Tagged in: roku

I’m Learning Japanese

Back in January, I set an unusual goal for myself. I decided I want to learn Japanese.

It happened because I decided to pick up New Japan for a month just to see Wrestle Kingdom. I had trouble navigating the mixed language site, and I ended up watching the show with the Japanese commentary instead of English. I loved it, and I was intrigued. So I decided to pick up Japanese.

Just a month or two before watching Wrestle Kingdom I heard Kevin Owens tell the story of how he learned English by watching Monday Night Raw. I wondered if it was possible for an American fan to do the same watching New Japan.

Four months later, Duolingo released their Japanese language module. I’ve been working at it ever since, and in July, I re-subscribed to new Japan World. Is it working? Well, no. Not yet. I’m still very much a beginner, but I’m determined. I’m also loving New Japan way more than WWE right now. As a matter of fact I’m planning to drop the WWE Network this fall and go exclusively with New Japan.

I’ll repeat that in case you missed it. I am unplugging WWE this fall in favor of New Japan.

Fans, if you are sick of what you’re seeing on TV, there are options. Vote with your remote. Vote with your subscriber dollars. Pick up New Japan World, or CHIKARATOPIA, or CZW, or High Spots. Or drop ’em all and get the free Rasslin’ channel on Roku.

The WWE doesn’t listen to your complaints on Facebook and message boards. As long as you keep on paying your $9.99 a month, they could care less what you say on Twitter, Reddit, or any other website.

You know what they do care about? People hitting the unsubscribe button. That’s how you get their attention.

Right now, the best wrestling is not at the biggest company. I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. If you are tired of being disappointed, stop setting yourself up for disappointment. Cancel the Network. Find something new. Find something you love and support that. Stop supporting the stuff that’s letting you down.

Add ‘Rasslin to your Roku Channels Now!

A month or so back, I was surfing the Channel Store on Roku and came across a new wrestling channel simply called ‘Rasslin. Featuring a Rob Van Dam caricature on its channel graphic, ‘Rasslin promised to be a free channel boasting lots of old school wrestling. I decided to give it a try.

Simply put: ‘Rasslin is a free Roku channel with content you would gladly pay for.

The first video I watched on ‘Rasslin was an episode of WCCW from the old Sportatorium featuring the Von Erichs and the Freebirds in the main event. As if that wasn’t enough to keep me watching, the episode itself had a recently filmed introduction hosted by Kevin Von Erich and Michael Hayes. I was immediately taken back to my middle school days, when I used to watch WCCW on ESPN every afternoon after school on my Mom and Dad’s bedroom TV.

I let ‘Rasslin run for a few hours and I was treated to surprise after surprise. I saw Dick the Bruiser, Mean Gene Okerland, Dusty Rhodes, Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin, Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express, the Fabulous Kangaroos, Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee, Andre the Giant, Roddy Piper, Dr. D David Schultz, Sgt. Slaughter. I saw matches and even full TV episodes from the AWA, Memphis Wrestling, Crockett Promotions, and more. Almost every new video brought a new surprise.

‘Rasslin has a seemingly endless supply of wrestling content, but unlike most Roku channels, they do not have a searchable menu. When you open ‘Rasslin, a live stream begins, feeding you one video after another, interrupted by the occasional commercial.

There are some more recent independent wrestling videos on ‘Rasslin, as well as some hotel room women’s wrestling and other strange matches, but ‘Rasslin does allow you to skip any video by hitting the fast forward button on your remote.

‘Rasslin is a must-have for fans of old school wrestling. It’s the perfect compliment to paid wrestling channels, full if binge worthy matches, promos, and memories. It’s a channel you can put on and leave on that feeds surprise after surprise with every new video.

Wanted: Backyard Wrestling Stories

My friend Righteous Jesse from the Kick Out at Two Podcast has put out a call for anyone who used to be a backyard wrestler to step up and share their stories.

There’s a negative stigma attached to backyard wrestling, due to the danger involved and the general perception that backyard wrestlers aren’t very good, but the truth of the matter is, backyard wrestling has been the starting point for many wrestlers at all levels of the business. The Hardy Boyz started in the backyard. So did Josh Prohibition and Matt Cross. And New Origins Wrestling in Irvine, now broadcast on the TEN Network on Roku, began as a backyard promotion.

