Thursday, March 5, 2015

Wrestlemania 31 MVP: The Invisible Man

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

So far this year, my attempts to blog more haven’t been that successful. Really need to get Kevin to let me appear on the My 1-2-3 Cents podcast (part of the Jittery Monkey network and available on iTunes) more so I can share the thoughts I have trouble getting motivated to write about.  But as we’re now on the Road to Wrestlemania, it’s about time I start writing about how I feel Wrestlemania 31 could go down as the least exciting Mania since 11.

Based on what has been announced so far for Wrestlemania 31 and on one match which hasn’t been confirmed but gets a weekly build on RAW and Smackdown, I think it’s safe to say the three top matches are the epitome of WWE’s lack of forward thinking and dismal storytelling. Not to mention that of the six competitors in these matches, only three are on TV on a weekly basis and after Wrestlemania, unless something changes, only two of the wrestlers will be wrestling on a regular basis. Let’s take a look at these three matches and let me explain why none of them interest me.

Not official
Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker: While this match hasn’t officially been announced, if it doesn’t happen, WWE has wasted a lot of airtime for nothing. While the idea of The Undertaker being challenged by Bray and actually passing the torch, or supernatural powers, to the next generation may look good on paper, the intrigue of this match is hampered by Undertaker’s lost to Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XXX.  

Without “The Streak,” what interest is there in The Undertaker’s once a year appearance? Even with “The Streak,” I had grown tired of Taker’s yearly Wrestlemania match since Wrestlemania 25. Each match followed the same formula and held so little suspense that I wasn’t even paying attention to the match with Brock Lesnar when Lesnar pinned Taker.

Now that Taker has a 1 in the loss column, what does it matter if he wins again at Wrestlemania? If Bray were to beat Taker, would it tarnish “The Streak” even more to have two losses in consecutive years? Given how Taker looked last year, and how Bray has been saying Taker has one foot in the grave already, would it really be that big of an accomplishment to beat The Undertaker? Or if Bray loses, will it do more harm to Bray in the long run that he wasn’t able to beat a geriatric, half dead Phenom?  Hindsight being 20/20, this match either should have happened last year with Bray ending the streak and becoming the new Lord of Darkness, or Taker should have beat Brock. As it stands now, instead of being a meaningful match, this is just another not even part-time wrestler getting a match at Wrestlemania due to his legacy.  I see this as a no win situation for either wrestler and will do little to build for the future of WWE.

Sting vs. Triple H: Long time readers know I wasn’t impressed with the way Sting arrived in WWE. If the storyline for this match is the best that WWE Creative could come up with then it’s time to get a whole new creative team. I have no problem with Sting being in WWE. I have no problem with Sting wrestling at Wrestlemania. In all honesty, seeing Sting at Wrestlemania is the biggest reason I’d be interested in going to Wrestlemania 31. But seeing Sting battle Triple H over the death of WCW is not something I care to see in 2015.  If Sting is so upset over WWE buying WCW why did he wait 14 years to show up?  After all the power plays done by Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H over the past 14 years, why did Sting decide November 2014 to be the time to stand up to The Authority?  These are questions that would be nice to get answers to but since Sting has only showed up three times so far and hasn’t uttered as much as a Stinger yell, I still don’t know why Sting is in WWE.

Kevin and I have discussed Sting being in WWE before and I also have the same comment. Having Sting’s first match at Wrestlemania is a no win situation. Well, actually that was when the general consensus was Sting would be facing The Undertaker. The only advantage I can see of having Sting face Hunter is if Sting wins he’s not breaking “The Streak” or beating a younger talent who could use the win. If Sting loses, then Sting becomes just another WCW reject in the eyes of WWE fans as someone who wasn’t good enough to be in WWE.  Seriously though, 14 years after the demise of WCW and NOW Sting shows up?

Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns: I don’t know if I even need to write anything about this one. Reigns has been put into a position he’s not ready for and if he fails it’s not his fault. Hopefully I’m wrong and Reigns will be a credible main eventer. After only two and a half years in WWE, I believe Reigns will be the fastest person to win the WWE title after only Brock Lesnar. The difference is Brock has the aura about him that screams badass. Reigns does not exude that persona.

I’ll admit I’m also one of the people who felt a Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan match made more sense from a storytelling perspective and would have made for a more compelling David vs. Goliath match. 

While I accept someone in WWE apparently doesn’t view Daniel Bryan in the same regards as the fans, I still question the judgment to push Roman Reigns to the top so quickly. Sadly, the only interest I have in this match is to see how the fans react. Given the overall snarkiness of the typical Wrestlemania crowd, I can see this being a rehash of the Goldberg/Lesnar match from Wrestlemania XX. 

