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Dillinger is a Dangerous Man

12933098_1025587454178766_7331987619498914413_nI first saw the man known as Drew Dillinger when he was training with Mitchell Huff under the watchful eye of Apollo Garvin. He was a big guy, and he didn’t have a trim, athletic physique, but even at that early state, he was surprisingly athletic. As he worked a match with Huff, I could see an intensity in his eyes, a determination to prove to himself and all watching that he belonged in the ring.

Time has proven that impression true. Dillinger came into his own as a member of Southern Indiana’s UWA promotion, and after a brief injury hiatus, he is now back with NWA Supreme. Dillinger is no longer a young man with something to prove. He’s a monster, a quick, agile, powerful wrestler with a hard-hitting style.

Being in the ring was a life-long dream for Dillinger, going back to the second grade. “I wanted to be on the stage. I wanted to suplex people like Angle and Benoit did. I wanted to chokeslam people like Kane. I wanted to be a larger than life character that was feared so much I was respected for it like Undertaker.”

After training with Apollo, Dillinger continued his schooling by attending seminars with Rhyno, Jerry Lynn, Tracy Smothers, Bill Dundee, and Tito Santana. Over time, he began to adopt a ring persona as dark as his heroes, Kane and the Undertaker.

“Drew Dillinger is literally just me, with no filter and the volume and intensity cranked to 11. There have been small tweaks to my presentation and in ring style every now and then to try and stay fresh and always have something new to bring to the table, but when I step through those ropes, I get to drop all of my professional and social filters and behaviors, and, hell I’ll admit it, drop my insecurities, and just be my self and actually have some fun.”

Dillinger’s career was sidetracked for a few months by an injury, but he learned some hard lessons while waiting to return. “I learned the cold hard truth that the show must go on. The business doesn’t owe anyone anything, and it waits for no one. I watched people I considered close friends fade away slowly but surely because I was no longer in the locker room. But it is nice that most of them bring truth to the saying that close friends are always there even if you don’t talk regularly. We don’t reach out often, but we’re there for each other, and as real as it gets with each other to this day.”

Dillinger has had a number of favorite matches with big names as well as the close friends who have come up with him. “I think the matches I remember enjoying the most while in the ring would be, my match with Rob Conway, a match with Kevin Lee Davidson, my last man standing match with Waffle, a bull rope match out in Madison, Indiana, and last but far from least, my knock out only, loser leaves town match with Matt Atreya. We made a huge statement that night.”

Dillinger cites the Undertaker as his dream match, a dream he admits will never likely see the light of day given where Taker is in his career. For now, he’s got his sights set on making a name for himself so he can one day work at Full Sail University. “My dream is to lock horns with the best of the best in NXT. I want to get to the cutting edge of wrestling today, and from where I’m sitting, NXT looks like the main big goal. The next few years look really bright for me, and I’m going to conquer every obstacle thrown at me.”

Dillinger can be found wrestling for NWA Supreme in Madison, Indiana weekly, and he will soon be on the roster with another Southern Indiana institution: IWA Mid-South. You can follow him on his Facebook page to learn more and contact him for bookings.

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This week at OVW: Man of Tomorrow vs. The Chosen One

When was the last time you went to OVW? This week, the promotion that groomed the top WWE stars of the last decade has a must-see main event.

Mitchell Huff is a former OVW student turned trainer featured in the book, Eat Sleep Wrestle. After taking a few years off, he returned a few years ago and took the Midwestern indy scene by storm. He’s become a star at OVW and leads his own training group every Monday at The Arena in Jeffersonville.

His opponent is Daniel Eads, the Man of Tomorrow. Eads not only has the look of a superstar (not to mention Superman), he recently caught the eye of former OVW manager Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin. Kenny is not an easy man to impress, but the Starmaker saw a potential superstar in the young wrestler.

OVW still bills itself as the place to see the Superstars of Tomorrow today, and that’s certainly the case with these two. Whether you’re a regular at Davis Arena or haven’t been there since the WWE banners came down, Mitchell Huff and Daniel Eads is a match up worth seeing.

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OVW is located at 4400 Shepherdsville Road in Louisville. Bell time for the weekly TV taping on Wednesday night is 7:30 PM.

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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.

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Miss a week, miss a lot

esw coverIf you miss a week of wrestling in Louisville, you miss a lot!

While I was off enjoying a family vacation in D.C., Mitchell Hull won the OVW TV title. Mitchell was just getting back into the business when I interviewed him for Eat Sleep Wrestle in the summer of 2014. Looks like he’s well on his way to making a name for himself in the business.

Not only did Mitch win gold, but Aaron Williams, who is on the cover of the same book, won the Rockstar Pro Wrestling tag belts with Jake Crist in Dayton. These two are as talented a tag team as you’ll find anywhere in the indies and a must-see if they’re on the card.

