Category Archives: WWE

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.

I’m Learning Japanese

Back in January, I set an unusual goal for myself. I decided I want to learn Japanese.

It happened because I decided to pick up New Japan for a month just to see Wrestle Kingdom. I had trouble navigating the mixed language site, and I ended up watching the show with the Japanese commentary instead of English. I loved it, and I was intrigued. So I decided to pick up Japanese.

Just a month or two before watching Wrestle Kingdom I heard Kevin Owens tell the story of how he learned English by watching Monday Night Raw. I wondered if it was possible for an American fan to do the same watching New Japan.

Four months later, Duolingo released their Japanese language module. I’ve been working at it ever since, and in July, I re-subscribed to new Japan World. Is it working? Well, no. Not yet. I’m still very much a beginner, but I’m determined. I’m also loving New Japan way more than WWE right now. As a matter of fact I’m planning to drop the WWE Network this fall and go exclusively with New Japan.

I’ll repeat that in case you missed it. I am unplugging WWE this fall in favor of New Japan.

Fans, if you are sick of what you’re seeing on TV, there are options. Vote with your remote. Vote with your subscriber dollars. Pick up New Japan World, or CHIKARATOPIA, or CZW, or High Spots. Or drop ’em all and get the free Rasslin’ channel on Roku.

The WWE doesn’t listen to your complaints on Facebook and message boards. As long as you keep on paying your $9.99 a month, they could care less what you say on Twitter, Reddit, or any other website.

You know what they do care about? People hitting the unsubscribe button. That’s how you get their attention.

Right now, the best wrestling is not at the biggest company. I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. If you are tired of being disappointed, stop setting yourself up for disappointment. Cancel the Network. Find something new. Find something you love and support that. Stop supporting the stuff that’s letting you down.

Opportunity Knocks for Indy Wrestling

Hollywood isn’t making movies for American audiences. The cost of blockbuster films has skyrocketed so high, they can’t make their money back if they make movies for American movie goers. Movies are being made for international audiences. Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Tom Cruise Mummy debacle… Hollywood doesn’t care if we like them or not. They make money overseas. They made enough money internationally to justify making more. This is the trend in Hollywood, and it’s spreading.

The WWE is doing the same thing. You want to know why the Great Khaki is back? You want to know why Jinder Mahal is your Smackdown champion? Because there are 1.3 billion people in India, an audience and a market the McMahons covet. It’s clear they are going after India, and it’s clear they don’t care if it costs them fans here.

While the WWE is focused on India, Jeff Jarrett is loading his roster to make Global Force Wrestling a household name. While the WWE continues to push for subscriptions overseas, New Japan is making in-roads in America, thanks in part to their partnership with Ring of Honor. New Japan now has an app for Amazon Fire and Google Chromecast. I am one of the many waiting for the Roku channel to be released.

This is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for the #2 and #3 American promotions to gain ground. It’s an opportunity for the #1 Japanese promotion to invade our turf. It’s an opportunity for the independents, who never lose sight of their base audience, to steal some thunder.

Two weeks ago on the Kick Out at Two Podcast, Righteous Jesse said something I’ve observed myself. Loops are coming back. Territories are re-forming. The more wrestlers network and share rides, the more promoters are willing to help each other out, the better it gets for everyone.

The time is ripe. It’s the best opportunity the modern day independent wrestling has ever had. Time to seize the moment, ladies and gentlemen.

The WWE wants India. Who wants America?

Six Inconvenient Truths About WWE and Indy Wrestling

I don’t like to editorialize about the WWE, and I don’t like to go negative in this space. That said, after hearing the air get sucked out of the building at the end of the Money in the Bank match, it’s time we face some inconvenient truths.

Inconvenient Truth #1: The WWE doesn’t want to push your favorite indy stars. Over the last several years they WWE has snatched up a dream roster of independent wrestling stars, but it’s becoming clear none of these signees are ever going to be “the guy.” Styles, Owens, and Rollins have done well carrying the top belts for long periods of time, but when push comes to shove, the WWE will always favor their own.

Inconvenient Truth #2: The WWE wants the next top guy(s) to be their guys. Never mind that independent wrestlers bring not only an established fan base but experience and ring saavy to the table. The WWE still believes it can manufacture stars from scratch at its Performance Center and push them over the independents. Get used to seeing Sami Zayn staring up in frustration at the latest home grown wrestler on top of the Money in the Bank ladder. This is your new reality in the WWE.

So why does the WWE continue to mine the independents?

Inconvenient Truth #3: The WWE is spending money on independent wrestlers to bleed the indies dry of their top stars. It’s not about enhancing the roster. It’s about hurting the competition by taking away their marquee stars and using those highly paid signees to put over their chosen elect.

So what does all this mean?

Inconvenient Truth #4: Any independent star who has a WWE contract needs to consider more than just the money. That’s a hard, hard thing to do when you’re looking at going from $25 a night to the top of the business, but is the WWE really going to give you your dream shot? The roster is overcrowded. Guys who were on top all around the world are forced to job to pre-fabbed stars. Dalton Castle, Kenny Omega, and the Young Bucks have made the right call, staying where they are instead of taking the money for a one way ticket to obscurity. (Remember how excited we all were when Anderson and Gallows got signed?)

Of course it’s easy for the guys who are being paid well to stay put, but what about the guys struggling to make it?

Here comes the most inconvenient truth of all.

