Meet Mad Man Pondo and Hurricane JJ Maguire on November 3

November 3 is the first annual Rich City Comic and Pop Con in Richmond, Kentucky, and Eat Sleep Wrestle will be there. Joining me for this special event will be Mad Man Pondo and “Hurricane JJ” Maguire.

Mad Man Pondo is a deathmatch legend, a JCW Hall of Fame who released his autobiography “Memoirs of a Mad Man” this past summer. Pondo will be signing books and taking photos with fans as well as promoting his own Girl Fight Wrestling promotion.

“Hurricane JJ” Maguire is an unsung legend, the composer and co-author of over 100 wrestling themes. Maguire partnered with Jimmy Hart on songs like “Sexy Boy,” “Honky Tonk Man,” and the song from Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth’s wedding, “Together.” He also appeared in our recent short film, “War Chant Eddie.”

The Rich City Comic and Pop Con takes place at the Richmond Mall, and admission is free. Come meet Pondo, JJ, and myself and see all the other amazing vendors.

And be sure to “meet” my old pal Clive the Zombie at the Moturoais booth.

How to Turn Creepy Fans Into Gimmick Table Gold

Like most female wrestlers, Jordynne Grace is subject to the creepy, inappropriate messages that a small minority (at least I hope it’s small) of wrestling fans thinks is acceptable. It’s the kind of crap that was unacceptable before the #MeToo era and is absolutely inexcusable now.

Jordynne is a very sharp lady with a wicked sense of humor. At least I presume she is because she’s taken the creepy fodder DM’ed to her on social media and turned it into gold. Jordynne now not only offers a book of creepy DMs from fans, she’s turned some of them into a T-shirt.

The T-shirt and book are rated R content. Not the kind  of thing you can wear to your niece’s fifth birthday party, but perfect attire for a lot of wrestling shows.

Check out Jordynne’s book, T-shirt, and other merch on her website. And for heaven’s sake, guys, let’s lay off the creepy messages. It’s 2018. Act like it.

Anything You Can Do, They Can Do Badder

If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you need to watch the documentary High Heels.

This 30 minute film is a great introduction to some of the best heels in the wrestling business – none of which are men. Through interviews with classic stars like X-Pac and Booker T, High Heels explains the long-lost art of wrestling like a heel and why no one today does it. At the same time, it introduces you to ladies like Amazing Maria, Samantha Heights, and Madi Maxx who can still produce that old school heat on a nightly basis.

I’ve written about all three of the ladies above many times, and I’ve seen them in person. In a time when guys want to be cool heels, there are ladies who really don’t give a crap if the fans like them or not. They are as old school as they come, and they area a must-see any time they’re nearby.

High Heels is now streaming only on Amazon Prime. If you’re not a subscriber, you can get a free week’s trial. It’s worth your time, and very entertaining.

ALL IN Was Everything the Fans and Wrestlers Wanted

I’m not going to do a review of ALL IN. There’s not much I can add to the narratives already on the Internet, and at this point, it would be hard to express in a new and different way how ground-breaking, history-making, and above all FUN the show was. What I will tell you about is a moment that took place early in the evening before the main show began – a moment that had very little to do with wrestling and everything to do with how Saturday night changed wrestling.

My old friend Randy Pease – aka the man who lived with me for 9 months many years ago, allowing me full access to his wrestling book library and thus igniting my passion for the genre – bought tickets for the two of us directly across from the entrance stage at the Sears Center. We were thus directly in the path of a bank of spotlights that were inexplicably aimed directly into the faces of thousands of fans, obscuring our vision of the SCU vs. Briscoes match that kicked of the pre-show, Zero Hour. Midway through the match, the spotlights moved, angling upwards and out of our faces. The entire arena cheered, and Randy leaned in toward me to say, “They just did more listening to the fans than WWE has done in twenty years.”

I think Randy spoke for more than just the fans. Wrestlers have longed for an alternative to the machine that renames them, dresses them in yellow polka dots, and forces scripts into their hands. The Young Bucks and Cody have opened a new door. They forged a path for wrestlers to once again develop their own personas and most importantly have control over their own destiny. In doing so they’ve given the fans something they’ve been wanting for years: an alternative to the stale, cookie cutter entertainment that has dominated what was once a very diverse and truly unique form of sport.

Cody and the Bucks were listening to their hearts, to their colleagues, and to the fans. They responded, and the fans have responded in kind. Wrestling does not belong to one company. It never did. Here’s hoping this truly is the start of a new day – and not just another high spot on the Elite’s road to Wrestlemania.

What Was the Best Thing about Starrcast?

What were the best things about Starrcast 2018? Everyone has their own list, but here’s mine in no particular order (save the last one).

Hanging out with Randy Pease – an old friend who is the reason I started writing about wrestling in the first place.

