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Pre-order Your Copy of Tracy Smothers’ Book!

Eat Sleep Wrestle is proud to present the autobiography of the one and only, Tracy Smothers!

He’s been hired and fired from every major wrestling company. He’s wrestled all over the United States, in Mexico, and Asia. He’s held multiple tag team belts and heavyweight championships. He’s been a top guy and a jobber. He’s been a hero, a villain, and a mentor to countless young wrestlers of the last two generations. He pinned legends. He defeated cancer. And yes, he wrestled three different bears.

Few wrestlers have logged as many miles as Tracy Smothers, and even fewer have made the impact he has on today’s young stars. Now for the first time, Tracy reveals how a promising young athlete Springfield, Tennessee, who once aspired to be a high school football coach found himself at the center of a fan riot in Mexico City and a bar fight in Malaysia. He talks about the last days of the territories, the rise of the Wild Eyed Southern Boys and the Young Pistols, his star turn in Smoky Mountain, his jobbing days in WWF, life-changing concussions, the FBI in ECW, and the dance contests in the indies. You’ll hear harrowing tales about bounty hunting, delivering pizzas, and yes… going toe to toe with the legendary Ginger the Wrestling Bear.

Tracy Smothers doesn’t care if you love him. He doesn’t care if you think he sucks. He doesn’t even really care if you read his book. There’s only one thing you need to know right now. If you don’t buy this book, EVERYBODY DIES!

If you want to get a signed copy of Tracy’s book you can now pre-order one through the book shop on this our website. Books are expected in early April. That said, with the current COVID-19 situation we cannot guarantee when they will ship. Tracy and I live 2 hours apart, but we will make every effort to get together as soon as books arrive so we can ship them to everyone who pre-orders.

Click here to pre-order a signed copy.

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The Best Part of the XFL

XFL
A quick note, while I am procrastinating from working transcribing audio for an upcoming book project.

Here is what I love best about the XFL. Look at how many players are in uniform each game. Look at the number of coaches and staff on the sidelines and in the box. Look at all the people who have a chance to make a living doing what they love.

The last few years, I’ve been inspired watching so many independent wrestlers I admire become signed wrestlers. I’ve enjoyed seeing people like Marko Stunt, Dave Crist, Jordynne Grace, and others suddenly find themselves with wrestling as their primary gig and not just something they do on the weekends.

It’s a little ironic that the XFL has done the same for football. After all, if XFL founder Vince McMahon had his way, all the companies now employing wrestlers like Marko, Dave, and Jordynne would cease to be. Nevertheless, this is a great time for football, a great time for wrestling, and an inspirational time for dreamers.

Oh yeah, the football has been a lot of fun. Way better than 19 years ago. I hope this incarnation of the XFL sticks around for a bit.

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Impact and the Future of Indy Wrestling

If you have any interest at all in independent wrestling – and even if you don’t – you need to hear Talk is Jericho’s Friday episode. Chris Jericho’s guests are Don Callis and Scott D’Amore, the new executive vice presidents of Impact Wrestling (formerly TNA). It’s an eye-opening discussion about their unique qualifications to take over the struggling promotion and take it in a new direction.

The highlight that stood out the most for me was when they discussed intellectual property rights and wrestlers. It’s well-known that Impact has finally given up the fight over control of “Broken” Matt Hardy, and the WWE and Hardy are already reaping the benefits. What D’Amore and Callis shared on the show was the reasoning behind their backing of this paradigm-shifting decision.

It was Vince McMahon and the WWF that established the idea that wrestling “characters” belonged to the promotion and not the wrestlers. Vince wanted control so he could own the merchandising and restrict people from leaving his company to make money of the characters he helped to create. The TNA policy that kept “Broken” Matt Hardy in limbo for seven months was adopted from the WWE policy.

