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The Hottest Feud at OVW Is Not Between Two Wrestlers

Gracie vs. Joe Mack at OVW.

On September 28 in Davis Arena, four tag teams locked up this week in a Four Corners match. Luke Kurtis and Joe Mack of the OVERmen, the current tag team champions, came out to the commentary desk. Luke put on a headset, while the 6’7″ Joe stood tall behind him looking tough.

Along came Gracie.

If you haven’t seen Wrestlers on Netflix, Gracie is the pint-sized girl leaning out the window of a car telling Joe, “You’re a baby!” Every fan, wrestler, and OVW staff member knows and loves Gracie. She’s one of many kids who love to get high fives from the babyfaces and tell the heels they suck.

My daughter Lydia and I were in the second row behind the announcers this week. To be honest, we didn’t see much of the tag match because we were watching the unsanctioned match happening a few feet in front of us.

“You’re a baby!”

“No, you’re a baby!”

“You’re a baby!”

“You’re a baby!”

The action in this epic war of words began during a commercial break, when Luke, Joe, and the first few tag teams made their entrance. By the time we were back to live action, Gracie had back up. Six kids in total joined in the shouting match, watching signs and thumbs down at Joe.

You could see on his face Joe was struggling to keep it together. He loves this as much as the kids. He was also a bit concerned about not being on his mark, doing what he had come out to do. Still in character, he tried pleading with the kids to go back to their seats, even whining to them at one point like a toddler, “You’re gonna get me in trouble.”

Before it was over, Joe had challenged Gracie to a hair vs. hair match and vowed not to give any of the kids candy if they came to his house on Halloween.

Joe Mack is a stud. He’s got the look. He’s got the size. He’s going to be a star, and he’s going to be a world champion. But when the story of his career is written down one day, the first – and perhaps greatest – rival in his career will certainly be Gracie.

Referee Aaron Grider proposed a slogan: Gracie 3:16 says, “You’re a Baby.”

Here are a few other notes from this past week:

Everybody Hates Tony. 

The boo birds came out for the usual suspects all night, but man, “Superior” Tony Evans is not a popular guy. He’s hit on something big with his “HUSH!” gimmick, and his feud with Crixus is far from over.

OVW is definitely not your father’s (or mother’s) OVW, but Tony, Luke Curtis, Will Austin, Joe Mack, and others are proof this company is not done developing talent.

Everybody Loves Cash and Haley J. 

Without a doubt, the two most over people in the building now are Cash Flo and Haley J. Cash has delivered two solid, thrilling matches in a row. Haley hasn’t wrestled the past two weeks, but any time she makes a run in to confront the Bad Girls Club, the fans go nuts.

Jessie Godderz topples Jack Vaughn.
Jessie Godderz topples Jack Vaughn.

Jack vs. Jessie Was a Classic. 

Introductions for the main event started before 8:30 pm. It didn’t last ’til the end of TV time, but Mr. Pec-Tacular Jessie Godderz and The Veteran Jack Vaughn went more than 20 minutes. Either one of these guys could hang with the best in the industry, and it’ll be interesting to see which of the main event talents gets picked off in the coming months.

My money’s on Shera. No spoilers here, but he’s not going to be with the OVERmen for much longer. He’s too popular after Wrestlers on Netflix to keep him as a heel.

I Miss Shaloncè Royal. 

No elaboration here. I’m just putting it out there. I miss Shaloncè. She hasn’t been on the show for a bit, nor has her surprisingly over attorney, PJ. I think the world of her as a wrestler and as a human being.

If you missed my interview with her on Slam last year, you can read it here. We talked for over an hour, and less than half of the call was about wrestling. We talked a lot of opera. I really want to see her succeed in the ring, almost as much as I want to hear her sing “Musetta’s Waltz.”

Babyface Turn Masterclass.

If you want to see how you turn the most hated man in the company into a hero, go back and watch the last several weeks of OVW, starting with the August pay-per-view, The Big One. Actually, go back further. To the beginning of summer. Watch how they slowly sow the seeds of trouble between Jessie Godderz and EC3. Watch how things accelerate after EC3 wins the NWA World Championship.

The fans booed, but timidly, the night The Faction turned on Jessie and became the OVERmen.

A few timidly cheered Jessie the next week.

A few more the next.

They exploded when Jessie jumped Jack last night.

Shannon the Dude helped seal the deal Thursday – the same night Jessie showed up at the gimmick tables selling merch.

