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Thread: Inactive Talent

  1. #1381
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    Re: "Gingy" Eastwood

    Interesting character, looking forward to seeing more.


    Saddle Sally 3x FWA Womens Champion
    2013 & 2014 FWA Women Wrestler of the Year

    The Semi-Published Works of iMatt

    "An Affair of the Youth" feature film production journalElsa, The Great (Frozen fanfic)

    Walt County

  2. #1382
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    Jhunha





    Character name:
    Jhunha (yoon-ha)
    Full Name: Jhunha Darunbeke
    From: Tamsabugal, Mongolia
    Height: 6'10
    Weight: 268
    Age: 29
    Face/heel/tweener: Heel
    Current feuds: n/a
    Non-FWA accomplishments: All-Army Combat Sambo Champion (Mongolia), Eurasia Combat Sambo Champion (2012)
    FWA accomplishments: n/a
    FWA win-loss record, if you wish to keep one:
    Style of wrestling (brawler, high flyer, technical, etc.): Brawler, Power Locks
    Base picture: Taishan Dong
    Entrance Music: Yonosuke Kitamura - Trickster



    A minimum of five perfected moves your character does in a match (CAPS indicate high impact signature spots):

    Power Moves/Strikes:



    • Big Boot
    • JUTEI (Knee Trembler)
    • Palm thrusts (to chest/throat)
    • Machine-gun chops
    • multiple German Suplex variations
    • multiple Belly-to-Belly Suplex variations
    • Northern Lights Suplex
    • Gutwrench Fallaway Slam
    • STROIKA 1 (Full Nelson Side Slam)
    • STROIKA 2 (Full Nelson Backbreaker)
    • SPIRAL (Sitout Choke-bomb)
    • Gorilla Press
    • Jumping Knee Strike
    • Saito Suplex
    • PENANCE (Garvin Stomps)
    • Hiptoss Slam
    • Wristlock into Judo Throw


    Running or Charging Moves/Counters:


    • Counter Uppercut
    • Shoulder Tackle
    • HEARTSTOP SHOT (Running low-angle Shoulder Block)
    • LOCK-ON (Spear into corner)
    • APEX HORIZON (Running corner Slingshot Splash aka Swagger Bomb)
    • Sambo Roll (counter)
    • Reversal into Urunage
    • N.J.N (Reversal/mid-air catch into Regal-plex)


    Submissions:


    • Camel Clutch
    • Ankle Lock/Kneebar combo
    • Armbar
    • TOUCH-OUT (wristlock counter into rolling armbar)
    • Bulldog Choke
    • S.X.T (Crossface/Bulldog Choke Combo)


    Flying:


    • DAGGER (Elbow Drop)
    • Second-rope Senton


    A minimum of one finishing move, and a maximum of three:

    1. ICARUS FELL (Throwing Crucifix Powerbomb aka Bad Luck Fall/Border Toss)
    2. HEAVEN PUNISHER (Western Lariat, either in front or from behind)
    3. VAULT BREAK (Kimura/Sambo roll into Kimura)



    _________________________________________________________





    199? - Tamsabugal, Mongolia

    Two children lay in the field amongst a grazing herd of cattle. Both of them are bundled up in well-worn yet thick fur coats.

    It is night. The stars are out in force, dotting and sparkling in the black Mongolian sky.

    The bigger child, a female, holds her little male companion in one arm, hugging him close to make sure he is warm. With one hand, she holds him to her. With the other, she points up at the stars in the sky.

    Girl: "So that one over there is Ursa Minor, then if you look to the right... um, lemme see...ah! There it is! Can you see it, Jhunha? Thats Cassiopeia! The one that looks like a number three!"

    The little boy stares wide-eyed at the glowing constellations as the girl traces them with her finger in the sky.

    Jhunha: "Wowwww...."

    The girl smiles and hugs the boy. Off to the side, the resting cattle snort and idle around.

    "Not all of those are stars though... some of them are satellites, machines that other countries have sent up to space! They are very useful, they do all sorts of things up there, flashing and sending stuff down to the scientists here. I don't think Mongolia has any, but China and Japan have a lot..."

    "Big sister, you are so smart! I... I wish I could go to school to and be smart like you!! You know, mother was so happy when you brought that best in class certificate back home! She said, she said, 'Khulan is smart enough to be a doctor or a nurse, or a scientist, anything!'"

    Khulan smiles down at her younger brother.

    Khulan: "I'm not thaaat smart, haha... I wish I could be a doctor though. That's my dream, Jhunha, to save up enough money so that I can go to medical school, then we can rent a house in the city! We can all live together in the city, me, you, mother, everyone!"

    "You can do it!! I know you can! You're the smartest person I know. I... I want to be smart too, big sister, but mother says I shouldn't go to school... she says I need to stay and learn how to raise the cattle with Uncle..."

    "Jhunha, once you're old enough, you will go to school too and grow up to be even smarter than me! I'll save money up so that you don't have to watch the cattle if you don't want to, okay? Don't be sad, I promise!!"


    Khulan draws Jhunha closer and nuzzles him a little.

    "You're so sweet and kind. Never change, okay?"

    The two children acidentally yet gently bump their heads against each other. They giggle and continue watching the streaking and sparkling stars in the sky.


    ____________________________________________________________________


    200? - Tamsabugal, Mongolia


    "THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!"

    Inside a dusty and patched-up house, a teenage Jhunha, already large and muscular, springs up from his chair, dropping a paper he had just been reading on the floor. His face is twisted in barely-contained rage. Off to the side of the sparse main room, empty except for a few items of wooden furniture and a stone furnace, a silent and ashen-faced Khulan stands by the doorway.


    "Mother, you cannot seriously approve of this!! This is insane!!!"


    Seated at the table by herself, Jhunha and Khulan's mother stares back at Jhunha sternly.

    Mother: "The decision has already been made. The groom is willing to pay almost five times a normal rate to wed Khulan. Khulan has been blessed by the Blue Sky with beauty that men find irresistable. It's whats best for us, and its what's best for you, too."

    Mother looks at Khulan.

    "Taiwan is a good place, a modern place. You will be marrying into a rich family. Your life will be much better there."

    Khulan struggles to answer through slightly quivering lips.


    "........ yes, mother."


    Jhunha, however, runs right up to his mother.

    "How can you even say that with a straight face??? Khulan is not some cattle, she is not some piece of meat that can be bought or sold like this!! Khulan is smart, every teacher she has known has praised her, she already is a registered nurse!! She belongs here, with us!!! Not as the toy of some rich Chinese!!"

    Jhunha turns desperately towards Khulan.

    "Surely you cannot be okay with this????"

    "............I........"


    Mother snaps at Jhunha, clearly losing patience with her son.

    "Jhunha, cease your selfish and childish prattle!! The harvest has been poor the past few years, and our income, our cattle have suffered. We barely have enough stock to sustain through the rest of the year, why do you want Khulan to suffer here with us?? The spirits smile upon Khulan with this good fortune and eligable groom!! This is her chance, her best chance to leave and go earn money overseas!! This matter is settled, so shut up and go back to the herd!!"


    But Jhunha can't shut up. He cannot accept this.

    "Is this because she is not of your blood, mother???? Is that the reason why its so easy to cast her away???"

    *woosh*

    Mother lands a huge stinging slap onto Jhunha's face. Khulan bursts into tears and restrains mother before she can keep hitting Jhunha.

    Jhunha, his face pulsing, turns his face back to mother in fury.

    But mother is crying too now.


    "DO YOU THINK I AM TAKING THIS LIGHTLY?? DO YOU THINK I WOULD SEND MY DAUGHTER AWAY IF THERE WAS ANOTHER CHOICE??? I have raised Khulan as my own since the year she was born, how dare you say something so vile!!! You tend to the herd, haven't you seen with your own stupid eyes that we are on the verge of starvation???"


    "Mother, please stop.... enough..."


    "No, Khulan!!! This stupid, useless brat, tall as a tree yet dumb as a stump!!! Look at how big and strong he's grown!! If he wanted to help out the family, he should be trying to join the army so we can have some more wages coming in instead of trying to ruin your opportunity to leave this place! This is poor country, and we are a poor family in a poor country, you stupid boy!!! Why do you want your sister to suffer here?? Why can't you be happy for her???"

    Khulan forcibly interjects.

    "Please, mother, just stop... I'll go... I'll be happy to go... please don't make Jhunha join the army... Jhunha isn't a rough man, he's my sweet and kind brother who wouldn't hurt a fly... so please, promise me you won't force him to leave. I'll go, I'll send money back home, I'll work hard and be a good wife, I promise..."

    Mother hugs Khulan, both women in tears.

    "I... I'm sorry it turned out this way Khulan. But the Eternal Blue Sky smiles upon you, I am so grateful. You'll have a life that all of us can only envy in Taiwan. You will have so much money, you and your children will have plenty to eat..."

    Jhunha has heard enough and storms out of the room. Khulan reaches out to him, but cannot bring herself to leave her mother alone like this.

    Jhunha exits the shoddy house and onto the brown grass of the Mongolian steppe. His walk slowly turns into a jog. Then the jog turns into a run.

    He runs out past the herd of cattle. He runs even further, over to the edge of a hill, ooverlooking the rocky and grassy valleys of the Mongolian steppe lands, backed by a cavernous, cloud-spotted light blue sky. For Jhunha, it might as well have been the edge of the universe, the edge of the only world he has ever known.

    Breathless, he falls to his knees, his hands clawing at the brown grass and dirt. He looks out but can see nothing. His eyes are blinded with rage.

    Its 200?.... men are shooting satellites into the sky, yet we're still stuck here praying to the FUCKING ETERNAL BLUE SKY??????

    This can't... I can't... this can't be my fate!!! This can't be OUR fate! I won't stay here and let us be playthings for the rich and powerful!!

    Money... power... I need money!!! I need power!!! I need it!! How do I get it???

    I need the power to change our fate!!!

    MONEY!!! POWER!!!
    I need it, give it to me!! I'll do anything to get it!!

    His hands ball into fists in the dirt.

    I'LL DO ANYTHING!!!!


    Jhunha lets out a desperate, piercing roar. His cry echos through the steppe, carrying with the slight wind up into the vast light blue sky.

    Nobody hears him.
    Last edited by KAIZEN; 10-20-2016 at 03:31 PM.

  3. #1383
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    Re: Jhunha

    oh no

    big ass Mongolians coming to ruin the FWA


    ~
    ~ THE KING OF KINGS ~~
    Spoiler:






  4. #1384

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    Re: Jhunha

    Chris Kennedy via Twitter:

    If it's money and power you want, I'm currently hiring for an enforcer. Stick with me and every thing will be peaches and cream.

  5. #1385
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    Taboo Tuesday THE BEDLAM - PASSION ‽fruit‽ LETTUCE


    Character name: PASSION (Birth Name: Stacy Addison Hayden Morgan)


    Height: Refused to submit information


    Weight: Refused to submit information


    Age: Refused to submit information


    Face/heel/tweener: HEEL


    Current feuds: N/A


    Non-FWA accomplishments: Won the 2013 Non-Binary Visibility Award at the Gender Identity Gala in NYC.


    FWA accomplishments: FWA X-Champion (1-time)


    FWA win-loss record, if you wish to keep one:
    Couldn't care less.


    Style of wrestling (brawler, high flyer, technical, etc.): Allrounder. It specializes in transitioning from cowardly/weak mind games to EXTREMELY VIOLENT.


    A minimum of five perfected moves your character does in a match (this cannot be a finishing move, like a powerbomb or a chokeslam):
    Lou Thesz Press into series of violent headbutts to opponent's skull
    Multiple stomps to seated opponent in corner
    DDT
    Sidewalk slam
    Sunset flip powerbomb
    Springboard back elbow
    Back breaker
    Two handed Bulldog
    Cannonball to cornered opponent or off ring apron
    Missile dropkick
    Twisting diving crossbody
    Belly to back suplex
    Swinging neckbreaker
    Snap scoop powerslam
    Leg lariat
    Full nelson bomb


    Mind Games:
    "Passion Powder" - Blows an irritating dust into the opponent's eyes behind the referee's back
    "Passion Punch" - PASSION pretends to have a seizure then when the opponent doesn't expect it, punches them in the face
    "Passion Play" - PASSION pretends to spasm and foam at the mouth, when the referee checks on it, it coughs the foam into the referee's face - blinding him for a while so PASSION can cheat


    A minimum of one finishing move, and a maximum of three:
    The Sissy Kick - Superkick with butterfly flailing arms (mockery of Chris Kennedy's finisher)
    Closet Case - Headscissors Crucifix Choke
    Gender Disorientation - Lifting tilt-a-whirl inverted DDT


    Base pic for your character:










    (Jared Leto)


    Theme music:
    "Toxicity" - System of a Down


    Introduction promo of at least 10 lines introducing your character to us:
    PASSION: Thought I was dead? Wrong. Thought the last few minutes of entertainment was a complete waste of time? Wrong. I can understand why, to you people, why a genderfluid person going on a tirade about gender then a big, strong man turning into a drag queen might be a waste of time. But you see, to me, that is my entertainment. This world is so full of dull things. These two, Fruit and Hedda Lettuce, are my playthings. They entertain me.
    )(
    See, that's why I departed the FWA and focused on a little entity known as nGw. FWA was boring. Every little thing was calculated, quantified, and reasoned. I hate reason. That's why I went to the land of no reason - nGw. That branch of the FWA is total insanity. It distracted me from the bleak existence that is life. So why am I here now? Why did I leave nGw? Because even that company, there is still a modicum of rhyme and reason.
    <>
    Before I get into why I'm here now, I think it's time that the world know my manifesto. THE PASSION MANIFESTO. First - FWA is a boring place. Second - Anyone who adheres to this manifesto will always make the FWA entertaining, by any means necessary. Third - "Entertaining" means whatever PASSION finds entertaining. Fourth - PASSION is entertained by anything that isn't normal. Fifth - Normality must be destroyed. Sixth - I hate boredom.
    ][
    I HATE IT. I HATE IT. I HATE IT. Why is this god-forsaken world so boring!? And you people accept THIS as entertainment!? Oiled up people wrestling!? No... NO. This company deserves better. The world deserves better. I DESERVE BETTER. You all bore me to death! FWA's addiction to the mundane is what brought me back here tonight. The genius who runs nGw teams me with the most mundane man on the planet and then puts me in a tag team title match at Back In Business?! SO BORING!
    -+-
    Well, it's time for this entertainment company to finally entertain me. Even if I have to do it myself. There is a mountain of normal people festering in this company, more than I have ever seen in my life. It's putrid. It makes me want to stick my fist down my throat and throw up until my guts come out - that sounds like a fun idea for later - but right now, I am making sure the world knows that PASSION back on the main roster and it is time for my passion to become your reality. Welcome to The Bedlam.


