“World on Sticks” by Sam Phillips plays as the Triad Challenge logo is shown on the screen. It fades away as the music continues to play in the background as the Splatterhouse Gym Arena is seen. It’s a very small intimate arena that looks to hold about 1,000 people. However, fans are just now beginning to file in. All floor seating has been blocked off, but there are plenty of rows back where everyone is beginning to take their seats.
Elaine Bryant: Welcome to the Triad Challenge Pre-Show. I’m Elaine Bryant and alongside me is my former colleague Shelly Marks — I almost said old but I assumed you might not appreciate that.
Shelly Marks: (laughs) While it’s true we are quite a bit older than the last time we worked together, I still feel very young at heart, Elaine and I must say I’m happy to be working side by side with you once again.
Elaine Bryant: I am as well. We do have a bit of breaking news here today. With changes being made over at Splat and their restructuring of their content, the Splatterhouse Gym will become the home of the remaining Multiuniversal Championship defenses starting in July.
Shelly Marks: That is correct. There will be a Multiuniversal Championship defense each month right here at Splatterhouse. We understand that tomorrow the defenses for July, August and September will be announced. One of those defenses surely has to be the winner of tonight’s Triad Challenge.
Elaine Bryant: The name Graham Baker is also floating around for a possible defense due to his showing in the Tournament of Mystery. Every semi-finalist has already been either granted a shot or is scheduled for a shot. We shall see how this all goes.
Shelly Marks: Tonight we have the Triad Challenge. It’s a three tiered single elimination tournament. In Round 1, we have randomly assigned teams battling it out for a shot to the second round. Teams have been assigned for months now and the back and forth on Twitter has been pretty impressive. I understand some teams have even done some training together during this time. One key component to this tag team challenge is that if you attack your partner, you will be eliminated from the tournament and barred from future Splat productions indefinitely.
Elaine Bryant: It’s definitely going to be a fun tournament to watch. Specifically as we get to Round 2 as teams that advance will now have to face each other in order to advance to the finals. Teamwork is out the window and from this point forward its every person for themselves.
Shelly Marks: Four will advance from Round 2 the finals of the tournament which features a four-way elimination-style last person standing match. I believe this may be the first of its kind, which is something we’ve been looking forward to. But which of the 16 will be in that final four? We will find out tonight.
Elaine Bryant: With the Triad Challenge being the last of this type of event for Splat, the world has been talking about their new venture, a project called Dream Wrestle. Ever since the prologue, something they’ve called Episode 0 aired, the buzz for this promotion has been off the chart. Dream Wrestle will select a representative to compete against whoever is the current Multiuniversal Champion and the winner will become the first Champion of Dreams. They are hoping to have that match sometime in October. It’s time to hear from some of our competitors for tonight’s Triad Challenge, so let’s go to Shelly Marks who is standing by with Jan Van Der Roost.
JAN VAN DER ROOST
Jan walks into the backstage area, fully dressed and ready for the match. He stares into the camera.
“Talking about being in MY element, Shelly. This Triad Challenge is perfect for the Rooster. There are very few that have more experience in the ring than I do, and in this match, it rings true once again. Experience will have its advantages for this challenge, being able to ‘roll with the punches’, no matter who or what is thrown at me.”
Jan taps his temple twice.
“Adrien Cochrane, it has been nice to watch you from afar, but it will be more fulfilling to finally lock horns with you in the ring. Your accolades are many, but everything goes out the window once the bell rings. Accolades will not gain you any favors or help you any as I turn and twist you into knots. Just as you would say to me, It is nothing personal, Adrien, just part of the business that we both love. It is an honor and a privilege to share this match with you.”
Jan gives a mini-salute to the camera.
“And Aiden Balmer, your prowess in brutality is unmatched compared to the ‘normal’ wrestler. But I am not a normal wrestler. Do not let these ‘aged eyes’ fool you. I may be known as a technician, but I can throw down into the death match style just as quick as a hiccup. Homicide may be your Modus Operandi, Aiden, but you will make that one mistake, and I will capitalize, turning a Homicide into your Suicide.”
Jan makes a throat cutting motion as he stares into the camera once again.
We may not look like the best of pairings, but Morgan and I mesh well. Her tenacity, my spirit. Her speed, my technique. Our styles compliment each other and we will show that tonight. Sometimes it is not the biggest, the fastest, or the tallest that wins a ‘blind draw match’, but the pair that can form a cohesive unit for the one match the quickest, will be the one who moves on… and Morgan and I will do just that.
Jan places his hands apart then interlaces his fingers. He looks at Shelly as he speaks.
For one match, for one night, Payne and the Rooster will not just accept the Challenge… but will win this Challenge, and That’s The Way It Is…”
Jan curtly nods then walks off..
We cut backstage to the Triad Challenge logo display where Elaine Bryant stands at the ready with a microphone. Further in the background of the shot, we have a back shot of a woman with a hand crafted, studded shillelagh across her shoulders. For the tournament, she’s wearing her secondary ring gear of black BDU pants, Doc Martins and a black scoop tank leotard. Her hair is tied back into a partial ponytail but a black beanie conceals this for now. It appears she’s looking up at the logo display as Elaine Bryant speaks.
Elaine Bryant: “You just heard from her tag team partner, Jan Van Der Roost. They will be taking on the team of Adrien Cochrane and Aiden Balmer in the first round. She represents The Kingdom of Hybrid Wrestle and New Frontier Wrestling. You can also catch her on Pro Wrestling Nova. Folks, please give it up for Morgan Payne.”
Right about the time Adrien Cochrane’s name is mentioned, Morgan’s head drops and she shakes with laughter. She turns to finally step up beside Elaine Bryant, twisting from side to side with her wrists resting over the whiskey stick across her shoulders.
Elaine Bryant: “Umm…what’s the stick for?”
Morgan Payne: “What, dis?”
Morgan flips the stick off of her shoulders, taking it by the grip in one hand. She runs her other hand up the business end in an odd affectionate manner. She treasures this weapon she’s holding.
Morgan Payne: “Dis Chloe. Say hi. Wanna kiss her?”
Morgan leans the shillelagh in towards Elaine Bryant’s mouth but quickly snatches it back.
Morgan Payne: “Kidding. Dun touch her.”
Elaine Bryant: “Well then…anyway, let’s talk about tonight. How do you feel about coming into the tournament? Are you and your partner on the same page?”
Morgan Payne: “Pfft, fuck. I dunno. He’s got like…twenty years experience and I’m a second gen wrestler from one of da baddest families ever graced a goddamn wrestling ring. We got dis in da bag.”
Morgan starts twirling and idly swinging the shillelagh around. Elaine Bryant’s getting a little nervous but presses on with the interview.
Elaine Bryant: “Confidence is key. However, you do know your opponents are the Dropkick King, Adrien Cochrane and Aiden Bal–“
Morgan Payne: “Anno who da fuck we’re fightin’! Ya think I ain’t been payin’ attention? Balmer? I ain’t gonna lie. I like his style. Crazy ass motherfucker. Prolly woulda enjoyed bein’ teamed up wif him more but, ah well. Sucks t’be him cuz he’s gotta be teamed up with a guy who’s too much of a soft ass to go the distance. Cochrane’s one of the top names in one of da places I roll. Evolution Champion n’at. Yeah, trust me, dat’s a story for anotha time. Let’s talk abaht right nah.”
Morgan SLAPS the shillelagh into her open palm and gives a malicious grin at the camera.
Morgan Payne: “I dunno Balmer personally so I ain’t gon’ say whether I like or dislike him as a person. I think he drew the short straw getting teamed with Cochrane ‘cuz unfortunately, da Dropkick King? He’s on my list of achievements. My feats of strength. I ain’t gonna dog on his rap sheet. I sure as shit ain’t gonna undermine him but I am gonna use him as a stepping stone to put my ass from here…to right here.”
She motions a hand right about chest level then brings it up above her head before slapping Chloe the shillelagh into her hand again.
Morgan Payne: “Adrien, anno ya been scouting me too for dis tournament. Ya ain’t stupid. Ya got too many damn accolades to be. You know dat *I* know about why you have your nickname. Ahnno dat *you* prolly know dat when da bells rings? I’m comin’ for them legs.”
Morgan giggles wickedly, waving Chloe in front of her. She suddenly looks down at the weapon and brings her out of frame.
Morgan Payne: “Oh, Chloe? Nah, she ain’t gettin’ involved. I dun need her to do damage. She gon’ watch from da corner. On my word. I’mma pick you apart wif my hands, A.C. Twist them fuckin’ legs up like a pretzel until I hear somethin’ go snap, crackle, pop. Rice Krispies bitch. While we’re at it? I seem t’recall ya sayin’ somethin’ like ‘break mine, not hers’ when I threatened t’break ya wife’s fingers for trynna be tough and slap my friend in the face.”
Morgan lifts her eyes upwards and brings Chloe to her chin in thought. Her hetero chromatic eyes shift around as she pouts her bottom lip out like she’s thinking really hard on something. She finally nods and looks back to the camera.
