Saturday, April 29, 2017

Payback predictions

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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WWE Payback happens Sunday. The company has done a pretty good job building up to the first post Superstar Shakeup and WrestleMania pay per view event. I'm going to attempt to make some predictions and voice a couple of concerns with the show as it stands at the time of this post on Saturday, April 29.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson will beat Enzo and Big Cass. I just have a feeling they're leading us to a split between Cass and Enzo. Not necessarily a feud, but I can see these two going their separate ways. I don't think it'll happen Sunday night, but I won't be surprised in the next few months if this popular duo is no longer a pair.

It's too soon to switch the tag team titles so the Hardys will retain the belts against Sheamus and Cesaro. I am digging the team of Shesaro (did I spell that right?). 

Kevin Owens will retain the U.S. Championship against Chris Jericho. SmackDown Live needs the star power of Owens and not someone who is planning to leave and go on tour with his band.

I'm holding out hope that Neville will retain against Austin Aries, but it seems they're priming A Double to eventually lead the Cruiserweight Division. I'm a huge fan of Neville's and as long as he's still a key in the storylines in the division, I'll be happy.

Alexa Bliss will become the next Raw Women's Champion. She's the highlight of the division on Raw.

Samoa Joe will beat Seth Rollins, perhaps due to interference by the returning Triple H.

I suspect Roman Reigns will beat Braun Strowman to overcome all the ass beatings he's faced recently. However, I'd rather see the carnage continue. WWE Creative appears to still be strapping the rocket pack on Reigns' back, so having him bounce back from the abuse seems to be the next step.

Bray Wyatt should beat Randy Orton in the House of Horrors match, especially since it's non-title. But long ago I learned to not bet against Orton. 

Now for some critical analysis of the card. The U.S. title is being defended and not the Intercontinental Championship. I figure they're on a time crunch to get the Jericho-Owens rematch in on pay per view and since they're on opposite brands this makes sense, but I would like to see the IC title be defended too. I'm still holding out hope Dean Ambrose and the Miz will meet at Payback too.

I say that because it's the second biggest title on the Raw brand and since Universal Champion Brock Lesnar will not be defending his belt, the IC title should be getting some shine and be showcased on events when the big belt isn't defended. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Foreign Object Friday: Randy Savage's mystery object

Savage goes for an object...

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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In February 1986, "Macho Man" Randy Savage was white hot. The relative newcomer to the WWF had become the number one contender to Tito Santana's Intercontinental Championship. Santana was in his second run as champ and a favorite among fans. 

As the match at the Boston Garden was winding down, Savage had been on the outside apron. When the referee had his back turned he reached into his trucks and pulled out a style unnamed foreign object. He swung his fist with the object at the champ who ducked. Santana then brought Savage in and in midair, Savage punched Santana rendering the champ unconscious. "Macho Man" rolled on top of his foe and three seconds later won the title.

After the referee made the count, Savage tosses the object outside the ring. At the time, I was not sold on the "Macho Man" and jeered as he staggered away with both the IC belt and Elizabeth. While the object in question has no official name, I've seen other wrestlers use similar versions to garner wins as well, including Gino Hernandez, Ken Patera and Mr. Fuji.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Damn! Ron Simmons comes to CCW

Ron Simmons!
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Consider this my better late than never post. Last Saturday night my buddy Tom Harness and I attended the Cape Championship Wrestling show. The action was great throughout the night. Hollis Giroux won the CCW Heavyweight title in an action packed fatal four-way that included defending champ Brandon Barbwire, Austin Lane and guest Colt Cabana. 

New champs!
New tag team champs were crowned too as Blaster and guest Jeff Cobb beat Farmer Billy Hills and Dell Tucker. The title changed surprised me, especially after the Pinnacle members started playing dirty and handcuffed Cobb to the bottom rope. But what happened at the end of the match shocked the capacity crowd. A familiar theme song came over the loudspeaker and WWE Hall of Famer Ron Simmons emerged. 

