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L!GHTS OUT #42

Boardwalk Hall

Atlantic City, New Jersey

10,500

Desktop 1920 x 1080

[DING! DING! DING! DING! DING!]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

Ladies and gentlemen, we are LIVE exclusively on the Battleground Network here at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey — and this is L!GHTS OUT FORTY-TWO! And now, the opening battle is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first...

I'M THE ONLY WRESTLER DOIN' IT, YOU OTHER WRESTLERS RUINED IT

I'M TOO LEGIT, GO HAMMER WIT' THE FOOLISHNESS

MY NANA SAID MY GRAMMAR CAN MANEUVER THIS INDUSTRY

UNTIL I'M STUPID RICH AND NOW I'M STUPID RICH, AH. 

[The first verse of "Classic Man Remix" by Jidenna, featuring Kendrick Lamar, kicks the speakers then fades momentarily just as Tapp Wrestling steps from behind the curtain. His back is to the crowd and arms are out to each side.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY 

… standing 6’ even and weighing in at 180 pounds...

 

[Seconds later, the beat drops into the chorus and a spotlight focuses on Tapp, spinning around to loathing boos. He pauses again, making them wait a moment longer while he soaks up their hatred, before dropping his arms and starting down the ramp.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… from The Illustrious Raleigh, North Carolina...

 

[The spotlight follows Tapp as he berates the fans all the way down the ramp, stopping at ringside to jerk a #WeAreLimitless sign from a fan in the front row. He takes the sign up the ring steps and walks to the center of the ring apron before shredding it into pieces. He walks to the far ring post and throws most of the poster at the fans and then he returns to the post closest to the steps to discard the remainder into the crowd.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… representing the Wristlock Academy, presenting Tapp Wrestling!

 

[Tapp reaches into his trunks, retrieving one wet wipe. With the top rope tucked in his armpit, he used the wipe to clean the soles of his boots. He also threw the soiled wipe at the front row just before ducking through the ropes.]

 

[Inside the ring, Tapp Wrestling is standing with his NVR World Champion briefcase. The crowd immediately voices their disapproval, which the young wrestler relishes in. He has that patented shit eating grin on his face as he snatches the microphone from Mike Dempsey’s hand.]

 

TAPP WRESTLING

Thank you! Thank you! No really. It’s wonderful to be here. Well. Not all that wonderful. It is New Jersey. Atlantic City of all places. 

 

[Tapp Wrestling pretends to gag causing the crowd to boo the man louder. He smiles again before bringing the mic back to his lips.] 

 

TAPP WRESTLING

I GET IT! Trust me. I’d boo too if I lived in this filthy cesspool. But I’m here to bring a little joy to a city that CLEARLY needs it. That’s right. Mr.Wrestling has a treat in store for you. 

 

[Tapp pauses for a second as the crowd begins to chant something, struggling to make out what it is they’re saying. After a few seconds the chants become audible enough for Wrestling to hear. “WE DON'T WANT IT!” Tapps smile quickly fades and he begins shaking his head. ] 

 

TAPP WRESTLING

I don’t care what you people want. I’m the only active  wrestler trying to give you what you NEED. And what you need is the most elite wrestling training experience of the century. What you need is a subscription to Tapp Wrestling’s Wristlock Academy! 

 

[The crowds' angry shouts are deafening as Tapp plugs his business.]

 

TAPP WRESTLING

Now hold on. You’re having doubts you say? What could I possibly teach you filthy, uncultured, uneducated, sorry excuse of Wrestling Fans? Plenty. But instead of talking about it, because I could go on for days, why don’t you just pay attention to the brilliant display of technical excellence that I’m about to put on. 

 

[Soaking in the fans' hatred one final time, Tapp wrestling tosses the microphone back to Mike Dempsey and sets his briefcase on the ring steps in the corner behind him.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

And now his opponent...

“KASHMIR" BY BOND 

BEGINS TO PLAY

[The violins cut through the silence, bringing everyone’s attention back to the entrance. As the drums kick in, Michael Hayden steps from behind the curtain, pausing to take a look at his surroundings.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… standing 6’2” and weighing in at 227 pounds...

 

[Letting the umbrella rest over his shoulder, Hayden waits until he has Tapp’s attention and then he marches directly to ringside. He stops, scans the crowd once more, and they join him in unison.]

 

“WHO?!”

 

[Tapp rolls his eyes, unimpressed, but makes no attempt to advance on his opponent. Hayden hops up on the ring apron and raises the umbrella over his head. As the referee directed, Tapp remains on the opposite side of the ring while Hayden steps in and takes occupancy in the nearest corner.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… from The Shores of La Jolla in San Diego, California, presenting Michael Hayden!

 

[Slowly, Hayden removed the mask, staring daggers through Tapp in the corner across from him. He doesn’t take his eyes off of Tapp as he removes his jacket. Readying for the match, Hayden gets some simple stretches in while the referee checks Tapp and gives some instructions. Various Limitless chants ring out, but none got them all going at the same time.]

 

[As the referee attempted to check Hayden, Tapp attacked. Missing the knelt referee completely, Tapp had run along the adjacent apron and clotheslined Hayden against the corner.]

 

[DING!]

 

[With no follow-up, however, Hayden smashed the left side of Tapp’s face with a back elbow and then shoved him off of the apron. Tapp crashed against the crowd barrier and the crowd erupted.]

 

[Hayden stepped through the ropes to the apron, waited, and then jumped. Tapp was smashed with a double ax-handle in the shoulders as he tried to stand. Hayden grabbed him by the hair and yanked him around the corner only to toss him into the ring under the bottom rope. Hayden was in quick, but not as quickly as Tapp was on his feet in the ring. Tapp went to the far ropes, Hayden ducked a clothesline and turned to catch Tapp coming off the near ropes with an arm drag. Tapp went down in the center of the ring and Hayden held on, working the armbar, but Tapp slipped out.]

 

[Both men up, Tapp confident and motioning how easy it was to slip free. Hayden just as poised, egging his junior opponent on.]

 

[Smacking together, in the middle of the ring, they locked up. Tapp slipped under Hayden’s left arm and around with a rear waist-lock, “Too easy, old man.” Standing switch, Hayden had control. Another, but Tapp lost his grip and Hayden dropped to his knees. Hayden turned his shoulders into Tapp and broke free.]

 

[Both men back up, neither with a clear advantage, yet both bad-mouthing one another as they had. Again, they semi-circled the ring before locking up, and again, Tapp slipped under Hayden’s left arm. This time, however, Tapp locked on a full nelson, but Hayden was just as quickly wriggling loose and Tapp transitioned into a wristlock; then, into a hammerlock that Hayden reversed.]

 

[Hayden cranked Tapp’s left arm a few times, the both of them backing up to the ropes. Tapp blasted Hayden with his right elbow to break free. Tapp stepped forward, planted his left foot, and blasted Hayden with an enzugiri. Hayden bounced back against the ropes, Tapp caught him on the return and put him flat on the mat with a lightning quick arm drag. As his opponent had earlier, Tapp now held Hayden down with an armbar.]

 

[Hayden kept his right shoulder off of the mat, avoiding a pin attempt as best as he could, as he struggled with his left elbow screaming to snap. Tapp pressed his shin against Hayden’s neck and shoulder for more pressure. The referee didn’t get a chance to count. Hayden refused to give to the armbar, he dug in deep to roll inward and get to his knees. This pushed both men up to their feet where Hayden spun to release the pressure and bounced Tapp off the mat with an arm drag of his own.]

 

[Tapp bounced Hayden with another and when Hayden snatched Tapp for the fourth consecutive arm drag, Tapp stopped the momentum, stood Hayden up and then leg-swept him down to the mat. Tapp quickly snatched Hayden’s left arm and cranked back hard.]

 

[The referee checked on Hayden’s condition and Hayden adamantly waved him away.]

 

[Hayden worked himself up to his knees and then both back to their feet before he started bashing Tapp with his right forearm and elbow. Backed to the ropes, Hayden broke free of Tapp’s grip, firing him across the ring. Tapp leaped a back body drop attempt, getting some air and landing on his feet to come off the ropes behind Hayden. Hayden turned and dropped-flat, just in time to miss a running crossbody. Tapp crashed to the mat, rolled under the bottom rope and off of the apron, and landed on the floor of Boardwalk Hall.]

 

[Tapp used the commentary table to get up, he leaned on it to stand. Inside the ring, Hayden built momentum from the far ropes, crossing the ring at full-speed only to fake-pump a dive through the ropes. Everyone leapt back in their seats, but Tapp exited the potential landing zone to the left.]

 

[Hayden maintained control of the ring, standing in the center while Tapp collected his bearings on the outside. The referee didn’t care to start the count before checking on the broadcast team and, by that time, Hayden had forced Tapp to return to the ring to face him.]

 

[Locking up this third time with some heat, Tapp shoved Hayden away. Hayden returned, reddening Tapp’s chest.]

 

“WHEW!”

 

[Tapp cracked Hayden with an open-hand chop in the center of his chest. “Hit me,” Tapp shouted and Hayden did. The crowd popped with each knife-edge that Hayden threw and groaned every time Tapp landed his open palm. The strikes were sharp, resounding in the arena over the crowd’s reaction. Eventually, the chops turned to forearms, then elbows got involved, and soon taking turns was over all together.]

 

[Hayden was backed against the ropes and used the push to thump Tapp with his forearm one good time before he caught Tapp’s lip with the point of his elbow. Hayden snatched Tapp’s head and planted it in the mat with the BROKEN CROWN, his snap evenflow-DDT. Simultaneously rolling Tapp while hooking the far leg, Hayden went for the cover.]

 

... One!

 

... Tw — Kick out!

 

[Hayden questioned the referee, but maintained control, pulling Tapp up by his head.]

 

[Tapp broke Hayden’s grip, thrusting his arms upward, before landing three closed-fists. Tapp took a step back and lured Hayden in, “Come on!” Hayden swung a wild clothesline, Tapp ducked around behind, wrapped his arms around Hayden, and took him up and over with a release belly-to-back suplex. Hayden landed hard on his left shoulder, cranking his neck. Tapp closed in, stomping down on Hayden before he pulled him up by the ears.]

 

[Tapp backed Hayden to the ropes, using them to send him across the ring and then to build momentum for himself. Tapp wiped Hayden out with a crossbody, rolled back to his feet to hit the ropes with continued momentum. A double foot stomp, clutched Hayden right up to a seated position, coughing and gasping. Tapp continued to pin-ball from the ropes, once more, with a shining wizard that snapped the back of Hayden’s head back down to the canvas hard and fast. Quick lateral press for the count.]

 

... One!

 

... Tw — Kick out!

