Joe Bergman RP.
“…yeah. Because those douchebags OCW idiots jumped us at the end of tonight’s show, Clay, Harrison, Solex, and I are going to Oklahoma City and pay those boys a little receipt on tomorrow night’s OCW Monday Night Massacre.”
The phone call with Xander Azula combined with the lights of the oncoming traffic in the opposite two lanes on Interstate 44 did wonders to keep Joe Bergman alert and more importantly- awake.
“Right, Xander. Dawn McGill will be at the Barn tomorrow morning to open up… so you’d better be ready for just about anything,” Joe continued. He’d remembered hearing all about the chaos that ensued when Dawn showed up at training last week and brought in MVW tag team Beer Bellied Softball Playin’ Ninja to ‘work’ with Xander. “Look at it this way. She may actually take it easy on you tomorrow. You definitely earned a little respite… especially after the way you took care of Josh Conway tonight.”
Swinging his rental car into the passing lane and blowing past a late model Mercury Topaz that couldn’t keep up with the posted speed limit of 75 miles and hour… no tolerance (that’s what it says on the speed limit signs)… on I-44 aka the Turner Turnpike, Joe checked his watch.
He’d just passed the Bristow exit a couple miles back and figured he was a little more than an hour out of Oklahoma City. Joe booked a room at a Fairfield Inn across the street from the Paycom Center- the site of OCW’s Monday Night Massacre show and a good night’s sleep beckoned- especially after The Board/OCW beatdown.
“Okay. That sounds good, Xander. Get some rest. You’re going to need it. I will see you on Tuesday.”
Bergman ended the call and placed his cell phone back down in a cupholder on the console of his rental vehicle. He’d already received the less than charitable text from Lee Best after the show informing him that he would be facing Scott Stevens Sunday night at Chaos 5 in Dallas, Texas- the final show before the Dead or Alive pay per view in Tombstone, Arizona.
The second shoe dropped a little while later when Lee made it official- Joe Bergman and Steve Harrison would be defending the Highwaymen’s HOW Tag Team Title at Dead or Alive in a three-way match against the Board’s Jace Parker Davidson and Stronk Godson and the team of Bobbinette Carey and the returning Conor Fuse.
The booking itself didn’t surprise Joe in the least. After the chicanery Lee pulled a few weeks ago trying to put a wedge in between him and the other three Highwaymen backfired spectacularly on The Board, he figured Lee would book him to defend the tag belts at Dead or Alive for the Highwaymen.
Wrestling 101… so they say.
However, the silver lining of what happened at Chaos 3 following Steve Harrison and Clay Byrd’s win over Bergman and Darin Zion was that Adam Ellis ended up getting a match at Dead or Alive… a MVW title defense no less… against Zion. Darin predictably went complete Zion after the loss and attacked Joe. Ellis… watching the show with several MVW wrestlers in the front row… charged the ring and shoved Zion into a ringpost. Zion went further Zion by unleashing a totally and typically Zion-ish unhinged tirade on Ellis and challenged him to a match for the MVW Title at Dead or Alive.
Joe actively advocated for the match to take place during a meeting with Ray and HOW officials. He thought it would be good for Adam to return to the big stage and hopefully show HOW or any of the other companies out there that he was ready for the big leagues.
The sum effect of the match this week and the tag title defense at Dead or Alive? Bergman would not be spending a whole lot of time at the Barn for the next three weeks. The Barn would be okay. Dawn McGill needed something to do wrestling wise after she returned from several months of cruising around the Caribbean and attending Jimmy Buffett concerts all over America with her husband Rah- The Sunshine God. She offered to come in a couple days a week to help Joe- especially now that he’d resumed his wrestling career.
Forty-five minutes later, Joe saw the big Interstate 35 interchange off in the distance as while hurtling down a slight three mile grade down a gentle hill at 80 miles an hour. He passed under the three green road signs over the highway presenting the upcoming options he had at the interchange.
Joe could exit right on I-35 North and head up to Wichita, Kansas. He could go straight on the Kilpatrick Turnpike which would take him around Oklahoma City and empty him out on Interstate 40 west towards Amarillo, Texas. OR… he could exit left on I-35 South and I-44 and head into town.
Joe chose his route and changed lanes to take the Oklahoma City option. In the middle of a long, slow left turn, his phone went off. He glanced down at the console.
Driving the car with his left hand, Joe picked up the phone with his right hand and answered. “Hey.”
“Is there something wrong?”
“Oh. No no Joe. Everything’s okay. Libby went right to sleep the second I laid her down on her bed. I only had to be in there with her for just a few minutes.”
