Joe vs. The Machine

Joe vs. The Machine

Posted on April 29, 2022 at 7:01 pm by Joe Bergman

A Political Ad
Voiceover: The following is paid for by the Highwaymen.

**OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYS IN THE BACKGROUND**

Narrator (deep foreboding): Sunday night, the choice at Refueled 96 couldn’t be any clearer.   Joe Bergman…

A picture of Joe Bergman in full, bright, colorful flattering light appears on screen.

Narrator: …or Christopher America.

Followed by a grainy high contrast black and white photo of Christopher America, spotted through a telephoto lens from behind a bush or from the front seat of a car of America coming back from who knows where.

Narrator: Joe Bergman… GOOD!

Another positive photo of Bergman appears full screen of him hanging out with the Section 214 folks.  He points at the horizon for no reason whatsoever while holding a newborn baby with his other arm.

Narrator: Christopher America… BAD!

Another deeply unflattering picture of America appears next.  The expression on America’s face suggests he’s either constipated or just had a car door slammed on his hand.

Narrator: Just how bad is Christopher America?  Christopher America once bribed a high ranking HOW official into letting him win War Games.

Cut to stock footage of a ridiculous amount of money changing hands in very short order.

Narrator: Just how bad is Christopher America?

A shot from the February 28th, 2012 edition of Monday Night Mayhem fills the screen with particular emphasis on one of the signs: “AMERICA: BRINGING SLAVERY BACK SINCE 2011

A screenshot of America holding a chain attached to a collar around former HOW wrestler Carmen Jennings’s neck is shown next.

Narrator: That’s right.  Not only does Christopher America support slavery…

Christopher America voiceover from the show: Ladies and gentlemen, the new and improved Carmen Jennings has been remade into a cheerleader for the Best Alliance!

Narrator: …he believes all women should parade around in skimpy cheerleader uniforms.

VIDEO FROM THE SHOW:
Carmen’s scarlet hair has been pulled back into two ponytails, held by two black scrunchies. Black lipstick covers her bottom lip while red lipstick covers her top.

Her chest is barely held in by an almost sheer black top with the letter B on the left breast and the letter A on the right. Her lower extremities are barely being covered by black tights that are just barely thicker than underwear. In her hands are red and black pom-poms.

Narrator: Just how bad is Christopher America?  On a recent High Octane Radio broadcast, prominent HOW CEO Michael Lee Best openly said that he’s willing to give any assistance Christopher America needs to defeat Joe Bergman on Sunday night.

A film clip of a smoke-filled room plays next with people in the shadows making deals.

Narrator:  That’s right, in the spirit of many big money power brokers who game the system at the expense of everyone else, America is conspiring to tilt the battlefield in his favor this Sunday night to ensure that he wins at Refueled 96.  Would Joe Bergman get the same special dispensation if he should lose at Refueled 96?

Cut to a film clip of a group of people laughing… falling out of their chairs, peeing their pants laughing.

Narrator: Of course not.  Because that’s not how the game is played.  So, the choice is clear.   Do you support “Ordinary’ Joe Bergman? Man of the people. Someone who will fight for you?

Next, a photo of Joe Bergman saluting military veteran and fellow Highwayman Steve Solex with a large American flag waving in the background.

Narrator: Or do you support Christopher America and bribery…  slavery… sexism… and corruption.

Followed by a flurry of Kevin Dunn-style herky-jerky jump cuts, static-filled film clip of Christopher America talking in super slow motion with aggressive colors making him look like he’s someone you can’t trust.

Narrator: Haven’t we had enough of Christopher America?

Next, a film clip of Joe Bergman cracking open a PBR and leaning back in a lawn chair with the sun setting in the background and an American flag flying behind him.

Narrator: Remember this Sunday night on Refueled 96.  Christopher America- BAD!

Another unflattering picture of America appears.  This one looks like someone came up to America- yelled out HEY CHRIS! – and took his picture as he turned his head.  Then it’s superposed in front of another grainy picture of an upside-down American flag with fire consuming the picture.

Narrator: Joe Bergman… GOOD!

Cut to a scene where Joe is grilling out with Highwaymen Steve Solex, Steve Harrison, and Clay Byrd and the Section 214 group outside an arena with a plethora of American flags waving in the background.

Narrator: Endorsed by Section 214

The section 214 folks all raise a can of PBR and shout.

Section 214: YAYYYYYYYY!

Narrator: American eagles.