    MEMBERS OF THE BEDLAM:
    Name: ‽oralternativelyknownasfruit.

    Style of Wrestling: Cowardly/Cheap/Eva Marie/Jenna Morasca

    Moves:
    Arm wringer
    Schoolgirl
    Shoulder block
    Seated surfboard
    Low blow
    Tilt-a-whirl headscissors
    Slap
    Diving crossbody
    One-Handed bulldog
    Stink face

    Finishing Moves:
    The Fruit Cup - Sliding Reverse STO
    The Fruit Bar - Arm Bar

    Base pic:

    (Verka Serduchka)
    ____________________________

    Name: Hedda Lettuce


    Style of Wrestling: Strong man/Powerhouse/The Great Khali

    Moves:
    Big boot
    Chokeslam
    Clothesline
    Military press drop
    Chop to opponent's butt
    Scoop slam
    Bearhug
    Sidewalk slam
    Vertical suplex
    Backbreaker

    Finisher:
    Lettuce Commence - Powerbomb
    Lettuce Roll - Octopus Hold

    Base pic:

    (Hedda Lettuce - CURRENT FORM)


    (Terry Crews - FORMER FORM AS STAFF SGT. TRIPLE M)
    Last edited by Roman Reigns Fan; 08-03-2016 at 01:07 AM.

  6. #1386
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    KAIZEN's Avatar

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    Re: THE BEDLAM - PASSION ‽fruit‽ LETTUCE


  7. #1387
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    Re: Jhunha

    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggy View Post
    Chris Kennedy via Twitter:

    If it's money and power you want, I'm currently hiring for an enforcer. Stick with me and every thing will be peaches and cream.

  8. #1388
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    Re: THE BEDLAM - PASSION ‽fruit‽ LETTUCE

    ^ Damn straight.

  9. #1389
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    Re: THE BEDLAM - PASSION ‽fruit‽ LETTUCE

    never in my life did I think Verka Serduchka would be a goddamn base pic.


    ~
    ~ THE KING OF KINGS ~~
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  10. #1390
     
    Sully's Avatar

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    Re: Jhunha

    Quote Originally Posted by Shake View Post
    oh no

    big ass Mongolians coming to ruin the FWA

  11. #1391
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    Re: THE BEDLAM - PASSION ‽fruit‽ LETTUCE

    Quote Originally Posted by Shake View Post
    never in my life did I think Verka Serduchka would be a goddamn base pic.
    How do you even know him/her?

  12. #1392
    I'm a Stone Cold Lee Guy.
    An Original Name's Avatar

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    Re: THE BEDLAM - PASSION ‽fruit‽ LETTUCE

    If you saw him/her at Eurovision in 07 it'll be VERY hard to forget.

    The most amazing thing about this recent conversation is that I've learned AON is even more of a waste of space than I thought he was previously

  13. #1393
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    Re: THE BEDLAM - PASSION ‽fruit‽ LETTUCE

    I saw him at Eurovision, I just didn't think that Shake was the type of person who kept up with that kind of stuff.

  14. #1394
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    Re: THE BEDLAM - PASSION ‽fruit‽ LETTUCE

    Family would have Eurovision nights as I grew up so I just got used to watching it and enjoying the stupidity of it. Dancing Lasha Tumbai was pretty hilarious. Didn't even know it was a dude.


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  15. #1395

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    FWA superstar fired after drug filed assault

    Chris Kennedy's former body guard and FWA TV Champion Joey "Bones" Ortiz has been released from the company just days after being called back up to the main roster.

    Police responded to an altercation at The Radisson hotel at 3am last night where Joey Ortiz had assaulted the hotel's bartender in an undisclosed dispute. Police found Cocain and an unregistered pistol on Ortiz. It's said that his longtime friend Juan Lopez posted his bail and shortly after, Ashley O'Ryan called to inform him his services weren't needed.

    Ortiz was Kennedy's "goon" who helped Kennedy secure his first world title. After that, he formed the popular tag team "The Cuban Connection" with X-Champ Juan Lopez. Ortiz captured the TV title before forming True Destiny with Desmond Fox, finding sucess in the nGw tag division.

    After 2+ years in nGw, Ortiz was pulled back up to the Fight Night roster just to be released days later.

    OOC: Rethinking the direction I'm taking Kennedy in, and had second thoughts about rereading old water. Not to mention I hated my promo last week and would rather chuck that development in the trash.

  16. #1396
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    Re: FWA superstar fired after drug filed assault

    LOL that story was hilarious. I love reading firing stories like this.

  17. #1397
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    Re: Wally Tusket

    Updated with my first and second ever title reigns!!!!!!! Oh yeah :D

  18. #1398
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    Re: Anzu Kurosawa

    I.

    "The Ballad of Livi Herald"
    (MARCH 2016 - JULY 2016)
    A.K./01 - "The Handlers."
    vs. Dinorah Redgrave, Taylor Toxic, Shannon O'Neal, and Saddle Sally (FWA "Winter Wasteland" 2016) [L - 2nd place]
    Spoiler:

    Two male faces, drowned in age, and a woman of manufactured youth stared at her through the gloom. A reading lamp shone dimly over a disused desk in the corner of the room, and a thin shard of light crept in through a small, square window, but otherwise a thick darkness had taken up residence. Dust floated listlessly in the beam of sunlight. Books and binders lined the walls. The one picture on the wall – three women holding their babies beneath the surface of a fountain – was ripped from corner to corner, its lower half draping impotently. This place was a shithole. This place had always been a shithole.

    “You were… displeased with the video package?” the old, Japanese man (that is Tatsuo) asked through a furrowed brow. “We put a bit of money into it. We didn’t think you would even watch it.”

    The young, Japenese woman (that is Anzu, the hero of this tale) tapped the side of her glass with idle digits. When she lifted it to her mouth, she could see the dust that had clung onto the bottom as it rested on the table.

    “It was… bizarre,” she answered, staring at the heavy bags beneath Tatsuo’s eyes. He’d looked like that as long as she could remember. “The voiceover at the beginning… ’The river flows until it is damned, the path is long until it is trodden, the mountain daunts until it is climbed’. What is this? This is not me.”

    There were a few moments of silence, during which Anzu scratched the side of her head nervously. The Chinese woman (that is Hua) stared at her silently, a cigarette held been a pair of limp fingers.

    “It may not have been you, but it is the brand that we have chosen for you,” the old American (that is Ethan) said, leaning forward and placing his elbows on the table. “We have spoken about this at length. We are not re-creating your character, only amplifying certain elements of it that are backed by our market research. The audience enjoys mystique… atmosphere. The current market leaders are exploiting it already and will continue to do so, even if you don’t.”

    Tatsuo stared up at the window. Ethan stared down at the newspaper in front of him. The Chinese woman stared only at Anzu.

    “I don’t know why I can’t just speak to an interviewer,” the wrestler said, staring at a ladder in her tights. “Katie Lynn Goldsmith seems pleasant enough.”

    “You will have a chance before the match,” Tatsuo began. “But we were quite clear of our intentions for you when we were approached with your offer. I hope you still remember our arrangement, Miss Kurosawa?”

    The Chinese woman stubbed out her cigarette, taking out the small, white box and lighting another. The American man glanced up from his newspaper, regarding her through his bushy, greying eyebrows. The Japanese man rotated a loose, gold ring around the index finger of his right hand.

    “I remember our arrangement.”

    ***

    As she stood in the corridor of the arena, her match still thirty-six hours in the future, she could feel it beginning to build. Her stomach had doubled in weight and proceeded to sink. Her limbs felt heavy and her head swam with anticipation. Sounds were amplified. The edges of her vision seemed to blur.

    It had been like this before, every time she fought somewhere new or unfamiliar. She’d vomited in the toilets of some Munich gymnasium on her first tour west of China in 2004 before wrestling to a forty-second minute stoppage. In Bogota, she fended off a locker room panic attack an hour before her 2009 Colombian debut, emerging victorious thanks to a sequence of six piledrivers thirty-eight minutes into the match. She had felt the pressure before, a prelude to the shocked yelps of the crowd as the depths of her depravity roared through their simple minds.

    In Ottowa, in 2016, she stood next to Katie Lynn Goldsmith and some nameless cameraman. Tatsuo waited three metres down the hall, reading through neatly regimented notes in his pad. He regarded Katie with mistrust.

    Ladies and gentlemen,” Katie said, breaking the heavy silence of the corridor. “I’m joined at this time by FWA debutant, Anzu Kurosawa, who has a huge opportunity in her very first match later on this week at Winter Wasteland. But, before we get to that, the FWA Universe has been dying to know what to expect from the promotion’s latest acquisition?

    Anzu stared at Tatsuo once more, who was regarding her carefully. His pencil hovered over the pad. The cameraman stared at her with a gormless look on his face, a bored anticipation in his eyes. This was hardly the glitz and glamour that she had expected. The American Dream, and all that.

    Anybody that wants to know what to expect from me can find out for themselves,” she answered, not unkindly, almost meekly. “The internet is rife with my triumphs and, of course, a few failures as well. I have wrestled and I have won on six continents, in more than forty countries, but it has been many years since I have ventured this far north. Those that remember me - that saw me when I came to this nation the first time - will be old or dead or no longer interested. This week, at Winter Wasteland, I will introduce myself properly. My boots make a better first impression than my mouth.

    Okay,” Katie replied, after it had become clear that Anzu was done with that particular line of questioning. “Then, how about your opponents? At the pay-per-view, you face four established names in women’s wrestling, and three former world champions of that division, for a chance to face the winner of Bell Connelly and Ayla El for Connelly’s championship. What have your preparations taught you about your opponents? Are there any that are particularly dangerous?

    Well, first and foremost has to be Shannon O’Neal,” Anzu began, intermittently glancing between Katie and the lens of the camera. “A two-time FWA Women’s Champion, so she’s been there before and is worthy of some respect. But that was six months ago and over within a blink of an eye. A lot has happened in FWA since then. Now, Bell Connelly runs from the pack, five wolves beginning the hunt. And Shannon has been floundering, I’d argue; dragged through a tag match last week by the world champion… forfeiting her Number One Contendership match at Trial By Fire for personal reasons… To find Shannon O’Neal being as great as she can be we have to go back to the start of November, and Mile High. The new year is already growing old.

    She paused momentarily to look over at Tatsuo. He was watching her keenly, a pencil in his hand positioned close to his notepad’s surface. She felt uneasy beneath his unblinking gaze, and forced herself to look away.

    Of course, there’s also Taylor Toxic. An able competitor, but weakened by her affiliations. Her little friend, Raquel, is a hothead and a dramatist. She, and Taylor by association, allowed herself to be riled by the Valkyrie’s cheap tactics, like a snake at the zoo when the glass is tapped. And Sally. What could I say that Sally hasn’t already said herself? A former three-time FWA Women’s Champion, but not since late 2014. And after then?”

    Anzu allowed a devious smile escape from her grim countenance, pausing to allow the listeners to answer her question themselves.

    Every time she’s on my screen it’s another ten-minute rant with one key argument; Saddle Sally is the best around. Saddle Sally is going to embarrass her opponents. Most ironically, Saddle Sally lets her actions speak for themselves, which would be more believable if the claim wasn’t sandwiched between yet another lengthy diatribe and yet another crushing defeat. It gets a little repetitive, don’t you think? The people give Sally no respect and that’s more than she deserves.

    And then there’s Ms Redgrave,” Anzu continued, quite openly grinning to herself as if the very concept of Dinorah was amusing. “A woman who certainly talks a good game. The microphone sizzles amidst a flurry of witticisms and curses, as she flits endlessly between cutting, foul-mouthed insults and Yeats recitals. But then, she gets into the ring. And what does she do? She smashes apart piñatas, or maims some green girl in her debut match, or bullies a trio of blonde-haired botch machines and hands them one-way Greyhound tickets to Roswell. Maybe she was something years ago, when the gold graced her waist and the crowd cheered her name. But now? She is tired, sustained only be the memory of a woman who no longer exists.

    Tatuso scratched something onto his notepad with a pencil, nodding silently, face stern and gaze intent. Katie did nothing but hold the microphone out in front of her, resembling a limp appendage.

    ’The Valkyrie of Carnage’, she calls herself. With not even a hint of irony, ladies and gentlemen. And, as holes form in her game and empty threats fall out of her mouth, the world rejoices in waiting for her to realise a simple fact: the only thing that this Valkyrie has left in carnage is the tattered remains of her reputation. When I’m finished with Ms Redgrave… when my boots have sung against her body… when she is carried up the ramp and the battle rages on behind her… this is when Dinorah will begin to wonder why these piñatas hit back.

    She allowed herself one final pause, mostly in an effort to compose herself. She was emitting something resembling disdain for Redgrave. The others, she could see herself respecting, given time. Shannon O’Neal, Taylor Toxic, Saddle Sally…. They all had some defining features that weren’t without credit. But Redgrave was different. Some bleach blonde princess who claimed carnage as her domain. Anzu pictured the two of them, surrounded by steel cages or barbed wire or both, and she was giddy with the idea.

