“We Are All We’ve Got” – Why CAC Matters to Fans and Wrestlers

I just made my first trip to the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion this past week. It will not be my last. I made some great connections and memories, and I will tell many of those stories on this blog.

But first thing’s first. Today is about why you – whether you are a fan, a wrestler, or another worker in the business – need to join CAC.

Cauliflower Alley is not another wrestling convention. It is not another event like Starrcast or Wrestlecade or Wrestlecon. It is a 401c non-profit charitable organization created more than 60 years ago to support aging wrestlers and other workers in the business in times of need. It is an organization created so that today’s fans and wrestlers can lend a hand to the men and women of yesteryear as a way of saying thank you.

Put another way – Cauliflower Alley provides financial assistance to people who spent their entire careers working as independent contractors. It pays the bills for those who are in debt, it pays for necessary medical care and medication, and it provides relief for those in need.

This past week I was able to see Rico Costantino speak about what CAC has done for him. Just a few years ago, Rico was facing a dire medical emergency and mounting debt. He was unable to work, and he was unable to pay for the medical care he needed. CAC came to the rescue (as did his old manager Kenny Starmaker Bolin, a lifetime member of CAC). Rico is alive and well today in part due to the assistance CAC provided him.

Rico is not the only one. He’s one of the few who has allowed CAC to use his name to promote their services out of gratitude for what they have done for him. Last year, CAC stepped in to assist Brickhouse Brown and extend his life by six months. They are currently assisting James “Kamala” Harris in his medical and financial struggles.

As John Oliver recently made clear, the biggest wrestling company in the world does not provide any sort of medical insurance or retirement planning to its independent contractors. Many wrestlers are able to transition into second careers and provide for their families, but bad things happen and many people, through no fault of their own, find themselves in serious medical or financial emergencies.

CAC is a lifeline. It was founded by wrestlers for wrestlers to support those who need it most. Joining CAC allows you, whether you are a wrestler, ref, promoter, fan, journalist, announcer, blogger, or whatever, to be a part of that relief. Joining CAC is a tangible way to say thank you to wrestlers who have fallen on hard times and help them to get back on their feet.

As the MC for the awards ceremony Wednesday night, Jim Ross continually implored those in attendance to invite others to join CAC. He urged young attendees especially to spread the word so the work of CAC does not die out with the older generation.

“Do you think the people on ESPN give a shit about wrestling like we do? Do you think your non-wrestling fans give a shit what happens to wrestlers when they retire? We are all we’ve got.”

He’s right. If you’re a fan or a worker, you know no one cares about wrestling like wrestlers and their fans. CAC membership is only $25 a year. That’s a small price to pay to get started supporting this great organization. CAC is completely non-profit, completely volunteer. From President B. Brian Blair and Vice President Scott Teal on down, no one earns a dime working for CAC. Many staff work 10-14 hours days from February and April, and they all pay for their own reunion tickets as well as transportation costs and even vendor fees.

What’s more, most of the money collected from membership dues, reunion tickets, advertising fees, and vendor fees goes to wrestlers in need. “The only expenses are what we pay the hotel space, the meals, and, and printing,” says Scott Teal. “Other than that, every single penny that we receive goes to recipients.”

If you love wrestling, you owe it not only to yourself but to your heroes to join CAC. Go to their website now www.caulifloweralleyclub.org and start your annual membership. And please give serious consideration to joining them for the 55th annual reunion next spring. It is an incredible, life-changing event that you will never forget.

Monday Night with Mark in Vegas!

Hey Vegas! Mark Henry wants you to join him for the second stop on his Monday Nights with Mark tour next week. Mark will be in town to receive the Mike Mazurki award from there Cauliflower Alley Club, and he will be watching Monday Night Raw with fans at this special event.

This is your chance to eat, drink, and hear stories from the WWE Hall of Famer in a small setting, all while enjoying the live action of Monday Night Raw. Fans will receive an autographed photo and a limited edition T-shirt. The event takes place at Aces and Ales at 2801 N Tenaya Way in Las Vegas Monday, April 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. Pacific Time.

Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite. Must be 21 or older.

When We Wanted to Be Hulkamaniacs

I’ve mentioned in interviews and possibly on this blog that my introduction to wrestling books came through a friend of mine who moved in with me during the summer and fall of 2004. His name was Randy, and he’s the guy with the frightened expression sandwiched between me and my friend Jamie. It’s largely because of him this website and all the books on the website happened.

But this is not that story.

In addition to bringing his VHS tapes and books, Randy brought wrestling music – lots and lots and lots of it.  His digital music collection included everything released from WWE, WCW, and ECW. He also had another wrestling-related album the three of us came to adore: Hulk Rules by Hulk Hogan and the Wrestling Boot Band. 

I’m not making this up. This is not some spin just because I am not working with Wrestling Boot Band maestro “Hurricane JJ” Maguire on his memoir. When the three of us were out and about and we weren’t listening to No Doubt or Green Day, we were listening to wrestling music. Hulk Rules was our favorite, with our three three tracks being “Beach Patrol,” “I Wanna Be a Hulkamaniac,” and “Hulkster in Heaven.”

One evening we were dropping Jamie off at her house. As soon as she shut the car door, we rolled down the window, cranked up the stereo, and serenaded her: “The car just lost another Hulkamaniac.” Jamie laughed so hard, her Dr. Pepper shot out of her nose all over the sidewalk. 

It completely blows my mind that I am working with the man who put all the music behind Hulk Rules together. JJ Maguire has lived an amazing life, and readers are going to love his Hollywood movie star stories, his rock n roll stories, and yes, his wrestling stories. But it really was a thrill when I found out that beyond “Sexy Boy” and “Cool Cocky Bad,” JJ was the music to Jimmy Hart’s lyrics on Hulk Rules.

Say what you want about the album, the songs are fun, and there’s a charm to them that is undeniable. I was sick to death of “American Idiot” before that summer was over, but I never got sick of hearing “Beach Patrol.”

“‘We love to party, party, party!’”

Who Wants to Watch Raw with Mark Henry?

How would you like to watch Monday Night Raw with a WWE Hall of Famer?

Mark Henry is giving fans that opportunity starting this spring as he kicks off a new tour dubbed, Monday Nights with Mark Henry. Fans get the opportunity to watch Raw alongside the World’s Strongest Man and hear stories from his amazing life and career. Attendees will also come away with a one-of-a-kind Mark Henry T-shirt and an autographed photo. You might even hear Mark tell a story or two about the Black Panther Jim Mitchell!

Four dates have already been announced: April 15 in Nashville, April 22 in Kansas City, April 29 in Las Vegas, and May 6 in New York. Tickets start at $65 and can be purchased now on Mark’s website. Must be 18 or older to attend.

Visit Mark Henry’s website for more information and tickets.

Photo credit: www.themarkhenry.com

Get to Know the World’s Strongest Man

I’m an intermittent WWE Network subscriber. I picked it up last month for the Rumble, and while it’s not set to auto-renew, I’ll pick it up again for ‘Mania. It was good timing this time around because not only did I get to enjoy a spectacular Halftime Heat during the Super Bowl, I got to see the debut of the new documentary about Mark Henry.

If you didn’t see it after the PPV last night, make time to watch it this week. It has all the great memories you want to relive (the faux retirement speech in the salmon colored jacket) as well as the ones that make you cringe (Mae Young). It also pulls back the curtain to reveal the genuine, humble person he is in real life. As strong as his body is, his heart is ten times stronger. The film details the many losses he’s suffered personally and professionally, and the hard lessons learned in and out of the ring. The film also highlights the loving father and husband who truly believes his kids are his greatest legacy.

If you’re not already a fan of Mark Henry, the World’s Strongest Man documentary will make you one. It’s a stellar reintroduction to the WWE Hall of Famer and soon to be Cauliflower Alley Club Award Winner. You can stream is now on the WWE Network.

