Monday, April 30, 2012

My First Chikara Experience

First in line!
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

For years, I've listened to Chad hype the independent wrestling company Chikara.  Years I tell you.  He even drove 15 hours once to watch a series of shows in Pennsylvania.  I'll be honest, having watched just a bit of it on DVD, I didn't understand the appeal of driving all that way.  The shows were a bit campy in my estimation and while entertaining, lacked a wrestling company feel that I had been accustomed to.

But fast forward 6 years and my exposure to indy wrestling has exploded.  Besides working with All American Pro Wrestling for the last year, I've also been to several other shows, including ROH and Dragon Gate.  Then on Saturday, April 28 I attended my first Chikara show.  A day later, I was at my second show.  And what an experience.

My fellow AAPW comrades Adam Testa and Drew Robbins loaded up in my Prius (hopefully Daniel Bryan reads this) and headed to Chicago Ridge.  It was an estimated 5 and half to six hour drive, but we made it in about 4 and half.  We met AAPW Executive Producer Chris Hagstrom and Chad outside the building, ready to embark on two days of wrestling bliss.  Three shows, two towns, many countless memories.

Mr. Touchdown and me
Chikara opened the weekend up with "Hot Off the Griddle."  I must tell you I was really impressed not just with the talent in the ring, but the way they all interacted with the fans outside the ring.  I posed for pictures with the Colony (a group of wrestling ants), Mr. Touchdown (a wrestling football player), and Chuck Taylor (one half of the new campeones de parejas).  Not one of them asked for any money or for fans to buy their merchandise.  They were there and took the time to thank the fans for being a part of the show.

Without bashing ROH too much, I can't say the same about them.  Photos with their stars were $10 each. After the price of admission for three shows, travel, hotel, food, and other merchandise; I decided that was not a good deal.

The wrestling from both companies was solid.  This was booked as a Synergy event, and talent from both companies appeared on each other's cards.  El Generico for example wrestled on both shows, in the main event of Hot Off the Griddle he was pinned by the Queen of Wrestling, Sara Del Rey.  What an amazing contest that ended up being.  I will write and vlog more in the near future about that match and the topic of men vs. women in the ring.  Kevin Steen took Chikara Grand Champion Eddie Kingston to the limit in a match that the champ won by disqualification.  Steen definitely knows who to work the crowd, as many of the Rudos (heels) do.  Chuck Taylor for instance hurled Chad's cousin's bottle of Gatorade across the arena.  The kid was devastated.   A couple of other highlights from first day: Mixed Marital Archie, the Throwbacks, and the Colony.  All very entertaining and not too campy or over the top like I thought Chikara might be.

After the double shot Saturday afternoon and evening we headed about 40 minutes away to Indiana where we booked a hotel.  After a few hours sleep we headed south to Lafayette for day two of Chikara and the Contaminated Cowl event.  Because Lafayette is a much smaller town than Chicago Ridge, this show was in an old movie theater.  It was quite an intimate feel to it as well as we were so close to the ring that when guys were on the floor brawling we could reach out and touch them.

Chuck Taylor & me
It was another solid day of wrestling action, this time just by the men and women of Chikara though.  I got to get a pic with Mixed Martial Archie and watch FIST members (Chuck Taylor & Johnny Gargano) become two time campeones de parejas (a first for Chikara).  Chris got his hat tossed into the crowd, Chad's show was stolen and elbow dropped in the main event, and Adam had his shoe thrown across the room too.  Adam also tried to show respect to his team, 3.0 and offer up some Red Bull and Slim Jims, only to see the beverage dumped in the ring.  We interacted after the show again with the likes of Dasher Hatfield, who did 10 Questions with us a while back, Arik Cannon, and Chuck Taylor.

I'm so very glad I made this trip.  Not only did I get to witness Chikara live and in person for the first time ever, I had a great time with my friends. The saying getting there is half the fun is an understatement.  This is only the tip of the iceberg, there were so many memorable moments.  My hope now is that Chikara will head a bit further south in the future, maybe St. Louis or even southern Illinois.  How about it Quack?  Also, I hope that Darkness Crabtree and Dragon Dragon make a comeback too.

Don't forget to like us on Facebook and tune in to From the Rafters Radio each Thursday at 7 p.m. CST.  Click here for details.

Friday, April 27, 2012

WWE Cover Bands

Mariah Kerry Von Erich is one of my favorites
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

One of the cool things about Twitter (at least in my opinion) is the creativity some people show while on the social networking site.  Case in point, yesterday we say #WWECoverBands popping up all over the place.  I'm not 100% sure who started it, I saw it first in a CM Punk tweet, although I have reason to believe Marty DeRosa came up with it.

Wrestlers and fans posted several creative wrestling related music acts.  It's pretty simple if you think about it, yet very creative and fun as far as I'm concerned.  I've listed some of my favorites.

