For the Love of the Game

For the Love of the Game

Posted on July 1, 2022 at 11:02 pm by Joe Bergman

In Kevin Costner’s 1999 movie ‘For the Love of the Game, 40 year old major league pitcher Billy Chapel’s career is on its last legs and so is his relationship with his girlfriend, played by Kelly Preston.  Chapel’s girlfriend prepares to fly to England to start a new job.  Pitching his final major league game, spurred on by memories of his relationship with her and at the end- memories of playing catch in the back yard with his father, Chapel seizes the moment and ends his major league career by throwing a perfect game against the New York Yankees.

In this RP, Joe Bergman has just spent three weeks training local Chicago television news reporter Elizabeth Carlisle for a multi-part feature on pro wrestling and her match takes place before the Missouri Valley Wrestling pay per view show in late June.  While Joe visits with MVW announcers Thunderbolt Smith and ‘Long Haul’ Rick Hall to discuss his love of pro wrestling, he thinks back to the dark match earlier with Elizabeth and how it turned out.

Note- the events in this RP take place before Lee Best’s announcement that Chaos One would take place on the U.S.S. Octane in New York City instead of the Best Arena in Chicago.

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME
On the evening of June 26, inside the Hale Arena in Kansas City, Missouri, a woman named Elizabeth Carlisle walked down the ramp towards a wrestling ring to participate the a ‘dark’ match before Missouri Valley Wrestling’s Wrestling Night in America pay per view show.

“…AND COMING TO THE RING… WEIGHING IN TONIGHT AT NINETY-NINE POUNDS…”

Carlisle leaned into the man who was walking beside her.  “Does she really have to say that?”

Smiling, Joe Bergman aka the man walking beside her replied, “All part of the show.”

By day, Carlisle was a star reporter for Chicago’s Channel 5 nightly news.  But tonight…

“….AND MAKING HER PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING DEBUT!  ELIZABETH CARRR-LISLE!”

Dressed in a simple wrestling robe and wearing what appeared to be a track suit underneath it, Elizabeth Carlisle climbed into the ring with the assistance from the chivalrous Bergman who held the ropes open for her to climb through.

Several weeks before, Elizabeth hatched an idea about doing a story on the thriving pro wrestling community in Chicago.  She thought the idea was so good she managed to convince her editor to ante up a few dollars so she could learn the basics of pro wrestling and get the inside skinny on what it’s like.  So after vetting a couple places, Elizabeth stumbled upon a video of Joe Bergman working with Xander Azula for War Games.  Intrigued by the no bullshit working style Bergman applied to his students which directly conflicted with his general ‘nice guy’ and ‘man of the people’ persona, Elizabeth showed up at his barn outside of St. Louis to secure his services for three weeks.  Joe was a little reticent at first but after talking it through with the Channel 5 news reporter he agreed to be a part of the feature.

Now in the corner and clearly cognizant with the Channel 5 cameraman training his camera on her that she couldn’t turn back now, Elizabeth stretched out and tried to relax.

“Don’t worry about a thing,” Bergman called out to her from the ring apron.  “Just have fun.”

Wrestling proved to be anything but fun to Ms. Carlisle.  As she would detail in the final installment of her four-part story about her wrestling exploits the next night on Channel 5, Elizabeth worked her ass off six days a week for three weeks straight to prepare herself for the five minutes she spent in the ring at Wrestling Night in America.  Bergman started her on the ground floor, meticulously taught her the basics, and built her up as much as he could in such a short time frame.

Elizabeth remembered her alarm going off at five o’clock in the morning EVERY morning awakening her from several hours of hard-earned sleep.  She’d roll out of bed and land on the floor of her hotel room knowing it was another day and another long day training.  At night, Elizabeth would trudge to the bedroom swearing up and down that she would never do anything as crazy as this ever again after a day of getting thrown all over the place learning how to take a bump.

Would all the hard work she’d done over the past three weeks pay off?

Could a news reporter with some athletic ability but no wrestling experience come through with a halfway decent match before a crowd ginned up for a pay per view show?

***

Missouri Valley Wrestling Presents
Wrestling Night in America Pay Per View Broadcast
Hale Arena
Kansas City, Missouri
Sunday June 26th, 2022
MVW’s pay per view show cuts to the broadcast table where Thunderbolt Smith and ‘Long Haul’ Rick Hall try to talk over a loud and raucous Hale Arena.

