Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Generally Speaking...

Former WWF President, Jack Tunney
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

John Laurinaitis has been removed of his duties as the Raw and SmackDown! general manager.  Now we're playing the waiting game to find out who will fill the role.  In the meantime, various GMs and commissioners from the past are taking the helm.  This recently spurred a discussion for our Rafter's Roundtable on From the Rafters Radio (search for it on iTunes too)

During the conversation, we talked about our favorite authority figures in wrestling.  As you can imagine, our panel and our listeners all had different thoughts on the subject.  For me, it was Jack Tunney.  While he was not exactly a charismatic figure, he was not on TV each week.  In this day and age of wrestling, I feel like the GM is a played out concept and in many cases steals valuable time from the talent.

You can probably count on both hands how many times you saw Jack Tunney on WWF Superstars.  Many of his appearances were pre taped messages.  Commentators (Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura) reminded the audience that Tunney was in charge, but there wasn't that overwhelmingly presence we see now.  I can't remember any specific pay per view appearances by Tunney, much less wrestling at one (I know Johnny is a former wrestler, but look at Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon)  I know in the pic to the right, Tunney appears to be holding a Wrestlemania mic, maybe it was at WM 4??? Gorilla Monsoon also did a good job in his role as President after Tunney retired.  His involvement was more hands on, but again it wasn't the focal point of story lines.

The modern day concept I think evolved when guys like Mick Foley, Steve Austin, and Shawn Michaels (his first time 'retiring') could no longer wrestle, but the WWE still wanted to have some role for them.  I can't completely fault them with that, but I don't think we need the GM, commissioner, or president on the air every week, twice a week.  And while I'm on the subject, what is Vince's role now? We had a GM for Raw and SmackDown!, a chief operating officer in Triple H, and the chairman of the board in Vince.  But I thought last summer he was relieved of those duties.  Seriously, I'm confused and please let me know what I missed.

Okay, that's about it for now.  I'll be back from vacation soon and more regular posts will happen again.  Thanks for reading and share with your friends too.  Oh yeah, don't forget to like us on Facebook.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

AAPW Summer Chaos

Photo courtesy: AAPW
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I'm officially on vacation and since I'm in the great outdoors with my sons and I'm not sure how much of an Internet connection I'll have, so I'm going to try to have a few blogs that will autopost in my absence.  But this is an important one and I wanted to make sure I got it personally online before leaving town.  I'm not 100% sure how the autopost will work, and it's never to early to do a little promotion...

All American Pro Wrestling has been flying high since the record crowd that attended Main Event back in January.  The company seems to be headed in the right direction.  There's a new "No Limits" division that's been added very soon a new champion will be crowned.  More fans are attending live the TV tapings for AAPW Collision and folks are watching the show both on local television and on YouTube.  Now things are heating up as the company heads to Summer Chaos on June 30 (6:45 p.m. bell time in Marion, Illinois)

But all that momentum was nearly derailed after Mike Masters punched a fan on a recent edition of Collision.  Masters was immediately fired for his actions.  It seems he was upset after having lost to AAPW champion Edmund "Livewire" McGuire in a title match.  And Masters has a point, his foot was on the bottom rope before the referee made the three count.  His temper got the best of him, and despite being fired, Masters was rehired by AAPW owner Sean Chambers.  It was a questionable move, but Chambers insists that if Masters loses the match on June 30th, he'll be fired.  Livewire has been a fighting champion since regaining the AAPW title more than a year ago.  This will be a tough challenge, but the champ has beaten guys like Ax Allwardt and "Golden Boy" Greg Anthony, and even Masters himself.  Lately too some creepy videos have been appearing on AAPW Collision, McGuire wants answers and will likely get what he's looking for at Summer Chaos.

Not only will the AAPW title be defended on June 30th, but so will the AAPW tag team titles.  Matt Cage and Christian Rose, collectively known as Team Overkill will face two very talented indy stars in Brandon Espinosa and Ace Hawkins.  Minor Threat has been a major threat in the tag team ranks.  These four men will take it to the limit, I have no doubt about that.

And speaking of limits, there is a fatal four way involving the semi-finalists in the No Limits tournament.  Joey O'Riley, Jay Spade, KC Jackson, and Sean Vincent will all do battle in this match.  While the match itself has no bearings on the tournament, one would assume that the winner will have some momentum moving forward to the finals.

AAPW welcomes a couple guests to Summer Chaos, including "M-Dogg 20" Matt Cross who was on the most recent season of WWE's Tough Enough.  Cross made his AAPW debut at Main Event, but will join us again on June 30th to team with "The Handicap Hero" Gregory Iron, and AAPW's own Kyle Sykes.  That trio will take on Sir Bradley Charles, Chase King, and Mark Sterling.  I'm not sure what to expect out of this one, but Sykes has been impressive in recent weeks and will certainly be in good company in this match.

"The Old School Warrior" Ax Allwardt and Heath Hatton are gearing up for one heck of a grudge match at Summer Chaos.  These two have been at each other since the season premier of Collision in April during the battle royal to determine a number one contender to the AAPW championship.  There have been sneak attacks, distractions, and other head games leading up to what is sure to be a brawl.

Women's wrestling returns with the Great Cheyenne taking on Serenity.  This will be Serenity's AAPW debut and I'm looking forward to this match.  We've seen Cheyenne rumble with Stacey O'Brien in the past on Collision.  Women's wrestling is something fans have told us they want, so at Summer Chaos, that's exactly what they'll get.

Truk Thompson is a relative newcomer to AAPW, but so far he has rolled over all the competition.  He hopes to keep that momentum going as he clashes with Benjamin Boone.

I hope to see you all there at Summer Chaos.  If you can't make it, be sure to stay tuned for details on ordering the DVD.  You can also check out AAPW online.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

CD Review: Reflections: Old Memories of a Young Lion


@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

In preparation of Tim Donst’s upcoming interview on From the Rafters Radio, I decided to finally review Tim’s self-produced CD that I bought at the Chikara show in Chicago Ridge. The CD is cleverly titled, Reflections: Old Memories of a Young Lion, playing off Tim Donst being a former Chikara Young Lion’s Cup winner.

