Our camera pans around the BB&T Pavilion. A modified version of FGA’s entrance setup is on the stage, with the large video tron up high. There is a platform ramp that connects the stage to one of the apron to the ring. Despite the closed set, there are a small number of “fans” at ringside and father back in the seats. Making up the “fans” are members of the ring crew, along with some wrestlers in the crowd. Some of the wrestlers are local talent. Some you’ve seen before, such as The Gourdbusters (Gully Balnchard & Olé Anderson). Others are unfamiliar to the FGA audience. We finally switch over to Kris Cruise and Stephy Auger, who are at the announce table set up at the far left corner of the stage.
Kris Cruise: Hello everyone and I am thrilled to say welcome back to Vertigo! I’m Kris Cruise, and alongside me is Stephy Auger. And off the heels of one of the more eventful events of the year we have quite a lot we need to talk about from both then and what is coming up just tonight! Pendragon are in action tonight against both the World Champion Fujiko Mine and The International Champion Cordy Stevenson. A lot of gold together for one match!
Stephy Auger: I was in such a good mood until you had to name drop those four names...but I’m not letting you ruin it entirely for me this soon. But if you want to talk about champions tonight Cruise, we have Ashley Sands getting her rematch for the FGA 15 Championship against one of the smartest men in the business in Mark Bisley and I, for one, am looking forward to Mark showcasing why he deserves the gold he has around his waist!
Kris Cruise: It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows as we do have to also say goodbye to one James Edwards this evening. I might not have agreed with everything he may have done but it’s never fun to say goodbye to wrestlers of that caliber in the ring.
Stephy Auger: We need to look forward though. And something I’m looking forward to is a certain announcement by---
Before Stephy can deliver her line the lights dim ever so slightly and she clams up knowing what this could be. The familiar guitar rumblings of ‘Psychosocial’ start to play out. The people that are the ring crew just instinctively boo from the audience knowing who is associated with the music. After a couple of seconds of anticipation, the veteran Seth Iser steps through the curtain with a sneer on his face and a black briefcase in his right hand. He instinctively stops right at the top there after a couple of steps and poses in a crucifix with a sneer on his face and we get a look at his attire choice: a three piece black and white suit with his hair slicked back nicely and his beard trimmed a little bit. He also has a bandage over his forehead and a cast on his left hand. After that brief pose he allows himself he just lumbers down toward the ring with a purpose; he is all business tonight as he enters the ring in his usual manner. He puts down the briefcase in the corner of the ring. As this seemed to be expected ring announcer J.A. Aldridge hands him the microphone and there isn’t any bit of tension at all and the lights return to their normal state in a fast way.
Seth Iser: It’s been four months. In wrestling that feels like an eternity. I’ve been wrestling elsewhere hence the broken hand and stitches on my head, I won’t lie about that, won’t start lying now. But as for what’s happened in this company let’s start from the beginning here for the unaware, uninformed, or just forgetful as to what I have in my right hand. Before coronavirus devastated everything...there was a Wildcard Tournament here in this company. There was sixteen of us. Sixteen differently qualified professional wrestlers put into a unique type of tournament that tested our professionalism, our knowledge, our cunning, and if you made it to the end: our endurance and desire to see who wanted it more. At the start...my random partner turned out to be Ashley Marie Chase.
A brief pause as Iser calculates his next words, normally there would probably be a larger audience booing and hissing at him but there isn’t, it’s an oddity. He’s still stoic in his posture though.
Seth Iser: We worked better together than our opponents Ashley Sands and Mark Bisley and it was my partner’s own curb stomp that got our hands raised in the end. Considering the two of us are veterans that took our own different paths to get here, that was an easy checkmark for both of us to reach. We knew the goal and what we had to do. Nothing more, nothing less. The next week? The partners become enemies. We’d face each other in one on one combat. No sense getting attached to any potential alliances. She gave me a little bit of a scare with her aerial offense but she tried one risk too many...bulldog got countered into a Pillar of Truth...then the DDT.
And after that statement there’s a calmness as Seth’s face lightens slightly.
Seth Iser: Wrestling’s greatest mind checks off the knowledge box. That’s two.
Even with his casted left hand he’s able to showcase the number two briefly before continuing.
Seth Iser: Next...the current Pride Champion Lowri Moss. A fight BOTH of us were looking forward to for over a damn year. And guess what...there was a point in time where Lowri was on the top rope and I admitted it after the match, and I have no damn issue admitting it now, she almost had me dead to rights. If she came off the top with that 450 I highly doubt I’d be standing here right now with what I have in my hand. But after chipping away at her knee a little bit...she was just that half a second slower that I needed. Then I did something I seldom have done in my career...went to the top and DDTed someone. There was the cunning.
And there’s this stern seriousness as takes one slight step closer toward the camera but is maintaining a stoic, still state otherwise. He’s cold, almost unemotional.
Seth Iser: Then...I made a gamble. I gambled that in my compromised state I would’ve rather dealt with Neal than Izzy. Again, I don’t tell a lie. I did what I needed to in order to advance my career and get the opportunity I needed. I gambled someone would intervene if I didn’t get the job done...all my chips were on the table...and I won that gambit with Karma catching up to someone who has as much of a bad track record of doing deplorable things as I have. So I got what I wanted. I didn’t come into this tournament with noble intentions. In fact, if I didn’t do what I did, I’d violate my own code. The code of giving everyone YOUR best shot no matter how it seems. And it would be a foolish move to try to not use my brain to make sure I got what I wanted.
With that, Seth’s face contorts into a frown as he remembers the last part.
Seth Iser: And then there was Neal...and for all my gambling, he turned out to be the toughest test of all because if there is anybody in this company who personifies desire to see anything through to the bitter end...that would be Neal. He was exhausted, I wasn’t firing at full strength either but he launched into one another as if we’d been at war for years and as much as I thought he might forgive me...recent events in another company lead me to believe he and I will also be destined to be at one another’s throats on and off until I retire. And this isn’t an old wrestler blowing smoke up someone’s ass, but he was the toughest test out of them all in the end. Once he kicked out of the DDT, for a moment I wondered if I miscalculated…
There’s a calmness in his tone but judging by how he is speaking, he’s not lying when he states that.
Seth Iser: But I suppressed that thought the moment it came in...and I just let Neal make one mistake. He took one too many risks himself leaping off with that Shooting Star Press before finding out there was no water in the pool; the second DDT welcomed him to the canvas and just like that I got the last checkmarks for endurance and the desire to win. It shined through everyone and I finally have the last marker of my career in a tournament win. And the prize for this tournament? A hundred thousand dollars and a title opportunity at either the International Heavyweight Title or the World Title. That means that both Fujiko and Cordy alike might not like waiting on me to decide but they have that right to know now.
After that recap Seth takes a moment as his face contorts into one of contemplative thought as he tilts his head to the side briefly.
Seth Iser: It didn’t make the decision any easier waiting those four months. I thought about taking the option where there’s far less of a chance where I might let my emotions cloud my judgment with Cordy. She has no reason to like or dislike me yet. But the more I thought on it...and the more I thought on what it took to get the opportunity I now have in my hand...it only had to go one way. And I think deep down...all three of us know it.
And finally there is a semblance of a smile that creeps onto Seth’s face.
Seth Iser: I have a giant ego, I’ll be the first to admit that as well. And when you tell me that someone that has been anointed as the best or the next coming...guess who wants to be the person to knock that individual down a peg just to put himself up in the elites? That would be me. When she won the World Title over a year ago...I knew the chase was on, even more so when I won the Pride Title. I’ve been hounding her on and off. And while we don’t like one another, it’s never been an issue of her talent in the ring.
And then the sneer etched on his face as Seth’s face allows himself to show a little bit of the emotion that he was suppressing earlier.
Seth Iser: I need to be the WORLD champion. That means slaying the biggest champion of them all so when I look myself in the damn mirror I know for a fact there wasn’t any doubt to anyone INCLUDING myself. So that’s it then: Fujiko Mine vs Seth Iser for the FGA World Championship at Only the Strong Survive. And champ...even if we don’t like one another...I took any personal emotions out of it. I’ve taken them out of the equation for the last few months now. It’s all about business...and it’s all about my career. So if you have anything to say to that here is a professional courtesy: you can say it to me right now.
A slight smirk on Seth’s face for a brief moment as he knows what he just said.
Seth Iser: And don’t worry, no physicality. You have a main event to wrestle tonight. You don’t have anything to worry about from me on that front...I find that interference for the sake of agitating someone out of spite is a tired practice anyway and just a plain old waste of time. So come on down, champ. It’s official now.
"Can You Feel It?"
"Can You Feel It?"
"Can You Feel It?"
The lights in the arena dim, with pink and gold spotlights swirling around the arena. The beat of "Can you feel it?" kicks in, and the crowd bursts into cheers. The Apex Goddess’ music plays for the first time in months. The funky beat quickly spreads through the arena, and the crowd begins stomping and clapping along as the song begins.
"If you look around The whole world is coming together now...baby..."
"Can You Feel It?"
"Can You Feel It?"
"Can You Feel It?!"
The crowd is getting heavily into the song, and as the Jacksons sing the title of the song, the lights in the arena bump brighter and brighter.
Feel it in the air, the wind is taking it everywhere...
"Can You Feel It?"
"Can You Feel It?"
"Can You Feel It?!"
On the third one, A spotlight and the camera focuses in on the emerging figure of Fujiko Mine, who stands at the top of the ramp, away from her normal crowd entrance. She stands with a “Black Lives Matter” shirt on her form, the FGA World championship over her left shoulder. Fujiko keeps her movements muted as she stares over at her new challenger. She begins to make her way down the ramp, slapping hands of the nearby fans.
Kris Cruise: Seth Iser has picked the champion he wanted to face at Only The Strong Survive, and here she comes.
Stephy Auger: I couldn’t be more excited, Cruise! Seth is going to prevail, and we’re finally going to have a champion worth celebrating!
She quickly runs up the ring steps, then steps through the ropes.
"Now, tell me..."
"Can You Feel It?"
"Can You Feel It?"
"Can You Feel It?!"
Fujiko takes a look at the championship on her shoulder for a moment before entering the ring. She moves past Seth, keeping an eye on him before retrieving a microphone for herself. She smiles out at the fans acknowledging her with a “Fujiko” chant, then turns completely to face Seth. There is a long pause, then she looks around at the fans.
Fujiko Mine: You’ll have to forgive me, it’s been a long time...Camden, New Jersey.
The crowd cheers loudly as they are mentioned.
Fujiko Mine: For some time, I wondered if I was going to get to come back here to this ring. Like Seth said, four months is a long time. It’s a long time to bide your time. It’s a long time to wonder. It’s a long time to stare into the plate of this championship and contemplate if you’ll be able to keep your promises.
She leans back fully into the corner.
Fujiko Mine: My mission statement when I won this championship was that I was going to be the best to hold it. I wasn’t going to try. I was going to be, point blank. I was going to defend this championship more than anyone. I was going to hold it longer than anyone. Not just for my own ego, but to keep the promise I made to all of them.
She points out to the fans, who cheer again.
Fujiko Mine: Years ago, before Seth Iser decided to become a member of the FGA roster, I looked into one of these cameras and I said “I’m coming for everything they said I couldn’t have.” And well... I’m almost there.
She puts up her thumb and index finger.
Fujiko Mine: Two more.
She returns her gaze to her new challenger.
Fujiko Mine: Two more defenses, and I have the record. The record for most defenses of any championship here in FGA. Not just this title. That’s what I was after. And you have chosen to enter my path towards that.
She nods slightly, letting the fact wash over her.
Fujiko Mine: By that, if you haven’t figured out that I am going to accept, then you’ve just been chasing a false shadow of me all this time.
She smiles a weak smile.
Fujiko Mine: I’m glad you picked me, Seth. I watched the results of the tournament closely, and when I saw that you won? I hoped this very moment would happen. So an honest congratulations from me to you. I have a distinct memory of you using that roll of coins to help hand me a rare loss. A loss that I made sure you paid for.
She adjusts the title, working her jaw a little.
Fujiko Mine: And while I know that you have worked to change since then...so have I. You are not the wrestler I faced back then. But I am not the wrestler you’ve faced either. I’m much, much more dangerous. More than even you possibly know. So while getting two more defenses was my goal, you have to know that I’m not stopping there. Because I have been on a run that no one in FGA has been able to match. The will of the goddess has yet to be denied, and that won’t change anytime soon.
Fujiko carefully sets down the microphone, and slowly approaches Seth. She looks up at his face, and offers a smile. The challenger just calmly reaches into his pocket with his casted hand and he pulls out a similar roll of quarters.
Seth Iser: You’re worried I might do something like that again. Unlike a lot of challengers who might proclaim their form of honor...I find it dishonorable to NOT use a tactic like that if you really want my best that is…
And after he palms that that weapon for a moment before putting it back in his pocket.
Seth Iser: I don’t give a damn about your ambitions. I don’t give a damn about the money I won. But I’ll leave you with this thought. I know you’re dangerous. You took Evan’s best shot. You took a desperate man in Edwards best shot and repelled them on big stages and nothing is more dangerous than a desperate man’s shot. That last one is especially commendable since I too am a desperate man in regards to that last run. But for someone who has played the game like I have...every trick in the book.
And then a light, knowing smile as he even twirls his casted left hand.
Seth Iser: I’ll leave you to figure out which ones I’m willing to use. But I’m not interfering in any of your matches. I want the best at her best. That way there isn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind. And I’m going to be the one roadblock who uses his cunning to deny you your magnum opus of sorts. It’ll be my turn with the pen, champ.
He pauses for a moment as he just starts to take a step back and grab hold of that briefcase he placed in the corner.
Seth Iser: You have a match against the best tag team in the world tonight. They’ve had four months to stew over both being jumped and what I pulled in that tournament. They’ll be motivated. Maybe even a little angry deep down. I look forward to seeing what you pull off. Until then...I’ll leave you to ponder what I might do after this week. What kind of game this ultimately will be. Besides where would the fun be if I just showed you my entire hand, after all?
Fujiko runs her tongue along her teeth, then exits the ring. As she hits the floor, she gestures to the crowd, and raises the FGA World Championship over her head. She turns back to nod her head at Seth Iser, losing her smile as she keeps her eyes trained on her challenger. Seth just calmly has his eyes on the champion the entire way, a semblance of a smirk still on his face.
