There’s a recap of Episode 0 that tells the story of Dream up to this point, including the cliffhanger where a mystery opponent challenges Hurricane RUKA for the number one contendership for the Champion of Dreams title. The recap fades to black.
THE MAIN EVENT
As this episode opens, it’s a slow-motion scene where fans are cheering, on their feet.
Inside the ring, we see Hurricane RUKA fall to the mat slowly.
Someone falls on top of her for the cover.
The referee drops down and begins to count.
The scene fades to black.
My Name is Kyoka Sanada.
Until a few weeks ago, I was a top star for the WrestleCraft promotion.
TWO WEEKS EARLIER
Kyoko walks into the main office for WrestleCraft.
My contract was a couple of days away from expiring and I had not heard from Ketamura-shachou. I felt that I should renegotiate as I was coming off a championship run. The rumors of Dream Wrestle were certainly rampant and stories regarding Ketamura-shachou snatching top talent from Dream Wrestle were also in all of the news articles.
I never once thought that bringing in these new talents would be detrimental to my career as I had been loyal to Ketamura for many many years.
Kyoko walks in and addresses the secretary, “Ketamura-shachou? I need to speak to him about my contract.”
The request is returned with a smile as the secretary picks up the phone and pushes a button. After a brief exchange, she hangs up. “So very sorry, Sanada-san, but he is very busy at the moment and asks if you can come back at another time.”
It’s at that time someone else walks into the office.
I recognized that person immediately. It was another of Dream’s talent.
The secretary, right in front of me, had the nerve to smile at them and tell them at Ketamura was waiting for them and escorted them into his office. I could hear the warm greeting on the other side and that was when I knew that it was time for me to find another company.
Scene switches to Kyoko driving her car.
If WrestleCraft wanted to bring in past Dream stars, then perhaps Dream would be willing to take someone from WrestleCraft.
The scene changes to when Kyoko was walking into the Dream Wrestle office, her heels clacking on the floor as she brushes past the empty secretary desk as Shiori is trying to create her first card. She hears the promoter as she realizes she doesn’t have what she needs for a first show. “I have nothing…”
Kyoko stands in the doorway and shakes her head, “Perhaps not nothing…”
Shiori is startled, not realizing someone was watching her as she spins around, and then it takes a brief moment before recognition hits her, “How are you here?”
Kyoko grins as she gives a soft shrug, “If the rumors are true, you’re going to love this story.”
Shiori invites her into the office and over the course of the next few moments, explains what is happening with her contract. Kyoko is serious when she says, “Perhaps it’s time for a change. What can you do for me, Okamura-san?”
This is one of those moments that just do not happen all the time. Not to Shiori. As she ponders the question, her mind is racing. It really would be a coup to snatch up a talent like Kyoko Sanada right from under Shunsuke Ketamura. The issue is…
“I can’t match money with Ketamura,” Shiori responds.
Kyoko nods her head as if anticipating that answer. “I see.” She rises as if to go.
“But,” Shiori’s word stops the wrestler from leaving.
Shiori stands up and walks to her board as she takes a blank magnetic strip and scribbles Kyoko’s name on it in kanji and moves the giant question mark and places the tag across from Hurricane RUKA’s name in the main event slot.
“I can give you a chance to fight for the title,” she says. “You’d have to get by RUKA. It’s all I have for you, Kyoko-san. I’m trying to salvage this company so I can give you what I’m giving all the others for the time being, but I can put you in the first main event.”
Kyoko eyes the board and retakes her seat. She chews on her lip as she considers the offer.
WrestleCraft will be overflowing in talent and the fact is, I already feel as if I’ll be neglected there, but here I can remain the big fish in the pond. RUKA will be tough, but I think I can beat her.
Kyoko looks from the board to Shiori and then back again, “I will sign for one year. After one year, if we are doing well, I expect to be paid in accordance with my worth, deal?” Kyoko rises from her seat again.
Shiori smiles, nodding as she approaches the woman and offers a handshake, “Deal.”
The two clasp hands and Kyoko adds, “In two days, I will return. Please have a contract ready.”
“Of course,” Shiori responds, “And if something changes, please let me know.”
Two days passed easily with no communication from Shunsuke Ketamura. Two days later, Kyoko signed a one year contract with Dream.
Shunsuke Ketamura has locked virtually every name talent from Dream Wrestle to a contract. He is so very pleased with himself. He leans back in his chair, the contracts spread out on his desk. Something catches his eye. There’s a contract with no stamp on it. He leans forward quickly in his chair and reaches for it.
He recalls earlier when his secretary paged him that Sanada was wanting to see him. He utters a curse and reaches for his phone and scrolls down he finds her number and dials.
It rings and rings, but she doesn’t pick up. He dials twice more with the same result. He slams down his phone and stalks out into the foyer, “I don’t care what it takes, someone get me Kyoko Sanada on the phone.”
His secretary looks up, “She was just…”
“I know she was just here! I already know that. Just get her back here! Go to her home. Go to the restaurants she eats at. Go to where she buys her clothes. Go find the gym she works out at. I don’t care how you do it, but find her and bring her back!”
The trainees were busy painting the gym. Yoshio left word that he would be back later with some sort of surprise if he was pleased with how the painting has progressed.
Ian is up on a ladder, his height giving him the advantage of reaching the trim near the ceiling. Mariana is holding the ladder still. “I don’t know why we have to be here painting. I didn’t come here to paint a gym, I came to train.”
Ian finishes the trim up top and slowly descends the ladder until he’s on the floor. He looks at her, “You don’t feel a sense of pride for the dojo? I mean, it’s where you’re going to eventually learn how to do all of this.”
“All of what?”
“Wrestling. Isn’t that why you’re here?”
“Well, of course, it is,” she says as she steps away from the ladder so he can move it down a little further. “I just wasn’t expecting to be cleaning, painting and otherwise straightening up an old warehouse. I want to be in the ring, taking bumps and learning moves.”
He turns to her and nods, “I can understand that, I guess. I mean, wouldn’t it be better to work out in a clean, freshly painted and mostly sterile environment?”
“Sterile? This place? I doubt it.”
He grins and shakes his head, “I mean, mostly sterile. Obviously, we can’t make this place completely clean, but get it all painted up and it’ll be more pleasing to look at.”
It seems she might be getting the idea, “I guess. So what’s your story?”
Ian seems surprised to be asked. “Oh. My father is a wrestler. I’ve always wanted to do this.”
“He sent you here?”
Ian shakes his head, “He wanted to train me, but I really wanted to do this on my own. I didn’t want anyone to resent me for using him to get ahead. I want to make my own path. What about you?”
Mariana considers that question. What about her?
“A B-minus, how did you manage that?”
“You know what we expect out of you!”
“Me and your mother only want the best for you.”
“Life is not easy, look we moved away from everything we had to give you a better life.”
This is what I heard on a daily basis; growing up in the Marcedo household wasn’t easy and charmed. My parents worked hard and took many years out of their lives to find us a place, jobs, among other things. But one thing I was always told was they moved to give me a chance at a better life I heard it daily at the dinner table. Must have been why they were so hard on me all the time. Mainly from my mother as my father was always working sometimes three jobs. A couple under the table at least. Who am I? Mariana Marcedo.
Who did I want to be?
Mariana Marcedo, professional wrestler.
“What do you mean you want to be a wrestler?”
My mother was furious, but she knew I watched wrestling with my brother when we were little. Old Lucha tapes before seeing the American style of wrestling. I always had loved the flashy characters and the in-ring action. My mother was not a fan.
“Do you got anything to say about this?”
My mother looked at my father. She was shorter than I was, not that I am a tall woman by any means. I am only five feet five however, my mother was a five three but she was strong.
“Well, I do think you should have a backup plan in case this doesn’t work out.”
My dad was trying to play peacemaker, it was something he got used to doing as I got older. Of course, that didn’t stop him from yelling at me for a B minus in American history.
“Esteban! Did you not see she has started wresting?! Her energy would be better used somewhere else! Why not become a lawyer? Since lately you like talkback so much?!”
I couldn’t help it but roll my eyes. This was my mom’s typical thing why not become a lawyer or a doctor or something else. I get where she’s coming from she still couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
“Mother, this is what I want to do you know I can do it. I know I can do it how many times did you pressure me to join sports I wasn’t interested in? Like Volleyball? Mom why can you just accept what I want to do?”
“So now you want to throw away all the hard work you did in school? You could go to Harvard or any school in this country with your grades!”
At this point, I knew she was not listening but my dad piped up.
