TNA IMPACT!, 16 August 2007
After the bloodbath at Hard Justice, strangely neither Eric Young, nor Robert Roode are seen at the IMPACT Zone in person. Roode appears in a segment “RECORDED EARLIER” — he is seen approaching Frankie Kazarian in the backstage area.
In his usual oily business-manner, Roode says, “Hey, Kaz.”
Kaz turns to look at Roode — his expression suggests he’d find binge-watching tentacle-porn more pleasant than talking to Roode.
“I guess you didn’t get my calls,” Roode continues, seemingly oblivious; Ms. Brooks, however, sees Kaz’s expression, and backs slowly out-of-frame. “So, what do you think of my offer?”
Kaz hesitates a moment, looking at the floor, then fixes Roode with a laser-like glare. “Oh, no, Bobby,” he says, putting all the contempt he can muster into the emphasis on Roode’s first name. “I got your messages — and I wanted to see you in person, so you would be sure to get my message. And that message is: Does that briefcase come with thirty pieces of silver, as well?”
Roode understands the reference. “What do you mean by that? What does that twerp owe you?”
“It’s not about him owing me anything,” Kaz snarls, “it’s about ending a man’s career! Two hundred thousand dollars, to strip a man’s livelihood from him? And for the likes of you, no less?” Kaz shakes his head. “No, Bobby — you take that briefcase, and yourself, and get as far away from me as you can manage, ’cause I’ll be damned if I’ll take your blood-money… especially if it means ending the career of a decent human being for the benefit of an abusive prick!”
Roode looks stunned — then angry. “OK… but understand this: I have stroke around here; he doesn’t. Being his friend could prove… career-limiting.”
Kaz’s voice passes clenched teeth. “Don’t think you can threaten me, Bobby. You have enough problems with Eric — I doubt you can handle another front in your war. Now disappear, and take your silver with you.”
Roode turns to leave, then turns back. “I don’t ‘threaten’, Frankie — I promise,” he says, then exits frame.
TNA IMPACT!, 23 August 2007
It does not take long for Roode to make good on this particular promise. Mike Tenay announces the main event match for this episode will be Kaz vs. Roode.
But first, Eric Young must make his way past another Roode hireling — this time, Ron “The Truth” Killings.
Killings comes down to ringside with his accustomed swagger — seemingly oblivious to the fact that Young has not put in an appearance, nor has Young’s ring music been played. He seems more concerned with strutting and posturing, and completely fails to notice the blond-headed blur which sweeps out from the crowd, under the ring ropes, and up behind him with a vicious superkick to the knees, followed by another kick to the head. The bell has scarcely rung, and Killings is lying unconscious on the mat. The bell rings again moments later, signaling Young’s victory.
Young uses a foot to shove Killings onto the apron, then indicates to the crew that he wants a mike. One is provided, and Young turns to face the camera.
“A neat trick at Hard Justice, Bobby,” Young says, his tone giving the lie to the compliment, “but it’s a small locker room… word gets around. Now not only has another of your hired guns failed, but this one’s failure put him in the hospital.” He spares a glance to Killings, still lying on the apron. “And now he’ll have company.”
Young pauses; the audience responds with silence, stunned at this side of him coming to the fore.
Young continues, “Maybe it’s you, Bobby, who doesn’t understand what the game here is. So let me spell it out for you… and anyone foolish enough to take up your offer.” He smiles, but there is no humor in it. “You see, a while back, a well-known wrestler referred to folks like me as ‘vanilla midgets’.” He is interrupted by the audience’s roar of laughter and hooting; they know exactly who that “well-known wrestler” is… and who employs him at the moment.
“Yeah,” Young says. “And in my case, it’s a fair description. See, ‘vanilla’ isn’t just a flavoring; it’s a term used to describe something commonplace — something which can be found anywhere, in anything… and which matches up well with anything. That’s me — you’re weak against high-fliers, I’m coming at you from the top rope.” This gets an approving roar from the crowd. “You’re weak against submission artists, I have an arsenal of submission moves I can bring out.” Another approving roar. “You want to brawl, I’ll brawl. You name it; I know how to do it… and how to defend against it.”
He takes a breath. “As to ‘midget’ — well, there’s an old saying: ‘Where does the dwarf strike when fighting a giant?'” He pauses to let folks wonder, then continues. “The answer is: ‘Where he can’. And that’s what I do — I take opportunities presented to me… however few,” and is here interrupted by another crowd pop, with audible verbal pokes at TNA Management scattered throughout, “and if I can’t find an opportunity, I make one.” The crowd roars at this.
