Posted on

The Education of Reese Ramone

I thought I knew what busy was. Then I met Reese Ramone.

Reese and I shook hands for the first time last weekend in Ashland, Kentucky. She’s an avid fan of history. Not just pro wrestling, but history in general, and she checked out all the books on my table. She’s minoring in history at Marshall University in addition to majoring in electrical and computer engineering. She’s also a majorette who performs with the university’s marching band.

Oh yeah, on top of all that? She’s a professional wrestler.

Reese’s journey to lacing up her boots began when she discovered wrestling on television. “I was just flipping through channels and found Smackdown. I saw Cameron dressed in a pretty school girl’s outfit, and it caught my eye. I always did dance, and I loved pretty outfits, and I thought it was so cool.”

Reese’s father noticed her interest and started telling her about the wrestling he grew up watching. Right from the start, she knew she wanted to try it. She just didn’t know how! “I didn’t know about wrestling schools, and it seemed unattainable. I decided it was something I could just enjoy on TV.”

When Reese arrived on campus in Huntington, West Virginia, she heard about the Art of Grappling wrestling school in nearby Ironton, Ohio. She met with owner Joe Pace, who also runs FTC Wrestling in Ashland, Kentucky. Pace told her he was planning to build out a women’s division at FTC, and with his encouragement,  she decided sign up.

“I didn’t tell my parents at first,” she says. “I had a show the day before my birthday, so they finally found out. They were scared of me getting hurt, but they were pretty supportive.”

Reese had her first few lessons with former WWE Diva Jillian Hall. “I took my first bumps in front of her, and she taught me a lot about working the women’s style: hair pulling and cat fighting.”

Her second of third week, Jillian was joined by another trainer: Bobby Blaze. Hall and Blaze worked together for a while, and Reese learned a great deal from them both. When the two decided to split, Reese stayed with Bobby.

“He’s been so good to me. He’s invested a lot of time and wisdom in me. He helped me build my social media presence. He introduced me to the guy who did my entrance music. He’s a world class trainer.”

Reese has learned a lot by doing. “I was told on my first night I had to cut a promo! I thought, there’s no way! It wasn’t bad, but I was so nervous.”

It helped to have a lifeline available. “Bobby called me that night. He talked to me for like an hour, giving me confidence and talking me through everything. He’s been so good to me.”

Reese is juggling a lot with school, wrestling, and marching band, but she’s found a way to balance everything while looking to the future. She’s considering a number of career and post-secondary options, but she also hopes to wrestle for the WWE one day.

“Being a majorette helps so much with my conditioning,” she says. “People have no idea how physically demanding marching is. It helps a lot with my cardio.”

Reese can also talk history, and as a history nut myself, it was difficult to stick to wrestling when we spoke. Suffice to say next time I see her at a show, it’s just as likely I’ll strike up a conversation about the new Netflix movie Operation: Mincemeat with her as talk shop about wrestling.

Reese has the drive to succeed in pro wrestling. She’s also got a trainer who has her back and has laid a solid foundation for her. I’m glad our paths crossed last week, and I’m excited to see where she goes in the years to come.

You can follow Reese on Twitter and Instagram!

Posted on

Girl Fight Gets Royal Approval

It’s been an exciting week for me. I finally had the chance to meet my long time friend and colleague Tamaya Greenlee, and I got to spend time in person with Princess Victoria, Vicki Otis. The two of us wrote her book solely by remote, and Tuesday night’s Girl Fight show in Jeffersonville, Indiana, gave us the chance to finally hang out in person.

Girl Fight made its long-anticipated return to home base with a bang. The seven match card delivered plenty of action from start to finish, and it was great seeing some of my long-time favorites including Charlie Kruel, Ella, and Big Mama. It was also wickedly fun to see long-time fan fave and current champion Billie Starkz play a little heel in her victory over Rachel Armstrong.

Some new faces proved to be show stealers, and Sawyer Wreck was right at the top of that list. The tall Florida girl made an impression simply by the way she took the ring. Her bout with Big Boss Anika was largely played for comedy,  but everything about her work made her look like a future mega star.

Props have to go to Anika as well. The pair looked like a mismatch with Wreck dwarfing the Russian big mouth, but Anika played her role to perfection. I really look forward to seeing more from both ladies.

Mickie Knuckles and Masha Slamovich delivered a No DQ match that was everything you wanted it to be – at least in the Arena, where blood is a no-no. I’ve often said of The Rejects (John Wayne Murdoch and Reed Bentley) that their work looks more like a fight than sports entertainment, and that’s a great way to describe Mickie vs. Masha. The slaps, the strikes, and the hits were very real. Masha’s constant ranting in Russian paired nicely with Mickie’s “I don’t know what the —- you’re saying!” banter.

