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The Power of Freight Train

Like many fans packed into the Jeffersonville ArenA last November for Terry Harper’s first wrestling show at the Southern Indiana venue, I was a little taken aback when I got my first look at Freight Train. He didn’t move like other wrestlers. He didn’t fight like other wrestlers. A couple of casual fans standing near me turned their noses up and left the building to smoke a cigarette until the match was over. It’s a shame they did, because the longer I watched Freight Train do what he does best, the more intrigued I became.

If you’re not familiar with the name, Freight Train is one of the stars of Five Dollar Wrestling. He’s a native of Charlotte, North Carolina who has achieved a level of success most can only dream of. He’s overcome the odds that stack up against every wannabe wrestler and then some. He’s the subject of the inspirational documentary, “The Power of Freight Train.”

I mentioned Freight Train didn’t move like other wrestlers. Freight Train has mild autism spectrum disorder known as Aspergers Syndrome. One of the hallmarks of Aspergers is a singular focus on one or more key interests. For Charles Stevenson, the boy who grew up to become Freight Train, there were two things that drew his interest more than any other: trains and wrestling.

Rather than hinder Stevenson’s dream of becoming a wrestler, his condition actually helped him to achieve his dream. Stevenson refused to take no for an answer when men told him he couldn’t train. He refused to take no for an answer when people wouldn’t book him. He ignored the people who laughed at him. He was persistent; he never gave up. And when 5 Dollar Wrestling opened a door, he made that dream come true.

Packed with interviews with friends and fans like like Colt Cabana, Mad Man Pondo, Crazy Mary Dobson, and even the notoriously old school Rip Rogers, “The Power of Freight Train” is a beautiful story not only of Charles Stevenson, but all the people whose lives have been touched along the way, especially Freight Train’s good friend and mentor “Manscout” Jake Manning. It was Manning who gave Freight Train a chance with 5 Dollar Wrestling, and Manning, more than anyone else, has been inspired and transformed by his friendship with the gentle giant.

“The Power of Freight Train” is a story even non-wrestling fans can enjoy. It’s an inspirational tale of a man who refused to give up on a dream and the hearts he changed along the way.

“The Power of Freight Train” is available only on High Spots.

Can’t Spell WWE without I-N-D-Y

Dear WWE and NXT Fans:

I’d like to introduce you to a few people.

This is Aaron Williams, “The Baddest Man Alive.” Aaron had a great weekend because he just won the Pro Wrestling Blitz Heavyweight Champion.

These are my pals Eric Emanon and Thomas Brewington. They had a great weekend as well. They are now the New Phoenix Gemini Tag Team Champions.

And this is the King of Dayton and proud member of Ohio Is 4 Killers, Dave Crist. Dave had a great weekend too. He pinned John Wayne Murdoch clean to become the new IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion.

Why am I telling you about these gentlemen? Because I want you to know them. I want you to follow them. I want you to support them.

As a WWE fan, I know you are aware just how many independent wrestlers have become part of the world’s largest wrestling promotion. A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Cesaro all had stellar careers in the indies before making it to NXT and WWE. If you’re also following NXT, then you’re already following the rise of Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Cassius Ohno (aka Chris Hero), Ruby Riot (aka Heidi Lovelace) and the other indy “darlings” the WWE has snatched up recently.

I want you to know that the independent wrestling promotions that Gargano, Ciampa, Hero, Lovelace, and the others left behind are not dying off like the old territories the WWF killed in the 1980s. They are thriving. They are growing not only in popularity, but in quality. I want you to know this because I want you to become a fan.

Yes, it is true, the independent scene is full of green wrestlers, spot monkeys, and guys who only care about getting their s*** in, but there are many men and women and tag teams still working the independents who could easily fill any spot on the NXT or WWE roster right now.

Independent wrestling is growing. There are more promotions in more places than there have been in a generation. Your local promotion(s) may run monthly or weekly, which means you can see live wrestling far more often than you are now with the WWE.

True, the crowds and venues are smaller in the indies, but that also means tickets are more affordable, and your access to the wrestlers is greater. You’re closer to the action and at a much better price, and the heels can actually hear you when you call them names.

And here’s the best part: you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to meet your favorite stars. The T-shirts at the gimmick tables are half of what you’ll pay at a WWE show. Everyone is happy to shake your hand and take a selfie – except maybe Mr. Darius Carter.

