Thursday, June 30, 2011

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Randy Orton outside the 2010 Hall of Fame
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

This is post is going to irritate a lot of fans.  But as I've said before, when I have an opinion I want to share, I turn to this blog.  That was the whole point of creating it.  And as always, I welcome opposing view points.

For those who don't know Randy Orton recently did a radio interview in Phoenix where he lays a lot of things out on the table.  Too much on the table I think.  And I'm not just picking on Randy because I'm not a fan of his.  I would criticize anyone who did this.

Kelly Kelly and Kevin Kevin in 2006
Maybe he got caught up in the moment of the interview, but he came off like a douche in many of the segments I listened to.  Most specifically his conversation about Kelly Kelly's personal life.  Click that link above for that portion of the interview.  He essentially says the Kelly Kelly has gotten around the WWE locker room.  If that's true, is it really anyone else's business?  This interview reminded me of a bunch of frat boys sitting around telling tales of their latest conquest.  (I was a frat boy in college, so that's not a stereotype)

I think it's safe to say that Randy Orton is the company's number 2 guy, right behind John Cena.  In that role, I would assume you want someone who is a leader in the locker room too.  He's the top guy on SmackDown! now and probably will be for a while since the Undertaker appears to be done for the time being.  His interview sounded nothing like a leader to me.  Not only did he fill us in on who's sleeping with who backstage, but he dissed Mark Henry's work in the ring.  Understandable to a point, but I think as coworkers working for the common goal, you shouldn't be undermining the others.  At least not publicly.

Orton coming out at Wrestlemania 27
Some of you know, I work in the news business.  I would never dream of throwing a coworker under the bus no matter how strongly I disliked their work, their personality, or them in general.  I don't do it when I talk to my non-news friends, and I would never do it on a radio interview.  It just showed a level of immaturity and unprofessionalism from Orton.  I think when part of your image now as a company is "anti-bullying" and you've got a guy gossiping and telling the world about the personal lives of co-workers, that's a form of bullying. (especially the way the hosts continued to laugh and bring up Kelly Kelly throughout the interview)

That's one thing that I like about John Cena.  While I'm not crazy about the Super Cena character you see on TV, John Cena the man is a standup guy.  I've seen him on non wrestling related events and he has been a class act.  People criticize the guy, but he truly is someone you want representing your company.

I'll close with this.  Randy did at least issue an apology through his Twitter account.  While I don't necessarily think he's sorry for what he said, the words he wrote seemed sincere.  I think it's more of a case of "I'm sorry...for getting caught."

Maybe I'm being too critical.  What are your thoughts?  Did Orton cross the line?  Does he have a right to share his opinion even if it hurts others in the process?  Should we even care about this? Comment here or leave your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, or even YouTube.

Why Build New Stars When Past Stars Can Make Cameos


The Miz vs. Roddy Piper

@ChadSmart on Twitter

Note: All photos in this post are from WWE.com

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a few weeks now and with comments Kevin made in his “Wheel of Misfortune” blog and some comments from the my123cents Facebook page (go “Like” it, then come back and finish reading), I figure now is as good a time as any to toss out my feelings on a problem WWE has had for the past few years.

I don’t know why, but WWE seems to have an issue with wanting to build new stars. Are they still brokenhearted over Brock Lesner leaving them seven years ago that they’re afraid to trust in any other new talent for few of a similar rejection?  Seriously, WWE has ridden John Cena and Randy Orton as the only guys who really matter (outside of Triple H and The Undertaker) for almost five years now. In that time there have been several other guys who could have been elevated but for some reason those guys would get a taste of the main event before quickly being pushed back down to the middle of the card. While I could focus an entire blog around that topic, there’s another issue, which seems to be happening more and more often lately.

Is Andy really Tough Enough?
Over the last month we’ve seen “Stone Cold” Steve Austin berate The Miz and Stunner, Tough Enough winner, “Silent Rage” Andy Levine. We’ve seen Roddy Piper pin The Miz (granted it was a fast count by special referee Alex Riley) and Shawn Michaels super kicked the tag team champions, David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty as well as Drew McIntyre. Then you have The Rock, who hasn’t been seen in over two months, in the main event of Wrestlemania next year despite having not wrestled a match in over seven years. While I don’t think former stars should be shown the door and never seen again, the way they are presented doesn’t help the guys who are currently trying to make money for WWE.

Yes, each of the above mentioned guys are legends and hall of fame talents. Yes, the crowd will always go crazy for them when they show up. Does that mean they should consistently apply their trademark moves to members of the current roster? At the end of the night what is more likely going to entice people to want to purchase a pay per view; seeing the current champion laid out at the hands of a retired superstar, or seeing the current champion look like he’s worthy of holding the title? 

Piper pins the Miz
With Triple H and Undertaker not being seen since Wrestlemania (the fact they both returned for 6 weeks to wrestle at Mania then disappeared is another rant), CM Punk looking like he’s leaving soon, as well as the departures of Batista and Chris Jericho over the last year, WWE doesn’t have a lot of main event level talent. They have guys that could be yet haven’t been given an extended shot at being there. Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger are all former World Champions. How many fans that just started watching over the last four months would know that based on what those guys have done since Wrestlemania? 

Getting back on topic, when former superstars who aren’t active show up and get the upper hand either verbally or physically with current superstars, it tells the crowds, “hey this new guy isn’t that important. He can’t even beat a past his prime old guy.”  Correct me if I’m wrong but did Austin or Rock ever get laid out by any 80s era WWF wrestler? If Piper or Hogan or even Koko B. Ware had showed up would Austin have tried to make peace with them and kiss up to them? Or would he flipped them the bird (not Frankie in Koko’s case) and stunnered them? Then why (other than the Attitude Era being successful and Triple H being a part of that era) do the current guys all get disrespected by the past generation? Have Cena or Orton ever been treated poorly on-air by former talents?

Shouldn’t the past generation be used to help give the rub to some of the new talent? Wouldn’t Dolph Ziggler gain a little bit of credibility if Roddy Piper put him over on the mic saying how Dolph reminded him of a young Piper? Instead, Piper would make fun of Dolph’s hair, the crowd laughs, and Dolph looks like a fool for just standing there.

