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The Legacy of Tracy Smothers

I got a call from Mad Man Pondo just after 10 a.m. this morning. That’s when I found out Tracy Smothers had passed away. Pondo let me know that the word wasn’t officially out yet. They were still telling friends and family. Given that Pondo was telling me two hours after he found out, I couldn’t help but remember one of Tracy’s many famous lines.

“Tell a friend, telephone, tell a wrestler.”

Tracy was a funny man. He was a strong man, strong enough to fight three bears, survive riots at the ECW arena, escape bar fights in Southeast Asia, and even whip cancer. Sadly, cancer came back for the rematch, and the toll it took on his body in the first fight proved to be just too much for him to carry on with this fight.

I’m going to miss him. I’m going to miss his phone calls when we talked about football and politics. I’m going to miss his texts and hearing him repeat some of his favorite stories. I’m really sad he won’t be around to see the Candido book in print because he’s the reason I started writing it.

I’m incredible grateful I got to know Tracy. I will be honest, I was afraid to approach him in my early years writing about the business. He was a legend, and I have a hard enough time approaching the future legends to say, “Hello, my name is…” It’s silly when I think about it because the biggest impression I took away from watching him at D1W in New Albany (outside his amazing dance steps, of course) was what he did during all the matches that preceded his on every show.

Tracy watched every match. Every single one. And as I later found out, he didn’t just watch. Any guy or girl who wanted feedback got it. It was positive. It was encouraging. It made them better.

Fans who know Tracy Smothers from his days with SMW, WCW, ECW, and the indies know what a remarkable legacy he built inside the ring, but the guys and ladies who worked the indies the last two decades will tell you his greatest legacy is one most fans don’t know. It’s the way he poured his heart into the aspiring wrestlers he met in the gyms, the warehouses, the skating rinks, and everywhere else he wrestled these last twenty years.

Tracy’s legacy is ladies like Jessie Belle, who many people to this day believe is his real daughter. (Sorry, didn’t mean to break kayfabe.) It’s in Mickie Knuckles, another Smothers daughter who earlier today described Tracy as the only true father figure she ever knew. It’s in Amazing Maria, Khloe Belle, and all the other Smothers daughters he took under his wing.

His legacy includes guys like CM Punk, who tweeted earlier about Tracy being the first legend he ever worked. It’s in Edge and Christian who found a caring mentor who poured himself into them when they first came to the States. It’s in Mr. Brickster. It’s in Corey Storm. It’s in every young guy and lady who worked in the locker room with him at ASW, AIW, IWA Mid-South, D1W, KZW, and other promotions too numerous to mention.

Tracy’s generosity extended far beyond the locker room. He was always available to anyone by phone, text, or Messenger. (He never had an email address that I know of.) He remembered the kids who wanted his counsel, and he kept tabs on them. He reached out when he saw them have a great match. He boosted their spirits when he heard they’d been hurt.

To fans he was Tracy. To the wrestlers he was “Pops.” He loved his kids more than he did wrestling, and when he left us this morning, he did so having left everything in the ring and the locker room.

Tracy’s impact will be felt for years to come in this business. He left a wonderful collection of matches for us to enjoy, but more than that, he left a piece of himself in every man and woman who ever asked him, “Hey, did you see my match?” You’re damn right he saw your match, and if you were willing to listen, Pops would encourage you, make you better, and keep tabs on you online and on the road.

I’m so sad that he’s gone. I’m going to miss him, but I know he loved the Lord, and I trust I will see him again one day. I’m happy he’s no longer suffering, and I’m excited to see all these Smothers kids carry on his legacy.

Until we meet again, rest in peace, my friend.

(Photo above by Jim Cornette.)

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Update on Tracy Smothers

I just got off the phone with Tracy Smothers. His first round with cancer is starting to look like a squash match compared to the second.

For those who don’t know, his cancer has come back, and the fight is already facing two major obstacles. One, he suffered heart damage due to the heavy chemo in round one, and he’s been hospitalized a few times as a result of that. Two, he also just had surgery nine days ago for a hernia.

