We return from a commercial break just in time to hear that interrupting voice clip before the opening riff to "Reverse This Curse" by Escape the Fate hits the PA. The lighting near the entrance turns gold, vapor starts hissing out of the fog machines, and a highlight reel of clips from A.J. Morales's past matches starts to play.
Welcome back to XWA Massacre, where it looks like we’re gonna hear from Captain Blondstreak!
This is gonna be good...something crazy’s gonna happen, I can feel it.
But the Revolution doesn’t walk out from behind the curtain at the point where he usually would, and the cheers from the crowd slowly start to turn to confusion.
Hey! Hey! Over here!
The producers start flipping between camera angles, trying to find the source of the voice, and when they do, the crowd cheers again. It turns out A.J. isn’t backstage at all; he’s snuck out into the crowd, and he now stands near the edge of the deck, still wearing his pirate costume, with a microphone in one hand and his other arm wrapped around the neck of...someone. It’s not 100% clear who they are, given what we saw A.J. doing earlier in the show, but he’s put a loose drawstring bag over their head for the moment.
Captain’s Log...I’m about to do some old-school pirate shit. What’s good, Massacre?
The crowd cheers, as they always do when he asks that question, and a couple nearby fans reach out to him. Seeing this, A.J. quickly gives them fist-bumps, then brings the mic back up to his face.
A’right, I don’t know if y’all saw what happened in the back earlier tonight, but lemme just get y’all up to speed. See, before we started this voyage, I had a date with destiny. I had a GWP world title match on Massacre back in the BattleZone. And I would be standing here today as the GWP World Heavyweight Champion, if it wasn’t for the fact that some asshole came along and fucked with the lights so I wouldn’t see it coming when I got rolled up.
The crowd doesn’t like that that happened any more than A.J. does, going by the boos.
And this wasn’t even the first time they tried it, ‘cause I’ve had three XWA matches in a row where they pulled that stunt. Now, I have it on good authority that during that world title match, somebody who runs with Kaida Kagome and her group of...ahem…
A.J. makes air quotes as best as he can, given both his hands are full.
...Very Nice Gentlemen…
Morales rolls his eyes.
...went in the production truck that controls all that stuff. And given when they did that, I think it’s pretty fair to assume that whoever it was, they’re the one who’s been fucking with all my matches lately, they’re the one who screwed me out of finally winning a world title...and once I know who this coward really is, they’re gettin’ knocked the fuck out.
The crowd cheers, and chants of “A-J! A-J!” start up for a few seconds. He waits for them to die down, then gets back to his point.
But if I’m gonna be the Slayer here, I can’t just load up a crossbow fulla stakes and start blasting anything that moves, right? I mean, even if I get all six of the Stars together to help me out, we’re still talking about an organized crime syndicate. They have the numbers advantage. They can overpower us easily. And even if I get to Kaida herself, I think we all know by this point she’s not just some hack in the ring. She’s tough. She’s skilled. She’s fearless. I’m not gonna be able to just beat the information I need out of her unless I wanna get into a deathmatch first.
A.J. pauses for dramatic effect...
So I decided to bring a little leverage.
A.J. yanks the bag off his captive’s head, and there’s an immediate shout from the crowd. Just as many of them suspected, it’s Aki Yasuko, still knocked out from getting slammed into the camera earlier, with a small trickle of blood on her face from the impact.
Kaida-kisama! ¡Mírame, cabrón! I got one of your lieutenants right here. I tried to get the answers outta her, but she wouldn’t tell me which one of y’all stuck their nose in my business. And I need to know who did it, man...that’s worth like 50 treasure chests of gold to me right now, and I don’t wanna have to run through all those “Very Nice Gentlemen” that work for you just to get it. So here’s what we’re gonna do...if you come out here and tell me which one of your people went in that production truck, I’ll let Yasuko go. Even if it turns out she was the one that did it, I’m gonna let her rest up before I come to collect. But if it turns out you gave me the wrong name, then you and every single person that runs with you is gonna pay for it. And if you don’t show up at all? Well...
A.J. leans back and peers into the waters below.
...I mean, she did spend all these years plotting her revenge...it’d be a shame if she got bitten by a shark and it turned out the whole thing was for nothing...
This gets a divided response—on the one hand, this is a hostage situation, but on the other hand, the hostage is somebody the crowd hates. But it’s a loud response nonetheless, and A.J. takes it in stride as he rolls up his sleeve to reveal a stopwatch on his wrist.
You’ve got five minutes, Kaida. Make ‘em count.
A.J. presses a button on the stopwatch, then looks up, staying on his guard in case somebody decides to answer by bum-rushing him. The crowd, meanwhile, starts buzzing with everything from confusion to excitement to disbelief.
Look, I know Yasuko’s not the most upstanding person on the roster, but...come on! Holding her for ransom, threatening to throw her overboard...is that really the right way for A.J. to do this?
I mean...it’s a creative way, if nothing else.
You just wanna see somebody get thrown off the boat again, don’t you, Temps?
That was the funniest part of the whole cruise last year! Why wouldn’t I wanna see it happen again?
Because—God, I can’t believe we have to go over this again...
[TAG to Kaida Kagome and/or her known associates]