Saturday, August 18, 2018

SummerSlam 2018 predictions

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I have not shown WWE much love on this blog in quite some time. It's not because I'm not digging the current product, but life is moving way too fast right now and I simply do not have the time to invest in three hours of Raw, two hours of SmackDown Live and an hour of NXT each week. I have kept up with storylines and try to watch most or all of the pay per views still.

That being said, I wanted to spend today's blog on SummerSlam. It's hard to believe this event started 30 years ago. I was a sophomore in high school and remember talking to a friend of mine in the locker room about the results. He had seen it, I had not. I was disappointed that my favorite at that time the Honky Tonk Man (yes, it's true) had gone down in defeat to the Ultimate Warrior, losing the Intercontinental Championship in 31 seconds. 

Fast forward to 2018 and SummerSlam is still thrilling the WWE Universe. This year's event promises to be a compelling one and as I write this, it will be the first SummerSlam without one of these four men wrestling on the card: Bret Hart, Undertaker, Triple H and John Cena. I'm not sure what that means for wrestling, but it tells me it's time to keep moving forward and creating new Superstars. So here are my quick picks for this year's SummerSlam, keeping in mind my viewing habits.

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Andrade "Cien" Almas & Zelina Vega will beat Rusev and Lana.

The B-Team will retain the Raw Tag Team Titles against The Revival.

Drew Gulak will win the Cruiserweight Championship.

Nakamura retains against Jeff Hardy (maybe Randy Orton gets involved in this too).

Charlotte Flair turns on Becky Lynch to win the SmackDown 
Women's Championship.

I'd like to see Daniel Bryan and The Miz end in a no-contest to keep this feud brewing.

Seth Rollins will beat Dolph Ziggler to reclaim the IC Title. Ambrose will eventually turn on Seth, but not at SummerSlam.

Kevin Owens will end up with the Money in the Bank briefcase.

The Bludgeon Brothers will walk out with the SmackDown Tag Team Titles.

Finn Balor has got to beat Baron Corbin.

Ronda Rousey will beat Alexa Bliss by disqualification.

AJ Styles will retain the WWE Championship against Samoa Joe.

Roman Reigns will beat Brock Lesnar and moments later Owens will cash in his briefcase and walk out WWE Universal Champion.

I have zero percent confidence in any of these picks. I'd personally rather see Bobby Lashley win the Universal Championship but as you see he's not even on one of the biggest events of the year. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

No ring on this diamond

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Stride Pro Wrestling and Cape Championship Wrestling both got their starts in 2016. Stride began in March of that year in Marion, Illinois. CCW's start happened shortly after with shows primarily in Cape Girardeau. Both companies continue to grow and showcase some of the best independent talents in the country.

If you're a fan of both companies, you've likely seen some of the same talents on both rosters. Farmer Billy Hills, Roger Matheus, Sarah Summers and Joey O'Riley have competed in rings on both sides of the river. Dexter Roswell, Ace Hawkins and the late, great Red Daniels have also wrestled in both Cape and Marion.

But on Saturday (Aug. 18) there will be no wrestling, at least none planned as both companies go head to head on the softball diamond. Each promotion will have a team for a fundraiser softball game. All the proceeds that day will go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

Farmer is behind the effort. He tells me the day is packed with activities that fans can be involved in as well. The day starts at 10 a.m. with a family and friends home run derby. Then at 11, eight representatives from Stride and CCW will participate in a home run derby.

There's a lunch break from noon until one. Hotdogs and hamburgers will be sold at that time. A 90 minute, five-inning softball game will follow between family and friends and the main event for the day is scheduled to start around 2:30. That's the softball game pitting Stride against CCW.

