Friday, July 31, 2015

Rest in Peace Roddy Piper


By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Most of you have probably already seen it, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper has died at the age of 61.  According to TMZ, cardiac arrest is the cause of death.  Piper is survived by his wife Kitty and four children.  My thoughts and prayers go out to them, his friends and his fans.  

Piper vs. Hogan
Chad got to meet Roddy a few years ago in Los Angeles.  We plan to do Monday's My 1-2-3 Cents Podcast in the memory of Hot Rod.  He's one of those guys who drew me into wrestling in those early years.  His feuds with Jimmy Snuka, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant in thearly days of the WWF national uprising are what made fans love the sport.

The coconut smash
Piper's Pit is hands down the greatest wrestling talk show segment ever.  The coconut smashing, the shaving of Haiti Kid's head and Piper destroying the Flower Shop are just a few of my favorite moments.  He made the Rock 'N Wrestling Connection work.  Even though I cheered for Hogan back then, I recognized without Hot Rod, they'd be no Hulkamania.

IC title win!
When he turned good, I jumped on the Piper bandwagon even more.  His battles with everyone from Adrian Adonis to Rick Rude to his real life buddy Ric Flair were all memorable.  I hated it when he left WWE and signed with WCW, but I still enjoyed listening to him talk and get in their to do battle.  I was happy that he and Flair had a run as tag team champions in 2006. 

We'll share more memories Monday.  Until then, share your memories here.  God speed Hot Rod.


The Real (K)N Word

Courtesy: WWE
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter
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That title will, hopefully, make sense in a few sentences.

I don’t want to live in a world where a person can’t be racist. Not saying I think racism is a good thing. I happen to think racism (in any form) is a personification of ignorance. I’ve always preferred to get to know someone and then hate them based on whom they are instead of hating people based on what they are. 



If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware of footage being released of Hulk Hogan using racial slurs during a private conversation he wasn’t aware was being taped. In light of this tape becoming public knowledge, WWE severed ties with Hogan and have scrubbed his existence from their website. This leads to the title of this blog. The real (k)N word that is, in my opinion, ruining society is, Kneejerk. 



For whatever reason, WWE felt the need to take such extreme measures over a situation, which faded out faster than the wrestling career of the last Tough Enough winner. Sure, Hogan’s rant was all over the news the day the story broke. But since then, mostly silence. My daily work revolves around celebrity gossip and “news” and other than seeing some random footage of wrestlers being asked about Hogan, there has been no other major coverage of the leaked footage. 

I have no problems with WWE firing The Hulkster as judge on Tough Enough or putting out a statement saying they don’t agree with what he said and his opinions don’t reflect those of WWE. But to try and erase him in a similar fashion as they did Chris Benoit is insane.  That brings me back to the kneejerk reaction we as a society have accepted as normal. 

Look at the recent attempts to ban the Confederate flag as well as the outrage over the killing of Cecil the lion. For some reason, when something happens that people don’t agree with the initial reaction is to go into overdrive with public outrage. 

Whether you agree with what Hulk Hogan said, the fact is those comments were made in a private conversation. I’m willing to bet most people have made statements in private that if made public would cause the same type of backlash. Does that make Hogan’s use of racial slurs acceptable? No, However, trying to erase Hogan from history or make him out to be one of the worst persons ever does nothing either. 


Donald Trump and Mike Tyson way back when...

WWE removed Hulk Hogan’s name and picture from the Hall of Fame section on their website. You know who is still listed as Hall of Famers? Donald Trump and Mike Tyson. If you’ve been paying attention to the 2016 Presidential campaign of Donald Trump, you’re aware he has made several disparaging remarks about Mexicans. Remarks that several people find equally as racists, if not more so, as Hogan using the N-word. WWE hasn’t issued any public statement distancing them from Trump.  Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist. WWE has made no comments condemning Tyson.  

Michael Hayes
Sure, WWE could say Trump and Tyson don’t work for them so their words or actions aren’t reflective of WWE. Is that okay though? Even if you overlook that double standard, what about the fact Michael Hayes is still employed by WWE after going up to Mark Henry in 2008 and saying, “I’m more of a N-word than you.”  Sure, Hayes got a nice paid vacation, but still works for WWE.  Is it because Hayes is less publicly known and works backstage while Hogan is one of the biggest names in the wrestling world so it’s easier to cover up Hayes’ comments? 

I support WWE’s decision to cut ties with Hogan if they feel his actions could be damaging to their brand. I just happen to think they went a little overboard in their reaction. When the story blows over and they eventually bring Hogan back, WWE will look even more foolish for overreacting.  The big lesson to be learned for everyone, not just WWE, whenever something happens that may offend you before reacting wait a day or two to gather more information.

Kevin's podcast on Hogan

SummerSlam: A to Z: Dominick

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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SummerSlam events through the years have featured ladder matches for the Intercontinental and World heavyweight championships.  But in 2005, a ladder was erected for the custody of a WWE Superstar's only son.  That's right.  Rey Mysterio battled Eddie Guerrero in the first and only (as far as I know) custody match.  

