Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In Memory: 2014

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

Several wrestling greats died in 2014.  To me, the most shocking death was that of the Ultimate Warrior.  Chad and I watched him get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.  We were in the crowd when he was announced at Wrestlemania XXX. And we experienced first hand, his impassioned speech on Raw the next night.  It's hard to believe he was gone less than 24 hours after that now immortal speech.  Rest in peace to all of those we've lost this year.















Monday, December 29, 2014

Santa vs. Santa

I Am Santa Claus vs. Santa With Muscles
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I am a big fan of Christmas.  It goes without saying, I'm a big fan of wrestling.  From time to time, these two worlds collide.  More often than not the results are less than stellar.  Xanta Claus, The Christmas Creature, and yes, Santa With Muscles all come to mind.

Hulk Hogan in Santa with Muscles
For those who've never seen it, Santa With Muscles is a 1996 film starring then WCW champion Hulk Hogan.  This movie has been out for 18 years and finally during the 2014 Christmas season I sat down to watch it.  Despite Chad's glowing review of the film a couple years ago, I had to see the flick for myself.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Brother
Let me start off by saying I don't mean any disrespect to the men and women who worked on this film, but Santa With Muscles is one of the worst movies I've ever seen.  Hogan plays a millionaire who gets amnesia and believes he's Santa Claus.  What's worse is the kids in the orphanage he's trying to help believe he's St. Nick too.  The film really has no high points and again, although I did get a laugh out of Ed "Brutus Beefcake" Leslie's brief appearance. I'd rather get a stocking full of coal for my remaining Christmases than watch this film again.

Santa Claus & Santa Mick
I Am Santa Claus
 On the opposite end of the wrestling-Christmas spectrum is the documentary I Am Santa Claus.  I recently watched it on Netflix. Despite the title, this is not a film for kids.  There is some language that some might find offensive (I don't get offended).  The documentary follows four Santas from around the country and aspiring Santa Claus, Mick Foley.  It's fun watching the different personalities of each man portraying the jolly ol' elf.  

Santa Jim and his partner
I Am Santa Claus 
We've seen Foley's transformation and love for Santa (and Christmas) evolve over the years on Raw, social media and through his books.  I'll be honest, it was the Foley connection that hooked me in the first place, but once the film started I found each of the men's stories compelling.  From the man who legally changed his name to Santa Claus to the openly gay Santa Jim, we learn it takes more than a white beard and a red suit to become Santa.

Santa Mick & John Cena
Photo courtesy: WWE
There's a scene near the end of the film with the Foley family that no doubt even makes the Grinch's heart grow three sizes.  Mick's wrestling days may be behind him, but he has paved the way for bringing joy to people during the Christmas season.  He's got the look, mannerisms, and belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly down to an art.  The "Hardcore Legend" has reinvented himself as the world's most iconic character and has done it in a way that doesn't tarnish the image of either man.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Centy Awards

Listen on JitteryMonkey.com


By Kevin Hunsperger & Chad Smart
@my123cents on Twitter

Each year Chad and I pick the best and worst of wrestling.  To hear more details about our picks, head to the My 1-2-3 Cents Podcast on Jittery Monkey.  Thanks for reading and listening!

Wrestler of the Year:
Kevin:  Brock Lesnar 

It's hard to deny Brock Lesnar has had an amazing year.  He defeated Big Show at the Royal Rumble, ended the Undertaker's unbeaten streak at Wrestlemania XXX, and destroyed John Cena to win the WWE World Heavyweight title at SummerSlam.  He's a legit beast and although I'm not a huge fan of his or his infrequent appearances, I can't deny he's been the guy to beat in WWE in 2014.

Chad: Icarus

Icarus went from being the most hated Chikara wrestler to being the most popular. Icarus led the troops to bring Chikara back from the “Ashes.”  After winning the Grand title at Chikara’s return, he had several title defenses throughout the year and capped off Season 14 by seemingly vanquishing Deucalion. Quite a good year for someone who used to get unanimous “worst in the world” chants a year ago.


