In the Twilight of His Career, Cena Needs Bolin

It’s finally happening. Cena vs. Undertaker. Legend vs. Legend. GOAT vs. GOAT. Wrestlemania 34 will give us one of the most anticipated match ups in either man’s career, a match that will inevitably split the crowd into “Let’s go, Cena!” vs. “Undertaker!” chants.

Sounds kind of dull, doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong. I want to see Cena vs. Undertaker. I just don’t want to see a babyface Cena vs. babyface Taker. We’re already getting that with A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura in what’s sure to be the match of the night, and you know the crowd is going to split for Reigns vs Lesnar as well. Do we really need another marquee match up between two “gray” superstars?

I saw a commentary online this week that said the Undertaker should go old school, come back as the Biker Taker for this last ride. I’ll do you one better. We need Cena to go full heel. We need him to go back to his OVW roots, to become the heel he never got to be in the WWE. And just to make sure the smarks don’t latch on to this new heel Cena as their new hero, we need an insurance policy in his corner to make sure the fans know who the bad guy is.

John Cena needs the Starmaker.

Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin, the man who guided John Cena and nearly five dozen men and women from Louisville to the WWE, is the key to making Cena vs. Taker a match for the ages. Give him two weeks of cutting promos alongside his former protégé and legions of little boys with tears in their eyes will be burning their “Never Give Up” wristbands, T-shirts, and ball caps (thus guaranteeing Cena a nice, fat payday down the road on merchandise sales when he turns back babyface, I might add!).

Now let’s be clear. Heel or no heel, Cena does not need a mouthpiece. In fact Heel Cena in his OVW days was arguably more exciting, more electric than Big Match John has ever been. The problem is that while Heel Cena would lose the current “Let’s go, Cena!” fans, he’d turn those low pitched, “Cena sucks!” chants into cheers. He needs a lightning rod, a genuine heat magnet that could turn every man, woman, and child in the building against him.

Kenny Bolin once tried to donate a coupon to a strip club to WHAS Crusade for Children so the needy kids could get a lap dance. Kenny Bolin would tip the scales with the fans, setting the stage for a good versus evil unseen at Wrestlemania in decades. he would turn the “Face That Runs the Place” into a disgrace.

I know it’s just fantasy booking. The Starmaker is busy overseeing his growing media empire, and I don’t know at this point if even the McMahons have the money to lure him out of retirement. But what match would you rather see? “Let’s go, Cena!” vs. “Undertaker!” or Dead Man, Inc. vs. Bolin Services?

Kayfabe Lives at PWF

Most fans know that professional wrestling isn’t on the up and up. Kayfabe, that magical carny word that wrestlers used to refer to the secrets of professional wrestling, was declared dead in the early 90s.

Tell that to Nick Iggy. After terrifying a small child on the way to the ring Friday night at Pro Wrestling Freedom’s monthly show at the Jeffersonville Arena, a fan reached over the barrier Friday night and nailed Iggy in the head with a basket of nachos. An alert security guard working for PWF raced over to remove the fan, but before he could be led from the building, the fan received what could have been an accidental haymaker to the head from Iggy.

Did he swing for his opponent and miss, or was it deliberate? It was hard to tell, and that made for a beautiful moment.

Iggy wasn’t the only man to draw some old school heat from the crowd. Rising star and Owensboro, Kentucky native Teddy King is clearly the most hated man in the promotion. Fans wasted no time spewing boos and hatred his way the moment his music hit, and King’s promo had several fans in the seats ready to kick his butt. One woman was practically in tears, she wanted to strangle King do bad!

King’s greatest heat came when he verbally assaulted announcer Kevin Cordell and his wife Sarah. King pushed the couple so hard with his words, Sarah had to be restrained by four fans from climbing in the ring before Brutal Bob Evans got his chance to go after King.

Like Iggy’s cheap shot to the head, it was another moment that left you wondering what was real and what was not?

