“I know Les Thatcher well and he is a friend. I have much respect for “Lester” as he is a great student of the game, a wonderful teacher of fundamental wrestling skills, and a man I had fun broadcasting with during the Smoky Mountain Wrestling days. Plus, Les is one heck of a story teller which I love.”
Percy Pringle III (Paul Bearer/WWE), Owner of Gulf South Wrestling
“I’ve known Les Thatcher for many years, both professionally and personally. I have been in the industry for over 30-years and I have never walked away from a conversation with him, whether it was for 30-seconds or 30-minutes, without learning something. When we had the opportunity to have Les as a guest speaker at our training center, we jumped at the chance; because I knew it could very well be the “tipping point” for our little company. Indeed it was. We are looking forward to a full blown 3-day seminar in the future!”
Mike Sanders (WCW, WWE, TNA):
“The last year of my life in Heartland was a good experience with Les. I got to learn how to book, how to write. I got to wrestle…For the last year, I had a lot of opportunity to train with guys like Benoit and Malenko in the Heartland Wrestling Association. Guys like Raven came up. Tommy Dreamer. Meng. Dave Taylor. You got a feel for what everybody did.”
“When WWF came along, I went to Cincinnati and I did some work up there and some booking for Les Thatcher. It’s a really good organization up there, had a lot of good guys. We busted our asses but we never really got the credit because they [WWE] never gave it a chance.”
Jim Ross, in the Ross Report, July 19, 2002
“Les Thatcher has done a wonderful job of working with us in Cincinnati. I hope all the men and women who have worked with and for Les realize just how fortunate they are to have worked with the veteran. Les loves our business and is a superb mentor for these kids, and we do and always will value our relationship with him. Les is a friend and will remain so.”
The Wrestling Tribune, January 22, 2002
“The “20/20” piece on wrestling schools aired recently, as we said in the last issue, and focused primarily on the Cincinnati school of Les Thatcher. It was a very good piece. It was amazing, but every single Thatcher student they showed looked really well trained, which is a tribute to Thatcher. They showed a 6 foot 1, 260 pound called Craig Zellner who looked like he has all the tools to make it in the business, and a smaller guy from England called Nigel McGuiness who was also real good. They showed them doing interviews and both handled themselves real well. They also showed scenes from the WCW Power Plant and focused on Dean Roll (aka Shark Boy), who originally was trained by Thatcher.
Shawn Patrick, Senior Referee of NWA East, January 18, 2002
“I would like to compliment you on the training your students receive. I had the pleasure or working with several of your students in the past few days. I was impressed by the maturity level displayed by this group vs. years in the business. Not only did they perform well in respective matches, but they took the time to help me reset the ring, boards, and canvas at a recent TV taping they were involved in. I am happy to know that someone is bringing people into the business with the correct mindset and not just promising pie in the sky. If you need an endorsement for your students from a(n) outsider, I would be happy to recommend them.”
Jim Knippenberg, Cincinnati Enquirer, January 13, 2000
“Like the saying goes, teach ’em to grunt and slam bodies loudly enough and the world will beat down your door. Witness Les Thatcher, owner of Main Event Pro Wrestling Camp, the Evendale school of hard knocks that teaches aspiring wrestlers how to take a hit without getting permanently creamed. Last year, Thatcher was all over national TV: Banks Tarver, producer of MTV’s Real Life was here several times for a 90-minute show that ran in August. ABC’s 20/20 Downtown spent three days there in September for a mid-December segment. Now this: MSNBC producer Alexis Claiborn arrived Tuesday and remains through today, working on a “how to become a pro wrestler” feature. Focus is on workouts, training exercises and the moves a pro needs to learn. Thatcher says Claiborn will return January 22 to shoot trainee B.J. Whitmer in his first match. It set to air in late February or early March, Thatcher says.
Dave Meltzer, The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, December 27, 1999
“The long awaited 20/20 piece on training to become a wrestler aired on 12/16. It was really good as well as being pretty accurate, which is something of a rarity for school for mainstream media pieces. It focused largely on Les Thatcher’s training school in Cincinnati and the Power Plant. The piece was accurate in that they noted pro wrestling was choreographed with predetermined endings, but also showed just how hard it is train to become a top pro wrestler. They showed one sequence of two trainees in the ring while Thatcher was at ringside calling one high spot after another for them to do. Thatcher’s students aren’t even full-time pros are more solid in the ring than a lot of wrestlers in the big three. The main people in the piece were Dean Roll, or Shark Boy, who Thatcher actually trained before going to the power plant, and since the piece was filmed, Roll was let go by WCW; Nigel McGuiness, who came all the way from England to train with Thatcher who displayed a world class attitude and enthusiasm but was undersized, and Craig Zellner, a former New Mexico football player at 6’1″ 255, who can do back flips and land on his feet and who is Thatcher’s current top student and who he used as an example of someone who is going to make it. They showed both men cutting interviews (McGuiness was better than many current pros already) and wrestling on a small-time show.”
