The final day is nearly on us. Legends Season beckons, it's...
Broadcast on The Xperience and the Battleground Network LIVE! From Colisée Pepsi, Quebec, Canada (15,000 Capacity)
The Main Event XWA Hardcore Championship:
A.J. Morales vs Diamond Jack Sabbath
Our main event is one that has been building for months, but it all came to ahead at District XWA. The Destroyer of Eras has managed, by hook or by crook, to dispatch everyone who has opposed him. DGX, Smith Jones, Laurel Anne Hardy, but one person has consistently made it his mission to stand in Diamond Jack Sabbath's way, and that is one A.J. Morales. The new XWA Hardcore Champion had a war of words with Sabbath last month, and now the Revolution looks to take it to the Beating Heart of the XWA.
No holds barred, no disqualifications, anything goes. The Hardcore Championship is on the line, but there so much more at stake...
-------- Deadline for matches is 22nd October 2017 at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time. Voting will start at this time and conclude on 1st November 2017 at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time. [CST is one hour earlier. GMT is five hours later.]
The following is a co-write between myself and A.J. Enjoy! ---------------
As we pan across Coliseé Pepsi, the ring empty, the audience waiting with baited breath for the final match of the evening, there’s a chill in the air, stronger than any single fan in the crowd will feel from the Montreal fall when they walk out of the stadium after this is over.
The shot fades into one of Mark Sanction and Matt Steel, as always, at their commentary desk.
MARK SANCTION: Well, everyone, XWA With a Vengeance has been a night the world will never forget.
MATT STEEL: We saw Layton & Fenric walk a mile in each other’s boots—and I mean that literally—in an absolute classic against Jake Rogers and Amy Jo Smyth for the XWA Tag Team Championships. We saw our reigning Supreme Champion, Michael Swift, put to the test like never before against a toxic twosome of Trevor Miller and Danny Hall, now united under the banner of TRDF. But if any main event could possibly top all of that...it’s this one.
MARK SANCTION: Diamond Jack Sabbath. A.J. Morales. The biggest icon of our past versus one of the brightest stars of our future. Months of sneak attacks and retaliations, starting on a cruise ship in the Pacific Ocean, following them both from continent to continent all around the world, its explosions catching both sides of their factions in the blast radius. Sooner or later, this theater of the war for XWA’s soul had to come to this.
MATT STEEL: And with the XWA Hardcore Championship on the line, you better believe this is war. Whoever wins, neither man is going to forget this match any time soon.
The lights go out, and the fans cheer- anticipation running through their bodies. Suddenly...
White lights flicker in time with the drums of "No More Heroes" by The Stranglers, and images of Diamond Jack Sabbath performing various moves he's famous for display themselves on the Titantron, to impassioned booing from those who detest him. As the song kicks in, the Innovator of Anarchy himself makes his way through the curtain. He paces up and down the stage, surveying his audience for tonight with his hands thrown out, majestically, then begins to make his way down the ramp with a very self-assured and confident walk.
MATT STEEL: Diamond Jack Sabbath. XWA Television Champion. XWA World Heavyweight Champion. 16-time Piledriver Award winner. Former General Manager of XWA Massacre. Undefeated in XWA, period, from September 2015 until July this year, and even then, Serena Maxwell took that pinfall, not him. Anything you’ve ever done in this company, he did it first and he did it better.
MARK SANCTION: Well, you’re almost right on that, Matt. The Hardcore Championship is the only active singles title in XWA that Jack’s never held, and his lone challenge for it was over three years ago.
MATT STEEL: Even better. Tonight he gets to cross that one off his bucket list against the one opponent it’s gonna be the most satisfying for him to shut up.
Yet more booing ensues as the Crown Jewel slides under the bottom rope and into the ring. He finds and jumps onto the nearest turnbuckle peering out into the live crowd for a good few seconds, breathing in that pre-match excitement in the air. Looking out into the crowd, he points right into the middle of that ring waggling his finger, telling us at the top of his voice that it belongs to him, that it's his, that no one else could even think to rule it the way he does. While up there, he takes off his spiked, black leather jacket and throws it down to the outside. Hopping down off the turnbuckle, Jack cracks his neck into place and prepares himself for the match both mentally and physically, shaking his arms and legs out to loosen them. He's ready to go to war tonight.
”A’right, stop, stop, hold on, hold on, hold on—“
Suddenly, a voice on the PA abruptly cuts off Sabbath’s music, followed by the breakdown from Falling in Reverse’s “Champion.” As the lights near the entrance ramp turn gold, vapor starts hissing out of the fog machines and A.J. Morales’s personal highlight reel starts to play on the XtremeTron. The Revolution himself emerges from behind the curtain, holding the belt he’s about to defend like a guitar, headbanging and strumming along with every note as he approaches the ring and Amy Taylor, dressed to the nines in a pinstriped black pantsuit and carrying a mic stand, follows close behind. A.J.’s other championship title, meanwhile, hangs around his waist over a black leather jacket we’ve never seen him wear before, a little thicker-looking than usual, zipped up to the top to showcase the jagged white spider logo that takes up most of the front. The accents and stars on his kickpads, usually a striking red, are also white for tonight.
The instrumentation suddenly comes to a stop, and A.J. does too, leaning forward and bringing his arms close in.
The music suddenly comes to a stop, aside from a distant-sounding voice, and A.J. stops too, leaning forward and bringing his arms close in.
With a primal scream, the instruments kick back in, two columns of fire go up on either side of the stage, and A.J. brings his arms wide and screams to the sky. As the scream in the song ends, so too do the flames, and A.J. quickly puts the Hardcore Championship on around his waist again at an angle, so as not to obscure his other gold. Then, he and Amy start to make their way down to the ring, giving out high-fives and fist bumps to those who reach out for them.
MARK SANCTION: Say what you will about A.J. Morales—he’s cocky, he’s hot-tempered, he’s too petty on social media for his own good—but you can’t deny the impact he’s made in just seven months’ time on the XWA roster, or his almost-supernatural ability to win fans over almost anywhere on Earth.
MATT STEEL: Win fans over? Isn’t that new scar on his cheek there because a fan shot him in the face during a match a couple weeks ago?
MARK SANCTION: That was from a hitman...but that’s not the point. The point is, this young competitor has gone to the ends of the earth and back for XWA glory, including flying to Las Vegas just to win that Hardcore Championship off Kryptops and then immediately flying back to Johannesburg in time for District XWA.
MATT STEEL: He can whine and bitch and moan all he wants about how Minka only won because she threw snake venom in his eyes, but remember, this is a hardcore match. If Sabbath wants to take a page from that book to win this back, there’s not a damn thing he can do about it.
”(WHOOOOOOOA-OH!) I rise above it all and I’m not coming down…
(WHOOOOOOOA-OH!) Because a champion is what they call me!”
A.J. reaches the end of the ramp and climbs onto the apron, steadying himself.
”(OHHHHHH!) I rise above it all and I’m not coming down”
As the song launches into its chorus, A.J. vaults over the top rope with a somersault before popping up with a clenched fist salute, turning a full 360 degrees so everyone in the audience gets to see him head on.
”(WHOOOOOOOA-OH!) Because a champion is what they call me now”
Then, he quickly climbs the nearest turnbuckle and undoes the loosely-tied title belt he’s about to defend. Finding the nearest SkyCam, he looks right down the lens as he holds up the championship in one hand.
”And I’m not backing down (HEY, HEY, HEY!)
I will stand my ground (HEY, HEY, HEY!)”
A.J. mouths along with the music, punctuating both lines by looking to the crowd and pumping his fist in time with the heys, before jumping back down to the canvas and shifting his gaze to the hardcam.