Before I get into thoughts on the nine tracks, I want to get the harshest criticism out of the way. The audio levels leave a lot to be desired. I’m guessing Tim recorded this at home on his computer or cell phone or some type of recording device that wasn’t a professional studio. There’s little consistency in volume level from track to track and some of the tracks are over modulated. If you get past the amateur audio though, this is a highly entertaining CD.

The first track is entitled Free Bonus: Chapter 36 of Tim’s Biography.  This is Tim reading a chapter talking about his youthful days and a game of tag with friends. A simple game of tag leads to a backyard tickle fight/wrestling match against Tim’s nemesis Betsy Palmer. I won’t ruin the ending of the story, but will say the purpose of the story is to show Tim had a Rudo side to him even as a child.

From there the CD segues into the first song called “Do the Donstaroo.”  It may just be me but this reminded me of the Bloodhound Gang’s, “The Bad Touch.” Of the five songs on the album, this is the weakest.

Tim shows his versatility on track 3: Open Mic Night Standup. As the title implies this is Tim doing a comedy routine.  Donst has some good jokes including one about dating a girl who was such a bad cook she burnt his Eggo and wondering if Chuck Taylor also dated her and if she was the inspiration for Chuck’s finisher, the Awful Waffle. Based of this track if Tim ever comes to Hollywood and performs at the Laugh Factory or Comedy Store, I would definitely go to the show.

Track 4 should already be on everyone’s Ipod. It is Tim’s multi-platinum hit song “Who’s the Man?”  If you’ve been living under a rock and aren’t familiar with the song here’s the YouTube video.  A running theme through most of the tracks is Donst’s obsession with proving he’s the best Young Lion’s Cup Champion and especially better than Hallowicked. On Who’s the Man” Hallowicked shows up at the end to give his thoughts on the matter.



After the greatness that is “Who’s the Man,” Tim goes into another story. This one dedicated to former Chikara Director of Fun Leonard F. Chikarason’s son. “The Talk” offers words of advice to the young Chikarason about being careful when it comes to women and trusting them and keeping them away from your tag team partner. The ending to the story is pretty entertaining.

Following the tale about being careful about women, Track 6, “Be My Ring Valet” is a pseudo-ballad to a future rat. Heartwarming and if we were living in 1988, “Be My Ring Valet” would be a bigger hit than “Every Rose Has its Thorn.”

Track 7, “voicemails from Easton from 1.28.11 with Jakob Hammermeier.” This is a series of voicemails Jakob leaves on Tim’s phone. The weakest track on the CD and could have easily been left on the recording room floor.

Hallowicked & Donst
Photo by: Flickr user Rick Foster
The CD ends with my personal favorite track, “Greatest YLC RAP.” Comparable to Billy Joel’s, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Tim runs down the events of his Young Lion’s Cup reign. Detailing all the opponents he bested while working in shots at Hallowicked. Honestly how can you not like a song that includes the line, “Hallowicked you’re Screech and I’m Zack Morris. All my Donstaroos sing the chorus.” A fine closer to the CD if ever there was one.

I don’t know if all CDs feature it but my copy has a hidden bonus track called, “Knockin’ on Wink’s Door.” Since current Chikara Director of Fun Wink Vavasseur wouldn’t listen to Tim’s request for a match with Hallowicked, Tim decided to put his request into song form. It seemed to pay off as Tim and Hallowicked squared off at Chikarasaurus Rex 3.

When I purchased this CD I did so more as a novelty and didn’t expect much from it. With the exception of the Voicemail track and “Do the Donstaroo” this turned out to be a highly entertaining and catchy CD. I think on the road trip from Chicago to Lafayette, Indiana to Marion, Illinois we must have listened to this four or five times. There are a lot of Chikara references so someone who isn’t as familiar with the past three years of Chikara storylines probably won’t appreciate the stories and songs as much as die hard Chikara fans, Still there’s a lot worse CDs you could be listening to. Seriously, listen to “Who’s the Man” and if you don’t find yourself humming it or singing along later in the day, I’d say you have no soul.

I don’t know if Tim is still selling copies at live events he’s booked on, but if you want a copy, you can always hit him up on Twitter @tdonst and ask how to obtain a copy. The holidays are coming up and this would make a great present.

After you buy Reflections: Old Memories of a Young Lion let us know on our Facebook page. Want to hear from satisfied buyers. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wrestling Roommate's Favorite Cage Match

Suplex
By Aaron Heller, the Wrestling Roommate
@stillreal2me on Twitter

While I did not make last week’s From the Rafters Radio show, I promised Kevin that I would write a blog for to come out on Thursday of last week and in perfect wrestling roommate fashion, I finally sat down Monday night to write the blog. The match I would have spoken about on the show was the match of Chris Benoit versus one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, my Olympic hero, Kurt Angle. The match was on Raw in June 2001.  The match not only was good, but to be honest it was all the story development that was happening ringside.

The match was 13 days before the King of the Ring pay-per-view and a triple threat match between Austin, Benoit, and Chris Jericho. After the cage lowered the glass broke and a very heel rattlesnake came out to the announce table. The entire time JR was not happy about the addition to ring side. Also on commentary was Paul Hayman who was always, in my opinion, a great announcer. This was one of my favorite Austin personas. When he came to the table he even threatened to whip JR’s “butt.”

The match included a German suplex from the top rope from Benoit on to Angle, a diving head butt from the top of the cage, and Benoit did his rolling German suplex (9 I believe, even though there was a release at 6). After the last suplex by Benoit, Austin prevented Benoit from winning, resulting in a diving headbutt from Benoit off the top of the cage. Benoit then had the door slammed on his head allowing Angle to crawl out of the cage and unto the floor. Austin then basically destroyed Benoit with a chair the likes we will not see on WWE anytime soon.

