May 7th, 2023- HOW Chaos 31 at the Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Dan Ryan has just retained the HOTv title in a tight match with Xander Azula.
STRONK has just hit 307.1 on the scale. Steve Solex approves.
Then all hell breaks loose.
Clay Byrd leads the charge from the back to kick off the obligatory post-go-home show free-for-all with Scott Stevens, Scottywood, Bobbinette Carey, and Charles de Lacy flanking him. STRONK and Solex are already at ringside. Ryan and Jatt Starr jump in and it’s on.
Evan Ward joins in and gets leveled by a Conor Fuse chair shot. Byrd and Solex make eye contact as Darin Zion and Brian Hollywood join the madness… Xander Azula and Zach Kostoff follow.
HOW World Champion Christopher America makes a cameo appearance and decides not to engage preferring to return to the relative safety of the back clutching the HOW World Title tightly in his arms.
Byrd and Solex look like they’re about to get it on. Then the crowd pops. Byrd’s pleased with who he sees running down to the ring. Solex looks sideways and he’s shocked to see that after two months of self-exile, Joe Bergman has finally showed up at a HOW show dressed in his trademark black t-shirt and jeans.
Bergman’s return means good news for Clay Byrd, right?
Bergman stuns the Houston crowd when he levels Byrd with a chair shot. Glaring at Solex, Joe simply drops the chair and rolls back under the bottom rope to the floor. He heads back up the ramp walking away from the chaos continuing outside the ring.
When Joe returns to the back, he’s met by…
…a royally confused Sunny O’Callahan. Dressed for battle in her usual spaghetti strap top, blue jeans, and heels in her background singer for her Southern rock band persona, she does a quick turnaround to follow Joe towards the exit of the arena. She’d seen Joe for just a split second when he finally arrived at the Toyota Center as he flew through heading for the ring.
“Joe, what did you just do?” Sunny asks, genuinely shocked at what’s just gone down. Matching Joe step for step, she somehow manages to remove the heels from her feet so she could keep up. “And why?”
“I’ll tell you this much, I didn’t do it to save Steve Solex,” replies Joe, not breaking stride.
“But why did you take out Clay Byrd with a chair?”
“Because this is War Games and like it or not, I’m on the same team as Steve Solex. I took out Clay Byrd for the team… not Steve Solex… the team. That’s it. That’s as far as it goes.”
“I don’t know, Joe.” Sunny shakes her head, unconvinced and uneasy with the thought of Joe coming to Solex’s aid… especially after what happened at ICONIC last year.
“Look, Sunny,” Joe says with a firm tone of voice. “Steve Solex is a colossal asshole and I don’t trust him one bit. But he’s still on our team.”
“I understand this is War Games,” Sunny returns, still trying to understand the reasoning behind Joe’s actions. “But what if Solex turns on you during the match?”
Joe smirks. “Then in other news, the grass is green, the sky is blue, and the Earth continues to spin. Don’t worry,” he tries to reassure her. “I’ll be ready for whatever happens. But for now, the focus is on winning this thing. And if that means I have to put aside my personal issues with Steve Solex for the greater good, then so be it. That’s what I have to do.”
“I’m still not sure this is a good idea, Joe.”
“Sunny, this is my last War Games,” Joe informs her in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. “This…”
Sunny’s jaw drops.
“…is my final HOW match.”
“You heard me. War Games is it for me in HOW. After War Games… unless America steps up for the PWA 2 show, that’s it. And because it’s my final HOW match, I want to go out there and give it everything I have one final time before I hang it up for good.”
Sunny nods. She tries to process and understand the logic behind Joe’s decision to put his issues with Steve Solex aside for War Games while at the same time, she was not prepared for Joe’s bombshell telling her of his intention to make War Games his final HOW match.
Then she notices something gold and shiny on Joe’s left ring finger and it all becomes clearer to her.
“So,” Sunny sighs, slightly deflated. “When did you and Laura get remarried?”
”Long story.” Joe chuckles. “I’ll tell you all about it in the car going back to the hotel.”
“I’m happy for you.” Sunny puts on a brave face and places her hand on Joe’s arm. “But there’s something I’d like to share with you.”
