Alone.

Alone.

Posted on February 11, 2022 at 11:52 pm by Xander Azula

02.06.22
Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse
Cleveland, OH

Just moments after a surprising victory over the Two-Man Advantage, we find Darin Zion and Xander Azula quickly making their way toward the exit. Xander in particular looks worn out, ready to just head home for the week when suddenly a stagehand calls out from the distance.

“Hold on a second, fellas!”

The young man rushes over to the self-proclaimed Masters of the Multiverse (and we emphasize self-proclaimed, because there is no official record of this just yet) with a slip of paper that he immediately hands over to Xander.

“Office wanted me to make sure you knew who you were facing next week, didn’t want to waste time on a text.”

Xander takes a look at what’s been printed, but as Darin tries to sneak a peek the Head Disciple pulls the slip away.

“No no, it doesn’t say Xander Azula and Darin Zion. Only one of us is booked this week, pal.”

This, of course, only serves to rile Zion up as he grabs the paper from Xander’s hand, taking a look to see who the man he is begrudgingly aligning with is set to face at the next Refueled…a revelation that draws a shout of exasperation.

“What the hell? You’re facing JJR for the title!? That makes no sense!”

The declaration by Zion garners a laugh from Xander.

“Oh sure, after all we’ve been through these past couple weeks, this is the thing that makes no sense.”

He pats Zion on the back, grabbing the paper back from Zion with a follow-up chuckle.

“Good one, buddy.”

Xander walks off, about to reach the door when Zion catches up with a shout.

“No, you don’t get it Xander. You’re not even the one carrying this makeshift team, and you know it! I’m the one who made Logan tap out tonight, not you! You don’t deserve a title shot just because I’ve gotten us past the first two weeks of this tournament.”

Xander scoffs at this, raising his hands up as if in defense.

“Hey man, a participation trophy is still a trophy. Besides, you’ve had multiple title shots this past year, opportunities I didn’t even have a sniff at. You’re more than welcome to debate whether I deserve this title shot or not, but there won’t be any denying that I’m gonna make the best of it.”

Xander pauses for a moment, before revealing a big grin on his face.

“Just think of it this way. Next week, Xander Azula does the unthinkable and beats Jeffery James Roberts at Refueled 87, bringing the HOTv Championship to the Masters of the Multiverse. And then, when this tournament is all said and done, and we take care of the multiversal threat that awaits us, I’ll see if I can pull a few strings and give you first dibs at a title shot. You’ve earned it, after all.”

Xander laughs again as he pushes the door open. The anger that’s been bubbling up inside Zion up to this point finally reaches its breaking point, and the former World Champion rushes Xander in a fit of rage, shoving him through the doorway…just as a portal opens up, grabbing Xander as though yanking him into another universe…and closing just as quickly, leaving a suddenly-panicked Darin Zion behind.


Jeffrey James Roberts, we meet at long last.

The reigning HOTv Champion.

Number one in the singles rankings at the moment.

The rankings are a funny thing, though. Have you looked at them lately?

There are folks on there that aren’t even on the active roster, so after the first few names it all gets a bit confusing.

Simon Loveless, a man I shamed during the DeNucci Cup.

Desmond LeRoux, a rookie who hung around for a cup of coffee in the big time.

Hell, even Daytona is higher than I am on that list, and I basically ran her out of High Octane Wrestling.

Someone’s taking the piss with these rankings, I’m sure of it.

But I digress.

The important thing is, you’re at the top of the pile and I’m near the bottom of the barrel.

And yet, our paths cross on this fateful occasion.

Written in the stars was this encounter, only a matter of time before we faced off.

Especially true in light of your recent title defense against the man whose career has quickly become entangled in mine.

The man who, by all rights, holds a victory over you.

Oh, sure, you still have the title in your possession…but the records tell a different tale.

A disqualification, because you just couldn’t help yourself.

Pathetic.

But rather fitting for a man of your ilk, isn’t it?

Resorting to such cheap tactics, no doubt learned from all that time behind bars.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

I can respect that hustle.

Commend that chaos.

