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SWF Storm, May 12th, 2006!

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SWF Storm opens up on a tight shot of a man. He leans against a wall, his pink tights covering him from his neck down to his feet, and his mask conceals his identity. This is a man who has carefully covered his tracks, knowing that the slightest hint of his true identity could compromise his safety, or possibly cause the IRS to start garnishing his wages again. He knows that if anyone were to find out his...


"Hey, Flesher." SWF chief medical officer Andrea Montgomery waves at the masked man as she walks by.


"DOES NOT COMPUTE," he responds.


He knows that if anyone were to find out his identity, he would be drawn back into not only a world of...


"Yo, Flesher," says Sean Davis. He stops, pausing to fix his tie in the mirror next to Ghost Machine. "I've been meaning to ask, how'd you get Jojo to let you out of the dress code?"




Davis shrugs and keeps walking, chuckling, "That boy just ain't right."


He knows that if anyone were to find out his identity, he would be drawn back into not only a world of intrigue and suspicion, but a world in which he would be unable to maintain any semblance of privacy. He could remember the last time: mobbed at the airports, mobbed at the fine restaurants where he took his meals, mobbed at the pubs where he drank microbrewed beers incognito and watched his beloved Sabres and Devil Rays.


"Oi, Tom!" Amy Stephens walks by.


"Does not compute, god damn it! Quit bothering me!" yells Ghost Machine, his vocal generator set to a particularly irritated tone. "And jesus, either put on a bra or roll those things up when you're talking to me."


"What's your fuckin' problem, innit!"


Yes, Ghost Machine is a man with a secret... a secret he must keep to himself, lest the world find out and demand once again that he take his place atop the podium.


With the heavy burden of a secret on his shoulders, Ghost Machine turns and walks to the aisle to prepare for the opening promo on tonight's edition of Storm. As he does, he looks out the aisle, conveniently missing a poorly-placed bucket of water left by the janitorial staff. He trips, falling to the floor... and his mask tumbles off.


"Ahhhh, dammit."


Tom Flesher stands up, looking around. He makes sure that no one, not even his confidante, Chris Belcourt, saw the fall. Smirking, he picks up the mask and starts to put it back on. Instead, however, he looks at the mask one more time.




He throws it over his shoulder, and then calls out for the head of wardrobe to come to his assistance.


"Yo, Trudel! Get me a blazer and a pair of jeans, stat! I'm coming home!"


With that, Storm's main theme and title sequence fade in.

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The Smartmarks Wrestling Federation presents...


Live, Friday, May 12th, from the Pyramids of Giza!

(6pm PST, 10pm EST; check local listings)


The SWF's 2006 World Tour keeps on truckin' - next stop, The Pyramids of Giza! The SWF's ring will be constructed on the front paws of the Great Sphinx:






JJ Johnson vs. Arch Griffon

-> Arch Griffon may not have many claims to fame, but he does have one - Jay Hawke won the International Championship, but before he could go on his ridiculously long reign, Mr. Griffon stopped him dead in his tracks! No one's been able to do that since except Wildchild, and this is definitely worth some consideration. Now the International Title headlines the International Tour, Arch Griffon cashes in a shot he had a long time ago and we forgot to give him against the reigning International Champion, JJ Johnson!

Rules: Standard singles match.





Manson vs. "Hollywood" Spike Jenkins

-> So this is a bit screwy. Hollywood Spike Jenkins had some unflattering remarks regarding Manson's Tag Team Gold - specifically, he shouldn't have it. Joseph Peters decided to give Spike a chance to back up his words in this match, with an interesting twist. Manson will be defending his half of the titles. If he loses, Spike Jenkins will be a new tag team champion, and become JJ Johnson's new partner!

Rules: Standard singles match.




"The Divine Wind" Akira Kaibatsu vs. "The Dean of Professional Wrestling" Jay Hawke

-> Maybe there's no official reason for this match, but come on - this is awesome.

Rules: Standard singles match.




HOUSE RULES - "Walk Like An Egyptian... And, Y'know, Get Buried Like One When They Die" Match

Bloodshed vs. The Doomstroyer

-> Round one... FIGHT!

Rules: The match begins at the entrance steps to King Tut's Tomb:


To win, you must find a way inside, bring your opponent with you, and stuff him inside the Sarcophagus that's ready and waiting the burial chamber! Obviously, the SWF could not secure the artifacts recovered from the tomb, but we bought some really good replicas, so the tomb will be filled with all the (fake) goodies Mr. Tut was buried with! Use them at your leisure. First man to stuff his opponent inside the Sarcophagus and seal it shut wins! Bonus rankings points if you mummify your foe as well.

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Funyon stands up in the center of the ring, and for a moment, the crowd goes quiet. He pauses dramatically, and then...


"Ladies and gentlemen, A Few Minutes With Tom Flesher!"


The crowd, simply put, explodes.


An explosion of blue pyro lights up the paws of the Great Sphinx as the percussive opening to Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" rings out over the loudspeaker. The crowd, on its feet, continues cheering as a cloud of smoke settles over the entranceway. As it begins to dissipate, Tom Flesher stands in the entrance, his trademark smirk on his face. He begins his strut to the ring, with the crowd cheering and chanting at him the whole way. As he slides into the ring, he looks remarkably put together for a man who, five minutes prior, was wearing a Ghost Machine mask.


"Kashmir" fades away as Flesher picks up the microphone. He looks around, then brings the mic to his face.


"So ... did you know it was me?"


Flesher grins as the crowd explodes once again. The camera pans the seating, looking at the fans as they chant, "FLESH-ER! FLESH-ER!" Tom just soaks it in, leaning against the ropes until they quiet down.


"You know, I think it was really for the best," he says. "I was getting tired of wearing that mask, and I'm sure the fabulous Mister Belcourt was getting sick of helping me to the ring. And, you know, I didn't mind Allison as Deep Throat... but... well, I'll let you figure out the rest."


The heavily Muslim and Coptic Christian crowd laughs nervously.


