The Olde Wrestling Speakeasy Spectacular Returns to Mahall's Friday – Cleveland Scene


Travel through time and immerse yourself in the 1920s wonderland of Olde Wrestling’s annual Speakeasy Spectacular this Friday. Presented by El Carnicero & Beardology, the family-friendly promotion returns for a night elbow smashin’ wrestling.

Scene spoke with Olde Wrestling founder Justin Nottke, who (shhh…don’t tell anyone) wrestles as the mustache twirling pugilist Marion Fontaine, about the upcoming show.

“I had always had the desire to put on a wrestling show since I’ve been around the scene for so long, but because there various promotions, I knew I wanted to do something different,” he says. “The ’20s were such an interesting time to be alive with prohibition, fashion, mobsters, sports, etc. So many icon celebrities and characters come from it and we thought let’s give it a shot!”

Olde Wrestling is less of the WWE style of sports entertainment many fans are accustomed to seeing, and is more of a theatrical display of wrestling performance art. As Nottke told Scene, “I wanted to create something that wasn’t appealing to just diehard wrestling fans, but to any and everyone. I wanted to show non wrestling fans just how fun and entertaining this form of entertainment could be.”

With high-flying luchador cats, corrupt legislators, knee-cap busting mobsters, bearded ladies, riveters and rum-running moonshiners, Olde Wrestling’s characters are wildly different than the Hulkamania wrestlers of yesteryear or the John Cena types of today.

“I wanted to break any stereotypical idea of big muscular guys beating on one another, swearing at each other,” Nottke says. “And that involves making it appeal to a variety of ages. Making it an enjoyable experience no matter who you are.”

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  • Joseph Ritorto | Courtesy of Olde Wrestling

The participating wrestlers typically perform year round as different characters, with Olde Wrestling a yearly chance for them to play someone a little different. Most notably, the greasy heel “Heidi the Riveter” of Olde Wrestling has since gone on to perform as Ruby Riott on WWE’s SmackDown brand. Wrestlers commit heavily to the performance and remain in character the entirety of the show. Even well-known performers like Chicago’s Colt Cabana refuse to acknowledge their alter-ego.

It’s important to note that Olde Wrestling exists as if we were all living in the 1920s. To help keep the gimmick going strong, Nottke assists wrestlers in finding a character that would translate best into their 1920s persona.

“Some characters like Thunderkitty (a throwback hard-nosed women’s wrestler) and Dasher Hatfield (vintage baseball hurler) are already kind of close,” Nottke explains. “So it wasn’t a huge stretch, but for a number of others I tried to pull something relevant in their current characters and take it back about 90 years. Like, Jock Samson as a moonshiner or Supercop Dick Justice as one of the Untouchable agents.”

The Speakeasy Spectacular takes place at Mahall’s 20 Lanes on Friday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m., doors opening at 7 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to dress up in anything close to the 1920s for the ultimate Olde Wrestling Experience. In addition to the physical feats of fancy, Pinch & Squeal will offer a live performance in addition to hosting the show. According to Nottke, “Babe Ruth will probably show up too!”

Tickets are available by visiting here.

John Cena On Not Understanding People Wanting To Be Famous, Wrestlers Being Nerds – Wrestling Inc.

John Cena has been known as the quintessential company guy for the WWE for over a decade. He was recently a guest on ID10T with Chris Hardwick and had some interesting thoughts on the wrestling business.

Cena explained a unique correlation between wrestlers and comic book characters. Cena said wrestlers can be considered nerds in a sense because of how they create their characters and present themselves as superheros or villains.

“We are in the business of imagination, and a lot of that creativity rests on your own shoulders. When you say ‘nerdy,’ and the things that nerds are drawn to, the creativity to video games or comic books, if that is what defines a nerd then we are all nerds because our job is to go out there and be a superhero and a super villain. It’s not like, I want to run a 40-yard dash as fast as I can. Now, creating a superhero character, if your character can look muscular or big, then you have the advantage of having your character look like a superhero. So, it’s only in your best interest to be in superhero shape, so that comes with the territory. We are not in a pure sport environment,” Cena said. “It’s a comic book existence, so that is why we share on certain views on culture and that is why we are so nice about everything because we shouldn’t be doing it as a job. It’s not an occupation that should exist. I think all of us should earn a living because we are never home, and our body certainly takes a beating, but I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I think any of my colleagues would be saying the same thing. It’s like, the joke is on them for paying us to do it. I know personally that i wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I know that it is a time-dependent thing, so I am going to enjoy as long as I am on it.”

Cena was asked about wrestlers who get into the industry with the sole intent of becoming famous. Cena chided people who think that way because he believes the essence of the wrestling industry is about learning and performing. Being a professional wrestler is not easy, and he believes it takes a true commitment to the business to be successful.

