“Here they come our mighty champions
Raise your voices to the anthem
Marching like a mighty army
WREXHAM IS THE NAME
“See the Reds who fight together
Speak their names with pride forever
Marching like a mighty army
WREXHAM IS THE NAME
“Fearless in Devotion
Rising to Promotion
Rising to the ranks of mighty heroes
Fighting foes in every land
Welcome to Wrexham
The song rings out from the public address system and is sung heartily by the over nine thousand people on hand on a cool Tuesday evening in Wrexham. Wales. Sitting in the Wrexham Lager Stand, taking in the ambient atmosphere to watch his first ever English professional football game?
“History only tells a story
We are to see your glory
Stand aside the Reds are coming
WREXHAM IS THE NAME
“We have made the mighty humble
We have made the mountains rumble
Falling to a mighty army
WREXHAM IS THE NAME…”
Following Joe’s big win Sunday night on Chaos 24, teaming up with Scott Stevens to defeat Dan Ryan and Jatt Starr in a tag match at Madison Square Garden, he caught a morning flight out of JFK that took him over the Atlantic to Manchester, England where he went straight from the airport right to a hotel to lodge on Monday night. Tuesday morning, Joe again arose early and took a bus from Manchester that took him south into Wales where he arrived in Wrexham Tuesday afternoon. He checked in at a local hotel near the football stadium and made a quick visit to The Turf… the meeting place for Wrexham fans on match days and historically known as the place where Wrexham Football Club was formed.
Located right in front of The Racecourse, The Turf is routinely packed on every matchday and tonight was no exception. Joe barely got into the pub for a quick pint before he walked over to the stadium to watch the match between Wrexham and Chesterfield. A win tonight would put Wrexham top of the table in the National League- an English football league in the fifth level of the English Football Pyramid.
As Joe sits and watches the two teams run out from the tunnel onto the pitch and then line up facing the stands for the pre-game introductions, he knows people are going to be curious about why he chose to go to Wrexham to train.
He can even envision the multitude of questions people are probably thinking to themselves right now…
The Ultimate Underdog
Wait… you’re training at Wrexham?
“Yes. Wrexham. The home of the third oldest professional football team in the world- founded in 1864 at The Turf pub in front of the Racecourse.”
But Joe, March to Glory is going to be in Manchester, England at the iconic Old Trafford. ‘The Theatre of Dreams.’ The home of Manchester United… THE iconic team in English football. Why not train right there?
“That’s a good question. Don’t get me wrong. Old Trafford? It’s a great stadium. It’s an iconic stadium. I am definitely looking forward to visiting Old Trafford to defend the HOTv title there at March to Glory on March 12th. But it wasn’t for me.”
So, why Wrexham then?
“I decided to train in Wrexham for a couple reasons. One wrestling-wise I wanted to steer clear of the madhouse and train off to the side. Two, because I’ve always wanted to come here to watch a Wrexham match at another iconic stadium- The Racecourse- and this felt like the right time to do it.”
Wait. The Racecourse?
“The Racecourse is the world’s oldest international football stadium. The Racecourse hosted Wales first ever home international match in 1877 and 34,445 people once packed the stadium to watch Wrexham play Manchester United in the 1950’s.”
So you’re a fan of the team, then?
“Anyone can be a front-running bandwagon-jumping supporter of one of the big teams in the English Premier League. Anyone can support a Manchester United… a Chelsea… a Liverpool… or a Tottenham Hotspur. That’s easy. Being Joe Bergman, I choose to support a team that’s playing in the fifth level of the English Football pyramid… a team stuck in exile outside the football league for over fifteen years.”
Okay. So, let me guess. You became of fan of Wrexham because Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny bought the team and you’ve been watching the ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ show on FX.
“No. I have been a Wrexham supporter since 2012.”
“You see, while wrestling for Political Championship Wrestling back in January 2012, I had some downtime during the week and listened to BBC Five on my laptop. There was a FA Cup replay coming on between Wrexham- a non-league team- and Brighton and Hove Albion- a team from the Championship- the league in the second level of the English Football Pyramid. The two teams had drawn 1-1 in Brighton the previous week.
