Sunday, September 30, 2012

Facing 40: The Warrior Dash

Sigma Nu Warriors
Warrior Dash 2012
Photo by Stephanie
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

Earlier this month I started a new section on the blog called "Facing 40" where I will share experiences and other information as I approach my 40th birthday in March.  I have also publicly vowed to get into better shape and share those successes and failures with you as well.

Over the summer as I was out on a run, I thought I needed something more challenging than a 5K.  I'm not saying 5Ks aren't difficult, but as I get older, I wanted to prove that I could do more than just run something that I've done a handful of times before.  So I started seeking out other races or events that might fill that need I was having.  A couple of fraternity brothers of mine from Sigma Nu told me they were going to be doing the Warrior Dash.  I looked up the race online and was a bit intimidated by what I saw on the official website.  There was fire, mud, and high obstacles to climb during a 5K race.  This was just the something I needed.  It was a challenge I wanted to take.

I kicked up my running routine, hitting more hills and courses off the beaten path.  I also started working out more.  I do 50 pushups first thing in the morning now.  It's all a part of building that upper body strength, which is needed on a couple of the obstacles.

As I packed my bag and headed up to the race (which was about 3 hours away from where I live), I started to feel a bit anxious.  What if I wasn't ready?  What if I fell from one of the obstacles and broke a bone?  After reading the website and the waiver form these were real possibilities.  They also bring up that they're not responsible for anyone who dies during the race.  Dies?  Really?  But I quickly learned that the website's bark was much worse than it's bite.

Good as gold
Photo by Stephanie
I spent the night with a friend I've known my entire life.  My buddy Kevin grew up one street over in my subdivision.  We were in scouts together and eventually ended up at the same university and in the same fraternity.  One point about Kevin is that over the last 10 months, he's lost more than 130 pounds. I was super stoked to hear that he'd be joining the handful of other brothers running the Warrior Dash.  Anyway, on my way to the hotel that Kevin and his wife were staying, I realized I forgot my shoes at home.  I bought a cheap pair at Walmart knowing they'd get destroyed in all the mud and muck we'd be running through.

Saturday morning we met up with our other buddies, Dan, Pete, and Mark.  We discussed the race details, as Dan and Mark had participated before.  We all agreed that no matter how far apart we got during the race, we'd all finish together.  With hundreds of people lined up ready to run in our heat we took off at a relatively slow pace.  We were shoulder to shoulder for probably the first mile of the race.  At one point when in the woods, many runners had to stop and walk up the hill ahead of us because there was no room to move.  Once we reached the top, people started spreading out and the running resumed.  At nearly the mile and a half mark the first major obstacle appeared.  It was a mud pit we had to go through on our hands and knees.  I made it through pretty clean until the end when I got stuck.  The mud was caked on my hands, which was just the beginning of the mess.

Coming out of the mud
Photo by Jason
The course was filled with seven other obstacles.  There were old cars to climb over, net walls to scale across, and barbed wire to crawl under.  Once we climbed over the giant rope wall, all five of us reunited.  We ran to the next obstacle which was another net wall.  After conquering that we jumped the rows of fire ahead of us.  Then the final test, making our way through a massive pit of thick mud.  Oh yeah, and there's barbed wire over portions of the pit that we had to duck.  It was so cold, yet it was so much fun.  As we emerged from the mud it was a race to the finish.  But with all the mud and water it made for a very slick surface.  With just steps to go my feet went out from under me and a went down like a deck of cards.  My ego was the only thing that suffered an injury, although my body was kinda sore after that.

Celebrating a job well done
Photo by Stephanie
The fire department was on hand to hose us off and the five of us enjoyed a beer and the shared stories of the race with one another.  Another one of our brothers, Jason, came along to cheer us on and caught up with us as well.  It was a great way to spend part of the day, knowing that I could do something that I feared for so long.  Not only did I conquer that fear, but I also know we helped out a good cause at the same time (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital) and I got to spend part of the day with friends that I haven't seen in years.  I'm already looking forward to next year's race and hopefully with more members of our posse.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hell Yes to Team Hell No

Team Hell No
Kane & Daniel Bryan
Photo from: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Daniel Bryan and Kane are wrestling's new "big thing."  Monday night the WWE Universe spoke and gave this duo the name of Team Hell No.  It's a wonderful play on words and I must admit I (for the most part) find the whole anger management angle to be entertaining.

I think pairing these two has helped to give a shot in the arm to the tag team division as well.  Slowly it seems the WWE is growing the ranks.  We still have Boom-Truth, the Usos, the Colons, the Prime Time Players, and the new make shift combos of Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara as well as the brand new team of Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow.  That unit is known as Rhodes Scholars, another play on words.

Rhodes Scholars attacks Team Hell No
Photo from: WWE
While I like Hell No, I'm not sure yet how I feel about Rhodes Scholars.  This seems like an odd pairing to me, and quite honestly I think both men would do better in the singles ranks.  I know in this era of wrestling, it'll never be the way it once was with tag teams.  Even in the late 90's when guys like Road Dog and Billy Gunn and Faarooq and Bradshaw were thrown together and enjoyed great success in the tag team ranks.  Can it work for Rhodes Scholars, time will tell.  But in the five years Cody has been with the WWE, he's held the tag team titles with three different partners: Hardcore Holly, Ted DiBiase, and Drew McIntyre.

I think what the tag team division in the WWE needs now is stability and long term players.  Guys like Rhodes and Sandow (and even Kane and Bryan) are great individual wrestlers. I don't think they're in it for a long term team.  They don't need to be in my opinion either.  I still firmly believe that Cody is future WWE champion material.  Sandow has a TON of potential as well.  I think ultimately too many of these make shift teams will hurt the division again in the long run.  It also just seems like an easy way to do something with guys they have no plans or ideas for.

