"We would be fighting in a ring?" the young woman inquires, an eyebrow arched in anticipation of undesirable news.
"Of a sort," comes the reply. "The gentleman in question has installed four steel posts in the center of his mansion's living room, to which will be attached sets of three ropes on all sides. Actually, 'ropes' is hardly the appropriate term. They will be rubber cables, wrapped in velvet. Sturdy, but hardly the steel riggings ordinarily used in professional wrestling. The surface will be the room's carpeting, not mats or canvas. The ring will naturally contain the action to a confined space, but it will also allow for maintenance of tag team
protocol, with a member of each team outside of the ring in their respective
corners at all times."
Furrowing her brow, the blond beauty says, "It all sounds a bit gimmicky."
"My dear, in the history of everything, all momentous triumphs are, at heart, a gimmick," the man counters. "That shouldn't detract from the fact that this will be a very significant event, and that you can be a part of it. A crucial part."
"Who else then?" she pointedly asks.
"Our host was rather specific as to whom he would like to see featured in this inaugural match," the gentleman says. "He has suggested that you team with the American, Michelle Trachtenberg."
The blond nonchalantly nods her head upon hearing this. The idea of pairing her up with Trachtenberg makes sense. They had somewhat recently fought one another, and in the course of their match, it became obvious that they had highly similar...and complimentary...styles. As a team, they could be formidable... depending on just who they would be facing, of course.
"And our opponents?" she requests.
This was the moment he had been waiting for, the instant when he would hook her into the whole scheme. "Well, to begin with, Natalie Dormer."
That got Keira Knightley's immediate attention, and she sat bolt upright in her chair. She had been chasing Dormer for months, demanding a match. And in that very same battle with Trachtenberg...engineered by Dormer..."Nastily" had intervened and made fools of both Keira and Michelle. The blonde's blood burned to get her hands on Dormer, and now, it seems, the opportunity was presenting itself.
After nearly a full minute of silence, during which Knightley remained deep in thought, the man...a wealthy industrialist and one of England's leading elite catfighting impresarios...tried to gauge her thoughts by the look upon her face. But the blond remained inscrutable...although her eyes blazed with antipathy and anticipation.
Finally, the beauty broke the silence by asking, almost languorously, "And who will be her partner?"
"I believe arrangements are being made to acquire the services of Esha Deol," the gentleman says. That also got Keira's interest. She had heard the stories of how Deol had dominated the catfight circles in her native India, until she was finally banned from competition there because of how she would both physically punish and psychologically humiliate her opponents. Rumor had it that she was looking to enter the ranks of Europe's fighters...a notion which gave some women there second thoughts about continuing their combative hobby.
Dormer and Deol. Potentially one of the most devastating pairings imaginable. And two women who are more than capable, in spite of the blonde's skills, to put an end to Keira's catfighting career in a most painful manner. Wisdom dictated that Knightley give this situation a great deal of consideration before making her final decision.
"I'll do it," she says without hesitation.
"Excellent," the man says with a smile. "An associate of mine met with Ms. Trachtenberg in Los Angeles last evening, and she also has earnestly agreed to participate. And if I may dare say so, I expect this to be a most memorable night's event."
"You may...and it will," Keira impassively said, her thoughts already drifting to the battle to come.
She had beaten everyone she had ever faced...eventually, at least. Johansson owned a couple of wins over her, but in their last encounter, the brunette had decisively owned her nemesis.
So why couldn't she beat Natalie Dormer, Michelle asked herself?
'Because she cheats' is the ready answer. And yet, so many of Trachtenberg's opponents ignored the rulebook, and the brunette was still able to vanquish them.
But not Dormer. The Brit had beaten Michelle in their previous encounters, and had capped off each victory by administering the humiliation of finishing off the brunette with her own signature move, the Facesit. As a result, there was a new corollary in conversations among the aficionados of the elite catfight spectacle on both sides of the Atlantic:
"Michelle Trachtenberg is maybe the best fighter today...except for Natalie Dormer."
Almost as galling: "Trachtenberg has the best ass in the sport...except for Dormer."
Perhaps the unkindest cut of all was when she overheard a male friend of hers at a club one night, extolling the virtues of Dormer. As to why Michelle seemed incapable of beating the Englishwoman, the young man concluded, with an air of authority, "Natalie is Trachtenberg Kryptonite... there's just something about her that Michelle can't overcome."
As crazy as it sounds, maybe he's right. Maybe there's something about Dormer that always gives the Brit the edge over the brunette. Maybe Michelle will never be able to beat her.
But the only way to find out for sure is to face her...as many times as it takes. She would have preferred another one-on-one battle with her bête noire, but Trachtenberg readily agreed to this rather harebrained-sounding tag team match, because it meant that she would get her hands on Dormer again. Let Keira deal with this Esha Deol, whoever she is...the only business that interests Michelle is Natalie.
You'll be making history, she was told.
"Of course I will be," came her matter-of-fact reply. "I frequently do."
The opportunity to partake in something entirely new in catfighting was intriguing. The idea of getting her hands on both Knightley and Trachtenberg again was just too good to pass up.
Her thoughts travel back to the match between those two insipid tarts, the one she herself had arranged. Like a grandmaster, Dormer manipulated the chess pieces precisely as she desired. And, once the spectacle of seeing the two of them clumsily grapple with one another grew tiresome, Natalie injected herself into the fray and promptly thrashed them both. As if there would have been any doubt as to that inevitability.