So half listening to the match and working out, I suddenly hear this massive sound… this thunderous roar coming through the speakers of my laptop. So I went over to see what happened and Wrexham… the underdog… the non-league team going up against a team from the Championship… had just scored a goal in the twenty-third minute of the match.
And not just a goal… but a stunning, spectacular goal.
The play began with Wrexham’s Danny Wright marauding up the left flank near the touchline. He darted in between two Brighton defenders and squared the ball to Andy Morrell on the edge of the box. Morrell settled the ball with his foot… swung through with a mighty strike… and unleashed a curling drive that goalkeeper Peter Brezovan had no chance to save as it nestled into the top right corner of the net.
I stopped working out and listened to the rest of the match on my laptop. Unfortunately, Brighton equalized late and then won 5-4 on penalty kicks.
I’ve followed them ever since.
Wrexham are the ultimate underdogs… a team that nearly went out of existence in 2011 due to major financial issues and incompetent mismanagement on the part of the then-owners. When the situation looked bleak and the team had twenty-four hours to come up with a bond just to stay in the Conference League, at the eleventh hour, the fans came to the club’s rescue by raising over one hundred pounds to secure the bond to keep the team going.
Wrexham is a team that Joe Bergman can relate to. The squad doesn’t have the high-priced prima-donna players who play in the Premier League. Wrexham features players who will never probably reach the top level but who are helping the team’s fight this season to reach the promised land known as the English Football League.
The reason I relate to their story is because in many ways that’s who Joe Bergman is. A two-star talent trying to compete against five-star talent in one of the top wrestling companies in the world. Always seemingly swimming upstream. Always having to fight, scratch, claw, and find ways to maximize my talent.
So now, here I am. The HOTv champion going into March to Glory facing what will be a challenging four-way match with Dan Ryan, Jat- er Simon Sparrow, and Scott Stevens for the title coming off wins over the likes of GREAT SCOTT, Scott Stevens, Bobbinette Carey, and in the tag team win with Stevens over Dan Ryan and Simon Sparrow last week. Following through with a win at March to Glory in a four-way match would be the crowning achievement of my HOTv title reign- a win over three great wrestlers inside one of the most iconic stadiums in the world.
However, much like Wrexham’s ambitions to move back into the Football League, I also realize that it’s time to expand my horizons. Win or lose at March to Glory, perhaps it’s time to look at moving up toward the other HOW titles. The LSD title… the World title. If Wrexham’s ambition is going all the way to the Premier League, why couldn’t- and why shouldn’t- Joe Bergman aim higher and aim to win the World title for a third time? If Conor Fuse can’t beat Chris America at March to Glory, why can’t Joe Bergman be the one who dethrones Christopher America and win the world title?
It’s not that far-fetched of an idea.
This isn’t the Halitosis/Joe Bergman of 2019-2020 who merely turned the other cheek with a friendly ‘aw-shucks’ and just went on his merry way after losing a match.
After all these years, this is a Joe Bergman who finally believes he belongs in the company’s top echelon and not some two-star scrub trying to swim with the five-star sharks at HOW. This is a Joe Bergman who believes that not only he can win at March to Glory, he is capable of challenging for the HOW big boy belts again.
It’s not that inconceivable.
But first things first… much like Wrexham needs to keep their focus on winning their league and gaining promotion back to the Football League, Joe Bergman needs to keep his focus on the prize at hand… retaining the HOTv Title.
That’s my goal.
That’s my focus.
That’s my mission.
And I will not fail.”
That One Little Detail Joe Left Out
“Following Joe’s big win Sunday night on Chaos 24, teaming up with Scott Stevens to defeat Dan Ryan and Jatt Starr in a tag match at Madison Square Garden… …he caught a morning flight out of JFK that took him over the Atlantic into Manchester, England.”
On the long six-hour flight to England, Joe had time – a lot of time – to reflect on his recent encounter with Elizabeth Carlisle after Chaos 24. Elizabeth was the former Chicago news reporter Joe trained last year to wrestle for a news expose she was doing on pro wrestling.
