Friday October 21st
Rumble at the Rock.
Not my favorite pay-per-view.
You see, Rumble at The Rock is traditionally the most violent, hardcore pay-per-view of the PPV’s HOW runs every year. That’s not particularly Joe Bergman’s cup of tea. ICONIC… March to Glory… that’s more in my wheelhouse that focuses more on technical ability instead of the brutality that RATR is all about. I even prefer the War Games pay-per-view… even though it can get a little on the violent side… to RATR.
I’m not a hardcore wrestler. Period. Scottywood, he’s a hardcore wrestler. Obviously, Scott Stevens can go hardcore as well. Not me. I am an old-school technician. I’ve never gone to the ring with the express purpose of trying to hurt someone. That’s just not my style. Crucifying someone to a cross like either Scottywood or Scott Stevens will do at RATR is just not my thing.
Two years ago, Mike Best killed Max Kael at RATR. Hell, Mike killed Chris Kostoff in the ring once- but Chris got better and returned. Of course, Lee killed him at the Dead or Alive PPV earlier this year. Last year, Mike and Conor Fuse went to war in a match that featured crucifixion, electrocution, and then an anything-goes match in the final fall.
Now I will admit that I enjoyed the wild match Darin Zion and Xander Azula had a couple of years ago at RATR but in general, again, it’s not my thing.
Of course, my first experience with the Rumble at the Rock pay-per-view wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience. Wrestling as Halitosis, I went into the match as the World champion after I stunned HOW by defeating John Sektor for the title. I then would go on to lose the title at RATR in a three-way match against Cecilworth Farthington and Dan Ryan via toilet murder by Farthington.
But here we are. Bobby Dean vs. Joe Bergman at Rumble at the Rock. If I win, I get a HOTv tag team title match with the partner of my choice. If you win, well, then I don’t get a HOTv tag team title match.
Bobby, let’s first talk about the best-of-five series between the Egg Bandits and the Highwaymen.
The first match you guys won fair and square. I have no complaints about how that went down.
Then there was match number two. For some reason, you and the Bandits decided you needed to cheat to make sure you got the win. You pulled the same crap with Steve Solex that you guys would pull with me in the fourth match and you and Cancer Jiles turned the match into a handicap match. Solex finally made it to the ring late. You put him in the Bear Hug and Steve didn’t have any strength to fight out of it.
So after Solex and I lost the first two matches, I knew the only viable path forward for the Highwaymen to retain the titles would be winning the next two matches at MVW to force the fifth match at Rumble at the Rock. I steeled myself to that possibility. I made peace with the idea. I was ready to go.
Match three. We won the third match by fighting fire with fire. Clay Byrd came out from the crowd, delivered four chair shots that took out Doozer and Bobby, and rolled me over Dean for the pinfall win. The Highwaymen repaid the Bandits for what went down in match two. That should have been the end of the outside interference bullshit, right?
Cancer Jiles decided in his infinite wisdom that in match four he would take us on all by himself with Bobby and Doozer. Okay. He asked for a handicap match. We’ll give him a handicap match. Well, at least we thought is going to be a handicap match. But then this happened…
(Saturday October 8th– Cell Phone Video Backstage at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute, Indiana.)
Joe Bergman and Steve Solex slaps hands. Then Solex heads to the gorilla position and waits for his music to start.
Bergman then turns to his current significant other, Missouri Valley Wrestling Women’s Champion Victoria McGill.
“Go get them,” she says and follows with a quick kiss. “Get the win tonight and take it to Rumble at the Rock.”
Joe nods. He knows the job ahead of him tonight.
Tori then walks back towards the dressing leaving Joe all by himself- which proves problematic in five… four… three… two… one…
Out of nowhere, Doozer levels Bergman with a forearm shot to the back of his neck. Bergman down. Doozer is joined by Bobby Dean and they stomp the holy hell out of Bergman.
In the background, Steve Solex’s entrance music is heard and a huge roar from the crowd can be heard backstage.
Meanwhile, Doozer and Dean continue to rough up Bergman. Doozer pulls him up. Dean takes an arm. They chuck Bergman towards the wall…
…and Joe takes two steps back and collapses to the floor.
“WHAT THE HELL!” a female voice shrieks.
The cell phone turns and a very pissed-off Sunny O’Callahan jumps on Doozer’s back. Doozer just spins around and backs into the wall as hard as he can.
