The cheers of the German crowd throughout the stadium sounded like rumbles of thunder as the bell ring. Once again Super Estrella Jr had proven himself by successfully defending his heavyweight wrestling championship and stood triumphant among a snowstorm of confetti and adulation.
His opponent this time was well trained and skilled but Estrella was considered the greatest wrestler to ever compete and even with what he was sure a cracked rib from a title defence in Mexico the night before, he proved that claim, cleanly defeating the massive Russian Champion Volk Zargev, the “Crimson Hurricane.”
For Estrella, the tour never stopped. As World Heavyweight Champion for the last year, he criss-crossed the globe facing challengers wherever he went, eager to wrest the gold belt from around his waist. No matter the schedule, no matter the opponent, Estrella had spent his entire life training for the ring. He was the quintessential Professional Wrestler. His brightly coloured green and silver mask and tights were recognized and respected throughout the world and often the world would come to a standstill to watch him compete on television.
As Estrella basked in the adulation of the crowd, reporters and photographers swarmed around him, eager for a perfect shot or interview with the champ. The circus followed him backstage where Estella’s manager and physicians were ready to ice the champ’s muscles and tend to the wounds he’d sustained against the ruthless Zargev. Sat in a small locker room packed with lenses and microphones, Estrella was ready to speak.
Amidst the cacophony of questions in many different languages of reporters talking over each other and the clicking of cameras, Estrella heard one question above them all he could hear a question much louder than anyone around him and in a broken form of Estrella’s native Spanish that came from a very odd little man in a cheap, ill-fitting suit and no visible press pass:
“Estrella, did you ever think you might lose tonight?”
Estrella scoffed a little before answering:
“No I never felt that I was going to lose. I have fought all kinds of wrestlers all over the world, from the high-flying Luchadors of Mexico, the technical masters of Japan & Britain and the giant brawlers of America. There isn’t a style of wrestler on Earth that I can’t overcome!”
His response was a little stilted but he knew it would be translated into every language on Earth, so it had to be succinct. Another duty of the champ was to keep the crowds coming again and again.
The odd man asked another question, this one very unexpected:
“What about wrestlers who aren’t from Earth?”
Estrella was puzzled by the question but ultimately found the words to answer the baffling question diplomatically so as not to embarrass this curious reporter:
“Well, I expect that if there were alien wrestlers, I would be able to beat them too. I am the World Champion, after all.”
The mysterious man spoke once more with a last seemingly hypothetical question, a smile creeping across his face as he did so:
“And would you be willing to put your championship up for grabs against such a wrestler?”
Estrella and his crew burst into guffaws, as did most of the bemused press all around. In between laughs Estrella answered boastfully:
“I guess I would if aliens wanted to wrestle me, I would defend my belt and become the greatest wrestler in the universe!”
And with that the odd man quietly left the room and the rest of the assembled media got to ask some more “down to earth” questions, no one giving another thought to the little man and his bizarre speech.
Weeks passed and the tour never stopped. Estrella carried on travelling the globe to face new and old opponents alike. His body ached and his spirit was starting to buckle. Everywhere he went he was hearing more and more boos among the cheers. His dominance was becoming a source of anger to fans. He couldn’t help that his skills were so far ahead of everyone he faced. He relished the challenge but wasn’t about to give up his crown without a fight.
Tonight it was Tokyo and an arena packed with fans to see Estrella once again defend his crown. His opponent was Will Ocelot, a fast rising young British star who was making his first bid at championship glory. Ocelot was making a statement too, his hybrid offense combined high flying Lucha with technical submission holds. His dives caused huge impacts as his whole body weight slammed into Estrella and in a heartbeat after connecting Ocelot would grab Estrella’s left arm and twist it into a painful hold. Ocelot’s plan was to repeatedly target the arm, weakening it to the point that Estrella would eventually have to submit and surrender his championship. Only through reaching the ring ropes and forcing the referee to break the hold each time Ocelot snapped on a hold kept Estrella in the fight.
Estrella clutched as his arm as he rested on his knees following another rope break, trying to block out the pain shooting through him and catch his breath. As he sucked in huge lung fulls of air, across the ring Ocelot was the picture of confidence, bouncing on his toes and playing to the crowd whose loyalty to Estrella was starting to waver as the match wore on. A vocal minority of the crowd had begun cheering Ocelot on amid the chorus of boos.
