Posted by Christopher America
The Bergman Residence
Monday April 27th, 2020
“I can’t imagine anyone from 24K sitting on top of this ladder and talking to you all here tonight.”
Inside the brand new pole barn erected in the back of Joe and Laura Bergman’s rural acre of land, Joe and Laura been busy over the past week decorating the walls after movers finished up the process of storing much of the couple’s belongings and setting up a wrestling ring inside.
There’s a black and #97 red High Octane Wrestling banner strung up prominently on the far wall of the barn. There’s also a plain white and black Missouri Valley Wrestling banner situated on the other side. Sprinkled in are various photos from Joe’s fourteen year wrestling career from the early days at PCW (as Halitosis) to his two year run at MVW (as Halitosis) and his HOW career (Halitosis/Joe Bergman) adorning the freshly painted bright white walls of the barn.
The camera zooms in on a series of framed photos on the wall.
Picture one: Referee Matt Boettcher handing Halitosis the HOW World Title belt after defeating Brian Hollywood.
Picture two: Halitosis taking the microphone from former HOW ring announcer Zack Taylor the night he won the belt for a second time after defeating John Sektor.
Picture three: Halitosis and Rah being presented with the title belts after winning the MVW Tag Team Title in 2017 with Dawn McGill as their manager.
Picture four: Halitosis and Rah with manager Regina McGill after winning the MVW Tag Team Title in 2019.
Finally, the camera focuses in on a blank space on the wall. Presumably, this will be the future location of a picture commemorating Joe Bergman’s latest title win at the Lethal Lottery.
Turning back to the ring, the camera shows Joe Bergman perched high up on top of a ladder in the middle of the squared circle- HOW Tag Team title belt slung over his shoulder. Below him, thirty young men and women, up and coming wrestlers and enhancement talent for Missouri Valley Wrestling – wrestlers of whom Joe mentors and works with a couple days a week – all congregate around the ladder to listen to what one-half of the new HOW Tag Team Champions has to say.
Joe Bergman: I have a confession to make to all of you. I almost didn’t throw my name in the hat for the Lethal Lottery.
Huh? Other assorted murmuring fills up the barn.
Joe Bergman: Yeah. PBR was coming off a nice win the week before over the eGG Bandits and I seriously considered just taking the week off and staying home to celebrate a nice win and rest up. But something in the back of my mind told me to put my name in there so I threw my name in. Thomas Edison reportedly once said that ninety percent of success in business is perspiration. There’s also the old adage that eighty percent of success is just showing up. Whatever it was, the rest is history. My name was called for the tag team match along with Andy Murray. And we defeated Mikey Unlikely and Jesse Kendrix to win the High Octane Wrestling Tag Team Title.
Bergman’s interrupted as the wrestlers applaud and whistle their congratulations.
Joe Bergman: It just proves that if you show up every day and work your ass off, you can make good things happen for you.
Joe scans the faces of the various fledgling wrestlers in the ring- all of them young and eager to learn – all of them trying to gain valuable experience – all of them trying get their careers going.
Joe Bergman: But the most important part is just showing up. Once you’re there, you have to be patient. Put your head down and do the work. Build your career step by step by step like the contractors who are building our house. Start with a firm foundation and start building on it piece by piece, one by one, until you have a finished product. Do the same with your wrestling careers. Get your basics down. Learn your craft. Build your skill set piece by piece. Work hard – prepare for anything and everything – learn from your mistakes.
The youngsters soak in all the information that Joe delivers to them like a sponge taking in water.
Joe Bergman: But most of all, just show up. Folks, you don’t luck into success. Lee Best just didn’t hand me this title belt. He just gave me the opportunity. He opened the door- I just had to walk through it. You make your own luck. You go out there and make yourself a star. It won’t happen overnight. At times along the path, you’re going to fail. But when that happens, you get right back on your feet. You keep that chip on your shoulder and don’t let it weigh you down. Whenever you get knocked down to the ground, you get your ass right back up and get right back to it.
The wrestlers talk among themselves for a brief few seconds before Joe continues.
Joe Bergman: That’s what happened the other weekend. I chose to show up. I chose to put the work in. And because I chose to be there, I was fortunate to be drawn into the tag team title match. And because I was drawn into the match, here I am, sitting before all of you here tonight as one half of the HOW Tag Team Champions.
Joe holds up the title belt and nods his head. Then he places it back over his shoulder.
