Suplex City

If you missed it last night, Brock Lesnar coined the next “Austin 3:16” level catchphrase.

I know someone who has been to Suplex City. We’ve been friends over twenty years, and about fifteen years ago he was wrestling as Chris Alexander at OVW. He wrestled many of the guys on last night’s show including John Cena, Damien Sandow, Randy Orton, and Brock Lesnar.

About six suplexes into the main event, he made the comment that Brock doesn’t do suplexes. He pretty much just throws you.

“Did you ever take one from Brock?” I asked.

He nodded.

“What’s it like?”

He shook his head. “Doesn’t feel good.”

As much as no one wanted to see that main event, it delivered. Brock decimated Roman Reigns to the delight of the crowd and proved that he is worth that contract he just signed. Then out of no where, Seth Rollins ascended to the top in a dramatic Wrestlemania moment. Great finish to a surprisingly good show.

One night in UWF with Mad Man Pondo

10987394_961163913916988_2647946944708521391_nAin’t no wrestling story like a Mad Man Pondo story. Here’s one Pondo shared with me after posting this photo online, a memento of his one night with UWF in Florida.

 

Die hard Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat fans may remember that for a brief time, Steamboat had a masked ninja manager. The gimmick only lasted a short time, and when the manager was unmasked, he was revealed to be Paul Heyman. But Heyman didn’t originate the role. The original man was Howard Brackney, who lived near young Pondo in Illinois.

Brackney was booked on a few shows for UWF down in Florida, but he had no way to get to Florida. Pondo had a nice car, courtesy of his parents, so Howard asked Pondo to drive him south. Pondo agreed on one condition: he wanted to be booked with UWF. Brackney made a call Herb Abrams at UWF and then called Pondo to let him know he had the job.

When the two arrived in Florida, Pondo received a warm welcome from Herb Abrams and WWF legends Bruno Sammartino and Captain Lou Albano. The boys were treated to dinner and then went to the arena. “The under card guys had a separate locker room from the big guys,” says Pondo. “I remember Luna Vachon was in the undercard room. They had everyone’s name written on a piece of paper on the wall, listing who they were facing that night. I looked up and down and my name wasn’t on the list.”

Pondo went to Sammartino and Albano, asking why he had been left off the list. That’s when they directed him to the other locker room. “These were the big names. Paul Orndorff. Dr. Death Steve Williams, Bam Bam Bigelow, B. Brian Blair. And there, at the bottom of the list, was me.”

Pondo had no clue why he was on the top stars list. Pondo was only in the business for two years, and he was a long way from becoming a hardcore legend. He was, by his own admission, pretty green and pretty terrible. His lack of talent shone brightly in the ring. “Bruno and Captain Lou just killed me on the commentary too,” he says.

After the match, Sammartino and Albano pulled him aside. “Where were the moonsaults?” they asked. “Where were all the flips out of the ring? All the high flying stuff?”

Pondo was confused. “I don’t know. I’ve never tried them. But if you want me to try, I’ll be happy to give it a shot.”

Albano and Sammartino were stunned. “We were told you were a high flier.”

And that’s when it clicked. In order to get to Florida, Brackney needed a ride. In order to get the ride, he had to get Pondo booked. In order to get Pondo booked, he made up a ridiculous story about Mad Man Pondo being a high flying aerial daredevil.

“I was booked in Miami and Tampa after that first show,” says Pondo. “They paid me for Ft. Lauderdale, but they canceled me in the other two places. But I got a photo with Orndorff out of the deal.

Pondo’s gone on to bigger and better things since that awful night in Southern Florida. Still, he laments that his friend didn’t at least clue him in. “He could have told me what he told them,” says Pondo. “Then I could have gone in the ring and faked an ankle injury to get out of it!”

If you want more Pondo stories, I strongly recumbent checking out his episode of the Art of Wrestling Podcast with Colt Cabana. You will also find a number of wild Pondo stories in my book, Eat Sleep Wrestle. The book was originally intended to shine a spotlight on the younger generation of indy wrestlers working today, but it quickly became apparent you can’t tell the story of modern indy wrestling without Mad Man Pondo!