Scott Hall'n Oates
@AshleyFountain: Lady Ante-Bella Twins

@proudcaucasian: Torrie Wilson Phillps

@proudcaucasian: Mariah Kerry Von Erich

@bitterlunatic: Kerry Von Erich Clapton

@ChrisSchully: Manfred Mankind

@proudcaucasian: The Mamas & Papa Shango

@scottstanford1: Lauren Hill & the Mr. Fujis

@IHateMattDrufke: Jake "the Whitesnake" Roberts

@arikcannon: Olivia Newton John Laurinaitis

@proudcaucasian: Paula Abdullah the Butcher

@bitterlunatic: Scott Hall & Oates

@thelastjimperor: Rowdy Roddy Stryper

Kool & the One Man Gang
Here are my two contributions:

@kevinhunsperger: Kool and the One Man Gang

@kevinhunsperger: Grand Funkasaurus Railroad

You get the point.  This is just the tip of the iceberg, so if you're on Twitter and missed this over the last couple of days, type in #WWECoverBands and take a look.  Post your ideas here or over on our Facebook wall.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Get Well, Buff

Hanging with Buff Bagwell circa 1998
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Marcus "Buff" Bagwell continues to recover from a near fatal car accident.  The former WCW star crashed his Jeep after possibly suffering a seizure.

TMZ has released the 911 call from his wife, Judy.  She explains that Buff has been on medication.  You'll also hear from other witnesses to the crash.  Click this link to listen.

From the reports I've read Buff broke his neck in the accident.  I hope and pray that he makes a full recovery from this.  We all know he broke his neck several years ago while wrestling Rick Steiner.  I have seen no updates on his condition today (April 26) or if there has been an official ruling on the cause of the crash.

I had the pleasure of meeting Bagwell in 1998 when I was working as a news reporter in Alabama.  WCW was doing a live episode of Thunder in Huntsville.  A couple of coworkers and I headed over to do some pre-show interviews.  I had no idea who we were going to get to talk with, but Buff was one of the guys on the list. Right before we started rolling, we had a brief conversation.  He decided to do the entire interview in character, which was quite entertaining.  This was during his feud with the Steiners after Buff joined the nWo.  I felt like he played that cocky heel role nicely.  I know some people in the Internet Wrestling Community hate on Bagwell, but I found him to be a pretty cool guy.  We talked after the interview too, and I really enjoyed the experience.

Below is link to that interview too.  There are others on the video, including Bobby Heenan and Ray "the Big Bossman" Traylor.  We'll post updates on Bagwell's condition on our Facebook page when we get more details.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MMA is Finally Entertaining

Archibald Peck & company
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

One of my breakout stars of the last year is Archibald Peck. “Marchie” Archie, along with his majorette Veronica, made their debut at Chikara’s “Operation Big Freeze” in a losing effort against current Chikara Grand Champion Eddie Kingston.

In his second appearance, Peck issued an open challenge to any competitor in the locker room at King of Trios. Colt Cabana answered the challenge only to be defeated by the crafty bandleader. Archie would later reveal that when Eddie Kingston hit the Backfist to the Future in his debut match it actually sent Archie to the future where he picked up a sports almanac and knew who would answer the open the challenge.

(From Chikara)
Archie went on to rack up a 7-1 record leading into his rematch against Colt Cabana at Chikara’s first Ippv “High Noon.” Prior to the rematch Archie revealed his new mascot, Colt Cabunny. Cabunny had not been seen in Chikara since the 2005 Tag World Grand Prix where he teamed with CP Munk. Due to the treatment of Cabunny by Archie, Cabana was going into the match not only with the hope of avenging his loss but also to free the bunny. At the end of the match Colt Cabunny got involved and helped Cabana win the match.

Since the loss at “High Noon,” Archibald has gone on a 7 match-losing streak. The lack of trips to the pay window did not set well with Veronica who came out and said if Peck didn’t start winning she would stop accompanying him to the ring. Throwing another wrench into the situation was the debut of Mr. Touchdown. Anyone who has gone to high school can relate to the scenario of the cheerleader pining for the captain of the football team.

With the consecutive loses along with the loss of his valet, Archie decided a change was in order. Two weeks ago “Marchie” Archie was retired and Mixed Martial Archie debuted. I have not seen the match nor have I heard much about it. I don’t know much about the new gimmick, but I am curious to see it in action. “Marchie” Archie was fantastic (and his last match against Chuck Taylor from the 3/25/12 show in Canada is one of the greatest matches ever) and I have no doubt Mixed Martial Archie will be just as entertaining. Here is MMA’s promo leading into the contest this Saturday against Kobald.

For full thoughts on this weekends Chikara and ROH shows follow My123Cents on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wrestling with Logic (Yet Again)

CM "Drunk" (from WWE)
By Chad Smart & Kevin Hunsperger
@my123cents on Twitter

Throughout the majority of the three hour RAW on Monday, I kept having the same thought. Did we really need an extra hour just to see clips of Brock Lesnar beating up guys who are now on the TNA roster? Our good friend Adam Testa summed up the night pretty well in his article for the Baltimore Sun.

Besides being bored with the show, there were several moments that left me scratching my head, as the logic involved was even more illogical than normal. In no particular order here are things C&C Music Factory would look at and say Hmmm.