    At Winter Wasteland, all talking will end,” she began once more, ignoring Katie and Tatsuo and focusing only on the camera. “And then, as Sally says, the action will speak for itself. Those of you that have heard of me will know what I am about. Those that do not will find out soon enough. I would hope that these four women have done their research, and that they know what is coming for them in Ottawa. Only one wolf can get the kill, and when she does the others will fight for scraps.

    Afterwards, in Tatsuo’s Nissan GTR, the handler remained silent for most of the journey back to the gym and the second training session of the day. Eventually, he opened the window and lit a cigarette, turning the radio down as they turned onto a wide, busy road.

    “That was good,” he said, without looking at her. “You did well.”

    “You believe what I said?” she answered, momentarily and unexpectedly seeking validation. “You think I’ll win?”

    “Oh, no, of course not,” he answered, rather flippantly. “These matches… five people… Too many variables. It’s more reasonable to wait until they’re fed to you one at a time. That’s a situation that you can control.”

    She stared into the rear view mirror and watched the lights of a diner disappear behind them. She understood what he was saying but had never appreciated Tatsuo’s tone. He could be as blithe as Ethan, when he wanted to be.

    “So you think this match is a waste of time?” she asked. “And the interview, too.”

    “Not entirely, no,” he said, flicking his cigarette away and shutting the window. “We’ll cut out the American woman and put the monologue over footage of a pack of wolves. We’ll post it on your website. It’ll be good for your brand.”

    After this he said nothing, and turned the volume of the radio back up. It was an American song that she didn’t know. Anzu stared ahead at the tarmac disappearing beneath the car’s tires. Upon a grassy bank to the right of the road, a sign read ‘NO EXIT HERE’.

    A.K./02 - "Carnage."
    vs. Dinorah Redgrave (FWA "Carnal Contendership" 2016) [L]
    Spoiler:

    Hua and Tatsuo sat on opposite sides of the table, eyes pointed downwards, concentration focussed but not on each other. Hua, the Chinese woman, was watching an FWA.com video clip, the volume low but audible. It was the 5-way match from Winter Wasteland, just about reaching its climactic throws, with Toxic eliminated and our beloved hero left alone in the ring with the Valkyrie of Carnage. She would have to get used to that. Tatsuo was reading a magazine article about Carnal Contendership. These were two thirds of her handlers, the people who both watched out for her and just plain watched her, for better or for worse. She had no idea where Ethan was, as was often the case.

    Hua finished her cigarette and stubbed it out in front of her, proceeding to reach into the box for re-enforcement. She lit it and offered the package across to Tatsuo, who politely declined. He closed his magazine and turned to face Anzu.

    “You did well last night,” he said, not even a hint of pride or happiness on his dour countenance.

    “I lost,” Anzu replied, as if he didn’t know. Tatsuo turned down the edges of his mouth and nodded slowly, as if he was about to say well, yes, but…

    “Well, yes, but,” he started. “You did what you said you were going to do, what we asked you to do. The people of America know who Anzu Kurosawa is now, thanks to your work in the ring and our work in the editing room. They know that you mean business.”

    Anzu didn’t say anything. She wasn’t really buying it.

    “Next is the Carnal Contendership super-card,” he went on, Hua silently sucking at the filter of her cigarette and watching Dinorah pin Anzu. “But we’re not going to enter you into the battle royal. It wouldn’t make sense to put you into two mutli-person matches in a week. The probability of victory is low and we feel it would just drain your momentum.”

    “Then who do I have?” the wrestler asked. The Chinese woman stubbed out her cigarette again. Her box was empty, so she reached into the pocket of her suit jacket and proceeded to open up a new packet. Afterwards, she pushed the tablet away from her and into position in front of Anzu. Dinorah Redgrave was celebrating her victory and her newly-won number one contendership. Hua tapped the screen three times with a dark red fingernail.

    “We feel this would be more beneficial to your standing here,” Tatsuo went on, staring at his client carefully. “She’s a former Women’s champion, albeit about five years ago. Dinorah is one of the top players in this division. If you can beat her, it puts your name on everyone’s lips.”

    “If I can beat her?” Anzu repeated. As soon as she said it, she realised what she was doing. It was the second time in as many weeks that she’d been seeking Tatsuo’s approval. His confidence. It wasn’t a trait she liked in herself. “You don’t think I can?”

    He smiled to himself, almost chuckling at the question. That was not normal for Tatsuo.

    “Oh, I know that you can beat her,” he answered, standing from his chair and beginning to move towards the exit. “But she will need to be shown the true meaning of carnage.”
    A few minutes later, Anzu found herself outside with the Japanese man, the de-briefing concluded and the door of his Nissan GTR opened for her. She climbed in, the luxurious, tan leather interior feeling alien and immoral against her skin.

    “You have the night off,” he said as they pulled out of the driveway of the small building that contained their office. The engine of the vehicle was almost silent, the American radio station beginning to emanate from the car’s speaker system.

    “No training session? No interview?” she asked. The concept of a night off was as alien as the Nissan’s luxury.

    “Not tonight. We train tomorrow at one, after briefing at twelve. You won’t be doing an interview this week, we’re going to the editing studio tonight to release a promotional package. It’ll be on FWA.com,” he answered, turning a corner and beginning the route back to the wrestler’s apartment. “You need to rest up for the week. You’ll be training a lot. Get yourself an early night and a lean meal. Chicken or something else white.”

    Something else white, she thought to herself. She took out her phone and sent three identical messages to three different people; ’Night off, meet in Charlie’s Bar in two hours? Bring cocaine (or equivalent).’

    Thirteen and a half hours later, Anzu stumbled over a bottle of champagne that had been discarded next to her desk. She let it roll towards the sofa, remembering that – like the other three on the window sill – it was empty. She took a seat and opened the screen of her laptop, typing in FWA.com and waiting for it to load.

    Her apartment reminded her a little of a warzone. Rolling papers and tobacco were strewn across the coffee table, occupying its surface alongside a few credit cards, ash trays, and glasses in various stages of emptiness. Hugo and Anabelle lay in the bedroom, the door propped open and the covers only half-obscuring them. From the desk, Anzu could see the left half of Ana’s peach-like backside peeking from underneath them, Hugo’s arm cast haphazardly over her hips. Toshiro sat on the sofa, a half-smoked blunt discarded on an ash tray in front of him. She wondered to herself where she might sleep, but – with the chemicals still roaring through her body – she didn’t much feel like rest anyway.

    She clicked the banner link that read ‘A.K. vs DINORAH – NEW FOOTAGE RELEASED’ and picked up the plate and card that lay next to the keyboard. She began to prepare the rest of the powder into a neat little slug, picking up the discarded note and surveying the image of Andrew Jackson before rolling it into a tight cylinder.

    The video had begun to play in front of her, and it was almost exactly what she expected. Clips of the five-way match had been interspersed with clips from earlier in her career. Edited in were seemingly unrelated images, like a pride of lions ripping apart a gazelle, a wide shot of the earth suspended in animation, a mountain standing dominant and lonely on the horizon. The voiceover explained the relevance of these things, their metaphorical value, but she just watched aghast. This was everything she hated about the industry, and her name was plastered all over it.

    As the video reached its climax, footage from the October revolution (or, rather, the Eisenstein film about it) playing in front of her. As the reds stormed the square, the voiceover simply said ‘the true meaning of carnage’ three times, slower on each repetition.

    Confounded and a little ashamed, Anzu hoovered up the last of the cocaine and stared at the clock. It was eleven already. She put on her coat and started the long, unnecessary walk to meet her handlers.

    A.K./03 - "The Bull and its Horns."
    vs. Bell Connelly (Fight Night, 8th April 2016) [W]
    Spoiler:

    She could still feel the impact of the steel as the chair was propelled against her skull for the fifth time. She could still taste the blood as it dripped down her face, obscuring her vision and forming circular blotches on the mat below her. She could still hear the gasps of the crowd as she sank down to one knee, the chair being lifted high into the air once more. When it was brought down upon her again, she felt the hard steel fold around her head, an Anzu-shaped dent forming in the weapon as it was dropped.

    There were eight of them in the ring in total, amassed into a mound at the foot of a twenty foot ladder. Above it, the LAW Women’s Championship hung proudly, full of promise and just out of reach. She’d brought the chairs into the ring herself, throwing her opponent into them twice earlier in the match, first with a t-bone suplex and then a tornado DDT. The bitch had kept coming at her, to her credit, and now she was giving Anzu a taste of the steel herself.

    It was 2009, only ten years into her career, but these sorts of matches had become her raison d'être already. This was the first and only appearance she’d make for Latin American Wrestling, and the Estadio de Beisbol Calimax was hotter for this match than the three occasions she’d wrestled there previously combined. It wasn’t usual to be handed a championship opportunity on your first appearance for a promotion, but Kurosawa had made a name for herself in this part of the world, and Tijuana was a particular stronghold of Anzu support. The champion, Olivia Herald, was some skinny, white, American girl who’d just moved to Mexico from Tennessee the year before. What happened next would linger in Anzu’s mind for years afterwards. Hell, it was still lingering now; the scene had invaded her dreams in 2016, seven years after the events took place.

    Livi had begun to climb up the ladder, reaching towards her golden belt with all the haste she could muster. Anzu could barely see through her crimson mask, but she felt around for the rungs of the ladder and began to follow her up. She wished she would wake up, to not live through the next minute for the thousandth time, but it was futile. She found herself standing atop the ladder with Livi Herald, trading blows as the crowd oohed and aahed predictably. Each time her opponent forced a fist into the gaping wound on her forehead pain seared through her body, into her extremities before roaring back to the source.

    Anzu had won the trade-off, though, and Livi rocked backwards, holding onto the top of the ladder to save her fall. She placed Herald into a front face lock, hooking her arm and then dragging her up into the air, steadying herself two rungs from the top of the ladder. Herald was light, and she held her there, allowing the blood to slowly drain towards the top of her head. Anzu had never watched the footage back, so the only soundtrack to the memory was what she’d heard on the night itself, and that was silence. All noise seemed to drain alongside Livi’s blood, the stadium a pocket of stillness in an otherwise chaotic world.

    And then she’d fallen backwards, dropping her opponent’s head onto the mound of chairs with her patented brainbuster.

    The sound seemed to rush back into the scene all at once, screams and jeers and gasps. But above it all she heard the crunch. Bones seemed to shift around in Herald’s neck and back. As Anzu had looked down at her lolling head, her eyes rolled upwards and she accepted the oncoming unconsciousness. Anzu didn’t know at the time, but her neck was broken, and that was the end of Livi Herald’s career. She watched herself climb back up the ladder, towards the gold belt that it had all been for, and the proceeding weeks played back in a montage of shame. She’d been stripped of the title, thrown out of the company, her PAW contract was in question… It had all seemed bizarre at the time. Herald had signed up for a ladder match with Anzu Kurosawa. If it rains, you get wet.

    She reached up for the belt, and when she touched its golden face it burned her. Anzu pulled her hand away from it, blisters beginning to form on her palm. All of a sudden, the ladder gave way, bowing and eventually snapping, and a large chasm formed in the mat. She was falling towards it, into it, and with a last gasp of concentration she managed to grip its edge with singed fingertips before it closed around her. As she stared up, the lights on the arena ceiling were slowly flickering into darkness, one by one.

    Before the last light could be killed, Tatsuo’s face appeared through the crack. The handler slowly lowered his arm to her, a blank look on his unremarkable face. With effort, she clasped it, but it was hotter still than the belt. She tried to let go, to allow the hole to swallow her completely, but he held on tight and began to drag her back towards the surface. Steam hissed from the contact. Blisters and scars began to scream up her arm. And, through it all, Tatsuo was smiling.

    The first gasp of conscious air, as she propelled herself to a seated position in her Glasgow hotel room, seemed to fill more volume than her lungs had to spare. For a second she reached around herself, unable to let it out, pressure and pain pummelling her brain. Eventually, the exhalation followed, her ribs rising and falling heavily around her pumping heart. The room was small, bare, dark. The clock read four in the morning.

    Anzu pulled a robe around her and sat beneath the window, smoking a cigarette and staring at the moon. She was half the world away from those memories, but they had a penchant for invading her consciousness when she was least prepared to fend them off.

    ***

    The scene upon which the camera opened was far from glamorous. There was no natural light, only a sadly flickering bulb a way off into the distance. Cracked white tiles lined the walls of what appeared to be a Glaswegian subway tunnel, obscenities scrawled onto them in spray-paint. The light hissed each time it stuttered back into life, emitting its otherworldly yellow glow over the environment. The end of the tunnel was obscured from view. And, stood quietly a few metres from the lens, Anzu Kurosawa waited patiently with a grim smile on her face.

    “I am reminded of a memory that is separated from the here and the now by eight thousand kilometres and a decade. A young, fresh-faced Anzu Kurosawa waited patiently in the Plaza México, a tourist and a foreigner in the nation’s capital for the first time. I sat, one of forty thousand people and yet utterly alone, as the great matador Oscar Sin Par Flores walked out ahead of the tercio de muerte to virtual pandemonium. This was the man that they were here to see, the opening acts almost forgotten about in the fervour of his introduction. He took up position in the centre of the bullring; tall, dark, handsome. He cut an elegant figure as he lifted one arm before his face, a long red cloth obscuring all but his eyes.”

    Anzu mimicked the action, her hand drawn across her face to hide her perpetual smile. The light flickered once more, the darkness upon us in an instant before being broken just as suddenly by the perverse, odd glow.

    “When the bull was released, Flores remained as still as a statue. He brandished his red muleta in the beast’s direction, goading it into attack. The animal seemed momentarily uninterested, circling the matador at a ten metre radius, but this was simply strategy of its own. The two stared deeply at one another, man and beast, and it seemed as if the forty thousand onlookers had retreated entirely from their minds. The first charge of the bull was frantic, wild, sudden… The muleta was presented, and just as quickly withdrawn, its left horn grazing the cloth as the matador completed the verónica, the animal continuing its charge before slowing to a trot at a safe distance. The audience roared with glee and anticipation. They hadn’t noticed that the gate was still open, and neither had Flores. When the second bull appeared, the realisation and the horror seemed to surge around the arena like a virus.

