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> A Smashing Debut, Cross vs Barnhart
The Dragon
Posted: August 02, 2019 08:34 pm


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Scene 1 – A Phone Call

The Sin City Wrestling logo appears suddenly on the screen. The image fades out, to be replaced by a Fire Dragons logo before the whole process reverses in a loop. In the background, we hear a recorded phone call between two voices. One is unmistakably Mark “The Dragon” Cross, who we’ve heard lots from in recent weeks. The other, a female, with a distinct Irish twang, who we don’t instantly recognise.

???: You need to make a change Mark. She lost that match for you.

The Dragon: It wasn’t like that.

???: Oh yeah? So you were 100% happy about being tagged out huh? How was your dressing room after Climax Control?

The Dragon: …kinda smashed up.

???: And when are the only times you smash up dressing rooms after you lose?

The Dragon: When I get cheated, or when it’s out of my control…

???: Look…she seems…sweet…and pretty talented too but she went in all guns blazing, overextended, and got caught out fair and square. What if it was me there with you, or Faith. Do you still think the result would have been the same?

The Dragon: Maybe?

???: Goddammit Mark, you’re the smartest guy I know but sometimes you can be so dumb. I know you like her but you can’t have it both ways. Follow your heart or follow your career but don’t get mad when one screws up the other. Lachlan Kane beat Jack Asher. Go on a singles run, get a shot at him at the Supershow, you still come out of this a winner. If you don’t, this whole Sin City Wrestling experiment becomes a failure.

The Dragon: …I guess that makes sense. Thanks, Devinee.

Scene 2 – Memory Lane

Fan: Dragon I just wanted an autograph for my dau…

A slamming door in the face of the man stops him in his tracks as Mark “The Dragon” Cross disappears into the locker room backstage after his match at Climax Control. From behind the door, the sound of metal chair slamming repeatedly into a metal locker can be heard. The pursuing fan can be seen backing slowly away as he hears the destruction from within.

Ring Tech: Don’t take it personally…some of the guys take losses harder than others.

Fan: I didn’t know he was like that. My daughter has nothing but posters of him and Faith on her walls.

The sound of splintering wood can be heard. Then again. Then again.

Ring Tech: Just shows how much it means to him, that’s all. Guy’s only been here a few weeks, already knows all the crew by first name. Just a bad night.

Fan: Maybe he should have teamed up with Faith instead.

Ring Tech: Not the first time that’s been said! Let me take your details, I’ll make sure your daughter gets something from him…

The camera cuts to the inside of the locker room. Seated on the floor, next to a pile of wood that had once made up a bench, sat The Dragon. He stares down at the backs of his hands, both shaking and bloodied from their short spurt of senseless destruction, and we are zoomed in them momentarily before the scene transitions.

We are taken to some old footage from around 7 years ago. Mark "The Dragon" Cross is laying back on the canvas, his hair longer, sporting a full beard, his once-white t-shirt now stained heavily with blood. The camera pans up to the behemoth standing over him, dressed all in black, with matching black mask. A steady trickle of crimson can be seen dripping from the bottom of it as he stares down at his victim, chest raising heavily as he fights for breath.

Emmerson: That boot to the face just levelled Cross, you can see him trying to will his legs to get up while his body screams no.

Thomas: This match started as a technical masterclass from the Dragon, he put up one hell of a fight, but this match has descended into an all-out war.

Emmerson: Doombringer's on the outside now and on the hunt for something beneath the ring...is that a chainsaw!?!

Thomas: Yeah Max, That's a chainsaw.

The referee, who normally would have been tasked with stepping in, instead gets out of dodge as he slides out of the ring away from Doombringer, who was on his way back in. Again he takes a position above Mark, pulling the cord of the chainsaw three times until it roars into motion.

Emmerson: No-no-no... someone get security out here goddamn it!

Thomas: He wouldn't...

Emmerson: It's Doombringer, of course he would! Get up Dragon, get up!!

Outside of the ring, a gaggle of referees and security begin to appear, all of them sharing worried glances, but nobody willing to make the move inside the ring first. Doombringer’s guttural laughter can be heard around ringside as he stares them down one by one, pleased to see none brave enough to challenge him. Satisfied, he raises the chainsaw high above his head when…

Emmerson: Big kick from Cross! He’s sent Doombringer off balance.