 

[Tapp didn’t let up, didn’t even let up on the cover, instead he started punching Hayden in the face and neck, only baiting him to block because, when he did, Tapp seized his left arm shot his own through the gap. Shifting his weight, Tapp applied pressure to crank Hayden’s shoulder with a figure-four lock. Tapp failed to trap Hayden’s right arm and, as agonizing as it looked, a few sharp elbows to the ribs broke the hold. Hayden slid under the ropes, resulting in the referee forcing Tapp to the opposite side of the ring. Tapp was reluctant but adhered to the official’s directions.]

 

[Hayden shooed the referee to the center of the ring and, as he used the top turnbuckle to stand from his knees, the referee waved the match to continue.]

 

[Tapp charged, Hayden swung his favored left arm, drew it back in pain allowing Tapp to duck around behind. From the ropes, Tapp buckled Hayden’s left knee with a chop block. A second shining wizard took Hayden from his knee and put him flat on his back. Tapp jerked Hayden’s left foot up and tucked his head under Hayden’s knee, stretch-muffler applied in the center of the ring. And, Tapp was stomping down on Hayden’s left arm, shoulder blade, and chest.]

 

[While stomping, Tapp stumbled, but he didn’t let go; instead, now he was trying to wrap his legs around Hayden, kicking with his heel to find the opening. Hayden was soon grapevined and Tapp was destroying his knee and ankle. Yet, he refused to give up.]

 

[The referee asked, Hayden refused to submit, pulling his left arm free.]

 

[The referee watched, Hayden refused to tap, struggling, reaching, and then lugging his and Tapp’s combined weight with his wrenched arm.]

 

“LETS GO!”

 

[Everyone was on their feet.]

 

“HAY-DEN!”

 

[And then Hayden grabbed the bottom rope, except Tapp wasn’t letting off so the referee started his standard count.]

 

... One!

 

... Two!

 

[The referee was getting disgruntled, shouting, “You gotta let him go!” Letting Hayden loose seemed near as hard keeping the hold locked on, Tapp shook his head emphatically, no!]

 

… Three!

 

[The official continued his count. He shouts at Tapp once again, “I don’t wanna disqualify you!”]

 

… Four!

 

[So long as he broke at four, he hadn’t broken any rules, Tapp immediately released and put his hands up allowing the referee to break the hold -clean.]

 

[Hayden rolled under the ropes and dropped to the outside, falling to the barrier to remain upright.]

 

“THIS IS!”

 

[Inside the ring, the younger competitor stood in the center, his arms out to each side, eyes closed, and head slightly tilted to back and to the left. He bathed in their reaction. Not that they liked Tapp, but look at the opening match they are getting. Only on Battleground Network -subscribe today.]

 

“AWE-SOME!”

 

[Not one to spring, fly or dive, Tapp stayed put, tuning in to a certain chant, tagged on just after awesome, from a smaller portion of the crowd in the front row.]

 

“FUCK-YOU-TAPP!”

 

[Regardless of how anyone felt, there Tapp stood in the ring while Hayden put his gears back in order on the outside.]

 

[Eventually, Hayden was on the apron and Tapp was daring him, “You want more?” Tapp attacked as Hayden ducked through the ropes; stiff, precise shots to the left shoulder, arm, and side of the neck, but Hayden was able to shove Tapp backward, into the center of the ring. Using the ropes for momentum, Hayden swung out with his right arm, mowing Tapp down with a lariat. From the far side, as Tapp was turned inside out and stood back up with one motion, Hayden clotheslined him back down again.]

 

[Tapp was attempting to get up and Hayden grabbed him by the hair and back of the neck to help him along. Hayden set Tapp up for a vertical suplex and lifted, but Tapp landed on his feet behind Hayden. They bridged awkwardly for a moment before Tapp dropped to a seated position, improvising a reversal with an inverted neckbreaker. Tapp hooked the leg and rolled all of his weight atop Hayden’s chest for the cover.]

 

... One!

 

... Two!

 

... Thr — No! 

 

[Hayden rolled his right shoulder from the mat at the last second! Tapp stood on his knees, arms up in question, he bad-mouthed the referee, but it was just a two. Tapp jerked Hayden up by the head and ducked around behind him. Tapp locked on a full nelson, but Hayden stumbled forward into the corner. Eventually, the referee had to break the hold, but Tapp broke clean long enough to grab Hayden by the head and, with a full-360 pivot, hurled Hayden between the turnbuckles. Hayden’s left shoulder slammed against the steel ring post. Tapp jerked Hayden out of the buckles and smashed his face into the top turnbuckle three times. Then, Tapp hoisted Hayden up to sit atop the corner facing the crowd.]

 

[Tapp bashed his head into the lower of Hayden’s spine and then climbed to the second turnbuckle, belly-to-back with Hayden. Tapp got a few more headbutts to Hayden’s left shoulder. Hayden was firing back, wild right elbows, three connected, the last one dazing Tapp long enough to knock him from his perch. Tapp stumbled backward but didn’t fall. Hayden used the time and separation to turn himself around atop the corner.]

 

[As Tapp closed in, Hayden hopped up and dove from the top with a blockbuster.]

 

[Both men down without any sort of movement. Eventually the official in charge begins a standing ten count to try and keep the action alive.]

 

... One!

 

[Tapp rolled prone near the center of the ring.] 

 

... Two!

 

[Hayden remained on his back, three-quarters across the ring from where he leapt.]

 

… Three!

 

[Tapp pulled his knees and elbows under him.]

 

… Four!

 

[Showing signs of life, Hayden started tapping the heel of his boot against the mat.]

 

... Five!

 

[The crowd was cheering, chanting and clapping, on one and three!]

 

... Six!

 

[Tapp was already on his knees when Hayden rolled to the right and up to his.]

 

... Seven!

 

[Tapp broke the count, stumbling upward and then to his right, hooking the top rope under his arm for support. Hayden used the ropes to get up as well, but he had his back to Tapp. Both were feeding off the reaction from the crowd, but Tapp was first to attack.]

 

[From behind, again, Tapp went for the full-nelson. Agonizing seconds became a minute and more as Tapp pulled and tugged, moving Hayden to the center of the ring.]

 

[Far from the ropes, with the crowd chanting his name, Hayden interlocked his own hands and then adjusted his hip to the left. Hayden gingerly moved his right foot around and behind Tapp’s legs. As soon as Tapp lost pressure on the hold, Hayden reached around with his right arm and lifted Tapp for a sidewalk slam down to the mat. Hayden grabbed both legs and bridged back for leverage on the pin.]

 

... One!

 

... Two!

 

... Thr — No! Tapp kicked loose before the referee’s hand hit the mat.

 

[The crowd was on fire and Hayden, though he was hobbling on his left step and his left arm just dangled useless, was up. Pumping his right fist in the air, he encourages Boardwalk Hall to chant in cadence. Hayden lifted Tapp from the mat, Tapp buried an elbow into Hayden’s guts. Hayden fired back and then Tapp until both men were landing a fury of lefts and rights. Hayden stung Tapp with a jab, followed up with a right cross, but missed with the hook. As Hayden turned and it looked like Tapp was going to cinch in another full nelson, Hayden popped him with a spinning backfist -THE HAND OF GOD.]

 

[Tapp’s eyes rolled back and he dropped like a sack of potatoes, as Saul would have called it.]

 

[Tapp wasn’t out, though; so, instead of going for a pin, Hayden clamped on the Limitless Lock.]

 

[Tapp struggled, fought, and even argued, but couldn’t wriggle free, Hayden had his version of the crossface chicken wing cinched in deep.]

 

[Tapp tried moving toward the rope, but his attempt was futile as he only spun the entire move in a circle for all the fans to clearly see his agony.]

 

[With no escape and the pain setting in, Tapp absolutely refused to tap-out.]

 

[Eventually, the squirming and screaming, “NO!” stopped and Tapp went limp.]

 

… One! 

 

[The referee lifted Tapp’s free hand and arm then dropped it to the canvas.]

 

... Two!

 

... Three! 

 

[DING! DING! DING!]

 

[Hayden released the hold with the sounding of the bell and rolled to a seated position near the far ropes. Tapp remained face down in the center of the ring as the announcer declared the winner.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

Here is your winner, Michael Hayden!

[Backstage, Moxie James is perched in the stairwell, tucked away, head down. The hood of her black sweatshirt is pulled low on her forehead and her fingers smooth circles into her temples as if she’s trying to get rid of a headache. She’s already dressed in her ring gear, that over-sized hoodie covering it all up.]

 

[The moment she becomes aware of the cameras she sighs, low and long and ever suffering.]

 

MOXIE JAMES
Can we please… just not do this right now? It’s not a good time, honestly I… 

 

[She hesitates, her eyes squeezing a little tighter as though she remembers where and who she is. The fans. The fans. They’re why she does this right? So she owes them this interaction, televised and packaged for consumption. She brings her head up, blonde curls bouncing and gray eyes a little too bright. She smiles brightly but it doesn’t reach her eyes.] 

 

MOXIE JAMES

Sorry… I’m good. Headache. Anyway… what can I…? 

 

[Something on her left drew her attention and she stared at whatever it was slack faced for just a few seconds too long before she remembered to smile and turn her attention back to the camera in her face.] 

 

MOXIE JAMES

Right. Probably should talk about this match. And Kuntz. How his entire personality feels built around a 90s MTV cartoon or whatever. But I’ll be honest. I’ve never gotten the point of this. 

 

[It seems like she’s trying hard not to look to her left. But her eyes are bright and clear as she focuses on the camera, maybe a little too hard.]

 

MOXIE JAMES

I’ve never understood the point of trash talk. Why would words fuck with someone’s head enough to affect the way they fight? Why say someone is a piece of shit wrestler because then what’s the point of beating them? If anyone could do that? I don’t know why that’s such a weird time honored tradition in this business. 

 

[Her attention was drawn to the left again and she winced.]

 

MOXIE JAMES

I’m so sorry… there’s a…

 

[She gestures vaguely.]

 

MOXIE JAMES

There’s a glare from…that… 

 

[She shook her head, made her expression look regretful as she backed away.]

 

MOXIE JAMES

I’m sorry. I have to… 

 

[She turned on her heel and barely held back that bone deep urge to run. She walked away as the camera pulled back. Nothing had been on her left except a mirror.]

MIKE DEMPSEY

The following battle is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first...

YOU LET ME VIOLATE YOU

YOU LET ME DESECRATE YOU

YOU LET ME PENETRATE YOU

YOU LET ME COMPLICATE YOU

[Jacob Kuntz skulked out onto the stage, half-aware of the crowd as he wandered down the ramp. Wandered, because his pace didn’t remotely match the energy of his entrance song. Every so often, he’d throw someone in the crowd a grungy smile. It was impossible to know who because you couldn’t see his eyes from below that hair and that hoodie.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… standing 6’3” and weighing in at 235 pounds...