”(WHOOOOOOOA-OH!) Because a champion is what they call me
A champion is what they call me noooooow, huh!”
A.J. mouths these words at the camera, and once the song moves on to a verse, A.J. hands the Hardcore Championship to the referee before placing his other one in his own corner of the ring and squaring up, ready to fight. Notably, Morales leaves his jacket on and zipped up.
The lights start to return to normal, and Diamond Jack Sabbath climbs back in the ring, an angry sneer on his face, as Hana Ramierez enters from another side of the ring. The champion’s music fades, but the audience quickly fills it with another song…
A.J. can’t help but smile at the support, while Jack merely smolders with quiet anger even more than he already was before, even after the chant eventually subsides.
MARK SANCTION: This has to be the single biggest Hardcore title matchup of the 24/7 era!
MATT STEEL: It doesn’t get much bigger than a main event on a Supershow between two guys who absolutely hate each other’s guts. This is going to get interesting.
MARK SANCTION: My question is, with Bella Quinn’s announcement of the Survivors vs. Team XWA match at Legends, which both these men will be in, do they save their strength for then or do they fire the whole arsenal tonight?
MATT STEEL: Hey, they’ve got a whole month to recover for that. I say fire everything! This crowd wants blood, and if they’re lucky, they’re gonna get it by the gallon.
HANA RAMIEREZ: The following contest is our main event, scheduled for one fall—
CROWD: ONE FALL!
HANA RAMIEREZ: —and it is for the XWA Hardcore Championship!
As the ref holds up the title, the noise in the crowd hits a level among the highest it’s been all night. “Big fight feel” is an understatement. This is act 3 of the greatest blockbuster never to come to theaters, the showdown it’s all been building to for roll after roll of film. And if it lives up to the hype, even IMAX theaters won’t be able to do it justice.
HANA RAMIEREZ: Introducing first, the challenger! Representing the Survivors...
CROWD (immediately): BOOOOOOOOOO!
HANA RAMIEREZ (without skipping a beat): ...from Salford, Manchester, weighing in at 240 pounds...he is the Beating Heart of the XWA…
HANA RAMIEREZ: ...DIIIIAAAAAMMMOOONNNDDDD JAAAAACCCCCKKKK SSSAAAAABBBBBAAAATTTHHH!!!!
Sabbath looks coldly to the crowd as they rain hatred like hellfire on him.
MARK SANCTION: Sabbath might want to change the way he’s announced if they’re going to react like this…
MATT STEEL: Are you kidding, Mark? If these people won’t accept him as the Beating Heart of the XWA, then he has every right to tell them over and over and over again. Maybe the fans don’t like it, but it’s still the cold hard truth.
HANA RAMIEREZ: And his opponent, representing Taylor Promotions…
The crowd immediately erupts with cheers for A.J., who makes an over-the-top bow in response.
HANA RAMIEREZ: ...from San Francisco, California, weighing in at 187 pounds...he is the BGDF Yin Yang Champions and the XWA Hardcore Champion…
As the wave of noise rises to a crest again, A.J. starts pointing at his waist and shouting taunts right at Sabbath.
HANA RAMIEREZ: ...he is the Rawest Wrestler Alive…The Revolution! A! J! Mooooora—
Jack can’t take it anymore. He leaps at his enemy, getting right in A.J.’s face with a forearm smash that makes some in the crowd boo Sabbath’s underhanded early start and others cheer the start of the action, but leaves nobody silent. Every seat in the arena becomes a brick in the wall of noise.
MARK SANCTION: Here we go! Right at it!
MATT STEEL: I love a good explosion!
As Hana darts out of the ring for her own safety, Sabbath takes Morales down to the ground, continuing to throw forearms at A.J.’s face as they both fall and A.J. gets his arms up to shield his head. The referee, not seeing the point in trying to break this up, signals to the timekeeper to just ring the bell as soon as possible.
-DING DING DING!-
Sabbath’s ground-and-pound turns into a manic frenzy. The techniques degrade away from that forearm smash, and he starts to throw elbows, fists, anything and everything that might get a piece of his arm in A.J.’s face. But Morales is past the initial shock now, and he starts to respond in kind. There’s no clean, pretty sorting here, no “I punch you, then you punch me” dynamic. The timing is random, the strikes inconsistent as to how often they land and how full the impact is, and the effect is absolutely brutal to watch.
MARK SANCTION: I don’t even know how they can keep up with each other!
MATT STEEL: Pure emotion, Mark. They don’t care about anything except punching each other’s faces in.
Finally, Morales leans his head to the side to dodge a punch, then shoves the Crown Jewel in the chest with two open palms. Unprepared, Jack gets carried away by the momentum nearly all the way to his feet before stumbling and falling to his knees.
MARK SANCTION: Morales gets the separation—
With no hesitation and some smooth motion, A.J. sits up and drives a fist right up the underside of a still-unready Jack’s jaw. Helpless to stop himself, Jack isn’t even fully aware of what just happened until he’s already fallen back in an awkward arc and crashes to the canvas.
MARK SANCTION: Oh, what an uppercut!
Morales brings himself back down, flat on his back, before springing to his feet with a kip-up and going right into a kickboxer’s stance. The look of determination on his face says everything, and his gaze is laser-focused on Sabbath. As Jack gets up, A.J. waits patiently, like a jaguar sensing out the right moment to pounce.
MATT STEEL: I still think Sabbath’s got the edge so far, especially now that A.J.’s slowing the pace down. I understand being methodical, waiting for the right time to strike, but Morales thrives on his quickness. He’s at his best when he’s pushing the tempo. So I can’t help but think giving Sabbath time to get up is putting the ball in Sabbath’s court.
Finally, Jack gets to that special place A.J.’s looking for, the one where he’s on his feet physically, but his brain hasn’t quite shifted gears to match yet. It’s right then, and not a moment sooner, that A.J. takes his shot at the back of Jack’s thigh.
MARK SANCTION: Shoot kick by Morales! I think it’s working out so far.
A.J. tries for a second, but this time, he’s not so lucky. The first blow jolted Sabbath back into the action, and he’s not stupid enough to just hang around. He sidesteps the attack and, in Morales’s own moment of weakness, capitalizes with a shoot kick of his own, this one to the stomach.
MARK SANCTION: Oh, but Sabbath returns the favor! He’s giving as good as he gets.
MATT STEEL: These are two of the hardest-hitting strikers in XWA going at it. If you expected a technical clinic instead of a slugfest, then frankly, you’re crazy.
Morales doubles back, and Sabbah, not one to let a chance like this go to waste, stays right on top of him. He fires off another shoot kick, this one to the stomach, and before A.J. has time to even start to double over, Jack follows up with a destabilizing kick to the inner shin that sends A.J. down to one knee.
MATT STEEL: But at the end of the day, I always knew it was gonna go like what you’re seeing right now. Sooner or later, everyone bows down to Diamond Jack.
MARK SANCTION: Oh, come on, you’re reading too much into this...
A.J. quickly looks up, knowing he has to push himself up to his feet again, but with a blindingly-fast kick to the side of the head, the Innovator of Anarchy sends A.J. down to the mat.
MARK SANCTION: But damn! What a buzzsaw kick from Diamond Jack Sabbath!
With a sinister smirk on his face, Sabbath hooks one of A.J.’s legs for the cover…
Morales kicks out.
MATT STEEL: Notice how close that was to a two-count there? This is how fast a guy like Jack can wear you down, if you let him. If Morales wants to stay in this, he better come up with a new plan of attack.