The only uncertain thread in this new tapestry was Deol. As a habit, Natalie prefers to rely on no one other than herself, but in this instance, a partner would be necessary, and thus be tolerated...so long as she doesn't hinder the Englishwoman's performance, of course.
Esha Deol, like Natalie Dormer, is vain, vicious and arrogant...and also supremely talented as a catfighter. Two such massive egos as theirs attempting to work harmoniously together spelled nothing but impending disaster. And yet, almost miraculously, when they finally met, they hit it off famously. Perhaps it is because they are so much alike, and thus better able to understand one another. Or, maybe they both have taken heed of the old adage about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer; no better way to size up a potential future threat than to observe her first hand, after all. Whatever the case may be, they formed a fast acquaintanceship...and that spelled trouble for anyone hoping to drive a wedge between the tempestuous teammates.
As for the upcoming match itself, as far as "Nastily" was concerned, the only lingering question was what she would wear.
Too sadistic, they had called her. And gleefully so, she would hasten to add. They were all a pack of hypocrites, anyway...those men of power and influence, who brought together beautiful women to battle it out for their pleasure. They pitted Deol against her opponents, then complained over the fact that she was so effective at the task of dispatching those women.
If there were a caste system based upon supremacy of spirit, then Esha, in her opinion, would be an earthly goddess, a Brahman...and those fools who would dare pass judgment upon her, who would dare to banish her from India's catfighting circle, were little more than Dalits; untouchables.
Her undoing had been the match against Aishwarya Rai, who had been venerated as a catfighting legend in India. Deol was singularly unimpressed with the "legend," and she proceeded to demonstrate that blasé estimation by handing Rai the most stunning defeat of her career. Actually, defeat is too weak of a word. Esha utterly destroyed Rai, vanquishing her as a fighter, humbling and humiliating her as a woman, and forcing Aishwarya to beg and plead for mercy. So thorough was her devastation, Aishwarya retired from the sport in shame. It had unsettled the rajas who had worshipped at the throne of Rai, and with their wealth and authority, they managed to have their heroine's conqueror exiled from their precious little clique. She was better off without them, and away from India. Now it was time for the rest of the world to discover her magnificence.
And should Knightley and Trachtenberg suffer the same fate as Rai, was Deol prepared to deal with those consequences again?
In a gleeful heartbeat.
Michelle and Keira both arrived in Montreal five days prior to the match, and spent much of those five days working out together, discerning what parts of their skills meshed easily, and what needed focusing on. Lacking access to the customized ring they would be wrestling in, they instead rented for the week a gym with a standard wrestling ring in it...modified by having a layer of carpeting placed over the mat, to better simulate the battlefield conditions they would face.
Fighting in the confined spaces of a ring was an odd sensation for women used to roaming the large rooms of immense mansions, and who had the freedom of throwing an opponent across the arm of a chair, or slamming her into a wall. Now, they would have to learn to work within a much smaller sphere. But the ring offered opportunities which a room itself did not. Knightley and Trachtenberg learned to bound off of ropes for added momentum, and to scale turnbuckles in order to leap upon an opponent from above. As both had gymnastic backgrounds, such feats of agility came naturally to them and, they hoped, it would give them an edge over their opponents.
And thankfully, the two young women proved to be compatible personally. Although they hadn't necessarily become friends, they did like and respect one another. And, more importantly, they came to trust one another as partners. In the crucible of battle, it was vital that each knew the other was there to watch her back. The slightest hesitation of that fact could spell their doom against opponents as canny and opportunistic as Dormer and Deol.
To relieve themselves of the pressure of constant training, the girls took several hours off the day before the match, first to shop for match attire (they settled on matching one-piece suits..."virginal white," as they joked), then to pamper themselves with a trip to the spa, enjoying massages to work out the last few kinks in their muscles.
Come what may, they would be at their absolute peaks, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Natalie and Esha were also in Montreal that week, and also training. They likewise had rented a gym for their use, and they also learned how to work within the confines of a ring. Perhaps not surprisingly, they took delight in learning all of the ways an opponent could be tied up in and strangled by the ropes. They also became conscious, when working over an opponent, of staying far enough away from the other team's corner in order to prevent their victim from tagging out.
For their attire, they eschewed matching garments as "too inane for words," Deol opted for a pink and black g-string (when her partner pointed out just how tenuous such garb could be in a fight, the Indian replied, "I hope so. Clothes are too restrictive."), while Dormer opted for a somewhat more conservative dark crimson one-piece...if by 'conservative' one takes into account the low cut cleavage and high cut bottom, both displaying her breasts and derriere to their best advantages.
Parallel with Michelle and Keira, Natalie likewise indulged in an afternoon at a posh spa the day before the match. Esha, however, declined to be similarly "coddled," and spent her day at her hotel in the company of a professional hockey player she met at a nightclub the evening before..."Building stamina," she claimed with well-concealed irony.
The stage was set, the combatants ready. Now all that remained was for the battle itself to begin.
The demands for attendance to this momentous event were, understandably, considerable. Ordinarily, the host has the pleasure of selecting who will be among the privileged few, but in this instance, with so many prominent individuals vying for the relatively few seats, it was decided that it would be fairest to choose the spectators by a lottery system. That done, plans were then undertaken to properly prepare for the affair itself.
To say that the result was nothing short of lavish would be an understatement. Almas caviar was heaped into sterling silver tureens, Perrier-Jouet champagne (direct from Paris at €4100 a bottle) flowed like water, and all of the Australian lobster and Kobe steak one could want was there for the asking.
