Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Mike Pankow at C2E2 2020

I have known Mike Pankow for many years. Our paths crossed at comic cons and wrestling events.
Right before the pandemic, our paths merged at C2E2, when I assisted Mike with a few interviews he conducted with wrestlers. I was glad to help him and it was interesting to work video while someone else did the interview for another site.
Mike's site is Windy City Slam. He focuses on the Chicago wrestling scene, but also covers all wrestling. Ever versatile, Mike sometimes serves as a photog for various wrestling companies. In short, he is a fixture around wrestling rings in Chicago.
Mike does great work and works hard at it. He's a great guy, too. I applaud his success and always like seeing him at events.
Check WindyCitySlam.com to see all of his work and to keep updated on wrestling news. Also, check C2E2.com for all the info.
Mike Pankow and me in Chicago, IL-March 2020

Monday, March 27, 2023

Friend Encounters: Billy Ray Cyrus and Larry Freda

Friend Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends who have met celebrities.

Larry Freda has become a more frequent part of Friend Encounters as I realize just how many celebrities he has met. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Larry in person yet, but I feel I know him already through all of his social posts.

Thanks to his Achy Breaky Heart, Billy Ray Cyrus became a big star many years ago. Little did anyone know as big as that song made him, his daughter Miley would later reach superstardom, too.

Billy actually had eight Top Ten singles on the Billboard Country Songs chart. His album Some Gave All spent 17 weeks in the number one position on the Billboard 200. That is the longest streak for a debut artist at number one.

Billy has remained active in music and also acting. Daughter Miley, kind of did that in reverse. She gained stardom as the title character on Disney TV's Hannah Montana, which led to her singing success.

I don't know if Larry has any musical talent, but I know he has met many talented musicians and other celebrities. While he is most often seen with athletes (usually New York legends), he also crosses over into other fields, too. The man is a legend himself and one who I hope to meet someday.

Billy Ray Cyrus and Larry Freda in Ridgewood, NJ-April 2013.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Celebrity Jersey Cards #628 Rachael Ellering & Britt Baker

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing sports jerseys. With WrestleMania coming April 2-3, I feature some wrestlers.

Rachael Ellering is the daughter of Paul, who was the manager of the legendary Road Warriors tag team. Ellering is among the very best independent wrestlers. Why she is not signed to one of the big companies is a mystery to me. Ellering is a noted sports fan, often wearing jerseys, including WNBA jerseys. Today, I feature her repping the Phoenix Suns to earn her Celebrity Jersey Card. The #3 was most notably worn by Chris Paul.
Dr. Britt Baker is not a gimmick, but rather her other life title. Bakers is a legit dentist, when she isn't knocking out teeth in the ring. She is a native of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and I would take her over that groundhog any day. Baker has won the All Elite Wrestling Women's championship multiple times and is one of the best in the world. Baker earned her Celebrity Jersey Card while repping her home state Pittsburgh Penguins. The #87 was worn by HOFer Sydney Crosby, but I'd take Baker over him, too.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Alex Campbell at C2E2 2017

Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo is coming March 31-April 2. As always, I will be "On the Beat" meeting celebs and creators of all sorts.
One of the things I really love is seeing an artist for the first time, even if they have previously been in Artist Alley. There are so many creators in Artist Alley, it is easy to miss a few.
In any case, I was happy to meet Alex Campbell at C2E2 2017. Alex creates digital illustration, comics, prints, and original art. Based "somewhere in Iowa," Alex graduated from Iowa State University before embarking on his career.
Like a lot of artists, Alex did some drawing right at his booth at C2E2. I could watch that stuff for hours. I find it fascinating to see the process and the final awesome product. Alex illusrated sketch covers while there.
Check his work at Alex Campbell Illustration on Facebook. Also, go to C2E2.com for updates and schedules.
Alex Campbell and me in Chicago, IL-April 2017.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Peyton Pepkowski and Loyola Ramblers

Women's college softball is starting. Once again, I will be covering the Loyola Ramblers.
Pitcher Peyton Pepkowski finished her first season with a solid record of 12-13 and a 2.85 ERA, with 15 complete games and 166 strikeouts and 48 walks. That's even better looking when you see she pitched for a team that finished 17-30. With better run support, Pepkowski could have easily won 18-20 games.
Last season, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pepkowski about her first season. I also spoke with Loyola Head Coach Alicia Abbott. Those interviews can be found at On the Beat With Loyola Softball.
I can't wait until the Ramblers home opener Saturday, March 25. It will be great to be back watching softball.
Go to LoyolaRamblers.com for more info. Also, check here and EveryDayFan.com for my recurring coverage.
Peyton Pepkowski and me in Chicago, IL-April 2022.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

On the Beat With Jim Millspaugh of Wrestle Horror

The Squared Circle Expo returns April 7-8 to Indianapolis, Indiana. It will be include a wrestler guest lineup of more than 50 legends and stars, two nights of wrestling, Q&A's, panels, vendors and more. One of the vendors is Jim Millspaugh of Wrestle Horror.

