Are they Tough Enough?

I decided to compile a list of Tough Enough hopefuls who have worked the Louisville area for those who want to keep tabs and support them. In no particular order, here they are:

Shane Mercer

LuFisto

Mitchell Huff

Michael Hayes

Victoria Webb

Dylan Bostic

Lou Crank

Tim Donst is not a local, and only made his area debut last December, but I’ve been following his fight with cancer and have to include him here.

And even though he retired from the ring to pursue movies, I have to give a shout out to my old friend the Prophet – or is it the Shepherd – Ben Wood.

Chris Hero is going to kick ALS

How long can Chris Hero wrestle?

Long ago, Hero had an epic battle with CM Punk that lasted 43 minutes. They followed that up with a 93 minute war that still has people talking. But can he go two hours? Three hours? Fans in Canada may soon find out!

The independent wrestling superstar has accepted a challenge from Smash Wrestling, and it’s for a good cause. They’re doing a fundraiser for ALS research in Canada, and it’s up to the fans just how long Hero will wrestle on July 7 in Etobicoke.

If the fans raise $500 (Canadian dollars), he’ll go 30 minutes. If they raise $1000, he’ll do an hour. If they hit $1500 he’ll do 90 minutes, $2000 he’ll work two hours, and so on, and so on.

In the early days of wrestling, it was not uncommon for men like Farmer Burns, Duncan C. Ross, and William Muldoon to wrestle for hours on end, into the wee hours of the morning. It’s unheard of in the modern era, but it’s been done before.

Hero’s gone some amazing distances in the past. This time he’s doing it not for fame and glory, not for nostalgia’s sake, but for a good cause.

Please go to Smash Wrestling’s website and donate to Chris Hero’s ALS Gauntlet Challenge!

The Women’s Wrestling Revolution Continues

10535641_385023985019013_4645483892159298916_oLast week, it was the women – not the men – stole the show on a live NXT special broadcast on the WWE Network. It wasn’t the first time this has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last.

Insider reports say that Triple H and Stephanie are pleased with how the women have been presented on NXT and want to change how they are presented on the main WWE product, but Vince McMahon refuses to allow change to happen.

Meanwhile, in Jeffersonville, Indiana, Mad Man Pondo remains a few steps ahead of all three of them.

Following a sensational debut with the May Girl Fight show, Pondo’s Strictly Nsane Wrestling has announced a second show on July 7. Pondo’s bringing back some of the women who made this a can’t miss event including Crazy Mary Dobson, The Lovely Lylah, and Mary Elizabeth Monroe, and he’s added two more stars to the lineup: indie darling and grassroots Tough Enough hopeful LuFisto; and the most popular woman on WWE programming without a WWE contract, “Blue Pants” Leva Bates.

Decades ago, women like Mildred Burke were powerful and popular enough to actually headline a wrestling card. Women’s wrestling has been treated as a side show attraction for a long time, but indie fans are finally recognizing that the women of the squared circle are not filler. They are wrestlers to the core, and on any given night they can steal the show.

July 7 at the ArenA in Jeffersonville, they are the show!

What’s Old Is New: PCW seeking wrestlers in LA

11149331_1590190417911060_4793560956734334411_nPacific Coast Wrestling is looking to bring old school professional wrestling back to the beach. I invited them to take over the blog for a day to plug their promotion and share their call for wrestling talent. Very excited to see what these guys are putting together and happy to pass it along!

Pacific Coast Wrestling (PCW) is the brainchild of former 3PW co-owner Mikey Hawes and marketing guru, Mike Scharnagl. Hawes, who has an extensive wrestling promoter background in England and in Philadelphia, met Scharnagl while they were both talking to a mutual friend about Japanese wrestling. After attending several indy wrestling events together in Southern California, the two instantly realized that there was a need for more wrestling in the Los Angeles area, particularly close to the beach communities. The two quickly formed Pacific Coast Wrestling, and are now in the process of acquiring a venue for their first event, which is projected to take place in early Fall 2015. The promotion’s Facebook page indicates that they intend to bring WRESTLING back to the Southern California area with a blend of Japanese Strong Style, Old School (think 1970s and 80s NWA), and a little bit of Hardcore (no weapons or gimmicks, but stiff action).

“Mikey (Hawes) has been in the business and knows what works and what doesn’t. He has extensive connections in the business which has certainly allowed us to hit the ground running. He also has connections with the Monster Factory, Santino Bros., and Wildkat Sports which should allow us to expose fans to some newer talent,” said Scharnagl. “I’m more of a student and a longtime fan of the business. I’m a huge fan of Pro Wrestling NOAH and New Japan because for the most part, the focus is on the wrestling. It’s reminiscent of old school US wrestling. Sure, wrestlers can have gimmicks and personalities – it gives fans something to like or hate, but the focus is primarily on what happens in the ring, not on a promo. I think that’s really what we are shooting for.”