Most Hated:
Kevin:  Bella vs. Bella Storyline

This thing sucked from the start.  I couldn't get in to it, but I couldn't stop watching either.  I also disliked the way the WWE seemingly ignored the fact that the Bellas feuded before.

Chad:  Roman Reigns

This is my snarky pick. Roman Reigns may become a better performer in a few years but right now he’s following in his cousin Rocky Miavia’s footsteps. WWE appears to want Reigns to be the next top guy and are going to push him there whether he’s ready or not. Of the three Shield members, Reigns, to me, is the least ready for a main event slot. “Mr. 3 Moves” as I prefer to call him doesn’t seem to know how to work a match beyond, apron dropkick, superman punch, and spear.  If either Reigns/Lesnar or Reigns/Cena headlines Wrestlemania 31, I am really curious to hear the reaction. I’m probably in the minority but I don’t think either of those matches is ready for the biggest stage of them all.

Most Underappreciated:

Kevin:  Chikara Pro
Chad sums it up better than I can.  I have failed to stay up with any independent wrestling.  I am a Chikara fan and vow to get more involved with the product in 2015.


Chad:   

WWE midcard/Chikara roster
I almost wanted to go with the same answer as last year and say Logic as I’m still trying to figure out Sting’s involvement at Survivor Series or how television monitors explode when you pull on their cables. But to be less snarky, I’m going with two groups that don’t seem to get the attention they deserve.

First up is the WWE mid-card. On the recent Steve Austin podcast, Vince McMahon basically said the mid-carders don’t have a passion that past superstars had and need to reach for the brass ring. Right now WWE has probably one of the, if not THE best rosters they’ve ever had. The amount of talent is amazing. Unfortunately, WWE still only cares about making sure John Cena and Roman Reigns are seen as stars.

The second group I feel are underappreciated is the entire Chikara roster. Yes, I’m a Chikara mark and make no apologizes for that. I’ve been following Chikara for the past ten years and other than the year of the BDK, which I felt was too much like the nWo, I’ve never been disappointed by their product. The talent level is just as good as all the more popular wrestling companies. The storytelling is multi-faceted and um, logical. Yes there are certain elements people may criticize if they don’t want to buy into the Chikara universe. Those things though are what help make Chikara unique. I don’t know why more Chikara wrestlers aren’t booked outside of Chikara. It could be the wrestlers themselves don’t want to wrestle elsewhere or the characters might not translate to a more traditional wrestling company. Whatever the case, the fact Chikara is seen as below TNA and PWG in the hierarchy of wrestling companies by most fans is disappointing.

Most Overrated:

Kevin:  Authority figures in wrestling 

It's not just Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, but Dixie Carter, Vickie Guerrero, Santino, JBL, etc.  I miss the days when wrestlers wrestled and didn't have an authority figure to answer to weekly.  Not only are the appearances by these managers each week, but multiple times per show.  Give me the Jack Tunney days again!

Chad:  Roman Reigns.
 
Breakout Star of the Year:

Kevin:  Sami Zayn

Sami has had an excellent rise in NXT to become the champion there.  I've watched him for years now and he continues to impress me.  I'd give Rusev a close second as I expect him to continue to dominate in 2015.

Chad:  Ashley Remington

I was going to say Sami Zayn, but figure Kevin will name him and I’m trying to not go too WWE heavy with my picks. But honestly, as good of a year as Sami Zayn had, anyone who’s been following wrestling for at least the last five years should have expected Zayn to set NXT on fire.  On the other hand, Ashley Remington came out of nowhere. In his first appearance at Chikara’s “You Only Live Twice,” Mr. “Smooth Sailing” had the crowd ready to hit the high seas of Easton, PA and party on his yacht. Ashley’s positive demeanor and good sportsmanship, he breaks on one, made him and instant star to the Chikara faithful. It’ll be interesting to see if Ashley Remington competes for the Young Lions Cup next season or if he can possibly string together three points and challenge for the Grand Championship. Either way, several wrestlers will be getting complimentary fruit baskets after losing to Ashley. Just beware of the power of his finger guns.