Benoit goes up high
This match was what we would call PPV quality now, and the fact that not only the match occurred on a Raw(is War) but also this match is everything I remember and loved about the Attitude Era. The personas were larger than life, because they were larger than life. These guys were allowed to basically go out and be themselves, only turned up to max. I can take it or leave it with the other junk from the era. The slogans like get the F out, and the ho train, but the legends that made the Era a time we reminisce about now because they were doing what they did best.

 For me it’s not the creative team that is lacking now, it is the talent. The guys in the back are canned 80’s style guys that are not allowed to do what they do best….be themselves (that is a story for another time though.)

If you have not seen the match it can be found on YouTube in entirety I highly suggest it as it is my favorite cage match and my pick for last week’s Rafters Roundtable.

Part one of the match
Part two of the match

Monday, June 18, 2012

No Way Out of Bad Booking

You're fired!
Photo courtesy: WWE.com
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

On Sunday, WWE presented the No Way Out pay per view for the first time in three years. And the title was appropriate for the corner WWE had booked themselves into with the stipulation on the main event. With either John Cena or John Laurinitis set to be fired depending on the outcome of the match, my friend I was watching the show with made the observation WWE was damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Either John Cena loses and gets fired then the creative team has to find a way for the number one guy in the company to be back on the roster in time for either the next pay per view or the 1,000th RAW, or Big Show loses and John Laurinitis gets fired which would satisfy the fans who are sick of People Power, yet once again John Cena wins.

I had thought about doing this recap in a Good, Bad and Ugly format only calling it Centsible, Centsless and Abcent Minded cause I like a good play on words. However, the more I was thinking about it I the more I realized I had more to say concerning certain aspects of the show then I did about the actual matches. So here’s a quick recap of what happened followed by a stream of conscious thoughts.

Brodus Clay defeated David Otunga by Count Out on the preshow
Sheamus retained the World Title by pinning Dolph Ziggler
Santino humiliated Ricardo Rodriguez in the Tuxedo Match
Layla once again beat Beth Phoenix to keep the Diva’s title
The Intercontinental tile garnered some stability as Christian defeated Cody Rhodes
The Primetime Players became the #1 contenders to the Tag Team titles
Sin Cara defeated Hunico for the 1,004th time
Triple H challenged Brock Lesnar to a fight at SummerSlam
CM Punk overcame the odds to remain champion by pinning Kane in the 3-Way WWE title match
Ryback decimated two more unknown jobbers
John Cena escaped the cage first to beat Big Show and cause the termination of John Laurinitis

Ryback vs. "2 Local Athletes"
Photo courtesy: WWE.com
I’m paying for this? Once again there were three unannounced matches thrown onto the show. Two of the matches were matches we’ve seen numerous times before. Apparently Sin Cara can only work with Hunico. I know Sin Cara just returned from injury, but it’s time to move him on to other opponents. Or let Hunico win some of the matches so there’s at least a tiny bit of unpredictability to who will win. As much as I like Ryback, seeing him squash two no-names on a $45 show isn’t something I want to witness. Keep the unknowns on RAW and Smackdown. I had made the snarky comment to Kevin that Triple H’s promo would get more time then half the matches on the show. While I was surprised Haitch kept his talking relatively short and to the point, again why was this on a show people paid to see and a show that has less viewers than the weekly TV programs? While I’m not excited for it, I realize the majority of the WWE fan base will be interested in the HHH/Lesnar match. I think the announcement would have played better on RAW then on the pay per view. WWE needs to realize when fans are paying for the show; the show should be worth paying for.

Tag team action
Photo courtesy: WWE.com
WHO ARE THESE GUYS? I thought the tag team Four-Way was a really good match and the wrestlers put on a great display of their talents. However, when was the last time any of these guys were on RAW or Smackdown? This may seem insulting or come off in a holier than thou manner, but I honestly see WWE fans as sheep 98% of the time. WWE fans will cheer, boo, chant or tweet whatever WWE tells them. And unfortunately WWE has told the fans tag team wrestling doesn’t matter. So while The Primetime Players, The Usos, Primo/Epico and Tyson Kidd/Justin Gabriel may put on a good match and the fans may cheer for a big move, the majority of the match happens with fans sitting on their hands. Hopefully this match is the first step in rebuilding the tag team division. While the fans may not have cared last night, if tag teams are presented as a big deal, the fans will eventually come around to care about them.

AJ and Kane
Photo courtesy: WWE.com
WHAT DO AJ, RICARDO AND RYBACK’S OPPONENTS HAVE IN COMMON? All are essentially non-wrestlers yet are more over than half the roster. As I mentioned in the blog about grabbing the brass ring and to reiterate the last paragraph, when wrestlers are given ample air time and get to showcase a personality fans will take to them. When wrestlers are thrown out for a quick match and treated like nobodies (i.e. Hunico, Heath Slater) fans will go hit the bathroom or concession stands. Right now there is no solid mid-card in WWE. Something needs to be done to rectify that and soon. As much as people hate on Vince Russo (I’ve done my share) one area you have to give him credit is he had a purpose for almost every wrestler. Even if it was super lame, at least there was a reason to a wrestler’s existence.

