Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Three Hours and Still No Divas

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my12cents on Twitter

I had started to write about the comment Abraham Washington made during the Kofi Kingston/Titus O’Neil match and how it had led to some unnecessary backlash. Then I realized I was fanning a fire that never should have caught flame. So instead I’ll turn my attention back to my initial thought for today’s blog and write about RAW and try to figure why with an extra hour there were still several Superstars and Divas missing from the show.

Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus
First off I have to compliment WWE for actually giving us some wrestling on the show. I was skeptical that even with an extra hour the amount of wrestling on RAW would remain the same, as it was when there were only two hours. This was based on the fact RAW 1000 only had 26 minutes of in-ring wrestling action. My fears seemed justified when the opening match of Santino vs. Alberto Del Rio had 4-minutes of on airtime. Then something crazy happened. WWE basically booked a main event for each hour and gave them all around 15 minutes to showcase the talent and tell a story. Overall there was close to 56 minutes of wrestling on RAW. If they can keep up that average, I think wrestling fans may start tuning back into the show.

Sadly, that’s about the only positive I can give RAW. I know I’m not the typical wrestling fan and I tend to be more critical than most so my opinions may not carry water. That said, I found RAW to be a very dull show. Factor in that I only saw the first hour and the last 45 minutes of the show. I missed a third of the show and still found it almost unbearable. As I sat there watching RAW and feeling bored, I tried to figure out why I wasn’t enjoying the show as much as other people who were posting on message boards. The biggest complaint I could think of is the show has a very repetitive feel to it.

Awesome Lionsault
I think I’ve written about this before, but it’s time WWE finds a way to build up to pay per view matches without having guys who are feuding interact with each other on every show. Now that the brand extension is dead, we’ll most likely see Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho have a match or dueling promo with each other on both RAW and Smackdown for the next three weeks. Going back to last week and that’s eight consecutive interactions. By the time SummerSlam gets here, I’ll be tired of seeing the same guys in the ring with each other. At least Alberto Del Rio said he isn’t going to wrestle again until SummerSlam so hopefully he won’t be interfering in Sheamus’ matches and the two guys will stay apart from one another. Do you really think though that Big Show, CM Punk and John Cena will not lay a literal or verbal beating on one another for three weeks? When I see the same wrestlers fighting week after week, show after show, I get burnt out. Why would I want to pay $45 for something I’ve already seen numerous times?

From reading comments on the show, one of the biggest complaints was the number of recap packages. Since I didn’t see the entire show and was preoccupied during some of the parts I did see, I can’t really comment on the recaps. I did find it unnecessary to recap something that happened right before the commercial break when coming back from commercial. I know commercial breaks are long, but seriously, if you need to recap something that happened five minutes ago, it probably wasn’t meaningful in the first place.

As the title of this blog states, even with three hours there were no divas on the show. Not that the WWE Diva division is all that impressive at the moment, but surely in 180 minutes, they could find 5 minutes to devote to the girls. I think one of the biggest problems in WWE right now is establishing new stars, or really anyone not associated with the World or WWE titles. I’m going to contradict myself a bit, but would anyone have really been upset if instead of getting Tensai vs. Tyson Kidd, we would have seen Layla vs. anyone? The crowd has yet to care about Tensai and WWE doesn’t seem to want to make Tyson Kidd meaningful, so what was the point of the match? In the same manner, why not give Antonio Cessaro some meaningful story? Maybe start moving Ryback into an area beyond fighting jobbers. I did like the impression they may be setting Damian Sandow and Brodus Clay into a feud. Not every pay per match has to revolve around a title. When wrestlers are thrown out and treated as an afterthought, that’s how the fans will react to them because that’s how fans have been trained over the last 15 years. When a wrestler is presented as being important fans will eventually come around. At least that’s how I explain Randy Orton’s popularity.

Punk, Cena & Big Show
Anyway, the first three hour RAW wasn’t as bad as I expected. Maybe that says more about my pessimistic nature than it does about WWE’s ability to produce a good show, I don’t know. While it wasn’t a home run, it was a solid effort. We’ll see if there are any tweaks or formula changes in the coming weeks.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

U.S. Title: Damaged Goods?

U.S. Champions through the years
Photos courtesy:
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Magnum T.A., Dusty Rhodes, and Harley Race.  They're just a few of the greats to hold the United States championship.  That was back in the NWA and the title was second only to the World Heavyweight championship.  That was a lifetime ago.

Since the WWE has brought back the legendary title, it's been more of a prop in my opinion.  The same could be said about the Intercontinental title, but I do believe the company is trying to restore some of the old glory to that title.  I don't know if it's because it's an old WCW title and Vince McMahon didn't "create it", but it seems like the U.S. means nothing.  But really it seems that most titles in the WWE these days have little to no value.  When a belt gets hot potatoed every few months (or in some cases weeks) it devalues the titles.

I grew up in the era when Hulk Hogan held the world title for four years.  Honky Tonk Man was IC champ for 64 weeks.  Randy Savage had a more than year long world title run.  Since May 2011 (which is 14 months as of this writing) the U.S. title has changed hands five times.  I had no problem with Kofi Kingston or Dolph Ziggler or heck even Jack Swagger's reigns.  It was Zack Ryder's run (please don't hate on me, I love Zack Ryder but he was NOT ready for a major title run when he got it, I mean look at him now) and current champ Santino's run that bother me.  Both of these guys were lower mid card when they won their titles (if even that)  Neither man brought nothing to the title in my view.  And again, I enjoy each as performers and entertainers, but I'm still of the mindset just being over with the fans does not equate a title run.

