(CUE UP: "Il Trielo" by Ennio Morricone.)
(The shot opens up on a row of cheering fans, holding up signs and mugging to the camera. It looks like any typical shot of the audience during any regular show, but as the camera pulls back we can see that this isn't necessarily the case, as the scene is taking place in the parking lot outside the arena. It happens to be EPW Fan Appreciation Day, another minor event serving to hype up the monumental 75th installment of Aggression, and the Philadelphia wrestling faithful have converged in full force. Many names and faces, current and old, can be seen throughout the area, attracting small droves of their own fans for the usual signing of autographs and posing for photos.)
(Right now, the camera finds itself on two long-time fixtures of EPW television. Seasoned reporter KENNY LOMBARDO stands in a chocolate-brown suit, looking like a million bucks with the mic in his hand. Nearby is ROCKO DAYMON, waving and shaking hands with some of the fans on the other side of the barricade behind them, dressed in jeans and his new t-shirt, showing the kanji lettering for the Japanese word "fumetsu" in silver across a black background.)
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! Kenny Lombardo here, at the EPW Fan Appreciation Day! Today, to commemorate 75 Aggressions in ten years, the stars of Empire Pro's past and present have made their way here to Philadelphia to give the loyal fans a chance to come face to face with some of their favorite names!
Standing here with me now is one such name... a former World Heavyweight Champion of Empire Pro, and one of the men who will walk into the battle royal at Aggression 75... here he is, ROCKO DAYMON!!
(The line of fans cheer. Rocko smiles, waves... reserved, but still acknowledging the support, and looking genuinely touched to be getting it. Then he turns back to Kenny with the mic and the camera set on the both of them, and gets right down to business.)
Thank you for the introduction, Kenny... although if you don't mind me saying, I don't plan on that "former" part sticking around much longer.
(That draws another quick pop.)
Since your return, you've been clear on your intentions to once again compete for the World Heavyweight Title... but walking into the battle royal Aggression 75, you're getting your first real chance and stepping back up that level. But of course, surviving such a match is no easy task. How are you preparing for such an overwhelming challenge?
Well, that's a tricky question, Kenny... because there's no perfect way to truly prepare for a match like a battle royal. I've thrived in matches of three and four opponents over the past couple shows, but this is something else entirely. Just bodies and chaos. To survive that, I simply have to rely on my strengths... my wits, my experience, and my perseverance. I'll do whatever it takes, so long as I make it to Aggression 76 to write my ticket into Wrestleverse, and hopefully a second reign as champion.
But to get there, you're faced with some fairly steep competition. Just going down the list, there's Cameron Cruise, Malcolm Joseph-Jones, Eli Flair, Karl "The Dragon" Brown, Christian Light... will you overcome every one of these men using the same method to success, or do you approach them all differently?
(In the background, a few bodies appear to be shifting around among the fans, as though a path were being cleared. Over everyone's heads, we can see HORNS approaching...)
I wouldn't say it's a matter of approaching every opponent in a different way... because when an elimination can be as simple as a clothesline to the back of the head, walking in with a game plan is often times moot. What I will say is that I intend to be prepare for whatever may come... and when something unexpected arises, I'll find a way to be creative.
Hang on a second... somebody is coming through the crowd here!
(Emerging from the line of fans and boldly striding over the barricade is a towering VIKING WARRIOR clad in throngs of leather and shaggy wolf furs, with a mane of hair circling his head as golden as the sun and fierce eyes as blue as the northern oceans. The fans that recognize him cheer immediately.)
OLVIR ARSVINNAR!! I don't believe it!
(The Viking Violator strides over to the reporter as he holds out his hand for a friendly greeting. Rather than accept the handshake, Olvir snatches the much smaller Kenny and nearly smothers him into a ferocious bear hug.)
KENNY LUMBER-DOUGH!! It has been many voyages since last I have seen you!
(Lombardo finally breaks free from the Northman's grasp, quickly sliding a hand over his head to set his tussled hair back into place. By this point, Rocko has stepped off to the side to let the attention focus in on the reunion of two longtime collaborators.)
Yes, Olvir, it HAS been a long while! And after a long hibernation, it appears you've finally decided to make your bold return to Empire Pro at Aggression 75!