Sitting on a leather recliner that he must have had delivered to the BB&T Pavilion, Mark Bisley seems to be remarkably comfortable – and not just due to his seat which offers excellent lumbar support, even though that surely helps just a tad, but he seems remarkably comfortable in his own skin right about now
Mark Bisley: Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Mark Bisley…but I am sure that you fully aware of this fact by now, and if you aren’t there really is no helping you. But for everyone who is aware of my name, and by sheer coincidence you are currently watching this instead of picketing outside because you want a haircut and you think that wearing a mask is infringing on your civil liberties…
Bisley doesn’t so much roll his eyes as allows his eyeballs to do a complete 360 loop of his eye sockets at the stupidity of some
Mark Bisley: As I was saying before the rudeness of others interrupted my train of thought, if you are blessed with intelligence, common sense or simple good taste you would already be fully aware of who I am. However, you may not be aware of the identity of my friend who is with me here tonight, and I think it is only fair that I introduce them to you…
Reaching behind him, Bisley slowly raises the 15 Championship belt into view, and boy does he take his time in doing so, to the point where it’s possible to look up a suitable piece of royalty-free music and edit over the top. When he’s finished, and he’s holding the title as far as he can lift it to the point where it’s practically a backdrop, Bisley continues
Mark Bisley: …what, were you expecting a bodyguard or something?
And with that, the trademark all-knowing smirk of Bisley’s crosses his face once more
Mark Bisley: But you have to understand, my new best friend has lived a hard life. After all, have you seen some of the company it has kept in the past? It’s a seemingly never-ending parade of narcissists, egotists and sociopaths, no doubt every last one of them saying “Don’t worry, I’ll treat you better than the last friend you had” up to and including the most recent friend, Ashley the…
Pausing for a moment, Bisley seems to be weighing up whether previous champion – and by complete coincidence tonight’s opponent – Ashley Sands was Ashley the First or Ashley the Second, until a second or two later he comes to his decision
Mark Bisley: You know what, you’ve both been demoted, as first and second are clearly too good for the pair of you considering that you both threw your friendship away over a petty squabble because neither of you could stomach the thought of not having something your so-called friend did. And now I guess you are both happy, because…
Bisley pings his finger against the belt’s faceplate
Mark Bisley: …now none of you are missing out, although I do have to say it does indicate what a toxic friendship exists between Ashley the Third and Ashley the Fourth considering they were so focused on one-upping each other to win a title and never had a moment’s thought or consideration for the third party in the match. Well excuse me, Ashleys, but I am no third wheel – I am a champion, something which neither of you can say, and do you know why I am a champion? It’s simple: I am motivated by victory, not pettiness, and that is why the pair of you are going to enjoy some long, awkward silences when the two of you are in the same room for some time to come.
Yawning and stretching on his super-comfortable leather chair, Bisley is the picture of contentment – that is until something pops into his head and he snaps his fingers
Mark Bisley: Oh, right, rematch clause…
Aiming a suitably unimpressed look at the camera, Bisley turns in his chair so he’s sitting side-on as he faces the camera
Mark Bisley: And here is the part where I put my business hat on, because this evening the leech who was sucking the life out of my new best friend, taking advantage of their low self-confidence after a string of abusive and one-sided friendships, is stamping her feet and claiming that she can change just as long as she is given a second chance. And because I haven’t quite tortured this analogy enough, tonight is your second chance…except that it isn’t, as tonight is your first and only chance to get some closure as you see that you are no longer needed, as the former friend you dragged down with your pettiness has moved on and is happy with somebody who treats them right, who respects them for what they are, and doesn’t use them solely for the purpose of making you feel superior to people you claim are your friends. You really are a piece of work, Ashley the Third…actually, you’re now demoted to Ashley the Fifth and to be blunt you should feel honoured to remain in the single figures, and I hope that Ashley the Third has used the extended period of reflection to realise this so that you end this evening with one former best friend leaving you behind while the other continues their long and fruitful friendship with…
Rather than finish the sentence, instead Bisley simply point to himself to get the point across
Mark Bisley: So while you might be clinging to the hope that the rematch clause lets you show proof that you can change for the better, the fact you couldn’t wait to cash it in shows you as the possessive, petty person you were before – and that is why tonight I will once again show that I am better, not just as a person but as a competitor, because you seemed to have difficulty accepting that was the case before as you were so arrogant and dismissive of what I am capable of that I may as well have changed my name to Ashley Marcia Bisley, given you only seem to operate by shanking people who share your name in the back, but I didn’t stoop to your games and that is why I am a champion and you’re leaving a dozen tearful DMs a day to your former friend claiming that you didn’t mean anything that you said…and you’re likely doing the exact same with the other person who was in the ring with us back when I freed my friend from your clutches. But now you only have me to worry about, and you realise you can’t hold me down under the guise of a supposed friendship, instead you’re going to have to demonstrate you’re more than lies and a name that you believe gives you a certain cache around here when in fact it’s just another example of you thinking Frontier Grappling Arts owes you something you do not deserve. But do not worry, Sands Number Eight, tonight you will get exactly what you deserve: a humiliating defeat, one which will make clear that you simply are not the competitor that you believe you are, which will make it clear there is a reason why I can call myself a champion and you…well, I believe most of the things your namesake calls you are behind your back these days, so don’t expect a straight answer there.
As the first sounds of “Hey Man, Nice Shot!” by Filter begin blasting through the P.A System; the arena goes dark and a single spotlight appears in the middle of the stage. After a couple of seconds, the imposing and mysterious figure of Dante Difranco appears on the spotlight followed by his client, Zack “The Dragon” Gall.
J.A. Aldridge: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to FGA Wrestling here on Vertigo! The following contest is scheduled for ONE fall! Introducing first, making his way to the ring being accompanied by Dante Difranco! Hailing from Newport, Wales, and weighing in at 190 pounds! He is ZACK” THE DRAGON” GALL!
Gall shakes a bit, moving his arms and hands while shaking his head from side to side as the light slowly comes back on. Gall and Difranco look around and the Italian signals his client to move towards the ring. As the two march down, Gall takes some seconds to inspect the surroundings. Once they get near the apron, Gall slides under the bottom rope and once he’s in the middle of the ring he gets to his knees, extending his arms and hitting the mat a couple of times before getting on his feet and rushing towards the ropes making a throat cut sign.
Kris Cruise: We are back, ladies and gentlemen, for our first match here on Vertigo in quite some time. Stephy, what a match to start things back off with.
Stephy Auger: Oh yeah! There isn’t any love lost between these two right here. Or should I say, between Laura Perelli and Gall’s loudmouth manager, Dante Difranco. Dante has done nothing but chirp about and chirp at Perelli for months on end. Gall got her one on one the first time. But the last time these two squared off, it was in a tag team match and it was Perelli that walked out the victor. She’s gonna want to repeat that here tonight.
Kris Cruise: Ladies and gentlemen, we are so excited to be back and providing you wrestling action like only we can!
Stephy Auger: It’s so great to be back. I can even tolerate sitting next to you!
Kris Cruise: Gee, thanks, Stephy.
Stephy Auger: Anytime, Cruise!
The arena goes dark for just a moment, as the opening riffs to Voodoo Johnson's "United Divided" play through the PA, before the white lights are replaced by swirling blue and yellow replacements. A few seconds pass, though, and it’s only when the drum beat kicks in that the curtain is pushed aside, and Laura Perelli comes spinning through, immediately spreading her arms out wide, a sly little smile on her face as she glances out into the arena. She holds her spot in the center of the stage, rolling her neck out to either side, only making her way down the ramp when she’s good and ready.
Ooo, standing up, being a captive to my disease
And I’ll start when I wanna start
It’s not a trip but a diviiiiiiine right to be
This is my castle and I’m keeping
Laura’s not exactly in a particular hurry, as she more saunters down the ring, occasionally glancing to either side of her to take in the fans at the aisleway. It’s never for more than a moment or two, though, as the most regard Laura’s willing to give is a little tilt of the head to one fan in particular trying to get her attention--whatever he may have been saying, it didn’t do much to faze her, and she just continues to move on.
J.A. Aldridge: His opponent, hailing from Trenton, New Jersey, weighing in at 127 lbs, this is LAURAAAAA PERRELLIIIIIIIII!
Laura swings herself through the ropes, spinning in a half circle to face the opposite side fans and stretching both arms out, holding the pose for more than a couple seconds before eventually backing herself into her corner, shrugging her jacket off and dumping it out of the ring. Grabbing the top rope with one hand, she leans down, stretching her opposite leg out in preparation for the match.
Kris Cruise: Perelli got a taste of the big time when she was in there with Izzy Anders in the Wildcard Lottery tournament. She took it to “The Mindkiller,” didn’t she?
Stephy Auger: She did. Even though Izzy UNFORTUNATELY advanced, Perelli proved that she can hang with one of the best this company has. The Pandemic screwed over a lot of things and halted everyone’s momentum. But now that we’re back, I can see Perelli making the most out of the remainder of 2020. Keep an eye on her.
The bell sounds as Perelli and Gall make their way out of their respective corners. Perelli’s focus momentarily switches from Gall to Dante Drfiranco has he hurls some choice words her way from the floor.
Stephy Auger: Look at him chirping away. He’s lucky Perelli doesn’t go out there and shut that mouth for him.
Kris Cruise: Perelli needs to keep on task and stay focused.
With Perelli’s back turned, Gall rushes in from behind and tires to kick Perelli’s leg out for under her. But Perelli is aware enough to hear him coming from behind and spin out of the way, avoiding the kick. The two continue to cautiously inch towards each other. In the blink of an eye, Gall shoots in for a takedown. He’s got a hold of one of Perelli’s legs. But Perelli remains vertical. Gall’s about to muscle her down to the mat when Perelli reaches back and collapses into the ropes. She then wisely wraps her arm around the middle rope to force a rope break.
Ref: ONE… TWO… THREE…
Gall lets go of the hold. He then steps away from Perelli. But not before giving her a slight push. Perelli remains unbothered by the push while she uses the top rope to pull herself back up. Her eyes dart back over to Difranco shouting in instructions from the outside. Gall and Perelli once again inch towards each other. This time, Gall throws out a shoot kick that cracks Perelli across the outer thigh. A second shoot kick connects. A third stinging kick finds its mark on the thigh area. Gall then goes for a fourth kick when Perelli catches the leg. In an attempt to counter, Gall throws out repeatedly palm strikes. But Perelli leans back before intentionally leaning forward to taunt him between strikes. Gall stays hopping on his free foot before he gets thrown to the mat with a dragon screw leg whip. Perelli tries to return the favor by concentrating on his leg with a figure four. But Gall is able to push Perelli off of him with his free foot mid turn. After stumbling forward a few steps, Perelli regains her footing. She turns and sees Gall getting back to a vertical base. So she charges in for an attack. Gall side steps and pushes Perelli into the near ropes. When she returns, the crowd cheers when Gall sends her flying with an overhead belly to belly suplex. Difranco slaps the mat and instructs his client to stay on her. Gall does just that by rushing over for the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Perelli kicks out.
Kris Cruise: Nice suplex there by Gall, but it only gets two. This summer, FGA returns to Pay Per View with Only the Strong Survive. The main event, the Gold Rush Rumble, will see 30 grapplers vying for a shot at either the FGA World Championship or International Heavyweight Championship. I know these two have got their eyes on that.
Stephy Auger: Who wouldn’t? That’s a match that can change the fortunes of any grappler in FGA. But neither of them are focused on the Rumble right there. Their focus is on getting the first W here on Vertigo since the break.
Gall moves the action into the corner, where he once again goes to work with kicks. Four more shoot kicks find their mark. This time, to the chest. Perelli guards her chest, only for Gall to pull her arms down before firing off a blistering knife edge chop. Gall then takes control of her wrist and sets up for an irish whip, only to be reversed and sent into the far corner. Perelli rushes in to attack, only to get countered with a boot to the face that turns her around. While Perelli staggers away from the corner, Gall rushes in to attack. He’s about to strike when Perelli turns around and flings him to the mat with an arm drag. A second arm drag returns Gall to the mat. Perelli then executes a third arm drag before quickly transitioning into an arm bar. On instinct, Gall immediately clasps his hands together to keep Perelli from hyperextending his arm. Difranco shows how proud he is of Gall by clapping on the outside. He then offers up more instructions for Gall as he continues to watch from ringside. Back in the ring, Perelli continues to try and break Gall’s grip by repeatedly yanking back on the arm. But Gall won’t budge. Frustrated, Perelli breaks the hold. She doesn’t give Gall much time to breath as she quickly spins around and mounts herself on top of Gall before raining down forearm strikes to the face! Gall tries to cover up. But some of the strikes still break through his defense.
Kris Cruise: Perelli is laying in those strikes!
Stephy Auger: Gall has had this coming for a long time and he’s got his manager to thank!
Perelli grabs Gall by the wrist before pulling him back to his feet. After finding himself on the receiving end of an arm wrench, Gall rolls forward. He then leans back and kips up, only to be tripped up by Perelli and brought back down to the mat. From there, Perelli transitions into a wristlock until Gall rolls backwards onto his knees, flips over with a headstand and reverses into an arm wrench of his own. Gall follows up with three more arm wrenches until Perelli regains control by reversing into another arm wrench. She then pulls Gall into a side headlock before performing a standing switch to transition into a hammerlock. Perelli keeps the hammer lock applied until she runs forward and tosses Gall through the ropes and to the floor. Perelli circles the ring, taking in the boos from the crowd. On the outside, Gall lands awkwardly as his other arm wasn’t out from to help soften his fall.
Kris Cruise: Perelli just tossed Gall to the outside with no regard!
Stephy Auger: Well when have you ever seen a wrestler gently lay someone down on the outside?
Difranco immediately makes his way over to ringside and kneels down next to Gall. The manager goes over the next round of strategy with his client as he tries to help him back to his feet. Perelli sees this before turning to hit the far ropes. Perelli comes off the ropes and charges across the ring before leaping through the ropes. At the last second, Gall pushes Difranco out of the way, allowing himself to take the full brunt of the suicide dive to the outside!
Kris Cruise: Gall got nailed with that suicide dive!
Stephy Auger: If he was smart, he would have pulled Difranco in the way before getting the jump on Perelli!
With Gall sprawled out on the floor, Perelli turns her attention to Difranco. Perelli starts to slowly approach Difranco has he gets mouthy with her. The two continue to exchange words until Gall comes up from behind and rams her face-first into the ring post!
Kris Cruise: Oh no!
Stephy Auger: Gall taking advantage of the distraction? I like it!
Difranco leans over Perelli and applauds before Gall nudges him out of the way. Perelli is then pulled back to her feet by Gall before being rolled back inside. Gall rolls himself back in before going for the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Perelli gets a shoulder up.
Gall takes Perelli and whips her into the corner. He then rushes across the ring, squashes her in the corner with a running double knee strike before catching her with the Death By Knee (V-Trigger)! Perelli is then thrown out of the corner with an Exploder Suplex before Gall finds himself perched up on the middle ropes. Once Perelli gets to her feet and turns around, he throws out a diving knee strike… and misses when Perelli rolls underneath it. After scrambling back to his feet, Gall turns around and gets thrown down with a running STO! Perelli then pulls him up to a seated position before turning to hit the far ropes. As she returns, she gears up for a Sliding D. Perelli throws out out, only to miss when Gall rolls out of the way at the last second. With both grapplers scrambling back to their feet, Gall is the first to a vertical base and catches Perelli with another Death By Knee before throwing her down with a Michinoku Driver II!
