Shayna Baszler on the Kick Out at Two Podcast

If you heard last week’s episode of the Kick Out at Two Podcast (and if you haven’t, shame on you!), you heard Britt Baker tell the story about the time she was called upon as a dental student to assist fellow wrestler and MMA star Shayna Baszler with a broken tooth after a match. The tooth story is only the tip of the iceberg with Baszler, according to Baker, and this week, the Kick Out at Two delivers with their second women’s interview in a row.

Get to know Shayna Baszler on this week’s edition of the KOAT podcast, available on iTunes, Soundcloud, and Stitcher. And if you missed Britt Baker go back and get last week’s episode as well.

Kick Out at Two is the place to meet the rising stars of Indy wrestling. Be sure to subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode!

Grindhouse Academy: The Students

This is part three of a series of stories about The Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and the new Grindhouse Academy wrestling school.

The Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana, is now home to Grindhouse Academy. The wrestling school was founded by Arena owner 2 Tuff Tony and Rudy Switchblade, two men with very different backgrounds and unique perspectives on the business of pro wrestling. Tony and Rudy wanted to create a place where anyone with a love of pro wrestling could give it a shot without spending a fortune up front.

“Nobody’s getting rich here,” says Tony. “The students play $10 an hour. That’s $5 an hour for each of us. We’re here because we love it, and we want students who love it as well.”

Only three of the seven students were in the ring the day I visited the Academy, but they all exuded the love and passion Tony and Rudy share for wrestling.

Zach Pittman is a Michigan native who wanted nothing more growing up to be a wrestler. When he had the opportunity, he moved to Louisville in the hopes of training at OVW. Pittman works at Ford, and his hours didn’t match up with the training schedule at OVW, but he found another way to pursue his dream at the Arena.

Pittman began his training with Mitchell Huff at the Arena before the transition to Grindhouse Academy took place. He’s now ten months in, and itching to get in front of a live crowd.

Matt McKechnie is a local who grew up around the business. “My dad worked security for wrestling promotions at the Gardens and OVW, so my baby pictures are like me and Jerry Lawler and other wrestlers.” Matt started training in June of 2016 with NWA and switched to the Arena in January.

Hollie McKechnie was the third student at practice and the newest student in the building. She was literally on day two when I met her and had been welcomed with open arms by trainers and students alike. Hollie had worked as a manager and a valet, but in doing so, she saw the value in learning how to actually wrestle and take a bump. Training also gave her more of a chance to spend time with her husband Matt.  “I already have the bumps, the bruises, and the aches, but it’s all going to be worth it!” she says.

Zach, Matt, and Hollie rave about Grindhouse. “They work with my schedule,” says Zach. “I work weekends and day shifts, so it’s nice there’s a place I can come and train when it’s convenient for me.”

“It’s a really encouraging,” says Hollie. “No one gets really hard on you. Everyone is always supportive.”

Matt added, “I’ve been to a place with free training, that I now realize wasn’t really training. Tony and Rudy are very versatile, and they are always willing to work with your schedule.”

Fans can get their first glimpse of the Grindhouse students on June 17 when the Arena will present the student show. Students will go head to head with one another as well as other wrestlers from the area, giving them their first real taste of what it’s like to be in front of a live wrestling crowd. You can expect to see more information about the show, along with promos from the participants, popping up on social media as the event draws near.

“These kids love doing promos,” says Tony, who acts like a proud papa when talking about his students.

“They will be ready,” adds Rudy. “We will get them ready for their first real matches.”

The Arena is located on Spring Street in Jeffersonville. Contact 2 Tuff Tony on Facebook for information about booking the building as well as Grindhouse Academy.

Grindhouse Academy: Rudy Switchblade

This is part two of a series of stories about The Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and the new Grindhouse Academy wrestling school.

When 2 Tuff Tony opened the doors of The Arena on Spring Street in Jeffersonville, Indiana, one of the things he wanted most was to start a school for aspiring wrestlers. Tony is a seasoned veteran himself and knew he had a lot to teach, but he wanted a partner who could give students the things he could not. He wanted someone trained in a variety of wrestling styles, someone with in-ring experience and knowledge that would really challenge the students. Tony found all that in Rudy Switchblade.

Louisville area wrestling enthusiasts will remember Rudy from his run with OVW as well as appearances for other promoters and promotions in the area. What fans may not know is that Rudy is a twenty year veteran who began training and wrestling all the way back in 1997.

