(Dis) Respect

It’s a beautiful thing, surprise.

Surprising myself, that I could go into a new company and make such an impact so quickly. The work I’ve done in the past eighteen months, building my name, to the point where I’m looked at as ‘a big get’ by High Octane Wrestling, where even Mike Best seems like my placement on the opposing War Games team gives him cause for concern.

Standing there at the top of the show, being looked at as the equal of three legitimate legends I was sharing the ring with? Chills. And you can say what you want about The Best Alliance, but to say that the word ‘legend’ doesn’t apply to Eric Dane, Lindsay Troy, and Dan Ryan… you’re deluding yourself.

The confidence and the brass stones-waving on social media? The vultures in the locker room, they smell fear on you and you’re done before you even start. The most vulnerable place for anyone to be in this sport is in a well-established company before your first match.

Now they see what I can do, and I’ve got credibility besides a big mouth. And now I can honestly say I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pull it off until Aunt Lindz handed me the microphone.

And then I was surprised again when my invited guest was waiting for me with flowers that looked like they were stolen from the grounds, and a slice of key lime pie.

These are the things I live for.


MJF: I’m eating your food!

It’s almost unbelievable how much more comfortable MJ Flair is, sitting in a hotel room with a guy she has only known for a few weeks than she was a week ago, having an open, heart – to – heart conversation with him behind her father’s bar.

She sits on the edge of the bed and pulls the hotel table over for ease of access. The cover is quickly removed, revealing her bacon double cheeseburger and Kevin’s steak tips, his side of fries and her mixed vegetables.

MJ hears some frantic movement behind the bathroom door as she chews – nay, savors – a steak tip. Her head turns to the sudden waft of steam as Kevin steps out dressed only in shorts, still drying his head and chest with a white towel.

MJF: This is really good.

Kevin: Hands off, beef thief!

He steps towards her and she grabs another tip and turns around, quickly chewing.

MJF: Dude, you’ve got a whole plate!

Playfully, Kevin holds her arms by the elbows and picks her up off the ground. MJ has started laughing and is struggling to not choke on the food in her mouth.

Kevin: Maybe I wanted that one.

Kevin walks her back past the table and turns her towards the hotel room door.

MJF: You do realize I could take you down, right?

Kevin: I have no doubt.

MJF: So you’re gonna put me down?

Kevin: Naaah.

At that, MJ tilts her head to see behind them, and hooks her feet behind his upper thighs, causing him to lose his balance, with both of them tumbling onto the bed behind them. MJ gets her left hand down first to pivot as soon as he’s lost his balance, and she climbs onto his back, pinning him down.

He struggles for a moment but realizes the futility of his situation very quickly.

MJF: You took too long in the bathroom. I didn’t take that long.

Kevin: You showered at the arena.

MJF: Well, I wrestled a match and held the audience right here.

She points at the palm of her hand.

MJF: I am hungry and I will eat all of the things.

Now it’s Kevin’s turn to laugh. He points his face into the comforter and lets it all out.

Kevin: I yield to the hunger queen.

She gets up and adjusts her tank top and exercise shorts, and sits down next to the table, picking up her burger. Kevin rolls to his elbow and looks at her enjoy the first bite.

Kevin: And now you’re eating your own food. What was that all about?

MJ shrugs.

MJF: Goofy mood. I had a good night, ya know? Promo went off good, match was fuckin’ great. Night like this, usually I’d insist on going out and doin’ something afterwards, ya know?

At that he sits up, crossing his legs underneath himself.

Kevin: Oh… I’m sorry? Am I harshing your post – fight buzz?

Immediately, she shakes her head.

MJF: Oh. No, man. No, not at all. I mean, I’m… I’m glad I got to share this with someone. This is like, a huge part’a who I am and it has ta’be front and center.

Kevin nods his head and joins her at the table. She nudges him with her foot.

MJF: I’m glad you’re here.

They smile, shyly, at each other. MJ looks towards the muted television – a replay of HOW Refueled V is playing, currently on the backstage vignette featuring Cecilworth Farthington, Dirk Dickwood, Dan Ryan, and Lee Best.

Kevin: Me too.

They eat in silence for a few moments, with MJ continually watching the screen.

