Posted on

Why I’m not going to NXT

I am an NXT fan. I have been since the second day I had the Network, the first time I saw the show. I rarely miss NXT. When I do, I watch it the next day, or later that evening. So why am I not going to see them when they come to Louisville?

Let’s do the math.

Floor seats for NXT are $79. “Cheap” seats are $44. “Cheap” seats at the older Broadbent Arena are more expensive for NXT than they were at the Yum! Center for WWE.

NXT is the hot ticket in wrestling these days, and with good reason. But do you know what that $44 will buy me? I do.

Three tickets to IWA Mid-South.

Four tickets to Pro Wrestling Freedom in Indiana.

Five tickets to UWA Throwdown or KDW.

Seven tickets to OVW’s Wednesday TV tapings.

No, it’s not apples to apples, but every one of the promotions I mentioned offers a different spin on the same product you’ll find at NXT. And for the price of one NXT ticket, you can check out all of the above and find a favorite local promotion.

I love NXT and will continue to enjoy NXT, but I also know the stars of NXT came from. Support indy wrestling wherever and whenever you can.

13423906_1094612033950682_2011829775110252787_n

13339732_10153756493297039_8613366952023362980_n

Posted on

A new day for Kentucky wrestling?

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin surprised the wrestling world yesterday when he announced the creation of a new governing body dedicated to expanding fight sports in the Commonwealth. The Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Authority (KBWA) will oversee boxing, wrestling, MMA, and other full-contact sports. The new website for the KBWA states the group’s purpose as follows:

“Our mission is to encourage the growth of professional boxing and wrestling in the Commonwealth, while protecting participants and spectators of the sports. We strive to improve the sports by thoughtful, reasonable and fair regulation and monitoring.”

Early reaction to the announcement was largely positive. One of the stated goals of the KBWA is to attract major wrestling events – i.e. WWE – back to Kentucky. WWE has not held a Raw taping in Louisville since 2010, and the last WWE pay-per-view held in Louisville was Judgement Day in 2000.

While the possibility of attracting a major WWE show is exciting, many are wondering what impact this new commission will have on independent wrestling. It’s no secret that Kentucky is one of the most restrictive states in the nation when it comes to regulating wrestling. Kentucky is one of the few states that governs wrestling as a legitimate sport, and the red tape involved with promoting and wrestling in Kentucky is staggering.

“The hardest challenge in getting licensed in Kentucky isn’t finding a venue,” says Rick Brady, owner of D1W. “It was putting up a $5000 bond to throw a show. Since I had insurance, I was never sure why was the bond necessary. Second, I had to fill out an application and wait for them to decide to even give me a hearing to get a license. Third, I had to go to the hearing, and even if I posted the $5000 bond, I was still not guaranteed they would approve me for a license.”

The Kentucky Athletic Commission is notoriously stingy about handing out licenses to promoters. Brady contends that the Commission will not allow two promotions to run in the same territory, much like the old days of the NWA, and no one is allowed to move in and compete with the licensed promoters.

Kentucky regulations are equally cumbersome for the wrestlers, and anyone who wants to work in the business. Anyone who steps on the other side of the barrier wall from the fans – wrestlers, managers, valets, ring announcers, time keepers, and more – is required to have a license, and everyone who has a license is required to pass a physical and be subject to random drug testing.

“There’s nothing random about the drug testing,” says Brady. “[The Athletic Commission] intrude in the locker room and disrupt the show by having guys randomly pee tested. There are no restrictions on this. They can test you 2 or 3 times a week, and they are very biased on who they select. One wrestler, who I will not name, refuses to wrestle in Kentucky because of the harassment he was receiving from the Athletic Commission. After being suspended in 2013, he cleaned up his life and was drug free to my knowledge. When he returned to Kentucky in 2015, he went through the application process and was granted a license. Then at every show he wrestled, he was forced to take a drug test. After doing this five weeks in a row, and passing every time, he never returned to Kentucky.”

If you’re curious why WWE, TNA, and other promotions generally give Kentucky a pass, it’s because these regulations and more (including one that states a match must stop immediately if there’s any blood) apply to every wrestling show in Kentucky.

“I think Louisville and Lexington are gonna push for relaxed rules on wrestling to get bigger events,” says PWF’s Jimmy Feltcher. “At the end of the day, money talks, and so will it be in this case.”

The new KBWA will likely cut away some of the red tape in order to incentivize the WWE to bring a major event to Louisville or Lexington, but the question remains: will the independent wrestlers and promoters see any relief? Wrestlers I’ve spoken to are largely optimistic, but the promoters remain skeptical.

“I’m curious to see committee treats the little guys because it seems like a play to bring WWE back to the city,” says UWA’s Eddie Allen. “WWE and TNA both left OVW as a development area. Plus Louisville Gardens becomes instantly attractive to a bigger fish group of people if red tape on events is cleared.”

“If Bevin wants to change it, change it,” says Brady. “Gut the current commission and let the new guys have a fresh opportunity to revitalize wrestling.”

It’s worth noting that the promoters I spoke with all run or have run promotions in Southern Indiana, immediately across the river from Louisville. At the present time, there are more than half a dozen promotions running in the Louisville area north of the river, including PWF, UWA, KDW, and one time Kentucky promotion IWA Mid-South. Odds are one or more of these groups would happily move South into Kentucky. We might even see wrestling return to the Gardens, if the stars align for the right investor and the right promoter.