I have seen Jim at both of the previous SCX events, but haven't had the chance to really chat with him and learn about his career. That changed yesterday, as I had the pleasure of talking to Jim during our Zoom interview, which can be found at On the Beat With Jim Millspaugh on YouTube.

Jim has an interesting story, getting involved in the world of pro wrestling at a relatively late age. He admits he was too old to actually wrestle, but age isn't an issue for him as a ring announcer, commentator, podcaster and more. Jim and I bonded over entering pro wrestling from different angles, yet still being a part of the squared circle.

In our interview, Jim covered his path to wrestling and all of his projects. He co-hosts Wrestle Horror with Donnie Hoover. He discussed the crossover of horror and wrestling, including their interviews with wrestlers. Jim also revealed what attendees can expect at his booth at SCX and what wrestlers he really wanted to meet.

Fans have a lot of wrestlers to meet at SCX. That list includes Hall of Famer and Olympic Gold Medal winner Kurt Angle, All Elite Wrestling's MJF, WWE legend Tatanka, podcasters and current stars Matt Cardona and Brian Myers, AEW's Jamie Hayter, WWE Hall of Famer “Big Sexy” Kevin Nash, Heath, Rhyno, current SCX champ Jake Omen, WWE Hall of Famer Lisa Marie Varon, WWE legends Tugboat/Typhoon and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, multi-time WWE and TNA/Impact Women's champ Mickie James, multi-time NWA champ Nick Aldis and ECW stars Al Snow, Sandman, Shane Douglas, “The Queen of Extreme” Francine and the bWo's Blue Meanie and Nova, WWF Hall of Famer Tito Santana, Christian, Kevin Sullivan, Evil Uno, AEW's Toni Storm, NJPW's Juice Robinson, WWE HOFer Sgt. Slaughter, AEW's Willow Nightingale, Red Velvet, Dvon Dudley, SoCal Val, Impact's Ace Austin, Impact's Crazzy Steve, PG-13 (J.C. Ice and Wolfie D), Shark Boy, Athena, Danhausen, Deonna Purrazzo, Steve Maclin, the Hex, Fred Rosser, Ethan Page, Madman Fulton and Funaki.

That's 50 great wrestlers of the past and present from several copanies. I think that list is final, but you never know with the promoters of SCX. There still could be a surprise or two.

New this year is Friday night wrestling, which joins the usual Saturday night fights to make two great evenings of action.

Some of the wrestling matches are:

  • Nick Aldis vs. Carson Drake
  • The Headbangers vs. Nick Culer and Sgt. Ledbetter
  • The Inaugural SCX Women's Championship “Hateful 8 Scramble”
  • Lord Crewe vs. Ace Austin
  • Brian Pillman Jr. & Kal Herro vs. Savion & Prima Donny
  • Crazzy Steve & Carlito vs. Matt Taylor & Hooks
  • Rhyno & Heath vs. Soul Shooters vs. Jack Vaughn & Tim Lutz
  • Jake Omen vs. Matt Cardona 

All of this happens at Wyndham Indianapolis West. It's a fantastic two days and you never have to leave the property. With an extensive menu, on site restaurant Nicolino's is an excellent option for all meals.

After about a year of anticipation, SCX III will be here in 17 days. I will be joined “On the Beat” by Tony Feddeler, as we cover all ends of the fantastic event. Check back here for my coverage.

For more info on SCX go to SquaredCircleX.com. Also, check WrestleHorror.com for more info on Jim and his projects.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Johngy "OR ELSE"Podcast - Ep. 57: Sassy Stephie

Sassy Stephie is returning to the wrestling ring after five years away. The interview my podcast partner Tommy Else and I did with Stephie is at The Johngy "OR ELSE" Podcast - Ep. 57: "Sassy Stephie" on YouTube.

From Akron, Ohio, Stephie entered the world of professional wrestling filling in as a ring announcer in 2005. Her experience as a deejay paid off as she soon became the regular announcer.Soon, she started training and made her wrestling debut for Ohio Championship Wrestling in 2007.

