31st of May - Season 1
Moodswing was smiling. This was it. This was what all his hard work was all about: the end result of all the blood, sweat and tears... The Formula-X Grand Prix. This was big. And it wasn't the case just because they'd held out on calling any of their previous pay-per-views "grands Prix". It wasn't just because this event would have a slew of special guests both performing and spectating that outnumbered all the other pay-per-views combined. This was truly his greatest creation come to life.
"So let me ask you something." It was Glenwood Jacobs that had asked the question while approaching him. "Is this everything that you envisioned it to be? Is this," he said gesturing to everything around them like it was made of gold, "your dream come true?"
It was an interesting question. While Moodswing knew that Glen was talking about the spectacle of it all, Moodswing couldn't help but think of the races and the racers participating in them. Those certainly weren't what he'd envisioned when he first dreamt up what this day would look like. Lucky enough, Moodswing had enough of a forward-thinking mentality to understand that there were to be many more grands prix each distinct from one another... Assuming this one was a success.
"You better believe it."
"So this is your Granddaddy huh?" said Touch Mkhize, mostly speaking to Glen. "Well not bad."
"Uhm, excuse me," said Moodswing. "This was my master plan."
Glen gave Moodswing a playful look. "Yeah, but I came up with the name."
Moodswing returned his playful smile. "Okay. But that just makes you my Steve Ditko. I'm Stan Lee."
Glen feigned thinking. "Maybe more Bill Finger to your Bob Kane."
It was Touch who picked up on the pop culture. "Wait, but isn't the popular opinion that Bill Finger came up with most of the Batman Mythology? Bob Kane's ideas mostly ended up being used for Robin."
Moodswing saw the cheeky grin on Glen's face. "Just remember that Bob Kane was credited as Batman's creator for decades before the other guy was recognized." Moodswing started away. "Remember that, Bill Finger."
OPENING ACT OF THE GRAND PRIX
When Moodswing had approached her, he had already made up his mind. His choice of singer was very deliberate: someone at the cusp of future glory, hungry to make a name for themselves. Unlike with Valentine Lekota, Moodswing had decided to keep it local, believing that South Africans would be more likely to come through, out of sheer patriotism especially after he had the singer sing the National Anthem. That singer's name: Ms. Zansi.
Moodswing had goosebumps listening to the massive crowd gathered around the street circuit singing along with Ms. Zansi, particularly when they bellowed "sounds the call to come together and united we shall stand", making it feel like it truly was the be all to end all that he had created it to be. The clap that followed the anthem created a thunder that nearly erupted the place.
Following the song, Moodswing quickly made his way onto the stage in front of all the cameras and prepared to give the introductory speech that all the introductions to all the other pay-per-views had been leading up to. He waited for Glen to give him the thumbs up from just off the stage and when he did, Moodswing smiled. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Formula-X Grand Prix!!!
"Tonight's event marks the season finale of the inaugural season of Formula-X. After months of ups and downs; after all the drama, the sweat, the tears, the heartbreak, the deep-seated rivalries, and the quest for royal gold, it has all come to this. The racers you'll see tonight aren't just competing for a winner's purse, ladies and gentlemen. These F-X racers will also be looking to get the final say. They'll be looking to get bragging rights of victory for the whole of winter. Ladies and gentlemen, " said Moodswing, letting the suspense build, "let the racing begin!!!"
PENNY, DUCHESS OF DRAG vs. TOUCH MKHIZE
When it came to creating interesting storylines for races going into pay-per-views, Moodswing had to admit that it wasn't easy, considering that nothing was scripted. So when he had stories that wrote themselves, it made him a happy man. Such was the case with the opening race of the show: former Duke of Drag looks to reclaim what he believes is rightfully his on the biggest stage in the series against the person that took it from him in the first place. It made Moodswing even happier when he had racers who knew how to carve out a story for their races themselves... Touch was such a guy.
Touch Mkhize had come a long way since Moodswing had first met him. While initially nothing but a loud-mouth destined to navigate the bottom rung as a support-racer, Touch had somehow found himself being one of the most prominent F-X racers in the series by the sheer force of his will. Seemingly born to be a sports entertainer, his charisma and forward-thinking was what led to him getting his own after-show talk show which led to him being one of the most popular racers in the series, even getting the King's attention last month. So it wasn't shocking when the fans were on their feet already, salivating at the mouth to see the outcome of this race.
The race itself was short, sweet, and fast as hell, just as all drag races were. It was the perfect way to kick off the event. While the Duchess had history on her side, with her having defeated Touch before, she hadn't counted on Touch being so hungry to end the season off on a high note. When Touch captured the victory and thus the title, the crowd erupted in a frenzy. Moodswing could feel the excitement in the air as the crowd celebrated with the first two-time monarch in the series. This was a good start for what Moodswing intended to be a history making night.