    “Flores seemed to be the last to notice, and when he did, he wheeled about himself in a futile attempt to keep both beasts in his sights. With two bulls this was difficult, and when the third trotted through the gates it was impossible. For a fortunate moment, the animals operated as if alone, taking turns to charge at the muleta, the sharp estoc now plainly in sight as the matador realised his peril. About the ring, the organisers of the event were frantic. Two lackeys were sent to close the gate, literally after the bulls had bolted. A dozen novice bullfighters were urged to enter the ring to protect the star matador. But it was too late.”


    Another pause, this time only for effect. The camera was as still as ever, as if it dared not distract from the words that the woman spoke.

    “The beasts had coordinated themselves, two charging in at Flores at once, the third hanging back whilst the matador plunged his estoc between the first bull’s shoulders. It staggered and slumped, but the second animal was set on vengeance. Its right horn plunged deep into Flores’ thigh, a trickle of blood quickly turning into a gush as it pulled itself away. And then the third bull struck, its heavy skull buried deep into Flores’ chest, knocking the tall man clean off his feet. He lay, truly alone, in the middle of the ring, sucking in all the oxygen he could through a caved-in chest whilst clutching the gaping wound on his leg.”

    Here, Anzu sighed. The memory was still a little stark and a little vivid for her to recall dispassionately. The light flickered again, buzzing and hissing upon the scene as if it were intent on smashing the serenity apart.

    “Dinorah Redgrave. Taylor Toxic. Raquel Wednesday,” she continued, the smile slowly draining away from her countenance as she listed the names. “The three self-appointed members of my FWA welcome party. Last week, at Carnal Contendership, the gate was left open again, and Redgrave’s Rottweilers sought to involve themselves in my affairs for the second week running. They cannot know what they have done. They are still unfamiliar with Anzu Kurosawa, with the sleeping dragon that they have poked once more. They do not know what fate waits for them around the corner. How could they? But they will learn, soon enough.”

    Her hand was lifted up to her forehead, two fingers tracing the line of the thin gash that Taylor and Raquel had branded her with. As her digits ran over the grooves formed by the stitches, the memories of Carnal Contendership flooded into her brain. Two curb-stomps, a vertebreaker and the impact of the cold, hard steel. It only served to strengthen her resolve.

    “But the history books will only record the simple fact that Anzu Kurosawa has lost to Dinorah Redgrave twice, one week after the other. This is unacceptable to me. I am only able to face up to it because of what Redgrave must have already realised. Even before Dublin, she had learned at Winter Wasteland that defeating me was not as straight forward as she had initially hoped. For all of Redgrave’s negative qualities –I shan’t list them now as I don’t have the time, I have a match in two days after all – she has one redeeming feature. She is intelligent. This is why she left the gate open. She knows that she cannot beat me on her own.

    “Taylor Toxic and Raquel Wednesday have earned my attention, for better or for worse. There is no end to the tunnel that they have burrowed for themselves. But tonight is not about these two, or even Dinorah, as much as she will attempt to insert herself into the spotlight. Tonight is about Anzu Kurosawa and Bell Connelly.


    “Connelly has reigned supreme over the Women’s Division for many months. She has been virtually unstoppable, defeating newcomers and veterans alike, cementing her status as the premier female competitor in the promotion whilst starting a conversation about her main event credentials. These things have not happened by accident. She has earned them with sweat and blood. But I did not come to these United States to inflate the ego of a champion. I came here to beat champions. To defeat the best. To become the best. Redgrave and her Rottweilers may have defied these ambitions, but Connelly is another story. Connelly will fight fairly, and this will be her downfall. Dinorah would be well-advised to stay well clear of the ring tonight. She knows that Connelly’s fight is my fight, too.”


    As she moved away from the topic of the Hellfire Club, intonations of levity began to creep back into her tone. There was no hatred or scorn for Bell Connelly, only thinly-veiled respect.

    “Twelve months after the events of the bullring, I returned to the Plaza México on what happened to be the night that Oscar Sin Par Flores re-entered his beloved sport. The special main event had been announced weeks in advance, and the stadium was filled to more than capacity, people sharing seats and standing in the aisles. When Flores took centre-stage, bandages were wrapped tightly around his gored thigh, and he stood more crooked, his breathing laboured but his focus as firm as ever. The two surviving bulls that had struck him down had been penned up ever since, and were released one-by-one to be greeted by his estoc. As the sharp point plunged into their spinal column and their legs gave way beneath them, he stared into their large, round eyes. There was sadness there, regret almost. But the bulls had made their decisions twelve months earlier. They chose this path. The blame was theirs alone. The sword catches up to us all, eventually.”

    Once more, the bulb flickered away into darkness, but no light was forthcoming.

    A.K./04 - "ENTER BANZU (or; downbeat reflections from upbeat people)." w/ Bell Connelly (AnOriginalName)
    vs. Taylor Toxic and Raquel Wednesday, w/ Bell Connelly (Fight Night, April 22nd 2016) [W]
    Spoiler:

    February 26th, 2009.
    Tijuana, Mexico.

    Twelve hours had gone by since she’d first heard the crunch as Livi Herald’s neck folded in on itself against the ring mat. One BRAINBUSTAH~! from the top of a twenty foot ladder was ‘all’ it had taken to be crowned the Latin American Wrestling Women’s Champion, and – twelve hours into her reign – she was only now beginning to consider the repercussions of this crunch. She wondered if Herald had been seriously hurt, if the inevitable rematch would have to be postponed. Maybe others would think twice about challenging Kurosawa to such a barbaric type of match. She was beginning to build both a reputation and a taste for them.

    Her newly won championship belt sat in front of her on the kitchen table of a rented apartment, along with her breakfast of toast and scrambled tofu. It wasn't even March yet, but already the harsh, oppressive Mexican sun was invading the room through the large windows, reflecting off the golden surface of the belt. It was hot to the touch.

    After shovelling the last spoonful of tofu into her mouth, she moved over to the door and picked up the handful of daily wrestling rags that she had asked to be delivered to the apartment. Returning to the table and taking in a mouthful of bitter, black coffee, she picked up the one on top of the short pile. The woman in the image on its front was familiar, but her condition was in stark contrast to the strong, virile athlete she’d faced in the ring last night. She was surrounded by steel chairs and blood (Anzu’s blood, in fact), lying on a stretcher with a brace attached to her neck. Her eyes were closed.

    She read the headline on the front of the thin pamphlet; Kurosawa the Killer. Fuck, she thought, the image of a morbid, morose funeral quickly forming in her mind. Fuck, fuck, fuck fuck fuckfuckfuck… She scanned down the rest of the article, a tiny line at the very end revealing that Herald was in critical condition at Tijuana General, paralysed and comatose, but alive. It was still a horrible thought, of course, but in comparison to the assumption brought about by the misleading headline it was almost a relief.

    She read through the rest of the article, and the suggestive nature of the headline was developed throughout the body. Anzu had been ‘reckless and bloodthirsty’, it said, and that ‘her lust for championship glory overcame her care for her opponent’s safety’. This was a god damn wrestling match, Anzu thought to herself. Did I have a duty of care? The next pamphlet was even more accusatory and one-sided. ‘Where is the integrity of our once noble sport?’ it asked, before asserting that she'd ‘turned a competitive spectacle into a cruel, savage bloodsport’. The third and final article was the worst of them all; ‘perhaps I'm being cynical, but one must wonder why Kurosawa took this booking in a new company against an opponent she's never faced, only to bludgeon her in such a barbaric manner? It’s the humble opinion of this journalist that Anzu is seeking to cement herself as the premier international, female talent working in Central America, by any means necessary.’

    She pushed the rags away from her, incensed and powerless. She was alone and cornered, slowly being surrounded; it wasn't the first time and she doubted it would be the last.

    Later on in the morning, she had gone into the LAW Tijuana offices with her championship belt proudly set on her shoulder. She walked through the doors, and the atmosphere seemed to hit her like Herald’s repeated chair shots. The receptionist stared at her over her glasses, her mouth slowly opening in something resembling fear. Anzu strode on, noticing the gazes that followed her down the corridor. Some were born of disdain, others of mistrust. Eventually she reached the office door of Alberto Hiraldez, the company’s general manager. She was three minutes late for her meeting.

    When inside, she was greeted by a long table with three men sat behind it. Along with Hiraldez was Gilberto Cuaron (the company’s Vice President in charge of talent relations) and Harry Parker (a scumbag American who headed up the legal department). What followed was a long, obtrusive series of questions, the men taking it in turns to probe at her mind. Have you ever done anything like this before, in Japan or in Europe? Did you have any prior dislike or rivalry with Miss Herald before last night? Would you be willing to say as much to the press? Are you aware of Miss Herald’s condition? She gave one word answers – yes, no, no, yes, if you're interested. When they were done, they put their notepads away and Gilberto began to sum up.

    “We've spoken at length this morning, and we’ve decided on the following course of action. You will be stripped of your championship with immediate effect, of course. We can't have you representing the Company as one of its champions whilst there is such negative press surrounding the Kurosawa brand. In addition, the Company can see no reason for us to use you in future, not now and not ever. Finally, you will not be paid for last night’s appearance. We’ll forward the winner’s purse to Mr and Mrs Herald.”

    Anzu blinked pathetically, a massive underreaction to their massive overreaction. She was alone and cornered, slowly being surrounded; it wasn't the first time and she doubted it would be the last.

    "Can I appeal against any of this?" She asked, turning towards the lawyer.

    “No,” Parker replied, almost smiling at her. “You don't have a contract here.”

    Outside the offices, she made a call from a nearby pay phone, dropping her coins into the slot and dialling the number of the PAW offices in Mexico City apprehensively. She needed money. The trip to Tijuana had been expensive and now she wasn’t even getting paid for the work she'd already done. She asked if they had any upcoming shows in the area (or in the country in general) that she could get booked on. There were a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, during which Anzu deciphered what was about to come.

    “Are you sure that's sensible, in the current climate?” The receptionist asked. “I’ll put you through to Mr Garcia.

    “Miss Kurosawa,” he started, rather bluntly. Fidel Garcia was the Chief Executive Officer of Pan-American Wrestling, and though she’d never spoken to him face-to-face she felt as if they had quite a good working relationship. She couldn't sense his mood. She felt he was masking it. “It's… good… that you've called.”

    More awkward silence.

    “Look, Anzu, I have to be honest with you,” he began, his accent thick with his native Mexican and, she began to think, a little apprehension for what he was about to say and do. “You've been a wonderful servant for this company. You've done everything we've asked of you and more. But at the moment we’re… worried… that last night’s events may follow you around Mexico. Maybe even back to Cuba.”

    “Are you firing me, too?” She interjected suddenly.

    Firing you? Good heavens, no,” he began, somewhat reassuringly. “But in the current climate, we feel that certain types of matches are best avoided for the time-being. Your steel cage match with Hero, for instance, for the PAW Women’s Championship. That'll have to be cancelled. We’re hoping you can still compete in your regular singles bookings, but… the legal department want to see where all this bad press goes, first.”

    Anzu sighed to herself heavily, closing her eyes and rubbing her temples in frustration. She was alone and cornered, slowly being surrounded; it wasn't the first time and she doubted it would be the last.

    “Anzu, can I give you some advice?” Garcia asked, bringing her back from her malaise and into reality. “Go and see Herald. It'll be good for your reputation, and it might be cathartic for you, too.”

    That night, when the pale moon had replaced the cowardly sun and a cool breeze rolled in from the Pacific, Anzu replenished her stocks of courage with a bottle of red wine and a couple of lines of excellent South American cocaine. She sat on a bench outside of Tijuana General Hospital, sucking at cigarette after cigarette, watching the doors open and close as the ill and the aged streamed in and out. She couldn't bring herself to go any closer. This place was death. Around her, every sound – the closing of car doors, the light padding of peoples’ footsteps, the engines of buses coming to life – was replaced with the sickening crunch she’d heard when the bones in Livi Herald’s neck had decided to rearrange themselves.


    ***

    April 20th, 2016.
    London, England.

    The camera opens up next to the river Thames, a long line of people stretching back from the base of a metallic structure that sits on the bank. Standing towards the front of the queue is Anzu Kurosawa, one hand in her pocket and the other holding a cigarette between thinly pursed lips. In the background, Bell Connelly runs into a group of pigeons, the birds instantly scattering into the air around her. She rips at a piece of bread, popping a corner in her mouth before feeding the rest of the slice to the birds. Anzu is called to the front of the queue.

    “Bell,” she says, dragging the other woman’s attention away from her feathered friends. “It’s promo time.”

    The two of them file into one of the glass pods, the camera filing in behind them. Anzu takes a seat against the capsule wall, Bell pressing her nose against the wall as it slides into motion. It begins its circular path, the river and the city gradually opening up beneath them.

    “When we reach the apex, it feels as if you can see the entire city from this pod,” Anzu begins, stationary on her bench. “The buildings and roads and parks and rivers spread out before you, the people insignificant dots drifting around a living map. This city becomes an open book, revealing all of its secrets to anybody who is willing to look. Within this pod, you are master and commander.”

    Bell moves away from the window, smiling at the camera as she walks to the other side of the capsule. She stares down at a group of birds that fly beneath their pod, watching them through the floor and then off into the distance. They have gathered some height, now, the people and the city below slowly becoming more abstracted. They were being raised away from it, the hustle and indeed the bustle drifting into memory. It was still there, but within the glass walls Anzu felt oddly insulated from it.

    “Beautiful sights like these,” Anzu continues, pointing around at the gradually expanding city-scape. “Are made to be seen, to be looked upon and appreciate. But often it’s the ugliest of things that present themselves most openly, and the mind and spirit of Toxic Wednesday is as black and malignant as their nicotine-stained lungs. They flank their leader and they swarm around the fallen, predatory scavengers waiting for the Valkyrie to fling them some scraps. They have been too bold, and in their perceived strength they have given up their weakness. They are not the same women when they cannot hide behind the Valkyrie. This they have shown us, time and time again.”