The room where the match itself would take place was large and elegant, with a private gallery of Impressionist paintings adorning the walls. But what instantly drew the eye was the rather incongruous sight of a ring in the center of the room. Indeed, as promised, it consisted of four steel poles sunk into the floor, with velvet-covered rubber ropes on all sides. In lieu of canvas, the floor was covered with a very plush white carpet.
The four combatants arrived shortly after dinner, and briefly mingled with the crowd (each team giving the other a wide berth), and then they repaired to the bedrooms reserved for them, so as to prepare.
In their shared room, having donned their one-pieces, Michelle and Keira sat in front of dual vanity mirrors as they applied their make-up. For the first time since they each agreed to this match, they revealed some slight apprehension about it all.
"You nervous?" asked Michelle as put on black eye liner.
"A bit," said Keira as she uncapped a tube of lip gloss. "There's a lot riding on tonight."
"Mm-hmm," the brunette murmured in agreement. Neither beauty had to be told what a tremendous setback to their careers a loss of this magnitude could be. They wouldn't simply be one-half of the combatants of the first catfight tag team match...they would be the first losers of such a match. And for the brunette in particular, there was the dread of having to endure yet another loss to Dormer; she wasn't sure her reputation could withstand it.
Without taking her eyes off of her mirror image, and mustering up all of the nonchalance she could, Trachtenberg then says, "I guess we'll just have to kick their asses then."
With a wry smile, Knightley replies, "Spot on."
Then came the knock on the door, and the partners were led through a wing of the sprawling mansion to the ballroom. There, they were met by the rapturous cheers of the elite spectators, and Michelle and Keira could not help but smile and blush a bit. Stepping into the ring, they each clasped a hand of the other and held those arms up in a show of impending victory.
Suddenly, all eyes turned to the doorway, where Natalie and Esha now made their entrance. The smiles on their faces were not those of gracious women grateful for the applause now lavished on them, but rather the sly grins of predators on the prowl. They walked slowly toward the ring, letting the eyes of the onlookers soak up their lush bodies. And they made the most of stepping between the ropes, likewise doing it slowly and giving the crowd an extended view of their behinds as they bent forward at the waists. The sultry Dormer and the exotic Deol made the most of their entrance, to be sure.
And in their corner, arms folded disapprovingly across their chests, Knightley and Trachtenberg could only harrumph in disgruntlement at being upstaged. Each silently swore this would be the only triumph their adversaries would take away on this night.
The ombudsman joins the four in the ring, thanks the assembled guests for attending (as if any of those in the crowd would not have given their eye teeth to be there), and then turns his attention to the combatants. "Ladies, you are aware of the rules of this match...such as they are. You are expected to tag in and out of the ring. We will not permit anyone other than the legal women being in the ring at any one time...unless, of course, we feel it is worthwhile," he added with a crooked smile and a wink.
"Unless any of your have any questions, please select your starting wrestlers, and we shall begin."
Both teams having discussed it privately in advance, Keira would begin the match for her team, while Esha would start off for hers. That disappointed the blond a bit, because she had been so eager for so long to get her hands on Dormer. But this was precisely what Deol had been hoping for, as the Indian has been most anxious to begin her catfight career in the West by destroying the quintessential Englishwoman.
Keira and Esha cautiously circled one another. Then, the Indian stops, and with a taunting grin on her face, raises her right hand up to silently challenge for a test of strength. But the Englishwoman isn't walking into that trap...her larger, more muscular foe would clearly dominate such a contest from the very start, and that decidedly is not the way Knightley intends to commence this match.
Instead, the blond suddenly ducks and lunges, grabbing the copper-skinned battler behind the knees with her hands and, with a yank, puts the startled Deol on her back. Swiftly rolling Esha over onto her stomach, Keira folds her opponent's legs back at the knees, crosses the ankles, and secures a simple but effective leglock.
Deol grunts...not so much from pain, but more from the frustration of being caught so quickly. She strains in an attempt to force her legs free, but even before she begins the effort, she knows it is doomed to failure. Yet, while the Englishwoman is focused on keeping the hold applied, it grants Esha a few more moments to divine a new plan.
Resting for a moment, the Indian then plants her palms to the carpeted floor and pushes her torso up as she makes another apparent attempt to power out of the hold. This time, her potent limbs almost do seem capable of forcing themselves to freedom, which causes the blond to increase the pressure on them by leaning forward, gaining greater leverage.
But that is precisely what Deol wished her to do. With viper speed, the brunette twists at
the waist, allowing her left arm to reach back and, with a handful of golden tresses, pull the startled Knightley back, dragging her to the floor alongside Deol and breaking the hold.
And before Keira can react, Esha has her left arm wrapped tight around her in a side headlock...and, for added measure, the exotic beauty's right hand clamps on a 'Calcutta Clench'...a choking clasp of the blonde's windpipe. Knightley's legs kick frantically as she is painfully strangled by the callous move.
How the English grappler responds is far from refined, but in an instance such as this, desperate measures are called for. With her right hand, she blindly reaches over Deol's head and gropes at her face, hooking two fingers into the Indian's nostrils and jerking her head back! Esha yowls from the peculiar pain, and instinctively releases her own hold in order to grab at her foe's wrist and free herself.
Gasping and panting, Keira pulls her hand free of its unusual handhold and quickly rolls to a neutral corner of the ring, where she stands up, right hand rubbing her throat. Deol likewise gets to her feet, and once more the two combatants start to circle.
From her corner, Michelle offers her partner words of encouragement. "Come on, Keira...she's used up all of her tricks already. Show her how it's done!" Perhaps emboldened by her partner's cheery American optimism, the Brit suddenly gets aggressive, feinting to her left, and when Esha takes the bait, grabbing the black-haired battler's left hand and twisting her limb in a textbook wristlock.
Doubled over at the waist and grunting as she slaps her shoulder to dull the ache a bit, Deol plants her feet and, trying to force the pain from her mind, attempts to power out of the hold and reverse it. But Keira is having none of that. An extra twist of the wrist puts a halt to the Indian's attempt; then, adding even more to her adversary's discomfort, Knightley lifts her right leg and steps over Deol's shoulder, ratcheting up the pain by many degrees as her arm is now bent beyond its natural radius, bringing forth a whine from the victim.
There are no urges of encouragement from Esha's corner. Standing just outside of the ring, Natalie watches this transpire with a remote gaze tinged with a hint of disapproval. Had she chosen wrong in accepting Deol as her partner? If the Indian proves to be the cause of their defeat, the haughty Brit silently pledges, she would deal with her in a manner that Deol would not find pleasant.
A strategy has formed in Knightley mind, meanwhile: She will focus her attack on her adversary's limb, weakening it to the point where the Indian's physical prowess will be compromised and all-but-eliminated as an asset for her team. For the next several minutes, the blond expertly attacks the appendage...twisting it, bending it, driving her knee against the elbow, slamming her own elbow just below the shoulder. Every attempt which Deol makes to try and escape is thwarted, and she is made to endure even more pain.
Finally, shifting her attack so as to keep her opponent off-balance, Keira suddenly starts to whip Esha toward the ropes, intent on having her rebound off of the vulcanized cables into a clothesline. But the plan goes awry as Deol manages to plant her feet and halt her momentum, then abruptly reverses things, and it's the blond who is thrown off of the ropes! Physics overtake the Brit and she recoils against the ropes and ricochets back toward her adversary...and is met with a clothesline that lifts her off of her feet before her entire body is deposited to the plush carpeting with a heavy thud.
Perhaps even more impressive than her sudden turnaround of the match is the fact that Deol managed to deliver that clothesline with her left arm...the limb supposedly rendered useless by Keira's concentrated attack. But now, even as she massages the shoulder with her right hand and rotates the arm in a small circle to help restore circulation, Esha's wing seems none the worst for wear. "You will have to do much worse than that feeble little attempt if you wish to hurt me, Englander," the Indian sneers in contempt.
And from her corner, Dormer gives a tight but satisfied smile. Her faith in her partner, it would seem, had not been misplaced.
Propping herself up on her shoulders, Keira shakes her head to try and clear the sudden fog away...a task made all the harder by a sharp kick to the side of her skull, courtesy of the brunette's foot. Her foe suitably dazed, Esha has all of the time in the world to press her advantage, and she takes a few moments to determine what torture she would most like to inflict. The sudden upturn of the corner of her mouth indicates that the perfect option has presented itself to her.
Upon first agreeing to this match, the Indian had promised to crush her enemies...and that is now precisely what she proposes to do to Keira. Hauling the Brit up to her feet by her hair, Deol wraps her arms around the blond, snaring her in a powerful bearhug. Arms pinioned to her sides, Knightley first winces as the pressure is applied, then whimpers, and finally moans, as the impressive power of her Asian rival squeezes her ribs and presses against her spine, slowly and agonizingly wringing the strength from the lithe beauty's body. In an even more impressive display, Deol then lifts Knightley's feet off of the floor, holding the embattled blond aloft as she continues to crush her!
Perspiration glistening across her flesh as the effort to squeeze her opponent into oblivion delineates the muscles of her mighty figure, Esha looks for all the world like a Hindu goddess of war, prepared to rain destruction down upon the head of her enemy.
Were this to continue for several minutes more, there is no doubt that...barring a miracle...Keira would be finished. However, although she is loath to admit it, Deol realizes that her opponent had indeed done some lingering damage to her arm, and that limb now starts to tremble ever-so-slightly as the incredible demand she places upon it takes its toll. Needing more time to recover, she opts to release her bearhug.
Keira's near-limp body sags downward like that of a rag doll, the blonde's face burying itself in the cleavage of her rival's copious bosom; were Deol's hands still not holding her under the armpits, the Brit would doubtless sink to the floor in a puddle of agony. Seeing her foe so helpless brings out the playful side of the raven-haired fighter. She spins Keira's body around and wraps her arms around the blonde's waist from behind, then 'walks' her closer to Knightley's own corner. Grabbing the Brit's flaccid left arm, Esha holds it out, daring Trachtenberg to tag it. "I think your partner isn't amused by me any longer," Deol taunts the American. "Would you like to come out to play, little girl?"
Without hesitation, Michelle darts her hand out, desperate to tag the outstretched fingers of her hapless partner. Holding the tag strap attached to the ringpost with her other hand, the chestnut-haired brunette even steps on the bottom rope so as to lean further in to the ring...but still, to her supreme aggravation, the hoped-for tag falls several inches short. Precisely as Esha had intended.
Trachtenberg contemplates ignoring the requirement for a clean tag and rushing in to relieve her partner, but then thinks better of it; while there may be few rules in this match, the necessity for an actual tag to switch places is resolute, and the risk of disqualification is too great. And as Michelle is not about to hand Dormer any victory via a technicality, the American can only fume as Deol drags Keira back across the ring, this time to her own corner.
Keira has emerged from her stupor enough now so that when Esha releases her, she remains upright on her own two feet. And as Deol and Dormer slap hands, Knightley regains enough presence of mind to start to stagger back toward her own corner. Unfortunately, she doesn't get far before Natalie puts a hand on her fellow Englishwoman's shoulder, spins her around, and nails her with a European uppercut blow, sending the blond crumpling back down to the floor in a stupefied heap. There's an intentional irony in the fact that the uppercut is one of Keira's signature moves; Natalie has made it a mission in this match to demonstrate that anything which her rivals can do, she can do infinitely better.
Never before has Keira been so much at the mercy of a foe. Astonishingly for one and all, Natalie now decides to...show mercy. In truth, the idea of finishing off Knightley now holds no appeal for the blond Briton; there is plenty of time to do that later, after she has similarly destroyed Trachtenberg. And so, with an air of inevitable triumph, Dormer stands with her hands on her hips as Keira slowly drags herself across the floor, the carpeting burning her alabaster skin, until she reaches the salvation of her corner, where she is able to tag out to her partner and roll under the ropes to the outside of the arena, there to recuperate and, she hopes, gain the opportunity to right the scales soon enough.
Jumping between the ropes, the brunette is raring to go! She wastes no time as she charges at her longtime nemesis, and the two lock up in the center of the ring, their lithe yet powerful bodies straining against one another.
As each struggles to overwhelm the other, every fiber of Michelle's being takes in her surroundings, and memories blend with the present. She feels the touch of Natalie's skin, catches the scent of her custom-made perfume, hears the Brit's intakes and exhales of breath. Most of all, however, the brunette recalls in pristine detail just how much she hates Natalie Dormer, and her blood begins to boil. The one thought racing through her mind now is, DESTROY THE BITCH!
Natalie's thoughts, as always, remain inscrutable.
Suddenly, still locked up shoulder-to-shoulder with Dormer, the brunette shifts her weight and flips her opponent to the floor. However, Natalie deftly lands on her feet, and uses her own momentum to in turn flip Trachtenberg over! Michelle rolls forward and lands cat-like on her own feet, then whirls around and clasps hands with the blond. In the test of strength which Knightley declined to engage in with Deol, the two hated foes grunt and groan as each tries to drive the other to her knees. At first, Natalie seems to gain the upper hand, as Trachtenberg's knees start to fold and she begins to slowly sink down. But then, with a burst of resolve, Michelle begins to gradually reverse the trend, until it is Dormer who now starts to descend to her knees.
Of course, the Brit isn't about to let that happen, and the American truly should have realized that and better prepared herself. Perhaps her judgment was clouded by the giddiness of taking control of the struggle, or maybe she was simply too blinded by her enmity for the supercilious Brit. Whatever the cause, Michelle is caught off-guard as Natalie suddenly throws her right knee up, slamming it into her adversary's inner right thigh, causing her leg to buckle. And that allows the blond to reverse the situation in an instant, and now it is once again Trachtenberg who slowly sinks.
Adding woes to her adversary's predicament, Natalie continues to fire her right knee, slamming it again and again into Michelle's taut stomach; the brunette takes the abuse, but it prevents her from mounting any sort of counter.
Without warning, it is the Brit who breaks the move, pulling her hands free of Michelle's, spreading her arms wide...and then slamming the heels of her palms into the American's ears! Trachtenberg screeches as her ears throb in pain, all thoughts of defense forgotten for those few excruciating instants...which is all the time in the world that her tormentor needs. Grabbing Michelle by the roots, Natalie pulls her head down, even as she again fires her right knee up, with the end result being a sharp blow squarely between the eyes.
The force of the knock causes the brunette to stumble backward several steps before crashing with a thud onto her rear end, eyes rolling as stars explode in her skull. As if she hadn't a care in the world, Natalie leisurely saunters around her fallen foe, a sneer of unadulterated derision upon her deceptively beatific face. "I see you've managed to forget what few wrestling skills you once possessed," she heckles Trachtenberg. "I must admit, I hadn't believed it possible for you to be even more pathetic than you were. And yet, you have proven me mistaken tonight."
Bending over at the waist and grabbing the stunned American by her brown locks, Dormer hisses, "And you know I don't like being proven wrong." She then forces Michelle to rise to her feet, where the blond scoops her body up and then brings it down, culminating in Trachtenberg's back arching agonizingly over the Brit's outstretched knee, bringing forth another hapless shriek from the brunette.
Shoved roughly to the floor, where she lays face-down in the plush carpeting, hands reaching behind her back to massage her tender spine, as if that alone could alleviate the misery, Michelle has been reduced to seeming helplessness. Of course, no one who has ever seen her in action before believes she is done for; the 'Trachtenberg Turnaround' is legendary within the sport, for few combatants have the grit and the fortitude to spring back from seeming destruction and win the battle. It's almost a hallmark of her fights.
But then again, Michelle has never yet successfully mounted a turnaround and beaten Natalie Dormer.
In any instance, the blond is not prepared to finish this match just yet; there's still Knightely to scrupulously thrash, after all. So, that being the case, Natalie elects to...as she might put it...enjoy a spot of amusement first.
Brushing aside her opponent's hands, Dormer sits upon the small of Trachtenberg's back, causing the American to moan from the sudden weight upon her battered backbone. Facing the lower half of the brunette's body, Natalie is perfectly positioned to execute a new hold she had been contemplating specifically for the brunette.