Show of the Year:
Kevin:  NXT (R)Evolution

The introduction of Kevin Owens.  The tag team title match.  Charlotte and Sasha Banks taking women's wrestling to the next level.  They were all excellent parts of the evening.  Then the cherry on top was the NXT Title match between Zayn and Adrian Neville.  I'm a huge Neville mark, but I was glad to see Zayn get the title.  The future is bright for the entire roster as far as I'm concerned.   

Chad:  

Chikara “You Only Live Twice”
Going with “You Only Live Twice” simply because it was great to see Chikara return and I was there. RIP Kobald

Star on the Horizon:

Kevin:  Cesaro

Despite his new found position as a tag team player with Tyson Kidd, I still am hopeful that Cesaro will break out and become the Superstar we all know he can be.  I'm hoping for a Dolph Ziggler-Cesaro reboot down the road again soon.


Chad:    

The VaudeVillians
This was a hard one to pick, as I can’t think of a lot of new talent that I saw this year that didn’t have some sort of Impact. I think the VaudeVillians have a good gimmick and are good inside the ring. I do have a fear that if/when they get called up to the WWE main roster that they’ll spend a month chasing the tag titles and then enter into a never ending feud with Los Matadors given the way WWE has treated NXT call ups this year.

Female of the Year:
Kevin:  Charlotte 

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  She's got her daddy's talent.  I think she's the real deal and will go far in WWE once she's called up to the main roster.  I love the work she's doing and really has been the most consistent female in the WWE in 2014.

Chad:  Charlotte

Best Use of Social Media:
Kevin:  The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik)

Not family friendly at all, but hilarious none the less.  I often wonder what the celebrities he tags in tweets think of his comments.

Chad:  

I don’t pay attention to social media so I can’t answer this one.


Biggest Fall From Grace:

Kevin: Undertaker

Not just his loss at Wrestlemania, but seeing how he looks today, he's a shell of his former self.  I wish him nothing but good things and if he decides to call it a day, he's had a helluva run.

Chad:  My 1-2-3 Cents

Whether due to personal schedules, lack of interest in the current wrestling landscape or general laziness, I think myself more so than Kevin have kind of neglected the blog this year. Hopefully with Kevin getting the podcast up and going next year will see more content come from us(me).


My 12 Favorite Pics of 2014

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

A quick year in review of my favorite pics (most of them I took or am in, sorry).  It's been a great year with family and friends.  I wish you health and happiness in 2015.  Thanks for your support as always. 

January:
Ziplining at Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour

In January we celebrated my oldest son's 14th birthday by ziplining at Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour. It was a fun adventure for all of us, despite the cold.  My mom also went along and had a blast zipping from tree to tree.  

February:
Run the Eagles Half Marathon
I ran my first half marathon in February.  My time wasn't what I was hoping for, as I finished in 2 hours and 22 minutes even.  My goal was 2 hours and 20 minutes, but I can now cross "half marathon" off my bucket list.  I plan to Run the Eagles again in 2015.

March:
Birthday dinner at Giant City Lodge

I turned 41 in March, and after living in southern Illinois for 10 years I finally had dinner at the Giant City Lodge.  I've heard people rave about the fried chicken dinner for years.  Now I know why they do.  It's a great meal and I had an awesome time spending the day with the people I love.

April:
Wrestlemania XXX
A long standing tradition is my annual trip to Wrestlemania every April.  This year it was in New Orleans.  Chad and I dressed up as the Iron Sheik and Nikoali Volkoff.  I'm sad that I'm not going in 2015, but I am hoping to attend Wrestlemania 32.

