Bergman’s Barn – Plattin, Missouri – May 4th, 2033
There’s a black and #97 red High Octane Wrestling banner strung up prominently on the far wall of the barn. There’s also a plain white and black Missouri Valley Wrestling banner situated on the other side. Sprinkled in are various photos from Joe’s seventeen-year wrestling career from the early days at PCW (as Halitosis) to his two-year run at MVW (as Halitosis) and his HOW career (Halitosis/Joe Bergman) adorning the white walls of the barn.
The camera zooms in on a series of framed photos on the wall.
Referee Matt Boettcher handing Halitosis the HOW World Title belt after defeating Brian Hollywood.
Halitosis taking the microphone from former HOW ring announcer Zack Taylor the night he defeated John Sektor to win the HOW World Title belt for a second time.
Halitosis and Rah presented with the title belts after winning the MVW Tag Team Title in 2017 with Dawn McGill as their manager.
Halitosis and Rah with valet Regina McGill after winning the MVW Tag Team Title in 2019.
Joe Bergman defending the HOTv Tag Title with Steve Harrison at HOW’s Dead or Alive PPV in 2022
Joe Bergman defeating GREAT SCOTT to win the HOTv Title in March 2023
Joe Bergman after his final match ever at the PWA-2 show in June 2023.
Panning down the walls and into the barn itself, we see a wrestling ring located in the center where a lone man- Joe Bergman -runs the ropes. Joe’s forty-five years old now. The hair’s a little bit grayer and he’s put on a couple pounds. His in-ring movement isn’t as fluid as it once used to be when Joe wrestled at HOW but he’s still in pretty good shape.
But to someone who’d never seen a pro wrestler run the ropes before, they probably wouldn’t have known the difference.
“Go Daddy Go!” cheers twelve-year-old Olivia Bergman. She’s just been dropped off by the bus from school and as always, her first stop is the barn to see what her father is up to. On this particular day, Joe’s teaching work concluded earlier in the afternoon so she found her father inside the ring working out.
Joe hooks the top rope with his hands and relaxes back on the ropes.
“How was school?” he asks.
“Good. What time will Mommy be home?”
Joe checks his watch. “Um, she should be home from St. Louis in a few minutes. Mommy has to pick up J.J. at school first.”
“Okay. I’ll just hang out here then.”
Olivia sits down in a chair. She reaches into her book bag and pulls out a comic book… an actual, honest-to-God paper comic book. While Joe runs the ropes some more, Olivia buries her head in the comic book.
A few minutes later, Joe decides to wrap it up for the day. He rolls out of the ring and sees Olivia deep in reading her comic. He sits down next to her.
“Whatcha doing?” he asks.
“Reading a story,” she replies.
“is it good?”
Olivia looks up and sticks her tongue out.
Joe can ascertain that she’s not that impressed with the story. But she goes back to reading for a few more seconds. Then she closes the comic book in a huff.
“Not good?” Joe says.
“Not as good as the last one I read, Daddy.” She puts the comic back in her book bag. “Can you tell me a story?”
Joe nods. “Sure. Which one.”
Olivia’s face brightens. “Well, Mommy says that today is the tenth anniversary you got married… again”
Chuckling, Joe puts his arm around her. “It is, isn’t it.”
“Come on,” the child whines. “Mommy said you went to England and she met up with you and you and her watched some soccer and that’s how you and her got back together.”
“Hold on, hold on,” Joe says, trying to pump the brakes on his overly enthusiastic daughter. “First off, it’s English ‘football.’ Two, there’s a little more to that.”
“Tell me. But make it fun. Like a comic book is supposed to be.”
Joe takes a deep breath. “Hand me your comic book.”
Olivia reaches into the book bag and pulls the comic back out. Joe opens it up.
“Okay. Our story actually begins right after a HOW show called March to Glory…
*MARCH 12th, 2023. HOW’S MARCH TO GLORY…
We see a cartoonized picture of Dan Ryan pinning Scott Stevens with Joe Bergman trying to make the save but being held back by Jatt Starr.
“I was defending the HOTv title against Dan Ryan…,” Joe began to ‘read,’ “…and Scott Stevens… and Jatt Starr because Lee Best was determined to get the belt off of me.”
Olivia raises her hand.
“Lee’s the evil one,” she asks.
Joe chuckles and responds, “Right.”
Olivia gives Lee a thumbs down and shouts, “Boooooooooooo!”
He pats her on the head.
“Very good sweetheart.”
Joe goes on…
*We next see a cartoonized picture of Matt Boettcher slamming his hand down on the mat for the third time. DING-DING! In the background, Joe slams an angry fist into the mat.