I can see guys like Titus O'Neil, Darren Young, Justin Gabriel, and Tyson Kidd staying in the tag team division and actually excelling and growing as superstars.  Years ago, it was tag team wrestlers coming in as a unit and eventually splitting into singles stars (ala The Rockers, Hart Foundation, and in TNA the Dudleys) Now it seems we're taking established singles guys and turning them in to teams.  Don't get me wrong, I like the love the division is being shown, I'm just not 100% sold on the idea of some of these teams.

As always, we want your thoughts.  Post here or on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Feed Me Champs

Ryback vs. the Miz
Photo from
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I'm not going to lie, I am not a big fan of Ryback.  To be fair, I wasn't a fan of Skip Sheffield (Ryback's previous character) either.  I just haven't been able to buy into this character.  Yeah, there's a lot of comparing to Goldberg, who I wasn't a fan of either.  Maybe that's why I was hoping they'd take Ryback in a different direction when he returned.

For the last several months, Ryback has eaten his competition alive.  Indie talent like "Jay" Heath Hatton and Aaron Relic (aka Ace Hawkins) have been victims of the beast.  WWE ham and eggers like Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, and JTG have also fallen to Ryback.  On Monday, September 24, Ryback finally got his biggest competition since his matches with Jack Swagger.  Not only did he pin Intercontinental champion, the Miz, he annihilated him.  This to me was very disappointing.  I did not expect the Miz to be the one to end the streak, but I didn't think he'd get beaten so soundly and so quickly either.  Luckily for the WWE Universe this was a non-title match.

Ryback vs. the Miz
Photo from
It appears that victory was mere appetizer for the superstar who wants the WWE to feed him more.  As Raw ended and CM Punk attacked Mick Foley, the champ turned around and looked shocked.  Honestly I was expecting either the Rock, the Undertaker, or "Stone Cold" Steve Austin to be standing there.  To me, any one of those guys would have been a major surprise and would elicit the reaction Punk gave.  Instead it was a wheezing and snorting Ryback.  Huh?

I know no one from WWE Creative will read this, but if it does happen to end up in front of someone on the team, please for the love of God, don't do this.  Ryback's assent has been weak in my view.  He needed a better balance of mid to upper talent before sinking his teeth into a couple of champions.  Perhaps though this will be the way the WWE ends the streak.  Punk, in his quest for respect, beats the guy the WWE Universe views as unbeatable.  Now he'll get our respect, right?  Right?

It'll be interesting to see where this angle heads, as Punk seems to be on the Mick Foley's list as well as John Cena's.  What's in store for the champ?  Only time will tell.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Wrestling Buzz

Heath Hatton vs. Adam Pearce
Photo courtesy: Chris Zoeller
Daily Egyptian
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Since getting involved with All American Pro Wrestling about a year and a half ago I have witnessed some really great independent wrestling.  Up until then, I hadn't seen a whole lot of indy stuff, but I want to know more about it not just here locally, but other promotions as well.

At the end of an AAPW show, I always feel good.  I'm tired, but there's always a sense of pride that comes along with this labor of love.  And on occasion I have what I like to call "the wrestling buzz."  It's the high I feel after a particularly good show.  Saturday, September 22 is one of those shows.  Top to bottom there was plenty of great action and everyone who was there gave their all in the ring.  The buzz lasted through the evening Saturday and through Sunday.  It made for a great weekend.

I don't want to sit here and pick favorites because it's not fair to everyone on the roster.  There are clearly those who stand out and I praise them for their hard work and dedication.  But I also think each and everyone person on the show whether they're a wrestler, ring announcer, camera operator, or other volunteer or worker, should be applauded.  Saturday night was simply stellar.

One of my childhood dreams was realized again getting to call the action of an NWA World's Heavyweight title match.  Reigning champion Adam Pearce came to Marion, Illinois to defend the ten pounds of gold and leather against hometown hero Heath Hatton.  These two did not disappoint.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that the majority of the crowd was on its feet the entire match.  Speaking of the crowd, this had to have been the second largest audience since AAPW Collision started in April 2011.

Not only was there excellent wrestling from many of our stars and guests, but getting the opportunity to meet Adam Pearce was another personal highlight.  He is a class act all the way.  I can't tell you how much I enjoyed speaking briefly with him. I am kicking myself today for not taking the opportunity to ask for a photo with the champ.  I'm never quite sure how to handle those situations, I'm trying to be professional, but I'm a fan too.  I just don't want to cross any lines.

One more chance...
The plot is thickening as we head into our 6th anniversary show, which will be taped for DVD.  Zero Hour happens Saturday, October 20 at the Black Diamond Harley Davidson Warehouse in Marion, Illinois.  Colt Cabana makes his AAPW return.  Edmund "Livewire" McGuire gets one last shot at AAPW champ Mike Masters inside a steel cage (a first for AAPW).  Tag team champions Team Overkill (Matt Cage & Christian Rose) will defend their titles against Brandon Espinosa and Ace Hawkins in a ladder match! And for the first time, a No Limits Division champion will be crowned as KC Jackson takes on Joey O'Riley in the tournament finals.  If you're within driving distance, make the trip.  I'll write more about that in the coming weeks, and I have a feeling that the "buzz" will return that night too.

I also want to wish my friend, broadcast colleague, and AAPW executive producer Chris Hagstrom a speedy recovery.  He took a nasty super kick Saturday night and not only suffered a concussion, but also re-aggravated a past orbital bone injury.  Take care buddy!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Throwback Thursday: WWF Trading Cards

Part of my WWF Trading Cards collection
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

For about 30 years now I have watched professional wrestling.  I started at age nine and have been hooked ever since.  Most kids at that age are collecting baseball cards and trading them with one another.  Not me.  I had a few growing up, but sports was never really of any interest to me.

In the mid to late 80's when the WWF introduced their own line of trading cards, I was all in.  I bought as many as I could, looking forward to which superstars I'd be adding to my collection.  Each pack including a handful of cards, a sticker, and that rock hard piece of pink bubble gum.

