Friday, March 16, 2018

Show me the Moolah or maybe not

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

By now you've seen the news that WWE had announced the first ever Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal. It was designed to be a tribute to the longest reigning champion in women's wrestling, and a female version of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal that was established in 2014. However, there was fan backlash and WrestleMania sponsor Mars (Snicker's) released this statement:

We were recently made aware of the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc’s (WWE) decision to honor a former wrestler during the upcoming WrestleMania 34 event. As a principle-based business that has long championed creating inclusive environments that encourage and empower everyone to reach their full potential, this is unacceptable. We are engaging with the WWE to express our disappointment.

The battle royal will still happen, but now will be called the WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal. I like the idea of honoring a legend in this way. Several of Moolah's trainees have accused the now-deceased Superstar of keeping their earnings and pimping them out to male wrestlers. But is this the right call to make. I'm simply going to play Devil's advocate for the rest of this discussion.

Mad Maxine, a Moolah trainee and accuser
Courtesy: WWE

Yes, change the name

Because of everything going on in Hollywood and beyond, reacting to allegations of abuse is the right thing to do. Moolah has been dead for more than a decade and obviously can't defend herself against the allegations.

Frankly, I was surprised the company made the plan in the first place. When the women's tournament last year was named after Mae Young and not Moolah, I made the assumption it was due to the past allegations. This situation is not new.

Courtesy: WWE

No, leave Moolah alone

Remember innocent until proven guilty. Society typically takes the word of the accuser over the accused. That's not to say we shouldn't. But in my own personal experiences, I've seen reports of sexual abuse reported and the accuser later recant their statement. Lives are destroyed in these situations.

Pro wrestling is an interesting form of entertainment. In my 1-2-3 cents, many fans don't separate the character from the person playing that character. Case in point, Mary Lillian Ellison is the woman behind the Moolah character. She's the one who allegedly treated her trainees, not the woman we came to love to hate to love again on WWE programming. 

I'll lump that in with the Ultimate Warrior too. I know he legally changed his name to Warrior and years ago made several homophobic and other statements that some people found offensive. Now he's in the WWE Hall of Fame and has an award named in his honor. But again, I view the statements made by the man different than what was done in the ring.

It's not unlike the Bill Cosby situation.  I know some networks have pulled the plug on the Cosby Show. Dr. Cliff Huxatable isn't accused of drugging women and taking advantage of them, Cosby is. Plus when pulling the show the other actors, writers and crew members are being punished.

No one discredits the Joker for Heath Ledger's overdose death. However, when Sherri Martel's name was brought up to have the Battle Royal named after her, some discredit Sherri because of her addiction issues. But to that, I say addiction is a disease and would we be critical of someone who had cancer due to years of smoking? Or liver problems because they're an alcoholic? I realize I'm on a slippery slope at this point and a whole different argument can be made for addiction and substance abuse issues. I'll save that discussion for another day...

Again, I get that wrestling is different from the rest of Hollywood. Changing the name is probably the best for everyone involved. I'll close with this. I applaud WWE giving the Women's Division more opportunities. However, instead of copying everything the men have done (Money in the Bank, Elimination Chamber and Royal Rumble) I'd like to see some other kind of new and innovative match that's exclusive for the women. Let the male Superstars play catchup in that regard. I have no ideas for this women's match, just something I'd like to see WWE Creative come up with soon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Braun's tag team partner

Braun battling other tag teams
Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Based on the actions of Monday night's Raw, Braun Strowman has secured a match against the tag team champions, the Bar. It's an interesting twist in the WWE tag team situation. It's lead to plenty of speculation on who Braun will choose as a partner.

The Bar
Courtesy: WWE
WWE has done an amazing job building Braun into a monster. Probably too amazing actually. Despite the loss to Roman Reigns at Elimination Chamber, Strowman has been unbeatable. Even in a handicap tag team match against Sheamus and Cesaro, I have a hard time believing he's at a disadvantage. I don't ever recall one man holding the WWE (WWF) tag team championships, but I'll admit I find the idea intriguing. Some will argue that's disrespectful to the lineage of the championships. But again, it's a predetermined activity. It's hard to apply logic to an illogical situation.

So, should WWE book a partner for Braun? I do think a title switch is needed. I had hoped a team, not on the current roster would have stepped up to the challenge, (not the Young Bucks) but this scenario works for me too. There have been a few names floated as possible partners for Braun. But from everything I've read (take that with a grain of salt) there is no definitive plan yet for this situation.

Elias plays some music
Courtesy: WWE
Elias: I'm not sure how I feel about this one. The two have been battling it out for weeks. Applying logic (I know what I said earlier) this makes little sense. But Elias is over big. The two would definitely shake things up in a match at Mania. 

Courtesy: WWE
Neville: For obvious reasons, I like this idea. Neville has been MIA since the fall. There's been speculation that he's working with WWE management on a possible return. I loved him as King of the Cruiserweights. I could almost see he and Braun like a more destructive version of Enzo and Big Cass.

