Kan’ei-ji Temple in Taitō-ku
UENO, TOKYO, JAPAN
The cold, wintry air blows and howls across the frostbitten grass as our point of focus materializes into a large grouping of people in the middle one of Ueno Park’s greatest tourist attractions. A single story building with barren trees and two blueish-green statues at the entrance sits with a snow kissed roof; it is the world famous Kan’ei-ji Buddhist Temple. Once standing as a five-story pagoda, this popular tourist attraction has become an equally popular hangout for gangs and drug dealers alike. Especially at nighttime. And on this evening, the eve of New Year’s Eve, prominent members of the Inagawa-kai Yakuza family, the third largest in all of Japan, cement this fact by standing in a circle around two individuals who are to be punished for crimes against the family.
One, an American boy, no older than fifteen, with dyed blonde hair that looks to be straight out of the late 90s, sits at a table six-feet from the four steps that ascend into the temple’s entrance. The other is another young American boy, who stands facing the seated teenager. He looks to be no older (or younger) than the age of seventeen. Eighteen at the oldest. A square corkboard rests on a wooden table that had been set up earlier in the evening and an arm lies atop it with a white cloth underneath. Its corners wave furiously from the harsh, icy breath of old man Winter indicating it is quite a gusty night to be outdoors.
About a dozen men wearing suits, marked by very specific gang-like tattoos, surround these two individuals. In front of the table there are two additional men: Kazuo Ichii, the Inagawa-kai family’s Oyabun (Boss) himself, and Masahiko Nii, his Saiko-Komon (second in command).
No one dares to speak as the young blonde-haired boy holds a Tantō knife to his left pinky.
As Kazuo speaks fast and loose in his native Japanese, Masahiko translates for the American boy.
“You have been accused of stealing from us, Michael-chan. You, an outsider that is looking to become a blood brother to the Inagawa-kai, must repent for such a transgression. Make your sacrifice now or be banished.”
The young man’s hand shakes with fear.
“Repent. Or suffer the consequences.” adds Masahiko without instruction from Kazuo, who simply nods to support his Saiko-Komon’s words.
Something inside this young man, who has been identified as “Michael”, screams to him he would not simply be “banished” from the Yakuza. He fears death lies in the wake of the Oyabun and Saiko-Komon’s words. He has seen such betrayals before.
Michael starts cutting his left pinky in a sawing motion. His screams echo throughout the night as blood flows from each side of his pinky onto the white handkerchief, staining it beautifully on the white fabric. The other American that stands near him simply watches in an emotionless and unmoving state. In fact, a sick smile spreads across his face as he watches the blade sever the flesh and bone. It takes a full minute for Michael to cut off the top of his pinky. He shrieks and hesitates as it cuts just above the top of his knuckle, but once the bone cracks upon separation from the rest of his finger, his cries stop. Blood continues to spill from the handkerchief, eventually reaching the cork board, then to the table before cascading onto his own lap. Tears fall from the corners of his eyes as he struggles to maintain a grip on the pain.
Folding the handkerchief over the removed finger part, the American stands from the table. Shaking from head to toe, he brings the folded cloth with his pinky tip inside of it to his Oyabun. He then kneels.
Nodding, Kazuo reaches out and accepts the offering as if it were a cluster of grapes.
“Well done.” plainly speaks Masahiko.
Suddenly, the other young man watching laughs. Looking at the Oyabun, he shrugs, “Well that looks like fucking fun. Hahaha. Is it… is it MY turn now?!” he says in mock excitement.
Kazuo looks at the other man, then looks at his Saiko-Komon.
“You are not part of this ritual, Arthur-chan. You have not earned such an honor. You are here to simply watch and learn.” says Masahiko.
“Aww Hiko, c’mon. Don’t be such a cock tease. It’ll make for a good story back home. If I ever go back there, that is.” Arthur says, pantomiming the act of kicking dirt with his hands in his pockets.
Masahiko shakes his head in frustration as what appears to be a younger version of Arthur Pleasant steps closer to Michael.
“Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, MIKE. I can’t believe you actually went through with it. That’s fucking badass!!” he says while creeping up behind him to massage Michael’s temples like the good friend that he is.
Without warning, Michael falls forward onto his face and passes out. Whether it’s from the loss of blood or the sheer terror of having to self-harm in front of a group of killers, one cannot be certain.