As the Revolution staggers back up, Sabbath takes a couple steps back, calculating his next move with a certain cocky mischief in his eyes.
MARK SANCTION: Sabbath is firmly in control here, and I have to wonder what he’s planning next…
Jack turns to the ropes behind him and takes off, rebounding just as A.J. starts to rise from being on all fours.
MATT STEEL: What is he…?
The Innovator of Anarchy keeps running at A.J. until he finally gets close enough to launch into the air, turning himself nearly horizontal as he flies feet-first at his enemy.
MARK SANCTION: Running dropki—
Morales, with little time to react, shoves from the side at Sabbath’s calves, and the Crown Jewel spins like a helicopter blade ever so briefly before crashing down with a THUD!
MARK SANCTION: —no, Morales counters!
MATT STEEL: I get where Jack was coming from, trying to show up A.J. on his aerial game, but you can’t be XWA champion material as a high-flyer if you don’t have that Spider-Sense that tells you when an opponent isn’t as comfortable in that space and lets you react in an instant to stop them. You wanna stop A.J., you don’t go to the air with him. You keep him from going there in the first place.
Jack starts scrambling to his feet, but A.J.’s fully up and centered now, and that gives him time to get into a taekwondo stance. He sees Jack rising, but looking squarely down at the canvas, and with his opponent wide open, A.J. kicks above Jack’s head, then brings his foot down heel-first, nearly jolting Jack face-down to the mat again.
MARK SANCTION: Ohh, what an axe kick!
Pushing himself away from the brink, Jack manages to rise to his feet again, but he doesn’t have long to appreciate that before A.J. jumps up and kicks him again square in the chest, sending the Innovator of Anarchy stumbling back.
MARK SANCTION: And this is why you can’t count A.J. Morales out for a second. You try to lock him out of the fight, he’ll just kick the door down and get back in.
As the Revolution stalks after his prey, there’s a new confidence to his stride, but more than that, the thrill of the hunt starts overtaking him. He’s on the path to victory now, he can feel it, and after he flips his hair back so it’s out of his face, anyone with a good look can see the hunger in his eyes. Sabbath, though, has that same hunger in his eyes too, and a little lost momentum isn’t going to stop him from conquering this ring in the end.
MATT STEEL: The tenacity and the passion we’ve seen from these guys so far is just unreal. There’s so much at stake, they both want it all for themselves, and neither man’s gonna accept anything less. But I don’t think A.J.’s gonna quite get what he wants here...
Morales tries for a sudden thrusting kick to the jaw, but Sabbath catches it with an iron, claw-like grip. As A.J. realizes what’s happening, Jack’s lips curl into an evil sneer.
MARK SANCTION: Sabbath blocks the superkick, and whatever’s next, it isn’t gonna be pretty...
With a toss to the side, the Destroyer of Eras lets go of A.J.’s ankle. The Revolution’s whole body gets caught in the momentum, pivoting to follow his leg, and it leaves him wide open for Sabbath to close that short gap between them with a forceful sole to the ribcage.
MARK SANCTION: OOF! Bicycle kick by Sabbath, and there goes the Revolution!
Morales goes running backwards on heels just to not fall down, carrying him nearly halfway across the ring before he finally leans forward enough to start slowing down. A certain sinking feeling starts to come over the audience. They can already feel the tides starting to turn back the way they’ve been going most of the match, and that direction isn’t the one they were hoping for.
MATT STEEL: I keep trying to warn people, but no one wants to listen. This ring, and this whole company, is Diamond Jack Sabbath’s house, and he built it by doing exactly what he’s doing right now: taking every naysayer, everyone who ever doubted him, and kicking them until they can’t fight back anymore. You can call A.J. the next Sabbath, but me? I just think he’s next in line for one of Sabbath’s ass-kickings.
With Morales looking wide-open, Jack decides to fall back on what he knows works here. He waits for A.J. to come back his way and goes for another buzzsaw kick, this one aimed a little higher than the last one. But A.J. sees it coming this time, and with a half-turn and a step backwards, he gets out of harm’s way before unleashing a roundhouse that goes straight to Jack’s ear.
MARK SANCTION/MATT STEEL: OHH!
MARK SANCTION: What a way to counter that!
MATT STEEL: Yeah, that was effective...but it was no Crown Kick, I can tell you that.
Sabbath practically freezes on the spot from the sudden impact, but once he starts to break out of that, he looks distinctly more insulted than he did mere moments ago.
MARK SANCTION: I think Jack would agree with you there, Matt. I don’t like the way he’s clenching his fists all of a sudden…
MATT STEEL: Of course he agrees with me! He’s a smart guy, he knows I know what I’m talking about.
But in retreating into his emotions, into that headspace that says “How dare he steal my move!”, Jack forgets where he is, and it’s not until A.J. jumps up, wraps his legs around Sabbath’s neck, and drags him down to the mat that Sabbath gets yanked back to reality.
MARK SANCTION: Hurricanrana! Straight from the canvas!
MATT STEEL: How did Jack leave himself so open like that? C’mon, man, get your head in the game!
That’s not the only place Jack has trouble staying in, however, as he’s so unprepared and so close to the ropes that when A.J. just flings him away rather than transition to a pin position, Jack rolls out under the bottom rope and falls off the apron. Cheers pop off like corks from champagne bottles all over the arena.
MARK SANCTION: Remember, no count-outs, no disqualifications with the Hardcore title on the line, but A.J.’s gotta get Jack back in the ring if he wants the pinfall.
MATT STEEL: He might be getting the applause now, but A.J. better watch out! He’s put Jack that much closer to all those wonderful toys under the ring, and we all know how that usually turns out...
Sure enough, Jack looks up at the ring like a wounded wolf who has absolutely no intention of bleeding out or dying without a fight, watching as A.J. paces the ring, shouting to the crowd and thumping his chest before he makes for one of the corners and starts climbing to the top turnbuckle.
MARK SANCTION: And this is where Morales is at his best! This is where he’s got the biggest advantage!
Once Sabbath’s sure his opponent isn’t looking—and considering A.J.’s facing away from Jack on the turnbuckle, raising a fist into the air to stabilize himself, that’s easy to spot—he reaches under the apron and pulls out a steel chair.
MATT STEEL: I don’t know, Mark…
MARK SANCTION: Wait a second...look out, A.J.!
Morales doesn’t even think to look over his shoulder. He flies off the top with a backflip, and it’s not until he’s upside down and sees his enemy already mid-swing that he realizes his error.
MATT STEEL: Here it comes—
WHAM! The chair hits square on Morales’s upper arm, and even with the jacket still on to give him that extra padding, A.J. can’t help but fall face-first to the floor.
MARK SANCTION/MATT STEEL: OHHHHH!
MATT STEEL: That’s it, Sabbath! Show ‘em who the Beating Heart really is!
MARK SANCTION: A vicious chair shot, and the champion is down!
The attack marks a change in the atmosphere, creating a void of silence where there were once cheers. But that void quickly fills with boos, and Sabbath takes a moment to savor them, to drink them all in. He knows exactly what this Montreal crowd wants, and he’ll be damned if they get it.
MATT STEEL: He’s not gonna be champion much longer if he keeps taking blows like that!
Sabbath tosses the chair away so he can instead dig his fingers under Morales’s two-tone hair and into his scalp. As the Crown Jewel pulls his enemy up and forces him back onto the apron and under the bottom rope, he stares across the ring, right into the eyes of Amy Taylor, standing there by A.J.’s corner as she looks on. She represents all the lethal venom in his life right now, but not for long. He is the cure. He is the antidote. And as hatred pulses through his veins, he’s as determined as he’s ever been to purge this place of her and all she represents, whether she wants it or not.
