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Five Reasons to Check Out OVW Now

There’s a core group of fans who attend Ohio Valley Wrestling every week. For the last five weeks, and honestly for the foreseeable future, I’ve become one of them.

It’s been fun over the years dropping in and out to see how the promotion changes and to watch wrestlers come into their own. Having seen the tag team Dark Cloud in one of their first OVW matches versus seeing them now, interacting with the fans, it’s incredible how much they’ve evolved. But you make a much different connection with a promotion when you never miss a show. Wrestlers who may not catch your attention that first week may draw you in the second, third, or fourth time you see them.

After more than a month of live shows, I thought I’d share here a few talents that have really caught my eye. I’m purposely not including friends of mine or long-time OVW standouts. The five (make that six) wrestlers mentioned are people who have grown on me and kept me wanting to go back every week.

Shalonce Royal

Shalonce Royal

Oh how the fans hate Shalonce! They hate her arrogance. They hate her dirty tricks. And they hate – HATE! – her singing. Shalonce sings through every match, her powerful voice belting high note after high note, as she wears her opponents down. She’s fast, she’s powerful, and she’s relentless.

In real life Shalonce is a trained opera singer, and she’s not the first such talent to come along in pro wrestling. Back in the 1950s, a woman named Gloria Barratini made the jump from singing opera to pro wrestling. I don’t know that Gloria sang in the ring to the delight (or dismay) of the fans like Shalonce does, but she did wrestle in Louisville a few times, including a bout against the great Mae Young at The Armory (Louisville Gardens).

Shalonce has a lot of charisma, and she’s a heck of a wrestler. She also had a show-stealing match with Jada Stone (another new-to-me face!) during the September 1 TV taping. And I love watching the fans hate on her almost as much as I enjoy watching her wrestle.

Click here to follow Shalonce Royal on Twitter.

Omar Amir vs. Jack Vaughn

The Veteran Jack Vaughn

Jack made me sit up straight during his match last night when he LEVELED a kid with the hardest clothesline I’ve seen in Davis Arena since the days when the APA were in town. When JBL (then still known as Bradshaw) threw a clothesline in a dark match one night, I could feel it from the second row. I felt Jack’s from the top row last night.

Jack Vaughn’s Twitter says he’s an eighteen year veteran. He’s 6’6″ and looks like he fell through a time warp in Memphis, circa 1983. He’s a no nonsense, hard nosed, old fashioned rassler who often makes mince meat of the younger guys in the ring. He’s also clearly a locker room leader, based on some of his social media posts. The fans may hate him, but they have to respect him!

FYI, Jack only has a handful of followers on Twitter. That’s a crying shame, because young wrestlers could learn a lot from the wisdom he dispenses.

Click here to follow The Veteran Jack Vaughn.

The Outrunners on AEW

The Outrunners

Speaking of guys who look like they fell through a time warp! With their hot pink trunks, their decidedly old school facial hair, and Miami Vice like intro, The Outrunners look like the kind of guys my grandpa would have rooted for on Championship Wrestling from Florida.

Like everyone I’ve mentioned so far, Turbo Floyd and Truth Magnum are unabashed heels, dirty cheaters who look for every angle they can get to seize their advantage over their prettier, often younger opponents. They’re equally adept with zingers and one-liners as they are with putting together some slam-bang action. They get plenty of boos from the ladies and the kids, but there’s a solid block of guys who will cheer Truth and Turbo on against anyone.

Yep, I’m one of those guys.

The Outrunners went 25 minutes during the August 24 TV taping with Level X. No one was fidgeting or watching the clock during either bout. From start to finish, it was as entertaining a match as I’ve ever seen live, ending with a no contest finish that set up their Saturday night double dog collar match on August 27 that you can watch here:

It’s worth noting that the Tornado Tag from August 24 really made me appreciate the boys from Level X. Axton Ray took an absolute beating in that bout and never quit. He and his partner Blanco Loco have a bright future. 

