As the Attitude Era drew to a close in the early 2000s, the WWE already had an eye to the future. The stars who would succeed the Rock, Stone Cold, and the Undertaker were already well on their way to the big time, and Louisville, Kentucky had a front row seat to the future.They were all here: Cena, Orton, Batista, Lesnar. They were all on display every Wednesday night for free at Ohio Valley Wrestling. As incredible as that was, it was just another chapter in the story of a city that became the proving ground for the superstars of the future.
“Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville” covers more than 130 years of wrestling history in Louisville. From the barnstorming days of the circus wrestlers and William Muldoon, America’s first professional athlete; to the turn of the century when a man first took on the name Ed “Strangler” Lewis in Louisville; to the golden age of Lou Thesz and the Allen Athletic Club; to the glory years of Memphis wrestling; and finally the modern era of independent wrestling and OVW
Through newspaper accounts, biographies, documentaries, and personal interviews, author John Cosper compiled the story of a city, a sport, and the unique impact both had on one another. The Kindle edition of the book includes an introduction from Jim Cornette, more than 60 photos, and a final word from John Cena’s former manager, Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin. “Bluegrass Brawlers” is a must read for wrestling fans, sports fans, fans of the great city of Louisville, and anyone who can appreciate a good tall tale.
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Louisville’s Greatest Show
For 22 years, the Allen Athletic Club’s weekly wrestling show at the Columbia Gym was the place to be on Tuesday night. Promoters Heywood Allen and his successors Francis and Betty McDonogh overcame the Great Depression, the 1937 flood, a World War, and a “crooked” athletic commissioner to bring the best of the golden age of wrestling to Louisville.
Now for the first time, author John Cosper (Bluegrass Brawlers) presents the full story of “That Gang of Allen’s,” the wrestlers, referees, announcers, and others who made Tuesday Louisville’s favorite night of the week. This is the story of the true golden age of wrestling, when men and women wore their Sunday best to see hometown heroes like Blacksmith Pedigo, Kid Scotty Williams, Stu Gibson, Mel Meiners, Sgt. Buck Moore, and “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell mix it up with Lou Thesz, Gorgeous George, the French Angel, Buddy Rogers, Freddie Blassie, Johnny Valentine, Mildred Burke, Mae Young, Bobo Brazil, and Ginger the Wrestling Bear.
From mud matches to masked men; from Wild Bill Cantrell to Wild Bill Longson; from live TV to live alligators, the Allen Athletic Club was Louisville’s Greatest Show. This is the story of Louisville’s first great wrestling promotion and the families that made wrestling a vital part of the city they loved.
“Sensational!” – Jim Cornette
“As I read the last page it made me sad to be leaving this journey I’ve been on for the last few weeks. I will forever be envious of those folks who saw some of the greatest talent perform during those years, but never so much as I would of the card of November 27, 1954 or the opportunity to hang out at the Black Panther Carry Out. John, thank you for amazing book and awesome ride through history.” – Chris DeBoer
“Anyone interested in wrestling and are open minded to learning about the past generations will thoroughly enjoy it I feel. It is up there with Larry Matysik’s book on the St. Louis Wrestling Club as far as books on specific promoters/areas go. At the beginning John Cosper asks the question: ‘How did a community like Louisville become home to not one but two wrestling promotions that survived more than twenty years in the WWE era?’ By the end of it you’ll not only know the answer, but, you’ll understand it and feel as though you’ve been thoroughly entertained during the process.” – Jimmy Wheeler, Pro Wrestling Historical Society (5/5 stars)
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