Cool to wake up this morning and see OVW and The Black Panther Jim Mitchell mentioned in the weekly email newsletter from the Frazier History Museum.
A few years ago, I donated some items from my personal Jim Mitchell collection to the Frazier. They’ve got programs, photos, posters, and even a pair of Mitchell’s boots, as shown in the video below.
Brian West, a teaching artist at the Frazier, does a wonderful job recapping the history of wrestling in Louisville before delving into the Netflix series, Wrestlers. If you haven’t watched it already, The seven-part doc us available to watch on Netflix, and if ratings are high enough, a second season is a distinct possibility.
Wrestlers has made Haley J, Cash Flo, Amazing Maria, Mahabali Shera, and more bigger stars in the wrestling world and the reality TV world. It’s exciting to see so many long-time friends getting screen time, seen by millions of Netflix subscribers around the world.
The Frazier History Museum is a wonderful place to visit if you love history. Some highlights of their collection include a pair of pistols that belonged to General Custer and Teddy Roosevelt’s “big stick” hunting rifle. Visit Frazier’s website for more information.
You can read Brian West’s write up in the newsletter by clicking here.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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: