The Baddest TPI Winner Alive

Aaron Williams is one of the wrestlers who made me an independent wrestling fan. That’s one reason why he’s one of the featured stars on the cover of Eat Sleep Wrestle. He’s racked up a number of credits on the resume since I started following him. He’s been a solo champion and a tag champion for numerous promotions. He’s been a competitor in CZW’s Best of the Best. He’s been a main event performer since I first met him in 2014. And he’s currently the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion.

Last night Williams added another accolade to his career. He is your 2017 Ted Petty Invitational Winner.

Congratulations to the Baddest Man Alive. Wishing you even more success in 2017 and beyond.

Coming Together for Matt Cappotelli

Wrestlers give so much of themselves for the business the love and the fans who follow them. In less than two weeks, OVW fans will have a chance to give back to one of the greatest stars in the promotion’s history.

If you don’t know Matt Cappotelli’s story, it’s both inspiring and heart-breaking. Matt was on the verge of realizing his dream and becoming a WWE Superstar when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He fought the disease and beat it, but earlier this year, cancer returned for a re-match.

OVW is hosting a benefit show on Saturday, September 23, to help Matt pay his medical expenses as he fights cancer a second time. A number of current and former OVW stars will be on hand that night not to collect a pay check, but to support their friend as all proceeds will go to Matt’s medical fund. Jim Cornette has already announced he will be there, signing anything you bring for any donation you want to give. More announcements are on the way.

Indy wrestling isn’t about sports entertainment. It’s about family. If you’re in the area, please be at the Davis Arena Saturday night, September 23. This is a show you can’t miss.

Twenty Years Ago Today…

Bret Hart defended his WWF title against the Patriot by submission. It would be the final successful PPV title defense for the Hitman. Two months later came Montreal and the Screw Job.

 

Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker battled to a no-contest finish, setting up the first ever Hell in a Cell match a month later.

Brian Pillman defeated Goldust and forced Marlena to become his personal assistant for the next 30 days. It was Brian Pillman’s final appearance on a WWF pay-per-view, before his untimely death.

It all happened 20 years ago tonight in Louisville Gardens.

 

Who Will Stand With Baron Corbin?

I’ve met a number of wrestling promoters over the last few years. You know what they have in common? Limited resources. The promoters I know are not millionaires. Most of them have jobs outside wrestling to pay the bills for themselves and  (in many cases) the promotions they run. They aren’t doctors either, and they don’t all have the means to have even an off duty paramedic standing by if something goes wrong.

The wrestlers who work for these promoters understand this. They understand the risk they take every time they step in the ring, no matter where they are or who is running the show. Everyone understands that bruises, strains, broken bones, torn ligaments, infections, and yes, concussions can and will happen. They don’t hold the promoter liable because they take responsibility for their own actions.

This is their love. This is their passion. They do it in spite of the risks for the love of the business.

That said, if a promoter is a billionaire, if that promoter has unlimited resources, if they have the means to put on multiple live broadcasts every week, if they have their own TV network, if they have millions of subscribers paying for that network and shelling out billions more on T-shirts and videos and other swag… that promoter has an obligation to the men and women they employ to provide the best healthcare and the best information about health and wellness to the people they employ.

If the story now out about Baron Corbin being “punished” for calling out a so-called expert on concussions for not speaking the truth, it’s another black mark on the biggest promotion in the business. The WWE treats wrestlers as independent contractors. They do this to avoid having to provide health insurance for the wrestlers. Translation: when you see the WWE live or on TV, you are watching non-employees risk their bodies, their brains, and their well being in order to make millions for a corporation that will not pay their medical bills if they get hurt.

Baron Corbin has every right to call BS when he hears it. The wrestlers and fans should call BS as well. WWE is not a side venture run by a man or woman who puts on shows weekly or monthly in addition to working their 40 hour a week job. This is what they do. This is how they make money, hand over fist. For once in his wrestling career, Baron Corbin is the babyface, but it looks like Corbin could become another casualty, another name swept under the rug for defying the corporate line.