O’Callahan relaxes her grip and Doozer takes a couple of steps forward, she slides down his back to the floor, unconscious.
A HOTv cameraman sees the downed Bergman and O’Callahan and starts to film.
Doozer and Dean appear satisfied with the work they’ve done. Then…
“Ooof…” Doozer says as Victoria McGill jumps on his back. McGill pounds on Doozer’s back and shoulders.
Finally, Doozer flips Tori over his head and she lands hard back first on the floor. Both Bobby and Doozer raise their leg to stomp on her.
“OH NO YOU DON’T!” another voice calls out authoritatively.
Before the two Egg Bandits know it, MVW Security arrived on the scene and they swarm all over Doozer and Dean… forcing them away from Victoria McGill and Joe Bergman.
MVW Owner Ray McAvay emerges from the group.
In the background, Bergman’s entrance music can be heard.
“All right, you two,” Ray McAvay, pointing towards the back. “Go!”
Doozer smirks and Bobby just smiles as MVW Security escort them away from the scene of the attack. Medical personnel then attend to Bergman and O’Callahan. Tori rolls over and checks on Joe as well.
I mean, I guess I can give you credit for finding the loophole around Ray McAvay’s ‘no one else is allowed at ringside edict’ by attacking me backstage before I went down to the ring. But the fact that it’s clear as a bell you three orchestrated this whole thing… well, shame on us. The Highwaymen were in the building that night. Maybe we should have anticipated this. Maybe we should have expected and planned for this.
All I know is this… I’ve watched the video of the fourth match every day since we lost the HOTv Tag belts. Not because I care to relive what happened that night over and over again. I don’t want to forget what happened that night. I want it to course through my veins. I want to use it as fuel and ride that wave to victory at Rumble at the Rock.
But the biggest reason we’re here is the fact that it wasn’t bad enough that I was jumped before the match and taken out of the equation. It wasn’t bad enough that Cancer Jiles pinned Steve Solex. But no, Bobby, you had to climb up the turnbuckle and send Solex through a table with your fat, sweaty body on top of him… breaking his ribs… putting him out of action for an unspecified amount of time.
Bobby, I know what you’re doing over at the Sanctioned Violence Organization. You’re the Roulette champion. You’ve defended the title successfully seven times now. You’re over at PRIME with the Bandits as well. You’re doing well there.
You’re in a good spot in both places. It makes zero sense to me that you, Doozer, and Jiles are THAT desperate for relevance that you took the money Lee Best splashed in front of you to do the job and get the belts off the Highwaymen. I mean, wasn’t the sole purpose of the Egg Bandits coming back to HOW to get the tag belts off the Highwaymen?
And you did that. Congratulations.
But then you, Doozer, and Jiles crossed the line after you won the belts.
There was no reason whatsoever to do what you did to Steve Solex.
But you did it, Bobby. You took Solex out with the expectation that he wouldn’t be coming back for a long time. Mission accomplished. Solex is out. Not sure how long he’ll be on the shelf, but he’s out for a while.
You did it, Bobby. And now… at Rumble at the Rock. You’re going to pay.
What Clay Byrd did to you and Doozer in match three by taking you both out with a steel-folding chair? Nope, it’s going to pale in comparison to what I’m going to do to you, Bobby. I’m not going to bash your brains in with a steel-folding chair. I’m not going to stoop to your level by taking shortcuts and cheating to win.
No, it’s pretty simple.
Dragon Sleeper… Bobby Dean… Collision course.
You’re going to sleep.
Bobby, I going to remember everything you guys did to Steve Solex that night when I’ve got the Dragon Sleeper locked in on you. I’m going to remember as I watch your eyes flitter… knowing that the light is dimming for you… watching as you fall into total darkness. You may be over 150 pounds heavier than I am. But you can’t hit what you can’t catch up with. And as the legendary Chris Kostoff found out, you cut off the air to your brain and you go night-night. Bobby, you’re going night-night at Rumble at the Rock and Joe Bergman is going to get a HOTv Tag Team match.
Then the Highwaymen are going to win the tag belts back from the Egg Bandits.
With Solex out, who will be my tag team partner? Steve Harrison? Well, he’ll be busy as the new HOW World Champion after RATR so maybe not. Clay Byrd? Sure. If he wants to, I would be happy to tag with him and take the belts back.
