On a cold Tuesday night, Joe Bergman finds himself all bundled up inside The Chigwell Construction Stadium seated among eight hundred and twenty-four Wrexham fans in the visitor’s stand. They’d made the long journey down from Wales to Dagenham, England- a village on the eastern outskirts of London – to watch Wrexham take on Dagenham and Redbridge FC.
Joe’s not the only American in attendance in the Wrexham section that night. Several Wrexham fans from the States were in attendance- noticeable and identifiable in the way they wore their Wrexham scarfs. You see, on a cold night, most supporters wear their scarf wrapped under their coats to keep their necks warm.
However, the American style is to hang it around their neck with both ends drooping across the right and left-hand side of their body didn’t offer much protection from the cold. But it did have the Wrexham badge facing outwards for maximum exposure.
Joe had taken the day off from training- the first one he’d allowed himself since flying to the UK over a week ago. He picked a very good night to travel as Wrexham won a decisive four–nil victory to put themselves four points clear at the top of the table. Three days before, Wrexham surrendered a last-minute equalizer at Maidenhead United and dropped two points on the same day the second-place team in the league also dropped points. But the team responded on this evening with an overpowering bounce-back performance to increase their lead in the division to four points.
Now back on the bus and headed back north with a group of deliriously Wrexham fans singing endless rounds of ‘Wrexham is the Name’ and carrying on following the win, Joe leans back in his seat and politely eschews the bottle of whiskey that suddenly appears in his face by a very happy… and rather intoxicated… Wrexham fan.
Five days to March to Glory.
‘Five days’ he thinks to himself as the bus continues up the M-1 near Milton Keynes. Joe thinks about his current title run with the HOTv belt. He’s not happy about the whole Evil Empire nonsense overshadowing the fact that he’s had a pretty good run so far. He’s worked too hard for too long for the transparently false hyperbole to become reality. He knows this upcoming match against Dan Ryan, Jatt Starr, and Scott Stevens is not just a four-way battle for the HOTv belt- it’s in reality a five-way battle if you count Lee Best and his desire to get the title off of Joe as soon as possible. This is Joe’s chance to stick it back at Lee Best for all the Evil Empire nonsense over the past few months. He hopes to use the frustrations over the past few weeks to fuel his resolve instead of letting them overwhelm him.
It’s not going to be easy, though.
Dan may appear to be an impossible mountain to climb. But then again, exceeding everyone’s expectations is something that Joe does… and enjoys doing.
Dan Ryan is a legend in this industry. Joe remembers that once upon a time, Dan Ryan seemed to be an impossible mountain for him to climb. Four years ago, he never even considered the thought even for a moment he could actually beat Ryan in a match. Two crushing losses in 2019 cemented that view in his head.
However, two weeks ago, Joe Bergman did exactly that. With the caveat being that he was teaming up with Scott Stevens, Bergman and Stevens defeated Ryan and Jatt Starr in a tag match.
It confirmed to Joe he was more than capable of not only competing against Dan Ryan but he was also able to defeat Dan Ryan- even if it was a tag match.
However, he also knew March to Glory would be a completely different animal. Four men in the ring… every man for himself for the HOTv title.
Here’s what Joe knows…
Joe knows Dan’s power is unmatched and he will hurt you. He knows Dan is cool, calculating, and possesses a lengthy, nasty, mean streak. Dan is unmerciful inside the ring. Dan will try to bully him all over the ring. Joe understands he can’t let him do that. Every day in training, every moment he works inside the ring, he is working on perfecting his defenses… practicing how he will react if Dan does this or Dan does that. Joe’s also worked hard on his match sharpness knowing that using his technical ability to negate Dan’s power game is the best way to defeat him.
Joe also understands Dan Ryan also has much to prove since his return to HOW and will be looking to re-establish that he is the beast he’s always been- a class above the rest. Joe gets how much Ryan wants to get back to where he was before the layoff and that makes Dan Ryan an even more dangerous opponent than before. He knows Dan Ryan wants gold around his waist once again and he’ll do what he has to do to wrest the HOTv title from him.
Joe knows he’ll have to draw on his fifteen-plus years of experience and all the technical skills he’s picked up over the past four years to stop that from happening.