Thunderbolt Smith: The crowd is still on their feet and they are buzzing after what just happened.  If you missed what just went down after the Victoria McGill-Shizuko Yamazaki match, we’re going to show it to you again on replay.  Tori McGill had just pulled off a dramatic win over Yamazaki to win the MVW Women’s title and then this happened…

The video screen inside the arena comes to life while the folks watching the pay per view show from home also see the highlights of the previous match.

(Video from Shizuko Yamazaki © vs. Victoria McGill- Women’s Title match)
Referee Corrina Romanov hands McGill the MVW Women’s Title belt and Tori drops to her knees.  With tears in her eyes, Tori holds up the belt in the air.

Seconds later, three women roll under the bottom rope into the ring and attack her from behind.  All three are obviously wrestlers dressed in their street clothes…

Thunderbolt Smith (narrates over the replay): After the referee had presented Tori with the title belt. Jill Berg Enterprises came out and attacked the new champion.  As you know, Jill Berg Enterprises is MVW’s heel corporate stable and Tori McGill used to be a member of the faction.  But when Jill Berg asked her to put another member of JBE over instead in a number one contender’s match, Tori refused and went on to win the match and then quit the faction.

…CEO Jill Berg watches the attack from outside the ring with her special assistant Jerry.  Both Berg and her assistant are dressed in appropriate corporate-style clothing.

Berg clearly approves of the three on one attack on McGill and says a few things to Jerry.  In turn, Jerry jots down notes on a clipboard.

Thunderbolt Smith (still narrating): But then, the calvary came to Tori’s aid.

On older woman… perhaps in her early 40’s… who resembled Victoria McGill ran down to the ring clutching a Singapore cane in her hand.  She was followed by three brunettes in replica Charlestown Chiefs hockey sweaters, a pair black horn-rimmed glasses, and each armed with a hockey stick. 

Thunderbolt Smith (still narrating): That’s right.  Dawn McGill… Victoria McGill’s mother, and Women’s Tag Team Champions The Hanson Sisters ran down to the ring to make the save…

Dawn whacked Lisa Barbosa-Stevens in the back with the Singapore cane.  A second cane shot over Barbosa-Stevens’ head sent her down to the mat.

Women’s Tag Team Champions Andrea Hanson and Melissa Hanson simultaneously cracked their hockey sticks over the heads of the other two members of JBE stomping away on Tori McGill.  The third sister, Charissa, then pitched both women through the ropes to the floor.  Andrea wears number sixteen on the back of her replica hockey jersey.  Charissa- number seventeen.  Melissa- number eighteen. 

Thunderbolt Smith: …and repelled the corporation and cleaned house and Jill Berg Enterprises retreated to the back like a bunch of scalded dogs.”

Rick Hall: Trademark, Jim Ross.

The video replay of the incident comes to an end and the pay per view returns to the broadcast table.

Thunderbolt Smith: So while they are cleaning up the ring and getting everyone to the back, we’re going to bring in a very familiar face to many of the wrestlers here in MVW… Joe Bergman.  Joe, it’s good to see you.

After making sure his ear buds were in place and he could hear the other two, Joe responds.

Joe Bergman: Thunderbolt.  Rick.  It’s always great to hang out with you.  What a great match we all just witnessed…

Joe’s segment was designed to be a buffer between the McGill-Yamazaki match and what would be the second main event of the evening- a match between the Men’s Title match between former HOW Tag Team champion and current MVW Men’s Champion Adam Ellis and the challenger ‘Redneck’ Bill Dickinson.

Bergman’s task was to let the fans cool off for a few minutes and rest.

Joe Bergman (continued): …and congratulations to Victoria McGill.  She worked very hard for this moment tonight and it’s a real shame that Jill Berg Enterprises tried to ruin it for her.  The sad thing is the actions taken by Jill Berg Enterprises against Victoria McGill a few minutes ago aren’t much different from anything The Board of HOW has done.

Thunderbolt Smith: Yes.  We’ll get to your escapades in High Octane Wrestling momentarily, Joe.  But first, you trained Chicago’s Channel 5 reporter Elizabeth Carlisle who wrestled in a dark match before the show officially began…

***

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME- PART TWO
Both women locked up early in the match.  As Elizabeth Carlisle grappled with her opponent, she tried to remember everything Joe taught her over the past three weeks and suddenly found herself in a headlock.

“Work out of it,” Joe Bergman called out to her as Elizabeth tried to wiggle free.  He leaned over the top rope while on the ring apron and clapped his hands.  He winced when she had her face slammed into the turnbuckle but Elizabeth sold the move well and moved back towards the center of the ring.

