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The Golden Age for Wrestling Research

Andre the Giant - The Eighth Wonder of the World

The 2020 CAC James Melby Award Winner Greg Oliver just posted a terrific editorial on Slam! Wrestling about the quest to chronicle pro wrestling history. After reading an advance copy of the Andre the Giant biography, Oliver was struck by the incredible depth of research in the spook, especially when compared to an infamous earlier bio on the Eighth Wonder of the World. Oliver suggests we’re living in a golden era for wrestling historians and research, thanks to the resources that are not only now available but being utilized by writers and researchers everywhere.

I share this because I absolutely could not agree more. I have only been at this game for seven years, having taken my first dive into the newspaper microfilms at the Louisville Free Public Library in January of 2013. The access to such archives has improved tremendously in that short time, thanks in large part to archives such as newpapers.com. In 2013 I was hunting and rooting, scrolling through film after film and then scanning the weekly Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and occasionally Friday and Saturday sports pages. Just a few short years later I was finding results much faster from my home office, scanning the same Courier-Journal newspapers but using the advanced search features available online. In less than four months, I had a complete 22 year record of the Allen Athletic Club. Between my work schedule and family life, it would have taken me years to compile the same data at the library.

Every year it seems more wrestling fans and history buffs are jumping in the waters. As a community, we are uncovering, recording, and preserving the history of professional wrestling faster than ever thought possible. This is a golden age for the wrestling historian. It’s also a golden opportunity for fans and especially workers to learn that history for themselves.

This past weekend, when a wrestler at PPW told me about the stack of wrestling books he was reading, I added to it and gave him a copy of the Black Panther book. I always love hearing that a wrestler wants to know the history of the business because that tells me, this is someone who wants to learn from the past. This is someone who appreciates those who came before. This is someone who might just discover something that hasn’t been done in decades and use it (making what is old new again) to become a star.

Whether you’re a wrestler, a referee, a manager, a student, or just a fan, I encourage you to do the same. Read the Andre book. Read Have a Nice Day. Read Lou Thesz’s incredible autobiography Hooker. Read Queen of the Ring. Read Adnan Al-Kaissie’s hard to find/ harder to put down memoir. Your favorite past time has an incredible past. More and more, it’s there waiting for you to discover.

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Paradigm Pro Is Still Here!

PPW: So Far Gone

Jordan Rose summed up the mood in the Sellersburg American Legion Post on Friday night for all the fans in attendance at Paradigm Pro Wrestling’s January event. After losing their building just a few weeks before, thanks to a suspicious phone call placed to the nearby city of Clarksville, the powers that be at PPW were able to find a new home quickly. Not only were all the previously booked wrestlers in attendance, PPW likely drew a few extra fans thanks to the cash bar at the back of the room. In a spirit of defiance and pride, Rose directed his gaze at the steadi-cam perched on the announcer’s table and sent a message to the man or woman who not only evicted PPW from Malice Manor but managed to get Girl Fight’s most recent offering canceled:

“WE’RE STILL HERE!!!”

The recent incident is not the first one of its kind. Not in wrestling, not in Kentuckiana, certainly not in recent memory. It was just a few years ago that two more phone calls successfully shutting down IWA Mid-South at Jammerz Rollerdome while unsuccessfully attempting to close the Arena in Jeffersonville. The so-called snitch was identified as a rival promoter who has since vanished from the area, along with his promoter. The identify of this recent caller remains anonymous, and in all fairness, it could just as easily be a local do-gooder rather than a promoter will ill intent. Nevertheless, it’s worth sharing a thought I’ve spoken only privately up until now.

If you are running 5000 fans a week, you have a territory to defend.

If you are running under 200 a week, as all the local promotions on both sides of the river are, you do not have a territory. You have NOTHING to defend.

Run your shows, and let everyone else be.

Be thankful for the loyal fans you have, and remember – even out of those 200, at least half are patronizing the other guys too.

