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MONDAY NIGHT SHOWCASE #62 – CROWN OF THORNS

[Click.]

[Static covers the screen as a Play ► symbol appears in the bottom right hand corner.]

“Breaking News!”

[The sterilized environment of a hospital room always feels colder than it looks. Mike Lane sits upon a table, his legs dangling over the edge as he waits in anticipation for the Doctor. When he comes, the news is not good.]

“I’m afraid that I have some bad news,” [The Doctor says, looking through a file he brought with him.] “You’ve a grade two partial muscle tear. The muscle hasn’t ripped entirely, but enough that you’re going to struggle for the next few weeks, perhaps longer.”

[Michael looked at him, his brow furrowed.] “There has to be something we can do?”

“The immediate treatment is the use of something we called the RICER protocol – rest, ice, compression, elevation and referral. That’s what we’ll do in the 48-72 hours after this injury. We do that with an aim to reduce the bleeding and damage in the muscle. You’ll need to rest your leg in an elevated position with an ice pack applied for 20 minutes every two hours. No heat, no alcohol, no running, no activity and no massage. I’m sorry Mr. Lane, but you can’t compete, not for a few weeks.”

[The Doctor pats him on the shoulder and exits the room. Lane looks around, debating his next move. There’s no way that he’s missing Ring King, there’s just no chance in hell.]

“The Shadow King doesn’t quit, he endures.”

[Suddenly, the lights go off.]

[Flutter.]

[When they return, The Scarecrow is there! He grabs Mike by the legs and whips him off the table, the back of his head crunching off the floor with a sickening thud. That knocks him unconscious as The Hayman flings open the door and begins to drag him down the corridor by his legs.]

[Doctors and Nurses run in different directions, terrified of this ‘thing’ they’ve just encountered.]

[But here comes Security!]

[With Tasers armed, three security officers are the only men standing in the way of The Scarecrow and taking off with Mike Lane into the night. He steps forward, receiving the first Taser right to the chest!]

[It doesn’t stop him. It doesn’t even affect him.]

[The other two quickly fire theirs, but darkness interrupts them.]

[Flutter.]

[And the lights are back, only The Scarecrow has gone! All three security officers rush to check on Mike Lane, who thanks to that devastating blow to the head, has yet to regain consciousness. There’s no way that did any good for his leg either.]

[The footage comes to a close with Doctor’s rushing over to help out the patient, who is in no good shape. How will he be able to compete here tonight, just 72 hours after this?]

[Black and white.]

[The Silver Shroud sits on the desk in his makeshift office, in the abandoned downtown brick building. His world-weary voice narrates as he huffs on a rag held up to his nose and mouth.]

They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

[He chuckles.]

That’s like saying water is wet. I’d love to tell ya how I have the nose of a bloodhound and that I can smell burnt toast from a half-mile away, but you know what? You don’t need my nose when half the pimps, pushers and players in this city try to extinguish their fires with half a gallon of cheap cologne.

[The drawers of the desk and filing cabinets are all pulled open, their sensitive contents on display.]

James Hunter fancies himself as a bloodhound too. He took one whiff of me and now he views it as his civic duty to come blowing hot air my way, threatening to expose me and run me out of town. Kid, if I had a nickel…

[He stands and walks around the back of the desk. He picks up his SHROUD nameplate and slides it into the inside pocket of his silver trenchcoat.]

[Lowering the rag from his face, his nose scrunches as he looks around at his digs, almost whimsical.]

I never claimed to be a saint. I’m just a man who wants justice, like anyone else. Sometimes that means getting my hands dirty. You say you’re going to expose me? Maybe the world has already seen the blood on my hands. Besides, it’s not as though the next person’s hands are any cleaner. I’ve done things, sure… but I’m a good man. We still exist in this cesspool.

[He walks back round the desk and towards the office door, disappearing out-of-frame. Slosh]

We’ll play it your way, Hunter. I never was much of a gambler. I have conviction in my actions but I can’t take the chance you’re not bluffing. Like I told you last week, these people need me – whether they realise it or not. Whatever it is you may know about me, I have to treat it as though it’s… incendiary.

[A red can flashes past, followed by the unmistakeable striking of a match. Scratch]

[WHOOSH! Fire engulfs Shroud’s office as the metal door slams shut behind him. Ash floats in the smoky air as the blistering flames ravage the paper documents and photographs inside the cabinets and drawers, destroying all evidence… burning Shroud’s life’s work.]

[What on earth could Hunter have dug up on Shroud to make him take this measure!?]

[Following the destruction of another rival, a hero steps up to the Asylum in hopes of bringing one of them to justice. Can the Shroud deliver law to the Doubt or will Emotion take yet another hero?]

[The bell rings as both men circle one another, Doubt crossing his hands over the steel bars, feigning going to climb up as he slips out of the Shroud’s grasp, slamming him head first into the wall of the cage. Shroud is still on his feet staggered as Doubt leaps up, drilling Shroud in the side of the head with a knee before spiking him into the mat with a DDT. Doubt doesn’t cover, instead backing up, turning around as he claps his hands once, CAUSE OF DOUBT! The Emotion begins to climb up the cage, getting halfway up before he notices the Shroud getting to his feet]

[Doubt drops down, pulling the Shroud up to his feet but gets a right cross to the face before a big uppercut staggers Doubt back. Shroud grabs Doubt by the waist, trying for a Belly to Belly but Doubt blocks it, trying to fight out with elbows. A hard elbow staggers Shroud who breaks the hold, backing up for a moment before nearly taking Doubt’s head off with a massive Roundhouse. Doubt is out on his feet as The Shroud grabs him once again, throwing him across the ring with a huge Belly to Belly right into the steel cage wall!]

