Joe Bergman accomplished two major objectives. One, he retained the HOTv Title at the Lethal Lottery over Scott Stevens. Two, he delivered a much-deserved payback to both Dan Ryan and Jatt Starr for their attack on him at Chaos 21.
Leaving Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse with Sunny, Joe thought that night went well. Mission accomplished. On to next week.
But of course, this is HOW and the evening would not end as planned.
Scott Stevens- apparently acting on orders from Lee Best tasered Sunny and jumped Joe from behind. This is despite the fact that Lee has YET to acknowledge whatever the hell Scott Stevens is doing AND the fact that Lee sicced Aceldama on Stevens in his first match back.
But whatever, it’s the typical, overly predictable sneak attack-slash-beatdown we’ve all witnessed millions of times before on HOW television.
However, instead of dissuading Joe from backing down, this latest attack only made Bergman even more determined. Joe and Sunny showed up the night after Chaos at a Missouri Valley Wrestling house show in Coralville, Iowa where one Scott Stevens would be wrestling. Before the show, Joe talked to the MVW wrestler who would be facing Stevens in a non-title match- J.J. Bittinger. He asked J.J. as a favor if Sunny could accompany him to the ring? J.J. agreed and as a result Sunny walked down the ramp to the ring at Bittinger’s side.
Scott Stevens’s music then came on and the Men’s Heartland Champion came out to a healthy chorus of boos all full of piss and vinegar from what he’d done the night before. That all dissipated the second Stevens made eye contact with Sunny O’Callahan, standing on one of the corner turnbuckles defiantly flipping him off from the ring.
What would happen next? Well…
Stevens marched down to the ring and confronted O’Callahan. Some overheated rhetoric followed and the faces of both combatants turned bright red. Finally, Stevens said something that set Sunny off and…
…the diminutive O’Callahan reared back and delivered a hard, open-handed slap across the Demi-God of HOW’s face.
Stevens shrugged off the slap and, with fury filling his eyes, immediately delivered a fierce two-handed shove that sent Sunny hurtling backward causing her legs to give out and causing her crash hard to the mat. As the boos rained down, Stevens moved in as if he was going to pull her up for a Toxic Sting.
That is until Joe Bergman hopped the guardrail from the crowd and rolled into the ring.
Now, it was cooking. Stevens peeled away from Sunny and went nose-to-nose with Bergman.
But wait, there’s more… The Stevens Dynasty ran down to the ring. Bo, George, and family patriarch Cary Stevens rolled in under the ropes and now it was the entire Stevens Dynasty confronting Bergman and Sunny.
That is until…
… the reigning HOTv and MVW Tag Team Champions R.G Jenkins and Mark Hendry aka The Alabama Gang raced out from the back, flew down the ramp, and slid into the ring to come to their aid.
The situation had reached a point where one little thing would have set off a full-fledged free-for-all between the two sides.
MVW Security streamed out from the back and hot-footed it down the ramp. They jumped into the ring and got in between The Stevens Dynasty and Bergman/the Alabama Gang before the spark could explode into a full-blown war.
Finally, MVW Owner Ray McAvay came out. Looking extremely annoyed at the situation, McAvay commandeered a microphone and rolled into the ring.
Ray McAvay: Unh unh.
McAvay marched over to where Scott Stevens stood with the rest of the Stevens Dynasty.
Ray McAvay: This isn’t going to happen Scott.
Then Ray turned and walked towards Bergman…
Ray McAvay: Joe, not tonight. Not here. I get you’re understandably pissed off at Scott Stevens for his latest cheap attack from behind on you and Sunny last night and why you want to get retribution on him. Totally get it.
…who does not change his expression of anger. Then McAvay turned back towards Stevens.
Ray McAvay: Scott, I know that Sunny O’Callahan is living rent-free in your head… because you let her make you lose focus in the HOTv tag title match against the Alabama Gang and cost you and JPD the tag belts. I know she’s in the heads of the rest of the Stevens Dynasty which is why your father took a steel folding chair into the ring and accidently took out Bo Stevens with a chairshot allowing the Alabama Gang to get the pinfall and the MVW Tag Team title. And apparently, Sunny’s in Jatt Starr’s head too.
McAvay steps closer.