With all that said, let’s go to the show and talk a couple of highlights:

First, let’s talk about the Lost Boys. I’m thrilled to see Hoodfoot has connected with Adam Slade and what appears to be a great faction. If you get the chance to see (or book) this group, do it. Adam Slade, Bradley Prescott IV, Hoodfoot, and the rest are hungry, talented, and most of all – fun. These guys are fueled by a love of wrestling and entertaining. Great to see so many of them on the show.

I finally got to see Warhorse Friday night, and wow, that was a fun match with the aforementioned Bradley Prescott IV. I love this guy’s look, too. His promo photos remind me of Zartan. He’s got a great gimmick, and he really connects with the fans. I’ll go see him any day.

It was great seeing Reed Bentley again, but I have to admit, I’m questioning these stories he told me when we first met. Reed tells me he trained in an actual ring, but he spends so little time wrestling inside a ring, I don’t know if I believe him. Joking aside, it was fun seeing him in a singles match again. Much as I love him with John Wayne Murdoch (who I will get to) and their all-out wars as the Rejects, it’s nice to see both those guys show what they can do as singles.

Billie Starkz is a superstar in the making. The girl connects with the fans like another young lady I first saw wrestling locally back in 2014 who just made her third appearance in the Royal Rumble. She’s already where Crazy Mary was skill wise at that time, and she’s five years younger than Mary was at that time. Enjoy her while she’s young, fans. She won’t be in this area for very long once she hits 18.

Calvin Tankman is a monster. He is big, strong, agile, and OVER with the fans. Not sure why he is “unsigned” but that’s a status I would expect changes before the end of this year. 

The PPW title match went on second to last, which is what happens when you have John Wayne Murdoch scheduled in a street fight. The Duke of Hardcore can do no wrong in the eyes of fans around these parts, and everyone was thrilled to see the doors, steel chairs, and other implements of destruction set out for the main event. It’s almost a foregone conclusion in these moments that JWM is always going to win this type of match, and you could feel the shockwave ripple through the crowd when the referee counted three and raised the hand of…. Nolan Edwards? Yes!! It was Edwards who defeated John Wayne Murdoch in his own specialty match. Edwards has scored several huge wins as of late across the region against top stars, not the least of which was Kongo Kong, and now he has a huge statement win at PPW. PPW has already proven to be a launch pad for young stars, introducing fans to guys like Corey Storm and Ace Austin. Nolan Edwards is poised to have a breakout year in 2020. 

Oh, and speaking of break out stars, PPW fans better enjoy every chance they get to see Dominic Garrini up close. The bare-footed shooter has an invitation to the eight man tournament that kicks off the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame festivities this July in Waterloo, Iowa. Other competitors include Colt Cabana, Mad Man Fulton, Mr. Anderson, Gary Jay, and the man Garrini most wants to get his hands on – Ken Shamrock. This is a high profile tournament and an incredible opportunity for Garrini.

PPW will return to Sellersburg on March 27 for their next Heavy Hitters event. Fans who want to check out this outstanding and (so far) unkillable promotion can follow them on Facebook for more information.

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Jams and Slams – A Night of Pro Wrestling and Roller Derby

I haven’t been blogging in a long, long time.

It’s been a busy few months.

But, I’m going to be giving this another go, starting with this great event out of Baldwin, Missouri coming up Saturday night!

The good folks at Dynamo Pro Wrestling are presenting a night of both pro wrestling and roller derby, two sports that are not only a total blast but have always shared a common bond. Matter of fact, I have it on good authority that the great Bobby “The Brain” Heenan loved roller derby girls.

Anyway, I’ll let the promoter speak for himself on this one. If I was close by, I’d be there. It’s going to be one heck of a show! And hey… Hayley Shadows is on the card! That’s always a great thing!

