Sorry, Mom, Kevin Owens Did the Right Thing

My kids are seven and nine. They are not allowed to watch wrestling, but because of their dad, they’ve met three major wrestling personalities from the 80s. All three of them were heels in their day; they could not have been nicer to my children. They shook hands, asked their names, took time to listen to them, gave autographs when asked, and share some stories. They were incredibly kind to my kids.

All three of these encounters happened away from the ring. Far away. Had they happened at ring side, my kids know these nice gentlemen would not have been nice at all. The men who smiled and took the time to get to know my kids would have insulted them in every way possible. They would have scowled at them, scared them, and made my kids hate them. Why? Because that’s their job.

The world needs more Kevin Owens. We need more wrestlers who don’t care about people’s feelings, even kids. We need fewer independent wrestlers playing the heel and then selling T-shirts and smiling for pictures. (Props to Aaron Williams, who I saw forego his usual gimmick table at a recent even where he was working heel.) We need more of the old Dutch Mantell “Don’t buy my photo and rip it up in front of me,” like the time the Lovely Lylah sold a bunch of cake pops for charity by saying, “Don’t buy these just to throw them at me during my match!” We need men and women willing to live the heel life in the ring, in the arena, and yes, even on social media.

We don’t need Triple H comforting kids at ringside after playing the heel. We need more Kevin Owens.

New Hope for Louisville Gardens?

1101130843There’s a lot of buzz about the Louisville Gardens and a “hidden treasure” I discovered when working on Bluegrass Brawlers.

The treasure is a Kilgen pipe organ installed just above the stage area inside the Gardens. The pipe organ is also a one man band, with percussion and brass instruments incorporated into its workings. It’s a priceless treasure that, until recently, was in danger of being lost forever due to neglect of the building.

This week, both the Courier-Journal and WFPL radio ran stories about the building, the organ, and an effort to save them both. Click on the hyperlinks to read what they had to say.

Originally built as the Jefferson County Armory, the Louisville Gardens began hosting pro wrestling in 1913. Ed “Strangler” Lewis was one of the very first to main event inside the building. He was followed by a host of world champions and trail blazers including Charlie Cutler, Americus, Stanislaus Zbyszko, Wladek Zbyszko, Joe Stecher, Orville Brown, Bill Longson, Lou Thesz, Mildred Burke, Buddy Rogers, The Sheik, Fritz Von Erich, and Bobo Brazil.

During the Memphis years it was home to Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee, Dutch Mantell, Handsome Jimmy Valiant, Jimmy Hart, Jim Cornette, and the Fabulous Ones. Louisville Gardens also hosted many of the WWE’s biggest legends before they were stars, some with Memphis and others with OVW. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, The Undertaker, Kane, Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock, John Cena, Batista, Brock Lesnar, and Randy Orton all worked the Gardens on their way to the top.

Andre the Giant wrestled there. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan had his in-ring debut in the building. Bret Hart had his last successful WWF title defense before the Montreal Screwjob in the building. That same show was also Brian Pillman’s final PPV appearance before he passed away.

And yes, believe it or not, Andy Kaufman stepped into the Memphis ring inside Louisville Gardens.

Louisville Gardens is a beautiful building with an incredible history. The building and the organ are treasures that deserve to be preserved and enjoyed for years to come. Here’s hoping the Gardens has not seen the last wrestling match inside those hallowed halls.

Click here to view some photos of the organ on the Bluegrass Brawlers Facebook page. And please give the page a like while you are there!

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.

The Bolin Bio Is Here!

11416754_1440107446310822_276061912_oOne of the most enjoyable interviews I did for Bluegrass Brawlers was with Kenny Bolin. You may not have heard the name if you’re not familiar with Louisville wrestling, but you have Kenny to thank for launching the careers of many of today’s biggest WWE Superstars. He managed dozens of WWE hopefuls in the decade when the WWE used Ohio Valley Wrestling as its training ground, and all of them went on to get a shot at the WWE – not the least of which was John Cena!

Kenny’s story is one of those wrestling tales that has to be heard to believed, and even after you hear it, you won’t believe it. I can tell you with absolute confidence this book is mostly true, but good luck sorting what’s what. The stories that are 100% true are easily the least believable in the book.

It’s been a pleasure getting to know Kenny as a friend and help him bring his story to life. You’ll hear Kenny’s story in his own words along with the words of Jim Cornette, Dutch Mantell, Jerry Lawler, Jerry Jarrett, JBL, Nova, Mark Henry, Damien Sandow, Dean Hill, and many more who crossed paths with the Louisville legend.

His book is available on Amazon.com, but why buy from them when you can order from the man himself and get it signed? Contact Kenny on his Facebook page to order your copy in one of three collectible covers today.

Bolin’s Bio Is Almost Here!

bolin1On July 4, fireworks will light the sky. Men and women will enjoy a cold one. Families will gather together to celebrate America… and the release of the long awaited Kenny Bolin autobiography, “I Probably Screwed You Too: The Mostly True Story of Kenny Starmaker Bolin.”

Kenny’s will be the most entertaining wrestling story you will read this year and one of the funniest you have ever picked up, and Kenny’s telling his tale with the help of a few friends. Now I know it’s not nice to name drop, but since we all know Kenny has no shame, here’s a quick list of people who contributed stories to this upcoming epic.

“The Prince” Christopher Bolin
“Crybaby” Chris Alexander
Bill Apter
Rick Brady
Mike “Nova” Bucci
Jim Cornette
Rico Costantino
Mark Cuban
Tim Dennison
Mark Henry
Dean Hill
Jerry Jarrett
Jim Kurnau
Jerry “The King” Lawler
John Bradshaw Layfield
“Dirty” Dutch Mantell
“The Sinister Minister” James Mitchell
Bishop Jason Sanderson
Terry Garvin Simms
Christian Skyfire
Al Snow
Aron “The Idol” Stevens (aka Damien Sandow)
Sylvester Terkay

The book will be available on Amazon.com, but the best and cheapest way to get it (believe it or not) is through the man himself. Contact him on Facebook to get your copy ordered as soon as they are available.