Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oh Zack, What Happened?

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

The last year or so has been quite  a ride for Zack Ryder.  After creating his own YouTube channel more than a year ago, Ryder became an instant hit with fans online.  I quickly jumped on board the "Z True Long Island Story" and even submitted several videos to be "Broski of the Week."  Eventually, I made that goal, appearing in Episode 22.  Anyway, enough about me.

The whole point, at least I think, was for the YouTube show to help get Zack over with the fans.  Clearly it worked.  It just took some time, but then once he made it on to Raw regularly I feel like the WWE crammed Zack Ryder down our collective throats.  It was too much Ryder.

He beat Dolph Ziggler for the U.S. title, which in my opinion should not have happened.  I was a big supporter of Ryder's, but felt like a title run that quickly into his reintroduction to the fans was destined to fail.  And it did.  He dropped the title pretty quickly to Jack Swagger.  Then Zack was booked in an angle that involved Kane and John Cena, which at the time was the biggest program in the company.  His angle with Eve lead him all the way to Wrestlemania and saw him take the fall for his team, costing Teddy Long his job as SmackDown! general manager.

The downward spiral continued with a failed attempt to capture the WWE tag team titles with Santino Marella.  Now he's rarely on Raw.  And to be honest, I couldn't tell you the last time I watched one of his YouTube videos.

Eve says "so long" (WWE.com)
Did the WWE destroy Zack Ryder?  The dude worked his butt off to get over and when he finally did, it seems like the company did what thebju6y could to pick him apart and sour the fans on him.  Am I blaming the WWE for the destruction of Zack Ryder?  Yeah, I am, at least a little bit.  They should have let things simmer with him and gradually move him up the ladder.  Now he's in no man's land and who knows if the fans will be as eager to seem him back.  It may be time for a repackaging to Ryder.  The guy has talent, but the whole "Jersey Shore" scene is kinda lame at this point.

Don't hate on me for this one.  I'd like to know what you think.  Weigh in here or on Facebook.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Moves Like Swagger

Lots of potential... (from WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

I didn't realize it until today, but I haven't blogged in nearly week. For those of you who read this regularly, I apologize for the lack of content. This has been a busy month as I've kept up more with the YouTube channel and the Video a Day in the Month of May challenge that I put on myself.

Anyway, enough of that, let's talk wrestling. I was really disappointed Sunday night that Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler came up short in their bid for the WWE tag team titles. The lose bothered me for two reasons, as I had them picked in the From the Rafters Radio PPV pick contest. But more importantly I think it's a sign that a talented duo is being misused by the WWE.

Ideally, I'd like to see Dolph and Jack on their own, pursuing singles titles, but let's face it, the title situations are crowded and the tag team division is less than stellar. I think these two former world champions work well together and bring something to the fledgling division. I just can not buy into Kofi Kingston and R-Truth as a tag team, let alone as the tag team champions. This is not a knock against either man, as I enjoy them as singles competitors. Here's to hoping that Epico and Primo get back into contention now that they're a part of AW.

Kofi dominates (WWE)
But back to the subject at hand, I still don't understand why Swagger and Ziggler seem to be enhancement talent these days. Swagger is probably the fastest falling former World champion and Ziggler is that guy who is so good, the company just doesn't seem to know what to do with him. He makes his opponents look good, so maybe that's why he seems to be stuck in this current mode. No matter the reason, here's to hoping the second half of 2012 is better for Ziggler and Swagger whether they continue on as a team or pursue singles careers.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Over the Limit Thoughts

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents

I had the fortune of watching Over the Limit at the I/O West theatre on Hollywood Blvd. This was the first pay per view they screened in the venue and based on the crowd size they announced they would be showing No Way Out next month. In addition, “Kizarny” will be teaching a class on physical improv next month and John Morrison will be appearing at one of the Improv’s shows in June.

Overall, I thought Over the Limit was a very satisfactory show until the main event. The tag team title match was better than I expected. The Diva’s title match was probably one of the best Divas matches in the past year. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan put on an early match of the year candidate. Along with a good Christian vs. Cody Rhodes match, a 4-way title match that had a good ending sequence and an appearance of Ryback, there was a lot to like on the show.

Then there was the main event. Had the Battle of the John’s been anywhere on the show other than the main event the match would have been rather inoffensive. However, as the main event, it was a crowd deflating fifteen minutes. The ending of the match was a foregone conclusion six days ago and as predicted, The Big Show got involved to help Johnny Ace win the match. I’m guessing this will lead to a Cena/Show match at No Way Out.

Even though the show was a solid thumbs up, there were a few questions I would like answered. I think we need a new weekly segment around here called wrestling with logic.

*Kevin and I have already questioned the way Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan, how after losing two consecutive pay per view title matches, simply moved over to the other brand and got inserted into title matches.

*While everyone expected Big Show to get involved in the main event, his involvement was kind of head scratching. Johnny L. went through the crowd and looked to be trying to get out of the arena only to be brought back in by the Big Show. Big Show brought Johnny into the ring, gave him to Cena, then when Cena went for the Attitude Adjustment Big Show punched Cena in the face. My theory is Johnny and Show had the plan in place for Johnny to come get Show. That I get. However, what would have happened if Cena hadn’t toyed with Johnny and pinned him quickly? Since show isn’t a WWE employee why didn’t security stop him from 1)putting his hands on Johnny and 2)getting into the ring?