"But I digress. When I was under the mask," he says, "I lost a few matches, two of them title shots - the Ultraviolent Championship to Bruce Blank, and the Cruiserweight Championship to Akira Kaibatsu. I even lost to the current Cruiserweight Champion, Grendel. I'm not proud of that, as I'm sure a lot of you could tell. The fact of the matter is that I was so concerned with covering my own identity that I got in over my head - yes, even I can get in over my head - by challenging for the Ultraviolent Championship. No, I should have stayed where the getting was good.


I should have stayed with the cruiserweights."


Flesher looks out over the crowd, pausing to collect himself.


"And so, I have two losses I need to get past to clean my record up. Do you know what the problem is? Do you know why I came back under that silly mask? Really, it's the same thing that cost me those matches: I got lazy." Flesher sighs. "I got lazy. I started relying on the fact that I can suplex anyone out of his boots. I knew that I could dump anyone on his head, and so I started ignoring those little points of technique and emphasis that I had to focus on when I was a rookie in the SJL. So since I went on my little hiatus as Ghost Machine, I've been back on the mats, and I've decided that to get back to form, I need to refocus myself."


"So, after tonight, you're going to see a cleaner, crisper Tom Flesher. I'll still be willing to dump some poor sap on his head, but I'm going to save it for the big matches. Otherwise, you're going to see good, clean matches where whoever I end up in the ring with taps out to whatever comes to mind. And, just in case Joe Peters is listening... it's a business decision.


Saving the Boilermaker for pay-per-view is going to pop buyrates.


Now," he continues, "if you'll excuse me, there's someone here I need to go say hi to."


With that, "Kashmir" starts up once again, and Flesher rolls out of the ring. He walks over, eyes gleaming, to the announcers' table. He grabs a folding chair, sets it up, and has a seat.


Right next to Mak Francis.


As Francis beams at his former tag team partner, King mutters, "oh, christ," and Storm fades out to commercial.

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There is always a hustle and bustle about SWF shows, whether they're taking place in an arena or in the middle of the Egyptian desert. With the show in such an open setting it just makes the work of SWF Security even harder than usual, which is why the 'backstage' area has been cordoned off with easy-to-set-up plastic walls, vaguely reminiscent of portacabins. There are only a few entrances and exits, and security checks every person who comes through closely to make sure they have the correct documentation and aren't some over-eager autograph hunter or a similar form of psycho. However, no matter how demented the intruder they would surely think twice about trying to get in this entrance, because this particular entrance is being overseen by the towering figure of the Hell Machine himself, Terrence 'Janus' Bailey. No stranger to hot weather, the massive Australian only has a faint sheen of sweat on his brow as he inspects the people walking past. No matter his -or rather, their- personal agendas, both Terrence and Janus take their responsibilties seriously. Which is why when someone they don't recognise walks up they take a long step to block his path and hold up one gargantuan hand.


"We'll need to see your pass," they rumble. Any normal person would instantly and instinctively take a step backwards when a 7'2 giant with Janus' repuation made a move towards them, but the newcomer doesn't. Instead he merely hands the pass over for inspection, then looks up at the Australian with his eyes hidden behind the lenses of his sunglasses, dark hair cascading down to his chin in heavy curtains.


"We?" he says curiously, looking around for another member of security, then realisation seems to dawn. "Both of you. Interesting. Very interesting."


Janus and Terrence jerk their head up and fix the newcomer with a stare. That voice has pressed buttons in their memory. They recognise it.


"I didn't realise you guys were getting on so well," the man in the sunglasses adds, and as Janus and Terrence glance back down at the pass they realise why they recognise that voice. They also recognise the pass as being legitimate. Slowly, one massive hand gives it back.


"It seems we're not the only thing that has changed," they say. "We assume that you are aware of our role?"


"Yes indeed," the other man replies, "I've heard all about your new job."


"Then you will of course be aware how eminently suited we are for it," the Hell Machine declares, "after all, who better to keep order among SWF superstars? Please be aware," they continue with only a faint hint of malice, "that any... excesses on your part will be dealt with by us, in person. With extreme prejudice," they add. "We will be watching."


"Don't worry, gentlemen," the newcomer assures them with a slight ironic smile at the words, "things have indeed changed. You have nothing to worry about from me." He clips the pass onto his shirt and walks past them, giving them a nod as he does so. The massive head of the Hell Machine turns to follow his path.


"It's not us who needs to be concerned," they rumble, then appear to lapse into thought.


Should we tell Hojo about this development? It could interfere with things.


Hojo will find out soon enough. I'd wager the whole world will find out that he's back tonight. That one never could keep his mouth shut.


And this doesn't concern you? You believe that he has no intention of seriously injuring anyone? We do have a job to do, after all.


A sinister smile creeps across the giant's face, more Janus' doing than Terrence's.


A little chaos never hurt anyone. Well, it never hurt us, anyway. And if he chooses to go against our warnings...


Both hands slowly curl into monstrous fists.


You have a point.


I always do.

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"Tell me exactly, what am I supposed to do

Now that I have allowed you, to beat me!

Do you think that we could play another game

Maybe I could win this ti-ime."


"I kinda like the misery you put me through

Darling you can trust me, completely!

If you even try to look the other way

I think that I could kill this ti-ime!"[/i]


"The Game" by Disturbed pounds from the Egyptian air and heralds the arrival of the SWF's World Heavyweight Champion, Landon Maddix, flying solo tonight for some reason as he strolls through the entrance way. Smiling away to himself, the smartly dressed Landon removes his orange tinted sunglasses and looks out into the crowd with a sneer, the World Title draped over his right shoulder and a clipboard clutches in his left hand.


"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Smartmarks Wrestling Federation WORLD Heavyweight Champion... LANDON "LA CUCARACHA"... MMMMAAAAAADDIIIIXXXXXXXXX!!!"




Entering the ring, Landon wastes no time in calling for the mic from Funyon, then shooing the SWF's premiere (and only) ring announcer out of the spotlight.