Thomas: Down goes the chainsaw…

Mark “The Dragon” Cross gallops to his feet, taking up the piece of garden machinery by the handles and uses it to smash the motor end repeatedly into the skull of Doombringer whose legs start to wobble and buckle. After the relentless assault, the big man drops to one knee. Taking no chances, Cross sets off at full-tilt, chainsaw still in his hand and…

Emmerson: SHINING WIZARD!!! Doombringer faceplants the mat.

Thomas: Doomy's not moving!! Cross must have just knocked him out cold!

Mark's eyes drift from his flattened opponent to the chainsaw, the crowd noise replaced by nothing more than the pounding of his racing heart in his ears. Now transfixed again on Doombringer, he lifts the object in front of him, pulling hard twice on the cord. The saw, having been used to inflict blunt force trauma to a skull a few moments before, splutters reluctantly into life. He swears he can hear the crowd chanting “KILL KILL KILL” in his ears, willing him to sever something important when…

Match Referee: You don't need to do this Mark. It's over, you won...

Head Referee: Don’t do something you’ll regret…

KILL. KILL. KILL. KILL. KILL.

We are brought back to the present day, to the locker room, where The Dragon is still sitting, this time addressing the camera directly.

[i]I've been in my fair share of tough matches over the years, put myself through a lot of pain...and you know, there are even a few occasions where I could have lost my life out there, truth be told. I did drop that chainsaw back then, by the way. Doombringer found it difficult to find anywhere to wrestle for some time after that, in the United States anyway. Got himself a bit of a reputation. It was the final straw for him anyway, if trying to pick away at an opponent’s open wound with his fingers a month before that chainsaw incident wasn’t enough of a warning sign, that sadistic fuck. That was the closest I’ve come to doing something stupid in the heat of the moment. A part of me wished I had severed something useful, at least make sure nobody would ever have to face him in a wrestling ring. I’m sure he would have found a way regardless…

I hate losing if you couldn’t tell. Even this far into my career, they aren’t any easier to swallow. While the Ls are few and far between, they still come up from time to time, and knowing just how hard they hit me is a major plus. It proves I’m as hungry now as it ever was. It’s more justification for getting up and training hard every morning, and it points me in the direction of areas I need to get better in. When you get to a certain point in your career, it’s such fine margins and tiny percentages that you can raise from the time in the gym. A defeat gives me the chance to make a bigger jump - It focusses me on something key.

This time in Sin City Wrestling is short-lived – That was always the plan, and I don’t intend on wasting any more of it on another defeat. It might mean digging deeper, recounting some of those historic matches and reaching the level of intensity that it took to bring home the victories. I don’t plan on losing again on this run. For the sake of my hands, for the sanity of the cleaning staff that get lumbered with this mess. I’m going back to Underground with a bang, not with a whimper…[i/]

Scene 3 – The Audacity

We are taken to the video room at The Dragon’s Lair. Faith Simpson and Mark “The Dragon” Cross can be seen watching the end of Bill Barnhart’s latest promo video.


“…then come back to the next event to wrestle against someone who is less intimidating them I am. But, Mark, I assure that you will feel like Crap when I am done beating you into submission in our match!”

Faith: I mean…is this guy for real?

The Dragon: It’s a good comedy act, that’s for sure.

Faith: I get the feeling this one won’t take you long?

The Dragon: Yup, you got it. Get the match footage ready for me?

Faith: I’m on it.

With that, Mark pushes himself up from his seat and heads outside to the main area of the gym. The sound of fellow wrestlers training can be heard in the background as The Dragon shuts the door behind him.

The Dragon: Now I know I have a habit of droning on, so for those of you that don’t want to sit through that, here are a few key points so you can go about your day. I didn’t hesitate to sign any contract for any match. I joined a development division due to time restraints, rather than because of ability or a lack of “better offers” and Bill Barnhart doesn’t worry me enough to check my medical insurance policy…but I always pay in full and on time.

Mark shrugs as he leans back against the white-painted brick wall.

The Dragon: Now…for those of you that are still with me, we get to the bonus content. Bill Barnhart is old school, and you know what happens with old school wrestling guys, right? Often, they come through just learning how to get the job done, and it’s much less about proper technique. It doesn’t look pretty, more often than not, but they’re awkward and they’re gritty, and there’s many a time when a talented young wrestler finds themselves on the losing end against one of these vets, left scratching their head wondering why it all fell apart. The principles are the same, the result is the same, but the attacks don’t come from the angle you expect, or with the timing you see from a ‘better trained’ opponent. They’re as difficult to wrestle as their style is ugly-looking in the ring. I have to be aware of that, and I have to prepare for it. The difference is I watch a lot of footage on every opponent, and for guys that have been around the block a few times, there’s plenty of footage to work on.