We could look outside the Highwaymen. Maybe… Adam Ellis? Adam’s a former HOW tag team champion with John Sektor. And even better, I’m sure the sight of Ellis back in a HOW ring would probably piss off Lee Best to no end. Bergman and Ellis winning the HOTv tag team belts from the Bandits? Oooh. What do you think would happen if Ellis and Bergman won the HOTv Tag Team title belts back from the Egg Bandits?
Bobby, I’m pretty sure if an Ellis-Bergman tag team defeated the Bandits, Lee Best would probably consider that to be a Bottomline-pen level offense.
Or… what about Rah! I tagged with Rah in Missouri Valley Wrestling as the Island of Misfit Wrestlers and with Dawn McGill leading the way, Rah and I were two-time MVW tag team champions so I know we are a good team. I’m sure it wouldn’t take too much persuasion to get Rah to come back to HOW and go after the HOTv Tag Team title with me.
If a Rah-Bergman team would defeat the Bandits… I’m pretty sure that’s probably a Bottomline-pen level offense too.
Regardless of whom I tag with… whether it’s Harrison, Byrd, Ellis, or Rah… the ending is still going to be the same for you and the other Bandits. We’re taking the belts back by any means necessary and it all starts at Rumble at the Rock… Alcatraz Island… Sunday October 30th when I beat your ass and put you to sleep.
Dragon Sleeper. Bobby Dean. Collision course.
Let’s be clear, Bobby… at Rumble at the Rock, Joe Bergman is leaving Mr. Nice Guy Joe Bergman at home when he heads to Alcatraz.
I am a Highwayman.
Like a cowboy wearing an old brace of pistols in my belt… riding, hell-bent for leather down a country road, I will ride into Rumble at the Rock with a clear mission.
There will be retribution for what you did to Steve Solex.
I’m going full Cobra Kai on your ass.
I going to sweep the leg.
There will be no mercy.
Whatever it takes.
I will do anything and everything to make sure that Joe Bergman leaves the General Population area with not only the win but the HOTv Tag Team title shot in my back pocket and you will go to sleep Bobby.
Dragon Sleeper. Bobby Dean. Collision course.
Monday October 24th
Joe Bergman Homesttead
The happy wail of Joe’s twenty-one-month-old daughter broke the silence. Joe had been sitting on the couch and relaxing after a strenuous day of training. But as soon as he heard Libby’s voice, he jumped up from the couch and ran to the front door.
Joe opens the door as Olivia Bergman aka Libby runs down… manages not to fall… and jumps into her father’s arm.
“Hi Joe.” the dour voice of Laura Bergman, Joe’s ex-wife, greets him.
The next moments play out as usual. Laura watches from the porch as Joe lifts Libby and she wraps her arms tightly around his neck and nuzzles on his shoulder.
“Missed you, Daddy,” she says.
“I missed you too, baby girl.”
“Joe, can I come in for a couple of minutes?” Laura asked.
Joe’s eyebrows raised. “Huh?”
“There’s something I’d like to talk to you about.”
“Oh.” Joe wasn’t sure what they needed to talk about. Things were relatively stable between Laura and him at the moment. Laura’s always once pleased when her daughter is happy and Libby was definitely happy to see him. Laura had settled into her new apartment after returning several months ago from her ‘dream New York City’ job and going back to work for her old company out of a St. Louis apartment. Joe and Laura’s amicable agreement effectively split the time they had with Libby and that helped keep the bitterness tamped down. Both understood maintaining a functioning relationship with each other was in their daughter’s best interest.
“Okay,” Joe says and opened the door for Laura to come inside.
Once Laura’s inside and the door is closed, Joe drops to one knee in front of Libby. “Libby, why don’t you go play for a few minutes while Daddy talks to Mommy, okay?”
And with that, Libby took off at a full sprint towards the toy room. Once she got settled in, Joe turned to Laura.
“Okay. What’s up?”
“Victoria McGill?” she replies.
“Oh.” Joe knew at some point that Laura would inquire about the burgeoning romance going on between him and MVW Women’s Champion Tori McGill. “Yes. What about her?”
“Well,” Laura begins… hesitating, she tries to carefully frame her remarks to Joe. “She’s only twenty-four-“
“Twenty-five,” corrects Joe. Tori had just celebrated her twenty-fifth birthday a couple of weeks ago. Joe took her out to a nice dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse five miles west of the Interstate 270 beltway around St. Louis off Interstate 64 in the suburb of Chesterfield, Missouri.
“Okay. Twenty-five,” Laura says.