[Shroud pulls Doubt up, signalling for the end but he gets swept down to the mat as the Emotion drops down, trying to lock in the Second Guess but as he tries to spin Shroud around, he gets a right hook that staggers Doubt back. Shroud gets to his feet, pulling Doubt over his shoulder, trying for Pale Justice but Doubt drops down behind his back, shooting a knee into Shroud’s gut as he turns around, EATING YOURSELF ALIVE! Shroud is unconcious on the mat as Doubt slowly begins to climb up the cage, he gets to the top right as the Shroud is stirring but it’s too late as Doubt climbs out and drops down to the floor as the bell rings]

[The crowd boo as the Shroud slowly gets to his feet in the ring, visibly annoyed as Doubt walks down the ramp, celebrating his victory over Justice once more]

[The Enforcer has had a rough couple of weeks and barely looks like himself. His eyes look heavy with bags darkened underneath them from a lack of sleep and his face is white, like a ghost. After everything that has happened in recent months, he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown.]

[He walks down the darkened corridor of the backstage, only something irks him. He stops, turns around and looks into the darkness behind.]

“Hello?” [Kersh calls out]

[Nothing.]

[By now, his mind had started to play tricks on him. He continues, only once again, something demands that he stop. With his eyes peering into the black, he again see’s absolutely nothing.]

“Mr. Kersh, can I?”

[THWACK!]

[Before he even knew what he did, Brent Kersh threw a punch, as if on instinct. When he turned back around to face the direction he was heading, new Old School Wrestling interviewer Sammie Stone, was stood there.]

“Oh no!” [Kersh panicked, dropping to his knees to check on the new guy.] “What were you doing creeping up on me, kid?”

[He lifts his head only Stone is unconscious, knocked clearly into next week. The look of guilt and anguish paints a picture across the face of Brent. He has to snap out of this.]

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” [he pleads.] “I can’t do this anymore, I just can’t.”

[‘The Enforcer’ stands up, walking back down the corridor from which he just came, having given up.]

[Brent Kersh has had enough.]

[The camera pans out, stopping at the darkness, where The Scarecrow ominously stalks, having been watching poor Brent Kersh all along.]

[The reborn Lazarus’ second life may prove to be short-lived when he does battle with the returning, demented Ozric Mortimer – next!]

[Lazarus prays to God before the bell as Mortimer mocks him with a devilish grin. Lazarus wastes no time in chopping and kicking him into the ropes but the towering Ozric counters a whip and plows through him with a diving shoulder smash! Oz pulls him up into a belly-to-belly slam that shakes the ring, then kicks him under the ropes to the floor. Mortimer rolls over the ropes and picks Laz up – only to eat a dropkick which sends him into the stands! The crowd scatter as Oz hits the stone steps back-first. He swipes at Laz, but The Phoenix jumps up for a hurricanrana that sends Oz face-first into the apron!]

[Laz rolls him inside. One… Two—Oz benches Laz off of him! The Sparrow throws a forearm haymaker but Laz ducks it and hits the ropes – single-leg dropkick! Oz sways but doesn’t go down. “ooOOHH…” Another dropkick rocks him. He’s still standing! Laz off the ropes—he ducks a flying knee from Oz—shoryuken! It’s not very effective. Oz taps his cast-iron temple, smiling. Laz shrugs and hits a chopblock that finally brings Oz to his knees! Laz backs into the corner – Dark Wish BLOCKED! Oz catches the kneeling superkick and slaps a headlock on Laz—he wraps around him—inverted DDT, the Pocketful of Posey! He can hit that move in the blink of an eye – One… Two… Thr-shoulder up!]

[Oz glares at the referee, who bails outside to laughter from the crowd. Mortimer pulls Laz up and tries to rip his mask off! The Nightmare has been on a crusade against masked wrestlers. Laz breaks free and kicks at him but gets caught again… enzuigiri! “Ooohhh…” Oz is once again unaffected by the blow to the head! Laz backs into the corner… The Sparrow charges at him with a spear—Lazarus pulls himself up—Ozric CRACKS his skull into the ringpost! That’ll do it. That’d kill a normal man but Lazarus settles for Mortimer falling on his back, stunned. Lazarus crosses his chest and comes off the top with the REBIRTH double foot stomp but OZ SITS UP! Laz spikes the landing and we witness a TRAUMATIC INCIDENT, the gringo killer! One… Two… Three!]

[Already recovered from the ringpost collision, Oz laughs to himself maniacally over the twisted body of Lazarus. What the hell will it take to put this man down!?]

[A howl echoes through the halls of The School Yard as a gust of wind brings forth The Spirit Walker into frame. Later, he will do war with Marvolo for the next spot in Ring King, but, at the moment, his attention seems divided. He withdraws a tomahawk that he holds at the ready.]

[He walks down the hall as his brown eyes scour the backstage area looking for the location of the howl. His eyes spot a door ajar that seems to capture his attention. He opens the door slowly before sneaking into the darkened room. Only one hanging lightbulb casts light into the room, leaving the edges of the room hidden in shadows.]

[Tommy Hawk takes a few steps glancing over his shoulder with nearly every step.]