These are the top three matches for Wrestlemania 31. Why WWE feels the need to bring in part time wrestlers to fill out the major spots in the show baffles me. Not to mention that most of the rest of the roster is being put into one of two matches. The “name” talent is going into the Not-MITB Ladder match and the “not taken seriously” talent is going into the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. What happens in 3-4 years when WWE runs out of part time talent to bring back? Who is going to be the selling point for Wrestlemania then? This is a serious question and one I would hope WWE would answer before it gets to that point.

Does the use of part timers make you more or less interested in Wrestlemania? Share your thoughts on the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page, or tweet us @my123cents.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Serious Thoughts on Jon Stewart in WWE

Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Listen to the Podcast

When the angle with Jon Stewart of the Daily Show and Seth Rollins started a few weeks ago, I rolled my eyes.  In fact, in my latest podcast on the Jittery Monkey Podcasting Network I dismissed the idea.  But after watching Raw this week, I don't mind the storyline.  In fact, I thought WWE, Rollins and Stewart pulled it off pretty well.

Photo courtesy: WWE

I'm still not sure that Rollins is the right guy for this role, at least with how the storyline started off.  I would have never pegged Mr. Money in the Bank as the type who would want to be a fake cable TV news anchor.  He's one of the best in-ring technicians on the WWE roster as well as one of the company's fastest rising stars.  I'm not convinced he NEEDS this angle.  But I know with the recent photo "scandal" the angle has provided a distraction from the "controversy".  

With that being said, I enjoyed what I saw Monday night (actually Wednesday afternoon on DVR). Until then, I felt like Stewart was belittling Rollins and wrestling/WWE in general with the way he spoke on the Daily Show.  There was a tone I didn't like.  Of course this was in Stewart's environment which is a comedy show.  But on Raw, I saw a different side of Stewart.  He seemed like a true wrestling fan, remembering greats like Bruno Sammartino, Undertaker and Mick Foley.  

Photo courtesy: WWE
Stewart was great (I get that he's a trained professional), but his appearance was much better than most celebrity spots I've seen.  He admitted his inadequacies to the much younger, stronger and athletic Rollins.  He put over his foe, something that many times gets overlooked in these situations.  Stewart sold the fear of being pummeled by Rollins and then performed a kick to the balls that made victims of bullies cheer out loud.

I still don't want to see Stewart wrestle as I'm having a Jay Leno flashback.  In reality, I don't think he's going to though. But I also don't see him and Randy Orton working together either as it seems inevitable that the Viper will soon turn on the Authority and feud with Rollins.  I'm not sure if the issue between Rollins and Stewart is now over or if there's more to come.  

Bottom line to all of this is I understand why WWE brings in celebrities, especially around Wrestlemania.  These storylines work much better when the celebrity is a fan of the business and understands how things work.  In My 1-2-3 Cents, Jon Stewart has accomplished that.  Kudos to him. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Going Into March Like a Lion

Still looking...
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

It's the start of a new month and another round of accountability from me.  I vowed to get into better shape in 2015 and I've been recording my progress through daily #AccountabilityTweets on Twitter (@kevinhunsperger) and monthly right here.  I started my journey this year with the WWE Power Series Triple H Workout.  It's a four week program.  You can look back on my work with it here.

Half marathon in February
I've been running a lot too.  On Valentine's Day I completed my second half marathon and in a pretty decent time for me.  I've also joined a gym.  I've had memberships to facilities in the past and the membership card collects dust after a few months.  I'm trying hard not to fall into that syndrome again.  It's funny because on the first day at The Hub, I was approached by someone who reads this blog.  He asked how things were going and encouraged me by saying he'd seen a bit of improvement.

Because I'm focusing on my core, specifically my abs, I've found some great and intense workouts on YouTube from Brandon Carter.  They're about 15 minutes long, but I can feel the burn.  The other big area I'm still struggling but improving with is eating.  I'm doing a pretty good job through the week of cutting out sweets like cookies, candy and cereal.  So far I have not caved and had any of the Girl Scout cookies that are currently mocking me from our pantry.