“Well shit. Guess you aren’t as badass as I thought. Sooooo… Hiko, my brotha! What’s next?!” asks Arthur, half-seriously as he follows it up with a chuckle.
Masahiko says nothing and just looks at the passed out Michael. Nodding at some of the other members of the family that stand in the circle, they immediately come forward to pick up Michael’s unconscious body.
Kazuo utters something quick in Japanese which garners Masahiko’s attention. The Saiko-Komon quietly asks, “Ka?”. Kazuo nods and turns away from them. This causes the circle to dissipate as the other Yakuza brothers join their Oyabun on his slow walk into the temple.
“Your Oyabun says it is over and that you are to report to the academy at once. They will no doubt notice your absence in the coming hours.” he says.
Arthur looks flabbergasted. Dejected, even.
“Wait, that’s it? Seriously? Obi-Wan Kenobi there wants me to just fucking leave?!” says Arthur with a raised and panicked voice.
“You are not ready, Arthur-chan.” says Masahiko, as he simply walks off with the rest of the present Inagawa-kai family. Arthur, meanwhile, scratches his head in confusion.
The Yakuza Controlled Red-Light District
KABUKICHŌ, TOKYO, JAPAN
“This is just fucking weird.” Arthur thinks to himself as he sits in a round booth made up entirely of bathroom tiles. Soap scum in dire need of attention coat the once unblemished grout between each piece of tile-work as beautiful, and very buck naked, local Japanese talent sit on both sides of our now fully adult and ever dangerous Provocateur. With two masterfully curved women to his left, and another slender lovely dovely sitting and giggling to his immediate right, Arthur nurses an entire bottle of Suntori Yamazaki to himself. Like the ladies in his company, it is aged to perfection in eighteen years.
This is one of the many “Soaplands” of Tokyo that Arthur had frequented back during his early wrestling days. To the unlearnt, these said “Soaplands” are essentially hot spots for prostitution. You see, the Yakuza, as they are mostly run by, found loopholes around the illegalities of paying for sex and legally operate their businesses by having a menu for food and drinks alongside one for women. You want some chicken yakitori, curry korokke, maybe some hot sake, and perhaps for desert a nice sloppy blowjob sundae? Order up, baby. The entire operation is predicated on sleaze and that nuanced thrill one gets when committing the act of something that toed the line between good and bad, so the manner in which they have the business not only functional, but thriving, is downright awe-inspiring.
One of the many ways Arthur Pleasant learned the Japanese language was by frequenting establishments like these. Another way was by touring the rest of the dirty underbelly of Tokyo during the excruciating downtime from whenever he was lucky enough to get booked on a show. He spent many nights hungry, cold, and alone as he tried his best to gain a foothold on the complicated language barrier. But his survival depended on breaking through, so Arthur studied, observed, and executed in ways many of his superiors resented.
They dubbed him “Rūzukyanon,” or “The Loose Cannon.”
Many more nights had been spent here, with women fawning over his freshly carved scars and stapled together wounds. A few years after cleaning shit buckets, emptying spittoons, hand-washing those sweat-drenched diapers that had rotten smelling shit and rogue ass hairs embedded into the sodden fabric, he had made it to a point where he no longer needed to pay his dues as a gaijin and became one of the “boys”. The reason he spent only four or five years doing this as opposed to the nine or ten that most others would before either graduating or washing out and becoming lowly English teacher is simple: he proved his worth by exhibiting an inhumane pain tolerance and a lack of empathy.
Something that would carry on to this day and become one of his greatest attributes as a warrior in and out of the ring.
In severely broken English, one of the scantily clad hostesses holding a tray with empty drink glasses on it asks, “Would you like anything else, Arthur-san?”
Arthur shakes his head before replying, “I’m good.” he pauses, putting his arms around the visually pleasing “triple delight” that surrounds him, “Got everything I need right here!”
The hostess nods before shaking her hips and ass in a thong that does not leave much up to the imagination. What a piece of trash.
That’s when he spots them. Just to the side of her shaking ass. Corner booth. Two rows over. Three men in black suits with tattoos creeping up from their collars like vines from an ill-treated garden.
“Finally.”, thinks Arthur. He had been waiting for over three hours to spot one.