*The show opening battle royale came down to the final three of David Otunga, The Miz and the returning Christian. Six weeks ago these three Superstars were supposed to be on Team Johnny at Wrestlemania. Drew McIntyre replaced Christian due to a lingering injury. Now, Christian is back and he’s apparently a face. Why? What happened in the last six weeks?

The only real complaint, other than the placement of the Cena match, is Over the Limit had a battle royale, Christian/Cody Rhodes, Brodus Clay/Miz, and Hunico/Ryback matches added either unannounced or announced right before the show. WWE really needs to stop treating pay per views as one or two match shows and start building and promoting full cards before the day of the show.

Do you have any answers to my questions? Are you excited for more People Power? Will Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins trend on Twitter during Raw? Share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Gone, But Not Forgotten: "Macho Man" Randy Savage

By Kevin Hunsperger 
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

 Earlier this week marked the 10 year anniversary of the death of British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith. It's hard to believe so much time has passed. Today (May 20th) we mark the one year anniversary of "Macho Man" Randy Savage's passing. Both men were two of my favorites growing up, and I'm sad that they're not here anymore.

 I was in high school when Savage won the WWF title the first time around. Even though I was a fan of his, I was pulling for Bam Bam Bigelow (RIP) to win the Wrestlemania IV title tournament. But in the end, it made sense to go with Macho Man as he carried the torch and lead the company in Hulk Hogan's brief absence.

 I always enjoyed Savage's unique voice, as I will still break into a "dig it!" or "Ooooh yeah!" every now and then. I also like his colorful ring attire, music, and overall attitude in and out of the ring.  Heel Macho Man was always more enjoyable for me, as I thought the face Savage was a bit out of character for him.

In the year since his death, I've gained a new appreciation for Randy Savage. I was disappointed, but not surprised that the WWE didn't induct him into the Hall of Fame this year. I do hope his time comes soon, as he truly deserves. Take a moment today to remember the Macho Man and his family. May he continue to rest in peace.




Friday, May 18, 2012

Hogan Knows Best?

Hulk & Brooke
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

It's been announced that Brooke Hogan is the latest hire by Impact Wrestling.  She'll be the Executive in Charge of the Knockouts.  I don't want to be too critical, because I know this is all a part of the storytelling process, but first of all, what does that mean?  Is Hulk Hogan's oldest child going to be the "GM" of women's wrestling in TNA?  I don't get the title.

Secondly, I don't get the reasoning for putting her in this position. I don't think an "executive" should be someone who has NO EXPERIENCE in the field that they are overseeing.  Yes, being the child of a wrestler makes you closer to the business, but does it make you an authority?  Has Brooke ever taken a bump?

I realize I may be offering too much criticism here because this angle involves the Hogan family.  Some have argued that Vince McMahon, Dusty Rhodes, Verne Gagne, and Fritz Von Erich all hired their kids, so why not Hulk?  I guess I can't argue that point too much, as I don't remember the skill level that the second and third generation stars had at the time of their hires.  But I do know that

Vince for example had Shane and Stephanie doing grunt work before they landed TV roles and executive jobs.  Vince himself toiled for his father before he was an commentator and eventual owner of the WWF/WWE.  The Von Erich boys were natural high school and college athletes, it made sense that they'd transition into wrestling.  And before the gender bias is thrown out there, I'd be critical of this decision if it were Nick Hogan hired to the position.

The McMahon Family
I have no problem with Brooke getting a break and starting in the business.  But why not start off at a lower rung on the ladder.  Make her a backstage interviewer or I'd even be more accepting of a role as a valet.  I don't get the whole "executive" thing.  Part of the problem admittedly may be that I don't keep up with Impact like I should.  This could be just some goofy storyline that will come to pass.  Since I'm on a rant though, it kind of reminds me of the Garrett Bischoff situation.

I know nepotism exists in wrestling and all walks of life.  In some cases it's worked out really well.  But many times it ends up with an unqualified or less talented performer taking a spot from someone who truly deserves to be there.

On a positive TNA note though, I do applaud their decision to test the market for a live show.  This COULD be a first step in helping bolster sagging ratings.  The company has been around for a decade now, it's time to show some growth.  While I won't be watching the show (it's on opposite our radio show From the Rafters Radio), I do hope that it is a success.  The WWE seriously needs some competition and fans deserve another alternative.

Your thoughts?  Share them here or join us on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Indy Stars Rise to the Top

By Kevin Hunsperger @kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

All American Pro Wrestling returns to the Black Diamond Harley Davidson Warehouse in Marion, Illinois for another taping of Collision.  The May 19th show (no Kane will not be there) has several great local and regional indy talent already booked.

Hatton (who we saw on WWE Extreme Rules against Ryback) will be on the card.  He takes on Mike Sydal (the younger brother of WWE star Evan Bourne).  These two have been tag team partners before and now will go one on one.  It's fair to say each man is quickly climbing the ladder of success in the independent ranks.  Hatton of course recently made his WWE pay per view debut.  Sydal has made appearances in Ring of Honor and other promotions around the country.


Indy star Ricochet makes his debut with the company.  He's made quite a name for himself around the country and the world.  "The Future of Flight" has been wrestling for Dragon Gate USA and has agreed to team with Mark Sterling (his regular partner Jeremy Wyatt is on the mend after suffering a broken leg).  That duo will face Minor Threat, Ace Hawkins (who also wrestled at WWE Extreme Rules as "Aaron Relic") and Brandon Espinosa.  This match will determine the number one contenders to the tag team championship, which is currently held by Team Overkill (Matt Cage & Christian Rose).

