Monday, February 23, 2015

Quick Thoughts on Fastlane

Bryan vs. Reigns
Photo courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
My 1-2-3 Cents the Podcast

As the title says, these are some quick thoughts on the final PPV stop on the Road to Wrestlemania.  I've never been a big fan of there being an event between The Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania, but I didn't think Fastllane was horrible by any means.  I do worry about the number of rematches next month though.  Without a world heavyweight title match, this show held up and the undercard champs and challengers shined.

Seth Rollins, Big Show & Kane beat Dolph Zigger, Ryback & Erick Rowan

The only thing about this match that surprised me is that Dolph Ziggler took the pin.  I thought it would be Rowan.  I also thought Rollins would get the victory for his team and not Kane.  Randy Orton is back, and while I'm not a huge fan I would rather see Rollins vs. Orton at Mania than Jon Stewart.  

Goldust pinned Stardust

I'd hoped they would save this match for Wrestlemania 31.  I'm going to assume this story continues with a grudge match.  I've gone back and forth on the Stardust character, but after last night, I'm on board.  The promo he cut on Dusty Rhodes and the beating he delivered to big brother convinced me.  But I've always been a big fan of Goldust.

New champs!
Courtesy: WWE
Masters of the Universe defeated The Usos

This is great news.  I'm a big fan of both Cesaro and Tyson Kidd.   I just hope WWE is ready to get behind the tag team division again.  I am not holding my breath though...

Sting challenged Triple H to a match at Wrestlemania

I see two benefits to this.  One: Sting will finally have a Wrestlemania (WWE) match.  Two: Fans will FINALLY stop talking about Sting vs. Undertaker.  This should be a good contest, although I'm a bit cynical over the "Sting tried to put us out of business" gimmick.  It's been nearly 14 years....

Nikki Bella defended the Divas title against Paige

I'm not going to lie, I'd hoped that Paige would win this battle and go into a feud with Charlotte (I know she's gotta be called up soon, right?)  But I'll admit Nikki has improved her in ring game.  

Bad News Barrett defeated Dean Ambrose by disqualification

I love Dean Ambrose.  I am really hoping this story continues on to Wrestlemania and the two don't wrestle again until then.  Since Ambrose stole the belt, perhaps a ladder match is in store for these two.  It'll give the Intercontinental title some importance.

Calling out the Undertaker
Photo courtesy: WWE

Bray Wyatt called out The Undertaker

This is an interesting one in my opinion.  I'm not sure how WWE will handle 'Taker now that The Streak is over.  I'm assuming this is going to happen at Wrestlemania.  A win for Wyatt would be quite a feather in his cap.  I am excited about this matchup.

Rusev made John Cena submit

Rusev is someone who has really impressed me as well.  I've enjoyed his character development and the push WWE has given him. I believe he shined in this high profile opportunity. He cheated to win, something that was well within his character as a heel.  I also believe we're headed for another rematch at Wrestlemania (maybe a submission match) and Cena as the victor. 

Roman Reigns beat Daniel Bryan

I think the IWC imploded as a result of this match.  I'm glad WWE made a move and is going forward with a one-on-one contest for Wrestlemania (at least as of now).  They have five weeks to build this matchup, I think it can be accomplished and fans need to just give this time to simmer and let's see where we end up after the show goes off the air on March 29. I'm curious to what's next for Bryan.  Hopefully more than a spot in the Andre the Giant battle royal (assuming they do it again) 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cue The People's Court Theme Here...

King Mabel
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Listen to the My 1-2-3 Cents Podcast here

It's been a week of lawsuits for the WWE, and before I go any further, I have no legal expertise.  I'm writing this to share my opinion (or My 1-2-3 Cents).  I figure most of you know that, but I don't want there to be any confusion.

The widow of Nelson Frazier, who fans know as Viscera, Big Daddy V and King Mabel has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the WWE.  Frazier died of a heart attack in February 2014.  He was only 43 years old.  Cassandra Frazier's suit alleges her husband's heart attack was caused by "WWE's willful, wanton, reckless and grossly negligent" practices.

Viscera vs. Batista
Courtesy: WWE
I mean no disrespect to the Frazier family, but Nelson weighed about 500 pounds.  He last wrestled for WWE in 2008, which was six years BEFORE his death.  He worked for various companies after his departure.  I think those few sentences summarize my problem with this lawsuit.  I know in the years since Eddie Guerrero's death in 2005, WWE has implemented and enforced a pretty strict wellness policy that goes beyond just testing for illegal drug use.  