“I have followed the shadows and heard your cry for war. You have intervened in my spirit walks and casted doubt upon the innocent. Your arrival has birthed a monster within me. The Savage has risen to conquer those who spread their evil into the world.”

[Footsteps can be heard in the darkness as Tommy Hawk turns to their location. It’s just then that another pair are heard behind him.]

[A hand grabs him on the shoulder as Tommy twirls around to see the shadowed face of Austin Fernando grinning at him.]

“Sorry for the fright, Hawk. I just saw you enter this dark room and thought I’d offer my help. After all, I am the Epitome of Greatness. They don’t give me that title for no reason.”

[Tommy Hawk gazes through the shadows to where he saw the other pair of footsteps.]

“Worry not. We shall find this beast yet. Then, it shall be purged.”

[Austin Fernando’s eyes look over in the direction that Hawk is looking as he smiles.]

“Sounds like a plan. Let’s destroy this bastard!”

[Tommy Hawk realizes that the beast is gone and turns to face Austin Fernando.]

“We shall purge him soon enough.”

[Hawk puts the tomahawk away as Austin Fernando follows him with his head. The light flickers as Austin Fernando turns towards the location where the other steps were as the shadows cover his entire face with the exception of his crooked grin.]

“Soon. That title will be ours soon enough.”

[This one is about to get underway! Jack Jeckel stands on the ring steps peering into the ring at Scarecrow who stands still in his “perched” posture. A sadistic grin forms on the lips of “The Boogeyman” as he slips between the ropes and the official calls for the bell.]

[LOOK OUT! Jeckel attacks with a running clothesline BUT SCARECROW COMES TO LIFE DUCKING THE ATTEMPT AND… THE HAYMAKER!! HOLY HELL! Scarecrow connects with that powerful right hand BUT IT DOES NOT SEND JECKEL OFF HIS FEET!! Jack stunned and “The Harvester” hits the ropes. On the return IT’S A RUNNING KNEE TO THE MID-SECTION OF JECKEL!! AND NOW HE GOES DOWN! Scarecrow moves in for the cover. ONE… TWO… NO! It’s only a two count this time! The monster Scarecrow showing some discontent with the official as he pulls Jeckel to his feet. HOISTING him into the air for a body slam…]

[BUT “THE BOOGEYMAN” SQUIRMS AWAY! Falling to his feet as Scarecrow turns AND HE’S CAUGHT WITH A BACKHAND FROM JECKEL! AND ANOTHER! AND A EUROPEAN UPPERCUT FOLLOWED BY A BIG RIGHT HAND UPPERCUT!! IT’S JECKEL’S TURN AND HE’S TAKING ADVANTAGE! Grabbing the neck of Scarecrow and DRIVING a knee into his gut. Scarecrow heaved forward and BOOGEYMAN BOMB!!! BOOGEYMAN BOMB!!! THE CROWD CANNOT BELIEVE IT!! WHAT A MOVE ON A GUY LIKE SCARECROW! And now Jack crawls over to make the pin. ONE… TWO… SCARECROW gets a shoulder up!! This contest is turning vicious and in a hurry!]

[“The Harvester” is pulled to his feet. Jeckel cinches in and BELLY TO BELLY suplex from “The Boogeyman”, but Scarecrow REFUSES to stay down. Jeckel doesn’t mind at all and he gives off an evil grin as he hits the ropes. Scarecrow is up, but BACK BODY DROP BY SCARECROW and Jeckel hits the canvas. “The Boogeyman” won’t give up that easy and he’s back to his feet. The two converge. BIG RIGHT HAND FROM SCARECROW! A RETURN BLOW FROM JECKEL! BACK AND FORTH THEY GO!! Scarecrow ducks a clothesline and WAIT! BYE BYE BIRDIE!!! Scarecrow nailed it. He makes the cover. ONE… TWO… THREE!!]

[Scarecrow immediately comes to his feet in his perched position, standing over the unconscious body of Jack Jeckel. The official reaches out but is too afraid to touch the victor to raise his hand before the lights cut out bringing the crowd into an uncertain frenzy.]

[From deep within the Schoolyard arena, the Asylum has their own small lair. Hysteria is nowhere to be seen, but Doubt and Smiley represent the group as droplets of water fall to puddle on the ground behind them. Darkness seems to reign in this area, some barely functioning lights keeping the place illuminated.]

“Now that our Edwards problem has been disposed of, it’s time for us to get back our tag team Championship.” [Doubt says to a very focused Smiley over to the side.]

“Ocean’s One is about to be uprooted.” [Smiley cackles, reminding the world just how deranged he actually is. The images of what happened to Belgium Roots last week still linger.]

[Before Doubt can continue, light floods the small room. Before either of Knock Knock can react, Lux Bellator enters the room with the light illuminating every corner of the room, almost providing a halo effect. Just as their eyes adjust, Knock Knock are sent back into darkness as Lazarus enters the room. The dark warrior lives up to his name as darkness takes the room back over.]

“A warrior and a priest walk into a bar…” [Smiley begins as he stands to his feet with Smiley Jr. in hand.]

[Lux doesn’t miss that gesture, nor the words of his foe.]

“The two of you have been spying on our private sanctum.” [Lux Bellator calmly remarks. There is no question here.]

“Of course.” [Doubt replies. No denial.] “The two of you have decided to enter our arena, and we have waited longer than we should have to get our rematch.”

“Besides,” [Smiley begins.] “You already have gold, Bellator.”

