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New Hope for Louisville Gardens?

1101130843There’s a lot of buzz about the Louisville Gardens and a “hidden treasure” I discovered when working on Bluegrass Brawlers.

The treasure is a Kilgen pipe organ installed just above the stage area inside the Gardens. The pipe organ is also a one man band, with percussion and brass instruments incorporated into its workings. It’s a priceless treasure that, until recently, was in danger of being lost forever due to neglect of the building.

This week, both the Courier-Journal and WFPL radio ran stories about the building, the organ, and an effort to save them both. Click on the hyperlinks to read what they had to say.

Originally built as the Jefferson County Armory, the Louisville Gardens began hosting pro wrestling in 1913. Ed “Strangler” Lewis was one of the very first to main event inside the building. He was followed by a host of world champions and trail blazers including Charlie Cutler, Americus, Stanislaus Zbyszko, Wladek Zbyszko, Joe Stecher, Orville Brown, Bill Longson, Lou Thesz, Mildred Burke, Buddy Rogers, The Sheik, Fritz Von Erich, and Bobo Brazil.

During the Memphis years it was home to Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee, Dutch Mantell, Handsome Jimmy Valiant, Jimmy Hart, Jim Cornette, and the Fabulous Ones. Louisville Gardens also hosted many of the WWE’s biggest legends before they were stars, some with Memphis and others with OVW. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, The Undertaker, Kane, Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock, John Cena, Batista, Brock Lesnar, and Randy Orton all worked the Gardens on their way to the top.

Andre the Giant wrestled there. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan had his in-ring debut in the building. Bret Hart had his last successful WWF title defense before the Montreal Screwjob in the building. That same show was also Brian Pillman’s final PPV appearance before he passed away.

And yes, believe it or not, Andy Kaufman stepped into the Memphis ring inside Louisville Gardens.

Louisville Gardens is a beautiful building with an incredible history. The building and the organ are treasures that deserve to be preserved and enjoyed for years to come. Here’s hoping the Gardens has not seen the last wrestling match inside those hallowed halls.

Click here to view some photos of the organ on the Bluegrass Brawlers Facebook page. And please give the page a like while you are there!

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Bluegrass Brawlers on tour – September 24

BluegrassBrawlers-coverI’m very happy to announce I’ll be giving my first live presentation based on Bluegrass Brawlers later this month in Owensboro, Kentucky.

The talk will be held at the Daviess County Library in Owensboro, KY on September 24 at 6 PM Eastern. I had the privilege of visiting the same library a year or so ago for a screening of a short film I wrote called The Telemarketer. It’s a gorgeous place, and they’ve got a full calendar with all sorts of special events and speakers. They even had an acclaimed independent horror film made inside that building.

I’ll be sharing stories about Ida Alb, William Muldoon, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, Heywood Allen, Jerry Lawler, Jim Cornette, Kenny Bolin, and John Cena. Over 130 years of wrestling history in Louisville.

The event is free, and I will have copies of the book available to purchase. If you’re a wrestling fan and in the area, I hope to see you there!

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Guess who has the #1 trending wrestling book?

11416754_1440107446310822_276061912_oDaniel Bryan just released a book. He’s arguably the most popular WWE superstar in the last few years after Cena. He’s a phenomenon, and deservedly so.

But he’s not the #1 trending book on Amazon.com.

Sure, he’s probably selling more copies, but the guy getting the most looks right now is Kenny Starmaker Bolin.

If you’re not familiar with Kenny, he’s the man who managed John Cena when he was still at OVW in Louisville. He’s been a life-long friend/ thorn in the side to the legendary Jim Cornette. Kenny’s met everyone, worked with everyone, and has stories on everyone. About 90% is all true, but it’s up to you to decide which part fits in that 10%.

It was my honor to help Kenny put his book together, and I can heartily recommend it to anyone with a love for wrestling. About the only wrestling lover I know who wouldn’t want to read it is Kenny himself. Seriously, it’s his story, and the entire time I was writing it, I don’t think he read a word of it.

Jerry Lawler was right. Someone needs to get a copy and read it to him.

Buy your copy now on Amazon.com. And while you’re at it, grab Bluegrass Brawlers and get the rest of Louisville’s wrestling story too.

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Special offer for Kenny Bolin fans!

BluegrassBrawlers-coverDid you get screwed by Kenny Bolin? Did you pay a king’s ransom to get his new biography signed by Ma Bolin? If so, I have a deal for you.

Now through August 16, just for Kenny’s fans, I have a special deal on my own wrestling books. You can get a signed copy of Bluegrass Brawlers and Eat Sleep Wrestle for only $24, including shipping. That’s more than $20 savings when you figure in shipping from Amazon.com.