Ugh. Joe’s completely over Jatt Starr. He still has no idea what got into Jatt. No clue why he decided to target him with the wildest, most patently false accusations this side of Joe Isuzu. He had no idea why he decided to prostrate himself into becoming Lee Best’s sniveling lackey. At first, Joe was willing to try to let Jatt’s inane words and comments slide… just ignore it… and just keep going and stay focused on the prize.
But when Jatt took it to the next level by attacking him several weeks ago with Dan Ryan, Joe decided enough was enough. He took the chains and shackles off and fought back. First, he made sure to pay back the receipt he owed both Jatt and Dan Ryan at the next show with the able assistance of Sunny O’Callahan. Joe followed that up with a win over Starr and Ryan in the tag match. Sure, there was the inevitable, requisite, and predictable post-match attack but the Alabama Gang- who have their own issues with both Jatt and Dan- came down to make the save. But to Joe, a win was still a win no matter what anyone else said.
The fact that Joe pinned Jatt made it even sweeter.
Now, with March to Glory five days away, the stakes were higher. In a fair fight, Joe’s convinced Jatt Starr can’t beat him. What went down at ICONIC proved to him that the only way Jatt can defeat him is by summoning the dark arts of shenanigans to pull one over on him. Joe will be ready for that because he knows full well that Jatt Starr will love nothing more than to snatch the HOTv title belt away from him.
Joe knows he can’t let that happen.
And then there’s Scott Stevens.
In the name of pleasing Lee Best, Stevens decided to taser Sunny and then blindside Joe as they were leaving the arena the night he and Sunny delivered two well-earned receipts.
Note the keyword there- leaving. Not sneaking out. Not slipping out. Not crawling through a septic pipe full of the foulest material inside of it during a heavy rainfall to escape in some sort of Sawshank-ish redemption. Joe and Sunny were just leaving the arena for the night.
Stevens got his receipt at Chaos 24 following the tag match and during Ryan and Starr’s post-match attack on Bergman… his receipt engineered via taser by Sunny herself for Stevens’s latest misguided attempt to curry favor with Lee Best.
Joe feels recent events prove that Sunny O’Callahan is living rent-free in not only the head of Scott Stevens but the entire Stevens family. In fact, he’s keeping a close watch on his cell phone… via texts going back and forth with Dawn McGill (yes, Joe upgraded his cell phone service to international for his UK trip)… on the goings on at the MVW show in Wichita that night. The Alabama Gang are defending the tag title with Sunny in their corner against The Stevens Dynasty. Scott Stevens is also there.
Not that something could kick off between Sunny and the Stevens in Wichita or anything… but Joe probably wouldn’t find out what went down at the show until the next morning- Kansas was six hours behind UK time.
However, Joe recognizes that Stevens is still someone to be reckoned with due to his blind loyalty to Lee Best. ‘The Demi-God of HOW’ may be nothing more than another pawn in Lee’s arsenal to try to end Bergman’s HOTv title, but Joe realizes he can’t sleep on Scott Stevens at all- especially in a clusterfuck of a four-way match with the singular goal of making sure Joe Bergman leaves the UK without the HOTv belt.
Because Lee Best would love nothing more than for Jatt Starr OR Dan Ryan to win the HOTv title from him. Scott Stevens… not so much.
Joe vows he won’t let any of that happen.
In fact, in his mind right there on the bus, he vows to fight like hell to make sure that doesn’t happen.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia… Wichita
We find Sunny O’Callahan all curled up in bed at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel by the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. She’s trying to catch some shut-eye before she has to board an early morning flight to Boston and then later on a trans-Atlantic flight to Manchester, England.
At first glance, Sunny seems to be sleeping peacefully in bed… worn out following some excitement that went down at the Missouri Valley Wrestling show in Wichita earlier that evening between The Alabama Gang and The Stevens Dynasty. She got clobbered from behind by Scott Stevens and had a bandage covering a small cut on her forehead.
But upon further reflection, there’s more going on than meets the eye as Sunny rocks back and forth in the bed…
…an elevator door opens and a security detail who could be the EPU exits with Joe Bergman with them. They walk across the dark space and stop before a #97 red throne.
Sitting on the #97 throne? A bald man with a slightly mangled face… as in someone might have shot him through the side of his face… mangled kind of face. He’s the Deity of Some Wrestling Company.
The Deity of Some Wrestling Company: It’s about fucking time Joe. What took you so fucking long?
Joe glares back at the man defiantly. The bald guy glances at the binders around Joe’s wrist.
The Deity: Take those off already.
The binders are removed.