Some of the sillier cards
I believe the cards debuted around the time of Wrestlemania III, so many of the cards feature shots from that event.  There were cards with superstars posing and their bio on the back, very similar to baseball and football cards.  Some of the cards featured what I thought at the time were funny little captions, but reading them today I didn't really even crack a smile.  For example, on the Jimmy Hart and Honky Tonk Man card Honky is saying "I think the fans are mad at me."  And Hart responds with "I told you, when they boo, they like you."  *Groan*

Looking through my collection brings back a lot of memories.  There's Randy Savage and Elizabeth, Dynamite Kid, and even Koko B. Ware's bird Frankie.  My sticker collection includes Outback Jack, Kamala, and George "the Animal" Steele.

How many of you collected the cards?  I've still got mine, but remember, I'm a pack rat.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Talk is Cheap

Miz TV
Monday Night Raw
Photo by
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

On the September 17th episode of Raw, the WWE introduced us to another "talk show" segment.  This time it's the Miz getting a chance to show off his mic skills.  Miz TV featured SmackDown! general manager Booker T, but of course the show was interrupted by Ryback, who now appears to be in line for an Intercontinental tittle shot against the Miz.

A couple of questions arise.  Is Miz TV going to be a regular feature? Or was this something to introduce Ryback as a challenger to the Miz?  Regardless of the answer, the segment had me thinking back to years ago when I felt this concept was much better served.

Jimmy Snuka in the Pit
I think few people would argue that Piper's Pit is the pinnacle of all wrestling talk shows.  Roddy Piper was without a doubt the best talker in the business at that point and his pit segments account for many of my childhood wrestling memories.  From Jimmy Snuka getting smashed with the coconut to the Haiti Kid getting shaved to the destruction of the Flower Shop, Piper's Pit set a standard that will never be duplicated as far as I'm concerned.

Besides having a great host, a wrestling talk show needs a good set.  Piper's Pit was great.  I liked the set up for shows that followed like the Flower Shop with Adrian Adonis, the Body Shop with Jesse Ventura, and the Funeral Parlor with Paul Bearer.  Now with the Highlight Reel, Miz TV, and The VIP Lounge done in the middle of the ring, it takes something away from the segment.  I guess it's because all (or most) of the wrestling's promos are cut in the middle of the ring.  These shows are then shot in the ring, which to me makes it feel less special.

Back then wrestling had a lot less promos so when there was a segment featuring a couple of guys going at it verbally it meant something.  Or maybe I'm looking at the past through rose colored glasses.

Old School with Gaylor Stephens
Cheap plug alert: I'm glad to see All American Pro Wrestling do the talk show concept too.  Appropriately enough, it's called "Old School" and airs on AAPW All Access.  Host Gaylord Stephens is honestly one of the best guys on the mic.  I find this show more entertaining than past shows the WWE put out like The Barbershop with Brutus Beefcake or The Snake Pit with Jake Roberts.  Check out Old School sometime.  You won't be disappointed.

What are your thoughts on wrestling talk shows?  Have they lost their luster?  Am I being too critical?  Weigh in here or on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Facing 40

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Six months from today I will turn 40.  As I officially begin my descent down the hill I thought I'd start a series of blogs and videos dealing with this new stage in my life.  My goal is to share health, nutrition, and fitness tips, as well as stories from others in my boat.

I once thought 40 was old.  I don't feel that way anymore.  I plan to embrace this milestone birthday and make the most of it.  But to be able to do that, I've got to work at it.  I have never been an athlete.  In my teenage years I ran cross country.  Then for the 20 years that followed, I didn't do a whole lot.  Even during those cross country days, I wouldn't say I put my best foot forward.

About seven years ago I was having a conversation with a coworker who is in pretty good shape.  I told him I felt like I was too old to get into a regular fitness routine, coupled with my weird work schedule and at the time two young children.  He told me that those were just excuses and it's never too late to get into shape.  I joined a gym and made some radical changes to my diet and lost about 20 pounds.

This is how they Disney does candy apples
I was able to keep at it, working out and eating healthy up until 2010.  We went on vacation to Disney World and I used the excuse "I'm on vacation, I'll eat healthy again when we get home."  Well, we were on vacation in October.  Then Halloween happened and all the candy around the house made it too tempting.  Thanksgiving taunted me with a cornucopia of calories and of course Christmas brought many sweet treats along with the beverages associated with New Years.

So I officially fell off the wagon and haven't been able to get back on.  It's been a struggle.  I've gained back some of the weight I had lost.  I stopped going to the gym completely.  Not completely, I could probably count on one hand though how many times I've been in the last year.  I do own a BowFlex and use it from time to time.  Nine months ago I started running, but again, not with any consistency.

I've watched several of my friends commit to getting healthy.  So as I face 40, I've decided to refocus my efforts.  After all, I am a medical reporter and the co chairman of the Southern Illinois Men's Health Conference.  It's time to start leading by example.

My goal is simple, by the time 40 comes in six months I want to look and feel better than I do today.  That doesn't seem too crazy.  I've done the weigh in, I'm officially 181.0 pounds.  I don't necessarily want to loss any weight in this adventure, but rather tone up.  They say we all have abs under the belly fat, now the goal is to find them.

Thanks for reading today, and I hope you come back for more installments of Facing 40.

Night of Champions: Live Blog

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

I tried to do live thoughts for Night of Champions but quickly realized my comments weren’t that witty or entertaining. So instead, this is the standard thought on the show after the fact.

First though, I want to address something that was brought up on the 9/13/12 episode of From the Rafter’s Radio. During the PPV prediction segment, Kevin read my predictions on the air since I couldn’t call into the show. True, my predictions were full of snarky comments. Rafter’s Radio Producer, Chris Hagstram brought up how I was really bitter and wondered why I felt that way. I think the line up and build to Night of Champions illustrates my current frustrations with WWE. Before we get into the show let me use the card to show why I have a hard time being positive when talking about WWE.