“You know we love and support you but you have to think long term. Trust me, you don’t want to end up working two jobs and barely seeing your family just to put a roof over your head, and food on the table.”
“Oh, you’re being too easy on her!”
Once again my mother was shouting over my father. This was always how it went. Us Marcedo women are strong-willed, something that was always a thing with us. After that, I shouted back in a defiant way.
“Too easy? You two haven’t been easy my whole life! You were never this hard on Manuel or Luis!”
They both looked at me, my mother eyeing me down. Probably thinking ‘how dare my daughter talk back to me’. My father, however, was clearly not feeling this. He hated our arguments. Hell, I didn’t enjoy them either.
“Why do you always bring that up?! You know Manuel has messed up yes and is now in jail, and Luis got some gringa pregnant and now is working two jobs just to support her.”
“What your mother means…”
Oh boy, here it comes again.
“Is that we only want best for you, and we are proud of you. I know it isn’t easy with all that is asked and expected of you.”
“Not easy? That’s an understatement dad, but you know I can do this. Why won’t you guys support me?!”
My father spoke up.
“Honey, we do but we just don’t want to see you throw away your future.”
It was like they weren’t listening at all. They always ignored me when I wanted to do something. Or tell me it was childish. When it came to my dreams it was always that way, and always will be with them.
“It’s like lately that’s all she wants to do. Throw it away, then but don’t come crying to me when things don’t work out!”
I soon screamed back at my mother.
“You know what? I am gonna do it rather if you two support me or not!”
“Not if you want to live here you won’t!”
I shouted back, tears were starting to roll down my eyes.
“Then fine I will leave!”
I stormed off and headed to my room. Why on earth did they ever not support me? Either way with or without the support of my family I am gonna make something of myself. I slammed my door I could still hear my mother’s yelling. As I buried my head into the pillow crying. But it was that moment I made my mind I was going to do dare to Dream if that meant saving up what I could get. Roommates, whatever it took, I was gonna get my own place. I was gonna pay for my own training if I had to work two or three jobs. Life doesn’t wait for those who aren’t ready.
“Earth to Mariana!”
Mariana blinks her eyes and looks at Ian. “Sorry about that. My story is pretty normal, I guess,” she lied.
Ian hands her the paintbrush, “Your turn to climb up.”
Mariana takes a couple of steps back, holding up her hands, “No thank you. I’ll continue to hold the ladder.” Ian shakes his head and turns and begins to climb up. “Don’t let me fall.”
Ruka has been on edge ever since Shiori announced a mystery opponent for her during the first show. This was supposed to be her opportunity to win the championship, but now there appears to be a monkey wrench coming her way and she didn’t like it one bit.
She’s been asking around, but can’t seem to find out anything at all. Shiori can’t afford anyone from WrestleCraft. She promised she wasn’t bringing in anyone from overseas. It had to be someone currently on the roster. But that would be a disappointment. She’s not going to gamble on something that’s not going to draw.
She knew who to ask.
Moments later she had pulled up to the parking lot of the training gym and was inside Yoshio’s office. Every once in a while her voice would raise and the students would stop painting, look towards the office and then at each other and shrug and go back to painting.
Moments later, she leaves the office and storms out of the gym.
As she pulls out of the parking lot and into the street, she mutters under her breath, “Useless bastard.”
It’s late at the gym. Yoshio was doing a little bit of cleaning up and decided to do a little training. He’s hitting the punching bag and each hit gets harder and harder. The door to the back of the gym opens up and Taylor walks through. She doesn’t realize anyone is there right off due to her deafness, but as she walks through she finally sees YoYo hitting the bag.
He also sees her and stops hitting, “It is late. You cannot sleep?” he asks, making sure that she can fully see him.
She nods her head.
“I see,” he has been considering her lack of hearing and trying to find a way to teach her something that he really can’t teach the others. He walks over and turns on the light over the ring and motions for her to climb inside.
As he joins her, he makes sure she is looking at him knowing that she can read his lips, “I want to show you something,” he begins. “I know that you cannot hear, so you need to find other ways to move around this ring. To know where your opponent is even if you are not facing them. Do you understand?”
She nods her head, though she’s not sure where he’s going with this.
“When I tell you, I want you to close your eyes. I’m going to move around the ring and I want you to follow where you think I am with your head, do you understand.”
