The Heroic Choice of John Wayne Murdoch

The last time I saw John Wayne Murdoch, he was falling backwards through a table on the shoulders of Shane Mercer from the top turnbuckle. Murdoch is as hardcore as they get. There’s no bump, no height, no foreign object that scares him. But of all the brave things John Wayne Murdoch has done in the ring, none compare to what he did last week.

Just a few days after the great Daniel Bryan announced his retirement due to concussions, Murdoch announced his departure from the same business. It may not be retirement for Murdoch just yet, but it will at least be an extended absence. Like Bryan, Murdoch is suffering from severe post-concussion symptoms. It scared him enough to go to the doctor, and the doctor’s diagnosis convinced him he needs a break from the business he loves dearly.

John Wayne Murdoch does not have an “angel” like Bryan has in Vince McMahon. There’s no billionaire promoter paying him not to wrestle. He has made this impossible choice on his own, and he deserves all the credit in the world for doing so.

As much as we know about the human body, especially the brain, there’s no bravery in fighting through head injuries. No matter how high your tolerance for pain may be, it’s not worth it to continue destroying something that can never recover from the damage caused by concussions. There are plenty of ways to stay involved in pro wrestling that no one should continue working past such a dangerous point of no return.

If you see John Wayne Murdoch at a show or on social media, thank him for all he has given to the business, then honor him by sharing his story with someone else. No one wants to see a promising wrestling career cut short, but we need more men like Daniel Bryan and John Wayne Murdoch to show the world that there are some things more important than stepping into the ring.

Just got back from a Girl Fight

If you are in the Midwest and you haven’t seen a Girl Fight show, you’re missing out.

Tonight’s show at The Arena in Jeff played to a packed crowd of 165 plus. It was standing room only in the back, and the crowd got their money’s worth and more.

The Jeff show featured 19 wrestlers from across the US and Canada, and the ladies brought it. Crazy Mary Dobson and Cheerleader Melissa put on an intense, stellar match while Taeler Hendrix and Truth Martini earned the ire of the crowd with a delightful heel performance in the main event.

The biggest surprise of the night had to be the weapons match between Heather Owens and Samantha Heights. It felt like a mismatch to me at first; I’ve seen Samantha Heights on a number of occasions, and while she’s always been a big talker, she didn’t strike me as the hardcore type. Heights proved she belongs by taking an end-over-end stunner from Heather Owens. She’s come a long way in the past few years, and from the crowd reaction, tonight felt like a star-making moment for her.

Mad Man Pondo took to the ring at intermission to announce the April 12 show will be a first ever in Louisville inter-gender show, Gender Wars, and the card for that show could not be more stellar:

Randi West vs. John Wayne Murdoch

Samantha Heights vs. Ron Mathis

Thunderkitty vs. Tracy Smothers

Crazy Mary Dobson vs. Aaron Williams

Heidi Lovelace vs. Shane Mercer

And your main event…

Mad Man Pondo vs. Jessica Havok – falls count anywhere.

Inter-gender wrestling isn’t for everyone. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan. But Pondo’s put together a promising, entertaining card featuring a number of my personal favorites. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next show is even more crowded than tonight.

Bravo, Pondo, and bravo, ladies.

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One year later… top ten posts

It’s been a year since I started this blog experiment, and it’s been exciting to see it grow. Here are the top ten posts from the past year:

The Black Panther Jim Mitchell1. The Black Panther Jim Mitchell – Still working on this book, though it’s taking longer than anticipated. Other opportunities and the difficulty of finding solid info on this forgotten trail blazer have made it difficult, but it’s still in the works. Happy to see this was the top post from year one.

2. Help Kenny Bolin Tell His Story – The story is now out and available from Amazon.com, with some help from fans who responded.

3. Everybody Loves Blue Pants – Interview with NXT’s most electric unsigned star. Thanks again to Mad Man Pondo for the hook up.

4. Who is Dean Hill? – Profile on OVW’s legendary announcer.

5. Khloe Belle Turns Hero – “Sista don’t care” in the ring, but outside the ring is another matter.

6. The Outlaw Returns – Profile on wrestler turned actor Ben Wood.

7. Is Shane Goode Enough? – Shane Mercer’s had a tough month, but he got some well deserved attention during the lead up to Tough Enough.

8. Meet the New Owner of HWA – A second life for a beloved promotion in Ohio promotion.

9. A New Hoosier Promotion EMERGEs – Profile on central Indiana’s EMERGE wrestling, available to watch on Roku’s Indie Wrestling Channel.