Watching Macauley Culkin thumb wrestle Scott Steiner.

Meeting Dr. D’s fans.

Meeting Mark James.

The Katie Vick photo op at the Wrestlecrap booth.

Hanging out with the Wrestlecrap crew.

Meeting Bill Apter.

Watching Road Warrior Animal push Lex Lugar around in his wheelchair.

Seeing Erik Hodson’s amazing wrestling art work everywhere.

Meeting Jerry Lynn.

Seeing my friend and fellow author Brennon Martin again.

Visiting with some amazing podcasters, both those broadcasting and those just attending.

Joey Ryan shaking Dr. D’s hand.

Meeting Haku.

Shooting a video with Hurricane Helms.

And the absolute #1 best part of all – the amazing staff of volunteers who made the event possible. I’ve been to many comic cons and fan fests the last 10 years, and by far, Starrcast had the hardest working, most helpful, most responsive volunteer crew I’ve ever seen. Yes, there was congestion and chaos, but these amazing workers kept the gears moving, and everyone had a good time. They are the #1 reason I would recommend this event to any fan or vendor or wrestler considering where to invest their time and money in 2019.

Because you know, where there’s an ALL IN 2, there will be a Starrcast 2!

The Past Matters to Starrcast Fans

When Cody Rhodes received the ten pounds of gold, the belt his father Dust once held, it was Earl Hebner who handed it to him.

When Tessa Blanchard took the ring Saturday for the women’s match, Tully Blanchard and Magnum TA were waiting to wish her well at ring side.

Hangman Page and Joey Janela wrestled under the watchful eye of ECW legend Jerry Lynn. Tiger Hattori called the match for Marty Scurll and Kazuchika Okada. And it was the Macho Man’s own brother Lanny Poffo, Frisbees in hand, who unleashed “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal upon the Sears Centre Saturday night.

It was no surprise to me that the past mattered to the ALL IN crew. Cody is well known reverence for his father and days before wrestling was all about the WWE. What impressed me most this past weekend in Chicago was how many fans hold the past with the same regard.

Going into the weekend, I was very excited to meet Bill Apter and see not only the men and women who made wrestling great but the reporters and writers who have covered it for so long. It was no shock when my mouth dropped open as an elderly photographer introduced himself to Doctor D as George Napolitano. I love these people. That’s why I do what I do. But I know not every wrestling crowd is as enamored with the sport’s history as I am.

I honestly wasn’t sure how the Starrcast crowd would receive guys from wrestling past. I was very pleasantly surprised.

I saw it in all the fans who stopped by to say hello to Doctor D. Podcasters like the hosts of the Lapsed Fan Podcast and Internet wrestling reporters like “Docta D” from D.C. stopped by to show their appreciation and of course, buy “the best book ever written about rasslin’.” There were fans who traveled from all over the country and even as far as Amsterdam to come and say hello to the Doctor. We sold out every unsigned copy of the book we brought with us and were selling pre-signed books right up until the Doctor packed for home.

Fans who insisted in buying books included the aforementioned Jerry Lynn and Hurricane Helms. Shannon Moore, who we met three weeks earlier in Huntsville, Alabama, stopped by to say hello, and say what you will about Joey Ryan, but he went out of his way to shake Doctor D’s hand and say what a big fan he was.

I saw respect for the past in the line that quickly formed and helped Bill Apter sell out of the 20 copies of his book he brought with him. “My wife said I should bring more,” he said mid-way through the sales blitz. “I guess she was right!” I hear the other writers at the show did a brisk business as well, including the guys in the basement vendor hall. RD Reynolds at Wrestlecrap sold out of his inventory completely.

It was hard to miss the respect heaped upon the legends lined up at Starrcast. From Sgt. Slaughter to Ron Simmons, everyone had a line of fans waiting to say hello and take a photo. Haku was mobbed when he sat down to sign with his two sons on Saturday morning. Haku was also one of the most lovable, likable people I’ve ever met in this business – which somehow makes the legends of his toughness all the more terrifying!

Perhaps the best sign of respect was the T-shirt writer Brennon Martin spotted on a fan. Brennon, who authored a book about his grandmother Christine “Teeny” Jarrett, found a young woman with a homemade “Teeny” T-shirt in the vendor hall. Teeny was never a TV personality. She is known only to those who care enough to learn about the past beyond what one can glean from the WWE Network.

I was wrong about the Starrcast crowd, and I am glad I was! As Cody said Saturday night, wrestling does not belong to one company. It belongs to everyone who works in the ring and every fan at ringside. It’s exciting to see that the future of the business belongs to people who care about the past – especially the things that happened before the monopoly. It’s my honor to be one of those keeping those stories alive, and it’s a pleasure to be witness to the revolution of the 21st century.

