The show returns from commercial break, showing a panning shot of the arena briefly until the lighting in the arena shifts; BANG YONGGUK’s Yamakazi blasts over the sound system. Smoke begins to pour onto the stage as a neon green spotlight shoots up underneath, catching it in ghostly patterns. In the midst of it all a figure can be made out if one concentrates their focus enough; the individual has their back turned to the ring as they pose and, as the smoke clears and the spotlight fades, most fans have identified the competitor and boo accordingly.Hana Ramierez:
“The following contest is a Lord of the Ring Opening Round Match, scheduled for one fall! Introducing first, from Busan, South Korea… Weighing in at 165 pounds… The “World Class Athlete”, SHOJU KOTA!”
The boos intensify as Kota spins around, with the arena lights transitioning to match the same shade of green his spotlight had moments ago. Kota stands with a cocky grin on his face while he looks out at the sea of people packed into the BattleZone jeering him with passion, his disrespectful remarks toward his opponent on social media evidently still fresh in their minds.Mark Sanction:
“Shoju Kota... certainly not the fan favourite here in this one…”Emery Layton:
“After what he said on Twitter? I don’t blame ‘em for booing him!”Adam Fenric:
“It’s been said many times, though. This isn’t a popularity contest. What matters most is what you do in that ring, and I for one am intrigued to see what this kid brings to the table.”
Kota strides down the ramp, only to stop halfway and lift his hands above his head; his wrists overlap one another as he points to the ceiling. Moments later, he continues his walk to the ring, leaping up onto the apron, the cameraman catching a great shot of him from the floor beneath him. Kota’s gaze traces around the audience before it settles on the camera -- he winks before performing an impressive flip over the top rope to land in the center of the ring. He drops to a knee and cracks his neck as his theme song fades.
Boos become cheers as the blistering guitar from “Ca In July” hits, and the cheers only seem to get louder when the drums of the song kick in at the precise moment Kelsey Spencer bursts out from behind the curtain with high energy. She takes a minute to take the moment in with a great big smile on her face.Hana Ramierez:
“And his opponent! From the Gold Coast, Australia… weighing in tonight at 124 pounds… She is “The Blue Hurricane”, KELSEY SPENCER!”Mark Sanction:
“Listen to this reaction! This may only be Kelsey Spencer’s second appearance in XWA, but she’s certainly a favourite among our fanbase!”Emery Layton:
“How can ya not like this girl? She’s got spunk, and she’s cool AF!”Adam Fenric:
“Tell me you did not just use an internet abbreviation in real life.”Emery Layton:
“It saves time!”Adam Fenric:
“It’s the same amount of sylla-- Know what? Never mind.”
She strides down the ramp with a spring in her step, slapping the outstretched hands of fans as she passes… even giving a hug to one lucky young boy in the front row! She comes to a stop before the ring, takes a deep breath, then runs and slides into the ring beneath the bottom rope. Kota - who’s now leaning up against the far turnbuckle - rolls his eyes and finds a neutral space to stare as Spencer climbs the ropes and poses for one final pop before her theme fades out.Mark Sanction:
“Two contrasting styles set to clash in this one: the young rookie Kota meets the experienced veteran Spencer. Hold on… what’s this now?”
Before the bell can sound, Kota approaches the center of the ring, prompting Spencer to meet him there. The South Korean star places his left hand behind his back and extends his right toward his opponent, apparently in a gesture of respect. Fans booing particularly loud to the left of the pair catch Kota’s attention, and he eyes them with a growing smirk. The general consensus from this 1500-seat capacity crowd is Spencer shouldn’t trust him; even Spencer seems hesitant at first, though she can’t bring herself to refuse. She warily accepts the handshake, which only proves to make the smug grin on his face even wider. Contrary to popular believe though, he doesn’t use it to take advantage -- instead, he lets the firm handshake linger for a few seconds. Both competitors stare each other down before Kota releases his grip, each of them returning to their respective corners at the referee’s request. The official calls for the bell.
Spencer and Kota circle each other in the middle of the ring, studying each other’s body language, looking for any kind of opening. Spencer’s reserved nature appears to her downfall in the early goings, as she hesitates a little too long in making her move, giving Kota the opportunity to latch onto his smaller opponent with a waistlock and drive her back into the adjacent corner. The official is right there to enforce the rules.
With a palm placed firmly under her chin, Kota slowly begins to back out, taking full advantage of the referee’s five count, breaking right on four. He gives Spencer a playful little pat on the head before giving her space to breathe, an action which doesn’t go over well with the live crowd, who have no problem voicing their displeasure. Kota doesn’t seem to mind though, as he’s still grinning while Spencer glares back at him with a bird’s nest atop her head.Mark Sanction:
“It looks as though Kota’s just toying with Spencer! Do you think he’s not taking this seriously?”Adam Fenric:
“He did claim on social media that he was fishing for a reason to. That he was looking ahead to the Final.”
