Lord of the Ring kicks off. The Summer is here, it's...
Taped from the XWA BattleZone in Chicago, Illinois (1500 Capacity) Broadcast exclusively on The Xperience!
XWA Lord of the Ring Opening Round, Group Three Match D
A.J. Morales vs. Blake Archer
Our opening match sees two of our most exciting competitors go head to head. A.J. Morales participated in his first Lord Of The Ring last year, reaching the semi-finals before being knocked out of the running. But that was last year, this year he returns to try his luck again, only this time he faces Blake Archer, holder of XWA's "Golden Ticket", looking to add another title opportunity to his collection.
Who wants it more? Can A.J. overcome Archer? Will Blake's bitter rival Levinator get involved? Who has the WETTER HAIR? As we open #LOTR2018, we endeavour to at least answer one of these questions...
WORD COUNT: 4000
-------- Deadline for matches is 13th June 2018 at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time. Voting will start at this time and conclude on 18th June 2018 at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time. [CST is one hour earlier. GMT is five hours later.]
So...this is what I would normally consider an embarrassingly rough cut, but my train of thought is devolving into a word salad from being awake over 24 hours in a row for the second time this week and I need some sleep so I can actually write. I'll add the match parts, commentary, and all the other stuff that needs filling in after my brain gets some coherence back. Peace!
[Intro pyro and stuff]
MARK SANCTION: Welcome, everyone, to the BattleZone in Chicago, and welcome to XWA Massacre! I’m Mark Sanction, and joining me on commentary while Tempest is on vacation, we have one of the most decorated duos in XWA today: former Tag Team, Hardcore, and 2-time Television Champion Adam Fenric...
ADAM FENRIC: It’s a pleasure to be here.
SANCTION: ...and former Tag Team and Supreme Champion, not to mention last year’s Lord of the Ring, Emery Layton!
EMERY LAYTON: Oi oi!
SANCTION: Tonight, we kick off another year of one of XWA’s most time-honored traditions: the Lord of the RIng Summer Tournaments, where 24 incredible combatants from around the wrestling world will compete for a shot at the Supreme XWA Championship, which they can cash in anytime and anywhere they like.
HANA RAMIEREZ: The following contest, scheduled for one fall, is the first opening-round match of the 2018 Lord of the Ring Summer Tournaments!
The BattleZone gives a deafening roar of cheers. They know what kind of roller coaster they’re in for, and they’ve been waiting for this moment for God knows how long.
”A’right, stop, stop, hold on, hold on, hold on—“
Suddenly, A.J. Morales's custom edit of "Champion" by Falling in Reverse hits the PA, causing another loud pop of cheers. As the lights near the entrance ramp turn gold, vapor starts hissing out of the fog machines and A.J.’s personal highlight reel starts to play on the XtremeTron. The Revolution himself emerges from behind the curtain, holding the XWA Hardcore Championship like a guitar, headbanging and strumming along with every note as he approaches the ring.
The music suddenly comes to a stop, aside from a distant-sounding voice, and A.J. stops too, leaning forward and bringing his arms close in.
With a primal scream, the instruments kick back in, two columns of fire go up on either side of the stage, and A.J. brings his arms wide and screams to the sky. As the scream in the song ends, so too do the flames, and A.J. quickly puts the XWA Hardcore Championship back on around his waist. Then, he starts to make his way down to the ring, giving out high-fives and fist bumps to those who reach out for them.
RAMIEREZ: Introducing first...from San Francisco, California, weighing in at 187 pounds...he is the XWA Hardcore Champion and one-half of the BGDF Yin Yang Champions...The Revolution! A! J! MOOOOOORALEEEEES!
LAYTON: That’s my fella right there!
SANCTION: Last year’s Lord of the Ring set A.J. on the path to success he’s walking today, with a run that took him all the way to the semifinals, where the Jester finally stopped him, and earned him enough notice to get his first crack at the Hardcore Championship he’s now held pretty much nonstop since last October. But with the progress he’s made and the pedigree he’s built up since then, you have to think A.J.’s an even scarier opponent to face this year.
FENRIC: I’ve certainly observed him gradually accumulating a variety of new techniques—not simply in the aerial and pugilistic departments, but in terms of strength-based maneuvers and submission holds.
”(WHOOOOOOOA-OH!) I rise above it all and I’m not coming down…
(WHOOOOOOOA-OH!) Because a champion is what they call me!”
A.J. reaches the end of the ramp and climbs onto the apron, steadying himself.
