There’s only one Tracy Smothers

When I was working on Eat Sleep Wrestle, one of the things I asked the younger wrestlers was who had been the most helpful to them among the veteran wrestling stars. One of the men who has made the most impact on today’s indy stars is Tracy Smothers

Tracy Smothers has been wrestling for 33 years. He’s still wrestling today. He just doesn’t wrestle as much.

Notice I didn’t say as often. Tracy is as hard a worker as any you’ll find on the indy scene. He’s constantly on the road, working shows anywhere he can get booked. But at age 52, Tracy works smart. He knows he can’t go full on every night like he once did, but he also knows he doesn’t have to. The people who buy tickets have come to be entertained, and Tracy has not lost a step when it comes to entertaining.

I saw Tracy in New Albany recently in a match against the very talented Mitchell Huff. Tracy and his second A.J. Riley came down the ramp to a chorus of boos. For the next twenty-five minutes, Tracy held the entire crowd in the palm of his hands.

The drama begins with Tracy reacting to the chorus of “Tracy sucks” chants. He warns everyone that if he hears, “Tracy sucks,” one more time, “Everybody in this building is gonna die.” The crowd renews their chant even louder.

Tracy then tells the people that they better not chant for Mitchell. No one, and I mean no one, works harder to put the young stars of the indy scene over than Tracy, and Tracy gets what he really wants: a ground swell of support for his opponent.

Tracy then tries to talk Mitchell out of the match. He begs the “talented” young man to shake hands and forfeit. Mitchell of course refuses, and the ref, struggling to keep a straight face, tells Tracy he has to get ready to wrestle.

Tracy concedes, but he is reluctant to take his gear off. “If I start strippin’ the divorce rate in this town is gonna skyrocket! Wives will leave husbands! Sisters will leave brothers!” Tracy slowly strips down into his ring attire, adorned with the confederate flag, and prepares for battle.

Tracy’s bag of tricks rarely change in the ring. He cries to the ref, telling him Mitchell has pulled his hair. He tries to distract the ref so A.J. can get in a dirty shot on Mitchell. He tries to get a foreign object from A.J. but keeps tossing it back as the eagle-eyed kids in the front row keep ratting him out. Tracy’s like a Looney Tunes character, his every expression animated. He’s Wile E. Coyote, only this time, the Roadrunner can hear the kids shouting, “Look out!”

Each lock up is followed by a hasty retreat. Tracy calls time and races out of the ring, drawing more boos and “Tracy sucks” chant. When he sees an opening for a cheap shot, he takes it, asking the fans, “Who sucks now?”

They answer: “You do!”

As Tracy grows frustrated in his struggle to find some advantage against his young foe, he tries another tactic. Instead of wrestling, he wants to do a dance contest. Tracy struts his stuff first, prancing and preening to “Stayin’ Alive.” The crowd boos him relentlessly, but when the babyface gets his turn, they cheer. It’s all a ruse, of course, and when the babyface is dancing, that’s when Tracy makes his big move, trying to take down a distracted opponent and steal a victory.

When Tracy wins, it’s always because he found some dastardly way to cheat. When he loses, he always finds an excuse and lodges a formal protest before vowing to never come back to this town again. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who wins. The fans are the real winners because for a good 25 minutes, they were entertained – even though Tracy and his opponent only actually wrestled for three minutes.

Tracy Smothers is one of the last of a rare breed. He’s as old school as they come, a master of psychology who can make an audience do his bidding at every turn. You won’t see any high flying or daredevil stunts out of Tracy, but you will chant, “Tracy sucks,” and you will be entertained.

Eat Sleep Wrestle is on sale this week for Kindle, only $2.99!

Eat Sleep Wrestle on sale for Kindle!

esw coverIf you missed it this past week, Jeff Jarrett finally began dropping names. He’s starting to build the roster for the long awaited debut of Global Force Wrestling, and he’s assembled a promising list of talent. Legends like Scott Hall, Hacksaw Jim Duggin, and my friend Jim Cornette; former WWE stars like Doc Gallows (Festus), PJ Black (Justin Gabriel), and Cliff Compton (Domino); and hot rising stars like the Young Bucks and guy featured on the cover of Eat Sleep Wrestle, Jamin Olivencia.

