The fans murmur to each other about what the next match's stipulation might be. The only clue is a tray of drinks lined up next to the ring bearing shot glasses filled with liquids - clear and cloudy, brown and golden, red and green, but no two exactly alike. Hana takes the ring, and she reveals all...
Hana Ramierez: Ladies and gentlemen, the following is a HOOK/SHOT match! In this match, the competitors must remain in physical contact with each other at all times. Any time a competitor breaks contact with her opponent, she must take a shot, and the opponent gets a free attack!
Matt Steel: So chain wrestling plus alcohol? This could get weird...
A huge cheer goes up from the stands as psychedelic multicoloured lights start strobing, almost drowning out the opening oscillations of USS's "Yin Yang".
Hana Ramierez: Introducing first...
Things gradually begin to settle... then the clamour resumes, doubled, as all at once lights flash on the stage, the single siren sounds, and Laurel Anne Hardy leaps into view! She spins and bounces around wildly, drawing in and directing the energy, the Five Star Match Machine and the audience hyping each other up into symbiotic fervour. As the verse begins she skips down the aisle slapping outstretched hands.
All I all I all I really really really wanna say
Is what the fuck today
All I all I all I really really really wanna do
Is grind up next to you
Hardy climbs up the outside of the corner...
All I all I all I really really really wanna do
Is zag along with you
...as the beat falls away and the pre-chorus chords stab in, she drops into a deep stage bow then sags like a puppet with its strings cut...
...in time with the chorus she flings herself upright!
I got infinite ammunition
Comin' out the yin yang!
Arms spread wide, white teeth breaking through the warpaint on her face as she lets out a bloodcurdling battlecry, a halo of camera light flaring all around her.
I got limitless stealth positions
Extract the champion
Her long black hair swings around as she headbangs furiously for a couple of seconds; then she drops to a straddle and smacks the top of the ringpost with both palms, before backflipping into the ring.
Extract the champion!
Laurel drops to a crosslegged position in her corner, rolling her clasped wrists as she awaits the bell, grinning predatorily.
Hana Ramierez: From Rhyl, Wales, weighing one hundred and forty-nine pounds... "Your Favourite Wrestler's Favourite Wrestler"... LAUREL! ANNE! HAAARRDYYY!
Mark Sanction: Last time we saw Laurel Anne Hardy, she was battered, bruised and drenched in blood but victorious over The Architect of All War, Whisper, after a true war which ended with her... well...
Matt Steel: With her snapping his leg like a stick.
Mark Sanction: Even before that point, that was one of the bloodiest, most gruesome matches in XWA's history. But tonight Laurel's facing one of her friends, so we shouldn't see anything like that... I hope.
Matt Steel: Speak for yourself.
Mark Sanction: Well, we certainly have to ask what Laurel's mental state is going into this match. On social media she's been eerily zen about the whole thing, claiming that she has no feelings at all about what happened with Whisper - that, in her own words, 'it is what it is'. I guess only time will tell if that's really the case.
Laurel teases getting started on the drinks already, then laughs and shakes her head. After a moment, the opening drum break of Gothic Knights' cover of Duran Duran's "Hungy Like The Wolf" blasts onto the speakers. Crimson light spills across the entrance, and into it runs OOKAMI no Chi with a big smile on her face! She pumps one fist a couple of times then throws it to the sky.
Darken the city, night is a wire
Steam in the subway, earth is afire
The niece of TPW legend Jun Ikeda begins jogging towards the ring, slapping outstretched hands all the way.
Woman you want me, give me a sign
And catch my breathing even closer behind
She picks up speed as she goes until she's sprinting, and she dives under the bottom rope then spins up to her feet and heads straight for the closest corner. Once at the top she raises up a fist while bouncing her head in time to the music, red-streaked hair shaking around her like a halo.