"Still touting your bum as something special, Yank?" the blond condescendingly asks the possessor of one of the most revered behinds in the entire sport...a rear end matched in its perfection only, many believe, by that of Dormer. "Trust me, it isn't. But all the same, I do believe it deserves a bit of special attention tonight." And with that, Natalie cruelly sinks her fingers into both spheres of Michelle's derriere, applying a distressing glute claw! Trachtenberg yowls, her fists and feet kicking at the floor. Her anguish comes not only from her physical suffering, but also from the emotional ignominy of being toyed with thus by the hated Dormer.
But after only a minute or so of this, Natalie seems bored. Meantime, her partner is chomping at the bit to get back into the match. And so, feeling generous, the blond unclenches her hands and stands up, ostensibly to tag out to Deol. Meanwhile, Keira has suitably recovered enough to get back up to her feet, and at the moment her full attention is on her pummeled partner, whom she is earnestly urging to crawl close enough to make the tag. "C'mon, Mitchie...tag me in!" she pleads.
Unfortunately for Knightely, her eyes weren't on Dormer, which is much like ignoring a cobra in a snake pit. Stepping away from Trachtenberg as if to admire her handiwork, and thus stepping closer to Keira, Natalie suddenly whirls about and delivers a resounding slap across her fellow Brit's face, dropping the stunned blond to her knees. There are murmurs of discontent and even some scattered boos amongst the elite spectators, but Dormer cares nothing for them or their opinions. Indeed, she is all smiles as she struts away from Knightley and, without looking back, says, "And that is just the smallest taste of what is in store for you soon enough." Arriving at her own corner, she gives a very confident high five with Esha, and the two warriors trade places in the ring.
Swaggering over to Michelle, who has managed to struggle up to her hands and knees, the Indian scoffs, "So, we get to play at last...I only regret that my partner has left me a broken toy. That won't be much fun...for me, at least."
Trachtenberg is unheeding of her foe's jeer. She simply remains there on all fours, her head hung low and chestnut hair dangling so as to obscure her face. A small shiver seems to course through her body, and for those who witness it, there is a silent assumption that the American can perhaps no longer command herself to carry on with the fight.
So of course it comes as a complete and utter shock to one and all when, with a defiant roar, Michelle suddenly bursts back to life! She bolts upright on her knees and throws a fist that buries itself deep within Deol's belly, doubling her over with a whoosh of air. Remaining on her knees, Trachtenberg then grabs the Indian around the head and snapmares her over, with Esha landing on her back. Without a moment's hesitation, Michelle pulls her adversary up to a seated position, plants a knee to the back of Deol's neck, and wraps her hands around the darker woman's chin, yanking her head back. As the Indian's hands fly up to try and pry those of her attacker off of her, Michelle releases one hand from her hold, raises her arm up, and then drives her elbow hard right between her target's eyes, stunning Deol.
That grants the American the time she needs to release her hold, jump up, and tag in her eager partner. But rather than one stepping out of the ring and the other entering as expected, Michelle instead takes Esha by the arm and helps her up to her feet, then steps behind the bewildered beauty and drops to one knee. To the perplexity of the onlookers, the brunette then slips her head between the Indian's legs and wraps her arms around her thighs, and with a grunt, Trachtenberg manages to rise to her feet, with her opponent now perched precariously atop her shoulders!
Simultaneous with this, Keira is scaling the corner turnbuckles, until she is gracefully balanced upon the top ropes; clearly, the neophyte partners have spent their training time learning at least a few moves they can execute together.
Then, leaping into the air, Knightley connects with a flying clothesline to the elevated Indian, knocking her off of Michelle's shoulders and sending her crashing to the floor with what seems to be a room-shaking thump!
Somehow, Deol has not been driven into unconsciousness.
From her corner, Natalie is beside herself at this spectacle, her mouth agape and eyes wide in disbelief. And with her attention distracted, Keira lands from her leap like a jungle cat, springs toward Dormer, and nails her in the chest with a forearm blow, returning the recent 'favor' and dropping the arrogant blond to the floor, this time to the accompaniment of cheers from many in attendance.
Returning her interest to her legal opponent at the moment, the blond charges at Esha, who lies splayed and groaning, jumps up, and lands with both feet upon her belly, again knocking air from her body and, it is hoped, weakening the wicked powerhouse. Groaning, the bronzed battler curls into a ball, arms wrapped around her aching midsection as she gulps in breaths.
Simply because a sound plan didn't work at first is no reason to discard it. And so, Keira opts to again pursue her strategy of working on Deol's arms, pulling her opponent up to a seated position, dropping down to the floor behind her, grabbing her wrists to yank her arms back, and using her legs to apply a butterfly lock to her foe's limbs. Esha moans as the pressure mounts on her upper arms, straining her rotator cuffs. Knightley's hold is impeccably applied, and her opponent has no hope of breaking free.
As the minutes tick by on the clock, the toll on the Indian becomes increasing apparent, as her sturdy body begins to tremble ever-so-slightly from the unrelenting pressure and pain to her arms. Beads of sweat trickle down Deol's face, dripping from the tip of her nose as her breathing grows more labored from the strain. As for Keira, applying the maneuver demands so little of her, she has actually used this period to further recuperate and marshal her full strength.
"I think you're beginning to appreciate the fact that leverage and intellect can count for much more than mere brutishness and raw muscle, aren't you?" the Englishwoman asks her entrapped opponent with a tinge of gleefulness in her voice. Long an advocate for skill over strength, she is vastly pleased with being able to put her conviction into practice so effectively.
