Category Archives: WWE

What I Learned from Dr. D

It’s been about a year since Dr. D and I met face to face and agreed to write his book together. The text is nearly complete, the cover is done, and we are hoping the foreword will be turned in soon. Not going to spill the beans who wrote the foreword, but it’s a Hall of Fame star who credits the Doctor with helping him out as a young, rising star.

Dr. D asked me today what I have learned from this process of writing his book. I thought it might be worth reposting here what I shared with him today.

I’ve learned a lot this past year. Writing this book has changed how I look at the wrestling business. It’s taught me a lot about the justice system and how it works.
As far as Dr. D David Schultz… I’ve come to see a man who always worked harder than everyone else around him. He is demanding of himself and those around him, but he is the best and most loyal friend to those who are the same to him.
The biggest impression I take away from the book is the loyalty of the people he trained and worked with. From the men he trained to become wrestlers, to the men he traveled with, to the men and women of the bail bonds person community, every one of them was eager to sing his praises and say how much they admired the man.
Fans might be surprised to learn that Dr. D, bounty hunter, could be a completely different person than the one they used to watch on TV. Yes, he could kick in doors and drag a man to the ground when needed, but he could also be compassionate, caring, and understanding. Dr. D had a way of knowing when to be tough and when to be tender. He took the fear out of facing the music for men and women caught in a bad spot. He let them know someone was on their side.
Personally, Dr. D has been been extremely good to me and my family. I appreciate the trust he placed in me to tell his story and to look through the boxes of history he sent my way to assist in the writing. I’ve had my hands on everything from legal depositions to Stampede Wrestling programs to Hulk Hogan’s wedding invitation. That was a huge trust, and quite a thrill.
I really appreciated the kindness Dr. D showed to my kids. They are big Dr. D fans. Sam and Lydia have both told their friends they know someone who beat up Hulk Hogan!
Dr. D and his wife, who read every page of the book as well, pushed me to become better writer this year. They challenged me to go above ant beyond what I have done in the past. I hope I have done his story the service it deserves and written a book his friends, his fans, and those who have never met him will greatly enjoy.
More than that, I hope I can have the same impact on others that Dr. D had on the men and women who remain loyal to him to this day. I hope I can be the kind of person who is honest, who has compassion for those in need of help, and who brings out the best in others. Those are the qualities I admire most about Dr. D.

Net Neutrality and Indy Wrestling

If net neutrality ends, what does that mean for independent wrestling?

Independent wrestling has thrived thanks in part to a free and open Internet. Youtube has given us a wealth of video from wrestling’s past and present. Fans not only have the WWE Network but CZW Studios, the High Spots Network, New Japan World, Impact, Ring of Honor, Powerbomb.tv and dozens more. Facebook Live has changed the game even further, and the Billy Corgan-owned NWA is now using that platform to bring live action to the fans.

Could all of that wrestling, all of that momentum, really come to an end in less the two weeks?

Rumor has it the “gatekeepers” of the Internet want to create fast lanes for content creators who will pay for it, while minimizing and slowing down the creators who don’t. Do you think New Japan is going to pay for a fast lane? Or High Spots? Or CZW? There’s only one promotion I know of that even has the money, and I imagine when they pay up, they’ll pass that cost onto their subscribers. Bye bye, $9.99.

If you haven’t raised your voice, do it. Call your Senator. Call your Representative. Sign every online petition. Demand that Congress take action if the FCC won’t.

Raising our voices with our government is a must right now, but it’s not the only action we should take. We need to start a dialogue. Fans, promoters, wrestlers, podcasters, bloggers, and anyone who makes even part of their living from the wrestling business need to come together and ask the question: where do we go from here? Is there an alternative to the “new” Internet landscape? Where can promotions take their video? How do we get the fans to follow? What do we do to make sure this is not the end of the indy revolution, but just a speed bump on the way to a new era?

No one could have predicted the indies would return like they have. If net neutrality ends, I believe we can do the impossible once more.

Why Jericho is the Best in the World

The best thing about Chris Jericho is you never know when he’s working you.

Jericho worked everyone the last few weeks in his Twitter war with Kenny Omega. Yes, we all suspected something was up, but no one knew what – not until he showed up on the big screen at Power Struggle this weekend.

In an era where fans think they know everything, Jericho is the one guy who can still pull off a shocker. He will never tip his hand if he thinks he can sneak up on you. He loves a surprise. If you’ve ever told anyone that you “called it” when he returned in the #2 spot at the Royal Rumble a few years ago, you are a liar.

Even now, questions surround his unexpected move to Japan. Did Vince know? One report says the WWE found out when the rest of us did early Sunday morning. His video package featured music from his band Fozzy, not his WWE theme. His contracts with WWE are month to month, and he has ROH on his cruise next October.