As Estrella struggled to his feet, shaking his injured arm to try and regain some feeling and movement to continue fighting, Ocelot scurried up one of the corner posts and balanced precariously on the top turnbuckle, a pad used to cover the bolts holding the ring ropes in place. He was readying for one last leap at Estrella, one last big body splash to claim victory and write his name in wrestling history. Estrella readied himself, hoping he had enough wherewithal to counter whatever Ocelot was about to try. Time slowed as Ocelot leapt into the air, camera flashes lit up the air like a million fireflies. Estrella had a second to react and almost automatically dashed to his left and out of harm’s way. Ocelot crashed onto the unforgiving mat stomach first, the wind being driven out of his body with violent force. A combination of skill, experience and fortune had once again given Estrella an opportunity and he was poised to take advantage and finish Ocelot.
As Ocelot clutched his stomach and tried to get to his feet he could only make it to his knees, perfect for Estrella to strike. He hooked Ocelot’s head under his arm tightly and fell backwards. As Estrella landed flat on his back, the top of Ocelot’s head was driven into the mat. This was known as the DDT, a hold Estrella didn’t create, but had mastered. From this brutal move and his failed dive, Ocelot could not muster up the strength to shrug Estrella off him as he lay across his opponent, pressing him to the mat. The referee’s hand slapped the floor 3 times and with that, Estrella was declared the winner to somewhat subdued cheers from the audience.
Estrella rose to his feet to celebrate his victory, he clutched his precious World Championship belt in the same embrace one would envelope their lover in. Confetti rained and bright lights shone down upon the ring, highlighting Estrella in his triumph.
He had little time to celebrate however as the whole arena began to shake. It was like a violent earthquake was happening and a panic took hold among the fans who dashed towards the exit. Estrella too tried to exit the ring and leave the quaking arena but before he could, the roof high above crumbled, and a massive pillar of purple light descended upon the ring, trapping Estrella within it. Before anyone could process the sight of what was happening, Estrella was being lifted into the air as if by magic. Within mere moments Estrella was lifted through the shattered roof and the light vanished as soon as he disappeared from view.
The arena then suddenly stopped shaking, leaving everyone very bemused and wondering what they had witnessed and struggling to comprehend what could have happened to Estrella.
As the blinding light faded and Estrella’s vision returned, he found himself alone in a large, empty and harshly lit white room. With his championship still in hand he frantically ran for a large door on the far wall, instinctively looking for an escape. His progress was slight however as within just a few steps, Estrella felt a massive shock of electricity run through his battered body, the force of which threw him backwards, further into the room. As his focus returned and scrabbled to find his title belt, he noticed the door opening and a surprising familiar figure stepped towards him.
“I apologize for what for you must be an unconventional journey, Mr Estrella but I’m sure a professional like you would understand the realities of long distance travel.”
Estrella was dumbstruck, it was the odd reporter who asked him bizarre questions back in Germany, except his skin was a pale blue and antennas jutted out from his forehead. Estrella began to shout and demand answers:
“WHO ARE YOU? WHERE AM I? WHAT IS THE MEANING OF ABDUCTING ME?”
The blue man smiled, slyly.
As he grinned a huge figure strode up behind him. This mysterious monster stood near to seven feet tall by Estrella’s estimation. It was incredibly muscular and had a feline like face complete with thick mane of white fur around its neck in contrast to the deep orange fur of his face. It carried itself like a fighter, yellow eyes trained on Estrella, sizing him up like a predator eyeing up its prey.
“He doesn’t look like a champion, Xival” the beast growled, it’s deep voice rumbling through Estrella’s chest. Estrella remained silent, unsure what to do in this very unusual situation.
“He won’t be any sport at all.” It said dismissively as he turned to leave, giving Estrella a low growl and a derisive snort as it did so.
The man sighed and shook his head, he then turned to Estrella to speak as he tried to straighten his suit:
“Mr Estrella, that was Ligon Felis, like you he is a great champion who has defeated everyone he has faced across the galaxy. He doesn’t seem to comprehend what good business we could do together.”
