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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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Wahoo and Happy New Year!

We told everyone it would be January.

We got done early. So we released it early.

Just under the gun, the new Wahoo McDaniel biography is now available on Amazon. I partnered with Karen McDaniel on this one, and we gathered stories from dozens of friends and family. You’ll read tales from Greg Gagne, Baron Von Rashke, Jim Cornette, Wahoo’s sisters Dana and Margaret, and many more as we unspool the legend of Chief Wahoo.

Wahoo is already the #1 new release in Wrestling Biographies. You can order your copy by clicking here.

This was a busy year for Eat Sleep Wrestle. In addition to Wahoo, we published books by Chris Michaels and Mike Rodgers. We also released the biography of Chris Candido and Princess Victoria.

Coming in the first half of 2022: a new “top secret” book from Mad Man Pondo and a new edition of Bluegrass Brawlers. This second edition of the history of wrestling in Louisville will include expanded looks at the Allen Athletic Club and OVW as well as new stories about Phil Golden’s All-Star Wrestling, the Savoy Athletic Club, Abe Finberg and the Gayety Theater, long-forgotten African American hero Steve Callaway, New Albany’s own Lord Humongous, and many more.

The amazing Adrian Johnson, who did Tracy Smothers and Jim Mitchell’s book covers, is drawing a brand new cover for Bluegrass Brawlers version 2. It’s going to be amazing.

Not sure what shows I’ll be hitting yet, but I hope to do some events with Hurricane JJ Maguire, Mad Man Pondo, and Princess Victoria before this next year is out.

Happy New Year, everyone. And happy reading.

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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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Ella Screams Into OVW

Ella was on a hot streak in Girl Fight. She was unpinned in all her appearances, a staggering accomplishment in the promotion. After taking more than a year off, she has begun to make her presence known in new places.

Hollywood Haley J had her hands full with the scream queen this week. And I couldn’t be happier to see one of my favorite young stars back.

Keep an eye on Ella. She’s got the talent to go far. Oh yeah, read her novel too!

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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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Paradigm Pro Is Still Here!

PPW: So Far Gone

Jordan Rose summed up the mood in the Sellersburg American Legion Post on Friday night for all the fans in attendance at Paradigm Pro Wrestling’s January event. After losing their building just a few weeks before, thanks to a suspicious phone call placed to the nearby city of Clarksville, the powers that be at PPW were able to find a new home quickly. Not only were all the previously booked wrestlers in attendance, PPW likely drew a few extra fans thanks to the cash bar at the back of the room. In a spirit of defiance and pride, Rose directed his gaze at the steadi-cam perched on the announcer’s table and sent a message to the man or woman who not only evicted PPW from Malice Manor but managed to get Girl Fight’s most recent offering canceled:

“WE’RE STILL HERE!!!”

The recent incident is not the first one of its kind. Not in wrestling, not in Kentuckiana, certainly not in recent memory. It was just a few years ago that two more phone calls successfully shutting down IWA Mid-South at Jammerz Rollerdome while unsuccessfully attempting to close the Arena in Jeffersonville. The so-called snitch was identified as a rival promoter who has since vanished from the area, along with his promoter. The identify of this recent caller remains anonymous, and in all fairness, it could just as easily be a local do-gooder rather than a promoter will ill intent. Nevertheless, it’s worth sharing a thought I’ve spoken only privately up until now.

If you are running 5000 fans a week, you have a territory to defend.

If you are running under 200 a week, as all the local promotions on both sides of the river are, you do not have a territory. You have NOTHING to defend.

Run your shows, and let everyone else be.

Be thankful for the loyal fans you have, and remember – even out of those 200, at least half are patronizing the other guys too.

With all that said, let’s go to the show and talk a couple of highlights:

First, let’s talk about the Lost Boys. I’m thrilled to see Hoodfoot has connected with Adam Slade and what appears to be a great faction. If you get the chance to see (or book) this group, do it. Adam Slade, Bradley Prescott IV, Hoodfoot, and the rest are hungry, talented, and most of all – fun. These guys are fueled by a love of wrestling and entertaining. Great to see so many of them on the show.

I finally got to see Warhorse Friday night, and wow, that was a fun match with the aforementioned Bradley Prescott IV. I love this guy’s look, too. His promo photos remind me of Zartan. He’s got a great gimmick, and he really connects with the fans. I’ll go see him any day.

It was great seeing Reed Bentley again, but I have to admit, I’m questioning these stories he told me when we first met. Reed tells me he trained in an actual ring, but he spends so little time wrestling inside a ring, I don’t know if I believe him. Joking aside, it was fun seeing him in a singles match again. Much as I love him with John Wayne Murdoch (who I will get to) and their all-out wars as the Rejects, it’s nice to see both those guys show what they can do as singles.