Cesaro wins! Next champ?
Photo courtesy:
Santino's title has been in jeopardy or so I thought a couple of times.  I thought they might go with Alberto Del Rio as the champion when Santino was feuding with Ricardo Rodriguez (a ring announcer in the WWE, keep that in mind)  I'm very encouraged that after the July 27 episode of SmackDown! that Antonio Cesaro scored a non title pinfall win over Santino.  While Antonio is a newcomer to the WWE, he's a very established star in the independent world and if booked properly could bring some of the luster back to the U.S. championship.

Just to recap, I don't dislike Santino at all, I just think putting one of the most prestigious titles in the history of wrestling on his waist is a real waste of gold.  The focus needs to go back in to restoring some integrity to the titles the WWE has, including the tag team titles.  But that's a topic of conversation for another day.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Where Are the Heels?

Joey Ryan at Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

Last Saturday, (July 21) I attended Pro Wrestling Guerrilla’s ninth anniversary show, Threemendous 3. I had a couple of co-workers who decided they wanted to see what the independent wrestling scene was like so I agreed to go with them to the Reseda American Legion Hall in celebration of PWG’s anniversary. My co-workers ended up having to cancel their trip due to other obligations, but since tickets were already bought, I found replacement peeps and went anyway. Initially I wasn’t too excited about the line up. I felt the two title matches would be good but the undercard lacked any real stand out matches. After the show, I was pleasantly surprised at how good the show was with a couple of matches I didn’t expect much from ending up being really impressive. However, I noticed something that has been plaguing the Indy scene for quite some time. There are hardly any heels.

In the eight matches featuring 22 wrestlers, I would say only three wrestlers acted and were treated like heels. Joey Ryan was his usual sleazy, arrogant self, who elicits half cheers and half boos from the audience. Since turning heel a year and a half ago or so, the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) have amped up their annoying personalities and get a massive heel response from the crowd. Then you have guys like PWG Champion Kevin Steen, Sami Callahan and Chuck Taylor who by their actions should be considered heels yet they get more cheers from the audience than boos.

Kevin Steen
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
I’m not saying wrestling fans should automatically cheer faces and boo heels, I believe in freely being able to treat wrestlers however you choose. I don’t care if WWE has Randy Orton coming out kissing babies, petting dogs and curing cancer, I don’t think I’ll ever cheer him. The bigger issue is it seems very few wrestlers want to be full on heels. Sure they may want to be a cool heel, which is the category I’d put Kevin Steen in, but few wrestlers appear to be full on dastardly heels.

Maybe it’s not entirely the wrestler’s fault. Perhaps the fans are to blame. Because Indy shows are smaller and fans have more interaction with the wrestlers, instead of seeing them as strictly a performer in the ring, they see them as a friend they talk to after the show and this leads to the fans wanting to be supportive, but not critical. One of my biggest pet peeves with independent wrestling matches from the crowd perspective is the overuse of dueling chants. I believe it just about every match at the PWG show there was a “Lets Go Wrestler A,” "Lets Go Wrestler B” chant several times throughout the matches. Granted fans on the Indy level are more die hard wrestling fans than your normal WWE/TNA fan and appreciate the athletic aspect of what wrestlers do more than just wanting to hear a catchphrase or see the top guy. This may lead to wanting to see a good match up over seeing a specific wrestler.

Ladder match
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
The problem I have with this though is that if you’re not rooting for a specific wrestler than the matches become unnecessary. Maybe not unnecessary, the matches become meaningless. Who cares who wins or who loses? As long as the match can get a “This is Awesome” chant the fans leave happy. Maybe it’s the old school fan in me, but I miss the days where you had a wrestler you wanted to see get his comeuppance and had a wrestler you wanted to see succeed. While I appreciate a well contested back and forth match and can acknowledge a heel’s talent, is it too much to ask for to have actual real heels in today’s wrestling universe?

I think that’s part of why I enjoy Chikara as much as I do. (Come on, you didn’t think I’d write a blog and not get a Chikara plug in did you?) Between The Swarm, Tim Donst, The Batiri and Icarus, they have guys who relish in being heels and fans enjoying booing them.

Anyway, that’s my take. What do you think? Should heels be more pronounced in today’s wrestling environment? Share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Raw 1000: Lose the Attitude

Raw 1,000
St. Louis, MO
Photo courtesy: Aaron Heller
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

After watching WWE’s 1000 episode of Monday Night Raw, I found it to be a lot like “Prometheus” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” If I simply took it as three hours of entertainment it was a good show. If I started to really think about what was on the show and what was accomplished during those three hours I found the show to be a perfect example of what is wrong in today’s WWE product. Since I have this blog as a means of expression, you know I had to think about the show and not sit back and just be entertained.

Going into the show, I didn’t know what to expect. With the reports of past Superstars being there, I figured we’d get a lot of segments where they tried to shoehorn as many guys into one segment as they could. Really there were only two such segments. I also expected a lot of flashbacks and montages to recap the previous 19 years of RAW. There were only two such segments, the catchphrase montage and a look at the Austin/McMahon feud. I’ve heard conflicting reports about why “Stone Cold” Steve Austin wasn’t there. Given they didn’t even have a video of him commenting on RAW leads me to believe the public reason given isn’t the 100% accurate one.

