Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Demolishing tag team history

Courtsey: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I've been a wrestling fan for more than 30 years. But from time to time I learn something new or relearn something I've forgotten about the business. The most recent lesson came earlier this week when WWE proclaimed The New Day as the longest reigning WWE tag team champs. Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi Kingston have held the titles since SummerSlam 2015 (338 days to date). 

Courtesy: WWE
While I'm a huge fan of the New Day, I questioned WWE's math and history skills, remembering that at WrestleMania IV in 1988 Demolition beat Strike Force for the gold and defended the belts a year later at WrestleMania V and remained champs until the fall of 1989. The total: 478 days. I also discovered in my research that the Valiant Brothers held the gold for 370 days. Both reigns are longer than The New Day's time as champs.

But then I read the fine print. WWE in 2002 established the WWE tag team champions. Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit won those titles when the first brand extension happened. By 2010 the company retired the World Tag Team champion and the belts that were held by Ax and Smash.

The New Day
Courtesy: WWE
So technically speaking, it's true. The New Day are the longest reigning WWE tag team champions. But if you're a history and a fool for old school like me, the overall longest set of tag team title holders in WWE are in fact Demolition. #TheMoreYouKnow

Let them eat squash

Nia Jax in action
Courtesy: WWE
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

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Monday Night RAW ushered in the new era of the brand separation with something wrestling fans haven’t seen in awhile. No, I’m not talking about a show that was pretty much entertaining the entire time. RAW saw the return of squash matches. 

Braun Strowman taking care of business
Courtesy: WWE
Nia Jax made her main roster debut squashing Britt Baker in the first hour of the show. Later in the show, Braun Strowman, making his first appearance separated from the Wyatt Family, demolished the pretty fly for a white guy jobber, James Ellsworth. Both matches combined were 11 minutes shorter than the shortest match on the show. 

I’ve seen some comments online about how the squash matches exposed there’s not enough talent to have two separate brands.  Now, I don’t know the wrestling history of the people making these comments. If they are fans that became fans during the Attitude Era or later, I can understand not understanding the purpose of a squash match. For wrestling fans that remember life before the Monday Night War, squash matches were the majority of matches on television. 

Big Cass & Enzo vs. The Shining Stars
Courtesy: WWE
I think bringing back squash matches is an idea that is way past due. Using the matches from Monday night, new talent got to look impressive without sacrificing the credibility of any other wrester on the roster.  For example, later in the show Enzo and Big Cass fought the Shining Stars. It’s probably safe to say given the way the Colons were presented before and after they make Los Matadors, fans don’t see the Shining Stars as credible threats to any other tag team on the WWE roster. If WWE wants to push the Shining Stars as potential tag-team champions, they’ve got a lot of damage control to do before fans will accept them as anything other than a jobber tag team. 

Obviously WWE can’t have every match on the show be a squash, however utilizing two or three matches per show is not only a solid way to establish talent, it will also help stretch out feuds. Instead of seeing Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn fight each other week after week, KO can squash some unknown local talent then run down Sami in a post match promo.  

The brand split is still fresh so who knows if the current changes will last more than a month. Right now though, I am on board with the changes I’ve seen so far. If WWE would get rid of the opening 15-minute in-ring promo, I think they’ve got all the tools to make me interested in their shows again. If they revert back to their old ways, well, I’ll be hoping at some point “Broken” Matt Hardy will show up and delete them all.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Grandma's potato salad recipe

Brooke & Memaw making potato salad
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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It's summer time and one of my favorite side dishes is potato salad. Growing up, I hated potatoes, but now I love them. Sweet potatoes especially, but that's not the point of this post. This is a recipe my Grandma Bresler had for potato salad. It's great for taking to picnics, barbecues and summer gatherings. My mom and daughter made some up recently. I need to do it too so four generations can be involved in the process.

Finished product

Grandma's Potato Salad

5 pounds of red potatoes
8 hard boiled eggs
1 onion, chopped
6 to 8 celery stalks, chopped
1 pound of bacon, fried crisp (or a package of "real" bacon bits)
1 jar of mayonnaise (we use Duke's or Miracle Whip)
Salt & pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes with the skin on until they're tender. Let the potatoes cool and then peel and cut into pieces. After the eggs have boiled, let them cool. Peel and cut and add to the potatoes. 

Add the chopped onion, celery, bacon and mayonnaise and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately or put it in the fridge and let it cool.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Battleground predictions

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Battleground is just a few hours away and will serve as a send off for several Superstars prior to heading to their new shows. We know the Club will no longer include AJ Styles and the new threesome of John Cena, Enzo and Big Cass is over too. Here are my picks for the show. Be sure to listen to the analysis of Battleground on the My 1-2-3 Cents podcast.

