the drinking is minimal and smoking is banned. But this doesn’t stop the comedians plying their trade, but their cut from the bar is substantially less than it used to be.
A rapturous laughter fills the room as Jerry David, wearing the wounds of the Pay-Per-View brawl with his adversary E Z Rah, waves out to the audience of fifty, thanking them before stepping through the curtain and down a couple of stairs to floor level.
As soon as he does, he is set upon by ‘The Bro’.
“Bro, bro. Mister David.” he says, his hands frantically waving in front of him, a microphone in one hand which he is speaking into, “The Bro, GLOBAL Wrestling. Good to meet you, bro. Just a quick question if I can?”
Jerry, ever the professional entertainer, smiles at The Bro.
“Of course. Anything you like.”
“Bro, that fight between you and E Z Rah at Magnum Opus… Epic, bro. Epic.”
“Thanks very much,” Jerry nods.
“But I gotta be askin’ you, bro. It was a draw, bro. What does that mean? Are things done with you and E Z now, bro?”
The smile of Jerry David drops. He looks into the homes of every member of the audience.
“Abso-fucking-lutely not.” he hisses.
With that, Jerry spins on his heels and leaves.
DANIEL DREAM Vs. JOE PUBLIC
‘Up next, the winner, like anyone needs help predicting who that’ll be, will face ‘Big Aug’ in the final four. Daniel Dream, the same one who came so close to winning the GLOBAL Championship at Magnum Opus, meets…Joe Public.’ Allie Reece sighs.
‘Come on, Allie. It’s not that bad. Plus, Joe Public being in this tournament is the embodiment of the American Dream, don’t you think? Anyone can make it, and Joe Public is one match away from changing his future. He could be Buster Douglas tonight.’ Quinn gratingly beams.
‘Gemini beat Alex Reyn twice, in case you don’t remember, so it’s NOT impossible. But, it would take a monumental upset of epic proportions for Public to defeat Dream, and you know it, Quinn.’ Deltzer insists.
‘Be that as it may, Daniel hardly gets a reward should he get through this in the form of Big Aug, only the biggest man on the GLOBAL roster and in all of wrestling.’ Quinn contests.
‘It’s rigged.’ Reece responds.
Despite his inclusion in the tournament, Joe Public, red trunks and boots with a fair complexion, brown eyes, a nothing-to-write-home-about haircut, and blessed with an average build, average looks, and average carpentry skills, doesn’t get the luxury of a theme song. Jason Brown covers his vitals, he’s 5’9 and just shy of 196lbs.
Wearing a yellow smiley mask of his own, Daniel is bathed in a holy spotlight that shines down on him like a beacon, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring spectacle for the wrestler who has become known as the Carnivore as he strides toward the ring.
‘Cult of Personality’ blares out over the PA system. A chorus of jeers descends on the Convention Center as Daniel Dream turns to the crowd three-quarters down the ramp, shaking his incredulously and disapprovingly, disappointed with the disdain directed at him by the masses gathered here at Miami Beach.
‘I get the fans being behind Darring, I do, but Daniel doesn’t deserve a hostile reaction. He’s a true American, a world-class athlete and a credit to GLOBAL. We’re lucky to have him.’ Quinn boasts.
Jason Brown, do the honors, mate. ‘From Atlanta, Georgia, standing six feet four and two hundred and twenty-five pounds, while currently residing in West Hollywood, California…THE CARRRRRRRNIIIVOOOOOORRRRRRE, DAAAAAAANNNNNIEEEEL DRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEAAAMMM!’
Several paces behind, a Caucasian man with shoulder-length black hair, wearing a red suit jacket over a black undershirt, walks down the aisle way with a black cane that has a wooden handle despite not looking a day over forty.
Benedict Beel Zebub is accompanying his charge, ‘Carnivore’ Daniel Dream for this tournament match, affording himself a wry smile, no doubt up to no good, and confident in Dream advancing to the semi-finals and beyond.
‘It’s weird seeing Daniel Dream with a mask on, but perhaps he needs that edge, after two defeats to Sean Darring, to make it third time lucky if they eventually meet again.’ Reece wonders aloud.
‘You might be right, Allie.’ Quinn concedes.
‘He has a whole host of personas, and the Carnivore is the one feels is best equipped to get the job done.’ The Mark weighs in.
The bell rings to indicate the biggest mismatch of the first round and therefore, the tournament, is officially underway, however long it may or may not last.
‘Daniel Dream has around six inches in height on Joe Public, and he puts that to good use with a strong shoot-style kick to Joe’s left leg. And another.’
After the second one, Dream doubles that number to four, hitting Public at will and showcasing the enormous gulf in class between these two grapplers.
‘Dream’s got a mean streak, and that is on display early. He’ll have no problems humiliating Joe, who we all feel sorry for because he’s only in this tournament to make up the numbers against GLOBAL’S Golden Boy, who they’re still trying to anoint, even after he lost to Darring for the second time in a one-on-one encounter, which is what the main event at Magnum Opus became in its dying moments.’ The Mark informs us.
A Tie-Up sees Dream force Public back to the top left-hand corner. A clean break is observed, Daniel producing a wry smile as he backs up. As soon as Public steps out though, Daniel FLATTENS him with a superb Superkick that many main event stars would have seen coming, but not poor Joe Public.
‘Too slow to react and I reckon Daniel could pin Joe right here and now.’ The Mark muses.
Even Allie is taken aback by that. ‘You think?’
Lucas adds. ‘Let’s find out.’
Daniel scrapes Public off and that pisses our official, Duncan Sullivan, off no end, who lambasts Dream for his antics. The irony is that Duncan used to deploy such measures when he was an active in-ring competitor himself, but I digress.
‘Quit doing that.’ Sullivan warns in the end.
Dream shrugs the warning off, whether it be arrogance, confidence, or something else. He whips Joe to the ropes, but an attempted Clothesline by Daniel goes awry, surprisingly, with Public ducking underneath. However, by the time Public hits the right set of ropes, Daniel has caught up with him in the form a Running High Knee, reminiscent of Triple H in real life, and catching Joe with a nasty blow up around the chin, decking him in the process.
‘Always steps ahead, way too good for Public, and Daniel has already assembled an impressive list of scalps, as it were, without needing to add Public to it. El Principe, Alfie Button, The Great Wall, and Son of Malta would all wipe the floor with Public, and Dream has beaten them all.’ The Mark laments.
‘Styles make fights. The Great Wall beat Joe Public in seconds, and Daniel Dream defeated The Great Wall, but Dream has already been in there just as long as The Wall has, and it’s not over. Anything can happen.’ Quinn comes back.
‘Bull, and you know it.’ Allie responds curtly.
Dream leans on the top rope, staring out at the crowd in Miami, and a chant of ‘DARRING, DARRING, DARRING’ breaks out. Hogan style, Daniel cups his hand, lapping up the reaction to him, regardless of whose name they’re chanting. He knows he’s getting under their skin more than they are to him.
Daniel suddenly bursts into action leaning against the same ropes and SMACKING Public full-force with a sensational Sliding Knee Strike.
‘Dream is running through his repertoire like a medley of his greatest hits. He could pin Public at any point, we knew that coming in, we’ve seen it and while everyone else in the tournament is in a fight, Daniel gets the easiest assignment against…get this…a person who has never won a match in GLOBAL and I can’t remember him ever winning a match anywhere, ever.’ Deltzer confesses.
‘Luck of the draw.’ Quinn feebly offers.
‘Luck, my ass.’ Reece strongly fires back.
‘We apologize…’ Quinn begins, only to be interrupted by.
‘Don’t apologize for me, Lucas. I can do that myself. Apologize for the bias you show every time Daniel Dream’s on the scene. It’s nauseating.’
Meanwhile, Daniel drags Public into the middle of the ring and his patented Elevated Sitout Powerbomb sends shockwaves through Public’s entire body and being.
‘Carnivore’s Last Hunt, and if Dream wants it to be, it’ll be Public’s.’ The Mark observes.
‘It must be nice. You lose the main event at Magnum Opus, there’s a tournament to crown a new number one contender, and sure it was grueling, but they give you Joe Public, a regular guy, who has never won a match to feast upon. I honestly believe The Mark could beat that guy.’ Allie complains.
‘I wouldn’t go that far.’ Lucas laughs.
‘No, I wouldn’t either, but thanks, Lucas. The point remains – you’re talking about one of the greatest athletes anywhere in wrestling taking on a guy who’s just lucky to be part of the sport. This is like Lebron James playing basketball in the street.’ Deltzer says.
‘And he’s with this more cerebral, aggressive persona, too. Like ‘The American Patriot’ couldn’t get the job done against Public, anyway.’ Reece complains.
Dream ignores the incessant Darring chants, batting them away like a blue bottle or fly in the kitchen, serving up an Uncle Slam, Kurt Angle’s Angle Slam as a reference, and again, Public is overwhelmed, overmatched and in over his head. Speaking of which, Daniel takes an exit right, and scales the top ropes rather rapidly, given that Joe has been unable to muster up a single offensive maneuver to slow Daniel down.
HEADBUTT OF STATE!
An impressive Flying Headbutt finds its intended mark and this exhibition reinforces Dream’s physical gifts, for which we are already aware, and now, it seems Daniel has a glint in his eye. Perhaps we can do away with the notion that this is a competitive first-round tie, and send Dream on his merry way to the semis where he’ll be handed a significantly tougher task.
