Prelude to an ULTRATITLE, Episode 1: The Phantom Republican
Guangzhou, largest city of the Guangdong province in China, is not necessarily known as a wrestling hotbed. Pro wrestling, in fact, is something that has only recently caught on in the world's burgeoning superpower rival to the United States. That being said, boy, has it caught on pretty big. In an arena no bigger than a warehouse, about 5,000 people, give or take a few hundred, crowded inside with no air conditioning under poor lighting to watch green natives, puroresu flameouts and a few select gaijin grapple with each other. As much as the average spectator was sweating, the perspiration was ten times greater inside the ring. Even for being early on in the year, the south of China isn't exactly known for mild winters or cool springs.
For most competitors, this is the pinnacle of their careers. For a few others, the dim lighting and poor ventilation represents the freefall their career has taken. Used to the bright lights and big arenas of Japan and America, the smattering of non-Chinese grit their teeth and go to work. The pay is relatively good for the absolute dirt-cheap cost of living in a country where the spread of wealth is more 0.001 and 99.999 percents. A guy could live barebones, save up some cash and have enough to go to Hong Kong four or five times a year to blow some cash at the casinos or eat like someone who didn't live in a third world country. It's only a five-hour train ride.
After seven matches of varying quality, it was time for the main event. In one corner was Kai Baifong, a short guy in boxing trunks, sneakers and crude elbow pads. He may not have looked like much, but man, the guy gave off a total Bruce Lee vibe when the bell rang. The Chinese fans love that. It also didn't hurt that he was going up against the current reigning South China Heritage Champion, an interloper, an... American.
He stood pretty tall over most competitors in the company. Most native Chinese who grew up to tall sizes still had Yao Ming-sized dreams of playing basketball, be it for the national league or for the overseas NBA. He was almost considered a giant, although people were able to throw him around with some ease. While he wrestled in a classic, American style, he almost looked like a MMA fighter with his get-up – taped ankles, feet, wrists and hands, blue biker short-style tights with white stars emblazoned on them, a bald head and a face mask in the style of an eagle. He looked as if he originally were Sagat from Street Fighter II, only Americanized and masked.
The Bald Eagle was clearly the most successful wrestler in his region of China, and a villain that everyone wanted to take down. Several have tried, but very few have succeeded since he arrived in the Red Orient a few years prior. This was Baifong's third attempt at trying to fell the American menace. There was a time in the match where he and the crowd really thought he was going to win, as he connected with kick after kick to Eagle's ribs, launching sweat into the air as if it was the impact crater for a meteor crashing into human flesh covered in salt water. A well-placed poke to the eye, followed by Eagle's flurry of patented big offensive maneuvers culminating in the evil Democracy Clutch, a camel clutch coupled with a sleeperhold, ended that rally and attempt. For another night, Eagle was the South China Heritage Champion.
A chorus of boos rained down upon the arena as Eagle held his belt up high. After sneering at the crowd through his mask, he slipped past the curtain and sighed exasperatedly. Wrestling in that hothouse takes a lot out of wrestlers, but that's the way life is as a man on the Chinese catch scene. He looked around for a tub filled with what used to be ice and bottles of water to pour on himself, but it was nowhere to be found.
"Looking for something?"
Eagle turned around to see a very familiar face, a hulking blond man with sunglasses on in khaki shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.
"Jeffords, is that you?" he remarked.
"Sure as the sun rises in the East and our President is a filthy socialist."
Eagle went to embrace the mountain of a man, but he held his hand out.
"No, you're too sweaty. You might need this."
Jeffords handed him a 1.5 liter bottle of water. The Eagle took off his mask and smiled. The man in a former life known as Gordon Oliver Powell poured it over his head, a reward for a match well-wrestled.
After Powell got changed, the two left and walked up the crowded streets of the Chinese metropolis formerly known as Canton.
