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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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Post #200: Watching Wrestling with Baby Lydia

Was going to share a fun story/correction tonight regarding Louisville wrestling history and Bluegrass Brawlers, but then I noticed that this is blog post #200. I’ll save the Louisville story for tomorrow and share a story I told to a friend who is a fellow dad and wrestling fan tonight.

When my daughter Lydia was around six months old, she wasn’t the best overnight sleeper. We spent many nights walking the floor with her. (Okay, I confess – Jessica did most of the walking while I slept. I could have done a lot more of my share at that time!)

One night when I was a good dad and took my turn, Lydia just wasn’t responding to walking the floor. She kept fussing and refused to go to sleep. Truth be told, at age 8, she’s still pretty stubborn about staying up late.

I was exhausted and frustrated, so I headed down to the basement – the man cave – and I put an old WWF pay-per-view VHS tape. I laid down on the couch with Lydia on my chest to watch some wrestling.

I wish I could remember which pay-per-view it was that I put in. I tried to look it up through Wikipedia, but no luck. My memory’s likely off on this, but I want to say the first match we watched (which may not have been first on the card) was Chris Jericho vs. Eddie Guerrero. It might have been Jericho vs. Regal, or Eddie vs. someone else, but I’m certain one of those two was in the match. It was a darn good match either way, and my six month old daughter, who had no idea what she was watching, lifted herself up with her tiny hands on my chest and watched the whole darn match!

The match ended, and Howard Finkel began introducing the next match. Test’s music hit, and Test made his way from the stage to the ring. I don’t remember the opponent in that match, but I’ll never forget it was Test who came out first because it was at that very moment Lydia laid her head down and went to sleep.

I almost feel bad sharing the story with a laugh knowing that Test (God rest his soul) is gone, and I don’t mean to disparage him or his legacy. But it’s a memory I will never forget with my little girl. She knew a good match when she saw it, and she knew when to go out and get some more popcorn.

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The Greatest Little PPV on Earth!

12019126_1247212388638324_50884786_oWomen have been a side show in professional wrestling for many years. There have always been exceptions, and in certain eras women were main event draws who could pack the house, but for the most part they were treated as eye candy, forced into demeaning hair-pulling matches and worse.

Everyone laughed – and headed for the concession stand.

Last Wednesday the Internet Wrestling Community was set on fire when William Regal announced the Ironwoman match for the next NXT Takeover special featuring Bayley and Sasha Banks. The hard work put in by the Four Horsewomen of NXT has earned them the respect they deserve.

No one is laughing now.

This week an independent wrestling federation is hoping to make a big step forward for another marginalized form of wrestling. You can call them micro-athletes. You can call them midgets. (Yes, in the world of professional wrestling world, the non-PC term is still accepted and preferred.) They are also legitimate professional wrestlers, and on Wednesday they will be taping the first ever all midget pay-per-view event.

Now in its eighth year, Micro Championship Wrestling has been entertaining fans all over the world. The men and women of MCW truly embrace the term “sports entertainment,” and when they hit the ring, they promise and deliver a good show and a good time.

You may not have heard of heard of MCW, or even be aware there are multiple all-midget promotions now in business, but MCW has been featured on Hulk Hogan’s Micro Championship Wrestling, Full Throttle Saloon, and other reality programs. They wrestle all over the country and in eight years have a 100% re-booking rate. In other words, when Micro Championship Wrestling comes to a town, they always get asked back!

The MCW wrestlers also do an incredible amount of charity work, partnering with organizations like Kym’s Kids and Wounded Warrior to raise money for worthy causes.

The men and women of MCW know that what they do is a joke to many. They’re also keenly aware that it’s not politically correct in the eyes of some. But the men and women of MCW got into this business because for the same reason every man and woman in the WWE did: they love wrestling, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. MCW is carrying on a proud legacy, following a trail blazed by oft-forgotten legends like Little Beaver, the Haiti Kid, Sky Low Low, and Lord Littlebrook. MCW goes for the laughs, but they also know how to create real drama and tears. They are professional wrestlers, and they are proud ambassadors of a truly American sport that continues to entertain millions.

Tickets are still available for the live taping at Independence Bar in Orlando, Florida Wednesday night. You can also catch the show on www.ippv.com.

For booking information and a press pack, visit www.mcwnation.com.