What Was the Best Part of OVW 1000?

Ohio Valley Wrestling held its 1000th TV taping last night, beating WWE Smackdown to that mark by a few weeks. It’s an unprecedented achievement, and from all appearances this legendary promotion is not about to slow down.

The event was a sold out engagement in the heart of downtown Louisville at 4th Street Live, just a few blocks from the Louisville Gardens. Rising stars like Randall Floyd and Justin Smooth were given the chance to shine alongside legends like Billy Gunn and Tommy Dreamer. Fan favorites like Mr. Anderson, Paul Burchill, Michael Hayes, Randy Royal, and Simon Dean made return appearances. The hardcore legend Mick Foley put in a special appearance. Abyss was crowned the new OVW Heavyweight Champion. And Gilbert Corsey introduced the fathers of OVW – Joe Wheeler, Rip Rogers, Dean Hill, Jim Cornette, and of course, Danny Davis – to a rousing ovation.

It was a memorable night from top to bottom, but for this fan, the best part of the evening took place outside the ring. It happened in the walkways around the ringside area in the center of 4th Street Live, in the outdoor dining areas at Guy’s Smokehouse and other restaurants, and behind the cheap seat bleachers.

The best part was watching the passersby, who dropped by 4th Street for dinner or an after work drink. The best part was seeing the look of a ten year old boy in the eyes of three men in business casual attire, watching the action from behind the cheap seats.

They didn’t buy tickets. I doubt they knew wrestling was going on that night. It may have been years since any of them had sat down to watch any wrestling. Last night, for a moment, they were kids again, spellbound by the action of professional wrestlers doing what they do best.

By all indications, last night was not the last time such moments would be made, as Gilbert Corsey hinted there will be more shows at 4th Street Live. There certainly will be more shows coming from OVW, and more superstars emerging from the school. The legacy of OVW is in great hands thanks to new owner Al Snow, and the story of one of the premiere independent wrestling promotions is still being written.

Congratulations to everyone at OVW.

New Releases for Paperback and Kindle

Last week saw one new release in paperback and two Kindle releases from Eat Sleep Wrestle!

First up is the bedtime story “Good Night Ninja,” a collaboration between myself and my long-time friend Hy Zaya. Hy has always enjoyed sneaking selfies with sleeping passengers on wrestling road trips, and we decided to turn these delightful photos into a children’s book. Mad Man Pondo, Referee Man Bun, Jason Saint, Tyler Matrix, and Shane Mercer are just a few of the supporting characters in this short story.

Next up, the biography of Lord Leslie Carlton has finally come to Kindle. Kindle readers get all the same stories and images as paperback readers with one added bonus: the photos of Lord Carlton’s artwork inside the book are in color! 

Finally, I rereleased Louisville’s Greatest Show for Kindle over the weekend. This is actually an updated version of the book with expanded biographical profiles of Stu Gibson, Elvira Snodgrass, Blacksmith Pedigo, and “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell. The paperback edition was quietly updated as well, so if you haven’t yet read my favorite book out of the bunch, this is the time to do so!

Meet Mad Man Pondo and Hurricane JJ Maguire on November 3

November 3 is the first annual Rich City Comic and Pop Con in Richmond, Kentucky, and Eat Sleep Wrestle will be there. Joining me for this special event will be Mad Man Pondo and “Hurricane JJ” Maguire.

Mad Man Pondo is a deathmatch legend, a JCW Hall of Fame who released his autobiography “Memoirs of a Mad Man” this past summer. Pondo will be signing books and taking photos with fans as well as promoting his own Girl Fight Wrestling promotion.

“Hurricane JJ” Maguire is an unsung legend, the composer and co-author of over 100 wrestling themes. Maguire partnered with Jimmy Hart on songs like “Sexy Boy,” “Honky Tonk Man,” and the song from Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth’s wedding, “Together.” He also appeared in our recent short film, “War Chant Eddie.”

The Rich City Comic and Pop Con takes place at the Richmond Mall, and admission is free. Come meet Pondo, JJ, and myself and see all the other amazing vendors.

And be sure to “meet” my old pal Clive the Zombie at the Moturoais booth.