In touch with the ground
I'm on the hunt, I'm after you
I smell like I sound, I'm lost in a crowd
And I'm hungry like the wolf
Straddle the line of discord and rhyme
I'm on the hunt, I'm after you
Mouth is alive with juices like wine
And I'm hungry like the wolf
Hana Ramierez: And her opponent, making her XWA debut... from Ashiya, Japan, weighing one hundred and sixty pounds... "The Winter Wolf"... OOOKAMIIIII... NOOO... CHIII!
OOKAMI throws her other hand up for a moment, then turns and jumps down to the mat. Laurel pushes herself from her own corner, and the two women meet in the centre of the ring and shake hands.
Matt Steel: Hell of a way for OOKAMI to make her debut - taking on the first ever Supreme XWA Champion.
Mark Sanction: Normally it'd be unheard of. But they're old friends, and as I understand it, this match was actually their idea.
Matt Steel: Think I can come up with an excuse to drink on the job too?
Mark Sanction: You mean you need one?
Matt Steel: Are you questioning my professionalism?
The bell rings... with Hardy and OOKAMI still having their hands clasped. Their eyes meet as they realise that, from this handshake, one of them is going to have to find control of the match, and they cast pre-battle smirks in each other's direction.
Mark Sanction: So from here, the first woman to break contact has to take a shot and then the other gets - in the other sense of the word - a free shot.
Matt Steel: Every time contact is broken, right? And it's still first to pinfall or submission like a regular match.
Mark Sanction: Correct. Not sure how we stand on disqualifications or countouts, but given that Laurel and OOKAMI created and requested this match themselves, I doubt it'll come up.
Matt Steel: Eh, never underestimate Laurel's instinct to grab a weapon.
After some light tugging on both sides of the handshake, the larger and heavier OOKAMI grabs Hardy's wrist with her free hand and starts trying to drag her in close; Laurel hunkers down, sandbagging to block it. OOKAMI gives a mighty heave that takes Laurel off her feet, and Hardy quickly drops to one knee attempting to both steady herself and flip OOKAMI over onto the mat. But while she manages the former, OOKAMI is in too good a position for the latter, able to put leverage behind her weight advantage, and after stymieing Hardy she lifts her back to her feet.
Mark Sanction: OOKAMI no Chi with almost half a foot and a stone in weight on Laurel Anne Hardy, and she's putting it to use here. But Laurel's dexterity is famous.
OOKAMI drops to a low sitting position, rolling back onto her buttocks and slotting both heels into Laurel's midsection. But Hardy sandbags against the monkey flip and, still keeping OOKAMI's hand clasped, leaps down across her! But OOKAMI no Chi manages to catch her across her knees and throws Laurel back to her feet! As she lands Hardy is able to use the momentum to pull OOKAMI back up too. The crimson-clad joshi is already swinging an elbow but Hardy manages to duck under it, twist under OOKAMI's arm and pull her up into a hammerlock. OOKAMI answers with a snapmare into a hammerlock of her own. Laurel tries to spin out underarm; OOKAMI catches her as she goes and traps her in a side headlock. Hardy on instinct tries to shoot OOKAMI against the ropes but suddenly pulls up as she remembers she can't!
Mark Sanction: Can't let go! Can't fire the opponent away like that! Hardy has to grapple her way out of this one.
Instead she slips a foot around OOKAMI's ankle, and the two women dance around in circles for a moment, jostling for control, one still trapping the other's head while the latter has the former's leg wrapped up. Finally Laurel manages to wear away enough of OOKAMI's balance to tug her over and both women collapse in a heap. Hardy makes sure to latch onto OOKAMI's wrist before disengaging the ankle and is quick to catch The Winter Wolf in an armtrap stepover prawn hold.
Matt Steel: First pin attempt!
OOKAMI powers out before the referee's hand has even hit the mat once, throwing her friend clear off herself - then realises what she's done!
Mark Sanction: Hardy tricked her! Laurel knew exactly what she was doing there, luring OOKAMI into a position where she'd throw her right off!
Matt Steel: And that counts as OOKAMI, not Laurel, breaking contact?