 

[Instead of stopping at the ring, Kuntz wanders casually over to the announce table instead and plants himself in AQ’s lap, because he is SO READY to win this lap dance competition. When AQ inevitably pushes him off, Kuntz stumbles back onto the announce table. He begins to writhe to his own entrance theme, suggestively licking his lips at AQ. His music stops abruptly and the lights come back up making the whole scene a little weirder but Kuntz doubles down, rubbing his own nipples while making direct intense eye contact with anyone dumb enough to look.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… from The Corn, presenting Jacob Kuntz!

 

[He doesn’t notice when the lights go back down again and...]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

And his opponent...

BITE MY TONGUE, BIDE MY TIME

WEARING A WARNING SIGN 

WAIT 'TILL THE WORLD IS MINE

[The lights dim down as purple and blue lights sweep the crowd and wash over the ring. As "You Should See Me in a Crown" by Billie Eilish begins filtering through the sound system, Moxie James steps out onto the stage. She kept her hands in her pockets, the hood of her jacket pulled up over her bouncy blonde curls.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… standing 5’7” and weighing in at 140 pounds...

 

[She hesitated halfway down the ramp, her attention drawn down to the reflective metal surface she walked on. It was almost like a brief glitch in the system. She froze. She looked down. She went blank. Barely perceptible.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… from Los Angeles, California, representing the 36th Street Gym, presenting Moxie James!

 

[Then, Moxie let her lips curve up into a smirk as finished making her way down to the ring. Finding Kuntz with sharp blue eyes she fixed him with an unreadable look before grabbing the second rope and using it to springboard herself up onto the apron before she hooked her arms over the top rope and somersaulted herself over it.]

 

[On the other side of the ring, Kuntz was climbing in after his foray with AQ on the announce table. Instead of waiting for him to climb into the ring, Mox bounces off of the ropes into a flat out run across the ring, diving through the middle rope as the bell rings and driving her shoulder into Kuntz’s ribs. Both of them crash to the floor outside of the ring, rolling away from each other.]

 

[DING!]

 

[Moxie is back on her feet first and she viciously kicks Kuntz in the ribs, seizing on that weakness as she tangles a hand in his hair and tries to use it to drag him to his feet but he goes dead weight and she can’t lift him. She glares down at him and he sticks his tongue out at her.]

 

[With an infuriated growl, she reaches down again and he spits in her face. Stumbling back, Moxie snarls as she strips off the hoodie she’d worn down to the ring and had forgotten was still on and used it to scrub at her face. While she’s distracted Kuntz climbs to his feet, slides under the bottom rope and back into the ring.]

 

[Moxie hesitated for a moment but had no choice but to slide back into the ring as the referee started to make his count. Kuntz capitalized, driving big boots down into Moxie’s ribs before he pulled her up by the hair and leveled her again with a big right hand to the face. Dragging her to her feet again, he whipped her towards the ropes but Mox rebounded with a standing hurricanrana that brought Kuntz down to the canvas.]

 

[Kuntz used the turnbuckle to drag himself to his feet but as soon as he turned he was met with Moxie’s shoulder in his gut again, driving him into the turnbuckle. As he stumbled back out of the turnbuckle, Mox met him with a spinning heel kick and capitalized with a sunset flip powerbomb into a roll up pin.]

 

… One!

 

… Kick out!

 

[Moxie climbed to her feet and ducked outside onto the apron and made for the turnbuckle but Kuntz met her there with right hands to the face before he leaned in and bit her nose.]

 

[Mox’s face said everything as she jerked back and then drove her shoulder through the middle ropes and into his gut again, forcing him to curl over himself. Once he did she flipped herself over his back and landed on the other side of him. She comes back to — nothing. Kuntz grabs her by the hair and slings her face first into the turnbuckle.]

 

[Moxie doubled over in pain and he capitalized, rolling her up into a pin.]

 

… One!

 

… Two!

 

… Kick out!

 

[Mox kicked out on two as she kicked herself away from Kuntz, trying to roll her feet as fast as she could but he was faster. As she crawled for the turnbuckle, he reached down and dug a finger into either side of her mouth in a double fish hook, wrenching her head back like he was trying to peel her skeleton out of her via her mouth.]


[Moxie jerked and thrashed, trying to get away from him as she howled at the pain and indignity of it all. Kuntz used his grip on her head to slam her back down against the canvas and go for another pin.]

 

… One!

 

… Two!

 

… Thr — Kick out!

 

[Moxie kicked out before the three count much to Kuntzy’s frustration. He manhandled her back to her feet, eyes wild with frustration and dropped her with a neckbreaker. Another pin…]

 

… One!

 

… Two!

 

… Thr — Kick out!

 

[... and another kick out from Moxie. This time, Kuntz slammed her into the turnbuckle and when Moxie stumbled to her knees against the ropes he pinned her there with a knee to the throat. She slapped at him, wriggling until she freed herself but Kuntz wasn’t willing to give up the advantage that easily. He slung her into the opposite turnbuckle but when he followed her she met him with an elbow to the nose.]

 

[Giving herself some space to recover, Moxie met him with a rolling cross armbreaker and locked it in with no remorse. Torquing it as much as she could. When it becomes clear to Kuntz that he’s not going to be able to escape the move the normal way, he manages to turn his head enough to grab a mouthful of Moxie’s thigh. He bit down hard enough to draw blood and she finally released him as he gave her a bloody grin.]

 

[With a growl, she threw herself at him and it became less of a wrestling match and more of an all out brawl. She ground his face into the canvas, he hit her with an elbow and busted open her lip. They rolled around, kneeing and elbowing each other as they both fought for the upper hand and all skill and finesse went out the window. Kuntz managed to keep Moxie pinned to the mat as he fired off huge right handed punches to her face, her torso. Whatever it took to keep her down.]

 

[When she didn’t get back up, holding her face and rolling around on the canvas, he finally scaled a turnbuckle, crashing into her with Hep C and going for the pin.]

 

… One!

 

… Two!

 

… Three!

 

[Moxie kicked out but it was too late.]

 

[Barely a second too late.]

 

[DING! DING! DING!]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

Here is your winner, Jacob Kuntz!

 

[As “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails filled the arena, Moxie jerked to a sitting position, looking horrified and angry as Kuntz slipped out the ring and flashed the audience another bloody smile.]

[The world is small.]

[Cartier had made her way to her dressing room in Atlantic City quietly, not being welcomed by any of the familiar faces she saw along the way. Most turned their gazes away, or conveniently lifted cell phones to their ear when they saw her approach. She had expected it.]

[She walked her way there slowly, purposefully. A circuitous route taking her past as many figures from her past as she could. She wanted them to know she was there this time. Not like the brief appearance on Coup de Grace IV, which had been meant to be somewhat of a surprise. No, Cartier wanted to walk into Union Battleground differently than she had anywhere else. No longer some rookie that felt she needed to prove herself among the ‘best of the best’ as she’d once believed some of these people to be. No - now, she arrived with the intention of making the status quo angry to see her face.]

[It worked like a charm.]

 

“Why does she even have to be here?”

 

“I fucking hate that bitch…”

 

“Oh great, can’t wait for the race baiting to start!”

[None of the little whispers Cartier heard as she dragged her rolling luggage behind her was a shock to her. It brought a small smile to the corners of her mouth, in fact. She’d ruffled their feathers by doing nothing more than coming to work… what were they going to do once she actually got into the ring with them?]

[Someone Cartier didn’t recognize lowered their sunglasses to look at her, and their mouth began to move. Cartier simply raised the volume on her Beats headphones and walked past them without so much as a nod of her head. Finally, she arrived at the door with her name taped across it.]

[As expected, people had gone out of their way to add childish bits of graffiti to her door. “Go away” and “Where’s SILK’s dick?” scribbled in hurried script. Cartier laughed through closed lips - what more could you expect from a locker room full of children? A roster more dedicated to being online bullies than to creating a great product.]

CARTIER

“Yo, excuse me, you...”

[Cartier motioned over a nearby crew person, lowering the volume in her ears. The employee skipped over in that way that people do when they haven’t yet acquired union protections.]

CREWMAN

“Yes?”

CARTIER

“This shit. You seen who did it?”

CREWMAN

“I’ve only been here a half hour or so…”

CARTIER

“So no? You ain’t seen nobody near this door?”

CREWMAN

“No ma’am.”

CARTIER

“I ain’t no ‘ma’am’ so cut that shit. My mama’s a ‘ma’am’ I ain’t even 25 yet. You run along an’ tell your supervisor that I ain’t down wit’ vandalism, so they can tighten up they security around here or they can catch a lawsuit.”

CREWMAN

“Well, I…”

CARTIER

“I don’t remember ask’ you for a opinion on the matter, boy. I don’t need a investigation to know this kinda shit came from a certain group of assholes that think they run this sport, an’ Union Battleground in particular. Same folks that follow each other around from company to company so that they never need to grow or adapt. This kinda schoolyard bullshit is sadder than a fake Irish accent in 2021. You think I got her right before my match starts because of traffic or some shit? I’m here to work, to make my presence felt, an’ then to go the fuck home. I ain’t gonna be chillin’ in catering wit’ these clowns, or invited to no ‘after show parties’ or whatever. I clock in, kick ass, an’ clock out. I got enough time to change an’ warm up, then hit the ring, you feel me? I’mma be in the back of a Uber headed towards Brooklyn before the main event kicks off. Be textin’ Tapp askin’ if he won or not later, because I simply do not give a fuck enough to spend one extra second among these assholes than I absolutely got to spend. Which way you headed?”

CREWMAN

“I uh, I mean after I go to my supervisor like you told me, ma’am…”

CARTIER

“What the fuck I just said about that?”

CREWMAN

“Sorry, sorry… after that, I was going to head to the ringside area to make sure there were enough tables, stop signs, and kendo sticks under the ring. Eli Carlson told us it was really important to Perry…”

CARTIER

“Good. When you get out there, you make sure you pass along to the ring announcer an’ those two jackasses at the booth that they best put some respect on my name when I come out there. I seen the way they talk shit on everyone, especially Perry’s doughboy ass… as if that soft marshmallow bitch would ever set foot in a ring to back that shit up. You tell ‘em to open they eyes up an’ just watch me work. Keep they comments to theyselves and they pencils off my goddamn dressin’ room door. Oh, an’ tell Alessandro I said #QuagCup an’ #BBQThrowdown. He better count that shit, too.”

[Cartier cackles at her own joke, but she becomes serious again after a moment.]

CARTIER

“An’ if you see Tapp? You tell ‘im he better plan on doin’ a lot better than he did tonight when it’s my turn in there wit’ him.”

CREWMAN

“Wait, you don’t even know if he won…”

CARTIER

“Don’t matter if he did or not. I’mma work him harder than he ever been worked as soon as possible.Guaranteed NVR ain’t got him ready for anything I got.”

CREWMAN

“Okay. Yes M- yes Cartier. Got it.”

CARTIER

“Good boy. Now get the fuck on… just because you get paid by the hour don’t mean I do. I don’t got time to waste on you.”

CREWMAN

“Sorry. Sorry.”