Entry to watch the activities is free. To participate in the home run derby it'll cost a dollars. Three bucks get you on the family and friends team. To do both, it's five dollars. You can learn more about the day here. Remember it's a fundraiser and all being done in fun. The park is located at 413 N. Appleknocker Street in Cobden, Illinois.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

TatTuesday: Heath Hatton

Hatton's Star Wars tattoos

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

When I first met Stride Pro Wrestling's Heath Hatton in 2010 his tattoos were minimal. Fast forward eight years and Hatton's body is now the canvas to about 30 different tats. Most of them highlight his fandom for Star Wars. But there are others that have a deeper meaning. 

Lions and cross tattoos
Artist Darren Ashbaugh from Golgotha Tattoos has done most of Hatton's art. The lion and cub represent he and his daughter Jada. One thing that stands true about Hatton is his love for his daughter. He also has a cross with Jada's name on his chest, keeping her close to his heart at all times. 

Skull & snake
On his right arm, you'll find a snake and skulls. Hatton says he got those added because having your biggest phobias tattooed will keep those things away. Death and snakes are two things Hatton fears most. He tells me he's not afraid of dying, but of losing those he loves. 

Two people Hatton doesn't love: Tony Flood and J. Wellington Beauregard. He and Ax Allwardt, another guy he's had ups and downs with, will team up against Flood and 'J. Wells' on Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Free Fair Face Off in Carterville. See you there.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

We fought for Sarah

Photo courtesy: Jamie Woodworth-Myers
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Stride Pro Wrestling has had another successful event. This time it was for Sarah Miles-Keltner. She's a mother with three small children who is battling stage four cancer. Saturday night the men and women of Stride teamed up with Sarah's family and friends to put on an amazing night of independent wrestling. In the main event, Sarah's sister-in-law Kaleigh Miles and Heath Hatton beat Tony Flood and Sarah Summers. Kaleigh pinned Summers for the victory. 

Between the sponsors and the fans, more than $3,000 was raised for Sarah and her family. Big thanks to many, many people and businesses and if I forgot someone, let me know and I will add them to the list. 

Legence Bank
State Farm agent Nancy Braddock
Tison Financial Group
Brannon Insurance
Jim Hayes Inc. 
Hendrix Accounting & Tax Services
Eldorado High School
The Miles Family
The Keltner Family
Jerry Travelstead
Josh Plumlee
Heath Hatton
Tony Flood
Sarah Summers
Tony Wilson
AJ Kellis
TJ Kellis
J. Wellington Beauregard
Mr. Anthony
Brian Richards
Dexter Roswell
Jay Spade
Roger Matheus
Farmer Billy Hills
Chris Hargas
Cash Borden
Cole James
Daniel Eads
Arron Brooks
Scott Phoenix
Lane Austin
Sam Hunter
Jim Kelton 
Steve Belcher

Thank you all. It was a wonderful evening. Your support and generosity to the family will never be forgotten. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Wrestling is...

Some of the Stride crew
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Several years ago there was a movement in pro wrestling known as 'Wrestling Is...' I know I'm probably not going to articulate this part correctly, but Chikara Pro was behind the effort. I specifically remember Wrestling is Fun and Wrestling is Intense. In fact, I took my daughter to a WII show in Carbondale. I believe that might have been the last one as a group of rogue wrestlers came out at the end and destroyed everyone involved.

But that's not the point of this blog. Here's the real story. What is wrestling to you? To me, wrestling is a lot of things. It's fun. It's exciting. It's family. I've worked closely with three different wrestling companies here in southern Illinois. I've been a bit part of a couple of other ones. Each experience, I've grown close to those involved not only in the ring but behind the scenes.

Me and Lane Austin 
For more than two years now Stride Pro Wrestling has been a part of southern Illinois. The bond and brotherhood that has developed have been nothing short of amazing. I love pro wrestling for a number of reasons. As a fan, it's a form of escape. I get to step away from reality for a bit and lose myself in storylines. As a part of the Stride roster, there's still that chance to escape. But I also have the opportunity to be a part of something impacting the lives of others.