But that's not all, and we may actually have new champs for the winner of that match to face.  Team Overkill will defend against Team Triple X.  Jay Spade and Joey O'Riley are best friends and two of AAPW's best high flyers.  Can their aerial assault trump the mind games of Cage and Rose?  Should be an outstanding match.

All your other AAPW favorites will be a part of the action too.  So join us.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for kids.  Veterans get in free.  See you there Saturday night.  Doors open at 6, belltime is 7 p.m.  Be there!  If you don't live in the area, watch Collision and All Access on the AAPW YouTube channel.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Follow the Leader

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

Last Thursday, TNA/IMPACT wrestling announced they had signed King Mo to a dual contract along with Bellator Fighting, a mixed martial arts company. To be honest, I don’t know anything about Bellator and I know even less about King Mo. When I read the news about the signing, I thought TNA was reforming Men on a Mission. I had never heard of King Mo before so the news didn’t mean anything to me. After realizing King Mabel, Mo and Oscar wouldn’t be coming into TNA, I shook my head and realized this was once again a case of TNA, intentionally or not, copying WWE.

A month ago WWE brings in Brock Lesnar fresh of a UFC run and now TNA is bringing in a “star” MMA fighter. I use the quotations around star because as I said, I don’t know who Mo is and don’t know what type of star power he has in the MMA universe. Because the deal is a joint venture with Bellator, maybe this would be beneficial to TNA and give them some positive cross-promotional publicity.

King Mo
Whether this does lead into some new viewers or not, as I mentioned, the first perception is TNA is playing copy what WWE is doing. As we’ve written about several times here, one of the biggest problems TNA has had over the last ten years is the inability to forge their own identity. I don’t know if anyone within the company considered how bringing in King Mo after WWE brought in Brock Lesnar would look to the casual fans. Nor do I know how King Mo will be used so I may be putting the horse before the cart. Though, with the way the news of the signing was presented, I’m guessing King Mo will actually be wrestling and not just a Pac-Man Jones type of performer who stands on the apron, never wrestles and wins a title.

What’s your take? Did you think it was TNA trying to be like WWE or do I look too deep into everything? Share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

ROH: Up a Paddle without a Stream

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents

Ring of Honor has been doing Internet Pay Per Views for a couple of years now. Until recently, as far as I can recall, they have gone off without a hitch. Over Wrestlemania weekend the two ROH Ippvs had some technical difficulties with the streams going down during the show. Because of the technical issues with the shows, ROH decided to end their partnership with Go Fight Live and bring all online streaming capabilities in house.

The first show to try the new streaming set up was Saturday night’s “Border Wars” headlined by the ROH title match between Davey Richards and Kevin Steen. This was a title match that had been building for six months and a match a lot of people were looking forward to seeing. Unfortunately, by the sounds of it, the only people who got to see it were the fans in the arena.

Prior to Saturday, ROH tested the new on-site streaming on Wednesday by offering fans a free match of CM Punk vs. Bryan Danielson. The number of viewers crashed the system. This should have been a huge red flag given the Ippv was only three days away. After the crash, ROH issued the following statement.

ROH Fans - We apologize for the difficulties in watching the Free Punk Vs Bryan Video as we did not anticipate the exorbitant amount of fans trying to watch it all at once.

For those that missed it, we will leave it up through the weekend as well as post it to YouTube.

Rest assured, this was due to our media server not handling the load that was created by this free video. For our iPPV this weekend, we will be using a highly regarded Content Delivery Network (CDN) to prevent anything like this from happening.

With ROH’s guarantee that there would be no crashing of their live stream, I ordered the PPV on Saturday afternoon hoping to do a review for my123cents. I ordered the show around 3:45 and at 4:20 went back to ROH’s website to prepare for the show. Since I’m not a regular visitor to the ROH website, it took me a few minutes to figure out how to access the page the where the show was streaming. After finding the page, I was informed I needed to log in to access the Ippv. That’s when the problem started.

For the next 45 minutes, I tried to log in and repeatedly got a “that function is unavailable at this time. Try again later” message. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong so I went to Twitter to see what other people were saying about the show and found out about 98% of everyone who ordered the show couldn’t watch it. I finally gave up and decided to request a refund from ROH. At the time, ROH had not made a statement regarding the issues with the stream.

Later in the evening, ROH did issue this statement:

Dear Fans,
Again we are extremely frustrated by the ippv result tonight and offer our deepest apologies.
Since Showdown in the Sun, we have been working endlessly to provide an optimal ppv experience which we believe we have achieved.
For our website, we increased our server memory x3 and doubled its processing power. Still, it seems that our architecture could not handle the excessive user logins and we are left with a great stream that our fans can not see.
If a refund is demanded, it WILL be given. Otherwise we would like to offer full retention of the replay for Border Wars as well as FREE access to the Best in the World PPV on June 24th for anyone who ordered Border Wars tonight. This will also include retention of the Best in the World PPV in your myPPV accounts.
We WILL get this right no matter what it takes in time for Best in the World.

While I appreciate ROH making good with offering the next Ippv for free to fans who purchased “Border Wars,” I think it’s a little too late. After three consecutive shows with technical issues, will fans want to take the chance on another show? I have admitted to not being a big ROH fan so maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t think I’m going to clear my calendar to be free the night “Best in the World” takes place.

