“Rolling Stone” by Falling in Reverse hits the speakers, and from a cloud of fog, “The Revolution” A.J. Morales emerges, a smile on his face and a fist raised in the air. The crowd receives him warmly, with a noticeably higher pitch to the cheers than most of the guys get. The sight of female fans swooning in the front rows helps explain why.
Sanction: And here comes The Revolution!
On closer observation, A.J.’s clothing is much more casual than it has been in his previous appearances. He’s substituted his trademark leather jacket with an Adidas track jacket, his white muscle shirt with an Alestorm T-shirt, and his boots with a pair of Vans.
Tempest: A.J. Morales has wasted no time in making a name for himself in the XWA. He’s put on two exciting, fast-paced matches here, one in Brazil, one in Australia--and more importantly, he won them both.
Sanction: He’s also a very outspoken competitor, as one good look at his Twitter will prove.
Tempest: Yeah, but it’s easy to talk shit on the Internet. Let’s see if he’s anywhere near as intense in person.
As he gets in the ring, he holds out a hand towards the timekeeper’s area. A referee tosses him a microphone, which he catches with one hand. He thanks the ref with a quick nod, then turns to the crowd.
Morales: Captain Blondstreak’s log: this place is electric tonight! What’s good, Massacre?
A hail of crowd noise.
Morales: All right, all right, I got three things I want everybody to know before I leave this ring. First off...these past three months with the XWA have been the best time of my life.
A.J. pauses to let the crowd cheer, only raising his mic back up when he feels they’re ready for him.
Morales: Seriously, this right here is something I never thought I’d get to do. Traveling all over the world, fighting for an audience of thousands, meeting beautiful women everywhere I go…
Loud swooning noises.
Morales: …yeah, I see you right there in the third row. Haha…OK, but for real, this is the life everybody dreams about as a kid when they see their heroes on TV, and without all of you coming to the shows and screaming your hearts out, I wouldn’t be able to live it. So thank you. All of you.
A.J. pauses to let the crowd get their cheers in.
Morales: And in honor of that, I’m gonna do everything in my power to give you all your money’s worth, because—message #2—I’m officially on the card for the next Massacre, right here on this very boat!
Another round of cheers.
Morales: But here’s the thing...what I’m about to say next might convince certain people around here that maybe an A.J. Morales match isn’t worth seeing. That I’m a mutineer. A troublemaker. An inconvenience. But I guess a guy who goes around calling himself “the Revolution” has to start a ruckus at some point, right?
A slight murmur starts to rise from the crowd. They’re not quite sure where this is headed. A.J., meanwhile, gets into a more expressive state of mind, and as he tells his story, he starts making use of hand gestures to accentuate it.
Morales: See, I grew up right in the heart of San Francisco. I lived in the kind of neighborhood that all the middle-aged white people in the suburbs were afraid to go to, and all their kids pretended they lived in, even though, let’s be real, deep down, they were just as afraid. The kind of neighborhood where there’s graffiti all over every wall of every side street. The kind of neighborhood where all the kids who can’t get into a bar yet get together and do donuts in empty parking lots and blast hyphy music until the crack of dawn. The kind of neighborhood where you gotta stay alert walking the streets at night, because you never know who’s behind you looking to run your jewels. But the neighborhood I lived in until I was 12? The one that all the rich people used to look down on and avoid? Now they love it so much, they all moved in and jacked the rent up 3000 fuckin’ percent and drove all the poor people who lived and worked and brought those streets to life right outta there. Like, you go down my old street now, and it’s like…
He begins to point in random directions with every item on his list.
Morales: ...yoga studio, Starbucks, artisan cupcakes, some weird bar where the cheapest thing is like $15 and they only serve drinks in mason jars…
Somebody in the crowd catches A.J.’s attention.
The fan yells to A.J. again, though the microphones don’t quite pick up what they’re saying.
Morales: No, seriously. Tech workers are fuckin’ weird, dude.
A.J. turns back to the crowd at large.
Morales: Point is, you walk the streets I walked as a kid now, and it’s like people like me were never there. Everything is just safe and clean and pretty and sooooo Goddamn boring. There’s no culture there anymore. There’s no...there’s no life anymore, man. And when you get kicked out of neighborhood after neighborhood because suddenly all the landlords want to charge $5000 a month, not including any utilities, to the point that it takes becoming a globetrotting sexy luchador just to be able to afford a place in your hometown again, you tend to learn a few things. Like how I learned that when you let enough rich assholes into a vibrant, eclectic environment with a genuine sense of community, they tend to run amok and drive everybody out until everything around them is made in their image. Well, I hate to say it...but there’s a force like that in this company, and they wanna do the same damn thing. They’re out here trying to take everything this company has for themselves and make this place as soulless and as depressing as most of them are to just be around for five minutes.
A.J. pauses for effect, but only for a second or two.
Morales: Look, you know who I’m talking about. Y’all ain’t stupid. It’s the Survivors.
The crowd starts booing at the mere mention of the group.
Morales: Now, thankfully, they’re not there yet. We still have plenty of big personalities keeping this place exciting. We have somebody you’ll be seeing very soon tonight, everybody’s favorite Windy City Daredevil, Austin Carter.
The crowd cheers at the mention of Austin’s name.
Morales: We got Layton & Fenric, the hottest tag team on the fuckin’ planet.
A louder cheer rises for the reigning tag champs.
Morales: We got masters of the squared circle, like our reigning Lord of the Ring, Mike Swift...
Another cheer, this one at a slightly higher volume level.
Morales: ...and we got people who will fight and scratch and claw until they physically can’t anymore, like Smith Jones.
The crowd practically explodes. A.J. takes his time, lowering his mic slightly and letting the deck fill with chants of “SMITTY! SMITTY! SMITTY! SMITTY!”
Morales: And I know he already came out here and did his rallying cry, but Smitty…
A.J. aims his gaze right down the hardcam.
Morales: ...Smitty, if you’re listening backstage, I know Hana always says there’s only one of you, but this time, you’re not alone. As long as I’m here, as long as the millions of people all over the world who watch this show are here, you will never be alone in this fight.
The crowd cheers again, and a small but still audible portion chants “GET THE SHOVELS!”
Morales: And as for the Survivors...I know I haven’t been here as long as any of you. I know I came here solo after spending most of my career working tag team matches. I know that, realistically, by calling you and all your various goons out, I’ve put myself in a situation where the deck is stacked against me, and it probably will be for a long, long time. But you know what else I know? I know what it means to have my back against the wall. I know what it means to lose the home I love, because that already happened to me once. And I know that if you try to take this new home from me, I will fight with every breath I have to keep it. And if you still don’t get the message, or if you’re too busy sticking your fingers in your ears to listen...Survivors...you better brace yourselves. The Revolution is coming for you.
As his music hits again, A.J. bows his head and raises the mic above it. He waits a couple seconds, drops the mic, and clenches his hand back into a fist. He keeps it raised until he’s climbed out of the ring, at which point he makes his way to the back, giving out fist bumps and making brief conversation with those in the crowd he recognizes.
Sanction: How’s that for intense?
Tempest: Two declarations of war on the Survivors in one night? This is gonna make for some interesting stuff!
Sanction: But with A.J.’s next appearance announced well in advance, how will the Survivors respond?
Tempest: Nevermind that, we have questions that need answering now! Like how good Austin Carter and Trevor Miller are as a tag team!
Sanction: When we come back, the debut of GRVITY 2.0! Don’t change that channel.
Fade to commercial.
All-show promo section! Grab the mic, take to the ring and drop the pipebomb on other XWA wrestlers here.
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