"Oke-dokie, you all know the drill so let's get on with this. I have a contract, somebody needs to sign it. Now, I didn't check the flight schedules or the travel arrangements or anything like that, so for all I know Amy Stephens could be on the other side of the world. She could be back in Nottingham, looking through the 'dog and bone' book for some old flames to lick her...wounds. Hell, she could be back in America and be about to show up on HeldDOWN~! with the rest of the no-talent, former SWF losers who can't cut it here, so have to go wrestle on the 'B' show with the 'B' company."


"Worked shoots for all!" cheers King gleefully.


"But, let's assume Amy had the guts to show up tonight and answer my little challenge. After all, a World Title shot at 13th Hour doesn't come around every day, I think it's worth just a little bit of effort. So let's assume that effort's been made. Amy, the floor is yours."











Landon looks around and some boos have already started, but Landon is willing to give another chance to his former girlfriend.


"Okay, okay...have we got the sound rigged up backstage? Somebody give a shout out into the back, couldya?"








"C'mon Amy, we haven't got all night."







"I don't think she's coming out King."


"No shit." sighs King.





"No? No sign? Well, that's really a shame Amy, because this isn't a long-term offer. Limited time only, while stocks last. So, how about we give her one last chance. I'm a nice guy, I'm willing to cut a bit of slack your wa..."



However, Landon is suddenly cut off in mid-sentence by a brutal, stuttering guitar riff; one that echoes out across the Egyptian desert and draws all eyes to the entrance ramp. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get a great reaction because exactly the same guitar riff was heard in Baghdad, and we all know how that turned out.


“Ugh, Myers again,” Suicide King predicts gloomily, “how did Maddix persuade him to come out and get his ass kicked again?


“Short-term memory loss? A large amount of cash? Offering him the chance to lick Megan Skye’s feet?” Mak guesses wildly, “to be honest I don’t know, and I don’t care. I just hope this is quick.”


‘We Still Kill The Old Way’ by Lostprophets continues to pound out of the speakers as, sure enough, Matt Myers dressed as Toxxic emerges into view. However, down in the ring Landon isn’t smirking like he was last week. Instead, the World Champion appears to be rather annoyed.


“Myers, what the hell are you doing?” Maddix barks. The production crew take a hint and drop the music out as Myers continues to make his way down to the ring, then rolls under the ropes and springs to his feet before throwing his arms wide, palms flat, in Toxxic’s signature pose. The lack of music or any real reaction from a crowd not stupid enough to be caught by the same bait-and-switch twice completely failing to bother him, Myers beckons for a microphone. A long-suffering technician produces one and the former SJL World Champion (for shame Judge, for shame) raises it to his lips, glaring out at Landon from between eyeliner lids.


“Landon, you got the drop on me in Baghdad,” Myers declares, still attempting his awful British accent, “but you ain’t gonna do it again, right?”


“Myers, go away,” Landon growls, “I paid you for last week, now clear off!”


“Oh no sunshine, you ain’t getting away that easily,” Myers declares, “you might have beaten up my sister but I’m gonna get my own back on yer!”


Piss off!,” Maddix snarls, clearly preparing to remove the annoying jobber from the ring by violent means, “I’ve got no problem giving you another beating!”


“Oh, really?” Myers asks, “well in that case…” and he pulls a wad of paper out of the pocket of his baggy skate pants.


“…what the hell is that?” Landon asks, momentarily taken aback. Myers grins lopsidedly and waves it under his nose triumphantly.


“This, sunshine, is a contract for you to face Toxxic at 13th Hour!” he declares, jabbing himself in the chest with a thumb.


There is a momentary pause, while Landon eyes the deluded man in front of him. Then a sinister smile starts to spread over his face.


“I don’t like the look of this,” Mak mutters. Meanwhile, Landon has swiped the contract from Myers’ hand and is skimming it, making sure that it is a normal SWF contract with no hidden extras. Then he pulls the pen from his pocket that he presumably had in case Amy had taken him up on his offer of a rematch and scribbles his signature in the correct place.


"You don't like the look of this!?!" snaps King, weeping softly. "We're going to main-event 13th Hour with Myers vs. Maddix...we're all gonna be out of jobs once the buyrate comes in for that one!"


“Well, there you go ‘Toxxic’,” Landon sneers, shoving the contract back at Myers, “since I haven’t got anything better to do and your ‘sister’ doesn’t want to get in the ring with me again, sure; you and me can have a match at 13th Hour. That’s assuming the bookers will even let you on Pay-Per-View,” he adds, then seems to notice something and points. “But look, ‘Toxxic’, you haven’t signed it,” the World Champion declares. “I know you’re a little bit out of practice at this whole wrestling thing, but we do still have to sign contracts to make the matches legal and binding, you know. Here, borrow my pen,” Maddix offers, shoving the pen at Myers. For his part Myers suddenly seems uncertain.


“You know that if he signs it, even if Peters lets him wrestle at the PPV, Landon’s going to murder him,” Mak says.


“Maddix hates being upstaged by anyone,” King agrees, “I’m surprised his ego even fits in the Nile Valley!”


“Looks who’s talking.”


Matt Myers looks around at the crowd. Some (a few) of them are cheering for him to sign the contract. Most are quiet, because they instinctively know that he has no chance, absolutely no chance at all, of winning. Myers swallows, fumbles with the pen uncertainly and looks around again, perhaps hoping for some sort of distraction…


…and Landon boots him in the gut, grabs the contract off him and then throws him out through the ropes!




“I’ll keep this,” Maddix shouts after Myers, “just to prove that when it came down to it, Toxxic just didn’t have the guts to face-”







The chant rolls out across the desert, sounding like a couple of thousand voices all shouting that one same phrase before a crashing chord takes over. For a moment there is only confusion, but then as the Smarktron whites out a distinctive bassline can be heard rumbling through the noise, gaining strength and clarity as the original chord starts to fade. And as the Smarktron quickly fades back down to black, the crowd -and Landon- finally recognise it.


“No, it can’t be!” King shouts in sudden disbelief, “he’s here!? He can’t be!”


The jagged white letters flash up one word at a time on the Smarktron, providing an almost ironic counterpoint to the Gambling Man’s last statement:






This music hasn’t been heard in the SWF for nearly a year. This is ‘Rookie’ by Boy Sets Fire. Only one man in the history of the SWF ever had entrance music specifically designed to remind his opponents of the almost unprecedented success of his rookie year with the company.