Cena gets Rock Bottomed
I have nothing against using past stars. I would like to see some new faces in the group of past stars, but using them is fine. It’s the manner in which they’re used that WWE doesn’t seem to understand. No one will become a star unless they’re presented as stars. Next time Vince or Stephanie or Kevin Dunn want to criticize someone for not connecting with the fans or not selling pay per views, they should ask themselves how have they presented said superstar. And if they want to blame the talent for not being a hit, they can always call in Steve Austin to give a stunner and send the guy packing. At least then the crowd will cheer.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why I Think CM is Punking Us

Courtesy: WWE.com
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

I debated going more in depth on my thoughts on CM Punk's rant from Raw Monday night, but the more I think about it, the more I wanted to share my thoughts.  After all as the writer of a wrestling blog, I feel it's my obligation to post my opinions on things going on in the wrestling world.  Hence the name of the blog, My 1-2-3 Cents.  It's our opinions at work here.

That being said, I must say so far I am enjoying the CM Punk angle.  Yes, I said angle.  I do not believe Punk actually "shot" on the company or that he's really leaving after Money in the Bank.  But so far, the way this is being played out there is enough doubt out there to make me wonder.

I do believe on Monday night CM Punk was given a mic and an open invitation to rant.  I don't think what he said was scripted.  I believe he poured his hear out into that promo.  It had passion.  It expressed his frustration with the company and the business.  It showed me why he's right now the best heel in the WWE.

Part of the reason I believe this is a work is because of the fact that the WWE has the story running on their main feed on dot com.  In the past when they've had legitimate issues with wrestlers, it's usually a one or two sentence blurb and it's not featured on the page.   They've posted the video of the rant on WWE.com, another way for them to promote it.  As of Tuesday, Punk is suspended from the company, but will fulfill his non televised commitments with the company.  It doesn't mention Money in the Bank, but implies he's effectively finished with the WWE.

The rant itself was great like I mentioned.  But don't think for one second that if he was really out of control that night that his mic wouldn't have been cut a lot sooner.  WWE's production was too slick for it.  Their quality work with the director getting the different shots told me that this was all a part of the plan.  It may have shot them in the foot.  Also, when's the last time a guy about to leave the company was given such a high profile role on a pay per view?  If Punk really does leave, I think he's going just to give himself a break and he'll be back with the WWE.  I don't see him going to TNA, or Ring of Honor, or Japan like he implied during his promo.

I have to give the WWE and CM Punk credit though.  I'm not 100% sure in what I'm writing here.  There is that part of me that thinks Punk may really be done.  That's how well this angle is playing out.  I can't remember the last time there was a storyline that was this compelling that I wasn't 100% sure was a work.  Heck, even when Scott Hall showed up on Monday Nitro back in 1996, I knew he was under contract with the company.  I think most fans who were online at the time did.

Photo courtesy: WWE.com
If this is the storyline, my main concern is the WWE dropping the ball with it.  It seems like when they come up with something new and fresh, it gets totally watered down and ends up being lame.  The Nexus invasion from a year ago instantly comes to mind.  And whatever happened to the guys from NXT 2?

I haven't read the spoilers for Raw, so I don't know if the angle is advanced on the show or not.  This whole post may be moot.  If it is, sorry to have wasted your time.  Please don't ruin the rest of it for me though.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wheel of Misfortune

Photo from WWE.com
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

Raw Roulette is one of my least favorite wrestling concepts.  It usually includes a lot of goofiness.  More so than usual.  (I'm writing this reaction as I watch on my DVR Tuesday afternoon)

The show opened up with a pretty good interaction between Shawn Michaels and CM Punk.  Punk has really grown on me in recent months and I think he's the best heel in the company right now.  (Sorry Miz)  Despite being out of the ring for more than a year, I must say I was impressed with the Sweet Chin Music delivered by HBK.  The one on David Otunga came out of no where.

While I was impressed, I question the constant use of Hall of Famers making the developing talent look bad.  We saw it on Raw Roulette with HBK, Otunga, and Mike McGillicutty.  Two weeks ago it was Roddy Piper and the Miz.  And don't forget about Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin humiliating Tough Enough winner Andy.

Back to Raw, Punk is put in a match, and Booker T spins the wheel.  It stops on the mystery opponent and Kane just happens to be standing there.  That's another of my problems with the roulette show.  It's obviously stages, even though they are trying to make it not appear staged.  Maybe I'm being too critical...

Punk loses by countout to Kane.  I had expected a Mark Henry run in.  Glad it didn't happen.

Sin Cara vs. Evan Bourne went WAY too short.  These guys could have and should have done much more in the match.  I'm still not real big on the lighting change when Sin Cara wrestles.  And, I'm being nit picky.  The match was good.  Some great high spots, but like I said, it should have gone longer.

Photo from WWE.com
In the past, didn't they do qualifying matches for the Money in the Bank?  They just flashed a screen with the participants this time around.  I'm not opposed to that.  Some fresh faces in the match, but my gut tells me Alberto Del Rio is going to win that one.  More analysis of that to come later.

Dolph Ziggler's mannerisms have remind me of Curt Hennig in the past.  Now that he has "Perfection" on the back of his shorts, I'm wondering if a gimmick change is coming or an evolution of the character.  It'll be interesting.  Of course, I don't see the point of a non title match.  But as usual, these two put on a great show.

If Big Show and Del Rio are on Raw, why is Mark Henry here?  I know he's been stalking Show lately, but I don't understand why this is happening.  Another reason why I think the brand concept is a failure.

Was I the only one hoping for a Kharma return during the divas matchup?  Or heck, how about Beth Phoenix?  Why is she not being used on TV?  Anyone?

Surprise visit Diamond Dallas Page...

And another up and comer taken out by Shawn Michaels.  Maybe next time Drew McIntyre...

