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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.

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.

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Why Wait? It’s Black Friday Now!

The Eat Sleep Wrestle office Christmas tree went up two weeks ago. So why wait to order wrestling books for Christmas?

Our website is the only place online to get these books signed. Click here to visit the book shop, and use the coupon code blackfriday to save 20% on your order.

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Stayin’ Alive

I heard from Tracy Smothers today. He told me it was gonna be all right.

A year ago, when Tracy passed, I was in the midst of writing Chris Candido’s biography. Tracy’s the one who told me I had to write a book about Candido, and whenever we talked, I’d give him an update on the book. About a week before he passed, Tracy told me he kept hearing Chris’s entrance theme “Back in Black” in different places. He felt like it was Chris talking to him, telling him everything was going to be okay. Two days before he passed, he left me a voice mail telling me he’d just heard the song again on ESPN. “I told you,” he said. “It’s Chris!”

This morning I went in for an EGD and a colonoscopy. Both were first time, preventative scans, but they were prompted by my father’s death in March. He went into the hospital on February 19 not feeling well. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer on his birthday, February 28. He passed on March 7.

The scans found nothing urgent, but the doctor confirmed I’ll need to get scanned a little more frequently. As I waited for them to unhook me in recovery with my wife, I heard a song coming from the radio at the nurse’s station. It was “Stayin’ Alive.”

No, it wasn’t the N Trance rap version Tracy used, but it was enough for me. I told my wife, “It’s Tracy. He’s saying it’s all gonna be all right.”

I miss him every day. I miss my father too. Tracy was in my life only a few years, but both of those men left a big hole. It was good to hear from him and to know, it’s all gonna be okay.

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How Do You Remember Tracy Smothers?

I’ve been dreading this day for a while. As fate would have it, I ended up this morning in the same building I was in a year ago, when Mad Man Pondo called and told me the news. Tracy Smothers was gone.

I only knew Tracy for two years, and just one when we were close. But the man left an impact on me as he did everyone else he met. Tracy had the biggest heart. he was an encourager. He was a teacher. He was a father figure to many. He was a true friend.

The question I started asking after lunch today was how can we best honor his memory? Sharing stories? Heck yes. Sharing videos? Yes, please! But here’s one thing more we can all do: do as Tracy did.

Tracy was always there when someone wanted advice. He never hesitated to teach those who wanted to be taught. He was an encourager. He was a counselor. He was a friend. Even with all the chair shots he took, he never forgot anyone. He followed up with people. He texted to lift people up when they were down. He’d call just to say hello.

For everyone that new Tracy, here’s the challenge. Let’s love like he did. Let’s share our wisdom. Let’s share knowledge. Let’s do so in the same positive, encouraging way he always did.

Let’s reach out to people who are down. Let’s give them a laugh on text or their voice mails. Let’s let them know we are thinking about them.

Let’s make connections too. Give a ride to someone. Introduce someone to someone who can help them. If you’ve read Chris Candido’s book, you have Tracy to thank. Without him, I’d have never met Jimmy Shoulders and Jonny Candido.

We miss his work. We miss the way he wrestled and the way he made us laugh. But I think we can all agree, we miss the way he loved us and everyone he met. Do something good for someone today. Teach. Encourage. Inspire. Or just love on someone. Do it for Tracy. Lord knows he did it for us every day we had him with us!

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Casting Star Wars with Wrestling Personalities

Today is May the 4th, which has come to be known as Star Wars Day. Those who know me well know that Star Wars has been an obsession of mine longer than pro wrestling. It got me to thinking, how would I re-cast Star Wars with some of the people I have written about in pro wrestling?

Hurricane JJ Maguire as… Max Rebo

Sure, I could have gone with Figrin D’an, but I suspect the Hurricane would have found himself taking the more upscale booking at Jabba’s versus the cantina at Mos Eisley. Plus I want to hear JJ say, “Yes, Miss Snootles, we can take it from the top again.”

Princess Victoria as… Princess Leia

A bit obvious? Yes, and she’ll be disappointed that once again, she’s cast as the babyface. But like Cinderella, the space slipper fits. Nobody tells Princess Leia what to do, just as nobody tells Princess Victoria what to do!