Thank you, Wrestling Observer

BluegrassBrawlers-coverI got a message from a friend of mine on Facebook today. It seems that Bluegrass Brawlers came in third in the voting for 2014’s top pro wrestling book at the Wrestling Observer. The top three books, based strictly on first place votes, were:

1. Death of WCW by Bryan Alvarez and R.D. Reynolds (257 votes)

2. The Best in the World At What I Have No Idea by Chris Jericho (135 votes)

3. Bluegrass Brawlers by John Cosper (18 votes)

When you look at the votes, Bluegrass Brawlers was a distant third, but to get to that distant third spot, eighteen people had to vote for my book over Chris Jericho and Bryan Alvarez. I’ll take that third place any day!

Every dream, every journey, begins with a few small steps. I am very humbled and thankful to those who voted for Bluegrass Brawlers, taking me a few steps along this road. Thank you.

Rebuild the Hauss!

This is hands down the coolest wrestling shirt I have ever seen. I bought one back in December and had it mailed to my wife so she could wrap it up for my birthday.

If you want one, you can get one through my buddy Marc Hauss. Marc is an independent wrestler who is currently out of action due to a recent knee surgery. He’s already on the mend, working hard to come back stronger than ever. In the mean time, he’s having to rely sources of income other than wrestling to hold him over.

Marc just built a new website and released several new shirts, all designed by his sponsor American Villain Apparel. If you’re a fan of Marc, or of indy wrestling, or really cool wrestling shirts, click here to pay Marc’s website a visit and do a little shopping.

Here’s the latest design, created to commemorate his current “rebuilding” phase:

And yes, if you have to have it, the wrestling villains shirt is still available!

Prayers for the Luchadores

One of the wrestlers I interviewed for Eat Sleep Wrestle is a Southern Indiana native who works under the name Hy Zaya. Hy was still feeling the effects of injuries sustained in a recent match when we met up at Texas Roadhouse. We talked a lot about injuries, about prayer, and how every night, he and his opponents go out with one goal in mind: to return to the back as injury free as they went out.

Every wrestler knows and understands that there’s risk involved every time they step in the ring. The history of pro wrestling is filled with career ending injuries and tragic deaths. As much as these men and women try to protect one another, no one is perfect. When something goes wrong everyone, from the superstars at the top to the road warriors working roller rinks and warehouses feels the pain of those who suffer.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Hijo del Perro Aguayo as well as Rey Mysterio, Jr. I can’t imagine what any of them are going through at this time, but my prayers are with them.

Be safe out there, ladies and gents. And fans, please heed the words you hear at the beginning of each WWE show. Leave the wrestling to the professionals.

Happy birthday, Starmaker Bolin

bolin1Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin had hoped to have his autobiography ready to release today, his birthday. It’s still in the works, and no, it’s not because he’s struggled to find people to say nice things about him. Here’s a sampling of what some folks have said about the Starmaker

“Although I had more of a national presence, Kenny got to work consistently more than I ever did, managed far better talent than I ever did, and was allowed to be the lovable con artist he is without any obvious outside ‘producing’ and ‘writing’ to spoil his unique personality. To steal a phrase from Hunter S. Thompson, he is ‘one of God’s own prototypes.'” – The Sinister Minister, James Mitchell

“I got an email inviting me to call in and participate in a Roast of Kenny Bolin on Blogtalkradio. I know people wanted to hear me roast Kenny for all the things he did to me back in OVW, but I couldn’t do it. My years at OVW were golden, and King B was the biggest part of that, figuratively and literally. Kenny made me a star, and he made me the biggest heel at OVW. I owe everything I achieved at OVW and later the WWE to Kenny Bolin. I was very blessed to do the things I did, and I am thankful to say that Kenny Bolin is still my friend.” – Rico Costantino

“Kenny is truly a star maker. If only he would burn the videos he has of me and Cena way, way back when we were both in the rise. But then if it weren’t for Kenny, no one would care about those videos. Congrats, Kenny.” – Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

One evening, I received a voice mail from Kenny. He had dialed my number by mistake, and he thought he was leaving a message for one of his many Beets by Bolin customers. The voice mail gave me a rare insight into the real Kenny Bolin as he spoke about a young fan, a girl with autism, who would be his dinner guest along with his family. He was treating all four of them to dinner and hooking the young lady up with a pair of Beets, and autographed photo, and a copy of a John Cena video. It’s entirely possible that once this young girl got to the restaurant, Kenny charged her for her stuff just the same as he did his own daughter-in-law the night he met her, but I prefer to think that there actually is a heart underneath all that bravado. As Jim Cornette likes to say, you just have to dig through too many layers to get to it.

Happy birthday, Kenny Bolin. I’m happy to call you a friend.