“Okay.” Joe holds open the exit door to the arena and Sunny passes through first… then Bergman. They head towards his rental vehicle- Sunny had taken an Uber to get to the arena- and until she saw Bergman walk in the door during the Dan Ryan-Xander Azula match she was very nervous that Joe wouldn’t show up at the show like he’d texted her he would.
“First off, I want to profusely thank you for giving me the opportunity,” Sunny begins. “I thought I’d royally burnt my bridges at working at the highest level in pro wrestling. But you gave me a chance. And because you gave me a chance, I was also able to score the gig with ‘Redneck’ Bill Dickinson and then the Alabama Gang.”
“My pleasure,” Joe replies. “I was in a spot where I felt I needed to switch things up a bit. I thought you could be a help to that. And it worked… for both of us.”
“I also want to tell you that I appreciated the fact you were one hundred percent upfront with me that this relationship was business only…” She looks wistfully away for a second and then goes on. “I respect you for sticking to that.” Sunny pauses and then adds. “Others wouldn’t have.”
“I appreciate your honesty,” Joe reassures her, “…and I think you’ve got a future in this business, Sunny,” “You’re in a unique position where you royally screwed up… you owned it… you did your time for doing it… and took full advantage of a second chance to make it right. You helped me out a lot and I’m glad I could help you get your career back on track.”
“Well?” Sunny says. “With you leaving HOW, I’m not sure where my HOW career goes from here. I guess it’s back to Missouri Valley Wrestling full-time then.”
“For now,” Joe answers. “I’m sure something will come up. You have a bright future ahead of you, Sunny. You really do.”
Joe and Sunny climb into the rental car. He fires up the engine and puts the car in reverse to back out of the parking spot. Joe then hits the accelerator and the car moves forward…
Sunny slides down in the passenger seat, kicks off her heels, and puts her feet on the dashboard of the rental car.
“Now, about that story you promised…”
UK Wrestling Talk-May 1st, 2023
Ringside following a UK wrestling show in Bolton with empty seats and a flashing sign in the background with “UKPW” on it behind the camera shot. Over to the left, ring technicians continue to tear down the ring.
Once again, Simon Wilson, a bald UK wrestling personality stands before the camera with a microphone in his right hand.
Simon Wilson: Simon Wilson for What’s Up Wrestling with part three of our chat with American professional wrestler Joe Bergman from High Octane Wrestling.
Simon welcomes Joe Bergman into the shot.
Simon Wilson: Joe, we’ve talked about your War Games team and Evan Ward’s team. Shall we talk about the other two War Games teams?
Joe Bergman: We shall.
Simon Wilson: Michael Best’s team which consists of Jace Parker Davidson, Conor Fuse, Scott Stevens, Scottywood, and potentially Zac Kostoff.
Joe Bergman: Well, everyone on Mike’s team save Kostoff has won the HOW World Title. Jace- three times… Fuse and Stevens twice… and Scottywood once. Mike’s team will have two world-class wrestlers leading the line going into War Games in Jace Parker Davidson and Conor Fuse. I’m a big fan of Conor Fuse. As a wrestler, Conor’s a headliner. He headlines in HOW AND he headlines in Defiance as well. Really good wrestler. As I said, a two-time world champion. You know he’s got his eye on winning a third title.
Simon Wilson: What makes Conor Fuse so dangerous?
Joe Bergman: Conor has the strength, agility, and technique that make him a formidable opponent. Conor’s had a remarkable career so far and he’s defeated some of the best wrestlers in not just HOW but in the business. Conor Fuse has earned his place as one of the potential winners of War Games. As War Games gets closer and closer, everyone’s making their predictions about who will be the survivor and, in my opinion, Conor Fuse has to be at the top of that list. No doubt Conor has what it takes to win, and I know he’s hungry to win the HOW World Title back.
Simon Wilson: I know you’re not a big fan of Jace Parker Davidson.
Joe Bergman: Well? Jace Parker Davidson the person… no, I have no use for him. JPD the wrestler? Different story. Jace Parker Davidson. The name alone strikes fear into the hearts of his opponents.
Simon Wilson: Especially after what he did to Ray McAvay.