Mickie even brought Princess Victoria into the action, attempting to slingshot Masha into the Princess’s extended foot. Masha reversed the move, and Mickie ate the foot, taking out my sales banner in the process.

“She really hit me!” The Princess said over her shoulder. “I like her!”

Yes, happy to say, the Princess was enchanted by the entire Girl Fight crew. She happened to come on a night the promotion had long dreamed about; the wrestlers, referees, ring announcer, and commentary team were all ladies for the first time ever. The Princess loved it, and she loved each and every one of the girls.

The majority of the ladies took full advantage of her being there, asking for an receiving critique. The Princess praised the uniqueness of every gimmick (“No two of them are the same!”) and their gimmicks (“Is she selling koozies?”)  What’s more, she was thrilled to see how the promotion and its founder, Mad Man Pondo, truly cared for the girls. She was impressed enough, she’s decided to make an effort to come back June 14 for their next Jeffersonville show.

Girl Fight has a long legacy of giving rising stars a platform. It’s amazing to see that opportunity spread from the locker room to the announce table, and the current roster is as good as it’s ever been. If you’re in the area, you won’t want to miss the next edition in June. And you might just get a second chance to meet Princess Victoria for yourself. 

Posted on

Lady Wrestler Unveils an Unforgettable Tale of Wrestling Pioneers

When the largest wrestling company in the world tried to honor the second African American woman to lace up the boots, they made three mistakes. One, they didn’t not contact her family. Two, they got their facts wrong, claiming she was the first. And three, they used footage of the wrong wrestler in their video packages.

Ouch.

When you rely on one company that held a monopoly on pro wrestling for more than thirty years for your history, you’re not going to get the full story. Fortunately for us, filmmaker Chris Bournea went to the source in creating the documentary Lady Wrestler, a wonderful tribute to the first African American ladies of the wrestling ring.

Ethel Johnson was not only the second lady wrestler to enter the business, she was the second of three sisters to do so! Lady Wrestler centers on the story of Johnson, older sister Babs Wingo, and younger sister Marva Scott. Through interviews with Ethel Brown, Ramona Isabel, family members, and Johnson herself, it tells an uplifting and inspiring tale of three black women who dreamed big.

All in all Lady Wrestler is a much more positive look at women’s wrestling than its predecessor Lipstick and Dynamite. Even its portrayal Billy Wolfe, whose seedy business practices have been well documented, focuses on the good. Wolfe took note of how Jackie Robinson changed professional baseball and opened the door for black women to try pro wrestling. Johnson, Wingo, and Scott were willing to give it a try, drawn in by the public image of the world champion Mildred Burke with her furs and diamonds.

Johnson and Isabel truly shine in the film as the ladies share how professional wrestling allowed them to make a better life for their families. It’s incredible hearing how they devoted themselves not only to traveling the world and working but raising their kids. One of the funniest moments comes when Johnson’s kids tell the stories of how they discovered their mom was “someone,” including coming home from school to find The Incredible Hulk’s Lou Ferrigno in their living room!

Bournea doesn’t shy away from the hardships the ladies faced. Jim Crow laws and systemic racism made life hard for the lady wrestlers in and out of the ring. A particularly heart-breaking story took place in Japan, when the jeers and racial slurs of the Japanese fans caused Marva Scott to have a nervous breakdown.

In the end, the African American ladies got what they wanted from pro wrestling. They made a good living, they provided for their families, and they left an incredible legacy for their children and grandchildren. The descendants of these ring pioneers know beyond a doubt they can be anything they want to be. not only did they see an African American become president, their mom/grandmother/great-grandmother was a professional wrestler!

Lady Wrestler is a must see for lovers of pro wrestling. Ethel Johnson was able to see the completed film before her passing, and it has the full endorsement of the families featured. It’s important to the survivors of these ring pioneers that their beloved mothers and grandmothers are not only remembered but remembered accurately. Lady Wrestler is the kind of tribute such wrestlers truly deserve.

Click here to watch Lady Wrestler on Amazon Prime. 

Posted on

Pre-order Princess Victoria Now!

Princess Victoria is one of the unsung heroes of women’s wrestling. She only wrestled for four years, her career ending after a fluke accident, but she remains a fan favorite. She’s a Cauliflower Alley Club award winner and a Women’s Tag Team Champion. She’s also a true warrior, a survivor who overcame a horrific childhood before she ever set foot in the ring.

