Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hatton's Golden Opportunity

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Ric Flair. Dusty Rhodes. Harley Race. They're some of the greatest NWA world's heavyweight champions.  I remember watching all three of these men defend and lose the gold on more than one occasion.  The legacy of the title in the history of wrestling goes without saying.  That's why I'm excited that my friend, Heath Hatton has a shot at that 10 pounds of gold in the coming weeks.

Adam Pearce, the current NWA champion is coming to All American Pro Wrestling.  He'll defend his title against Hatton at the Collision taping set for September 22 at the Black Diamond Warehouse in Marion, Illinois.  This will mark the first time any NWA champion has defended his title at an AAPW show.  It's history in the making.

Not only is this a golden opportunity for Hatton, who continues to climb the ranks in the world of independent wrestling, but it's also a great chance to shine the spotlight on AAPW.  The company has grown and developed so much over the last year and a half.  It's the hard work of a lot of people behind the scenes and inside the ring that's making all of this success possible.  I think the fact that the NWA world's heavyweight champion is coming to our turf speaks volumes about what kind of company AAPW is.

Heath Hatton vs. Ax Allwardt
AAPW Summer Chaos
Photo by Jason Wilkey Photography
I'm looking forward to calling this match.  I enjoy my job as play-by-play announcer for AAPW.  Every match is a treat, but as a kid I always dreamed of being a part of the NWA or the WWF.  Now, I have an opportunity to be a part of the broadcast.  It's so exciting.

I know how much this means to Hatton as well.  He's been in the gym working out and training even harder than he has.  And I mentioned the metamorphosis AAPW has undergone, Heath has been through a similar transition.  He has developed very quickly over a short period of time.  This is an opportunity he will not squander.

If you're in the southern Illinois, western Kentucky, or southeast Missouri area or even within a few hours drive, I highly encourage you to attend this show on September 22.  Belltime is 7 p.m.  Tickets are just 10 bucks for adults and 8 for kids.  Bring a non-perishable food item and save some dough.  Veterans by the way always get in free.

Check out AAPW on YouTube as well.  And don't forget about us at My 1-2-3 Cents.  Thanks for reading, watching, and subscribing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

No Gold, But They Deserved It

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Now a days it seems like many of the WWE Superstars have held gold at least once during their time with the company.  Rarely seen Michael McGillicutty is a former tag team champion, as is jobber to the legends Heath Slater.  In a previous life, Tensai held the WWE Intercontinental title.

Things are much different now than they were 25 years ago.  Hulk Hogan ruled the WWF World title scene, holding the belt for more than four years.  Honky Tonk Man and Randy Savage both had lengthy runs as IC champ.  Demolition, the Hart Foundation, and the British Bulldogs were at the top of the tag team scene.  There was no U.S. title or a second world heavyweight title.  I think had some of the men I'm about to list were around in today's WWE, they would have all won some title along the way.  But these are five guys who never held any sort of gold in their tenure with the WWF.

Paul Orndorff vs. Hulk Hogan
"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff certainly had the look of a champion.  I find it very surprising he didn't at least get a run with the IC title.  His feud with Hogan in 1986 and early 87 was legendary in my opinion.  There were actually a couple of different times I thought Orndorff was going to walk off with the title.  I marked out like crazy when he climbed over the top of the cage at Saturday Night's Main Event and he touched the arena floor.  However, the Hulkster was doing the same thing on the other side of the ring.  The match restarted and of course Hogan won.  That's probably the closet Orndorff ever came to winning the gold in the WWF.  I thought he'd be a shoe in for IC champion at some point.  I remember thinking as a kid that he should have beat Tito Santana for the title and not Greg Valentine.  Prior to and after his run in the WWF Orndorff faired much better, holding singles and tag team gold in Georgia, the NWA, and WCW.

Superfly Snuka
Courtesy: WWE
When "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka climbed to the top of a steel cage in 1982 in his WWF world title match against Bob Backlund, I thought for sure we were about to see a new heavyweight champion.  As he was perched "25 feet" in the air, ready to make his famous Superfly leap the crowd at Madison Square Garden waited with anticipation.  He came crashing down to the mat with a thud as Backlund rolled out of the way and managed to escape the cage and retain the title.  Snuka also had a series of matches against IC Champ "The Magnificent" Muraco.  Some of those matches were also held inside a steel cage, but Snuka never seemed to pick up the title win.  Much like Orndorff, Snuka found championship gold in other other companies, just not in the WWF.

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor
Bam Bam Bigelow burst on the WWF back in 1987 like a ball of fire.  It was all a part of his gimmick, with the flamed tights and the coolest skull tattoo in the history of the world.  Despite his size, agility, and ability in the ring, the Bammer never came up with WWF gold.  I remember watching the Wrestlemania IV world title tournament and I had the Beast from the East picked to win the whole thing.  You can imagine my disappointment when he lost by count out in round one to the One Man Gang.  After that loss I remember actually typing a letter to Hulk Hogan in my high school keyboarding class telling him to team up with Bam Bam and take on Demolition for the tag team titles.  Ugh, did I just admit that...  I also recall Bigelow attempting to dethrone the Honky Tonk Man during his epic IC title reign, but only ever beat HTM by count out and disqualification.  Even with his mid-90's return to the WWF, he certainly could have had a run with gold, but came up short in that era too.  Truly one of the all time greats though, with or without a WWF title run.

