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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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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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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.