I’m not telling you to give up the WWE. I enjoy the Network and NXT as much as any fan. But make no mistake: the WWE and NXT would not be what they are without the INDY scene that has come to be. I’m offering you the chance to see more live wrestling. I’m asking you to give guys like Aaron, Dave, Eric, and Thomas a chance. I want you to get out there and discover other guys like Matt Riddle, Ron Mathis, The Hitman for Hire Mr. Grim, Desmond Xavier, Zachary Wentz, Gary Jay, Chip Day, Murder One, Timmy Lou Retton, Matt Cross, Michael Elgin, Menace, Facade, Jake Crist, Sami Callahan, and Jimmy Rave. I want you to discover the other ladies who fueled the “women’s revolution,” like Kelly Klein, LuFisto, Su Yung, Samantha Heights, Leva Bates (remember Blue Pants?), Mickie Knuckles, Rachel Ellering, Taeler Hendrix, Candice LeRae, Veda Scott, Mia Yim, Allisin Kay, Jessicka Havok, and Jordynne Grace. I want you to discover the amazing tag teams packing houses across the country including the Hooligans, Viking War Party, War Machine, OI4K, and the Carnies. You can even find comedy wrestlers, guys like Colt Cabana, Space Monkey, and the notorious party animal, Joey Ryan.

There’s never been a better time to get into independent wrestling than now. Search a few of these names on YouTube. Find and follow them on Facebook or Twitter. Then find a promotion running in your area. I’m not asking you to trade one for the other. Just get out and support the superstars of tomorrow, today. They will not let you down.

Sincerely,

A converted, die-hard indy wrestling fan

AIW on Kick Out At Two!

One of the hottest promotions in the country is Absolute Intense Wrestling out of Cleveland, Ohio. AIW’s roster reads like a “Who’s Who” of the independent ranks, with names like Josh Prohibition, Alex Daniels, Matt Cross, Raymond Rowe, Britt Baker, Eddie Kingston, and the Carnies. They recently hosted the hugely successful Double Dare tag team tournament, and they’re quickly becoming a must-see destination for die hard indy fans.

This week Kick Out at Two gives you a peek behind the curtain at AIW with special guest Chandler Biggins, one of the owners of AIW. Download this week’s episode and catch up on what you’ve missed when you follow the Kick Out at Two Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud.

Twenty Years of Doing It by Their Rules

There’s nothing in the world like an “IWA Mid-South Rules” match. That’s because in an IWA Mid-South Rules match, there are no rules. There’s no disqualifications, and falls count anywhere. And if you see the action coming your way, grab your stuff and get OUT of the way.

IWA Mid-South has been doing it their way for a long, long time. They’ve seen dozens of would-be competition come and go in that time. They’ve been chased out of buildings and entire states. The haters can keep on hating because this Thursday, IWA Mid-South will celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Ian Rotten has booked a stellar line up in celebration of the milestone anniversary. There’s no flier online yet, but the line-up, care of IWA Mid South’s Facebook page, says all you need to know:

“Money” MATT CAGE vs “Knockout Artist” CHRIS HERO vs COLT “Boom Boom” CABANA

THE THREEJECTS (REED BENTLEY, JOHN WAYNE MURDOCH & NICK DEPP) & MARK WOLF take on TODD MORTON’s HANGMEN, DEREK NEAL & BULL PAIN

JJ GARRETT defends his IWA World Title against “The Wild Eyed Southern Boy” TRACY SMOTHERS

“Dangerous” DOUG GILBERT vs KONGO KONG

“Fight or Die” COLE RADRICK vs “Callihan Death Machine” SAMI CALLIHAN

4 WAY TAG MATCH: SAGE PHILIPS & TEDDY KING vs THE BROTHERHOOD (BROTHER REED & MICKEY MUSCLES) vs BOMB SHELTER (ZODIAK & JOSEPH SCHWARTZ) vs NVD (HY-ZAYA & SHANE MERCER)

RAM JAM vs ZACH GOWEN

LOSER LEAVES IWA: “Nasty” NATE CROSS w/ DAHLIA vs JC ROTTEN w/ TORI

20th ANNIVERSARY IWA RUMBLE! 2 competitors start, every minute another competitor enters the ring!