From her corner, Natalie tries hard to maintain a cool façade, but she is undeniably perturbed by these developments as she paces back and forth. Finally, she can stand idle no longer; although it risks disqualification, she steps between the ropes and rushes toward Knightely, and from behind rakes her impeccably manicured nails across the blondes' eyes.
Keira shrieks and releases Esha's wrists to that she can try and rub the sudden stinging pain away from her own eyes, allowing the brunette to pull her arms free of the butterfly lock. The ombudsman sternly reprimands Dormer as she climbs out of the ring, warning her not to violate the rules again, but he stops short of eliminating her and handing the match to her enemies, much to her relief. She had done what she had set out to do...freeing her partner...and now Deol had at least some chance of making the tag.
That may prove easier hoped for than done, however. The dusky beauty's arms hang limply at her sides, too battered to do her any good at the moment. She does manage to get to her feet, though, and she staggers directly toward her partner to tag out.
Although still momentarily blinded by the dastardly attack, Keira is aided immeasurably by her own partner, who shouts out simply, "Sweep...now!" Without hesitation, the blonde sweeps out her right leg, tripping Deol. The Indian tries to break her fall, but her arms fail to respond, and her face slams straight into the floor.
Her vision clearing at last, Knightley grabs her fallen opponent's right ankle and drags her back away from her corner. She then grabs Deol's left wrist and rolls her over in order to apply an armlock. However, even as the Indian's body turns over, Esha pulls her right leg in, then lashes it out, landing a crude but powerful kick to her adversary's throat. Gagging, the blond falls backward, and her rival swiftly rolls across the ring to her corner, where she at last is able to tag out.
Wasting no time, Natalie charges into the ring and rushes at Keira, who is trying to climb to her feet while still gasping for air. With a leap, Dormer nails Knightley with a dropkick, her feet slamming into the blonde's face and chest, knocking her back to the carpet, where Natalie unleashes a flurry of fists to her fellow Brit's head. The onslaught has little grace and none of the adroitness which "Nastily" is known for, but it succeeds handsomely at battering her foe into a stupor, which is all that Dormer requires.
A handful of sweat-soaked hair jerks Keira up to unsteady legs, and with her infuriating smirk, Dormer grabs her opponent by the left ear, pinching it like a stern governess punishing a wayward child, and using her handhold to drag the whining blond to the ropes. Kicks to the back of the knees force Knightley down, allowing Natalie to drape her throat over the middle rope. Then, the insidious Brit sits upon her opponent's back, grabbing the upper rope for support, and bounces up and down, choking Keira on the cable! Keira's arms flail frantically at first, but all too soon they simple fall limp, indicating that she is not long for the world of consciousness.
Desperate to aid her partner, but afraid of getting them disqualified by interfering, all Trachtenberg can do is try a psychological attack. "Hey!" she calls to Dormer. "You don't really want to end this before we tangle again, do you? Or maybe you do, since you know I'll whip your ass otherwise!"
Looking over toward her American adversary, Dormer says nothing at first. But the arch of an eyebrow indicates that she's mulling over her words. Then, removing herself from Knightley's back, Natalie coolly says, "Since this one has already proven herself no match for me, I do believe it would be appropriate to demolish you next." Grabbing the barely-aware blond by her locks, Natalie then drags Keira backward, to the center of the ring, where she lays her out prone on her back. "But first, allow me to finish off this gutter snipe once and for all."
Then, retreating to a corner, Dormer begins to scale the turnbuckles. Clearly, her ego cannot allow her opponents to have executed such a high-flying maneuver without answering...and, in Natalie's mind, bettering...it. Although she had not practiced such a move, her athletic prowess allows her to perilously balance herself atop the upper ropes, in preparation for a diving leap upon her hapless target. In her current condition, there's every fear in the minds of the spectators that Keira, taking the full brunt of the impact, might suffer broken ribs.
But that's a possibility that remains unfulfilled, thankfully. For even as Dormer unsteadily props herself up on the ropes, Michelle grabs the top rope from her corner, shakes it up and down, and causes Natalie to lose her insecure balance. And while simply falling to the floor from such a height would be bad enough, Dormer is not so lucky to suffer even that. Instead, as both feet slip off of the narrow ropes, she falls straight down, and her descent is halted only by her crotch slamming into the steel turnbuckle clamp!
Her veneer of sneering pomposity shattered by the bombburst of woe to her womanhood, Natalie's eyes go wide and her mouth falls open, lips curling into an 'O'. There is no sound from her at first, but then an almost girlish squeal rips from her throat, and tears well in her eyes.
From her corner to the blonde's right, one hand grasping the all-important tag rope, Esha urgently reaches out with the other one, trying to make the exchange. But, perched awkwardly upon the turnbuckle, body paralyzed with pain, Dormer is in no shape to even consider attempting a tag. She merely sits there, almost comically, her shuddering body swaying, her eyes now vacant.
Amazingly, Keira now somehow finds the strength to roll over, and then slowly, and in obvious physical distress, drags herself across the carpet toward her corner, until she at last is near enough to tag her eager partner in.
Wasting not an instant, Michelle rushes to the still-stupefied Dormer, and scales the ropes until she is able to wrap her arm around the blonde in a reverse headlock. Then, her other hand grasping the waistband of her opponent's bottoms, Trachtenberg grunts, allows herself to fall backward, and pulls Natalie off of the turnbuckle. The two bodies tumble through the air, until they hit the carpeted floor to complete the top rope suplex! Dormer's body arches violently from the impact...but the crash has also hurt the brunette as well. Both lay there groaning for more than a full minute, before Michelle is able to wearily sit up and shake off the effects of the landing.