Joe Bergman: This wasn’t the way I envisioned winning the tag team title and trust me, I don’t think anyone foresaw this scenario coming to pass. But this was the Lethal Lottery and in the Lethal Lottery anything – and I do mean ANYTHING – was possible. It’s ironic that in a tag division that’s as loaded as the rest of the HOW is these days, a tag division that has the Group of Death, the Hollywood Bruvs, 24K, High Flyer and MJ Flair, Turn-It-Up-Express, PBR, and the eGG Bandits, it’s two mixed and matched wrestlers who now hold the gold. Joe Bergman.
A cheer rises up from the wrestlers.
Joe Bergman: Andy Murray.
Joe tries to quiet them down.
Joe Bergman: Come on guys, let’s not do that. Look, I know what you’re thinking. Wait. You’re with PBR. He’s with 24K. How the hell is this going to work?
Joe Bergman: I don’t know. But I do know this much. As long as Andy Murray and Joe Bergman are the champions, it’s going to have to work. Why? Because titles matter.
Joe pauses and lets it sink in for a few seconds.
Joe Bergman: Winning titles is the ultimate goal of anyone who steps into this ring and if it’s not it damn well should be. If you aspire to be the best wrestler you can be no matter what your talent level is, winning titles is always the gold lurking at the end of the rainbow. Winning the High Octane Wrestling Tag Team Title matters–
Crosby and Nash’s, “To the Last Whale: (A. Critical Mass/ B. Wind on the Water)” blares over the loudspeakers inside the barn, rudely interrupting Joe Bergman’s talk with the youngsters.
The song opens with a full minute and a half of abstract acapella tones. The wrestlers in the ring wonder what the hell is with the music.
They’d find out soon enough after another minute of somber keyboard strikes and overlaid whale calls.
Male Voice: If you’ll all just shut up for a moment.
A man walks through the door to the barn. He’s got spiky green hair sticking straight up into the air that curled back down at the ends. He wears a bright green t-shirt with the letters ‘GWO- Green World Order’ prominently displayed on the front of it. With the funky hair and skinny and lanky frame, the man resembles a six foot tall piece of broccoli.
Male Voice: My name is Brock Cole Lee. You can call me the Vengeful Vegan. And I’m here to let you know one thing. It’s time for a new force to emerge. It’s time for someone to come in and take over. It’s time for us- the GREEN… WORLD…ORDER!
Everyone Else: BOOOOOOOOOO!
The Green World Order are an old school PCW faction with the gimmick of social activists aiming to ‘change everything’ by taking control of whatever company they happen to be working in at the time. The GWO has been around since 2005 and still occasionally pop up every so often in the independent wrestling scene.
To HOW fans, the Green World Order are known for their one infamous appearance nearly five years ago on the May 8th, 2015 edition of Friday Night Chaos. The GWO attempted to ‘invade’ HOW- back at a time where feds were supposedly ‘invading’ other feds.
After the GWO hijacked the ring, Dawn McGill raced down to the ring and proceeded to crotch Brock Cole Lee on the top rope, smack him in the face with a steel folding chair, and sent him reeling to the floor. Then she stopped GreenPete in his tracks with the Testicular Claw and followed up with two steel chairshots leaving him in a crumpled heap in the corner, scared poor PeaceNick to the point where he soiled himself and fainted, and finished up by taking out Peta from PETA with a dropkick into a chair while stuck in the Tree of Woe.
Tonight in 2020, Lee struts back and forth outside the ring like a green peacock displaying his feathers and ignores the heaping portion of verbal abuse slung at him from every direction.
Brock Cole Lee: That’s right. Boo us all you want. The bottom line is . . . the Green World Order is here and WE’RE CHANGING EVERYTHING!
The wrestlers in the ring respond with a passionate round of jeers and catcalls.
Brock Cole Lee: And now, I want you all to give it up for Peta from PETA.
Everyone Else: BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Also wearing a green GWO t-shirt, Peta frowns at the rough reception.
Everyone holds their ears as Peta screeches in a high, shrill tone at the other wrestlers in a grating voice resembling Kris Statlander’s in her old ‘King’ gimmick where she would shriek at her opponent incessantly that she was ‘the King.’
Brock Cole Lee: GreenPete.
Everyone Else: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Entering the barn and looking disdainfully around at everyone, GreenPete joins the other two at ringside. GreenPete looks cool in his shades and actually appears the most normal of the group.