Brodus Clay saves the day
Photo courtesy: WWE.com
THE MAIN EVENT Up until the cage match, I felt No Way Out was a solid yet unspectacular show. Other than the Tuxedo Match there wasn’t a bad match on the show. There just wasn’t anything that was must see either. You could skip this show and easily get caught up on RAW. Then the main event happened and I wished I’d stopped watching after the WWE Title match. Again, there was no good outcome given the stipulation. Also, off the top of my head, Big Show has never beaten John Cena on pay per view so why would I think this time would be any different? Having Brodus Clay, Kofi Kingston, Santino and Zack Ryder come down to try and keep Big Show from escaping the cage was a nice piece of continuity but Kofi, Santino and Zack were easily swatted away and seemed to disappear while Brodus Clay discovered Big Show is afraid of chairs the way Andre was afraid of snakes. Seriously, I’m supposed to believe Big Show couldn’t have escaped the cage because Clay was standing on the floor with a chair! Even if the Funkasaurus had hit Show, Show would have fallen downward to the floor. The most head scratching moment was the ending of the match. In TNA fashion, the referee got knocked out then Big Show slowly crawls out the door after Brodus went to grab Laurinitis. Cena climbs over the top of the cage to escape. As soon as Cena’s feet hit the ground, with the referee still knocked out, Cena’s music started playing. Who called for the winner? I was expecting both Cena and Show to get out, brawl around the cage and maybe show would throw Cena back into the cage right before the ref woke up. The Ref would then see Cena in the cage with Show outside and call the match for Show. The fans would be upset John Cena was fired and there would be drama as to what was going to happen next. Instead, the sound guy calls the match, McMahon fired Laurinitis and tonight on RAW we’ll probably get another GM who will quickly devolve into stereotypical biased GM.

Mr. McMahon is back
Photo courtesy: WWE.com
WRESTLING FANS BAFFLE ME I watched No Way Out at a restaurant with a group of wrestling fans I don’t know. During Ryback’s squash the fans in attendance started chanting “Same Old S&*t!” Then when Vince McMahon came out for the main event the fans started cheering. So three months of the same action get insulting chants while a 15-year stale character gets cheers. I don’t understand it.

CLOSING THOUGHTS Take away the main event and No Way Out was a solid 2 hours of good wrestling and a Tuxedo Match. Not worth $45 but worth the $10 I paid to see it. If you didn’t see it, unless you simply want to see some good wrestling, there’s no reason to go out of your way to see the show. The one major positive I can say is there was no Randy Orton, which automatically makes it one of, the better pay per views of the year.

Are you glad John Laurinitis is gone? Do you think WWE will simply slide someone else into the GM position? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Your Favorite Wrestling Fathers

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Last year I blogged about my favorite wrestling fathers/families on Father's Day.  This year, I decided to ask our friends on the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook Page who their favorites are.  Enjoy and feel free to weigh in on your favorite wrestling families too.

Los Guerreros
Chosen by Jeremy Kroot
The Rhodes'
Chosen by: Tom Kwiat
Paul Bearer
(Sarcastically) chosen by: Chad Smart
The Von Erichs
Chosen by: Ralph Effler
The Harts
Chosen by: Michael Hockenberry





The Curious Case of Austin Aries

Austin Aries, X Division Champ
Courtesy: Impact Wrestling
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

In early days of TNA, one thing that set them apart from WWE was the X-Division. Carrying on the tradition of WCW’s cruiser weight division, TNA allowed the wrestlers in the X-Division to go out and wow the crowd with their high flying, fast paced matches. There were times when TNA was doing weekly pay per views where X-Division matches would main event shows. Slowly as TNA became a bigger promotion and moved from weekly pay per view to an afternoon slot on Fox Sports and finally a prime time slot on Spike the X-Division took a backseat and would come across as an afterthought.

Currently in TNA, Austin Aries has revitalized the X-Division. Aries won the X-Division title in September 2011 and is the longest reigning X-Division champion in TNA history. Given there have been 53 champions in TNA’s 10-year history, with the belt changing hand on average 4-5 times a year, Aries’ reign is something to brag about. In fact, Aries is only roughly 50 days away from holding the X-Division title for the longest amount of days.

After Slammiversary last week a teaser video for TNA’s next pay per view, Destination X aired. The video focused on Austin Aries and he proclaimed himself to be main event. At first glance, I figured Austin would defend the X-Division title in the main event of the show as TNA has tried to make Destination X a pay per view to highlight the X-Division. It looks like TNA has other plans. To start this past week’s episode of Impact, Aries defended the title against Zema Ion and Chris Saban in an Ultimate X match. It seems even with Vince Russo gone; TNA writers and management don’t understand the purpose of gimmick matches. Had the three competitors been in a heated feud the match could have been necessary but I don’t know the last time Zema Ion was on Impact and I believe this was Chris Saban’s first match back from injury. Sad to note that during the match Saban tore his ACL and will be back on the shelf for some time.

Hogan lays down the lay
Photo courtesy: Impact Wrestling
Aries won the Ultimate X match then started to cut a promo about how good he is and how he’s the main event. I have to admit I only got bits of the promo as I was listening to From the Rafters Radio, which unfortunately airs at the same time as Impact. After Aries talked for a couple of minutes, Hulk Hogan made his way to the ring and congratulated Aries for being the champion. Hogan then offered Aries a match at Destination X against Robert Roode for the TNA World Title. However, there’s a catch. If Aries wants the World title shot, he has to vacate the X-Division title. Aries is supposed to give his answer this week on Impact. Now I know I mentioned a couple blogs ago how Kevin and I try to jump the gun and wait until we know all the facts before commenting on something so I’m going to try my best to look at this strictly from what’s been presented and not guess how it’s going to play out.

So lets breakdown the current situation as it stands. Austin Aries has made the X-Division title mean something. Much like Robert Roode’s current run as World Champion, stability coupled with quality matches establishes the titles as something other than props. If and when Aries loses the X-Division title it should be something memorable. Aries’ defeat could be used to elevate another wrestler into the upper echelon of talent or create a storyline where the loss of the title causes Aries to snap and go on a rampage of destruction until he regains the title. The longest running X-Division title reign shouldn’t end with the champ simply handing over the title.

One of Hulk Hogan’s reasoning for asking Aries to hand over the title was because he couldn’t have one wrestler holding two titles at the same time. Why not? I’m guessing the Hulkster doesn’t pay attention to the Knockouts Division. If he did he would have known Gail Kim held both the Knockout Title and Knockout Tag Titles at the same time just a few months ago. In addition, AJ Styles was both X-Division and Tag Team Champion at the same time in TNA’s early days. In 2007, Kurt Angle held all the titles at the same time after he defeated Samoa Joe to win Joe’s X-Division and Tag Team Title. So there is certainly a precedent for TNA wrestlers to hold more than one title.

