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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.

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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!

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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:


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.

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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.

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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

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Ashley America Retires

One of the stars of Girl Fight, the all women’s wrestling shows taking the Midwest storm, has called it a career.

The Women’s Pro Wrestling Network reported today that Ashley America, who recently began working under the name Aura Shackra, is retiring due to health concerns. Here’s the announcement, straight from Ashley herself:

“I have made a decision and I am sticking with it. I can no longer continue to wrestle. I have had a lot of concussions. A lot. Someone I used to train with used to pound me in the head so hard that I would see stars, and when I told people what was happening, they laughed at me. Because of this abuse I became extremely susceptible to concussions. The most recent one I received, my vision went black, I saw pixels of color, and I couldn’t feel my feet. Since then I have been experiencing mood swings, having a hard time focusing, and dizziness/nausea. I simply cannot risk getting another concussion. It’s not worth it. I’ve learned a lot from wrestling, a lot of painful lessons. I don’t need to learn what happens when I’ve had too many concussions. I need to be able to live my life. Thank you to everyone who helped me and believed in me during this time of my life. This chapter is over. It’s time for a new project.”

It’s hard to see people walk away from their dream due to injury, especially when the injury might have been promotable, but it’s commendable that Ashley make the choice she has. Wishing her nothing but the best in her future pursuits. She will be missed.

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Joey Ryan Proposes to Laura James

There aren’t too many firsts in wrestling any more, but I’m pretty sure this one is.

In the middle of their intergender match, Joey Ryan paused to propose to his girlfriend Laura James – who also happened to be his opponent.

Three things I love about this video. (1) I’m a romantic, so I love original wedding proposals. (2) The ref sells his injury all the way through the proposal. (3) The finish. I won’t spoil it, but it’s lovely.

Congrats, Joey and Laura. Someone cue up Jim Johnston’s “Together.”

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A Modest Proposal to Indy Promoters

Humbly submitted for all you aspiring wrestling promoters out there, here’s a simple plan from an observer and budding wrestling historian that will turn your fledgling promotion into a must see attraction.

Identify the biggest heel in your territory. This isn’t as simple as it sounds because the biggest heel in your territory isn’t one of your guys. Your heels are still your guys, and your fans know they’re only playing the heel because that’s what they’re booked to do.

The biggest heel in your territory is the guy running shows six blocks away from you. Yes, that guy, the one who is constantly trashing you on Facebook, the one whose fans flame you on Twitter, the one who has stolen some of your guys. He’s the one true heel in your territory because he’s the one who draws the ire of your fans every time he attacks you on social media.

And yes, that means that you, in turn, are the biggest heel in HIS territory as well. You following me? Good. Now, let’s move on to step two:

Arrange a meeting with your newly identified top heel. Do it in secret. Do not make this public, and do not meet in public. Don’t even tell your workers. Get together, shut the door, and don’t come out until you hammer out an agreement that will allow you to work together.

Yes, together. That means you’re going to have to compromise, and that means you will have to give things up – including possibly a percentage of what you’re earning. Give it up, because in the end, everyone involved will be taking home more cash.

Once you’ve worked out an agreement, leave the room and go back home as if nothing happened. You’re ready for phase three.

Escalate your public feud. Fan the flames on Twitter, Facebook, and every platform you have available. Send some of your guys to invade one of his shows – or better yet, open the door to let HIS guys invade yours.

I know it sounds crazy, but when his guys hit the ring and attack your top heel and babyface, they will leave that building with a hundred times more heat than your best heels could ever hope to ignite the way things are now. They have violated your ring. They crashed your party, interrupted your main event, and left your guys lying on their backs. Your fans will want blood, and when you repay tit for tat, his fans will be calling for blood as well.

This part of the plan can go for weeks or even months. Take your time, let it build, and when your fans reach the boiling point, you move on to phase four.

Go Big. Get a bigger hall. Double the ticket prices. Put on the biggest show your town has ever seen. Your guys versus his guys. You have now, in effect, created something wrestling fans have never seen. You have created something real. This isn’t sports entertainment. This is good versus evil, us versus them. You have led your fans to suspend disbelief without their consciously deciding to do so. You have recreated what once made wrestling truly great.

I don’t know if anyone out there has the guts to even try this. I know how it goes when promotions have “heat” with one another, and I know pride is a hard thing to get over. But with everyone else moving to a more comic book, scripted, staged type of presentation, wouldn’t it be great to see someone make things genuinely feel REAL again?

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The Heroic Choice of John Wayne Murdoch

The last time I saw John Wayne Murdoch, he was falling backwards through a table on the shoulders of Shane Mercer from the top turnbuckle. Murdoch is as hardcore as they get. There’s no bump, no height, no foreign object that scares him. But of all the brave things John Wayne Murdoch has done in the ring, none compare to what he did last week.

Just a few days after the great Daniel Bryan announced his retirement due to concussions, Murdoch announced his departure from the same business. It may not be retirement for Murdoch just yet, but it will at least be an extended absence. Like Bryan, Murdoch is suffering from severe post-concussion symptoms. It scared him enough to go to the doctor, and the doctor’s diagnosis convinced him he needs a break from the business he loves dearly.

John Wayne Murdoch does not have an “angel” like Bryan has in Vince McMahon. There’s no billionaire promoter paying him not to wrestle. He has made this impossible choice on his own, and he deserves all the credit in the world for doing so.

As much as we know about the human body, especially the brain, there’s no bravery in fighting through head injuries. No matter how high your tolerance for pain may be, it’s not worth it to continue destroying something that can never recover from the damage caused by concussions. There are plenty of ways to stay involved in pro wrestling that no one should continue working past such a dangerous point of no return.

If you see John Wayne Murdoch at a show or on social media, thank him for all he has given to the business, then honor him by sharing his story with someone else. No one wants to see a promising wrestling career cut short, but we need more men like Daniel Bryan and John Wayne Murdoch to show the world that there are some things more important than stepping into the ring.

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Pondo for President?

My local wrestling community is a house divided.

Some are fans of Kentuckiana Diehard Wrestling. They have had their issues lately, namely losing their booker and some of the veteran talent, but their fans remain fiercely loyal.

Some are fans of Underground Wrestling Alliance. They’ve had some issues as well, including a big blow up with their TV producer, but their talent and their fans remain steadfastly loyal.

There’s also the Furious Wrestling Society. They haven’t had any issues that I know of, but like the others, they have a galvanized fan base that loves what they do.

And then there’s IWA Mid-South. Ian Rotten just lost his building – again – because someone tried to shut him down – again. Folks, you’re never going to shut Ian down. He’s too stubborn, and he loves the business too much. He’s been kicked out of more buildings than the people trying to shut him down have worked. He will rise again, and his Kool-Aid drinking followers will be there.

Almost none of the above mentioned folks get along, especially in the consequence free realm of cyberspace. And yet for one night, members of all four promotions and their fans came together under one roof to see Girl Fight. They came. They supported the ladies. They coexisted, and no one got into a fight.

Mad Man Pondo is the man behind Girl Fight and the unlikely broker of one night of peace in Southern Indiana wrestling. If Pondo can bring peace to warring factions on a small scale, perhaps he could do the same for our country. Hillary, Donald, Bernie, Ted… no matter who your candidate is, they are only going to divide us further.

We need change.

We need unity.

Pondo for President, anyone?