The Ripcord is coming up…
The arena falls silent for a moment, probably shocked by Joe Public has managed a single move, and then there’s a cheer just to see Dream fall flat on his back. What they don’t realize, and The Mark is about to impress this upon us momentarily, is…let’s have Deltzer do the honors, now he’s standing up and jumping on the spot like a lunatic.
‘PUBLIC DEMAND, PUBLIC DEMAND, PUBLIC DEMAND! GUYS, that is Joe Public’s FINISHER and I don’t think he has ever hit it. Come on Joe, you can put him away.’
Allie’s mouth is agape. ‘What?!’
Lucas is even more shocked. ‘That Shoulder Jawbreaker we just saw is his finisher. Why is Daniel not moving?’
In the meantime, a double down has ensued and Duncan is now up to five when Daniel, despite having eaten Joe’s finisher, stirs first. Hardly surprising when you consider all that Public has weathered thus far.
‘Daniel’s up, but Public isn’t far behind. Dream hits Public with a hard right hand, which is booed by virtually everyone in this pro-Darring crowd, and Public’s kick to the stomach is cheered, and oh my goodness! Public has got Dream up for a…’ Quinn cannot quite believe what he’s witnessing right now.
NO, Daniel comes back down to earth of his own accord, nailing Public with a hard right hand and then lifting Joe up into a Fireman’s Carry Slam position for…
‘Sweet dreams from Daniel Dream to Joe Public as Daniel shows it’s not just the American Revolution Elbow he’s got hidden up his sleeve.’ Quinn raves.
Daniel doesn’t tempt fate. He flops on top of Public, still a bit woozy from Joe’s finisher, and counts as Sullivan does…
‘That was easy, until it wasn’t, and it’s still a joke the match even went ahead, but for one moment, Quinn, The American Dream for Public was almost on, and Daniel Dream’s dreams in tatters. However, he’d taken too much out of Public for Joe to execute the cover, and then Go to Sleep made it academic. But, for a split second, my goodness. That could’ve been catastrophic for Carnivore.’ Deltzer waxes.
‘He won’t get away with that against better opponents, but I expect him to raise his game.’ Quinn admits.
‘Definitely, we can agree on that, and he looked great for the majority of the match, but that was sloppy and ANYONE else in the tournament might’ve had Dream in serious trouble at that moment.’ Reece states.
‘Daniel fought through it though and goes on to the final four. Bet on Dream…Bet on America, sponsored by Diamond Casinos.’ Quinn sneaks in, plugging the competitor, country, and casino all in go, like a smooth criminal.’
ESPRIT DE CORPS
Two weeks ago
Backstage at Magnum Opus, the self-styled Informer stands against a branded GLOBAL backdrop, giving the camera his most dazzling professional smile.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my guests at this time…Angel Ramirez and Saul Morgan.”
The frame pans back to show the two members of the team known as The Angel and the Jerk, both wearing intense expressions which are a far cry from their usual easy-going demeanours. Still, when Informer turns his attention to them, both are polite enough to offer a grin, their body language relaxing somewhat as the interview begins.
“Guys…moments ago, you got involved in a confrontation between Valorie Vitality, Jed Johnson, and two men we now know to be new additions to our roster. What made you want to step in on Valorie’s behalf?”
No sooner has the interviewer posed his question than Saul steps forward, his entire lanky frame tensing up again, even while his tone remains even.
“Well, it’s pretty simple. I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I regret…but one thing I DON’T regret is serving my country.”
‘The Tramp’ pauses, acknowledging the earnest “thank you for your service” from the man in charge of the interview, then proceeds with his reasoning.
“In fact, I may not amount to much of anything these days, but what I am, I owe to the United States Marine Corps. My life has taken a lot of wrong turns since Afghanistan, but back in the day, the Corps took a small-town greenhorn kid from Massachussets and made him into a soldier. Made him into a man. And for that, I’ll always be grateful – and proud to call myself a Leatherneck. Semper fi, hoo-rah!”
Informer nods as Saul’s tone steadily begins to smolder.
“So when I see somebody going out of their way to disrespect the institution that gave me so much…I’m not about to stand by and just let it go down. And when it involves somebody I respect…a fellow Corpswoman…somebody I call a friend…then it DEFINITELY becomes my problem.” The former military man turns his gaze directly to the camera. “Johnson…Brady…Strauss…tonight…you have become my problem. And now, I’m going to deal with it. Now, I’m going to show you what happens to jackasses who jump my friends and disrespect the Corps.”
At this point, Saul’s partner in crime – presumably fed up with being out of the limelight – steps forward, all but commandeering Informer’s microphone.
“That’s right, ‘pendejos’! You f—k with Val, you f—k with us. You f—k with us, we kick your ass. It’s that simple!”
Saul nods, his gaze still burning a hole into the lens, as Informer and Angel both allow the focus to shift back to him, in preparation for his next question.
“You just stated your intention to make Jed Johnson and his two accomplices pay for their actions. How do you plan to make that happen?”
“Simple – we’re going to…”
Before ‘The Tramp’ can lay out his and his partner’s plans, however, the pair find themselves rushed by the very men being discussed a moment earlier! Brady and Strauss, collectively known as The Law, suddenly materialize from off-camera to rain down blows on the likeable duo, who – caught unawares – are not able to react for several seconds thereafter! Angel is immediately laid out by Strauss, who delights in stomping her while mocking her words from a few moments ago in a mean-spirited falsetto; Saul, who appears in physical pain from his young friend’s predicament, is, however, powerless to help, as fending off the nearly 7ft Brady is sapping the reserves of his military and Marine expertise.
Just as the situation looks dire, however, a blur of motion whooshes past the gobsmacked Informer to land a big boot to Strauss’s back! As the Lawman topples forward – Angel swiftly rolling out of the way to avoid getting squashed – the unstoppable force resolves into the lithe figure of Valorie Vitality, returning the favor from a few moments previously!
Saul profits from the momentary respite provided by a well-timed and well-directed punch to smile thankfully at Val over Brady’s shoulder. His fellow Marine snaps off a quick salute, which Saul reciprocates as best he can before slipping behind Brady to apply a sleeper hold on the big man, which finally succeeds in stopping him and wearing him down – all while, a few feet away, Valorie and a somewhat recovered Angel team up in dealing with Strauss. Suddenly faced with two opponents, one of them a seasoned combat veteran as opposed to a scrawny, untrained teenage urchin, Strauss nevertheless manages to hold his own – at least until Angel trips him up, allowing Val to connect with a Pele kick on the way down!
Strauss crumples to the floor, out cold, almost at the same time as his partner, whom Saul’s has worn down to unconsciousness. Their mission successfully accomplished, the two former Marines once again salute each other, grinning from ear to ear, before sharing a ‘hoo-rah!’ and clasping hands for a moment, in the manner of Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers’ characters at the start of Predator. With no further words exchanged – or, indeed, needed – it therefore falls to the bruised, battered, but ever upbeat Angel to release the tension, in the only way she knows how.
“Daaaamn, yo! Just kiss already!”
Peals of laughter trail the heroic trio as they make their way past the long-since deserted interviewing station, and back towards the Globe.
ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM
Two weeks after having been attacked by The Law during an interview at Magnum Opus, ‘The Tramp’ Saul Morgan once again stands beside The Informer against a branded GLOBAL Wrestling backdrop, with his teenage partner by his side. This time, however, the former soldier is not only a long way from his current stomping grounds of California, but also wearing his Marine fatigues, the better to put a point across; and put it across he does, after minimal prompting from The Informer.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my guests at this time, Angel Ramirez and Saul Morgan. Saul, you said you had a message to give to the two men known as The Law, after their attack on you and your partner two weeks ago…so go ahead.”
The interviewer holds out his microphone towards Morgan, who wastes no time picking up on this cue.
“Well, all I really want to say is this…Brady…Strauss…at Magnum Opus two weeks ago, I said you two had become my problem. Now…now you’re more than that. Now you’re a cancer. A cancer that’s affected my life, my partner’s life, AND my friend Valorie’s life. And you know what you do with a cancer? You remove it before it spreads. So that’s just what I’m going to do. Before this tour of America is over, I am personally going to see to it that you two get sent back to whatever hole you crawled out of. You’re going to leave GLOBAL…you’re going to leave the wrestling business…and you’re going to do it by MY hand.”
The former Marine stops for a moment, to collect himself, before moving on to his next point.
“In fact…in fact, I’m not even going to sit on this. You shouldn’t wait on a cancer. I know I won’t be able to fight you here tonight – you’re NOT EVEN IN THE BUILDING, you pair of cowards! – but I’m laying down a challenge, right here, right now: in two weeks time, me and my partner here…” ‘The Tramp’ affectionately lays a hand on his young companion’s shoulder. “…against you two sons of b—-es.”
Here, Angel shows some unusual signs of concern, looking up at Saul and whispering urgently to him. “Estás loco, guey? Those guys are like seven feet tall!” Morgan, however, merely holds up a hand, indicating the teenager should wait a moment. Angel grudgingly complies, allowing her partner to glare directly at the camera and finish his address.
“And if you DON’T show up…the entire GLOBAL Nation’s gonna know you two big, bad, buff dudes are afraid of a teenage girl and a bum.” Saul steps in even closer to the camera, so close viewers at home can practically see up his nose. “Brady…Strauss…you may call yourselves The Law…you may even dress like the actual law…but right now…you’re under MY jurisdiction. MY law. U. S. Marine Corps law. And two weeks from now…I’m going to have you court-martialled.”
With that, ‘The Tramp’ hands the microphone back to The Informer and quietly ushers his partner back towards the locker room area of the venue. Angel’s indistinct objections are the last thing viewers hear before The Informer officially wraps up the feed.