    “Awwwwwwwwww, damn son! My girl Anzu dropping mad methodical bombs on ya! Going all JK on your butts. Shots fired… Pew Pew!”

    As Bell turns the monologue into a dialogue, Kurosawa simply remains seated on her bench, watching the American as she saunters over to the other side of the pod. Bell stares down at the ground with something resembling wonder.

    “Wow, we’re up high, here. The people down there look like ants. Well, the birds… they look like ants. The people look like birds. I wonder what the ants look like… dots, probably…”

    She stares down a little at the ground - considering this fact - before she snaps back to attention and looks at the camera

    “Right, right, promo. See, I can’t paint a pretty picture through the magic of words like Zu-Zu here. Nicotine stained lungs. Nice. But I can tell you about Toxic Wednesday and Dinosaur rex. They’ve been playing games, playing tricks, doing their whole ‘grrrr I’m spooky’ act with us. Trying to play around, get in our heads and I have to say; nice try. No really, A1 for effort. Gold star for each one of you, but here’s the thing girls….we all knew it was going to end. I mean….you knew this was going to end, right? You didn’t think you could gang up on us three on one. Two on one. Sneak attacks FOREVER, did you?! Oh no no no. Because, we’ve seen how bad you girls are when you’re pulling hair or kicking or biting us from behind, but the MEASURE of how bad ass you really are is when the odds are allllll equal. I mean, once upon a time, you were a GREAT tag team, but recently? You’ve just turned into Rocksteady and Bebop to Dinorah’s Super Shredder."

    Bell looks to Anzu with a small, proud smile on her face. Anzu silently wonders what a Rocksteady is.

    “Oh yeah, that’s right. I can do metaphors too. See, girls. This week, you aren’t a tag team, you’re Dinorah’s little flying monkeys dancing to her tune and you’re coming to Fight Night to prove and validate everything she’s been saying for the last few weeks. But really, if you think you’ve got us scared, got us intimidated… yeah, like I said. Nice try. But when Team Friendship comes to town… Me and you. That’s us. We’re team friendship. Got the T-Shirt to prove it… We’ve here to prove that Dinorah can rattle her chains all she wants but it won’t stop us.”

    It almost seems as if she’s mid-stream, but Bell suddenly falls silent, attention diverted skywards as the sun slowly begins to poke its head from behind a wisp of cloud. She watches it, mouth open, a hand protecting her eyes, the camera all-but-forgotten for the time-being.

    “You see, Taylor, Raquel…” Anzu decides to pick up the slack, ignoring her distracted teammate in favour of the lens. “I’ve been here three weeks, now, and it seems that every single time I walk out into an FWA ring I see the same faces. Taylor Toxic. Raquel Wednesday. Dinorah Redgrave. And Redgrave, I sort of understand. She wants to control the division, like she used to, and asserting her dominance over new signings like myself is, well, it’s sound strategy. But you two? I struggle to understand why you’re constantly flanking the Valkyrie. I struggle to see what you get out of the arrangement. I struggle to see the point of you.

    “Let’s face it, ladies; you are merely treading water. The tag team title scene could not be more empty, and yet you find yourself in throwaway contests with The Honey Mamas whilst The Garcias continue to not realise that you exist. You spend your lives clawing at myself, and at my partner, because, well, because Dinorah Redgrave tells you to. I’m not sure what it is that your lacking; motivation? Drive? The mental capacity to formulate your own plan? I’m not sure what it is, but it’s something. And now tonight, because of your poorly thought-out alliance, you find yourself in the ring with the woman who has dominated this division for the best part of a year and the woman who gave her the fight of her life last week. I would ask you if it seems worth it, now, but I’m not exactly sure what it is you ever stood to gain.”

    Anzu stands from the bench, joining Bell at the pod wall, the capsule having moved past its vertex and beginning to slowly rotate back towards the ground. The floor was not rising at them at any speed, but it was coming. The inevitability of it made the Japanese woman shiver.

    “Bell explained it well. You have been sneaking in the shadows, waiting for an opportunity to corner us, two on one or three on one or three on two. Tonight, there are no shadows. You are out in the light, in clear view. It’s a beautiful thing, when you can wake up in the morning and really look forward to going into work.”

    Bell leans forward and lightly slaps and drums her fingers against Anzu forehead (or “baps” her, as Bell puts it). Anzu simply stares back, unknowing as to whether this is some unfamiliar American custom. She assumes it isn’t, that it’s just one of Bell’s many, many quirks, and shakes her head.

    “I mean, I’m curious,” Bell begins. “Is it hard? For you to be confrontational and aggressive all the time? Honestly, I don’t know why these promos have to be so… angry Everyone around here is WAY too hardened sometimes. I mean, I know we’re doing the whole fighting thing, but why does it always turn to name calling? Honestly...”

    Bell leans forward again and gently raps her knuckles against Anzu’s collar bone.

    “Knock knock, it’s Anzu’s friend Bell and she wants her to know it’s safe to come out.”

    Anzu shuffles from foot to foot, a but they started it look on her face.

    “But no, I don’t think you guys are ‘treading water’,” (here, Anzu rolls her eyes, as if to say speak for yourself). “You’re a great tag team, and honestly I don’t blame you two for what you’ve been doing. Honestly, I don’t. I just think Dinorah just got into your head and worked her juju on you; because that’s what she does, she tries to get in your head targets your insecurities, worm her way into your mind and make you dance to her tune. I should know, she’s been trying to do that to me for weeks. It hasn’t been working… duh… but she’s convinced you to join her little club, not because she likes you. Not because she wants to be friends, no no. The “Hellfire Club” was put together for one reason and one alone. To make sure at Back In Business Debby walks out with the Women’s title. My Women’s title - which won’t happen by the way, I’m going to be champ forever just so you know… - but THAT’S why you won’t win tonight. Because you’re not fighting for YOU. You’re fighting for Dinorah. But Team Friendship? We fight for us. One for all and all for one. Go Team Friendship GO!”

    Bell bumps her shoulder against Anzu and puts her hand right in front of Anzu, staring her down sparkling warm blue eyes to put her hand in. With a sigh, Kurosawa reciprocates.

    The capsule reaches ground level and the door is opened, the cameraman filing out first, the two wrestlers following him out. Bell smiles from ear to ear and waves before turning and walking up the bank of the river. Anzu takes out a cigarette and lights it, pulling her coat around her to shield from the London breeze. Finally, she turns and walks away in the opposite direction of her partner. Slowly, they become lost in the crowd, surrounded but alone.


    ***


    She didn’t move, she never moved. The instant she plopped herself ungainly on the sofa, all Bell seemed to do was lean forward, tuck her knees into her chest, and curl up silently like she was forming some kind of protective shell around her.

    At this point, it was a well-practiced dance between shrink and patient.

    He was trying, of course, he was. If he didn’t feel like Bell could benefit from these psychology sessions, he would have given up on them years ago. But after so many sessions of light probing and tepid silence, this had almost become an effort in numbing futility, not to mention frustration. No matter what way he approached the situation there was nothing that shook Bell out of that self-imposed mental prison that she seemed to have grown complacent with. And at this point… He was worried about her. She was 19 years old, but her body language and general demeanour was like a scared little child or a cold, shivering puppy. The last of her black hair dye was dying out now, before... what happened. He knew that Bell has taken to dying her hair pure black for whatever reason, but by now the dye had all but gone. The only parts remaining were large black clumps and spots gathered on the tips and brow of the hair, like a barrier slowly cracking at the core, the foundation giving way, the black straining to contain the bright yellow vibrant hair that lay beneath.

    Clearly it’s a family trait
    , he thought to himself, but he didn’t say out loud. He had learned the hard way what kind of reaction bringing up family would get him….

    “So, Bell…” He said with a manner of calmness as he reclined on his chair ever so slightly, interlocking his hands together smoothly, appraising his long-term client “How are you feeling today?”

    She didn’t reply, she never did. He waited for a few beats, giving her ample time to respond, looking over her calmly before he sighed softly and reviewed his notes.

    “Have you given any thought to what we were talking about last time? I think we were tal –“

    “There are voices.”

    At first, the voice was spoken so softly, he wasn’t sure he heard her. He sharply looked up in surprise, his full attention now totally on the girl in front of him “What was that?”

    “Voices, I hear them….”

    The voice was just a little stronger now, but still as quiet as breathing. Spoken calmly, as if she was commenting on the rug or how warm the room was. Still not making eye contact. Of course, as a medical professional, this was cause for great alarm. Voices never equalled something good, at best some kind of coping mechanism her mind had constructed to deal with things in the same vain as her fractured memories. At worst? The beginnings of schizophrenia.

    “So... you hear… voices…” He said, trying to keep his voice even. “Do you find this... troubling?”

    Bell seemed to consider the question silently for a moment before shaking her head, which was still bent forward. “No. Not really”

    That was all she had to say on the subject, not elaborating before continuing to stare at her feet. Clearly - despite opening up ever so slightly - she wasn’t exactly a conversationalist, but he saw an opening and was going to keep pressing it.

    “Does it alarm you that you’re hearing voices?"

    “No.”

    “It is more than one voice?”

    “Yeah... there’s a lot”

    “Are you hearing them right now?”

    “Yeah."

    “....”

    Well, this got interesting all of sudden. He found himself leaning forward in his chair, a little curiosity practically coming off him in waves.

    “Can you tell me what they’re saying?”

    At first, Bell didn’t respond. All he could hear was her softly breathing out of her nose before she gently raised her head for what felt like the first time in an age. She looked him dead in the eye, as he expected they were red and tired... but there was something different in them…. there was a light sparkle in those sapphires eyes. She spoke totally calmly like she was reciting her words from a page.

    “In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream- Lingering in the golden gleam- Life, what is it but a dream?”

    Whatever the doctor was expecting it was most certainly not that, but Bell seemed to be changing right in front of his eyes. Her back was straight, the tension that so long had been such a fixture of their visits seemed to be falling out of her as quick as a flash, to the point where it almost seemed to be a different girl sitting in front of him. She hung off the edge of the seat, her palms pressed against the sofa, swinging her legs back and forward like a child.

    “That’s just one of them, there’s others. There’s one that’s singing Britney Spears songs, there’s some that are just saying “Fish, Fish, Fish” over and over again. Some are laughing, some are si-si-singing…..It’s so beautiful.”

    Bell paused, raising her head a little, looking up to the ceiling, rubbing her hands through her hair with an unsettling smile on her face. He had never heard her using this tone of voice before and when it had been almost impossible to get her talking, the words starting tumbling out of her, getting progressively more fast and urgent.

    "... And they're all here in my head, like a choir. There’s just so many of them and they’re all going around and around in my head at the speed of light like like a giant carousel in my head and it’s going around and around and around and around and around and around… ‘There is just one moon and one golden sun and a smile means friendship to everyone though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide’… Eto malen'kiy mir ? Malen'kiy mir? Bol'shoy mir . Kroshechnyy mir . vse miry vse formy vsekh razmerov tak bystro. Nikogda nikogda ne ostanavlivayas' . Takoye oshchushcheniye, chto moy mozg v ogne. CAN’T YOU HEAR THEM?! THEY’RE SO LOUD!”

    Bell screamed the last words out almost in a panicked state, her face turning beat red as she became increasingly more animated. She just sat there, breathing heavily, trying to get her air back after that explosion of emotion. All of sudden she seemed to blink and that sparkle died away, whatever that was… WHOever that was, slowly died away, and Bell snapped out of it, looking at her shrink with bemused eyes as if to say “Did I do that? I have no idea where that came from…” She just sat on the sofa, staring at her hands, in part wonder and part fear.

    “I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then…."

    A.K./05 -
    "Snakes and Ladders."
    vs. Angelus Agonia (Fight Night, May 6th 2016) [W]
    Spoiler:

    March 3rd, 2009.
    Tijuana, Mexico.

    It had been a rough week. Seven full days had passed since she’d dropped Livi Herald on the top of her head in the Estadio de Beisbol Calimax, and the reaction to that match hadn't exactly been what she'd expected. That was often the case, reality failing miserably to match up to her expectations of it. She had figured that the name of Anzu Kurosawa would ring out around the world; a fierce competitor with an unerring will to win… a wrestler who could overcome any challenge in any arena… A champion…

    But the name of Anzu Kurosawa only rang out around Mexico in the same sense that an alarm or a siren would. She had faced a week of castigation and alienation. First, the media had taken the whole affair and ran with it, branding her a dangerous, unsafe worker who was out to injure people. First, it had been the wrestling weeklies, in Mexico and then in Central America generally. She could almost understand this – they needed something to write, after all, and reviewing matches had always seemed too mundane for the rag-sheets. But when stories about her started to appear in the mainstream media it had felt a little unreal.

    ‘A black sheep with a black heart’, the largest newspaper in Mexico had called her. At least that had a suggestion of poetry. Some Venezuelan state newspaper had blasted her as ‘a woman strong of body but weak of moral character, desperate to further her own ends even if it comes at the expense of a peer’s career, their wellbeing, or even their life’. She wanted to go back to Cuba, to hide away in her shack by the sea, but she couldn't face the public exposure that the journey to the airport would bring. So, she waited within the confines of her rented Tijuana apartment, reading shameful things about herself in print and hoping that nobody would realise she hadn't paid a peso of the rent since she’d arrived.

    When Fidel Garcia, the General Manager of Pan-American a Wrestling (a company she'd worked at for years now) had told her that the story would follow her back to Cuba she’d laughed it off. He was right, though. She had called some small, regional promotions around south-west Mexico in search of a night’s work. They'd scoffed and hung up. The meagre promotion she used to do occasional nights for in Havana had told her they couldn't use her, despite the fact that they'd been trying for months to book her again. Even the Panamanian promotions wanted nothing to do with her. The fucking Panamanians!

