No Apologies

No Apologies

Posted on May 28, 2020 at 10:10 pm by Joe Bergman

Missouri Valley Wrestling Headquarters
St. Louis, Missouri
Wednesday May 27th

It’s big press conference day.

The occasion.  MVW’s upcoming pay per view show at the end of June entitled ‘Wrestling Night in America.’

Sitting behind a long rectangular table, MVW’s Chief Business Officer Laura Bergman leans forward with her hands propping up her head.  She’s clearly fatigued after being peppered with questions from dirt sheet reporters, wrestling columnists, and other media on hand inside a small press room inside MVW’s headquarters.

MVW CEO and majority owner Ray McAvay- known in High Octane Wrestling circles as a former LSD, two-time ICON, and former World Champion (for thirteen days), sits to her left.  McAvay doesn’t let his newfound status of majority owner of MVW go to his head.  He still sports the usual Hawaiian print shirt that became his trademark in HOW.

To Laura’s right, her husband and current HOW wrestler Joe Bergman.  Joe sits quietly, still sore and recovering from his encounter with one Chris Kostoff over the weekend, sporting the HOW official PBR t-shirt.  He leans back in his chair with his arms crossed as his wife and McAvay explain what’s going to happen at the PPV show.

“Are there any more questions?” McAvay asks.  He does a cursory time check on his watch.  McAvay’s wife Stacee Perry aka Dark aka one half of West Texas Adult Entertainment Legends Dark and Stormy wait for him backstage with McAvay’s 4 year old twin children R.K. and Gracie from his marriage to Dawn McGill.

“Yeah,” pipes up someone.  The reporter stands up.  “Mitch ‘The Duece’ Deusner from the Wrestling World.  This has nothing to do with Missouri Valley Wrestling Mrs. Bergman but since your husband is here with you today,” Deusner turns to Joe Bergman.  “I’d like to know after the big meeting you all had Saturday night on Refueled Twenty-Seven what the state of the relationship is with your co-HOW Tag Team Champion Andy Murray?”

Joe closes his eyes and somewhere in the deep dark recesses of his mind curses Deusner a blue streak.  But, being the professional that he is and the good guy who’s always willing to answer a question no matter how inane it may be, Joe leans forward and borrows his wife’s microphone (he wasn’t expecting to have to talk) to address the question.

“Hi,” Joe says, mustering up as much positivity that he can conjure up at a second’s notice without it drifting into sarcasm.  “Great question.  Thank you Mitch.  Good to see you again.  Answering your question, the state of the relationship between Andy Murray and myself is there is no relationship between us.  We are the HOW Tag Team Champions.  We will have to wrestle together at War Games to defend the tag titles.  And that’s where it ends.”

Deusner has a follow up question.  This one gets directed towards Laura.

“Laura, just curious, upon further reflection was it a mistake for you to send Dawn McGill to the meeting?”

Laura takes the microphone back from her husband and exhales.  Then she speaks clearly with no equivocation whatsoever into the microphone.

“No.”

The Deuce almost seems surprised at her answer.  “No?”  Deusner jots a few things down on his notepad.

“I think I was pretty clear on my answer Mitch.  No.”  Laura hopes her response settles the issue . . .

“Why?” the reporter persists.

. . . but it doesn’t.  Laura’s eyes blinks in rapid succession back at Duesner and her level of annoyance grows exponentially by the second.

“Because Mitch, I couldn’t be there,” she tells The Deuce in a curt, matter of fact tone.

Deusner mouths ‘okay’ and stands down.  But that wouldn’t be the end of it.

Because once the first question about the subject gets asked, the pack mentality kicks in and the topic of conversation changes.  Another reporter stands up and he’s just itching to explore the subject further.

“Mrs. Bergman, Jason Whatley, ‘You Know I’m Right’ wrestling blog.  I’m sure you’ve heard of me.”

Laura just gives him an ‘I have no idea who you are look.’

McAvay remembers Jason Whatley though.

Let’s go back in time to August of 2015.

McAvay had just lost the LSD title to Max Kael in a hard fought match where both ended up going to the hospital afterwards.  Whatley had the cojones to come up to McAvay on the stretcher with Dawn McGill right there and taunt him with ‘What happened to ‘I can beat Max?’  Whatley then told McAvay he didn’t belong in the mid-card much less wrestling for a title at a pay per view show and couldn’t win a match without ‘mommy McGill coming to your rescue.’

Then Dawn finally had enough of listening to him and unleashed a beautiful right hand lead that landed at the peak of Whatley’s nose.  A sickening ‘crack’ echoed through the backstage area and then blood began to stream out in several different directions.

Back in the present, McAvay smiles at Whatley from behind the table as the extremely pleasant memory wafts in his brain.