Wade Keller, Pro Wrestling Torch, August 21, 1999
“MTV’s “WWF Week” included an excellent 90 minutes documentary on professional wrestling. It included behind the scenes footage of live on the road for Triple H and Chyna, plus showed what life is like now for the virtually penniless Tony Atlas as he wrestles in the Northeast, and follows a couple of wrestlers through Les Thatcher’s training camp. It ranks with “Wrestling with Shadows” on the list of the best pro wrestling documentaries ever.”
Jim Knippenberg, Cincinnati Enquirer, August 3, 1999
“Merciful heavens, but aren’t things a’popping in Evendale? Referring here to Les Thatcher’s main Event pro Wrestling Camp, a school of really hard knocks that trains young wrestlers. Consider…
- Back in March, the school caught the eye of MTV’s Banks Tarver, producer of the True Life series. He has led a film crew here three times to follow student Rory fox of Watkins, Iowa, through training and his first match. Tarver wrapped up shooting last week and has an air date of August 14, times to be announced.
- At the same shooting: Tarver also a piece on Dean Roll, who has been wrestling as Shark Boy since 1996. Tarver, working the “dreams come true angle,” shot Roll’s going away party before his move this week to Atlanta where he enters the big time: World Championship Wrestling. “He’ll train there until he’s ready for Nitro and pay-per-view,” Thatcher says.
- Thatcher student Craig Zellner was just snatched up by Brady Westwater of Hollywood’s Westwater/Weiss Productions to co-star in The Dalton Brothers, a feature movie about three brothers entering pro wrestling. He plays one of the brothers.”
Dave Meltzer, Wrestling Observer Newsletter, August 2, 1999
“Dean Roll who does indies in Ohio and the area as Shark Boy, who is something of a cult favorite of a lot of major league pro wrestlers particularly in the WWF, signed a developmental deal with WCW, which is scouring the country trying to bring junior heavyweights into the Power Plant (Shark Boy was trained at Les Thatcher’s Main Event Pro Wrestling Camp, and the HWA Cruiserweight Champion)”
Ryan Sanders, Daily Wrestling Digest, July 29, 1999
“The ‘fan’ who accepted Ivory’s challenge this past week on RAW (7/26/99) was independent valet Hellena Heavenly. Hellena currently works for the Heartland Wrestling Association in southern Ohio. She first caught the eye of WWF bookers at the Brian Pillman Memorial show, and the HWA sent in some pictures of the young valet. Titan was impressed, and asked her to do the spot this past Monday. Heavenly is currently training to be a wrestler, although she is still said to be several months away from a debut in front of people. She has been working as a valet for several months, accompanying Astin Augustus Ambrose, Esq. there are currently no plans for her to return to WWF TV.”
Jim Knippenberg, Cincinnati Enquirer, May 13, 1999
“Well, would you look at whose back in town – it’s MTV producer Banks Tarver (True Life), shooting footage for his wrestling documentary. That’s the one, recall, he’s shooting at Evendale’s Main Event Pro Wrestling Center, a school of hard knocks where young wrestlers learn how it’s done. Tarver was there in March, shooting Matt Taglia, 24-year-old trainee learning the ropes. Taglia dropped out of the school, so Tarver is shifting his focus to Steve Moss, who wrestles under the name Rapid Delivery Rory Fox.
Tarver will shoot at the school today, then head to Hamilton’s National Guard Armory Saturday to shoot Moss’ match. Main Event director Les Thatcher expects Tarver back for one more session but isn’t sure yet. The show will air in the fall.”
“Look for it next summer, or early fall.” That from Les Thatcher, owner of Evendale’s Main Event Pro Wrestling Center, a facility that trains young wrestlers for a life in the ring. What he’s telling us to look for is a TV show. Seem Banks Tarver, producer of MTV’s True Life series, spent three days there in March, shooting 24 year old Matt Taglia, a 200 pound trainee from Chicago – falls, slams, drills, the stuff you gotta do before you can get in the ring. Tarver and crew will be back twice more for footage, but no dates are set. He decided to film at Main Event (it has trainees from 12 states and three countries) because of the school’s reputation in the industry.”
James E. Cornette, WWF Raw Magazine, September 1998
“A short trip up the road to the Queen City of Cincinnati brings us into the Heartland Wrestling Association country. HWA head honcho Les Thatcher, a 42 year veteran of the sport, presents cards as well as operates a great training center.”