The Legend of Masked Superman I

hans_schnabelIn 1940 a man by the name of Masked Superman took the Allen Athletic Club in Louisville by storm. His dirty tactics and roughhousing drew the ire of the fans who hated him so much, they turned up in larger and larger numbers every week, hoping to see him unmasked.

In early 1941 Masked Superman was unmasked by Orville Brown. The man beneath the mask was Hans Schnabel, the son of German immigrants, and a native of New York state. Schnabel was no stranger to the Louisville fans. He had made numerous appearances for the Allen Athletic Club beginning back in 1935. But the run he had in 1940 and 1941 was so successful, he launched a steady parade of masked wrestlers that would continue throughout the Allen Club’s history

Schnabel was born Herbert Moeller in Rye, New York in 1908. His parents had two sons, Fritz and Otto, who were both born in Germany. Their mother died shortly after young Herbert was born, a victim of the flu epidemic that struck New York in 1910. The family moved to Connecticut not long after Herbert’s mother passed.

Herbert contracted Polio at age 8. The disease affected both his legs, but his right leg suffered the worst. It was a long recovery for the young man, and brothers Fritz and Otto would pull him around town in a wagon for the next two years. Herbert slowly learned to talk again, but he was left with a club foot. He eventually fully from the disease and his right leg returned to a normal position, but he was always self-conscious about his legs. He wore sweats throughout his career as a result.

Herbert took a job in a factory as a teenager before embarking on a new career as an auto mechanic with his brother Fritz. They opened a garage in Connecticut and were very successful, but Herbert dreamed of two things: seeing the country, and wrestling. When Fritz saw the money that was possible in pro wrestling, he too took an interest, and the brothers decided to leave the garage for what they hoped would be a more lucrative future.

When the time came to choose a ring name, Fritz and Herbert decided to honor their mother by adopting her maiden name, Schnabel. Herbert chose to work under his childhood nickname Hans, and together, the Schnabel brothers broke into the wrestling world.

During the early 1930s the Schnabels worked for promoter Jack Pfefer, wrestling mainly in New York and Ohio. In 1936, Hans was offered his first shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, but shortly before the match, Hans became so ill, he had to withdraw. Dave Levin took his place and won the Title on a disqualification.

Later that same year, Fritz and Hans left for a tour of South Africa. When they returned to the United States, they were joined on the road by brother Otto. Otto had a tag partner from Denver who wrestled under the name of George Schnabel, but was no relation.

Schnabel worked in Louisville during the late 1930s and had his highly successful run as Masked Superman during 1940 and 1941. By the late 1940s Hans and Fritz were working for promoter Fred Kohler in Chicago as well as several promoters on the West Coast.

By the early 1950s Fritz was ready to get out of the business. He was 45 years old and didn’t have the desire Hans had to continue. Fritz came to Louisville before hanging up the trunks in 1951 for a one night stand as a masked wrestler named Big Red. He appeared once more in a tag match with Bill Longson, looking for revenge against the man who unmasked him, the mysterious “Mr. X.”

With his brother gone, Hans teamed up with his long time friend Lou Newman and wrestled as the Iron Russians. He also worked with another famous mask, “The Zebra Kid” George Bollas.

In 1952 the Masked Superman story came full circle for Schnabel in an interesting way when he appeared on television with TV’s Superman, George Reeves. Schnabel appeared in the episode “No Holds Barred” playing a wrestler working for a crooked promoter. The life long heel did the job at the end of the show for the Man of Steel.

Hans Schnabel’s final match, according to his son Phil Moeller, was in May 1960. Hans Schnabel retired at the age of 52 after a career spanning 26 years. He wrestled all across the United States, Hawaii, South Africa, and Japan. The young boy who suffered a devastating bout with Polio overcome life’s hard knocks and become one of professional wrestling’s greatest heels.

Hans Schnabel passed away on July 2, 1980. He is buried in Chatsworth, California.

Forget WWE 2K17, Here Comes CHIKARA

Full disclosure: I’m a CHIKARA fan. I have been since I interviewed Mike Quackenbush and profiled the promotion in the book Eat Sleep Wrestle. I love the gimmicks. I love the insanity. I love the masks. I love the creativity.

And yes, I’m a paid subscriber to CHIKARAtopia.

CHIKARA’s looking for help from their fans and fans of wrestling games. They’re developing a CHIKARA themed video game, and they’ve just launched an Indiegogo campaign to make it a reality. They’ve got some really nice incentives for supporters, including T-shirts, copies of the game, and subscriptions to CHIKARAtopia.

Click play to see the preview below. Then go to Indiegogo to support their campaign!

Timmy Lou Retton on Kick Out at Two


His name will make you smile.