Billy Jack Haynes gets busted open

Former WWE Superstar Billy Jack Haynes filed a lawsuit in November, blaming the company for his current health problems.  Haynes has depression, early signs of dementia, Hepatitis C and various liver and kidney troubles.  Haynes worked for WWE for two years in the late 80's.  He too had wrestled years before and after WWE.  But because the WWE is "the last company standing" there's no one else to blame (or pay up). I'm not saying Haynes never suffered the injuries.  He says he had 15 concussions in his career. Wrestling was less protective of its competitors in that era.  But three decades later, why is WWE to blame?
Vito in action (and a dress)
Courtesy: WWE
Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton have singled out the WWE as well.  In January the two sued for concussions they've suffered.  Vito is a veteran of the ring, having wrestled in WCW and ECW prior to the buyouts of both companies in 2001.  He too has worked since leaving WWE in 2007. Singleton never made it beyond WWE's development stage. 

Dr. Amann
Courtesy: WWE
WWE's physician Dr. Chris Amman is suing both CM Punk and Colt Cabana over comments made by Punk during the Art of Wrestling Podcast.  Punk claims he had a baseball size lump on his back and Dr. Amman failed to treat or diagnosis the problem for months.  Punk said another doctor told him it was a life threatening infection.  Amman is asking for a million dollars in damages.  Again, not having any legal background I don't know if the suit has any merit, but the WWE has come back swinging, releasing video of Punk wrestling and no obvious signs of a lump on his back.  

WWE's defense
Time will tell where all of these suits end up.  Anyone has the right to sue, but I don't know what kind of merit the concussion and wrong death suits have because of the wrestlers' experiences outside of WWE.  Wrestling is brutal.  People get hurt and some even die in the ring.  Proceed with caution.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day

Malia Grace: Fighter
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for unique "holidays" online to share on our morning newscast. I remember seeing February 18 as "International Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day."  Regular readers here know that I'm in the midst of a health kick so I didn't click the link for the details of this sweet sounding day.  Honestly, I didn't want (or really need) a temptation to eat ice cream anytime. 

Then on the afternoon of February 18 I saw a post on Facebook about WHY the day is devoted to eating ice cream for breakfast.  It's all in honor of a little girl named Malia Grace.  She was born February 18, 2001, just a few months shy of my middle son's birthday.  Sadly, in 2010 Malia died after a long battle with cancer.  As a way of honoring the creative and energetic girl, friends and family members posted a few pictures of themselves eating ice cream at the start of their day. The idea quickly went viral.

Eating ice cream for breakfast
Eighty-three countries now participate in the holiday, not just to honor Malia, but all children who have or are battling cancer.  Life's too short to save dessert for the end of the day. After I read the article about the reasoning, I quickly decided I wanted to participate, even if it was a day late.  So I hid the last drumstick in our freezer behind a bag of homemade soup so my kids wouldn't find it.  When I went into work the next morning, instead of heating up my usual scrambled egg or oatmeal, I happily indulged and enjoyed the caramel and chocolate goodness I'd safely tucked away in my lunch box.  As I ate the treat, I thought about why I was doing it and was reminded how lucky my wife and I are to have three healthy children.

RIP Malia
Malia's family has a Facebook page and a website to keep their young daughter's memory alive.  People have been sharing their photos and thoughts for the last couple of years. It's a new tradition I'll gladly participate in every February 18.  Hopefully after reading this and understanding the meaning of the day, you too will have a scoop (or two) in honor of young ones fighting a horrible disease.  If you do participate, upload a pic and use #IceCreamForBreakfast and #KidsGetCancerToo 

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Better Half

Near the beginning of the race
River to River Runners

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents
Listen to the podcast on the Jittery Monkey Podcasting Network here!

No, this isn't a post about my true better half, my wife.  Instead I'm writing about my most recent half marathon.  I say most recent as if I've run so many before.  The Fly with the Eagles race (February 14, 2015) marks my second half marathon. I ran the same race a year earlier, but with much different results this time.

Yes I took a selfie
According to the official race results from the River to River Runners website, I ran the 2015 race in 1:58:58. In 2014, I finished the 13.1 miles in 2:22:20.  I think I can attribute several things to my improvement, but I think the biggest thing was I was mentally prepared this time around.  I wasn't sure what to expect in 2014 because I hadn't run more than 10 miles at that point.

GU Energy Gel
The mild winter helped me get out and run more this time.  The night before I ate lasagna from Fazoli's and drank a lot of water. Last year it was pizza and soda the night before the race.  I also tried a GU Energy Gel for the first time, thanks to a running friend (Pamm). I will never run a long distance race without it or a similar product.  I took it around the eight mile mark and maybe it was mental, but I did feel recharged and even more determined to finish. A new pair of running shoes from my parents also helped this year. Last year I'd run in shoes with more than 500 miles on them.

