Dungeon Keeper: Slap an Imp to make it work harder

Dungeon Keeper: Slap an Imp to make it work harder

Posted on August 25, 2023 at 4:19 pm by Evan Ward

Ward felt every pound of impact from being slammed into the mat. He was still getting used to it again. While he was stuck in that chair he was aware of everything. He could feel the impacts of being thrown into things, but it was distant and no doubt lessened by how limp his body was. Being fully aware of the hits and reacting to them, by reflex and through conscious effort, it was different. It was like being used to watching movies on a tiny black and white CRT from the 50s, broadcast over analogue in a storm, and then suddenly you’ve got IMAX beamed directly into your skull.

Ward got himself to his feet, wincing as he did. His leg was still in a lot of pain and stiff as hell. When he went into Chaos he had thought it was feeling a bit better and he could wrestle that match without any problems. What a mistake.

“Your leg is fucked, dude.” His training partner said from across the ring. “You really should be resting that.”

“Fuck you, don’t you think I know that?” Ward glared at him. “We’ve got a tag title match to get ready for and if I can’t get used to wrestling on this busted ass leg those Alliance assholes will stomp all over us.”

“Ehh… they’ll stomp all over you but I’ll be just alright.” His training partner mocked. Obviously it was Rhys Townsend because who else would it be? The pair were well known for teaming together, one of the top tag teams of days gone by. The team which took the Tag Titles to the main event of a pay per view by sheer will of force, a team dedicated to the purest of wrestling competition with none of the bullshit peddled by so many in the industry. A pair who wrestled so smoothly together they instinctively trusted the other would be where they needed to be without asking, without looking. But that was then. Now, not so much.

The old team were a finely tuned monster of a man with perfectly sculpted muscles and one of the most agile, high paced wrestlers in the business with an unshakeable moral code. The new team, one of a fat man with a body sculpted from tacos and a bitter cripple with an attitude problem, wasn’t much of a team.

“Shut up and just wrestle.” Ward squared up, wincing as he put weight on his leg.

“I really think this is a bad idea.” Townsend shook his head and approached his tag partner. “You’re just going to hurt that leg even more. You need to rest and rehab, not in-ring training.”

“Like you give a shit.” Ward said as he lunged in, hitting a European uppercut. “You didn’t lift a finger to stop Trent using me as a human wrecking ball, you just let him do it because you just cared about winning that match.”

“We won, didn’t we?” Townsend fired back with a series of chops. “And you speak like I didn’t try. You can see Chaos…I said my piece to Trent, but, naturally, there was some video of you telling him what he had to do…y’know. It’s wrestling. Plenty of fucked up shit happens.”

“Urgh, you’re just as stupid as Trent.” Ward shoved Townsend away and ran awkwardly at the ropes to springboard off with a moonsault. He takes Townsend down but lands hard on his injured leg and grimaces in pain. Townsend rolls away and pulls himself up on the ropes. Ward runs at him but his leg gives out under him making him stumble to a knee. As he recovered his balance Townsend grabbed him in a rear waistlock and launched him overhead with DAS SUPLEXEN! Ward hit the mat hard, landing on his shoulders.

“Dude, trying to fight through that injury isn’t going to work.” Townsend said as he offered out a hand to help Evan to his feet. “You’re just going to hurt yourself even more.”

Ward batted the hand away and pulled himself up painfully on the ropes. “The fuck do you expect me to do? This is how I wrestle.” He put some weight on his injured leg and immediately recoiled to lean against the ropes in a failed attempt to look casual and like it didn’t bother him. No matter what kind of front he put on it, Ward was clearly very uncomfortable to say the least. “Flying around the ring like a lunatic is literally what my entire repertoire is about.”

“And you need to change it.” Townsend replied firmly. “You can’t even hit a basic moonsault without fucking yourself up for the rest of the match, how the hell are you going to hit your combo moves? And no matter how you approach it, that Award Winning Knee of yours don’t work no more, dude…you’re either launching with your good leg and hit with your bad, which, y’know…ouch, or you hit it with the good, but because you launch off the bad, the knee lands with all the percussive force of, well…something shit, and then let’s not even go into how you can’t get a decent head of steam on the run up, y’know? How the fuck are you gonna make a knee to the face hurt when Gladys from the local nursing home can beat you in a sprint?”

“Fuck you.” Ward snapped. “If it wasn’t for you and all the other assholes in the federation, turning a blind eye to the abuse I suffered being forced to wrestle when there was no god damn medical expert on this planet who would ever have signed me off to compete, I wouldn’t be in this fucking condition!”

“Oh fuck off, dude.” Townsend sneered at him with a shake of the head. “Take some responsibility. If you hadn’t decided to record those dumbass tapes ordering people around, throwing out mad threats about lawsuits and shit, then maybe you wouldn’t be here. You decided to go fuck around, now you’re finding out.”

“That’s rich, coming from you.” Ward fired back, taking a tender step away from the ropes. “Mr. ‘I don’t care about this match so why bother making an effort, why ain’t it in a title match, wah’. Now you’re bitching and moaning about taking the L. Couldn’t even stay awake to see the bell go, you fat fuck.”

“Yeah, I fucked up and now I’m setting it right.” Townsend waved dismissively at his team mate. “I’m well aware of what I did wrong, of the hubris I fell into, and I know what I need to do to get myself back to where I need to be. Can you honestly say the same? Huh?” Rhys folded his arms. “I’ll wait for an answer, I ain’t got nothing on today.”

Ward looked at Townsend for a moment, forming a calculated response, which amounted to a roll of his eyes and dropping down to roll out the ring.

