The Louisville Slugger Heads Home… For Now

13118990_10205325277125716_7262700987332590819_nAustin Bradley’s sojourn into Japan has come to an early end, but from the sound of things, this is not “The End.” Austin will be back. He will be stronger than ever. He will be back in front of his hometown friends soon, and he will return to his brothers in Japan.

Here’s the news in his own words.

“Well guys unfortunately I have some bad news. During training yesterday my shoulder was dislocated. I went to the doctor following the training session and had some test and scans and today the results came in. My rotator cuff is torn and is gonna put me out of action for at least 2 months. So the Zero 1 office has decided it best for me to go home and recover and come back once I heal.

“This will not be the end of Austin Bradley as a member of the Zero 1 team. The month I have been here has been amazing. I’ve had some great matches, and I am so glad to be a member of this dojo. Thank you to Zero 1 as a whole for giving me this opportunity. It’s time to recover and come back stronger than ever.

“Coming home early isn’t easy for me, but no one needs to feel sorry or apologize. I got to do things and have experiences that most in this business never will. It’s not goodbye forever. It’s see ya later. I will come back to Japan and finish my mission, but now it’s time to focus on recovery. I want to thank all the people who have stayed by my side. Thank you to all of you for your love and support.

“One final thing to share about Japan: among the wrestlers, when you pose for a photo with the middle finger in the air, that’s called Pondo-style. The more you know.”

Thanks to everyone who has followed Austin’s story here as well. Austin has already overcome many challenges in his life, some of which I chronicled in Eat Sleep Wrestle. There will be more tales to tell, and I plan to carry them for him on future returns.

Please give Austin a follow on Facebook.

A Louisville Slugger in Japan – Day 22

13000258_10205268145577463_198734153717756307_nSpotty Internet reception and a busy schedule has slowed the updates from Japan, but it sounds like all continues to go well for Louisville’s Austin Bradley in Japan. As a matter of fact, Austin nearly became a father, but not for the reason you’re thinking, dirty minds. You see… Well, just read for yourself.

“The tour wrapped up rather smoothly. I did a lot of charity work. Went to a home of the mentally disabled.

“Today I taught five young orphan girls to bump and roll in the ring. I posted a picture on Facebook of me and the kids, but I was asked to take it down due to orphanage rules. I thought it was a school event we were volunteers for, and I was surprised when they told me they were orphans. I guess it’s my mom in me but, I always have a soft spot for kids. There was one particular little girl who clung to me for the whole show. She was the toughest and funniest little girl I’ve ever seen. I would’ve adopted her if I was in a place in life that would allow it.

“I can honestly say that as much as wrestling has toughened me up, kids always get to my gentle side. It was a humbling and rewarding experience I do not take lightly.

“One of the North American friends I met over here just went home and is looking for bookings. Her name is Kaitlin Diemond, and she became quite the rock star working for Stardom. If you’re looking for a badass chick, please connect with her on Facebook and book her!

“I also am very excited for upcoming shows and events. There is so much more to see and do. Little foreshadowing for you: Mount Fuji will be climbed!”

Follow Austin Bradley on Facebook to see more photos and updates!

A Louisville Slugger in Japan – Day 15

12963799_10205263783628417_2727101383664333064_nAustin Bradley’s take on the first and second quake, and the confirming of the urban legend known as the sponsor’s dinner.

Keep Austin and everyone in Kumamoto in your prayers. The trouble may not be over yet.

Be sure to follow Austin on Facebook.

“We left Tokyo two days ago to go on tour and endured a grueling 20 hour drive all the way to Kumamoto. The shows are sold out for the whole tour, and it’s been an amazing experience. I have picked up on the hard hitting strong style pretty well. I am enjoying my time here.

“Last night as we were riding home, from the show about three hours from Kumamoto, an emergency announcement came on the radio. I saw a look of concern on the faces of both Masato Tanaka and Hidaka. It was in Japanese and the other gaijin in the car noticed the same. I asked Tanaka. ‘What wrong?’

“He replied, ‘Big earthquake.’

“I asked where.

“He said, ‘In town we stay.’

“I was a worried, but there was nothing we could do but hold on and wait for it to stop.

“The quake measured a 6.4 on the Richter scale. Being from Louisville I have never experienced anything like this. I didn’t know what to expect when we got to the hotel. The shampoo had all fallen on the floor and made a mess. The plate that held my breakfast that morning was broken on the floor. So was the painting on the wall.

“I started making contact with my family and loved ones back home to let them know I was okay. All of a sudden, the damn hotel starts shaking. I put my shoes on and head for the lobby and the safety of outdoors.

“When when I reach the lobby, I spotted all the Japanese boys sitting in the dining area. They asked if I was going to get food. I said, ‘No, the damn hotels shaking!’

“They laughed at me. ‘Just an aftershock. Calm self, Country Boy.’

“Yes, they call me Country Boy. They gave me nickname due to my frequent dipping and the Southern accent I never knew I had until I got here.

“I went back to my room and Skype called my girlfriend Brit as the hotel is still shaking.

