Tagged in: wwf

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.

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.

Kick Out at Two with Richard Holliday and Paul Roma

The Kick Out at Two Podcast gives you two guests this weekend: the young and talented Richard Holliday, and his trainer, WWF and WCW veteran Paul Roma!

Click play on the video below to see Roma and his protege in action, then tune in to hear teacher and student on this week’s episode.

Kick Out at Two is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud.

The Legacy of Chyna

“In 1999, I was fighting guys and winning my first male championship. People laughed at me and workers beat me up because I was ‘The girl trying too hard.’ Well. There was someone like me was on TV. I had a model. A strong woman who wasn’t afraid to fight anybody. That was Chyna.” – LuFisto

“Chyna was the reason I started wrestling…. Horrible news to wake up to.” – Kimber Lee

At the height of her wrestling career, Joanie “Chyna” Laurer was hailed as the Ninth Wonder of the World. She was a Women’s World Champion in a time before “Divas.” She was a founding member of Degeneration-X. She was the first women to enter the Royal Rumble and the first woman to lay claim to the prestigious WWF Intercontinental Champion. She wasn’t the first woman to wrestle men, but her feuds with Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and others paved the way for shows like Gender Wars, the men vs. women events now being promoted by Mad Man Pondo. Chyna blazed a trail for many women who now regularly wrestle with and against men including Heidi Lovelace, Candice LeRae, LuFisto, and CHIKARA Grand Champion Kimber Lee.

Many fans today don’t know Chyna’s true legacy. Corporate politics and her own personal demons have excluded her from the WWE Hall of Fame and multiple D-X reunions. Chyna was a pioneer worthy of recognition with legends like Mildred Burke and the Fabulous Moolah.

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.

Art by Kamala

Kamala the Ugandan Giant is one of the great heels of the last 30 years. He’s had some health issues as of late, but is on an upswing. He also recently released his autobiography, a must read for anyone who remembers his feuds with Hogan and Lawler.

Kamala is now offering a true one of a kind collectible. He is making a limited run of signed and numbered paintings of his face paint & torso art. These are not proofs; there will only be 30 of these made, and each one will be the real deal.

Prints are priced at $125 plus shipping and handling. You can order yours now by emailing Kenny Casanova at k9casanova@aol.com or contacting Kenny on1914916_10153208265781933_7549750480229404701_n Facebook.

New Hope for Louisville Gardens?

1101130843There’s a lot of buzz about the Louisville Gardens and a “hidden treasure” I discovered when working on Bluegrass Brawlers.

The treasure is a Kilgen pipe organ installed just above the stage area inside the Gardens. The pipe organ is also a one man band, with percussion and brass instruments incorporated into its workings. It’s a priceless treasure that, until recently, was in danger of being lost forever due to neglect of the building.

This week, both the Courier-Journal and WFPL radio ran stories about the building, the organ, and an effort to save them both. Click on the hyperlinks to read what they had to say.

Originally built as the Jefferson County Armory, the Louisville Gardens began hosting pro wrestling in 1913. Ed “Strangler” Lewis was one of the very first to main event inside the building. He was followed by a host of world champions and trail blazers including Charlie Cutler, Americus, Stanislaus Zbyszko, Wladek Zbyszko, Joe Stecher, Orville Brown, Bill Longson, Lou Thesz, Mildred Burke, Buddy Rogers, The Sheik, Fritz Von Erich, and Bobo Brazil.

During the Memphis years it was home to Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee, Dutch Mantell, Handsome Jimmy Valiant, Jimmy Hart, Jim Cornette, and the Fabulous Ones. Louisville Gardens also hosted many of the WWE’s biggest legends before they were stars, some with Memphis and others with OVW. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, The Undertaker, Kane, Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock, John Cena, Batista, Brock Lesnar, and Randy Orton all worked the Gardens on their way to the top.

Andre the Giant wrestled there. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan had his in-ring debut in the building. Bret Hart had his last successful WWF title defense before the Montreal Screwjob in the building. That same show was also Brian Pillman’s final PPV appearance before he passed away.

And yes, believe it or not, Andy Kaufman stepped into the Memphis ring inside Louisville Gardens.

Louisville Gardens is a beautiful building with an incredible history. The building and the organ are treasures that deserve to be preserved and enjoyed for years to come. Here’s hoping the Gardens has not seen the last wrestling match inside those hallowed halls.

Click here to view some photos of the organ on the Bluegrass Brawlers Facebook page. And please give the page a like while you are there!

In Memory of Rowdy Roddy Piper

Kayfabenews.com said it best tonight: the greatest pay-per-view in the history of Heaven is happening tonight.

Just a few weeks after we lost Dusty Rhodes, Rowdy Roddy Piper is gone. My Facebook page is flooded with posts from wrestling fans, horror movie fans, and people who are neither remembering a true original. No one was a quick as Roddy on the mic. No one was better at playing the heel and getting heat. And by every account I’ve ever heard, he was the nicest and classiest guy in the locker room with the boys (and ladies) and out in public with the fans.

My first thought for this post was to share one video: the Piper’s Pit interview with the legendary (only because Piper made him a legend) Frank Williams. But you can’t narrow Roddy down to just one clip. Here’s a bunch of Roddy pulled from my Facebook wall.

Before the weekend’s over, I’ll be watching They Live, Welcome to Frogtown, and a whole lot of Piper’s Pit. RIP, Hot Rod. Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends left behind.