World Grudge Holding Championships

Annnnd welcome back, folks, to ESPN3 for this years final event of the GHL. I’m Steve Inlezzen. With me is Bob McHestle. We’re happy to bring you the exciting action of this years playoff event. These competitors have clinched their path to these championships, and, well now, Bob… it’s time to see if they have what it takes.

That’s right, Steve. It’s finally time. The stage has been set. Let’s introduce our competitorrrrrs, in the… World Grudge Holding Championships!

Two giant CGI robots grimace at each other with glowing red laser eyes while bombastic theme music plays, and then they stand back to back with their arms crossed as the camera flies between their stoic spines towards a branching graphic.

Well, as you can see from this playoff bracket, our top eight contenders this year are no slouches. Five of them are returning from prior playoffs, including three previous world champions. but we have three fresh faces in the grudge-off.

Indeed! Folks were kind of surprised to see a few of these contenders make it to the big stage, Steve. They’ll have the best chance of their lives to take home the coveted Gritted Teeth trophy here today, because this year the playoffs have shifted to a double elimination format.

Pretty exciting, Bob! Have to admit, I myself was not a fan of how last year’s championship event went down, so I think everyone who follows the GHL is excited for the new rule changes in the post-season this year.

Oh, the air is brimming with electricity in the arena tonight. The stage is set for some truly superhuman feats of egoic strength. Steve interviewed the contenders earlier in the week. Before the first grudge match begins, let’s meet these three newcomers to the finals, shall we?

A man appears on the screen, looking dour. The chyron introduces him as Robert Derkley, with the subtitle of “Aggrieved Father” and a record of 12-4.

Robert, welcome to the big stage! Are you excited to finally show the doubters your grudge skills?

Well, uhh. Uhh, yeah. I am.

You look pretty dour there, my good man! Well done. Why don’t you tell us about your career history and what brought you here to the championships?

Well yes. Uhh, thanks Steve. I feel like my strength comes from training with my father, which makes my grudges really stick well, just like his did. I’m also, uhh, pretty flexible with how I hold on.

Great! Your regular season was impressive for a first timer. Any predictions for these final matches?

I think everyone should be impressed by my showing.

The screen zooms around, a giant shining metal logo flying by, and the chyron introduces a woman who sneers directly into the camera as Vera Klarhawk. Her title is listed below as “Flexible Rager”, and her record is 13-3.

Vera, welcome to the finals! Are you ready to bring your unique rope-a-dope stylings to the finals?

Pfft. Of course.

Tell us about yourself.

I’d really rather not.

Well, uhh, that stare is definitely painful. Any predictions for the finals?

Yeah. They all suck. I’m going to roll ’em. Because I hate everyone, with good reason.

Haha! Excellent. Thanks, Vera.

The screen flings about again past the glimmering computerized logo. Now the chyron introduces Fred Manamank, titled “Dark Horse”, with a record of 14-2.

Fred, a big welcome to the big tent! Are you prepared for the intensity of the best contenders?

Fred stares into the camera blankly with a frown on his face, and shakes his head slowly.

Well then! Yes. We’ve all seen your stylings, I just didn’t know you stuck to them outside of matches!

He stares off into the distance. His lip twitches slightly, as the interviewer coughs.

Hmm. Umm, have you got any predictions for the finals?

Fred frowns deeper and rubs his temples, as the screen flies off to be replaced with a large arena filled with fans.

Wow, he’s pretty intense, huh Steve?

You could say that, Bob! Let’s get into the action. Our first match…

You click the TV off and fall asleep finally on the uncomfortable hotel bed.

Arrre you ready folks, for the final match?

The crowd roars with approval. You blink back awake. How did the TV come back on?

This is it, Bob. We’ve got an exciting final nobody could have predicted!

That’s right! If you’re just joining us, Vera Klarhawk has battled her way out of the loser’s bracket to face the fearsome Fred Manamank, with both of them newcomers to the league this year. One of them will take home the Gritted Teeth.

I’ve been told by our correspondent Rita at ringside that she may have some insight into Fred’s effective grudge strength. Rita?

Yes, Steve. I’ve been talking to some of the other competitors who got knocked out, and they believe that while Vera has a chance still, Fred may have a fatal advantage. Several people independently suspect that he has done what we call the ‘inversion tactic’. As you guys at the desk know, we’ve seen people try this strategy in years past, but it’s never worked. It’s been insincere and always fallen apart. But after watching Fred’s run today, people down here definitely think he has it figured out. They are sure that he is somehow managing to hold onto an incredibly strong grudge against himself.

The TV suddenly flips to static and then goes black. You sit in the hotel bed, wondering what parts were a dream, and think about the grudges you hold…