It's appropriate the Miz and Jack Swagger are teaming up.  I don't think two former world champions have fallen from grace as quickly as these two.  *Sigh* The match was definitely action packed.  Haven't seen a Texas Tornado match in years.  And the descent continues.  At least Swagger took the fall and not the Miz.  Would have rather seen Riley get the win if they're going to be pushing him.

I'm hoping for a Little Jimmy on a Pole match for Cena vs. R-Truth.  Damn, tables match.  Maybe next year...

Photo from: WWE.com
I will say this about Raw lately, I don't feel like they're totally cramming Cena down our throats.  Although, I am watching on DVR, maybe I missed something.  The crowd is into this match. I hear the "Cena Sucks!", "Let's Go Cena!" chants.  I want to just fast forward to the end of this, as I've heard about the Punk promo, but I'm going to hold out and watch.  Especially now that my 9 year old son has joined me.

R-Truth wins.  Surprising.  Why weren't any of the matches title matches?  Seems like a bit of a crock to me.  Okay, Punk has the mic.  Here we go...

Love all the "unmentionable guys" being referenced here.  Seems like he is speaking from the heart, but I really believe this is a work.  Lots of folks on line are talking about this being a shoot.  I still believe if this was a shoot, they would have cut him off a lot sooner than they did.

So the question is where do Punk and the WWE go from here?  I know they've posted spoilers for next week's show, but I haven't read those yet, and I'm not planning to either.  I hope if this is a work, it's not bungled like all the other potentially hot angles from the past (the WCW Invasion, the Nexus, Ric Flair coming in back in 1991)

I hope on July 17 we're not all disappointed.  If Punk is really leaving, I could see him winning the title only to be beaten by the winner of the MITB match.  If Cena wins and Punk is really going, then this angle seems kinda pointless.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Do Spoilers Spoil the Show?

By Chad Smart
@ChadSmart on Twitter


As loyal readers know, I am not too fond of the current mainstream-wrestling product and have basically stopped watching Raw, Impact and Smackdown over the last two months. Though I am not watching the shows, I do read recaps of Raw and the spoilers for Impact and Smackdown after they finish taping. This gives me an idea of what’s on the show and I can gauge if there is anything on the shows I feel I should seek out or if I would be wasting two hours by watching the shows.

Over the last two weeks however I have had a slight change of opinion when it comes to spoilers. I read the Impact taping results and thought the shows read pretty bad. On the past two Thursday’s after getting home at night, with nothing else going on I ended up watching replays of Impact while I caught up on news on the web. To my surprise and pleasure, I was entertained by Impact and thought the shows had a better flow then the way it appeared on paper.

This may not be a major revelation, but words on papers and people actually acting out those words can be totally different. I’ve read several scripts that have been pretty flat but when performed by talented actors the material is elevated into something great. I’ve also read great scripts that became insufferable due to bad acting. I realize now wrestling spoilers are the same way.

Courtesy: WWE.com
When you read spoilers all you usually see is Wrestler A beat Wrestler B. Wrestler C came out and talked for 15 minutes. When you watch the show, you get (hopefully) a solid story told during the matches that in turns build interest in not only the match but also the wrestlers involved.  During a promo, you hope to see an intensity or solid character delivering lines that have an emotional connection to the fans. Fans want either someone they can get behind and cheer on to victory or someone they hate (in a good way) who they want to see get beaten. Take for example a possible Smackdown spoiler. (I’m using Smackdown because it has a clear cut World Title storyline in place) If you’ve been following the show and you read, Christian cuts a promo about wanting another shot at the World Title, first reaction would probably be, I saw that last week why do I want to watch it again? Then you watch the show and you see the emotion Christian conveys during the promo and you buy into the story of Christian being cheated out of a potential victory so you feel he deserves another shot. 

Due to my enjoyment of Impact over the last two weeks, I have decided for the next month to try and avoid spoilers and watch the shows without a preconceived opinion.  As I’ve mentioned recently, the build up to Destination X has been really good by TNA standards (I know, backhanded compliment) and they’re also building to the Impact on July 14. I like the idea of them building to specific Impacts. Just wish they’d reduce the number of pay per views.
What are your thoughts? Do you read spoilers? Do you think spoilers take excitement away from the show?

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ring of Honor: What Am I Missing?

By Chad Smart
@ChadSmart on Twitter


Ring of Honor held their “Best in the World” ippv on Sunday afternoon. I decided to order the show because I had not seen a ROH show in over two years. While watching the show however, I was reminded why I hadn’t seen a ROH show since attending a live show Wrestlemania 25 weekend in Houston, Texas.

Ring of Honor has a roster of talented wrestlers, half of whom I enjoy watching in other promotions. However, in the Ring of Honor setting, I find a lot of the wrestlers to be bland and all cut from the same cloth. Ring of Honor was founded on the principal of wrestling as a sport.  In a world of sports entertainment, ROH was the alternative to crazy characters and intelligence insulting story lines.

While I appreciate solid wrestling, when watching an entire wrestling show, I want some variety in the matches. The original ECW was near perfect at crafting shows that had something for everyone. Brawling, technical wrestling, comedy and anything in between could be found on an ECW show. On the typical ROH show I’ve watched, the show is about 80% strong style wrestling with 20% either street fights or short comedy matches. The matches all seem to run together.

Ring of Honor matches also seem to epitomize what I dislike about the current independent wrestling philosophy. It feels like every match has to be hard hitting and require a minimum of 10 finishing moves to end a match. Nothing in a match seems special or organic when every high profile match follows the same formula.

During Sunday’s “Best in the World” show, I found myself easily getting distracted during matches. Even when the wrestling was good (Christopher Daniels/El Generico and the 4-way Tag Match) I couldn’t get invested into the show. Maybe that’s a result of not following ROH regularly so I don’t have a vested interest in the matches. Or maybe ROH simply isn’t my cup of tea. I will go on record as saying Davey Richards is one of my least favorite wrestlers currently fighting, so ending the show with Davey winning the World Title does very little to entice me to keep watching ROH.