Kevin: Is all this pretty typical of your work day? I mean, the brass balls you had when you were talking…

A mouthful of ground beef prevents MJ from responding immediately but she shrugs and looks up – indicative of the fact that it’s more complicated.

MJF: Yes and no? I mean, a good day at the office is a win and a solid promo. But this is a little more… Explosive, I guess, than what I’m used to. We’re really here to make a mark like right now, and that’s not something I’ve ever really done before.

She continues her meal with a few pieces of mixed vegetables, but pontificates with her fork.

MJF: This place, it’s got a metric fuckton’a history and you can’t fight that. You can’t. All you can do is make like…

MJ waves her hand around behind her head.

MJF: …a big ass explosion over here that makes people pay attention. Mr. Dane and Mr. Ryan, they’ve always done that stuff. Walk in, get the attention, get the glory. That’s what they do, right?

Kevin nods. In truth, he’d never heard of Dan Ryan or Eric Dane until a few weeks ago, but he’s enjoying her enthusiasm.

MJF: And Aunt Lindz, I mean, everywhere she’s gone she’s played for keeps. I’m doin’ my best to keep up but I’m the young one here, right? My resume’s the shortest with the least amount’a shiny bits.

Kevin: You’re also like, twenty years younger than them. It makes sense that they’ve accomplished more.

MJF: True, but I’ve still gotta pull my own weight. And for the moment that means I need t’be louder, more in-their-faces, and more… everything, ya know? And then back it up.

Kevin: Which you did.

Another shrug. MJ takes another bite.

MJF: I mean, yeah? Those guys were okay but they’re not like… the big guns. I need to make a statement on the next… show. Yes, right like that.

She points at the television, which fades out on Max Kael holding the HOW World Title high above his head, transitioning to a rundown of the card for Refueled VI.

MJF: Sure, it’s another tag match but if it’s me and Eric Dane against the current and former World Champion? That’s makin’ a statement, man.

MJ stands up and walks to her bag on the opposite side of the room, rummaging for her phone.

Kevin: You put your mind to a thing, I shudder at any of ‘em getting in your way.

She looks at him, her eyes dancing. A small smile is on her face as she types a few things on the screen.

And she stops.

Scroll.

Stop.

Kevin: What is it?

MJ holds up a finger and dials a number, holding the phone to her ear.

MJF: Hey. Hey Mr. Dane. Yeah, it’s me. Fine, man. Cool. Listen, did you see this thing about a change to the next Refueled?

She chuckles, trying to hold in her laughter.

MJF: Yeah… no. We were set t’team up but Lee’s put me in a triangle match and given you a new partner.

Pause.

MJF: I hope you’re sitting down.

That makes Kevin raise his eyebrow.


New York.

Taxi.

(Yes, they still exist in the days of the Uber.)

Kevin sits in the back seat behind the driver, and MJ is in the middle, leaning into him with his arm around her neck and shoulder, holding his hand.

Kevin: We could also go back to my place and I can make you dinner.

MJ smiles.

MJF: Raincheck, man. Aunt Ivy asked to see me as soon as I got back to New York, and she’s…

Pause. Putting Ivy McGinnis into words is difficult.

MJF: Anyways, I can’t really say no to her.

Kevin: Wow.

She looks up at him.

MJF: What?

Kevin: If you’re afraid of her… that’s terrifying.

He kisses the side of her head as she smiles.

MJF: I’m not afraid of her… but yeah, most people are.

They ride in silence for a bit. Avoiding Manhattan by staying on the expressway, the car is able to skip most of the Pride congestion as it enters the Bronx with its pair of passengers.

MJF: Center Field, please. Jerome and a hundred sixty-fifth.

Kevin: Not bad, close to the stadium.

MJF: Her grandfather opened the place back in the forties, I think. Long, long, long time ago.

As they exit the expressway, the car slows to the inevitable traffic, but expertly navigates its way the final few blocks until he pulls up in front of the Center Field diner. It looks fairly busy; people are entering and exiting, and the buzz of conversation can be heard even from the street. MJ pays the driver as they both step out, grabbing their overnight bags in the process.

MJ has learned to pack light for the road, and Kevin, not knowing any better, brought only the bare minimum that fit in a backpack. The cab speeds away as MJ leads the way into the diner.