With three hours and only two packages shown, the amount of wrestling on the show wasn’t much different than a normal episode of RAW. There were only five matches on the show for about 26 minutes of wrestling. That includes one match that went 2 minutes and one that went for 10 seconds. If that’s what we can expect from the new weekly 3 hour RAWs, I have a feeling fans who watch via DVR are going to do a lot of fast forwarding.

Getting into the actual content on the show I was once again reminded of one important wrestling truth, the only time wrestling was important was from 1997-2000. Michael Cole mentioned the Attitude Era at least 5 times when talking about former stars. I understand that without the Attitude Era, RAW most likely wouldn’t be 3 hours now because it most likely wouldn’t have gone to 2 hours in the first place if it wasn’t for WCW Nitro getting better ratings. We also wouldn’t be watching pay per view caliber match ups on a weekly basis if not for the Attitude Era. My problem is the Attitude Era ended 11 years ago and the WWE and fans alike refuse to let it go.

DX takes care of Sandow
Photo courtesy:
On Raw 1000 we saw DX beat up Damian Sandow, Lita and the APA destroy Heath Slater, Kane and Undertaker took out the Smackdown Job Squad and to a lesser degree The Rock verbally bitch-slapped Daniel Bryan. We also found out a guy who has wrestled two matches in the last 8 years gets a title shot at the Royal Rumble. Sure the fans were into it and cheered wildly as these former stars did their shtick but next week on the 1001 episode of RAW which of these people will be on the show and which will be a memory? Bringing back profanity, innuendos, hardcore matches and crash TV won’t make the current WWE as successful as the Attitude Era. What made the Attitude Era was the collection of talent and the way they were used. When “Stone Cold” or The Rock were on their rise from mid-carders fans couldn’t care less about to mega-stars, you never saw Hulk Hogan, Bob Backlund, or “Superstar” Billy Graham show up and deliver a beat down. Austin and Rock were treated like rock stars and were given a chance to connect with the fans with unscripted promos. If both guys were new stars in WWE today, do you think either one would become the star they are with the way shows are booked and talent is used? Remember, it took Austin 3 years and Triple H being punished for the “Stone Cold” character to become popular. When he started his ascension he wasn’t being laid out by the champion on a weekly basis like Dolph Ziggler or being squashed by mid-card comedy acts like Jack Swagger is these days. If Superstars aren’t presented as Superstars the fans won’t treat them as such.

The Rev. Slick returns
Photo courtesy:
Lets get back to Raw 1000. One of my biggest disappointments was the former stars that showed up. I tried to avoid all spoilers so I would be genuinely surprised when someone from the past was shown. Other than Slick, Lita and the APA there were no real surprises. We got the standard legends that appear anytime they need legends, Jim Duggan, Roddy Piper and Sgt. Slaughter. And we got all the guys who have beat up Heath Slater for the past month. I don’t know why other guys weren’t there. Maybe there were a lot of scheduling conflicts. There was also the disappointment of having Jim Ross and Howard Finkel on the show yet not having them involved with the main event WWE Title match. Having The Fink do the introductions of John Cena and CM Punk and having JR call the action would have added to the importance of the match. Even if JR only speaks in sound bytes these days.

Not only did I feel the show lack in former stars, it lacked in current stars big time. On a three hour show the only current diva to make an appearance was the Diva’s Champion, Layla, who was used in a backstage comedy bit. Where were the other divas? At least Layla got to be in a segment. Kofi Kingston, one half of the Tag Team Champions, only made the show because he sent in a Tout video. Was the show really that crunched for time where a multi-team tag team match or a Divas match couldn’t take place?

New Raw GM: AJ!
Photo courtesy:
Overall, as I said in the beginning, RAW was entertaining for the most part but there was a lot of head scratching when it came to what made it on the show. I’m not even going to get into the AJ is the new General Manager of RAW. I am so tired of the authority figures in wrestling. WWE please get a new playbook and start thinking outside the box when it comes to booking the show.

What did you think of RAW 1000? Was it as satisfying as you hoped it would be or did it come up short? Are you excited for SummerSlam or should they cancel all pay per views until the Royal Rumble? Share you thoughts on our Facebook page, or on Twitter. Please don’t send us any Tout videos. It’s hard enough to keep up with two social media sites.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Raw Memories: #1 Nature Boy's Sendoff

Raw Moment #1:
Ric Flair's Sendoff
Photo from: My 1-2-3 Cents
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

When thinking back on the previous 999 episodes of Raw, I debated on which moment would top my personal list of favorites.  I chose Ric Flair's sendoff after Wrestlemania 24 for a couple of reasons.  Probably the most important one is that I was there in the live crowd for it.

Chad and I had attended Wrestlemania 24 and witnessed Flair's last match ever (or so we thought).  It was an emotional night to say the least.  We all knew in hearts that Flair was going to lose with all the hoopla around his Hall of Fame induction the night before, but it still stung when the referee counted three.  The 16 time champ had tears in his eyes before HBK even connected with his Sweet Chin Music, so you can imagine what it was like when the match was over.