The crowd popped like a bag of Orville Redenbacher at the sight of the former WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He cleared the ring and before cutting a promo he worked in his trademark phrase "DAMN!" Simmons then thanked the fans for supporting him through the years. Hundreds lined up at intermission to get a photo with him and the new tag team champs.
Meeting Ron Simmons in Chicago
I met Simmons during WrestleMania Axxess in 2006. He was great. And everyone I talked to who wrestled on the show Saturday night said he was amazing backstage. It was great to see him in person again and hear Simmons speak from the heart and show his appreciation to the fans.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Branding in the wrestling business

Zack Ryder, Mr. PEC-Tacular and Red Daniels
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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In the age of social media developing a brand has become big business. Marketing experts will tell you it's important to get yourself out there in front of an audience and keep followers engaged. This brand building can make or break entrepreneurs, bloggers, social media stars and athletes. That includes professional wrestlers.

My buddy Tom Harness at Harness Digital Marketing touches on the importance of branding for wrestlers briefly in the most recent episode of My 1-2-3 Cents the Podcast. A growing number of wrestlers or Superstars have picked up on branding. This post is about a few who have done a good job at reaching the masses.

Courtesy: WWE
Several years ago Zack Ryder was floundering on the mid card. Maybe even lower than that. He then took to YouTube with his Z! True Long Island Story. The videos worked and soon Zack saw himself getting that push he so rightly deserved. While in the short term the action paid off as Ryder won the U.S. Championship and was rubbing elbows with the likes of John Cena, it didn't take long for WWE Creative to pull the rug out from under the Superstar. WWE took over production of the YouTube channel and eventually canceled the show. Ryder's push disappeared. But he's continued to toil and make some quick comebacks. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for him as he rehabs from an injury.

Makeup time on Tainted Dreams
Courtesy: @tainted_dreams_the_series
Impact Wrestling's Mr. PEC-Tacular Jessie Godderz is a crossover star from the reality TV world, having been on Big Brother. He has done a great job building his brand and helping get exposure for Impact Wrestling in the mainstream. Follow him on Twitter (@MrPEC_Tacular) and you'll understand what I mean. He has several projects outside the ring, including acting, music and hosting. As far as I'm concerned he's currently the biggest crossover wrestler to have never worked for WWE.

Building Stride Pro Wrestling's brand

Local indy wrestlers are getting in on the action too. I'll focus on Stride Pro Wrestling because I'm a part of that company. Established guys like Heath Hatton, Chris Hargas and Farmer Billy Hills are utilizing social media to get their names out there. Recent graduates of the Stride school like Red Daniels and Dexter Roswell are doing well in this area too. They've found characters that work for them and as they get established with the local scene I have no doubt more opportunities will come their way. Stride guys who are reading this, I'd love to help with building your brand too. Just holler at me.

Hanging with Colt
Others who come to mind immediately, include Colt Cabana. He turned lemons into lemonade after being released by WWE and has a successful podcast and still wrestles all over the world. He's making a huge name for himself without a "machine" behind him. And the "King of Dong Style" Joey Ryan took a moment from a viral video and has capitalized on it to build his career as well.

The important thing to getting your name out there is stepping outside your comfort zone. You don't have to sacrifice your privacy to do it either. Make it a habit and part of your daily routine and chances are you're going to see more growth in your following.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Did the Superstar Shakeup happen too soon?

Orton & Wyatt
Courtesy: WWE
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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The question of the day: Did the Superstar Shakeup happen too soon? Short answer: Yes. But since I get paid by the word, I'll go into long form here. (Editor's note: I don't get paid by the word.) 

Owens & Jericho
Courtesy: WWE
I have enjoyed the stories coming out of the Shakeup and my only criticism is it seems to have happened too soon after WrestleMania. Loose ends weren't tied up before Bray Wyatt went to Raw and Kevin Owens went to SmackDown Live. Because of this, there are now two championships that are no longer on Raw being defended on a Raw event. It's not a huge deal, but when it comes to the brand split and pay per views, I prefer only the big four shows to have inter-brand matches.

