Taped from the XWA BattleZone in Chicago, Illinois (1500 Capacity)
Broadcast exclusively on The Xperience!
XWA Lord of the Ring Quarterfinals, Group Three Match A
Mark Storey vs. AJ Morales
The same scheduling error that brought a second chance to two wrestlers bring Storey and Morales earlier than either could expect! In what was potential a semifinals match, two of the fastest paced wrestlers in the XWA go one on one! Who will come out on top and move onto the next round? Tune in to find out!
WORD COUNT: 4500
-------- Deadline for matches is 2nd July 2018 at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time.
Voting will start at this time and conclude on 7th July 2018 at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time.
[CST is one hour earlier. GMT is five hours later.]
Sanction: “Now it’s time for a Quarter Final match in the Lord of the Ring tournament that most of us expected we would potentially get in the Semi Finals! This is AJ Morales versus Mark Storey.”
Fenric: “Last week AJ won in a relatively short match via rolling Blake Archer up after a chilling video featuring the Levinator played on the tron.”
Layton: “Yeh! And Storey cheated his way to another victory, fancy that, eh?!”
Fenric: “Be that as it may, through strategy, both men are through to the Quarter Finals and are facing each other here tonight.”
Sanction: “That’s right, and in fact, The Natural will be entering first tonight due to his sneak attack last week.”
It’s at this time, perfectly on cue, that the arena falls to darkness and a single golden spotlight shines on the stage alongside the opening chord of Jonathan Young’s cover of “The Rains of Castamere”. The epic score blasts through the speakers as Mark Storey steps out onto the stage, ring gear on, XWA Tag Team Championship fastened around his waist, but no black leather jacket. Instead tonight he sports a tshirt. The gold light illuminates the decorated superstar’s chest which reads “ONE TRUE MORALES”. After a few seconds the British superstar laughs before rotating 180 degrees to show the back of his tshirt, emblazed with “LX-TIM”. The audience takes the bait and boos the arrogant superstar as he turns and makes his way down the ramp, clearly trying to antagonise his opponent, AJ Morales tonight in any way possible, by claiming that his friend and partner, Timothy Morales, is the only ‘true’ Morales.
Ramierez: “Introducing first, he is one half of the XWA Tag Team Champions…Mark! Storey!”
Mark nears the ring, making faces at fans that paid to be in the front row in the process. He hops onto the apron and rolls to the centre of the ring, popping up to show his tshirt off to the cameras once more. He then walks to the corner near Ramierez and Wayne Johnston, the official, and awaits AJ.
Sanction: “These two have been at each other’s throats on Twitter recently.”
Layton: “AJ has said time and time again that he will beat Storey any day of the week! Instead that dipshit can’t read the rules and wants AJ to defend his XWA Hardcore Championship tonight, even though it was clearly outlined before the tournament that he couldn’t! I can’t stand him. He is an arrogant little prick!”
Fenric: “Fantastic unbiased opinions there from AJ Morale’s fiancée.”
”A’right, stop, stop, hold on, hold on, hold on—“
A.J. Morales's custom edit of "Champion" by Falling in Reverse hits the PA as the lights near the entrance ramp turn gold, just like they did for Mark. With vapour engulfing the stage, ‘The Revolution’ emerges from behind the curtain, holding the XWA Hardcore Championship like a guitar. He headbangs and strums along with every note as he starts to make his way down the ramp.
Sanction: “Interestingly, you may notice that AJ Morales is not flanked by Amy Taylor this week. This is because, following Mark’s match last week he was reprimanded and Lx-Tim was banned from ringside this week. Mark then demanded the same treatment be bestowed upon AJ, seeing as Mark also had to comply to entering first for this contest.”
Layton: “Ridiculous. Anyone who watches this product knows that Storey is the one who uses every trick in the book! He’s cheated against me for Christ’s sake! Meanwhile Amy is AJ’s legitimate manager! It’s ludicrous.”
Fenric: “Either way, this match is about as even as any match these two may ever have again. I can’t see Mark complying to any sort of rule if he were to challenge for that Hardcore Championship as AJ keeps suggesting he do.”
Sanction: “It is sure to be a very unique meeting between these two, especially with the vitriol between them both right now.”
Ramierez: “And his opponent! He is the XWA Hardcor-”
Just like that Hana is cut off as the cameras quickly switch to show Mark snatching the microphone from her.
Ramierez: “He is XWA’s Hardcore Chump, a third rate wrestler and a fourth rate Lx-Tim. This is A! J! Mor-”
Before he can finish his sentence, Mark throws the microphone to one side and baseball slides out of the ring to meet the now oncoming AJ Morales. Morales’ theme abruptly cuts as he runs toward the ring, obviously annoyed by the comments regarding Tim, their recent Twitter interactions and the ‘introduction’. They meet and the crowd erupt watching their favourite Morales get his hands on Mark as the two finally trade blows instead of tweets! AJ’s Hardcore Championship falls from his waist whilst the two send rights and lefts into one another, before AJ ducks down, tucking his head into Mark gut and running forward driving the British star right into the side of the ring! Cheers emanate from the sold-out arena looking on at Morales grabbing Mark by the hand and pulling him from the apron, turning 90 degrees and using his weight to haul Mark towards him and following through until Mark crashes against the barricade, hanging unceremoniously over the top!
Layton: “YESS!! Hahahaha! Didn’t work this time did it ya arsehole?!”
Fenric: “Calm down!”
The crowd in the front row start to approach Mark and the barricade, jeering at the Tag Team Champion as Morales leans over and grabs Mark by the neck. All of a sudden Mark once again snatches what isn’t is, pulling a large cup of beer from a fan’s hand and forcing the liquid out over his shoulder right into AJ’s face and eyes! Staggering back and wiping his eyes frantically, AJ is left wide open for Mark to shuffle off of the barricade and back to his feet, returning AJ’s Irish Whip with one of his own, right into the steel steps!
Sanction: “Again with the steel steps! This was the exact tactic Mark used last week!”
Fenric: “Incredible similar yes, however last week the match had at least started.”
Layton: “How is he allowed to compete in this tournament?! He always does this! He is going to awaken an arse-kicking within AJ that he’s never SEEN before. Bank on it. Mark Storey will not be walking out of this match!”