His photos will make you laugh.

His work in the ring will make you cheer.

I’m very excited for this week’s Kick Out at Two Podcast because they’re featuring one of the most talented young wrestlers I’ve seen this year. Timmy Lou Retton, as the name suggests, is a red, white, and blue phenomenon. He’s a gymnast who can leap, tumble, and do the splits, but he’s also a great athlete and a brilliant young talent. The sky’s the limit for this kid, and when you see him in action, you will become a fan!

Download the Kick Out at Two Podcast every Friday on iTunes and Soundcloud!

For the Love of Rico

Word has been circulating for the last few days about Rico Costantino’s health issues. If you’re looking for the real story, here it is.

Rico has been ill for a long time now, and his health problems have come to a head. He is suffering from heart trouble and has a blood clot in each lung. He’s been out of work since May and has no income to speak of right now.

At least two GoFundMe accounts have been set up for Rico, but as of this writing, they have not been verified by anyone close to Rico. Attempts have been made to contact the people behind these fundraisers and inquire how they plan to get the money to its intended source, but no one is responding.

This is NOT intended to say that these accounts are fraudulent; I do not have enough information on them at the moment to say either way.

The best way to send money to help with Rico’s medical bills is through his  Paypal account, wweRicoConstantino@gmail.com. If you do not have a Paypal account, you can send an email to the address above, and they will invoice you through Paypal. You can then pay with a credit card without setting up an account. You can also contact Kenny Bolin through his Facebook page, and Kenny will make sure you get an invoice to send payment.

Rico is one of the genuinely nice guys in the business. It was my pleasure to interview him for Kenny Bolin’s book, and I can tell you, he is a humble guy with no axes to grind and nothing but gratitude for the opportunities he had in professional wrestling. He had nothing but love and good thoughts about his former manager, who has spearheaded the Paypal fund drive, and the feelings are mutual between the two. Despite being almost the same age, Bolin considered Rico to be the son he never had.

This is no gag, no money grab. This is a guy with a big heart reaching out to help the brother and friend who would never ask for it, even in his most desperate time.

The Legend of Wild Bill Cantrell

If you’re a fan of racing on the road or the water, the name Wild Bill Cantrell might sound familiar. Cantrell’s wrestling career was not a long one, lasting not even a decade if we go by newspaper dates, but Cantrell is duly enshrined in the Motorsports Hall of Fame for another sport: Unlimited Hydroplane Racing.

Not much is known about Cantrell’s early days. He was born in West Point, Kentucky in 1908, and by his account, his family lived in “dire poverty.” Despite his early disadvantages, Cantrell was an ambitious young man, competing in his first boat race in 1924.

Cantrell was piloting an Outboard motor in a race on the Ohio River early in his career when he lost control of his boat and crashed through anchor chains and moored spectator vessels. The incident earned him the nickname “Wild Bill,” one he proudly wore in all of his sporting endeavors. Cantrell scored his first major boat victory in 1927. Only 19 at the time, Cantrell won the Ohio Valley Championship for Class B Outboards.

Cantrell took up wrestling in the early 1930s at the Savoy Club, where he first got to know matchmaker Heywood Allen. Cantrell was one of many who followed Allen when he went into business for himself. He appeared on the inaugural card for the Allen Club in 1935, appearing as the Louisville representative in a “Louisville vs. Kentucky” match against Billy Fruechtenicht. Cantrell lost the match.

Cantrell once squared off with one of the greatest heels in wrestling history, though a the time, the heel had yet to come into his truest form. On September 28, 1937, he defeated a dark-haired Californian named George Wagner, who was a few years away from becoming the legendary heel Gorgeous George. In 1939 he wrestled “Sailor” Bully Curry as well as Lon Chaney – who it turns out was no relation at all to the iconic horror movie family.

Cantrell was a regular for the Savoy and later Allen Clubs who came out on the winning side more often than not, but Cantrell’s first love remained racing. He continued to compete in boat races throughout the 1930s, and he may likely have dabbled in other sporting arenas as well. A July 1935 article about the Allen Club lists Cantrell, then 27, as the Deputy Game and Fish Commission warden.
Cantrell’s last match was at the May 17, 1939 show at the Sports Arena. Cantrell scored one last victory over Pasha Biram Bey and bid the ring farewell.

For the next decade, Cantrell divided his time between auto racing and boat racing. He set track records all over Indiana in 1940 and 1941, but his career nearly ended early when he broke his neck in a crash in Evansville during 1941. Cantrell recovered and resumed his pursuit of speed.

In 1948 Cantrell ran in his first Indianapolis 500, running 161 laps in the fabled race. He returned a year later and only managed 95 laps in his second go-round.

