Archive for the ‘Professional Wrestling’ Category

Tweet #5,000

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In the Winter of 2008, I had to have a hip replacement.  The down time I had to endure meant a lot of sitting around with nothing to do except watch reruns of Two And A Half Men and a bunch of game shows.

A friend of mine, Ethan Jaynes, who operated a blog called NESW sports, asked me to write a couple of posts.  When those stories did well, Jaynes hooked me up with the knowledge I would need to run my own site, Paneech.com.

In the time since, I have made a bunch of good friends and probably a few enemies too.

Fast forward to September of 2012.  I am working a 40-hour-a-week job, and still trying to keep up with this website.  Sometimes the posts seem scant, but that is because of the time constraints I have to deal with.

On of the biggest events I was lucky enough to cover was the dedication of Dave Grohl Boulevard in Warren.  I was interviewing Jen Campbell, the organizer of the event, in a side building as warm-up bands were wailing away outside.

Suddenly, on the third question of the interview, the door opens, and it is Dave Grohl.  He looks at us, the only two people in the room, and asks, “Am I early?”

Campbell had to run and gather some folks which left me solo with Grohl, who offered me a Budweiser.  We talked about everything from the steel industry to Wedgewood Pizza, to Kurt Cobain, to how often he sneaks back to this area to visit family.

It was the biggest, ‘right place at the right time’, moment in my life.

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I have caught some good breaks to gain access.  My first real coverage was of the Youngstown Thunder Arena Football team.  Those games were a lot of fun and I was able to develop my first player profile interviews while I was there.  Thanks to Anthony Farris for a chance.

The next break to fall into my lap was the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.  Marc Means and Dave Smith, the GM at the time, were instrumental in getting me the trial year of credentials.  The Scrappers, now functioning on the watch of Jordan Taylor, are fun because of the themes, the wrestling, the fireworks, and the personalities you meet who deal with baseball as a way of life every day.

Youngstown State University is something I never thought I would want to cover.  Too much stuff going on.  I wanted to give football a shot, so for the 2009 season, Jon Heacocks’s last,  Trevor Parks gave me that chance.  Call it good timing because nobody but WFMJ and Pete Mollica cared about the football program which seemed to be spiraling negatively.

I took a real liking to the way that the YSU people do things.  There were not too many media people who bet Jerry Slocum would still be around.  I got to know Slocum a little better than some and am glad he has found his niche here.

Covering Cindy Martin was tough because when a team goes 0-30, it is hard to ask many questions with positive answers.  Bob Boldon and his staff have picked up the slack in a big way and made that program fun.

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When Ron Strollo hired Eric Wolford for the 2010 season, he made the best possible choice for the university to rekindle a program known for its strong tradition.  Strollo has been fantastic and has seemed to make all of the right moves in the past couple of years.

Wolford is destined for bigger things.  I do not know how long he will be here, hopefully until he retires, but he makes no bones about being an SEC guy and by getting all of the good experience as a head coach here, Wolford will make a jump to a D-I school within the next few years.

Kelly Pavlik was getting recognition for beating Jermain Taylor a couple of times when I got to sit with him and chat.  Still active and back on the rise, The Ghost has provided some huge moments for this site.  Everything from title defenses to a bitter separation with Jack Loew, and no mention of foul play or substance abuse here.  No reason to.

Jake Giuriceo seems to be the next thing to emerge as a televised boxer from Youngstown.  This kid is so laid back, so spiritual, and so focused, that anyone who talks with him would be hard-pressed not to root for him.

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As the website continues to progress, I remain focused on trying to be entertaining and informative without the demise factor.  There is enough positive in the Youngstown area to avoid all of the negative.

So to Larry Holmes, the Youngstown Phantoms, 38 Special, Ron Stevens, and Pete Rose.  Thanks for the roles you have played here at Paneech.com!

Surprise Wrestler Added For Baseball Brawl III

 

Following this Sunday’s Scrapper game, the MCW rolls in for a postgame wrestling card. The card has become an annual tradition at Eastwood Field and this year’s schedule is loaded.  Watch the Matt Hardy video above for more details.