Rudy spent 10 years in the business before he came to OVW. He started his training at the School of Hard Knocks with Bill Anderson, Jesse Hernandez, and Chris Daniels. “They were pretty much the ‘it’ school at the time in Southern California, and I started with a group of guys who are all pretty famous now.”

Rudy moved on to UPW, then the Southern California developmental territory for the WWE, where he worked with future OVW and WWE stars John Cena and Rico Costantino. He spent two years in the New Japan dojo, and a few more years with Ring of Honor before coming to Louisville to train under Danny Davis, Rip Rogers, and Al Snow.

Rudy Switchblade is a student of wrestling well-versed in many styles and techniques. His is a very different path than the one his partner followed, but Rudy and Tony have become good friends as well as partners over the last six months.

Rudy and Tony are now training a half dozen students at Grindhouse Academy. Through trial and error, they’ve established a regular class schedule that seems to work best with the odd shoot job schedules of their students. It’s an open door type of setting, where students of all levels are welcome to come and go, and it’s ridiculously affordable: it’s only $10 an hour.

Wrestling purists are bound to raise an eyebrow and even a few objections to such a low price. Most training schools cost thousands of dollars and require large, up-front, non-refundable deposits. Those schools do their best to weed out the less serious students on day one, keeping the money and sending them packing. It’s an old school mentality that you won’t find at Grindhouse.

“Don’t get me wrong. We’re looking for serious students,” say Switchblade. “The difference is, we’re not here just to take you money. Tony and I are not getting rich off this. We’re doing this because we love it.”

Grindhouse is a place for those who can’t afford the big name schools. It’s a place to come and get your feet wet without getting your butt kicked. It’s a great place to see what wrestling is really all about without blowing your life’s savings on day one and having you love of the business battered by a hundred knife-edge chops.

Grindhouse Academy currently meets 3-4 times a week at the Arena. Schedule and times vary, but you can get more information on the school and the Arena by contacting 2 Tuff Tony on Facebook.

Grindhouse Academy: The Man Behind the Arena

This is part one of a series of stories about The Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and the new Grindhouse Academy wrestling school. 

2 Tuff Tony knows there are people who don’t share his vision for pro wrestling. He knows because someone keeps trying to shut him down. But in the words of the long time veteran, “They only make me stronger.”

Just two weeks ago, the Clark County Health Inspector received another phone call about The Arena, located on Spring Street across from Clark Memorial Hospital in Jeffersonville, Indiana. While some promoters might have told the inspector where to go, Tony welcomed him, as he always does. He gave the inspector full access and complied with the one request given.

“He asked me to put in a sink,” said Tony, who demonstrated the brand new plumbing in the Arena’s tiny concession area.

Tony may have one or two detractors, but wrestling fans, promoters, and the workers themselves are raving about the Arena. It’s a work in progress that has taken a lot of time, money, and move, but Tony is proud of the work that has happened. In addition to the new sink, there’s a wider, easier-access entrance in the back to allow for more accessibility for the disabled. The DJ booth has been re-designed and re-built, the downstairs locker area is constantly evolving, and one of three murals is nearly done on the wall behind the DJ.

Tony opened the Arena because he saw a need. Over the past few years, multiple promoters have tried to run in a variety of buildings, from the former Production House in New Albany, to the Colgate Gym in Clarksville, to Jammerz Rollerdrome in Clarksville. The Arena was conceived as a place where anyone could come in and, for a low price, put on a show. The Arena has the ring, the DJ booth, the locker room area, and the concessions area. It’s up to the promoter to bring the people, the wrestlers, the music, and the food.

The Arena now has three regular promotions running on a regular schedule. OSWA runs every Sunday afternoon. IWA Mid-South runs on Thursday nights. Pro Wrestling Freedom Runs on the second Friday night each month. The building has also hosted special events sponsored by Terry Harper, several Girl Fight women’s shows, and Chikara Pro Wrestling.

“One of the promoters told me he didn’t like seeing other guys’ fliers hanging up in the Arena,” says Tony. The solution: Tony put a drop down curtain over top of the cork board that holds show fliers, so promoters can cover up the other fliers during their own events.

The newest occupant in the building is Tony himself, along with partner Rudy Switchblade. Together they have begun a program called Grindhouse Academy. “Grindhouse is a place where anyone who wants to become a wrestler can give it a try,” he says. “We don’t require a large deposit up front, and we don’t take your money and try to run you off the first day. It’s low priced to give anyone a chance to give this a shot and see if they have what it takes.”