LONGITUDE & LATITUDE vs. STYLES SITHOLE & JUAN VAN ZONDER
Admittedly, Moodswing hadn't anticipated much investment in this race on the fan's part. But alas, he'd been wrong. While he couldn't put his finger on why the fans were so happy with what they were about to see, Moodswing soon got help in figuring it out. "You know, I still don't see what my sister finds attractive about that guy," said Brenda Koek, now next to Moodswing, dressed in her race suit.
Moodswing wanted to quip but was a bit confused. "You're gonna have to be more specific, Brenda. There's four guys out there."
"The blonde one. Doris told me that Teresa has a crush."
"Ncaaah. But I'm sure that will pass."
Brenda gave him a look. "Huh. I didn't think you'd want it to pass. After all, that's what got her interested in this race. She wants him and Styles to win. We all do."
This got Moodswing's interest piqued. "Really, and why's that?"
Brenda gave him another look. "Well besides what they did to my pit stall and the fact that they can be A-Grade assholes sometimes, it's because they've had the titles for so long. People are ready to see new Relay Barons."
Moodswing looked at her like he was expecting her to continue. "Wait, that's it? That's the reason they're into this race?"
Brenda looked at Moodswing curiously this time. "Interesting. And here I thought you'd deliberately designed it this way." When Moodswing simply looked at her, dumbfounded, she went on. "You know, with your whole wrestling obsession: have a tag team keep their titles for so long that by the time they lose the titles, the fans rejoice because they're sick of them?"
Moodswing thought about that for a second and almost laughed. He didn't know whether to be insulted that she would think he'd deliberately keep titles on a team for that reason or to be impressed that she had this kind of insight into pro wrestling. "Well if that's what they're all thinking, then they should prepare to be disappointed. I don't fix things that well. And this ain't no tag team match," said Moodswing quoting Glen, "this is a team sport."
Brenda rolled her eyes and walked away, clearly not needing to be told this. Now armed with the knowledge of why the fans were into it, Moodswing watched the race intently, eager to see if Longs and Lats would retain their titles. The race itself was outstanding, with Styles delivering on the thrills with his breath-taking power slides complimenting JVZ's bread and butter techniques that managed to steal the lead on three separate occasions. In the end though, Longitude and Latitude proved why they'd been reigning as Relay Barons for as long as they have.
JIM KIECK vs. BRENDA KOEK
When Moodswing had hired Jim Kieck, he had been well aware of the Playboy's reputation with the ladies. In fact, he had been banking on it, hoping to use it to somehow manufacture romantic storylines out of him for the series. Moodswing had never dreamed that he would be so successful in his goal. In fact, Moodswing had been so worried that any and all romance angles would fail, that he'd created the much-hated Valentine's Day-themed pay-per-view, Heart-Attack to try and force love stories out of his racers. In the end, there had been little need for it (which was good because Moodswing planned to go back to the drawing board with that P.P.V.) as Jim and his womanizing nature had been enough to spark rivalries with John Kloof, Thawn Oberhauser and now Brenda Koek.
Unlike the situation with John Kloof where their personal differences breathed life into their rivalry or with Thawn Oberhauser where Jim's actions had basically created the rivalry with little help from Moodswing, this rivalry had needed Moodswing to push things along. It had begun dramatically enough with Longitude and Latitude defacing Brenda's pit stall. When she'd refused to retaliate, it was Jim who had come to her aid by defacing the Relay Barons' pit stall in return. Moodswing would do the only thing a good showrunner would do and sanctioned a title defense between the monarchs and the pair of Brenda and Jim. While Jim and Brenda would lose, it would be the actions of Jim trying to comfort Brenda with a hug and Brenda shoving him away that Moodswing would use as a catalyst for this rivalry. Admittedly, it was a thin excuse for a race with the build-up being seemingly one-sided with only Jim making an effort by continuing to pursue the unrequited Brenda.
The race itself also seemed to be waning in interest for the crowd as they weren't louder than they usually were on Fuel during impressive overtakes. However, Moodswing felt a wave of vindication after the race. After picking up the victory, Jim had done the unthinkable when he planted a kiss on Brenda that, from everyone else's perspective, she was into. With the "wooo's" thundering through the area from the crowd, Moodswing suddenly felt okay with having put this race in his masterpiece.
THAWN OBERHAUSER vs. SOLO MAGUBANE vs. DARCY STEVENS
Just as Moodswing was about to silently congratulate himself for the next race, he was approached by a man that he'd been dying to meet in person for years. A man he'd only known by reputation. A man who went by the honorary title of Captain: Ken Khumalo.