Tracy Smother as… Yoda

A man who poured himself into many young pro wrestlers over the last few decades could easily be cast as Obi Wan, but Obi Wan only had two pupils. Yoda trained countless Jedi, and the Smothers family is now legion across pro wrestling.

Scott Romer as… Han Solo

With that camera strap always over his shoulder, one could draw a direct comparison to Chewbacca, but let’s be honest. Romer was a survivor, a hustler, and a ladies man. Plus think of all the great Romer pics of him posing with Lando, Jabba, and the glitterati of the galaxy.

Mad Man Pondo as… Boba Fett

As we all learned to our great delight in The Mandalorian, Boba survived the ultimate death match against the Sarlacc Pit. Can’t you see Pondo vs. Terry Funk fighting it out on a skiff in a no rope, loser falls in the Sarlaac Pit match? It would be the biggest draw on Tatooine since Anakin vs. Sebulba.

Chris Candido as… Luke Skywalker

Chris Candido was a natural heel, just as Victoria was, but I have to go wth Luke. Why? Well, people said Chris was a little short for a WWF Superstar, and we all know Luke was a little short for a Stormtrooper.

Dr. D David Schultz as… Darth Vader

“Oh you think the Dark Side is fake, do ya?” John Stossel better be glad Dr. D wasn’t a Sith. He’d have never left MSG alive that night in 1984! Chris Candido would have gotten a kick out of being booked opposite one of his heroes, and just think how awesome those Dr. D promos would sound in James Earl Jones’s voice.

Click the photos above to order the books!

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Free Shipping for Cyber Week!

This week only, get free shipping in the US when you use the coupon code “cyberweek” at checkout.

Offer is valid through Sunday, December 6.

Visit the book shop to order your signed copies of Bluegrass Brawlers, The Ballad of Cousin Elvira, The Original Black Panther, Memoirs of  Mad Man, and of course, If You Don’t Buy This Book, Everybody Dies!

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The Legacy of Tracy Smothers

I got a call from Mad Man Pondo just after 10 a.m. this morning. That’s when I found out Tracy Smothers had passed away. Pondo let me know that the word wasn’t officially out yet. They were still telling friends and family. Given that Pondo was telling me two hours after he found out, I couldn’t help but remember one of Tracy’s many famous lines.

“Tell a friend, telephone, tell a wrestler.”

Tracy was a funny man. He was a strong man, strong enough to fight three bears, survive riots at the ECW arena, escape bar fights in Southeast Asia, and even whip cancer. Sadly, cancer came back for the rematch, and the toll it took on his body in the first fight proved to be just too much for him to carry on with this fight.

I’m going to miss him. I’m going to miss his phone calls when we talked about football and politics. I’m going to miss his texts and hearing him repeat some of his favorite stories. I’m really sad he won’t be around to see the Candido book in print because he’s the reason I started writing it.

I’m incredible grateful I got to know Tracy. I will be honest, I was afraid to approach him in my early years writing about the business. He was a legend, and I have a hard enough time approaching the future legends to say, “Hello, my name is…” It’s silly when I think about it because the biggest impression I took away from watching him at D1W in New Albany (outside his amazing dance steps, of course) was what he did during all the matches that preceded his on every show.

Tracy watched every match. Every single one. And as I later found out, he didn’t just watch. Any guy or girl who wanted feedback got it. It was positive. It was encouraging. It made them better.

Fans who know Tracy Smothers from his days with SMW, WCW, ECW, and the indies know what a remarkable legacy he built inside the ring, but the guys and ladies who worked the indies the last two decades will tell you his greatest legacy is one most fans don’t know. It’s the way he poured his heart into the aspiring wrestlers he met in the gyms, the warehouses, the skating rinks, and everywhere else he wrestled these last twenty years.

Tracy’s legacy is ladies like Jessie Belle, who many people to this day believe is his real daughter. (Sorry, didn’t mean to break kayfabe.) It’s in Mickie Knuckles, another Smothers daughter who earlier today described Tracy as the only true father figure she ever knew. It’s in Amazing Maria, Khloe Belle, and all the other Smothers daughters he took under his wing.