Callis and D’Amore want to change that. They want to give a platform for wrestlers to build, grow, and market characters owned by the wrestlers. Wrestlers who sign on with Impact can rest assured they will not be starting over should their relationship with the company come to an end. The gains they make at Impact will benefit them in Ring of Honor, Japan, Mexico, Europe, anywhere they go.

Callis and D’Amore contend that wrestlers have more power now than at any time in the history of the business. It’s hard to argue with that statement. For nearly a hundred years, going back to the days of the Golddust Trio, the promoters held all the power. They controlled the territories. They controlled who won or lost. They controlled who got work and who starved.

The territories are no more. Today, wrestlers market themselves. They are savvy social media users. They have tools like Instagram, YouTube, and Pro Wrestling Tees that they are using to great effect. They give interviews on blogs like this. They appear on every podcast they can. They let their fans know where they can see them not only in person but on High Spots, Powerbomb.TV, and other networks.

Callis and D’Amore know the business of wrestling. They also know business-business. They see the market, they know the trends, and they seem smart enough to create an environment to appeal to wrestlers who are truly more independent than ever.

If you listen to podcasts, please give this episode a listen. It’s a great omen for what’s on the horizon, not only for Impact, but the independent scene at large.

2017 was a ground-breaking year for the independents. 2018 is looking even better. It will start with Alpha vs. Omega. Can’t wait to see how it ends.

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Why Jericho is the Best in the World

The best thing about Chris Jericho is you never know when he’s working you.

Jericho worked everyone the last few weeks in his Twitter war with Kenny Omega. Yes, we all suspected something was up, but no one knew what – not until he showed up on the big screen at Power Struggle this weekend.

In an era where fans think they know everything, Jericho is the one guy who can still pull off a shocker. He will never tip his hand if he thinks he can sneak up on you. He loves a surprise. If you’ve ever told anyone that you “called it” when he returned in the #2 spot at the Royal Rumble a few years ago, you are a liar.

Even now, questions surround his unexpected move to Japan. Did Vince know? One report says the WWE found out when the rest of us did early Sunday morning. His video package featured music from his band Fozzy, not his WWE theme. His contracts with WWE are month to month, and he has ROH on his cruise next October.

Sounds like he’s gone independent. Only Jericho knows, and he’s not telling.

That’s what makes him the Best in the World.

If you’re one of the many coming aboard the New Japan bandwagon because of Y2J, welcome. If you thought Balor vs Styles was awesome (and it was!) wait until you see what NJPW has to offer.

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90 Days and Counting (Again)

Start the clock again. More talented wrestlers may be returning to the indies.

We’re already counting down for Neville. Now you can add Emma to the list.

Emma is a classic example of how some things never change. The WWE seems to sabotage at least as many talented wrestlers as they set up for success. For every John Cena, who came in with a rocket strapped to his back, there’s a Nick Dinsmore/U-Gene, or a “Stuttering” Matt Morgan, or a Spirit Squad.

Emma was set up to fail from day one, which is a shame because she can go. She’s a Lance Storm student, and she’s just as talented as the WWE’s Four Horsewomen. Her release is a blessing in disguise for her career, and now she has the chance to write her own ticket. Who wouldn’t want to see her lock up with Tessa Blanchard, Santana Garrett, Rachel Ellering, or LuFisto? When her 90 day non-compete ends, don’t be surprised to see her show up in Shimmer, or Queens of Combat, or – dare I  say it? – Girl Fight. (Mad Man Pondo, take note!)

I don’t know as much about Darren Young, but I think he’s got a fair shot to find success outside the WWE as well. There’s certainly more opportunity now than there has been in years, and if he chooses to follow Cody Rhodes and Neville, he can go far.

I’m not sure we’ll see Summer Rae in the indies. I think it’s more likely she’ll pursue more film and TV, but I hate to see her go without ever truly getting a chance on the main roster. If you go back and watch her work in NXT, she could hold her own against any of the top women now in the company. Too bad the sabotaged her as well, putting her in the shrieking, helpless blonde at ringside role at ringside. As much as WWE wants us to believe they’ve turned the page on women in wrestling, Summer Rae is an example that some things never change.