As the saying goes, fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. What are your thoughts? Will you be more or less hesitant to order future ROH Ippvs, or Ippvs from any company based on the technical issues of the last few shows? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

For the record, Evolve had two Ippvs over the weekend and CZW had one on Saturday night. I have heard no complaints from those shows due to technical issues. This seems to be a ROH only occurrence.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Voice?

Your AAPW commentary team
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Many of you know that I do play-by-play for All American Pro Wrestling, a fast growing independent promotion in the southern Illinois, southeast Missouri, and western Kentucky area.  We also reach parts of Tennessee and Indiana through WSIL TV, the ABC affiliate in the region.  AAPW Collision is also seen world wide on YouTube and the company's first DVD release, "Main Event" is available for purchase still.

The reason I'm writing this post is because for as long as I can remember I wanted to be involved in the world of professional wrestling in some way.  In my younger years I wanted to be a manager.  I never really thought about the independent route back then.  I wanted to be the next Bobby Heenan or Jimmy Hart and work for the WWF.

As I got older, I knew that wouldn't be a reality.  But right after I graduated from college I decided to send a resume to the WWF.  They had no job listed at the time, but I was a naive 22 year old who thought why not?  I actually got a rejection letter from them telling me that they didn't have any positions for me at the time, but they'd keep my resume on file and should something come open, they'd contact me.  They never did.

In 1999, after I had nearly two years of anchoring the news under my belt, I had the courage to apply for a ring announcer position with the company.  But I was greener than goose poop as Bill Demott would say.  By the way, the person the WWE hired for that ring announcer post, Lillian Garcia.  Obviously they made the right choice there.  I knew I didn't really stand a chance, but it was that small glimmer of hope and that "what if" factor that was playing in the back of my mind.  I had been doing some camera work for a small Indy fed in northwest Alabama at the time.  It was fun, but because I'm terribly shy I didn't really take the opportunity to talk with the wrestlers and learn the business.

Billy Gunn before IWA
Fast forward to 2005 and I had the opportunity to be a guest ring announcer for Ian Rotten's IWA: Midsouth when the company came to town.  They were here three times total and I was the ring announcer for two of them.  The birth of my daughter kept me away the third time.  I also had a chance to be a referee for a couple of matches in 2010.  I thought that would pretty much be it for me.

But then in the spring of 2011 I was approached to do play-by-play for AAPW.  I know I'm still greener than goose poop, but I'm wanting to hone my skills and become better.  Executive producer and my broadcast colleague Chris Hagstrom has referred to me as "the Voice of AAPW."  It's an honor I don't take lightly.  So that's where you guys come in.  You're obviously a wrestling fan, or you wouldn't be reading this.

Please take the opportunity to watch the YouTube clips below and give me your 1-2-3 Cents on my skills.  If you don't want to post your opinions here, feel free to email me at kevinhunsperger@gmail.com.  I have incredibly thick skin from years as a news anchor, so you're not going to offend me.  Thanks for reading and for the input.









Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Tale of Two Pushes

Lord Tensai & Funkasaurus (WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Brodus Clay and Lord Tensai are both riding the wave of success in the WWE.  Since finally debuting after weeks (maybe even months) of promises, Funkasaurus has been undefeated on WWE television.  The same goes for the artist formerly known as A-Train.

While each man shares that in common, that's about the end of the similarities.  Tensai is a brutal, raw wrestler who holds impressive pinfall victories over current WWE champion CM Punk, former champ John Cena, and now tag team champion coholder R-Truth.  I like the fact that the WWE has a dominant heel to push, but I'm still not sold on it being Lord Tensai.  I've talked about it before, and I'll say it again he just doesn't impress me.  I was never a fan of his when he was Prince Albert or A-Train, and I'm still not today.

Pinning Punk (WWE)
That's not taking anything away from him, as I do believe he has improved since his last run with the company.  Obviously going to Japan did help.  And as I mentioned, the WWE lacks character development in my view and Tensai could end up being a good one to push.  I do worry though that with two really big wins on Raw and the other squash matches in the course of just over a month, we may be on a Tensai overload.  I hope it doesn't end up coming back to bite him.

As for Brodus Clay, I enjoyed him on NXT and in the weeks that followed.  He seemed lost though and I'm not even sure how much he actually wrestled once being brought to the main roster.  I think the time he spent off TV and being repackaged was brilliant.  I (like many fans) thought Clay would come back as a monster too, dominating his opponents.  Instead, he's the Funkasaurus who enjoys dancing in the ring and keeping the fans entertained.  So far, I'd say it's working for him, but arguably his resume isn't as impressive as Tensai's in terms of victories.  The Lord has pinned two top WWE superstars.  Clay has beaten the Miz (who seems to be on a slide) and Dolph Ziggler.  Of course there have been a lot of squash matches for him too, but the wins over Miz and Ziggler mark an important step in Clay's development too.

Splashing Miz (WWE)
I think many people viewed him as a joke and destined to fail, especially after he disappeared briefly from TV earlier this year.  But I'm going to go out on a limb and say fans enjoy the character and he's going to be around for a while.  Man I hope I didn't just jinx him, because the truth of the matter is I really like Funkasaurus.  He's entertaining as hell.  Plus he (like Tensai) don't fall into that cookie-cutter image that many of the other WWE superstars have.