First up, the CM Drunk situation. Chris Jericho claimed Punk was drinking in the hours leading up to a WWE event and should therefore be stripped of the title based on some unknown rule. Johnny Ace orders Punk to take a field sobriety test in the ring to see whether or not Punk was in fact drunk. Why didn’t Punk have to take a Breathalyzer test? That would have given an accurate result and saved the audience 10 minutes of bad comedy. Instead we got Punk acting drunk, the police officer determining Punk to be drunk and then? Instead of Teddy Long stripping Punk of the WWE Championship, the Officer leaves, Punk screws up the alphabet in reverse, moonwalks and beats up Jericho.

The most mind scratching part of the event was the rule about WWE Champions not being allowed to drink before a show. Has this always been on the book, or was it an amendment added after Steve Austin was done being champion? I’m pretty sure Austin used to drink DURING WWE shows.

Several fans will most likely say, the new rule isn’t that big of a deal and it was there for the segment so just shut up and enjoy the show. To that I say, no. I’m tired of having my intelligence insulted. I have not problem with rules appearing on the book out of nowhere, but don’t make them contradict one of your biggest stars in the last 15 years. As we talked about last week on “From the Rafters” radio, each wrestling company sets up rules in their own universe and then builds on those rules. The good promotions will adhere to those rules. Bad promotions will ignore those rules and treat each show differently and do whatever they want whenever they want to fit the story they want to tell. Since Vince McMahon likes to talk about how WWE is an entertainment company and they “make movies,” the same rules apply in TV and films. Consistency is a trait of solid storytelling.

Kevin's 1-2-3 Cents:  I couldn't agree more.  Is this really how two superstars, who claim to be "the best in the world", should be booked?  As Gorilla Monsoon would say, give me a break!

This is more of a nitpick and doesn’t have anything to do with logic, but why are the Intercontinental and United States champions wrestling in tag team matches instead of singles matches?

Kevin's 1-2-3 Cents: Another valid point.  Why in the world won't the WWE look beyond the main roster and develop some tag teams.  There's a lot of talent being wasted.  Even the tag champs are at this point, but I have a feeling this is part of something big for them (at least I hope so)

Sign the dotted line (from WWE)
The main attraction of Raw was the contract signing between Brock Lesnar and John Cena for their match this Sunday at Extreme Rules. I don’t like contract signings because they don’t make sense to me. Does every match have a signed contract? When wrestlers show up to TV shows do they have to sign a contract with the person they are facing that night? How do impromptu matches happen if there’s no signed contract?

As I asked during RAW on our Facebook page, what would have happened if Brock or Cena didn’t sign the contract? Would a match WWE has been promoting and using as a selling point for the pay per view for the past 2 weeks not have taken place? What exactly did the contract signing accomplish?

RAW started with everything in place for the contract signing. Well everything except Brock Lesnar. Are we to believe Brock doesn’t have to show up before the show starts? That’s another pet peeve of mine. Wrestlers showing up after the show starts? The contract signing got postponed until the end of the show, even though Brock showed up at least an hour prior but when it was time for the signing, John Cena was nowhere to be seen. Was he in the bathroom? Did no one tell him the contract signing was coming up? Why wasn’t he waiting to come to the ring? Maybe he fell asleep when Brock started talking too. This whole segment in my opinion was horribly written. Brock has been with WWE for 3 weeks and he’s just now making a list of demands he wants before getting into the ring?

I also don’t understand John Cena’s character. He’s been the focal point of the company for eight years. He’s defeated everyone put in his path in that time. He loses one match to a former superstar and has another former star get the better of him and now he’s all super serious moody suffering from lack of confidence? I could understand if Cena talked about Brock’s UFC career and there was mention of their feud where Cena said Brock’s beat him before and Cena doesn’t know if he can beat Lesnar. While I think Edge cut a good promo and explained the reason why Cena needed to beat Lesnar, Cena’s mime routine last night didn’t do anything to make me care to see Brock vs. Cena. Maybe it’s just me.

Kevin's 1-2-3 Cents:  I'm still having trouble getting interested in Brock Lesnar.  I didn't like him in his first stint, and I'm not in to him now either.  I did however like the selective editing with the opponents that Lesnar destroyed early on.  Jeff Hardy, Hulk Hogan, and Kurt Angle.  Childish, yes.  Funny, indeed.

Family reunion? (from WWE)
Because I can’t think of anything they can do to make me care about a Kane vs. Randy Orton match, I’m not going to mention the segments with Paul Bearer. Trying to think if there’s anything else I need to complain about. I think I’ve said enough.

Kevin's 1-2-3 Cents:  I'm going to contradict myself here with this one, but I'm a wrestling fan.  I didn't mind the Paul Bearer bit.  It's become a running joke of sorts.  He's become the Kenny from South Park.  How many times will they kill off Paul?  It's inconsistent for sure, but hey it's fun in my view.