Sign guy helped lift spirits.
The funny thing as I was listening to my RunKeeper app I was trying to do the math in my head. I got excited when I figured out I could possibly finish at the two hour mark.  My goal was to do anything better than last year's 2:22:20.  I was disappointed with that time because my goal was to do 2:20:00. When I rounded the last curve I saw the clock registering at 1:58 and some change.  I was ecstatic as I realized I was going to make it in under two hours and picked up my pace. I crossed the finish line with a sense of pride I've not felt in a long time.

I'm not hurting like the pic implies
This race has renewed my dedication to running. While I don't consider myself a runner, I am having fun doing it.  I'm eyeing an upcoming marathon in October, which is something I never thought I'd want to do.  I still don't know if it'll happen, but I do know my friend and coworker Ashley Smith is headed to the Boston Marathon in April.  Check out here countdown and training here.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

50 Shades of Rey

My tribute to Rey Mysterio
(I'm sure MOST of these pics are property of WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Listen on the Jittery Monkey Podcasting Network

There will likely be plenty of spoofs of the upcoming film 50 Shades of Grey.  I decided to strike early with a tribute to Rey Mysterio.  I had thought about 50 Shades of Mae, but didn't want people to think I was disrespecting the deceased WWE Hall of Famer.  50 Shades of Bray also crossed my mind, but I don't know that there are 50 photos of Bray Wyatt in different outfits.

Putting this photo montage together made me actually miss Rey Mysterio.  I hope he's doing well and is back for at least one more run with WWE before calling it a career.  6-1-9!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hollywood Hits Home

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Listen on the Jittery Monkey Podcasting Network

In 2013 Hollywood came to my neck of the woods.  Crews were in Cape Girardeau, Missouri (where I went to college) and southern Illinois (where I live now) to film Gone Girl.  Stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry made headlines in the local news.  They slept in our hotels, ate in our restaurants and worked out in our gyms.  It was an exciting time.

The Bar
117 Themis Street, Cape Girardeau, MO
I finally watched the film recently, after failing to see it on the big screen.  I know a few of the extras, so it was fun not just seeing them, but also recognizing places I've known for many years.  Because the bulk of the film was made in Cape, it's only fitting that there is now a new restaurant in town called The Bar.

Selfie time
My wife, daughter and I recently had a late lunch at The Bar (which is the name of the establishment Affleck's character owns). It is a family friendly environment.  On the outside, it looks just as it did in the film.  The inside is divided with the actual bar on one side and the restaurant on the other.  It's very nicely decorated.  The tables are covered with neatly pressed, white linen cloths. Maroon napkins top each table, along with the silverware. We felt underdressed when walking in, but quickly got over that.

The Bar Burger
Reviewing the menu, I was pleasantly surprised at the prices.  The atmosphere leads you to think it's going to be expensive dining, but the reality is the prices are reasonable.  Items include everything from burgers to fish to lamb.  I opted for The Bar Burger and potato wedges with a side of honey mustard.  The burger is a beef pork patty with caramelized onions on a pretzel bun.  I liked it a lot. My wife and daughter had the fish and chips (potato wedges).  They were out of prime rib for the panini my daughter first ordered.  

The restaurant is pretty small on the inside.  I didn't count the tables, but I could see there be long waits during prime eating times.  We were there at three o'clock on a Sunday so we were seated immediately.  The size of the bar side seemed in line with most other places I've been to.  No crowds on a Sunday afternoon, but I'm sure that's different on a Friday night.

Like the movie Gone Girl, I give The Bar two thumbs up.  The food is good. Portion sizes are plentiful.  The service during our visit was a little slow, but we took that time to enjoy the ambience and talk.  The price is right too (the three of us ate for less than $40).  If you find yourself in downtown Cape Girardeau (the real life Carthage) head to The Bar for a meal and a drink.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Seth Rollins: The New Total Package

Seth Rollins
Photo Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents Twitter

Another Monday night has come and gone and instead of fans talking about what happened on Raw or the fact that Rikishi is being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, the focus has been on Seth Rollins.  The buzz around "Mr. Money in the Bank" has nothing to do with his wrestling career and instead on his personal life.  By now, if you're a wrestling fan, you've read the news and possibly even seen the pictures that were leaked onto social media of Rollins in his birthday suit.