Truth Magnum was once known as Shiloh Jonze, and back in 2014, he was one half of one of my favorite matches ever at the Davis Arena with his former tag partner Raul Espinoza. I’ll have to reprint that story sometime, as it was published in my now out of print book Eat Sleep Wrestle. 

Click here to follow Truth, and click here to follow Turbo. 

Freya the Slaya

Freya the Slaya

Yep, another heel. The biggest, baddest woman in the OVW women’s division, the Queen of the North is pretty universally hated by the OVW fans. That’s due in large part to how well Freya plays the role given her. 

Freya has a lot in common with Jack Vaughn in the way she works. She’s slower, more deliberate, and she makes every move look devastating. She may not be the current OVW Women’s Champion, thanks in part to her “ex-boyfriend” referee Aaron Grider, but until someone knocks her off her pedestal, she is still the most dominant woman in the house. 

And shout out to Aaron Grider, who two years ago appeared in a short film for me during Covid. Aaron got a lot of TV time during Freya’s recent run as champ, and he made the most of it. You hated him for letting himself be led around by the nose, and when Freya let her true feelings be known, your heart broke for him. 

You can follow Freya here, and you can follow Aaron here. 

Jay Malachi

Jay Malachi

Jay stands out on this list for two reasons. One, he’s a babyface, the only one I’ll write about in this column. And two… this kid didn’t exactly grow on me. He grabbed me from the moment he hit the ring. 

Jay is tall, fit, and incredibly athletic. He flies high when he’s on offense, and he flops hard when he’s taking a beating. Every time I see this kid, he’s doing something new in the air or off the ropes. He’s incredibly fast and remarkably creative, and when he takes to the sky, it feels like he’s in the air forever. 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. He’s also eighteen years old. 

I’ve seen Jay twice at OVW and once at Paradigm Pro Wrestling in Jeffersonville. I sure hope to see a lot more of him in the coming years, and I don’t mean on the local scene. 

You can follow Jay here on Twitter. 

One final note. Al Snow’s stated goal with OVW is that everyone who works at Davis Arena, from the wrestlers and refs to the backstage crew, can use it as a launching pad to the next level in professional wrestling. It’s worth noting that Shalonce Royal, The Outrunners, and Freya the Slaya have all made appearances on AEW Dark. They’re not the only current OVW roster members to do so, and they definitely won’t be the last.

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When Wrestling Was in Tiny Bars – Louisville Edition

Much ado has been made about a comment from a certain wrestling executive about how wrestling only took place in tiny bars before the WWF came along. Today I decided to share a few programs I have from one of those tiny bars: The Jefferson County Armory, now known as Louisville Gardens.

The first program is from way back in 1952. This tiny bar program saw World Champion Lou Thesz defend his title against Enrique Torres with former champ Ed “Strangler” Lewis in Thesz’s corner. Ray Eckert, Stu Gibson, Ethel Johnson, and Bill Longson were also on the card held in front of a meager 9281 fans in this tiny bar.

A year later, the same bar wrestling promotion, the Allen Athletic Club, presented this card:

Baron Leone was the victor in the main event that night, defeating Gentleman Jim Doby. Other stars included the Great Zorro (pictured), Mae Young, Bill Longson, Stu Gibson, and Gloria Barratini. The bar was really packed that night, with a new record attendance of 9384 reported in the newspaper.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m excited to see some of the changes this innovative WWE executive is already bringing to television. But if we’re really going to go all the way, perhaps we should drop the company line that pro wrestling was irrelevant before WWF at the same time we drop the word Superstar in favor of Wrestler.

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School’s Out: The Evolution of OVW

In a last minute turn of events, I made my way to Ohio Valley Wrestling tonight for the live broadcast of television episode 1199. I’ve witnessed many TV tapings in Davis Arena since my first visit twenty years ago, and I saw some terrific action tonight. What struck me the most, however, is how different this OVW is from the OVW I used to know.

I still have a program from the first night I ever visited OVW. Kurt Angle was in the main event, and a number of WWE stars like Batista, Shelton Benjamin, Rob Conway, and The Bashams, were on the card. Outside of Angle, however, none of the above were Superstars at the time. They were students, wrestling on a televised program from a wrestling school. Yes, these were the Superstars of Tomorrow Today, but it still had the feel of a wrestling school program.