Morgan Payne: “…Yeah, I can do dat. No problema. Jus’ remember, you asked for alla dis when you and Balmer get eliminated and ya need to get put back together by da docs like a fuckin’ jigsaw puzzle. Then lessee if Everalda’s ass wants t’come and try an’ slap me. I bet her ass won’t, because I’ll dismantle her sorry ass just like I’mma do you. See yins, in da ring.”
Before Elaine Bryant can speak again, Morgan turns on her and taps her on the shoulder with her shillelagh.
Morgan Payne: “You see Rooster cluckin’ arahnd anywhere, tell ‘im I’m at da curtain.”
Morgan abruptly walks off frame, leaving Elaine Bryant to just look at the camera and shrug.
“So here we are.”
The first thing the camera sees is a smile. This wasn’t a smug smile nor was it a fake one. This was a genuine, pleased smile. The smile belonged to the current HYBRID Evolution Champion, the Dropkick King himself. Adrien Cochrane smiles as he takes a seat in front of the camera in a simple folding chair.
“We Are SPLAT! Triad Challenge… See, I never like to shy away from seeing what happens when I step into the ring against people from other locker rooms. My entire goal in this industry is to be the best I can be. And sometimes, I have to remember that there are other companies with other great competitors in them. And if a chance presents itself to go toe-to-toe with some of the greats who aren’t contracted with me in HYBRID, I like to go for it. It is why I signed up for and ended up winning the Guerreros of Lucha Super Falcon Cup about a year and some change ago. And that was the mindset I had when I decided to compete in the Triad Challenge.”
The wide smile turns into a small grin. The Dropkick King has on a simple pair of blue jeans and a plaid shirt, checkered in blue and white. The HYBRID Evolution Championship belt rests on his lap.
“So who am I, you all wonder? Well, I don’t really have to explain who I am to my opponents. The luck of the draw works like that sometimes. But Jan van der Roost knows who I am. Morgan Payne knows who I am. For better or for worse, my opponents are both very familiar with me. Morgan Payne even happens to share a locker room with me over in HYBRID. But I’ll introduce myself to those of you who don’t share that knowledge. My name is Adrien. I’m married with two kids. Some people call me the Dropkick King. It’s a moniker that got a lot of steam about eight years ago and stuck with me. I’ve won the top championship in four different companies, and I am the only original member left of a stable called the Guardians. I’m from New Orleans, and I’m thirty-three years old. That covers the basics, right?”
Cochrane chuckles. It feels silly to give a basic biography but Adrien knew there were a lot of viewers who didn’t know who he was.
“So this brings me to my opponents. I’m going to start with Jan and I’m going to start off by apologizing to Jan. I’m sorry that my emotion and fire are not going to be as high speaking about you. And that’s not because you did anything wrong… quite the opposite. You see, I felt overlooked at first when you talked about how you and McLeod have more experience than the rest of the field combined. When I mentioned it, you quickly told me it was no disrespect. And I believe that because, in the years that I’ve known you, I’ve never felt disrespected by you. You’ve always seemed to hold me in a regard that I didn’t see you hold others. And seeing as we’ve never faced off in the ring, before this upcoming battle, I always wondered how I got that from you. We’ve both competed in the same ring but different matches once… I watched your modified ‘I Quit’ match with Ally Gregory in November 2016 at #FSociety Anarchy from the backstage area after I was done facing Starlight. I was actually the #FSociety World Heavyweight Champion at the time. It was the only time we both fought at the same show, but not against one another.
“I always held you in just as high regard. You trained a lot of great competitors, something I tried to do myself with Kenzie Rydell and Adam Sanders. Hell, you trained one of the groomsmen at my wedding, Robbie Rayder. I didn’t get to see peak Rooster in that match in #FSociety. I don’t think you’ve had your peak since we’ve met, but I’ve heard so many stories about the matches you’ve been in. Two hour-long matches are the stuff of legends. And that’s what I want to face. I want a battle! I want the warrior! I want the Jan van der Roost straight from the legendary matches!!”
Cochrane’s eyes light up as he gets a bit excited. His voice was rising, not from anger, but from the energy the prospect of fighting a legend in the business. He takes a second to calm the excitement from his voice
“I know you’re forty-six. I don’t bring up your age as an insult. For your age, you’re still in damn good shape. If I could be where you are in thirteen years, I think I would have called that an accomplishment. You are still future goals, Jan. So this is my ask of you, Jan. It’s nothing more than a simple favor.
“Give me everything. Give me everything you’ve got. Fight me like it’s the last time you will ever step in that ring and compete. If that man who fought for two hours is still there, let that Jan van der Roost free. I am going to be across the ring from a legend. There are very few people in this industry who have done what you’ve done, Jan. There’s only a select group of people who could even come close. The We Are SPLAT! people talked about how impressive my resume was when they introduced me in this Triad Challenge, but I’m not even going to try to compare what I have done to what you have done.
“But I do have one advantage. I’m not going to try to completely downplay myself if that’s okay with you. My advantage is that this battle is happening this year. Ten years ago? Jan still in his prime? Against me still, trying to find my way in this business? No contest. You’re taking me down easily. Maybe you tell me that I have a bright future after a clear ass-kicking. I sure hope so anyway. But you’re not the Jan of ten years ago, and I’m not the Adrien of ten years ago either. As previously mentioned, I won four World Titles within the past ten years. I’m still at the top of my game, as evidenced by the fact I’m currently a champion. And while I’m hitting at my prime, you are no longer in yours. With all due respect to the legend, but your last regular employment was at Portland Pro Wrestling in September. And you lost to a move that isn’t that different from my finisher. It’s not unfair to ask if you will have any rust coming into this match.
“Your legacy is set in stone. If you never win another match, you will still go down as one of the greats. My book is still being written. As nice as the past few chapters have been, I still have work to do. That is why I will have to fight with every fiber of my being to be the better man when we battle it out in the ring. When the final bell sounds, I do have one last request. Yes, I know I asked for one of those already, but this is the last one. Promise.”
Adrien gives a warm smile one last time to the camera.
“A handshake. Regardless of the result, I’d like to shake your hand. And thank you for what you have given wrestling. The next time we see each other, I will be trying to dropkick your head off your shoulders so I will say this one last time. Thank you, Jan.”
The smile Adrien has had in varying degrees of size and warmth disappears almost immediately.
“I won’t be thanking your partner though. Perhaps I should because this might be the edge I need. Morgan Payne, you wanted me. You put me on your little list of people in HYBRID you want to take down. This list included Zachary Sears, Eavan Maloney, Casanova English, Coda, Johnny Maverick, Kayla Richards, and Angel Kash. You made me a late add-on. I’ll circle back to that list in just a moment.
“Your main fighting style is based on the discipline of muay Thai. I studied a different discipline of martial art starting in high school, but they did make sure we understood all sorts of different disciplines, and that included muay Thai. It’s a wonder there aren’t more people who study muay Thai in our industry because it actually does translate well into wrestling. It was actually the method of an old tag team partner of mine named Colby Blaine. There’s a lot of precise striking, body control, and conditioning all involved in it. You have the mae mai, which are the major techniques, and the luk mai, which are minor. Everything from kicks, elbows, knees, jabs, parries, blocking, and even chap kho. I’m not going to claim to know the techniques as well as you, Morgan, but I know enough. After all, that’s why you use them, not me.
“Do you know what one of the most important things for a muay Thai fighter when they are fighting? Actually, let’s broaden that… do you know what is one of the most important things for a WRESTLER when they are in the ring? Just one word. Five letters.
The HYBRID Evolution Champion points to his head.
“You have to be in control here. Because do you know what five-letter word you’re more known for than focus? Anger. You have been in this industry for three years and that is the reputation you’ve developed. You’ve shown that time and time again. Hell, your last match before me recording this video was you losing to a roll-up to Sir Figgles because you wanted to get into an argument with a referee about an illegal eye gouge.
“So what happens when you lose focus in the ring… other than roll-ups? Those precise shots you try to take on the body? Sometimes, the aim will be off. That perfect body control? Maybe your hip doesn’t move the way you’re supposed to move it or your legs aren’t in the right position. Execution is the name of the game and you have to focus to make sure you execute each and every move perfectly. If you get sloppy for just one second, your opponent has an opening to turn the page. And you can’t focus if you’re blinded by anger and rage. That doesn’t get you to the top of the mountain, only taking a tumble down the hill.
“That list you put out. The one of all the people you want to defeat. I want you to look at the list and I want you to find three names that have something that the others do not. You have three singles champions on that list. Kayla Richards currently holds the top belt, and your list was published the day she won the belt. Johnny Maverick has the Fusion Title, which I know you’re going to say he didn’t then, but Casanova English did so you still had the Fusion Champion on your list. And then you included me.”
Adrien lifts the title belt off his lap for a moment to show it to the camera. The gold glistens in with HYBRID WRESTLING written on the top and EVOLUTION CHAMPIONSHIP in the middle. On the bottom was a nameplate reading Adrien’s name.
