Wednesday, May 28, 2014

MTV Didn't Want This Video...

Lean on Me
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

It's hard for me to believe that 20 years have passed since I took my first class in video production at Southeast Missouri State University.  I had switched majors from radio to corporate video, which included learning how to use a camera and edit video. It was 1994 and we were using three-quarter inch equipment.  So you had a camera that connected to what was essentially a VCR, that's where the tape went.  These two components ran off of a "battery belt" that the photographer strapped around their waist.  It was quite the set up.

The first project in my first (and what ended up being only) video class was shooting and editing a music video.  I checked out the equipment one afternoon and went to my residence hall with a plan of recreating Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler."  Several of my floor mates gathered as I got various shots of them playing cards.  I didn't like how it turned out, so I went back to the drawing board.
The breakup

I came up with a plan to do Michael Bolton's version of "Lean on Me."  Yes, I am a Michael Bolton fan, judge me if you must.  I enlisted the help of some of my Sigma Nu fraternity brothers and a sister from Alpha Xi Delta to recreate a breakup and then the bonding of two buddies.  I learned a very valuable lesson with this shoot.  The song is about four minutes long.  That day, I thought if I recorded four or five minutes of video, I'd be just fine.  Anyone who has ever edited anything before knows that's WRONG!

I remember sitting in that dark editing bay for the two hours that I could reserve it for.  The glow of the monitors and the buttons on the board providing the only light.  I sat and cursed and cried as I got more and more frustrated with trying to figure out how to put the music track down and then cover it with the video I had shot. Once I finally figured it out and had to repeat several shots throughout the video, I sat in horror when it was time to share our projects with the class.  My professor didn't judge too harshly and I actually got a B on this, but there's no way I deserved such a high mark.

Ridin' away 

This was the most frustrating and stressful thing I did in college. I eventually changed the focus of my major and dropped the next video production class because back then it didn't sink in for me. Never did I imagine that I'd eventually be doing this nearly every day of my professional life.

So without further ado, enjoy the magic of my first masterpiece some 20 years after its original release.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Introducing Pro Wrestling Elite

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Three years ago if you would have asked me to name five independent wrestlers, I think I would have struggled. Now, after working with two different indy wrestling promotions, I’m proud to say, not only can I name hundreds of independent wrestlers, I can call many of them my friend as well. 

If you’re a fan of indy wrestling, you know that many of the same guys and gals wrestle for multiple companies.  While I haven’t had a chance to see them in person, one group I’m learning more about is Pro Wrestling Elite.  The company is based west Tennessee and features some outstanding talent, both rising stars and established legends.  I’ve worked with many of the guys in the locker room, including the very gifted Brandon Espinosa, the wildly popular Farmer Billy Hills, the brutally aggressive Bull Bronson, and the cunningly clever “Golden Boy” Greg Anthony.

Brandon "Espy" Espinosa 
Each man shines when he's in the ring, and you can believe they bring 110% when they come out to wrestle.  Most of my experience with Espinosa has been calling his tag matches.  He teams frequently with Ace Hawkins, and the pair has been very successful in the Midwest.  Their match against Team Overkill (Matt Cage and Christian Rose) was my favorite match to call.  They battled in a ladder match that I think rivals anything you’d see on the big stage.

Don't go messin' with this country boy
Farmer Billy Hills
Farmer Billy Hills has a special place in my heart.  I’ve visited his family (two legged and four legged) in Mudlick, Kentucky.  He works just as hard outside the ring as he does inside it.  Farmer does some amazing things between the ropes (and outside them) when you consider how big he is.  I’ve seen him fly through the ropes and take out opponents on the arena floor.  His attitude in the locker room is inspiring, and he never stops learning. 

He's a bull in a China shop
Bull Bronson
Bull Bronson is one of the most intimidating and quite honestly brutal wrestlers I’ve ever worked with.  His aggression in the ring has resulted in a lot of pain for his opponents.  I’ve seen Bull take out guys in handicap matches, knock down defenseless announcers, and throw guys through tables like it’s just another day at the office.  He’s a force to be reckoned with, and I suspect we’ve only seen a sampling of the pain and destruction Bull Bronson can deliver.  Simply put, he doesn’t care who gets hurt along the way, and will do what it takes to make it to the top of the mountain.  Honestly, I find his aggression and brutality refreshing.