Watching her opponent come towards her, she suddenly dropped to a knee and in one quick… not fluid or smooth mind you but still fast enough… she snatched her opponent’s leg and lined up the top of her body against it while locking her hands behind the leg.

“Take the leg,” Joe said, as Elizabeth pushed herself up to her feet and drove the opponent down to the mat.

Elizabeth frantically tried to grasp her opponent’s leg for a pinfall but she easily kicked out.

Joe clapped his hands again. “That’s it, Lizzie.  Keep going. You got this.”

***

Joe Bergman: …that’s right, Thunderbolt.  I worked with Elizabeth for three weeks for a news feature she did for Channel 5 about pro wrestling and she had her match tonight.

Rick Hall: I thought she did pretty good for someone who’s never wrestled before in her life much less wrestled for the first time in her life before a pretty good crowd.

Joe Bergman: Yeah, I thought she did good.

Rick Hall: How did you do it?

Joe Bergman: I didn’t load her up with a lot of stuff and kept it as simple as I could.  When she locked up with her opponent, I wanted to make sure it looked plausible.  Elizabeth’s takedown wasn’t crisp as I’d like but I thought it was more than passable.”

Thunderbolt Smith: But she did it.

Joe nods in agreement.

Joe Bergman: Yeah. She did it.  You know, I love pro wrestling with every fiber of my being.  I am the luckiest son of a bitch alive because I get to do something for a living that I love doing.  Training, mentoring, and helping the next batch of potential pro wrestling stars is something I take great pride in.  What I care about is helping anyone who wants to learn about pro wrestling actually learn about pro wrestling.

***

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME-PART THREE
Elizabeth suddenly found herself in a pinning predicament after her opponent hit a belly to belly suplex and then rolled her up for a pinfall.  Referee Corrina Romanov slid right in and started to pound the mat with her hand.

ONE!”

Blanking out for a second, Elizabeth feverishly tried to remember what she was supposed to do.

Watching from the ring apron, Joe also saw the uncertainty in her eyes.  “Come on Elizabeth,” he said under his breath.

“TWO!”

Now with panic setting in, Elizabeth looked over at Bergman.  She saw him mouth the words “remember what I taught you.”  Her eyes blinked and without hesitation, she threw her left arm up in the air and brought her shoulder up off the mat.

“THR- NO!  TWO COUNT!  TWO COUNT!”

***

Joe Bergman: Yes, I just spent three weeks working with someone who had absolutely NO pro wrestling background and had no idea what it was about.  She came out here tonight and put on a pretty good show for all of you even though she’d never wrestled a match in her life.  You wanna know something, pro wrestling has a new fan with a much different outlook on what pro wrestling is all about.  Thank you, Elizabeth Carlisle for reinforcing that some of us… unlike The Board in HOW… actually do this for the love of the game.

Thunderbolt Smith: Well, speaking of corporations.  You and your HOW group… The Highwaymen… are at odds with HOW’s Board right now.”

Scratching an itch on his nose, Joe again nods.

Joe Bergman: That’s right Thunderbolt.  Let’s be clear.  The wrestlers who make up the Board are among the best in the business… no doubt about that.  Tyler Best only wrestled a handful of shows here in MVW but it was clear that he has something special within him.  Stronk Godson has been a godsend to HOW.  He’s come in and simply destroyed everything in sight-

Rick Hall (interjecting): Well, everyone except Clay Byrd.

Joe Bergman: True.  Clay got the pinfall on Stronk.  I may not like who he works with but I can’t deny that Stronk has a promising future in wrestling.  For all my issues with Captain Freedom…

Thunderbolt holds up his hand to interrupt Joe.

Thunderbolt Smith: Can you explain the Captain Freedom reference?

Joe Bergman: Oh.  Christopher America.  I just refer to America as the Jesse Ventura character Captain Freedom in The Running Man movie who gets dragged out of catering to take on Arnold Schwarzenegger.  As I’ve pointed out before, unlike Christopher America, Captain Freedom actually had some principles and refused to comply with the evil corporation’s orders.

Thunderbolt Smith: Oh.

Joe Bergman: Look Christopher America… the man’s a HOW legend and no one can take that away from him.  That being said, does he actually have a clean win since his return?”

Joe rubs his chin and thinks.  Shaking his head no, he continues.

