Posts Tagged ‘wrestling’

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Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Vol. 3 by Paul O’Brien

September 23, 2015 by  •
Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Vol. 3“We all know the rules. Most of us live by those rules. If you don’t, then we will kill you on the vine.” — Joe Lapine

Author Paul O’Brien showed up on my radar back in 2012 with the novel Blood Red Turns Dollar Green, an engaging trip through the back rooms and shady deals that formed the backbone of the professional wrestling circuit during its heyday of the late 1960s/early 1970s.

O’Brien built the story of battling territory owners Proctor King and Danno Garland to a crescendo that was left tantalizingly hanging, before picking things up in early 2013 with Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Volume 2, which focuses on Garland, who has finally clawed his way to the top and now controls the World Heavyweight Champion.

It wasn’t an easy climb, however, and the backstabbing and double-crosses finally catch up with Garland, who gets caught in a deadly downward spiral of retaliation and revenge. Relative bit players in the first book, ring-rat/limo driver Lenny Long and Garland’s right-hand man, Ricky Plick, move out of the shadows in the second outing, with both playing crucial roles as Garland’s life and empire crumble around him.

All of which sets the stage for the sledgehammer final book in the trilogy, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Volume 3, which finds the formerly gritty world of ‘60s/’70s wrestling giving way to the neon spandex, face paint, and baby oiled bodies of the flashy 1980s. Twelve years have passed since the climactic events that ended the previous entry, twelve years that saw Lenny Long doing the ultimate slow burn in prison, waiting for his chance to settle scores and make his own power play. (more…)

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Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Vol. 2 by Paul O’Brien

May 9, 2013 by  •
Bill LoehfelmHe needed to mourn but he couldn’t yet, because he knew there would be more death to come. – Danno Garland

Paul O’Brien’s debut, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green, was one of the more enjoyable books I read last year, a wonderful combination of organized crime and professional wrestling circa the early 1970s. The book ended with a rather intense cliffhanger, and fortunately for fans of the first entry O’Brien is now back to pick up the story in Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Volume 2

As we learned in the first outing, professional wrestling in the early 70s was not the huge, centralized business it is today, but rather was broken into various territories held by individual owners spread throughout the country. And though the owners worked together to a certain degree for the greater good of the sport in general, at the same time each protected their turf ruthlessly.

One owner, Danno Garland, has managed to claw his way to the top of the heap and now controls the World Heavyweight Champion, which gives him tremendous power. It wasn’t an easy climb, however, and the backstabbing and double-crosses are now catching up with Danno. When his rivals lash out at him in a particularly horrific way, Danno turns his back on everything he’s ever known and loved and directs the same single-minded focus he used to build his wrestling empire to a new purpose–revenge. (more…)

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The Secret to Writing by Paul O’Brien

April 25, 2013 by  •
Paul O’Brien’s debut, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green, was one of the more enjoyable books I read last year, a wonderful combination of organized crime and professional wrestling circa the early 1970s. I wasn’t the only one who loved the book–none other than wrestling legend and author himself Mick Foley got behind O’Brien’s work–and so O’Brien has picked up where he left off and now presents his eager readers with a sequel, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Vol. 2. Along the way he appears to have discovered the secret to writing, which he has been kind enough to stop by today and share.

Paul O'BrienI have been lucky enough to begin my writing career under the wing of people who knew how to write story. They explained to me the rules and the boundaries and the arcs and payoffs of writing. I soaked up every word and tossed them left and right for fifteen years before I attempted my first novel last year, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green.

The novel came fifteen years after I began writing professionally for the theatre. After sixteen plays and a couple of screenplays. It also came after I’d been asked ‘what’s the secret to writing’ a couple of hundred times.


Of course there is no secret. It’s all about the work, the perseverance, the skill, the time. Or is it? Over the last couple of months, during the writing of Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Vol. 2, I think I’ve uncovered the simplistic ‘secret’ that I was looking for.

