Indy Wrestling Podcast Round Up 8/25/17

Here’s what’s happening in some of the best independent wrestling podcasts this week (and last week, since I dropped the ball last weekend).

The Dave Dynasty Show featured the Van Zandt Brothers, native Hoosiers and long time veterans of the Midwest wrestling scene.

On Talkin’ the Business this week, KC and Dave review the Summerslam 2017 pay-per-view and bring you the story of up and coming wrestler Logan James.

The Kick Out at Two Podcast presents their “tired and hung over” episode featuring the very popular bad boy, Joey Janela, who recently debuted for Righteous Jesse’s Southern Underground Pro promotion.

While you’re downloading that episode, go back a week and download their interview with the legendary Tracy Smothers. Tracy is a true legend, a mentor to many young stars of today, and a wrestler who fears no man or bear. That’s right, I said bear.

Download The Dave Dynasty Show, Talkin’ the Business, and Kick Out at Two wherever you find or steal your podcasts!

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.

Wrestling History Found! The Black Panther Jim Mitchell

This past summer, I got in touch with a man named Dave. Back around 2003 Dave purchased a mansion in Toledo at auction that used to belong to a man named Jim Mitchell. Dave had no idea who Mitchell was at the time. He was looking for an opportunity to fix up a house in need of some TLC and make a little profit. As he went through the mansion, room to room, he discovered that he had bought the house of a wrestling legend.

If you’ve read my books about wrestling in Louisville or followed my blog, you know that “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell is one of my favorite subjects. One of my earliest blogs was a story about Mitchell that you can read by clicking here. It was that blog that led one of Dave’s friends to email me and put the two of us in contact.

Dave is retired now and looking to clear some room in his house. He’s not a wrestling fan or a collector, and he’s asked me to try and help him sell some of the articles he’s collected regarding the Black Panther. Some items that will be for sale include:

Jim Mitchell’s wrestling boots and trunks

Mitchell’s suitcases

Mitchell’s Masonic robe and sword (He was a member of the Masons)

A collection of over 3000 rare smoking pipes from around the world

Photos, programs, booking papers, letters, and other papers.

I’m planning a trip in late September to visit Dave, take some photos, and sort through his collection. Until then I won’t have a clear idea of what is available or what condition it is in. If you are interested in knowing more, please email me and I will add your name to the growing list of potential buyers.

I am especially interested in finding some collectors who are interested in the Masonic items and the pipes. I already have a list of a dozen people interested in the wrestling items, but we’re hoping to find some collectors of these other interest areas who might pay more for those items.

More on this as Dave and I get our ducks in a row and I get a chance to see what he has for myself. It’s a dream come true to come across a treasure trove like this. I can’t wait to learn more and tell this man’s story.

A Fan Remembers the Allen Athletic Club

I had the privilege of meeting a man named Jim Oetkins today. Jim was just a kid when the Allen Club was running on Tuesday nights at the Columbia Gym in Louisville, Kentucky, and he still has the scrapbook he used to record the weekly results. It’s an incredible treasure trove of big names and priceless memories. I’m looking forward to reading through it in the next few weeks.

Jim had some great stories about that era, including a road trip he took with two local stars, Mel Meiners and Sgt. Buck Moore of the Louisville Police Department. Mel (the father of WHAS host Terry Meiners) delivered milk to Jim’s home when he was a kid, and one day, Mel stopped to invite Jim on a road trip. “He was going to Owensboro with Buck Moore and some young guy they were training,” says Oetkins. “My father wasn’t too keen on me going, but he knew Mel, and everyone knew Buck.  He was as clean-cut, All-American as you can get.”

Jim rode with Meiners, Moore, and the trainee to Owensboro for a show promoted by former wrestler and Louisville favorite, “Kid Scotty” Williams. On their way into town, Meiners decided to have some fun. “He put on a wrestling mask, and he started to mess with the other drivers,” says Oetkins. “He would roll down the windows, get their attention, and grunt at them! I was afraid we’d all be arrested or something.”

Scotty Williams was on hand at the venue when they arrived along with his wife. “They were wonderful people,” Oetkins remembers. “They also had a joke waiting for Buck. Buck had some rather large breasts for a man, so his wife handed him a gift – a huge bra! ‘I thought you might need this tonight,’ she told him.”

Jim was able to confirm several things I had not been able to fully prove in my research. First and foremost was Scotty Williams’ promotion in Owensboro. I found mention that he was planning to move that way in the old newspaper clippings, but a friend in Owensboro was never able to find anything in their local papers to corroborate the story. Jim also confirmed that in the Lou Thesz-Buddy Rogers rivalry, the majority of local fans actually preferred Rogers over the champion Thesz.

Jim told me that Wild Bill Longson was also a big favorite, despite working as heel much of the time. “He was around for so many years, he was the guy to many people.” He also said there was only one true queen of the ring in that era. “There was something about Mildred Burke that stood out. You could tell she was different than the others.”

Jim was a teenager at the time, and he was old enough to know that something was not on the level with the wrestling he enjoyed every Tuesday night. He put the question to Mel while they were in the car. “Is it really fake?”

Mel thought a moment and answered.  “Let me put it this way. I’ve got a wife and several kids at home. And most of the guys I work with, they have kids at home. I’m out here doing a job to help put food in their mouths, and so is the guy I’m wrestling. I don’t want to ruin that guys’ chances to provide for his family, and I hope he doesn’t want to do that for mine. We’re out there to wrestle, but we’re also out there to do a job. And we want to keep on doing that job so we can keep taking care of out families. You know what I’m saying?”

“He didn’t need to say any more,” said Jim. “I thought it was a wonderful way to put it.”

If you’d like to know more about Louisville’s golden age of wrestling, the era of Mel Meiners, Buck Moore, Scotty Williams (not to mention Lou Thesz, Buddy Rogers, Bill Longson, Jim Mitchell, and Mildred Burke, you can find it all in Louisville’s Greatest Show: The Story of the Allen Athletic Club, now available in paperback and on Kindle.

Indy Podcast Round Up for August 12

Here’s what’s happening on my favorite indy wrestling podcasts this week:

Dave Dynasty welcomes Izzy Slapawitz to his podcast on Monday, August 14. Dave is hard at work on a new YouTube compilation series featuring a number of matches from various promotions in the Midwest. Should be exciting.

The story collectors at Talkin’ the Business have the Ace of Spades Ace Austin on the show. They promise an inspirational story of knowing what you want from an early age and stopping at nothing to get it.

Finally, Kick Out at Two presents the first of their interviews recorded live at the 2017 Scenic City Invitaitonal in Chattanooga. First up is an early morning live Q&A with SCI competitor Corey Hollis.

Check out these podcasts on iTunes or wherever you happen to download or steal your podcasts every week, and get to know who’s who and what’s happening in independent wrestling!

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.

Indy Podcast Round-Up 8/5/17

Want to know what’s happening in independent wrestling, particularly in the Midwest and Southern states? Here are a few podcasts to get you started.

Kick Out at Two has been a friend of Eat Sleep Wrestle for a long time. This week, amid preparing to visit the Scenic City Invitational and hosting Southern Underground Pro Wrestling’s show on Sunday August 6, they took the time to interview Brutal Bob Evans. Bob is the Obi Wan Kenobi of today’s indy scene. He’s the guy giving everyone the tough, common sense talk that if they apply it will help them expand their brand and build their business as a pro wrestler.

Kentucky’s own KC and Dave on Talkin’ the Business pride themselves on bringing their listeners the best stories from the indy wrestling scene. They love shining the spotlight on guys and ladies most folks haven’t heard of (but soon will), and this week their guest is rising star Axton Ray. TTB and KOAT are both new every Friday on iTunes and wherever you download your podcasts.

The Dave Dynasty Show broadcasts out of south central Indiana every week on Mondays. This coming Monday Dave’s guest is one of the most influential trainers and veterans in the region, the great Al Snow! Dave’s show can also be found on iTunes and other fine podcast outlets.

Final note for this week’s indy round-up is not a podcast note but a TV programming note. If you’re not watching Impact wrestling, you will want to start this coming August 17. The best kept secret in the Midwest, the phenomenal tag team of Jake and Dave Crist, will make their debut on Impact as oVe: Ohio vs. Everything. Check out the teaser below.

