Tagged in: louisville

Louisville Wrestling Talk with the WBKI FANatic

Friday I had the chance to talk about the new book Louisville’s Greatest Show with George Bueller, host of the WBKI FANatic on Facebook Live. George is a walking encyclopedia of all things comic books and – as it turns out – pro wrestling. If you’re into the comic book shows on the WB, this is worth liking and following every week. And if our conversation about the book intrigues you, please head over to Amazon.com to pick it up for yourself.

WBKI Fanatic Chat

Posted by WBKI – Louisville's CW on Friday, April 14, 2017

On Sale Tomorrow!

Louisville’s Greatest show is a labor of love that is truly four years in the making. When I started digging deep into Louisville’s rich wrestling history for Bluegrass Brawlers, I had no trouble finding stories about the OVW and Memphis years, but it was the “golden age” from 1935-1957 that fascinated me most. While I barely scratched the surface when I wrote Bluegrass Brawlers, Louisville’s Greatest Show will give you a year by year account of the Allen Athletic Club – the wrestlers, the shows, and the city that hosted them both.

In addition to the year by year account of the promotion and owners Heywood Allen and Francis S. McDonogh, Louisville’s Greatest Show also features more than twenty profiles of local and national wrestling stars, including:

Indiana University wrestling coach Billy Thom

Lord Patrick Lansdowne

Blacksmith Pedigo

Hall of Fame Hydroplane racer Wild Bill Cantrell

Kid Scotty Williams

Hans Schnabel

Kentucky Athletic Commissioner Johnson S. Mattingly

The legendary Wild Bill Longson

“Cousin Alviry” Elvira Snodgrass

Fred Blassie, before he was “classy”

Promoter’s wife Betty McDonogh

Chicago Bears star Fred Davis

Sgt. Buck Moore of the Louisville Police

Colonel Stu Gibson

WHAS sports director Jimmy Finegan

Ed “Strangler” Lewis

Mel Meiners

“The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell

Louisville police detective and ref Ellis Joseph

Ring announcer George Lewis

Wee Willie Davis

Louisville’s Greatest Show is the story of a city that loved wrestling and the men and women who made wrestling a Tuesday night tradition. The book is filled with never-before-published photos and stories you won’t find anywhere else.

Louisville’s Greatest Show will be available on Amazon.com and other online retailers this weekend!

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!”

Louisville’s Greatest Show – Coming Soon!

Coming Soon!!

For 22 years, the Allen Athletic Club’s weekly wrestling show at the Columbia Gym was the place to be on Tuesday night. Promoters Heywood Allen and his successors Francis and Betty McDonogh overcame the Great Depression, the 1937 flood, a World War, and a “crooked” athletic commissioner to bring the best of the golden age of wrestling to Louisville.

Now for the first time, author John Cosper (Bluegrass Brawlers) presents the full story of “That Gang of Allen’s,” the wrestlers, referees, announcers, and others who made Tuesday Louisville’s favorite night of the week. This is the story of the true golden age of wrestling, when men and women wore their Sunday best to see hometown heroes like Blacksmith Pedigo, Kid Scotty Williams, Stu Gibson, Mel Meiners, Sgt. Buck Moore, and “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell mix it up with Lou Thesz, Gorgeous George, the French Angel, Buddy Rogers, Freddie Blassie, Johnny Valentine, Mildred Burke, Mae Young, Bobo Brazil, and Ginger the Wrestling Bear.

From mud matches to masked men; from Wild Bill Cantrell to Wild Bill Longson; from live TV to live alligators, the Allen Athletic Club was Louisville’s Greatest Show. This is the story of Louisville’s first great wrestling promotion and the families that made wrestling a vital part of the city they loved.

Louisville’s Greatest Show will be released in March!

Flair vs. Lawler on Louisville Television

The Great Brian Last from the 6:05 Superpodcast just posted an episode of Memphis wrestling featuring Ric Flair vs. Jerry Lawler on YouTube. What’s cool is this is a recording of the Louisville television feed from August 14, 1982, commercials included!

Click play below to get a glimpse of Louisville TV past. And be sure to listen and subscribe to the 6:05 Superpodcast.

Bob Evans: Do What They Can’t Do

Brutal Bob Evans continues to show why he is the Yoda of today’s independent wrestlers. Here are some thoughts he shared on Facebook today:

“There are those that think WWE is waging a war on the wrestling world.

That’s a mindset that will cripple you forever if you let it.

WWE is not evil. WWE is just WWE. You can survive and thrive outside of the worldwide company.

How? Do what they can’t do.

They can’t go to every small town in America. They can’t shake every hand, hug every fan, touch every life.

They try, but they can’t. Because they can’t be everywhere at once.

Collectively we can. We can compete doing what they can’t do and doing it better than ever.

We can reach out and be a part of our communities. We can bring in quality people. We can use good-hearted athletes with tons of potential.

