Tagged in: hall of fame

Dan Gable: A Wrestling Life

Before I left Iowa last week, I picked up a signed copy of Dan Gable’s book, A Wrestling Life. This is not simply one of the very best wrestling books I have ever read, it’s one of the most motivational and inspiring books I’ve ever read.

If the name Dan Gable is not familiar to you, I’ll bring you up to speed. Gable was an NCAA champion at Iowa State University and an Olympic gold medalist at the 1972 Winter Games. After winning gold, Gable retired from wrestling and went into coaching. He won fifteen NCAA team titles for the Iowa Hawkeyes, including an astonishing nine in a row during the 1980s. He is considered not only one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, but one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century.

Gable never stepped into world of pro wrestling, but that shouldn’t deter anyone – wrestling fan or no – from reading this book. A Wrestling Life is less an autobiography and more a collection of stories about Gable’s life. He discusses everything from losing his last match in college to winning gold to the shocking murder of his sister when he was only a teenager.

Gable is raw and honest at all turns, and his enthusiasm for wrestling and teaching shines through every chapter. Gable’s relentless drive to be the best at what he did will have you examining your own life and seeking the same kind of motivation to fulfill your own dreams.

A Wrestling Life was a quick and inspiring read, one I will probably revisit again soon. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

You can find A Wrestling Life by Dan Gable on Amazon.com, but may I strongly suggest you bypass Amazon and support the Dan Gable Museum and National Wrestling Hall of Fame by purchasing through their website instead.

Why You Need to Visit the National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Waterloo, Iowa might just be the center of the wrestling universe. The city lives and breathes wrestling. The President’s Hotel, now an apartment complex, was the birthplace of the National Wrestling Alliance, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg in Waterloo. This city loves wrestling at all stages: high school, college, Olympic, and pro. Waterloo is the hometown of Dan Gable, a man considered by many to be the greatest wrestler of all time and one of the greatest sportsmen of the 20th century. It is also home to the museum that bears Gable’s name: The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum.

The name is quite a mouthful, but the museum, which doesn’t look all that big from the outside, is just as jam packed as the name it bears. Located just up the street from the old President’s Hotel, the Dan Gable Museum is a shrine to wrestling’s past and present. The museum pays homage to the champions of NCAA wrestling and Olympic wrestling (including Indiana University’s Billy Thom) as well as the legends and icons of professional wrestling. It is dedicated to preserving the past while inspiring wrestlers at all levels for the future.

The pro wrestling wing of the museum features an impressive number of rare artifacts going back to the days of Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt. A trunk belonging to Gotch is on display in the gallery near Lou Thesz’s robe and title belt.

You’ll see robes belonging the multiple generations of the Henning family and the legendary Tiger Man, Joe Pesek. A marble statue with a fascinating backstory that once belonged to Thesz sits in the same gallery as does one of three death masks made of the original French Angel, Maurice Tillet. Modern fans will also find a spinner belt signed by John Cena, the singlet worn by Kurt Angle when he won a gold medal with a “broken freakin’ neck,” and the signature black and pink jacket once worn by Bret Hart.

The Dan Gable Museum has exhibit areas devoted to Olympic wrestling, NCAA wrestling, and the history of wrestling itself, starting with one wall dedicated to the legendary confrontation between Jacob and an angel in the book of Genesis. Other highlights included several posters for the Barnum and Bailey “At Show” wrestling exhibitions, some beautiful original art work paying tribute to the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame inductees, and this unique artifact from Brock Lesnar’s pre-WWE days as an NCAA champion in Minnesota.

The Dan Gable Museum is more than just a place to learn about wrestling. They also host clinics on a weekly basis in the Dan Gable Teaching Center, an area they plan to expand in the coming year. The museum has $1.7 million dollars in planned renovations now starting, including interactive exhibits in the pro wrestling wing. Museum director Kyle Klingman gave me a quick tour of the storage area where even more amazing wrestling artifacts are waiting their turn to be put on display in the galleries above.