    Garcia had phoned her three nights prior to cancel her appearance at a PAW show scheduled for Tijuana, as well as three Columbian bookings and a Venezuelan event she had in her diary. He’d said he was sorry. Hell, she even believed it. She’d been a big draw for the company, but he was terrified of the negative press. We’ll use you again, when this has all blown over, he’d said. I promise. Promises didn't pay the rent.

    Her reputation was in tatters. Her career was in tatters. And, perhaps worst of all, so were the friendships she’d spent years cultivating. The PAW roster included a half dozen names that she thought she could rely on. She’d called all of them. Leonard Peters, a tall, built Englishman who called himself ‘The Queen’s Favourite Fucker’. Carla Velasquez and Marie Navidad, a tag team with whom Anzu had been arrested after a drunken bar fight in Vietnam. Toshiro Matsui and Koji Kagawa, her countrymen and oldest comrades in the business. All she wanted was advice and guidance. What she'd received was excuses.

    Eventually, she’d managed to talk Andrés Rodriguez into a drink. Andrés was the PAW World Heavyweight Champion, and the two had drank, snorted, and fucked their way around the Americas together. She had suggested the quietest bar in Tijuana at 11pm, mostly to avoid as many onlookers as she could, but also to maintain her 1am appointment with her bench outside the entrance of Tijuana General Hospital. Livi Herald was still there, still paralysed, still unconscious. Andrés had agreed, and seemed relieved they wouldn't be seen together. She would've been offended, but at least he'd acquiesced to meet her. That was more than the others.

    “You look good,” he said when she'd shown up, throwing the last of a Havanan rum down his throat. There were four more empty glasses on the table along with a half-smoked cigar paddling in an ash tray. He had that look in his eyes, the one she'd seen a hundred times before, the one that had ended her first marriage. But tonight wasn't the time.

    They stumbled their way through some uncomfortable small talk. He had a championship defence against Koji in two nights time, but he didn't seem worried about it. He was mostly interested in how he was going to beat him. He eventually decided it’d be by knockout.

    “Andrés, I'm not sure what to do,” she said, and in retrospect it was a rather abrupt transition.

    “What, about the Herald girl? Ha! You sure broke that perra in good. That's LAW for you. A promotion of culos,” he answered, spitting on the floor at the thought of the company and ordering himself another rum. “It'll blow over in a few weeks. It's fucking wrestling, you're meant to hurt people.”

    “I'm not sure this is going to blow over,” she replied, challenging his flippancy. “They won't even book me in Panama.”

    “Fucking Panama?!” He exclaimed. She thought he was going to spit again. “Jesus Christ, things must be bad. I wouldn't take a booking there if I had a gun to my head. Which, in Panama, I probably would have.”

    “That's because you can get booked anywhere,” she said, melancholy drifting into her town. “I have no money, no way of even getting back to Cuba, let alone Japan. I imagine I could still wrestle there. But I don't know. This shit is bad, Andrés,”

    He dropped another rum into his stomach and ordered another. The barman tried to take away his empties but he reprimanded him. He liked to collect them.

    “Well, I know some people that might be able to help, if things are really that bad. Have I told you about what happened in Sao Paolo?” He began, relishing the prospect of being able to tell a story. She almost couldn't believe it, but she hasn't heard about what happened in Sao Paolo. She beckoned him onwards with a shake of her head. “I was working for some small-time promotion there, always in the same arena in front of the same thirty virgins. There was this booker, Ricardo Hernandez or something like that, a real perro he was. This fat fuck from some slum in Rio. I had won sixteen matches on the bounce. I'd beaten three former champions, two number one contenders. I was head and shoulders above the rest of those chicken-fuckers. But this guy had it in for me. Culo couldn't handle my charm. Jealous of the size of my cojones, I think.

    “Anyway, one day it gets too much for me, so I go to his office. I walk right in, don't knock, whilst the fat mess of a man is tucking into some slimy burrito, the meat and cheese slipping out onto his fingers. He licks them each in turn, you know the way that fat people do, before he looks at me as if to ask what I want. I tell him I want a championship match. He tells me, you will never get a championship shot in this company so long as I book the matches.”

    “So, what did you do?” Anzu asked, sipping at her vodka whilst Andrés polished off rum number eleven.

    “Well, first I fucked his wife, this ugly perra with stretch marks like fault lines. Then I fucked his daughter. She was slender and beautiful, probably her way of rebelling against her parents. Next I fucked his son. Broke that green boy in, I did. Finally I fucked his mother, cane and all.”

    Andrés burst out into laughter, ordering his ninth rum and slapping his thigh with glee. Anzu simply stared at him. She wasn't sure if he was actually suggesting that she fuck her way around Fidel Garcia’s family. It'd probably be easier to just fuck Fidel himself.

    “And that worked?” She asked.

    “No, of course not!” Andrés said, picking up his cigar and carefully lighting the end. “The last match he booked me in was an eight on one handicap match, and those lackeys broke both my legs. When I was heeled, I found out the fucker had called every small-to-moderately sized promotion in Brazil and told them not to book me. Couldn't get work anywhere. I was starving, and you wouldn't believe how thirsty. I fucked his son pretty hard, but he fucked me harder. The fat perro.”

    “I'm not sure how any of this helps me,” she interjected. Andrés was excellent company, but this is why she'd called him last out of all the people she thought were her comrades in PAW and beyond. Ask him for advice and he’d give you an anecdote.

    “That was just background,” he replied, calling for rum #11. “Eventually I hear about these people, based in Mexico but international, really. The guy I spoke to was a gringo, but they had all sorts working for them. Mexicans, Europeans, Africans, even a few Japs like you.”

    “And they helped?” She asked, ignoring the epithet.

    “Well, I'm a World Champion now. Sure they helped, at a price,” he answered, and then, noticing her expression: “don't worry, not money. Or sex. They only ask for, I don't know, loyalty. Obedience is maybe closer to the truth. They make their profits eventually. You want his phone number?”

    “I guess,” Anzu said. She didn't like the sound of any of it, but there weren't many other avenues left open to her. “What's the guys name?”

    Andrés waved another rum over and stubbed out his cigar.

    “Ethan Rose,” he said.

    ***


    Paris, France.
    3rd May, 2016.

    Tatsuo pressed pause on the footage, the girl on the scream staring down the lens with her eyes wide and crazed. Her face was painted the red of her wrath and the black of her soul, the suggestion of hairs growing from her long, pointed chin. She was like no one or no thing Anzu had ever seen, the embodiment of terror, smiling with glee at the macabre.

    The Japanese man took a seat next to Hua, who stubbed her Lucky out into the ashtray on the desk. She picked up the packet next to it and lit another. Standing at the other side of the table, staring at a calendar on the wall with something resembling deep contemplation, was Ethan Rose; his face pockmarked by aging, a longing for sleep painted beneath his eyes. He’d seen too many suns set, his breathing haggard and his back hunched. She’d known him for more than seventeen years now, and the difference was plain.

    “What is she?” Anzu asked, and when she thought back about the meeting she had realised how stupid she must’ve sounded. “I mean… what is that?”

    Ethan turned from the calendar and took his seat at the end of the table, opposite and removed from Anzu. He picked up a newspaper, opening it deliberately to a remembered page and beginning to scan the headlines.

    “That is your opponent,” he said, drawn into a story on the booming street-selling market of inner-city Paris. “Angelus Agonia. Some sort of cult leader. You mustn’t be taken in by all of this –“ he pointed away at the vague direction of the paused screen “- this is showmanship and pageantry. There is no substance in face paint alone.”

    “That’s easy for you to say,” Anzu replied flippantly, leaning back in her chair and staring at her Agonia. Her mind raced back to her match with Susie Sue, which they had watched before they’d played back her promo. “I mean, seriously, what is that?”

    “I will repeat. That is your opponent,” Ethan replied, turning the page to a story about Francois Hollande’s favourite type of pasta. He didn’t look any more or any less intrigued by it than any other story he read. “She’s taller than you by half a foot, and she has four stone on you, too. But she should be slower, of course. We’ve watched some footage of her in other promotions. It’s crude work, but she has a strong power game. Ms Agonia will try and throw you around, wear you down with impact moves, nothing you won’t have seen before. She likes to use a Torture Rack, so a lot of her offence is centred upon the back. She uses a choke-slam and a tombstone piledriver as her finishers.”

    This almost coaxed a laugh. Agonia used a piledriver to finish matches? Anzu was the queen of the piledriver. She made a mental note to teach the newcomer that.

    “She’ll wear you down,” Tatsuo put in, though he was only really re-enforcing Ethan’s points. This was his way. This was his purpose. “She uses a bear-hug, a Boston crab, all designed to prepare you for that Torture Rack I’m sure. She calls it the Raptus in Complexu – yet more theatrics. She made short work of the Sue girl, sure, but the Sue girl could make short work of herself. Don’t be taken in by the manner of her debut. You faced four established names in the division, three former Women’s Champions, in your first match. Then you faced the former Women’s Champion and the current Women’s Champion in singles competition. Regardless of who beats who at Back in Business, you’ve got a claim to a shot at that belt. They all know this. You cannot compare squashing the Sue girl to any of it.”

    “But still,” Ethan said, keen to curtail Tatsuo’s confidence. “You can only beat what is in front of you, and Ms Agonia did that with a certain savagery, as you have seen. She is a dangerous opponent, and she will be looking to make a name for herself. And if that is not enough for you, ask yourself this. Where do you think Ms Toxic and Ms Wednesday will be during your match? They’ll already be at the arena, it would be rude of them not to say hello. And you’ll be short of allies – Ms Connelly has a handicap match of her own to worry about later in the night.”

    Hua nodded, sucking lethargically at her cigarette and staring at Anzu. Tatsuo tapped his fingers on the table idly, allowing himself a sideward glance at the demon-face on the television screen. Ethan had time only for his news, and seemed quite taken with Hollande’s choice of conchiglie.

    “Any questions?” Ethan asked. Anzu looked up at the screen again, staring into eyes that looked back at everything at once.

    What is that?”

    A.K./06 -
    "Driftwood."
    vs. Dinorah Redgrave (Fight Night, July 1st 2016) [W]
    Spoiler:

    June 28th, 2016.
    Vienna, Austria.

    The Austrian gym smelled exactly like Japanese gyms and Mexican gyms and American gyms, the odour of stale sweat and expended tension hanging heavily in the air. It was late, and most of the clientele had filed out of the place, except for a bald man benching one hundred and twenty kilograms with complete, silent focus and a young, blonde woman talking to herself in German on the treadmill. A decrepit, unused, and rather small wrestling ring occupied the centre of the room. Anzu worked the heavy bag, white tape wrapped around her wrists, hands, ankles, and feet, aware and weary of the eyes of Tatsuo and Ethan. They sat on a bench a few yards away, exchanging plans and sporadically observing their client. Hua was close, too, but had retreated outside for a cigarette. She’d been livid when they’d asked her to stop smoking in the gym.

    Anzu slammed a forearm into the side of the bag, the forty kilograms of sand within the casing shifting beneath the pressure. She felt a bead of sweat begin the descent down her nose as her knee thudded against the black leather. Dinorah Redgrave lay three days into her future, and the memory of two losses to the Valkyrie of Carnage was still quite raw. She could no longer hide behind excuses or appoint blame to Toxic Wednesday and their constant interventions. Three losses to the same woman would be inexcusable, and so she had to work harder, to train longer, to be better. Sweat was a small price to pay. She threw a combination of two left hooks to the body followed by a high kick and then repeatedly slammed her left forearm against the bag, the mere idea of Dinorah Redgrave’s bones giving way beneath her heavy strikes sustaining her.

    “Okay,” said Ethan, standing from his bench as Tatsuo made notes behind him. “That’s enough. You have one more sparring session for today, and then you can take the rest of the night off. Tomorrow is important.”

    Anzu threw one more left hook into the bag and then turned away from it, wiping the perspiration from her forehead with a towel and taking a seat on the apron of the old, stained ring. She sucked in the air as a large, muscular woman entered the gym from the locker room. Tatuso went to greet her.

    “I assume you looked over our notes?” Ethan said. They had given her a page of bullet points. They were suggested framings of key points about her opponent and their shared past, to be worked in to her promo. It was to be recorded two nights before the match and they were travelling to Trieste the following morning to do so, an arrangement she had misgivings about. Tatsuo joined the pair of them, the large woman heading over to a spare treadmill for her warm up.

    “I read them,” Anzu answered, taking a long pull from a nearby water bottle. “But there’s nothing there that couldn’t be said in Vienna, without the thousand kilometre round trip. I’ve told you before, these theatrics just seem so… theatrical.”

    “Trieste is the nearest coastline,” Tatsuo said, his delivery matter-of-fact, as if this was a sufficient reason to travel a thousand kilometres. “The metaphor only works with a coastline. You know, the fire, the waves. This Dinorah Redgrave, she arrived as a ball of energy, unstoppable and insatiable. And then she lost to Bell Connelly, and now she will lose to you, the last few embers of her blaze extinguished. I thought you looked over our notes?”

    “Tatsuo, go and get Hua,” Ethan interjected, placing a hand on the Japanese man’s shoulder and staring at the ground. It was his manner to avoid eye contact, a trait that gave him an unsettlingly distant air. Tatsuo nodded and moved around the ring towards the exit to retrieve the third member of their Order. “Anzu, your opponent knows that physical training is important, and will be just as well prepared in this regard as you on Friday night. But Dinorah Redgrave understands better than most that the physical advantage is no more important than the psychological advantage. You can yield just as many rewards with words into a camera as with forearms into a heavy bag.”

    “I understand,” Anzu said, her eyes travelling to the woman who had just entered the gym. The firm, expansive muscles in her back and shoulders shifted around as she increased the pace of her run. “But a thousand kilometres is a long way to travel by train, and the match is in three days. Surely there’s a better way?”

