There's the running patter of footsteps, followed by a whoosh of air and then a dull thud. The scene opens on the training ring at the Hostility Battle Academy, where "The Australian Submission Machine" Nathan Paradine is standing over his young student Luther Graves with his hands on his hips, panting slightly from exhertion. Graves his curled up on the mat groaning, clutching the small of his back as he attempts to roll himself out of the ring.
Nathan Paradine: "Yeah, you need to watch out for that. Run the ropes, sure, but if you try to do it a second time you're gonna get caught with something nasty. Case in point; you just took my ParaPlex like an old pro."
Luther Graves: "That isn't really comforting. It hurt like a bitch."
Nathan Paradine: "That's why it wins matches, kid. I've won title belts with that move, but over time I transitioned to the Mark of Judas. Now that's the real match ender for me these days, the ParaPlex is just the means to an end."
Luther Graves: "Can I ask you something?"
Nathan Paradine: "Sure, shoot."
Graves sits up, still wincing. He massages the small of his back as he looks up at Paradine to speak.
Luther Graves: "Why is it called the Mark of Judas? What the hell even is a Mark of Judas?"
Paradine chuckles and extends a hand to help Graves to his feet. pulling him to his feet with a small grunt before replying.
Nathan Paradine: "You want the real truth? I just thought it sounded cool. First time I used it was when I turned on Cody Williams, and we were a tag team. I thought it was appropriate, and I just never stopped using the move."
Luther Graves: "Maybe I should develop a submission move as a finisher."
Paradine steps out of the ring and descends the stairs to walk to a cooler near the training mats. He opens it and produces two bottles of water, one of which he throws to Graves and the other he keeps for himself. He unscrews the cap and drinks deeply.
Nathan Paradine: "You're, what, just shy of two hundred pounds?"
Luther Graves: "Little bit under last time I checked."
Nathan Paradine: "And you're shorter than me, but you're fast. Damn fast, when you want to be. Use that speed to your advantage. You can fly across the ring if you wanted to. Me? I'm not as fast, so I stay on the ground and pound 'em until I can make 'em tap. Slow and methodical, just how I like it. You've got a different skill set so use that to your advantage."
Graves leans over the top rope and stares at his water bottle without drinking from it.
Luther Graves: "Wouldn't I be better off trying to develop a complete skill set? I mean, you don't do dives but you tried it out on Evolution against Freddie Styles, I saw it."
Paradine shrugs as he screws the cap back on the water bottle. The kid has a point, even though he'd usually be loathe to admit it.
Nathan Paradine: "Yeah, I did. It was a desperate move and it probably cost me the match, which I why I don't do it. Play to your strengths Luther, and disregard your weaknesses. You can't go wrong that way. I mean, take this Joseph Svenson guy I'll be wrestling this week. He's nearly sixty pounds lighter than me and nearly twenty years younger. Does it sound like he'll be a real threat to me?"
Luther Graves: "Probably not."
Nathan Paradine: "Probably not, no. But there's a harsh lesson I learned over the years and it is that you never, ever guarantee victory. I still slip up every now and then and it makes me look like a fucking idiot. Want to know why you don't do it?"
Luther Graves: "No, but I have a feeling you're about to tell me."
Nathan Paradine: "Because winning is never guaranteed in life. So even though Joseph Svenson hasn't won a match in the Alpha and Omega Tournament and his only CWF victory was in a tag team match with two former CWF champions, I'm not going to proclaim that my victory is guaranteed. Because, on the off chance that something happens and he does beat me... well, I come off looking bad. Keeping my mouth shut is the best thing I can do. I'm confident in my ability to beat him because I play to my strengths."
Luther Graves: "That was a lot of talking for something that basically boiled down to 'don't give away my match strategy'".
Paradine chuckles again and throws the half-empty water bottle at Graves in mock anger, narrowly missing his head.
Nathan Paradine: "Yeah right, dickhead. There's more to it than that. I was trying to be humble, I know I can beat anyone on the roster. Especially now that they've got all this new blood coming in."
Luther Graves: "They've signed new wrestlers?"
Nathan Paradine: "Yeah, and don't think I've forgotten about talking to Rishel about you because I haven't. I'm just trying to lay low at the moment after that business with trying to win the Openweight Championship at Evolution. It'll blow over, and then I'll see if I can get you some sort of development deal."
Luther Graves: "Right. If you say so."
Nathan Paradine: "Come on, don't be like that! You want to develop a submission move so badly? Let's see what we can do."
The scene comes to an end as Paradine climbs back into the ring, dodging a retaliatory pelt from Graves' water bottle as he steps between the ropes. As Evolution draws closer, Paradine will attempt to play catch up and try to stay alive in the Alpha and Omega Tournament... but should he be more concerned with Jaiden Rishel after his antics last week?