Joe reads on: “Dan won the title.”
*Dan Ryan roars and raises the HOTv title belt in the air. The crowd? BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
*Joe Hoffman and Benny Newell at the broadcast desk. Joe carrying on at the broadcast desk like the professional he is.
Joe Hoffman: “Joe Bergman gave it everything he had but the numbers game prevailed.”
*Benny carrying on in the way you’d think Benny would carry on- he’s elated at the result
Benny Newell: “Murder Daddy is the HOTv champion and that’s going to be a party in Manchester tonight!”
“…and that was that…”
*Sunny O’Callahan, Bergman’s valet, dressed resplendently as usual in her black spaghetti strap top, light blue jeans, and heels, helped Joe to the back.
Sunny O’Callahan: “I’m so sorry, Joe. I should have done something.”
*Joe shaking his head no.
Joe Bergman: There’s nothing you could have done.
Again, Olivia has a question.
“So the bad guys won?”
“The bad guys won,” Joe confirms.
“BOOOOOOOOOOO!” Olivia bellows loudly.
Joe smiles and turns the page, making it appear as if he’s actually reading the story from the comic book.
“So after I took a quick shower and left the arena, but instead of going back home, we went to the Trafford Pub to meet up with a bunch of Section 214 fans…”
Sitting at a table, Joe and Sunny are toasting the fans of Section 214 and buying a round of drinks for everyone inside the pub.
“…and then after that, Sunny and I drove back to the hotel…”
*TRAVELODGE MANCHESTER SALE.
It’s late night. Joe and Sunny are standing outside their rental vehicle… illuminated by lights in the back parking lot just off the M-60, a perimeter road that circles Manchester. Both Sunny and Joe are pulling their travel bags with the three-story, brick hotel that also houses a Costa drive-thru (an English coffee shop chain) in the background.
*Now inside the hotel, Joe nodded to Sunny and to say good night..
Sunny O’Callahan: “Get some sleep. We’ll relax tomorrow and take it easy. Oh… and don’t forget, we’re going to a wrestling show in Bolton tomorrow night and then we’re going home on Tuesday morning.”
*Joe gestured to her and went into his hotel room.
“All I just wanted to do is to go to bed,” Joe explains. “But then my phone blew up.”
“Whoa whoa whoa,” Olivia interrupts, her hands making the ‘time out’ signal.
Joe looks up at his daughter. “Yes dear?”
“Blew up?” Olivia tries to clarify. “As it blowed up?” She makes a blowing-up gesture with her two hands.
Joe chuckles again. “No. I received a lot of texts in a short amount of time.”
“So, moving forward in the story…”
*Looking down at Joe’s cell phone. He scrolls through a series of messages:
-Message from Ray McAvay: “That was a crock of shit. Hell, even if you would have won, I wouldn’t put it past Lee to restart the match out of pettiness until he got the result he wanted. And now, Lee wants the HOTv Tag match to be at the HOW show in St. Louis. Fuck that. I have a contractual agreement that says the match takes place in MVW. Ryan and Starr are just going to have to suck it up and show their asses up at an MVW arena if they want those belts. And if Lee doesn’t like it he can kiss my ass.”
-Message from Dawn McGill: “You did good Joe. Hard to win when it’s basically three against one. By the way, when are you coming home?”
–Message from Victoria McGill: “You’re still a champion to me, Joe. I miss you. Let’s get together when you get back home.”
Joe reads on, “I thought about replying to the texts… but I just didn’t want to. I really just wanted to go to sleep and forget everything that happened at March to Glory. So I turned off the ringer, put my phone on the charger, and got ready for bed…”
*Joe is in the bathroom brushing his teeth. KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK.
“…but then I heard a knock on my door…”
*Joe exited the bathroom heading for the door.
Joe Bergman: Who the hell could that be?
*Joe peeked through the hole in the door. His eyes widen… eyebrows rise… he’s genuinely surprised to see who’s at the door… as in REALLY SURPRISED.
Joe looks up from the comic book and turns to Olivia.
“I did a double take when I saw who it was at the door. Do you know who it was?
Olivia’s eyes light up in delight.
Joe nods affirmatively. “Yeah. It was your Mom. The last person in the world I expected to see in Manchester, England. Never dreamed for a moment that she would show up at my door like that.”
He reads on…
*Opening the door, we see who’s on the other side? Laura Bergman. She’s dressed in a jacket, jeans, and flats. She flashed an awkward smile.
Laura Bergman: “Hi Joe.”
*Joe just stared at her. Laura appeared a little uncertain and uncomfortable.
