The cat is out of the bag. Mad Man Pondo is writing a book.
After years of being badgered by friends and fans alike, Pondo has agreed to put his incredible story into writing. It will be my honor to help him do just that.
This won’t be an ordinary autobiography, however. First of all, it’s Mad Man Pondo’s autobiography. It’s going to be filled with blood, violence, and some of the wildest tales ever spun by any professional wrestler.
Second, Pondo won’t be the only one telling the story. This story will also be told by the people who know and love the Mad Man.
Pondo is inviting all wrestlers, referees, promoters, fans, and friends who have a story to share to contribute them to this book. If you have a tale to share, please connect with my via email or on Facebook, and let me know your Pondo memories.
If you just can’t wait for the book, you can pick up a copy of Eat Sleep Wrestle while you wait. The book covers more than a dozen independent wrestlers, old and young, and a number of Mad Man Pondo stories. It’s worth the cover price just to read Austin Bradley’s epic tale, “One Night In Tennessee With Mad Man Pondo.”
The beautiful thing about the wrestling business is no matter where you are from or who you were, you can become just about anything you want to be. Such is the case with Kaitlin Diemond, a girl from Canada who is not only a wrestler, but a rock star in Japan!
Kaitlin grew up watching wrestling during the Attitude Era. She had a special place in her heart for fellow Canadians Chris Jericho and Trish Stratus, but in her words, “Everyone was so good back then!” She was hooked, and when she had the chance, she started training with Irish Mike O’Shea in Ontario. “I never attended a wrestling school like most people,” she says, though she is always looking for opportunities to learn. “I had the chance to train in the AAA gym in Mexico City and the Zero 1 Dojo in Japan.”
Kaitlin never felt the need to put on an alter ego in the ring. “I’ve always just kind of been myself. I never felt the need to conform because I felt my persona is genuine and the people can feel that.” Kaitlin is a huge fan of karaoke, and that is what led to her call herself the Roppungi Rockstar. “I had the amazing opportunity to record a song and even perform some concerts in Japan. I’m still me, but it’s a fresher take on who I’ve become recently.”
Kaitlin has has many memorable matches in her career, including an encounter with two of the Attitude Era’s fiercest ladies when she wrestled Ivory at age seventeen. “Molly Holly was the special guest referee. It always will be a special moment for me, as I look up to both ladies hugely.”
Another unforgettable moment happened during her recent tour with Zero 1. “My first time wrestling at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo earlier this year is probably the most chills I have ever felt.”
Kaitlin credits her time with Zero 1 with helping her take her talents to the next level. “Japan changed my life completely. The training there is INSANE. So regardless if I look the same/better/worse I can promise you I’m in much better shape as far as conditioning goes. I’ve come back with a much more Japanese strong style of offense. I wrestle more like a monster now and less like everyone else. You may also fall victim to my secret weapon: Sake!”
Kaitlin is hoping to make a name for herself in North America, and she has er sights set on Shimmer, TNA, ROH, and WWE, for whom she has already had a few tryouts. “Are those goals realistic? Who knows? If I am not in any of those places in five years time, I really hope that I am continuing to travel to Japan. Stardom was a huge goal achieved for me this year, and I would love to make it my second home.”
Kaitlin is constantly on the move, visiting new promotions and old, but fans can follow her on Twitter @kaitlindiemond as well as Facebook for updates on her schedule.
Thanks to Austin Bradley for the hook up on the interview!
Austin Bradley is home and started on the road to recovery. Hoping that his doctor’s visit goes well next week and he can get back in the ring quickly. Here’s a note from the flight home.
“As I am on my flight home and reflect on the month I spent In Japan, I have mixed feelings. I am so happy for the experience. At the same time I am not happy about having to leave early due to this injury. I know I will be back and better than ever. The Zero 1 office made the call and although I was not happy, they were right in sending me home to heal. The fact that I was invited back makes this easier.
“It is amazing to me how much I was able to learn in such a short time. It was defiantly a culture shock but with the help of some of the gaijin vets I learned slowly but surely the ways of the Japanese culture. I owe a big thank you to Sean Guinness, Buffa and James Raideen for putting up with my ignorance to the culture and styles and for having my back and teaching me. Nothing but respect to you guys, and I look forward to coming back and seeing you guys again.
“I’m headed back to Louisville to family and friends, but now its crunch time. I will heal and train and continue to grow as both a wrestler and a person. I want to once again thank the Zero 1 office and wrestlers for the experience and the lessons learned. Also a thank you to Sei Ozawa for being and amazing person. Thank you to DANO, Mad Man Pondo, John Clark, Ozzy Sufi and Allison Blevins for being the best friends a guy could ask for. Thank you to my lady Brittany for staying by my side and being so supportive.
