Posted on

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.)

Posted on

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.

Posted on

Pre-order Your Copy of Tracy Smothers’ Book!

Eat Sleep Wrestle is proud to present the autobiography of the one and only, Tracy Smothers!

He’s been hired and fired from every major wrestling company. He’s wrestled all over the United States, in Mexico, and Asia. He’s held multiple tag team belts and heavyweight championships. He’s been a top guy and a jobber. He’s been a hero, a villain, and a mentor to countless young wrestlers of the last two generations. He pinned legends. He defeated cancer. And yes, he wrestled three different bears.

Few wrestlers have logged as many miles as Tracy Smothers, and even fewer have made the impact he has on today’s young stars. Now for the first time, Tracy reveals how a promising young athlete Springfield, Tennessee, who once aspired to be a high school football coach found himself at the center of a fan riot in Mexico City and a bar fight in Malaysia. He talks about the last days of the territories, the rise of the Wild Eyed Southern Boys and the Young Pistols, his star turn in Smoky Mountain, his jobbing days in WWF, life-changing concussions, the FBI in ECW, and the dance contests in the indies. You’ll hear harrowing tales about bounty hunting, delivering pizzas, and yes… going toe to toe with the legendary Ginger the Wrestling Bear.

Tracy Smothers doesn’t care if you love him. He doesn’t care if you think he sucks. He doesn’t even really care if you read his book. There’s only one thing you need to know right now. If you don’t buy this book, EVERYBODY DIES!

If you want to get a signed copy of Tracy’s book you can now pre-order one through the book shop on this our website. Books are expected in early April. That said, with the current COVID-19 situation we cannot guarantee when they will ship. Tracy and I live 2 hours apart, but we will make every effort to get together as soon as books arrive so we can ship them to everyone who pre-orders.

Click here to pre-order a signed copy.

Posted on

Tracy Smothers to Speak at CAC

If you’re headed to the Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion in April, you’re going to want to mark this on your agenda.

Wednesday, April 29, at 1 p.m., the one and only Tracy Smothers will be sharing stories from his remarkable career. This is a man who has survived bar fights, riots in Mexico City, real life shoots on WWE pay-per-view, THREE different bears, and coming soon… Cancer.

This will be Tracy’s first ever visit to Sin City, and it’s a rare opportunity for West Coast fans to see and learn from a man who has been hired and fired from every company there is to work for (except AEW, but that’s only because they’re new).

Posted on

Coming in 2020

Happy New Year again, wrestling fans. Here’s what Eat Sleep Wrestle has in store (so far) for 2020:

Babe: The Story of How Alphonse “Babe” Bisignano Turned Out Alright

Up until now, almost everything ESW has published has been written or co-written by John Cosper. This winter we are proud to bring you the first book by Professional Wrestling Historical Society founder Jimmy Wheeler. Alphonse “Babe” Bisignano, aka Babe Carnera, was an Iowa pro wrestling legend. He was also a boxer, bootlegger, a restauranteur, a promoter, a cook book author, and an icon in the city of Des Moines. This is a colorful story about an unsung hero of the past history buffs will really enjoy.

If You Don’t Buy This Book, Everybody Dies!

The long awaited Tracy Smothers autobiography is on the way! We have been hard at work on this for months, even during Tracy’s cancer treatments, and it’s going to be a doozy. It’s the longest book yet from ESW, and it’s jam packed with your favorite Tracy stories and many you’ve never heard.

Scott Romer’s Autobiography

No one else can tell you stories about rubbing shoulders with Dick the Bruiser, Mel Brooks, President George H. W. Bush, Muhammed Ali, and Israeli intelligence because no one has lived a life quite like photographer Scott Romer. He has seen sport legends, Hollywood royalty, and world leaders through the lens of his camera, and his life story is a real page turner.

In addition to these books, I have at least three more projects in the works to be announced later!

I have just two personal appearances scheduled so far for 2020 that I can announce, but I’m excited about both. In April I am headed to ASW in West Virginia to see Gary Damron’s promotion in action. I’ll be there April 18 to see Mad Man Pondo and Tracy Smothers inducted into their Hall of Fame, and Hurricane JJ Maguire is coming with me!

