Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Power of Nostalgia

Kevin Hunsperger @kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter Listen to the podcast  Follow my blog with Bloglovin

January 11, 1993-- I remember it well. I was a sophomore in college and ten years into my wrestling fandom. Over Christmas break, I watched the last of the Prime Time Wrestling shows, a program I had enjoyed for about a decade. Now it was time for something new, Monday Night Raw. 

It's hard to believe that was 30 years ago. Now, at 49 years old, I am still a fan, but I still need to become more committed to watching each week. Having cut the cable cord years ago, I have only had a few opportunities to watch Raw live. However, I located a feed of the special anniversary show via TikTok. 

From the opening segment, featuring the face of 80s wrestling, Hulk Hogan, to the final bell with long-time attraction Brock Lesnar, the show was packed with everything a nostalgic fan like me craves. Ric Flair, DX, Kurt Angle, Undertaker, and others. Memories from the past three decades flooded back. My favorite current storyline featuring The Bloodline provided even more entertainment. I can't wait to see how it all plays out, as I've seen plenty of conflicting theories. 

Sometimes fans of the current product frown upon the dusting off of Legends and allowing them to 'humiliate' the existing talent that's there week after week. That was the case with Raw is XXX (30, not pornographic). The Legends were used appropriately and helped give the rub to modern Superstars like Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins, the Street Profits, and even LA Knight. 

Sure the latter was choke slammed by the Undertaker, but I still believe that being in the ring with someone the caliber of the Deadman (or Biker in last night's case) goes a long way. These moments provided feel-good moments for fans (I especially enjoyed it after a not-so-great day). 

Even though The Rock, 'Stone Cold,' nor Vince McMahon were there, as many had speculated, I believe Raw is XXX was a great show that flowed well. I'm even more stoked now for Saturday's Royal Rumble and the unpredictability that event will bring. 

What are your thoughts? Let me know!

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Being Good is Bad: 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff

By Kevin Hunsperger @kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter Listen to the podcast  Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Sometimes being good is bad for a wrestler's character. It's like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Such is the case with 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff.

The build-up to the first WrestleMania in 1985 involved the trio of Orndorff, 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper, and 'Cowboy' Bob Orton. These three were perhaps the most hated men in the WWF. They picked on pop star Cyndi Lauper, Dick Clark, Capt. Lou Albano and many other good guys and celebrities were involved in the infamous Rock 'n Wrestling Connection.

When it finally came to a head at the War to Settle the Score, and Mr. T stepped up to help Hulk Hogan, the main event was set for the upcoming WrestleMania show. Piper and Orndorff would team up to battle the Hulkster and Mr. T. 

We all know that Orton hit Orndorff with his cast during the match, and Hogan scored the victory for his team. I was 12 years old then, and the idea of a babyface, Mr. Wonderful, was, in fact, wonderful news to me. I loved that he and Hogan were teaming up and taking on the likes of Piper, Orton, Adrian Adonis, and the other villains that terrorized the WWF good guys. 

But in the summer of 1986, Orndorff had had enough of being a good guy and, in dramatic fashion, attacked Hogan during a tag team match with King Kong Bundy and 'Big' John Studd, members of the Heenan Family. This led to a reconciliation with Bobby Heenan, and Orndorff embarked on a fantastic feud for the rest of 86 and into 1987 against Hogan. At that point, he came closer than any other Superstar to winning the WWF Championship during that classic cage match on Saturday Night's Main Event.

By this point, I was siding with Orndorff in his battles with Hogan. Perhaps I had grown tired of Hulkamania too, but it wouldn't be long before I'd embrace it again. 

My point to all of this is that I did love the good guy 'Mr. Wonderful', but I don't think it fits with his persona. So turning bad again the following year made him even better. In hindsight, I liked Orndorff more during his second heel run. Eventually, the most hated guy in the company, Piper, turned good. This all worked on many levels and was a win-win for the fans. 

For some reason, in 1987, they did the face turn again. By this point, Orndorff was nearing the end of his tenure with the WWF and would be gone by the end of that year. He popped back up in WCW years later, where he remained a bad guy throughout his in-ring tenure. 