Behind her, Kevin steps in, both at home and in unfamiliar territory all at the same time. A battle – forged cook, he knows his way around a restaurant. At the same time, he knows his way around the kitchen more than anything else: not the dining room.

MJF: She’s in the corner, c’mon.

Kevin looks up to see over the booths, tables, and people milling about: it’s mid-morning, so this is a mixture of both breakfast and lunch crowds, and a decent amount of customers, to boot.

The corner,’ that MJ pointed out, that they’re currently walking towards, appears to be empty, though the table between the booth seats is covered with stacks of paperwork. They’re walking slowly as MJ is greeting everyone that works there by name, with a smile and a pleasantry.

And he was wrong: someone is in the booth. On their approach, a head of blonde hair appears over the horizon of the high backed booth, leaning over a pile of paperwork.

MJF: Hey there, ol’ professor.

Dramatis Personae: Ivy McGinnis.

Deep breath.

MJ’s father and Ivy’s oldest sister were childhood sweethearts, whose relationship was destroyed on a slippery road and a car accident. MJ’s father had just started in the wrestling business a few months prior and the accident was on the eve of his debut with the CSWA – the biggest wrestling promotion in the world at the time.

Twenty-year-old Ivy took on the responsibility of appointing herself his manager and minder, hoping to keep him on track while he worked through it.

As it turns out, he wouldn’t truly work through his grief until he met MJ’s mom. But Ivy was a natural in the wrestling business. As an onscreen talent, she had a knack for managing, cutting jaw-dropping promos, entertaining and insightful commentary, and even wrestling on occasion. What surprised her (and everyone else) the most was the fact that she was just as talented on the business side as the performance side.

As MJ’s father’s career wound down, Ivy transitioned to MJ’s mother’s manager in the music industry without missing a beat.

Ivy: Hey!

She pops up and reaches as high as her five foot four body can, and hugs MJ around the neck. Her eyes drift to the right and land on Kevin.

He finds it unsettling how her emerald green eyes, hidden behind thick wire-rimmed glasses, transition from happy and loving (while looking at MJ) to suspicious (while looking at him), all without doing anything different.

She gently nudges MJ aside and looks up at him.

Ivy: And you are?

Kevin holds out his hand.

Kevin: Hi. I’m Kevin, I’m a friend of MJ’s.

Awkward. For several seconds, until MJ hip – checks Ivy.

MJF: Don’t do that, he’s cool.

Ivy looks at him with a raised eyebrow, but she shakes his hand with a tiny smirk.

Ivy: You want some coffee?

She reaches for the pot on her table, while at the same time MJ locks eyes with Kevin and shakes her head no.

MJF: Darlene? Can we get some coffee? Decaf?

Ivy turns to them both. MJ smiles, Kevin shrugs.

Sidebar – Ivy McGinnis has the single worst taste in coffee in the recorded history of humanity. Days old, stale, reeking of what she calls ‘character.’

Ivy: Seriously, kiddo?

She sits back down in front of her paperwork and gestures to the others to sit opposite her. Kevin gestures for MJ to get in first, and she whispers ‘You’re welcome’ as she passes. As they sit, Darlene the waitress delivers their coffee.

MJF: This is a nice guy, Aunt Ivy. Don’t poison him with your coffee sludge. So what’s the poop?

Ivy closes the file folder and leans on the table, looking at her.

Ivy: Eric Dane, kiddo? Really?

She drops her head a bit and looks at them over the rim of her glasses like a disapproving mother.

Ivy: Really?

Kevin looks at her, and at MJ, and back at Ivy.

Kevin: Am I missing something?

MJF: You? Aunt Ivy, am I missing something?

Ivy: Eric Dane. Kid. He’s an asshole.

MJF: Yeah?

Ivy: He’s a douchebag.

MJF: Yeah?

Ivy: He’s an arrogant prick.

MJF: Yeah?

Ivy stares at her, blankly.

Ivy: We’re having a disconnect here, and I’m not sure where it’s coming from. Look. Him and his little Defiant group spent literal years being assholes solely for the purpose of being assholes. You might be too young to remember the last Ultratitle tournament but the match everyone was looking for was Dane against your dad in the third round and when the time came he just phoned it in and refused to give the fans their moneys’ worth. That’s just the biggest thing. All the little stuff adds up, too. I mean–

MJ holds up her hand. Ivy looks surprised – shocked, even – that she interrupted her.