“What ‘business’ would I have with you?” Estrella growled in response. He didn’t want to reveal that he was deeply unnerved by all this, especially after his encounter with Ligon Felis.
The man clicked his fingers and the electric field audibly disappated, leaving only a sweet scent of ozone hanging in the air.
“My name is Xival Vlix, I am responsible for finding exciting fighters to compete in Wrestle Galaxy, and I think you are perfect for this year’s event.”
Before Estrella could reply, Vlix turned to leave the room, he looked back at the disheveled champion and spoke:
“Come with me Estrella, I’ll show you to your room for the journey where you can refresh yourself and then we can discuss terms later.”
Estrella still had no real grasp of what was happening but he complied and followed Vlix out of the white room. As he crossed the threshold Estrella was stunned at what he saw. Across the metal corridor was a large viewing window where he could see where he had been taken. Through the window he saw Earth, hanging in the blackness of space like a glittering blue jewel. Estella’s jaw dropped and he spent several moments staring in awe as his home grew smaller as the spacecraft he now found himself on sped away to parts unknown to him. He placed his hand on the window, leaving a sweaty palm print that was perfectly preserved in the stale, artificial atmosphere of the ship.
“Of course!” Vlix realised, “this will be your first time off your homeworld, won’t it? I forget how primitive Earth is sometimes.”
Estrella remained silently staring as Earth grew smaller and smaller, then disappeared from view.
“Come on, Estella” Vlix said, somewhat exasperated. “Let’s go.”
The walk was short but Estrella was bewildered at all the different and unusual alien crew members all around him and in turn, they were staring back at him. The irony of blue, green and purple-skinned people with myriad eyes and any number of limbs staring curiously at seeing a human being for the first time.
Vlix stopped at what would be Estrella’s cabin. As the door slid open, the wrestler peeked inside to find a lavish room complete with four poster bed that would be the envy of any hotel patron.
“I think you’ll find this more than comfortable, I researched human habitats while on Earth to meet you before. I must say I find it quaint that you people need to sleep periodically, I once had a pet that did that,” he mused.
“Anyway, rest well and we’ll discuss your match later, there’s a fresh outfit for you when you wake.”
And with that the door closed behind Estrella and locked before he could ask even the briefest of questions. Estrella made his way slowly across the plush room. He sat on the edge of the large bed that took up most of the room. His head fell into his hands after he ripped his mask off at last and the bizarre situation he now found himself in was dawning on him. Humans were not alone in the universe and their only interest in Earth was to abduct wrestlers for a show? He couldn’t quite comprehend everything but as he placed his hands on the soft bed linen, all he could think about how much he ached from the match he just had and how comfortable he was now.
The tour never stopped, Estrella couldn’t remember the last time he had slept somewhere other than an airline seat or the back seat of a car. He flopped back onto the bed and almost instantly fell asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow. Whatever was happening to him, he thought, it could wait until later.
Estrella had no idea how long he had slept but upon waking he was now sure that he was indeed onboard an alien spaceship and not just in the midst of a particularly vivid nightmare. As he sat up in his bed the room seemed aware of him and the room’s lighting gently brightened to a very comfortable level, it was all very civilised and opulent. Across the room a panel revolved and a pale grey jumpsuit and boots similar to the ones he’d seen the crew wearing hung ready for him to wear.
Estrella changed and donned his mask once more, according to the traditions of Lucha Libre, the mask was always worn in public. Before he wondered how long he’d have to wait until he could leave the room, the lone door opened upwards again, and Vlix was flush with joy now that he and Estrella could talk more.
“I trust you’re rested, Mr Estrella?”
The words seemed to ooze from his lips, there was no sincerity to his question at all, he didn’t care if Estrella had slept or not. Vlix feverishly rubbed his hands together:
“We have many wonderful things to discuss in my office.”
Estrella was used to dubious meetings with devious promoters. Every wrestling organization on Earth was run by ruthless cutthroats, promising the world to get the world champion to visit their show and fight their stars and pack their arenas. He figured that Vlix was no different, given his audacious abduction.