INDEED!! Many seasons passed where the Great Olvir hid from the rest of the world in seclusion! There was nary a war to be won, nor the supple hind-quarters of a bountiful maiden for my greatness to dominate! Finally, the great ODIN appeared to me in a vision, and commanded me to return to this esteemed Empire!
So, by his divine order, I have come back to fulfill my destiny, and pay tribute to the Gods with noble conquest in the squared circle of combat! This world must once again recognize the FURY and STRENGTH of the Vikings, and the Great Olvir Arsvinnar will be the one to remind them!
All of those in this ROYAL BATTLE... the YAK HARMEN... the YAMES HAUGHTON... the EEL-EYE FLAYER... the MALCOLM YOSEPH-YONES... they will ALL crumble before the UNYIELDING MIGHT of my RAGE!! One by one they shall all fall, until only THE GREAT OLVIR stands above all! And then, in my hour of victory, I shall claim the spoils of conquest, by DOMINATING the righteously curved butt-cheeks of the POISONOUS IVY!!
(The berserker flashes the camera his trademark massive and wide-eyed grin. Kenny blushes slightly.)
Well... THAT would be an interesting turn of events. But perhaps you shouldn't overlook a few of your opponents, one of whom is standing right here!
(Olvir turns to Rocko, who steps back up into the frame, still wearing a polite and respectful smile.)
So this is the famed DEMON OF ROCK!! I am HONORED to have finally met you!
(They respectfully "bro" shake.)
Honored to meet you as well, Olvir.
I greatly anticipate crossing paths with you in the battle ahead! No doubt, our meeting in the maelstrom will be a battle of epic and god-like proportions! To know a virtuous and honorable opponent such as you awaits me in my hour of destiny comes as a great relief!
I shall leave the two of you to your affairs, then! The GREAT OLVIR has had his eye on a wide-bosomed brunette who's been lurking around here...
(Olvir strides out of the frame, drawing a few more cheers from the fans as he wanders off further into the event, leaving Kenny and Rocko how they were.)
Wow, well... that came as quite a surprise! Who knows what more to expect at Aggression 75, and we're still not even through Fan Appreciation Day!
I thought I saw Christian Sands earlier today...
The original World Champion? REALLY?! Where?
Eh, I think it may have really been Steven Seagal...
Dang... well, in any case, where were we?
We were talking about how I'm preparing for the other men involved in this battle royal.
OH RIGHT! Well then, at this point, do you feel sufficiently prepared for everyone involved? Or do you think there might be one or two names that might give you perhaps more trouble than some of the others?
(Another disturbance appears to be happening within the crowd of fans, although this time it seems a bit more hectic, as though people are being outright SHOVED out of the way. There seems to be some sort of animalistic snarling behind it all...)
In that regard, I'm trying to give everybody equal treatment, from Cameron Cruise to Aaron Jones. There's no point in devoting more of my attention toward any one or two people in particular, just to have somebody else jump me from behind, because I didn't consider them to be threat. But every person in that ring could potentially pose a threat to my mission, Kenny. Some of them will try dominate me from the onset, and try to overpower me over those ropes any way they can, while others will try to stay as unseen as possible, striking when I'm preoccupied with someone or something else.
Wait, do you hear something...? Hold the phone, who is THIS now?!
(A second figure steps over the barricade, just as tall and imposing as the Viking that appeared earlier, but starkly different. From head to toe, he's clad in black leather, complimented with spikes sticking out from almost every angle, and his face is painted in the black-and-white offset of demonic black metal facepaint. A bloodthirsty snarl spreads across the monster's face as he stalks up to the two before the camera.)
Who are YOU??
(Immediately, the horrific giant grabs the reporter by this collar and yanks him within inches of his face, speaking at an ear-punishing volume that could be considered nothing less than an outright shout.)
WHO AM I?! YOU MISERABLE MAGGOT DICK... I AM THE BARON OF BRUTALITY, MAGNUS DESTRUCTO!!
(The Dreaded Devourer rips the mic out of Lombardo's hand and walks past the both of them to completely occupy the view of the camera and hijack the promo entirely.)