Joe Bergman: No, that was not one of JPD’s shining moments. But I will say Jace is one of the most ruthless wrestlers I’ve ever watched in the ring or faced in my career. And to be honest, I don’t particularly like the guy… and… it’s taken me a while but I think I finally get it about Jace. Especially after everything that Lee’s done to him over the past year…
Simon Wilson: Including a pen to the eye?
Joe Bergman: Right. Jace for some reason is on Lee’s bad side and he’s has been left on an island outside the Final Alliance. He doesn’t trust anyone now and after everything I’ve personally been through with Lee this past year… I totally understand the reason why. I don’t think Jace ever trusted Scott Stevens which explains why their tag team fractured so easily at the PWA 1 show. JPD never thought he could count on Stevens and… to be fair… he was proven right when Stevens let Sunny O’Callahan get under his skin during the PWA 1 match with the Alabama Gang. No trust.
Simon Wilson: Is JPD’s issue with Scott Stevens similar to your animosity towards Steve Solex?
Joe Bergman: Absolutely yes. Hell yes… I felt… actually feel the same way toward Steve Solex. For all the hype of the ‘Dad Tag Team’… PBR… the Highwaymen… the fact of the matter was I couldn’t count on Solex when we needed him to step up. So, I get that about Jace. He can only trust himself. I totally understand that now. Here’s the thing, when he’s ultra-focused, JPD is as good of a wrestler as you’ll ever see. The thing about Jace is that he’s single-minded in his focus. He knows what he wants, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get it. He doesn’t care who he has to step on or over to get there. I don’t like JPD the person.
Simon Wilson: But JPD the wrestler?
Joe Bergman: JPD the wrestler, I respect. When you step into the ring with Jace Parker Davidson, you’re not just facing a wrestler. You’re facing a man who will stop at nothing to win. I think that’s what makes Mike’s team so potentially dangerous. Conor Fuse has something to prove. JPD’s got his eyes on retaining the LSD title. Scott Stevens desperately wants to find that championship form he had back in 2015-2016. And then there’s Scottywood. He’s the wild card of this whole thing. If Scott Stevens or Scotty come to play and put in a strong performance at War Games if JPD and Fuse are on their game… it’s not be out of the realm of possibility that this team could be very formidable at War Games.
Simon Wilson: Now… your former Highwayman running mate Clay Byrd and his team… Dan Ryan, Jatt Starr, Bobbinette Carey, and potential Xander Azula.
Joe Bergman: That’s HOW World Champion Xander Azula.
Simon appears slightly confused.
Joe Bergman: Xander pinned Christopher America at Chaos 29… before Lee decided to arbitrarily restart the match.
Simon Wilson: Oh… right.
Joe Bergman: I want to talk first about Clay Byrd. If I’m being honest right now, I wanted to be on Clay’s team. In the Highwaymen, Steve Solex… never mind, I’ve said enough about him… but Steve Harrison and Clay Byrd were the ones I knew I could rely on. I had faith in Steve Harrison and Clay Byrd because I knew that they were dependable. I would have enjoyed going to war with Clay again. Unfortunately… that’s not the case so the die has been cast and I have to play the cards I’ve been dealt. Regardless, Clay is a formidable opponent, a true powerhouse. He’s a beast. He’s a monster. And one of these days, Clay Byrd is going to be the HOW World Champion.
Simon Wilson: Are you sure Lee Best would let that happen?
Joe Bergman: Simon, I don’t think even Lee can stop that from happening. Clay didn’t get the nickname The Plainview Monster because he’s a nice guy. Clay Byrd is one of the toughest son of a bitches I’ve ever shared a ring with… opponents? They’re just obstacles in his way. He doesn’t care who they are or what they’ve accomplished. When they step into that ring with Clay Byrd, they’re going to be in for a world of hurt because Clay Byrd doesn’t fool around… if you’re not ready, he’ll deliver a Texas-size ass whupping on you. He doesn’t fool around, and he doesn’t suffer fools. So, when I think about stepping into the ring with him, I have to be prepared for a fight. Yeah… Clay Byrd is world champion material and I’m not pleased that I’m going to be on the opposing side against him. He’s a damn good wrestler, and I respect that. But when we step into that ring at War Games, all bets are off. It’s every team for themselves.
Simon Wilson: Speaking of monsters… Dan Ryan.