Dynamo Pro Presents Jams & Slams

“Jams and Slams” – A Landmark Event for Dynamo Pro Wrestling & Arch Rival Roller Derby

It seems apropos that the respective worlds of professional wrestling and roller derby would cross paths in today’s landscape of sports promotion. Historically fixtures in pop culture and the evolution of broadcast television, the two sports are often joined at the hip (or perhaps better defined, a hip toss and hip check) for their own brand of mayhem that is enjoyed by multi-generational audiences. Dynamo Pro Wrestling and Arch Rival Roller Derby will join forces for “JAMS & SLAMS”. This event will take place on Saturday, February 1st at Midwest Sport Hockey, located within Queeny Park in Ballwin, Missouri.
This co-promoted event marks the first-time that both sports are presented locally under the same roof. “We’re excited to be a part of this event,” said Dynamo Pro Wrestling owner Jim Yount. “Pro wrestling and roller derby are a great match together that will appeal to fans of both sports.”
The featured attraction of the evening finds Dynamo Pro Wrestling women’s champion, the “Empress of Evil” Rahne Victoria, defending her title against “The Barbie Killer” Hayley Shadows. Both fought each other in a grueling match in St. Louis at “New Year’s Brawl”. Victoria, who has held the title since its inception in August 2018, made the challenger tap out after several near-falls. “Hayley’s a very worthy opponent,” Victoria has respectfully said of her adversary. “However, I’m always ready to show her, and everyone else, why I am the Dynamo Pro Wrestling women’s champion and why I will remain champion.”
In the co-main event, a “Bragging Rights” contest between a pair of title holders will take place as Dynamo Pro Wrestling heavyweight champion “Lights Out” Adrian Surge meets Dynamo Pro Wrestling D-1 champion Camaro Jackson. Although neither title is on the line, both men have their pride and reputation at stake. The pair faced each other on May 16th, 2019 as Camaro challenged Surge, who had regained his championship the month prior, but was unsuccessful. As Surge has continued his title reign, Camaro continued training hard and focusing on gaining another opportunity at a Dynamo Pro Wrestling championship. At “Thanksgiving SLAM!” on November 30th, 2019, Camaro Jackson was able to acquire his first championship in Dynamo Pro Wrestling, by winning the Dynamo Pro Wrestling D-1 championship. At “New Year’s Brawl”, Camaro Jackson silenced a great deal of his critics by defeating “The Yoga Monster” Mike Sydal in his first defense of his championship.
Prior to this important match-up, both champions have been focused and respectful of their opponent. Camaro Jackson spoke quite highly of Surge. “Adrian Surge is a man of class and integrity. He has the respect of the locker room and of his peers as well.” Jackson’s tone of voice changed as he continued. “Unfortunately, this isn’t about shaking hands and kissing babies. It’s about showing who is “the man”…who is the champion of champions in Dynamo Pro Wrestling. Surge may be a two-time champion, but I’m a champion with a chip on my shoulder. This Saturday, I plan of putting “Mr. Lights Out” in his place…and that’s behind me at #2”. Surge made a similar statement about his challenger.  “Camaro has been impressive in his fairly short tenure in Dynamo Pro. But, I’m the reigning two-time Dynamo Pro Wrestling heavyweight champion for a reason. I will be Camaro’s first real trial in Dynamo Pro. I will walk out the better champion at “Jams and Slams”. One thing is for certain at “Jams and Slams”. This match will easily one of the most important matches in Dynamo Pro Wrestling history.
C.J. Shine and The Snitch are no strangers to one another. These two men have been rivals within Dynamo Pro Wrestling for over three years. A former Dynamo Pro Wrestling heavyweight champion, the charismatic C.J. Shine is one of the most popular wrestlers in Dynamo Pro Wrestling. The Snitch is one of the most diabolical wrestlers in Dynamo Pro Wrestling. Having argued for nearly two years that there is a championship conspiracy between himself and Dynamo Pro Wrestling management, The Snitch retained a lawyer and refused to compete in Dynamo Pro Wrestling until his professional demands were met. In a surprise return at “Thanksgiving Slam”, The Snitch hid in the crowd until his return. The Snitch, through his legal representation, has stated that he will hold championship gold in Dynamo Pro Wrestling by the end of 2020. These two men will continue their rivalry at “Jams and Slams”.
When Dynamo Pro Wrestling fans and wrestlers alike are asked about who they feel is the greatest champion in Dynamo Pro Wrestling history, many of them say the name Outtkast. Between his two tag team championship reigns and two D-1 championship reigns, Outtkast has held championship gold in Dynamo Pro Wrestling for nearly three years. Outtkast is a model competitor, leaving everything in the ring and always willing to take time out for his fans. At “Jams and Slams”, Outtkast will square off against one-half of the Arch City Mercenaries, Jimmi LaFleur. LaFleur is a wrestler that is not afraid to let his actions speak just as loudly as his words. The outspoken LaFleur spent time in 2019 under suspension from Dynamo Pro Wrestling due to his attacks on Ricky Rodriguez outside of his home and on a member of the Dynamo Pro Wrestling media department during a backstage interview. Even though he is considered extremely volatile by many within Dynamo Pro Wrestling, no one can question his in-ring ability. At “New Year’s Brawl”, Jimmi LaFleur saw his year-long reign as Dynamo Pro Wrestling tag team champions ended. LaFleur has stated that “2020 will simply be the Year of the Arch City Mercenaries. We will not slip into obscurity. We are faster, stronger, and angrier than we have ever been. At “Jams and Slams”, Outtkast needs to prepare for the punishment.”
In addition to a great night of Dynamo Pro Wrestling action, the Arch Rival Roller Derby will continue their regular season. At 6:30 P.M., the event launches with local roller derby action as the defending champions, the Smashinistas, will be facing five-time ARCH kingpins, the Stunt Devils. The Smashinistas are paced by Cloak N’ Drag-Her, Frowntown, Skeevie Nicks, Smash Money, WyldeSyde, Shady Hawkins and Skulpix. With a win at “Jams and Slams”, the Smashinistas (1-0) will guaranteed automatic placement in the Arch Rival Roller Derby championship final. The Smashinistas are at no loss for words prior to this contest. “As for those Devilish Stunts, we will not be bamboozled or baited by their tricks,” said Smashinista Drag-Her. “One of their leaders, I think it was Black Dyna-somthin’, told me to stay home on Saturday! Nope…not falling for it!”
Meanwhile, the Stunt Devils counter with a line-up that includes Sir Ian McKillin’, Slamgelina Jolie, Rhonda Lousy, Black Dynasmite, Shiv Tyler and Bette Davis Thighz. A victory will put the Stunt Devils into a tie in the standings. When asked for comment prior to this eagerly anticipated contest, Sir Ian McKillin stated, “We’re super-excited. We know going up against the defending champs is going to be tough, but we’re looking forward to it,” “On and off the track, the Stunts are ready to party and get weird.  We’re ready to do some battle on the track against our foes in the green and gold, but then we’re ready to kick back and enjoy some wrestling with them after!”
Adult tickets are available at the door for $15 each. Children ages 10 and under are free. They are several special ticket discounts available for this event as well. For ticket information, please check out the Arch Rival Roller Derby website at www.archrivalrollerderby.com. Come out and witness St. Louis professional sports history on Saturday, February 1st as Dynamo Pro Wrestling and Arch Rival Roller Derby present “Jams and Slams”!
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Back to Basics