And here the Yakuza blessed him with three. Arthur shoos away and hisses at the broads sitting on each side of him. He isn’t about to make a couple of fine pieces of ass collateral damage.
Walking up to the table, he simply asks, “So, should we do this here, or are you going to take me to him?”
In the moments that follow, these low-ranking foot soldiers, know as “Wakashu” in the almighty Yakuza hierarchy, lead Arthur out of the “Soapland” and into a building about a block and a half away. They hold him at knifepoint, with the serrated edge of an odd-looking cleaver that has a dragon emblem emblazoned onto it. They tuck it inward towards his heart, nice and snug. A large gold chain is fitted through the wooden handle, signifying that someone actually wears this goddamn thing on their person.
“Things are looking better and better for me! Hahaha…” Arthur says, laughing loudly as they awkwardly meander down the street.
“Shut the fuck up!” says his guide, repositioning the cleaver to his throat after butting the end across the crown of his head. Yeowch. Not very nice.
After the sweltering ten-minute walk, the man ahead of him is someone he recognizes from a long, long time ago. His name is Masahiko Nii, and he is the Shatei from one of the local Bōryokudans- a group who posed themselves as true Yakuza when in fact they were mere outcasts and shamed criminals from the real triad. A glorified splinter faction filled with miscreants and drug addicts that might have once been recognized as part of the big three, but have long since been excommunicated from taking advantage of local businesses through a misuse of power and influence. Something that the true Yakuza did not take kindly to as they considered themselves “Ninkyō dantai”, or in easier to understand terms, “chivalrous organizations”.
The pain travels from the top of his dome down through his spine, giving him the chills. He clears his throat before speaking in a far less mocking tone.
“I… apologize. Ugh. What do you want from me, Hiko? I said I’d never deal with you bastards ever again and I sure as shit fucking meant it.” he says with a twinge of anger.
Masahiko, or “Hiko” as so dubbed by Arthur, smirks and hops down from the stool he had been perched on since they brought Arthur into their “lair” AKA some garage with Japanese kanji written in red (perhaps of the “97” variety?) all over the walls. It literally looks like something pulled directly out of a South Park episode.
“Ahhh. And yet, you are back. In Tokyo. Wrestling. Without contacting us first. This is… unfortunate. And unacceptable.” Hiko says in a very light, yet sublimely horrifying voice.
“And? What’s your fucking beef with a man earning a living? Huh?” shoots back Arthur rather incredulously. Pausing for a moment, letting the question linger in the air, he finally continues, “For real now, you scumbag fucks ain’t even really Yakuza. You’re just a bunch of glorified young boys looking to get back into the good graces of the Inagawa-kai. Kind of like the Best Alliance parading around as a real faction trying to get back into the good graces of Lee Best. So, fuck you. And your Mother.”
This Wakashu dumb-ass here goes to brain Arthur, but Hiko puts his hand up and the cleaver immediately stops in mid-swing. In relatively good English, this Shatei speaks softly.
“You talk a lot, Arthur-chan. I see seven years has not changed a thing. Even back then you were a brash and ignorant soul.”
Arthur laughs and retorts with, “First, you say brash like it’s a bad thing. Second, that you think I have a soul is laughable. They’re for the weak-minded. Souls are for those that are too afraid of the truth. Besides… I traded mine years ago for a raspberry Zinger.”
He goes on, shrugging, “And… ignorant? That stings a bit, you fucking dick… but I suppose it’s fair. I don’t keep up on a lot of current events with the very obvious exception being the Kardashians. Did you know that Kanye and Kim broke up? I don’t want to live in a world where that is no longer a thing. Just slit my wrists now, please and thank you.”
The man holding the cleaver looks like he wants to slice Arthur’s carotid artery for his incessant disrespect, but Hiko’s hand is law and he abides by it.
“Listen, this is all very boring.” Arthur continues before Hiko can get a word in. “If I wanted to be bored, I’d just call myself Miracle Man and put my own promos on loop. That or I would have stayed and watched the Hanamachi over in the Akasaka district, mon ami. So can we just get to the torture part of this already? Because I really want to get back to my preparations for War Games. Time is of the essence, fellas!” he insolently and arrogantly says.
“As you wish.” says Hiko with a smile.