Cauliflower Alley Club to Honor Dr. D in 2019

Some people sacrifice their bodies for professional wrestling. Some sacrifice more. In December of 1984, “Dr. D” David Schultz did what he was trained to do. He protected the business that put food on the table for his wife and daughter. He received more praise than criticism for slapping John Stossel by knocking John Stossel, but it still cost him his career.

In 2019 the Cauliflower Alley Club will honor “Dr. D” David Schultz with the Men’s Wrestling Award at their Reunion in Las Vegas. It’s an honor long overdue and much deserved, and it’s an honor that comes from his peers.

Congratulations to my friend “Dr. D” David Schultz on this honor!

Nine Days Until the Rich City Comic and Pop Con

On Saturday November 3, Eat Sleep Wrestle will be in attendance for the first annual Rich City Comic and Pop Con in Richmond, Kentucky. John Cosper will be on hand with books as well as two special guests.

Mad Man Pondo is a deathmatch legend, a veteran of nearly 30 years who has been hit with everything from light tubes to barbed wire bats. He’s toured North America, Asia, and Europe, appeared in a feature role in the horror film 2001 Maniacs, and been a featured character in multiple video games. He’s rubbed shoulders with great and near great celebrities including Marilyn Manson, Vanilla Ice, and Jonny Fairplay, and he’s shared the ring with legends like Terry Funk, Junkyard Dog, Nikolai Volkoff, and Kevin Sullivan. He is the founder and promoter of Girl Fight Wrestling, and his autobiography Memoirs of a Mad Man has been a top seller on Amazon.

Hurricane J.J. Maguire (far left in the photo above) is a musician, composer, producer, and singer. For a brief time he was a member of the Gentries, and his life-long friendship with “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart led him into the world of professional wrestling. For nearly two decades he composed and recorded wrestling themes for WWF and WCW Superstars including Shawn Michaels, the Honky Tonk Man, Bret Hart, Demolition, and Hulk Hogan. He was also the chief composer and musician on Hulk Hogan’s solo album and performed with Jimmy Hart and Hogan. His upcoming autobiography will feature stories about his time with WWF, WCW, and Hulk Hogan as well as encounters with music legends like the Beatles and a very young Simon Cowell.

Mad Man Pondo and Hurricane JJ Maguire will both be at the Eat Sleep Wrestle table at the Rich City Comic and Pop Con on November 3 at the Richmond Mall, 830 Eastern Bypass in Richmond, Kentucky. The show runs from 10 AM to 4 PM, and admission is free. Come say hello, buy some merch, get some autographs, and take some photos. And be sure to visit the other great artists and vendors who will be in attendance. Rumor has it an old pal of mine named Clive the Zombie may even make an appearance.

Meet Mad Man Pondo and Hurricane JJ Maguire on November 3

November 3 is the first annual Rich City Comic and Pop Con in Richmond, Kentucky, and Eat Sleep Wrestle will be there. Joining me for this special event will be Mad Man Pondo and “Hurricane JJ” Maguire.

Mad Man Pondo is a deathmatch legend, a JCW Hall of Fame who released his autobiography “Memoirs of a Mad Man” this past summer. Pondo will be signing books and taking photos with fans as well as promoting his own Girl Fight Wrestling promotion.

“Hurricane JJ” Maguire is an unsung legend, the composer and co-author of over 100 wrestling themes. Maguire partnered with Jimmy Hart on songs like “Sexy Boy,” “Honky Tonk Man,” and the song from Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth’s wedding, “Together.” He also appeared in our recent short film, “War Chant Eddie.”

The Rich City Comic and Pop Con takes place at the Richmond Mall, and admission is free. Come meet Pondo, JJ, and myself and see all the other amazing vendors.

And be sure to “meet” my old pal Clive the Zombie at the Moturoais booth.

NXT: The Best of Both Worlds

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. I’ve been on vacation, and I’ve been working hard to get Mad Man Pondo’s book ready for release. (We’re almost there, I promise.) Out of the blue yesterday, I found myself at NXT in Louisville, Kentucky. Long story short: I remembered why I fell in love with NXT originally, and I found an even deeper appreciation for the “other, other” WWE brand.