Vicki Otis holds nothing back in this new memoir. She is incredibly frank about the abuse she suffered as a child, a story she shares in hopes of helping others. Vicki will also make you laugh out loud with some fantastic memories of friends like Wendi Richter, Velvet McIntyre, Stan Stasiak, Buddy Rose, Sandy Barr, and Roddy Piper.

Books will be in stock this weekend and ship early next week. If you’re a fan of 80s wrestling or ladies wrestling, this is one you cannot miss!

Order your signed copy of Princess Victoria’s autobiography now! 

Posted on

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!

Posted on

Princess Victoria: Coming in April

I am very excited about this book.

I just re-read through the wrestling chapters tonight. Vicki has some tremendous stories about Wendi Richter, Velvet McIntyre, Stan Stasiak, Roddy Piper, and more.

This will not be an easy read for some. Her childhood was a living nightmare. It’s a story she wanted to tell in the hopes that other people with similar experiences can get help just as she has.

Available in April.

Posted on

Mickie Knuckles Triumphs at Night of the Living Girl Fight

There were sixteen ladies booked for the October 2020 edition of Girl Fight Wrestling. Five canceled due to Covid-19, and one had to bail last minute due to a family emergency. The ten ladies that remained put on one of the best shows in the promotion’s history.

I missed independent wrestling like crazy over the last nine months, but I can honestly say if I had to go another nine months without an indy show, this one would hold me over. Top to bottom, it was one of the most entertaining nights of pro wrestling I’ve ever attended.

The great action started with the very first bout when Hawlee Cromwell took on Arie Alexander. Alexander was a new face, and the girl with sunflowers all over her wrestling gear proved to be a very equal match for Cromwell. Alexander won over some fans and took the match from the Girl Fight veteran.

Next up was the much anticipated Jeffersonville debut of Heather Reckless against another diminutive grappler Valentina Loca. Loca made enemies of the crowd with her loud mouth and smart aleck comments right from the start while Reckless stole the heart of every child in attendance. The Seth Rollins trainee quickly won over the older fans as well with her wrestling and submission skills. Loca and Reckless were great from start to finish, where Reckless claimed a win over the brash girl from New Mexico.

Blair Onyx entered the ring next followed by her challenger, the masked Pizza Cat, Jr., aka fan favorite Billie Starkz. After silencing a few smart marks in the back of the room with her death stare, Onyx struck fear in the heart of poor Pizza Cat by bending backwards into a bridge and crawling like a spider toward her feline foe. It was impressive to watch the young Starkz/Pizza Cat put on a different persona in the ring, but Onyx was equally impressive with her acrobatic skills and flexibility. In the end the cat beat the spider as Pizza Cat got the pin.

The last match before intermission was a grudge match between Mickie Knuckles and Charlie Kruel. Still fuming from the last Girl Fight show when Kruel cost Knuckles a victory against Susie, Mickie took the fight to Kruel. Mickie’s humor was back in full force as well. “You’re crazier than I am, and that’s REALLY saying something,” she told Kruel early in the match. Mickie later made everyone question who the crazy one was by picking Charlie’s nose and feeding her the booger. Then after a slow count from the referee, Mickie warned the official, “You’re getting licked tonight. I don’t care if there’s Covid!” Knuckles got her revenge, winning a hard-hitting contest.

Only one match remained after intermission, and that was the Broad Brawl for the vacated Girl Fight Championship. Heather Reckless and Billie Starkz started off the Girl Fight version of the Royal Rumble, and a new competitor joined in every 30 seconds until 10 ladies total had entered. In addition to Onyx, Cromwell, Loca, Knuckles, Alexander, and Kruel, the ladies were joined by Hannah Henderson and Larry D’s wife Paige.

All ten ladies made it into the ring before the eliminations began. Heather Reckless was the first to go, followed by Valentina Loca, Arie Alexander, Blair Onyx, Hannah Henderson, and Paige. Charlie Kruel then shocked the fans by tossing Billie Starkz over the top rope, leaving Kruel and Cromwell to face the only former champion in the match, Mickie Knuckles.

Twice, Cromwell and Kruel made a run at Knuckles trying to knock her over the top rope. On the second attempt, Mickie pulled down the top rope and gave the younger ladies a nudge. The bell sounded, and Mickie Knuckles became the two time Girl Fight Champion.

I can’t say enough about how hard the ladies fought tonight. This is a must-see event when it hits streaming and DVD for anyone who loves Girl Fight or women’s wrestling in general.

Girl Fight’s next event is yet to be announced, but Mad Man Pondo teased the possibility of a Midnight Girl Fight show the night before Thanksgiving. If past years are any indicator, it will be a raucous crowd and another great night of women’s action should it come to pass.