“That’s it, walk away. Easier to give up than to try to fix things, isn’t it?” Townend had no sympathy for the self-inflicted bullshit Ward was now facing. “That’s what you did when you thought you were dying, wasn’t it? Couldn’t be bothered to fight it so you just walked away and tried to get yourself killed. That’s what those videos were really for, weren’t they? You didn’t want to survive War Games so you tried to make damn sure you got killed after if you did, right? Cowardly, man. Selfish. Lazy.”

Ward felt his anger rising through that diatribe until he couldn’t take it any more. He turned sharply and slammed a fist on the apron. “HOW THE FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW, RHYS?” He yelled. As heated as the argument had been, Townsend hadn’t been expecting quite such an emotional outburst from Ward. Silence hung in the storied gym for a moment, both wrestlers glaring at each other. “How am I supposed to know…” Ward repeatedly quietly, barely a whisper but could be heard clearly in the silence.

“Yes I shut myself off from the world, I was a coward who couldn’t handle the thought of dealing with my own mortality in front of my wife and children.” Ward admitted somberly. “And, yes, I decided to go out in a blaze of glory at War Games instead of dying in a hole, alone, forgotten by the world… but that twat on those tapes isn’t me. The douchebag who ran around the federation pissing everyone off was not me. At some point after coming back, the blood swelling in my brain got so bad I became someone else. I can’t remember how he thought and I can barely remember the broad strokes of what he did. So, yes, ex-fucking-scuse me if I go around blaming everyone else who had their full senses about them for not putting a stop to the bullshit being run by the shithead who took over my brain before I became totally incapacitated because now I have to pick up the pieces he left!”

Silence fell again. Ward could still feel his rage burning. Townsend seemed to be looking for the right words to respond. “Shit dude, when you put it like that, I…kinda get it. But that shit happened. You that wasn’t you did it. Unless you’ve sent Trent to X-Pro to hide the fact that he’s working on a time machine, that shit happened. Can’t go back and get it undone.

Townsend pauses at this point, seemingly looking for his next sentence. The pause weighs heavy in the air, the two still glaring at each other across the sacred canvas upon which their art is laid.

“Y’know…the Evan Ward I used to know would be forging ahead regardless and not wallowing in the past with some bullshit idea of vengeance stuck in his head. You need to stop focusing on what other people did to you and start thinking about what you’re going to do to get past it. Or how to use it.”

“So tell me, oh fount of all knowledge,” Ward replied with a hint of sarcasm tinging his words. “What am I meant to do about this leg?”

The mirth in Townsend’s voice is pretty obvious as he responds. “Y’know, professional wrestling isn’t just about flips, pretty kicks and going a million miles an hour at all times because if you don’t, the world’s gonna fuckin’ end. Nah bro, where are we?” The response from Ward comes dripping with sarcasm. “Wales.”

“I mean, yeah, but go out another step – the United Kingdom. And I mean, I get you’re not the wrestling nerd I am, you ain’t gonna go combing through YouTube to watch some obscure match that aired on ITV on May 24th, 1974 because someone said it was this dude’s greatest match ever…but there’s a proud wrestling heritage on these Isles, dude. And it’s not wrestling like that. Instead, it’s all about joint manipulation. Wasn’t your dad quite well known for that sort of style? It’s about choosing something – an arm, a leg, a wrist…the fingers if you’re feeling pretty sadistic and working on that body part until it’s annihilated. Until they either have to tap out because of your targeted offence, or so that they’re in so much pain, hitting a finishing move and grabbing the pinfall is an easy thing…” Townsend’s words optimistically trail off, hoping that Ward can at least find some positivity, something to work with.

Ward frowned, deep in though as he considered what Rhys was saying. He’d never considered delving further into his family’s rich wrestling heritage for ways to redefine his style. When he was younger he had always thought of his father’s style as boring and inefficient. All those holds and working the joints was just mind numbing to watch for a kid who was obsessed with the high flying escapades of the luchadores or the flashiness of the Japanese Junior Heavyweights. He had never thought of them being a highly technical approach to wrestling and viciously effective in hurting your opponent.

He looked up at his fat formed friend for a moment and then painfully rolled into the ring before, even more painfully, pulled himself up against the ropes.

“Yeah…” Ward said absently, his mind a flurry of thought about what a change in style could mean for him. “Yeah, I can work with that. Teach me what it’s all about, Mr. Technician. It’s the least you can do.”

“Fuck off, the least I can do is kick you out of my gym.” Townsend laughed. “But I ain’t about to go into this tag match with you being my handicap. This ain’t a one and done thing either, you got a lot of work to put in if you want to nail this.”

“I’m game if you are dude,” Ward stretched his arms and got himself back into a training frame of mind. He had found a goal, something new to work towards and a reason to get back to peak condition. Winning the tag titles would be nice, he thought, but mastering new techniques and once more taking control of his future were goals a few steps beyond that. If he wasn’t replying on the fast paced, impactful, risky manoeuvres he was accustomed to, he was certain he could manage his injury far better even if he had to wrestle through it. The thought of breaking Dan Ryan’s wrists and snapping Jatt Starr’s fingers was an icing on the cake. Revenge is a dish best served with many broken bones, as they probably said. “What are you waiting for? We’re on a ticking clock, let’s get training!”

The two former teammates by choice, now teammates as punishment by Lee Best, began to train again. But this wasn’t the anger fueled, vindictive sparring which they had begun with. This was a measured, thoughtful, mutually beneficial training. Townsend showing Ward techniques and teaching him new approaches, Evan helping Rhys get back into the flow of training again. They were still at odds with each other, Ward still hadn’t forgiven Townsend, but their mutual goals were enough to keep them on the same page.

While the outcome of their upcoming match against the PWA Tag Champions was far from certain, Ward no longer felt it was a guaranteed loss. He had a glimmer of optimism shine through the haze of his mind that he still had a leg to stand on. He hoped one would be enough.