LL - Heavyweight Championship – Kagura (c) vs Batti vs Taylor
History was well and truly made at Ascension 125, when Kagura cashed in her Queen For A Day briefcase against an unwitting Constantine. The first ever woman to carry the Heavyweight Championship in WZCW will have her hands full with her first defence though. Batti and Eve Taylor wrestled to a draw at that same event and booked their place alongside the new Champion. It remains to be seen whether Kagura picked the right moment for her cash-in with so many targets now on her back. Can one of the challengers claim their place as the second woman Heavyweight Champion? Or does Kagura have what it takes to prove herself as the dominant female?
RP deadline is Tuesday the 6th of March at 23:59 EST
Reinstate The Fox!
This day was unbelievably perfect. No clouds scattered the sky. The rays of the sun shine down upon the ground with a ferocious intensity. The heat was hitting high temperatures but that only made the ocean much more enjoyable to dip one's feet in. Despite Bondi Beach being a well-known tourist destination, eavesdropping over the locals and the lifeguards patrolling the beach suggested this was a rather quiet day. Eve Taylor did not believe it to live up to the name of quiet as there were many locals and tourists who recognised her, wanting to take pictures and have short conversations with the new number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship...
"... number one contender to the World Heavyweight championship..." Eve whispered to herself.
Any sentence containing these words often came up in Eve's dreams and prophecies she created for herself. Never had anyone else besides herself uttered these words with a serious tone when it came to discussing Eve Taylor. Only Eve said it with conviction. Everyone else laughed it off. In fact, after so many failed attempts by Eve, the sentence was changed to "number one choker to the World Heavyweight Championship". Whenever someone said mentioned that to her face, Eve felt compelled to reach out with her bare hands, wrap them around their throat and choke the life out of them, screaming "who's choking now?!". The only thing that prevented Eve from snapping was the belief she had in herself that another opportunity would come along if she worked hard enough to earn it. Eventually, it would happen and finally, that day came... and how unbelievable perfect it was...
... for everyone else.
Eve soured at the thought of reliving the ending of the most recent Ascension. Her face began to screw up as she stared blankly towards the horizon of the ocean, completely absorbed in that memory she disdained. Yes, she achieved what she has said she would do for over a year, and on some level, the ends justified the means. However, Eve couldn't shake off everything else that occurred that led to the situation she never expected to face and she fucking hated it. The moment that Eve finally achieved was overshadowed by everything else. The spotlight she wanted on her quickly darted away from her and left her in the darkness away from the eyes and attention. The talk, the media coverage and the social discussions only briefly mentioned Eve as an afterthought or as piece of the whole picture. Eve was not an accessory; Eve is the whole damn picture! Eve does not settle for second best!
But no matter, really. Today was not designed to be one for worry, was it? No, it was designed to have some fun and de-stress before the major event. A time for nerves to be washed away by the beautifully warm waters of the ocean and become refreshed with calming thoughts and pure clarity in thought... and to get a legitimate tan to look good for the main event! Indeed, Eve had to work on her tan. What's the point of even showing up for the World Heavyweight Championship match if she couldn't look good posing with the title after the match? Just because one wins a gruelling match that defines their career doesn't excuse the person for looking horrible in appearance for the cameras that would capture that moment in time. Plus, the salt water is good for the pores. The rigorous travelling schedule from country to country and the stress from being in the main event wasn't doing any favours for the silky smooth skin of the former model.
Thinking about the positives allowed Eve to come back to reality, rid of her 1000 yard stare for the moment and pose for the next fan who had been talking to her about... something or rather and wanted to capture the moment. Eve put on her best smile and winged arm stance before looking around, attempting to find where her friends went. It was a little difficult to spot them in the sea of people, especially since most of the women were wearing two pieces like Stacey Madison, Selena Anderson and herself did. After searching for a couple of minutes, sometimes getting caught up by another fan or two wanting a picture, Eve could hear the very distinct sounds of the two. She rolled her eyes and began slowly making her way through the sand, trying not to dig her heels into the sand to prevent her sore ankles from sustaining any major injuries. As she gets close, she can see Stacey and Selena lying on the ground doing their best to develop their own tans. From what Eve can see, they were coming along quite nicely. Stacey turns her head and notices Eve looking at them.
"You like what you see?"
"You're not my type." Eve said with a laugh.
"Hey, I'm a damn catch! I'm the best on this beach"
"Indeed, it's not like there are any models or anything here."
As Eve finishes her sly remark, she goes to sit in-between her two friends on her towel. The sitting motion causes pain to shoot through her legs from her ankles, making Eve wince at the feeling. She quickly goes to rub her ankles.
"Ankles giving you trouble again?"
"They're in more pain than usual. Hasn't happened in a while."
"Do you need a foot massage?"
