Nathan Paradine: "The most important thing when you're in this ring... is that you're prepared to do whatever it takes to win. Well, that's the most important thing for me anyway. For you lot, the most important thing is to try and last one minute before pinned at this stage."
The scene opens on "The Australian Submission Machine" Nathan Paradine standing in the middle of the training ring at the Hostility Battle Academy, facing his class who are seated on folding chairs on the floor outside. The class has shrunk again, from eight to six; after the first two classes, two students abruptly stopped turning up. That hasn't affected the morale of the others though, who stare up at Paradine with rapt attention.
Nathan Paradine: "You, Elric. Get up in here with me."
Paradine gestures towards one of the students, a blonde male in his late teens who eagerly jumps to his feet and smooths his faded old Hostility shirt before sliding into the ring. Elric clambers to his feet and Paradine motions for him to initiate a lock up.
Nathan Paradine: "I want you to try and last a minute here with me, alright? Do whatever you have to do, I don't give a damn about you cheating."
Elric nods and siezes Paradine by the shoulders, as the Australian stands nearly a head taller than him. Paradine forces his arms away and delivers a quick forearm that drives Elric to his knees, but the student surprises his trainer by headbutting him in the midsection. Paradine reels backwards but retaliates with a savage kick that knocks Elric down to the mat. Elric attempts to scramble back to his feet but Paradine pounces, grabbing a leg and applying an ankle lock that results in Elric tapping the mat frantically. Paradine relents the hold and helps his student to his feet, clapping him on the arm before motioning for him to take a seat again.
Nathan Paradine: "You're all learning quickly. Nice work with the headbutt Elric, but if I were you I would have moved to the ropes to try and create a bit of breathing room. Remember, you need to capitalise on every opportunity you have, but if your opponent has a lick of sense they'll be looking to do the exact same thing. Be wary."
The students all nod and murmur amongst themselves and Paradine takes a moment to drink deeply from a water bottle. Three weeks in and each of his remaining students are showing promise, admittedly some more than others. Each one has picked up the basics of bumping and grappling, and now he's attempting to teach them some "ring smarts".
Shelby: "Excuse me? Nathan?"
Paradine lowers the drink bottle and peers at one of his students, a girl named Shelby. She's quiet and unassuming, at least until she steps into the ring as both Paradine and his co-trainer Simon Marks have noted that she displays a fiery tenacity when it comes to professional wrestling. She brushes a strand of mousy-brown hair from her face before standing up from her chair.
Shelby: "I know you've said you w-want us to go over the basics, but I was w-wondering... when will we be developing characters?"
Paradine raises his eyebrow at this question and the murmuring amongst the students resumes. Paradine approaches the ropes and leans against the top rope, and the murmuring ceases immediately.
Nathan Paradine: "That's an unusual question, Shelby. Why do you think you need a character?"
Shelby: "W-well... there were a lot of characters in Hostility. Ozric Mortimer, and Talon, and Reaper..."
Nathan Paradine: "Oh? They were characters, were they? Because last time I saw him, Ozric Mortimer was a fucking loony. What you saw was what you got with that guy, he went around dressed like a clown because he was insane. The same goes for Talon, the man was so uptight you'd think there was a stick up his ass. You watch professional wrestling and you think you see characters? Sure, some people act one way when the cameras are rolling and then another when they stop. But even more become wrestlers because it's the only profession that will tolerate their eccentricities."
Another hand shoots up, and Paradine sighs.
Nathan Paradine: "Yes, Sabrina?"
Sabrina: "So you're saying... you're not playing a character? What happens to you on television... actually happened to you?"
Paradine narrows his eyes as he looks at Sabrina. What she lacks in wrestling ability she makes up for in wit, and she's far too clever by half. She might not make it as a particularly successful wrestler, but she'd excel at being a manager one day.
Nathan Paradine: "What's your point?"
