RISE: It All Begins Here

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting the first class of students to go through the Grindhouse Pro Wrestling Academy at The ArenA in Jeffersonville. This Saturday, the initial class invites you to come see their pro wrestling debut as Grindhouse Pro Wrestling Academy presents… RISE!

Trainers 2 Tuff Tony and Rudy Switchblade have poured their decades of knowledge and experience into the first class at Grindhouse. Now fans can get their first glimpse of the Buffet Brothers when they take on the Armada. They’ll also see Freddie Hudson vs. Toney Gunn, and a student versus trainer match when ZDP – Zach Dayton Pittman faces Rudy Switchblade himself!

Will this be the start of something new? Could the next ROH, NJPW, or WWE superstar be on the card Saturday? The students at Grindhouse are eager to convince you that anything is possible.

Show information is available on Facebook. For tickets, contact one of the students. Better hurry. They’ve hit the streets hard, and seats are going fast.

Grindhouse Academy: Rudy Switchblade

This is part two of a series of stories about The Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and the new Grindhouse Academy wrestling school.

When 2 Tuff Tony opened the doors of The Arena on Spring Street in Jeffersonville, Indiana, one of the things he wanted most was to start a school for aspiring wrestlers. Tony is a seasoned veteran himself and knew he had a lot to teach, but he wanted a partner who could give students the things he could not. He wanted someone trained in a variety of wrestling styles, someone with in-ring experience and knowledge that would really challenge the students. Tony found all that in Rudy Switchblade.

Louisville area wrestling enthusiasts will remember Rudy from his run with OVW as well as appearances for other promoters and promotions in the area. What fans may not know is that Rudy is a twenty year veteran who began training and wrestling all the way back in 1997.

Rudy spent 10 years in the business before he came to OVW. He started his training at the School of Hard Knocks with Bill Anderson, Jesse Hernandez, and Chris Daniels. “They were pretty much the ‘it’ school at the time in Southern California, and I started with a group of guys who are all pretty famous now.”

Rudy moved on to UPW, then the Southern California developmental territory for the WWE, where he worked with future OVW and WWE stars John Cena and Rico Costantino. He spent two years in the New Japan dojo, and a few more years with Ring of Honor before coming to Louisville to train under Danny Davis, Rip Rogers, and Al Snow.

Rudy Switchblade is a student of wrestling well-versed in many styles and techniques. His is a very different path than the one his partner followed, but Rudy and Tony have become good friends as well as partners over the last six months.

Rudy and Tony are now training a half dozen students at Grindhouse Academy. Through trial and error, they’ve established a regular class schedule that seems to work best with the odd shoot job schedules of their students. It’s an open door type of setting, where students of all levels are welcome to come and go, and it’s ridiculously affordable: it’s only $10 an hour.

Wrestling purists are bound to raise an eyebrow and even a few objections to such a low price. Most training schools cost thousands of dollars and require large, up-front, non-refundable deposits. Those schools do their best to weed out the less serious students on day one, keeping the money and sending them packing. It’s an old school mentality that you won’t find at Grindhouse.

“Don’t get me wrong. We’re looking for serious students,” say Switchblade. “The difference is, we’re not here just to take you money. Tony and I are not getting rich off this. We’re doing this because we love it.”

Grindhouse is a place for those who can’t afford the big name schools. It’s a place to come and get your feet wet without getting your butt kicked. It’s a great place to see what wrestling is really all about without blowing your life’s savings on day one and having you love of the business battered by a hundred knife-edge chops.

Grindhouse Academy currently meets 3-4 times a week at the Arena. Schedule and times vary, but you can get more information on the school and the Arena by contacting 2 Tuff Tony on Facebook.

Grindhouse Academy: The Man Behind the Arena

This is part one of a series of stories about The Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and the new Grindhouse Academy wrestling school. 

2 Tuff Tony knows there are people who don’t share his vision for pro wrestling. He knows because someone keeps trying to shut him down. But in the words of the long time veteran, “They only make me stronger.”

Just two weeks ago, the Clark County Health Inspector received another phone call about The Arena, located on Spring Street across from Clark Memorial Hospital in Jeffersonville, Indiana. While some promoters might have told the inspector where to go, Tony welcomed him, as he always does. He gave the inspector full access and complied with the one request given.

