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! 

Reunited: Bill Apter Interviews Dr. D David Schultz

It’s been a couple of decades since Bill Apter last interviewed Dr. D David Schultz. Last Thursday the two were reunited on Apter’s live video podcast. You can watch the replay below.

Dr. D will be back on Thursday night May 18 at 7 pm eastern time for part two with Bill Apter.

Autographed copies of Dr. D’s book are still available as well. $30 with free shipping in the US. Email johncosper@yahoo.com to order.

Indy Wrestling Show “Lacking” Compared to WWE

It had been a while since I attended a WWE show. At least a year. In that time I’ve attended a number of independent shows around town, extolling their virtues and hailing them as a better alternative to the corporate machine that is World Wrestling Entertainment. After attending Friday night’s Pro Wrestling Freedom show at the Jeffersonville Arena just a few weeks after seeing Smackdown Live, I can’t believe how blind I was. The WWE offers so much that independent wrestling shows just can’t deliver, there’s simply no comparison.

First of all most independents don’t offer you the chance to pay for admission by credit card. Pro Wrestling Freedom is one of many cash only promotions in town. If you want to get in, you have to go to the bank and get $15 cash from the machine for a general admission seat. It was so much easier and more convenient to go online and use my credit card to pay the $35 (plus $30 Ticketmaster fees) to get my upper arena seat for WWE.

Second, the independent show does not have a large staff of arena workers to sell $35 T-shirts and posters pre-signed by a select WWE Superstar. Do you know what they have instead? Actual wrestlers working the tables, selling their own woefully underpriced $20 T-shirts, along with wristbands, mugs, posters, photos, and even (in the case of The Bomb Shelter) energy drinks. Wrestlers like Tyler Matrix and Brutal Bob Evans were also signing autographs in person and even taking photos with their fans, all because the Arena and/or the promoter was too cheap to hire event staff.

That’s another thing you won’t find at an independent show. There’s no separation between “us” and “them.” At WWE Smackdown, the wrestlers (other than The Miz) hardly acknowledged anyone in the audience, and those who did only made eye contact with the front row. They did their business for the cameras and went back up the ramp, not to be seen again.

At Pro Wrestling Freedom it was pure pandemonium at times. Not only were wrestlers yelling at fans and fans at wrestlers, the action spilled out into the fans on several occasions. A stern announcer would occasionally get on the microphone and warn fans, “If the action is coming your way, grab your stuff and move!” sending fans scrambling around the Arena in search of safety.

This brings me to another thing missing from Pro Wrestling Freedom. There were no fans on their phones. There was no online chatter about the matches. More telling, there was no second guessing of promoter Jimmy Feltcher’s booking choices, wondering why this guy gets pushed over that guy and lamenting how much better things used to be. Instead of being good smart marks, who viewed everything they saw with a eye of a theater critic, they actually engaged with the wrestlers and the show as if it were a legitimate sporting competition.

Honestly, didn’t anyone in attendance Friday night know that everything that happened was pre-planned in the back? Did any of them realize that this was not real? It was just… entertainment?

All kidding aside, Pro Wrestling Freedom was entertainment. I can say the same for IWA Mid-South, for OVW, for Grindhouse, for Paradigm Pro Wrestling, and all the independent promotions in the Louisville area and beyond. Yes, these shows are “lacking” in the ways mentioned above, and to be honest, they are better for it.

Wrestling is alive and well. The more indy shows I attend, the more I appreciate the hard work of the men and women keeping it alive. It’s much more fun to go to a show where you’ll never hear a “Roman sucks” chant and where the wrestlers play to the crowd and not the viewers at home. And oh yes, it is a LOT cheaper to buy a ticket and support a wrestler directly by buying a shirt, a wristband, or even in my case, a mug. (Thank you for the stickers too, Nick Iggy!)

Pro Wrestling Freedom lacked nothing that the fans at the Arena were missing save one thing. Air conditioning. Let’s hope 2 Tuff Tony wasn’t working the crowd when he promised the “guy” is coming Monday.

The Best of Past and Present at Heroes and Legends X

Jayson Maples has something special going in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Heroes and Legends is a twice a year fan fest and wrestling show that combines the past and present seamlessly, and my second trip to this event proved to be just as memorable as the first.