I had a great time in 2019. Not only did I meet some amazing people and share some fantastic histories with my readers, I had a chance to bridge the gap between wrestling and fiction. I released four short novels in conjunction with independent wrestlers, including Ella, Charlie Kruel, and the Bomb Shelter. I also produced a collection of short stories inspired by 19th century wrestlers and a pure science fiction novel that may… okay, does have a nod to pro wrestling in it.

All that said, in 2020, I’m getting back to what built Eat Sleep Wrestle. I’m releasing one biography by Jimmy Wheeler and two autobiographies co-written by me over the next several months. I am also planning to take on the story of Dangerous Danny McShain in partnership with his nephew Danny Daymon, and I am determined to make some headway on the story of Wee Willie Davis.

I’ll throw this out as well… if anyone has memorabilia or information about Elvira Snodgrass that has yet to com to light, please reach out. I’m not 100% sure there’s enough information out there to fill even a short book, but she remains a huge fascination for me.

Eat Sleep Wrestle is here to honor the past and celebrate the present. I want to turn wrestlers, referees, and promoters on to the stories of the past as well as fans. There’s much we can learn from those who made the business great. There are gimmicks and ideas that haven’t been seen in decades that are due for a revival. And there are unsung heroes, like McShain, Davis, and of course Jim Mitchell, whose stories need to be told.