Aries, Bully Ray, & Bobby Roode
Photo courtesy: Impact Wrestling
My other hesitation for this proposed match with Robert Roode is if it goes through Aries will become a sort of sacrificial lamb. Right now the big money match for the TNA Title is Robert Roode vs. James Storm. That is the match that should be built up for the next four months in the lead up to Bound For Glory. If Roode holds the title until then, he will have been champion for almost a year. So if Aries gets a title shot, while the match could be exceptional, I don’t feel there’s any chance of Aries winning the title. With no realistic shot of winning, unless TNA hot shot’s the title to Aries then back to Roode in a month or two, stripping Aries of the X-Division title is pointless. Instead Hogan should have gone back to his match with Ultimate Warrior and claim if Aries wins the World Title then Aries would be forced to vacate the X-Division title in the way Warrior vacated the Intercontinental title after winning the World title from Hogan.

I hope TNA has something planned for Impact other than Aries handing over the title or being beaten for the title in an impromptu match. I will reserve my final judgment until I see how the story unfolds. Right now though, based on history I’m anticipating being let down. I guess with low expectations there’s no way to be disappointed.

What do you think? Should Austin Aries vacate the X-Division title or should he keep the title and continue to be the cornerstone of the X-Division? Share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gone, But Not Forgotten: Sherri Martel

Sherri Martel as WWF Women's Champ
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Five years ago today I was on vacation in Mexico.  This was long before my smart phone, but because I knew our resort had Internet hookup, I packed our laptop to stay current on things in the news and of course wrestling.  I wasn't on Facebook or Twitter at the time, so I relied on regular ol' websites for information.

On the afternoon of June 15th, I logged in to WWE.com and read a headline that caught me off guard.  Legendary diva Sensational Sherri had died.  She was only 49 years old.

I remember very well watching Sherri Martel in the AWA.  It was the mid 80's and not only did she wrestle, she served as a valet for the tag team champions, "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers and "Playboy" Paul Rose.  This was the mid 80's, around the same time that Wendi Ritcher was lighting things up in the world of women's wrestling in the WWF.  The two never crossed paths and I think that's unfortunate.

Sherri did get to wrestle an aging Fabulous Moolah and beat her for the WWF Women's title when she arrived on the scene in 1987.  By then though women's wrestling was treated even worse than it is today, despite the fact that there were plenty of talented ladies.  Sherri dropped the women's title to Rockin' Robin in 1988 and I think that's pretty much the last we saw of the belt for a number of years.  Sherri stayed active in the WWF, most notably pairing up with the "Macho Man" Randy Savage when he and Elizabeth "broke up."

The King, the Queen, and Zeus
Photo courtesy: WWE
Sherri of course was the exact opposite of Liz.  As an active wrestler, she wasn't afraid to mix it up with the guys.  I can remember her getting involved in matches Savage had against Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Hulk Hogan, and The Ultimate Warrior.  I know on more than one occasion Hogan atomic dropped the Sensational Queen.  She wrestled a few times in that period but it was against Sweet Sapphire and no offense to her, she wasn't much competition.  In fact, I think she no showed the one singles match they were to have at SummerSlam 90, only meeting in that mixed tag match with Savage and Dusty Rhodes as their respective partners.

At Wrestlemania 7, Sherri and Savage split as the Macho Man and Liz reunited.  It didn't take long for the Sensational one to find a new mate though.  The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase hired her to replace Virgil.  The two made a good couple, but I liked her pairing with Savage the most I think, even though she got really outrageous with her makeup.  The partnership with DiBiase lasted for about a year, until a newly turned heel Shawn Michaels needed a valet.  Shawn became Sherri's "boy toy" even singing his theme song (which he still uses when he comes back to the ring)

Like all good relationships, the union with Shawn came to an end too after Sherri got hit in the head with one of the Heartbreak Kid's mirrors.  I think she briefly worked with Shawn's opponents, including Marty Jannetty and Tatanka.  She backed him at Wrestlemania 9 and brawled with Shawn's second Luna Vachon.  I know somewhere in her stint in the WWF she also played "Peggy Sue", the Honky Tonk Man's girlfriend, but she wore a wig and sunglasses so it was hard to tell it was her.

"Sister" Sherri & Harlem Heat
Photo courtesy: WWE
Eventually she left the WWF and briefly worked in ECW before heading south to WCW.  Instead of "Sensational" Sherri was "Sensuous" and aided Ric Flair in his feuds with Hogan and Sting.  Flair "retired" and Sherri moved on to Harlem Heat, even picking up the new name "Sister Sherri"  She played the part well, even dressing like Booker T and Stevie Ray.

In 2006 I was lucky enough to see Sherri get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.  At that point, she was only the second woman to receive the honor (Moolah was the first) Unfortunately though, there were some annoying fans in the crowd who continuously did cat calls and shouted while she tried to give her induction speech.  Since then, the WWE has cracked down on fans being obnoxious during the event.  She was so excited that night and seemed so full of life.  It's hard to believe that just over a year later she would be found dead.  I don't want to dwell on how she died, but instead would rather remember how she lived and made a difference in so many lives.

Hall of Fame Happiness
Photo courtesy: WWE
No doubt Sherri Martel influenced a generation of women wrestlers.  I think it's unfortunate she was in the WWF at a time when women's wrestling just didn't seem to matter.  But when she was in that ring, she always put on a great show.  Rest in Peace Sherri.  You are missed.

We're All a Little Like Archie

Veronica & Archie
Courtesy: Chikara Pro
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter


I know I'm a bit late with this post, but earlier this month the #SummerofLove kicked off between Veronica Ticklefeather and "Mr. Touchdown" Mark Angelosetti at the Chikarasaurus Rex: How to Hatch a Dinosaur iPayPerView.  I'm not the Chikara expert here, but allow me to explain as best I can. 