Kevin Bellew, the promoter for MCW is delivering serious talent for the 2012 card. Hardy will be joined by Tommy Dreamer, Rhino, and Carlito. All four of these wrestlers were main event status superstars in the WWE and none of the four are washed-up glory seekers, but rather still among the elite wrestlers in a crowded industry.

Bellew also guaranteed a surprise appearance by a current belt holder from one of the two televised promotions (WWE or TNA) to be at Baseball Brawl on Sunday.

“I can’t say who the mystery superstar is”, said Bellew via telephone.  ”I can guarantee that the mystery superstar is a current champion and is on television every week.  He will be there (not a women’s champion) signing autographs and greeting fans in Niles on Sunday.”

The Scrappers give Bellew an allotted budget to work with each year.  Bellew then contacts stars that would draw, sometimes risking his own money over the budget amount, to guarantee the fans will enjoy the show filled with some recognizable names.

“We probably could have just used Matt Hardy and any one of the other three and it would have drawn”, said Bellew.  ”By using all four superstars, plus a confirmed huge name as a mystery guest, we are proving to everyone that the commitment is strong to provide the best and most entertaining lineup we can.”

The wrestlers will greet fans and sign autographs throughout the day before the ring will be set up on the infield for the wrestling show.  This is the day to be there!  Call the Scrappers box office at  330-505-0000 for VIP and ticket information.

Should be a great day, as it is also Luke Holko day.  Luke will be in attendance, as will Ben Carlson.  Holko and family and Carlson have remained in contact, which is another story worth hearing.  All parties involved are the best kind of people created.

Don’t miss a Sunday at Eastwood Field that will offer something for everyone and an unsolved mystery to boot!

 

WWE House Show Results From Youngstown, Ohio 9/17

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The WWE returned to the Covelli Centre in Youngstown Saturday night, unveiling their Raw and Smackdown Super Show, where members of both rosters were present.  A very loud and appreciative crowd actively participated all evening and the show was filled with a couple of surprises.

The card kicked off at 7:30 p.m. with a tag-team match featuring Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne defending the tag-team championships against R Truth and The Miz.  The fast paced match went about 25 minutes and was filled with acrobatics from Bourne, audience harassment from Truth and Miz, and went the champions’ way as Bourne and Kofi picked up the win via pinfall.

Dolph Ziggler and Alex Riley were next.  Ziggler used his underhanded tactics to finish Riley off via pinfall.

Cody Rhodes and his betraying understudy and former tag-team partner, Ted Dibiase, did battle.  Rhodes did a good job creating heat before the match when he went on a five minute rant about everything from ugly people, to The Rock, to Dibiase.  Unfortunately for Dibiase, Rhodes got the win via pinfall.

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Next up was Alberto Del Rio (above), accompanied by his Mexican ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez, squaring off against CM Punk.  Del Rio got a lot of heat and booed in both of his appearances on the evening.  Punk continued to be the new ‘heelish-babyface’ mix and got a good pop entering to his new ‘Cult of Personality’ music.

The match was pretty predictable and featured good action, a lot of static from Rodriguez, and ended with Del Rio getting the pinfall using the second rope for leverage without getting caught.  Love or hate Rodriguez, he is highly entertaining and gets reaction. He has been more active in Del Rio’s matches than he had been a year ago and I like the character.

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After a brief intermission, Kelly Kelly defeated Beth Phoenix.  Phoenix dominated most of the match, but Kelly was able to roll the Glamazon up for the win.  After the decision was announced, Phoenix attacked Kelly and got decent heat from the crowd.

Sheamus (above), the new babyface version, tagged with Daniel Bryan to face Christian and Mark Henry.  I still can’t figure out why the WWE is so enamored with Daniel Bryan.  He is boring, his music is boring, even when he smiles or celebrates a victory, it looks very unnatural and forced.  Put the clock on him, he will be released within a year unless they come up with a big gimmick for him soon.  Sheamus and Bryan picked up the win via pinfall.