10. Meet Mary Elizabeth Monroe – She’s now going by Kelly Klein in Ring of Honor, and she’s one to watch in 2016.

Given that independent wrestling dominates the top ten, you can expect more of the same in 2016 from this blog. I also have several book projects in the works in addition to the Black Panther. I’ve been working with the daughter of Lord Leslie Carlton on his biography. I just started a book on women’s wrestling. And research continues on a new Louisville book focused on the Allen Athletic Club of the 1930s-1950s.

Thanks for reading.

Against all odds, IWA Mid-South is still here

2040_10153423236782039_2284983274109263709_nProfessional wrestling has been called a man’s soap opera. This is true in the ring and backstage. Any place you find there drama of wrestling in a ring, there’s bound to be drama in the locker room.

The Louisville/ Southern Indiana area is flooded with wrestling promotions right now, and right now, at least two of those promotions are in turmoil. Time will tell if any of the small promotions running in Southern Indiana will last. Time has already spoken for IWA Mid-South.

I am not  “Kool-Aid” drinker, nor an apologist for Ian Rotten. Ian has his flaws, but he has always been kind to me. He has also done a lot of good for the sport of professional wrestling. He’s been in business for 19 years, and he’s helped just as many rising stars as Ohio Valley Wrestling. Ian has won and lost many battles in and out of the ring, but while dozens of indy promotions have come and gone, he is still in business.

Ian posted the following on his Facebook page last night. It may sound harsh, but I know him well enough to believe he means every word of this without any malice.

 

“So, it’s two days from Christmas which means the New Year is just right around the corner, so I have to take the time to get this out.

“I need to explain to the many, many promotions that are running in my area (I know this will get to you from either your wrestlers or your fans)… with the exception of OVW you could put all of your shows together and it wouldn’t equal half as many of the shows I’ve ran, so listen to me when I say this. Some of you will be offended by this, but all of you shouldn’t be. Believe me when I say this… I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU. I do not consider you a threat. I do not consider you a competition. I don’t have quote-unquote heat with any of you. I wish each and every one of you the best in business, and you should take the time to stop worrying about everyone else and worry about your own business, your own fans. I hope all of you can last as long as I have, but remember, I’m still here out of pure stubbornness and an incredible dedication and love for this business. To so many of you young wrestlers out there, I will say this – to get booked, show up early and leave late. Prove that you have dedication to your craft and are willing to pay dues. This gets you over a lot more to me than, ‘Yo, when you gonna book me?’ When yo! I don’t even know who you are! In the end, care more about your business than other peoples business.

“Hope everybody has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!”

Ian’s not looking to put anyone out of business. He knows that competition is a good thing, and he wants to see independent wrestling grow. But unlike his would-be rivals, Ian is not fighting to build an audience. He has an audience. Some have been with him from the beginning. They left only when he had to shut his doors, and they were back the moment the doors were open. They followed him from building to building and across state lines for decades, and they’ve embraced the men and women who came through the doors as their own.

Ian built a brand people care about. He established three events – King of the Deathmatch, Queen of the Deathmatch, and the Ted Petty Invitational – that have helped to launch the careers of indy and WWE stars. He doesn’t stoop to the level of those who wish to talk trash on social media because he knows the moment you mention your competition, you put yourself beneath them. (Please take note of this advice, young promoters!) IWA Mid-South alumni are fiercely loyal, and he is loyal to them in return.

No, Ian is not perfect, but he loves wrestling with every fiber of his being. He wouldn’t be where he is if he did not love the business, and IWA Mid-South would long have become a memory.

Ian is hosting a huge show this Saturday, the day after Christmas. It’s a benefit for the family of Shane Goode, aka “The Iron Demon” Shane Mercer. The talent line up for this show is outstanding, and some faces you don’t normally see at IWA-MS will be there in support of Shane. It’s a great chance to have a look at a promotion that has defied the odds and stood the test of time. Click here for details on the Christmas benefit show.

A Goode Cause

“The Iron Demon” Shane Mercer is one of the most impressive young stars you’ll see in indy wrestling. He is quick, agile, and deceptively strong. He can fly off the top turnbuckle, and he can take your breath away with astonishing feats of strength.