How to Turn Creepy Fans Into Gimmick Table Gold

Like most female wrestlers, Jordynne Grace is subject to the creepy, inappropriate messages that a small minority (at least I hope it’s small) of wrestling fans thinks is acceptable. It’s the kind of crap that was unacceptable before the #MeToo era and is absolutely inexcusable now.

Jordynne is a very sharp lady with a wicked sense of humor. At least I presume she is because she’s taken the creepy fodder DM’ed to her on social media and turned it into gold. Jordynne now not only offers a book of creepy DMs from fans, she’s turned some of them into a T-shirt.

The T-shirt and book are rated R content. Not the kind  of thing you can wear to your niece’s fifth birthday party, but perfect attire for a lot of wrestling shows.

Check out Jordynne’s book, T-shirt, and other merch on her website. And for heaven’s sake, guys, let’s lay off the creepy messages. It’s 2018. Act like it.

Anything You Can Do, They Can Do Badder

If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you need to watch the documentary High Heels.

This 30 minute film is a great introduction to some of the best heels in the wrestling business – none of which are men. Through interviews with classic stars like X-Pac and Booker T, High Heels explains the long-lost art of wrestling like a heel and why no one today does it. At the same time, it introduces you to ladies like Amazing Maria, Samantha Heights, and Madi Maxx who can still produce that old school heat on a nightly basis.

I’ve written about all three of the ladies above many times, and I’ve seen them in person. In a time when guys want to be cool heels, there are ladies who really don’t give a crap if the fans like them or not. They are as old school as they come, and they area a must-see any time they’re nearby.

High Heels is now streaming only on Amazon Prime. If you’re not a subscriber, you can get a free week’s trial. It’s worth your time, and very entertaining.

ALL IN Was Everything the Fans and Wrestlers Wanted

I’m not going to do a review of ALL IN. There’s not much I can add to the narratives already on the Internet, and at this point, it would be hard to express in a new and different way how ground-breaking, history-making, and above all FUN the show was. What I will tell you about is a moment that took place early in the evening before the main show began – a moment that had very little to do with wrestling and everything to do with how Saturday night changed wrestling.

My old friend Randy Pease – aka the man who lived with me for 9 months many years ago, allowing me full access to his wrestling book library and thus igniting my passion for the genre – bought tickets for the two of us directly across from the entrance stage at the Sears Center. We were thus directly in the path of a bank of spotlights that were inexplicably aimed directly into the faces of thousands of fans, obscuring our vision of the SCU vs. Briscoes match that kicked of the pre-show, Zero Hour. Midway through the match, the spotlights moved, angling upwards and out of our faces. The entire arena cheered, and Randy leaned in toward me to say, “They just did more listening to the fans than WWE has done in twenty years.”

I think Randy spoke for more than just the fans. Wrestlers have longed for an alternative to the machine that renames them, dresses them in yellow polka dots, and forces scripts into their hands. The Young Bucks and Cody have opened a new door. They forged a path for wrestlers to once again develop their own personas and most importantly have control over their own destiny. In doing so they’ve given the fans something they’ve been wanting for years: an alternative to the stale, cookie cutter entertainment that has dominated what was once a very diverse and truly unique form of sport.

Cody and the Bucks were listening to their hearts, to their colleagues, and to the fans. They responded, and the fans have responded in kind. Wrestling does not belong to one company. It never did. Here’s hoping this truly is the start of a new day – and not just another high spot on the Elite’s road to Wrestlemania.

What Was the Best Thing about Starrcast?

What were the best things about Starrcast 2018? Everyone has their own list, but here’s mine in no particular order (save the last one).

Hanging out with Randy Pease – an old friend who is the reason I started writing about wrestling in the first place.

Watching Macauley Culkin thumb wrestle Scott Steiner.

Meeting Dr. D’s fans.

Meeting Mark James.

The Katie Vick photo op at the Wrestlecrap booth.

Hanging out with the Wrestlecrap crew.

Meeting Bill Apter.

Watching Road Warrior Animal push Lex Lugar around in his wheelchair.

Seeing Erik Hodson’s amazing wrestling art work everywhere.

Meeting Jerry Lynn.

Seeing my friend and fellow author Brennon Martin again.

Visiting with some amazing podcasters, both those broadcasting and those just attending.

