Anniversary Show: Justin Cooper – Open Invitational
The man who feels on top of the world has issued an Open Invitational to any former WZCW star. The world champion is looking to cement his legacy and what better way to do that?
**This is just for Cooper to RP, his opponent will be revealed at the show**
Deadline Monday 14th August 11:59pm Central Time. No extensions available.
The scene opens inside a dimly lit room. It has two large scale lights on either side pointing towards two chairs, each with an occupant inside it. On one side, Stacey Madison and looking back at her sits the reigning WZCW World Heavyweight Champion; Justin Cooper. They sit in silence as a host of crew members rush around them, fixing this, adjusting that and all sorts of technical elements for the interview. Stacey flicks through her notes, peaking up to check on her interviewee from time to time. Cooper sits quietly, his title in his lap, his fingers tracing the large golden plate just above where is name is engraved.
“Okay, I think we’re good to go,” said Stacey.
A nod is all she received in return from Justin.
The room fell silent as the cameras were turned on and Stacey began.
“Hello and welcome to a very special exclusive interview for WZCW dot com. I’m your host on this Monday morning, Stacey Madison, and joining me today is perhaps the biggest name in professional wrestling at the moment. He is a two-time Mayhem Champion, two-time Tag Team Champion, a former Mayhem and Elite X Champion, Triple Crown Champion, the winner of Lethal Lottery 2016 and to cap it all off he is the reigning WZCW World Heavyweight Champion! My guest, is of course, Justin Cooper – welcome, Justin.”
“A pleasure,” replied Justin, his eyes still pointed towards his World Championship rather than at either Stacey or the cameras circling the interview area.
“Firstly, allow me to say congratulations on retaining the WZCW World Heavyweight Championship at Gold Rush. A fantastic match between yourself and Flex Mussel; yet another notch on your already impressive list of accomplishments,” said Stacey, her nose twitching in frustration as Justin still refused to look up.
“Good that,” answered Justin.
“Right… well we’re here to talk about the 10 year anniversary show coming up in a few days. What are you most looking forward to on the show?”
A scoff from Justin was caught on the audio as he contemplated his answer. The gold beneath his fingers pulling his attention away from the questions for so long that Stacey asked again.
“I said, what are you most looking forward to on the anniversary show? Officials have booked the return to Steamboat Ricky and Big Will, the return of King for a Day, the Eurasian Championship Match and even your own Open Challenge. Surely something must have grabbed your attention?”
For the first time, without a moment’s notice, Justin looked up – directly into the eyes of Stacey Madison. He shook his head.
“Fuck ‘em. I don’t care about Ricky or Will coming back for one night. These fans that fill the arena will go crazy for ‘em, I sure of it. Listen, even you are practically wetting yourself over the idea of getting the hot take with one of those old bastards. Pillars of a time which is dead! These so called educated fans will cry tears of joy when those two walk out to that ring but guess what happens next? They are right out the door just as soon as they came in. Meanwhile, I'm here every week and get no respect. If Will and Ricky are so fantastic why don't they show up for more than five minutes? If I'm such a waste of space why is it that I continually have the best matches on the show against the toughest competition? Where is my fucking respect, Stacey? I should be treated like Will and Ricky! It should be me! So, don’t ask me about any excitement I might have or supposedly should have. This show is a total joke. I don’t want to be part of it. I never asked and I certainly didn’t beg like some of the pathetic scum that fills my locker-room. I was told, ordered like I was just another guy, that I would be having an Open Challenge. Why should I want to wrestle again for these fans? The same fans that boo me each week when I’m the best damn wrestler on the planet? I go out there each week and I dominate whoever this company puts in front of me. I’ve beaten everybody, Stacey.
I’ve walked through legends, Hall of Famers and the greatest of all time to sit here today as the reigning WZCW World Heavyweight Champion. I’ve busted my ass to break through the glass ceiling which holds lesser take back, the likes of Eve Taylor who keep bumping their thick heads right at the top of it but failing each and every time yet we give her another fucking chance! Over and over, yet if I were to fail it’d be right to the back of the line for me! I don’t get a second chance, Stacey. I have one shot, one try and each week I have to stay at the top of my game because these people who fill the stands would gladly see everything stripped away from me. This anniversary show, somebody is going to become King for a Day at it and for all this talk about Titus Avison being the real champion, I call bullshit!