So this piece is for everyone out there who has ever wondered what the secret to writing is. You might be surprised by my findings but bear with me. (more…)

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Blood & Sawdust by Jason S. Ridler

October 31, 2012 by  •
Jason S. Ridler“Shouldn’t we both be afraid of something badass enough and strong enough to scare her?” – Milkwood

It’s a very perceptive question Francis “Milkwood” Mace poses to his young friend, Malcolm Tanner. After all, the her in question is Lash, one of the few surviving members of an ancient bloodline and the vampire who turned Milkwood. But let’s back up for second…

Thirteen-year-old Malcolm (first introduced in Jay Ridler’s short story “Blood & Sawdust” in his collection, Knockouts) and his older brother make their meager living betting on the underground fight circuit. His brother’s in it strictly for the money, but Malcolm is a true fan who knows all the fighters. At least he thought he did.

That was until the night he saw Milkwood fight for the first time. Short, pudgy, with a face only a mother could love – and that’s before taking a beating – Milkwood was utterly annihilated in his fight, a human punching bag who absorbed an inhuman amount of punishment. Dragged out the back door of the fight club and left for dead, Malcolm figured he’d seen the first and last of Milkwood.

So imagine Malcolm’s surprise when only a few hours later he runs into a Milkwood who is not only conscious and vertical, but who looks like no one’s ever laid a finger on him, much less a beating of epic proportions. Malcolm begins to piece things together when he realizes he actually has seen Milkwood fight before, except it was as a masked character billed as Stretch Armstrong…who was also beat to hell and back. In fact, those in attendance that night four months ago were sure Stretch had suffered a broken neck. (more…)

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Dice Roll by Jason S. Ridler

September 21, 2012 by  •
Dice Roll by Jason S. Ridler“Be careful, Spar. I gotta bad feeling I’m about to kick a hornet’s nest with my boots.” – Gordon FitzHenry

Spar Battersea has not had an easy life. He pinballed through his teens and early twenties in a drunken, drug-addled, punk rock fueled haze. During that time he managed to alienate just about everyone he knew, from bandmates to friends to family and everyone in between. Yet, not even getting clean and sober helped keep Spar from finding himself repeatedly at the center of one disastrous event after another.

In the two years he’s been sober Spar’s seen his best friend die, wrangled with a nasty biker gang, been the target of both a psychopathic mime and a dominatrix with an affinity for 50′s style, nearly been murdered (twice), fought off a pack of vigilante ninjas, and been put in the position of having to kill or be killed on several occasions. Death, destruction and downright weirdness just seem to follow him like a shadow.

As Dice Roll opens, the third book in the series following Death Match and Con Job, Spar is still barely clinging to both his sobriety and his sanity while working a dead end job flipping burgers at Mama Calisto’s place. On the advice of his therapist Spar is trying to form new, positive memories to help him move beyond the tragedies in his past, and he’s been going about that by hanging out with a group of fantasy role-playing gamers he met through one of his co-workers. Not exactly Spar’s preferred scene, but what’s a guy with limited options to do?

Turns out not even gaming geeks are safe from the bad luck magnet that is Spar Battersea, as on old friend of Spar’s from high school blows back into town after a ten year absence with a serious score to settle…and a posse of Beatles quoting jujitsu trained cult members to back him up. Before he knows it Spar finds himself up to his eyes in the shit again, this time with the added bonus of a very undesired trip down memory lane. (more…)


‘I Was a Teenage Umber Hulk!’ Confessions of a D&D Kid by Jason S. Ridler

September 20, 2012 by  •
I’m very happy to welcome back to the blog author Jason S. Ridler for another guest post. I’ve previously reviewed Jason’s first two Spar Battersea thrillers, Death Match and Con Job, and tomorrow I’ll be reviewing the third installment, Dice Roll. Today, however, Jason has a story to tell about his realization that his years spent playing Dungeons and Dragons as a teenager were really training to be an author.

Jason S. RidlerRemember the 1980s? When thermonuclear war and Webster filled the TV, heavy metal was turning kids into Satanist, and GI Joe waged the first war on terror without one casualty on either side? Yo Joe!