LISTEN THE FUCK UP, YOU WORTHLESS MORSELS... I HAVE COME LONG AND FAR FROM MY DARK BARONY OF DESTRUCTO, TO CLAIM THIS WRETCHED FEDERATION FOR MY OWN EMPIRE OF EVIL!! BOW THE KNEE TO THE MIGHT OF DESTRUCTO, OR FACE AN INEVITABLE FATE OF DECAPITATION!!
I'VE RUN DOWN THE LIST OF MISERABLE VICTIMS WALKING INTO THIS SLAUGHTER, AND TO SAY THE LEAST, I AM UNIMPRESSED!! NOT A SINGLE ONE OF YOU GUTLESS MOTHERFUCKERS SEEM TO HAVE A PAIR OF BALLS!! CLOSEST MAN TO GET TO THAT POINT IS SOME FLABBY AND WRINKLED MONGOLOID NAMED ELI GAYER, OR SOME SHIT!!
FUCK THAT GUY!! I'M BIGGER THAN HIM, I'M ANGRIER THAN HIM, AND I'M A LOT FUCKIN' LOUDER THAN HIM!! AND HE'S GOT EVERYBODY SHAKING IN THEIR PRETTY PINK PANTIES?! FUCK ALL YOU PUSSIES!! I'M GOING TO KICK A HOLE INTO HIS HEAD AND USE IT AS NEW SHITTER!
(He turns, pointing a finger directly at Rocko. Daymon stands with his arms crossed, patiently waiting for the other man to finish his diatribe, but doing nothing to exasperate the situation.)
AND YOU?! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE A FORMER CHAMPION OF THIS PISSHOLE?! GODDAMN, THAT IS PATHETIC... AND YOU'RE PROBABLY THE MOST PATHETIC ONE OF THE BUNCH!! YOU STAND AROUND ACTING ALL HIGH AND MIGHTY, LIKE YOUR SHIT DOESN'T STINK, BECAUSE WAY BACK WHEN NOBODY CARED, YOU WRESTLED SOME OTHER ASS-MUNCH THAT BARELY ANYBODY REMEMBERS!! GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELF, NERD!!
(Daymon responds without words, but only a defiant and determined gaze. Magnus turns back to the camera.)
IS THIS THE BEST YOU'VE GOT TO STOP THE DREADED DEVOURER?! AND WHAT LIES BEYOND THIS PETTY BATTLE ROYAL?! A SHRIMP I BROKE IN NEW YORK, A CHUMP IN A MASK WHO TRIED TO COP MY LIKENESS, AND A FAGGOT IN MAKE-UP!! DAN RYAN, THAT GLORIOUS DOUCHE, HAS LEFT HIS COMPANY LIKE A RIPE LITTLE LAMB JUST BEGGING FOR ITS NECK TO BE CUT, AND THE BARON OF BRUTALITY HAS COME WITH THE MACHETE IN HAND!!
MARK MY WORDS, WEAKLINGS... MAGNUS DESTRUCTO WILL CONSUME ALL!!
(Dropping the mic, Destructo stomps off, with the fans pelting him with jeers. He snarls and threatens to strike a few before eventually wandering off. Left alone again, Lombardo and Daymon shake their heads in disbelief, with the reporter picking up the mic and continuing.)
Well... those were some exceptionally bold statements, delivered by yet another competitor involved in the battle royal!
A colorful speaker, that one... and yet, when you think about it, his message isn't too different from everything else we've been hearing over the week.
And yet, over the course of this week, while others have gotten involved in the exchanges over the airwaves, you've remained on the outside of it all. Is there a reason for that?
Well let me say this, Kenny... I've been listening very closely to what others have had to say over the past week. We've heard issues come up on the topics of drive, and entitlement, and age. Some of the points that have been brought up, I happen to agree with. Others... not so much.
And I suppose I could take the time to run down the list and respond to every one of them... and in a different time and place years ago, I would have jumped at that opportunity... but these days, Kenny, it's just hard for me to find any point in all that. All this arguing, and trash-talking... where does it get us? Does ever end in a way that doesn't involve a debate on semantics?
Don't get me wrong, I understand the purpose. A couple guys generating heat over the days leading up to the show sells a few more tickets, or gets a few more people to tune in at home, and that makes Dan Ryan a happy owner. But realistically, what sort strategic advantage does it give me to stand here and explain how everybody else is wrong, and I'm the only who's right? I guess I just don't see how that really affects how a person performs once that bell rings.