An American eagle lands on Solex’s shoulder just as Bergman hands Steve a PBR and spreads its regal wings outwards in a patriotic display.

Narrator: And Lindsay Troy.

Cut to Lindsay Troy sitting at her desk in her office at PRIME.

Lindsay Troy: Fuck Christopher America.

Narrator: The choice is clear.  Support Joe Bergman this Sunday night on Refueled 96.  The fate of our country depends on it.

Bergman hands Harrison a platter of burgers, brats, and steaks and then turns to the camera and smiles.

Joe Bergman: My name is Joe Bergman and I approve this message.

* * *

Here’s the Story
For those of you who don’t know my story, here’s the Reader’s Digest version.

I’m a two-time World Champion… the first HOW World champion… the first TWO-time champion of the Refueled era- and a Tag Team Champion as well.

After losing the tag belts at War Games 2020, I became ill and heart surgery in mid-2020 caused my career to come to a screeching halt.  Let’s say it’s been a hot minute since Joe Bergman wrestled a competitive match here in HOW

Oh sure, I came back for a one-off return after things went off the rails between Steve Solex and myself.  I wrestled Solex at ICONIC 2020 in a match I probably shouldn’t have been wrestling in the first place four months post-heart surgery.  Thanks to the assistance and timely intervention of Section 214, I managed to win the match.  Then I drifted back into retirement and settled into a new passion- training the next generation of pro wrestlers out at my barn outside of St. Louis.

All was well.  My wife Laura Bergman- the Chief Business Officer of Missouri Valley Wrestling- was making good money at MVW and to be clear I was making okay money working as a trainer as well.  The world thought Joe Bergman was happily retired and… yeah, I was.   I didn’t really give any thought about returning to the ring even though deep down in my heart I held on to a faint hope that circumstances would somehow conspire to make a return to wrestling possible.

Then I started having dreams… I think last August… the same dream over and over about Joe Bergman going into battle and fighting a losing war against the ‘machine.’

Okay.  The truth be told, I’d also began to train a little bit under the radar out of Laura’s sight with an eye on potentially restarting my career if circumstances somehow fell the right way.  Why under the radar?  Wrestling at ICONIC in 2020 put a major strain on Laura, myself, and our marriage.

Laura was… is… and remains one hundred percent… one thousand percent… dead set against me ever wrestling a competitive match ever again.

But the dreams continued and finally, I got up the nerve up to pitch a scenario to Laura in which I would be able to restart my wrestling career.  So on a rainy morning in August… Laura dozing and half-asleep… I spell out my plan to her.  What happened next?  Laura rolled over and gave me a firm, clear response to my proposal.

I’ll divorce you.

At first, I thought the remark is made partly in jest…  because Laura and I do that with each other.  However, when I set an appointment up with a heart doctor, I find out just how much of a joke it’s not.  She was not pleased.

Then the doctor seemingly gave his blessing to me returning to the ring and restarting my career and the shit totally hits the fan.

The day after the appointment, Laura sat me down at the kitchen table and gave me an ultimatum: it was her or his pro wrestling career.  When I asked why, she stated concerns about my health and the potential of what could happen to me.  Laura adamantly said she did not want me to return to pro wrestling because she didn’t want to watch me kill myself in the ring.

Then an epic argument followed and we didn’t talk for nearly a week.

I chose to restart my wrestling career.

Laura moved out in October to an apartment in St. Louis close to MVW headquarters.

She filed for divorce in late October.  It’s still pending.

And here we are.

Joe versus The Machine
So with all that in mind, here I am again in 2022.   Back in High Octane Wrestling.  It’s been a year and a half since I last competed inside a HOW ring and it seems a lot longer than that.

The lay of the land though is incredibly familiar.

Joe Bergman.  The decided underdog.  Odds stacked against me once again.  Going up against HOW Hall of Fame wrestler Christopher America.  The ‘boys’ versus the ‘board.’  Man of the people versus the full corporate might and power of a group who will do anything and everything to make sure Christopher America wins on Sunday night.

Much to no one’s surprise, the conventional wisdom clearly will be America will be the favorite to win the match.

So Joe Bergman walks into the ring on Sunday night in Orlando, Florida with absolutely nothing to lose here.  Besides Clay Byrd, Steve Harrison, and Steve Solex, who one expects me to defeat Christopher America at Refueled 96?

No one.