[Lux runs his hand over the All-Star Championship around his waist. He has not forgotten that he has it, nor will he.]

“That’s the thing.” [Lazarus says as he walks in front of his partner to look at the other duo.] “It’s not about the gold. It’s about finishing what we started last week, and what you two started by spying on us.”

[The Light Warrior quickly steps up beside his Dark counterpart.]

“What my partner is trying to say is that we’d like to formally lay a challenge down against you two for a match. No Shroud. No Hysteria. The two of you have been so damaged by the world that the Light of God needs to come into your life!”

[While his tone does not change, nor his countenance, Doubt’s mask almost seems to laugh at that remark. Almost. Doubt does not laugh.]

“Religion has no place in an Asylum, Lux. It’s only a failed method used to control the weak there. Sometimes the mind cannot be healed. Ask your partner. While you fight on the same side now, how long until Solomon reigns again, and all you will do is blame it on the fictional red horned evil.”

[Before Doubt even finishes, Lux turns to hold back his partner, who seems very angry at that remark. Doubt continues, ignoring this.]

“Once we have retrieved our titles, then we will finish our issue with the two of you foolish warriors of a lost cause.”

[Surprising everyone, Lux Bellator actually smiles at that remark. He takes a single step backward, and Lazarus actually does the same. The two appear very amused, while Smiley cranes his head in confusion.]

“Of course. You will do what you must. Your rematch will come sooner than later.”

[With Smiley and Lux saving their energy for Ring King matches, neither wants to risk a battle so Bellatorum are able to walk away undisturbed. As they leave the room, Lazarus turns to Lux Bellator.]

“I told you that wouldn’t work.”

[Knock Knock look on as Bellatorum leave.]

[What was that all about?]

[The Ring King tournament continues next with The Question James Hunter going one-on-one with Lux Bellator!]

[James Hunter smirks across the ring as Lux Bellator does a few last minute stretches before the two meet up in the center of the ring. Lux’s intensity is felt as even Hunter has to look away for a moment before touching the center of Lux’s cross on his mask. Lux slaps the hand away before lifting Hunter by his legs and driving him into the ground with a takedown before lighting his chin up with vicious elbows! Hunter begins to crawl away and gets to the ropes as the referee pulls Lux Bellator back.]

[Hunter climbs to his feet on the apron as he holds his jaw as if it might be injured. Bellator charges him but Hunter leaps back snapping his neck across the top rope! Lux snaps back as Hunter slides into the ring. Lux gets to his feet and is nailed by RELAX! The severe clothesline flattens Lux as Hunter smiles outward at the audience receiving a chorus of boos. He turns around as Lux has managed to get to his knees. He rushes him, wraps his head and DRIVES him into the mat with a snap DDT! Hunter rolls him over and pins his shoulders to the mat. One…Two…]

[Kickout by Lux! Hunter doesn’t seem surprised as he yanks the Holy Warrior to his feet. He whips him into the ropes before lowering his head. Lux hits the ropes but leaps over Hunter! The Question turns around to be welcomed by a knee to the gut before Lux hits the other ropes for DEUM LUCEM! The Ranhei is hit with success before Lux hooks both legs. One…Two…KICKOUT! Lux yanks him back to his feet but Hunter gets a thumb into the eye of Bellator! Lux backs up holding his hand to his eye. Question hits a snap spinebuster to Lux before pulling him to his feet before kicking him in the gut. He pull him in for a powerbomb and… THE CATHOLIC QUESTION!?! NO! Lux slides over him to avoid being hit by his own move before hitting the ropes for… THE ARM OF GOD! The tilt-awhirl headscissors into a single arm DDT! Lux transitions it into a Fujiwara armbar as Hunter is barely conscious! Lux gets a tight hold on his arm and WRENCHESSSSSSS it back! Hunter reaches out but only has one choice! HE TAPS!]

[The bell sounds as Lux Bellator pulls his hands to his face in celebration of moving forward in the Ring King tournament. James Hunter can’t believe he’s lost and is absolutely livid while the referee forces him to leave the ring. The referee holds up Lux’s hand as he smiles widely knowing he’s moved onto the semi-finals.]

[Inside of the Ocean’s One VIP Lounge, two very different scenes unfold. On one side, Nigel Royal is doing stretches and light calisthenics to prepare for his match with Smiley. On the other side, Marvolo stands in front of a mirror with Raquel, admiring his very shiny Tag Team Championship belt.]

“Nigel, old chap!” [Marvolo calls out, trying to imitate Royal’s method of speaking.] “Does Marvolo’s belt look better on the right or left shoulder?”

[He switches back and forth several times, but after receiving no response Marvolo turns around to find Nigel with headphones in his ears. #1 nods to Raquel, and she walks over to tap Nigel on the shoulder. He stands up with a frown.]

“We have two of the biggest matches of our lives tonight, best one get ready.” [Royal admonishes, while Marvolo merely grins.]

“Marvolo’s always ready.” [He replies, going to grab Nigel’s tag team belt. However, he stops and wrinkles his nose in disgust, nodding for Raquel to get it.]

“No need for headphones, Marvolo can sing for you. His last album went triple plutonium.”

[Royal doesn’t even groan, he just takes a moment to make sure he heard that correctly. Either way, neither man gets to keep up their repartee as the door opens to their locker room. Bellatorum enters, each of them looking at the Tag Team Champions.]

“Itching for a fight?” [Royal says, very tense.]

