It can sometimes be difficult to start an article concerning the history of something. But, how about this? Once upon a time… no, that’s too much of a fairy tale beginning.
I know, how about, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away? That has a certain ring to it. Maybe someone will think to use it to begin a movie, or even better a franchise of movies. But that doesn’t really fit us either.
Perhaps this is better… In the beginning, God created the heavens… ducks out of the way of a lightning strike! Alright, fine I’ll just start with a video.
Yes, a video. I’m starting with a video because the history of Combat Hooligans can be traced back to a Youtube video that first attracted attention back in 2006.
Here, in all of its glory, is that Youtube video:
How does a three minute and thirty second clip of the Iron Sheik ranting and raving about humbling B. Brian Blair lead to the creation of a website? I’m getting to that, but you’re going to have to stop interrupting me to ask questions.
The video didn’t lead to the website specifically. The website is the story of a few people, but mainly it is the story of three. Those three would be Art Shimko, Casey Trowbridge and Euan Taylor. Hey, care to take a guess as to which one of the three is from Scotland?
Now we’ve got one angry Iron Sheik video, three guys and a website. This is starting to sound like one of those jokes about three guys walking into a bar… yeah, one of them should have seen it.
But wait, there’s more! Yeah, you’re getting your money’s worth for reading this article. Did I happen to mention the podcast? Of course I didn’t mention it because we hadn’t gotten to that point yet, but we’re here now. See, there was this podcast, and it was called the Ric and Steve…er…Karl Show. The show was done weekly and dealt with whatever was happening in Pro Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts. Well, as it happened, all three of us were listeners to that podcast. So one fateful day on the show, they played drops from that Iron Sheik video and asked for listeners to email the show with a Sheiky to English translation of what the hell he was talking about in that clip.
This led Casey to email the show. The next week, they read his email, laughed and a star was born. At around that same time, Euan Taylor started to email the show regularly with something that would eventually become known as Wandering Euan’s Eutube Extravaganza. Why Wandering Euan and why Eutube? Listen, I’m not the biographer here. Oh, I am? Fine, Wandering Euan is the result of one of the podcast hosts, Ric Gillespie, not being able to remember where Euan was from. Even if he could remember, he couldn’t find it on a map. Eutube, well that was because Euan’s name started with Eu, and Ric, who got the nickname Dic Lesbian based on Casey’s interpretation of how Iron Sheik might pronounce his name, liked that sort of thing. Before you ask, we’re pretty sure that Ric’s not gay. Okay fine, we’re 50-50 that he’s not gay. All right, all right, we think there’s a small chance he might be straight. Ric will come back into the picture later… he’s a pest that way.
So Euan and Casey were becoming frequent contributers to the Ric and Steve…er…Karl Show and Art had also emailed the show off and on. But the key thing about Art was that he had a blog. If you thought that the Ric and Steve…er…Karl Show was an odd name for a podcast, get a load of the name of Art’s blog. It was called… Wait! Before I tell you what it was called, I suggest you get a beverage or something, maybe talk to family and friends because you might be here awhile. Okay, ready? Good, because Art’s blog was the Schlock ‘N’ Hyperbole Wrestling After Party something something something darkside. Okay, I added the something something something darkside part but the rest is all true. There might have been even more words, but really Schlock ‘N’ Hyperbole Wrestling After Party is enough.
Now you have three people emailing one podcast and one of them had a blog where he was writing about Wrestling, MMA, Music and adding new words to the blog name on a weekly basis. How did we connect? Well, there used to be a site called MySpace. What’s that, you say? There’s still a website called MySpace ? Okay then, there used to be a version of MySpace that didn’t suck and that people actually visited. It really didn’t take a lot of effort to find one another once we found Ric Gillespie and Karl Stern.
This was the last recorded time that anything good came from finding Ric Gillespie.
So there we were, emailing the show, chatting on MySpace and telling each other how much we liked the work of the others. The emails went on for a few months and every now and again Ric and Steve…er…Karl would comment that Casey in particular needed a website.
So in August 2006, Casey did what Art was already doing because he’s original that way… and he started a blog. His blog was named the Old Country Corner because that was the name of his email segment on the Ric and Steve…er…Karl Show. As long as the name of Art’s blog was, that’s how poorly planned out Casey’s blog was at first. He wrote about everything… and I do mean everything. It was spastic, and if you don’t believe me, you can find it right here . It wasn’t long though before he asked Euan to come and bring his Wandering Euan’s Eutube Extravaganza into the fold. Then Art joined up, then Ric Gillespie got involved, and then a few others as well.