Kudos to the WWE for their pushing of these two men.  I hope it continues as it will bring new blood to the main event and championship pictures this year.  I like where things have been going in recent months with guys like Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Cody Rhodes in more of the spotlight.  I don't necessarily see a Tensai or Clay world title run in the near future, but I think either man is capable of holding the Intercontinental or U.S championships.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

AIW Preview

From AIW Facebook page
By Adam Testa
@RingPostsTesta on Twitter

This weekend, Absolute Intense Wrestling will present the JT Lightning Invitational Tournament. The two-day, 24-man spectacle will take place Friday and Saturday at historic Turners Hall in Cleveland, Ohio. The venue is the former home of Cleveland All Pro Wrestling, the company founded by Lightning, who died of cancer last year.

For the stars of AIW, this isn't just another show; this is a special opportunity to pay tribute to a fallen comrade, wrestler and friend. But they also know there's a valuable prize on the line: a shot at the Absolute Championship at Absolution, AIW's biggest show of the year, on July 1.

Last year, when the tournament was called the Todd Pettengill Invitational, Shiima Xion claimed victory and won the title. Unfortunately, he also joined the evil Flexor Industries, changed his name to Zema Ion and fled to TNA.

Now, AIW title defenses are rare, as Xion never seems to be available. But there are 24 men all looking for their shot to challenge for that title, and after this weekend, one of them will have a shot.

Let's take a look at the first round of the tournament:

BJ Whitmer vs. Colt Cabana
The mere fact this is a first round match says a lot about the caliber of talent competing and the potential for this tournament. These two are top-tier independent wrestling veterans who very easily could be meeting much deeper in any other tournament. Since returning to wrestling, Whitmer has kind of made AIW his home, while Cabana has made frequent appearances as a guest star. That said, the edge in this one goes to Whitmer, who has been looking for another shot at the Absolute Championship.
Winner: BJ Whitmer

Bobby Beverly vs. Kodama
Bobby Beverly is representing Flexor Industries, AIW's primary heel faction. Chest Flexor is looking to take his of his men to the finals as an insurance policy of sorts, protecting Xion from having to defend his title at Absolution. Kodama, meanwhile, was a late addition to the tournament, representing CHIKARA. Both men lead toward the heel/rudo side, so this could be an interesting match-up, but in the end, shenanigans from Flexor will likely allow Beverly to advance.
Winner: Bobby Beverly

Louis Lyndon vs. Mat Fitchett
This has potential to be a really fun match. Lyndon has made a name for himself as one half of Aeroform, a premier tag team in AIW. Fitchett comes from St. Louis Anarchy, comprising The Sex Bob-Ombs with Davey Vega. Both men are aerial experts and know how to put together a good match, so this could be the sleeper hit of night one. But in the end, it will be Flexor Industries' Lyndon advancing, freeing up Fitchett to have a tag team match on night two.
Winner: Louis Lyndon

Spanky vs. Tim Donst
While this may not be classified as a "dream match," it's certainly a pairing many people never would have expected to see. For those who don't know, Spanky is former WWE superstar Brian Kendrick. Donst is one of the top rudos in CHIKARA, where he has really been hitting his stride lately. But in AIW, Donst has built a reputation as a fan favorite, and he has many unsettled issues with Flexor Industries. That unfinished business makes a Donst victory the more compelling story.
Winner: Tim Donst

Eric Ryan vs. Obariyon
Eric Ryan is a homegrown AIW star, a true representative of the company. Formerly a heel aligned with Beverly, he has since been paving a path as one of the promotion's top single's stars - and produced a number of quality matches while doing so. Obariyon, on the other hand, is Kodama's tag team partner in the Batiri, also representing CHIKARA. This has the potential to be a good match, much like the one Ryan had with CHIKARA stars Kobald (also of the Batiri) and Ophidian earlier this year.
Winner: Eric Ryan

Rickey Shane Page vs. Flip Kendrick
Page, better known as RSP, used to wrestle under a mask as Christian Faith, but since removing the hood, he's developed into a star like no one would have imagined. In the past year, Page has had some amazing matches, but lately, he's been on a bit of a losing streak. Kendrick, the other half of Aeroform along with Lyndon, is an extremely skilled wrestler, also aligned with Flexor Industries. Page is determined to win this tournament, and he'll snap his losing streak here.
Winner: Rickey Shane Page

Josh Prohibition vs. Matt Cross
These two men currently hold the AIW Tag Team Championship as Youthanazia, but this match will be partner-against-partner. They met last year during the JT Lightning tribute show, so it's fitting again they meet in this year's tournament. Both men are extremely talented and this match will be off the charts, but only one can win. It's tough to choose here, but Prohibition will pull it out in the end.
Winner: Josh Prohibition

Ophidian vs. Greg Iron
Both of these men are also CHIKARA regulars, but AIW is Iron's home turf. They met at CHIKARA's JoshiMania event in December with Ophidian emerging victorious. Iron seems determined to get his win back in front of his hometown crowd, but he seems to have fallen into a slump in recent months. Iron's bad luck will continue, as Ophidian puts him away once again. The interesting thing will be to see which version of Ophidian shows up - his old self or the molten snake he has become.
Winner: Ophidian