With Layton vehemently yelling down her headset and the crowd switched back to booing, Mark lifts his opponent up and forces him head-first under the bottom rope and into the ring. ‘The Natural’ then turns to the slightly displaced steel steps and walks towards them, his arms outstretched, almost begging for more and more disapproval from the crowd. He stomps hard on the bottom step, and on every subsequent one until he reaches the top theatrically before hopping from the step onto the apron, booed literally every step of the way. He reaches the apron and the boos suddenly take a turn: more and more cheers begin to rear their heads. Not new to the game in any way at all, Storey turns and shifts backwards on the apron just in time to watch Morales power out between the middle and top rope shoulder-first! Having narrowly escaped the oncoming onslaught by the help of the very people that despise him, Mark lifts his foot ferociously and smacks it up into AJ’s chest! The Hardcore Champion goes somewhat limp, the move obviously winding him, leading to Mark applying a front chancery and hauling him through the ropes and out of the ring! Storey does not set AJ down however, instead opting to hook his arm around AJ’s thigh and back of his knee before snapping back and planting AJ’s head into the hardest part of the ring with a sickening Cradle DDT! The crowd wince and become even louder at voicing their disapproval at Mark following Mark’s Degradation manoeuvre. Layton jumps from his chair, her headset becoming dislodged as she does so whilst she watches Mark push her fiancée through the bottom rope and into the ring.
Layton: (muffled and distant from her headset) “NOOOO! DISQUALIFY HIM!”
‘The Idol’ crawls in behind his victim, laughing and points at the referee to get on the mat. Of course, the referee disagrees and pulls Mark by the upper arm and shoulder away from AJ, the match is yet to start! Johnston, our official, pushes Mark into a corner and can be seen warning the superstar that he will be disqualified from the match before it even begins, especially after last week. Unlike last week, Mark sits in the corner and watches AJ like a hawk whilst the referee asks him if he wants to start the match officially.
Fenric: “You have to give it to Mark here, he is not making the same mistake as he did last week, he almost lost in the first few official seconds of the match via a roll-up from Albion Gale because he was distracted. Not tonight.”
Layton: “OH I’LL BLOODY GIVE IT TO HIM!”
Fenric: “Good to have you back, Emery.”
After getting to a knee, ‘The Revolution’ looks at the official and nods. The referee seems to ask him once again, making sure he’s not rushing into a decision. Still kneeling, AJ nods again, agreeing to the contest. The camera cuts back to Storey who mouths “Stupid” as he stands and starts to make his way to the centre of the ring in time for Johnston to call for the bell, starting the match officially.
Layton: “There was ZERO chance of AJ backing down from this fight! He wants to destroy Mark, and I share the same sentiment.”
Sanction: “He isn’t the XWA Hardcore Champion for nothing, I don’t think any of us doubted AJ just then.”
Fenric: “Even without the tweets between these two, there’s no way AJ would back down from a challenge of any sort.”
Storey wastes no time and grabs the kneeling AJ by his long hair, instantly though he falls into a trap from AJ, who grabs the bottom of Mark’s Lx-Tim tshirt and pulls it towards himself, turning it inside out and covering Mark’s face! With Storey blinded in a completely different way than AJ earlier, the British superstar staggers backwards and tries to rip the tshirt from his head. He does so and his sight flares up with the lights from the above, the blindness only dissipating in time to see the sole of AJ’s boot flying straight into his nose and between his eyes! Fuckin’ Slayerrrr! The Superkick knocks Mark clean off his feet and onto the canvas, flat on his back! The crowd erupt watching AJ scramble atop of Mark and hook his leg, leaning back-first onto Mark’s chest with Emery seen punching the air in the background in celebration!
The referee slaps the mat hard but it can barely be heard due to the fans counting aloud.
Kicking his feet and leaning backwards more and more, AJ looks to rid Storey from his life and this tournament with one devastating strike!
‘The Idol’ is able to extinguish his shoulder from the mat, removing any hope for a victory at this point in the match!
‘The Iron Luchador’ stands and shakes his head at almost matching his previous Lord of the Ring record of reaching the semi-finals. Mark kneels and looks up at his foe, having almost been outsmarted, something that rarely happens to him. Knowing this, AJ holds his finger and thumb towards Mark with a miniscule gap between the two, mouthing “So close” before tapping the side of his head denoting that he is more intelligent that Storey. ‘The Initiator of Ingenuity’ doesn’t take this lightly, in fact it acts almost as a rocket, blasting him from the canvas and toward Morales. He sends a knee directly into AJ’s gut, then transitions into a headlock. In one swift motion, using every inch of momentum from the attack he can, AJ swivels and catches Mark in his own headlock. Caught in the position he once authored, Mark has no close but to slip backwards and turn into a hammerlock, clasping onto AJ’s hand and twisting it behind his on back. After wrenching on AJ’s arm, Mark lets go so he can club the back of AJ’s head with a forearm! Morales stumbles forward a little giving Mark the opportunity to grab him by the shoulder and pull him around to face him. ‘The Elite of Elites’ then toe pokes AJ in the gut and places the doubled over superstar’s head between his legs. The crowd jeer at Mark as he hauls AJ into the air. Upon reaching a powerbomb position, one well placed punch from AJ to Mark’s face causes Mark to lose enough balance and have the tide turn again. The Superkick obviously having lasting effects allowing AJ to throw his weight backwards in the air and flip Mark over, sending him crashing to the mat below with a huge hurricanrana!
Sanction: “My word that came out of nowhere! ”
Layton: “Haha! Perfect AJ! Sheer brilliance!”
Fenric: “Brilliance is Mark’s tactic right now: escape.”
Contrary to AJ’s personal goal of not letting the XWA Supreme Championship slip through his fingers, Mark was able to use the motion of the hurricanrana and landing to better his outcome slightly, rolling on the mat and straight out of the ring and onto his feet. He grabs his neck in pain, rolling and stretching it out, glaring at AJ in the process. ‘The Idol’ walks around the ring beside the barricade while the referee begins his count. Storey has his gaze with AJ broken by a sign being pushed towards his face from a fan in the front row reading “ACE ACID”. Immediately Mark flips and grabs the sign. He looks at it when it’s in his hands and then wastes little time in tearing it apart, first in half then into quarters before devolving into tearing it up in any way possible. The fan boos Mark before backing down as soon as Mark starts to get in his face. The irate superstar shakes and grabs his head looking down at the pile of tore pieces below him.
