Midnight Girl Fight Preview: Thunderkitty

Girl Fight Wrestling has granted Eat Sleep Wrestle total access to the roster for its second midnight show, Midnight Girl Fight 2: Howdy, Pilgrim! Today is part four of this series, featuring Thunderkitty. 

Girl Fight prides itself on presenting the best in independent women’s wrestling. The ladies who have been regulars or semi-regulars over the years are not cat-fighting,  hair-pulling divas. Fans know wen they come to see someone like Thunderkitty, they’re going to see a fight.

Like fellow competitor Hayley Shadows, Thunderkitty has had a match on WWE television, facing Carmella on Smackdown. She has enjoyed some stiff competition at Girl Fight, including an intergender battle with the notorious Tracy Smothers at their Gender Wars show. “My most memorable Girl Fight match was against Randi West a couple years ago,” said Thunderkitty. “She also has no problems punching a broad in the face.”

Thunderkitty intends on doing a lot of punching on November 21, when she faces the self-described “dog lady,” Cassandra Golden. “She’ll be up against someone that’s lived more than three of her lifetimes that ain’t afraid to fight a dog. Or a dog-lady. Or both at the same time.”

Thunderkitty is not just a competitor. She’s a fan of what Girl Fight has done for women’s wrestling. “There’s more women’s wrestling locally now for folks to go see. And it travels to different areas too.”

As with all the competitors, I asked her why fans should come out for the late night bell time on November 21. “Well, good wrestling obviously,” she began, “But seriously though, what have you got to do? You probably don’t gotta work the next day. Better than sitting at home chugging Nyquil because you have to deal with your family.”

Fans can see this match and more at Midnight Girl Fight 2 on November 21 at the Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana, 1416 Spring Street. Bell time is at 11:59 PM.

Midnight Girl Fight Preview: Hayley Shadows

Girl Fight Wrestling has granted Eat Sleep Wrestle total access to the roster for its second midnight show, Midnight Girl Fight 2: Howdy, Pilgrim! Today is part two of this series, featuring Charlie Kruel’s opponent for the event, Hayley Shadows. 

Hayley Shadows is no stranger to the Girl Fight scene, and she’s certainly no rookie like her opponent at Midnight Girl Fight 2. She faced Su Yung at a Girl Fight event in 2017, her favorite match at the promotion thus far, and she also made an appearance on WWE Smackdown facing Tamina. “I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity that I was given on Smackdown to go against someone like Tamina Snuka. By far my biggest achievement of my career so far.”

Shadows is also proud of her association with Girl Fight and welcomes every opportunity she gets to work with them. “Girl Fight gives women a chance to perform within themselves. Not only do we get to steal the show, but every single one of us gets specific roles. There’s no other company around here that does an all women’s show, every show. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of, and to grow, and learn from all the other women that get to be a part of it as well.”

Hayley is no stranger to her opponent, Charlie Kruel, and she’s looking forward to giving Kruel another beat down. “I’ve wrestled Charlie multiple times, and beat her every single time. I’m the original, and she can’t hold a candle to the one that’ll rip her head off of her shoulders!”

Shadows is excited to be a part of the second ever midnight show. “Not only is Girl Fight the only promotion that does a Midnight show, but it’s also filled talented women that strive at the chance of opportunity. We all work extremely hard to put on the best shows possible, and with it being at midnight you know it’s bound to get chaotic.”

Fans can see this match and more at Midnight Girl Fight 2 on November 21 at the Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana, 1416 Spring Street. Bell time is at 11:59 PM.

A Classic Rivalry Comes to the Arena

Every great hero is defined by the greatness of his enemies. Superman is great because of Luthor. Batman is great because of the Joker. Spider-Man is great because of the Green Goblin.

The same can be said for the legendary men and women of the squared circle. Careers are often defined by the rivalries that made them great. Flair vs. Steamboat. Rock vs. Austin. The Rock N Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express.

One of the greatest rivalries in modern times is headed for the Arena in Jeffersonville. Fans of Pro Wrestling Freedom have already come to expect greatness from both Chase Owens and Jason Kincaid, but they’ve yet to see the two go head to head in the Arena. That changes on Friday June 9.

Owens and Kincaid have battled each numerous times around the world. Theirs is a rivalry that helped to define a promotion, specifically NWA Smoky Mountain. These two men know each other inside and out, and their battles in Tennessee and beyond are legend to the fans who were there.