Young smiles humorlessly once more. “So that’s what you’re facing, Bobby — someone who can strike anytime, anywhere, with whatever weapon is best-suited to the battle. No matter who you find to send against me, I’ll beat him… until there’s no one left for you to hide behind. And then we’ll settle this, once and for all. And it will be ‘once and for all’, Bobby, because the only way this ends is with me out of wrestling altogether… or you losing the last of your toys. And we’ve already seen what kind of success you’ve had at getting rid of me… so that narrows down the options, doesn’t it?”
Young then slips out of the ring, hands off the mike to the ring announcer, and vanishes into the crowd to the cheers of the masses.
The main-event match between Kaz and Roode is, oddly, a mostly-clean affair, with Roode’s ring-savvy balanced by Kaz’s energy and enthusiasm. And Kaz is no fool — when he comes to the ring, he is accompanied by Gail Kim, as a counterweight to Ms. Brooks. But Kaz’s foresight proves unnecessary; as the match progresses, the more-astute viewers notice Ms. Brooks slowly, but surely, sidling away from the ring, until finally she turns and disappears behind the announcers’ area. Kim follows her, but not in a way suggesting hostility. Thus is Roode rudely surprised when he finds himself behind the power curve, reaches for his briefcase, and finds himself alone. One kneeling back-to-belly piledriver later, Kaz picks up the win, to cheers from the masses.
TNA IMPACT!, 30 August 2007
It’s almost an hour into the program before we see the next chapter in the Young-Roode War, and Roode has brought some heavy firepower… specifically, the Motor City Machine Guns. The camera shows Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin walking through the back area, both dressed for the ring.
Sabin is looking around nervously. “I don’t like it, Alex,” he says. “Bad enough taking money to end a man’s career; but doing it for the likes of Roode….”
Shelley is less concerned; his characteristic smirk is firmly emplaced. “You worry too much, Chris,” he replies. “All we have to do is put Eric on the shelf for a bit — long enough for Roode to get established with his friends. Then Eric comes back, he can’t touch Roode, and we’re both a hundred grand up. I mean, it isn’t as though he wants us to murder him.” He puts a little extra emphasis on “murder”, mainly to annoy the censors on Spike.
“But you saw what happened to Rhodes and Truth!”
“Yeah — ’cause they were stupid enough to come out alone. That’s what’s called a ‘fair fight’. WRONG! You know the saying: ‘Never give a psycho an even break’.”
“You mean ‘sucker’.”
Shelley grins. “Six of one, half-a-dozen of the other. Now let’s get out there and make some dough.”
The feed shifts to the main arena. Alone in the ring is referee Earl Hebner. The Machine Guns’ theme starts playing. Alex Shelley appears in the entrance to the tunnel, waving and grinning, and heads for the ring.
Chris Sabin is not present.
Shelley makes it as far as the ring steps before he turns and notices his partner’s consicuous absence. Thus he is facing entirely the wrong direction to see Eric Young appear from the crowd, folding chair in hand. A roundhouse right swing of the chair not only catches Shelley out, but shoves his skull into the ringpost, sending him crashing to the floor.
Yougn sweeps in, grabs Shelley, and all but hurls him into the ring. Following him in, Young does not hesitate before putting the boots into Shelley, dropping a few elbows onto various parts of Shelley’s anatomy, and even hauling him up only to apply an enzuigiri or STO. Shelley never stands a chance — after some five minutes, he has mustered no offense whatsoever. Young finally pauses in his attack, bobbing out of the ring just long enough to collect the folding chair. He unfolds the chair, grabs Shelley by the neck, hauls him to his feet — then climbs onto the chair, reaches down and hauls Shelley into the air, a forearm across Shelley’s windpipe. Shelley reaches up to grab Young’s arm, his feet kicking in the air; then, inexorably, his arms drop and his feet stop kicking. Hebner dashes over, quickly raising and letting Shelley’s arm fall three time, then calls for the bell.
Young does not immediately release Shelley.
Hebner sees this, and screams at Young loud enough to be heard over the crowd’s roar, “LET HIM GO, DAMN IT!” Young shoots Hebner a glance — then releases Shelley, who drops to the mat like a sack of manure. Young hops down from the chair, and turns to leave the ring, but Hebner steps in front of him, his expression a mix of anger and horror. “WHAT THE HELL, ERIC?” Hebner is heard to shout.
Young says nothing — he only glares at Hebner, before carefully stepping around him, and slipping away into the audience.
TNA IMPACT!, 6 September 2007
Following the second commercial break, Mike Tenay announces, “The following was filmed earlier today, as the wrestlers were arriving — take it away!”
The show cuts to a view of the back offices; the “RECORDED EARLIER” tag is visible in the corner. Eric Young is seen walking down the hall; his expression suggesting deep thoughts on the frailities of the human condition. He is interrupted in his progress by a door flying open; Jim Cornette steps into the hall, and he is clearly angry enough to “chew nails and spit carpet-tacks”, as folks from his part of the world phrase it. He blocks Young, and sticks a finger in his face.