Sanction: “Storey is incensed! He has been tweeting ever since we saw the reveal of Ace Acid.”
Fenric: “It would also be apt to describe him as obsessed. He is obsessed with getting Acid to acknowledge him ever since Ace mentioned seemingly everyone from his past except Mark.”
Layton: “NOW! Fuck him up!!”
As if Mark could hear Emery shouting he looks up to see his adversary standing on the ring apron. Impatient, Morales jumps off of the barricade towards Mark, instantly resetting the referee’s meek count of three. Side-stepping any future harm, Mark forces ‘The People’s Hardcore Champion’ to readjust his trajectory and land on his feet. The impact of the landing causes the fan favourite to bounce a little as the pain jolts from his soles through his ankles. This is just enough leverage for Mark to wrap AJ’s arm around Mark’s own neck and use the jump to his advantage, lifting AJ with relative ease into the air and forcing his trajectory to change once again, this time spine-first into the top edge of the barricade with a Back Suplex! The crowd wince and their once cheers for a diving Morales turn back to boos for an advantageous Storey while they watch ‘The Revolution’ jerk forward to the floor, smashing against it then arching his back in pain until he’s kneeling. With the referee back at three already, Mark then pulls AJ by the air, which causes the referee to break his count and yell at him as Storey forces AJ into the ring, following him back into the squared circle. This time Mark can pin legally! The crowd boo as Mark applies a lateral press and the referee has no other option but to count.
Layton: “KICK OUT AJ!”
Once again, as if Emery’s voice was being heard despite her distance from the ring, her calls manifest in AJ being able to pull his shoulder off of the canvas and break the pinning attempt. The camera zooms in on Storey’s face, painted with an expression of shock which chameleons itself into rage which he directs straight at the referee, still over his opponent. Wayne argues with Mark that it was, in fact, a two count and not some sort of collusion between himself and AJ. Caught in the heat of the moment, ‘The Natural’ then finds himself literally caught by AJ, who shifts his position below Mark, wrapping his arm around Mark’s neck, flipping Mark over onto his back, now facing AJ’s chest, and tightening his hold with his other arm! Coquina Clutch! AJ’s version of the Rear Naked Choke called the Lethal Protector is proving exactly why it’s named that, protecting AJ’s chances in this match and tournament as well as being lethal to Mark Storey. The XWA Tag Team Champion kicks his legs desperately as he hysterically tries to escape the hole, only tiring himself out more in the process.
Fenric: “This was perfect from AJ, Mark’s neck is already hurt throughout this match and this will leave even more damage.”
Layton: “CHOKE HIM DADDY!”
The referee tries to question whether Mark gives up but it’s uncertain whether Mark can hear him over the cheers from the crowd or the ringing in his ears as he gasps for the air he’s being denied. Mark’s antics stop and he seems to collect himself which allows him to look around the ring and realise that he’s still quite near the ropes he entered just shortly before. AJ tightens his grip once again and starts to nod trying to will his wish for Mark to fall unconscious into existence. Stretching his leg, Mark’s foot grazes the bottom rope and almost immediately the atmosphere in the arena changes to a negative one once more, which somehow gives Mark the ability to dig a little deeper and hook his foot onto the rope, beckoning the referee to get AJ to release the hold. Agitated, despite being a fan favourite, AJ holds the submission just a little bit longer, prompting the referee to start a count, though he complies after the first.
Sanction: “I think we can all agree that had this been for AJ’s Hardcore Championship, Mark wouldn’t have been so lucky there. His foot on the rope would not have made any difference.”
Layton: “Mark has no chance against AJ. That’s WHY he hasn’t challenged for the title. The Revolution IS hardcore, he embodies it!”
Fenric: “You’re right Sanction, however, if this was a hardcore match, it would be a very different landscape right now. Mark would have introduced weapons almost immediately, as would have AJ.”
The referee approaches AJ who paces in the middle of the ring, knowing that he would have won if not for that rope break; he would have won if this were a hardcore match. Meanwhile, an injured Mark pulls himself to the nearing corner using the bottom rope, propping himself up using the bottom turnbuckle. He holds his neck in pain and stares at AJ, centred in the ring. ‘The Revolution’ motions for Storey to come at him with his arms, causing a look of disdain to grow across Mark’s face. He places his hand on the mat but instead feels fabric: his tshirt from earlier. He lifts it and positions it to show the “LX-TIM” print on the back straight toward AJ. “YOU HAVE NEVER BEATEN HIM!” AJ’s eyes widen and this time a look of disdain covers his face. Once again Emery can be heard yelling down her headset as Mark shouts once again. “YOU WILL NEVER BE SUPREME CHAMPION”. Closing his hands into a fist, AJ looks as though he is going to batter Mark into next month while Mark laughs and starts to get to a somewhat vertical base. After a brief pause and the boos for Mark’s claim die down, AJ quips back, yelling, “YOU’RE JUST A SHIT ACE ACID!” This is instantly adopted by the crowd and they all begin to chant and point to Mark in unison:
“YOU’RE JUST A SHIT ACE ACID!
YOU’RE JUST A SHIT ACE ACID!”
Layton: “HAHAHA! YOU’RE JUST A SHIT ACE ACID!”
Storey’s laugher turns back to the rage we saw earlier and he flings his tshirt from the corner and straight into AJ’s face, blinding him yet again in this match! ‘The Destined Deity’ then sprints, well tries to sprint as best he can, at AJ, dropping as he gets to him to hook an arm between his legs, hoisting the Hardcore Champion onto his shoulders. His tshirt goes flying into the air whilst he has AJ on his shoulders. Morales is not there for long however as Mark pushes him up and off his shoulders, allowing AJ to fall directly into Mark’s extended knee chin-first! GTS! The crowd erupt into boos once again as Mark utilises not his own finisher, but instead Ace Acid’s, the Shotgun Lobotomy! AJ collapses to the mat and Mark ignores his opponent, running straight owards the rope and bouncing into them chest-first, stopping and yelling out to the crowd and camera. “I’M A SHIT ACE ACID?! ME? ACE ACID IS NOTHING, YOU HEAR ME?” The Tag Team Champion points at the cameraman standing on the ring apron and motions for him to come closer, when he does so, Mark grabs the camera by the lens and continues to scream at anyone who will listen. “ACE ACID IS NO ONE. HE WILL NEVER BE ME. HE MEANS NOTHING TO ME.”
