Before the set of tapings that evening, Mitch treated Sandy to an anime movie that he was unfamiliar with. While they waited in the concessions line, she explained that Studio Ghibli was Japan’s version of Disney “but better”, and he took her word for it. “Still can’t believe that you’ve never heard of Spirited Away,” she teased. Story of his life, being unfamiliar with most media that did not fit into his immediate interests. Sometimes he felt like a true acclimated American, but most times he was acutely aware of his clueless foreigner status when it came to pop culture.
What he anticipated was a cute and colorful cartoon. What he was not able to brace for were the themes of love and acceptance and perseverance, and the borderline hysterics he experienced towards the end. He covered his mouth to keep noises from escaping, and scrubbed a hand down his face before the credits rolled to keep from looking any more disheveled than usual. When Sandy asked if he liked it, she was merciful enough to hand a napkin over without making any other comments. He nodded and said that he loved it while he wiped his eyes.
Unfortunately, making extracurricular plans distracted Mitch from focusing on other priorities. He promised to handle photography that evening, since he could manage a camera with one arm; except he hadn’t done a photoshoot in almost a year, and as a result did not think to check the battery until he was at the school and in the thick of preparation. “Of course.” He slapped himself upside the head and explained the situation to Jodie. She laughed, told him to not worry since they were too close to showtime to do anything about it.
Regardless, he fretted.
“Everyone! Listen up!” Jodie shouted to the scattered roster as they were in various states of preparation. The music playing over the PA system cut off, the chattering died down, and Nathan ushered everyone to gather into a group near her. “I wanted to go over a few things before we get into it tonight.”
As expected, she talked about the tournament and how the finals were going to be taped that night. The winner would be granted a Full Moon title match The Graveyard Smash, which was about a month and a half away. Maya -aka ‘The Dark Lord’ and current champion- shouted from the back, “Good luck! This title’s never coming off of me!”
Nervous laughter broke out, but as far as anyone could tell her declaration may as well have been the gospel truth. She won the title at the last Graveyard Smash, and so far not a single person on the roster figured out how to dethrone her; in a shocking upset, she even managed to pick apart Victor. All of this was especially impressive considering that she only had a total of three years of experience under her belt.
Jodie continued once the group settled down again, saying that the Half-Moon tag titles would also be on the line at Graveyard Smash, much to the dismay of the current tag team champions ‘The Court’. Wil and Gianna -aka Puck and Mab- secured those titles only a few months back, and made several unsubtle indications that they were willing to fight dirty to retain them.
“We’re also 90% sold out of our tickets, so this is a big deal. And I want you guys to be proud of that. You all worked super hard, and I know that the months leading up to this have been extremely stressful, but I promise that it’s going to pay off.”
After a small pause for some hollering, she gave a few more updates. There would be one last night of taping in mid-October, but with only a few matches scheduled since the main focus would be on vignettes and promos. “If anyone wants to go to the campsite to do filming, let me know and we can arrange a day to bring equipment over there and get it all done at once,” she added.
She then praised Avi for his work ethic and integration into the Monument Wrestling Academy family, then forced him to join her at the helm so that, in her own words, “everyone can gawk at you”. From there, he thanked everyone for accepting him, and went over the upcoming class schedules, clarifying that his calendar would be posted on the office door so no one had to memorize it. In the most on-brand Avi way, he emphasized his gratitude for the patience extended to him since he was still getting the hang of things. As the room’s energy shifted into pre-show anxiety, guaranteeing that only a few people were even paying attention anymore, he ended his spiel by reminding everyone that personal training with him was always an option, but it needed to be arranged ahead of time. “It’s first come, first serve…” he trailed off as the tittering grew louder.
“OK, that’s it. Go get ready, do the stuff that Nate will say that you gotta do right before the show,” Jodie dismissed the crowd, and with the exception of Avi and Mitch, they all dispersed.