ACH vs. Davey Vega
ACH has become the new hot commodity on the independent wrestling circuit. Based out of Anarchy Championship Wrestling in Texas, he has made appearances for promotions across the country and impressed fans everywhere he's gone. Vega, meanwhile, has also been traveling the circuit, working for ACW and its sister promotion St. Louis Anarchy, as well as becoming a semi-regular at AIW with partner Fitchett. But in this contest, there's only one man to win, and his initials are ACH.
Winner: ACH

Willie Mack vs. Ethan Page
This is another interesting match. Mack has made a name for himself in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in California, making few appearances outside the west coast. Page, no relation to RSP, is a Canadian wrestler who impressed in a recent AIW pre-show and petitioned to be included in the tournament. Look for an impressive showing from Page as he looks to make a name for himself, but Mack will pounce his way to victory and a second-round match with ACH.
Winner: Willie Mack

Marion Fontaine vs. Facade
One of very few matches in the first round to feature two full-time AIW performers, this is also possibly the toughest match to call. Fontaine is a former Intense Division Champion with a unique personality, while Facade is an urban ninja - literally. Based on the events of "Straight Outta Compton," Fontaine gets the edge here, so he can have a match with the winner of the next contest.
Winner: Marion Fontaine

Archibald Peck vs. Colin Delaney
Well, Archibald Peck is one of the greatest men who ever lived. No, not one of the greatest WRESTLERS; one of the greatest MEN. Not enough words can be said about the greatness this man brings to life, both his own and those of everyone who has the honor and privilege of seeing him compete. Delaney, though, is a former WWE superstar, a point he's made quite known recently. Since retiring his brother Jimmy Olsen, Delaney has been looking to build a name for himself, and this is his chance. Sorry, Archie.
Winner: Colin Delaney

For the sake of saving time if all these predictions turn out to be false, detailed descriptions of round two and three predictions won't be provided. But here's a snapshot of what they may look like:

Round Two
Bobby Beverly d. BJ Whitmer
Tim Donst d. Louis Lyndon
Eric Ryan d. Rickey Shane Page
Josh Prohibition d. Ophidian
ACH d. Willie Mack
Colin Delaney d. Marion Fontaine

Round Three
Bobby Beverly d. Tim Donst
Eric Ryan d. Josh Prohibition
ACH d. Colin Delaney

Finals
Eric Ryan d. Bobby Beverly and ACH


Winner?

ACH will be the first man eliminated from the finals, leaving former Young Studs tag team partners Ryan and Beverly to fight it out. Flexor Industries will do everything in its power to give Beverly the win, but something will happen to equalize their presence (cue Whitmer and Donst).

Ryan will win the match and the right to face Xion at Absolution. But there will be a catch. Johnny Gargano will also be cashing in his Gauntlet for the Gold title opportunity, making it at least a three-way dance.

Keep up with Adam's Raw and SmackDown! recaps and pay per view previews and analysis on the Baltimore Sun Ringposts blog.  Click here for the details.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Gone, But Not Forgotten: Hercules

The Mighty Hercules
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I've decided to start a new feature that pays tribute to the men and women of wrestling who are no longer with us.  Earlier today, I reposted my blog on the late, great Owen Hart since May 7 is his birthday.  I also discovered Hart shares a birthday with the Hercules Hernandez.  He would have been 56 this year (2012), but sadly Hercules died in his sleep in 2004 of heart disease.

My first memories of Hercules date back to the mid 1980's when Sunshine brought him in to World Class Championship Wrestling.  He was briefly a baby face, but turned on Sunshine and I think joined Devastation Incorporated.  While in WCCW, I remember him wrestling on Bill Watts MidSouth wrestling show too.  He and Gino Hernandez (another star I'll highlight with this series) against two of my favorites, Kerry Von Erich and Hacksaw Jim Duggan.  Von Erich pinned Herc after Duggan hit him with a coal miner's glove.

Sunshine & Hercules in WCCW
It wasn't long after this that Hercules moved to the WWF.  He dropped the Hernandez surname and became just Hercules.  He carried a long chain and if memory serves me right, he was managed by Classy Freddie Blassie up until the Fashion Fad Plate's retirement.  Slick took over Hercules' contact only to "sell" it to sell it to Bobby "the Brain" Heenan.

Under Heenan, Hercules seemed to prosper.  He wrestled Hulk Hogan on an episode on Saturday Night's Main Event.  The strongman even got the champion up on his shoulders in his torture rack finisher.  Of course Hogan rallied, but it was quite a site to see the mighty Hulkster writhing in pain at the hands of Hercules.



Hercules vs. Ultimate Warrior
He entered a feud with Billy Jack Haynes in which I don't really think either man got the upper hand.  One Hercules' biggest wins in my opinion came at the SNME prior to Wrestlemania III where he won the battle royal.  Guys like Hogan, Andre the Giant, Paul Orndorff, and Haynes were all a part of it.  After a double count out match with Haynes at Mania, Hercules went on to have a program with newcomer the Ultimate Warrior.  Clearly, the Warrior was brought in to be a big star and he easily dominated Hercules.

After being lost in the shuffle for a bit, Herc turned face when Heenan "sold" his contract to "the Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase.  Hercules wanted no part of that and feuded briefly with the MDM, only to come up on the losing end.  He did score another impressive win, this time at Wrestlemania V when he pinned King Haku.  But he never really escaped that level of competition.  Hercules eventually turned heel again and teamed with Paul Roma as Power and Glory.  Slick managed the duo, and at one point I thought they might have tag team gold in their future, but it never happened.

