Within a clearing deep in the woods that surround Eugene we find the two members of Silk & Cyanide standing beside a bonfire, but rather than the usual use of fire to burn symbols of the opponents which they will soon be facing instead they’re merely standing close to a bonfire to keep themselves warm, with Sara Mason holding her hands clad in fingerless gloves as close to the flames as it is possible to get without burning yourself for several seconds before she makes a show of slowly withdrawing them
Sara Mason: What, are you expecting me to play nice with the locals?
Snapping off one of the gloves and shoving it into the pocket of her leather jacket, Mason gives a scornful look in the camera’s direction
Sara Mason: I don’t blame you for being dumb enough to expect that, as I’m sure anyone with access to Google Maps will have figured out that I hail from an hour or so’s drive north from here, so they’d expect me to be all smiles and waves for as close to home as we can get.
With a roll of the eyes, Mason makes it clear that ain’t happening – and when she spits into the flames, it becomes obvious that playing friendly isn’t on the cards
Sara Mason: My parents banged a few miles from here, so what? That doesn’t make me proud of where I’m from, it just means there’s a couple of letters on my driver’s license. Oh I was born near here, raised near here, grew up near here, and that means I have a lot of memories of growing up near here. And let me spell out what those memories were: spending every single day being told that being different made me the object of mockery, someone to be shunned and laughed at, and nobody gave a goddamn about it because there were a bunch of cute little euphemisms that allowed people to think I somehow deserved it as I didn’t fit – and they wielded those like a weapon when I pushed back.
Snapping off the other glove and allowing it to drop to the ground, Mason Kubrick stares towards the camera
Sara Mason: But, on the off chance that one of those people wants to pretend they’re my new best friend because people know who I am, I invite them to come pay the two of us a visit this evening so I can pass on every last crumb of experience to them. Every. Last. One.
The look in Mason’s eyes makes it obvious that she’s not talking about sharing road stories
Sara Mason: But let’s not dwell on what’s been done in the past, especially what I have done in the past at the expense of those same people, and let’s talk about what’s to be done in short order this evening.
Pausing for a moment, Mason looks to the treetops for inspiration…and then can’t be bothered to think of a single thing to say, so instead simply picks her glove off the ground and walks away, leaving Erin Mariani to say her piece
Erin Mariani: Manners. Manners maketh man, that is a phrase that is so simple yet one so easily forgotten, considering that this evening’s pleasure will be at the expense of a pairing who share the manners given to the common dog. The difference is that the common dog at least understands that, when it is told to be quiet and behave, that following such an instruction is in its best interest. This evening we will be decimating a pair who fail to grasp this, as they believe that mocking their superiors puts them on the same level as us, as opposed to giving us reason to assist them in digging the ditch that their careers wallow in a few feet deeper. Perhaps deep enough that nobody can hear them when they desperately plead for attention.
Sliding her vape pen out of the pocket of her long coat, Mariani is in no hurry as she takes a deep drag of Cerise Groseille-scented vapour, allowing it to fill her lungs before she exhales a cloud into the woods surrounding her, paying little attention to the concept that she has a match this evening
Erin Mariani: It would be so easy for me to list a string of punishments and humiliations that lie in store, but it occurs to me that there is little point in doing so as the time it will take to do so will likely be longer than the period of time it will take for us to dispose of what’s waiting for us in the ring, and there are far more important things to waste oxygen upon than stating the obvious, for example…
Mariani holds up her vaping pen between two blood red-painted fingers, her expression not changing as much as a millimetre as she does so
Erin Mariani: The one benefit for this evening is that, provided that our “match” takes place early enough, it is certainly feasible that I will be able to catch a late flight and be back in my own home before the day is done, and the only reason this would not be the case is if I feel it necessary to prolong their suffering in order to make an example. So that is the question: am I in a generous mood this evening, or am I in a generous mood? The answer? It will not take you long before you have it.
The second that Mariani has finished speaking is the very second where she snaps around on her heels and walks out of shot in the same direction that Mason did, leaving the bonfire unattended as she departs...
Our scene open up in the backstage corridor area, seemingly inconspicuously focused on a single door that leads to a side exit. Through a rectangular window in the steel door, we catch a brief glimpse of the FGA production truck, but that’s hardly our focus. The door swing open and a security guard, standing roughly six-foot-two and sporting a bushy hairstyle moves through the door. He glances around before he sighs and boredy shouts out the door.
Security Guard Uno: All clear.
Immediately, bursting into frame, clad in a denim jacket, oversized sunglasses and a black hat is Ashlyn De Luca, immediately greeted to boos from the live audience. De Luca pulls her shades down just a bit to shoot an annoyed look to the security guard.
Ashlyn De Luca: Jesus Christ-- way to leave us in suspense here.
A second security guard, slightly younger with a shaved head, follows De Luca into the room and pulls the door shut behind them. De Luca leads the way around the corner and down the corridor, speaking to both guards behind her as she walks.
Ashlyn De Luca: So the plan is to come in, do this interview, and get the hell out without having any of these goons touch me, or cough at me, or--
De Luca freezes in her tracks and immediately removes her sunglasses, frowning as she observes something blocking her path. The security guards behind her don’t look wildly impressed either.
Ashlyn De Luca: Ew. This is exactly what I mean. We need to avoid stuff like this.