Vlix’s office was just as Estrella imagined, a large desk adorned with all manner of trinkets and baubles, gaudy art and posters promoting past fights hung from the walls and a bank of screens dominated the space. Each monitor showed a different wrestling match featuring a staggering array of bizarre aliens engaged in combat. Estrella was as intrigued as much as he was worried. Vlix took a seat behind his colossal and commanding metal desk and finally began to talk business with Estrella who remained standing.
“So Estrella, I expect even a lower species such as yourself has worked out why I ‘invited’ you on my ship.”
Estrella puffed out his chest in response:
“You want me to fight for you.” He said, not as a question, but a statement.
“Not just me, Estrella. The whole galaxy!” Vlix smiled as he pushed a button on his desk. Every monitor switched to play a video of Estrella speaking backstage in Germany, repeating his boast of becoming the greatest wrestler in the galaxy over and over, subtitled into a thousand different languages all unfamiliar to Estrella. Vlix continued talking:
“This has played on every single one of my broadcasts since we met. The audience doesn’t take kindly to outsiders running down their heroes. They are begging to pay any amount to see you in the ring against someone.”
“You could have just asked.” Estrella snorted.
“I have an image to maintain.” Vlix smirked as he spoke. “I am regarded as someone who will go to any lengths to obtain the greatest wrestlers wherever they may be. I can gain a lot of respect if the galaxy believes I had to hunt you down…”
Estrella finally took a seat opposite Vlix. “So I become a coward in their eyes?” he said with growing animosity. “I don’t like having my character slandered like that.”
“Don’t worry about it” Vlix said waving his hand dismissively. “It all adds to the drama, the fans love having someone to hate and I aim to please them. You lose, they’re happy. You win, they’ll keep paying to see you lose–”
“–And either way you make money,” Estrella scoffed. “Even in space, promoters are the same kind of slime.”
Vlix seemed insulted. “Well quite,” he muttered indignantly, “I suppose you’ll want to discuss your opponent and stipulations for your first match with us?”
Estrella smiled, “Finally!” He exclaimed. “I admit I’m intrigued to compete in a totally new ring.”
Vlix suddenly became excited and animated. “YES! I knew a professional like you would appreciate the unique experience I’m offering. Super Estrella Junior: the first human to compete in Wrestle Galaxy!” His mouth was practically salivating at Estrella’s willingness to compete.
“Here’s what I see…” Vlix started to babble and wander around his office: “You, the undefeated champion of Earth fighting the great “Starfang” Ligon Felis, the greatest wrestler to come from the gladiator pits of the Les’Narr Empire. Champion vs Champion, title for title!”
Vlix’s head whipped around so he was staring wide eyed at Estrella. “What say you, human? Ready to make history, win or lose?” He held out his hand, expectantly.
“Do I have a choice, out in space?” Estrella smirked as he met Vlix’s hand with his own. Vlix gripped Estrella’s hand to seal their deal. “None at all” he joked, “if you’d refused we would have cloned you & trained it to fight, anyway the fans wouldn’t know but this, this is a much better & quicker outcome.” The two shared a laugh as Estrella felt a little comfortable at last, even so far away from home. This was a world he knew, Vlix wasn’t the first promoter above promoting a fake Estrella, although his methods were slightly more advanced than putting a bootlegged mask on a trainee and hoping the fans wouldn’t notice.
Vlix got out of his chair and began bouncing around the room. His mind raced and his voice followed suit:
“By Meekmahn’s grace! There’s so much to do and no time to do it in! I’ll tell Felis the match is on for the next show, and we’ll need a press conference, a-and interviews, you’ll need a new outfit, something spectacular, a glittering entrance, music, fireworks, lights….”
He swallowed hard and calmed himself. He breathed deeply as Estrella looked on from his seat. Estrella then spoke as a fighter once more:
“I’ll need tapes of Felis in action, I want to be prepared to face him… so I can put on the best show possible.”
“Yes, yes, yes. Whatever you need. Someone will take you back to your room. We’ll be home soon and then it’s showtime!”
Vlix clapped his hands together and looked towards the ceiling as Estrella left the room. “Oh Meekmahn, you’ve smiled upon me today!” he cooed over and over.