Kota shrugs as Spencer shakes it off, and the two resume. First, a collar-and-elbow followed by a shift into a side headlock from Kota… until it’s transitioned into a hammerlock by Spencer. Kota’s not trapped for long though, as he rears back and smacks Spencer in the cheek with a hard elbow. Kelsey instinctively releases the hammerlock and is vulnerable to an incoming headbutt from Kota…
...but she manages to step back and catch him in a front facelock! Fans come unglued, recognising this as the beginning of what could be the end!Emery Layton:
“Woahwoahwoah, guys! DDT! Kelsey’s set for the Deprivation DDT!”
Kota - from watching Spencer’s many matches over the past number of weeks, as well as gauging the reaction from the crowd - knows it’s time to get out. He drops to his belly and rolls out of the ring before Spencer even has opportune time to snap back with the move.Adam Fenric:
The World Class Athlete chuckles to himself as he strolls around the ring, playing it off like it’s nothing while muttering something in Korean. His opponent, on the other hand, patiently waits for him to get back between the ropes. Which he does…
...for a split second. As soon as he slides under the bottom rope, he’s back on the arena floor. He shakes his head as he strolls around, taunting particularly irritated members of the crowd as he passes them. Spencer’s having none of it though, as she slides out the ring behind him and hastily makes her way over to him -- she grabs him by the neck and bounces his head off the apron before tossing him back under the bottom rope.
Spencer shifts gears, firing on all cylinders to get an early lead. She delivers a series of knife edge chops to Kota, who toughs it out with a puffed chest. The blonde switches it up with a whip across the ring, and as Kota comes back towards her on the rebound, she ducks under to gain a little momentum; she catches him on the second rebound with a Japanese arm drag. Kota springs up to his feet out of the move, only to get hit with a standing dropkick to the face. Spencer goes for a quick cover off the landing.
Kota kicks out quickly and with momentum clearly not on his side right now, the young rookie decides to scramble over to the nearest corner while the fans show their support and approval for Spencer.Mark Sanction:
“The veteran Spencer’s firmly in control of this match right now!”Adam Fenric:
“Impressive use of Kota’s impetus there, I must say.”Emery Layton:
“Yeah, I think one of my uncles had that.”Adam Fenric:
“What on Earth are you on about now?”Emery Layton:
“Same thing you are, man! The impe-thingie. Woah woah, look out!”
Kota’s managed to climb to his feet against the corner, but neglects to notice Spencer come barrelling towards him with a flying forearm smash that connects right on the bridge of the nose. But the Australian’s just getting started, hooking him around the neck and performing a running bulldog. Kota bounces face first off the canvas, where he quickly discovers he hasn’t got time to collect his thoughts; almost as soon as the last move was executed, Spencer’s already transitioning into the next -- a Fujiwara armbar!
The South Korean manages to pull his arm free and roll out of the way. He tries to use his speed to his advantage, but as soon as he charges for an elbow smash, he’s caught with a reverse side kick to the gut. Spencer whips Kota into the far corner and runs after him, jumping up to tuck the points of her boots into her opponent’s abdomen. Then, with one mighty heave, Kota’s catapulted across the ring in spectacular fashion courtesy of a monkey flip, and sent crashing down into a supine position.
Fans roar with approval as Spencer moves to the outside of the apron, both hands firmly grasping the top rope, sizing up her opponent. She squats down and launches herself up and over to perform her slingshot somersault senton…
...but Shoju sees it coming, and rolls toward the rope to avoid the move. While Spencer manages to roll through in order to avoid wiping out completely, she does favour her right shoulder for a split second; that surgically-repaired right shoulder that’s been a nagging injury since it occurred in 2012. Of course, Kota’s keen eye catches the moment she winces and sees his opportunity to strike.Mark Sanction:
“No water in the pool for Spencer on that one. Did you see the way she went to that shoulder? May have tweaked something there…”Emery Layton:
“That bung shoulder’s given her plenty of grief over the years I’ve known her, man.”