Why You Need to Visit the Hall of Fame in Waterloo

Wrestling fans have many choices as to where they spend their money each year. There’s Wrestlemania weekend, along with Axxess and WrestleCon. There’s Cauliflower Alley, WrestleCade in November, and countless fan shows, reunions, and conventions across the country.

And then there’s the George Tragos & Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame at the Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa.

The museum’s name is a mouthful, and Waterloo, Iowa is a far cry from the big cities that land Wrestlemania. You may well ask yourself why you should spend your hard earned dollars on a trip to the Hall of Fame weekend Waterloo as opposed to one of the premier conventions.

Here are four good reasons that make Waterloo a must-do trip for any die hard fan.

Meet the stars in an informal setting. Hall of Fame weekend includes an open to the public signing period at the museum. An admission ticket to the museum Saturday (which is very cheap) to get access to the meet and greet, but if you get the VIP weekend pass (which is also very reasonable!), you will be hanging out with legends and current stars from Thursday night to Saturday in one informal setting after another. The VIP pass allows you to share drinks, hear stories, and take photos with legendary stars all weekend long, and the vast majority of “name” stars who attend the weekend are very friendly and eager to chat with anyone.

Learn the history of the sport. Did you know that Waterloo, Iowa was the birthplace of the modern NWA? Iowa is also a hot bed for collegiate wrestling, with Northern Iowa, Iowa, and Iowa State all within a few minutes or hours drive. The Dan Gable Museum (named for the legendary Iowa State grad turned Iowa Hawkeye coach) pays tribute to college and Olympic wrestling as well as professional wrestling. They have a remarkable collection of pro wrestling memorabilia including photos, boots, robes, title belts, and one of a kind artifacts, and during Hall of Fame weekend, they go all out on the pro wrestling displays. You will learn a great deal, and you won’t be able to stop taking photos.

Watch some great independent wrestling. What’s a wrestling convention without a little wrestling? Local promotion Impact Pro Wrestling (not to be confused with national promotion IMPACT Wrestling) hosts a show on Friday evening featuring local stars and national names. Colt Cabana, Bob Holly, and Austin Aries were guests this year, and many of the legends present Friday night got in on the action as well. B. Brian Blair came out the winner of the Lou Thesz Memorial Battle Royal. A terrific show in a great venue with a crowd that truly loves the sport of pro wrestling.

Support a great museum. The Dan Gable Museum is not only committed to preserving the past but growing the sport of wrestling in the future. Much of the emphasis on the future centers on the actual sport of wrestling, but the staff at the museum in no way relegates professional wrestling to second class status. There’s an undeniable link between the legitimate wrestling sports and pro wrestling. They are inseparable, and the Dan Gable Museum balances both exceedingly well. It’s not the biggest sports Hall of Fame, but it is arguably the friendliest. The every-changing exhibits and upcoming enhancements will ensure there’s something new to see and learn with every visit.

George Tragos & Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame at the Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa hosts their Hall of Fame induction in late July. Mark your calendar now, and do not miss this opportunity.

Always, Always Shake Hands

Lesson learned from my past two road trips:

Meet everyone.

Always shake hands.

Don’t assume anyone is going to blow you off or not want to talk. If they do, big deal. If they do not, you may be in for some great conversation.

Simply put, I wish I had shaken more hands and met more folks at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame induction weekend. I had a great time hanging out with my fellow writers and some good conversations with a handful of legends, but there are others I had the chance to meet and just didn’t have the guts to go up and shake hands. Shame on me.

On the plus side, I am very grateful for the conversations I had with Bruce Hart and Rock Riddle in particular. Bruce is a great story teller, and he shared a few hair-raising tales his father had passed down to him about the OLD, old days.

Rock Riddle is a perfect example of why you always shake hands and say hello. He was eager to talk, and boy did he talk. I started by asking him about his experiences on the Gong Show, and I got 10 minutes of stories about the legendary Chuck Barris, plus another 15 about his own life and career.

Happy to say I learned my lesson well from that week and took the time to say hello to a few more people at Rocket City WrestlingCon. Jimmy Hart was every bit as nice as you have heard he is. He put over Dr. D and Doc’s book several times, and he was very grateful when I gave him a copy of Bluegrass Brawlers. Brutal Bob and I had some nice conversations as well, and there’s a chance we may collaborate on a project or two. And what can you say about Tracy Smothers? The man is a legend, and a great storyteller. He also cares deeply about the business and the young guys and ladies in the business.

The rule in the locker room is that you always shake hands with everyone. Fans, don’t be afraid to do the same. Say hello. Say thanks for coming. Ask a question or two. Don’t be bashful. Most people are thrilled to talk to you, and you will make some great memories.