This is a co-write between myself and PhoenixRoost. HUGE thanks to him for all his contributions to this one. Enjoy!
Ramirez: The following contest is scheduled for one fall, and it is for the XWA Supreme Championship!
“Champion” by Falling in Reverse starts playing over the ship’s sound system, and the crowd gets to their feet. They know the XWA Superman never disappoints when he has an appearance on the Xtreme Cruiselines, and this is especially true for a match for the XWA Supreme Championship. True to form, there’s a blinding flash of pyro at the entranceway, and when the fans can see again, there he is, full pirate regalia (complete with replica cutlass), standing at the top of the entranceway, one foot up on a barrel that’s part of the set dressing. He has a huge smile on his face and is already doing his air guitar routine on the cutlass.
He raises both hands in the air, one still holding the cutlass, and shouts to the crowd.
The crowd knows the cue and shouts as well, and there is another explosion of pyro in time with their shared exuberance. After the hearing of the fans returns a little, he smiles at the camera, tapping the face plate of his XWA Tag Team Championship with the tip of the prop cutlass. He mouths something that looks like “She looks lonely” before heading down to the ring. As he goes, the music kicks in with vocals and he gives some emphatic fist bumps to fans along the entrance ramp.
"(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. The Cruiseline fans are chanting loud enough to be picked up by several cameras on-board mics:
CAP-TAIN BLOND-STREAK *clap clap clapclapclap*
"(WHOOOOOOOA-OH!) Because a champion is what they call me now"
Then, he quickly climbs the nearest turnbuckle and undoes the XWA Tag Team Championship that was clasped loosely around his waist. Finding the nearest SkyCam, he looks right down the lens as he holds up the championship in one hand. He shouts over the music:
Morales: AH’M HERE T’ PLUNDER YER GOLD!
"And I’m not backing down (HEY, HEY, HEY!)
I will stand my ground (HEY, HEY, HEY!)"
A.J. hops down and starts mouthing 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. keeps lip-syncing and looking right at the camera, and once the song moves on to a verse, A.J. hands the title belt to the referee before squaring up, ready to fight.
Steel: I mean...that’s surprisingly straightforward. On these cruises I usually expect the Layton/Morales approach to be mind-numbingly asinine.
Sanction: Well it’s an important night for him, Matt. A.J. Morales is a highly decorated competitor, in XWA and abroad, but in all that time, he has never held the XWA Supreme Championship. Despite all his accomplishments, this is only his second attempt. It’s been more than a year since his last shot at Supremacy, and despite having worked alongside The Phoenix to fend off Cuddles, Inc. during the Lord of the Ring tournament, I don’t think he’s going to give his partner any leeway.
Steel: As it should be. There’s just something that rubs me wrong about our current Supreme Champion--and before you say it, no, it’s not that she’s a woman.
The camera cuts to something that is clearly a pre-record.
The lights cut out the instant Kaji’s last line finishes, and instead of her usual theme music, ”Life Will Change” start playing, and the ship’s lighting system starts pulsing with red lights in the darkness. As the opening builds up to the crescendo leading to the main theme, the pulses get longer and brighter until finally the song starts properly and Albion steps onto stage. Her Supershow Cosplay of choice this month? Makoto Niijima’s Metaverse outfit, a blue and black two-tone bodysuit with a studded gun metal gray breastplate, Domino mask, and knee-high boots. Tellingly, she does not come out with Queen’s studded brass knuckles. She does, however, stop on stage, arms up as she spins around to look at all the fans, and to let them look at the XWA Supreme Championship around her waist.
After a few seconds, when she’s facing the ring again, she glares down the ramp at the ring, grits her teeth, and raises her right leg for an overdramatic stomp. When it lands, there is the sound of cracking steel, some image-based special effects under her foot to create the image of cracks running through the ramp from a small divot created by her foot that appear in time with a blast of pyro of her own. The crowd is cheering as Albion stalks to the ring, stretching her arms performatively. As she gets to the ring, she slides in under the bottom rope before popping up to her feet, arms spread wide and doing another slow twirl, displaying both herself and her title to the assembled crowd. She pulls the mask off, then moves into her corner, waiting for the announcements.
Steel: Ah, there it is. God damn it, why is she the Supreme Champion?
Sanction: She earned it fair and square, Matt, and you saw it happen. And you then saw her defend the title against Dave O’Connor at Gold Rush. I know you don’t like her--
Steel: But do you know how much?