Our camera swings around-- and reveals Nando Fresno: Alien Hunter and Jillian Clay to a roar from the Eugene, Oregon audience! Jillian gives Ashlyn a look of unfiltered disgust, though Fresno seems a bit more calm, raising a brow at De Luca as he wraps black tape around his wrist.
Nando Fresno: Mature as ever. Nice to see you too.
Nando slaps the tape securely against his wrist before nodding his head to the members of security with a look of curiosity.
Nando Fresno: Hired personal security to protect you against the champ? That’s… a unique move.
Ashlyn De Luca: Um, no, you absolute disease. These guys are just here to make sure none of these sickly, gangly fans try to get their feelers on me before the big match. Not like YOU GUYS would know anything about this but when you’re at the prime of your career, challenging for the International Heavyweight Championship, you have a responsibility to take extra precautions. Again-- the concept is basically foreign to you guys-- but we’re in a transitional period aaand you’re literally existing in the presence of the new face of FGA…
Ashlyn’s eyes light up and travel toward the heavens
Ashlyn De Luca: ...De Lucz… the choice of a new generation.
Nando and Jill exchange amused smirks. Ashlyn lowers her gaze toward the Saturnian Connection again. She scoffs as she looks between the two of them.
Ashlyn De Luca: Cute. Sure-- laugh and smirk now. Whatever. But it’s only funny until I’m right. Hmph.
She turns her nose up and continues forward, forcing the tag team to part as she treks down the corridor. The younger security guard follows promptly, though the older one mumbles under his breath, trailing behind with a dejected look. Nando chuckles to his breath and shakes his head, turning back to Jill.
Nando Fresno: God. What a rube.
Nando Fresno: Whatever. You ready to go wino hunting?
Jill nods a bit, but sighs, looking at Fresno with a troubled expression.
Jillian Clay: We should call them something more dignified than “winos.” We haven’t earned it. Silk & Cyanide are champions.
Nando Fresno: They barely--
Jillian Clay: --regardless of your opinion, they are champions. I don’t want to jinx this. If we go out there and win the match then maybe I’ll feel less nervous about you openly calling them… names.
Nando Fresno: Superstition, Jill? Disgusting.
Jillian Clay: Maybe we approach them with some measure of respect.
The alien hunter looks visibly annoyed by Clay’s words.
Nando Fresno: Who said I didn’t respect winos? My grandfather was a perfectly functioning alcoh--
Jillian jabs Nando in the arm.
Nando Fresno: Fine. Fine. We’ll go out there and we’ll get this done. Like professionals.
Jillian smiles in response, giving Nando a considerably lighter jab to the arm before leading the way down the corridor. Nando follows behind, though the camera captures one last exchange before the duo rounds the corner.
Nando Fresno: You know they call us way worse though.
We cut away from the empty corridor.
The scene switches to the back where FGA intrepid interviewer Jessie Pederson is standing by outside the locker room of Ashley Marie Chase. She knocks on the door and AMC opens it and stares at Jessie.
Jessie Pederson: Ashley Chase, I was wondering if I could get a word with you about what happened last week?
AMC just stares at Jessie without saying a word and then slams the door shut.
Jessie Pederson: Well it looks like AMC is not in the mood to talk to us so…
Before Jessie can finish her sentence, AMC opens the door and stares at Jessie again before speaking.
Ashley Marie Chase: Last week I came to Ashley Sands’ defense. I talked her up and told the world that she was a fighting champion and that she would never just lay down for anybody.
AMC grits her teeth.
Ashley Marie Chase: I told the world that Ashley Sands was good but then she gets all pissy because god forbid I challenge her for her title.
AMC seemingly gets more agitated as the interview continues.
Jessie Pederson: I don’t think it was the challenge that got her all worked up. I think it was the way you….
Ashley Marie Chase: SHUT UP!!!
AMC yelling startles Jessie, who jumps back slightly.
Ashley Marie Chase: I challenged Ashley Sands to a title match and stated my reason for doing so. I PINNED her in that tag match, I didn’t pin that jackass Mark Bisley. I pinned Ashley Sands aka the champ! That is when Lesser Ashley got all pissy and started with the name calling and started getting all defensive.
AMC starts pacing around
Ashley Marie Chase: Apparently, Lesser Ashley doesn’t like to be challenged and I am left to wonder if that is because she is scared? Are you scared Lesser Ashley that I will take your title? After you cost me my match with Seth Iser, I am left to wonder if you are afraid I will eclipse you in FGA.
Jessie Pederson: At the risk of getting yelled at again it appeared to me that Ashley Sands came out to make sure that Mark Bisley didn’t interfere in your match.
AMC glares at Jessie
Ashley Marie Chase: Really? Really? Really? Because I seem to remember not being distracted at all until Ashley Sands showed up and started arguing with Bisley. That is when my attention got diverted for a split second because before she came out I had Iser beat down and was going to pin him and advance. However, that was last week and today is a new day.
AMC smiles for the first time.
Ashley Marie Chase: Today I go to that ring and do what I do best and that is show all why I am Ashley #1. Tonight I kick Ashley #2’s ass and take that title for myself and then I will deal with Markie Mark in the most violent way possible!
AMC walks back inside her locker room and slams the door in Jessie’s face.
“Satellite” by The Kills plays as both Nando Fresno: Alien Hunter and Jillian Clay bounce off the ropes.
