The camera pans back to the ring, being cleared out as the official theme of Once Upon A Time In Mexico, "Mucha Lucha" by Los Chicas De Barrio echoes throughout the packed Mexico City Arena and gradually begins to fade out, leaving the capacity crowd anticipating what comes next. They're not left waiting for long, as the silence is shattered by the explosive riffs of "White Knuckle" by Alter Bridge!
The lights flash on and off for the first few seconds. The crowd, expecting Dante to appear from anywhere in the arena, are looking around frantically. The skylights are zipping in and out of the crowd, trying to spot Dante in the crowd. The lights are black, white, and blue, shining and flickering from here to there. But none have yet to catch sight of Dante Cross. Suddenly, the lights stop and they set upon the entrance stage. All eyes are on the stage as Dante slowly turns the corner holding his head down as he comes out of the tunnel. The crowd has a mixed reaction of boos and cheers but Dante pays neither any mind.
Matt Steel:: “It’s so awesome to see Dante Cross back here in XWA! This guy is nasty when he goes to work. Makes me nostalgic.”
Mark Sanction: “Nasty is a good word to describe Dante Cross. Some other good words are conniving, selfish, and duplicitous.”
Matt Steel:: “Duplicitous? Mark, there’s only one Dante Cross.”
Hana Ramierez: "The following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first, weighing in at 195lbs, 'The Crucifixionist'… Dante… CROSS!"
He is clad in his black buckle ring cloak, which is a black hooded cloak, under which he wears his black boots and shin guards with a red gothic style cross on either leg. His trunks are black with a red star on both sides, and stop just where they meet is shin guards. He begins to walk and does not even seem to notice the people trying to grab at him, to just touch this man, or simply punch his lights out. He slowly makes his way to the ring as he can be seen slowly moving his mouth in what can only be a silent prayer. He keeps his eyes on the ring as he ascends the steel steps. He gets into the ring, only after the referee opens the ropes so that he may go through. Standing in the corner of the ring, Dante spreads out his arms, and his cloak slips off of his body and slowly falls to the floor. His hair, reaching just below his neck, is wet and straight. A few strings have gotten in his eye; he slowly brushes it away with his index and middle finger.
Mark Sanction: “Say what you will about Dante Cross… he certainly looks ready to compete here tonight. There’s not so much as a flicker of doubt on his face, that he can win here tonight in his return match.”
Matt Steel:: “Never has been, never will be, Mark. But I’m sure there are some guys back there who might have doubts stepping into the ring with his opponent...”
"White Knuckle" fades out, once again leaving the arena in contrasting silence for a long moment. The silence is barely broken by a low, droning synth chord as the lights go down.
As "The Silent One" by The Engima hits the personal announcement system, the stage fills with fog. A long moment passes in wait, until finally, "LionHeart" Rob Chapman emerges from behind the curtain. His gaze is focused intently on the ring as he stands tall at the head of the ramp.
Hana Ramierez: "And his opponent... Making his way to the ring... from Halifax, Nova Scotia... Rob Chapman!"
Matt Steel:: “And here he comes.”
Mark Sanction: “The last time was saw Rob Chapman, he was embroiled in Whisper’s War. He just kind of disappeared in the midst of it… and by the looks of things, Chapman didn’t come out… unscarred. His presence tonight is unnerving, to say the least.”
Cracking his knuckles, "LionHeart" casts a quick glance around the arena at the fans, before breaking into a full sprint towards the ring! As he reaches the squared circle, he braces off of the ring apron with both hands and swings in underneath the bottom rope feet-first. Chapman slaps the canvas and pops up to his feet hastily. Hana Ramierez takes this moment to exit the ring, looking unnerved by Chapman's entrance.
Sauntering over to a nearby corner of the ring, Rob hops up to the second rope and simply stares out at the crowd with an emotionless expression on his scruff-covered face for a long, slightly uncomfortable moment. Just as suddenly, he hops down, turning to land on his feet facing Dante. Raising his fists in an aggressive stance, he beckons and hollers across the ring, daring Dante to come at him as "The Silent One" fades out and the lights return to normal.
Matt Steel:: “Both these guys look ready to tear each other’s throats out. I love it!”
Mark Sanction: “They certainly do, and- wait a minute!”
The referee approaches Dante, intent on checking both competitors for foreign objects that might be hidden on their person, only to be shoved aside as Dante blazes past him to get his hands on his brazen adversary! Chapman is happy to oblige him, meeting him about two thirds of the way from where Cross started in a flurry of fists and elbows; the former being thrown by Dante, and the latter being thrown by Rob. The crowd roars excitedly as these two XWA returnees tear into each other like a pair of rabid dogs right out of the gate!
Once Jack Tickles' head stops spinning, he briefly begins to approach the pair, before deciding just to call for the bell and let these two go at it, since there's evidently no stopping either of them from trying to tear the other apart. It proves to be a wise move on his part, as, following a front facelock by Chapman, which allows Dante to deliver several body blows, Cross is tossed rather unceremoniously through the air, crashing down hard in the very spot Jack was previously standing by way of a rather crude Hip Toss! "The Crucifixionist" spins out as he strikes the canvas, as if he had landed on an ice rink, but, somehow, shakes off the awkward landing (and eventual mat burn on his back) and pops back up to his feet, barreling at his heavyweight foe once again. Chapman shifts his stance so that his feet are firmly grounded, only to be caught off guard as Dante goes low, performing a nimble baseball slide between Chapman's legs and popping up quickly. . . only to find himself half a ring away from the Canadian as Rob lunges forward, tumbling to his feet as he performs a front roll to refrain from letting Dante have his back.
Mark Sanction: “Nice display of athleticism on the part of Chapman, not to take anything away from Dante Cross! Both these guys are lightning quick on their feet, and I think that Dante’s gonna have to wait it out if he wants to use his speed to his advantage.”