Basically, flag girl Veronica arrived on the scene in Chikara with "Marchie Archie"Archibald Peck the drum major last year.  The two appeared to be a match made in heaven.  The band geek finally got his girl.  Or so we thought.  You see, as a geek, I can identify with Archie even though he was a rudo (heel) at the time.  He went on a losing streak and eventually that lead to tension between he and Veronica.  (You can hear more of her thoughts on From the Rafters Radio in the archive section, it's episode 10)  Factor in the new kid on the block and member of the Throwbacks, Mr. Touchdown.

Mr. Touchdown & me
Angelosetti personifies that football jock we all loved to hate in high school.  By we, I mean my fellow geeks.  I wasn't in the band, but instead ran cross country.  You see how dorky I am today, just imagine how I was back then...  Anyway, Touchdown took a liking to the flag girl, and of course Veronica seemed to fall for him too.  She was giddy around him, coming out during his matches to cheer for him.

Like most of us who have loved and lost, Archie made some serious changes.  In fact, he dropped the band major gimmick and became a badass.  Well as much of a bad ass as he could.  No more silly drum major hat and matching costume.  Instead Marchie Archie became MMA: Mixed Marital Archie.  He wore gloves and a mouth guard and other fighting gear.  He threw fists of furry when he stepped in the ring.  His heart was ripped out and he didn't care who he hurt in the process.  Again, I think it's a place many of us have been in our lives, only Archie had a chance to channel his aggression.  

Me & Archie: Geeks unite!
So after months of build on June 2, Veronica promised to make a choice.  Who would she chose?  Her high school sweet, Archie or the charming Mr. Touchdown?  The loser (of the tag team match featuring Dasher Hatfield & Mr. Touchdown against Archie and Colt Cabana) would not only watch Veronica walk off in the sunset with the opponent, but they'd have to leave Philadelphia as well.  Despite a heartfelt blog about her grandparents meeting and falling in love, Veronica pulled a fast one on many people.  Touchdown used his football helmet to knockout everyone's now favorite band geek/MMA fighter.  Hatfield, not knowing the dirty play happened, pinned Peck and scored the win.  Then Veronica further damaged an already broken Archie by making out with Mr. Touchdown after the win.

Now on Twitter Veronica has proclaimed it the #SummerofLove.  I feel bad for Archie as he not only lost in love, but is now banned from wrestling in Chikara's hometown of Philly.  I like the way this storyline has progressed and even though the geek lost this time, I have a feeling this isn't the last of this feud.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Step Right Up and Claim the Brass Ring


Dolph Ziggler pins Christian
Photo courtesy: WWE.com

@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

About a week or two ago, Paul Heyman took to Twitter and unleashed a flurry of tweets basically telling wrestlers who had not yet made main event status to stop waiting for their moment and create it themselves. This sounds like good advice and maybe in a normal work environment it would be helpful to be the squeaky wheel, but would it really work in the wrestling business? I’m not an expert on the wrestling business and the only time I’ve been backstage at a wrestling show was when I had to take Kevin a referee shirt at an AAPW show. So what I’m about to write is how a fan, or a smark, perceives the elevation of talent inside a WWE ring.

As of June 13, 2012, Chris Jericho still has nine days to go on his 30-day suspension. Randy Orton won’t return from his suspension for at least another 40 days. Alberto Del Rio, who was slated to challenge for the World Title at No Way Out on Sunday is out with a concussion. Rey Mysterio is on the sidelines due to injury/suspension. With four guys currently off the roster and a roster that is firmly split between current/former champions and enhancement talents, now is the prime time for guys to step up and show they belong in the spotlight. There’s very little doubt a number of guys have the talent to be major players.  The major question is how do those guys get the chance to shine?

Over the last 20 years, wrestling has been redefined as Sports-Entertainment and unfortunately a lot of the time the top guys lean more heavily to the entertainment side than the sports side. Hulk Hogan’s technical prowess paled in comparison to Ric Flair.  Steve Austin became popular after trading in mat wrestling for a couple of middle fingers. The Rock was John Cena with sexual innuendos instead of poop jokes. The key issue to point out is all the top guys got time on the microphone to get their personalities over.

The Kliq says good-bye
One of the most popular “what if” questions is what would have happened if the Kliq didn’t do the MSG Curtain Call when Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were on their way to WCW. If that moment hadn’t happened, Triple H wouldn’t have been punished and would have won King of the Ring 1996 instead of Steve Austin. If Austin doesn’t win King of the Ring, more than likely the phrase “Austin 3:16” never would have been uttered and the Attitude Era very well never would have happened. Or it would have happened without the biggest star of that time as the focal point.

Jump ahead to today and look at the average episode of RAW. Who is getting extended promo time on a weekly basis? The usual suspects are John Laurinitis (a non-wrestler), John Cena (the focal point of the last 9 years), Big Show (Cena’s current feud), CM Punk (the current WWE Champion), Sheamus (current World Champion) and guys the audience has never seen before (Ryback’s weekly victims). While other guys may get some backstage promos, those segments are usually short and according to several reports, highly scripted. Superstars aren’t getting the chance to show their true personality.

Piper's Pit
This is something that I’ve never understood. Looking at the history of wrestling and some of the great talkers like Hogan, Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper, Stone Cold, The Rock, Jake Roberts, all of them were allowed to showcase their personality and that’s part of the reason fans cheered for them. Now promos are scripted and instead of showing off personalities wrestlers are trying to remember word for word what they’re supposed to say. Why not give guys bullet points and let them connect the dots?  If wrestlers were given the opportunity to be more natural and connect with the audience, maybe the audience would care more about the wrestlers.

Though given the chance to talk may help some stars emerge, the bigger problem is how guys are presented to the audience.  I was looking at the WWE roster on wwe.com this morning and noticed with the exception of Sin Cara, Ryback, Tensai and Antonio Cesaro everyone one the roster falls into two categories:  current/former champions or jobbers. Technically I guess you could say guys like Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Santino, Miz, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger would be the centerpiece of a VIN diagram.   If your name isn’t John Cena or Randy Orton though, once you don’t have a belt around your waist, you’re not going to be presented as a major star unless you happen to be feuding with Cena or Orton.
CM Punk has been WWE Champion since November of 2011. The last time he was in the main event of a Pay Per View was December 2011. Including No Way Out, there have been six PPVs this year. John Cena has been in the main event of every PPV despite not being champion nor challenging for the title. (except the Royal Rumble) When it comes to RAW, CM Punk is usually relegated to the top of the second hour slot while Cena’s angle get the main event slot. Even it there’s no match-taking place.  What I’m trying to get at is WWE is training its audience to view Cena as the only true star.

