Friends: How Many Of Us Have Them?
In pro wrestling, one of the most precious commodities is that of a true friend. Wrestling being the cut-throat business that it is, it's difficult to find anyone that doesn't put their own interests above everything else in an effort to rise further up the ladder of success.
For many years, Gary Tool knew that he could consider Bernie D a friend. Their friendship dated back many years and through several different federations. And while Bernie and Gary didn't always see exactly eye-to-eye, it didn't prevent them from setting wrestling matters to the side and knowing what was important.
Several weeks ago, it became even more obvious to Bernie how important friendships were. His tag team partner, MWA Tag Team Champion Max McGuirk, had been sidelined with an injury preventing him from being able to defend the IZW Tag Team Titles together. In an act of fortuitous grace, Aaron Neil stepped forward in a mandatory title defence against The Future Hall of Famers, John O'Malley & Brad Michaels. It wasn't enough for Bernie to be able to keep hold of the titles, though. And now Bernie found himself in trouble.
Bernie wanted those titles back. But Aaron Neil was preoccupied in getting IZW Champion Jermaine Johnson to sign on the dotted line for a title defence.
Bernie originally returned to IZW to assist Angel Williams against the Future Hall of Famers. But Angel had a personal issue with Wage to resolve. So he couldn't take time from that to be a regular tag team partner.
So this left Bernie in search of someone he could trust. Someone he knew could carry his share of the load. And it seemed like that person had dropped into Bernie's lap when Gary Tool returned to take the role of ring announcer after Steve O was fired.
The only problem was, Tool didn't want to return to ring action.
Tool had been retired for 3 years, returning only once when he was inducted into the IZW Hall of Fame in 2009. He had no interest in coming back to the ring, even to assist his best friend.
All of this amused O'Malley & Michaels to no end. They knew that Bernie had a return clause in his contract, but without a tag team partner, it was useless. And it seemed as if no one wanted to help Bernie out, especially his friend, Gary Tool.
This past Saturday, Brad Michaels faced Ky-ote Joe in singles action. Joe went for a springboard, but Michaels caught him and DDTed him for the win. The match itself wasn't that notable, but what happened after the match was as Michaels demanded that Tool bring him his title belt and jacket. Michaels' behaviour was much like a bully and while Tool complied, he dropped the items on the apron of the ring, rather than hand them to Michaels. Michaels told Tool that he should treat him with more respect. Because Bernie D can't find a partner, Michaels has no match for "Redemption" on August 6th. Michaels then tore into Tool, berating him for not helping his best friend. Michaels went on to say that at the Danny Hodge Invitational Tag Team Tournament, the Future Hall of Famers would win the $1000 and then maybe he would buy Bernie a tag team partner. Michaels also said that soon he would be the only IZW Hall of Famer left. Michaels left and Tool stood in the ring looking somewhat downtrodden, but he refused to put over Michaels' comments out of respect for the other men in IZW Hall of Fame like Kenny Campbell and Tyler Bateman.
Later in the night, Bernie D had a one-on-one match with Michael Barry. Being a member of Impact, Inc., Barry was accompanied to ringside by IZW Commissioner (and Impact, Inc. leader) Jeff Wolfenbarger. Bernie came alone, limping to the ring after suffering a strained hamstring in his match with Brad Michaels the week before. Barry and Wolfenbarger would both work on that leg during the match. It didn't prevent Bernie from being able to connect with the Skyhigh, but when he covered Barry, referee Mark Wilson was yanked out of the ring by Wolfenbarger before he could get past 2. This distraction allowed Barry to recover and hit the Saturday Night Special on Bernie, which led to the win for "Mr. Saturday Night". After Barry and Wolfenbarger left, Tool stood in the ring with an unhappy Bernie. A VERY unhappy Bernie. As Tool tried to help Bernie to his feet, Bernie shoved him away and angrily asked where Tool had been while he was being beaten up in previous weeks. Supposedly, he had "friends", but no one wanted to help him. Then, in a shocking moment, he said that Brad Michaels could take the tag team title belt and shove it up his ass because he quits!!! With that, Bernie stormed off up the ramp and (apparently) out of IZW.
Gary Tool was obviously upset by this, even though a small section of the crowd was chanting "Let him go!". But it begs the bigger question. If Bernie D is Gary Tool's best friend, then why won't he come out of retirement one time to assist him in regaining the tag team title? While Tool is a highly respected veteran in Oklahoma and a former commissioner for IZW, he never held any titles in the state. Perhaps the answer stems back to Tool's retirement in 2008. At the time, Bernie D was the commissioner of IZW and had agreed to tag with Bernie against Brad Michaels and Johnny Z in a Lumberjack Match at Evolution in 2008 in Oklahoma City. During that match, Bernie D turned on Tool and rejoined Impact, Inc., costing his team the match. But more importantly, he cost Tool his career as a pre-match stipulation forced Tool to retire if his team was not victorious. While Tool and Bernie may be best friends now, it's certainly likely that they were not that close for a time after this match. As was stated earlier, people can set aside events in pro wrestling and exist outside in the real world. But for both men, this issue has struck deep personal feelings and threatens to overwhelm their bond if it's not resolved soon.