Big Cass
Courtesy: WWE
Big Cass: Speaking of the big guy, he should be coming off the injured list soon. I'm just throwing that name out there because obviously now that Enzo is gone from WWE, Cass really has nothing to come back to at this point. Pairing him up with a monster like Braun could establish an amazingly dangerous duo.

So who do you think Braun should team with? Or should he go it alone? Weigh in here or on the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page.

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Monday, March 12, 2018

3 WrestleMania options for John Cena

The Road to WrestleMania closed?

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Once again John Cena has come up short in finding his Road to WrestleMania. He failed to win the Royal Rumble in January, which would have insured him a shot at the Universal or WWE Champions. Cena lost his effort to be the number one contender for the Universal Championship after losing at Elimination Chamber in February. And it was seemingly 'strike three' for the16-time heavyweight champ when he couldn't win the gold in the six-pack challenge at Fastlane. 

Where does this leave Cena for the biggest event of the year? I've got a few options in mind. Since 2004 Cena has been in a championship match or a high profile match at WrestleMania. Even in 2016 when he was out hurt, Cena appeared during the Rock's impromptu match against Erik Rowan. Cena is as much a part of WrestleMania as Superstars like Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker.

Courtesy: WWE
Speaking of the Dead Man, he's my first option for Cena. I'll admit I don't like how WWE ended last year's show with Undertaker losing to Reigns and the unanswered questions about Taker's future. But Undertaker seems to be the most logical choice in this scenario. He's the one guy who Cena hasn't faced on the big stage. Even with the Streak long broken, in my 1-2-3 cents this would still be a compelling match and if they don't push Undertaker past the limit the work rate will be great.

Bobby Lashley
Courtesy: Impact Wrestling
I would have much rather seen Bobby Lashley enter and win the Royal Rumble and go on to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, I think the former ECW Champion coming in to do battle with Cena could be epic. I know Lashley is no spring chicken in the business, but he has come a long way since leaving WWE a decade ago. There's still plenty of gas in the tank and Lashley facing Cena (win, lose or draw) at WrestleMania would be an amazing comeback and boost to his career.

Buddy Murphy
Courtesy: WWE
NXT is full of great talent. Usually, a handful of Superstars are called up to the main roster at the Raw after WrestleMania. However, how great would it be to see one of these men come up early and face the biggest Superstar of them all on the grandest stage of them all? Admittedly, I don't watch NXT like I should. If I was forced to pick someone, I'd go with Buddy Murphy. I know he's on 205 Live at the moment, but this guy looks like a million bucks and I like the 'best-kept secret' gimmick they're doing with him. Cena could come out on Raw and complain about not having an opponent and then Murphy bursts onto the scene and reveals the secret is out and he's ready for Cena. I know the likelihood of this happening is next to null, but it would be something unexpected and give an up-and-comer the ultimate rub.

Who do you think Cena should face at WrestleMania? Weigh in here. 

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Meet Wraith

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

In January a new wrestler appeared at the Stride Pro Wrestling and was entered into the Stride Cup Tournament. He dressed in black with a skull mask covering his face. His first match was over before it started, beating his opponent in about six seconds. 

A month later this mystery man, who the Stride office simply referred to as Anonymous, battled Ace Hawkins and beat the indy veteran to advance in the tournament. Then on March 3 Anonymous won the Stride Cup and the vacated Legacy Championship. All the while never saying a word or revealing his name.

Wraith and his disciples
Over the weekend at Stride Pro Wrestling: Anniversary 2, J. Wellington Beauregard let the cat out of the bag, revealing the champ's name as Wraith and his new sidekick is Disciple Ryzer. Neither man said a word but confirmed the reveal with their body language. Later in the night, the duo added Stride newcomer Chase King to their stable. Together this threesome laid out Farmer Billy Hills. Farmer is the number one contender to Wraith's Legacy Championship and gets a shot at it on Saturday, April 7. 

Wraith battles Farmer Billy Hills
So what's the story behind Wraith? The definition is a ghost or ghostlike image of someone, especially one seen shortly before or after their death. Wraith hails from 'beyond the grave in Necroville. That's a city overrun by zombies, vampires, werewolves and other monsters. Wraith is big and impressive and so far undefeated in Stride Pro Wrestling. But how will he handle Farmer on April 7? Join us to find out more.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Top 10 things I've learned about Stride Pro Wrestling

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Since tonight is the big Anniversary 2 show for Stride Pro Wrestling, I've been doing a lot of reflecting on the company, competitors and the course we've taken over the past two years. So here are the 10 ten things I've learned about Stride since our first show in March 2016.

10.  Ax Allwardt bought his chain at the estate sale for former WWE Superstar Hercules.

9.   J. Wellington Beauregard buys Brian Richards' shirts at 'Sleeveless Shirts 'R Us'. 

8.  When Tony Flood moved to Canada he went from bacon being his favorite pizza topping to Canadian bacon.  

7.  Roger Matheus was kicked out of the MMA because he can't spell M-M-A. 
6.  Dexter Roswell is not registered to vote.  

5.   Heath Hatton is in a 12 step program for his addiction to baby oil.  

4.  This is Anonymous' autograph.
Anonymous' autograph
3.  Lane Austin can count to three and is truly the hardest working referee in the game. We love you, man. 

