• Published 26th Apr 2015
  • 1,168 Views, 86 Comments

Champion's Road - OmegaPony11



Aria Blaze lost everything when the Dazzlings tasted defeat thanks to the Rainbooms. She escapes the winter into a gym where she is given a chance to become a pro wrestler. The road is hard, but with friends, love, and suplexes, she can be a champ.

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Welcome to the Queendom

Aria awoke to a throbbing headache, her ears still ringing from the night before. She never experienced a Patented Pinkie Pie Party and she did not drink a drop of alcohol, but last night’s festivities as well as the match that precluded it did nothing to help her constitution. Groaning, she rubbed her head and swung her legs onto the floor of Roza’s office, bare feet recoiling from the cold ground. A quick look and Aria saw that the office door was wide open. Normally she closed it before going to bed; maybe the party made her forget to close the door.

As she groggily stood up and stretched, Roza rushed into the room uncaring that Aria was in her pajamas. “Up and at ‘em, kiddo,” she said, sorting through a pile of paperwork. “We have a high profile day ahead of us. I already called your friend Rarity and picked up some appropriate attire for the day’s activities. They are waiting for you in the change room.”

Giving her head a shake, Aria saw that for once Roza was not in jeans or gym wear, but in a white blouse, a tight black skirt, pantyhose, and sharp heels. Her red hair tied in a ponytail, Roza belied her professional appearance by cursing as she opened the drawers of her desk.

“Care to explain what’s going on?” Aria asked. Roza did not answer but instead grabbed at a paper bag and thrust it into Aria’s arms.

“Egg O’muffin, hash brown, and a coffee.” Roza turned around and went back to her desk while Aria looked inside. “It’s the only meal you are getting this morning at short notice so eat up, brush those chompers and put on those clothes. We’re on a tight schedule so move it!”

Aria did not argue further, though her confusion continued as well. She shrugged, slipped on her slippers, and made her way to the locker room with an egg sandwich in her mouth. As she munched away, she saw the clothes Roza mentioned. There lay a sunshine-yellow blouse, lavender skirt with small matching heels, and a green blazer. It was her old outfit only far more businesslike. She wanted to go back out there and demand an explanation, but Roza did not steer her wrong before. Instead she quickly ate, washed up, and then put on the offered clothes.

As she buttoned up the blazer, Roza stuck her head in the door. “You decent and professional yet?”

“Yeah,” Aria replied, “but could you please explain why I look like I should be playing the stock markets?”

“Make better money that way, don’t know about easier, definitely more painful if you botch.” Roza rushed behind Aria and ushered her on. “I’ll explain in the car, drink your coffee.”

Once Haven Gym was locked up and Aria sat in Roza’s car, Roza started the engine and headed towards the downtown core. For the first time that night Aria paid attention to a clock, namely the one in the car. Eight A.M. Far too early now that she was done with school.

“Alright, here’s the deal,” Roza said, her hands gripped on the wheel. “I’m gonna be level with you: I had the match we did last night livestreamed.”

Aria’s eyes went wide at the revelation that someone or perhaps multiple someones were watching her make a fool of herself over the internet. Granted she always thought if she did such it would be much more scandalous, but this was a serious breach in trust. Aria would know; she broke the trust of people all the time back when she had siren magic to control them.

“Care to explain that then?” Aria demanded, holding her coffee cup with a tight grip.

“Sure,” Roza said without a hint of guilt, “Only one person was on the receiving end of that broadcast, namely a one Victoria O’Cash. Chairwoman of Amazon Championship Wrestling Incorporated. She wants to meet you.”

Once again Aria’s eyes went wide, but this time out of utter shock. “She… wants to sign me?” Her heart began to race. This was everything she wanted. Soon she’d have a dotted line to sign and cash in her bank account. She’d have to get said account first, but that wasn’t the important part.

“‘Meet you’, kiddo, don’t get dollar signs in your eyes just yet.” Roza’s words deflated Aria, but only slightly. “She meets any prospective talent before sending them to the Head of Talent Relations, Double Check. Needless to say, you need to look as presentable as possible. She’s a business woman first, hence our business attire. I’m going to back you up should anything substantial happens. You don’t know the industry like I do. And for all that is good, only refer to her as Mrs. O’Cash unless you are a complete badass. Which, since you are not signed, you are not.”