J.A. Aldridge: Ladies and gentlemen, the following tag team contest is scheduled for ONE fall! Introducing first, already in the ring! Weighing in at a total combine weight of 286 pounds, they are the team of Nando Fresno: Alien Hunter and Jillian Clay… THE SATURNIAN CONNECTION!
The arena lights dim as the sound of a woman's laugh heavy with contempt echoes through the arena, which soon segues into the bassline of "She's Gone Away" signals the arrival of Erin Mariani and Sara Mason as the duo slink onto the entrance ramp and pause for a moment, with Mariani looking towards the ring in disgust while Mason looks as if she's waiting for any excuse to start a fight
The pair turn their heads towards one another and share a conspiratorial look before they slowly turn their attention back towards the ring and without a moment's hesitation the pair begin to walk towards the ring, keeping in step with one another and maintaining focus on what they have planned for the sorry individuals that await them
Once the duo reach ringside Mariani climbs the ring steps and climbs the ropes so she's perched with one foot upon the top turnbuckle as she literally looks down upon Her opponent while, at the same time, Mason dives under the bottom rope and slides into the ring and quickly rises to a knee and looks directly towards their entertainment for this evening
J.A. Aldridge: Their opponents, making their way to the ring at a total combined weight of 248 pounds! They are the reigning FGA United States Tag Team Champions! Erin Mariani and Sara Mason… SILK & CY-
The bell sounds when Silk & Cyanide jump The Saturnian Connection as soon as they enter the ring!
Kris Cruise: Silk & Cyanide aren’t wasting any time!
Stephy Auger: Why would they, especially after the way those two punks mouthed off at them last week!
The crowd erupts with boos while Sara Mason & Erin Mariani put the boots to Nando Fresno and Jillian Clay! Mason takes Fresno, runs across the ring and slams him face-first into the top turnbuckle. Mariani takes Clay, delivers a double leg pickup and rams her back-first into the opposite corner! She follows up with multiple shoulder thrusts to the midsection, doubling Clay over. Clay is then trapped in a front facelock before finding herself on the receiving end of multiple knee lifts! Mariani then takes Clay by the hair before throwing her against the turnbuckles! Mariani backs up out of the corner, only to rush forward and catch Clay with a running elbow tackle! After Clay slumps down in the corner, Mariani delivers a running knee strike to the face! Mariani backs up towards the center of the ring, rushes back in and hits Clay with another running knee strike! She then applies a foot choke in the corner while pulling down on the top rope. Across the ring, Mason overwhelms Fresno with a series of palm strikes to the chest, followed by an elbow to the face! After Fresno gets doubled over with a cross chop to the throat, he gets rocked with a headbutt! He starts to stagger out of the corner until Mason grabs him and pushes him back into the corner. Mason then connects with a Salem Slap (palm strike to the face)! Another Salem Slap finds its target! Mason and Mariani turn and face each other. They exchange a knowing nod before running across the ring into opposite corners. Mariani hops onto Fresno before throwing him out of the corner with a monkey flip! Meanwhile, Mason bashes Clay with Blood & Black Lace (high speed running back elbow to an opponent sat in the corner)!
Kris Cruise: Silk & Cyanide have dominated The Saturnian Connection since the opening bell!
Stephy Auger: They wanted to call out the tag team champions? They wanted to question their legitimacy as champions! I think Nando and his little space cadet buddy are finding out the hard way that Silk & Cyanide are, in fact, the real deal!
Mariani makes herself comfortable on the middle rope as she waits for Fresno to get into position. Once Fresno is back on his feet, Mariani leaps off for a diving clothesline! She misses! The crowd cheers when Fresno rolls out of the way, causing Mariani to catch knocking but air! Mariani returns to her feet, turns around and gets caught with a roundhouse kick! Mason rushes over to help Mariani, only to end up getting caught with a roundhouse kick for her troubles. Fresno then bounces off the ropes, comes back and knocks Mariani down with a spinning heel kick! Mason is then caught with a spinning heel kick! Fresno hits the far ropes, comes back and knocks Mariani back down with a running front dropkick! He returns to his feet with a kip up, rushes over and executes a running hurricanrana, sending Mason through the ropes and to the floor. Fresno takes Mariani and goes for an irish whip. But she reverses. When Fresno returns, Mariani goes for a kitchen sink. But Fresno is able to flip over the knee and counter into a schoolboy!
Mariani kicks out.
Kris Cruise: He nearly got her!
Stephy Auger: He did not!
Mariani returns to her feet and gets caught with Holyfield-esque jabs and hooks! Fresno goes to lift her up for a brainbuster, only for Mariani to knee him in the head on the way up. She then takes control of Fresno’s back before driving him down with a half nelson facebuster! Mariani then hits the ropes, rebounds off and lands across Fresno’s back with a handspring moonsault! She pulls Fresno over onto his back before making the cover.
Stephy Auger: Fresno won’t be doing anymore flying around now!
Fresno kicks out.
Kris Cruise: Mariani only got a two count. But you are correct, Stephy. It was wise of Mariani to attack the back of Fresno to not only slow him down, but ground him and keep him from flying across the ring. The Saturnian Connection have the edge in the agility department and Silk & Cyanide have to neutralize that.
Stephy Auger: Giving me credit already? This may not be such a bad show, afterall!
