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New Champions with Louisville Roots

rybackThe man you see on the left here is former OVW star Silverback. Sunday night, he became the Intercontinental Champion for the first time. His photo is featured in Bluegrass Brawlers, but if you want to hear his full story, download Ryback’s appearance on the Chris Jericho podcast. It’s an inspiring tale of how he went from serving barbecue in Louisville to becoming a rising star. Ryback has come a long way with the fans as well, and it looks like his rise to the top is once again on track.

cropped-esw-cover.jpgRyback’s not the only Louisville talent to pick up new hardware Sunday. Hy Zaya, shown second from the left on the cover of Eat Sleep Wrestle, picked up the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship off the seemingly unstoppable Kongo Kong. Hy Zaya is now carrying two belts: one from IWA Mid-South, and one from CCW in Evansville. Well deserved honors for the Hood Ninja.

Finally, congratulations to former IWA Mid-South King of the Deathmatch contestant Jon Moxley, who left Corpus Christi carrying the WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt. Yes, even Dean Ambrose spent time in Louisville working for Ian Rotten back in the day. He may not have the belt in hand for long, considering another IWA Mid-South alum is still the legitimate champion, but it’s likely only a matter of time before it’s his free and clear.

Update: Per long time IWA Mid-South fan/ historian Nick Maniwa, Moxley did his work for IWA-MS in Illinois, not Louisville or Southern Indiana. Still, it’s a point of pride for the IWA-MS faithful that so many guys who worked in the long time indie promotion have made it to today’s WWE.

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Mitchell Huff has more views than you

chosen one moYes, jabroni, Mitchell Huff has more views than you. As a matter of fact at last count, he’s crushing you.

Mitchell Huff is an OVW-trained talent, taught by the likes of Danny Davis and Rip Rogers.

Huff is no rookie. He started training years ago. He took several years off from the business, and it’s a credit to his talent that as soon as he stepped back in, he became a sought after main event level player across the Midwest.

Huff is no beer bellied slouch either. Go see him in person. He’s ripped, and he’s worked hard to get there.

Mitchell’s also become an in-demand trainer here in Southern Indiana. I’m sure he’d welcome you into his class, if you were man enough to try. I’m sure you wouldn’t last.

Mitchell thought your video was funny. So did his friends. They know there’s a reason why Mitchell is called the Chosen One.

Hope you got a lot of hits riding on Mitchell’s coat tails. That’s all you wanted, I’m sure, because you definitely don’t belong in a ring with Mitchell Huff. He is the Chosen One, and you… well, you’re just trying to get famous off someone else’s hard work.

No, I will not repost your video here. But I will share Mitchell’s. He is Tough Enough.

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Kill Owens Kill!

Indy wrestling fans have been telling WWE fans for years they were missing out. Last night, Indy fans were able to rise up and say, “See?? I told you so!”

Owens is only the latest to crash the WWE party. Bryan, Rollins, Ambrose, Harper, Zayn, Cesaro, Balor, Itami, Bayley, Emma, Neville. These are not pre-fabbed stars made by the WWE machine. All of these rising stars got to the WWE after years of busting their butts on the Indy circuit.

There’s more great wrestling to discover, possibly right down the street from your house. That’s why I wrote Eat Sleep Wrestle. That’s why you need to get out and see an Indy show.

Head over to Smart Mark Video to get a sample now. Look up CZW/WSU, PWG, OVW, IWA Mid-South, CHIKARA, Rockstar Pro, CWAI, Empire, Shimmer, AIW, or take a look at what Jeff Jarrett’s putting together at GFW.

If I left out your favorite promotion, please please enter it in the comments below.

A revolution is coming.

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Meet Mary Elizabeth Monroe

maryelizabethmonroeMary Elizabeth Monroe was the new face that night. She burst through the curtain to a Katy Perry song, waving and smiling like a homecoming queen. The crowd made her feel welcome, cheering as she climbed each corner to wave to the Premier Destination Wrestling regulars.

And then, Crazy Mary Dobson entered.

