There is hustle and bustle from the back of the room as someone pushes their way through the Japanese reporters. Cameras flash and murmurs of 'scuse me', 'pardon me' and even a little 'hey Austin, what's up?' move through the crowd like a parting wave. Emerging out of the front, being spat out by the sea of reporters is none other than one half of the XWA Tag Team Champions, Emery Layton, which prompts a loud cheer from the fans in attendance. Em turns around, a large light now on her as she stands in front of the panel. She appears to be holding a potted bonsai tree in one hand and a tangerine in the other, a look of relief on her face.
Oi oi! Sorry I'm late. Really wanted to be here earlier but I got stuck at the top of Tokyo Tower, had to be airlifted, It's a long story, you don't wanna know. Could you guys all just do me a favor and pretend I was here the entire time? Amy's gonna kill me if she finds out I wasn't.
What's the bonsai tree about?
Em looks down at it.
Hmm? Oh yeah, a fan gave it to me. I dunno what I'm gonna do with it but it's pretty cracking to actually have one so I'm quite pleased.
She backs up, perching herself on top of the table at which all of our stars are currently sat. The Worst of the Pavees looks around, hesitating as to where to place the tree and eventually settles on a nice little spot to the side of her, right in front of Trevor Miller, obscuring his face (much to his complete disdain for this) as she sits cross-legged on top of the table with a Cheshire-cat grin.
There are chairs set up right there behind you...
Em turns and looks at them for a few seconds...
Oh yeah. Good spot. Anyway, questions!
...and then turns back as she begins to peel her tangerine, completely unmoved. A Japanese reporter steps forward. He is speaking slightly slowly and enunciating.
She puts her tangerine down for a few seconds to put her hands together and bow her head.
Em picks the tangerine back up and strategically begins to peel the entire thing as she listens to the reporter.
Hi. You have wrestled in Japan before, but now you return to compete in first round of Lord of the Ring and face Saiko Yunokawa at Supershow. How does return to Japan now compare to last time here?
Wow. Yeah, so, last time I was here, I was working joshi leagues and making way less money, not as many people even knew who I was and I wouldn't have got a look-in at XWA, y'know? I mean I tried out for XWA Genesis a few years ago and got nothing. It was between me and some movie star guy, you can guess who they would've gone for back then for, yeah? But now it's all different. If you knew the Japan scene you might have known me, but now it's just on a bigger scale in relation to, like, who knows me. I get people actually coming to me saying 'hey, we wanna book you for this show cos of that match you had at XWA or Union Battleground or where ever', and I didn't have that last time. Coming back to Japan's a special thing. I made a lot of friends here over the years too so even for someone like me, it's like coming home, know what I mean?
The Japanese reporter moves back as a larger reporter, British-accent, steps forward.
THE GRAPS MAGAZINE REPORTER:
Hello Emery, Nigel Ruperts for The Graps Magazine in the UK. There's some massive names in the Lord of the Ring tournament this year, very much a mish-mash of independent stars and wrestlers from other companies as well as XWA's current roster and Hall of Famers. What are your thoughts on those involved and the possibility of facing them?
Oh man, I'm super ready for the tournament so I'll face anybody who gets in there with me, really. Here's what's what- I know a lot of people in this industry, just inherently I do after travelling for so long, but there's people in this thing I know but never got to wrestle. Like, I could end up in there with Nirvana, who's a big deal, or Max Hopper or, screw it, Joey Miles and Cassius Reed just got dropped on us. I'll fight anyone they give me, but it's cool to be in the same tournament as some of these names, finally.
THE GRAPS MAGAZINE REPORTER:
What about the returning and current XWA stars part of this?
Well, I think I said before that Tempest was my favorite wrestler for the longest time and he ain't too far away in this tournament. I got a win over Novak at Legends. You got Rose, Trace Demon, MadDog...it's kinda made me think of how real it is that I'm in XWA now. I used to follow this place growing up by reading your magazine, actually. Yeah, there's the chance I might face Minka Carter, or OOKAMI No Chi, or Smith Jones somewhere down the line, but I welcome it! I'll fight anyone, old or new.
Raising his hand in the air, once again, is Austin Carter. Em grins and turns.