The car continued down the road towards main downtown. “Moving too fast,” Roza muttered, “way too fast. Wanted to get you some more practice in the indies, more matches against real opponents, more respect from the fans and then present you to her. This is good news, but also troubling. If you don’t look good to her now, you won’t get a second chance. But if you can get in, you’ll be in.

“The way you talk about it, I feel like the show cow at the country fair,” Aria said with a bit of snark. “I’m not a piece of meat to be paraded in front of an executive.”

“You are a piece of meat,” Roza chided, “You are going to walk down a ramp, compete in a wrestling match, and look good while doing it. This is show business and you are going to be showing everyone your body as much as your skills. You just have to be smart about it. That’s why I’m managing you. You are still a rookie, remember that.”

Aria nodded, though she could not help but feel a little annoyed by Roza looking down on her. Last she checked, she won their last encounter. Aria could take care of herself; it took a lot to intimidate her. She could face the likes of a businessperson in a suit.

“How did you get Rarity to get these clothes for me on such short notice?” Aria asked. Roza smirked.

“Called her, told her what I needed, and offered two c-notes. If she’s a businesswoman like O’Cash, she knows she needs as much capital as she can to get started. Besides, she has your measurements so it was easy enough. I swear you high school types are carbon copies of each other.”

They approached a large office building in the middle of the city, right when the workday of everyday people began. The summer sun shone down over the city while Roza wheeled her car into the building’s parking lot. Aria looked around to see many very nice, very expensive vehicles in the parking lot. The kind Aria knew she’d never afford. Maybe she was a little intimidated.

“ACW Headquarters,” Roza said as she drove the car into a spot. She set the park brake. “Let me do the talking unless O’Cash asks you something directly.

They both stepped out of the vehicle, heels clicking against clean pavement. Other business types walked in and out of the building where two large security guards stood at the doors. As they made their way to the doors, Roza flashed a card of some sort at the security, who only nodded and opened the door for them.

“Mrs. O’Cash is waiting for you, Mrs. Del Diavolo,” said one of the guards. “Floor Thirty-two. Your student will need a guest pass though.”

The other guard gave Aria a small green card with the word “GUEST” in bold. Aria looked the card over and saw the ACW logo on the back. After clipping it on her blazer, she followed Roza to the elevator, all the wall regarding the atrium of the building.

The open space made malls look small in comparison, with a massive crystal rendition of the ACW logo in the center of the room right above the reception desk. Pillars of marble supported the building, gilded in bright polished brass. Near the back where the elevators lay waiting stood a statue of a woman in a wrestling singlet and boots with a championship belt around her waist. Her arms on her hips, the statue smiled at visitors of to the ACW headquarters. On the pedestal lay a plaque that read:

“Those who dream, dare.

Those who dare, accomplish.

Never back down from a challenge.

For challenges are the steps on the road to greatness.

-Jungle Queen”

“C’mon,” Roza barked as she waited for the elevator, “We don’t have a lot of time to gawk around.”

Aria quickly returned to Roza just at the moment the elevator went ding and the doors opened for them to enter. Roza pressed the button for floor thirty-two and after a jolt, the lift began its ascent upwards. Classical music played on hidden speakers. Aria looked out the glass windows towards the city, the morning light covering it in a bright glow. The very sight of the city sent her heart to the races and she went full tilt.

Roza seemed to notice and patted Aria on the back, though she did not say anything further. Aria closed her eyes and took deep, measured breaths. She needed to calm down. This was just a business meeting with the head of a multi-million dollar company. The result could be that Aria finally made her on her own and that her name had worth, or she could crash and burn and go back to being a janitor living in a gym. No big deal, just everyday occurrences.

The elevator dinged again, the doors sliding open to an elaborate foyer that led into a long hall decorated by exotic plants the like Aria never seen before. Large plush leather sofas sat against the walls of glass where the ACW logo was once again in prominent display. A secretary seated at her desk waited for them in the middle of the hall. As they walked up to her, she smiled at the two and pressed a button on her desk.