They’re chanting his name.




This time, Landon knows that he didn’t have any part in this.




The Smarktron has changed to show a collection of clips of notable matches, ending as ever with the footage of Mike Van Siclen being taken off a balcony and through a table with the move known as the Toxxic Shock Syndrome, the devastating landing timed to coincide with the-




-explosion of red pyro that seems to shake the very pyramids themselves. And following it, through the smoke and haze…




…wearing a red England soccer shirt with his signature spiky black hair now grown out into chin-length curtains through which the steel-grey eyes peer, no longer adorned by eyeliner…




…the light catching the network of thin scars on his face, courtesy of Nathaniel Kibagami and a plate glass door…




…comes the man once known as Toxxic.


“He came back,” Mak Francis breathes. “Jesus Christ, he actually came back.”


There is a rumbling building; fans are clapping, stamping, banging on stairs and on the guard rail that surrounds the ring area. There is the faint hint of a 'WEL-COME BACK!' chant from somewhere, but by and large the assembled SWF faithful are just content to be making noise. It doesn't matter that this man was once the most hated in the company; it doesn't matter that they once lusted after his blood and screamed for the hero of the hour to take him down, and it certainly doesn't matter that the hero would almost inevitably fail. What matters is the fact that day after day, week and after week and month after month, in cities and towns across the US, North America and indeed the entire world, Landon Maddix has been out here running his mouth.


And they are sick of it.


‘Rookie’ is building to a climax. The new arrival stops at the top of the entrance ramp, cracks his neck from side to side and waits for the two snare beats-






-then throws his arms wide, palms flat to the floor, seemingly igniting a blast of red pyro from the top of each turnbuckle! Even Landon Maddix jumps in surprise and alarm.


‘I never thought this could be me

I guess you never do until it’s happening to you

Like all the fun turned into shame

And all the “could-have-beens” rearrange…’


As the flames finally die out, so does the music. After a few seconds all that is left is the noise of the crowd, and Landon and Toxxic staring at each other from ring to ramp, and back again. La Cucaracha's face is hard to read; he's been asking, begging, cajoling and threatening for this moment to take place for months now. You would think that, after all that, he would be ready to face down his greatest rival and bitterest enemy. However, his face is not calm; flickers of what could be eagerness or what could be apprehension cross it as he unconsciously licks his lips. Even as he looks on, Toxxic restarts his steady pace down to the ring, then unhurriedly rolls under the bottom rope and beckons for a microphone. A SWF flunkey literally sprints to lean through the ropes and place one in the hand of the three-time former World Champion, and thus armed Toxxic turns to face Landon Maddix. He raises the microphone to his lips, and the noise in the arena suddenly dies down.














"Go ahead sunshine," Toxxic grins, "I believe you were saying something funny?"




It's hardly Shakespeare, but the crowd response is amazing. It's as if they were all holding their breath, hoping against hope that what they were witnessing was not some mass hallucination, that finally Landon might actually have got what he's been wishing for and that the day they can see him get his ass kicked by it is near at hand. Those few words delivered in Toxxic's distinctive Nottingham accent have confirmed it; he's back.


Of course, there's always someone prepared to bitch.


"That's... that's it!?" Landon splutters into his own mic, "you disappear for nearly a year, you ruin my career, you just run away from the whole SWF; now you come back out after months of me calling you out, with your music and enough pyro to burn down Manhattan and you just make a JOKE!?" The Next Generation stares at his nemesis for a couple of seconds, apparently speechless. Of course, that doesn't last for long. "Toxxic, I-"


It's at that moment that Toxxic lashes out, sending the microphone spiralling from Landon's grasp to land with an audible *thunk* on the mat. Maddix tenses up, fists clenched and ready to fight, but Toxxic steps back again and raises one hand placatingly. The grin, however, has dropped from his face.


"Landon, like you said, you've had a few months of speaking," the straight-edger says quietly. "I think it might be time for you to shut up for a few minutes."




"Amen," Pete and King say together, then turn and glare at each other.


"First of all," the Englishman begins, "let's get one thing clear. Toxxic hasn't come back to the SWF. Toxxic walked out of the Wembley Arena at Ground Zero last year, and he drove north to Nottingham. Toxxic stayed there." He looks around at the crowd for a few seconds, seemingly memorising faces.


"Toxxic was an arsehole. Toxxic was an arrogant, egotistical cunt. Toxxic was the 'Straight-Edge Sensation', who rubbed his lifestyle in people's faces and thought he was better than everyone else. My name is Michael Stephens, and I'm far from perfect. But I'm not Toxxic."


A murmur runs around the crowd at those words. It seems odd to hear the youth from Nottingham describe himself in such damning terms, but no-one present can argue with the statements he's made. Not even Landon Maddix seems inclined to try; in fact the Next Generation is simply standing in the ring watching his old enemy, apparently waiting for something.


"Now, you're probably wondering why I haven't responded to your challenge before, Landon," Michael Stephens says seriously. "I'll be honest with you, the main reason is that I didn't know about it. I've been travelling, you see. I think I was in Papua New Guinea or Indonesia, somewhere around there, when you first called me out. I hadn't seen the SWF in months, and it wasn't until I got to Australia that I found out what was going on. Besides, the SWF's on tape delay down there and so there I was, sitting in a bar on the Sydney waterfront, when I look up and see you and my sister in the ring in a broadcast from February." He grins again, apparently at ease. "Gave me something of a shock, I can tell you."


"Enough of the talking," King mutters impatiently, "start pounding on him already!" However Stephens doesn't seem inclined to take the Gambling Man's advice, and raises his microphone to his mouth again.


"So here we are. I figured out my travel schedule and everything, got back to the USA only to find out that you were heading on a World Tour, contacted the SWF and got their permission to appear on their programming. In the meantime I heard that you've been a busy little bunny, dropping people on their heads and all sorts. It didn't mean anything, Landon; I was on my way. But it's not like I could just jump on a plane and two hours later roll off into Shitsville, Idaho and answer your latest challenge, you know?" he smiles. "So anyway-"


Now it is Landon's turn to lash out. However, instead of knocking the microphone away Landon just snatches it out of Stephens' hand, causing the straight-edger to look at him with a vaguely hurt expression.