Then Friday night brought two more surprises at the IWA Mid-South 19th anniversary show. After announcing the Headbangers had dropped out of the show earlier in the week, Ian Rotten surprised the fans by bringing in former WWE star Simon Dean (aka Super Nova of the BWO) and IWA Mid-South legend Chris Hero. Then Reed Bentley (another Eat Sleep Wrestle talent) capped the night by winning the IWA Mid-South world championship, snatching the title away from newly crowned champ John Wayne Murdoch.

For those counting, that’s three stars from Eat Sleep Wrestle winning gold last week.

This Wednesday, OVW is taping television in Louisville and Rockstar Pro is doing the same in Dayton. Pro Wrestling Grind in Jeffersonville has Rhyno coming in for a show at the Arena Friday, and IWA is running a benefit for IWA-MS original Mitch Page the same night.

And oh yeah, Chikara is coming to Jeffersonville October 24.

It’s a great time to be a fan of wrestling, especially here in the Midwest.

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While you were watching Raw…

I saw all the video clips on Facebook last night and I’m looking forward to watching Raw. I don’t have cable, so I rely on Hulu to keep me up to date the day after, and only rarely do I regret not being able to watch live.

I wasn’t the only one who missed the show last night. I stopped by The Arena in Jeffersonville, Indiana last night and had the honor to watch Mitchell Huff running a handful of guys and one lady through their paces. The Grindhouse School, as it is now known, is in session every Monday. They don’t get together to gawk at the TV and dream. They are giving up family time and making other sacrifices so that they can help carry on a tradition more than a century old.

I can’t say this enough. If you’re one of the ones complaining that the WWE doesn’t get it; if you’re one of the ones who loves seeing those “indy” guys on WWE; if you’re one who is upset that the Diva’s Revolution is dying before it gets a chance to thrive; you are missing out if you don’t go out and see some live indy wrestling for yourself.

People will shell out $20, $30, even $50 for autographs from legends and stars who no longer wrestle. They’ll spend $30 and more on shirts and $50 on video games. But they won’t spend $5 to go watch an indy show.

Stop making excuses. Put your money where your mouth is. Go out, discover, and support indy wrestling. No, it’s not the same as what you see on TV. But no matter who is in the ring, TV can never give you the same rush as watching it live.

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Victoria Anne – Is she Tough Enough?

I’ve never met Victoria Anne or seen her in action, but after spotting her video on the Tough Enough website, I can’t wait to do so. Many of the videos on the website are pretty average and dull, but Victoria has a passion and charisma that catches your eye. If she has half as much talent as she does passion, she will do well in this business. She’s currently training with fellow Tough Enough hopeful Mitchell Huff and JCW champion 2 Tuff Tony. Victoria Anne is one to watch for, and even if she doesn’t catch the WWE’s eye this time around, I have a feeling she will be turning heads very soon.

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Mitchell Huff has more views than you

chosen one moYes, jabroni, Mitchell Huff has more views than you. As a matter of fact at last count, he’s crushing you.

Mitchell Huff is an OVW-trained talent, taught by the likes of Danny Davis and Rip Rogers.

Huff is no rookie. He started training years ago. He took several years off from the business, and it’s a credit to his talent that as soon as he stepped back in, he became a sought after main event level player across the Midwest.

Huff is no beer bellied slouch either. Go see him in person. He’s ripped, and he’s worked hard to get there.

Mitchell’s also become an in-demand trainer here in Southern Indiana. I’m sure he’d welcome you into his class, if you were man enough to try. I’m sure you wouldn’t last.

Mitchell thought your video was funny. So did his friends. They know there’s a reason why Mitchell is called the Chosen One.

Hope you got a lot of hits riding on Mitchell’s coat tails. That’s all you wanted, I’m sure, because you definitely don’t belong in a ring with Mitchell Huff. He is the Chosen One, and you… well, you’re just trying to get famous off someone else’s hard work.

No, I will not repost your video here. But I will share Mitchell’s. He is Tough Enough.

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Are they Tough Enough?

I decided to compile a list of Tough Enough hopefuls who have worked the Louisville area for those who want to keep tabs and support them. In no particular order, here they are:

Shane Mercer

LuFisto

Mitchell Huff

Michael Hayes

Victoria Webb

Dylan Bostic

Lou Crank

Tim Donst is not a local, and only made his area debut last December, but I’ve been following his fight with cancer and have to include him here.

And even though he retired from the ring to pursue movies, I have to give a shout out to my old friend the Prophet – or is it the Shepherd – Ben Wood.

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There’s only one Tracy Smothers

When I was working on Eat Sleep Wrestle, one of the things I asked the younger wrestlers was who had been the most helpful to them among the veteran wrestling stars. One of the men who has made the most impact on today’s indy stars is Tracy Smothers

Tracy Smothers has been wrestling for 33 years. He’s still wrestling today. He just doesn’t wrestle as much.