Every promotion in the Kentuckiana area is different. Everyone has its niche. PWF has long been the place to come and see not just local favorites but some of the most talented stars from around the country. Iggy and his partner Kerry Awful, the Carnies, have long been regulars at PWF, but this week fans were treated to an appearance by Kevin Ku, who currently holds the promotion’s Tri-State championship. Ku appeared in part due to PWF’s new partnership with Southern Underground Pro out of Nashville, and he successfully defended his belt against fan favorite Tyler Matrix.

Later that night, the Robo-Ginger Gary Jay lost his Pro Wrestling Freedom Heavyweight Championship to a very game Shane Andrews. Unlike some of the other matches on the card, this one ended with a tremendous sign of sportsmanship from the vanquished Jay.

Brutal Bob Evans was another special guest who delighted the fans with his dismantling of Teddy King. Some cheap interference from the outside cost him a victory, but Evans and Cash Flo got the last laugh in action that followed the bell. Evans also gave a seminar prior to the event that I was able to attend. Believe me when I say his class is a MUST for any wrestler who wants to make more money in the business.

PWF will mark its 2nd anniversary next month on April 13, and two matches have already been set. Cash Flo will put his career on the line against Teddy King, who will be forced to shave his head if he loses. The Carnies also face a stiff 3 on 3 challenge when they partner with Tripp Cassidy against the Bomb Shelter – Joseph Schwartz, Zodiak, and Randi West. The latter trio has something truly special going with their Bomb Shelter, and I see them breaking out as a faction over the next year.

Promoter Jimmy Feltcher ended the night by promising three more returns for the fans next month: Chip Day and Murder One from Atlanta, and one of Louisville’s favorite sons, Hy Zaya, who is already having a tremendous year at Prodigy Pro Wrestling. They also have a Tuesday show coming up April 27 in which Teddy King’s Lettermen will face a 3 on 3 match against Cash Flo, 2 Tuff Tony, and Mad Man Pondo.

You can follow Pro Wrestling Freedom on Facebook and Twitter.

The Starmaker Does It His Way

Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin was one of the first wrestling personalities to start a podcast. He was podcasting before most of his contemporaries, and he’s outlasted a good number of them. Over the last few years, he’s bounced from network to network, looking for just the right place where he and now his family can express themselves. It seems he finally found the perfect home: his own network.

Kenny Bolin has always done things his way, from managing wrestlers like John Cena to working the announcer’s booth at OVW. It’s only fitting that he be the master of his own destiny in the podcasting world.

This week marks the launch of the Bolin Alley Podcast channel on Youtube. Kenny, Jason Marshall, and Mayara will be broadcasting weekly on video (not just audi0) discussing wrestling, politics, and whatever else they want to talk about.

The debut episode of the new Bolin Alley is linked  below. And do NOT miss Kenny’ return on a special episode of the Stone Cold Steve Austin Podcast later this week when Austin and Bolin will discuss their favorite TV show, The Walking Dead.

Click Here to Watch the Bolin Alley Episode 1.

The Strangler and the Wrestling Writer

When I was considering writing a book about wrestling in Louisville in late 2012, there was one story tipped the scale for me as far as my interest. It’s the story of how on January 24, 1913, a wrestler known as “Bob Fredericks” arrived in Louisville two weeks after he was supposed to debut. When Fredericks (real name Robert Friedrich) no-showed on January 10 after being advertised, promoter William Barton used another man named Bob Managoff as Fredericks on the show, so the real Fredericks was unable to use his own name. No one knows for sure whether it was Barton, Fredericks, Managoff, or referee Heywood Allen who suggested it, but since Fredericks hailed from Wisconsin, it was decided they would give him a name paying tribute to the state’s wrestling hero, Evan “The Strangler” Lewis by calling him Ed “Strangler” Lewis.

A few weeks ago, I applied to register Eat Sleep Wrestle as an LLC in the state of Indiana. Call it fate, call it coincidence, call it a God thing – the official birthdate of Eat Sleep Wrestle LLC is January 24, 2018, 105 years to the day after Strangler Lewis got his name in Louisville.

Thank you to all the fans, fellow historians, wrestlers, promoters, referees, and other lovers of professional wrestling who have supported me in this endeavor. This is going to be a great year, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this crazy business takes me.