OVW fans have known for years that Jamin was a star. Now that he’s part of Global Force, I know we’re all hoping that he gets the national and international recognition he deserves.

In honor of Jamin’s selection, Eat Sleep Wrestle will be on sale for Kindle only this week for the price of $2.99. That’s $11 off the retail cover price for the paperback.

Eat Sleep Wrestle profiles Olivencia, Crazy Mary Dobson, Mad Man Pondo, Aaron Williams, Ron Mathis, Zodiak, Hy Zaya, LuFisto, The Lovely Lylah, DJ Hyde, and other stars of the independent wrestling circuit. It’s a great introduction to the world of wrestling beyond the WWE and a chance to get to know some rising stars before they really make it big.

The price is only good through Memorial Day weekend. Download it now, and please share with your friends. If you’re already an indy fan, or if you’re just curious what the indies are like, you’re going to love this book.

Aiden Blackhart: The Second Strongest Man Alive

11258747_10202966528522690_119951354_oIt’s not easy being the second strongest man alive. All Aiden Blackhart wants to do is inspire fat, lazy wrestling fans to follow his fitness program and get in shape like he is. And what thanks does he get? Boos, chops to the chest, and in a recent match against DJ Hyde – chair shots from small children.

The fans love to hate Aiden Blackhart, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Lebanon, Kentucky native fell in love with wrestling when he was just a kid. In middle school he and some friends began wrestling in the backyard on the trampoline. There was never a signature moment when Blackhart decided to become a wrestler. His friend, WWE Tough Enough hopeful Shane Mercer, introduced him to a promoter who told him all he needed was a license and he could try the real thing.

“Getting licensed wasn’t as easy as he made it sound,” Blackhard laughs, “But I got one.”

Blackhart admits he had a lot to learn coming in. “I didn’t understand things like respect for the veterans and shaking hands in the back. I just went out and wrestled. I copied a lot of guys’ moves in the ring, and they took exception to it.”

One night, veteran Nick Noble took to the ring after seeing Blackhart use his finishing kick and gave Blackhart a kick of his own. Noble challenged him to a match the following week. “I was scared to death he was going to shoot on me, but it was the easiest match I’d had. He talked me through the whole thing. He taught me a lot. Later that night, he sat me down and explained to me the importance of respect in this business. I owe him a lot.”

Blackhart’s title as the Second Strongest Man in the World came after taking a break in 2013. “I was this bald guy who was kind of a brawler, like Steve Austin, but I didn’t really have a gimmick. I was working for Destination One Wrestling in New Albany, Indiana, when promoter Ron Aslam suggested I do a fitness gimmick, Body by Aiden. I liked it, but I changed it to Body by Blackhart.”

Blackhart has wrestled with a number of talented veterans like DJ Hyde, Tracy Smothers, and Mad Man Pondo. “I was scared to death of Pondo because of all the hardcore stuff he used to do, but when he got me in the test of strength, it was the lightest I’d ever experienced. He was great to work with.”

Another veteran Blackhart worked with was the late J.C. Bailey. Blackhart’s proudest moment was working the first annual J.C. Bailey Memorial Tournament. “I was in a Fatal 4-Way Ladder Match for the Tri-State Title. At the end of the match, I went off a ladder through two tables set up on the floor. Bailey was a big hero of mine, and it meant a lot to me to be a part of that night.

Blackhart recently decided to move to Louisville, and he’s hoping to continue expanding his bookings in independent wrestling. His biggest goal for 2015: to earn a tryout with Juggalo Championship Wrestling. You can catch him and his trusty Shake Weight at shows around Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio and on television with UWA in Louisville.

Photo courtesy of Michael Herm Photography.

LUDUS: The Generation After Next Begins Here

If you want to see the next generation of WWE Superstars, watch NXT. If you want to see the next NXT stars, you have to go to the indies. And if you want to see the next generation of indie stars, Rockstar Pro wants you to come check out LUDUS.