Time will tell if this is the last of the house cleaning. Time will also tell if any of the “future endeavored” will be add to the current indy revival. If the drive is in them, Emma, Darren Young, and Summer Rae will find more opportunity to pursue future endeavors than their predecessors.

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Dr. D Breaks Up Mean Gene

If you heard the Steve Austin Unleashed Podcast last week, you heard Austin and Kenny Bolin discussing a promo where “Dr. D” David Schultz got Mean Gene to break up and laugh on camera. Here’s the video clip if you’d like to have a look:

Dr. D has been written out of a lot of wrestling history over the last 20 years, despite his runs in Stampede, Memphis, Florida, Japan, and the AWA as well as WWF. We’re going to set the record straight. Dr. D’s autobiography, “Don’t Call me Fake,” is on track for release this coming winter.

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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.

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Who Will Stand With Baron Corbin?

I’ve met a number of wrestling promoters over the last few years. You know what they have in common? Limited resources. The promoters I know are not millionaires. Most of them have jobs outside wrestling to pay the bills for themselves and  (in many cases) the promotions they run. They aren’t doctors either, and they don’t all have the means to have even an off duty paramedic standing by if something goes wrong.

The wrestlers who work for these promoters understand this. They understand the risk they take every time they step in the ring, no matter where they are or who is running the show. Everyone understands that bruises, strains, broken bones, torn ligaments, infections, and yes, concussions can and will happen. They don’t hold the promoter liable because they take responsibility for their own actions.

This is their love. This is their passion. They do it in spite of the risks for the love of the business.

That said, if a promoter is a billionaire, if that promoter has unlimited resources, if they have the means to put on multiple live broadcasts every week, if they have their own TV network, if they have millions of subscribers paying for that network and shelling out billions more on T-shirts and videos and other swag… that promoter has an obligation to the men and women they employ to provide the best healthcare and the best information about health and wellness to the people they employ.

If the story now out about Baron Corbin being “punished” for calling out a so-called expert on concussions for not speaking the truth, it’s another black mark on the biggest promotion in the business. The WWE treats wrestlers as independent contractors. They do this to avoid having to provide health insurance for the wrestlers. Translation: when you see the WWE live or on TV, you are watching non-employees risk their bodies, their brains, and their well being in order to make millions for a corporation that will not pay their medical bills if they get hurt.

Baron Corbin has every right to call BS when he hears it. The wrestlers and fans should call BS as well. WWE is not a side venture run by a man or woman who puts on shows weekly or monthly in addition to working their 40 hour a week job. This is what they do. This is how they make money, hand over fist. For once in his wrestling career, Baron Corbin is the babyface, but it looks like Corbin could become another casualty, another name swept under the rug for defying the corporate line.

Independent promoters don’t have the means to provide the best of medical care. Independent wrestlers know and accept the risks they take working for said promoters. There’s no excuse for a company the size of WWE to withhold the best of care and the best of information from the men and women whose sacrifices make their profits possible.

Who’s going to stand with Baron Corbin, inside the WWE, or out? Better get off your butts quick. We’ve seen what happens when you defy the company line.

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The Real Queen of the Ring the WWE Won’t Tell You About

The WWE loves to rewrite history in its own image. They want you to believe that Bruno Sammartino was a greater champion than Lou Thesz. They want you to believe Andre the Giant never lost a match until Wrestlemania III. They want you to forget that Chris Benoit ever existed.

You get the idea.

The WWE is about to present its first all-women’s tournament, the Mae Young Classic. While there’s no question that Mae is a legend and a beloved figure within the WWE, naming the tournament after Mae is another subtle step to covering up the true history of women’s wrestling in favor of the WWE line.