In the main event, John Cena (top photo) faced Alberto Del Rio who was making his second appearance of the night.  The whole Rodriguez introduction was used to full-length, again.  Cena entered to the biggest pop from the crowd, as expected.  Before the match started, Cena did a little work on the microphone.

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Del Rio started the match running and jumping in and out of the ring.  Cena eventually caught him and the actual ten minutes of wrestling in the forty-minute segment were very good.  Rodriguez was sent back to the dressing room by the ref for tripping Cena and distracting one too many times.  The ref was knocked down in a coincidental collision allowing Rodriguez to run back out with a steel chair.  Before things got too out of hand, CM Punk ran to the defense of Cena.  Cena had Del Rio in the air and Punk had Rodriguez in the air simultaneously delivering an ‘Attitude Adjustment’, and a ‘Go To Sleep’ at the same time.

Cena and Punk shared the ring and worked the crowd a bit after the match.  Admirably, Punk signed autographs for nearly fifteen minutes on his way back to the locker room.  He was very good with the fans and talked to nearly every member of the audience on the rail all the way down the main entrance ramp.

Above average house show.  The active audience was a plus.  Randy Orton did not show up and was scheduled to, so keep an ear open on injury news or personal matters on RAW this week.

Interview With Jimmy “The Mouth of The South” Hart

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When you start to fly through the short list of guys who were professional wrestling managers, Jimmy Hart would have to be on near the top.  Hart, notorious for using a megaphone and being the prototypical ‘heel’ character during the WWE’s rise to prominence in the eighties, is very happy with his legacy.  Hart was in the limelight before he got into wrestling as a member of the band, The Gentry’s.  He still does some work for the WWE and was just on RAW a couple of weeks ago.  He was a better interview than I could have imagined he would be and I am happy to share his comments.

Paneech: Jimmy, thanks for talking with me.  You are in an elite handful of wrestling managers:  Captain Lou Albano, Bobby Heenan, The Grand Wizard, and Freddie Blassie to name a few.  Your body didn’t take the abuse, but you had to travel and live that lifestyle, what do you do now?

Hart: I still do stuff for WWE.  I did a skit on television with R Truth for Summerslam a couple of weeks before that event happened. I still do some radio and television from a fan access capacity.  I still love the wrestling and am still very active.  I do Wrestling’s Weekend Warriors, which is basically younger guys who have nine-to-five jobs but wrestle at high schools and armories on weekends.  I also have a girl show that we put together.  It’s kind of like GLOW, but it is more of a combination of Hee Haw meets Laugh-In meets The Man Show, it is called Rassle-licious. It is skits and we have fun with it.  I am also doing a little with music.  Back in the day I wrote some of the songs the wrestlers entered to.  I did Shawn Michaels music, the Road Warriors entrance music, and of course, I’m A Real American for Hulk Hogan.

Paneech: You have a well-storied friendship with Hogan.  Do you keep in touch with many of the guys you worked with?

Hart: Yeah, I just talked to the Hulkster last week.  I just did some work with the Nasty Boys and also recently worked with Brutus Beefcake.  Three weeks ago, I was in Atlanta with Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart.  I don’t fish or eat out much so I run into the guys at events.  I love doing this and wake up pinching myself asking if I really got paid for what I have done all of these years.  It’s fun doing the WWE thing for so many years now, but I also did WCW, Hogan Knows Best, and Thunder In Paradise.

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Paneech: Tell me more about your musical backround and what you like to listen to these days.

Hart: I was in a band, probably before you were born, called the Gentrys.  We had a million seller called ‘Keep On Dancin’.  We did a lot of Dick Clark tours and were pretty successful in the sixties.  I still like Steely Dan, The Beach Boys, and Van Halen.  One of the first tours we did was with Sonny & Cher and The Beach Boys and I remember one night, Dick Clark was talking to all of the acts about giving the people their moneys worth but remember if you dress like the audience you will end up in the audience someday.  That’s why I still wear the crazy jackets and carry the megaphone.  Successful musicians had their gimmick.  Look at Liberace with the piano, or Elton John.  They wore the crazy outfits and separated themselves as stars.