DIRTY DUTCH MANTEL is also scheduled to appear!

The show will be at Jammerz Roller Rink in Clarksville, Indiana on Thursday, October 6. First and second row seat holders get early admission at 5:30 PM for a Meet and Greet. Doors open at 6:45 with bell time at 7:30.

Tickets are $30 for first row, $25 for second row, $20 for general admission. Kids 13 and under are $15.

Contact Misty at BestMistyEVER@gmail.com to order tickets.

Congratulations to Ian and the amazing crew who have kept this Kentuckiana tradition going for two decades!

A Hard “Yes!” to Hear

As sad as it is to see Daniel Bryan make his retirement official, his “Yes!” to retirement means we will get to have him around a long time. Medicine and pro wrestling have come a long way, and we should all be thankful the WWE has become so hawkish about head injuries. Thanks to the work of Chris Nowinski and others, a man like Daniel Bryan can see the real danger to his life and make the wise choice. No, we won’t see another Daniel Bryan Wrestlemania moment, but Daniel Bryan will be healthy enough to enjoy watching his kids grow up, and we will enjoy seeing his smile and hearing him share stories for many years to come.

Of course if you really, really want to see more Daniel Bryan, you can. Any of his greatest moments are enshrined on the WWE Network, and there are many more you can discover courtesy of Ring of Honor, CHIKARA Pro Wrestling, The Wrestling Road Diaries documentary, and others. Do a Youtube search for Bryan Danielson or American Dragon, and see what you missed before Daniel Bryan’s emergence on NXT.

Thank you, Daniel Bryan, for the incredible impact you had on the business. See you down the road.

The Ted Petty Invitational Returns

The rumors you’ve heard are true.

Yes, IWA Mid-South is hardcore.

Yes, the fans live for blood and gore.

Yes, they were so violent back in the 90s, they were kicked out of Kentucky.

But if you think IWA Mid-South is all blood and guts, think again.

This Friday, IWA Mid-South is resurrecting the “other” tournament it is famous for, the Ted Petty Invitational. The tournament began in 2000 as a showcase for the best technical wrestlers in the world, and in 2002, it was named in memory of Ted Petty.

If you’ve never heard of Ted Petty or the tournament that bears his name, here’s a look at the participants from the 2002 edition.

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Pictured in this photo: Christopher Daniels, Jimmy Rave, Matt Stryker, Colt Cabana, Spyder Nate Webb, “Sick” Nick Mondo, M-Dogg 20 (Matt Cross), AJ Styles, Ace Steel, Chris Hero, BJ Whitmer, Tarek the Great and CM Punk.

Not pictured: “All That” Matt Murphy, “Kamikaze” Ken Anderson & Super Dragon.

Other past participants include Nova, Mike Quackenbush, Jerry Lynn, Chris Sabin, Sonjay Dutt, Nigel McGuinness, Samoa Joe, Matt Sydal, Hallowicked, Kevin Owens, Delirious, Davey Richards, Ricochet, Low Ki, Tracy Smothers, and Sami Callihan.

Not enough name dropping for you? How about Sara Del Ray (the woman behind NXT’s Four Horsewomen), Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, and Daniel Bryan?

Yes, IWA is hardcore, but it is much, much more than that.

Some of the IWA Mid-South faithful say this year may prove to be the best tournament ever. With names like Kongo Kong, Chris Hero, Reed Bentley, Hy Zaya, Shane Mercer, and Masada on the card, they may be right.

The action kicks off Friday night at the Colgate Gym in Clarksville, Indiana. Click here to go to the event page for ticket information. 

You’re welcome.

Black Friday for Wrestling Fans Part 3 – Pro Wrestling Tees

Pro Wrestling Tees is one of the best places online to support independent wrestling, featuring exclusive merchandise from Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, the Road Warriors, Scott Hall, Vader, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and CM Punk. You can also show your love for independent stars like Madman Pondo, Crazy Mary Dobson, Colt Cabana, Chris Hero, The Young Bucks, and many more.

If you’ve got an indy wrestling fan on your list, Pro Wrestling Tees has a huge Black Friday offer beginning tomorrow. Save 20% on everything when you use the promo code BLACKFRIDAY, and if you spend over $100 you get an exclusive Andre the Giant T-shirt.