Matt Steel:: “Absolutely. Both these guys may be as fast as the other, but lugging around nearly two hundred and fifty pounds at that speed is gonna take it out of you faster than carrying under two-hundred.”
Mark Sanction: “And I think Dante’s regarding Chapman a little more cautiously now.”
Dante's expression changes subtly, as he lowers his head ever so slightly to the left, narrowing his brow and fixing Rob with a curious gaze. Clearly used to having a speed advantage over his larger opponents. Evidently, Cross would have to change his game plan and rely on a different set of tools in order to combat the larger Chapman. He begins a careful saunter toward his opponent, who mirrors his motion almost to a tee, and these two very cerebral competitors begin circling around the ring. You can practically see the gears turning in Dante's head as he begins formulating a new plan of attack on the fly. Rob sees it as well, and merely smiles a vindictive smile at his opponent as they pause from 'circling the drain'. Dante Cross may not know Rob Chapman too well, but Rob Chapman knows Dante Cross. They begin to move again and the circle gradually gets smaller and smaller, until, finally, the two lock up in a traditional collar-and-elbow tieup. Almost immediately, Chapman shifts to one side, wrapping an arm around Dante's head to secure a side headlock, but Cross slithers free of his grasp and performs a standing switch to a rear waistlock, trying and failing to lift Chapman off of his feet. A swift back elbow from the Canadian rings Dante's bell, breaking his grasp and allowing Rob to flip him overhead with a snapmare. Dante lands on his tailbone and is visibly jarred; the "Warrior" is quick to take advantage of that, dropping to a knee and wrapping an arm around Dante's chin, cranking his head backwards. The other arm swims asynchronously around Dante and grabs a hold of his right wrist, yanking it up above his head and pinning it behind him in a top wristlock. Finally, to make Dante as uncomfortable as possible, Rob rises up from a knee, bracing off of his toes, and swings the other knee directly into Dante's lower back! Cross' cry of pain is stifled by the grip Chapman has on his neck. Cross flounders in the hold for a moment, unsure of what to do or where to go as he finds himself unwillingly, but firmly rooted to the ground at this moment in time. Chapman uses the moment to drive another targeted knee into the small of his opponent's back.
Mark Sanction: “Unorthodox combination of holds being applied by Chapman! Neither one has quite as much power as it would with both hands behind it, but it’s certainly a tough predicament for Dante Cross!”
Matt Steel:: “Dante needs to pick one hold to break first, and then worry about the other one. If he tries to do both, he’s gonna struggle. But he already knows that, just watch!”
Dante may be quick to provocation, but foolish, he is not. Once he does his best to block out the pain in his arm and his neck, he begins formulating a plan to escape his current predicament. First, he needs to free his arm; Reaching up with his free hand, Dante makes sure he can reach the inside of his elbow, then swims his left hand through the gap between his forearm and bicep. Dante channels all of his focus and strength behind straightening his right arm- once it's pointed upwards, Dante swings his left hand up, slamming his knuckles into the partially-guarded soft flesh between Rob's wrist and hand! Rob abruptly yanks his hand away, shaking it out; the thick strap of his glove softening the blow only slightly. Frantically, Rob rises up again and tries to drive another pointed knee into Dante's spine, but the cunning "Crucifixionist" is able to slip free of the arm around his neck now, causing Rob's knee to miss entirely, throwing the Canadian off balance as he scurries aside. Popping back up to his feet, he dares the wounded "Warrior" to come at him, in a reversal of Rob's earlier gesture! Chapman grits his teeth and bears down on his opponent swiftly, only to find himself played the fool; Dante takes Rob down with a deep arm drag, burying his knee in Chapman's shoulder and raising his grip to yank back on his opponent's wrist! Rob growls loudly in pain, but, in spite of his annoyance, the look on Rob's face is one of plotting. He's not wasting time lamenting over his mistake, and he shows it as- after bringing his knees up to get them underneath him, he performs a somersault, momentarily wrenching his own arm, but making up for that by leaning back and kicking Dante in the side of the head! Cross slumps to the side for a moment before regaining his composure and rising back up on slightly wobbly legs. By the time he does, the heavyweight Chapman is already on his feet, hunched over and stalking the rising Dante with a mean look in his eyes. Cross realizes his opponent's laying in wait and throws his arm out blindly for a clothesline, only for Rob to duck the attack and pivot expertly behind him, wrapping his arms around Dante's waist and powering him up before slamming him back down face-first on the canvas! Dante hits the canvas and bounces as he's released, flopping onto his back, where he's quickly covered by Chapman with a lateral press, who puts all of his weight behind the pin. The crowd comes alive from enjoying the spectacle rather quietly as Senior Referee Jack Tickles drops to count the pin attempt, only for Cross to get his shoulder up as soon as Jack's hand slaps the canvas for that count of one. Rob wears a malevolent smirk as he rises to his knees, lifting Dante by his head. There was no intention of picking up a victory there; he just wanted to make Dante expend energy to kick out.
Mark Sanction: “Back side slam, and a quick cover by Chapman, but no dice!”
Matt Steel:: “Who the hell ever won a match with a back side slam?”
Mark Sanction: “I don’t think he had an early win in mind, partner.”
