Monday, August 21, 2017

There's a new beast in town

Braun slams Brock
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I know Brock Lesnar defied the odds and retained his WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam 2017. But the post-show buzz is all about Braun Strowman, which really doesn't surprise me. He is one character I didn't give two sh!ts about in his Wyatt Family days, and even when he made the move to Raw I was still less than impressed. But then something clicked and I've become a fan.


Destroyed
Courtesy: WWE
Once again he has proven he's earned a spot in the main event. From his destroying of Roman Reigns repeatedly on Raw to the destruction of Lesnar at SummerSlam, Braun is the real deal. I'd love to see WWE hold off on a battle of the beasts one on one for WrestleMania, but the rumor is churning that Strowman will be the next contender to Lesnar. 

Because Reigns took the fall at SummerSlam, I'd assume he's the heir apparent to the Universal Championship. Again, this is an assumption and plans can change and I really hope they do. Going with that line of thinking, perhaps the feud between Strowman and Reigns resumes after WrestleMania. Again this is assuming they're holding off until April for the next title switch. In my 1-2-3 cents that transaction could have happened last night. But I knew with the stipulation of quitting WWE if that happened, Brock would retain. 


Beast mode
Courtesy: WWE
I will say whoever the chosen one eventually becomes, they'll get one hell of a rub when they win the championship. Unlike Seth Rollins in 2015 though the new champion needs to pin or force Lesnar to tap out. Not only does the belt need to be passed, but also the torch. Right now I'd rather that be Samoa Joe, with Braun Strowman a close second. That's something I never thought I'd say.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Wrestling with the Total Solar Eclipse


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

On Monday much of the country will be watching as the Total Solar Eclipse happens. It's the first time the U.S. has experienced a Total Eclipse since 1979. I live in southern Illinois, which is where the Eclipse's totality will be the most. It's been the buzz here for months now, so I figured why not look at some Eclipse related wrestling gimmicks through the years.


NXT Superstar Ember Moon most falls in line with the phenomenon. Not only does her name fit, but so does her finishing move, the Eclipse. It's a diving corkscrew stunner. The move is quite impressive. So is Moon. I really thought she was being groomed to be the one to end Asuka's impressive streak and historic NXt Championship reign. Even though she didn't capture the gold at NXT: Takeover, in my 1-2-3 cents Moon will be a major player on the main roster in the near future.

Konnan & Paul Diamond as Max Moon
Courtesy: WWE
Max Moon, no relation to Ember, was an out of this world Superstar who hit the scene in the early 90s. Konnan originally played the character, but after a contract dispute, Paul Diamond filled the role. Probably his biggest claim to fame was wrestling Shawn Michaels on the very first Monday Night Raw in 1993. By the way, that costume cost about $1,300 to make. The leather was equipped with electronics and pyrotechnic gun.

Sunny
Courtesy: WWE
Sunny has had her ups and downs in the wrestling world. But it's hard to ignore her contribution to the business. When the internet was born, so was Sunny's stardom. She held the distinction of being AOL's most downloaded woman of 1996. Sunny helped blaze the trail for other women in the business. Yes, she's had some controversial moments through the years, but the Hall of Famer made a difference in the business.

The Heavenly Bodies, Jimmy Del Ray, Jim Cornette & Tom Prichard
Courtesy: WWE
Another 90s creation I'm highlighting today: The Heavenly Bodies. Stan Lane and Tom Pritchard are the originals for this team. Jim Cornette was the force behind them at Smoky Mountain Wrestling. There have been several incarnations through the years and the team even ventured into WWE but Jimmy Del Rey had replaced Lane by then. The duo was good but never won the tag team gold, despite great matches with teams like the Rock 'n Roll Express, The Steiner Brothers and the Smoking Gunns. 

The Moondogs
Courtesy: WWE
Finally, the Moondogs get the nod in this Eclipse themed blog. Like the Heavenly Bodies, there have been several versions of the Moondogs. King and Rex were the originals and won the WWF tag-team titles in 1981. However, King left the company and was replaced by Spot. Eventually, the duo was used to put over other talents in the company. Their trademark tattered jeans and giant bones helped put them on the map too. 