Sanction: “Mark has truly lost it. He’s still shouting. Ace Acid’s return has clearly got to him.”
Fenric: “AJ gave Mark a taste of his own medicine. Just like Mark knew Tim and the Supreme Championship was a sore spot for AJ, AJ came prepared and wound Mark up about Ace Acid. He’s pushed Mark over the edge, and at no better time too because he has gained some invaluable time here.”
Layton: “He is a hot head! We all know it, AJ is just smart enough to beat Mark at his own game.”
Fenric: “This is very unlike Mark. Rarely is his distracted THIS much, and rarely does anyone outsmart him. You have to wonder has the simple fact of Ace Acid returning shook his entire core?”
With Mark still screaming at the camera and the front row, he leaves himself susceptible to potentially the most advantageous superstar in XWA today, the Hardcore Champion. With enough time to recover somewhat, AJ stirs and focuses on Mark, attacking his prey like a lion attacking a gazelle, pulling Mark via his legs backwards with a roll-up! The official dives to the mat and the crowd jump up off of their seat, as does Emery!
Gasps are heard around the arena before being replaced by boos as Mark bursts out from the pin attempt just in the nick of time!
Sanction: “Oh my GOD! I thought that was it!”
Layton: “THAT WAS THREE!”
Fenric: “Oh wow, AJ is truly playing Mark at his own game here tonight. That was very reminiscent of Storey.”
Layton: “BUT THAT WAS THREE?”
It wasn’t. Proven by the fact that the referee didn’t call for the bell, Mark being able to roll out of the ring yet again and AJ on his knees in the ring, coming to terms with the fact that he did not seal the deal just then. Shaking his head Mark walks towards and then past the commentary table. He approaches the time keeper, who is now in possession of both titles (after they were retrieved earlier). Mark bends over and picks up not the XWA Tag Team Championship, but instead the XWA Hardcore Championship.
Layton: “HEY! HEY! THAT’S NOT HIS! HE’S DOING IT AGAIN!”
Fenric: “Mark is struggling to beat AJ here that he’s reverting to what he did last week to win! If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, and Mark looks to finish this contest in any way possible.”
Sanction: “He may need a new plan because here comes the rightful owner of that belt, AJ!”
Meeting ‘The Idol’ on the outside as he turns with the XWA Hardcore Title, AJ shakes his head and snatches his gold from Mark’s hands. Straight away Mark evades and runs back towards the ring, prompting a chase from AJ, belt in tow. Scrambling into the ring, Mark then scurries past the referee who stands between Mark and AJ as soon as AJ enters the ring. The official denies AJ the opportunity to use the Hardcore Title, whether he had any intention to do so, or just got caught up in the moment. The two grasp the title with the referee explaining he will disqualify AJ. Behind them ‘The Imperator of Innovation’ thrusts his hand into his trunks and pulls out a black and blue glove. He pulls it onto his right hand as quickly as possible and holds his covered fist close to his face inspecting the thumbtacks extruding from the knuckles: Tim’s LX-Glove! The referee gets a hold of the XWA Hardcore Championship and ducks between the middle and top ropes to pass it back out. The crowd are more vocal than ever trying to warn AJ of the impending doom as he passes the referee and sees Mark Storey running and leaping into the air, his fist cocked back. In a flash, Mark drives the thumbtack modified glove right into AJ’s face with his own Superman Punch finishing move Liberator using AJ’s nemesis’ trademark hardcore glove! The Hardcore Champion falls to the mat, as does Mark, who pulls the glove off and flings it out of sight just in time for the referee to turn around to a pinning attempt as Mark pulls both of AJ’s legs into the air!
Sanction: “The referee didn’t see it!”
The crowd boo and try to point out the glove on the outside of the ring but it’s of no use.
Layton: “COME ON AJ! KICK OUT!”
Feeling a slight weight shift below him, Mark uses one of his hands to hook the hem of AJ’s pants and leans into the pin even more.
Fenric: “Now he’s pulling on the tights!”
As soon as the hand slaps the mat, Mark is forced off of AJ, but it is too late. The British superstar rolls away as fast as possible and quite literally falls out of the ring. The cameraman rushes around to show Mark on all fours, grabbing the LX Glove and stuffing it into his pants once again. He exhaustedly lifts an arm in victory and gets to his feet.
Ramierez: “Here is your winner, advancing to the semi-finals of the Lord of the Ring tournament…Mark Storey!”
Layton: “FUCK THI-”
Layton’s sentence is cut off as she removes her headset and heads towards the ring amidst the boos and Mark’s theme blaring.
Fenric: “He had to steal AJ’s finisher, use LX-Tim’s weaponised glove AND pull the tights to advance here tonight. He couldn’t contain his hatred of AJ nor his hatred of Acid. Mark Storey is very lucky to have been victorious here tonight.”
Sanction: “Somehow I don’t think this is over between these two at all.”
The camera shows AJ in the centre of the ring, sitting down, with Emery having left the commentary table and kneeling beside him. The two converse exasperatedly as they glare every now and again to Storey, who becomes the focus of the camera as he walks backwards up the ramp, holding his neck with his right hand, holding his left hand as high as he can (which is sort of limp) and the LX Glove just poking out of the top of his pants as the feed fades to black.
Welcome back to XWA Massacre! We’re coming up on our second match of the night, one that the brackets weren’t exactly predicting would happen just yet…
You mean because Rev TC and the Lynx never even made it to ringside?
Rev T.C. claimed he was doing missionary work in Africa and couldn’t make it, and Lynx...I don’t know where he went, but the point is, Mark Storey got moved around in the bracket a bit, and now he’ll face A.J. Morales in a champion versus champion match!
Cracking! What are we waiting for? Let’s go already!
Emery doesn’t have to wait long to get her wish, as Hana Ramierez is already at the ready with her mic in hand.
The following contest is scheduled for one fall, and it is a Lord of the Ring quarterfinals match!
The arena falls to complete darkness and the cheering turns to vicious boos. An air of malice fills the arena in reaction to the first chord of “The Rains of Castamere” signalling the entrance of one XWA Tag Team Champion. A golden spotlight falls on Mark Storey, who stands facing the entrance curtain, his back to the audience, sporting his leather jacket and around his waist, on backwards, his XWA Tag Team Championship, allowing it to shine bright. But just like last time, he’s not alone, as Lx-Tim steps into the spotlight with a shit-eating grin and both his belts around his waist.