Jake the Snake Roberts
Courtesy: WWE
It really blows my mind that Jake "the Snake" Roberts never held any kind of gold during his run in the WWF.  When he arrived on the scene in 1986 as a heel, he was one of the best characters the company had seen.  Jake could work well in the ring and on the mic, two key ingredients to success in the WWF.  I guess the company figured he didn't need a title to get him over with the fans.  His brief heel vs. heel feud with Randy Savage for the IC title was memorable.  Fans were split on who to cheer for, but I think this is what lead to Jake's eventual face turn and feud with Honky Tonk Man.  I thought for a while during HTM's long run with the IC belt that Jake would have won it.  I remember him beating HTM several times via count out, even once in St. Louis with Mr. T as the special guest referee.  He also had a few shots (mostly house shows) against Hogan's world title.
Junkyard Dog
Courtesy: WWE
I had to have Chad help me break the tie for my last spot on this list.  I was debating between Hacksaw Jim Duggan and the Junkyard Dog.  In the end, I pick JYD.  I still maintain him not winning the IC title from Valentine at the first Wrestlemania is the biggest miscarriage of justice from that event.  He won the match by count out, and that was as close as he'd ever get to any kind of title in the WWF.  He teamed briefly with the likes of George Steele and Tito Santana, but I don't recall them ever going for the tag team titles.

There were other choices that I did not go with intentionally for the list, like Harley Race and Dusty Rhodes.  When both men arrived in the WWF, they were nearing the end of their respective careers, and a title run would not have added anything to their legacy.  Although the young mark in me wanted to see a Hulk Hogan-Dusty Rhodes world title match.  I don't know why...

Others I considered for the list included King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd, and Lex Luger.  Who would you have added to the list?  Post here or on Facebook.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

PWI's 500: I Know Some of You

AAPW stars & guests in the PWI Top 500
Photo by Jason Wilkey
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Since 1991, Pro Wrestling Illustrated has featured the top 500 men and women in the world of wrestling.  Each year they've come up with a list that covers the major companies and the independent leagues.  When the issue first started coming out, I had a subscription to the magazine and never missed one.  But with the rise of the Internet, I'll admit I stopped buying PWI, Inside Wrestling, The Wrestler, and WWF (yeah back then the F was still there) magazines.

Who knew 20 years ago when I was reading those rankings that I would one day be able to lay claim to  actually knowing wrestlers on the list?  And I mean legitimately know, not just guys I've interviewed like the Miz, Lex Luger, or Hacksaw Duggan.  Several AAPW wrestlers and guests made an appearance on this year's list.

We'll talk more about the top ranking guys on Thursday's From the Rafters Radio show.  You can click this link to listen live at 7 p.m. CST or search us on iTunes.  It's no surprise to me that CM Punk tops this year's list.  It's a well deserved honor in my view.  I'd like to share with you the folks I have had an opportunity to work with over the last 18 months or so with AAPW.  If you've not heard some of these names, I'm sure you will in the not so distant future.

Matt Cross, El Generico, PAC, and Colt Cabana
AAPW Main Event
Photo by Brian Kelly
Colt Cabana (44), El Generico (82), PAC (88), and Matt Cross (188) all appeared for the first time at AAPW Main Event in January.  It was a pleasure getting a chance to not only see these guys wrestle, but to call their matches too.  PAC and Generico had an amazing match which was probably the most challenging bout I've ever done play-by-play for.  Matt Cross put up a good effort against the undefeated Pokerface. He also returned to AAPW recently for Summer Chaos. Unfortunately I wasn't able to be at the announce table for Colt's match against Eric Wayne as I was preparing for my own match that night.  I'm excited that Colt will be joining us again on October 20 for Zero Hour.  More details to follow on that event.

Ace Hawkins & Brandon Espinosa
AAPW Collision
Photo by Jason Wilkey
Ace Hawkins (295) and Brandon "Espy" Espinosa (311) are great on their own, but they also make an excellent tag team.  They've dropped their "Minor Threat" moniker as they want to prove to the AAPW tag team champs they're serious about winning the gold.  By the way, Ace also appeared on WWE Extreme Rules as "Aaron Relic" alongside AAPW standout Heath "Jay" Hatton in a match against Ryback.  Who can forget that two is greater than one?

Other notables include Adam Pearce (62) who is the current NWA World's Heavyweight Champion. He's bringing that 10 pounds of gold to Marion, Illinois on September 22 and will defend it against Hatton.  I'm looking forward to that match for several reasons and will talk more about it soon.  I can't wait to meet him as well.

Mike Sydal (335) is a rising star, wrestling for AAPW and ROH among other companies.  Mike has had several matches in AAPW and he's got a lot of energy.  He's fun to watch and will continue to climb the ladder of success, much like his older brother Evan Bourne.

Dave Osborne (428) has had a handful of matches with AAPW as well.  He has come a long way and continues to improve as well.

"Golden Boy" Greg Anthony vs. Heath Hatton
AAPW Main Event
Photo by Jason Wilkey
"Golden Boy" Greg Anthony (434) has always noted that he's as good as gold.  I like his style in the ring and miss him at AAPW.  He's got an incredible amount of passion for the business and it shows in his work and his promos.  Golden Boy has offered me advice not only on commentary, but as I geared up for my one and only match back in January.  His advice is always appreciated.

Perhaps one of the biggest miscarriages of justice (thanks Gorilla Monsoon) is the fact that Sara Del Rey is ranked at 430.  She's only the fourth woman to crack PWI's Top 500 in its 22 year history. I've only seen her wrestle live a couple of times for Chikara, and I can tell you she deserves a much better ranking.  Of course, I'm sure the editors at PWI have a very difficult time coming up with this list and I don't envy them at all.  You're never going to please everyone.