Brock Cole Lee: And last but not least, PeaceNick.
PeaceNick meekly took a couple tentative steps into the barn. He’s dressed in the fashion of an old sixties hippie. PeaceNick sits on the floor and chants non-violent mantras.
Lee jumps up onto the ring apron and climbs up onto the corner turnbuckle.
Brock Cole Lee: Joe Bergman.
Lee points an incriminating finger at him.
Brock Cole Lee: You have sold out!
Everyone but the GWO: GASP!
The other three GWO members point their fingers at Joe and chant.
GWO: YOU SOLD OUT! YOU SOLD OUT! YOU SOLD OUT! YOU SOLD OUT!
Bergman listens to Lee’s accusatory opening salvo and wonders how he gets his ridiculous looking green hair to stick up on the top of his head like that.
Brock Cole Lee: Our phones have been ringing off the hook since HOW’s Lethal Lottery – people are asking the Green World Order, why? Why did Joe Bergman – alleged man of the people – sell out?
GWO: YOU SOLD OUT! YOU SOLD OUT! YOU SOLD OUT! YOU SOLD OUT!
Joe just shakes his head in response.
Brock Cole Lee: You claim to wrestle for the . . .
Lee does the ‘air quotes’ thing with his hands.
Brock Cole Lee: . . . people . . .
Lee, Peta, GreenPete, and PeaceNick all laugh derisively.
Brock Cole Lee: . . . unintelligent pieces of trailer park trash that they are.
Bergman mouths ‘that’s harsh’ in return but continues to patiently listen to Lee.
Brock Cole Lee: But since you’re now a tag team champion with someone who represents 24K, the most elitist, privileged, upper class group in HOW – with someone who also refers to himself as the ‘King of Wrestling’ . . .
GreenPete: Oh how aristocratically imperialistic.
GreenPete then feigns throwing up in disgust.
Brock Cole Lee: . . . well Joe, the Green World Order can only come to one conclusion here.
Brock Cole Lee: You sold out.
Everyone but the GWO (facetiously): GASP!
GWO: YOU SOLD OUT! YOU SOLD OUT! YOU SOLD OUT! YOU SOLD OUT!
Joe lets them go for a few more seconds. Then he raises his hand to signal the group that he’d like to talk now.
Joe Bergman: You’ve come all the way here tonight to tell me that just because I’m teaming up with Andy Murray it automatically means I’m associating myself with 24K?
Lee glances at Peta and both shake their head in the affirmative.
So does GreenPete and PeaceNick.
Brock Cole Lee: Yes Joe. That’s exactly what we’re saying.
Joe starts to come down the ladder slowly, rung by rung.
Joe Bergman: Okay. You’re entitled to your opinion Brock. You’re entitled to your views. And most of all . . .
Pause for dramatic effect.
Joe Bergman: . . . you’re entitled to be wrong.
Everyone except the GWO: OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Someone also might have shouted out ‘shots fired!’
Joe Bergman: Let me point out to you that right now, a group of people – a faction – doesn’t hold the HOW Tag Team Titles. Two men hold these belts and just two men will be defending these belts on May 2nd against High Flyer and MJ Flair- Andy Murray and Joe Bergman. Not 24K. Not PBR.
The GWO all shake their heads no in disagreement with Bergman.
Joe Bergman: Regardless of the fact that he came into HOW as a part of 24K and never envisioned in a million years ever sharing the tag team title with someone like Joe Bergman, I believe as long as we are the tag champions we’ll both be professionals and go about our business to make this work the best we can- for as long as we are the tag team champions. Because we have to. For MJ Flair and High Flyer, winning the tag belts this Saturday night at Refueled would be a welcome change of fortune for what’s been a frustrating 2020 for them.
Lee tries to talk but Bergman continues on.
Joe Bergman: MJ had a particularly rough LBI and High Flyer’s LBI experience wasn’t much better. Both ended up stuck in a meat grinder of a group- the infamous Group of Death put together by Michael Lee Best and stocked with the likes of Best, Lindsay Troy, and Dan Ryan. So having to endure that four match Bataan Death March and emerging in one piece was hard enough. LT and Ryan turning on them and joining Best, Farthington, and Max Kael in the newly minted Group of Death stable had to have been a particularly bitter kick in the teeth.
Again, Lee tries to cut in. Again, Bergman ignores him.