Joe Bergman: No.  I don’t think he has.  Both of his ‘wins’ were via outside interference.  I’m shocked.  You’d think a HOW Hall of Fame wrestler wouldn’t have to resort to cheap, douchebag, common heel tactics to steal matches… I mean…

Joe pauses and looks into the camera.  He holds up his HOF ring and grins.

Joe Bergman: I sure wouldn’t.

After another pause, Joe goes on.

Joe Bergman: What they did to Conor Fuse at War Games was beyond despicable. The Board didn’t win War Games.  Tyler Best and Christopher Corporate America didn’t win that match.  The Corporate Machine did what it always does to anyone who stands in their way and cleared the battlefield of all obstacles so the EPU could serve Fuse to Captain Freedom and Best on a platter.  Whatever.  I am looking forward to Steve Solex… Merc Dad… The Dad Soldier… relieving Captain Freedom… er… Mr. Corporate America of the HOW World Title on July 3rd and bringing the title belt to the Highwaymen.

Thunderbolt Smith: Okay Joe, so what exactly is the difference between the Board and The Highwaymen then?

Joe Bergman: Thunderbolt, I certainly won’t answer on behalf of Clay, Harrison, and Steve but I can tell you what I believe the Board is all about.  The Board is about burying the Highwaymen and everyone else in the company… just like corporate America is all about burying ordinary Joes, the poors, the plebs, the rabble, the have nots, the never weres, the disenfranchised, the left behinds, the descamisados… the people.  Do you want to know what pro wrestling is really about?  It’s about the people.   The fans.  People who love the sport the pro wrestling.  People who come out and support HOW and Missouri Valley Wrestling and ALL the great wrestling companies throughout the country for the love of the game.  Like big corporations who use their size, power, and their money to steamroll over small businesses and put mom and pop operations out of existence, the HOW Corporate machine rigged the game at War Games and made sure The Board had every advantage available to them.  How did HOW fans react?  Well, you heard the boos at Refueled 100 last week but here’s what you DIDN’T see at Refueled 100.

A YouTube video taken from the floor of the Best Arena at HOW’s Refueled 100 show appears on the video screen inside the Hale Arena and the television screen of everyone watching the pay per view show from home.

(YouTube Video- Best Arena – HOW’s Refueled 100 Show)
The stage goes dark…

And then…

UNDEAD blares over the public address system and the fans rise up to boo.

The HOV lights up with two words: THE BOARD

Michael Lee Best walks out first in a #97Red shirt and black jacket.  He smiles cockily standing at the center of the ramp. He then turns and motions towards the entrance way.

Cecilworth Farthington comes out next as the jeers grow with intensity. He’s holding the HOW World Championship in one hand and a bag in the other. He holds them in the air as he takes his place next to Mike.

Christopher America and Tyler Adrian Best, the co-winners of War Games come out next with Jace Parker Davidson and the boos intensify. Tyler holds his hand up to the fans but his attention is on his phone. America, decked out in his gaudy “America-suit” also holds up a hand while patting himself on the back.

Then the video pans up to Section 214.

It’s clear the denizens of Section 214 and others have seen enough and aren’t willing to listen to anything The Board has to say.  They are walking out of the building en masse as Mike Best talks and the seats empty out in Section 214 very quickly. 

By the time Christopher America is anointed the HOW World Champion and Tyler Best the new ICON Champion, there’s no one left in Section 214. 

The video ends.

Joe Bergman: That’s right.  Kudos to Section 214 and everyone else who walked out on The Board’s pretentious, masturbatory exercise in self-congratulation last weekend.  A team of the Universe’s Biggest Douchebags winning War Games in a particularly douchebag way and then celebrating like the Universe’s Biggest Douchebags they are.

The.  Joe encourages the fans in the arena by motioning with his hand to join in and boo the Board.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Joe Bergman: That’s right.  BOOOOO.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Joe plays it up to the hilt.

Joe Bergman: So, then the Board took it on themselves to decide who the new champion was going to be.  Not two wrestlers inside the ring wrestling for a title belt.  The Board actually chose the champion.

Joe glances around the arena as more boos rolled in from the crowd.

Joe Bergman: Well folks, I may be old school but I believe that you earn the title in the ring against a champion.  I believe most wrestling fans think the only way you should win a title is by doing it inside the ring.  Not by corporate fiat.  Not by majority vote of a board.  Not by a whim of a CEO.  No, you become a champion by beating the champion inside the ring.  Not by corporate fiat.  Not by King Arthur pulling Excalibur from the water by divine providence…

Thunderbolt does a double take and leans over to Hall.