[The crew person scurries off as Cartier opens up her door. As she walks in and turns her bag towards her, unzipping the front pouch, she pulls out a gold and black headdress, horizontal stripes across the hanging fabric and an open mouthed cobra hissing from the front headband.]

[Cartier places the garment on her head, turning to face a mirror over her dressing room desk.]

CARTIER

“Don’t you worry, mothers an’ sisters… we gonna make a impact regardless of what these motherfuckers want.”

[Then, she reaches behind her and slams the door shut.]

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MIKE DEMPSEY 

The following battle is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first...

FALL OF AN EMPIRE, 

AS MADE POPULAR BY ORGAN 67, 

BEGINS TO PLAY

[An organ provides the deep, bass undertones that rattle the empty chairs at ringside. The crowd on their feet in anticipation as the chase is on; an electric guitar screams the high notes, hurdling and rolling in the getaway. Several bars draw up the tension and the high notes trip, stumble and fall as do the lights in Boardwalk Hall.]

 

[Darkness.]

 

[Silence.]

 

[A brief moment of pitch-black silence before a bright beam focused solely on Schadenfreude and the music continued. He stood atop the ramp in the finest and most stylish suit, from a century ago, with each of his hairs perfectly in place. Even his thick, condescending eyebrows. His beard is styled like that of a Captain Fawcett model; pricked up with his brooding sneer. His face isn’t kind.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY 

… standing 5’11” and weighing in at 183 pounds...

 

[He throws both arms out to each side and the suit falls away to the stage. He is absolutely covered in tattoos, every bit of him. His wrists, hands, and knuckles are wrapped with black tape; he has simple black pads on his elbows and knees; black speedo trunks with a bloody, red “S” depicted on the buttocks; and his black boots are laced to mid-calf with black laces.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY 

… from Chichijima Island, presenting Schadenfreude!

 

[He has to unzip the cuff of the pant legs and, while knelt down, he retrieves his black case that rested at his feet. Free of the entrance garb, he kicks it back toward the curtain and then heads directly to the ramp.]

 

[He has zero interaction with the fans along the entrance, despite their attempts. At ringside, he goes straight to the steps and up to the apron where he wipes the soles of his boots -three times, each- before ducking in through the ropes.]

 

[The referee met him in the corner, demanding an explanation for the case. No sooner had Schadenfreude opened it, the official declared that it could not be at ringside.]

FALL OF AN EMPIRE

stopped playing.

[Flabbergasted, the referee held up the two small blades and then a kubaton; however, the case also contained pepper spray, two monkey balls, brass knuckles, and a sewing kit among other questionable contents that couldn’t be clearly seen. Schadenfreude agreed, reluctantly, demanding that the case be placed in the custody of his assistant, Laimee, at the merchandise table.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY 

And, his opponent...

 

[Boom, clap, boomdeboom clap clap. The drums kick in as the lights go out just before the guitar riff.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY 

… standing 6’3” and weighing in at 220 pounds...

 

[A moment later, the main stage lights up and the rest of the band kicks in. A post-apocalyptic anarchy “A” appears on the screen above the stage, it slowly shifts into the one and only “Vi” sign of Johnny Violence.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY 

… from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, presenting “The King of Anarchy” Johnny Violence!

  

[Johnny Violence stood in the bright spotlight below, his arms extended to each side, his palms open and out; he basked in the glow of his own essence. His hood was up, but his Aviators caught the lights from above as the camera panned around him anyway.]

OPEN UP, DRINK IT IN

DON’T ASK TOO MANY QUESTIONS

BECOME THE VESSEL FOR THE SHAME

THEY FEED YOU THROUGH SUGGESTION

[Brilliant bright lights strobed with the riffing guitar as a grin crept across Johnny’s face, he flashed his fang-like teeth before heading slowly down the ramp. At ringside, he fluidly moved from the floor to the apron with a hop, where he whipped back his hood from his head. He threw his left hand high in the air with a “Vi” sign for the crowd just as the chorus hit.] 

ALL THEY WANTED WAS VIOLENCE

TO PLANT THEIR SEEDS AND DIVIDE US

IF THEY WANT THE WORST THATS INSIDE US

WE’LL BRING ON THE VIOLENCE

THE VIOLENCE

[Johnny enters the ring between the ropes, and plays to the crowd who seem to be on his side for this contest. He begins removing his layers of clothing in his corner, but meanwhile, Schadenfreude begins digging in his boot and pulls out one of those monkey balls the referee discouraged. Just as Johnny turns back to face his opponent and remove his aviators, Schadenfreude zips the ball across the ring! Just like the infamous Randy Johnson pitch where a bird flies in the line of his pitch and meets its maker in an explosion of feathers, J-Vi eats the bean between the eyes, shattering his shades in the process. The referee rushes toward Schadenfreude with a stern warning, but inevitably steps back and calls for the bell.]

 

[DING!]

 

[The impact of the surprise attack causes Johnny to stumble on his heels and hang halfway over the middle rope. Blood instantly trickles out of J-Vi’s nose as Schadenfreude quickly climbs the nearest turnbuckle and crashes down with a knee to the back of the head, causing Johnny to rag doll outside of the ring and taking the brunt of Schadenfreude’s fall. The front row spectators are quick to get riled up with the action spilling out right in front of them.]

 

[With both men outside of the ring now, Schadenfreude grabs Violence by the head and rams him face-first into the barricade. The crowd reacts with cheers, but it quickly turns to jeers as Schadenfreude starts jawing at them. Schadenfreude directs his attention back to the action, but Johnny strikes with a “Turn The Other Way” super kick right to the jaw. Schadenfreude gets rocked back then hunkers over while Johnny begins dropping a combination of forearm and elbow strikes to the back of the head. Violence then grabs Schadenfreude by the arm and Irish whips him straight toward the steel steps but gets reversed and Johnny smashes into the steel structure, causing a thunderous boom that electrifies the crowd and disassembles the steps into two separate pieces.]

 

[Schadenfreude grins with his busted lip, seeing Johnny gripping his shoulder in pain. Schadenfreude grabs the top half of the steel steps before placing Johnny’s hand on the base of the bottom half of the steps. With Johnny still in a bit of a foggy daze, Schadenfreude begins to sandwich and smash J-Vi’s hand with the steel structure repeatedly. Each throw sends a piercing crash of metal through the sound waves, sending shivers down the spines of everyone in attendance. After a handful of strikes (pun completely intended), Schadenfreude tosses the top half of the steel steps inside the ring then cautiously makes his way to his grounded opponent and lifts him up to his feet.]

 

[Johnny catches Schadenfreude off guard and returns the favor. He grabs his head and starts smashing Schadenfreude’s face into the steps then finishes it off with a half nelson suplex! Johnny looks pumped up and rolls Schadenfreude back into the ring before digging under the ring. Johnny pulls out a couple of chairs and slides into the ring with them. He folds one out while keeping the other in his grasp, despite shaking off the pain still throbbing in his hand. Schadenfreude starts to stir to his knees and Johnny goes for the attack, hitting the ropes and firing back with a chair-assisted flying knee to Schadenfreude’s head. Johnny drops onto Schadenfreude and makes a quick cover.]

 

... One!

 

... Tw — Kick out!

 

[Johnny doesn’t allow Schadenfreude’s kick out to bother him, instead he springs back up to his feet and brings his opponent with him. Johnny grabs a handful of Schadenfreude’s locks and the two go on a ride and the destination is a one-handed bulldog onto the folded-out chair! The chair nearly collapses completely by the impact, and Schadenfreude reveals a gash between the eyes. While Schadenfreude lies on the canvas beginning to bleed, Johnny slides back out of the ring and again starts digging under the ring apron. After a few moments, The King of Anarchy pulls out a table and slides it into the ring. But he’s not done there, he pulls out another table and slides it into the ring. And for a third time, Johnny pulls out a table and sets this one up on the outside. Violence slides back into the ring and leans one table into the corner. Violence now goes to grab the other table, but Schadenfreude is now up on his feet, chair in hand, and he’s swinging for the fences! Schadenfreude lays out Johnny Violence with a monster chair shot! Violence stumbles and falls on the ropes to try and keep his footing, but Schadenfreude stalks behind him and pierces him with a chair-assisted backstabber! The busted chair crumbles into pieces and the crowd audibly wince in unison as Schadenfreude hooks the leg for a cover.]

 

... One!

 

... Two!

 

... Kick out!

 

[Schadenfreude argues with the referee but soon blows him off and goes back to work on Violence. Schadenfreude throws a few quick jabs to keep Violence dazed as the two stagger back up to their feet.  The two lock up, and Schadenfreude tries to Irish whip Violence across the ring, but Violence reverses it. Schadenfreude bounces off the ropes and on the return he uses his momentum to deliver a punishing Superman punch! Violence gets rocked to the canvas and fumbles between the ropes and onto the apron. Schadenfreude keeps the pressure on and picks Johnny up to his feet from over the ropes. Johnny hangs on from the apron as best as he can while Schadenfreude pummels him with stiff jabs. Then Schadenfreude shows off his agility by running the ropes and comes rushing back, spearing Violence through the middle rope and the two come crashing into the table on the outside! Shrapnel of wood explodes on impact as the crowd can’t help but react in astonishment!]

 

“HOLY SHIT!”

“HOLY SHIT!”

“HOLY SHIT!”

 

[The crowd grows louder as Schadenfreude slowly rises through the rubble. He struggles to pick Violence up but finally does and tosses him back into the ring. Schadenfreude follows suit and rolls on top of Violence for a cover.]

 

... One!

 

... Two!

 

... Th — Kick out!

 

[Schadenfreude’s frustration is growing noticeable at this point, as he stomps back up to his feet. Schadenfreude pulls Violence up with him and whips him into an open corner. Violence reverses the whip, sending Schadenfreude crashing into the turnbuckle. Johnny acts fast and rushes in, colliding with a splash. Schadenfreude bounces out from the corner, and Violence drops him with a running bulldog. Violence doesn’t stop here, and caps it off with a springboard moonsault off the middle rope! Violence hooks a leg and the referee slides in to make the cover.]

 

… One!

 

… Two!

 

… Thr — Kick out!

 

[Johnny pounds his fist onto the canvas in frustration, but continues to keep his focus. Out from the corner of his eye, he notices the table he slid in earlier. He heads over and sets it up, clearly looking to return the favor and send Schadenfreude through it. Johnny turns to pick up his opponent, but Schadenfreude monkey flips him into the turnbuckle. Johnny crashes into the corner and his foot gets caught and he hangs upside down in a Tree of Woe. Schadenfreude decides to climb that same turnbuckle and look for a high impact maneuver. Just as Schadenfreude gets perched up top, Johnny sits up and begins dropping lefts and rights. Schadenfreude tries to cover up and protect himself, but Johnny isn’t letting off the gas. Out of nowhere, Schadenfreude manages to snatch Johnny’s arm and cranks back for a Kimura!]