"I don't give a damn about this shit," Maddix snarls, "since you've decided to show up after all I just want one of two words from you: YES or NO!" Stephens raises his eyebrows, then walks over to where the other microphone landed earlier and picks it up before turning back to face his enemy.


"Patience, Padawan."


The crowd give an 'Oooohhhh!' at Michael's response, and the Smarktron shows Landon grinding his teeth until it's surprising that the ring mics can't pick the sound up. However, La Cucaracha restrains himself... for the moment, at least.


"As I was saying," Stephens resumes, "I think that before I give you my answer, I should tell you how I came to my decision. "Now then. Amy." The former Straight-Edge Sensation stops smiling and looks Landon directly in the eye. "I'm not particularly pleased with how you've behaved towards her, sunshine."






The chants have started up in the crowd again; not loud, but growing in strength. Michael Stephens looks towards the fans briefly as if in acknowledgement of his old ring name, then returns his attention to the former Triple Crown Champion in front of him. "Y'see, as I'm sure she's told you, Amy and I haven't always got along that great. But that don't mean that I like to see her used and abused like some sort of cheap whore."


"And what are you going to do about it?" Landon asks, almost eagerly. Stephens stares him in the eye for several long seconds... then sighs.






"What!?" King yelps, "has he gone chicken or something?"


Landon's face is a picture of uncertainty. He looks absolutely gobsmacked at his enemy's decision, but before he can do much more than gape, Michael Stephens begins speaking again.


"You see Landon, if I was going to take issue with the fact that you've been sleeping with my sister, I'd have had to put about half of Nottingham into hospital by now," the elder Stephens explains, "because it ain't exactly a new development, if you get my drift? I mean, sod the seven-year itch mate, I hope you kids were careful or you could be getting an entirely different sort of itch, know what I mean?" He winks cheekily at Landon, who first looks startled and then murderous.


"Now," Michael continues, "I'm sure Amy won't be too happy to hear me talking about her previous adventures on national television, but hey; she was the one who chose to shack up with a guy who's been bleating on for months about crippling me so sis, if you're listening, turnabout is fair play. And anyway, this was her decision. Amy always gets herself into these messes; she chose to take up with you, she was the one who got jealous of Megan, and she was the one who wanted a piece of you in the ring, Landon. I'm not going to come back and play the vengeful brother if my sister wants to start fights she can't win."


"Enough stalling," Landon growls, "yes or no?"


"But Landon, then there's the fact that you've been injuring people," Stephens continues, apparently ignoring his enemy. "Michael Cross, Ced Ordonez, goodness knows who else. And you've been ripping off my moves too, which let's be fair," he shrugs, "isn't really anything new. But those poor buggers; what did they do to you? And you hurt them, try to cripple them, and you want to put the blame on my shoulders?" He shakes his head. "I don't think so. Everything you've done gets chalked up to your obsession, sunshine. I'm not having you try and guilt-trip me into feeling responsible when I wasn't even watching TV at the time."


"YES... OR... NO?"


"Lastly," Michael says, pausing to look Landon in the eye again, "there's the rather personal comments you've been making about me. Some people might take offence at those comments, Landon."






"I, however, am not one of those people," Stephens grins, "because as far as I can see, the only reason you'd be concerned about my sexuality is because you're looking for a date. And I hate to disappoint you sunshine," the former Straight-Edge Sensation grins amidst rising crowd noise as Landon glares daggers at him, "but you're really not my type. You seem a bit... angsty."


"YES OR NO, YOU MOTHERFUCKER!" Landon roars, his self-control finally snapping. La Cucaracha seems to be half a heartbeat away from launching himself bodily at the man he's been focused on for so long, and someone backstage seems to have finally realised the gravity of the situation because referees and security guards have started to make their way out towards the ring. They begin to surround the squared circle, but as yet make no move to intersperse themselves between the two. Michael Stephens takes a long, hard look at Landon Maddix, at the man who has been cursing him, threatening him and injuring people in his name.


"I thought it was only right to come here and tell you this in person, Landon," Stephens say quietly, "because the answer is... no."




"WHAT!?" King and Pete yell at the same time, almost leaping to their feet in shock. All around them the crowd are in uproar. No-one is quite able to believe what they've heard, no-one can comprehend that Michael Stephens, that Toxxic, is backing down from a fight... and a fight offered by Landon Maddix, at that. However, their disbelief is as nothing compared to Landon's. La Cucaracha stands there in total shock, eyes wide.


Then his eyes narrow.


And he attacks.




All the technical training is forgotten in his mad rush; Landon drops the mic and lashes out with a right hand that catches Stephens on the jaw, then a left that strikes the opposite temple. Maddix tries for another right, but Stephens blocks this one with his left arm and twists sharply in the space between them to drive his right elbow into Landon's face, then hammers his head forwards to drive his forehead into Landon's nose with a headbutt!






Landon staggers back clutching his face and Stephens steps in after him to lash out with a European Uppercut-




-that drops Landon to the mat! La Cucaracha shakes his head groggily for a moment, then bounds back to his feet and tackles Stephens low to take him down... and now the security and officials come in, each man being grabbed by at least five pairs of hands and hauled away from each other!






The crowd chant for all they're worth and for a moment the Englishman looks to be trying to oblige them; however, after a second or so Stephens ceases his struggles against the restraining hands while Landon is still fighting tooth and nail to get to him. With Maddix cursing him and trying to fight through a veritable army of security guards and referees Stephens shakes his head, then steps out through the ropes and starts back up the entrance ramp.


"Has Toxxic become a Buddhist or something?" King asks in disbelief. "I mean seriously Mak, Landon has done everything he can to provoke Toxxic into coming back and fighting him, but he's just walking away!"


"I think Michael Stephens is walking away," Mak corrects him. "Normally I'd distrust anything and everything Toxxic says, but I think the fact that he's dropped his old ring name might indicate that perhaps he doesn't want to be associated with his old antics anymore."