Carlisle had surprised Joe by showing up at the HOW press conference at MSG two days before Chaos 24. Following the press conference, Joe and Elizabeth chatted for a few minutes to catch up on what the other had been up to the past year before he excused himself to move along to a Section 214 meet and greet he promised he’d stop in on.
After Chaos 24…
Elizabeth waits right outside doors of the venerable Madison Square Garden on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Thirty-First Street for Joe to appear.
Joe Bergman’s voice: Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Carlisle: There you are.
Joe holds up his cell phone and adjusts the duffel bag slung over his shoulder.
Joe Bergman: Got your text.
Elizabeth Carlisle: Thanks for coming down to see me.
Joe Bergman: Sure. But I need to warn you that I have to get up super-early tomorrow morning to catch a Trans-Atlantic flight to the UK so I’m probably just going to go back to my hotel tonight and get as much shut-eye as I can before the alarm goes off.
Elizabeth Carlisle: Where are you staying?
Joe points towards the south.
Joe Bergman: The Holiday Inn Express on West Twenty-Ninth… a couple of blocks away.
Elizabeth Carlisle: I’ll walk with you… if that’s okay. I can catch an Uber there just as easily as I could here.
Joe Bergman: Sure.
Joe and Elizabeth wait for the ‘WALK’ sign to illuminate and signal it was time to cross Thirty-First Street. Once it shows, the couple travels across the crosswalk to the other side of the street and continue down Eighth Ave.
Elizabeth Carlisle: So, the reason you ditched me on Friday night was to hang out with some of the Section 214 people who came to New York City for Chaos 24?
Chuckling, Joe nods his head as they pass by a Panda Express Chinese Kitchen.
Joe Bergman: Yeah. These guys have stuck with me through thick and thin. I believe it’s important to give a little back to the people who’ve had my back for the past four years.
Elizabeth Carlisle: Understandable. And commendable.
Joe Bergman: Thank you.
The conversation goes quiet as the noise becomes loud out front of the Blarney Stone Bar and Restaurant which is doing very well on a busy Friday evening.
Once they pass the bar and the noise subsides a bit, Elizabeth reaches out with her hand and touches Joe’s arm.
Elizabeth Carlisle: Joe.
Joe notices Elizabeth’s soft hand on his arm.
Joe Bergman: Elizabeth?
Elizabeth Carlisle: Look. I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry for ditching you all those months ago in Chicago because your wife wanted to get back together with you again.
Chuckling, Joe nods his head.
Joe Bergman: Yeah.
Elizabeth Carlisle: In retrospect…
A tone of regret seeped into her voice.
Elizabeth Carlisle: …I probably should have been more understanding about the situation.
Joe Bergman: Well, I was married to Laura for over fifteen years. We have a child together. And she told me point blank that she ‘may have made a mistake’ in leaving me.’ I felt I owed it to her, my child, to at least give it some consideration.
Elizabeth Carlisle: I know.
Joe Bergman: You walking away made it easier to stand by Laura and give it one last chance. And I probably needed the closure anyways. I wanted to make sure we’d made the right decision about getting divorced.
Bergman looks up into what little of the night-time sky he can see in the middle of downtown Manhattan.
Joe Bergman: And of course, it didn’t work. So in the end, we made the right decision.
Off to their left, the Molly Wee Pub on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Thirtieth Street. Elizabeth glances through the window. The pub is also full and doing bumper Friday evening business.
Joe and Elizabeth cross Thirtieth Street and continue on down the street.
Elizabeth Carlisle: Joe?
Joe Bergman: Yes?
Elizabeth Carlisle: I’m just going to come out and say it. I was hoping we could put everything that happened last year… put it all aside and… maybe… try again… give us another shot?
Joe saw the street sign marking Twenty-Ninth Street ahead.
Joe Bergman: I don’t know.
Elizabeth doesn’t respond, letting Joe sift through his thoughts, weighing the pros and cons of her proposal.
Joe Bergman: Laura left me because her career became more important than our marriage. You broke things off because Laura suddenly expressed the notion that she’d made a mistake- but then broke it off again because her career meant more to her at this point of her life. And then there’s Victoria McGill. She broke things off because she hit a rough patch and lost some matches so she decided she wanted to focus on her career.