I don’t get that feeling in Davis Arena these days. OVW continues to evolve under new management, and it no longer feels like you’re watching wrestling in a wrestling school. Everything about OVW screams “territory.”

First of all, there’s the arena itself. From the lighting rigs above to the seating arrangements to the presentation itself, nothing screams “wrestling school.” It looks and feels like any other professional promotion. I take that back; it feels a cut above most wrestling promotions, including some others that are televised. This is Professional wrestling with a capital P.

Second, take a look in the ring. Can you identify the students? Are they the young ones in the ring? Or maybe the newer faces? Perhaps the officials, or maybe the television crew? Every OVW card is stacked with talented men and women including long-time independent stalwarts (Hi, Cash Flo!) and faces you’ve seen not just on wrestling TV but reality TV. (I see you, Jesse Godderdz!)

The matches do not feel like students vs. students. The storylines do not smell of amateur booking. Once again, OVW  presents Professional wrestling with a capital P.

Now truth be told, everyone backstage at OVW, save for one, is a student of OVW. From the wrestlers to the refs to the production team to the announcers, every man and woman has come to sit under the learning tree of Al Snow. Even Doug Basham, who made a cameo during tonight’s pull apart between Amazing Maria and her daughter Haley J, is a student here. Yes, he’s a former WWE Tag Team Champion. Yes, he’s now teaching the advanced class. But he will tell you how much he has learned from resident “Mr. Miyagi.”

Al Snow is a born teacher. His stated goal is that everyone who works for OVW will take what they learn and use it to reach their goals in pro wrestling. The testimony to Al’s genius is how very professional, how very “non-wrestling school” his burgeoning territory looks in person. OVW is run like a territory. The people working OVW are taught to perform as professionals. Every time I attend a show, OVW moves further and further away from their wrestling school roots.

OVW tours like a territory. They’ve been all over the state this summer, putting on house shows in big towns and small. They’re across the river in New Albany tomorrow night (August 5), and they’re back at Davis Arena Saturday (August 6) for a stellar card that includes a casket match, the return to action by Amazing Maria, and a special appearance by Scotty 2 Hotty.

And of course, OVW broadcasts not only locally, but internationally through Fite TV. OVW’s wrestlers and announcers receive fan mail (and email) from around the world. Every week, more and more eyes are on the long-running Louisville promotion, one that marks its 1200th episode in seven days. Tonight’s episode is worth catching on Fite and included some great tag team action with Jesse Godderdz and Tony Gunn, a hard-hitting eight man match at the very end, and some fun video segments with Freya the Slaya and my old pal from the Three Blind Refs video, Aaron Grider.

OVW may not be in the same conversation as AEW, WWE, Impact, or New Japan, but the students of Al Snow have transformed what was once the nation’s top wrestling school into an honest-to-goodness, 21st century territory. Great things continue to happen at Davis Arena, and greater things are on the horizon for the students: in and out of Davis Arena.

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FTC Lights Up the (Mid)Night

The setting felt as outlaw as they come. Nestled less than a stone’s throw between the Ohio River and an active rail line sat a rusted, metal warehouse with an empty gravel lot just big enough to hold a wrestling ring. A trailer bearing the promotion’s logo stood next to the metal-framed entrance curtain, and four, bright LED lamps on fifteen foot stands provided all the illumination around the wrestling ring. The night air was at least cool, thanks to a few thunderstorms earlier in the day, and the bridge from Ohio to Kentucky illuminated in purple gave the scene an almost romantic backdrop.

Fans were already claiming their spots in the grass opposite the warehouse when I arrived at 7:30. There were a hundred or more by the 9 p.m. bell time, when the ring announcer took a moment to honor the veterans in the audience before asking everyone to stand for the national anthem. Finally, the first wrestler’s music hit, and FTC’s Midnight Madness was underway in Ironton, Ohio.