Continuing to grip Dante's head in both hands, Rob regains a vertical base with relative ease, only to be caught by surprise, as Dante swings his fist straight up and connects flush with the underside of Chapman's jaw! His bearded head rocks backwards, and as he stumbles, Dante grabs a hold of his skull and yanks it back down, wrapping an arm around Rob's head to secure a side headlock. Something between a groan and a growl emanates from Rob's smothered throat as he begins trying to back Dante toward the ropes, prompting the one-hundred and ninety-five pounder to wrench his opponent's neck in protest. It doesn't seem to have much effect, as the veteran, Chapman, presses on and uses the ropes to propel Dante toward the opposite ropes. Rob isn't the only one familiar with his surroundings; Dante shows some excellent ring awareness as he grabs the top rope to stop himself from rebounding towards his waiting foe. Rob's eyes narrow in a cold glare, only visible for a lingering second, before the "War Machine" sprints across the ring and raises his arm to try and knock Dante out of the ring. Long before Rob can make contact, Dante throws his leg out in a standing side-kick, continuing to hold onto the top ropes to keep himself standing as Chapman runs stomach-first into the blow, popping up off of the mat a good two or three inches! He gasps audibly as he lands on his feet, doubled over and clutching at his stomach, having had the breath knocked out of him. A sinister grin spreads from corner to corner across Dante's lips. "The Fallen One" bounces off of the ropes behind him and comes back at Chapman with punishment on his mind, only to be caught unaware as Rob lunges forward, returning the favour with a knee strike that pops Dante up, off of the mat, and drops him back on his feet at his adversary's mercy! Taking a deep breath, Rob hooks his arm under Dante's, lifting him up by the shoulder for what appears to be a hip toss, only to turn as Dante's lifted vertically, and wrap his arm around Dante's head, falling backwards with him in a beautiful suplex modification! The back of Dante's head, neck, and shoulders are driven into the canvas as he descends, then promptly rolls away to prevent his opponent from attempting to pin him again.
Matt Steel:: “Shit, what was that even?”
Mark Sanction: “Looked like a Hip Toss dropped into a Suplex! Maybe even a Brainbuster!”
Matt Steel:: “Whatever you wanna call it, that was some nice, innovative offence by Rob Chapman!”
Rob chuckles, just loud enough to be caught by the camera, and begins sauntering towards Dante- currently using the ropes to pick himself up with his back to Chapman- with an amused look on his face. Rob pauses to take a slower, deeper, breath, then reaches out to wrap his arms around Dante's midsection in a rear waistlock. Baited. Dante fires an elbow backwards at his opponent's head, for no reason other than to draw the referee's attention there, even as Chapman dodges the blow and then, stomps down hard with his right heel, bringing it down in the center of Rob's foot. Another elbow follows, this one connecting flush, followed by another nasty stomp. Finally, with a third elbow, Dante knocks his opponent aside, and Rob hobbles away in pain, nursing his jaw and making sure it hasn't been dislocated. Cross follows, running at Chapman like a man on fire; in one graceful motion, "The Fallen One" grabs a hold of Rob's right wrist, and spins his body, falling sharply as he comes out of the turn and driving his opponent's wrist into the ground with a beautiful, yet ugly (a descriptor that really sums up Dante Cross' ring work as a whole) spinning armbreaker! Rob rolls away from his opponent as he clutches at his wrist, holding it against the middle of his chest, only to fall victim once again as Dante races toward him and leaps, drawing his knees up, then thrusting both legs downward to deliver a double stomp to Rob's wrist and hands!
Mark Sanction: “Oh no!”
Matt Steel:: “Oh man! Say good bye to your sex life, Rob!”
Mark Sanction: “Matt, that was his hand, not… oh. But, Rob’s married...”
Dante rises to his knees and then lunges again, driving both of his hands down into Rob's wrist- both of Rob's hands are clenched together after being thoroughly bootfucked- with a hard double axe handle! The hammer strike prompts Rob to separate his hands, as his arms drop to his sides, and Dante hooks Rob's leg, turning to lay back first across the Canadian's chest in a pinning attempt. Jack Tickles, who's been keeping a keen eye (mostly) on the competitors, away from the action, makes his presence felt once again as he drops to count the pin. "One!" he hollers, but as he goes to bring his hand down a second time, Rob rolls to the side, almost completely ignoring the nearly-two-hundred pounds draped across his chest, to get his shoulder up and break the fall. This visibly irritates Cross, who, rather then maintain grace under pressure, promptly bounds to his feet and begins throwing something of a tantrum, feeding Chapman more than a daily intake of stomps. Stomps everywhere, for that matter; Dante slams his boot down across various body parts with reckless abandon, not realizing he's essentially dousing a baby fire with gasoline. Through the pain, that fire begins to rise without caution, doing its best to ignore Dante's assault. As Rob rises to all fours, "The Crucifixionist" takes the opportunity and propels himself into the adjacent ropes. Rob rises to his feet, and then ducks right back down just as quickly to avoid Cross flying at him with a running crossbody! Dante lands rolling on his side, but once again, in spite of an awkward landing, he's quick to find his feet and get back on the attack. As he sprints- albeit haggardly- toward Chapman, Dante finds himself being floored as the "Warrior" turns and leaps, throwing all of his momentum toward Dante with his legs, blasting the smaller man with a huge spinning wheel kick! In that moment, Dante certainly does Cease! And the crowd soaks it up, roaring appreciatively for the agile maneuver by the heavyweight!
Matt Steel:: “Spinning Wheel Kick! That’s two-hundred and forty-nine pounds of pure Canadian Bacon right across the face of Dante Cross!”
Mark Sanction: “That’ll knock the fight out of ya!”
Cross sits up after the devastating kick, staring dazedly across the ring with a blank look on his face. Chapman knows that look better than anybody; the look of somebody who’s had their bell rung. And for Rob Chapman: the look of opportunity. Scrambling to his feet, Rob darts across the ring and comes barreling back off of the ropes like a bullet out of a chamber. As he returns, his forward motion is continued downward, as he slides straight into Dante with his arm extended outward, delivering a smashing sliding lariat! Dante's eyes glaze over momentarily as he slumps against the canvas, rendered momentarily immobile. Rob hurriedly crawls over to his fallen foe and presses both hands into his chest for a pinning attempt!
Mark Sanction: “Cover by Chapman! One! Two!”
Matt Steel:: “No, kickout by Dante Cross! It’s gonna take a lot more than a Sliding Clothesline to put away The Crucifixionist!”
Mark Sanction: “Actually, Matt, that made contact with the head! That would have been a Sliding Lariat. Chapman simply calls that move Desist.”