Tony’s had a few trainers in house since the Arena opened its doors, but Rudy Switchblade brings a new level of experience and knowledge to the program. “He’s been to OVW, Japan, Mexico. He knows a lot that I don’t, and he’s a great teacher.”

Grindhouse Academy meets a few afternoons every week. Interested students can contact Tony on Facebook to get more information on times and fees. I’ll share more about all of this, Tony’s partner, and their students as the week goes on.

Breakfast with Bolin Returns

If you missed Breakfast with Bolin the first time around, your second chance has finally arrived.

After being “ribbed” by Kenny and forced to carry the first Breakfast on his own when the King fell ill the night before, Jim Cornette has agreed to join Kenny and forty of his closest (i.e. paying) friends for Breakfast with Bolin 2. This time the Breakfast even will not only benefit Golden Corral’s charity Camp Corral, it will benefit the King himself, who has some serious medical bills coming due.

Breakfast with Bolin 2 will take place on Saturday April 29 from 3-6 PM at Golden Corral on Taylorsville Road in Louisville. Tickets for this twice in a lifetime event are $39.95. That includes the discussion between Kenny and Jim as well as the all-you-can-eat Golden Corral dinner buffet! There are only 75 seats available, and they are going fast.

Contact Kenny Bolin on Facebook to order your seats today.

Art work by Travis Heckel.

Britt Baker on Kick Out at Two

I forgot to ask Righteous Jesse who was on the podcast this week. I usually check in with him on Thursday, the night Bonnaroo Brittany is frantically editing and uploading the new episode for the week. I just checked my Podcast app and was thrilled to see it is none other than Britt Baker.

Britt Baker is one of my favorite ladies on the independent scene, one I’m really hoping will swing out this way in the coming year. The pride of Pittsburgh has been on a roll over the last year, and she’s become a star to watch in 2017. This week she discusses a number of things with the KOAT gang, including donuts and her status as the “sweetheart” of AIW, and she answers questions from KOAT’s Twitter followers.

Download the Kick Out at Two Podcast every week from iTunes, Stitcher, or Soundcloud. It’s a great place to discover all that’s happening in independent wrestling.

The Evolution of Aidan Blackhart

When I first saw Aidan Blackhart, he was a one joke heel who came to the ring with a Shakeweight. Don’t get me wrong, Aidan was great at what he did. The Shakeweight gimmick, the Body by Blackhart routine was hilarious and got him over as a heel, but after this past weekend, it’s clear the young wrestler is evolving in some amazing ways.

Yesterday, I told you the story of Nick Depp, the winner of Saturday’s Prince of the Deathmatches tournament. Today I’m revisiting an old friend who came up short in his second try at Prince of the Deathmatches. Aidan may not have claimed the crown Saturday night, but he’s proving his desire and passion to become something more than a one joke heel.

“This was the second year I did Prince,” says Blackhart. “Last year I faced Zodiak in a barbwire bats and boards match. This year I am trying to step up and make a name for myself in wrestling. Not just in deathmatches but all around.”

I had to ask Aidan why in the world someone would compete in an event like this multiple times when they knew they likely would not come out the winner. Here, his passion really comes through.

“I entered Prince this year to test myself and prove I can do way better. This year was insane with log cabins of glass. That moment I threw Derek Direction through one with a superplex, my adrenaline hit an all time high. Being cut to shreds and covered in blood made me feel alive, gave me new life. A baptism in blood if you will. My faith in myself is renewed. I am saved.”

Aidan has lofty goals for the year ahead. He’s got his sights set on winning a heavyweight championship and advancing to the finals in a deathmatch tournament. “I also want to be on the main card of Bloodymania, and face Masada.”

Aidan Blackhart is proving he will do whatever it takes to rise in the independent wrestling ranks. He’s a face to watch in a promotion that has launched the careers of many former unknowns.

Aidan can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Nick Depp is Prince of the Deathmatch!

Saturday night, Nick Depp made a statement at IWA Mid-South. Before a packed, standing room only crowd in Memphis, Indiana, the young wrestler staked his place in the legendary promotion’s history by becoming the 2017 Prince of the Deathmatch.

Depp’s coronation is the result of a lot of hard work and a dream he began pursuing back in 2011. The Livermore, Kentucky native started training with the Waddell brothers in WWA.

“My first job in the wrestling business was as the ring announcer. I was horrible.” Depp’s inability to get anyone’s name right was embarrassing, but the promoters turned it into his first angle, when wrestlers came after him for the messing up their names.