Thunderbolt Smith: King Arthur?

Rick Hall: Shhh.  He’s on a roll.

Joe Bergman: … no, you win the title by winning the title in the ring- not by some farcical aquatic ceremony. You can’t expect to become the HOW World Champion just because some watery tart threw the title belt at you!

Grinning mischievously and realizing that both Thunderbolt and Hall are looking at him as if he’s gone insane, Joe stops himself before he continues down the Monty Python-ish tangent he’d stumbled onto and gets back to the point.

Joe Bergman: So to be clear here.  Pro wrestling is great.  Corporate pro wrestling sucks.

Joe pauses for a second to reflect.

Joe Bergman: So, the fact Christopher America was granted the world title instead of actually earning the title inside the ring smells of corporate, sports entertainment bullshit.  And big corporations take something great and literally suck the soul out of everything they touch.

More than a few people in the crowd heartily agree with Joe’s statement

Joe Bergman: Don’t get me wrong.  High Octane Wrestling is great. Corporate HOW…”

Joe cups his ears with one hand and flashes a thumbs down with the other.  The fans respond accordingly.

SUCKS!

Joe Bergman: The sport of pro wrestling is great.  Sports Entertainment and corporate bullshit wrestling…

Again, Joe cups his ears.  Again, the fans shout out.

SUCKS!

Joe claps his hands.

Joe Bergman: That’s right.

***

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME- PART FOUR
Clapping his hands as Elizabeth found herself trapped in the corner, Joe winces as her opponent delivered a stinging, open palm strike to her chest.  Again, she sold it very well.

“That’s good,” Joe said.

Then she threw a wild right hand.  Her opponent ducked and Elizabeth would again feel the pain of an open palm strike radiating from her chest.

Shaking his head, Joe muttered, “Not good.”

Elizabeth was then spun around by her hair and it looked like she would be driven again face first into the turnbuckle.  But this time, the Channel 5 reporter stuck out her arm to block and then in one, not real smooth but passable, move she slammed her opponent’s head into the turnbuckle instead.

“YES!” Joe exclaimed, jumping up into the air on the apron after Elizabeth hit the move.

So far, so good.

Pleased that Elizabeth seemed to be more than holding her own inside the ring, Joe again clapped his hands but this time- some of the fans who were already seated for the pay per view show began to clap as well.

Bergman motioned to the fans to show a little support for Elizabeth and that’s what they did.  He wasn’t if Elizabeth noticed but he did note that her next move seemed a little more fluid as if the crowd provided her a little energy burst.

“All right,” Joe said to himself.  “Now if she can stick the landing at the end and finish this strong.”

***

Thunderbolt Smith: Well, Joe.  I know you didn’t come here just to rip on the Board.  You will be in action this Sunday night at HOW’s Chaos One.

Joe laughs.

Joe Bergman: That’s right, Thunderbolt.  I will be in a number one contender’s match for the HOW Tag Team Title belts currently held by the Highwaymen… Steve Solex and Clay Byrd… even though by virtue of already being a member of the Highwaymen and… FREEBIRD RULES… I’m already a tag team champion.

Thunderbolt Smith: I see.

Joe Bergman: But for some inconceivable reason, in their infinite wisdom… sarcasm intended… I’ve been booked to team up with Darin Zion to take on the team of Scottywood and Bobbinette Carey… AND… the team of Jace Parker Davidson and Cecilworth Farthington from The Board.  Now.  Anyone with the IQ of a brick knows what the deal is here.  The Corporate Machine is trying to fast track JPD and Farthington to a title shot and the tag belts.

Thunderbolt Smith: So how do you feel about tagging with Darin Zion?

Joe shrugs.

Joe Bergman: Whatever.  Look, at the MVW level, Zion is golden.  At HOW, there’s so many great wrestlers that it’s harder to separate yourself from the rest and Darin’s still trying to find his place there.

Rick Hall develops a serious smirk on his face.

Rick Hall: So, Joe.  Is it true that Darin Zion sent the ‘Love Convoy’ to the barn to help cheer you up?

Joe rolls his eyes and slaps his forehead.

Joe Bergman: God, yes.  Darin Zion showed up at Bergman’s Barn with the… (shuddering)… Love Convoy because he knows I just got divorced and in his own way he was trying to help.”

Rick Hall: Did it?

Joe Bergman: No.

Both Thunderbolt and Hall chuckle at Joe’s response.