Okay enough stalling. Back to editing Tracy Smothers’s book.

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Coming in 2020

Happy New Year again, wrestling fans. Here’s what Eat Sleep Wrestle has in store (so far) for 2020:

Babe: The Story of How Alphonse “Babe” Bisignano Turned Out Alright

Up until now, almost everything ESW has published has been written or co-written by John Cosper. This winter we are proud to bring you the first book by Professional Wrestling Historical Society founder Jimmy Wheeler. Alphonse “Babe” Bisignano, aka Babe Carnera, was an Iowa pro wrestling legend. He was also a boxer, bootlegger, a restauranteur, a promoter, a cook book author, and an icon in the city of Des Moines. This is a colorful story about an unsung hero of the past history buffs will really enjoy.

If You Don’t Buy This Book, Everybody Dies!

The long awaited Tracy Smothers autobiography is on the way! We have been hard at work on this for months, even during Tracy’s cancer treatments, and it’s going to be a doozy. It’s the longest book yet from ESW, and it’s jam packed with your favorite Tracy stories and many you’ve never heard.

Scott Romer’s Autobiography

No one else can tell you stories about rubbing shoulders with Dick the Bruiser, Mel Brooks, President George H. W. Bush, Muhammed Ali, and Israeli intelligence because no one has lived a life quite like photographer Scott Romer. He has seen sport legends, Hollywood royalty, and world leaders through the lens of his camera, and his life story is a real page turner.

In addition to these books, I have at least three more projects in the works to be announced later!

I have just two personal appearances scheduled so far for 2020 that I can announce, but I’m excited about both. In April I am headed to ASW in West Virginia to see Gary Damron’s promotion in action. I’ll be there April 18 to see Mad Man Pondo and Tracy Smothers inducted into their Hall of Fame, and Hurricane JJ Maguire is coming with me!

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, I’ll be returning to Waterloo in July for their annual pro wrestling induction weekend. I had a fantastic time back in 2018, and I am looking forward to bringing more books and more of Jim Mitchell’s personal effects to display for fans in attendance.

This is only the beginning. Looking forward to what else 2020 brings my way!

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Well, That Was a Busy Year

So 2019 was a busy year. During the last year Eat Sleep Wrestle published seven books:

Two novels with the Bomb Shelter: A Scattered Timeline and Curse of the Undead Bride.

A novel with Charlie Kruel.

A novel with Ella.

I wrote and released wrestling music impresario Hurricane JJ Maguire’s autobiography.

I wrote and released Grappling by Gaslight, a short story collection about wrestling in the late 1800’s.

And I finally released the biography of wrestling’s first African American superstar, The Black Panther Jim Mitchell.

In addition to all that…

I attended my first Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion and presented Dr. D David Schultz with the Male Wrestler Award.

I got “Colonel” Stu Gibson inducted into the New Albany High School Hall of Fame.

And unrelated to wrestling, I released a science fiction novel I really, really like called Die Alan Die.

2019 was busy.

2020 is already looking to be just as busy. There may not be as many books, but there will be a lot happening. I’ll post more about that in a few days. In the meantime, you can save 20% on your entire order when you shop here and use the coupon code “2020” at checkout. Coupon code expires January 10.

Happy New Year, wrestling fans.

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Heather Reckless is Coming!

Heather Reckless knows how to make an impression.

Her height alone makes her stand out in a crowd. Not that she’s the biggest, mind you. The Seth Rollins protege only 4’9”. But she wrestles with all the fury of someone twice her size.

Indie wrestler gets absolutely launched out of the ring with a high cross from r/SquaredCircle

Many fans got their first look at her in a video that went viral last month, where another wrestler literally flings her overhead, out of the ring, into a crowd. The first time I saw her was in Vegas last spring. One of the other ladies in a triple threat match tried to toss her out of the ring and sent her face first into the middle rope. Her neck snapped back, and she fell awkwardly out of the ring. It was a simple misjudgment, probably due to her short stature, but Heather was in her feet and walking it off in no time.