I won’t disagree with those who say Mae Young is one of the greatest stars in women’s wrestling history. Mae was already a Hall of Fame- worthy star when Vince, Jr., was just in diapers, a gorgeous but violent gal who smoked cigars and picked fights with men in bars just to blow off steam. My issue is with the larger narrative the WWE has sold for years about women’s wrestling. It’s not about Mae; it’s about the lady the WWE sells as the “greatest” of all time.

You see the WWE wants you to believe that in the history of women’s wrestling, only one women stands above Mae’s legacy: the Fabulous Moolah. The WWE line is that Moolah was the greatest women’s champion of all time, reigning for 28 years straight. Moolah was the pride of Vince McMahon, Sr., and the gatekeeper for women’s wrestling for more than three decades. If you wanted to get into the business, you better get in good with Moolah, but don’t dare cross her.

Here’s what the WWE won’t tell you: Moolah was never a main event star. Moolah didn’t work two out of three falls matches multiple nights every week. Moolah did not pack auditoriums and stadiums from coast to coast based on her name alone.

Long story short: the Fabulous Moolah was no Mildred Burke!

For the better part of three decades, Mildred Burke was not only the top star in women’s wrestling but one of the biggest names in professional wrestling, period. Burke was a single mother living in Kansas when she met former wrestler turned promoter Billy Wolfe. Burke knew Wolfe was in the business promoting women’s wrestlers, and she saw an opportunity to give herself and her son a better life. Wolfe thought Burke was too small, and when she came in for a tryout, he handpicked a group of men to rough her up and send her packing. Burke took the beating and impressed Wolfe in the process, so Wolfe took her under his wing and trained her.

Burke began her career in the ring working the carnival circuit taking on all comers, including men. She allegedly wrestled more than 200 men in those early days, losing only once. She defeated Clara Mortenson to claim the women’s world champion, and her rise to the top began.

Wolfe knew he had a star in Burke, and he began to build a company of women’s wrestlers around her, including Ida Mae Martinez, Mae Weston, Gloria Barratini, June Byers, Gladys “Kill ‘Em” Gillam, and of course, Mae Young. Burke was a powerful and dynamic athlete who impressed the fans with her skill but could still dazzle them with her beauty and fashion sense.

Wolfe and Burke dominated the women’s wrestling scene from the late 1930s into the 1950s. They were married, but their marriage was more of a business arrangement than a vow of love. Burke had her affairs, including Billy’s son. Billy slept with numerous members of his troupe, anyone willing to trade sex for an advancement in their career.

The names at the top of the cards changed over the years, and most of the ladies had their shot working the big matches, including Mae Young. The one constant, however, was Burke, who proved without a doubt she was the top draw and the top talent in the group.

Burke’s run at the top ended shortly after her marriage to Wolfe, a bitter war culminating in a shoot match between Burke and Wolfe’s specially trained successor, June Byers. The match ended in a no-contest, with only one fall out of two decided against Burke. Burke and Wolfe both lobbied the NWA to be recognized that the go-to for women’s wrestling, but the NWA chose to wash its hands of both of them. Burke was blackballed by most of the promoters. Byers retired as champion, never becoming the money draw Burke had been.

The door of opportunity opened, and Moolah and her supporters seized the moment.

There are many reasons the WWE chose to push the Moolah’s revisionist history. Moolah had an axe to grind with Wolfe, who refused to let her take time off for her father’s funeral. Mae had her own axe to grind with Burke, whom she never got along with. Moolah and Mae pushed their version of women’s wrestling history in the documentary “Lipstick and Dynamite,” and the WWE furthered that story in their own programming and publications. To hear Moolah and Mae tell it, Mildred Burke was protected by Wolfe. Burke was no better a shooter than anyone else in the troupe. Both Moolah and Mae could have taken the great Mildred Burke down – had they only been given the chance.

History is written by the victors, and in some cases, by the survivors who live the longest. Burke’s star faded long before he death. She passed away in 1989, leaving no one to defend her legacy. Mae and Moolah were given a platform, and they rewrote the history of women’s wrestling in their own image.