The Deity: Leave us.
The security group disappears.
The Deity: I’m looking forward to completing your journey to the dark side…
Immediately, the legal team of some wrestling company begins to hyperventilate about the possibility of an impending trademark infringement.
The Deity: FUCK! I meant your journey to the BAD side.
The legal team sighs a breath of relief.
The Deity: Your journey starts NOW!
Actor David Leisure enters.
Who is David Leisure, you ask? Well, David Leisure is the actor who played fictional automotive ‘pitchman’ Joe Isuzu in a series of television commercials from 1986 to 1990. Joe Isuzu was also coincidentally the inspiration for Jatt Starr’s recent series of outrageously false statements towards Joe- fitting since Joe Isuzu was portrayed as one of the most dishonest, unethical car salesmen of all time.
Leisure plays the shady salesman cliché to the hilt… just like Jatt Starr tried to do- to try and tear Joe Bergman down. The fictional automotive dealer begins to lie through his plastered-smile face- much like Jatt Starr has- and makes the same outrageous claims about Joe Bergman that he once did for Isuzu.
In fact, the only difference between Joe Isuzu and Jatt Starr’s diatribes is there’s no “He’s Lying” disclaimer flashing onscreen when Jatt speaks.
The Deity: Well?
Joe rolls his eyes.
Joe Bergman: Whatever.
This does not make The Deity happy. The verbal, trash-slash-shit talk failed miserably. The Deity now goes with option two.
Suddenly, a beefy, wall of a man wearing a rumpled suit and tie with sunglasses who kind of resembles Dan Ryan comes up and hammers Bergman from behind. The sneak attack serves Bergman up on a platter for a slightly heavy-set man with blond hair parted on one side and combed over to the other side- kind of like Jatt Starr’s hair was- to run out and start stomping away at Bergman.
This attack goes on for a few moments until The Deity tells them to stop.
The Deity: Give in to your destiny. It’s time for you to embrace the bad side and join the Evil Empire.
Bruised and battered, Joe spits blood on the floor.
Joe Bergman: I don’t care how many times your minions attack me from behind and beat the crap out of me. You’re not going to win. I won’t turn away from the path I’ve always chosen. The good side. Not the dark-
And the legal team begins to brick themselves again…
Joe Bergman: …I mean, BAD SIDE… the bad side.
The Deity rolls his eyes.
Joe Bergman: There’s no way in hell, I’ll EVER become a part of anyone’s Evil Empire.
The Deity scoffs.
The Deity: Oh no. You’re the one who’s mistaken.
Through a round window, there’s a bustle of activity going on.
The Deity: Go look… look for yourself.
Joe glances at the window. A group of what could be the EPU- but not really the EPU -even though they kind of look like the EPU… but they’re not- are dismantling Section 214 piece by piece, displacing the denizens who’ve occupied that space for over four years now.
The Deity: I’m going to destroy everything you hold dear.
He points to the window.
The Deity: Witness your pitiful Section 214 being taken apart… piece by piece… person by person.
Horrified at what’s unfolding in front of him, Joe feels the anger well up inside of him. His fists ball up.
The Deity: That’s right. Feel the HATE… no no… wait… not *that* kind of hate, but that… um… other kind of… hate build up inside of you.
Joe eyes a steel-folding chair on the floor close by.
The Deity: Good… good. I can see the anger building up inside of you. Let it flow through you. Take that steel-folding chair and strike me with all your hatred and your journey to the bad side will be complete.
Joe shakes his head.
Joe Bergman: Nope.
The Deity is shocked.
The Deity: NO?
Joe Bergman: NEVER!
The Deity: But-
Joe Bergman: I’ll never turn to the bad side.
Now it’s The Deity who becomes angry. His face turns #97 red with rage.
The Deity: Fine.
At that moment, blinding bolts of energy, and evil, bad lightning, shoot out from The Deity’s hands.
Also at that moment, the sound of multiple footsteps from multiple people running down a nearby hallway can be clearly heard. The sound gets louder and louder.
A door slams open and an attorney appears… mouth open… gathering the air inside of him that was needed to shout ‘NOOOOOOOOO’.
But then he sees the source of the blinding bolts of energy and evil bad lighting.
The Deity: Tasers, dickhead.
The attorney wipes his brow and quickly makes his exit.