It all depends on how the KBWA does it’s job. At the very least we may soon see some major WWE events come to town, bringing the money and visitors the governor hopes to attract. At best the KBWA has the opportunity to bring Kentucky into the 21st century, positioning wrestlers in the Commonwealth to join the independent wrestling revolution already sweeping the country.

Posted on

Pondo for President?

My local wrestling community is a house divided.

Some are fans of Kentuckiana Diehard Wrestling. They have had their issues lately, namely losing their booker and some of the veteran talent, but their fans remain fiercely loyal.

Some are fans of Underground Wrestling Alliance. They’ve had some issues as well, including a big blow up with their TV producer, but their talent and their fans remain steadfastly loyal.

There’s also the Furious Wrestling Society. They haven’t had any issues that I know of, but like the others, they have a galvanized fan base that loves what they do.

And then there’s IWA Mid-South. Ian Rotten just lost his building – again – because someone tried to shut him down – again. Folks, you’re never going to shut Ian down. He’s too stubborn, and he loves the business too much. He’s been kicked out of more buildings than the people trying to shut him down have worked. He will rise again, and his Kool-Aid drinking followers will be there.

Almost none of the above mentioned folks get along, especially in the consequence free realm of cyberspace. And yet for one night, members of all four promotions and their fans came together under one roof to see Girl Fight. They came. They supported the ladies. They coexisted, and no one got into a fight.

Mad Man Pondo is the man behind Girl Fight and the unlikely broker of one night of peace in Southern Indiana wrestling. If Pondo can bring peace to warring factions on a small scale, perhaps he could do the same for our country. Hillary, Donald, Bernie, Ted… no matter who your candidate is, they are only going to divide us further.

We need change.

We need unity.

Pondo for President, anyone?

Posted on

Rasslin’ lives at KDW

12227188_929057513815398_5586358663676153198_nThere’s something very unique about the way Kentuckiana Diehard Wrestling does their business. There’s nothing new about their brand of wrestling at all, but what they do is so old school, it’s a refreshing change for fans who have grown weary of “sports entertainment.”

KDW is a promotion run by men who grew up on rasslin’. Booker Vito Andretti grew up watching Memphis wrestling at Louisville Gardens in the late 70s, and he was trained by Danny Davis and Rip Rogers at OVW. “Many of the guys here were at OVW before WWE got there,” he says. “We came up with Dinsmore, Conway, Damaja, and (Doug) Basham. When Jim (Cornette) came in, he would make tapes of old matches with 5 pages of notes and hand them out to the WWE guys. They’d sniff at them and throw them in the trash, but we snatched them up and learned from them.”

The old school approach to wrestling means you won’t see young guys working hard to get all their spots into a match with reckless abandon. You’ll see Chris Alexander on the ring apron doing his best Robert Gibson impression, hyping up the crowd and pleading with the ref to stop the cheating while as his tag partner Dynamite Derrick takes a Ricky Morton-like beating in the ring. You’ll see Ravishing Rick Roberts go to work on Simon Sezz’s arm, taking advantage of an injury to weaken his opponent and beat him into submission. These are men who know how to structure a match, know how to engage the crowd, and know how to tell a story with their action. They have cowardly heels, prancing heels, and monster heels. They have scheming managers and fearless midgets. KDW is such a throwback, they even have a Moondog.

Many of the veterans at KDW are faces that old OVW fans will recognize. They were at OVW at the same time as Cena, Lesnar, and Orton. They still live by the lessons taught to them at OVW, and they are determined to pass them on to the next generation. Andretti teaches his proteges to go slower and work smarter, to pay attention to an audience, and to take care of their bodies. It’s wisdom he received from Danny Davis and Rip Rogers, wisdom they received from the generation before them.

KDW opened their doors in April of 2014. They started appropriately enough at the flea market in Memphis, Indiana before moving to the Arena in Jeffersonville this fall. They’ve been taping TV for months and are already on Roku’s Indie Wrestling Channel. Andretti recruited several former OVW students for their television production experience as well as their wrestling acumen, hoping to refine a show that is very much a work in progress. They just announced a permanent television announce team this week, and they have plans for more expansion in 2016.

KDW runs weekly in Jeffersonville at the Arena. Bell time is 5 pm, and tickets are only five dollars. You can also find them on the Indie Wrestling Channel, available free on Roku. If you’ve avoided indy wrestling, thinking it’s nothing but spot monkeys and young guys with no clue how to put a match together, KDW is a promotion that will not disappoint. It’s a veteran roster determined to keep the tradition of the past alive, now and in the future.

Posted on

KDW now streaming on Roku

Indie wrestling fans, you now have three local promotions producing television shows.

Kentuckiana Diehard Wrestling has made several big moves in recent weeks. KDW moved their weekly show from the Flea Market in Memphis, Indiana to the Arena in downtown Jeffersonville. Now, KDW is available to watch not only on Youtube, but the Indie Wrestling Channel on Roku. KDW features a seasoned group of veterans, many of whom will be familiar to long time OVW fans, as well as up and comers like Austin Bradley, who was featured in Eat Sleep Wrestle.

New Albany’s own UWA is already available on the Roku channel as well as Youtube. And lest we forget, Ohio Valley Wrestling holds the distinction of being the longest running weekly wrestling program in the country outside of Monday Night Raw.

D1W fans will also be interested to know that Rockstar Pro is available on the Indie Wrestling Channel, featuring Aaron Williams, Ron Mathis, Kyle Maverick, and the Crist brothers. You can also watch central Indiana promotion Emerge on the Roku channel.

And unlike the WWE Network and other major wrestling channels, the Indie Wrestling Channel is completely free. You can’t ask for an easier way to support indie wrestling.