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At the Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Everyone Is Family

Four years ago, I visited the Dan Gable Museum, home of the Tragos/Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, for the first time. Three years ago I made my second visit, this time during Hall of Fame weekend. I remember it being a fantastic fan experience. Not only does the museum house an incredible collection of memorabilia, the Hall of Fame event brought fans and wrestlers together in a much more personal way than any fan fest. You could sit down in the hotel lobby, a booth at the hotel bar, or any room at the museum next to someone and ask questions. To use a phrase you hear a lot during induction weekend, it felt like family.

I attended my second Hall of Fame induction this past weekend, and it was even more enjoyable than the first. I was thrilled to see attendance had grown from my previous visit, but I was even more delighted to see the open, friendly atmosphere of the event remained intact. From the Impact Pro Wrestling show Friday through the Saturday night banquet, the whole weekend was more of a family reunion than a fan fest.

What really sets this event apart is how much access attendees have to the “Distinguished Guests.” The wrestlers don’t hide out in their hotel suites or private green rooms. They’re in the lobby of the museum, the lobby of the hotel, or one of the many bars and restaurants in the area. They come to see the fans, to take pictures, and to tell stories, and I didn’t see anyone leave disappointed.

Two incidents stand out the most for me. The first came Friday afternoon, when a couple cut through the lobby of the convention center not knowing a wrestling event was taking place. They decided to stick around and joined the line to buy tickets.

That’s when Cowboy Bob Orton, Jr., entered the building.

Imagine a child coming down Christmas Eve at 1 a.m. and catching Santa. Imagine big, wide eyes filled with wonder and a mouth wide open in astonishment. That’s the look I saw on a grown man’s face seeing a legend in person.

The second incident took place a few hours later. I was carting my books back to the hotel when another man not attending the event came along side me. “You here with the wrestling show?”

“Yes, I am,” I said.

“I just bought a beer for Sgt. Slaughter,” he bragged. “How cool is that?”

Waterloo, Iowa may not be on many people’s radar for a summer destination, but if you’re a wrestling fan, I assure you, it will become one of your favorite places in the world. You’ll make friends with fellow wrestling fans from all corners of the nation and all walks of life. You’ll hear stories of days gone by and see some incredible photos and memorabilia in the museum’s collection. And you’ll make memories with wrestling heroes past, present, and (possibly) future in an environment no comic con or fan fest can match.

As master of ceremonies Chad Olsen told all in attendance Saturday night, when you come to the Hall of Fame, you become part of the family. It’s a family worth joining, and a family that will urge you to bring a friend. Mark your calendar for July 21-23, 2022, and keep an eye on the Facebook page for the George Tragos/ Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. This is one family reunion you will truly enjoy.

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WWE Returns to Louisville

A few random thoughts about last night’s visit from WWE to Louisville, Kentucky.

First and foremost: the Yum Center staff is amazing and accessibility for the disabled is great. I take a friend along who is in a wheelchair, and we had a much more pleasant experience here than at Freedom Hall. Wish the doors to the pedway from the parking garage had automatic door openers, but the Yum Center staff was so helpful I can overlook that.

WWE Shop Express was not available and that was disappointing. Made getting shirts super easy last time. We went out during an early match and got a shirt with no waiting but I liked shop express better.

AJ Styles and Tyler Breeze had a great opener. Breeze held his own with AJ and made his trainer Lance Storm proud. He also had more heat than anyone other than Sheamus and Kevin Owens with the fans. They were on him from the moment his music hit. Wish WWE would give him the push he deserves on the main roster.

Nice surprise to see Baron Corbin. He looks ready.

Goldust put on the make up for a house show run in. Another fun surprise.

If Alberto Del Rio is on a card, he will give you his money worth. Does everyone realize how good he is?

Kalisto is super over with the kids. Adults too.

Nice to see Summer Rae getting to actually wrestle as Sasha Banks’s tag partner. If you’ve only seen her on WWE you don’t know how good she is.

Sasha is a superstar on the rise.

Heel Sheamus has a lot of fans. Lots of cheers for him – until he got on the mic and riffed on Kentucky.

Louisville still loves OVW alum Mark Henry.

And your main event for WWE Louisville is… Jon Moxley vs. Kevin Steen. Who would have ever dreamed back 5 years ago this would be your main event at a WWE show?? Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens did not disappoint. They tore the house down, and they proved they are ready to be the top guys in the business. Owens got the most heat from the crowd, and Ambrose gets the biggest pop from the crowd. Matter of fact, he gets a bigger pop than anyone I’ve seen in Louisville except that one guy…

This is the first time in ages John Cena did not make an appearance in Louisville. Feels a little strange, because in all honesty, this is Cena’s town. There’s no split chanting for him here because of his legacy at OVW. No doubt he’ll be back and he’ll get the pop of the night when he returns.

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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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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.