When ROH debuts their new television show in September maybe they’ll modify their product to fit in with what the average wrestling fan expects from a wrestling show. Maybe then there will be something that attracts my interest and keeps me coming back week after week. But for now, I’ll continue to read recaps of shows online and have a general idea of what’s going on in the world of ROH while continuing to enjoy the wrestlers I like when they compete for Chikara or PWG.

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Adios, Chavo

Edge, Me, & Chavo Wrestlemania 24 Axxess
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

The WWE has released former ECW, Cruiserweight, and tag team champion Chavo Guerrero.  This news is hardly shocking.  The WWE typically starts cutting members of the roster in the weeks after Wrestlemania, I was kind of surprised  the process didn't happen sooner.


However, Chavo says he asked for his release.  He wrote a pretty lengthy statement about it saying that the WWE has always used the Guerreros to put other guys over and make others look good.  


In part he wrote, "...I was just tired of not being used correctly. Just cuz u can make other ppl look good, doesn’t mean they should just have u lose to them. The same thing happened to Eddie. After being champ, they still had him working mid card status. Being a Guerrero, we’ve been taught since diapers to get the most out of ppl & matches. It’s our gift, but also our curse. WWE has always used us to make other ppl look good."  


I don't totally agree with Chavo's statement, at least not the part about Eddie.  Sure, after he dropped the title, he floundered for a while.  And I would have much rather seen him hold the belt instead of losing it to JBL, but that's another blog.  Right before his death in 2005 though, Eddie was back on the fast track to the top.  He was rumored to get another run as champion.  I'm pretty sure he was working a program with Batista or about to start one.  I'm having trouble remembering all the specifics, but I know he was one of SmackDown's top guys.


Back to Chavo now, yes he never got higher than the midcard status.  For some reason, he just didn't seem to click with the fans.  But I think that goes back to even the WCW days.  Some of his gimmicks and feuds were entertaining, but he was never someone that I could really get behind.  He seemed to lack "it", in my opinion.  And I don't mean that as disrespect.  Maybe part of the problem was people compared him too much to Eddie, and Chavo was never able to be Chavo.  He was always "Eddie's nephew" or a "Guerrero".  I think sometimes that's the curse of being a second or third generation star (David Flair, Ted DiBiase, Jr., and Lacey Von Erich, are you reading?)


Even when they tried that silly Kerwin White gimmick, I cringed.  I just could not get into the character.  I did enjoy Chavo's run in ECW and his feud with CM Punk.  I also liked Los Guerreros when he and Eddie "lied, cheated, and stole" their way to the WWE tag team titles.  


Chavo vs. Santino, with Hornswoggle nearby (2009)
I will agree with Chavo in some respects.  I thought it was ridiculous what they did with him in the feud with Hornswoggle.  If I remember correctly, Chavo didn't get the upper hand one time in that program.  He really was made to look like a fool.  


Someone posted on Facebook today, who would have thought Vickie Guerrero would be the only Guerrero working for the WWE?  I have to agree.  I do find her character more entertaining than Chavo's though, so like I said before, this release comes as no surprise.


What's next for Chavo?  He's almost 41 years old.  Probably too young to retire, too old for a major push as a main eventer anywhere else.  My gut tells me he'll end up in Impact Wrestling.  TNA has a way of finding a place for former WWE superstars, and if they can play off the Guerrero name, I'm sure they'll do that.  Plus, Uncle Hector works for the company.  Whatever Chavo ends up doing, I wish him the best though.  He always seemed like a good guy, and I'm sure he is.


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Friday, June 24, 2011

Fantasy Friday: Hogan vs. Austin

Photo Courtesy: the Sun
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

I'm starting a new feature here on Fridays.  It's inspired after a conversation I had with Buff Blogger Guy on his Internet radio show recently.  He had me on the show to talk about wrestling and we got into a discussion about some "fantasy" matches.  One of them was Hulk Hogan vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin.  So I've decided to give my thoughts on that contest and will come up with other dream matches in the coming weeks.

First,  for arguments sake, I'm going to compare the two icons over a 3 year time period.  In my opinion Hogan was at his peak between 1984 and 1987.  Austin from 1996 to 1999.  Both men won the WWF title several times.  Let's look at some of their key wins and title history over their 3 year peak time.

Courtesy: WWE
Hulk Hogan: (Remember this is just an analysis of 1984 to 1987)
Title History
WWF World Heavyweight champion (1 time)

Key victories:
Pinned the Iron Sheik for the WWF title at Madison Square Garden (January 1984)

Pinned Greg "the Hammer" Valentine at The Brawl to End it All (July 1984)

Beat "Rowdy" Roddy Piper by disqualification at The War to Settle the Score (December 1984)
 
Beat "Rowdy" Roddy Piper by disqualification at the Wrestling Classic (October 1985)

Pinned Terry Funk on Saturday Night's Main Event (December 1985)

Beat King Kong Bundy in a steel cage match at Wrestlemania 2 (April 1986)

Beat "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff by disqualification at The Big Event (August 1986)

Beat "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff in a steel cage match on Saturday Night's Main Event (aired January 1987)

Courtesy: WWE
Pinned Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3 (March 1987)


So over the course of 3 years, Hogan held the WWF title one time.  He pinned the Iron Sheik in January 1984 and continued to hold the belt until February 1988.  An impressive run no doubt.

His biggest win in this time period would have to be his pinfall over Andre the Giant.  Looking at some of his other big opponents, like Orndorff and Piper, he mostly beat by disqualification or countout.

There were other Saturday Night's Main Event appearances where Hogan either won by pinfall, DQ, or was involved in a tag team match.

I don't think anyone would argue that Hogan dominated this time period.  But also we have to keep in mind there weren't nearly as many TV shows or pay per views in this era.  Hogan rarely (if ever) defended the world title on Superstars.  And during this 3 year analysis Wrestlemania was still the only PPV on the WWF calendar.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin:  Some may argue with the time period I picked as Austin's peak, but I really feel like he did some of his best work in his early days in the WWF.  Not the Ringmaster stuff.  It wasn't until he shed that persona and really came out and started the Stone Cold era.  So let's look at his stats.  His analysis will be somewhat different than Hogan's because Austin won more titles during this 3 year period.

