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Bluegrass Brawlers Returns

It’s back, and better than ever.

The second edition of Bluegrass Brawlers is now available on Amazon, and for all you signed book lovers, it’s available to pre-order here as well. Revisiting my first wrestling book has been on my agenda for years. There were a few facts that needed to be corrected (like the demise of the Columbia Gym), and there were far too many stories left out of the original. The omissions weren’t intentional; the information just wasn’t as accessible as it is today.

Bluegrass Brawlers now includes almost 50% more text: filling in time gaps, expanding on stories that were all too brief, and covering the many changes that happened since 2014.

Just to give you a preview, here are some of the new stories included:

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 wrestling promotion.

Promoter 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.

A hilarious fan story about Flex Kavana, aka Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, courtesy of Michael Ewing from The Seated Senton.

Tales of the first class at Ohio Valley Wrestling.

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.

The rise of women’s wrestling in Louisville and beyond.

I also conducted a number of interviews for the new edition, including “Lord Humongous” Jeff Van Camp, Al Snow, Billie Starkz, Bryan Kennison, Charlene McAnally, Hy Zaya, Cash Flo, Josh Ashcraft, Judi-Rae Hendrix, Rebecca Ann Bridget, Maria James, Haley J, Ryan Howe, Sierra, Doug Basham, Flash Flanagan, Sarah (Logan) Rowe, and Rico Costantino.

The book is also jammed with more photos, from Matty Matsuda to Billie Starkz, who you may notice is also on the cover.

Fans who can’t wait to grab a copy can click here to order on Amazon.

And fans who want to get a signed copy can click here to pre-order.

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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.

A hilarious fan story about Flex Kavana, aka Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

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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Primus Primer: The Baddest Man Alive

14051698_1143659579045927_8665944391328206031_nLast week word broke that Crazy Mary Dobson, the cover girl on Eat Sleep Wrestle, has signed with the WWE. She might not be the only wrestler from that book cover headed to a major promotion.

Eagle-eyed fans, especially those from Ohio, may have recognized a certain security team member on TNA recently. Aaron Williams, the Baddest Man Alive, not only got some TV time, he got a dark match at the recently revamped promotion and left a good impression with the new management.

“Things at Impact went well,” he says. “Got a lot of good feed back! Everyone I met was very polite and I expect be go back in the future.”

After his injury hiatus in 2015, Williams has been on a tear. He won the Rockstar Pro Championship for the third time. He’s faced several dream opponents, including Sami Calihan, Raymond Rowe, Ricky Shane Page, Al Snow, and Ken Anderson. And he is especially proud to now be a full-fledged member of the Midwest’s most dangerous faction: Ohio is 4 Killers.

Williams is facing Jason “The Gift” Kincaid in the first round of the Primus tournament, and Williams can’t wait to step in the ring with the Ring of Honor star. “I do pretty well in tournaments, and I thrive in that kind of thing. I also don’t really feel like I’ve shown the fans of Pro Wrestling Freedom what I’m capable of, but winning the PWF championship will take care of that for me. As far as Jason Kincaid goes I’m very excited to go one on one with him! It’s kinda a ‘gift’ from PWF to me cause once I beat him in my mind I’ve already won this tournament. Kincaid is as good as it gets once I beat him it’s smooth sailing.”

Will OI4K claim another title? Find out on September 9 in Jeffersonville when Pro Wrestling Freedom presents The Primus.

For ticket and event information, visit the event page on Facebook.

Read more about Aaron Williams, fellow Primus competitor Hy Zaya, and Crazy Mary Dobson in Eat Sleep Wrestle by John Cosper.

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Kick Out at Two Podcast: La Marka

LaMarkaSome weeks the Kick Out at Two brings you names you know. Some weeks, they bring you names you will be glad you go to know first on their show.

 

La Marka is a unique gimmick wrestler now working for Freedom Pro Wrestling alongside the likes of Al Snow, Billy Gunn, Carlito, the Blue Meanie, Stevie Richards, Sabu, Shane Douglas, Tommy Dreamer, and Tatanka. According to FPW’s website, he is the “second best wrestler in the world.” Who is he? What gives him the right to make such a claim? You’ll have to listen this week and find out.

Download the Kick Out at Two Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud now.

And if you haven’t listened to last week’s show with Guns N Beer, please give it a listen. It’s one of the strangest, funniest, and most entertaining interviews you will ever hear on a wrestling show.

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Mitch Johnson is The Man

12717269_10205815297969136_714870595142457369_nMitch Johnson is one of the quietest guys in the locker room before a show. He’s well-dressed, he shakes hands with everyone, but if you saw him before the doors opened, you would never guess this seemingly shy individual will be the most hated man in the building before the evening ends.