Sabrina: "All that stuff that's happened to you... getting fired, being humilated by Lindsay Troy, nearly getting killed by Xander Daniels... I didn't think that was actually your life. How could you keep letting this happen to you! I thought you just played an insecure, cocky asshole... you're not really like that, are you?"
Paradine raises his arms and lets them fall to his sides.
Nathan Paradine: "Ta, thanks for that Sabrina. Really encouraging."
Sabrina blushes, obviously abashed. She slinks back down to her chair, and Paradine sighs.
Nathan Paradine: Alright, alright. You want to create a character? Let's see... you! Luther! What's your last name?"
Paradine points out a male with long brown hair and the start of a beard, a handful of years older than the rest of the class. He points his thumb at himself and mouths "me?", at which Paradine nods.
Luther: "Graves, sir. Luther Graves."
Nathan Paradine: "Alright, if you could be anything in the world, what would you be?"
Luther: "A professional wrestler."
Nathan Paradine: "Apart from that!"
Luther: "There's nothing else, sir. As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a wrestler."
Paradine scratches his chin.
Nathan Paradine: "Mate I'm going to give you twenty seconds to come up with a professional wrestling character, or else everyone is going to be getting nothing but stretching sessions for the rest of the day. Go on, I'm waiting."
Luther looks around at his classmates, who shrug. He knuckles his forehead desperately, until Paradine finally clicks his tongue.
Nathan Paradine: "Time's up! What have you got?"
Luther: "I'm... I'm... Luther G, the wrestling rapper. I'm... bringing hip hop back to the ring, yo?"
Nathan Paradine: "Alright, good idea but terrible execution. You can't have a full first name and then just an initial for a last name, it sounds stupid. Just call yourself Graves, or something."
Luther: "Why is an initial instead of a last name stupid?"
Nathan Paradine: "Right, look. This week, I'll be wrestling a guy named Danny B, alright? Does that sound in the least bit threatening to you? The bloke calls himself The Ripper too, but all I think is Danny B and it makes me laugh. And I shouldn't be laughing, you know why?"
Luther: "Why is that, sir?"
Nathan Paradine: "Because Danny B is twenty nine years old and yet he's apparently one of the best wrestlers in the world. He's certainly done plenty here in the CWF, if I was going up against anyone else with his resume I'd be doing more to prepare than training you lot. But I hear the name Danny B, and I think to myself if he doesn't even have a full last name, how threatening can he really be?"
Sabrina: "Actually, I watched that guy on Evolution two weeks ago, he took Tom Marrow apart in their tournament match."
Nathan Paradine: "Sabrina, sweetheart, I took Tom Marrow apart last time we were in the ring together. Trust me, it isn't hard to get a win over a beaten dog. And in his first match, he wrestled Duce Jones to a time limit draw. You know what that tells me? It tells me that maybe Danny B is more Danny Boardroom than Danny Bigshot these days."
Another hand shoots up from the students, this time it's from Viv who is the last remaining girl in the class.
Viv: "Uh, is this promo class now?"
Nathan Paradine: "No, this is character development class. Danny B can go out and shoot a promo and go over the same tired rhetoric each and every week, because he refuses to change as a person. Is he going to grow into an old man complaining about being unappreciated? Probably! He's the author of his own story, but he's stuck rehashing the same old lines. Surprise me, Danny. It'll be the first impressive thing you've done since you came back, in all honesty."
Shelby: "I'm confused. Is this... your character development?"
Nathan Paradine: "Oh no, dear Shelby. It's Danny who needs the development, I'm just hoping to give him a little nudge in the right direction, preferably courtesy of the Mark of Judas. Class is over for today, I think I need to get myself into the right frame of mind for Evolution. All of you have homework, create a character for tomorrow with Simon. I'm sure the results with be... interesting, if there's a person who knows how to put on a show it's that man."
Paradine pops the lid on his drink bottle and takes another sip as the students begin to gather their things. Can the Hostile Exile recoup his early loss in the Alpha and Omega Tournament, or will the threat of Danny B be too much for him to overcome?