“Not at all, gentlemen.” [Lazarus says, a smile under his mask.] “I came to wish you gentlemen good luck. I’m hoping to see the two of you and my partner here in the final four of Ring King.”

[That doesn’t calm Royal at all, but Marvolo seems completely at ease.]

“Why thank you, Dark Marvolo, I appreciate your compliment.”

[Everyone else in the room looks confused until Lazarus realizes that their similar color scheme has caused the remark.]

“That being said, we just came from talking to Knock Knock.” [Lazarus comments, the tension ramping up in the room.] “They plan on making sure neither of you advance tonight. They want their rematch at those titles.”

“What’s your point?” [Royal says, cutting off any additional comment.]

“My point,” [Lazarus says, looking at an amused Lux Bellator.] “is that we want to see a fair fight. Everyone saw what Knock Knock has done to you guys in the past. Ring King deserves to be a clean tournament. So we wanted to let you know that we will make sure the Asylum stays away from your matches tonight.”

[Royal snorts in return.]

“One wasn’t born yesterday. What do you want in return?”

[Lazarus merely looks over at Marvolo and his belt.]

“A shot at those. Whenever the rematch happens for the Tag Belts, we want in on it.”

[Royal shakes his head in the negative.]

“We can bloody well handle our own affairs.”

[Nigel walks to shoo the masked duo out of the room, but Marvolo begins shaking his head in the negative.]

“Here’s the thing, Marvolo just turned down the crown in a dozen countries and principalities.

“What?” [Royal asks, not understanding what the heck that has to do with anything. Lazarus winks at Lux Bellator.]

“Because Marvolo is the next Ring King. He can only wear one crown.”

[That gets an eyebrow and a groan from Nigel.]

“So it’s a deal, Dark Marvolo.”

[Number One reaches out and shakes the hand of a smirking Lazarus. Royal lowers his head, shaking it as he does so. Marvolo isn’t done yet, though.]

“You guys only have one belt right now, Ocean’s One has two.” [He says to confused looks.] “So that means that you can’t do this.”

[He holds up his belt towards Royal, who takes a deep breath. This isn’t the first time this has happened apparently, but Royal acquiesces, holding up his belt. The Tag Team Champions press their belts together in an overly satisfying sound.]

[CLINK.]

[Puffing his chest out with pride, Marvolo walks away to look back in the mirror at himself while Royal gives a warning look to Bellatorum. It’s clear that Royal will seek revenge if either of the Warriors gets in their way of Ring King glory.]

[It looks like Lazarus was right, his way worked to get them a future Tag Team Championship opportunity.]

[Ring King looms for those involved though.]

[The Ring King Tournament moves onwards as Marvolo is doing his pre-match squats in preparation for his match with The Spirit Walker, Tommy Hawk.]

[The match begins as Marvolo walks up to his opponent with a bow. Tommy Hawk isn’t quite sure what to make of it, but Marvolo tackles him by the legs before rolling him up with a schoolboy! ONE…TWO… HAWK KICKS OUT! Marvolo gets to his feet before shrugging at the audience as if to say ‘can’t blame me for trying!’ Tommy Hawk grabs Marvolo by the sides of his mask but Marvolo steps on his foot before locking in a side headlock! He wrenches the hold but Hawk grabs his wrist and begins to power out of it. Marvolo turns his wrist and turns it behind his back.]

[Hawk shows a little discomfort on his face before throwing an elbow back to hit Marvolo on the chin. Marvolo is a little loopy but Hawk throws another to break the hold! Hawk hits the ropes before leaping for a shoulderblock which clears Marvolo out of the ring as he falls between the ropes. The Spirit Walker gets to his feet before hitting the ropes closest to Marvolo before hitting the opposite and… GOING NATIVE! The two fisted shot knocks Marvolo over the barricade and into the front row! The crowd are on their feet as Tommy Hawk grabs Marvolo up. The referee begins his count. 1! Marvolo throws his hands off before nailing him with a palm strike!]

[#1 climbs to the top of the barricade where he steadies himself. 2! Crossbody to Hawk from the barricade! 3! Both men are slow to get to their feet. Both men get to their feet as Hawk throws a punch that rocks Marvolo. 4! The masked man staggers backwards into the apron. 5! Tommy Hawk grabs Marvolo and tries to throw him into the ring, but Marvolo clutches onto his leg! 6! Hawk begins nailing him with blows to the back of his head before pulling him off. 7! Marvolo spears Hawk into the ring’s apron as he grimaces in pain. 8! Hawk isn’t missing a beat as he grabs Marvolo but #1 locks on a wristlock! Tommy Hawk tries to fight out but Marvolo locks in a… TOUCH OF DEATH! 9! Marvolo realizes the count and headbutts Tommy Hawk and rolls into the ring! Hawk turns around and… MAKES THE COUNT! Marvolo seems to think he’s already won but the referee tells him otherwise. He turns around for… THE SCALP! Marvolo hits the mat like a ton of bricks. Hawk covers him! One…Two…THREE!]

[Tommy Hawk raises a hand into the air as the referee raises his other. Marvolo rolls out of the ring holding his head in pain as he begins comparing to Raquel. The Spirit Walker moves on in Ring King as the new guy continues to make an impact.]

[Black and white.]

[The Silver Shroud limps through the backstage area to the sound of a bluesy sax. What little can be seen of his face is a colour swatch of greys, all of them receipts from his brutal cage match.]

[His whisky-soaked voice narrates the scene.]