“While I applaud the desire to get the top competition you can get, you have to understand that wrestling isn’t a buffet. You can’t just walk up with an empty plate, get a little bit of this champion, a little of that champion. It’s more like a mountain range. You pick a mountain and you climb that mountain. You don’t go after every champion at once. You fight the battles as they come to you as an opportunity comes for you to be face-to-face with a champion. And you take the title, and you show everyone what holding that title is all about. You show them how tough you are. You show them how ferocious you are. You show them what it truly means to be a champion. And when your reign is done, you have no regrets and you climb the next mountain. But for you to make it up that mountain, you have to focus. You can’t climb Everest and K2 at the same time.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say this wasn’t personal. This battle between me and you, Morgan… it has a lot of personal feelings involved on both sides. When I was hospitalized in an attack and when you took part in an attack that hospitalized one of my teammates, you criticized anyone that stood up for me or him. However, when my wife slaps someone who came in during an interview… and I tried to de-escalate the situation as best I could once I realized that slap happened, you start talking about breaking the fingers of a non-wrestling competitor.
“Let’s make one thing clear and I’ll speak slowly and enunciate every word for you so you can get this through your stubborn head: PEOPLE OTHER THAN YOUR FRIENDS CAN BE STOOD UP FOR. Because you can start threatening Adam Sanders for defending me. You can tweet about ‘Fuck Josh’s ankle’ because it doesn’t matter to you. Well, it matters to me. And case and point, when that slap occurred and I removed my wife from the room to stop anything else from happening, the first thing I did when I turned to Kenzie was I offered her an ice pack.
“I don’t expect everyone to share my kindness with the rest of the world. I’ve been doing this long enough to know this isn’t the industry for that. It’s an unrealistic expectation. But what I do expect from each other is respecting what the other has done. You barked at my manager months ago that I call myself ‘the Dropkick King’ and that you know a lot of people who do a lot of fantastic dropkicks. Fun fact: I actually didn’t come up with that nickname. Back in 2012, while you were still unable to purchase R-rated movies, I was wrestling in a company called Premium Championship Wrestling. I had a different manager back then named Richelle Ross. She actually coined the name because she thought the dropkicks I did back then were mesmerizing. And she liked the way the K from dropkick flowed into the K in king. When I was learning how to make it in this industry, do you know how my trainer, Ryan Corey, would start off my regimen? One hundred dropkicks. Every morning. This didn’t happen from some sort of birthright. I worked my ass off to be where I am. And the results should be evident, right?
“Not to you. Because clearly, you’ve never watched what happens when someone dropkicks me in a match. You’ve never seen Chris Marks have his career ended by a dropkick off a steel cell. I guess, in your eyes, four World Titles just fell on my lap. Because, you know…”
Adrien does finger quotes with the ending of that sentence.
“… I’m not in your circle.”
Adrien holds both hands to shoulder level with the palms up, an expression commonly used as an emoji.
“Let’s think about that for a second. Since the formation of the Kingdom, a group that has consisted of you, Jasmine Matthews, Sativa Nevaeh, Lluvia Cane, the Fiery Christina, and the Icy Lilith. And formerly Timothy Hunt as well. I have faced four of you, two of which had titles on the line. I fought Christina, Lilith, Jasmine, and Timothy. I know Tim is a former member, but he was a current member at the time of our match.
“Here’s the secret, Morgan: I’m undefeated fighting the Kingdom. All of those names? Lost to me. It was after your leader stepped into the ring with my belt on the line and she failed to beat me that prompted you to add me to your list. This was my personal revenge for what happened to my friend and this is how I get revenge. Not by hospitalization. Not by getting someone backstage. No, I get revenge between the ropes. I get revenge with a referee and a bell. I get revenge by showing anyone who thinks they can do whatever the hell they want to me and my friends by showing them what I’m made of when the competition starts. I’m not in this industry for the sick pleasure of hurting people. I’m in this industry because of my drive to be the absolute best I can be, and I will work my ass off every day and every night to get to the top of that mountain. The journey is never done. Four World Titles, a Hall of Fame induction, several tag and secondary titles, and a tournament cup… they aren’t enough yet. I can do better. I can be better. And I will show you just how much better I can be than I was the previous day, Morgan.
“Do you know what #Believe is all about? It’s the belief in my own skill and heart. It means that I have the ability to win any match, not necessarily every match. But I have a chance every time I step into the ring. I’ve won handicap matches. I’ve been the last man standing in team elimination matches where I was outnumbered more than once. I’ve been given no chance by so many people in this industry only to be the one holding the big gold belt when the final bell rang. I’ve spent so many years being the underdog and so many years being told that I can’t do this or can’t do that or am not good enough to be this or that. I was underestimated for so long and fought with this chip on my shoulder that suddenly, people stopped underestimating me. I was no longer the underdog but this guy people saw the wins and titles and they took me seriously. And I admit, maybe I’ve lost that chip on my shoulder.
“Not this time. You’ve metaphorically spat in my face. You’ve taken your position on me all before ever actually holding a conversation with me and ever knowing who the hell I am. And for that, I will give you a lesson for you to take with you when you leave this Triad Challenge. Don’t ever discount any opponent. Don’t ever underrate anyone you’ve never been in the ring with. You have all this talent and all this skill and the only thing stopping you from reaching that next level is honestly all up here, Morgan.”
The HYBRID Evolution Champion points to his head once more.
“With a different mindset and a change in attitude… and perhaps some control over your temper, you could be so great. You could be one of the best. But you’re not there yet. And who knows, maybe you will be soon. Maybe this match gives you something that turns you into one of the greatest of your generation. I’ve been doing this for fifteen years… since you were just nine or ten years old, Morgan… and it took some tough lessons in the ring to get me to where I am today. But I had to stop making excuses. I had to take responsibility for what happened in the ring. I have to be accountable for the mistakes I make. I don’t think you do that. Everything is always someone else’s fault and anyone who isn’t on your side is wrong and not worth anything. Once again, that’s not how this works.
“Want to prove me wrong? Do it in the ring. Not on Twitter by telling me you’re going to break my wife’s fingers. Not by going six against three on an entrance ramp. No Kingdom. We have our randomly drawn tag team partners. Prove you’re better than me, Morgan. Prove you have what it takes. Prove that you can beat me in a FIGHT.
“And if you can’t? Then your words, your anger, your threats are nothing but words.”
The Dropkick King moves off the topic of Morgan Payne and gives another warm smile.
“Aiden Balmer… I know you made your intentions very clear. You want to get through round one so that you can homicide me. That’s fine. I need you wanting this victory as much as I want it. You’re used to working in a unit with No Vacancy as much as I am with the Guardians. Hell, you’re actually a Tag Team Champion right now in Alpha Pro and it’s not even your first time with the belt. Your skillset differs from mine, you’re young, and you’re motivated. You want to homicide me next round? Let’s get us there. If we don’t win against Payne and Rooster, there is no round two for us. You’re going to have to earn your homiciding of me, man.
“But do not worry because I want this badly for you. I want you to get to round two, Aiden. I want you to have your chance in the ring with me, one on one. I didn’t sign up for this Triad Challenge to be a one-and-done. I’m going to help you to the best of my ability to get past this tag team stage.
“Once we finish that, then we can focus on being opponents. And I’ll cover a lot more ground with you once that happens. For right now, our only focus should be round one. I’m going to give this match everything I’ve got, Aiden Balmer. You can BELIEVE that, sir.”
Water drips from the ceiling above Aiden Balmer as he lowers into a steel folding chair, his ALPHA Wrestling World Tag Team Championship on his shoulder. He chuckles as he shakes his head, looking into the camera.
“You’ve really fucked up giving me this opportunity to perform, you know that, right?”
Aiden lets out another dark chuckle before he continues.
“The Triad Challenge. Two persons team up, assigned randomly, and go head-to-head with other teams randomly assigned. In this case, I’ve got a rather notable veteran backing me up against a veteran and a relative newcomer. I’ve been ’round the block as a tag team wrestler, I’ve won championships pretty much wherever I’ve brought my units. This is…slightly different, but only in as much as a competition is a means to an end rather than a championship match. Myself and Adrien, we’re two different people, you know? We’re two different cats from two different cradles, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get along.”
Balmer wears a half-cocky smile.
“Morgan Payne, Jan Van Der Roost, you two are fucked, plain and simple. You can bring all the fight you want, but I’ve got a trained and talented killer on my side. Morgan, Adrien’s got a bone to pick with you, and I know all about how you get. Hothead, little spunky fuckin’ thing, but muster all the strength you can, you won’t be able to avoid the lariat I throw that ends your entire fucking night. You’ve got a whole little collective of submissions that you’ve threatened to use not just on my partner, but on others around him as well, and I don’t fuck with that. ‘Evil’ as I am, I’ve never threatened a non-combatant, and I’m lookin’ forward to using my strength to show you what a horrid idea that was.
