Another Trip Down Memory Lane

Tonight, Big Daddy Vic posted a bunch of photos from the old days of IWA Mid-South on his Facebook page.  Vic Von Erich was the founding member of the Jim Fannin Fan Club and has remained a good friend and supporter almost since I first started in IWA and even into my new career.  While it is very rare to find people that continue to support through good times and bad, that was what IWA Mid-South had in the beginning.  Fans that were loyal, friendly and would follow us to the ends of the earth and back if we asked them to.  It made for such a fascinating time in my life and leaves me wishing that I had cherished those days a little bit more when they were happening. There is rarely a week that goes by where I don’t think back to that time of my life with a fondness that makes it seem like just yesterday.  Dinners at J-Boys restaurant that would last until 4 or 5 in the morning after a Saturday night show just shooting the shit and having a great time.  The Bowling Ball Mafia and the Midnight Bingo Crew provided lasting friendships to this day.


JJ Fannin Fan Club President BDV & me


The Mayor, Brent Blades, Nick Maniwa & myself…The Bowling Ball Mafia

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of Ben Neal, Brent Blades and myself together as we were the Midnight Bingo Crew.  But trust me, it happened, it was almost every night and it was a helluva lot more fun than it should have been!

Anyway, to get back to the point of this post.  My beginning in IWA Mid-South.  I was attending the University of Kentucky and very active in politics since my major was in political science.  I had two friends that I hung out with all the time due to our interest in politics and our love of professional wrestling:  Ben Rich and Les Johns.  Somewhere out there, I might have a picture of the three of us but I know that it isn’t on my computer.  Anyway, we would make the drive from Lexington to Louisville every week to go to the old KMart Building on Dixie Highway to watch some hardcore wrestling.  It would be about 3 hours round trip every week but it would always be worth it.  Mad Man Pondo vs. Ox Harley.  Ian Rotten vs. Bull Pain.  Tarek the Great vs. American Kickboxer.  Tracy Smothers. Salvatore Sincere.  PG-13.  Booing the hell out of Doug Gilbert.  Rico Beatty was the promoter for IWA and he had enough of dealing with the Kentucky State Athletic Commission so Joe Bailey became the promoter.  He wanted his underage son to be able to wrestle on the shows and when Ian wouldn’t allow it, he started his own promotion so JC could wrestle right then and there instead of waiting a few more months.  That opened the door for me to become involved.  My father had passed away not too long before this and since he was in a wheelchair, our father/son bonding time was watching television.  He was a huge wrestling fan so I became one as well.  It was an opportunity to keep my father’s memory alive and get involved in something we both loved.


My parents & me when I was about 2. Dad before he had his accident that left him in the wheelchair

It was decided that my big jump into action would come at April Bloodshowers 1998.  It would also be someone else’s debut at the same time…someone whose career would be intertwined with mine throughout our careers together in wrestling.


Mean Mitch Page and JJ Fannin.

Leading up to April Bloodshowers, Bull Pain suplexed me on the floor every single week.  He would grab me and suplex me and it would rip my jeans.  Every single week.  I think I went through 4 pairs of jeans before I finally would wear shorts under the ripped jeans because I got tired of being new ones!  After a couple of months of that, it was time for the big cage match at April Blood Showers.  I can’t remember the 8 combatants.  I remember Tower of Doom, Bull Pain, Flash Flanagan and Ian being involved.  Flash turned on Ian’s team and with everyone handcuffed to the cage, it left the good guys defenseless.  Mean Mitch Page, a security guard at the time, got laid out with a chair.  It was then my turn to enter the ring and try to end the carnage.  That didn’t work too well.  I got destroyed by Bull, Tower of Doom and Kenny Bolin.  I got powerbombed, hit with chairs and hit with a tennis racket.  I even got a top rope frog splash for my troubles.   It was definitely a “welcome to the business, kid” moment.  It wasn’t the only one.  Quick side story.  My first night in the dressing room, “Wildfire” Tommy Rich was on the show.  He was my first favorite wrestler.  I would watch him on Georgia Championship Wrestling when I was 4 years old…before he even won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.  The guys decided to play a rib on me and kept telling me to go ahead and go up to Tommy and introduce myself.  They said that I needed to make a point to mention that he was my favorite wrestler when I was a kid.  I did what they said and Tommy immediately started screaming at me.  “Are you trying to call me an old man you punk ass kid?”  He berated me for a good three minutes about disrespecting him until I was almost in tears because an idol of mine wanted to kick my ass.  Then everyone started laughing and Tommy said “gotcha.”  I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I wasn’t going to get killed.



Mean Mitch Page has already been laid out in the ring and Bull Pain is about to grab me and powerbomb me


This is what a powerbomb looks like upon impact. It hurt as badly as it looked. Notice I’m wearing a pair of ripped jeans from a previous Bull Pain suplex on the floor



There’s Ben Rich! In the long sleeve striped polo helping carry me out on a stretcher

Anyway, back to the story.  Mitch and I got laid out as our welcome to the business.  I was so sore the next day, that I didn’t even want to get out of bed.  It was when I realized that I was glad I took the managerial route and wouldn’t have to take that pounding every night because I wasn’t cut out for it.

I earned my stripes with the guys that night and proved I belonged.  While it was a painful experience and not one that will go on a best of JJ Fannin DVD (1. I don’t think it exists on DVD format and 2. Who in the hell wants a Best of JJ Fannin DVD?) but it was a night that I will always remember…if I can.

It was the culmination of a lot of nights of Mitch and I talking about working together while driving the ring truck and setting up the ring and unloading it back into the storage units etc.

I’m glad that Vic posted his old pictures and brought back some of these memories.  If anyone happens to find this blog and has any pictures from old shows involving me, I would love to see them.

Good day.






5 responses to “Another Trip Down Memory Lane”

  1. Brent Charles Avatar

    Great read man, I could read stories of the good ole days forever!

    1. Katarina Avatar

      TNA>WWE. WWE marks can have their Lord Tensai, Muppets, Jack No Swaggar, sellout Brock Lesnar, Kofi Stinkson, Dolph Shittler, Big Slow, PG TV, lame divas dsviion, devalued World Titles, lame tag dsviion, The Stunkasarius, A part time wrestler/actor hogging the spotlight, etc.

  2. J.J.Fannin Avatar

    Thanks Brent.  I love writing the blogs about the good times.  It’s a shame it all went to #**$ like it did but we will always have those memories of when it was great.  Can’t let those times fade away so I will break out some old stories on the blog from time to time

  3. Brian L. Orlinsky Avatar

    Nice read.  I always had wished that I started following IWA before 2003.

  4. Dezsi Avatar

    9:08 Wow. Way to sound desperate and ieomcpntent, Dixie. The owner of the company’ letting Hogan think the sun rises and sets off of him and that her company would be lost without him.Also, this sitting on a parkbench’ bit reminds me of a soap opera. I’m aware that wrestling is actually a kind of soap opera in a way, but jeez.

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