Big Show vs. Kofi Kingston
Photo courtesy: WWE.com
The next factor, and probably the biggest, is the fact wrestling matches have predetermined finishes and the people in charge select whom they see as being stars.  For example take the cage match between the Big Show and Kofi Kingston from the June 11th Raw. Kofi is an athletic guy. He could probably go in the ring and run circles around Big Show using a hit and retreat style to have a somewhat competitive match. In the process Kofi could show the audience it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but rather the size of the fight in the dog. Instead, Kofi was sent into the match and tossed around like a rag doll. One half of the Tag-Team Champions (you know, the guys who are supposed to be the best) was put into a position guys like “Iron” Mike Sharpe or Rusty Brooks would have been in twenty years ago. Dolph Ziggler is another guy who could arguably be a breakout star but for whatever reason is used primarily to make other wrestlers look good.

Getting back to the predetermined factor, how is a wrestler supposed to get himself over when he’s being told what to do and when that plan makes the wrestler look less than impressive? Then you have a guy like Zack Ryder who found a way to get his personality to the masses and got himself over at a time he was barely on TV. What happened to him? He got a brief run with the United States title that few probably remember and then was annihilated by Kane on a weekly basis and betrayed by the object of his affection without ever getting redemption on either person. Zack was made to look like a fool and just as quickly as the crowd got behind him they moved on because they realized their cheers were pointless. No matter how many signs they made, headbands they bought, or how many times they shouted Woo, Zack was never going to be presented as anything other than an over tanned goofball.

So how does a wrestler take control of his destiny? I don’t have any answers. As I stated at the beginning, I don’t know what happens backstage in a wrestling company. Is it as simple (or simple sounding) as constantly pitching ideas to the writers or management? Will they listen to the wrestlers or will they get tired of being harassed and either not use the wrestler or use them in a way guaranteed to make the wrestler look bad? 

Vader Time
Photo courtesy: WWE.com
Right now RAW is counting down to the 1000th episode. It’s rumored, and was evident on this week’s show, WWE is looking to bring in some past stars to celebrate the occasion. This week we got the return of Vader in a match where he defeated Heath Slater. I enjoy nostalgia and am curious to see who shows up in the next few weeks. However when a 57 year old with bad knees beats a twenty-something wrestler who could be a potential star, what message is being sent to the fans?

Cena vs. Rock 2???
Photo courtesy: WWE.com
However the way, something needs to be done and done quickly. I have heard from a few reliable sources that the penciled in main event for Wrestlemania 29 is a rematch between Rock and John Cena because Vince McMahon doesn’t think any other match will sell out.  First off, I hate seeing rematches at Wrestlemania so I hate this idea. Second, this year’s match was billed as “Once in a Lifetime” and therefore I have my lawyer working on a class action lawsuit for false advertisement should the match happen two years in a row. Third, and most disturbing, we still have ten months until Wrestlemania and Vince is thinking no one on his roster can be trusted to headline the biggest show of the year. Instead of looking to the past maybe Vince should try and create a new star. The only way that’s going to happen is if he admits the standard procedure hasn’t worked in ten years and WWE needs to toss out the playbook and do something new. That’s how the Attitude Era happened. Staying the course is the easy path but it won’t lead to different results.

I wish I had some great words to finish this blog. Some great idea that would revitalize wrestling and lead to the next breakout superstar. Even if I did, I’m sure it would fall on deaf ears. As a fan, I’ll continue to watch every week and marvel at how underused some guys are while at the same time being treated to the same main events I’ve been watching for the past five years. Then I’ll get on the computer and punch out another thousand words about how disappointed I am in the major wrestling promotions. The sun will rise. The sun will set. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

Do you have any suggestions on how WWE (or any wrestling company for that matter) can create new stars? I’m curious to hear your feedback. Share your thoughts on our Facebook page. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Slammiversary X & Roddy Piper

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

I didn’t get a chance to see TNA’s Slammiversary show on Sunday. Instead, I opted to go to a screening of the John Carpenter “classic” They Live that was followed by a Q&A with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. I did read reports and reactions to Slammiversary after I got home.

From all reports it appears TNA hit a grand slam with the show. I am curious to see the show, as it doesn’t sound like there was really a bad match on the entire card. My one issue would be the ending to Crimson’s undefeated streak. While I think the streak needed to end as TNA hasn’t shown any intention to push Crimson into challenging for any title so there really is no point to Crimson being undefeated. However, I don’t know if losing in just under three minutes to a returning James Storm was the proper way to go. Given we’re talking about TNA, I will admit this is one of the few items where even if I don’t agree with it, it’s not a major complaint.

Now, I do have to address the Hall of Fame announcement and the use of Christian (Cage) on the show. While I think Sting is a worthy inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame, I still feel this is being done as a way to beat WWE to the punch. TNA doesn’t need a Hall of Fame. Since Sting has been in TNA for the better part of the last nine years it does make since for him to be in a TNA Hall of Fame than the WWE Hall of Fame. I personally simply don’t see the need for TNA to go there this soon.

Now onto Christian, After Dixie Carter tweeted Christian would be at the show, myself and the rest of the Internet Wrestling Community lashed out with several different scenarios of what Christian would do on the show. Would he be the Hall of Fame inductee? Would he answer’s Crimson’s open challenge? Would he attack Sting backstage and take his spot in the main event and win the title? From the reports I read it seems all he did was come out and verbally put over TNA. One of the one hand, there was nothing wrong with the segment and getting a WWE talent (and current champion no less) to come on your show and say fans should be watching TNA is a positive. On the other hand, what purpose did Christian serve? He was telling fans that bought tickets to a TNA show, or who were watching at home, they should be watching TNA. It’s not like he went on Raw and said to watch Impact. So I still don’t think this was any type of major coup by TNA in return for letting Ric Flair appear at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.