4 Horsemen reunite!
Typically when we go to Wrestlemania, we leave the next morning.  But for 24, we bought the Wrestlemania Package, which included tickets to Universal Studios.  We decided to hit the park on Monday and spend an extra day in Orlando.  When we got back to the hotel late that afternoon, Chad read online that the Four Horsemen were going to be at Raw for Flair's official sendoff.  Without hesitation, we decided to head downtown and see if we could get tickets.  Much to our surprise, not only were tickets available, but they were good seats and really not at all expensive.

The end of the show saw legends like Ricky Steamboat, Greg Valentine, Harley Race, and of course the Horsemen (JJ Dillion, Barry Windham, Arn Anderson, and Tully Blanchard) come out and say their goodbyes.  I think it was significant that the Horsemen were there because I believe that was the first time the five of them had been together in nearly 20 years (in public).

Undertaker pays tribute
Stars on the roster like John Cena, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H also came out for the celebration.  When Raw ended, the festivities continued.  Vince McMahon and the Undertaker also did salutes to the Nature Boy.  I'd say it would be hard to find a dry eye in the arena after all of the celebrating.  It was such an emotional evening.

Of course some of that emotion has been tarnished with Flair's decision to return to the ring.  Never in the history of the business has anyone received such a lavish sendoff.  I don't think it will ever happen again either.  But I still feel fortunate enough to have been a part of that night.  Woooo!

Honorable Mention:
Raw Episode 1
Photo courtesy: WWE
Honorable mention:  How can I list my favorite Raw memories, without mentioning the first ever episode.  It was something new in terms of what we were used to seeing in the world of professional wrestling.  Primetime Wrestling, Superstars, and Tuesday Night Titans were all taped shows with the hosts sitting inside a studio and talking about the matches.  With Raw, it had a pay per view feel in terms of the "live" element.  I know those early shows were recorded, but if you didn't know it was hard to tell.

Vince McMahon, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and radio host/actor Rob Bartlett made up the announce team.  It was an interesting dynamic to say the least.  Bobby Heenan trying to get into the show was also a very entertaining aspect of things.

Damien Demento vs. the Undertaker
From WWE
Originally Raw was only an hour long.  I don't think it was until the Monday Night Wars picked up that Raw added that second hour.  Raw also started off with a lot of top talent versus enhancement guys.  I mean, the main event of that first show was the Undertaker vs. Damien Demento.  Shawn Michaels also beat Max Moon that night, and the Steiners Brothers were in action against tag team jobbers.

Raw has certainly come a long way over the last 999 episodes and nearly 20 years.  I'm already making plans to attend the 2,000th since I can't be in St. Louis tonight.  For those who are there or on the way, enjoy the show.  We'll be watching on USA tonight for My 1-2-3 Cents and From the Rafters Radio signs.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Raw Memories: #2 Y2J Arrives

Raw Memory #2:
Chris Jericho's debut
Photo from WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

In 1999 the world was waiting for the start of the 21st century.  The buzz word Y2K (Year 2000) was thrown around to the point that it was annoying.  Not to be one to miss a step, the WWF did something similar.

A countdown clock popped up on Monday Night Raw.  The thing is the WWF's "Countdown to the Millennium" came to an end on August 9th in Chicago, Illinois.  I was watching from a hotel room in Lafayette, Indiana as I was house hunting for a new job in that area.

Anyway, it was an awesome night as the Rock was in the ring cutting a promo on the Big Show when the clock popped up and started counting down with just 10 seconds left.  The pyro went off and the video started playing.  Rewatching this video, I still got goosebumps when, especially when JERICHO pops up on the screen and the crowd pops like crazy.

Jericho informed the fans and the Rock that he was in the WWF to save the company.  The Rock of course didn't take kindly and fired back with a promo of his own.  This was a great move to hire Jericho in my opinion as he had started floundering WCW and quite frankly was getting lost in the shuffle.  The WWF was a fresh start for him and the company needed a heel who was good on the mic and in the ring.  They got both.

I can't think of a better debut for a wrestler in any company.  The anticipation had been brewing for months.  I think many fans were shocked when he came out, and even the fans who knew or at least suspected that it would be Jericho still popped for his arrival.  I'm not sure we'll ever see anything like that again because there are so many ways to spoil the surprise now with Twitter and Facebook.

Honorable Mention:
Making amends
Photo from WWE
Honorable Mention:  For years, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were bitter rivals.  It was something that went beyond their time against each in the ring and carried over in to real life.  The "Montreal Screw Job" certainly didn't help their already rocky relationship.  In fact, it just made things much worse.

But in January 2010, fans of both these amazing superstars witnessed something many thought would never happen.  Bret and Shawn buried the hatchet officially in front of a live crowd on Raw.  Millions watched at home as the two made amends and embraced in the ring.  It was closure for all of us who followed the rivalry which dated back nearly 20 years.

A few months later Bret would wrestle his return bout in the WWE against Vince McMahon while Shawn would have his last match ever with the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 26.  Congrats to both hall of famers for putting the past behind them.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Raw Memories: #3 RIP Owen Hart

Raw Moment #3
Owen Hart Memorial Show
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

As wrestling fans, most of us tend to get emotionally invested in the men and women involved in the business.  We all have our favorites.  We all have those stars we love to hate.  In May 1999 one of wrestling's greatest tragedies occurred.  Owen Hart fell to his death during a WWF pay per view in Kansas City, Missouri.