Mark Sanction: I would assume so. Even though Laurel engineered the situation, OOKAMI was still the one who actually split them apart.
Mark's supposition is confirmed when the referee points at the tray of drinks and nods in OOKAMI's direction. She sighs and places her hands on her hips while Hardy winks and pokes her tongue out at her friend.
Matt Steel: So now OOKAMI has to drink.
Mark Sanction: And it's just one right now, but she wants to avoid any more. Those will add up fast, especially as they start to get dehydrated as they wrestle.
Crossing to the tray, OOKAMI pores over it for a moment before selecting - what else? - something bright red.
Matt Steel: Fuck is that?
Mark Sanction: I'm not sure... sambuca, maybe? Whatever it is, down the hatch.
As if hearing Mark speak, OOKAMI knocks it back, then sets the glass back down.
Mark Sanction: And now she has to stand still and let Hardy have a free attack!
After circling around her opponent for a moment as she decides what to do with her free shot, Laurel makes up her mind and goes for a leg trip - but as OOKAMI braces against it, Hardy actually rolls to the side and drags the wolf into a headlock takeover! She brings her up in a seated chinlock, knee pushing hard into the back of OOKAMI's neck. OOKAMI grunts and grimaces, then slides her right foot back before pushing up explosively, lifting Laurel right off the mat! Laurel hops down to her feet, still with a side headlock, but OOKAMI's able to get her hands around her torso and swing her into the air, only to then plant her back on the canvas with a cradled sidewalk slam! She hooks both legs as she rolls on top of Hardy, shoulderblades pushing down perpendicular on the former Supreme Champion's chest.
Kickout - but Laurel is careful not to risk pushing OOKAMI right off her. OOKAMI slides up her into a pseudo-mount, with enough room to begin driving knees up into Hardy's diaphragm.
Mark Sanction: What do you make of OOKAMI then, Matt?
Matt Steel: Nice ass and legs but her tits are too small.
Mark Sanction: I meant as a wrestler.
Matt Steel: Who's to say I didn't?
Mark Sanction: Well, ignoring my broadcast partner, OOKAMI no Chi is the niece of Tokyo Pure Wrestling ace Jun Ikeda, the trainee of record six-time Tokyo Pure Joshi World Champion Cannonball Kayama, and the protege of the one and only Great Sato, so her pedigree isn't in question. She's yet to really develop a style though; she's come to be known as a jack of all trades, master of none.
Matt Steel: I guess we're seeing that here. She's been trying a lot more different stuff than Laurel, which surprises me, thinking about it. Laurel's really been staying in that mat style. From OOKAMI we've seen raw power, we saw a bit of lucha style with that monkey flip, and now we're seeing more MMA-style strikes.
Mark Sanction: See how easy it is to commentate properly when you put your mind to it?
Matt Steel: Well, every so often I gotta remind you that just because I don't doesn't mean I can't.
Laurel tries to hook OOKAMI's knee to block the strikes - not terribly successfully, but she does manage to twist enough to roll them both over. OOKAMI's left on her back with Laurel standing over her, pushing her legs back; before Laurel can transition somewhere else, OOKAMI tightens her calves into a triangle, looking for a choke. Knowing she's in imminent danger Laurel reaches down and clamps around The Winter Wolf's body, then with a mighty roar, drags her up off the canvas and throws her down with a powerbomb! She pushes forward again for the pin.
OOKAMI reverses, rolling upwards to lever Laurel down. Hardy twists onto her side to prevent a cover, and OOKAMI slithers over her and goes for an armlock.
Mark Sanction: When you and your opponent have to remain in physical contact, there must be a level of reading each other's actions beyond most wrestling matches. If your opponent twists their hand this or that way, can you work out what they're going for?
Matt Steel: For Hardy maybe. OOKAMI looks more like she's reacting.