What are you thoughts on the list?  Remember, listen to From the Rafters Radio and weigh in on the discussion via Facebook or Twitter (@RaftersRadio, @my123cents)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gone, But Not Forgotten: Adrian Adonis

Two, late great stars
Dick Murdoch & Adrian Adonis
Photo from WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Fans who watched wrestling in the mid to late 80's probably remember Adrian Adonis as the "Adorable One", prancing around the ring in a wig, dress, and make-up that would embarrass Tammy Faye Baker.  But the fact of the matter is, Adonis was an accomplished superstar before the drastic change in gimmick.

My first memories of him were after he signed with the WWF and started teaming with Dick Murdoch. That duo beat the wildly popular Rocky Johnson and Tony Atlas for the tag team titles.  I was stunned when it happened.  Adonis had a tough New Yorker gimmick, which was carried over from his days in the AWA.  He and Jesse Ventura were a successful tag team there.  Even after he and Murdoch last the tag titles and Adonis disappeared for a while, he came back with Bobby Heenan as his manager.  That gimmick didn't last long.  Quite honestly it was a bit boring for the cartoonish, larger than life characters Adonis was competing with back then.

Here's a promo where Adonis "comes out".  I don't think the WWF ever claimed Adonis was gay, but this particular video is filled with enough innuendo to imply it.  As time went on, Adrian become more and more flamboyant.

"Adorable" Adrian
Photo by WWE
I think my favorite memory of Adonis did come with his whole "Adorable" phase though.  It was during his feud with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Adonis' talk show 'The Flower Shop."  I found it entertaining and I was a Piper mark back then and loved the way they did the whole face turn for him.

Through the years Adrian packed on the pounds, but that didn't hide the fact that he was an accomplished wrestler.  Adonis ended up on the losing end to Piper at Wrestlemania III and got his head shaved by Brutus Beefacke, hence the birth of the barber gimmick.  It appeared that the two of them would feud next, but I'm guessing there were contract issues and Adonis ended up leaving the company.  He headed back to the AWA, still holding on to the "Adorable" gimmick, and this time with Paul E. Dangerously as his manager.

It was a short run for Adonis as an injury basically forced him out of action.  On July 4, 1988 he was getting back to wrestling when he was killed in a van accident with a group of other wrestlers in Canada.  Dave McKigney and Pat Kelly also died that day.

The Flower Shop
Even though he's been gone for more than two decades, I think it's important we remember Adrian Adonis.  I really hope at some point the WWE inducts him into the Hall of Fame.  While maybe he's not a first ballot choice, there is a spot for him I believe.

Your thoughts?  Post them here or on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tribute or Ripoff?

Chavo frogsplashes Rey Mysterio
Photo by WWE
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

I’ve been wrestling (no pun intended) with this topic for the past couple of weeks. I still don’t think I have my thoughts in order to make a sensible blog, but since the topic was discussed on the 8/16/12 edition of From the Rafter’s Radio and Rafter’s co-host Adam Testa mentioned I was going to be writing about the topic, I figured I needed to write.

CM Punk honors Macho Man
Photo by WWE
After the sudden death of Randy “Macho Man” Savage in 2011, CM Punk started using the Flying Elbow Drop in his matches as a tribute to Savage. Unlike Savage who used the move to finish off his opponents, Punk uses the move as more of a mid-match transition spot. There’s nothing wrong with Punk adding the move to his arsenal and really it’s just him paying respect to a former superstar that inspired him to become a wrestler.

After Edge’s sudden retirement after Wrestlemania 27, his longtime friend and former tag-team partner, Christian started using the Spear in his matches. Not only was Christian using the spear, he was doing the pre-spear ritual of kneeling in the corner waiting for his opponent to get up and move into spearing position. Unlike CM Punk, Christian wasn’t using the Spear simply as a tribute move while still using his own finishing move in matches. Rather the Spear was quickly becoming his go-to finisher. Christian was starting to straddle the line between paying tribute to or becoming a clone of Edge.

In my opinion the wrestler guiltiest of becoming a mirror of a fallen wrestler instead of simply paying respect is Chavo Guerrero Jr. I don’t know if I should blame Chavo or the wrestling industry/fans for Chavo’s reliance of changing his style. After the death of Eddie Guerrero in the fall of 2005, Chavo started doing the Three Amigos suplexes and the Frog Splash as a way to honor his uncle. Over time Chavo stopped paying tribute and became more of a wannabe Eddie Guerrero. If Chavo were playing in a band, instead of doing originals he would be playing in a cover band.

Does it matter that Chavo relies on Eddie’s moves and mannerisms? Should he not be allowed to pay tribute in a manner of his choosing? When he was in WWE, did WWE ask him to becoming more like Eddie due to Eddie’s Superstar status? Would the fans accept Chavo if he tried to be his own wrestler or does the Guerrero name dictate that he must do the mannerisms fans expect?

Chavo's frogsplash against Kid Kash
Photo by TNA Impact
I don’t know the answers to those questions. I do feel however that Chavo is not going to reach his full potential as long as he continues to be nothing more than a poor man’s Eddie Guerrero. I hate to say that as I think Chavo is a talented wrestler and his work in WCW and WWE was entertaining. I don’t want to see Chavo do or say anything negative to break away from Eddie’s shadow but he should stop using Eddie’s signature moves. We know he’s a Guerrero. We know he’s Eddie’s nephew and former tag-team partner. Most fans respect Eddie’s legacy. Chavo being Chavo Guerrero isn’t going to diminish Eddie’s accomplishments in wrestling. Chavo being Chavo will allow him to shine on his own stage and the lights are just as bright there.

As I said in the beginning, I don’t know if I could accurately express my feelings on this subject. I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels this way or not. Now that Chavo is in TNA, I know I want to see Chavo Guerrero Jr and not Eddie Guerrero lite.

What are your thoughts on the topic? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.  