Righteous Jesse is looking for men and women who started out in the backyard. He wants to shed a light on backyard wrestling in the form of a documentary to be released on YouTube. This is not a for-profit venture, but a labor of love on behalf of the wrestlers and fans who continue to keep backyard wrestling alive.

Click here to contact Righteous Jesse on his Facebook page. He would love to hear from you!

The “Strange” Tale of New Origins Wrestling

John Strange didn’t choose wrestling. Wrestling chose him. At age 15 he found himself at an independent wrestling show that looked nothing like the wrestling he knew from TV. It was bad. Really bad. It was so bad, he turned to the person next to him and said, “I could do better than that.” A gentleman seated behind him leaned forward and said, “Prove it.”

John’s challenger turned out to be a wrestling promoter who had his own training school. So at age 15, John Strange began his journey into the world of professional wrestling.

One of the promoters John worked for in the early days was a Earl Kelly, who started running shows in Kentucky during the late 90s. Strange met Earl’s daughter Alicia, and the two got married.

Kelly packed up and left Kentucky in the early 2000s for Florida. He returned a few years later and tried to pick things back up where he left off, but things didn’t go as well as he’d hoped. Kelly closed shop, and when he did, the Stranges bought his ring.

“We just thought it would be fun to have a ring in the backyard,” John Strange recalls. “But then fans started showing up at our door. They begged us to run shows. They wanted us to start a promotion. One fan even tried to hand us $1000 cash to go toward applying for a license.”

Once again, wrestling was calling. John and Alicia decided that they would give it a go, and New Origins Wrestling was born.

John and Alicia opened the promotion in Alicia’s name, and the second generation promoter proved to be a natural for the business side of wrestling. “She does all the promoting and handles all the business side. She learned well from her father.”

New Origins prides itself on being one of the most fan-friendly promotions running today. “When you see us on television, you’ll notice we don’t play to the camera. Our focus is always on the fans. We want to give them the best show possible because they’re the ones paying money to see us.”

New Origins is also very in tune with what the fans are saying, and Alicia Strange is always ready to listen. “I think being a female promoter is an advantage for her,” says John. “Fans aren’t as intimidated by her as they might be a male promoter. They have no trouble going up to her, saying hello, or making suggestions.”

New Origins also prides itself on giving back to the community, using their shows as fundraisers for Toys 4 Tots, local fire departments, and other worthy causes.

New Origins has a regular cast of local stars on its roster, including the Soviet Stud, Stevie P, Chris Noble, and the 4 Real Rejects Izzy 4 Real and Devon Blake, but they love to feature the best talent possible, not only in the region but the nation. John Morrison, Davey Richards, and Mad Man Pondo are just a few names who have made their way to NOW to be part of the action.

New Origins runs monthly shows in Irvine, Kentucky and is currently taping new episodes for broadcast on the TEN Network for Roku. You can also follow them on their Facebook page.

New Origins Wrestling Breaks New Ground

Sharing an exciting story today from my friends at the INC and TEN Networks on Roku. Friday night, New Origins Wrestling will host their first television taping for the TEN Network. If you have a Roku box, you’ll be able to see all the action for free. 

Here’s the write up today from TEN: 

14095981_1809851725913493_2851503436003660987_nGrowing up on the heels of her father, wrestling promoter Earl Kelly, Alicia Strange was no stranger to the turmoils and stress of managing a professional wrestling organization. Twenty years later she is still in love with the business that she was introduced to at the early age of 8.

“I was thirteen when I had to fire a wrestler for the first time. I was in charge of gathering all of the wrestler’s current licenses before the show and one wrestler refused to cooperate with any “little girl”. I was no bigger than his thigh, but in the end, he did not wrestle that night. The next show, every wrestler had their license out and waiting for me.” recalled Strange.

Today Alicia Strange is the owner and promoter of New Origins Wrestling (N.O.W) based in Irvine. “Being a second generation promoter is rare, but a second generation female promoter is almost unheard of. “ She may come in a small package, but she can match intensity and personality with the biggest guys in the arena,” said John Strange, Alicia’s husband, and N.O.W wrestler.

Alicia is now taking New Origins Wrestling to a whole new level. Last week she signed a television development deal with TEN TV to produce an N.O.W wrestling show for the channel.

“Being able to take New Origins to a worldwide television audience is a dream come true. Not only do we have the opportunity to showcase our wrestlers, but also showcase the quality is coming out of the great state of Kentucky,” said Strange. “Kentucky has always been a hub for the greatest professional wrestling in the country dating back to the early 1900’s. We are looking forward to presenting the next chapter in Kentucky wrestling’s great history”

Ten TV, part of the Moturoais Corporation, is available on the Roku platform worldwide. “Alicia has really carried the torch for her father in the wrestling business and we look forward to helping built the N.O.W brand on the world stage,” said Moturoais President of Operations Anthony Hudson.

New Origins Wrestling will tape their first televised event September 9th at the Estill County Fair barn in Irvine and begin airing on TEN TV mid-October.

For information on New Origins Wrestling, visit their Facebook Page

For information on the TEN Network and the INC Channel, visit their Facebook page

Gorgeous George in “Alias the Champ”

In the early days of broadcasting, two stars did more to put televisions into homes than anyone else: Milton Berle and Gorgeous George. Born George Wagner, the gorgeous one began his wrestling career as just another brunette babyface in black trunks. Hoping to make himself stand out, Wagner found inspiration in a fellow wrestler named Lord Patrick Lansdowne. Lansdowne was a farm boy from Ohio, but a fancy wardrobe and a butler named Jeeves transformed him into one of the most hated men in wrestling.

George took Lansdowne’s idea several steps further. He grew out his hair, dyed it blonde, and commissioned a distinctive hairstyle known as the marcel. He began wearing purple trunks and had a series of lavish, expensive robes made to fit his 210 pound frame. Gorgeous George was hated by men by adored by women, who made up half the wrestling audience in the 40s and 50s. Wrestling from Hollywood became a television hit, and George became one of the most sought after guest stars. He even worked a celebrity wrestling match for charity against Burt Lancaster, with Bob Hope filling in as his own personal assistant Jeffrey.

Alias the Champ would be just another B-movie from the 1950s if it were not for Gorgeous George. The plot centers on a New York mob trying to muscle in on the California wrestling scene, and while George isn’t the focal point of the story, but judging from the posters and ads put out for the film, it’s clear Republic Pictures was counting on him to be the draw. Keep an eye out for some other wrestlers in the film as well, including Sammy Menacker and Tor Johnson, who became a cult favorite when he appeared in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Gorgeous George changed the face of television and professional wrestling. His charismatic personality gave rise to future wrestling stars like Ric Flair, Adrian Adonis, and Tyler Breeze. His influence can also be seen outside wrestling in the careers of James Brown, Bob Dylan, and Muhammed Ali.

“Alias the Champ” is now available to view free on INC – The Independent Network Channel. The INC channel is available for free only on ROKU.

Eat Breakfast with Bolin… and Jimmy!

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About a year and a half ago, I had the privilege of eating lunch with Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin and his life long adversary Jim Cornette at Clarksville Seafood. Stories were shared about their childhood, their life together, and their days in the ring. Many of them made their way into Kenny’s book, but some details did not. It was an incredible time listening to two of Kentucky’s biggest wrestling legends banter back and forth, and it was arguably one of the funniest conversations I have ever had in my life.

On May 21 Kenny wants you to join him and Jim for a similar experience at the Golden Corral on Taylorsville Rd in Louisville! Breakfast with Bolin is a once in a lifetime chance to have breakfast AND lunch (yes, you read that right) with the Starmaker and the original Louisville Slugger.

The conversation, complete with questions from you and other fans, will be filmed for future release as a DVD and distribution on the INC Network on Roku.

The date, time and location are now confirmed: May 21 at 10 AM at the Golden Corral on Taylorsville Rd in Louisville. Kenny is now selling tickets direct through his Facebook page. $29 is the price that gets you two meals and a seat for one of the most entertaining days of your life. What’s more, Golden Corral has decided to make this a charity fundraiser, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the sons and daughters of veterans to enable them to go to summer camp.

If you’re a wrestling fan in or near the Louisville area, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Jim has traveled the country doing Q&A’s and giving talks on his career, but Kenny does NOT do this. If you’re one of the many who only download Jim’s podcast when Kenny is on, you will not want to miss this chance.

Please visit Kenny’s Facebook page to get in touch and book your spot before it sells out!

