Had another visit with John Wroblewski at Every Day Fan, this week. This is becoming a habit!
This time we’re talking a lot more fiction than wrestling, but we do hit on both. If you want to check out Girl Most Likely to Kill You, Zombies of Oz, or the Dead Park book series, please visit www.deadparkbooks.com
No, don’t get your hopes up. There’s no Hall of Fame in the works by me, or anyone else I know of. Just a little hypothetical question:
If there were a Louisville Wrestling Hall of Fame, who would you want to see in it?
I have a long list of suggestions. In no particular order, they are:
Ed “Strangler” Lewis – A first ballot entry for sure, the Strangler got his famous name in Louisville after showing up two weeks late for a booking under his real name.
Heywood Allen – A referee turned promoter who was involved in the Louisville wrestling scene from the early 1900s until 1947.
Francis S. McDonogh – Allen’s successor, who took the Allen Athletic Club into its hey day in the 1950s, pioneering wrestling on Louisville television and drawing record crowds at the Armory.
Betty McDonogh – Wife of Francis and the business manager for Allen and her husband. She gets credit for helping to popularize wrestling with a female audience in the 1940s, when the promotion drew more ladies every week for a time than men.
Wild Bill Longson – The only man to win a world championship in Louisville. Longson was a fixture for the Allen Athletic Club throughout the 40s and 50s and even worked as a booker for the promotion.
“The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell – A true pioneer, Mitchell was an African American wrestler before, during, and after the “color barrier” was put in place. He was also a mentor to the legendary Bobo Brazil.
Col. Stu Gibson – A New Albany native and former football hero who became a huge heel in Louisville and San Antonio.
Wee Willie Davis – A wrestler and movie star who moved to Louisville and ran a few promotions during the late 50s and 60s.
Jerry Jarrett – Wrestler and promoter who brought Louisville into the Memphis territory in 1970.
Jerry Lawler – The King of Memphis could lay equal claim to royalty in Louisville with all the legendary nights he had at the Gardens.
Jim Cornette – Arguably the most famous Louisville native in the pro wrestling business. Considered one of the greatest managers of all time. With the Rock N Roll Express going into the WWE Hall of Fame, one can only hope Jim and the Midnight Express will be next.
Danny Davis – Wrestler and manager during the Memphis era who moved to Louisville and founded OVW.
Ian Rotten – Former ECW wrestler who founded IWA Mid-South, a promotion that has lasted just as many years as the more mainstream OVW.
Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin – Louisville native and life-long nemesis of Cornette, Bolin helped launch the WWE careers of more than 4 dozen wrestlers who once belonged to Bolin Services.
John Cena – OVW’s most famous son.
CM Punk – IWA Mid-South’s most famous son.
The “OVW Four” aka Rob Conway, Nick Dinsmore, The Damaja, and Doug Basham – Four Southern Indiana natives, two (Conway and Dinsmore) from right across the river, who made it to the WWE after starting in the OVW beginner class. Basham and Damaja were a tag team in the E. Dinsmore became the surprisingly popular U-Gene. Conway is the only Louisville native to win the WWE Tag Title and went on to become a two-time NWA World Champion.
Dean Hill – Current “owner” of OVW, Hill was a ring announcer at the Louisville Gardens before becoming the voice of Louisville wrestling as OVW’s TV announcer.
Okay, Louisville fans, let’s hear it. Who would you put in a Louisville Wrestling Hall of Fame?
Tuesday night, the WWE will mark the 900th episode of Smackdown. Wednesday, Ohio Valley Wrestling will equal that mark with their 900th episode – the first ever broadcast in HD.
OVW has come a long way. Founded by Danny Davis as the Nightmare Wrestling Academy in Jeffersonville, OVW broke into the national wrestling consciousness when they were made the official training school for the WWE. When the fabled first class of OVW made its way to the main roster, wrestlers across the country began flocking to Louisville, knowing that OVW represented their best chance to make it to the big time.
The WWE banners are long gone, and the brief stint with TNA is now ancient history as well. Yet OVW today is as strong as ever, with a new generation taking the reigns in the ring as well as backstage.