And Jan…ol’ vet. Good ol’ boy in the business. You and I could not be at more different sides of the spectrum. You’re on your way out, I’m on my way in. You’re lookin’ for a twilight showdown, I’m lookin’ for my sun to rise. You’re a meal ticket, Jan. I’ve got the tag team gold, but to put away a wrestler like yourself in my first match on a massive stage like this one? That’d just be,” Balmer pauses, and makes a ‘chef’s kiss’ hand gesture, “the tip of the fuckin’ iceberg, Jan. I’m glad you’ve been matched up with me, it’s just so noble for a man of your stature to put over the new kid comin’ up.”
Balmer chuckles once more, and looks dead into the camera.
“The Dropkick King and The End are coming. Different boys from different streets, but we’ve got strength on our side, and we will crush those who oppose us. I fuckin’ guarantee it.”
When we return from the commercial break, Elaine and Shelly are back in front of the Triad Challenge logo together.
Elaine Bryant: We have heard from all the competitors in the first match for the upcoming Triad Challenge.
Shelly Marks: Have any picks on who will advance?
As Elaine is about to answer the question…
Suddenly a large cloud of smoke fills the room, as a bright light shines from the right of the ladies. A man falls to the ground as if he was shoved. The light quickly disappears. The man stands up and brushes himself off.
“Where am I?”
The two ladies stand there with a confused look on their faces. The man flips the hood on his shirt down. Revealing the XWF’s own Fuzz. He lets out a slight cough, and continues to brush himself off.”
Fuzz: No seriously where am I?
Shelly: You’re in Nevada….
Elaine: For the Triad Challenge…
Fuzz looks around the room puzzled.
Fuzz: I thought that wasn’t until May? Why the hell am I here now? And why Nevada? Couldn’t set up a studio in LA or something?
Fuzz looks at the two ladies and shrugs.
Fuzz: So what are we doing here over a month early?
Shelly: Wait do you not know what day it is?
Fuzz holds up a finger and pulls out his phone. He begins to furiously tap on the screen. Then starts holding the phone up.
Fuzz: Y’all got WiFi? The signal in here is shit…
Fuzz spins around stationary and each time he turns around the ladies duck. Shelly finally stops him from spinning.
Shelly: I’ll give you the WiFi password as soon as we are done. Okay?
Elaine steps off to the side as the camera focuses on Fuzz and Shelly. She nods at the camera and begins.
Shelly: Ladies and gentlemen, I am here with the XWF’s very own Fuzz.
Fuzz is staring off into the void. Seemingly not paying any attention.
Fuzz shakes his head and looks at Shelly puzzled.
Shelly: We are here to talk about the Triad Challenge…
Fuzz: Right…. right. My bad. I was thinking… How many taco joints are there here?
Shelly: I fail to see how that’s relevant…
Fuzz: I fail to see how it’s not, not relevant. After victories that’s where we like to go. If there isn’t a good Taco joint everything will be wrong.
Shelly: Oh so you mean your partner…
Fuzz: I don’t know who that is…
Shelly: Are you stupid?
Fuzz: No! I thought this was like a Secret Santa thing, and I wouldn’t know my partner or opponents until the day of….
Shelly takes her hand and rubs the bridge of her nose. She takes a deep breath and puts on a clearly fake smile.
Shelly: So you’re telling me you’ve done absolutely no research for your match?
Shelly: Would you like to know who you’re facing?
Fuzz scrunches his face and shrugs.
Fuzz: I mean…. Does it even matter? I had one goal when I signed up for this thing. I was going to walk into this blind and watch each and every one of them fall to my feet. When this whole thing was announced… I was the first one to sign up. I didn’t wait to see who else was in this thing. I knew then, what I know now about the field…
Fuzz lazily leans off and then right back to Shelly.
Fuzz: What I knew about the field was that there were only really two people that I even thought stood a chance against me, and one of them had to unfortunately drop out. Now it’s all smooth sailing to the end. That’s where I’ll deal with Atty, and the rest of you… don’t even register as a blip on my radar.
Shelly: Yes, it was unfortuna…
Fuzz: Right now the #StayInTroubleGang has only one member to represent the gang, and I plan on doing just that. I don’t want or even need to know anything about my opponents, but what they need to do is worry about me. You know the old saying it’s the size of the dog and not the bark?
Shelly: I think you’ve got that backwards…
Fuzz: Right. Well the thing is sometimes it’s the loud ones that you have to worry about in this industry. I am one of those people who love to hear their own voice, and boy do I! I don’t care if Jesus Christ and God were on the other side of the ring, when I walk into the ring all forms of race, creed, or religion are thrown out of the window. There is only one wrestling God, and that’s Mike Best!
Shelly: Mike Best?
Fuzz: Wait hold up…. no I meant…. Me…. Fuzz!
Shelly: I’m pretty sure that’s all I need from you…. good luck tonight…
Fuzz: Not going to need luck, just going to need some tacos….now what’s good about that WiFi password?
Fuzz Smiles and winks at the camera while pulling out his phone, holding it up, and walking down the hall.
EL DIABLO BLANCO
Elaine Brant: Ladies and gentlemen, in just a few short moments I am going to bring out the duo of El Diablo Blanco and Kelly Penkzee-Nelson but before I do I need to let everyone know…
Elaine squints to look at one of her notecards that were handed to her moments before recording started.
Elaine Brant: Doesn’t quite seem right but I need to let everyone know the following interview is sponsored by Taco Bell: Home of the Flamin’ Diablo Burrito. “In a world of uncertainty, don’t be afraid to Live Mas.” In my years as an interviewer I’ve never seen a single interview spot sponsored by a fast food company. Anyways, first I would like to introduce you to one half of our next tag team. He calls himself a rookie despite backyard wrestling for the past 20 years. You can see him work in Blood and Sports Promotions as well as EPIC. At this time, let’s welcome El Diablo Blanco.
El Diablo Blanco walks onto the set taking position just to the left of Elaine Brant. Clad in his typical wrestling gear of a sleeveless compression shirt, Zubaz pants and no shoes, El Diablo is certainly a spectacle unto himself; and we’re not even bringing up that no one has seen El Diablo without his mask. Grasped in his hand is none other than a burrito wrapped in a Taco Bell wrapper.
El Diablo Blanco: Elaine Brant, I just want to start off by saying thank you to all my Little Diablitos out there and to the entire Diablo Nation. Without their continued support you wouldn’t be seeing me out there each and every week risking my life as only I can do. Can you dig it, Brother… um, I mean Sister?
Elaine Brant: You certainly are one to put your life on the line; especially from what we’ve recently come to see of you in EPIC. Before we get into that Mr. Blanco, I’ve got to ask you something. What’s with the burrito? Are you the one behind this Taco Bell sponsorship?
El Diablo Blanco: Mr. Blanco’s my father’s name, Sister. Well, not really. His name was Norm but you can call me Diablo, Sister. As for this delicious succulent burrito I’ve got in my hand right here. This is none other than the brand new Flamin’ Diablo Burrito sold exclusively at Taco Bell. It’s jam packed with all your typical accoutrements you’ve come to love in a burrito enhanced by the deliciousness of Flaming Hot Cheetos, oozing nacho cheese and EXTRA DIABLO SAUCE. Get yours today.
El Diablo Blanco takes a bite from the burrito and sticks a thumbs up to the camera. Just then, a stagehand comes by and takes the burrito from El Diablo.
El Diablo Blanco: You got to understand, Sister. I’ve got kids. I’ve got bills. I’ve got to provide that sweet sweet dinero and only recently El Diablo Blanco has become the spokesman for Taco Bell so each and every time I go out to that ring I’m going to encourage the entire Diablo Nation to Live Mas. Got that, Sister?
Wide eyed, Elaine Brant can’t quite wrap her head around what just took place. Instead of engaging further, she switches gears to bring out El Diablo Blanco’s tag team partner.
Elaine Brant: Ladies and Gentlemen, let me welcome you El Diablo Blanco’s tag team partner. She is a part of Five Boroughs Wrestling and a world class traveler competing in WWR, Trinity Wrestling and CKP Wrestling. . She’s wrestled in many countries during her career against men and women. Most importantly, she’s body positive and will put anyone down who attacks her for that. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome, Kelly Penzkee-Nelson.
The tall blonde from New York City walks in and greets her tag team partner on the set. She looks at Elaine with a nod.
Elaine Brant: Kelly, welcome to the set. How are you feeling today?
Kelly looks at her with a smile.
Kelly Penkzee-Nelson: I’m doing good today. Elaine. Thanks for asking, but please, call me “KPN” for short.
Elaine Brant: Alright, KPN it is. It seems that you two are a bit of international flavor. How does it feel to team up with El Diablo Blanco?
She looks at him before turning back to Elaine with a smirk on her face.
KPN: It’s a true honor to team up with El Diablo Blanco. 20 years of experience with me having at least seven years. So combined, that’s 27. It’s not often I get to team up with a legend like him, who’s been through it all despite calling himself a rookie, but I’m sure everyone wants to know who I am.
KPN looks at the camera.
KPN: See, I’ve seen it all during wrestling. I’ve seen people get hurt, people break down, and people cry because they wanted to get their names known. Most go down, but most stay up, that’s what I did during my time.
