Monday, January 26, 2015

Royal Rumble: Hits & Misses

Heading to Wrestlemania
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

In the moments that followed the 2015 Royal Rumble, Chad and I recorded a podcast, that's now available on the Jittery Monkey Podcasting Network and iTunes.  For the most part we remained positive in our discussion.  After sleeping on it, I still don't agree with the way the Rumble played out, but I'm going to buckle up for the ride because the Road to Wrestlemania is usually filled with a few twists and turns and a lot can happen in the next 62 days.

Rollins shines
Photo courtesy: WWE

 For me the takeaway from this year's event had nothing to do with the over the top rope match.  Instead, I'm still in awe by the WWE World Heavyweight Title match.  Seth Rollins proved (again) that he's a main event player and is here to stay.  John Cena showed us he's not above getting down and dirty.  And Brock Lesnar reinvented the term Beast Incarnate.  I've never been a huge fan of Brock's, but his return to the ring and the push he received in 2014 and now into the start of the new year has been nothing short of awesome.  I really thought he was down for the count as medics attended to him outside the ring.  I figured we were moments away from Rollins winning his first World title.  Then out of no where Brock returns to the ring with rage and anger.  He walked out with HIS championship.

Brock's a beast
Photo courtesy: WWE

In the process of all of this though I think Brock has become even more of a fan favorite.  I don't think that's a bad thing, as Lesnar rarely displayed the typical heel traits we've come to expect through the years.  He doesn't surrender, he doesn't retreat.  Even though he has Paul Heyman in his corner, they don't cheat.  Fans don't seem to want to hate him just because he's a monster in the ring. Wrestlemania will be interesting if the current plan stays the course.

Get the tables!
Photo courtesy: WWE
The Rumble match itself is typically my favorite event of the year.  I love the surprise entrants, but this year I felt like they fell flat.  Bubba Ray Dudley's return shocked.  I'm curious to see if he sticks around, because as we mentioned on the podcast, he definitely still has gas left in the tank and should be able to go, thanks to his time away in TNA.  I think they did a good job helping him step out of that stereotypical tag team partner role and made him a great solo star.

The yoga works
Photo courtesy: WWE
I speculated in a previous blog that Diamond Dallas Page is Hall of Fame bound in 2015.  I wonder if his appearance in the Rumble helps or hurts my prediction. The Boogeyman never impressed me, and his appearance didn't do anything but make me wish someone else had received that spot.  I do enjoy the legends and past stars coming back for the Rumble, but I was really hoping for an NXT guy to make an appearance.  Truth be told I wanted either Kevin Owens or Adrian Neville to win the whole thing, but I know that's way too much fantasy booking.

Can The Rock help?
Photo courtesy: WWE
Until Daniel Bryan announced his plans to return to the ring at the Royal Rumble, I had picked Roman Reigns to win the whole thing.  I pretty much made that decision right after Lesnar won the championship at SummerSlam.  I knew then that Reigns wasn't ready for that spot, but figured there was plenty of time to get him there.  I think his injury may have hurt him in more ways than one, as I see most of the Internet Wrestling Community collectively voiced their disdain with the outcome of the Rumble.  Even Reigns' cousin, the uber popular Rock couldn't seem to get the crowd to rally behind the new number one contender.

Eliminating Dolph
Photo courtesy: WWE

I'm disappointed at the final four (or five) with Kane and the Big Show lasting so long.  From a storyline standpoint, I guess I get it, but I think there was an opportunity for Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt and Rusev to shine.  Instead, they were mostly treated like afterthoughts, at least in my opinion.  They did the same thing essentially with Rusev playing possum as they did in 2011 with Alberto Del Rio and Santino.  I thought Rusev may have had a chance though...

Rusev-Cena coming soon
Photo courtesy: WWE
After the show they teased a Cena-Rusev showdown at Wrestlemania.  I've already blogged about my opposition to this and can only hope if they execute this feud, Rusev wins the match OR if they end his streak they somehow make him look strong in the process.  Like Chad says in the podcast, it's all about the aftermath booking that's important.