“Last but certainly not least, my family. I love you guys and to my number one fan My mom thank you for supporting me in my dream since day one, you have been an inspiration my entire life and I love you. To my Dad you put up with more than anyone and I am thankful for all your sacrifices and tough love you have showed me. If I can ever be half the man, father and husband you are I will be happy. My brother Collin you are my best friend and I hope one day we will catch this flight together. Thank you to all my supporters. This is a bit corny and long winded, but I want to show my thanks.”
Austin Bradley’s sojourn into Japan has come to an early end, but from the sound of things, this is not “The End.” Austin will be back. He will be stronger than ever. He will be back in front of his hometown friends soon, and he will return to his brothers in Japan.
Here’s the news in his own words.
“Well guys unfortunately I have some bad news. During training yesterday my shoulder was dislocated. I went to the doctor following the training session and had some test and scans and today the results came in. My rotator cuff is torn and is gonna put me out of action for at least 2 months. So the Zero 1 office has decided it best for me to go home and recover and come back once I heal.
“This will not be the end of Austin Bradley as a member of the Zero 1 team. The month I have been here has been amazing. I’ve had some great matches, and I am so glad to be a member of this dojo. Thank you to Zero 1 as a whole for giving me this opportunity. It’s time to recover and come back stronger than ever.
“Coming home early isn’t easy for me, but no one needs to feel sorry or apologize. I got to do things and have experiences that most in this business never will. It’s not goodbye forever. It’s see ya later. I will come back to Japan and finish my mission, but now it’s time to focus on recovery. I want to thank all the people who have stayed by my side. Thank you to all of you for your love and support.
“One final thing to share about Japan: among the wrestlers, when you pose for a photo with the middle finger in the air, that’s called Pondo-style. The more you know.”
Thanks to everyone who has followed Austin’s story here as well. Austin has already overcome many challenges in his life, some of which I chronicled in Eat Sleep Wrestle. There will be more tales to tell, and I plan to carry them for him on future returns.
Spotty Internet reception and a busy schedule has slowed the updates from Japan, but it sounds like all continues to go well for Louisville’s Austin Bradley in Japan. As a matter of fact, Austin nearly became a father, but not for the reason you’re thinking, dirty minds. You see… Well, just read for yourself.
“The tour wrapped up rather smoothly. I did a lot of charity work. Went to a home of the mentally disabled.
“Today I taught five young orphan girls to bump and roll in the ring. I posted a picture on Facebook of me and the kids, but I was asked to take it down due to orphanage rules. I thought it was a school event we were volunteers for, and I was surprised when they told me they were orphans. I guess it’s my mom in me but, I always have a soft spot for kids. There was one particular little girl who clung to me for the whole show. She was the toughest and funniest little girl I’ve ever seen. I would’ve adopted her if I was in a place in life that would allow it.
“I can honestly say that as much as wrestling has toughened me up, kids always get to my gentle side. It was a humbling and rewarding experience I do not take lightly.
“One of the North American friends I met over here just went home and is looking for bookings. Her name is Kaitlin Diemond, and she became quite the rock star working for Stardom. If you’re looking for a badass chick, please connect with her on Facebook and book her!
“I also am very excited for upcoming shows and events. There is so much more to see and do. Little foreshadowing for you: Mount Fuji will be climbed!”
“We left Tokyo two days ago to go on tour and endured a grueling 20 hour drive all the way to Kumamoto. The shows are sold out for the whole tour, and it’s been an amazing experience. I have picked up on the hard hitting strong style pretty well. I am enjoying my time here.
“Last night as we were riding home, from the show about three hours from Kumamoto, an emergency announcement came on the radio. I saw a look of concern on the faces of both Masato Tanaka and Hidaka. It was in Japanese and the other gaijin in the car noticed the same. I asked Tanaka. ‘What wrong?’
“He replied, ‘Big earthquake.’
“I asked where.
“He said, ‘In town we stay.’
“I was a worried, but there was nothing we could do but hold on and wait for it to stop.
“The quake measured a 6.4 on the Richter scale. Being from Louisville I have never experienced anything like this. I didn’t know what to expect when we got to the hotel. The shampoo had all fallen on the floor and made a mess. The plate that held my breakfast that morning was broken on the floor. So was the painting on the wall.