-- U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro vs. winner of pre-show battle royal for U.S. Title: Before Antonio won the U.S. Title at SummerSlam, he had not had a real feud or storyline in WWE. Since winning the title, the story has been more about Santino Marella’s cobra being attracted to Antonio’s valet Aksana more than having anything to do with Antonio. Now for Antonio’s first PPV title defense, he’s competing against a random opponent that will be determined on the YouTube preshow. I have no problem with using a battle royale to give someone a title shot. Just think the battle royal could have been done on RAW and then WWE could have spent 6 days building to the match. The big question will be who is involved in the battle royal. Will there be some guys who have a believable shot at upsetting Antonio Cesaro and taking home the U.S. Title or will it be guys like Tyson Kidd, Curt Hawkins and Yoshi Tatsu? Not discounting the talent of those guys, but none of them have done anything in the past year to make me interested in seeing them in a title match. While Santino was U.S. Champion, the title was rarely defended and Santino spent most of the time in a feud with a ring announcer. WWE needs to work on adding prestige back to the U.S. title.

-- IC champion The Miz vs. Sin Cara vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes in a four-way match for the Intercontinental Title: I have no major issues with this match. If I wanted to find something to be nitpicky about it would be the possibility of Sin Cara becoming a champion. I don’t feel he’s really connected to the WWE crowds yet. Given his lack of speaking, I am curious if he can really be placed into a meaningful feud. It is good to see him fighting someone on PPV not named Hunico though.

-- WWE tag champions Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. Daniel Bryan & Kane for the Tag Titles: I get the appeal of Kane and Daniel Bryan being a tag-team. That doesn’t mean I want to see them as wacky tag team champions who don’t get along. The actual tag teams on the WWE roster are teams that can put on good entertaining matches. The Prime Time Players are actually getting over, even without Abraham Washington. Instead of building up the tag division and putting and emphasis behind actual tag teams, WWE is taking the cheap road by putting Kane/Bryan into a title match. Will the tag titles add anything to their teaming? 

-- Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler: As I said on From the Rafter’s Radio, I have never understood the appeal of Orton nor the WWE’s insistence on shoving him down the throats of the fans in order to make him a star. Orton is bland, boring and is lucky to use one of the most popular finishers from the Attitude Era. Given Orton’s behavior behind the scenes and his recent suspension, I don’t understand the continued desire to push him as a top star.

On the flipside, Dolph Ziggler shouldn’t be a future star. He should be a star now. Something in the WWE booking philosophy however dictates that until Dolph can cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase, he must lose the majority of his matches. I understand Daniel Bryan had the same losing streak before becoming champion and once he was champion is when he became popular. Though I tend to believe Bryan’s popularity was more due to the ease of chanting, “YES!” no matter what was happening on the show more than fans clamoring for DB. If WWE has big plans for Dolph and want him to be a successful champion, why not get behind him before he has the title? 

-- Divas champion Layla vs. Kaitlyn for the Divas Title: WWE doesn’t care about women’s matches. Why should I?

-- World Heavyweight champion Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio for the WWE Title: How many times will Sheamus defeat ADR? What has ADR done to make me care about him getting another title shot? Wrestling is a sport where the objective is to beat your opponent. Part of the way that happens is using moves that cause damage to your opponent. What is the logic of banning Sheamus’ Brogue Kick because it can cause damage? 

-- WWE champion C.M. Punk vs. John Cena for the WWE Title: Last year CM Punk defeated John Cena at Money in the Bank and SummerSlam. CM Punk has been WWE Champion for nearly 10 months. In that time he has defeated Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, The Big Show and John Cena on pay per views. Yet for some reason CM Punk can’t be considered a great champion until he defeats John Cena in Cena’s hometown.

I have no doubts the match at Night of Champions will be entertaining. I simply don’t like the way CM Punk has to constantly play second fiddle to John Cena. I don’t have a problem with Cena being the face of WWE. What I do have a problem with is Cena constantly getting the main event slot or having his feuds presented as more important than the WWE Champion.


Scott Stanford opens the pre-show by saying he’s going to update us on the condition of Jerry Lawler. Than says Michael Cole will update us at the start of Night of Champions.

They’re replaying the Sheamus disposition from RAW. As good as the Anger Management segments were, this was just bad. Sheamus is Jewish-Irish? Really.

Booker T. tells Josh Matthews the Brogue Kick is still banned. Will Sheamus use it while the ref is down, or will he get disqualified for using it out of desperation?

Wow! A package to put over Antonio Cessaro is airing. Why not put this on RAW or Smackdown? If it aired on Smackdown, then I take back my complaint.

The battle royale participants are on their way out. We have Brodus Clay (with both Funkettes), Primo and Epico, Justin Gabriel, Tensai, Tyson Kidd, Michael McGillicutty, Zack Ryder, The Prime Time Players, Jinder Mahal, JTG, Drew McIntyre, Ted Dibiase, Heath Slater, and Santino Marella. Look at that list and see if you can pick the top two guys who actually have a shot of winning the battle royale. For the record I’m picking Brodus or Santino.

Everyone eliminates Heath Slater because they hate Gingers. Ted Dibiase has been eliminated. Brodus eliminates Primo, Jinder Mahal and Epico. Tensai sends Gabriel flying to the outside before tossing Tyson Kidd onto the pile of eliminated stars. Tensai and Brodus have a stare down before doing the two big guys beat each other up spot that’s popular in battle royals. Three people eliminate Brodus. Santino eliminates JTG. Zack Ryder eliminates Drew McIntyre and YouTube freezes. Santino tries to pin Tensai and Darren Young. The Prime Time Players eliminate Santino. Okay, I was wrong. Should have gone with my third choice, Zack Ryder. Ryder eliminates Michael Tarver. Tensai tries to eliminate Ryder and Young but Ryder hangs on to the rope. Ryder then eliminates Tensai to win the battle royal and will challenge Antonio Cessaro tonight for the US title.

Opening video puts over past champions while saying CM Punk doesn’t care about the title. Punk just wants respect.