They say—

[He slumps against the wall. Groan]

Ah, forget it… I just need to make sure it’s all gone.

[He opens a dark grey door—probably red or green behind the filter—and steps into the underground parking lot. He never was one to use the main entrances. The darkness embraces him as he pulls his collar up and disappears behind a row of parked cars. Sparks fly and a cigarette tip glows orange, giving him up.]

[Emergency sirens suddenly blare through the concrete structure as red, blue and yellow lights punctuate the black and white.]

“Guess they’re serious when they say no indoor smoking.” [Shroud quips, staggering vaguely in the direction of his blazing office. He stops in his tracks as the source of the lights is revealed.]

[It’s not a police cruiser but a fire truck that swings round the corner! Shroud stares at the firefighters hanging onto the back of the vehicle… Guy Fawkes masks sit under their helmets. Shroud immediately stubs his cigarette out and ducks down. The truck screeches to a halt, sirens still wailing, and Hunter’s Anonymous henchmen jump off, looking for Shroud!]

[The Long Arm Of The Law sneaks behind a row of cars, spinning red, blue and yellow lights intermittently breaking up the shadows. He gives one Anonymous firefighter the slip and peers over the hood of a sedan. The second firefighter stands between Shroud and his office. Wait, what if—]

[THUNK! Shroud falls back onto his palms as an axe cleaves through the hood of the car! Shroud races to his feet but James Hunter grips him by the throat and slams him onto the hood of the neighbouring car! Shroud struggles but between his cage match injuries, the crumpled steel around him, and Hunter’s grip, he’s going nowhere. Hunter leans in close, mere inches away from Shroud, who can feel his stoic breath despite the heart-thumping circumstances.]

“You’re not the only one who can play dress-up and go around saving the day.” [He sneers.] “You think your coat and trilby, beginner saxophone lessons, and bad habits make you an authority on things? You talk about good and bad, right and wrong – you see the world in black and white. You of all people should know that things are always a little greyer than that.”

[James pulls him up by his lapels, the car hood crumpling under him.]

“After all, would a good man have reason to torch his office?” [Hunter and Anonymous must have intercepted and responded to the call!] “There is no good or bad. There is only knowledge and power.”

[Anonymous henchmen stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Hunter. They stare at Shroud from behind their chilling masks…]

“You can convince yourself and everyone else that you do this for the greater good or some sense of justice, but you’re no different than I. You relish the power of operating outside the law. You treasure the knowledge you hold over people.”

[Hunter dusts off Shroud’s coat and drops him back into the dented hood.]

“I said I was going to expose you, and I will. Your act of arson achieved nothing. Next week, the world will know you for the killer you are.”

[Anonymous collectively turn and march away in perfect unison, obscuring Hunter among their ranks. Shroud slides down from the hood and sits in a heap, licking his wounds.]

[Did Hunter call Shroud a killer!? Does James have evidence or is this yet another one of his twisted mindgames?]

[It’s one half of Oceans One versus one half of Knock Knock to see who advances in Ring King.]

[The two men waste no time closing the distance and Smiley comes out on the offensive with an array of body shots to Nigel as The Bloodline tries to cover up. Smiley grabs a front facelock and hits a snap DDT. With Nigel down Smiley drops into a body scissors and attempts to lock in the Glasgow Smile but Nigel’s mat wrestling technique and submission acumen allows him to shift out of the body scissors and into a Boston Crab.]

[Smiley reaches the ropes and the referee calls for the break. Nigel hesitantly obliges but lifts a prone Smiley and continues the onslaught. Nigel hits a forearm smash to the small of the back of Smiley and lifts him into a Belly to Back Suplex! Nigel holds on to the move and hit’s it four more times in succession, holding for the pin on the last one. One….Two……Thre…NOOO!! Smiley get’s his shoulder up.]

[Nigel questions the referee over a slow count and doesn’t see Smiley dropping into position, SHOCK THERAPY! Nigel was turned inside out! Smiley for the pin, One….Two….NOO!! Nigel with the shoulder up!! Smiley hangs on to the hair and lifts Nigel to his feet. Smiley hits a russian leg sweep driving Nigel to the Canvas. Smiley transitions once again into the body scissors!]

[Smiley has Nigel locked in the body scissors and Nigel is trying desperately to escape! Smiley is working his hands to the jaw line and face of Nigel trying to rip the jaw from his skull!! Nigel get’s ahold of Smiley’s left wrist and once again begins to shift his weight and work free from the boddy scissors. With one fluid motion Nigel escapes and has the Dungeons of London applied!! Nigel wrenches back, planting his feet for leverage!! Smiley is forced to tap out!!]

[With that victory, Nigel advances to the semi finals for the second year in a row. Nigel rolls under the bottom rope and begins to celebrate as he makes his way toward the backstage area.]

[Jack Jeckel and Lance Norman are together in their locker room, discussing their plans ahead of Ring King. Jack and Jake will finally meet here in Old School Wrestling and wait a minute, the door suddenly and slowly opens.]

[Smoke starts filling the room.]

[Jack and Lance start coughing, searching the room for the door that has now been closed. Their eyes fill with tears, their lungs with smoke and their heads quickly become disorientated.]

[On the floor is a tear gas grenade, rolling around, spewing out toxic fumes at both men.]

[Naturally, they hit the deck, hissing and spitting, gasping for air.]

[That’s when into the room walks Jake Jeckel with a Gas Mask. He walks past his brother and reaches down, picking up Lance Norman and lifting him over his shoulder. Jack scrambles to reach out, trying to grab at Jake’s legs as he walks on by.]

