Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Post Andre the Giant battle royal success

The trophy
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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WWE introduced fans to the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXX and I was in the crowd watching live. I figured The Big Show or Sheamus would be the winner. I was pleasantly surprised when Cesaro tossed Show over the top rope to win the event and the enormous trophy with Andre the Giant perched on top.

Cesaro and the big trophy
Courtesy: WWE
In the weeks and months that followed the victory I expected big things for Cesaro. Sure he had already held the U.S. Championship, but I thought the win would line him up for a run with the Intercontinental Championship or in my fantasy land of booking, a series of matches against the newly crowned WWE World Champion Daniel Bryan. Instead it seemed winning the battle royal was a curse as Cesaro went on a pretty big losing streak, missing opportunities against the secondary champions and other Superstars on the card.
Finally in early 2015 Cesaro and Tyson Kidd formed a pretty awesome tag team and won the championships. They held the belts twice before Kidd ended up getting injured. Cesaro toiled on the mid-card with little success before getting hurt himself and spending some time of television. I popped like everyone else in the crowd at the Raw after WrestleMania 32 when The Swiss Superman returned. 
He had a promising run coming back, but was still unable to capture singles gold. Then Raw General Manger put he and rival Sheamus together and the duo pulled off a big win, ending the New Day's record breaking tag team title run. Their title reign was short lived though, but they remain in the hunt and go for the gold (or copper) this Sunday at WrestleMania 33. 
Baron Corbin in 2016
Courtesy: WWE
Another Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal winner, Baron Corbin gets a shot at gold in what will be his second WrestleMania match. Winning the trophy at 32 was a huge accomplishment for his debut. The followup hasn't been shabby for the former NXT star. He's getting a crack at Dean Ambrose's Intercontinental Championship. I'm still not sold on Corbin, but I do believe he will unseat Ambrose Sunday. It gives me anxiety to think he'll be 2 and 0 at WrestleMania and could be building a streak before you know it...

Big Show celebrating at Raw
Courtesy: WWE
The Big Show is the other Superstar to win the battle royal. He's actually competed in all three and is set to appear again in this year's. That's probably a big indication that WWE Creative has nothing much for Big Show who has become more of an attraction in the last few years anyway.
Braun will win this year
Courtesy: WWE
I never expected Show to go on to win gold again, but I figured since he won the Battle Royal in 2015 they'd at least do something to showcase him. WrestleMania 33 was supposed to feature the (not so) much anticipated battle with Shaq. Now it appears they're grooming him to pass the torch to Braun Strowman who I have no doubt will win Sunday's battle royal. With that win I predict an even bigger push than he's seen, simply because he's a "big bastard" and we know how Vince McMahon feels about those kinds of Superstars.
So while two past winners are going for championship gold at WrestleMania and one is looking to pass the torch, I still find the battle royal interesting. Yeah it's filler to get everyone on the show or at least almost everyone, but I don't really have a problem with that. It is the biggest night of the year and Superstars all deserve a moment to shine.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Missing from Manias past

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Ric Flair, Sting, The Road Warriors, Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Terry & Dory Funk, Jr., Kerry Von Erich and the Steiner Brothers. All guys at one point I would have never imagined wrestling at WrestleMania. But each of these men had at least one appearance on the WWE's biggest event of the year. Here are some others I would have loved to see step on the grandest stage of all.

Brody vs. Abdullah the Butcher
Courtesy: WWE
Bruiser Brody is one of my favorites from childhood. When I first started watching wrestling, I remember him well on Wrestling at the Chase and in World Class Championship Wrestling and eventually the AWA. One of the first live events I attended was main evented by Brody and Ric Flair. Brody won by disqualification. How cool would it have been to see Brody come into the WWF in the early years of WrestleMania?

Although had that happened I could see Brody being built up to the point of getting the title match against Hulk Hogan and then conquered by Hulkamania by the end of the night. That wouldn't have been a bad thing either, but something Brody would not likely have been keen on. Of course in different eras, it would have been great to see Brody vs. Mankind or Brody vs. the Undertaker at a Mania too.

The Midnight Express
Courtesy: WWE
One of my favorite tag teams of all time is the Midnight Express. While I liked Dennis Condry and Bobby Eaton, my pick for this blog is Stan Lane and Eaton, along with manager Jim Cornette. The British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation and The Rockers would have all been worthy Mania opponents for the Express. Jim Cornette would later appear on WrestleMania events with the men he managed, but fans missed something in not having Eaton and Lane in the WWE. Now that the Rock 'n Roll Express is going into the Hall of Fame, I hope Midnight Express is on the shortlist to be inducted.