Now, some would probably disagree... and I don't expect people to change old habits any time soon. A lot of guys get involved in the arguments and trash-talking because they enjoy it. Or maybe they just like to hear themselves talk. Others see it as a way to get into an opponents head. They think it works to that effect, anyway...
Me? I guess I'm a believer in the less said, the better. I'm not here to flaunt my ego... what's important is the match, and that's where I want the focus to be.
But everybody's entitled to their own opinion, and however they choose to let their message be heard is their own prerogative. But since you were curious enough to ask, Kenny, that's the reason why I'm not meddling in all of that. Frankly, I don't get anything out of verbally cutting down the other guys in that locker room, whether I agree with them or not. If I really did disagree, what good is telling them going to do? It won't change what they bring with them to the ring.
Words won't convince my doubters, Kenny.
(He raises his fists.)
I only need these to prove them all wrong.
You want my honest opinion? Well then, here it goes... I feel that being the competitor I am, with my experience, my strength, and my sheer will to outlast every opponent thrown my way, and considering I'm looking to answer a disappointing loss, and with the added stipulation of a potential title shot on the line... there isn't a single person involved in this battle royal that could possibly stop what I'm going to bring.
But nothing is certain until that bell rings, Kenny.
My loss at Aggression 74 was a great blow to my confidence. I always felt good about my ability to fight every match like my last, and to always give my opponent something to remember by. But I couldn't get that done back at Indianapolis... and that's been sticking with me ever since. Now I'm walking into an even tougher situation, and expecting from myself and even greater performance.
There's no point in standing in front of this camera and trying to bluff the entire world into thinking I'm the most determined and skilled wrestler walking into this battle royal, and nobody can possibly stop me. Anybody could stop me, if they really applied themselves to the task. Unfortunately, I wasn't born on the planet Krypton. I have flaws and weakness and hardships just like any regular human being.
...but, that can be a good thing.
Because if there's one thing I learned about the Empire Pro fans over this past decade... they don't tune into Aggression to watch the superhumans. They tune in to watch the regular flesh and bone human beings like them perform superhuman feats, and rise above the grain. And, that just happens to be how I've made my career... stepping up and exceeding expectations. After all, you can only gain the truest measure of a man who you've watched him fight his way back up from the bottom.
And that's the task ahead of me at Aggression 75... overcoming those flaws that have held me back... overcoming the increments of age, and the out of ring distractions. And finding a way to overcome everybody else, who is looking to deny me that second reign as World Heavyweight Champion.
But can I pull it off?
I won't pretend that I have the answer to that.
And frankly, nobody should. The uncertainty is what makes this market thrive. These people wouldn't be standing in line waiting to get their ticket right now if they genuinely already knew how this was going to turn out.
I don't know how this will turn out, Kenny... but at this point, I'm preparing for nothing less than absolute victory. Knowing who I am, and my ability to respond to defeat, I know I can overcome anything the world throws into my path.
And I'm sure it will truly be interesting to see what you manage to overcome once Aggression 75 is finally upon us.
Rocko, thank you for being here today, and taking the time for this interview...
Always welcome, Kenny. See you around...
(They shake hands, and Rocko takes another moment to turn to the fans in the background, wave a quick farewell, and he walks out of the frame to tend to other affairs. The camera centers on Kenny again as he directs his attention to the viewers at home.)
You just heard from one of Empire Pro's most esteemed veterans in Rocko Daymon... and I have to say, I don't think I've ever seen the Paragon of Professional Wrestling Excellence quite so determined!
We're only days away from Aggression 75, when the battle royal will finally take place. Will Daymon overcome the doubts, and prove that a figure from the past can be just as dominant and driven in today's face of the federation? Or will he cast out by any of the newcomers looking to pen their own names into the EPW history books? Join us later this week for Aggression and find out!
Once again, I'm Kenny Lombardo! If you're in the Philadelphia area, then come on down to the arena for the rest of Fan Appreciation Day, where I hear a few more surprises are in store! And for the rest of our fans in the Empire Pro universe, we'll see you at Aggression!
(Slow fade to black.)