Billie Starkz is a superstar in the making. The girl connects with the fans like another young lady I first saw wrestling locally back in 2014 who just made her third appearance in the Royal Rumble. She’s already where Crazy Mary was skill wise at that time, and she’s five years younger than Mary was at that time. Enjoy her while she’s young, fans. She won’t be in this area for very long once she hits 18.

Calvin Tankman is a monster. He is big, strong, agile, and OVER with the fans. Not sure why he is “unsigned” but that’s a status I would expect changes before the end of this year. 

The PPW title match went on second to last, which is what happens when you have John Wayne Murdoch scheduled in a street fight. The Duke of Hardcore can do no wrong in the eyes of fans around these parts, and everyone was thrilled to see the doors, steel chairs, and other implements of destruction set out for the main event. It’s almost a foregone conclusion in these moments that JWM is always going to win this type of match, and you could feel the shockwave ripple through the crowd when the referee counted three and raised the hand of…. Nolan Edwards? Yes!! It was Edwards who defeated John Wayne Murdoch in his own specialty match. Edwards has scored several huge wins as of late across the region against top stars, not the least of which was Kongo Kong, and now he has a huge statement win at PPW. PPW has already proven to be a launch pad for young stars, introducing fans to guys like Corey Storm and Ace Austin. Nolan Edwards is poised to have a breakout year in 2020. 

Oh, and speaking of break out stars, PPW fans better enjoy every chance they get to see Dominic Garrini up close. The bare-footed shooter has an invitation to the eight man tournament that kicks off the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame festivities this July in Waterloo, Iowa. Other competitors include Colt Cabana, Mad Man Fulton, Mr. Anderson, Gary Jay, and the man Garrini most wants to get his hands on – Ken Shamrock. This is a high profile tournament and an incredible opportunity for Garrini.

PPW will return to Sellersburg on March 27 for their next Heavy Hitters event. Fans who want to check out this outstanding and (so far) unkillable promotion can follow them on Facebook for more information.

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Midnight Girl Fight Returns Thanksgiving Eve

As soon as Halloween is over, I’m ready for Christmas. I was jamming to “Christmas in Hollis” right after I dropped my kids at a friend’s house to go trick or treating last Thursday night. I’ll have Christmas decorations sorted next weekend, my outside lights hung (but not yet lit) the following weekend, and five full sized Christmas lit and decked the weekend after that. And yes, I’m already rolling with purchasing Christmas presents.

That’s not to say I am overlooking the last week of November. No way! I’ll be up at 9 am Thanksgiving morning, watching the Macy’s Parade and preparing the creamed corn, the sweet potatoes, and the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner at my in-law’s house. But before that happens I’ll be staying up late Wednesday night to catch this year’s edition of Midnight Girl Fight.

“Pick Your Poison” is the theme for the second ever Thanksgiving Midnight Girl Fight, and the eight ladies competing on Wednesday November 27 beginning at 11:59 pm have all chosen a male tag team partner for the occasion. Eight intergender teams will compete in a winner take all tournament, and the lineup is stellar.

The Bomb Shelter will be in the house, with Randi West bringing husband Joseph Schwartz as her partner. Charlie Kruel has teamed up with Akira, and Girl Fight’s current number one contender Ella will be teamed up with Titan. Teen sweetheart Billie Starkz has chosen her IFHY stablemate Jonathan Wolf as her partner, and Wolf’s regular partner Shawn Kemp will be tagging with Allie Kat.

The newly crowned Shimmer champion Kimber Lee will be making her long-awaited return to Girl Fight for Pick Your Poison. In her corner is current Impact star and a member of the Rascalz, Zachary Wentz. Joseline Navarro has to be considered a heavy favorite given that her partner is none other than the powerful heavyweight Calvin Tankman, but it’s the final pairing announced today that will no doubt get the most attention. Girl Fight founder and Deathmatch Hall of Famer Mad Man Pondo has teamed up with a true Girl Fight legend. Making her long awaited return to the ring, after a year’s absence, it’s former Girl Fight champion Mickie Knuckles!

It’s anybody’s guess which poison paring will claim victory, but it’s a sure bet you will miss all the action if you wait until after the turkey is done to show up at the Arena. Midnight Girl Fight begins Wednesday night, the night before Thanksgiving, at 11:59 pm. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Mad Man Pondo on Facebook. Click here to visit his page and send him a message now!

 

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New Book Announcement: Grappling by Gaslight

It’s fitting that I am packing up a copy of Bluegrass Brawlers just purchased from my website tonight. Fitting because the first wrestling book I ever wrote has been the gift that keeps on giving. Not only did Bluegrass Brawlers lead to opportunities to work with Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin, “Dr. D” David Schultz, Mad Man PondoHurricane JJ Maguire, and Tracy Smothers, it inspired three more books on its own.