“Saul Morgan, with a strongly-worded challenge to the two men known as The Law. Now, back to ringside.”
E Z RAH Vs. ALFIE BUTTON
“Tournament action is set to continue as we march toward naming our new top contender for the Global Championship!” Quinn excitedly mentions.
“And this one has promise,” Deltzer adds, “because it features two men who are very fast on their feet inside the squared circle!”
“Being fast is not always a virtue,” Allie chides.
“This is not the time for such discussions,” Quinn admonishes his partners.
The screen shows “Downtown” Jason Brown with his microphone at the ready.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” he begins, “This match is set for one fall and is a quarterfinal match in the number one contender’s tournament! Introducing first, hailing from London, England, and weighing in at two hundred and thirty pounds, here is EZ RAH!”
The PA System suddenly starts blaring out Kanye West’s “Power” as E Z steps out wearing a boxing robe adorned with his line of terrible-looking NFT characters. He psyches himself up and makes his way down the ramp, looking to high-five some audience members, most of whom leave him hanging. He awkwardly laughs It off and gets in the ring, dropping his robe and raising his arms to a chorus of boos.
“And there is the most delusional man in Global right now!” Allie calls out.
You have to wonder,” Quinn adds, “whether the fact he didn’t manage to defeat Jerry David at Magnum Opus will be a mental block for him in this one.”
“You never know,” The Mark calls out. “Things like that can stick with you, but it also can make facing somebody as seasoned as Alfie Button a damn nightmare!”
“And his opponent!” Brown continues. “Also from London, England, and weighing in at one-hundred, ninety-nine pounds! Here is ALFIE BUTTON!”
‘Let Me Entertain You’ by Robbie Williams blares out and the technicolor-coat-wearing Alfie Button emerges. His tights match, containing shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, all designed to test the pixels and resolution of your widescreen television. He is not alone, however, as Amber Lee walks out of the entrance curtain beside him. She gives him a hug and then, with the widest grin and eyes possible a firm smack on the rear end, to which Alfie sells like he just got shot in the arse.
“Alfie getting a little love from Amber!” Allie calls out.
The Mark can’t resist but reply, “Nice to know somebody is getting love in Global.”
As Alfie climbs between the ropes and leans back up from stepping through, we see him wince in pain.
“Looks like those ribs are not a hundred percent in there tonight,” Quinn points out. “This could be a major problem for Button.”
“It’s only a problem if you let it become one,” The Mark relates.
Referee Barry Snider steps to the center of the ring and motions for the match to begin and the bell sounds out!
DING! DING!! DING!!!
As if shot out of cannons, the two men race toward each other at the center of ring. They lock up for a brief moment before EZ manages to twist around and get Alfie’s left arm in an arm bar. The hold was fleeting though because Alfie immediately twisted his way out of that and managed an armbar of his own. Alfie counters with a swinging haymaker with his free arm that misses due to EZ ducking back and swinging with his own haymaker that misses. Button grabs the arm and manages to flip Rah over with a hip toss and the young man pops right back up and rushes in, grabbing Alfie for a hip toss of his own. The man then both leap at the same time and dropkick each other’s feet, countering each other in mid-air. The two men are left on one knee facing each other as the crowd cheers the pace of the match.
“These two are throwing caution to the wind in there and going all out!” Quinn announces.
“It’s the only chance EZ Rah has,” Allie adds.
“Well,” The Mark retorts, “until he realizes those ribs are not in great shape.”
The two men stand to their feet and Alfie even gives a little grin and a nod to the younger man as they circle a little before lunging right back in for a lock-up. This time EZ manages to get his knee up faster and plants it in the midsection of the veteran star. He then grabs Alfie and whips him into the corner.
“EZ Rah looking to make some noise!” Quinn bellows.
Ez Rah takes off running and leaps on Alfie’s knees, grabbing him by the head and then yanking back for a monkey flip out of the corner. Except Alfie flips so well that he lands on his feet! The crowd erupts as EZ stands up and gets kicked in the stomach for his trouble, then dropped with a DDT in the middle of the ring.
“THE WEAKEST LINK!” Quinn exclaims, “but he isn’t saying ‘bye bye’ just yet!”
Alfie, feeling himself just a little, gives a nod to the fans for their cheers. A small mistake when he turns around to receive a punch right to the inside of his right knee. This is followed by another punch to the groin area that drops Alfie to his knees.
“And Alfie Button is holding about a pound of Aunt Betty’s Nut Butter right now!” Quinn calls out.
“That is disgusting,” Allie claims.
“Eh,” The Mark replies, “it was pretty funny, really.”
EZ gets to his feet and sees how close Alfie is to perfect distance from the corner and he takes off running, leaps into a somersault, lands his feet on the middle turnbuckle, and propels himself back in the air with a flip and lands an elbow drop right on the ribs of Alfie Button.
He hooks the leg and goes for the pin!
TH……ALFIE KICKS OUT!
EZ shakes his head as he gets to his feet, but stays focused, reaching for Alfie’s head and pulling him to his feet. He whips him across the ring to the opposite corner with all his might, so much so that he actually falls to the mat when he lets go of the whip. Alfie hits the corner awkwardly and flips over the top turnbuckle and all the way to the bottom of the arena floor.
“Now that is being taken for a ride!” Quinn remarks.
“EZ Rah is showing just why he was added to this tournament,” Deltzer continues, “but also why he very well may be wrestling’s future!”
“The only person who believes that is EZ Rah,” Allie comments.
Speaking of the young flyer, he is back on his feet and holding his arms out to the fans, acting like he expects them to cheer what he just did.
But there are no cheers, only tons of jeers and reactions that can only be described as, well, unkind. And yes one gentleman was heard at the most inopportune moment yelling that he do something inappropriate with his mother.
Suddenly the boos turn to cheers. This is not because of Rah, but because Alfie was back on his feet and stepping onto the ring apron behind EZ’s back. The young man truly believes he is winning the crowd over until he turns around. At that moment, Alfie grabs the top rope and yanks himself into a flip over the top rope and then uses that momentum to land a lariat with such torque that it floors EZ Rah in a vicious way.
“ALFIE JUST DROPPED THE KID HARD!” Quinn yells out.
Button hooks a leg and goes for his own pinfall attempt.
THR………NO! KICKOUT BY RAH!!!
Alfie, ever the veteran, gets to his feet quickly and doesn’t worry about the near fall. He pulls Rah to his feet and then runs to the ropes, leaping to the middle rope and springboarding back at the young man with a reverse elbow that floors him again.
“BAM!” Quinn gleefully calls out.
“Alfie taking EZ to school,” Allie cheers on.
“The is not good for EZ,” Deltzer states, “because the most dangerous place to be when Alfie looks at the corners is on the canvas. And that is right where this kid is!”
Alfie smiles as he gets to his feet and heads to a corner. He leaps up to the top turnbuckle almost in a single bound and perches for a split second before leaping into the air for a frog splash onto the back of EZ Rah as the crowd erupts in a cheer.
The moment he lands he gets up and goes to the opposite corner and ascends to the top turnbuckle and then leaps with grace and precision, nailing another frog splash on top of EZ’s ribs. The impact actually bounces Button several inches back into the air after impact.
“ACTION REPLAY BY ALFIE BUTTON!” Quinn all but screams out over the ovation from the crowd.
Alfie rolls off EZ and is clutching his ribs after the big impact move.
The Mark is first to really notice, “Alfie is not in good shape now. That little wince we saw earlier is a full-blown problem now!”
“Look at his face when he is trying to breathe,” Allie adds, “there is pain with every breath he takes!”
“He’s definitely going to pay for hitting that big move set.” Deltzer finishes.
Both men are down and referee Barry Snider begins the obligatory ten count.
We see Alfie trying to pull past the pain and get a firm grip on the ropes, while Rah is barely moving his hands.
Both men grasping the ropes now and Alfie is almost up with a terribly pained look on his face.
Alfie gets to his feet as the crowd cheers again. He slowly stalks over toward EZ Rah, every movement causing him some portion of pain. He reaches Rah and the moment he grabs EZ by the head, Rah juts out a sidekick that hits the perfect spot on Alfie’s ribs and sends him staggering back.
“Oh no,” Allie cries out.
“Rah has finally realized where the weakness is!” Quinn announces.
EZ grabs Alfie by the wrist and then kicks him in the ribs not one time, not twice, but three successive times. Rah then holds onto the wrist as he jumps to the second turnbuckle and then lands on top of Alfie’s shoulder and ribs with a leg drop.
Rah pulls Alfie’s head between the knees and lifts him for a powerbomb, driving him into the corner with it. Alfie lands completely off-kilter and crumbles to the mat.
EZ hooks a leg and goes for the finish!
THREE…………………….NO!!! ALFIE BUTTON ESCAPES!!!
The fans erupt that Alfie is still in the match, but EZ doesn’t look so happy. He sits there and stares a cold glare toward referee Barry Snider.
“I hope the kid knows better than to do this with the referee now of all times,” Allie asks.
“Uh, yeah,” The Mark responds, “It doesn’t look like it.”
Rah is to his feet and starts jawing at the referee. Snider, being a pro and former police chief understand this and is not taking the bait. EZ starts getting louder and louder and starts to make a motion to point and perhaps jab Snider in the chest. However, before he can, he is jerked backward into a small package!
“Alfie escapes because EZ just couldn’t hole him with that small package!” Quinn relates.
“Sometimes a bigger package works best,” Allie states, throwing out her best innuendo of the match.
“The small package could have won it right there,” Deltzer retorts.
