Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Benefits of Peer Pressure

Run with the Eagles half marathon
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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A few years ago I decided that my midlife crisis should be about running.  At that point I was doing 5Ks and a little bit of extra running in between those races. I added the Warrior Dash to my bucket list and that was followed by a half marathon.  I've now done two of each and am eyeing an upcoming marathon in October.  It's the Shawnee Marathon in Harrisburg, Illinois and my goal is to complete the race and live to tell about it.

Me, Jim and Justin after a run
As my running journey started I met others along the way in my same age group, including a friend I'd made years earlier when I moved to southern Illinois.  When I first met Jim Olsen he was about twice the size he is today.  Jim started eating right and running and lost a lot of weight.  I'm sorry I don't know the total, but the important thing is he did it and he's continuing to do it.  I'm proud of what he's accomplished.

2015 River to River Relay 


Jim recently announced his plans to run 1,000 miles this year.  My goal is set at 700 for 2015.  I did 600 in '14 and 500 in '13.  But because of his example, I've decided to push myself to hit that 1000 mile mark this year too. I hope by putting this new goal in writing it'll help me stay accountable. I finished 600 miles for 2014 on New Year's eve morning.  I know I can do it, but I'll welcome any support along the way.  Thanks for reading and supporting all my crazy endeavors.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

SummerSlam A to Z: Zeus

Zeus and Macho Man
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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And we've reached the end of the alphabet.  I couldn't think of a better way to wrap things up than with Zeus.  He was a very small, but memorable part of SummerSlam.  Zeus and "The Macho King" Randy Savage teamed up in the main event of SummerSlam 89 against Hulk Hogan and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake.

Ready to rumble
Courtesy: WWE

"Tiny" Lister played Zeus, who was the villain opposite  Hogan in the WWF produced film No Holds Barred earlier in the summer.  Like the monster he played in the movie, Zeus was a dominate force leading up to the SummerSlam match.  Of course there was tension still between Hogan and Savage following Wrestlemania V and Hogan's title victory.  Beefcake was thrown into the mix as well.  Plus Elizabeth and Sherri were outside the ring to add to the drama.

Courtesy: WWE
Zeus barely knew the difference between a wrist lock and a wrist watch.   I'm not judging as my in ring skills are limited to a few chops, a bodyslam and a clothesline.  The good guys won the battle, but the war was far from over.  Hogan and Zeus went head to head on opposite Survivor Series teams that year.  And 1989 wrapped up with a pay per view special called No Holds Barred: The Match, The Movie.  This time Hogan and Beefcake beat the bad guys inside a steel cage.  

Zeus pretty much disappeared after that.  He resurfaced in WCW years later as Z-Gangsta and once again battled Hogan.  This stint was even shorter than his first go around in the business. He'd never win wrestler of the year, but Zeus was a fun part of my childhood wrestling days as I can still picture him ranting and raving more than 25 years later.

Friday, August 21, 2015

SummerSlam A to Z: Yokozuna

Yokozuna vs. Lex Luger
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Yokozuna only appeared on one SummerSlam pay-per-view, but he made history in the process.  He was the first bad guy world heavyweight champion on the yearly event.  He defended the gold in the main event of SummerSlam '93 against Lex Luger.  And even though it was the sixth SummerSlam, it was only the third to feature a heavyweight championship match.

Courtesy: WWE
Yoko had won his second championship (his first lasted about 20 seconds) at King of the Ring earlier that summer.  Because Hogan was leaving, the WWF needed a new all-American type hero and turned to Lex Luger.  He had been a heel himself as the Narcissist.  But soon he dressed in stars and stripes garb and was body slamming the 500 plus pound Samoan superstar (even though his character was Japanese).   The two met at SummerSlam and Luger won the match by count out after knocking the big man out of the ring with his patented "loaded" elbow. 

Austin vs. Yokozuna
Courtesy: WWE
He did wrestle a few years later on the "Free For All" event before SummerSlam '96.  By then he was  a good guy and had slipped down the card.  He also slipped off the ropes when he tried to do his Banzai Drop on "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.  The rope broke and Yoko crashed to the mat.  A dazed Austin, fresh off his King of the Ring win, scored the pinfall.

 I always thought Yokozuna moved amazingly well for a man his size.  Now 15 years after his death I think I have an even better appreciation for him and wish he would have been around longer for his family, friends and fans to enjoy. 



Thursday, August 20, 2015

SummerSlam A to Z: X-Pac

X-Pac vs. Tajiri
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Coming up with an X for the A to Z idea was a no brainer.  Other than X-Pac, I don't know who or what I could have written about.  So thanks Sean Waltman for the name change in 1998.  Speaking of, I'd say was his biggest or at least most memorable SummerSlam match for me.

Hair today...
Courtesy: WWE
It was 1998 when he'd returned to the WWF and joined D-Generation X.  The group had recently turned good and leader Triple H was busy with the Rock and X-Pac had his hands full with "Double J" Jeff Jarrett.  The match was hair vs. hair and I'm glad X-Pac won because it finally meant an end to Jarrett's mullet.  The match was good and proved to me that the former 1-2-3 Kid was going to be a star.  

1-2-3 Kid vs. Hakushi
Courtesy: WWE
I personally liked the Kid character especially in the early days before signing with WWF.  Kid wasn't nearly as successful as he was after changing his name, look and attitude, but he had an excellent match against Hakushi in 1995.  

Unified champ
Courtesy: WWE
The other big win for him at SummerSlam was against Tajiri in 2002 when he unified the WWF and WCW light heavyweight championships.  But until I started doing my research, I'd forgotten this match existed.  I've mentioned before there's a big blur in my wrestling memory bank from 2000 until about 2007.  Coincidentally I became a father for the first time in 2000...

