WU SHI ACADEMY — The organizers behind the regular Earthrealm-Outworld martial-arts tournament have come under fire from international regulatory agencies upon the revelation that their competition does not seem to have any actual rules.
“I sat down for an interview with Black Belt magazine last week to discuss my upcoming movie First Constable,” said Johnny Cage, an actor who participated in the most recent tournament. “I’d gotten halfway through the story about the qualifying rounds before the guy asks me, ‘Wait, they let a guy have a sword?’ For some reason, I didn’t think that was weird until right then. So you’re telling me I could’ve just brought an Uzi?”
After Cage went public with his concerns, additional footage was released that indicates the tournament does not have any recognizable bracket structure, with a single competitor often asked to fight up to four single-elimination matches in a single day. It also has no regulations that govern weight classes, protective gear, prohibited holds, women’s divisions, cybernetic enhancements, schools of magic, automatic weapons, high explosives, close air support, or victors being permitted to tear off and keep a defeated opponent’s head, skull, or spine.
“We were shown footage of a competitor who ate his opponent’s arm, bones and all,” said Rupert Nichols, chairman of the board of directors of UN Interdimensional Contact Sports, a quickly-formed agency that governs worldwide participation in interrealm competitions. “Ordinarily, that would be an obvious disqualification, but the Outworld judges disagree. We’re trying to get it to the point where it at least costs you points for the round.”
Added Nichols, “We’re told their chess circuit is even worse, if you can believe it.”
The tournament reportedly has been ongoing for roughly four thousand years, but was a closely kept secret of the Shaolin order until last month. Records indicate that no competitor has been seriously injured or killed in the inter-realm tournament within its known history. This has drawn fire from critics, who note that by Shaolin archivists’ standards, shattered ribs, broken necks, skull fractures, impalement, or getting both hips dislocated by prehensile hair are not considered “serious injuries.”
“I’ve always written it off as being Outworld’s culture,” said Liu Kang, God of Fire and Earthrealm’s chief sponsor for the tournament. “You have to understand that every single person there is, by our standards, a superhuman murderer with actual centuries of martial-arts experience. The most normal person over there can still conjure fireworks directly inside your chest cavity. Worse, she’s a cop.”
“This really is an improvement, as hard as it may be for you to believe,” Kang continued. “Before my New Era, the original tournament was a visibly rigged, deliberately unfair blood sport that we started as a desperate attempt to keep these assholes from running through us like shoppers on Black Friday. We’d throw an entire generation of Earthrealm fighters into a meat grinder every century, in the blind hope that sooner or later, one of them would think to punch Goro in the dick.”
When asked what he meant by “original tournament” or “New Era,” Kang claimed he’d left his oven on and disappeared in a pillar of blue fire.
News of the competition’s lax rules has drawn both international condemnation and a groundswell of interest. Sign-ups for next year’s tournament already number in the thousands, roughly half of whom are eager to participate in a competition that reclassifies live gunfire as an element of a contact sport.
“We’re going to have to reform the whole thing, top to bottom,” said Nichols. “We’re imposing a new set of rules. Single elimination, one-on-one fights. No wizards. No weapons unless both sides have one. And calling upon the spirits of your ancestors who eternally dwell within your magical blade still constitutes match interference. I feel like I shouldn’t have to tell you that.”
At time of writing, Dylan Casey had been appointed as Earthrealm’s first official in-ring referee for the tournament, and shortly afterward, was stabbed to death with his own broken leg.