Nobody, and I mean fucking nobody, is going to cash in on him. Titus may have held the Eurasian Championship for over six hundred days but do not leave reality, Stacey. The reality we live in right now still places the title I hold at the very top of professional wrestling. I hold the grandest prize and no matter how many days Titus piles up, he will forever be second place to me. Who is it that closes the pay-per-views, Stacey? Is it Titus or I? It’s me! So, let me make this real clear so that everyone understands. This anniversary show is a celebration of WZCW – I AM WZCW! If these fans want to say thanks for WZCW than they should get down on their hands and knees and kiss my feet. I have put this company on my back, Stacey.
While they overhyped Mikey Stormrage, a man who couldn’t defend the title and while at the top saw this federation collapse, I went unnoticed until I stood on the grandest stage of ‘em holding the World Championship – no longer could they deny me, or so I thought. I have been chasing the recognition I deserve for far too long, Stacey. I am the three time defending WZCW World Heavyweight Champion, I am the SEVENTH longest reigning World Champion in the history of this company. I want my fucking respect, Stacey. I want what I deserve. I want my spot in the Hall of Fame – hey don’t tell me to watch my language!”
Suddenly, Justin stands up and shoves one of the producers of the segment. He kicks over his chair and gets right in the face of Stacey Madison, while the World Championship is tightly gripped in his hand.
“I am the ace of this whole fucking show, this business, this industry and everything surrounding it all rides on me! On my shoulders – the weight of the world is with me and none of the idiots in the back have the understanding to offer me a thank you. They should be praying to me, day and night, and realising that the reason this business is making money right now is because I’m at the top. I’m the guy who drives the ticket sales, the pay-per-views, and the ratings. Since I’ve been at the top things couldn’t be better but you don’t hear the sheep in the back acknowledge that, Stacey! You’ve got people in the industry who for years hated my work coming out and supporting me now, latching onto my bandwagon but I don’t need them. I remember all those things the critics said about me, Stacey. I remember every god damn word of it! Now look at me. I am more valuable than all twenty plus members of the roster and it’s not even fucking close!”
The World Champion takes a few steps back and places the World Championship on his shoulder. He spits on the ground and begins walking off the set leaving the production crew, and Stacey, stunned.
Ace Stevens' RP
The Narrator presents
“Please Call it a Comeback”
His uniform was pristine. It had to be, of course. But there was something about the attire of Pak Woon-mo that made him stand out from the rest. His boots were just that bit shinier, his hair that bit neater. Even his manner of speaking was a touch more eloquent than that of his peers. Perhaps this was the reason why he was tasked with delivering extraordinary information to the prison’s general.
Colonel Pak was smart, no doubt about it. But his superior, General Jung Ok-soon was on another level. Decades of service in his nation’s military had seen him ascend to the esteemed rank of general. His appearance reflected that fact. His hair was shiny and black and a bounty of medals adorned his crisp uniform. The only imperfection was his dropping eyes. A disposition that, while clearly attributable to old age, gave the impression that he had simply seen too much. Seated at his impeccably organised mahogany desk, to any of his inferiors he was power personified.
“장군님, 나는 그를 풀어야한다는 소식을 받았습니다.”
[General, I have received news that we must release him.]
“너 누구 한테 말하는거야?”
[Who do you speak of?]
The general’s curiosity was clear. This was not a typical prison. The release of a detainee was not an everyday occurrence. It was even rarer still that a release would be ordered from the powers above. Even Pak, a man a few levels of pay below the general, knew the levity of the situation. He inhaled slowly before saying the prisoner’s name.
The brow of General Jung Ok-soon furrowed. He removed his glasses slowly and almost unsteadily, cleaned them briefly and placed them back on his face. It was evident that the general never expected this day to arrive.
The general rose from his desk. His back creaked – he knew he was too old for this. But Jung had always led by example. If this particular prisoner was going to be released, he was going to be there to witness it. Spotting five young soldiers in the hallway, he spoke to them.
“우리는 구덩이에 가야합니다.”
[We must go to The Pit.]
“왜, 일반. 거기에 단 한 명의 죄수가 있습니까.”
[Why, general? There is only one prisoner there.]
The questioning tone of the soldiers was perhaps justified. There was only one prisoner in the pit, and the soldiers were under strict instructions to not interact with him. To not even walk near his “cell” without purpose. Nevertheless, they followed the general’s swift pace through the dark, clearly underfunded prison hallways.
“오늘 그는 풀려났다.”
[Today he is released.]