He withdraws the Tantō from the inside of his sports coat. Its metal had rusted over the years and the unwashed bloodstains have hardened and turned an almost onyx color. Arthur’s eyes light up like it’s Christmas morning.
“Awwwwww! For me? You shouldn’t have. And here I thought I was just getting a cheese grater to the balls or something.”
This Wakashu with the cleaver simply grits his teeth.
“Watashi wa kono kirainahito o jūbun ni motte imashita!!!! Hai?!?! A Kare o korosa sete KUDASAI!!! ONEGAISHIMASU!!”
Little did this fuck wagon know Arthur is fluent in Japanese. The Provocateur chuckles, which pisses off the Wakashu even more.
“Look, if you want to ‘Watashi o koroshite’ me or whatever the fuck you just rattled off, then just try it, bub.”
Surprising everyone within the vicinity, Arthur throws his head back hard against the bridge of the Wakashu’s nose. He grunts out in agony. And though Hiko has put his hand up again, Wakashu advances towards Arthur with the cleaver, swinging wildly like a man possessed.
“WHOA! Take it easy, there, Panda Express. You might actually cut me!” he says, furthering this Wakashu’s anger with the stereotypical insult.
The Wakashu knicks Arthur across the cheek with the corner of the cleaver, just barely slicing him open. Seconds after scratching Arthur’s cheek, the Wakashu makes the grave mistake of swinging said cleaver in a downward slashing motion. Arthur finally utilizes his youthful years of martial arts experience and skillfully grabs the arm with with the cleaver, swinging the Yakuza brother towards him, neutralizing the sharp weaponry completely as he begins choking him out.
“Just like everyone else. You underestimate me. Shhhhhhh. Night, night!”
The Wakashu flops to the floor, unconscious. Arthur shakes his head and flaps his hands up and down, fluttering his lips with impatience. “You really need to get some better henchmen, Hiko. I mean, that’s just embarrassing. Feel like I’m double-oh-seven in a remake of ‘You Only Live Twice’. The fuck is this, huh?”
“You haven’t changed, Arthur-chan. All these years later and you are still the insolent child that thinks everything is a joke. I… pity you. And so must your enemies.”
Arthur thinks on this for a moment.
“Everything IS a joke. And as far as my enemies go?” he says. “They’ll be pitying themselves when they come face to face with me.”
Hiko waves off the sentiment, “You will never honor the Yakuza. You will never perform yubitsume. So disgraceful.”
Arthur smirks and sucks his teeth.
“Maybe not. But I WILL be the one accepting an offering.”
Arthur turns away, but stops.
“It was good to see you, Hiko. After all these years, you haven’t changed either. You should come to War Games.”
As the Wakashu stirs on the ground, Arthur gets in Hiko’s personal space.
“I mean it. Come to War Games.” Arthur insists rather boldly.
“And why would I do that, Arthur-chan?” scoffs Hiko.
“Because. I wanna show you what some real, honest to God ritualistic bloodletting actually looks like.”
Walking backwards, so as to not turn his back to the once Second in Command turned bitch boy for a bunch of exiled posers, Arthur slithers away like the cold-blooded reptilian son of a bitch that he is.
Halfway point, folks.
A lot has been said by saying nothing.
A lot of nothing has been said in a whole fuck ton of mouth breathing.
It’s quite an interesting landscape right now.
So let’s review a bit, shall we?
Sutty-Sutt’s seeing ghosts of his Daddy in his cheerios ‘cause of some ridiculous fucked up nonsense that I had to phone a friend to even start trying to understand. By the way, Lindz, thanks for helping me out with that. Sometimes it’s a real pain in the ass coming into a story five sequels in. That said, I don’t really give a good Goddamn about Junior OR Senior. I see Senior in the ring and I’mma slide a ghost trap under his dead ass while Zeb brings him down with his trusty proton pack. And while Junior watches his Daddy’s Ghost fade into oblivion in the middle of War Games, I’ll break his fucking jaw, face, neck, back, and pussy until that blood-choking death rattle tells me he’s ready to be sent to the afterlife. I’m all for reuniting family members, after all.