If your summer plans are still flexible, here’s another reason to plan a quick trip to Waterloo: the museum is hosting their second annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony in less than two weeks. Special guests for the July 20-22 festivities include Jim Ross, Shelton Benjamin, Chuck Taylor, B. Brian Blair, American Alpha, Sabu, Paul Orndorff, Magnum T.A., Larry Henning, Baron von Raschke, J.J. Dillon, Gerry Briscoe, and the museum’s namesake himself, Dan Gable.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum is located in Waterloo, Iowa, and is open Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. For more information visit their website or find them on Facebook.

Yes, it’s off the beaten path. Yes, it’s out of the way. Yes, it’s absolutely worth the effort. I know I’ll be back again soon.

When I Met Ricky Morton

I never saw Ricky Morton wrestle live in his prime, but I got to meet him one night shortly after I released Bluegrass Brawlers. I was invited to do a book table at an Evolution Pro Wrestling show in Clarksville, Indiana, and the boys were kind enough to set me up at the same table as Ricky.

Ricky didn’t know who I was. He’s a legend in the business, and I was a rookie wrestling writer with one book to sell. He could have taken umbrage at having to share a table with me, but he could not have been nicer. He introduced himself, shook my hand, and asked about the book. He and his son both thumbed through it before the doors opened. He was ecstatic when he noticed a photo of his father was inside, refereeing a match with Jerry Lawler.

The doors opened, and the fans started to enter. Every time someone came up to meet Ricky, to buy an autograph, or take a photo, Ricky plugged my book. I sold ten that night, no doubt in part due to Ricky’s endorsement. He was a class act who could not have been kinder.

It was a thrill to see Ricky inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Friday night, all the mores because of our one meeting. He’s one of the good guys, and I’ll always be appreciative of the way he put me over that night.

Smoky Mountain Champ Chase Owens Wants Even More Gold

There’s a new trend with wrestling factions in the indies: they want all the gold. There are certain tag teams, for example, who are not content carrying just one set of belts for one company. The Hardys, the Young Bucks, they’re looking to start collections.

The lust for gold has certainly rubbed off on the Young Bucks’ Bullet Club stablemate Chase Owens. Owens already has two belts around his waist: the SWF Heavyweight Title and the Smoky Mountain Southeastern Heavyweight Title. On Friday, March 10, he will defend the  Smoky Mountain Title against “Money” Matt Cage.

“My goal is to be the best,” says Owens. “To do that I have to face the best. It’s like the old saying goes, ‘iron sharpens iron.’ With that being said, I hope Matt is preparing hard because I know I am and I want the best competition I can get.”

Owens is marking his tenth year in the business in 2017. It’s an exciting time for “The Crown Jewel” and his mentor, Ricky Morton of the Rock N Roll Express, who is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this April.

“Training Ricky was amazing. Being able to sit in the car and listen to stories and to learn on the go from one of the greatest professional wrestlers is one of the main reasons I’ve been able to achieve so much.”

Owens is more than ready to defend his title at the Arena in Jeffersonville, and if he has anything to say about it, he’ll be back for more gold in the near future. “My goal for 2017 is to collect as many championships as possible. Which reminds me, I still have that PWF title in my sights.”

Front row seating is already nearly sold out for Pro Wrestling Freedom: Deception, March 10 at the Arena in Jeffersonville. For event and ticket information, visit the Facebook event page.

A New Era in the Indies

In the days before the NWA assumed control over pro wrestling, it was not uncommon for champions to carry and defend their titles from territory to territory. It was also not uncommon for promoters to attempt and double-cross those champions, sending a shooter into the ring to try and take that title by force. In those days, a wise promoter made sure he had a man who could defend himself holding that belt at all times. Nothing worse than sending your champion into another territory on a handshake deal, only to have him come home disgraced – and empty-handed.

In December of 2016 Mr. Darius Carter made it known that he intended to defend his newly won Tier 1 Wrestling title everywhere he could, around the US and even around the world. he’s not alone. New alliances and new handshake deals are making possible the kinds of matches that haven’t been seen in decades.