“Keep telling yourself that, hon,” Allie replies almost emitting a chuckle as she does.
Rah is incensed by the small package and he starts stomping away on Alfie’s ribs. Finally, after numerous stomps he reaches down and pulls him to his feet, whipping him across the ring into the opposite corner. Alfie’s back hits those turnbuckles with a force, but that is immediately followed by EZ Rah running in with a knee to Alfie’s face.
“NFT by EZ RAH!” Quinn bellows.
The shining wizard does its job and drops Alfie out of the corner toward the middle of the ring. EZ wastes no time in climbing the corner himself and leaping with his shooting star press. This lands flush on the exposed ribs of Alfie Button.
“SHOOTING MEGASTAR PRESS!” Quinn yells out.
EZ Rah hooks the leg!
DING! DING!! DING!!!
“EZ Rah with one of the biggest wins of his career!” Deltzer calls out.
“You have to wonder if that rib injury didn’t keep Alfie from kicking out yet again,” Allie adds.
“The winner of this match,” Jason Brown’s voice is heard over the PA System, “and advancing to the semifinals of the top contender tournament: EZ RAH!”
The fans erupt in boos as Rah again holds his arms out to take in what he thinks will be adulation. The fans don’t stop booing until Rah finally stops trying to play to them and starts exiting the ring.
“What a fast-paced match!” Quinn states rhetorically.
Hours before Magnum Opus
Frank Rich’s shoulder-length hair, once full of golden locks and now gray, is the least of his worries. Cuts and lacerations litter his weathered face. Now, in his sixties, the proud professional wrestler has seldom taken a beating like this and lies unconscious, his much younger second wife, the glamorous Victoria, who is still blonde, catching her breath for all the crying she has done in the last several minutes.
Freddie, decked out in his leather jacket and all-orange wrestling attire, walks into the room, quickly followed by Cousin Todd, brothers Declan and Donny, who are all ready to rock and roll ahead of their crucial GLOBAL Tag Team encounter with The Master Sisters just HOURS from now.
Freddie sits down by his dad’s side, ignoring Victoria, and holds his father’s hand. ‘Dad, can you hear me? It’s Freddie. I’m so sorry. This is all my fault, but if it’s the last thing I do, I’ll get revenge on that bastard for you and for us.’
Todd comes over to console Victoria, and they exchange some words, she is fittingly in a black dress and matching heels. Donny stays at the doorway, beckoned by Victoria to come over for a hug, and Todd also invites him to greet his mother.
Freddie suddenly ups and leaves, only for Declan to put his right hand on ‘Big Brother’s’ chest and whisper. ‘This is on you. Make it right.’
Taken aback, Freddie looks down at Declan and nods while Declan stares ahead at his father and then over at his sobbing mother, seething with rage that the real patriarch of the family has been put in the hospital because the acting leader hasn’t acted firmly or rapidly enough.
Manny standing there in all his glory, black trench coat, slicked back hair, and aged, dark complexion highlighted by a mustache.
“You thought you knew better than me in the ring,” Manny continues. “I gave you a warning when you were facing that Darring guy, and you didn’t pay attention.”
He walks toward Pierson.
“Then you get in there with that big motherfucker and proceed to do exactly what I told you not to do. Just who the fuck do you think you are?”
“Manny,” Pierson starts to respond but is cut off.
“No!” Manny yells as he literally glides to be right next to the side of the yuppy’s face. “You are not in charge! You haven’t been in charge since you were twelve, and you goddamn know that!”
He begins walking around Pierson as he speaks.
“All those years of being a whiny little bitch and needing me to prop up your confidence and get you motivated to make something of yourself. All the work I have put into you and this….THIS is how you repay me?”
He stops and takes a look up and down at his protégé’ and huffs.
“I should have let them kill you where I found you.”
“Manny, that’s not fair…” Pierson starts again, but is cut off yet again.
“Let ME tell you what is unfair,” the Hispanic boogeyman retorts, “I thought I was helping create a champion among men. Somebody who could go out and do what needs to be done in this world. But instead I got you.”
Pierson starts to say something, but before a word escapes his mouth, Manny juts out a finger toward him and shuts him up.
“Your body is shut down right now until you come to realize that I am in control and not you. You breathe because I allow it. You feel because I allow it. And nothing will ever change that. Once you accept this, I will allow you to wake up, and we can get back to business.”
Christians stands there with a panic on his face.
“And until you make the right decision, you will stay right here. In my world. In my care.”
He starts walking away.
“I gave you fair warning, kid. I told you I controlled death and life for you. This is the last chance you will have to make a decision.”
Manny walks away from Pierson and disappears into the white smoke at the edge of the screen.
Christian stands there as the camera pans back further away and then a blackness for a second, and we are back to the view of his forehead and then further back to the view of him laying in a hospital bed.
Beeps are heard as the screen fades to black.
IT’S ALL THESE THINGS AND MORE.
WHAT IS IT?
IT’S FUCKING DOG FOOD!
WHAT IS IT?
IT’S FUCKING DOG FOOD!
VEGAN DOG FOOD FOR YOUR VEGAN DOG WHO IDENTIFIES AS A FUCKING VEGAN EVEN THOUGH IT CAN’T TALK.
IT’S ALL THESE THINGS AND MORE.
WHAT IS IT?
IT’S FUCKING DOG FOOD FOR YOUR FUCKING VEGAN DOG WHO YOU HAVE GIVEN A PERSONALITY AND OPINIONS AND DIETRY PREFERENCES DESPITE ITS FUCKING INABILITY TO TALK YOU HIPPY BASTARD.
It’s hard to make out anything on the screen for a few moments, there is only darkness with a couple of dim lights in the background. Soon a familiar chat bar pops up, and it becomes apparent we are watching an E Z Rah live stream, this time there is only a single message displayed:
‘Comments are disabled’
The close noise of fumbling can be heard, as it sounds like the phone is being handled like some sort of fidget toy. Eventually the camera is brought close to E Z’s face, he is laughing, cut up and only illuminated by the light emitted from his phone screen. He has bags under his eyes and looks crazed, like he hasn’t slept properly in days.
Just as he’s about to say something, he laughs some more and hangs his head, as if doubling over. By the time he pops back up, his expression has been replaced with one of serious determination. He looks straight into the camera and talks:
“Crash. A crash is coming. I can feel it. Do y’all have any idea how much cash this will cost me?”
A smile creeps back across his face.
“But it don’t matter, you can’t stop a crash from coming, is one of those things that has to go down in order for us to move forward.”
E Z moves over to what looks like a large circuit breaker and flips a large switch, some lights burst on with a satisfying CLUNK, showing what appears to be a work in progress of a large tunnel.
“Zero. One. One.”
He looks deep into the camera again.
“Zero one one. My global record. I was gunna set the whole damn world on fire man. I don’t fail at this shit. I don’t fail to some god damn has-been who can’t tell a joke to save his life! This aint sposed to be it! This ain’t my story! My life!”
E Z starts to pace back and forth, running a hand through his hair.
“Crashing man, I’m crashing!” E Z states in a panic, “My whole empire man! Crashing!”
He takes a moment to compose himself, taking a look at the corridor behind him.
“You cost me everything, Jerry. You ain’t nothing! And yet you cost me everything! Global should be makin’ that E Z money man! You got any idea how many clicks we woulda got with me in the main event, holdin’ up that world title? Sted I had to deal wit chu!”
E Z starts to walk down the long corridor, his steps echoing as he does. Piles of brick and rubble litter the floor.
“My name is E Z Rah. When I want something, you can be damn sure I’m gunna get it. I picked you out first as a joke man! An example of what kinda no talent scum they had a Global! I was spose to put you down an be onto the next one! But you just couldn’t let it go could you.”
He runs his hands through his hair once again, laughing nervously:
“This ain’t over man. This ain’t over till I get my damn W. A crash is coming Jerry, your crash. I don’t care if it costs me EVERYTHING, my cash, health, sanity. It don’t mean shit if you’re walkin out there thinkin you got the best of E Z.”
E Z gestures to the tunnel: “You see this man? It’s all for you. See I aint thinkin too straight since you threw me through that damn glass. CRASH. I hear that sound when I’m alone now, every time I close my eyes. Thinkin bout how I owe you man. I want this over. I want you over. Buried and done. I wanna beat you so bad you never wanna step in a damn wrestling ring or stage ever again.”
E Z takes a final moment to consider his final words:
“Crash. A crash is coming Jerry, can you feel it too?”
With that, the screen goes dead, and we’re left with a somber moment of silence.
A cheer goes up as our cameras are transported backstage to see Steve Blaine interview ‘The First’ Freddie Rich, and this one is going out live to fans in the ring and at home, folks. He’s in his black leather jacket, orange trunks and boots, and brushes his blonde curtains away from his face.
The immaculately dressed Blaine predictably goes, er, first. ‘Freddie, you’re facing Alex Reyn in tonight’s main event. It’s actually a tournament match, the winner will advance to the semi-finals to face EZ Rah, but one can be forgiven for forgetting that. What is your focus for tonight?’
Freddie steps forward, a smile on his face, having heard another cheer go up. ‘Thank you, Miami. Do I look like a worried man, Steve? I don’t, do I? That’s because I know my family will finally be safe from that madman. We’ve gone through an awful lot over the last few months. He has invaded our house TWICE, yeah that’s right, and hospitalized my father, Frank, who’s starting to make a recovery.’ A roar greets that news, Blaine mouths ‘great news’ and Freddie nods.