But from that lost era of Valley Girls, New Coke, and Manimal’s mammoth eight-episode run on the idiot box, there was another pop culture phenomenon poised to take over the nation: Role Playing Games, aka the non-lethal variety of “RPGs.” Games of high adventure set in the imagination and at the kitchen table, where funny shaped dice and human agency decided the fate of magical kingdoms, intergalactic empires, and desolate post Armageddon landscapes. Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), the God Emperor of RPGs, took off like gangbusters and has influenced the pop culture sphere forever (there’s a new documentary on it, too!)

But RPGs were no mere fun and games. This greasy kid stuff was feared to be more lethal than rock and roll, comic books, and peanut allergies COMBINED!

D&D was soon spoken of in shadowy whispers alongside suicides, witchcraft and Satanism. There was the Dallas Egbert, Jr. “Steam Tunnel” incident of 1980, that led to a police investigation and a book called The Dungeon Master, all of which resulted in the mind blowing film Mazes and Monsters, where a young Tom Hanks plays a kid who suffers a psychotic break while playing a fantasy RPG, never to return.

Playing D&D, parents feared, was “dangerous.” (more…)

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One Bullet, Two Shots by Jason S. Ridler

August 16, 2012 by  •
One Bullet, Two Shots by Jason S. Ridler First introduced in the Spar Battersea thriller Death Match, professional wrestler Keith “The Bullet” Winnick offered readers a tantalizing glimpse at a character that begged for his own showcase.

And while we’ve not gotten a full length offering built around him yet, One Bullet, Two Shots does provide a nice double-dip of short stories that flesh out Winnck’s history.

Heart Punch Blues takes place in 1982 at a time when “The Bullet” was a well-known character on the professional wrestling circuit, though one who’d never made the jump to the big time. Far from being a pretty boy, and lacking smooth talking mic skills, “The Bullet” seemed destined to be nothing more than a jobber (designated loser) and second tier heel (villain). Until the night of the match that changed his life forever, the match that gave “The Bullet” and his signature heart punch finishing move a deadly legend he’d never be able to live up to…or down.

Dark Match Champ takes place two years after that fateful night in 1982. Now at the top of the professional wrestling pyramid, Winnick has learned the hard way that one really does have to be careful what they wish for, especially in a business where ungodly demands are put on one’s body in order to keep performing. Taking some time off for the Christmas holiday, Dark Match Champ finds Winnick waiting incognito in a bus station to travel home and see his young daughter. Hoping to cash in on his fame and get a quickie with a woman also waiting for her bus to arrive, Winnick follows her to the bathroom where he gets something entirely different than what he was expecting. A “dark match” in wrestling is one that takes place either before or after the televised show, and in this story “The Bullet” finds himself in the dark match fight of his life. (more…)


Blood Red Turns Dollar Green by Paul O’Brien

July 6, 2012 by  •
Blood Red Turns Dollar Green by Paul O'BrienThis was the first minute of his life where he knew the clock had started; he would never be able to let his guard down again. – Danno Garland

Think the organized crime genre is played out? Think you have no interest in a story about professional wrestling? Think again, on both counts.

Author Paul O’Brien’s debut, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green, is a magnificent melding of the two, breathing fresh life into an old genre and presenting the late 1960s/early 1970s world of pro wrestling in a light even those who aren’t fans of the sport will find fascinating.

Unfolding over the course of three years, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green weaves together the fates of three primary characters. Having worked himself up from circus strongman to wrestler to territory owner, Proctor King is a man who does not take no for an answer. He’s paid his dues, and King’s ready to collect on his investment. He’ll work with you if he can, but he’s more than happy to run over you if he has to.