Mark suddenly winces, his eyes drawn to a nasty landing from one of the guys working behind him.

The Dragon: Here’s the thing though, Bill Barnhart isn’t unpredictable. He doesn’t have the speed and flair of a Faith Simpson or an Emmie Ward, he’s just seen a lot of situations and knows some ways to get himself out of them. He doesn’t have the same technical ability of a classically trained wrestler, nor have the deadly strikes of a martial artist or a Strong Styler…it’s more like getting mauled by an undersized bear getting in the ring with someone like that. It’s all about kicking some ass and hoping to take less of a beating yourself. It isn’t calculated. We’ve already decided it isn’t pretty, and compared to a lot of the names on the roster you could have put me in against, it isn’t a scary prospect.

Mark glances back again, thankful to see that the gym user is back on his feet.

The Dragon: Playing to my strengths, exploiting the weakness of others, and setting the right tactics from a lot of research in the video room, it’s a simple formula really, one that has worked near flawlessly over the years. Bill has the three things that he does well in particular, and he’s nice enough to spell them out to me. Technical…yet he hasn’t practiced everything hundreds, sometimes even thousands of times in pressure situations. Brawler…yet firm striking became a staple of my game a decade ago, and has continued to develop ever since, and submissions…yet that’s of limited use when you’re being out-wrestled, out-punched, out-worked and out-matched. I’m exercising my cardio-vascular system while Bill is exercising his jaw. I’m hitting my protein goal while he’s winning pizza eating contests. I’m better prepared. I’m better tooled up, I’m in better shape…let’s face it I’m a better version of Bill Barnhart than Bill Barnhart is. This one is mine for the taking, and unlike the tournament match last time out, I don’t have other variables to worry about. It’s just him, and me.

Mark scratches his head for a second, deciding whether to mention the dog. He decided to leave that comedy routine to his opponent on this occasion.

The Dragon: I’ve watched Bill’s pre-match comments. Laughable. Completely wide of the mark too, not that I’m surprised by that. I’m guessing you’ve all seen championship boxing, right? Two guys talk about how they’re going to kill their opponent in the ring, yet they’re hugging and having a chat at the end when it’s all over with? Mutual respect? Possibly. The main reason that happens though? It’s all fluff for the media. There to build up the match, to create a story…yet it’s the same old cookie-cutter trash when you look at it. I’m going to kill you, destroy you, break your arm, make you wish you never became a wrestler, wah wah wah I mean it’s all playground level bullshit, right? He hasn’t fact-checked a single thing. I didn’t want to take the match? Where is any of this coming from!?! It’s a wrestling show. We’re put on the card and we go out and wrestle the guy we’re up against. What contract signing? I’m not even sure the information sheet he read on me is correct, now I think about it, could be for some completely different guy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s copy/pasting that whole pre-match speech for the next four or five opponents he comes up against. It isn’t original. It isn’t specific. It isn’t even true. I don’t even know where to start, there’s just no point.

The Dragon shrugs his shoulders, holding the pose for a moment or two.

The Dragon: I will labour one point though since it keeps coming up. Development division? Budget brand? Use whatever term you want to describe Sin City Underground but don’t go and underestimate me because of the choice that I made. Sadly, I shouldn't have to come here flying the flag, to represent. It’s a shame we are thought of as such lowly beings. Let me clarify, that wasn’t my main reason for coming here. It wasn’t about proving anything, and I didn’t plan on putting the company’s reputation on my back when I made the step up. Simply put, I came here to keep busy, to put a few people in their place, and hey, any excuse for a cruise right?

We see The Dragon take another moment of reflection before concluding.

The Dragon: One final thing that I think we need to finish on, as I’ve heard the talk, listened to the opinions that others have voiced. He should have partnered with someone else. He should have stuck to singles. At one point, I was maybe close to agreeing with them, but it’s still early days in the grand scheme of a tag partnership doesn’t have to spell the end. Valentina BROUGHT IT out there right at the end, the result didn’t go our way, but we all need someone with that level of passion and fire in our corners, and I was lucky to have her in mine. It just didn’t pan out for us that night. I don’t know what the future holds for the Fire Dragons, but I’m hoping it involves the band staying together. Besides, who else am I going to hang out by the pool with for Summer XXXtreme huh? I’m sorry our first match on the big show wasn’t everything it was predicted to be, but we still have time to impress you guys. If you’ve stuck around this long, thanks a lot, not all heroes wear capes…

The scene fades to black.
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