 

[Schadenfreude elevates the arm to near breaking point as Johnny seemingly has nowhere to go. In a desperation move, Johnny begins laying in knees to the midsection, slowly loosening Schadenfreude’s grip. Johnny’s continuous knees are leaving a massive welt to Schadenfreude’s side, and eventually he slips free! Violence thinks fast and drops a 12-to-6 elbow right between the eyes, and gets Schadenfreude hunkered over and hooks both arms. With one final adrenaline dump, Violence picks Schadenfreude up and the two come crashing down into the table with the Glory Fades! Through the explosion of the table, both men bounce off the canvas with incredible impact. Violence hooks the leg through the wreckage as the referee makes the count!]

 

... One!

 

... Two!

 

... Three!

 

[DING! DING! DING!]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY 

Here is your winner, “The King of Anarchy” Johnny Violence!

 

[Violence can just barely manage to sit upright, enough for the referee to grab his hand and raise it in the air in victory. The rowdy crowd cheer for Violence as he rolls out of the ring and with a satisfying grin, backpedals up the ramp while basking in the sight of his opponent lying motionless in the center of the ring.]

[Backstage! Resident interviewer Savannah Skye stands by with a microphone in her hand and the Union Battleground logo emblazoning on a screen on the wall.]

 

SAVANNAH SKYE

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my guest at this time...Emery Layton.

 

[And now, stepping into our view, the Enemy of the World herself. Stood up straight in a particularly loud military jacket with beads at the bottom of her locks of red hair. You can hear the boos emanating from the Atlantic City crowd. Em does indeed hear them, and turns. Listening. This is it. This is who she is now. She continues to stay listening, apparently not paying attention to Savannah in any way. And yet, she persists.]

 

SAVANNAH SKYE

Emery, tonight you face off against Bryan Williams in our co-main event for the War Horse Championship. Not only is it your first title match in over two years but also the first time you’ve ever challenged for the title and the first time you’ve ever faced Bryan. Considering all these things, how are you feeling going into this match tonight?

 

[Slowly, Emery turns back with a satisfied smile.]

 

EMERY LAYTON

At peace.

 

SAVANNAH SKYE

I’m gonna have to ask for you to elaborate.

 

EMERY LAYTON

Yeah, at peace. I’ve had a real peaceful day, Savannah. Woke up, went out for a walk, petted a dog I met in the street, said hello to the postman, all this while trying not to breathe in the stench in the air of the city of New Jersey. Been a right busy bee today, me.

 

SAVANNAH SKYE

It’s a State.

 

EMERY LAYTON

Man, everyone I say that to has been telling me the same thing and I ain’t sure why anyone would live here if they think it’s in such a state, know what I mean? Like I been to a lotta places that were a bit shit but come on, sort yourselves out. Anyway, yeah, I been taking it real easy cos tonight’s the night, innit? If you’re gonna die, spend it how you wanna spend it and all that. Tonight, Savannah, Bryan Williams is gonna kill me. That’s what they’re saying. Dunno if you heard that.

 

SAVANNAH SKYE

I’ve heard.

 

EMERY LAYTON

Yeah, and I’ll tell anyone with ears that it’s gonna happen, just like I was. It was one of the first things said to me when there was so much of a sniff of this match happening. “Bryan Williams is gonna kill me”. Like, straight up. No choice. No...what’s the word, ambidextrousness?

 

SAVANNAH SKYE

Ambiguity.

 

EMERY LAYTON

Gotcha, no ambiguity. It is GOING to happen. No ifs, no buts, ding-dong-the-bitch-is-dead after L!GHTS OUT. And I’m down with that, cos we all know Bryan Williams is gunning for the Unified Championship and one way or another, dude’s gonna have his way. This title’s just a stepping stone for him and you can’t fight fate. But, when the time comes, I expect him to do everything they say he can do and I hope this is our last ever conversation, Savannah, cos I’d rather die knowing the hype is real than live disappointed that he couldn’t back up what others insisted he will do. And if he can’t? Well. Guess he’s just gonna have to find another way to get what he wants, ain’t he?

 

SAVANNAH SKYE

Emery Layton, thank you.

 

EMERY LAYTON

Pleasure as always.

 

[She’s about to walk off, Emery, but then she remembers. Wait a second! She clicks her finger as she turns back around.]

 

EMERY LAYTON

Ooh! Actually, while you’re here, quick one - on the apparently very slim chance I’m still alive after this match, could you keep your diary free for the next show, Savannah? Just that I’d like to grab some chairs and have a proper sit-down. Just you and me, whether I got the War Horse Championship with me or not.

 

SAVANNAH SKYE

What are we gonna do?

 

[Emery blinks, her grin forms...]

 

EMERY LAYTON

Y’know what? I’ve given it a bit of thought, and I think I’m gonna make some people very, very angry.

 

[And finally, she turns and leaves.]

MIKE DEMPSEY

The following battle is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first…

I WAS GETTIN' SOME HEAD

GETTIN' GETTIN' SOME HEAD

[Cartier appears at the top of the ramp as her music plays, taking a moment to look from left to right before giving both sides of her posterior a good slap and running to the ring.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… standing 5’4” and weighing in at 125 pounds, from Brooklyn, New York, presenting Cartier!

 

[As she nears the ring she discards her outerwear and slides in under the bottom rope, popping up in the center of the ring to give the crowd a 360 spin as she stands and hypes herself up.]

YOU KNOW YOU NIGGAS WANT A BITCH LIKE ME

APPLE BOTTOM WITH THE WIFE BEATER, ROCKIN' NIKES

ALL THE NIGGAS IN THE HOOD WANNA CALL HER WIFEY

IF YOU GOT A PRETTY DOLLA THEN I PROB'LY MIGHT BE

[Walking to her corner, Cartier then removes her hoop earrings and various other pieces of jewelry, knowing full well you don't leave your gold on when it's time to fight.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

And her opponent…

 

[Darkness falls on the arena because this is how the best wrestling entrances start. The Teemba edit of Solid Space’s “A Darkness In My Soul” begins to play much to the bemusement of the crowd.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… standing 5’7” and weighing in at 135 pounds…

 

[The song plays for a bit, building up through the somewhat extended intro before the top of the ramp is swept with light revealing Anna Daniels! Hurray!]

INTO THE WILD

THOUGHTS OF AN

UNEARTHLY CHILD

PLANTS AND ANIMALS

[Anna, to her credit, stands proudly amongst the otherwise dark arena and soaks in the crowd’s reaction, whatever it may be, before giving a side eye to the ring.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… from Fascination Street, presenting “The Muse” Anna Daniels!

 

[Making her way down the ramp, she walks as if she’s in a trance while occasionally doing one theatrical gesture or another. In fact, she takes her sweet ass time in doing so because the (Time) Lord doesn’t have to rush for you plebs. You wait for the (Time) Lord. She wipes her feet on the apron oh-so-nicely...before exploding between the ropes and in the ring like an absolute loon.]

 

[Both women finally get settled into their corners, staring daggers at one another. The referee in charge checks off with each wrestler one last time then calls for the bell.]

 

[DING!]

 

[Cartier immediately gets in Anna’s face and talks some trash. Daniels looks off to the side then up like she is being distracted by someone talking to her. She lifts her hand up in the air to reach for something only she can see and brings it back down onto Cartier’s face. Cartier fires back and they trade off. After the barrage of punches and elbows, they trade two big headbutts and have to back off for a moment. They recover and glare at each other from across the ring. They run back and Cartier goes for a Hip Attack which dodges and follows Cartier with a Prawn Hold for a pin.]

 

… One!

 

… Kick out!

 

[Cartier kicks out quickly at this surprise. She scrambles towards Anna to lock in the STF. Anna struggles for just a moment then moves Cartier’s arms off her head and flattens her to the mat then gets up and stomps Cartier down. Cartier rolls out of the ring with all the kicks and Anna dives out onto her with a Spaceman Plancha.]

 

[They fight all around the ring and Cartier has Anna backing up after bouncing her against the edge of the ring. She hits a Jumping Back Elbow on Anna forcing her head to hit the post. Anna still has the awareness to dodge another Hip Attack, but Cartier jumps on the guardrail to come back with a Meteora. Cartier throws Daniels inside to go for the pin.

 

… One!

 

… Two!

 

… Kick out!

 

[Cartier takes her time now to dismantle the dazed timelord. She shows off her assets while hitting a Splits Leg Drop and holding it down on Anna’s neck. Anna tries to come back by kicking Cartier in the legs and chest a whole lot. Cartier answers with a Swinging Neckbreaker near the corner and locking in a Figure Four with Daniels’ legs wrapped around the corner post.]

 

[With her legs weakened Anna has more trouble getting back into the match. Cartier looks for the end by hitting Eat Defeat then holding Anna up by the arm and going for the Sizzurp Kick. Anna moves out of the way and gets a double underhook behind Cartier’s back. She hits one Tiger Suplex, then another, then an Australian suplex for the pin to land the Threeish Doctors.] 

 

… One!

 

… Two!

 

… Thr — Kick out!

 

[This almost works but Cartier kicks out at the very last moment. This evens the odds but only by a little as they both get up and Cartier finally lands her Hip Attack. She waits for Anna to get back up to make her Eat This Ass, but as Cartier’s ample posterior flies at Daniels, she is able to drop down and raise her feet to lift Cartier up and over the ropes. She miraculously holds onto the ropes and lands on the apron. They are both surprised until Anna jumps on the ropes and hops onto Cartier to hit her with a Reverse Frankensteiner to the outside and the crowd goes wild!]

 

“THIS IS AWESOME!”

“THIS IS AWESOME!”

“THIS IS AWESOME!”

 

[Anna throws Cartier back in to end the match, but Cartier rolls right back out of the ring. Anna follows but Cartier comes back in. When Anna comes back in, Cartier has gotten some air and hits her with a Double Fist as she is draped on the ropes. She goes to Ca$h You Out Cold as Anna is caught in the ropes but Anna fights her way out and knocks Carter away. She stumbles into the ring but gets her bearings to hit the Boomerfly Kick. The very tough Cartier doesn’t go down and grabs Anna’s arm for the Eat Defeat, but Anna counters with a Finger Snap. She runs to the ropes and hits a running knee strike and as Cartier bounces off the ropes, Anna hits her Interrobang, kicking Cartier in the back of the head. Cartier falls and Anna covers for the pin!]

 

… One!

 

… Two!

 

… Three!

 

[DING! DING! DING!]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

Here is your winner, “The Muse” Anna Daniels!

[Miles doesn’t have a set location or a locker room assigned to him specifically. He simply occupies a space and it’s understood that it belongs to him. From avoided strips of hallways to bathrooms and darkened corners of venues, so it takes Bryan Williams a while to find him.]

 

[Bryan Williams. Mentor to the young champion, and a looming challenge in the distance. Only if Miles is able to win his match tonight, a match that had been tearing him apart and leaving him secluded, if the Dog guarding a storage closet is a show for anything.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

Excuse me.