Right now, Shane’s focusing on another battle. His mother is gravely ill and has been hospitalized for some time. He’s off the road for the moment so he can be by her side, and he’s had the love and support of his wrestling family every step of the way. Right now, Shane Goode and his family can use the love, prayers, and support of the fans.

A friend of the family has started a web page for those who would like to help. Any amount would be a blessing. It’s Christmas, folks, so give if you can, pray if you believe, and let’s hope for the best.

Much love and blessings to Shane, his mother Jeannette, and those who love them.

Please click here to support the Goode family.

The Ted Petty Invitational Returns

The rumors you’ve heard are true.

Yes, IWA Mid-South is hardcore.

Yes, the fans live for blood and gore.

Yes, they were so violent back in the 90s, they were kicked out of Kentucky.

But if you think IWA Mid-South is all blood and guts, think again.

This Friday, IWA Mid-South is resurrecting the “other” tournament it is famous for, the Ted Petty Invitational. The tournament began in 2000 as a showcase for the best technical wrestlers in the world, and in 2002, it was named in memory of Ted Petty.

If you’ve never heard of Ted Petty or the tournament that bears his name, here’s a look at the participants from the 2002 edition.

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Pictured in this photo: Christopher Daniels, Jimmy Rave, Matt Stryker, Colt Cabana, Spyder Nate Webb, “Sick” Nick Mondo, M-Dogg 20 (Matt Cross), AJ Styles, Ace Steel, Chris Hero, BJ Whitmer, Tarek the Great and CM Punk.

Not pictured: “All That” Matt Murphy, “Kamikaze” Ken Anderson & Super Dragon.

Other past participants include Nova, Mike Quackenbush, Jerry Lynn, Chris Sabin, Sonjay Dutt, Nigel McGuinness, Samoa Joe, Matt Sydal, Hallowicked, Kevin Owens, Delirious, Davey Richards, Ricochet, Low Ki, Tracy Smothers, and Sami Callihan.

Not enough name dropping for you? How about Sara Del Ray (the woman behind NXT’s Four Horsewomen), Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, and Daniel Bryan?

Yes, IWA is hardcore, but it is much, much more than that.

Some of the IWA Mid-South faithful say this year may prove to be the best tournament ever. With names like Kongo Kong, Chris Hero, Reed Bentley, Hy Zaya, Shane Mercer, and Masada on the card, they may be right.

The action kicks off Friday night at the Colgate Gym in Clarksville, Indiana. Click here to go to the event page for ticket information. 

You’re welcome.

A Ninja Sighting on Raw

Last night I posted a comment from IWA Mid-South Champion Shane Mercer on the blog. Eagle-eyed WWE fans spotted the man himself at ringside during Raw last night:

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The same fans who recognized Shane also spotted one of his chief rivals (and real life travel partner) inside the ring.

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The man giving medical attention in this still from Raw is Hy Zaya, aka “The Hood Ninja.” He is a former IWA Mid-South and CCW World Heavyweight Champion with over a decade of experience in the ring. He’s a Louisville native and legitimately one of the toughest men in the wrestling business. By that I do not mean he is a shooter; I mean his idea of fun is to have someone drop him off at the edge of a forest and disappear for several days with only his knife by his side. In that regard he is probably the most dangerous man who was backstage at Raw last night!

Hy Zaya is a deep thinker and a deadly serious student of the world and professional wrestling. But he also has a huge heart. Ask him about his grandma, and he melts. She is his hero.

Hy Zaya’s story is one of many told in Eat Sleep Wrestle, and he’s one of the featured stars on the cover. He shared a number of very candid tales with me, of learning respect in the locker room, wrestling his hero Sabu, and yes… how his grandma influenced him to pray before every battle.

Click the book cover to get your copy of Eat Sleep Wrestle.

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IWA Mid-South: A remarkable anniversary

 

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It’s not easy to run an independent promotion in the WWE era. Most promotions only last a few months at best, struggling to draw an audience and attract talent the fans want to see. Very few have been able to sustain any long term success. Louisville, Kentucky is truly unique because not one but two such promotions have thrived and survived since the mid 1990s.

Much has already been written about Ohio Valley Wrestling, the brainchild of Danny Davis that became (for a time) the developmental center for the WWE. But when Danny Davis was opening his doors at the Quadrangle in Jeffersonville, Ian Rotten was already building a cult-like following at IWA Mid-South.