The tenth edition of Heroes and Legends took place Saturday at the beautiful Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, beginning with a fan fest at noon. Early arrivals had the opportunity to meet my good friend Dr. D David Schultz as well as Greg The Hammer Valentine, Madusa, Bob Orton, Mean Gene Okerland, Slick, Tatanka, Koko B. Ware, and Tito Santana. Mixed in with these legends and some great vendors and artists (including the super talented Erik Hodson, who designed one of my science fiction book covers were some of today’s hottest independent stars like Jimmy Jacobs, Sugar Dunkerton, oVe, Sami Callahan, Veda Scott, Jessicka Havoc, Sawyer Fulton and Kongo Kong.

At 6:30 the lights dimmed and it was time for some wrestling action. This year’s show was a much longer card than the Spring 2017 edition, and every match delivered. Regular readers will know I am a sucker for heels who get into it with the kids, and #TheDraw Sami Callihan made my night when he went after two little boys in the front row. Callihan looked like Tommy Lasorda going after an umpire after a bad third strike call, screaming red faced at the boys and pretending to kick dirt on their shoes.

The past mingled with the present during the show just as they did during the fan fest headlined by Tatanka taking on Kongo Kong in a tremendous main event. Tito Santana and Cowboy Bob Orton gave fans a thrill when they stepped in the ring with the Heroes and Legends tag champs, Legendary. Bob Orton shocked the crowd with an RKO out of nowhere that nearly blew the roof off the building.

Sugar Dunkerton promised a surprise guest manager for his match against Jimmy Jacobs the day before the event. After making his entrance, Sugar introduced WWF legend Slick as his manager for the evening. Reverend Slick has not lost a step in his years away from the ring and gave Sugar the backup he needed to defeat the Zombie Princess. Referee Max Recon even got into the action and did the “Zebra Trot” when Jimmy Jacobs refused to get into a dance contest with Sugar.

With his tenth show in the rear view mirror, Jayson Maples has turned his eyes to fall and the eleventh edition of Heroes and Legends. My sincere thanks to him for a great day of wrestling and nostalgia. Thanks as well  to all the fans who came to see Dr. D, and my sincere apologies again to those who did not make it in time before he had to leave.

Dr. D Returns to the East Coast

It’s official – “Dr. D” David Schultz will be returning to his old stomping grounds in June. You can meet Dr. D in person at Legends of the Ring in Monroe, New Jersey on Saturday, June 9!

Autographs and photo ops are now on sale. Don’t miss your chance for this very rare convention appearance.

Go to the Legends of the Ring website for more information.

One For The Road

Since so many wrestling fans will be hitting the road tomorrow for New Orleans, Wrestlecon, and Wrestlemania, I thought I would compile a quick list for fans who need some podcasts for the road. Here are some recent appearances Dr. D David Schultz and I have made for your listening enjoyment:

John Cosper on the Ever Sick Podcast

John Cosper on The Tim Shelton Podcast

Dr. D on The 605 Podcast (Episodes 84 and 85)

Dr. D on The Steve Austin Show

Dr. D on The Jim Cornette Experience

Dr. D on Rasslin’ Memories

Dr. D and John Cosper on Hart Beat Radio

Dr. D on the Two Man Power Trip

If that’s not enough Dr. D for you, there’s one more on the way Thursday. Mike Johnson will be releasing an interview with the Doctor on PW Insider, just in time for Wrestlemania!

 

I Guess They Do Remember Dr. D

Dr. D David Schultz’s biography has been available a little over a month. In that time we have shipped autographed copies to: Denmark, The Netherlands, Austria, Canada, and The United Kingdom.

It’s a thrill to see that fans the world over still remember the Doctor. It’s even greater to see new fans discovering a man the WWE tried to bury, even after he defended the business at the request of Vince McMahon.

Dr. D will be meeting the fans in person April 21 at Heroes and Legends X in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and May 19 at the Bruiser Brody Memorial in East Carondelet, Illinois. He will also be appearing on a few more podcasts in the near future, including one every true wrestling fan will want to hear.

Thank you, fans, for welcoming Dr. D back!

The Dan Gable Museum Announces the 2018 Hall of Fame Class

The George Tragos/ Lou Thesz Hall of fame at the Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo is an absolute treat for pro wrestling fans. If you’re ever passing through Iowa, it’s worth the detour. If you’re really into wrestling history, it’s worth making a special trip.

Every summer some of the biggest names of professional wrestling past and present make their way for the Hall of Fame weekend. The museum just announced the dates, schedule, and honorees for the 2018 Hall of Fame including Owen Hart, Dan Severn, and Bruiser Brody. this three day event includes an eight man wrestling tournament and plenty of meet and greet opportunities for all-access pass holders.

The Hall of Fame weekend is July 26-28. Passes are now on sale, and special hotel/pass rates are available. For more information go to the Dan Gable Museum’s website. And please let them know I sent you.