"No, wait!" King interjects, "I bet he's just trying to lull Landon into a false sense of security! That must be it!"


"King, Landon wants to fight Toxxic," Mak says in an exasperated tone, "if Michael Stephens wanted a match all he had to do was say 'yes'!"


Michael Stephens has reached the top of the ramp. Landon is still being restrained in the ring; the World Champion isn't struggling quite as desperately as before, but it's still clear that if he wasn't being held back he'd be up the ramp and after his enemy in double-quick time. Stephens turns around and looks back one more time... then turns and disappears.


"Fans, we've got to take a break," Mak Francis says, "but we'll have some great action when we come back!"

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Storm returns to the Great Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza, as the generator-powered spotlights flare up and Mastodon’s “Crusher Destroyer” blasts from the speakers, to the accompaniment of strobes pulsing and flashing in time with the music. Manson walks through the makeshift curtain moments later to the jeers of the crowd and heads down the ramp.


“Ladies and Gentlemen, the following is a singles match… for one-half of the SWF Tag Team Championship!” booms Funyon. “Introducing first, from Denver, Colorado, weighing in at two hundred and forty pounds, he is one-half of the SWF Tag Team Champions… MMMAAANNNNSOONNN!”


He rolls in upon hitting the ring, throwing up the horns to more heat from the fans, then heads for his corner, ready to fight.


“If you’re just joining us, tonight’s Tag Team Title Match is a strange one,” begins Mak, “as it’s really a fight for one-half of the titles, held by Manson.”


“I’m sure it’s been done before.”


“Not in the SWF to my recollection. Regardless, this stems from Spike attacking Manson after the Trios Match on Smarkdown, blaming him for the loss despite taking the pinfall himself. He then had some venomous words for Manson, which the Bull was none too happy about, as if attacking him wasn’t enough.”


“He declined to do an official interview, but the words ‘What fucking right does that goddamn punk have to say that, has he forgotten how many times I’ve beaten him.’ ‘At least I haven’t made a career riding on the backs of others.’ ‘Couldn’t even come through and beat Zyon in a Street Fight even after attempted murder.’ ‘Was such a fucking joke that he was obliterated by me and everyone else during the build to the biggest match of his career versus Magnifico.’ and ‘Cruiserweight Title? It was a goddamn nacho dish. There’s a reason I got out of that dead end division a long time ago. His biggest opponent during his reign was Ryan Dustin, how lame is that.’ All verbatim, of course.”


“This is a family show, for fuck’s sake.”


Manson stretches in his corner when the lights ramp up to full power. For a moment the only sound is that of a needle scratching over vinyl...


And then *BAM*


The heavy drumming of Norma Jean’s “Creating Something Out of Nothing, Only to Destroy It” blasts through the arena as the lyrics pierce the ears of everyone listening.


“Like bringing a knife to a gun fight…


Like Bringing A Knife To A Gun Fight…





Bright white lights begin flashing at the entryway. As the growls hit the crowd, Spike walks out wearing a black hoodie on, the hood covering most of his face. Spike drops down to one knee, leaving one arm to hang to the ground, while the other is firmly placed on his knee. After a few moments, Spike raises both arms into an “X”, symbolizing his Straight Edge life style. Spike rises to his feet and begins to make his way down the isle towards the ring.


”And the challenger, from Hollywood, California, weighing in tonight at two hundred and twenty pounds… ‘HOLLYWOOD’ SPIKE JEEENNNNKINS!”


Spike makes his way completely around the ring and rolls underneath the bottom rope. He continues rolling until he hits dead center in the middle of the ring. Spike rises to one knee and resumes the position he was in at the top of the entranceway. One arm hanging to the ground, the other placed on his knee. Finally, Spike rises to his feet. He quickly peels off the hood, releasing his blonde, dyed hair free. He puts his arms together, forming an “X” across his chest, again promoting his Straight Edge life style. He throws off his ring jacket, as Kivell holds up Manson’s half of the tag belts and after taking it over to the apron, calls for the bell.




Manson and Spike each emerge from their corners, each looking for an opening as they dance around the ring, until Manson shoots in and manages to grab Spike by the right leg. Spike pounds down on Manson’s back with forearms, but he drives Spike into a corner before any real damage is done. Manson releases Spike, who sticks his head through the ropes in an attempt to force a break, but Manson grabs hold of his throat and begins throttling him for a time before Kivell manages to forcefully pull him away.


Sticking a finger in his face, Kivell warns Manson while Spike recovers. Stepping aside, Kivell finally lets Manson pass, only for him to get caught with a right hand by Spike. His opponent unfazed, Spike hits one after another, stepping into each one and finally managing to rock Manson. He grabs Manson by the hair, bringing his free arm up and catching him with a European uppercut, causing him to stumble back. Spike lunges forward with a forearm, sending Manson further back, now into the ropes with a shoulder toward Spike. As Jenkins closes in, Manson launches a back elbow, smashing Spike in the face.


Manson swings with a wild left, catching Spike again, then hits another back elbow with the same arm. With Spike staggered, he revs up a lariat with the right and knocks Spike down to the mat! Jenkins scrambled back up to his feet as Manson charges, catching him up high with a jumping knee to the face! Spike is slower to stand this time, barely getting up on all fours as Manson tees off with a kick to the ribs! The force launches Spike into air, as he takes a roll and grabs his ribs. Coming up on to his knees and still holding his ribs, he’s prone as Manson hits a number of short, downward kesagiri chops to the neck, then steps behind Spike and laces into him with another kick, this one directly to the spine! Spike grabs at his lower back as Manson pulls him up by his dirty blonde hair, then grabs a wrist and sends him across the ring with a whip, but Spike puts a halt to his momentum by grabbing the ropes and escaping outside to Manson’s dismay.


Spike angrily kicks the steps on the outside while Manson throws up the horns, getting a surprisingly positive reaction out of the crowd.


“88 miles per hour!” King shouts all of a sudden.




Suddenly time jumps ahead and we come back just in time to catch Spike clotheslining Manson over the top, as he and Spike go tumbling over the ropes and outside the ring!


