Memoirs of a Mad Man – Available This Weekend

The wait is almost over, Pondo fans.

Printed copies of Memoirs of a Mad Man are due to arrive this week, and Mad Man Pondo has decided to celebrate by releasing the book Friday night at the Midnight Girl Fight show at the ArenA in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Signed books will be available for $30. I will have my other books available as well for $10 and Dr. D’s book (signed) for $20.

Please, please, please bring some additional cash to spend money at the ladies’ merch tables.

The book will drop on Amazon after the Friday night show, and pre-ordered copies will be mailed the first of next week.

Wrestling Lives at SICW

I had never head of East Carondelet, Illinois until a few months ago. When Dr. D David Schultz texted me and told me we were headed there for a wrestling show, I incorrectly entered it on my iPhone schedule as East Carbondale. My bad!

East Carondelet is a small town just east of the Mississippi from Saint Louis. It’s a very rural, with no sign of big city life to be found, and the Community Center where we attended the wrestling show was way out in the middle of farm land. As remote as it felt to a city boy like me, the 300+ fans who packed into the building had no trouble finding the place Saturday night. They know where East Carondelet is, and they know how to find the community center. They know, because promoter Herb Simmons still knows how to produce an old fashioned RASSLIN’ show.

Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling held one of their biggest shows of the year this past weekend marking the 59th anniversary of Wrestling at the Chase in St Louis along with the annual Bruiser Brody Memorial Battle Royal. Doctor D and I were invited as special guests alongside Bruiser’s widow Barbara Goodish, who could not have been more delightful or gracious. A handful of VIP guests arrived early to meet Doctor D and Barbara along with the other wrestlers who came early to sign autographs. OVW original Flash Flanigan was one of them, and he took a moment to come over and meet one of his biggest heroes during the meet and greet.

“You were one of the guys who really scared me as a kid,” Flash told Doctor D as the two shook hands.

Shortly before 6 PM, Herb’s crew went into action, clearing away most of the merch tables and setting up as many chairs as the room would allow. It was not enough. Fans packed into the room like sardines, shoulder to shoulder in the aisle ways and every nook and cranny of the building. You don’t draw a crowd like that unless you’re doing something right.

Herb runs the show out front, but the man behind the curtain who assists with booking is none other than Larry Matysik, the long time voice of St. Louis wrestling and co-author (with Barbara Goodish) of Bruiser Brody’s biography. Although he has been in poor physical health for some time, Larry’s mind is as sharp as ever. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of wrestling in the St. Louis area, and he still has a great passion for the business.

As for the show itself, SICW delivered some great action from the beginning to end with babyfaces who are loved and heels who were truly hated. Curtis Wylde, who won the battle royal and then leapt out of the ring when he nearly came to blows with Doctor D, was a stand out on the heel side while local 18-year old Savannah Stone lived up to her hype as a fan favorite. Stone has already caught the eye of the WWE and made an appearance on NXT. Herb Simmons believes it’s only a matter of time before she becomes a major star, and seeing her in action, I believe it will happen.

The night ended with two steel cage matches, capped off by a title vs. career match between Marc Houston and Flash Flanigan. Having watched Flash terrorize fans and babyfaces in Louisville and Southern Indiana for so long, it was odd but refreshing to see Flash as a fan favorite. Flanigan won the title in a bloody match that sent the fans home happy.

It’s very clear how Herb Simmons has kept SICW going for so long. He has a great mind for the business and knows how to give the fans a great show. Doctor D, a man who does not give trust and praise easily, also had high marks for Herb as a promoter. “No lies, straight shooter. A great guy.”

Speaking for myself, Herb is an incredibly generous host, and his crew was incredibly hospitable. They even treated us to Imo’s “St Louis style” pizza, a pizza that features a one-of-a-kind cheese only found in St Louis. The cheese was very good, but for me personally, the cheese was upstaged by the incredible flavor of the pepperoni, the full strips of bacon on the pizza, and the fried ravioli that came on the side. Great stuff.

SICW runs monthly in East Carondelet, Illinois. Their next show is Father’s Day weekend on June 16, and their July 21st show will feature none other than Kevin Sullivan as a special guest. You can follow Herb Simmons and SICW on Facebook for more information.

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.

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.

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.

Save the Tables

In a former life, before writing about wrestling, I made a lot of short films like this.

This one’s been in the works for a long time. Finally connected with an old partner in crime Ally Labar and made it a reality.

Who will stop the violence? Who will stop the needless destruction? Who will save the tables?