To make sure their vision is translated in the locker room and the ring, the two enlisted former NWA Champion, The Almighty Sheik, as their talent booker, and the group is currently looking for wrestling talent within the California, Nevada and Arizona areas. Interested wrestlers should email booker@pacificcoastwrestling.com.

Is Shane Goode Tough Enough?

December 11, 2014 BigAssXmasBash351

I attended my first real independent wrestling show in January of 2014. I was hooked from the opening match, and as fate would have it, the first man to enter that match is now one of the most viewed videos on WWE’s Tough Enough website. Shane Goode’s video has caught the eye of fans across the country and the WWE because of his intensity and ring presence. Midwestern fans who know him as “The Iron Demon” Shane Mercer have seen a star in him for a long time.

Goode was hooked from the age of two, when he saw Hulk Hogan vs. the Ultimate Warrior on a rented VHS tape. Years later, he did a search on Myspace and connected with Zodiak, a fellow Kentucky wrestler who invited him and a friend out to a barn where they held wrestling shows to learn some of the basics. “We did a lot of backyard high spot stuff and got a standing ovation, but it didn’t go over well with the boys. They told us we were killing the card.”

Goode credits Bull Pain and Todd Morton for teaching him psychology and how to properly work a match. “I almost got in a fight with Bull over going with the crowd and calling him old man. He hated it and threatened to beat my ass with a bat, but I didn’t back down. I think he understood I didn’t know any better. They took good care of me from there and took me under their wing.”

Goode is typically one of the main attractions on the card these days, but he remembers well how hard it was to break out of the lower card. “A lot of promoters don’t want to give you the chance, or they put you with someone green as Hell and want you to shine from it. One of the early matches that helped me was my debut at D1W against Simon Sezz. It was my first match in a unknown fed full of bigger names, and we tore it up. I got a ‘Please come back,’ chant and, ‘This is awesome.’ Goosebumps moment.”

Goode had similar goosebumps moment wrestling Jason Kincaid at Pro Wrestling Freedom. As a member of the IWA Mid-South roster, he points to matches against Michael Elgin and Hy Zaya as the ones that put him over with the fans. “Hy Zaya and I fought in a cage match that really helped me shift the tide with the fans. I was a heel at the time, and I garnered a lot of respect for the brutality we put on. Humbling and awesome experience with both men.”

So what does Goode hope the WWE sees when they look at his video? “I hope they see a talent that can be groomed, who is still hungry and willing to learn. I have the body strength associated with wrestlers much larger than me. I’ve always had a no nonsense approach in promos, but I can adapt to what’s needed. It would be interesting to expand out of my comfort zone on any level but especially WWE.”

Shane Goode has a great physique and the look of a rising star. He is quick and agile off the ropes, and his feats of strength reminds you of Cesaro. (The photo above shows Shane lifting John Wayne Murdock and Kongo Kong – more than 500 pounds – on his shoulders.) His matches never disappoint, and he leaves it all in ring every single night. What’s more, Goode is one of the good guys, a favorite with the fans as well as the locker room. I’ve never heard a cross word said about the man. The WWE would do well to give him a look, but even if they don’t, you can rest assured the Iron Demon will still be fighting and winning fans somewhere on the independent scene.

Click here to view Shane’s video and please share it!!!

Kill Owens Kill!

Indy wrestling fans have been telling WWE fans for years they were missing out. Last night, Indy fans were able to rise up and say, “See?? I told you so!”

Owens is only the latest to crash the WWE party. Bryan, Rollins, Ambrose, Harper, Zayn, Cesaro, Balor, Itami, Bayley, Emma, Neville. These are not pre-fabbed stars made by the WWE machine. All of these rising stars got to the WWE after years of busting their butts on the Indy circuit.

There’s more great wrestling to discover, possibly right down the street from your house. That’s why I wrote Eat Sleep Wrestle. That’s why you need to get out and see an Indy show.

Head over to Smart Mark Video to get a sample now. Look up CZW/WSU, PWG, OVW, IWA Mid-South, CHIKARA, Rockstar Pro, CWAI, Empire, Shimmer, AIW, or take a look at what Jeff Jarrett’s putting together at GFW.

If I left out your favorite promotion, please please enter it in the comments below.

A revolution is coming.

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