Category Archives: Wrestling History

Five Matches

Someone on Facebook recently posed an interesting question: if you had a wrestling time machine and could go back to see any wrestling match, what would you go back to see?

I didn’t have to think about my answer. As a hug fan of the Black Panther, I’d want to go back to the night he is most famous for: the night he and Gorgeous George incited a riot at the Olympic Auditorium. Then I got to thinking, what other matches would I want to see if I could return to any night in wrestling history?

Here are my top five, in order:

August 24, 1949, Los Angeles. Gorgeous George vs. The Black Panther Jim Mitchell at the Olympic. George was one of the biggest heels of his day, and the Panther was a beloved star. On a hot summer night, George went too far. He tossed Mitchell from the ring and refused to let him back in. One fan jumped in the ring to give George some payback, and George leveled him. In an instant the entire crowd was on its feet, and a riot raged on for hours. Mitchell and George escaped to the back, but several people had to be hospitalized. One woman even sued George and Mitchell for her injuries. I have the program from that night and a letter summoning Mitchell to answer for his part in the riot that evening. They are the prizes of my wrestling memorabilia collection.

February 1, 1944, Louisville. Mildred Burke vs. Elvira Snodgrass at the Columbia Gym. If Mitchell is my all time favorite grappler, Elvira is a close second. I’d love to see the greatest women’s champion of all time against the toughest, meanest, scrappiest heel she ever faced in front of a hot Louisville crowd. This wasn’t the only time they faced one another in Louisville or the biggest crowd in Louisville to see them do battle, but it was the night they were the main event attraction. How incredible would it be to see Heywood Allen chomping on his cigar, overseeing the action in the Columbia Gym?

Jerry Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman in Memphis. The Kaufman/Lawler feud is one of the most fascinating stories in wrestling history, both for the in-ring action and the behind the scenes machinations. It’s the greatest work of the modern era and a blueprint for how to do kayfabe in an era when kayfabe is supposedly dead. Some how, some way, I’d have to have a ringside seat so I could see the back and forth after the match with Danny Davis telling Jerry that Andy will pay for the ambulance.

The Road Warriors vs. The Midnight Express, Night of the Skywalkers. Cornette has been a friend and a great asset in my research of Louisville wrestling history. The scaffold match was far from the best work either of these legendary tag teams did, but just to see it all unfold and watch poor Jimmy slip through the arms of Big Bubba (RIP) would be priceless.

When Hero Met Punk, IWA Mid-South, Clarksville, Indiana 2003. Before Punk made it to WWE or even Ring of Honor, he had some of the greatest battles in the modern indy era with Chris Hero, now NXT’s Kassius Ohno, in front of one of the most passionate crowds in wrestling today. Matches like these are the reason CM Punk said his ideal place for Wrestlemania would be the old warehouse in Charlestown, Indiana, where many of their brawls took place. This particular match went almost 93 minutes, and for the last 15-20 minutes, the entire crowd was on their feet. Watch this, their Tables and Ladders duel, or their 60 minute brawl, and join me in hoping that when Kassius Ohio reaches the main roster, WWE will make amends with CM Punk and give these two one last battle – at Wrestlemania.

Honorable Mention: The 1951 Derby Eve Show, Jefferson County Armory, Louisville. I’m going to cheat here, but this has to be one of the greatest cards ever presented in Louisville. Francis McDonogh, who took over the Allen Club from Heywood Allen in 1947, made the annual Derby Eve Show and the Police Benefit Show that took its place a monster even every year. Have a look at the card and tell me you wouldn’t want to be one of the 8000 in attendance that night:

Wild Bill Longson vs. Dutch Heffner
Bill Longson, Fred Davis (of the Chicago Bears), and Freddie Blassie vs. Ivan Rasputin, Stu Gibson, and Dutch Heffner
Mildred Burke vs. Mae Young
Lou Thesz vs. Green Dragon

 

Pre-Order Dr. D’s Book Now!

The word is out: Dr. D has finally told his story, and the book will be released in February.

“Don’t Call Me Fake: The Real Story of ‘Dr. D’ David Schultz” is 472 pages long and will sell for $25 on Amazon.com, but you can now pre-order a copy signed by Dr. D for only $35 plus shipping.