"Only if you're doing them." Eve says with a joking smile as Stacey shakes her head. "Seriously though, I think I did something to them on Ascension in my match against Batti... either that or she's a lot more clever than I suspected her to be. I think the cunning opportunistic qualities of Tyrone are rubbing off on Batti. I did not expect her to do her homework as well as she did. Actually, I didn't think Batti was capable of doing anything intelligent in front of that crowd. She could've done literally anything and they would've cheered her. I mean, she did a cat pose, for crying out loud. With that attention span and child-like attitude, it wasn't something I should've seen coming."
"Well, that'll teach you to be as care-free as you were heading into that match."
"Yeah, you were pretty careless. How did you not notice Batti's positioning when you knocked her out with your initial boot? She was right next to the ropes! The Eve I know doesn't do that."
Eve tries to retain her smile. "Happens to the best of us."
"That wasn't an innocent mistake. You planned to be laid-back, Eve. Remember the exclusive interview you had with me where you specifically stated you were trying to be carefree? Remember how you talked to me? I hope you don't talk to me that way again, both in the way you treated me in that interview and the way you presented yourself. That was unprofessional in more ways than one. I'm honestly surprised you didn't straight up lose with the way you acted... and don't even get me started on you talking to Leon instead of me on Ascension. I guess I should cancel all future interviews with you."
Eve takes a moment to stop rubbing her ankles to flick her hair to the side and stare at Stacey who has gone back to a lying position attempting to catch some sunshine.
"Oh c'mon, now Stacey. Don't tell me you've become a non-believer too? One of my closest confidants and you've stabbed me in the back? How am I supposed to believe in myself if you don't believe in me? Who am I going to explain all my thoughts and feelings to now?" Eve says in a condescending tone, pretending to be a damsel in distress. "I guess it's just the two of us now, Selena. Stacey wants off this crazy bandwagon, just like everyone else."
"I'm not jumping off the bandwagon but what I do want is for you hop off the crazy. You can't be so laid-back with literally the biggest match of your life only a few days away. Y'know, the one match you've been working towards for your entire professional wrestling career? The amount of times I've had to sit next to you and listen about how you didn't try hard enough and you'll do better next time and all the other rants... I can't fathom the amount of times I've had to sit through that. And now that you are here, in this position, you make a mockery of it? I know we are here to have some relaxation time but you honestly can't sit here and say this newfound attitude of Eve is what you're going with at the Lethal Lottery.
Eve's fun smile slowly fades away as she begins staring directly through Stacey.
"I don't need to be reminded of the importance or the scale of this opportunity. After all, I've been exclusively fighting to be in this position for over a year, failing at every turn. Now, by the skin of my sore ankles, I finally get my first chance to prove to the world that I am the greatest wrestler on the planet. None of this is lost on me, Stacey. I recognise all of it. But why should I bring the same attitude to this fight like I've brought to every other fight which resulted in a loss? Time to try something different... which is why we are here on this beautiful beach, soaking some rays and just generally enjoying the bounties of life."
The arms of Eve are outstretched to try and encompass the entire beach as she looks out to the horizon. She attempts to keep a look of serenity on her face as she thinks about the positives, blocking out the negatives she experienced before when she stared out into the horizon.
"I don't mean to be rude Eve but those other matches were not for the World title. Those were simply qualifying matches. Tournament matches. Number one contenders matches. Multi-person Lethal Lottery matches. All of them were a buffer to the World Championship match. Now, it is for real and you need to be for real."
Now even Selena was against Eve and it began to annoy her. Her face of fake serenity began souring once more.
"She's right, Eve. You need to focus. Get in the right mind for this match. Train harder than you've ever trained before. Study as much tape as you can. Make sure you keep a strict diet."
"Stretch those joints out!"
"Protect that ankle."
"Practice your moves"
"And the counters to those moves."
"And the counters to Kagura's & Batti's moves.
"And the counters to their counters to their own-"
Before the two could continue their long list of chores for Eve to consider, Taylor snaps and yells loudly at the two girls. Those close-by look over to the three to see what is happening but quickly go back to their business. Selena & Stacey, however, are shocked by Eve's outburst and look at her, waiting for a response as they remain still, in silence.
"I fucking get it! I get all of it! You don't have to run down the bloody list for me!"
The pain in Eve's ankles have somehow made its way to her head and she begins rubbing it to try and ease away the headache, but it does not do much to help.
"Can I just... can I just have a moment in time when I actually feel good about myself for once? Can't I just for once enjoy living life and being in the moment without having to look toward the future? I'm absolutely sick of having to prepare for everything that is coming up and every match that has yet to happen! Why am I not allowed to just take a deep breath, step outside of the pressures of my life and just appreciate the beauty that's around us? Am I not afforded the opportunity to have a laugh about myself? Can I not take a relaxed attitude for once? Am I contracted to be the exact same and never change because it is expected of me to behave a certain way? God dammit!"
Eve applies fingers from both hands to her temples, rubbing them with more of a firm grip this time to try and stop the headache.