May:
8th Grade Graduation
It's not often that I get a pic of all three of my kids.  It's even more rare that they're dressed up and smiling.  In May we celebrated as our oldest son "graduated" from 8th grade and entered high school. Time really does fly by, so cherish every moment with your kids.

June:
New York getaway

Like it's not often to get the kids together for a pic, the same can be said for a weekend getaway with my wife. In June we took an extended weekend for the marriage of our friends Brian and Keith.  The ceremony was in the Big Apple, and while we were there, we took in our first Broadway show, Pippin.  The whole weekend was an unforgettable experience.  I love New York!

July:
Hittin' the lake

In 2007 we bought a boat.  Our time in it has gotten shorter due to busy summer weekends, work, and life in general.  In July we had a chance to get out and take a trip to Kentucky Lake with our friends. It was the only weekend we were able to get out this year.  Hopefully that'll change in 2015.

August:
Flyin' high
(Photo by Gail Johnson)

I wasn't at the pool to take this picture, but I absolutely love it.  It's my daughter celebrating her friend's birthday.  She climbed to the high dive and in her true "free spirit" attitude went as high in the air as she could before making a big splash.

September:
Gridiron Glory
For as long as I can remember, my son Mason has played baseball. Every summer, fall, and even winter we'd watch him at first base.  In 2014, he added football to his interests.  He's number 37 in the white jersey.  I've learned more about the sport, especially not to volunteer to be the time keeper.

October:
Disney adventure
After a four year hiatus we returned to Disney World and Universal Studios in October.  I love the magic that Disney provides.  A week away from work and the cooler weather in the Midwest is always a good thing in my opinion.  The entire Hunsperger clan made the trip this year.


November:
Lighting up the world
We celebrated Thanksgiving in St. Louis with family and on the Saturday after the holiday my daughter and I helped my dad decorate the outside of the house for Christmas.  As you can see, it was a nice day, I took a selfie from the ladder with the two helpers mocking me in the background.

December:
Santa is watching
We had four Christmas celebrations this December.  This particular one was at my inlaws' house.  Santa came by on Christmas morning to make sure my kids and their cousins were enjoying the gifts he had left, and believe me he left plenty.  It was a great year for everyone involved.

Thanks again for reading.  See you in 2015.












Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wishes Do Come True

Ayden Bell & Sheamus
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

For years WWE has been a huge supporter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  John Cena is the primary Superstar that young fans wish to meet.  The former WWE Champ has granted more than 400 wishes through the years.

I recently met a little boy not far from where I live who got to meet his favorite Superstar, Sheamus.  Ayden Bell was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of six.  He's now seven and continues to undergo treatment for the disease.  In October, Ayden and his family made a trip to Houston, Texas for the chance to meet the Celtic Warrior.

Makeover time
At the time of the trip, Ayden had bright red hair just like Sheamus.  Because of his treatment, his skin was left pale.  In an effort to lift Ayden's spirits, Sheamus spiked up the young fan's hair to look just like his.  It worked too, as Ayden's mom explained to me that people in the arena that night thought Sheamus' son was sitting ringside.

Ayden beats Sheamus
After an arm wrestling match backstage and receiving a handful of autographed gifts; it was showtime.  Sheamus was still U.S. Champion and used a Brogue Kick to knock out and pin Bo Dallas.  During my interview with Ayden, I asked if he was a Bo-Liever and he quickly and loudly responded "NO!"

Two champs!
After Sheamus won the match, he went ringside and scooped Ayden up from his seat.  The champ let the boy hold the U.S. Title as they paraded around the ring, much to the delight of Ayden, his parents, and the fans in attendance.  It was a night they'll all remember. 

Ayden playing with his figures
Unfortunately the treatment has put a huge strain on the family's budget.  They have created a Go Fund Me account to help with the costs they've incurred.  Some wrestling websites have picked up the story and fans are finding it in their hearts to give as well.  This makes me very happy and I hope that others will make a donation too.