Dr. D does not do many appearances, and he does not plan on doing very many in the coming year. This is a very rare opportunity!

Please email John Cosper for payment instructions via PayPal.  Books will be shipped by mid-February.

Last Chance: One Final Pair of Jim Mitchell Boots for Sale

In September I brought home nine and a half pairs of boots that belonged to “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell.

Six and a half have been sold.

I purchased two – one for the Dan Game Museum and Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa, and one for myself.

 

One pair remains.

This is the last chance to own a pair of boots worn by The Black Panther himself. This was a unique pair too, because they are laced up with black paces. I’ve bundled a few other items with this pair of boots to sweeten the pot.

Once these are sold, there won’t be any more. Lots more Mitchell memorabilia is likely coming. The pipe collection is still most definitely for sale! But barring some unforeseen circumstances, there are no more boots to be had after this.

Make your bid now on eBay.

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 Amazon.com in paperback or Kindle.

Meet the Black Panther in Louisville’s Greatest Show

If you’re interested in knowing more about The Black Panther Jim Mitchell, you won’t find any books dedicated to him – yet. I am hoping to change that in the next year or two, but in the mean time, you can get to know the Louisville native in my latest wrestling history, Louisville’s Greatest Show.

Louisville’s Greatest Show dives deep into the lost golden age of pro wrestling in the River City. For 22 years, the Allen Athletic Club was one of the top sports attractions in the city, bringing the best in professional wrestling to Louisville every Tuesday night at the Columbia Gym and other venues. This was the era of legendary stars like Orville Brown, Lou Thesz, Wild Bill Longson, and Buddy Rogers. It was also the era of Mildred Burke, Mae Young, Elvira Snodgrass, and the biggest women’s wrestling stars in the history of the business. It was also a time of mud matches, midget wrestling, bear wrestling, alligator wrestling, and yes, even a wrestling wedding or two.

Louisville’s Greatest Show not only breaks down the 22 year history of the Allen Club, it gives you up close biographies of more than 20 local and national stars of the era. You’ll get to know The Schnitzelburg Giant Mel Meiners, WHAS sports legend Jimmy Finegan, Louisville homicide detective/ referee Ellis Joseph, IU wrestling legend Billy Thom, Blacksmith Pedigo, Betty McDonogh, Chicago Bear Fred Davis, and Kid Scotty Williams.

You’ll also get up close with three of my all-time favorite wrestlers: Jim Mitchell, Stu Gibson, and Elvira Snodgrass.

Louisville’s Greatest Show is available in paperback and on Kindle. Order it today on Amazon.com.

Season’s Beatings: Christmas Wishes from the Golden Age of Wrestling!

While combing through the many programs in the Jim Mitchell collection, I came across a 1947 Christmas edition of Pacific Athletic News (PAN) that featured Christmas greetings from more than four dozen wrestlers, promoters, and other wrestling personalities. These photos and the accompanying messages were so fun, I decided to compile them into a book.

Season’s Beatings is a photos book bearing holiday wishes from some of Southern California’s biggest stars. Photos in the book include Gorgeous George, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell, Sandor Szabo, Enrique Torres, the Duseks, Karl and Wee Willie Davis, Bobby Bruns, Danny McShain, Mike Mazurki, Ed Don George, Hans Schnabel, Jan Blears, Yvon Robert, Morris Siegel, Angelo Savoldi, and Bronko Nagurski.

Season’s Beatings is a perfect gift for a wrestling fan or yourself. It’s guaranteed to become a yuletide tradition. If someone on your list prefers head locks and body slams to visions of sugar plums, order your copy today on Amazon, only $9.99.

The Jim Cornette Experience

If you’re a fan of wrestling history, be sure to catch today’s episode of the Jim Cornette Experience. I’m on the show today talking about a few of my favorite things: The Allen Athletic Club, Elvira Snodgrass, and The Black Panther Jim Mitchell.

If you’ve already listened to today’s show, you can follow the links below to read more about the books and stories I’ve been working on.

The Black Panther Jim Mitchell

Elvira Snodgrass Part 1 and Part 2

Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville

Louisville’s Greatest Show: The Story of the Allen Athletic Club

Herb Welch’s How to Become a Champion

“Dr. D” David Schultz (autobiography coming soon!)

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