Joe’s frustration is palpable in his tone of voice.
Joe Bergman: And do you know what?
Joe stops at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Twenty-Ninth. Elizabeth also stops and turns around.
As the endless stream of people passes by on both sides, Joe mulls his words carefully.
Joe Bergman: Maybe now isn’t the right time for any of this. In two weeks, I have a big, big match in England. A four-way battle against Dan Ryan- one of the toughest and most calculating wrestlers who’s ever set foot inside the ring, Jatt Starr- a Hall of Fame wrestler who’s more than capable of turning it on when he’s in the mood to do so, and Scott Stevens- another Hall of Fame wrestler who’s dangerous in his own right. That’s where my focus should be on right now.
Elizabeth just stands there and listens.
Joe Bergman: Seeing you again was great. Congratulations on your new gig in New York City… I know you’ll do well. But…
He shakes his head.
Joe Bergman: …I need to focus on my career. I need to be in the best place mentally and physically to successfully defend the HOTv title at March to Glory. That’s it. That’s all I’m capable of doing right now.
Elizabeth Carlisle: Okay… I understand…
As Joe and Elizabeth bid each other goodbye, someone who’s just been dropped off in front of the Holiday Inn Express down the street is watching with great interest.
She sees the shake of hands.
She notices the quick hug.
She watches Elizabeth walk away and Joe coming down Twenty-Ninth Street towards the hotel.
Who is she?
As Sigourney Weaver said so eloquently all those years ago in the classic movie ‘Ghostbusters’… “there is no Dana, there is only Zuul.”
Lee, there is no Evil Empire, there is only Joe Bergman.
All I can do is simply roll my eyes when you continue to pursue this dubious narrative that attempts to associate me as being part of some ridiculous ‘Evil Empire.’
Oh, and by the way, nice photoshopped shirt on the website, Lee. I was amused.
Would mighty Manchester United accuse little ol’ Wrexham AFC as being part of some evil empire? I think not.
And besides, Lee. I don’t need an evil empire. Why do I need an ‘evil empire’ when I’ve got the people of Section 214 behind me… comprised of ordinary people leading ordinary lives who need something to believe in and someone who will fight for them in a world where heels are ‘celebrated’ and the good guys are not.
They are not unlike the fans of Wrexham who show up in full force at The Racecourse on a Saturday afternoon or a Tuesday evening, singing their songs, raising their voices to the anthem, and marching like a mighty army. I will continue to raise that banner and ride the fuel that the people of Section 214 give me every time I walk down to the ring and use it as motivation to drive me forward toward my objective- victory in the four-way HOTv title match at March to Glory.
With Section 214’s support, Joe Bergman has already made the mighty humble. GREAT SCOTT to win the HOTv title. Scott Stevens at the Lethal Lottery. Bobbinette Carey in a HOTv title defense. Dan Ryan and Simon Sparrow in a tag match at Chaos 24. Section 214 made the mountains rumble with their noise and support and though there may not be an actual Section 214 at Old Trafford, that won’t stop our mighty champions from showing up on March 12th and making their presence felt.
At March to Glory, we will come together as one once again and deliver another blow to the Final Alliance by hurting them in the worst possible way- by winning the damn match in the ring and retaining the HOTv Champion.
Simon Sparrow, Dan Ryan, and Scott Stevens thought they could beat me down over and over again to the point that I would back down and give up.
They were wrong.
They thought they could break my spirit… my will… and my determination.
They were wrong.
I came back even more determined.
I came back even more focused.
I came back even more… defiant.
At March to Glory, I intend to do everything in my power to make sure Dan Ryan, Simon Sparrow, Scott Stevens once again fall to our mighty army so history will tell the story of how… once again… Joe Bergman defied the odds…
…how Joe Bergman once again overcame every obstacle thrown in front of him…
…how Joe Bergman ignored the Evil Empire bullshit and kept his focus on the prize- the HOTv Title…
…and how Joe Bergman left Old Trafford victorious and still the HOTv Champion…
Oh and Wrexham did win their match that night 2-1 over Chesterfield. As of right now, they are top of the table in the National League.