Joe had an idea where she was heading with this. He’d received an interview in the fifth degree from Laura because he just happened to bring Sunny O’Callahan with him to pick up Libby one time. Laura’s concern back then was the fact that Sunny had once tried to run Dawn McGill over with an SUV and alluded to a potential relationship between them.
Joe pushed back and told Laura Sunny desperately was trying to change her ways and she’d grown up a lot over the past few months. She gets it now and she’s been on her absolute best behavior since we agreed to work with each other.
Laura tilts her head down and gives Joe a ‘look.’
“So what does Dawn McGill think about you working with Sunny O’Callahan? What does Tori McGill think about you working with Sunny O’Callahan.”
Joe didn’t respond right away. He went to great lengths to keep Sunny away from Dawn for that exact reason. Generally, Joe tried to avoid the issue.
“I mean, the woman tried to commit vehicular homicide on Dawn McGill and now you’re working with her?” Laura asked in a tone similar to an attorney conducting a rather intense cross-examination of a witness. “And dating her daughter?”
She paused and waited for Joe to respond. He doesn’t.
“Is Dawn okay with you and Victoria being a couple?”
Joe finally answers. “Look, I don’t know, Laura. Things were a little strained between Dawn and me when Sunny O’Callahan came in to be my valet. Things are even more strained between us since Tori and I broke the news to her. It’s certainly been a little awkward with her.”
“Then how in the world is she still working for you?” Laura asks.
“I can’t answer that either. Look, I’m sure Dawn gave thought to walking out on me but I don’t think she’ll leave,” Joe says, trying not to sound defensive but not doing a good job of it. “I think Dawn’s realized that she’s finally found her post-wrestling calling as a trainer. She loves to work and she’s done a hell of a job with the students. That’s why she’s staying. And we will find a way to hash this all out.”
“Look,” Joe interrupts her. “I don’t know why you feel the need to ask those questions when it’s really none of your business anymore. You had a chance to reconcile. You told me you thought you… and I quote… may have made a mistake in ending our marriage. So we went to the Buffett concert and I gave it a shot. It was clear to anyone with the IQ of a brick that you didn’t want to be there… or be with me,” Joe points out. “I’m over it. I’ve made peace with it and I’m moved on. Or did you not want me to do that?”
“I have no problem with you moving on,” Laura responds in a sharp tone. “I’m just curious about how much time Victoria spends out here and whether she sleeps over when Libby’s here.”
Ohhhhhhh, that’s the issue Joe thinks to himself.
“Okay. One, the amount of time Tori spends at my house that you willingly signed away to me is none of your business. However, I will tell you that she does NOT stay over when Libby is here. And if you really must know, I can count on one hand the number of times Tori has ‘stayed over.’ Given our former relationships…” Joe pauses and then continues. “…Tori and I are taking this slow… extremely slow… as in one step at a time. I’m busy with the barn and HOW. She’s busy being the MVW Women’s Champion and training like hell to stay there.”
“So she’s not training at the barn?”
“Oh no. With Dawn working at the barn, Victoria will NOT set foot inside the door.”
“Oh. Still?” Laura says.
“Oh yeah,” confirms Joe. “Tori is hell-bent on keeping her relationship with Dawn’s mother-daughter. She wants no part of Dawn training her or having any involvement with her wrestling career. She’s training at another gym and no, it’s not John Sektor’s Gold Standard Wrestling Academy.”
Laura raises a hand to make another point. She stops in mid-movement and then puts her hand down, the tone softening up considerably, and her facial expression changing from the confrontational bull in a china shop motif to an expression of sadness.
“I’m sorry, Joe,” she says with lament. “I… I guess I’m still having trouble moving forward.”
“Trust me,” Joe tries to reassure her. “Part of the reason Tori and I are taking this super-slow is that I know it’s going to take a while for me to untangle myself from a 15-year marriage. I understand. But… we both made decisions. We went through the divorce thing. And what we had is in the past. I’m trying to go on.”
“Is she going with you to Dallas?” Laura inquires.
“No. Tori has MVW commitments and matches and honestly, I don’t want any distractions.”
“But you’re taking Libby down with you?”
“Yes,” confirms Joe. “Libby is coming with me. You’re traveling for work this week. Charlie Blackwell’s wife said she would love to watch Libby while I’m working out in Dallas. I’ve got it covered.”
The New Dallas Sportatorium- Dallas, Texas- Tuesday, October 25th
After pulling his rental car into a space in the parking lot, Joe shut off the car and exited the vehicle. He walked up to the entrance.