MARK SANCTION: And now it’s just a question of what machinations are going on in his mind…
Sabbath climbs into the ring again, standing over his out-of-it opponent. For months, this little shit has been a thorn in his side. Always starting trouble, always interrupting, always railing against him like A.J.’s not just a poor imitation. That ends now, starting with what he’s about to do as he lifts A.J. up and bends the Revolution over...
MATT STEEL: Uh-oh! A.J.’s really about to regret getting into this!
Sure enough, Sabbath lifts A.J. up until the Revolution’s above his shoulders, then brings him down back-first with a sickening SLAM! and refuses to let go of Morales’s waist.
MARK SANCTION: And there’s part one of that infamous Diamond’s Wrath triple powerbomb!
MATT STEEL: In the words of my predecessor, Scorpion...A.J, it’s time to Ride the Wraaaatthhh!!
Sabbath drags A.J. back up into the air, holds him up, SLAM! Powerbomb number two. Still not letting go.
MATT STEEL: He’s come to use this less often over the years, but when Jack Sabbath takes somebody for a ride with it, you know it’s gonna be a rough one!
One last time, Sabbath lifts A.J. into the air, a cruel smile on the Innovator of Anarchy’s face. He starts turning around in place, looking up at Morales’s glazed eyes and slack jaw. All that confidence, all that energy, and it amounted to nothing.
MARK SANCTION I hope A.J.’s ready! The third one’s always the worst!
MATT STEEL: No one’s ever ready for the third one...
And just in case there was still a glimmer of life…
Jack hits the third powerbomb, but this time, he does it like A.J.’s that one shitty computer your boss makes you stick with for years until he finally accepts it’s not 2006 anymore. He throws Morales down with all the hatred and disgust he has, not even bothering to hold on for the usual pin position.
MARK SANCTION: And an absolutely filthy finish to the Diamond’s Wrath!
Morales lies on the mat, looking up at the ceiling with a thousand-yard stare, his breathing the only sign he’s even alive. The lights shining down on him, Amy Taylor helpless to save her client from ringside, the fans too dejected to even boo...they all might as well not even be there. His world only goes maybe five feet past his body, and everything else is just a haze.
MATT STEEL: It’s over! It’s all over! It has to be!
MARK SANCTION: I hate to say it, but you might be right. A.J. Morales is out cold and Diamond Jack Sabbath is standing tall as ever.
MATT STEEL: For two years, everyone’s been asking how you survive Diamond Jack Sabbath. The answer is simple. You don’t.
Sabbath stands over Morales with a cold, merciless stare...and then, he gets an idea. He knows just the exclamation point, just the finishing touch to put on this whole affair. He bows his head, raises his fist, and plants one foot on A.J.’s chest, forcing the referee to drop down.
MATT STEEL: New champion!
At the last possible second, his legs unbound, A.J. kicks out, and the audience erupts into cheers.
MATT STEEL: WHAT?!
MARK SANCTION: HE KICKED OUT! HE KICKED OUT!
MATT STEEL: WHAT THE HELL IS A.J. MADE OF?
Morales, clearly still groggy, closes his eyes and smiles to himself as Jack steps off and starts screaming at the referee about how that was three, you know it was three, how could you possibly miss that? He starts banging his fists on the top rope, shaking it back and forth, stomping around, and generally making himself look like a toddler in the body of a Bond villain.
MARK SANCTION: Honestly? After all the things I’ve seen A.J. get hit with, in and out of XWA, and not come down with any serious long-term injuries, up to and including getting shot in the Goddamn face? This guy might be more iron than man.
Finally coming to his senses long enough to remember that he still has to actually put this guy away, Sabbath returns to the Revolution and once again drags the champion to his feet, stomping in place the whole way.
MATT STEEL: Well, even iron will dent if you hit it hard enough, and it looks like Sabbath wants the one technique that can put a dent in anybody’s head!
Sabbath shoves A.J. back, and A.J., still too dazed to put up much resistance. drops back a step. Then, Sabbath takes a half-step back of his own before stomping the mat a few more times.
MARK SANCTION: The Crown Kick is, quite possibly, the most lethal strike in XWA history! A.J.’s been through so much already, but I don’t know if he can handle taking one from Sabbath here!
Sabbath finally unleashes with the Crown Kick, the audience waits with baited breath for it to la—NO! A.J., by some miracle, becomes aware of himself again at just the right moment and ducks under, the potentially-decisive blow flying over his head and missing by mere inches, and before Jack can even begin to compensate for only hitting empty air, A.J. rebounds with an artful Pele kick that catches Sabbath right between the eyes.
MARK SANCTION: Golden Goal! Golden Goal to Sabbath!
Jack, dizzy from the attack, turns to the side as he falls to the canvas. A.J., meanwhile, gets back to his feet, and as Sabbath rolls towards the corner, Morales backs up towards the one opposite.
MARK SANCTION: Sabbath is down, and A.J.’s turned this around in insanely quick fashion!
A.J. closes his right hand into a fist and holds it up in front of his face, and as he starts to look back and forth between the Green Lantern symbol on the ring knuckle of his glove and Sabbath, who’s starting to struggle to his feet in the corner, the initial burst of cheering turns into a sustained roar.
MARK SANCTION: And it looks like A.J. wants the Liberator!
As soon as A.J. brings his knuckle to his lips, the noise kicks into another gear, and that level keeps up as he kisses the ring symbol.
MATT STEEL: This right here is gonna make or break the match for Morales. He better pray it goes his way…
Finally, Sabbath reaches his feet, albeit with his hands still on the middle ropes for support, and Morales takes off like a heat-seeking missile.
MARK SANCTION: Going for it, and heeee…
As A.J. winds up his fist and leaps into the air, Jack lets go of the ropes and pours everything he has into one last attack, a Crown Kick with so much force behind it that the rest of him gets pulled along into a spin.
MATT STEEL: Wait, wait, wait a minute—
A.J. connects, popping Jack right in the mouth, but at the exact same time, Jack’s foot meets A.J.’s face.
MARK SANCTION/MATT STEEL: OHHHHH!
The resulting impact is about as close to an explosion as you can get in wrestling without sticking C4 in the ropes and rigging it to explode every time somebody collides with it—and the crowd screams like the world just exploded in front of them. If it was raining in the arena, this would be the hit that sends off shockwaves and clears all the droplets away. If these two were fighting in a hall of mirrors, this would be the hit that cracks all the glass.
CROWD: HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!
MARK SANCTION: JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, DID YOU SEE THAT?!
MATT STEEL: This crowd is absolutely freaking out! Hell, I don’t blame ‘em! The timing, the force, the sheer brutality! This is the kind of thing you can’t see anywhere else in the world!
For a while, the challenger and champion just lie there on their backs, seeing stars as they stare up at the lights. Neither man has the presence of mind to cover the other, and even if they did, they wouldn’t have the energy to, not for a while. The only one standing is the referee, who looks back and forth, deliberating over whether it’s even worth it to make them stand for a count-out.
MARK SANCTION: And they’re both still down! We might have just witnessed the first double-knockout in XWA since...I don’t even know when!
MATT STEEL: But even if the ref calls this off, A.J.’s not safe! Anyone could come along and pin him while he’s out...hey, wait a minute! Mark, you should get in there and run him over with your wheelchair, and then you could be the Hardcore Champion!
MARK SANCTION: Uh...thanks, but no thanks.
MATT STEEL: What? It’d be funny! Plus I could just dump you out and beat you for i—
MARK SANCTION: Yeah, this is exactly why I said no.
