Tuesday Night – April 7th, 2020
Super 8 by Wyndham Chicago O’Hare
“Okay Joe. Since you didn’t bother to tell me that you were going to team up with Steve Solex before you and your sister Caroline left for Rome . . .”
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Joe admitted. He sat on the couch inside his modest hotel room at the Super 8 near the Chicago O’Hare Airport and stared at the pleasant looking – but slightly annoyed – face of his wife Laura Bergman in the monitor of his laptop computer.
“ . . . can you at LEAST tell me just what the hell PBR stands for?”
“Ummmmm . . .” was the only sound that came out.
Laura’s inquiry just happened to be the seventeenth variation of what appeared to be becoming the Ultimate Question of the Universe- What the hell does PBR stand for?- a question Joe Bergman had been asked repeatedly since March to Glory over a week and a half ago when the official announcement of the formation of their new tag team was made.
To be fair, it’s not like Joe hadn’t thought about the question. In fact, he rolled through a never ending series of plausible names with Solex on the long chartered flight from Rome back to the States. Both men pitched names back and forth for several hours like two tennis players pounding away at a tennis ball but could not find common ground on what name would be the best.
“You’re not going to tell me, aren’t you?”
Joe could hear Laura’s voice transitioning from mildly annoyed to borderline aggravated. The fact of the matter was this- neither Joe nor Solex had really any clue whatsoever what the hell PBR was going to stand for. It’s not like Bergman didn’t spend a significant amount of time thinking about the subject – he really did. Burning through neuron after neuron and blowing up synapse after synapse, Bergman thought long and hard trying to come up with a plausibly acceptable name for the group that sounded remotely as cool as just ‘PBR’ did.
“Ummmm . . . ummmmmmm,”
Hint. It wasn’t working.
“You still don’t know what it is, do you.”
Now Laura’s voice transmitted her sense of abject exasperation to her husband.
Joe knew that answer to that question.
He then tried to bamboozle her by flashing a big, toothy grin. Would it work?
No. Not really.
Joe watched Laura got up from her chair. She backed away from the camera and turned to the side. Wearing just a loose t-shirt and a pair of gym shorts, she pulled up her shirt up enough to reveal what appeared to be the beginnings of a baby bump in her stomach area.
“Holy crap!” exclaimed Joe. “I guess you really are pregnant.”
Laura rolled her eyes at her husband.
“Ha. Ha. Ha. I’ve got the ultrasound to prove it, too. And the fact I’ve worn a path in my office to the bathroom and back is another really good sign. God bless morning sickness.”
Joe checked his watch and noted the time. He had an interview coming up in just a few minutes and knew he had to end the Skype session much earlier than he wanted to.
“Hey honey. I hate to cut this short but Thunderbolt and Hall from the Wrestling Guys are calling me here in about five minutes for a phone interview,” Joe told his wife. “I probably should get ready for it.”
“I know. Before you go, did you catch the show last night?”
“Wrestling Night in the Heartland?”
“Yes! Wrestling Night in the Heartland! What the hell other show would I be talking about?”
Unfortunately, Joe had only caught the tail end of the Wrestling Night in the Heartland program. “I saw Darin Matthews and Scott Stevens having a big time staredown at the end of the show,” he said to her. Joe had worked out at the gym followed up by a skull session with Solex and didn’t get back to the hotel until the show was just about over.
The Chief Financial Officer of MVW, Laura worked hard behind the scenes to bring in Matthews for a three plus month run as he retooled his gimmick and tried something a little different.
He paused and noted the exasperation on his wife’s face. “Honey, I thought it came off good. The crowd popped pretty big when Stevens stepped in between his wife and Darin. It was a good way to end the show. You and Ray McAvay are doing a great job with Missouri Valley Wrestling.”
Joe hoped his effusive assessment of the Matthews v. Stevens staredown would tamp down the roller coaster of emotions she’d been on since the day Laura discovered she was pregnant.
“I miss you. Come home after the show Saturday night.”
Joe nodded. “I miss you too. Take care of yourself and please-please-please don’t overdo it.”
“Will do . . . ”
Cue the usual, syrupy, saccharine covered final goodbye. Joe then disconnected from Skype and closed the top of the laptop down to begin to make preparations for the interview with the Wrestling Guys.
* * *
Tuesday Night – April 7th, 2020
Wrestling Guys Studio in Thunderbolt Smith’s Basement
Meanwhile across town in a small television studio . . .
