Missed Part I? Read it here! Onto Part II!
TNA IMPACT!, 19 July 2007
This episode cold-opens on one of the backstage areas on The Impact Zone; it is not well-lit, and the piles of equipment create many shadowed alcoves. A graphic in the corner reads “RECORDED EARLIER”. Two voices can be heard, one male, one female.
“You know what you have to do,” the male voice says. Not pleading, not demanding — matter-of-fact.
“You don’t know how much I want to,” the female voice replies, “but I can’t. He owns my contract — he determines when, and how, I work here, not Cornette, not even Carter. And I’m locked-in for years, unless he lets me out. He doesn’t pay me enough to buy my way out, and he won’t let me work enough to make enough to buy my way out. And with the rules against male-female matches, I can’t even fight him for it — not that I could beat him in the first place.”
There is a pause, then the male’s voice is heard. “Then I know what I have to do.”
“He’ll never agree,” the female says, “and even if he did, he’d just cheat.”
“I know,” the male voice says, “We were on the same side once… I’m hoping he’s forgotten that. Now, get going — I don’t like to think about what he’d do to you if he saw you talking to me directly. He’s not completely stupid; he’s probably already assuming we’re in cahoots.”
Flickers of movement in the shadows as first one figure, then a second, slip away into the darkness. The recording ends.
The show-opening plays, then cuts back to the ring. Robert Roode is there, leaning on the ropes, still showing signs of the chair-shot from Victory Road. He can be seen to beckon the ring announcer over; when she approaches, he rips the mike from her grasp, then stalks to the center of the ring, facing the ramp.
His anger interfering with his ability to speak, Roode snarls, “All right… all right… you little… you little twerp… I d–… I don’t know… what you did… but… I know… you did it! …You’ve… been… dogging me… for weeks… cost me my shot… with Cage… so if you’re any… kind of man… get your ass out here… NOW!”
He receives a response far sooner than expected. As he’s been ranting, Eric Young ghosts from the crowd directly behind Roode, slips over the rail, grabs a mike from ringside, shoulder-rolls into the ring, stands, and walks up behind him. The moment the word “now” leaves Roode’s mouth, Young raises a pointed finger, and pokes Roode squarely in the middle of the back.
Roode snaps around like he’s been shoved. He glares at his nemesis — Young being but an inch shorter, they are practically eye-to-eye. There is several moments where neither man speaks; then Roode raises his mike.”All right, you little twerp — what the hell do you want?”
Young does not blink; in fact, he seems to have not heard Roode speak at all. The silence between them is filled by the crowd chanting “SHOWTIME“; they have been waiting for Young to do something about (never mind to) Roode for a while. Young finally responds with the smile for which he is best known; then he raises his mike.
“You know exactly what I want from you, Bobby,” Young says. Roode twitches at the use of the name he dropped some while back. Young continues: “I’ve seen how you play with your toys — someone needs to take them from you, before you break them. And I didn’t get free of you just so you could take out your childish frustrations on someone else… in fact, it pains me to think that in some way I’m responsible for this. So I intend to rectify my mistake.”
Roode snorts derisively. “And how do you figure to do that?”
Young smiles again. “By being the fly in your ointment… the thorn in your side… the pain in your backside… by ruining any and every chance you get to move up… by making sure no one wants to work with you… until you give me what I want.”
“You want Ms. Brooks for yourself?” Roode’s leer tells the audience where he’s going with this.
Young doesn’t follow. “No… I want her contract, so I can give it to her, so she can decide for herself whether or not she wants to work for a cowardly, ill-mannered, bullying thug like you.” The crowd roars its approval of Young’s assessment of Roode.
Roode snorts once more.”Listen, twerp. What I have, you can’t match — I have money; but more than that, I have power. You think you’re just gonna roll up and get a match with me? I’m main-event material — how many mains have you been in? You have a long way to go to reach my level… and long before that, I’ll have found someone to pound you into the ground for me. So, you want me, you have to get to me.”