Inconvenient Truth #5: Fans who are sick of it need to seriously consider where they spend their money. If you keep paying for a product you hate and refuse to spend a dime on ROH, NJPW, High Spots, CHIKARA, CZW, or any number of alternatives. Am I suggesting you cancel your Network subscription? Not necessarily. I am saying you should stop spending all that fat cash on T-shirts and Pops and Booty-O’s Cereal and spend a little more on a wrestling product you can care about!

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: one ticket to a WWE show costs the same amount as six tickets to an independent show; or two tickets and two T-shirts; or a six month subscription to the alternative wrestling network of your choice. The money you spend there goes into the pockets of real men and women who need and appreciate it far more than a faceless corporation that long ago decided it knows better than you what you want to see.

Inconvenient Truth #6: The WWE is not about to change its ways any time soon. Indy stars will continue to take the WWE money, and Inconvenient Truths 1-3 will continue to play out.

Knowing this to be true, you have a choice. You can continue watching a product you hate and griping about it online, or you can make a choice to spend your time and hard-earned money on a wrestling show you do love.

Life’s too short to spend on these Internet rants. I’m going to find something I enjoy.

PWG Answers Randy Orton

I could watch this over and over. Not just because PWG chose to troll Randy Orton. But because I love watching the Young Bucks and OI4K mix it up.

Indie Wrestlers Trolled Randy Orton

Indie Wrestlers Trolled Randy Orton terribly last night. = DIVE + RKOsCredits: Lucha Libre Online

Posted by Sportskeeda Wrestling on Monday, May 29, 2017

Crazy is not her only Super Power

A. J. Mendez-Brooks, formerly known as A. J. Lee, may not seem to be the most likely candidate to write a memoir. Only 29 years of age when she completed it, hardly the age one associates with such a book. She had a memorable run as WWE Diva’s Champion, and she was involved in main event storylines involving Daniel Bryan, John Cena, CM Punk, and Kane. But still… a memoir? What story could she have to tell.

It turns out A. J. has quite the story to tell, a story that not only can fill a book for demands to be told. Crazy Is My Superpower is more than just a memoir of her time in the WWE. Its the story of a remarkable life and a young woman who overcame some major challenges to achieve her dream.

A. J. Mendez-Brooks grew up in poverty, the child of “cool parents” who never truly grew up. It’s a heart breaking story of a family that was constantly on the move, always hungry, and always paying for the missteps of her parents.

It’s also a story of mental illness and bi-polar disorder, an affliction A. J. inherited   from her mother. A. J. holds nothing back as she talks about her mother’s struggle to come to grips with the disease as well as her own battles. Mental illness is an uncomfortable subject most people would rather avoid, but Mendez-Brooks strives to remove the stigma of the disease in hopes that others can discuss it more freely and, if necessary, get the help they need.

Yes, A. J. delves into her wrestling career, including a heart-warming look at the man she once called “Grandpa” and now calls her husband, CM Punk, but fans hoping for some inside dirt and stories from the road may be disappointed. Mendez-Brooks takes the high road when discussing people who stood in her way, and the focus of the story throughout remains on the impoverished young woman who rose to become a record-setting WWE champion.

That’s not to say the book is disappointing; not in the slightest. A. J. Mendez-Brooks is a wonderful writer. She will make you belly laugh one minute and tug at your heart in the next. Crazy Is My Superpower succeeds at not only being an entertaining read, but an inspirational one. It’s about girl power, it’s about pursuing your dream, it’s about breaking the stigma of mental illness, and it’s about empowering those who need help to seek it out, just as she did.

Crazy Is My Superpower is a story wrestling fans and non-fans need to read. It’s more than just the memoir of a wrestling career. It’s an incredible story of overcoming all odds to achieve a dream.

Bravo, A. J. I hope this is only the first of many books we get from this superpowered writer.

Flips and Dives

Randy Orton is a 13 time world champion. He is one of the must under-appreciated workers of his time. He is also the owner of one of the best and most loved finishing maneuvers in wrestling history. Period.

Randy Orton is employed by the world’s largest wrestling promotion. They have millions of fans the world over, and yes, they put more butts in the seats than the guys in my area who work a 100 seat arena.

That doesn’t make one better than the other. They are different.

I used to be a WWE only fan. Then I discovered independent wrestling. I haven’t traded one for the other, but I get a completely different experience at an indy show with 100 people than I do at a WWE show.

Independent wrestling is more interactive. The wrestlers can hear you and will always respond. They are not curtailed by the needs of a TV schedule or protocol set in the back.

At most shows, the independent wrestlers have a lot more freedom to move out and into the crowd as well. You don’t doze off staring at a jumbotron on the other side of the arena; if you’re not paying attention, you could end up collateral damage.

Independent wrestling also gives you more bang for your buck. I’ve said it many times, you can walk out of an indy show with a ticket and two T-shirts for less than the price of a cheap seat at a WWE show. Yes, independent wrestling can be a mixed bag, but with a little research you can find out who’s hot, who’s not, and who is can’t miss.

And contrary to popular belief, you will even find some workers who know how to slow down, work a body part, and tell a story.

The WWE gives fans an experience no independent can reproduce. It is a spectacle on a scale the old territories never dreamed of presenting. The independents offer an experience the WWE can’t and won’t give their fans. It is a throwback to what made wrestling great in the first place.

With all due respect to those who have never experienced the indies, there’s something for everyone in pro wrestling, and for those who have discovered the joy of flips and dives in a 150 seat Armory, there’s nothing in the world that compares. Not even the WWE.

It’s not better; it’s different. And that’s okay.

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