Rob looks less than impressed with Dante's sudden recovery from unconsciousness, but just as quickly, the veteran "Warrior" shakes it off. Clutching Dante's head in both of his hands, again, he lifts his opponent up as he returns to a vertical base. Getting in Cross' face as he does so and saying something to him, likely to piss him off. This time, there's no uppercut from Dante. Only pure aggression from Chapman, delivered to Dante, as Rob scoops him up and throws him at the mat with a ferocious bodyslam. With lightning speed, Rob's on his feet and off again, rebounding off of the ropes and roaring back towards Dante; with only a step to go, Rob leaves his feet again, throwing himself upwards into a beautiful somersault, as he crashes straight down across Dante's chest with a flipping leg drop! The resulting impact with the ring echoes like a thunderclap throughout the arena, only to be drowned out seconds later by the Mexico City crowd coming alive! Cheers flood the arena as Rob swings his legs around behind him and lays overtop of Cross' chest to pin him. Cue Jack Tickles again, and cue a two count kickout AGAIN! Cross' arm hangs in the air, as if reaching for the god he so openly forsook, after narrowly escaping defeat at the hands of the man once aligned with Whisper's War. Not one to waste time, "LionHeart" grabs that reaching arm and uses it to yank Dante back up to a seated position, where he promptly wraps up Dante's neck in the vintage vice of a sleeper hold! Rob's other hand latches to his elbow to secure the hold this time, partly due to his past mistake, and partly due to his arm being weakened after Dante's repeated onslaught against it. Not that Dante's in a position to capitalize, as Rob's arm squeezes away at his trachea, inflicting more pain on "The Crucifixionist" while giving Chapman an opportunity to rest and formulate a new plan of attack... or so it would seem.
Mark Sanction: “And Chapman’s going back to that sleeper hold, securing it a little more tightly this time.”
Matt Steel:: “Come on, Dante! Stop playin’ around!”
At this point, some may start to assume that Dante is out of his depth. But if Dante Cross himself doesn't, then those opinions are utterly invalid. It's that callous self motivation, of all things, that lights a sudden fire under Dante. Closing both of his fists together in an axe handle, Dante begins to swing his fists upward, toward himself, and straight into the point of Chapman's elbow! The blows certainly take their toll on Cross, too- bone meeting bone isn't pleasant for anyone- but the repeated strikes to the poorly named 'funny bone' get the point across in a hurry, and Chapman's grip on Dante's neck weakens for a single, key moment. Time enough for Dante to get his feet under him and begin pushing himself (and by extension, his opponent) back to his feet, beginning to hammer his opponent's gut with sharp elbow strikes, one after another, after another, until finally, "LionHeart" relents, releasing Dante from his grasp, who immediately bounds away to collect himself. Dante doesn't hesitate for long; realizing he has a brief moment to capitalize on this opportunity, Dante literally grits and bares the pain, clenching his teeth as he steps in and swings his arm out for a clothesline, only for his veteran opponent to duck the attack, while simultaneously stepping behind "The Fallen One" and hooking that arm in a half nelson! Hoisting Dante up, Chapman whirls Dante around, presumably for a backbreaker, only for Dante to wrap his latched arm around the neck of Chapman, pulling the "Warrior" down face-first into the canvas with a clutch DDT! A sickening crack echoes forth from the mat, as a momentary cheer for the maneuver flares out from the crowd, only to be drowned out in a steady stream of boos as Cross rises back up to his feet and holds his arms out at his sides, laughing mockingly at his writhing opponent.
Matt Steel:: “Beautiful counter by Dante!”
Mark Sanction: “Yeah, shame he had to go back to being Dante Cross right afterwards.”
Matt Steel:: “Bitch, he’s literally always Dante Cross. Love it or leave it.”
Rob continues to clutch at his aching skull; swimming vision keeps him from rising up higher than a knee as he tries to slap some sense into himself. Apparently Dante seeks to help in that endeavor, as he slaps Chapman across the face and inadvertently fixes the problem! The crowd audibly "Oohs" as Rob's head is slapped to the side and stays there for a moment. The Canadian blinking several times in disbelief before turning his head back toward his opponent... and then swiftly ducking to avoid a spinning kick aimed right at his head! Rob's martial training kicks in for a split second as he ducks down and attempts to hook his leg around behind his opponent's with a spinning leg sweep, but Cross keeps his momentum going, hopping up over the leg and throwing a second kick to the air as well. Having missed with his kick, Rob hurriedly pops up only to take a third kick from Dante straight to the face! The "Return To Sin" kick crushes Rob's’ jawline, knocking him silly, and drops him right back to a knee! Dante rises back up, nodding his head as the crowd cheers the incredible kick, only for them to turn around and boo the smarmy grin that overtakes his face. He laughs and shakes his head at the fickle Mexican fans, before giving Chapman another hard slap from the left, then one from the right, followed by a knee butt to the chest! Rob staggers, reaching forward with his arms to keep from going over backwards! Glancing over his shoulder, Dante sees the close proximity of the ropes behind him and then immediately turns to take off; he doesn't see Rob rising up to pursue him until long after he's sprung from the middle rope, catapulting himself in a backflip through empty air! Gracefully, Dante lands on his feet... and has his dreams of connecting with the DDC knocked the fuck out of him as Rob comes thundering off of the ropes, slamming his bicep into the head of Cross and turning him inside out with a brutal rebound lariat! Dante's body flips through the short fall before he ultimately lands back-first- so hard, in fact, that his body bounces back up to a sitting position with his head slumped forward and his shoulders sagging lifelessly. Chapman's reaches out with a hand and grips the top of Dante's head, shoving him hard into the mat as he drops down and covers him with a lateral press. The official slides over from across the ring to count the pinfall attempt, watching Dante's shoulders closely! "One! Two!" The light suddenly comes back on, ever so dimly, and Dante throws all of his weight to one side at the last second... amounting to little more than a twitch kickout "Th- no! Two count!" Jack hollers, holding up two fingers for clarification. The crowd's reaction to this revelation is mixed.