ONE! . . TWO! . . Perelli kicks out.
Kris Cruise: Oh, so close!
Gall sets up for another Exploder Suplex when Perelli counters with multiple elbows to the side of the neck! Perelli continues to deliver elbows to the neck before scooping Gall up across her shoulders before bringing him down with an Ushi Garoshi! The boos continue as she goes for the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Gall gets his shoulder up.
Perelli quickly grabs him by the wrist, pulls him to a seated position, hits the far ropes, returns and flattens him on the second attempt at the Sliding D! Perelli makes the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Gall gets his shoulder up.
Kris Cruise: Perelli caught him that time, but she still only gets two.
Perelli pulls Gall back up, whips him into the corner and rushes in for a corner high knee. She misses! Gall slips out of the way, causing Perelli to crash into the corner. She starts to stumble back before Gall throws her down with a half nelson suplex! Once Gall is back to his feet, he rushes across the ring and catches Perelli with another Death By Knee that sends her collapsing across the middle ropes. While Perelli tries to shake out the cobwebs, Gall hits the far ropes, runs back across the ring, swings through the ropes and nails her with a Tiger Feint Kick! Difranco is seen on the outside repeatedly slapping the canvas before instructing Gall to finish her off. Gall grabs Perelli by the hair and slowly pulls her back to her feet before throwing out the Death by Kick (discus roundhouse kick)! The kick catches Perelli across the face, causing her to turn and fall through the ropes before hitting the floor.
Kris Cruise: That’s it! Perelli’s out! Gall has this match won!
Stephy Auger: He’s got to get her back in the ring and pin her, Cruise! He can’t win this match by Ring Out!
Difranco makes his way over to Perelli on the outside. He again leans over her and has some choice words for her until Gall rolls to the outside. Gall insists to his manager that he’s got this. Difranco puts his hands up before gesturing down towards Perelli. Gall reaches down and pulls up his unconscious opponent before rolling her back into the ring. Once Gall is back inside, he grabs Perelli and slowly pulls her back up… until Perelli quickly rolls him up with a small package out of nowhere!
ONE! . . TWO! . . THREE!
The crowd boos when “United Divided” hits the speakers.
J.A. Aldridge: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of this bout… LAURA PERELLI!
The boos continue as Perelli gets her arm raised in victory.
Kris Cruise: Laura Perelli just stole a win over Zack Gall!
Stephy Auger: Stole a win! She stole nothing! Gall took too long to get her back inside. That allowed her just enough time to recover. He’s got no one to blame but himself.
Gall continued to stay seated as he’s still in shock over the result. On the outside, Difranco slaps the canvas out of frustration. When he turns to look at Perelli, he gets hit with the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ shrug from La Principessa.
The camera fades into the locker room and we see Ace Voltage standing around with a big gift looking bag next to him on the floor. He has his Mid-Atlantic Legacy title laid in the locker in front of him. He walks over to the bag and starts stuffing some things in there and has a big smile on his face.
Ace Voltage: Ah, almost done! Chazy boy is really going to love this retirement gift! It’s the least I could do. I told him I’d beat him. I told the world I’d send him back to the retirement home. He had no shot!
Ace is done stuffing the bag and reaches for his title. He places it over his shoulder and speaks straight to the camera before heading out.
Ace Voltage: I proved at Grapple Kingdom III that I am better than Chaz and better than everyone on this roster. I didn’t need anybody’s help to beat Chaz. It was a piece of cake! Beating a multiple time Mid-Atlantic Legacy champion just adds to my legacy and to my soon to be historic title reign. As the best Mid-Atlantic Legacy champion in the history of FGA I…
Suddenly the camera pans out and we see Cassius Reed walk into the shot. Ace backs up from the camera and stands facing Cassius with a frustrated and annoyed look on his face.
Ace Voltage: Listen Reed, I’m not looking forward to our match later tonight either, but whatever BS you have to say about “being focused” or “being on the same page,” I don’t want to hear it.
Ace rolls his eyes and tries to leave, but Cassius stops him.
Cassius Reed: Sucka, keep that Hallmark sh*t in the cards you send your Granny. Cassius here to make sure you got your head on straight, and you know to keep the FUNK out of Cassius’ way. He don’t want to have to lay out your lights as well as these Space Cadets. Just stay in the corner, fill in a word jumble or whatever to keep yourself busy, and let DADDY REED take care of business. You dig?
Ace goes to rebut, but Cassius quickly silences him with a finger on his lips.
Cassius Reed: Nuh huh Junior, Cassius heard enough out of you. THE WHOLE DAMN WORLD heard enough out of you. Just sit down, shut the funk up, get Cassius’ belt all nice and shiny for when he takes it off your boring hands, and let PURE EBONY JESUS ON A BISCUIT CASSIUS REED TAKE THIS W YOU WHITEBREAD SON OF A BITCH.
Cassius smiles his million megawatt smile at Ace, keeping his finger on Voltage’s lips and continuously interrupting him with random sounds as he tries to talk back. Finally, Ace smacks Cassius’ hand away, but Reed just smirks, and moonwalks away. As he moonwalks away, we see Ace is left with a very confused look on his face like he just saw a ghost. Now that Ace is able to talk again...
Ace Voltage: Nice and shiny for when he takes this beauty off my hands? What just happened?
Ace laughs to himself.
Ace Voltage: Whatever. Never trust a man who talks in third person…
Ace walks out of the camera shot as he goes to get ready for the tag team match, the camera fades out looking at the “gift” Ace prepared for Chaz.
Our scene opens up to the smiling face of Amanda Johnson, standing in front of a “BB&T Bank” logo within the backstage corridors of the uncharacteristically-hushed BB&T Pavilion.
Amanda Johnson: Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, I’d like to introduce somebody that’s making their return to Vertigo for the first time in nearly a year… “The Chief” Evan Envi.
Amanda steps back and we pan out as the former two-time World Champion. Envi strolls into frame, dressed in a black shirt which simply reads “do better.” The small audience in attendance audibly pops at the sight of the Chief, who greets Johnson with a much more reserved, subtle smile.
Evan Envi: Feels like we haven’t been able to do this in a while.
Amanda Johnson: Well, now that our roster is all together, I’m sure we’ll be able to do this regularly. I know you’re getting ready with Kazu in there for your tag team match--
Evan Envi: I’ve expanded my Powerbomb repertoire just for him.
Amanda Johnson: --but before we got to it, I wanted to hear from you. I want to know if you’re still being driven by your rivalry with Ricky Valero. I wanna know if that's going to play a part in how you approach two of his known friends in Bristow & Barnes.
Evan opens his mouth to respond… but he chuckles under his breath, running a hand down his face, taking a moment, thinking of the right words.
Evan Envi: What Ricky and I had wasn’t a rivalry. Ricky Valero was my best friend. He was my absolute best friend in this business for years. He helped guide me to heights I’ve never been able to reach before in my career. And I fully admit that I owe Ricky a ton of gratitude. I fully admit that. But… what he wanted didn’t end at gratitude. Ricky wanted ownership of my career. I mean--
Evan Envi: If we’re being honest, he just wanted me gone. Our friendship didn’t have the same value anymore. He felt like I wasn’t holding up my end, so-- he just tried to remove me from the situation. It wasn’t a rivalry. It was…
Evan takes a breath, running a hand through his hair, gripping at the base of his skull.
Evan Envi: ...it’s over. And Bristow and Barnes? They’re not Ricky’s friends. A sociopath is incapable of keeping friends. Bristow & Barnes are a great tag team looking to make a name for themselves at two of the best Grapplers in the Frontier. I get that. And this should be their mindset. But if they think they’re gonna take advantage of Kazu and I-- two souls connected by the passion of Rock-- they’re misled. We’re not gonna roll over.
Amanda Johnson: Is the Tag Team Title scene where we should look for you next then?
Evan folds his arms, narrowing his eyes.
Evan Envi: It’s never something we discussed, y’know. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to stand out here and make that declaration without my partner standing right next to me. So-- I’ll hold off on saying that. Might be worth noting though, that I’ve never held a Tag Team Championship.
He looks off into the distance, smirking thoughtfully.
Evan Envi: Matter of fact, Amanda, I can think of a whole list of championships in the FGA that I’ve never even touched.
He looks down, nodding to himself for a moment before he looks back to Amanda.
Evan Envi: This is the beginning. I’ve been at this for thirteen years, but I haven’t even scratched the surface yet. I just feel… for the first time in my career… like I don’t have this overwhelming, crushing, suffocating pressure on me. But on that same token, it’s time to make waves, y’know?
Amanda Johnson: Well, I look forward to seeing it.
Evan gives the interviewer a wink and turns on his heel to make his way back toward Hirano’s dressing room-- but he pauses, raising a finger.
Evan Envi: You know… ever since she won the World Title from me, Fujiko’s been at the top of her game. And every single time I go out there now…
Envi turns, walking back toward Amanda.
Evan Envi: In the back of my head, I’m always wondering if I’m back at her level. I wonder, every single night, if I lost the World Title because I wasn’t on her level anymore. That’s what bugged me before Ricky took me out of commission and that haunted me during my recovery. And--
Amanda Johnson: Is that why you’ve been hanging around together so much?
Evan’s cheeks grow a rose color, but for a moment. He smirks and continues, picking up where he left off.
Evan Envi: --and I finally realized that it’s impossible to rebuild when you’re focused on somebody else’s trajectory. That’s why Grapple Kingdom ended the way it did for Ricky Valero. And that’s why, unfortunately for every other Grappler in FGA, I’m more focused on myself than ever, Amanda. Note that. Tweet it but don’t tweet it and save it in your drafts or something so you always have it on you. Note it.
Another hard wink as he meets the interviewer’s gaze, who gives him a coy-but-knowing smirk right back, in reference to her earlier, still-unanswered question.
Amanda Johnson: Fine, fine. Thanks, Evan.
Evan throws up his hand as he departs the scene as we’re left to fade on Amanda Johnson.
TAG TEAM MATCH Ace Voltage & Cassius Reed vs. The Saturnian Connection
The lights in the arena dim, and multiple green-and-blue lasers illuminate the interior of the arena with what appear to be starlight, giving its ceiling the look of a planetarium, earning a roar from Camden
"Attention, all personnel, this is CBTS; phase vehicle pre-count operation will start on my mark in
Polaris’ “Hey Sandy” explodes across the PA system as the arena lights explode to life, casting shades of blue and green across the arena. A white smoke billows at the top of the ramp-- and from it emerges Nando Fresno: Alien Hunter, pausing to scan the audience with a skeptical eye… though a brief smirk crosses his face as he’s met with a roar from the crowd. Nando treks down the ramp, though the camera lingers on the smoke as Jillian Clay emerges from behind him. Her eyebrows raise slightly as she admires the interior of the BB&T Pavilion, turning in a full three-sixty, arms at her sides as she reache the bottom of the ramp, looking out into the crowd with a grin.
J.A. Aldridge: Ladies and gentlemen, the following tag team contest is scheduled for ONE fall! Introducing first, making their way to the ring at a total combined weight of 286 pounds! They are the team of Nando Fresno: Alien Hunter and Jillian Clay… THE SATURNIAN CONNECTION!
Nando climbs the turnbuckles inside the ring, gazing out into the audience with an almost studious look, arms crossed calmly behind his back, while Clay seems hellbent on excitedly waving to every single fan that throws a hand up to wave to the challengers in the ring. Nando turns his gaze toward the ramp, eyes narrowed in determination.
Kris Cruise: The Saturnian Connection pulled off the upset against Silk & Cyanide on the last episode of Vertigo before the hiatus. Do they have any big win up their sleeves?
Stephy Auger: Of course they don’t! They got their little win on the last Vertigo. But what happened as Grapple Kingdom? I’ll tell you. Silk & Cyanide wiped the mat with them, that’s what!
Kris Cruise: I wouldn’t say that Silk & Cyanide “wiped the mat” with the Saturnian Connection. But they were able to retain their US Tag Titles against Nando Fresno and Jillian Clay. To Silk & Cyanide’s credit, they went into that match on the same page. They were a united front. Cassius and Ace? They are far from that.
It’s not my fault your girlfriend likes me, I do her hard like fucking warp speed, Your Dad’s mad, it’s not my fucking fault, That your Mom wants to fucking fuck me!
As the intro to “You Suck” by Pour Habit blasts throughout the arena, out from the back bursts Cassius Reed! Slowly rotating in his gold lined black ring robe Cassius soaks in the atmosphere for just a moment. Spinning to face the ring, he shadow boxes at the top of the ramp a short time more, before posing, spreading his arms wide, and sprinting down to the ring at full pace!
J.A. Aldridge: Their opponents! Introducing first, fighting out of Funkytown, USA, and tipping the scales tonight at 205lbs… CASSIUS! REED!
Sliding in under the bottom rope, he quickly rolls onto his back before kipping up! Giving a quick smirk and raised eyebrow to the referee, he turns and leaps to the top of the nearest turnbuckle, before whipping off his ring robe with a flourish. He poses just a moment at the top of the turnbuckle, smug grin on his face, robe hanging from his hand, before dropping back to the mat, consigning his entrance gear to the outside whilst he finishes warming up for the match with more shadow boxing.
Kris Cruise: Oh I bet he is. He also seems hell bent on knockin out Ace Voltage for his Mid-Atlantic Legacy title, too!
Stephy Auger: Look at Cassius! He’s ready to knock a pair of Space Cadet Suckas out!
Stephy Auger: There you go again trying to start trouble.
Kris Cruise: I’m trying to start trouble? Cassius went into Ace’s locker room and told him that to his face.
The arena goes dark and "Thunderstruck by AC/DC starts blaring over the sound system. As the words "THUNDER" are shouted into the arena each time, the lights flash yellow.
I WAS CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A RAILROAD TRACK
A white spotlight shines on the ramp and Ace Voltage appears from backstage, once the lyrics start going. He is wearing a black jacket with his name on the back and his light blue tights. He shines a smirk to the crowd, zips open the jacket to show off his torso and the rest of the lights come on, with yellow and blue lighting flashing around. He walks down the ramp, nodding his head to the music, laughing to himself when he hears the boos and insults from the crowd.
J.A. Aldridge: His partner, hailing from London, England! Weighing in at 15.8 stone! He is the reigning FGA Mid-Atlantic Legacy Champion… ACE VOLTAGE!
As he's going down the entrance ramp, he walks close to the guardrail ready to slap the hands of the one or two fans. Before he can slap their hands, he quickly rips his hands away, smirks to the booing fans and walks down to the ring. He jumps up onto the apron and steps into the ring. He walks to the corner, jumping on the second rope, looking out into the crowd. He raises an arm in the air, smirking and smiling to the fans. After a few seconds, he jumps down, takes his jacket off and waits for the match to start.