Courtesy: WWE
Kharma's time in WWE was short, way too short. Her only match (at least official match) came at the 2012 Royal Rumble. She was a part of the 30 Superstar contest. I was there, so I'm grateful for having had the chance to see her in action. But I think a huge opportunity was missed with her. A Beth Phoenix-Kharma match for the Women's Championship would have been amazing. While I don't see the chance ever happening, she'd be a great opponent for any of the women on the roster today as well. I wish thing could have gone differently for Kharma both personally and professionally.

So who never made it to Mania that you would have liked to see on the show? Comment here or on the My 1-2-3 Cents social media pages.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The best of WrestleMania

Money Inc. at WrestleMania 26

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I've been fortunate enough to attend 9 WrestleManias in person. My buddy Chad and I started going in 2006, with WrestleMania 22. We sat out the next year, but resumed the schedule, attending 24-30. We took a break again for 31 and then made the trip to Dallas in 2016. We are not going this year either. (But my hope is to be back in New Orleans for 34.)

I thought I'd share a few of my favorite memories for those past trips, or WrestleManias to be more exact. There are fun times had that have nothing to do with Mania as well.

Flair's last match
Ric Flair's retirement match was held at WrestleMania 24. We were there in Orlando for Naitch's final match in WWE. Despite the fact that he stepped back into the ring to wrestle for other companies, I still hold that match against Shawn Michaels as my favorite WrestleMania match I've seen in person. 

Bryan celebrates

When Daniel Bryan finally overcame the odds and won the WWE World Title at WrestleMania 30, it felt like the start of a new era. His match that opened the show against Triple H was amazing. But then to go into the main event and beat Batista and Randy Orton for the gold was something special. I hold both of those matches in high regard too.

The Beast conquers Undertaker
That same night Brock Lesnar shocked the world and ended the Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania. It was a moment I never thought would happen. You could feel the life escape the Superdome that night as fans gasped in horror. 

Edge's last match
At the time I didn't give it much thought, but the fact that we witnessed Edge's last match at WrestleMania 27 is something pretty special. A career full of injuries took their toll and he surrendered the belt and retired shortly after his defense against Alberto Del Rio.

Hanging out before Mania 22
Nothing in particular for my final "best moment" other than the whole ambiance of being on hand at WrestleMania for the very first time. It was at the All-State Arena in Chicago and the last of the arena Manias. There's an indescribable amount of energy and electricity when in the crowd at any WrestleMania, but since this was the first, it was nothing short of awesome.

A few others to mention, Shawn Michaels' retirement match against the Undertaker, Legends like Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka and Ricky Steamboat coming back to face Chris Jericho and getting the chance to see The Rock wrestle live (I'd only seen him as Rocky Maivia). 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Look to my right and I see the Hollywood sign...

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Did you sing that title? It's from Miley Cyrus' hit Party in the USA. Seven years ago today I boarded a plane bound for Hollywood. Burbank to be exact. I was going to meet my buddy Chad ahead of WrestleMania 26, which was being held in Phoenix. I got to spent a couple days in LA and then we drove to Arizona for all the wrestling geek stuff.

Our first stop on the way to Chad's place was In & Out Burger. I can't remember the name of the burger we had, but Chad told me to order it that way. It and the fries came topped with Thousand Island dressing. A detail Chad didn't tell me and something I am not a fan of, but I ate anyway and it was actually pretty tasty. 

Then we visited the famous Hollywood cemetery and looked at the final resting spots of actors and actresses. Yes, it's probably a bit morbid but I found it very fascinating. We walked the Hollywood Walk of Fame and then headed to Madam Tussads. I love that place because you can pose and be goofy with all the wax figures. The evening wrapped up at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. Yep, I had fried chicken and waffles together for the very first time that night.

The trip was a lot of fun. Now that my kids are older, I'm sure they'd love to take a trip to Hollywood too. And Uncle Chad would love to have us all. Here are some more pics.