MJF: You’re right that I don’t really remember all that stuff, man. I mean, Daddy really kept the ins and outs’a his career away from home. But, and I don’t wanna sound like I’m takin’ anyone’s side but it sounds like he was doin’ what you guys always did. Sounds like he was just stickin’ up for his boys.

Pause.

MJF: You know, like you and Mommy and Daddy and Uncle Sean always do?

Kevin nods his head in agreement/approval with what MJ said, but he quickly stops when Ivy’s eyes land on him.

Ivy: Dude. I wanna like you, so don’t make me hurt you.

She turns back to MJ.

Ivy: I’m just worried that you’re gonna cause your career some serious damage before it’s even really gotten off the ground. I’ve looked into the High Octane stuff, the War Games match, the stips, the referees, the location–

Kevin: How do you know the location? I thought they hadn’t announced it yet.

Now Ivy smirks, which is somehow a more sinister facial expression than her thousand-yard stare.

MJF: If it exists, Aunt Ivy can find out what it is. And what kinda damage could being in a match’a this height really bring me?

Ivy: The HOW World Title.

Their eyes lock. Kevin looks between the women, waiting for them to elaborate.

Kevin: What about the HOW World Title?

He quickly tires of waiting. Ivy looks at him, then looks back at MJ, then back at Kevin.

Ivy: What do you do for a living, sweetie?

Kevin: I’m a cook at a crappy bar trying to save up to go to culinary school.

She nods.

Ivy: Nice. So you don’t know dick about the wrestling business, so you’re best seen and not heard.

MJF: Dude.

MJ leans in.

MJF: You’re being really fuckin’ rude, Aunt Ivy. I like that he’s not in the life. I like that he doesn’t care about it in way – too – creepy ways.

She turns back to Kevin.

MJF: So the War Games match, to the victors go the titles.

And she turns back to Ivy.

MJF: So… what’s the problem?

Ivy rolls her eyes and drinks from the cup in front of her.

Ivy: So… War Games is a team event, but this time the winner actually does fuckin’ matter. You’ve got Dane with his shitty knees and shitty neck and shitty attitude, and Ryan with his old man bones and saggy skin. You think they’ve got any problem with you doin’ all the work so they can swing in after the fact and claim the belt?

MJF: Knox and Cally like ‘em both just fine. And Aunt Lindz is on the team, you really think she’d be using me like that?

Kevin: Cally! I know her. Sweet girl.

MJ smiles at him but gestures ‘not now.’

Ivy: You know I’ve been in this life a long ass time, kiddo. Those three, they’re from my generation. Dane’s entire purpose in life is to upset the fuckin’ apple cart. Ryan’s a decent guy but he cares about himself. And I do trust LT, but me and her, we’re very good friends. Her and Ryan are family. Like it or not, you’re the odd one out.

MJ leans back, and under the table grips Kevin’s hand. He squeezes gently, reassuringly.

She squeezes back, very very hard. Kevin looks at her as her eyes light up and she shakes her head.

MJF: No.

Ivy: What?

MJF: I don’t accept that. Yeah, maybe I’m the odd one out, but that’s the one ya never see comin’. Mommy’s been the odd one out her entire career and she’s sold a lotta millions’a records. You and Daddy were the odd ones out and built an entire two decades on it.

Ivy: That’s–

MJF: I’m just saying… that’s sorta what our family does. And whatever issues you and Dane had with each other… they were your issues, not mine. If he really was as big an asshole as you’re saying, he’s not nearly as big’a one anymore. People change.

Ivy raises an eyebrow.

Ivy: That much?

MJ smiles.

MJF: Didn’t… you and Uncle Sean absolutely hate each other for like… years?

Ivy raises her index finger and points at MJ, about to say something.

No words come out. MJ chuckles. Kevin chuckles.

Ivy: I’ll… let you get away with that one.


FADE IN… a fairly close up shot of MJ Flair’s face. Her hair is pulled back and here eyes are lowered in a concentrated look.

Pull back a bit. MJ is sitting on a plush, puffy loveseat, leaning over a knee-length coffee table. She’s wearing a plain black button down shirt with half-sleeves, two hair bands around her left wrist, and a plain silver ring on her right index finger.

Pull back a bit.

She’s rapidly working a pencil across a piece of paper.

