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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.

 

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Happy birthday, Starmaker Bolin

bolin1Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin had hoped to have his autobiography ready to release today, his birthday. It’s still in the works, and no, it’s not because he’s struggled to find people to say nice things about him. Here’s a sampling of what some folks have said about the Starmaker

“Although I had more of a national presence, Kenny got to work consistently more than I ever did, managed far better talent than I ever did, and was allowed to be the lovable con artist he is without any obvious outside ‘producing’ and ‘writing’ to spoil his unique personality. To steal a phrase from Hunter S. Thompson, he is ‘one of God’s own prototypes.'” – The Sinister Minister, James Mitchell

“I got an email inviting me to call in and participate in a Roast of Kenny Bolin on Blogtalkradio. I know people wanted to hear me roast Kenny for all the things he did to me back in OVW, but I couldn’t do it. My years at OVW were golden, and King B was the biggest part of that, figuratively and literally. Kenny made me a star, and he made me the biggest heel at OVW. I owe everything I achieved at OVW and later the WWE to Kenny Bolin. I was very blessed to do the things I did, and I am thankful to say that Kenny Bolin is still my friend.” – Rico Costantino

“Kenny is truly a star maker. If only he would burn the videos he has of me and Cena way, way back when we were both in the rise. But then if it weren’t for Kenny, no one would care about those videos. Congrats, Kenny.” – Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

One evening, I received a voice mail from Kenny. He had dialed my number by mistake, and he thought he was leaving a message for one of his many Beets by Bolin customers. The voice mail gave me a rare insight into the real Kenny Bolin as he spoke about a young fan, a girl with autism, who would be his dinner guest along with his family. He was treating all four of them to dinner and hooking the young lady up with a pair of Beets, and autographed photo, and a copy of a John Cena video. It’s entirely possible that once this young girl got to the restaurant, Kenny charged her for her stuff just the same as he did his own daughter-in-law the night he met her, but I prefer to think that there actually is a heart underneath all that bravado. As Jim Cornette likes to say, you just have to dig through too many layers to get to it.

Happy birthday, Kenny Bolin. I’m happy to call you a friend.

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Eat Sleep Wrestle – Four months later

cropped-esw-cover.jpgWhen I was writing Eat Sleep Wrestle, I knew I was creating a time capsule. What’s written in the pages of that book is a moment of time, now past, depicting the lives of a number of modern day independent wrestlers. No sooner was the book released, the lives and careers of the men and women profiled inside began to change. Since Eat Sleep Wrestle was printed:

Evolution Pro Wrestling closed its doors.

Destination One Wrestling changed its name to Premiere Destination Wrestling.

Jamin Olivencia left OVW.

Michael Hayes left OVW and seems to have retired.

Marc Hauss was laid up after surgery. (Get well, sir!)

Colt Cabana blew up the internet and got sued along with his pal CM Punk.

LuFisto’s Yoda-like wisdom on hardcore wrestling went viral.

Madman Pondo and Crazy Mary Dobson became the Juggalo Championship Wrestling tag team champions, the first intergender champions in the promotion’s history.

Ron Mathis managed to accumulate four title belts at once.

Mitchell Huff became Cage Mitchell.

Crazy Mary Dobson got a speaking role on Raw. “You are chips!”

Mad Man Pondo finally appeared on Raw as a Rosebud. Arriba!

Crazy Mary, Lylah Lodge, and Cage Mitchell also appeared as Rosebuds. Crazy Mary’s become a regular, in fact.

At least four wrestlers – Crazy Mary, Lylah, Aaron Williams, and LuFisto – applied for the next season of WWE’s Tough Enough.

The Crist brothers co-headlined CZW’s anniversary show with the Young Bucks.

CHIKARA crowned Heidi Lovelace winner of the Young Lions Cup, the first woman to achieve that honor.

If you’re scratching your head wondering who these people are, grab a copy of Eat Sleep Wrestle to get up to speed. Then get out to an independent wrestling show to see what you’re missing.

 

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OVW HD – A new Indiegogo Campaign!

The first time I saw Ryan Howe was the night after Wrestlemania XXVII. He was the first of the new round of Tough Enough contestants to introduce himself to a Raw crowd that chanted for Stone Cold Steve Austin to “Stun them all!”

I saw him again almost two years later at OVW, the night I started work on Bluegrass Brawlers. He didn’t wrestle that night, but I saw him a few times over the next couple of years. He had a great look, and he showed potential, but he was always in the mid-card, working underneath guys like Rob Terry and Jamin Olivencia. He was better each time I saw him, but he was always outshined by the main event players.