Later, back in his room, Estrella was actually jubilant. He had longed to face new opposition. Youngsters like Will Ocelot were fine but ultimately he could always beat them, no matter their style. Here, he had something very “alien” to him, for want of a better term, now he could concentrate on this “Starfang” and the match ahead and he settled down to watch Starfang in action as he exercised, hoping to find a weakness to exploit. He felt like a young trainee in Mexico again, learning an opponent for the first time.
For hours and hours he studied as many Starfang matches as the staff could provide, watching, absorbing, hypothesizing. To Estrella’s eyes, Starfang was a magnificent fighter but a poor wrestler. Rarely did he seem to use holds or complex maneuvers, if ever. Starfang was a force of nature, a towering colossus of muscle and controlled fury and this informed him in the ring. Opponents were often blitzed with a barrage of thunderous forearm blows and palm strikes until a vicious running lariat, a hard blow to the face from the crook of Starfang’s elbow, sealed a victim’s fate and an easy pin gave Starfang another victory.
As Estrella watched matches sequentially, he was given a picture of Starfang’s entire career and he began to know Starfang as much as he knew himself. He began to notice things, things like Starfang starting to wear an supportive pad on the elbow he used to deliver his finishing blow, this told Estrella that his repeated use of the lariat was taking a toll on that joint, creating a weakness, a weakness to be exploited. That elbow support stayed all the way through the timeline up until his most recent bout and was joined by the telling signs of a knee brace on his right knee. Estrella knew that well, he’d worn one to help rehabilitate an injury while still competing during his rise up the ranks, missing matches meant missing opportunities. The downside of this protection was reduced motion in the joint, movement had to be slower, more deliberate to accommodate the brace & not aggravate the injury. That would serve Estrella well in the ring.
Estrella had his theory and plan for the match, he wondered if Starfang was studying him in such detail. He hoped that wasn’t the case as he had a few bumps and scrapes from the rigors of constant combat as a touring champion. He would have to carefully protect his own weaknesses while exploiting those of his opponent. As he thought that, a dull ache ran through the arm Will Ocelot had targeted so professionally as well an old, now healed cut on his forehead from Zargev that could be a problem if it were opened up again.
In the short time between his meeting with Vlix and their arrival at the grand space station that played host to Wrestle Galaxy, Vlix was a whirlwind of hyperbole and energy. Videos announcing Estrella’s impending match with the vaunted Starfang played on every broadcast channel in the galaxy on a loop. Press conferences were held, interviews were conducted and promises of this being an epic match of titans were made. Estrella hardly had any time to take in his surroundings but this felt familiar to him. Fly in, promote the match, compete, leave to start the process again in another town or country, that was the life of a touring champion, a life he knew well.
The blur of hype and anticipation on the floating arena meant that it was time for the big match in seemingly no time at all. Estrella was in his dressing room donning his new outfit, custom made by Vlix’s talented squad of tailors, each one a pleasant but grotesque spider like being that spun items of clothing using their own silk. The gear was magnificent, a deep emerald green with shimmering trim that changed colours as it caught the light and an opulent cape for his walk to the ring.
Underneath the glamour of his new attire, however, would be a series of very tactical decisions. Estrella often used athletic tape in place of more robust support protectors for his joints. Every application of tape was carefully considered as Estrella weighted how much support he was prepared to sacrifice and risk injury against greater movement to hopefully avoid Starfang’s heavy blows. After much deliberation he decided on full range of movement and hoped maneuverability would be the best option.
As he finished donning his ring gear complete with a brand new shimmering mask, a timid green assistant knocked on his door to tell him it was time. Butterflies the size of eagles began to flutter in Estrella’s churning stomach as he made the long walk to the entranceway, his World Championship belt adorning his waist. Starfang was already there, ready to make his big entrance. He understood the need for showmanship in wrestling and was going to take full advantage of the occasion. He looked at Estrella and sneered.
“I still can’t believe Vlix would lower himself to let a primitive like you compete. You are a sideshow, not worthy to share the same ring with me,” he growled.
Estrella said nothing, he just brushed past Starfang and the assembled technicians and through the entranceway into the arena. A chorus of boos and jeers from the partisan crowd played Estrella down the long metal ramp that cut through the masses and led to a large platform on which the ring sat. Underneath a huge transparent dome allowing a breathtaking view of a beautiful orange planet the station orbited around. Not that Estrella could enjoy his surroundings, he had a job to do.