“The new Dallas Sportatorium,” Joe reads the lettering on the top of the building.
Located at the same spot as the original Sportatorium at the corner of S. Riverfront Blvd. and Cadiz Street, the original building was built in 1934 and seated approximately 10,000. There was a fire in May of 1953 that partially destroyed the building and it had to be rebuilt. The rebuilt Sportatorium had a seating capacity of approximately 4,500- down from 10,000. The building lasted until another fire struck in 2001 and the Sportatorium was demolished in 2013.
Then Charlie Blackwell… a former Missouri Valley Wrestling two-time champion… rebuilt the third incarnation of the Sportorium last year to house his new Texas Championship Wrestling promotion. The new building had a seating capacity of two thousand people… a smaller, more intimate venue where there wasn’t a bad seat in the building.
“Impressive,” Joe mumbles. He walks across the parking and goes into the building.
The first thing Joe sees is a prominent banner hung on one wall behind a wrestling ring with ‘Texas Championship Wrestling’ stitched onto it.
Joe walks past the ring and goes down a hall that leads to the office space in the building. He peeks his head into an office.
Charlie Blackwell stood up and stretched out his six-foot-four frame. Blackwell started his wrestling career in 2009 when he made an ‘unscheduled appearance’ at Dream Wrestling Federation’s Golden Dreams pay-per-view show. Charlie gained notoriety when the phenomenon known as Jill Berg nailed him with a spinning heel kick that sent Blackwell over a railing and falling twenty feet to the floor. Blackwell debuted a week later in Dream Wrestling and later moved on to the old Political Championship Wrestling in the mid-2010s before moving on to Missouri Valley Wrestling in 2017.
“Halitosis!” Blackwell greets him with a mischievous smirk. He knew Bergman from their time in PCW AND later on in MVW.
“Yeah. Very funny,” retorts Joe who then shakes Charlie’s hand. “It’s good to see you again.”
“I’ve been following your career since you left MVW,” Charlie says. “A two-time HOW World Champion. Not bad…” Blackwell nods his head. “…not bad at all. But I do have a question.”
“What prompted you to give up the Halitosis gimmick?”
Joe laughs. “Because I got tired of it. I got tired of the awful drink I would have to take. I got tired of the amount of time it took to rid my mouth of the awful stench after the show. I thought Halitosis had basically become a cartoon character and I just wanted to go in a different direction.”
“So you took up Ray McAvay’s mantle of HOW’s ‘man of the people’, inspired the Section 214 movement, and became a real fan favorite,” Blackwell says.
“You could say that.”
“What brings you down here to train?” Charlie asks Joe. “You’ve got a really good thing going with Bergman’s Barn.”
“Well, things are a little techy with your cousin Dawn McGill,” Joe answers.
“More than a little techy from what I’ve been told,” Charlie replies. “She’s not too happy with you for multiple reasons.”
“So you know,” Joe says.
“I know enough. I know my cousin enough. Dawn’s pretty protective of her children… especially Tori after the whole John Sektor escapade… she’s a mama grizzly you don’t want to get on the bad side of.” Charlie checks his cell phone as he talks. “Probably a good thing to get away from each other for a couple weeks.”
“That’s the plan, Charlie.”
“You’ve got a tough one at Rumble at the Rock. Bobby Dean. He’s a big hoss, ain’t he?”
“You could say that.”
“Bobby’s dangerous, Joe,” Charlie points out to him. “He’s developed a bit of a mean streak and that’s not a good thing when he outweighs you by over a hundred and fifty pounds. That’s not a good thing.”
“I know Charlie. That’s why I came to you. I wanted a different take on things. I wanted to get away from St. Louis and focus on one thing- beating Bobby Dean.”
“You’ve come to the right place,” Charlie shakes Joe’s hand again. “Oh, you’ll never guess who else is down here training with TCW.”
“Adam Ellis,” Charlie tells him. “He moved down to the Dallas area and he’s headquartered in Greenville, Texas.”
“Okay,” Joe replies. “That makes sense. I knew Adam and Ginny were going to move closer to Las Vegas. He just didn’t tell me where he was going.”
“So, get your hotel situated. My wife Kenzie will take good care of Libby while we’re working. We’ll get started tomorrow morning.”
“It’s a plan.”
Friday November 4th
Joe Bergman takes a quick look around.
Does he have anything else to add?