Zahra Schreiber

The way I understand it, a nude photo of newly signed Zahra Schreiber ended up on Rollins' social media pages.  Zahra as far as I can tell has not appeared on NXT.  Her name and bio are not up on WWE's website.  Apparently, Rollins' fiancee Leighla Schultz uploaded nude photos of Rollins' with the caption "Zahara?"  All the pictures were deleted a short time later, but I would imagine this has created a bit of a mess for Rollins and WWE.

Rollins has since tweeted an apology.  Triple H has been quoted as saying it's a personal matter, and I agree with that.  Rollins in no way had intended for those photos to go public.  Of course the lesson we can all take away is, DON'T TAKE NAKED PICTURES OF YOURSELF because who knows who will end up with them and how many of us will see them.  That also goes for posing for pics, unless that's the direction you want your career/life to take. (I'm not judging)

Some have already drawn parallels between this incident and Triple H's remarks recently about Chyna's past in adult films and whether she should go into the WWE Hall of Fame.  I respect the opinions of all sides, but I think we're talking two different things here.  Chyna made a decision to make the film(s) and knew that others would be watching.  I'm assuming Rollins intended for his photos to be part of a private moment with whomever he sent them to.  Punish Rollins?  No.  I think he's learned a lesson here, and hopefully others have too. 

By the way, I chose not to share the pics in question here for obvious reasons, even the ones that are pixelated.  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The NeverEnding Story

Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Jittery Monkey Podcasting Network

Up until last year's build up to Wrestlemania with Daniel Bryan winning the WWE World Heavyweight title I think I was much more critical of the wrestling industry.  As a fan, I think if we don't get that instant gratification we're looking for, we begin bash the product and the people coming up with the storylines.  But there was something about that Bryan story when it started at SummerSlam 2013 and wrapped up at Wrestlemania XXX that changed my mind.  That slow burn really paid off.

The Steve Austin Show
Courtesy: WWE
I'm not naive enough to believe that this was a part of the original plan.  I do think that vocal fans may have helped dictate the outcome (along with CM Punk's sudden departure after the 2014 Royal Rumble).  But I believe that Triple H's recent comments on the Steve Austin podcast rang true.  WWE is like the NeverEnding story.  There is original content at our fingertips 52 weeks a year.  Some weeks will be better than others.

By accepting that premise, it makes me think before I immediately react to something I didn't like on Raw, SmackDown! or a pay per view.  I may still make a snarky comment on Twitter from time to time, but I am trying to look at more of the big picture.  And that's not to say that fans can't make their voice heard and not like something at the moment.  But if we remember that there is no end date to any of the wrestling storylines we are watching, it's comforting to know that things MAY end up going the way we "book" them with our friends.  We know when watching a movie they have two hours or so to tell the story and deliver the outcome we want.  Wrestling isn't like that.

Jimmy Snuka attacks Don Muraco
My first WWE memory
I've been a loyal to WWF/E since watching Jimmy Snuka tear into Don Muraco in the summer of 1983.  I stuck around through characters like the Goon, Skinner and Aldo Montoya.  I'll be here through this so-called screwing of Daniel Bryan, because at the end of the day I do think everything will work out.  It may take some time to get there, but let's be patient and enjoy the ride.  I may not love every minute of it, but in general I like what I'm seeing and therefore will continue to watch (and maybe drink the Kool-Aid).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Venues I Missed Out On

Madison Square Garden (1984)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Growing up in St. Louis, I consider myself lucky as a wrestling fan.  The NWA and WWF visited town on a regular basis, holding most of their matches at The Kiel Auditorium.  It's no longer there, but today's fans can catch WWE events at the Scottrade Center.  I remember seeing the likes of Ric Flair, Bruiser Brody, Hulk Hogan and the Junkyard Dog live and in person at these events.  

Over the last several years I've ventured to Wrestlemanias in cities like Chicago, Orlando and New Orleans.  Along those trips, we've attended indy matches at smaller, more intimate arenas and venues.  I love going to wrestling events in different settings.  I've been to shows (and even wrestled at one) in a motorcycle warehouse, high school gym and VFW Hall.  But there are three arenas that come to mind that I would have loved the opportunity to have seen some wrestling action.

Madison Square Garden is no doubt the mecca of professional wrestling.  I remember watching shows on the MSG Network and through Prime Time Wrestling when I was in high school.  I always wanted to be a part of that experience.  I loved the way the microphone would drop from above and Howard Finkel would begin his announcements after a series of clanks of the ringside bell.