Laura Bergman: “Uh… Joe?”
*Laura meekly managed another smile as Joe continued to just look at her, stunned that she’s in Manchester.
Laura Bergman: “Joe!”
Joe Bergman: “Hi Laura. Fancy seeing you here. At my hotel room. In Manchester, England.”
*Laura looked down at her feet. She stumbled all over her words.
Laura Bergman: “So… um… hey… yeah… Ima sure you’re wondering how I ended up here.”
*Joe folded his arms.
Joe Bergman: “I will admit the thought may have crossed my mind.”
*Now Laura folded her arms… the air is chilly and she’s a little cold.
Laura Bergman: “Um… can I come in… for a moment… since I’m here?”
*Joe’s face still registered shock that she’s there.
Joe Bergman: “Yeah. Sure. Come on in.”
*Laura came inside the hotel room. Joe closed the door behind her.
Joe Bergman: “Did you bring Libby?”
Laura Bergman: “Oh no. She’s with my parents in Ohio.”
Joe Bergman: “Oh. That’s good. Libby hasn’t seen your parents for a while. She’ll have fun.”
*Again, awkward silence. Awkward looks back and forth.
Laura Bergman: “So… ah… I was at the show tonight.”
*Joe nods. Laura’s treading very softly and thinking before she speaks.
Laura Bergman: “I’ve been watching the shows… the past few weeks. And…”
*Joe leaned forward and waited… and waited… and waited…
*Laura finally just blurted it out.
Laura Bergman: “…you’re not happy…I know you’re not happy… I see it in your eyes… I see it when you talk… everything you do out there screams you’re not happy…”
*Close up on Laura’s face. She’s about to break into tears.
Laura Bergman: “…and it’s all my fault!”
Joe turns another page and shifts a little bit on the chair. Olivia looks at Joe inquisitively.
“Daddy, was it really all Mommy’s fault?”
Joe pats her on the head.
“No, honey. It was definitely not just Mommy’s fault.”
He ‘reads’ more of the story while Olivia leans in and listens closely.
*Joe glanced down at the floor and shook his head.
Joe Bergman: “Laura, I’ve made my peace about us a long while ago. You didn’t really didn’t have to come all the way to England to tell me-“
*Laura cut Joe off while making a grand gesture with her left hand, tears coming out in earnest now, and she blurted out…
Laura Bergman: “I’m sorry, Joe… I’m sorry for everything… I’m sorry for walking away from you… I’m sorry for the reconciliation that didn’t work… that was my fault.”
Joe Bergman: “Look. I was upset about the reconciliation that you seemed gung-ho about but then cooled off just as quick, but again, I’m over it. There’s no need to apologize.”
*Wiping a tear away, Laura explained it to him.
Laura Bergman: “Work. Why was I dressed in a business suit at the Jimmy Buffett concert? Work. Why was I on the phone during the concert? Work. Work became my life. Work became everything. I thought it would get better by changing jobs. It didn’t. It got worse and I couldn’t handle anything more than spending ten to fourteen hours a day working.”
*Laura buried her head in her hands.
Laura Bergman: “I couldn’t think about trying to get back together with you. I could barely scrape out enough time to spend time with our daughter… I was SO STUPID!”
*Joe reached across and put his right hand on her left shoulder.
Joe Bergman: “Laura… I… you’re not stupid and I said… I let that all go a long time ago. I understand. It’s been a challenge balancing HOW, The Barn, and raising Libby.”
Laura Bergman: “But you’re not happy.”
*Joe rocked back in his chair and took a deep breath and admitted the truth.
Joe Bergman: “No, I’m not. But I’m doing what I have to do.”
*Laura sat back up and looked at Joe with conviction.
Laura Bergman: “All I know is once upon a time we were happy. All I know right now is we aren’t. You’re not happy with work. I’m not happy with work. I wasn’t happy with you going back to HOW. You weren’t happy with me taking the New York job. You’re not happy at HOW… I’m wasn’t happy with my new jobs. And…”
*Arms on her lap. She blinked her eyes a couple times.
Laura Bergman: “…I’m not happy that I split us up. I made a big mistake.”
*Laura paused and looked down again.
Laura Bergman: “The reason I’m here… is that I quit my job.”
*Joe’s surprised at the news.
Joe Bergman: “Oh. I’m sorry to hear that.”
Laura Bergman: Don’t be. I’m interviewing with Ray McAvay for my old job at MVW next week.”
*Joe’s really surprised at that news.
Joe Bergman: “Wait… what? Juliette’s leaving?”