Sanction: Clearly not. But she is the champ for a reason, and she is going to make A.J. earn the belt if he wants it.
Steel: You’re not going to say anything at all about this latest farce of an entrance?
Sanction: She’s clearly enjoying her time at the top of the mountain. I think that’s wise in a place as competitive as XWA, as it is only a matter of time until she is no longer there. But let’s save this for another time and go to Hana for the introductions.
Hana Ramirez comes to the center of the ring, microphone in hand.
Ramirez: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is the main event of the evening, and it is for the XWA Supreme Championship! Introducing first, the challenger...representing the Scooby Gang, from San Francisco, California, weighing in at 187 pounds...he is one-half of the XWA World Tag Team Champions, one-half of the 4CW Tag Team Champions, and the independent San Francisco Openweight Champion...“The Revolution” A.J. Morales!
Morales steps to the center of the ring and raises his hands into the air, and the crowd cheers for the XWA mainstay.
Ramirez: And his opponent, from Evansville, Indiana, weighing in at 164 pounds, she is the XWA Supreme Champion...”The Dawnbringer” Albion Gale!
Gale steps forward, unclasps the XWA Supreme Championship, and holds it high in the air as the crowd cheers for her as well. This done, she hands the title off to head official Jack Tickles, who then holds it up in the air, doing the traditional turn to the four sides of the ring, the final side being to hard camera, before handing it off to a timekeeper.
Sanction: Alright, Matt, the time for the “farces,” as you call them, is over. From here, it’s all about the XWA Supreme Championship.
Steel: Finally. I hope these two tenderize each other.
Tickles looks from one competitor to the other. They are both ready, and he knows damn well they already know the rules to the game, so he just calls for the bell and lets them do what they do.
Albion is sitting on the bed in her cabin, looking at a monitor with Kaji on it. She doesn’t look very excited.
Fireson: Look, I know last year’s cruise didn’t go so well for you, but you’ve got nowhere to go but up.
Gale: I know. I just can’t shake the feeling that it’s going to go wrong.
Fireson: You’ve endured worse. A.J. is going to push you and punish you, but you’re there for the same reason he is. No matter what happens, you’re going to come out stronger on the other side.
Gale nods. She’s still anxious, but she’s starting to hype herself up.
Gale: It may seem hopeless, but that’s the kind of day I live for. What’s better than doing the impossible?
Fireson: That’s the spirit. Oh, hey, did you get the stuff I sent you?
Gale can’t help but smile, the grin a little dopey on her face.
Gale: Oh yeah. Beautiful. Very appropriate.
Fireson: Well then get up, get out there...and steal some hearts.
XWA Supreme Championship
Morales and Gale squared up to start, and while the difference is not as much as she’s used to, Gale is still giving up two inches and twenty pounds. They circle the ring and lock up, AJ getting the early advantage and pushing Albion into the corner. Tickles is quick to admonish, and AJ is quick to release. Albion nods a bit, smiling, and they circle each other some more. They lock up again, but this time Albion has control, and rather than push AJ back, she pulls him down into a headlock. He, of course, immediately pulls her back into the ropes to shove her off, and when she bounds back, he drops to the mat to force her to jump over. He pops up and pulls her over in an arm drag, then a dropkick when they both pop up, but when he goes for the third move, Gale shoves off a vertical suplex attempt, and when he comes back, she hits a headlock takeover, sticking the landing. From there, the sequence proceeds quickly to Morales with Gale in a head scissor, then Gale pulling herself into a Jackknife, then Morales bridging out of the Jackknife. As he twists her over into the traditional backslide follow-up, Gale propels herself in a backflip over Morales’s back to break free, and when Morales whips upright, the ensuing staredown earns big pops.
They start circling each other around the ring again, but this time, Gale beats AJ to the punch, dodging a clothesline attempt to bring him down in a running headscissors takedown! AJ pops back to his feet, but Gale is there waiting for him with an arm drag of her own. She parlays that into a springboard dropkick, nailing AJ as he’s rolling back up to his feet, and as the momentum swings firmly into her favor, she pops out onto the apron. AJ gets to his feet sluggishly, but when Albion launches herself at him with a springboard crossbody, AJ ducks and Gale crashes to the canvas. She’s quick to get back up, but AJ blasts her with a bicycle knee strike, and as she flails about, trying to keep her balance, he hops up to the second turnbuckle, times his shot, and front flips over her, nailing a Blockbuster! He goes for the first cover of the match.