Sparse, cozy, simple in nature would be the best way to describe the television set for The Wrestling Guys’s show. Two ordinary folding chairs sat off to the left of a large two person desk.
Fred ‘Thunderbolt’ Smith and former pro wrestler ‘Long Haul’ Rick Hall are the hosts. Smith is on the left. Hall sat on the right. Both sport polo shirts – Smith wore black – Hall went with the blue polo tonight – both with matching ‘Wrestling Guys’ logo emblazoned on the front of their shirts and the microphone stands in front of each man on top of the desk.
Thunderbolt had a coffee cup located next to his microphone. Hall had a glass of water next to where he kept his elbow on the desk.
Behind the pair, the ‘Wrestling Guys’ logo appeared prominently on a medium sized video screen mounted just above them on the black wall that also served as the background.
The cameraman swoops into position. The technical director points at Thunderbolt and cued him that he was on.
“And we are back,” he announced while shuffling a couple sheets of paper containing notes and questions he wanted to ask Joe Bergman. “Next on the show, we have a good friend of ours. The last time we had this guy on our syndicated TV show, he just signed on with High Octane Wrestling after a very successful run at Missouri Valley Wrestling. Since then, I’d say he’s had a pretty good run with HOW.“
The video screen came alive and replayed the moment Halitosis pinned Brian Hollywood and won the HOW World Title.
“Pretty good run meaning winning the HOW World Title twice,” chipped in Hall, quietly adjusting the microphone stand while he talked.
The video screen now displayed the match where John Sektor submitted to Halitosis’s Dragon Sleeper- the second time Halitosis won the HOW World Title.
“Now, he’s formed a brand new tag team with HOW’s Number One Dad Steve Solex called PBR.” As Thunderbolt spoke, a video showed a snippet from the March to Glory segment where Bergman and Solex held up their Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans towards the camera.
“Named after a beer it seems,” Hall noted. “Cheers.” He raised his water glass in the air and took a drink from it.
“Once upon a time, we called this man Halitosis- The Luchador with Insanely Poor Oral Hygiene. Now, he’s all cleaned up and we call him simply- ‘Ordinary’ Joe Bergman.” In the pause that followed, you could barely hear the sound of a phone line opening up over the air. “Joe. How the hell are you?”
“Real good Thunderbolt!” Joe’s upbeat voice jumped through the speakers. “How the hell are you and Rick this fine evening?”
“We’re good,” answered Thunderbolt.
“Definitely good,” Hall added.
“So to get this out of the way. Joe, how does it feel to be a father-to-be?” Rick asked.
Several seconds of dead air followed.
. . .
Both Thunderbolt and Hall broke out laughing. Hall leaned forward and covered his head for a brief moment.
“Surreal?” Hall said in between fits of laughter.
“Surreal in the sense that both Laura and I have really good gigs right now and we’re about six-seven months away from bringing a child into the world. Plus we’re building a house.”
“Where?” Thunderbolt probed on.
“It’s out in the country a few miles south of St. Louis. Close enough to the city but yet far enough away. It’s going to be our little house out in the middle of nowhere for our expanding family.”
“What I hear you saying is that you’re finally growing up,” Hall quipped.
The hosts snickered when they heard Joe chuckle over the phone.
“Yeah, growing up. Whatever the hell that means. But . . . yeah . . . as I said . . . it’s all pretty damn . . .”
Hall finished the sentence for Joe. “Surreal.”
Thunderbolt leaned forward to speak. “Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to the business at hand here. Joe, you are back here in Chicago and getting ready for the grand debut of High Octane Wrestling’s newest tag team- PBR!”
Smiling, Thunderbolt continued on, “When did you get into town?”
“My sister and I actually got in early Monday morning. We wanted to get an early start to the week. The plan was to get together with Solex first thing and start the preparations and training for the eGG Bandits Saturday night.”
“Your sister is the former MVW wrestler C.J. Lewis and she is going to be the valet for PBR,” explained Thunderbolt.
“Right. Caroline . . . er . . . C.J. is joining us and she’ll be known in HOW as Barbie-Q. However, I do want to point out that she is in fact a master griller in real life.”
“She wields a mean spatula on the grill,” Hall said.
“And let me tell you, she also wields a mean high heel shoe.”
“Ah yes. I remember that.” Thunderbolt pointed up to the video screen. “In case you are wondering what Joe is referring to.”