Introducing first, accompanied by the Supreme XWA Champion and one-half of the XWA Tag Team Champions, Lx-Tim...
That part alone is enough to get some serious boos.
...residing in Las Vegas, Nevada, weighing in at 215 pounds...he is one half of the XWA Tag Team Champions...the Natural, MARK! STOOOOOREEEEEEY!
Mark Storey comes into this with a controversial win over Albion Gale in the first round—
What do you mean? Fella, he needed Lx-Tim’s help and a cheap shot with a championship belt to get the win. Ain’t nothing contradictory—
Whatever the word is, just ‘cause everybody knows it was cheap don’t mean you gotta soften it up and act like people just disagree!
Regardless, the fact that Storied History are making their entrance as a duo confirms my suspicions as to Mark’s overall strategy for this tournament. He will rely on any and every shortcut, including those that Lx-Tim’s presence might provide, if it gets him to victory.
The two make their way to the ring, thriving off the crowd’s hostile reception. Once he reaches the ring, Storey simply rolls underneath the bottom rope and stands in the center. The same lighting change happens again as the arena falls to darkness, except for a single golden spotlight. Mark holds his arms out once more before removing his jacket and belt. The lights return to their regular setting as he makes his way to a corner, placing his things underneath the bottom rope. Tim, meanwhile, takes his place at ringside by that corner, riling up the fans nearby.
“A’right, stop, stop, hold on, hold on, hold on—”
To Storied History’s visible annoyance, an interrupting voice clip hits the PA. But instead of the usual music, the bassline of E-40’s “Slappin’” kicks in, and we hear an engine revving somewhere backstage. Meanwhile, the visual hallmarks of A.J.’s entrance—the gold lighting, the smoke machines, the XtremeTron highlight reel—go off as usual.
Wait, what’s this?
Sure enough, out rolls an old Pontiac with no top, a black paint job, and red five-point stars sprayed on the doors and the hood. Dontell Porter and Jason Moana each take one seat of the car, driving and vibing with the music, while A.J. Morales stands on top of the hood, strumming along to the bassline on his XWA Hardcore Championship while two more belts, one we’ve seen him with before and one we haven’t, hang around his waist in an X.
And his opponent, accompanied by the Red State Rising Tag Team Champions, Hyphy Machinery...from San Francisco, California, weighing in at 187 pounds...he is the SIX-TIME XWA Hardcore Champion, the SPW Pride Champion, and one half of the BGDF Yin Yang Champions...The Revolution! A! J! MOOOOORALEEEEES!
I see A.J. has been conducting proper research for this…
A.J., of course, kicked off this tournament with an absolutely thrilling clash against Blake Archer, and while he didn’t quite pick up the win the way he wanted, he’s had plenty of other victories since then to fuel his momentum here, including breaking Lx-Tim’s record for most Hardcore Championship reigns at Worlds Collide.
‘Course, me and Adam helped him out with that one…
By the way, Emery, congrats on you and A.J. getting engaged!
Awww, thank you!
May we cease the small talk? We have a match to cover, and we may miss a critical development if we do not pay attention to it.
Come off it, he’s just bein’ polite!
The car stops just short of the ring, and Dontell and Jason climb up onto the hood of the car to join A.J., flanking him on either side and holding matching title belts with red leather and silver plates. As Morales bows his head and continues holding the Hardcore belt high with one hand, he points at the other two belts with his free hand. Meanwhile, Porter and Moana hold their own championships up as they point finger guns Storied History’s way.
Mark Storey, on the other hand, certainly hasn’t been polite—in fact, he’s been demanding an XWA Hardcore title shot, even calling A.J. a coward for not putting it on the line. Nevermind that A.J. wasn’t the one to decide that it wouldn’t be on the line during his LOTR matches...
As the trio climb into the ring and a pair of XWA referees start pushing the car back up the entrance ramp, Tim seems to take the gestures as a challenge, and he steps into the ring himself. With Mark by his side, the XWA tag champs confront Hyphy Machinery, who have absolutely no issues talking trash to the both of them and letting A.J. give his usual raised-fist salutes to the crowd, blow a kiss to his new fiancée, set his jacket and championships aside, all that good pre-match stuff.
One more note...Hyphy Machinery suffered their first XWA loss in the Tag Team Classic against Storied History, and that victory was no more clean than Storey’s victory over Albion Gale last round. If this interaction is any indication, we can expect the animosity from that incident to spill over into tonight’s proceedings.
Once A.J.’s all ready to go, he gets behind his friends and joins in on the shit-talk, prompting referee Tommy Tickles to get in there and forcibly separate the two sides. Tickles orders all the non-combatants out of the ring, and once they’ve obliged, that leaves A.J. and Mark fairly close to the center of the ring, still bantering even as they separate and wait for the bell...
-DING DING DING!-
The two waste no time locking up, but rather than their collar-and-elbow tie-up leading to some chain wrestling, Storey starts kneeing Morales in the gut, which Morales is all too happy to return the favor on. Before long, the tie-up breaks down entirely, and the two start exchanging forearm shots to the chest.
A very aggressive start here from both these combatants!
Soon enough, though, A.J. lands an elbow smash to put himself in full control of the situation, and he’s all too happy to exploit it. He assumes a Muay Thai stance and unleashes a spinning backfist, which he transitions effortlessly into a roundhouse kick, which flows into a straight right hand, all of which lands before Mark can even process he’s taken one of those hits. Switching from Muay Thai to boxing, A.J. starts firing off body blows, left-right-left-right, and gets Mark practically immobilized before stepping back, switching back to Muay Thai, and...OOH, rushing Storey down with a flying knee! The Tag Team Champion gets absolutely laid out from the blow!
That’s it, fella! Show him who’s boss!
I must admit, the fluidity of A.J.’s strikes is among the best in this company today. I may not take his approach, but the difference between an average striker and someone like A.J. is something a keen observer can spot easily from inside or outside the ring.
A.J. starts gesturing to the crowd, hyping them up and encouraging their noise. But before he can feed off it for all that long, he spots Lx-Tim hopping up onto the apron and decides to give the Supreme Champion a reason to stay out of this...specifically, A.J. kisses his fist and charges Tim like he’s going for the Liberator. Tim, naturally, doesn’t feel like getting knocked out today and hops down from the apron, but Storey catches A.J. from behind with a dropkick, and the Revolution falls forward onto the top rope, staggered.