Laurel turns through on her side again, trying to pull her hand free while keeping her other pressed onto OOKAMI's shoulder. OOKAMI goes for a headscissors; Hardy struggles against it and pushes herself up into a handstand to lift free of it, still balancing on OOKAMI's body, then lets herself fall into an elbow drop across the back of the neck. OOKAMI yelps but still wraps Laurel in a headlock again, cranks back the right arm, then places her heel down on the left hand. She pushes down hard, gritting her teeth, as Laurel struggles.
Matt Steel: Damn, she tryna break her arm!
Mark Sanction: I don't think so...
OOKAMI manages to twist and contort until she's standing upright, with Hardy's hand still pressed firmly under her foot - not tight enough to crush the bones or arteries, but tight enough to keep it trapped. With her right arm, Laurel tries to unbalance OOKAMI, but OOKAMI is able to swipe at her to keep her from posing a real threat. Hardy swings to the side to lock her legs around OOKAMI's own, but OOKAMI kicks them away and steps around in a semicircle that both brings her out of Laurel's immediate reach and grinds the hand against the mat.
Mark Sanction: Laurel has to make a choice here! Risk a broken hand, or...
She makes the other choice, and accepts the only escape OOKAMI is offering her - she straight yanks her hand out from under The Moon Cub's sole. On her knees, she looks up at her standing opponent and shakes her head, not to mention shakes her aching hand, but she cops to her fate and shuffles over to the tray of shot glasses.
Mark Sanction: And there's the trickery earlier repaid!
Matt Steel: And now it's Laurel's turn to drink. Which ain't really fair, considering how high her alcohol tolerance must be.
Mark Sanction: Don't be so sure. I've heard that OOKAMI is quite a hard partier too. These two go out drinking together, and you know, I wouldn't be surprised if they came up with this match over a brew.
As Laurel lifts something slightly cloudy up she turns to look at OOKAMI, and she fixes her eyes with a stare as the throws it down the hatch. Then at last she stands, walks to the centre of the ring, and spreads her arms as if to say, "come on then". OOKAMI takes her time, stalking around Hardy and clearly enjoying it. At last she stops behind her, clenches her arms around her waist, and rips her into the air with a German suplex! True to the peculiar match rules, Hardy makes no attempt to defend herself, and her head bounces off the canvas painfully. OOKAMI bridges out.
Laurel ripples her body to break the bridge. OOKAMI turns onto her stomach, bringing Laurel with her, for another German with another bridge! This time Laurel does tuck her head and brace, but the impact is still hard.
A shoulder lifted up from Hardy stops it. OOKAMI wheels her legs and plucks her up for a third suplex, and yet another bridge!
Another kickout from Laurel. OOKAMI can apparently do this all day, as she rolls over and drags her back up once again!
Matt Steel: Damn, I ain't seen this many German suplexes since-
Mark Sanction: Mind that fourth wall, or I'll call Annie Dupree down on your ass.
OOKAMI raises Hardy up high for another German - but Laurel thrashes her legs and comes back down. She goes for a standing switch but OOKAMI is already rolling with it back into the rear waistlock. Laurel with elbows; OOKAMI variously ducks them or sucks them up, and hauls Hardy up in the air again. Laurel attempts a stunner but OOKAMI is able to kill her momentum in mid-air! So Hardy throws herself back overhead shiranui style, but she doesn't have the momentum to snap OOKAMI off her feet as she lands. She does, however, have the positioning to pretzel OOKAMI's arms up and throw her back in a half-and-half suplex!
Matt Steel: Damn! Just spiking her!
OOKAMI bounces as she lands, and Laurel scrabbles desperately to stay in contact with her. She backrolls over OOKAMI, floating around to come down on top of the prone Japanese wrestler, and begins to contort her into an STF!
Mark Sanction: And OOKAMI knows she has to prevent or break this hold without pushing Hardy off entirely...
Matt Steel: OOKAMI is definitely stronger than Laurel. If I were Laurel I'd watch my opponent's opportunities for leverage...
Mark Sanction: That's not really how Laurel rolls, though. It's that ego; she never seems to think anyone poses a real threat to her.