‘It is and thank you everyone. It’s easy to feel pretty good about that, but what is my focus? Getting out of here in one piece. Making sure that there’s a Rich Family to lead, but more importantly, go home to in the future. I have to remember why we’re here, though. This maniac put my dad in the hospital, so that’ll never be forgiven or forgotten. I’m excited at the prospect of getting my hands on him for the SECOND time tonight.’ Freddie beams, rubbing his hands together.
He turns to the camera. ‘GLOBAL Nation, I’m sorry I could have ruined the main event at Magnum Opus. Sean Darring and Daniel Dream definitely didn’t deserve that, and you didn’t either. But, earlier that day, Alex Reyn assaulted my father, Frank, at our home in Dallas and then made his way to Hollywood, as you do, to fight two of the toughest men in wrestling, you know, as you do. I couldn’t let that stand, and I’m sorry to the great fans and wrestlers that I interfered.’ Rich holds his hands up.
‘I’m not sorry I hurt Alex Reyn, I’m not sorry I cost Alex Reyn the GLOBAL Championship, and I’m not sorry I’m one of us is about to get our ass kicked. I’m not sorry for protecting my family, I’m not sorry for avenging my family, and I’m not sorry that…I’m not sorry at all, and I’d do it all again.’ Rich rages.
‘So, yeah, I might be dead man walking and dead man talking to you, Steve Blaine. It’s been an honor, one way or another buddy, but now that I have it in writing that Reyn will leave my family and put this stupid feud in his mind only to rest, then I’ll take my punishment. I’m no longer scared. And if I’m going out, by hook or by crook, by Alex Reyn’s lethal hands or by Giovanni Ferrari and GLOBAL higher-ups’ say-so, I’m going out on my shield, face-first in a pool of my own blood or on a stretcher. Alex Reyn, I don’t look well, I don’t feel well, but I’m prepared for hell. I may be going to the gallows, but I’m not resigned to my fate. Bring it all, because there may be no tomorrow for either of us. Alex, do your worst.’
Freddie shakes hands with Blaine and a big cheer goes up for the final first-round match of the tournament to crowd a number one contender, that being just a sub-plot in the Reyn-Rich rivalry spanning promotions.
Rich heads towards the curtain and rotates his next, gearing up for what will be the fight of his life.
ALEX REYN Vs. FREDDIE RICH
“Ladies and gentleman, we hope you’ve enjoyed our show tonight, because it’s time for our main event! Originally, this was going to be Alex Reyn taking on The Wall in the first round of this tournament, but after recent events, the men upstairs have made the wise decision to give us a match we’ve ALL wanted to see since Magnum Opus! Tonight, Alex Reyn looks to get his revenge on Freddie Rich for potentially costing him the main event!”
The Mark scoffs. “Yeah, poor him. Meanwhile Freddie’s looking to get revenge on REYN or what we all know he did to poor Fra-
Allie hurriedly speaks over him. “Legally GLOBAL cannot speak about events outside of this show and we must remind everyone that the investigation is still ongoing and no suspect has been confirmed or denied.”
The Mark leans over and whispers “Yeah, but we all KNOW it was him, right? Guy’s about as innocent as Ted Bundy.”
And while the mic doesn’t pick it up, the cameras catch Allie mouthing “yeah…”
“In any case.” Quinn says, trying to get them back on topic “This match will serve as a first round match for our GLOBAL Championship contender tournament!”
A graphic showing the tournament brackets briefly appears on screen before…
A soft chant begins to spread throughout the arena. Starting as a whisper but growing into a chorus as the lights darken while images begin to flicker on the viewers screens. Images of violence, war, and a solitary figure watching it all.
“Here he comes…” The Mark says.
The chanting has grown louder now and the drumbeats of Nightwish’s “Seven Days to the Wolves” rise in volume as mist spreads throughout the stadium, ghostly images of great heroes and villains forming two parallel lines along the ramp.
The rock part of the song kicked in and thunder roared while fire erupted on the stage, revealing the cowled form of the East Wind Alex Reyn, his hands outstretched over the flames. He’s shirtless, save for an open black cloak with a wolf skull mask. His body covered in ancient symbols and markings that seemed almost to glow and move in the firelight.
“Looks like Reyn’s made the choice to come out first,” Quinn notes.
“Probably a mind game,” Allie explains. “Wait in the ring so Freddie feels like he’s walking to the gallows.”
“Dark.” That’s Deltzer’s addition.
Reyn begins to walk forward, and the ghostly figures kneel as he approaches them, only to rise up as he passes them as if more energized, turning to watch as he walks, Reyn himself never breaking eye contact with the ring.
Newman makes the introductions
“INTRODUCING FIRST, WEIGHING IN AT 200LBS! HE HAS YET TO BE PINNED OR SUBMITTED HERE IN GLOBAL!! THE EAST WIND! ALEX!! REYN!!”
The fans immediately let him have it with boos and a repeated chant of “FRANK! FRANK! FRANK! FRANK!”
“Well, I’d say these FANS have judged Reyn guilty!” Deltzers laughs.
“Howl! Seven days to the wolves
Where will we be when they come?
Seven days to the poison
And a place in heaven
Time drawing near us
They come to take us”
Reyn climbs atop the top rope like a lion surveying his territory. Staring towards the entrance way.
Coldly, Reyn steps down. Removing the cowl and placing it on the ring post before turning to again stare down the entrance way. Awaiting his opponent.
And here HE comes. Walking out to the ring, serenaded by the cheering fans, yells of his father’s name and chants of “FUCK HIM UP, FREDDIE!! FUCK HIM UP!!”
Allie grimaces, “No PG rating in a wrestling show ever survives our vocal fans.”
“Yeah, but if I didn’t have this suit and headset on, I’d be right there with them.” The Mark says “DO IT FOR FRANK, FREDDIE!!”
“AND HIS OPPONENT! REPRESENTING THE LEGENDARY ‘RICH’ FAMILY! FROM DALLAS TEXAS! WEIGHING IN AT 237 LBS! HE IS, THE FIRST, FREDDIE RICH!!!”
Freddie isn’t indulging in the fans’ reception tonight. At most, there’s a small smile of appreciation, but otherwise, his mouth is set in a grim line. He meets Reyn’s chilling glare dead on as he walks the aisle.
“Freddie Rich looking more focused than I have EVER seen him!” Quinn remarks “But he may need that tonight to beat Alex Reyn!”
The referee wastes no time in calling for the bell as Freddie gets in the ring.
DING! DING! DING!
Quinn begins: “And here we go-!”
FREDDIE’S NIGHTMARE (Claymore)!!!
The attack is like a cannon shot and Alex BARELY avoids it, immediately the swift psychopath counterattacks with a running knee to a rising Freddie’s temple, but The First pulls his head out of the firing line with timing so fine he feels the breeze from the missed knee!
‘What a start, and it might’ve been the finish right away. Imagine that being the quickest victory in GLOBAL history.’ Quinn raves.
‘Indeed, someone was watching the main event at Magnum Opus, or even interfering in it.’ The Mark jokes.
Freddie grabs Reyn from behind now and tries to ram him shoulder first into the turnbuckles, but with nigh-inhuman agility, Alex grabs the ropes and swings his feet out between the ropes 619 style to skin the cat, avoiding impact with the ring post!
‘You can say what you want about Alex Reyn outside the ring, or even his actions in it, but his agility and ability are not in doubt.’ The Mark gushes through gritted teeth.
And immediately, he’s back on the offense! The relentless Reyn cannot be stopped as he attacks Freddie Rich with a Springboard-
FREDDIE’S NIGHTMARE TAKES ALEX REYN OUT OF THE SKIES!!!
There is a LOUD pop from the fans. Several of them are holding their hands to their mouths. They had NOT expected that kind of turnaround!
‘OH MY GOODNESS.’ Lucas exclaims.
‘Don’t hesitate, Freddie. Put him away. Sorry.’ Deltzer apologizes for getting too carried away. Unbeknownst to most, Allie tells him not to worry about getting caught up in the moment.
Freddie though. Freddie doesn’t LET himself be shocked. His mouth is set in a grim line, his eyes are laser-focused on the now-prone Reyn.
Time to finish this.
FILTHY RICH!! (Cradle Piledriver)
Reyn immediately grapevines his legs around the bottom rope to block the lift. There’s a struggle, but with the ropes acting as extra leverage, Alex is able to slip out of Freddie’s grasp and out of the ring.
‘Quick thinking by Reyn, and it had to be. Even he would have been in major trouble had Freddie managed to execute Filthy Rich.’ The Mark informs the audience.
But the fans note that it is REYN on the retreat. Of all people, Alex Reyn is trying to get distance as he’s still reeling from the impact of Freddie’s Nightmare’.
‘How often have you seen Reyn backtrack?’ Reece wonders.
‘Not many times, definitely not.’ The Mark affirms.
Freddie attacks with a baseball slide! Reyn dodges the kick and attacks with one of his own, only for Freddie to catch it!
Instead, Freddie drops Reyn face-first onto the outside mats with a modified Capture-Reverse STO!
The Mark almost rises to his feet for that one, holding his headset in excitement. ‘Freddie’s definitely done his homework. He knows first hand how often Reyn likes to flip out of suplexes, so he tried something different and it has definitely paid off for him there.’
‘It’s hard to prepare for Reyn, but I think you’re right, Mark.’ Allie adds.
The gears are turning in Freddie’s head. He’s staying focused and now, instead of going into a mount and strike, Freddie picks Reyn up and tries to ram him skull first into the ring ste- THAT 619 STYLE SKINNING THE CAT LETS REYN SWING HIMSELF BACK INTO THE RING!!