Rockstar Pro has arguably the best roster in the Midwest and one of the best in the country. I’ve seen a number of their top stars in action at D1W/PDW in New Albany: Ron Mathis, Aaron Williams, Dave Crist, Kyle Maverick, Jerrod Harris, Alex Colon, DJ Hyde, Samantha Heights. The names may be new to you, but once you’ve seen them, they are can’t miss stars who consistently put on the match of the night wherever they perform.

Established in 2009, Rockstar Pro offers weekly television and monthly pay-per-views. They also offer an outstanding training program that has given rise to a Ludus – a new series of events geared towards showcasing the aspiring Rockstar wrestlers of tomorrow.

Ludus, according to Rockstar Pro’s website, “is an ancient Roman term for a school to train gladiators for combat. At Rockstar Pro’s Ludus, up & coming young talent will get a chance to prove themselves to the Rockstar Nation! YOU, the Rockstar Nation, will decide their fate! All new faces who want a shot at becoming a Rockstar must enter the Ludus!”

The next Ludus show is this Friday night in Dayton and features an outstanding line up of young talent mixed with some of Rockstar Pro’s best including Ace Perry, Lennox Norris, Kyle Maverick, and Samantha Heights. For details on Ludus, Rockstar Pro television and pay-per-view, and their training program, visit their website, www.rockstarprowrestling.com

A review of WWE Shop Express

I took a friend of mine to WWE Live in Louisville Saturday night. My friend is disabled and gets around in a wheelchair. He’s a huge wrestling fan, and whenever the WWE comes to town, he has to go, and he has to get a new John Cena shirt.

Saturday afternoon, I received an email about WWE Shop Express. This is a new service the WWE offers at live events that allows you to order merchandise on your phone and pick it up at a separate table. I considered using the service right then, but as I couldn’t decide on a shirt for myself, I decided to take my chances on the regular merch table.

When we got to the arena, the T-shirt table was jammed. There was no way I could maneuver him in safely in his chair and get him and myself shirts. I spotted the Shop Express table nearby, a short distance from the crowd, and I decided to give it a try. The website promised a simple, three step process. Pick your merchandise; pay online; wait for the email to tell you your order is ready. I’m happy to say it really was that simple.

The order process, including setting up an account (because your wwe.com account won’t work on this site) took barely five minutes. I hit the pay button and instantly received an email confirming my order. I looked over at the Express table and saw our shirts being pulled at that very moment. Less than two minutes after completing our order, we had our shirts and were on our way to our seats.

WWE Shop Express does not offer all the same shirts available at the venue, which isn’t entirely bad news. There were several shirts on the regular merch table that were not available through Shop Express, but Shop Express had several shirts not offered on the merch table. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns were not in Louisville, but their shirts could be had through Shop Express. Shop Express also offered T-shirts for NXT stars Finn Balor and Kevin Owens, and after an afternoon of deliberation, I finally went with Owens.

WWE has always been very good about being accessible to folks with disabilities. I remember being very impressed with the extra care they took at Wrestlemania Axxess in 2011 to accommodate those with special needs. I don’t know assisting the disabled was part of the idea behind Shop Express, but it was a huge plus for us. I can’t recommend WWE Shop Express enough for that reason alone.
As a final thought, I want to say THANK YOU to all the WWE fans who were so kind and considerate with a fellow fan who needed a little extra help. WWE events always have a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and Saturday was no different. To everyone who held doors, cleared the way, and offered a hand – thank you.

Meet Crazy Mary Dobson

1797971_699268903502709_2186941647616043393_nWe are two days from Girl Fight at the ArenA in Jeffersonville, and today’s introduction features the hometown girl who has taken the wrestling world by storm.

Some kids get into wrestling because of their Dad. Crazy Mary Dobson got into wrestling because of her Grandma.

Growing up, Crazy Mary was surrounded by boys, so she mostly did what the boys did: play video games and wrestle. She started watching wrestling on TV with her grandmother and in 2011, she went to her first Juggalo Championship Wrestling show. That’s where she saw Mad Man Pondo for the first time.