Finally, Sabbath starts to stir. He rolls onto his stomach, crawling over to the prone champion until he’s close enough to throw himself on top of A.J.’s chest.
Morales kicks out, but it’s too late.
-DING DING DING!-
HANA RAMIEREZ: And your winner, and NEW Hardcore Champion...DIAMOND! JACK! SABBAAAAATH!
A.J. props himself up on his elbows, his ears buzzing from the swarm of booing and other discontented noises, and watches as the referee pulls Sabbath to his feet and hands that precious Hardcore title, the one he literally crossed an ocean just to get, to his worst enemy, who needs help just to get back to his feet. The Revolution’s eyes are wide, his jaw dropped nearly to the floor. How could he have let this happen?
MATT STEEL: Well, kid, I’ll give you credit. You put up a good fight. But against a force of nature like Diamond Jack Sabbath, there’s nobody in this business who can Survive.
MARK SANCTION: If we’re being honest, though, Sabbath won by the skin of his teeth—
MATT STEEL: Oh, come on, stop trying to take away from this! Let him have his moment!
Sabbath, meanwhile, stumbles around for a bit as he tries to shake off the effects of the Liberator, laughing to himself with a mix of relief, arrogance, and contempt. His balance returns in due time, though, and he starts gesturing for a microphone, which someone tosses to him from outside the ring. As soon as he has it, he turns to look right at A.J. with all the vindictive smugness in the world and holds his new championship high.
DIAMOND JACK SABBATH: What’d I fuckin’ tell you, kidda?! You can NEVER replace me! You will lose EVERYTHING trying to beat me! You think this is bad? You haven’t even begun to suffer like I have, you worthless little shit! But you will...ohohooooo, you will, kidda. You wanna be king of the jungle? You better be ready to suffer like you are. You better be ready to LOSE like you are! You’re gonna thank me for taking this away from you before it ruined you!
Sabbath turns his back on A.J. to face the crowd. The message sinks in, and Morales’s eyes start to narrow. His brow furrows. His teeth grit. And all the while, Sabbath starts to address the crowd…
DIAMOND JACK SABBATH: Aww, what’s the matter? You guys don’t like the fact that I won another title?
He turns to Amy with a mad glee in his eye.
DIAMOND JACK SABBATH: Did I beat your golden boy? And worst of all, you’ve managed men who’d drop into your company and tear down your world. This one’s pathetic! I’d cry for you if I had the energy to care anymore. But then...you’ve not made good allegiance decisions this year, have you? Maybe...maybe I kicked you TOO hard. Scrambled your head, eh?
Amy looks him coldly in the eye from ringside, and after he shifts his gaze back to the mass of angry Canadians, she turns to her client and picks up that mic stand she carried all the way out here…
DIAMOND JACK SABBATH: Oh, give it a rest, would you? You lot can boo me all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that I won. It never will. I am indispensable! I am irreplaceable! I am the Beating Heart of the XWA, and I have given you moment after MOMENT, classic after classic! This house would be NOTHING if I hadn’t built it! Rose, Angelus, DGX, Tempest, Smith Jones, Laurel Anne Hardy and now...now, A.J. Morales- NOBODY can touch me! Wrestling. Is. MINE!
CROWD: ASSHOLE! ASSHOLE!
Sabbath starts to limp towards the side of the ring facing the ramp, and all the while, he has no idea of A.J. reaching out to Amy for his mic stand, or of Amy passing it to him over the bottom rope, or A.J. using it to help himself back to his feet. But to be fair, the crowd is so focused on chanting “ASSHOLE!” at Sabbath that they don’t really notice either. His manager as his only watching witness, A.J. points the base of the stand at Jack and gets ready to throw...
DIAMOND JACK SABBATH: But now, Montreal...now you get the ending you deserve, because you DO deserve it. A main event that wasn’t enough. A result you didn’t want. Another reminder that I, Diamond Jack Sabbath- the Innovator of Anarchy, the Destroyer of Eras, the Beating Heart of the XWA- am Untouchable! Nobody is better than me! And trust me when I tell you, NO ONE will ever, ever pin me! Not tonight, not at Legends, not ev—
The mic stand collides with the back of Sabbath’s head, the piercing sound of metal cutting through all the noise. As the shockwave travels through the rest of his body, the hand holding his microphone opens involuntarily. As the mic drops to the mat, so too does Sabbath, his forward fall too captivating to look away from, until his forehead hits the middle rope, right at the spot where the scar over his eye starts, causing him to bounce off and twist around before he comes crashing down, face-up and spread-eagled, onto the canvas.
MARK SANCTION: OH MY GOD!
MATT STEEL: WHAT?!
A.J., after chasing his weapon pretty much since the instant it left its hands, comes down on Sabbath for the cover with all the urgency in the world. The referee quickly drops down for the cover…
-DING DING DING!-
The crowd’s mood officially completes its move from livid to loving it. The cheers that come down, bolstered and amplified by the sheer shock of that quick turnaround, are absolutely deafening.
HANA RAMIEREZ: And you winner, and NEW XWA Hardcore Champion...THE REVOLUTION! A! J! MOOOOORALEEEEEES!
MARK SANCTION: HOLY SHIT, HE DID IT!
MATT STEEL: No, come on! Not like this!
MARK SANCTION: TAKE ALL THOSE STREAKS AND THROW ‘EM OUT THE WINDOW! A.J. MORALES JUST PINNED DIAMOND JACK SABBATH FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE!
MATT STEEL: Jack’s lost two titles in two weeks on cheap shots! This has to be devastati—
MARK SANCTION: You know what, Matt? After all the shit he’s pulled and gotten away with, I think he deserves a little devastation.
A.J. pulls himself to his feet so the ref can raise his hand in victory, and once that’s done and he gets his title back, there’s a look of pure joy on his face. Even though he’d only lost the Hardcore Championship for maybe two whole minutes, he kisses the front plate like he’s been waiting for it his whole life.
CROWD: A-J! A-J! A-J! A-J!
Sabbath, still laid out on the canvas, starts to come back around. He starts surveying everything going on around him—the crowds chanting A.J.’s name, Amy celebrating outside the ring, the mic stand that hit him, all of it. And it finally dawns on him what just happened. His Hardcore Championship, gone. His victory over A.J. that he was supposed to lord over everyone about for years, matched. His winning streaks, snapped. His aura of invincibility, broken. His world, shattered, collapsing around him...it can’t be true, he doesn’t want it to be. But he can feel the chill all the way down to his core. And for the first time, the thought in his subconscious he’s been running away from for so long shows itself in the open and crosses his mind. Maybe his enemies are right. Maybe his time on top is over. Maybe this is the beginning of his end…
No. That can’t be.
It can’t be the end, he’s got so much to do, so much of his life’s work to complete. The space in Jack’s mind fills with red lights and sirens and alarm bells. He can’t let this happen, not now, not to him. Jack starts climbing to his feet, looking right at A.J. with nothing but murder and destruction in his eyes.
MARK SANCTION: Wait...oh, no, what’s Jack doing now?
MATT STEEL: Whatever it is, A.J. better be ready for it…
But A.J. isn’t intimidated for a second. He doesn’t see the monster after his blood. He just sees a man on the verge of cracking. Morales holds the Hardcore Championship up and laughs in Sabbath’s face.
A.J. MORALES: You don’t get to gentrify this shit! You don’t get to price me out! You didn’t build this place, and you sure as hell ain’t gonna tear it down!
Sabbath starts shaking with rage, but A.J. keeps on running his mouth like he doesn’t see it.
A.J. MORALES: I’m ending your regime! I’m burying your Survivors! ¡Viva XWA! ¡Viva mi gente! ¡Viva la Revolu—!