That’s okay because I’m used to that.  You see, Joe Bergman was the HOW world champion twice.  The first title win they tried to write off as a fluke as a result of a World Title tournament where strange things could happen.  The second title win came as quite the surprise to the machine.  You see, John Sektor made the monumentally arrogant mistake to completely disregard me and he paid a dear price for that when through the power of dogged determination and a little halitosis (wink… wink) I walked away with the HOW world title belt.

That night, Dan Ryan immediately challenged me for the title.  Of course, I accepted.   He deserved the title match and what a match that could have been at Rumble at the Rock.  Murder Daddy Dan Ryan versus me- the ultimate underdog… again bucking the long odds.  Sure, I was probably going to lose but still, that’s a great wrestling match, right?

Well no… the machine had other thoughts.  Mr. Cecilworth Farthington was added to the match to make it a three-way Infirmary match.  The mountain I was going to have to overcome to begin with to retain the title became literally impossible overnight to even imagine traversing.  Not unlike big corporations using their size, their power, and their money to drive small businesses and mom and pop operations out of existence, the machine rigged the game and made damn sure I had no chance of leaving Alcatraz with the belt.  I was the World Champion in a World title match and a complete afterthought.

You think I’ve forgotten about that?

Nope.

That brings me to you, Christopher America.

There’s no even playing field here.  Christopher America has the full corporate support of the ‘Board’ and the referee for the match is going to ‘board certified’ Rick Stevens.   Let’s not kid ourselves here.  Corporate machine makes their own rules and they don’t apply to ordinary people like Joe Bergman.  The Board wants America in the War Games match.  So if… IF… Joe Bergman somehow finds a way to win on Sunday night.. someway… somehow… Christopher America will be in the War Games match in June.

Now THAT’S a High Octane Gambling bet that’s a sure winner.

No matter, on Sunday night I can promise you that Joe Bergman will fight the good fight just like everyone does on a daily basis against the epitome of a cold, soulless, corporate machine.

You don’t need to be ‘board certified’ to know that ‘Ordinary’ Joe Bergman is not a corporate brand; ‘Ordinary’ Joe Bergman is who I am.  You are the board’s newest corporate champion- brought back from the ranks of the retired for War Games like Captain Freedom being dragged out of catering in the movie The Running Man to take on Arnold Schwarzenegger after he’s wiped out all of the other stalkers.   I mean, your hair style is kind of similar to Jesse Ventura’s at the time but I don’t imagine you’d be shouting into a camera “ARE YOU READY FOR PAIN?” with a bunch of women dressed in 80’s style workout outfits behind him.

But at least Captain Freedom had some principles.  He refuses to do the evil corporation’s bidding in the end.

You on the other hand, are more than happy to take the paycheck.

This is not just a contest between you and me. This is a contest between two opposing sides.  The board- of which you represent.  The Highwaymen… the ‘boys’- of whom I represent.

I stand up tonight in defense of a cause as virtuous as the cause of liberty- ordinary people who live everyday lives and play the game by the rules.  They get up… go to work… do the best they can… and find themselves on the losing end of a system that benefits the people who play by a totally different set of rules at their expense.  To quote William Jennings Bryan: “We do not come as aggressors. Our war is not a war of conquest. We are fighting in the defense of our homes, our families, and posterity. We have petitioned, and our petitions have been scorned. We have entreated, and our entreaties have been disregarded. We have begged, and they have mocked when our calamity came.

We beg no longer; we entreat no more; we petition no more. We defy them!”

The Highwaymen defy the ‘Board.’

And on Sunday at Refueled 96, ‘board certified referee’ or not, Christopher America- not only will I defy you… not only will I defy the odds… not only will I defy the conventional wisdom… not only will I not be an afterthought… Joe Bergman is going to win this match and I will be going on to War Games.

SCENE: A Political Debate
There’s a moderator seated behind a small table.  He’s located between two podiums up on a stage- a red one on the right; a blue one on the left, both occupied by a political candidate, in front of a red, white, and blue background.

Moderator: Thank you both for being here tonight.  This has been a very informative and educational evening.  Before we proceed to the final closing remarks, let’s thank both candidates for their participation in tonight’s debate.  Let’s give them a hand.

Like trained seals on cue, the audience applauds the efforts of both candidates because… well, it’s what they’re supposed to do according to the machine known as Corporate America.

Moderator: And now, it’s time for our closing remarks.

The spotlight shines down on the candidate behind the red podium.

Candidate: Thank you…

He turns from the moderator and looks out into the audience.

