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Al Snow Wrestling Academy

The original Tough Enough trainer and one of the WWE’s top trainers from OVW is opening his own wrestling school. Here’s a video clip from Al Snow about the Al Snow Wrestling Academy. Scroll down below the video for links to Al’s Facebook page and Youtube page to get more details.

Al is tough, but he is one of the sharpest trainers shaping future stars. His knowledge of wrestling technique and wrestling history will give you the well-rounded education you need to succeed as a professional wrestler.

Al Snow Wrestling Academy on Facebook.

Al Snow Wrestling Academy on Youtube.

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Could Roman Reigns have been a Bolin guy?

bolin1A decade ago a Louisville, Kentucky institution was churning out WWE Superstars left and right. The institution went by the name Bolin Services, and in the course of a decade, BS sent more than sixty men and women to the WWE main roster, including the most recent face of the company, John Cena.

Given the struggles Roman Reigns is having becoming the new face of the company, I got in touch with Kenny Bolin and son Chris to ask if Bolin Services might have been able to do anything for him.

“He would not have been the main guy,” says Chris Bolin. “He would never have been in Cena, Rico, or Carlito’s spot. He would have been one of the background guys like Sean O’Haire. Except O’Haire could cut a decent promo.”

Truth be told, no one was pushed as the main guy or the face of the company because in Bolin Services, Kenny Bolin was the face. Everyone had a role, and everyone worked together. “Sometimes I had the spotlight,” says Kenny. “Sometimes it was Cena. Sometimes it was Rico or someone else. There was no ego because everyone understood their role.”

Even the great John Cena had no trouble filling a supporting role when asked. “He was a team player. He was always on, but he never upstaged anyone. He understood when one of us looks good, we all look good.”

Bolin’s system was forged out of necessity caused by the WWE developmental machine. There was no way of telling when someone would get called up to the main roster, and you never knew who was next to go. Kenny remained front and center as the guys around him, one by one, left for the big time. “Guys would leave, new guys would come in. It didn’t matter who they gave me, they all got called up. That’s why they called me the Starmaker.”

Truth be told, neither Kenny nor Chris see Reigns as a fit for Bolin Services. Had Roman Reigns been sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling, Chris Bolin believes that he would have been one of the Disciples of Synn, a rival faction led by Jim Cornette’s now wife Stacy. “He would have fit in better there, like Batista when he was Leviathan. Bolin Services liked guys who could banter with my Dad. Rico, Cena, these guys could hold their own. Reigns just isn’t a BS guy. He doesn’t have the personality for it.”

That’s not necessarily bad news for Roman Reigns. Batista went on to become a four time World Heavyweight Champion and a two time WWE Champion.

But Batista was never the face of the company.

For more on Kenny Bolin, Bolin Services, and the WWE developmental era at OVW, read Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville and I Probably Screwed You Too: The Mostly True Stories of Kenny “Starker” Bolin. 

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A Life Lesson from the Miz

02Roni Jonah, who is now hosting Eat Sleep Wrestle: The Golden Age on the INC Channel, used to be a wrestler herself. In fact, when she was at Ohio Valley Wrestling in Louisville, she was the Miz’s valet/ girlfriend. Want to know how that happened? She shared the story with me for Bluegrass Brawlers. It’s a fun story involving Miz and Heyman, and whether you like him or not, we can all learn a little something about seizing the day from the Miz.

Roni was in the amateur class at OVW when Paul Heyman arrived, and one of her best friends was Seth Skyfire, a former OVW main eventer whose star had fallen in recent months.

“Seth was no longer getting time on the show because he wasn’t under contract with WWE,” says Jonah. “When Paul came down to OVW, he wanted to showcase those guys and give them a chance.”

Roni wanted to make sure Seth got noticed by the new boss. She sat with her friends dead center in the audience and held signs calling out for Seth. Heyman noticed, and when he put Skyfire back on TV, he was impressed with what he saw. Heyman was equally impressed by the determined young woman in the crowd. “One night, he told Seth to go out to the ring and kiss ‘his girlfriend’ in the audience,” says Jonah. “Seth said, ‘But, she isn’t my girlfriend.’ Paul said, ‘She is now.'”