The competitors converge in the middle of the ring where Spencer attempts to keep her momentum going, unaware that Kota’s got plans of his own. Wasting no time, Spencer boots Kota in the gut and latches on again -- presumably looking for the Deprivation DDT a second time -- but The Love of the World has a different approach to countering this time. He spins out of the front facelock and holds onto Spencer’s right wrist before dropping back-first to the canvas, knees placed right where her biceps and triceps meet -- the sudden impact of the move no doubt putting incredible torque on the shoulder. Spencer holds her shoulder and flops around in agony for a few seconds after the move; an action that brings that smirk back to the World Class Athlete’s face.Mark Sanction:
“Spencer’s second attempt at the Deprivation DDT thwarted yet again by Kota! This time, with devastating results! I think Spencer’s hurt here, guys!”Adam Fenric:
“That scapula is a huge target on Spencer, and driving the double knees into that upper arm -- the humerus, which connects the scapula to the rest of the arm -- that has got to put Kota on a direct path to running away with this thing.”Emery Layton:
“Bet Kelsey’s ain’t finding anything “humourous”
about that one, eh? Anyone?”Adam Fenric:
“...How do I put up with you?”
Just like that, the tide of the match has turned solely in Shoju Kota’s favour. He takes his time to pose for the cameras before he strides over to the grounded Spencer to get to work. He lifts his opponent to her feet and works her over with a couple of well-placed strikes; a knee to the gut has her double over in pain, but she only falls to her knees in front of him as Kota has a handful of her long blonde locks. With her hair still entwined in his fingers black gloves, Spencer is defenseless as Kota delivers a series of vicious elbow strikes to her forehead, much to the dismay of the XWA fans. Spencer seems out of it as Kota lets her go, watching her teeter to and fro while still kneeling in front of him.
All of a sudden, he takes off like a rocket, bouncing off the ropes behind Spencer to pick up speed; as he rebounds off the ropes on the side of the ring she’s facing, he pops up off her thigh with his left foot to deliver a devastating enziguri with his right!Mark Sanction:
“Holy cow! That sounded like a sniper rifle going off!”Emery Layton:
“Ch’yeah, no kiddin’! And poor Kelsey’s head nearly ended up in the third row!”
Spencer’s motionless after the sickening shot, and Kota wisely goes for a cover.
Spencer’s still alive as she rolls her good shoulder off the canvas. Kota appears to take note of this as he wrestles her to a seated position, hooking her injured arm underneath his leg as he locks in a sleeper hold.Mark Sanction:
“Shoju Kota firmly asserting his dominance here with this sleeper hold, arm bar-like maneuver. How smart is this kind of strategy, Adam?”Adam Fenric:
“Very smart. Keep control of your opponent. The most devastating moves in Kelsey Spencer’s arsenal these days are the Dragon Sleeper and that Deprivation DDT. Both of which she’s going to have a horrible time executing with only one arm.”Emery Layton:
“Somethin’ I find weird is she’s gone for the DDT twice already… I been in the ring with her before, and it ain’t like her to get that desperate to hit one move.”Adam Fenric:
The support of the fans wills the hearty Spencer to fight through the pain and get to her feet… but Kota’s prepared with a headbutt to the back of her skull. While Kelsey understandably reacts by clasping her hand to her neck, her opponent grabs a hold of her and drives her back down with a flatliner. Instead of going for a pin, he applies a Fujiwara armbar to deal even more damage to the shoulder. Kelsey’s cries are largely ignored by her remorseless opponent, who appears pleased to be in control of this contest; as he believed he should’ve been from the opening bell. Many fans -- particularly younger ones -- seem distressed by the howling anguish from their favourite; only Kota seems to be enjoying it, as he’s wearing a sly, smug grin while torturing the girl known as Blue Thunder.Mark Sanction:
“This hold has to be incredibly painful, if Spencer’s screams are anything to go by! If this continues much longer, the referee may have to look into stopping this match!”
The stubborn, headstrong Spencer refuses to give in -- and Kota realises she’s not going to tap out. He relieves the hold and gives her a moment to recollect herself; she immediately grabs at her shoulder and Kota shakes his head in response. He adds insult to injury when he places a boot on the head of a defenseless Spencer, and looks around at the crowd with an expression as if to say “This is it?” He scrapes the sole of his boot across the brow of Spencer and stands in the middle of the ring, posing just as he did during his entrance to a thunderous amount of jeers.Mark Sanction:
“Shoju Kota now becoming incredibly cocky here...”Adam Fenric:
“Indeed. Could come back to bite him in the you-know-what.”Emery Layton:
“Aww, c’mon! Just say ‘ass’!”Adam Fenric:
“I will not.”Emery Layton:
“How ‘bout ‘butt’? ‘Tooshie’?”Adam Fenric:
“Out of the question.”
Kota’s really turning up the heat now, closing in on wrapping this up; he drags Spencer by the hair and props her up against the ropes before whipping her across the ring; when she comes running back, she’s driven down to the mat with a perfectly-timed springboard clothesline that catches her flush in the jaw! She crumples to the canvas, where Kota goes for a pin.