From January-March

I'm posting my progress (or setbacks) for the world to see to hopefully encourage some folks to get up and start doing the same thing.  I'm also updating you all because it's become the ultimate form of accountability.  If you haven't started yet, do it today.  Let's take this journey together.  It doesn't have to be a Monday or the start of a new year or month or even week.  When you finish reading this (and the other fine blogs available here) head out and do something.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Park your car an extra row away from the front door at work.  Swap out one soda for a bottle of water each day.  Making small, gradual changes will help you adopt a healthier lifestyle and not conform to a fad diet. Good luck!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Seussing Up the Macho Man

Photo courtesy:
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Occasionally I try to be creative here on the blog.  I've written a couple of posts inspired by the late, great Dr. Seuss on his birthday; including Batista Hears a Boo and The Rock He Is. This year is no exception, but instead of basing the post off of an actual story by Seuss, I'm winging it. Here's a tribute to one of the all time greats, 2015 Hall of Fame inductee, "Macho Man" Randy Savage.

He carried a ball and a bat to that he'd swing...
But found his success in the pro wrestling ring.
Bulging with muscles and stars on his tights, 
his finishing elbow took him to new heights
Randy was macho, a champ and a royal.
Despite time with Sherri to Liz he was loyal.
He beat up on Hogan, on Brutus and Flair. 
Randy was so savage he once beat a bear.
The Dragon did slay him at Wrestlemania Three, 
But a year later he went on a spree
of beating the Hammer, the Gang and Butch Reed
along with DiBiase and many agreed...
Savage was awesome and so hard to stop--
No doubt about it, the cream of the crop.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Quick Thoughts on Fastlane

Bryan vs. Reigns
Photo courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
My 1-2-3 Cents the Podcast

As the title says, these are some quick thoughts on the final PPV stop on the Road to Wrestlemania.  I've never been a big fan of there being an event between The Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania, but I didn't think Fastllane was horrible by any means.  I do worry about the number of rematches next month though.  Without a world heavyweight title match, this show held up and the undercard champs and challengers shined.

Seth Rollins, Big Show & Kane beat Dolph Zigger, Ryback & Erick Rowan

The only thing about this match that surprised me is that Dolph Ziggler took the pin.  I thought it would be Rowan.  I also thought Rollins would get the victory for his team and not Kane.  Randy Orton is back, and while I'm not a huge fan I would rather see Rollins vs. Orton at Mania than Jon Stewart.  

Goldust pinned Stardust

I'd hoped they would save this match for Wrestlemania 31.  I'm going to assume this story continues with a grudge match.  I've gone back and forth on the Stardust character, but after last night, I'm on board.  The promo he cut on Dusty Rhodes and the beating he delivered to big brother convinced me.  But I've always been a big fan of Goldust.

New champs!
Courtesy: WWE
Masters of the Universe defeated The Usos

This is great news.  I'm a big fan of both Cesaro and Tyson Kidd.   I just hope WWE is ready to get behind the tag team division again.  I am not holding my breath though...

Sting challenged Triple H to a match at Wrestlemania

I see two benefits to this.  One: Sting will finally have a Wrestlemania (WWE) match.  Two: Fans will FINALLY stop talking about Sting vs. Undertaker.  This should be a good contest, although I'm a bit cynical over the "Sting tried to put us out of business" gimmick.  It's been nearly 14 years....

Nikki Bella defended the Divas title against Paige

I'm not going to lie, I'd hoped that Paige would win this battle and go into a feud with Charlotte (I know she's gotta be called up soon, right?)  But I'll admit Nikki has improved her in ring game.  

Bad News Barrett defeated Dean Ambrose by disqualification

I love Dean Ambrose.  I am really hoping this story continues on to Wrestlemania and the two don't wrestle again until then.  Since Ambrose stole the belt, perhaps a ladder match is in store for these two.  It'll give the Intercontinental title some importance.

Calling out the Undertaker
Photo courtesy: WWE

Bray Wyatt called out The Undertaker

This is an interesting one in my opinion.  I'm not sure how WWE will handle 'Taker now that The Streak is over.  I'm assuming this is going to happen at Wrestlemania.  A win for Wyatt would be quite a feather in his cap.  I am excited about this matchup.

Rusev made John Cena submit

Rusev is someone who has really impressed me as well.  I've enjoyed his character development and the push WWE has given him. I believe he shined in this high profile opportunity. He cheated to win, something that was well within his character as a heel.  I also believe we're headed for another rematch at Wrestlemania (maybe a submission match) and Cena as the victor. 

Roman Reigns beat Daniel Bryan

I think the IWC imploded as a result of this match.  I'm glad WWE made a move and is going forward with a one-on-one contest for Wrestlemania (at least as of now).  They have five weeks to build this matchup, I think it can be accomplished and fans need to just give this time to simmer and let's see where we end up after the show goes off the air on March 29. I'm curious to what's next for Bryan.  Hopefully more than a spot in the Andre the Giant battle royal (assuming they do it again) 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cue The People's Court Theme Here...