Joe Bergman: But about the match, I know HOW’s standard operating procedure is to come out and bury your opponents with trash talk but I’m not lowering myself into the sludge to do that.  Why?  Because I don’t need to do that.  I won two world titles and a tag team title without resorting to that.  So let me say this.  Scottywood and Bobbinette Carey.  Worthy HOW Hall of Famers.  Ray McAvay once said Scottywood was the heart and soul of HOW and I agree with him.  Bobbinette Carey is the conscience of HOW and still a very dangerous wrestler. As for Farthington and Davidson?   They’re also legitimate HOW Hall of Famers and they are both great wrestlers in their own right.  JPD just won a title over at OCW.  He had a nice run with the HOTv belt last year.  Jace seems to be rounding back into form.  Cecilworth is back as well and looking good even though the unnecessary post-match bullshit to Conor Fuse was totally uncalled for.   I know exactly what CMF is capable of… I remember the whole toilet murder stuff and getting my ass handed to me at Rumble at the Rock back in 2019.

Thunderbolt Smith: So, let’s get to the brass tacks, Joe.  Can Zion and you win?

Bergman shrugs.

Joe Bergman: Who knows.  I do know this much.  We’ll be the underdogs in a three-way tag team battle against two teams chock full of HOW Hall of Fame wrestlers.  Can the underdogs win against the odds in a playing field that’s been tilted in the Board’s favor?  Why not.  It’s been done before.  In 1315’s Battle of Morgarten, an undermanned Swiss Army used their superior knowledge of Switzerland’s terrain and came up with some brilliant strategy to beat back an Austrian Army more than four times larger.

Thunderbolt and Hall both turn towards each other and shrug, unsure of just where Joe was going.

Joe Bergman: Like the Swiss, Zion and I will have to choose our moments very carefully.  We will have to wait on our opponents to make a mistake and provide an opening… an opportunity to strike.  Instead of letting the Board prepare the battlefield, Zion and I will have to beat them to that punch.  We will have to bide our time… wait for our moment… and then strike hard… with conviction… with confidence… and with ruthless efficiency.  The Battle of Morgarten was won by an improvised, rag tag militia of farmers and herdsmen outnumbered by a well-equipped and trained medieval army.  At Chaos One on July 3rd, an thrown together tag team… backed by Section 214 and the people, will draw on the inspiration and support of the people… will reach down deep inside of them to find a way to overcome the odds… to deny The Board what they want- which is ultimate victory and control over all the belts… and defeat two quality tag teams.

Joe notices referee Davey Keels walking down the ramp and knows that’s the signal the second Main Event of the night would be shortly getting underway.

Joe Bergman: We’re going to do it, Thunderbolt.

Thunderbolt Smith: All right Joe. Thanks for stopping by tonight and good luck Sunday night.

MVW’s ring announcer Heather Cooper also steps into the ring and looks at her card as she gets ready for the match.

Joe Bergman: Anytime guys.

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME-CONCLUSION
Following Elizabeth Carlisle’s ‘dark’ match debut win, she slowly headed up the lighted ramp escorted by Joe Bergman.

“Well?  Mission accomplished then,” she asked about halfway up the ramp.

She wiped her face with a towel and wrapped it around her neck.

“Mission accomplished.” Joe winked at her.

Elizabeth nodded back at Joe and then turned to take one last look around the arena as an official, bonafide ‘professional’ wrestler.  Before she took another step, Elizabeth put her arm around Joe’s shoulder and said into his ear, “Hey, Joe.”

“Hey, what.”

“I get it.”  She flashed the smile that made her one of Chicago’s most-liked television reporters.  “I totally get it.”

Joe grinned back in return and patted her on the shoulder.

‘Thought you would.”

Elizabeth took in the ambience of the small five thousand seat arena like a wine connoisseur taking in the smell of a fine wine and basked in the moment… her moment. With the adrenaline still running high inside of her, Elizabeth raised her arms again to the crowd’s delight.  After one last wave to the fans, she turned to Joe.

“Thank you,” she said.

“My pleasure, Elizabeth.  Thank you.

They stopped on the stage one last time, oblivious to the fact that the camera is following them and a close up of the two is being shown on the video screen.

“For the love of the game?” Elizabeth said, extending her hand to shake his.

Joe followed through with the shaking of hands.

Cue the schmaltzy end credit music welling up in the background- the kind that you usually hear at the end of a movie.

“For the love of the game,” he said.

Bergman and Carlisle take one last look at the cheering fans inside the Hale Arena and finally disappear to the back.

Fade to black.