Gale kicks out at an early two. AJ keeps the pressure on with a rear chinlock, but Gale inevitably starts to twist around and power out of it. She gets up to her feet, bent over, and elbows AJ in the stomach several times to break free. She gets separation, but as she’s pulling herself upright, AJ blasts her in the back of the head with an elbow smash! He gets a few boos from this, though Sanction explains it away as fierce determination to leave with the Supreme Championship. The crowd is leaning Gale, but AJ’s fans forgive him quickly when he climbs up high and lands a big Meteora, driving Gale into the canvas! He goes for another pin...
This two count is longer, but Gale still gets out with plenty of room. Morales then moves to the corner and starts doing corner stomps, both setting up for his Fuckin’ Slayerrrr and also riffing on Gale’s Blazing Kick stomps. Gale is roused and stumbles toward him, but she ducks the Superkick at a charge, springboards off the middle rope, and twists in the air to land the crossbody she wanted earlier! She sticks the landing for a pin...
AJ kicks out an an early two as well. Albion nods, then runs toward the ropes. She was going for a springboard moonsault this time, but predicted AJ would move and twists to her feet, and as AJ staggers back toward the ropes, she charges and clotheslines him over the top rope to the floor out by the ramp! The crowd cheers its way to a crescendo as Albion follows, diving clear over the top rope and crashing down into AJ with a huge suicide dive! The crowd is cheering as both superstars lay on the mats as Tickles counts. Albion is first up, but she helps the stirring AJ up to get him into the ring, wanting to eliminate the chance of a countout. As she’s sliding in, AJ is standing up, though, and as she stands to meet him, he blasts her with a stiff knife-edge chop. He follows up with a European uppercut, then spinning backfist that has Gale reeling on the ropes. He whips her toward the ropes, but she manages to catch herself and reverse it. She’ll wish she hadn’t, though, because as soon as his back leaves the ropes, he’s airborne and flying at her with El Diablade! The crowd pops as Gale crumbles and AJ goes for another cover.
She gets a shoulder up! He gets closer every time, but he’s not there yet. He stalks behind her, and as she gets upright, he moves in, grabbing her right arm from behind with his left. He pushes her out to load the Ripcord, but as he pulls her in, she ducks the Slingblade and heaves him over her shoulder with a back body drop! The crowd cheers, but Gale doesn’t let him rest. She springs forward and locks in a headscissor as fast as she can. Steel makes a lewd remark about how AJ could get in trouble with the wife, but everyone ignores him. AJ starts to struggle out, first trying to pry her legs apart, but she has them interlocked well and at a bad angle. She pushes her body up for more torque, but AJ is able to use that moment to flip her onto her stomach, and himself as well. As he starts lifting her up in an Electric Chair, she tries to get free, unlocking and flailing. She manages to slip down his back, but as soon as she lands, AJ launches a big Pele Kick and nails her with his Golden Goal! He pulls her away from the ropes and goes for a cover.
AJ is starting to get frustrated with how close the falls are getting, but she still gets out in time. AJ runs a hand through his hair as Gale starts stirring. She gets up and AJ just blasts her with another elbow smash, this time to the face. She staggers back and he goes for a straight punch that knocks her into the corner. There, he just goes to town with knife-edge chops, uppercuts, and a knee lift when she tries to fall forward out of the corner to push her back. Tickles eventually gets him out of the corner with a five count--AJ only lets it get to two--and AJ backs off. Wrong move, as Gale explodes out of the corner with a haymaker. AJ staggers back a step, and Albion goes to town on him with knife-edge chops as well. They then get into a strike fight, mixing punches and chops and roundhouse kicks to the midsection and legs back and forth and back and forth. Gale looks like she’s getting the upper hand when AJ stumbles back into the ropes when she nails a big enzuigiri, but when she rushes forward to hit the leaping reverse STO, the only Cacophony she hears is in her own head as it hits the canvas, because AJ was clinging to the ropes! He slips out onto the apron and sets himself, and as Albion pushes herself up, he springboards off, spins around, and hits the Diamond Killer right in the back of her head! She crumbles, and he rushes over to cover her as the crowd is roaring.