Power & Glory
Hercules eventually left the WWF in 1992 and headed to WCW as "Super Invader".  He wore a mask and I don't know how many fans actually knew it was him.  Later in the year, he left and ended up on the Indy scene until he retired.

Despite never winning any gold in the WWF, Hercules was a definite fixture in the Heenan family.  Only time will tell if the company decides his career was worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame.  But for now, I'll remember him fondly and wish him a happy birthday and a rest in peace.

Friday, May 4, 2012

May the 4th Be With You

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Since it's Star Wars Day (May the 4th Be With You), I decided let my inner geek out even more so than usual.  So I'm booking wrestling stars from the present against some of my favorite Star Wars characters.  Keep in mind though, that most of my knowledge is with episodes four, five, and six.

Here's my Star Wars Wrestling Federation card:
Commentators for the night: Yoda & Jim Ross

Skywalker vs. Cena
Luke Skywalker vs. John Cena: Both seem to use "the force" to battle the odds and come from behind for the victory.  Like him or not, Cena is still the company's biggest baby face in my opinion, so it only makes sense to put him in there with the original trilogy's ultimate good guy.

Darth Vader vs. The Undertaker: I was originally going to go with Vader vs. Vader here, but I decided to tweak my own rules and go with today's wrestling stars.  Undertaker makes sense here as he's been such a dominate force for two decades.  Although he's been a face for the vast majority of his career, when he was Big Evil, he reminded me of Lord Vader, getting into the minds and souls of his followers.

Solo vs. Punk
Han Solo vs. CM Punk:  Two smart asses who are on a quest to show they're the best in the world.  Both guys could also be "the top dog" if only they could step out of their counterparts shadow in Skywalker and Cena.  I wonder how Punk would look in carbonite?

Princess Leia vs. Beth Phoenix:  Two strong, independent women who know what they want.  They have both kicked butt and taken names along the way.  How could you go wrong?

Chewbacca vs. The Big Show:  Two big guys who spend a lot of time playing second fiddle to the ones they're around.  Both are strong and would by no means put on a technical showcase, but I think there would be a lot of fun had in a match between these two behemoths.

Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Ric Flair:  Two legends go toe to toe.  One of these guys knew when to hang it up though...

Anakin Skywalker vs. Daniel Bryan:  Yes, yes, yes! I'm aware that Anakin and Darth Vader are the same person, but for the sake of this blog they are two separate characters in the movies.  Both started off (at least Bryan in the WWE/NXT) as baby faces and have since turned to the dark side.

C3PO vs. Jericho
C3PO vs. Chris Jericho:  Stay with me on this one.  The Droid who is fluent in over six million forms of communication against the wrestler who once claimed to be the man of 1004 holds.  Plus, C3PO has his colorful, flashy droid buddy R2-D2, and Jericho has that awesomely flashy jacket.  I smell instant classic.

The Emperor vs. Hulk Hogan: Both seem to have a choke hold on their respective industries and refuse to let go.  At least someone finally broke the Emperor's amazing grip.

Anakin Solo vs. Randy Orton:  This is set up to be a battle between two third generation stars.  Solo has the Force on his side, Orton has the Cowboy.

Padme Amidala vs. Natalya Neidhart:  While I feel like Natalya is one of the best Divas on the roster, I think the WWE will finally recognize that too and she'll be a queen of the ring in the company's eyes.  Both women have a lineage in their respective fields.

Lando Calrissian vs. Cody Rhodes: Lando was the coolest guy in the galaxy far, far away and in my opinion Cody is the coolest guy on SmackDown.  It's the battle of two prima donnas in my view.

Boba Fett vs. Dolph Ziggler:  Both of these heels seem to be over with fans and have a cult following.

Jabba vs. Hawkins & Hatton
Jabba the Hut vs. Heath (Jay) Hatton & Ace Hawkins (Aaron Relic): Because 2 is greater than 1, duh.

Darth Maul vs. Sheamus: Darth Maul is a badass.  So is Sheamus.  And they're both red heads. (Sorry, I don't have much more here)

Jar-Jar Binks vs. Kharma:  Only booking this so we can watch Kharma destroy Jar-Jar and squash him with the Implant Buster.

Bail Organa & Mace Windu vs. Kofi Kingston & RTruth: I'll be honest, I'm not sure what kind of alliance Bail and Mace had, but let's face it, this is a WWE tag team title match, so

The Max Rebo Band vs. The Batiri: If you're not a Chikara fan you won't get this reference.  I'd suggest looking up them up.  This could be an entertaining matchup to say the least.

Three Storm Troopers vs. The Colony:  Another Chikara inspired match.  The Colony is an army of ants, they'd fight hard to defend the honor of wrestling against Lord Vader's team of stooges.

Wicket W. Warrick vs. Hornswoggle:  This would be a feature match for the kids.  Who doesn't love a cuddly little Ewok in their with a cuddly little Leprechuen?

Who would you put on your Star Wars wrestling card?  Post here or on our Facebook wall.  Don't forget to like us.  May the Force Be with You!




Thursday, May 3, 2012

Battle of the Sexes

Sara Del Rey vs. El Generico (My 1-2-3 Cents)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I don't know for sure, but I'm fairly certain that intergender wrestling came into existence in the early 1980's when comedian Andy Kaufman would challenge women to matches during his comedy shows.  This blossomed into a wrestling angle in the MidSouth territory and led to more of these man vs. woman matches.  Eventually Kaufman would take on Memphis hero, Jerry "the King" Lawler.