Wednesday night, I saw him again. He worked the main event against OVW champion Mohamed Ali Vaez. This was a completely different Ryan Howe than I had ever seen before. Same look, same gimmick, but there was a confidence and a swagger about him I hadn’t seen before. Howe looked like he belonged in that main event. He looked ready for the next step. If history is any indication at OVW, he’ll probably get it sooner rather than later.

That’s the legacy of OVW. OVW has set the standard for wrestling schools for nearly 20 years. Cena, Orton, Lesnar, Batista, Punk, Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Miz, Mizdow, Henry, Big Show, Beth Phoenix, Mickie James, Dinsmore, Conway, Shelton Benjamin, John Morrison, Lisa Marie Varon, Jamin Olivencia, Rockstar Spud. Over 100 students have gone on from OVW to work for WWE or TNA.

OVW just launched an Indiegogo campaign to upgrade their television equipment. OVW is the longest running wrestling television program in America outside of WWE (over 800 episodes!), and they’re ready to step it up and go HD. This campaign will allow them to upgrade their studio, their cameras, and their editing equipment so they can continue to produce a top quality program while providing the best training for the business, from inside the ring to the editing room.

OVW television airs locally in Louisville, but it’s also available to view online. OVW alums have shared with me how fans have come up to them in airports and venues around the country, fans who know them only from watching online. Most recently, OVW announcer Dean Hill told me he was approached by a fan in Seattle, Washington who watched OVW on TV!

Independent wrestling is growing in popularity once more, and OVW is positioning itself to take advantage of the changing tides. Check out the campaign on Indiegogo and the perks that are available – including and opportunity to train at the school. And by all means go to www.ovwrestling.com to check out their show for yourself!

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The Black Panther – Ads from the Courier-Journal

It’s been a few days since I posted. Been a busy week with other writing projects besides wrestling. Hoping to resume my normal writing schedule by end of the week.

I did get to take in the OVW TV taping tonight. Strong showing by Ryan Howe and Mohamad Ali Vaez in the main event, and it was great seeing Jim Cornette and Jeff Jarrett (yes, Jeff Jarrett!!) in the ring. Prior to that had dinner with Cornette, Kenny Bolin, and legendary OVW announcer Dean Hill. Some great stories were shared that will pop up in future blogs and book projects.

Prior to that, I went to the library to do a little more digging on both The Black Panther Jim Mitchell and promoter Heywood Allen. Here are a couple of ads I found today featuring Mitchell, one from 1941 and the other from 1954.

panther 1941

1954 police show

 

1954 police show

panther 1941 1954 police show

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Louisville’s Greatest Matches: Nova vs. John Cena

Crybaby Chris Alexander told me about this match when I was working on Bluegrass Brawlers. I honestly am not sure why this story did not make it into the book, other than I simply forgot about it.

Cena was “The Prototype,” an unstoppable monster heel who had run over every challenger in OVW. Nova was the new guy, a veteran of ECW looking for a new start with OVW and the WWE. His first night at OVW, he got a shot at the champion.

Alexander was backstage that. Danny Davis walked over to him, wearing a big smile. “Hey Chris,” he said, “Do you want to know how to put a new guy over in one night? Just watch.”

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Upset about the Rumble?

esw coverFirst of all… let’s not get so upset we overlook the good.

We got a terrific title match, arguably the best triple threat of all time. And they made a legitimate main event star last night. His name is Seth Rollins.

That said, many people are beyond disgruntled today, and many have gone so far as to cancel their WWE Network subscriptions.

For those who have, and for those who haven’t but are still angry about the Rumble, maybe you should give independent wrestling a try?

Eat Sleep Wrestle is a great place to start exploring wrestling beyond the WWE. After I released Bluegrass Brawlers, I went out to some indy shows to sell the book. I had the opportunity to meet some of the Midwest’s finest indy talent, and I saw some amazing matches. I was so inspired by them, I had to tell their story.

These are not superstars. These are wrestlers. The people profiled in Eat Sleep Wrestle are passionate, driven people who work as hard or harder than anyone you’ll see on Monday Night (tonight excepted, of course).

Eat Sleep Wrestle will introduce you to people like Mad Man Pondo, Chris Hero, Crazy Mary Dobson, Aaron Williams, Ron Mathis, Hy Zaya, Jamin Olivencia, Zodiak, Mickie Knuckles, Cherry Bomb, and Reed Bentley. It will make you realize there is wrestling beyond the WWE, and it will inspire you to follow your own dreams.

Yes, this is a shameless plug, but Raw isn’t live tonight, and you can get it on Kindle or Nook, why not give Eat Sleep Wrestle a try?