The next night Raw was live from St. Louis (my hometown).  I have this show on VHS still, but I've only watched it when it aired live that night.  I have not been able to bring myself to watch it again.  Raw started off with all the superstars (minus the Undertaker) on the ramp and a photo of Owen on the Titan Tron.  There was a 10 bell salute and the tears started flowing from the wrestlers, the fans, and myself.

The night was filled with touching tributes from the men and women who worked with Owen through the years.  Matches were scattered in between the memorials that didn't follow story lines.  The company was simply paying tribute to one of their own and doing so the best way they knew how.

Stone Cold's salute
Toward the end of the show, I remember the King and JR giving a brief memorial to Owen.  Like most of the others it was a heartwarming memory and of course very emotional.  Then Stone Cold Steve Austin came out, held up a beer and toasted the Titan Tron which again featured Owen's picture.  Without saying a word, Austin's actions spoke volumes that night as the show faded to black and fresh tears rolled down my face.  It was a fitting tribute to one of the most respectable men to ever step inside the squared circle.

Honorable mention:
Foley wins the gold
Honorable mention:  Mrs. Foley's baby boy made a giant leap for Mankind in the WWF.  It was January 1999 and Foley was embroiled in a feud with the Rock.  This match is also one that WCW probably wishes they'd never mentioned.

The title bout (and all of Raw for that matter) were pre-recorded.  Internet spoilers were out stating that Foley would win the gold.  But not all fans were online back in 99.  So the geniuses at WCW decided that commentator Tony Schiavone should announce to their viewers that Foley was going to win the title.  He added the snide remark about that "putting butts in seats".  Well it helped viewers make up their mind.  More than 600,000 of them flipped the channel from TNT and Nitro to the USA Network to watch Raw and Foley's epic win.

So there are a couple of reasons this is a memorable moment in the history of the show.  I guess since I didn't get a Friday Fail written yesterday's, Schiavone's bone head move can fill that void too.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Aces & Eights: Does No One in TNA Care?

Aces & Eights attack
Photo from Impact Wrestling
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

During my sabbatical over the last month something odd has happened. WWE has gotten (imo) very stale and repetitive while TNA has gotten focused, entertaining and, dare I say, good. Watching the July 19 episode of Impact, there was reason for all the matches happening and the matches were given time to tell a story. Also, the booking of the outcomes of the matches made sense and made the Bound for Glory series seem like a big deal. I am at a point where I look forward to the following week’s episode of Impact. That is something I don’t think has ever happened during Impact’s 8-year history.

While I’m enjoying the current TNA product, there was one problem I had with the events that transpired on Impact. No, I’m not talking about the AJ Styles/Claire Lynch storyline. I am giving TNA a pass on that for being the one lame story being told. Until it takes up 30 minutes or more of the show, I’m content with pretending it doesn’t exist. The problem I have is the attacks by this new mystery group, Aces and Eights.

Over the past couple weeks, Aces and Eights attacked Sting and Hulk Hogan. They made their one attack and that was it. On the last episode of Impact, A&8s attacked Kurt Angle at the beginning of the show then rushed the ring during the main event to attack both Austin Aries and Bobby Roode. While I appreciate a good gang beat down, my question is where was the rest of the TNA roster to stop the attack?

Bobby Roode isn’t the most popular person in the TNA locker room so it could be stated the rest of the roster couldn’t care less if Bobby got attacked. Austin Aries is the World Champion and the guy who has helped elevate TNA over the last eight months. Doesn’t he have any X-Division buddies who would want to help him out when seven-eight guys are attacking him? Even forgetting the rest of the roster, where was TNA security?

They strike again
Photo from: Impact Wrestling
The attack and non-response scenario has been happening for the past few years in wrestling and is something that has bothered me. Whenever a guy is getting beat up how come no one ever comes out to help? Is no one watching the show on a monitor in the back? If attacks are going to happen, and last for more than 30 seconds, someone should at least attempt to make a save even if they end up getting laid out themselves.

I’ve read some possible theories about how A&8s are able to enter and leave the Impact Zone and who is behind the group. If these rumors pan out, I will be interested to see how the story plays out. Right now I don’t get an nWo vibe from the group so I won’t complain about that. Though I do get a Swarm/Shard/17 vibe from the group and their possible reasoning for attacking. Maybe someone in TNA is an avid Chikara fan.

Whatever happens, I just hope TNA has a long term plan in place and tries to keep the story simple and logical. That’s really all I ask for in my wrestling storylines. They can also end the AJ Styles/Claire Lynch story at any time in the next week. It’s really not that interesting.

Are you watching TNA? Do you think they’ve made strides to improve their shows? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or on Twitter.

Raw Memories: #4 Vince Buys WCW

Raw Moment #4:
The Monday Night Wars End
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

No doubt that March 21, 2001 changed the course of history forever.  It's the night that WCW, a wrestling company rich in history, was bought by its competitor, Vincent Kennedy McMahon.  I had been in Dallas for the week and was away from the computer and had no idea this was going down.  We arrived back home Monday afternoon and I logged in to the usual wrestling sites I frequented.  They were all reporting that Vince had bought WCW.  I couldn't believe it.  I knew the company was likely going to be sold, but the last I'd heard Eric Bischoff and some investors were interested.

I must admit I marked out a bit when Monday Nitro opened and fans were greeted by McMahon who made the announcement that he'd bought the company.  It was one of the most surreal moments in wrestling history.  What would this mean for the future of the business?  Were the WCW guys and gals going to all go to the WWF?  No one knew for sure.