Joe Bergman: Yep. I am well acquainted with Dan Ryan. Dan Ryan’s career speaks for itself. Speaking of someone who personifies ‘ruthless’… that would describe Dan Ryan to a ‘t’. Dan’s big… strong… a mountain of muscle. But it’s not just his size that makes him intimidating. It’s his demeanor. He exudes this aura of dominance and aggression that just puts you on edge. He possesses one of the most legendary mean streaks in pro wrestling. I remember when Dan joined HOW back in 2019 and he threw me… as Halitosis… through the back window of an SUV. I remember him kicking my ass in a match so… yes… I know exactly who Dan Ryan is all about and what Dan Ryan is capable of doing… whatever it takes to win. And I do mean whatever it takes. He’ll break the rules and get dirty in the ring if the situation dictates. It’s that kind of mentality that makes him such a force to be reckoned with.
Simon Wilson: And he’s on the same team as Clay Byrd.
Joe Bergman: Yeah, Byrd and Ryan co-existing on the same team will be very intriguing to watch.
Simon Wilson: And then there’s Jatt Starr…
Joe Bergman: Simon Sparrow?
Simon Wilson: Jatt Starr.
Joe Bergman: Yeah whatever. If Sparrow can stay out of the bars and hooch and cooch houses, he could be a dark horse in the match. I actually think he and Dan Ryan make a good tag team… I think both complement each other’s styles really well. And I will give Dan and Simon credit for going into a hostile MVW arena and winning the HOTv Tag Belts in a really close match with the Alabama Gang.
Simon Wilson: You are contractually obliged to say that since Sunny O’Callahan also manages the Alabama Gang.
Joe Bergman: That is correct. But the point is… unlike Christopher America… Ryan and Sparrow proved they could step up and win a fair match… and certainly, the match at MVW was as fair as you’re going to get. But Simon, getting back to the match itself… at the end of the match there’s only going to be one winning team and probably one survivor. Do I want to be on the winning team? Yes. Why? Because when I step into that ring at War Games in Mexico City, it’s going to be for the last time.
Simon’s surprised… and realizes he’s breaking news, too.
Simon Wilson: Wait a minute. Am I hearing you correctly? You are leaving HOW?
Joe Bergman: You are and yes, I’m leaving HOW and retiring from being an active wrestler.
Simon Wilson: And you are retiring from the ring, too?
Joe Bergman: That’s correct. The last couple of months have been a revelation. In March, I came to the UK full of anger and despair and frustration after what happened at March to Glory. I figured things out and reprioritized my life so I will be leaving the UK in a much different… much better… frame of mind. But before I call it a career, I have to give credit where credit’s due… Lee Best.
Again, Simon is surprised.
Joe Bergman: Lee took a chance on me back in 2019 and brought me in as a mid-card comedy guy… I don’t think he or anyone in their right mind would have predicted that I… as Halitosis… would win the World Championship tournament and become the HOW World Champion not once… but twice. So… for all my issues with Lee right now, I do have to thank him for giving me the shot to prove myself and appreciate that. When Lee asked me to come back after heart surgery to face Steve Solex, I came back even though it caused a major ruckus in my household that put a major strain on my marriage to Laura. When Lee asked me to come back permanently to HOW in 2020, Laura and I were still having major issues. I accepted Lee’s offer and we ended up getting divorced. In retrospect, I probably never should have come back… especially after the heart surgery. I chose wrestling over my wife… period, end of story. But now, after spending two months with Laura in the UK… I have a chance to right that wrong.
Simon Wilson: Right the wrong?
Joe nods and grins.
Joe Bergman: This time, I’m choosing my wife over wrestling.
Simon Wilson: Wait? You got remarried to Laura while you were over here?
Joe Bergman: Oh no… no… not yet. I think we’ll get married in the states after I call my in-ring career quits after the PWA 2 show so we can have all our friends there.
Simon Wilson: And you’re content with this decision?