Celebrating Twenty Years of TV at OVW

Every city has an ego. Some can back it up. Some are over-inflated.

Louisville, Kentucky certainly has an ego. The people of Louisville brag about their status as a food city, as a college sports town, as the Mecca of horse racing, and so on. You can argue some of the points of pride the city of Louisville clings to, but there’s one that is undeniable: this is a professional wrestling town.

Louisville is not the first town you think of when you look at wrestling’s past. Most fans, including Louisville fans, think of places like St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, or Memphis. Louisville was on the periphery of a lot of that history, a secondary town that brought in the best talent from St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Memphis. Louisville had its share of great moments, from the “debut” of Ed “Strangler” Lewis through the 22 year run of the Allen Athletic Club to the debut of the “Biker-Taker” at Judgment Day. But while many towns have cooled on professional wrestling in the WWE era, Louisville’s passion has remained.

Monday night the WWE marked 25 years of broadcasting Monday Night Raw. Wednesday night Ohio Valley Wrestling marked 20 years of television in Louisville. They went on the air before the WWE came to down to develop their future stars, and they have remained on the air long after the WWE’s departure. How many promotions today, let alone throughout wrestling history, can say that achieved that mark?

The Louisville area has remained a hot bed for professional wrestling for over 100 years. When the USWA closed down in the 90s, fans didn’t walk away. They turned to OVW and IWA Mid-South, a promotion that just marked 20 years and 800 shows. Louisville is still a destination for young wrestlers looking to train and get exposure, and with the opening of the Arena across the river in Jeffersonville, the opportunities have continued to grow.

Congratulations to Danny Davis, Rip Rogers, Dean Hill, and everyone who has made OVW a success. And thank you to everyone who continues to build Louisville up as a true wrestling city!

Read the full history of Louisville wrestling in Bluegrass Brawlers.

Remembering Ma Bolin

A lot of things were written about Ma Bolin in Kenny Bolin’s autobiography, from her status as part of a three generation wrestling manager’s family (managing Jerry Lawler against her son at Six Flags) to her affection for men in uniform. Ma Bolin was a character who raised several characters largely by herself. She was a strong woman, a tough woman, and in my experience, a very sweet woman who was truly loved by her kids and grandkids.

I met Ma Bolin the night Bluegrass Brawlers was released at Golden Corral. I had many nice conversations with her at the Corral when I would meet Kenny and his entourage for dinner. I always enjoyed seeing her, and any time Kenny spoke of her – no matter how crazy the story – you could tell he loved her deeply.

Ma Bolin passed away today at age 78. My prayers are with the entire Bolin family. She was a lovely lady, and she will be greatly missed.

Fans who would like to help with Ma Bolin’s funeral expenses can donate via Kenny’s PayPal address,, or send checks to his address: Cherokee Rd. apt 1F, Louisville Ky. 40204. Please mark all donations “Funds for Ma Bolin.”

Resolve to Discover Indy Wrestling

I just watched one of the best matches I saw all year in 2017 starting at 11:30 on December 31. This match didn’t take place on the East or West Coast, but 9 miles up the Interstate from me. This was the third battle in 2017 between Mance Warner and Anthony Henry at IWA Mid-South, a match I had seen hyped all over Facebook and Twitter. It lived up to the hype. This was no spot fest. This was not two men no-selling moves that would kill a man. This was a slug fest from start to finish, an absolute brawl that made me gasp audibly over and over. It was a delight to watch.

Folks, if you’re fed up with the Fed, done with the TV cartoon wrestling, looking for some real action, you can find it. And odds are, it’s happening a lot closer than you think. These are a few of the match ups happening less than an hour from me in the Louisville area:

IWA Mid-South in Memphis, Indiana on January 4: Hudson Envy vs. Su Yung; Myron Reed vs. Shane Strickland; Ace Perry and Jimmy Jimmy Jacobs vs. Aaron Williams and a mystery partner.

NWA Mid-South in Madison, Indiana on January 5: Hayley Shadows vs. Karma; Van Martigan vs. Jason Kincaid.