Despite a disappointing finish in the Indy 500, 1949 proved to be a break out year for Cantrell. He won five of six major championships in Unlimited Hydroplane racing that season, including the coveted Gold Cup in Detroit. George Davis, a friend who was dockside for the victory, recalls Cantrell’s reaction when he won the top prize in his sport. “When he came in by the judge’s stand, Bill got out of the cockpit and kissed the deck of the boat! Then he pulled his old dollar watch out to see what time it was.”

Cantrell survived another brush with death in 1952 when his boat exploded during a race. A rescue pulled his unconscious body from the wreck as the boat burned to the waterline. Cantrell spend 46 days in the hospital that time.

Cantrell continued racing for two decades more, winning the National High Point Championship again in 1963. He was the back-up driver for a race in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 1968 when he officially competed for the last time. At the age of 60, Cantrell boarded the boat dubbed Roostertail for one final ride. “Cantrell’s last appearance in competition was at the 1968 Diamond Cup in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, at age 60 as a relief driver for Jerry Schoenith in GALE’S ROOSTERTAIL.

“When I came up for the start, I wasn’t afraid to go fast,” he said, “But I didn’t want to go fast.”
Wild Bill finished in second place in Heat 2-A. Right after the race, he told a radio interviewer, “This is my last race.” Wild Bill’s amazing ride was finally at an end.

Wild Bill Cantrell stayed active in the sport, even though his racing days were over. He moved to Madison, Indiana, home of the Madison Regatta, and he worked as a consultant for the Cooper Express team among others.

Cantrell was known to be a fan of the fairer sex, but he never married, saying his first love would always be the boats. He was enshrined in the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1992 and remained one of the sport’s most beloved and revered ambassadors.

Wild Bill Cantrell passed away in 1996. Six months later the people of Madison honored him by naming the Governor’s Cup Race Course at the annual Regatta the Wild Bill Cantrell Memorial Race Course. His ashes were scattered out in the waters, the same water Wild Bill first raced over in 1929 in a hydroplane named Falls City Baby.

Wrestling was just a lark to Wild Bill Cantrell, a way to make a few extra bucks when he wasn’t racing. Nevertheless, Cantrell played a vital role in keeping wrestling alive through turbulent times. His colorful personal, groomed in the ring, carried over to the race course, and hydroplane fans still cherish the memory of Wild Bill to this day.

Kick Out at Two Episode 50

For nearly a year, the Kick Out at Two Podcast has traveled the US looking for the best independent wrestling. This week marks a milestone, their 50th episode, and they’ve dedicated this week’s show to doing questions and answers from their fans.

The Kick Out at Two Podcast is dedicated to covering independent wrestling, and over the last year, they’ve traveled as far north as New York, as far south as Florida, and as far west as Nebraska from their home base in Tennessee. They’ve also interviewed legends like Jimmy Rave and Chris Hero and up and comers like Hitman for Hire Mr. Grim and Cold Stone Tim Boston. They’re always happy to hear about new talent, new promotions, and new shows, and they are true supporters of today’s indy scene.

I had the privilege of hanging out with Jesse and Brittany last Friday night at PWF: The Primus in Jeffersonville. In addition to seeing a great show, I got to introduce them to Mad Man Pondo and take them out for donuts at a 24/7 shop we have called Jeff’s Bakery. It was great to catch up with them, and I can’t wait to meet up with them again down the road.

Congrats on 50 episodes, gang. Here’s to many more!

Download the Kick Out at Two Podcast every Friday on iTunes or Soundcloud.

#SelfMandibleClaw: Aidan Blackhart’s Journey to The Gathering

Several months back I did a feature on Aidan Blackhart. If you’ve seen a guy coming to the ring with a Shakeweight, you know the guy I’m talking about. Blackhart had a dream at that time to wrestle at Bloodymania at the Gathering of the Juggalos, one of the most unique of all wrestling events hosted by the Insane Clown Posse. This summer, he checked that goal off his list. Blackhart (pictured below with Shane Mercer and Hy Zaya) offers his first hand account of his first ever trip exclusively for Eat Sleep Wrestle readers. 

14159095_533776366818186_2095518016_nIn 2015 I set a goal for myself. Wrestle at the Gathering of the Juggalos. Not only has wrestling been a huge part of my life, but so has music. The Gathering has been hyped up to me from many friends since it first started. So why not enjoy both my passions in one weekend. Not only were all my expectations met, they were blown out of the water.

First day i arrived around 7am from driving all night. We caught some rest before the first try out show. Waking up with about 30 mins to spare, my eyes had a feast of wonders to see as I made my way to the “Kayfabe” campground where the JCW stage was held. Got signed up and looked around at what appeared to be a LOT of backyarders and non wrestlers. Knowing they had little to no experience gave me room to shine.