Take a look at the promo video put together by NWA Smoky Mountain chronicling this storied rivalry. Then head over to Facebook and get your tickets for PWF: The Crucible, Friday June 9 at the Arena in Jeffersonville.

The 1954 Derby Eve Wrestling Show

63 years ago today, the Allen Athletic Club presented a Derby Eve wrestling show at the  Columbia Gym. The show drew 2100 in attendance that night.

Baron Leone def. Wild Red Berry
June Byers def. La Claire
Johnny Valentine def. Menace via DQ
Tangara drew with Vic Holbrook
Menace’s manager def. Tommy Tucker
Notes: 2100 attendance for the Derby Eve show.

A Leadership Lesson from the Wrestling World

I’m not going to name names because it’s not important. You can fill in the blanks on your own, or go read Bluegrass Brawlers. I’d rather you look beyond the names, though to learn something about leadership.

A certain independent promotion was offered the chance to become the training ground for a national wrestling promoter. The opportunity had a huge upside for the tiny promotion: more money, more prestige, better talent, and big names. Soon the tiny wrestling promotion was filled with new students, all of them under contract to the bigger promotion. These new stars became an integral part of the weekly touring, television tapings, and storylines, and the little independent promotion flourished.

But there was a problem in the relationship between the big promotion and the little. Before long, a man at the corporate office began calling the man in charge at the little promotion and saying, “We need Wrestlers A, B, and C on the road this weekend!” The man at the little promotion would tell him, “Wrestler A is our champion, and B and C are in the main event of a show we’ve been promoting this weekend!” The man in the corporate office said, “I don’t care! These are OUR wrestlers, not yours, and we need them!”

You see, the man at the big corporate office hundreds of miles away never kept up with the action at the little promotion. He didn’t watch the show. He didn’t know who was a heel and who was a babyface. And you know what? He didn’t care. The man at the corporate office only cared about his own problems, and he didn’t care if solving his problems made trouble for the little promotion.

I’ve come to see that a lot of organizations end up like these to wrestling companies. Leaders and directors and bosses become so distanced from the action, they forget what it’s like to interact with customers and employees at ground level. They see their spreadsheets and flowcharts. They don’t see how their decisions impact lower managers, or employees. Or customers.

A good leader never forgets where he or she came from. They welcome the opportunity to be reminded of their roots. They take the time to look up from their computer screen, to go back to the beginning, to listen to the people doing the work.

Just a few thoughts for anyone who aspires to be a truly great leader.

No More Rasslin’ on WHAS: 1953

A few months ago I posted a story here about how WHAS began broadcasting live wrestling from the Columbia Gym in Louisville. The show went on the air in the spring of 1950 and was abruptly canceled in September of 1953. Turns out there was a reason for the show’s sudden disappearance.

The weekly wrestling program presented by the Allen Athletic Club was the highest rated show in the Louisville television market, much to the delight of sponsor Fehr’s Brewery and much to the dismay of the so-called defenders of good taste. Those who longed to see the show yanked from the air got their wish thanks to an on-air interview not with a wrestler, but with a fan.

WHAS sports director Jimmy Finegan, who called the action during the weekly program, would interview fans about the action in between bouts. One week, a fan who was upset over the actions of a negligent referee became a little too colorful with his language, and as it turns out… that was that.

The Allen Athletic Club had a brief run on WAVE-TV a few years later when they ran on Friday nights, but it only lasted a few months. One of the aforementioned defenders of good taste wrote a scathing article for the Courier-Journal in 1961, celebrating the demise of professional wrestling on the local air waves so many years before. Little did he know that Memphis would come to town nine years later, making live and televised wrestling bigger than ever in the River City.

Incidentally, Fehr’s Beer is poised to make a comeback in the Louisville area just a few weeks from now. A recent post on their Facebook page promised that the first batch of Fehr’s XL, made from the original recipe, will be available shortly after Thanksgiving.

You can read the original story about wrestling on WHAS by clicking here.

A Louisville Slugger in Japan – Day 3

Update from Austin, who got to watch the NXT Dallas special with Masato Tanaka, who tweeted the photo below of Austin and several other trainees staying up late for the show.

CfCca2hUEAAfE3I.jpg-large

“Day 3 in Japan. Day 2 of training. The training is tough, but the dojo is like a family. We live together, eat together train together and wrestle together. Everyone has been very open and helpful. I have learned so much in just one day.