If you’re picturing the infamous meme on social media mocking your typical, local wrestling promotion (the champion is also the owner, the champ’s kid is on the card, and the veteran who once worked as an extra on Raw), you’ve got the scene all wrong. There were several names on the card that made the three hour trip from my hometown worthwhile: T.I.M. The Infinite Man, Dani Mo, Facade, and the big surprise added to the fatal four-way at the end of the night, Dustin Jackson.

“Is that OVW’s Dustin Jackson?” I whispered to my host after hearing his name announced.

Bobby Blaze grinned. “Yes, sir!”

As I said on a few social media accounts Saturday night, this evening’s entertainment reminded me why I fell in love with indy wrestling. The show had a little of everything: singles, tags, a street fight, and the aforementioned fatal five way. Facade thrilled everyone by taking a leap off the top of the only port-a-pot on the grounds, and Calab Thorne gave everyone a jolt when Misery tossed him off the top of the FTC trailer, over my book table, and onto a pile of three other guys.

@johncosperauthor

And they missed the book table. Phew! Great night in Ironton watching FTC wrestling. #indiewrestling #ftc

♬ original sound – John Cosper

The intimacy of the setting led to some great interaction between fans and wrestlers, the kind of thing you just don’t get at a TV taping. Two little girls raced up to get hugs from every babyface, and one of them got a bit of a fright from T.I.M. when she boldly ran up to taunt him after his loss. Nursing his injuries, T.I.M. turned and screamed, “AAAAAA!!!” at the girls, causing the smaller one to leap back a good ten feet.

I have Bobby Blaze to thank for my ringside seat Saturday night, and the fans have Bobby to thank for the quality behind much of the action. Many of the wrestlers working the show are students of his, and I couldn’t help hearing shades of Tracy Smothers as I listened to Bobby silently comment all through the action.

“Slow it down! Take your time! There you go, that’s it! Now why are you taking him back there? The fans can’t see you!”

Bobby’s passion is evident not only in the commentary, but the way he brags on his kids. As Jock Sampson did his own Tracy Smothers impression, running down the fans on the mic, Bobby filled me in on the kid in the opposite corner, Steve Meek. “He’s a great singer. He’s in a barbershop quartet, and he’s headed back to college this fall.”

One young lady I was eager to see was Reese Ramone, who I spotlighted a few months ago on this blog. You can read my previous interview with her here. Reese took on the heel role in a street fight/ blow off match with fan favorite Sarah Bubbles. The ladies brawled in and out of the ring, with Reese taking a hard bump off the side of the trailer and Sarah taking some wicked shots from Reese’s cowboy boots that everyone could feel. Proud wrestling poppa Bobby Blaze had nothing but praise for the girls throughout the fight. “Take your time! Don’t rush! That’s it, perfect!”

Reese demonstrated her skills as a majorette, a role she fills for the Marshall University marching band, twirling her baton and using it on Sarah as a weapon. Alas it was Sarah who seized the baton, using it to finish Reese and bring the match – and their current feud – to an end.

The teacher wasn’t done with the student. Reese not only got feedback from Bobby following her bout, she sat under the learning tree as he continued to share his own private commentary with the two of us through the night’s remaining matches. Bobby’s a hell of a teacher. That much was evident last summer when I discovered his former student Judi-Rae Hendrix, who is now with OVW. Reese is smart, talented, and oh so good at being bad. She’s also a heck of a nice person, when she’s not telling booing little children to shut up. I expect to see her have great success in the years to come.

One of my long-time best friends lives across the river from Ironton in Ashland, Kentucky. He’s not a fan, but he had told me several times the last few weeks what a great job the local wrestling promoters were doing. He wasn’t exaggerating. FTC runs shows all over the tri-state area, and if you’re close by or passing through when the next show kicks off, it’s worth the trip. I had a blast watching the action, seeing good friends, and getting my own ear full of Bobby Blaze’s wisdom.

You can follow FTC on Twitter and Facebook.

Bobby Blaze can be found on Twitter.

Reese Ramone can be found on Twitter and Instagram.