Mary Elizabeth Monroe didn’t do anything to warrant the boos or the “Mary’s gonna kill you!” chants. She hadn’t done anything remotely heelish from the moment she set foot in the arena. Crazy Mary was the local hero, and Monroe… well, she was just another victim brought in to face their hero. But when Monroe saw the crowd was against her, she turned on them – and her opponent. She snapped, letting her violent side out, playing dirty when the ref let her have a little leeway. She played to the crowd, but the friendliness was gone. They hated her, and she now hated them.

Monroe was the surprise winner that night, and yes, there was cheating involved. She also made sure no one in the arena would forget her name.

Ten years ago Mary Elizabeth Monroe was pursuing her dream. She was the lead singer in a band in her home town of Cincinnati. Monroe invited some friends to come watch her perform at an upcoming gig, one of her friends offered her a deal: “I’ll come to your concert if you come see me wrestle.”

Monroe’s friend was working at Heartland Wrestling, a former WWE developmental territory that had already churned out an impressive number of wrestlers. She never watched wrestling growing up because it wasn’t allowed in the house, but sitting beside her guitar player and best friend at her first wrestling show, Monroe suddenly realized this was what she wanted to do. “My friends thought it was funny. They didn’t realize how serious I was.”

Monroe began her training at HWA and will tell you her training has never truly stopped. She’s a student of the game and counts the legendary Les Thatcher as one of her chief teachers and mentors. Her work with Thatcher is evident in the ring. Not only does she know the moves, she knows when to use them and why to use them in that particular moment.

Monroe’s stock has spiked in recent days. After winning the 2015 Queen of the Ring tournament at Vicious Outcast Wrestling, she went from unranked to number one in this week’s Indy Power Rankings. Monroe is constantly in demand and can be seen all across the Midwest including AIW in Cleveland, Legends and Heroes in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and Ohio Valley Wrestling in Louisville, and of course… Girl Fight in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

In addition to wrestling, Mary is a model for Headlock Gear and a representative for Gerweck.Net. Although she has no home promotion at the moment, Monroe is part of a core group working with Les Thatcher at The Warehouse in Hamilton, Ohio to launch Christian Wrestling Association International, a new, family friendly promotion this summer.

“That’s very important to me,” says Monroe. “When I invite someone to bring their kids to a show, I like knowing that they’re not going to come and see something awful. They’re going to have fun and be entertained. We’ve got partnerships with the Autism Society of Cincinnati and other charities. It’s going to be great.”

Women’s wrestling in general looks poised for a major surge in the coming years. Between her ring skills, and her ability to work a crowd, and her relentless pursuit of excellence, Mary Elizabeth Monroe may very well end up at the vanguard of that revolution.

For more information on Christian Wrestling Association International, including shows and training classes, please visit www.christianwrestlingassociationinternational.com

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Updated: Help Kenny Bolin Tell His Story!

bolin1Kenny Bolin has written a memoir.

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.

Here’s how you can submit your tale:

1. Go to Facebook and look up Kenny Starmaker Bolin.

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!

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The Champ

Never ceases to amaze me how Cena rolls with the hate.

I was one of those singing “John Cena sucks” at Mania a few years ago, before it truly took off with the crowds. And yeah, I was a mocker of the “five moves of death” and a bit sick of the Super Cena persona.

But let’s be honest. No one works harder to entertain the fans than John Cena. He works every TV and every house show, and he gives his best at both.

And no one sells tickets like Cena. Whether you’re buying a ticket to cheer him or boo him, you’re buying a ticket because of him.

Very few men can match Cena in the strength department. Cena’s a monster in the gym, and people tend to over look just how powerful he is. Look closely the next time he’s in the ring with another big man. Cena’s a very, very strong guy.

And if we’re really being honest, Cena is more than five moves. Go look on YouTube at some of his matches from OVW. Cena can do a lot more that he does in a typical Cena match. Cena’s a student of OVW’s Rip Rogers, and Rip has always taught his students that less is more. Why go off the top rope if you don’t have to? Why go off the top of the cage if it’s not going to sell a few more tickets? Why do a Shooting Star Press every night when doing it once will make you immortal?