As both shows chugged along and WCW put on matches like Scott Steiner vs. Booker T for the heavyweight title and Ric Flair vs. Sting the anticipation grew.  It all came to ahead when Shane McMahon showed up in Panama City Beach where Nitro was broadcasting from.  He and Vince sparred via satellite and Shane laid it out that WCW had been sold to a McMahon, but Not Vince.  Shane had somehow bought the company out from under Vince's nose.

This immediately took the focus off the pending WCW vs. WWF war in my opinion and became more about the McMahon family feud.  Things escalated when ECW returned only under the ownership of Stephanie McMahon.  So while the initial announcement and Vince appearing on Nitro was an awesome memory, the rest of the booking for the invasion angle feel flat.  It had some moments as you can go back and read in some of the other Raw Memories blogs.

Honorable mention:
The kid is good!
Photo courtesy: WWE
Honorable Mention:  I'm not sure how I let this one slip under my radar, but I did.  I had forgotten about the Lightning Kid's match on Raw that made him a house hold name until Chad brought it up on a recent From the Rafters Radio show.  Lightning Kid (aka Sean Waltman) had been a star in Global Wrestling Federation and was now wrestling in the WWF.  Kid looked just like a kid.  He was about 21 years old at the time and looked like he weighed about 160 pounds soaking wet.  To say he was not the a typical WWF meat head wrestler would be the understatement of the year.

But out of no where the Kid pinned a cocky and confident Razor Ramon.  It was a huge upset; one that earned the Kid a new moniker.  He became the 1-2-3 Kid and soon gained confidence and started climbing the ranks of the WWF.  Of course he would eventually become Syxx in WCW and X-Pac when he returned to the WWF and joined Degeneration X.  Had it not been for that initial match back in 1993 in the early days of Raw, who knows what would have become of the Lightning Kid...

Jeff Hardy Speaks Out

Jeff Hardy
Photo courtesy: TNA
My friend and colleague with All American Pro Wrestling and From the Rafters Radio, Adam Testa writes for the Baltimore Sun Ring Posts Blog.  He recently had the opportunity to interview Jeff Hardy.  Click here to find out who Hardy would like to wrestle.  You can click this link ti read Hardy's candid thoughts on the "second chance" he's received from TNA and the fans.

Here is just part of what Jeff had to say when he spoke of his return to TNA after taking time off to battle personal demons.

By Adam Testa
Baltimore Sun Ring Posts Blog

"When I did return, wow, talk about being nervous," Hardy said. "I pretty much admitted I hit rock bottom, and I said that in front of the world. I think that was good for me. After that was over, I said to myself, OK, now I can start; I have my second chance, and I can roll with this.'"

Now, Hardy's a part of the Bound for Glory Series, a competition featuring 12 of TNA's top performers vying for the opportunity to headline the company's biggest annual pay-per-view and wrestle for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in October.
"I just want to go out there and have the best matches I possibly can," Hardy said. "Twelve is my favorite number, and 2012 has been a good year, so far, so I hope to continue the roll and go out with a bang."
This is just a small sample of what Hardy had to say.  You can read more about this road to recovery and who inspired him to get help.  Click here for the full article.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Raw Memories: #5 May God Have Mercy on Our WWF Souls!

Raw Memory #5:
Shane & Stephanie take over
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I know it's easy to criticize the way Vince McMahon and company booked the WCW and ECW "invasion" angles.  I've talked about it before.  But one of the most memorable nights during that time period came in July 2001.

Shane McMahon was the "owner" of WCW at the time.  During the course of the show, Kane and Chris Jericho were in a match against Lance Storm and Mike Awesome when the WWF stars were attacked by ECW notables Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer.  WWF guys like Taz, the Dudleys, and Raven came down to make the save, but it was a set up. Paul Heyman left the commentary desk to announce that ECW was back and several former members of the roster hit the ring.

Now through the night, fans were lead to believe that ECW was there to fight both WCW and WWF.  Even though the WWF guys didn't get along with WCW stars, the two teams attempted to put their differences aside and unit.  It worked briefly.  But eventually things came to a head again and when Shane explained to Vince that ECW had a new owner, Vince nearly lost it.  You see, more of his flesh and blood was out to get him.  Stephanie McMahon sauntered past daddy and joined the WCW and ECW guys and gals in the ring forming the Alliance.

Jim Ross was solo on commentary for the match and most of the night.  His colleague, Heyman, was busy with the storyline in the ring.  This was the time when Jerry Lawler was away from the WWE.  So the emotion that JR puts into the announcing comes through and helps illustrate the dire straights that the WWF was facing.  The show ends with him uttering the famous phrase "May God have mercy on our WWF souls!"  I don't know why but that quote has stuck with me and really punctuated the helplessness JR and the other WWF stars were feeling at the time.  For a period of time it felt like WCW and ECW might actually get one up on Vince and company.  Unfortunately that quote and JR's telling of the story is one of the few highlights of the whole "invasion" angle in my view.

Honorable Mention:
Edge says goodbye
Honorable Mention: The end to one of the greatest careers in the history of the WWE came on April 11, 2011 when the Rated R Superstar said goodbye to wrestling.  Edge's retirement wasn't a total surprise to me, as I figured he'd start winding down his career.  I think what shocked me was how quickly it was over.  Literally, eight days prior he was defending the world heavyweight title (successfully too) against Alberto Del Rio.  As far as I can remember I think Edge is the first reigning World heavyweight champion to retire.