Paneech: What do you think of pro wrestling and the direction it is headed in now?

Hart: Everybody has an opinion.  The wrestling programs have to adapt because sponsors are so important now.  What worked years ago has to be adapted to meet today’s demands.  Some companies were doing stuff that would be considered too far over the top as little as three years ago.  You need McDonalds and other major companies to sponsor your product and you have got to keep it pretty clean, and I feel WWE is doing a really good job following the unwritten guidelines.  The shows are more family oriented and they sell a ton of merchandise on the road.  If the kids really want to go, the parents are gonna bring them.

Paneech: The WWE is running an angle with CM Punk where he is the spokesman against Vince McMahon and taking responsibility for changes.  You have been affiliated for years, what do you think about the whole angle?

Hart: Well number one, CM Punk is saying some nasty stuff, but he is still with the company, so that should throw up a flag that it is a great working angle.  I love CM Punk and the Miz.  I like the direction that these newer guys are taking the company.  We look back and say ‘why didn’t we do something like that’.  Don’t send me no flowers because Jimmy Hart ain’t dead yet, baby! I am still slim and trim and can talk and still have the megaphone.  By the way, Vince [McMahon] brought me that megaphone from Japan to use.  I am a phone call away and always ready to work for the company.

Paneech: So moving forward, will pro wrestling hinge on advertisement dollars and gimmicks versus athleticism?

Hart: If you do what you have done, you will always have what you always had.  If you are having good fortune with something, you have to keep it up.  If you are doing bad, you better change it.  If you have a restaurant and the food isn’t selling, you better change the menu.  Vince is doing great right now, so why change?  WWE is still the greatest show on earth.  They have the best production and the best talent.

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One Word Answers

Favorite Meal Of The Day: I still like my vegetables and pasta.  I like beans and cornbread with turnip greens.

Favorite Sports Team: New York Yankees.  I liked Brett Favre when he played for Green Bay.  Vinny Testaverde at one time lived next door to me, so I rooted for his teams.  I want to see Michael Vick do well for all he has been through.  Both of the Mannings, Peyton and Eli, and I want to see Tim Tebow do good.  If he really sucks at what he does, then criticize him.

Biggest Phobia: Snakes.  You know when I was in that angle with Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, they would throw that big snake on me every night.  God, I hated that!

Worst Habit: Letting people know what I really think and giving an honest opinion without burning any bridges.

Well, it was the shortest set of one word answers ever on this website.  There are no one word answers from Jimmy Hart.  He is still as colorful and descriptive as ever!

Jimmy “Mouth of The South” Hart Added To Eastwood Field Baseball Brawl

Wrestling fans will want to mark August 28 in their planners.  The Mahoning Valley Scrappers have announced that Jimmy “Mouth of The South” Hart has been added to Baseball Brawl 2 following the ball game.  Mick Foley and Al Snow had already been signed to participate in the event, and Hart has recently been added.

All-in-all, there are seven matches scheduled for the card, which will feature mostly independent talent.

Hart was instrumental in the wrestling popularity craze of the 80′s.  He was best known for his screaming through a megaphone and was a great “heel” manager.

Tickets for the game are available at the Mahoning Scrappers Box Office and the game ticket will include the wrestling card, no additional fees.

WWE Tickets For September 17 Covelli Centre Event On Sale July 16

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The WWE Superstars are making Youngstown a regular stop on their tour lately.  An announcement has been made by the WWE and The Covelli Centre to promote the Saturday night, September 17 event.  Tickets go on Saturday, July 16, at 10 a.m.  You can purchase tickets for the special RAW and Smackdown combination show at the Covelli Centre Box Office or through Ticketmaster .

