Thursday, May 5, 2016

Wrestler's Worth

Ryback
Courtesy: WWE

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter
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Tuesday morning of this week, word spread on the Internet that due to ongoing contract negotiations, Ryback was sent home before Monday Night Raw. Later on Tuesday, Ryback posted a statement on his Tumblr page explaining his side of the story. Basically it comes down to Ryback thinking all wrestlers should be paid essentially the same base level due to wrestling being a predetermined sport.

Damien Sandow
Courtesy: WWE
Ryback’s argument is since wrestling is predetermined, management and creative determine whom the top stars are instead of talent themselves dictating their status. Other sports can get away with a pay discrepancy because the athletes prove their own worth. If given the opportunity, a NFL team is going to pay Tom Brady more than Ryan Tannehill because Brady has proved himself to be a better cheater… I mean, better player. When it comes to wrestling though, has Roman Reigns proven himself to be better than Damien Sandow, or just given more chances at being in higher profile situations?

Roman Reigns
Courtesy: WWE
Sticking with the Reigns/Sandow comparison, right now Reigns is “The Guy” while Sandow is primarily missing in action. However if the two were to face off against each other, odds are Sandow would receive the bigger positive reaction.

Scanning the crowd, even if Sandow is getting more cheers, there will be more fans wearing Roman Reigns t-shirts. Why? Because the kiosk at the event probably doesn’t sell any Sandow shirts while stocking at least two different Reigns shirts.

Over the past 2-3 years, Sandow has been over with the crowd while being saddled with some less than stellar ideas. Instead of capitalizing on Sandow’s popularity and establishing him as a top player, he has routinely been taken off TV for stretches at a time.

Going back to Ryback’s argument, when their contracts are up for renewal, should Sandow be paid considerably less than Reigns? They’ve both done what has been asked of them by WWE. They’re on the road probably the same about of days per year. The only difference is Vince McMahon has determined Roman Reigns is the top guy.

Ryback vs. "Jay" Hatton
Courtesy: WWE
While I don’t think all wrestlers should be paid the exact same, seems too socialist to me, I do think Ryback has a valid point. Since WWE has eliminated the full time jobber position, some of the wrestlers they have under contract have to fill that position. But who decides which wrestlers are jobbers and which are Superstars? When the person signing the paycheck determines an employee’s status in the company, does it make sense to have an arbitrary pay scale?

Unfortunately I don’t think Ryback’s stance is going to change anything within WWE. Unless other wrestlers follow suit, WWE can easily have Ryback sit at home for the remainder of his contract and continue business as usual. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Cancer battles are not 'lost'

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Heavy subject for an otherwise lighthearted and fun blog.  But I have to share some thoughts on a subject I feel very passionate about.  We often hear in the media that a person "has lost their battle with cancer."  I hate the phrase and as a journalist I refuse to say or write it.  

Mighty Mouse
In less than two years, three of my friends have died from cancer.  All three of these women were 41 years old or younger.  The most recent I've known since grade school and she was nicknamed Mighty Mouse.  These women had husbands, children, loved ones, friends, students and patients who looked up to them.  Each of my friends were in a long and painful battle with this horrible disease.


Stewart Scott
I have had loved ones who have died from cancer too.  With their deaths I avoided that dreaded "lost the battle" summary of how they died.  Stuart Scott's speech during the 2014 Espy Awards reminded us all why people don't lose this battle. He said in part, "When you die, that does not mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live."


I don't view cancer or any other illness as a win-lose situation.  Saying one lost minimizes their battle.  As Stuart said, victory comes from how you live. I'm sad that the friends and loved ones who inspired me to write this blog are no longer here.  But I know they're no longer suffering.  They lived just like Stuart suggested and made the the most of their time here.  

No matter what battle you're facing you have three choices.  You can give up.  You can give in.  Or you can give it your all.  I encourage you to give it your all.  Let's love and encourage each other more.  Thanks.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April munching brings May crunching

Working out again at Gold's Gym (Marion)
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Not much has changed since my mid-April update on Operation Find My Abs.  I have however kicked up the visits to Gold's Gym and added some DDP Yoga back into my exercise routine.  I'm running more too, but as I've talked about before, it's not so much the exercise aspect that's holding me back.

