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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.

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Kyle Maverick: Rockstar on the Rise

Dayton, Ohio has one of the hottest independent wrestling scenes today. The crew at Rockstar Pro Wrestling run six or seven shows a month, and just as iron sharpens iron, the talented workers at Rockstar keep making one another better.

Kyle Maverick is a main stay at Rockstar Pro, a deep roster that includes DJ Hyde, Sami Callihan, Ron Mathis, Aaron Williams, and the Crist brothers. Billed from Lexington, Kentucky, Maverick grew up idolizing Bret Hart, Koko B. Ware, Jushin Lyger, Randy Savage, and Lance Storm. He began his professional wrestling training with Chris Hero. He later trained with DJ Hyde, Drew Gulak, and Sami Callihan at the CZW Dojo and currently works out with Dave Crist at Rockstar Pro. Maverick was also a successful MMA fighter with a 9-2 record and holds a black belt in Kyokushin Karate.

Maverick counts Sami Callihan, Davey Richards, ACH, Tracy Smothers, Matt Tremont, Dave and Jake Crist as some of his favorite opponents. He’s also proud of the fact that he was once hit by Al Snow with Head. His reputation in the ring has opened many doors for him, but its his character outside the ring that stands out most to one of his bosses.

“Kyle Maverick and I are brothers,” says Rick Brady, who runs D1W in Southern Indiana. “We rode many hours on the road together, and he is one of the few people I trust in this business. He worked his ass off to get D1W on it’s feet. He helped me make a lot of connections to a ton of talent and I am grateful to him for that.”

Maverick only has one title belt win to his credit, the Rockstar Pro Luchacore championship, but it’s only a matter of time before this talented singles and tag competitor adds to that list. “I think the sky is the limit, as long as he continues to work hard and listen to them Ohio guys. They seem to know what they are doing. I love him and wish nothing but the best for him.”

Indy wrestling cans can find Kyle on Facebook, on Twitter @thekylemaverick and on Instagram @thekylemaverick.