 

[He speaks to the Dog directly, who respects him well enough and is greatly annoyed by Miles enough to leave her post, strutting away as Bryan opens the closet door, to find Miles sitting inside against a tight corner, his limbs bent strangely to fit in the slouch. He doesn’t even look at Bryan.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

What are you doing?

 

[There’s no answer, the tired eyes of the younger champion focused and locked on nothing. Dark circles around his eyes, from a lack of sleep and terrible choices. Bryan frowns. Miles frowns.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

Not gonna talk to me?

 

[Again, there is no answer from Miles. To emphasize his refusal to communicate, the need to stay in his thoughts, he begins to chew at his thumb. Bryan sighs, rolling his shoulders back to relieve the tension already building up in his body.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

That’s okay, you don’t need to speak anyway. You already know why I’m here.

 

[Held behind his back is the War Horse championship, which Bryan brings into view.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

Regardless of the outcome tonight, and regardless of how I think it will go, I’m going to be calling my shot at War of the Worlds.

 

[Bryan waits for a response, but gets none. But Miles eyes are on him for a second, a moment, his gaze upon the championship that was once his own before looking away. Bryan smiles at any sort of reaction.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

You’re wondering, well gee what about Emery?

 

[Bryan stares at Miles.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

What about her?

 

[Still, Miles says nothing, not accepting the easy bait to absolutely voice his worst wishes for Bryan. Bryan sighs, throwing his championship over his shoulder as he leans against the frame of the closet.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

Honestly thought that would work. I guess you must really be deep in there. Just how prepared are you for this, Miles? 

 

[Miles rolls his eyes, finally meeting Bryan’s as the older man speaks, annoyed and getting visibly angrier with each word from the older man. Bryan sees this, he powers through anyway.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

Are you willing to die? Are you willing to give up everything you have just to make sure Danny doesn’t get his? Because I’ve seen how far you can go, how far you can push things. I saw what you did to Indi, to Ana … to Karen. So why are you moping now? Don’t feel like you have the same control over Danny because he’s a man?

 

[The angry expression that was growing on Miles’ face falls into something that resembles horror as he looks up to the older man. He twists and nearly sobs out.]

 

MILES LUCKY

I don’t feel any control over him because I can’t control him.

 

[Everything would be a lot easier if he could, but that doesn't need to be said. He can’t say it. Beyan knows it anyway. He steps away from the closet, watching as the limbs of the younger man unravel, his hands clutching shelves in a cringing bend to lift him from the tucked corner.]

 

MILES LUCKY

I’m not moping, I’m trying to relax. I’m trying to relax. I’m just trying to relax and you come seeking me out to, what? Make sure I’m okay? Make sure Miles actually gets out there? Make sure Miles has a fire under his ass for a match that has had him burning from the inside out since it was announced? Is that what you’re trying to do? 

 

[Be a good mentor? Bryan doesn’t answer him. Miles nods. His breath catches in his chest and he pulls at his jacket just for the motion of it, just to keep him from hyperventilating as he leans against the shelves. Miles chuckles miserably, shaking his head, tearing brimming as he looks off.]

 

MILES LUCKY

You’ve never had to destroy something you loved, because you don’t know what love is. You don’t have any real feelings. You can’t possibly imagine how it feels to know that, I don’t know. 

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

It’s over?

 

MILES LUCKY

What?

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

You’re feeling down, because you know this is it. And this is it, because you’re going to be the one to do it. And it makes you feel worse. 

 

[Miles is staring at Bryan, a bit surprised before he sniffles and wipes at the tears. Bryan scrutinizes harshly with a studying gaze that the younger man knew all too well.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

You called for it and he accepted, Miles. You both agreed. So, are you ready? Really ready? Is this what you want? Are you going to get him out of Union, or are you going to walk that yourself? 

 

[A loud, frustrated and brutal yell rips through Miles and each deep breath just kickstarts it. He’s leaned over, as if he were vomiting, bleeding from his gut. Bryan doesn’t flinch, he doesn’t jump. He seems almost relieved, familiar with the process as Miles’ mentor, whenever he couldn’t understand a technique, pull off a move, beat a time, beat a number, beat himself.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

Are you done?

 

MILES LUCKY

I’m done.

 

[His voice comes out scratchy, but he straightens out, rubs at his face and lets out a huff, his features reddened from the spiral. But that desperate look in his eyes is gone. He steps out into the hall, all sniffles.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

I’m proud of you for coming out of the closet.

 

MILES LUCKY

Very funny. Which way did the Dog go.

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

That way. 

 

MILES LUCKY

Where are you going?

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

My match.

 

[Bryan is already walking in the opposite direction as Miles watches him and it’s like this sometimes. Where Bryan wants things to pan out a certain way, where he has these expectations he knows he put on you, and he comes around to check it and mend it. Once again, for the millionth time, he centers Miles in his own chaos and compacts it for the young man to use.]

 

MILES LUCKY

Bryan! Bryan. I won’t let you down.

 

[Not a stutter and no hesitation behind his words, it’s the first time Miles had ever said anything like that to Bryan. Bryan looks back at the young man and something strikes in him to smile at Miles before turning to continue his walk.]

 

BRYAN WILLIAMS

I’ll see you on the other side, Miles. 

Catch all of the latest news and highlights for Union Grand Prix on Twitter

@Union_GP

Zack Fantana sits impatiently with his hands folded atop the color-coded three-ring binder sitting on the table in front of him. It’s a rare moment where Zack finds himself half-presentable, his hair slicked back neatly and his pressed shirt tucked into his pleated slacks.

 

And American Tommy, well…

 

Zack groggily allows the second hand to reach the 12 on his watch.

 

Tommy is 50 minutes late.

 

“I’m sure he’ll be here any moment,” Zack advises his legal counsel, seated directly to his left. The lawyer nods and takes a sip of his coffee, while Zack resumes staring into space, cursing Tommy under his breath as they roll toward another billing hour.

 

Because, after all, it was American Tommy who’d organized the meeting. And it was Tommy who’d insisted that they meet at a completely neutral location, the Hooters on Wells Street in downtown Chicago, or the “Original Hooters” as Tommy kept referring to it as during their initial email correspondence. Zack hadn’t quite appreciated the historical significance until he was seated in the corner booth, vainly attempting to find a clean spot on the table for his three-ring binder.

 

Out of the blue, the sound of plates smashing to the floor and yelling are heard near the entrance of Hooters.  Zack turns and looks behind him and of course, it’s Tommy.  

 

Tommy looks down at the floor, which looks like it hasn’t been cleaned since they opened, and sees somebody’s order of wings and fries were thrown about on it. “Why are you throwing people’s food on the floor?” Tommy says as he looks at the waitress in bewilderment.

 

He bends down before the waitress can say anything and grabs a wing off the floor and eats it, chewing it slowly letting the juices and flavors marinate in his mouth.  “Not bad,” he says as he nods in approval.  He reaches up and grabs an unbroken plate from the tray of the waitress and proceeds to put the wings from the floor on it.

 

“Bring me some ranch?” Tommy says as he stands.  He scans the seating area when he locks eyes with Zack, “and bring it over to that table right there will ya?”  He says as he points at Zack and his lawyer and proceeds to walk over.  He sits down and smiles at Zack, studying him.  Opposites sit across each other as Zack is looking sharp and Tommy is wearing hot pink pajama pants paired with a Michael Jordan Space Jam shirt because FUCK Lebron James.  He’s got Yeezys on, but of course, they are the trash pair that look somewhat like crocs.

 

“How are you doing, Zack?” he says as he rustles his already disheveled head of hair some more before reaching down to grab a wing off his plate and takes a bite.

 

“Want a wing?” Tommy says with a mouthful of food, maneuvering the plate a bit with his right hand so it’s within Zack’s reaching distance.

 

Zack recoils at the thought, pulling his binder out of the splash zone. 

 

“You must be Tommy,” Zack’s uncredited lawyer rises out of his chair and extends his hand for a handshake, which Tommy meets without even wiping his hands. Zack pleas for the waitress to bring Tommy a wet nap before they conduct business.

 

“Did you bring your numbers?” Zack asks, guarding his binder in his arms.

 

Tommy nods his head and pulls out a single piece of paper and before the waitress can hand him any wet wipes he uses that piece of paper to wipe his mouth on before slamming it down in front of Zack.

 

“Boom,” he says loudly as Zack just looks on and shakes his head.  

 

Tommy is feeling parched and nods at Zack and then his water.  Zack is too occupied looking at Tommy’s piece of paper so Tommy takes that as approval and grabs Zack’s water and takes a drink.

 

Confident that he won’t understand any of the legalese, Zack hands the paper directly over to his lawyer.

 

The lawyer affixes his glasses and takes a good hard look for himself. “All this says is ‘emotional distress - $1700’. And it’s not even spelled correctly.”

 

“You’ve got to be fucking--”, Zack grabs the ‘document’ from the lawyer’s grasp before even finishing his thought and looks it over for himself. He opens his binder open, dropping a stack of quotes for vehicle repair and insurance paperwork on the table. “We had an agreement, Tommy. I got three different quotes. I spent seven hours on the phone with a claims adjuster, Tommy.”

 

“What?” Tommy says as he reaches over and snatches his piece of paper from Zack.  “Is it not enough?”

 

“It’s a line item bill with one fucking item on it,” Zack says, slamming the table. He pauses in an attempt to regain his composure. He slowly begins to pack up all the photographs and documents away into his binder by color. 

 

Tommy reaches in his pajama pant’s pocket and pulls out a purple crayon and licks it before putting it to paper.  He begins writing as Zack starts to talk.

 

“Look, I’m going to see if I can get this covered as an act of God, and then maybe I can help you out a little bit.”

 

“Nobody wants your light-up jacket, Zack,” says Tommy dismissively as he hands the piece of paper back to Zack.

 

“You still don’t get how this works,” Zack says, handing the paper off to his lawyer again.

 

“He’s added his uber fare here, the wings that I saw him collect off the floor, and Harry Styles tickets.”

 

Zack attempts to make a dramatic exit but he’s blocked in the booth by the lawyer. “Scooch over, would you?”

 

“Are we done here?” the lawyer checks the time before allowing Zack to escape. “I must remind you that we have entered the second hour of billing.”

 

Zack stops in his tracks and takes a deep breath before turning to Tommy. “So I’ve been offered this booking…”

MIKE DEMPSEY

The following battle is scheduled for one fall and is for the Union Battleground War Horse Championship! Introducing first, the challenger…

IT DOESN'T HURT ME,

DO YOU WANNA FEEL HOW IT FEELS?

["Running Up That Hill" by Avec Sans hits the PA system, with nothing but lots of smoke and dark purple-y/pinkish lighting on the entrance stage to accompany it, like some sort of 80s nightclub. Through the thick smoke, we see her dancing silhouette.] 

MIKE DEMPSEY
… standing 5’6” and weighing in at 135 pounds...