Courtesy: WWE
Title History & Key Wins:
Pinned Jake "the Snake" Roberts to become the King of the Ring in 1996.

Won the 1997 Royal Rumble (although Bret Hart had technically eliminated him and Austin snuck back into the ring)

Teamed with Shawn Michaels to beat Owen Hart & British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith for the WWF tag team titles (May 1997)

Teamed with Dude Love to beat Hart & Bulldog for the WWF tag team titles (July 1997)

Beat Owen Hart for the Intercontinental title (August 1997)  *surrendered the title due to injury.

Beat Owen Hart for the IC Title (November 1997) *lost the title to the Rock about a month later.

Won the 1998 Royal Rumble

Courtesy: WWE
Beat Shawn Michaels for the WWF title (March 1998) *lost the title to Kane in June 1998

Beat Kane for the WWF title (June 1998) *title was vacated in September due to a controversial pinfall in a triple threat match against Kane & the Undertaker

Teamed with the Undertaker to beat Kane & Mankind for the tag team titles (July 1998) *lost them back in August

Beat the Rock for the WWF title (March 1999) *lost it to the Undertaker in May 1999

Beat the Undertaker for the WWF title (June 1999) *lost it to Mankind in August 1999

Wow, as you can see Austin has a lot more title wins (and losses) than Hogan did over the course of his 3 years.  I didn't include key title defenses for Austin because there were so many matches in this time period because at that point the WWF was doing a weekly Raw and monthly PPV's.  The title was always being defended.

Another key opponent for Austin during this time was Bret "the Hitman" Hart.  Austin never got the pinfall over the Hitman, but he took Bret to the limit each time they wrestled and the two of them put on some excellent matches (Survivor Series 1996 & Wrestlemania 13 in 1997).

So who would win in a match between Hogan and Austin?  Hogan clearly was more dominate in his 3 years compared to Austin's, but as I mentioned, there were less events and I would argue a difference in opponents too.

Hogan holds wins over Piper, Orndorff, Andre, Valentine, Magnificent Muraco, Big John Studd, Bundy, Funk, Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Hercules, etc.

Austin's victories include Owen, Michaels, Kane, Undertaker, Rock, and Mankind.

Photo courtesy: WWE
WWF champion.  I've read (and heard) stories about this.  A lot of guys still have heat with him today.  However, I've not heard any ill will towards Stone Cold.

Hogan was GIVEN the ball and ran with it and took wrestling to new heights.  Hogan's size and look helped to get him over.  I'm not discrediting his legacy here by any means.  I think Austin came up with a gimmick, got himself over, and climbed his way to the top.  He TOOK the ball and ran with it.  It wasn't HANDED to him.

So as you've probably figured out, in week one of the Fantasy Friday, I'm going with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin over Hulk Hogan.  It's a close call. Again, I'm not taking anything away from Hogan or what he did for the industry.  Who knows what things would be like today had he not been the one who was given the opportunity to be at the top for so long.

What are your thoughts?  What other "dream" matches do you want us to analyze?  Post your comments.  Or leave them on our Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube pages.

TNA's New Motto: Those Who Fail To Learn from History End Up Repeating It


@ChadSmart on Twitter


Before I get into the meat of this blog, let me say for the record, I am looking forward to the Destination X pay per view and think it could be one of TNA’s best pay per views of the year from a wrestling standpoint. Want to make that clear because what I’m about to write will most likely come off as more TNA bashing.

The Destination X pay per centers around the X-Division. TNA is bringing back the 6-sided ring as well as bringing in past X-division stars and new competitors to fill out the card. 

The semi-main event is a match between Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn. RVD and Lynn had a series of matches that set the standard for pre-X Division action back in the original ECW during the late ‘90s. Again, this show should be really entertaining for the in ring content, but I question the reasoning and long-term effect of the show.

Photo from Impact Wrestling
TNA didn’t really explain why the 6-sided ring is being used. AJ Styles simply said they should bring it back for one night only. During the first two years of TNA’s existence there was no 6-sided ring.  All the matches took place in the standard wrestling ring. This means the 6-sided ring isn’t needed for the matches and its only purpose is as a special attraction to gain interest in the show.  That’s not a bad thing necessarily however when the show is over and the regular ring comes back for Impact and the next pay per view, will anything be gained from using the 6-sided ring?

While I’m excited to see some new X-division talent (or at least new to TNA) get the chance to shine on pay per view, are these guys going to stick around after the pay per view or will they follow in the footsteps of Randy Savage, Test, Rikishi, and Chyna? Guys are brought in for one or two shows and then get shown the door once Destination X is over due to the X-division being pushed to the backburner again.

Then you have the RVD vs. Jerry Lynn match. I admit I was a huge ECW mark from 1997-2001. Still think the best show I’ve attended live was ECW’s Heatwave ’98 pay per view. Last year when TNA did the ECW tribute show Hardcore Justice, RVD and Lynn were supposed to wrestle until Lynn suffered an injury while training for the match.  Yes, the series of matches in ECW between Van Dam and Lynn are legendary. Yes, the matches paved the way for many current X-division wrestlers. Does the match need to take place? I guess no match NEEDS to take place, but in my opinion this is another example of TNA trying to live off another company’s glory instead of making their own history.  After Destination X will Jerry Lynn stick around or ride off into the sunset?

Destination X should be worth the cost of the show, which can rarely be said for most pay per views these days. My biggest opposition to the show is it feels like a tribute show some local independent promotion would be putting on instead of the number two promotion in the country. I’ll take back any criticism I’ve laid out if after Destination X, TNA keeps a solid focus on the X-division and keeps the returning and new guys around utilizing them as more than bodies on Explosion.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Any Hanging Chads?

By Kevin Hunsperger

Please note, all the photos in this post come from WWE.

No, I'm not talking about my partner in crime, Chad Smart.  This post refers to the voting problems fans experienced Monday night during the "Power to the People" episode of Raw.  The WWE has issued a statement and an apology over the technical problems they experienced.