“What the hell just happened?”


“I just told you. Back to the future, baby!”




Spike is able to stand just before Manson. He starts laying in right hands, but Manson recovers soon enough with knee to the stomach. With Spike bent over from the knee, Manson grabs him by the back of the head and drags him over to the steps. He attempts to ram Spike headfirst into the stairs, but Spike blocks with a foot. He stomps on Manson’s foot and hits a back elbow to the face, then grabs hold and manages to stuff Manson’s face in the steps instead! Manson reels from the attack, managing to get away for the time being, but Spike is on him again as he charges and knocks Manson down from behind. Positioning himself in front of the adjacent ringpost, Spike pulls Manson up and prepares to send him into it, but Manson hits a series of forearms to the face, breaking the hold. He’s not done yet, as this time he grabs Spike and tries to whip him into the post, but Spike holds his ground, and Manson collides with the post face first with a thud!


Manson goes down in a heap but he has no time to rest. Spike immediately pulls him up, knowing he can’t take away Manson’s coveted tag belt without defeating him in the ring. With Kivell up to a seven count, he rolls Manson in and heads inside himself, going for a cover.











“Spike only manages a two and a half!” shouts Mak.


“OMG! It’s happening again!”


Time flies ahead once more and as we come back to Manson and Spike in the ring, Manson is now covered in red, as we see him on his knees in front of Spike, with Jenkens landing precise fist after fist to the wound on Manson’s forehead. As the Bull sits dazed, Spike backs up a step, comes forward and lands a boot to the face, knocking Manson down.


“Why the hell does this keep happening?”


“A rip in space-time?” offers King.


“Can it just be people TiVoing and shit?”


“Yeah, we’ll go with that.”


“Anyway, Spike has been dominating this match since Manson took the metal ringpost to the face earlier and began bleeding since Spike started focusing on that area. He just hasn’t been the same after that.”


“You’re right. He just hasn’t been the same after that.”


“Insightful as always. Despite that, he’s held his own, managing to get in some big moves of his own from time to time and frustrating Spike to no end. He’s not giving in without a fight.”


Spike pulls Manson up, landing another right to the face and driving Manson back into the ropes. However, Manson gets in a desperation eye rake, doing anything he can to keep this match going. Spike swats away blindly as he turns from Manson, allowing Manson to run him over with an enzui lariat! Spike goes down and feeling momentum shifting, he picks Spike up and places him in a headscissors.


“Could he be going for the Liger Bomb once more? He tried it earlier only to have it countered, putting a stop to a hot run of offense and turning this match back toward Spike.”


Manson lifts Spike up by the waist and struggling to keep him up on his shoulders, he runs forward and drives Spike into the mat, pinning him in the process!


“He hit it! This could be it!”













Manson can’t believe the call, as he lays back on the mat, gripping his hair in exasperation. Slamming a fist on the mat, he’s back to his feet while Spike tries in vain to stand. Calling for the end, Manson revs up his arm across the ring. He heads for the ropes and bounces off as Spike stands…




Manson swings, but MISSES AS SPIKE DUCKS! In a prone position with his back to Spike, he capitalizes, as he grabs Manson by the jaw from behind and yanks him into a Lung Blower! Manson bounces off Spike’s knees and cringes as he rolls over onto his stomach, while Spike stands. Spike calls for the end now with an X high into the air as Manson stands. Spike kicks Manson in the gut, setting up for Endwell as Manson goes down to a knee…


“And now could we see the Endwell by Spike, the same move which put Manson down after the disasterous Trios Match?”


…but Manson still has something left as he stands and clocks Spike with a wild haymaker, nearly knocking Spike to the mat on its own. Manson ducks under either arm of Spike, placing his arm across the upper chest and preparing an overhead Uranage, but Spike gathers himself quickly and rams elbows into the side of Manson’s skull, breaking the hold. Manson and Spike stand inches from each other after the broken Uranage attempt, but Spike is the first on the offensive, as he takes his right hand and digs his fingernails not into Manson’s eyes, but into the still open, seeping wound in the middle of his forehead. Manson screams in agony and goes down to a knee once more as Spike lets go, his cut dripping anew, but Hollywood doesn’t let it last for much longer as he manages a headscissors and hooks the arms, driving Manson into the mat and hitting the Endwell!


“Dirty trick by Spike, but there’s…”


“The ENDWELL!” shouts King.


















With “Creating Something Out of Nothing, Only to Destroy It” blaring, Kivell fetches the belt for Spike, who rips it out of his hands and exits the ring, holding it up for the crowd to see. However, as soon as he sets foot outside the ring, he looks back at Manson, who begins coming to after the Endwell. Jenkins grumbles and sets the belt on the apron, then fetches a nearby chair. He slides back in and staring down at Manson, he prepares to swing…




But Spike catches a glimpse of Davis out the corner of his eye and escapes under the ropes with chair in hand. He snatches the belt off the apron as Davis lunges for him over the ropes, but he’s just out of reach, as Spike backs up the ramp… right into JJ Johnson!


“As well as Manson’s tag team partner J3! JJ Johnson! But is he here to lend a hand after what we saw on Smarkdown?!”


Jenkins slowly turns, coming face to face with Johnson. He begs off from JJ, pointing to the fact that they’re a team now, then meekly hands the chair off to Johnson and continues his way up the ramp to J3’s confusion. He stares at Jenkins for a moment, before spotting Davis in the ring kneeling beside Manson and helping him up to his feet. Johnson rushes down to the ring with the chair in hand and both of his titles –the International Championship and his half of the Tag Team Titles- in the other.


“He doesn’t know what Davis is up to but it looks like he’s helping Manson out!”


“Or so it seems,” mutters King.


Johnson drops his titles as he slides into the ring, holding the chair at the ready position, as Davis stands Manson up. Sean begs off, not looking for any trouble from his former Revolution Zero teammate and he exits the ring, leaving Manson to settle matters with Johnson on his own.


“Davis didn’t want any of it, but it looks like J3 still has that chair in hand!”


