The Secret of Their Success

There are few independent tag teams on the same level as the Carnies. Over the last few years Nick Iggy and Kerry Awful have evolved from the boy and his dog gimmick to the dark and devilish act that has fans everywhere taking notice. Iggy is a master on the microphone, a born heat magnet who frightens children and infuriates their parents, and the pair can brawl with anyone from the Hooligans to the Bomb Shelter to the Baka Gaijin.

One needs only to see what happened after their match Friday night at Pro Wrestling Freedom to understand why the Carnies have not only become one of the best duos in. As soon as the match after theirs began, Iggy snuck out of the locker room, around the arena to the gimmick tables, and took a seat beside Brutal Bob Evans. Bob is the “Obi Wan Kenobi” of indy wrestlers, and while the show continued, Iggy sat for ten minutes and listened as Bob broke down their match.

The Carnies are the Carnies because they never stop improving. As talented as they are, it’s their humility and desire to keep on learning that fuels their continued ascension. They are a link in a chain that goes back decades, learning from Brutal Bob as he learned from those who came before him. What’s more, the Carnies are already mentoring guys younger than themselves, offering rides and wisdom to guys who are willing to show up and make the drives.

You are never too “good” to learn from others. Whatever field you are in, whatever your dream, seek out those who are more experienced, and learn everything you can from them. Then pass on what you have learned to those who come after you. That’s how everyone gets better. That’s how everyone succeeds.

Reunited: Bill Apter Interviews Dr. D David Schultz

It’s been a couple of decades since Bill Apter last interviewed Dr. D David Schultz. Last Thursday the two were reunited on Apter’s live video podcast. You can watch the replay below.

Dr. D will be back on Thursday night May 18 at 7 pm eastern time for part two with Bill Apter.

Autographed copies of Dr. D’s book are still available as well. $30 with free shipping in the US. Email johncosper@yahoo.com to order.

Indy Wrestling Show “Lacking” Compared to WWE

It had been a while since I attended a WWE show. At least a year. In that time I’ve attended a number of independent shows around town, extolling their virtues and hailing them as a better alternative to the corporate machine that is World Wrestling Entertainment. After attending Friday night’s Pro Wrestling Freedom show at the Jeffersonville Arena just a few weeks after seeing Smackdown Live, I can’t believe how blind I was. The WWE offers so much that independent wrestling shows just can’t deliver, there’s simply no comparison.

First of all most independents don’t offer you the chance to pay for admission by credit card. Pro Wrestling Freedom is one of many cash only promotions in town. If you want to get in, you have to go to the bank and get $15 cash from the machine for a general admission seat. It was so much easier and more convenient to go online and use my credit card to pay the $35 (plus $30 Ticketmaster fees) to get my upper arena seat for WWE.

Second, the independent show does not have a large staff of arena workers to sell $35 T-shirts and posters pre-signed by a select WWE Superstar. Do you know what they have instead? Actual wrestlers working the tables, selling their own woefully underpriced $20 T-shirts, along with wristbands, mugs, posters, photos, and even (in the case of The Bomb Shelter) energy drinks. Wrestlers like Tyler Matrix and Brutal Bob Evans were also signing autographs in person and even taking photos with their fans, all because the Arena and/or the promoter was too cheap to hire event staff.

That’s another thing you won’t find at an independent show. There’s no separation between “us” and “them.” At WWE Smackdown, the wrestlers (other than The Miz) hardly acknowledged anyone in the audience, and those who did only made eye contact with the front row. They did their business for the cameras and went back up the ramp, not to be seen again.

At Pro Wrestling Freedom it was pure pandemonium at times. Not only were wrestlers yelling at fans and fans at wrestlers, the action spilled out into the fans on several occasions. A stern announcer would occasionally get on the microphone and warn fans, “If the action is coming your way, grab your stuff and move!” sending fans scrambling around the Arena in search of safety.

This brings me to another thing missing from Pro Wrestling Freedom. There were no fans on their phones. There was no online chatter about the matches. More telling, there was no second guessing of promoter Jimmy Feltcher’s booking choices, wondering why this guy gets pushed over that guy and lamenting how much better things used to be. Instead of being good smart marks, who viewed everything they saw with a eye of a theater critic, they actually engaged with the wrestlers and the show as if it were a legitimate sporting competition.

Honestly, didn’t anyone in attendance Friday night know that everything that happened was pre-planned in the back? Did any of them realize that this was not real? It was just… entertainment?

All kidding aside, Pro Wrestling Freedom was entertainment. I can say the same for IWA Mid-South, for OVW, for Grindhouse, for Paradigm Pro Wrestling, and all the independent promotions in the Louisville area and beyond. Yes, these shows are “lacking” in the ways mentioned above, and to be honest, they are better for it.

Wrestling is alive and well. The more indy shows I attend, the more I appreciate the hard work of the men and women keeping it alive. It’s much more fun to go to a show where you’ll never hear a “Roman sucks” chant and where the wrestlers play to the crowd and not the viewers at home. And oh yes, it is a LOT cheaper to buy a ticket and support a wrestler directly by buying a shirt, a wristband, or even in my case, a mug. (Thank you for the stickers too, Nick Iggy!)

Pro Wrestling Freedom lacked nothing that the fans at the Arena were missing save one thing. Air conditioning. Let’s hope 2 Tuff Tony wasn’t working the crowd when he promised the “guy” is coming Monday.

Warning: Thomas Brewington Can’t Be Trusted

Thomas Brewington is a hero to many outside the wrestling ring. As a spokesperson for Dropkick Depression, he has been open and honest about his personal struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. His honesty and candor have helped those who struggle with depression see they are not alone, and his efforts have helped others to better understand what life is like for people who battle depression on a daily basis.

Thomas Brewington is a real hero – outside the ring. Inside the ring, he’s a real jerk, and he’s one of the wrestlers reinventing kayfabe.

Kayfabe, as it once existed, is indeed gone, but it is far from dead. It is evolving into something new. As previously discussed on this blog, Mr. Darius Carter is inventing it in his own way by refusing to give shoot interviews or sell T-shirts. And as much as Sami Callihan stunned the world when he smashed Eddie Edwards in the eye with a baseball bat, he stunned fans and colleagues even more when he refused to apologize for it, owning it on the best episode of Talk Is Jericho I’ve heard all year.

Which brings me to Brewington. A fan who attended a show not too long ago shared this note on Facebook:

To which Brewington gleefully replied:

“It was me.”

As word spread and fans and friends began to voice their reactions on Facebook, Brewington took things even further, posting countless spoilers on his personal page revealing the endings to everything from “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” to Wrestlemania III to “John Tucker Must Die.” He also left fans with this warning:

Kayfabe is not dead. It’s evolving, and even in 2018, a great heel can make even the smartest of marks hate their freaking guts.

Black Panther Items Up For Sale

The second round of Black Panther memorabilia has been split up into lots, and all lots and individual items have been posted on my Facebook page. These items are all headed for eBay, if not sold directly, and all reasonable offers are being accepted.

This is a rare change to get ahold of letters, personal documents including marriage certificates and tax returns, and other unique memorabilia.

Click here to go to Eat Sleep Wrestle on Facebook and see what’s available.

More Black Panther Jim Mitchell Memorabilia Available

A few weeks ago, I made my second trek to Toledo to pick up more memorabilia from the Black Panther Jim Mitchell. This time around I brought back his matching set of three suitcases, chock full of programs, letters, photos, and other mementos from his life in wrestling and afterward.

As before, the owner wants to sell this memorabilia. I’ve started posting photos on my Facebook page, where fans and collectors are welcome to make offers and buy items outright. Anything not sold there will go on my eBay store.

See some photos below to whet your appetite, then head to Facebook or eBay for more.

Whatever Happened to Huperfulagas? Louisville’s Wild Kingdom

In December of 1908 a Louisville promoter announced a special attraction to take place on January 1, 1909. A man from Africa named Huperfulagas, who claimed to be a descendant of Zulu royalty, announced his intentions to wrestle a live bull bare-handed. The Louisville Courier-Journal covered the lead up to the match closely, following along as Huperfulagas assisted the promoters in picking his opponent from the Bourbon Stockyards on New Year’s Day. Huperfulagas expressed no fear entering the match, proclaiming he would not be in the slightest danger, while the bull, he vowed, would not suffer more than “temporary discomfort.”

Huperfulagas squared off against the bull the night of January 1, 1909, wearing traditional native Zulu face paint and attire “somewhat modified to meet the local ordinances.” The results of this match did not appear in the January 2, 1909, edition of The Courier-Journal, but 50 years later, after a flashback story appeared in the paper, a former Louisville police officer named H. D. Browning wrote into the paper to share the results.
Browning was on duty the night of the match, and when the bull was led into the Coliseum at Fourth and A Streets, he appeared to be half-starved and not at all interested in the proceedings. The so-called Zulu prince spent 30 minutes twisting the hungry beast by the horns, trying to bring the creature down, but when Huperfulagas began bleeding from the nose, police stepped in and stopped the match.

“We led Huper to a chair and he nearly collapsed,” said Browning. “The bull seemed more hungry than wild. If it had been wild, Huper would not have lasted three seconds.”

While the bull wrestling match is certainly unique in Louisville’s wrestling history, it was far from the only man vs. nature battle to take place. Here’s a run down of some of the most memorable beasts to work the town during Louisville’s golden age of wrestling.

August 10, 1937. “Hillbilly” Lem Stecklin defeated Maurice La Chapelle in an outdoor show at the Swiss Park Arena. Stecklin was a hit with the fans because his brought his pet raccoon Oscar to the ring with him.

April 19, 1938. Whitey Govro took on an unnamed 450 pound bear during the Allen Athletic Club’s weekly show at the Columbia Gym. It was the first bear wrestling match hosted by the promotion and drew 1504 people. Govro took the victory that night.

October 11, 1938. Oscar the raccoon made his second Louisville appearance at the Columbia Gym, where his pal “Hillbilly” Lem Stecklin defeated Dick Griffin.

June 30, 1942. Ginger the Wrestling Bear made her first Louisville appearance working against two men: Buddy Atkinson and Floyd Bird. There were many different Gingers over the years. This particular Ginger was a 305-pound Canadian Black Bear trained by Roy Welch, who later partnered with Nick Gulas to promote Memphis wrestling. After Ginger successfully defeated Bird, but the Atkinson match was a no finish. Atkinson mostly ran from the bear the whole time.

January 21, 1947. In one of the final shows ever hosted by Allen Club founder Heywood Allen, a Florida man named Gil Woodworth astonished the Louisville fans by wrestling a live alligator. The seven-foot “orgy of terror” thrilled and frightened the crowd of 7300 fans but was no match for Woodworth, who also claimed to have been a stand-in for Johnny Weissmuller in the Tarzan films. Later that same evening, fans saw Woodworth marry Miss Perma Crook of Ripley, Tennessee in the ring, with women’s rapper June Byers standing in as her maid of honor.

January 6, 1948. Tuffy Truesdale claimed victory over a 500 pound alligator. Truesdale (whose name was also spelled Truesdell) was an alligator wrestling specialist and later trained one of the most famous wrestling bears, the Coca-Cola loving Victor.

January 26, 1950. Ginger defeated Moody Palmer at the Columbia Gym when he fell 25 seconds short of lasting five minutes with the 370 pound black bear.

May 6, 1950. Ginger defeated Pete Peterson and Floyd Bird in a two-on-one handicap match. Peterson and Bird worked as a tag team against Ginger and lasted 11 minutes and 15 seconds before Ginger pinned Peterson.

May 1, 1951. Tuffy Truesdale returned for an encore performance and topped his previous victory by defeating an 800 pound alligator.

July 10, 1951. Farmer Jones made his debut in Louisville defeating Flash Clifford. Jones had a pet pig who accompanied him, and both Jones and the pig became regular guests of the Allen Club over the next four years.

July 28, 1953. Farmer Jones and his pet pig faced off against Leo “The Lion” Newman. Newman had an animal mascot of his own, a 210-pound lion cub, who regularly accompanied him to the ring. Sadly for Louisville fans, promoter Francis McDonogh would not permit Newman to bring the lion with him.

May 18, 1954. Ada Ash became the first woman to take part in an inter-species bout in Louisville when she defeated a 6-foot long 200 pound alligator.

October 26, 1954. On this fateful evening, fans were promised a match between Fearless Lawless and a 400 pound grizzly bear, but the match never took place. Slated to go on last, the bear was to follow the tag match pitting Cyclone Anaya and Guy Brunetti against Stu Gibson and “Mystery Man.” When the crooked heel Gibson and his masked partner stole a victory by unsavory means, Anaya and Brunetti staged a sit down strike to protest. Fans stomped their feet in solidarity, creating such a commotion that the grizzly bear refused to climb the steps from the lower level to the gymnasium. Said the Courier-Journal story on October 27, “The belligerent bear, at last report, was at the bottom of the basement steps, resisting the efforts of a half-dozen handlers to get him to his truck.”

Where Will You Be Friday Night?

Louisville wrestling fans are in a quandary. In the wake of Tuesday night’s WWE Smackdown Live show, they must decide which independent show to attend on Friday evening.