Fresno gets whipped into the corner. Mariani runs across the ring, jumps on top of him and goes to throw him out of the corner with a monkey flip. Somehow, Fresno lands on his feet before hitting the ropes. Instead of coming back, the crowd boos when Mason yanks him down to his feet! Mason drags him to the outside before bringing him down with a one-handed bulldog! Clay then gets in the ring and goes to the aid of Fresno. Mariani tries to cut her off with a running elbow tackle. But Clay ducks the elbow, springboards to the top rope, flips off and knocks Mason down with a moonsault to the outside!
Kris Cruise: OH MY!
Stephy Auger: That little...
As Clay climbs up to the apron, Mariani tries to attack. But Clay is able to cut her off with a shoulder thrust through the ropes. She then climbs up to the top turnbuckle, leaps off and knocks Mariani down with a flying forearm! Clay then positions herself on all fours as Fresno rolls back in. Fresno runs across the ring, uses Clay as a launching pad and tackles Mariani down with a leg lariat! He makes the cover.
Mariani kicks out.
Kris Cruise: Good bit of teamwork there by SatCon!
Stephy Auger: So good that it only netted them a two count.
Kris Cruise: Only a two count, yes. But it got them the momentum back.
Fresno heads over and tags Clay back in. The Saturnian Connection then take Mariani and bring her down with a double spinning arm wrench takedown. Clay follows up with a standing moonsault before making the cover.
Mariani kicks out.
Kris Cruise: Clay returned the favor with a moonsault of her own, but it only got a two count. Stephy, SatCon called into question Silk & Cyanide’s standing as US Tag Champions. If Fresno and Clay get the victory tonight, you would have to imagine that would put them in line for a future championship match.
Stephy Auger: You would think that. Too bad it won’t happen.
Fresno gets tagged back in. The Alien Hunter moves Mariani into the corner and delivers a series of shoulder thrusts before following up with three European Uppercuts. Mariani is then whipped into the far corner before Fresno runs across the ring and delivers a flying corner European Uppercut. After Mariani is lifted up onto the top turnbuckle, Clay gets tagged in. Fresno and Clay then climb up onto the middle ropes before bringing Mariani down with a double superplex! The cheers continue while Clay makes the cover.
Mason dives over and breaks up the pin!
Kris Cruise: Good save there by Mason.
While Mason heads back out to the apron, Clay takes Mariani and brings her back down with a rolling neckbreaker. She goes for the cover.
Mariani gets her shoulder up.
Clay sets up for an irish whip when Mariani reverses. As Clay hits the ropes, the crowd boos when Mason cheap shots her with a knee to the back.
Kris Cruise: Oh come on!
Clay staggers away from the ropes until Mariani runs over and sends her flipping down to the canvas with a kitchen sink. Mason is then tagged in! Silk & Cyanide take Clay and lift her up before throwing her down with Descent (double suplex lift into a sitout gourdbuster from Mariani)! Mason pushes her over before making the cover.
Clay gets a shoulder up.
Stephy Auger: This is what Silk & Cyanide needed! Mariani finally got her opening, she tagged out to the fresh woman and now they’ve got the advantage again.
Mariani is tagged back in. Silk & Cyanide return the favor with a double arm wrench before knocking Clay down with a double palm thrust to the chest! Mariani pulls Clay back up before whipping her into the corner. After Mariani charges in, Clay slumps down in the corner when Mariani connects with another running elbow tackle. Mariani steps back towards the center of the ring before rushing back in and delivering the Libertine (running double stomp to a seated opponent)! Once Mason is tagged back in, Silk & Cyanide deliver mudhole stomps before Mariani sets up shop near the center of the ring. After Mariani drops down to a knee, Mason pulls up Clay, runs out of the corner and brings her down with the Vow (one-handed bulldog by Mason over Mariani’s knee)! She makes the cover.
Kris Cruise: Oh! Clay just got driven down face-first right across the knee!
Stephy Auger: That should do it right here, Cruise!
Clay gets the shoulder up.
Kris Cruise: No! Clay got the shoulder up.
Stephy Auger: She should have just stayed down! She’s just going to endure more punishment and trust me, Silk & Cyanide will take pleasure in dishing it out.
Mason takes Clay, slams her face-first into the top turnbuckle before tagging Mariani back in. Mason tosses Clay through the ropes before climbing up to the top turnbuckle. After Mariani holds Clay in place, the crowd erupts with boos when Silk & Cyanide bring her down with The Infernal Council (combination rope-hung DDT from Mariani and diving splash to the opponent's back from Mason)! Mariani makes the cover.
Clay gets her foot on the bottom rope.
Kris Cruise: Good ring awareness there by Clay!
Stephy Auger: More like luck!
Kris Cruise: Call it what you what, Stephy, but this is match will continue!
Mariani takes Clay and sets up for a Backdrop Driver when Clay counters with elbows. She then lifts Mariani up across her shoulders before bringing her down with a double knee gutbuster!
Kris Cruise: Clay brings Mariani down hard! Those double knees to the gut might have given her the opening she needed to make the tag!
Stephy Auger: Ger up, Erin!
Clay rolls forward, dives over towards her corner and tags Fresno back in!
Stephy Auger: Gah!
The crowd cheers when the Alien Hunter makes his way to the top before knocking Mariani down with missile dropkick! He makes the cover.
Mariani gets her shoulder up.
Mariani reverses an irish whip, sending Fresno into the ropes. When he returns, he slips down from behind after a failed back body drop attempt before bringing Mariani down with a running back suplex! He makes the cover.