Manson understandably looks ready to fight, but Johnson quells his temper as best he can, silently sliding the chair toward Manson in a show of faith. The Raging Bull glances down at the chair, then looks J3 square in the eyes, who throws up his hands in surrender and gestures that the successful team they have comes first. Manson nods in agreement and Johnson extends a hand of reconciliation. Manson accepts and echoes the words of Johnson, and the two hold each other’s arm in the air. They break hands and separate, leaving Johnson to grab his titles from off the mat.


“This is good to see. They shouldn’t let Spike get between them. It’s for the good of the success they’ve had as a team.”


“I’m watering up here, Mak… Jeez. Give me a freaking break.”


Then, as Johnson slings each belt over a shoulder and turns back around toward Manson…




Manson scoops up the chair and smashes it over his skull!


“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!” screams Mak, as Johnson drops like a sack of potatoes.


Manson stands over Johnson, who curls up in the fetal position with an arm over his eyes after being rattled by the chair. Emotionless, he then picks up each of Johnson’s titles and holds them in his outstretched arms…


“Is this why he did this? Just for those belts?”


“You have to remember that Manson doesn’t exactly operate rationally. He holds grudges and lives and dies on what he does in that ring. I’m sure wanting the International Title or wanting to be Tag Champion again has something to do with it, but if that wasn’t enough, perhaps he resents Johnson for having what he wants or was feeling slighted after what went down on Smarkdown.”


“Both Spike and Manson can burn for all I care. And Johnson has a match next! What’s he gonna do after being taken out here?”


“That’s JJ’s problem now. Manson is freeing himself of that problem.”


“Not if JJ has anything to say about it,” quips Mak, as Manson lays the belts down on Johnson, gestures for him to shove it to a number of boos from the crowd and exits the ring.”

Edited by Ace309

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"What the hell was that!?"


The question is being shouted at the back of a head. The person doing the shouting is Joseph Peters, head booker of the SWF. The owner of the head being shouted at is Michael Stephens, fresh from his in-ring facedown with Landon Maddix. He doesn't stop walking.


"What the hell was what?"


"That!" Peters yells, "damn it, you told me you were coming back to face Landon! That's why I agreed to resigning you, so we can actually get some goddamn ratings! You promised me Toxxic, I-"


Abruptly Stephens whirls around, black hair whipping through the air, and suddenly Joe Peters finds himself staring into two steel-grey orbs that seem to bore through the back of his skull. Peters is cut off in mid-bawl; it looks like a new haircut hasn't made the Straight-Edge Sensation's moods any less quick to change.


"I'd prefer it if you didn't call me that anymore, Joe," Stephens says quietly. "Now, as for the other thing; I'd suggest you listen to a recording of our conversation, if you took one. I never promised you anything, certainly not that I'd face Landon. All I said was that I had some unfinished business to take care of. I needed to check on my sister, and I needed to tell Landon once and for all that I am not getting back into the ring with him, under any circumstances. I've done one of those two things, and I'm on my way to see Amy now. After that you can book me in any match you want, but not with Landon."


"And if I book you against him anyway?" Peters says challengingly. Stephens tilts his head to one side and regards his boss with a certain detached curiosity for a second before replying.


"Yeah, you go ahead and do that," he says. "Let everyone on the roster, and everyone watching across the world see you put a former main-event star, a three-time World Champion, into the ring with a man who has on several occasions not just threatened but promised to cripple me. Watch any respect the roster may have left for you drain away. Hell, I'm valuable Peters. If you're prepared to sacrifice me for one payoff, what are you prepared to do with the rest of them?" He gives a humourless snort. "Besides, I'd just walk away."


"Breach of contract?" Peters asks, "I'd sue you."


"And I'd claim unsafe working environment," Stephens counters, "I don't care if we're a professional wrestling organisation Joe, after what he did to Cross and Ordonez Landon's threats would sway any court."


"And I suppose you want a World Title shot too, huh?"


"With Landon as World Champion? Please Peters, you're going to have to do better than that." He looks at his watch. "I've gotta go. Like I said Joe, I'm back on the roster. You can throw me into any sort of match you want as long as it doesn't involve Landon. Oh, and let Funyon and people know; I'm not Toxxic, I'm not the Straight-Edge Sensation, I'm Michael Stephens. I'm no-one but Michael Stephens. Don't forget it."


"But the name value-"


"Sod the name value," Stephens snaps, "trust me, I'll make sure people remember this one." With that, the former three-time World Champion turns on his heel and stalks off, away from the SWF's head booker. Peters glares after him for a moment, then spins around and sets off in the opposite direction with a scowl on his face.


"This deal keeps getting worse all the time..."

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JJ and Arch have a match so good, the scale has to be modified to accomodate exponents. JJ takes the win after an ultra-smooth and stiff strike battle, with the Canadian countering a third straight rolling forearm into a Fujiwara takedown and subsequently the Frostbite III for the tapout. Crowd chants 'This was awesome', 'Thank you', 'S-W-F', and every other cliche ROH crowd chant, but nobody has heard of ROH, because it's SWF land!


"Fuck!" swears Gus, as he notices he left the camera off.



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Tom Flesher swings open a door with the nameplates "GHOST MACHINE" and "DEEP THROAT," as well as a sharpie scribble that appears to read "Chris Velour." In the trailer, Allison Onita sits in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, watching the proceedings on a monitor.


"Hey." She stands up, smirking, and Flesher leans in and kisses her quickly.


"Allie, listen, I'm kind of in a hurry here. Have we been getting cell service out here?"


Allison checks her phone and frowns. "No bars."


"Crap." Flesher sighs. "Well, I guess that's part of being away from civilization. Do we at least have a beer fridge in the trailer?"


Allison shakes her head.


"Listen, I need to go out," he sighs. "I'm gonna have to talk to Peters, though, so if you see him, tell him I need a meeting. And if you have one of those contract blanks left over from when we re-signed, have it handy. I think we're going to need to fax it out tonight."




"Relax," Tom says. "I just want to get in contact with someone. Oh, and if you see Bill around?"




"Tell him I need a favor."


With that, Flesher grabs his messenger bag. He pecks Allison again on the cheek and rushes out the door.

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