Tickets are $60, $45, $35, $25, and as inexpensive as $15.

Scheduled to appear on the card are WWE Superstars: John Cena, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, The Miz, The Big Show, Alberto Del Rio, Sin Cara, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Wade Barrett, Evan Bourne, Daniel Bryan, The WWE Divas, and more!

The card will start at 7:30.  Another big time score in Youngstown at The Covelli Centre!

The Million Dollar Promotion

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On Sunday, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers welcomed Ted “The Million Dollar Man” DiBiase to Eastwood Field.  DiBiase, one of the all-time great WWE heels, was on hand to sign autographs and greet the fans throughout Sunday’s Scrappers – State College Spikes game.

DiBiase pulled an old skit out of the woodwork when he offered the Scrappers Mascot ,“Scrappy”, an easy thousand dollars to do ten push-ups.  Scrappy was moving right along until DiBiase put his right foot on the fuzzy canine’s torso preventing the tenth push-up.  With his trademark laugh DiBiase blurted out, “Hahaha, not today Scrappy, sorry buddy”, and of course, the famous, “Everybody has a price.”

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DiBiase also tossed out the ceremonial first pitch, suggesting he made a good choice going into wrestling instead of baseball.  Despite the poor toss, the receptive crowd gave DiBiase a nice ovation for the effort.

August 28th will mark a complete pro wrestling card as Mick Foley and Al Snow will make a visit to Eastwood Field to actively participate in a card to take place after the Scrappers-Jamestown Jammers game.

Exclusive Interview With George “The Animal” Steele

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George “The Animal” Steele was recently at a Mahoning Valley Scrappers game.  There was a laser hair removal promotion on the same night in which Steele picked the fan with the hairiest back to receive a free treatment.  For years, Steele was the ultimate WWF (WWE) heel.  He struck fear into some fans and amused others with his antics.  Eating corner turnbuckles, flashing his green tongue, losing focus during matches, and being the uncontrollable x-factor with the white-taped foreign object,  made Steele so much fun to watch.  I was lucky enough to have a few minutes with The Animal.

Paneech:  I want to get your views on today’s professional wrestling as compared to 40 years ago.  What difference have you noticed and do you still watch?

Steele:  It has changed drastically and is a totally different business now.  I don’t watch wrestling anymore.  I got my faith in 2002, I was very, very sick and was given only six months to live.  When I made it through that, Vince [McMahon] wanted me to sign a Legends contract, but I chose not to sign as a tribute to my new-found faith.  At that time they were using angles involving fornication in a coffin, gay marriage, and all kinds of stuff that didn’t cater to my new lifestyle.  So I chose not to get involved and if I watched, I felt as though I was condoning it.

Paneech:  Do you keep in touch with any other pro wrestlers or have you eliminated all contact?

Steele:  I am on the board of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame.  The web address is PWHF.org  and it is not just an internet site, we have a building that is three stories.  The guys that are in wrestling today will sometime be going into that Hall of Fame.

Paneech:  How did the whole “Animal” persona evolve?

Steele:  I got that name, George Steele, when I was wrestling out of the Pittsburgh promotion.  I was a school teacher making $4300.00 a year.  I started wrestling in the Detroit area as a masked man called, “The Student”Bruno [Sammartino] came to Detroit with an entourage and they spotted me.  I took my cap, gown, and mask to Pittsburgh, but they decided that they did not want a masked man, they wanted me.  I knew I couldn’t use my real name, Jim Myers, because of teaching and coaching.  Johnny DeFazio said this is Pittsburgh, the steel city, but I didn’t like Jim Steele, so we went with George.  They wanted me to quit teaching and coaching to wrestle full time, but I loved what I did, so the wrestling stayed a part time venture for me.

Paneech:  For years, you didn’t speak, then Capain Lou Albano takes you to Dr. Rodney Papoofnick’s office to get you some electric treatments that will miraculously have you articulating.

Steele:  How Now Brown Cow.

