Go Sarah Logan Go!

Four years ago I had the pleasure of sitting down at Applebees with this young woman and Mad Man Pondo. She told me the story of how she fell in love with wrestling, how she started training, and all the bumps and bruises she had collected along the way. I told her story and featured her on the cover for the book Eat Sleep Wrestle.

Tomorrow night, she will be one of 30 women in the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble.

Congratulations, Sarah Logan! So proud of you.

Celebrating Twenty Years of TV at OVW

Every city has an ego. Some can back it up. Some are over-inflated.

Louisville, Kentucky certainly has an ego. The people of Louisville brag about their status as a food city, as a college sports town, as the Mecca of horse racing, and so on. You can argue some of the points of pride the city of Louisville clings to, but there’s one that is undeniable: this is a professional wrestling town.

Louisville is not the first town you think of when you look at wrestling’s past. Most fans, including Louisville fans, think of places like St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, or Memphis. Louisville was on the periphery of a lot of that history, a secondary town that brought in the best talent from St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Memphis. Louisville had its share of great moments, from the “debut” of Ed “Strangler” Lewis through the 22 year run of the Allen Athletic Club to the debut of the “Biker-Taker” at Judgment Day. But while many towns have cooled on professional wrestling in the WWE era, Louisville’s passion has remained.

Monday night the WWE marked 25 years of broadcasting Monday Night Raw. Wednesday night Ohio Valley Wrestling marked 20 years of television in Louisville. They went on the air before the WWE came to down to develop their future stars, and they have remained on the air long after the WWE’s departure. How many promotions today, let alone throughout wrestling history, can say that achieved that mark?

The Louisville area has remained a hot bed for professional wrestling for over 100 years. When the USWA closed down in the 90s, fans didn’t walk away. They turned to OVW and IWA Mid-South, a promotion that just marked 20 years and 800 shows. Louisville is still a destination for young wrestlers looking to train and get exposure, and with the opening of the Arena across the river in Jeffersonville, the opportunities have continued to grow.

Congratulations to Danny Davis, Rip Rogers, Dean Hill, and everyone who has made OVW a success. And thank you to everyone who continues to build Louisville up as a true wrestling city!

Read the full history of Louisville wrestling in Bluegrass Brawlers.

Black Panther Round One – Complete

I’m packing and shipping the last pair of the Black Panther Jim Mitchell’s boots this week.

Two pairs remain at my house. One will go to the Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa. One stays with me.

I am hoping to make another run to Ohio in the next few months for more of the Black Panther’s memorabilia. It’s been amazing seeing and touching all this history. I can’t wait to put all that I’ve learned together and finally tell his story properly.

No Fake: Get Dr. D’s Book Signed by the Doctor Himself

We’re about a month away from launching Dr. D’s autobiography Don’t Call Me Fake: The Real Story of “Dr. D” David Schultz. If you’re too young to remember Dr. D, he was a man ahead of his time with a ring persona that foreshadowed the rise of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Dr. D faced some of the greatest and toughest men in the business including Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Antonio Inoki, Abdullah the Butcher, Ric Flair, and Bruiser Brody, though he is best known for a two slap take down of John Stossel that aired on 20/20 when the reporter dared to suggest he was a fake.

Dr. D left the wrestling business behind in the late 80s to embark on an amazing second career as a bounty hunter. In more than two decades of work, he had a 100% capture rate, traveling from the US to Puerto Rico to Egypt to bring back hundreds of men and women who tried to jump bond.

Dr. D’s book is 470 pages and jammed full of stories and rare photos. The book will retail for about $25 on Amazon, but you can order a signed copy now for only $35 plus shipping.

Please email John Cosper today at johncosper@yahoo.com to guarantee your signed copy today. Payment accepted via check or PayPal. Books will be shipping in February, and quantities are limited!

Yes, You Do Want to See Madi Maxx

Every now and then you go to a show and see a new wrestler who make you sit up and take notice. That happened a month ago when I saw Madi Maxx for the first time. She came into the Jeffersonville Arena as a complete unknown to the Girl Fight crowd. Forty-five seconds after picking up a mic, every fan in the building wanted to slap the “Paris Hilton of professional wrestling” in the face.

Madi was just eight years old when she decided what she wanted to do with her life. That was when he father took her to Monday Night Raw for the first time.”I had never before seen or heard of WWE, or any wrestling for that matter. I instantly fell in love with everything about it. The emotion, the characters, the show, the energy, literally everything. I knew after that I wanted to get the same response from an audience and I started doing moves off my dressers, on to my pillows, and even my friends when they let me!

As a child of the Attitude era, Madi was drawn to some of its brightest stars, including Lita and Edge. “They were my wrestling heroes. I wanted to be just like them. They were also the ones who influenced me the most, along with The Hardys. I was drawn to them because they were all so different than anyone else on the roster. They created such a response from the crowd and filled arenas with energy! Everything they did I was infatuated by everything they did!”

