"I Love Rock and Roll" by Joan Jett blares from the speakers and the crowd comes unglued as Gloriana makes her presence felt atop the ramp. She is wearing a pair of tight pink and orange wrestling shorts that end roughly mid upper leg, a matching pink and orange wrestling top, orange and pink boots, and a throwback 70's style black jacket. After nodding along to the tunes with the fans, she makes off down the aisle, tagging hands and high fiving folks. She pumps them up with yells and yammering as she is introduced by Hana Ramierez.
Hana Ramierez: Introducing first, from Greensboro, North Carolina, weighing one hundred and eighty pounds... making her XWA debut... GLOOORIAAANAAA!
From there, she stomps up the steps and enters the ring, where she spins around in a circle fastly while losing the jacket and tossing it over the rope to the stage hand nearby. Making her way to the center of the ring, she does a few flexing poses toward the four directions of the fans before retreating to her corner to await her opponent.
Mark Sanction: Here we go with a special challenge match! Former EWC star Gloriana has arrived in the Battlezone, and she called out anyone on the roster at our last show... and she was answered by none other than the first Supreme XWA Champion! The self-proclaimed Final Boss of XWA! It couldn't be a much bigger debut for Gloriana, but has she bitten off more than she can chew in the woman who beat Jericho Shaw?
Matt Steel: She sure looks confident here, and I like it. Her first match here in XWA and she's stepping in with one of our A1 main event stars, and you can see in her face how ready she is. Let's do this!
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: And her opponent...
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 pauses at ringside, looking around a bit as if searching for something, then 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...
Hana Ramierez: From Rhyl, Wales, weighing one hundred and forty-eight pounds...
...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.
Hana Ramierez: LAUREL! ANNE! HAAARRRDAYYY!
I got limitless stealth positions
Extract the champion
She foregoes her usual headbanging, instead casting her eyes around the ringside area and its immediate environs, but she still executes her customary backflip into the ring.
Extract the champion!
Laurel drops to a crosslegged position in her corner, rolling her clasped wrists as she awaits the bell, staring across at Gloriana with only the occasional glance to ringside.
Matt Steel: Looks like Laurel might have something else on her mind... not a good idea against a hungry new signing.
The bell rings and the two women circle each other for just a moment before locking into a collar-and-elbow tie up. They jockey back and forth for a few moments, but the much stronger Gloriana shoves Laurel down so hard she rolls arse over tit, ending up on her bum. Gloriana hops into the air for a low savate kick aimed at the sitting Hardy's head; Laurel manages to catch the ankle, and holds it as she clambers to her feet, pulling Gloriana in close and wrapping her into a rear waistlock! Laurel lifts Gloriana for a German, but the tall Carolinian kicks and sandbags, and as she comes back down, flips Laurel over her head in a snapmare.
Matt Steel: Why the hell would Laurel try to take on Gloriana in a test of strength...?
Mark Sanction: C'mon, you know what she's like. Anything anyone else can do, she has to show she can do too.
Gloriana gets Hardy in a hammerlock and spins her around, but as she tries to follow through, Hardy ducks under and pulls her down into a backslide!
Before the two, Gloriana powers out; Laurel can sense it as her opponent's body tenses up, so she's already flipping back to her feet, ready to catch Gloriana with an enzuigiri. It strikes true and Gloriana sags back, dazed. Laurel closes quickly, pulling her down into a double underhook. But as she lifts, Gloriana is able to flex her arms and break out of it, and she twists Laurel around into a hammerlock again! This time she's quick to spin her opponent round and slams a heart punch into her breastplate! The thud echoes, and this time it's Laurel who sags.
Mark Sanction: Wow! Look at the impact of that... like being hit with a brick.
Gloriana drags Laurel in close, into a front facelock, and lifts her upright. She holds Laurel up in a vertical stall, and the fans count along...
At last, Gloriana falls backwards to drive Laurel into the canvas with a suplex! The former champ bounces up with her hands clasped around the back of her head but Gloriana quickly pushes her flat in a lateral press.
Laurel rolls over. Gloriana, feeling the surge of momentum shifting to her side, drags her back up and pulls her head between her legs, then flips her right up over her shoulders.
Mark Sanction: No wasted movement. Straight into the next huge throw!
Before Gloriana can powerbomb Laurel back down into the mat, the Welshwoman starts laying in punches - shaky, but still hard enough to hurt - from her seat in the danger zone. Gloriana grunts under the assault and her leg almost buckles, but she braces herself before she can fall and powers back the other way, running forward and throwing Hardy into the corner!
Mark Sanction: Oh my god, she turned it into a buckle bomb! The strength of this woman is absolutely unreal!