“If your goal is, ‘I want to be famous’, what the f**k is the tangible of that? I don’t understand that. When I see a ring and I get in, and I say that I just want to learn, and I just want to sustainably do this for my entire life, for as long as I physically can, then the ups and downs will come. When it is up, you can keep the perspective of saying to yourself that you shouldn’t be here anyway, it’s a great perspective to have because it keeps you working hard,” he said. “Sometimes you see complacency in our workplace, and I don’t understand that, because if you really wanted to be here, and when put a microphone in front of them, and when they say that they have wanted to do this since they were a kid, then you have to take the bad s**t with the good stuff because it’s not all good, and it’s tough work, but you should enjoy all of it. You really get to test a person’s mental when things aren’t going their way. Oftentimes that is the case, but at the end of the day, you are a freaking pro wrestler. You may not have been paired with the person you wanted to work with, but at the end of the day, you are getting paid to perform in front of people, which is a good thing.”

John Cena On What Movie Recently Made Him Cry, Masculinity, Becoming A Father One Day

Cena also discussed his status as a company guy. He gave a lengthy explanation about his love for the WWE and how he has grown over the course of his storied career.

“For the longest, my goal, I’m a weird case because I love the company I work for. I am a company man. I know that I will not perform anywhere else in Pro Wrestling outside of the WWE because I love the company I work for. You have this life ark of I would like to become a Professional Wrestler. I would like to earn a WWE contract. I would like to become a champion. Then, when you ask yourself why you would like to become a WWE Champion and when you broke that down, it was so more people could enjoy WWE,” he said. “I hate the fact that Pro Wrestlers are judged a certain way. I hate the fact that when you walk into a room and people scour and say, ‘Oh, it’s those guys.’ That is fact. That is the way it is. We run episodic television, with no reruns, no off season. We have an incredible global reach. We have a streaming model that is off the charts. Just now, after 40 years of doing this, people are like, oh, wow, okay, this kind of works. The acceptance is due to the fact that YouTubers can be successful. I guarantee YouTubers face the same stigma of only being popular because of YouTube. That just hit me the wrong way early on in my career and it made it a goal of mine early on that I would like to leave this place better than I found it, which is why I did The Marine early on. I didn’t want to do movies. I enjoyed living the life, and going town to town feeling the heartbeat of the excitement of that animal. You guys know that if you are out there and telling a joke, or if they are buying the bit, you get immediate satisfaction; or, if you are bombing, it’s also immediate notice, like, I’m going to change this.

“It is always another town, and it’s always another chance,” he continued. “It’s the passion of the live animal that is unlike any other thing in this world, but the business model made sense. If I take a WWE performer and make him a movie star, then that is more eyes on WWE. Got it! That works with my mission statement, I am going to do this. I did a string a movies that were unsuccessful, and I gave it everything that I had, but my heart wasn’t into it. My heart was in the ring, and now after 15 years of being in the ring, I have to strip it down to the bear minimal of why I keep coming back to this thing? I don’t need to. I have been well taken care of by the WWE, so what it is? Why am I not able to have myself drift away? I love the storytelling aspect of it. It’s not the physical bumps, it’s not like I’m going to do a stunt better than the next guy so that people can appreciate my athletic ability. I am in the twilight of my athletic ability, but I am drawn back because of the material. This guy hates you for this reason, or, if often than norm, when the Creative Writer comes to you and says that you are going to be working with this guy, you guys figure it out on what to do.

“A lot of our guys frown upon that, but I literally take the guy and go into a room and ask him why we are fighting. We can come up with anything. Did I look at your girl the wrong way? Are you jealous of me, am I jealous of you? That is the imagination aspect, which is what makes us nerds. We can take something out of nothing. That is what reintroduced me to film, and I have used my fortunate career in the WWE to not have to do movies. To be handed a script, to read a script, and be like, that was great. I can be whatever they want me to be in it because i just read the story. If the story is good, then you just tell me whatever piece I am and I will be that piece. It is a different thing because you don’t have the heartbeat of the live audience, but I get to still be creative in my own way, but to answer your question, I never thought of crossing over other than the reason to change perception of what it means to be a WWE performer. Now, I can get the thing I am most passionate about, which is telling stories for the audience, but under a different format.”

If any any these quotes are used, please be sure to credit ID10T with Chris Hardwick via Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.

Source: ID10T with Chris Hardwick

Peter Bahi contributed to this article.

Prep wrestling: O'Connell honored for career in wrestling – The Herald-News

Joliet Central coach Pat O'Connell was recently inducted into the IWCOA hall of fame.
Joliet Central coach Pat O’Connell was recently inducted into the IWCOA hall of fame.

Of the nearly 600 inductees of the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame, the vast majority are naturally wrestlers and head coaches along with several officials.

But a group of individuals who have been critically important to the sport’s success, the assistant coaches, are represented by a much smaller group of individuals.