Quinn contributes. ‘Again, Freddie plays smart by not letting himself get caught in Reyn’s dangerous guillotine.’
Any attempt from the East Wind at a comeback though is quickly quashed as the whole world spins around him. Half stumbling, half rolling, out of the ring on the other side. Hand to his head. Still trying to recover, to shake off the cobwebs from Freddie’s attacks.
In an ironic mirror to the past month, a cold, unhurried Freddie stalks closer to a reeling Reyn.
That said, while Freddie is being careful not to rush in and get taken by surprise, the slower pace is also giving Alex the time he needs to recover. As Freddie comes round the corner, Alex has already re-entered the ring and is now on the attack with Ascendant’s Wra- Nope! It’s a feint as he backflips into the ring!
Freddie though… Just gives Reyn a cold stare. Completely unfazed.
The Mark pipes up. ‘Reyn likes to use that tactic to get into people’s head, psyche them out, make them flinch and Freddie is refusing to let that happen right now, possibly because he’s past caring, or he’s seen it too many times, I’m not sure.’
Not even taking his eyes off the East Wind for a second, Freddie slides into the ring and rises to his feet.
A brawl begins! Freddie tries to tag Reyn with heavy shots, but the East Wind ducks and weaves! Unlike with VIP though, there is a sense of danger to these strikes, Reyn isn’t just toying with Freddie, He has to TRY to avoid him!
‘Freddie’s on fire.’ Reece says excitedly.
Reyn tries to break Freddie’s rhythm with a spin kick, but The First has it scouted! He sweeps Reyn off his feet, but AGAIN avoids getting caught in a chokehold by backing up, calling for the THIRD Freddie’s Nightmare of the night!
REYN JUMPS OVER THE INCOMING FREDDIE AND DRIVES HIS SKULL INTO THE MAT WITH A JUMPING METEORA!!!
‘What an incredible counter.’ The Mark says deadpan, giving begrudging admiration to his personal pick for Magnum Opus.
‘That’ll take the air out of Freddie and the fans’ sails, no doubt.’ Reece believes.
The impact is SICKENING as the back of Freddie’s head hits the canvas hard! Reyn has both legs hooked!
FREDDIE KICKS OUT AT ONE!!
‘What in God’s name?’ Allie asks.
‘You talk about defiance…’ Quinn quips.
‘Actually, we don’t do that here at GLOBAL.’ The Mark tuts.
Even REYN is stunned by this. This ISN’T normal, and he barely has time to duck a short-arm clothesline as Freddie…
Misses by a mile and goes tumbling out of the ring!
Okay… that isn’t normal EITHER.
‘Not Freddie’s finest moment in a ring.’ The Mark admits.
‘Or out of it, for that matter.’ Reece half-jokes.
Neither is Freddie almost collapsing as he has to use the announcer’s table to stay upright.
‘Come on, Freddie.’ The Mark attempts to encourage him.
There’s a murmur through the crowd. A predatory tilt of the East Wind’s head.
Freddie still glares back at him defiantly.
But the wobble in his legs, the hands he has to force not to grasp his throbbing head, are tell-tale signs of what that defiance took out of Freddie.
But worse is a single drop of crimson red.
Not from any attack in this match.
But from when Reyn smashed his head into the countertop earlier in the evening.
Freddie could only conceal the damage for so long. Blood is in the water.
The East Wind hunts.
But Freddie is NOT willing to be his prey!
He snatches a bottle of water from the commentary desk! Pouring it over himself to let the cold shock wake him up!
“STOP TAKING MY WATER, YOU B_!!” An incensed Quinn yells. Thankfully cutting himself short before he earns himself a fine.
Freddie throws the empty bottle at Alex, who parries it without breaking eye contact or his stride.
What DOES break his stride is Freddie trying to charge Reyn and ram him back first into the ring post!
His aim is off though, the red throbbing in his skull throws off his equilibrium, and it is FREDDIE who gets sent headfirst into the ring post!
‘This is exactly how Alex Reyn injured one Paul Sanders once upon a time, and Paul, whether he likes me to admit it or not, hasn’t been the same since.’ Deltzer educates us.
On instinct, Freddie pulls his head free JUST in time to avoid a ring post superkick! But the movement causes him to lose balance as the world spins. He grabs his throbbing head, forced to use the barricade to stay upright as Reyn begins his eerie. measured walk towards Fre-
BELLY TO BELLY THROWS REYN INTO THE BARRICADE!
According to The Mark, there’s a first for “The First.’
‘Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Freddie this fired up.’
Once again, The First’s resiliency and defiance have caught the East Wind off guard, and Freddie pushes through the aching in his skull to continue the attack! The blood is flowing faster and heavier from the reopened wound, but he Throws Reyn into the ring and slides in after.
Pulling Reyn to his feet, he whips him into the corner, following close behind for…
FIRST CLASS!! (Point Blank Running Dropkick to an opponent, whipped into the corner)!!
Reyn ducks and the shot goes wide! Freddie hits the turnbuckles feet first and drops to the mat! Reyn is on him in a second with a single knee camel clutch, but Freddie will NOT stay down and throws Reyn off himself with a forward roll. The blood flow has now become a full-on crimson mask, but even as Freddie has to blink away the blood from his eyes he applies a chin lock to try and slow down his lethally quick opponent, only for Reyn to slip out behind!
He’s going for the kill!
EAST WIND CUTTER (Lifting Rolling Cutter)
‘THIS IS IT.’ The Mark Cries.
Freddie twists to face Reyn and throws him in the air, catching him for a..
POP-UP SNAP SUPLEX!!
He floats into a cover!
REYN KICKS OUT!!
BUT FREDDIE PICKS HIM UP AND THROWS HIM OVERHEAD WITH A DEADLIFT FALLAWAY SLAM!!
‘What strength on the part of Freddie Rich.’ Quinn marvels.
The East Wind’s smaller frame actually BOUNCES as it hits the mat! Tumbling and falling out of the ring! Freddie wipes the blood from his eyes. A look of determination on his face. He can NOT afford to lose focus here. He has Reyn on the run, he NEEDS to stay on him!
‘Come on, Freddie, you can do this, and everyone at Miami Beach believes this right now.’
SUICIDE SPRINGBOARD TWISTING CLOTHESLINE!!
No! Reyn avoids! Freddie lands on his feet! He charges at Reyn! Determined to stay on the atta-!
REYN SIDESTEPS AND SENDS A CHARGING FREDDIE HEADFIRST INTO THE RINGSTEPS!!
The top step is knocked out of place from the impact as Freddie goes tumbling over! His hands have gone to his head now. Clear agony on his face. He tries to stand, but finds himself on his knees as a flash of red agony sends the world spinning.
‘One thing, guys. Mark, you mentioned Paul Sanders earlier, and I’ve seen it with him, as well. This head injury Freddie has? It’s making him impatient, too eager to get at Reyn. When he wasn’t rushing Reyn, picking his shots, he had a lot of success. Ever since that Meteora, though, he’s become so desperate NOT to let Reyn exploit the injury, and it has thrown him off his game. Mistakes have certainly crept in.’ Allie observes.
‘Well said, Allie Reece, and having been there, I can attest to that.’ Quinn backs her up.
He manages to catch himself on the ring post, steading himself for a second before rolling back into the ring. He has to use the ring ropes for assistance but finally manages to pull himself to a standing position.
ONLY FOR REYN TO DRIVE HIS HEAD INTO THE MAT WITH A FLIPPING DDT!!
DESPITE EVERYTHING, FREDDIE MANAGES TO KICK OUT!!
A cheer erupts from the fans who were NOT expecting that! Neither was Reyn from the half-amused, half-annoyed look on his face.
A boot CRASHES down on Freddie’s temple!
‘No one expected Freddie to kick out of that, but he may wish he hadn’t.’ Reece complains.
The fans wince as a second stomp crushes poor Freddie’s skull into the mat. There’s a small, cruel smile on Reyn’s face as he straddles the prone Freddie’s back. Throwing ruthless, violent punches precisely aimed at the back of Freddie’s unprotected head! If Freddie wants to draw out the end, Alex has no issue prolonging his suffering.
Movement from Freddie.
‘Good to see him moving at least.’ Quinn says.
His hands clench into fists that punch the ground. Reyn goes from firing punches to holding on for balance as with a ROAR of Defiance, Freddie begins to STAND TO HIS FEET, carrying the weight of his opponent on his back! Spurred on by cheering fans!
POISONED RANA FROM REY-!
Freddie knew that was coming! He grabs the top rope to block the move, then grabs Reyn by his ankles and THROWS HIM FORWARD OUT THE RING!!!
‘These two men are so quick to reply, Reyn we know has lightning-like reflexes, but Freddie’s been watching tape, no doubt about it.’ Reece reckons.
Reyn is able to grab the ropes to control his fall and land on his feet outside the ring! Bad news for Freddie who has collapsed again from that exertion, leaning on the middle rope only for a double jump knee to strike him in the jaw!
Freddie reels back! Reyn is on the apron! Springboard Crossbody!
Freddie catches him out of the air!
Quinn perks up at the sight of that. ‘What a brilliant catch.’
…But the throbbing pain and vertigo cause him to lose his balance, letting Reyn transition into a DRAGON SLEEPER!!
‘And, just like that, it might be night night for Freddie Rich.’ Talk about a mood swing for Lucas Quinn, experiencing the highs and lows all over again, even after a promising in-ring career was tragically cut short.