Good as gold, and he knows it...
"Golden Boy" Greg Anthony 
Greg Anthony truly is golden.  He’s an old school wrestler who talks a big game, but unlike many wrestlers today, can back it up in the ring.  Golden Boy is one of my favorite indy guys on the mic today.  He tells fans that he is good as gold, and then climbs into that ring and backs it up.  I had the pleasure over Wrestlemania weekend to see Golden Boy wrestle and do some work on the mic.  He went toe to toe with the legendary Rock ‘N Roll Express, rivals that he and partners like Jason Rage and Matt Riviera have beaten for the PWE tag team titles before.

I’m looking forward to creating a relationship with PWE.  If you’re looking for some great indy action, I would suggest giving these talented wrestlers a look.  Here’s a link to the website, let me know who some of your favorites are on the roster.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day: Grin & Bear It

The perfect gift 
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I don't remember exactly how old I was, but I couldn't have been more than seven or eight, when my dad took us Mother's Day shopping.  I had saved my allowance and wanted to get my mom something really special that year.  After rejecting the usual slippers, perfume, and flowers, I found what I thought was the perfect gift... a pair of earrings.

But these were no ordinary earrings.  They were teddy bears.  And not just teddy bears, but fuzzy teddy bears.  I knew my mom would just love them.  I eagerly waited as she unwrapped the floral paper and opened the small white box containing my gift.

I don't know how she did it, but my mom acted as if it was the greatest gift she'd ever received.  She made a big fuss over them and how much she loved them.  She even took out the earrings she was wearing and put them in as we prepared to go to my grandma's house to celebrate the day.  I felt proud with my decision.

Fast forward more than 10 years to my college days.  Because it was finals week and I was two hours away at school, driving home for the weekend wasn't an option.  So my parents met me at a park halfway for a picnic lunch.  When I pulled up, my mom was sitting at the picnic table with those little brown bears dangling from her ears.  We laughed and recalled the day she got them.  It made me feel good that she kept those gaudy earrings all those years.

Now, more than 20 years after that, only one earring has survived. I took a pic of it for this blog, as mom knew exactly where the remaining one was.  She doesn't know where the other got misplaced, but I'm impressed that she still has one, 30 plus years later.  

While I don't have a cheesy gift for her this year, I hope sharing this story puts a smile on her face and yours.  Happy Mother's Day mom, and to all the other mothers out there.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Global Force Wrestling: Our Roster

By Kevin Hunsperger (with Chad Smart & Chris Hagstrom)
@kevinhunsperger, @chadsmart, & @chrishagstrom on Twitter

Some of the old gang over at Rafters Radio reunited online for a quick discussion about the newly formed Global Force Wrestling.  Jeff and Karen Jarrett are behind the effort.  You can read all the details right here.  The company recently announced on social media that they want fans to do a Fantasy Draft, picking four men and one woman to join the force.  The other rule, they must all be independent wrestlers.

I'll admit I still have a pretty limited area of experience in the world of independent wrestling, and when I put together my original list, I shared picks with Chris Hagstrom and Chad Smart.  But in an effort to have some variety, I expanded my horizons and updated my picks.  These are all great stars on the Indy scene, and because the rules state five, it was tough narrowing it down.  I based some of my picks on the men and women I've worked with over the last few of years in All American Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Collision.  Others, I have watched and enjoyed as a fan.  So here we go.

Matt Cross
Kevin's Picks:

Matt Cross: I first met "M-Dogg 20" at AAPW Main Event in January 2012, but had seen his work on the previous season of WWE's Tough Enough.  Cross was cut from the show early on, but I think there was a disconnect with the judges and host "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.  I'd put him in GFW because I believe many fans know who he is.  He's got a great attitude (at least what I observed on the two occasions we worked with him) and he can do some pretty amazing things in the ring.  Even though he's been growing out the beard for a long time, I'd probably have him shave it as to not look like he's competing with Daniel Bryan and Eric Young.

Photo courtesy: Jason Wilkey
Pokerface:  During the first season of AAPW Collision, Pokerface was one of my favorite guys on the roster.  He was pretty quiet backstage and I didn't get a chance to talk much with him, but he was a hard worker and a professional every time he was at a show.  I remember at a non-TV taping event I did an interview segment in the ring with him where he threatened to beat me up.  Due to some unfortunate events, Poker wasn't able to stick around with us, but I think his future was pretty bright within the company.  He is doing great things in Tennessee right now and by the way, he beat M-Dogg 20 at that Main Event show.