Sounds like he’s gone independent. Only Jericho knows, and he’s not telling.

That’s what makes him the Best in the World.

If you’re one of the many coming aboard the New Japan bandwagon because of Y2J, welcome. If you thought Balor vs Styles was awesome (and it was!) wait until you see what NJPW has to offer.

Don’t Call Him Fake!

“Dr. D” David Schultz is a folk hero to professional wrestlers. He is the man who slapped John Stossel on 20/20 for suggesting professional wrestling is fake. At a time when the walls of kayfabe were beginning to leak, he was the man with the nerve to do what had to be done. He was as real as it gets.

Most fans don’t remember that was a top star before his all-too-brief WWE run. He was the top heel in the AWA for a year, waging bloody battles against Hulk Hogan for Vern Gagne. Before that he was a tag team champion and singles champion in Florida and Memphis. He was a top level star in Japan. He is remembered fondly in Alberta, Canada, where he feuded with a very young, pre-Hitman Bret Hart in Stampede Wrestling.

When his WWE days were over, he continued to wreak havoc in the ring, taking on the most dangerous men in the business. He proved his toughness in violent clashes against Ric Flair, Abdullah the Butcher, the Iron Shiek, Johnny Rodz, and Bruiser Brody.

Still, wrestling isn’t even half the story. Dr. D’s proudest accomplishment is becoming one of the most successful bounty hunters in America’s history. For more than two decades, the biggest heel in the wrestling business worked babyface, chasing down crooks, con-men, kidnappers, child molesters, drug dealers, and murderers. From the mean streets of Los Angeles, to the dark alleys of Puerto Rico, to the worst neighborhoods in New York, to the ancient city of Cairo, Dr. D was the guy who always got his man – or woman.

Don’t Call Me Fake: The Real Story of “Dr. D” David Schultz will not be a tell-all or an expose. It’s the autobiography of a man who has lived an extraordinary life. You’ll get the story of his wrestling career, from his early education with the legendary Herb Welch through his final days in the ring, but you’ll also get the incredible story of a man who would stop at nothing to bring a crook to justice.

You can call Dr. D many things, but after you read this story, the last thing you’ll call him is fake. This is the real story of Dr. D, and it’s coming very soon.

90 Days and Counting (Again)

Start the clock again. More talented wrestlers may be returning to the indies.

We’re already counting down for Neville. Now you can add Emma to the list.

Emma is a classic example of how some things never change. The WWE seems to sabotage at least as many talented wrestlers as they set up for success. For every John Cena, who came in with a rocket strapped to his back, there’s a Nick Dinsmore/U-Gene, or a “Stuttering” Matt Morgan, or a Spirit Squad.

Emma was set up to fail from day one, which is a shame because she can go. She’s a Lance Storm student, and she’s just as talented as the WWE’s Four Horsewomen. Her release is a blessing in disguise for her career, and now she has the chance to write her own ticket. Who wouldn’t want to see her lock up with Tessa Blanchard, Santana Garrett, Rachel Ellering, or LuFisto? When her 90 day non-compete ends, don’t be surprised to see her show up in Shimmer, or Queens of Combat, or – dare I  say it? – Girl Fight. (Mad Man Pondo, take note!)

I don’t know as much about Darren Young, but I think he’s got a fair shot to find success outside the WWE as well. There’s certainly more opportunity now than there has been in years, and if he chooses to follow Cody Rhodes and Neville, he can go far.

I’m not sure we’ll see Summer Rae in the indies. I think it’s more likely she’ll pursue more film and TV, but I hate to see her go without ever truly getting a chance on the main roster. If you go back and watch her work in NXT, she could hold her own against any of the top women now in the company. Too bad the sabotaged her as well, putting her in the shrieking, helpless blonde at ringside role at ringside. As much as WWE wants us to believe they’ve turned the page on women in wrestling, Summer Rae is an example that some things never change.

Time will tell if this is the last of the house cleaning. Time will also tell if any of the “future endeavored” will be add to the current indy revival. If the drive is in them, Emma, Darren Young, and Summer Rae will find more opportunity to pursue future endeavors than their predecessors.

Can a Virus Change History?

Sometimes, seemingly insignificant events can change history. That’s true for the world at large as well as the world of professional wrestling. If you want a great example, click here read about another seemingly insignificant event that changed wrestling history.

Right now, a virus has completely changed the card for Sunday’s pay-per-view. An illness that everyone has had from time to time has led to changes that upset some fans and energized others.

What will happen if the ratings for Sunday’s show spike because Kurt Angle is there and not Roman Reigns?

What will happen if A.J. Styles and Finn Balor tear the house down?