Hi Emery, how do you respond to the rumors that Trevor Miller won't answer my questions because he's a loser?
Trevor Miller moves the bonsai tree to give Austin the most horrific scowl he can muster. Em turns around.
Man, why you gotta be like that?
What? This is so dumb! I'm not answering his questions! Why would I? He's not even a real journalist!
Hey now, that's unfair. He's just trying to hold down two jobs and be a regular fella and you're giving him a hard time for it. That's just not on. Times are hard.
I can't believe this. I can't believe I'm having to listen to this. Do you people know who I am? I'm the King, dammit! The KING!
Well I didn't vote for you.
Em moves the bonsai tree back in front of his face.
You don't vote for a king! And get this thing out of my face!
He moves it away. Em moves it back. He swipes it to the side.
Alright! What the heck is a king anyway? Get a real job.
She picks the tree up and puts it on the opposite side of the desk as she turns back and continues eating her tangerine.
Hi. Jeffrey Grey, reporter for LOLDirtsheets. This'll be the first time in a while that you'll be wrestling in XWA without your tag team partner, the XWA Television Champion, Adam Fenric. You've also got a match with Laurel Anne Hardy which has so far split the fans, but she is widely seen as one of the top stars in the industry. Do you not feel the pressure mounting to succeed so that people don't view you as the weak link of Layton & Fenric?
Yeah, are people actually saying that, er, Jeffrey, wasn't it?
She shoves a few segments of tangerine into her mouth as she waits patiently for his response.
Jeffrey Grey. I'm just saying...everyone saw XWA On A Boat and how you almost cost the match for your team, nearly losing the Tag Team titles. And Adam has shown himself to be the more level-headed of the team as well as having captured more titles in singles competition. You have to think people might believe you're out of your depth. I believe reputable industry reporter Cass Baumer reported that even your colleagues backstage have voiced their doubts.
They can believe what they want. People telling me I 'can't do it' ain't nothing new, and it probably ain't ever gonna stop cos of who I am and where I come from. Look, I had a moment of...it was a weird moment at XWA On A Boat. I held that Supreme XWA title in my hand, first time I ever held any world title of any kind in the palm of my hand, and I lost myself a bit. I'll throw my hands up and admit that. But that's why I gotta focus, cos until I actually become Supreme XWA Champion, that sort of thing is just gonna keep happening and I can't let it hold me back. Next time I hold that thing, it'll be cos it's mine, I tell ya that now for nothing.
She takes the remaining half of the tangerine, having picked at segments, and shoves the entire thing in her mouth.
Y'know what gets me? I dunno what you been asking the other guys but it seems to me like no one's asking the real questions here. One year, XWA has a guy in a mask show up appear outta nowhere and win Lord of the Ring, suddenly this year we got three and we only heard of one of them. We're not gonna talk about that Rey guy not wanting to 'tell anyone his identity'? How'd he get in? Then there's other stuff- how did Minka Carter get to compete in this thing when all she's done is act like a coward and beat people up after matches. Know what? I got a kicker here for you, and I bet this guy knows the answer...
She points to Ace Andrews as she continues.
Now this is just a thing I noticed, and I ain't ever been accused of being bright but maybe I'll change that here, cos isn't it funny how we run the biggest Lord of the Ring tournament ever at the same time as the Survivors running around as the 'biggest threat ever', but the group's only put forward one of the fuckers to be in this- their leader- and no one else? Or is that just me thinking that's a bit wild? What says you, boss man? Cos I'd love to know what you think.
She turns to Ace. He looks to the reporters, then back to Emery.
Maybe you'd like to take a seat now, Emery. We've got other guests on this panel.
She looks back at a chair immediately behind her, then at the reporters Ace just looked to and then back at Ace with a half-smile.
Nice dodge, fella.
Never one to do things in a conventional way, with she pushes the chair away from the desk and literally rolls backwards into a sitting position on the chair, finding herself sat next to Drake. However she has knocked a few nameplates and a microphone off the desk. She peaks over as it gives off feedback.
You just wrecked my setup here just to sit down on a chair.
But I did sit on a chair so...
Em crosses her legs and sits, grinning and quite proud of herself for wrecking the table.