Monday, August 31, 2015

King of Trios Preview

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter
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Chikara’s 8th Annual King of Trios takes place this weekend (September 4-6, 2015). This will be my first time attending the event live. While unforeseen circumstances have me attending the shows alone, this should still be an amazing weekend. This blog looks at the first round matches. There are a few minor predictions involved but not many since the full brackets for the tournament haven’t been released.  Let’s not waste any more time and jump right into the first announced match. 




UNITED NATIONS VS TEAM ATTACK

United Nations is a Chikara trio made up of team captain, Juan Francisco de Coronado, Mr. Azerbaijan and The Proletariat Boar of Moldova. In the series long Challenge of the Immortals, United Nations are currently one point ahead of last place.  

Team ATTACK is a British team comprised of Mark Andrews, Morgan Webster and Pete Dunne. The only member of this team I’m familiar with is Mark Andrews. Andrews won TNA British Bootcamp 2 and appeared on a few episodes of Impact this year helping Rockstar Spud in his feud with EC3. 

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Team ATTACK win this match given the lack of success United Nations has had this season. 




BDK vs. TEAM FIGHT CLUB PRO 

Jakob Hammermeier revealed himself the man under the disguise of Dr. Cube on September 19, 2014 and reformed Bruderschaft des Kreuzes. After using the Eye of Tyr to oust BDK leader Ares, Jakob took control of the BDK. Jakob’s two other members in the King of Trios are Nokken and Soldier Ant who is under the influence of the Eye of Tyr. 

Team Fight Club Pro is the other British trio competing this year. MK McKinnan, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate travel across the pond to compete in their first King of Trios. 



CROWN & COURT VS ARCANE HORDE

Crown & Court currently reside in the basement of the Challenge of the Immortal standings. Captain Princess Kimber Lee didn’t draft wisely when choosing her team. Her partners in the King of Trios are El Hijo del Ice Cream and Ice Cream Jr., collectively known as Los Ice Cream. Los Ice Cream has probably the worst win-loss record of anyone who’s competed in Chikara. 

The Arcane Horde is Ultramantis Black’s team members in the Challenge of the Immortals. The Batiri (Kodama and Obariyon) join Oleg the Usurper. Oleg is having a breakout year in Chikara. Fans have accepted the Viking brute, which surprises me. Oleg is responsible for the death of Dragon Dragon. That is an act I don’t think I can ever full forgive nor forget. 



BATTLEBORN VS DASHER’S DUGOUT

Kid Cyclone removed his mask last year revealing his identity as Kevin Condron. Condron was upset at the fans acceptance of Eddie Kingston after Kingston turned on The Flood and rejoined the Chikara locker room. Kingston had taken part in ending the careers of Condron’s colleagues Private Eye Jr. and Create A Wrestler. Kevin Condron then took masked wrestler Volgar under his wing with the condition that Volgar remove his mask as well. Once the mask was off, “Juke Joint” Lucas Calhoun was born. I’m not sure how Missile Assault Ant joined the trio.  At a show in Indianapolis, Kevin Condron tried to recruit Missile Assault Ant with MAA refusing. Sometime between that show and now, MAA had a change of mind and is now Missile Assault Man. If I were a betting man, I would put money on Battleborn either winning the tournament or at least making the finals. 

Last year, the Golden Trio made the finals, losing to the Devastation Corporation. This year, Dasher Hatfield, Mr. Touchdown and Icarus don’t have their titles or their moniker. Instead, they’re part of the Challenge of the Immortals with Dasher Hatfield being the team captain. Since I picked Battleborn to advance to the finals, I’m going to speculate a loss in the first round for Dasher’s Dugout will lead to Dasher and Mr. Touchdown being part of the tag team scramble match on Night 3. 



NIGHTMARE WARRIORS VS SNAKE PIT

Chikara Grand Champion Hallowicked leads his trio mates Frightmare and Silver Ant into battle.  All three members are former King of Trios winners.  Silver Ant, back when he was Green Ant, won the 2011 tournament as part of the Colony. Hallowicked and Frightmare were victorious in 2012 alongside Ultramantis Black. 

The Snake Pit boasts one of the more eclectic trios. Team captain Ophidian teams with former Grand Champion, Eddie Kingston and the highflying Shynron. It will be interesting to see if these three can work together well enough to advance in the tournament. 




GENTLEMAN’S CLUB VS TEAM AAA

Did I say the Snake Pit was one of the most eclectic trios? The Gentleman’s Club may give them a run for their money in that department. Captain Chuck Taylor has enlisted two of his good friends to fill out his trio. Pure wrestler, Drew Gulak and the, I don’t know what adjectives to use, Swamp Monster. 

Team AAA could also be called Team Lucha Underground. Aero Star, Drago and Fenix bring their high flying style to the Easton Funplex While I’m looking forward to seeing this trio in person, a part of me wishes if I am going to see a dragon that it would be Dragon Dragon. 



BATTLE HIVE VS BULLET CLUB

The Funky Pharaoh, Amasis dances into competition alongside 2011 co-winners Fire Ant and Worker Ant. While Amasis may be looking for a dance party to start up during King of Trios, he will probably end up walking into a different kind of party: a superkick party. 

Former Campeonatos de Parejas The Young Bucks return to Chikara with a debuting AJ Styles. While the Bullet Club is a faction in New Japan Pro Wrestling, their popularity crosses the ocean. To me, I’m interested in seeing if any anti-TNA comments are made while Styles is in the ring. 



DEVASTATION CORPORATION VS bWo

This is the match I’m most looking forward to out of all the first round matches. The current King of Trios, Devastation Corporation (Blaster McMassive, Flex Rumblecrunch and Max Smashmaster) are also the current Campeonatos de Parejas. On paper it looks like Dev Corp may have the easiest draw of the first round. (Cheap plug: listen to Kevin’s interview with Max Smashmaster on episode 40 of the My 123 Cents podcast)

For the first time since a brief reunion in 2005 as part of the new ECW, the Blue World Order reunites. Big Stevie Cool, Da Blue Guy and Hollywood Nova will be looking to take over the Funplex. Do they have what it takes to knock off the reigning King of Trios? I’m picking the bWo to pull the biggest upset of the tournament. 

In addition to the King of Trios, Nights 2 and 3 feature the Rey de Voladores tournament. As of this writing the only two names announced are Matt Cross and 2 Cold Scorpio.   Day 3 will include the tag team gauntlet. 

While this year’s tournament may not have the emotional storytelling that 2011 had, the line up is pretty impressive and should make for an exciting three days of action. I will have a full recap in the days after the tournament and will try to line up a few more interviews for the podcast.

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.