Being that cocky and calling himself 'Mr. Wonderful' is what being a fantastic bad guy is all about. He was next level during that 1986 run. I miss that era and Paul Orndorff. 

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Celebrating a Dozen Years!

By Kevin Hunsperger @kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter Listen to the podcast  Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Greetings on what is the 12th anniversary of the My 1-2-3 Cents brand. Over the past year, I've neglected my blogging duties, with the last post on this page happening in October 2021. 

What can I say, other than life happens, and sometimes the things we deem so important fall by the wayside? The My 1-2-3 Cents brand though has not been neglected. I drop a new podcast each Monday morning (at midnight CST). The YouTube channel still gets some love from time to time, but my passion for writing has waned for some reason. 

Part of that can be attributed to the fact that I am creating new content daily on the job and working on the other aspects of the My 1-2-3 Cents brand. I burned myself out a few years ago when I embarked on a blogging streak. I did the same thing with my run streak of 1,004 consecutive days of running. The blog streak reached 897 days. 

Now, I'm back. At least in my mind, I am. I will use this platform to cover topics I don't get to on the podcast, YouTube, or my TikTok. I do try to keep wrestling themes going there as well. Check me out, @kevin_hunsperger. 

What're Your 1-2-3 Cents? Do you still read blogs? I appreciate your support through the past dozen years and look forward to continuing to evolve and provide different types of wrestling-related content. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Mt. Rushmore: Wrestlers I've Met

Kevin Hunsperger @kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter Listen to the podcast  Follow my blog with Bloglovin

After a delay, the My 1-2-3 Cents Mt. Rushmore is back. The last blog I wrote on the subject was the bucket list of wrestlers I'd like to meet. This time, it's about the top four wrestlers I've met. I have had the good fortune of meeting many wrestlers through the years, so I am narrowing this down a bit by only naming wrestlers that I've had conversations with and not just a meet-and-greet experience. 

Bobby "The Brain" Heenan is one of my all-time favorite personalities in wrestling and, without a doubt, the greatest manager of all time. In 1998, when I was a young reporter (two months of experience), I was able to get access to a WCW Thunder in Huntsville, Alabama. While there, I interviewed Goldberg (just into the streak), Ray Traylor, Buff Bagwell, and Bobby Heenan. It was a great come true. Our interaction was probably about five minutes or so, but it meant the world to me. I never in my wildest dreams imagined such an opportunity would present itself to me. 

When TNA Wrestling came to southern Illinois for a BaseBrawl event, I reached out to get a wrestler on the morning newscast I co-anchored. I was excited to learn that D'Lo Brown would be filling that role. We chatted before his appearance and after as well. D'Lo even gave me his number. We've actually texted a few times, which to me is surreal. But what really impressed me was when I was in Las Vegas back in 2018 and trying out for a gig with Impact Wrestling, D'Lo was there and remembered me by name. A great guy and one of the most underrated wrestlers of all time. 

Jeff Jarrett and I first met in 2011 at that above-mentioned BaseBrawl event. However, it was a brief encounter, and a few years later, Double J returned to southern Illinois to promote another wrestling event at the ballpark, but this time with Global Force Wrestling. Jeff and I chatted before our interview and after and also indulged me with a selfie. He also bestowed me with the privilege of announcing one of the matches the night GFW came to town. Listening to the My World Podcast that he hosts often reminds me of how laid-back he met. A class act all the way. 

Of course, I can't have this list without adding PAC to it. I've told the story many times, but here's the short version. We met for the first time at an AAPW event called Main Event in January 2012. Then crossed paths at WrestleMania Axxess in 2014 and at an autograph signing in 2016 (he remembered me by name both times). He's a great guy, and I wish him nothing but continued success in the ring. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Mt. Rushmore: My Bucket List


By Kevin Hunsperger @kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter Listen to the podcast  Follow my blog with Bloglovin

There are a lot of wrestlers or personalities involved with the business that I've wanted to meet. I have had the good fortune of meeting several greats through the years. Some were through my job, some were for the podcast, and others were at meet-and-greet events. 