Now I'm no expert on the subject, and quite honestly until a few days ago had never seen an intergender match in person.  Well, I take that back, I did see "Rosey O'Donnell" vs. "Donald Trump" a few years ago when Raw was in St. Louis.  And technically I witnessed first hand Kharma's brief reign of terror in the 2012 Royal Rumble.  But I digress...

Keeping it clean
Recently I watched my first ever Chikara Pro show live and in person.  My friends and I were on hand for "Hot Off the Griddle" in Chicago Ridge.  The main event: Sara Del Rey (the Queen of Wrestling) vs. El Generico.  We had talked about the pending contest on a recent From the Rafters Radio show which sparked a discussion about whether men and women should be in the ring with one another.

After the high quality match between SDR and Generico, I would say heck yes.  As the match went on, I no longer paid attention to the fact that Del Rey is a woman.  This was just two great competitors going at it, giving the fans on helluva show.  Both treated each other with a level of respect that you don't see very often anymore in the world of wrestling or any other walk of life.  When SDR got the pin, I wasn't really all that surprised, as I've seen her work on line and know that she truly has a gift.

Obariyon vs. SDR (My 1-2-3 Cents)
The next night SDR was in action again, this time against Bitari member Obariyon.  I thought this match was a little more aggressive than the one the night before.  Because Obariyon is a rudo (heel) he bent the rules more and seemed to be a bit rougher with SDR.  But again I did not feel like it was excessively violent and Sara really did hold her own.  She lost the contest and when the rest of the Bitari came out to strike, SDR was saved by fellow female wrestler Saturyne.  These two cleared the ring of the rudos and celebrated to the back.

I used the Sara Del Rey stories as an example because I think Chikara does a pretty good job with these types of matches.  However I do think the WWE has in the past done some pretty good intergender matches too.  But only when they are set up as serious matches.  I don't like it when it's an apparent squash like say Kane vs. Kelly Kelly (I don't know if that actually happened, but when there's a rogue GM, I know he's put Kane in their with a helpless Diva)

Chyna wins the IC title
The Chyna-Chris Jericho feud was pretty good back in 1999.  The two battled it out over the Intercontinental title.  I think it's fair to say that Chyna paved the way for Divas to mix it up with the guys.  Jacqueline would also go on to win a "man's" title when she became the Cruiserweight champion.  She also beat Harvey Whippleman for the women's title.  He had won the gold as "Hervina".  That part of history I'd like to gloss over.  And I may have misspoke by giving Chyna so much credit.  As Miss Texas, Jacqueline wrestled men in the USWA prior to Chyna's WWE success.  Regardless, both women hold a place in the history of women's wrestling in my opinion and breaking that gender barrier.

The Knockouts Tag Team Champs (TNA)
On the flip side of the coin you've got Eric Young in TNA who is holding one half of the Knockouts tag team title with ODB.  I'm not sure how I feel about that, as women wrestlers have come a long way, now a guy is encroaching on their title.  Maybe that's a bit hypocritical of me to say.  I'm just not sure I like the idea.

But I do believe that Sara Del Rey, ODB, Beth Phoenix, Natalya Neidhart, and Kharma all have what it takes to compete in the ring against their male counterparts.  Will we one day see a female world heavyweight champion?  I honestly don't think that's out of the question, but right now the women are treated second rate in WWE, so I wouldn't expect to see that happen there in the near future.  I'd suspect we may see SDR as the champ of a large indy promotion first, and she'll once again set the standard for women's wrestling.





Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Whose Side is He On?

Here comes Hulk! (WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I'm watching some classic videos on WWE's YouTube channel and I again came across the 1996 Bash at the Beach.  For those unfamiliar with that show, it was a WCW pay per view that was the site of one of the most historic heel turns in the history of wrestling.  Heck, dare I say it, maybe it WAS the biggest turn ever.

The match was to feature the Outsiders, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash and a tag team partner against WCW mainstays Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger.  For some reason the third Outsider never showed up, but Hall and Nash were able to take out Luger, rendering him useless in the match and turning it into a tag team affair.

After a back and forth battle, all the contestants end up flat on the mat when who should appear, but former WCW champion Hulk Hogan.  He wasn't booked on the show for some reason, I really don't remember the story line as to why he wasn't a part of team WCW.  Anyway, the point of the post is this.  During commentary when Hogan strolls down to the ring, Bobby Heenan wonders out loud, "Whose side is he on?" To me, it was to imply that Hogan was not coming down to help his allies Savage and Sting.

Heel turn!
After Heenan's question, Dusty Rhodes (who is also on commentary) seems to almost stumble and actually seems surprised by the question.  I don't know if anyone has talked about this before, but were the announcers in on the Hogan heel turn?  Or was Heenan just being inquisitive and trying to cast that shadow of doubt in the minds and hearts of the fans?

I love the Brain, but I think if the announcers were in on it, he may have let the cat out of the bag about 30 seconds too soon.  In the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter all that much I suppose, but I would think that some fans found this to kinda ruin the surprise.  That was more than 15 years ago and that line "whose side is he on?" still echoes in my memory bank.  Of course the turn was successful regardless, I just wonder if it was a legitimate accident or if Heenan was trying to get someone's goat.

Watch for yourself.  And tell me your thoughts?  Post them here or on Facebook.  Thanks for reading.