Vince McMahon's star

Alfred Hitchcock

Simon Cowell

The Rock

Charlie Chaplin

Carrie Underwood

Friday, March 24, 2017

Foreign Object Friday: Jimmy Hart's motorcycle helmet

Jimmy Hart circa WrestleMania VII
Courtesy: WWE

Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

For years, "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart came to the ring carrying a megaphone. On more than one occasion that device would serve as a weapon and help his Superstars win matches and in some cases championships. But for some reason at WrestleMania VII when Hart showed up with the Nasty Boys he was sporting a motorcycle helmet.

As an 18-year-old fan and nearly a decade of fandom under my belt, I had a feeling that helmet would come into play. Much to my surprise though it was the megaphone that made its first appearance in the match. But it backfired and the Hart Foundation gained the upper hand again. Brian Knobbs was the victim of a Hart Attack and as Jim Neidhart covered the Nasty Boy, the referee was distracted getting Bret Hart out of the ring. 

The helmet is used
Courtesy: WWE
Jimmy Hart quickly tossed the helmet to Jerry Sags who blasted the Anvil with it. Knobbs rolled on top of him and three seconds later there were new tag team champions. As a fan, I always questioned why the refs never questioned actions like this. At one moment the babyface is in control and then when the referee turns back around, the good guy is laid out. But after that's what makes wrestling so much fun. 

Remember this?
Courtesy: WWE
I don't remember now if the helmet was a one off for Hart or if he continued to wear it through the Nasty Boys' title run. I suppose we can throw in Hulk Hogan's classic helmet from the late 80s too when he battled Bad News Brown. Those were the days...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Let's talk about sex (tapes)

Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Sex tapes seem to make or break celebrities. It's been like that for quite some time. Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee became even more famous. And sex tapes are responsible for giving the world celebrities like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. Now a few WWE Superstars find themselves at the center of a sex tape scandal.

Xavier Woods
Courtesy: WWE
Recently a video with former Divas Champion and NXT Women's Champion Paige was released. She is seen doing very personal and private things with former referee Brad Maddox and current Superstar Xavier Woods. It's been reported WWE does not plan to punish Paige nor Woods. Maddox no longer works for the company. I think the decision to not punish the parties involved is a good one. Paige's phone was either stolen or hacked and the videos and images released without her knowledge.

Paige and Alberto
Courtesy: TMZ
Paige's fiance Alberto Del Patron has withdrawn from an upcoming appearance at WrestleCon. His statement “Due to the invasion of our privacy I need to be home with the person that needs me more at the moment and our family. Thanks for your support and I’ll be seeing you the next time.”

There have been countless memes and jokes made about the situation online. Now that the news is about a week old, and WWE has had live events since the situation will come to pass. I do expect taunts and chants at WrestleMania next week and on the Raw that follows. 

Paige in NXT
Courtesy: WWE
I'm not going to lie, I've chuckled at some of the memes I've seen. But sometimes we fail to remember that celebrities are real people. Paige is deeply hurt by this leak and her family is legitimately worried about her well-being. Whoever chose to hack and share the information needs to be held accountable and prosecuted for the act. I realize sometimes these things are done intentionally to garner attention, however that is not the case with this situation.

Then one could argue too, if you don't want those types of images stolen, don't have them in the first place. Hindsight is 20/20. Be more thoughtful of other people's feelings before judging them and sharing the hate. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Facing the boss's son

Shane goes airborne
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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There have been some negative vibes on social media after speculation turned to AJ Styles facing Shane McMahon at WrestleMania. While I agree, a Styles-Bray Wyatt match for the World Championship would have been awesome, there's nothing wrong with facing the boss's son on the biggest night of the year.

Crashing onto Undertaker
Courtesy: WWE
Last year when Shane returned to Monday Night Raw and found himself placed into a Hell in a Cell match against the Undertaker, there were plenty of haters too. But Shane once again proved himself as a great performer who wasn't just calling in the match. At age 46 he did death-defying stunts that men half his age couldn't handle. He loves the family business and it's always shown.

In all likelihood, the match at this year's Mania won't be up for Match of the Year, but I have no doubt both Shane and AJ will rise to the occasion. This match should also give Styles an even higher profile within the company in the post-WrestleMania months ahead. In fact, I won't be surprised if he's champion by the end of the year. X-Pac, Kurt Angle nor the Undertaker suffered from having been in the ring against Shane O'Mac on a pay per view event. 

Shane listens, AJ complains
Courtesy: WWE
Wrestling fans are sometimes quick to poo-poo an idea or match without giving it a chance. I've fallen into this category too. But I am actually looking forward to this match and ultimately wish I was going to be in Orlando to see it in person.