The show opened with the Fatal Four-Way for the IC title. This was a solid if unspectacular opener. I’m a bit disappointed Rey Myseterio and Sin Cara actually faced off at points in the match. If the rumors of them fighting at Wrestlemania are true, I would have teased them fighting only to have Miz or Cody Rhodes attack and stop Rey and Cara from fighting. The Miz picked up the victory after hitting Skull Crushing Finale on Cody. Like I said, decent but nothing to get excited about.

Next up was the Tag Team Title Match. As I predicted (or feared) Daniel Bryan and Kane won the Tag Team Titles. After the match each man was shouting, “I am the Tag Team Champions.” Expect more wacky comedy and burial of real tag teams to get over two guys hugging. Maybe Jeremy Piven can return to promote a Hug It Out match at Hell in a Box. The match itself was solid.

Antonio Cesaro retained the U.S. Title with a pin fall victory over Zack Ryder. It’s amazing how over Zack was a year ago and how nothing really came out of it. He still got several cheers from the crowd but in my opinion, Zack needs to evolve. The character feels dated and because Robbie E. actually gets TV time in TNA, Zack is starting to feel like the rip off. As is the theme of the show, there was nothing terrible with the match but by the time RAW airs on Monday, this match will barely be a memory.

Dolph Ziggler continued his “Looking at the Lights” tour with a loss to Randy Orton. The crowd was really into the match while I was busy playing Song Pop on my phone. I don’t care how many matches Randy Orton wins, I don’t enjoy his matches and when he starts pounding the mat all I hear is Robert Downey Jr. screaming, “Don’t go full retard!” I think I’d rather watch the Submission Squad in a 60 minute Iron Man match then watch a Randy Orton match. If Dolph Ziggler cashes in the MITB briefcase anytime soon, every title match he has will have me thinking he’s a transitional champion.

Jeff Gillooly must have been hanging out backstage as Kaitlyn had her knee attacked while she was warming up. Since Kaitlyn wasn’t able to compete, Booker T. announced Eve would get the Diva’s Title shot. How long until we find out Eve was the one who attacked Kaitlyn? In the surprise of the night, Eve won the Diva’s title. I think the crowd was in a stunned silence throughout most of the match. Either that or they were all out buying their John Cena Rise Above Cancer shirts, as the arena was really quiet.

Sheamus not only defeated Alberto Del Rio for the 20th straight time, he also made Del Rio’s submission hold look like a joke. Del Rio had his arm breaker on Sheamus several times for long periods of time yet Sheamus managed to get out of the hold every time. Before the match Booker T. announced the Brogue Kick was reinstated thus killing any real drama the match could have used. Knowing Sheamus could use the kick meant not having the use of one arm wasn’t going to be that big of a hindrance. Hopefully now Sheamus can move on to a new challenger.

The ending of the John Cena/CM Punk match gives me mixed feelings. On the one hand I don’t want to be THAT guy who complains about a PPV match not having a true finish (even though I am THAT guy who’s doing nothing but being bitter and negative about the show) On the other hand, the ending of the match was very anti-climatic and exposed an issue I have with current wrestling. Before I talk about the finish lets look at the match itself.

As expected the match was very good and both guys had clever reversals for their opponent’s signature moves. I wasn’t crazy about all the “finishing” moves used throughout the matches. I dislike seeing wrestlers kick out of finisher after finisher. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves about Indy wrestling. I am more tolerant of it happening in main event matches than undercard matches, but it should still be something that is used sparingly. I was surprised at the lack of interference by Paul Heyman. Still wondering what his association with Punk is all about.

Now, the finish. John Cena gave CM Punk a German Suplex off the top rope. The referee made the three count and immediately Cena’s music started playing while Justin Roberts announced Cena as the new WWE champion. After Cena grabbed the belt and celebrated for a few minutes, the referee got the belt back from Cena and informed Cena both his and Punk’s shoulders were down for the three count. Justin Roberts then announced the match a draw. Punk hit Cena with the belt laying Cena out in the middle of the ring. Punk and Heyman walked off together as the copyright singled the end of the show.

First, why did the music hit and Justin announce the winner before the referee announced his decision? I get they wanted to get a positive reaction from the crowd. Second, the ending did nothing to advance the story or help CM Punk’s quest for respect. I’m guessing John Cena will come out on RAW and claim Punk didn’t beat him so Punk still isn’t that good. We’ll then get another rematch at Hell in the Cell next month.

Overall, if all you want is three hours of solid wrestling, Night of Champions was a good show. If you wanted results which would signal a change is coming to WWE, Night of Champions wasn’t that show. The WWE creative train keeps chugging along on the same tracks.

I realize this review was very negative. I wish I could look only at the positives and not be so critical. Unfortunately if you only focus on what was good while ignoring the bad it signals you’re willing to accept anything and nothing will change. Not that anyone from WWE is reading this and even if they were I doubt my poor ramblings would cause them to re-evaluate their storytelling.

As long time readers may have noticed (probably haven’t and that’s okay) my output on my123cents has been spotty over the last couple of months. Part of that is due to my work and social schedule keeping me busy. The other part is with WWE not entertaining me, TNA being good but not really having anything I feel like writing about and my Chikara viewing limited to every couple of months, I don’t have a lot to say. I have a few topics I would like to write about but haven’t been able to organize my thoughts. Thankfully Kevin comes up with random topics to write about that don’t focus too heavily on show recaps. He also has some new ideas he’s going to be unveiling in the coming days. Hopefully the output of the blog will still be up to the level you’ve come to expect. Personally, I thank all of you for your continued support.

What did you think of Night of Champions or what do you think about CM Punk’s title reign? Share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Throwback Thursday: Piledriver the Wrestling Album

Piledriver on vinyl and cassette
Photo courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I've been inspired to start a new weekly featured called Throwback Thursday.  And since the WWE is talking about the 25 year anniversary of Piledriver: The Wrestling Album, I thought it only made sense to start the series off with that.