My Coke Zero...
My problem is with eating.  After wrapping up trips to Disney World and Dallas for WrestleMania in March and early April, I've gotten back on a more stable eating pattern.  I haven't had fast food since returning, but sweets are still a big weakness for me.  I'm going to attempt to do a soda cleanse this month.  I love fountain Coke Zero, but I had cut back to drinking soda to just Fridays and Saturdays about two years ago.  I'm going to try to kick it for a month and see where I am after that.  Ironically one year ago today I ended a month-long soda fast.  I did in fact miss it.


The Craftbeericans
One thing I won't be giving up is the craft beer.  I've recently helped launch a new YouTube show called Craftbeericans where we drink a lot of craft beer.  It's fun and I'm learning a lot about the industry.  Plus I figure with making some other adjustments to my diet, I should be able to squeeze in a few beers each month.

How are things going for you?  I hope you're finding success in whatever avenues you're pursuing.  I'm hoping for the June post to have some visible changes.  I have dropped a few pounds, but don't feel like I'm adding any muscle.  We'll do a side by side pic and see if that's the case.  Good luck to everyone.

Friday, April 29, 2016

How I'd handle a WWE brand extension

Courtesy: vortexeffect.net
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Speculation has been running wild for a few weeks now that WWE will once again try the brand extension idea.  Years ago, I'll admit I didn't like the way it was executed.  But in 2016, it can work and here's how I'd do it.

NXT: Dallas
Courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
First off, my idea involves more than just Raw and Smackdown.  I am including NXT in my plan because let's face it, it's no longer a "farm league" for WWE.  That being said, I think the company can create yet another brand that would be strictly a developmental "territory" for up and comers.  But I'll save that for another blog.

WrestleMania 32
Courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
There would still be one WWE World Heavyweight champion.  He would defend his title on all three shows.  It would be like when I was growing up and World Class had a champion, as did Mid Atlantic, UWF and Central States.  Then the NWA World Heavyweight champion would visit those areas and defend his title.  I would do the same thing with the Women's and Tag Team champions.  When the title changes hands, the former champ goes to the show from which the new champion(s) came from.  Depending on the talent pool, this could lead to a secondary tag title and maybe even a women's tag team championship or secondary belt too.

WrestleMania 32
Courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
If and when the draft happens, I would not split up any of the current tag teams.  I feel like right now the division is finally getting some love.  The Intercontinental title would be defended exclusively on Raw, the U.S. title on Smackdown and the NXT title of course on NXT.  I'm still undecided on how to handle pay per views, but since the Network is available, there could be monthly specials for each brand.  The Big 4 could be talent from all three shows and feature a few "interbrand" matches.  For example a three-way Survivor Series match with the winning team getting the number 30 pick for the Royal Rumble or the majority of Superstars in the matchup.  

A brand extension can be beneficial to everyone involved.  Fans wouldn't get bored with the same Superstars headlining Raw and Smackdown every week.  Lesser used talents would get a chance to shine.  And with less weekly shows to be a part of, the injury risk would decrease.  I'm very excited about the future for WWE and I think Payback could spawn a new era for WWE fans.  *Fingers crossed*


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Nothing Compares 2 U

Prince at Madame Tussauds 
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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2016 has already been dubbed the year of the celebrity death.  We've lots a lot of greats in already including David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Patty Duke.  But on April 21 in the span of 12 hours we learned of the passing of former WWE star Chyna and megastar Prince.  You can see my thoughts on Chyna in the video below.  



Purple Rain
Like the rest of the world, I was stunned to hear about Prince's death.  I didn't even realize he had been sick with the flu.  The outpouring of memories online has brought back a flood of childhood memories.  I was nine when 1999 was released.  I enjoyed the music on that album, but Purple Rain was the most memorable.  I was in junior high by then and can remember school dances including Let's Go Crazy getting everyone pumped up and Purple Rain slowing things down (this is when I exited the dance floor).  Of course this was all in the MTV era and music video kept us entertained for hours at a time.