One other note from me, why in the heck is a Bella twin the Divas champion?  If they wanted to get the belt off of Beth Phoenix (which I still think was the biggest injustice of the night) why not have her drop it to Natalya or Tamina Snuka?

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Feel the Flow of 3.0

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

While Saturday’s show has a main event of Eddie Kingston vs. Kevin Steen, the Grand Championship match is not the only Chikara title match happening this weekend. On Sunday, April 30 in Lafayette, Indiana, newly crowned campeones de parajeas 3.0 defend the titles against the men they won the titles from Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano of team F.I.S.T.

This match up is a bit shocking given 3.0 won the titles one month ago in Chikara’s Canadian debut. In the world of Chikara before being able to challenge for the tag titles a team must accumulate three points. Three points are accomplished by getting three consecutive victories without suffering a loss. Losing the titles on March 24 and having a return match on April 30 is I believe the quickest turn around for getting a title match.

F.I.S.T. got their three points in one four-way match at Chikara’s last show, I’ll Be a Mummy’s Uncle on April 14. It took just eleven and a half minutes to eliminate the teams of the Maximos, QT Marshall & Jack Bonza, and the Bravados to secure three points. It’s pretty much a given Taylor and Gargano will be focused on regaining what they feel are rightfully theirs.

On the other side of the ring is the team of 3.0, Shane “Big Magic” Matthews and Scott “Jagged” Parker. 3.0 debuted in Chikara in February 2006 as 2.0. Their win-loss record over the next four years wasn’t real impressive. They were more concerned with having a good time then racking up victories. In 2010, 2.0 were booked in a loser leaves town match against the Badd Boyz, a tag team that had shown up earlier in the year. After 2.0 lost by count out due to not showing up, the Badd Boyz revealed they were really 2.0 and from that point on they would be known as 3.0 since they were new and improved.

3.0 got their first shot at the tag titles on September 18, 2010 coming up short in a valiant effort against champions Claudio Castagnoli and Ares of the BDK. 3.0 would not get another shot at the titles until March 24, 2012 when they beat F.I.S.T. for the titles.

I can’t see 3.0 dropping the titles in their first defense. Since Taylor and Gargano are feuding in other promotions, I’m curious to see if Chikara will work it into their story lines or if they’ll keep the Chikara universe separate much like there are alternate universes in the comic book worlds. Can we see Ultimate Chikara debuting soon?

While I predict the Kingston/Steen match to be a hard hitting all out brawl, I have a feeling the 3.0/F.I.S.T. match will be more technical based with some slight comedic antics sprinkled throughout the match. Much like the Grand Championship match, this title match could be worth the price of admission alone. If you’re near Lafayette, Indiana on Sunday, I doubt you’ll find anything more entertaining then Chikara’s show. Just be sure to stock up on pepperoni sticks and Red Bull before heading out to the show.

Follow My123Cents on Facebook and Twitter. We’ve been stocking the prize vault and may have another giveaway soon.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Silent Rage Is Silenced

"Silent Rage" & "Stone Cold" (WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

The period after Wrestlemania often brings an onslaught of "future endeavoring" and it appears that last year's Tough Enough winner Andy "Silent Rage" Leavine is the first casualty of the post Wrestlemania 28 era.  (Several wrestling websites are reporting this) But let's be honest is this really a big surprise?

Big Andy hadn't been seen on WWE television since winning the competition just over a year ago.  On the night of his big win, he was slapped by Mr. McMahon and on the receiving end of a Stone Cold Stunner by Steve Austin.  In my view, not exactly the way you want to introduce a new talent and "future superstar" to the world.  He made one last appearance in June 2011 in a backstage promo with CM Punk and Stone Cold.

The Dragon & Leavine (WWE)
He had been sent down to train and refine his skills with FCW.  They may have played a vignette on him down there at some point as well, but last summer he was suspended for a Wellness Policy violation.  In my view, not a good thing for anyone, but especially someone who the company had seemed to expressed such an interest in by taking them to the top of the Tough Enough competition.

It sucks for Andy that he's been released.  I don't wish termination upon anyone.  But really I didn't see much of a future for him on the main roster with WWE.  Honestly, I never really bought in to him.  I respect Andy Leavine, the man.  He has a family and is trying to follow his dream and do what's best for them.  But during the Tough Enough show, I did not feel like he truly brought his "A" game to the table (or the ring for that matter)

Matt Cross & company, AAPW Main Event
In the final weeks of the competition, I was solely behind Jeremiah Riggs.  But early in the show I was rooting for Matt Cross.  I felt like he was eliminated WAY too soon.  Now that I've met M-Dogg 20 (at AAPW Main Event), I really believe he has the tools to make it in the WWE.  The guy seems like a class act to me, and although I'd hate the thought of him not being a part of future AAPW events, I would love to see him reach his dream and make it to the grandest stage of all in the WWE.

But back to the point of this post, Leavine I believe is just the first in a series of releases coming our way in the next few weeks.  What are you thoughts on "Silent Rage"?  Did he ever get a fair shot?  Post your thoughts here or on our Facebook wall.

Is Chikara Big Enough for Eddie Kingston & Kevin Steen?