"Every day since the last Lethal Lottery where I was eliminated, not even making the Final Four, when I was the clear favourite and the only predicted winner, I have had to face negative criticism for what I should've done to prepare, what I should've done in the moment... everything! Everybody had a damn opinion about Eve Taylor and how she should've achieved success! And when they all got bored of critically analysing every move I made, or when they couldn't comprehend the reasons I gave to why certain circumstances happened the way it did, they all retreated to one simple word to encompass the entire situation: choker. They summarised my hard work and dedication to becoming the greatest wrestler of all time by naming me a choker. Everything I have ever done for everyone who supported me throughout the years, for every fan that calls themselves a wrestling fan and for every person who purchases a ticket to be entertained... all of it was thrown under the bus in favour of giving me the choker moniker.
"Do you know how that feels, Stacey? Selena? To be called a choker by everybody? It hurts. It's painful. It's anger-inducing. It's frustrating. Saddening. Six individual letters of the English alphabet are arranged in a particular order to form a word so powerful that it has ripped my chest open, grabbed my beating heart and removed it from my body. How in the hell does one word cause so much pain to an individual? Whatever happened to sticks and stones, huh? Can you tell me? Did the person who came up with that saying ever experience the heartache I've had to live through for over a year? I bet you he didn't! Sticks and stones don't fucking hurt. I've taken Irish whips that hurt more than sticks and stones.
"But words... dear Lord, do they hurt. There is nothing that has caused me more pain in the professional wrestling industry that has hurt more than being called a choker day in, day out, and I've competed in some crazy matches. I've had my head busted open. I've fallen from great heights. Many weapons have been used on me. None of them compare to being called a choker. I'd gladly take a chair repeatedly to the head unprotected than having to hear someone come up to me and comment on my inability to breathe properly."
Eve stops rubbing her head and slouches forward in a seated position, leering into the horizon with that 1000 yard stare again.
"The most infuriating thing about this entire choker situation is that when an opportunity finally presents itself to capitalise on earning a World championship match, and I succeed, it becomes so convoluted by outside factors and interference that the achievements I made become irrelevant! The entire reason this Triple Threat match is even taking place is because of me and me alone! Me! Not Kagura. Not Batti. Me! I did it all!"
"I was ringside Eve and I saw it all happen. It wasn't just you."
"You are not remembering the events correctly, my sweet and easily excitable friend. I am the one who caused this situation. It was my actions, hard work and dedication throughout the year, declaring my intentions to go for the World title that led me to being one of two competitors to be placed in the number one contenders match. Management could've easily put Matt Tastic or Titus Avison or any old outdated wrestler who has 'world title starpower' in this match but no, they picked me. And they made the right decision because I won that damn match. I did. You saw, Selena. I won the match but the referee took it upon herself to reverse the decision and restart the match. If that match wasn't restarted due to the referee's incompetency because of what I did then Batti wouldn't have had a second chance at earning a title match.
"And then, once the match finished and for some reason was left as a draw and I didn't get the opportunity to compress Batti's face into my stiletto for the win AGAIN, it was made a Triple Threat between Constantine, Batti and I. Finally, a chance for me to knock Constantine off his perch and bring him down once and for all. That's something I've salivated over for many months. A chance to get rid of him forever... but why wait until the Lethal Lottery, right? In that moment when he dared come stepping up in my face, I took matters in my own hands and landed the final blow on Constantine. Go ahead, Selena, re-watch the show to check your memory. The last blow dealt to Constantine was done by me! Eve Taylor! His arch nemesis FINALLY defeating him. That should've been the end of it but guess what happens next? Guess what happens?"
Eve turns to each of her friends but Selena remains silent. Stacey reluctantly obliges and answers the question.
"Kagura cashes in the briefcase." Stacey says un-enthusiastically.
"Kagura cashes in the briefcase!" Eve says over the top of Stacey. "Kagura runs down the ramp in her home country, brings a referee and simply puts her body over the top of Constantine to win the World championship. Let me re-iterate if you missed that. Kagura did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING except perform a simple pin over Constantine to WIN the Championship of the ENTIRE WORLD! Kagura took advantage of ME hitting Constantine with the final blow and ending Constantine's career as an in-ring competitor to win the title. How much of a sack of shit do you have to be to win the title like that? I thought Kagura was an actual competitor; a decent wrestler who deserved my respect. After all the battles we've had in the past where she kept up with me and showed the world she was one day going to be a star... and she pulls that cowardly stunt?"
"She earned the briefcase rightfully."
"Not the briefcase. I don't care that she won with the briefcase. I care about how she did not exert any energy to wrestle Constantine and just pinned him from my own work. Kagura pinned Constantine and became the World Champion because of my handiwork! I effectively made Kagura the World Champion. How lazy of a wrestler do you have to be to blatantly piggyback off the work of another wrestler to get to the top? I guess it is karma for Constantine because that's all he ever did; Constantine politicked his way to the top by forming relationships and backstabbing his colleagues when he saw the opportunity to get ahead. Maybe he did deserve it but now, to me, Kagura has become the new Constantine. The new snake in the grass. The new disgusting, conniving slimeball who will take any shortcut she can to garner success.