3--no! The crowd roars louder when she gets her shoulder up just in the nick of time! AJ is speechless, and Albion is motionless, but it’s not over! AJ growls in audible frustration, but shakes it off and stalks over to a corner. He’s not stomping this time, he’s signaling for the Liberator, and as Albion slowly, painstakingly pushes herself up, AJ charges forward and launches the punch to end the title reign, but Albion dodges it, catching him with the Cacophony she was looking for earlier! She had the arm trapped and everything, but she’s too weak to capitalize, letting AJ roll away slightly. She slaps the mat weakly as she flips over onto her stomach, pushing herself up. AJ is groggy as he’s getting up, and as he turns around, Albion kicks him in the stomach to double him over, then grabs him for a suplex, lifts, and twists for the Falcon Arrow! Rather than go for the cover, she looks at the turnbuckle and signals for the Purple Rain! She is slow to leave the ring, and she is slow to climb. Too slow, as it turns out. The crowd howls with boos as Dave O’Connor barrels toward the ring from the crowd. Albion is not quick enough to get out of the way, and Dave shoves her off the top rope all the way to the floor to crash and burn! Jack Tickles, furious and afraid, signals for the bell immediately. As personnel rush to the ring to get Tickles out of there, Dave pays him no mind, turning his attention instead to AJ. He stalks toward the Superman of XWA--though he hardly fits the bill at the moment--and as soon as he gets to his feet, he roars and charges, blasting AJ with his Flying Knee Strike. AJ also crumbles, and Dave stands triumphantly over him as the bell just continues to ring.
Sanction: This is reprehensible! It was already bad enough he assaulted Albion during a non-title bout and unmasked another wrestler, now he’s interrupting Supreme Title matches?
Steel: ...would you rather he break some more civvies’ arms, Mark?
Sanction: What I’d rather is Bella finally do what’s needed and fire the O’Connors like she should have done in the first place!
Steel: Maybe their argument about her needing their extreme violence holds more water than we think.
Dave is standing triumphant over AJ still, mouthing off at the crowd as Alissa is walking over, mic in hand. However, as she does, she walks by Albion as she’s trying to get up. To be cheeky, Alissa kicks Albion in the head, but rather than prove her power, this seems to anger Albion enough to get her up to her feet. Alissa backs away scared, yelling for Dave who comes when called, but as he drops down to the mats, Albion charges Dave with a shoulder tackle and drives him into the apron! He arches his back, but he’s fresh and she’s not, so he recovers quickly and clubs her in the back, earning more deafening boos. She falls down to the mats and Dave stalks her, mouthing off inaudibly to her now, and Alissa focuses on her. But when Dave starts to pick Albion up to do something else nasty, they turn and catch AJ as he flies out of the ring at them with a big diving crossbody! Alissa manages to get out of the way, but all three wrestlers go down and are right next to the barricade opposite the ramp. Security is urging fans away from them, but even as they’re stirring, AJ and Albion are trying to double-team The Maniac. Their exhaustion is showing, however, as Dave is able to shrug them off violently, sending Albion staggering back and AJ falling over the barricade into the seats...and closer to the edge of the boat.
Sanction: Oh come on! I thought we were going to make it to the end of the show without this happening!
Steel: You have to, Mark. If you have Chekov’s Boat in Act One, someone has to fall off of Chekov’s Boat in Act Three. That’s the rules.
Dave follows AJ over the barricade and stalks him as he backs away, closer to the emergency rail that the boat has. He clubs AJ in the back to push him closer even as Albion scrambles over the barricade. Alissa is screaming to make him pay, then to look out as Albion rushes in and blasts Dave in the back with a double axe handle! She didn’t have as much behind it as normal, but it’s still enough to stagger him. He turns around and downs Albion with another stiff right hand, but this is the opening AJ needed to get some distance from the rail himself, wailing away with punches and roundhouse kicks on Dave. Dave shoves him hard into the rail, and AJ teeters, almost going over the edge. Albion rushes over to try and save AJ, hitting a Savat kick that is not quite as powerful as a Blazing Kick. It sends Dave staggering back slightly, and Albion tries to pull AJ off the rail, but Alissa yells out.
Alissa: END THEM!
Dave responds with a roar and charges forward, and AJ and Albion both turn just in time to get double-speared through the guard rail, and all three wrestlers plummet off the deck and into the Caribbean Sea! The crowd is not sure how to feel about that, but Alissa certainly knows, screeching nearly incoherently for boat staff to deploy the rescue dinghies to save her husband. The image of Alissa screeching at anybody who even looks official is the final image of the show.
Albion Gale © vs. A.J. Morales