She keeps her eye on.
KPN: Many people in Girl Power Wrestling just thought I was all mouth and didn’t back it up, but they realized when they released me, I made myself a household name in CKP. I’m a Women’s Champion, tag and singles. I made myself a household name. Same thing with Trinity, and the same thing with 5BW, and the same thing in WWR, I made myself a name.
She looks at her tag team partner for the tournament.
KPN: And in this tournament, I will do the same thing.
Elaine Brant: Speaking of which, the both of you are indeed going to be teaming up against Fuzz and Isabella. What are your thoughts going into this match?
El Diablo Blanco: The Triad Challenge is a showcase for all sorts of talent, Sisters. Take our coming up tag match for instance. We’ve got the Fuzz and La Belecista. One’s career is winding down. It’s more or less his swan song, Sister. The Diablo Nation has done their research. The Fuzz apparently isn’t a synonym for the police like we initially thought. No, instead it’s the name of a very egomaniacal man that needs to be ridden of this tournament. He brings forth a bad name upon the great city of Chicago. As a fellow Chicagoan, he represents everything that is wrong with society. It is up to I, El Diablo Blanco, to eliminate him and show that Chicago has a son that they can be proud of. There will be no swan song for the Fuzz-ster. There will only be a first round elimination for the man most recently representing XWF. KPN and I are going to run roughshod over this heathen.
Elaine Brant: And what of La Belecista Isabella?
El Diablo Blanco: Ex-Marine, Sister? I can dig it but you gotta know that it’s not going to carry her through this tournament on merit alone. Nuh uh, not one bit, Sister. Oorah all you like, Sister. While your partner may have the in ring experience your military experience won’t carry you through this one. The Diablo Nation won’t allow it. You see, Sister, I’m a man that likes to take things to an extreme to get the job done. I’m not a man that’s going to systematically go hold for hold in efforts to overcome you. No way, not one iota. I’m a man that’s a bit unpredictable and, if you’ve been tuning in each week, you know I’ve been known to do a few things that aren’t very characteristic of a man that’s mentally stable. I’ve already scoped out the arena tonight, Sister. I’ve located every scaffold, every balcony. I’ve measured every pillar and post twice over for something to launch myself off of. Whether it be you my Belicista or your Fuzzy friend the Little Diablitos are going to tune in tonight and see a show. Can you dig it?
Elaine Brant: And your thoughts, KPN?
KPN: Fuzz reminds me of someone who I retired back in two years ago when I faced off against her in the ring.
She licks her lips.
KPN: This person was a hot shot. Thinking she was hot shit all because she defeated one of my dear friends, who is the current 5BW General Manager and is expecting her first child, for the Fatale Championship in a promotion called “Underground Championship Wrestling” and on top of that, she got my brother, Brian and sister, Angel Crystal, let go from the company. For years, she terrorized until she lost the title, but again, like always, the hot shot has to win and ends up being the TOP champion until the company folded.
She keeps her eyes on Elaine.
KPN: And up until 2018, she thought she can make her way back and take MY SPOT! I was not going to let that happen AT ALL!
She looks at El Diablo Blanco before turning back.
KPN: I see a lot of that in Fuzz. Fuzz, or Fuzzy as my tag team partner called him, which is pretty funny, time is running out and what better wait to put someone like him down once and for all. How long can you go before someone that’s hungry takes your spot? How long can you go before El Diablo and I take that win from you and move on? Now for his partner….
She smirks and shakes her head before speaking again.
KPN: I’m not going to lie. I do respect the Marines and give her props for being in there. However, what makes her think she’s going to get a win over us? A tag team that’s teaming up for the first time and ready to go? Fuzz doesn’t care about her, let’s be honest. He just wants her to fall and suffer. That’s what he’s all about. He doesn’t care about her at all.
She puts her head down, and looks back up looking to Elainie.
KPN: I really feel bad for Isabella, I really do because when El Diablo Blanco and I move on, she wishes that she didn’t end up with a partner like Fuzz. And I’m also going to feel bad for Fuzz to after we both put his ego in check.
She looks at Elanie for a final word.
Elaine Brant: Any final word?
El Diablo Blanco: Tonight’s the night that El Diablo Blanco shows that he belongs, Sister, and that all begins with one match. KPN, I look forward to facing you in the second round, Sister. So round one I know all those Little Diablitos out there are going to be solidly behind you. The entire Diablo Nation will be solidly behind you. Taco Bell will be behind you because we don’t sell extra burritos being eliminated first round. Dig it, Sister?
KPN: It will be an honor facing off against you in the second round when we win this, but first, we have business to take care of and that’s getting rid of Fuzz and Isabella.
KPN adjusts her robe she’s wearing and shakes the hand of El Diablo Blanco.
Shelly Marks: Match three of the first round pits Atara Themis and Mr. Rottentreats against the team of Raven Crowe and Kyle Young. This one has all the makes of being a very interesting encounter. Let’s hear from Mr. Rottentreats.
Static gradually dissipates, revealing a grey vest over a long sleeve, white button up shirt. The slight tan of a lean, and hairy forearm cuts through the static to loosen the grip of a tie. A modest southern drawl cuts through the remaining static. The owner of the accent? A scowling, yet semi-successful promoter in his own right, Vaughn Ronie Jr.; the younger brother and sometimes manager of Mr. Rottentreats.
Vaughn Ronie Jr: “Ladies and Gentlemen, and fans of SPLAT! Talent has come in from far and wide, near and narrow for the Triad Challenge, tonight! Rookies, veterans and in between. In a few moments you’re in for quite the treat!”
Orange and white, argyle paper pops Vaughn Ronie Jr. in the nose; accompanied by the annoying squeal of a noise maker.
Mr. Rottentreats(off camera): “…a ROTTENTREAT!”
The camera pulls back revealing a white vinyl banner behind the Purveyor of RARE Professional Rasslin’ Paraphernalia; the large, bold, black letters read RRS(Ronie’s Rasslin’ Service). Mr. Rottentreats stands slightly off to the side, yet in front of his annoyed, younger brother; the Wicked Clown of WARPED’s back to the camera. The Pagliacci of Professional Wrestling chuckles; his messy, orange mane dancing atop the shoulders and neck area of his orange and white plaid sports coat. VRJ swats the paper away.
Vaughn Ronie Jr: “Personally I’ve been looking forward to tonight since I contacted SPLAT! about the Triad Challenge. What can I say? I’m a fan of unique tournaments. And there’s nothing more unique tha..”
The noise maker squeals once more; popping VRJ in his left eye. Treats rotates his head to the left a bit; revealing the matching eye patch over his left eye.
Mr. Rottentreats: “…the HoliCra…”
VRJ swats away the paper of the noise maker; continuing.
Vaughn Ronie Jr: “…no! Damnit, Treats! Do you want me to do this, or not?!”
A low chortle hits the air; the orange plaid bouncing along. The noise maker pops VRJ in the face yet again.
Mr. Rottentreats: “…or not!”
The chortle morphs into manic laughter. Mr. Rottentreats turns, bouncing with laughter; quick to stop his brother from walking out of frame. A fly buzzes into frame; Treats follows it with his right eye; his shaky voice escaping his dry, cracked lips.
Mr. Rottentreats: “stay RIGHT here, little brother!”
Treats continue; still following the fly with his eye.
Mr. Rottentreats: “I swear, even though she’s merely a Rook-Dog. If this were a tag team tournament, my homie and long-time tag team partner “Dee-Licious” Douglas Divine would be jealous after Atara Themis and I make the competition GO…”
The Clown Prince of The Cravate focus on the fly, smacking his hands together in an attempt to squash the fly.
Mr. Rottentreats: “…SPLAT!”
Treats opens his hands carefully. Anger creeps across the painted face of the clown; he continues.
Mr. Rottentreats: “Alas, it’s not a tag team tournament, is it?! Such a shame we must part ways after burning a witch and sacrificing a Second City Soldier.”
The fly catches Treats’ full attention once more; VRJ continues.
Vaughn Ronie Jr: “Me, I don’t know much about Kyle Young, at least not enough to know his moniker.”
Treats chimes back in.
Mr. Rottentreats: “I do! I know aaallll ABOUT him! And when we lock horns, he’s going to get to know ALL ABOUT ME!”
VRJ pats Treats on the back in a congratulatory; yet sarcastic manner. Treats begins to sing “Getting to Know you” under his breath; VRJ continues.
Vaughn Ronie Jr: “However, what I do know is this, Atara Themis. You and Treats both got the luck of the draw with the first round. I’d hate for either of you to not be able to advance past the first round; due to having to carry someone else. See, the thing people often forget about my older brother here is this. Mr. Rottentreats isn’t just a clown. Nah, he’s an extremely decorated amateur wrestler in his own right. Hell, our old high school dedicated a gymnasium to him, even hung a banner in his honor; as if naming the gym wasn’t enough!”
Continuing to follow the fly with his eye; a bemused Mr. Rottentreats interjects.