"As much as I hate someone like that, I do welcome the opportunity to give Kagura a history lesson and remind her exactly who she is facing! Kagura is facing the woman who consecutively beat her in major match after major match, outranking her every step of the way back when the Women's Revolution began gaining traction. Back when I became the Eurasian champion and she was the Elite champion. I beat her to winning the title. I beat her in the only female champion vs. female champion match. I beat her when we both lost our titles and were placed in a number one contenders match for the other persons' title... and then when I won her Elite title she lost, I took that championship, my Senshuken, and became the longest reigning Elite Openweight champion in history. I cemented my legacy by picking up the title Kagura left in the garbage with her atrocious reign. Three years later, history seems to be repeating itself. Kagura will enjoy a horrible reign and I will surpass her again, leaving her in the dark as I take the spotlight away from her. She might be the first-ever female World champion but she won't be the best.
"That begs the question: if she won't be the best, who will it be? Batti? Possibly, she has shown herself to be a lot more crafty than she makes out to be. That fun, quirky exterior masks the heart and pride within. The guts that kid possesses is astounding and she will undoubtedly be a great wrestler one day. Will that day be at the Lethal Lottery? Maybe. Maybe she has what it takes. Maybe she has the gift of being a great wrestler. Maybe she trained for this moment? Maybe she was born with it. In fact, under these circumstances, Batti has the best chance of winning. Batti is very familiar with Kagura and in most of my recent outings with Batti, I've never 'officially' earned a victory over her. Just losses and draws on the record books. Batti has motive for beating Kagura after she lost to her in the King for a Day elimination chamber and I'm clearly inferior to Batti right? Looking over the statistics and data, there is no way that Batti is not walking out the World champion! She is the clear favourite. She is everyone's prediction to win at the Lethal Lottery...
"... wait, doesn't that sound familiar? Clear favourite? Only prediction? That sounds like something that has already happened, doesn't it? I seem to recall someone at the previous Lethal Lottery having all this expectation and hype surrounding their performance because there was logically no other choice for who the victor should be... but that certain someone failed to live up to expectations. She was blindsided and a surprise victor stole the show. Oh yeah, that was fucking me! I know exactly what it's like to be placed in that position. The build-up, the match and the aftermath are what I've had to deal with and I know it very well. I can see the signs and I can read the writing on the wall: this is the exact same situation Batti is going to experience. That poor girl is going to suffer the embarrassment, the suffering and the hazing that I've had to cope with for over a year... and this time, I'll be watching from the other side. The side of opportunity with the element of surprise. Nobody expects me to win. Everybody expects Batti to win. It is my duty to ruin everybody's day and claim the victory for myself. It is my duty to provide the karma back to all the people who called me a choker and throw it back it in their face. As a veteran of this roster, it is my honour and privilege to bequeath my title as choke artist to the young and upcoming wrestler as a passing of the torch, and I couldn't think of a better bubbly personality to bequeath such a title to than Batti Otaku."
Eve takes a second to gather herself after the long rant, continuing to stare into the horizon. However, the stare is not a blank one: it is a stare that can see what's beyond the horizon. It is a stare that knows how to get to the end of the horizon and trace it carefully.
"You girls tell me I need to take a more focused attitude and not be so laid-back. Maybe you girls need to be friends with Batti Otaku instead because she's the one who needs the prep talk. I don't need the prep talk any more. This might be my first time fighting for the World title but I know what's at stake. This is everything I have ever wanted and I've finally got it at the end of my finger tips. I can reach out to the horizon and feel it... and I'm not going to let anything stop me this time. Not Batti. Not Kagura. Not a cash-in. Not any stupid decision made by a referee. Not management. It's just going to be me, standing tall at the end with the spotlight all to myself and I will be glistening with glee. Not because I will be happy of the result but because I will have the shiniest, most beautiful accessory in the planet on my shoulder: the Heavyweight Champion of the damned World! It will finally be mine. All mine!"