“I started making contact with my family and loved ones back home to let them know I was okay. All of a sudden, the damn hotel starts shaking. I put my shoes on and head for the lobby and the safety of outdoors.
“When when I reach the lobby, I spotted all the Japanese boys sitting in the dining area. They asked if I was going to get food. I said, ‘No, the damn hotels shaking!’
“They laughed at me. ‘Just an aftershock. Calm self, Country Boy.’
“Yes, they call me Country Boy. They gave me nickname due to my frequent dipping and the Southern accent I never knew I had until I got here.
“I went back to my room and Skype called my girlfriend Brit as the hotel is still shaking.
“Our show that night was canceled because one of the walls at the venue collapsed, so the Zero One crew headed out to help with the clean up. That evening, I got to experience one of the great urban legends along American wrestlers: the sponsor’s dinner. Those who have never been to Japan often wonder if the stories of lavish meals hosted by wealthy wrestling enthusiasts are true. They sound like pure fantasies, like kayfabe and good looking ring rats. Imagine the look on my little old face when I was told that we were being driven to a paid for dinner where we can eat what we want. It’s all true, dammit, and not only did I eat all I wanted, I drank way too much.
“Which leads me back to the quake. Make that the second quake. We were back at the hotel when the second one, a 7.1, hit the area. We were all completely drunk from the sponsor dinner when they evacuated the hotel. What’s it like being drunk during a huge earthquake? Its horrible. You can’t tell if you are wobbling cause you are drunk or because of the ground shaking beneath you.”
Haven’t had an official update from Austin Bradley for a while, but if you follow him on Facebook, you’ve probably heard the news. An earthquake struck Japan near where he and Zero 1 were staying. BBC is reporting that at least 9 people were killed and 250 injured in the 6.4 quake.
The Zero 1 crew, including Austin, were three hours away from the center of the quake, but when they arrived back at the hotel, they were all feeling tremors and aftershocks.
Austin is fine, and like any good son should, he Skyped with his mom to let her know he is okay. A wall at the venue that was to house their next show collapsed, so the show was canceled. The entire Zero 1 crew chose to go out and lend a hand to those in need.
Austin hasn’t had wifi access much on the road, but I am sure we’ll hear more details soon. Please follow Austin on Facebook for the latest, and check back here for updates as he sends them in.
If you pray, please pray for the people affected by the quake and those lending a hand. You might throw up a prayer for Austin’s Mom too, bless her heart.
Austin’s on the road, getting his first taste of wrestling action before a live crowd. Still a few weeks out from getting in the ring himself. Here’s the latest:
Been on the road for two days now. First thing. When you are touring in Japan its a lot like the states. You live out of 7\11’s except there is no food I can recognize. If it looks like cheese its egg; learned that the hard way.
Japan shows in general draw a lot more fans. A small show here is 500 people, all paid. Communication is becoming easier with my Japanese co-workers. A lot of broken English and the few Japanese words I know. I will say that having fellow gaijin here is a big help. You just have to know who to trust.
On another note the crowds are different for all the reasons they are famous for. Although I knew the stories of Japanese crowds. At first when they would get quiet I would think they were bored. Of course it’s the exact opposite. They are paying attention to every detail and only get loud when the action has stopped or someone kicks out of a pin.
As for how I am feeling so far, well I am excited, anxious to learn and grow and just to think this is only a little over a week in.
“I went to my first Zero 1 show. The style of wrestling here is so different, but so much better. Fans still believe cause the strong style leaves no room for disbelief.
“Sei Ozawa, a T-shirt maker Mad Man Pondo introduced me to, took me out to Mr. Danger’s Steakhouse. By far the best steak I have ever had. (Note to all Americans. Thank god for spoons! You don’t know how lucky you are until you try to eat corn with chopsticks.)
“It has been a great experience so far. I am learning a whole new psychology in the ring that I plan on utilizing back in the States, and I think fans there will be very happy with it. I thank everyone for the love and support I have had while here and want you all to know that when I come back, it will be a whole new Louisville Slugger.”
“Day 4 in Japan. Today was our day off, but here is the trick….. There are no off days. I woke up. Dman and I cooked up some beef and rice and headed straight for the dojo. 2 hours of weight lifting. Followed by going home and eating, taking a nap. Wake up from our nap. Back to the dojo for lifting session number 2. Then we went home ate again, and now as I write this we are waiting for the stardom dojo to finish there training for lifting session number 3. Not the most exciting day, but we are putting in work.”
Follow Austin Bradley’s journey in Japan here and on his Facebook page!