And on a side note… can we all agree Sister Abigail has had the worst luck since the Shockmaster when it comes to making a debut? Two days before the world finally got to meet her, she comes down with an illness.

Fans who want change, this is an opportunity to do what I’ve been telling you to do: vote with your remote. Vote with your dollars. Tune in. Tweet it out. I can’t promise they’ll listen, especially where it counts, but you know they are watching, and you know they will hear you.

Coming Together for Matt Cappotelli

Wrestlers give so much of themselves for the business the love and the fans who follow them. In less than two weeks, OVW fans will have a chance to give back to one of the greatest stars in the promotion’s history.

If you don’t know Matt Cappotelli’s story, it’s both inspiring and heart-breaking. Matt was on the verge of realizing his dream and becoming a WWE Superstar when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He fought the disease and beat it, but earlier this year, cancer returned for a re-match.

OVW is hosting a benefit show on Saturday, September 23, to help Matt pay his medical expenses as he fights cancer a second time. A number of current and former OVW stars will be on hand that night not to collect a pay check, but to support their friend as all proceeds will go to Matt’s medical fund. Jim Cornette has already announced he will be there, signing anything you bring for any donation you want to give. More announcements are on the way.

Indy wrestling isn’t about sports entertainment. It’s about family. If you’re in the area, please be at the Davis Arena Saturday night, September 23. This is a show you can’t miss.

Twenty Years Ago Today…

Bret Hart defended his WWF title against the Patriot by submission. It would be the final successful PPV title defense for the Hitman. Two months later came Montreal and the Screw Job.

 

Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker battled to a no-contest finish, setting up the first ever Hell in a Cell match a month later.

Brian Pillman defeated Goldust and forced Marlena to become his personal assistant for the next 30 days. It was Brian Pillman’s final appearance on a WWF pay-per-view, before his untimely death.

It all happened 20 years ago tonight in Louisville Gardens.

 

Who Will Stand With Baron Corbin?

I’ve met a number of wrestling promoters over the last few years. You know what they have in common? Limited resources. The promoters I know are not millionaires. Most of them have jobs outside wrestling to pay the bills for themselves and  (in many cases) the promotions they run. They aren’t doctors either, and they don’t all have the means to have even an off duty paramedic standing by if something goes wrong.

The wrestlers who work for these promoters understand this. They understand the risk they take every time they step in the ring, no matter where they are or who is running the show. Everyone understands that bruises, strains, broken bones, torn ligaments, infections, and yes, concussions can and will happen. They don’t hold the promoter liable because they take responsibility for their own actions.

This is their love. This is their passion. They do it in spite of the risks for the love of the business.

That said, if a promoter is a billionaire, if that promoter has unlimited resources, if they have the means to put on multiple live broadcasts every week, if they have their own TV network, if they have millions of subscribers paying for that network and shelling out billions more on T-shirts and videos and other swag… that promoter has an obligation to the men and women they employ to provide the best healthcare and the best information about health and wellness to the people they employ.

If the story now out about Baron Corbin being “punished” for calling out a so-called expert on concussions for not speaking the truth, it’s another black mark on the biggest promotion in the business. The WWE treats wrestlers as independent contractors. They do this to avoid having to provide health insurance for the wrestlers. Translation: when you see the WWE live or on TV, you are watching non-employees risk their bodies, their brains, and their well being in order to make millions for a corporation that will not pay their medical bills if they get hurt.

Baron Corbin has every right to call BS when he hears it. The wrestlers and fans should call BS as well. WWE is not a side venture run by a man or woman who puts on shows weekly or monthly in addition to working their 40 hour a week job. This is what they do. This is how they make money, hand over fist. For once in his wrestling career, Baron Corbin is the babyface, but it looks like Corbin could become another casualty, another name swept under the rug for defying the corporate line.

Independent promoters don’t have the means to provide the best of medical care. Independent wrestlers know and accept the risks they take working for said promoters. There’s no excuse for a company the size of WWE to withhold the best of care and the best of information from the men and women whose sacrifices make their profits possible.

Who’s going to stand with Baron Corbin, inside the WWE, or out? Better get off your butts quick. We’ve seen what happens when you defy the company line.

The Real Queen of the Ring the WWE Won’t Tell You About

The WWE loves to rewrite history in its own image. They want you to believe that Bruno Sammartino was a greater champion than Lou Thesz. They want you to believe Andre the Giant never lost a match until Wrestlemania III. They want you to forget that Chris Benoit ever existed.

You get the idea.

The WWE is about to present its first all-women’s tournament, the Mae Young Classic. While there’s no question that Mae is a legend and a beloved figure within the WWE, naming the tournament after Mae is another subtle step to covering up the true history of women’s wrestling in favor of the WWE line.