“In retrospect didn’t Miss McGill with her snarky, disrespectful comments and attitude towards one of the legends in professional wrestling actually make the situation even worse?” Whatley inquires.

Again, Laura’s voice is drenched in curtness in her response.

“No.”

Whatley presses on.  “It seemed the sole intent of Dawn McGill being at the meeting was to deliberately attempt to provoke and belittle Andy Murray-“

Laura cuts him off.

“Did you even watch the show?” she asks, gritting her teeth and fighting the urge the chuck the microphone at Whatley because she’s into her fourth month of pregnancy and has zero tolerance for fuckery of any sort.

“Yes.”

“Then I guess you must have missed the part in the statement Dawn read . . . “ Laura puts a particularly HARSH emphasis on her next three words.  “. . . ***ON MY BEHALF*** that stated Mario Maurako’s heart was in the right place but he was just making an already touchy situation even worse.  Did you hear that?”

Whatley tries to respond, “I heard that but-“

But Laura again cuts him off cold and fires off the next salvo.

“And I guess you also must of also missed the part where Dawn McGill said, again – ON MY BEHALF – that the only thing Joe Bergman expects from Andy Murray is to act in a professional manner when they defend the tag team title at War Games.”  Laura now glares at Whatley with enough heat coming out of her eyes that the poor guy begins to wilt in his seat.  “Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Did you not hear that?”

To everyone in the room’s surprise, Whatley vaporlocks in his chair and just sits there.  The blogger’s mouth is stuck open and he struggles to formulate an adequate answer.

“Or were you were just too busy gazing at Dawn’s tits to notice?” Laura snaps at him, delivering the killshot that causes the blogger to slide down off his chair just to get out of her line of sight.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!

A third reporter speaks up.

“Can I ask why couldn’t and didn’t Joe speak for himself?”

Laura starts to rise up out of the chair.

“Okay.  Time out a second,” Joe says, putting a hand on her arm and guiding her back down to her seat.  “I’ll answer that.”

==

Let’s get one thing straight here.  Laura and I are a team.  We are a true team.  I trust her advice.  Did I necessarily agree with her on this one?  No, not in particular.  She gave me her advice to me about having representation at the meeting last Saturday night, I agreed to it.  Why?  Because I trust her implicitly.  Laura is not only my wife, she’s also my business manager and handles everything on the business side of my career.  She is my partner.   Once she suggested Dawn McGill, I went along with it.  Dawn knows HOW inside and out.  Plus, I knew she’s very good with a microphone and would be a good person to speak for me at the meeting because quite frankly, I’m personally sick and tired of talking about Andy Murray.   

Here’s the thing people, I also know Laura has my back no matter what and I know she’ll go to war on my behalf if she thinks that’s what needs to be done.  I’ve been married to this woman for twelve years.  For twelve years, Laura and I have been on this journey together.  She’s supported my wrestling career from the very beginning.   You see, after Laura graduated from college with a business degree, she ended up being the primary breadwinner in our family and paid all the bills and kept us afloat financially while I was knocking around PCW and the lower levels of the independent wrestling scene for almost ten years.  Then in 2017, I got my big break at Missouri Valley Wrestling and my career took off.  Now I’m at High Octane Wrestling and the fruits of my labor over the years, and Laura’s, are paying off.  You see, while we lived off her income, every single penny I made in pro wrestling from 2008 to now has been put in our savings.  The money I made at MVW- savings.  The money I’m making now at High Octane Wrestling- savings.  Do you want to know a secret?  The property in Missouri, the house, the three car garage, and the pole-barn we just built was all paid for in cash because this woman knows what the hell she’s doing when it comes to money and managing my career.

Oh, before someone says I’m comparing our financial situation with Andy Murray’s, I’m not.  Quite frankly, I don’t know what Andy Murray’s financial situation is and I don’t want to know because it’s none of my damn business.  The point I’m making is Laura and I are a true team.  So if she says Dawn McGill is going with me to a potentially contentious meeting because she feels I would be served having some sort of representation there to support me, I am not going to question her judgment. 

Why?  Because she knows what the hell she’s doing.  Our merch sales have gone through the roof and here’s another hint- whatever I make on those ALSO goes right into our savings.  I will often stay an hour, sometimes an hour and a half after the show to sign stuff, pose for pictures, and just spend a few minutes with the fans. 

Again, you take care of your fans, they will take care of you- and they have.

And because I trust Laura’s judgment and because I am absolutely done talking about Andy Murray, my focus is where I need it to be- on my upcoming match Saturday night against Zeb Martin.  Big match this week against a guy who’s small town just like me.  Both of us jockeying for position in the single’s rankings.  Both of us aiming to crack the top ten.  And for me, a chance to keep the momentum going after a really tough win last week over Chris Kostoff.