Ray McAvay: Let me make this perfectly clear, Scott. After what you pulled last night at Chaos, Joe Bergman has every right to smash you into the ground right now.
Stevens’s eyes shoot a withering glare at McAvay.
Ray McAvay: But no, we’re not doing any of that crap here. This is…
McAvay emphatically points to the mat.
Ray McAvay: …MY house. This is MY company. And from this point forward… this stupid, petty, evil empire bullshit stays at the other company. I don’t do that here.
McAvay pauses and then turns back to make one more point. Looking straight at Scott Stevens, dressed in his usual #97 Red attire including sunglasses.
Ray McAvay: Let me make this clear, Mr. Demi-God of HOW. This is MY church and if that’s a problem with you, hand me your title belt right now…
He pointed at the exit.
Ray McAvay: …and there’s the door.
Stevens appears taken aback and even a little surprised by the harsh, sharp tone of McAvay’s voice. He and Ray have had an up-and-down relationship over the past years. McAvay never forgave Stevens for costing him the World title in 2016 in his first title defense against Brian Hollywood. But over time, the two seemed to carve out a mutual truce with each other, mainly around Stevens’s appreciation over the way MVW treated his wife Lisa and helped further her wrestling career.
Hell, McAvay and Stevens had even been known to share a beer or two.
Perhaps, Stevens’s attack on Bergman hit a little too close to home to Ray.
McAvay instructed MVW’s security men to escort Bergman off the premises and O’Callahan, The Alabama Gang, and The Stevens Dynasty to the back where they were to stay put for the balance of the match.
As Bergman was led toward the exit, his head spun with multiple thoughts. Yeah, it would have been nice to give Scott Stevens his second ass-whipping in two nights. It would have made him feel good to deliver another clear message to not only Stevens but to Dan Ryan and Jatt Starr that it was no longer ‘open season’ on Joe Bergman.
He’d let Dan Ryan Burning Hammering him and Sunny the night Joe paid Jatt Starr back from costing him the LSD and the Tag titles at ICONIC go. But when Ryan kicked off the second attack and served him up on a platter for Jatt Starr, Joe felt he had no other choice but to fight back.
And that’s what he did.
But… was there something else on Joe’s mind… perhaps something that had amplified his emotions… the intensity of his response… his reaction to the cowardly, cheap attacks on him?
Why was all of a sudden Joe was more willing to embrace the predictable sneak attack attitude that prevailed in HOW.
What else might have fueled Joe’s actions at Chaos 22?
Let’s go back a couple of days…
(Friday February 9th-Best Western Plus Strongsville- just outside Cleveland, Ohio)
Joe Bergman throws a suitcase down on the bed after flying into Cleveland Hopkins International Airport earlier in the day and checking into the Best Western in Strongsville south of the city.
A jet airliner that’s just taken off from Hopkins soars overhead, its jet engine filling the air with a thunderous sound.
Joe’s plan is to get settled, grab a quick dinner, and then do a quick workout at the local Anytime Fitness a few miles to the south of the motel in Brunswick, Ohio. He clicks on the television and checks his cell phone.
After checking a couple of texts and emails, Joe walks out of the room to his rental vehicle outside to get the last of his bags. He paid little attention to a car that was pulling into the parking spot next to his rental car.
Leaning into the back seat, Joe pulls the last bag out of the car and loops the strap over his shoulder when…
Female Voice: Hey.
Joe turns towards the source of the voice. She stood six-foot-two. Blonde hair that waves in the cool breeze in the air. Sweatshirt. Jeans. Tennis shoes. And a heavy jacket since it’s only thirty-nine degrees outside in the early evening in Northern Ohio.
Joe Bergman: Tori?
To say that Joe was surprised to see her in the Best Western Plus Strongsville parking lot was a major understatement.
Joe Bergman: How did you find me?
Victoria McGill: You emailed me your itinerary last weekend, remember?
Joe Bergman: Oh.
Victoria McGill: Look, I just wanted to tell you that I’m really sorry for ghosting you the past few days.
Joe looks into her eyes. He thinks they’re giving off the appearance of her being remorseful.
Victoria McGill: I’ve had a lot of things on my mind… wrestling career-wise and I needed to think some things out.
