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

Best of 2016 with Kelly Klein

Kelly Klein was one of the first wrestlers I ever profiled on this blog. Sine that time, when she was known as Mary Elizabeth Monroe, she has risen to become one of the top stars in ROH’s Women of Honor promotion. While the WWE continues to push the narrative that they invented the women’s wrestling revolution, it is women like Kelly Klein who have truly led the charge for women’s wrestling to earn equal respect with the men. She’s beautiful, she’s technically sound, and she has one of the sharpest wrestling minds in the world.

I asked Kelly to submit one of her favorite matches of the year a week or so ago. As fate would have it, the day I had scheduled to release her Best of 2016 installment, ROH came through and posted one of the matches she is most proud of. Here’s this week’s Women of Honor Wednesday match featuring Kelly Klein vs. ODB.

If you haven’t heard it, I strongly urge you to download Kelly’s episode of the Kick Out at Two Podcast. You can also check out two more favorite matches from Kelly, vs. Crazy Mary Dobson and vs. Sumie Sakai.

Remember Who Started The Revolution

11882266_1060478073985571_1326424868613623308_oThe WWE deserves credit for changing how they book women’s wrestling. Instead of looking solely at women’s bodies and looks, they are now signing women who have dedicated their lives to becoming wrestlers. Kimber Lee, Heidi Lovelace, and Evie continue a trend that will, in time, produce a women’s division that rivals the men’s in terms of star power and quality matches.

That said, we must be careful not to let the WWE rewrite the narrative of this women’s revolution. As much as I know they hope to take credit for changing the face of women’s wrestling, what’s happened to the WWE is an effect of what already happened at the independent level.

The women’s wrestling revolution belongs to the fans who demanded more. It belongs to every man and woman who ever attended Shimmer, Shine, Girl Fight, WSU, or any number of women’s shows. It belongs to the people who did not go to get popcorn when the women came out at their local indie show. It belongs to the people who chanted “Let’s go Heidi!” “Kim-ber Lee!” and my personal favorite, “Mary’s gonna kill you!” (WWE fans take note – this must follow Crazy Mary Dobson to the WWE!)

The revolution also belongs to the trainers who were committed to creating wrestlers and not divas, legends like Lance Storm, DJ Hyde, Danny Davis, the Dudley Boys, and others too numerous to mention. It belongs to promoters who gave women the chance to shine not only against one another, but against men. It belongs to the men and women who put women in the main event and put their most prestigious titles – including the Grand Championship of CHIKARA – on women who had earned it.

Most of all, it belongs to the women who chose wrestling not because it was a stepping stone to acting or modeling, but because they could not see themselves doing anything else. It belongs to the rising stars of the WWE and NXT. It belongs to women like Veda Scott, LuFisto, Mickie Knuckles, Kelly Klein, Tessa Blanchard, Randi West, Su Yung, Taeler Hendrix, Britt Baker, Rachael Ellering, Amazing Maria, Leva Bates, and Samantha Heights, who are grinding it out night after night in the hopes of filling the spots that have just opened at the top of the independent ranks. It belongs to the young women now taking their first bumps in the hopes of following a trail that now stretches further than it ever has in the business of wrestling.

The WWE deserves credit, not for changing women’s wrestling, but for recognizing that it has already changed. Yes, it is a revolution, but the revolutionaries are not in an office in Stanford. They’re in the ring, every night, putting their bodies on the line for a sport they love.

https://youtu.be/UVl-nqiQTuk

This week on Kick Out at Two

koatNo Men November is over, but the Kick Out at Two Podcast rolls on. This week, the gang catches up with a certain tag team from Jollyville. Individually they call themselves Nasty Russ and T Money, but together they are… well, let’s just say it’s not a WWE PG Era friendly moniker.

Righteous Jesse tells me that these two had a personal connection with a couple members of the KOAT crew. Should make for a fun listen, as always.

The Kick Out at Two Podcast is available on iTunes and Soundcloud, and as always, it’s free. If you’re new to the show, go back and check out some of the amazing interviews you’ve missed. Kelly Klein and Rachael Ellering are two recent must-hear guests, and I strongly recommend giving Mr. Grim the Hitman for Hire a listen as well.