Stephy Auger: There’s the Mid-Atlantic Legacy champ. The GREATEST Mid-Atlantic Legacy champ, might I add! He said so himself!
Kris Cruise: Well I’m pretty sure Izzy Anders and Chaz Holiday would have something to say about that.
Stephy Auger: Well he just beat Chaz, so so much for that! As far as Izzy is concerned, we both know she’s gone soft. The old Izzy? She’d give Ace a run for his money. But this new Izzy? Please, Cruise. Ace Voltage is about to take that Mid-Atlantic Legacy title to new heights!
Kris Cruise: Not if Cassius Reed has any say so.
Stephy Auger: Why are you trying to pit my favorites against each other? Can’t we just sit back and enjoy watching them run circles around the Space Cadets.
The match starts off with SatCon ready for action. But on the other side of the ring, Reed and Voltage are arguing over who shoulder start the match.
Kris Cruise: How are these two going to coexist? They can’t even put their egos to the side!
The two continue to argue until Clay and Fresno rush over and knock them down with dropkicks.
Stephy Auger: CHEAP SHOT! They weren't ready!
A second pair of dropkicks return Reed and Voltage to the mat. The Saturnian Connection split off as Fresno moves Reed into one corner while Clay moves Voltage into the other. From there, Clay starts to hit Voltage with multiple forearms. In the opposite corner, Fresno goes to work on Clay with Holyfield-esque jabs and hooks. Suddenly, Reed is able to slip away from one of the punches, move Fresno into the corner and return the favor with various body blows. Back across the ring, Voltage cuts off Clay’s offense with a rake across the eyes. Clay is then moved into the corner before Voltage lights up her chest with knife edge chops. Voltage and Reed then turn to look at each other. After exchanging a nod, they take SatCon and go for an irish whip. But they get reversed. The crowd cheers en Reed and Voltage collide in the center of the ring!
Stephy Auger: Gah!
They start to stumble away from each other until dropkicks to the back from both Fresno and Clay send them colliding once again!
Kris Cruise: Cassius and Ace with another meeting of the minds!
Stephy Auger: This isn’t funny!
Reed attempts to shake out the cobwebs as he tries to return to his feet. Once he’s back to a vertical base, he tries to gather his bearings until Fresno sends him down with a running hurricanrana. Fresno then pulls Reed back to his feet, grabs him from the side and delivers a russian leg sweep through the ropes. Reed ends up landing on the apron while Fresno rolls through to land on his feet on the floor. Back inside, Voltage gets taken down with a pair of arm drags before an overflow arm drag sends Voltage rolling to the outside. Clay then lines up Voltage on the outside before taking off into the far ropes. She runs back across the ring, slingshots out and over onto the middle rope, flips off and knocks him down with an Asai Moonsault! Around the corner, Fresno rolls back inside before trying to wave Reed back to his feet. As The Funky Dragon starts to pull himself up on the apron using the ropes, the Alien Hunter rushes into the corner, springboards onto the middle turnbuckles, jumps back and knocks Reed to the floor to complete the triangle dropkick!
Kris Cruise: Cassius and Ace are all out of sorts!
Stephy Auger: Yeah, because they got jumped from behind by those thugs!
Kris Cruise: I thought I’d never hear the Saturnian Connection referred to as “thugs,” yet here we are!
Stephy Auger: Well that’s what they are, so there!
Fresno returns to the floor before taking Reed and whipping him down ringside. While Reed lays up against the guardrail, Fresno runs down the ringside arena, leaps into the air and squashes him against the guardrail with a Stinger Splash. After Fresno drops down to all fours, Clay runs down ringside, launches herself off Fresno’s back and hurls herself into Reed with a cannonball senton!
Kris Cruise: The Funky Dragon is in a world of hurt!
The Saturnian Connection take Reed and roll him back into the ring before sliding back inside. From there, SatCon pulls Reed back to his feet before sending him down to the mat with a double spinning arm wrench takedown. Fresno goes down for the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Reed kicks out.
Kris Cruise: SatCon failed to become US Tag Champions at Grapple Kingdom. But you can rest assure that the loss didn’t discourage them. They’ll keep at it.
Stephy Auger: Well, isn’t that just sweet.
Fresno takes Reed and whips him into the ropes. As Reed returns, he sees Fresno leaning forward to set up a back body drop. So he stops and counters with Johnny Cage (split-legged punch) right to the face, knocking him down. The Funky Dragon gets back to his feet and faces away Fresno before throwing out Funky Knee, Funky Do (Kneecolepsy). He misses! The crowd cheers when Fresno rolls out of the way, causing Reed to land knees-first on the mat. With Reed down on all fours, Fresno takes him by the arm before rolling him up in La Magistral.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Reed kicks out.
Kris Cruise: He almost got him!
Both grapplers return to their feet before Fresno quickly wraps him up in a small package.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Reed kicks out.
Kris Cruise: Nando nearly got him again!
Stephy Auger: Cassius, please!
Fresno grabs Reed by the arm, wrenches it and drags him over towards the SatCon corner before tagging Clay in. Clay springboards to the top rope, jumps off and delivers a double ax handle smash across Reed’s arm before bringing him down with a single arm DDT! She makes the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Reed gets the shoulder up.
Clay grabs a hold of Reed and sets up for an irish whip when Reed reverses, sending Clay across the ring. When Clay hits the ropes, the crowd boos when Voltage cheapshots her with a kick to the back from the apron!
Kris Cruise: There you go, Stephy! Scream about that cheap shot from Ace Voltage!
Stephy Auger: What!? Where!? I was looking down at my phone. I must’ve missed it.
Kris Cruise: ...
Clay quickly turns around and goes after Voltage. But the Mid-Atlantic Legacy Champion is wise to hop down to the floor to safety. Clay continues to have words for Voltage when she gets yanked up from behind by Reed. The Funky Dragon proceeds to parade Clay around the ring before falling back and driving her down with a belly to back suplex. Reed grabs Clay by the hair and yanks her back to her feet before throwing her down with a snap suplex. Reed rolls over, yanks Clay back up by the ears before throwing her down with a second snap suplex. As Clay is writhing in pain on the mat, Reed looks over and sees Voltage calling for the tag. The Funky Dragon hesitates before heading over and tagging Voltage in.
Stephy Auger: The champ is ready to get him some!
Kris Cruise: Yeah, after Cassius did all the heavy lifting.
The crowd boos as Voltage immediately rushes in to put the boots to Clay. Voltage continues to stomp away on Clay before following up with a knee drop across the chest. He then reaches over for the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Clay kicks out.
Voltage quickly returns to his feet before dropping a knee across Clay’s face. He reaches back over for the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Clay kicks out again.
Frustrated, Voltage returns to his feet before delivering stomps across all fours limbs. Clay is then pulled back to her feet before being brought down with a vertical suplex. A back suplex returns Clay to the mat. Voltage then hooks both of Clay’s arms before throwing her down with a butterfly suplex. He makes the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Clay gets the shoulder up.
Clay starts to fight back with rights and lefts to the body until Voltage moves her into his team’s corner. From there, Reed holds Clay’s arms back while Voltage rattles off multiple jabs before following up with a right hand! After a tag is made, Voltage holds Clay’s arms back while Reed nails her with a Pimp Slap! Voltage is then tagged back in. Reed holds Clay’s arms back while Voltage hits her with multiple forearm strikes! Another tag is made. Voltage holds Clay’s arms back while The Funky Dragon connects with the Spanish Archer (Bionic Elbow)!
Stephy Auger: Look at that, Cruise. They’re liked a well-oiled machine out there.
Reed pulls Clay from out of the corner before throwing her down with a release northern lights suplex. The Funky Dragon makes his way out to the apron before scaling the turnbuckles. Once he’s ascended to the top, he flips off for a diving somersault leg drop… and misses! The crowd cheers when Clay rolls out of the way, causing Reed to crash hard on the mat. Voltage throws his arms up in frustration in the corner before holding his arm out for the tag.
Kris Cruise: The high risk didn’t pay off there did it, Stephy?
Stephy Auger: You know it didn’t, so why are you asking me!?
Fresno starts to clap his hands as he tries to get the small crowd to rally behind Clay. The crowd takes their cue from Fresno and start to clap in unison. On the canvas, Clay is seen beginning to feed off the energy of the crowd. She then starts to pull herself towards the SatCon corner. Fresno reaches his arm out for the tag while Voltage is yelling at Reed to hurry up. Reed looks over and sees Clay getting closer and closer to her corner. So he starts rolling over towards his corner. Boos are heard when he reaches over and tags Voltage back in. The Mid-Atlantic Legacy Champion rushes in and tries to cut Clay off. But it’s too late. She dives over and tags Fresno back in! Fresno quickly springboards to the top turnbuckle before nocking a charging Voltage down with a missile dropkick! Voltage is then whipped into the far ropes before getting caught off the rebound with a spinning heel kick! He makes the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Voltage kicks out.
As Voltage is getting pulled up off the mat, he pushes Fresno back to create distance. He then rushes forward to throw out a running lariat. But he misses when Fresno counters with a somersault axe kick! He makes the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Voltage gets the shoulder up.
Fresno takes Voltage and sends him into the corner before following up with a Stinger Splash. After Voltage is whipped into the opposite corner, Fresno goes for another Stinger Splash when Voltage dives out of the way, causing him to misses. Fresno yells for Reed to get over into the corner and hold Fresno. The Funky Dragon does just that and holds Fresno’s arms back! Voltage proceeds to line Fresno up before rushing into the far corner. The Mid-Atlantic Legacy Champion throws out Thunderstruck (Helluva Kick)... and misses when Fresno rips himself free and dives out of the way, causing Reed to get caught with the boot!
Reed crumbles to the outside. Once again, Voltage throws his arms up in frustration. While the champion looks down and yells at Reed, Fresno rushes up from behind and executes an O’Connor Roll.
Kris Cruise: Fresno rolled up him! He’s got the cover!
Stephy Auger: NOOOOOO!
ONE! . Fresno bridges back into a prawn hold . TWO! . . THREE!
Kris Cruise: He did it!
Stephy Auger: What!?
Kris Cruise: Fresno did it!
Stephy Auger: What!?
The crowd cheers when “Hey Sandy” hits the speakers.
J.A. Aldridge: Ladies and gentlemen, the winners of this bout… THE SATURNIAN CONNECTION!
The cheers continue as Fresno and Clay celebrate the win. Back in the ring, Voltage is pleading with the referee that it was only a two count. Unfortunately for him, the ref stands his ground and lets him now that it was a three count.
Kris Cruise: The Saturnian Connection have done it once again! They’ve pulled off yet another upset, defeating Ace Voltage and Cassius Reed here tonight! What a win for this young tag team!
We return to the ring where the fans are already sitting at a fever pitch. That’s because, standing in the ring before them are the current DDT3 Champions, the Hellcat Spangled Death Squad.
Lisa Seldon: To say we are upset would be an understatement.
While Ana Hayden sits perched quite comfortably on the top turnbuckle, it’s left to Lisa Seldon to lord her way around the ring. So she stops herself for a second, drawing in a dramatic pause.
Lisa Seldon: Last year we came to Frontier with clear intentions. It was a remarkable honour to make the lineup for DDT3 but we weren’t just here to make up the numbers, we were coming to win. And so we fought our way through former finalists, former champions and one foul-mouthed, serial killer looking prick.
She rewards herself with a little smile for that one. Never been a fan.
Lisa Seldon: It was never easy, but we did it. One of the most prestigious, most consistent tournaments in our sport. Seven tournaments across seven years, fought over by the best of the best amongst the very best. It’s enough just to make the cut, it’s enough just to survive the first round. And in four straight matches we proved beyond doubt that we are right there with the top teams in the world.
She pauses as a cheer ripples around the building. Behind her Ana raises her arms, encouraging it to grow.
Lisa Seldon: And I don’t want to sound ungrateful. That would have been enough for us. We’d etched our names in time. And forever long this tournament or even we survive; when we’re old and weird and we’ve turned on each other like forty times, we will always have our place in history.
Obvious future betrayer Ana Hayden nods along.
Lisa Seldon: Winning DDT3 was its own reward. But we earned our shot. And you were owed a match. Not just that but a first time Dream Match. Pendragon and the Hellcats, the best of FGA against the best in the world. We go all around the world shouting about how much we care about tag team wrestling, how much we want this scene to thrive. This was our chance to prove, and instead I came to with a knot on my head because your spare set of tag team champions didn’t like that they were left out of the picture.
At that Ana steps down from the turnbuckle and takes over the mic.
Anastasia Hayden: So, we’re still here and we still want our match with Pendragon. But now, we want Silk & Cyanide.
The intro of "Take A Chance" by CFO$ plays over the PA system, signalling the arrival not of the United States Tag Team Champions, Silk & Cyanide, but of the World Tag Team Champions, Pendragon. The song instantly creates a buzz amongst those in attendance, and the cheers increase in volume when Neal Durden walks out through the curtains, followed closely by Lowri Moss. Dressed casually, with the World tag titles over their respective right shoulders, and with the Pride Championship over Lowri's left shoulder, the Welsh tandem stand side by side on the stage for a moment, smiling as they survey the crowd, savouring the welcome, before they then make their way down the aisle. Once inside the ring, the duo come face-to-face with the Hellcats for a second, before Lowri turns to gesture to the fans watching, both in the venue and at home, by making the ILY sign with her right hand. She then goes to collect a pair of microphones, one of which she hands to Neal, and as they turn back to face Ana and Lisa again, their music begins to fade out.
Lowri Moss: Sorry for interrupting the two of you, but Neal and I were watching backstage, and after what we heard you both say, we thought that we couldn’t just sit idly by.
Neal Durden: Yeah, like… we’re the best tag team in the world, by any measure you might have...
Smiling wryly, Lowri almost appears to be holding back a chuckle, as she turns to look at Neal.
Lowri Moss: While that is correct, that isn’t actually what I was referred to.
She then returns her attention to the Hellcats.
Lowri Moss: We heard what you said about Silk & Cyanide, bringing up what they did at Grapple Kingdom, attacking the four of us, and how now because of that, not only do you want another match with us, but you want them as well-- and we’re right there with you. Like you said, Lisa, Pendragon versus the Hellcats was a dream match, and Silk & Cyanide… they robbed the four of us, not to mention everyone watching, of a definitive ending to that match.
Neal puts his hands up, as if to take a turn to talk, now more serious than what he was before.
Neal Durden: Just like they stole from us before. It’s not the first time, I’m sure it won’t be the last, but at least it’s time for them to get what’s coming. The tag team division in FGA has seen its ups and downs through the years, but I have a feeling our match was the biggest in its history… and they took it away.
There is a nod of the head from Lowri.
Lowri Moss: That they did.
Which is then quickly followed by a sigh.