OOKAMI is doing all she can to block the submission from being locked in properly. Laurel clubs her in the spine then goes for it again, but OOKAMI still fights. She raises herself to one knee, trying to lift Laurel into the air again, but Laurel switches under OOKAMI and catches her off guard to lift her in a fireman's carry! OOKAMI has elbows, enough to stagger Laurel and make her hunker down, and OOKAMI slides off and lifts Hardy in turn in a military press. Laurel starts to slither down OOKAMI's back without - as The Winter Wolf had seemingly hoped - pushing herself off entirely - so OOKAMI drops Hardy and loops an arm through Hardy's own as she goes to send her to the mat in a half nelson facebuster! She then pushes back over The Five Star Match Machine, twisting the arm back up over Laurel's shoulderblade. The pain of the unnatural angle is evident on Hardy's face as her cheeks flush bright red and sweat begins to cascade down her brow.
Matt Steel: We might see a submission here!
Mark Sanction: Imagine if OOKAMI no Chi can make Laurel Anne Hardy tap out in her XWA debut!
But it's not to be, as Laurel manages to spin on her side to relive the pressure and hook her legs up around OOKAMI's neck. She uses the scissors to roll her down and in the direction of a pin, but OOKAMI lets out a lupine howl as she pushes herself up to a standing position with Laurel still clamping around her neck! She swings Laurel into place for a powerbomb, but Hardy blocks it and spins around and tries to go for a reverse huracanrana, but OOKAMI braces to stop it, and swings her friend back over her head into an electric chair driver! She holds on for the cover...
Laurel has to use raw power to kick out, throwing OOKAMI aside! The look on the former Supreme Champion's face makes it clear that she knew what she was doing, and - understandably - chose to take the forfeit over losing the match.
Mark Sanction: And now, by the measures of this match, OOKAMI is 2-1 ahead!
Matt Steel: The Welsh are 2-1 down? Familiar ground for them...
Mark Sanction: That hasn't even happened yet! What did I tell you about that fourth wall?
Laurel sits up, sighing, then gets to her feet and crosses to the drinks, waving off the ref. She downs something rusty-brown in colour, then flops back down in the centre of the ring, sitting cross-legged, and beckons her opponent over. OOKAMI stands behind her, trying to work out what to do to Laurel from this position. At last she crouches behind her and wraps one arm around Hardy's neck and forces the other up through her armpit for a dragon sleeper. As she stands she drags Hardy back up with her, and starts swinging her around in the submission hold.
Matt Steel: When is Hardy allowed to start fighting back?
Laurel shoots a mule kick up into OOKAMI's knee.
Mark Sanction: I guess then!
OOKAMI staggers a bit, but forces herself to recover before Laurel can throw another kick, and she throws Hardy over her head in a suplex! She bridges into a high angle landing to dump Laurel on her face, then tenses out to form a bridging dragon sleeper. Hardy kicks her legs trying to break it, which she does manage after a short time. The two women scramble over each other for purchase, with many a switch and reversal. OOKAMI goes for a rear waistlock; Hardy spins behind her, dragging an arm into a hammerlock, then twists sideways and pulls OOKAMI down into a backslide!
OOKAMI gets a shoulder up just in time. They roll over so they're sitting back-to-back; Laurel spins out, resting a palm on the crown of OOKAMI's head as she goes, and leaps into a dropkick that plants both boots into the small of the cranium. But she loses her grip as she lands and rolls away from OOKAMI! It's only for a second before she manages to regain physical contact, but it's enough to count.
Mark Sanction: That's the third shot for Laurel to OOKAMI's one!
Matt Steel: It's like she wants to forfeit.
Mark Sanction: Would it surprise you if she did?
Matt Steel: Not really.
Laurel takes yet another drink, then tells OOKAMI to hold off a second as she adopts a pose. After a moment, she settles on a ballerina-like pirouette, paused mid-spin, a frozen statue on one leg, then nods. OOKAMI drops low and hooks her ankle out with her own, and as Hardy crashes down, catches her across her back and flips her into a ranhei!