It’s one thing for a multi-million dollar promotion to make it to 900 shows. It’s quite another for an independent promotion to reach the same milestone. It’s a tribute to the talent of the teachers, the quality of the program’s graduates, and the devotion of the OVW fans.
Congratulations goes to Danny Davis, Rip Rogers, Gilbert Corsey, Adam Revolver, Dean Hill, and everyone at OVW keeping the proud tradition alive. OVW is still one of the best places to learn your craft from master teachers. Their commitment to new technology is a signal that this small town promotion has hundreds more television programs in its future.
Found another “deep cut” on Youtube worth sharing. This looks like it was late in the Memphis run. You can catch a glimpse of referee Frank Morrell neat the end, and I’m pretty sure the announcer you hear but never see (except for the microphone that appears in the left of the frame) during the backstage footage is none other than Dean Hill.
Not every star who appeared on a card for the Allen Athletic Club was a national star. Heywood Allen and Francis McDonough brought many of the country’s biggest names to Louisville during the promotion’s 22 years, but they created many local legends along the way.
In January of 1949 Francis McDonough introduced Marvin Moore to the Tuesday night faithful at the Jefferson County Armory. Melvin “Buck” Moore was an eight year veteran of the Louisville Police Department. He was born December 2, 1916 in Lambert, OK and graduated from Louisville Male High School.
Moore served 33 years with the Louisville police department. He rode a motorcycle as a member of the traffic detail and also served as a detective. In later years Moore trained new recruits in skills such as hand-to-hand combat, and his students included OVW announcer Dean Hill as well as former Louisville Police Chief Doug Hamilton, who recalls that many of the moves taught by Moore bore a striking similarity to professional wrestling maneuvers.
Moore was instrumental in the founding of Louisville’s Fraternal Order of Police in 1960. He was also a cartoonist, and for twenty years he entertained his fellow officers with a series of cartoon strips.
Moore’s wrestling career spanned two decades. He was a fixture at the annual Police Benefit Shows in the 1950s, and he faced numerous opponents including Blacksmith Pedigo, Cherry Vallina, Freddie Blassie, Chris Zaharias, Frankie Bockwinkel, Bobby Bruns, Joe Millich, and fellow Louisville natives Stu Gibson and Mel Meiners.
Moore retired from the police force in 1974, when he put his artistic gifts to work as a sign painter.
It’s been a year since I started this blog experiment, and it’s been exciting to see it grow. Here are the top ten posts from the past year:
1. The Black Panther Jim Mitchell – Still working on this book, though it’s taking longer than anticipated. Other opportunities and the difficulty of finding solid info on this forgotten trail blazer have made it difficult, but it’s still in the works. Happy to see this was the top post from year one.
Given that independent wrestling dominates the top ten, you can expect more of the same in 2016 from this blog. I also have several book projects in the works in addition to the Black Panther. I’ve been working with the daughter of Lord Leslie Carlton on his biography. I just started a book on women’s wrestling. And research continues on a new Louisville book focused on the Allen Athletic Club of the 1930s-1950s.
“Is it for real? Or is it a work?” That’s the question that’s been on every OVW fan’s mind all week. Ever since it was announced that founder Danny Davis had sold his majority ownership, fans have been speculating on whether this is really the end or just another wrestling storyline.
Any time you can make the fans believe, it’s a good thing, especially in the reality era. Kayfabe or no, this week’s announcement is a great excuse to tell you a little bit about the man they call “The Voice of Louisville Wrestling.”
Dean Hill has been a part of OVW from the very beginning as part of the television announcing team. In fact for many fans, Hill is probably more synonymous with OVW than Davis, who earned the nickname “The Wizard of Oz” for his propensity to remain behind the curtains at Davis Arena.
Dean Hill is one of many Louisville personalities I had the honor to interview and feature in Bluegrass Brawlers. He plays drums for a few local bands including T.J. and the Cheaters, he’s a motorcycle enthusiast, and he is a retired Louisville Police officer. When he started on the force in the early 1970s he learned hand to hand combat from Buck Moore, who wrestled on the Police benefit shows for promoter Francis McDonough in the 1950s.