Wrestling with Life

The Warrior Family
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

This post isn't really going to be wrestling related, but the video I've attached is.  It's a tongue and cheek way of looking at a very serious issue.  My friend Jeff Rose is a certified financial planner and a blogging guru.  He is the one who encouraged me to start a wrestling blog nearly two years ago, the rest as they say is history.

Anyway, Jeff's blog Good Financial Cents is very informative.  It's filled with great information and done in a fun way.  He also has a YouTube channel (two actually) and offers tips on blogging, vlogging, and money matters.  Jeff is starting a movement on his blog to get people talking about life insurance.  He's even offering cool prizes in the process.  Since September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, so it only makes sense to get this important message out now.  Like I said, I used wrestling to have some fun getting the message out, but I figured I'd write about the more serious reasons my wife and I have it.

I have had life insurance coverage through my job as a journalist, but honestly it's not a whole lot, probably not even enough to provide for my family for more than a year.  It was something I never really thought much about though.  My wife was running a daycare from our home, so she had no life insurance at all. Again, it never struck me that if something happened to her, I'd be up a creek without a paddle or the money to buy one.  We have three young kids and I work an odd shift, so I would have to have childcare in place for those weird hours and probably pay big bucks for it.

In 2007 my wife and I discussed the possibility of her becoming a surrogate for a couple who wanted to have a child.  Along with all the medical testing that was involved for both of us, we were also required to have a will (something until then we didn't have) and life insurance.  We explored our options and found a plan that really works for us.  If something had happened to my wife during the pregnancy or delivery, it gave her peace of mind knowing we'd all be taken care of.

The Hunspergers
By no means am I putting my life on the line at work, but you ever know when something might happen.  Knowing now that my wife and kids will have more than just the small amount I had with my job, puts my mind at ease.  They will be able to continue living in our home.  The kids will be able to keep doing their extra activities like baseball, golf, dance, scouts, and band.  They will also be able to go to college and not have to struggle, at least not too much.

Since my wife and I both have coverage it also means that if something happens to us at the same time, our kids and their caregivers will be financially stable too.  We both find this rewarding because we know it's not easy raising three additional children, especially in this economy.  Simply put, having life insurance is one less burden to think about in life and we are able to sleep a little better at night.

I've heard some people say they're afraid to even talk about the issue.  Get past those fears and think about the big picture.  Odds are you're going to be around a long time, so enjoy life a bit more without having to worry about leaving your loved ones in a financial lurch.  As I said in the video, you don't have to be the Million Dollar Man to afford it.

It's Good, It's All Good!

Mr. Touchdown & Kevin
April 2012
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I'm a couple of days late, but I wanted to congratulate Mr. Touchdown on his Young Lions Cup victory in Chikara over the weekend.  I got a chance to see Mr. Touchdown wrestle live a couple of times with his partner Dasher Hatfield at Chikara shows in Indiana and Illinois.  The Throwbacks were victorious in both outings.

After the show in Chicago Ridge, I had a chance to get a pic with Mr. Touchdown.  I always appreciate it when wrestlers take a moment to give fans a chance like this.  Many of the Chikara guys (and women) are like that though.

It appears Mr. Touchdown is on the fast track to big things in the company.  I'd like to see how things go with Veronica and Archie too.  It's been an engaging storyline.  Good luck to him and I hope to catch more Chikara shows in person next year.  (Come to southern Illinois, we'd love to have you here)

Monday, August 20, 2012

SummerSlam: Live Thoughts

CM Punk vs. Big Show vs. John Cena
SummerSlam 2012
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents (Chad Smart)
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

SummerSlam has been held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the last four years. Even though I’ve lived in LA for the last five years, I had never gone and watched SummerSlam in person. Honestly, none of the last four line ups had been that impressive in my opinion, and had it not been for the fact I had friends coming into town from Australia who wanted to go, I probably would have skipped this year’s show as well.

On paper none of the top three matches interested me. Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio is a match I’d hoped to never see again. CM Punk vs. John Cena vs. Big Show is a mash up of CM Punk’s last two SummerSlams and I don’t care to see John Cena in the title hunt while Big Show keeps claiming to be indestructible while constantly getting beat. Then you had Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H in the battle of the part-timers. Not a fan of either guy so that match held little interest. However, since I’d never been to a SummerSlam, I went in hoping my low expectations would make for an enjoyable show.

Brock stalks Triple H
SummerSlam 2012
Photo by My1-2-3 Cents (Chad Smart)
Since I didn’t expect much from the show, I think the show exceeded my expectations. Maybe it helped that I was busy trying to keep up with live Tweeting, responding to text messages and taking photos. Being preoccupied helped me to not concentrate that deeply on what was actually happening. Outside of the HHH/Lesnar match, there wasn’t any match I was bored watching. Though, when the main event is the worst match on the show, that doesn’t help in sending the crowd home happy.

There really wasn’t a bad match on the show and I think a lot of the younger/newer talent shows potential. What’s holding WWE back right now is the booking of the talent and seemingly refusal to try something new. That and the continual use of putting a non-title match in the main event slot of the show.

Double submission
SummerSlam 2012
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents (Chad Smart)
Coming out of SummerSlam, it looks like we’re going to see a lot of continued storylines. Kane was seeking Daniel Bryan in the backstage area after being defeated so that feud will most likely continue. Alberto Del Rio’s foot was on the rope when he was pinned by Sheamus which means Del Rio has a legitimate reason for demanding a rematch. CM Punk and John Cena both had submission moves locked on Big Show when he tapped, then Cena gave Show the Attitude Adjustment after the match had been restarted. CM Punk tossed Cena out of the ring and stole the pin to retain the WWE title. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Cena will come out on Raw and claim he should be champ and a one on one match will be scheduled for Night of Champions between Punk and Cena. The one saving grace is that since the next PPV features all the championships on the line, there’s a 99% chance either the WWE or World Title match will finally be in the main event on a 2012 Pay Per View.