Mr. Rottentreats: “Yeah, zip it, Vaughn. You’re starting to sound a bit Al Bundy-ish.”
VRJ scoffs. Excitedly, Treats carries on.
Mr. Rottentreats: “Atara, Aphrodite Incarnate herself! Ya know, ya debuted on Halloween, my birthday! Aside from my wife, my daughter, and the show ‘ol Vaughn here threw for mine and Mandy’s wedding reception; you’re one of the best birthday gifts the wrestling world has ever given me! Brains and skill don’t offen come wrapped in such a beautiful package!”
A creepy grin begins to spread across Mr. Rottentreats’ face; still chasing the fly with his eye.
Mr. Rottentreats: “As for the man that views himself as too above it all to know who the hell I AM! Tell ‘em Junior!”
Treats smacks his brother on the back; the fly getting caught in the breeze of the slap. VRJ begrudgingly goes into full on hype mode.
Vaughn Ronie Jr: “Standing before you is the clown that popped the town! The Clown Prince Of The Cravate, The Harlequin of the Headlock, The Wicked Clown of WARPED!”
Mr. Rottentreats: “I AM WARPED!”
Vaughn Ronie Jr: “The Pagliacci…”
Treats sloppily places his white glove covered hand over his brother’s mouth; shushing him.
Mr. Rottentreats: “DAT’S ENOUGH!”
The clown pulls his sharply dressed younger brother in to the crook of his under arm; hand over his mouth. VRJ’s eyes begin following the fly.
Mr. Rottentreats: As for you Chickadee Flamingo! The Triad Challenge has officially become a Witch Hunt!”
Both Treats and VRJ lock eyes on the fly.
Mr. Rottentreats: “However, yours truly, the Whole F’N Sideshow isn’t going to allow Atty to spark the flames used to burn your creepy ass at the stake. No, we’re simply going to make you and Kyle Young go…”
VRJ shoves his older brother off of him and claps his hand together. Vaughn opens his hands up slowly; revealing the dead fly. Treats one eye rises up over the palm of his younger brother’s left hand.
In Unison: “SPLAT!”
Treats playfully shoves his younger brother; with a piercing guffaw.
Mr. Rottentreats: “DOG DAMNIT! THAT WAS MY FLY!”
Elaine Bryant: I’m about to get a word with Raven Crowe who was a substitute entrant into the tournament. Raven…
Raven was walking by when Elaine stopped her. A look of annoyance crosses her face.
Raven looks at the interviewer with a cold, blank stare.
Raven: “I’m not supposed to be here. I am a late entry, but you see, that’s my advantage over everyone. No one has had a chance to prepare for me. And that should scare everyone.”
She brushes past Elaine.
Shelly Marks: Mr. Young, you were given a last minute replacement in the form of Raven Crowe. Do you believe that you can still win, despite not knowing much of your tag team partner?
Kyle: I always considered that I was adaptable. I’m more than willing to adjust to a new fighter at my side. Although I can admit that it’s a little disconcerting not knowing what she can do and I have to trust her with my back.
Shelly Marks: Any reasoning for that?
Kyle: To be quite honest, Raven’s the wild card. I don’t know much about her, what she can do, how she does in tag team action. However, even with that, I’ll figure a way around her fighting style.
Shelly Marks: Any words about your opponents? You have engaged in a bout of words with them, Mr. Rottentreats especially.
Kyle: All I’ll say is this. They have to be as mismatched a team as myself and Raven. A woman who proclaims herself as a goddess and then a clown that actually thinks he can take us on. He’s already looking past this fight like he thinks we’ll just be a speed bump, Sorry, bud, but you’re about to run smack into a wall.
*He then points to the Triad Challenge logo behind him*
Kyle: I didn’t come all this way to lose in round 1. There’s not a DAMN thing you or Atara can do to stop myself and Raven.
Shelly Marks: Our final first round match features the team of Jazmin Davis and Rick Dickulous taking on the team of War Queen Leah and Bruce McLeod. Once we get to round two, partners will take on each other in order to qualify for the final round and a shot at the Multiuniversal Championship. Let’s hear from our 4th match competitors.
The view fades in to reveal a man in a hooded sweatshirt standing in front of the Triad Challenge logo. He’s alone, not flanked by either of the lovely interviewers chosen for the event. With his head bowed, it’s hard to tell his identity, especially since his torso and most of his face are covered by the dark material. Slowly, he lifts his hands and lowers the hood, revealing a neatly trimmed goatee and mustache, both more silver than anything else. As the hood falls completely, the old, deep scars on his cheeks and his shock of unkempt silver hair are visible in succession, making his identity unmistakable: it’s Bruce McLeod, the oldest wrestler in the competition. A wry smirk curves his lips, a precursor to the sarcasm that’s about to ooze from his lips.
Bruce McLeod: Suppose I’ve gone an’ shot myself in the foot, haven’t I? Eschewing a lovely sidekick tae guide me through the pit an’ pratfalls – aye, that’s gonna cost me some brownie points, no doubt.
He rolls his eyes and it’s clear that although his words are flavored with a Scottish burr, he’s doing his level best to tone it down.
Bruce McLeod: The truth is simpler: I never got back tae the front brass, told them which of the lovelies I’d prefer. The month of March was rough. I found myself out of work, and the new prospects I thought I’d lined up… ach, well… had tae watch as they dried up, one after the other on account of the state of the world these days. Leah reached out tae me early, too. Asked for a meetin’… asked if I wanted tae put our heads together, come up with a bit of a game plan. Aye, she was proactive – give ‘er that. But I was barricaded in my home in Las Vegas for the last few weeks, unable to find three sheets of toilet paper tae rub together, let alone the wherewithal tae venture out an’ leave the side of my lovely wife – she’s pregnant with twins. Our second daughter an’ first son, twenty-six weeks along.
He fishes a cigarette out from behind his ear, slipping it between his lips. He lights it with a wooden match, striking it against his fingernail before bringing it to the tip, taking his time to draw the smoke deep into his lungs. Finally, he exhales sharply, his hollow gaze skittering up to focus on the camera lens once again.
Bruce McLeod: And here I’ve gone off on a tangent already, haven’t even done the introductions.
He flashes a bitter smile, shaking his head.
Bruce McLeod: Am Bruce McLeod. Nae Rick, as was initially listed on the site after the names were drawn. Bodes well, doesn’t it? When you’re so damned insignificant they can’t keep the name straight. I’ve shared the ring with many legends over the years, from a man who called himself Spiral to the former Alpha Pro Wrestling champion Smith Jones. I defeated the talented daughter of the legendary Maria Montez, a woman who was once the tag partner of Jan Van Der Roost. I had the pleasure of my arse handed tae me by Brad Jackson and Shane Sanders. I’ve been at this business for two decades with no trinkets tae show for it. No dust collectors on the mantle save a single tag team championship reign a few years ago.
The awkward silence spills out as McLeod looks away, taking another long haul off the cancer stick between his lips.
Bruce McLeod: This is it, though. This is the last hurrah for the oldest dog. Makes sense I’m teamed with the War Queen herself… against VaJazzleDick.
He rolls his eyes.
Bruce McLeod: Can’t expect a clean, sporting match. Not where a fella like Rick Dickulous is concerned. Aye, lad. The homework was done. What else did I have tae occupy myself during those mandatory weeks in quarantine? Pound for pound, you’ve got me beat. Doesn’t take a genius tae make that connection. In experience, though? In the sheer number of days spent in this pursuit, in the time I’m put in learning as much as I can? Best believe I’ve got the antidote to whatever poison you pick. Best believe with the War Queen in my corner, yer already bested, son.
A sigh escapes his lips, mingling with the purple smoke that drifts towards the low ceiling.
Bruce McLeod: I’ve been asked why I haven’t retired. Why I haven’t given up after all this time, after the bad luck and the abrupt closure of so many promising promotions I’ve worked for.
He taps his temple, that manic gleam back in his eyes.
Bruce McLeod: Know I’m walking dead, livin’ on borrowed time here. Best days’re behind me an’ truth be told, they weren’t all that spectacular. Aye… am well aware of the countdown clock overhead. Can’t see it, but I can hear the lousy ticking, like a damned time bomb. Does the clock stop tonight? Does it end with me pinned in the ring, letting the War Queen down? Does it end with me broken an’ bleedin’ after a little row with a man called Rick Dickulous? Who’s gonna put this old goat out to pasture, hmm? Is it gonna be you, Jazzy?
He falls silent again, looking into the distance as though listening really hard to some inner voice.
Bruce McLeod: Ach, it doesn’t matter. I respect the hell outta everyone in this thing – they’ve all got far more accolades – of course I do. Would be daft not to, aye?
His eyes slide back to the camera, narrowed and intense as those thinned lips purse around the cigarette, dragging one last lungful of smoke in. With a look of disgust, McLeod flicks the cigarette away into the gloom and moves back towards the door.
Bruce McLeod: Last I checked… I’ve got everything to prove out there. Nothin’ tae lose. No reptutation tae tarnish. No laurels tae rest upon. Just these fists of mine…
He clenches them slowly, the tape across his fingers creaking in the sudden silence.