His legacy includes guys like CM Punk, who tweeted earlier about Tracy being the first legend he ever worked. It’s in Edge and Christian who found a caring mentor who poured himself into them when they first came to the States. It’s in Mr. Brickster. It’s in Corey Storm. It’s in every young guy and lady who worked in the locker room with him at ASW, AIW, IWA Mid-South, D1W, KZW, and other promotions too numerous to mention.

Tracy’s generosity extended far beyond the locker room. He was always available to anyone by phone, text, or Messenger. (He never had an email address that I know of.) He remembered the kids who wanted his counsel, and he kept tabs on them. He reached out when he saw them have a great match. He boosted their spirits when he heard they’d been hurt.

To fans he was Tracy. To the wrestlers he was “Pops.” He loved his kids more than he did wrestling, and when he left us this morning, he did so having left everything in the ring and the locker room.

Tracy’s impact will be felt for years to come in this business. He left a wonderful collection of matches for us to enjoy, but more than that, he left a piece of himself in every man and woman who ever asked him, “Hey, did you see my match?” You’re damn right he saw your match, and if you were willing to listen, Pops would encourage you, make you better, and keep tabs on you online and on the road.

I’m so sad that he’s gone. I’m going to miss him, but I know he loved the Lord, and I trust I will see him again one day. I’m happy he’s no longer suffering, and I’m excited to see all these Smothers kids carry on his legacy.

Until we meet again, rest in peace, my friend.

(Photo above by Jim Cornette.)

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Update on Tracy Smothers

I just got off the phone with Tracy Smothers. His first round with cancer is starting to look like a squash match compared to the second.

For those who don’t know, his cancer has come back, and the fight is already facing two major obstacles. One, he suffered heart damage due to the heavy chemo in round one, and he’s been hospitalized a few times as a result of that. Two, he also just had surgery nine days ago for a hernia.

Tracy’s ready to fight this cancer as hard as he did last fall, but the heart problems have delayed the cancer treatments and the hernia issue has delayed doctors from treating the heart issues. He’s in a real battle.

Tracy is in it to win it, and he sends his love to all his friends and his wrestling family, and he is asking for prayers.

Tracy also asked me to plug his book, the Go Fund Me, and all the benefit show in Bartonville, Illinois this weekend raising money for his medical expenses. You can find links to all that below:

Order Tracy’s book on Amazon.com

Order Tracy’s book signed from Eat Sleep Wrestle.

Go Fund Me organized by Lincoln Mosely.

October 31 Benefit show in Bartonville, IL

If nothing else, please click here to go to Tracy’s Facebook page. Leave him a note and let him know you’re rooting for him.

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Pre-order Your Copy of Tracy Smothers’ Book!

Eat Sleep Wrestle is proud to present the autobiography of the one and only, Tracy Smothers!

He’s been hired and fired from every major wrestling company. He’s wrestled all over the United States, in Mexico, and Asia. He’s held multiple tag team belts and heavyweight championships. He’s been a top guy and a jobber. He’s been a hero, a villain, and a mentor to countless young wrestlers of the last two generations. He pinned legends. He defeated cancer. And yes, he wrestled three different bears.

Few wrestlers have logged as many miles as Tracy Smothers, and even fewer have made the impact he has on today’s young stars. Now for the first time, Tracy reveals how a promising young athlete Springfield, Tennessee, who once aspired to be a high school football coach found himself at the center of a fan riot in Mexico City and a bar fight in Malaysia. He talks about the last days of the territories, the rise of the Wild Eyed Southern Boys and the Young Pistols, his star turn in Smoky Mountain, his jobbing days in WWF, life-changing concussions, the FBI in ECW, and the dance contests in the indies. You’ll hear harrowing tales about bounty hunting, delivering pizzas, and yes… going toe to toe with the legendary Ginger the Wrestling Bear.

Tracy Smothers doesn’t care if you love him. He doesn’t care if you think he sucks. He doesn’t even really care if you read his book. There’s only one thing you need to know right now. If you don’t buy this book, EVERYBODY DIES!

If you want to get a signed copy of Tracy’s book you can now pre-order one through the book shop on this our website. Books are expected in early April. That said, with the current COVID-19 situation we cannot guarantee when they will ship. Tracy and I live 2 hours apart, but we will make every effort to get together as soon as books arrive so we can ship them to everyone who pre-orders.

Click here to pre-order a signed copy.