Seth did as he was told, but the kiss was weaker than Heyman wanted. When Heyman called him out on the weak kiss, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin chimed in: “She can be my girlfriend.”

Shortly after the backstage incident, Roni “left” Seth Skyfire for the Miz on OVW television. The angle elevated the both of them to top heel status in OVW, and the Miz was one step closer to his his WWE dream.

Read more OVW stories and discover over 130 years of wrestling history in Louisville in Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville.

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Return to the Golden Age!

Eat Sleep Wrestle: The Golden Age is a new wrestling program available only on the INC Channel on Roku featuring some of the greatest stars in the history of wrestling. ESW is the place to see Hall of famers and legends like Gorgeous George, The Shiek, Bobo Brazil, Mildred Burke, Cora Combs, Fritz Von Erich, Thunderbolt Patterson, and Warren Bockwinkel.

Produced by wrestling historian John Cosper, each episode of ESW features part or all of a match not seen on television in generations. Host Roni Jonah opens the show with a biographical sketch on the stars featured in each episode.

Eat Sleep Wrestle: The Golden Age can only be seen on INC, the Independent Network Channel, on Roku. INC features the best of obscure, out of print b-movies across all genres as well as current independent films from directors like Jerry Williams, Claude D. Miles, and George Bonilla. INC plans to offer more wrestling related in the future including the films of Mexican wrestler El Santo.

John Cosper is a writer and wrestling historian. His published works include Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville, Eat Sleep Wrestle, and I Probably Screwed You Too: The Mostly True Stories of Kenny Starmaker Bolin.

Roni Jonah is a professional wrestler turned actress and film director. Her wrestling resume includes Ohio Valley Wrestling and Women’s Extreme Wrestling.

Follow INC Channel on Facebook.

While you’re there, be sure to check out “Frank Jordan: Evil Snowman” by John Cosper, available on INC Story Time.

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One year later… top ten posts

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:

The Black Panther Jim Mitchell1. 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.

2. Help Kenny Bolin Tell His Story – The story is now out and available from Amazon.com, with some help from fans who responded.

3. Everybody Loves Blue Pants – Interview with NXT’s most electric unsigned star. Thanks again to Mad Man Pondo for the hook up.

4. Who is Dean Hill? – Profile on OVW’s legendary announcer.

5. Khloe Belle Turns Hero – “Sista don’t care” in the ring, but outside the ring is another matter.

6. The Outlaw Returns – Profile on wrestler turned actor Ben Wood.

7. Is Shane Goode Enough? – Shane Mercer’s had a tough month, but he got some well deserved attention during the lead up to Tough Enough.

8. Meet the New Owner of HWA – A second life for a beloved promotion in Ohio promotion.

9. A New Hoosier Promotion EMERGEs – Profile on central Indiana’s EMERGE wrestling, available to watch on Roku’s Indie Wrestling Channel.

10. Meet Mary Elizabeth Monroe – She’s now going by Kelly Klein in Ring of Honor, and she’s one to watch in 2016.

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.

Thanks for reading.

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Against all odds, IWA Mid-South is still here

2040_10153423236782039_2284983274109263709_nProfessional wrestling has been called a man’s soap opera. This is true in the ring and backstage. Any place you find there drama of wrestling in a ring, there’s bound to be drama in the locker room.

The Louisville/ Southern Indiana area is flooded with wrestling promotions right now, and right now, at least two of those promotions are in turmoil. Time will tell if any of the small promotions running in Southern Indiana will last. Time has already spoken for IWA Mid-South.

I am not  “Kool-Aid” drinker, nor an apologist for Ian Rotten. Ian has his flaws, but he has always been kind to me. He has also done a lot of good for the sport of professional wrestling. He’s been in business for 19 years, and he’s helped just as many rising stars as Ohio Valley Wrestling. Ian has won and lost many battles in and out of the ring, but while dozens of indy promotions have come and gone, he is still in business.