Mark Sanction: Impressive! But not enough.
The two friends remain in a higgledy-piggledy heap for a moment before helping each other upright, leaning against each other for support. Hardy is the first to her feet; for once in her life, she actually seems to be coping with the match as it goes longer than her opponent is. She holds OOKAMI's hand and jogs to the side of the ring, running up the ropes and then phoenixing back out into a crossbody that splats the Japanese star against the canvas like a fly on a windscreen!
Not only does OOKAMI kick out, she rises up with Laurel in her hands, and throws her back over her head in a fallaway powerslam! And, stunningly, she keeps her grip tight and backrolls over Hardy to lift her again!
Matt Steel: God damn!
She goes for the second fallaway slam - but this time, maybe it's the fatigue etched in her eyes or slickness from the sweat of the match or that shot starting to fug her as she dehydrates, but for whatever reason, she loses her grip and Laurel goes rolling away. OOKAMI comes up to her knees, grimacing, but accepts her forfeit and (perhaps to contrast the red drink she started with) goes for one of the two green drinks, the one deeper in colour.
Mark Sanction: I think that's absinthe... I think the other green one is midori.
After swigging the shot, OOKAMI heads back to the middle of the ring and stands rigid, with her arms by her sides. Laurel hangs back for a moment, watching and thinking.
Matt Steel: Kinda surprised by this but I gotta give Laurel credit, you know. After the match she went through last month she really does seem to be doing fine now, psychologically.
Mark Sanction: Yeah... which worries me in itself. Right now she looks like that match genuinely never even happened. I know she's spent a lot of time over the last couple of years training herself out of her more... shall we say, violent instincts... and I'm worried that the match with Whisper could be a huge regression.
Matt Steel: Buddy, you ain't a psychiatrist. Right now we can just see how it goes.
Mark Sanction: I guess.
Laurel stands in front of OOKAMI, hunkering down low a bit and waggling her fingers. OOKAMI tenses, and the expression on her face shows that she knows whatever's coming, it's going to hurt...
...except Laurel fakes her out by rolling her into an inside cradle!
OOKAMI manages to roll over just in time. They break apart, although still clasping each other's wrists, and as they come back to their knees and thence to feet they move back in, both full of energy. And It's OOKAMI who pounces in with a big boot!
Mark Sanction: Hot Buttered Concussion!
Matt Steel: Where's that name from, then?
Mark Sanction: It involves the NKP World Extreme Championship, Michiko Yamada, and popcorn...
Matt Steel: Sounds like a fun night...
The name proves to potentially apt as Laurel slumps down. OOKAMI straightens her arm and slackens her grip to the point where she could only just be called staying in contact. Laurel's hand slides out of hers...
Matt Steel: Talking of concussions, Laurel might be about to drink on one...
...but she claws on at the last moment! OOKAMI's face flashes with pain as Hardy's nails dig into her palm, but she wraps both hands around Laurel's and pulls her back up. She lifts Laurel into a standing wristlock, then spins in with a roaring elbow! Spit and sweat go spraying from the face of Laurel, who looks absolutely out on her feet. OOKAMI pulls her in for a front facelock and drags her up into the air. Laurel's apparently not as done as she seemed, as she begins to thrash her legs to bring herself back down! Displaying impressive strength, OOKAMI manages to keep Laurel vertical as she cranks on the neck and shunts a forearm into her spine, but still Laurel's able to sink her heels back down to touch the ground. She spins out of the headlock and twists OOKAMI into one of her own!
Mark Sanction: OOKAMI's a powerhouse, but never count out Laurel's ability to find a reversal!
Hardy is, however, still too spent for the vertical suplex of her own. She strains and lifts OOKAMI up but can't get her up more than a foot or two before OOKAMI's able to come back down herself. OOKAMI pops her hips and lifts Laurel up in a back body drop - but Hardy clamps around her, upside down, trying to shut her down! OOKAMI grunts and growls, and manages to swing her opponent round and drop her into a backbreaker right across her knee! She pushes Laurel down and covers.