“Our show that night was canceled because one of the walls at the venue collapsed, so the Zero One crew headed out to help with the clean up. That evening, I got to experience one of the great urban legends along American wrestlers: the sponsor’s dinner. Those who have never been to Japan often wonder if the stories of lavish meals hosted by wealthy wrestling enthusiasts are true. They sound like pure fantasies, like kayfabe and good looking ring rats. Imagine the look on my little old face when I was told that we were being driven to a paid for dinner where we can eat what we want. It’s all true, dammit, and not only did I eat all I wanted, I drank way too much.

“Which leads me back to the quake. Make that the second quake. We were back at the hotel when the second one, a 7.1, hit the area. We were all completely drunk from the sponsor dinner when they evacuated the hotel. What’s it like being drunk during a huge earthquake? Its horrible. You can’t tell if you are wobbling cause you are drunk or because of the ground shaking beneath you.”

A Louisville Slugger in Japan – Day 10

Austin’s on the road, getting his first taste of wrestling action before a live crowd. Still a few weeks out from getting in the ring himself. Here’s the latest:

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Been on the road for two days now. First thing. When you are touring in Japan its a lot like the states. You live out of 7\11’s except there is no food I can recognize. If it looks like cheese its egg;  learned that the hard way.

Japan shows in general draw a lot more fans. A small show here is 500 people, all paid. Communication is becoming easier with my Japanese co-workers. A lot of broken English and the few Japanese words I know. I will say that having fellow gaijin here is a big help. You just have to know who to trust.

On another note the crowds are different for all the reasons they are famous for. Although I knew the stories of Japanese crowds. At first when they would get quiet I would think they were bored. Of course it’s the exact opposite. They are paying attention to every detail and only get loud when the action has stopped or someone kicks out of a pin.

As for how I am feeling so far, well I am excited, anxious to learn and grow and just to think this is only a little over a week in.

A Louisville Slugger in Japan – Day 7

Austin Bradley’s journey in Japan continues…

12924477_10205210722821930_8429474734619608635_n“I went to my first Zero 1 show. The style of wrestling here is so different, but so much better. Fans still believe cause the strong style leaves no room for disbelief.

“Sei Ozawa, a T-shirt maker Mad Man Pondo introduced me to, took me out to Mr. Danger’s Steakhouse. By far the best steak I have ever had. (Note to all Americans. Thank god for spoons! You don’t know how lucky you are until you try to eat corn with chopsticks.)

“It has been a great experience so far. I am learning a whole new psychology in the ring that I plan on utilizing back in the States, and I think fans there will be very happy with it. I thank everyone for the love and support I have had while here and want you all to know that when I come back, it will be a whole new Louisville Slugger.”

Follow Austin on Facebook, or read more about him and today’s young indy stars in Eat Sleep Wrestle.

A Louisville Slugger in Japan – Day 4

12321531_10205197641614908_5477800021871695730_n“Day 4 in Japan. Today was our day off, but here is the trick….. There are no off days. I woke up. Dman and I cooked up some beef and rice and headed straight for the dojo. 2 hours of weight lifting. Followed by going home and eating, taking a nap. Wake up from our nap. Back to the dojo for lifting session number 2. Then we went home ate again, and now as I write this we are waiting for the stardom dojo to finish there training for lifting session number 3. Not the most exciting day, but we are putting in work.”

Follow Austin Bradley’s journey in Japan here and on his Facebook page!

A Louisville Slugger in Japan – Day 3

Update from Austin, who got to watch the NXT Dallas special with Masato Tanaka, who tweeted the photo below of Austin and several other trainees staying up late for the show.

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“Day 3 in Japan. Day 2 of training. The training is tough, but the dojo is like a family. We live together, eat together train together and wrestle together. Everyone has been very open and helpful. I have learned so much in just one day.

“Wrestling here is 100% different than the states. Everyone does their part, from the young boys to the gaijin all the way to the veteran Japanese wrestlers. It’s a great atmosphere.

“Exploring the city and temples was amazing. There is so much to experience here and so much to learn. Its still crazy to me that I’m here. I woke up this morning and could not believe where I was and what I am doing. I am humbled and honored to have this opportunity.

“A few people for people state side too look up. D-man (Canada) Shaun Guinness (Ireland).”

Austin’s posting photos on his Facebook page daily. Click here to follow him and see what he’s been up to!

A Louisville Slugger Goes to Japan

12933161_10205176880695898_5009942621430150466_nAustin Bradley just turned 22, and he’s fulfilling a dream he’s had since he was five. This morning before most of you were awake, he boarded a plane in Louisville for the first leg of his first ever journey to Japan. Austin will spend the next three months working for Zero One Wrestling in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Austin approached me last fall and asked if I’d be willing to share his story. Many American wrestlers ave chronicled their trips to Japan, but Austin hopes to be the first to share his as it happens. If all goes well, Eat Sleep Wrestle will be sharing updated a few times a week from Austin to his fans back home.

Please bookmark this page to keep up with Austin’s travels. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @johncosper and follow the Eat Sleep Wrestle Facebook page.

You can also read more about Austin and his early days in the business in the book Eat Sleep Wrestle, available on Amazon.com.