As per their divorce agreement, Laura Bergman flew in from New York City at least once a month to spend time with the Bergman’s 18 month old child Olivia… aka Libby. On this particular evening, Libby had a bad nightmare while staying at Laura’s apartment on the outskirts of St. Louis and she took her back to Joe’s house and back to a very familiar bed.
“Thanks for letting me stay here tonight.”
“No problem. I’m glad you still had a key to get into the house.” Joe said as he merged onto I-35 southbound towards Oklahoma City.
“It’s a little weird being back here even though the place doesn’t really look too different other than there’s a lot more space than I remember.”
Joe and Laura split the furniture, appliances, and pretty much everything right down the middle. Hence, the lack of certain furniture creating Joe’s additional interior space inside the house.
Joe chuckled. “Yeah, I really haven’t had a chance to think about the furniture inside the house. I may decide to pick up a few things up at some point.”
”Oh… and I see you’ve got a Tiffani Amber Thiessen pin up photo as a background on your laptop.”
Joe grinned and shot back: “To be honest, Laura. It’s always been there.”
Laura’s turn to chuckle.
“Okay. I knew you had to change your travel plans and drive to Oklahoma City after the show instead of flying back to St. Louis… so I just wanted to call and let you know that Libby’s okay and she’s sound asleep.”
“Sounds good. I appreciate it Laura.”
Joe waited for Laura to finish her sentence.
He hears her sigh.
“… I guess I’ll talk to you soon.”
You know Scott, I know you’ve been struggling in the ring for quite a while now. I know you’ve tried just about everything imaginable to rekindle the spark… to find some way… any way… to gain some traction and try to find a way out of the forest from the quicksand of malaise that your in-ring career has sunk into. The fact is this, Scott- I know you’re still a damn good wrestler and I completely understand your frustration.
But just between you and me… your frustration and… yes… impatience… continues to lead you into making really bad decisions.
Case in point, let’s go back about three months. April 21st. MVW’s Lock and Loaded show on HOTv. Main event. You defeated J.J. Bittinger to set yourself up for a number one contender’s match against ‘Redneck’ Bill Dickinson the next week. I know, Bittinger isn’t the level of competition that you would find up here in HOW… or PRIME… OCW… or SHOOT. But J.J.’s a damn serviceable wrestler who knows how to mask his flaws and shortcomings and get the most of his ability. That’s a good win for you, Scott and you had everything served up for you on a silver platter. You beat Dickinson and you’re all set up for a match against John O’Reilly for the title. You were two wins away from being the MVW Men’s champion.
IT WAS ALL RIGHT THERE FOR YOU!
And then for some inexplicable reason, you decide to go the with the whole homeless thing and THIS happened…
(HOW’s Refueled 95 Show- April 24th)
–One week after losing to Clay Byrd in a HOW War Games’ qualifier and stinking of booze and looking like he’s a homeless person, Scott Stevens is barred from entering the building.
-Stevens finally leaves but vows he’ll defeat Conor Fuse at War Games.
You no-showed the MVW show the next night. That’s right. You NO-SHOWED A CHANCE TO GET A TITLE SHOT! You gave Ray McAvay NO OTHER CHOICE but to take action.
Remember, this is the same guy who FIRED DARIN ZION ON THE SPOT for blowing off a Men’s Title defense at a MVW show to appear… if that’s what you want to call it… on HOW’s Refueled show banging on the door of a skybox and begging to be let in.
But Ray didn’t fire you, Scott. No. He did not.
Why? He knew something might have been up when your father Cary Stevens publicly appealed to you on the show to return to the Stevens Dynasty and your wife Lisa Barbosa-Stevens went through a real change of mood/heel turn.
Ray could have just cut bait and washed his hands of you but no… he suspended you indefinitely to give you a chance to get your act together and get things figured out.
Understand Ray McAvay’s frustration too, Scott. I believe he really thought you were going to be the next MVW Men’s champion. He knew you beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were fundamentally a better wrestler than John O’Reilly. He knew you were smart enough to steer clear of O’Reilly’s Cannonball Right Hand that had knocked out just about everyone on the roster at some point. Ray thought John would put up a fight but your quality would win out in the end.
Everything was right there in your grasp and then you went out and completely shot yourself in the foot on the whole homeless thing. That sure didn’t work out quite the way you thought it would, did it?
So don’t be putting stuff on McAvay. You gave him no choice.