Although Madi’s parents bore some of the responsibility for her infatuation with professional wrestling, they didn’t expect it to last. Madi never wavered in her dream, and when she was seventeen, she took her first steps towards pursuing that dream. “I was home during the summer, and I decided spontaneously I am going to do this NOW! I contacted a school, USIWF, and I called my mom once I got a response. Her and my dad both came with me to my first day and made sure I really wanted to do this. They have been supportive ever since, and have never once doubted me or tried to talk me out of it.”

Madi trained with Josh Gerry at USIWF for a year and a half. She then moved to Louisville, Kentucky and began training at Ohio Valley Wrestling with Matt Cappotelli and Rip Rogers. While in Louisville, she captured the OVW Women’s Championship. “It was incredible! I went to OVW with one mission, and it was to put my name on the list with all the other Women Champions, including Beth Phoenix! Holding the same title she held was something I will always remember and cherish.”

Madi’s determination to make her mark on the business led her to High Spots in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she now trains with a number of other hopefuls. She’s already faced some stiff competition in Nicole Pain and LuFisto and is scheduled to face Taeler Hendrix and Chelsea Greene in the coming months. She has her eyes set on Queens of Combat in 2018, and she hopes to make her West Coast and International debuts this year.

Madi has the skills to become a top star, both on the mic and in the ring. What’s more, she’s a true student of the game who absorbs as much as she can from everyone she meets.

“The lessons I have learned that are the most important to me are, ‘crawl, walk, run,’ which my first coach taught me. Meaning you can’t learn everything in a day, you have to stick with it and really give it your all! The second is, ‘trust no one,’ which is a really big one that I have kept in mind wherever I go.”

Madi listed LuFisto as one of her favorite opponents. You can see the two of them in action in the video below. You can also follow her on Twitter @madi_maxx, Instagram @maxxmadi, and Facebook.

Madi Maxx is a face to watch and a name to remember. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in the coming years.
[Credit for top photo goes to photographer John McEvers.]

People Who Love (To Complain About) Wrestling

Are you a wrestling fan or a fan of complaining about wrestling?

It seems to me the Internet falls into these two camps. In the first camp you find all sorts of fans: WWE fans, New Japan fans, hardcore fans, old school fans, and yes, “comedy wrestling” fans. Some of these fans have strong opinions about wrestling, and they’re not afraid to voice them. They sound off when they see something they don’t like, whether it comes from Roman Reigns or Joey Ryan. But it isn’t constant. They don’t spend all their time complaining because it takes time away from enjoying what they do love.

The “Kool-Aid Drinkers” who pack the Memphis Flea Market every Thursday and Saturday here in Southern Indiana are a perfect example. A lot of those folks hate the WWE, and they don’t care much for New Japan either. But not even the threat of incoming winter weather would keep them from staying out late to see Mance Warner crowned the new IWA Mid-South Champion last night!

The other camp doesn’t seem to enjoy anything wrestling-related. Nostalgia, maybe, but nothing else. They hate the WWE. They hate comedy wrestling. They hate the Young Bucks. They thought Wrestle Kingdom sucked, top to bottom – except for maybe Jericho. I’m starting to see some of these folks don’t even watch wrestling any more. They have too many angry wrestling podcasts to listen to, and they just don’t have the time.

You can be a positive or a negative force in this world. If you don’t like something fine. Let your voice be heard. But for your sake – and those on your social media feed – don’t spend all your time complaining. Find something you do love. If it’s not wrestling, then move on and find something else.

It’s cool if you’re a wrestling fan. It’s cool if you’re not. But being a fan of complaining about wrestling? Come on, man.

Don’t Wait for Omega to Come to You

I’ve seen more than a few people on Facebook asking questions like, “When is Kenny Omega’s contract up?” “When is he coming to WWE?” And “Do you think he’ll be in the Royal Rumble?”

Those are the wrong questions to ask. Fans who want to check out Kenny Omega should be asking, “How do I sign up for New Japan?” And “Which match should I watch first?”

If you wait to see Kenny Omega in WWE, you will miss out on what has made him the talk of the Internet. Omega is in his prime and has hit his stride. He had a phenomenal 2017, and no doubt he is red hot headed into 2018. But there’s no guarantee that you will see anything close to that if and when he makes it to WWE.

New Japan is less than $10 a month. Not only will you have access to all of Omega’s work in Japan, you’ll also get to see Cody Rhodes, Davey Boy Smith, Jr., Juice Robinson, and other wrestlers the WWE just didn’t know what to do with along. You’ll also see Cruiserweight Classic darling Kota Ibushi, Tetsuya Naito, Jay White, Evil, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Marty Scurll, and of course, the Young Bucks. New Japan is home to the IWGP World heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, a man who carries himself like Ric Flair, Harley, Race, and the great champions of the past. And for the time being, it is also the one place you can see Chris Jericho in action.