Matt Steel:: “Another two count after another clothesline! I don’t think it matters how many times he goes to the well, he’s gonna have to hit him harder!”
Mark Sanction: “You’re out of your mind! I think if he hit Dante any harder he’d be wearing his skin inside out!”
Rob curses under his breath as the referee affirms the two count. His brow visibly furrows with agitation. At least he had control of the pace for the moment being, even if his opponent was particularly frustrating to put away. Rising to his feet, he lifts Cross off of the canvas, only to be caught off guard as “The Fallen One” snaps back, delivering a fittingly graceless toe kick that connects with the underside of Rob’s wrist again, causing him to stagger away, hissing in pain. Wear and tear is plainly visible on the battle weary antagonist’s face, as he approaches his foe on wobbly legs. His inability to make haste proves to be an opening for “LionHeart”, who executes a quick turn on his heel and swings his leg out, slamming the sole of his boot into Dante’s stomach with a crisp spinning back kick, doubling him over! Visibly seething, Chapman grasps Dante’s arm and wrenches it crudely. Dante growls, and Rob acts to mute the offending noise with a pair of sharpened knife-edge chops to his adversary’s chest! As Dante’s blood vessels burst beneath his furious hand, reddening his chest, the battle-worn “Warrior” takes a moment to stare deeply into Dante’s beady little eyes before throwing his opponent across the ring with an irish whip that sees him crash-back first into the turnbuckle! Chest heaving, Cross struggles to keep his head up as the Canadian combatant comes charging full-bore toward him, delivering a savagely stiff knee butt to the abdomen! Dante stumbles forward, both arms wrapped around his stomach as he visibly heaves, but manages to refrain from losing his lunch in the middle of the ring. As “The Crucifixionist” meanders in a daze, Rob hoists himself up onto the second rope, staring down his groggy opponent with burning anticipation. The moment Cross faces his aggressor, Chapman leaps forward through the air- a sudden rush of cheers breaks through the ambience of the crowd- but before he can wrap his arm around Dante’s neck to deliver his signature “Ebony Spiral”, Cross throws Chapman for a loop of his own, lunging with his knee raised high to pay him back for before! Rob helplessly slams into Dante’s knee, stomach-first, barely landing on his feet as he hunches over in pain!
Mark Sanction: “And a desperation counter by Dante Cross! Caught him with the knee!”
Matt Steel:: “Desperation nothing! Dante’s an opportunist, Mark! It’s all about waiting for the right moment.”
Oh, how quickly the tables turn! Regarding Chapman with a zealous sneer, Dante acts the only way he knows how: quickly and viciously, as he braces off of Chapman’s back, not quite leapfrogging the heavyweight, but instead wrapping his legs beneath his opponent’s shoulders. Raising his arms, Dante rears back, before throwing all of his weight forward, carefully tucking his head in to avoid the second turnbuckle- “LionHeart” isn’t so lucky- as he flips both himself and Rob forward with a beautiful sunset flip powerbomb! Chapman’s head snaps forward sickeningly after making contact with the middle turnbuckle, and he collapses into the mat as Dante rolls backwards onto his feet. Once more, Dante extends his arms outward, taking in roar of the capacity crowd! Far less of it turns the other way; both they, and Dante know that he earned that ovation, at the cost of Chapman’s surgically repaired neck. Cross simply shakes his head and chuckles to himself, entertained by the hypocrisy of the audience in attendance. As he looks down, Dante almost seems surprised to see Rob up as high as his knees, grasping at the middle ropes on either side of the turnbuckle. His mouth opens wide in a contemptuous smile, and a hearty laugh rises from his chest. There’s a wicked gleam in those dark eyes as Dante makes his way across the ring to the opposite turnbuckle. The arms come down as he measures the crouching competitor, grabbing the ropes behind him and getting into a runner’s stance. You can almost hear the starting gun as he takes off across the ring, closing the distance in seconds and bringing up his knee once again, slamming it into the back of Rob’s head and driving it forward into the turnbuckle again! Dante has to grab the top rope to keep from going over, while Chapman’s hands slip from the middle rope and he slumps lifelessly against the second turnbuckle.
Mark Sanction: “Good god what a knee!”
Matt Steel:: “It’s a good thing he’s got free healthcare back home. I think Rob might be leaving a couple of his teeth behind at the Mexico City Arena!”
Dante continues to smile sickeningly, laughing disgustingly as the crowd turns once again, booing Cross hatefully. Shaking his head in wholehearted amusement, “The Fallen One” prods his motionless opponent with the toe of his boot before peeling him off of the turnbuckle and laying him flat on his back. Dante continues to laugh as he lays overtop of Chapman for the cover. Jack Tickles- visibly disturbed- crouches down to count the pin. “One! Two! Th-” The official’s count is broken as Chapman kicks as hard as he can with both legs to get his shoulder off of the mat and break the pin attempt! Dante isn’t laughing now; rather, staring down at his opponent, initially, with wide-eyed horror, and then a voracious anger. His eyes narrow, his brows furrow, and his teeth clench. All of a sudden, Dante Cross is on his feet, reaching down and grabbing handfuls of Rob’s motley, chestnut hair to yank him up to his knees. Ignoring the admonishment of Jack Tickles as he goes on the offensive, firing kick, after, kick, after savage kick from either side at Rob Chapman, peppering his chest, arms, shoulders, abdomen, and thighs with vicious, hateful strikes! One after the other, after the other! Cross continues throwing kicks until his chest is visibly heaving, up and down, up and down… he pauses for a second to breathe, and turns his hips, stamping down with his right leg, preparing to throw it out as far, and as hard as he possibly can. And then, just as abruptly, Dante swings that leg forward in a spinning kick; somehow, Rob has the wherewithal to lower his head, narrowly avoiding the first attempt at a decapitating strike. Dante keeps spinning and goes to the well a second time as he looks, once again, to Return To Sin, only for Chapman to throw his arm up and block the kick with his right arm! Taking another hit like that to his wrist visibly sends a shockwave of pain through his body, but the block throws Dante off, who scrambles to maintain his balance, and allows Rob enough time to fire off a closed-fist blow to the knee with his left hand! It’s almost as if Dante’s entire body caves to that blow as he reaches down to clutch at his knee, taking his eyes off of his opponent and allowing “LionHeart” to do what he does best… get back up. As Dante looks up, it’s just in time to see the two-hundred forty-nine pound “Warrior” grab his shoulders and propel himself upwards, wrapping his legs around Dante’s neck! But as Rob attempts to throw his weight backwards to execute a frankensteiner, something goes wrong; Dante’s knee buckles under the sheer weight of his opponent and he collapses straight downward! Dante gets flattened beneath the weight of his opponent; particularly the shoulder on the side where his knee gave out, while Rob is driven back-first into the canvas, having effectively just powerbombed himself!