Or we can just wrestle, suck the town dry, and move on. The carny lifestyle.

I prefer to learn from the mistakes of the past. We can be a viable, resilient, middle-class wrestling society that creates and evolves.

Or we can wait for WWE and the other national companies to tell us what to do. To dictate to us.

We can buy into reality any way we choose. I choose the reality of caring and fellowship.

Competition? Yes.
Hard work? Necessary.

But a spirit of fellowship is NEEDED.

Serve first.

Realize you CAN do this business well.

Don’t let anyone intimidate you.

You got this.

WE got this.

I love you.”

One thing I’ve learned about the wrestling promoters of the past is that they were community minded. They were active in their communities not simply as wrestling promoters but as part of the neighborhood. Louisville promoter Francis McDonogh and his wife Betty were very active in the city they loved. They ran multiple charity shows and hosted orphans, newspaper boys, and local sports teams. They reached out heavily to female fans and often drew more ladies than men. They participated in charity drives and civic events outside wrestling. They hosted parties and events in their home. They were at the Derby, concerts, and other sporting events. Wrestling wasn’t just business; it was family. It was community.

The WWE cannot be community the way you can. You can connect with the fans in ways they can’t. You can learn their names. You can be a part of their charities and their causes. You can make a difference.

An Update on Starmaker Bolin

bolin1Friends and fans and followers of Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin got a scare last night when his son Chris (aka “Catbox”) posted on Kenny’s Facebook page that his father was back in the ER. I’m happy to report that Kenny was sent home to continue resting and recovering.

Kenny recently had major surgery that doctors hope will help him get back to a healthier state. This is not the first complication he’s had as a result of the surgery, and he’s been under the knife at least once more that I know of to deal with some of these issues. There was some concern he might have had an infection, but the doctors found no sign of this before they sent him home.

If all goes well, Kenny will come out of all this lighter and fitter than he has been in years. No, he won’t be in ring shape, but the Starmaker’s days in the ring and beside the ring are done anyway. The goal is to get his weight down and get back to a healthier physique so that he can fulfill the number one item on his bucket list: to outlive Jim Cornette.

Long live the King!

 

OVW Celebrates 900 Episodes

ovw_logoTuesday night, the WWE will mark the 900th episode of Smackdown. Wednesday, Ohio Valley Wrestling will equal that mark with their 900th episode – the first ever broadcast in HD.

OVW has come a long way. Founded by Danny Davis as the Nightmare Wrestling Academy in Jeffersonville, OVW broke into the national wrestling consciousness when they were made the official training school for the WWE. When the fabled first class of OVW made its way to the main roster, wrestlers across the country began flocking to Louisville, knowing that OVW represented their best chance to make it to the big time.

The WWE banners are long gone, and the brief stint with TNA is now ancient history as well. Yet OVW today is as strong as ever, with a new generation taking the reigns in the ring as well as backstage.

It’s one thing for a multi-million dollar promotion to make it to 900 shows. It’s quite another for an independent promotion to reach the same milestone. It’s a tribute to the talent of the teachers, the quality of the program’s graduates, and the devotion of the OVW fans.

Congratulations goes to Danny Davis, Rip Rogers, Gilbert Corsey, Adam Revolver, Dean Hill, and everyone at OVW keeping the proud tradition alive. OVW is still one of the best places to learn your craft from master teachers. Their commitment to new technology is a signal that this small town promotion has hundreds more television programs in its future.

No More Rasslin’ on WHAS: 1953

A few months ago I posted a story here about how WHAS began broadcasting live wrestling from the Columbia Gym in Louisville. The show went on the air in the spring of 1950 and was abruptly canceled in September of 1953. Turns out there was a reason for the show’s sudden disappearance.

The weekly wrestling program presented by the Allen Athletic Club was the highest rated show in the Louisville television market, much to the delight of sponsor Fehr’s Brewery and much to the dismay of the so-called defenders of good taste. Those who longed to see the show yanked from the air got their wish thanks to an on-air interview not with a wrestler, but with a fan.

WHAS sports director Jimmy Finegan, who called the action during the weekly program, would interview fans about the action in between bouts. One week, a fan who was upset over the actions of a negligent referee became a little too colorful with his language, and as it turns out… that was that.

The Allen Athletic Club had a brief run on WAVE-TV a few years later when they ran on Friday nights, but it only lasted a few months. One of the aforementioned defenders of good taste wrote a scathing article for the Courier-Journal in 1961, celebrating the demise of professional wrestling on the local air waves so many years before. Little did he know that Memphis would come to town nine years later, making live and televised wrestling bigger than ever in the River City.

Incidentally, Fehr’s Beer is poised to make a comeback in the Louisville area just a few weeks from now. A recent post on their Facebook page promised that the first batch of Fehr’s XL, made from the original recipe, will be available shortly after Thanksgiving.

You can read the original story about wrestling on WHAS by clicking here.

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