After you got yourself suspended, you left the door wide open for Adam Ellis to come back and step up. McAvay brought Adam in and he got the match you should have had against Bill Dickinson in Valparaiso, Indiana… and won… and then went on to defeat O’Reilly in Normal, Illinois on May 9th to win the title.
After all of that, the fact that Ray McAvay ended your suspension and booked you this Saturday night at MVW’s house show in Coffeyville, Kansas tells me he still believes you are a viable wrestler.
The ball is back in your court Scott. So what are you going to do with it?
Or more interestingly, what incarnation of Scott Stevens is going to show up in Coffeyville on Saturday night? And on Sunday night down in Dallas at Chaos 5?
I envisioned you going in any number of different potential directions with your career when you came back. Personally, I would have gone with the aging pro wrestler desperately trying to get his act together one last time and make one last big run at the big time. I believe Ray held the same opinion.
What came over you… especially given your history with Lee… to come up with this idea?
(Comments by Scott Stevens at Refueled C)
I may not be the Son of God, or even the Grandson of God, but Lee Best had enough confidence in me to be his physical representation in the match that you can call me the Demigod of HOW…..
…And because of my Herculean effort Conor Fuse was dethroned as world champion and Team Best emerged victorious like I promised all the way back when I was the only one worthy of challenging Conor leading up to War Games…
…if it wasn’t for me America would’ve probably been killed by Steve Solex’s pet vulture. Besides, you think Lee Best would’ve spent a fortune on rehiring me and telling me specifically to get the job done if I wasn’t the defacto captain of Team Best?…
Never in a million years did I see Scott Stevens becoming the ‘Baghdad Bob’ for Lee Best.
NOTE: Baghdad Bob was the ‘information minister’ for Saddam Hussein whose outlandish pronouncements of Iraqi military supremacy over the Allied Coalition became the source of great amusement to many people during the Iraqi War.
Did not see that one coming at all.
(Scott Stevens at Chaos 3)
We are in the House of Best because the House of Best is everywhere Bare. GOD has blessed this…..city with his company’s presence so they can behold the power of 97 Red…
…you have failed GOD because you don’t see the 97 Red light anymore…
(Scott Stevens at Chaos 4)
Tonight is a splendous occasion of GOD working in mysterious ways and making sure his non-believers feel his wrath here tonight in Tulsa.
Or on second thought, maybe you’re not Baghdad Bob spouting nonsensical propaganda on Lee’s behalf after all. Maybe you’re a 97 Red televangelist and you believe you’re spreading the word of GOD by spouting nonsensical propaganda on Lee’s behalf.
(Scott Stevens at Chaos 1)
It has almost been a decade and it’s taken this long to finally decipher what the GOD of HOW has been trying to preach to me all this time and those words are simple; WHAT. WOULD. LEE. BEST. DO?
You’re actually Joel Osteen preaching from the pulpit of some fancy million dollar church except you go to fancy arenas to spread the word of GOD of HOW.
Well, praise Lee and pass the collection plate.
AND DON’T FORGET TO TITHE!
The last pro wrestling televangelist I remember was a man named Hoyt Williams. He’s a legend over in PRIME as a deity returning to unleash hell from the MASK of Malice currently worn by a wrestler named John Kennedy Royko, Jr.- a man who Williams brainwashed and turned into a marionette who Hoyt pulls the strings for.
Williams is billed as ‘God’s Champion.’
Are you Lee’s champion? The GOD of HOW’s champion?
Has Lee actually acknowledged anything that you’ve been doing?
No. He hasn’t.
How can you believe in the GOD of HOW when the GOD of HOW doesn’t believe in you?
How can you have faith in the GOD of HOW when the GOD of HOW doesn’t have faith in you?
Look, I’m always all in on a redemption story. I love a good redemption story. But brother, you’re not looking for redemption… you’re not looking to atone for past sins… you’re just looking for an angle. You’re looking for any way possible to get back into the picture and recapture something you once had.
However, I will give you points for… as Blaire Moise pointed out when she interviewed you at Chaos 2… fully embracing the gimmick.
So, let’s cut the sports entertainment bullshit and get to the real reason you and I are going to be sharing a ring this Sunday night in Dallas, Texas. Lee booked this thing just to throw another obstacle in the Highwaymen’s way on the road to Tombstone for Dead or Alive.
You’re not there as the GOD of HOW’s shield, banging down your staff with the fiery passion of Gandolf staring down a gruesome monster borne of fire and fervently declaring YOU… SHALL… NOT… PASS!
I hate to break it to you but you’re no Hoyt Williams pulling the strings here. The GOD of HOW is pulling your strings.