As Estrella stood in the ring, bouncing on the balls of his feet to loosen up and shake off some nervous energy, the arena lights dimmed in anticipation of Starfang making his entrance.
Cheers and Chants serenaded Starfang down the entrance ramp, accompanied by an extravagant display of lighting and pyrotechnics. He walked slowly, stoically, milking the adulation for all it was worth. Stepping through the ropes he raised his arms,acknowledging the crowd at last as the harsh, bright lighting rose back up, illuminating the ring.
The waiting was over. A wave of excitement and nervous anticipation washed over the entire arena and could be felt by both Estrella and Starfang. After holding both fighters’ belts high to reiterate what was at stake, the robot referee took up position in the centre of the ring and both wrestlers faced each other across the ring.
It was time.
A thunderous noise went up as the bell rang, shouts of encouragement in hundreds of different languages filling the air. Not that they could hear any of it. They were only focused on each other, prowling around the ring like two preadators, assessing their opponent. The atmosphere was hyper charged with anticipation of the bout to come. Estrella and Starfang finally locked arms and the first match of the first Wrestle Galaxy match to feature a human wrestler was on.
The combatants struggled and jostled in an attempt to gain an early advantage but they seemed too evenly matched. Strarfang’s long limbs and his core strength that were the equal of the stocky Estrella. His alien physiology was confounding Estrella’s intuitions that could usually read an opponent perfectly, a human opponent anyway. Even with all his preparation and experience, he was still in an unfamiliar situation. In an attempt to gain the advantage Estrella dropped to one knee, hoping to unbalance Starfang and take him down to the mat. It didn’t work. Starfang’s musculature gave him great stability and he kept his footing, meaning he now had the upper hand. He brought his left arm down hard across Estrella’s back, the force of which caused Estrella to release his grip and crumple to the mat. Starfang took this opportunity to gesture to the crowd, earning a cheer from the masses who saw him as the hometown hero of the match. Anyone Estrella faced would be seen as such, while he was a hero on Earth, here he was the alien, the other. As Starfang posed and gestured to his audience, Estrella rose to his feet, his pride wounded more than his body. He and Starfang squared up to each other again. They locked up for a second time, and in a new tactic Estrella ducked behind his opponent and wrapped his arms around Starfang’s waist. Estrella tried lifting Starfang off his feet but Starfang was prepared and swung an elbow backwards, striking Estrella in the side of the head and again knocking him to the ground to cheers. Starfang again played to the cheers, he was used to hearing them and was relishing the chance to be adored again. This allowed Estrella to compose himself once again, clearly his usual style of grappling was ineffective against someone as powerful as Starfang. He would have to be more ruthless and less respectful if he was going to prevail here. Starfang had his back to his opponent as he continued to soak in the cheers.
He was quite unaware that Estrella was back on his feet. Estrella broke out into a run, leaping high into the air and thrust both of his feet towards the back of Starfang’s head, catching him flush. This was the dropkick, one of the first holds taught to Estrella by his trainer, and had helped score countless victories. As Starfang crashed face first to the mat, boos rained down from the stands. Performing a dropkick to the back was considered bad form, tactics of the dishonourable, the Rudo, the Heel. Estrella normally wouldn’t count himself among them but no matter what he did, the crowd would boo him anyway. They wanted a villain to hate and he was happy to oblige. Seizing control of the match, Estrella grabbed the prone Starfang and turned him into his back. He then began to rain hard forearm blows to the face over and over, each strike smashing into the face of the champion. To keep Starfang from serious injury, the android referee interjected itself, grabbing Estrella by the arm and using its mechanical strength to pull him away and allow Starfang back to his feet.