 

[In a black and gold military jacket and a dirty old beanie hat, "The Enemy of the World" Emery Layton sashay's into the light. She's nodding her head to the beat of the music, holding her arms out as she struts down the ramp and swaying her head to the beat of her entrance theme. The fans are mixed at best but Em continues, fully embracing her own corruption.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… from Anywhere and Everywhere, she is the former Union Battleground Champion, Trench War Champion, and King Cobra Champion, presenting “The Enemy of the World” Emery Layton!

 

[Once she reaches the bottom of the ramp, she pulls her beanie off and thrusts it into her pocket as she skates up the steel steps and climbs into the ring, taking her time. Once she's in there, she runs to the rope right behind her bouncing off it as she drops to her knees and skids forwards, as all the lights drop except a single spotlight on her and the lights from cell phone cameras as her upper body falls backwards. After a few moments of just simply listening to the response, she nips up and moves off to her corner, removing her jacket and handing it off to someone on the outside.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

And her opponent…. 

GINGER, THIS IS SARAH.

PICK UP IF YOU'RE THERE.

I'M AT THIS PLACE ON PICO BOULEVARD CALLED TECH NOIR...

[The introduction of the song is sudden, we hear an ominous tone that follows the Terminator line. The keys are dragged out, lingering in the air as the song gets to a slow start. Seconds pass, as a backing track is finally introduced along with the lengthy notes. Eventually, after a minute, the song really kicks into gear.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… standing 6’2” and weighing in at 220 pounds...

 

[Neon strobe lights flash along with the beat, a shadowy figure keeps in the darkness. Slowly, we see Bryan Williams methodically walk out from the back. He's dressed for a fight, his jacket covering his torso and his baseball bat in hand. It rests comfortably on his shoulder as it keeps its dangerous message. The chicken mask on his head stays contrasted with the neon lights and the darkness. Bryan keeps his head low, as the song continues to play along. The techno beat ramps up more and more, as the lights around him shimmer and dance.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… from San Antonio, Texas... 

 

[The song continues to play, as Bryan stands on the top of the ramp. With his head down, Bryan removes the War Horse Championship from around his waist as he holds it up high for the crowd to see. His head snaps up, Bryan puts the War Horse Championship on his other shoulder, as he begins to walk down towards the ring.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… he is the reigning, defending, undisputed Union Battleground War Horse Champion, presenting Bryan Williams!

 

[Williams props his bat up against the ring steps, then climbs the steps to glide through the ropes. This crowd stands behind this guy firmly. Standing on the second rope, Bryan again holds the War Horse Championship up high for the audience to see.]

 

[The referee comes in to hold the title up into the air. The camera pans around to show Layton and Williams glare at one another from separate corners. The crowd’s emotions swell while the “big fight feel” engulfs this entire building. The ref calls for the bell!] 

 

[DING!]

 

[Bryan makes a mad dash for Layton, who drops to the mat flat! She then quickly rolls out of the ring to avoid Williams completely.] 

 

[Layton walks around the side of the ring with a grin across her face. This further enrages Williams, who hits the ropes to build up momentum. Bryan races across the ring to end up diving between the ropes out at Emery on the outside! The two wrestlers crash into the side of the announcers table leading Eli and AQ to duck for cover!] 

 

[Layton ends up on the edge of the table holding her left side, while the champion reaches his feet directly above her. He leans forward to get ahold of her only to catch an uppercut to the crotch from the challenger!] 

 

[Emery rises up slowly with wild eyes full of ambition. She takes hold of Williams by the back of his head. Layton then lunges forward to slam the champion throat first into the edge of the table! A small crack forms all the way across the table from the violent lick!] 

 

[Bryan struggles on the outside floor to regain his ability to breath. Layton walks over to the ring apron and peels up the skirt in an almost mocking sexual manner. Williams recovers and stumbles to both feet. Emery pulls out a metal folding chair from beneath the ring. She then rises up to both feet, still facing away from Bryan. The champion comes in from behind with a dropkick to the back of Emery’s head that drives her face first into the ring post! Blood squirts from a gash across the top of her forehead as she falls to the outside floor in a pile!] 

 

[Williams stumbles over to Emery to talk trash while hovering above only to realize he's lost his voice. The champion becomes even further enraged. Williams hoists up Layton then rolls her slowly back into the ring. Bryan then peers beneath the ring skirt himself. Emery bleeds from the gash on her head while Williams pulls out a small bucket.] 

 

[Bryan looks down into the bucket and a smile crosses his face. The champion puts the bucket up on the apron before rolling back into the ring. Emery wipes the blood from her eyes. Williams carefully picks up the bucket slowly. He reaches down into it to retrieve the mystery within. The champ pulls his hand back out slowly to reveal a handful of shiny thumbtacks! He begins throwing them all about as if feeding chickens on a farm. Williams wants the entire ring covered in these sharp tacks!] 

 

[Layton stumbles up to one knee. The shot to the head took a real toll on the veteran, but she’s recovered! Williams throws the bucket out into the crowd before turning to face down his foe. Emery wrinkles her forehead to show her true dismay for the champion standing before her. The Enemy of the World charges forward right at Williams suddenly! Bryan swings around to catch her flush on the jaw with a superkick laced with thumbtacks! Layton stumbles back but remains on her feet. Williams lunges forward leading Emery to come right back at him! The two meet in the center of the ring with Layton ducking a clothesline to end up bouncing off the ropes on the opposite side of the ring! Williams does the same to build more momentum! The two meet again with Layton pulling off a picture perfect swinging neckbreakers into all the thumbtacks!] 

 

[Emery hooks a leg quick!] 

 

...ONE! 

 

KICK OUT! 

 

[Williams kicks out at one! Both wrestlers rise quickly covered in small shiny thumbtacks. A few fall off as the two rise up, but many remain embedded. The two wrestlers stand up to come face to face once again! They begin swapping blows back and forth! Bryan aims for the gash on her head which further aggravates the injury! Emery has a crimson mask at this point. The entirety of her face is covered in blood. Layton swings wildly at the champion, who ducks the shot to cradle her up into a blue thunder bomb! Bryan holds through the maneuver for a pin!] 

 

...ONE! 

 

...TWO! 

 

KICK OUT! 

 

[Layton manages to kick out before the referee can strike the mat a third time! The instant replay of the blue thunder bomb shows the pain of the tacks in graphic detail. The crowd watches on as these two legends of Union battle it out. Williams sits up with a bit of frustration. The Enemy of The World wipes the blood from both eyes to see the bright lights overhead. Williams stands up while Layton rolls to her feet. Bryan turns around to find Emery already facing him. Both wrestlers are covered in thumbtacks. Small cuts everywhere.] 

 

[Williams rushes at Layton, who hits both knees to avoid him! The champion catches himself in the corner on the middle turnbuckle. Layton comes in from behind to cradle his head for a double handed bulldog into the middle turnbuckle! The challenger ends up in a seated position with both legs sliding beneath the bottom ropes in one seamless motion. The champion is left in a daze after eating the turnbuckle. He stumbles to his feet before falling back down on all fours.] 

 

[Emery uses the ropes to assist her on her way up the turnbuckles. She stops momentarily to wipe the blood from her eyes once more before ending up at the top. Layton faces out into the ring while never taking her eyes off Williams below. The camera pans around to show her perspective just before she leaps off! Bryan stands up just as she takes flight! She catches the champion with a top rope diving cutter! The Prikasa! Layton crawls over to Williams after impact. The Enemy of the World pushes him over before cradling up a leg!] 

 

...ONE! 

 

...TWO! 

 

...THREE! 

 

[DING! DING! DING!]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

Here is your winner, AND NEW Union Battleground War Horse Champion, “The Enemy of the World” Emery Layton!

 

[The referee comes over with the belt. The new champion's face is nearly unrecognizable smeared with blood and thumbtacks embedded in. The cut continues to bleed as she holds her new prize high into the air! The crowd praises the two wrestlers while Emery climbs a turnbuckle to further show her new trophy to all!]

[Pacing.]

[Always pacing.]

[Constantly going back and forth along a premeditated path, arms behind his back, staying there as if terrified that they might betray him if he brought them around to bear.]

 

[Paranoid? Anxious? All of that and more. He wasn't even in his ring gear yet and he was the epitome of nervous energy. So much had led up to this. One of them was nearly undefeated. One of them was known for climbing up and then crashing down. Both were so much more than friends. Were they even friends? He didn't know anymore.]

 

[He was almost wearing a hole on the floor with his pacing.]

 

[She stood and watched him for a moment or two, as he paced in that same manner. Her mind and her body were oceans apart, yet this rhythmic sameness grounded her.]

 

INDI RHYDER

You know, you’ll wear a hole in the floor or your boots like that.

 

[Her tone was soft as always, a hint of humor to it. She had no real reason to be here tonight, none that was obvious to a bystander anyway.]

 

INDI RHYDER

I heard what you said, Faolan. But what really lingers is in the words you left unspoken.

 

[Pause. Beat. Did she call him Faolan? His brows furrowed and he paused in midstride. His foot hovered in the air, only to drop. It didn't lift back up. No more pacing, he just stared at the floor as if it offended him.]

 

DANIEL MacNAMARA

I'm not a little wolf. That name is not mine. 

 

[Looking up at her, finally, those eyes narrowed their field pf vision. Just her. Only her.]

 

DANIEL MacNAMARA

Star Dancer.

 

[A smile pulled at the edge of her lips, her own eyes holding his steady gaze.]

 

INDI RHYDER

No? The stars that fall from the sky would beg to differ. And it matters not even the littlest part, what you think yourself to be…

 

[Taking a step closer to him, she let the words rest in the air between them before finally cracking that smile.]

 

INDI RHYDER

Only what he thinks you to be. Hm? You who understands the void like no one can. Of course you had to borrow and parcel from the rest, but it’s your bond and yours alone that will finally clip those wings.

 

[Practically rounding on her, the redhead glowered over her, invading her personal space.]

DANIEL MacNAMARA
You don't get it. The stars tell you everything but you still don't get it. Why don't you get it? Do you not know who he is?

 

[She leaned in close, taking what little space was between them and possessing it.]

 

INDI RHYDER

The end, the beginning. It all depends on where you start really. So much bravado to quell the shaking fear in your guts. You’re one and the same, he and you, you and him.

 

[Daniel absolutely bristled. He wasn't sure what to do, not with her closing in to the point that he could smell her breath. A hand reached for his jacket pocket, fishing out his cigarettes.]

 

DANIEL MacNAMARA

I'm not scared because I fear him. I'm scared because of what I'm going to have to do. How this is going to change both of us. How it's going to feel looking at him after. He hurt her, so I have to hurt him worse.

 

[She plucked the cigarettes from his hand and stepped back with a weary sigh. Daniel was about to object before she started talking again.]