Raspberry Beret
A year later Around the World in a Day was released.  My favorite tune by Prince is on that album, Raspberry Beret.  I can't give a reason why, it's just so upbeat and fun and reminds me of good times.  He performed the music for the original Batman film in 1989 and kept things going into my college years with Diamonds and Pearls and Prince logo.svg.




I had forgotten he wrote many great hits for other performers, including Nothing Compares 2 U for Sinead O'Connor and Manic Monday for The Bangles.  I know we're not supposed to put celebrities on a pedestal, but it's hard not to be sad when people we grew up watching and listening to are gone.

Today we all really know what it sounds like when doves cry.  Rest in peace Prince.


Friday, April 15, 2016

I've been a fool in April

Kamala vs. WhattaBurger in Dallas
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I'm behind on blogging about Operation Find My Abs.  But to be honest I've fallen off the workout wagon and the healthier eating wagon.  It all started in mid-March with a Spring Break trip to Disney World.

The Mickey Mouse PB Cup
I'm not blaming my vacation on my poor choices.  There are healthy choices at the restaurants at the Happiest Place in the World.  For example one day I did get green beans as a side with my burger instead of french fries.  However, that was about the extent of the healthy picks.  I had the No Fair Funnel Cake at Cold Stone Creamery, a Mickey Mouse peanut butter cup the Goofy Candy Company and lots of cold beer on the beach.  I justified these options with the "I'm on vacation" and "it's my birthday" excuse.

I got back into the saddle briefly when we returned from the sun and sand.  I hit Gold's Gym a few times in late March and picked up the pace on running because I'm participating in a big relay race. Then I got on the Road to WrestleMania...

One of several craft beers during WrestleMania weekend
Once again I opted for the less healthy choices.  Chad and I became the tag team champions at CicCi's Pizza.  We'd laid the smackdown on that buffet.  Then we doubled up at Redneck Heaven as I conquered a chili burger one night and then the big BLT during the next stop. Fast food became our partner too as we hit up McDonald's, Taco Bell and WhattaBurger.  My new hobby of craft beer consumption with my fellow Craftbeericans won't help either, but I'm keeping the mantra "everything in moderation" in mind.

Training for the River to River Relay
I've been back home nearly two weeks, and I've yet to make it to the gym.  But as I mentioned I am running more.  I don't feel like I've gained any weight, but I have definitely not seen in progress in finding my abs.  I will continue my quest and change my eating habits once again.  I've polished off all the Reese's Peanut Eggs from Easter, so half the battle has been won.

Stay tuned for an update in May.  We've got this.  We really do...

Monday, April 11, 2016

Vince McMahon is just being a dad

Shane McMahon flying high
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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As a wrestling fan I was annoyed when Shane McMahon showed up to run Monday Night Raw 24 hours after losing to the Undertaker at WrestleMania.  The stipulation for the Hell in a Cell was of course that if Shane won, he got control of Raw.  He lost.  So why did he get to run things Monday?  Now it appears Shane will be back for week two of playing the role of GM.

"The Money" returns April 11 to Raw
However, as a dad I get it.  Vince McMahon was trying to teach his son a lesson.  If I had a dollar for every time I made an idle threat against one of my kids I too would be a billionaire running a wrestling, I mean sports entertainment company.

Our parents did it to us and if you have kids you probably do it too.  "Stop fighting or we'll turn this car around and go back home."  Yeah that never happened.  "Eat all your vegetables or you won't get dessert."  Twenty minutes later there's a trail of cookie crumbs on the floor.  
Family feud
Courtesy: WWE
Simply put, Vince made a bold statement out of anger.  He really had no intention of following through on his threat.  And face it; WWE had no credible opponent for the Undertaker this year.  It was really the best option given the list of Superstars currently out injured.  At the same time it's clear the company hasn't done its job in developing the next wave of talent.  Plus, look how popular Shane has been since the announcement of the match.  It’s a nice slice of nostalgia.  I’m sure Triple H, Stephanie and Vince will be back to their shenanigans in no time.

But as Jim Cornette recently said on The Ross Report, "What road you take depends on what your destination is. Since we don't know the destination we don't necessarily know whether somebody's taking the right road or not.  Trust your cab driver."  So that's what I'm going to do.  Trust our cab driver in this case WWE Creative.  And remember, Vince is doing what dads do.  He may be human after all.