Dean Ambrose will retain the WWE Championship only to have Stephanie McMahon present Seth Rollins with the World Heavyweight Championship the next night on Raw. The only way the brand extension can truly work is to have two separate heavyweight champions. At one point I was for just one champ, but if WWE is going all in on the split two champs have to be the way they do it.

Sasha Banks and Nia Jax will beat Charolette and Dana Brooke. Bayley won't be the mystery partner. Sasha will keep the feud with Charolette going strong and the two will face off at SummerSlam. There's no need to throw Bayley into that mix just yet. 

The Miz will retain the Intercontenial title against Darren Young. I just don't see Young as IC champ material, but that's not to say he can't or won't be one day. I do like the pairing with Bob Backlund. Time will tell.

Rusev will beat Zack Ryder. I love Zack, don't get me wrong. But WWE has yanked him around so many times in the past he's not a credible threat to the monster heel Rusev. He needs to stay strong and face stiffer competition at SummerSlam next month. 

The Club and AJ Styles will beat John Cena, Enzo and Big Cass. I'm breaking my own "never beat against Cena" rule. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson can carry on with the feud against Enzo and Cass on Raw and Cena and AJ can wrap things up against each other at SummerSlam on the SmackDown Live side of things.

I like the Becky Lynch-Natalya feud going on right now. Since they're both on SmackDown Live, I'd add the stipulation that the winner of this match becomes the number one seed in the tournament for SDL women's championship, because like I said earlier there needs to be two sets of champs.

The New Day will beat The Wyatt Family. My only reasoning for this is my assumption the Family as we know it is splitting up. Braun Strowman is going to Raw and Erick Rowan and Bray Wyatt will be on SmackDown Live. Plus as the tag team champions, I'd like to see New Day going into the SummerSlam storyline looking stronger.

Despite saying the match is their final battle, I see more life in the Sami Zayn-Kevin Owens feud. I'd rather see this culminate at WrestleMania and if WWE doesn't wait that long than Hell in a Cell with Zayn winning and finally breaking that 'underdog' stature.  

The Usos will win against Breezango. I'm not sure WWE is firmly behind Fandango and Tyler Breeze just yet.

I'm probably mostly wrong with these predictions, which isn't a bad thing. I like when WWE comes up with things I'm not thinking.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Careers saved by tag team wrestling

Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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So far I'm pleased that most of the established tag teams in WWE will remain intact after the draft. Of course general managers could split up some of the duos as Chad suggested during our podcast and have the Ascension and the Usos pursue singles careers. 

Selfie time
Courtesy: WWE
I'm particularly glad to see that Breezango was drafted together and Fandango and Tyler Breeze will at least for now continue to function as a team. When both men were brought up from NXT to the main roster, I had high hopes for them. After very short lived pushes each seemed to get lost in the shuffle.

A couple months ago new life was breathed into their careers when they were put together as a team. While I'm not sure they'll become tag team champions, Breezango is no doubt getting more attention from creative than they were as individuals. There have been other floundering singles Superstars saved by getting a partner.

Oh you didn't know?
Courtesy: WWE
The best example of this is the Road Dogg and Billy Gunn. Billy was transitioning out of The Smoking Gunns team and tried a solo career as RockaBilly with the Honky Tonk Man as his manager. The gimmick fell flat. Road Dogg meanwhile had departed Jeff Jarrett as the Roadie and really hadn't done much. In fact I don't really remember him doing anything until the angle with Billy started.

New Age Outlaws
Courtesy: WWE
When the two first teamed up I didn't think it was a good pairing. Then The New Age Outlaws beat the Legion of Doom for the WWF tag team titles and I thought the powers that be had lost their minds. The Road Warriors, one of wrestling's greatest tag teams of all time, had just lost the gold to a couple of midcard no names. It reminded me of when Steve Regal (not William) and Jimmy Garvin beat the Warriors for the AWA straps 12 years earlier. But this was the start of something big and the Outlaws have gone down as one of the most beloved and awarded tag teams in the history of the business. Joining DX didn't hurt with them getting over either.

New Day Rocks!
Courtesy: WWE
The current tag team champions, The New Day fit into this category too. Kofi Kingston was on the brink of breaking through to the main event scene but for some reason was derailed along the way. He quickly slipped into the land of the lost. Big E showed potential as a heel, but when he turned face he too got lost in the shuffle. Xavier Woods was working hard to make a name for himself. Then these three Superstars in search of an identity came together and the rest is wrestling history. I never imagined New Day would be as wildly popular as they are. The merchandising alone will put them in the books as some of WWE's greatest Superstars. After all, what other Superstar has had their own cereal? 