Joe Bergman: Yes. So, at War Games, I will go one last time in a HOW ring. I know Chris America and some others think my ‘man of the people’ thing is just a schtick. It’s not. I never had ‘elite’ talent. Everything I’ve earned over the past sixteen years, I gained from hard work, sweat, and tears… from learning my craft and learning from wins and losses. I identified with the people early on… the ones who’ve come out for over sixteen years and paid their hard-earned money to watch me perform. So, at War Games. I’m not just fighting for Joe Bergman… I’m not just wrestling for the team I’m on… I’m fighting for every single person who’s showed up to see me wrestle in PCW, MVW, and HOW over the past sixteen years… I’m fighting for the folks in Section 214 who became my more fervent supporters over the past four years… I’m fighting for every person who’s ever been told they can’t do something… people who are told they’ll never make their dream comes true… for every underdog who’s been knocked down and manages to find the fortitude to get back up and fight again.
Simon Wilson: And after that?
Joe Bergman: Win or lose at War Games, I’m going home to Bergman’s Barn.
Simon Wilson: And there you have it. Joe Bergman. Thank you for your time and the best of luck to you in the future.
Joe Bergman: Thank you Simon.
Joe and Laura Bergman’s House– Plattin, Missouri – May 4th, 2033
It’s late in the evening. The sound of crickets fills the air as Joe sits in an easy chair on the front porch of the house to finish up the story for his 12 year old daughter, Olivia.
“Tell me more, Dad!” she says all excited.
Joe smiles and takes Olivia’s comic book, flipping through the pages.
*MAY 2nd, 2023- WREXHAM AFC CHAMPIONSHIP PARADE…
We see a cartoonized picture of Joe and Laura standing along the street during the open-top parade that took place through the streets of Wrexham.
*Three buses emerge from red and white smoke thrown up by multiple flares throughout the throng of people on both sides of the street while red and white flags and Welsh flags wave in the breeze.
^Bus one has star players Ollie Palmer, Elliott Lee, Paul Mullin, Ben Foster, Eoghan O’Connell and Ben Tozer along the front rail amongst of the National League champion Wrexham squad. Winger Jacob Mendy holds the Champion’s trophy in the air on the side while the fans serenade the team with various songs.
*Bus two has the women’s team on top- they too won promotion to the Welsh Women’s Top League. Also, on the bus- Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, the owners of Wrexham AFC. Bus three had the manager of Wrexham Phil Parkinson on top of it.
“There’s a lot of people there, Daddy,” observes Olivia.
“It was a madhouse,” Joe recalls. “A wonderful, glorious madhouse.”
“But the colors are pretty!”
“Yes they were,” Joe says and then reads on. “So, after the buses finally passed through…”
*Laura looks over and catches Joe staring at her. She smiles and Joe nervously smiles back.
Laura Bergman: Well?
Joe Bergman: Well… what?
Laura Bergman: I need to tell you something.
*Laura moves in and whispers something in Joe’s ear. His jaw drops.
Joe Bergman: Wait… what?
*She nods in the affirmative… tears beginning to form.
Joe Bergman: Holy crap… you’re pregnant?
*They embrace, surrounded by scenes as Wrexham’s fans continue to celebrate on the streets.
“So, we decided right there that we needed to move up the wedding date to…” Joe stops and waits for Olivia to complete the sentence.
“May 4th, 2023!” she cries out.
Olivia leans her head against Joe.
“So… did you and Mommy go to a church or something?” she asks.
“Well? Not quite…”
*THE RACECOURSE GROUND- WREXHAM, WALES
In the very same place where Ben Foster saved the penalty kick against Notts County… Joe, Laura, and a local Magistrate stand on the lush green pitch. Laura’s wearing a red Wrexham jersey and jeans. Joe’s got a Wrexham polo shirt on and jeans.
Magistrate: I now pronounce you… once again… man and wife. You may kiss the bride.
*Joe and Laura kiss.
“And they lived happily ever after… the end.” As Joe finishes the story, the front screen door opens up and Laura appears to call out… “Libby… time to get ready for bed.”
“Let’s go. You’ve got school in the morning and I’m not driving you again just because you can’t get up on time to catch the bus.”
Olivia kisses Joe on the side of his face.
“Thank you, Daddy.”
Joe smiles as Olivia races around Laura through the front door toward her room.
“Happy Anniversary,” she calls out before she closes her bedroom door.
Laura puts her hand on Joe’s shoulder.
Joe closes Olivia’s comic book and heads inside… the door closes behind him.