Yes, You Do Want to See Madi Maxx

Every now and then you go to a show and see a new wrestler who make you sit up and take notice. That happened a month ago when I saw Madi Maxx for the first time. She came into the Jeffersonville Arena as a complete unknown to the Girl Fight crowd. Forty-five seconds after picking up a mic, every fan in the building wanted to slap the “Paris Hilton of professional wrestling” in the face.

Madi was just eight years old when she decided what she wanted to do with her life. That was when he father took her to Monday Night Raw for the first time.”I had never before seen or heard of WWE, or any wrestling for that matter. I instantly fell in love with everything about it. The emotion, the characters, the show, the energy, literally everything. I knew after that I wanted to get the same response from an audience and I started doing moves off my dressers, on to my pillows, and even my friends when they let me!

As a child of the Attitude era, Madi was drawn to some of its brightest stars, including Lita and Edge. “They were my wrestling heroes. I wanted to be just like them. They were also the ones who influenced me the most, along with The Hardys. I was drawn to them because they were all so different than anyone else on the roster. They created such a response from the crowd and filled arenas with energy! Everything they did I was infatuated by everything they did!”

Although Madi’s parents bore some of the responsibility for her infatuation with professional wrestling, they didn’t expect it to last. Madi never wavered in her dream, and when she was seventeen, she took her first steps towards pursuing that dream. “I was home during the summer, and I decided spontaneously I am going to do this NOW! I contacted a school, USIWF, and I called my mom once I got a response. Her and my dad both came with me to my first day and made sure I really wanted to do this. They have been supportive ever since, and have never once doubted me or tried to talk me out of it.”

Madi trained with Josh Gerry at USIWF for a year and a half. She then moved to Louisville, Kentucky and began training at Ohio Valley Wrestling with Matt Cappotelli and Rip Rogers. While in Louisville, she captured the OVW Women’s Championship. “It was incredible! I went to OVW with one mission, and it was to put my name on the list with all the other Women Champions, including Beth Phoenix! Holding the same title she held was something I will always remember and cherish.”

Madi’s determination to make her mark on the business led her to High Spots in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she now trains with a number of other hopefuls. She’s already faced some stiff competition in Nicole Pain and LuFisto and is scheduled to face Taeler Hendrix and Chelsea Greene in the coming months. She has her eyes set on Queens of Combat in 2018, and she hopes to make her West Coast and International debuts this year.

Madi has the skills to become a top star, both on the mic and in the ring. What’s more, she’s a true student of the game who absorbs as much as she can from everyone she meets.

“The lessons I have learned that are the most important to me are, ‘crawl, walk, run,’ which my first coach taught me. Meaning you can’t learn everything in a day, you have to stick with it and really give it your all! The second is, ‘trust no one,’ which is a really big one that I have kept in mind wherever I go.”

Madi listed LuFisto as one of her favorite opponents. You can see the two of them in action in the video below. You can also follow her on Twitter @madi_maxx, Instagram @maxxmadi, and Facebook.

Madi Maxx is a face to watch and a name to remember. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in the coming years.
[Credit for top photo goes to photographer John McEvers.]

Coming Together for Matt Cappotelli

Wrestlers give so much of themselves for the business the love and the fans who follow them. In less than two weeks, OVW fans will have a chance to give back to one of the greatest stars in the promotion’s history.

If you don’t know Matt Cappotelli’s story, it’s both inspiring and heart-breaking. Matt was on the verge of realizing his dream and becoming a WWE Superstar when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He fought the disease and beat it, but earlier this year, cancer returned for a re-match.

OVW is hosting a benefit show on Saturday, September 23, to help Matt pay his medical expenses as he fights cancer a second time. A number of current and former OVW stars will be on hand that night not to collect a pay check, but to support their friend as all proceeds will go to Matt’s medical fund. Jim Cornette has already announced he will be there, signing anything you bring for any donation you want to give. More announcements are on the way.

Indy wrestling isn’t about sports entertainment. It’s about family. If you’re in the area, please be at the Davis Arena Saturday night, September 23. This is a show you can’t miss.

Big Zo’s Big Impact

Some people like deathmatches.

Some people like the WWE.

Some people like flips and dives.

Some of my favorite wrestlers are guys like Big Zo, who are more concerned with making an impact outside the ring than inside. Click Here to see what this amazing young OVW star is doing to make a difference in the lives of kids.

 

 

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!

Long Time OVW Wrestler Thrilled to Give Back

Randy Royal came up in the same class at OVW as Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar. He was there when the WWE was promoting students from Louisville to RAW on a weekly basis. Royal never got a shot at the next level like his classmates, but Royal is grateful for everything he has – including his life.