Posted on

Susie Surprises and Terrifies at Girl Fight

I’ve seen Su Yung of Impact Wrestling in action twice before. Once on a show for Terry Harper, when she ended up in the lap of my seventeen year-old nephew, and once at Girl Fight. I was as disappointed as anyone last night when Impact Wrestling star Susie appeared for the main event go against Mickie Knuckles, but that disappointment gave way to terror as Susie took the ring and Mickie reacted to the surprise appearance.

It’s a shame Susie’s run with Impact has not played out in front of a live audience because I can tell you first hand, there’s something disturbing and ominous about her. Every time Mickie would put Susie on the ground and her face would be obscured for a time, you expected her to push the long, black hair out of her face and reveal the visage of Su Yung. That Su never appeared didn’t matter. The threat never went away, even after ref Charlene called for the bell and disqualified Mickie (thanks to some dubious intervention on Charlie Kruel’s part). Susie came in with her little girl wave and left with the same innocent wave, but she put a chill in the fans that packed the Park Place UMC gymnasium tonight.

Yes, Girl Fight Wrestling is back, and tonight’s event in a six-sided ring drew cheers from beginning to end. The evening began with Lily Lockhart defeating Bailey McRoberts and Megan DiFrancisco defeating Hannah Henderson. New comer Henderson made a big impression on the fans, many of whom crowded around her gimmick table at both intermissions to say hello. DiFrancisco made the opposite impression, angering fans with a big mouth and a bad attitude. She made you hate her in all the right ways.

The first part of the show concluded with the masked Seishin (formerly Tootie Lynn Ramsey) facing the dark Hawlee Cromwell. One of the joys of following this promotion is watching young wrestlers grow and develop. Seishin and Cromwell are part of the current “generation” growing up before our eyes, and their high energy battle could have main evented many independent shows I’ve attended. They won’t be occupying the first half of the show much longer.

The second portion of the show kicked off with another vocal heel, Nikki Victory, facing the returning Big Mama. Big Mama was even more vocal than Nikki, and while she is used to playing heel in her home promotion of NWF in Ohio, she reminded fans why they loved her before taking a break to have a baby. Nikki was a game adversary, but Big Mama powered her way to her first ever Girl Fight win.

The next match featured another of the current Girl Fight class’s signature stars, Charlie Kruel in a match against Salena Dean. Kruel’s psycho killer character has evolved from a one dimensional screamer to a personality that’s part Susie, part A.J. Lee, part Festus, and even a touch of U-Gene. She’s gleeful and wants to be friends – at least, she says she does. But the psycho killer comes out to play once the action starts, along with the piercing scream. Charlie took the win over Salena tonight and skipped away, waving to her friends in the crowd.

Next up was Skye Blue from Chicago facing the youngest and arguably the most popular star in Girl Fight, Billie Starkz. Starkz eats, sleeps, breathes, and dreams pro wrestling. It’s in her blood, and it permeates every part of her. She has an infectious smile and a playfulness that connects with the fans. She also continues to blossom on the ring, adding new weapons to her arsenal with each outing. Most fans believe they’re seeing a future mega star every time she takes the ring. Enjoy her while she’s here, folks. The tickets to see her will be much pricier in a few years.

I’ve often said that the Mickie Knuckles/ Dementia D’Rose vs. Amazing Maria/ Samantha Heights tag team match in Fort Wayne a few years back was my favorite live match of all time. I still stand by that statement, even after tonight, but for a time, Mickie Knuckles and Susie threatened to overtake that spot.

I already gushed about Susie’s character and the way she holds you in the palm of her hands, asking the question, “Will she or won’t she turn into Su Yung?” That said, I can’t overstate Mickie Knuckles’ role in the match. Mickie’s the veteran, a Chris Hero student turned locker room leader and teacher, and there’s a reason fans like me will never miss a match of hers if we can help it. Usually Mickie entertains with one liners, comedy spots, and a little – not make that a lot of referee abuse. That made her reaction to Susie all the more real. Mickie wasn’t about the jokes tonight. She was scared. She didn’t know how to handle Susie or even what to make of her. Susie acted creepy. Mickie made it feel real.

Sadly, we did not get a clean finish to what was otherwise a very entertaining main event. Charlie Kruel skipped to the ring while ref Charlene was out, found a folding chair, and gave Susie a whack on the back with it. She then laid the chair beside Mickie, just as Charlene came to. Those darn refs never believe the babyfaces when they say they’ve been framed, and Charlene disqualified Mickie in favor of Susie.