OVW preaches old school storytelling and psychology. They practice what they preach. The next time Jessie starts up with, “As I was saying…” I expect the fans to say it with him.

For the second week in a row, OVW was a sell out on September 29. Tickets for the next TV taping on October 5 are selling fast, as are seats for the Oct 21 “No Rest for the Wicked” PPV. (Tip: if you subscribe to FITE, the PPV is included with your subscription!”)

Long story short, if you want to see Ohio Valley Wrestling, you better buy seats in advance. This Netflix bump is not ending soon!

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Why You Should Come to OVW Live

Amazing Maria vs Haley J at OVW. Photo by Lloyd Thomas.

For the last year, I’ve watched very little wrestling on TV.

I used to hit the gym every Wednesday and Friday night, partly to catch AEW. It’s not a priority any more. I go when it fits my schedule, and if wrestling’s on I’ll watch it… sometimes.

I watched the Royal Rumble in January. I’ll never miss that. And I think I watched Wrestlemania. The “I think” in that statement shows how memorable it was.

And I watched Forbidden Door this summer, thought more to see the New Japan stars than anything. Daniel Bryan’s got some paybacks coming from Okada…

It wasn’t until recently I realized why I watch so little TV wrestling. I’ve been getting my fix almost weekly at Davis Arena. I’ve been a regular over a year now, and my daughter’s been coming with me for almost ten months. I get two solid hours of live wrestling every week, action that’s good enough, I don’t need another fix.

Wrestling is subjective, and not every promotion is for everyone. The WWE-only Marks and the AEW-only Marks are proof of that. So I get it, OVW is not going to be for everyone either.

But I’m willing to bet it’s exactly what many of you have been looking for.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is not your father’s OVW. This is not a school of wrestling. It’s not developmental. It’s a professional wrestling territory based in Louisville, Kentucky with a worldwide fan base. They’re on lesser-known networks than the big two, but they’re also on more TV channels in more time slots every week than either WWE or AEW.

The roster is not green by any stretch. They have some brilliant young talent for sure, but they’re mixing it up every week with long-time veterans. Cash Flo, Jessie Godderz, Hy Zaya, Mahabali Shera, Tony Gunn, Adam Revolver, Omar Amir, Truth Magnum, Turbo Floyd, Jack Vaughn, Big Zo. Any one of the above could step into the ring and hold their own against the best in the world.

They’re also more committed to women’s wrestling than any major promotion outside Impact. Netflix star Maria James has assembled a tremendous women’s locker room, and there’s huge potential for the future in girls like Haley J, Freya the Slaya, Shalonce Royal, Tiffany Nieves, Jada Stone, Arie Alexander, and Leila Gray.

There are so many more names I could drop, names I want you to look up or better yet, come see in person: Eric Darkstorm, Deget Bundlez, Luscious Lawrence, Crixus, Tony Evans, Luke Kurtis, Joe Mack Gnarls Garvin, Ryan Von Rockit, and my daughters favorite, Kal Herro. I want you to hear the joy in Eric Cornish and Linda Kay’s voices as they introduce each wrestler. I want you to feel the energy at the announcer’s desk radiating from Brian Kennison, Steven Johnson, and Josh Ashcraft.

I want you to come see OVW live.

If you haven’t watched the documentary on Netflix yet, by all means, check it out. It’s a great watch, and a love letter to professional wrestling. You’ll come away with a deeper appreciation for the hard work that goes into running a wrestling territory, especially in modern times.

And I’m betting many of you will want to come see for yourself what Al Snow is cooking down here in Louisville.

Get your tickets in advance at www.ovwrestling.com.

If you know any OVW talent, slide into their DMs and see if they have a discount code for your ticket.

Come early, and as I mentioned on Slam, go grab a Cuban sandwich at Mi Sueno on Bardstown Road.

Davis Arena is located at 4400 Old Shepherdsville Road in Louisville. It’s easy to drive past because it’s set back from the road in an industrial area surrounded by similar-looking metal buildings. There’s usually a sign out by the road, but your best bet is to plug it into your Map app and trust Siri when she says, “Turn right into the parking lot.”

Get there by 6:30 so you don’t miss the dark matches. And so you can get a decent parking spot.

Bring money for concessions and merch. You can actually pick up a copy of Bluegrass Brawlers from Miss Becky!

And if you have one, bring a seat cushion. Those metal chairs are pretty stiff.