Pro Wrestling Freedom in Jeffersonville, Indiana on January 12: Myron Reed vs. Tyler Matrix; the Hooligans vs. the Bombshelter; the Carnies vs. Adam Slade and Kevin Giza; Shane Andrews vs. Gary Jay.

Prodigy Pro in Memphis, Indiana on January 25: Shane Mercer vs. Dominic Garrini; Hy Zaya vs. AR Fox; a fatal four-way featuring Daniel Eads vs. Corey Storm vs. Gary Jay vs. Logan James; the Rejects vs. the Night Ryderz in a TLC match.

And that’s just the month of January.

Stop wasting time griping about wrestling online. Find something you love and get back to enjoying wrestling. There’s something for everyone on the indy scene. It may be online; it may be in your own backyard.

Dr. D, Christmas, and Rasslin’ Memories

It’s always a pleasure to talk with Glen Braget on his wrestling podcast, Rasslin’ Memories, and this week, I made my third appearance. This time around, we talked about Dr. D David Schultz, whose autobiography should be ready to rock in January. We also hit on Mad Man Pondo, “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell, Louisville wrestling, and Season’s Beatings, my new Christmas wrestling book.

Glen has a real passion for preserving the history of professional wrestling. His show features some great guests and incredible stories that ever fan needs to hear, no matter what era of wrestling they prefer.

You can download this week’s episode of Rasslin’ Memories on Soundcloud when you click here!

Allen Gets Busted

I’ve been doing some long-overdue digging into Heywood Allen’s pre-Allen Club past in Louisville, specifically pulling results for the Savoy Athletic Club he booked prior to starting his own promotion. Allen became the booker for C. B. Blake’s promotion at the Savoy Theater in the spring of 1930, and in the fall of 1930, he found himself in a bit of a pickle with some local fans.

At a show on September 4, some fans inquired as to the health of local favorite Blacksmith Pedigo, who had been injured during his last match in Louisville and absent ever since. Allen told the fans that Pedigo was “coming around” and would soon be back in action. The fans then told Allen that they had seen Pedigo wrestle and defeat Ray Meyers in Indianapolis only a few days prior on Labor Day weekend.

Allen became “indignant,” according to a fan who shared this story in a letter to the Courier-Journal published on September 28. Allen claimed he had visited Pedigo on Labor Day and he was not at all in wrestling shape. The fan then went on to quote from the Indianapolis Star the results from the Labor Day show, in which Pedigo defeated Meyers 2 out of 3 falls.

It was easier to fool the fans in the days before the Internet, but as the old saying goes, you can’t fool all the people all the time. That said, I doubt that “J.F.B. of Indianapolis,” who said, “This sort of thing, in all fairness to the wrestling public, should be stopped,” was ever welcomed back to the matches in Louisville or Indianapolis with open arms.

Bluegrass Brawlers: A must-have for Louisville sports fans

From Ed “Strangler” Lewis to John Cena, the champs were here.

Louisville, Kentucky may not be the first name people associate with professional wrestling, but the River City has had a front row seat to witness the greatest stars in the history of the business. Bluegrass Brawlers tells the story from the very beginning, starting with the circus performers, the barn stormers, and the legendary 19th century champion William C. Muldoon. You’ll learn how Robert Fredericks became “Strangler” Lewis and see how the city first fell in love with the sport. You’ll discover the Allen Athletic Club era (also chronicled in Louisville’s Greatest Show) when Lou Thesz, Orville Brown, Mildred Burke, Wild Bill Longson, and Buddy Rogers put the gold in the golden age.

Memphis fans can relive the glory years of the Louisville Gardens, when Jerry Lawler was King. You’ll read about the world’s first scaffold match, rise of Jim Cornette, and the Jeff Jarrett-Dutch Mantell battle that took place at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. You’ll also read about the hey day of OVW, the developmental system that produced Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Batista, John Cena, and many more. Plus you’ll meet the man they call “Starmaker” Bolin and Ian Rotten, the unsinkable promoter of the legendary IWA Mid-South.

Bluegrass Brawlers is the book that started it all for me, and it’s still my top seller. It’s a great gift for wrestling fans of all ages.

Order now on in paperback or Kindle.