2.  'Heart', 'Club' and 'Diamond' were also potential last names before Jay settled on 'Spade'.

1.  Stride Pro Wrestling fans rule. We thank you for your support.

Obviously, I had a little fun with this list. I do want to say I am truly grateful to everyone who is part of Stride Pro Wrestling. We have come a long way in two years and I'm proud to be a part of it and I look forward to what the future holds. Learn more about Stride tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Cambria Village Hall (302 S. Richart St. in Cambria, IL)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Stride Pro Wrestling's fashionistas

Kevin Hunsperger & J. Wellington Beauregard

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Professional wrestling has always had its share of fashionistas. Men and women who pushed the envelope with their outfit choices. Legends like "Classy" Freddie Blassie, Jim Cornette and Jimmy Hart come to mind along with current talent Rockstar Spud. But the big stage isn't the only place you'll see some fashion statements. Stride Pro Wrestling has a nice share of fashionistas.

J. Wellington Beauregard has had an interesting sense of fashion for years. I first met 'J. Wells' during our days with All American Pro Wrestling. The self-proclaimed billionaire likes to wear matching shirt and pants combos. From time to time he'll throw in a sweater tied around his neck too. 

Old school...

Courtesy: Steve Belcher
Courtesy: Steve Belcher

Courtesy: Steve Belcher
A member of the DR Party under the management of Beauregard has turned heads with not only his flashy tights but with his noteworthy hair. Scott Phoenix has flowing locks that leave many fans and wrestlers in the locker room green with envy. 

Courtesy: Steve Belcher

Courtesy: Steve Belcher

Courtesy: Steve Belcher
I'm going to throw myself into the mix too. At the first Stride Pro Wrestling show (then CMA Wrestling) I wore my Bobby "the Brain" Heenan jacket. It's an old suit coat my mom repurposed with red glitter material for my costume at WrestleMania 27. But instead of letting it sit in my closet, I decided to give the jacket new life with my ring announcing. I've also added some suits from Shinesty and Opposuits and even an 'electric cowboy' jacket from my friend Todd Ellis. 

Courtesy: Steve Belcher

Courtesy: Steve Belcher

Who is your favorite Stride Pro Wrestling fashionista? Weigh in here or join us Saturday, March 10 at Cambria Village Hall. Doors open at 6, bell time is 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Sherri was sensational

WWF Women's Champion
Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

March 8 is International Women's Day. There have been a number of remarkable women in the world of professional wrestling. From the "Fabulous" Moolah to Elizabeth to Trish Stratus and current stars like Alexa Bliss, Charlotte Flair and Mickey James; the evolution of women's wrestling has been amazing.

Sherri in the AWA 
One woman who I've come to appreciate much more since her untimely death in 2007 is "Sensational" Sherri Martel. I remember when she first came onto my wrestling radar in the AWA. It was 1985 or so and women's wrestling was enjoying a bit of a resurgence thanks in part to Moolah and Wendi Richter in the WWF. One thing I learned was Sherri was not related to AWA World Champion Rick Martel. But another lesson learned was she was quite a talent in the ring.

Sherri vs. Moolah
Courtesy: WWE
Even though more women's matches were being broadcast on TV, the division was still grossly understaffed and underrated. Because of that (I'm assuming) Sherri transitioned into a manager too, leading "Playboy" Buddy Rose and "Pretty Boy" Doug Sommers to the AWA tag team championships. Meanwhile, in the WWF, the ladies were getting some more love and Sherri jumped ship, beating Moolah for the women's championship.

Sherri as Peggy Sue
Courtesy: WWE
It seemed that rebirth in the WWF was shortlived too, with Sherri once again returning to her managerial background. She donned a wig, sunglasses and a poodle skirt to be a backup for the Honky Tonk Man for a brief time. But she was most notable for managing the "Macho Man" Randy Savage, becoming "Sensational Queen" Sherri after Savage and Elizabeth split. But the kingdom crumbled and she took on Ted DiBiase as a client and later Shawn Michaels. 

Sensational Queen
Courtesy: WWE
Sherri would leave WWF and go to WCW to manage Ric Flair and Harlem Heat. Her time in the business was nothing short of impressive. Like I said, I've come to better appreciate Sherri posthumously, but I do remember when she was managing she often took bigger and better bumps than some of her male colleagues. Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and Dusty Rhodes are just a few of the Superstars who felt Sherri's wrath or dealt out punishment to the former women's champion.

Sherri's HOF induction
Courtesy: WWE
In 2006 I was fortunate enough to be in the audience the night Sherri was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Sadly, a year later she was gone. But her legacy will live on not only as a professional wrestler but as one of the most beloved and talented managers of all time.