I have more thoughts on the upcoming Payback event, but since it's only Tuesday and I hope they're going to add another match or two, I'm going to wait until later in the week to weigh in on those thoughts. Overall though I'm pleased with the way stories are currently developing. I would have waited until after Payback to do the Shakeup. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

I never knew... Kevin Von Erich wrestled in the WWF

Kevin Von Erich vs. Brian Lee
Not sure the original credit, I saw it on @WCCWMemories Twitter
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I'm starting a new feature here on the blog with a story about something I didn't know about. As a lifelong wrestling fan, I feel like there isn't much I don't know. But with the evolution of podcasts hosted by wrestling insiders and the boom in social media, I'm learning there are things I didn't know.

For the first installment, I have to give credit to World Class Memories (@WCCWMemories). They recently tweeted the photo of Kevin Von Erich vs. Brian Lee. At first, I didn't give the picture much thought. But when you look at the turnbuckle pad, you clearly see the WWF logo on it. I never knew Kevin joined his brother Kerry in the Fed.

Heading to the ring
Courtesy: Bud Horne
After doing some research on my "Google machine" I found that Kevin had a dark match against Lee at a Wrestling Challenge taping in Texas. It happened on December 2, 1991. Kevin didn't sign with the World Wrestling Federation, and the article I read doesn't say why. I'm hoping to get him on my podcast in the near future and learn more about this story. We all know Lee went on to become the "fake" Undertaker in 1994 and after that Chainz in WWF. 

This particular match happened six days before WWF came to Cape Girardeau, where I was attending college at the time. Kerry Von Erich, who remains one of my all-time favorite wrestlers, didn't appear on that card. He was wrestling the same day at a WWF show in Los Angeles. I never got to see the Texas Tornado live in a WWF ring, however, I did see him battle Ric Flair for the NWA World Title in 1985. But I digress...

Kerry & Kevin Von Erich
Courtesy: WWE
Kerry was no longer wrestling for the Intercontinental Championship at this time and was facing the likes of The Berzerker and Skinner. How awesome would it have been for Kevin and Kerry to reunite and have a run as a tag team in the WWF? Although good guys vs. good guys were rare back then, a match between the brothers and The Legion of Doom would have been epic. No doubt the Von Erichs could have been top contenders for the WWF Tag Team Titles and would have likely had a run. I know I'm biased, so what do you think? Weigh in here or on the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page and don't forget to like it.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Quit calling wrestling fake

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I've ranted on this before and it seems the time has come to do it again. I have been a wrestling fan for more than 30 years. And yes I know that the outcome is predetermined. What irritates me though is when non-wrestling fans call it "fake". Especially when it's said like this "You know wrestling is fake, right?" or "You know it's not real, right?" 

My chop marks & Masters' busted head
Courtesy: Jason Wilkey photography
As someone who has not only watched wrestling but worked within the business behind the scenes and in front of the crowd, it's insulting to hear this. I've even had a match, albeit for about 15 minutes, but my body can attest, there was nothing fake about what we were doing in the ring. I had red marks on my chest the next day from the chops I took and the guy I wrestled, Mike Masters had his head split open when a chair shot went wrong. The pool of blood in the ring and the six staples required to close the wound are another reminder this business is far from fake.

Injuries from Heath Hatton & "Farmer" Billy Hills
My friend and wrestler "Farmer" Billy Hills posted the pic on his social media after the Cape Championship Super Show. You can see he is clearly not feeling like the action he was involved in was fake. Stride Pro Wrestling Champion Heath Hatton was injured last year in the ring. He continues to nurse nagging injuries that you wouldn't expect from a fake job. He even needed surgery on his head as a result of an injury during a match.

The Walking Dead
Courtesy: AMC
The bottom line is this. I don't tell my friends who love the Walking Dead that the zombies aren't real and no one is getting their heads blown off. We all know there's not a giant gorilla running amok on Skull Island and spoiler alert, Dr. McDreamy wasn't really performing surgery on Grey's Anatomy.  There's no need to remind fans of these movies and TV shows that they're watching something "fake" and there's no need to do the same for wrestling fans. We get it, it's entertainment. I really don't want to see men and women actually beating the hell out of each other.  Thanks for putting up with this rant.