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, I’ll be returning to Waterloo in July for their annual pro wrestling induction weekend. I had a fantastic time back in 2018, and I am looking forward to bringing more books and more of Jim Mitchell’s personal effects to display for fans in attendance.

This is only the beginning. Looking forward to what else 2020 brings my way!

Posted on

Smothers Tough

Whenever the subject of toughest wrestler comes up, fans in the know never fail to mention Tracy Smothers. The first thing everyone mentions is the fact he wrestled three different bears over five matches. That’s plenty to brag about. But fans who pick up his autobiography in 2020 will be stunned to read about the riots, the shoots, and the backstage brawls Tracy has survived.

Tracy just went public about his toughest fight this week. He is currently battling stomach cancer. Over the past two months we’ve conducted interviews during hospital stays, chemo treatments, and wicked bouts of illness and infection. There have been nights he could barely talk, but he refused to take a break. Working his book kept his spirits up and kept him going.

I can tell you that all the stories about bears and riots don’t even begin to tell how tough this man is. Cancer should have known better than to pick a fight with Tracy Smothers. He’s going to crush this illness. It will just be one more story from an incredible life full of nasty, hard-won fights.

Like Tracy said on Facebook, this is not the end. It’s just a tune up, a repair job. He’s got a lot of dings under the hood, but he’s got a lot of miles left to go. I’m proud to call him a friend, and I cannot wait to unleash his full story next year.

Posted on

KZW: The Building May Be Hot, But the Crowd Is Hotter

I always enjoy getting away from Jeffersonville and Louisville to check out wrestling in other areas. Last year I traveled to East Carondelet, Illinois and experienced the fan frenzy that surrounds SICW, a promotion run by the great Herb Simmons. It’s small town wrestling at its best: a packed crowd, popular babyfaces, and dastardly heels. This week’s excursion to Kentucky Zone Wrestling in Somerset, Kentucky felt a lot like SICW with the fan frenzy as hot as the air in the Shopville Elementary Gym.

I sensed the excitement about the evening’s activities as soon as I drove into town. At the T-intersection that leads to Somerset, I saw a sandwich sign by the road that announced there was “Wrestling Tonight” at the gymnasium. Promoter Dennis Spradlin told me there were 14 signs set up around town, and the show had already received press coverage thanks to the impending release of master of ceremonies Hurricane JJ Maguire’s autobiography at the event. I’m told there was good word of mouth buzz about the book and the show around town as well.

It was 87 degrees at bell time, and the un-air conditioned gym was balmy, but that did not stop a crowd of about 200 from packing into the building. This was KZW’s annual Caged Fury show, an evening of cage matches each with multiple contenders. KZW’s roster includes a lot of long-time Central Kentucky stalwarts, but there were some promising young stars as well, guys who are already making am impact beyond the Kentucky/Tennessee region.

The highlight of the evening was the confrontation between Team Evil, a group of five heels managed by the notorious David Barnabas Spector, and Team JJ, a contingent led by JJ Maguire featuring four top babyfaces and the legendary Tracy Smothers. Competitors entered the cage at two minute intervals ala the Royal Rumble, but all stayed in until the babyfaces won the match by pinfall. The good guys grabbed hold of Spector and brought him into the ring, holding him in place for Tracy Smothers to do some real damage.

And that’s when it got really great.

Instead of leveling Spector, Tracy took out the babyfaces, shocking the crowd. “He’s double crossed ‘em!” a fan shouted, making my night and capturing the spirit of the evening. Tracy grabbed a microphone and shot on the state of Kentucky and the fans, leading to a 30 day suspension from KZW’s startled co-owner JJ Maguire.

Several matches were set for upcoming shows in the chaotic final moments, as angry good guys demanded a shot at the villains, and the fans went out with a fury, hoping that maybe next time, Spector and his goons would get theirs. Fans were also reminded that the action resumes not next month but this coming Saturday, September 21, in nearby Williamsburg.

KZW has truly filled a niche in their community, offering the fans of south central Kentucky a welcome live wrestling promotion that delivers the action they love. If you’re in the region or just curious to check them out for yourself, you can follow them on Facebook.