Pull back a bit. Pan up.

On the off-white wall behind her, there are seven pieces attached to the wall in some capacity. Probably tape. Doesn’t matter.

But it’s a who’s who of High Octane Wrestling’s greatest athletes, all drawn in a very photo realistic style with pencil. The four slices of paper on top are clearly, immediately identifiable as Silent Witness, David Black, Bobbinette Carey and Chris Kostoff. The bottom three are new HOW World Champion Max Kael, and MJ’s opponents for Refueled VI – John Sektor and Scottywood.

MJF: Done and done.

She stands up and turns around, taping the last photo to the wall. Mike Best.

If she’s missing any, don’t blame her – these are the only people on the High Octane Wrestling’s website listed as being in the Hall of Fame.

MJF: These ain’t bad. After War Games, I might redo ‘em in color and give ‘em to the company.

MJ turns around and sits back down, crossing her legs at the knee to show off her fashionable – yet – practical knee-high boots.

MJF: It’s the least I can do for the Hall’a Famers. A sign’a respect, if ya will.

She smirks.

MJF: That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Respect? That’s what I’m s’posed ta be giving t’my opponents right now. John Sektor and Scottywood, they’re both High Octane Hall’a Famers. They’ve earned a long rest, and the knowledge that they’ve got a career well-completed.

The smirk fades, and MJ gives the camera a thousand-yard stare.

MJF: That’s how it’s s’posed’ta happen.

Pause.

MJF: Do ya know what ya get when all the newcomers to a company walk in the door, kowtow to the veterans, keep their mouths shut and be proper and respectful to everyone workin’ above ‘em on the card?

MJ sits up and cracks her knuckles.

MJF: Ya get a glut of quiet, inoffensive, milquetoast middle-of-the-middle athletes that never, ever, ever threaten the status quo.

She laughs.

MJF: Eventually the main eventers die off and your company folds.

Deep breath.

MJF: This is where we’re at. What do I hear from everyone in this company except for the rest’a the Best Alliance? Respect. Respect the traditions’a this company. Respect the Hall of Famers. Respect everyone that’s wrestled more matches for High Octane than you have, Mariella Jade.

And she spits on the floor.

MJF: Fuck that shit.

And she shoves the table away from her with one booted foot.

MJF: You show me the ten greatest wrestlers in the history of this sport and it doesn’t matter who you’ve picked. None of ‘em sat down and shut up and automatically respected those that came before ‘em.

MJ leans forward, resting one elbow on her knee, pointing her finger at the camera.

MJF: John Sektor. Max Kael. Scottywood. Mike Best. Even my own partners Eric Dane and Dan Ryan. Take any of ‘em at eighteen, nineteen years old in this sport, and I’ll put ten thousand dollars cash up to bet that not a single fuck one of ‘em had anything close to respect for the ones that paved the way.

Not Lindsay Troy, however. MJ is about 50/50 on Aunt Lindz being quiet and respectful as she built her legend.

MJF: And good for them. They didn’t become legends by sitting on the sidelines, waiting for it t’be okay with their generation’s legends to grab opportunity.

MJ stands up and starts to walk towards the camera. It backs up very smoothly as she continues to walk.

MJF: That’s the way it should be. You’re a legend in this sport and think you deserve more respect than you’re getting? Fucking prove you deserve it. You’re a newcomer to the sport and think you deserve more respect than you’re getting? Fucking prove you’ve earned it.

And she makes a quick slashing motion with her hand at her neck.

MJF: It’s as simple as that.

She stops.

MJF: But that’s the crux of all’a this. Respect. War Games, in the very abstract… Refueled Six in the all-too-iminent. We’re starin’ down the barrel of a triangle match featuring myself and two High Octane legends that apparently deserve respect.

We won’t go down that road again.

MJF: Am I the underdog here? It really depends on your definition. If you think that a newcomer t’the company could never topple established fuck pillars of the company in which the match takes place, then yeah, I’m obvs the underdog.

Smile.

MJF: Totally. Obvs.

#freemikeyunlikely

MJF: But it also means you’re a complete fucking idiot.

And she starts walking again.