As Laurel staggers out of the corner Gloriana throws another savate kick, connecting this time, and Hardy drops onto her back like a tree crashing over. Gloriana drags Laurel away from the ropes, out of limb's reach of the potential break, then drops across her and hooks a leg.
Gloriana stands, watching what Laurel does - which is to wrap into a ball. Gloriana tilts her head and raises an eyebrow.
Mark Sanction: A vintage British shenanigan here. Hardy certainly knows her World of Sport.
Gloriana reaches down and grabs Laurel's arm impatiently - and Laurel rolls over, flipping Gloriana off her feet and straightening out into an armbar! She cranks back as she tries to work her feet into a locking position... but Gloriana rolls over, trying to block it. The two women struggle - and it's Gloriana who gains the upper hand and she drags herself to her feet, still attached to Laurel, and swings the latter down in front!
Matt Steel: God damn, look at Gloriana's strength!
Mark Sanction: And her conditioning, to execute something like that.
Still with Laurel held in front of her, clear from the mat, Gloriana swings Laurel up and throws her back in an exploder suplex! The crowd responds with awe...
...and again, as Laurel manages to land on her feet! She spins and slips her hands up under Gloriana's armpits, seeking a full nelson; Gloriana responds by twisting around, pulling herself free, and and dropping into a sitout jawbreaker.
Mark Sanction: And technical acumen too, evidently.
They both return to their feet. Laurel throws a superkick that rocks Gloriana, but she can't follow through quick enough to press the attack, and after a slight tussle as they come together, it's advantage Gloriana once again as she ducks, gets her weight right under Laurel's diaphragm, and throws her facefirst into the canvas with a flapjack. She follows that up in short order by dragging the smaller woman to her feet and launching her into the corner with an Irish whip, but Laurel hops onto the middle rope, jumps one-eighty, and leaps out at the charging Gloriana, taking her over with a springing headscissors throw. While Gloriana nurses the back of her head, Laurel pulls herself on the ropes, trying to catch some breath - and glancing around at ringside again as she does so.
Matt Steel: What's up with Laurel?
Mark Sanction: You know, I spoke to her earlier briefly...
Matt Steel: Of course you did, you suck-up.
Mark Sanction: Ignoring that. She told me she's suspicious about Gloriana - a new signing calling out the roster, especially namedropping Alice Harris of all people in particular, deep in the war between XWA and The Survivors? She said that's why she answered the challenge - XWA have turned back the first offensive, but she wouldn't put it past Richard Maxwell to be trying new lines of attack - such as bringing in a ringer to dupe the roster.
Matt Steel: So she's expecting to see Catastrophe show up?
Mark Sanction: I don't know if she's expecting it, per se, but she wants to be prepared if they do.
Once she's satisfied that she's not about to be jumped, Laurel crosses back to the still seated Gloriana - who meets her with a European uppercut! The force of it rocks Laurel, spinning her around - but she follows through and flies back in with a sliding discus lariat!
Mark Sanction: Huge strikes right to the face from both competitors, but neither's willing to suck it up!
Indeed, Gloriana is already pushing back to her feet just a step behind Laurel. Laurel, despite being red-faced and sweating profusely, has no option but to cut her opponent's quick recovery off with a knee to the gut. Gloriana doubles over, and Laurel hooks a leg into a fisherman clutch... lifts her... flips her into a powerbomb lungblower! The two women break apart, rolling in different directions.
Mark Sanction: Party Hardy: The Hangover!
Matt Steel: Look at the air tearing out of Gloriana's chest!
Mark Sanction: You would be looking at her breasts.
Matt Steel: That's just a perk of the job.
Mark Sanction: "Perk" being the operative word.
Matt Steel: Naturally.
He squints, leaning forward...
Matt Steel: ...I think. They look natural from here.
While our play-by-play commentator shakes his head, Hardy hunkers back to catch her breath, keeping one eye on Gloriana and one on ringside.
Matt Steel: Supposing this is a setup, what does Laurel actually expect to do if Catastrophe show up?
Mark Sanction: Knowing her? She probably expects to fight them all off single-handedly.
Matt Steel: Hah! Yeah, that sounds about right.
Gloriana rises and closes in, throwing a probing forearm, which Laurel easily ducks. Gloriana reveals her feint as she instantly spins into a spinning backfist - and Laurel tips her own ruse as she catches it with a crossarm block, flips Gloriana right off her feet with a labai, then steps up and nails a shining enzuigiri that knocks Gloriana flat! Laurel hasn't even finished standing up before she's throwing herself back into a standing moonsault, and she stays in place for the cover!
Kickout from Gloriana! Laurel looks around for a moment again as Gloriana sucks in breaths. The welshwoman's gaze drifts to the top turnbuckle for a moment.