Gorgeous George Returns

Gorgeous George is one of the most influential wrestlers of all time. If there were no Gorgeous George, one could argue there would be no Buddy Rogers, Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Superstar Billy Graham, Jesse The Body Ventura, Adrian Adonis, Rick Rude, Tyler Breese, or even Tracy Smothers. Yes, I said Tracy Smothers. Watch Gorgeous George in action, and then go see Tracy “Don’t Pull My Hair!” Smothers in action.

I’m happy to say you can now see Gorgeous George in all his resplendent glory on the INC channel. Two NEW episodes of Eat Sleep Wrestle are no available to view on the Roku channel INC, and one of them features a nice, long look at Gorgeous George himself.

And just as a follow up to my recent post about George Wagner (George’s pre-gorgeous ring persona) appearing for Louisville’s Allen Athletic Club in 1930s… it turns out the Human Orchid returned in 1955 to wrestle for the Allen Club as Gorgeous George. Feast your eyes on the evidence below. Then download the free INC channel to your Roku device and enjoy!

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All CHIKARA, All the Time

CHIKARA Pro Wrestling is completely unique among contemporary wrestling promotions. They don’t view themselves as rasslin’ or sports entertainment but a completely different entity, a comic book brought to life. CHIKARA has its detractors, but its fans can’t get enough of the colorful characters, crazy masks, high flying antics, and fan interaction.

CHIKARA doesn’t travel extensively. Their dates are limited, and being based out of Philly, they stick mostly to the Eastern United States. Thankfully, fans across the country can binge on CHIKARA thanks to their online channel, CHIKARATOPIA.

CHIKARATOPIA is available on the web and on Roku through the CHIKARA channel. The channel gives you a live stream 24/7 of CHIKARA action plus access to all fifteen “seasons” of CHIKARA – over 600 hours of wrestling in all. The Roku menu is fairly simple, allowing you to browse by season and then by show. The show descriptions do not give you a lot of detail so if you’re looking for a particular performer or match, you may have to look online.

CHIKARATOPIA runs $7.99 a month, and there are discounts if you pay for 6 months or 12 months in advance. They also offer a free 7 day trial with all new subscriptions.

From my own personal experience, CHIKARA is a promotion best experienced live. It’s fun to watch on TV, but TV doesn’t capture the fun-filled atmosphere that is CHIKARA live. CHIKARA is more interactive than any wrestling promotion today, in the ring, out of the ring, and in the so-called real world. They have some truly original performers you won’t see anywhere else like Dasher Hatfield, Ophidian the Cobra, and the various “Ant” men as well as some of the most talented rising stars today including Heidi Lovelace, Chuck Taylor, and current Grand Champion Kimber Lee. I strongly recommend seeing them live if you get the opportunity, but for those who can’t get there (or can’t get enough) CHIKARATOPIA is a nice way to fill the gap.

Visit CHIKARA Pro Wrestling’s website for more information.

Return to the Golden Age!

Eat Sleep Wrestle: The Golden Age is a new wrestling program available only on the INC Channel on Roku featuring some of the greatest stars in the history of wrestling. ESW is the place to see Hall of famers and legends like Gorgeous George, The Shiek, Bobo Brazil, Mildred Burke, Cora Combs, Fritz Von Erich, Thunderbolt Patterson, and Warren Bockwinkel.

Produced by wrestling historian John Cosper, each episode of ESW features part or all of a match not seen on television in generations. Host Roni Jonah opens the show with a biographical sketch on the stars featured in each episode.

Eat Sleep Wrestle: The Golden Age can only be seen on INC, the Independent Network Channel, on Roku. INC features the best of obscure, out of print b-movies across all genres as well as current independent films from directors like Jerry Williams, Claude D. Miles, and George Bonilla. INC plans to offer more wrestling related in the future including the films of Mexican wrestler El Santo.

John Cosper is a writer and wrestling historian. His published works include Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville, Eat Sleep Wrestle, and I Probably Screwed You Too: The Mostly True Stories of Kenny Starmaker Bolin.

Roni Jonah is a professional wrestler turned actress and film director. Her wrestling resume includes Ohio Valley Wrestling and Women’s Extreme Wrestling.

Follow INC Channel on Facebook.

While you’re there, be sure to check out “Frank Jordan: Evil Snowman” by John Cosper, available on INC Story Time.