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Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville

How long has Louisville been obsessed with professional wrestling? Try 145 years!

Since 1877, fans have flocked to the theaters, the gymnasiums, the arenas, and yes, the Louisville Gardens to get their fix of rasslin’. Louisville, Kentucky has long been a crossroads for the business, and the Bluegrass fans were witness to the rise of major stars throughout the ages. Lou Thesz, Buddy Rodgers, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, The Rock, Mildred Burke, Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Dave Bautista. The list goes on.

Bluegrass Brawlers unveils the past, present, and future of pro wrestling in the River City. It’s a story filled with legendary wrestlers, quirky promoters, historic venues, and local dreamers.

Click here to read more and order your copy now! 

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Bluegrass Brawlers: My Horse for a Wrestling Ticket!

Who would you say is Louisville’s biggest wrestling fan?

I know more than one person who would say it was their grandma. Not grandpa, but grandma. That’s no accident. As far back as the 1940s women were as frequent a site in the stands as men, thanks in part to the efforts of Betty McDonogh in the Allen Athletic Club ticket office. Even in the 80s, many old ladies never missed wrestling at the Louisville Gardens or the chance to tell their least favorite wrestler too kiss their wrinkled butts.

You could also make a case the biggest fan ever was Jim Oetkins. Jim reached out to me after I published Louisville’s Greatest Show and asked if we could meet. He brought along a spiral notebook he kept in the 1950s, recording the results from every week at the Columbia Gym on 4th Street. All those records I pulled off the Internet, he’d kept them in real time as a boy!

And let’s not forget the woman who went into labor one Tuesday night at the Gardens. She was on a gurney, ready to be rushed down the street to give birth, but she refused to leave. Teeny Jarrett pleaded with her, promising to let her know who won the main event, but the woman wanted to see for herself!

And then there’s the man who tried to get a wrestling ticket in exchange for a horse.

The incident took place on March 9, 1933 out in front of the Savoy Theater, now long-vanished from Market Street downtown. In the midst of The Great Depression, the Savoy Theater’s manager C.B. Blake (pictured below) announced that for one night only, the theater would accept “scrip, certified checks, promissory notes, merchandise, or pawn on valuables as par values.” Cash was, of course, still accepted for those who had it.

The Savoy wrestling show was the hot ticket in 1933, and many fans took them up on the offer. According to The Courier-Journal, the box office accepted a variety of items in lieu of money for tickets that night:  oats, sauerkraut, sauerkraut juice, razor blades, a sewing machine, coffee, malt, cheese, socks, canned milk, canned chile, a card table, rings, lavaliers, watches, $3 in Courier-Journal scrip, crackers, flour, soft drinks, tomatoes, peas, corn, IOUs from four barbers, a ham, fifteen dozen eggs, and five chickens. Attendance that night was 1567, and the box office collected $809.75 cash in addition to the $90 worth of merchandise.

There was one offer refused by Blake and company. A man rode up shortly before bell time and asked if he could get a wrestling ticket in exchange for a horse. There’s nothing to indicate if the horse was in fine condition of a swaybacked nag, but the offer was refused.

You can hardly blame the guy for trying. Jack Reynolds was on the card that night, along with former Kentucky Wildcat Billy Love and speed boat racer “Wild Bill” Cantrell. Everyone wanted tickets to the Savoy!

The tale of the Savoy Theater is a fascinating saga that was missed when I first published Bluegrass Brawlers. Blake and his booker would fend off multiple challenges from rival promoters (including Abe Finberg down the street at the Gayety Theater) as well as two different incarnations of the Kentucky State Athletic Commission. They were the top draw in Louisville for many years – until Blake’s booker, Heywood Allen, decided to part company and start his own wrestling promotion.

You can read the story of C.B. Blake and the Savoy Theater in the 10th anniversary edition of Bluegrass Brawlers. Click here to order your signed copy today.