Laura Bergman: “Got an offer she couldn’t refuse. It works out. Juliette gets her dream job. I get to come back home. And the truth be known, I missed my family at MVW.”
*Joe is even more surprised when Laura reached across with both hands and took his.
Laura Bergman: “I miss being a family with you, too. A REAL family.
Joe Bergman: Laura…
Laura Bergman: “All I know is this… it seems to me that the only time both of us were ever truly happy was when we were together…”
*Laura takes one last big breath and Joe waited for her to finish the sentence.
Laura Bergman: …I want to fix everything and make everything go back to the way it was before.
Joe Bergman: I… I don’t know what to say.
The sound of a horn is heard. Joe closes the comic book, having ‘read’ half of it.
Olivia bounces off the chair.
“Wait. That’s it?” she protests.
“For right now,” answers Joe.
“Wait a minute! You can’t stop there. That can’t be all,” Olivia says with the speed of machine gun fire. “What do you say? What happens next? When do you get married?”
“Patience, Libby. We’ll get there. But I think Mommy and J.J. are home so I’ll finish the story later… promise.”
He takes her by the hand.
“C’mon. Let’s go.”
Joe and Olivia exit the barn and greet Laura and their nine-year-old son J.J. (born in 2024) in the driveway. Laura’s obviously aged over the past ten years and still has the same medium-length brunette hairdo she’s always had because, unlike Joe, she doesn’t have a spot of gray hair on her.
J.J. jumps out the car and races towards the barn. He looks the spitting image of Joe.
After the obligatory hug and kiss, Joe and Laura, Olivia and J.J. head inside the Bergman residence. Joe pulls the door closed and the lights go on inside the house.
…to be continued...
UK Wrestling Talk-May 1st, 2023
Ringside following a UK wrestling show in Bolton. There are empty seats and a flashing sign in the background with “UKPW” on it behind the camera shot. Over to the left, ring technicians begin to tear down the ring. On the other side, one of the wrestlers gives an interview to another wrestling journalist by the far barricade.
Simon Wilson, a bald UK wrestling personality stands before the camera. Microphone in his right hand. Joe may be in the UK but he’s doing some PR work for War Games with the UK press.
Simon Wilson: Simon Wilson for What’s Up Wrestling right here with American professional wrestler Joe Bergman from High Octane Wrestling.
Simon welcomes Joe Bergman with his left hand as Joe steps into the shot. Joe seems a little more relaxed than usual tonight.
Simon Wilson: Thank you so much for joining me today.
Joe nods back.
Joe Bergman: Thank you Simon.
Simon Wilson: High Octane Wrestling’s War Games show is four weeks away and you will be wrestling for Steve Solex’s team.
Joe Bergman: Yes, War Games is coming soon and I rather think of it as if I’m wrestling on the same team Steve Solex just happens to be on.
Simon Wilson: Gotcha mate. Now, there are four teams in all. The team you’re on. A team led by Michael Best. A team captained by the UK’s own Evan Ward. And one by Clay Byrd, who you used to run with, with the Highwaymen along with Steve Solex.
Joe Bergman: Yes. Byrd, Solex, and Steve Harrison were all part of the Highwaymen.
Simon Wilson: But now you and Solex are on the outs.
Joe suppresses a laugh.
Joe Bergman: That would be putting it mildly.
Simon Wilson: And Byrd?
Joe Bergman: Don’t know. I really haven’t spoken to Clay since the Highwaymen broke up and I have no idea what’s happened to Steve Harrison. He’s literally dropped off the face of the earth so… it is what it is. It’s done and dusted. We move on.
Simon Wilson: You also train wrestlers at your barn.
Joe Bergman: I do when I’m there. I must take a second here to profusely thank Dawn McGill for the tremendous job she’s done in holding down the fort after March to Glory since I’ve been here in the UK for the past couple of months.
Simon Wilson: And the reason you stayed here is because?
Joe Bergman: Well… my official answer is- staying in the UK is my passive-aggressive way to stick it to Lee Best after I lost the HOTv Title in a bullshit four-way match at March to Glory. The real reason I’m still in the UK… well, I’m not at liberty to discuss that.
Simon Wilson: What’s the story of the March to Glory match?
Joe Bergman: Basically, Simon, Lee Best didn’t want the HOTv belt on Joe Bergman… he wanted it on one of his guys in the Final Alliance. It took three men to defeat me. Two members of the alliance… Dan Ryan and Simon Sparrow… and Scott Stevens who was Lee’s disciple at the time. So I ended up losing the title without getting pinned. But whatever, it’s Lee’s playground and he can do what he wants with it.