Matt Steel:: “Oh! I’m not sure… did Dante just powerbomb Rob, or did Rob just powerbomb himself?”
Mark Sanction: “That ended badly for everyone, either way! Both men are down!”
Agonized grimaces adorn both competitors’ faces; neither man came out ahead after that maneuver, as Rob clutches the back of his neck in both hands, curled in a U-shape, while Dante rolls onto his side, clutching grievously at his left shoulder. Panicking, Jack Tickles drops to a knee and examines both competitors. Worried murmurs circulate throughout the crowd like wildfire, and the longer the referee remains down with both men, the worse it gets. Finally, the referee rises to his feet and backs away from the competitors. Thankfully, the crowd doesn’t see the dreaded “X”, and it looks like both combatants still want to go at it! Dante, in particular, seems the most eager to capitalize, as, trembling, he pushes himself back to his feet and staggers over to his prone foe. Leaning over, “The Crucifixionist” grabs the head of his heavyweight foe and prepares to lift Rob to his feet, only to spring the Canadian’s trap! Rob moves quickly, securing Dante’s left wrist and swinging his legs back to wrap them around Dante’s bicep, effectively scissoring his arm! The crowd comes alive again, cheering excitedly as Dante walks right into a perfectly placed armbar!
Mark Sanction: “It’s a trap!”
Matt Steel:: “Hey! That’s Dante’s thing!”
Mark Sanction: “Armbar by Chapman! Dante’s in trouble!”
Dante screams horrendously as an ungodly amount of pressure is applied to his arm, and Chapman pulls it straight, trying to snap it at the elbow! Fighting it off as best he can, Dante begins to crouch down, giving Rob less leverage on his arm, then struggles to curl his arm. Chapman, too, screams, amping himself up and beginning to repeatedly slam his heel into Dante’s shoulder, making the scissor hold less effective, but succeeding in bringing Dante down to a single knee. Dante grits his teeth and growls loudly as Rob straightens his arm out again, reaching in with his other hand to physically grip his own wrist and try to pull his arm back! Rob leans back even further; too far, in fact, as both of his shoulders touch the mat, and our senior referee observantly counts one, prompting Rob to roll to one side ever so slightly. Realizing it may be his only way out, Cross releases his own arm and reaches down to forcibly press Rob’s shoulder into the canvas, before throwing his bodyweight on top of Chapman and pinning both of his opponent’s shoulders! Jack begins to count again! “One! Two!” Chapman hastily releases Dante’s arm and rolls over, begrudgingly breaking the hold to save himself!
Mark Sanction: “Great counter by Dante, he almost snatched victory from the jaws of defeat right there!”
Matt Steel:: “You’re damn right it was a great counter! Defeat isn’t even in the same timezone as Dante Cross.”
Even with his arm hanging at his side, Dante Cross is unmistakably pissed off, and fed up with his opponent’s stubbornness. Glaring at Chapman with evil eyes, Dante takes the opportunity to dash toward his opponent- currently on all fours- and punt Rob in the arm as hard as he possibly can, prompting Rob to scream again, collapsing onto his side as he clutches at his elbow! Dante’s lips form a sadistic grin, replacing the agonizing grimace with something much worse. There’s no pause this time; Chapman learns Dante’s intentions immediately, the hard way, as he kicks Rob’s other arm away, then stomps down hard on his wrist! The “Straight Edge Outlaw” recoils in pain, trying desperately to roll away from Dante, only for “The Crucifixionist” to grab him by his wounded wrist again and yank him across the ring face down. Dropping down low, Dante begins to yank back on Rob’s arm with a reverse armbar, also known as a Fujiwara armbar, prompting the official to ask the question nobody wants to answer: “Do you give up?” While there’s no reluctance on his part, you can hear the regret in his voice as Chapman growls in response: “No!” Dante merely smiles at his opponent’s predictable response, taking satisfaction from the added gravel in Rob’s voice. The pain behind that simple one-word response. Raising his grip on Rob’s arm up to his wrist, he clutches firmly at the arm with one hand as he leans back further, and uses the other hand to begin unfastening Rob’s glove, removing its protective padding! Rob struggles, albeit vainly, to stop Dante from removing the item. Before long, Cross is tossing the discarded MMA glove to the side, and pulling back on his opponent’s wrist with both hands!
Matt Steel:: “Yes! That’s strategy!”
Mark Sanction: “That’s cruel and unusual! Dante’s trying to break his damn wrist!”
Matt Steel:: “You’re goddamn right he is, and I love it! Turnabout is fair play, Mark!”