Sabbath kicks A.J. right on the side of the jaw mid-sentence, and the title belt falls to the floor.
MATT STEEL: Hoo boy, here we go again…
All that kick does is provoke Morales, though, and he punches Sabbath in the face in retaliation. This provokes another strike from Sabbath, which provokes another from Morales, and before either man knows it, they’re brawling like the match never happened in the first place...
Despite the match having ended and both men having held the Hardcore title within the same five minutes of one another, Sabbath and Morales are not deterred by the ring of the bell. Rather, they continue, pummelling one another in the middle of the ring while the bell rings furiously.
MARK SANCTION: The match is over!
MATT STEEL: In the world of the Hardcore Championship, the match is NEVER over!
MARK SANCTION: But...but it IS! They're not wrestling right now, there's no match here. These guys are just smashing the hell out of each other as if what's already happened isn't enough!
Jack tugs away at Morales' shirt as he falls onto his back and rolls under the bottom rope, dragging the pair of them to the outside. The fight has spilled out of the ring, but as if things cannot get any worse...
MATT STEEL: Oh wait...and here comes company!
MARK SANCTION: What do you...oh God...the Survivors are here!
Yes, indeed. Down comes none other than Serena Maxwell and Raine, War Enforcement...but they're not alone. No, they're being lead down the aisle by a readied Minka Carter whose very presence has elicited remarkable booing. The Cleopatra of the XWA continues running but A.J spies her out of the corner of his eye, on their way down, and he subsequently drills Jack with a final forearm smash before skating alongside the barricade. By the time Minka reaches the bottom of the ramp, A.J has run all the way around the barricade and pounced off of it, his knees at either side of Minka's head as he lands directly on her and takes her down with a—
MARK SANCTION: Meteora! Morales takes Minka down with a Meteora before she even reaches the ring!
At this point, the Rawest Wrestler Alive seeks the rawest of retribution as he pummels away at the Cleopatra of the XWA.
MARK SANCTION: My goodness. A.J is stopping at NOTHING to get revenge on Minka Carter right now.
MATT STEEL: Ever since last month, ever since she threw that...that liquid into his eyes, it's all he's thought about. What you're seeing right now is what's been say in Morales' head for the last month, enacted in front of your very eyes.
Both War Enforcement try to interject themselves, but A.J knocks them aside- throwing Serena into a barricade and superkicking Raine's face off, almost. Now he looks down at Minka, still floored, and furiously he circles the ring, approaching the area reserved for announcers, timekeepers, Hana Ramierez and...well, basically anyone not wrestling out here. And he's not pleased at all. This is his moment to get revenge on Minka. Last month he tried to be different. He tried something else. He tried to be the wrestler. But that's out the window now. He's going to smash her face in and he's going to do it...with a steel chair. In fact, it's one he's just nicked from Hana Ramierez, so taken aback by how angry A.J is, how unlike himself he is, she just obliges. She's not gonna be the one to tell him off.
MATT STEEL: What the hell is he doing?
MARK SANCTION: A.J Morales has SNAPPED and I don't blame him for a second after everything the Survivors have put him through.
Dragging the chair as he returns to the ramp, War Enforcement appear to have scurried off somewhere, but A.J isn't even looking for them. He's got his eyes on one person only, and that's Minka. Still lying on the floor, he grabs her head under his arm and throws her under the rope and into the ring. Following her in, Sabbath sees a swinging chair and decides 'not for me today, thanks' and scrambles under the bottom rope, falling out of the ring and to the outside. On the inside of the ring is only A.J and Minka, with the Revolution holding the steel chair. Minka appears to be barely aware of what's going on. She's barely conscious...or so you'd think! A.J swings that chair up in the air, about to splatter it down on Minka but the Survivors' poster girl isn't quite as prone as she's making out. As the chair comes down, Minka's foot flies up into the air like a battering ram, colliding with the chair and in turn smashing it back into the face of A.J!
MATT STEEL: Minka Carter with a quick save there!
MARK SANCTION: She saw it coming, and now A.J's in trouble! This is complete and utter bedlam.
Having been sent back a few steps by Minka, a dazed A.J holds his forehead as he drops the chair onto the ground and falls backwards into the ropes. Minka hisses, or at least begins to until she sees that chair, staring at her. 'Hello', it's saying, 'please use me to dismantle A.J Morales once and for all', and ever obliging, Minka agrees with the evil chair, it seems. She approaches it, mesmerised.
MARK SANCTION: No. No, of all the people out there right now, the one person who you shouldn't let near a steel chair is Minka. Stop this, someone! Stop her quick!
MATT STEEL: It's too late! I don't think there's anything or anyone who could take her away from that chair right now...
Well. Not quite.
Alarm bells begin to ring in the head of Minka Carter as she turns around. The place has erupted into cheers and every fibre of Minka's being is screaming out. 'The Demon is here', she's thinking. But no demons here. Just a dirty, no-good pavee called Emery Layton.
MARK SANCTION: Here comes Emery Layton now!
MATT STEEL: Guys...Minka and Emery are in the same place...
MARK SANCTION: Emery has joined the fight against the Survivors!
MATT STEEL: For God's sake Mark, you're not listening! Minka Carter and Emery Layton are in the same goddamn place! You think it's bad NOW? We're about to see some serious shit right now, Mark! WE are not safe. You and me, we're screwed if they come over here!
Minka and Em stand and it's like a Mexican stand-off. cannot hear the crowd. They cannot hear the music or the screaming. Minka doesn't care about the chair anymore. She doesn't care about A.J. She's got her nemesis, right here and now. Emery begins to march down the ramp, looking at no one else but Minka. The Cleopatra of the XWA rolls out under the rope, impatient and screeching. The two of them begin to move, the floor begins to rumble and the world is about to explode. Em and Minka finally reach one another and begin to pummel away at each other furiously as the Canadian crowd lose their minds!
MARK SANCTION: And here we go! Minka and Emery! Minka and Emery! They’re going to war and Canada is the battleground!
MATT STEEL: I think we’re destined to see them do this forever, Mark. Like I said- keep these guys away from each other!
Minka and Emery proceed to throw each other into barricades, roll over the steel steps, pummel each other with punches, kicks and every limb they can lift and smack the other with. Like they’re fighting on war-torn Namek, the two arch-nemeses’ aren’t letting each other go for anything. Meanwhile, seeing an unattended chair in the ring, Sabbath’s head pops up over the apron. We see the top of his head pop up, leading him into the ring. The Beating Heart of the XWA crawls into the ring, grabbing the chair, but as he does, a foot comes down onto it. Jack looks up- it’s A.J, shaking his head. Sabbath continues to try and pull the chair out from A.J’s foot but to no avail. Hitting him hard with a forearm smash, A.J tries to send Jack away from the chair but the Innovator of Anarchy keeps a tight lock on it and pulls it away with him. He’s still got it in his hand, but before he can even register this- boom! - he hits Jack with a very big, very powerful superkick. The chair drops out of the ring as Jack plummets to the mat.
MARK SANCTION: Superkick to Sabbath! A.J prevents his attack!
MATT STEEL: Oh, and you think that’s stopped him, do you? You think that’s stopped—
Matt and Mark stop immediately, as Minka and Emery roll over their desk, onto their laps, still punching the hell out of each other until Em gets in a good smack allowing her to get off Minka and drag her towards the time-keepers’ area. By this point, Hana Ramierez, the staff...they’ve fled. This ain’t their hill to die on.
MATT STEEL: Well, you’ve got THAT for a start!