Bruce McLeod: Ready for war. How ’bout you?
WAR QUEEN LEAH
Elaine Bryant stands with Leah, already dressed in her ring gear, has a Kwonspiracy shirt prominently on display.
Elaine Brant: I am here with War Queen Leah as she prepares for her first round match, which will take place mere moments from now. The War Queen is no stranger to the Splat! Media family. You can catch her on old replays of Mile High Wrestling, Overpowered Wrestling, she lent her voice on one of the earliest episodes of Kan Tai Panda Adventures and has a prominent role in the upcoming series, Young Heroes in Love. Leah, it’s great to have you.
War Queen Leah: It’s great to be here, Elaine. You know it has been crazy to think how connected I have been with Splat! Media. Tonight, however, is not about what I have done that can be viewed on the streaming service. It’s not about what’s still to come. It has nothing to do with what brought me to this point. It, quite simply, has everything to do with strictly tonight. You put it best saying that The Triad Challenge has brought together some of the deepest talent from all over the country, each representing different promotions, to lay claim to only one winner. As I look around at the field of competitors I can see a vast array of talent. People just in the game, only a few short years being around, twenty plus years of experience training the new wave. Tonight, however, has nothing to do with what you have done, nor what you’re going to do in the future. It has everything to do with how much intestinal fortitude you’ve got in you to persevere not one, not two but three grueling matches to get to the very end.
Elaine Brant: You are one of those competitors and, as we mentioned, coming up shortly you are teaming with The Highlander Bruce McLeod to take on the duo of Jazmin Davis and Rick Dickulous. Thoughts on your partner? Can you two get along?
War Queen Leah: I have no doubt that Mac and I can get along in the first round of this tournament. We’ve got quite a bit in common when it comes to in ring physicality. I’m not afraid to mix it up with anyone and everyone. Much like me, Mac believes in adaptability. You cannot stay complacent in this business. It is forever evolving. Only a few years ago do you honestly think you’d be seeing someone like me in this tournament? Hell naw. Today, we’ve evolved and tonight you’re going to see people of all walks of life coming together to see just who’s the best. Both Mac and I like to scrap it up with our opponents and take the in-ring and out of ring smack talking very seriously. I look forward to the initial partnership, even when it comes down to the two of us when we inevitably face each other in the second round.
Elaine Brant: You mentioned out of ring smack talking. I assume you mean your opponents?
War Queen Leah: While it would seem Jazmin Davis is the soft spoken one of this duo, the lumberjack known as Rick Dickulous is more of a clown outside of the ring than Mr. Rottentreats. I mean, come on, they are more worried about whether to call themselves JazzyDick or DickJazz on Twitter than to take this whole tournament seriously. This is the same man that asks everyone if their mom is single and hot.
Elaine Brant: Many view his antics as a means to throw off opponents when they finally step into the ring with Mr. Dickulous.
War Queen Leah: I’ve run into quite a few people like the one you refer to as Mr. Dickulous. Six foot eleven inches, three hundred seventy eight pounds. A monster in the ring. I’m no idiot. I’m not gonna go in there and try and slam him around. I’m not like my sister, Q, who is infatuated with trying to suplex people three, even four, times bigger than her. It’s called working smart. Besides, he may have the mass but we all know how it got there. HGH, testosterone supplements, supplements, supplements, supplements. We all know what that leads to. Small nodules.
Elaine Brant: I don’t think we can say that here?
War Queen Leah: I’m not talking about that, Elaine. We see where your mind is. Oftentimes these roid heads end up developing nodules in their pecs because the supplements offset their testosterone and increase estrogen levels in males. It leads to surgeries to remove them and eventually breast augmentation. I take one look at Mr. Rick Dickulous and I can tell already that the large frame is nothing more than silicone in all the glamour spots.
Elaine Brant: That’s fairly strong comments about a man that can squash you like a bug.
War Queen Leah: Please, I’m not worried about Rick Dickulous and his affinity to flannel, eh. The man’s not very agile and the way I see things all Mac and I need to do is get him a little pissed off and we can easily get him off his game. It’s called working smart when you have an opponent over twice your size.
Elaine Brant: He isn’t coming into the contest by himself. He will have Jazmin Davis by his side.
War Queen Leah: Don’t get me started, Elaine. Talkin’ All Dat Jazz is better off sticking to her corner and leaving Rick Dickulous to do her dirty work. I don’t care if she’s a second generation wrestler. How often do those actually work out? I don’t care if she’s repped by Iconic Sports Management. You know who I’m repped by? Me. I represent myself because when it comes to tonight’s tournament all that matters is who it is that’s stepping inside that ring. Not your rep, not your mommy or daddy. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is and accept your fate. The Fempire won’t mean shit when she steps inside the ring with the War Queen. Better pray for Prison City season 2 because you get in my way that’s all you’re going to be left with.
Elaine Brant: You certainly aren’t going out of your way to make any friends in this tournament.
War Queen Leah: This tournament ain’t thrown together to make friends. It’s a competition. I’m here to win this whole fucking thing and I’m not afraid to speak my mind. Never have been. Tonight belongs to The War Queen and I’m gonna get what’s mine by any means necessary. Throw me in the Lethal Lottery? Done. Fight my partner? Done. Fatal Four-way Last Person Standing Match? Done. I’m here to persevere and take this whole thing into my possession. Don’t like it? Meet me in the ring and we’ll find out who’s ready for The Endgame. We’re embarking on the Summer of Leah and tonight is the kickoff party. We got that Kwonspiracy watching from home cheering things on. I’m not walking out of here empty handed. Ya feel me?
Elaine Brant: Statement heard loud and clear, Leah. Well, your match is right around the corner. We all know you are known for your hard hitting style. I, for one, cannot wait to see what comes of Leah and Bruce McLeod versus Rick Dickulous and Jazmin Davis.
The War Queen throws up her fist for Elaine to ‘bump it’. She obliges as Leah turns and walks off camera.
We go back to Shelly Marks, “There you have it. We have heard from many of the competitors in the Triad Challenge. Everyone is here and ready for war, including our pre-show match for the evening. Let’s head down to ringside.
Jamey Caresalle: Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Triad Challenge Special match up featuring Five Boroughs Wrestling, based in New York City. I am Jamey Caresalle, one of the commentators in the promotion. Normally, Bimmy Mays would be with me, but he cannot make it. I will be doing this on my own. Let us take it to 5BW Ringside Announcer, Taylor Hudson for our opening bells.
Taylor Hudson: The following contest is a Triad Challenge showcase match and it is a fatal four way! Introducing first.
Funk 49 by James Gang kicks in as the fans are cheering for this. Out comes Arabella, waving at the fans before skipping to the ring as she is ready to go for this huge match up.
Taylor Hudson: From London, England, Arabella!!
Jamey Caresalle: Arabella has been with 5BW since the beginning of the year. The road’s been a bumpy one for her until she got her first win at May Day. Let’s see if she will keep this momentum going into this match.
Arabella gets into the ring and taunts at the fans as they clap for her. Born to Raise Hell by Motorhead kicks in as the fans are booing for this. Out comes Christy Winters, wearing a dark navy “Winters Headquarters” top as she walks to the ring.
Taylor Hudson: From Long Beach, California, Christy Winters!!
Jamey Caresalle: One of 5BW Most Controversial stars in the company, Christy Winters. While many people question WHY she is here, I personally believe that she’s earned her spot no matter what I think of her. Winning this match up will do wonders for her and put her in a high spot.
Christy gets in the ring and eyes Arabella with the referee eyeing at her. She takes off her top, to reveal a navy sports bra and looks at Arabella. Angel Eyes by New Years Day kicks in as the fans are cheering for her. She gives some fans high fives.
Taylor Hudson: From Wildwood, New Jersey, Hayley Fien!!
Jamey Caresalle: Hayley Fien, one of the 5BW Originals and the first person to have a match in our company, was trained under Sarah McC and my long-time best friend, Meagan G. I know according to Sarah, Hayley wants to prove that she’s not all about looking at “certain things”.
Hayley looks at Arabella and Christy while looking at the fans. She goes into the other side of the corner as the last person comes out of the back. Drop Dead Cynical by Amaranthe kicks in with the fans booing for this as Bridget Johnson comes out and blows past the fans, who are booing at her.
Taylor Hudson: Finally, from Tampa, Florida, “The Golden Child” Bridget Johnson!
Jamey Caresalle: As Much as I want to say a lot of negative things about this one, Bridget Johnson, who is Larissa Johnson’s sister, caused a lot of controversy within 5BW. Despite that, she has been a thorn in the side of Kelly Penkzee-Nelson, who happens to be in the Triad Challenge, and you will see her later tonight.
Bridget rolls into the ring and taunts at everyone. She says that she is going to be kicking everyone’s ass in the ring and that she is going to make herself the BIGGEST name out there. The bells ring with all four girls looking at each other to see who will make the first move on someone.