Mark Sanction: Is Hardy ready to try to put this match away?
But she shakes her head and looks away again, clearly not trusting that she'd make it to the top without being accosted. Instead she closes back on Gloriana - who greets her with a drop toehold! Gloriana falls on Laurel and grabs her arm, and tries to drag her into a position from which she can clamp her legs around Laurel's neck.
Mark Sanction: Spider twist! Gloriana's looking for the Twist And Shout spider twist, one of her deadliest weapons!
Despite her shock, Laurel clearly had done her homework, as she fights with all she has to keep Gloriana from looking the hold in. The wrestlers battle each other for a minute, rolling over and over, fighting for dominance... ultimately Laurel manages to push Gloriana down prone and slide across her shoulderblades, and grab the arms.
Mark Sanction: And now The Doors of Perception!
Matt Steel: Laurel's own deadliest weapon!
But Laurel's not the only one who's done her homework. Gloriana roars and pushes herself to one knee with Laurel still clamped around her shoulders. Hardy starts to let go - but not quickly enough to get away before Gloriana pushes herself to her feet and falls backwards, driving Laurel into the canvas with a fallaway electric chair! The competitors roll apart again, each smartly going onto her front, and this time each remains in place, lying face down and trying to catch her breath. The referee checks first on Gloriana, then on Laurel, then begins to issue a count!
...Laurel rolls onto her side, while Gloriana rubs her ribs...
Gloriana throws herself to one knee. The signals she's safe, then turns his attention to Laurel...
And now Laurel too clambers upright. She gets some help the last of the way, as Gloriana pulls her up then smacks in an uppercut that staggers the flamboyant black-haired woman. She spins into another backfist, this time connecting, then drags Laurel up and lifts her across her shoulders. She pauses for just a moment, checking her balance, then presses Hardy into the air!
Mark Sanction: Gorilla press!
Matt Steel: Think about how much punishment Gloriana's taken - a couple of huge impacts on the lungs included - and she's still got press slams in her!
Mark Sanction: She's definitely impressing the fans here!
As she takes in the crowd's approval of her showmanship, athleticism and fighting spirit, Gloriana favours them by benching Laurel up and down a couple of times!
Matt Steel: Haha! Cocky too!
Mark Sanction: Well, we knew that she's a fighter who's not afraid to get in people's faces from the fact she issued an open challenge on her first night. And she's showing here tonight that she can back it up!
Gloriana tenses her arms to hold Laurel aloft at arm's full reach for a moment further, then simply brings her arms to her side and takes a step forward, letting Laurel drop like a sack of crap.
Matt Steel: Hah!
But Laurel knew exactly what was coming, and is controlling her fall to land on her feet! She stumbles just a bit as she lands but still manages to stick it in an impressive feat of agility and wherewithal. Gloriana can sense from the subtle shift in the noise from the audience that something's wrong and she spins around - straight into a boot to the gut! Laurel catches Gloriana, hoists her up into a fireman's carry, and spins her down into a psycho driver! She stays sitting on her for the pin.
Gloriana powers out!
Mark Sanction: We've already seen one attempt at The Doors of Perception in this match. Note how much of Laurel's offence damages the head, neck and spine - the same parts her submission finisher puts the most pressure on.
Matt Steel: And look at Laurel checking ringside again...
Indeed, Laurel has another quick scout around, but this time much more cursory, giving Gloriana the regard and the lack of quarter that she's earned with her display in this match. Gloriana is in fact, already pushing herself back up. Hardy only just catches her with a boot to the head, then wastes no time in pulling her in into a double underhook. Arm muscles straining beneath the warpaint streaking them, Laurel lifts her foe up vertical, then quickly spikes her with a sitout tiger driver! She pushes Gloriana onto her back and hooks the American's legs with her own while pushing down across the shoulders.
GLORIANA KICKS OUT! Laurel sits back, shocked that the second driver on the crown didn't finish things!
Mark Sanction: The fans are on their feet! This one goes on! Gloriana's not done!
Laurel quickly rolls Gloriana over, all thoughts of sneak attacks now forgotten, and goes for The Doors of Perception again.
Matt Steel: Second try...
Mark Sanction: And this time Gloriana's taken a lot more punishment to the spinal column. She might not be able to power her way out of it again...
The same thought clearly hasn't escaped Gloriana, as she does all she can through the haze and the pain to block the lethal submission hold. She pushes onto her side, arms locked against Laurel's and straining, and kicks around on the canvas in a semicircle with her heels... and manages to push Laurel over and backflip into a jacknife pin!
Laurel flings herself free and spins up - and Gloriana is there to meet her!
Matt Steel: God damn! Back on her feet!