But now they watch as A.J Morales rolls out of the ring. He’s not going after the chair anymore. No, he wants something else. He wants the Hardcore Championship. If Jack wants that title so much, he can have it. Oh, he can have it right now. But someone else is watching him, it seems. As soon as A.J grabs the title, immediately he finds someone else on him, hitting him with an array of wild punches and kicks. It’s none other than “Unexplainable” Serena Maxwell, and she’s not relenting, either! Throwing him into the ring, she sees the referee- somehow still here from the match, and basically screams to get into the ring. Not one to argue with a scary-looking banshee-lady, the ref obliges, going under the bottom rope.
MARK SANCTION: What’s this now?
MATT STEEL: Serena Maxwell getting involved but...she’s got the referee in there...
MARK SANCTION: But wait, we’ve been here before haven’t we?
Serena pulls herself up onto the top rope, throwing herself back and rotating her body in the air until she drops her front down on A.J’s mid-section.
MARK SANCTION: The Rising Tide! Serena Maxwell with the Rising Tide!
And now, she hooks his leg, looking up at the referee. She stares at him, then at the Hardcore Championship he’s just dropped.
MARK SANCTION: I knew it. I KNEW it! History is repeating itself! First Laurel Anne Hardy and now A.J Morales. She’s getting revenge, she’s redeeming herself after losing to Hyphy Machinery this year.
MATT STEEL: I think, Mark, she just wants to be Hardcore Champion again! It’s the only title she’s ever won!
But there is no three. Instead, Serena is pulled away. She’s forcefully rolled off A.J like a large carpet. You’d think this would be Emery- you’d be wrong. Serena, her plan ruined, looks up to see...Raine?!
MARK SANCTION: What the—??
MATT STEEL: Raine?! What the hell is he—
But then Raine drops to the mat, hooking A.J’s leg himself! Just as shocked as all of us, but with a job to do, the referee drops with a second’s hesitation!
And now this is broken up by Serena! Dragging her partner to his feet, he is stoic and silent as ever.
MARK SANCTION: HE wanted the Hardcore title! Raine just tried to steal it for himself!
MATT STEEL: No honor amongst thieves, Mark!
MARK SANCTION: And no honor amongst War Enforcement, either, it seems!
Raine and Serena stare down. The Silent Assassin looks to his side as he endures insults and other guttural screaming from Serena. She tells him SHE wants to be Hardcore Champion, how it’s her who deserves it, but Raine simply shakes his head and points to himself. No, he’s not having it. The building frustration in Serena’s head gets too much, as she wildly throws an arm towards Raine. A moment she’s thought about every single waking moment since April, and it’s been ruined. But her partner isn’t going to be beaten. He’s never held the title- Hazard, Serena, all of his partners got it and never him. Its his turn. And so it begins, the battle between War Enforcement for who gets to pin A.J Morales. It completely breaks down, as Raine and Serena shower one another with punches and kicks rivalling the fury of Minka and Emery- who are still going at it outside, mind you.
MARK SANCTION: Raine and Serena going at it! War Enforcement has crumbled!
It’s as insane and underhanded as any other brawling you’ve seen from both members of War Enforcement but directed at one another. With no Sabbath to pull them away from each other, they’ve completely gone out of control. Raine pulls Serena by her hair, she scratches him in the eye, he gouges his, it’s all broken down. But in paying attention to themselves, they’ve not paid attention to the most important part of this whole thing- A.J! The Revolution is, indeed, back to his feet. He’s not going to beaten by Sabbath’s hyenas, and he’s quick to show it as he fights them both off, or at least attempts to.
MARK SANCTION: A.J back in this now.
MATT STEEL: But what’s the point? War Enforcement have broken down already, just let them have at it!
Raine pushes A.J back and looks to his partner. Serena looks back and it’s like everything we just saw never happened. She’s completely back in the mode we’re used to. Raine and Serena reunite to battle A.J Morales. Two would be stronger than one.
MARK SANCTION: THAT’S the point. They’ll split and reunite at the drop of a hat...or the resurgence of an Iron Luchadore, Matt. They’re dangerous, especially if they BOTH want you!
Raine and Serena fight away at A.J and it looks like the pair of them are wrestling away any control from him...but as Sabbath has his friends, so does Morales. Two of them infact. Jason Moana and Dontell Porter- Hyphy Machinery, being directed down to the ring by Amy Taylor- who slipped away during all of this to go and fetch someone, anyone from Taylor Promotions. As if Hyphy Machinery would’ve passed up the chance.
MARK SANCTION: Hyphy Machinery! The two men who were victorious over War Enforcement in the Summer! They’ve come to the aid of their friend!
The two takedown War Enforcement simultaneously, pulling them out of the ring and brawling on the outside. Meanwhile, on the other side of things, Emery and Minka are both battered due to the shitstorm they’ve been through during all of this. Practically any loud noise you’ve heard that hasn’t been fans and hasn’t been in the ring was them, destroying each other. Minka pulls Emery out onto the main floor, right in front of the announcers desk, throwing her into the apron and then over onto the announcers’ desk itself. Crouching on top of it, she leans down and hisses into Emery’s face until her moves back, but the Lethal Lackeen rolls off the desk. She’s not going to stay for this. Minka screams in utter frustration as she follows her onto the floor. But as she feels herself being pulled up, the Worst of the Pavees isn’t going down on that desk without a fight first, so she does exactly that. Bucking Minka away like a goat, she follows up by running at the Cleopatra of the Survivors, throwing her knee up in the air and catching Minka’s head.
MARK SANCTION: Minka Carter Eats the Music!
MATT STEEL: Dear lord, everyone’s fighting!
MARK SANCTION: No Matt, the Survivors are fighting. And look around you- everyone’s fighting BACK! The XWAers are getting the upperhand!
In the ring, A.J Morales has the Hardcore Championship in his hand, and slowly he turns to Sabbath. The Innovator of Anarchy is sat up up now. He’s got no one to save him, nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. If he runs, A.J’s just gonna give chase and no one is going to help him. The Revolution, both the man AND the movement, appear to be approaching, and they’re coming for Jack.
Well, not today.
The entire tone of the brawl shifts. Eyes wide- Jason, Emery and Dontell all stop to look to the entrance way, where Trace Demon and Ace Andrews stomp through the curtain.
MARK SANCTION: And by God there’s Trace Demon and Ace Andrews, the leader of the Survivors and the co-owner of the XWA respectively, coming down to the ring.
MATT STEEL: This just got serious. You guys are fucked now. No way you’re gonna stop Trace and Ace, who will team with Sabbath at Legends to face Morales, Emery and Adam Fenric.
MARK SANCTION: That’s if those guys can even MAKE it to Legends! I’ll be genuinely impressed if anyone here now is still in tip-top shape for that match after all this.
Emery, ever the reckless one, forgets Minka completely for a moment and dashes. She slides under the bottom rope and into the ring.
MARK SANCTION: Hang on, Emery Layton taking the charge!
A.J’s plead is unheard as Emery pounces through the middle rope. Trace has reached the bottom of the ramp, everything’s perfect...except the fact the King of Demons saw the entire thing and knew she was coming, so quite wisely took a few steps back, allowing Em to come crashing to the ground like a comet. She skids onto the ground, landing right at the feet of Trace.
MATT STEEL: She’s really NOT good at suicide dives, is she? It very rarely goes her way...
MARK SANCTION: And this might be the worst instance of that!