Standing up, Trachtenberg plants both feet upon her adversary's hair at either side of her head, then grabs Dormer's wrists and pulls her up by the arms. Natalie screeches as she fears that her flaxen mane will be torn out by the roots! But the electrifying pain also serves to shock the Briton from her stupor...which is just what the American wants. When she beats her nemesis on this night, she wants Dormer to be fully aware that she is defeated.
Next, releasing her hold, Michelle pulls her rival up to her hands and knees, drops to one knee of her own, and drapes Dormer's body across her outstretched leg, positioning it so that the blonde's derriere is in prime position for what the brunette has in mind. Far too often...both in this match as well as previously...Natalie had mocked and humiliated her foe. But now, it is Trachtenberg's moment of revenge. Yanking down Dormer's panties to unveil her bare butt, the American then joyfully begins to deliver stinging slaps to the reddening flesh, each spank cracking sharply throughout the room, and punctuated by the victim's sobbing yelps.
"Don't laugh at me," Michelle says with a crooked smile to her rival as she continues to rain down her blows, "but I've been dreaming about this for a long time. Well, this and Jimmy Chu sales."
At the twenty count, Trachtenberg ends her humbling display. Rising up, she grabs Natalie by the hair to pull her to her feet as well...but then, with a sudden burst of fading power, Dormer wraps her arms around her opponent's waist and roughly shoves her backward, until Michelle suddenly finds herself in the opposing team's corner! A split second later, Deol wraps an arms around the brunette's throat, choking her...for while the rules prohibit both members of one team being in the ring at one time, they pointedly omit any restrictions on one teammate helping the other from outside of the ring.
Yet despite the unexpected turn of the tide, Michelle does not panic. Instead, she uses her feet to push Natalie back a few steps, and then, holding onto the top ropes for support, she lifts her legs up and wraps them around the blonde's head, tightening the magnificent limbs and trapping one threat in a crude yet powerful scissorlock.
Then, being kept aloft by the scissors, Trachtenberg releases the ropes and reaches her hands backward, sightlessly slipping the first two fingers of each hand into the startled Indian's mouth, and locking in a dual Hannigan Mandible Claw! Feeling as if her jaw were suddenly going to be torn from her skull, all thoughts of tormenting the American fade away; Esha releases her chokehold and frantically grabs at Michelle's wrists, trying to pull her hands free.
The sight of Trachtenberg reducing both of her opponents to helplessness simultaneously is a rousing one for the crowd, and then begin to cheer and stomp their feet in support of Michelle. And for the brunette, it is a moment of supreme satisfaction to savor...but it cannot last. Although she has the upper hand now, she knows, she is still in a vulnerable position to reprisals from her two enemies. And besides, as enjoyable as it is to plague Deol this way, it is Dormer who remains the legal woman in the ring, and thus she who Michelle must return her full attention.
Suddenly releasing her scissors, Trachtenberg kicks Natalie hard in the chest, sending her flying backward to the carpet. Both feet back on the floor, she lets her clawhold go, and Esha stumbles back and then drops to one knee with a pitiful moan, hands holding her aching jaw.
Strutting over to the fallen blond, relishing this moment, Michelle has rarely ever appeared more magnificent. From the corner, Keira smilingly encourages the brunette to "take the rubbish out." Natalie merely lies upon the floor, her body too spent to resist any longer, but her eyes burning with a fury that silently pledges to avenge this indignity someday, and someday soon.
It's a challenge the brunette will welcome. But for tonight, the glory belongs to her.
Dropping to her knees and straddling the Brit's heaving torso, Michelle reaches behind to grab Dormer's hair and hold her head steady. Too many times, Natalie had subjected Trachtenberg to this, her own fabled finisher. But now, it would be the blond who would at last experience the dignity-stripping move.
Adeptly, Michelle slides herself back, until her opponent suddenly finds her face buried beneath the brunette's butt. Dormer's body bucks and thrashes with newfound vigor, but it is not enough. The angry curses she spits out are heard only as muffled cries. Swiftly, smothered as she is, Natalie slips into the darkness.
Rising from his chair, the ombudsman declares Michelle and Keira the winners. From her corner, Esha briefly considers rushing into the ring to attack the two women, who ignore the Indian as they hug and jump up and down with glee. But Deol isn't one to fight pointless battles, and this one is over. Without a trace of concern for her fallen partner, the dusky battler turns and wearily trudges back to her dressing room, where a hot shower awaits her before she pulls her clothes on, climbs into her limousine, and returns to her hotel suite for the night.
As they knew it would, victory in so momentous a match had made safe both Keira and Michelle's places in the catfighting firmament on both sides of the Atlantic. And while on the surface it seemed to have no detriment to the careers of Dormer and Deol, they both knew better. For Esha, it meant that she would now be launching herself in Europe not from a position of strength, but rather of...if not weakness, then at least uncertainty in her supposed indestructibility.
For Natalie, the loss was far worse personally, for it shattered the air of invulnerability which had cloaked her from her very first fight...an aura which she perhaps believed in more than anyone else. Defeat was not a habit for her, and this one was particularly hard to accept. Losing left her with an anger that dwarfed any she had known before...and anger that she would, one day soon, unleash upon both Knightley and Trachtenberg, and put an end to their annoyingly misbegotten careers once and for all.
But until that day may come, Keira and Michelle intended to fully bask in the splendor of their well-won triumph.