The fans stood in shock. No one in the Tokyo Dome could believe what they had just seen. Batti Otaku and Eve Taylor were still standing outside the ring. Their mouths open wide, looking like a pair of goldfish on a bad acid trip. When suddenly the arena exploded! The usually quiet and reserved Japanese crowd, now sounding like the most raucous of soccer fans after seeing their team win the world cup. This was a big deal. With tears in her eyes, the new WZCW world champion stared at her new title belt. Slowly, the reality and gravity of the situation started to hit her. Her eyes widened. She instinctively clutched the title in her arms, and held it to her chest like a newborn. Looking around at the sea of people in front of her, made up of the many faces of her countrymen, she froze like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck. Feeling the icy grip of fear overtake her, as her eyes widened. She silently asked herself, “Holy shit, what did I just do?” Maybe she HAD made a mistake cashing in this soon after all…
Click for Spoiler:
Kagura smiled, and slowly rose to her feet. There was a look of confidence in her eyes now that had not been there before. From the moment that she had entered the arena with the case, to the moment that the referee’s hand crashed down onto the canvas for a third time, she had oozed determination. But this was different. This look of confidence reflected the validation for her career. Of her long and arduous journey as a former career mid card and preliminary worker, finally reaching the top of the mountain. It’s a tale that’s been told before many times, but this one was hers. She was world champion now. That was reality. With a victory cry, she hoisted the title above her head for all to see. A new era in WZCW was born.
Kagura Ohzora was many things: young, beautiful, outspoken, outgoing, a Shinto shrine maiden, the reigning WZCW world champion, and a pretty generous lover by her standards. But there was one that she wasn’t. And that was a drinker. Recent events had proven to her beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was very much a lightweight. And drinking with her grandfather and her beloved, along with about fifty of her rowdy fans, after the show at a local bar had probably NOT been the greatest decision in hindsight. Probably an even worse decision than cashing-in and winning the world championship right before a major title defense with not one, but TWO contenders breathing down her back. But hey, at least she hadn’t passed out on top of any roofs this time.
A now very woozy and inebriated world champion felt herself being guided to a taxi by her equally drunken boyfriend. Derrick could hold his alcohol a bit better, which came in handy in situations like this one, where one of them had be at least somewhat functional after a night of drinking. Not that it was a regular occurrence, or anything. Having been in the front row, watching Kagura achieve her dream had made him happy. Ecstatic. He had been sharing this journey of hers for over a year now. They traveled together. Ate together. Shared a bed together. They talked to each other. Relied upon her other. Comforted each other. They had dated. And had slowly fallen in love. And after tonight, he had begun to wonder what the next step in their lives was going to be.
Kagura spent the last few days in Ise, Mie with her family and friends, but like always, it was soon time for her to pack up and go. Such was the life of a traveling entertainer like herself. She had grown used to the travel. Having to live out of hotels. Having to eat on the road. And having to train on the road. Should her reign as world champion continue past Lethal Lottery, she’d have even more duties. Before that though, the wrestling world had been very much anticipating the showdown between Constantine and the newly crowned #1 contender from Ascension 125 after the shocking and sudden retirement of Justin Cooper. As she knew, wrestling fans most of the time did not do well with sudden change. And the sudden end of Constantine’s reign and the obliteration of his career had left quite a few of them still very salty over the title change. Kagura had seen this. While leaving the arena, she had found herself bombarded by a small coalition of Constantine faithful’s – her own countrymen mind you – that hurled jeers and insults at her as she passed by. These fans had watched John fight and claw his way back from the bottom of the barrel. They cheered for him when he finally vanquished Justin Cooper at Unscripted. And they cried for him when he lost everything. The dreams they had as fans, they shared with him. And she had taken that all away! No doubt she’d face even more of the same treatment between now and Lethal Lottery, as fans struggled to accept the new changes. And because of that, she felt she owed them all an explanation.
That brought her to Sydney, Australia. To the ANZ stadium for Lethal Lottery. And as much as she wanted to spend time with Derrick, it was business first, and pleasure later. Soon she found herself staring out into a small sea of wrestling news reporters, analysts, and journalists all wanting a piece of her. As cliché as this was, it couldn’t be avoided. As the new world champion, it simply was not realistic for her to be a shut in and avoid everyone right before a major show. She sacrificed her privacy the moment that ref thrust this title into her arms. It’s not like she had a manager that could talk for her either. Not anymore. She sighed; her senses taking in the room. She was seated in a nice comfy chair at least, at a table that gave her a good view of the people in front of her. She tapped her microphone. It worked well. She turned to get a look at her new translator. Unlike that previous girl that was rude, brash, arrogant, and very American, this girl was from her homeland. Quiet, reserved, laid back, and professional. She was perfect.
“The decision to cash-in my briefcase had not been an easy one. I was Queen-For-A-Day for 6 months. And during that time, I watched. And I waited. Not for the easiest moment to strike, because Justin Cooper left me several openings that I could have exploited. What I waited for was the right moment to strike. Constantine’s drive to defeat Cooper was shaped and molded by vengeance. Justin Cooper was an asshole. Plain and simple. And in the end Constantine accomplished his goal. And to the delight of the fans. It wasn’t my job to save the masses of that arrogant punk. To rid the fed of the evil of Vis Imperium. And from what I saw, it wasn’t Constantine’s either. He was thrust into that role by a twist of fate, and he accepted it. And succeeded. He had his reasons to chase the world title. So, after Unscripted, I had to ask myself, what was my reason for chasing this?”