“Mrs. O’Cash, your nine o’clock is here.” She then looked up to Aria and Roza. “Please step inside the office. She’s waiting for you.”

“Remember,” Roza whispered as she approached the double doors, “Let me do the talking.”

They walked inside to a room both exactly and at odds with what Aria envisioned. The furniture like the desk, chairs, and couches all held a modern, sleek design to them. Filing cabinets filled one corner of the room while strange abstract sculptures and paintings were placed in choice locations to give the feeling that the one who worked in this office was a businesswoman of expensive tastes.

However, on the back wall hung what appeared to be hundreds of picture frames from across generations. Professional wrestlers, both female and male, posed or performed holds throughout the small gallery. Several of the photos looked old and faded, while others showed a more modern time in wrestling history.

What drew Aria’s attention most was the belt that lay across the desk. Aria walked up to the belt and stared into the golden plate. It shone like a mirror and she saw her reflection perfectly. Rubies and diamonds lined the outside as a single figure in platinum, a woman wielding a spear, held her weapon in a victory pose. The ACW logo stood prominently around the warrior. On the bottom of the front plate was a nameplate with “KASS” emblazoned on it.

“Do you like it?” said a voice from behind Aria, very different from Roza’s. “It’s the ACW World Championship. The highest honour in this company and in women’s wrestling.”

Aria spun around to be face to face with a tall, lean grey-skinned woman with striking red eyes. Dressed in a sharp black pantsuit, Victoria O’Cash looked over Aria as the two met. Her dark grey hair tied into a severe bun, O’Cash did not smile nor did she scowl at Aria’s presence. Aria suddenly felt small in front of O’Cash. She was wrong. The woman did intimidate her with her building, her office, and her very being. She looked like a woman who knew what she wanted and took it without any questions asked.

For her part, Aria kept her stance as strong as she could while facing O’Cash. Her gaze into those scarlet irises did not falter. Her breathing remained normal, relaxed. Aria intimidated others, not the other way around, though she figured it would be prudent not to try to push a millionaire around.

After a moment of silence, O’Cash walked around both Aria and Roza and sat down on her leather chair. She motioned to two chairs opposite to her, of which then the pair took their own seats. Roza was the first to speak, her eyes never once leaving the championship belt.

“What’s that doing here?” she asked. For the first time Vicky smiled, though a small one.

“I wanted to polish it later while I’m on a conference call for this Sunday’s Calamity Pay-Per-View. I also wanted to show this young lady the biggest prize in the company.”

She turned her attention to Aria. “Well, Miss Blaze? Would you like to touch it? Hold it?”

Aria looked at the belt as it lay shining on O’Cash’s desk. Did the chairwoman of the ACW really just ask her to hold the greatest prize, if even for a moment? Aria wanted to touch the gold. She wanted to hold something of prestige. To feel what it would be like to be a champion. But what if this was some kind of test by O’Cash. To see how she reacted to the prize in front of her.

Taking a deep breath, Aria gave O’Cash her answer. “I don’t want to touch it.”

O’Cash raised her brow in subtle surprise.

“I want to wear it.”

At this O’Cash let her smile widen, if only a little bit. “Interesting answer. I can’t let you wear it right now, it would disrespect the current champion and Kass is not one to be easily disrespected. But perhaps, one day… In any event, I’d like to speak with Aria alone, if you don’t mind, Roza.”

Roza and Aria met eyes and nodded at each other before the former stood up and walked out of the office. Looking nervous for a change, Roza shook her head and made her way out of the office. Once she was gone, O’Cash picked up the championship and moved it aside so that she and Aria could speak without a large golden distraction.

“Here at Amazon Championship Wrestling, I pride myself on building a company that treats women’s wrestling as seriously as any men’s league.” O’Cash stood up and motioned to all the photos. “From the day Jungle Queen took the WGP Women’s Championship and founded this company with my great grandfather, ACW has stood the test of time as a bastion. Here, women are treated with respect. They can still be sexy and sultry, that is just good money, but the best have the skills in the ring to back it up and become champions. Every woman has a place in the ACW should they find their success and it is my job to find the best individuals for the ACW.”