Lowri Moss: And of course, there's no way of knowing for certain what the outcome of our match would’ve been if Silk & Cyanide hadn't interfered, but what I do know is that Neal and I aren’t satisfied that we retained our titles thanks to a no contest, so we want to do what we can to rectify things: we want to put our titles on the line against the two of you, in a rematch from Grapple Kingdom-- Pendragon versus the Hellcat Spangled Death Squad, for the FGA World Tag Team Championship, one more time.
Lowri’s statement elicits a pop from the small crowd present inside the BB&T Pavilion, clearly in anticipation of another match between the two teams...that is until a disdainful chuckle echoes through the arena, the sound of which causes both teams to turn and look towards the top of the ramp, and when they do they see Silk & Cyanide - not at the top of the ramp, instead on the videotron, literally looking down upon the four of them.
Erin Mariani: There’s no need for the four of you to finish on my part. Please, continue with what you were saying, as we found it so frightfully amusing.
Chuckling to herself, while keeping her eyes fixed on the camera in front of her, Mariani takes a long, soothing drag on her vape pen and exhales a cloud of cinnamon-scented vapour into the room, which in their confined space causes Mason to momentarily aim a side-eye of mild annoyance.
Erin Mariani: Oh such a pity, no snappy comeback from any of you. I guess you used up all your creative energy massaging one anothers egos for the sake of…
Aiming a quizzical look at the camera, therefore the direction of the four in the ring, Mariani finds herself at the base of a conundrum.
Erin Mariani: ...what exactly is the purpose of your little congress? Because all we can hear is a low, atonal drone of self-congratulation and self-pity, where one moment you claim to all be so marvelous yet the next all you can do is howl with despair because you looked anything but marvelous. And that’s the problem: you have a cake in front of you, and it looks so delicious you cannot wait to devour it like the uncouth creatures you are, yet at the same time it looks so pretty that you daren’t destroy it, but those feeble brains of yours are trying to work out how you can do both.
Sara Mason: Spoiler alert: you can’t.
Mason can’t help but smirk.
Sara Mason: I know the two of you are new around here, so you don’t have any idea about how things work, but let me give you a heads up: if you walk in the door and assume you’re better than somebody, that tends to lead to ill feeling. And you know what ill feeling leads to? Hurt feelings, specifically yours - because all you can feel is the hurt we put on each and every one of you to remind you that looking past us is not in your best interests, because when you look past us you also look away from what’s headed your way as a result. Are you getting it yet?
Having posed her question, Mason sits back with her arms folded, patiently waiting for the answer.
Lisa Seldon: Oh buddy.
We hop off the video screen and spin back around to Lisa, chewing on the inside of her cheek.
Lisa Seldon: That’s an awful lot of big talk for someone hiding out in their lair because they knew what would happen if they even got within five feet of us.
Everyone around the ring is busy making their own social distancing joke in their head so Lisa just carries right along.
Lisa Seldon: So sure, we might be new around here but we’re not new at this. So let me spell it out to you. You were never a part of this conversation. No one was looking past you because no one was even looking in your direction. You’re trying to talk down to everyone in here when in credibility terms you’re about 4 foot tall and you proved that when you ruined our match just because you didn’t get to be a part of it.
Lisa leans over the ropes, leering at the screen.
Lisa Seldon: But hey, you’re in it now. So how about you get out here so we can see if you can keep talking all that sh*t when you’ve got no teeth.
For a moment Silk & Cyanide are silent...until Mason starts to chuckle in the direction of those in the ring, at which point she simply raises her hand into shot to reveal a remote, at which point she clicks a button and continues.
Sara Mason: Oh I’m sorry, you thought I actually had any interest in hearing any of you yack and yack and yack while we stand there. Well I hate to break it to you, but the beauty part of us being here means we don't have to listen to any of you, and I have to say one thing: silence is so very, very golden.
Mason aims a look towards the ring that looks uncannily like one that a parent would give to a child who said something incredibly stupid.
Sara Mason: But please, go back to saying how terrible it is that we left each and every one of you laying in the ring, yet somehow you just cannot figure out that there was a very good reason for us to do so. It’s fun watching you come oh-so-close to an answer but it dangles tantalisingly out of reach, really it is.
Lowri looks towards Neal and shrugs, before then interjecting herself.
Lowri Moss: I get it. The two of you like to provoke people, you like to antagonise people, especially when you feel that you've been disrespected, or that you've been overlooked. You knew how much not only Neal and I, as well as Lisa and Ana, but the fans as well, had been looking forward to our match at Grapple Kingdom, and you took offence to that - you felt slighted by it. And so, you decided to take matters into your own hands, and to make things all about you.
Neal lets his shoulders drop, letting a sigh escape him as he drives the microphone back towards him.
Neal Durden: We get it, or rather-- I get it. It’s not easy to be in the shadows; it’s not easy to see yourself as the second choice. In fact, if I were in your position, an argument could be made that I would’ve done the same thing. It’s perfectly understandable. But, I really hope… deep down inside my heart of hearts… that you two didn’t think you’d just get whatever you want and get things the way you wanted them, just because you wished for them so badly that you had to get your noses involved just to set things in motion. Every action has a reaction… I hope you’re ready for the reaction.
Rather than immediately respond, Mason simply holds up the remote a second time and waggles it in front of the camera, just to remind Durden that she is currently enjoying the luxury of being able to make him be silent without having to break a sweat, meanwhile Mariani simply looks down at the four of them and with a flick of her wrist and minute shake of the head she points out one tiny flaw in what was just said.
Erin Mariani: I do believe that the four of you are talking about us right now, are you not?
Mariani maintains a disdainful look in their direction for a moment, while Mason snickers next to her.
Erin Mariani: Can you really not see that we have already got the only reaction that matters...
Holding her hand out flat, Mariani twitches her fingers as if miming her manipulating a puppet's strings
Erin Mariani: So tell me, puppet, when are you going to stop wasting our time and give us what we want? You are long-overdue a lesson in humility, and the first thing that you need to learn is that what happened the last time we had the misfortune of having to share the same oxygen as the four of you was a mere taste of what you deserve, and more importantly we deserve to be the ones who cause the bubble you have surrounded yourself with to shatter and come crashing down around you.
Rather than say another word, instead Mason holds up a hand and sarcastically waves with her index and middle finger barely moving, at which point she simply lifts up the remote and kills the feed.
Kris Cruise: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Vertigo. I’m Kris Cruise. We just witnessed a strong war of words between the Hellcat Spangled Death Squad, Pendragon and Silk & Cyanide. I’m being told that we’ve got Spencer Burke standing by backstage with some breaking news regarding those three teams. Spencer, what do you got?
The production team cuts to a split screen between Cruise and Stephy Auger at the announce table and Spencer Burke at a designated interview area backstage.
Spencer Burke: Thanks, Kris. As we know, FGA Officials are still highly upset over the actions of Silk & Cyanide at Grapple Kingdom. We have to remember, this wasn’t just a dream matchup between Pendragon and the Hellcats. This was a match where the winners of the 2019 Dynamic Duos Tag Team Tournament finally got their shot at the champions of their choosing. Silk & Cyanide can spin this however they like. But their actions have upset FGA Officials and as we heard before the break, they have ticked off both Pendragon and the Hellcat Spangled Death Squad. During the break, I caught up with a member of the championship committee. What I’ve been told is that if both teams want Silk & Cyanide, then so be it. At Only the Strong Survive, it will be Pendragon versus the Hellcat Spangled Death Squad versus Sulk & Cyanide. That’s not all! On the next edition of Vertigo, Silk & Cyanide will be in action… to defend their United States Tag Team Championship against the Hellcat Spangled Death Squad!
Stephy Auger: WHAT!?
Kris Cruise: Wow!
Stephy Auger: WHAT!? They can’t do that!
Kris Cruise: Well, they ARE the Championship Committee. That’s pretty much what they’re there for, Stephy!
Stephy Auger: This is an outrage! The Hellcats had their shot and they couldn’t get the job done! They couldn’t seal the deal!
Kris Cruise: They couldn't seal the deal because Silk & Cyanide attacked them before any deal could be sealed! Silk & Cyanide put themselves in this situation. Now, they have to deal with the consequences. Spencer, thank you.
Spencer Burke: Anytime.
TAG TEAM MATCH Evan Envi & Kazu Hirano vs. Bristow & Barnes
“Run This Town” by Jay-Z feat. Kanye West & Rihanna starts to play. Strobes begin surveying the building as darkness has taken over the arena. Bright lights shine on the entranceway nearly drowning the entire scene in white as Tully Barnes and Nate Bristow emerge from the backstage area. The two tag partners stand at the top of the entranceway with smug smirks on their faces and their eyes focused on the ring in front of them. The lights quickly dim again and the arena is filled with green and yellow laser lights as Bristow & Barnes start toward the ring.
J.A. Aldridge: Ladies and gentlemen, the following tag team contest is scheduled for ONE fall! Introducing first, making their way to the ring at a total combined weight of 495 pounds… BRISTOW & BARNES!
As Bristow & Barnes reach the ring, they turn toward one another and hit their forearms together. They head for opposite sides of the ring, leaping up to the apron and propping themselves up on one knee. They stare out into the crowd as they pop up to both feet with their backs against the ropes and their arms outstretched.
Kris Cruise: Bristow & Barnes, Ricky Valero’s former underlings, are in action here tonight. They’re badly looking for a W.
Stephy Auger: You think Valero called in a favor to his old running mates to get revenge for him?
Kris Cruise: I think Ricky Valero has more pressing matters to deal with at the moment. We won’t make light of what’s been happening in Valero’s personal life. But we do wish Ricky the best as he steps away from the ring for a bit to get the help that he needs.
Now inside the ring, they cross paths and perch up on the ropes on the opposite of the ring, one foot on the bottom rope and one foot on the middle, taunting the fans as they await their opponents.
A rock band with a full god damn orchestra is set up in the entryway – a collective known as SUPERNOVA. How the fuck does a pro wrestling newcomer put an entrance like this together? He went out into the world, became a regular in a few places, and made a lot of friends. These are the Watarimono's musician pals from all over – an interchanging group that is never the same for more than one gig, yet synced as if their individual destinies were meant for this performance of “I Am The Walrus.” They strike a perfect balance between the psychedelic LSD-inspired original by The Beatles and the powerful cocaine-fueled Oasis cover – a life-changing experience for everyone fortunate enough to have them make fuck to their ears. Kazu Hirano is not a technically good singer by any means, but there's a lot of energy and he never fails to nail the chorus.
J.A. Aldridge: Their opponents! Introducing first, hailing from Koenji, Tokyo, Japan! Weighing in at 176 pounds! He is the “Watarimono,” KAZU HIRANO!
HIRANO: “I AM THE EGG MAN!”
CROWD: Throwing their arms in the air when Hirano points the mic at them. “WOO!”
HIRANO: “THEY ARE THE EGG MEN!”
CROWD: Throwing their arms in the air when Hirano points the mic at them. “WOO!”
HIRANO: “I AM THE WALRUS! GOO GOO G'JOOB!”
It takes minutes for Hirano to get in the ring. He teases his entrance on the apron before turning back around to entertain the fans more. Hirano does this even past all the singing parts and well into the extended soul-awakening instrumental. This frustrates referees and opponents, but one can spend hours listening to the music and watching this wonderful man not get in the ring. Fans cheer when he finally does enter, where he'll continue playing to them unless he gets attacked or jumped.
Stephy Auger: You know what I just realized?
Kris Cruise: What’s that?
Stephy Auger: We finally have someone who has a more obnoxious ring entrance that Fujiko! Impressive!
Kris Cruise: Stop it, Stephy.
The familiar, frantic instrumental slams into the PA system, drawing a pop from the crowd in attendance. Multi-colored strobes dance throughout the venue as the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” blares throughout. Upon the first hint of vocals, Evan Envi steps through the tunnel and onto the ramp, his signature jacket thrown on, hood pulled up over his head, slightly obscuring the view of his face. He takes a few steps forward, eyes pointed downward… until a smirk crosses his face and he looks up, peeling the hood off of his head..
J.A. Aldridge: His partner, hailing from Ocean City, Maryland! Weighing in at 204 pounds! He is the “Chief,” EVAN ENVI!
Raising his signature Double V’s high into the air, Envi makes his way down the ramp. Evan climbs the stairs and finally lowers his arms once he’s climbed the ropes near the turnbuckles as if walking a staircase, standing at the top as he unzips his jacket, shooting a small smile toward the audience members nearest to him.
Kris Cruise: I never thought we’d see the day when Evan Envi would be embraced by these fans again. But here we are. Envi has made a turn for the better after returning to the ring and defeating Ricky Valero at Grapple Kingdom. We saw him wondering earlier tonight if he’s got what it takes to compete at Fujiko Mine’s level.
Stephy Auger: If this were the Evan Envi of old? Of course! No problem. But this new Evan Envi? I don’t think so. He lost the edge that Ricky Valero gave him. He only reached the heights that he did because Ricky Valero pushed him. Envi said so himself!
Envi tosses his jacket aside and leaps from the top rope down into the ring, running the ropes just once before coming to a stop at the ropes nearest to the hard camera, staring coolly into the lens-- at someone-- before the smallest smile returns to his face and he backs to the center of the ring, music fading.
Before Envi can get ready, he’s quickly attacked from behind with clubbing strikes from Bristow & Barnes.
Kris Cruise: Look out!
Stephy Auger: See! The Envi of old would have never left himself open like that! Plus, Valero would have had his back and seen it coming a mile away. Kazu Hirano over there is too busy playing the air drums!
The two continue to double team Envi until Hirano rushes over to make the save! He spins Bristow towards him and hits him with multiple chops. After taking control of the wrist, Hirano throws out a short-arm lariat. Bristow is able to duck the lariat before quickly taking control of Hirano’s back. He lifts Hirano up for a belly to back suplex when Hirano rolls over his shoulders, lands on his feet and takes control of Bristow’s back. The crowd cheers when Hirano connects with I Want To Hold Your Hand (Ripcord Lariat, but holding their hand instead of wrist)! But Bristow remains standing. So Hirano hits the far ropes, comes back and knocks him down with Maxwell's Silver Hammer (Polish Hammer)! Bristow gets returned to the mat with Maxwell’s Silver Hammer again! Hirano then takes Bristow and delivers a irish whip before following him across the ring. As soon as Bristow comes off the ropes, Hirano connects with a running shotgun dropkick that knocks Bristow through the ropes and to the floor.
Across the ring, Barnes slams Envi repeatedly face-first into the top turnbuckle. After turning Envi around, Barnes unleashes a series of knife edge chops that echo throughout the arena. Bristow continues to chop away until the Chief grabs him, tosses him into the corner and returns the favor with a knife edge chop of his own. Envi fires off another chop, followed by a European Uppercut. Envi looks around to the crowd and nods before delivering rapid, multiple European Uppercuts and knife-edged chops interchangeably while the crowd “WOOOO!”s after each strike. Barnes is then pulled out of the corner before being thrown down hard with a Uranage. He holds the back of his head while slowly rolling to the outside.