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That’s why longtime Joliet Central and Joliet Township coach Pat O’Connell was not only surprised, but also very grateful to learn that he would be one of 16 inductees in this year’s Hall of Fame class, which included a Steelmen wrestler whom he nominated, the late Joei Bales, as well as former Plainfield Central coach Paul Faris.

“I was definitely surprised and the group that I went in was amazing,” O’Connell said of his induction ceremony earlier this month. “I’ve worked the state tournament for 38 years, and that’s been big. And I’m assuming that getting JJC wrestling back had a lot to do with it.

“It was wonderful. I had the family there, and it was good to also have some friends there. And it was good to get Joei in at the same time and his daughters were able to accept the award. There’s quite a few from JT who are in the Hall of Fame, and I’m still trying to get in some more and sometimes it takes four or five years.”

O’Connell, who has been coaching in the sport for 41 years, realizes that volunteering at the IHSA finals as a weigh-in official since 1981 and heading a committee that helped to bring back the wrestling program at Joliet Junior College also greatly enhanced his qualifications.

Although he’s stepped down as a paid assistant at Central, he plans to continue to volunteer there. He assisted JJC coach A.J. Blahut by helping in the weight room and hopes to do more volunteer coaching with the Wolves.

“One of our selling points is that this is a hot bed,” O’Connell said of JJC. “There’s so much talent here and there were kids at JJC that I knew were good wrestlers. That was the best fit for them, but they didn’t have wrestling at the time, so we missed out on a few. They hired A.J. early and gave him time and he was able to see kids and talk to them.”

After starting his coaching career at his alma mater of Joliet East in 1979 with Sam Parker, the pair moved to Central in 1983-84, and O’Connell began his 27-year association as assistant for the Steelmen under hall of famer Mac McLaughlin. After a three-year stint as head coach, he has served as an assistant for Gardner Coughlen since then.

“That was a hoot, we had a lot of fun,” O’Connell said. “We won the dual team title in 1985 and took second in 1986 and realistically could have won it three years in a row. I got to sit in the chair when Joe Herron won state and then Mac sat with me when Trayvon [Zabala] wrestled in the finals and took second. So it was kind of neat to go back and forth like that.”

O’Connell started his wrestling career competing for hall of famer Ron Larsen. He was a four-year letterman at Millikin University and competed in cross country and track and field.

He comes from one of the famed coaching families in the Joliet area. His father, Dale, was the first basketball coach when Joliet East opened and his brothers Dale, Mike and Bill also coached, and many of his nieces and nephews are currently coaching at various levels.

In addition to his many years in the corner chair, Pat O’Connell also coached cross country, track and was head boys soccer coach to start Central’s program.

But wrestling was the sport that won O’Connell over, which isn’t surprising considering who he was fortunate to work with and the great success that it has enjoyed in the Joliet area.

“There’s always been great wrestling here,” O’Connell said. “It was amazing in the 1970s and it’s continued. The level is strong across the board and today’s kids are coming in ready due to the clubs. It’s still a great blue-collar sport where hard work pays off for the average kid. If you follow what your coaches say and learn the basics, you can go a long way.”

Certainly one of the best that O’Connell was around was Bales, a 1985 Central graduate who was a state runner-up in 1984 and an undefeated champion in 1985.

He was a four-time state qualifier and three-time sectional and regional champ who went 114-11-2 while helping the Steelmen to two state dual finals.

He continued his success at Northwestern University, where he was an All-American and also competed at the Espoir level. Bales passed away in 2008 at age 41.

“I nominated Joei a few times before they put him in and I didn’t even know all of his accomplishments until I researched it,” O’Connell said. “When I was coaching freshmen, he would show me stuff that he did and I still show kids some of that stuff to this day.”

O’Connell is getting closer to finishing his historical research of the Steelmen program, which is the area’s oldest and among the few statewide that date back to the sport’s early years.

He takes pride that his research has led to several JT wrestlers being inducted into the IWCOA Hall of Fame.

“One other thing that I’m really proud is that I discovered the 1944 state tournament that nobody knew about,” O’Connell said. “Don Govoni and Earl D’Amico always said that Dave Shapiro was a state champ in 1944, but there supposedly wasn’t a tournament that year. So I researched it and basically found all of the brackets and turned them over to the state.”

O’Connell is appreciative of the experiences that he’s enjoyed while in wrestling.

“I’ve got a special thing with wrestling, and I don’t want to say that it saved me, but I owe the rest of my life to it,” O’Connell said. “I got to go to college doing it and wrestled at Millikin for four years. So I try to get kids out for the same reason that I did it. It’s going to build you up both mentally and physically. It’s just such a great way of life.”