Now it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t take to task myself and everyone else who jumped on the bandwagon of criticizing TNA before we knew what Christian was going to do on the show. Sometimes we have a tendency to make judgments and go off the deep end when we think we know what wrestling companies are doing when really we don’t have a clue. Instead of simply being fans and waiting to see what happens next we jump on our keyboards or youtube channels and bitch and moan about how companies are doing the wrong thing. As the Wrestling Roommate pointed out on multiple episodes of From the Rafter’s Radio (Thursdays 7pm CST), “everyone can book shows better than the people actually doing the booking.” The appearance of Christian was another example where we should either get all the facts or wait until the show happens before rushing to judgment. Kevin and I have tried from Day 1 of my123cents to not rush to judgment on angles or events. That’s why we try to stay away from behind the scenes rumors or “breaking news” unless the news can be verified through several sources. So loyal readers, I’m going to make another pledge that if I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m not going to talk.

That’s my thoughts on Slammiversary. Now switching gears to Roddy Piper.

Sunday afternoon, the New Beverly Cinema had a screening of They Live followed by an appearance by the Rowdy one. Unlike a lot of other people in my demographic, I’ve never been a big fan of the movie. I thought maybe seeing it in a sold out show with an appreciative audience I might have a different opinion of the movie. I don’t. I still don’t see myself ever sitting down to watch this when I’m looking for something to watch. However, the Q&A with Piper was awesome. He talked about how he got the role and the fight scene between Keith David and himself, which he claims is the longest fight scene in film. He also made a throwaway comment about doing what he’s told and one time Vince McMahon asked him to paint himself half black. I got video of most of the Q&A and will hopefully have it up on the YouTube page. If you’re interested in it make sure you’re subscribed to either the YouTube page or the my123cents Facebook page. Unfortunately I wasn’t recording when Piper talked about Randy Savage quoting a line from the movie (not the famous kick ass and chew gum line). Piper did a “Macho Man” impersonation then said, “I was lying on the floor of the locker room and Savage was naked shaving his ass with a Norelco.” Oh and he briefly talked about Legends House and mentioned his roommate was “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. Then he introduced Duggan who was in the audience.

After the Q&A, Piper hung around and signed autographs and took photos with fans. I have to say he was probably one of the top 3 coolest people I’ve seen at Q&A with the way he was interacting with everyone. He took time to engage in brief conversations and seemed genuinely thrilled people were there to see him. Had I not been a Roddy Piper fan before this, I definitely would have been a fan after leaving. In the end, I’m glad I chose meeting the only wrestler who could make me cheer Hulk Hogan over Slammiversary. A once in a lifetime experience vs. a show I can catch on DVD.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Wrestling Widow

The Big Day
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

My wife Lisa and I recently celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary, and while she is a much more private person than I am, I did feel the need to publicly thank her for all her support of my obsession with wrestling. We started dating more than 20 years ago, and at that point I was a die hard wrestling fan, but I somehow was able to mask it enough to not scare her away. You see, my wife dislikes wrestling, a lot. I would say she hates it, but I don't really think she does, but she's not a fan of it either.

Despite disliking wrestling, Lisa has attended three WWE shows with me. Back when were in college I was hard pressed to find any fellow fans, so she (likely as a form of pity) went to the shows with me. The first was a WWF house show that featured Razor Ramon and "Macho Man" Randy Savage in the main event. Our next show came nearly 3 years later and I talked her in to going to a show in our hometown of St. Louis. I thought it was just another house show, but it turns out it was a Raw/Superstars/Coliseum Home Video taping. The main event that night was Diesel vs. Yokozuna in a cage. Sid had no showed the event. I remember once I figured out this was a taping I didn't have the heart to tell her it was going to be a long night. At one point she asked when it was going to be over. Bless her for not leaving me there that night. Our final show together came in 1996, another house show that featured Goldust and Sid in the main event. She was bored out of her mind, but she went with me because it was important to me.

The Heenan Family
Through the years she put up with me watching Raw and Nitro, Thunder and SmackDown! She even gave me her blessing (and money) to go to Wrestlemania 22. After that trip, I figured I'd never experience Wrestlemania again, but she encouraged me to make it an annual "Bromance" with Chad. She understands how much fun it is for me and how those three days help recharge my batteries.  While she's not exactly stoked about the costumes, she still understands and only ridicules us for a short period of time.

In addition to supporting the Wrestlemania trips, she's also supported my decision to create this blog and YouTube channel. It's gone from a hobby to almost a fulltime job, coming up with different things to discuss on a nearly daily basis. Last year I got involved with AAPW, which literally takes me away for an entire day with the set up, show, and tear down. She's never once complained about it or my involvement now with From the Rafters Radio. Each Thursday night the cohosts all come over and we have dinner before heading to the studio.

AAPW Main Event
She and my kids were all in attendance for my match in January against Mike Masters. Lisa was sure I'd get whipped, but when I prevailed I looked in the crowd and saw her smiling face and knew she was truly happy. Despite not being a fan, I know that night she was, and not just during my match, as she commented on some of the other competitors that night.

One final story, on our wedding day, I didn't ask for much. But I did insist the band play 2001: A Space Odyssey when we entered the reception. Once we made it through the double doors, I let out a big Woooo! that would have made Ric Flair himself proud. And underneath my tuxedo shirt I was wearing my vintage Iron Sheik and Nikola Volkoff tshirt. I have owned the shirt since 1987 and actually still have it. I truly am a wrestling geek.

So Lisa, if you actually read all this, I love you and thank you for all your support in my wrestling endeavors.  And I'm sorry that now two out of our three children are following in my footsteps, including our little girl.