With his free hand hovering reluctantly over the mat, it looks like Chapman is ready, either to tap out or pass out, when the unthinkable happens… and Dante releases the hold on his opponent. Foolhardy? Absolutely, but… he’s in the driver’s seat now. Hubris be damned. Cross makes his intentions absolutely crystal clear as he slams down on the back of Chapman’s wrist with his palm, driving it into the mat, and eliciting another satisfying scream of pain from the Canadian combatant. Visibly distressed, Jack pleads with Dante to end the match, having been able to do so a moment ago. Staring deep into the official’s eyes, Dante stands up off of the canvas and points to the squirming Chapman. “He’s got this coming, Jack! I’ll end the match... when I want the fucking match to end! Deal with it.” With a coy smile, Dante whips around to face his supine opponent and delivers a hard stomp to the back of the wrist, pinning it beneath his boot sole. His expression contorting in a display of pure loathing as he grinds his heel into Rob’s wrist. Then, without mercy, Dante steps around to be at Rob’s head, making sure to brace his full weight off of his opponent’s arm before he finally steps off of it. As he reaches down, he firmly grips both of Chapman’s shoulders before hoisting him up and grabbing Rob’s right wrist once more. Disdainfully, he wrenches Rob’s arm and proceeds to drag him back toward the corner of the ring that he’d eaten a short time ago. Reaching down, he takes Rob’s hand and proceeds to bend it backwards before climbing up the corner and situating himself on the top rope! Gracefully, he begins to walk along the top rope, having walked this Walk of Fate many times… but before he can leap from the ropes to execute the final, crucial part of the maneuver- the hurricanrana- Chapman yanks him down by the arm, extending his free arm and driving it across the chest of Dante with a wicked clothesline out of mid-air! The crowd roars as both men go down in an exhausted heap.
Matt Steel:: “Oh man! What a wicked shot by Chapman!”
Mark Sanction: “Right out of the air!”
Matt Steel:: “Credit where credit is due, Rob pulled that out in some of the worst pain of his life. Dante’s absolutely destroyed that right arm.”
Still clutching at his wrist, Rob begins to stand up after a brief respite. He knows it’s the only break going to get, as he turns his attention back to his opponent and sees Dante climbing up onto the second rope. Vengefully, the “War Machine” lurches forward and kicks Cross square in the ass, knocking him through the ropes ever so slightly, draping him chest-first across the middle rope! Rob’s movements contain a sense of urgency from here on out; he approaches Dante hurriedly and grips the top rope above him before proceeding to vault overtop of him and drop straight down with a throat-crushing guillotine leg drop! While Rob lands sitting on the apron, Cross’ body is launched backwards by the recoil of the rope as he gasps for air like a fish out of water! Rolling away into, unwittingly… the worst place he could possibly position himself, as Chapman rises up and treks across the apron, climbing up to the top rope! The crowd gasps and cheers with anticipation!
Matt Steel:: “Get out of there Dante!”
Mark Sanction:“High risk maneuver incoming!”
With his back to the ring, Rob checks over his shoulder once, and only once. Good to go. Raising his arms up over his head, Rob squats down, before pushing himself up and launching himself across the ring- getting amazing elevation- as he back flips through the air and crashes down atop his opponent’s chest with a brilliant Moonsault! In perfect position, Rob lays atop Dante in hopes of picking up the victory and ending this madness. As Jack Tickles slides across the ring to count the pin, the crowd joins in, counting along with him! “One! Two!” they holler; hopeful as the referee raises his arm to slap it down for that third count; the crowd chants the number “three” alone as Jack’s hand stops just shy of the mat! Dante gets the shoulder up! Rob sits up, eyes wide with astonishment as he clutches his head in pure disbelief. It takes Jack telling him a second time that he only counted to two for Rob to snap back to reality. The Canadian combatant merely nods, scouring his battered brain for an inkling of a strategy at this point.
Matt Steel:: “Holy hell that was close!”
Mark Sanction: “Rob looks flabbergasted! He doesn’t know what else to do!”
Shifting his gaze, he sees Dante beginning to stir, which, in itself, stirs something in Chapman. The fire is lit… his gaze narrows as he realizes he has to keep bringing the fight to Dante. That he can’t let Cross manipulate him into another mis-step. He rises up to his feet and crouches down, stalking his rising adversary and hurling vicious words at him from across the ring. Slurs and challenges. Begging him to bring it. As he finds his feet, the ill-tempered “Fallen One” does just that, and charges headlong at his opponent; straight into the point of Rob’s left elbow, in fact! As he drops from the back elbow, he scampers back to his feet and charges blindly still, this time, straight into Rob’s right arm, which slams across his chest with a clothesline! Rob hisses, clutching his elbow as Cross goes down, only to pop right back up like an annoying advert. This time, Dante darts in a little quicker than before, and throws a clothesline of his own at “LionHeart”, but Rob has the move scouted and ducks beneath it, throwing his leg behind him and catching the revolving Dante with a thrust kick to the jaw! Cross is knocked down like a paper target as he falls flat on his back and begins to roll away in desperation. Still favouring his arm, Chapman clenches his teeth and begins taking deep breaths in and out. His chest visibly heaves from the effort, and Rob straightens up, psyching himself up for what’s coming next as Dante crawls to all fours.
Mark Sanction: “Ohhhhhhhhh no! Dante’s in a bad place right now!”
Matt Steel:: “What?! Why?”
Mark Sanction: “I take it you’ve never seen Chapman wrestle before, Matt? I guarantee you Dante doesn’t wanna be on the other end of this!”