"So Jeff, what brings you to China? Come to see your old buddy mop up the next big market in wrestling?"
"Ha, yeah, I came all the way around the world just to watch you sweat your balls off in a shack doing what you should be doing back home." The sarcasm dripped from his words like sweat from his friend's brow hours earlier.
"You know why I can't go home."
"Well, you should. I have an opportunity."
"C'mon Jeff, you know I can't."
"If that were true, why would I be here?" He sighed. "I mean, it's not like they blackballed you. You can still wrestle."
Powell furrowed his brow. "Well, it's as good as a blackball. Unless they want me back. But I mean, c'mon, FIRE has to have found someone to replace me in four years, right?"
Jeffords kinda just gave him a sidelong stare.
Jeffords shook his head. "No, they didn't. They've virtually abandoned pro wrestling for the time being, what with the PTC umbrella closing, CSWA going in and out and them giving up on NFW like it was a lost cause..."
Powell raised his eyebrow, as if he were suddenly... interested.
"I mean, it's a silly thing to exile yourself over, Gordon. Plus, I have an opportunity. Have you heard that the ULTRATITLE is being contested again."
Powell stopped dead in his tracks. "Did you say ULTRATITLE?"
"Do I stutter?"
"Uh, no... but I clearly am."
That kind of quick wit is really not known to the camera. While as the fiery Phantom Republican, Powell was all rhetoric and no intentional humor.
Jeffords paused and then added, "This is a great opportunity for you. I mean, what a comeback it would be."
"Yeah, but I got it good over here. People fear me when I have the mask on. When I don't, they respect me at least. I have a great routine. It's peaceful."
Even at such a late hour, the cars honked their horns, the young people shouted their slurs drunk in the street and even an occasional train was heard in the background. Powell knew he was wrong, even if he'd never admit it.
"Man, they really got you spooked if you think THIS is peaceful. Besides, even if FIRE doesn't take you back under their wing, I'm sure you could wrestle independently of them, or maybe latch onto the Romney campaign in an unofficial capacity so you can help the cause. There'd have to be a way. The Phantom Republican is WAY too bankable a name..."
"No. I just don't want to do it anymore. This is my life now. I'm the Bald Eagle. The Red White and Blue Menace, here in China. I like it."
"I'm sure you do. However, if you change your mind, meet me at this address by 10 AM tomorrow, and we'll go back to America."
Powell nodded. They had stopped about a minute ago in front of the fishmonger stand where his apartment was above. It was better than living in the tenements, and breakfast was always fresh at least. As he took to the steps that led to his quarters, he looked back once wistfully, a half-cocked smile on his face.
Night gave rise to morning, and Jeffords greeted it on the balcony of his hotel room. It was a room way out of the league of someone who struggled to make a living as an indie wrestler, but when you're sent on the behalf of powerful people within the Republican Party, well, you find you can pretty much expense anything. As he sipped his Vietnamese coffee looking upon the sun gleaming orange off the water, he heard a knocking on his hotel room door. Since checkout time wasn't for another six hours, he knew who was on the other side as he moseyed over to open up.
"What made you change your mind?"
"Well, sometime before the hooker in the stairwell leading up to my apartment vomited up equal parts rice wine and semen but after I saw a cop beat the ever loving **** out of a kid with a billy club from my window, I realized that I was wrong. I really don't have it all that great here."
Jeffords smirked. "The glory of China."
"I know, right? And myopic college students actually want to live here." Powell plopped his suitcase in the middle of the room and sat on the couch. "Well, when do we leave?"
"I've got two plane tickets to leave out of Hong Kong International Airport at 9 PM local time. So we have some time to soak in your adopted homeland for a few more hours."