Susie kept us watching as she rose off the mat, her face obscured by her hair once more like the little girl from The Ring. But when she brushed her hair back to thank Mickie for the match, it was still creepy Susie and not Su Yung whose face we saw. Mickie demanded a match with Charlie, and Mad Man Pondo agreed to give it to her on the next show.

Mickie and Charlie will face off on October 17 at the same venue, Park Place UMC in Jeffersonville. Girl Fight will also present a battle royal-type match that will crown a new Girl Fight champion that evening. Oh yeah, and we will finally see the Girl Fight debut of Heather Reckless on the 17th. I’ve been singing her praises to Pondo and anyone else who will listen since seeing her in action at Cauliflower Alley Club in April of 2019. Fans, you’re in for a treat.

Head to www.girlfightwrestling.com to get all the info about the next show and find out how to order tickets.

Posted on

Now Available!

Never heard of Elvira Snodgrass? Neither had I. She passed away in 1956, and most of the ladies who survived her seem to have simply forgotten her. In her prime she was the number two woman in professional wrestling, second only to Mildred Burke. She was beloved as the hillbilly babyface and hated as the nasty, rule breaking, ref abusing heel.

Elvira Snodgrass has been a fascination of mine for a long time. Her story will inspire you. More than that, it will entertain the heck out of you!

The Ballad of Cousin Elvira is now available on Amazon! Click here to order your copy.

If you want to pre-order an autographed copy, shipping mid-August, click here.

Posted on

Yes, You Do Want to See Madi Maxx

Every now and then you go to a show and see a new wrestler who make you sit up and take notice. That happened a month ago when I saw Madi Maxx for the first time. She came into the Jeffersonville Arena as a complete unknown to the Girl Fight crowd. Forty-five seconds after picking up a mic, every fan in the building wanted to slap the “Paris Hilton of professional wrestling” in the face.

Madi was just eight years old when she decided what she wanted to do with her life. That was when he father took her to Monday Night Raw for the first time.”I had never before seen or heard of WWE, or any wrestling for that matter. I instantly fell in love with everything about it. The emotion, the characters, the show, the energy, literally everything. I knew after that I wanted to get the same response from an audience and I started doing moves off my dressers, on to my pillows, and even my friends when they let me!

As a child of the Attitude era, Madi was drawn to some of its brightest stars, including Lita and Edge. “They were my wrestling heroes. I wanted to be just like them. They were also the ones who influenced me the most, along with The Hardys. I was drawn to them because they were all so different than anyone else on the roster. They created such a response from the crowd and filled arenas with energy! Everything they did I was infatuated by everything they did!”

Although Madi’s parents bore some of the responsibility for her infatuation with professional wrestling, they didn’t expect it to last. Madi never wavered in her dream, and when she was seventeen, she took her first steps towards pursuing that dream. “I was home during the summer, and I decided spontaneously I am going to do this NOW! I contacted a school, USIWF, and I called my mom once I got a response. Her and my dad both came with me to my first day and made sure I really wanted to do this. They have been supportive ever since, and have never once doubted me or tried to talk me out of it.”

Madi trained with Josh Gerry at USIWF for a year and a half. She then moved to Louisville, Kentucky and began training at Ohio Valley Wrestling with Matt Cappotelli and Rip Rogers. While in Louisville, she captured the OVW Women’s Championship. “It was incredible! I went to OVW with one mission, and it was to put my name on the list with all the other Women Champions, including Beth Phoenix! Holding the same title she held was something I will always remember and cherish.”

Madi’s determination to make her mark on the business led her to High Spots in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she now trains with a number of other hopefuls. She’s already faced some stiff competition in Nicole Pain and LuFisto and is scheduled to face Taeler Hendrix and Chelsea Greene in the coming months. She has her eyes set on Queens of Combat in 2018, and she hopes to make her West Coast and International debuts this year.

Madi has the skills to become a top star, both on the mic and in the ring. What’s more, she’s a true student of the game who absorbs as much as she can from everyone she meets.

“The lessons I have learned that are the most important to me are, ‘crawl, walk, run,’ which my first coach taught me. Meaning you can’t learn everything in a day, you have to stick with it and really give it your all! The second is, ‘trust no one,’ which is a really big one that I have kept in mind wherever I go.”

Madi listed LuFisto as one of her favorite opponents. You can see the two of them in action in the video below. You can also follow her on Twitter @madi_maxx, Instagram @maxxmadi, and Facebook.

Madi Maxx is a face to watch and a name to remember. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in the coming years.
[Credit for top photo goes to photographer John McEvers.]