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One night in UWF with Mad Man Pondo

10987394_961163913916988_2647946944708521391_nAin’t no wrestling story like a Mad Man Pondo story. Here’s one Pondo shared with me after posting this photo online, a memento of his one night with UWF in Florida.

 

Die hard Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat fans may remember that for a brief time, Steamboat had a masked ninja manager. The gimmick only lasted a short time, and when the manager was unmasked, he was revealed to be Paul Heyman. But Heyman didn’t originate the role. The original man was Howard Brackney, who lived near young Pondo in Illinois.

Brackney was booked on a few shows for UWF down in Florida, but he had no way to get to Florida. Pondo had a nice car, courtesy of his parents, so Howard asked Pondo to drive him south. Pondo agreed on one condition: he wanted to be booked with UWF. Brackney made a call Herb Abrams at UWF and then called Pondo to let him know he had the job.

When the two arrived in Florida, Pondo received a warm welcome from Herb Abrams and WWF legends Bruno Sammartino and Captain Lou Albano. The boys were treated to dinner and then went to the arena. “The under card guys had a separate locker room from the big guys,” says Pondo. “I remember Luna Vachon was in the undercard room. They had everyone’s name written on a piece of paper on the wall, listing who they were facing that night. I looked up and down and my name wasn’t on the list.”

Pondo went to Sammartino and Albano, asking why he had been left off the list. That’s when they directed him to the other locker room. “These were the big names. Paul Orndorff. Dr. Death Steve Williams, Bam Bam Bigelow, B. Brian Blair. And there, at the bottom of the list, was me.”

Pondo had no clue why he was on the top stars list. Pondo was only in the business for two years, and he was a long way from becoming a hardcore legend. He was, by his own admission, pretty green and pretty terrible. His lack of talent shone brightly in the ring. “Bruno and Captain Lou just killed me on the commentary too,” he says.

After the match, Sammartino and Albano pulled him aside. “Where were the moonsaults?” they asked. “Where were all the flips out of the ring? All the high flying stuff?”

Pondo was confused. “I don’t know. I’ve never tried them. But if you want me to try, I’ll be happy to give it a shot.”

Albano and Sammartino were stunned. “We were told you were a high flier.”

And that’s when it clicked. In order to get to Florida, Brackney needed a ride. In order to get the ride, he had to get Pondo booked. In order to get Pondo booked, he made up a ridiculous story about Mad Man Pondo being a high flying aerial daredevil.

“I was booked in Miami and Tampa after that first show,” says Pondo. “They paid me for Ft. Lauderdale, but they canceled me in the other two places. But I got a photo with Orndorff out of the deal.

Pondo’s gone on to bigger and better things since that awful night in Southern Florida. Still, he laments that his friend didn’t at least clue him in. “He could have told me what he told them,” says Pondo. “Then I could have gone in the ring and faked an ankle injury to get out of it!”

If you want more Pondo stories, I strongly recumbent checking out his episode of the Art of Wrestling Podcast with Colt Cabana. You will also find a number of wild Pondo stories in my book, Eat Sleep Wrestle. The book was originally intended to shine a spotlight on the younger generation of indy wrestlers working today, but it quickly became apparent you can’t tell the story of modern indy wrestling without Mad Man Pondo!

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Eat like a wrestler: Banana Pancakes

1904198_950844071615639_1130409880090935250_nMad Man Pondo’s not the man he used to be. He’s two sizes smaller. The death match legend is in the best shape of his life. He’s lost a ton of weight by cutting out junk and walking every day.

Crazy Mary Dobson has a lot to do with Pondo’s transformation. The two of them recently shared a recipe on Facebook, and this morning I tried it on my family. Everyone, and I mean EVERYone, loved it.

These pancakes call for only two ingredients: bananas and eggs. You mash the bananas, mix in the eggs, and then cook them like pancakes. One banana for every two eggs is the ideal mix (though I used 4 bananas to 6 eggs this morning). Three bananas and six eggs will make about 20 pancakes. I worked up a rough estimate using the Calorie Count app and ball parked the calories at 40 per pancake.

You can top them with syrup. You can fill them with nuts, blueberries, chocolate chips, or anything else you’d put in a pancake.

Thanks to Pondo and Mary for sharing (and inspiring my own weight loss). Twenty six pounds down, and counting for me.

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Upset about the Rumble?

esw coverFirst of all… let’s not get so upset we overlook the good.

We got a terrific title match, arguably the best triple threat of all time. And they made a legitimate main event star last night. His name is Seth Rollins.

That said, many people are beyond disgruntled today, and many have gone so far as to cancel their WWE Network subscriptions.

For those who have, and for those who haven’t but are still angry about the Rumble, maybe you should give independent wrestling a try?

Eat Sleep Wrestle is a great place to start exploring wrestling beyond the WWE. After I released Bluegrass Brawlers, I went out to some indy shows to sell the book. I had the opportunity to meet some of the Midwest’s finest indy talent, and I saw some amazing matches. I was so inspired by them, I had to tell their story.

These are not superstars. These are wrestlers. The people profiled in Eat Sleep Wrestle are passionate, driven people who work as hard or harder than anyone you’ll see on Monday Night (tonight excepted, of course).

Eat Sleep Wrestle will introduce you to people like Mad Man Pondo, Chris Hero, Crazy Mary Dobson, Aaron Williams, Ron Mathis, Hy Zaya, Jamin Olivencia, Zodiak, Mickie Knuckles, Cherry Bomb, and Reed Bentley. It will make you realize there is wrestling beyond the WWE, and it will inspire you to follow your own dreams.

Yes, this is a shameless plug, but Raw isn’t live tonight, and you can get it on Kindle or Nook, why not give Eat Sleep Wrestle a try?