You can also go back and see the classic matches that led to the WWE signing people like A.J. Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Anderson and Gallows, and Prince Devitt (now Finn Balor). You can travel back even further in the archives to see other legends who never “made it” to the WWE… like Bruiser Brody.

The WWE doesn’t always get the best out of the people they sign, and the rose colored glasses that made the WWE look like the end-all, be-all of professional wrestling are finally coming off. For every Kevin Owens and A.J. Styles, there are dozens of talented performers who get lost in the shuffle, cast, aside, and fed to the top stars as jobbers. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good enough. You’re just not seeing them in the right place.

Kenny Omega found his place, and it’s made him a star. Don’t wait for his Royal Rumble surprise entrance. This is the time to see him in the place that made him a star.

Support indy wrestling.

Five Matches

Someone on Facebook recently posed an interesting question: if you had a wrestling time machine and could go back to see any wrestling match, what would you go back to see?

I didn’t have to think about my answer. As a hug fan of the Black Panther, I’d want to go back to the night he is most famous for: the night he and Gorgeous George incited a riot at the Olympic Auditorium. Then I got to thinking, what other matches would I want to see if I could return to any night in wrestling history?

Here are my top five, in order:

August 24, 1949, Los Angeles. Gorgeous George vs. The Black Panther Jim Mitchell at the Olympic. George was one of the biggest heels of his day, and the Panther was a beloved star. On a hot summer night, George went too far. He tossed Mitchell from the ring and refused to let him back in. One fan jumped in the ring to give George some payback, and George leveled him. In an instant the entire crowd was on its feet, and a riot raged on for hours. Mitchell and George escaped to the back, but several people had to be hospitalized. One woman even sued George and Mitchell for her injuries. I have the program from that night and a letter summoning Mitchell to answer for his part in the riot that evening. They are the prizes of my wrestling memorabilia collection.

February 1, 1944, Louisville. Mildred Burke vs. Elvira Snodgrass at the Columbia Gym. If Mitchell is my all time favorite grappler, Elvira is a close second. I’d love to see the greatest women’s champion of all time against the toughest, meanest, scrappiest heel she ever faced in front of a hot Louisville crowd. This wasn’t the only time they faced one another in Louisville or the biggest crowd in Louisville to see them do battle, but it was the night they were the main event attraction. How incredible would it be to see Heywood Allen chomping on his cigar, overseeing the action in the Columbia Gym?

Jerry Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman in Memphis. The Kaufman/Lawler feud is one of the most fascinating stories in wrestling history, both for the in-ring action and the behind the scenes machinations. It’s the greatest work of the modern era and a blueprint for how to do kayfabe in an era when kayfabe is supposedly dead. Some how, some way, I’d have to have a ringside seat so I could see the back and forth after the match with Danny Davis telling Jerry that Andy will pay for the ambulance.

The Road Warriors vs. The Midnight Express, Night of the Skywalkers. Cornette has been a friend and a great asset in my research of Louisville wrestling history. The scaffold match was far from the best work either of these legendary tag teams did, but just to see it all unfold and watch poor Jimmy slip through the arms of Big Bubba (RIP) would be priceless.

When Hero Met Punk, IWA Mid-South, Clarksville, Indiana 2003. Before Punk made it to WWE or even Ring of Honor, he had some of the greatest battles in the modern indy era with Chris Hero, now NXT’s Kassius Ohno, in front of one of the most passionate crowds in wrestling today. Matches like these are the reason CM Punk said his ideal place for Wrestlemania would be the old warehouse in Charlestown, Indiana, where many of their brawls took place. This particular match went almost 93 minutes, and for the last 15-20 minutes, the entire crowd was on their feet. Watch this, their Tables and Ladders duel, or their 60 minute brawl, and join me in hoping that when Kassius Ohio reaches the main roster, WWE will make amends with CM Punk and give these two one last battle – at Wrestlemania.

Honorable Mention: The 1951 Derby Eve Show, Jefferson County Armory, Louisville. I’m going to cheat here, but this has to be one of the greatest cards ever presented in Louisville. Francis McDonogh, who took over the Allen Club from Heywood Allen in 1947, made the annual Derby Eve Show and the Police Benefit Show that took its place a monster even every year. Have a look at the card and tell me you wouldn’t want to be one of the 8000 in attendance that night:

Wild Bill Longson vs. Dutch Heffner
Bill Longson, Fred Davis (of the Chicago Bears), and Freddie Blassie vs. Ivan Rasputin, Stu Gibson, and Dutch Heffner
Mildred Burke vs. Mae Young
Lou Thesz vs. Green Dragon