The Wrestling Guys’s logo disappeared from the screen replaced by a video taken at a recent MVW television show where Bergman and Barbie-Q made a guest appearance.
[People crowd around Joe’s old school 1960 Chevrolet C10 Pickup with the short bed in the back. Joe and Barbie-Q work the state of the art grill that’s located inside the bed of the truck.]
[Joe is dressed in ordinary clothes. A t-shirt and jeans. C.J. wore a tight cropped t-shirt showing off her midriff with ‘Barbie-Q’ lettered on the front, a pair of faded, torn Daisy Duke shorts, and a pair of spikey high heels. Her hair was bleach blonde and C.J. chewed gum- often very audibly.]
[So, while Joe and C.J. served burgers, brats, and steaks for the people . . .]
[“Hey toots!” some random guy shouted at her. “Show us your tits!”]
[Joe doesn’t react. He continued to pull food off the grill, slap them on a plate, and hand it out.]
[On the other hand, C.J.’s demeanor instantly changed. She glared at the offensive random guy and yanked off one of the heels from her feet. C.J. reared back as far as she could stretch her arm and just whipped the heel – spike first – with great speed and precision towards him.]
[Panning down, the camera showed the spike of C.J.’s heel shoe sticking out from the random guy’s thigh. The guy looked down.]
[He pointed at the shoe. Then he glanced back up at C.J. and spread his arms wide as if to say ‘why?’]
Thunderbolt nodded after the video ended. “Okay. That’s pretty impressive.”
“So, what you’re saying is she’ll be a good person to have in your corner?” Hall observed.
“Oh yes. She’ll be good. C.J.’s been doing this for a long time. She’ll more than play the part nicely.”
“And the whole blonde bombshell thing is just a cover then.”
“Yeah Rick. It’s a variation of what Dawn McGill did for a bit with me and Rah. She’s playing Sports Entertainment Barbie – well, at least til you piss her off and then she may kick your ass.”
“Joe. We are just four days from Refueled Twenty-One, how do you and Steve feel?” Thunderbolt inquired.
“How do we feel? Actually? We feel pretty good, Thunderbolt. Solex has been off for quite a while so he’s rested, fresh, and ready to get back to it. I haven’t wrestled in nearly a month so I’m all healed up and itching to get back into the ring.”
“Have you worked together though? Tune up matches? Any of that?” asked Hall.
“No. The downside is that we really haven’t had a lot of time to practice and work together so a lot of the in-ring timing and other stuff we’re just going to have to learn on the fly.”
“Against a really good tag team,” Hall reminded Joe.
“Oh yeah. The Bandits are a really good tag team. They’ve been together for a real long time. Dawn McGill regaled me with tales about Cancer Jiles and Doozer’s exploits back in the days when they wrestled at Dream Wrestling.”
Thunderbolt pointed over to Hall. “And don’t forget Bobby Dean.”
Hall returned Thunderbolt’s point with a thumbs up gesture.
“Nope. Can’t forget Bobby. Bottom line is the eGG Bandits are a quality tag team and they will be difficult to beat Saturday night.”
“Why?” Thunderbolt returned and propped his chin on the cup of his hand.
“Simply, these guys know each other inside and out and they work really well together as a team.”
“What’s going to be the key to beating them?” Hall asked.
“Ducking. Especially, when they start chucking eggs at us.”
Again, the hosts heard Joe chuckle over the phone line.
“But seriously folks, no, Steve and I are just going to have to find a way to be better than them Saturday night. That always is going to be a challenge for a brand new tag team in their very first match . . . um . . . hold on a second guys.”
Thunderbolt’s eyebrows raise. He could hear rustling on the phone line.
Now, Hall became curious. “What’s going on dude?”
“Well. I’m breaking news right here, live on the Wrestling Guys show.”
Thunderbolt leaned back in his chair and waited to hear Joe’s news.
“It looks like PBR is going to be wrestling Cancer Jiles and . . . Bobby Dean!”
“Bobby Dean,” Hall repeated back to him.
“Huh.” Hall’s curiosity was piqued at the news.
“Yeah. Just got the text from HOW. Interesting.”
“So Jiles and Doozer are on the outs at the moment.”
“I guess Rick. I really don’t have any idea what’s going on with them. All I know is Bobby Dean is wrestling in his place and Solex and I are going to have to adjust our game plan.
“What about Bobby Dean then?” Thunderbolt questioned him.