Edge gave an emotional and honest account of why he was hanging up the boots.  It's something that I respect.  I enjoyed the Edge character, especially when he was a heel and teaming with Christian.  But he was one of those guys who fans really got to see grow and evolve into one of the company's all time greats.

It was bitter sweet seeing him go.  He's a great performer on one hand, but on the other Edge's retirement opened the door for others waiting for a chance in the spotlight.  I think it's fair to say that in 2011 CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Mark Henry climbed up the food chain in the WWE hierarchy.  Plus Christian finally got (a brief) run as the world champion.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Raw Memories: #6 Nexus Forms

Raw Memory #6:
The Nexus Forms
Photo from WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

The summer of 2010 saw the formation of one of the best angles in recent years in the WWE.  The rookies from the newly created NXT show rallied together to take on the entire locker room.  The main event of Raw was coming to the closing minutes (it was CM Punk vs. John Cena) when the rookies hit the ring.

Not only did they hit the ring, they hit everyone in it too.  Luke Gallows, who was in Punk's corner got assaulted as did Punk.  The group of eight then focused their efforts on Cena.  Not one to fall victim, Cena struck first, but was quickly overpowered and beaten.  Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler did a great job selling the assault.  In fact, members of the super group headed outside the ring and beat down the King as Cole scurried away.  That move lead some to believe Cole was the brains behind the group, but thankfully that never turned out to be the case.

Justin Roberts gets choked up.
Ringside officials were also attacked.  Ring announcer Justin Roberts was choked with his own tie by Daniel Bryan.  It's a move that allegedly lead to Bryan's brief termination from the company.  The members of Nexus tore about the ring, the barricades around the ring, and the announce tables.  It was probably the most destructive and damaging attack in the history of the WWE.  I thought that night couldn't have been done any better.

Of course in the weeks and months that followed, I think the WWE creative team dropped the ball.  That's a topic for another time, but I wanted to focus on the moment this group formed and how well their destructive behavior came across that night.

Honorable Mention:
Ho, ho, oh no!
Foley takes on Santa
Honorable Mention:  'Twas days before Christmas... and Mick Foley was booked in a match with Santa Claus.  But this was no ordinary match.  Stephanie McMahon and Triple H were running the show.  They booked Foley (or Mankind) into a boiler room brawl with the Jolly Old elf.  Before the match even started, the Mean Street Posse beat Foley and tossed him in the room.  That lead to the famous phrase "Did I just get my ass kicked by the Mean Street Posse?  That's embarrassing."

Foley asked Santa to just walk out of the room and win the match.  As he turned his back to let Nick when, he was jumped by several other Santas.  Foley fought them off, but eventually was confronted by more men in red and white.  Billy Gunn and the Road Dogg were among them.  Just when it looked like things were going Foley's way when he got nailed by one last Santa.  This time it was Triple H who whacked Mankind with a bag full of something.  Trips then walked out of the boiler room and was declared the winner by referee Teddy Long.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Raw Memories: #7 Vince Goes Boom!

Raw Moment #7:
Boom goes the boss
Photo from WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

Wrestling is a soap opera for me.  How many times have you heard that expression?  It really is true though.  In addition to the struggles between wrestlers, there are love angles and sometimes a character on screen says goodbye forever.  That was the case (or so we thought) for Mr. McMahon back in June 2007.

I was on vacation in Mexico the night the angle originally aired.  I watched from my laptop the next day as broadcast the highlights.  The night was set to be "Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night", but no one expressed any love for the CEO.  In fact, stars put the boss down, which lead to Vince cracking under the stress of the job and the lack of appreciation from his employees.

In a stoic moment, he walked through the back locker room, focused on getting out of the building.  Superstars watched in awe (and Paul London laughing) as the chairman left.  He made it outside, reached for the handle of his white limo and stepped inside.  Moments later, BBBOOOOMMMMM, the limo lit up the night sky as it exploded right there.  Raw went off the air with the world assuming the boss was dead.

Me & the limo at Wrestlemania Axxess
Photo from: My 1-2-3 Cents library
It did lead to a lot of speculation as to what happened to McMahon.  The main stream media picked up on it.  But the events that happened a few weeks later put an end to the storyline.  In real life, Chris Benoit murdered his wife Nancy and their son Daniel and then took his own life.  The next night, Raw opened on Vince in the middle of the ring in an empty arena and broke the news.  The show turned into a tribute to Benoit and his family as no one knew at that time that the three died at the hands of Chris himself.  That night was supposed to be the memorial service for Vince.

Eventually the storyline got reworked and it was made that Vince had faked his own death.  This lead us to the "Vince, you are Hornswoggle's father (just kidding)" angle too.  A few years ago at Wrestlemania Axxess I got to pose for a pic near the charred remains of the limo.  It was pretty cool to see it up close.

Honorable mention:
Got milk?
Photo from
Honorable Mention:  Yesterday my favorite memory was the beer bath by Stone Cold.  Today's honorable mention is the milk truck incident with Kurt Angle.  It's similar to Austin's soaking of the Corporation in 1999.  Angle, fed up with the Alliance and Steve Austin decided to interrupt Stone Cold Appreciation Night with milk truck.