Photo by Scott Finkelstein
By Chad Smart@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

This coming weekend marks my first live Chikara events in seven years. When Chikara announced their return to Internet Pay Per View would happen on June 2, I figured shows leading up to Chikarasaurus Rex 3 would lay the groundwork for a blow away show. Instead, both shows this weekend, on paper, have the potential to be show of the year candidates.

One of the highlights on the Chicago show is the Grand Championship match between Eddie Kingston and Kevin Steen. The match is the result of a confrontation between the two at Ring of Honor’s 10th Anniversary show. Kevin Steen is trying to destroy ROH from the inside and wanted Kingston to help destroy Chikara. Eddie turned Steen down and the two came to blows.

The match marks Steen’s first in-ring appearance in Chikara in six years. Since I’m an idiot and sold my Chikara DVD collection, I couldn’t go back and re-watch Steen’s matches from the 2005 and 2006 Tag World Grand Prix events. I don’t remember the matches so I can’t comment on them. I have read that during his last match in Chikara, Kevin Steen uttered the mother of all swear words and since Chikara is a family friendly company, he had been blacklisted from the company ever since. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I do know the current Kevin Steen character doesn’t fit into the PG Chikara environment.

At the same time, the current Grand Champion Eddie Kingston stretches the boundary of the PG barrier. Even though he may not be the poster child for the wackiness usually associated with Chikara, Kingston bleeds for Chikara. Seeing someone walk into Chikara with the intention of taking the top title and figuratively (and possibly literally) pissing on it would crush Kingston’s pride. Therefore I see the self-proclaimed “war horse” bringing more of a fighting spirit to this match.

While I can’t see Kevin Steen walking out of the Chicago Ridge Field House with the Chikara Grand Championship due to not being a Chikara regular, there could be a lot of interesting stories to be told if he were able to defeat Eddie Kingston. With Ring of Honor running a show after Chikara on Saturday night, will Kevin Steen’s newest ally Jimmy Jacobs be in the building? Jacobs hasn’t been in Chikara since 2005 and in his last match he was on the losing end of a 6-man tag match. On the winning team that night? Eddie Kingston. While any other promotion would normally not address anything over six months old, Chikara has the memory of an elephant. If this somehow comes into play I will bow down to the Chikara brain trust for paying attention to the smallest details.

Another interesting aspect to the match will be the reaction from the crowd. With the Chikara/ROH doubleheader it’s a very likely scenario there will be fans that are more diehard Ring of Honor fans than Chikara fans. Will they be respectful of Chikara’s family friendly atmosphere or will they try and get themselves over with more adult oriented chants?

Saturday will be a great day of wrestling action. If you’re near Chicago Ridge, I highly recommend you head to the Field House and see some of the best all around entertaining shows you will have the opportunity to see this month.

Be sure to follow My123Cents of Facebook and Twitter and give us your feedback on the wrestling universe.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Giant Problem for WWE Tag Team Division

Show & Khali pin the champs (WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I know I'm about a week late with this, but I had to get it out there.  On the April 16 episode of Raw we finally saw the tag team champions in competition.  Granted, Epico and Primo were not defending the titles, they at least had a match.  But it was against the Big Show and the Great Khali.  What's worse, is then fact that the two giants went over on the champs.

This match left me shaking my head for a number of reasons.  Why is the Intercontential champion now involved in tag team competition?  I'm going to assume this was a one time only pairing, at least I hope it was.  My other concern is the fact that Show and Khali picked up the non title match victory.  Will they go for a rematch for the titles?  Lord I hope not.

Primo, Rosa, & Epico (WWE)
I really thought the WWE was about the turn the corner with the tag team ranks.  I was hoping after Wrestlemania that we'd at least see the champs a little more frequently.  They were left off the card at Wrestlemania (although they did win the dark match before the show)  Epico and Primo also didn't defend at Elimination Chamber.  In fact, since winning the tag team titles in January, the champs haven't had a title match on pay per view.  And as of this writing, they're not scheduled to defend at Extreme Rules next week either.  So when they finally have a match on TV, they lose to two guys who aren't a regular team?  How does this make any sense?

Of course this is nothing new for the WWE.  I've been complaining since I started this blog a year and a half ago about the treatment of the tag team division.  Every time I think things are turning around, I get disappointed.  Big Show and Khali winning that non title match is the tip of the iceberg as far as problems go with the division.  I can only hope that things change and the company comes up with some tag teams and story lines for  them.  There is a lot of talent being wasted right now.  They deserve better, and so do the fans.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wrestlemania: Setting Records

Rock vs. Cena (WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

The WWE is reporting the Wrestlemania 28 has set a record in terms of pay per view buys and the live crowd attendance at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.  There were 1.3 million PPV buys world wide, meaning more than five million fans watched the Rock vs. John Cena.  78,363 fans from all 50 states and 36 countries were live in attendance that day.

What conclusions can be made here?  Should the Rock get the praise for the higher buy rate?  Did fans from the Attitude Era come back as the Rock made his return?  While the numbers sound good on paper, it's not been reflective on the subsequent episodes of Raw.  Ratings are still down.  Even for the shows the Rock appeared on.