Young’s response is immediate, and delivered with a complete lack of emotion.
“So. Be. It.”
The crowd roars its approval.
Cut to commercial….
TNA IMPACT!, 26 July 2007
The program cold-opens on Robert Roode walking through the back with “Cowboy” James Storm. Ms. Brooks trails behind, carrying a briefcase, seemingly unnoticed.
“That’s the deal,” Roode says. “One hundred grand if he’s on the shelf for at least a year; double that if I never have to see him again.”
“You got the dough, boy?” Storm drawls.
The pun passes unnoticed by Roode; he raises his hand, and Ms. Brooks scuttles forward to hand him the case; she then withdraws as rapidly as possible. Roode pops the latches, opens the case, and shows Storm the green. Storm idly thumbs one of the bundles of cash, checking to see it’s actual money; then he looks at Roode, and grins malevolently.
“One pain-in-the-ass, dealt with,” Storm says.
“And the more permanently, the better,” Roode replies.
“Oh, you can bank on it,” Storm says.
This time, Roode matches Storm’s chuckle with one of his own. Roode closes the case, and they walk off-camera; behind them Ms. Brooks trails, looking nauseated.
After a couple commercials, the show returns to the strains of Eric Young’s entrance music; but Young does not appear from the tunnel. Instead, he pops up from the crowd, vaults the rail, and slides into the ring, moving quickly to the center. His gaze never stops on any one point, but scans all directions, including checking behind him. Storm’s entrance is more conventional; when the words “Sorry about your damn luck” echo across the arena, the rest of the theme is drowned out by audience boos. Storm saunters down to the ring, seemingly unconcerned about the match before him. He climbs into the ring, lets the bell ring, then raises his arm in the time-honored “test of strength” gesture.
Young looks at him, smiles, and shakes his head. He then points to his forehead, and his lips form the words “Do you see the word ‘STUPID’ here?”. The audience roars its approval at Young’s wisdom; Storm glowers in response, lowers his arm, and charges.
Young moves like a bullfighter, dodging the charge, and putting a boot into Storm’s backside for good measure. This is all it takes for Storm to put aside the wrestling moves and start the brawling which made him infamous; he launches into a series of clubbing arm-shots and kicks. Young gives as good as he gets, blocking multiple shots to his head; and focusing his attacks on Storm’s knees, trying to take away his ability to perform his double-knee moves.
Sadly, in wrestling, it takes only one slip to put a wrestler in danger; and Young misses a moonsault, crashing hard. Storm grabs Young, shoots him into a corner, and traps him there, using him as a punching bag (open-handed so as not to draw a break from the ref). With Young softened up, Storm pulls him out of the corner, and whips him into the far ropes; as Young bounces, Storm raises his leg for his “Last Call” superkick…
…and Young doubles over, allowing Storm’s foot to slide along his back, before slamming his left shoulder squarely into Storm’s now-unprotected crotch.
Storm is quite literally launched into the ropes, Young carrying him most of the way. They bounce off; Young steps back, while Storm crumples, curling into a ball. Young shows no mercy; one bridging wheelbarrow suplex later, the three-count is academic.
The audience cheers, and begins chanting “SHOWTIME!“; Storm lies immobile in the ring; Young stands tall, glaring at the entrance tunnel, then drops to the arena floor, slips over the safety rail, and vanishes into the crowd.
TNA IMPACT!, 2 August 2007
Once more, Eric Young’s music plays; once more, Young appears from the crowd, head on a swivel. The audience has not seen who Roode is negotiating with, this time; it is “Wildcat” Chris Harris who appears in the tunnel mouth. Young seems unfazed.