Simon Wilson: Okay, moving on to War Games. You no longer get along with Steve Solex…
Joe Bergman: That is correct.
Simon Wilson: …but yet, you’re on his War Games team…
Joe Bergman: Not by choice.
Simon Wilson: So, how will that all work at War Games?
Joe Bergman: I have no idea. To be blunt, it’s going to be hard being on the same team with someone you simply have no reason to trust. Solex burnt the bridge between us when he turned on the Highwaymen at ICONIC last year. He’s become a dishonest, roid-raging, half-wit dolt running around shouting ‘NERD’ at everyone because ‘all the other cool kids say it’ trying hard to be cool. I cannot stress this enough. I don’t want to be on Steve Solex’s team… but I am. So, I have two choices. I could tell Solex to fuck off and not show up at War Games.
Simon Wilson: You could do that.
Joe Bergman: But then that wouldn’t be fair to Darin Zion… and possibly Brian Hollywood. And I’ve also prided myself on being professional when it comes to being booked so I’ll bite the bullet and be at War Games like I should for if nothing else, to be a good teammate for Zion and Hollywood.
Simon Wilson: I believe STRONK is on the team as well.
Joe Bergman: Yeah, I don’t care to be on the same team as STRONK either.
Simon Wilson: You’re not a fan of the Final Alliance.
Joe Bergman: Pretty much, the Final Alliance can… pardon my French… go fuck themselves as far as I’m concerned. Every time I see those guys, my blood boils. I can feel the anger building up inside me.
Simon Wilson: What is your biggest issue with Lee’s alliance?
Joe Bergman: Lee went to great effort to break up the Highwaymen so his little band of miscreants can run roughshod all over the rest of the roster and I’m just not interested in being the cannon fodder for Lee’s circle-jerking, self-masturbatory group of overgrown delinquents.
Simon seems a little taken aback by the harsh directness from Joe towards the Final Alliance.
Joe Bergman: I’m interested in competing in the ring to the best of my ability. My interest is in the sport of pro wrestling… not sports entertainment bullshit. I’m interested in competition. Pitting my skills up against someone else and just trying to be the best wrestler I can be.
Simon Wilson: Okay then. Let’s talk about Darin Zion then… not a member of the Final Alliance.
Joe Bergman: Darin? The thing I appreciate about Darin is that he keeps trying. You may not like how he approaches things sometimes, but Darin keeps grinding and looking for a way to get back to the top. He’s hooked up with the Love Convoy.
Joe rolls his eyes and twirls his finger in the air.
Joe Bergman: Yay. But hey, he’s trying. I have no doubt Darin will put in 100% for our War Games team and in this kind of match, that’s all you can ask for. He’s been part of a winning War Games team, and MVW Owner Ray McAvay vouches for Darin to be a dependable teammate. Hopefully, he leaves the Love Convoy at home.
Simon Wilson: How about Brian Hollywood?
Joe takes a second to think.
Joe Bergman: Brian Hollywood… you know… I kinda feel bad for Brian. Our careers have gone in totally opposite directions after I defeated him in the finals of the World Title tournament in 2019. Brian’s had a cup of coffee as the HOTv champion since then but hasn’t come near to the form that took him to the HOW World Title in 2016. I have no idea what under-the-radar, shady business ventures Brian’s involved with and whether that keeps him from regaining that form. Don’t know. I just know that with his experience… and his hunger to get back into the thick of the HOW title contention… if he can somehow survive the coin flip of the four-way, he’ll be a nice addition to our War Games team.
Simon Wilson: Can your team win?
Joe Bergman: Well, I have to go into the match believing that, right? I never go into a match thinking I can’t win because… well… you won’t win. I don’t trust Solex or STRONK as far as I can throw them. But once the bell rings… once my name is called to come down and join the fray… I will do what Joe Bergman always does. I will give it everything I have… one hundred percent. I will come down to the ring with the belief that not only can our team win the match but that I can be the lone survivor. I’ve been the world champion twice. I’ve won the tag belts teaming with Andy Murray. I’ve won a big tag title match at Dead or Alive last year with Steve Harrison. I know how to get ready for big matches like this. I firmly believe I can do this. I can win War Games. But it will be one hell of a steep hill to climb with the talent that will be in the match. I may not like many of them… but I do respect what they all bring to the ring. All I can do is promise my fans and the folks in Section 214 I will move heaven and earth to be the final man standing at War Games… why?
Joe Bergman: Because. How much would that piss off Lee Best be if Joe Bergman won War Games?
Simon Wilson: All right. We’ll cut off this part of the interview right here. Stay tuned as we’ll post part two of our interview with Joe Bergman tomorrow.