“Bobby Dean. Yeah. Obviously, Bobby brings a much different dynamic and moveset to the match than Doozer would have. I remember back in the day when Bobby was much lighter and he was one hell of a wrestler. He still is a hell of a wrestler – don’t get me wrong – but Bobby back in the day won a lot of matches. With all the weight he’s put on, Bobby doesn’t move nearly as fluid as he did back then. But, on the other hand his size will be something we’ll have to deal with. Bobby Dean has probably no idea who the hell I am and I thought it was funny that Cancer Jiles had go to Scott Stevens to get ‘everything he had on PBR.’”
“Well, you’ve always thrived playing the underdog and staying under the radar,” Thunderbolt said. He exchanged a quick glance with Hall who agreed with his assessment.
“Hell yes. Let Jiles and Dean do their research. I know exactly what I am- no different from anyone else who’s trying to make a living. My profession just happens to be pro wrestling. My job is to step into the ring and win matches. Look fellas, I’m not here to be interesting. I did my whole being interesting thing when I wrestled as Halitosis last year and I am done and over that one hundred percent. I’m here to wrestle for the people. I’m here to represent the people who support me. People who get up early every morning to go to work – people who work second shifts – people who work third shifts – people who punch a clock – and even people who draw a salary. And especially those crazy bastards in Section 214. Starting Saturday night at Refueled Twenty-One, I’m also representing my tag team called PBR . . .”
“Whatever it stands for.” Hall couldn’t resist throwing that in there.
“. . . whatever the hell it stands for. Steve Solex and myself. HOW’s Number One Dad and ‘Ordinary Joe.’ Banding together with a common purpose- to win wrestling matches and Saturday night at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois- that’s exactly what PBR plans on doing. In fact, with Bobby Dean in this match now, I can just see this being a glorious cluster of epic proportion. Jiles and Bobby versus a brand new tag team on its shakedown cruise. This match is going to be like one of those wild, out of control figure eight race-slash-demolition derbies like the figure-eight trailer race that Laura and I went to go see last August.”
Hall’s ears perked up. He wasn’t sure if he heard Bergman correctly. “Trailer race?” he replied.
“Yeah. The match between the eGG Bandits and PBR Saturday night is going to be the equivalent of the World Famous Figure 8 Trailer Race at the Rockford Speedway. Thirty trucks hauling a trailer or camper behind them and hauling ass around the track until there’s only one truck left.”
Both Thunderbolt and Hall looked at each other and wondered just where the blue hell Bergman was going to go with this.
“Okay, you’ve got the trailer that’s got a huge sign on it that says ‘Tattoo Bob’s’ on one side and ‘I Love Fat Chicks’ on the other. There’s a truck hauling a broken down camper behind it. You got one that’s pulling a port-a-potty on top of a mini-trailer. You got another one that’s pulls a boat on a trailer behind him. One truck has got a Jimmy John’s car top on it and pulls a camper with an orange barrel attached to it. So now we get to the countdown – five, four, three, two, one and then all thirty trucks take off. The trucks going around the turn and get to the figure eight crossover and that’s when all hell breaks loose.”
Joe began to really get into the excitement of the moment and his voice gradually became more and more animated and enthusiastic as he talked.
“Trucks running into trucks. Trucks running through trailers. Trailers getting blown up and spewing debris all over the track. Trucks running into trailers and getting stuck on the trailer and getting pulled around the track by another truck. Soon, there’s stalled vehicles that trucks have to swerve around. Trucks driving through trailers. Four wide in the corner – who makes it through – none of them. Debris everywhere. Mass hysteria. BAM! The Jimmy John’s truck t-bones another truck and kills the engine. The lighted topper starts to flicker and goes out like the lights on the Titanic right before the boat sinks. Who ordered the sub? You’re not going to get it! By the end, all that’s left are the smoking hulks of trucks with blown engines and the remnants of ruined trailers and campers strewn all over the track! THAT’S how I see the match Saturday night between eGG Bandits and PB-fucking R going.”
Joe stopped and took an audible deep breath before he continued on- back in a casually regular tone of voice.
“So yeah, Doozer or Dean, doesn’t matter.”
“Okay then,” Thunderbolt said, himself trying to catch his breath after listening to Bergman’s monologue. “Um. Anything else you want to add?”
. . .
. . .
“All right,” Thunderbolt replied, half-laughing. “Joe. Good luck Saturday night and thank you for joining us tonight on the Wrestling Guys’s show.”