Hill came into wrestling not as part of any promotion, but a necessary evil. He was part of the detachment assigned to escort the heels to and from the ring for Memphis Wrestling on Tuesdays at Louisville Gardens. He caught the eye and ear of promoter Teeny Jarrett, and one night when the regular ring announcer was a no-show, Hill agreed to fill in. He was surprised when Jarrett paid him at the end of the night, but he was even more surprised when he was asked to take over the job permanently.
Hill moved up from ring announcer to television announcer before Memphis closed shop in the mid 90s. Having spent several years announcing the names of luminaries like Jerry Lawler, Dutch Mantell, Bill Dundee, and even Andre the Giant (he maintains a full list of people he has announced to this day!), he settled back into life without wrestling.
One day Hill spotted Danny Davis scouting a warehouse up for sale. He pulled over to talk to the former Memphis tag star and learned that Davis was looking to open a wrestling school. Davis wanted to do more than just teach wrestling. He intended to teach ever facet of the business, including television. Davis asked Hill to be part of the announce team, and Hill accepted.
Many men have passed through the OVW announcer’s booth over the years, including Kenny Bolin, Jim Cornette, Dutch Mantell, Al Snow, and Gilbert Corsey. Through it all, Hill has been the anchor of OVW television. He was there in the beginning, when local boys like Rob Conway and Nick Dinsmore began making a name for themselves. He called the action for future stars like John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, and CM Punk. He became a teacher himself, mentoring the young announcers who came through the school as well as the future stars inside the ring. Ask Hill to tell you the story how he taught Lesnar to stop swearing under his breath in the ring.
Hill also took what has been called the worst bump in the history of professional wrestling. It didn’t happen in the ring, but near the backstage area. Sadly only four people were witness to the bump, including Hill himself and the man who fell on top of him, Kenny Bolin. You can read the rest of that story in Kenny’s book.
If Hill is truly the new owner at OVW (and it’s on the Internet so it has to be true, right??), there’s no one who knows OVW better. He was there for the glory days with the WWE, and he knows the challenge that lies ahead filling Danny Davis’s shoes. With Hill at the helm, I’m sure it will be smooth sailing. What could possibly go wrong?
This is professional wrestling. If you want to know the answer to that question, tune in next week!
One 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.
On 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
Mike “Nova” Bucci
Jerry “The King” Lawler
John Bradshaw Layfield
“Dirty” Dutch Mantell
“The Sinister Minister” James Mitchell
Bishop Jason Sanderson
Terry Garvin Simms
Aron “The Idol” Stevens (aka Damien Sandow)
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.
Let that sink in for a moment. Kenny Bolin, the Starmaker, sworn enemy of Jim Cornette, mentor and manager to John Cena and countless other stars, has written his life’s story.
Actually what Kenny has done is rather unique. He’s told his story, but he’s allowed those who were there to share their stories as well. Jerry Jarrett, Rico Costantino, JBL, Sylvester Terkay, the Prince Christopher Bolin, Mark Cuban, Dean Hill, even Jim Cornette have shared their favorite memories of the King.
And now, Kenny wants to include you.
Yes, Kenny Bolin wants your stories, memories, and thoughts about the King to be published in his book, I Probably Screwed You Too: The Mostly True Story of Kenny Bolin. For a limited time, the floor is open for fans to send in their own stories and comments about Kenny, Bolin Services, and the Bolin legacy.
For the price of $79.95, Kenny will publish your comments, uncut and uncensored, in his book alongside the illustrious names listed above.
UPDATED: You will also receive a numbered, signed copy of the book; a DVD copy of “A Decade of BS” featuring six hours of Bolin Services highlights from 1998 to 2008; and (while supplies last) a pair of Buds by Bolin earbuds.
2. Send Kenny a message, telling him you have a story to share.
3. Send payment to Kenny through his Paypal address, which he will provide.
4. Message Kenny again with your story, comment, etc.
The first 35 submissions will go into the book, in the order that they are received. (Number 1 was already claimed before Kenny could make the big announcement!) And if you’re really lucky, Kenny will respond to your story.
This is a chance to not only own wrestling history but play a role in the telling of a legend. Find Kenny on Facebook and secure your place in the book today!