I won’t review the show, but here are some thoughts on an unexpected trip to NXT.

The War Raiders look like a tag team from a bygone era, both their look and the way they hit. I miss them in New Japan, but it looks to me like they’re doing just fine.

EC3 walks and talks like a face that could run the place. Only a matter of time before he’s one of the guys on the signage over the toy shelves.

Fabian Aichner has real potential as a heel. Great match against EC3.

Aliyah is a heat magnet she knows how to enrage a crowd, and she revels in it. I loved watching her introduce herself, only to get “Who are you?” chants in return.

Kairy Sane has to be seen live to be fully appreciated. She is electric. Even when she was at ringside watching her tag team partner Candice LeRae, she was always on. She also gave the crowd a laugh when she joined in on the “Who are you?” bit with Aliyah.

My happily married buddy Kevin Cordell says Adam Cole is his “boyfriend,” and having seen him live, I can see why he’s so infatuated. Adam Cole may be the most entertaining wrestler I’ve ever seen live. His psychology with the crowd, his charisma, and his sense of humor make for a killer combination. He played with the crowd the entire match, and they played back. He’s supposed to be the bad guy, but how do you hate a man who is that good?

Speaking of good, Raul Mendoza is a show stopper. I’m pretty sure most of the fans had no clue who he was when he made his entrance, but they won’t forget him. Props to Cole for making him shine.

The NXT tag division is outstanding, and so much better than the Red and Blue brands. After the opener between War Raiders and TM61, we were treated to O’Reilly and Strong vs. Lorcan and Burch. Both matches were terrific.

Kassius Ohno is still in my mind the most under appreciated man in wrestling. He does not have bad matches. And the Louisville crowd was solidly behind the man they will forever know as Chris Hero. Terrific match with Velveteen Dream.

It was a bit disappointing not to see Ricochet in action, but the Kentucky native received a very warm welcome when he made an appearance to hype his confrontation with Dream at Saturday’s Takeover show.

Nikki Cross is nuts, and her fans wouldn’t want her any other way. While sitting in a corner, she heard a fan shout, “Hey Nikki!” Nikki turned and gave the crowd her crazy eyed grin. “Kick her butt!” said the fan. Nikki nodded in wild-eyed agreement. No words needed to be said. She’s a non stop whirlwind of insanity, and I love it.

Shayna Baszler had more heel heat than anyone else on the show. All night long, the fans split on the other heels, especially Adam Cole and Velveteen Dream. There was no split with Baszler. She has pure heel heat. She’s going to do well in WWE.

Lars Sullivan is a classic monster in the French Angel mold. He’s also a terrific athlete. He had a war with Aleister Black in the main event that ended in a DQ win for Black, setting up their Takeover main event Saturday.

Major props to all the stars who signed the poster for the guy celebrating one year cancer free. After the first match, it looked like word had spread backstage, and everyone made a point to sign the poster.

Huge props as well to Aleister Black for his post match interaction with the fans. This was my first time seeing Black in person, and after collecting his title belt, he rolled out of the ring and started making his way around ringside.  He went around twice, posing for selfies with every single fan who wanted one. A true class act.

The NXT show took place at Broadbent Arena, a smaller venue than the YUM! Center Smackdown took over two months ago. The crowd was much smaller for NXT, but that actually made for a better show. The wrestlers engaged the fans more, and the fans were much more into the action here than at Smackdown. I didn’t hear a dozen disinterested conversations around me because the NXT crowd came to see wrestling. They are the Network subscribers, but they’re also the die hards who know guys like Adam Cole and Chris Hero and Candice LeRae from the independent scene. It’s a shame the crowds aren’t bigger for NXT, but then again, it would be a shame to ruin the wonderful thing NXT has going.

NXT has the top level talent and production of the WWE paired with the heart and spirit of the indies. It is the best of both worlds. 

A very big thank you to Kassius Ohno for inviting me to the show last minute. He was one of our very first interviews for Mad Man Pondo’s book before his return to NXT. After all these years of near misses, it was great to finally sit down and talk with him. Thank you again for your hospitality. See you down the road!