Shortly after the JCW, Mary decided that wrestling was for her. She reached out to Pondo on MySpace and asked him how she could get her start. “He told me that Mickie Knuckles could train me, if I could get to Charlestown, Indiana. I wrote him back and told him, ‘I live in Charlestown, Indiana!’”

Mary has since traveled the world, wrestling and training any place that would have her. She’s been to Japan, England, and Germany. She’s been in barbed wire death matches and mixed gender tag matches. She’s even attracted the attention of the WWE, where she’s been a Rosebud, Miz’s makeup girl, Kane’s boss, and most recently… Becky Lynch’s opponent on NXT, Sarah Dobson.

Crazy Mary is a high flier, an energetic performer who loves getting dropped on her head as much as she loves leaping from the top rope. “Lufisto told me she loved me because I like getting dropped on my head as much as she does!”

She has a pin fall victory over Amazing Kong, and she’s the co-owner of the JCW Tag Team Championship with Mad Man Pondo. At Girl Fight, she goes head to head with the daughter of a legend: Tessa Blanchard.

If you’re in the Louisville area, this is a can’t miss opportunity.

Nothing’s for sure in the world of wrestling, but Crazy Mary may very well be on her way to the top of the industry. We’ve been spoiled rotten in this area the last few years, watching her grow and mature into one of the must see attractions in independent wrestling. This could be your last chance to be able to say, “I saw her before she became a legend!”

You can follow Crazy Mary on Twitter @crazymarydobson. You can also read more of her story in Eat Sleep Wrestle.

Keep your eyes open; you’ll likely see her on WWE television again very soon.

(Photo credit: Ichiban Drunk.)

Meet Mary Elizabeth Monroe

maryelizabethmonroeMary Elizabeth Monroe was the new face that night. She burst through the curtain to a Katy Perry song, waving and smiling like a homecoming queen. The crowd made her feel welcome, cheering as she climbed each corner to wave to the Premier Destination Wrestling regulars.

And then, Crazy Mary Dobson entered.

Mary Elizabeth Monroe didn’t do anything to warrant the boos or the “Mary’s gonna kill you!” chants. She hadn’t done anything remotely heelish from the moment she set foot in the arena. Crazy Mary was the local hero, and Monroe… well, she was just another victim brought in to face their hero. But when Monroe saw the crowd was against her, she turned on them – and her opponent. She snapped, letting her violent side out, playing dirty when the ref let her have a little leeway. She played to the crowd, but the friendliness was gone. They hated her, and she now hated them.

Monroe was the surprise winner that night, and yes, there was cheating involved. She also made sure no one in the arena would forget her name.

Ten years ago Mary Elizabeth Monroe was pursuing her dream. She was the lead singer in a band in her home town of Cincinnati. Monroe invited some friends to come watch her perform at an upcoming gig, one of her friends offered her a deal: “I’ll come to your concert if you come see me wrestle.”

Monroe’s friend was working at Heartland Wrestling, a former WWE developmental territory that had already churned out an impressive number of wrestlers. She never watched wrestling growing up because it wasn’t allowed in the house, but sitting beside her guitar player and best friend at her first wrestling show, Monroe suddenly realized this was what she wanted to do. “My friends thought it was funny. They didn’t realize how serious I was.”

Monroe began her training at HWA and will tell you her training has never truly stopped. She’s a student of the game and counts the legendary Les Thatcher as one of her chief teachers and mentors. Her work with Thatcher is evident in the ring. Not only does she know the moves, she knows when to use them and why to use them in that particular moment.

Monroe’s stock has spiked in recent days. After winning the 2015 Queen of the Ring tournament at Vicious Outcast Wrestling, she went from unranked to number one in this week’s Indy Power Rankings. Monroe is constantly in demand and can be seen all across the Midwest including AIW in Cleveland, Legends and Heroes in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and Ohio Valley Wrestling in Louisville, and of course… Girl Fight in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

In addition to wrestling, Mary is a model for Headlock Gear and a representative for Gerweck.Net. Although she has no home promotion at the moment, Monroe is part of a core group working with Les Thatcher at The Warehouse in Hamilton, Ohio to launch Christian Wrestling Association International, a new, family friendly promotion this summer.

