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.

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.

The Return of Sami Callihan

Let’s get one thing straight, WWE marks: Solomon Crowe did not leave NXT. Sami Callihan went home.

I don’t know Sami personally, nor do I know the details of his leaving NXT. I can however assure you that NXT’s loss is the independent scene’s gain.

Sami brings name value to the indy shows he will wrestle in the near future thanks to his recent run with NXT, and that’s great. But for every guy like Sami who gets a shot at the WWE Performance Center, there are dozens putting their bodies on the line in warehouses and gymnasiums and arenas who keep being overlooked.

I don’t say that to demean Sami or anything he has accomplished. That’s a testament to the strength of the current indy wrestling scene.

Not every promotion is equal, but there are more than enough good promotions and good wrestlers out there that you can find one near you that will give you far more bang for your buck than a WWE live event.

If you enjoyed Sami in NXT, go support him when he comes to your town. Be on the look out for other hard working guys like Tim Donst (who beat cancer this year) and Chris Hero (who wrestled over 3 house straight for charity). Check out the Indy Card Mafia, Aaron Williams, Tyson Dux, Mitchell Huff, Marc Hauss, Dash Sullivan, and Daniel Eads.

If you’re a fan of the NXT ladies, annoyed that Sasha Banks has hardly set foot in a ring since her call up, you’re really in luck. The indy women’s scene is booming. Leva Bates, aka Blue Pants, is out there, but she’s only the tip of the iceberg. Mary Elizabeth Monroe, Tessa Blanchard, Havok, LuFisto, Crazy Mary Dobson, and Heidi Lovelace are just a handful of the women who are a threat to steal the show any time they are booked.

It’s almost December. It’s dark outside before 6 pm, and it’s too cold to be outside. This is a great month to go out and see some live wrestling. Support the indy stars by buying a ticket. Get a DVD or a T-shirt for someone on you Christmas list, and buy direct from one of the wrestlers. That way you’re putting some Christmas money in their pocket as well.

Sami Callihan’s best days are not behind him. The indy scene is the future, and the men and women of the indies need our support.

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!

The Women’s Wrestling Revolution Continues

10535641_385023985019013_4645483892159298916_oLast week, it was the women – not the men – stole the show on a live NXT special broadcast on the WWE Network. It wasn’t the first time this has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last.

Insider reports say that Triple H and Stephanie are pleased with how the women have been presented on NXT and want to change how they are presented on the main WWE product, but Vince McMahon refuses to allow change to happen.

Meanwhile, in Jeffersonville, Indiana, Mad Man Pondo remains a few steps ahead of all three of them.

Following a sensational debut with the May Girl Fight show, Pondo’s Strictly Nsane Wrestling has announced a second show on July 7. Pondo’s bringing back some of the women who made this a can’t miss event including Crazy Mary Dobson, The Lovely Lylah, and Mary Elizabeth Monroe, and he’s added two more stars to the lineup: indie darling and grassroots Tough Enough hopeful LuFisto; and the most popular woman on WWE programming without a WWE contract, “Blue Pants” Leva Bates.

Decades ago, women like Mildred Burke were powerful and popular enough to actually headline a wrestling card. Women’s wrestling has been treated as a side show attraction for a long time, but indie fans are finally recognizing that the women of the squared circle are not filler. They are wrestlers to the core, and on any given night they can steal the show.

July 7 at the ArenA in Jeffersonville, they are the show!

Meet Mary Elizabeth Monroe

maryelizabethmonroeMary Elizabeth Monroe was the new face that night. She burst through the curtain to a Katy Perry song, waving and smiling like a homecoming queen. The crowd made her feel welcome, cheering as she climbed each corner to wave to the Premier Destination Wrestling regulars.

And then, Crazy Mary Dobson entered.