She nods her head again.
“Close your eyes.”
She does as he asks.
Yoshio starts to run the ropes. As he does, he keeps an eye on her. She is trying to find him but she starts to get frustrated with this exercise and she lets out a frustrated grunt at him and opens her eyes. She starts to leave the ring when he reaches for her and pulls her back.
“You are not doing what I asked you to do. Feel with your feet. Use them as your ears. Try again.”
She grits her teeth then relaxes and slowly closes her eyes.
As he runs the ropes again, she is still. Then her eyebrows lift. Then slowly she turns her head and she begins to follow him with her eyes closed. He shifts and runs a different direction and she is able to sense it as she also begins to follow him.
He stops running. She tilts her head curiously but keeps her eyes closed. This time he walks lightly right up to her. Finally, unsure of what’s going on, her eyes open and surprise hits her face as he lifts her up and gives her a body slam to the mat.
She quickly rolls over and scowls at him as he just grins, “This is why we wrestle with our eyes open, Taylor-san.” He laughs uproariously at her. She’s pissed at first but then at his jolliness, she begins to grin as well and rolls her eyes at him.
“Go back to bed!” he commands as he rolls out of the ring, walking over to turn out the ring light.
She follows him and as he opens the back door for her, she turns and bows to him. He returns the bow and she disappears into the night as he locks up the gym and heads to his room.
Shunsuke Ketamura was not pleased. Not in the least. He had already scheduled the card for the next WrestleCraft show but rumors were already swirling about Dream Wrestle’s grand reopening show.
It was almost laughable with no talent to pull off a decent show. All he left them with was enhancement talent. And Ruka, who refused his offer. There is just no way they survive. All Shunsuke wanted was the name. He could find use for the catalog, but the name is what he wanted. If he had that, they would finally be buried and gone.
All that aside, Shunsuke had one more trick up his sleeve.
Yoshio enters the gym as he normally does, with a whistle and a smile. What was different this time was that he was carrying a bag over his shoulder as if he were Santa Claus.
“Everyone stop what you’re doing and go into the ring!”
There was some confusion, but slowly everyone climbed down from their ladders and came into the ring. “Sit. Sit. Gather around.” Yoshio reached into his bag and pulled out some colorful items and began to pass them around.
“Everyone gets one. They go on your wrist.”
Eric White speaks up, “What is this?”
Grinning, YoYo pats Eric on the head, “Not so bright, hm? It’s a wrist band,” he teases.
Eric starts to protest, but Yoshio hushes him up.
Yoshio points out of the ring, “Go grab that chair, Ethan-san.”
Ethan does as asked and sets the chair up in the ring. Yoshio pulls out a championship belt which causes everyone to grow quiet. He places it on the chair as if on display.
“This is a new idea that Shiori and I came up with to determine when people are ready to appear on television. This championship is the Year One Championship. It’s only for this gym. Everyone is going to have three months to train for a single-elimination tournament. I will draw marbles from this bag, the color matches those you just placed around your wrist.”
Michel raises his hand, “We’re going to start having matches in three months? For that championship?”
Yoshio nods his head, “That is correct. I am glad you are paying attention. Understand, this isn’t necessarily about winning and losing. It’s about who understands what we are doing here the best. If you win the match, that doesn’t mean you advance in the tournament. You are novices so you will remain in the ring at all times. Safety first, always. Whoever shows the most potential at the end of the tournament will get the championship. Others may challenge for the championship, but only I will determine if you are ready to do so. When Shiori needs someone on the show, whoever is the champion will be given the opportunity to go.”
Nicki raises her hand, “How do you measure potential?”
“Very good question, Nicki-chan. I do not have an answer for you. Sometimes in this business, you spot it right away in someone, sometimes it comes much later in life. You will just have to trust me. Now, let’s see who will be the first match…”
YoYo reaches in and pulls out a purple marble and points to Taylor, “You will be first. Against…” He reaches in and pulls out an orange marble. Ethan raises his hand. “Ethan-san against Taylor-chan.”
Red and green were pulled next. “Ian-san vs. Eric-san.”
White and blue were next. “Nicki-chan vs. Mariana-chan.”
Michel raises his hand. “There are no more opponents.”
“You are correct, Michel-san. Which means you will have to wait until these other three matches are over. We will put the winning marbles back into the bag along with yours and pick new opponents.”