Depp spent six months tagging with his friend Nick Willis as the Flight Club, winning the WWA Tag Team Championships. From there, he went on to Southern Wrestling Entertainment, where he furthered his training with veteran Cash Flo. “Cash taught me the art of selling and advanced psychology.”

In 2014 he left SWE and headed for IWA Mid-South. Depp caught the eye of Nick Maniwa and Reed Bentley, who spoke up for him and got him a shot at IWA-MS’s tryout show against Juan Hado and Alex Rudolph. The match earned Depp a roster spot and the chance to train with Ian Rotten.

“Ian completed my training,” says Depp. “It’s mind blowing how much you can learn from him. And the gift never stops giving.”

Depp competed in two previous deathmatch tournaments prior to Saturdays win: The 2015 POTDM tournament and the Kings of the Colosseum Deathmatch tournament. He’s especially proud of a 2016 Tai Pei Deathmatch he had against former IWA Mid-South Champion John Wayne Murdoch. “Axel Rotten did commentary for that match. Ian sat beside him and they watched, which I thought was pretty sick because this was their match. That moment can never happen again, and I’m so proud to be able to say that happened. Plus I beat Murdoch, and that year he went on to win King of the Deathmatch.”

I asked Depp what his goal was for 2017, now that he is deathmatch royalty. His answer was simple. “Always looking to improve, and also looking to be the best I can be.” With an attitude like that, Depp is likely to make an even greater impact on the business in the future.

Nick Depp can be booked at fakenickdepp@google.com

What You’re Missing

Friday night I attended a Pro Wrestling Freedom wrestling show in Jeffersonville, Indiana, featuring some of the best talent in the Midwest and Southeast. It was an outstanding show featuring several stellar matches including Chase Owens vs. Matt Cage and Chip Day vs. Gary Jay as well as the much anticipated return of fan favorite Hy Zaya.

About fourteen miles up the road in Memphis, a highly anticipated main event capped off a last-minute show arranged by IWA Mid-South. Sami Callihan and Arik Cannon did battle with OI4K’s Dave and Jake Crist in a tag team match that lasted twenty minutes and ranged all over the arena at the Memphis Flea Market. The crowd was smaller than the normal IWA Mid-South Show, but Nick Maniwa tells me the show was outstanding from top to bottom, a must-see when it is released on High Spots in a few weeks.

This is not a blog to tell you that one drew more than the other. I’m also not concerned with two promoters running shows with top talent so close to one another on the same night. What’s sad is that only about 200 wrestling fans in Southern Indiana and Louisville bothered to come out and see a live wrestling show Friday night in a town that used to draw 6000 to the Gardens every week.

If you are only watching WWE on Mondays and Tuesdays, you are missing out. Promotions like PWF and IWA Mid-South are the launching pad for stars headed to the WWE, but they are also the place where you can see some incredibly talented wrestlers do battle weekly and/or monthly LIVE and in person.

It’s not just about supporting independent wrestling or the future of wrestling. It’s about experiencing LIVE wrestling. It’s about being in a place big enough to have a big fight feel but small enough to where the heels can hear you AND engage with you. Rusev is not going to take the time to argue and banter with the guy in the second row. He can’t hear him for one thing, and he’s not allowed to for another. Fans at the PWF show not only saw Cage and Owens put on a stellar match, they engaged with them verbally throughout the show. The same interaction happens at IWA every week, and every other indy show I’ve ever attended.

Promotions like PWF and IWA Mid-South are all over. No matter where you go in the USA and Canada, there are wrestling companies running shows in your own backyard. And if you love guys like Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Kevin Owens, you’re going to love Chase Owens, Gary Jay, and OI4K.

The WWE has a lot independent wrestling can’t replicate, but independent wrestling has just as much to offer the WWE can’t and won’t even try to give you, and at a way better price point.

No more excuses. It’s time to give independent wrestling a try.

Gunner Miller on Kick Out at Two

Did you miss the Scenic City Rumble? Kick Out at Two has you covered!

Chattanooga has become a favorite destination for the Kick Out at Two gang thanks to the Rumble, the Scenic City Invitational, and of course… the food. This week they’ve got Chattanooga’s own “Mr. Scenic City” Gunner Miller, talking about his career and one of the hottest cities in the Southeast for wrestling action.

Download the Kick Out at Two Podcast every week on Stitcher, iTunes, and Soundcloud, and visit them online at www.koatpodcast.com