Ian posted the following on his Facebook page last night. It may sound harsh, but I know him well enough to believe he means every word of this without any malice.

 

“So, it’s two days from Christmas which means the New Year is just right around the corner, so I have to take the time to get this out.

“I need to explain to the many, many promotions that are running in my area (I know this will get to you from either your wrestlers or your fans)… with the exception of OVW you could put all of your shows together and it wouldn’t equal half as many of the shows I’ve ran, so listen to me when I say this. Some of you will be offended by this, but all of you shouldn’t be. Believe me when I say this… I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU. I do not consider you a threat. I do not consider you a competition. I don’t have quote-unquote heat with any of you. I wish each and every one of you the best in business, and you should take the time to stop worrying about everyone else and worry about your own business, your own fans. I hope all of you can last as long as I have, but remember, I’m still here out of pure stubbornness and an incredible dedication and love for this business. To so many of you young wrestlers out there, I will say this – to get booked, show up early and leave late. Prove that you have dedication to your craft and are willing to pay dues. This gets you over a lot more to me than, ‘Yo, when you gonna book me?’ When yo! I don’t even know who you are! In the end, care more about your business than other peoples business.

“Hope everybody has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!”

Ian’s not looking to put anyone out of business. He knows that competition is a good thing, and he wants to see independent wrestling grow. But unlike his would-be rivals, Ian is not fighting to build an audience. He has an audience. Some have been with him from the beginning. They left only when he had to shut his doors, and they were back the moment the doors were open. They followed him from building to building and across state lines for decades, and they’ve embraced the men and women who came through the doors as their own.

Ian built a brand people care about. He established three events – King of the Deathmatch, Queen of the Deathmatch, and the Ted Petty Invitational – that have helped to launch the careers of indy and WWE stars. He doesn’t stoop to the level of those who wish to talk trash on social media because he knows the moment you mention your competition, you put yourself beneath them. (Please take note of this advice, young promoters!) IWA Mid-South alumni are fiercely loyal, and he is loyal to them in return.

No, Ian is not perfect, but he loves wrestling with every fiber of his being. He wouldn’t be where he is if he did not love the business, and IWA Mid-South would long have become a memory.

Ian is hosting a huge show this Saturday, the day after Christmas. It’s a benefit for the family of Shane Goode, aka “The Iron Demon” Shane Mercer. The talent line up for this show is outstanding, and some faces you don’t normally see at IWA-MS will be there in support of Shane. It’s a great chance to have a look at a promotion that has defied the odds and stood the test of time. Click here for details on the Christmas benefit show.

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Rasslin’ lives at KDW

12227188_929057513815398_5586358663676153198_nThere’s something very unique about the way Kentuckiana Diehard Wrestling does their business. There’s nothing new about their brand of wrestling at all, but what they do is so old school, it’s a refreshing change for fans who have grown weary of “sports entertainment.”

KDW is a promotion run by men who grew up on rasslin’. Booker Vito Andretti grew up watching Memphis wrestling at Louisville Gardens in the late 70s, and he was trained by Danny Davis and Rip Rogers at OVW. “Many of the guys here were at OVW before WWE got there,” he says. “We came up with Dinsmore, Conway, Damaja, and (Doug) Basham. When Jim (Cornette) came in, he would make tapes of old matches with 5 pages of notes and hand them out to the WWE guys. They’d sniff at them and throw them in the trash, but we snatched them up and learned from them.”

The old school approach to wrestling means you won’t see young guys working hard to get all their spots into a match with reckless abandon. You’ll see Chris Alexander on the ring apron doing his best Robert Gibson impression, hyping up the crowd and pleading with the ref to stop the cheating while as his tag partner Dynamite Derrick takes a Ricky Morton-like beating in the ring. You’ll see Ravishing Rick Roberts go to work on Simon Sezz’s arm, taking advantage of an injury to weaken his opponent and beat him into submission. These are men who know how to structure a match, know how to engage the crowd, and know how to tell a story with their action. They have cowardly heels, prancing heels, and monster heels. They have scheming managers and fearless midgets. KDW is such a throwback, they even have a Moondog.