He doesn’t seem happy with that outcome.
Yoshio starts putting everything back into the bag, “Trainees. Training begins tomorrow. Finish up what you can in here, but it looks like you are almost finished. Then please get a good night’s rest. The alarm will go off at 6:30 AM for breakfast and 8 AM for training! Do not be late!”
And with that, as happy as he showed up, he bounced his happy self over to his office and shut himself inside as the trainees looked over at each other then, one by one, went back to work.
THE MAIN EVENT
The referee brings his hand down for the final count…
The crowd erupts as the person gets to their feet.
RUKA rolls over onto her side with a shocked look on her face. She rolls up onto her knees and reaches for the referee, asking about the count, holding up two fingers.
The referee shakes her off and holds up three fingers.
Inside the ring, we see the back of the winner of the match and then slowly she turns towards the camera. The referee raises the hand of Kyoko Sanada as a devastated Ruka looks on from the mat.
The studio has grown dark. Shiori was sitting in her little office going over some numbers. While the streaming numbers were promising, she wouldn’t know the television ratings for a few days.
The result of the show tonight was not unexpected. Kyoko Sanada is on a different level than most. Ruka put up a hard fight but in the end, Kyoko received the victory.
Now if only Ketamura would come through. Shiori was definitely ready to take legal action if he refused, but she was hoping it wouldn’t come to that. She needed to prepare a card for the next show, she knows that Ruka is very upset. Shiori knew she was going to have to have a conversation with her at some point and that it wouldn’t be pleasant. Perhaps something different.
The voice startles her as she turns around and sees a security guard standing there. “We are about to lock up the studio, but this young man said he would like to speak with you. I’ll stick around until you are ready to leave.”
Shiori raises her eyebrows as she wonders who could be here. The guard steps away from the doorway and a young man steps into view. The camera shifts behind him so all we can see if the back of his head. “Pardon the interruption. I’d like to talk to you about a job.”
Ōkami no Ame
Introducing myself is a simple, yet complicated task. I go by Ōkami no Ame. I’m a masked wrestler, I also train others and no, I’m not going to tell you who I am under the mask. The whole masked deal kind of goes hand in hand with mystery and I fully intend on keeping it that way. What I can do is tell you how I got here and what my two goals are.
So I’ve been wrestling for about 15 years, give or take a few and signing with Dream is not my first dealings with Japan. Before this, I was a part of NAPW for a few years. However, I had a recent falling out with the company due to them disowning my tag team partner who is one of my best friends. Before you ask, no, he doesn’t know who I am. But yeah so I wanted to make a return to Japan after spending some time in the American circuit and thought Dream was the perfect opportunity. On top of that, one of my students, Nicki is training at their dojo and I wanted to look out for her. So yeah, be a good trainer and become a champion. Simple goals, but a complicated lifestyle to go with it.
It didn’t take much to convince Shiori to bring him on board. She could use a new face and she was sure that Yoshio could use a new trainer, though, she’d definitely want to talk to him about that part before agreeing to it.
After a handshake agreement, a promise to come by the office tomorrow to sign a contract and a brief farewell, the two parted company.
Ruka is upset. Quite the understatement, for sure. She has her gear and she can be heard muttering to herself as she walks to her car.
“After sticking around, this is the thanks I get? Couldn’t have given me an easier opponent so I could get the title shot? I deserve to be champion.”
The self-talk continues until she reaches her car. She fumbles with her keys after placing her bag on the hood.
“Didn’t quite go well for you tonight,” comes a male voice from behind her that scares the crap out of her, causing her to drop her keys. She spins around and then sees that it’s Shunsuke Ketamura.
“Why are you creeping around here at night?” she asks as she reaches for her keys.
“I saw your match tonight. Must have been very disappointing for you to have someone come in at the last possible minute and snatch an opportunity right from under your nose.”
Is he gloating, she wonders? She tries to brush it off, “My time will come. Don’t worry.”
“Your time could have come already. You could have wrestled for me,” he rubs it in.
“You took everyone. I’d rather be a big fish here…” she says as she opens the door of her car. “If you’ll excuse me…”
“Won’t you at least listen to my offer? You won’t have to go anywhere,” he says as she stops going inside her car and her attention is turned in his direction.
As their eyes meet, she responds, “I’m listening.”