Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 4, 2014

Blaze of Glory

Professional wrestler chronicles experiences in book and still calls Ashland home

Jeremy T. Wheeler

ASHLAND — Bobby “Blaze” Smedley is a decorated professional wrestling champion and a longtime resident of Ashland. 

Ashland is home to a long list of celebrities, many of whom have moved away for one reason or another, but still visit from time to time to be with friends and family.   However, Bobby Blaze has remained committed to his community even while he was enjoying the peak of his professional wrestling career in companies like World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Federation (now known as World Wrestling Entertainment — WWE).  In the words of longtime wrestling promotor Jim Cornette, Smedley is “the second most famous man from Ashland, Kentucky!”   Along with being a world-champion professional wrestler and a trainer to young up-and-coming wrestling talent, Smedley has added one more accolade to his list of credentials — published author.

New book

In recent months, Bobby “Blaze” Smedley has written and published a book chronicling many of his adventures around the world.  In “Pin Me Pay Me: Have Boots Will Travel,” Smedley pulls back the curtain to the secretive world of professional wrestling and gives fans of the sport a glimpse into the good, the bad, the ugly, but sometimes beautiful world of professional wrestling. 

Smedley highlights his days as an aspiring young student of the late Boris “The Great” Malenko (a wrestling legend on par with the likes of Canada’s Hart Family), and his steady rise to heights as the Smoky Mountain Heavyweight Champion as well as  his travels with Ted Turner’s  World Championship Wrestling. 

Behind the scenes

Smedley’s is the type of book that speaks to people in different ways.  For the professional wrestling fan, it is a story that will soothe your appetite for behind-the-scenes goings-on in the world of wrestling. 

The non-wrestling fan will encounter the narrative of a flawed hero and how he achieved his dream of becoming an internationally recognized professional wrestler.

Readers also will discover time tempered life-applicable principles that will help dreamers keep focused and motivated to settle for nothing less than what will make them happy in life.

Smedley was approached by several fans of professional wrestling to write a book about his life.  “A lot of people love professional wrestling, and I’ve been fortunate to live a life that most people dream about,” he said. “I’ve traveled all over the world.  I’ve stayed in five-star hotels and eaten in five-star restaurants, and I’ve made a lot of money along the way.  Every time I meet fans. they always ask me to tell them a story of my travels on the road.  Finally, I got the idea that I need to write this stuff down instead of repeating myself all the time,” said Smedley when pressed why he finally decided to write his book. 

Smedley has shared the professional wrestling ring with the likes of former WCW/WWE talent like X-Pac, Scott Steiner, Bobby Eaton, Ricky Morton, Chris Candido, Jim Cornette, Terry Funk and many others.  However, Blaze’s most accomplished feat was winning the Smoky Mountain Championship against Jerry “The King” Lawler.

Without giving too much away, the chapters about Blaze’s escapades in England and Japan are well worth the sticker price. A flair for the risqué and the darker side of professional wrestling is what makes these steamy chapters intriguing and an instant page turner. 

Still a fan

Now, at 50, Smedley is still a dedicated wrestling fan.  He is semi-retired from performing in the ring, but still focuses his attention on training and teaching the next generation of aspiring professional wrestlers. 

It should be noted Smedley draws a line between professional wrestling and “sports entertainment.”  Blaze admitted he believes Vince McMahon (chairman of the WWE) is a genius by creating an empire built on the vast video collection of American wrestling regions, but what fans see on TV as sports entertainment pales in comparison to the live action of independent professional wrestling.  Independent promotions  have a shorter amount of time to engage an audience with their talent to tell a compelling story in the ring.  Having trained as an “old school” wrestler, Blaze instills in his students the work ethic and energy that was given to him by his mentor Boris Malenko. 

Smedley still attends local wrestling shows and often appears publicly to promote and sell his book, but his focus is mostly on inspiring and encouraging the next generation of young athletes to carry on the tradition and excellence of professional wrestling.

Presently, Smedley is working on a followup memoir to his current book, which is selling well on Amazon.com. 

JEREMY WHEELER is a freelance writer livingi n Ashland.