Aggression comes back from commercial and cuts to a close-up of the announce table. Dave Thomas is trying to keep a straight face while Dean Matthews looks on in disgust at Mike Neely. Neely, having traded in the shirt he was wearing before, is now sporting a hand-written "QUEEN OF MY WORLD" T-shirt with Lindsay Troy's name scribbled inside a badly drawn heart.
DM: I have it on good authority that Melton's going to kill you after the show, Neels.
MN: Melton's one of my idols and all, but that geriatric will have to catch me first. TROY! I know you're back there, sweetcheeks. Call me later! We'll do dinner.
DM: Where? Denny's?
MN: How did you kn...wait a second!
DT: While Neely's last night on earth slowly draws to a close, [Neely: Hey!] Dan Ryan promised us a contract signing of epic proportions!
MN: I wonder how much that contract would be worth on Ebay. Think Ryan would photocopy it for me after the ink dries?
DM: I don't think so, Tim.
MN: It's Mike!
As if on cue, "ZERO" by The Smashing Pumpkins hits. The camera cuts away from the three announcers, pans across the ring where the tech crew has adorned the mat with a red carpet and placed a table, covered with a red tablecloth, and two chairs in the center, before settling on the entranceway. Dan Ryan walks out from the back to a mixed reaction [we're in Philadelphia, remember?], clipboard in one hand and microphone in the other. He takes his time walking down the ramp and entering the ring, but when he does the music immediately cuts off.
Ryan: Philadelphia, PA...
YAY! CHEAP POP!
Ryan: The city...of brotherly love...
YAY! CHEAPER POP!
Ryan: The home...of professional choke artists!
BOO! MASSIVE HEEL HEAT! Ryan sets the clipboard down in the middle of the table and smirks at the crowd. The fans are RABID!
DM: Talk about setting them up and knocking them down.
MN: Hahahaha, SUCKERS! Hey Ryan, tell the "Freddie Mitchell and Terrell Owens go into a bar" joke you were saying backstage!
DT: This is just uncalled for.
DM: But not terribly unlikely.
Two heavyset gentlemen in the front row wearing "MCNABB IS GOD!" T-shirts start frothing at the mouth.
Ryan: As fun as it is to come to this city and get under its natives' skin, this isn't the sole reason why I'm out here. EPW has a pay-per-view coming up and the main event needs to be secured. So, without further ado...
[Cue-up: "Jesus Walks" by Kanye West.]
No, it's not the Christian Son of God coming back to save the Philadelphians' souls from years of anguish and to lead them up to the Promised Land...but hey, Cross is out on the stage! Will he prove to be a worthy substitute?
I guess so.
Cross and Kanye walk through the valley of the shadow of death and eat pieces of ish like you for breakfast. WORD! The former A1E and CWWF World Champion strides down the aisle, hops up onto the apron and eases himself into the ring. He casts a weary eye toward Ryan, who merely golf claps in approval.
DT: Cross giving the Boss an uneasy look here, and can you blame him given what Ryan's done in the past to other superstars in this company?
MN: Hey, wait a sec...Bruce Springsteen's here?
DM: God, Neely, you're such an imbecile.
Cross casts his gaze down to the table where the contract lies, but immediately snaps his neck upwards once the lights in the Wachovia Center cut out. Cameras start flashing and the crowd's noise level becomes louder as the Ryantron lit up with an all-too-familiar quote.
"Do you really have to be the ice queen intellectual or the slut whore? Isn't there some way to be both?"
[Cue-up: "Money, Power, Respect" by Lil Kim, et. al.]
Pyro explodes on the stage and in the ring, causing the fans at ringside to duck for cover. Spotlights shine down onto the stage as Lindsay Troy walks out from behind the curtain, dressed in black boots, black pants and a suit jacket. Around her waist is the EPW World Title, glinting brightly as flashes of light explode all around her. She may not be parting the Red Sea, or restoring sight to the blind, but the Queen has the crowd in the palm of her hand...
...until she undoes the buttons of her jacket to reveal a t-shirt: an airbrushed image of the Patriots' mascot choking the life out of an Eagle wearing a TO jersey.
Crowd: DIE, *****!
Troy sneers at the Philadelphia faithful and cooly makes her way down the aisle, managing to duck and dodge various cups of liquid that are being tossed her way. She keeps her eyes locked on Cross in the ring before she, herself, hops up on the apron and flips herself up and over the top rope. Giving Ryan a nod, Troy climbs all four turnbuckles as the crowd, for the most part, lets her have it.
MN: This is NO WAY to treat a lady!
DM: Oh come off it already. Just take one look at her shirt and try and tell me that she doesn't deserve this reaction.
MN: In case you haven't noticed, DEAN-O, I'm not looking at her shirt.
DM: You're just sick, Neels.
MN: What? It's not as if I can help it!
The lights, thankfully, come back up to reveal Troy and Cross, one on each side of the table, locked in an intense stare-down. Dan Ryan eyes the two intently.
DT: You can just feel the tension between these two long-time friends and adversaries. Their friendship was forged in the X-Wrestling Federation and carried over to numerous other companies before being tested and taken to the limit on a scaffold in A1E.
MN: Why don't you just write a ballad while you're at it, Thomas!
Ryan finally reaches into the pocket of his pants and produces a pen, which he lays on top of the contract. Neither Troy nor Cross make the first move to reach for it. Only after a long, tense two minutes does Cross take the pen to hand and sign the line reserved for his signature.
The crowd cheers as he replaces the pen back on top of the clipboard, his eyes never breaking from Troy's after doing so. Her face, before set in stone, begins to show a hint of amusement as she takes the pen in hand and then the contract. She puts the contract under her arm and pulls out a microphone from inside her jacket.
Troy: It always comes down to this, doesn't it Xandor?
Ryan's eyebrows raise in interest as Cross' mouth twitches. He motions to a techie outside the ring and is immediately rewarded with a microphone of his own.
Cross: Just sign the contract, Lindsay.
DM: Doesn't look like Cross is in the mood for Troy's pleasantries.
MN: She asked him a question, the LEAST he can do is answer it!
Troy: So that's it, then? "Just sign the contract, Lindsay." You've got nothing else to say to me? No, "Hey, are you getting the same deja vu feeling I'm getting?" Or, "Don't you think this whole situation is a bit ironic?" I'll sign the contract, when I'm good and damn well ready. But Xandor...we haven't talked much since I won this title.
She slaps the faceplate of the EPW title and watches as Cross scowls.
Want to tell me why that is?
Cross slightly turns his head to the crowd as the roar in the arena increases a notch. After a second of letting Troy's smugness simmer inside, he turns his attention back to the champion.
Cross: You just don't get it, do you "Champ?" This...points at both Troy and himself then their surroundings ..."our relationship"...has never been about championships, at least not for me or my family. But obviously for Lindsay Troy, the EPW World Heavyweight Champion, it's always been solely about HER and HER ego.
Maybe that clears things up for you.
The noise level increases as Ryan crosses his arms in front of him and Troy looks out into the sea of people. She chuckles then whips her head back to look at Cross.
DT: WHOA! Family Show! I don't think the censors caught that.
MN: Ya gotta love a girl with spirit. I know I do!
DM: This could get very ugly very fast.
Cross looks slightly taken aback by the outburst while Ryan looks on, amused.
Troy: You hypocrite. Don't stand there across from me and tell me that this has never been about championships. DON'T EVEN. For your uncle, no...it never was. But for you...
She gives a moment's pause, then continues.
You've always wanted to go above and beyond the call of duty to the point of obsession. You want to finger point and say that I've got an ego problem? What about you, Xandor? It started with Dusty, it continued to me and my Triple Star Title then spread to Max's World Title. So don't you fuc[BLEEP!]ing stand there and feed me some story about how I'm the only person with an ego standing in this ring. You're nothing more than a liar if you do.
Cross: You just don't listen, do you? I said "OUR RELATIONSHIP" was never based on championships. My family didn't accept you on the basis of your winning titles. We accepted you on the basis of one man's love for a fatherless young woman. Maybe if you listened to Xandor more closely to his fatherly lectures, you would have heard that he always emphasized being the absolute best as long as it didn't compromise the concept of family.
I've done that. I am damn proud of it.
You, on the other hand, have taken whatever is to your advantage and done whatever the hell you wanted no matter the consequences to those who cared for you. You want to talk about hypocrisy? Then take a look in the mirror once in a while.
I admit I've gone over the top in pursuit of titles, but I would NEVER compromise my family to achieve it.
You didn't think twice when you superkicked me last week and you sure as hell didn't think twice when you threw me off the scaffold.
So...he who has no sin, may cast the first stone.
Troy: You would never compromise your family to achieve a title?
Then why the hell did you get up on that scaffold?
The crowd buzzes; these are old wounds that are being opened up on an unsuspecting audience. Troy knows it; Cross knows it; Dan Ryan knows it.
You knew the consequences and yeah, I'll be the first to admit that I had an inkling of what could have happened...to either of us...once that match started. But I've never been one to let the unknown scare me. But you? You've second-guessed yourself so many ******* times and you let your pride talk you into getting up there. You didn't compromise your family, knowing that you or I may have died up there? You didn't think of that ahead of time?
I did. And I got up on that scaffold for reasons that have become foggy over the years. Did I do it because it was my job? Because I had a reputation at stake? Or did I do it because I refused to be dictated to by a man that knows me better, at times, than I even know myself?
Can you look me in the eye and tell me that you've never compromised your uncle's love, ever?!
He was a mentor to me, your uncle. Half of what I do now I wouldn't have been able to do if he didn't help train me. I owe a lot to your uncle, but I never turned my back on him.
I didn't go running away to Mexico to go "find myself" or whatever the hell it was you did after he died.
Cross' face grows furious and he jerks the mic up to his lips, but Troy cuts him off.
This is the way it has to be, Xandor. You and I, as good of friends as we are and as many times as we've faced and forgiven each other over the years, are destined to fight over the things in this industry that promoters, wrestlers and fans hold sacred.
We did it in XWF. We did it in A1E. We're doing it here.
That superkick was not meant for you, but I could tell you that until I'm blue in the face and it's not going to make a lick of difference in the long run.
I'm thankful to have known your uncle for as long as I did and I'm thankful that, even though we're at each others' throats more often than not, I have you too. You give me balance, as warped and strange as that is half the time...you do.
So you know what?
Troy takes the clipboard, holds it up, gives it a quick read and signs her name with a flourish to the surprising cheers of the crowd.
We're going to do this...
She tosses the clipboard and pen back on the table.
Cross: As always, suit yourself, Champ. You got to believe whatever helps you sleep at night and I have to go out and do what's best for MY family.
Cross tosses the mic on the table as the crowd urges both combatants to give them a preview of the PPV. Troy tosses her mic onto the mat and steps up to the table, jawing with Cross who gives it right back to her. Cross looks about ready to flip the table over and reach over to take Troy's throat in his hands, but Ryan spreads his massive arms to separate the two.
Ryan: Now, now children. No need to start fighting over the toys just yet. There's still...one more thing I have to say.
Both Troy and Cross look at Dan, who merely smirks.
You see, I thought this match could use a little X factor so I took the liberty of asking a very special person to be the special guest referee. He's someone the both of you are quite familiar with and he should be coming out here, oh...
Ryan checks his watch
...right about nowish.
[Cue-up: "Eat the Rich" by Fozzy]
Troy's head snaps around to glare at the stage and entrance ramp while Cross' eyes narrow in disapproval. The crowd gives a HYOOOOOOOGE ovation as JA steps out onto the stage, microphone in hand and Lollipop by his side.
JA: Well, well look at what we have here. A veritable lovers' quarrel. Such a pity you two can't just kiss and make up. But hey, the World Championship will do that to you. Yes, tricksy hobbitses always trying to take our Precious.
MN: What the hell, did he watch the Lord of the Rings movies recently?