You’re the equivalent of the lame superhero wannabes in Deadpool 2 who all die horrible deaths on their first job.
You’re the 97 red shirt on Star Trek.
You’re cannon fodder.
You’re an expendable chess pawn to be sacrificed with an eye on the bigger picture and Lee’s hope he can somehow manipulate the Highwaymen into a more advantageous position that The Board can take advantage of.
To Joe Bergman, you’re nothing more than a momentary distraction.
You see Scott, I am focused on the job at hand- retaining the tag belts at Dead or Alive. I’m not interested in your latest sports entertainment bullshit angle.
So I’ll see you this Sunday night and I promise you this much… Joe Bergman will be all business. I’m coming for you in Dallas, Texas… and I’m bringing hell with me.
Following Bergman, Byrd, Harrison, and Solex’s surprise appearance at OCW’s Monday Massacre in Oklahoma City to dispense a little payback to Bob Greiner and JAM for their attack at Chaos 4, Joe flew back to St. Louis the next morning and returned to his Plattin, Missouri homestead a little after lunch.
Joe parked the car inside the garage, grabbed his travel bag and luggage out of the back seat, and trudged to the house. He opened the door and maneuvered his way inside.
“Libby!” he called out in a weary voice. “Daddy’s home.”
Joe stopped in the foyer and waited. Usually, Joe’s babysitter would come out at that point with Libby… Libby would run to her daddy and give him a big hug.
Joe did a doubletake.
The brunette, mid-thirties, athletic, well-dressed woman standing in his living room definitely did not fit the description of his babysitter.
“Um… hi Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth aka… Chicago Channel Five news reporter Elizabeth Carlisle arrived at the house earlier in the morning and gave the babysitter Joe arranged to be there the rest of the day off.
Joe Bergman had spent three weeks training Elizabeth for a multi-part feature on pro wrestling that she did a month ago, cumulating with her actually wrestling in a match that took place before a Missouri Valley Wrestling pay per view show.
Elizabeth wore a headset and wore a nice shirt with sweatpants ensemble today.
“Yeah, I’m kind of working from home… er, I mean from your house,” she said, noticing Joe’s quizzical expression as he looking at her unorthodox ensemble. “Yeah. Just a couple calls I needed to make on a story.”
“I see.” Joe put the travel bag at the foot of the stairs so he would remember to take it upstairs and unpack later.
To say he was surprised to see Elizabeth at the house would be an understatement. Joe hadn’t spoken to Elizabeth much since the new story aired.
Elizabeth pointed upstairs. “She’s asleep.”
“Asleep?” Joe thought it seemed a little odd for Libby to take a nap this early in the day.
“We went and played in the park this morning and she totally wore herself out. She crashed the second we got home.”
“Okay. She had fun?” Joe asked.
“She had a blast.” Elizabeth confirmed. “I had some free time this week and I thought it would be fun to stop out and surprise you since I’ve haven’t had a chance to talk to you for awhile. Elizabeth looked down for a brief second and then glanced back up at Joe. “What do you think? Grab some lunch?”
“Okay.” Joe checked his watch. “I probably need to run out to the Barn and check on things. Then we can wake Libby up and go to the North End Tavern for a quick bite to eat.”
“It’s a plan.”
After washing his hands in the kitchen sink, Joe strode out the back door and walked across the property towards the barn. He could hear the activity going on inside along with the sound of a couple of bullwhips being used- hopefully not on the students… and there were several cars parked around the barn.
Joe reached for the door. But his cell phone went off so he stepped back and looked at the display.
Not thinking anything more of it, Joe answered the call. “Hey Laura, what’s up?”
“Hey Joe. I just wanted to thank you again for letting me stay at the house. It really made it easier to calm Libby down the other night.”
“Oh no problem at all, Laura. I’m sure it helped Libby go to sleep.” Joe took a quick peek into the barn through the window on the door. He could see Dawn running a couple of the youngster ragged.
“I missed that. I missed that…” Her voice then dropped to a whisper, “…a lot.”
And then Laura went quiet.
“Is everything okay, Laura?” Joe finally said after thirty seconds of dead air.
“Joe… I may have made a terrible mistake.”
Joe took a deep breath. The first thing that went through his mind was Laura still found herself struggling with her new New York City corporate job.
“it’s going to be okay, Laura,” Joe responded in calm voice to offer some reassurance to her. “Look. You’ve only been at your new job for a little over three months now. New job. New city. I just… I just think it’s going to take time to adjust to a-“
“No. You don’t understand.”
Joe could hear her take a deep breath and then exhale.
“I may have made a mistake about us, Joe.”