Many of the veterans at KDW are faces that old OVW fans will recognize. They were at OVW at the same time as Cena, Lesnar, and Orton. They still live by the lessons taught to them at OVW, and they are determined to pass them on to the next generation. Andretti teaches his proteges to go slower and work smarter, to pay attention to an audience, and to take care of their bodies. It’s wisdom he received from Danny Davis and Rip Rogers, wisdom they received from the generation before them.

KDW opened their doors in April of 2014. They started appropriately enough at the flea market in Memphis, Indiana before moving to the Arena in Jeffersonville this fall. They’ve been taping TV for months and are already on Roku’s Indie Wrestling Channel. Andretti recruited several former OVW students for their television production experience as well as their wrestling acumen, hoping to refine a show that is very much a work in progress. They just announced a permanent television announce team this week, and they have plans for more expansion in 2016.

KDW runs weekly in Jeffersonville at the Arena. Bell time is 5 pm, and tickets are only five dollars. You can also find them on the Indie Wrestling Channel, available free on Roku. If you’ve avoided indy wrestling, thinking it’s nothing but spot monkeys and young guys with no clue how to put a match together, KDW is a promotion that will not disappoint. It’s a veteran roster determined to keep the tradition of the past alive, now and in the future.

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KDW now streaming on Roku

Indie wrestling fans, you now have three local promotions producing television shows.

Kentuckiana Diehard Wrestling has made several big moves in recent weeks. KDW moved their weekly show from the Flea Market in Memphis, Indiana to the Arena in downtown Jeffersonville. Now, KDW is available to watch not only on Youtube, but the Indie Wrestling Channel on Roku. KDW features a seasoned group of veterans, many of whom will be familiar to long time OVW fans, as well as up and comers like Austin Bradley, who was featured in Eat Sleep Wrestle.

New Albany’s own UWA is already available on the Roku channel as well as Youtube. And lest we forget, Ohio Valley Wrestling holds the distinction of being the longest running weekly wrestling program in the country outside of Monday Night Raw.

D1W fans will also be interested to know that Rockstar Pro is available on the Indie Wrestling Channel, featuring Aaron Williams, Ron Mathis, Kyle Maverick, and the Crist brothers. You can also watch central Indiana promotion Emerge on the Roku channel.

And unlike the WWE Network and other major wrestling channels, the Indie Wrestling Channel is completely free. You can’t ask for an easier way to support indie wrestling.

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The Man of Tomorrow

11898628_943554585710617_1993227650622410364_nFans of Kenny Bolin know that Kenny is largely down on today’s wrestling and wrestlers. So when Kenny Bolin offers praise to one of the young independent wrestlers of today, he does not do so lightly. Such was the case when Kenny got back from the Lawler-Funk show in Tennessee, where Kenny got a look at The Man of Tomorrow, Daniel Eads. “Best new talent on the show,” says Kenny. “Me and Chris (the Prince, who is equally stingy with praise for today’s talent) liked him a lot.”

I first met Daniel Eads almost a year ago in New Albany. He’s a big guy with a good physique, and he stands out even among the biggest and fittest wrestlers. His fellow wrestlers suggested the nickname “Man of Tomorrow” because he bears a resemblance to Superman, but Eads will be the first to tell you he wasn’t born that way.

Eads grew up in a rough family situation. “I was a bit of an outcast. I was quiet and nerdy, and didnt have a back bone. I grew up with an abusive alcoholic stepdad, and dad that abandoned me. I was sexually abused, fought depression for half my life, and I didn’t have a great support system.”

