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Ohio Valley Wrestling returns to the Kentucky Derby Festival

Ohio Valley Wrestling's Run for the Ropes in 2022.
Ohio Valley Wrestling's Run for the Ropes in 2022.

You’ve heard about the Run for the Roses, but how about the Run for the Ropes? Ohio Valley Wrestling took to the ring Friday night to delight fans at Waterfront Park ahead of the Great Balloon Glow

The free event attracted fans old and new. OVW has been around for nearly 30 years, and some pretty big names in wrestling have passed through. 

John Cena, Dave Bautista, Brock Lesnar, guys like that have come through OVW and become big stars, movie stars even now,” OVW announcer, “Voice of the Valley,” Eric Cornish said. 

The event included a half-dozen matches, featuring a broad range of talent. Among them, was a pugnacious 22-year-old wrestler with blond hair, a black and pink two-piece outfit, and fishnets. Her name is Hollyhood Haley J, and she’s what’s called a heel, a kind of villain in the wrestling world.    

“Me, I’m from the skreets, I’m the boujhettoist baddy around. Everyone loves me or they hate me. I don’t know. I don’t care,” she said before her match. 

Haley J learned to love wrestling from her mom, another OVW wrestler named Amazing Maria. Maria started wrestling when Haley J was just 8 years old. 

“I’ve seen her struggles coming up and everything, so I wasn't sure this was something I wanted to do but… the feeling I get walking through the curtain, it’s like doing a drug, you can’t get nothing like that,” she said. 

We parted ways before Haley J’s match against the Unstoppable Danger Leila Grey. 

The match was brutal. There was kicking and throwing, choking, twists, turns, reversals. It’s practically modern Shakespeare. Haley J got the crowd fired up during her match. Men, women and kids all screamed her name.

But in the end it was Leila Grey standing on the ropes holding the championship belt.  Haley J took the loss pretty hard in a post-match interview, denying her loss. 

“You didn’t see that!” she said. “You’re lying!”

Haley wasn’t the only one who felt she was robbed. 

“Haley… She deserved to win,” said 9-year-old Terrin.  She too was a little sore over the loss. 

“She shoulda beaten her up and kept doing it, and when she had her down to the headlock she should have just let it go,” she said. 

Terrin’s mom Latonya says her daughter might be the next generation of Ohio Valley Wrestling. 

Ohio Valley Wrestling holds matches weekly on TV and in-person on Thursday nights at the Davis Arena on Shepherdsville Road. 


Ryan Van Velzer is the Kentucky Public Radio Managing Editor. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.

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