As soon as I got home, I told Pondo about her. I told him Heather Reckless is tough as hell, and he needs to bring her in. I was thrilled to see her on the card for the Wisconsin show a few months back, and I’m very excited she will be in the house on January 14 when Girl Fight moves in to Malice Manor.

Girl Fight’s We Rule the World show has a card that will not disappoint, from the hard-hitting strong-style power of Heidi Katrina to the death-defying antics of Heather Reckless. This is a show you won’t want to miss.

Visit the event page on Facebook for event and ticket information.

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Smothers Tough

Whenever the subject of toughest wrestler comes up, fans in the know never fail to mention Tracy Smothers. The first thing everyone mentions is the fact he wrestled three different bears over five matches. That’s plenty to brag about. But fans who pick up his autobiography in 2020 will be stunned to read about the riots, the shoots, and the backstage brawls Tracy has survived.

Tracy just went public about his toughest fight this week. He is currently battling stomach cancer. Over the past two months we’ve conducted interviews during hospital stays, chemo treatments, and wicked bouts of illness and infection. There have been nights he could barely talk, but he refused to take a break. Working his book kept his spirits up and kept him going.

I can tell you that all the stories about bears and riots don’t even begin to tell how tough this man is. Cancer should have known better than to pick a fight with Tracy Smothers. He’s going to crush this illness. It will just be one more story from an incredible life full of nasty, hard-won fights.

Like Tracy said on Facebook, this is not the end. It’s just a tune up, a repair job. He’s got a lot of dings under the hood, but he’s got a lot of miles left to go. I’m proud to call him a friend, and I cannot wait to unleash his full story next year.

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The Fight Goes On At Girl Fight

Girl Fight shouldn’t be running a show next week. As a matter of fact, Girl Fight should have ended just fifteen shows in.

It’s no secret that Girl Fight was created to help a current WWE Superstar who was once involved with founder Mad Man Pondo. It was intended to be a vehicle to help her network with other ladies in the wrestling business while getting experience working with some of the best veterans in the independent ranks. When said WWE Superstar ended her relationship with promoter Mad Man Pondo, he was ready to call it quits. He didn’t want to carry on.

Then Su Yung spoke up. The former Girl Fight Champion and Impact Wrestling Women’s Champion told Pondo that what he had done for his ex, he had also done for others. Yes, Girl Fight began as an opportunity for one young woman, but over the last several years nearly 200 young women have benefitted from the promotion. Su urged Pondo not to quit. She urged him to continue the promotion for her and for the other girls who had found value in this crazy idea. Other ladies chimed in and said the same. Thirty eight shows later… here we are.

Midnight Girl Fight 4: Pick Your Poison will be a show unlike any Girl Fight has presented. It’s a mixed tag team tournament featuring young stars like Ella, Charlie Kruel, and Billie Starkz as well as the return of the always unpredictable Mickie Knuckles. At the same time, Girl Fight is more of the same. By the same, I mean it’s a place where the girls can meet, network, and learn as they do battle with one another. It’s a tradition that has spanned more than a dozen states now and continues to win new fans with every outing. It’s not going anywhere, and 2020 is going to be a big year for Girl Fight.

You can buy tickets now by clicking here and purchasing direct from Mad Man Pondo. Or buy your tickets at the door. Remember, doors open at 10 pm WEDNESDAY evening, November 27, with a bell time of 11:59 pm.

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Grappling By Gaslight is now available!

Sometimes Amazon makes me wait. Sometimes they surprise me.

The surprise this morning is that Grappling By Gaslight has shipped from the printing house a week early! I will have physical copies in hand tomorrow, so the book is now available for purchase on my website. Signed copies will be ready to ship out Tuesday, and if you use the coupon code blackfriday (which is valid through Cyber Monday 12/2/19), you get 20% off your entire order. Click here to order.

As for all you Amazon shoppers, well, the book’s already available! You can go directly to Amazon and purchase it now by clicking here.

Grappling By Gaslight is a collection of historical fiction short stories based on the exploits of pro wresting’s earliest heroes. From the circus wrestlers to the con men to the barnstormers, these trailblazers paved the way for generations of grapplers to come. Order now and get it signed!