Triple H had his arm re-injured. This should lead to him taking time off while Brock Lesnar goes back on hiatus. If this is the case, then nothing like having the two guys who were in the main event of your biggest show of the summer being off television for the next few months. That would beg the question why they were in the main event if there isn’t going to be any follow up. Though I may be getting ahead of myself.

Dolph taps...
SummerSlam 2012
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents (Chad Smart)
Dolph Ziggler holds a Money In the Bank briefcase. Instead of building him up as a potential threat to the World Champion, he seems to be on the Daniel Bryan MITB track of losing before cashing in the briefcase. How this is supposed to make him a possible credible title contender, I have no idea.

Will WWE ever realize fans go to the show to see wrestling? Fans don’t want to see a mini-concert. Especially if the artist is someone that isn’t popular the fans aren’t going to be receptive. The Kevin Rudolf performance killed what little energy the fans had generated. Sure it was a simple way to get all the Divas on the show but a Lumberjill match would have accomplished the same and gotten a little bit of a better reaction.

New U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro
SummerSlam 2012
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents (Chad Smart)
Overall, I’m glad I attended SummerSlam even if I didn’t walk out overly optimistic about the future of WWE programming. It also probably says a lot when the personal highlight was seeing David Arquette in the audience.

What did you think of SummerSlam and the possible direction WWE is heading? Share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thank You Jay Spade

Jay Spade vs Joey O'Riley
Jay's last match
Photo by Zania Harris
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Saturday, August 18th marked the end of a era of sorts for All American Pro Wrestling.  After what I considered to be his best match in the company Jay Spade announced that he's stepping away from the ring.  It was a move that surprised and saddened a lot of fans (myself included)

The men and women who wrestle, manage, referee, announce, produce, promote, book, and even own on the indy circuit have day jobs.  In Jay's case it's a night job.  He works overnight on the weekends and is soon having a change in schedule.  Instead of his usual 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. shift on Saturday nights, he'll be working 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.  That of course happens to fall during the AAPW taping schedule, hence making it impossible for him to be a part of the show.  In addition to being a hard worker inside and outside the ring, Jay is also a father.  He's making this move to spend more time with his family, which is something I commend.  I'm sad to see him go, but the reasons behind his "retirement" are commendable.

Jay Spade goes airborne
AAPW Main Event (January 2012)
Photo by Wilkey Photography
I decide to share a few of my favorite Jay Spade moments in this post.  His match on the 18th was the semifinals of the No Limits Tournament.  He took on his tag team partner and best friend Joey O'Riley. The two are a couple of the best high flyers I've had the pleasure of doing play-by-play on.  Their match was action packed, with both great mat wrestling mixed with high risk moves.

This second season we finally got to see Jay wrestle guys more his style.  In season one he was facing bigger, stronger guys like Mike Masters and Bull Bronson.  At Main Event in January he was the odd man out in a five man melee featuring Bull Bronson (345 lbs), Farmer Billy Hills (295 lbs), Playboy Paul Rose (who claims to be a lean, mean 218, but I say 318), and Justice (295 lbs).  Jay again used his aerial assault against the much bigger men during the match, which saw Bronson pin Playboy.

Jay Spade takes flight on Eric Wayne
AAPW Collision
Photo by Adam Testa
Another particularly fond memory I have Jay came at the first Collision taping at the Black Diamond Harley Davidson Warehouse in Marion.  As you can see in the picture, Jay took the match against "3G" Eric Wayne to new heights.  Jay hit Wayne with a beautiful high cross body dive high from the balcony at the arena.  It's a move that has yet to be replicated.  Big props to him for putting his body on the line in such a way for the enjoyment of the fans.

Jay also came to my aid twice during my feud with Mike Masters.  As a play-by-play guy I've never been in the ring other than to announce or referee.  Masters had been bullying me throughout season one, and Jay had finally had enough.  He came out and told Masters to back off and take on a real wrestler.  Masters and I made the deal that if he beat Spade, I'd have to wrestle him at Main Event.  Masters used the ropes to pin my hero, setting up the match.

Jay Spade saves my butt
AAPW Main Event
Photo by Wilkey Photography
But it should come as no surprise that Jay had my back.  He, Edmund "Livewire" McGuire, and Heath Hatton all spent time helping me prepare for my debut.  Jay even took it a step further.  As Masters had beaten me up and was taunting me with a chair, Jay slipped into the ring and nailed Masters right on top of the head with it.  Of course for my convenience, the ref's back was to us.  I quickly covered the unconscious Masters and won my first (and only) match.  I remember celebrating in the ring briefly with Jay and executive producer Chris Hagstrom.  More than six months later, people still asking me about the match and I'm always quick to credit Jay with the assist.

Jay, we'll miss you.  I know the fans will too as I saw tears flowing after the announcement.  We had some good times over the last year or so in AAPW.  I know you'll be back again at some point, but it's not going to be the same without, especially in the new No Limits Division.  Thanks again for all you've done for me and the great fans of AAPW.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

25 Memories of SummerSlam

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Since Sunday marks the 25th SummerSlam, I decide to share with you my top 25 memories from the August tradition.  Keep in mind, these are moments, and not matches.  Admittedly, I have not seen every SummerSlam, so my list may be a bit skewed and I'm sure my old school mostly top 10 will annoy fans of the current product and even the Attitude Era, but hey, it's me.  By the way, photos all come from WWE.