Mariani gets the shoulder up.
Fresno sends Mariani into the corner with an irish whip before connecting with a Stinger Splash! Mariani is then sent into the far corner before Fresno hits another Stinger Splash! Fresno sits Mariani up on the top turnbuckle before bringing her down with a super hurricanrana!
Kris Cruise: Super Rana from up top! He may have put this one away with that right there!
Mason dives over and breaks up the pin!
Stephy Auger: Thank You!
Mason goes for another one-handed bulldog when Fresno shoves her off towards Clay, who knocks her down with a running forearm! The Saturnian Connection rush over and deliver a running double dropkick, knocking Mason through the ropes and to the floor! They then turn their attention back to Mariani and send her into the corner with an irish whip. After Fresno connects with a third Stinger Splash, he drops down to all fours. Clay runs across the ring, uses Fresno as a launching pad and hurls herself at Mariani with a cannonball senton! Fresno then pulls Mariani out of the corner and takes control of her back as Clay hits the ropes. When Clay returns, the crowd roars with cheers when The Saturnian Connection bring her down with a running high arch big boot/reverse exploder suplex! Fresno goes for the cover.
The crowd cheers when “Satellite” hits the speakers.
J.A. Aldridge: Ladies and gentlemen, the winners of this bout… THE SATURNIAN CONNECTION!
The cheers continue while the ref stands in between Fresno and Clay to raise their arms in victory.
Kris Cruise: The Saturnian Connection have done it! They have knocked off the United States Tag Team Champions in non-title action! If you think Mariani and Mason were ticked off about being passed over by the Hellcat Spangled Death Squad or losing to Pendragon at Autumn Annihilation, they are going to be livid when they finally come to!
Stephy Auger: Go ahead, Cruise. Rub it in. Pour more salt into the wounds. But let me tell you something. Agitating Silk & Cyanide? Disrespecting them like they did last Vertigo and then getting a fluke win here tonight?
Kris Cruise: Fluke!?
Stephy Auger: Saturnian Connection have only made things worse for themselves. They may think they’ve set themselves up for a future title shot. But in reality? They’ve set themselves up for the beating of a lifetime. Silk & Cyanide took those title from your precious Fujiko Mine and Izzy Anders. You think SatCon can beat them with the belts on the line? They’ll be lucky to make it out of the ring in one piece.
Kris Cruise: Well, they’re certainly leaving under their own power tonight with their hands held high. I don’t see why they don’t have a good chance of doing so again. But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves. Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Vertigo! I am your host, Kris Cruise! Joining me as always is my colleague, Stephy Auger! We just saw some good tag team action between The Saturnian Connection and the US Tag Champs, Silk & Cyanide. But that’s just the start of what we’ve got coming your way tonight. We’ve got two more champions competing in non-title action here tonight. First up, Ace Voltage, the reigning Mid-Atlantic Legacy Champion, will be going one on one with Patrick Jones!
Stephy Auger: This won’t just be any match. Nicholas King has put up 50K to have Jones beaten here tonight. Ace Voltage may just leave this match richer than he walked in.
Kris Cruise: He might just. Then, later on, the reigning Pride Champion, Nina Stokes, takes on one half of Baewatch, Jacob Holliday!
Stephy Auger: The little YMCA lifeguard is back in FGA after the Dynamic Duos tournament didn’t go his way. We’ll see how long he can last in there with The Kodiak.
Kris Cruise: That’s not all. Mark Bisley will be in action. We’ve seen him get into it with Ashley Sands and Ashley Marie Chase. Tonight, he gets in the ring with the other third of the AAA trio, Antoinette Sands!
Stephy Auger: Bisley will get to take out his frustrations on the runt of the litter here tonight. You and I both know he should be competing for the 15 Championship.
Kris Cruise: I don’t know about that. But speaking of the 15 Championship, it will be on the line later on tonight as Ashley Sands defends against Ashley Marie Chase!
Stephy Auger: Chase got her wish, Cruise. Much to the chagrin of the more deserving Bisley. You can agree or disagree whether Bisley should be in this match. But one thing we can both agree on is that all is not well between the two Ashleys.
Kris Cruise: Then, in our main event, it’s Six Man Tag Team action with Scramble Rules as Pendragon and Ethan Giles go three on three against The Hellcat Spangled Death Squad and their cohort, Skull Kid #1.
Stephy Auger: This will be the first time seeing one of the Skull Kids in an FGA ring. It’ll also be the first time we’ve seen Lisa Seldon and Anastasia Hayden competing here since winning Dynamic Duos this past fall. One of the most anticipated tag team matches in recent memory is coming up at Grapple Kingdom 3. Tonight, we get ourselves a preview of what will go down in that World Tag Team Championship match!
Kris Cruise: We’ve got a lot of action coming up tonight, fans. We’ll see you back here, right after this...
Seth Iser: That...was hell.
There’s a moment of weakness that Seth lets seep through as he’s rubbing his right arm a little more so considering the hell that match was. He still remembers it beat by beat.
Seth Iser: We tore into each other for the Pride Title and literally the pride of another man’s leg being broken. And we took a piece of each other that neither of us might fully get back that evening. And this is the type of intensity and tenacity that she only brings out on special occasions. She almost has to be pushed to be that animal and someone like me brings that out of her. She’s probably still smarting and furious she doesn’t have that true victory over me yet...that’s even more motivation. Because despite some of the heinous things she did to me on that match, I won.