Ali vs. Inoki: The Forgotten Legacy

I wrote a while back that if you visit the Muhammed Ali Center in Louisville, there’s one fight from the Champ’s career that is very conspicuous by its absence. It’s the legendary – some would say infamous – boxer vs. wrestler match that took place in 1976 against Japan’s Antonio Inoki. While many people look on that match (if they glance at it at all) as a disaster and a public failure, the battle between Ali and Inoki in many ways opened the door not only for the rise of sports entertainment and the WWE, but mixed martial arts. At least that’s the contention of MMA writer Josh Gross, who has shed a bright light on the forgotten Ali match in his book, Ali Vs. Inoki.

Gross has put together a phenomenal look at one of the most bizarre chapters in boxing and wrestling history. The 320 page work is an exhaustive look at the events leading up to the fight, the participants on both sides, the fight itself, and the aftermath. Gross covers the fight from all sides, giving his reader a perspective from all sides on the fight including Ali and his handlers; Ali’s corner man, the great Freddie Blassie; referee and deciding judge “Judo” Gene LeBell; and the enigmatic Inoki and his seconds, including the legendary shooter Karl Gotch, whom Gross maintains could hardly contain himself from entering the ring and twisting both men, Ali and Inoki, in knots. Gross also tells some amusing stories about the WWWF side of the story, including a tale told by Vince McMahon, Jr., about taking Ali down in his hotel room. The reader is left to decide for him or herself if they believe McMahan’s version of events. (I for one, am not buying!)

Gross is an MMA guy, and his bent leans toward the world of mixed martial arts all the way. Nevertheless, he gives a fair and balanced look at the world of professional wrestling as well as boxing. Ali Vs. Inoki is a must read for any fight sports fan and a must have for wrestling book collectors. It’s a brilliant look at the fight some want to forget but no one ever will, a turning point in the career of Muhammed Ali (who never was the same after the bruising his legs took during the bout), and a groundbreaking matchup that inspired a new wave of fight sports that continues to thrive to this day.

Ali Vs. Inoki is available on Amazon.com.

Wrestlers Read Free!

Today’s post is a shameless plug, but it’s a shameless plug with heart!

I’ve made this offer in private to a few people I’ve come to know I the wrestling business, but now I’m making it public. Long before I was writing about wrestling, I was writing science fiction. Space opera, sci-fi comedy, nothing heady like Asimov but fun and adventurous like Flash Gordon meets Douglas Adams. I have several novels and a short story collection published in print and ebook formats.

If you’re in the wrestling business, and you enjoy reading this type of fiction, I’d like to hook you up for free.

If I have your attention, I invite you to take a look at my personal website, www.johncosper.com, and take a look at the books now available. If you see something you like, Email Me and I’ll be happy to send any and all books you want in PDF or ePub format.

Sounds great, man, but I don’t read ebooks. I like to hold a real book. 

I completely understand. If that’s the case, email me the title or titles you want and we will work something out.

Is it okay if I share the books you send me with other wrestling friends? 

Absolutely. Matter of fact as long as you’re sharing with people who are willing to say, “Hey, I read a great book and you should too,” you can share with anyone you like.

If you need something to read on your next road trip or long flight, please visit www.johncosper.com and Email Me to get your books.

Indy Books: The Next Step to Growing Your Territory?

Today’s independent wrestling workers are very tech savvy. They use Youtube as an endless library of wrestling videos, a place to study wrestling’s past and improve their work. They use sites like Pro Wrestling Tees to sell their merch online. They use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites to promote shows, themselves, and grow their network.

The Internet has played a huge part in growing the new independent scene. Now, a new website has come along that will give wrestling workers an even better opportunity to grow their brands and their opportunities.

Indy Books is a social media platform specifically for wrestlers, promoters, referees, and other workers in the business. Think of it as a LinkedIn for wrestling. This is a place to connect with friends in the business, make more friends, discover uncharted territories, build your own loops, plan carpools, and most importantly, grow your brand.

I was excited to read about Indy Books because the potential for a site like this is huge. It consolidates wrestling contacts into one place. It allows promoters and wrestlers to advertise open dates to one another in a more private forum than Facebook and other open social media platforms. Used well, Indy Books can be the place where previously undiscovered diamonds in the rough can launch their careers faster than ever.

If you’re a wrestler, promoter, ref, etc. I encourage you to visit Indy Books and set up your profile today. As I wrote the other day, the time is ripe for the independents to rise up. Sign up for Indy Books, and seize the day.