By the time I finished Bluegrass Brawlers, I knew I wanted to write at last three more books: one on Heywood Allen, one on Jim Mitchell, and one about the wrestlers of the 1880s. I wrote a thorough history of Heywood Allen’s promotion in the book Louisville’s Greatest Show, and I released Jim Mitchell’s biography The Original Black Panther earlier this year. Now, finally, there’s a book about the circus wrestlers and barnstormers of the 19th century on the way.

Grappling by Gaslight is not a history, but historical fiction based on the real life stories from the time. It’s a collection of five short stories inspired by the exploits of Ida Alb and her sister Mademoiselle Marcia; former slave Viro Small; strongman Robert Pennell and his rival Charles Flynn; and many more. I wanted to capture the spirit of the times, allowing readers to see these legendary wrestlers through the eyes of the fans, and early reviews have been very positive.

Grappling by Gaslight will be available by Christmas through this website and Amazon. It’s a short book, less than 110 pages of actual story, but it’s laced with romance, humor, and even a dash of murder. It’s going to be a treat for anyone who loves a good rasslin’ tale.

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Hall of Fame Induction Sheds New Light on Stu Gibson

I just got back from the my alma mater, New Albany High School. I was in attendance at a banquet with Stu Gibson’s sisters Mary Lou Heinz and Linda Berger and my wife Jessica to induct Stu into the Hall of Fame. In my speech I told a story I have told many times before about a boy from nearby Jeffersonville and Stu’s car. You can click the link to read the full story, but here’s the paraphrase from my speech, as I was discussing Stu’s run in Louisville as a heel:

“While fans in New Albany and Louisville felt betrayed by Stu, hating Stu Gibson came easily to the fans of the Jeffersonville Red Devils. One night in 1952 when Stu wrestled at the Fieldhouse in Jeffersonville, a Jeff High freshman named Billy Tanner climb on top of the marquee sign in front of the gym and jumped onto the roof of Stu’s convertible, collapsing the top. Billy ran and hid with his friends to watch and laugh when Stu came out and saw the damage to his car.

“Three decades later, Billy told the story about Stu’s car to a work colleague, never suspecting that the work colleague was Stu’s brother-in-law. The next time Stu came into town, another lunch was arranged. When Tanner walked into the restaurant, Stu’s brother-in-law gave a signal. Stu caught Tanner in a headlock and said, ‘Do you know who I am? I’ve been looking for you for thirty years!'”

About fifteen minutes later a man named James Morris got up for his induction into the Hall of Fame. Mr. Morris was a staff member at New Albany for eight years, but he was a graduate of Jeffersonville High School.

“If you were to have told high school me I would one day be inducted into the New Albany High School Hall of Fame, I’d have said you were crazy. New Albany and jeffersonville hated each other back then. In fact we weren’t allowed to play each other in sports, except in state tournaments, because there had been so many riots.”

Then Morris added. “I remember Stu Gibson’s car. I disavow any role in the incident, but I saw the car!”

After the ceremony, Mary Lou and I made our way over to Mr. Morris, who reasserted he had nothing to do with the car but told us what he remembered. “I’ll tell you how they did it, though. We had a guy named Tiny Hall, who was probably 6’9″ huge guy. Stu had parked his Studebaker right by the sign. Tiny was the guy who lifted Billy up on the sign, and then Billy jumped down on the roof.”

Talk about serendipity.

Much congratulations to Mary Lou, Linda, and the entire Gibson family on Stu’s induction. Congrats to the innocent bystander Mr. Morris as well, and all the 2019 Hall of Fame class. What a great afternoon.

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Stu Gibson Is Now a Hall of Famer!

Three months ago, I traveled to Las Vegas to present Dr. D David Schultz with an award from the Cauliflower Alley Club. This fall, I will be at the Hall of Fame banquet for my alma mater New Albany High School to see Stu Gibson inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I’ve told parts of Stu’s story here on Eat Sleep Wrestle and in two books, Louisville’s Greatest Show and Bluegrass Brawlers. A native of New Albany 1943 graduate of NAHS, Stu served his country during World War II before becoming a star football player at nearby University of Louisville. He was a stellar athlete and could easily have gone pro in multiple sports, but he chose professional wrestling.

Under the tutelage of Wild Bill Longson, Stu became a top heel in Louisville and San Antonio, where he settled and raised his family. He was a colorful personality outside the ring as well as in, a beloved family man who loved make others smile.

Much thanks goes to WNAS station director Brian Sullivan for championing Stu’s nomination with the selection committee. Congratulations and thanks also goes to Stu’s family, especially his baby sister Mary Lou Heinz, who shared many memories and photos with me while we campaigned for Stu’s induction.

You can click here to read my favorite Stu story. Also, press play on the video below to see Stu in action from the early 70s. You might recognize a certain French giant in the home movie as well.