Cora and Buddy

We seem to lose wrestling stars in waves. What began two weeks ago with Dusty Rhodes has sadly taken two more from us.

Cora Combs is not as well known to today’s wrestling fans, but the ladies who work the squared circle today owe her as much a debt as Mildred Burke and the Fabulous Moolah. Combs entered the business in 1949 after Nick Gulas introduced her to Burke’s husband, manager, and trainer, Billy Wolfe. When Wolfe and Burke split, Combs went with Burke and saw her career take off. She had notable feuds with Burke, Moolah, Mae Young, June Byers, Nell Stewart, Ida May Martinez, and Gladys Gillman among others and was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame. Combs died at age 92.

“Nature Boy” Buddy Landel was only 53 years old. The Knoxville, Tennessee native had runs with WCW and Mid-Atlantic but is best known for his time with Jim Cornette’s Smokey Mountain Wrestling. Landel was an outspoken figure in there locker room, never one to hide his feelings or mince words. Colt Cabana did a wonderful interview with him a few months back on the Art of Wrestling Podcast.

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!

 

What #givedivasachance really looks like

10535641_385023985019013_4645483892159298916_oI’d love to sell you on attending Strictly Nsane Wrestlings Girl Fight show by saying it’s even better than the WWE divas division, but since the WWE keeps setting the bar so low for the main roster ladies, that’s hardly a great pitch. The Divas match had a terrible if predictable ending tonight. Yes, JBL, there’s a reason Nikki Bella has held the divas title for so long. It has everything to do with Mr. McMahon and nothing to do with wrestling.

Suffice to say, Blue Pants, Crazy Mary, Lufisto, and the rest will blow the Divas away. If you are in the Louisville area do not miss this show. It will change your perception of women’s wrestling.

 

RIP American Dream

There’s a story in Eat Sleep Wrestle about Dusty Rhodes from Ian Rotten. Ian was in his early twenties when he booked one of his great heroes for IWA Mid-South, Dusty Rhodes. Rhodes proved to be a gracious guest, who called Ian a week later to thank him for the booking and the beer in his hotel fridge. But it was when they were planning their tag match that Rhodes made the deepest impression on the young promoter. “He said, ‘How about when it’s time for the finish, I throw you the elbow pad, and you do the Atomic Elbow?’ When he said that, it was like I could hear angels singing from Heaven!”

Dusty was always doing things to encourage the future stars in the business. Kenny Bolin share with me how open and accessible Dusty was for the students at OVW. “The sad thing was, these kids had all access to Dusty any time they wanted him, and none of them knew who he was.”

Dusty left a huge mark on the WWE stars of today. Very few of the new stars coming out of the Performance Center have not been touched or coached by the American Dream. His spirit, his passion, and his wisdom will be sorely missed.

There was no one like Dusty Rhodes before him, and there never will be again. He is irreplaceable. He will never be forgotten.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and all who are grieving today.

Why you will cheer for Mike Hayes

One of the unspoken rules in the wrestling business is that you can’t break in using someone else’s name, no matter who you are. Case in point: when young Steve Williams showed up in the Memphis locker room, Dutch Mantel forced him to become Steve Austin because there was already a “Dr. Death” Steve Williams in the business.

Mike Hayes made the list of 40 finalists for WWE Tough Enough 2015. He shares his name with the leader of Badstreet USA, Freebird Michael “P.S.” Hayes. But Mike Hayes from Louisville more than earned the right to wear his own name proudly with the service and sacrifice he offered his country.

Eli Keel of Insider Louisville did a terrific write up on Michael two years back. Click here to read Michael’s inspiring story. Then come back and watch the video.

No matter how far he goes in this competition, you won’t see anyone tougher than Mike Hayes.

Terry Garvin Wants to Rule the World!

One of the guys I enjoyed meeting while writing was Bluegrass Brawlers was Terry “Garvin” Simms. I first learned of Terry through my wife, an avid Reddit reader, who found an AMA (that’s ask me anything, for those of you like me who never go to Reddit) that he did one night. I got in touch with Terry through Facebook and then via phone. Simply put, he’s the most outstanding wrestling storyteller you’ve never heard of. He has a fascinating story of his own, and he has plenty to go around about the men he worked with. Still waiting for the right time and place to share one he shared with me about the Freebirds.

Thankfully for those like me who love good stories, Terry has joined the ranks of podcasters with his show World Domination with Terry “Garvin” Simms. It turns out Terry’s not only good sharing his stories but getting stories from some of wrestling’s biggest legends including Lance Russell, Handsome Jimmy Valiant, Doug Gilbert, Axl Rotten, Jeanie Clarke, Bull Pain, and Robert Fuller.

If you’re a fan of old time rasslin’, this is a fun, positive look back at the people and stories that made wrestling great without the usual lamentations about how the business “ain’t what it used to be.”

I’d like to send an extra special thank you to Terry’s recent guest Jimmy Valiant, who put Bluegrass Brawlers over not once, but twice on the show. I had the opportunity to meet Jimmy a few months back in Evansville and give him a copy of the book. I’m so glad he liked it and honored he’d give it such a great endorsement.

Last minute entry is more than Tough Enough

maryelizabethmonroeImagine a woman with the classic, “Diva” look that Vince McMahon prefers who not only knows how to do wrestling holds and moves, but fully understands the psychology of working a match, reading the crowd, and doing things the way they used to. If you can’t imagine all that, you haven’t seen Mary Elizabeth Monroe.

Monroe trains with the legendary Les Thatcher in Cincinnati. Her wrestling pedigree shows in the ring. It was an honor to feature her a few weeks back prior to her Girl Fight debut, and I’m thrilled to see she’s decided to go after Tough Enough. Give her video a look, and please pass it on!