In the words of OVW legend Dean Hill, “See you at ringside.”

Featured photo by Lloyd Thomas Photography. 

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Meet the Cast of Wrestlers on Netflix

Wrestling fans are going to want to know more when Wrestlers arrives on Netflix next week. Who is Cash Flo? Why does Haley J look so familiar? Can Shalonce Royal really sing? And what’s the deal with those Outrunners?

I’ve got you covered.

Over the last year, I’ve written profiles on several personalities you’ll meet in Wrestlers. Here’s where you can find them:

Yes, Haley J should look familiar. She’s a member of the WOW roster along with her mother. Click here to meet Haley and Maria and their truck driving alter egos.

Shalonce can sing very well. In fact she sang the national anthem on an historic pay-per-view a few years back. Click here to learn Shalonce’s story.

Cash Flo is a three time OVW Champion and an indie legend. Read about his rise to become OVW champion late last year here.

How about that Jack Vaughn, Netflix and TikTok star? You can meet him here.

Let’s not forget the darlings of ROH and AEW, The Outrunners. This profile will make your head spin.

Did you know that Big Zo is a published author too? Read about Zo’s fantastic book here.

And I would NOT be doing my job if I left out my pal Charlene McKenzie. The woman in stripes at OVW has been a good friend for close to a decade now. She’s got her own wonderful origin story that you can read here.

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Wrestlers Brings OVW to Netflix

Jessie Godderz of Big Brother, OVW, and Wrestlers on Netflix.

“Wow. That’s a big camera crew.”

As I settled into my seat at Davis Arena on a warm August night in 2022, I couldn’t help noticing just how many cameras were around the arena. Normally, OVW has two video cameras at ringside, along with two still photographers, and the hard cam on the same side with concessions. There were more cameras, more cables, and more crew running around the building that night than I had ever seen.

By the end of the night, I’d know why. The extra cameras were for a documentary series being produced by Greg Whitely, whose past credits include Cheer and Last Chance U: Basketball. The crew spent the summer shadowing Ohio Valley Wrestling’s finest in and out of the Arena in preparation for the docuseries launching next week, Wrestlers.

To be honest, it wasn’t a well-kept secret. All of us who were in attendance knew it was coming. The only question was when. We finally got the answer right after OVW’s biggest show of the year, cleverly titled The Big One.

The house was packed for The Big One. Not shoulder to shoulder like it was in January for the Nightmare Rumble, but all four sides of the Arena were packed. Makes you wonder if Al Snow has a plan when the series airs and more fans want to catch the action live.

I’ve been as regular at OVW over as year now. My fifteen year old has been a regular since last November. I don’t watch much wrestling outside OVW, and I recently figured out why. I get my fix at OVW. I’m invested in the people and the stories. I see great matches and surprising plot twists every week. Outside my occasional trek East to see my friends at FTC, OVW is my regular fix!

Check it out for yourself on September 13. Then come join us at Davis Arena. This is not the OVW of old.

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Aaron Grider and Thee Faction Bite The Big One at OVW

The cake was absolutely lovely. Baked by Little Monsters Sweets, the two layer delicacy created for Aaron Grider and Freya the Slaya sat on a table close to the hard cam side of the ring. Opposite the table, AJ McKay waited to officiate the ceremony as the lovely Carolyn Dawson sang the wedding party to the ring.

There was no question on anyone’s mind as to whether this wedding would go smoothly. The only real mystery was who would go into the cake, and would they go face or butt first? This was, after all, a wrestling wedding, and they never end well.

The wedding kicked off OVW’s biggest show of the year, appropriately titled The Big One, and OVW went all out for the nuptials. Aaron and Freya even had a registry on The Knot, which I understand was full of Star Wars toys.

I won’t spoil what happened, because honestly, you need got go watch the whole show on Fite. Suffice to say, the wedding proved to be a great kick off for a fantastic event.

OVW usually packs a number of matches into their two hour TV tapings, but on this night, only four matches followed the wedding. As the name of the show suggests, they were all big ones:

The Outrunners and “The Machine” Doug Basham faced The Destroyers and Josh Ashcraft.

Crixus challenged “Superior” Tony Evans for the Kentucky Boy Brewing Company Heavyweight Championship.

Shaloncé Royal finally got her chance to face Haley J one on one for the OVW Women’s Championship.

And Team OVW faced THEE FACTION in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match.