Joey Ryan shaking Dr. D’s hand.

Meeting Haku.

Shooting a video with Hurricane Helms.

And the absolute #1 best part of all – the amazing staff of volunteers who made the event possible. I’ve been to many comic cons and fan fests the last 10 years, and by far, Starrcast had the hardest working, most helpful, most responsive volunteer crew I’ve ever seen. Yes, there was congestion and chaos, but these amazing workers kept the gears moving, and everyone had a good time. They are the #1 reason I would recommend this event to any fan or vendor or wrestler considering where to invest their time and money in 2019.

Because you know, where there’s an ALL IN 2, there will be a Starrcast 2!

The Past Matters to Starrcast Fans

When Cody Rhodes received the ten pounds of gold, the belt his father Dust once held, it was Earl Hebner who handed it to him.

When Tessa Blanchard took the ring Saturday for the women’s match, Tully Blanchard and Magnum TA were waiting to wish her well at ring side.

Hangman Page and Joey Janela wrestled under the watchful eye of ECW legend Jerry Lynn. Tiger Hattori called the match for Marty Scurll and Kazuchika Okada. And it was the Macho Man’s own brother Lanny Poffo, Frisbees in hand, who unleashed “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal upon the Sears Centre Saturday night.

It was no surprise to me that the past mattered to the ALL IN crew. Cody is well known reverence for his father and days before wrestling was all about the WWE. What impressed me most this past weekend in Chicago was how many fans hold the past with the same regard.

Going into the weekend, I was very excited to meet Bill Apter and see not only the men and women who made wrestling great but the reporters and writers who have covered it for so long. It was no shock when my mouth dropped open as an elderly photographer introduced himself to Doctor D as George Napolitano. I love these people. That’s why I do what I do. But I know not every wrestling crowd is as enamored with the sport’s history as I am.

I honestly wasn’t sure how the Starrcast crowd would receive guys from wrestling past. I was very pleasantly surprised.

I saw it in all the fans who stopped by to say hello to Doctor D. Podcasters like the hosts of the Lapsed Fan Podcast and Internet wrestling reporters like “Docta D” from D.C. stopped by to show their appreciation and of course, buy “the best book ever written about rasslin’.” There were fans who traveled from all over the country and even as far as Amsterdam to come and say hello to the Doctor. We sold out every unsigned copy of the book we brought with us and were selling pre-signed books right up until the Doctor packed for home.

Fans who insisted in buying books included the aforementioned Jerry Lynn and Hurricane Helms. Shannon Moore, who we met three weeks earlier in Huntsville, Alabama, stopped by to say hello, and say what you will about Joey Ryan, but he went out of his way to shake Doctor D’s hand and say what a big fan he was.

I saw respect for the past in the line that quickly formed and helped Bill Apter sell out of the 20 copies of his book he brought with him. “My wife said I should bring more,” he said mid-way through the sales blitz. “I guess she was right!” I hear the other writers at the show did a brisk business as well, including the guys in the basement vendor hall. RD Reynolds at Wrestlecrap sold out of his inventory completely.

It was hard to miss the respect heaped upon the legends lined up at Starrcast. From Sgt. Slaughter to Ron Simmons, everyone had a line of fans waiting to say hello and take a photo. Haku was mobbed when he sat down to sign with his two sons on Saturday morning. Haku was also one of the most lovable, likable people I’ve ever met in this business – which somehow makes the legends of his toughness all the more terrifying!

Perhaps the best sign of respect was the T-shirt writer Brennon Martin spotted on a fan. Brennon, who authored a book about his grandmother Christine “Teeny” Jarrett, found a young woman with a homemade “Teeny” T-shirt in the vendor hall. Teeny was never a TV personality. She is known only to those who care enough to learn about the past beyond what one can glean from the WWE Network.

I was wrong about the Starrcast crowd, and I am glad I was! As Cody said Saturday night, wrestling does not belong to one company. It belongs to everyone who works in the ring and every fan at ringside. It’s exciting to see that the future of the business belongs to people who care about the past – especially the things that happened before the monopoly. It’s my honor to be one of those keeping those stories alive, and it’s a pleasure to be witness to the revolution of the 21st century.