Paneech:  Exactly, that is what you said.  Then Albano tried to convince the doctor to give you more juice to say more and it was too much and you relapsed. 

Steele:  Before that era, I actually did all of my own interviews.  When I was assigned a manager, I would not talk.  Because I was not there very long due to teaching and coaching, the manager would fill spots talking about me, but that whole thing with How Now Brown Cow was my own adaptation of what Vince originally wanted.  Vince gave me a poem to memorize, it was about a page-and-a-half, and I’m dyslexic, so c’mon give me a break.  When the time came to recite this poem verbatim, I said “screw him” and just said How Now Brown Cow.  I always did everything my own way.  If you watch Vince’s reaction during that segment, he was wondering what I was doing.  If I would have read that long poem, no one would have remembered and it would have been garbage.  I still have people come up to me randomly and say How Now Brown Cow.

Paneech:  You went from a notorious heel for years to this endearing lovestruck being with the whole Macho Man / Miss Elizabeth angle in which you were drawn in to Savage’s valet.  How did that angle work?

Steele:  I didn’t become a face, I became a cartoon character.  I went from being one of the most viscious heels in the industry to a cartoon character.  Me, Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo were involved in a match at Madison Square Garden during my cartoon character era.  We were fighting Big John Studd, Bobby Heenan, and I think Mr. Wonderful [Paul Orndorff] and nobody knew how to get out of the match to end it because nobody wanted to lose.  so I said “I’ll get us out of it”.  I cleared the ring with a steel chair and ended up hitting the ref with the chair and getting disqualified, so nobody lost anything.   

 

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Paneech:  Who was a wrestler you really liked to work with, and conversely who did you not like working with?

Steele:  I really enjoyed my matches with Bruno Sammartino, they were bigtime hardcore.  Later on, I had my feud with Randy Savage, which was very lucrative.  That feud lasted three years and had a long run, he was very jealous.  People would ask me if I was in love with Miss Elizabeth, and I would just laugh and say no, I have been married to my wife for 55 years, and she [Elizabeth]  doesn’t do windows.  I never had anyone I didn’t like to work with until they started throwing people who didn’t belong in the sport into matches with me.  At a television taping, I faced one such opponent and over the span of four minutes, I threw him out of the ring 17 times.  He couldn’t lace his boots and did not belong in a ring, so I got my point across.

Paneech:  Today’s wrestlers sometimes whine about working 320 days a year.  Is this a realistic number?

Steele:  No, absolutely not, they work about 150-200 days a year.  Two days out of the week, they do television shows, one live and one taped.  I was an agent with WWE for ten years after I retired, so i was pretty familiar with the schedule.  I once wrestled 97 straight days.  Many days in a row, I bounced back and forth between the East Coast and the West Coast, just back and forth every day, that was a tough span. 

Paneech:  There was a rock band called Kiss that was huge in the seventies.  The deal with them was that you could not see them without their makeup.  When you were in public, did you stay in character, or were you a free talking person?

Steele:  I was 6’2″ and weighd 290 pounds, pretty imposing.  People would come up to me and I would just look at them (pauses) and they would leave.

Paneech:  Do you resent Vince McMahon for the direction he has taken the sport? 

Steele:  No, I don’t.  Vince did what he had to doVerne Gagne’s AWA promotion in Minnesota and Canada was moving Southeast fast.  The NWA was gaining major television exposure on TBS and moving North, everything was moving toward Vince.  He came up with Wrestlemania as a way to prove he was smarter than the rest of these guys and it caught.  I was closer with his father, Vince McMahon Sr., than I was with Vince, although I did watch Vince grow up and aided in his nurturing.  I don’t agree with everything he does, but he is definitely very good with business and marketing, and has succeeded.