"Well if it isn't Terrance Moodley." The Zulu man was taller than Moodswing thought he'd be but he wore an intense look on his face and his very presence seemed to command respect. Even though he was smartly dressed in a sports blazer, he wore a cap. "Mister President," he said extending his hand.
Moodswing shook it. "Captain Khumalo. Honored to make your acquaintance." Moodswing had to fight off being star struck. "I have to say, when I sent my invitation to the Academy for you to join us, I wasn't expecting you to actually show. I mean," said Moodswing, still in awe, "a Captain at a local racing event."
"Well your 'local' racing series has taken the southern part of the continent by storm. And I'm sure you know that my title is similar to sports leaders, not military."
While Moodswing did know that, it didn't take away from the honor. "Well you know what they say in racing: everything's a mystery when it comes to the Academy."
The Captain simply smiled and politely changed the subject. "So I see you managed to get Soloman Magubane into your series. I've heard a lot about him after he won an Auto One grand prix in Egypt a couple of years ago."
"I'm sure you're surprised to see him here. Must feel like a big step down."
"On the contrary, looking at what you've done with this series and heights its reached, it's more like a lateral move." Captain Khumalo saw the look on Moodswing's face: a face of a man who'd just been given high praise. "Hey, when you've got Auto One racers talking about your series, good or bad, then you've done something right. Hell, I'm even hearing about all the rivals that Solo's gotten over here." Captain Khumalo pointed towards the race track. "Are those some of them?"
Moodswing nodded before explaining how this race came about. Unlike with Brenda Koek and Jim Kieck, Moodswing hadn't needed to do much to get Solo, Thawn and Stevie to this point. It had started when Thawn challenged Stevie to a race at Sunday Night Easter out of the blue and beaten her before berating Solo the following night on Fuel after defeating him too. That swiftly led to Solo taking exception to Thawn's words and then calling out both Thawn and Stevie believing them to have stolen the spotlight for themselves which led directly to Glen sanctioning this race featuring three of the biggest stars in the series.
Moodswing was thrilled to see that the Captain was intrigued by the build-up of the race. He was even more thrilled to see the Captain genuinely entertained by the 3-Way Match Race, so much so, that he was even commenting on nice moves and impressive drafting techniques. This gave Moodswing a radical idea. He was sure that Captain Khumalo was going to turn it down but he had to ask. "Say, how would you feel if I offered you a job?"
The Captain didn't answer until the race had ended and Thawn's hand was raised in victory. "I'd say: I'll only take it if I get to add something to this beautiful thing that you've created here. And, what did you have in mind?"
KING MANDLA XULU vs. JOHN KLOOF
"I hope you know how great a thing it is that you've created here."
Moodswing didn't need to turn around to know that it was the Deputy Mayor of Ngelosi that was speaking. "Deputy Mayor Xulu. Glad to see you could make it. How do you do?"
"There was no way I was going to miss my son's performance." The Deputy Mayor looked at the screen showing the thousands of fans spectating around the racetrack, waiting in anticipation. "Quite the audience you've gathered here. I hear that the number of people here are over 6000. That's over double any of your other race nights."
Moodswing smiled. "We call them pay-per-views, Mister Deputy Mayor. And yes, we have managed to double the numbers. But we always knew that that was going to happen." It was true. It's was how he had planned it all along. While the previous P.P.V. street circuits had been designed using certain sections of the city, this street circuit was designed to be a combination of all of them, using parts of every P.P.V. circuit and thus becoming the biggest circuit of the series, thus adding to that feeling that this was the culmination of the whole season.
"Pay-per-views huh? I see. And please call me Dee Em. All my friends do." The D.M. and Moodswing shared a smile. "You should know that your uhm, sports entertainment franchise here, is quickly becoming quite the tourist attraction for Azania, specifically Ngelosi."
While Moodswing was wise enough not to say it, he knew that it was. He knew from the moment he thought up the idea of Formula-X, sitting in that bar with Glen that this franchise would be a hit and a bonafide attraction for the city. After all, all they were doing was capitalizing on an established racing culture that the city had already brought to life, albeit turning it from underground to legitimate. The only thing Moodswing didn't know, was that it would in fact be a smash hit and start bringing people in from the mainland.
The D.M. interrupted his thoughts, noting that the race was about to begin. As the title race took place, Moodswing thought about the build-up to this race and how poetic it was that said build-up had required both his guiding hand and contribution from the racers. While Moodswing had to form the groundwork of the feature race by naming John Kloof as the Number One Claimant, the rest of the rivalry had built itself: the story of a man's rise to the top versus the powerful politician's son. It also helped that Kloof's rise to the top had had a slow burn feel to it, starting with his rivalry with Jim Kieck to winning the Scramble Race to fighting to be a feature-racer and culminating in this race to become Formula-X King.
