Title: THE SHIELD. (5)
Featuring: Mark Shields
Date: The night after
Location: DEFarena

Fresh off a night of tapings for UNCUT, the referee’s locker room comes into play. Everyone’s collecting their belongings and wishing each other a Happy Thanksgiving. Benny Doyle and Hector Navarro converse about their plans while Carla Ferrari takes a moment to knock on the door and peep her head inside, saying goodbye to her fellow male coworkers. Even the new guy, Rex Knox (who may have some relationship with newbie and “DEFcepticon” Ryan Knox) is blending in and pats Brian Slater on the back before leaving, even though Rex has to leap up to do so, standing at only 5’3”. Slater, 6’6” and the HOSS of all refs is imposing in size but a friendly man. Brian’s been through the ringer in this industry so he knows what it’s like for someone new, particularly entering DEFIANCE, which can be very unimposing at first.

The crew exit the locker room together, all except Mark Shields, who sits in the corner, hunched over, eyeing his phone. Slater tells the rest of the group he will catch up with them in the parking lot or, if he doesn’t make it in time, will see them in two weeks for DEFtv 145.

Slater turns back into the locker room and makes his way towards the haggard referee.

“Hey Mark…” Slater starts. “How was your night?”

It’s not that Mark isn’t integrated well with the other refs. At times he is. It’s the fact Shields is such a… different type of character, it’s hard for anyone to get a read on him and ultimately for him to fit in. Shields is active in the DEFIANCE discord memes channel though and everyone seems to get a kick out of his posts, no matter how vulgar they may be. Those who would be offended typically don't go into the channel anyway.

“Oh, hey, sorry.” Mark looks up for a moment and then back at his phone. “Been too focused on some other stuff tonight.”

Slater laughs it off. “No problem, man. Figured you had things going on.”

Deep down Slater knows Mark isn’t the best referee… far from it. In the past he often wonders why Shields is still employed here. DEFIANCE used to place such emphasis on no-nonsense wrestling and Mark, well, Mark leans into that wall a little too hard. And with new management taking over DEFIANCE a few years ago, DEFtv, UNCUT and other programming associated wit this company have calmed in intensity. One look at guys like Sgt. Safety, the tag team of Screen 7 and the hiring of extremely emotional wrestlers such as The Comments Section show a more colourful side of the organization right now but one that’s not without its HOSS’, either. Just look at Brian Slater.

Shields continues gazing into his phone, even though it’s clear Slater wanted to talk more. This only reinforces how bad Slater feels for Mark’s position. Face-deep in text, no real family around the NOLA area, other than his brother. Slater knows Mark’s lifestyle. It involved escorts, hard drugs and alcohol. Lots of alcohol.

“Who are you talking to?” Slater inquires.

“Oh… Kristie.” Mark replies. “Been texting her for a week now. She’s single you know.”

Slater rolls his eyes, “I know. Poor girl’s life is out there like an open book…”

Mark doesn’t “hear” his fellow co-worker. Instead, he continues to stare at his phone. “We were, ya know, really getting into some good texts but now… she won’t answer me man. It sucks.”

Brian places a hand on Mark’s shoulder.

“Hey… do you want to come over tomorrow night for dinner? My wife makes a lot for Thanksgiving and it’s just her and I this year, the kids are off to their grandparents in New York. Figure if you needed someone to talk to… or something. I’m sure life is tough for you right now with everything you’ve got going on.”

At first, as Mark glances up, it looks like Slater really got through to him. There is even some water forming in Mark’s eyes. Then, in an instant, Mark’s demeanor changes. He grins from ear-to-ear and smacks Slater across the back as hard as possible.

“Awwww fuck man, naa that’s cool. Maggie’s coming by to do some blow me with and Kev. Might hit the Red Light Distrct later on too, psyched for that!”

Shields stands up and takes a hard look into Brian’s face. The scumbag referee smiles again.

“Dude, I love ya… but did you, did you think I was depressed there? Yeah it sucks Kristie isn’t getting back to me but FUCK DAT HOE, bro! I have a great life! Meaningless sex… alcohol whenever I want and the drugs… man, the drugs are LiT! SoOoOoO LiT!”

Slater nods and tries to backtrack. “I- I wasn’t that worried. Just wanted to make sure you’re good.”

“Good?” Shields pats Slater on the shoulder as a thank you, standing up to collect his things. “I’m fucking swell pal! My life is GOLDEN! No ties to shit… ahaha! No wife to complain and point out all the things I’m doing wrong. No kids to pay for. No commitments to fuck all! Even this company… look how bad I am at my job… and yet I’m still here!! Bawhahaaahahah!”

Shields knocks Slater on the shoulder and leaves “The Buffalo” dumbfounded in the locker room.

Brain shrugs. “Well… didn’t see that coming.”

Slater collects the last of his belongings and leaves as well, turning off the locker room light behind him.

“At least Mark comes by it honestly.”



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