Laurel breaks it. OOKAMI immediately pulls Hardy up and into a front butterfly. Hardy grapevines OOKAMI's right ankle with her left leg and starts kicking at OOKAMI's left knee and shin with her right trying to unbalance both of them. OOKAMI smacks Laurel between the shoulders and sinks back to prevent them from falling... and Laurel screams as she quickly moves her arms to clamp around OOKAMI, and then heaves her up into the air and throws The Moon Cub back with a huge northern lights suplex! She manages to keep the bridge.
Kickout from OOKAMI, Laurel flips over so she's sitting on OOKAMI's chest, holding both legs.
Mark Sanction: This is a friendly match, but how much pride is still on the line...?
Matt Steel: C'mon bro. You know as well as anyone that it's all about pride any time you step in the ring.
Laurel drags herself to her feet holding OOKAMI's hand, yanks her over to the edge of the ring, and goes for the rope run again, vaulting back in a splash..
...OOKAMI CATCHES HER! She swings around and plants her with a side slam, and covers!
Laurel thrusts up the shoulder! This time it's OOKAMI who goes for the vaulting splash, but Laurel has the knees. OOKAMI rolls away in pain, and on instinct, under the ropes to flop to ringside! Laurel scrabbles and tries to keep hold of her as she disappears over the horizon, heels pushing against the mat frantically - to no avail. OOKAMI is too heavy, and she drops out of Hardy's grip.
Matt Steel: Who counts as breaking that?
Mark Sanction: I would imagine Laurel.
The referee takes a moment to make his decision, but he apparently comes to the same conclusion as he instructs Laurel to drink. She nods absently and staggers over to the tray, takes up something perfectly clear that might be vodka or gin, and tosses it down her neck before crossing to the centre of the ring. She begins pacing impatiently as she waits for OOKAMI to slither back under the bottom rope.
Mark Sanction: Well, it's advantage OOKAMI no Chi... not that you'd know by looking right now.
The Wolf looks a bit confused as she slides into the ring, but when the ref and her opponent direct her to take her free shot she obliges. She stomps her foot a couple times, then rushes in with another Hot Buttered Concussion! Laurel drops like a stone. Buuuut...
Matt Steel: Guess either booze or fatigue is catching up with her!
Mark Sanction: Yeah, that was, uh, not her smartest move...
OOKAMI realises that the kick that knocked Laurel down also meant that she broke contact almost as soon as she made it! She shakes her head, annoyed at herself, and quickly downs the first shot to hand without bothering to actually select one. As she does so, Laurel is stealthily climbing the turnbuckles...
Mark Sanction: Keep your eye on the former champ!
As OOKAMI turns, Laurel flies off and brings her down with a blockbuster neckbreaker! She manages to keep the hold applied, and backrolls to hook OOKAMI's ankles with her own for the pin.
OOKAMI rolls sideways. The two women clamber up to their feet using each other for support, although much slower now. Even though the match hasn't been that long, neither is exactly known for her pacing, and the mixed drinks are really starting to kick in now. OOKAMI grabs Laurel's hair and uses it to keep contact as she slaps her across the collarbone with a chop; Laurel in retaliation hooks an ankle up and blasts her friend in the jaw with a hadouken! And then another! And a third - no, OOKAMI catches it! Screaming, she prises Laurel's arms apart, smashes her with a headbutt, twists her into an inverted double underhook, and drops into the facebuster! Hardy is out like a light, while OOKAMI just likes on top of her for a moment, breathing hard. But she turns and rolls Hardy over, then crawls on top of her...
NO! Laurel has the shoulder up! OOKAMI is in shock. She drags Hardy back to her feet and goes for an elbow to the mush. Laurel sucks it up - but then returns fire with one of her own. The two women are cradling each other around the neck, and begin blasting each other in the face over and over with short range, full-power elbow smashes!