The action starts at 6 pm at Waterfront Park, where OVW will present their third annual Run for the Ropes outdoor wrestling program. This will be the first Derby wrestling show under new owner Al Snow, who has already caught my attention by bringing back Mitchell Huff. OVW never disappoints, and fans on the waterfront can catch the action for the price of a Derby Pin.

Sixteen miles to the North, another promotion with 20+ years in the rear view mirror is going live on Powerbomb.TV at 6:45 pm. Faced with two other shows on the same night, Ian Rotten and IWA Mid-South are pulling out all the stops, bringing back “The Baddest Man Alive” Aaron Williams to face Nick Gage while the newly crowned tag champs the Gymnasty Boys vs. the Impact tag team champs, OVE.

Perhaps its fitting that on a night when OVW and IWA Mid-South go head to head, the upstarts at Prodigy Pro Wrestling (soon to be changing names) offer a main event pitting an OVW original against and IWA Mid-South original. After months of simmering tensions, Flash Flanigan will finally step into the ring with Hy Zaya for what should be a phenomenal main event. Bell time is 8 pm for this event, giving fans a chance to make their way across the bridge after the OVW show to catch most (if not all) of the action at the Jeffersonville Arena.

Who will win the matches? Who will win the war for butts in the seats? The real winner Friday will be the Louisville wrestling fans who get out and take advantage of any of these three amazing wrestling cards.

Support indy wrestling. Buy a ticket. Bring a friend. Buy merch. This is a truly great time to be a fan!

The Best of Past and Present at Heroes and Legends X

Jayson Maples has something special going in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Heroes and Legends is a twice a year fan fest and wrestling show that combines the past and present seamlessly, and my second trip to this event proved to be just as memorable as the first.

The tenth edition of Heroes and Legends took place Saturday at the beautiful Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, beginning with a fan fest at noon. Early arrivals had the opportunity to meet my good friend Dr. D David Schultz as well as Greg The Hammer Valentine, Madusa, Bob Orton, Mean Gene Okerland, Slick, Tatanka, Koko B. Ware, and Tito Santana. Mixed in with these legends and some great vendors and artists (including the super talented Erik Hodson, who designed one of my science fiction book covers were some of today’s hottest independent stars like Jimmy Jacobs, Sugar Dunkerton, oVe, Sami Callahan, Veda Scott, Jessicka Havoc, Sawyer Fulton and Kongo Kong.

At 6:30 the lights dimmed and it was time for some wrestling action. This year’s show was a much longer card than the Spring 2017 edition, and every match delivered. Regular readers will know I am a sucker for heels who get into it with the kids, and #TheDraw Sami Callihan made my night when he went after two little boys in the front row. Callihan looked like Tommy Lasorda going after an umpire after a bad third strike call, screaming red faced at the boys and pretending to kick dirt on their shoes.

The past mingled with the present during the show just as they did during the fan fest headlined by Tatanka taking on Kongo Kong in a tremendous main event. Tito Santana and Cowboy Bob Orton gave fans a thrill when they stepped in the ring with the Heroes and Legends tag champs, Legendary. Bob Orton shocked the crowd with an RKO out of nowhere that nearly blew the roof off the building.

Sugar Dunkerton promised a surprise guest manager for his match against Jimmy Jacobs the day before the event. After making his entrance, Sugar introduced WWF legend Slick as his manager for the evening. Reverend Slick has not lost a step in his years away from the ring and gave Sugar the backup he needed to defeat the Zombie Princess. Referee Max Recon even got into the action and did the “Zebra Trot” when Jimmy Jacobs refused to get into a dance contest with Sugar.

With his tenth show in the rear view mirror, Jayson Maples has turned his eyes to fall and the eleventh edition of Heroes and Legends. My sincere thanks to him for a great day of wrestling and nostalgia. Thanks as well  to all the fans who came to see Dr. D, and my sincere apologies again to those who did not make it in time before he had to leave.

Eat Sleep Wrestle at Heroes and Legends X

Attention Heroes and Legends fans:

Bring your spending money, because I’m bringing the whole catalog.

This is your chance to get Bluegrass Brawlers, Louisville’s Greatest Show, Eat Sleep Wrestle, Kenny Bolin’s book, Herb Welch’s book, and Seasons Beatings for only $10 each.

And oh yeah, Dr. D David Schultz will be with me, signing copies of his book for $30 each. Photo ops and 8 x 10 autographs will also be available.

Special bonus for the first four people who buy one of the $10 books: you will also get a copy of Lord Carlton’s book free. (We are clearing out the old edition in anticipation of releasing a new one this summer.)

See you in Fort Wayne.