Lenny Long is the eternal hanger-on, desperate to break into the money side of the business but stuck on the ring crew. Married with a kid, and another on the way, Lenny’s resorted to providing transportation for some of the wrestlers between gigs and selling them his wife’s homemade sandwiches. To ever be more than a lackey Lenny’s going to have to make a bold move, but doing so may put both his marriage and his life in danger. (more…)


Con Job by Jason S. Ridler

June 7, 2012 by  •
Con Job by Jason S. Ridler“Christ, Sputnik, is there anybody you didn’t piss off in this town?” – Keith ‘The Bullet’ Winnick

You certainly wouldn’t think so from the way events unfold in Con Job, author Jason Ridler’s follow up to Death Match, the book that introduced readers to ex-punk rocker turned indie bookstore clerk and reluctant amateur detective Spar Battersea.

Still reeling from the events in Death Match, including having lost his best friend/roommate and his part time job writing for the local newspaper, Spar finds himself holding on desperately to his position at the bookstore as he tries to put the pieces of his life back together. Unfortunately for Spar, this requires him to work the store’s booth at CosmiCon, a huge sci-fi and comic book convention.

Not exactly a warm and fuzzy people person under the best of circumstances, being surrounded by a bunch of pudgy wookiees, Trekkers, and hobbits isn’t exactly Spar’s cup of tea. Things go from bad to worse when Spar learns he has to babysit an egomaniacal, over-the-hill science fiction writer who’s been contracted to sign at the store’s booth.

Annoyance turns to alarm, however, when Spar learns that his former high school crush, who was supposed to be working at the convention as a “booth babe,” has gone missing under very suspicious circumstances. Spar may “hate most people” but he’s not the kind of guy who turns his back on a friend – or a smoking hot babe – so he sets out to track her down and make sure everything’s ok. (more…)


No One Best Way by Jason S. Ridler

June 6, 2012 by  •
I’m very happy to welcome back to the blog author Jason S. Ridler. I’ve previously reviewed Jason’s short story collection, Knockouts, as well as his first Spar Battersea thriller, Death Match. Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Jason’s newest release Con Job, the second Spar Battersea thriller, but today Jason has a story to tell about how an attitude problem and two magic words fueled his dreams of being an author.

Jason S. RidlerNo One Best Way: Confessions of a Novelist and (Ex) Punk Rock Kid

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned while creating my writing career? Here it is:

There is no one best way to become a writer.

There is no one path. No one background. No one class, education, religion, race or creed required. Examples abound, from every facet of life. This fact should be a kind of freedom.

But when I started, back in the 20th century, I was convinced only certain kinds of people were allowed to become writers. That there was a check list of youthful experience all writers needed by the time they were twenty: all writers are born knowing they will grow up to be writers; all writers spend their teenaged years dreaming and working toward writing a masterpiece; and all writers have read all the greats of literature, both popular and classic, before they graduated high school.

If this was the test, I was boned.

Until I was nineteen, I didn’t give a shit about reading or writing. I watched relentless hours of TV, and loved gutter entertainment: comic books, slasher flicks, Dungeons and Dragons and, of course, pro wrestling!

Books? Pass. (more…)

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Knockouts by Jason S. Ridler

March 22, 2012 by  •
Knockouts by Jason S. RidlerAs the title suggests, the stories in Jay Ridler’s short story collection Knockouts: Ten Tales of Fantasy and Noir are thematically linked around fighting. In many of them the fighting is literal – mixed marital arts, bare-knuckle brawling, wrestling – but in others the fighting occurs on a more symbolic level, be it fighting to break free from memories and boundaries, or from the circumstances of life that are trying to drag you down.

As the title also indicates, the stories represent several genres, and Ridler’s writing is equally strong whether penning straight noir, supernatural escapism, or horror-tinged dystopia. And while I genuinely enjoyed each of the offerings in Knockouts, as is always the case there were several that particularly stood out.

“The Savage Games of Peace” is set during the time when Wrestlemania was king and finds a rich kid named Russell staging his own backyard wrestling event, Russlemania. Little do Russell’s wealthy friends realize that the kids from the wrong side of the tracks they’ve enticed with cash to beat each other senseless have something else in store for this year’s main event. (more…)