Here’s all you have to do:

1. Post a photo of your copy of Kenny’s book on Facebook and tag both me and the King.

2. Send me a message on Facebook. I’ll message you back with my Paypal address to send payment.

3. Send in your Paypal payment and wait for your books to arrive. I’ll email you to let you know when they go out.

Bluegrass Brawlers covers more than 130 years of professional wrestling in Louisville, including Kenny’s reign as the Starmaker. And Eat Sleep Wrestle is the perfect introduction to today’s indy wrestling scene. If you enjoyed Kenny’s book, here’s a chance to get two more by Kenny’s co-author to add to your wrestling library.

UPDATE: If you’d rather have the e-book version of the books, you can get both Bluegrass Brawlers and Eat Sleep Wrestle for only $12, half the price of the paperbacks. Follow the same steps as above but let me know you prefer the electronic versions instead.

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The Bolin Bio Is Here!

11416754_1440107446310822_276061912_oOne of the most enjoyable interviews I did for Bluegrass Brawlers was with Kenny Bolin. You may not have heard the name if you’re not familiar with Louisville wrestling, but you have Kenny to thank for launching the careers of many of today’s biggest WWE Superstars. He managed dozens of WWE hopefuls in the decade when the WWE used Ohio Valley Wrestling as its training ground, and all of them went on to get a shot at the WWE – not the least of which was John Cena!

Kenny’s story is one of those wrestling tales that has to be heard to believed, and even after you hear it, you won’t believe it. I can tell you with absolute confidence this book is mostly true, but good luck sorting what’s what. The stories that are 100% true are easily the least believable in the book.

It’s been a pleasure getting to know Kenny as a friend and help him bring his story to life. You’ll hear Kenny’s story in his own words along with the words of Jim Cornette, Dutch Mantell, Jerry Lawler, Jerry Jarrett, JBL, Nova, Mark Henry, Damien Sandow, Dean Hill, and many more who crossed paths with the Louisville legend.

His book is available on Amazon.com, but why buy from them when you can order from the man himself and get it signed? Contact Kenny on his Facebook page to order your copy in one of three collectible covers today.

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Kill Owens Kill!

Indy wrestling fans have been telling WWE fans for years they were missing out. Last night, Indy fans were able to rise up and say, “See?? I told you so!”

Owens is only the latest to crash the WWE party. Bryan, Rollins, Ambrose, Harper, Zayn, Cesaro, Balor, Itami, Bayley, Emma, Neville. These are not pre-fabbed stars made by the WWE machine. All of these rising stars got to the WWE after years of busting their butts on the Indy circuit.

There’s more great wrestling to discover, possibly right down the street from your house. That’s why I wrote Eat Sleep Wrestle. That’s why you need to get out and see an Indy show.

Head over to Smart Mark Video to get a sample now. Look up CZW/WSU, PWG, OVW, IWA Mid-South, CHIKARA, Rockstar Pro, CWAI, Empire, Shimmer, AIW, or take a look at what Jeff Jarrett’s putting together at GFW.

If I left out your favorite promotion, please please enter it in the comments below.

A revolution is coming.

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A review of WWE Shop Express

I took a friend of mine to WWE Live in Louisville Saturday night. My friend is disabled and gets around in a wheelchair. He’s a huge wrestling fan, and whenever the WWE comes to town, he has to go, and he has to get a new John Cena shirt.

Saturday afternoon, I received an email about WWE Shop Express. This is a new service the WWE offers at live events that allows you to order merchandise on your phone and pick it up at a separate table. I considered using the service right then, but as I couldn’t decide on a shirt for myself, I decided to take my chances on the regular merch table.

When we got to the arena, the T-shirt table was jammed. There was no way I could maneuver him in safely in his chair and get him and myself shirts. I spotted the Shop Express table nearby, a short distance from the crowd, and I decided to give it a try. The website promised a simple, three step process. Pick your merchandise; pay online; wait for the email to tell you your order is ready. I’m happy to say it really was that simple.

The order process, including setting up an account (because your wwe.com account won’t work on this site) took barely five minutes. I hit the pay button and instantly received an email confirming my order. I looked over at the Express table and saw our shirts being pulled at that very moment. Less than two minutes after completing our order, we had our shirts and were on our way to our seats.

WWE Shop Express does not offer all the same shirts available at the venue, which isn’t entirely bad news. There were several shirts on the regular merch table that were not available through Shop Express, but Shop Express had several shirts not offered on the merch table. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns were not in Louisville, but their shirts could be had through Shop Express. Shop Express also offered T-shirts for NXT stars Finn Balor and Kevin Owens, and after an afternoon of deliberation, I finally went with Owens.