Wrestling with Cancer

Cancer sucks. While there are many wrestling fans (myself included) who can appreciate and cheer for a great heel, Cancer is one heel that will never, ever get cheers. Ever.

Tim Donst is a great guy and a heck of a wrestler. My heart goes out to him and the struggle he faces ahead. Tim is strong, and I know the whole indy wrestling community, fans and workers, are behind him. Click here for an article about Tim on poconorecord.com to bring you up to speed on his story. Huge props to him for making the best of the situation and doing what he can to brighten the lives of younger cancer patients.

Here’s hoping Tim’s story has a positive outcome like that of another indy wrestler, Matt Cappotelli. Cappotelli was days away from a WWE shot when he got his diagnosis. The Southeast Outlook has a story on him this week. Click here to read about Matt.

All the best to Tim Donst for a speedy treatment and recovery. Would love to see both of these men get back in the ring one day.

Eat Sleep Wrestle – Four months later

cropped-esw-cover.jpgWhen I was writing Eat Sleep Wrestle, I knew I was creating a time capsule. What’s written in the pages of that book is a moment of time, now past, depicting the lives of a number of modern day independent wrestlers. No sooner was the book released, the lives and careers of the men and women profiled inside began to change. Since Eat Sleep Wrestle was printed:

Evolution Pro Wrestling closed its doors.

Destination One Wrestling changed its name to Premiere Destination Wrestling.

Jamin Olivencia left OVW.

Michael Hayes left OVW and seems to have retired.

Marc Hauss was laid up after surgery. (Get well, sir!)

Colt Cabana blew up the internet and got sued along with his pal CM Punk.

LuFisto’s Yoda-like wisdom on hardcore wrestling went viral.

Madman Pondo and Crazy Mary Dobson became the Juggalo Championship Wrestling tag team champions, the first intergender champions in the promotion’s history.

Ron Mathis managed to accumulate four title belts at once.

Mitchell Huff became Cage Mitchell.

Crazy Mary Dobson got a speaking role on Raw. “You are chips!”

Mad Man Pondo finally appeared on Raw as a Rosebud. Arriba!

Crazy Mary, Lylah Lodge, and Cage Mitchell also appeared as Rosebuds. Crazy Mary’s become a regular, in fact.

At least four wrestlers – Crazy Mary, Lylah, Aaron Williams, and LuFisto – applied for the next season of WWE’s Tough Enough.

The Crist brothers co-headlined CZW’s anniversary show with the Young Bucks.

CHIKARA crowned Heidi Lovelace winner of the Young Lions Cup, the first woman to achieve that honor.

If you’re scratching your head wondering who these people are, grab a copy of Eat Sleep Wrestle to get up to speed. Then get out to an independent wrestling show to see what you’re missing.

 

Hoosier Hero Stu Gibson

stugibson-sheik When I my family moved to Indiana in 1988, we immersed ourselves in Indiana’s proudest tradition, becoming fans of New Albany High School basketball. One of the players we saw every week during the 88-89 season was a young man who would go on to be a three time WWE tag team champion and two time NWA world champion, Rob Conway.

Rob Conway’s not the only NAHS alum to become a big time professional wrestler. Crybaby Chris Alexander (who was in marching band with me at NAHS) learned to run the ropes at the same as Conway. But long before either man set foot in Ohio Valley Wrestling, there was Stu Gibson.

Stu Gibson was an All-Indiana football player at New Albany High School, graduating in 1943. He played college ball at the University of Louisville. He was even made a Kentucky Colonel after leading the team in scoring in 1947.

Gibson was also a Golden Glove boxer, but after graduating from U of L, he chose to pursue professional wrestling, working first for Francis McDonough and the Allen Athletic Club. Gibson would work mostly as a babyface during his years in Louisville, but he was equally successful as a babyface and a heel, especially down in Texas.

Wrestling historian J. Michael Kenyon recorded one of Gibson’s most memorable stunts from the early 60s. “It was a small card at Victoria TX, where Gibson and Danny McShain hooked up in double count-out. It ended back in the corner of the building, on top of the concession stand, with Gibson spooning mustard into the semi-conscious form of McShain, amid veritable pandemonium.

“Okay, so what — but the kicker was cute: They came back a week later, in a rematch, with McShain refusing to wrestle until ‘all mustard was barred from the building.’ And that turned out to be the actual stip, with the fans forced to eat ‘dry’ hot dogs for a night.”

Gibson passed away in 1988. His story is told in my latest book, Louisville’s Greatest Show: The Story of the Allen Athletic Club.

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