“And so the gauntlet has been lain down by me. I have stepped up and challenged the one called Brandon Youngblood to this battle in a steel cage to determine who will walk out of there with the Impact Championship securely around their waist. I have been waiting...so long...for this moment. This moment where someone would step out of the rest of the crowd to say that they had what it took to stand up and challenge me. Just remember one thing, I will not hold back at all in that cage. I don’t need my bat to finish you, I have a whole steel box to do the job.” - Autumn Raven’s twitter
Darkened eyes stared at the tan carpet beneath her feet as she sat at the edge of the bed, hands gripping lightly at either side of her. She threw one glance back at the still sleeping figure underneath the sheets, head resting on an arm and smiled a little. The two had managed to find some time together in their busy schedules to hang out and rekindle things together. Hence the reason she was all the way in Chicago instead of Cancun. Paradise was days away however, so there was no reason to worry about rushing out of here. That single fact made her happy. She could relax and stretch out, do whatever she wanted without having to panic about getting everything in and bolting out of there like a bat out of hell. The steel cage and Brandon Youngblood were the farthest things from her mind at the moment.
“Good luck kiddo. We’ll be watching. Your mom and I love you tons. Just don’t pull a Mick Foley and fall through the top.”
“Ugg dad, that thing has an open top now. I’m not gonna lose teeth either way. Have a little faith in me.”
“Oh, haha. You know I worry about you kiddo. That’s the first thing I thought of when I heard the news.”
“Hey that was a classic match, not gonna lie. But I think he would rest easy knowing I wasn’t planning on hurling myself off a steel cage onto the hard floor for any reason. I know you worry about me though, and I’m so thankful for the support.”
“Can I get some autographs?”
“No. Just...no. Seriously. I’ll bring back some Cancun souvenirs, but no autographs.”
“Hey I thought I’d try. Your mom says hi, she misses you.”
“Yea I miss her too. Miss both of you. I’ll try and make it home soon, I hope. I’ve gotta throw myself into this fight with everything. I have a lot riding on this.”
“I know. You’ll be fine, either way, no matter what happens.”
“I will. I need to go. He’s here.”
“We love you. Have fun.”
“I will. Love you too. Bye.”
That had been the day that she had landed in Chicago, just as he pulled up to pick her up. It had given her that small confidence boost to get through the rest of this trip. Seeing that face was just the icing on the cake. Now here she was a week or so later and said person was sound asleep, clothes scattered all over the floor. Some hers, some were his. I think you get the hint. She stood up and stretched, arms high above her head and wandered to the bathroom to...well...clean up. Humming some old classic song a few minutes later, she stepped out of the shower and toweled herself off, walking out in a billow of steam only to find said person wide awake and playing around on his phone. When he noticed her, he turned a little onto his side and grinned.
“Well don’t you look good.”
“Haha, thanks. I figured I’d better at least take one before...ya know...I get out of this place. You do remember where you’re dropping me off right?”
“Yes, don’t worry.”
She could feel eyes on her backside as she let the towel fall to the ground, and her clothes were grabbed, being slipped on shortly after. Warm arms wrapped around her shoulders, and a kiss was planted on her cheek. She relaxed into that warmth, soaking it all in as much as she could.
“Ya can’t stay for a while longer?”
“I can’t Phoenix. If I don’t leave tonight, I’ll never make it to Cancun on time. I’ve got press stuff to do down there anyway. You know how it goes.”
“I do. Why’d ya have to pick that match of all things? Can’t you just pick weapons and beat each other senseless?”
“It wouldn’t be fun that way. It’s the first thing that popped into my head. I thought it would be a good idea. Something new. Something fun.”
“I don’t want you to lose a tooth or something.”
“OK, now you sound like my dad cause he said something similar to me a while back. Dammit ya brat, I got this under control okay? Trust in me. I didn’t pick this because it was trendy, I picked this to put on a show for the fans and to throw bodies around for a bit.”
“Sorry. I just worry, that’s all. Do we have time to get a bite to eat, hit up a couple of stores before then?”
“Yeah. So long as we hit up gamestop before we go, then I’m fine.”
“Hah, sounds like a plan. Lemme clean up and we can get out of here.”
Another kiss, then the cool breeze of sheets being thrown back and the rather tantalizing view of a tanned backside walking into the bathroom. Autumn shook her head clear and finished getting everything together, hauling her stuff out into the front room and dropping it by the door, hearing the loud thud of her duffel bag that also contained the belt that she would be defending at Paradise. There was a lot riding on her shoulders, and a lot that she had to prepare for. This little vacation was just a break in the storm that was bound to descend upon Cancun and devour everything in its path.
Several minutes later, she heard the jingle of keys and footsteps behind her.
“Let’s boogy partner. We got a town to paint red.”
“Can’t it be blue?”
The arguments continued…
“If God built me a ladder to heaven, I would climb it and elbow drop the world” - Mick Foley
The flashbulbs went off in her face as various news outlets continued to take pictures of the one and only Autumn Raven holding up her title belt with a smile on her face. An interpreter stood nearby, translating questions anyone had for her. She did this for a while longer, then bid everyone good bye, breathing a sigh of relief. At least this was one of the last things she had to do. Press things were fun, a way to get the word out about the company and a way to crow about your accomplishments while nailing your opponent to the ground...in a way. This time she had kept her mouth shut about Brandon or anything negative about him.
She wove her way through the people, through the back, and out to her little rental.
“Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
“Why would I state this as an option if I wasn’t sure? I like to challenge myself and that’s what I’m gonna do. It’s up to him to follow along or get left behind.”