The crowd was not the largest seen in Davis Arena this year, but the crowd that attended January’s Nightmare Rumble was hard to top. The crowd was red hot throughout the night and thankfully, the building was less hot than it has been the past few weeks, even with all those bodies.

Honestly, the crowd this summer have been more than double what they were a year ago. Word of mouth continues to spread that this is not the OVW of five or ten years ago. This is a new territory, a locker room filled with veterans and leaders who have all come to learn at the feet of the master Al Snow. This is old school, long term storytelling. This is a place where veterans like Cash Flo, Hy Zaya, Mahabali Shera, and more come to teach and be taught.

Again, no spoilers here. Only a very happy wrestling fan urging those who haven’t to check out the action. The Outrunners, as always, delivered a high energy match with two equally talented foes in Gnarls Garvin and Big Zo. Tony Evans proves over and over he is a talent on the rise while Crixus proves to be a force to be reckoned with. Shaloncé and Haley J are very different but stellar talents. And how about Shaloncé’s attorney PJ Jones? There were more signs in Davis Arena directed at him than the infamous Shannon the Dude tonight.

And then, came TLC.

Jessie Godderz demonstrated how much heat a little flex and a hoverboard can get you.

Cash Flo, Tony Gunn, Luscious Lawrence, Omar Amir, and Cal Herro faced off against Jessie Godderz, EC3, Mahabali Shera, Luke Kurtis, and Joe Mack in an absolutely melee. Luke Kurtis continues to prove he’s the best bumper in OVW, but Joe Mack takes the prize for the sickest looking bump not taken by a photographer. And what’s this friction happening between Jessie Godderz and EC3?

Sorry, I said no spoilers, right?

OVW boasts a number of talented performers who may be on the move sooner rather than later. The Outrunners certainly seem bound for a larger spotlight. Kurtis should not be far behind him. He bumps like Dolph Ziggler and Ricky Morton, and he’s an absolutely heat magnet. And Joe Mack? The dude has the look and the size to be something special.

All that being said, OVW sent a message last night. This promotion is no longer content with sending forth the superstars of tomorrow. The whole promotion looks poised for bigger things. Fans who were around last fall and summer have some hint as to what’s coming next for OVW, and it’s clear this roster is ready.

Only question is, is Davis Arena going to be big enough for what comes next?

OVW runs every Thursday night 7-9 pm at Davis Arena, 4400 Old Shepherdsville Road in Louisville. Visit www.ovwrestling.com for tickets.

The groom Aaron Grider and John Cosper. Because we take the darn pictures now.
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Meet OVW’s Finest on Slam!

Shalonce Royal at OVW. Photo by Pamela Barnett.

I haven’t been posting stories to this site very much lately. Part of that is just being busy, but another reason for my lack of content is the opportunity Sam! Wrestling has given me.

Greg Oliver at Slam! has long been a big help to me with research on my books, and over the last year, I’ve begun contributing stories to his website. A number of those stories profiled the stars of OVW, a subject near and dear to my heart. So for those who missed them, here’s where you can catch up:

Bow to the queen, and discover the lady behind OVW Women’s Champion Shalonce Royal

Relive Cash Flo’s recent rise to become a double champion

Meet Big Rig Betty and Holly Swag of WOW, aka OVW’s Amazing Maria and Haley J

Take a spin with OVW (and rising AEW!) fan favorites, The Outrunners

I’ve written a few other stories for Slam! as well. Here are two of the best:

AEW’s Kentucky Debut in Lexington

The story of 1880s intergender circus wrestler Ida Alb

A Memorial for my dear friend “Hurricane JJ” Maguire 

(Top photo: Shalonce Royal at OVW, taken by Pamela Barnett.)

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OVW Delivers Tough Love

Jessie Godderz

 

The calendar said Groundhog’s Day, but love was in the air at Ohio Valley Wrestling – at least for a few folks in the stands, who took advantage of OVW’s Valentines ticket packages that night. A packed crowd showed up to see some outstanding action, including two great hourly main events and another show-stealing performance by The Derby City Destroyers and The Outrunners.

In the time I’ve been a regular attendee at OVW, one of the most exciting things to see is the growth in the weekly crowd. Granted, Tough Love was the promotions “special event” for the month of February, but the seats were packed from one side of Davis Arena to the other for what had to be the third largest crowd of the year after the two Nightmare Rumble shows in January.