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Bluegrass Brawler: Steve Callaway

The first edition of Bluegrass Brawlers shined a spotlight on The Black Panther Jim Mitchell. An African American born in Louisville, Mitchell became a superstar and main event draw first in the Midwest and then around the world. His feud with Gorgeous George in 1949 led to a riot that sent three fans to the hospital and spawned a few lawsuits. Mitchell blazed a trail for future stars like Bobo Brazil and left an incredible legacy I later chronicled in full in The Original Black Panther.

The newest edition of Bluegrass Brawlers sheds a light on more African American grapplers in Louisville, including a local folk hero whose time came and went before The Black Panther was born.

Steve Callaway resided at 421 Conrad Street, and in the spring of 1904, he developed a reputation as a grappler who could not be beat.For three months, Callaway took on challengers and vanquished every one. By midsummer, there were few men left in the city willing to challenge him.

On July 15, a man named Silas Adams walked into Jones at Williams Saloon at 102 East Green Street. He spotted Callaway, and he observed that the “champ” looked somewhat worn out and haggard. Sensing an opportunity, Adams challenged Callaway to a match. Callaway accepted, and the two men wrestled on the saloon floor until Callaway had once again been proved unbeatable. He was receiving back slaps and congratulations from friends and onlookers when suddenly, Callaway collapsed to the floor.

Callaway passed away within a matter of minutes. After a quick examination, the coroner determined that the champ, Louisville’s first black wrestling hero, had died from “a stroke of apoplexy due to overexertion.”

I wish I could tell you more about Callaway, but the story of his last match is the only time his name even appeared in the Courier-Journal. His rose to prominence took place nearly a decade before wrestling would become a regular attraction at one of the downtown theaters. His bouts were never scheduled, and no tickets were ever sold. He took on all comers, wrestling challengers any time and anywhere while bystanders placed their bets.

Callaway’s story is one of many you’ll read in the new edition of Bluegrass Brawlers. Click here to order your signed copy, and use the coupon code “esw” to save 10%.

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Girl Fight Brings the Heat

What kind of fools would go out on a sweltering Tuesday night to sit in a notoriously steamy building to watch a wrestling show?

Well, me, for one. And a bunch of other fans spoiling for a Girl Fight.

Despite the intense heat and humidity, the ladies and the fans turned out for Girl Fight this week, and the speedy, single-intermission show delivered with action the fans have come to expect.

Our night kicked off with the boisterous girl from Rydell High Big Mama wrestling the under-handed Savannah Sweet. Big Mama has always been popular with the Jeffersonville crowd, but it was the underhanded Sweet with her foreign object that stole a victory in the opener.

The second match brought two ladies who debuted in April to the ring. I’m becoming a fan of Big Boss Anika, whose Florence Pugh-like Russian accent and constant chatter are a riot to hear. It was Rachel Armstrong, though, who stole the show with the move of the night: a beautiful 450 off the top turnbuckle that had every gasping. Armstrong impressed last month in her debut against Billie Starkz, and she solidified her status as a new fan favorite with her first Girl Fight win.

The final match before intermission saw Bashley Bones in a losing effort against Randi West. West has been absent from Girl Fight for some time, and the crowd was thrilled to see her back at The Arena. She’s one of the toughest broads in the business, and it was great to see her back.

After a quick cool off, the action resumed with another return: “Big Al” Alice Crowley wrestling Mickie Knuckles. Big Al is a protege of Randi West who has been absent from the Girl Fight spotlight for a few years, and she’s come a long way from the girl who had her first ever match at the Arena. The veteran Mickie Knuckles, fresh off a banger of a deathmatch over the weekend against Sawyer Wreck, was too much for Big Al and took home the win in a slug fest.

Speaking of Sawyer Wreck, the 6’2″ powerhouse made quick work of the over-matched Eva Lee. Everything about Sawyer, from her ring entrance to her fluid movements to the cocky grin on her face spells superstar. In April I envisioned her in a “Property of NXT” T-shirt. Last night, I was picturing her standing toe to toe with Jade Cargill.