During her career, Stephie also wrestled for Shimmer, Women Superstars Uncensored, Chikara, Ring of Honor, Shine and other independent companies. She won several titles and awards along the way, including being ranked No. 36 on the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Female 50 in 2013.

Tommy and I first saw Stephie when she made her debut for Resistance Pro Wrestling in late 2011. We quickly became fans of hers in and out of the ring. Tommy shared a lockerroom with Stephie, while I had the pleasure of interviewing her several times.

Stephie wrestled several matched for RPro, while continuing to wrestle for many other companies. He last match was in 2018. That's going to change very soon.

At Wrestle Jam Weekend on April 1-2, Stephie will step back into the ring for the first time in five years as she takes on Vanessa Kraven. The event will be held at Le Chateau Royal in Laval, Quebec. There will be wrestling, live music, a costume contest, trivia and more.

Stephie talked about all of this, including why she originally retired and why she is returning. She discussed who she wanted to face (spoiler alert...It's Kraven). She also talked about future matches and really enjoying this future run. Lastly, I had to get Stephie's thoughts on her beloved Cleveland Browns. A Canadian resident for several years, Stephie hasn't abandoned her Browns. She has gained a bit of the Canadian accent, as Tommy pointed out.

Stephie looked ready to rumble. She was in great spirits and seems to be at a fantastic place as she now can pick her spots and soak it in, also sharing it with her husband and two young children. Of course, two podcasters from the Chicago area will also be enjoying this run of the Sassy One!

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Chrissie Zullo at C2E2 2019

C2E2 2023 returns March 31-April 3. Once again, I will be "On the Beat" meeting celebrities and creators of all sorts.
One of the first artists I ever met was Chrissie Zullo. Born in Canada, Chrissie moved around a bit in her childhood. An editor discovered Chrissie at the DC Talent Search at San Diego Comic Con 2008. She describes her style as "flowy, dreamy, and whimsical."
Chrissie has illustrated variant covers, posters and more. Her art has also been used to create DC vinyl figures.
Like a lot of creators in Artist Alley at C2E2, Chrissie does some illustrating at her booth. I could watch her draw all day, but I wouldn't want to clog her booth traffic. Still, I always manage to watch for several minutes. Watching a talented artist like Chrissie is simply magical to me.
For more info on Chrissie, follow her on social media and also go to Chrissie's Deviant Art page. Also, go to C2E2.com for info and schedules.
Chrissie Zullo and me in Chicago, IL-March 2019.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Friend Encounters: Ketchup and Kacy Standohar

Friend Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends meeting celebrities.

I met Kacy Standohar several years ago when she was the in-game host for the National Pro Fastpitch Chicago Bandits. Since then, I have seen Kacy at many other sports events, both pro and college. It's always great running into her or working the same event.

An Ohio native, Kacy is now an adopted Chicagoan (although I thinks she still has some Ohio sports fandom in her, but that's understandable). She is totally Chicago though, supprting and covering all local teams.

I don't see any one having more fun or working harder than Kacy. She makes it fun for viewers and co-workers.

Last year, while working at the Chicago Dogs games, Kacy took a selfie with Ketchup, the underrated secondary mascot to Squeeze (because Chicago dogs don't have ketchup). Look at those smiles. I think Kacy's is even bigger than Ketchup's!

Kacy also works on CHGO, a great Chicago sports site. How this woman has the energy is beyond me, but her enthusiasm is contagious.

The Chicago Dogs open their season May 12. I don't know if Kacy will be there, but I hope to see her sometime this season.

Check my first interview with Kacy at On the Beat With Kacy Standohar. Go to AllCHGO.com to see Kacy's great work and lots of interesting sports coverage.

Kacy Standohar and Ketchup in Rosemont, IL-May 2022.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Celebrity Jersey Cards #627 Pat Patterson & Norman Smiley

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing jerseys. With WrestleMania coming April 2-3, I feature some wrestlers.

Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Pat Patterson enjoyed a length career in the ring and in the office of the WWE. He was the first Intercontinental Champion after "winning" it in a fictitious tournament. He is also credited with creating the Royal Rumble. Paterson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996 and died in 2020. Patterson wore the sweater of his home town Montreal Canadiens to earn his Celebrity Jersey Card.

Norman Smiley was born in England, but began his wrestling career in the United States. His greatest fame during his run in World Championship Wrestling. He gained popularity as an unwilling hardcore champ who often wore plenty of protective padding in his matches. Such was the case when Smiley dressed as a Toronto Maple Leafs goalie during a match against Brian Knobbs to earn his Celebrity Jersey Card.