Louisville area fans will get their chance to see such a match in two weeks, when Chase Owens brings the Smoky Mountain Southeastern Heavyweight Championship against Matt Cage on March 10 at Pro Wrestling Freedom: Deception in Jeffersonville. One would hope these two competitors will do battle in a manner worthy of such a title, but in the pro wrestling business… you never can tell.

It’s a new era in independent wrestling. More and more of these cross-promotional title matches are taking place. They more they get booked, the more likely someone, somewhere will attempt to pull a screw job.

What’s old is new again in pro wrestling. As a new WWE Hall of Famer once said, “That’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing!”

Fact Check: Presidents and Wrestling

Many fans are posting that Donald Trump is the first American president who is also a member of the WWE Hall of Fame.

This is true.

However, Donald Trump is NOT the only president elected to a professional wrestling hall of fame, nor was he the first. That honor belongs to our 16th president Abraham Lincoln who was an actual wrestler.

Wrestling was not the same in Lincoln’s day as it is in ours. It was still (most likely) a very legitimate sport. Given that Lincoln allegedly only lost once in 300 matches, it’s also very likely Lincoln was a shooter – and a darn good one.

He also would have had no trouble taking Trump in a match, especially with those weak punches he dropped on Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania XXIII.

For more on Lincoln’s prowess as a professional wrestler, click here to read an earlier post I wrote on Lincoln.

And please, save your partisan politics for another website. Comments are closed below anyway, and this post was not intended to be a statement one way or the other on the latest American president with connections to pro wrestling.

How to Become a Legend

ASW is running a show tonight in Madison, WV. It’s a star-studded event featuring the Rock N Roll Express and “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart.

Hart is a legend by anyone’s definition. He’s one of the greatest managers of all time and a Hall of Famer. That makes what he did the other day so remarkable.

Jimmy Hart called promoter Gary Damron a few days before the show and asked what time he needed to be there – to help set up the ring! “Not that we are gonna allow that to happen,” said Damron on his Facebook page, “but just to show what a true heart for the business he has and also to say if he feels he can help setup a ring than anyone should!”

Legends lead by example. Legends never forget where they came from. Legends are never too big to help set up the ring.

Whatever your passion or pursuit in life, take a lesson from a legend. Be humble, remember your roots, and never be too “important” to help set up the ring.

The Pro Wrestling Iowa Podcast

Iowa is the high school wrestling capital of the world. Travel to Iowa in the middle of winter and you’ll find arenas packed with fans watching high school grapplers compete in the world’s second oldest sport.

Iowa is home to the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, and Des Moines was the home of legendary promoter Pinkie George and the birthplace of the National Wrestling Alliance. Iowa holds a central place in the history of professional wrestling, so it should come as no surprise that Iowa is home to one of the best commentary podcasts on pro wrestling.

The Pro Wrestling Iowa Podcast is a weekly program covering the national wrestling promotions as well as the local independent scene. Each week they discuss the current storylines on WWE, current events involving professional wrestlers and promotions, and independents wrestling in the Des Moines area and beyond.

This is not a rambling, ranting program made up of old timers lamenting how things used to be. This is solid, insightful discussion about what’s happening on TV and on the local scene in Des Moines from guys who know their stuff. Brad LaFratte, Dustin Smothers, and Kevin Wilder are true wrestling enthusiasts who bring a wide range of experiences and knowledge to the program as well as the Pro Wrestling Iowa website. New contributor Darnell Mitchell brings a fresh take to the program as well as a huge passion for women’s wrestling.

If you’re in or near the Des Moines area and call yourself a wrestling fan, Pro Wrestling Iowa is a must-add to your iTunes podcast subscription, but fans outside the Midwest should give it a listen as well. The Pro Wrestling Iowa team consistently gives great insight on the WWE, and independent wrestling enthusiasts will enjoy discovering what’s happening at 3X Wrestling, Impact Pro Wrestling, and others in the region.

Pro Wrestling Iowa can be heard on iTunes. You can also follow them on Twitter and read more on their website.