Rock wins at Survivor Series
But Survivor Series 2011, which truly marked the Rock's return to the ring pulled in 281,000 PPV buys, which was significantly up from 2010's event of 244,000.  I think it would be foolish to not credit the Rock for at least some of the increases in buys.  But can one person be credited completely for the popularity of Wrestlemania?

I was skeptical about the Rock going over Cena at the event.  I still don't agree with it, but I'm assuming there is still some kind of bigger picture thing we're still waiting to see pan out.

I wonder with the success of the Rock's return (in PPVs buys) will the WWE continue to bring back stars from wrestling's boom period?  Of course time is not on the company's side, as the Rock may be one of the few guys who is still in as good of shape (if not better) than he was 12 years ago.

So while the WWE touted it as the end of an era at Wrestlemania, I have trouble believing that will so many buys we won't see more of that "era" at future events.

Your thoughts?  Post them here or on our Facebook wall.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Video a Day in the Month of May

My 1-2-3 Cents on YouTube
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

 Hey friends, I'm going to attempt to launch a new initiative in May. My plan right now is to post a new video every day in May. It rhymes for one, and I haven't really been consistent with the YouTube channel. I'm hoping this will help increase subscriptions and views as well as provide someone out there with some useful information.

 What I'd like to know from you is what types of wrestling talk videos do you watch. Some channels out there have videos with hundreds, even thousands of hits. That is my ultimate goal. Right now my series of "One on One" wrestling interviews is the most viewed. I've had an opportunity to meet and interview some really great stars from the past and present.

So besides those types of videos, what would you like to see on the channel. If you don't want to post comments here, please email me, I'm looking forward to this project and getting "YOUR" 1-2-3 Cents too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lockdown: Building a Champion

Bobby Roode (ImpactWrestling)
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

It’s been awhile since I’ve written one of these. Between the Wrestlemania trip and the recouping from the Wrestlemania trip, my writing had been put on the backburner. Well actually it was behind the backburner. While I had some thoughts on recent events in wrestling, Brock’s return, the re-debuts of Albert and Skip Sheffield, I think too much time has passed to where my thoughts are past their expiration date. If you are interested in my thoughts on those subjects you can check out the archives of “From the Rafters” radio program.  You should also listen to the show every Thursday night at 7pm CST. AAPW staff members Chris Hagstram, Adam Testa and the wrestling roommate Aaron Heller, join Kevin for an hour of wrestling discussion.

So without the other topics to cover, I needed to find something to write about. Thankfully TNA had a pay per view on Sunday, and like most TNA shows, it left a bad taste in most of the viewer’s mouths. I didn’t see the show so I’m only going by reports but in this instance I think the fans are missing the bigger point.

In the World Title cage match between former tag-team partners James Storm and champion Robert Roode, Storm was on the verge of victory before super kicking Roode who fell out of the cage through the door and winning the match. Fans were outraged because they claimed the ending made Roode look weak and the build up was perfectly suited for Storm winning. While there may be reasons to support those arguments, I think the ending while maybe not perfect was the right way to go.

First off, James Storm is one of the few original stars TNA has managed to create in their 10-year history. Losing the match won’t stall Storm’s momentum. Especially since fans will feel Storm was robbed of the title and will get behind him as he attempts to get another shot at the title.

Impact Wrestling
On the other hand, Robert Roode has grown into a solid champion and I feel TNA should let Roode hold the title for quite a while longer. One of my biggest complaints with the current wrestling booking philosophy is to hot shot titles with no rhyme or reason. In today’s environment it’s safe to assume 80% of members of the roster will be known as former World Champions. I know Kevin and I tend to romanticize the 80s as a golden era in wrestling and we’re seeing the past through rose-colored glasses. Looking at that era though, look at all the guys who would have been credible World Champions yet never held the title. Guys like Ted DiBiase, Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, and Bam Bam Bigelow. None of these guys are thought of any less because they were never world champions. So why do current wrestling bookers/writers/whatever seem to think every wrestler should be champion?

Getting back to Robert Roode, I’d like to see TNA keep the title on Roode at least through Bound For Glory. Give him some solid competition and let him win some matches decisively. TNA has created an original star in Roode. Hopefully the trend of bringing in ex-WWE guys and immediately pushing them to the top is over. TNA has established a solid champion. They shouldn’t sacrifice Roode for a cheap pop. Continue to let him grow and add some legitimacy to the title.

Flair & Hogan (Impact Wrestling)
One item from Lockdown that does have me scared though is the possible match between Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. It’s been 20 years since this match up was captivating. 14 years since it was watchable. In 2012, neither guy should be competing in a match. So, TNA, please just say no.

For more thoughts and opinions, remember to listen to From the Rafters radio program and become fans and followers of My123Cents on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Oh Lord (Tensai)

From WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Lord Tensai has been on WWE TV for the last two weeks.  I've got to assume he will be on Raw again this evening, making it a third time fans will get a look at the repackaged Prince Albert/A-Train superstar.  I'll be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of Albert's back during his first stint with the WWE, teaming up with Droz and later Test and eventually even the Big Show before making a run as Intercontinental champion.