MJF: The years spent in the sport may determine your knowledge and experience, but they don’t determine how good you may or may not be at it. Am I a smarter wrestler than Sektor and Scottywood? They’ve got more experience but – quantity aside – I’d match quality with them any day. Am I a faster wrestler? Time spent in the sport balanced against accumulated injuries… yeah, I think I’ve got ‘em both there. Am I a better wrestler?

She stops again, a look of contemplation on her face.

MJF: Seeing as I’ve never stepped into the ring one on one with either of ‘em before, that’s t’be determined. But what it really comes down to is this: if John and Scotty decide t’ignore me because I’m new to High Octane, and beat on each other? I suddenly become the favorite t’win. If they decide that I’m the upstart outlaw that needs t’be taught a lesson? I’m the underdog because I’ve got two opponents workin’ t’keep me down.

The contemplation turns into a grin.

MJF: Both’a those scenarios, it doesn’t matter who the best wrestler in the match is, because the odds move with the whims’a the triangle match.

We open up into a larger room with fluorescent lighting and no windows. One wall has a very bright graffiti-esque “HOW” logo painted on it, while another shows an amazingly detailed representation of MJ Flair, Eric Dane, Dan Ryan, and Lindsay Troy on the left side of the wall, with Scottywood, Max Kael, Cecilworth Farthington, and Halitosis on the right.

Or. more specifically, the War Games teams as announced to this point.

MJF: And the lynchpin of it all, of course…

Hard left. John Sektor, question mark above his head, on a wall all to himself.

Spoiler alert, but all of this art is in the same style as the penciled drawings of a few minutes ago. The impression is that MJ Flair has done all of this artwork.

No, the impression is too ambiguous. MJ did do all the artwork. It’s one of the three things she does very well: wrestle, draw, and play guitar.

MJF: You may or may not remember me, John. You might need some memory jog. Some years back, we were in WrestleUTA together. You won the Legacy Championship in a scramble that we were both a part of. Fears and I beat you and MDK Farthington in a tag match. Blah blah blah.

She grins. It looks like a wolf about to enter the henhouse.

MJF: That was a lifetime ago, Angry Johnny. I was wrestling in Utah with one hand tied behind my back.

MJ holds her hands up in front of her, all ten fingers spread wide. She’s wearing rings on four of them.

MJF: Currently unencumbered.

And she folds eight of her fingers down.

MJF: And very much unimpressed.

She turns her right hand around, lowering her middle finger and pointing her index at the camera.

MJF: You.

Pause.

MJF: John Sektor. You have a serious case of ‘I don’t know what the fuck happens outside my brain meat.’ You’re talkin’ like a man with a difficult decision in front of him, what War Games team should I grace with my presence?

MJ laughs.

MJF: Bitch, if we want you we want the competent version’a you. Not the junkie loser with a gorilla on his back and an attitude up his ass.

And she spits on the floor. Again.

MJF: You think you’re a cutting fuckin’ wit, describing Dane, Ryan, and Aunt Lindz as legends, while I’m just ‘that bitch that’s leeching off the legends’? You’re not the funniest guy in the room, Johnny, even with your sycophantic hangers-on elbowing you in the ribs, tellin’ ya that you’re the funniest guy in the room.

The camera shifts, with not a small nudge from MJ, towards the John Sektor art.

MJF (V/O): ‘Some little girl can’t hang with two legends.’

And shift back to MJ.

MJF: In the past year I’ve won a sixty minute Iron Man match after sustaining a bleeding-from-the-head concussion in the first ten seconds. I’ve won a barbed wire match that left me taking over two hundred stitches, all things considered. I’ve won a No Excuses match inside a locked cage and no rules. And I’ve won ‘em all without having twenty years worth’a injuries slowin’ me down.

Chuckle.

MJF: Who’s to say you two legends can hang with this little girl?

Pan back to the War Games wall – only now we can see the entire wall. Above MJ’s team of herself, Lindsay Troy, Eric Dane, and Dan Ryan, the title ‘THE BEST ALLIANCE’ is spray painted above their heads, while “World’s Okayest Wrestlers” is above the other team.

MJF: Johnny, you need t’prioritize. Ya need t’know who you’re in the ring with if you’re tryin’ to decide between teams, and be aware’a what we can do, not what you vaguely remember we’re capable of. If you’re basin’ your strategy against me in this match on what you remember happening in Utah… you’re gonna have a bad time.

Pause.