Orton wins the gold
SummerSlam '04

Orton's Golden Moment: This is actually probably my least favorite SummerSlam memory ever, but it was memorable, and I'm not necessarily touching on my favorite things there.  Randy Orton was a young up-and-comer in the group Evolution in 2004.  Chris Benoit was relatively fresh off his world title victory from Wrestlemania XX.  When this contest was announced, I had hoped that it would be a typical defense for the champ and Benoit would continue to hold the gold.  I was wrong.  This was the start of the mega push for Orton.  The reason this was bad to me was not that it was Randy Orton.  They could have put the belt on ANYONE and I would be complaining.  I don't feel like the WWE ever really gave Benoit (or Eddie Guerrero) a chance with their respective title runs.  But let's be honest the fact that it was Orton at the helm does make the outcome sting a little more. Just sayin'...

Piper gets rude with Rick
SummerSlam 89
Great Scots!: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper left the world of wrestling in March 1987, after a victory over Adrian Adonis at Wrestlemania III.  He stayed out of the ring for more than two years, returning at Wrestlemania V for a special Piper's Pit.  Hot Rod disappeared again, but reemerged at SummerSlam 89 to serve as a distraction to "Ravishing" Rick Rude as he dropped the Intercontinental title back to the Ultimate Warrior.  Piper mooned the Ravishing One, allowing the title switch to happen.  Being a mark for Roddy, I was happy to see him back and wrestling full-time again.

Brock dominates the Rock
SummerSlam '02
Here Comes the Pain:  By 2002 the Rock was starting to wind down his wrestling career.  He had been bitten by the Hollywood bug and was on the cusp of crossing over to movies and TV.  So who would he pass the torch to?  The behemoth known as Brock Lesnar.  The rookie beat the Rock at the 2002 installment of the summer tradition.  While I wasn't ready to see the Rock go, I was willing to give Brock a chance.  He was successful for a time, but I think the WWE put too many of their eggs in Lesnar's basket.  If memory serves me correct, that was the Rock's last run with the WWE title.

Austin & Undertaker go head to head
SummerSlam 98

The Highway to Hell: The buildup to the main event at SummerSlam 98 was outstanding in my opinion.  All summer long Stone Cold Steve Austin had been feuding with the Undertaker and Kane.  Mankind was thrown into the mix too and it lead to many memorable Raw moments, including one night when Taker was dressed as Kane and attacked Foley.  Look it up sometime, I personally thought it was done very well.  In the main event of the pay per view, it was Austin coming out on top and setting up for more chaos between himself, Undertaker, Kane and even Vince McMahon.  The Rock lost the IC title that night in a ladder match to Triple H, but soon he'd become the WWF champion.  It was interesting how the seeds were being planted and the plan came to fruition.  

Who's your daddy?
SummerSlam '05
I'm Your Papi:  Great match, excellent feud, silly storyline.  That's how I'd sum up my thoughts on the battles between Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guererro.  The two had an excellent match earlier that year a Wrestlemania XXI.  The feud developed into Eddie laying claim to really being the father of Rey's young son Dominic.  Things came to a head at SummerSlam 05 in a ladder match between the two.  They struggled for a briefcase to make the legal claim of being the boy's papi.  The feud spawned the catch "I'm Your Papi" which of course included an official T-shirt.  Eddie's wife, Vickie (excuse me!) got involved and actually helped Rey win the match and the legal right to be the daddy.  It was another great ladder match presented at SummerSlam.

The Body is back
SummerSlam 99

The Body Returns:  SummerSlam 99 featured the return of WWE legend Jessie "the Body" Ventura.  A year earlier, the former star shocked the world by being elected governor of Minnesota.  Riding the wave of his popularity and its own new found success, WWE tapped the governor to serve as a special guest referee in the main event.  "Stone Cold" Steve Austin defended the WWF title against Triple H and Mick Foley.  In a big surprise, Foley captured the title for a third run as champ.  It didn't last long as he dropped the title the next night on Raw to Triple H.  It was good seeing the Body back in a WWE ring, even if it was just as a referee.  The move worked too, as news outlets everywhere covered the event.  I had just started a new job at a TV station in Indiana and ran the story in my newscast as well.

Which one is real?
SummerSlam 94
Undertaker vs Underfaker: The mid 1990's were a definite low point for the WWF, but it was memorable.  It seemed the company was still struggling to find that post-Hulk Hogan megastar.  The steroid trial and sexual abuse allegations devastated the front office and had an impact on the talent.  So for some reason there was an idea to create a fake Undertaker.  The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase claimed that he had bought the contract of Taker from Paul Bearer, who denied the claims.  Undertaker hadn't been seen in months after a huge loss to the massive Yokozuna at the Royal Rumble.  Underfaker was really Brian Lee who dressed the part and tried hard to pull it off.  It just didn't work, and throwing Leslie Nielsen into the mix just made the angle stink even more in my opinion.  The real deal got his revenge, pinning the phony and burying the storyline forever.

A sobering moment
SummerSlam '09
Hardy Gets Punked: One of the best feuds in the WWE in 2009 was the one between Jeff Hardy and CM Punk.  Punk, the straight edge heel, did battle with the alleged party guy Hardy.  What was even better was this feud was about more than just the difference in lifestyles.  The two were battling for the world heavyweight title too.  The contest at SummerSlam was a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match.  It was something we'd seen Jeff in before with his brother Matt against Edge & Christian and the Dudleys.  Punk though pulled out the victory and won the title, but his celebration was cut short by the returning Undertaker, setting up a new feud with one of the WWE's all time greats.  I'm trying to remember, but I think Hardy left right after this or very soon after as he appeared in TNA about four months later.