When Johnson steps through the curtain, microphone in hand, Dr. Jeckyll transforms into Mr. Hyde. He’s loud, arrogant, and brash. He has the fans booing and screaming even before he eviscerates them and their hometown. Johnson talks the talk with the very best, and when the talking is done, he backs it up in the ring.

Mitch Johnson is a proud native of Detroit, Michigan who grew up idolizing Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Sting, Ric Flair, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, and Chris Benoit. He trained initially with the legendary Rip Rogers, but just as he had many heroes, he credits many mentors with his success. “I’ve learned a lot from guys like Ron Conway, Al Snow, Nick Dinsmore, Jim Cornette, Danny Davis and Mike Mondo.”

Johnson has wrestled in 42 states, sharing the ring Rob Conway, Jerry Lynn, Necro Butcher, Rhyno, Eugene, Cliff Compton, Brad Maddox, and Tommy Dreamer. “I’ve also worked for WWE a few times and wrestled dark matches with guys like Fit Finley, Justin Gabriel, and Dolph Ziggler.”

“Mitch Johnson seems arrogant,” says his friend and former boss, Rick Brady of D1W. “He appears whiny, disrespectful, and at times lazy. But that is the furthest thing from the truth. When Christian Mascagni brought him to D1W, I thought he would be done in four shows. Over three years later, he has become one of the most professional, dependable and loyal people that you can count on.

Perhaps the best testament to Johnson’s success is his collection of title belts. Johnson has forced his way into the title picture for nearly every promotion he’s worked for, and he says he’s lost count how many he has won and lost. At the start of 2016 he was holding five belts. “The CPU heavyweight title, the undisputed title, HPW inter-gender tag team titles, the NWA Illinois state champion, and NWA Missouri State championship.

Johnson has been without a home promotion since D1W went on hiatus in early 2015, but Brady continues to sing Johnson’s praises. “I personally managed him and watched as his career took off firsthand. Fans hate him. Workers hate him. But that guy is living the dream, and earning every step. Promoters love him and there is a reason for that. As long as I run shows, he and Amanda will always have a spot.”

If Brady’s recommendation isn’t enough to potential promoters, then here’s one from me. Mitch is a must-see if he’s on the card in my area. He’s unflappable on the microphone, and he can hang with anyone in the ring. He’s a heat magnet with fans, an old school heel who can kick off a show with a bang or close it with a fury.

To paraphrase his preferred entrance music: he’s the man.

Mitch Johnson can be followed on Twitter @Johnsonera

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Al Snow Wrestling Academy

The original Tough Enough trainer and one of the WWE’s top trainers from OVW is opening his own wrestling school. Here’s a video clip from Al Snow about the Al Snow Wrestling Academy. Scroll down below the video for links to Al’s Facebook page and Youtube page to get more details.

Al is tough, but he is one of the sharpest trainers shaping future stars. His knowledge of wrestling technique and wrestling history will give you the well-rounded education you need to succeed as a professional wrestler.

Al Snow Wrestling Academy on Facebook.

Al Snow Wrestling Academy on Youtube.

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Bolin’s Bio Is Almost Here!

bolin1On July 4, fireworks will light the sky. Men and women will enjoy a cold one. Families will gather together to celebrate America… and the release of the long awaited Kenny Bolin autobiography, “I Probably Screwed You Too: The Mostly True Story of Kenny Starmaker Bolin.”

Kenny’s will be the most entertaining wrestling story you will read this year and one of the funniest you have ever picked up, and Kenny’s telling his tale with the help of a few friends. Now I know it’s not nice to name drop, but since we all know Kenny has no shame, here’s a quick list of people who contributed stories to this upcoming epic.

“The Prince” Christopher Bolin
“Crybaby” Chris Alexander
Bill Apter
Rick Brady
Mike “Nova” Bucci
Jim Cornette
Rico Costantino
Mark Cuban
Tim Dennison
Mark Henry
Dean Hill
Jerry Jarrett
Jim Kurnau
Jerry “The King” Lawler
John Bradshaw Layfield
“Dirty” Dutch Mantell
“The Sinister Minister” James Mitchell
Bishop Jason Sanderson
Terry Garvin Simms
Christian Skyfire
Al Snow
Aron “The Idol” Stevens (aka Damien Sandow)
Sylvester Terkay

The book will be available on Amazon.com, but the best and cheapest way to get it (believe it or not) is through the man himself. Contact him on Facebook to get your copy ordered as soon as they are available.