Joe Bergman: Never, ever overlook MJ and Flyer. I know from experience just how good MJ Flair and Flyer are inside the ring. MJ had a real good match against Murray two weeks ago and seems to be finding her mojo once again. And you know High Flyer is going to come in with something to prove. For everything that went down at the LBI and all the misfortune both Flair and Flyer have experienced, it’s just going to fuel them even more this Saturday night to step into the squared circle and do everything they can to knock off a tag team that seemingly isn’t on the same page.
Brock Cole Lee: Because you’re not.
GreenPete can’t wait to throw his two cents in.
Peta screeches something incomprehensible.
Joe Bergman: Here’s the thing, guys. Andy Murray may not like Joe Bergman and I can assure you Joe Bergman ain’t real crazy about Andy Murray either. But the second that bell rings and the match starts, the outside stuff goes away and we’ll get down to the business of defending these titles. Why? Because we are the HOW Tag Team champions and the only way to stay the tag team champions is to find a way to make this work inside the ring. So, we may not like it. We may not like each other. But as long as we hold the belts, we’re going to have to play the cards we were dealt at the Lethal Lottery.
Lee’s still not convinced.
Brock Cole Lee: You are so pathetically naïve Joe – a trait that you do share with the ignorant white trash who cheer you on. Do you really think for a second that Andy Murray won’t screw you over and gift the title back to 24K if he gets the chance to do so?
Joe Bergman: Well, after Saturday night, I’ll agree that Andy Murray is at the least, a bitter, insufferable asshole full of his own ego . . .
Everyone but the GWO: ASS-HOLE! ASS-HOLE! ASS-HOLE! ASS-HOLE!
Joe Bergman: . . . and I don’t know what the dynamics are inside 24K and quite frankly, I don’t care. All I care about is this . . .
Bergman pats the title belt.
Joe Bergman: . . . and that’s all. I have zero control over whether or not Andy Murray turns on me at some point in the future. What I do have control over is enjoying every second of every day that I can say that Joe Bergman is one half of the HOW Tag Team Champions. Besides, if you guys are correct, why the hell didn’t Murray just do that at the Lethal Lottery?
Joe shrugs and points at the GWO as they shout back their disagreement to him.
Joe Bergman: He could have done it. He definitely had the chance to do it. Mikey Unlikely had me dead to rights at the end. Andy Murray could have very easily just walked to the back and he and 24K would still be the tag team champions.
Joe Bergman: But he didn’t, did he.
For once, Brock Cole Lee is silent.
The barn is silent.
That is, until a door opens and a familiar female figure strolls in.
Dawn McGill: Well well well. Look who we have here.
Joe Bergman: OH MY GOD! IT’S DAWN McGILL!
The color from each member of the Green World Order suddenly drain from their collective faces.
Everyone except the GWO: DAWN McGILL! DAWN McGILL! DAWN McGILL!
McGill, still in town after the weekend house shows to train and dressed for a workout in wrestling shoes, sweatpants, and a sweatshirt, displays the most predatory of smiles towards each member of the GWO like a cougar sizing up and salivating over her prey.
Dawn motions to the wrestlers inside the ring.
Dawn McGill: You guys might want to clear out of there.
The students heed the call and post haste vacate the ring area.
Dawn McGill: This will only take a couple of minutes.
Brock Cole Lee had a sinking feeling in his stomach and it had nothing to do with the soy milk he’d ingested just a few minutes before.
Everyone: DAWN’S GONNA KILL YOU! (clap clap clap-clap-clap) DAWN’S GONNA KILL YOU! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)
Or in other words, the GWO was about to experience déjà vu all over again.
Two Hours Later . . .
The HOTv camera films Joe Bergman standing next to the ring apron.
Joe Bergman: Okay. Right now, we just had a match between Dawn McGill and Magnum P.O’d for the Bergman’s Barn Title. The Bergman Barn Title is just a fun thing for these guys to work towards, a goal, something to aspire to. I’ve used the Barn Title as a motivational tool to provide incentive for these young men and women to stretch themselves. They’re not quite there yet, but a couple of them are getting real close.
Joe holds up a ratty old title belt that has the plate covered up in masking tape and ‘Bergman’s Barn Title’ written with a Sharpie.
Joe Bergman: Tonight, they watched a couple of established pros go at it for this belt.