The first featured match of the night followed with Allie Katch wrestling long-time Girl Fight star Charlie Kruel. One of the things I love about Girl Fight being in my backyard is watching ladies like Kruel go from fresh-faced rookies to fully-formed wrestlers. Charlie Kruel has never looked as good as she did Tuesday. She was confident. She was crafty. She’s picked up a lot over the past year and even the past few months. She has long had one of the biggest hearts in pro wrestling, and she’s developing the skill set to match.

The final match of the evening was for the Girl Fight Championship. Billie Starkz issued an open challenge for the title, and Candy Jones showed up to accept. Unlike last month, when Billie showed her heel side against poor Rachel Armstrong, the teen sensation behaved herself. She took the win and retained her championship with her signature smile, sending the soaked-with-sweat fans home happy.

For the second show in a row, Girl Fight delivered an all-female event. From the ring announcer to the referees to the TV announcers, Girl Fight is all about girl power. Despite the heat, they delivered another solid show mixing veterans, new faces, and long-time favorites.

Here’s hoping it’s a little cooler the next time they come to Jeffersonville… not that that’s likely to keep the fans away!

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Take a Trip With Mars

I’m so excited to see the reaction to this book so far. When you write about a wrestler who was born 100 years ago (this August) and died 65 years ago (also this August), you don’t do it for the money. It’s for the love of the person. It’s a real joy when other people fall in love with them too!

Mars Bennett caught my eye while I was writing about Elvira Snodgrass. She appeared in a “cheesecake” publication from 1948 that Elvira was also in. Elvira was part of a pro wrestling pictorial. Mars was one page over, featured separately. She was hugely popular with the pin-ups and a favorite with those who liked girls with muscles.

A natural athlete, Mars excelled at sports in high school. I’ve seen many photos of her athletic prowess, including some fun, acrobatic shots on the beach with her brother. She was a natural on the webs and the trapeze when she joined the circus, and she became a stellar pro wrestler.

Mars crammed a lot of living into 35 years. She loved performing and being in the spotlight. She loved meeting famous people and collecting autographs. She was engaged twice: once to a jeweler, and once to comedian Larry Storch, before he became a TV legend. She also found love with one of her fellow lady wrestlers, Belle Drummond. The two shared a home, a car, a pair of dogs, and hundreds of adventures.

The Girl With The Iron Jaw includes over 70 photos, many of them from the family archives. You’ll read dozens of great stories including a bar fight, Texas death matches, a kidnapped dog, and the night she took a punch in the ring from Dory Funk, Sr. It’s a wild ride that comes to a sad, tragic end, but a true celebration of a bygone era and a legendary figure.

This book is now in stock! 

Click here to order your signed copy.

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Meet the Artist: James Duncan

James Duncan is a busy guy. I know, because I’m one of the people who keeps him busy. Over the last several years, he’s become my go-to for photo book covers: Chris Candido, Princess Victoria, Charlie Kruel, Ella, Wahoo McDaniel, and most recently, Mars Bennett. Every time I send him a new challenge, he amazes me. The work just keeps getting better.

I really appreciate James and all the work he does, so I wanted to tell you more about him. First off, he doesn’t just do wrestling book covers. He’s done covers for non-wrestling books too. And he’s a wizard at creating wrestling fliers. He works for a number of indy promotions in this regard, and his work stands out.

James is also one of the founding owners of Paradigm Pro Wrestling, a Southern Indiana group featured in the new edition of Bluegrass Brawlers. Paradigm is really building a fan base not just locally but around the world through their live streaming. It was where I first saw a few people who are now working with national companies, including Swerve Scott and Ace Austin. James works on the production side, and he’s responsible for everything from logos and graphics to lighting and sound.

When he’s not designing graphics, or preparing for the next PPW show, he’s probably in the editing room. He edits video for Paradigm Pro and a number of other indies including PWF, IWA Mid South, Girl Fight, New Wave Pro, Big Time Wrestling, and KEPW.

James is a talented artist, great to work with, and on top of everything else… he loves wrestling. If you’re looking for any sort of graphics work in the wrestling space or beyond, I urge you to give him a try.

Here’s where you can find James on social media:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

And here are the many covers he’s created for me: