Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cody Rhodes vs. WWE

Cody Rhodes enters ROH
Courtesy: George Tahinos

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I'm going to start this blog off by stating for the record I am a fan of Cody Rhodes. I enjoyed every incarnation of the man in his time in WWE. From his first break teaming with Bob Holly to Legacy to "Dashing" Cody to Rhodes-Scholars and even Stardust (even though I know he hated it). In my 1-2-3 cents, he was one of the most undervalued members of the roster and I'm happy for the success he's found on the independent scene and as the current Ring of Honor champion. It's also my 1-2-3 cents that his wife Brandi (Eden in WWE) was also grossly misused and should have had a larger role in the company. 

Now that you know where I'm coming from, let me move forward. WWE announced this week it's bringing back the Starrcade brand for the first time since acquiring WCW. The last Starrcade event was in December 2000. The title will be a part of an event planned for Thanksgiving weekend, involving SmackDown Live talent. Legends like Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and The Rock 'n Roll Express are also scheduled to appear.

Dusty vs. Ric Flair
Courtesy: WWE
The announcement of the event drew some criticism from Cody and Brandi, mostly being upset that Dusty Rhodes, who helped create Starrcade, wasn't credited and that Dustin (Goldust) Rhodes isn't scheduled to have a match on the show at this point. I understand Cody's emotional attachment to the situation, but I disagree with his point of view. Of course, if I was in his shoes, I might think differently, but I'd like to think that I wouldn't. Also, I don't disagree with him on everything. 

Tag champs
Courtesy: WWE
He's right, it would be nice if WWE included Goldust on the card. However, if they don't, I understand. Goldy is on the Raw brand and this is a SmackDown Live event. Also, Michael Hayes has extended an invitation to Cody to team with Dustin on the show. That would be amazing and I'd love to see them face the Hardy Boyz (I know they're Raw too), but what the hell... 

In my 1-2-3 cents, WWE doesn't have to give credit to the creator or innovator of each concept they present. Dusty was mentioned in the article for his involvement, but not as one of the creative forces behind it. To that point, I don't know that WWE mentions Pat Patterson every year at the Royal Rumble and I couldn't tell you officially who should be recognized for Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series or King of the Ring.

Dusty Rhodes statue unveiling
Courtesy: WWE
WWE has done a lot to honor the American Dream's legacy. There's a life-size statue of Dusty that was unveiled at WrestleMania Axxess a couple years ago. In 2016, there was a tag team tournament in the Dream's honor. There are a lot of Legends, Hall of Famers and contributors to the success of the business that don't get the credit they deserve. I really don't believe WWE is trying to squash the legacy of the Dream or take anything away from what he did for wrestling.

My hope is that one day Cody finds what he's looking for on the indy scene and is able to once again put his talents on display on the global stage of WWE. I respect what he, Dustin and their father have done and continue to do for the betterment of professional wrestling (and sports entertainment).

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Modern day Heenan Family

The Heenan Family

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I'm moving forward with another tribute to the greatest manager in the world of professional wrestling, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Managers have become a much less common part of the business, however, in my 1-2-3 cents they play a huge role and have through history. We know Heenan managed some of the all-time greats, including Andre the Giant, Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and advised Ric Flair. So today I'm putting together a modern-day version of the Heenan Family. 

The monster heel
Courtesy: WWE
Braun Strowman. The Heenan Family always had some big men to back up the Brain. Andre, Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy are just some of the behemoths that signed with Bobby. Strowman has developed into a main event player on his own. I can see Heenan confidently leading the big man to the ring in his upcoming battle against Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. 

The Glorious One
Courtesy: WWE
Bobby Roode. In his current "Glorious" incarnation, Roode reminds me a lot of "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff and "Ravishing" Rick Rude, two mainstays in the Heenan Family. Roode is an excellent performer who is destined for continued greatness in WWE. But imagine if Heenan was there with Roode. I believe he'd manage him right to the WWE Championship.

The Cocky One
Courtesy: WWE
Dolph Ziggler. He's up and he's down. Ziggler reminds me a lot of Mr. Perfect, who we saw Heenan work with as well. The Brain and the ShowOff together would be a great combination. In general, most Superstars these days are expected to get over on their own. Dolph has done that, but a manager can be that cherry on top. That's exactly what Heenan would do in this situation.

The Tag Team
Courtesy: WWE
The Bar. The Heenan Family always had strong tag teams too. From the Islanders to the Brain Busters to the Colossal Connection, the Brain was a major player in the division.  Sheamus and Cesaro have gelled well together as a team, actually much better than I had expected. Both are big, tough and strong and would be excellent at keeping the Brain safe after running his mouth too much.

The Confident One
Courtesy: WWE
Carmella. I debated this choice, but the Heenan Family never had a female member. When I say I debated, it wasn't about putting a female in the family, but instead which one. I originally was going to go with Charlotte Flair, but Carmella has really grown on me this year and in my 1-2-3 cents Heenan could have helped her get over even more so than she has now. 