The car she drove up in was still running. Joe peeks in and observes she had her bags stacked up in the back seat. The first hopeful thought that flashes through his mind is that Tori’s come to Cleveland to be with him at Chaos 22.
So Joe plays it cool.
Joe: Going somewhere?
Joe holds his breath in anticipation and waits for it… waits for her to say she’s staying with him.
Victoria: Um, I’m flying to Tokyo tonight…
Joe’s jaw drops.
Seeing his immediate reaction, Tori takes a couple seconds to gather herself before she finishes the sentence.
Victoria: …and I’m going to Japan to wrestle for Bang! Wrestling.
Following several uncomfortable seconds, Joe finally speaks.
Joe: So you’re quitting Missouri Valley Wrestling?
Tori shakes her head.
Victoria: Oh no. No no no.
Joe: Then why?
Victoria: Bang! Pro Wrestling is having a King’s Winter tour starting on February 12th until February 27th and 28th at King’s Winter in Sendai!
Joe tries to process what she’s saying.
Victoria: I’m going over to see what I can do over there… and get my head together.
Both look at each other. Holding their breath. Waiting for the other to react.
Victoria: I’m flying out of Cleveland… to Seattle… then to Tokyo.
Tori looks down and generally tries to avoid eye contact with him.
Joe: And Ray McAvay is okay with this?
She nods in the affirmative.
Victoria: Yes. It’s going to cost me two places in the Women’s Division contender’s rankings, but yes.
Joe: And this is what you need to do?
Tori’s response is firm and decisive.
Victoria: Yes. Career-wise, this is what I need to do.
Joe: Are you sure about this?
Victoria: Ummmm… Joe… I… I just need a little break… go to Japan… work on some things… and then come back in a couple weeks.
Joe: And us?
Tori starts to answer…
…but she can’t find the words to say… or the words she wants to say.
Not that words are needed as Joe can tell just from her body language. He shrugs.
Joe: Then you need to do what you need to do.
Victoria: It’s just… my career… um… I need to refocus on my wrestling career right now. I hope you understand.
He smiles. It’s a bit forced- but at least he tries. It’s the same line Laura Bergman gave him about why she wanted to end their marriage. His response is also horribly forced as well.
Joe: I understand.
Victoria: Thanks, Joe.
Tori turns to walk back to her car. She gets to the driver’s door… stops… and turns back to him.
Victoria: We’ll talk more when I get back.
HOW Hall of Famer.
The Queen of Epicness.
Bobbi, you’ve had a good second… or third act to your HOW career the past couple years and you deserve a chance at wearing this HOTv belt. It will be an honor to step into the ring with you and I am looking forward to a great match.
We’ve crossed paths before. The big bar fight at Dead or Alive where Steve Harrison and I retained the tag belts against the Board’s JPD and STRONK, Brian Hollywood and Xander Azula, and- of course– you and Conor Fuse.
I don’t make it a point to underestimate my opponents and I know that you are an opponent that I can’t… and I won’t… take lightly. I know how good of a wrestler you are. I know that you are more than capable of leaving that ring Sunday night at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as the new HOTv champion. It’s my job to make sure you don’t.
In the spirit of full disclosure, this might not be the worst time to be coming up against Joe Bergman.
I’ve been attacked twice by Dan Ryan, once by Simon Sparrow, and then Scott Stevens went full Scott Stevens last week after I defeated him in a HOTv title match. So yeah, I’m a little beaten up this week. I’m a little bruised. I’m not physically one hundred percent. But I promise you this much. When I step into the ring with you on Sunday, none of this will be used as an excuse for me not putting in one hundred percent effort in our match. The title belt is on the line. You will have my full attention.
Also in the spirit of full disclosure, this might not exactly be the best time to be wrestling Joe Bergman either.
Yeah, I’m hurting… yeah, I’m not moving as fluid as I usually do… but I’m also a little pissed off. Joe Bergman is on an island right now and it’s a feeling I don’t like one bit. Steve Harrison is out injured. Clay Byrd has become the saddest of cowboys and disappeared into the ether. The Highwaymen are dead and right now it’s just me, Sunny O’Callahan, and the people of Section 214 versus the world.
And I’m okay with that.