Mary Elizabeth Monroe didn’t do anything to warrant the boos or the “Mary’s gonna kill you!” chants. She hadn’t done anything remotely heelish from the moment she set foot in the arena. Crazy Mary was the local hero, and Monroe… well, she was just another victim brought in to face their hero. But when Monroe saw the crowd was against her, she turned on them – and her opponent. She snapped, letting her violent side out, playing dirty when the ref let her have a little leeway. She played to the crowd, but the friendliness was gone. They hated her, and she now hated them.

Monroe was the surprise winner that night, and yes, there was cheating involved. She also made sure no one in the arena would forget her name.

Ten years ago Mary Elizabeth Monroe was pursuing her dream. She was the lead singer in a band in her home town of Cincinnati. Monroe invited some friends to come watch her perform at an upcoming gig, one of her friends offered her a deal: “I’ll come to your concert if you come see me wrestle.”

Monroe’s friend was working at Heartland Wrestling, a former WWE developmental territory that had already churned out an impressive number of wrestlers. She never watched wrestling growing up because it wasn’t allowed in the house, but sitting beside her guitar player and best friend at her first wrestling show, Monroe suddenly realized this was what she wanted to do. “My friends thought it was funny. They didn’t realize how serious I was.”

Monroe began her training at HWA and will tell you her training has never truly stopped. She’s a student of the game and counts the legendary Les Thatcher as one of her chief teachers and mentors. Her work with Thatcher is evident in the ring. Not only does she know the moves, she knows when to use them and why to use them in that particular moment.

Monroe’s stock has spiked in recent days. After winning the 2015 Queen of the Ring tournament at Vicious Outcast Wrestling, she went from unranked to number one in this week’s Indy Power Rankings. Monroe is constantly in demand and can be seen all across the Midwest including AIW in Cleveland, Legends and Heroes in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and Ohio Valley Wrestling in Louisville, and of course… Girl Fight in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

In addition to wrestling, Mary is a model for Headlock Gear and a representative for Gerweck.Net. Although she has no home promotion at the moment, Monroe is part of a core group working with Les Thatcher at The Warehouse in Hamilton, Ohio to launch Christian Wrestling Association International, a new, family friendly promotion this summer.

“That’s very important to me,” says Monroe. “When I invite someone to bring their kids to a show, I like knowing that they’re not going to come and see something awful. They’re going to have fun and be entertained. We’ve got partnerships with the Autism Society of Cincinnati and other charities. It’s going to be great.”

Women’s wrestling in general looks poised for a major surge in the coming years. Between her ring skills, and her ability to work a crowd, and her relentless pursuit of excellence, Mary Elizabeth Monroe may very well end up at the vanguard of that revolution.

For more information on Christian Wrestling Association International, including shows and training classes, please visit www.christianwrestlingassociationinternational.com

Don’t Call Them Divas – This is Wrestling

girlfightWomen have been wrestling just as long as men. In fact the very first match featured in the book Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville is a mixed gender match that took place in 1880 when a circus wrestler named Ida Alb issued an open challenge to any man in Louisville for a 3 out of 5 falls contest, just to prove wrestling was not fake.

Sadly, women’s wrestling has never really been considered on equal footing with men’s. Even in today’s WWE, women’s matches are too often booked poorly, treated as restroom break matches before the main event.

It’s time you experience what women’s wrestling really is.
Tuesday Night May 12, Strictly Nsane Pro Wrestling and the ArenA in Jeffersonville, Indiana, presents Girl Fight, a night featuring some of the best independent wrestlers from across the country. You won’t see any guys on the bill. Tuesday night belongs strictly to the ladies.

TNA Knockout Havok will be in action against Hardcore Heather Owens. Crazy Mary Dobson, who just made her NXT debut last week, will do battle with Tessa Blanchard, daughter of the legendary Tully Blanchard. The Lovely Lylah, Mary Elizbeth Monroe, Samantha Heights, and others will also be in action.

This week I’ll be spotlighting a few of these talented wrestlers on the blog. Please understand, this is not a night of popcorn matches. This is professional wrestling at its best, featuring some of the hardest hitting, highest flying performers on the independent scene today.

Girl Fight will change your definition of “hit like a girl” in a very dramatic way.