The camera cuts to Magnum P.O’d- another PCW alumni and the former Bergman’s Barn Champion. He has a bushy black moustache, wavy black hair, a tacky black Hawaiian shirt, an even tackier pair of 1980’s style shorts, and wrestling shoes on. The expression he wears in the ring would indicate that Magnum P.O’d is . . . well . . . pissed off.
Joe Bergman: McGill and Magnum went at it for over fifteen minutes before Dawn hit a senton bomb and rolled him up for the win and the title.
Joe hands Dawn the belt as the wrestlers surrounding the ring all applaud. She holds it in front of her face and hugs it with all of her might.
Joe Bergman: THIS IS INCREDIBLE- wait a second. Is she crying?
Dawn very well could be showing tears of joy here.
Everyone: DAWN McGILL (clap clap clap-clap-clap) DAWN McGILL (clap clap clap-clap-clap)
Dawn holds the title belt to her chest as she gets back to her feet.
Joe Bergman: A dream has just come true!
She raises the old, ratty title into the air. Then she pulls it back down and kisses the plate, trying not to smudge the Sharpie written letters on the masking tape.
Magnum P.O’d comes up to her and offers a heartfelt handshake in an incredible display of sportsmanship.
Joe Bergman: What a moment!
Dawn nods her head in respect to Magnum P.O’d. He raises her arm in victory. No one notices in the background a man in a hoodie bursting through the door with an old school milk crate in his hand.
Everyone’s surprised when the man shoves one of the rookies aside and jumps into the ring. He hands the milk crate to the referee.
Joe Bergman: What the hell is this?
Inside the crate there’s a slip of paper. The referee pulls out the slip of paper and reads it.
The man throws the hoodie back. There’s an audible gasp inside the barn.
Joe Bergman: SCOTT STEVENS?
That’s right. It’s the Scorpion himself- Scott Stevens. Barred from in-ring action at High Octane Wrestling until after War Games, Stevens appears out of the blue at the Bergman barn.
Joe asks the burning question on everyone’s mind.
Joe Bergman: What the hell are you doing here?
Scott Stevens: I’m cashing in the Coupon in the Crate.
Joe Bergman: The coupon in the what?
Scott Stevens: The Coupon in the Crate. I’m cashing in my title shot right now!
The referee walks over to Bergman.
Referee: Well. This kinda looks like Scott Stevens’s handwriting here and I know that’s one of the milk crates I saw in the backyard coming into the barn tonight.
The referee further examines the coupon.
Referee: But, yeah it looks pretty legit to me.
McGill’s face turns bright red. She glares incredulously at the referee.
Dawn McGill: WHAT?
Referee: RING THE BELL!
Joe Bergman: WE’VE GOT AN IMPROMPTU TITLE MATCH!
Pissed off to the nth degree, McGill flies across the ring and attacks Stevens with a fury. Kick to the leg. Kick to the gut. Lefts and rights.
Stevens retreats to the corner. Dawn stops and yells at him.
Dawn McGill: DAMMIT STEVENS! THIS IS MY MOMENT!
Then she tags him with a right hand to the jaw.
Dawn McGill: MY MOMENT!
Dawn goes to whip him across the ring – Stevens reverses – he sends McGill racing towards the corner. She collides into the back of Magnum P.O’d who’s still in the ring.
Dawn spins and stumbles back towards Stevens. Boot to the gut by the Scorpion. Three-quarter facelock sitout jawbreaker!
Joe Bergman: TOXIC STING! TOXIC STING!
McGill flies back after taking Stevens’ patented finisher and lands on her back splayed out on the mat.
Joe Bergman: COULD WE HAVE ANOTHER NEW CHAMPION?
Stevens scrambles over for the cover.
One . . .
Two . . .
Joe Bergman: DO YOU BELIEVE IN IMPLAUSIBILITIES! YES!
Stevens swipes the belt out of the referee’s hand and before anyone else can react, hops over the top rope to the floor and flies out the open door.
Still lying in the mat recovering from the Toxic Sting, McGill’s in shock. She can’t believe she’s lost the title already.
Dawn McGill: NOOOOOOOOOOO! STEEEEEEEEE-VENS!
McGill covers her eyes with her hands and kicks her feet in anger.
Dawn McGill: DAMN YOU STEVENS!
As McGill continues to carry on inside the ring, Joe turns to the wrestlers around the ring and asks one simple question.
Joe Bergman: What have we learned here tonight?
It’s the easiest question they’ve had all night.
Everyone: TITLES MATTER!