“He asked me to put in a sink,” said Tony, who demonstrated the brand new plumbing in the Arena’s tiny concession area.

Tony may have one or two detractors, but wrestling fans, promoters, and the workers themselves are raving about the Arena. It’s a work in progress that has taken a lot of time, money, and move, but Tony is proud of the work that has happened. In addition to the new sink, there’s a wider, easier-access entrance in the back to allow for more accessibility for the disabled. The DJ booth has been re-designed and re-built, the downstairs locker area is constantly evolving, and one of three murals is nearly done on the wall behind the DJ.

Tony opened the Arena because he saw a need. Over the past few years, multiple promoters have tried to run in a variety of buildings, from the former Production House in New Albany, to the Colgate Gym in Clarksville, to Jammerz Rollerdrome in Clarksville. The Arena was conceived as a place where anyone could come in and, for a low price, put on a show. The Arena has the ring, the DJ booth, the locker room area, and the concessions area. It’s up to the promoter to bring the people, the wrestlers, the music, and the food.

The Arena now has three regular promotions running on a regular schedule. OSWA runs every Sunday afternoon. IWA Mid-South runs on Thursday nights. Pro Wrestling Freedom Runs on the second Friday night each month. The building has also hosted special events sponsored by Terry Harper, several Girl Fight women’s shows, and Chikara Pro Wrestling.

“One of the promoters told me he didn’t like seeing other guys’ fliers hanging up in the Arena,” says Tony. The solution: Tony put a drop down curtain over top of the cork board that holds show fliers, so promoters can cover up the other fliers during their own events.

The newest occupant in the building is Tony himself, along with partner Rudy Switchblade. Together they have begun a program called Grindhouse Academy. “Grindhouse is a place where anyone who wants to become a wrestler can give it a try,” he says. “We don’t require a large deposit up front, and we don’t take your money and try to run you off the first day. It’s low priced to give anyone a chance to give this a shot and see if they have what it takes.”

Tony’s had a few trainers in house since the Arena opened its doors, but Rudy Switchblade brings a new level of experience and knowledge to the program. “He’s been to OVW, Japan, Mexico. He knows a lot that I don’t, and he’s a great teacher.”

Grindhouse Academy meets a few afternoons every week. Interested students can contact Tony on Facebook to get more information on times and fees. I’ll share more about all of this, Tony’s partner, and their students as the week goes on.

PWF Comes to Jeffersonville April 8!

12952768_10153893671035339_2100030830_oThe Arena has been a hit since the day 2 Tuff Tony opened the doors on the Jeffersonville wrestling venue. Friday night, a pair of seasoned promoters bring their act to town as Pro Wrestling Freedom presents a stellar card of indy wrestling action.

Founded in 2012 in Corbin, Kentucky, PWF has made its name by booking the best young talent possible. “In the beginning, we brought in a few names at first such as Vader and Dutch Mantell,” says co-promoter Jimmy Feltcher. “However what we discovered along the way is the fans were paying to see the Independent talent, not being entertained by the past.

The Kentucky version of PWF folded in 2013, but Feltcher and his partner John Norris (Father Fear) decided to bring it back in early 2016. True to their roots, PWF is bringing in a loaded card featuring Hy Zaya, Shane Mercer, Roscoe Eat Lisa, Menace, Gary Jay, Cash Flo, and Team IOU.

“There will be something for everyone,” promises Feltcher. “Hard hitting violence, high flying, and everything in between. When you come to a PWF show, Our goal is take you from your reality and into ours.”

Children are welcome, and PWF strives to create a family-friendly atmosphere, but Feltcher cautions fans to use their discretion. “Remember, these are grown men, who are beating the hell out of each. Tempers flare, and sometimes the vocabulary can be less than desirable.”

General admission seats are $10. First row is already sold out. Doors open at 7 PM Friday, and bell time is at 8 PM. For more information, visit the event website on Facebook.

Hy Zaya and Menace are all featured in the book Eat Sleep Wrestle by John Cosper, available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.

CHIKARA Pro is off the hook

I read a lot about CHIKARA while I was writing Eat Sleep Wrestle. I watched a number of matches from past shows online. I even interviewed their fearless leader, Mike Quackenbush. Tonight I learned that you don’t really know CHIKARA until you see them live, and when you do, you will become a true believer.