Steele came off as very articulate and cordial.  He took pictures with anyone who asked, but the highlight of the night came between the fifth and sixth innings of the Scrappers game.  Steele was on field with Heather Sahli’s hard working promotional team and he clotheslined Scrappy, the oversized mascot.  He then encouraged one of the kids on the field to pin the mascot (and hook the leg), and in typical George Steele fashion, started to walk back to the exit, turned and looked at the laid out mascot and ran back to deliver a patended George Steele kick to the head.  The audience loved it and he really seemed to enjoy himself.  Very classy individual, but obviously, a great performer who had so many people fooled about who he really was all those years.

Mahoning Valley Scrappers Roll Out 2010 Promo Schedule

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The Mahoning Valley Scrappers are gearing up for the 2010 season with the announcement of its promotional schedule.  The big highlight for me is August 7, when George “The Animal” Steele hits Eastwood Field on Wrestling Night.  Opening night is Monday, June 21 and a fireworks display will happen after that game.  Fireworks will also be shot after every Friday game (there are six).

Here is a list of special events with the dates they will take place:

  • June 21 – Magnetic Schedule Night sponsored by Western Reserve Orthotics and Prosthetics.
  • June 22 – Wellness Night presented by Quest Diagnostics with Prostate Awaremess and local health care vendors.
  • June 23 – College Fair Night woth $1,000 scholarship giveaway presented by Kent State Trumbull Branch.
  • June 24 – Twilight Vampire Night with fang giveaway and movie prize packs.
  • June 25 – Faith Night featuring a pre-game concert by Chris Mowery.
  • July 1 – LeBron James Rally Night featuring the Cavs Dancers and a rally towel giveaway in an effort to keep LeBron in Cleveland.
  • July 3 – Adult Cap Giveaway sponsored by MVPBA Scrappers Backers.
  • July 8 – Tee It Up Night which is an appreciation night for golfers.
  • July 9 – Faith Night featuring a pre-game concert by Sonny Cashbaugh and a post-game talk by Travis Fryman.
  • July 10 – Bark At The Park presented by Niles Veterinary Clinic.  Also, Youth Jersey Giveaway sponsored by Armstrong.
  • July 11 – Indians Affiliate Day featuring an appearance from Slider.  Also, Grady Sizemore Fathead Tradeable giveaway sponsored by Subway of Niles.
  • July 12 – ’85 Rewind Movies Night celebrating 25th anniversary of classic movies.
  • July 13 – National French Fry Day.
  • July 17 – Buffett Night with post-game concert with Fins To The Left.
  • July 18 – Snoopy Appearance presented by Cedar Point with VIP Tour prizes.
  • July 25 – Christmas In July with a Santa Clause appearance and Toys For Tots gift drive.  Also, Webkinz Lil’ Kinz giveaway.
  • July 26 – Wine Tasting Charity Fundraiser.
  • July 31 – Breast Cancer Awareness Night featuring the Susan G. Komen 5K Race For The Cure.
  • August 1 – Chevrolet Cruze Night.
  • August 4 – One Hit Wonders Night presented by The Nicholson Center.
  • August 5 – Irish Night featuring Playboy’s Lisa Neeld.
  • August 6 – Boy Scout Night with a stadium sleepover and movie.  Pre-game concertby HIS Music Connection.
  • August 7 – Game Of Hope Charity Softball Game presented by Hope Foundation of Mahoning Valley.
  • August 8 – Mascot Mania Night with a special appearance by Jimmy Neutron presented by Time Warner.  Also, Team Set Card giveaway night featuring Luke Holko and post-game autograph session.
  • August 9 – Game Show Night.

  • August 18 – Ed O’Neill Night with Polk High t-shirt giveaway, also Dare Day.
  • August 19 – 80′s Night presented by Twisted Tea.
  • August 20 – Girl Scout Night with a stadium sleepover and movie.
  • August 24 – Rock & Roll Night.
  • August 25 – The Office Night.
  • August 26 – Reality TV Night.
  • August 30 – $2,500 Restaurant Gift Card Giveaway Night.
  • August 31 – College Football Night.
  • September 3 – Negro League Tribute Night.
  • September 4 – Reusable Bag giveaway sponsored by Shearer’s and The Vindicator.
  • September 5 – Fan Appreciation Night with Scrapper team poster giveaway sponsored by Buckeye Online School For Success.