Mark Sanction: Frustration beginning to set in, it seems! And the big question now is: can Laurel keep a lid on it, or will she escalate it? After last month, we have to be asking that!
The elbows pick up speed until they're blurs, and both Laurel and OOKAMI's heads must be absolutely ringing. Eventually they stop altogether, just squeezing the hell out of each other with tight cradles around each other's heads - until, at last, they both break apart. They're left facing each other in combat stances a few feet apart, then as one they both lower their guards. They both smile for a moment.
Mark Sanction: Well, no issue of who broke there. I don't know if it was exactly mutual, but it was simultaneous either way.
Indeed, they don't need to hear the referee's verdict. Together, they select shot glasses, two of similar colours, and clink them together in a toast before drinking together.
Matt Steel: Looks like they're still cool...
Mark Sanction: You sound disappointed.
Matt Steel: Little bit.
Once both women are ready they go into a collar-and-elbow tie-up. They jockey back and forth, but the larger and stronger OOKAMI is soon to take control and she powers Hardy back into the corner, ramming her against the turnbuckles and then dropping her to drive shoulder thrusts in. Laurel doubles over, coughing and spluttering - but still manages to get a knee up into OOKAMI! She swings her round into the corner and starts unloading with furious body blows with both hands, until OOKAMI is able to spin her around in turn and return the volley! Hardy sags down, fading under the onslaught.
Mark Sanction: We said what if OOKAMI could beat a former Supreme Champion in her debut... she might do just that at this rate!
But Hardy is able to stop The Moon Cub with a vicious headbutt! OOKAMI herself now sags, but Laurel refuses to let her go. She blasts her with an elbow to the dome then hops up on the middle turnbuckle... up to the top... OOKAMI takes a couple of steps back, leaving them connected only by their clasped hands. She swipes an elbow at Laurel's ankles, but Laurel jumps it and swings down in a corkscrew moonsault! But as she slams into OOKAMI and they roll over and over, OOKAMI roars and drags Laurel up in a hiptoss... LAUREL LANDS ON HER FEET! She snaps a superkick back into OOKAMI's jaw then runs to the opposite corner, sprints up the buckles and vaults out, and this time uses the clasped hand to turn it into an armdrag! OOKAMI goes skidding across the ring but Laurel stays on her and wraps herself around her head, twisting into a dragon sleeper that keeps her held upside down.
Mark Sanction: Submission attempt now! And OOKAMI's head inverted, and after a match like this plus all that alcohol... I'll be amazed if she can even tell where she is!
OOKAMI tries to use her power to break free, but Laurel uses her right leg to hook one of OOKAMI's ankles and her left to brace up, tilting OOKAMI's head even more upside down! OOKAMI struggles, but she's fading fast...
...and at last she taps out! Hardy breaks the hold and rolls aside as "Yin Yang" hits again. OOKAMI falls to her back and the two women are left down and exhausted.
Hana Ramierez: Here is your winner... LAUREL! ANNE! HARDY!
Mark Sanction: The former Supreme Champion victorious, but OOKAMI no Chi more than acquitted herself well in her debut!
Matt Steel: And Laurel seemed to manage it without any "incidents"... whether that's a good thing or not, well, your mileage may vary I guess.
Mark Sanction: From where I'm sitting it's a very good thing, but for now the story is the match these two friends just had against each other, and it might not have been as bloody or as weapon-filled as the rest of this night has been so far, and will surely be to come, but still a hell of an effort from both women.
In the ring, the competitors help each other up. They stare down for a moment, before shaking hands and then pulling each other in close for an embrace as the fans cheer.
Mark Sanction: All friends again. They should both be proud of this unique, bizarre match we saw tonight.
They raise each other's arms, then celebrate with one final shot each, encouraging the ref and Hana each to take one along with them.
Hardcore Champion x3 | Gladiatorial Champion | World Heavyweight Champion | first Supreme Champion
Breaker of The Streak