Trace picks her up and easily throws her into the barricade, head-first, and then just keeps on walking towards the ring with Ace like he’s thrown away a candy-bar wrapper rather than thrown someone head-first into steel. A.J is ready, beckoning them both into the ring. Demon and Andrews are happy to oblige, as the step up onto the apron. A.J goes for Ace first- the co-owner of the XWA who has been personally responsible for some of the worst acts of the last year- but all this does is give Trace a head-start. As Ace pulls himself laboriously into the ring through the right and left hands being thrown at him by the Revolution. Jack looks on in shock and awe, watching this entire thing transpire in the corner. Trace and Ace hound A.J now, at both sides of him. The Survivors’ top members both chip away at Morales, unrelenting and vicious. And it seems Andrews and Demon’s presence has created a different air, as suddenly the Survivors appear to be getting the upper hand. War Enforcement fight back at Hyphy Machinery. Emery pulls herself up, watching her man being destroyed and she can’t allow it. Staggering, she begins to approach the ring.
MARK SANCTION: Emery Layton back up, but is it too little to late?
MATT STEEL: She could certainly even the odds here against Trace Demon and Ace Andrews. She better hope—WAIT! MINKA!
Throwing herself at the Lord of the Ring, Minka takes Em down like a football player, having run all the way around the ring. Viciously she begins to batter away at Emery. A.J is dragged out of the ring by Ace and Trace, who have evil intentions for him involving those steel stairs.
MARK SANCTION: As soon as Trace and Andrews showed up, the entire brawl has shifted gears. The Survivors have control. I don’t like this one bit…
Sabbath is alone in the ring, once again. The only ones not fighting are him...and Amy Taylor. She’s stood out on the outside, trying desperately to call people, to get security, just anything. Jack and Amy lock eyes. These two who’ve been through eight years of one another...and this is the world they’ve created. Jack looks around, seeing the carnage being created by the Survivors and looks back to Amy. This is the world he wanted. This is justice. This is what he sees as ‘right’. Amy is on the wrong side of history. The Innovator of Anarchy smiles. Nothing can stop him or the Survivors. No one is coming.
But then the lights go out.
All the sounds of brawling stop in a wave of silence. Cue murmuring from crowd and others alike.
MATT STEEL: Oh God, what NOW?
MARK SANCTION: We seem to have lost power here, ladies and gents, not a single light on in the arena.
MATT STEEL: We’ve got power, I can hear you. Something is going on here and I don’t like it…
Light returns...for one person. Diamond Jack Sabbath. A single spotlight on the Destroyer of Eras. The world he wanted is here, it would seem. No one else, just him. Except it’s not just him at all. Not remotely.
A second spotlight drops, alerting us to another presence. Jack’s eyes widen as the crowd roars. Stood over him as he looks up, she watches.
The Colisée Pepsi erupts.
MARK SANCTION: No...
MATT STEEL: Oh Jesus.
MARK SANCTION: That...that’s Isabella Fenric! The youngest sister of Adam Fenric! The Omen of the Plague Doctor! We haven’t seen her in nearly a year!
MATT STEEL: And a lot has changed since then...
Jack only ever met Isabella once, and it was over a year ago during his Falls Count Anywhere match with Rob Chapman. He was told that someone she knew ‘talked about him’. In quiet moments, he’d wondered what that meant. He’d wondered when the day would come when he’d get an answer...until today. The day has come. Slowly, Isabella- small, sweet and blonde like Alice but with a grin like the Cheshire Cat- raises her arm, as she points directly at Jack. She points right into his soul.
MARK SANCTION: Oh no…do you know what this means, Matt? Do you KNOW what this means?!?
MATT STEEL: If it means what I think it means...it’s just become a bad, bad day to be a member of the Survivors.
Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” suite begins and Jack shakes his head as Isabella begins...to dance. It’s slow, it’s delicate, it’s nice, ballet-esque and...sinister. The XWA world cast their minds back to Legends 2016, the last time this happened, and what it meant. Jack scrambles to his feet and turns to leave the ring but Isabella hops in front of him, placing a single hand on his chest and pushing him back, still dancing, but now circling him like prey. He’s going nowhere. As Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece picks up, a blinding light emanates from the entrance way, where we see a silhouette, and immediately everyone looks to see it. A big, long cloak. A wide-brim hat. The horrifying, large-eyed mask of a plague doctor. It’s Adam Fenric...but not as we’ve come to know him.
MATT STEEL: Oh...my...God.
MARK SANCTION: Adam Fenric has finally joined the fight...but it’s no ordinary version of Fenric, he’s channelling the PLAGUE DOCTOR persona!
MATT STEEL: And if you don’t know what that means, you better get ready. Things are about to get serious.
The Plague Doctor begins a calm, cool walk down the ramp. Everyone is watching as he descends. He’s taking his time, he’s staring forwards, approaching the scene like a specter of death. Em, A.J and Amy watches on, this terrifying side to Adam they’ve never seen before. The lights slowly and softly begin to rise back up. Something stirs in the mind of Raine as the music slowly backs out. The Silent Assassin runs for it. He and Serena both leave Moana and Dontell to charge Adam Fenric.
MARK SANCTION: War Enforcement are the first to make a move on Adam!
MATT STEEL: I hope he can see through that mask!
Serena darts across and is the first to get to Adam, but the Plague Doctor sees her coming. He doesn’t flinch, he doesn’t even move until the very last second. As she leaps into the air and throws her fist up, he catches her by the arm and very calmly contorts it behind her back before pulling on her hair and kicking underneath her feet, taking her right down. When she’s on the ground, Adam simply stomps one foot down on her exposed elbow after Serena turns around onto her front to try and get back up. She screams in agony as Adam walks over it and continues his approach. Raine is next up, throwing a leg out for a kick that would’ve been very hard...if he’d have hit it. But instead, Adam catches his leg with one arm and Raine’s throat with the other, squeezing it but only enough to cause immense pain. Throwing Raine’s leg to the floor, he grabs the back of the Silent Assassin’s head and rams it into the barricade. And then again. And again. And again. He smashes Raine’s head into the barricade over and over, a massive cut opening after colliding with the steel so many times. Blood now dripping from Raine’s cranium, Adam stares into his eyes for only a seconds before throwing him to the ground.
MATT STEEL: Dear lord...I take back everything I ever said about Adam Fenric, I prefer him when he’s a know-it-all. I do NOT like the Plague Doctor.
MARK SANCTION: He just single-handedly destroyed both of War Enforcement with little to no effort. This is nightmarish!
Still cool, still unshaken, Adam removes his hat, his mask and cloak, staring up at him. Staring at the man he’s thought about for years.
Adam Fenric, son of the infamously-paralysed Aldus Fenric, and Diamond Jack Sabbath, the most successful trainee of Skip Sanders...the man who paralysed him.
Isabella stands behind Jack as Adam approaches. But as Adam rolls into the ring...Sabbath rolls out. He has nowhere else to go. He can’t go back. He can’t go anywhere else. It appears the other Survivors have much the same idea, as they all regroup at the bottom of the entrance stage. War Enforcement are dragged up by Ace and Minka as Trace and Jack shake their heads, backing up while Emery, Amy, A.J and Hyphy Machinery join Adam and Isabella in the ring. There is much booing to be had as the Survivors leave the scene.
MATT STEEL: They’re leaving! They can’t leave like this with their tails between their legs!
MARK SANCTION: The line in the sand has been drawn, ladies and gentlemen! It’s those great competitors in the ring versus the Survivors. The Battle for the XWA has come. You do NOT want to miss Legends- the fate of the entire company is on the line!
And as A.J steps forward, he holds up the Hardcore Championship in the air. We close on this image, cutting back between the Survivors and Team XWA camps as they volley insults at one another.
Tonight, the Survivors came to attack, but XWA fought back with a vengeance.