These are the Eclipse related talents I came up with. Did I miss anyone? Comment here on the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

SummerSlam: Quick picks

SummerSlam 2017


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

SummerSlam 2017 is nearly here. This year's card is beyond stacked and overall the show should be pretty good. WWE has several great story lines developing right now and most of the time the wrestling is outstanding. So here are my quick picks for this year's event.

Brock Lesnar will retain the Universal Championship. I don't want that to happen, but with the stipulation added that if Brock loses he and Paul Heyman are done with WWE makes me think he'll live to fight another day as champ.

The buildup for the Shinsuke Nakamura-Jinder Mahal match was been weak in my 1-2-3 cents. I say Jinder remains champion, but not necessarily by beating Nakamura.

Depending on the status of Baron Corbin, I can see his match going with John Cena one of two ways. He rages at the former champ for costing him his MITB cash in, or Cena squashes Corbin. I'm not a Corbin fan, but if the company does want to go all in on him, taking out Cena and sending him to Raw is a bigger gesture than having him as champ.

"Demon" Balor avenges the Raw loss against Bray Wyatt. 

AJ Styles will retain the U.S. Championship against Kevin Owens, building new drama between Owens and Shane McMahon.

Please let Alexa Bliss retain against Sasha Banks. But I have a feeling the Boss will win.

Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins will capture the Raw Tag Team Championships from Sheamus and Cesaro.

I'd love for Natalya to win the SmackDown Live Women's Championship to lead into a feud with Charlotte, but I have a feeling Naomi will retain. And for the love of Pete, don't have Carmella cash in yet.

Randy Orton over Ruseve, duh.

Big Cass will beat the Big Show.

The New Day will retain the SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships against the Usos.

I want my guy Neville to win the Cruiserweight Championship back, but I have a feeling Akira Towza will hold on to the gold. Plus I like the Titus Brand gimmick they're doing. 

The Miz, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas will beat Jason Jordan and The Hardy Boyz. This will eventually lead to a Jordan Intercontinental Championship win. 

What are your picks this year? Unfortunately, I won't be up to watch the entire event. The Total Solar Eclipse peaks in our region and being a journalist, I couldn't take the day off as our coverage will be hardcore. Speaking of the Eclipse, Sunday's blog will be a wrestling tie into this big event.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Foreign Object Friday: Al Snow's head

Al Snow & Head
Courtesy: WWE


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

Al Snow has come a long way in the wrestling business. My first memories of him came from the Apter magazines and his time with Smoky Mountain Wrestling. I was in college at the time and didn't have access to SMW on TV. In 1995 he came to the WWF under a mask and competed as Avatar before joining the New Rockers as Leif Cassidy. 

After a brief run in ECW, the Al Snow character was born and with it a sidekick. It was simply a mannequin head that was affectionately referred to as Head. When Snow went back to WWE, he brought the gimmick with him as well as the J.O.B. Squad faction. Both he and Head had the words Help Me written backward on their foreheads. It was an entertaining gimmick that included a tag team run with Steve Blackman as Head Cheese. Also at one point, Walmart pulled the Snow & Head action figure from the shelf because it depicted "violence." 


Courtesy: WWE
Snow used Head from time to time in matches, including when he beat Hardcore Holly for the Hardcore Championship. But as Snow fell forward he found himself not on top of Holly for the pin, it was just Head laying across the prone champ's chest. WWF officials awarded the belt to Snow of course, but he believed Head was the real winner. Then Holly swiped Head and attacked Snow with it, prompting the champ to befriend a deer head.


Hanging at the show
Courtesy: WWE
This all led to a title match between Snow and Head. Holly stood by as special guest referee as Snow beat up Head with various objects. Snow eventually whacked Head with the one-eyed deer head and "pinned" his former partner and regained the gold. Eventually, the two reconciled, but Head was victimized by Prince Albert and was never seen again. Then, Pepper, the chihuahua came around and we all remember how that went... Pepper steak anyone?