Outside MSG before the Hall of Fame Ceremony in 2013

In 2004 I attempted to get tickets to Wrestlemania XX.  I failed, but was excited when we booked our tickets from the 2013 Hall of Fame Ceremony.  It's the year Bruno Sammartino was inducted and appropriately the event as at MSG.  I remember walking to the building with a sense of excitement.  Even if I wasn't going to see any wrestling action, it was still a wrestling event with some of the biggest names in the business.  As I made my way to my seat, I imagined the ring in the center of the building and the sites and sounds of past superstars battling it out.  I could hear that bell clanking and The Fink's distinct voice as I daydreamed for a few minutes.

I haven't given up on attending a show at MSG.  I think there will be other chances to make it there.   It's still high on my bucket list.  Meanwhile, you can relive 50 years of MSG shows in the new book Holy Ground: 50 Years of WWE at Madison Square Garden by our friends at The History of WWE.

Kerry Von Erich vs. Ric Flair, Freebirds standing by

Unfortunately though it is too late to catch a show at the Dallas Sportatorium.  The arena made famous by The Von Erich family in the 1980's closed its doors in 1998 and was demolished in 2003.  I remember watching World Class Championship Wrestling on Sunday mornings and how insane the crowd would go when Kerry, Kevin, Mike and David Von Erich would make their way to the ring.  It was comparable to the Beatle-mania craze from two decades earlier.  The fans loved that family and the wrestling action that was a part of each show.  Conversely they were quick to jeer The Freebirds, Kamala and The Missing Link.

The Von Erichs
I can only image teenage me at one of these shows, popping for Kerry who remains one of my all-time favorites.  I did get to see him wrestle Flair once for the NWA Title at the Kiel in 1985, but I would have loved the opportunity to have been in the crowd in Kerry's home town.  Even one of WCCW's big shows at Dallas Stadium would have been epic.  More than 30 years ago when Fritz Von Erich was booking shows at the stadium, I'd never seen outdoor wrestling (I know WWF did it and others too, but I was new to wrestling at that time).

The Pitbulls, 911 and Tommy Dreamer
ECW Arena
Finally, who wouldn't have loved the chance to chant E-C-Dub! E-C-Dub! in the ECW Arena in Philadelphia?  The company was white hot when I was in college and if I'd been more adventurous or had friends who liked wrestling back then, I would have made a road trip to the Arena.  There always seemed to be an element of danger associated with those matches.  The chair pileup on Terry Funk comes to mind.  I also remember watching as fans would hand various objects including ball bats, toasters and even a toy dinosaur to the wrestlers to use as weapons.  Tommy Dreamer, Raven, Shane Douglas, Sandman, Sabu and of course Beluah all left a big impression on me.

Those are just a few of the places I would have liked to seen a wrestling show.  What arenas or venues do you hold near and dear to your heart?   

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Four Week Update: Triple H Workout

Week 4 update
By Kevin Hunsperger 
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

A month ago I posted a blog about rebooting "Operation Find My Abs."  As I wrote the post, I was eager to get back into a workout routine.  I started the WWE Power Series Workout featuring Triple H.  It's a four week program.  Week one is five days of exercise.  The following three weeks you workout for six days a week, the rest day is Sunday.

I wasn't sure if I'd stay dedicated to the program.  In the past, I've talked about getting fit, but when it comes down to it, life gets in the way and I begin making excuses.  But I haven't this time around.  Over the weekend I wrapped up the fourth week, and while I haven't found my abs, I am noticing small differences.  My wife has picked up on that too, which has been a boost to my ego.

Not only am I doing the Triple H program, but I'm continuing to run as well.  I have a goal of 700 miles this year.  So far I've put in 43 miles.  I've got a long way to go, but I'm confident I'll make it. In two weeks I'm running another half marathon.  I've also done a little DDP Yoga, but probably most importantly, I'm eating healthier.

When I started
While I haven't completely eliminated sweets from my life, I only eat them on the weekends and in much smaller quantities.  Same for my addiction to diet soda.  It's hard sometimes because temptations lurk around the corner.  My wife and kids are climbing on board too.  I'm proud that my wife has kicked her exercise and diet routine up significantly.  Slowly, our entire family is making this transformation.

Heath Hatton
I'm not giving up this time, I will take steps off the road and snack from time to time.  I've also joined a new gym and plan to start working out there a couple times a week.  And Mr. Abs himself Tyler "Heath" Hatton is going to start offering me some pointers too.  Hopefully by my next four week update there will be more definition.  

I've spent the entire time talking about what I'm doing, I'm hoping this has motivated at least one of you reading it to start making a difference in your life.  Let's do it!