Deanna Purrazzo on Kick Out at Two

No Men November concludes this week on the Kick Out at Two Podcast. This week it’s Deonna Purrazzo sharing her stories about life in the ring and on the road. Deanna is a regular with Women of Honor, Shimmer, and Queens of Combat among others and has also been seen on NXT.

Deonna will be on the card this weekend at WrestleCade, doing battle with fellow No Men November guests Veda Scott, Kelly Klein, Rachael Ellering, and one of my regional favorites: Samantha Heights. Fans who stick around the area through Sunday night can also catch her and more at one of the best all female promotions going: Queens of Combat.

Kick Out at Two can be found on iTunes and Soundcloud. Follow them on Twitter @KOATPodcast

No Guys November Kicks off on Kick Out at Two

maryelizabethmonroeWith over 50+ episodes released, the Kick Out at Two has yet to have a female guest. That changes in a big way starting this week in what Bonnaroo Brittany has declared to be, “No Guys November.”

Their first guest this month is a great one too. Kelly Klein was one of my first interviews here on Eat Sleep Wrestle, and she’s gone on to become one of the driving forces for ROH’s Women of Honor division.

Kelly is the total package: an athletic woman with a solid work ethic and a an incredible mind for the business. She’s been trained by the very best, and it shows in everything she does in the ring. Kelly is a true star and a name you need to know.

Listen to Kelly and the gang by downloading the podcast from iTunes of Soundcloud. And if you like the show, pick up a T-shirt. The new design (see below) is now available on Teespring.

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One year later… top ten posts

It’s been a year since I started this blog experiment, and it’s been exciting to see it grow. Here are the top ten posts from the past year:

The Black Panther Jim Mitchell1. The Black Panther Jim Mitchell – Still working on this book, though it’s taking longer than anticipated. Other opportunities and the difficulty of finding solid info on this forgotten trail blazer have made it difficult, but it’s still in the works. Happy to see this was the top post from year one.

2. Help Kenny Bolin Tell His Story – The story is now out and available from Amazon.com, with some help from fans who responded.

3. Everybody Loves Blue Pants – Interview with NXT’s most electric unsigned star. Thanks again to Mad Man Pondo for the hook up.

4. Who is Dean Hill? – Profile on OVW’s legendary announcer.

5. Khloe Belle Turns Hero – “Sista don’t care” in the ring, but outside the ring is another matter.

6. The Outlaw Returns – Profile on wrestler turned actor Ben Wood.

7. Is Shane Goode Enough? – Shane Mercer’s had a tough month, but he got some well deserved attention during the lead up to Tough Enough.

8. Meet the New Owner of HWA – A second life for a beloved promotion in Ohio promotion.

9. A New Hoosier Promotion EMERGEs – Profile on central Indiana’s EMERGE wrestling, available to watch on Roku’s Indie Wrestling Channel.

10. Meet Mary Elizabeth Monroe – She’s now going by Kelly Klein in Ring of Honor, and she’s one to watch in 2016.

Given that independent wrestling dominates the top ten, you can expect more of the same in 2016 from this blog. I also have several book projects in the works in addition to the Black Panther. I’ve been working with the daughter of Lord Leslie Carlton on his biography. I just started a book on women’s wrestling. And research continues on a new Louisville book focused on the Allen Athletic Club of the 1930s-1950s.

Thanks for reading.

Last minute entry is more than Tough Enough

maryelizabethmonroeImagine a woman with the classic, “Diva” look that Vince McMahon prefers who not only knows how to do wrestling holds and moves, but fully understands the psychology of working a match, reading the crowd, and doing things the way they used to. If you can’t imagine all that, you haven’t seen Mary Elizabeth Monroe.

Monroe trains with the legendary Les Thatcher in Cincinnati. Her wrestling pedigree shows in the ring. It was an honor to feature her a few weeks back prior to her Girl Fight debut, and I’m thrilled to see she’s decided to go after Tough Enough. Give her video a look, and please pass it on!