Ric Flair has been my favorite for a long, long time. I had the opportunity to see him wrestle when he was the NWA Heavyweight Champion in the 80s, during his first WWF run in 1991, and his retirement match in 2008 against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 24. All of those times and not once have I had a chance to meet Naitch.

Now that he's left WWE, I suspect Slick Ric will do more traveling and events. I'm hoping that the stars align and I can attend one of those events and meet Flair. I would love to get a pic with him sometime in 2022. Woooo! 

The Rock is not just one of my favorite wrestlers, but I also enjoy his work on the big and small screens. The closest I've come to meeting the 'Great One' is when I posed with his wax statue at Madame Tussauds in Hollywood back in 2011. How great would it be to spend a few minutes with him and getting a photo with the real deal? I know the odds of this are highly unlikely, but I'll continue to remain hopeful. 

'Stone Cold' Steve Austin is one of the all-time greats. Twenty-five years ago this summer, he set the world on fire with his Austin 3:16 speech. 

Since I'm fantasy booking this, I'd love to sit down with him and have a cold Broken Skull IPA or two with him. Not only was he great in the ring, but he's also really given his career new life as the host of the Broken Skull Sessions on Peacock and the WWE Network.

Finally, and probably an even bigger long shot than the Rock, Vince McMahon. The man who is responsible for the development of 'sports entertainment' for the past 40+ years. Love or hate the current product, McMahon remains a massive influence on the business today. I visited the outside of WWE Headquarters in 2013 ahead of WrestleMania 29. But no luck finding the Chairman, maybe next time... 

Who is on your Mt. Rushmore Bucket List? 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Mt. Rushmore: Gone Too Soon

Kevin Hunsperger @kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter Listen to the podcast  Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Wrestling has had more than its share of losses through the years. This week, on the Mt. Rushmore blog, a look at four wrestlers who left us way too soon. Obviously, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of wrestlers, announcers, and managers I wish were still with us. Also, I'd like to thank Jittery Monkey Podcasting Network founder Greg Mehochko for this idea. 

Kerry Von Erich was my first favorite pro wrestler. When I first saw him wrestle Ric Flair in late 1982 inside a steel cage, I was sold on pro wrestling. He and his brothers ruled the ring in World Class Championship Wrestling. In early 1984, big brother David died unexpectedly, and Kerry later beat Flair for the NWA Championship. That remains one of my favorite moments in wrestling.

He'd later wrestle for the WWF, and shortly after that run, he ended his own life. It was a tragic ending to a string of tragedies the Von Erich family faced. I remember reading the news of Kerry's death in the newspaper in my college library. Someone on my floor had told me the news, which I didn't believe. Remember, this was pre-internet, so I had to read all about it in the newspaper.  

Yes, Kerry battled demons. You'll see a few others on this list did as well. Kerry was only 33. I'd like to think he had at least another decade in him, had he stayed healthy. We have the legacy of his nephews, Marshall and Ross, and his daughter Lacey who have all contributed to the business. 

Eddie Guerrero is someone  I admittedly did not appreciate enough when he was alive. Yes, I thought he was an amazing wrestler. First, really seeing him in action in ECW. His time in WCW and WWE made him a household name. I never dreamed he'd be the man to beat Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship, but he did it, and despite his brief reign, he made a lasting impression.

I was stunned when I went into work in 2005 and learned the news that Eddie had died. His star was still shining so brightly. At just 38, I figured he had at least another run or two as World Champion in him. I have no doubt he'd still be involved in the business in some capacity today. Viva La Raza!

Owen Hart's death may be the most tragic in wrestling history. I listened in shock to Jim Ross tell us that Owen had fallen and a short time later that he had died from his injuries. It made no sense, and I couldn't wrap my brain around it.

While wrestling as the Blue Blazer, Owen was likely to win the Intercontinental Championship the night of his death. There are plenty of stories that Owen had intended to retire from the ring in a few years. I believe had he lived and continued to wrestle, he would have had at least one run at the top of the mountain. 