The monstrous Starfang stood up off the mat, blood trickling from his left nostril. The entire arena collectively gasped as cameras relayed that the mighty champion had been made to bleed. Starfang slowly wiped away the blood with the back of his paw, a deep crimson staining his fur. His face curled into a snarl as he and Estrella locked gazes once more after the referee released the human champion. “Still think I’m beneath you now?” Estrella bellowed from across the ring. Starfang began to be consumed by a seething rage so intense he couldn’t answer Estrella’s challenge, all he could reply with was a ferocious, beastial roar as he charged at his upstart opponent. Estrella hadn’t planned for this but he hoped he could use Starfang’s anger against him, an angry fighter often makes mistakes. Mistakes that could be exploited. Starfang let loose with a wild swing of his right arm, full of venom and bad intentions. Estrella was wise to it and managed to duck underneath the attack, feeling the air being moved by the sheer force of it. Estrella shifted his weight, Starfang’s recklessness left his body exposed to a counterattack. Estrella took a step and drove his knee into Starfang’s side with enough impact to stop the beastly champion in his tracks as the wind was violently driven from his body.
Aiming to capitalise, Estrella hooked his left arm around the back of Starfang’s head and grasped the waist of Starfang’s trunks. He planted both feet hard down onto the mat and summoned all his strength to pull Starfang up into air for a second Estrella held Starfang vertically in the air, his feet flailing helplessly in the air. Then Estella fell backwards, driving the top of Starfang’s head into the mat to complete a “Brain buster” move, a hold popular with power wrestlers from around the globe but causes damage to both combatants. Estrella had expounded a lot of energy to hoist the massive Starfang into the air and the impact of performing the move had rocked the small of his back. Both fighters lay prone for a few moments, Estrella catching his breath and Starfang trying to regain composure after his rash outburst and recover from the sharp pain he felt running down his neck from being planted head first on the mat. The crowd willing Starfang back into the fight became deafening that even in the sharp focus of battle, Estrella couldn’t ignore. Estrella was quick to his feet, hoping to press his advantage. He took hold of Starfang’s bandaged left arm and jammed his knee into Starfang’s side, this briefly silenced the crowd. He pulled on the arm, hoping to weaken it further. Starfang grimaced, grunted and trashed as he tried to escape the painful hold. Despite being dazed and in pain, Starfang was still the much more powerful of the two and used his strength to struggle back to his feet, with Estrella still gripping his arm. Estrella’s insistence on holding on to hold left him at a disadvantage and left him unable to defend against a hard slap delivered to the side of his head by Starfang using his free arm.
Estrella’s head rocked in many directions from the impact, he hadn’t experienced a blow like that before and he stumbled backwards as his vision blurred and the sounds around him melted into a watery drone. In this haze Estrella was unable to defend against retaliation from Starfang and several more heavy swipes rocked him repeatedly, the last of which knocked Estrella into and spilling over the ring ropes encircling the bout and crashing hard onto the arena floor among the photographer droids swarming around trying to capture a perfect moment of the match. They rushed to crowd around Estrella as he tried to regain his senses, which was difficult under so many bright camera flashes blinding him. He brought his hand to his brow, reaching under his mask through the eyeholes to wipe away what he thought was sweat. It wasn’t, it was blood. Starfang’s wild strikes had opened up an old cut from a prior match and it was leaking blood down his face and into his eye, obscuring his vision. He’d bled before during matches and won but it was an extra hill to climb. In the ring, Starfang was feverishly shaking out his damaged arm muscles and lessen the pain of being trapped in Estrella’s hold.
Although Starfang would never admit it, Estrella was gaining some measure of warrior’s respect from him. In all his battles, from the blooding pits of Les’Narr to now, no one had him as well scouted as this human and had the skill to frustrate him as he was in this moment.
Estrella took ages to return to the ring and when he did, his head was still spinning but he was determined to keep fighting. “If you want to beat me, you’re going to have to earn it” he said deliriously under his breath to no one in particular as he readied himself to continue fighting. This display of fighting spirit even warmed a sizeable amount of the crowd to Estrella as the hostile reception he had received thus far and a small cheer accompanied his ready stance. Starfang saw the groggy, bleeding Estrella and smiled, sensing victory he ran at Estrella, arm outstretched ready to deliver his signature lariat and end Estrella. He had fought valiantly but ultimately in vain Starfang thought, but like all the others it was time to end this. He continued to charge. Estrella put his trust in his plan as Starfang bolted towards him. His timing would have to be precise to avoid what would surely be a finishing blow but this moment is where Starfang was at his most vulnerable.