(Okay, yeah, didn’t work out for Brock, but see Snuka and the leap off the cage for an instance where one big bump DID work.)

Do your job, take care of your body, don’t do more than you need to in order to get over and sell tickets. That’s what Cena was taught. That’s why Cena’s endured physically.

Could he use a character change? Sure, everyone needs to evolve. Should he do a heel turn? Maybe, maybe not. It would not be a hard thing for him to pull off. Again, go to YouTube and look at his OVW work. He was the most hated man in Louisville when he was the Prototype. I’d love to see that side of Cena one more time before he retires.

Cena’s one of the very best, not just of his generation but all time. I believe that time will be kind to him and so will the fans.

That said, I don’t know that “Cena sucks” will ever go away. I don’t think it has to go away, and I don’t know if Cena wants it to go away. The more people chant, the more he perseveres. The more he perseveres, the more “Cena sucks” becomes a term of endearment.

 

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Happy birthday, Starmaker Bolin

bolin1Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin had hoped to have his autobiography ready to release today, his birthday. It’s still in the works, and no, it’s not because he’s struggled to find people to say nice things about him. Here’s a sampling of what some folks have said about the Starmaker

“Although I had more of a national presence, Kenny got to work consistently more than I ever did, managed far better talent than I ever did, and was allowed to be the lovable con artist he is without any obvious outside ‘producing’ and ‘writing’ to spoil his unique personality. To steal a phrase from Hunter S. Thompson, he is ‘one of God’s own prototypes.'” – The Sinister Minister, James Mitchell

“I got an email inviting me to call in and participate in a Roast of Kenny Bolin on Blogtalkradio. I know people wanted to hear me roast Kenny for all the things he did to me back in OVW, but I couldn’t do it. My years at OVW were golden, and King B was the biggest part of that, figuratively and literally. Kenny made me a star, and he made me the biggest heel at OVW. I owe everything I achieved at OVW and later the WWE to Kenny Bolin. I was very blessed to do the things I did, and I am thankful to say that Kenny Bolin is still my friend.” – Rico Costantino

“Kenny is truly a star maker. If only he would burn the videos he has of me and Cena way, way back when we were both in the rise. But then if it weren’t for Kenny, no one would care about those videos. Congrats, Kenny.” – Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

One evening, I received a voice mail from Kenny. He had dialed my number by mistake, and he thought he was leaving a message for one of his many Beets by Bolin customers. The voice mail gave me a rare insight into the real Kenny Bolin as he spoke about a young fan, a girl with autism, who would be his dinner guest along with his family. He was treating all four of them to dinner and hooking the young lady up with a pair of Beets, and autographed photo, and a copy of a John Cena video. It’s entirely possible that once this young girl got to the restaurant, Kenny charged her for her stuff just the same as he did his own daughter-in-law the night he met her, but I prefer to think that there actually is a heart underneath all that bravado. As Jim Cornette likes to say, you just have to dig through too many layers to get to it.

Happy birthday, Kenny Bolin. I’m happy to call you a friend.

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Eat Sleep Wrestle – Four months later

cropped-esw-cover.jpgWhen I was writing Eat Sleep Wrestle, I knew I was creating a time capsule. What’s written in the pages of that book is a moment of time, now past, depicting the lives of a number of modern day independent wrestlers. No sooner was the book released, the lives and careers of the men and women profiled inside began to change. Since Eat Sleep Wrestle was printed:

Evolution Pro Wrestling closed its doors.

Destination One Wrestling changed its name to Premiere Destination Wrestling.

Jamin Olivencia left OVW.

Michael Hayes left OVW and seems to have retired.

Marc Hauss was laid up after surgery. (Get well, sir!)

Colt Cabana blew up the internet and got sued along with his pal CM Punk.

LuFisto’s Yoda-like wisdom on hardcore wrestling went viral.

Madman Pondo and Crazy Mary Dobson became the Juggalo Championship Wrestling tag team champions, the first intergender champions in the promotion’s history.

Ron Mathis managed to accumulate four title belts at once.