Their website says the system was so overwhelmed that some of the 697,000 votes didn't get counted.  I guess they figured this out with the results of the Mason Ryan-Evan Bourne match.  Apparently during the live chat 90% of the fans picked Sin Cara.  Who in their right mind would have voted any other way?  If you didn't vote for Sin Cara, I seriously would like to know why.  You can email me privately if you want.

There were other glitches that night, including the Kane-Mark Henry "match", the U.S. title match, and the 6 man tag team main event.  But those outcomes don't seem to matter too much, as the storylines were able to advance because of the stipulations involved.  I'm not even sure why Ryan was a choice as an opponent for Bourne.  

The cynical part of me wonders were there really glitches or is this lip service from the WWE?  If there were legitimate issues, then I appreciate the fact that the WWE is working to make good on it.  We are getting the Sin Cara-Evan Bourne match Monday night on Raw.  I just hope they give these guys some time to show off what they can do in the ring.

I understand that mistakes can happen, especially in the age of technology.  I work in the news business and we have issues with equipment, so I understand that.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

She's So Unusual

"Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
By Kevin Hunsperger

Happy 58th birthday to Cyndi Lauper.  If you didn't start watching wrestling until the Attitude Era you probably have no idea why I'm wishing the Grammy award winner a happy birthday.

Back in the mid-1980's Lauper played an important role of wrestlings boom.  She was (as far as I know) the first big celebrity to be involved in a wrestling angle.  Capt. Lou Albano played her father in the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun video.  That lead to a crossover appearance by Lauper on an episode of Piper's Pit.  I'm going on memory here, but I think Albano turned his back on Cyndi, saying he made her a star and was responsible for her success.  The segment ended with Lauper whacking both Piper and the Captain with her purse and leaving in tears.

Courtesy: WWE
Albano got behind the Fabulous Moolah, while Lauper started "managing" Wendi Richter.  The two would meet on MTV's "Brawl to End it All."  That was in July 1984.  Months later, Lauper would make amends with Captain Lou and feud with Piper. The Rowdy One had smashed a framed record over Albano's head, body slammed Lauper's boyfriend David Wolfe, and kicked Cyndi in the middle of the ring.

After that, Richter dropped the women's title to Leilani Kai, when Richter was distracted by Moolah who was choking Lauper outside the ring.  This all happened on MTV's "War to Settle the Score."  These shows on MTV were all a big buildup to the first ever Wrestlemania, where Lauper and Richter would join forces again.  Richter won the women's title back, and she and Cyndi danced around the ring in celebration.

Because the rock n wrestling connection was proving successful, more wrestlers were added to Lauper's "Goonies R Good Enough" video.  Piper was in it, as well as Richter.  They were joined by Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, "Classy" Freddie Blassie, and Moolah.  I'm pretty sure it was shortly after that, Lauper kinda disappeared from the wrestling scene.  Richter dropped the title again to Moolah who was wrestling as Spider Lady.

Courtesy: WWE
Now that the WWE has a Celebrity Wing of the Hall of Fame, I definitely think Lauper deserves a spot in it.  She was certainly a big player in the whole rock n wrestling connection and helped the WWF gain all kinds of main stream media coverage at a time many just reduced wrestling as a side show attraction.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Who Are These "People"?

By Kevin Hunsperger

All the photos in this post are from WWE.

Monday night, WWE touted they were giving the booking responsibilities of Raw to us, the fans.  It was dubbed "Power to the People."  After watching the show, my question is, who are these people?  Am I so disconnected from the WWE Universe?  Or was the show manipulated to be what the writers really wanted?  I'm hoping the latter is the case.

The show kicked off with a pretty good (and short) promo by CM Punk.  I'm not a fan of the show opening with a promo, but it's become such a way of life for both WWE and TNA, I've come to expect it.  It was refreshing that it wasn't John Cena in that spot.  Punk wants to be the number one contender, says he's earned the spot with wins over Rey Mysterio and Cena.  I agree with Punk.  The Raw GM says he's gotta beat Alberto Del Rio and Rey in a triple threat match later in the show...

Kelly Kelly gets picked by fans to take on whichever Bella twin is the Divas champion.  Kel gets the win and her first run as champ.  I like Kelly, but would have rather seen Beth Phoenix get the match and the title. When is the WWE going to start using the women who work best in the ring (Natalya, Beth, and Gail Kim)? I know Kelly Kelly is over, and the vote for her to get the match was likely legit.  I have no problem with that decision by "the people."

But when it comes to the Evan Bourne vs. Mason Ryan match, I scratched my head.  First, I was surprised that Evan Bourne was even the focus of this match.  A couple of wins over Jack Swagger, and it seems he's on the rise again.  But whatever momentum he gained, was plucked away when Batista Jr. got the win.  Here's my question, what WWE fan voted for this match?  I would think a Sin Cara-Evan Bourne match would be a WRESTLING fans dream come true.  Maybe that's the problem... this is an entertainment show right.   Now, I'm suspicious of the whole "voting" system...

Kane and Mark Henry had an arm wrestling match.  Or at least they started too.  I'm not sure, but I think at one point Michael Cole referred to Kane and Henry as former tag team partners.  Did he really say that or did I mishear him?  Were they ever partners?  Anyway this ended with a beatdown on Kane.  I seriously wish the E would make a decision on Henry.  He's been around 15+ years and goes through these peak and valley pushes along with face and heel turns.  It appears they're trying to make him a monster again...

The Really, Riley, Randy, Jimmy exchange between R-Truth, Christian, and the Miz was funny for about 2 seconds, then it got annoying.  Why was SmackDown general manager Teddy Long on Raw making a match? Four of the six competitors are from Raw too.  Wouldn't the Raw GM step in (or email in) and either give Long that authority or stop the match from happening.  Just sayin'...