Independent promoters don’t have the means to provide the best of medical care. Independent wrestlers know and accept the risks they take working for said promoters. There’s no excuse for a company the size of WWE to withhold the best of care and the best of information from the men and women whose sacrifices make their profits possible.

Who’s going to stand with Baron Corbin, inside the WWE, or out? Better get off your butts quick. We’ve seen what happens when you defy the company line.

Indy Podcast Round Up – September 4

I’m a little late this week, but couldn’t skip. This was a great week for local regional independent wrestling podcasts, and if you’re even curious about what’s going on with indy wrestlers, you need to check these shows out.

First this week: Talkin’ the Business has one of the best promoters and the greatest minds in wrestling today as their guest. The man who saved CZW and also runs the very popular women’s promotion WSU D.J. Hyde shares his story about his history with CZW and where he sees the promotion going in the future. Having recently watched a little of CZW on the Highspots Network, I can tell you CZW is head and shoulders above the rest in production values, and they’re poised to continue growing in the near future.

Kick Out at Two has a must-hear show as well, a live recorded interview with 80 crazed wrestling fans at the Scenic City Invitational talking to Kerry and Nick of the Carnies. It’s a bit chaotic in points because it was the middle of the night and everyone had been drinking, but there’s some great stories as well as Kerry Awful’s pearls of wisdom for aspiring wrestlers and dreamers.

Finally, don’t skip on Dave Dynasty’s last two shows either. The Monday August 28 program featured Dick the Bruiser, Jr., talking about his start as the Golden Lion, his baseball career, and working for his father-in-law, the late, great Dick the Bruiser.

Download the Dave Dynasty Show, the Kick Out at Two Podcast, and Talkin’ the Business on iTunes or wherever you download or steal your podcasts.

Final note for indy fans: if you’re within driving distance, DO NOT miss Friday night’s Pro Wrestling Freedom event in Jeffersonville. The main event alone is worth not only the price of admission but the cost of a tank of gas. The Hooligans, the Hierarchy (Adrian Armour and Murder One), and the Carnies in a triple threat, falls count anywhere, no disqualification brawl for the PWF tag belts. This is not going to be a wrestling match. It will be a brawl. Be ready to grab your stuff and move, because it’s guaranteed to spill not only out of the ring, but well into the heart of Clark County, Indiana.

Marcus Everett: The Guy from “That Gif”

If you haven’t seen “the gif,” you obviously haven’t been on social media much in the last two weeks.

Much like the very first time Joey Ryan’s now infamous penis spot hit the Internet, the guy jumping off a girder and overshooting the other guy lying prone on a table set the Internet on fire. Many thought he as crazy. Most thought it was funny. Some thought he was a disgrace. At least a handful wanted to be sure the guy was okay.

I’m happy to report that the Guy in the Gif is okay. But unlike Joey Ryan, he won’t be turning his famous Internet spot into a career-defining move.

“I suppose I could do the spot everywhere I go,” he said. “But that’s probably not a good idea.”

The man responsible for the most-watched video clip of August is Marcus Everett, a young aspiring wrestler from Toledo, Ohio. Everett is only two years in the business, but he’s a life-long fan. “Goldberg was my favorite when I was little,” he recalls. “I can’t remember a single match he was in. But I remember him. he was like a super hero.”

Everett’s favorite wrestler of all time is the man who hooked him for good back in 2002, Shawn Michaels. “The night Triple H hit him twice with a sledgehammer, I was hooked. I wanted to know if he was okay. I had to watch Raw the next week. And then the next. And then the next. Weeks became years. Then thirteen years later, I stepped into a ring and began to train.”

Training started in Toledo at Northwest Ohio Wrestling, and Everett trained with some terrific mentors including Big Bear Benjamin Boone, Crimson, and Dave Crist. “I carry their names on my shoulders every time I step in the ring. it’s a heavy responsibility. I should also add, not a one of them would condone what I did in that video!”

Marcus Everett has worked for a number of Midwest promotions, but it was IWA Mid-South in Memphis, Indiana that the famous missed spot took place. “I was in a feud with Cole Radrick. Cole and I had had some brutal matches. This was the end of our feud, and what we thought at the time would be the last show in that building. We wanted to go out big.”

Radrick and Everett were booked in a Loser Leaves town TLC (Tables Ladders and Chairs) match. If you watch the gif, you’ll see that Everett is standing on a second tier girder. He had previously done a leap off the lower girder during and earlier match, and on that night, he wanted to do something extra special.

“It was my idea,” he says, “And my hubris. I take full responsibility, and the outcome was absolutely deserved.”

Everett made it very clear that no one put him up to the big spot. It was his idea, an idea Radrick tried and failed to talk him out of. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even clear it with promoter Ian Rotten – a decision he also regrets.

“It might have been a better idea to do that spot in a scramble match rather than a one on one match,” he says. “It would have been an even better idea not to do it at all!”

Prior to the spot you’ve seen online, Everett hit Radrick with a ladder and knocked him onto the table. Everett then began to climb not to the first girder, but the second girder.

“I got up on the girder and shimmied out to take position right in front of the table. It was only then that I looked down and realized that the table was a little further out than it should have been. Ideally, the table would be close enough, I could just lean forward Michael Jackson-style and fall through the table, but I knew I was going to have to give myself a little momentum.

“Unfortunately, with all the adrenaline I had in my system, a little turned into a lot. I didn’t realize just how bad I messed up until I hit the concrete.

“As soon as I landed, I gave myself a mental pat down and deduced that I was okay. I got up off the ground and turned to Cole and the ref, who were both looking at me in disbelief. The ref pointed and said, ‘Brother, I can see your bone!’

“I’ve heard people say that when drunks get into car accidents, the reason they survive is because they’re so loose. That has to be the only reason I wasn’t in pain. I should have been, but I was os in the moment, I didn’t feel a thing. The ref wanted to stop the match, but I said, “No, man, get me some duct tape. Let’s finish this!”

Finish they did. The match ended with Everett taking a piledriver off the top rope onto a table. “It was the same table I overshot coming off the wall. The table still didn’t break!”

The fans at IWA Mid-South were extremely generous with their applause after the match. Even though Everett was the heel in the feud with Radrick, the fans were cheering and chanting his name.

“It was a great moment. I turned to the fans, lifted my hands… and gave them all the finger. One girl in the crowd screamed, ‘Stop being a heel! I want to like you!'”

Everett thought that when the spot came out on video, he would see some sort of response from the fans. Then one day, just a few weeks ago, his phone blew up. He was shocked to see that everyone was watching the gif, not just once, but over and over and over. Even Jim Cornette weighed in on the controversial spot.

“I can’t stop watching this–what was the idiot on the table’s plan for survival had that gone right?”

Everett responded, “True story: When I smacked the concrete, 3 things went through my head. My family, Maffew, and Jim Cornette.”

Cornette replied, “At least your head was in the right place!”

Everett would dispute that claim. In hindsight he regrets the spot for many reasons. He knows he’s lucky he didn’t get seriously injured, but he also feels bad for possibly encouraging others to do something so dangerous. “That’s not the kind of wrestler I want to be.”

Everett has heard every reaction you can imagine, from “What were you thinking?” to “That was awesome!” to “Just don’t die, kids.” (Credit to Hurricane Helms.) He’s grateful for the attention, but he made it clear that his focus from now on will be working smarter. “Head locks and arm drags,” he says.

Everett’s loss in the Loser Leaves Town match came at a good time for him and his family. His sister is battling multiple sclerosis, and his mother is undergoing surgery this week. Family comes first for Everett, and he’s grateful to have the time off to be where he’s needed. “I’ll be working NOW, XICW, LPW, and other promotions close by for a while. But once Mom is back on her feet, it’s back to business. I have a lot of states and a lot of countries on my list to cross off.”

There are some who have questioned Everett’s ability to work safely in the ring, even before “The Gif,” and in the wake of this past weekend’s Sexy Star incident at Triplemania, a lot of wrestler and promoters have a heightened awareness about safety. I asked Everett to tell me what kind of wrestler promoters will be booking when they call him in the months and year ahead.