Oh, come off it! Storey can’t even get the edge without Tim!
Regardless, A.J. has got to be smarter than this. He cannot afford to let distractions sidetrack him, least of all when a distraction was partly responsible for A.J.’s making it to this round.
Oi! That was different and you know it!
Storey quickly gets up and grabs A.J.’s neck from behind, then turns the both of them around and falls backward, bouncing Morales off the ropes with a Russian leg sweep. The Natural then pivots around so he’s behind Morales again, gets him in a headlock, and—BAM!—drops Morales to the floor with an inverted DDT.
And now Storey’s starting to find his groove here…
The most interesting facet of Storey’s style, at least in my analysis, is his willingness to take standard moves and find inventive new angles and setups for them. With a creative mind like that, it’s no wonder he’s a 10-time world champion.
Morales, looking a little dazed as Storey backs up, starts climbing to his feet, but doesn’t make it to his feet for long before Storey comes at him diagonally and lays him out with a clothesline. The Natural stops to pose, his arms spread wide, and the fans boo him as usual, but then...
What in the fuck was that?
Mark turns around, thinking some fan has hopped the barricade to talk trash, and finds Dontell Porter leaning on the apron, but standing on the ringside floor.
That’s some weak-ass technique, fam, I could do that move better in my sleep!
Before Mark can even start to respond, another voice starts yelling at him from another direction.
Ain’t you supposed to be the Natural? You look like you got ass implants, bruh!
Aye, why the fuck this dude look like a ugly Ace Acid?
That last one seems to be enough to cross the line, as Mark angrily lets himself out onto the apron and drops down to confront the two. Dontell and Jason, of course, slowly back away in opposite directions and put their hands up.
A’ight, a’ight, chill!
Don’t worry ‘bout us, bruh, the match is in there! The match is in there!
Unfortunately for Mark, it turns out the match is NOT in there, or at least it isn’t anymore, as A.J. comes flying out through the ropes with a suicide dive and drives Mark right into the barricade.
And that is exactly why A.J. was wise to bring backup. Just as Tim can create openings for Mark, so too can Dontell and Jason do the same for A.J.
Not to mention they can keep bringing up Ace Acid...that alone could be a whole match’s worth of mind games, if A.J. wants it to be.
With Dontell and Jason hyping A.J. up, Morales quickly grabs Mark and drags him over to the apron, shoving the Natural back in the ring. Morales follows shortly after, and Storey doesn’t even reach his feet on his own before A.J. pulls him in again, grabs him by the waist, then lifts the Natural up and pivots around to...BAM! What a spinebuster! A.J. holds him down for the cover, but doesn’t hear the usual count from the referee. He looks around, confused, only to find Tommy arguing with Lx-Tim on the apron.
Oh, for...Tommy, you’ve gotta be smarter than this! It’s bad craic lettin’ Tim just lie to your face and keep you from doin’ your job!
Annoyed with this state of affairs, A.J. gets up and walks right up to Tim to ask what the fuck his problem is. The two start to jabber, and A.J. gets to the point of daring Tim to just pop him in the mouth and get Mark DQ’d already, but Tim isn’t nearly dumb or rage-blind enough to fall for it, so he just laughs in A.J.’s face and lets Mark surprise A.J. with a roll-up from behind.
But even with that, Storey is quick to lock in control of the match, getting down and starting a classic ground-and-pound on A.J.’s face. The referee gets in there and forcibly breaks it up, which Mark complies with...only to double back to the ropes behind him, bounce off, and...WHOA! A standing moonsault, right on top of A.J.’s chest! Storey hooks the leg…
A.J. kicks out!
All right, I can give Mark credit for that moonsault, right? I know how hard that is to pull off from right on the mat ‘cause of this one time back when I was wrestling El Spooko Grande in Mexico and he—
We do NOT have time for an El Spooko Grande story!
Fine! Point is it’s not easy, but he’s still a shithead for needing Tim to help him out.
Again, though, Mark isn’t discouraged, starting off another ground-and-pound as A.J. puts his arms up to avoid getting his head taken off. Once again, the referee has to forcibly separate the two and starts telling off Storey, but Storey just blows him off and watches Morales crawl to the ropes for support. The Natural slips his way past the referee and lines himself up, not directly in front of A.J., not to his side, but somewhere in between. Once the Iron Luchador gets to his feet and turns around...BAM! SUPERKICKED RIGHT UPSIDE THE JAW! Morales freezes up on the spot!
That Vagary might not have changed the momentum of the match too much, but I bet it sure as hell hurts!
With A.J. out on his feet, Storey quickly hooks an arm around A.J.’s neck, lifts Morales’s legs up into a cradle position, and...BAM! Another DDT!
Ooh, and now the Degradation!
Quite the combination there, but he needs to capitalize if he wants it to mean anything.
Storey turns A.J. over and makes the cover...
Dontell climbs up on the apron, catching the ref’s attention. As the two start to trade words, Jason climbs into the ring from an angle where the ref can’t see and jumps on the cover, making sure to throw a few elbows on Mark’s jaw and help A.J. up before leaving the ring again, at which point Dontell “accepts” the referee’s argument and gets back down off the apron again.
Doesn’t this bend the rules even farther than Tim has?
It’s just tat for tot—er, tot for tut—er...I might have that one mixed up. Point is, it’s fair play.
And we have seen Hyphy Machinery use other teams’ cheating tactics against them in the past, so it isn’t be too out of the ordinary for them to do what they just did.
A.J. certainly doesn’t waste his newfound positioning advantage, delaying Storey’s rise to his feet with shoot kicks at every opportunity. Once Mark finally does reach his feet, that’s of no concern, as A.J. just jumps up, catches him in a headscissors, and yanks him down with a hurricanrana, right into the traditional pin position…
Mark has to use his entire body to kick out of that one. Once he’s had a second to recover the extra energy he needed to expend, he starts climbing to his feet, then turns around and—BAM! Caught with a superkick straight upside the jaw!
I gotta say, Mark, I LOVE how you call that one!
A.J. backs away, getting all the way to the ropes behind him, then rushes back in and leaps at Mark, who gets popped in the mouth with the clothesline and falls flat on his back.
And now El DiaBlade!