”(OHHHHHH!) I rise above it all and I’m not coming down”
As the song launches into its chorus, A.J. vaults over the top rope with a somersault before popping up with a clenched fist salute, turning a full 360 degrees so everyone in the audience gets to see him head on.
”(WHOOOOOOOA-OH!) Because a champion is what they call me now”
Then, he quickly climbs the nearest turnbuckle and undoes the loosely-tied title belt he’s about to defend. Finding the nearest SkyCam, he looks right down the lens as he holds up the championship in one hand.
”And I’m not backing down (HEY, HEY, HEY!)
I will stand my ground (HEY, HEY, HEY!)”
A.J. starts mouthing along with the music, punctuating both lines by looking to the crowd and pumping his fist in time with the heys, before jumping back down to the canvas and shifting his gaze to the hardcam.
”(WHOOOOOOOA-OH!) Because a champion is what they call me
A champion is what they call me noooooow, huh!”
A.J. keeps lip-syncing and looking right at the camera until then song moves on to a verse. Once it does, A.J. walks over to the side of the ring closest to the commentator’s desk, pointing over at Emery.
[Emery line of banter]
A.J. blows his cielito a quick kiss, waits for her to reciprocate with one of her own, then heads back over to his corner, where he lays his championship belts down, hangs his entrance jacket over the ring post, and starts limbering up for the fight to come...
♫ Reach out and touch faith. Your own, Personal Jesus. Someone to hear your prayers. Someone who cares. Your own Personal Jesus. Someone to hear your prayers. Someone who's there. ♫
Blake Archer steps out from behind the entrance, Golden Ticket briefcase in his hand, a red and black mask covering most of his face. He holds his fist up above his head and than precedes to make his way towards the ring. He reaches his hands out to his sides touching fingertips with those stretching out to touch him.
RAMIEREZ: And his opponent...hailing from Canton, Ohio, standing six foot nine, weighing in at 295 pounds...he is the GWP World Heavyweight Champion, and the winner of the XWA Golden Ticket...the King of Canines! BLAKE! AAAARCHERRRRRR!
[talk about orbital bone injury]
FENRIC: Regardless, I believe Archer poses as significant of a threat to Morales as Morales does to Archer. The areas where Blake is at his most comfortable—mat grappling, escaping holds, displays of strength—are precisely the areas where A.J. is least equipped to mount an effective response. This will certainly come down to whoever can
♫ Feeling's unknown and you're all alone Flesh and bone by the telephone Lift up the receiver I'll make you believer. ♫
Archer stops and hits the steel ring steps, then climbs them to the ring apron and steps over the top rope into the ring. His charming smile is on his face while he poses for each side of the ring, striking a reaction out of the fans. Once he’s done all four sides, he lays out his GWP world title and his Golden Ticket briefcase in his corner before approaching the center of the ring. A.J. meets him there, and the two touch gloves before they start circling around the ring, giving the referee reason to call for the bell.
SANCTION: Here we go, people! Lord of the Ring 2018 starts...
-DING DING DING!-
Morales and Archer continue to circle the center, each one feeling the other out in his own way. Blake takes swipes in A.J.’s direction, looking to initiate a tie-up or a test of strength, while A.J. throws shoot kicks and jabs to try and keep himself at a safe distance.
Over time, the distance between the combatants starts to shrink a little, even as they continue to circle. Archer, ever the seasoned veteran, notices his swipes at Morales getting closer to hitting the target, and when Morales throws another jab, Archer doesn’t hesitate to grab A.J.’s wrist and pull the Revolution in. From there, Blake applies a bodylock and leans back to fling A.J. overhead...THUD! A crisp belly-to-belly suplex, and Morales lands back-first on the canvas, the impact making a satisfying sound that reverberates through the venue.
A.J. quickly gets himself together and gets back up, going almost directly into a Muay Thai stance and going for a rapid-fire series of elbows and knees, hoping to overwhelm Blake with so much offense that the extremely tight quarters won’t matter much. It seems to work for a second or two, but all Blake needs is a quick shove to establish an opening for himself. From there, the King of Canines grabs the Revolution’s neck with one hand, then the left thigh with the other as he starts to lift A.J. up. Once Blake has A.J. up high enough, the Golden Ticket holder fully extends his arms, audibly wowing the crowd.
No one is more aware of how high up A.J. is than A.J. himself, who starts frantically kicking his legs and trying to get free, to little effect. Blake just keeps holding A.J. up there...holding him...he finally lets go by pretty much just walking out from under A.J. and letting gravity do the rest. The Revolution lands with another loud THUD!, right in the center of the ring, and bounces back up just enough to turn over so he lands on his back the second time, setting Blake right up to get down and make the first cover of the night…
Morales kicks out, but Blake stays with him, trying to lock in some kind of working hold before A.J. can even get off the ground.