Much like the previous week, this match is less wrestling, and more brawling. Harris is noticeably bigger than Young, and attempts to use his size to advantage, relying on Thesz presses, bulldogs, and lariats to bring about a fast pinfall. However, Young seems to have a counter to every move; Harris manages a single two-count after a “Catatonic” side-slam, but Young kicks out. Harris seems stunned by this; Young takes full advantage, smashing Harris’ left knee, then socketing the toe of his wrestling boot in Harris’ ear, hard. Harris drops like a stone. Young does not hesitate; the pinfall comes almost immediately afterward, so suddenly the audience barely has time to register Young’s victory before Young exits via the safety rail… but not before firing another meaning-filled glare at the entrance tunnel.
TNA IMPACT!, 9 August 2007
Robert Roode sits in a back room, his face a mask of fury. Ms. Brooks sits nearby… but not too near.
“Damn it!” Roode snarls. “Those two should have been more than enough to deal with that twerp.” He drums his fingers on his knee, then brightens. “All right — the sledgehammer didn’t work; let’s try the crowbar. Who’s the most like ‘Showtime’–” and here he breaks into a malicious grin.
A couple commercials later, we see Eric Young pop up over the safety rail near the entrance ramp and slide into the ring. The ring announcer then reveals Young’s opponent — “‘Primetime’ Elix Skipper!” Roode’s selection criterion becomes obvious — “fight fire with fire”; Skipper is much like Young, with an extensive suite of moves, both airborne and ground.
And in the next ten minutes, the audience sees all of Skipper’s moves. Starting with his airborne assault, Skipper spends as much time above the mat as standing on it — rope-walking or springing into planchas and hurricanranas, Skipper gets several solid hits on Young, and even a couple of two-counts.
But it is not all Skipper’s match; Young understands that airborne moves leave one wide-open for boots to the face or midsection, or for last-second dodges to let the attacker “crash and burn”. He uses this to advantage — Skipper more and more often finds himself hitting nothing but canvas, or even getting clocked with a kick or chop he couldn’t avoid. Young is able to match Skipper near-fall for near-fall.
With his energy flagging, and his aerial assault gaining him nothing, Skipper shifts to his “ground game”, trying to set up one of his multitude of suplexes. Young is no slouch at the suplex game, though; he counters every attempt, while once more focusing attacks on Skipper’s knees to cripple his ability to maneuver. And it works — Skipper attempts a Northern Lights suplex, but his left knee fails him; as he hits the floor, Young is on him instantly, rolling him up and getting the three-count.
As Skipper limps away in defeat, Young once more glares at the entrance ramp, then turns to leave — and is brought up short by the sound of Robert Roode’s voice saying “Whoa there, boy.”
Young turns back to face the ramp, where Roode has appeared (notably without Ms. Brooks).
“Don’t think I haven’t been watching,” Roode says sweetly, “or that I’ve forgotten about Hard Justice. In keeping with that show’s theme, I’ve already lined up your next opponent — and while I’m not going to tell you who it is, I will tell you: The match is No Disqualification.” Roode smiles oddly, then closes with “Let justice reign”, before walking back up the tunnel.
Young watches Roode go, looks thoughtful for a few seconds… then smiles….
TNA HARD JUSTICE, 12 August 2007
Robert Roode’s early-card match against Chris Harris is mercifully brief — as in “briefcase”, which Roode uses to good effect on Harris’ skull while the referee isn’t paying attention (having been caught in the middle of a flying body-slam by Roode on Harris, he was lying down on the job in every sense of the term). By the time the ref recovers, Harris is out colder than a wet mackeral; the pin is an afterthought. Roode decamps the ring with almost-indecent haste, trailed by a wall of trash and boos from the crowd… but, oddly, not by Ms. Brooks, who is absent from the proceedings.
The next match is the no-DQ event between Eric Young and a mystery opponent. The mystery deepens when Young’s music plays, but Young does not appear — not from the tunnel, not from the crowd, not at all.
Then the opponent’s music plays — and it is not one the audience is familar with; heavy guitar with a near-speed-metal drumline. The figure who appears in the entranceway, pushing a four-wheeled dolly with two aluminum trashcans filled with various weapons, is almost unrecongizable — Dustin Rhodes, in black and silver facepaint, wig, and boiler-suit. It is the ring announcer who breaks the confusion: “AND HIS OPPONENT — BLACK REIGN!”