Golden Boy in action
Photo courtesy: Jason Wilkey 
"Golden Boy" Greg Anthony:  Like Pokerface, Golden Boy eats, sleeps, and breaths wrestling.  He doesn't look like your typical Superstar, but his promos and his work in the ring are outstanding.  I always enjoyed talking with him at AAPW shows and pick his brain about the business.  Anthony has an old school mentality, which I respect and think still has a place in modern day wrestling.

Jervis Cottonbelly
Photo courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
Jervis Cottonbelly: I've only seen Jervis wrestle in person one time, and that was at a Wrestling is Intense show.  In fact, it was the last show the company had.  Jervis is a unique character who I think not only wrestles very well, but also has that marketing appeal to children that is valuable in the business.  I see a line of "Gentle" Jervis Cottonbelly merchandise ranging from masks, to toy moncels and fake mustaches.  I once did an interview with him through Google Plus and he's always got a great attitude.

The Great Cheyenne
Courtesy: Jason Wilkey
The Great Cheyenne: While working with AAPW, The Great Cheyenne came in and did several shows with us.  Fans wanted more ladies wrestling, and Cheyenne was able to deliver.  She could easily be booked as a monster heel and run over both the women and men on the roster.  I loved calling her matches and her blood curdling scream still rings in my ears from time to time.

And folks at GFW, if you're looking for a commentator who is willing to get in the ring and take a beating, call me...

Chris's Picks: 

DISCLAIMER: There are so many great wrestlers out there today that are under utilized and it is difficult to pick only four guys and one girl. I would like to add more to the list but I am staying within the parameters of the Draft. This list is also not meant to hurt anyone's feelings that I have worked with in the past. And finally… keep in mind that my picks do not include anyone associated with WWE, TNA, or ROH. 

Heath Hatton
Photo courtesy: Sarah Gardner
Heath Hatton:  The obvious first pick for me. Hatton has not been wrestling as long as some people may think, but he has a great look, skill in the ring (not to mention the best dropkick in the Midwest), and is on the radar of the three organizations mentioned above. If GFW is looking for a star, they will find it in Hatton. The biggest drawback for Hatton is his limited travel area. They say to make it, you have to travel the world and hone your skills. Hatton has the ability and a wealth of knowledge from legends and Hall of Famers, now he needs the chance to showcase it in front of new audiences.

Team Overkill
Photo courtesy: Jason Wilkey
Team Overkill:  Ok I'm stretching the rules with this choice but at least its ONE tag team. Matt Cage and Christian Rose are accomplished singles competitors, (Cage racking up gold in many midwest promotions and Rose with victories over majors guest stars brought in to Dreamwave Pro Wrestling), but in my eyes, they are without a doubt THE top tag team in the Midwest. They can have a great match with anyone and an amazing match with the best. The emotion they display can rile a crowd into a frenzy in 0.5 seconds. Both also do extensive tape study from past matches. These gentlemen truly eat, sleep, and breath Pro Wrestling. Not to mention extremely entertaining on twitter @BitterLunatic and @proudcaucasian.

Mr. Touchdown
Photo courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
Mr. Touchdown Mark Angelosetti:  Anyone who knows me well will giggle (And it's good…) but Mr. Touchdown has the complete package. Athletic, the look, charisma, an over the top character, and can back it up in the ring. A product of Mike Quackenbush's Wrestle Factory, Angelosetti has trained with the best and had matches all over North America. His athleticism allows him to wrestle any kind of match (technical, high flying, power, etc) and it's easy to "hate the jock." With the Rise of Chikara, we may see more of Angelosetti soon… At least one would hop

Danny Cannon
Dynamite Danny Cannon:  The one person I wanted to work with in AAPW and never got the chance to was Danny Cannon (or DC Dynamite if you watch AAW). He is the most acrobatic wrestler I have ever seen and done things even Adrian Neville would say… Wow. He is innovative,  explosive, and reminds me of a pit bull at times. Small in stature but powerful and fast. He had disappeared from the indies for a while but recently has resurfaced and am extremely happy for that. YouTube some of his work in IWAU and AAW to see what I mean. 

Angelus Layne
Angelus Penny Layne: I may not follow women's wrestling as much as I should. And this was a very tough category to pick as The Great Cheyenne, Stacey O'Brien, and MsChif are all at the top of the women's ranks and MsChif may very well be the best on the indies today. But my vote goes to Layne as I have seen a lot of her work and know what a fierce competitor she is. She is not afraid to take calculated risks in the ring and with her hair. Anyone who has followed her career knows that she went from a bubbly young upstart, to the disturbed and calculated competitor we see today. She will have continued success in Shimmer and hope to see her in more matches soon.