Re: Prelude to an ULTRATITLE, Episode 1: The Phantom Republican
The scene unfolds backstage in Greensboro, NC at the Ultratitle 2012 Bracket Three location. We're backstage in a dimly lit lockeroom. A sole fluorescent light flickers, barely illuminating a figure sitting in front of his locker. That figure is the victorious Shane Rothenstein. Barely audible in the background is the mixture of the Foo Fighters and the ring announcer announcing the victor, Jacob McKail. As the camera finally is able to catch enough light and focus on Shane, he's seen staring at his hands. His right fist is balled tightly resting care free in his left hand. His eyes brown orbs are focused on those two hands in front of him. The sweat that had poured off of his body has long since dried leaving clammy. His raspy voice is barely audible.
"Ultratitle Twenty Twelve."
There was a pause, hands pulling apart from each other, his fingers beginning to pull the tape from around his wrist. There is a hint of pain in his features as the tape begins to peel from itself.
"One hundred and twenty eight competitors. At the end of this thing, only one will be crowned the Ultratitle Champion. That's one hundred and twenty seven losers."
Intently focused, he finishes pulling the tape from his right wrist and lets it fall to his feet. His voice, still just above a hushed whisper continues.
"This is what separates men from the boys. Tonight, five men have already risen above and five others have fallen. This is akin to Darwinism. The strong survive and the meek and the weak fail and fall."
He paused hand coming up to brush through his matted brown hair. Eyes closed as he pushed back the pain.
"I've waited more than a decade to notch a victory on a main stage. Tonight, Johnny Tropic found himself on the losing edge of our match. It wouldn't have mattered if it were Johnny Tropic or if it had been Castor Strife, Sylo, Joey Melton, Larry Tact or even Dr. Silver. Ultratitle twenty and twelve is the homecoming party for Shane Rothenstein."
Eyes opened and lowered to the camera. His voice slowly raising in volume, a harsh edge adding to his tone.
"The Phantom Republican is in the wings waiting to find himself on the canvas. After I plant my foot just under his jaw and flatten him with my super kick, he's going to have two thoughts that float through his head. As he lays there staring up at the lights glaring down on him, the first thought that will float through his head will be, 'What made me think I could come between a man and his destiny?' It's simple, there are one hundred and twenty seven others who may have claimed that this...the Ultratitle was their destiny. But there can be only one person who has the will to follow his path to destiny. And that's me."
The camera shakily zooms in on Shane until his face fills the picture.
"The second thought that's going to float through his head is 'What happened?' Easy answer to that one too. You found yourself at the feet of a man of destiny. A man who is to go on and become the twenty twelve Ultratitle champion. Take some solace that you will be one of seven others who tried to defy the order of things in this world. You will be a part of history. Glory will never shine down on the ones who lost to the semifinalist. I am the chosen one, Shane Rothenstein and each victory that I put under my belt will allow my fallen opponents to bask in the limelight knowing that they were just another cobblestone on my path to destiny. Take solace in the fact that you lost to absolute greatness."
The lights begin to flicker again, almost strobe like as Shane's lips twist into a cruel smile.
"Twenty twelve, the year of retribution and destiny. Phantom Republic, you will soon become chapter two in my ascent to greatness."
The lights flicker again and the camera fades to black.
Re: Prelude to an ULTRATITLE, Episode 1: The Phantom Republican
The scene is a darkened hall, seats empty, stage with a single spotlight lit. Out from behind the curtains walks the Phantom Republican in a three-piece suit, wingtip shoes and his trademark mask. He stands in the center, staring into a lone camera recording for CS Productions.
GOP: Don't call it a comeback.
No, seriously, don't call it a comeback. That's hackneyed. Trite. Cliched even. I don't deal in platitudes. I'm not a man of the unwashed, the leeches, the people who think Barack HUSSEIN Obama would pay their mortgage and their gas bills when he ascended to the Presidency. They love to watch their movies about the scrappy whitebread team from the middle of nowhere in Indiana or the patchwork punks on the ice rink who rebel against the team with the monetary advantages by deriding them as "cake-eaters". Cake-eaters... as if that's supposed to be an insult? You can get a Twinkie at the corner store for 79 cents. That's cake enough for me.