Eads had some friends in school who were wrestling fans. This was the era of Goldberg, RVD, and Evolution in the WWE, and Eads began watching so he would have something to talk about with friends. Much as he enjoyed it, becoming a wrestler was never even a consideration for him. “I was a scrawny little kid that competed in cross country, track, and swimming. I weighed a whopping 125lbs. I had no muscle, no spine and no voice. Then I went to college started working out and next thing you know my soon to be best friend Ian Lowe is telling me to give it a shot. I thought I’d have a couple decent matches here and there, but it wasn’t until my match with Chase Stevens that even Ian finally said ‘Dude….You got it.'”

Eads began training with IWAU in Olney IL, under Josh Totten and Steven Davis and worked briefly with Tony Kozina with Rip Rogers at OVW in Louisville. Like the wisest of the young generation, Eads values the input of wrestling veterans, and he takes the opportunity to pick their brains any chance he gets, including Tracy Smothers, Chase Stevens, Jerry Lawler, Jim Cornette, and Bob Orton.

“He came to me to review his match,” says Kenny Bolin. “I was shocked he even knew who I was, but he seemed to know a lot.”

Wrestling has given Eads the support system he never had as a kid. “The fans were the first people to truly believe in me, and many of my friends in the business said that I was going to be the one to break out and become someone. So many have gone out of their way for me, not because I asked or begged, but because they see something and notice my work ethic. That’s what keeps me going every day, working to become bigger, stronger, faster.”

Like many young stars, Eads has his eyes set on the WWE, and he wants to achieve that dream for his supporters as much as for himself. “I’ve never been more convinced in my heart that I’m meant to do something like I am with wrestling. I’d sacrifice anything to achieve this opportunity and make this far fetched dream a reality.”

While Eads is not a Superman fan himself (he prefers Marvel over DC), he discovered he had much more in common with the Man of Steel than his looks. “Feeling like an outcast, never truly fitting in, yet feeling like I’m meant for big things. I love the gimmick because I can be a beacon of hope for people with my story and the things I can do inside and outside the gym. I want to ‘live the gimmick’ and be big, strong, fast, and agile like Superman is. And when I see kids get on the edge of their seats, there’s on better feeling.”

Currently, Daniel Eads can be seen working for Bert Prentice and USA Championship Wrestling in Tennessee and Southern Illinois. Given his deep respect for the past and his drive to succeed, Eads is headed for even greater things in the future. Take a good look at the Man of Tomorrow, folks. He may well be the Superstar of Tomorrow as well.

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Miss a week, miss a lot

esw coverIf you miss a week of wrestling in Louisville, you miss a lot!

While I was off enjoying a family vacation in D.C., Mitchell Hull won the OVW TV title. Mitchell was just getting back into the business when I interviewed him for Eat Sleep Wrestle in the summer of 2014. Looks like he’s well on his way to making a name for himself in the business.

Not only did Mitch win gold, but Aaron Williams, who is on the cover of the same book, won the Rockstar Pro Wrestling tag belts with Jake Crist in Dayton. These two are as talented a tag team as you’ll find anywhere in the indies and a must-see if they’re on the card.

Then Friday night brought two more surprises at the IWA Mid-South 19th anniversary show. After announcing the Headbangers had dropped out of the show earlier in the week, Ian Rotten surprised the fans by bringing in former WWE star Simon Dean (aka Super Nova of the BWO) and IWA Mid-South legend Chris Hero. Then Reed Bentley (another Eat Sleep Wrestle talent) capped the night by winning the IWA Mid-South world championship, snatching the title away from newly crowned champ John Wayne Murdoch.

For those counting, that’s three stars from Eat Sleep Wrestle winning gold last week.

This Wednesday, OVW is taping television in Louisville and Rockstar Pro is doing the same in Dayton. Pro Wrestling Grind in Jeffersonville has Rhyno coming in for a show at the Arena Friday, and IWA is running a benefit for IWA-MS original Mitch Page the same night.

And oh yeah, Chikara is coming to Jeffersonville October 24.

It’s a great time to be a fan of wrestling, especially here in the Midwest.