JA: See, I know what the World Championship can do to you. Hell, I've been through that in our unofficial sister company.
MN: See! I told you!
DM: Shut up Clapper!
JA: So, who bettah than Kanyo... I mean, Jericoholic Anonymous to oversee the festivities.
MN: GASP! He's going to get us sued!
JA starts walking to the ring with his girlfriend walking beside him.
JA: I know how intense a World Championship match feels. I know how tempers may flare. Hell, I could see that when you kicked your good buddy Criss-Cross in the mug, Miss Thang. And now you're at each others throats. How cute.
But being a grudge-holding, gunslinging mess of a wrestler myself, I can sympathize with your plights, which makes me the perfect ref for this match.
JA arrives to the ring, climbs inside the ropes and assists Lollipop inside as well. He moves the table out of the way and stands in-between Cross and Troy. Before he can continue, however, Troy takes her mic to hand and scowls at the Anglo-Luchador.
Troy: As heartwarming as your opening monologue is, you're forgetting that, lately, some of us win world titles when the opportunity is presented to us.
MN: Someone call Doc Silver...Troy just went SHOOTIE!
JA's body language indicates that he's less-than-thrilled at Troy's comment. Lollipop rubs his arm and scowls at Troy, before sticking her tongue out.
MN: Oh, what are we...five?
DM: I often ponder that same question in reference to you.
JA: AS I WAS SAYING...you know I won't call for the bell for a low-blow, and if you two crazy kids insist on rumbling outside of the ring, I'll keep my twenty count tucked in my back pocket with my wallet and my stress-ball ass-cushion, y'know for the days when I take all those really bad butt-bumps. And I won't even mind it if a certain Champion decided she wanted to take all her aggressions out on a certain challenger's knee, no matter how injured it is, and I won't even stop the match.
Troy smirks while Cross fumes.
JA: Speaking of injuries, how's that knee of yours, Crissy?
Cross swipes his mic off the table and, after a long moment, raises it to his mouth.
Cross: Actually, JA, it's funny you should mention that...
Instantly, Cross drops the mic to the mat, leans his weight back and lets fly a lightning-quick superkick. JA reacts quickly, hitting the deck and taking Lollipop down with him. Troy is not so quick to react and ends up eating leather as Cross' foot pops her square in the mouth.
DT: Holy crap! Cross just nailed Troy with that kick!
DM: Sweet revenge!
MN: Please, our fair Champion doesn't deserve this treatment!
Troy goes down like she's been shot, spit flying out of her mouth and out of the ring. The crowd goes BANANAS~! as JA checks on Lolli and then looks over at the damage. Ryan glares a hole through Cross as the #1 Contender brushes past him, intentionally bumping shoulders with the EPW owner, and exits the ring. Cross' eyes never leave Troy's body and a smirk forms across his lips as "Jesus Walks" begins to play again.
Lindsay pulls herself to a vertical base with the aid of the ropes and wipes her mouth free from trickling blood. The Champion and the Challenger eye one another with vengeful intent as gets to the top of the stage and exits through the curtain.
[As Troy begins to try and leave the ring, the EmpireTro comes to life.]
[CUT TO: Dis 3, wearing his mask and cape, sitting on a gold throne, on the EmpireTron screen.]
DIS 3: LINDSAY TROY! THE SINS OF THE FATHER MUST BE REPAYED! THE SINS OF YOUR FATHER SHALL BE REAPED THROUGH YOUR BLOOD! YOUR FATHER SINNED AND YOU ARE THE SINNER! NEXT WEEK YOU SHALL SEE THE ONE WHO WILL CAUSE YOUR REPENTENCE! BUT FOR NOW YOU SHALL DRINK THE WINE OF YOUR FATHER'S SINNNNNNSSSS!!!!!!!
[At that point, blood cascades from the roof into the ring and onto Lindsay Troy as dry ice smoke drowns the entranceway. Dis 3's cackle is the only thing heard. Troy looks at her red coated body and hands in disgust and anger and slams the mat before staring up at the screen at the image of a smiling, cackling Dis 3.]
FADE TO COPYRIGHT….