Morales, however, isn’t having anything of it, and he elbows Blake in the forehead. Even with the mask protecting him, Blake can’t help but feel the impact of that, and he loosens his grip enough for A.J. to slip free.
Morales and Archer each rise to their feet, and this time, Morales doesn’t waste his time going back to the same well. He runs towards his opponent, tags Archer with a quick kick to the thigh, and doesn’t stop running until he’s safely out of grabbing range, at which point A.J. stops on a dime and pivots to face Blake again.
Before Archer can even turn around to face Morales again, the Diamond Slayer is already on his way in for seconds. This time, A.J. leads with a flying knee, which catches Blake on the side of the gut, but once again, A.J. slips out of range before Blake can retaliate. In fact, Morales keeps going all the way to the ropes before turning around so he can rebound off them and come back at Blake with even more momentum.
Morales gets back within range and leaps at Blake looking for a slingblade, but this time, Blake is prepared. He gets his hands up and gets them on A.J.’s chest before A.J. can start to swing around his neck, and with that leverage, Blake turns A.J. around and shoves him away, sending the Revolution stumbling backwards until he’s trapped in a neutral corner. With little time to waste, Archer chases Morales down and—WHAM!—just whallops Morales with a clothesline, trapping the Hardcore Champion in the corner.
Morales holds the ropes and leans forward, trying to steady himsel—WHAM! Another clothesline puts him back in his place. WHAM! Clothesline number three, and Archer’s settling into a rhythm. WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! Each shot seems to rattle A.J. a little more until finally—WHAM!—one of them hits so hard that Morales falls forward and just faceplants onto the canvas.
Archer makes sure to turn A.J. over and drag him a good ways away from the ropes before finally hooking a leg to make the cover...
Morales kicks out, but it’s clear which way the scales are tipping right now. Even the chants from the crowd are reflecting the state of the match...
The King of Canines gets up, and as he grabs A.J. by the wrist, there’s a bolstered confidence in Blake’s movements, almost like he can toy with his opponent. But Morales isn’t about to quit the fight any time soon, as he shows when he swings his free arm and catches Blake on the chest with a European uppercut, making a loud SMACK! in the process. The hit catches Blake off-guard, but he recollects his focus fairly quickly and responds with—SMACK!—a European uppercut of his own, which sends A.J. reeling back a couple steps, to the point of almost being at the ropes.
Blake follows, looking to capit—SMACK! Another European uppercut! It doesn’t send Blake reeling, but it does knock him back a half-step. The GWP champion stays where he is for a moment and gives a subtle nod of respect...SMACK! Blake retaliates with yet another European uppercut, which sends A.J. all the way to the ropes.
A.J. bounces back off the ropes, and Blake sets up for a back body drop, looking to pick the Revolution up on the rebound. But Morales goes high instead, jumping at Blake and catching the GWP champion in a headlock. He leans back and pulls Blake down...BAM! A.J. takes Blake down for the first time tonight, and the initial canvas impact goes straight to Blake’s face.
As soon as he knows he hit the move, A.J. turns Blake over and goes for the cover…
Blake kicks out, but A.J. springs off him and heads for the ropes. A.J. doesn’t know how long the tides will be in his favor; he just knows he wants to ride that wave as long as he possibly can. So he lets himself out onto the apron on the nearest side of the ring, steadies himself, then vaults up to the top rope and leaps off into a crossbody, landing right across Archer’s torso.
Rather than go for the cover, A.J. gets back up and goes to the nearest corner, starting to climb as Blake starts to get up. Morales waits until Archer is fully standing to leap off with an elbow drop, but this proves a major mistake, as Archer gets under Morales and catches the Revolution out of the air, right into a fireman’s carry.
Before A.J. can even start to struggle to get free, Blake falls back into a Samoan drop, which he then bridges into a cover…
Morales kicks out and shakes his head back and forth. How did he let himself caught in that? He has to be smarter...
Realizing how close Blake is, and that Blake isn’t exactly in a rush to get off the mat, A.J. grabs Blake’s wrist and starts using it as leverage to try and reel himself into position for a cross armbar. A.J. manages to get most of the way there, too, but before he can fully lock it in, Archer figures out the right way to wriggle and slips his arm free. The King of Canines then scrambles to his feet, grabs A.J.’s legs, and gets the Revolution caught in an old-school Boston crab.
A.J. screams involuntarily from the pain, but it’s nowhere near enough to completely overwhelm him, and besides, he knows where the ropes are. Slowly, but surely, the Revolution crawls on his forearms to the ropes and manages to grab one to force the break and prompt Archer to let him go.