Tracy’s ready to fight this cancer as hard as he did last fall, but the heart problems have delayed the cancer treatments and the hernia issue has delayed doctors from treating the heart issues. He’s in a real battle.

Tracy is in it to win it, and he sends his love to all his friends and his wrestling family, and he is asking for prayers.

Tracy also asked me to plug his book, the Go Fund Me, and all the benefit show in Bartonville, Illinois this weekend raising money for his medical expenses. You can find links to all that below:

Order Tracy’s book on Amazon.com

Order Tracy’s book signed from Eat Sleep Wrestle.

Go Fund Me organized by Lincoln Mosely.

October 31 Benefit show in Bartonville, IL

If nothing else, please click here to go to Tracy’s Facebook page. Leave him a note and let him know you’re rooting for him.

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Mickie Knuckles Triumphs at Night of the Living Girl Fight

There were sixteen ladies booked for the October 2020 edition of Girl Fight Wrestling. Five canceled due to Covid-19, and one had to bail last minute due to a family emergency. The ten ladies that remained put on one of the best shows in the promotion’s history.

I missed independent wrestling like crazy over the last nine months, but I can honestly say if I had to go another nine months without an indy show, this one would hold me over. Top to bottom, it was one of the most entertaining nights of pro wrestling I’ve ever attended.

The great action started with the very first bout when Hawlee Cromwell took on Arie Alexander. Alexander was a new face, and the girl with sunflowers all over her wrestling gear proved to be a very equal match for Cromwell. Alexander won over some fans and took the match from the Girl Fight veteran.

Next up was the much anticipated Jeffersonville debut of Heather Reckless against another diminutive grappler Valentina Loca. Loca made enemies of the crowd with her loud mouth and smart aleck comments right from the start while Reckless stole the heart of every child in attendance. The Seth Rollins trainee quickly won over the older fans as well with her wrestling and submission skills. Loca and Reckless were great from start to finish, where Reckless claimed a win over the brash girl from New Mexico.

Blair Onyx entered the ring next followed by her challenger, the masked Pizza Cat, Jr., aka fan favorite Billie Starkz. After silencing a few smart marks in the back of the room with her death stare, Onyx struck fear in the heart of poor Pizza Cat by bending backwards into a bridge and crawling like a spider toward her feline foe. It was impressive to watch the young Starkz/Pizza Cat put on a different persona in the ring, but Onyx was equally impressive with her acrobatic skills and flexibility. In the end the cat beat the spider as Pizza Cat got the pin.

The last match before intermission was a grudge match between Mickie Knuckles and Charlie Kruel. Still fuming from the last Girl Fight show when Kruel cost Knuckles a victory against Susie, Mickie took the fight to Kruel. Mickie’s humor was back in full force as well. “You’re crazier than I am, and that’s REALLY saying something,” she told Kruel early in the match. Mickie later made everyone question who the crazy one was by picking Charlie’s nose and feeding her the booger. Then after a slow count from the referee, Mickie warned the official, “You’re getting licked tonight. I don’t care if there’s Covid!” Knuckles got her revenge, winning a hard-hitting contest.

Only one match remained after intermission, and that was the Broad Brawl for the vacated Girl Fight Championship. Heather Reckless and Billie Starkz started off the Girl Fight version of the Royal Rumble, and a new competitor joined in every 30 seconds until 10 ladies total had entered. In addition to Onyx, Cromwell, Loca, Knuckles, Alexander, and Kruel, the ladies were joined by Hannah Henderson and Larry D’s wife Paige.

All ten ladies made it into the ring before the eliminations began. Heather Reckless was the first to go, followed by Valentina Loca, Arie Alexander, Blair Onyx, Hannah Henderson, and Paige. Charlie Kruel then shocked the fans by tossing Billie Starkz over the top rope, leaving Kruel and Cromwell to face the only former champion in the match, Mickie Knuckles.

Twice, Cromwell and Kruel made a run at Knuckles trying to knock her over the top rope. On the second attempt, Mickie pulled down the top rope and gave the younger ladies a nudge. The bell sounded, and Mickie Knuckles became the two time Girl Fight Champion.

I can’t say enough about how hard the ladies fought tonight. This is a must-see event when it hits streaming and DVD for anyone who loves Girl Fight or women’s wrestling in general.

Girl Fight’s next event is yet to be announced, but Mad Man Pondo teased the possibility of a Midnight Girl Fight show the night before Thanksgiving. If past years are any indicator, it will be a raucous crowd and another great night of women’s action should it come to pass.

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Coming in 2021

Tracy Smothers never hesitated when asked who was his favorite opponent of all time. “Candido.” He couldn’t sing Chris Candido’s praises enough, and he lit up every time we talked about Chris. It was Tracy who said that Chris Candido should be my next book, and it was Tracy who put me in touch with his good friend Jimmy Shoulders, who in turn put me in touch with Chris’s family.

Jonny Candido and I have been working hard to put together the biography of one of the most beloved wrestlers ever to set foot in a locker room. Some call him a wrestler’s wrestler, and some argue that he was one of the most gifted men ever to set foot in the ring. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who loved the wrestling business more. His story has a tragic ending and plenty of drama, but it’s absolutely inspiring. Chris Candido truly lived and breathed professional wrestling, and I’m very excited to announce his biography will be released in early 2021.

Chris is not the only project now in the works for next year. Hot on the heels of the Elvira Snodgrass biography, I’ve just started working with one of the toughest women ever to set foot in the squared circle. Princess Victoria was poised to be one of the top women’s stars in the WWF before her career-ending accident in 1984. She was one of the first WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions, and she worked incredible matches with Velvet McIntyre, Wendi Richter, Sherri Martel, and more.

But wrestling is only a small part of the story. Vicki Otis was a warrior long before she became a professional wrestler. She endured a horrific childhood and unimaginable abuse. She survived, escaped, and ran off to pursue her dream of becoming a professional wrestler. Vicki’s tale is inspiring in a different way than Candido’s, and it is our hope that people who have endured similar backgrounds will find inspiration in her tale.

Candido’s book is entering the home stretch, and we’re shooting for an early 2021 release. Princess Victoria is just getting under way, but I’m hopeful for an early 2021 release for that book as well.

There’s more on the table for 2021, including a few more historical biographies and a new novel that has nothing to do with wrestling, but suffice to say, we’ll be kicking 2021 off in a big way.

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A Monstrous Card for Girl Fight Saturday Oct 17I

Girl Fight returned with a bang just two weeks ago after a ten month absence from Southern Indiana. Saturday night, the ladies return to Jeffersonville for what may be one of the biggest Girl Fights yet: Night of the Living Girl Fight!

The time has come to crown a new champion, and an open invitation has been sent out to any and all ladies who want a shot at the gold. The main event Saturday October 17 will be the Broad Brawl, a Royal Rumble-like battle royal, and the last woman standing will be the new champ. Dozens of old and new faces have already announced their intentions to participate in the main event including Kayla Kassidy, Hannah Henderson, Megan DiFrancisco, Arie Alexander, Destiny, Sabrina Hexx, and Hawlee Cromwell. It could be anyone’s night!

Three more outstanding matches will precede the main event this weekend. Following their confrontation at the end of the last Girl Fight show, former champion Mickie Knuckles and Charlie Kruel will face off in a grudge match. Billie Starkz will also be in action against Blair Onyx, and at long last, finally, Heather Reckless will make her Southern Indiana debut for Girl Fight wrestling Valentina Loca.

There’s a reason I’m big on the 4’9″ Heather Reckless, and if you come out to the show Saturday, you’ll see for yourself. Bring some cash for the ladies’ gimmick tables and a book as well. I plan to have the Eat Sleep Wrestle bookstore open that night!

UPDATE: Night of the Living Girl Fight will take place at Girl Fight’s old home base Grindhouse Pro Wrestling Academy, 1416 Spring Street, in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Doors at 6 pm, bell time is at 7 pm. Front row $15. Advance general admission $10. Day of the show all tickets are $15.

To order tickets or get more information head to www.girlfightwrestling.com

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Susie Surprises and Terrifies at Girl Fight

I’ve seen Su Yung of Impact Wrestling in action twice before. Once on a show for Terry Harper, when she ended up in the lap of my seventeen year-old nephew, and once at Girl Fight. I was as disappointed as anyone last night when Impact Wrestling star Susie appeared for the main event go against Mickie Knuckles, but that disappointment gave way to terror as Susie took the ring and Mickie reacted to the surprise appearance.

It’s a shame Susie’s run with Impact has not played out in front of a live audience because I can tell you first hand, there’s something disturbing and ominous about her. Every time Mickie would put Susie on the ground and her face would be obscured for a time, you expected her to push the long, black hair out of her face and reveal the visage of Su Yung. That Su never appeared didn’t matter. The threat never went away, even after ref Charlene called for the bell and disqualified Mickie (thanks to some dubious intervention on Charlie Kruel’s part). Susie came in with her little girl wave and left with the same innocent wave, but she put a chill in the fans that packed the Park Place UMC gymnasium tonight.

Yes, Girl Fight Wrestling is back, and tonight’s event in a six-sided ring drew cheers from beginning to end. The evening began with Lily Lockhart defeating Bailey McRoberts and Megan DiFrancisco defeating Hannah Henderson. New comer Henderson made a big impression on the fans, many of whom crowded around her gimmick table at both intermissions to say hello. DiFrancisco made the opposite impression, angering fans with a big mouth and a bad attitude. She made you hate her in all the right ways.

The first part of the show concluded with the masked Seishin (formerly Tootie Lynn Ramsey) facing the dark Hawlee Cromwell. One of the joys of following this promotion is watching young wrestlers grow and develop. Seishin and Cromwell are part of the current “generation” growing up before our eyes, and their high energy battle could have main evented many independent shows I’ve attended. They won’t be occupying the first half of the show much longer.

The second portion of the show kicked off with another vocal heel, Nikki Victory, facing the returning Big Mama. Big Mama was even more vocal than Nikki, and while she is used to playing heel in her home promotion of NWF in Ohio, she reminded fans why they loved her before taking a break to have a baby. Nikki was a game adversary, but Big Mama powered her way to her first ever Girl Fight win.

The next match featured another of the current Girl Fight class’s signature stars, Charlie Kruel in a match against Salena Dean. Kruel’s psycho killer character has evolved from a one dimensional screamer to a personality that’s part Susie, part A.J. Lee, part Festus, and even a touch of U-Gene. She’s gleeful and wants to be friends – at least, she says she does. But the psycho killer comes out to play once the action starts, along with the piercing scream. Charlie took the win over Salena tonight and skipped away, waving to her friends in the crowd.

Next up was Skye Blue from Chicago facing the youngest and arguably the most popular star in Girl Fight, Billie Starkz. Starkz eats, sleeps, breathes, and dreams pro wrestling. It’s in her blood, and it permeates every part of her. She has an infectious smile and a playfulness that connects with the fans. She also continues to blossom on the ring, adding new weapons to her arsenal with each outing. Most fans believe they’re seeing a future mega star every time she takes the ring. Enjoy her while she’s here, folks. The tickets to see her will be much pricier in a few years.

I’ve often said that the Mickie Knuckles/ Dementia D’Rose vs. Amazing Maria/ Samantha Heights tag team match in Fort Wayne a few years back was my favorite live match of all time. I still stand by that statement, even after tonight, but for a time, Mickie Knuckles and Susie threatened to overtake that spot.

I already gushed about Susie’s character and the way she holds you in the palm of her hands, asking the question, “Will she or won’t she turn into Su Yung?” That said, I can’t overstate Mickie Knuckles’ role in the match. Mickie’s the veteran, a Chris Hero student turned locker room leader and teacher, and there’s a reason fans like me will never miss a match of hers if we can help it. Usually Mickie entertains with one liners, comedy spots, and a little – not make that a lot of referee abuse. That made her reaction to Susie all the more real. Mickie wasn’t about the jokes tonight. She was scared. She didn’t know how to handle Susie or even what to make of her. Susie acted creepy. Mickie made it feel real.