Next you have Harrison comma Steve shocking absolutely no one by either outright lying about the importance of my destroying his perfect singles record for the year, or forgetting the fact that I beat the ever-loving fuck out of his knuckle cushion of a face until there was so much blood oozing out of him I heard Boettcher whisper into his radio the words “need”, “transfusion”, and “may”. Can’t remember in which order they were uttered but… yeah. Head trauma sucks, but that’s what happens when a little bitch sneak attacks you in some shoddy attempt at trying to outclass the masterclass of hardcore. Did you see all of that blood on my knees? Not that I expected anything more from him. Dude gets his ass whooped in the HOFC division so much that the same trend was going to happen in an actual wrestling match, eventually.
Then we have Sekksy with all his “Mind. Body. Soul.” shit. You get it, folks? ‘Cause, spoiler alert, that’s no doubt where he’s going with his not-so-clever, coma inducing bullshit. You know, I sincerely hope that Sekksy isn’t the one who eats the pin in that Tag Team Title part of this wonderful acid trip of a fucking match. A guy who prides himself on technical ability willingly accepts a win via low blow? THAT’s my kinda guy. Hypocrites are fun to ruin.
Then, of course, you got Jatt… well… being the “Come sleep in my bed Macaulay Culkin” Michael Jattson King of Poop that he is… living up to his weak link status by writing letters like Grandma, worried about getting them out in time for War Games WHEN HE COULD’VE JUST FUCKING EMAILED US. Jesus. And if the guy with a whack-ass bloody smiley tattoo on his man titty is calling someone ELSE a weirdo? Then you fucking KNOOOOOW they must be, at the very least, a skin bleaching, child molesting piece of shit. Thank God he broke the combo and didn’t ruin “The Emperor’s New Groove” for me. Really liked that one.
And finally, you got Scottywont and Jace “King of Something” Parker Peters Jones Davidson Smith and his ten goddamn names or whatever sitting back in their caves, stroking their clubs, waiting for material to come to them. Scotty, ‘cause he’s so used to getting brained in the HOFC division that he forgot what the fuck it meant to do something that lasted for over five minutes. I know what the sex-starved wife reference is that’s in there, but I’ll just pocket that baby for later use in the event Hot Topic Miracle Man opens his mouth. And Jace because, well, I wouldn’t know what the fuck to say if I lost to Darin Zion, either. What DO you say when you make such a grandiose return and you lose to the person who the entire roster shits on regularly? I don’t know what you say to that, but I certainly know what you DON’T do… and that’s lose. But he did, and now he’s inherited the spot as the one with the abysmal reputation and Darin Zion has the most momentum heading into War Games. Hahaha. Jesus Fucking Christ. I guess what you get when you’re in that situation is what we’re all seeing now: a fucking moron that’s only one-degree removed from the Keystone State Vanilla With Extra Filla. Yikes.
I could go on and on about these guys in redundant fashion like my opponents do regularly. I could run them all down individually like I need to hit the bullet points on everyone involved to score big with the fans or something, but… nah. I’ve got one more promo to put out before War Games and I think I’ll leave some room for dessert. Point is, Team Best Alliance is about to offer their pinky to me.
‘Cause if they don’t? I’ll just take the whole fucking hand.
To be fair, this is about what I expected from you guys. Just a cyclone jerk-off-a-thon of cliched venom being spit and shitty, embellished narratives being told that avoid the reality and truth of what’s about to happen at War Games. This all, of course, coming from dudes telling OTHER dudes, plus LT, about what it means to be in War Games. I mean, Jesus Horatio Christ. I’ve been here for a cup of coffee and even I could tell you what it means to be in fucking War Games.
It means many people are going to get fucking hurt. Badly. I’m talking maimed. Maybe even put on the shelf for a while. Shit, could be that someone might actually get murdered (again). It also means that, in only my sixth match in, I’m already entering the biggest main event of the year. Hell, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, maybe in the history of High Octane Wrestling.
Six matches in and there’s a distinct possibility that, if some of my teammates fail, I could walk out with the High Octane Championship of the Fucking World.
Six Matches in and I’m about to make the cream of the crop in professional wrestling, the WHO’s WHO of HOWville, my absolute fucking BITCH.
So hook your bibles up to a USB port, you goddamn posers that call yourselves a winning team. ‘Cause there’s a patch y’all need to download that fixes something that’s long needed fixin’.
On the sixth day, God may have created mankind…
… but in his sixth match?
Arthur Pleasant conquered the world.