Category Archives: Wrestling

Sometimes, there are no words…

I’ve been struggling for weeks now on deciding what to write for my second piece here on 859 Sports Magazine. I knew it would be wrestling related, but I couldn’t really put my finger on something and go ‘Yes. That’s what I need to write about.’

Until last night.

For those of you who follow wrestling, I hope you already know who this is and why I am writing this. If you don’t… well, you will and this article is for you.

Do you have the WWE Network? If not, well, you should. There are many reasons. (Like the entire month of February being free, for one) It’s easy to sign up, there is no commitment and should you decide you like it and want to keep it, it’s only $9.99 a month for a LOT of on-demand content. That includes all of WWE’s current shows, PPV’s, etc. And, most importantly, it includes NXT. But enough schilling, let’s get back to the subject at hand.

His name is Kevin Owens. He is wrestling’s future.

Last night, WWE presented NXT: Rival on the WWE Network. NXT is the developmental territory for WWE, where future stars hone their crafts to prepare them for being on the grand stage. But truthfully, calling it just a developmental territory seems almost dirty to me. Their weekly show is an hour of some of the best wrestling (YES, wrestling) and storytelling in the business today. But no matter how good their weekly show is, there is nothing that beats their specials. Five, in all, so far… and they are, without question; THE hottest and most exciting thing to come out of professional wrestling in the last decade.

That’s where this man comes in. Kevin Owens has been signed to WWE for two months. Just two. He’s been told his entire career that he just didn’t fit the mold. He’s too fat and too unattractive. Too unorthodox. Too indie. And last night, he put on a spectacle the likes of which wrestling hasn’t seen in a very long time. It wasn’t just the match, though that was incredible. It wasn’t just the build up TO the match, also incredibly executed. It was him. He sold it. He personified EVERYTHING that makes a wrestler into a star. Passion. Ability. Psychology. (And oh boy, if you’re a serious fan of wrestling, did you ever get an eyeful of psychology last night. Especially AFTER the match.)

I won’t give away the story. I will simply implore you to get the WWE Network and watch NXT: Rival. The whole show was solid and there were a lot of great matches, including a women’s fatal four way that I can PROMISE you will blow you away. But nothing touches Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn. Do yourself a favor and watch it. Because sometimes, there simply are no words to describe.

Andrea is the Pro Wrestling Chief Corespondant and hails from parts unknown (Ohio).

A Newport Legend Passes: Johnny Thunder

Besides what is mentioned in the article below, Johnny Thunder had several different careers including DJ and exotic dancer.  He was an interesting person by all accounts.


Whether in the wrestling ring or walking down the street in Newport, Johnny Thunder drew attention.

Friends described Thunder as one of the more colorful characters in Newport, which is saying something in a town with a history of producing colorful characters.

His friend Steve Chuke will miss seeing him walking down the street in his “strange clothes” and high heeled boots that made him look taller.

“He’d always say, ‘I’m going to Cleveland to get a can of worms,'” Chuke said. “He just made it up, and he’d laugh at it. That’s my buddy Johnny.”

Thunder died on Friday at the age of 80 after a three year battle with prostate cancer. The former professional wrestler fought hard.

“The doctors said anyone else would have been gone within three months,” said his wife, Bonnie Thunder. “He fought. He didn’t want to go so he could stay with me.”

A pall fell over the aisles of the Newport Kroger this past weekend where Thunder worked as a greeter for the past five years up until his illness forced him to quit a few weeks ago, said Lauren Stewart, the associate relations manager at Kroger in Newport.

“He would sing to me all the time, normally Elvis,” she said. “I liked it. He was very funny. He definitely put people in a better mood.”

Born John Stewart (no relation to Lauren Stewart) and raised in Hazard, Ky., Stewart legally changed his name to Johnny Thunder after joining the wrestling circuit with World Wide Sports in the 1960s.

As “Chief Johnny Thunder,” he rubbed elbows with a young Andre the Giant and the original Sheik while traveling in the 1960s and 1970s, Bonnie Thunder said. He chose the gimmick as an homage to a great grandmother who was a member of the Blackfoot tribe.