Honorable mentions:

Colt Cabana as a commentator (because comedy)
Archibald Peck, Mixed Martial Archie, The Mysterious and Handsome Stranger, R.D. Evans and the rest of the Faces of Evans
Adam Pearce

Chad's Picks:

Mr. Touchdown
Chris Hero
Uhaa Nation
Chuck Taylor
Candace LaRae

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Connor the Crusher

Connor & Daniel Bryan after Wrestlemania XXX
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Most wrestling fans already know the story, but it's trending all over social media now, even on non-wrestling fans' pages.  Connor Michalek, an 8 year old WWE Superfan, recently had his final wish come true.  While weak and dying of brain cancer, Connor "the Crusher" got to meet his hero Daniel Bryan for a second time and watch him capture the WWE World Heavyweight title at Wrestlemania.

You have to watch the video to truly grasp the scope of the situation.  WWE grants wishes all the time for Make-A-Wish.  In fact, John Cena is the most requested celebrity for the charity group.  Not just wrestler, folks.  Celebrity.  

Connor pins Triple H
What WWE did for Connor back in April was noble.  I watched the video the company produced and not just cried, I sobbed.  As a father of three, I can't imagine the pain Connor's family felt as this adorable and energetic little boy took his last breath.  He will be remembered by the Superstars and Divas he met and the fans who watched it all unfold.

The WWE (and wrestling in general) is often criticized.  People call it fake.  They say the wrestlers are in it for themselves, etc.  I applaud the WWE for its efforts not just with Connor and Make-A-Wish, but all the other groups they have rallied behind and causes they support.  Yes, things have changed.  Sports entertainment trumps wrestling these days, but with the good that's coming out of that transition, I'm okay with it.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Extreme Rules 2014 Thoughts

Roman Reigns Superman Punches Batista
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

It's been nearly a week since I've last blogged, as in May I do a lot more with my YouTube channel, posting a new video everyday.  If you haven't already, check it out please and don't forget to subscribe. 

Now that the cheap plug is over, here are some very quick thoughts on Extreme Rules 2014.  I've gotta tell you, with the exception of some early glitches on the feed, the WWE Network may be the greatest invention since the Internet itself.  I can't tell you how much I enjoy being able to watch a PPV on my iPad (or iPhone) and be able to watch from anywhere.  

Good news for Barrett
Photo courtesy: WWE
I'm not going to go match by match, but I really thought overall, the show was very solid, even the WeeLC match at the beginning was entertaining, but I will say the commentary got a little cornier than usual at times.  I am glad  Cesaro picked up the win in the Triple Threat match.  The Intercontinental title is back around waist of Bad News Barrett.  I only hope that the company gets on board and gives the IC title the shine it once had.  I felt like they were headed in that direction a couple years ago when Cody Rhodes won it.  Since losing it to the Big Show, it seems like the championship has become a prop.  Give us some GOOD news Wade.

Rollins flies
Photo courtesy: WWE
The six man tag match between the Shield and Evolution delivered big time.  If you ever wondered before this match, I feel like Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns all proved they are legit.  Rollins gets the MVP award from me just based on the crazy things he did with his body.  It was very daring and paid off.  Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista deserve credit too, as they went toe to toe with these young guys and looked good doing it.  There, I said something nice about Randy Orton (and I mean it)

Rage in a cage
Photo courtesy: WWE
Bray Wyatt and John Cena also delivered, this time inside a steel cage match.  I know Cena has his haters, but he's someone I respect immensely, and while I don't think he's going to suffer from this loss, I believe Wyatt has made a huge jump in the eyes of the WWE Universe.  This angle has been great and creepy all at the same time.  It's showing the cracks in Cena's armor too, which has been interesting.

Kane and Bryan heat things up
Photo courtesy: WWE
And one month into his reign as WWE World Heavyweight champion, Daniel Bryan had an excellent outing with Kane.  I've always been a bigger fan of the Monster over the corporate version of Kane and after all these years, he's proved to me he's still got it.  Those whacks with the kendo stick stung me and Bryan being tossed around like a rag doll surely had to add to be pain, not to mention Kane going through that flaming table, albeit for a moment.  I am glad Bryan defended, and I'm happy to see this ended up as the main event.  I had my doubts, thinking the 6 man tag would be the final match of the night.

Great show.  Big props to everyone who competed and the production staff who brought this event to us live.