Courtesy: John Okerson
We get to give fans those moments that they'll remember for the rest of their lives. As a kid, I would have LOVED to have had an independent wrestling in or near my hometown. I love the looks on the faces of the kids when their favorites come out not just for a match put later to sign autographs and take photos. I'm humbled that some of these fans want my pic and autograph too. 

The other big aspect of indy wrestling is giving back. Stride Pro Wrestling has raised thousands of dollars for different groups and individuals in southern Illinois. Tonight (Saturday, Aug. 11) we do it again. Wrestling for Sarah is a big event for a young mother of three battling cancer. Sarah, Stride has your back. Tonight, we fight for you. Well, the men and women of the ring will fight, I'll be there to announce it. Be there tonight at 7 at Eldorado High School.

Friday, August 10, 2018

This underdog has bite

Now former Stride Champion Jay Spade
Courtesy: Steve Belcher

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Jay Spade has gone from an underdog to one of Stride Pro Wrestling's biggest names. He held the tag team title with Joey O'Riley before going solo and capturing the heavyweight championship not once but twice. He's the first man on the Stride roster to do so.

Factor in that he beat Roger Matheus for the belt, a man who is almost twice Spade's size. Spade has quieted all the doubters. Last week, Spade was on the losing end in a rematch against Tony Flood for the championship. That leaves his evening open for this weekend's Wrestling for Sarah fundraiser in Eldorado. 

One man has stepped up to that challenge. He's the resident loudmouth of Stride, Dexter Roswell. He is still on a mission to make Stride great again. Personally, I never thought Stride stopped being great, but I appreciate Roswell's ambition. Like Spade, Dexter has come a long way since making his debut nearly two years ago.

Scott Phoenix & Dexter Roswell
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
Roswell is one of the first graduates of the Stride Pro Wrestling training school. Spade was one of the instructors in the ring as Roswell was coming up. The DR Party leader has shown heart and determination in the ring. But it's often overshadowed by his underhanded tactics like choking opponents with his tie or members of his DR Party, including manager J. Wellington Beauregard interfering. However, Roswell had a run as a co-holder of the tag team titles in a 'Freebird Rules' type scenario with Brian Richards, Scott Phoenix and Aaron Edwards.

Regardless of what you think about the state of Stride Pro Wrestling right now (again, I think it's great) both Spade and Roswell will bring 110 percent to this match. Truth be told though, they already do that. I'm looking forward to this as Spade gets in there with younger talent and refocuses after a brilliant series of matches against Flood. Roswell gets the benefit of showing what he can do on his own in the ring and a chance to work with one of the best teachers out there. 

Again, bell time is 7 p.m. at Eldorado High School. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids. We look forward to raising lots of money for Sarah Miles-Keltner and her family. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Wraith: Silent and violent

Wraith vs. Farmer Billy Hills

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Since debuting on the Stride Pro Wrestling roster in January, Wraith has proven to be one of the most violent competitors here. He plowed through the other competitors in the Stride Cup tournament, betting established stars like Ace Hawkins and Jose Magnifico. Not only did he win the cup but also the Legacy Title. 

Ryzer and Wraith assault Arron Brooks
His defenses have included the likes of Farmer Billy Hills, James Ellsworth and Arron Brooks. The big man (err... ghost) has used his size and power against all of these foes. Wraith has also had some help in the form of Disciple Ryzer. 

This duo has become a dangerous combo on the Stride roster. Together they have inflicted pain and punishment on everyone they've faced including breaking Magnifico's ankle earlier this year. Most recently, Ryzer used the Stride Pro Wrestling championship belt to split open the head of former champ Jay Spade.

This Saturday night at the Wrestling for Sarah fundraiser, Wraith will defend against former tag team champion Scott Phoenix. Can the hair overcome the scare? (Okay, that was a bad joke...) And Ryzer finds himself going one on one with Farmer Billy Hills. Farmer has had issues with both Wraith and Ryzer in recent months, so I imagine this match will also be quite competitive. 

Remember, the show is Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Eldorado High School. Tickets are $10 at the door. See you there.