The ECW and WCW wrestlers (including Stephanie McMahon) cheered on Austin as he ran down Angle and then started ripping into Taz for not wearing a Stone Cold tshirt.  Angle's music hit and the fans popped like crazy.  He parks the truck outside the ring and flings milk cartons at the Alliance.  Then he sprays the ring with the hose, sending everyone scrambling and falling down.  I love JR's quote on Steph.  "The Billion Dollar Princess has become the Dairy Queen."  (Man, I miss JR)

It all ends with Angle slamming a couple of milks just like Austin does with his "Steveweisers"  I'm typically not a fan of recreating or trying to do the same angle twice, but I really felt like everyone involved did a great job with this and created a great Raw memory.  Kudos to JR for putting his heart and soul into telling that story too.  You'll hear another memory where JR really paints the picture in the coming days.

Gone, But Not Forgotten: Bruiser Brody

Rest in Peace Frank Goodish
aka Bruiser Brody
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

July 17, 1988 one of wrestling's greatest stars was taken away from us.  Bruiser Brody was one of the best big men in the sport, hands down.  He stood 6'8" and tipped the scales at more than 300 pounds.  He seemed invincible with his giant frame, long, black hair, furry boots, and that unmistakable "husk" chant.  But we learned that wasn't true after he was stabbed in the stomach in a locker room in Puerto Rico and died the next day.

I had only been a wrestling fan a few years at the time of Brody's murder.  I had the honor of seeing him once in person as he took on Ric Flair for the NWA world heavyweight title in St. Louis.  The year was 1985, and Flair intentionally got himself disqualified.  Even though Brody never won the world title, he was well respected by the fans, writers, and wrestlers around this country.  The magazine Wrestling Superstars named him the best in the world one year (I think it was 1986), where he just edged out Flair for the top spot.

He wrestled all over the world, spending a lot of time in Japan and Puerto Rico.  I first took notice of him in World Class Championship Wrestling and Wrestling at the Chase.  He played a face in both companies, but when he showed up in the AWA he was a brutal villain.  Brody waged war with the Gagnes, probably doing more than he should have to help Greg look like a credible threat.

He teamed with the Von Erichs, and feuded with the likes of the One Man Gang, Kamala, and Abdullah the Butcher.  In fact, Abby was his last opponent when they wrestled in a tag team match.  Danny Spivey and the Butcher defeated Brody and Carlos Colon.

Brody in action
Brody was in his early 40's at the time of his death.  There didn't seem to be any signs of him slowing down, so I can only imagine what might have happened with his career.  He never wrestled for the WWF, I often wonder what Vince McMahon might have done with him.  I imagine he'd have a different character and would have likely been fed to Hulk Hogan.  Some dream matches I would have loved to see with Brody include him taking on Andre the Giant (in a WWF ring), Cactus Jack, and the Undertaker.

Hopefully one day this legend will take his place in the WWE Hall of Fame.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Raw Memories: #8: Beer Bath

Raw Moment #8:
Beer bath!
Photo from WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

 The year was 1999 and attitude was oozing from the WWF.  The Rock was the new "corporate" champion after defeating Mankind (again) and Vince and Shane McMahon were singing the praises of the Great One.  This was also about the same time that "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was preparing for a Wrestlemania showdown with the Rock.  In fact, this happened six days before Wrestlemania XV.

Austin and McMahon were at the height of their own feud as well, with Austin recently defeating the chairman in a cage match at St. Valentine's Day Massacre.  I'm not sure of the order of events, but it seemed like it was becoming a habit for Austin to destroy one of Vince's cars or do something big with a vehicle of some kind.

On a fateful night in March, Austin raised the bar like never before.  The former champ drove a Coors truck into the arena from the backstage area.  He nearly took out the TitanTron as he made his way to the ringside area.  Of course, once he arrived he soaked the boss, his son, and the champ with an ice cold beer bath.  Before the spraying started though, Austin spouted off a great promo that got right under the skin of the heels in the ring.

Austin would go on to defeat the Rock at Wrestlemania that year.  This incident with the beer truck definitely put the exclamation point on one of the hottest rivalries in the history of the WWF (and in all of wrestling)

Honorable mention:
The Hart Foundation reborn
Photo from WWE
Honorable Mention:   1997 was a pivotal year for the WWF.  The world title had changed hands several times in the early months that year.  There was no conclusive winner to the Royal Rumble and fans were quickly growing tired of Bret Hart and his squeaky clean image.  Fans wanted more.  They wanted a bad guy to cheer for and they found that anti-hero in "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

Owen Hart and the British Bulldog had been the tag team champions and were on the verge of a meltdown.  They battled it out on an episode of Raw shortly after Wrestlemania.  The two were going toe to toe beating each other up, when Bret showed up and break the two apart.  He then delivered a speech that lead to the reformation of the Hart Foundation.  Only this time, it was a bigger, stronger, better unit.  

Hart reconciled with his former Hart Foundation partner turned enemy Jim "the Anvil" Neidhart.  Owen and Davey came back into the loop, and Brian Pillman helped to round out the unit.  Collectively they were the best thing going in the WWF at the time.  It was that speech during the Owen-Bulldog match that brought them all together.

Sadly though it would not last.  Pillman would die later that year.  Then Bret fell victim of the "Montreal Screw Job" and Bulldog and Anvil would leave the WWF shortly after that.  But for the summer of 97, the Harts dominated the WWF and picked up key wins, including that big Canadian Stampede victory over Austin, the Road Warriors, Ken Shamrock, and Goldust.