In conclusion, I'm not going to stop watching the product.  I'm not canceling the WWE Network.  This is something that is fixable.  There's still two months before we get to Wrestlemania and a lot can and will happen.  It's similar to the flack WWE got last year, and I know that CM Punk leaving changed the course of some of what happened at Wrestlemania XXX.  Just don't throw the baby out with the bathwater yet. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Shaking Up The Royal Rumble

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

As I was in the middle of a podcast on the Jittery Monkey Podcasting Network the other night I had an idea about the Royal Rumble.  It really just came to me as I was talking with Nerds United host Greg Mehochko.  Instead of Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns or Bray Wyatt (Greg's pick) winning the Royal Rumble, how about someone who's not even on the WWE roster right now win...

My idea is to have someone from NXT enter the Rumble this year, just as Rusev did last year.  But take that a step further and have that man WIN the event and go on to Wrestlemania to face the champion.  If the champ at that time is Seth Rollins (who I think it will be), then you have two guys who've never main evented Wrestlemania stepping into that spotlight.  It would be an epic opportunity to show the fans that the future is now.

Neville vs. Owens
Photo Courtesy: WWE
So who do you have win the Rumble?  My original thought was Adrian Neville, because if you read this blog you know I'm a mark for "The Man Who Gravity Forgot."  Greg's suggestion was Kevin Owens.  I like that idea if Brock Lesnar is still champion.  It would be a great, hard hitting contest between two beasts in the business.   Neville could be booked into that underdog role if Lesnar is the champion.  But either one of the NXT stars would certainly shine and I have no doubt would put on an impressive main event at Wrestlemania, whether it's Brock, Rollins or even John Cena as the defending champion.  It would be something we've not seen before and the move would give new life to a somewhat stale product.

El Generico vs. Kevin Steen
I know the many in the WWE Universe may not watch NXT and know who Neville or Owens are, but I think there's plenty of time and programming between now and March 29 to tell a compelling story that would get the fans invested in the storyline.  Plus, it's not like Neville or Owens or several other talents at NXT are "rookies", they've been around for years on the independent scene. This story could almost write itself.

PAC vs. El Generico
Photo Courtesy: Wilkey Photography

I love WWE and will always be loyal to the product.  But throwing an NXT guy into the immediate title picture would certainly break up the predictability we've seen through the years.  I'm not giving up on Bryan, Reigns, Wyatt, Rollins or even Dean Ambrose.  I think having an NXT guy in the ring defending against these guys would be phenomenal.  There's a lot of talent brewing in Florida and it's time to share those guys with the rest of the world.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

There's No Crying in Wrestling

Photo taken by @chrisolds2009

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

A lot of people on social media are talking about an incident that happened at Raw this week, in which Triple H apparently brought a young fan tears.  It happened during the main event when John Cena was battling Seth Rollins, Big Show and Kane.  The young fan, clearly a Cena fan, started crying after Triple H said something to the boy.  I haven't read what caused the tears, but I am going to assume Triple H was playing his heel character role and said something negative about Cena.

I think it's what happened after the comments and the tears that have so many fans talking.  As you can see in the pictures, Triple H breaks character and consoles the boy.  After the show the little guy received several gifts from the company.

Photo taken by @chrisolds2009
Like I mentioned, I don't know what Triple H said to the kid, but I'm sure it was nothing personal about the young fan.  Maybe it was, and if that's the case then I'd be more critical of Hunter. We've gotta remember, he's a heel.  Upsetting the fans is what he and all bad guys are supposed to do.  But I know there are boundaries, especially in the new anti-bully, Be a Star era.  I just can't imagine someone in Trips' position would cross that line.

None-the-less, the move to console the boy in front of the crowd is commendable.  I'm not bothered that he "broke character" to do it.  He did what he felt was right and at the end of the day it was best for business.  It puts him in a good light as the heir apparent to the WWE Kingdom and gets the WWE a ton of PR in a week that the company has been slammed over a concussion controversy on Good Morning America.

My bottom line with this is I don't have a problem either way with what Triple H said/did.  The comments were likely character driven, so he was doing his job.  His actions later were corporate and went a long way to make this young boy and his family feel better about their WWE experience.  I'm sure they'll be repeat customers as a result.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Don't Crush Rusev

Rusev & Lana
Photo Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

There's been a lot of buzz on different wrestling websites that Rusev's streak of not being pinned or forced to submit will come to an end at Wrestlemania 31.  While I don't want that to happen, it's the man people are saying will end that streak that bothers me: John Cena.  I have nothing against Cena, but I think making him the man to beat Rusev is not "what's best for business."

Dominating Big E
Photo courtesy: WWE
Again this is just a rumor, and even if it's not true, I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about one of the fastest rising stars on the main roster right now.  I'll be honest, I wasn't a big fan of Rusev's in NXT.  I was disappointed when he ended up being the pick to represent the brand in the 2014 Royal Rumble.

Winning the U.S. Title
Photo courtesy: WWE
But over the last 12 months Rusev and his manager Lana have grown on me.  In fact, they've become one of the highlights for me on Raw each week.  I've enjoyed the dominance Rusev has displayed, eventually beating Sheamus for the United States Championship.  Having John Cena end that doesn't benefit anyone, at least in my opinion.  Who should end Rusev's reign?  I'm not sure that I have an answer right now, but I don't see anyone on the current roster I'd like in that role (including Ryback).

Kozlov vs. Shawn Michaels
Photo courtesy: WWE
I realize I'm being quick to judge, but I'm reminded of other guys who were first brought into the WWE as dominate monster heels.  Lord Tensai and Kozlov immediately come to mind.  In fact, at one point I was so convinced about Kozlov, I thought he could have been a serious threat to the Undertaker's Wrestlemania streak several years ago.  Kozlov then turned face and joined Santino as a comedic tag team before he was eventually "future endeavored." Tensai picked up some key wins on TV against Cena and Triple H, but it wasn't long before he was dancing in the ring with Brodus Clay before disappearing only to resurface on the announce team of NXT.  

The Rock lays the smack down
Photo courtesy: WWE
I don't want to see Lana and Rusev subjected to a similar fate. I believe he's still got a ton of untapped potential and  I fear that if Cena or anyone else on the current roster (or a part-timer coming back) ends Rusev's streak, he'll be lost in the shuffle.  Eventually the time will come for him to lose, but who that person is to pick up the win is critical to the future of Rusev and the man who wins the match.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What Does the Fox Say? Ring-Ding-Ding You Suck!

An example of the Kids Club Coordinator 
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

Twenty years ago I was a senior at Southeast Missouri State University.  Even though I had a major, Mass Communication, I had no idea exactly what I would be doing once I graduated later that year.  I wanted to go into TV or radio, but because there was no broadcasting major at the time, I wasn't sure how to reach that goal.

The actual ad from the Southeast Missouri
August 1995

The Summer of 1995, I came across a job opening at the Fox affiliate in Cape Girardeau.  KBSI was looking for a Kids Club Coordinator.  It was an on air position, paying $7.00 an hour plus benefits.  Remember, it was 1995.  I was a college student, working as an assistant manager at Chuck E. Cheese making $5.50 an hour and no benefits.  I was one the verge of graduating and getting married less than two years later.  Plus, this was going to give me a chance to get my foot in the door in the world of broadcast journalism.

You can see the job duties in the ad.  I thought I could relate to kids because I loved cartoons.  I was writing for my college newspaper, The Capaha Arrow and thought, even though I lacked the on-air experience, I'd be able to pick it up easily.  I sent in my resume and cover letter and eagerly waited to hear back.  I was so excited that day when the creative service director called to set up an interview.  After a quick trip to the mall for a sports coat and tie, I was ready to claim my new job, or so I thought.

I went through the interview and thought things were going great. Then we headed to the studio.  This was my first time visiting a TV station studio, so I was in awe for a few moments.  Then I was humbled after he turned on the camera.  My future boss (as I was thinking) stood beside the camera with cue cards in hand.  He told me to read what they said and they'd be recording me.