The Raw Talent
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
Red Daniels. This is another choice I struggled with because I don't want to overlook or leave anyone off the Stride Pro Wrestling roster. There are several men who could have reaped the benefits of The Brain and Red is one who fits the Heenan Family mold as far as being a big guy with a bad attitude. Heenan could have harnessed that aggression and used it to take Red to new heights.  

I love the Brain. I still consider myself lucky to have met and interviewed him nearly 20 years ago. It was a surreal moment and one I cherish now more than ever before. Godspeed, Brain.

Monday, September 18, 2017

3 Heenan Family members you forgot about

Forgotten Heenan Family members
Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Bobby "The Brain" Heenan is revered by most fans as the greatest manager in the history of wrestling. We all remember his Family members like Andre the Giant, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, Paul Orndorff, Mr. Perfect and The Brain Busters. But there are a handful of guys Heenan managed in the WWE that some fans probably didn't realize. 

Toward the end of his career (and life) Adrian Adonis had donned a new look and attitude. He was flamboyant and came to the ring dressed in pink tights, bows and a dress. But before he was "Adorable" Adonis was a street tough New Yorker, who wore a black leather hat and jacket. After he and Dick Murdoch lost the WWF tag team championships to Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo, Adonis signed on with Heenan to manage his singles run. The relationship didn't last long as Heenan "traded" Adonis and The Missing Link to Jimmy Hart for King Kong Bundy's contract.

Missing Link and Bobby Heenan
Courtesy: WWE
The Missing Link was a mainstay in World Class Championship Wrestling. But the green-faced, bizarre one showed up in the World Wrestling Federation in May 1985. The Brain took him under his wing in what I thought at the time was a strange pairing. Link had worked with General Skandar Akbar in WCCW, who was nothing like Heenan. The partnership lasted a few months until that abovementioned trade went down. Under Heenan's tutelage, Link wrestled the likes of SD Jones, Bruno Sammartino and Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana.

While the first two Superstars I remembered being managed by Heenan, I had forgotten about the Brain and Buddy Rose working together. Their time together was limited too. Other than this appearance on Piper's Pit, I can't find any other evidence of the partnership. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Rest in Peace Bobby "The Brain" Heenan

Meeting the Brain in 1998
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I've just read from several sources that Bobby "The Brain" Heenan" has died. When I list my all-time favorites in professional wrestling, Ric Flair tops the list. But Heenan is not far behind the "Nature Boy." His work as a commentator and a manager was untouchable. 

Heenan, Studd & Patera
Courtesy: WWE
My first memories of Heenan were in his early days of the WWF. He was managing Big John Studd and Ken Patera as the trio feuded with Andre the Giant. Hulk Hogan and Hillbilly Jim eventually got involved and would throw the Brain around like a rag doll. His wit was quick and his ability to absorb punishment made him must-see TV for me. 

Bobby Heenan & Rick Rude
Courtesy: WWE
From Andre the Giant to the Red Rooster, Heenan gave all his family members a shine that some managers never had the ability to do. He made the Brooklyn Brawler a Superstar, took The Brain Busters to the WWF tag team titles and helped Rick Rude become Intercontinental Champion. Of course, there's Andre and Haku's title run too, his time with Mr. Perfect and his pair of IC title reigns and Heenan's role in bringing Ric Flair into the WWF and eventually winning the WWF Championship.

Heenan with Andre at WrestleMania III
Courtesy: WWE
Heenan convinced Andre the Giant to turn against Hulk Hogan and set up one of the biggest WrestleMania main events of all-time. Even though Andre came up short, it started a new chapter in the career of the Giant. Heenan played a big role in that story.

The Weasel!
Courtesy: WWE
He took years of bumps and abuse from the company's top good guys including Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Roddy Piper and The Ultimate Warrior. In fact, it was the Warrior who wrestled Heenan in a series of matches in which the loser would get stuffed into a weasel costume. Guess who won those encounters?  

I was heartbroken when Heenan left the WWF and signed with WCW. I enjoyed both promotions but was a WWF loyalist. However, it was Heenan's time in WCW that I got a chance to meet the legend. I was working in Florence, Alabama as a TV anchor and there was a Thursday Night Thunder happening an hour away in Huntsville. I talked with someone at WCW and was granted media access and the chance to interview several stars. One of them was Bobby Heenan. I was completely starstruck and nearly 20 years later wonder how I made it through the interview. I was a young journalist at the time and tried hard not to fanboy right there. That moment remains one of my favorite in my career.

WrestleMania 27
The Heenan Family
In 2011, I joined my friends Chad and Travis as members of the Heenan family at WrestleMania 27. I was the Brain, Chad was Rooster and Travis was Brawler. I still wear the jacket my mom made as a ring announcer in Stride Pro Wrestling. Fans call it the Bobby Heenan coat. Now it means even more to me.

This barely scratches the surface on my admiration for Bobby Heenan. I will have more in the coming days. Be sure to check out My 1-2-3 Cents on Facebook for updates. Rest in peace, Brain.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fun Fact Friday: Heath Hatton

Heath Hatton
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I'm proud to say Heath Hatton has been a friend of mine for years, despite a rocky start in 2010. You can refresh in the Heath Hatton meets Kevin Cheeseburger blog. In 2016, Hatton asked me to be the ring announcer for the first Stride Pro Wrestling show. Now, 18 months later, we're still running strong. 

Not only has this move allowed me to live a dream, but Hatton has also helped me on a personal level get into shape. Although I've dropped the ball after we started working out together last year, Heath was a great source of motivation. His shirtless Snapchats showcasing his abs from time to time has inspired me (again) to start the workout routine again, but I digress...

Neil Diamond
Courtesy: Heath Hatton
Now for some fun facts about the former Stride Pro Wrestling champion.

  1.  Heath Hatton is a diehard Neil Diamond fan. He's been to five Neil Diamond concerts so far, including one recently with referee Lane Austin. Hatton is also a lover of boy bands and at one time aspired to be in one.
  2.  That fits nicely in with this one. Hatton wrote poetry when he was younger. He even won several awards for his works. After he revealed this information to me, I tried convincing him to be a modern-day "Leaping" Lanny Poffo, but he didn't seem interested.
  3.  As brave and tough as he seems in the ring, he's actually afraid of scary movies and haunted houses. He's actually been banned from a haunted house because he punched one of the workers. He also sleeps with a nightlight so he can see any potential ghosts. He assures me he's not making up that part. Maybe he needs to hire the Ghostbusters to come in and keep him safe.
Bonus fact: He's a fast eater. He's won two pizza eating contests, one in 2005 and another in 2008.
Courtesy: Sam Hunter

There you have it. Enjoy Hatton while you can in the ring. His career in Stride Pro Wrestling is on the line as he faces Legacy Champion Tony Flood on Friday, Oct. 6 at Community Consolidated School 204 in Pinckneyville. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Push comes to shove with "Farmer" Billy Hills

The shove was caught on Facebook Live
Courtesy: Dylan Hesterly 

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

September Fallout lived up to its name. That was the latest Stride Pro Wrestling show. I'll run down everything that happened on Monday's My 1-2-3 Cents podcast. But I want to focus on an incident that happened at the start of the show for today's blog.

At the start of the night, I had an interview segment planned with Farmer Billy Hills. Regular Stride fans will remember at last month's show, Farmer viciously attacked JD Wilk after the two lost their match against the tag team champions, Maximum Overdrive. Since that happened, I'd been reaching out to Farmer to get his side of the story. JD explained his view of what happened on last week's podcast. But Farmer never responded.

Before we went out for the show Saturday night, Farmer finally acknowledged my questions and said he'd be willing to talk in front of the live crowd. I detected a bit of agitation in his tone but was happy he was going to explain his actions and why he'd decided to take on former rival Roger Matheus as a partner. 

After asking the first question, I knew this was not going to be an easy interview to conduct. Instead of the fun loving Farmer I came to know and trust from our days in All American Pro Wrestling, he was loud and quite honestly started to scare me with his answers. That should have been my cue to end the interview and move on, but I had to push my luck and mention that Famer has failed to capture any gold in Stride and has come up short in other opportunities around the region. 

Courtesy: Dylan Hesterly
That's when Farmer snapped and pushed me to the mat. He pushed so hard not only did I fall, I dropped the microphone. He clearly was moving in closer as I struggled to regain my footing, but luckily JD ran out and Farmer bailed. Later in the main event, he intimidated me enough that I cleared the ring for the announcements and then made me repeat the fact that he and Matheus won. He has gone from Billy to Bully in a month's time.  

JD Wilk makes the save
Courtesy: Dylan Hesterly 
My body is a little sore from the impact. That will recover in a day or two. I'm sad and disappointed my friend would snap like this and take out his anger on me. I get his frustration, but still... Hopefully, this is just a rough patch for Farmer and we get the old Billy back sooner rather than later. And thank you JD for making the save. I fear what might have happened otherwise.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Unanswered questions heading into Stride's Sept. show

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

All week I've been promoting the fact that Stride Pro Wrestling will be returning to the Illinois Star Centre Mall in Marion in just a few hours. (Bell time is 6:30). A handful of matches have been confirmed, but there are still a few unanswered questions that should be answered once the action gets underway this evening.

Cash Borden and Joey O'Riley are joining forces to get into the hunt for the Stride Pro Wrestling tag team championships. Who will they face off against in their first match as a team?

Legacy Champion Tony Flood has just over three months until the end of the year. Remember if he retains the championship that long, he becomes the new General Manager. But GM Sam Hunter has a hand picked opponent for the champ tonight. Who will it be? 

I've heard J. Wellington Beauregard is growing his stable. He will be announcing a new member of the DR Party tonight.

After a recent slump in Stride Pro Wrestling, where will Heath Hatton land next?

Farmer attacks JD Wilk
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
And hopefully, Farmer Billy Hills will do some explaining after his vicious attack on JD Wilk last month.

All that plus the already announced matches on Stride's Facebook page. Tickets are $10 each. We'll see you tonight.