 

INDI RHYDER

Tit for tat and it’s all pretend. Words in place of emotions you’re both ill-equipped for. You want to feel something Faolan. Instead your court the absence of feel, you’re not afraid and he’s not afraid. No ones afraid. You’re both just terrified.

 

[Waggling a finger in the air between them she smiles again.]

 

INDI RHYDER

Not of him or you or what will be done. But that this is it, truly the end. The grand finale.

 

[Gods, he felt how utterly dry his throat was in that moment as Indi articulated what he couldn't choke out in the end, what he felt. How he felt. Still, no time for tears. Stiff upper lip, keep calm and carry on. He was fine.]

 

[He was always fine.]

 

DANIEL MacNAMARA

I don't want this to be the end.

 

[A hand was lifted, palm up. He wanted his seven star back, his cancerous release. Instead, in his palm she placed a rock. It was small and smooth, gray in color.]

 

INDI RHYDER

It’s not really the end Danny.

 

[She nodded at him slightly and held the cigarettes out to him with a smile. He took those cigarettes. He also took the rock. While he lipped the cigarette, he just stared blankly at the stone.]

 

INDI RHYDER

There are too many blank pages in your book for it to be the end.

 

DANIEL MacNAMARA

But the shortest stories are the ones that you read and pray never end. By the end of a long story..

 

[He looked up, a strangely sad smile materializing across his face.]

 

DANIEL MacNAMARA

You're just relieved that it's over with.

 

[Those fingers closed around the stone, pocketing it. She shakes her head with a sigh.]

 

INDI RHYDER

No one is ever glad when an epic tale draws to its conclusion. But you already know it, both of you. It’s settled in your bones like damp and it rots you from the inside out.

 

[Leaning down she gently air kissed above the hand closed around the stone.]

 

INDI RHYDER

Good luck Faolan.

 

DANIEL MacNAMARA

Yeah, goodbye, Indi.

 

[As she retreated, he opened his hand to stare at the stone, even as the screen faded out.]

Catch all of the latest news and highlights for Union Battleground on Twitter

@Union_Battle

MIKE DEMPSEY

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the Main Event of the evening! The following battle is scheduled for one fall and is for the Union Battleground Unified Championship! Introducing first, the challenger...

CHEAP SMOKE

RISING LIKE A SPIRIT IN THE

SOFT GLOW OF A NEW YORK STREET

NO GLAMOUR OR GARB CAN HIDE

THE ANIMAL HEART INSIDE OF ME

[“A Dog’s Life” by Miracle of Sounds hits the loudspeakers as the lights cut in the arena.]

MIKE DEMPSEY
… standing 6’4” and weighing in at 221 pounds….

 

[Daniel MacNamara walks out into darkness, pausing momentarily to take in the ambiance as it goes from black to low light levels. Standing at the top of that ramp, he suddenly makes a beeline for the ring.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… from Armagh, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, presenting Daniel MacNamara!

 

[At the edge, he makes a vertical leap onto the canvas while he grabs the second rope and pushes down on it only to step between the second and top rope. In that ring, he walked towards the center of it and threw back his head, lifting his arms right as the lowlight turned black again, before going back to normal.]

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

And his opponent…

YOU WERE CRACKING ALL YOUR FINGERS

WITH YOUR EYES FIXED TO THE FLOOR

SOUND HAD ECHOED DOWN THE STREET

BY THE MONUMENT YOU HEAR

[“Play God” by Sam Fender hits throughout! Everyone in the crowd reacts one way or another. Miles Lucky emerges from behind the curtain in a burst! The champion has tied the companies two top singles titles together and drags them behind him. Wild eyes and sudden jerks alert the fateful that the man has indeed come around.] 

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

… standing 6’2” and weighing in at 180 pounds, he is the reigning, defending, undisputed Union Battleground Unified Champion, presenting Miles Lucky!

EVERY WORD WOULD HERD THE CYNICAL

EVERY WORD WOULD CUT YOUR TEETH

AND HE WILL PLAY GOD

AND HE WILL PLAY GOD

[Miles twitches as the referee holds up both of his championships. The two wrestlers stare each other down from across the ring. Then, the two walk to each other out of nowhere to get nose to nose. Lucky and Danny glare into each other’s souls while the ref calls for the bell to start this championship match main event!] 

 

[DING!]

 

[Danny and Miles headbutt each other! Then again! The blood flies as the two men continue to buck heads around the ring in a circle! Lucky hammers Danny Mac in the skull with a solid lick that causes him to land on the canvas in a seated position! Lucky comes in at him with two knees to ride MacNamara to the mat! Miles holds through to pin both shoulders flush!] 

 

...ONE! 

 

...KICK OUT! 

 

[Danny gets a shoulder up to send Miles into the ropes! Lucky ends up tangled which allows MacNamara to get back up. He comes in at Lucky with a sharp knee to the ribs! Danny then cradles up the dual champion into an exploder suplex! MacNamara leaps back to his feet only to catch a shoe in his right hand?! Miles is already throwing shoes in this one! Danny slowly pulls the strings out while never taking his eyes off Lucky. Miles gets up and comes directly at MacNamara! The champion ducks an elbow, but Danny swings around to catch a kick to the gut! Jawbreaker from Miles! Lucky hooks a leg!] 

 

...ONE! 

 

...BROKEN PIN! 

 

[Miles halts his pinfall attempt at one himself. Danny Mac bites the champion’s arm as it brushes past his face! Lucky doesn’t even flinch while blood trickles down his arm! MacNamara releases his hold and the camera pans in close to reveal blood dripping from each corner of Daniel’s mouth. Lucky smacks MacNamara in the face with his other shoe out of nowhere! The corner of the heel from the shoe leaves a distinct mark across the forehead of the challenger as he hits the mat in a seated position!] 

 

[Lucky pulls something out of his pocket while Danny recovers from a bit of a daze, still seated in the center of the ring. MacNamara holds up his left hand at Lucky and peeks through the fingers to further taunt the champion. Miles peers at the hand like he finds it truly fascinating. The challenger watches on as Miles loops a small piece of piano wire around his left pinky finger. He then yanks both sides of the wire to cut the finger off completely! The crowd collectively gasps! An elderly couple in the second row immediately threw up into their Union Battleground merch bags!] 

 

[MacNamara watches his pinky roll around on the mat. Miles simply sticks out his foot, using his big toe first to stomp on the appendage as if it's a cigarette in need of being extinguished. The crowd grows silent with shock while Lucky eats it up. MacNamara begs Miles more more which confuses the champ somewhat for mere moments. These precious moments allows Danny to come off the mat suddenly to essentially ride the champion from a standing position to flat on his back on the mat in one swift motion! MacNamara takes hold of Miles’s head in both hands and begins to smash it against the canvas without mercy! He bends down and sucks on the neck of the challenger with all he’s got! Lucky leaves a hickey!] 

 

[Blood smears the mat behind Lucky’s head. He begins to laugh in Danny’s face while bleeding from the back of his head! MacNamara bends down to whisper something into the ear of the champion only to catch a headbutt! Then another! The violent lick sends the challenger back! Lucky raises up but Daniel remains on his legs! Miles reaches out and strokes the hair of MacNamara back a bit. A smile of real endearment crosses his face momentarily before he punches Daniel in the face with a right hook! Daniel falls back a bit more to finally get off of Miles completely. Lucky crawls towards him briefly before attempting to stand up but slips on the severed pinky and falls into an extended knee of Daniel MacNamara! Danny quickly leaps down on the champion for a pin!] 

 

...ONE! 

 

...TWO! 

 

...KICK OUT! 

 

[Miles kicks out at the last possible moment to survive! The crowd pops while MacNamara rolls out of the ring full of frustration. Lucky rolls over on his side and twitches slightly. He notices the now squished pinky on the mat and snatches it up quickly. He puts it in one pocket but remembers that one has a hole, so he opts for the other. Danny slides a staple gun into the ring before rolling back in. He goes to push himself up only to find Miles now holding the staple gun! MacNamara comes right at Lucky, who pushes the gun between the eyes of the challenger! SNAP! SNAP! Danny shakes his head and a piercing pain can be felt all the way down his spine in a single moment. Lucky continues to staple his foe without an ounce of pity but Daniel almost leans into the onslaught! Miles realizes this and suddenly staples Danny’s left eye! MacNamara’s eyelid ends up stapled shut to his eye inside! The crowd gasps again as the two men attempt to murder each other live on L!GHTS OUT!] 

 

[The slow motion replay of the eyelid being stapled continues to looped over the big screen causing some members of the Union faithful to pass out. Miles watches on as Daniel MacNamara attempts to stumble back to his feet, wanting more of Miles Lucky! The champion finds the short piece of piano wire on the mat and takes it up. Lucky wraps it around the throat of Daniel MacNamara and swiftly begins choking him with it! Blood trickles down all around the neck of the challenger to further shock this already shell shocked audience. Miles uses the small wire to drag Danny around the ring. MacNamara appears to be fading which causes Lucky to release his grip on the wire. Both hands are shown to be cut deep from the wire.] 

 

[Danny gasps for air on his side, still down on the mat. Miles rushes over to the referee to ask for the time. MacNamara stumbles up to one knee and peers up at the champion with one eye. The other remains staple shut for all to see. Lucky comes in to cradle him up for a DDT! Daniel fights him off! Miles gets pushed off but then comes right back at his foe full speed ahead! MacNamara uses a knee to halt his forward momentum completely! Miles then gets cradled up out of nowhere into a muscular bomb into a sit out pin!] 

 

...ONE! 

 

...TWO! 

 

...THREE! 

 

[DING! DING! DING!]

 

[Miles kicks out, but a millisecond too late. The crowd is left starstruck after this match. Lucky loses his mind! Miles gets back up to his feet and immediately takes the shirt from the referee that is attempting to hand the two titles off to Danny!] 

GINGER, THIS IS SARAH.

PICK UP IF YOU'RE THERE.

I'M AT THIS PLACE ON PICO BOULEVARD CALLED TECH NOIR...

[Bryan Williams runs through the curtain suddenly! He rushes down the ramp with real purpose before sliding in the ring. Miles is now stomping down on Danny while Bryan comes up from behind Lucky. He reaches out to touch his right shoulder only to catch an elbow from the former champion! Miles lunges back with all he’s got to catch Bryan with a violent shot! Blood pours from his nose as the two men begin to swap blows, back and forth!] 

 

MIKE DEMPSEY

Here is your winner, AND NEW Union Battleground Unified Champion, Daniel MacNamara! 

 

[Miles immediately turns his attention to Daniel after these words are spoken! Lucky turns to take off for MacNamara, but Bryan trips him up! Before long, all three men are now rolling around on the mat fighting, biting, and wanting to kill each other. The crowd pops! Security pours in from the main stage, racing down the ramp to try and break up the chaos. Dozens of rent-a-cops slide into action and struggle to free the brawl, before the feed slowly fades out.]

L!GHTS OUT - Closing Track
00:00 / 00:00
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