But Blake isn’t done with this offensive run, not by a long shot. Practically the second that the Golden Ticket holder reaches his feet, he drops an elbow right onto A.J.’s back, then rolls to the side. Once Archer’s back to his feet, he again goes for an attack to keep Morales down, this time landing a kneedrop that immediately turns to a forward roll and a pop up back to his feet.
Finally, Blake hangs back long enough for A.J. to start using the ropes to climb back up to his feet. But even then, that’s no avail for A.J., as the second the Revolution turns around, he finds himself caught on his feet, one leg hooked and off the ground. With picture-perfect technique, Archer brings A.J. up and over into a fisherman suplex, bridging once again for the cover…
Morales kicks out again with practically his entire body, just to make sure Archer can’t keep the leg hooked, then starts wildly punching Archer from whatever angles he can manage, just to try and keep the King of Canines down.
The referee steps in to break things up, and A.J. doesn’t put up much resistance to it [A.J. does lucha things] [Near-fall off the Lantern’s Flight] [More lucha things from A.J.] [Blake moves fast to keep up] [Blake hits diving elbow drop for the cover, 1, 2, kickout] [Blake looks tired] [Blake tries to end this with his submission finisher, but A.J. slips out] [A.J. goes for 94 Blitz] [Blake dodges, A.J. goes flying out of the ring] [Blake hits K9 Crush! (Phenomenal Forearm) to the outside] [Blake drags A.J. back in] [Blake attempts Superman punch] [Counter with Golden Goal; Blake disoriented]
A.J. stands tall on the top rope, perched like a jaguar ready to leap down on his unsuspecting prey. He goes into a crane stance and kicks the air, waiting for Blake to turn around so he can put this match away…
Morales comes flying off the top rope, spinning through the air with deadly precision as he goes for the Diamond Killer—NO! Archer catches him by the throat right out of the air!
A fair few fans stand straight up out of their seats at the sight, some in celebration, some putting their hands on their head in the infamous involuntary “surrender cobra” pose. Whatever mood any given fan is in, they double down on it when Archer chokeslams A.J. down to the mat.
Archer continues to hold A.J. down after he finishes the slam, and with the Revolution’s shoulders down, the referee feels duty-bound to count it.
Blake lifts A.J. off the mat in yet another feat of strength, then adjusts his grip so he can lift Morales up and just hold the Hardcore Champion upside-down…
Archer keeps holding...still holding...SLAM! Finally, Blake sends Morales down on the inevitable Descent, and as Archer backs up into his corner, not too far away, there’s a certain feeling in the air that this is the beginning of the end. Archer drops into a catcher’s squat, talking trash and just daring A.J. to get up. He knows one Silver Shot is all he needs to knock the Hardcore Champion off his pedestal...
But before that can happen, the XtremeTron starts crackling with glitchy noises and static sounds. Both combatants start looking around, wondering who or what might be about to ambush the ring and reveal itself.
But then a live video feed takes over, revealing a far different meaning...and, arguably a more horrifying one. As it turns out, at this very second, the much-hated Australian giant, Levinator, is backstage...and he’s got Mary-Jane, Blake’s wife, in his clutches. She screams at Levi, demanding he let her go, struggling to break free, but with one of Levi’s massive arms wrapped around her throat, there’s no way she’s getting away on her own any time soon.
Even with the mask, it’s obvious how distraught Blake is at the sight. He shakes his head and closes his eyes, as if trying to convince himself it’s not really happening, but when he opens them again, Lev is still right there on the XtremeTron. A.J. looks up at it with him, an absolutely appalled look on the Revolution’s face. But then A.J. looks to Blake and realizes that the King of Canines isn’t paying any attention to what’s happening in the ring…
A thought occurs to the Revolution, one he doesn’t necessarily like, but as he thinks it through, he realizes it might help them both out. So he charges up at Blake from an angle, rolls the GWP world champion up as far from the ropes as A.J. can manage, and tries to keep all his weight on top of his much larger opponent…
-DING DING DING!-
A.J. gets off of Blake as soon as he hears the bell, and Archer springs out of the cover, trying to figure out what the hell just happened.
RAMIEREZ: And your winner, by pinfall…”The Revolution,” A! J! MOOOOORALEEEES!
The feed on the XtremeTron keeps running, and Levinator doesn’t let Mary-Jane go, but he does start absolutely laughing his head off.
[A.J. wants to help beat Levi up] [Blake holds him off] [A.J. agrees, celebrates the win]