Seth’s eyes show a glint of rage remembering some of the things he went through while rotating the shoulder that was assaulted on by said Izzy nearly nine months ago.
Seth Iser: It might have been by the narrowest of margins but I was the better wrestler that night. Barely. And she’s a Grand Slam champion. She’s done damn near everything in this company. When she wants to, she’s one of the most devious wrestlers to ever play our game. And when you’re fingertips away as she was to being on top one more time...it makes you want it just that little bit more. She’ll want to do more than be knocked out in the semis as she was the first time. It isn’t going to be so easy for her though...
After speaking all of that he’s still got a level of calmness to him despite literally stretching his right arm across and shaking it, still remembering some of the pain of one of the more brutal Pride title matches in the history of the promotion.
Seth Iser: Because Neal Durden is her opponent, and he truly embodies the name of the tournament.
He states this matter-of-factly, the scowl ever present on his face and he just recrosses his arms and is even tapping his foot on his stool, a little ancy.
Seth Iser: Yes...Neal Durden, some might overlook what he could be. Not me. In some ways, he’s the most dangerous of the four because when it comes to singles action: he’s the closest thing to an unknown in what he could theoretically do in that ring. I’ve seen some of his action in a promotion where my brother helps run now. I also know he won the Hudson Cup. But when it comes to singles championships...he hasn’t broken through just yet. And as much as he’s happy for his girlfriend’s continued success as a singles, I know for a damn fact he wants on the board.
There’s a semblance of a smile etched on his face thinking about the potential competition among tag team champions. But it’s merely a flash before it fades back into his usual neutral expression.
Seth Iser: But what will he do in a situation like that. We might have an idea what he does for his go to moves...but he’s truly the most dangerous thing in this spot. A comparative unknown compared to three warriors who have earned some stripes. And that’s something that worries someone like me. You can scout for tendencies for what Izzy might do. Hell, for as much as she got in my head, I know I scrambled up her brain to gain that price for knowledge. I almost know her offense by heart. And Lowri? Well, she’s has had so many high profile singles matches that you can gauge many things she could bring; we don’t have that on Neal.
You can see his face show the slightest little bit of tension.
Seth Iser: I give it a coin flip despite having to wrestle a tag title defense, he could be who awaits Lowri or yours truly. The kid is starting to realize how dangerous he truly is judging by how he advanced in this tournament. There’s plenty of pages on reading what a number of us can do. The only one who might have that book fully is Lowri because...Neal IS the wildcard. And if any of us remotely disrespect him...this tournament becomes his coming out party and his crowning achievement as a singles wrestler to date.
And then the stern frown comes across his face.
Seth Iser: I won’t have an opportunity to address either an old wound or the unknown if I don’t deal with what’s in front of me. And it’s something we’ve both been looking forward to for a while, am I right young Lowri?
There’s a little more bite to the word ‘young’ than anything else he’s said as he contemplates his word choice a little further.
Seth Iser: The first person to hold double championships in this company multiple times. You’re a company of one in that regard. And hell, you’ve become quite greedy with championships considering you emancipated the Pride Title from Tyler and have been one half of the best tag team alongside the aforementioned Neal Durden in the company today. Not hesitating or stuttering: you two are the best tag team in the company.
And his face lightens up ever so slightly stating all of this.
Seth Iser: And I hear the whispers. The whispers are getting a little louder. Some people here think you’ll be the youngest to get to the Grand Slam. You’re one away from that achievement already and you have most of your career ahead of you. And judging by the various people that were congratulating you...I get the sense many people both who pay the tickets and those who lace up the boots here think you’re ready to be tested on that level. Right now, the wrestling world is smiling at you. The wrestling fans...smiling at you. And they want to see the birth of the next potential mega-star.
After that last sentence, the mood changes. His face hardens and there’s that stern frown.
Seth Iser: But this is not going to be your ultimate coronation, champ.
His eyes are hardening with some disgust as he thinks about it.
Seth Iser: This has nothing to do with you as a human being, Lowri or anyone else for that matter...but the amount of people wanting to anoint the next big thing while forgetting and disrespecting those who have been there for years...is something I’m tired of. While the wrestling world is smiling at you, they’re frowning down at me trying to forget what the hell I did for damn near a year with the Pride title YOU currently hold. Some of the people want to whitewash my name involving that title using you to be that eraser. And that won’t happen.
A firm, resolute shake of the head but some of that infamous temper and anger is starting to boil over ever so slightly. He’s suppressing his tone a little even as he takes a quick breath.
Seth Iser: Because I’m going to do what I’ve wanted to do to you for a while now: kick your ass all over the middle of that ring.
Simple statement as he stands up from the stool now, a little more animated but not finished talking.
Seth Iser: I’m unlike any professional wrestler you’ve ever faced in your life, champ. You can bring everything you have...and I know you won’t use your tag title defense as an excuse. You’re too much of a warrior for that crap and have to represent what you’re wearing. But even if you were fresh, it wouldn’t matter. Not against me and not on that night. Maybe another day when you’re even closer to fulfilling your vast potential than you are now. But while you have plenty of time to get to that ultimate goal...the sands of time are pouring down on me.
He shakes his head not wanting to admit that truth but he does let out a chuckle.