The soldiers looked to one another. The gravity of the situation just became apparent. The rest of the fifteen minute walk was done in complete silence, minus the occasional nervous gulp and tortured screams far off in the distance. Until they arrived. The Pit. Faced with a large, foreboding, heavy-duty entrance, the general’s heart felt like a jagged chunk of lead in his chest.
[Unlock the door.]
General Jung was far too old to handle the stiff locks and heavy barricades which divided The Pit and the rest of the camp, and instead chose Colonel Pak Woon-mo to do the honours. Metal loudly thunked as each lock was undone. The other soldiers readied themselves for what would be on the other side of the door.
Colonel Pak slowly pushed the door forwards to reveal a cold, dark room. The stone walls were incredibly tall, making the small space seem a lot bigger than it actually was. A few straws of hay littered the floor and the stench – well, the stench was unbearable. But in the obscurity sat a lone figure. His feet were shackled and long, greasy hair covered his face. There was little about the figure which indicated that he was alive, or indeed, even human. He spoke thus.
“Finally! I’ve been calling room service forever.”
“Oh John Boy, you’re always getting into scrapes. When will you learn?”
Ace Stevens is sitting at the dinner table of his childhood home. The spotless gingham table cloth and homely furnishings are directly at odds with his trademark look of white v-neck, black leather jacket and shades. His mother - a kind, jolly, aproned lady - is cleaning the already immaculate kitchen, more out of habit than anything else.
“Ma, I ain’t gonna call being thrown in some North Korean jail cell for years a ‘scrape’”.
“How did you even get in there in the first place?”
“Oh I don’t know, ma. How does anything happen?” Ace says, reclining in his chair. “There was a minor incident in Pyongyang with a pineapple and, er, a general’s daughter and a vicuña… I think. I don’t wanna get into it. But I tell ya’ what, those Koreans know how to drink.”
“It’s like a small llama.”
“Well I’m just happy you’re home safe. We didn’t know what had happened to you. We were worried sick! Eat this, honeybun.”
Mrs. Stevens places a hearty portion of baked ziti in front of her son. However, instead of following his mom’s instructions, he simply stares at it.
“What? You don’t like ziti no more? You got a taste for that Korean food now?”
“No, no” protests Ace, “it’s just… what am I gonna do now?”
“I mean in terms of life. Like, I had the stand-up and the wrestling. Then my leg stopped working again…”
“Just carry on with the comedy. You were always so good at that. You cursed too much, but I could tell you were good at it.”
“And what would I talk about now? I’m out of the loop. The world has changed so much. Do people still do that Harlem Shake thing?”
“I mean, I caught a glimpse of the paper this morning and there was something on the front page about The Apprentice. At least people are still watching that.”
“I just miss the old days. Get on stage, ten minutes about my junk and an insulting remark about someone from the Jersey Shore. But no! That stuff don’t fly no more. Thanks, Louis C.K.”
“Have you considered getting a real job? You know, like a grown-up?” asks Mrs. Stevens, with all the sincerity in the world.
“I’m a convict, ma. Convicts don't get real jobs.”
“Sure they do.”
“Name one guy who got a decent job after leaving prison.”
Mrs. Stevens begins to rack her brain. Ace, meanwhile, begins to pick at his food.
“Thanks, ma” says Ace, earnestly, appreciating the effort his mother is making. “Face it. My name is mud. I’m an irresponsible loudmouth with a criminal record and a possible personality disorder. There ain’t a company in the world that would be stupid enough to hire me.”
As if by some brilliant coincidence, Ace’s iPhone 4 begins to ring. He looks down at the caller ID. WZCW.
Ace took a deep breath. As if he was attempting to detect a far-off scent.
“Oh yeah. That’s the stuff. Smells like gold, baby.”
“Sorry, were you talking to me?” asks a man, standing nearby. With neat, brown hair and grey smart casual clothing, he is the living definition of average.
“No I was not.”
Ace quickly reads the man’s security tag, dangling around his painfully boring neck.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Can I help you with anything, Mr. Stevens?”
“Nah you’re okay.” Ace has to look at the man’s security tag again. “Oh yeah, Bob. I’m just waiting for an old friend.”
“Okay, well if you need-“
“There he is! LEO! LEO! LEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOO!”
“Oh [CURSE REDACTED].”
Ace runs at Leon Kensworth like a lion hunting down an awkward-looking, bespectacled gazelle.
“How you doing, you old bastard?! NOOGIE!”
Before any protest can take place, Ace gets WZCW’s resident straight-laced interviewer in an almighty headlock and begins grind his knuckles against Leon's cranium. One can only assume this was because the esteemed journalist's suit made a ‘titty twister’ seem difficult to pull off, logistically-speaking.