Spencer manages to roll her left shoulder off the canvas. Kota remembers this from before, and swaps sides to put all of his weight on the left side of her body for another pin attempt.
Closer that time, but Spencer manages -- with great difficulty -- to shoot her right shoulder off the canvas just in time.Adam Fenric:
“Great strategy there, forcing Spencer to kick out with the injured arm.”Emery Layton:
“This kid’s a quick study, ain’t he?”
Out of what could be frustration setting in, Kota delivers a standing elbow drop to Kelsey’s sternum, followed by a quick stomp as he makes his way over to the nearest turnbuckle. He ascends to the top rope, ready to take to the air...
...meanwhile, Spencer groggily stumbles to a vertical base, unaware of Kota lurking behind her. Perched on the turnbuckle at her six o’clock, he waits for her to turn before he launches himself halfway across the ring for a thunderous missile dropkick! The force sends Spencer flying, and she performs an involuntary backflip before landing in a prone position by the ropes. Emery Layton:
“Holy guacamole! Now that’s a dropkick!”
Kota, though rocked by his own landing, pops up to get back on the offensive. He wastes little time making his way over to his motionless opponent, lifting Spencer up and holding her in a Half Nelson. One wink to a female fan ringside later, and he hoists her up for what must be the Setting Sun, Kota’s most devastating move…
...but Spencer has other plans! Before Kota can lift her fully onto his shoulders to perform the final slam, Spencer manages to hook her heels under his arms! With her legs tucked firmly in her opponent’s arm pits, Spencer rolls between Kota’s legs, using her momentum to perform a wheelbarrow victory roll!
The move stuns Kota, but not long enough to attain the necessary three count; he pops out of the pinning predicament, pushing Spencer back over his head in order to get himself to a seated position. Now he’s the one in the dark about what’s going on behind him, as Spencer’s already on her feet and sizing him up. Kota stands and turns… only to eat the sole of Spencer’s boot, courtesy of a jaw-rattling superkick! Kota hits the mat and Spencer stumbles, feeling the effects of the offense she’s had to endure for the bulk of the match. However, the crack produced from that superkick makes it apparent she wasn’t anywhere near as worn out as she may have been letting on.
Spencer desperately crawls over, hooking Kota’s outside leg for a deep cover.
Kota’s left shoulder shoots off the canvas at the last possible second! The crowd can’t believe it, and neither can Spencer, who sits in disbelief just a few feet from Kota, who’s no doubt seeing stars right now. She quickly understands that she needs to stay on the offensive and not give Kota an inch, lest she find herself in the same situation as earlier in the match.
She lifts her 40-pounds-heavier opponent to his feet and, although she’s already tried twice in this contest with no luck, Spencer’s geared up for her finisher once again.Mark Sanction:
“And it looks like the Deprivation DDT is being set up one more time! Could the third time be the charm for Kelsey Spencer?!”
As it turns out, the answer’s a no. Kota snakes his leg inside Spencer’s to block the execution of the move. He hooks his opponent around the neck and falls back to attempt a small package…
...in a move Spencer appears to have predicted! The scrappy Gold Coast native managed to push her feet up at the beginning of the counter to give herself the momentum needed to roll through into a small package of her own! Hugging her right arm to her chest with her left arm and both legs folding Kota up, Spencer holds onto the pinning predicament with all the might she can muster as the official slides into position.
The fans erupt with elation as the bell sounds, and Spencer rolls out under the bottom rope. Her defeated foe stares at the referee with saucer eyes, asserting that he believed it was only a two count -- he disagrees, and the forthcoming announcement only confirms what everyone else believes to be true:Hana Ramierez:
“Ladies and gentlemen, your winner… KELSEY SPENCER!”
The pop-punk Bombpops anthem is heard for the second time in the BattleZone tonight. She’s bruised and battered, but Kelsey manages to show off her cheesy grin as the official exits the ring to raise her (healthy) arm in victory.Mark Sanction:
“Unbelievable! Spencer with the quick win here! What did we just witness?!”Emery Layton:
“I’ll tell ya what happened! My pal Kelsey just used her wits to get the W!”Adam Fenric:
“It would appear Spencer went for the Deprivation DDT numerous times early on to feel out her opponent’s reaction to it. Gauge his counters. When he had exhausted the majority of them, she used it to her advantage and caught him completely off guard. Experience wins the day.”Emery Layton:
“Hell yeah! Whew, what a match!”
The defeated Kota watches on from the ring - his smirk noticeably absent - as Kelsey makes her way back up the top of the stage, where turns back around and acknowledges the fans for their support one final time before taking her leave.