It's Gloriana with a punch. Laurel knocks it aside with a forearm. She goes for an elbow of her own, and Gloriana pushes it aside and clamps a hand around Laurel's throat! Laurel grabs at the wrist with both hands and tries to drag it away, but Gloriana knees her in the midriff, then hoists her up and throws her down with a chokeslam!
Mark Sanction: Beautiful! What a display of control by the newcomer!
But the pain of the match flushes back into her, and she falls to her knees as Laurel uses the last of her strength to roll onto her stomach.
Matt Steel: We night have the upset of the summer on our hands here!
After another few seconds to will life back into her muscles, Gloriana crawls over to Laurel and pushes her onto her back, and drops across her.
Mark Sanction: NO! There's that legendary resilience of the former Supreme Champion!
Matt Steel: I'll tell you what, though. If Gloriana had been able to cover right away I think we'd have a winner right now.
Mark Sanction: I'm inclined to agree.
Slowly, Gloriana pulls Laurel back up, flips her up, and plants her with another powerbomb. She falls to one knee for a moment, then drops across her opponent again.
The referee's hand comes down again, but stops centimetres from the canvas. Gloriana frowns and follows where he's pointing, to Laurel's leg on the rope.
Mark Sanction: Ooh, she caught that before in this match, but this time she forgot.
Matt Steel: And at this stage, where any power move could end it, it might have cost her.
Mark Sanction: I guess we'll find out...
Gloriana doesn't argue. She just pulls Laurel up over her shoulders into a fireman's carry. Laurel throws woozy elbows into her ear that do little, though still something. Gloriana wrenches her up and down in a torture rack, but only gets a couple of thrusts in before Hardy manages to wriggle free and snake down behind her, and pull her down into a backslide!
Gloriana's out quickly. She's the first to her feet, and she throws a big kick at Laurel's head; the Welsh star catches the ankle and closes in, and with a roar of effort, hauls Gloriana up for a legtrap suplex. But she can't get it all the way, and Gloriana sandbags back down.
Mark Sanction: Laurel keeping on fighting as she always does, but this match has taken so much out of her...
It's Gloriana who strikes first, literally, with a forearm to the temple. Laurel's head lolls - but she fires back with a butt right into the bridge of the nose! She still has the fisherman clutch and lifts Gloriana again, and this time, as Gloriana starts to sandbag, drops her into a shinbreaker! Gloriana hops round in a semicircle as her leg recoils in instinct at the first pressure on it, and Laurel flings herself down into a sloppy but effective dropkick to the other knee to send the six footer crashing down.
Mark Sanction: Hardy with a rush of energy! You can see the fatigue on her face, and in the sweat gushing off her, but she can feel victory within her grasp...
Hardy catches the falling Gloriana and hoists her up onto her shoulders again, and immediately throws her out and drops her chest-first across her knees!
Matt Steel: Oh shit! Spinout bloodblower from a fireman's carry!
Mark Sanction: And Gloriana's left splayed out on her back!
Glassy-eyed yet still moving with determination, Laurel sways over to the corner unsteadily but hastily, this time with not a trace of concern for who might be at ringside - Gloriana has her full attention. She scampers up the ropes as fast as she can, throws herself into a limp bow, then hurls herself off the ropes, spinning over and over in the air, all in the name of aiming an elbow deep into Gloriana's fighting heart...
Mark Sanction: Stronger Than Dirt!
...it lands true, and Laurel rolls back dragging both legs over for the cover!
Laurel slides off Gloriana and falls still.
Hana Ramierez: Here is your winner... LAUREL! ANNE! HARDY!
Slowly, huffing hard, Laurel pushes herself up to a sitting position. She casts an eye down at Gloriana for a moment, then looks around, evidently wondering if the attack is going to come post-match instead. But all is quiet - well, save for the cacophony of 17,000 fans cheering wildly over the top of "Yin Yang".
Mark Sanction: Laurel Anne Hardy victorious tonight, but make no mistake, Gloriana has arrived in a big way.
Matt Steel: No kidding. She was in there with the first ever Supreme Champion, probably the biggest name on the roster, and almost had her beat a bunch of times. I'm definitely keeping my eye on Gloriana.
Mark Sanction: I think everyone will. But yet again, Laurel notches up the W, and sends the statement that she's still the person to beat here in XWA!
The winner is back on her feet now. She extends a hand to Gloriana, offering to help her back to her feet; Gloriana stares as it, makes a point of standing up under her own power, and only then takes Hardy's hand. The two women shake, and then Laurel raises Gloriana's arm to huge cheers from the crowd... though before they break apart, they lean in close to each other, and Gloriana promises this won't be the last time they fight, to which Laurel replies that her door is always open.