I met Mike Rodgers three years ago in Las Vegas when he was given the James Melby Award at the Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion. Mike has been chronicling wrestling history far longer than I have, and it’s been an honor to act as his publisher.
Today, I hand the floor over to Mike to introduce himself and his work. His latest book Katie Bar the Door! History of Portland Wrestling is now available on Amazon.
John asked me to write a little bit on his blog and I thought that would be fun. I will introduce myself and talk a little about my projects.
I started a bulletin in 1983 called Ring Around The Northwest. It was 3 pages, 50 cents and I sent it out to about 50 people, and a few of them even paid.
Jump ahead a few years and computers came into being and I increased the bulletin to 10 pages and started doing interviews. I was fortunate to have a number of interviews with people who had wrestled in the Northwest including Lou Thesz, Don Leo Jonathan, Bryan Danielson, Mad Dog Vachon, John Tolos, Rick Martel and a number of others.
The bulletin continued for 30 years until 2013, upon which time increased costs and the internet pretty much put print bulletins out of their misery.
At times several people had visited with me about producing a book, both on these interviews and a history of Portland Wrestling. Lack of time forced these people to back off any involvement.
When I discovered Portland Wrestling at the age of 8, I also discovered that the lineups and results were in the Portland papers. At age 8 my family moved out of the Northwest. I made my grandma save the sports sections so when I returned I could look at the wrestling results and catch up on the entire year that I had missed.
When I became aware of wrestling, I always felt like I had walked in halfway thru a movie. I wanted to know what had happened before.
When I returned to the NW in 1972 and started watching wrestling, I started recording everything that happened in a notebook. I recorded the matches, any special moves, the finishes. What each wrestler talked about on their interviews. Every aspect of Portland Wrestling. That notebook proved to be so valuable as I wrote Katie Bar The Door.
When I was in college I discovered the library had microfilm of the Portland papers. I spent hours going thru roll and roll of microfilm recording wrestling results from years prior.
Now we are up to this past summer (2021). I was having lunch with Frank Culbertson and he revisited the book idea. He said, “You should write a book.” I laughed and agreed. Then he said, YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK and I can help.
So we started rounding up these interviews and we started gathering up photos and doing the preparations to get it ready. Finally we had a title, a cover and the layout and we had edited it. We sent it to John. I had no idea what the timeline might be at that point. I figured a month or so until the first book hit the light of day. The next morning I noticed our book is available on Amazon. That was the moment I became a BIG John Cosper fan.
The second volume of Excitement in the Air. We had a interview with Buddy Wayne who has passed and we got an update from his son Nick. Nick is 16 but traveling every weekend and working all over the country. We grabbed a photo of a match Nick had on a Saturday night. The following Wednesday the book was ready and available on Amazon. I find that turnaround amazing.
The latest book that has just come out this week is a culmination of a lifetime passion. There are over 500 photos that have come from my collection, photos I have taken and 2 photographers will really help make this book special. There are many photos by Ken Hamblin who has been my friend for over 40 years. Also Lloyd Phillips has some amazing photos from the early 70’s. His photos are in black and white and are so clear and sharp. I told Lloyd years ago that if a Portland Wrestling book ever came to be, it had to have his photos included!
Whenever the action really got going, the TV announcer would always shout Katie Bar the Door. That meant that the the wrestling was going to be fantastic.
I hope this book can bring the flavor of what a tradition that Portland Wrestling was.