First day we cut a promo, then had a match. I was paired with a juggalo named “karnage”. Stepped in the ring and he turned into a deer staring into headlights. Very fit headlights with a 10lb shakewieght coming at you. I busted him open with it while the ref was turned, then locked in “The Aidan Lock” and got the win.

After the first try out, Hy Zaya, Shane Mercer, and myself went on a search for food. Walking up to a gyro hut this guy was whacked out on god knows what, trying to make himself throw up. Shoving his whole hand into his mouth and reach into his stomach literally. Looked like he was giving himself the mandible claw. After that I knew it was gonna be a fun time. now when we someone that has too much on their plate, we tell them to do a self mandible claw.

Day two was similar, doing try out’s with the survivors of the first day. I still knew this was mine to conquer. Taking turns doing chops and other wrestling moves, while showing I had what it takes. After we went over everything, we were told to report back by 9pm for the Bloodymania Battle Royal.

I was so exhausted from wrestling, concerts, walking in the sun, barely eating, and excitement, i had to stretch out and catch a nap before the show. Woke up with about 10 mins to spare, groggy and stumbling from laying on the ground. Once the music hit my adrenaline went on over drive, made it to the final 3 and even hit someone with a G–damninator then eliminated him.

After the match I asked a friend if I could use their lawn chair to get comfy, then fell asleep through the rest of the show. Even though I missed a lot of great matches, I was there. Goals can be met no matter what you want to achieve. Nothing can top the feeling of doing something you thought would never happen, with great friends.

Follow Aidan Blackhart on Facebook and on Twitter

Corey Hollis on the Kick Out at Two Podcast!

Friday’s guest on the Kick Out at Two Podcast is Corey Hollis. Corey is a native of Alabama currently signed with the NWA. He currently holds the WrestleForce Tag Team Championship with Adam Page and is a former PWX Tag Team Champion.

Download the Kick Out at Two Podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud, and be sure to follow them on Facebook.

The Kick Out at Two gang will be at Pro Wrestling Freedom: The Primus tomorrow night! Come see the 12 man tournament featuring Jimmy Rave, Murder One, Chip Day, Hy Zaya, Shane Mercer, Aaron Williams, Jason “The Gift” Kincaid, and more. And be sure to say hello to my wrestling loving friends from the heart of Tennessee!

New Origins Wrestling Breaks New Ground

Sharing an exciting story today from my friends at the INC and TEN Networks on Roku. Friday night, New Origins Wrestling will host their first television taping for the TEN Network. If you have a Roku box, you’ll be able to see all the action for free. 

Here’s the write up today from TEN: 

14095981_1809851725913493_2851503436003660987_nGrowing up on the heels of her father, wrestling promoter Earl Kelly, Alicia Strange was no stranger to the turmoils and stress of managing a professional wrestling organization. Twenty years later she is still in love with the business that she was introduced to at the early age of 8.

“I was thirteen when I had to fire a wrestler for the first time. I was in charge of gathering all of the wrestler’s current licenses before the show and one wrestler refused to cooperate with any “little girl”. I was no bigger than his thigh, but in the end, he did not wrestle that night. The next show, every wrestler had their license out and waiting for me.” recalled Strange.

Today Alicia Strange is the owner and promoter of New Origins Wrestling (N.O.W) based in Irvine. “Being a second generation promoter is rare, but a second generation female promoter is almost unheard of. “ She may come in a small package, but she can match intensity and personality with the biggest guys in the arena,” said John Strange, Alicia’s husband, and N.O.W wrestler.

Alicia is now taking New Origins Wrestling to a whole new level. Last week she signed a television development deal with TEN TV to produce an N.O.W wrestling show for the channel.

“Being able to take New Origins to a worldwide television audience is a dream come true. Not only do we have the opportunity to showcase our wrestlers, but also showcase the quality is coming out of the great state of Kentucky,” said Strange. “Kentucky has always been a hub for the greatest professional wrestling in the country dating back to the early 1900’s. We are looking forward to presenting the next chapter in Kentucky wrestling’s great history”

Ten TV, part of the Moturoais Corporation, is available on the Roku platform worldwide. “Alicia has really carried the torch for her father in the wrestling business and we look forward to helping built the N.O.W brand on the world stage,” said Moturoais President of Operations Anthony Hudson.

New Origins Wrestling will tape their first televised event September 9th at the Estill County Fair barn in Irvine and begin airing on TEN TV mid-October.

For information on New Origins Wrestling, visit their Facebook Page

For information on the TEN Network and the INC Channel, visit their Facebook page

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