Zeb, I thought when you came that you might be a good fit for a tag team or for PBR.  But unfortunately, the eGG Bandits lured and brought you in hook, line, and sinker into their fold. 

Bummer.

You’ve gotten off to a pretty good start in your HOW career.  The Bandits are one of the three teams who’ll be challenging us for the HOW Tag Team titles at War Games.  So, suffice to say, I won’t be overlooking you Saturday night because you are good inside the ring. 

I’ll be looking to win Saturday night because I’m trying to get my mojo in gear for War Games.   I heard about Benny’s rant after Kostoff reinjured his arm last week where he said I’ll never be on the same elite level of Mike Best, Dan Ryan, Andy Murray, or Cecilworth Farthington because apparently I’m too much of a nice guy to do the things that – and I quote – ‘need to be done.’

My response?

Guilty. 

Guilty as charged.

I took on the Chris Kostoff challenge with open eyes.  Broken arm or no broken arm, I knew Kostoff would be a tough win- a win I wanted just to shut a few people up who see Joe Bergman as an one note novelty act who lucked into being one half of the tag team champions.  But I said last week before the match that I wasn’t going to go in there with the intention of hurting Chris Kostoff and I wasn’t going to go in there with the intention of embarrassing Chris Kostoff.  I did exactly what I said I was going to do.   I said I was going to get him in a position to put him to sleep and that’s what I did. 

So, sorry Benny that it somehow offends you but that’s just the way I am and I’m not going to change for anyone.  It may not be fashionable, particularly in these circles, but so be it.  Joe Bergman is about winning matches.  Joe Bergman is not about deliberately hurting people.  This Saturday night at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois, I’m looking to get another win Saturday night over Zeb Martin – not to prove that I’m a better wrestler than he is but because this is what wrestling is all about- competition. My job is to go out there and try to win matches while entertaining the people.  Period.  

And I will not back down or apologize for doing that.     

==

Missouri Valley Wrestling Headquarters
St. Louis, Missouri
Wednesday May 27th

Later on in the press conference, following fifteen minutes that could be best described as a maelstrom stuck inside a hurricane where reporters tried to get under Laura’s skin, tried to gin up more trouble between Joe Bergman and Andy Murray and tried to create a story or narrative that would guarantee them clicks on their dirt sheet websites.

Joe and Laura parries them like two expert fencers.  Both turn and glance at each other as if to say this is just about over.

But then he stands up and turns to the HOTv camera that’s located right behind him.

“This is Brian Bare of High Octane Wrestling with another special investigative report,” Bare says in the most serious voice he can muster while patting his perfect hair with his free hand.

“Who are you again?” Laura demands to know.

Almost offended, Bare responds slowly and clearly.  “Brian Bare.  High Octane Wrestling.  Special Investigative Reporter.”

“Who the hell let him in here?” She glances at her husband.  “Who the hell is he again?”

“Brian Bare from High Octane Wrestling,” Joe replies with all the wooden, laconic fervor of a guy calling Jake from State Farm at three in the morning.

“Oh?” Laura puts him on the spot.  “What are you wearing Brian Bare from High Octane Wrestling?”

Brian’s got completely with his pants down – not literally thank God – but he certainly wasn’t expecting that question.

“Um . . . khakis?”

Bare is correct for the record.  But Laura’s not impressed.

“He sounds hideous,” she comments to her husband.

“Well, he’s a guy,” Joe cracks, trying to lighten the moment, “who’s generally a pretty hideous person.”

Brian’s had enough of this.  “All right, dude runs around High Octane Wrestling as if he’s the second coming of Mother Teresa.  He’s the ‘man of the people’ and acts all goody goody no matter what.”

“And what’s the problem with that?” Laura asks.

“What’s the problem with that?” Bare repeats back to her.   “I’ll tell you what the problem is.  That just doesn’t happen in HOW.  Well, at least since Evan Ward left the company.”

Laura leans in to Joe.  “Evan Ward?”

“The last true ‘face’ in HOW before I came along,” Joe explains to her.

“Oh.”  Laura shakes her head, irritated with the sudden appearance of Brian Bare at what’s supposed to be a press conference for MVW.  “Do you have a point to this?” she questions Bare pointedly.

“There’s a story here and secrets you and him are hiding and I’m gonna find it dammit,” Brian proclaims for everyone to hear.  “I’m going to get down to the bottom of this.”

Again, Laura turns to her husband and whispers in his ear.  “What is he going on about?”

Joe covers his mouth with his hand and answers Laura.  “He thinks it’s all just one big act.”

“Oh.  Okay.”

At this point, Laura’s had her fill of Brian Bare and anyone else who’s not there to discuss the MVW pay per view show for one night.