Meanwhile, on the ground thrashing back and forth, Joe is in agony as the energy bolts course through his body. His head whips around… looking for help… looking for someone… looking for anyone… looking for…
The Deity: Her.
The Deity stops tasering Bergman and grins… in a bad way.
The Deity: Your feelings have betrayed you, Joe.
Bergman, now curled up in the fetal position, can barely speak.
The Deity: Your failure is complete. If YOU won’t turn to the dar-… *clears throat*… BAD side, perhaps…
Snapping his fingers, the security group returns- with Sunny O’Callahan with them dressed in a #97 red prison jumpsuit, handcuffed and shackled.
The Deity: …SHE will.
Sunny turns away… distressed at the sight of Bergman on the ground and convulsing from the tasers with smoke rising from his clothing.
The Deity: That’s right. Sunny O’Callahan. The woman who once filed a hostile workplace lawsuit against Rah. The woman who spent time in jail for trespassing on private property and dumping poor ‘Defective’ Marty Pratt into a blue plastic wading pool billed as the “LAKE OF BANISHMENT?’ The woman who helped High Flyer steal Rah’s bus…
Sunny becomes even more distraught now as The Deity recites all the bad things she once did.
The Deity: The woman who struck down Dawn McGill with an SUV.
He points an accusatory finger toward Sunny.
The Deity: YOU did all that.
She shakes her head no.
The Deity: It’s time you released the chains and shackles holding you back.
Sunny glances down. The handcuffs and shackles disappear.
The Deity: It’s time for you to become the BAD person you really are.
The Deity produces a weapon so chilling… so heinously bad… so abominably, atrociously, horrible… that it violates several articles of the Geneva Convention.
The Deity: Take this Bottomline-… er… LETHAL INSTRUMENT OF WRITING….
Cue evil grin.
The Deity: …and PLUNGE it into his eye.
Her voice is a whisper.
Sunny O’Callahan: No.
The Deity: Fulfill your destiny, Sunny O’Callahan. Be the bad girl that you are and claim your rightful place in the Evil Empire.
The Deity holds up the lethal instrument of writing.
The Deity: Take it.
She backs up as The Deity slides off the #97 red throne and advances on her.
Sunny O’Callahan: No.
The Deity: Take it! Do it!
Sunny O’Callahan: No…
The Deity: Do it!
Sunny O’Callahan: …that’s not who I am.
Sunny backs into a wall. There’s nowhere to go.
The Deity raises the pen in front of her eyes.
The Deity: DO IT!
Sunny O’Callahan: That’s not who I am.
His arm moves forward… the edge of the pen headed straight for Sunny’s right eye…
Sunny O’Callahan: No…
Sunny O ‘Callahan: …NO!
Sunny suddenly bolts upright inside her darkened hotel room with enough force to displace the covers from the bed.
Sunny O’Callahan: THAT’S NOT WHO I AM!
Breathing heavily… eyes darting around the room… shaking her head and trying to get her bearings. She checks her eyes… both are still there.
Still catching her breath, Sunny leans her head back against the headboard of the bed.
Sunny O’Callahan: That’s not who I am… anymore.
Four Days and Counting…
As the bus pulls into the parking lot of The Racecourse in Wrexham some six hours after its departure from Dagenham, the interior of the vehicle is quiet. The revelers had long since passed out after the energy and the adrenalin of Wrexham’s emphatic win wore off. Joe himself snaps back to alertness when the bus comes to an abrupt stop.
He checks his phone.
Ugh. Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd passed away. Joe makes a mental note to make sure to acknowledge his passing during his entrance at March to Glory.
Oh. There’s a text from Dawn McGill. It seems the Stevens Dynasty won by count-out over the Alabama Gang and then the shit hit the fan.
Joe chuckles at the spectacle when he pulls up the match on MVW’s YouTube page. Post-match chaos with both teams brawling with each other. Scott Stevens gets involved. ‘Redneck’ Bill Dickinson runs down to the ring to raise hell. Ray McAvay chews out Cary Stevens for going after the referee.
He does wonder if Sunny’s bringing the taser with her. He immediately rethinks that idea though as he realizes trying to bring a taser on the flight might make getting through airport security a little more complicated.
Joe then notes the time- 4:30 in the morning. In less than two hours, the sun will rise and by nine o’clock in the morning, he’ll be back in the gym to get back to work.
Sunny will arrive in England tomorrow morning.
No more off days from this point forward.
Four days ‘til March to Glory.