Tensai has spent the last few years mastering his craft in Japan.  From all the reports I've read on line he's had a lot of success overseas and has developed as a wrestler.  So far, I'm not 100% on board with this new character.  I haven't noticed a whole lot of differences yet.  That could be more apathy on my part than a lack of development by Tensai.

His first match on Raw a couple of weeks ago was a squash against Alex Riley.  Remember him?  He's the guy who beat the Miz last year about this time and was seemingly on his way up the ladder.  Looks like that's all but over now.  Then just last week, he destroyed Yoshi Tatusi.  In both matches Tensai won when the referee declared that his opponents were too incapacitated to continue.  I'm not sure how I feel about that either.  If he refuses to pin his opponent and keeps beating on them, wouldn't that warrant a disqualification?  Am I being too critical and reading too much into this?  Probably so.

Tensai destroys Riley (WWE)
Tensai means "disaster" in Japanese, and I get that is the whole point of these squash matches right now.  My concern at this point is what's the long term big picture look like?  And by that I mean even the next few months.  In a way, Tensai reminds me of the repackaged Jamal from Three Second Warning a few years ago.  Remember when Umaga came to the ring and just tore his opponents apart?

Some positive things about Lord Tensai, I like the fact that they are acknowledging he had a past with the WWE.  While I haven't heard them say Albert or A-Train, the commentary team has at least said he's wrestled in WWE before and went to Japan to hone his skills.  Secondly, I like the idea that this is another character type wrestler.  I personally am sick of the cookie cutter blue print of much of the current roster.  Many of the guys either wrestle under their real name or have a fictitious name that sounds real.  Not everyone has to be a character or a gimmick, but it's nice that they're adding more of that to the show.  I also like that he has a manager, another old school element that is missing from today's product.  I'll be curious if we ever actually hear from Sakamoto.  I'm not even sure if at this point it's safe to say he is Tensai's manager.  Only time will tell I suppose.

From WWE
Right now I don't see him climbing much higher than the mid card, but I could be wrong.  Sure he has the potential, but I don't know how long fans will want to endure squash match, after squash match with the big guy before they're hungry for something more.  It'll be interesting to see who he crosses paths in terms of a big time challenger.   I will admit though that I like the idea of a strong monster heel push.  I'm just not sure if Lord Tensai is the guy I'm ready to get behind.  Before I totally dismiss him, I'm going to give him some more time.

As always, we want to hear your thoughts.  Post your comments here or on our Facebook wall.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sharp Dressed Men (and Women)

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Photos in this blog are courtesy: WWE

The world of wrestling has produced some of the most creative and quite honestly awesome costumes in the business.  It's also generated some of the most ridiculous and hideous wardrobes too.  But today, I'm going to focus on some of my favorite.  There are a ton out there that I've liked through the years, but these are just a few of the ones that stick out to me.  They all popped into my head while driving home from work.

Ohhh yeah!
"Macho Man" Randy Savage falls into my favorites twice.  First, I liked his simple pink, orange, or green tights with the three stars on them.  The purple Macho Man shirt, headband, and sunglasses topped with a long, flowing sequin robe completed the look.  And of course when he had Elizabeth by his side, she was always dressed elegantly and always looked like a lady.  The night of Wrestlemania IV really stands out as she had a different dress for each of Randy's four matches in the WWF title tournament.  I don't recall now if Macho Man wore a different pair of tights and robe for each contest or not.  Even when Savage won the "king" title from "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and adopted the cowboy hat, fringed jacket, and wildly colored tights, he pulled it off.  It's not exactly a wardrobe you'd associate with a man calling himself Macho, but Randy Savage made it work.  It was one of wrestling's most flamboyant yet cool costumes ever.

Punk's tribute
I like the fact that CM Punk from time to time dons the pink tights with white stars and yellow kneepads and boots to pay homage to the Macho Man.  It's hard not to mark out too when he climbs the top rope and drops the elbow.  Granted it doesn't quite have the same impact that Savage's did, but it's still a great sign of respect to the late, great Macho Man.

It seemed Ric Flair had a different robe every time he came to the ring.  Even when I was a kid and booing "Nature Boy" when he did battle with my favorites like Kerry Von Erich, Bruiser Brody, and Magnum TA, it was hard not to notice how cool Slick Ric looked.  When he wasn't in the long robe and tights, he was in a three piece suit, sunglasses, and Rolex watch, looking like a million bucks.  Flair lived the character from head to toe, and all I can say about that is wooooo!

Rey flies high
Rey Mysterio has made it a tradition to come out in different, specially made costumes at Wrestlemania and other special events. He's been an Aztec Warrior, a character from Avatar, and the Flash.  But I think my favorite creation in the high flyer's wardrobe came at Wrestlemania 27 when he was dressed like Captain America.  I'm not a comic book or superhero fan by any means, but I really liked the way the costume looked.  It personified that PG image the WWE had been striving for and made the always likable Rey Mysterio seem even more super human than before.  Despite the fact that the costume didn't give him any super powers (he lost to Cody Rhodes) it was still a memorable look for him.