Brian Pillman was someone that caught my eye during his time in Stampede. I read about him in the Apter mags, and a short time later, he ended up in WCW as Flyin' Brian. His character development was as amazing as his skills inside the ring.

I loved it when Brian showed up in the WWF in 1996 and looked forward to him being healthy enough to wrestle full-time again. In fact, I was in the crowd at In Your House Badd Blood in St. Louis in October 1997. However, they never announced to the crowd that Pillman had died, just that the match wasn't happening. I got the news the next morning after calling a wrestling hotline. I was crushed.

I'm happy to see Brian Pillman, Jr. is tearing it up in the ring. I have no doubt his father is smiling down and so very proud.  

As far as honorable mentions, I have to add Gino Hernandez and Brodie Lee to the conversation. I hated Gino when I was a kid as he was a huge foil for the Von Erichs, but I know he was a great performer with the benefit of hindsight, and I believe he would have been a huge star in WCW or WWE eventually. And we just lost Brodie Lee last year as he seemed to reach new heights of popularity in the ring. His potential was finally being realized at the time of his death.

It is hard saying goodbye to our heroes. They're gone but not forgotten. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Mt. Rushmore: SummerSlam Main Events

By Kevin Hunsperger @kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter Listen to the podcast  Follow my blog with Bloglovin  

SummerSlam makes its return this Saturday, so I thought, what better topic for this week's Mt. Rushmore than my favorite SummerSlam main events. Please note I said my favorite vs. the best because I think those are two very different things. My list, as you will soon see, is built mostly on nostalgia. 

Courtesy: WWE

John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan (2013):
This match, I realize, is probably a happy accident in terms of how it all played out. Daniel Bryan, my favorite wrestler of that era, was finally getting some main event love. Sure, he'd been the World Champion earlier, but I felt like he was truly over now, and the powers that be seemed to be on board.

He challenged John Cena to a great match for the WWE Championship and ends up winning. I was pumped until Randy Orton comes out to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase. Triple H, who was the special guest referee, double-crossed Bryan, and Orton won. Of course, the underdog prevailed in the end, winning the undisputed championship six months later at WrestleMania XXX (a match I was there to see). 

Courtesy: WWE

British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart (1992):
My all-time favorite tag team is the British Bulldogs. In the 80s, that duo feuded with the Hart Foundation. The matches were incredible. Fast forward a few years, and now Davey Boy Smith and his brother-in-law Bret Hart are feuding for the Intercontentinal Championship. Both men were good guys, but that didn't stop them from bringing out all the stops.

Hart and Smith closed the show at Wembley Stadium. It was the first and only time in SummerSlam history that the event was held overseas and that the IC Title match was in the main event. Bulldog got the victory in this hard-fought match. Unfortunately, his reign and his time in WWE were cut short, but that doesn't take away from this incredible matchup. 

Courtesy: WWE

The Mega Powers vs. The Mega Bucks (1988):
 I can't leave off the first SummerSlam main event. This was reffed by Jesse 'the Body' Ventura and featured the new WWF champ Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan teaming up against Andre the Giant and 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase. It was a solid main event for the inaugural event. 

The match ends with Elizabeth showing off her legs and distracting the Mega Bucks. It was great storytelling as the seeds were being planted for the eventual breakup of the Mega Powers, which would culminate at WrestleMania V.

Courtesy: WWE

Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Mustafa, and Gen. Adnan (1991):
What an awesomely bad main event this was. It's the era I grew up in. I have to pick it. I loved this time and everything that was going on in the WWF at the time. Newcomer Sid Justice had just arrived and was the referee for the match. Ric Flair was being talked about coming in at the time. I was so stoked.

But yes, the match quality here was low, but it was fun. As a fan, I had no clue about the tension with the Warrior at the time. Little did we know that would be the last time we'd see him for six months until WrestleMania VIII. As I write this, I'm noticing many connections between SummerSlam and WrestleMania... go figure.

So what are your favorites? I think John Cena and Roman Reigns will close the show this year and do an excellent job.