Hong Kong arm-wrestling chief is going from strength to strength after starting with nothing – South China Morning Post

Every Tuesday and Saturday Hong Kong student Tommy Kwong Tze-man goes to the gym and pulls weights, lifts dumbbells and does leg presses – and gets a little closer to his dream.

The visits to Optimum Performance Studio in Tsim Sha Tsui are part of his weekly training routines for arm-wrestling – something the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology maths student is still trying to master after more than a decade of fine-tuning his skills.

“Most people think that arm-wrestling is all about pure strength so that if you have bigger biceps then you’ll win but it’s actually a misconception.”

The 23-year-old founder of the Hong Kong Armwrestling Association says you don’t need arms like cartoon character Popeye the Sailor to be at the top of the game.

“Even with bulging arms, if you don’t know how to use the right muscles and apply the right techniques at the correct time, you will still lose to an opponent smaller than you.”

While anyone can arm-wrestle, not everyone can be good at it, Kwong says.

“It may look simple but it’s easier said than done. It’s more than just having a strong guy beating the weaker one at the game.”

Hong Kong children learn life lessons with the world as their classroom

Since establishing the association two years ago, Kwong has been coaching and training with its members.

“Nearly all of the muscles in the upper body can be used, coupled with some lower body muscles to give strength during a professional game of arm-wrestling,” he says.

Even with bulging arms, if you don’t use the right muscles and techniques, you will lose to a smaller opponent

Tommy Kwong, founder of the Hong Kong Armwrestling Association

His secret to winning is technique and speed.

“Arm-wrestling is more a competition of how well you can transmit power from your biceps to the forearm, then seamlessly to the palm and finger tips locking a grip to cause the opponent to lose their leverage,” he explains.

“Once you feel them slipping that is when you should tighten the ‘hook’ of your fingers to seal the deal.”

What used to be a playground pastime has now become an inspiration in Kwong’s life.

“Before arm-wrestling, I just thought I was an ordinary student who wasn’t really passionate about school. While I wasn’t sure about what kind of a life I wanted, one thing I knew was that I must do well academically because that’s what society, my family and friends expect of me.”

With the pressure to follow social norms, Kwong began to suppress his thoughts of wanting to walk his own path at his own pace until he found arm-wrestling.

“Stepping out of my comfort zone to start the association was the first step to realising my own dream.”

He started with a Facebook page, with just one follower – himself.

While that was discouraging, it was his love for the sport that kept him going.

“I was actually mentally prepared for that because I realised it’s relatively new for most in Hong Kong. I knew people knew what it was but they would doubt it could be played professionally,” he says, adding that it was already considered a professional sport in mainland China and Malaysia at the time.

With just him in the group, a lack of experience and no resources, he took a chance anyway.

Eventually, Kwong met a couple of others who also share the same passion so they joined hands.

“If you back down, you’ll never achieve anything. Together, we went from practising with just a regular table in the park to now, owning more than four professional arm-wrestling tables and a sponsored venue for training.”

If you back down, you’ll never achieve anything

Tommy Kwong

Expanding from one member to more than 40 within two years, the association is thriving.

“This is a sport for all, unfortunately, all our members are men. This is definitely not a male-only sport, we want to see more women joining us.”

The last thing he wants is for woman to avoid the sport because they think it is not suited to them.

“I feel that a lot of women in Hong Kong are afraid of getting too big or that training for arm-wrestling will turn them into muscular hunks when, in fact, that is a misconception that needs to be lifted,” he says, trying to ease concerns that resistance training means becoming muscle-bound.

How did this high-school dropout succeed in fashion in Hong Kong?

“The biological structure of women and men is different. The level of testosterone, which is a male hormone that helps with muscle building, is a lot lower in women than in men. In a way, that means no matter how much exercise you do, it will be very difficult to get arms as big as a man’s.”

Kwong explains that by doing arm workouts, it will not only help lose body fat but also gain a small amount of muscle which will tone one’s body.

Even having to juggle between university work and managing the association, Kwong is determined to continue to promote the sport with the big dream of gathering all like-minded enthusiasts in the city and go international one day.

“I know it’s not very popular right now but I have faith. And my hope is that we can compete as a group from Hong Kong and take on other international teams in the near future.”

April 26 Edition of Wrestling Sheet Radio – Pro Wrestling Sheet (blog)

april 26 wrestling sheet radio

On the April 26 edition of Wrestling Sheet Radio … the guys discuss criticism WWE has received for putting on an event in Saudi Arabia, Val Venis‘ odd post office incident and much more!

Additional topics include:

  • Impact Redemption
  • Chyna‘s ex-manager launching/shutting down a GoFundMe
  • Low-Ki explaining why he kept a deposit, despite not wrestling at the event
  • Enzo Amore‘s cryptic Instagram post

If you enjoy Wrestling Sheet Radio, please rate and review us on iTunes.

Episodes of The Sheet Podcast can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, Podbean and many other platforms.