It’s peculiar to see A.J. using it inside the ring and not to send Mark outside, but I would presume A.J. has a plan from here…
A.J. retreats once again, this time to the corner, looking back and forth between his clenched right hand and his opponent. A certain tension starts to build in the BattleZone; they know what’s coming. They know the end is near. A.J. kissing the sigil on his glove only confirms it further.
He’s calling his shot! Morales wants to put this one away!
And the sooner he does it, the better, because Mark Storey is certainly not the kind of competitor that one can afford not to press their advantage on.
Go on, fella, you got this...
The second Storey stands up, A.J. races out of his corner, he winds his fist up, launches off the canvas...WHAM! The Superman punch hits Mark right between the eyes!
That’s gotta be it right there!
With all the confidence in the world, A.J. drops down, hooks the legs, and waits for Tickles to make that count...
Lx-Tim quite literally snatches victory away from A.J., grabbing Tickles by both feet and yanking him out of the ring! A.J. looks around, trying to figure out what went wrong, and once he finds the ref at ringside arguing with Tim, the Revolution pounds the mat in frustration.
I agree! A.J. could well have had that!
This is Lx-Tim we’re talking about. Do you really think he’s not going to do everything in his power to make sure his tag partner doesn’t win?
Tim, of course, acts as smug as ever as Tickles yells at him, but the History Maker puts up a hand to stop the ref, as if about to de-escalate these tensions...only to then turn around, walk up to Emery’s side of the announce table, and start dangling the Supreme Championship belt right in front of her face.
Oi! I’m doin’ commentary!
Tim keeps egging her on, and she slowly stands up, not backing down for a second…
Ooh, look at me, I’m Lx-Tim and I can hold belts I don’t deserve up in the air!
Emery, please, just let it go—
Yeah, you’re lookin’ real brave there, intimidating me when I’m not cleared to—
PA-TOOEY! Tim spits right in the former Supreme Champion’s eye! The crowd pours boos on him like they’ll never get to boo anyone again!
A’right, dickbrain, that’s it!
Tim looks around, laughing his head off at this reception, then turns back to—WHAM! Emery smacks Tim upside the head!
Fenric discards his headset and slips behind Sanction to restrain his tag team partner. Emery, meanwhile, struggles to get free, not even remotely caring that Tim’s now just as provoked as she was a second ago. The crowd, meanwhile, takes over Tim’s old role of egging this fight on.
Leave it to the BattleZone to encourage this...not that I’m complaining.
The History Maker moves to climb over the desk and start fighting, but—WHABOOM! In come Hyphy Machinery, who clothesline him from either side and stop him dead in his tracks!
Oh, and now Tim’s caught up in Two-Way Traffic!
Before the referee can get in there and break this chaos up, Jason puts the Supreme Champion in a front facelock, while Dontell lifts Tim’s legs up and places them on his shoulders. Emery slips free of Adam’s grasp and starts clearing the table, throwing notes and monitors and drinks every which way to help clear the table. Meanwhile, in the ring, Mark Storey realizes that both A.J. and the referee are completely distracted with what’s happening on the outside, the latter trying to establish control, the former laughing at the misfortune his squad’s inflicting on Tim. Storey also realizes that the XWA Hardcore Championship is just sitting there in A.J.’s corner, waiting for someone to take it…
Go on, fellas, give ‘im the business! Go on, go on, go onnnnnn! Mark quickly retrieves the Hardcore title, and just as he looks up again...KER-SMAAAAASH! Hyphy Machinery slam Tim down like a ragdoll, collapsing the announce table in the process.
HAHAAAAA! EAT THAT!
TIM GETS THE SAN ANDREAS!
It’s what he deserves! That and a whole lot more, know what I mean? All that is exactly the distraction Mark needs. He runs back at A.J. and—CLANG!—clobbers the People’s Hardcore Champion in the back of the head with his own belt, then follows A.J. to the ground and keeps battering him until Morales has a nosebleed, all while the ref, totally unaware of what’s happening behind him, admonishes Dontell and Jason.
Wait, wait, look what Mark’s doing!
What are you on about—oh, no, no, not like this! Get back in this, A.J.!
Hyphy Machinery, for their part, don’t even pretend to be cowed. In fact, Jason points at Mark, who immediately discards the Hardcore title so as to not get caught if Tickles turns around, and starts making the classic “belt around my waist” gesture. This, naturally, only further encourages Tickles to eject the duo immediately, along with the still-dazed Tim for yanking Tickles out and sparking all this in the first place. Dontell and Jason promptly put their hands up and leave, high-fiving the fans on their way out, and Tim stumbles after them, clearly fixing to get some payback once he’s recovered.
FENRIC (putting his headset back on):
Finally! I’ve had quite enough of this interference nonsense, thank you very much.
But is it too late to overcome all the damage Mark inflicted with that belt?
Of course it’s not! A.J. can do this, go on, fella, you can do it...
Storey, meanwhile, grounds-and-pounds Morales until Tickles gets back in the ring, then drags the Revolution into position and starts climbing to the top rope. Once the Natural has himself perched up top, he spreads his arms wide for the crowd, soaking in the boos, then points at the Hardcore Championship with clear intent…
I believe I already know what Mark intends to take if he can make the win here.
That’s a big “if,” though, and don’t you dare say it’s just me being biased!
It is somewhat biased, but considering the kinds of comebacks A.J. has managed in the past, it’s not an unfair assessment...
Finally, Storey lowers his arms, makes sure of his aim one last time, and launches off the top rope. He gets his knees high, reaches the apex at just the right time, extends them in preparation to stomp the life out of...hold up, Morales is rolling away—THUNNNNK!
All that force, all that energy, enough power to crack Morales’s ribs if that stomp had connected, and Mark only hits empty canvas! He falls awkwardly onto his side, clutching both ankles in pain!
The Descent Upon Thee misses, and even if Storey comes back from that misfire, he might not be able to walk out of here on his own!
Perhaps he’ll be in need of my medical services...
A.J., meanwhile, senses the opportunity and starts heading for that same top turnbuckle where Mark just was. The Revolution goes into a crane stance and kicks the air twice before lowering his leg, wiping the blood off his face, and waiting for the right moment…
And now Morales has th—
Wait, wait, can I say it?
Sure, go ahead.
IT’S OVER, MARK! A.J. HAS THE HIGH GROUND!