Kris Cruise: Bristow & Barns jumped Evan Envi to start this match off. But look how quickly the tide has turned!
Envi and Hirano meet up in the center of the ring. Hirano points to the outside and sees Bristow & Barnes regrouping. The two nod before taking off into the far ropes. Once they return, Hirano runs forward, leaps through the ropes and takes out Bristow with a suicide dive while Envi dives through the ropes to knock Barnes down with a suicide European Uppercut!
Kris Cruise: Tandem offense from The Goodest Guys!
Stephy Auger: Don’t you call them that!
Barnes is rolled back inside before Envi and Hirano climb up onto the apron. They take a look at both Bristow and Barnes before heading in opposite directions on the apron.
Stephy Auger: What are these two goofballs doing now?
Envi climbs up in the left corner while Hirano scales the adjacent right corner. Once each grappler makes their way to the top, Hirano flips off and knocks Bristow down with a moonsault to the outside while Envi knocks Barnes down with a flying senton bomb! He makes the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Barnes gets the shoulder up.
Kris Cruise: Envi got only a two count, but he’s in firm control here.
Stephy Auger: Bristow & Barnes can still turn this around! Right? Right!?
Envi takes Barnes and whips him into the ropes before setting up for a back body drop. Barnes returns and sees Envi setting up for the move way too early. So he stops, grabs Envi by the ears, runs and tosses him through the ropes and to the floor. He then makes his way to the outside before ramming Envi back-first into the guardrail. Hirano heads to help out his partner until Bristow rushes up from behind and knocks him down with a northern lariat. The two then proceed to put the boots to Envi before rolling him back inside. Bristow & Barnes make their way back into the ring before whipping Envi into the far corner. Barnes takes control of Bristow’s wrist before sending him barreling across the ring with an irish whip. Instead of Bristow connecting with a strike, Envi cuts him off with a back elbow to the face. Barnes then tries his luck with a running attack. Envi goes to cut him off with a boot to the ace. But Barnes is wise enough to slam on the brakes before catching his foot. He continues to taunt Envi until the Chief catches him with an enzuigiri. As Barnes staggers away from the corner, Envi slowly makes his way out of the corner before bouncing against the ropes. When he returns, he ducks a clothesline from Barnes before Bristow lifts him up across his shoulders. They’ve got Envi lined up for a double team move until Hirano reaches in and wraps his arms around Barnes’ ankle. The pause in action allows Envi time to hit Bristow with repeated elbows to the side of the head before slipping down from behind. Across the ring, Barnes turns around, grabs Hirano by the hair and yanks him up to the apron. He goes to bring Hirano back inside with a vertical suplex until Hirano slips down from behind. He goes for an O'Connor Roll, but Barnes wraps his arms around the top rope before yanking back, sending Hirano down to the mat. After Hirano rolls back to his feet, Barnes charges forward and throws out a strike. But Hirano is quick enough to slip out of the way and push forward just as Envi pushes Bristow forward before behind. The crowd cheers when Bristow & Barnes collide in the center of the ring. Bristow stumbles back and drops down to a knee before Envi hits the ropes, returns and brings him down with a running cutter. Meanwhile, Hirano hits the far ropes, comes back and brings Barnes down with a Sling Blade!
Kris Cruise: Envi and Hirano are back in control.
Envi and Hirano look at each other and nod before heading into opposite corners.
Kris Cruise: Now they’re going back up top...
Once both grapplers make their way to the top, Envi flips off and delivers The Classics across Bristow’s back while Hirano flips off and lands down across Barnes with a diving somersault leg drop. Hirano takes Barnes and tosses him to the outside while Envi takes hold of Bristow before delivering Guess Who (inverted headlock into a snap backbreaker)! He makes the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . THREE!
The crowd explodes with cheers as “Helter Skelter” blasts over the PA.
J.A. Aldridge: Ladies and gentlemen, the winners of this bout… EVAN ENVI and KAZU HIRANO!
The cheers continue as Envi and Hirano gets their arms raised in victory.
Kris Cruise: Evan Envi and Kazu Hirano pick up the win! The Chief picks up right where he left off at Grapple Kingdom with another win. I’m sure he couldn’t have asked for a better partner than having Kazu right by his side. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got more action still to come! But right now, let’s send it to the back where Jessie Pederson is standing by. Jessie, take it away!
The scene switches to the back where FGA intrepid interviewer Jessie Pederson is standing by with Ashley Marie Chase who is in her ring gear ready to compete. She seems to be in not the greatest of moods.
Jessie Pederson: Ashley the last time we saw you was at Grapple Kingdom III where you came up short for the 15 Championship.
AMC gives Jessie a WTF look
Ashley Marie Chase: Came up short? I don’t think so sweetie. Watch the footage and you will see it was not I that was pinned, oh no it was Lesser Ashley that got pinned in that match! Bisley knew he could not beat me so he made sure to pin Mrs. Sands instead!
Jessie Pederson: That may be true but regardless Mark Bisley is now the 15 Champion and will in fact defend his title against former Champion Ashley Sands.
AMC rolls her eyes
Ashley Marie Chase: Yeah, yeah I know what the matches are for tonight! As far as I am concerned, since I did not lose that 3 way match that makes me still the number 1 contender! As far as i am concerned, I am still owed a one on one match against the champion!
Jessie Pederson: So does that mean you will be challenging the winner of the title match tonight?
AMC gives a golf clap
Ashley Marie Chase: Very good Jessie! Yes, I am challenging the winner of that match because as I said I am the number one contender and uncrowned 15 Champion and I WILL take that title in the very near future!!
Jessie Pederson: Well everybody will be watching closely to see who you might face for that title. However tonight you have your own match against Patrick Jones. So I have to ask, are you prepared to face him or are you overlooking him as you concentrate on Mark Bisley and Ashley Sands?
AMC stares daggers through Jessie who takes a step away from AMC while still holding the microphone up to her mouth
Ashley Marie Chase: Seriously? Do you really think I would look past anybody? Do I look like an idiot to you? Yes I may have my eyes on the 15 Championship but unlike some contenders, I don't plan to lay down and sneak into a title match on my back. I will go out there tonight and do what I do best and put on a wrestling clinic. I know that Patrick Jones has skills and I know he will not be an easy opponent and I prefer it that way. I want the world to see exactly why I am your next 15 Champion!!
AMC smirks and starts to leave but Jessie grabs her arm causing AMC to give her another WTF look
Jessie Pederson: I apologize Ashley, but I would be remiss if I did not ask you about your relationship with Ashley Sands? Before FGA went on break, you two were not in the best of places. Has your relationship improved since the Pay Per View?
AMC stares at Jessie
Ashley Marie Chase: Let me ask you a question. Have you ever heard the saying that “Absence makes the heart grow fonder?”
Jessie Pederson: Um of course I have heard of that saying.
AMC: Well don’t believe everything you hear!
And with that, AMC storms off. Jessie continues to look on as she shakes her head with shame.
For the second time tonight, we see the FGA World Tag Team Champions, Neal Durden and Lowri Moss, although this time they are standing in an area somewhere backstage at the BB&T Pavilion. Both now dressed in their respective ring attire, each of them again has their half of the World tag titles resting on their right shoulders, with the Pride Championship also draped over Lowri's left shoulder, as before. Stood alongside them, with a microphone in her hand, is Jessie Pederson.
Jessie Pederson: Neal, Lowri, earlier tonight we saw the fallout from what happened in the World Tag Team Championship match at Grapple Kingdom, with yourselves, the Hellcat Spangled Death Squad, and Silk & Cyanide. However, that match wasn’t the only one that either of you competed in at Grapple Kingdom, as you were both also part of the final four of the Wildcard Lottery tournament.
Neal and Lowri nod simultaneously, acknowledging Jessie’s statement.
Jessie Pederson: That tournament, of course, would ultimately be won by Seth Iser, but I wanted to ask both of you, after having made it as far as the semifinals-- and in your case, Neal, the final-- how do you each reflect on your performance in the tournament?
Neal gestures to Lowri, allowing her to answer Jessie’s question first; Lowri draws in breath, before she then proceeds to give a response.
Lowri Moss: Obviously, Jessie, I would’ve loved to have won the tournament, and to be stood here now as the next challenger for one of the two top titles in FGA, but… on this occasion, I guess Seth was just one opponent too far for me. However, while I wanted to win the Wildcard Lottery, I’m actually not as disappointed about losing in the semifinals as you perhaps might think I would be. In fact, I’m actually fairly content with how I performed. I mean, if we go back six months, I never would’ve expected that the tournament would end with me as the new Pride Champion, and again, while I would love to be in a position now to have an opportunity to potentially go on to become the first ever triple champion in FGA history, it’s difficult for me to be disappointed when you consider what I already have.
As the two-time double champion glances at the titles on either of her shoulders, Jessie follows up with another question.
Jessie Pederson: Something I have to ask you about, Lowri, is the Deprivation DDT from the top rope that Seth used to finish your match. It’s a move that has subsequently drawn criticism from a number of people, but as the one who was actually on the receiving end of it, I wonder, how do you feel about it?
Lowri rubs the back of her neck, as if she is having flashbacks to that particular moment.
Lowri Moss: Like you said, Jessie, I know some people have criticised Seth for what he did, like I know that on commentary, Kris Cruise called Seth a hypocrite, bringing up what Seth had said previously about Tyler Storm superplexing him to the outside of the ring at last year’s All-Star Showdown, but I… I wasn’t angry about it afterwards, or anything like that-- if anything, I think Neal was more irate with Seth about it than I was.
Neal simply scoffs and looks away, not even saying a word, allowing Lowri to continue her train of thought.
Lowri Moss: The fact of the matter is, Seth didn’t break any rules with what he did-- he did what he needed to do to win the match, and I’m not going to be the one to stand here and complain about that.
There is a shake of the head from Lowri.
Lowri Moss: I’m not going to make any excuses for me not winning that match. Losing to Seth is nothing to be ashamed of. But it also hasn’t changed my ultimate goal, nor has it affected my belief that I can accomplish that goal, and after seeing the International Heavyweight Championship match at Grapple Kingdom, between Ashlyn De Luca - who I’ve wrestled twice one-and-one, and beaten both times - and Cordy Stevenson - who I wrestled one-on-one for the first time on a show in Japan in early March, and beat - I know for certain that I wouldn’t be out of place in such a contest; I remain confident that I’ll get there, it’s just a matter of when, not if.
Jessie Pederson: Speaking of Cordy Stevenson, she will, of course, be one of your opponents later on in the main event. Before we move on to that though, Neal, as I already mentioned, you went one step further in the Wildcard Lottery than Lowri, reaching the final, so how do you reflect on your performance in the tournament - were you disappointed to come so close to a match for either the World Championship or the International Heavyweight Championship, only to miss out?
A deep sigh from Neal follows Jessie’s question. His thoughts have been well documented in the past few months; hell, there’s a sense of “finality” to what he has been saying so far. To revisit them, at least by the look on Neal’s face, would be futile… yet, after a bit of a nudge by Lowri, Neal speaks.
Neal Durden: I’m sorry for the lack of words just a moment ago. But, I think I’ve said how I felt, and still feel, about things. To say I was disappointed would be the understatement of the century; I was frustrated as Lowri would attest… and to a certain point, I still am. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride seems to be the perfect popular saying to summarise where my head goes whenever I think about that…
Neal grabs the tag team title that has been resting over his shoulders and puts it in front of the camera as he speaks.
Neal Durden: Having this…
Neal taps on the belt a couple of times as he continues.
Neal Durden: Means I’m one of the best tag team wrestlers in the world… if not the best. Yet, look around you. See how little being a tag team champion means to the fans or fellow wrestlers. See how little they care about this and how much importance they put on having a piece of leather on your own… I wanted to say I did it; I wanted it so f*cking bad… excuse me for swearing, Jessie; but there’s no other word to say in this situation. I wanted it more than even Seth wanted it… yet, here I am; second place… again.
Neal smirks, as he hangs his head, allowing Lowri to take the word from him.
Lowri Moss: Hey, come on. You’ll get there, whether in FGA or elsewhere.
She places a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
Lowri Moss: You know you’re so much more than simply “the other half of Pendragon.”
Neal looks dejectedly towards Lowri, he knows she means well, but for him… as he said before in the night… it was not as easy to shake.
Neal Durden: Yet, I can’t defeat him... on my own. I come close, but no cigar for me. It is what it is… I guess.
Sensing the situation might be turning a bit awkward for her liking, Jessie quickly interjects herself before Neal or Lowri could say anything else.
Jessie Pederson: Alright... well, still to come, the two of you will be in action in tonight’s main event, and as I alluded to a moment ago, your opponents will be the team of Cordy Stevenson and Fujiko Mine-- and judging by what you tweeted last week, Lowri, when the card for tonight’s show was revealed, this is a match that you seem to be particularly excited about.
Lowri responds with a nod of the head, as a broad smile spreads across her face.
Lowri Moss: Absolutely, Jessie. I mean, with the four month break that we’ve had since Grapple Kingdom, I would be looking forward to competing again inside an FGA ring regardless of who our opponents were, but… after some of the matches that we've had in the past year or so, against the likes of The Chaotics, the Super Mario Wrestling Bros, and most recently the Hellcat Spangled Death Squad, this is probably another one that could be put in the “dream match” category. Now obviously this match is a bit different, in that Cordy and Fujiko aren’t an established tag team, and there won’t be any titles being defended, but it’s still the World Tag Team Champions versus the World Champion and International Heavyweight Champion, which, you know, I think it would be difficult not to be excited about such a matchup. Plus, in me, Cordy, and Fujiko, you have the only three grapplers in FGA history to have ever been a double champion, and this is the first time that the three of us will have all been together in the same match, so… yeah, I’m really looking forward to this one.
Jessie Pederson: Okay; Neal, would you care to give your thoughts on the match?
His tag title still dangling in front of him, Neal simply snickers and smirks as he raises his eyes and looks at Jessie.
Neal Durden: This could’ve been the two top champions versus the double champion and the number one contender for either of them. To think we were this close…
Neal puts his index finger and thumb really close to each other, and right in front of his eyes as he continues.
Neal Durden: To get that. To think, we were this close… to seeing history down the road. Sure, there have been three double champions, as Lowri alluded to… but has there ever been a tag team composed by TWO? Alas, it wasn’t meant to happen… alas, things went to the darkest timeline. Yet, I’ve been saying one thing repeatedly for these past months… unless something happens... tonight, we prove that something will happen. Tonight we prove, once more… we’re the BEST in the world.