I won’t disagree with those who say Mae Young is one of the greatest stars in women’s wrestling history. Mae was already a Hall of Fame- worthy star when Vince, Jr., was just in diapers, a gorgeous but violent gal who smoked cigars and picked fights with men in bars just to blow off steam. My issue is with the larger narrative the WWE has sold for years about women’s wrestling. It’s not about Mae; it’s about the lady the WWE sells as the “greatest” of all time.

You see the WWE wants you to believe that in the history of women’s wrestling, only one women stands above Mae’s legacy: the Fabulous Moolah. The WWE line is that Moolah was the greatest women’s champion of all time, reigning for 28 years straight. Moolah was the pride of Vince McMahon, Sr., and the gatekeeper for women’s wrestling for more than three decades. If you wanted to get into the business, you better get in good with Moolah, but don’t dare cross her.

Here’s what the WWE won’t tell you: Moolah was never a main event star. Moolah didn’t work two out of three falls matches multiple nights every week. Moolah did not pack auditoriums and stadiums from coast to coast based on her name alone.

Long story short: the Fabulous Moolah was no Mildred Burke!

For the better part of three decades, Mildred Burke was not only the top star in women’s wrestling but one of the biggest names in professional wrestling, period. Burke was a single mother living in Kansas when she met former wrestler turned promoter Billy Wolfe. Burke knew Wolfe was in the business promoting women’s wrestlers, and she saw an opportunity to give herself and her son a better life. Wolfe thought Burke was too small, and when she came in for a tryout, he handpicked a group of men to rough her up and send her packing. Burke took the beating and impressed Wolfe in the process, so Wolfe took her under his wing and trained her.

Burke began her career in the ring working the carnival circuit taking on all comers, including men. She allegedly wrestled more than 200 men in those early days, losing only once. She defeated Clara Mortenson to claim the women’s world champion, and her rise to the top began.

Wolfe knew he had a star in Burke, and he began to build a company of women’s wrestlers around her, including Ida Mae Martinez, Mae Weston, Gloria Barratini, June Byers, Gladys “Kill ‘Em” Gillam, and of course, Mae Young. Burke was a powerful and dynamic athlete who impressed the fans with her skill but could still dazzle them with her beauty and fashion sense.

Wolfe and Burke dominated the women’s wrestling scene from the late 1930s into the 1950s. They were married, but their marriage was more of a business arrangement than a vow of love. Burke had her affairs, including Billy’s son. Billy slept with numerous members of his troupe, anyone willing to trade sex for an advancement in their career.

The names at the top of the cards changed over the years, and most of the ladies had their shot working the big matches, including Mae Young. The one constant, however, was Burke, who proved without a doubt she was the top draw and the top talent in the group.

Burke’s run at the top ended shortly after her marriage to Wolfe, a bitter war culminating in a shoot match between Burke and Wolfe’s specially trained successor, June Byers. The match ended in a no-contest, with only one fall out of two decided against Burke. Burke and Wolfe both lobbied the NWA to be recognized that the go-to for women’s wrestling, but the NWA chose to wash its hands of both of them. Burke was blackballed by most of the promoters. Byers retired as champion, never becoming the money draw Burke had been.

The door of opportunity opened, and Moolah and her supporters seized the moment.

There are many reasons the WWE chose to push the Moolah’s revisionist history. Moolah had an axe to grind with Wolfe, who refused to let her take time off for her father’s funeral. Mae had her own axe to grind with Burke, whom she never got along with. Moolah and Mae pushed their version of women’s wrestling history in the documentary “Lipstick and Dynamite,” and the WWE furthered that story in their own programming and publications. To hear Moolah and Mae tell it, Mildred Burke was protected by Wolfe. Burke was no better a shooter than anyone else in the troupe. Both Moolah and Mae could have taken the great Mildred Burke down – had they only been given the chance.

History is written by the victors, and in some cases, by the survivors who live the longest. Burke’s star faded long before he death. She passed away in 1989, leaving no one to defend her legacy. Mae and Moolah were given a platform, and they rewrote the history of women’s wrestling in their own image.

Here’s the truth: without Mildred Burke, there is no Mae Young. Without Mildred Burke, there is no Moolah. Recent years have seen a great surge in the popularity of women’s wrestling, first in the independents and now in the WWE. But make no mistake: Burke reigned as Queen of the Ring in an era that to this day has not been surpassed.

I don’t want to diminish anyone’s enjoyment of the Mae Young Classic. Despite a few serious omissions (LuFisto, Mickie Knuckles, Kelly Klein), I am looking forward to the tournament as much as any women’s wrestling fan. I just want fans to be mindful of the WWE line and find out for themselves the true history of this sport.

Moolah is a Hall of Famer. Mae Young is a legend. But Mildred Burke is still the Queen of the Ring.

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