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Why you should read Eat Sleep Wrestle

esw coverMany wrestling fans are enjoying the indy invasion that has quietly taken over the WWE. They reveled in the triumphs of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. They’re loving the incredible matches put on by Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, and Luke Harper, just to name a few. “Finally,” they say, “Finally, the indies are taking over the WWE.”

Let’s be honest: most of those fans, even the most ardent, were not watching the indies when CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Kevin Steen, Tyler Black, Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, and Brodie Lee were working the warehouses, the high school gyms, and the roller rinks that have become today’s indy wrestling arenas. Most of those fans would be hard pressed to even match the WWE names with the indie names.

That’s a shame, because even with so much talent in the WWE, there’s still more where it came from in the indies. There are names people know or have heard of like Colt Cabana, Chris Hero, and Adam Cole. There are veterans like Sabu, Tracy Smothers, Apollo, LuFisto, and Mad Man Pondo. And there are plenty more they need to hear: Jamin Olivencia, Aaron Williams, Crazy Mary Dobson, the Lovely Lylah, Ron Mathis, Marc Hauss, Eric Emanon, Hy Zaya, and Tyson Dux.

Eat Sleep Wrestle is an introduction to today’s indie wrestling world. It’s a look at the lives of those who truly eat, sleep, and breathe the business. From those just starting out to those working multiple jobs to those who live from show to show, it’s the story of the men and women keeping indie wrestling alive.

I’ve just dropped the price on the book to $9.99. Kindle readers can get it for $3.99. If you’re enjoying what you see on WWE but have never bothered to check out what’s happening on the indie scene near you, this is the kick in the pants you need. Not only that, it’s the kick in the pants every dreamer needs. These stories will do more than make you a fan. They will inspire you to pursue your own dreams.

Get Eat Sleep Wrestle now on Amazon.com!

The Internet and the Indy Wrestling Revival

esw coverListening to Jeff Jarrett on this week’s Talk is Jericho and he brings up an interesting point about the uptick in quality in independent wrestling.

In the old territory days, the young guys were made to watch every single match. Dutch Mantell forced a young Steve Austin to sit in a chair, watch every match on the card every night, and learn. He did, and look where it got him.

In the heyday of IWA Mid-South, when the old territories were just a memory, CM Punk, Chris Hero, Colt Cabana, and Dave Prazak would stay up all night raiding Ian Rotten’s video tape collection and watching wrestling from around the world. Prazak founded Shimmer. Cabana and Hero are two of the few making big bucks outside the WWE. Punk became a legend.

Today’s young stars grew up with Internet and YouTube. They have access to wrestling from every era, every federation, every continent, and every style. It’s Ian Rotten’s old video library times a million.

I am not excusing those who never get in the ring to train and call themselves “professional wrestlers.” There’s no excuse for not learning all you can, inside the ring and out, from veterans who know the business. There are some things you can’t learn from video, but there’s a whole lot you can learn just by watching.

There’s a reason why Stone Cold became Stone Cold. It’s the same reason Punk became Punk. It’s one of the reasons today’s indies are a far cry from the indies of fifteen years ago.

Just one of many reasons we are seeing a revival in independent wrestling.

Cora and Buddy

We seem to lose wrestling stars in waves. What began two weeks ago with Dusty Rhodes has sadly taken two more from us.

Cora Combs is not as well known to today’s wrestling fans, but the ladies who work the squared circle today owe her as much a debt as Mildred Burke and the Fabulous Moolah. Combs entered the business in 1949 after Nick Gulas introduced her to Burke’s husband, manager, and trainer, Billy Wolfe. When Wolfe and Burke split, Combs went with Burke and saw her career take off. She had notable feuds with Burke, Moolah, Mae Young, June Byers, Nell Stewart, Ida May Martinez, and Gladys Gillman among others and was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame. Combs died at age 92.

“Nature Boy” Buddy Landel was only 53 years old. The Knoxville, Tennessee native had runs with WCW and Mid-Atlantic but is best known for his time with Jim Cornette’s Smokey Mountain Wrestling. Landel was an outspoken figure in there locker room, never one to hide his feelings or mince words. Colt Cabana did a wonderful interview with him a few months back on the Art of Wrestling Podcast.