“That’s very important to me,” says Monroe. “When I invite someone to bring their kids to a show, I like knowing that they’re not going to come and see something awful. They’re going to have fun and be entertained. We’ve got partnerships with the Autism Society of Cincinnati and other charities. It’s going to be great.”

Women’s wrestling in general looks poised for a major surge in the coming years. Between her ring skills, and her ability to work a crowd, and her relentless pursuit of excellence, Mary Elizabeth Monroe may very well end up at the vanguard of that revolution.

For more information on Christian Wrestling Association International, including shows and training classes, please visit www.christianwrestlingassociationinternational.com

Meet the Lovely Lylah

11150360_742747235842254_5067231748321184467_nIf you’re going to Girl Fight in Jeffersonville next week, bring some extra cash, and hit up the Lovely Lylah’s table. If you’re lucky, she’ll have cupcakes or cake pops. Whatever she’s charging, they’re worth the price.

The Lovely Lylah hails from the Pacific Northwest. She never dreamed of being a wrestler as a kid, but when her brother and some of his friends started training, she tagged along. It was there that Playboy Buddy Rose spotted her and saw potential. Lylah started training with Rose and soon found herself taking bumps against both women and men.

When the opportunity availed itself, Lylah moved to Louisville, Kentucky to train at the legendary Ohio Valley Wrestling. It was there that, with the help of Al Snow, she cultivated the powerhouse princess persona she uses most often in the ring. She’s comfortable playing the good guy, but when she’s a real delight when the princess lets her dark side take over.

Lylah is a powerful competitor who isn’t afraid to mix it up with the guys or girls, and she looks to have her hands full next week against The Real Lady Delilah Reignz. She’s a star on the rise and one of many wrestlers who will give you your money’s worth at Girl Fight.

You can read more about the Lovely Lylah in Eat Sleep Wrestle. And please follow her on Twitter @lovelylylah. Grab the book. Go see her wrestle. And remember what I told you about the cake pops!

Don’t Call Them Divas – This is Wrestling

girlfightWomen have been wrestling just as long as men. In fact the very first match featured in the book Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville is a mixed gender match that took place in 1880 when a circus wrestler named Ida Alb issued an open challenge to any man in Louisville for a 3 out of 5 falls contest, just to prove wrestling was not fake.

Sadly, women’s wrestling has never really been considered on equal footing with men’s. Even in today’s WWE, women’s matches are too often booked poorly, treated as restroom break matches before the main event.

It’s time you experience what women’s wrestling really is.
Tuesday Night May 12, Strictly Nsane Pro Wrestling and the ArenA in Jeffersonville, Indiana, presents Girl Fight, a night featuring some of the best independent wrestlers from across the country. You won’t see any guys on the bill. Tuesday night belongs strictly to the ladies.

TNA Knockout Havok will be in action against Hardcore Heather Owens. Crazy Mary Dobson, who just made her NXT debut last week, will do battle with Tessa Blanchard, daughter of the legendary Tully Blanchard. The Lovely Lylah, Mary Elizbeth Monroe, Samantha Heights, and others will also be in action.

This week I’ll be spotlighting a few of these talented wrestlers on the blog. Please understand, this is not a night of popcorn matches. This is professional wrestling at its best, featuring some of the hardest hitting, highest flying performers on the independent scene today.

Girl Fight will change your definition of “hit like a girl” in a very dramatic way.

Glad I didn’t spend $100 last night

Just about every pro wrestler on my Facebook and Twitter agrees last night’s Mayweather-Pacquiao fight looked like a work. What does that tell us about the legitimate sport of boxing?

Sorry to all you “real” sports fans who spent $100 last night. Given what you paid for last night, that $9.99 for the WWE Network looks like a bargain.