What singles stars have you seen saved by becoming a tag team competitor?

Friday, July 22, 2016

I made it on The Rock's YouTube channel...

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I have been waiting on pins and needles for nine days to find out if I was one of 32 finalists in the Rock the Promo contest on the Rock's YouTube channel. Contestants had to submit a 45 second video with a character and make certain points in their promo. The field was narrowed to the final 32 which were revealed earlier today on YouTube. As I watched the video I got excited for a minute when a quick cut of my character made it on screen. But I was part of the rejects, much like the early episodes each season on American Idol.

My character is one I've actually been wanting to introduce to the My 1-2-3 Cents supporters for some time. His name is LuchaDad. Up until now I had no creative way to make that happen. But thanks to the Rock's contest, LuchaDad and his 10 year old LuchaDaughter are out in the open. Doing this forced me out of my comfort zone (yes I have one believe it or not) and has got my creative wheels spinning for future projects. My 45 second submission is below.

I chose the bathrobe instead of a fancy wrestling robe because I'm a dad. I told a cheesy "dad joke" thanks to my high school friend Jodi for that one. And I used the belt as my intimidating look because who didn't fear a belt spanking as a child? The Padre Island reference is to keep with the dad/Latino gimmick I'm working. 

While I didn't make it into the top 32, I did make it onto the Rock's YouTube channel which not many people will likely ever be able to say. Take a look at the others involved, my one second of fame comes in at 1:28 on the video below. Thanks to the Rock and his team for the opportunity and for using part of my video in the montage. Also thanks to my "LuchaDaughter" for being such a good sport. Also good luck to the final 32!

Finally making an impact

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

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Towards the end of episode 87 of the My 1-2-3 Cents podcast, I stated Impact Wrestling has been on a roll lately and encouraged listeners to give Impact another chance. Based on this week’s (7/21) episode, I stand by that assessment. Coming off the criticism I’ve leveled at Impact (and yes, I prefer to say Impact instead of TNA) over the past four years on this blog, if I’m now giving Impact credit, it’s done because I firmly enjoy the product.

I don’t know what’s changed since Impact moved from Destination America to Pop earlier this year but the company seems more focused with specific plans in place. Impact has lost several wrestlers over the past year which now seems to be a blessing more than a curse. The loss of top level talent such as Bobby Roode, Austin Aries and Bully Ray, created spots for fresh new talent to take the ball and run. Drew Galloway and Ethan Carter III have been on point to where one has to wonder why WWE didn’t do anything productive with either guy when they were with the company. The biggest shock to me though has been Bobby Lashley.

Courtesy: Impact Wrestling
During Lashley’s run in WWE and his first run on Impact, I thought he was nothing more than a jacked up muscle head. Over the past month though something has clicked with him both in the ring and on the mic that engages me when he’s on TV. His current run as badass champ who’ll fight all challengers has me curious to see who’s next.

The Bromans
Courtesy Impact Wrestling
Impact has also done a decent job of re-building the X-Division and Tag Team Division. The mid-card also features fresh talent who if given a chance, I think can become long term players. Most off all, as I mentioned earlier, there seems to be long term planning to story lines. There’s not as much just throw something at the wall and see what sticks then do something different next week.

The Knockouts
Courtesy: Impact Wrestling
The Knockouts Division features a mix of new and established talent who are all doing a good job to keep the women’s revolution going. I would like to see more talent brought in, as right now there are only five competitors.

"Broken" Matt Hardy
Courtesy: Impact Wrestling
Shockingly the biggest asset to Impact right now is “Broken” Matt Hardy. When Matt first started with the "Broken"character, I doubt anyone saw potential in what he was doing. Now, maybe because it’s so different or just so out there and Matt plays it 100% serious, I can’t wait to se what he’ll do week after week in his quest to belittle and rule over the “Obsolete Mule” Brother Nero (Jeff Hardy). I will also stand by my critique the WWE ripped off Matt and Nero’s “Final Deletion” match with the compound battle between the New Day and Wyatt Family. Only WWE’s version wasn’t half as entertaining.

Of course not everything Impact is doing is praise worthy. They still run too many gimmick matches for my taste. My personal dislike of the American Wolves also has me wishing Davey Richards’ recent injury had lasted longer. Although I will give credit to Eddie Edwards for his matches against Bobby Lashley the past two weeks as being two really good title vs. title bouts.

Overall, Impact still has some areas to improve as no company will ever be 100% perfect. Compared to Impact from 2012-2015 though, 2016 Impact is quickly become my must see wrestling show of the week. I hope I haven’t just jinxed them. I don’t know what’s going on backstage and I don’t care. I’m enjoying the product on the TV screen and at the end of the day that’s the most important thing.