The neck crank is locked in TIGHT! Freddie has already lost a lot of blood and is possibly suffering a concussion! He thrashes wildly in the hold, managing to knock Alex loose with an overhead kick that catches the East Wind on the bridge of his nose!
With the separation between the two, the referee immediately goes to check on Freddie. Genuinely concerned for his safety.
Allie agrees with this measure. ‘Very sensible officiating, because we’ve all got this uncertain feeling that Freddie’s prepared to go places he’s never been before, and that wouldn’t bode well for him against that animal he’s in there with.’
Freddie has to throw him out of the way of an incoming Alex Reyn! Monkey Flip throws the East Wind overhead! Freddie tries to pull him up and send him in the corner for First Class Stamp, but a stumble lets Reyn rebound with a spear!
Freddie rolls back with the impact! Applying a face lock to lift Reyn up for a deadlift vertical suplex!
Again the world spins and Reyn is able to drop down behind him! GTR (Hirooki Goto’s spinning headlock elbow drop neckbreaker)!
The back of Freddie’s neck hits Reyn’s knee HARD, but the fans can see that Alex is breathing heavily. He had NOT expected Freddie to give him this kind of fight!
He tries for the same stomp to the throat that felled Gemini, but Freddie CATCHES THE FOOT IN HIS PALMS!
Reyn pulls his leg free! Standing shooting star- Freddie gets the knees up!
The fans cheer Freddie on as he pulls Reyn into a small package!
‘Close, so close.’ Quinn laments.
Reyn rolls to his feet, holding Freddie’s wrists!
Double wrist clutch knee to the face!
Reyn holds on! A SECOND brutal knee that snaps Freddie’s head back!
He goes for a third…
SPINEBUSTER FROM FREDDIE RICH!!!
‘WHERE did that come from?’ The Mark says, disbelievingly.
‘Deep in the heart of Texas.’ Allie sings.
‘Hey, not a bad voice, Allie.’ Quinn compliments her.
The crowd roars, but Freddie simply rolls off his opponent, just lying on the mat next to Reyn. still too hurt to follow up on that BRILLIANT counter.
The referee is checking on Freddie again, but even though he has to cling to the official’s shirt to stand, Freddie waves the referee away.
“I’m still bleeding, ain’t I? I’m not done yet.”
With those words, he LAUNCHES himself at an unsuspecting East Wind! Ramming Alex Reyn into the corner and unloading on him with wild, powerful punches! The East Wind was caught completely off-guard by his ferocity!
Reyn is whipped into the opposite corner! FIRST CLASS (Point Blank Running Dropkick to the opponent, whipped into the corner)!
No! Reyn ducks, but he’s still too dazed from Freddie’s attack to follow up and The First’s unrelenting onslaught takes him off his feet with a takedown looking for more punches from the mount-
REYN CATCHES FREDDIE IN THE GUILLOTINE!!
He’d gotten sloppy, he’d made a crucial mistake, and now he is paying for-
FREDDIE ROLLS REYN UP WITH A JACKKNIFE PIN!!
TW-REYN BREAKS OUT!!
The message has been sent loud and clear, though. No matter the position, no matter his injury, Freddie Rich WILL. NOT. STOP. FIGHTING.
Reyn is willing to put that to the test. Grabbing Freddie by the head, he drives knee after knee after brutal knee into the concussed man’s temple until he stops struggling.
FREDDIE STILL HAS FIGHT!!
Reyn is now snarling as he drags Freddie so his head is resting against the ring post and rolls out the ring.
‘PLEASE, NOT AGAIN.’ Deltzer bellows, watching through his fingers.
REYN JUST KICKED THE POST AS FREDDIE MOVES HIS HEAD OUT OF THE WAY!!
‘That could, and probably should, slow Alex Reyn down, somewhat anyway.’ Quinn hopes.
He grabs the East Wind’s wrist, pulling him face-first into the ring post before bouncing his head off the metal post and throwing him back into the ring!
He uses the ropes to pull himself up onto the apron. Taking a deep breath to brace himself, even with the blood pouring down his face.
SLINGSHOT ELBOW DROP! PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS!
REYN KICKS OUT!!
You can see Freddie’s face set in a grim line. There is no despair. No quit in his eyes. That shot wasn’t hard enough? He’ll just have to hit Reyn HARDER.
No! Reyn breaks free! He hits the ropes, going for a spear- Freddie leap-frogs him!
The athletic move is hell on Freddie’s vertigo, and he stumbles for a second as Alex hits the ropes again, lining Freddie up for a second spea-
FREDDIE’S NIGHTMARE OUT OF NOWHERE!!!
The crowd is on their feet! That shot was dead on! And this time. THIS time, Freddie REFUSES to let injury, the referee, or GOD HIMSELF keep him from capitalizing!
REYN IS WHIPPED INTO THE CORNER!! FIRST CLASS!!! REYN CAN’T AVOID IT THIS TIME!
‘YES, damn, he got it and got all of it.’ The Mark cheers.
‘He did, and he needs to build on it.’ Allie agrees, hesitantly, excited yet reserving caution at the same time.
‘Guys, I think he’s going to, you know.’ Lucas states.
The East Wind is slumped into the corner! Freddie backs off, letting adrenaline fuel him!
FIRST CLASS STAMP (Running Facewash)!!!
‘Fantastic work and Freddie is producing as good a performance as he has in a long time.’ The Mark praises Rich.
The East Wind’s head snaps back from the kick and Freddie pulls him out of the corner! He’s calling! Measuring! He will not let ANYTHING stop this next attack!
…The fans boo as Reyn’s limp body rolls out of the ring and falls to the outside floor. Out of Freddie’s rea-
WHAT PART OF ‘NOTHING WILL STOP HIM’ DID YOU NOT GET??
SUICIDE FREDDIE’S NIGHTMARE!!!!
The thunderbolt-like kick sends the East Wind sprawling up the ramp like a ragdoll!
“HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!”
Deltzer stands up, applauding what he has just seen and makes a few front-row fans laugh. ‘I agree, what THEY said.’
But then the cheers die down as the fans realize something horrific.
The suicide claymore was perfectly executed. It hit Reyn dead on.
…But in doing so, Freddie had smacked the back of his head on the apron on the way down.
And now he lies still on the outside floor.
The Mark mouths ‘shit’ to his colleagues, and Allie touches him on the arm, seeing her colleague hold his hands to his mouth, worried about a professional wrestler, and one he has seen from afar for several years, in a heap at precisely the wrong moment.
Elation turns to concern as the referee has no choice but to start his count.
No movement from either man.
The fans are staring nervously at Freddie. He wouldn’t let it end like this, right? Not after this kind of performance?
They’re just lying there. They haven’t even stirred. With that kind of impact, Freddie might be unconscious.
The fans have started chanting Freddie’s name! Urging him to get back in the ring! To stand up! To just! MOVE!
But their pleas fall on deaf ears.
Wait! There IS movement!
But it’s from REYN. Reyn who stumbles towards the ring. Reyn, who despite having eaten a BRUTAL amount of offense, hadn’t suffered a head injury while nursing a concussion like Freddie had.
Freddie has just begun to stir as Reyn rolls into the ring. He’s RIGHT there! He’s right by the ring!
WITH A BURST OF ADRENALINE, FREDDIE JUST MAKES IT BACK IN TIME!!
But now he’s lying on the mat. Struggling to stand. To make it to his feet…
He manages to rise for a second, then collapses.
‘NO, NO, NO…COME ON.’ The Mark yells.
Another attempt, another collapse. His face is absolutely coated in blood. Reyn honestly doesn’t look much better. Bruised and crawling over to Freddie. But even compared to HIM. Freddie is a mess and the referee knows it.
“Freddie, come on man. Just call it off. You don’t need to do this.”
A quirk of the East Wind’s lips.
“Why yes Freddie. Lie down and I’ll make it quick.”
A PUNCH FROM FREDDIE RICH SPLITS ALEX REYN’S LIPS!!
‘YES!’ Deltzer punches the air, mirroring Freddie’s ‘fist of fire’ in the face of The East Wind and adversity.
The East Wind stares in absolute shock at Freddie, who spits in his face!
“I don’t need a suicide assistant!” The First growls!
With an almost feral snarl, Reyn throws himself at Freddie throwing animalistic blows at Freddie who, like everything else in the match, seems to be pushing THROUGH the blows! Through the pain!
Reyn fires another punch, but Freddie catches the wrist!
He grabs the East Wind! Looking for his third attempt at Filthy Rich!
No! Reyn slips out behind! Chopblock to the knees!
That was more of a distraction than anything, as it sets Freddie up for a Claymore kick from REYN that strikes him in the temple!
“And once again, Reyn takes another wrestler’s move into his own arsenal” Allie bitterly remarks.
‘This guy, I swear he’s like Sylar – but even more evil. But, I respect the hell out of him for having the presence of mind to do that move to that guy, after all of the abuse he has taken. But, screw it, I hate him too. Come on, Freddie, get up. You can do it. You’ve made believers out of us.’ Deltzer roars, defiant.
Reyn knows that won’t be enough though as he climbs to the top rope. Looking for a-
Whatever he was going to do is cut short as Freddie throws himself on the rope, causing Alex to lose his battle and crotch himself on the top turnbuckle!
Freddie climbs. With the fans behind him, he climbs up to where Reyn is, looking for his ultimate move!
AVALANCHE FILTHY RICH!!!!
‘OH MY GOD, HE’S GONNA DO IT, GUYS.’ Deltzer squeals like Chuck Taylor taking a chop.
A wave of Vertigo causes Freddie to stumble, exhaustion from pushing himself beyond his limits all match.