Cindy Brady tripped up by the camera.
The little red light mesmerized me much like it did Cindy Brady decades earlier on episode "You Can't Win Them All."  My nerves got the best of me and my brain and mouth couldn't agree.  I remember finishing up thinking it was horrible, even though the director shook my hand and said nice job.  In my heart of hearts I knew it was far from a nice job, and the reality set in a few weeks later when I got a rejection letter in the mail.  Looking back now, since I had experience dressing like Chuck E. Cheese, I could have totally been the guy in the fox costume who worked with the Kids Club Coordinator.  

One of the foxes on Fox
It was that experience that opened my eyes to what it's like to be on camera and the struggle it is to perform.  There were parts of that script I felt foolish reading and instead of getting into the role, I let my insecurities get the best of me.  I certainly had a better appreciation for the men and women I had watched for years on the news.  It also made me determined to get better and step out of my comfort zone if I was ever going to achieve my dream.  

Nine years after that audition, I returned to this market and became a co-anchor on the morning news.  While far from perfect, I've come a long way through the years and hope to continue to improve.  If only I could have gotten my hands on a copy of that audition...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Obligatory New Year, New You Post

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

Don't let the title of this post fool you.  Although it's snarky, it is my intent to once again reboot my fitness and nutrition level in the new year.  About six months ago I talked about Operation Find My Abs, and as you can see from the picture taken on January 5, 2015; I haven't gotten very far in my search.

Yes I ate that giant donut
Poor diet is the biggest factor in this.  I've read a million times you can't out work a bad diet.  My sweet tooth always seems to get the best of time.  A family trip to Disney World and Universal Studios in October followed by Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas didn't help my cause. I continued to tell myself that I'd start on Monday.  Monday never seemed to come though.  Even with running 600 miles in 2014, it did little to help my cause.

I've slacked on my DDP Yoga routine too.  But as of January 4, 2015 I've kicked things back into gear.  I've rededicated myself to the original task of finding my abs.  I'm nearly 42 years old, I don't think it's impossible to do, but I am aware that it will be challenging.

WWE Power Series
Thanks to Chad, I've got another workout routine to add to my regimen.  I just completed the first day of the WWE Power Series Workout featuring Triple H.  It wasn't too bad, but I do need to get heavier dumbbells.  The guys working out on the video seem to be wrestlers in training or at least wanting to step into the squared circle.  That's not my motivation.  I want to look good of course, but I also want to improve my health.  Let's face it, I'm not getting any younger and if I can add some time here on this planet by getting into better shape, then that's what I'll do.

WWE Power Series
Chad and I will likely continue to challenge each other to get into better shape.  I see him tweet that he's worked out and I'm encouraged to do the same if I haven't already.  It's not about bragging that we're hitting the gym or lifting weights.  For me, it's about helping put others in that mindset too.  I think the "we're in it together" mentality can go a long way.  I will keep you updated on my (our) progress. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

14 Memorable Wrestling Moments of 2014

Warrior's last promo
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

This will be the final Year in Review type blog I write, I promise.  I've been reflecting on the year in wrestling, and I admit I did not venture too far outside of the WWE bubble in 2014.  I've come up with a list of my 14 favorite moments, in no particular order.

1.  Ultimate Warrior's last promo/appearance.  I was in the crowd at Raw in New Orleans on the night after Wrestlemania XXX.  We were 48 hours removed from Warrior being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and less than 24 hours away from his untimely death.  I was pumped that Warrior came out and spoke.  His words almost predicting his destiny.  He said in part "Every man's heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe a final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them bleed deeper and something larger than life then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized."  Rest in peace Warrior.  We miss you.

2.  Daniel Bryan overcomes Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton in the same night to become the WWE World Heavyweight champion.

Sheamus with Ayden Bell
3.  Sheamus grants the wish for a Make-A-Wish kid in my area.  I blogged about this a few weeks ago.  Sheamus earned big points in my eyes for how he treated Ayden Bell as he battles cancer.  Class act all the way.

4.  Chikara makes its return, Icarus wins the Grand Championship.  I still haven't seen the show, but I'm happy to know this unique promotion is back and stronger than ever.