So far, I'll say the Kofi Kingston-Dolph Ziggler match has been the best.  But why in the world would you have a fall take place during the commercial break?  I know I wasn't the only one to comment on that, but at least they showed the replay.  I've mentioned before I really like both of these guys.  I wished Kofi would have gotten a better push back during his feud with Randy Orton a couple years back.  Dolph to me should get a solid run as U.S. champ.  Maybe feud with John Morrison when he returns and groom both (all 3) of these guys as world title contenders.  But I hate when they end a best of 3 falls match with a DQ. I hated it when it happened in 1987 with the British Bulldogs against the Hart Foundation and I hated it Monday night.

The Triple Threat falls count anywhere match was pretty good too.  Del Rio is growing on me.  I really thought he was going to win this one.  Punk gets the victory, then announces his contract with WWE is up on July 18th, the day after Money in the Bank.  He promises he will leave the company as the WWE champion.  This got a lot of buzz online.  I still say Punk is working here.  I don't believe he'll win the title, and I don't believe he's going to leave the company.  At least not permanently.  But he may take some time away and be written off TV. I just don't see him leaving for good.  I think at first he was not planning to resign and then all the internet talk started.  In my opinion, the WWE is using that online speculation to help fuel buyrates for the pay per view.  Hardcore Punk fans will buy MITB to see his "last" match with the WWE.  Personally, I'd enjoy another title run for Punk.  But reading speculation that SummerSlam will be Cena vs. Del Rio, I'm not going to get my hopes up.

I was happy to see Daniel Bryan pick up a win.  I also like the fact that it appears Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase are working together again.  I'm hoping this is another step toward reforming Priceless.



I'll be honest, I fast forwarded through the main event, because I saw Super Cena and Boy Orton won the match.  Me telling you I'm sick of finishes like this is as repetitive as the matches themselves...

I'd give the overall show a B though if I were grading it.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Capital Punishment Review

By Chad Smart
WWE’s newly titled June pay per view is in the books. Personally, I’m glad WWE ditched the Fatal 4-Way concept pay per view as I’m not a fan of themed pay per views since they often lead to matches booked more for fitting the theme instead of having a legitimate reason for happening. How did the new pay per view fare? Here are my thoughts.

First off, the set was probably the most impressive looking pay per view stage outside of Wrestlemania. The Titantron was flanked by a replica White House set up which played into the Capital aspect as well as being held in Washington D.C.

Photo courtesy: WWE.com
Before I get into thoughts on the actual matches, I have to mention the segments with "President Obama." I didn’t think these types of segments worked back in the ‘90s with President Clinton and I wasn’t a fan of the segments on this show. I understand they were tongue in cheek segments, but having members of the WWE roster treat the imposter as if he was the actual President is just as bad as when TNA had Daffney portraying The Governor "Sarah Palin" and the Beautiful People acted like she was the real deal. Another issue I have with the segments is fans paid $44.99 for the show. The price is a bit steep for lame comedy, in my opinion. Though by now I should expect such segments on all WWE programming.

Photo courtsey: WWE.com
Two new mid-card champions were crowned. Dolph Ziggler won the US Title while Ezekiel Jackson on the Intercontinental title. Hopefully their reigns will be more memorable than the champions they beat. Remember when Kofi Kingston was feuding with Randy Orton and it looked like he was about to break through to upper mid-card status? How about when Wade Barrett was part of the hottest angle of the past few years? Both Kofi and Wade have fallen in the eyes of the fans. The Wade/Zeke match was so void of interest a "We want Zack" chant broke out midway through the match. Wade’s pre-match anti-America promo couldn’t even incite the audience enough to boo him. Something drastic needs to be done with Wade to rebuild the character and it needs to happen soon.

Courtesy: WWE.com
Alex Riley scored the upset of the night beating his former mentor The Miz. While I like to see new talent getting the chance to shine and feel wrestling companies tend to wait too long before pushing potential stars, the elevation of A-RY baffles me. How Riley goes from John Cena whipping boy to beating a former World Champion in the span of four weeks doesn’t make sense. The live fans seem to be behind Alex though, so who am I to criticize the lack of character development.

Mark Henry attacked the Big Show before his match. Henry slammed Show through the Spanish announce table reinjuring Show’s leg. Once the match started, I was once again shaking my head at wrestling logic, or the lack thereof. Big Show backed Alberto Del Rio into the corner to start the match, why Show didn’t throw his knockout punch to end the match is baffling. Del Rio kept attacking the leg eventually leading to Show being unable to stand and the referee stopping the match. With video surfacing of Del Rio at the E3 convention challenging John Cena to a match at SummerSlam, I figured this was step one in rebuilding Del Rio as a credible contender. Del Rio gets the victory, Big Show doesn’t suffer a pin fall, so neither guy looks weak. Besides the logic questioning, I was also bewildered by the use of Mark Henry. Is this the start of making Henry look like a monster again, or was it simply a way to get Big Show to sell the leg injury?

CM Punk and Rey Mysterio had another solid match that saw Punk turn a 619 attempt into Go To Sleep for the pin fall. During the match, Michael Cole started slipping back into obnoxious announcer mode. The announcing really distracted from the match. Before the match, Punk said after he beat Mysterio, he would do something shocking. Punk didn’t do anything after the match, so the shock may come on Raw or in the next few weeks.

Photo courtsey: WWE.com
Randy Orton defended his World Championship after being cleared to wrestle following a concussion. With the way the announcers played up the concussion, and the number of punches, kicks, slaps, and other moves putting impact on Randy’s head during the match, I got the feeling the concussion was more story line than real. Christian tried to finish of Randy with a spear to no avail. I don’t know how I feel about Christian using the spear. On one hand I can appreciate Christian paying tribute to his friend, Edge. On the other hand, taking Edge’s finishing move makes Christian look weak by needing someone else’s move to win matches. Randy hit an RKO for the victory after Christian leaped off the top rope jumping over Orton. Christian’s leg was under the bottom rope during the pin and the referee wasn’t even looking in the direction of Randy and Christian when making the three count. I’m expecting this to be mentioned on Smackdown and another match between Randy and Christian to take place at Money in the Bank pay per view.