She gestured down at the WZCW world title, which was now propped up in front of the table. The white leather straps were worn, showing the age of the belt. Reflecting its history, and all the men that had held it. The golden centerpiece and side plates glistened in the light, as the rubies glowed with magnificence. It was a fitting trophy for a world champion.
“Justice. That was the reason. To restore balance to the federation. Justin Cooper is gone, and Constantine will follow soon. He might not have looked like it, but that man looked haggard. In Tokyo, he looked like a shell of the man when he won the title. He looked done. He swore that he’d make it to Kingdom Come, but I knew that he wouldn’t. Not now, with Cooper gone. To those that question my decision, has the landscape of the world title scene not changed? Is this not what you wanted? Brand new blood at the top? I’ve been watching the fans too. For a while now, most of them have been craving a change. And now I’ve given it to them. There are still some that are upset over my decision to cash-in. Constantine loyalists that wanted to see him headline Kingdom Come, for better or worse. But I would like to say something to those fans…”
Kagura turned slightly, and stared forward. Every eye in the room was on her now. The journalist in the front had stopped scribbling in his notebook. The photographer lowered his camera. An almost hushed silence filled the room.
“Constantine’s dreams, are now mine. I inherited them. Lethal Lottery will mark the beginning of the path that we’ll take together. To Kingdom Come and beyond. And I have no intention of letting any of you down. And I won’t deny it either; that cash-in was selfish. However, I am ready to carry this strap. To defend my post at the top of the hill. I realize that there’s a lot of skeptics. I’m going to be defending against two #1 contenders. Even that was something that even I didn’t see coming. Will this triple threat match be history in the making? Yes. But no one should be concerned with the future right now. Batti, Eve, and I. We each travelled down different roads to get to this point. At times we met, and fought. Others we teamed together. It’s funny, at least to me, that I had once pegged Batti as being my arch-rival. And after Unscripted, I foresaw that we’d be fighting for the world title soon. And now it’s happening. It’s ironic that once upon a time, just a short while ago, Taylor was preparing herself for a possible world title shot of her own. She was a favorite to win the Lethal Lottery last year. I wasn’t on her radar. And after the 10th Anniversary Show came and went, she wasn’t on mine. I’m not going to talk about choking, one-upmanship, or how I plan to train to tackle this massive hurdle. I’m not going to run down my opponents. Before stepping foot into the giant cell at the Anniversary Show, where mass carnage was left in the wake of everyone that fought tooth and nail for the prize that I won, I spoke of drowning. My entire career up to that point felt like I was drowning in the middle of the sea. Suffocating, as the weight of the water slowly crushed my lungs, making it so I couldn’t breathe. But haven’t Eve’s and Batti’s careers been the exact same way? For the past year, all three of us have struggled to kick, squirm, writhe, and crawl our way forward. Through the depths. Upwards! Towards that one ray of sunshine at the surface. And we all made it. We were all treading water. After redeeming our failures. At least, that’s what it felt like to me.”
Kagura paused, giving her translator a moment to catch up. The journalists were furiously taking notes. There was a flash in the background. She reached forward and tapped the world title lightly with her hand.
“Because now, I’m standing on land. I’ve found something to validate all the hard work and effort that I’ve given to WZCW these past three years. And it’s such a great feeling to get this far. But when I look out into the sea, I see those two swimming closer to the shore. And now they’re standing on the same sandy beach that I am! And only one of us can stay here. The losers are doomed to be chucked back into the sea. Where they’ll either tread water, or to be dragged back down into the darkness, and that’s not going to be me. By the Gods, that’s not going to be me! I do have one message for my opponents though. Come at me with everything that you have. Hold nothing back. If neither of you are prepared to do that, then neither of you will win. It’s that simple. Though I must say, it’s sunny and warm on this beach, girls. And I haven’t had time to set up camp, or stake a claim for myself. So, don’t get used to the feeling of having warm sunlight, dry clothes, and shelter just yet. Because soon you’ll both be thrown right back into the waiting maw of the endless, dark sea.”
A few hours passed. Kagura found herself on the balcony of her hotel. The view of the beach was incredible. Just as good as the one in Honolulu. She turned to see Derrick at her side. She smiled. These were the moments that made all the rigors of the road fun. Thinking back on it, she couldn’t recall him not being by her side for any prolonged period of time. It was a major comfort having him around. She had grown reliant on his comforting words and his wisdom. She felt she had really grown as a both a person and as a performer this past year, and it was thanks to him. Perhaps she wouldn’t have pushed herself so hard like she did if he hadn’t of been around. And that made this trip even more worthwhile. Sydney was known as a city of romance. Perhaps not THE city of romance. It wasn’t exactly Paris. But it was close. And Kagura really wanted to take advantage of that. An outdoor cinema, a tour of the harbor, the view from the observatory; just being by his side made her feel so warm. Watching the sunset together was the cherry on top of this intimate engagement.
“The sunset here is so beautiful. Don’t you think so, Derrick?”