“Get him out of here,” she calls out to security and MVW’s security force begin to stream into the tiny press room.

“Hold on dear,” Joe overrules her and then puts his hand up to stop security.  “Hang on a second guys.”

“Joe?”

Joe reassures her, “I’ve got this.”

Laura harrumphs and sits back in her chair.

“You still think this is all an act, don’t you Brian?” Joe asks Bare.

“Yes.”  Brian’s pencil is in place and eagerly awaiting some sort of salacious revelation from Joe.

“Well, I hate to burst your bubble,” Joe starts to let him down, “but it’s not an act.”

“Like hell it is,” Bare retorts back.  “People just don’t act like that in the real world.”

“Really?  How do you know?”  Joe shakes his head.  “It must be nice to be in your world.  I mean, you’ve got no real responsibilities.  You’ve got no family to support.  All you worry about is showing up every Saturday for the show, partying, buying your next bottle of Jack, and getting laid.”

Some of the people in the audience begin to squirm uncomfortably.

“With all due respect Brian, I really could quite frankly care less what you do outside of HOW.  It’s none of my business what you do as long as it doesn’t directly affect me.  It’s not my job to judge what you do in your life- I’ve got enough things on my plate as it is already and I’m not a perfect person either by any stretch of the imagination.  How about you go do you and you let me be me, okay?”

Joe pauses to see if Brian has a response.

He doesn’t.

“Okay then.”

And with that the press conference mercifully comes to an end.

==

With all due respect, I am who I am and I’m sure as hell not going to apologize to Brian, to Benny, to anyone else for being who I am.  My job is professional wrestler.  It’s something that I’ve actually become pretty good at in the past three years. 

And another thing, yes I ‘wrestle for the people.’  But do you know who else I wrestle for?  I wrestle for all the ones who didn’t get the golden ticket to the big time that I got.  The Charlie Blackwell’s, the ‘No Frills’ Chris Escondidos, the ‘Not Just Unbearable . . . Not Just Intolerable . . . He is’ Justin Sufferables, the Triple R’s, and the ‘Redneck’ Bill Dickinsons of the wrestling industry- wrestlers who toil at the lower end of the pyramid working their asses off week in and week out trying to earn themselves the same shot that I got over a year ago.  Do you know what I brought the ‘Extreme Pizza Delivery Girl’ Tessa Martin to Chicago earlier this year to wrestle a dark match with me?  Because, it’s the only opportunity she’ll ever had to wrestle in this type of setting.  The same with the Bookworms and Rah too.

I got lucky.  I count my blessings each and every day that Dawn and Ray both put in a good word for me and Lee Best saw enough to bring me into HOW.  Because for every Joe Bergman there’s thousands of Charlie Blackwells, Chris Escondidos, Justin Sufferables, Bill Dickinsons, and Tessa Martins who will never get to experience the things I’ve been fortunate to be able to experience here in HOW.   To Charlie and Chris and Justin and Bill and Tess and countless others too numerous to list, I am the guy who made it to the big show and dammit, every time I step into the ring, you’re going to get my level best because to do anything less than that would be an insult to them.

Laura and Ray appreciate the kind words about MVW, Zeb.  Yes.  There’s a lot of love being put into what they do and even though MVW is a regional promotion and bills itself as bringing minor league wrestling to the Heartland, there’s a lot of good things happening there.  While I only work with the youngsters and talent enhancement one or two times a week, I can tell you for certain that I do get a ton of fulfillment helping the next batch of wrestlers get their start, learn the basics, learn the craft, and, most of all, figure out where they want to go and want to be in the big bad wrestling world.

Completely understand about the Bandits having designs on the Tag Titles because as I’ve said before and will continue to say- titles matter.  I would be disappointed if the Bandits or the Bruvs/24K weren’t scheming of ways to leave War Games as the new Tag Team champions.  Being a champion means everything and that being said, I can promise you that I will put everything I’ve got into the tag title match because there’s nothing I would love more than to walk out of War Games still one half of the HOW Tag Team champions. 

But I hope the Bandits bring it at War Games.  I hope the Bruvs bring it at War Games.  I hope the final team selected to be in the match brings it at War Games.

More so Zeb, I hope you bring it Saturday night and you and I go out there and tear the house down for the fans.  That to me is what the best of pro wrestling is all about, two contestants putting everything they’ve got into the match and putting on a show for the people who pay good money to come see us perform.  Man versus man.  Wrestler versus wrestler.  Style versus style.  Heart versus heart.   And may the best man win.   

So in closing, good luck Saturday night.  Win or lose, I will absolutely shake your hand after the match and the beer’s on me afterwards- both of which will probably make Benny go completely apoplectic.