5.  The WWE launches the WWE Network.  Shut up and take my money already.

6.  Robbie E and Brooke Adams get cast on The Amazing Race.  I think it's always good for business when wrestlers cross over into the main stream media.  Hopefully the former couple's appearance on the reality show will provide a boost for TNA when it relaunches later this month.

7.  Brock Lesnar ends the Undertaker's unbeaten streak at Wrestlemania.  I still remember the look of shock on Chad's face after the three count and the gasp from the live crowd at the SilverDome... I mean SuperDome.

8.  Seth Rollins dives off the balcony at Extreme Rules as the Shield battles Evolution.  The matches between the two factions helped make Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose legit as far as I'm concerned.

9.  Cesaro bodyslams the Big Show over the top rope to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.  I had picked Show to win, so this victory was an awesome surprise to me.

Neville wins
Photo courtesy: WWE
10.  Adrian Neville wins the NXT championship from Bo Dallas in a ladder match and goes on to defend it throughout most of 2014.

11.  Sami Zayn reaches the top of the mountain by beating his friend Neville for the title, only to be attacked by Kevin Owens moments later.

12.  Dolph Ziggler and Luke Harper engage in an intense and brutal ladder match at TLC for the Intercontinental Title.  Ziggler wins the belt back, proving he's still the man (at least to me)

13.  Sting appears in a WWE ring, kicking Triple H in the gut and helping Ziggler cover Rollins for Team Cena's win over Team Authority at Survivor Series.

In the ring again
USA Championship Wrestling
14.  I step back in the ring for a moment to ring announce a match at the Du Quoin State Fair.  Yes, this is an egotiscal pick, but hey if I don't promote myself, who will?  It was at a USA Championship Wrestling event by the way.  Oh, and since I'm plugging myself here, check out the podcast on JitteryMonkey or iTunes!  Thanks.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Looking Ahead to 2015

Daniel Bryan wins again!
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

If you listened to our Centy Awards Podcast or read the blog, you know that I did not focus my attention very far outside of WWE when it came to my wrestling consumption.  The first thing I predict for 2015 is for that to change.  And really, it'll be the only thing I can have any control over, everything else here is a guess, some of it wishful thinking.  But please note that predictions are not necessarily things that I WANT to happen, but what I think may be in store for us.  Some of these are serious, others are just for fun.

Daniel Bryan will win the Royal Rumble and face WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania 31.  Rollins will cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase after John Cena beats Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble.  After the loss, Lesnar will layout Cena, making it the opportune time for Rollins to cash in and win.  If Bryan isn't the winner of the Rumble, insert Roman Reigns and follow the same scenario. 

The Ascension will win the WWE tag team titles, in what will be another dismal year for tag team wrestling in the company.  

The Undertaker will return to Wrestlemania and avenge his loss to Brock Lesnar from last year.

Mr. Touchdown: Future Grand Champion
Mr. Touchdown will win Chikara's Grand Championship.

Papa Shango will bring back to life the Estonian Thunderfrog and Kobald and the three will enter Chikara's King of Trios Tournament.

TNA's move to a new network will hurt the company in its attempt to reinvent itself.  Viewership will be greatly affected, but the company will stay afloat.

Adrian Neville will win the Intercontinental title.

Rusev's unbeaten streak will come to an end at the hands of Ryback. (I'm really hoping not)

Hall of Fame inductees this year will include Sting, Diamond Dallas Page and Ivan Koloff.

Happening at Wrestlemania 31???
The Authority will dissolve again after Wrestlemania when Sting beats Triple H and Bryan regains the championship.

Kevin Owens will win the NXT Championship.

The Briscoes will leave Ring of Honor and sign a developmental deal with WWE.  

Alberto Del Patron will capture the Ring of Honor championship.

Global Force Wrestling will have a successful venture with New Japan at Wrestle Kingdom 9, setting up the company to make an "impact" here in the United States.

Jim Ross will return to the mic, after the Wrestle Kingdom event and call wrestling matches on a semi-regular basis.

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