“Normally I don’t speak with talent like this,” O’Cash said, her voice taking a sharper tone, “but this is an extraordinary situation. Do you know how many women try out to get into the ACW? Probably not, but I will tell you it’s quite a sum. I leave that to Talent Relations to determine who can be added to the roster, though of course I have final say. There are ways to get bumped up on the waiting list, would you care to hear them?”

Aria nodded and O’Cash continued. “First is to show incredible in-ring talent, typically through the independent leagues or through developmental. We look for champions in the smaller promotions, those who show athleticism, daredevil risks, or good in-ring presence. How many matches have you competed in in your career, Miss Blaze?”

Her heart began to sink. She knew where this was going, but maintained her poise. “Two.”

“Two!” O’Cash turned her chair away from Aria and walked over to her espresso machine. “Two matches, one of which you didn’t win or last longer than three minutes. Oh yes, I know about you and your appearance at one of the ACW’s cash prize open challenges. Needless to say, you have far, far less experience than most competitors. I could give a spot to hundreds of women who have competed in hundreds matches and have won hundreds of victories. Why should I give it to you?”

“Espresso?” O’Cash suddenly asked, taking Aria by surprise. She exhaled deeply, trying to gain her composure. This was all a test, she told herself, this was all a way to find out if she was ready for the ACW.

“No, thank you.”

“Terrible vice of mine, coffee.” O’Cash pressed a few buttons on her machine and it began to hum. Another distraction. What game was she playing at? “In any event, you don’t have much in-ring experience, but you have an excellent teacher. Roza and I, we go way back. Let’s move on to the second thing that puts folks on my short list. Simply put, I want the roster of the ACW to be diverse. I have monsters, giants, demons, and the Reaper herself. I have rockers and hip-hoppers. I have luchadoras and technicians. I have dominatrixes and good wholesome girls from the farm. I have angels and I have a pit of snakes. I have women from all around the world, from all walks of life. What exactly do you bring to the ring? Hmm? Youth? Plenty of that. Looks? Plenty of that too. You may possess those, but so do countless others.”

Aria, uncertain what to do after two barrages of degradation, did not know how to respond to O’Cash and her criticisms, so she decided to stay quiet. If O’Cash gave her the chance to make her case, she would, but only when O’Cash was done. She held all the cards after all, while Aria held an empty hand.

“So, Miss Blaze, you are oh-for-two.” O’Cash returned to her desk and set her coffee down on a granite coaster. “So with that said, it must seem odd that we are having this discussion at all. However, there is the last way to get the attention of Talent Relations and thus my attention. That is, simply put, to have recommendations. This is a tier system inside a tier system with weight added to certain names. One recommendation bumps you up the list, two makes you’re a front runner. Three gets your name on my desk. You of course likely figured that Roza counts as one of these, and I do value her opinion highly. She was money and the women she trained became money. So that opened the door for you. There was another recommendation, this time from a source that wishes to remain anonymous. Lastly, and you’ll know this name well, was the last recommendation: Konstance Paine.”

Something akin to a mule kicking her made Aria’s eyes pop at the mention of Konstance Paine. Her blood chilled. Her skin paled. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She almost felt the presence of the masked monster in that very office breathing down her neck.

“K-Konstance?” Aria’s voice cracked with a hint of fear after being reminded of that monster.

“Yes,” O’Cash replied, “You must have made an impression on her in those three minutes. Needless to say after getting three recommendations and seeing your performance, I needed to meet you myself. Three women I consider high profile all vouched for you. I wonder what that makes you now.”

This was her chance. “May I speak?” Aria asked as politely as she could, hiding the edge of frustration in her voice. Not only did she endure the belittlements from O’Cash, but finding out that Konstance Paine and some unknown benefactor acted as references gave her more questions than answers. She’d deal with those questions later, for now she needed to make a strong case for herself. Her eyebrows raised in slight amusement, O’Cash gestured for Aria to carry on.