No Holds Barred
SummerSlam 89
No Holds Barred: The WWE/F has always been about entertainment.  In 1989, Hulk Hogan released his first film (as the main star).  It was called No Holds Barred, and his nemesis in the movie was a guy who went by Zeus (played by actor Tiny Lister).  The WWF brought Zeus in for "real" feud with Hogan and I think to cover up any shortcomings, threw "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake into the mix.  Their match ended with Hogan and Beefcake victorious, but it set things up for a rematch inside a cage.  It was sold as "No Holds Barred: The Match, the Movie" so fans got to see the cage match and watch the film.  I have no idea how it did, but bringing Zeus in is something I won't soon forget.

HBK returns
SummerSlam '02
He's Back: I'll admit I'm not the biggest fan of Shawn Michaels, but I can not deny he is one heck of an entertainer.  When he left the WWF in 1998 after Wrestlemania XIV, I thought he was done for good.  So when he returned to the WWE in 2002 and wrestled Triple H at SummerSlam, I was more than a little impressed.  Despite all the backstage stuff I've read about, I think Shawn ended up maturing and becoming a better man on his second go around with the company.  He proved to me that he's worthy of the accolades he's received through the years and overcame some huge obstacles along the way.

What a cluster...
SummerSlam '10
Nexus or Against Us: New blood was pumping in the WWE during the summer of 2010.  But it didn't take long for the momentum of the very hot Nexus angle to cool off.  SummerSlam featured a seven on seven elimination match between Team WWE (captained by John Cena) against Team Nexus (captained by Wade Barrett)  WWE overcame and won the match.  I felt like that style of match should have been held at Survivor Series, not at SummerSlam.  I also think they cut the legs out from under the young guys of Nexus too soon.  This story could have percolated much longer.  But I digress.  It was good to see new blood on the roster and main eventing a major pay per view, so I'll give the WWE credit in that department.

Mankind dominates Undertaker
SummerSlam 96
He Urned It...: Undertaker and Paul Bearer had a great wrestler-manager relationship.  The duo had been together  more than five years when they entered SummerSlam 96.  Taker was doing battle with who I believe had been his toughest opponent to date, Mankind.  This was no ordinary match as the two locked horns in the boiler room of the Gund Arena.  It was a hard hitting, brutal match that took both men to the limit.  Things ended in the ring, with Paul Bearer turning his back on his main man and smashing him in the head with Undertaker's urn.  Mankind got the win, the urn, and the services of Paul Bearer.  This too was part of a long-term feud between two great superstars.

SummerSlam 90
Rick's Rude Awakening: One of my favorite heels of all time is "Ravishing" Rick Rude.  He's high on my list of guys who should have won the world title at some point.  And at SummerSlam 90, the Ravishing One had the opportunity.  He wrestled the Ultimate Warrior a steel cage match for the gold.  It was the closet he ever got to the gold.  I remember all the hype prior to the match, including the training videos released on WWF Superstars each week.  This match also marked the fourth time in a year and a half that he and Warrior would have some sort of interaction with each other in the ring.  They had a pose down at Royal Rumble 89, wrestled each other at Wrestlemania V, SummerSlam 89, and again at 90.  Even though Rude came up short in this battle and was soon gone from the WWF, I think it's fair to say he went on to bigger and better things in WCW.

Brother vs. Brother
SummerSlam 94
Brotherly Hate: Bret Hart and his brother Owen never failed to put on a good wrestling match.  Their encounter at Wrestlemania X is one for the ages.  Owen picked up the surprise win that night, and when brother Bret went on to become the WWF champion again, it only made sense that Owen would be the number one contender.  I'll admit, I didn't watch SummerSlam 94 in its regular format.  I had resorted to watching and listening through the wonderful world of scramble vision.  The match between the brothers was inside a steel cage and featured outside help from brothers in law Jim Neidhart and Davey Boy Smith.  Smith sided with Bret, while Bret's former tag team partner Neidhart had Owen's back.  This set up for more feuding between the family members throughout the fall.  

Shawn screws Undertaker
SummerSlam 97
Shawn Helps Bret: In an ironic twist of fate Shawn Michaels actually helped his rival Bret Hart regain the WWF title at SummerSlam 97.  The two had feuded off and on since their days in the tag team ranks.  Shawn was serving as the special guest referee in Hart's match against the Undertaker.  HBK "accidentally" hit Taker in the head with a chair and Bret took the opportunity to win the title back.  This of course set up a nice feud with Shawn and Undertaker, leading to the first ever Hell in a Cell match, the introduction of Kane, and the formation of DX.  Who would have thought one swing of a chair could write so much wrestling history...

Summer of Punk
SummerSlam '11
#10 Two Belts Become One:  The Summer of Punk storyline in 2011 was one of the best ideas WWE had come up with in some time.  CM Punk won the WWE title from John Cena at Money in the Bank and walked out of the company.  Since he took the title with him, COO Triple H held a tournament to crown a new champion.  Rey Mysterio won it, only to drop the title to Cena later on Raw.  Punk came back and the two met in the main event of SummerSlam to unify the gold.  Triple H served as the ref and Punk ended up winning... But then Alberto Del Rio cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and walked out with the title.  Lame ending to what was looking like such a great story.  But it was still a very memorable moment.

Rung by rung
SummerSlam 95
Steppin' Up: SummerSlam has been the sight of several great ladder matches.  In 1995, it was a rematch between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels and was once again for the Intercontinental title. Michaels had recently had a change of heart, and he and Ramon were actually friends going into this match.  It was another hard fought battle, but this time the Heartbreak Kid would end up with the win and was being prepped for a go with the big title just a few months down the road.