“I remember you, little brother,” [Jake mumbles through his gas mask.] “I remember how you used to be. That begs the question, doesn’t it? Who are you without your master pulling your strings?”

[Jake walks towards the door and stops, turning back one last time.]

“I’ll see you at Ring King, Jackie-boy.”

[He exits the room and slams the door shut behind him, leaving Jack to crawl towards it. He reaches out, grasping for the handle, only he loses consciousness before he can get there.]

[Jake takes off down the hall with Lance Norman unconscious over his shoulder, removing his gas mask as the scene comes to a close.]

[It looks like Jack Jeckel won’t have Lance Norman by his side next week!]

[In a rematch from Fallout, a wounded Mike Lane goes toe-to-toe with the deranged Jake Jeckel!]

[Jake eyes up Mike’s bandaged knee—courtesy of The Savage—and sneers at him like a hyena. They circle each other and Jake dives into a takedown but Mike dodges it and drives a knee into his neck. Mike tans his back with forearms but Jake charges him into the corner. Jake rams his shoulder into Mike’s ribs over and over, then grabs his bandaged leg! He wraps it behind the rope and wrenches the knee – shades of Fallout! “Come on, Jack!” Jake talks smack to Mike, replacing the Champion’s face with that of his own brother. 1… 2… 3… 4 – Jake frees Mike from the ropes to avoid a DQ. He kicks his knee out and charges at him – back drop over the ropes!]

[“Yeeaahh!” Fans rally behind The Shadow King but Jake is already up and drags his foot! Jeckel pulls him outside—ducks an enzuigiri—dragon screw into the concrete bleachers! “OOOHHH!” Mike crawls away but Jake stands on his foot – “That all you got, Jackie-boy!?”. He drags him up the stairs by the leg – no countouts here. Jake pulls him up, bad intentions in mind… DEGENERATION DOWN THE BLEACHERS! The crowd pop as the T-bone suplex sends Jake head-over-heels down the stands. After some respite for both men, Jake gets to his knees – Rolling In The Fast Lane! Mike leaping off the bottom rows with that knockout knee! He rolls him into the ring. One… Two… ThrNO!]

[Mike can’t help but smirk; Jake is one tough son of a bitch! He gets up and tests his leg; he couldn’t hit The Shadow Kick at Fallout… Jake staggers round – HE BLOCKS THE SHADOW KICK… PONY DOWN! One… Two… Threkickout! The chokeslam backbreaker isn’t enough. These warriors are giving it their all tonight and these fans are coming unglued! Both men rise, Jake edging Mike. German suplex! Uh-oh… German suplex! One more… Ger—Mike grabs the ropes! Jake rolls through – SHADOW KICK! “YEEAAHH!” Jake’s head snaps back like he just got shot! One… Two… Three!]

[The crowd cheer as the referee raises Mike’s hand in victory and passes him his Championship. He endured Jake but he can barely stand after the Juggalo’s punishing offense. Jeckel comes to on the floor.]

[In the office of Errol Flint, our chairman is keeping a very low profile indeed. He sits behind his desk, bottle of whisky sat in front of him, half empty.]

[Everything he had planned with Jake Jeckel had gone awry.]

[And now Lance Norman was here, threatening everything he’d ever built.]

[Suddenly the door burst open and a surprising face stood before him; it was Brent Kersh and ‘The Enforcer’ looked like he’d had enough.]

“I give up,” [Kersh announced, storming into the room. He slammed his hands down on the desk so hard that the bottle of whisky shook.] “I’ve had enough.”

[Flint looks up at him in confusion.] “You have a contract; you can’t just walk away from it.”

[Brent frowns.] “What? I’m not walking away, I’m stepping forward. I know that Mike Lane and Scarecrow is set for Ring King and I want in. I’m done being afraid of my own shadow because of what he did to me.”

“What makes you think you deserve that? You were eliminated from Ring King, you lost to Jack Jeckel at Fastlane and you’ve been a broken down mess ever since The Scarecrow kidnapped you at VHS.”

[Kersh leans in.] “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. I’ve been walking around here in a haze for weeks because of The Scarecrow. That isn’t ‘The Enforcer’. Tonight, I decked Sammy Stone because I didn’t see him coming. I won’t let myself fall apart any longer.”

[Errol takes a sip of his whisky and contemplates the idea.]

“Well, if you’re telling me you’re in the match, then I guess you’re in the match. But let me warn you Brent, man to man, that going head to head with Mike Lane and The Scarecrow may be one way to overcome what happened to you, but it’s another way to have it happen again.”

[Both men look at each other and nod in synchronicity before Brent turns around and heads for the door. When Kersh said that he had given up, everyone thought he was done; that it was over.]

[But the Enforcer fights until he can’t fight no more.]

[We have a huge main event tonight when the Enforcer takes on the Lost One. Has Kersh recovered from the Scarecrow’s torment or will Hysteria’s rage from the returning Sparrow be too much for The Enforcer to stand up to?]