Dominick & his real Papi
Photo courtesy: WWE

The storyline had been building for months as Mysterio and Guerrero had a falling out after enjoying some time together as a tag team, even winning the championships.  But as the tension grew, Eddie threatened to reveal a secret about Rey's past.  Long story short, that secret was that Eddie was the biological father of Rey's  son, Dominick.  The two argued back and forth on the issue until Rey challenged Eddie to the custody match to settle everything at SummerSlam '05.

They are family
Photo courtesy: WWE
High above the ring hung a brief case containing the custody papers for the boy. I'm guessing Dominick was probably about 10 at the time.  The announcers played it off as Eddie not really wanting custody.  He just wanted to tear apart the Mysterio family and get a psychological edge over Rey.  There were a few times it looked liked he'd get his wish, but Dominick and Eddie's wife Vickie would run interference.  Rey won and the family unit stayed together, waiting for the next creep to come along... which happened to be CM Punk.  But that's a story for another blog.

Going down!
Photo courtesy: WWE
The storyline was unusual and in my opinion both Rey and Eddie were talented enough to tell a story in the ring without the soap opera element.  The move did give young Dominick a chance to step into the spotlight and let the fans connect with the Superstars on a personal level.  Adding the boy to the story made us care that much more.  I think Vickie benefited the most as she would eventually become a regular member of the WWE roster after Eddie died a few months later.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

SummerSlam A to Z: Cage Matches

Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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The 28th SummerSlam is just around the corner and the event has featured four traditional cage matches, two Lion’s Den matches (more on that in the letter L) and one Hell in a Cell.  So for the letter C, we’re going to talk about the (traditional) cage matches.


Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude: '90
Courtesy: WWE
The first time “Big Blue” was erected at the annual event was SummerSlam 1990.  The Ultimate Warrior defended the WWF World heavyweight title against the man he beat the year before for the Intercontinental title, “Ravishing” Rick Rude.  The two had quite a rivalry brewing through the years, starting at the 1989 Royal Rumble.  Like all good feuds, this one came to an end inside the steel cage.  Even though I was a Warrior fan, I had hoped Rude would win the belt and stick around, but unfortunately, that was not the case.  The two had a great outing though.


Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart '94
Courtesy: WWE
Four years later, the WWF championship was defended in the cage again.  This time Owen Hart sought the title his big brother Bret wore with honor.  The Owen-Bret feud was the hottest rivalry going at the time.  It only made sense that these two competitors get revenge on one another inside Big Blue.  Like Rick Rude, I feel like Owen could have won the gold.  In a different era, I have no doubt both men would have been the champ.

Mankind vs. HHH '97
Courtesy: WWE
SummerSlam 97 featured a cage match that didn’t involve any championships, just pure hatred.  A babyface Mankind challenged the newly crowned King of the Ring Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Mick Foley channeled Jimmy Snuka that night and perched himself (almost) on top of the cage and dropped an elbow onto a prone HHH.  Moments later he would climb over the top of the cage as Chyna drug Hunter through the door.  Mankind dropped to the floor first and won the match. 


Kane & Undertaker vs. DDP & Kanyon
Courtesy: WWE

In 2001 the Brothers of Destruction (Kane and the Undertaker) beat Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon to unify the WCW and WWE tag team championships.  It was a lackluster match in my opinion.  I had big hopes for DDP in WWE, but he was nearing the end of his career by that point and the company obviously had different plans.  It was a match I didn’t think NEEDED to be in a cage like the previous three.  This was also the first and only SummerSlam cage match not held in the Big Blue. 


SummerSlam A to Z: Brock Lesnar

Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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This year Brock Lesnar prepares for a Wrestlemania 30 rematch against the Undertaker at SummerSlam, but I think few could argue SummerSlam 2014 will go down as the Beast Incarnate's best ever.  Brock not only won the WWE World heavyweight title, but he dominated the most dominate WWE champ in the last decade while doing it.


Dominating John Cena at SummerSlam 2014
Courtesy: WWE
John Cena had very few moves in the 2014 match.  The win was another big feather in Brock's cap that included a Royal Rumble victory against The Big Show and ending Undertaker's Wrestlemania streak.  Brock spent nearly 16 minutes beating the crap out of Cena.  The match looked to be over within the first 30 seconds when the Beast delivered an F5 to the champ at the start of the contest.


First championship win at SummerSlam 2002
Courtesy: WWE
Brock's first SummerSlam in 2002 also saw him beat an iconic WWE Champion for the gold.  Lesnar pinned The Rock that night to become (at that time) the youngest WWE Champion in the company's history.  A year later, he'd submit to Kurt Angle while pursuing the gold again.  Then came his absence from WWE.  Nearly a decade later, he'd return and defeat Triple H by submission at the 2012.  His SummerSlam streak rolled into 2013 when he beat CM Punk.