Simon Sparrow, Dan Ryan, and Scott Stevens think beating me to the inch of death every week is going to cause me to back down. They could not be more wrong. In fact, not only will Joe Bergman refuse to back down but they will never break my spirit, my will, and my determination. Boys, every time you hit me- I’m going to strike back. Every time you attack me, I’m going to strike back harder. Every time you beat me down, I’m going to strike back even harder.
The Joe Bergman… actually the Halitosis… who shrugged off getting beat down by Lindsay Troy, Dan Ryan, and MJ Flair the night I won the World title for the first time in 2019 is no more.
The Halitosis who shrugged off getting thrown through the back of a back window of a nearby black Lincoln Navigator by Eric Dane and Dan Ryan… gone.
The Halitosis who willingly let himself be put in a no-win situation, booked at Rumble at the Rock against both Dan Ryan and Cecilworth Farthington… history.
Four years ago, I was a much different wrestler when I wrestled as Halitosis- and a much different person– then I am now. But one thing will never change. I’ll always go out of my way to represent Section 214 and I’ll always stand up for the people.
But I will not be the punching bag for everyone to take liberties with anymore.
You punch me. I punch you back.
You jump me from behind. I jump you from behind.
You beat me down. I pay the receipt right back to you.
There will be retribution.
When Rick ‘Even’ Stevens- the Board’s ‘handpicked’ referee screws Joe Bergman out of a win, there was retribution.
When Simon Sparrow screws me out of wins in the LSD title match and the HOTv tag team title match at ICONIC, there was retribution.
When Dan Ryan hits me from behind and then Burning Hammers me on the stage… and then Burning Hammers Sunny, too, there was retribution.
When Ryan and Simon Sparrow jump me from behind like they did a couple weeks ago, there was retribution.
Apparently, Simon Sparrow is not the only one Lee Best has on a leash. Lee pulled Scott Stevens’s chain and he jumped me from behind. Well, when Stevens jumps me and Sunny, guess what? There’s going to be a response.
There’s going to be retribution.
You can knock me down to the ground. You can stomp on me and do your worst. But you can be sure that as soon as I back up there will be hell to pay.
Dan. Simon. Scott. Hey look, if you’re really that bent on trying to hurt me, here’s a thought. How ‘bout you be a man about it and try to beat me inside the wrestling ring. You want to prove something, prove it in the wrestling ring. One. Two. Three.
Scott, I’ve beaten you so many times now I’ve lost track. Simon- you can’t beat me in the ring in a fair fight. Dan- well… I’ve been in the ring with you before and I know that I’ll really have to work hard to find a way to defeat you.
This is the opponent Bobbinette Carey is going up against Sunday- an opponent sporting a big. fat chip on his shoulder. It’s what fuels me right now.
You knock me down- I will come back and fight even harder.
The chip on my shoulder isn’t going to keep me down. I will forge my destiny with my own two hands.
I don’t need the backing of an alliance.
I don’t need a Highwaymen faction backing me up.
I am who I am.
I am an ordinary man fighting for ordinary people.
I am here to stand up for what I think is right.
And I’m using every bit of my discontent, my frustration, and my anger and letting it flow through my veins like gasoline, fueling my resolve, steeling my spine, and keeping my mind in tune to what I need to do… win.
Bobbinette Carey. This Sunday night, you will see a Joe Bergman who- once that bell sounds and the match begins- is going to put all this other nonsense going on… the evil empire bullshit… the cheap attacks… all of it aside, put it into a box, put it on the shelf, and focus on what I need to be focused on- winning our match. I know going up against you is going to be a battle. I know you’ve been around long enough to not make the mistake of underestimating Joe Bergman and I can assure you I sure as hell will not take it for granted that I will win our match on Sunday night.
I’m the HOTv Champion and my game plan is pretty simple- to make you have to wrestle a great match in order to get the belt from me. You’re going to have to fight like you’ve never had to fight before to get the HOTv title pried out of my hands. I know I’m going to have to push myself and do what I need to do so I can leave Pittsburgh still the HOTv Champion Sunday night.
Bobbi- you will get Joe Bergman- HOTv champion- defending the HOTv title to the best of his ability- and may the best wrestler win.
Good luck Bobbinette.