Unlike most major independent promotions, CHIKARA is not a star-driven show. Fans who are tuned in to the indie scene will recognize some names and faces, but it’s the promotion itself that is the draw. CHIKARA bills itself as the super lucha fun party, and they deliver on fun from beginning to end.

That’s not to say this is not a serious wrestling promotion. CHIKARA’s roster is filled with talented high fliers and even a few brawlers. Blaster McMassive and Kentucky proud wrestler Chuck Taylor delivered a show stealing brawl right before the main event. But that’s not the reason Chikara continues to add to its fan base in its 15th season.

CHIKARA gives you colorful characters in masks like Dasher Hatfield, Ophidian the Cobra, and the Proletariat Boar of Moldova. CHIKARA gives you heels who toss foreign objects (in this case, a cucumber) to kids in the crowd and later try to get it back from that kid so they can cheat to win. CHIKARA gives you characters like Freshly Squeezed Orange Cassidy, who laid down to take a nap during the opening bout. CHIKARA gives you a tag match, Arik Cannon and Darin Corbin vs. Lucas Calhoun and Missile Assault Man, that ends with almost five minutes of slow motion wrestling. This particular match was so much fun, the fans responded with a drawn out, slow motion “This… Is… Awesome…” chant.

CHIKARA is very fan interactive. No insult from the crowd goes unanswered by the heels. Just remember to keep it clean. CHIKARA is PG and kid friendly, and rule number one is no bad language from the wrestlers or fans.

CHIKARA does occasionally feature inter-gender wrestling, which may not sit well with some fans. That said, they currently have Heidi Lovelace on the roster. Heidi is an OVW graduate with a stellar resume who not only excels at inter-gender matches but truly seems to enjoy mixing it up with the boys.

CHIKARA doesn’t travel extensively, and if you’re lucky enough that they pay a visit, the ticket prices may seem a bit high. My ticket tonight was double what I normally pay for local shows, but it was worth it.

This was the first time CHIKARA has ever visited the Louisville area. Given the reactions from the sell out crowd, I doubt it will be their last visit. Check out their website at www.chikarapro,com to see their schedule of upcoming events and watch video online. Thanks to 2 Tuff Tony and the gang at the Arena in Jeffersonville for bringing the best in independent wrestling to town.

Victoria Anne – Is she Tough Enough?

I’ve never met Victoria Anne or seen her in action, but after spotting her video on the Tough Enough website, I can’t wait to do so. Many of the videos on the website are pretty average and dull, but Victoria has a passion and charisma that catches your eye. If she has half as much talent as she does passion, she will do well in this business. She’s currently training with fellow Tough Enough hopeful Mitchell Huff and JCW champion 2 Tuff Tony. Victoria Anne is one to watch for, and even if she doesn’t catch the WWE’s eye this time around, I have a feeling she will be turning heads very soon.

https://youtu.be/nQzdpcrfRhk

Wrestlers are like family

There’s a bond that forms among wrestlers, referees, announcers, promoters, and fans that’s almost like family. When one person hurts, everyone feels their pain. Everyone rallies to be by their side. Today, the wrestling community in the Midwest is standing by two of its own.

aaron_williams

This morning, when Ohio wrestler Aaron Williams went in for surgery on his ACL, his Twitter and Facebook page lit up with thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. Surgery went well, and Aaron’s already looking forward to rehab. Aaron’s a class act, one of the nicest guys in the business, and I for one can’t wait to see the baddest man alive return to action.

The other person feeling the love is Rick Brady, promoter of Premier Destination Wrestling (formerly Destination One). Rick and his family lost everything when their home was flooded several weeks back. Rick had already decided to close shop on PDW before the flood, but last night, word came out that the men and women who worked for him are putting on a benefit show.

rick_brady_benefitThe show will be May 5th at the Production House in New Albany. Tracy Smothers, Mad Man Pondo, 2 Tuff Tony, Crazy Mary Dobson, Lennox Norris, Dash Venture, Matt Atreya, and Mitchell Huff have all committed to be there for their old boss. I’ve been a fan of D1W/PDW since my first show in January 2014, and if you’re in the area, this will be a show worth seeing. And for a good cause.

Stories like these were part of the inspiration for this blog. It’s not just love of wrestling that unites us. It’s love for our neighbors.

Do something good for someone today.