No, this rise back to the top is nothing more than the continuation of an interruption. As my party began to fragment and fall apart under the burgeoning promise of hopes and dreams, I felt that weight crush me as well. John McCain and Sarah Palin proved disastrous for morale. The traditionally wholesome, family-driven crowds of professional wrestling were turning slowly against the party that knows better for them. They were no longer interested in seeing anyone who'd tell them what was better for them, and honestly, who could blame them? Religious elements within the party started hijacking the narrative and trying to make the party less about the important things - keeping interlopers out, foiling the terrorists and spending less money in Washington - and more about bedroom politics. It was embarrassing.
So, in a moment of regrettable judgment, I left. But in that time, I saw the world, in all its lawless squalor. I saw the third world countries, the developing nations under Marxist rule, wrestling for people who could barely eat let alone pay for a wrestling ticket. I saw how bad these people had it, and I realized that maybe if the worst thing that we were arguing about within our party was how to legislate morality, then maybe it wasn't a bad place to be. So I'm back to help spread the important messages and to help let the wrestling fans know what is best for them.
I want to let them know that I, the Phantom Republican, represent everything that is good and wholesome for them in this tournament. Much in the same way that Mitt Romney will keep this country safe from foreign threats as President, I will keep the fans safe from boring wrestlers who talk in generalities, as if they're the only person in this tournament who is treating it like some grand ascent into greatness. Pfft, please. Destiny is such an overused word. Just as the GOP will make sure that underqualified, underpaid immigrants from lands foreign to here do not take their jobs, I will make sure that underqualified, intellectually bankrupt wrestlers such as Shane Rothenstein do not lay their grubby hands on an ULTRATITLE that is meant to be held by the best of the best that this business has to offer. And much in the same way your Republican congressmen, Senators, governors and hopefully President want you to keep more of your own money, I will continue to expose liars, frauds and plain bad wrestlers like Rosthenstein so that you wrestling fans will not spend your hard earned, disposable income on their terrible merchandise.
And so, that leads me to directly address my opponent, Rothenstein, a man who gets so flustered that by the end of his promo that he called me "Republic". I'm flattered actually, for if this great country were molded in my image and likeness, it would certainly be the greatest in the world's history, not just the greatest in the world as it is right now. But while he has generic dreams and generalized threats, equating low-level talents such as Johnny Tropic to the captains of the wrestling industry, I have a more specific goal. You see, I don't need to win this ULTRATITLE for myself. No, no, I've won World Championships. I've taken opponents and made them wish they were being waterboarded down at Gitmo.
I'm winning this tournament for America.
That's right, Rothenstein is the typical me-first, glory-hounding liberal. He is for worship of self. But, while I may be putting myself out on a limb here by quoting a Massachusetts Democrat here, but some of the wisest words ever spoken by a head of state have been "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." I will win the most prestigious tournament in wrestling for my country. I will use it to heal a fractured party, a disillusioned people and bring balance to the wrestling world. With me, the Phantom Republican, as the grandest Champion the industry has ever seen, this nation will prosper under a new national pastime.
So indeed, Rothenstein accidentally coined a new goal. He named what my vision shall be. A Phantom Republic, spanning across all companies, all states, united, under God, indivisible, with liberty, justice and great wrestling for all.
Fade to black
This message has been approved by the Phantom Republican for ULTRATITLE Champion Campaign Committee.
FWrestling.com was founded in 1994 to promote a community of fantasy wrestling fans and leagues. Since then, we've hosted dozens of leagues and special events, and thousands of users. Come join and prove you're "Even Better Than The Real Thing."
Add Your League
If you want to help grow the community of fantasy wrestling creators, consider hosting your league here on FW. You gain access to message boards, Discord, your own web space and the ability to post pages here on FW. To discuss, message "Chad" here on FW Central.