Kagura turned her head. He was being awfully quiet. She called out to him again, but didn’t get a response. He was staring out into the beach, and had a blank look on his face. An awkward silence filled the air. He spoke suddenly, without turning to look at her…
“I’m leaving, Kagura.”
His voice was low, but forceful. She did a double take. What?
“I’m going back to Japan,” he continued.
“I’m not going to be able to keep touring with you.”
She frowned. WZCW were going on a tour of Europe soon. Milan, Newcastle, Barcelona, PARIS! The pinnacle of romantic cities. Her heart sank. But after a few seconds she perked right back up.
“We’re going to be visiting some cool places. I mean, Paris! Think about it. But if you’re unable to go because of work, then I understand. I’ll meet you back in the States-”
“No!” he said more forcefully then before to cut her off. Before lowering his voice.
“This job that I have coming up is going to take months to complete, but it’s a really great opportunity for me. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to return to the States either. This is - was - our last journey together. At least for a while.”
Kagura’s mouth fell open in shock. She tried to speak, but the words didn’t come. Finally, she managed to squeak out the only thing she could muster.
“Why? I…I-I need you Derrick. I rely on you-. I mean-. I can’t-!”
She was getting anxious, and Derrick could tell. That was something that Kagura had struggled with since he’d known her. She didn’t do well with sudden change. Changes to her schedule. Changes to her daily routine. Everything had to be planned. And if there was some major deviation, then she’d lose her shit. She was nearly driven insane months ago because she thought she was being haunted by a fucking ghost. He held up his hand to stop her.
“This isn’t permanent Kagura, and I’ve already asked for permission to travel to Barcelona to see you compete at Kingdom Come. But you can manage on your own, right? You’re World champion now. This was your dream; your goal. Surely you don’t need me to help you along anymore.”
Kagura buried her face in her balled-up fists and leaned over the railing. Suddenly she straightened up and turned on him.
“You could have told me about this before we left Tokyo, Derrick!”
“I didn’t, because I knew it would it would only upset you,” he replied as a matter of fact.
“And you have a million more things on your plate right now that are more important than having to worry about me.”
She shook her head, “But you ARE that important to me Derrick, more than you realize-. But I just can’t deal with this right now. I can’t!”
Throwing up her hands, she stomped over the door and threw it open. She stepped inside and began pacing back and forth from the window to the bed. He sighed. Yeah, maybe he should have discussed all this with her in Ise. But the last thing he wanted to do was to distract her from this title fight. And not saying anything, and just outright disappearing in the morning, would have left her devastated. In the end, he was selfish, and came with her to Australia without telling her a thing. He wanted to be with her just as badly.
“Maybe I should have stayed in Japan,” he said defensively.
She wheeled on him with an exasperated look in her eyes. “That wouldn’t have made things better. When are you leaving?”
“In the morning,” he replied bluntly.
“Wha-? You won’t even be around to see the Lethal Lottery!”
Why was this happening? Derrick was her lifeline! Her only source of comfort. The only person that she had outside of WZCW that she connected with. The only person that understood her. The language and cultural barriers made it hard for her to make friends. She saw Eve conversing with Stacey Madison and that other woman, whose name she could not remember, and Batti had Tyrone Blades. Hell, even being harassed by Ramparte was still better than nothing. Because, without Derrick around, that’s all that would be waiting for her. Nothingness and the loneliness that went with that. Drowning in a sea of failure and disappointment – there were many people in WZCW that could relate that that. But the crushing depression from the feelings of being completely alone and isolated. That was even worse. Not many people in the company could say that they’ve experienced that.
She tried to open her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. All she felt was anger, sadness, and depression. She didn’t want to talk about this anymore. Wheeling on her heel, she made a beeline towards the door.
Her eyes widened as she felt Derrick grab her arm from behind. She felt her body being lifted, as she was slammed up against the wall. His arms formed a barrier on both sides, as his hands were pressed up against the wall, preventing her from escaping. In a serious physical altercation, Kagura could have just as easily flipped him onto his back, and then stomped away in a huff, but she didn’t. His body language was non-threatening. He pressed his forehead up against hers. His breathing was steady, but his pulse was rapid.
“The last I want to do is leave you. Especially after seeing you come so far, improve so much, and then reach the top. I was happy I got to share all that with you, but I have my own dreams, and my own goals that I am chasing. And unfortunately, you cannot be by my side like I’ve been beside yours.”
Kagura opened her mouth to speak, “But I can come back to Japan. Once or twice a month to see you. As world champion, I’m making more money and-!”
He pressed a finger against her mouth to silence her.
“After you retain the world title at Lethal Lottery, and I KNOW that you will, your schedule is going to be crazy. I’m not going to ask you to sacrifice any of that, just to come and see me a few times a month. This is your dream. You should be living it to the fullest.”
Kagura grit her teeth, “But it’s not a dream I find worth living if you’re not there with me!”