Staring down his opponent, the “Straight Edge Outlaw” lines up his shot as Dante pauses on all fours, panting heavily. He begins to hop up and down, trying to speed up the blood flow in his legs, before taking off into the far ropes. As he bounds back, he visualizes the reticle over Dante’s skull and pulls the trigger, throwing his boot out and unloading into his opponent’s head with a sickening yakuza kick! Dante’s body is spun around by the force of the blow, and he collapses, spread-eagle, as Rob stops to cup his hands over his mouth and scream those satisfying words: “BOOM! HEADSHOT!” Some of the crowd join in for the last line, and the interaction brings a genuine smile to the face of the Canadian. It’s nice to be known, even on another part of the globe. Seconds feel suspended as Rob absorbs the crowd’s reaction wholeheartedly. Reality comes crawling back, as, after a long moment, Rob diverts his focus back to the task at hand, having forgotten himself for a moment. Rob sprawls and hooks Dante’s leg for a proper lateral press, as Jack Tickles drops to count the pin fall. Rob nods along with each count as the crowd joins in with him again. “One! Two!” But again, the three count never comes! Somehow, Cross musters enough spite… enough anger, that he’s able to force himself to kick out again! And again, Chapman is left, gasping for breath, sitting in complete and total frustration.
Matt Steel:: “Good god that was ugly, but it still wasn’t enough!”
Mark Sanction: “Chapman waited too long to cover him! And Dante doesn’t have an ounce of quit in him, like it or not.”
This time, Rob doesn’t hesitate to go back on the attack. Focused as ever, the “Warrior” rises. Back to his feet, and into a martial stance. Hands open, pointed toward his opponent, Rob watches intently as Dante rises up to a knee, barely able to hold his head up. Rob shifts his stance, and rears back. Time seems to pass in slow motion for a few seconds as Rob throws his foot out; as his leg sails through the air with a perfect buzzsaw kick, he feels his stomach lurch. There’s a sense of dread accompanied by Déjà vu... as, somehow, Dante has the wherewithal to lower his head, narrowly avoiding the attempt at a decapitating strike. As Rob brings his leg down, frantically trying to find his equilibrium, Dante rises to his feet, and, in a single bound, propel himself upwards, wrapping his legs around Rob’s neck! “The Crucifixionist” throws his weight backwards, using all of the strength in his legs to flip Chapman overhead, driving him into the mat with a Hurricanrana! Sitting atop his opponent’s chest, Dante follows this picture-perfect reversal of fate by grabbing and hooking Rob’s legs, pinning him to the mat! Jack Tickles slides over to count the pin! “One! Two! Thr-” No! Rob practically explodes out of the pin attempt, throwing Dante off of him, just shy of the three count! Dante rolls as he hits the canvas- for once, gracefully- and finds his feet in a hurry. He advances on the ascending Chapman with furious haste, and knocks him down from all fours by kicking his foe ferociously in the right wrist again! Chapman crumbles from the targeted blow, but Dante wants him standing this time, and rips him from the ground with a hand on either side of his skull! Once again, Cross plants his hands off of his opponent’s back and hooks his legs under Rob’s shoulders, looking to take him over with another sunset flip, but this time, as he throws his weight forward, he’s stopped dead in his tracks swiftly, and jarringly! Dante flails as his opponent stands up, firmly gripping both of Dante’s legs beneath his arms, in a belly-to-back clutch! Before Dante can find a way down, he’s backed into the corner of the ring by his opponent and dropped into the Tree of Woe!
Mark Sanction: “Uh-oh! Dante’s trapped!”
Matt Steel:: “Shit! Dante, get yourself out of there! Sit up, something!”
Rob huffs and heaves as he stumbles away, leaving Cross dangling dangerously from the top rope. As he continues to catch his breath, he turns to look over his shoulder and sees Dante beginning to sit up out of the Tree of Woe, and promptly rushes back in, swinging his boot high and cracking his shin across the small of Dante’s back! Dante cries out in pain, as the strike to the lower back sends pain rippling outward from its source… but that’s nothing compared to the pain proceeding it, as Rob pulls Dante back into a seated position and proceeds to underhook both of Dante’s arms in a double chickenwing. With a mighty roar, Rob throws his and Dante’s weight backwards, launching him out of the corner and across the ring with a crippling Tiger Suplex ‘03! Dante crashes down neck-first and hits the mat so hard that he rolls… right back onto his knees, where he simply stares at his opponent with a blank look, arms hanging at his sides. Rob is right on him, grabbing a hold of Dante’s head before he can teeter over, and hoisting him up to his feet. From somewhere in the crowd, Rob hears a Spanglish scream of “Finish Him!” He obliges. Hooking Cross’s arm around his head, and his own arm between his opponent’s legs, Chapman looks like he’s setting up for something… almost like a cross between a northern lights, or a gutwrench suplex. It turns out to be neither of these things, as he grabs Dante’s arm and feeds it through his legs, hooking it with his outside arm and lifting Dante up in a pumphandle clutch… straight up, over his shoulders... finally, dropping down to and driving the back of Dante’s head straight into his knee! Dante’s entire body compresses into his neck before he falls from his opponent’s grasp, slumping as he collapses and rolls lifelessly onto the canvas!
Mark Sanction: “Oh, shit!”
Mark Sanction: “Good GOD! Pumphandle Neckbreaker, and he got all of it! All of that weight driven down into his neck and shoulder! Good night, Dante!”
With Dante thoroughly decimated, Rob drops down, draping himself across Dante’s chest and hooking his leg to secure the lateral press. Jack Tickles slides into position to make the count: “One! Two! Three!” The bell rings as “The Silent One” by The Enigma hits the personal announcement system! Rob Chapman rises to his feet to have his hand raised by the referee as the lights go down, and Hana Ramierez calls the winner.
Hana Ramierez: “Ladies and gentlemen! The winner of the match, Rob Chapman!”
Matt Steel:: “I can’t believe it! Somebody get a doctor in there, what Rob just did to Dante Cross is not okay!”
Mark Sanction: “You’re right, it wasn’t okay. It was amazing! What a return match for both of these guys!”
With Rob’s arm raised, and his fist clenched tightly in victory, he steps aside to let the official deal with what’s left of his likely unconscious opponent. His right arm hangs wounded, but his left is held high. And as he exits the ring to back up the ramp, to him… it’s all that matters. The “Warrior” looks ready to leave his mark on XWA.