He lost the tag team titles with Kane as the duo faced the Big Show and Undertaker in 1999 and then beat former DX buddy Road Dogg at the event in 2000.  Love him or hate him, X-Pac or the 1-2-3 Kid is a part of SummerSlam history, giving fans some great matches through the years.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

SummerSlam A to Z: Wembley Stadium

80,355 fans at Wembley Stadium
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Of course WWE or WWF have the word "World" in them so it should come as no surprise that this global company took the show on the road back in 1992.  That was the first time SummerSlam or any WWF pay-per-view had originated overseas.  If my memory is correct, I think it may still be.  At the very least SummerSlam '92 is the only of the Big Four to do so.


Legion of Doom & Rocco
Courtesy: WWE
Wembley Stadium in London played host to the event.  The stadium was huge as you can see in the pictures.  More than 80,000 fans were on hand as the Legion of Doom rode motorcycles to the ring for Hawk and Animal's last match together (at least for a while).  Remember Rocco the Dummy and Paul Ellering were on bikes too?  They beat Money Inc. that night.  Undertaker made his in-ring SummerSlam debut despite being with the company nearly two years at that point when he beat Kamala.


Flair & Perfect interfering
Courtesy: WWE

The WWF championship match was not the main event of the night.  It was a rematch from the previous year's Wrestlemania as Randy Savage defended the belt against the Ultimate Warrior.  By this point, both were good guys. Warrior wore a singlet that looked like something Mr. Goodbody would have been proud.  The match didn't compare to their Wrestlemania VII classic which is my favorite Mania match of all time.  Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect interfered in the match, and Warrior ended up winning via count out.  Savage dropped the belt a few weeks later back to Flair.


Family united
Courtesy: WWE
The main event of the night featured hometown hero The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith against his brother-in-law Bret Hart for the Intercontinental championship. Again, this was a good guy vs. good guy matchup.  I believe it's the first and only time the IC title match was the closer on the show or any major WWE pay-per-view (not counting the title vs. title match between Hulk Hogan and Warrior at Mania VI).  The company did a great job putting this story together and Hart and Smith did an even better job in the ring.  The celebration afterward with Diana Hart-Smith was very memorable too.  I wish Bulldog could have held the title longer, but I know the company had other plans.  


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SummerSlam A to Z: Vince McMahon

King Brain and a stunned looking Vince McMahon at SummerSlam 92
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I think it's safe to say I would not be doing the SummerSlam A to Z blogs if it weren't for the letter V: Vince McMahon.  He revolutionized wrestling/sports entertainment as we know it today, first starting with the Wrestlemania pay-per-view.  Then came Survivor Series and third of the "Big Four" ppvs, SummerSlam.  It's the highlight of the summer and has been going strong since 1988.

JR, Vince & The King
Courtesy: WWE

Vince was behind the scenes for the first couple of years.  In 1990, he was on commentary, sat out a year and was back behind the mic for several years to follow.  He worked the booth with everyone from "Rowdy" Roddy Piper to Bobby "The Brain" Heenan to Jerry "The King" Lawler.  Vince did that until 1997, months before adopting the evil Mr. McMahon character on screen. 

Vince's head meets the trash can
Courtesy: WWE
Vince wrestled sporadically through the Monday Night Wars and beyond.  His only match at SummerSlam came when he and son Shane tagged up against Triple H and Shawn Michaels, collectively known as Degeneration X.  Considering Vince was just days away from his 61st birthday and had only had a handful of matches under his belt I thought he did pretty well in this contest.  There was plenty of outside interference, but I am amazed at the bumps Vince (and Shane) took throughout the course of the match (including that trashcan shot to the head).

It appears his wrestling days are behind him, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him pop up again at the summer tradition somewhere down the road.  As they say, you never know what's going to happen in the World Wrestling Feder... oops, my bad.  In the WWE.



Monday, August 17, 2015

SummerSlam A to Z: Undertakers

Purple vs. gray Undertaker
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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The Undertaker has been a part of 15 SummerSlams, and next week he'll return to the summertime tradition after missing several of the past few years.  He's wrestled the likes of Edge, Randy Orton and even the legendary Kamala at SummerSlam.  But maybe his greatest opponent of all-time was against himself.  Yes, the Undertaker stepped into the ring and did battle against the Undertaker at SummerSlam '94.

Quick backstory (if it's possible to be quick)...  The Undertaker was beaten by Yokozuna in a casket match at the Royal Rumble in 1994 and disappeared from TV for months, even missing Wrestlemania X that year.  By late spring or early summer, Ted DiBiase was a manager and claimed he had seen Taker and was bringing him back to the WWF (he and Brother Love introduced Undertaker originally at Survivor Series 1990).  


Leslie Nielson on the case
Paul Bearer claimed that DiBiase's Undertaker was a fake and for some reason Leslie Nielson from Police Squad and The Naked Gun was brought in to investigate.  It was very cheesy, but this was all happening around the same time as the steroids trial and sexual abuse allegations.  I don't remember much of Nielson's involvement beyond the vignettes that aired leading up to SummerSlam.


Tombstone!
Courtesy: WWE
Speaking of SummerSlam for some reason this match went on last and is recognized as the main event, following a more than 30 minute steel cage battle between Owen and Bret Hart for the WWF World championship. Bearer's Undertaker was the real deal, easily beating the bogus 'Taker who was played by Smoky Mountain Wrestling star Brian Lee.  After the defeat, the druids took Lee away and he'd come back years later as Chainz in the DOA with Crush and the Harris twins.