    Ethan took a seat on a bench a few metres from the ring as Tatsuo re-entered with Hua. The large woman, her sparring partner for the evening, began to decrease the speed of the treadmill until it eventually ceased altogether. She wiped herself down and then hopped off, making her way to the ring.

    “Do you remember what you promised me, the first time we met?” the old American said. Her first encounter with Ethan Rose was still engraved in her memory. She nodded her head. Of course she remembered. They would, of course, be going to Trieste tomorrow, despite her protests.

    She rolled into the ring as the rest of her handlers took a seat, staring over at the nameless opponent. The tall, strong woman climbed through the ropes, Anzu beginning to circle the ring immediately, wasting no time on formalities or introductions. The larger woman reciprocated, keeping a wide distance between herself and Kurosawa. As much as she tried to focus on the matter at hand, she couldn’t help but let her mind race back. The larger woman lunged at her, and Anzu transitioned into a rear waist lock. She took her overhead with a German suplex, her thoughts drifting from the muggy, stale atmosphere of a Vienna gym to the muggy, stale atmosphere of a Tijuana bar.

    ***

    March 9th, 2009.
    Tijuana, Mexico.

    It had taken Andrés two days to give her his fixer’s phone number, and then three more for Anzu to become desperate enough to call him. She wouldn't have bothered at all if there was any other option. Andrés’ contacts were never the most dependable or the most legitimate, but Livi Herald still stewed in the intensive care ward of Tijuana General, a result of being dropped from the top of a ladder with a BRAINBUSTAH~! Every night, Anzu would approach the entrance of the hospital where she lay, sit outside on a bench and attempt to cook up the courage to go in and see her, before pathetically leaving a few hours later.

    The condition of Anzu’s career was as critical as that of Herald’s health. No promotion in Central or South America would touch her with a twenty foot barge pole (or, if you like your humour macabre, a twenty foot ladder). She couldn't enter the U.S or Canada thanks to her status as a Cuban citizen. Western Europe was a similar story for the most part, and she couldn't afford to fly back to Asia or Russia unless she could get some work over here first. There's a hole in my bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza…

    Andrés Rodriguez, the Pan-American Wrestling World Champion and an old friend, had told her about some people who'd fixed a similar problem for him years ago, when he was first starting out in a tiny promotion in Brazil. ‘Loyalty’ and ‘obedience’ was their price, he'd said, and although she felt uncomfortable with these vague compromises, reaching out for help was becoming unavoidable. She'd called the number earlier that day, speaking to an old-sounding American man of a blunt disposition. They arranged to meet in the same quiet bar at the same unsociable hour as she had with Andrés five nights prior.

    She sat in her corner, sipping at a black coffee and watching the door. The place was empty and would continue to be until it closed its doors at 1am. She imagined that the only trade it saw was through clandestine meetings like this one. The shorter hand on the clock forged onwards towards eleven as the swarthy barman polished glasses behind his counter.

    At precisely eleven o’clock, a tall, slender man walked in through the doors. He took off his trilby and his scarf and looked around for a peg to hang them. Quickly realising that this wasn't that sort of establishment, he located Anzu and strode over to her with purpose, placing them on the back of his chair before taking a seat. Out of his briefcase he took a newspaper, opening it up to the international section and beginning to read through an article about the elections they were holding in India.

    “Ms Kurosawa. My name is Ethan Rose. Andrés has told me about your situation,” he said, softly. The barman approached with his notepad, ready to take the American’s order. “A glass of water, please.”

    “Andrés told me that you can help me,” she answered, sipping her coffee and rotating the cup with nervous fingers. She placed her hands on her lap for a few moments, and then went back to fidgeting with her drink.

    “Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves,” he replied, still reading his newspaper and refusing to make eye contact. “My organisation has helped many in similar situations, but Andrés was never really one for the details. A good man, but an unclear mind. And too dependent on drink and women. There are things I need to know before I can commit to your cause.”

    “What do you need to know?” She asked, trying to get a look at his elusive pupils. Her drink was finished so she lit a cigarette, more for something to do with her restless digits than anything else.

    “Well, first of all, this Pan-American Wrestling, this is the company you have worked for in Mexico?” He questioned, flipping the page of his newspaper to an article about the Azerbaijani dictatorship.

    “Yes, and in Columbia, Venezuela, Cuba. All over, really,” she said.

    “And, in an ideal world, this is the company that you would like to continue to work for?”

    “Yes, in an ideal world,” she said. If one exists, she thought.

    “I know some people in this company,” Ethan began. “But it is not the most open to our organisation or its methods. It has many levels of management, much bureaucracy, a large legal department with a lot of red tape. It's not the same as that backwater promotion in Sao Paolo where I first found Andrés.”

    “So, you can't help?” She asked, growing anxious at his manner. He was still reading about Azerbaijan. His water sat untouched on the table.

    “I didn't say that,” he replied without intonation. “But this will not be easy, or quick. My organisation has much experience in such disputes. Going to the company directly, with money or whatever else we have at our disposal, is a strategy destined to fail. No. That comes later. Your main problem is the press, Ms Kurosawa. We must battle with the newspapers first, and when we have beaten them, then we turn to PAW and Mr Garcia.”

    “I don't know exactly what you're suggesting,” she said, stubbing her cigarette out as the American turned to a biographical story on the Danish royal family. “But Mr Garcia is a good man, for the most part.”

    “And he will continue to be so, if all goes well,” Ethan returned, rather obliquely, she thought. He paused for a while afterwards, and then, after a sip of his water, he continued. “Ms Kurosawa, I'm not sure what exactly Andrés has told you about us. About our price. With Mr Rodriguez, we became a part of his career for six months, we built him up to a position where he could afford to pay us back. His situation was straight-forward and so his price was low. Your situation is… not so straight-forward. You will need money to see you through until you can get bookings again, a counter-campaign to balance out the media’s smears, and eventually representation with your employers. But all holes can be patched up. It just may take us longer to extract our price.”

    “And what is your price?”
    She asked, noticing her hands were shaking. For the first time, Ethan looked up into her eyes. His irises were as black as his pupils. She shivered beneath them.

    “Your complete and utter obedience.”

    ***

    Trieste, Italy

    29th June, 2016

    Night was clinging on to Trieste. Stars were beginning to dance softly on a dark blue canvass of sky. The moon rose amongst them, shining down its pale, dim glow onto the black sea, the surface of which was lurching forwards in waves that broke into white foam. In front of it all, flames licked the air, the sound of wood crackling and beginning the transition into ash the evening’s only soundtrack. The orange glow rose high, taller than the woman sat by its side. Anzu Kurosawa seemed to stare beyond the fire at the ever-encroaching sea, an almost distant look upon her calm, pale face.

    “Despite the best efforts of my forthcoming opponent, the era of Bell Connelly continued at Back in Business, the Glitter Bomb preceding the one-two-three and the FWA Women’s Championship staying exactly where it was. It doesn’t matter to me whether the ascent of Anzu Kurosawa culminates with the dethroning of Bell or Dinorah. In fact, there would be a certain poetry to me ripping the belt away from Redgrave. But I can’t help but taking some amusement from the manner of your defeat. Michelle and I ensured that Toxic Wednesday would be otherwise engaged, and you were forced to engage in a fair fight. You went toe-to-toe with the current champion, and you lost. When I did the same, I won. This fills me with glee and it fills you with doubt.”


    The waves continued to creep closer to Anzu, the latest pouring into the edges of her bonfire. They almost seemed to sizzle, sending thin columns of steam upwards into the night. A soft breeze blew ripples into Anzu’s white dress as it continued its way across the otherwise unoccupied bay.

    “I know that, eventually, my calling here is about more than tag matches with lap dogs, and non-title bouts against champions on Fight Night. One day, when the sun smiles kindly upon me, I will shake Bell’s hand before stamping an imprint of her face into the canvass, and rip her championship away from her. This is not through malice, or, as you so eloquently put it before Back in Business, to destroy something you consider flawless. I will take her belt because I am the best, and the championship deserves to be held by nobody else. You fight only to dance upon the misery of others. This is desperation. It cannot sustain itself, even when its fire burns as brightly as yours did.

    “Your entrance upon this scene was only an echo, a wave like thousands before it, crashing upon the resolute surface of Bell Connelly’s championship reign. Hers is an era riddled with declining challengers. Look at the women who she’s beaten during her championship run – Ayla El, Shannon O’Neal, Gabrielle, Saddle Sally, Alana Allure, and now you. All former women’s champions, ten reigns in total between them. But who can honestly say that any of them were beaten at their zenith? Bell Connelly has been sustained by lazy booking, and returning legends no longer worth their exorbitant pay check. I don’t doubt that you feel entitled to another shot at her belt, but the world is tired of seeing dinosaurs and throw-backs raging impotently towards the serenity of Bell Connelly. It has become repetitive. They crave for something more. Something new. I have shown that I can beat this champion, something that you cannot say, and yet I still must wait in the shadow cast by your fire.”


    Far out in the bay, a light could be seen. It was a beam projected from the front of a ship, slowly sailing across the short stretch of water that separates Italy from Croatia. Anzu watched it for a while, making out its vague outline as it ploughed on through the fog. Closer to the shore, the waves encroached further, at the apex of their reach enveloping the entire bonfire. Segments of the blaze had flickered out completely, damp piles of ash carried off by the water.

    “The last time we fought, you beat me. I’ve made my excuses before, and have no interest in regurgitating them now. But I want to speak to something you said before our match. ’There is something about me that makes me, head and shoulders, better than you’, you said. ’It’s the fact that I am absolutely fucking INSANE’. This was probably meant to scare me, I’m sure. But the fact that it was meant to do anything betrays the truth. You are not, as you claimed, ’fuh-king CRAAAAAAZY’. Everything about you is calculated, to the point where the emptiness of your claimed depravity is plain for all to see.”

    The waves marauded on, and now at its peak the water reached Anzu herself. The integrity of the bonfire wass compromised, and amongst the sizzling of the charred wood the creaking of the pile began to be audible. Anzu paused, intrigued, and watched as a surge of the sea removed the foundations of the fire. It began to spread, collapsing in on itself until the water was free to manoeuvre it wherever it would. Pieces of driftwood, still aflame, were dispersing themselves across the panoramic.

    “Dinorah, you once told me that stepping through the ropes with you was different. You said that I didn’t just ’have a match with you’, that you would get inside my head and tear me apart from inside my mind. Maybe that works on some of them. The Big Bad Wolf act is quite a popular one, I hear. You might even be able to get inside my head, but I promise you that staying there is impossible. My head changes locations every few hours, and the ejector seat takes care of unwanted interlopers. You think that you’re so difficult to work out – an Enigma with no Turing. You’re not, my darling. You are an affectation. A lie. And the sea will wash you away.”

    After listening to the wind blowing against the high walls of the enclosed beach for a while, Anzu stood and left the shot. As the camera fades to black, the last few flames flicker away into nothing.

    A.K./07 - "My Name is My Name."
    vs. James Hughes, Malik Garcia, and Michael Garcia, w/ Bell Connelly and Shannon O'Neal (Fight Night, July 15th 2016) [L]
    Spoiler:

    The Blackhearts.”

    She begins with this, stood alone in the corridors of some Glasgow arena, staring dead ahead into the camera’s eye. It watches her without emotion, there only to chronicle and to document rather than to accuse or judge. Anzu could never say she felt comfortable in the line of the lens, but this particular aspect of the process had always been pleasant. She could say whatever she liked - question self-evident truths and bring the executioner’s axe down onto the necks of heroes and villains alike - and the camera would say nothing. It would only record.

    “My opponents for this week are the Blackhearts.”

    She says their name once more, emphasising each syllable, separating the second word out into its components. Black. Hearts. She wraps her tongue around each letter, savouring the taste of the word, allowing its connotations to sink in.

    “This name, the Blackhearts, was doubtlessly chosen with precision. It is an evocative title, for sure. A black heart is a festering heart, one that carries so much hatred and anger and malice, one that turns slowly to dust as it pumps clogging blood around a hostile body. The word heart has a dual meaning. Biologically, it’s the most important organ, giving the rest of our components the opportunity to function. Metaphorically, the heart is the symbol of love. The word black implies corrosion, a slow lingering death, loneliness.”

    She pauses here, allowing these thoughts to turn over in the viewer’s mind. Her right hand strays onto her chest, feeling for the slow, dull efforts of each pump. She taps solemnly against her skin with each beat.

    “Put these two words together and we have the Blackhearts. Sinister, isn’t it? The name represents the death of love, the corrosion of beauty, the cessation of life. No doubt, Michael, Malik and James will have chosen this name quite deliberately, to bring a realisation to the minds of their opponents. Well, Michael and James will have chosen it, whilst Malik just smiles and nods. They wish to be seen as the death knell. The tolling of the bells before the end of your career, or at least your momentum. This is a clever name. But, ladies and gentlemen, how many of you actually still believe it?”

    The silence is, again, deliberate. She demands that you answer this question, at least to yourselves. It is only partially rhetorical.

    “These three men have not shown themselves to be what they say that they are. Their name only strikes fear into those that have not seen them compete. Those that are knowing will not be threatened. The Garcias have been limping through the tag division for months, and any dominance that they could claim was dispelled once a worthy challenger – any worthy challenger – decided to climb into the ring with them. They have inspired no fear, only mild annoyance and general indifference. Their hearts are not black. They are barely even beige.

    “And, of course, there’s James Hughes, the man who climbed two thirds of a mountain and was happy to place his camp there. Eyesnsane, as he calls himself, for some reason that I don’t think I’ll ever understand, even if you explained it to me a hundred times. Hughes is a man who prides himself on reputation. It is why he stumbles through menacing soliloquies each week. It’s why he confines his demeanour to either brooding or angry, and nothing in-between. It is why he tells us that his heart is black. But a man’s reputation is not for him to decide, and since I joined this company I’ve watched Mr Hughes fall from North American Champion to a footnote in the Garcia’s memoirs. A footnote in a third rate tag team’s memoirs. Stating things as fact does not make them so.”