It’s only for a second. But that’s all Reyn needs.
REYN PUSHES FREDDIE OFF THE TOP ROPE AND OUT OF THE RING!!!
The fans scream in horror as Freddie Rich’s body hits the ring steps with violent force! Reyn has collapsed to the mats in the ring too while the referee rushes to check on Freddie! Meanwhile, The Mark and Allie gape, the latter holding both her hands to her mouth and not because of some jibe at Jed Johnson. Allie Reece is horrified, and a tear actually streams down her cheek instantly, terrified that she may just have witnessed the end of Freddie’s career, something that many must have wondered all along.
The cameras catch Freddie lying on the mats outside. There are twitches. Spasms as Freddie’s heart tries to will him on, but his body simply CAN’T move.
An utterly exhausted-looking Reyn, blood dripping from his mouth, grabs Freddie. Rolling him back into the ring.
Dragon Sleeper applied!
Freddie isn’t even moving in the hold. There’s a fire in his eyes beneath the mask of blood, but it’s like his body is unable to obey his commands, and with the danger, a blood choke poses at this stage in the match, the referee knows he has no choice. The safety of the wrestlers comes first.
“He’s out! He’s out!”
DING! DING! DING!
…But Reyn isn’t letting go. Even as Freddie goes limp in the hold, clearly unconscious, Reyn refuses to release.
It’s like he said.
Freddie interfered in his fight.
This is Freddie Rich’s execution.
The referee tries to pull Reyn off, to get him to break the hold and mercifully, Reyn does release!
‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.’
…Only to turn his cold eyes on the official.
The man doesn’t even have time to run.
EAST WIND CUTTER ON THE REFEREE!!
‘Unfortunately, I’ve seen that before. He just does not care, guys.’ The Mark states, full of contempt and sadness, all too familiar with sights like this and Alex Reyn being the one standing tall.
The fans are booing Reyn loudly as he rolls out of the ring. Visibly limping as he grabs a steel chair and slides back in. He drags Freddie to the corner. Resting his head against the bottom turnbuckle before placing the chair so the edge rests under Freddie’s chin.
“Consider our debts settled.”
Blood spurts from Freddie Rich’s mouth as the chair is drop-kicked into his throat.
HOTEL ROOM PARTY
The night after Domination #6, loud party sounds can be heard coming out of one of the suites in an upscale Miami hotel; fortunately, this does not directly inconvenience any guests, as that entire wing, and in fact that entire floor, have been booked by and for GLOBAL Wrestling superstars.
Inside the room, some of the most exciting up-and-coming superstars in the promotion’s roster enjoy their downtime by way of a relatively wholesome, if animated, get-together. Amber Lee and Alfie Button are dancing wildly, shaking their arms and legs to the beat of the song on the stereo, while Darren Best sits on the room’s one sofa, chatting to the Rich Family. At the snacks table, Saul Morgan and Valorie Vitality attempt to maintain a conversation while preventing teenage third wheel Angel Ramirez from single-handedly depleting the provisions, while in the far corner, Kid Chameleon and his partner have a hushed yet seemingly heated conversation. Last but certainly not least, out in the balcony, Trouble Roxx and the two men in Team United compare notes with their opponents for the night, who have stepped out for a smoke.
“I’m not gonna lie, that was AWESOME.” Teagan Trouble offers Hayley “the Raven” a high-five, which the blonde returns. “Honestly, I’m not even mad about losing. I AM mad at you nearly giving me a heart attack about Izzy, though…”
“Well, that sounds like a YOU problem, Teags…” Izzy Roxx, the recipient of the final blow and subsequent pin in the match in question, seems a lot less upset about her fate in the contest than her partner, whom she punches lightly in the shoulder. “Seriously, dude, you gotta stop acting like I’m gonna break in half every time I get hit…”
“Well, ex-cuuuuuse me for worrying about you, ISABELLE…” Despite Teagan’s offended tone, it is clear the two girls are merely bantering – an impression which gets compounded a moment later, when Izzy mock-pushes her best friend, both girls giggling uncontrollably for a moment before joining the male members of both teams, idling just a few feet away.
“Is that a spliff? Dude, pass it over here!” Teagan all but wrestles the “special” cigarette out of Chris Brutalizer’s hands, taking a big drag before offering it to Izzy, who reacts in horror.
“Uh…NO?! Are you literally high?!”
“Not yet…” Teagan giggles as she tokes again, before passing the weed cigarette back to the Robinson brothers.
“Then don’t! You’re gonna get us in trouble, dude!”
“See, Iz? That is why you SHOULD blaze up once in a while…” Teagan laughs as she wraps her arm around her friend’s shoulders and leads her back inside to fetch another drink.
As the redhead is pouring herself and her friend drinks, Saul takes it upon himself to thank Valorie for the umpteenth time for the part she played in rescuing Angel and himself from the clutches of The Law earlier in the night, drawing a protest from her interloper.
“Are you done thanking me, sugar?! ‘Cause that was the least I could do for a fellow Leatherneck!” She smiles at the fair-haired man. “Besides…you guys stepped in for me first…One hand washes the other…”
“Speaking of washing hands…Angel, don’t reach into the olive bucket! Your hands are full of Cheeto dust, and you’ve been licking your fingers, too!”
“So?” Angel proceeds to lick her fingers yet again, as much to remove the remnants of Cheeto dust as to make a point. “Ain’t nobody gonna know that. An’ what they don’t know can’t kill ’em, right?”
“Actually, it can. Literally. Go wash your hands.” Saul’s stern tone brings an eye roll from her partner.
“Actually, hun, he’s right. That’s nasty.” Even Valorie’s input does not, however, manage to fully sway the teenager, though it clearly makes some inroads.
“All right! I get it! You guys wanna be alone! Just SAY it, man…geez!”
With that, the teenager stomps away towards the ensuite toilet, leaving the two older wrestlers and former Marines to share a chuckle.
All of a sudden, all the good vibes being shared inside the room are brought to a halt by a loud knock on the door – one so aggressive it causes Teagan to startle and spill some of her drink, and makes the Robinson brothers hastily drop their doobies onto the courtyard below. Angel, on her part, stays hidden in the bathroom, her survival instinct kicking in and telling her now is not the moment to be seen. Older partygoers, however, are livid, and Alfie Button and Saul Morgan reach the door at almost the same time, with the former Marine deferring to the host. As such, it is Alfie who ends up snapping at the person outside the door, in an uncharacteristic display of irritation.
“Listen, mate, it ain’t on to go scarin’ the livin’ daylights out’er people like tha’!”
“Oh yeah? Well, I had to make sure you could HEAR me over this goddamn racket!” The knocker turns out not to be a cop or hotel authority figure, but a fellow roster member – the man who calls himself John Truth, who – predictably – does not look altogether pleased.
“Ya mean the music?” The initial surprise gone, Alfie has reverted back to his usual charming approach. “Bloody timeless classic, this. ‘Mr. Brightside’, by The Killers. Gets any Brit singin’, anywhere in the bloody world!”
As if to corroborate his words, the two members of Team United can be heard engaging in a somewhat off-key singalong in the background. Alfie grins, but The Man Who Fell to Earth is not amused.
“I don’t give a good goddamn WHO it is. Turn it the hell down!” Truth grumbles the next few words to himself. “Goddamn kids…”
Before Alfie can retort, however, a voice is heard behind him, as a face peers under his shoulder.
“Heeeey! It’s Smelly-Ass McRedpill from tryouts! How’s it hanging, dude? Creeped out any secretaries lately?”
The Man Who Fell To Earth frowns and prepares to retort, but Teagan Trouble does not give him the chance, scrunching up her nose as she wafts a hand in front of her face.
“Seriously, dude, what’s with the pong?” She points at Saul beside her. “This guy is LITERALLY homeless, and HE makes an effort to take a shower every now and then. What are you, a Mogwai or something?” She pauses, considering her own statement. “Actually, that would explain SO much…”
Truth, however, is suffering no fools, and completely ignores the youth as he turns to Alfie once again.
“Just keep it the hell down. Those bastards are attracted to sound.”
With that, he turns and stomps away down the hall and back to his room, leaving Alfie, Saul and Teagan to exchange looks and shrugs for a moment, before returning to the festivities – but not without the redhead having the last word:
“Yeah, or maybe you’ve just got a headache from getting murked by Principe AND The Wall…”
With that, she finally closes the door and goes on to enjoy the rest of the night.
Welcome To Miami: Keegan
GLOBAL Celebration: Brian/Seth
The Queen’s Banquet: Sc00t/John Aggressive Negotiations: Shae/Keegan
Family Matters: Pedro
Big Aug Vs. Son of Malta: Seth
The Slaughterhouse Gym (I): Hector
Prime Time Celebration: Brian
Chat Shit, Get Hit: Pedro
El Principe v John J. Truth: Pedro
The Slaughterhouse Gym (II): Hector
A Kingdom Divided: Pedro/Crash/Seth
Make It Right: Keegan
Live A Little: Blair / April / Keegan
Making Their Own Luck: Pedro
United Trouble v Metal Militia: Pedro
Hangover: Morse Code
The Slaughterhouse Gym (III): Hector
Is It Over?: Sc00t
Daniel Dream Vs. Joe Public: Keegan
Esprit De Corps: Pedro
Addressing The Problem: Pedro
E Z Rah Vs. Alfie Button: Chris
Rent Arrears: Keegan
Comatose Conversation: Chris
I’m Sorry: Keegan
Alex Reyn Vs. Freddie Rich: Shae
Hotel Room Party: Pedro