Notice I didn’t say as often. Tracy is as hard a worker as any you’ll find on the indy scene. He’s constantly on the road, working shows anywhere he can get booked. But at age 52, Tracy works smart. He knows he can’t go full on every night like he once did, but he also knows he doesn’t have to. The people who buy tickets have come to be entertained, and Tracy has not lost a step when it comes to entertaining.

I saw Tracy in New Albany recently in a match against the very talented Mitchell Huff. Tracy and his second A.J. Riley came down the ramp to a chorus of boos. For the next twenty-five minutes, Tracy held the entire crowd in the palm of his hands.

The drama begins with Tracy reacting to the chorus of “Tracy sucks” chants. He warns everyone that if he hears, “Tracy sucks,” one more time, “Everybody in this building is gonna die.” The crowd renews their chant even louder.

Tracy then tells the people that they better not chant for Mitchell. No one, and I mean no one, works harder to put the young stars of the indy scene over than Tracy, and Tracy gets what he really wants: a ground swell of support for his opponent.

Tracy then tries to talk Mitchell out of the match. He begs the “talented” young man to shake hands and forfeit. Mitchell of course refuses, and the ref, struggling to keep a straight face, tells Tracy he has to get ready to wrestle.

Tracy concedes, but he is reluctant to take his gear off. “If I start strippin’ the divorce rate in this town is gonna skyrocket! Wives will leave husbands! Sisters will leave brothers!” Tracy slowly strips down into his ring attire, adorned with the confederate flag, and prepares for battle.

Tracy’s bag of tricks rarely change in the ring. He cries to the ref, telling him Mitchell has pulled his hair. He tries to distract the ref so A.J. can get in a dirty shot on Mitchell. He tries to get a foreign object from A.J. but keeps tossing it back as the eagle-eyed kids in the front row keep ratting him out. Tracy’s like a Looney Tunes character, his every expression animated. He’s Wile E. Coyote, only this time, the Roadrunner can hear the kids shouting, “Look out!”

Each lock up is followed by a hasty retreat. Tracy calls time and races out of the ring, drawing more boos and “Tracy sucks” chant. When he sees an opening for a cheap shot, he takes it, asking the fans, “Who sucks now?”

They answer: “You do!”

As Tracy grows frustrated in his struggle to find some advantage against his young foe, he tries another tactic. Instead of wrestling, he wants to do a dance contest. Tracy struts his stuff first, prancing and preening to “Stayin’ Alive.” The crowd boos him relentlessly, but when the babyface gets his turn, they cheer. It’s all a ruse, of course, and when the babyface is dancing, that’s when Tracy makes his big move, trying to take down a distracted opponent and steal a victory.

When Tracy wins, it’s always because he found some dastardly way to cheat. When he loses, he always finds an excuse and lodges a formal protest before vowing to never come back to this town again. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who wins. The fans are the real winners because for a good 25 minutes, they were entertained – even though Tracy and his opponent only actually wrestled for three minutes.

Tracy Smothers is one of the last of a rare breed. He’s as old school as they come, a master of psychology who can make an audience do his bidding at every turn. You won’t see any high flying or daredevil stunts out of Tracy, but you will chant, “Tracy sucks,” and you will be entertained.

Eat Sleep Wrestle is on sale this week for Kindle, only $2.99!

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Wrestlers are like family

There’s a bond that forms among wrestlers, referees, announcers, promoters, and fans that’s almost like family. When one person hurts, everyone feels their pain. Everyone rallies to be by their side. Today, the wrestling community in the Midwest is standing by two of its own.

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This morning, when Ohio wrestler Aaron Williams went in for surgery on his ACL, his Twitter and Facebook page lit up with thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. Surgery went well, and Aaron’s already looking forward to rehab. Aaron’s a class act, one of the nicest guys in the business, and I for one can’t wait to see the baddest man alive return to action.

The other person feeling the love is Rick Brady, promoter of Premier Destination Wrestling (formerly Destination One). Rick and his family lost everything when their home was flooded several weeks back. Rick had already decided to close shop on PDW before the flood, but last night, word came out that the men and women who worked for him are putting on a benefit show.

rick_brady_benefitThe show will be May 5th at the Production House in New Albany. Tracy Smothers, Mad Man Pondo, 2 Tuff Tony, Crazy Mary Dobson, Lennox Norris, Dash Venture, Matt Atreya, and Mitchell Huff have all committed to be there for their old boss. I’ve been a fan of D1W/PDW since my first show in January 2014, and if you’re in the area, this will be a show worth seeing. And for a good cause.

Stories like these were part of the inspiration for this blog. It’s not just love of wrestling that unites us. It’s love for our neighbors.

Do something good for someone today.