He clenched his fist, as she felt his arms going limp. His breath became raspy, as his pulse quickened. He spoke slowly, but couldn’t stop his voice from cracking.
“That’s not true. You don’t need my chest to cry on anymore. You don’t need me to save you every time you feel the icy grip of loneliness on your shoulders. I’m confident that you’ll be a good champion. I know that you’ll find friends, and people that you can rely on and trust.”
Kagura couldn’t the tears from flowing. The one thing that she feared more than losing her title and falling back down the card, was losing Derrick and not having anyone by her side at all. No one to talk to. No one to confide in. A lonely ghostlike, hollow existence. Someone living only to curse others and their happy existences. Slowly becoming a demon of malevolence. Now that was a road she didn’t want to travel down again. Humble as he might be, Derrick really did save her from a life that probably would have ended with her taking it. He reached up and wiped one of her eyes with his thumb.
“When you wake up in the morning, I’m not going to be here. A month from now, I am not going to be there either. But it’s going to be fine, Kagura. You have purpose now. You’ve found your validation. Now make that your drive, and your motivation. Don’t forget that you have fans that love and adore you, and want to see you succeed. You’re not alone in an industry like this one.”
Kagura nodded. Slowly. She got it. She understood. That didn’t mean that she had to like it, but she understood. By the Gods, she had a feeling this might be coming! Derrick had mentioned work, but kept the details so vague that she had forgotten about it. And after everything that happened in Tokyo, and the emotions of happiness and accomplishment that she felt afterwards…
She reached up and kissed him. A gesture that he returned. It started slowly at first, as their lips made contact. Emotions began to cool, and then reignited into wild flames of passion. His tongue found hers. She started to strip off her clothing. She pushed him backwards towards the bed. He countered, and pushed her onto the mattress. He began fiddling with his shoes, socks, and pants. What followed was a round of the hottest sex that they had ever had, because they knew that once morning came they’d have to say goodbye.
The next morning came, and went. Kagura returned to her hotel room, from the airport, alone. Shutting the door, she was greeted by the sound of the gentle humming of the air conditioner. She walked over and sat down on the bed. Even though the bedding had been washed, she could still smell his scent in the sheets. His cologne lingered in the living room. His aftershave in the bathroom. Kagura missed him already. The only person that she was close to, and ever spoke to on a regular basis, was gone. She cursed out loud. Burying her face in her hands, she jumped onto the bed and curled up into the fetal position. She switched positions after a minute, and stretched out onto the mattress. She stared up at the ceiling. Her mind was blank. In the back of her mind, she was still trying to process all of this.
She really did not cope well with sudden changes. Maybe Derrick was right. Maybe she could find someone, or something, that could help her ease her loneliness. She turned and looked onto the table by the front door. The world championship belt. She sat up, got off the bed, and walked over to it. She picked up what others had lovingly referred to as the “fifteen pounds of gold” and stared at it. She opened her mouth, and began speaking to it.
“I’ve heard tales of people selling their souls just for a chance to hold you. They’ll sooner forsake their own children then to lose you. So many evil deeds have been done in your name, Mr. World Title. I wonder how many of those people that so desperately fought to keep you, just wanted the validation. I wonder how many of those people liked the power that came with the position. And I wonder how many people were just lonely; like me. We lonely types are clingy. We’ll grab onto the first thing that we can find that can fill the emptiness in our hearts. Can you fill the emptiness that I feel right now, Mr. World Title, or is it too soon to tell?”
She flipped the title over and examined it. She examined the side plates. Then the centerplate. She fastened it around her waist. Flung it around her shoulder. Before finally holding it out in front of her. She sighed, and walked towards the back door. She opened it and stepped outside to get some fresh air. The weather was warm, and there was a light, gentle breeze in the air. There were a couple of big, white fluffy clouds in the sky, that did little to block out the rays of the sun. She walked up to the railing of the balcony and leaned just slightly over it. She rested the title belt on the rail itself, bracing it with her right arm. Looking down, she could see people on the beach. Further on out she could see crystal blue waters of the sea, and the people frolicking and swimming about. The further back she gazed, the darker the waters became. And the fewer swimmers she could see.
“From my viewpoint I can see everything. And not just here, but in WZCW too. For years I fantasized about being King of the Mountain. And now, that’s a reality. So now I wonder, if it took me months of effort, pints of blood shed from the wounds from all the battles that I’ve had, gallons of sweat lost from all the training that I done… then what’s it going to take to stay here? I guess I’ll find out at Lethal Lottery. Is my will to win is stronger than Eve’s or Batti’s? Ladies; I can say that I respect and admire you both. But only one of us will move forward as world champion. So, we’ve got no choice but to let fate decide that for us. And I’ve got no problem with that. I believe that fate got me this far to begin with. And if I find myself blessed by the gods once again, then I’ll count myself lucky when I’m staring down the winner of the Lottery itself at Kingdom Come.”
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