    She has very little more to say about The Blackhearts. They are not her specialist subject, or worthy of excessive research. The opponent is irrelevant, only the win matters. Anzu had said enough about others. It was time she spoke about herself.

    “Seven years ago, as 2009 crept on towards its conclusion, I had a match in Mexico against a woman named Livi Herald. Some of you may have read about this on blogs when I first joined the FWA. Others, relatively few I imagine, will remember the articles from the time. I speak of this match for the first time, after seven years, because I feel that it is relevant to these Blackhearts and men like them. Men who call themselves black-hearted or astonishing or immortal, and expect we’ll do the same if they only repeat it often enough.

    “In 2009, Livi Herald and I climbed a ladder together, reaching for the PAW Women’s Championship, which hung high above the ring. After the usual teetering act, I took Ms Herald and dropped her on her head with a brainbuster from the third-to-top rung. Herald broke her neck, and lay unconscious for several days. She teetered on the brink of death, as we had together atop the ladder. My career, but for some manoeuvring on my own part and the making of new friends, would have been over. No promotion would touch me. Eventually, long after she’d woken up and her eyes registered the various whites of her hospital room, I was convinced to go and see Livi. I let others tell me that this was necessary; necessary for me or for my career. Some even fooled me into thinking it was necessary for Livi. Looking back, it was none of those things, but still I went and still we spoke.”

    Her mind drifted back to that afternoon. Cameras had flashed at her angrily as she walked into the hospital, the dirt-sheets sending the news to the far reaches of Latin America. She ignored them, pressing through the automatic doors and into the hospital. Inside, the atmosphere was sterile to the point of stagnation. She still remembered the heaviness of the air, and how it plunged through her lungs and coagulated in the pit of her stomach.

    “I sat next to her bed and I apologised. I told this woman that I was sorry. Sorry that the match had turned out the way it had. Sorry that she’d spent weeks in this bed, staring at a flickering light on the ceiling. Sorry that she’d been told she would never wrestle again. And do you know what she said? She told me to go fuck myself. Not angrily, not even impolitely. She just said it, as if it was a drinks order. Go fuck yourself. Fair enough, really.”

    On that afternoon, Livi Herald hadn’t even looked at her. She just stared at the light, blinking on and off above her. Anzu tried to work out the significance but the explanation eluded her.

    “I speak of this now, after seven years of silence, not to put any sort of spin on the incident. I don’t mean to create an impression of wanton brutality, or of self-pity. It is a matter of fact, not of opinion, that I ended a woman’s career, and the meaning of this is for you to decide, not for me to imply. I speak of this now because I feel two months of life in the FWA is enough to gather a vague understanding of it. I watch our shows, and read our website, and I find a certain repetition. The women tout themselves as a Valkyrie or a Future Princess, as if the claim doesn’t need supporting. One man will tell us that he’s Astonishing, and the next is the One True Monster, and the next has a Black Heart. They say these things, and then they wrestle. In their mediocrity we see the truth. When Livi told me to go fuck myself, I saw something in her vacant eyes. She knew why I was there. I was there because the press demanded it, my handlers demanded it, the public demanded it. I was there for my reputation, not to provide her with anything like closure. I was saying these words because others dictated I should say them, and she saw through the façade in a second.

    “From that day to this one, I have shied away from making grand claims for myself. Others can do that for me. I don’t listen, for words have no bearing on actions. And, at the end of the day, it is only our actions that matter. And a comparison of tonight’s competitors shines a stark light on the truth. I continue to win, whilst The Garcias continue to lose. I continue to gather momentum, whilst James Hughes has stalled and begun to roll backwards. My tag team partners are winners. James Hughes and the Garcias can throw a million of their self-aggrandizing words into the wind and it wouldn’t make a difference. They are forgotten when they are beaten, and they are beaten all of the time. Tonight is not the night the trend changes.”

    Anzu walks from the camera’s view, leaving the corridor empty. Footsteps echo as the camera fades to black.

  19. #1399

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    Mitsuko Amori (Ayano) 美津子アモリ

    Mitsuko Amori (Ayano)

    GENDER: Feminine
    USAGE: Japanese
    OTHER SCRIPTS: 彩乃, 綾乃, etc. (Japanese Kanji)
    PRONOUNCED: ah-yah-no




    (Pic base: Io Shirai)



    Birth Name:
    Mitsuko Amori

    Born:
    December 26th, 1990 (Age 26)

    Residence:
    Kyoto, Japan

    Family:
    Noriko Amori (Mother)(Deceased)
    Kenta Amori (Father)(Deceased)

    Professional Wrestling Career


    Ring Names: Mitsu
    Ayano (Present)

    Billed Height:
    1.56 m (5 ft 1 1⁄2 in)

    Billed Weight:
    54 kg (119 lb)

    Trained By:
    Ryu Takahashi

    Debut:
    May 9th, 2006

    Face/Heel/Tweener: Tweener

    Non-FWA accomplishments (Indy Promotions):



    • 6x Triple Crown Japanese Elite Wrestling Champion
    • 4x Kimori Keito Champion
    • Tokyo JVW 2008 Grand Prize Winner
    • 5★Star TP Champion of Asia
    • Black Belt challenger Tournament 2010
    • High Velocity Champion
    • EJVW 3x Tag-Team Champion w/ Mei Ling
    • Tokyo vSports Queen of the Ring winner 2009
    • 6 Star Grand Prix


    FWA accomplishments: N/A

    FWA win-loss record:
    0/0/0


    Style of wrestling:
    Technical, Highflying


    List of perfected moves:


    • Tiger Feint Kick to the head
    • Suicide Dive
    • Diving Cross body
    • Cradle Suplex
    • Shinkansen Attack (Running double knee strike to an opponent seated in the corner)
    • Lifting sitout double underhook facebuster
    • Moonsault
    • Inverted Samoan Drop
    • Gorilla Press Slam
    • Spinning Crucifix Slam
    • Ranhei !!
    • Cactus Clothesline
    • Corkscrew Elbow into a cornered opponent
    • Discus elbow smash
    • Enzuigiri
    • Flying Lariat
    • Seated Senton
    • Shiranui !!
    • Plancha
    • Standing shooting star press
    • Reverse frankensteiner


    Finishing move(s):


    Spoiler:



    "Kyoto Death-Drop"


    Spoiler:



    "Namekori"


    Theme music:








    The story of how I came to be

    私はあなたの普通の女の子ではなかったです

    Part I

    "An Innocent girl from Kyoto"

    Spoiler:





    Mitsuko Amori (Ayano), was born into a wealthy family. However her family was one that was constantly under watch. Her father was the leader of a massive drug cartel in Eastern Japan, which made him a big target by many of his enemies and allies alike. Her mother was captured by a man named Sitoshi Nakamura during a home invasion in late September, and Mitsuko's mother was held, studied and forced to bear a son by him, committing suicide after this occasion. Meanwhile, Mitsuko knew nothing of this and instead believed both parents abandoned her. Only her father actually abandoned her, having left her in the forest after her mothers suicide. Upon learning her grand-daughter had been abandoned somewhere, her grand-mother ceaselessly searched for her until she too was captured and mercilessly beaten. However Mitsuko's was soon found and was taken in by an orphanage, where she was avoided and neglected by the staff, frequently bullied and referred to as an "Sheep" (due to her scruffy hair at the time), and told by the other children that she should live outside with the other sheep by the barn. In an odd way, she understood this as the other children using her as a way to distract themselves from their own misery of being forgotten and abandoned, and did little to prevent it other than to refuse to react, presumably in the hopes they would tire of bullying her if they couldn't get any reaction from her.

    Mitsuko discovered an abandoned puppy in the woods around the orphanage, whom she thought of as her first friend. Feeding the puppy on breadcrumbs left the pup starving, so she felt forced to give most of her dinner to it. During this time, it was later revealed that young Mitsuko, while holding her pup, sometimes heard and listened in on the singing of young Suki, who fled to those same mountains to hide her singing from her family, but the two never officially met during these times. When a boy named Kang threw milk all over her bag, the young girl saw, and shouted for a teacher. Thinking of her as a new friend, Mitsuko told the girl about the puppy. However, although promising to keep it a secret, the girl told the boys about the puppy and its significance, and the bullies took it from the woods.

    After confronting Mitsuko in the classroom, the boys brought in the puppy and began violently bludgeoning it to death with rocks. The girl came in to intervene, admitting to telling them about the puppy. Despite her apologies and protests that she hadn't known the puppy would be hurt, she was smiling behind her supposedly covered eyes. Feeling betrayed and enraged, Mitsuko released her vectors for the first time, with kicks and punches she retaliated against each and every one of the boys around her as Suki ran away with her tail between her legs screaming at what had just occured. She then buried the dog, apologizing for not being able to protect it, and decided to go on the run.

    During the cold and long nights, she went with her instincts and began to listen to her intuition. This is exactly what she needed. She needed redemption. The fact that Mitsuko had beat up all those boys by herself became more and more publicized and she found it harder to stay at a house for very long. At odd moments, the horror of what she was doing would strike her, but her pain and need reasserted itself in a short period of time.

    While she stood at the grave where her poor little puppy was buried beneath her feet, a young boy arrived and noticed her sad and lonely expression upon her face. Thinking he would just harm her further just like everyone else wanted to, she prepared to strike at him. However, he, surprisingly, found her cool and immediately wanted to befriend her. She thought he was trying to deceive her and tried to leave, but Kenji persisted, promising that he would be there the same time tomorrow. In a sad touch of irony, Kenji's Father did not let him out, because of the beatings that were happening in and around the city caused by this young girl Mitsuko.

    Even believing that Kenji would never come, she hoped against hope and went to the place of the meeting, staying there until night, regretting what she saw as her foolishness in the rain. Kenji, loyal to his promise, snuck out during the night, and went to meet her, giving her a hat upon his arrival. The hat not only hid her scruffy hair, but was the first actual gift she'd most likely ever received. They agree to play together the next day. Kenji only came three days later, because of his father's fear of having a relentless girl that didn't realize her own strength in the neighborhood. Since it was the final day of vacation and there had been no more beatings in the past three days, his father acquiesced and let him go out. After this time, Kenji had also vanished, never to be seen again, and once again Mitsuko found herself alone.

    For the next five years, Mitsuko laid low and did her best to avoid drawing attention to herself. In her efforts to survive, she naturally used self defense to protect herself from many people, but tried to avoid violent outbursts whenever she could because she was sure that's what her mother would want her to do. The majority of her victims would suffer however when she couldn't contain herself. Mitsuko later befriended a young girl named Aiko Sanata who liked to draw. Aiko too, was lonely, dealing with an abusive father and hoping to reunite with the mother who abandoned her. However that too was short lived, as the same unit of men that was responsible for her mothers death came after Mitsuko and Aiko. During this time Aiko slipped and fell while running and was shot in the head. Mitsuko heard the gunshot echo in the distance. Tears started to form around her eye hanging on and then suddenly drifting down. She swallows and grips her hand into a fist... no. She holds back. She can't go back now, her life is surely in danger. She later stumbles into a city where she's abducted and thrown into a van suddenly. With one swift blow to the head, she's out cold. With that tons of images of her mother laughing fill her head. Her father is also there. Suddenly she's awoken by a "Wake her up! Don't want to scare her anymore than she already is." The bag is removed from her head and her vision is blurry. "Mitsuko?" The voice sounds oddly familiar, but when her vision is sharp she fails to recognize the tall lanky man with slick black hair standing in front of her. "I'm Ryu.. you don't have to be afraid don't worry, okay?" At this point what is there to worry about. She thinks to herself. "I know it didn't have to be like this but you're in danger here, and we had to take you far away from Kyoto as possible. Here you'll make a new life. Live freely with no worries. You hear me?" She nods her head ever so slowly and is slightly relieved to hear this.. but who is this man? "I apologize I didn't tell you who or what we're up to.. here let me get those for you." He proceeds to cut off the rope tied around her wrists. "You were quite the squirmer. Now Mitsuko, we know all about you. We've been following you this whole time. My name is Ryu, and I'll be your new trainer." ... "trainer.." I say to myself in my head. What kind of trainer? "Listen Mitsuko.. we know the struggle you've been through and we know about your mother and father, but you can't keep this anger caged in, you need to find a way to channel it, and we have just the idea." So from then on that's how I came to compete as a professional wrestler. Or a monkey as I like to think of it. Caged and kept to preform in front of thousands of people watching my every move. Ryu started to train me and prepare me and teach me the ropes alongside a new friend I made, her name was Mei Ling. She too was in the same position as I was. We learned that we were competing under new names, and we were competing far away from home and had our past cleared up and I never heard from the men that killed my family again. As vengeance for Aiko's death, I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to make Aiko and my family proud. I don't wrestle for anyone but the people I grew up knowing. It's a dangerous thing trusting people. My whole life has consisted of nothing but violence and heartbreak. Maybe Ryu was right. Maybe this is exactly what I needed to channel my anger. A place where I can make others suffer like I did, that I would make his world fall apart around them the same way it did for me. It's time for me to make a name for myself for once and to show the world who Ayano is. This is my journey.


    [8:21:19 PM] Crestfall: GUYS STOP. DYSLEXIA IS MY TRIGGER
    [8:21:23 PM] Crestfall: SO ARE LOWERCASE LETTERS

    A fairy tale ending is bad for about half the characters
    http://myanimelist.net/animelist/Vexen4th

    +Apathos: My life is kind of like glass half full I guess. But really it's more like someone took a glass and broke it so that it was only about half as tall, and then filled the remaining shattered glass with liquid and called that roughly equivalent to decent.

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    Re: Mitsuko Amori (Ayano) 美津子アモリ

    Welcome to the FWA, interesting signup.

    Io <3


    We'll book you on the next PPV card which should be up by the end of this weekend, until then feel free to look around and whatnot.


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    ~ THE KING OF KINGS ~~
    Spoiler:






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