The crowd was also loving it. As it turned out, Kloof had managed to build himself a fan base along the way which was giving King Mandla's built-in supporters a run for their money. While many had assumed that King Mandla was only in the series to gain more supporters for his father, what few knew was that Moodswing had had his own agenda which was to try and make racing fans out of C.M.A. supporters as well. Moodswing was smart enough to know that it didn't matter if the political party members were only showing up to support the D.M's son. Paying customers were paying customers. Unfortunately, what Moodswing couldn't have predicted was what happened next... When John Kloof upset the Deputy Mayor's son to capture the Crown.
"Wait," said the D.M. "Wait, wait, wait," he said, becoming unsettled. "what is this?" The man looked at Moodswing. "What is this?" Moodswing didn't know how to answer that question. "I said, what the hell is going on?"
"Your son lost the race, Dee Em."
"I can see that. But why? Why did he lose?" The D.M. saw that Moodswing was confused yet. "Why did he lose? Why would you do that?"
It finally occurred to Moodswing what was going on inside the Deputy Mayor's head. He thought the races were staged. He thought everything was scripted. "Dee Em," started Moodswing before he realized that calling him that was fast becoming a no-no. "Mister Deputy Mayor, the races in the series are legitimate. The racers actually have to compete to determine a winner. I'm sorry, but tonight, John Kloof was the better racer."
The D.M. seemingly thought about that for a moment before speaking. "So what you're saying is that you have no control over the outcome of these races." This was a statement, not a question. "What you're saying is that you effectively brought my son out here to be humiliated." This was a threat, not a statement.
While Moodswing was aware of who he was speaking too and knew that he needed to tread lightly, he wasn't about to back down, even from the second most powerful man in the city. "Sir, I brought your son into this series because I believed in him. I believed that he had a natural talent as a racer. And I believed that he could be King. And Sir, I believe that he loves doing this." As if on cue, the crowd began clapping and both Moodswing and the D.M. looked down to the finish line to see Mandla thanking his supporters tearfully. It was this that stopped Mandla's father from arguing any further.
"This isn't over, Mister Moodley." The Deputy Mayor then turned and left without further incident, leaving Moodswing to ponder his words and what they would mean for the future of is franchise. But he didn't ponder it long as he watched John Kloof celebrate with his wife and daughter, champagne poured all over him. While Moodswing indeed had an obsession with sports opera and the twist and turns it brought to the speedway, he was happy that the season ended on such a high note. Which was just perfect for the closing ceremony.
CLOSING ACT OF THE GRAND PRIX
When Moodswing took the stage again, he was accompanied by the new F-X King who in-turn was accompanied by his family. It hadn't been the initial plan but Moodswing wasn't an idiot. He knew that having them by his side would give his send-off that feel-good feeling. And what a feeling it was. Moodswing could feel the goosebumps under his suit. He could feel the energy feeding off the crowd. The rumbling from the claps which forced Moodswing to pause and take it in. It was at this point that he knew that he'd achieved overwhelming success. But this wasn't the time to pat himself on the back.
On purpose, Moodswing turned to look at King John and gestured at him. "I hope you know that this," he said pointing at the crowd, "this is for you, buddy. I think I speak on everybody's behalf when I say well done and congratulations. You deserve it." This proved to be the perfect thing to say as the crowd broke into applause, all 6000 strong.
Moodswing continued. "Now, before I bring on Miss Zansi to close the show, I wanted to take this moment to thank everyone, not just for coming out here today but for supporting us throughout the season. Today could not have happened without you and the season certainly would not have been complete if all of you didn't show your passion and love for our brand of sports entertainment from the word go. It is without a doubt in my mind that I can say that it is because of you that we will be back for Season Two. " It was at this point that the cheers grew louder.
Moodswing continued." Oh yeah, we will be back, this September, bigger and better than ever. But for now, let's celebrate with the victors," he said, once again gesturing to the new F-X King, "and please, help me welcome back to the stage, the lovely Miss Zansi."
By the time Moodswing left the stage, he could barely breathe, he was so excited. He'd done it. He given birth to an idea and then worked hard to see it come to fruition. And here it was, the fruits of his labor. They'd loved it. They'd completely and utterly loved it. While it had only been a catchphrase when he came up with it, Moodswing realized that he'd been right to call the event "the biggest finale in sports entertainment". That sense of closure could not be overlooked. It truly felt like one chapter was closing which meant that come September, another one would need to be opened. But if this chapter had been this good, then Moodswing wasn't worried about the next. This was just the beginning and he was going to prove it...