Aria cleared her throat. “More than half a year ago, I was living on the streets with nothing but the clothes on my back. I stumbled into Roza’s gym and saw a sign for the ACW open challenge. I thought it would be easy to get a thousand dollars. After all, I just needed to “survive” five minutes with Konstance Paine. I learned the hard way that it wasn’t so easy. Roza took pity on me and helped me get back to my feet, but she also gave me an offer to make me a professional wrestler. I thought it was ridiculous, but I also didn’t have anything else to go for.”

“Being a wrestler is a hard life,” O’Cash said, her voice softening, if only a little. “And being in the ring is only a part of the pie. Appearances, photos, videos, the long hours, the travel schedule when the show goes abroad... we don’t hold many pay-per-views in the arena here in the city. You could have an easier life as an office worker or in retail. A much more stable life. Less bumps.”

“I don’t want that kind of life,” Aria said, “I’m a performer. A star. I have the tools and the attitude to make it. All I need is the door opened. I can do the rest.”

O’Cash said nothing but continued to stare Aria down. Aria, for her part, felt she stood her ground well, but O’Cash’s face was one meant for poker or big business decisions. With a calloused hand, O’Cash picked up her coffee cup and took a long sip. She set down the cup and wordlessly walked towards the door, giving it a firm knock. The door opened and Roza stepped back into the office. She looked to Aria, her eyes seemingly wide with worry. The whole “let me do the talking” thing did not pan out after all.

Roza returned to her seat and O’Cash to hers, but still no one said anything. O’Cash turned her attention to her computer, typing away at the keys without any acknowledgement that Aria or Roza sat in her chairs. The sound of a printer filled the silent air with two sheets spilling out onto O’Cash’s desk from a printer hidden in the desk. Setting the pieces of paper in front of her, O’Cash reached for a gilded fountain pen, dipped it in an inkwell, and then looked up at Roza.

“Two years,” O’Cash said, “Total salary of two hundred, with extension talks after the first year. Guaranteed one hundred for the first year.”

“Three years,” Roza countered, “Extension talks after the first year are fine, with royalty options to be determined after six months.”

Aria looked back and forth at the two as they discussed. Where they actually having this conversation?

O’Cash mulled on Roza’s counter for a moment and shrugged. “Agreed then. I have the right to terminate should I and Talent Relations deem performance to be lacking. Performance appraisal will be done after six months, where we can determine if she deserves royalties. Presence must be available at all times for scheduled events, including those abroad. This includes photo ops, appearances, and any other official ACW events. She will be given the option for two weeks for time off, but she’ll have to job to be written out of TV. Should she suffer any injury, ACW will of course reimburse all medical and rehabilitation costs.”

Aria couldn’t believe it. They were having this conversation. Roza snapped her fingers in front of Aria’s dazed eyes.

“Hey,” she said, “I’m trying to get you the best deal here, stay with us. Is the deal good for you? I can explain what all this means now. To be honest, this is one of the better arrangements a rookie like you can get.”

She needed to calm down. Take a deep breath. Once Aria settled, she reached for the contract with a hand that wanted to shake with anticipation but only through sheer force of will did she stop. Holding the contract gingerly in her hands, she started to read. Most of it was legalese, but in general everything was as O’Cash described. She knew what appearances were, photo ops, and she was sure Roza would help if she did not know anything about a certain event. Her eyes lingered on the promised salary though: three hundred thousand dollars split between three years. Guarantee pay of one hundred thousand. Half a year ago she was getting tossed around for one thousand. Now she was about to multiply that three hundred fold.

Aria needed to make sure this was real and that this was good. She passed the contract to Roza who began to read it, her eyes darting back and forth along the page all the while O’Cash sat with her fingers steepled. She looked like some kind of cartoon villain, but Aria kept quiet about such.

After a while, Roza looked up from the contract. “There’s a caveat.”

It felt like her heart stopped when Roza said those words. “W-what do you mean?”

“She wants me to sign for one match.”

O’Cash’s lips curled into a smile. “You still draw a crowd, Roza. I’m just asking for one match, not a serious long term commitment. I was thinking Wrestlelysium, but—”

“A match of my choosing,” Roza immediately countered. “Against an opponent of my choosing, at a time of my choosing, within the next year.”