Reign releases the dolly, allowing it to roll down the ramp and crash into the ring, spilling its load. He then saunters down the ramp, staring fixedly at the empty ring…
…and Eric Young appears from the behind the announcers’ stand, leaps onto the ramp, and blasts Reign across the back of his head with a folding chair.
What follows is possibly the bloodiest ten minutes in TNA history — and that includes matches featuring Abyss. There are few to no actual wrestling moves; the fight more resembles a post-apocalyptic action movie. Reign receives another couple of chair shots; then he gets to the piled weapons, and uses a crowbar to smash the chair out of Young’s grasp. Young is able to dodge some wild swings; then he dives into the pile, and comes out with a kendo stick and a trash-can lid. Using the lid as a buckler, he is able to parry Reign’s swings of the crowbar, and an aluminum baseball bat Reign collects from the pile, while using the stick to lay into Reign’s head and shoulders, plus an occasional stab to the stomach. Shortly, the lid is reduced to unusable junk, and a swipe with the bat shatters the kendo stick. Young does not retreat; he finds a length of chain in the pile of weapons, and uses it as a whip to force Reign to drop first the bat, then the crowbar. Then Young entangles Reign’s wrist with the chain, closes, and smashes his full weight into Reign’s midsection; turning this into a sack-of-potatoes carry, Young powerbombs Reign onto the ring steps. Reign rolls off the steps, curled like a pillbug.
Young steps away — but only to pick up one of the trashcans. He waits for Reign to pull himself to his feet, then slams the trashcan down over Reign’s head, in the process pinning Reign’s arms. A series of superkicks follows, and the trashcan is now crushed over Reign; he is not only unable to attack, but is blind as well.
Young shows no mercy, however; he takes up the abandoned baseball bat, and brings it crashing down on the bottom of the can — right above Reign’s head. A few sideways swings, and the can is now practically form-fitted to Reign, it is so dented. Reign staggers blindly, bouncing off the ring, and the safety rails; finally, he trips over one of the sets of ring steps and crashes heavily to the apron. Young rolls him over — but instead of going for the pin, he straddles the prone Reign, and begins slamming his knee into Reign’s groin like a carpet installer using a knee kicker. Reign can be heard screaming in agony even through the remains of the can.
Young finally rises, pulls Reign to his feet, and drags him around the ring to the announcers’ table area. He pulls Reign up the ring steps to the outer rim of the ring, occasionally slamming a fist into Reign’s gut to keep him tractable, then up to the top rope.
Mike Tenay can be heard to utter, “Oh, s***”, at this point; then we see and hear Tenay and Don West abandoning their posts.
And well they should — Young uncorks a roundhouse right which sends Reign sailing off the ropes, through the air, and straight into the announce table. The table collapses, burying Reign in a welter of wood, fabric, and electronic gear.
Young climbs down, walks over to the wreckage, and pulls the now-destroyed trashcan off Reign. Reign’s black-and-silver facepaint has been replaced with a mask of red — he is bleeding from multiple locations. His eyes are rolled up, his jaw dangles. Some audience members are chanting “RING THE BELL!”, but the referee, the only member of this who has actually gotten into the ring, seems stunned, as does the bell-man. Not until Young places one foot upon the prostrate Reign’s chest does the ref snap out of it; he clambers down from the ring, and counts the pin among the carnage.
Reign does not move. In fact, he does not respond at all.
The ref begins screaming and signaling for the medical team, who arrive with all haste. Young stands back by the ring, observing, as Reign is strapped to the gurney, and rolled away. The audience is silent.
Young now turns, and stands squarely before the ramp. The camera focuses on his face. His expression is not his usual knowing smirk; nor is it the neutral expression he usually uses when facing a nemesis.
This time, his expression is pure, unadulterated, uncontained Hate….
To be continued …