Lowri Moss: We know that it won't be easy, Jessie. Cordy and Fujiko may not be an established tag team, like I just said, and in any sport, whether it's wrestling, tennis, or whatever else, putting two outstanding athletes together doesn't always necessarily make for a great team, but… not only are they both decorated singles competitors, they've also both held tag team gold on multiple times in their careers, and they have teamed together successfully on at least one previous occasion, in the main event of the Eight Year Anniversary Show, so we're well aware that for us to win this, we're going to need to be at the top of our game, just like if we were in there with, say, either the Hellcats or Silk & Cyanide.
Neal finally puts the belt he has been dangling in front of him back on his shoulders, lets out a sigh… looks at Lowri, and smirks.
Neal Durden: It’s the four best wrestlers currently in FGA… it won’t be easy for us, we won’t make it easy for them… but I’m sure they, as well as we, wouldn’t like it any other way. Let’s end the first show back with a bang.
The Welsh duo then take their leave, to finish getting ready for their upcoming match, and the camera cuts away.
James Edwards stands alone in the ring wearing blue jeans, a black t-shirt and a Pittsburgh Pirates hat.
James Edwards: Listen, y’all watching at home know why I’m here so let’s get straight to it. The last time I was in an FGA ring, I lost one of the biggest fights of my life. I did everything right. I trained right. My mind was right. I fought a damn good fight, and it still wasn’t good enough. People told me that there ain’t any shame in losing to the Champ, and I agree with em’, I honestly do. But I’m still standing here with nothing.
He fiddles with the brim of his cap with his free hand.
James Edwards: And I'm not talking about not having the belt. I put my entire life on hold the train for that last world championship match. You know, If I’m being honest, I've done the same thing the last year and a half. Y’all know my goal was to be FGA World Champion and nothing else.
He trails off, quickly daydreaming about something.
James Edwards: I can't remember the last time I went to a baseball game. I can't remember the last time I woke up in the morning and rolled over and went back to sleep. I can't remember a day where I didn't go to the gym. I can't remember the last time I had junk. Hell, I can’t remember the last time I had fun. Everything was about work, and I love what do, but my life ain’t been one worth living. And so that's why I decided to leave. It's not that I'm not good enough. It's not that I'm mad at the company. It's just that I don't have anything left to give and if I stuck around I’d just be half-assing it and you all know that ain’t me. So before I go just want to go ahead and take the time to say thank you to everybody who---
As Edwards mouth opens to shape another word, a deep, booming voice cuts him off.
We soon find out that the voice belongs to none other than Sloan Talbot, his knuckles white with rage as he grips his microphone, staring a hole down at James Edwards. He takes a moment, pacing back and forth before he begins to speak.
Sloan Talbot: I ain’t listening to this sh*t anymore. You wanna go? Go. No one gives a f*ck about you no more. You’re eatin’ up my time.
With hate evident in his body language, Talbot runs a hand over his slicked back hair, caring not for any interjection from the seemingly departing Edwards.
Sloan Talbot: See as far as I can recall, you made a big ol’ song and dance about only promoting your schedule online from now on, but all I see is you bitchin’ and moanin’ after every damn loss like the little p*ssy you are, like you always been. You wanna talk about being pissed? Huh? I got a right to be pissed, not you! I was the one comin’ out here and breakin’ people left and right. I was on the winning streak, hell, I won my match at Above & Beyond, then I get iced for the likes of you? They tell me, “Sorry Sloan, we don’t got nothin’ for you”.
He lets out a massive, mocking laugh.
Sloan Talbot: Bull-f*ckin’-sh*t! Like the little attention seeking sh*t you are, you gotta make a big deal outta you quittin’. We don’t need it. I don’t need it. I got a match about right...now, and you’re holdin’ it up something fierce.
It’s now that Talbot kicks himself forward into an intimidating walk, eventually reaching ringside and climbing into the ring, stepping over the top rope before he raises the microphone again.
Sloan Talbot: So unless you want this whole quittin’ ceremony taken outta your hands and made into a full on retirement, I suggest you get the f*ck outta this ring.
Sloan proceeds to toss his microphone aside, a thud heard over the sound system as the microphone collides with the canvas before sliding under the bottom rope. Talbot cracks his knuckles, watching Edwards with murderous intent, waiting to see if he’ll take up the fight or not.
Whilst wearing a passive look on his face throughout Sloan’s interruption, Edwards now walks toward Talbot with a purpose and a fire in his eyes. He locks eyes with the motormouth powerhouse, a collision seemingly coming with each step he takes...but Edwards just shakes his head and keeps walking, passing Talbot like a ship in the night, climbing out of the ring and disappearing behind the curtain. Talbot, watching him all the way, instantly disregards the interaction, backing up and waving down his opponent for the evening.
Stephy Auger: That’s right, Edwards. Take a hike! Stop holding up Sloan Talbot! That’s the future of FGA right there! We don’t have time for hasbeens like The Burning Heart.
Kris Cruise: James Edwards was in the middle of saying goodbye to FGA. This man gave this company everything he had for the last three years. The least that Sloan Talbot could do was let the man give his final goodbye.
Stephy Auger: Edwards is lucky to be walking away on his own two feet. If he tried to fight Talbot, he’d be getting carried out of here on a stretcher!
Kris Cruise: Speaking of fighting Talbot, his opponent for the evening, Thurston Thousand Oaks, is cautiously entering the ring.
Stephy Auger: It’s not too late to turn around, kid.
Sloan Talbot vs. Thurston Thousand Oaks
The match starts with Talbot rocking Thousand Oaks with an elbow smash before grabbing him by the throat and moving him into the corner. From there, Talbot applies a choke as the ref gives him until the count of five to break it.
Ref: ONE… TWO… THREE… FOUR…
Talbot breaks the choke, only to step back and apply a foot choke.
Ref: ONE… TWO… THREE… FOUR…
Talbot reluctantly breaks the choke before rocking Thousand Oaks with a European Uppercut. A second European Uppercut snaps Thousand Oaks’s head back before an irish whip sends him crashing into the far corner. Talbot sizes him up before charging across the ring and nearly knocking the wind out of him with a lariat! After Thousand Oaks is whipped back into the previous corner, Talbot comes barreling across the ring before connecting with a second lariat. Thousand Oaks is slowly pulled from out of the corner before bring brought down with a hip toss neckbreaker! Talbot snatches Thousand Oaks up and pulls him into a front facelock before dropping him with a suplex lift DDT! Talbot stays seated as he watches Thousand Oaks clutch the back of his neck with both hands. He then quickly scrambles back to a vertical base before yanking Thousand Oaks back up. The boos continue as a hard irish whip sends Thousand Oaks crashing sternum-first into the far corner! Thousand Oaks slowly stumbles away from the corner before a running lariat across the back of the neck drops him! Talbot then kicks Thousand Oaks over onto his back before placing his foot on his chest for the nonchalant cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . The crowd erupts with boos when Talbot takes his foot off of Thousand Oaks’ chest before circling the ring.
Kris Cruise: Talbot had him beat. What’s the point of this?
Stephy Auger: This man was put on ice for months in favor of James Edwards. He’s got some more pent up aggression he needs to let out. Sorry it had to be you, Thurstan, but that’s just the breaks.
The ref pleads for Talbot to end this. But one stern look from Talbot causes the ref to retreat to safety. He then reaches over to Thousand Oaks, reaches down and snatches him by the throat before yanking him back up to his feet. Talbot scans the booing crowd before lifting his opponent up and throwing him down with authority with a chokeslam! Thousand Oaks is slowly pulled up by his hair before being lifted up above Talbot’s head. Talbot keeps his opponent held in place before nearly throwing him through the ring with Diggin’ Graves (Gorilla press spinebuster)! He makes the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . THREE!
The crowd boos as “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” hits the speakers.
J.A. Aldridge: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of this bout… SLOAN TALBOT!
The ref stats to raise Talbot’s arm until Talbot rips it away from him. The official backs off of Talbot as Talbot stares dead into the camera.
Heading backstage, Spencer Burke with mic in hand is ready and waiting in one of the backstage hallways.
Spencer Burke: A lot of names are making their mark here tonight in our big return of Vertigo, and another big name returning with us this evening is my guest at this time. Please welcome back...Tyler Storm.
Spencer turns to his left as Tyler walks in just close enough to be seen. The typical bright smile is on Storm's face, but with it also comes a few cuts and bruises, his arms also showing a few as well, and a bit of a noticeable delicateness in his body movements.
Tyler Storm: Spencer my man, great to see you after so long.
Spencer Burke: The feeling is mutual, Tyler. How does it feel getting to be back under the FGA banner this evening?
Tyler Storm: Indescribably awesome. I know all of us that are working with FGA have been practicing a lot of patience while waiting and planning for the big moment when Vertigo would be back on the air. The fans have been just as patient, and I know with our current environment we are living it that ability to have wrestling like we are used to still is a challenge to overcome, but no matter the circumstances I know we all are capable of overcoming it. The biggest thing for tonight is we are back, we are all ready, and it's gonna be a show for the ages tonight to make up for the lost time.
Spencer Burke: It's certainly seemed that way so far tonight, and plenty of matches are to come to keep that trend going, including your own. Now, obviously not just for those that do follow you not just in FGA, but also from how you've come in looking tonight, you've still found ways to compete.
Tyler Storm: Yes sir, and that's just the way it's got to be. I've got kiddos to feed and keep happy, and that's a big part of making sure I work any chance I get. Sometimes, that work does take its toll on a body, and tonight I can't say I'm 100%. I went through what some might call a literal war almost a week ago, I've got scars to show for it, my body hurts, I had to get stitched up. But I'm still walking, maybe a bit gingerly, but walking all the same. I'm just gonna have to be smart about how I compete tonight against Sara, because I know she is smart enough to see I'm in a weakened state and she will more than happily take advantage of that. But hey, I've lived for the challenges of life and this business, and I'm prepared to face them without fear...though it probably will result in having to strap some ice packs on me after tonight.
Tyler laughs to himself a bit, which is interrupted slightly by a wince of pain from moving his body with the laughter, but it quickly subsides.
Spencer Burke: Well we've seen from you plenty of times in the past, Tyler, that physical limitations haven't stopped you from accomplishing big feats in FGA. Back to the topic of our return tonight, it's been a good while since the FGA audience has had the opportunity to see you, but for you that is even longer than our last showing at Grapple Kingdom 3. I believe, and apologies for mentioning this, but I believe your last appearance was in that unfortunate failed defense of the FGA Pride Championship in February vs current champion Lowri Moss. You've had 5 months to really take in what happened that night and I just wanted to see if you are willing to finally break your silence about that night.
Understandably so, that does slowly fade Tyler's smile, and he has to close his eyes for a moment, perhaps just picturing the loss again in his mind or just trying to talk himself out of a dark place. He takes a big breath and opens his eyes again, shaking his head.
Tyler Storm: Honestly, I do appreciate you asking about that Spence, even if it does sting to be reminded of what happened. But I think I've been quiet on what happened long enough. To be blunt, it's been 5 long months of very harsh reality that I've had to endure after losing the Pride Championship. It's not a loss I wanted to accept for a lot of reasons, and to be honest with you and everyone else, I didn't accept what happened until just very recently. I mean, it doesn't take but a little bit of paying attention to notice I had the Pride Championship as my social media banner up until maybe a couple weeks ago, that should tell you how difficult is was for me to realize that...well...that I failed.
He again winces a bit as he lifts his arm up, but he does so to be able to scratch at the side of his head, trying to help himself find the words as he just seems defeated having to say that.
Tyler Storm: I failed to hold onto something that I put so much hard work into finally getting. Everyone saw, from my arrival in FGA, to my initial war with Iser, to then lining myself up against Fujiko and coming this close to dethroning her...refocusing myself and going back at a now crowned Iser, risking my damn career against the man who was the first person by my bedside after I almost lost my ability to walk those few years back. And when I finally got the appropriate chance at Iser, I beat him, I stood tall again, I was so freaking proud to say Tyler Storm was a champion again. I planned it all out in my head, how I was gonna be a great fighting champion, go into the Wildcard Lottery and prove myself as the rising new champion in the company, knowing when I got through every round that I have more than earned my path to becoming a future World Champion. That was the dream, that was everything I wanted, getting to the top of the ladder in a way I thought was right. I had get that Pride Championship, and prove how great of a champion I would be with that title to earn the right to then challenge to be the best. It was perfect...until the nightmare that was February 15th happened...and my world mentally crumbled, my plans became worthless...I fought my ass off and lost in my first title defense.
Hitting those last few notes brought his fingers into his hair and he clawed rather roughly at his head, his voice getting shakier, and again he had to take a deep breath to possibly calm himself.
Tyler Storm: I'm used to those step backs, I've had them happen many a time in my career. But something about that night just hit a different way, it hurt a lot more. Let me of course say, the reason it hurts isn't because it was Lowri. Lord knows with the way she puts in work in that ring, whether it's by herself or as part of Pendragon, she is one of the best this company has to offer and deserves moments like that against me, she deserves to be Pride Champion and she is. But the moment still hurt me personally, it never felt like what should have happened, and that's been the way it's sat in my mind for months. I knew that I wanted to find my right mind again in these hallways, and out to that Vertigo ring...I wanted to get back on track. Of course, I haven't had that opportunity because of the absence of FGA, these crazy times, so the thoughts stuck in my head longer and longer, I had to think on it more and more, it hurt every moment. Even competing elsewhere, doing what I have to do...not being able to be the Pride Champion killed me inside and I've had my share of challenges added onto by that pain in my head and heart.
Tyler finally glances back a bit more directly to Spencer and gives him a half-hearted smile.
Tyler Storm: But now...well, now I don't have to wait anymore, none of us have to. And I have things I want to do, and the main goals right now revolve around what happened that night and where I go next...and the path is one I've walked before here. Simply put, I want the Pride Championship back, and that's where my sights are. Lowri is of course under no obligation to accept any challenge from me, and if she doesn't I wouldn't blame her. Between the stacked roster here where I probably more than deserve to be in the back of the line, to the fact that the Pride Championship isn't her only focus with the work she's gotta do to defend the Tag Team Championships with Neal. If I was in her shoes, I wouldn't want the divided attention, but it's also why I have a lot of respect for her because she's been down the double champion road before. I think I pulled that path once in my career back in ICW, and that was a difficult time in my career, so to anyone that can pull it off I salute them immensely. But to Lowri, all I can say is, I know what my path has to be right now, and it all eventually leads to getting to that title one more time, proving that I can get it back, and proving to everyone that has been behind me and believed in me, prove to the locker room, prove to myself, that I can keep that title and make it great. Until I get that opportunity, I'm just gonna go out there and put my all into every match I have in FGA, and that includes tonight against Sara Mason. I don't care how broken I feel emotionally from the thoughts of what happened in February, physically from what happened to me a week ago, I'm gonna go out there and fight. The fans, my friends, my allies here backstage...they have stuck with me and trusted me. And Spencer, I'm gonna make sure their trust doesn't go in vain ever again.