“They’re going to get a high flyer with a big heart,” he says. “I’m not about the high spots any more. I want to tell stories. I want to make people feel something. One thing I hear a lot from fans all the time is, ‘You’re too short.’ Yeah, I am small, but if I can rise up and fulfill my dream and beat a man bigger than me, I know I can inspire others to do the same. I’m the little guy who overcomes the odds and comes out on top!

“I can also solve Rubik’s Cubes.”

I believe in second chances, and I can only speak for myself and my brief interaction with him. Marcus Everett comes across as a sharp kid with a bright future. He’s made some mistakes, and he has taken his lumps for those mistakes, but his positive attitude and sense of humor are infectious. He’s far from done with this business, and eager to become famous for something other than the world’s most painful gif!

If you want to follow Marcus Everett, you can find him on Twitter @EverlastingMBD

“The Money Is in the Rematch”

For those who are wondering why so many people are saying, “The money is in the rematch,” after last night’s fight, here’s a story from Louisville’s past – all the way back to 1881.

In that year, a Louisville “resident: named Robert M. Pennell went to the Courier-Journal newspaper office and issued a challenge. Pennell, who was locally known for his feats of strength in weightlifting, offered to fight for any sum of money against any citizen of the United States or Europe brave enough to step into the ring with him.

On August 21 the Courier-Journal published a response to Pennell’s challenge from Chicago grappler Charles Flynn. Flynn sent a man named Edward Morrill to Louisville to negotiate terms for the blockbuster match. Morrill and Pennell’s representatives agreed to a Greco-Roman contest with each side putting up $250. The contest would take place on September 17 at Woodland Garden, a popular beer garden located on Market Street. A number of stipulations were added to the contract, and the most significant one was the promise that no matter how long the match went, there would be no draw!

When Flynn arrived in town on September 7, people were eager to learn all they could about Pennell’s challenger. Billed as as champion wrestler of the Northwest, Flynn stood at five foot nine and a half feet tall and weighed 182 pounds. Flynn was fairly new to the sport of wrestling, but in less than five years he had racked up a number of notable wins in his adopted hometown of Chicago. He was so confident he would win, he offered to double the stakes of the match to $500. Flynn also wanted the winner to take all the gate money, but Pennell refused, insisting the loser get one third of the box office.

A crowd of eight hundred, mostly young men, gathered at Woodland Gardens on the 17th to witness the battle between Pennell and Flynn. What happened was an unexpected and disappointing finish. Pennell was clearly the stronger of the two, but Flynn proved to be the superior technical wrestler. Flynn took the first fall, but after falling, the fans could see desperation in the challenger’s eyes.

The clock ticked passed midnight, and at 12:10 AM, Flynn shocked the fans by withdrawing from the match. The fans were outraged! They were assured there would be no draw in this contest. Edwin Morrill announced to the fans that Flynn had agreed to wrestle Pennell on September 17. Since it was now September 18, the written contract had been fulfilled. Flynn was done with Pennell.

The crowd was livid. They screamed for Flynn to finish the contest. The referee, hoping to appease the crowd, announced Pennell as the winner, but Pennell gallantly refused to accept the win. Ignoring the cry of the masses who wanted him to take the win and the $500, he told the crowd that Morrill had out-foxed him, and he agreed the match should end in a draw. But he also took the opportunity to demand a rematch, two weeks hence, for double the stakes – a $1000 purse! Flynn agreed to the rematch, and the evening was over.

The very next day, Flynn backed off from his promise of a rematch. Flynn said he had no objection to wrestling Pennell again in private, but he had no desire to step into a ring in Louisville with the city’s fans against him. Flynn had no immediate plans to leave town, stating he had made many friends and intended to stick around for a week or so, but the public rematch was out.

The next day, Flynn put up a deposit of $50 at the Courier-Journal to show he was sincere about the private rematch. He announced his intention to remain in Louisville until the races were concluded at Churchill, but he reiterated his stance he would not face Pennell in a public exhibition.

On September 22, Pennell met with Edward Morrill again to negotiate terms of a public rematch. With Flynn’s blessing, Morrill  agreed to a second match. This time, Pennell closed the loophole. The match would continue until there was a winner. There really and truly would be NO draw this time!