“What in the ever-lovin’ HELL is wrong with you, Eric?” Cornette shouts.” I have three wrestlers out-of-commission because of you! You damned-near killed Shelley last week! Never mind ambushing Sabin! Folks are talkin’ about you in terms usually reserved for serial killers! I know Roode’s trying to get you off his trail, but if you wipe out the entire X Division, we don’t have a show!”
Cornette pauses to breathe, and Young takes the opportunity to deliver a derisive snort, followed by the crooked smile he’s known for. But there is no mirth in the smile, and no emotion in his voice when he speaks.
“You employ an abusive thug like Roode; you let him treat Ms. Brooks the way he does; you let him put a contract out on my career… and you have the GALL to ask what’s wrong with ME!?”
This last is delivered with such force, Cornette actually takes a step back, his expression stunned at Young’s vehemence.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me,” Young says calmly, “I have a match tonight… and a job to finish.” He steps around Cornette, and walks out-of-frame. Cornette turns to watch him go, then mutters “Damn it”, before returning to his office.
The match between Chris Sabin and Eric Young is not a squash-match as seen last week — in fact, it runs nearly ten minutes, and could be used as a textbook example of what TNA’s X Division is meant to be. Sabin matches a solid ground game of kicks and suplexes with his more-normal high-flying set, repeatedly climbing and walking the ropes to deliver his diving and springboard moves. But while he scores some hits, just as often Young isn’t there when Sabin arrives.
Finally, Sabin lays out Young with an enzuigiri, then climbs the rope for a diving attack. He launches — and Young raises a foot. Sabin’s jaw collects all of Young’s boot-sole; he staggers back into the turnbuckle. Young rises to his feet, measures Sabin, and deliver an enzuigiri of his own, dropping Sabin to the canvas. Sabin cannot avoid the follow-up diving elbow drop; Young scores the pin shortly thereafter.
As the crowd chants his name, Young looks toward the fixed camera, his face a mask. Then he very slowly, very calmly, leaves the ring, fading into the crowd.
TNA NO SURRENDER, 9 September 2007
“Damn it!” mutters Robert Roode as he stalks the back-halls of the Impact Zone, Ms. Brooks trailing him. “You couldn’t find anyone to take the offer? No one wants two hundred grand?”
“It’s not the money,” Ms. Brooks replies. “After what happened to your last few selections–“
Roode rounds on Brooks; she recoils. “Don’t give me that crap again!” Roode shouts. “He’s been lucky — that’s all. Just goes to show what kind of so-called ‘talent’ they hire around here; no wonder ratings are tanking! And Angle still isn’t returning my calls — not until I ‘deal with this problem’.”
“Well,” Brooks says meekly, “why don’t you take him on yourself?”
Roode snorts. “And risk my shot at main-eventer status, over some jobber who’s only selling point is his popularity with the fans? You see any Eric Young shirts out there? Any action figures? He’s a nobody — a sucking wound to the career of anyone who wrestles him! I can’t waste my time and talents on a nobody!”
Roode whirls around. “Now come on — it’s bad enough I have to face Kaz again, without having to worry about some peroxide-haired fruitloop coming after me with a chair. Try being at ringside this time — it’s what I pay you for, you dolt!”
The rematch between Roode and Kaz is long, and painful for both men. Ms. Brooks is conspicuous by her staying as near to the safety rail and she can manage. It does not matter — Roode may well be arrogant and thuggish, but he can still wrestle with the best of the X Division. And so he does — when Kaz misses a slingshot DDT, Roode is able to catch him and deliver a rolling cutter; the pin follows closely thereafter.
Roode does not have time to enjoy his victory — a familar figure appears in the entrance tunnel, backlit so his face is not immediately visible. The figure takes a step to one side, placing the entrance structure at his back, then raises a mike.
“Good match, Bobby,” says Eric Young. “Nice to see you can actually win a match on your own.” A derisive chuckle sounds. “And speaking of ‘being on your own’: I noticed you didn’t find me a dance-partner for tonight.” The crowd roars and shouts denigrating remarks at Roode. “Is it my imagination, Bobby, or is your wall of ablative meat getting shaved ever-thinner by the day?” This elicits a rousing roar from the crowd, and a visible cold-chill twitch from Roode.
Young waits for the crowd to settle, then says, “Understand this, Bobby: It’s not worth two hundred grand to end someone’s career… nor is it worth that much to have one’s own career ended! See you around.” With that, he turns and walks back down the entrance tunnel.
Roode watches him go, his expression that of someone who sees his doom approaching….
To be continued …