“So how are things going for ya’? Hell, how are things going for the ol’ WrestleZone Championship Wrestling? Who are the champions? No! Wait. Let me guess. Uh, SaboSax are tag team champions. Obviously. Goes without saying. Daemonic is Eurasian Champion and Darren Bull is the Elite Champion?”
Leon lowers his eyebrows and flashes a puzzled look in Ace’s direction.
“You’re right. What am I saying? ‘The Destruction’ Darren Bull is World Champion material. Naturally. And I’m gonna guess that the Mayhem Championship was retired shortly after I left, like Gretzky’s jersey or my grandpops after that fire.”
“Wow, all of that is incorrect. Like, across the board.”
“That’s a shame.”
“Quite” replies Kensworth. “Well look, Ace, it was great catching up, but I don’t actually have you scheduled for an interview today. Mainly because I didn’t even realise you were back. Or alive, for that matter.”
“Oh I know. Let’s save that for a week where nothing interesting happens to me. I just wanted to walk through these halls again. Get a feel for the place. Get a feel for the company again. Say hi to old co-workers and introduce myself to new ones. And, if I have time, sneak a look at Stacey Madison’s cans.”
“Oh. I didn't realise you were returning. Who are you facing in your first match?"
“Well that depends – can ya’ keep a secret?”
“Of course” replies Kensworth, somewhat upset that his integrity could be called into question. Especially by someone as duplicitous as Ace Stevens.
“Alright” says Ace, as he gets uncomfortable close to Kensworth’s left ear and gently whispers his answer.
“Crocodile Dundee? That’s not a wrestler here.”
“Oh. Then it’s Justin Cooper. Always getting those mixed up.”
“They’re not even simil-”
“And it’s going to be at the 10th Anniversary Show and I’m going to kick his ass!”
“You’re going to kick his ass?”
“The world champion?”
“On your first night back?”
“Yeah, what are you not understanding?”
“Well it’s just that Justin Cooper is a remarkable talent. An extraordinary wrestler, really. And your last match was three and a half years ago. Where you lost to, um…”
“Oh I don’t remember that” said Ace, lying like an idiot. “The fact is, I’ve already beat Justin Cooper. Yeah, that’s right, Leo. I did and I took the Mayhem title away from him when I answered an open challenge. Oh, and what’s that? Oh yeah, this is also gonna be an open challenge. So I’d say I’ve got a pretty good chance of winning. That’s math right there.”
“I think you’re going to find out that the Justin Cooper you beat all those years ago is long gone. He’s a different animal now.”
“Well it’s a good thing I’m the same then. I’m the same old ass-kicking, face-smashing, arm-breaking, joke-telling arrogant son of a bitch I’ve always been. I’m the toughest man to come out of Brooklyn, New York since ODB. The things I can do with a kendo stick and a trashcan will shock and amaze you…”
“It’s a no-DQ match?”
“Nah. But rules don’t stop me, Leo. You know this. Look man, for the past three and a half years, everyone’s been saying “oh, where’s Ace Stevens?”, “what happened to Ace Stevens”, “is Ace Stevens dead?”. Well let me tell you this, Leo. I’m too stupid to die. And I’m just too damn vital to disappear. So pay close attention to WZCW. ‘Cause I’m gonna beat Justin Cooper. Then I’m gonna take his title. Then I’ll take the Eurasian title from whichever unfortunate soul possesses it.”
“Really? That dude is ancient. Gotta be pushing 50 by now, hasn’t he? Ol’ T-Dog? Well whoever it is, I’m a beat them too. Then I’ll take the Elite title and then, of course, my old friend Mayhem. And on my second night back… I’ll probs just cut a promo or something. Keep it simple, you know?”
“Oh I’m sure.”
“I’m back, Leo! The king is here to take his crown. And Justin Cooper is just a… um… what’s that word? Ugh, I know this. It begins with a “p”. It means they’re not the king…”
“Pretender?” offers Leon.
“Nah. It’s, um… oh yeah! Pussy! He’s a big old P-bomb!”
“Is that all?” asks Kensworth, checking his watch.
“I’d say so. But damn, Leo, you really should have recorded that promo. You know, for prosperity.”
“You mean ‘posterity’?”
“No, prosperity. ‘Cause it would’ve made you a shitload of money. Later, tater.”
And with a pat on the back, Ace leaves to explore the rest of the WZCW headquarters. Possibly to find his crown.
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