Rafe Hernandez, from “Days Of Our Lives“, will be signing autographs on July 31 for Ladies Night sponsored by The Circulatory Center and 21 WFMJ.

Here is a list of daily promos:

  • McDonalds Mondays/ Ohio Lottery Power-Play Promotion. All fans will receive a $5.00 box seat ticket by simply showing a McDonald’s receipt for any Monday game.  Or, present any non-winning Powerball ticket and receive a General Admission ticket at half price ($3.50).
  • $2 Tuesdays presented by Handel’s and Hershey’s / Kraft Singles 2-for-1 Offer. All fans will receive a general admission ticket for only $2.00.  Hot dogs, 16 oz. Pepsi products, 16 oz. draft beer, and ice cream sandwiches are also available for $2.00 each.  Bring in any Kraft Singles wrapper and receive 2 tickets for the price of one.
  • Wendy’s Wednesdays / Military ID Night. Buy one, get one free box seat ticket by simply showing a receipt from Wendy’s for any Wednesday night game.  All members of the military, both current and retired, receive two free box seat tickets by showing a valid military identification card.
  • Thursday Buck Night presented by Plevin and Gallucci.  All general admission tickets, hot dogs, and 12 oz. beverages are only $1.00 all night long.
  • Friday Night Fireworks presented by 21 WFMJ.  Following each Friday home game, fans will be treated to a spectacular display of fireworks.
  • Kids Eat Free Saturdays presented by Pizza Hut and 21 WFMJ.  Kids 12 and under will receive a free slice of pizza, chips, and soft drink for any Saturday night game.
  • Sunday family fun days presented by PNC.  All fans can buy a box seat ticket for $5.00 for any Sunday night game.  Kids can enjoy face painting, sign making, and running the bases after the game.

Should be a busy Summer in Niles!  Looking forward to covering the Scrappers again this season with profiles, game summaries, editorials, interviews, and pictures.

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Jeff Hardy: Excesses = Exit, Former WWE Star In Trouble

The cleverly written storylines hardly ever indicate the reality in a wrestler’s life.  However, Jeff Hardy is living a storyline of excess.  The WWE storyline over the past few months saw CM Punk turn heel and emphasize his ‘straight edge’ lifestyle.  Within that storyline, Punk’s favorite target was Hardy.  Hardy bragged on a recent Smackdown telecast that he had been clean for a year. 

If sobriety was indeed the case, maybe he can use it as a defense in court as to why he was convicted on September 11 on charges of trafficking in controlled perscription pills and possession of anabolic steroids.  A search of Hardy’s house found 262 Vicodin prescription pills, 180 Soma prescription pills, 555 milliliters (that’s alot) of anabolic steroids, a residual amount of cocaine, and drug paraphernalia.  Hardy spent a night in jail before posting the $125,000 bond to be released.  He will have an upcoming court date which should net him at least the minimum of three years in prison unless he can somehow justify the junk in his closet.

Drugs and pro wrestling have churned out some serious tragedies over the past ten years.  Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrerro both passed away under the influence of some foreign substance abuse.  The list is numerous and sadly is always linked to steroids, painkillers, or recreational drugs – all of which were in Hardy’s home.

The CM Punk angle seems so surreal in hindsight.  For weeks, Punk has been attacking the character of Hardy as a guy who “just can’t say no”.   Punk even mentioned Hardy on Smackdown the day after the arrest in a negative light.  I guess it gives the storyline an ending to really sell it, but geez, have mercy on the guy.

The original intent of the storyline was for Punk to win back the title to allow Hardy some time to rest his severely aching neck.  Hardy’s contract expired in June, but he agreed to an extension which ran through Summer Slam and one episode of Smackdown beyond the pay-per-view.

As expected, Vince McMahon has refused comment on the matter and has cancelled a Jeff Hardy DVD which was scheduled for Winter release.