Jack Swagger vs. Evan Bourne was a bonus added attraction. I’m not a fan of unannounced matches being put on pay per views unless they’re the result of events that happen on the show. The original ECW was good at creating matches during their pay per views. While announcing the match beforehand probably wouldn’t have led to a measurable about of added buys, just throwing guys out there screams, filler. During the match the Bella twins and Keystone mascot, Keith Stone were at ringside. The history between Michael Cole and Jack Swagger wasn’t brought up during the match. Can I say how I hate when events are forgotten simply because they don’t fit into the current story being told. It’s one thing if the events happened months or years ago, but when they happened weeks ago, it’s very annoying. This match was Swagger tossing Bourne around for the most part until Bourne made a comeback and got a roll up for the victory. Basically a lengthier Raw match.

John Cena and R-Truth had a match. That’s about all I have to say about it. I didn’t expect Truth to win the title and there was nothing during the match to make me feel I could be wrong. The ending with a kid throwing his soda on Truth leading to Cena throwing Truth back into the ring and delivering an Attitude Adjustment was very anti-climatic.

Overall Capital Punishment wasn’t a bad show. At the same time there was nothing on the show I’d recommend going out of your way to see. With the exception of new mid-card champions everything is the same in the WWE Universe and will probably continue during the upcoming weeks leading to the next pay per view.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bonding Over Sweaty Men in Spandex

Me, my dad, and my brother
By Kevin Hunsperger


Since it's Father's Day, I decided to revamp a blog I wrote two years ago on my other site.  This one looks back at my obsession with wrestling and how it started as a bonding experience with my dad and younger brother.

It was the early 1980's.  I'm guessing around 1981 or so.  I was about 8 years old and HATED professional wrestling.  My dad and brother, who's a year a half younger than me, were always watching it on TV.  This was before WWF had gone global.  Growing up in St. Louis, Wrestling at the Chase was a staple in our household.  But I never liked it.  I never got into any sports really.

Then in the summer of 1983, I finally gave wrestling a try.  I'm doing my best to remember, but I think it was a WWF Tuesday Night Titans show with Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka that really sticks out.  I also remember watching a show with my dad where Andre the Giant pulverized Nikolia Volkoff with a chair.  In my naivete, I remember thinking if this attack wasn't stopped, surely the Russian government would wage World War 3 on the United States (even though Andre was a Frenchman).

It seemed like back then, there were ALWAYS shows going on in St. Louis.  Usually NWA sanctioned events.  I can remember my dad, brother, and uncles attending events at the Kiel Auditorium and seeing the likes of Dick the Bruiser, Ric Flair, and a young babyface Ted DiBiase.  To this day I'm jealous of the fact that I was anti wrestling at the time and missed the classic brawl between Andre the Giant and Bruiser Brody.  I never had the chance to see Andre wrestle live.

But finally, I accepted wrestling and in December 1984, with my brother, dad, Uncle Dan (RIP), Uncle Tom, and a handful of family friends, we attended a WWF House Show at the old St. Louis Arena.  For folks who live in the Lou, you know the one I'm talking about, it had the checker dome top.  The main event was Hulk Hogan defending against Brutus Beefcake.  These were the pre-barber days of course.  We saw other superstars like Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, Junkyard Dog, and Cowboy Bob Orton.  What a great first house show for a kid.  I can still vividly remember most of that night and the excitement us kids felt when Hulk Hogan came bursting through the curtain to get to the ring.

A WWF House Show in 1986 featuring Iron Sheik
In the months and years that followed, we added more house shows.  We watched Ric Flair battle Bruiser Brody and Kerry Von Erich on separate occasions.  Back in 1986 we watched Harley Race win the "King of the Ring" tournament by pinning Ricky Steamboat in the finals.  It was a great match.  In addition to going to house shows, we watched World Class Championship Wrestling Sunday mornings at 10, followed by WWF Superstars at 11.  Sunday nights I would catch Mid South wrestling on cable and WWF ran shows on TBS back then too.

As we got older, my brother didn't watch as much wrestling, but dad and I still did.  We didn't really go to the house shows like we used to, but he did take me to the Kiel again to watch Wrestlemania 4 on closed circuit television.  It was like watching a movie, but instead we were surrounded by other wrestling fans.  It was pretty cool, and I got my authentic Hulkamania shirt there.  I still wear it for YouTube videos.

Shortly after that my dad took me to a neighboring town to get a closer look at King Kong Bundy.  Bundy was at the grand opening of the store taking Polaroid pictures with fans.  It was my first chance to meet a wrestling star up close, but for whatever reason I choked and didn't do it.  I told my dad the line was too long and I didn't want to stay.  I wish now that I would have stuck around.  In hindsight, I've stood in much longer lines to wait to meet much lesser stars.

After I went to college and moved back home, I didn't have a whole lot of friends who were in to wrestling.  Dad was there for me though.  We went to a couple more WWF house shows at the Kiel, which by then was the Savvis Center.  One was on Father's Day.  That was fun, spending the evening with my dad watching the likes of Shawn Michaels, Goldust, the Ultimate Warrior, and the not yet pushed Stone Cold Steve Austin.  We went again several months later and watched Rocky Maivia defend the Intercontinental title against Owen Hart.

Me & Mason at a WWE House Show in 2009
Now, I'm the dad with a kid who likes wrestling.  Guess it's in his genes.  Although he's not as hardcore about it as I was (I never missed a show), Mason does enjoy it a lot.  He has a bunch of action figures (they're not dolls) and likes to watch Raw when he has the chance.  Unlike me, Mason is obsessed with all sports, not just wrestling.

A couple years ago, I took him to his first WWE house show.  I bought him John Cena wrist bands and a Triple H t-shirt.  I know, nobody's perfect.  Every year he asks to go to Wrestlemania with me, and one of these times he'll get his chance.  But the Royal Rumble is coming to St. Louis in January, and I've already promised to take him there.  It will be his first pay per view.  I was 17 when I attended my first one, he'll only be 10.  Pretty cool.

I'm sure there are lots of sons who have memories of their fathers and grandfathers taking them to see wrestling when they were growing up.  There's something about bonding over sweaty guys in spandex with the men in your life.

Happy Father's Day.