Candidate: …and thank you-

The opening bars of the Hollywood Vampires cover of David Bowie’s classic song ‘Heroes’ plays over the Best Arena sound system.  Tommy Hendrikson’s chugging guitar, Chris Wyse’s bass holding down the fort, Glen Sobel pounding drumbeat, and Joe Perry’s guitar licks sear through the air drowning out the moderator’s voice.

“I.   I will be king.”

As Johnny Depp’s vocals echoes throughout the arena, the moderator looks up… looks around… and then looks towards the back where he notices there’s a commotion in the back of the theater.  He tries to say something but the music is just too loud for him to be heard.

A spotlight focuses on a spot at the back of the theater.  The light shows a silhouette of a lone figure amongst the people in the section.

The shadow steps out into the light. It’s… Joe Bergman.

Joe holds up a steel-folding chair in a defiant one-handed gesture and wields a portable microphone in the other.

Moderator (mumbling to himself): What the f-…

Joe signals for the music to be cut.

The music disappears and Joe speaks to the members of the audience who also happen to be members of the machine… the big shots, influence peddlers, political hacks, Hollywood-types, and partisans in the stunned audience.

Joe Bergman: Hey.  Sorry to crash your party here.

Yeah, no he’s not.

Moderator: Who do you think you are?  You don’t belong here!

Joe Bergman: My name is ‘Ordinary Joe Bergman and I’m here to tell you that I do belong here.  I am not a corporate brand.  I am not part of a cold, soulless, corporate machine designed to impress their will on the people.  I am not a number.  I am someone… an ordinary man fighting for ordinary people.

There’s a buzz in the crowd who can’t understand how the interloper made it inside the building through the heavy security designed to keep the unwashed masses from gaining entrance.

A fact not lost on the moderator who seems a little concerned by what’s happening.  He keeps looking off to the side for security personnel.

Joe Bergman: Speaking of the people… I brought a few friends with me tonight.  Usually, we are forced to stand to the side while symbols of power march by.  But tonight, we’re waving our banner whether you like it or not.

A woman steps out waving a red, white, and blue flag with ‘SECTION 214” lettered on it.

She’s followed by a sizable group of people who walk out one by one… all singing…

Section 214 (singing):
Do you hear the people sing
Singing a song of angry men
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slave again

The political elites in the crowd and on the stage cover their ears.  They are angry at this rabble who dare to speak up and be heard.

Section 214 (singing):
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drum
There is a life to start
When tomorrow comes.

Joe leads the procession down the steps.

Moderator: SECURITY!  SECURITY!

Joe Bergman (singing):
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?

Moderator: SOMEONE STOP THEM!

At that moment, a large group of people rise up from their seats.

Section 214 (singing):
Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!

Consisting of Corporate America, political operatives, big money political supporters of all stripes, a few celebrities, a couple right-wing radio talk show hosts, a few left-wing television show hosts, and possibly quite a few Congressmen, the group converge on the floor and confront Bergman and his merry brigade.

Bergman and Section 214 (singing):
Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

The music stops.

Both sides eye each other.

Joe and Section 214 hold their resolve.

The other side try to intimidate the rabble standing before them and force them to stand down.

Joe rolls his eyes.

They don’t.

This goes on for a couple minutes.  Then the voices ring out…

“So whatcha going to do now?”

“You can’t fight City Hall.”

“You can’t fight Corporate America.”

“You can’t fight the machine.”

“You can NOT fight the machine.”

“You can’t tell the machine what to do.”

“The machine tells YOU what to do!”

“The machine doesn’t serve you.”

“You serve the machine!” 

“So whatcha going to do?”

“You take out one; several others take their place.”

“RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!”

Joe and Section 214 are surrounded and outnumbered.  What can they do?

Do Joe and Section 214 capitulate?

Or do they fight?

Joe looks back at Section 214.  They look to him.

This is the moment of truth.

Will they hold their resolve?

Can they find the strength and backbone to fight what may be an unwinnable fight?

Joe takes a deep breath and realizes the task that’s before him.

There’s no turning back now.

Joe takes one last look back at Section 214.

Then he raises the steel folding chair and blasts the closest person on the other side over the head with it.

It’s on.

Section 214 rush forward en masse behind Bergman.

The Corporate America forces also charge forward and they meet in a cataclysmic explosion of violence.

Can Joe Bergman and Section 214 defeat the machine of Corporate America?

Or will the machine of Corporate America grind up the man of the people and spit him out.

Sunday night on Refueled 96… we’ll find out the answer.