Seth Iser: Thirty-nine years old. I’m not a spring chicken; and I know I’m probably one bad knee injury away from retirement. Even if that doesn’t come to pass, I’ve got more matches behind me than ahead of me. But unlike most people in this entire world...I’m not afraid of that. I accept this. Like I accept the fact that I threw away the beginning half of my career...because I just had a habit for getting myself into trouble…
A frown as he’s still smarting about his younger self with a shake of the head.
Seth Iser: But I’m making up for lost time and using what time I have left to the greatest effect. Nobody will forget the wars I had involving the pride title you possess, Lowri. And while I can’t promise myself to be a Grand Slam winner here; I don’t play nice with others. Never have, never will. But 2020 will be THE year I break a long drought. You young Lowri, Neal, even Izzy for that matter...weren’t even wrestling in the sport the last time I held a World Championship. Didn't even break in yet, the trio of you. And I remember that feeling when my body gave out when it was ripped away from me more than the championship win itself…
Another regretful sigh as he shakes his head.
Seth Iser: But despite the advancing years, I’m a better wrestler now than I was then. Nobody knows more about the sport than I do. Not even Ricky has my vast collection of knowledge. And I got so much better without having to use any of my infamous tricks or my greatest source of offense in the right hand holding the title you have young Lowri. Just imagine what the hell I can do...with everything in my arsenal open now. You won’t have to imagine it for long because Grapple Kingdom 3 is when you experience it all.
He opens his hands slightly as some of the more familiar arrogance is starting to seep across in his tone.
Seth Iser: To point blank it kid, I’m going to tear you apart in Vancouver. And there won’t be a damn thing ANYBODY in this company can do about it. Then I’m going to win the second match...and usurp the throne as World Champion while being a little richer. I’m sick of being denied my Magnum Opus and I’m not letting anybody take the pen from me any longer. I WRITE my ending. I WRITE my *bleep* damned story. And I’m going to write at the end of that book that I’ll be THE man one more time...while the whole world can kiss my ass for not respecting me the way I should’ve been all along.
And with that declaration he poses in a crucifix and tilts his head back slightly and you get a better understanding of how long and tall he actually is even in that suit as we fade from this view.
The camera quickly cuts to the inside of the Matthew Knight Arena. Mild chaos ensues as various people are frantically roaming the halls. A gaggle of ring crew members rush by as they carry ropes and steel. Three referees are deep in discussion. Numerous wrestlers are coming and going. The camera lingers on the scene for a moment or two before it cuts to another sector of the arena.
The Frontier Grappling Arts United States Champion, Nina Stokes, is spotted as she walks down a relatively quiet hallway. There are no frills when it comes to her outfit. A black and sail Nike vintage hoodie. A pair of black Nike Speed leggings. A custom pair of pink Nike Presto shoes. Her gym bag was also in tow.
She’s making her way towards the women’s locker room. And just as she gets a hand on the door knob, Spencer Burke appears with a microphone. He gives Ms. Stokes a quick nod before he begins speaking.
Spencer Burke: Sorry to bother you, Nina. But could I have a moment of your time?
She doesn’t give a verbal response. Instead, she lets her hand off the door knob and turns slightly in Spencer’s direction.
Spencer Burke: It’s been a little while since we’ve seen you in action here at FGA. And tonight, you take on Jacob Holliday. Do you have a game plan to combat him?
A second passes.
Nina Stokes: A game plan…
She peers at the interviewer for a moment or two, almost as she’s bewildered by the question. However, Nina does answer after about seven seconds or so.
Nina Stokes: Of course I do. It’s the same game plan that I’ve employed each time that I’ve stepped into a FGA ring. Enter. Dominate. Win. It doesn’t matter if it is Ashley Marie Chase, Salem, Jacob, or Sadie San Francisco. The method doesn’t change. The intensity does, though.
Spencer nods his head.
Spencer Burke: Speaking of Sadie, she had a lot of strong words to say about you when she and I sat down a few weeks ago. Is there anything that you’d like to say in response?
Those words elicit a nasty smirk. Her smirk soon transforms into a wild chuckle. Nina then opens the locker room door and enters. The door quickly shuts behind her. The camera fades out moments later.
Backstage, we see Ace Voltage talking to someone on his cell phone while he is in his locker. He is in his wrestling gear, he has a match against Patrick Jones later on tonight.
Ace Voltage: … I told you I have it handled. Do I ever not deliver?
Ace Voltage: Yeah I have a match later with Patrick Jones. Some nobody here. But…
Suddenly we see a hand grab Ace’s shoulder. Ace slowly looks behind him.
Ace Voltage: Let me call you back real quick.
Ace puts his phone down and the camera zooms out a little and we see Cassius Reed smiling with his hand on Ace’s shoulder. The crowd boos as Ace shakes off Reed’s hand.
Ace Voltage: First off, Mate. Don’t touch me. Second, I’m glad you’re here.
Something of a smirk comes of Cassius’ face..
Ace Voltage: I don’t do this often but I wanted to say thank you. While I could have done the job myself, it’s always nice to have a backup plan. It’s nice to have someone to trust around here. Being on top of the mountain, having this money and power, it’s lonely on top. I am glad someone around here has the same mindset as me. Don’t forget, there’s a reason I’m the champ.
Ace bends down to grab his title and kisses it in front of Cassius.
Ace Voltage: I truly hope you don’t feel bad for Chaz. Because you shouldn’t feel bad. He had this coming all along. He deserved THIS. And you and all these idiots cheering him should show no empathy towards that idiot.