Snow now has a new project underway, the CollarxElbow brand. You can check it out here. Very soon I will have a big announcement about my involvement with that project. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Should Daniel Bryan wrestle again: Yes! Yes! Yes! or No! No! No!

WrestleMania XXX
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Brie Bella was recently a guest From the Top Rope podcast along with her sister Nikki. During the interview, the discussion turned to Brie's husband, SmackDown Live General Manager, Daniel Bryan and whether he'll wrestle again. Remember he retired from the ring in 2016 following a series of concussions and medical concerns.

Brie said, "I told Bryan, ‘You do have a daughter, so always remember that. But if the doctors finally give you the green light,’ I say, ‘Go. Like this is your dream and passion. You have one life to live and I will never hold you back -- because I love to wrestle, and I would hate if someone told me you can’t do it. And if WWE doesn’t allow it, then I said, ‘Go somewhere else. It’s all on you.'"


A battle brewing with the Miz???
Courtesy: WWE
At one point, I was holding out hope that Bryan would be able to step back into the ring and wrestle again. He's definitely my favorite Superstar of the modern era. However, after listening to the discussion on the Pro Wrestling Unscripted podcast recently, in my 1-2-3 cents wrestling again may not be the best idea for the former WWE World Champion. 

As the hosts of the show pointed out, damage done to the brain is far harder to recover from than say neck or back injury like Shawn Michaels experienced in 1998. He was able to take a few years off and wrestle again for nearly a decade, returning in 2002. Despite undergoing experimental treatment, I'd be surprised if WWE doctors green light a return for Bryan.


Bryan in 2016
Courtesy: WWE
His doctors have said it's okay for him to return. But unlike WWE physicians, those giving Bryan the thumbs up don't necessarily face the legal pressures a publicly traded billion dollar company does. Besides, if WWE wasn't truly looking out for the health and well-being of Bryan, they'd totally book him to return. There's a ton of cash to be made for all sides with Bryan wrestling again. But it's simply not safe.

I never say never about anything in life, but especially about the wrestling business. The Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy may indeed be what it takes to repair the damaged area of Bryan's brain. It's relatively new, so maybe one day it'll be enough to convince the medical staff WWE employs to say 'come on back.'


Battling Randy Orton
Courtesy: WWE
However, I'm a realist and in my heart of hearts, in all likelihood the next time we see Daniel Bryan wrestle he'll be Bryan Danielson tearing it up on the independent scene. And that's something else to consider, he really needs to cut the intensity of his performances to truly gain some longevity in the business. I don't know if he has that in him to do. I would never want to be told I could never do something I love again, so I sympathize with his desire to wrestle again. It's important to weigh all the options and come up with an alternative because as we've learned before, life simply isn't fair.



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

BANKRUPT: Baron Corbin's MITB cash-in is a bust

The cash-in
Courtesy: WWE

By
Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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The odds were in Baron Corbin's favor. Of the 17 men who have won the Money in the Bank ladder match, 13 have successfully cashed-in and won the heavyweight championship. Corbin failed to do that with his cash-in against Jinder Mahal and joins the ranks for John Cena, Mr. Kennedy and Damien Sandow. I put Kennedy in that company because he lost the briefcase to Edge, but I digress...


Cena gets whacked
Courtesy: WWE
Regular readers of this blog and listeners to the My 1-2-3 Cents podcast know I'm no fan of Corbin. My blog before MITB this year was titled: My Pick for MITB is ABC (Anyone But Corbin). But I never expected him to fail in his attempt to cash-in. I also believed he would wait until Nakamura beat Jinder at SummerSlam and then win the title himself.


Pinned!
Courtesy: WWE
It's strange to me that the company was seemingly so high on Corbin since calling him up to the main roster. He won the Andre the Giant Memorial in his debut and then picked up MITB. It appeared they were grooming him for a top dog status. I didn't agree with it, but I had come to accept it. I wonder what happened. My first instinct is he must have pissed someone off backstage. Not just because he lost the opportunity but how quickly and cleanly he lost it. 