Last night’s crowd was particularly engaged and vocal. Maybe it’s the local brew or the local food now being served at the concession stand courtesy of Gorilla Bob’s Grub Shack, but last night’s crowd would chant anything – literally. At one point they actually chanted, “We’ll chant anything!”

The OVW roster gave them plenty to cheer about, from a frenetic rematch between Blanco Loco and Hy Zaya to the Rush Division Speed Rumble won by Kat Herro, to the first in what’s sure to be a classic series between Ryan Von Rockit and Star Rider.

The first hour ended with a long-anticipated clash between Hollyhood Haley J and the “fallen” Shawna Reed. Reed, who found herself stranded in the UK earlier this week, showed no sign of jet lag as she and Haley battled in and out of the ring in a no hold barred, no DQ match. With OVW Women’s Champ Shaloncé Royal on guest commentary, the ladies endured some wicked chair shots and suplexes on the outside of the ring, and when Haley took a face full of red mist from Shawna, it appeared to be over. Haley persevered, so Shawna tried again, this time misting referee Charlene in the face.

Desperate to steal a win from her foe, Haley grabbed Shawna and kissed her hard at the center of the ring. Dazed and stunned, Shawna then got a taste of her own medicine as Haley hit her in the face with mist and scored the win.

A pair of tag matches dominated the second hour action, including a two out of three falls contest between The Derby City Destroyers, Big Beef Gnarls Garvin and Biz Zo, and The Outrunners, Truth Magnum and Turbo Floyd. The Florida boys, most recently featured on AEW Dynamite against The Acclaimed (ahem, Tony Khan, just sign them already!) were taken by surprise before the bell even rang, and the referee awarded them a win for the first fall after Big Beef used a steel chair. A badly beaten Truth Magnum couldn’t even get to his feet after the early attack, and the second fall went to The Destroyers.

Honestly, the quick two falls felt like a cheat, but the action in the deciding fall made up for the quickness of the first two. As I mentioned on Twitter last night, I’ve seen OVW do homage to the famous Eddie Guerrero chair spot before, and last night, as before, they did it with a twist. Turbo Floyd shared video of his clever tactics on Twitter last night:

The Outrunners won the deciding fall, and Turbo scored a huge laugh with his ref massage, but it was Big Zo who got the biggest pop of the match. As Zo waited his turn to tag back into the match, the vociferous crowd taunted Zo about a slight wardrobe malfunction: “Fix your wedgie! Fix your wedgie!” Zo must have had his eye on the monitors because as soon as we went to commercial, he grabbed the spandex on his rear cheeks and pulled his trunks even tighter into his crack. The crowd ate it up. Zo didn’t even crack a smile as he adjusted himself in plenty of time for the feed to go live again. Mad respect to the big man.

The main event of the evening pitted Cash Flo against two members of OVW’s newest heel faction led by the infamous Jessie Godderz. Godderz himself took the ring with EC3 to face Cash and a partner of his choosing. Fans were elated when Tony “Don’t Call Him Mudd” Gunn made his long-awaited return to Davis Arena for the match.

Gunn was force to watch for most of the match as Cash took on both men, though not by choice. Godderz and EC3 cut the ring in half and gave the big man a rough go, keeping Gunn in the corner by refusing to allow the tag. With Shannon the Dude at ringside, the heels employed plenty of dirty tricks to keep the odds in their favor, but Cash was eventually able to spring free and give Gunn a chance to throw hands with EC3 and his bitter rival, Jessie Godderz.

Alas, a happy ending was not in the cards for Tough Love. This new faction, which also includes Mahabali Shera, Luke Curtis, and Adam Revolver, is proving to be almost unstoppable. Right after EC3 and Godderz got the win, Godderz took to the mike to run down the crowd and send them home even angrier. Then EC3 got on the mike, taunting the fans, asking where they were going and why they were so sad.

OVW truly stands out for their ability to tell a long term story, and much as the fans HATE this new alliance, they’re not going away any time soon. They already own three belts, and they’ve got their sights set on claiming all the gold. There are tag team titles to be won, along with the Country Boy Brewing Kentucky Championship. The tale of Haley J and Shawna Reed might – and I stress MIGHT – be over, but this new tale of domination from six dirty, cheating heels is just ramping up.

OVW is live every Thursday night at Davis Arena in Louisville and on FITE.