The crowd boos louder. Ace seems like he’s ready to go, having picked up his title, but as he turns he feels resistance. Looking back, he notices Cassius’ fingers gripping the leather of the belt… but his eyes are locked firmly on Ace.
Cassius Reed: Cool your jets, sucka. Cassius ain’t come swung by to get himself a little pat on the back from some scraggly Jersey Shore lookin’ mammajamma. No no no, there ain’t no team here. There will be no “Cassius Reed Experience featuring Ace Voltage”..
Cassius suddenly releases his grip on the belt, causing Ace to stagger back slightly, the resistance gone.
Cassius Reed: You see, when you approached Cassius in that hotel lobby back in New Zealand, Cassius saw the value in the opportunity you presented. Not in forging an alliance, Cassius has had enough of carrying deadweight through their careers, but in rectifying a hideous wrong. It was grade A white people bullsh*t that Chaz Holiday could step into FGA after his five year vacation and straight into a title match. Meanwhile, Cassius is out there, working his sweet black behind off week in week out, conquering Kings and giving the people of FGA a show every goddamned event, for what? The Sparklebuddy that people were always a little disappointed in seeing because he was the one with a dong to waltz back in here like the world ain’t progressed since he’s been sat on his ass eating Twinkies?
Cassius shakes his head to suggest, quite emphatically, that this is not the case.
Cassius Reed: Cassius wife might have been one of Chaz’s friends back when. And he may have needed to purchase her a couple of select luxury items to help her see Cassius’ point of view regardin’ this heinous situation. BUT THE POINT OF THE MATTER IS THAT EVEN SHE AGREES WITH CASSIUS. Cassius has had to jump through hoops, climb mountains, and put up with multi-man buffoonery to even get his name into the title conversation. And now it’s in their mouth, let me tell you sucka, Cassius is making sure it stays there. Cassius didn’t help you out last time… Cassius helped himself out. Because there ain’t no other sucka here that seems to have a brother’s back.
Cassius smirk has developed into a full on sneer.
Cassius Reed: So you go out there, have your little playdate wit’ Patrick Jones. But don’t you get that belt scuffed up any… because if it is you’re the sucka who’ll have to pay to get it buffed out when Cassius takes it from you. Cassius might have been your Plan B to deal wit’ Chaz… but there’s only one plan that matters, and that’s Plan C.
Cassius stays a moment in silence, staring into the defiant eyes of Ace Voltage, before turning on the ball of his foot and storming out of the room, leaving Ace with his thoughts.
We cut to the backstage interview area at the Matthew Knight Arena where, at this moment in time, the camera crew are setting up to prepare for their scheduled interview segment later this evening…only for Mark Bisley to walk into frame and loudly slap his hands together in front of the camera
Mark Bisley: …and that’s me tagging into this interview.
Pausing for a moment, Bisley looks over his shoulder to note the complete lack of interviewee – or, for that matter, interviewer, a fact he responds to with a nonchalant shrug because he’s here now, so why let the details get in the way?
Mark Bisley: So this evening I get to share the ring with another member of the ever-growing Sands family, a family that frankly requires somebody to provide a full character sheet for everybody else to read up on before they begin as I am a member of the Frontier Grappling Arts roster and not somebody reading a Hillary Mantel novel, so I shouldn’t have to go into every fresh chapter having to skip back to the first few pages to remind myself the who’s, the what’s, the when’s, the where’s and the why’s…but then again, that’s still better than Ashley’s failure to understand that the rules of a tag team match require the participants to realise that deigning to tag their partner is ideal.
Pausing for a moment to let the point become that little bit laboured by design, Bisley continues
Mark Bisley: However a mere tag does not interest me, Ashley, instead that title which you are currently checking in as a piece of carry-on luggage does. You see, if you played nice – or played at all – I wouldn’t have reason to be looking for something to do in these coming days, weeks and months as you and I would be happily competing in the Wildcard Lottery, but because you decided that dipping the toes of one foot in the pool was all you were willing to do, that meant that I have time on my hands and I need to have something that will fill the gap in my schedule. And you know what they say about two birds and one stone, don’t you?
Bisley cannot help but look smug
Mark Bisley: But since you and your friend The Other Ashley and your title aren’t going to play this evening, instead I’ll just have to make do with your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate…oh wait, let me see if I have that right…
Bisley pulls out a handful of paper and skims through each page until, on the fourth one, he comes to a stop
Mark Bisley: Ah yes, here’s Antoinette, in just the right place to claim usage of the Sands name without running the risk of having one snarky online poster habitually refer to her by her given name, so she’s legit…
Slapping the pages together as if they were a book, although clearly lacking the finality of the sound of the pages snapping together, Bisley looks down his nose at the camera and, by extension, Antoinette
Mark Bisley: …but here’s the problem, Antoinette, I am legit and I don’t need to trade on a surname to do so, I merely need to trade on my talent and the pieces fall into place. And this is the problem you face this evening: if your second cousin once removed could have shown the slightest interest in taking the Wildcard Lottery seriously, you would not be facing me, so I do hope that this doesn’t lead to uncomfortable conversations around the table at Thanksgiving when you find yourself asking Ashley how she will go down in history as the tag team partner that dragged me down so badly that a solitary match was all she was good for. Now that's embarrassing...