Don’t tell me you and A.J. watched the prequels... Storey wobbles the entire way, the pain on his ankles too severe to stay steady for too long, but he doesn’t have to get to his feet for long before...BOOM! A.J. catches him with his patented avalanche spinning heel kick and sends Mark crashing to the floor!
He’ll have to see me for ankle and concussion problems at this rate. Storey’s taken an extreme amount of punishment tonight.
Not wanting his chance blown again, A.J. quickly hooks the leg for the cover...
-DING DING DING!-
YESSS! Knew he could do it! RAMIEREZ:
And your winner, by pinfall...THE REVOLUTION! A! J! MOOOOORALEEEEES!
It was messy, it was chaotic, it destroyed our announce table, but this match ends with A.J. Morales, for the second year in a row, moving on to the LOTR semifinals—and on top of all that, Mark and Tim may have to wonder about defending those tag titles in the near future.
A.J. stands up and lets the ref raise his hand in victory, and while he’s banged up, Mark is even worse for wear; the Natural is knocked out, and there’s a small trickle of blood from his forehead. Morales seems to notice this, because once his arm is free again, he walks over to the Hardcore title belt, picks it up, and makes a point to hold it up and step over Mark, Allen Iverson-style, on his way out of the ring and over to the commentators’ area, where Emery quickly gets up, steps over the table’s remains, and throws herself into a side-embrace with him. A.J., for his part, welcomes it, leaning his head on top of hers for a moment before he finds one of the ringside cameras.
This charmer right here, though...she just won the Union Battleground Championship and y’all ain’t gonna clear her? C’mon! You give her the rematch with Lx-Tim, she’ll kick his ass and be a double world champ, I guarantee it!
Of course he’s encouraging her to fight before she’s medically able...
You can’t say he doesn’t believe in her...anyway, we gotta go to commercial and get this announce table put back together, but when we come back, we have what could be the match of the night coming up, as Kelsey Spencer takes on Angelica Vaughn! Don’t miss it!
Mark Storey What I liked:
The entire opening portion was very well done. Storey having to come out first after attacking his last opponent during the entrances, cutting off Hana, the outside brawl, Storey trying to end A.J. early, all the way up to A.J. getting the advantage by using Mark's shirt and landing the Fuckin' Slayerrr. Loved the entirety of that. I also really liked all the Ace Acid stuff. The whole angle that's been building between Jeff's segment, Storey's Tweets and this match has me very intrigued. The action and descriptions, as per usual with you, were great and I think you did a really good job with highlighting both characters' personalities, as well as continuing off of the Twitter beef they had.
What I disliked:
Wasn't much of a fan of Emery's commentary. I understand being A.J.'s fiancee and hating Mark, but it definitely came across as far too biased, especially for one of the top faces in the company. That said, I can't really fault you too much for this, given that you have to use people we're not used to using on commentary. I had trouble using them, myself. I did like your usage of Fenric, though. Overall, though, commentary is never a big factor in my decision for matches. There's just not a whole lot for me to dislike with this post. The only other thing I can really think of, and this is also a very small bit, the 'You're just a shit Ace Acid' chant. I liked A.J. saying it, but that just feels like such an awkwardly paced thing for the crowd to chant, even if it was said. I think it'd have been better if they just chanted 'Shit Ace Acid'.
Personal Favourite Part:
A lot to choose from here, but I have to go with the finish. Storey not only paying tribute to Tim by using his signature thumbtack-covered glove, but using it with A.J.'s Superman Punch was brilliant. Plus, I loved the added detail of Storey grabbing the tights at the last moment when he thought A.J. would kick out. A small thing that was a very nice touch to an already great heel moment.
Personal Least Favourite Part:
The majority of Emery's commentary. I already talked about this in the 'what I disliked' bit, but yeah. I felt like, if I was watching an actual match, Emery would've annoyed the hell out of me for the entirety of it.
Constructive Criticism for Next Time:
Make Emery less blatantly biased and more face-ish. Outside of that, there's not really much I can tell you that you don't already know. You've been doing this just as long as me, after all.
Overall, I was very pleased with this. The biggest upside for me was that you managed to build on the Mark/Ace story without neglecting A.J./Mark. The storytelling was great in this and it had one of my favorite finishes I've read recently.
A.J. Morales What I liked:
You also had an aggressive start to the match, which I enjoyed. Your descriptions were good and the final portion, once all the shenanigans ended, picked things up.
What I disliked:
My biggest gripe with the match was how insanely heel the faces came off as. I get trying to make things even between the heels and faces, but Hyphy's usage leaned far too much towards heel. Emery encouraging it, as well. I talked about Storey making Emery seem too biased and that was also a problem here. She came off as hypocritical, rather than in support of 'evening the odds'. The entire part where Hyphy puts Tim through the commentary table was weird. Storey not doing anything to help his partner (even as a heel, their friendship seems important enough that he would try to help) and A.J. and everyone else just watching and becoming so easily distracted.
Personal Favourite Part:
When Hyphy Machinery finally left and the match became about Storey vs. A.J., rather than about the people at ringside. That's when I was able to start enjoying things more.
Personal Least Favourite Part:
I'm just gonna go ahead and highlight the entirety of Hyphy Machinery's part in this match. I felt like you would've been far better off completely excluding them and having A.J. try to win an unfair game on his own, rather than try to out-heel his opponent. Or, like Storey did, having Tim barred from ringside and making this a full one-on-one. Also, their trash talk in the match came off as far too cringey. Ass implants, especially.
Constructive Criticism for Next Time:
Your foundation is great. Your descriptive ability is great, you can think of really fun action and you can tell a story. But you really gotta let the faces be the faces. I don't think every face should be cookie cutter and generic. They can have edge to them. But A.J., Emery and Hyphy Machinery came across as more heel than Storey and Tim at parts of this match.
Not really much to add here. I think your post could've done a lot better without the shenanigans, especially since it started to get good once those were ended. That just happened far too late.
---- The Person Getting My VOTE: Mark Storey Overall Match Comments: This wasn't really a close match for me, unfortunately to say. I feel Mark had a great post full of really storytelling and character usage, whereas A.J.'s post put far too much focus on the shenanigans of the people at ring-side and made the faces come across way too heelish. I hope these two have a rematch in the future, though. Especially for the Hardcore Championship. I'd love to see what could be done by these two in a match with no rules that, hopefully, just focuses on the two beating the shit out of each other, especially with the Twitter buildup.