His opponent got closer, closer, closer and in a split second, Estrella dropped down, ducking Starfang’s lariat and thrust both feet with all his force at his opponent’s left knee. They landed with a large thud, the knee buckled and Starfang crumpled to the mat, clutching his knee and howling in agony. Gasps rang out from the stands, they had never heard Starfang clearly in pain, Estrella was correct, Starfang was wearing a knee brace to support an injury. With this new opening Estrella struggled over to Starfang and attempt to slap a submission hold on the hurting knee to try and force his opponent to quit by tapping his paw on the mat.
Grabbing Starfang’s leg as he lay on his back, Estrella twisted until his opponent turned over onto his stomach to try to relieve the pressure of the hold. Estrella’s training had an answer for this, however and all he had to do was kneel down. Sitting down forced Starfang’s leg to flex in it’s natural way, but the brace’s design function as a splint restricting movement to ease injury began working against its wearer, the metal hinged supports pinching flesh and digging into aching muscles. Starfang struggled and thrashed like a bucking bronco, he still had a lot of strength though.
It was taking a lot of effort on Estrella’s part to keep a grip on his opponent, making his blood pump harder and faster. This meant more and more blood running down Estrella’s face, into his eyes, blinding him and sapping his strength. The crowd became unglued as this struggle, half cheering on the upstart human on the verge of being the first to beat their dominant champion and half willing their hero to rise up and defeat the outsider. Estrella could feel himself growing weaker and weaker. With each heartbeat the world grew a little darker and further away, yet still he clung onto the hold, hoping to make Starfang tap out before he passed out.
Ultimately, his limbs became too heavy and it became impossible to maintain his grip and his hands fell to his side, limp. Finally free from Estrella’s grasp, Starfang sucked in huge lung fulls of air in a vain attempt to block out the lightning bolts of painful sensations shooting through his battered knee. He turned his head to see Estrella slumped on his knees, head down, deep crimson blood streaked down his face and chest, staining the mat. He was completely spent. Starfang struggled to his feet, aided by the ring ropes and stood in judgement of his challenger. Estrella slowly raised his head to look Starfang in the eyes. For a brief moment they stared at each other silently, unaware of the baying crowd, the lights, the pomp and circumstance. They were two fighters who had tested each others’ mettle and found respect for each other amid combat. Estrella struggled and managed a smile at Starfang, who smiled back, “You earned it.” he said, then fell onto his back unconscious. Starfang placed a foot on Estrella’s chest and the referee counted the sombre pinfall.
The bell rang and the crowd cheered in acceptance of Starfang’s victory. Physicians rushed the ring to tend to Estrella as dignitaries lined up to congratulate Starfang on winning and present him with both his and Estrella’s championship belts. He held them aloft for the fans to cheer and the cameras to capture, then limped backstage with little posturing and celebration. The biggest ovation was saved for Estrella as he regained and was being helped leave by the medical staff. His fortitude and skill had earned the respect of the entire crowd who applauded his losing effort all the way up the aisle. A new star had been born in the fans’ eyes.
Backstage, Vlix was ecstatic. The cheers were still going on and filling the entire arena. Real time viewing data was positive, fan chatter was singing the praises of the main event and everyone was feeling a buzz of enthusiasm. Back in the dressing room, Estrella was being tended to by medical staff when Vlix joined him to offer congratulations on his performance and commiserations on losing his championship.
“You’ve made quite an impact here tonight, even Starfang is talking highly about you to the press. It’s a shame you’ll have to go back home empty handed…”
Estrella interrupted, “Who says I’m going back?” Vlix was taken aback. He struggled to comprehend Estrella’s words, Estrella continued before Vlix could speak as a doctor reached under his mask to apply a healing gel to the cut on his forehead.
“Back home I was losing my passion on top, here I can start again. Others will rise and take my place, there’ll be other champions, other championships. I want a rematch, I want my belt back and I’ll go through everyone you have to get it.”
Vlix positively beamed with delight at Estrella’s proclamation. He saw a future of massive paydays thanks to this new superstar and his quest for redemption. He placed a hand on Estrella’s shoulder and grinned again:
“I think this is the start a beautiful friendship.”
Martin S Dixon. (@BunnySuicida)
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