In January I have a phone interview scheduled with Sheamus.  He's been overseas doing promotional work and wasn't available for the original story.  Please check it out and keep Ayden and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Here's the link to the original news story.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Elf on the Shelf: 2014

Stone Cold Stunner!!!
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

It's hard to believe another Christmas season is wrapping up.  Our elf, Nick, made a return to the house back on December 1.  I took a few pictures of some of his more memorable moments.  Looking forward to more shenanigans in 2015.  Enjoy.

Follow your nose to Nick's return

Look close, it's an elf poo

Sporting an Ugly Christmas Sweater

Battling Harry Potter

The eyes have it...

Nick set up & decorated my daughter's tree

TP trouble

Popped in to say hello

Just hangin' out





Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Year Santa Brought Me Poop For Christmas

Not the actual gift

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

One of the "perks" of working in the news business is having to be there on holidays.  In broadcast journalism Christmas, New Year's and Thanksgiving are no different than a typical Wednesday or Thursday.  There are no days off and through the years I've worked more than my share of Christmas mornings.  I'm not complaining, just using that to set up this story.

On Christmas morning 2007, it was an unusually warm day and pouring down rain.  It didn't feel like Christmas at all.  We finished the morning broadcast and waited to do the Good Morning America news and weather cut-ins and then finally at 9 a.m., we'd all get to go home.  For me, it meant letting my kids finally tear into their Christmas presents as my wife kept them busy with the stocking stuffers Santa had left the night before.  My oldest son was seven at the time and had already called twice asking when I was coming home.

It wasn't long after the newscast ended that someone came into the newsroom and told us there was a Christmas present sitting outside the front doors of the station.  Like I said, it was pouring rain and the box was soaked.  Without hesitation, I went out and picked up the package and promptly brought it to the newsroom.

One co-worker worried that it may be a bomb.  I held the water logged box to my ear and didn't hear any ticking, so I decided it was safe.  There was no tag or card attached, but being the nosey guy I am, I decided to rip off the paper and take a look.

Under the wrapping was a plain box.  I popped it open to see several large pieces of dog poop with a hand written letter inside.  I read the note aloud (I wish now that I would have saved it, I also wish Smartphones were around so we could have taken pics).  It condemned the news department for not doing a story on a motorcycle riding "Santa" in the area who had been requesting coverage from us for the weeks leading up to the holiday.  The letter informed us we were all bad that year and our gift was the poop (he used a more colorful word) from his helper dog.

Despite being mildly irritated by this guy's brazen move, we ended up having a good laugh.  We all questioned why someone would be that upset about not getting their way that they would go through the lengths of wrapping up dog poop and delivering it to the station.  I doubt this "Santa" will be reading the post, but thanks for making that Christmas morning an enjoyable day to be at work.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

The News 3 This Morning team decked out
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I've always had a thing for ugly Christmas sweaters, but I've never owned one.  I've had some horrendous Christmas sweatshirts during the college years, including Mickey Mouse and Wile E. Coyote.

December 12 is Ugly Christmas Sweater Day and we celebrated on the news by wearing our own.  I made mine because as usual I wait until the last minute to shop.  The thrift stores around town didn't have any in my size, so I decided to convert my green Polar Plunge hoodie into an ugly sweater.  I found some awesomely bad fabric Christmas decorations at the Create-A-Smile Thrift Store in Carterville and with some safety pins and velcro I had an original creation.

Sharp dressed man
I received some great photos, but my buddy Tom Harness may have won the prize for the ultimate outfit.  He snagged an ugly Christmas SUIT from the website OppoSuits.  I'm hoping they have a sale after Christmas because I have my eye on the snowman design.  Anyway, check out pics I collected and let's plan to celebrate again next year.  Merry Christmas.

Rusty & Duke 
Morning crew circa 2011

Brooke

Tom & Beth

Little Jace

Reed

Kellie

Todd