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School’s Out: The Evolution of OVW

In a last minute turn of events, I made my way to Ohio Valley Wrestling tonight for the live broadcast of television episode 1199. I’ve witnessed many TV tapings in Davis Arena since my first visit twenty years ago, and I saw some terrific action tonight. What struck me the most, however, is how different this OVW is from the OVW I used to know.

I still have a program from the first night I ever visited OVW. Kurt Angle was in the main event, and a number of WWE stars like Batista, Shelton Benjamin, Rob Conway, and The Bashams, were on the card. Outside of Angle, however, none of the above were Superstars at the time. They were students, wrestling on a televised program from a wrestling school. Yes, these were the Superstars of Tomorrow Today, but it still had the feel of a wrestling school program.

I don’t get that feeling in Davis Arena these days. OVW continues to evolve under new management, and it no longer feels like you’re watching wrestling in a wrestling school. Everything about OVW screams “territory.”

First of all, there’s the arena itself. From the lighting rigs above to the seating arrangements to the presentation itself, nothing screams “wrestling school.” It looks and feels like any other professional promotion. I take that back; it feels a cut above most wrestling promotions, including some others that are televised. This is Professional wrestling with a capital P.

Second, take a look in the ring. Can you identify the students? Are they the young ones in the ring? Or maybe the newer faces? Perhaps the officials, or maybe the television crew? Every OVW card is stacked with talented men and women including long-time independent stalwarts (Hi, Cash Flo!) and faces you’ve seen not just on wrestling TV but reality TV. (I see you, Jesse Godderdz!)

The matches do not feel like students vs. students. The storylines do not smell of amateur booking. Once again, OVW  presents Professional wrestling with a capital P.

Now truth be told, everyone backstage at OVW, save for one, is a student of OVW. From the wrestlers to the refs to the production team to the announcers, every man and woman has come to sit under the learning tree of Al Snow. Even Doug Basham, who made a cameo during tonight’s pull apart between Amazing Maria and her daughter Haley J, is a student here. Yes, he’s a former WWE Tag Team Champion. Yes, he’s now teaching the advanced class. But he will tell you how much he has learned from resident “Mr. Miyagi.”

Al Snow is a born teacher. His stated goal is that everyone who works for OVW will take what they learn and use it to reach their goals in pro wrestling. The testimony to Al’s genius is how very professional, how very “non-wrestling school” his burgeoning territory looks in person. OVW is run like a territory. The people working OVW are taught to perform as professionals. Every time I attend a show, OVW moves further and further away from their wrestling school roots.

OVW tours like a territory. They’ve been all over the state this summer, putting on house shows in big towns and small. They’re across the river in New Albany tomorrow night (August 5), and they’re back at Davis Arena Saturday (August 6) for a stellar card that includes a casket match, the return to action by Amazing Maria, and a special appearance by Scotty 2 Hotty.

And of course, OVW broadcasts not only locally, but internationally through Fite TV. OVW’s wrestlers and announcers receive fan mail (and email) from around the world. Every week, more and more eyes are on the long-running Louisville promotion, one that marks its 1200th episode in seven days. Tonight’s episode is worth catching on Fite and included some great tag team action with Jesse Godderdz and Tony Gunn, a hard-hitting eight man match at the very end, and some fun video segments with Freya the Slaya and my old pal from the Three Blind Refs video, Aaron Grider.

OVW may not be in the same conversation as AEW, WWE, Impact, or New Japan, but the students of Al Snow have transformed what was once the nation’s top wrestling school into an honest-to-goodness, 21st century territory. Great things continue to happen at Davis Arena, and greater things are on the horizon for the students: in and out of Davis Arena.

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Bluegrass Brawlers Returns

It’s back, and better than ever.

The second edition of Bluegrass Brawlers is now available on Amazon, and for all you signed book lovers, it’s available to pre-order here as well. Revisiting my first wrestling book has been on my agenda for years. There were a few facts that needed to be corrected (like the demise of the Columbia Gym), and there were far too many stories left out of the original. The omissions weren’t intentional; the information just wasn’t as accessible as it is today.

Bluegrass Brawlers now includes almost 50% more text: filling in time gaps, expanding on stories that were all too brief, and covering the many changes that happened since 2014.

Just to give you a preview, here are some of the new stories included:

Steve Callaway, a long forgotten African American wrestling hero from the turn of the 20th century.

Promoter Abe Finberg, who booked wrestling at the Gayety Theater and later created a heavyweight wrestling promotion.