Mitchell Huff became Cage Mitchell.

Crazy Mary Dobson got a speaking role on Raw. “You are chips!”

Mad Man Pondo finally appeared on Raw as a Rosebud. Arriba!

Crazy Mary, Lylah Lodge, and Cage Mitchell also appeared as Rosebuds. Crazy Mary’s become a regular, in fact.

At least four wrestlers – Crazy Mary, Lylah, Aaron Williams, and LuFisto – applied for the next season of WWE’s Tough Enough.

The Crist brothers co-headlined CZW’s anniversary show with the Young Bucks.

CHIKARA crowned Heidi Lovelace winner of the Young Lions Cup, the first woman to achieve that honor.

If you’re scratching your head wondering who these people are, grab a copy of Eat Sleep Wrestle to get up to speed. Then get out to an independent wrestling show to see what you’re missing.

 

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OVW HD – A new Indiegogo Campaign!

The first time I saw Ryan Howe was the night after Wrestlemania XXVII. He was the first of the new round of Tough Enough contestants to introduce himself to a Raw crowd that chanted for Stone Cold Steve Austin to “Stun them all!”

I saw him again almost two years later at OVW, the night I started work on Bluegrass Brawlers. He didn’t wrestle that night, but I saw him a few times over the next couple of years. He had a great look, and he showed potential, but he was always in the mid-card, working underneath guys like Rob Terry and Jamin Olivencia. He was better each time I saw him, but he was always outshined by the main event players.

Wednesday night, I saw him again. He worked the main event against OVW champion Mohamed Ali Vaez. This was a completely different Ryan Howe than I had ever seen before. Same look, same gimmick, but there was a confidence and a swagger about him I hadn’t seen before. Howe looked like he belonged in that main event. He looked ready for the next step. If history is any indication at OVW, he’ll probably get it sooner rather than later.

That’s the legacy of OVW. OVW has set the standard for wrestling schools for nearly 20 years. Cena, Orton, Lesnar, Batista, Punk, Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Miz, Mizdow, Henry, Big Show, Beth Phoenix, Mickie James, Dinsmore, Conway, Shelton Benjamin, John Morrison, Lisa Marie Varon, Jamin Olivencia, Rockstar Spud. Over 100 students have gone on from OVW to work for WWE or TNA.

OVW just launched an Indiegogo campaign to upgrade their television equipment. OVW is the longest running wrestling television program in America outside of WWE (over 800 episodes!), and they’re ready to step it up and go HD. This campaign will allow them to upgrade their studio, their cameras, and their editing equipment so they can continue to produce a top quality program while providing the best training for the business, from inside the ring to the editing room.

OVW television airs locally in Louisville, but it’s also available to view online. OVW alums have shared with me how fans have come up to them in airports and venues around the country, fans who know them only from watching online. Most recently, OVW announcer Dean Hill told me he was approached by a fan in Seattle, Washington who watched OVW on TV!

Independent wrestling is growing in popularity once more, and OVW is positioning itself to take advantage of the changing tides. Check out the campaign on Indiegogo and the perks that are available – including and opportunity to train at the school. And by all means go to www.ovwrestling.com to check out their show for yourself!

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The Black Panther – Ads from the Courier-Journal

It’s been a few days since I posted. Been a busy week with other writing projects besides wrestling. Hoping to resume my normal writing schedule by end of the week.

I did get to take in the OVW TV taping tonight. Strong showing by Ryan Howe and Mohamad Ali Vaez in the main event, and it was great seeing Jim Cornette and Jeff Jarrett (yes, Jeff Jarrett!!) in the ring. Prior to that had dinner with Cornette, Kenny Bolin, and legendary OVW announcer Dean Hill. Some great stories were shared that will pop up in future blogs and book projects.

Prior to that, I went to the library to do a little more digging on both The Black Panther Jim Mitchell and promoter Heywood Allen. Here are a couple of ads I found today featuring Mitchell, one from 1941 and the other from 1954.

panther 1941

1954 police show

 

1954 police show

panther 1941 1954 police show