Who let the dogs out?
Bobby Heenan makes the list for his costume at Wrestlemania IV.  When forced to join his tag team, the Islanders in a six match tag match against the British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware, Heenan outdid himself.  Instead of resorting to traditional wrestling gear, the Brain came out to wrestle in the attack dog handler's uniform.  He was padded and protected not only from the opposing team, but also their mascot, the always eager to bite bulldog Matilda.  The suit worked to protect Heenan and he even scored the winning fall, covering a helpless Koko B. Ware for the three count.

Puppy power
Sable makes the list for of the most memorable costumes as well.  I think it's probably obvious why.  I'm a red blooded American male (no correlation to Marcus Bagwell or Scotty Riggs) and of course this one ranks high on the list.  The handprint bikini made its appearance at the 1998 In Your House: Fully Loaded pay per view.  This of course was a time when the Attitude Era was in full effect.  The WWF was doing whatever it took to win the ratings war, and adding some T&A (a lot actually) to the product helped them win that battle.  Sable and Jacqueline were feuding at the time and had a bikini contest prior to their actual match.  Sable won by popular vote when she dropped her robe to reveal two strategically painted handprints.  Of course the dirty old King Jerry Lawler nearly lost it right there in the ring.  But because it wasn't technically a suit made of material, Sable was disqualified.  How is that possible?

So these are just a few of my favorite costumes from the world of wrestling.  I'm sure in the coming weeks I'll write something about the fashion faux pas' of the past.  Be sure to like us on Facebook and let us know who makes the best and worst dressed lists in your opinion.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We're Back!!!

AAPW tag team champs Team Overkill
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

All American Pro Wrestling, the premiere independent wrestling company in southern Illinois, returns to television this weekend.  It's exciting to be a part of something like AAPW.  I've had the pleasure of calling the action during season one.  Executive Producer Chris Hagstrom and I reprise our roles for season 2.

The first episode airs Saturday, April 14 at 11 a.m.  Fans in the southern Illinois, southeast Missouri, western Kentucky, and northwest Tennessee area can watch on the local ABC affiliate WSIL TV.  (It's KPOB for our fans in Poplar Bluff, Missouri)  If you don't live in the region, don't worry.  Collision will be available online after each episode airs on TV.  Just head to AAPW's website for all the details.

I don't want to give away too many details, but episode one features a clarification of the AAPW title picture.  There's a battle royal to determine the number one contender to the heavyweight title, a tag team championship match, and an announcement about the new "No Limits" Division.  When season 2 ends, there will be a new No Limits champion crowned.

After you watch Collision Saturday (April 14), head out to Harrisburg for the Hands Across Harrisburg benefit show.  AAPW stars will take the ring at 2 p.m. at the Saline County Fairgrounds.  This is a fundraiser for the victims of the Leap Day tornado that killed seven people, injured more than a hundred others, and destroyed a number of homes and businesses in the region.  Hometown hero Heath Hatton challenges Edmund "Livewire" McGuire for the AAPW heavyweight title.  Should be a great match, plus there will be a couple of first round matches in the No Limits tournament.

Expect more big things to come as the season progresses.  I'm excited and can't wait to see how things are going to go.  Also, be sure to tune in to From the Rafters Radio each Thursday night at 7 o'clock CST.  You can tune in by clicking on this link and listen live or catch the replay anytime.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Funny Equals Money? Not This Time

The 3 Stooges on Raw (WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

It's been said before that funny doesn't equal money in wrestling.  It's a slam against so called comedic wrestlers.  Santino Marella and Zack Ryder come to mind immediately.  While they're likely never going to be world heavyweight champions in their current gimmicks, I do find both men to be entertaining for the most part.  I'll go ahead and throw Brodus Clay into that pot too.

However, the WWE's integration of the Three Stooges on the April 9 episode of Raw was lame.  Sometimes the guest hosts work, the Muppets and Bob Barker were enjoyable in my opinion.  But the Three Stooges may go down as one of the lamest in the history of the show.  The first segment with Santino made me wish I wasn't watching the show live.

Chokeslam! (WWE)
I will admit though that the Kane segment brought a smile to my face.  I know Kane is the heel and the Stooges (specially Curly or Will Sasso) are the faces and there to entertain.  Sasso's mannerisms as Hulk Hogan were down to a tee, but it was enjoyable for me to see him get chokeslammed.  I think the fans in attendance agreed.  I only hope this doesn't lead to Sasso's induction into the WWE Hall of Fame Celebrity wing (after all he did wrestle Bret Hart on Nitro back in 1999)  Luckily this segment lasted only a few minutes.

I'm not going to rant too much on this, as it appears it was just a one night only situation.  Sure it took time away from more important wrestlers.  It would have been nice to see the tag team titles defended.  Remember those guys?  I wonder if the creative team does.