Sadly, we did not get a clean finish to what was otherwise a very entertaining main event. Charlie Kruel skipped to the ring while ref Charlene was out, found a folding chair, and gave Susie a whack on the back with it. She then laid the chair beside Mickie, just as Charlene came to. Those darn refs never believe the babyfaces when they say they’ve been framed, and Charlene disqualified Mickie in favor of Susie.

Susie kept us watching as she rose off the mat, her face obscured by her hair once more like the little girl from The Ring. But when she brushed her hair back to thank Mickie for the match, it was still creepy Susie and not Su Yung whose face we saw. Mickie demanded a match with Charlie, and Mad Man Pondo agreed to give it to her on the next show.

Mickie and Charlie will face off on October 17 at the same venue, Park Place UMC in Jeffersonville. Girl Fight will also present a battle royal-type match that will crown a new Girl Fight champion that evening. Oh yeah, and we will finally see the Girl Fight debut of Heather Reckless on the 17th. I’ve been singing her praises to Pondo and anyone else who will listen since seeing her in action at Cauliflower Alley Club in April of 2019. Fans, you’re in for a treat.

Head to www.girlfightwrestling.com to get all the info about the next show and find out how to order tickets.

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Girl Fight Returns September 26!

One of my favorite promotions is back, and I am finally going to see some live wrestling in two weeks!

Things were looking a little rough for Girl Fight Wrestling, even before the pandemic shut the wrestling world down. A monster card planned in January was canceled under somewhat suspicious circumstances. “Dad Man” Pondo was understandably discouraged, and many of the Girl Fight faithful were left wondering if they would ever run another show.

Eight months later, Girl Fight is reloaded and ready to go. The promotion that gave a boost to many current WWE, AEW, and Impact stars will host “Jawbreaker” on Saturday night, September 26 at Park Memorial UMC in Jeffersonville. Fans will see rising stars who are already Girl Fight favorites including Billie Starkz, Charlie Kruel, Hawlee Cromwell, Seishin, and Big Mama. They will meet new faces like Megan Difrancisco, Camron Bra’nae, and Bailey McRoberts.

And the main event? Oh, it’s a good one.

Mickie Knuckles vs. Su Yung.

If you know the names, you know how good this one’s going to be. Impact and Girl Fight fans already know how good Su Yung (aka Susie) can be. And Mickie? She only steals the show any time she makes an appearance at Girl Fight.

The good news is Girl Fight’s in a new venue with more room than ever before at a Southern Indiana show. The bad news is capacity is limited. (Stupid Covid.) The even worse news? Front row is gone, and the remaining general admission tickets are selling fast.

Head to www.girlfightwrestling.com to find out how to order tickets before it’s too late!

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Wrestling Bookmarks Presents The Deathmatch Round Table

Not a deathmatch fan?

Okay, full disclosure, neither am I. But I have all the respect in the world for the men and women who perform them. What’s more, some of the deathmatch wrestlers I know are among the very best performers you’ll see in a ring anywhere, even without the barbed wire. And this Thursday night, it’s my honor to share the spotlight with them.

Wrestling Bookmarks is bringing you a Deathmatch Roundtable starting Thursday August 27 at 8:30 pm eastern live on Facebook. Joining us to talk deathmatches will be Jeff Waldridge, producer of the deathmatch documentary Hardway, as well as Mad Man Pondo, Alex Colon, Akira, Shlak, Reed Bentley, John Wayne Murdoch, and more.

Join the Wrestling Bookmarks page to watch the video chat, and drop your questions in the comments below the video. It’s going to be a very entertaining night.

Click here to join the Wrestling Bookmarks group on Facebook.

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The Black Panther Jim Mitchell – in Color!

Chris Bergstrom at Facebooks’ Fabulous Ladies of Wrestling page recently started colorizing photos from his vintage wrestling collection and posting them online. I sent him a few to do for me, and they look amazing.

We’ll start today with the Black Panther Jim Mitchell. I sent him two of my favorite promo photos of Mitchell, and they are both posted below. Pretty cool to see these folks in living color for once.

You can purchase The Original Black Panther, my biography about Jim Mitchell, if you click here!