[The bell sounds as both men rush forward, laying into one another with hard rights and lefts, a massive slug fest taking place as the Enforcer gains the advantage with a hard right hook that staggers Hysteria back. Kersh quickly takes advantage, rushing to the ropes as he bounces off with a puro style lariat, turning Hysteria inside out. Hysteria staggers back up to his feet right into a massive European Uppercut that sends Hysteria stumbling into the ropes but as Kersh rushes forward, the Lost One rolls out of the ring, trying to get himself some breathing room]

[Kersh rolls out himself, going after Hysteria but he walks right into a sharp headbutt that stuns the Enforcer before he’s thrown head first into the turnbuckles, landing with a sickening thud. Hysteria doesn’t waste any time, powering him up to his feet before rushing forward, spearing Kersh into the side of the ring, the Enforcer yelling out in pain. A sickening chuckle comes from the Lost One as he throws Kersh back into the ring, rolling back inside himself before delivering a rolling knee to the back of the Enforcer’s head]

[Hysteria patiently waits for Brent to get to his feet, stalking him around the ring and as he does, rushes foreward with another massive spear, you could almost hear ribs cracking upon impact as Hysteria keeps a hold on Kersh, delivering a pair of sickening knees that drive all the wind out of the Enforcer before pulling him up onto his shoulders. APATHY! The Enforcer hits the mat, holding his ribs in pain as Hysteria climbs up to the top rope, sizing Kersh up before leaping off with a 220 pound Cataclysm! Kersh screams out in pain as Hysteria rolls him over, hooking the leg for the cover]

[ONE…TWO…Brent gets the shoulder up! Hysteria isn’t happy with that as he rolls back, waiting for Kersh to sit up before crushing him with a low Big Boot. Hysteria pulls Kersh up to his feet, as he gets a massive right hook for his troubles. The Enforcer isn’t done as he rushes forward, trying for another Lariat but he’s grabbed by Hysteria, who turns his momentum into a Stun Gun. Brent staggers, holding his chest in pain as he walks right into a big kick to the gut, THE MOCKERY! This has to be it, Brent Kersh is done as Hysteria covers, ONE…TWO…THR…KERSH GRABBED THE ROPES!]

[Hysteria is incensed, pulling Kersh from the ropes before covering again. ONE…TWO…BRENT KICKS OUT! Hysteria is beside him, but his anger quickly fades as a twisted idea crosses the Lost One. Hysteria puts one hand inside his shirt, grabbing something as he waits for Brent to get to his feet. THE LAST STRAW? Hysteria just threw a handful of straw into the Enforcer’s face as Kersh drops to one knee. Hysteria rushes forward, trying for another Big Boot but the Boot is stopped in mid-air by a large right hand as Brent gets to his feet, an incensed look on his face as he tosses Hysteria aside.]

[Hysteria gets up right into a huge knee from the Enforcer before he finds himself spun around and nearly driven into the canvas with a massive Spinebuster. Hysteria barely hits the mat before Kersh mounts him, punching down with heavy hands, pounding down before a massive right puts a huge crack down the mask of the Lost One. Brent gets to his feet, both hands bloodied as he backs up, waiting for Hysteria to get to his feet, before rushing forward and delivering a huge running elbow that looks to have knocked Hysteria out. Brent drops down, hooking the leg. ONE…TWO…THR…KERSH BREAKS THE COUNT!]

[Kersh pulls the limp Hysteria up to his feet, throwing him into the corner before pounding him down to the canvas with a hard right hook. Kersh backs up, sizing up the broken Hysteria before running forward and crushing him with a huge knee to the temple. Hysteria falls out of the corner but as Kersh goes to pull him up again, he gets a thumb to the eye for his troubles, LOST HOPE! LOST HOPE OUTTA NOWHERE as Kersh crashes to the mat, Hysteria slumping down to as he hit it out of instinct alone. Hysteria somehow manages to throw a shoulder over Brent as the referee counts, ONE…TWO….THREE!!!]

[The referee pulls Hysteria up, the Lost One can barely stand as he raises his hand in victory. The rest of the Asylum walk down and as they help him to the back, Hysteria mocking the fans and Brent Kersh as he celebrates his victory]

[After that gruelling Main Event, Hysteria gets back to his feet, looking like he just went through hell in the middle of that ring.]

[He stumbles towards the corner, where pyro suddenly shoots out of the turnbuckles!]

[WHOOSH!]

[The fans ‘OOHHH’ as Hysteria falls backwards onto his ass, checking out each corner frantically. He was confused, fearful, even.]

[The Mastermind rolled towards the bottom rope, looking to escape the ring as quickly as he could.]

[WHOOSH!]

[Fire engulfed every exit, lighting up underneath all four sets of ropes, turning this ring into a blazing inferno. Hysteria scrambled, looking left, looking right, but he couldn’t see a way out.]

[The Asylum came pouring in from the left hand set of stairs, rushing down the steps as quickly as they could. They circled the ring, reaching towards the flames, only snapping their hands back in pain.]

[They couldn’t reach him.]

[Then a voice, laughing hysterically, pierces our ears inside the arena.]

“What’s the matter, Hysteria?”

[Ozric Mortimer, stealing his catchphrase.]

“If you can’t stand the heat, you should get out of the kitchen,” [he says with a cackle.] “But look, I know that you’ve this burning desire to find out what’s going on. You have questions, don’t you? Why did I show you that footage? What was my involvement? When will I come clean and who put me up to it.”

[Hysteria looks around the corners of the arena, trying to spot Mortimer, only he isn’t there.]

“At Ring King, I will answer your questions. Nightmares are real, Hysteria. This one is yours.”

[The flames WHOOSH one more time, higher than before, as Hysteria stands in the middle of the ring, wondering what the hell is going on.]

[And with that, Monday Night Showcase comes to a close.]