Alarms rang out in Aria’s mind. It didn’t sound like a big deal, so why was Roza fighting against a single match. When Aria turned to gauge Roza’s expression, she was surprised to see her mentor looking troubled. Was there something about this one match that bothered her?

Roza caught Aria staring at her and gave her a weak smile. A glint in her eyes seemingly told Aria ‘we got this’.

“Very well,” O’Cash finally conceded, “One match of your choosing against an opponent of your choosing, whenever you want it to be, by next Wrestlelysium at the latest.”

“Deal.”

With that done, O’Cash placed both the contract and a fine silver pen in front of Aria. “We just need your signature and the deal will be done.”

Aria stared at the bottom line of the contract in complete shock. This was really it. All she had to do was sign and all of her problems would be over. She’d have everything she ever wanted. Taking up the offered pen, Aria signed her name on the bottom line. Roza took a pen of her own and signed the witness line next to it. With the contract back in her hands, O’Cash then added her own signature to the contract.

The deal was done.

“Thank you,” O’Cash said, standing up and offering her hand to Aria. “And welcome to the ACW.”

Aria stood up and shook O’Cash’s hand, though she could not stop her body from trembling. “I look forward to working with my friend’s newest protégé,” O’Cash continued, “An ACW booklet detailing rules and regulations will be sent to Haven Gym within the next few days. I’d like you to be present on the first Tuesday of the next month for SLAM! at the Parthenon Arena. That will be your first match against an as-of-yet undetermined opponent. Please arrive promptly at three o’clock. That is all.”

Now dismissed, Aria walked on shaking legs out of the office, out of the foyer, and back towards the elevators. Roza kept a short distance behind her. Her hands trembled at the very idea of what she did. From literal rags to riches. It sounded like a bad cliché, but this was all too real.

Her mouth felt as dry as a desert as she pressed the elevator button. Both she and Roza did not share any words as they descended back to the ground level and towards the parking lot. They did not speak as they got back into the car and Roza drove them home.

Aria only stared out of the window, her mind both blank at one moment and abuzz with images the next. What would her friends think of her now, a real professional wrestler with a great contract? An Amazon of the ACW? What would Sonata think of her newfound success?

What would Adagio have thought?

They arrived back at Haven and continued the silence until they made their way to the lower level. Roza flipped on the lights and tossed away her hair band. “What a morning,” she said, exhaling heavily. “That went better than expected. A little unorthodox but—“

Roza suddenly found herself in a tight embrace from Aria. Warm tears flowed from her eyes as Aria barely spoke above a whisper. “Thank you. Thank you so much. For everything. I don’t even want to think where I would be right now without your help.”

Roza’s features softened as she tentatively raised her arms, not sure what to do. She then decided to just return the gesture, hugging Aria tight. “Don’t worry, kiddo, I won’t let you down. You’ll be great.”

Letting go of the hug, Roza held Aria with her hands on the latter’s shoulders. “This is the big leagues and you never even stepped foot in the minors. The entire industry will be against you the moment you step through those doors and between those ropes. A lot of people are going to be envious of you. Some will even try to destroy your career. Always keep your head on a swivel, one eye open, and an ear to the ground in that locker room.”

“Not only that, but we only have a month to get some of the toughest, most grueling training you’ll ever do done. You need a moveset. You need techniques that will win the crowd and show that you can hang. After a month, there won’t be much more I can do than advise you.”

Aria understood what Roza said to the letter. There would be those who would try to bring her down by any means necessary. Whether through hook or by crook, they would try.

Let them try.

“I know what to do,” Aria replied, already heading towards the locker room to change into her gear. “Let’s get to work.”

Author's Note:

Introducing Victoria O'Cash, who is very much not Vince McMahon.

In regards to finishing moves and entrance themes, here is my plan: I'm going to keep using the Spear and "This Fire Burns" for the early days of Aria's career. To that end, she will learn other techniques as she grows as a wrestler and a person. Music wise, I'm still looking for suggestions, so keep 'em coming. I do consider all options, it's just once I'm sold on an idea, it is very difficult for me to back off.

Regular matches will be in future chapters. As it stands, there will be a match a chapter unless I deem otherwise.

I do hope this story is enjoyable and I do request any feedback should readers have any.

Thank you.

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