First, I can't believe it's been 25 years already.  I was a freshman in high school when the album was released.  Here's something else that's hard to believe, I still have the LP.  I'm a pack rat though, so people who know me may not be shocked by this.  When I was in college my roommate gave me a cassette version of it too.  I have LP and CD versions of the original Wrestling Album as well.  Man, I'm a dork.

No doubt the success of the Wrestling Album lead to the birth of Piledriver.  Cheesy as it may be, there are a lot of catchy tunes on it.  I think overall my favorite one is "If You Only Knew."  It's a compilation of all the WWF stars throwing a verse or two down.  Granted many (okay most) couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, I still find this song enjoyable.  It's faces and heels in the video in separate studios doing a "We Are the World" type chorus throughout.  I had forgotten the British Bulldogs are a part of this song too.

Vince McMahon makes his singing debut on Piledriver with "Stand Back."  It's another catchy tune that has been used to mock McMahon in recent years in his feud with son-in-law Triple H and his DX sidekick Shawn Michaels.

Jive Soul Bro by Slick
Slick's "Jive Soul Bro", although possibly borderline racist, is a fun song that many of his wrestlers used as theme music back in the day.  I also enjoyed Honky Tonk Man's self-titled hit as well as Jimmy Hart's "Crank it Up."  The interesting note on that song was that it was used by the Young Stallions and not Hart's team of the Hart Foundation.  The storyline was that the Stallions' stole the song and made it their own.  Yes, there was a feud (mini one) over the song.

Koko B. Ware sang the title track on the Piledriver album.  Honestly, that's probably his biggest claim to fame in the WWE.  I'm not knocking his ability in the ring, but Koko never won a title or a big match in my recollection.  The song was pretty good as well, but I thought the video was quite entertaining.  I remember staying up to watch its premiere on an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event.

I definitely wore out the vinyl on that album, playing it constantly and for those too young to remember, back then you had to put a needle on the record and sometimes you'd get some scratching.  But there was plenty of white noise and popping as it played on my record player night after night.  The challenging part was when I would have matches with my LJN figures and try to play theme music for them as they entered the ring.  Kids today have it so easy with their iPods.

Look for more walks down memory lane each Thursday.  Don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, @my123cents.  Here's a throwback memory from the YouTube channel too.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kudos to Michael Cole

Cole keeps his cool
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

It's Tuesday afternoon and I am finally getting a chance to watch the September 10th edition of Monday Night Raw.  The latest update from WWE is that Jerry "the King" Lawler remains in stable condition after suffering a heart attack during the live broadcast.

Michael Cole remained calm, cool, and collected throughout the ordeal.  My hat is off to him for his strength during the situation.  Of course on camera Cole and the King are rivals at the broadcast table and in the ring, but in real life the two are friends.  They're a team and have a partnership that has now endured the unthinkable.

I've been a huge critic of Cole's but the way he conducted himself Monday night should be commended.  He fought back the emotions to help the viewers at home feel more at ease.  No one knew for sure what was happening, as I'm sure Cole was in the same boat, only getting information over his headset.

You never know what's going to happen on live television, especially in the world of wrestling.  Thank you Michael Cole for showing strength and courage.  Thank you to the other WWE superstars, referees, announcers, and other staff for continuing on with the show.  When a friend and colleague goes down in front of your eyes, it's not easy to carry on in front of thousands of fans in attendance and millions more watching at home.  And finally, get well soon King.  We want to see you back on Raw when you're back on your feet again.

Pray for Lawler

Jerry "the King" Lawler
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Because of my work schedule, I go to bed around 8:30 pm CST and missed what happened on Raw Monday night.  Here is the very latest (as of 2:30 am CST) from the Associated Press wire.

MONTREAL (AP) - Professional wrestling commentator Jerry Lawler collapsed during a World Wrestling Entertainment event on Monday night. A statement from the WWE said that Lawler suffered a heart attack at the announcers' table and was taken from the Bell Centre to a hospital.

Broadcast partner Michael Cole addressed the television audience and said that the situation is "serious," but that Lawler was breathing on his own. "Jerry "The King" Lawler suffered a heart attack while commentating during last night's broadcast of Monday Night Raw in Montreal," the WWE said in its statement. "We are hopeful Jerry makes a full recovery and returns to WWE in the near future. Our thoughts are with Jerry and his family."

Though the 62-year-old Lawler occasionally wrestles, he mainly works on WWE broadcasts as a commentator.

Lawler of course wrestled earlier in the night.  We here at My 1-2-3 Cents, From the Rafters Radio, and All American Pro Wrestling pray for a speedy recovery for the King.  He was a guest on our radio show a few weeks ago.  Also, props to Michael Cole for keeping a cool head during all this.  I can't imagine what he had to be going through as well.  Pray for Lawler!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Keep Your Shirt On, Please

Jim Cornette vs. Paul E. Dangerously (Heyman)
Great American Bash 1989
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Since I was unable to watch TNA's "No Surrender" pay per view Sunday night, I really don't have a whole lot that I can say about it.  From what I've heard so far, it was an impressive show.  I'm glad TNA continues to bring it week in and week out on Impact and monthly on pay per views.

So today's blog is inspired by the most recent episode of "Are You Serious" on YouTube.  In it, Josh Matthews and the Road Dogg replay a clip of Jim Cornette and Paul E. Dangerously battling it out in a tuxedo match.  It was from the 1989 Great American Bash.  The funny thing about the clip was the fact that the hosts were bashing it and calling it a bad idea (which I agree with).

The Fink wins!
Monday Night Raw
They then played a clip of the 1995 tuxedo match between Howard Finkel and Harvey Wippleman.  The Fink won that clash by stripping the tux off the back of Harvey.  I can also remember in the early 80's George "The Animal" Steele "wrestling" Mr. Fuji in a series of tuxedo matches too.  And who can forget the evening gown match between Pat Patterson and Gerry Brisco?  Yes, I said evening gown match...

The thing I found funny about this clip besides the doughy, pasty, middle aged guys rolling around in the ring stripping each other was the fact that just a few months ago, the WWE had a tuxedo match between then U.S. champion Santino Marella and ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez.  Someone else pointed it out on the YouTube video that Matthews and Dogg failed to mention it.  So I'm doing it here too.

from YouTube
I love the series "Are You Serious."  It's actually my favorite of the WWE YouTube shows.  But I've noticed that more often than night, they're poking more fun at WCW ideas then their own.  Granted, wrestling is full of crappy ideas, I think the WWE has gone out of its way to avoid some of its own calamities just for the sake of taking another shot at WCW.  Vince, you won the war.  You can stop burying them.

What do you guys think?  Who watches the show?  It's a lot of fun and I think it is one of the few things WWE produces for YouTube that could be a weekly 30 minute program once the WWE Network finally launches.

Post your thoughts here and please, click like on our Facebook page and follow @my123cents on Twitter.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bully Ray Will Stay

Bully Ray has signed a two year deal with TNA
Photo courtesy: TNA
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I recently speculated on the future of Bully Ray and Devon and their futures with TNA Impact Wrestling.  Rumors on the web hinted that both might be leaving the company which of course fueled speculation that they were heading to the WWE.

Thanks to Greg DeMarco from the Bleacher Report for posting earlier today that Bully Ray has resigned with Impact for what appears to be a two year deal.  Devon still claim via social media that he's no longer with TNA, despite being the company's TV champion.

Personally, I think Bully Ray has made the right decision.  I think it's fair to say he's becoming a big fish in a small pond.  Going back to the WWE and pairing with Devon again would be a great boost for the tag team division.  But I think it's a move that would have benefited the WWE more so than Bully Ray himself.  He's clearly in the best shape of his career, I enjoy his character now, and I think he'd lose  a lot of that heading back north.

The Dudleys & Stacy
Courtesy: WWE
Obviously I don't know what motivated the decision to stay, and six months ago I probably wouldn't have said this (as I was very critical of many TNA decisions) but I'm glad he is staying.  I look forward to seeing the development of his character and actually wouldn't mind seeing him win the Bound for Glory series.

As for Devon, I'm not sure what's next for him.  I'm afraid if he heads to the WWE he'll end up lost in the shuffle.  One thing that has been reported is that he and Bully will continue running their wrestling school in Florida.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Raw is Overcooked

AJ confronts CM Punk
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

WWE’s Monday Night Raw has been a three-hour show for almost two months now. I know I’ve said this many times in the past, but I think I’m at a point where I need to stop watching Raw and only watch pay per views. Normally, due to living on the west coast and with my work schedule, I will watch the first hour of Raw, miss most of the second hour while I’m on my way home from work, then watch the third hour when I get home. I’ll read a recap of what I missed and usually don’t feel like I really missed anything.

Last night (9/03/12 for those reading this later) since I had the day off from work, I sat down to watch the entire show. After two and a half hours, I had had enough and turned off the show in favor of going to see a movie. While waiting for the movie to start I checked Twitter to see what happened in the last half hour of the show and found that the last 2 minutes contained really the only moments of the show worth seeing. CM Punk had allegedly aligned himself with Paul Heyman. I am curious to see where this new development goes, but I’m not sure I’m willing to sit through three hours of television every week to find out.

Sheamus waits, as we do...
Part of my problem with the current state of Raw is the fact WWE has been using the same show template for the last 15-years. Start the show off with a long rambling promo that leads to a match later in the show. Throw out some random mid-card matches during the show. Replay events that happened “moments ago” and keep focusing on the General Manager. The show is beyond played out.

One of the reasons Impact has been good lately is 90% of all the matches have a purpose and consequence. Even when matches have a reason for happening on Raw, they don’t seem to have any lasting purpose. For example, the Labor Day episode of Raw included Rey Mysterio/Sin Cara vs. Tensai/Cody Rhodes, Antonio Cessaro vs. Santino, and Ryback vs. Jinder Mahal. The Santino match was a United States title rematch from SummerSlam. Ryback and Jinder had been having interaction for the past few weeks. Cody Rhodes has been mocking Sin Cara who beat Tensai a couple of weeks ago. Even though each match was logically put together, there was no hype for the match before it happened and was quickly forgotten as soon as it was done.

As we’ve mention several times here and on From the Rafter’s Radio, WWE has a poor record in creating new stars. With all the focus being primarily on CM Punk, John Cena, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan and Kane along with part-time wrestlers Brock Lesnar, Triple H and The Rock, very little is being done to cultivate and create the next generation of WWE Superstars. This is part of my boredom with WWE. Of the nine guys I listed, there’s only two that I really like to see wrestle and five that make me turn the channel. I realize that’s my own preference and the average fan doesn’t share my feelings.

Falls count anywhere
I was trying to think of ways RAW could change and become more interesting. The only idea I could come up with is one I don’t think would really work. Instead of being one three-hour show, I was thinking they could essentially do three one-hour shows. Each show would have a different focus. The first hour could be the Intercontinental/United States title shows focusing primarily on the mid-card guys. Give them some promo time and the chance to work matches that go longer than 3 minutes. The second hour would bridge the gap to the third hour and with a mix of tag-teams and upper mid-card guys while promoting the Main Event hour. The third hour would basically be a combination of the first and last half-hour’s of the current RAW. You’d get your long promo from the General Manager and Champions as well as a main event level match.

One other suggestion I’ve had for years is the champion should rarely wrestle on free TV. I’ve often thought that if you want to see the champ wrestle, you should have to pay to see him. Cutting down on the number of weekly matches the champion has would allow for other talent to be given the spotlight. It would also, hopefully allow for a challenger to be built up without constantly being put into matches against the champ.

I don’t see either of these ideas happening but something needs to be done to break up the monotony that is the current Monday Night Raw show. Until then, I think I’ll stick to reading recaps and watching pay per views.

Do you think the formula needs to change? Have any ideas you’d like to implement? Share your thoughts on the my123cents Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Terrible Twos: Our Second Birthday!