King Mabel
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Listen to the My 1-2-3 Cents Podcast here

It's been a week of lawsuits for the WWE, and before I go any further, I have no legal expertise.  I'm writing this to share my opinion (or My 1-2-3 Cents).  I figure most of you know that, but I don't want there to be any confusion.

The widow of Nelson Frazier, who fans know as Viscera, Big Daddy V and King Mabel has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the WWE.  Frazier died of a heart attack in February 2014.  He was only 43 years old.  Cassandra Frazier's suit alleges her husband's heart attack was caused by "WWE's willful, wanton, reckless and grossly negligent" practices.

Viscera vs. Batista
Courtesy: WWE
I mean no disrespect to the Frazier family, but Nelson weighed about 500 pounds.  He last wrestled for WWE in 2008, which was six years BEFORE his death.  He worked for various companies after his departure.  I think those few sentences summarize my problem with this lawsuit.  I know in the years since Eddie Guerrero's death in 2005, WWE has implemented and enforced a pretty strict wellness policy that goes beyond just testing for illegal drug use.  

Billy Jack Haynes gets busted open

Former WWE Superstar Billy Jack Haynes filed a lawsuit in November, blaming the company for his current health problems.  Haynes has depression, early signs of dementia, Hepatitis C and various liver and kidney troubles.  Haynes worked for WWE for two years in the late 80's.  He too had wrestled years before and after WWE.  But because the WWE is "the last company standing" there's no one else to blame (or pay up). I'm not saying Haynes never suffered the injuries.  He says he had 15 concussions in his career. Wrestling was less protective of its competitors in that era.  But three decades later, why is WWE to blame?
Vito in action (and a dress)
Courtesy: WWE
Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton have singled out the WWE as well.  In January the two sued for concussions they've suffered.  Vito is a veteran of the ring, having wrestled in WCW and ECW prior to the buyouts of both companies in 2001.  He too has worked since leaving WWE in 2007. Singleton never made it beyond WWE's development stage. 

Dr. Amann
Courtesy: WWE
WWE's physician Dr. Chris Amman is suing both CM Punk and Colt Cabana over comments made by Punk during the Art of Wrestling Podcast.  Punk claims he had a baseball size lump on his back and Dr. Amman failed to treat or diagnosis the problem for months.  Punk said another doctor told him it was a life threatening infection.  Amman is asking for a million dollars in damages.  Again, not having any legal background I don't know if the suit has any merit, but the WWE has come back swinging, releasing video of Punk wrestling and no obvious signs of a lump on his back.  

WWE's defense
Time will tell where all of these suits end up.  Anyone has the right to sue, but I don't know what kind of merit the concussion and wrong death suits have because of the wrestlers' experiences outside of WWE.  Wrestling is brutal.  People get hurt and some even die in the ring.  Proceed with caution.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day

Malia Grace: Fighter
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for unique "holidays" online to share on our morning newscast. I remember seeing February 18 as "International Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day."  Regular readers here know that I'm in the midst of a health kick so I didn't click the link for the details of this sweet sounding day.  Honestly, I didn't want (or really need) a temptation to eat ice cream anytime. 

Then on the afternoon of February 18 I saw a post on Facebook about WHY the day is devoted to eating ice cream for breakfast.  It's all in honor of a little girl named Malia Grace.  She was born February 18, 2001, just a few months shy of my middle son's birthday.  Sadly, in 2010 Malia died after a long battle with cancer.  As a way of honoring the creative and energetic girl, friends and family members posted a few pictures of themselves eating ice cream at the start of their day. The idea quickly went viral.

Eating ice cream for breakfast
Eighty-three countries now participate in the holiday, not just to honor Malia, but all children who have or are battling cancer.  Life's too short to save dessert for the end of the day. After I read the article about the reasoning, I quickly decided I wanted to participate, even if it was a day late.  So I hid the last drumstick in our freezer behind a bag of homemade soup so my kids wouldn't find it.  When I went into work the next morning, instead of heating up my usual scrambled egg or oatmeal, I happily indulged and enjoyed the caramel and chocolate goodness I'd safely tucked away in my lunch box.  As I ate the treat, I thought about why I was doing it and was reminded how lucky my wife and I are to have three healthy children.

RIP Malia
Malia's family has a Facebook page and a website to keep their young daughter's memory alive.  People have been sharing their photos and thoughts for the last couple of years. It's a new tradition I'll gladly participate in every February 18.  Hopefully after reading this and understanding the meaning of the day, you too will have a scoop (or two) in honor of young ones fighting a horrible disease.  If you do participate, upload a pic and use #IceCreamForBreakfast and #KidsGetCancerToo