Promoter C.B. Blake and the Savoy Theater.

The feud between Blake, booker Heywood Allen, and the Kentucky State Board of Athletic Control, the first state institution that attempted to regulate wrestling.

Louisville fan favorite Jack Reynolds.

Gorgeous George comes to Louisville – and to dinner.

Wahoo McDaniel in Louisville in the early 1960s.

Phil Golden’s All Star Wrestling.

New Albany native Jeff Van Camp, better known in the ring as Lord Humongous.

A hilarious fan story about Flex Kavana, aka Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, courtesy of Michael Ewing from The Seated Senton.

Tales of the first class at Ohio Valley Wrestling.

The sale of OVW to Al Snow.

The rise of the Legacy of Brutality.

The growth of the indie scene in Southern Indiana.

Crazy Mary Dobson becomes Sarah Logan in the WWE.

The rise of women’s wrestling in Louisville and beyond.

I also conducted a number of interviews for the new edition, including “Lord Humongous” Jeff Van Camp, Al Snow, Billie Starkz, Bryan Kennison, Charlene McAnally, Hy Zaya, Cash Flo, Josh Ashcraft, Judi-Rae Hendrix, Rebecca Ann Bridget, Maria James, Haley J, Ryan Howe, Sierra, Doug Basham, Flash Flanagan, Sarah (Logan) Rowe, and Rico Costantino.

The book is also jammed with more photos, from Matty Matsuda to Billie Starkz, who you may notice is also on the cover.

Fans who can’t wait to grab a copy can click here to order on Amazon.

And fans who want to get a signed copy can click here to pre-order.

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Coming Soon: Bluegrass Brawlers, 10th Anniversary Edition

It’s been almost 10 years since I started writing about pro wrestling in December 2012. Okay, so that’s eleven months out, but what’s pro wrestling without a little exaggeration?

The book that started it all, Bluegrass Brawlers (2014), is no longer available on Amazon or Kindle. That’s because I’ve gone back to the beginning to create a new edition, a 10th anniversary edition, if you will.

Bluegrass Brawlers is getting a major overhaul. I spent the last several months compiling every wrestling result from 1880 through 1966, when Louisville went dark before the Memphis era. I also conducted more than a dozen new interviews including Jeff Van Camp, Al Snow, Billie Starkz, Bryan Kennison, Charlene McKenzie, Hy Zaya, Cash Flo, Josh Ashcraft, Judi-Rae Hendrix, Maria James, Haley J, Ryan Howe, and Doug Basham. And I still have a few more to go.

The original book covered four distinct eras: The Pioneers (1880-1920), The Allen Athletic Club (1935-1957), the Memphis era (1970-1997), and the OVW era (1996-2014). All four of those sections have been expanded, some by a little, some by a lot. I also expanded on the Dick the Bruiser era (touched only briefly in the 2014 edition), filled in the time gap between 1920-1935, and told the story of Louisville since 2014.

New stories covered in the new edition include:

Steve Callaway, a long forgotten African American wrestling hero from the turn of the 20th century.

Promoter Abe Finberg, who booked wrestling at the Gayety Theater and later created a heavyweight promotion.

C.B. Blake and the Savoy Theater.

The feud between Blake, booker Heywood Allen, and the Kentucky State Board of Athletic Control, the first state institution that attempted to regulate wrestling.

Louisville fan favorite Jack Reynolds.

Gorgeous George comes to Louisville – and to dinner.

Wahoo McDaniel in Louisville in the early 1960s.

Phil Golden’s All Star Wrestling.

New Albany native Jeff Van Camp, better known in the ring as Lord Humongous.

A hilarious fan story about Flex Kavana, aka Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Tales from the first students at OVW including Doug Basham and Nick Dinsmore.

The sale of OVW to Al Snow.

The rise of the Legacy of Brutality.

The growth of the indie scene in Southern Indiana.

Crazy Mary Dobson becomes Sarah Logan in the WWE.

And the rise of women’s wrestling in Louisville and beyond.

The new book includes a lot more photos and 50% (and counting) more written content. Thanks to a more professional layout, it’ll still be around 330 pages.

Last but not least, the book is getting a brand new cover. Artist Adrian Johnson, who did covers for Tracy Smothers and The Black Panther Jim Mitchell, is working on something really special.

The target release month is March. So far, it’s on schedule. I’ll announce more here and on my social media in the coming months!

This new edition has been a long time coming. It’s going to be special.