Royal grew up a wrestling fan, and when the opportunity to train with Danny Davis presented itself, he jumped at the chance. “I’d been been enamored with wrestling since I can remember, so I don’t think my parents were TOO surprised. I’m sure at first they figured that I wouldn’t stick with it. Seventeen years later, I guess I proved that theory wrong.”

Royal started at OVW right around the same time the WWE came to down, anointing OVW as its developmental territory. “I was in same training class as Randy Orton, Dave Batista, Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin. Jim Cornette was in charge of producing our television at the time. I was lucky to sit under that ‘learning tree’ as he would explain the psychology behind the matches.”

Royal remained in Louisville working with OVW even after the WWE left town. He kept on wrestling, never suspecting he had a ticking time bomb inside him that would threaten his life.

“I was born with Wolfe-Parkinsons-White Syndrome. I had no idea. Then in 2012  I went into V-fib. They had to medically stop my heart and try to shock me back to life. The doctor said that they all agreed that after trying numerous times that they’d give it one final shock before they’d have to officially pronounce me deceased. I’m glad they did! I had to have a little surgery to correct that and hear I am.”

Royal jokes that his favorite match is any match he doesn’t get hurt, but in seriousness, he remembers his return to the ring after heart surgery with great fondness. “The amount of love and support from fans that I never dreamed would even know anything about ‘Randy Royal’ was overwhelming. I didn’t think returning to the ring was even possible, so when I stepped through those ropes, I’ll admit that I reared up a little.”

Royal says he’s the same man inside the ring that he was before his heart troubles came to light. “The only difference in that ‘Randy’ and this ‘Randy’ is that I see things a lot differently and make the most out of life.”

To that end, Royal’s number one goal for 2017 is to give back, sharing his knowledge with the next generation. “Wrestling is going to move on with or without me, and it doesn’t owe any of us a thing; we owe it. It’s allowed me to travel to places that a “poor kid from Georgia who moved to Kentucky and had to pay for his ticket to see Jerry Lawler wrestle in nickels and dimes” never thought he’d see. So if I can help someone else to even achieve that, I feel like I’m giving back in a sense.”

Royal is working twice a week now with OVW, on Wednesday TV tapings and Saturday spot shows. He is also taking bookings outside OVW, “just to work with different people who have different styles.”

You can find Randy Royal online on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Be sure to watch all his social media profiles to discover another of Randy’s talents: he’s an artist, and a darn good one.

A Louisville Wrestling Hall of Fame

No, don’t get your hopes up. There’s no Hall of Fame in the works by me, or anyone else I know of. Just a little hypothetical question:

If there were a Louisville Wrestling Hall of Fame, who would you want to see in it?

I have a long list of suggestions. In no particular order, they are:

Ed “Strangler” Lewis – A first ballot entry for sure, the Strangler got his famous name in Louisville after showing up two weeks late for a booking under his real name.

Heywood Allen – A referee turned promoter who was involved in the Louisville wrestling scene from the early 1900s until 1947.

Francis S. McDonogh – Allen’s successor, who took the Allen Athletic Club into its hey day in the 1950s, pioneering wrestling on Louisville television and drawing record crowds at the Armory.

Betty McDonogh – Wife of Francis and the business manager for Allen and her husband. She gets credit for helping to popularize wrestling with a female audience in the 1940s, when the promotion drew more ladies every week for a time than men.

Wild Bill Longson – The only man to win a world championship in Louisville. Longson was a fixture for the Allen Athletic Club throughout the 40s and 50s and even worked as a booker for the promotion.

“The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell – A true pioneer, Mitchell was an African American wrestler before, during, and after the “color barrier” was put in place. He was also a mentor to the legendary Bobo Brazil.

Col. Stu Gibson – A New Albany native and former football hero who became a huge heel in Louisville and San Antonio.

Wee Willie Davis – A wrestler and movie star who moved to Louisville and ran a few promotions during the late 50s and 60s.

Jerry Jarrett – Wrestler and promoter who brought Louisville into the Memphis territory in 1970.

Jerry Lawler – The King of Memphis could lay equal claim to royalty in Louisville with all the legendary nights he had at the Gardens.

Jim Cornette – Arguably the most famous Louisville native in the pro wrestling business. Considered one of the greatest managers of all time. With the Rock N Roll Express going into the WWE Hall of Fame, one can only hope Jim and the Midnight Express will be next.

Danny Davis – Wrestler and manager during the Memphis era who moved to Louisville and founded OVW.

Ian Rotten – Former ECW wrestler who founded IWA Mid-South, a promotion that has lasted just as many years as the more mainstream OVW.

Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin – Louisville native and life-long nemesis of Cornette, Bolin helped launch the WWE careers of more than 4 dozen wrestlers who once belonged to Bolin Services.

John Cena – OVW’s most famous son.

CM Punk – IWA Mid-South’s most famous son.

The “OVW Four” aka Rob Conway, Nick Dinsmore, The Damaja, and Doug Basham – Four Southern Indiana natives, two (Conway and Dinsmore) from right across the river, who made it to the WWE after starting in the OVW beginner class. Basham and Damaja were a tag team in the E. Dinsmore became the surprisingly popular U-Gene. Conway is the only Louisville native to win the WWE Tag Title and went on to become a two-time NWA World Champion.

Dean Hill – Current “owner” of OVW, Hill was a ring announcer at the Louisville Gardens before becoming the voice of Louisville wrestling as OVW’s TV announcer.

Okay, Louisville fans, let’s hear it. Who would you put in a Louisville Wrestling Hall of Fame?

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!

 

The End of IWA Mid-South?

15219367_10211256468433234_1316175058918177984_nWrestling has not been this hot in Louisville in decades.

While OVW rides a wave of enthusiasm fueled by their increasingly talented roster and their 900th TV taping, turmoil has erupted across the river.

Two years ago when I released Bluegrass Brawlers, I highlighted two Indiana promotions that, at the time, were running regular shows: the venerable IWA Mid-South, and Destination One Wrestling. Running monthly under former Ian Rotten student Rick Brady, D1W brought in some terrific talent including OI4K, Crazy Mary Dobson, the Indy Card Mafia, and Tracy Smothers. A series of unfortunate events forced D1W to go on permanent hiatus in 2015, and the promotion hasn’t been seen since.

That changed the night of the 20th anniversary show for IWA Mid-South, when Tracy Smothers faced IWA-MS Champion JJ Garrett with the title on the line. Smothers was on the ropes against the younger champ, but just when it seemed like Garrett had the match won, the lights went out and a man wearing a mask appeared on the apron. Garrett grabbed the guy and removed the mask to reveal “The Rick” Rick Brady!  The Rick’s sudden appearance gave Smothers the distraction he needed to hit Garrett with his stick and pin him. Once out of the ring, Tracy announced that the IWA title will now be known as the D1W title.

Over the next few weeks, The Rick promised that D1W was taking over and baited Ian Rotten into putting 50% of his company up vs. the chance to finally get his hands on The Rick for 5 minutes alone. Rotten took the bait and a six-man dog collar match was booked to settle the matter. Rotten selected Nick Depp, John Wayne Murdoch and JC Rotten to represent team IWA while  The Rick chose Mitch Ryder, Legendary Larry D and Derek Neal to represent team D1W.

The six men brawled all over the building on Thanksgiving night. During the closing minutes JC Rotten went down and grabbed his knee in pain. He fought his way back into the ring and was caught by Mitch Ryder and put into a figure four leglock. He immediately tapped. JC’s valet Tori entered the ring to check JC and was grabbed by Larry D. The fans were horrified, fearing for Tori’s safety, when Larry grabbed the girl in a huge hug! JC popped to his feet, revealing his knee injury to be a lie. He wasn’t hurt and he had just betrayed his father. The IWA locker room emptied out, but the D1W contingent beat them down in the ring.

Ian Rotten himself came off to chase away the D1W crew, but it was too late. The Rick now owns half of IWA Mid-South, and Ian and The Rick are now 50/50 partners.

I realize some of you Smarks reading this are rolling your eyes right now. “It’s all a work! You know Ian would never put up ownership in IWA!” That attitude is everything that is wrong with the IWC. Folks, this is old school. This is what packed gyms and arenas for decades before the WWE conquered the wrestling world, and guess what? It still works!

Right now, D1W/IWA Mid-South is as hot as they’ve ever been. They’re running twice a week on Thursdays in Clarksville, Indiana at Jammerz Rollerdrome and Saturdays in Memphis, Indiana at the Flea Market. Their fans are energized, and so too are the D1W fans who have missed their favorite promotion. The Rick is steamrolling IWA fans left and right on Facebook, and Tracy Smothers is proving (as he has over and over) that he’s one of the most underrated heels of any generation.

Will D1W take over, or will Ian save his beloved IWA Mid-South? Whatever happens next, the real winners are the fans enjoying a true old-fashioned blood feud!

Countdown to 900: OVW Classic Match

Time was when the Louisville wrestling fans could go and see John Cena, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Batista, Shelton Benjamin, and dozens more future stars for free every Wednesday night. OVW re-posted this classic on Facebook last night, and I thought it was worth sharing here.

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.