“Stuff is brutal, especially this. It changes people after, don’t let it change you.”
“I’m not gonna. I’m gonna do what I do best and walk out of there with what is mine.”
The sounds of further conversation faded out, as the camera faded in to a shot of Autumn sitting cross legged in the middle of the ring, lights shining on her. The Impact Championship is sitting in her lap, lights reflecting off of the golden plates. This was the night that she had been waiting for, the chance to meet the one man who managed to make it out of those double jeopardy matches just to have a chance at her. She had been waiting for this night, training for this night, as she did for everything else. Win or lose, this was important either way.
“Beautiful Cancun, site of drinks, fantastic scenery, and this metal piece of hell you see hanging above my head.”
She pointed up to the ceiling where the camera panned to, catching sight of the infamous steel cage that had been a part of many famous matches the world over. It stayed there for a while, only coming back down once Autumn started to talk again.
“Many were wondering why in the world I chose such a monstrosity as the place where I would meet Brandon in? Why not a falls count anywhere match, or something else. I’ve had that question thrown at me quite a bit. My response to them is...why not? I’m the champion, and I had the right to choose what stipulation I wanted for this match. I chose this one. No need for weapons, because the cage itself is a weapon. It’s four sides of metal hell that tears at flesh and leaves the weak behind. It’s perfect for us...don’t ya think? The door will be locked. No way in, no way out, except for victory.”
Autumn grins, tapping the belt’s front softly.
“I’ve had time to think, time to prepare since my last defense of this title. I haven’t been lazy if that’s what you’re wondering. I knew that with the forward march of those double jeopardy matches, someone was going to be chosen as the one who would walk into Paradise with the shot at me and my title. I had to be ready for anything and anyone, no matter who it ended up being. Seriously, I applaud those who took part in it. You guys put on a hell of a show and proved your worth in the end. Unfortunately, none of you are here, but Brandon Youngblood is. He proved that he was worthy to gain this opportunity to face me, and once I knew that, I had my target and my mission. Train, focus, continue to do my best no matter if it was a win or a loss.”
Autumn glances up at the cage for a few long moments, sighing softly before looking back down again.
“Fighting is something I like doing, and in this place, I’ve had to do a lot of it. I had to prove myself that I was my own person, worthy of walking on my own and not in the shadow of some jackass. I think I’ve done a very good job so far of doing just that. I may lose one or two here and there, but that’s fine. It’s all a learning experience to me. I get back up, dust myself off and keep going. That’s all I can do. You can’t argue with that.”
She puts the title over her shoulder and stands up to her feet, pacing around in the ring slowly.
“This Impact Title...what does it mean. What does it really mean. To you it’s just something shiny you want to pawn off, to me, it’s a symbol of a person who never gives up. Who does what she has to to make an...Impact on anything and everything she touches. disOrder would still be squwaking and running around with their stupid leader still holding this belt had I not whooped his ass and sent him out of here. This means you are the best, the top around here, that you’re willing to do what it takes to walk out each and every night with your head held high. It’s not a toy, nor something that’s worth actual money. It’s something to be cherished and carried with honor. Something you might have missed.”
She paces still, growing more angrier by the minute.
“Or maybe I’m wrong about all of that. But I really haven’t seen an ounce of interest at all about this whole match from you. What is it, really? Is it because you have to face a woman, or the fact that there’s going to be a steel cage surrounding us? I want to know. Show me I’m wrong, show me that you want this chance and that you deserved to be here more than the others. I see the passion in you, the pride you take in your work. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here doing this. Are you scared about getting that pretty face scared up, or getting beat up by me. It’s probably a number of things. I don’t know, and I won’t until you say something. It’s not gonna stop me from coming up with my own reasons.”
“I’m not scared about what’s coming, I’m not. I’m going into this knowing that anything and everything can and will happen. I just...I just want to run you into this steel cage over and over again...causing you pain, making you bleed and regret every minute in there. Every word you said against me, every single thing. Regret many things, but mainly just being in there with me. I’m sure you’ll say you won’t be scared, and you’ll have your time in there, blah blah blah….NO!”
Autumn slams her fist down onto one corner of the top rope.
“No, you’ll do nothing. You’ll get in there, we’ll have our time, and then hell will descend around us. A literal paradise in hell. You’ll realize what a huge mistake it is, like they all have, to underestimate me and what I can do backed into a corner. Look at what happened to Silas, look at what’s happened to everyone up to this point. YOU are fixing to become the next sorry asshole to end up on that list all because you decided to be brave and step up to this plate. Trust me, I welcome you having the balls to step up to me, but I’m not gonna feel sorry for what I have to do to keep this belt of mine around my waist. I will make them regret giving me the opportunity to give me power over the stipulation. This will be no Paradise in Cancun. This will truly be hell on earth. I promise you that. I promise everyone that.”
She glances to the top of the ring, expecting his little Inner Circle buddies to come running for her.
“Your little group, your stable of friends won’t be able to come and save your ass this time I’m sorry to say. They’re gonna have to watch from their little corner of the world as I pick you apart piece by piece and scatter your soul over every corner of that ring. You did good by winning the Double Jepordy matches, but this is where the good luck ends. I have not done all of this preparing for nothing, just for you to prance in there and do as you please. I’ve done all of this to show you how much of a threat I am, and what lengths I’m willing to go to just to achieve victory. Just to keep...this.”
Autumn runs to the top rope and climbs up, holding up the belt, showing it off as if he can see it. Hatred and anger painted across her face.
“Brandon, I’m waiting for you. Come and get me. Hell is waiting for you, do you hear me? HELL IS WAITING FOR YOU!”