Whatcha gonna do, brother?
SummerSlam '05
Oversell, Brother: Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels are without a doubt two of the biggest names in the history of the business.  The match between the two at SummerSlam 05 came several years too late, but none-the-less was still interesting to me.  There are rumors about what was supposed to happen during this feud between the two.  I think if you go back and watch the match, you'll see that Shawn is clearly overselling most of what Hogan does.  It made the match that more entertaining in my view.  I'll admit I was surprised that Hogan ended up winning, as HBK had been one of Vince McMahon's most prized pupils for so many years.  The odds of a rematch at this point seem doubtful, brother.

I do...
SummerSlam 91
Match Made in Heaven: SummerSlam 91 touted the headline "The Match Made in Heaven and the Match Made in Hell"  The hell part was the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan's challenge against Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Mustafa, and Gen. Adnan.  The heaven part came with the marriage of Randy Savage and Elizabeth.  The two were a real life couple for years, but had split up as part of a storyline more than two years earlier.  Savage and Liz reunited at Wrestlemania VII and decided to share their nuptials with the world at SummerSlam.  The wedding went off without a hitch, but the reception was interrupted by Jake "the Snake" Roberts and the Undertaker, setting up a classic feud between the Macho Man and the Snake.  I should also mention Sid Justice's refereeing the Main Event was also a significant memory for me as well.

Warrior rules
SummerSlam 88
The Ultimate Surprise: In 1987 the Honky Tonk Man became the Intercontinental champion.  During his reign he managed to become one of the most hated men on the WWF roster.  I however was a huge fan of his.  While I was surprised by his victory, it was cool seeing someone outside the typical mold holding the belt.  HTM was champ for 64 weeks when he issued an open challenge to anyone in the locker room at Madison Square Garden, the site of SummerSlam 88.  His original opponent Brutus Beefcake had been injured by Ron Bass.  Much to Honky Tonk's and the fans' surprise, the Ultimate Warrior accepted and in 31 seconds became the new champ.  HTM never even got out of his jumpsuit. The victory no doubt was just the tip of the iceberg for the Warrior during his days in WWF.

Family celebration
SummerSlam 92
The Bulldog Has His Day: I think for the first time ever, the Intercontinental title match main evented a WWE pay per view at SummerSlam 92.  Technically you could say the Hogan-Warrior match at Wrestlemania VI was a IC title match too, but the world title was also involved.  Anyway, the WWE did an excellent job hyping this match as Bret Hart was set to battle his brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith.  Up until this match, I think that information was not widely known.  The title defense took place in London (the first time WWE did a PPV from overseas).  Since it was the Bulldog's backyard, I'm guessing that's why it was the main event.  The Warrior-Randy Savage world title match perhaps had bigger star power here in the U.S., but the crowd erupted for their hometown hero.  I was a huge Bulldog fan, so naturally I popped when he won the title.  After reading about his condition though in Bret's book "Hitman" I'm amazed the two were able to pull it off.  That being said, it's still an awesome memory and I wish Bulldog's would have lasted longer too.

Excellence vs. Perfection
SummerSlam 91
Hart of a Champion: In the early days of SummerSlam one of the biggest surprises to me was the Intercontinental title victory Bret Hart picked up in 1991.  Known as one half of the Hart Foundation, I figured Mr. Perfect would turn back the challenge of the "Hitman."  SummerSlam '91 was during my freshman year in college.  My roommate's parents recorded the show and we couldn't wait to get our hands on the VHS copy of it.  I bet him $5 that Hart would lose.  Wow was I not only wrong, but we ended up seeing Bret Hart become one of wrestling's top stars of all time.  Remember too this was in an age when there were no Internet spoilers, which made the victory all the more surprising and hence being so memorable.  Of course it was an awesome match too, and Hennig did it with a jacked up back.  Props to both guys for a helluva show.

Von Erich gets the win
Tornado Gets a Reign: Regular readers of this blog know I'm a total mark for Kerry Von Erich.  So naturally him winning the WWF Intercontential title was a big deal to me.  It was SummerSlam 90 and Von Erich (wrestling as the Texas Tornado) was named the fill in for Brutus Beefcake, who'd been hurt earlier in the summer in a parasailing accident.  Von Erich stepped up to the plate and beat Mr. Perfect in about five minutes to win the gold.  It was a significant moment also for the fact that Von Erich became only the second wrestler (at that time) to hold both the NWA world heavyweight title and the IC title (Ricky Steamboat) was the first.  I recently went back and watched the match again for old times sake.  If you look closely in the prematch interview Kerry is wearing yellow tights, but in the match his tights are white.  Oops.

The night that changed Austin
SummerSlam 97
Austin Gets Stunned: SummerSlam 97 changed "Stone Cold" Steve Austin forever.  That was the night Owen Hart inadvertently dropped Austin on his head.  Owen was attempting to do a reverse pile driver, but didn't have Stone Cold in position.  Clearly the move did a lot of damage to Austin who was barely able to get the pin fall.  Shortly after the match, he had to forfeit the title because of his injury.  Sure he came back and ended up not only reclaiming the IC title, but also holding the world title more than a few times.  Austin was a changed man after that and I believe his in ring career ended a lot sooner as a result.

Liz with the distraction
SummerSlam 88
She's Got Legs: From SummerSlam 88, the first event.  Who could forget the lovely Elizabeth revealing her gams to Andre the Giant, Ted DiBiase, and special guest referee Jesse Ventura in the closing moments of the main event.  She dropped her bright yellow skirt to distract the heels and allow her team of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage pick up the victory.  Back then this was a big deal even though by today's standards Liz wasn't showing off a whole lot.  It was a great moment in history and one I won't forget anytime soon.

So there you have it, my 25 most memorable SummerSlam moments.  What's on your list?  Post here or on Facebook.