In 1996 former ECW star Ian Rotten brought the hardcore style to Louisville, filling a void left in the hearts of fans when Memphis closed its doors. IWA Mid-South has always been known for violence and bloodshed, but over time, the promotion also developed a reputation for showcasing some of the brightest young stars in the business. The list of talent who worked for Ian reads like a Who’s Who of today’s indy and hardcore scene, as well as the current WWE roster. Even the current champion, Seth Rollins, once worked for IWA Mid-South.

When Ian ran into trouble with the Kentucky Athletic Commission, he had to move across the river to Indiana.  Changing buildings or cities is usually enough to put an end to a wrestling promotion, but the IWA Mid-South fans followed their favorite show across the river. IWA Mid-South has been in at least six different buildings since the printing of Bluegrass Brawlers, and no matter where they go, the fans followed.

I asked a few members of the IWA Mid-South family, what is it that makes IWA Mid-South so special? How in the world is a promotion that has faced so much adversity about to celebrate its 19th anniversary? Here, in their own words, are your answers.

Vic Filpot, Indy Power Rankings: Building a cult like following and having a boss that believes in his product as much as his fans do.

Aidan Blackhart, Wrestler: IWA is going strong in my opinion due to the hard work put out by its talent alongside a family mentality shared both in the locker room and the fans themselves.

Misty Duncan, Ticket Sales: I believe it has been around so long because of the mind of Ian Rotten. His eye for talent and ability to create his own stars is second to none. Over the years he has put together a lot of matches that no one else would ever have the eye to book. Let’s not forget that the revolving door of stars that this company has seen on it’s regular roster is incredible, and the friends Ian has made over the years has allowed him to bring in a lot of names that other Indies, especially in this area, just don’t have the power to do.

Shane Mercer, current IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion: Passion. If you come to a IWA show regardless if there is 10 ppl or 500. You always know the talent there puts it all on the line to be the best. One of those vibes that’s different you get than most locker rooms. Makes you wanna push that much harder.

If any word sums up the IWA Mid-South “universe,” it is the word passion. Ian Rotten is a passionate leader with an outstanding eye for talent and an instinct for giving the fans what they want. The fans of IWA Mid-South are passionate about wrestling and rabid about their favorite promotion. It doesn’t matter if it’s indoors, outdoors, down the street or hours away, they will be there to see their favorite show. That passion fuels the wrestlers who put their bodies on the line every night for their leader and their fans. They are all at IWA Mid-South in hopes that they too might one day follow in the footsteps of Seth Rollins, Chris Hero, and CM Punk.

Congratulations to Ian Rotten and the IWA Mid-South faithful as you celebrate 19 years of keeping independent wrestling alive.

Click here for details on the 19th anniversary show.

Death is Coming

One of the highlights of Eat Sleep Wrestle is a chapter about deathmatches, a particularly brutal form of professional wrestling frequently involving barbed wire, fluorescent light tubes, and all manner of weapons. The chapter included descriptions of some of the most brutal and barbaric deathmatches ever attempted. Nearly all of them originated from one tournament: IWA Mid-South’s King of the Deathmatch.

Next weekend, Death returns to the place CM Punk once described as the ideal location for Wrestlemania. The first round matches and stipulations have already been announced, and it looks like this year’s event will only add to the tournament’s bloody legacy.

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The KOD tournament will also feature a title match between IWA-MS champ Hy Zaya and the Iron Demon, Shane Mercer. The two young stars have built a rivalry and a legacy worthy of following in the footsteps of IWA-MS legends past Chris Hero and CM Punk. Any match between these two is not to be missed.

The Weekend of Death also features the Queen of the Deathmatch Tournament. Originally created as a way to feature hardcore legend Mickie Knuckles, the ladies’ tournament has become a must-see event for deathmatch fans in its own right. IWA Mid-South has always been at the forefront of promoting women’s wrestling, and this weekend, eight women will vie for IWA Mid-South’s most prestigious women’s crown.

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For more information, visit the IWA Mid-South Facebook page. Tickets are selling fast!

 

Are they Tough Enough?

I decided to compile a list of Tough Enough hopefuls who have worked the Louisville area for those who want to keep tabs and support them. In no particular order, here they are:

Shane Mercer

LuFisto

Mitchell Huff

Michael Hayes

Victoria Webb

Dylan Bostic

Lou Crank

Tim Donst is not a local, and only made his area debut last December, but I’ve been following his fight with cancer and have to include him here.

And even though he retired from the ring to pursue movies, I have to give a shout out to my old friend the Prophet – or is it the Shepherd – Ben Wood.