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

September 3, 2012 marks the second birthday of this blog.  In some ways it's hard to believe it's only been two years.  Sometimes I feel like I've been doing this blog for much longer.  At press time, we've produced more than 750 blogs.  My co writer Chad has done quite a few.  We've had contributors over the last two years too, which is pretty cool.

I'm excited to do this blog and the YouTube channel, which continues to grow in subscribers too.  Over the next couple of weeks I'll be adding a few new features to the My 1-2-3 Cents family, but the primary focus of this blog and the vlog will continue to be wrestling.

Right now there have been just over 234,000 page views on this blog.  Before the end of the year I'd like to have 250,000.  I have no reason to believe this is not a realistic goal.  Thank you all for reading, subscribing, and sharing this blog (and the YouTube Channel).  You're continued support is what makes all the writing, researching, and editing worth it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

WWE Title By the Numbers

CM Punk retains WWE title
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I'm going to give Lords of Pain the assist on this blog, as they did all the math (something I was never good at anyway).  Basically they broke down all the lengths of title reigns for the WWE champions.  CM Punk is at this point the 12th longest reigning WWE champion.  Assuming Punk makes it to Night of Champions later this month with the title in hand (which there's no reason to think he won't), he'll crack the top ten.  Let's take a look at the numbers...

1.  Bruno Sammartino (2,803 days)
2.  Bob Backlund (2,135 days)
3.  Hulk Hogan (1,474 days)
4.  Bruno Sammartino ( 1,237 days)
5.  Pedro Morales (1,027 days)
6.  John Cena (380 days)
7.  Randy Savage (371 days)
8.  Hulk Hogan (364 days)
9.  Diesel (358 days)
10. Billy Graham (296 days)
11. Ultimate Warrior (293 days)

My friend Adam Testa from the Baltimore Sun's Ring Posts blog did even more math for the equation.  So as mentioned, Punk will break into the top ten at Night of Champions, even if he loses the title.  If he retains, and holds until Survivor Series, he'll be tied for 8th with Hogan.  Assuming he continues on after that and holds until TLC in December, he'll move to 6th place.  But to break into that top 5, Punk will need to retain the title until September 13, 2014.  For Punk to take the top spot on this list, he'll have to hold the title until July 25, 2019.

CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler
2012 Royal Rumble
Photo by: My 1-2-3 Cents
Realistically, I see Punk holding the gold and taking that 6th spot on the list.  Retaining for nearly two more years to crack the top five seems like a stretch in this day and age.  But personally, I'd love to see it happen.  I think in general titles are traded far too often.  This is the first time in a while I've viewed the both the WWE and World Titles as stable.  Sheamus has been the world champ 154 days as of this writing.  As of Monday, September 3, 2012 he'll be the third longest reigning world champion.

Back to Punk and the WWE title.  He's had an interesting series of challengers, including the Big Show, Cena, Daniel Bryan, Kane, the Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler, and Chris Jericho.  That's a who's who of the WWE elite right now, and Punk holds victories over all of them.  But in this day and age of weekly TV and monthly pay per views, will the fans tire of Punk on top?  The WWE and Punk are doing a good job of keeping his character fresh.  I'll be honest, for the first couple of years he was in the WWE, I did not like the CM Punk character.  It was the Straight Edge Society that really got my attention and he has continued to evolve since.

Punk vs. Big Show vs. John Cena
SummerSlam 2012
Photo by: My 1-2-3 Cents
And to be fair to the guys at the top of this list, like Bruno and Hogan; they were defending the titles on the house show circuit.  I don't know if they were defending the title with the frequency that today's champions do, but they were doing it in front of a much smaller audience.  Now days, we all see it when Punk or Cena or Sheamus or Miz defend a title.

I haven't made my official prediction for Night of Champions yet, but I believe that Punk should retain and continue to move forward to the Royal Rumble with the Rock.  A victory over the People's Champion will undoubtedly earn CM Punk a shot at immortality.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Get the Table

The Dudleys
Photo from WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Regular readers know that we don't like to write blogs based on rumors and things unconfirmed on the Internet.  But recently I've seen a lot of talk about Devon and Bully Ray both being near the end of their contracts with Impact Wrestling.  And whenever rumors like that are posted, people jump the gun and make the assumption that they'll head back to the WWE.

So this begs the question, IF the two are finished with TNA, and IF they sign with WWE again, should they reunite as the Dudley Boyz or continue to pursue separate careers as singles stars.

IF (and I'm going to keep emphasizing that) the two are indeed leaving, I think bringing them back in as a tag team would be an ideal situation for the company.  After reading online (again, not necessarily a viable resource) Triple H is interested in revamping the tag team division.  In the last few weeks there have been indicators to support those claims.  Boom Truth (I don't know if that's their official name, but it's what we've dubbed them here at My 1-2-3 Cents), The Usos, The Prime Time Players, and now Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd are back too.

1987 Survivor Series
Tag team mania
Courtesy: WWE
Granted four teams (all mostly newly established) aren't nearly enough to have a solid division, it's a start.  They're getting more screen time, which will hopefully lead to the future development of some long term tag teams.  Remember, I grew up in an era where the first two Survivor Series events featured 5 on 5 tag team elimination matches.  These weren't just fly-by-night teams either, they were all legit tag teams.

Signing Devon and Bubba Ray as the Dudley Boyz again would bring a lot of legitimacy to the division.  Typically I don't to see older guys come back and get pushed to the moon, but I think Bully Ray and Devon are in the best shapes of their career.  TNA was the right decision for them years ago, and now I think the younger teams in WWE could benefit from the rub of working with such a good duo.

Bully Ray vs. Devon
Photo from Impact Wrestling
So IF the rumors are true and IF the Dudley's are looking for something in their future, I would support a reunion.  It could help get the momentum moving for a solid tag team division.  As of this writing on September 1, both Devon and Bully Ray are listed on the Impact Wrestling roster.  Devon in fact is still the company's TV champion.