WWE has always been very good about being accessible to folks with disabilities. I remember being very impressed with the extra care they took at Wrestlemania Axxess in 2011 to accommodate those with special needs. I don’t know assisting the disabled was part of the idea behind Shop Express, but it was a huge plus for us. I can’t recommend WWE Shop Express enough for that reason alone.
As a final thought, I want to say THANK YOU to all the WWE fans who were so kind and considerate with a fellow fan who needed a little extra help. WWE events always have a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and Saturday was no different. To everyone who held doors, cleared the way, and offered a hand – thank you.

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Updated: Help Kenny Bolin Tell His Story!

bolin1Kenny Bolin has written a memoir.

Let that sink in for a moment. Kenny Bolin, the Starmaker, sworn enemy of Jim Cornette, mentor and manager to John Cena and countless other stars, has written his life’s story.

Actually what Kenny has done is rather unique. He’s told his story, but he’s allowed those who were there to share their stories as well. Jerry Jarrett, Rico Costantino, JBL, Sylvester Terkay, the Prince Christopher Bolin, Mark Cuban, Dean Hill, even Jim Cornette have shared their favorite memories of the King.

And now, Kenny wants to include you.

Yes, Kenny Bolin wants your stories, memories, and thoughts about the King to be published in his book, I Probably Screwed You Too: The Mostly True Story of Kenny Bolin. For a limited time, the floor is open for fans to send in their own stories  and comments about Kenny, Bolin Services, and the Bolin legacy.

For the price of $79.95, Kenny will publish your comments, uncut and uncensored, in his book alongside the illustrious names listed above.

UPDATED: You will also receive a numbered, signed copy of the book; a DVD copy of “A Decade of BS” featuring six hours of Bolin Services highlights from 1998 to 2008; and (while supplies last) a pair of Buds by Bolin earbuds.

Here’s how you can submit your tale:

1. Go to Facebook and look up Kenny Starmaker Bolin.

2. Send Kenny a message, telling him you have a story to share.

3. Send payment to Kenny through his Paypal address, which he will provide.

4. Message Kenny again with your story, comment, etc.

The first 35 submissions will go into the book, in the order that they are received. (Number 1 was already claimed before Kenny could make the big announcement!) And if you’re really lucky, Kenny will respond to your story.

This is a chance to not only own wrestling history but play a role in the telling of a legend. Find Kenny on Facebook and secure your place in the book today!

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The Champ

Never ceases to amaze me how Cena rolls with the hate.

I was one of those singing “John Cena sucks” at Mania a few years ago, before it truly took off with the crowds. And yeah, I was a mocker of the “five moves of death” and a bit sick of the Super Cena persona.

But let’s be honest. No one works harder to entertain the fans than John Cena. He works every TV and every house show, and he gives his best at both.

And no one sells tickets like Cena. Whether you’re buying a ticket to cheer him or boo him, you’re buying a ticket because of him.

Very few men can match Cena in the strength department. Cena’s a monster in the gym, and people tend to over look just how powerful he is. Look closely the next time he’s in the ring with another big man. Cena’s a very, very strong guy.

And if we’re really being honest, Cena is more than five moves. Go look on YouTube at some of his matches from OVW. Cena can do a lot more that he does in a typical Cena match. Cena’s a student of OVW’s Rip Rogers, and Rip has always taught his students that less is more. Why go off the top rope if you don’t have to? Why go off the top of the cage if it’s not going to sell a few more tickets? Why do a Shooting Star Press every night when doing it once will make you immortal?

(Okay, yeah, didn’t work out for Brock, but see Snuka and the leap off the cage for an instance where one big bump DID work.)

Do your job, take care of your body, don’t do more than you need to in order to get over and sell tickets. That’s what Cena was taught. That’s why Cena’s endured physically.

Could he use a character change? Sure, everyone needs to evolve. Should he do a heel turn? Maybe, maybe not. It would not be a hard thing for him to pull off. Again, go to YouTube and look at his OVW work. He was the most hated man in Louisville when he was the Prototype. I’d love to see that side of Cena one more time before he retires.

Cena’s one of the very best, not just of his generation but all time. I believe that time will be kind to him and so will the fans.

That said, I don’t know that “Cena sucks” will ever go away. I don’t think it has to go away, and I don’t know if Cena wants it to go away. The more people chant, the more he perseveres. The more he perseveres, the more “Cena sucks” becomes a term of endearment.