“Wrestling here is 100% different than the states. Everyone does their part, from the young boys to the gaijin all the way to the veteran Japanese wrestlers. It’s a great atmosphere.

“Exploring the city and temples was amazing. There is so much to experience here and so much to learn. Its still crazy to me that I’m here. I woke up this morning and could not believe where I was and what I am doing. I am humbled and honored to have this opportunity.

“A few people for people state side too look up. D-man (Canada) Shaun Guinness (Ireland).”

Austin’s posting photos on his Facebook page daily. Click here to follow him and see what he’s been up to!

Bluegrass Brawlers on tour – September 24

BluegrassBrawlers-coverI’m very happy to announce I’ll be giving my first live presentation based on Bluegrass Brawlers later this month in Owensboro, Kentucky.

The talk will be held at the Daviess County Library in Owensboro, KY on September 24 at 6 PM Eastern. I had the privilege of visiting the same library a year or so ago for a screening of a short film I wrote called The Telemarketer. It’s a gorgeous place, and they’ve got a full calendar with all sorts of special events and speakers. They even had an acclaimed independent horror film made inside that building.

I’ll be sharing stories about Ida Alb, William Muldoon, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, Heywood Allen, Jerry Lawler, Jim Cornette, Kenny Bolin, and John Cena. Over 130 years of wrestling history in Louisville.

The event is free, and I will have copies of the book available to purchase. If you’re a wrestling fan and in the area, I hope to see you there!

A few Bluegrass Brawler reviews

BluegrassBrawlers-coverThe Humble Book Giant recently posted a very nice review of Bluegrass Brawlers on his blog. The Giant is a Louisville area native and a wrestling fan, and while he normally doesn’t do sports books, he had some nice things to say about the book.

Read the Humble Book Giant’s review here.

The Pro Wrestling Historical Society reviewed the book as well. They were more critical than most and took exception to the version of the Gotch-Hackenschmidt II match I presented in the book, but they still liked it enough to give it four stars.

Read the review from PWHS here.

My favorite review, though, was one that came up on Terry Garvin’s World Domination podcast recently. Handsome Jimmy Valiant himself praised the book as a great read. I emailed him to thank him for the kind words and he sent back a few more. “I enjoyed your book. A lot of good knowledge in it. You hit it all on the nose. John, you didn’t miss anything, my man.
Congratulations and good luck in the future. Godpseed to all.”

Mercy!

Meet the new owner of HWA

Heartland Wrestling Association holds a special place in the hearts of Ohio wrestling fans. HWA was a developmental territory for the WWE at the same time as OVW in Louisville. Founded by the legendary Les Thatcher in 1998, HWA alumni include superstars like D’Lo Brown, Jamie Noble, Dean Ambrose, BJ Whitmer, Matt Stryker, Lance Cade, Cody Hawk, Chad Collyer, Shark Boy, Solomon Crowe, and Nigel McGuinness.

“It has a place in wrestling and has impacted the lives of the people in pro wrestling so much,” says new owner Philip Stamper. “For some, it was the first independent wrestling company many came to know.”

HWA was almost an impulse by for the veteran promoter, who has been in the wrestling business since 1996. “It was a very sudden purchase. When I saw the announcement about it selling, it triggered a lot of thoughts – Les Thatcher was one of the first promoters I ever talked with and the legacy of Heartland Wrestling Association. I saw a chance to play a role in the next stage of HWA.”

Stamper was very pleased to see an immediate response from fans after announcing his purchase on Sunday, June 28. “Our Facebook likes jumped 14%, and we had nearly the same spike on Twitter. We’ve had a few thousand views on YouTube this week. I think it shows there is still an interest whether you live in the area or are a fan of its impact to wrestling.”

Stamper plans to keep HWA in Cincinnati, but while he knows the fans are ready to welcome them back, he asks for patience as he prepares to re-open the promotion. “I’m not going to blindly run into holding an event for the sake of holding an event. There is a lot of ground work that needs to happen before then.” Stamper also hopes to get the HWA video library organized in the months ahead.

Stamper urges fans to subscribe and follow HWA on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. Fans can also order HWA videos through their store on Smart Mark Video.

The new boss has his work cut out for him, but he has plenty of reason. “A lot of people want there to be an event tomorrow. It does inspire me to move quickly.”