Some fans online have said it was too early for Corbin to win the gold. I agree with that assessment, but let's face it, the contract is valid for a year, so he still had 10 months. That's a lifetime in this business. Working with Cena at SummerSlam and adding some opponents like AJ Styles and Randy Orton would certainly have put him in a better position by the spring. But obviously, there wasn't a plan in place for that to happen.


The agony of defeat
Courtesy: WWE
Even though the character hasn't grown on me, I'm sympathetic to the fact that the guy has missed out on a golden opportunity. In my 1-2-3 cents, there is always a chance to grow and develop and turn me into a believer. Now I'm curious to see what happens with him and Cena Sunday at SummerSlam.



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ric Flair: The GOAT of the wrestling world


Ric Flair
Courtesy: WWE

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

I know to some people it's weird to be so obsessed with professional wrestling and even more strange to idolize the men and women in spandex. I can't tell you how many times I hear "You know it's fake, right?" I'm not going to defend my fandom here because I've done that before. Instead, I'm going to honor my all-time favorite professional wrestler Ric Flair.

Over the weekend "The Nature Boy" ended up in the hospital. As of this writing on Tuesday he had undergone successful surgery but is not out of the woods yet. Many times we wait until our heroes or even loved ones are gone before we honor them. I didn't want to make that mistake with Naitch.

As a young fan in the mid-80s, I hated Ric Flair like no one else. Outside of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, he was the hottest heel on my TV. When he wrestled my then favorite Kerry Von Erich (who still ranks pretty high with me), I booed loudly. I actually saw the two wrestle in person in St. Louis a year after Von Erich became NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Flair lived up to his "dirtiest player in the game" moniker and go himself disqualified that night, hence retaining the title.



Despite booing Ric when he was in there against my favorites, somewhere along the way I gained a ton of respect for the Nature Boy. I believe it was probably around the time the Four Horsemen were formed and I was starting to develop an eye for the bad guys. There was something about the way Ric Flair talked, walked, dressed and of course wrestled. He was a pompous ass, but I loved everything about it. 


Ric Flair in Cape Girardeau
In 1991 when he defected from WCW and signed with the WWF I was about as happy as I'd ever been with a "fed jumper." I saw him wrestle Piper live at a house show in December of that year. A month later, Flair defied the odds and won the Royal Rumble from position number 3. Not only did he win the battle royal, but also his first WWF(E) Championship.

I was sad to see his first run in WWE come to an end as soon as it did. I enjoyed his work in WCW as well but when he came back months after the company was sold, I popped big time. There couldn't have been a better foil for Vince McMahon in that time period than Naitch. Then when he agreed to wrestle again, it was even better. I was privileged to see him live at WrestleMania 22 and two years later at WrestleMania 24 in what would be his final match with the company.


Flair's final WWE match
Courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
That night was an emotional one for everyone at the stadium. For decades Ric Flair had entertained millions of fans. He put his body on the line taking bumps many others would decline to take. He bled gallons of blood. Sweated buckets of sweat. Cried a river of tears. And in a matter of three seconds, it was over.


Flair and the Undertaker
Courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
On a whim my buddy Chad and I got tickets to the send off show the next night on Raw. We watched in awe as many of our childhood favorites and current Superstars came out to pay homage to the Nature Boy. When Raw went off the air, the celebration continued and as much as I'll likely be judged for it, I found myself wiping the tears from my eyes in between my clapping. 

My love for Ric Flair carried over into my wedding plans. In 1997 after my wife and I said "I do," and we entered the reception area, 2001: A Space Odessy blasted as the emcee introduced the new Mr. and Mrs. Hunsperger to the guests. I let out a loud "WOOO!" as we made our way through the door. That was 20 years ago and my fondness for Naitch hasn't wavered a bit.


Wooo!
Courtesy: WWE
I've had opportunities at different WrestleCon events to meet Ric Flair. I regret not doing that when I could have. He remains at the top of my list of Legends I must meet at some point. So while I know Flair nor his family is reading this post, I feel better sharing my feelings about a man I truly respect and hope has a full recovery.