MJF: Translated. You’re gonna get your ass beaten, you’re gonna get your ass humiliated, and you’re gonna fuckin’ deserve it. And Johnny, I’d caution you against tryinna tell me how I should live my personal life, man.

Eye roll.

MJF: Because, of course, I’m just fuckin’ itching t’take life advice from a track marked loser whose entire existence is currently relivin’ former glories with vain and vague hopes’a reaching those heights one more time before it’s painfully obvious t’everyone under the sun that’cha can’t fuck hack it anymore.

She smiles.

MJF: Hypothetically speaking, of course.

The camera suddenly zooms in on Scottywood’s painted face.

MJF: I could never forget about you, King of the Rave.

MJF: I mean, or maybe I could. No offense, Scotty – but we haven’t actually seen you in like… a month. Ever since you lost to Max Kael to determine a number one contender to Brian Hollywood against Halitosis.

Back on MJ.

MJF: Are you related to Brian Hollywood? You share the… last half of your… last… names.

Awkward smile. Move back to Scottywood.

MJF: It’s not too late t’be not… on… the losing team, man. Maximus Desmus Meridikaelousness, Cecilworth MDK Farthington, and Halitosis is too ridiculous a name to insult, they’re not a team. They might claim t’be, but all they’ve got is a loose coalition of an Emmmpire.

Zoom in on ‘World’s Okayest Wrestlers.’

MJF: Scotty, you don’t even have an M in your name. Can you really trust them?

The thirteenth letter notwithstanding, the focus returns to MJ.

MJF: Me? I trust my team. Because I know my team. Because as much as everyone wants to tell me that I can’t trust ‘em, at least one member’a my family has been in a position t’have t’trust Eric Dane, Dan Ryan, or Lindsay Troy on at least one occasion, and they haven’t been let down.

Smirk.

MJF: Neither have I.

The smirk expands into a full – bore smile.

MJF: So, bring your Hall of Fame rings, Scotty and Johnny. Bring your High Octane Legacies. Bring your memories’a days gone by and your mementos of previous glories.

Sudden spin to the only wall we haven’t seen so far, showing a silhouette painting of a woman with her arms raised, and the dark outline of five Championship belts arranged around her.

MJF (V/O): But your histories… will not be enough… to deliver you a win.

Zoom in on the painting of the woman. If we use our imaginations, she is wearing a hoodie and long tights. We linger for a moment before we…

FADE TO BLACK


Ivy: Nice.

She eyeballs Kevin while handing MJ the camera, all three of them still staring at the artwork.

MJF: I hope so.

MJ circles the room, looking at all the art on the walls.

MJF: If I can get past both’a these jokers, this could be a pretty cool place t’livestream the event. But if I lose it’ll make it look like we’re losers that can’t win the big one.

Kevin: Why would you lose?

MJ’s gaze lands on him.

MJF: Ya know, if they both team up on me, or if I take a bad step and twist a knee or an ankle. Anything can happen, man.

Ivy: Win or lose, you’ll kick some ass, kiddo – and you’ll sell this show like nobody’s biz.

She steps back and regards both Kevin and MJ. He is dressed in a dress shirt and pants, with shined shoes and a fitted vest and tie that complement each other. MJ has removed her boots, removed her tight fitted jeans, and has replaced them with a knee length skirt and replaced the boots.

MJF: Honestly man, if the fans aren’t already sold on this I dunno what else we can do. I mean, I guess we’re waiting on seeing what Sektor does on the day – but even with that it’s just a drop in the bucket. We’re pretty much locked with both teams right now, right?

She smiles, and MJ embraces her aunt, who reciprocates the hug.

Ivy: Good ish, kiddo.

Once again, Ivy looks at them both.

Ivy: And where are you two headed tonight?

Kevin: Friend of mine works the line at Le Bernardin, so we’ve got a res in about an hour.

Amused, MJ watches Ivy’s eyebrows raise.

Ivy: That is a nice place, kiddo. Respect.

She offers her hand – a gesture of respect that’s a far cry from their introduction days ago. Kevin takes it, nodding his approval in the process.

Ivy: Take care’a my niece, dude. I like you, and I don’t wanna hurt you.

With that uplifting message, Kevin guides MJ out of the room with his hand on the small of her back as we

Cut.

The Good
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The Bad
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