Spencer Burke: Plenty of great thoughts and I think we've got any questions covered. Thanks for your time Tyler.
Tyler nods to Spencer one last time, and walks past him slowly down the hallway as we cut away.
Cameras pan toward a location that, initially, is unfamiliar. At a glance, the scene opens up on a balcony, overlooking a quickly-illuminating cityscape on the heels of dusk. Swinging across the length of the balcony, we finally stop on the sight of-- evidenced by the belt sitting on a glass patio table before her-- the FGA United States Champion. Sadie San Francisco is visible from a side profile, drumming her fingertips along the side of a champagne glass. She takes a small breath, reaching forward to re-adjust the United States Championship on the glass tabletop, smiling fondly as she casts a sidelong look to the camera.
Sadie San Francisco: This thing just never looks out of place, does it?
She chuckles softly to herself and leans back in the patio chair, sighing softly under her breath, pulling the champagne glass toward her-- but stopping just sort of a sip as she looks over the not-so-thriving San Francisco nightlife.
Sadie San Francisco: With everything that’s been going on, I haven’t had a lot of time to just-- live in the fact that I’m FGA United States Champion. It seemed like… one minute, I was on top of the world. I was riding this wave after beating Nina Stokes and winning this title. I was riding that wave for a whole… what-- twelve hours? And then the world pretty much fell apart. For nearly three years I’ve been breaking my back to get this and… I didn’t even get to congratulate myself. Wild.
Finally, she takes a quick sip of the champagne, but hastily returns the glass to the tabletop as if suddenly remembering something.
Sadie San Francisco: But make no mistake. I’m not feeling sorry for myself here. To be your U.S. Champion-- that was the plan and that’s still the plan.
Sadie San Francisco: And I thought I was transparent. I thought we’d established that I was going to do anything I needed to. And that wasn’t some reckless, lawless “for the hell of it” kind of a thing. I made that distinction because Nina Stokes was pretty direct about what she intended.
Without warning, we blink back to Grapple Kingdom 3, recalling the scene in black, white-- and red.
Throwing the referee off of her and sending him down to the mat as he forces her to relinquish her Quietus Redux, Nina Stokes looks on in disbelief at the nerve of the official to touch her. Stokes then turns her attention back to Sadie when The Pope quickly touches her throat before spewing Red Mist right in Stokes’ face! The crowd erupts with cheers as Stokes covers her eyes.
With our scene now back on the balcony, Sadie runs a few fingers delicately over the face of the title, shrugging slightly.
Sadie San Francisco: Nina had made her mind up that she was gonna go out there and try to do some-- some lasting damage. Nina wanted to leave an impression on me that was gonna stick with me far beyond this match, and I give her a lot of credit. I do believe she can back those words up. That’s why I went out there, ready to do whatever I needed to… even… if it meant spitting right in her face.
The champion takes another sip from her champagne glass, making a sour face afterward— maybe more of a self-aware reaction, playing her own words back in her head, rather than any fault of the wine.
Sadie San Francisco: Not the most popular move in the world, no, but Nina…
Sadie angles herself directly toward the camera now, sliding the glass aside, out of frame, giving her full attention to the former United States Champion, far on the other side of the lens.
Sadie San Francisco: When that referee had to get in there and physically stop you from taking that countout loss when you had me in the ropes, you made it pretty clear where we stood. I wasn’t gonna take that chance again. I had to be creative.
With the smallest grin, Sadie raises a finger to her throat, almost mimicking the action Nina had seen at Grapple Kingdom before being temporarily blinded. Sadie looks down, shaking her head-- shaking off the expression.
Sadie San Francisco: And you kicked my ass. You literally knocked me senseless. Pretty sure I thought I was half-deaf and half-blind at one point in the match. But I did what I told you I would. I know you’ll find a way to take that as some sort of a slight, but I promise this United States Title isn’t about you.
Sadie San Francisco: In fact-- in fact, I feel so strongly about that, that I’ve made a decision. With management’s approval, moving forward, I’m gonna be defending my United States Championship on every single show. I’m gonna make this the most seen, the most sought-after title in professional wrestling. This is an open challenge, for anybody. For everybody.
A sigh. The smallest, coy smile as Sadie jabs a finger toward the camera, singling out one person in the world.
Sadie San Francisco: Except maybe you, Nina. I mean-- you already had your chance, right?
San Francisco is met with cheers and applause when the referee kneels down next to her and presents her with the United States Championship. The Pope slowly takes hold of the belt. She analyses the belt before making her way back to her feet. Sadie then lifts the belt high over her head with both hands before hugging it tight.
Sadie pulls the United States Title toward her, draping the belt across her lap. For a few silent seconds, her gaze lingers on it. She moves a hand across the table and pushes the half-empty champagne glass away.
Sadie San Francisco: I can’t celebrate until I get back out there and I cement this reign with a defense. I’ve gotta make up for all this empty, lost time, and I’m gonna do that. This is an open message to anybody out there that’s in the mood to come and try to take this championship. You’ll know where to look for me.
Sadie slides her chair back across the balcony and places the United States Title on her shoulder as she rises to her feet. She walks to the edge of the balcony, leaning against the rail, overlooking the partially-hushed San Francisco cityscape.
Sadie San Francisco: And I think we’re gonna find out that this is exactly where it belongs.
"I Bring the Darkness (End of Days)" by Jim Johnston featuring Tommy Vext begins to play as the aisle way fills up with smoke. AMC rises up from the smoke in full face paint and is trying not to cough from all the smoke.
”Who do you think you are? You’ve now gone much to far!”
AMC steps through the smoke and looks around at the crowd she then slowly walks toward the ring.
”I bring the darkness! I am the thunder! I come from HELL And I’ll pull you under!”
J.A. Aldridge: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for ONE fall! Introducing first, hailing from Beverly Hills, California! Weighing in at 120 pounds… ASHLEY MARIE CHASE!
AMC walk up the steps, taking a moment to wipe her feet on the apron before getting into the ring. AMC then drops to her knees in the middle of the ring and stretches out her arms and looks out toward the crowd.
Kris Cruise: Judging from what we heard from both Ashley Marie Chase and Ashley Sands, the relationship between these two is still pretty icy.
Stephy Auger: They have no one to blame but themselves. Mark Bisley was 100 percent correct. Their friendship was never solid and it showed in how quickly they turned on each other.
Kris Cruise: Oh give me a break. What does Mark Bisley know about friendship? He stabbed his own friend, Shintaro Majima, in the back!
"I Won't Back Down" by Burn Halo fills the arena. At the first drum beats, a spotlight flickers on the entrance way with Jones coming out as the bass starts in a surge of energy. He spins a full circle with his arms stretched out to revel in the crowd's energy. The spin completes at the top of the ramp where Jones drops to a knee with a big, over-handed fist pump.
J.A. Aldridge: Her opponent, hailing from Louisville, Kentucky! Weighing in at 235 pounds… PATRICK JONES!
PJ takes a moment to enjoy the cheers around him and collect his thoughts before hopping to his feet. He jogs down the ramp, talking to and high-fiving fans, trying to get them as pumped up and ready to go as he is. Jones goes straight from the ramp and jumps onto the ring apron before ducking through the second and third rope, giving another, slower spin just to drink in the environment.
Kris Cruise: Patrick Jones fought for Owen Gonsalves’ good name back at Grapple Kingdom against Nicholas King. A win here tonight would see him playing spoiler to Ashley Marie Chase’s desires for a match with the 15 Champion.
Stephy Auger: These two are vets. They know what’s at stake here. I would say Jones is looking to carry his momentum over from Grapple Kingdom, but it’s kind of hard to carry any momentum after a four month break.
The match begins with Jones gaining the advantage with a side headlock after a lock up. Jones cinches down on the hold until AMC is able to push him off into the ropes. Jones comes off the rebound and catches AMC with a running shoulder block, knocking her down. He then takes off into the far ropes. As he returns, he sees AMC turn over onto her stomach. So Jones hops over her before continuing to run the ropes. When Jones comes back, AMC leaps to her feet and goes for a hip toss. But Jones is able to step through it and throw AMC down with a hip toss of his own. The cheers continue when Jones follows up with a dropkick. A second dropkick returns AMC to the mat. Jones then takes AMC by the arm and wrenches it before shooting her for the ride. When AMC comes back, she avoids Jones by sliding through his legs. When Jones turns around, AMC scrambles to her feet and throws out a kick. After Jones catches her foot, she quickly throws out an enzuigiri to counter. But Jones is wise enough to duck the kick. He then pulls AMC up off the ground from behind and goes for a belly to back suplex, only for her to roll over his shoulder and land on her feet. Jones turns to face AMC before being taken down with a dropkick. A second dropkick returns Jones to the mat. AMC then takes Jones and shoots him for the ride but he reverses, sending her into the ropes. Jones goes to catch AMC on the return with a hip toss when AMC steps through it and goes for a hip toss of her own. It gets blocked. She tries to muscle Jones up with a second hip toss. Again, it gets blocked. AMC then shifts over and brings Jones down with an arm drag. AMC charges over towards Jones and gets brought down with an arm drag for her troubles. Jones then rushes over towards AMC until he gets countered with an arm drag. A japanese arm drag returns Jones to the mat. Once he’s back to his feet, AMC takes control of the arm and wrenches it repeatedly. After the fourth arm wrench, Jones rolls forward, leans back, kips up and reverses into an arm wrench of his own. AMC then cartwheels over, before swatting Jones hands off of her before following up with another dropkick. While Jones stumbles back, AMC takes off into the far ropes. She charges forward for a strike until Jones sidesteps, grabs her by the back of the neck and tosses her over the top rope…
… only to land safely on the apron. Jones has his back turned while AMC scales the turnbuckles.
Kris Cruise: Look out, Pat! AMC is going up top!
Jones turns around and does a double take when he sees AMC perched up top. She leaps off for a high crossbody block… and gets countered with a dropkick in mid air! Both Jones and AMC are met with cheers from the crowd.
Stephy Auger: OH NO!
Kris Cruise: What action we’ve seen in the opening moments of this contest!
Stephy Auger: Like I said, they both know what’s at stake here. Ashley Marie Chase has positioned herself as next in line for the 15 Championship. But a win tonight by Jones could jump him to the front of the line!
While AMC is curled up on the mat, Jones makes his way into the corner. He looks out and scans the cheering crowd before making his way out to the apron. After climbing to the top turnbuckle, Jones remains crouched while he waits for AMC to get back to her feet. Once AMC is back to a vertical base, Jones slowly stands up, leaps off and goes for a high crossbody! He misses! AMC rolls out of the way at the last second, causing Jones to crash on the mat!
Kris Cruise: Nobody was home on that one!
AMC heads over and pulls Jones back to his feet. She sets him up for a Northern Lights Suplex until Jones counters with shots to the back. He then takes control of AMC before throwing her down with a Northern Lights Suplex of his own! Jones goes for the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . AMC kicks out.
Jones takes AMC, moves her into the corner and delivers multiple knife edge chops. After an irish whip sends AMC into the far corner, Jones rushes in to attack until a boot to the face turns him around. Jones remains stunned while AMC escapes to the apron before climbing the turnbuckles. She reaches the top before leaping off and driving Jones down with a top rope bulldog! She goes for the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . Jones kicks out.
Kris Cruise: Chase executed off the top rope that time, but she only gets two.
AMC picks up Jones and pulls him into a standing headscissors. She hooks both arms for the Name Dropper (Pedigree) before Jones turns and back body drops her over the top rope. AMC lands on the apron before using the ropes to pull herself back up. She then ducks a punch from Jones before catching him with a shoulder thrust through the ropes. A forearm to the face knocks Jones back before AMC makes her way over towards the ring post. AMC starts to climb the turnbuckles until Jones rushes into the corner, runs up to the middle ropes, grabs her and throws her down with a belly to belly superplex! The cheers continue as he crawls over and makes the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . AMC gets the shoulder up.
Kris Cruise: I thought Jones had her after that huge belly to belly off the top.
Stephy Auger: C’mon Chase, get up.
Jones pulls up AMC and fires off multiple forearm strikes until AMC fires back with the Chase-Tizer (hard slap)! Jones shakes off the blow before throwing out alternate knee strikes to the midsection. AMC then answers back with yet another Chase-Tizer! After shaking off the blow, Jones goes to work with low and mid kicks before staggering AMC with a step-up enzuigiri. With AMC still stunned, Jones gets up and takes off into the ropes. As he comes back, he starts to slow down once he sees AMC run past him into the same set of ropes. When Jones turns around, AMC launches herself at him with the Walk of Fame (spear), only to get countered with a jumping back kick to the top of the head! Jones pulls AMC back to her feet before driving her down with a DDT! A cover gets made…
ONE! . . TWO! . . AMC gets the shoulder up.
Kris Cruise: He didn’t get the three count, but Jones is starting to pull away here...
Jones picks up AMC before throwing her down with a gutwrench suplex. He then points to the top turnbuckle as he heads out to the apron.
Kris Cruise: We know what Jones is going for from up top. If he hits that flying elbow, it’ll be all but over for Ashley Marie Chase!
Jones makes his way over to the ring post before climbing the turnbuckles. Once he reaches the top, he lifts his arms up, leaps off for a diving elbow drop… and misses when AMC rolls out of the way! Jones crashes hard on the mat!
Stephy Auger: He took too long!
AMC takes Jones, delivers an irish whip, follows him into the corner and catches him with a running corner knee. Jones is then whipped into the opposite corner before AMC runs after him and smashes him with another corner knee! AMC then unleashes a flurry of repeated kicks to the chest before bringing Jones down out of the corner with a running bulldog! She then makes her way back out to the apron before climbing the turnbuckles. As soon as Jones picks himself up off the canvas, AMC leaps off and sends him tumbling back down with a missile dropkick to the back of the head! She then heads over, peels Jones off the mat and puts him an in inverted facelock before pulling him down with a Scorpion Death Drop! AMC then sets up shop in the corner while Jones stirs on the canvas. Once Jones turns over on all fours, AMC rushes out of the corner, jumps up and drives him face-first into the mat with the Full Facial (Curb Stomp)! She makes the cover.
ONE! . . TWO! . . THREE!
There’s a mixture of cheers and boos from the crowd when "I Bring the Darkness (End of Days)" hits the speakers.
J.A. Aldridge: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of this bout… ASHLEY MARIE CHASE!
The mixed reaction continues as Chase raises her arms in the air.
Kris Cruise: Ashley Marie Chase picks up a hard fought win over Patrick Jones. With that match behind her, she’ll be looking forward to tonight’s main event. She’s got her eyes on the winner of that match, be it Mark Bisley or her “friend” Ashley Sands.
Stephy Auger: I don’t think AMC cares which one of them she faces. As long as she gets her rightful one on one match, that’s all that matters.