On September 30, a crowd of more than 1000 gathered to watch the strongest man in the world take on the champion of the Northwest. A good number of bettors and sports enthusiasts from Peoria and Chicago came in for the match to cheer on Chicago’s own, but the crowd was largely local and largely in Pennell’s corner.

When the opponents disrobed, it was clear Flynn was in better shape than his opponent that night. He was also much cooler and patient than in their previous match as the two locked up. Pennell matched Flynn’s caution, and both men took a defensive posture. Flynn took the early advantage when Pennell went for a neck hold, dropping him to mat, but when Flynn went for a hold, Pennell powered out and dropped Flynn on his shoulders, scoring a fall and drawing a roar from the partisan crowd.

Flynn came out more aggressively for round two. His scientific knowledge of the sport gave him the edge, and in ten minutes, Pennell was on his back, struggling to keep one shoulder off the mat. Flynn overpowered him, and the match was even at one fall a piece.

Flynn looked fresh as they began the third round just before 10 PM. Pennell, on the other hand, was showing serious signs of fatigue and suffering from sprained fingers. Pennell spent much of the round face down on the mat as Flynn struggled to flip him on his back. Unable to put his “Nelson grip” to use, Flynn ultimately used a neck lock to turn the stronger man over and take the third fall.

Pennell called for a surgeon during the third intermission and attempted to treat his badly damaged hand. It was of little use, and when Pennell answered the bell for the fourth round, he appeared “timid as a child.” Flynn kept Pennell on the defensive, chasing him all over the stage. At one point, Flynn had Pennell pressed against the floodlights, and Pennell, afraid he might be tossed off the stage, was heard saying, “Don’t hurt me, Flynn, don’t hurt me.” At that moment, Flynn flipped Pennell over one last time and scored the pin, taking the victory and ending the contest.

After the crowd left, the two competitors met in the presence of the judges, referee, and Courier-Journal representatives. Flynn received his prize of $1000 plus two thirds of the gate. Pennell admitted he had been soundly defeated and congratulated his opponent.

Having won the battle, Flynn declared his intention to next challenge Duncan Ross. Pennell and Flynn would leave town together on September 7th for Chicago for they hoped would be a run in with Ross, who would soon move to Louisville himself and set up shop.

It seems strange that two such bitter rivals would leave practically arm in arm in pursuit of their next challenge, but a year later, an article in the Courier-Journal would shine a different light on their so-called rivalry. A unidentified wrestler gave the Courier what he claimed to be the real story of Pennell and Flynn – it was all a work.

According to the unnamed source, Pennell and Flynn came into Louisville playing a very common game used by greedy promoters. A wrestler of some repute would move into a town where people could be “easily gulled.” The wrestler, now claiming to be a local, would issue open challenges that would be answered by a pre-selected opponent from out of town. The opponent would come to town, engage in a war of words with the challenger, and ultimately square off with him in a match.

What’s more, the outcome of these matches was often decided on the fly. Observers would watch the betting on the matches, and depending on who had the most money bet by the third of fourth round, decide the finish based on who could win the more money. By doing so, the promoters and their allies could maximize their profits by betting – and winning – on the perceived underdog.

“It is,” the source concluded, “a settled fact that all the wrestlers, who are abusing each other, are very good friends in reality and put on the disguise of enmity to gull the people more easily.”

The article couldn’t have come at a worse time for Louisville wrestling enthusiasts. The champion of the world, William Muldoon of New York, was in town wrestling against the latest wrestler to make Louisville his home and issue and open challenge to the world. That wrestler was none other than Duncan C. Ross, formerly of Chicago.

The rumors of a fix, combined with some heelish behavior from Muldoon, soured the Louisville sports fans on wrestling. It wasn’t until the turn of the century that men like William Barton and Heywood Allen would succeed in popularizing wrestling in the city again, igniting a passion for the sport that continues to this day.

The story of Pennell and Flynn, as well as the stories of Ross and Muldoon, appear in the book Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville.

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.