Eventually, that site was pared down from writing about everything to covering MMA and Pro Wrestling. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Hey, Art was already doing that. They should’ve just merged the two sites.” Of course we should have merged the two sites. That’s the obvious thing to do. It was so obvious that it took several months of duplicate work and Ric Gillespie suggesting the idea before it became a reality. Thus in March of 2007, the Old Country Corner and Schlock ‘N’ Hyperbole thingy words+lettters+symbols+numbers became the Old Country Times. See, it was like a newspaper, but it was from the Iron Sheik’s old country, and if you saw that Youtube video, you know what happens in the old country.
Still, there was a problem. We wanted to get serious and be seen as a little bit more legit. This meant, for starters, that we needed a domain name and nobody was all that enthusiastic about the Old Country Times. So after kicking around some ultimately forgettable ideas, inspiration struck. The name Combat Hooligans sprung from two things. The combat part came from our mutual love of all things combat sports related. As for Hooligans, that is a tribute to Euan. Euan plays the role of a stereotypical Scottish hooligan very well, what with all of the drinking, swearing, and drunken swearing he does.
We launched the site on July 23, 2007. It wasn’t long before we were starting to be taken more seriously by the industries we were writing about. We started reaching out to promotions offering to publish their press releases, and a few of them would allow us to give away tickets to their shows, merchandise or other stuff. We even got on Showtime’s mailing list and started to get invited to conference calls for their MMA and boxing shows. We hadn’t really covered boxing up to that point, but we started.
Let that be a lesson to all of you bloggers out there. People take you seriously when you have a real domain name, and companies are always happy to put your name on the list of people to whom they send out press releases.
The written content of the site became more serious and straight forward – more newsy. The wackiness didn’t go away entirely though, it just got converted to audio.
It seemed only logical that since we all met through a podcast, we should do one of our own. The podcast proceeded the launch of Combat Hooligans and well… the early shows were kind of rough. Proof of this can be demonstrated by the fact that Euan and Casey once spent 90 minutes trying to create a 30 second promo spot. The audio quality wasn’t the best and it took us a while to go from straight commentary to offensive anarchy.
Eventually we fell in to a groove. We moved the site from Blogger to WordPress in November 2007, brought on a few more people to write articles and join the podcast. We were plugging away. We peaked in the Alexa rankings in August 2008 during the coverage of the summer Olympics as we cracked the top 75,000 websites. There was even a side project called Darkside of the Hooligans which we were going to use to write about the other things that we were doing that went beyond combat sports.
We had some high points along the way. Art Shimko got to meet Chuck Norris because of the work we did on the site. Casey got some cool TapouT gear for work we did covering WEC 30 way back when, and Euan got drunk and fell asleep during a podcast. Oh, and Art also had his email address published on the MySpace of future WWE hall-of-famer Jake the Snake Roberts because he posted a press relese from a company that said Jake was going to appear at their show, which Jake disputed. Nevermind the fact that Art wasn’t the only person who posted this release. I guess his name was pulled out of a hat by the woman who was Jake’s assistant… and God only knows what she assisted him in doing, but regardless, he won the prize. Google Jake Roberts and Millennium Wrestling Federation and there’s a decent chance that you’ll find a link to an article written on the subject by the company’s promoter. Ironically, that promoter, Dan Mirade, is the same guy interviewing Sheiky in that clip. I feel like I should be hearing Elton John singing the Circle of Life right now.
Well, that was kind of the last straw for Art because it wasn’t too long after that he decided to leave the site. At that point, we felt that it really wasn’t Combat Hooligans anymore. At that same time, Casey wanted to take the site in another direction. First, he wanted to run advertisements on it, and that meant it needed to be self-hosted. Second, he was tired of pro wrestling and only wanted to cover MMA. Thus, Combat Hooligans was shut down at the end of 2008 and a new site, MMA Blitz, was born in 2009. With the exception of Art, the site had a lot of the same people working on it, but it never went anywhere and didn’t last the year. After that, there was another attempt at reviving the Darkside of the Hooligans concept under the name Random Catastrophe, but that also fizzled out in 2010. The podcast, however, continued for awhile after that.
We all stayed in touch and swore that if the right opportunity came along, we’d love to work together on another internet project. Here it is 2014, and we’re back. We’re enthusiastic in what we’re doing, have no grand plans to do anything besides have fun, and with the launch of UFC Fight Pass and the WWE Network, the timing just seemed right.
So that’s our story. There’s a few people that didn’t get a direct mention but their contributions have not been forgotten by us. Our buddy Mark Danger didn’t get a mention for two reasons. One, the courts won’t allow us to talk about him, and two, explaining who Danger is would take a year’s worth of articles.
Regardless, after all this time, here we are – Art, Casey and Euan back together again, and we couldn’t be more excited by the project. We’re reunited as the Combat Hooligans because that just feels right, even though the types of things that you’ll find on this site go well beyond combat sports. As time passes, you may see some more familiar faces show up and hopefully some new ones as well. But the heart of the site has always been those three guys, and now we’re back and hopefully, better than ever.