Thunder claimed to have seen Andre flip over a car when someone angered him.

He still watched wrestling, but didn’t like how later generations of wrestlers used chairs and tables to hit each other, Bonnie Thunder said.

“We’d sit and watch “Monday Night Raw,” and he’d say, ‘Hey, they’re not supposed to do that. We didn’t use chairs,'” she said. “He didn’t like the tables, ladders and chairs in wrestling.”

A knee injury ended his wrestling career, but not his enthusiasm for life. Also blessed with the voice of an angel, Thunder gained a reputation singing Elvis and other hits at friends’ parties and community events. He was also a preacher and recorded some religious music.

Chuke, who is also a well-known Elvis impersonator, remembers singing with Thunder many times in Chuke’s pawn shop on Monmouth.

“He did pretty good on Elvis,” Chuke said. “He really did. He was one of Newport’s finest characters. You can say that.”

Johnny and Bonnie Thunder were married for 31 years.

He’s survived by two children, David Brown and Jamie Furguson, and 10 grandchildren.

Visitation for Thunder will be held on Thursday, Jan. 22 from 1-3 p.m. at Fares. J. Radel Funeral Home in Newport. A memorial service will follow.

Tale As Old As Time

Welcome the newest member of 859Sports, Andrea!  She will be contributing articles from time to time on pro wrestling and whatever else her heart desires.  She hails from the heart of Ohio State territory and we will be sure to hold that against her.

Professional Wrestling.

The words; at once; evoke a visceral reaction in just about anyone you dare to broach the subject with. For some, it’s disgust. There is a segment of the populace that look upon pro wrestling as the dregs of entertainment. These folks will often, ironically, stick with a usual script of: ‘That stuff is so fake’ or ‘Who wants to see a whole bunch of naked, oiled up men rolling around in their underwear?’

(For the record, the Greeks did. They loved it sans underwear, mind you. Which is NOT my cup of tea, but to each their own, right?)

But there are also reactions of immense joy. When fans find one another; even by chance; an immediate bond is formed. It’s something I have found to be somewhat unique to this form of entertainment. It’s possible that the bond formed is simply because only a wrestling fan can truly understand what it MEANS to be a wrestling fan.

I would like to point something out to those folks who crap all over pro wrestling; and specifically. WWE; as fake. How can I like that stuff? Simple. What’s YOUR favorite TV show?

So you’re into Justified?

Me, too! (And yes, I went for the cheap pop with a Kentucky based show.) You should check out the COMPLETELY FICTIONAL books the show was based on, by the incredibly talented and recently passed, Elmore Leonard.

Oh, you like The Walking Dead?

That’s an awesome show, too! Did you know our country is not actually overrun by zombies? (And yes, that is debatable, but that’s a subject for another time.) Nope! In fact, this show is also (GASP!) scripted!

Folks will try to argue that wrestling is fake, but so is every other television show out there. Even reality shows aren’t truly REAL. What I CAN tell you is that wrestling is real enough that people have been paralyzed doing it. They’ve broken necks, backs, legs…

Case in point. That up there is Sid Vicious. And yes, that is his very broken leg. No Photoshop. Don’t believe me? YouTube that. It’s the most grotesque injury I’ve ever witnessed. I’ll warn you though, it’s not for the squeamish. Not even a little bit.

So no, there are no true winners or losers. That is planned, much like anything else in any other TV show. But with professional wrestling, there is a very specific skill set involved that goes far beyond acting. Athleticism, charisma, improvisational skills, an innate understanding of psychology… There is an art to professional wrestling. A truly successful professional wrestler tells a story through a match, without words. You feel their struggle. You sympathise or despise, based on their physical actions in the ring. You want them to win… or to get the crap kicked out of them, just like any hero or villain. They are the Luke Skywalkers and Darth Vaders. The Raylan Givens’ and the Boyd Crowders. The Rick Grimes’ and… well, everything else. Or in sports context, everyone versus the Patriots. OSU/Michigan. It’s the battle of good and evil. The oldest story in the history of time. What’s not to love about that?

So yes, my name is Andrea and I love professional wrestling. How about you?