I’ve just always found it funny when people like you accept asterisks like that to enter the conversation.

An asterisk I will keep a very close eye on inside the Mackey Arena.

You won’t catch me by surprise the way you did Darin.

If it’s violence you want, it’s violence you’ll get.

But I know how to reign in the insanity.

How to control that chaos.

And I will do whatever is necessary to win.

Actually, scratch that.

Darin learned firsthand what winning without really winning looks like.

I’ll do one better.

I will take that championship away from you.

And then you’ll end up all alone in your cell once again.

As you should be.

And my goddess will take great joy in your suffering.

Praise Eris, praise Discordia.


Undisclosed Location

As the portal opens once more, Xander comes tumbling out, narrowly avoiding a head injury as he comes colliding with the pavement. He lifts himself back up to his feet, before looking around at the massive cityscape surrounding him. It all looks surprisingly normal…until he notices a behemoth of a man standing near him.

A stiff man.

A cardboard man.

And the face is all too familiar.

“Holy shit, it’s Dan Ry–”

Before he can finish that thought, he gets sent flying with a shockingly powerful wallop by the cutout figure, crashing into a nearby wall before the two-dimensional tough guy continues on whatever path he was walking. It takes him a moment to recover, but Xander eventually makes it back to his feet before heading the opposite way of his attacker. He continues down this road until he stops by an office building, an open window revealing some gruff yelling. As the Head Disciple peeks in, he sees a cardboard representation of what appears to be his upcoming Refueled opponent, but instead of shackles and the HOTv Championship, this man is seen with a cigar perpetually in his mouth and a nameplate on his desk that reads J. JAMES ROBERTS, HEAD EDITOR – DAILY CARDLE.

“Dammit, I want pictures of Sharkman! That menace has been running around, tearing through the loyal citizens of Cardopolis, and we need to see what he looks like!”

Xander backs away from the window, hoping not to get spotted by the angry newspaper editor…when he bumps into a proper, three-dimensional figure for the first time in this world, startling him instantly. After the initial panic, he notices exactly who he’s come across, a man in a light-blue “super suit” with curious blue goggles and red “teeth” upon his face.

“Holy shit, are you…?”

The figure immediately shushes him, raising a finger to his mouth. After a moment, the figure finally speaks up…and it’s a surprisingly familiar voice.

“The hell are you doing here, Xander?”

“Axel?”

The figure immediately smacks Xander upside the head, making the pain from his earlier collision worse.

“Dammit Xander, don’t blow my cover! I’m the Sharkman here, loyal protector of Cardopolis.”

This confuses Xander greatly, considering what he just overhead.

“Protector? There’s a weird cardboard dude in that office that said you’ve been tearing through people, that doesn’t sound like protection to me!”

“That’s not me, man. There’s some weirdo painted up like a shark, lookin’ real hungry around here. I think I might be losing my mind from being here so long, cause the guy looks a little like me?”

Xander’s fear sets in as he slowly nods his head.

“Yeah man, he is you…from another world.”

“God dammit Xander, what have you gotten me into now?”

Suddenly, the pair can hear growling from behind. They turn around, focusing their attention on a very hungry Shark staring at them with a wicked snarl. And for the first time, we can hear a single word uttered from the mouth of this beast.

Food.”

The Shark charges, going after his multiversal counterpart…who manages to fend him off with an impressive mixture of martial arts and superheroics. He tosses the beast to the ground with relative ease, quickly grabbing a rope from his utility belt to tie the Shark’s hands up…but the sheer strength of this Predator is too much for The Sharkman, who is shoved away as we see a portal opening nearby. The man who calls himself the Finned Avenger is back on his feet, but so too is his new nemesis, who charges at full speed toward the vigilante…and the pair fall right into the portal! Not wanting to be left behind in this strange, flat world, Xander hops into the portal just before it closes up.

Can the pair of Xander Azula and The Sharkman stop the bloodthirst of The Shark?

Will the Predator show the vigilante and disciple of chaos where he sits in the food chain?

Tune in next time…same Shark-time, same Shark-channel!