The match starts with Bridget Johnson yelling that she is better than Arabella, Hayley and especially Christy Winters, who does not do ANYTHING here. The fans are booing at her while she is taunting. The rest of the girls go right after Bridget making the fans cheering for this as they gang up on her, but Christy Winters pushes Hayley on the ground and starts battling Arabella, who she defeated back a couple of weeks ago. Arabella and Christy are throwing hands while Hayley Fien gets back up and starts battling with Christy Winters. Arabella shoves Hayley out of the way and says that this is her fight. Arabella Irish whips her into the ropes, but Hayley comes up and clotheslines Arabella right down. The fans are confused with this with Hayley looking at them. She cannot take a minute to reflect because Christy comes up and HITS her in the head. Hayley falls next to Arabella.
Jamey Caresalle: What a brutal shot from Christy Winters!
Christy is taunting at the fans while they boo her. What she does not know is Bridget Johnson is right behind her waving to turn around. Christy keeps on mocking until Bridget grabs her by the mohawk like hair style and tosses her on the ground.
Jamey Caresalle: Just a heads up, anyone that comes to our company and faces off against Bridget Johnson, expect some viciousness to come out of her!
She gets right on top of her and starts punching in her head as the fans are booing for this. Bridget yells that she is nothing and that she BELONGS, but Christy rolls her up in the middle of the ring for the first fall of the night.
Jamey Caresalle: First fall of the night!
Th-Bridget kicks out.
Bridget and Christy get back up to their feet and start throwing hands at each other. The fans are cheering because they want to see one of them get badly hurt. Just then Arabella comes up grabs Bridget to toss her out of the ring. While yelling at Bridget, Christy comes up and tosses Arabella out of the ring. Christy taunts them yet again and turns around, leading to a kick right in the face from Hayley Fien.
Jamey Caresalle: Brutal kick from Hayley Fien!!!
Hayley looks at her sees the fans cheering at her while Christy is down. Hayley sees Arabella and Bridget on the outside and climbs the turnbuckle. She is up to the top and does a crossbody onto them. Hayley, Arabella and Bridget are down with the fans cheering for this.
Jamey Caresalle: Just like she did at the very first show, Hayley Fien shows NO FEAR and what she did just proved it!
Christy Winters is back up yet again with her looking at all three on the outside and thinks of something. She heads up top to the ropes and sees Arabella standing back up. Christy yells and flips her off as she goes to jump but stops because she does not want to give the fans the satisfaction of seeing her do a move.
Jamey Caresalle: Christy Winters does not want to please the fans. She’s made that known in the past!
Arabella comes running back up towards Christy and YANKS her off the turnbuckle. She goes to swing, but Christy moves out of the way, grabs her and tries to go for her finisher. Bridget Johnson comes back in the ring and KICKS her right in the face, making Christy lose her grip of Arabella.
Jamey Caresalle: A Huge kick from Bridget Johnson! She could take this match!
Bridget says that she is going to end this bitch in the ring while having Arabella’s hair in her hands. She goes for her finisher which is a Double Hook Powerbomb. Arabella gets out of it by rolling off her as she goes for a DDT onto Bridget. The fans are cheering as she goes for a pin.
Jamey Caresalle: Arabella goes for the pin and looks to win it!
Th-Hayley breaks it up.
Jamey Caresalle: HAYLEY COMING IN with the save!
Hayley pick up Arabella, goes for her handspring and completes it. She waits for Arabella to stand back up, but suddenly, Christy Winters comes back in the ring and SPITS Whisky right in the face of Hayley Fien! The fans are booing as Hayley moves around before Christy grabs her and goes for the Full Throttle. The fans are booing for this as Christy covers Hayley with the referee counting.
Taylor Hudson: Here is your winner, Christy Winters!!!
Christy Winters stands up and raises her hand in the air. The fans are booing at her as she stands over Hayley Fien and taunts at her before rolling out of the ring. She jaw-jacks most of the fans before flipping everyone off, before looking into the camera.
Christy Winters: I proved EVERYONE that I belong in this company! I do not give a fuck what anything thinks of me! This is a warning, especially to ANYONE that’s World Champion after Vendetta!!
Christy flips off the camera before walking to the back. Hayley is getting water in her face while Arabella looks disappointed in this loss and Bridget does not look happy.
Jamey Caresalle: Whether most of the 5BW Fans like it or not, Christy Winters wins this contest and makes a statement to whoever our champion is AFTER Vendetta where Samantha Tolson-Anderson and Luciana Verdoza will be going at it in a Devil’s Playground Submission match!
Jamey takes a sip of his water before closing out.
Jamey Caresalle: However, we would like to thank Splat for allowing Five Boroughs Wrestling to take part in this! Our next show, Night of Glory will be taking place May 23rd, 2020 at the 5BW Facility in Manhattan, New York and our first anniversary show, Vendetta, taking place at Citi Field on June 21st, 2020. Good Luck to everyone in the Triad!!
Jamey closes off as Taylor and him walk up and shake the hands of the fans.
Back from ringside, Elaine and Shelly are seated. Shelly looks at the camera, “Outside of the finale of the Triad Challenge, the most anticipated match of the evening has to be the Multiuniversal Championship match pitting the current champion, Sierra Silver against the challenge of Angel Kusanagi.
Elaine nods, “That’s right. These two are no strangers to each other, having fought in the finals of the Tournament of Mystery and it didn’t end there as Angel has attacked Sierra on two separate occasions since then. Let’s take a look at the history between Sierra Silver and Angel Kusanagi.
We see the ending of the match where both are masked. It looks like Angel will win, but Sierra makes a comeback and comes off with a senton then pins Angel.
Thea Crawford: There are five minutes remaining. Five minutes.
Angel gets to her feet, showing frustration as she pulls up a bloody and beaten Sierra and out of nowhere Sierra just kicks her in the jaw and second time. She grabs Angel by the hand and nails her with an Eat Defeat. The crowd is chanting for Sierra as she staggers to her feet and goes to the top turnbuckle.
Thea Crawford: Three minutes remaining!
Christine Donahue: Swanton!
Sierra drops right on Angel Kash with a swanton bomb.
Biff Franklin: Cover!
The bell rings as the fans get to their feet.
Thea Crawford: The winner of the match and STILL Splat Multiuniversal Champion, Sierra Silver!!
As her music hits, she staggers to her feet and leans against the ropes as the referee hands her the belt and then goes to check on Kash. Sierra staggers to the center of the ring and holds up the belt.
Biff Franklin: Wait a second here!!
From behind, Angel Kusanagi slides into the ring and whallops Sierra in the back of the head with a chair, dropping her hard to the mat. The crowd begins to boo!
Christine Donahue: Angel Kusanagi knows she has a title shot coming at the Triad Challenge and she’s making a statement right here.
Biff Franklin: She was upset that she lost in that final to Sierra.
Angel pulls up Sierra and drops her with a Boseki Driver. The crowd continues to boo as Angel smirks as she gets to her feet. She walks over and picks up the championship and holds it up as she stands over a fallen Sierra Silver as referees enter the ring to try and get her out. Angel drops the title over Sierra as she exits the ring.
Christine Donahue: She’s not going to be able to nail her from behind at the Triad Challenge.
Elaine Bryant is standing outside the Splat Studios as Sierra Silver exits the building, the Multiuniversal Champion across her shoulder.
Elaine Bryant: Sierra, congratulations on a successful title defense against Keegan Ryan tonight at Havoc Fifteen. Your next opponent will be the woman you faced in the finals at the Tournament of Mystery, Angel Kusanagi. Will you be ready?
As Sierra is about to answer, she is nailed from behind by someone in a hoodie. Sierra sprawls onto the pavement. The figure pulls her up to her feet, then kicks her low and then drives her face first into the side view mirror of a nearby SUV, breaking the mirror off as Sierra falls to the ground.
The hood is pulled down and as most expected, Angel Kusanagi is underneath. She grabs Sierra and throws her onto the hood of the same SUV before moving around the front and climbing on top.
She reaches for Sierra and pulls her up and locks her in before dropping her head first onto the windshield with a Boseki driver, shattering the glass. Angel rolls off the SUV, leaving Sierra where she lay and picks up the championship and looks at it.
“Mine! At Triad. It’s mine!”
She walks over and draps the title over the still body of Silver and then calmly walks away as the scene fades with Elaine getting on her cell phone to call someone for help as she checks on the condition of Sierra Silver.
Elaine Bryant: Angel Kusanagi has been on an absolute terror after the events of the Tournament of Mystery where she came so close to winning the Multiuniversal Championship, but ultimately lost to the eventual champion, Sierra Silver.
Shelly Marks: This is an absolute case of stalking here with the intent to do bodily harm. She’s looking to soften up Sierra so she can take the title tonight at the Triad Challenge.
Elaine Bryant: We are down to seconds before the start of the Triad Challenge and we will not be waiting long because as soon as we start, Round 1 will begin. Thank you for joining us on the Triad Challenge Pre-show. For Shelly Marks and everyone here at Splat, don’t you dare go away because the Triad Challenge begins now.