Here’s the truth: without Mildred Burke, there is no Mae Young. Without Mildred Burke, there is no Moolah. Recent years have seen a great surge in the popularity of women’s wrestling, first in the independents and now in the WWE. But make no mistake: Burke reigned as Queen of the Ring in an era that to this day has not been surpassed.

I don’t want to diminish anyone’s enjoyment of the Mae Young Classic. Despite a few serious omissions (LuFisto, Mickie Knuckles, Kelly Klein), I am looking forward to the tournament as much as any women’s wrestling fan. I just want fans to be mindful of the WWE line and find out for themselves the true history of this sport.

Moolah is a Hall of Famer. Mae Young is a legend. But Mildred Burke is still the Queen of the Ring.

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Six Inconvenient Truths About WWE and Indy Wrestling

I don’t like to editorialize about the WWE, and I don’t like to go negative in this space. That said, after hearing the air get sucked out of the building at the end of the Money in the Bank match, it’s time we face some inconvenient truths.

Inconvenient Truth #1: The WWE doesn’t want to push your favorite indy stars. Over the last several years they WWE has snatched up a dream roster of independent wrestling stars, but it’s becoming clear none of these signees are ever going to be “the guy.” Styles, Owens, and Rollins have done well carrying the top belts for long periods of time, but when push comes to shove, the WWE will always favor their own.

Inconvenient Truth #2: The WWE wants the next top guy(s) to be their guys. Never mind that independent wrestlers bring not only an established fan base but experience and ring saavy to the table. The WWE still believes it can manufacture stars from scratch at its Performance Center and push them over the independents. Get used to seeing Sami Zayn staring up in frustration at the latest home grown wrestler on top of the Money in the Bank ladder. This is your new reality in the WWE.

So why does the WWE continue to mine the independents?

Inconvenient Truth #3: The WWE is spending money on independent wrestlers to bleed the indies dry of their top stars. It’s not about enhancing the roster. It’s about hurting the competition by taking away their marquee stars and using those highly paid signees to put over their chosen elect.

So what does all this mean?

Inconvenient Truth #4: Any independent star who has a WWE contract needs to consider more than just the money. That’s a hard, hard thing to do when you’re looking at going from $25 a night to the top of the business, but is the WWE really going to give you your dream shot? The roster is overcrowded. Guys who were on top all around the world are forced to job to pre-fabbed stars. Dalton Castle, Kenny Omega, and the Young Bucks have made the right call, staying where they are instead of taking the money for a one way ticket to obscurity. (Remember how excited we all were when Anderson and Gallows got signed?)

Of course it’s easy for the guys who are being paid well to stay put, but what about the guys struggling to make it?

Here comes the most inconvenient truth of all.

Inconvenient Truth #5: Fans who are sick of it need to seriously consider where they spend their money. If you keep paying for a product you hate and refuse to spend a dime on ROH, NJPW, High Spots, CHIKARA, CZW, or any number of alternatives. Am I suggesting you cancel your Network subscription? Not necessarily. I am saying you should stop spending all that fat cash on T-shirts and Pops and Booty-O’s Cereal and spend a little more on a wrestling product you can care about!

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: one ticket to a WWE show costs the same amount as six tickets to an independent show; or two tickets and two T-shirts; or a six month subscription to the alternative wrestling network of your choice. The money you spend there goes into the pockets of real men and women who need and appreciate it far more than a faceless corporation that long ago decided it knows better than you what you want to see.

Inconvenient Truth #6: The WWE is not about to change its ways any time soon. Indy stars will continue to take the WWE money, and Inconvenient Truths 1-3 will continue to play out.

Knowing this to be true, you have a choice. You can continue watching a product you hate and griping about it online, or you can make a choice to spend your time and hard-earned money on a wrestling show you do love.

Life’s too short to spend on these Internet rants. I’m going to find something I enjoy.