Only SummerSlam loss to Kurt Angle
Courtesy: WWE
As it stands Brock Lesnar is 4 and 1 at SummerSlam beating some of the biggest and best names at the annual event.  2015 is a tall order as he clashes with The Undertaker.  We're still too far out for me to pick a winner.  WWE likes to do the 50/50 booking these days, so I could see 'Taker winning here and leading to a rubber match maybe at Survivor Series or the Royal Rumble.  However I wouldn't be surprised to see Paul Heyman's client, "the Man Who Put the One in 21 and 1" come out on top. 

 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

SummerSlam A to Z: Andre the Giant

Ted DiBiase & Andre the Giant at SummerSlam '88
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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For the next 26 days I plan to write a blog about SummerSlam to go along with a corresponding letter of the alphabet.  I'm starting the series with one of the greatest of all-time Andre the Giant.  The 8th Wonder of the World was a part of the first couple of SummerSlam events, main eventing in the inaugural show.

In 1988, Andre was well past his prime, but was arguably the company's top heel still, feuding with Hulk Hogan for more than a year.  Andre and "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase made up the team of The Mega Bucks, set to take on WWF World heavyweight champion Randy "Macho Man" Savage and  Hogan.  That duo was known as The Mega Powers.


Mega Bucks vs. Mega Powers
Courtesy: WWE
The match was pretty basic.  Jesse "The Body" Ventura was the special referee.  Things come to an end when Elizabeth shows some skin (very tame by today's standards) to distract Andre and DiBiase, allowing The Mega Powers to rally and get the win.  I don't think anyone expected The Mega Bucks to win.



Andre vs. Ax SummerSlam '89
Courtesy: WWE
A year later, Andre teamed up with The Twin Towers (Big Bossman and Akeem) against Demolition and Hacksaw Jim Duggan.  Andre's team lost this one too.  And SummerSlam '91 marked the big man's last on camera appearance.  He was in the corner of the Bushwhackers as they battled the Natural Disasters.  


Andre with LOD and the Bushwhackers SummerSlam '91
Courtesy: WWE
Despite his rapidly deteriorating health, Andre didn't get pinned at either SummerSlam he wrestled.  Fans though saw the Giant was ailing as he arrived at his last event on crutches and at one point hit Earthquake with one.  Andre's legacy wasn't made or broken at SummerSlam, but he was a big part of the first one and still missed by fans today.  Rest in peace Andre.



Friday, July 24, 2015

Famer Friday: Lex Luger

Lex Luger
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Earlier this year, on the My 1-2-3 Cents podcast, Chad and I discussed the one person not in the WWE Hall of Fame that we feel should be.  I picked "Ravishing" Rick Rude and Chad picked Lex Luger.  I agree with him on his choice.  Luger's in ring work gets criticized a lot and his connection to Elizabeth at the time of her death is often brought up, but I think his history in the business speaks for itself.  For the record, Lex was ever only charged with drug violations and Elizabeth's death was ruled an accident.

Luger first caught my eye in the Apter magazines when he broke into the business in Florida.  I'd say he was the most physically gifted wrestler I'd seen up to that point and I knew it would be just a matter of time before he was wrestling on the national scene.  His early days in the NWA included a stint with the Four Horsemen.  I liked this version of the group better than the original, as Lex's youth and strength would replace an aging Ole Anderson.

Championship run
Courtesy: WWE
It didn't take long for The Total Package to embrace the cheers of the faces and feud with the Horsemen.  I still can't believe Lex didn't beat Ric Flair for the NWA World heavyweight title at The Great American Bash in 1988.  I was 0 for 3 that night as Sting and Nikita Koloff failed to capture the tag titles and Dusty Rhodes was beaten by Barry Windham in his quest for the U.S. title.   I thought Luger's redemption would come months later at Starrcade, but a cheating Flair came out on top.

The Narcissist
Courtesy: WWE
Lex would eventually have a run as WCW World heavyweight champ.  It was short-lived as he left the company and signed with Vince McMahon's new World Bodybuilding Federation, but a motorcycle accident sidelined him and the WBF quickly folded.  Months later, Luger would take on the persona of the Narcissist after being introduced to fans by Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.  I wish the two would have stuck together as I loved the gimmick.

Battling Yokozuna
Courtesy: WWE
But I think Vince was looking to fill a void created when Hulk Hogan left the WWF for good in 1993.  A month later, Luger body slammed the massive Yokozuna and embraced an all-American gimmick, traveling the country via the Lex Express preparing for a WWF World title match at SummerSlam '93.  Again, Luger was screwed out of the top prize, but continued his feud with the champ.  Yoko beat Lex by disqualification in his final attempt at the gold at Wrestlemania X after a bad call by special referee Mr. Perfect.

The Allied Powers
Courtesy: WWE
Luger worked in tag team matches with Davey Boy Smith before leaving, but I thought this duo would win the tag team titles.  I was wrong again, as gold was never in Lex's future in the WWF.  He would return home to WCW and have a couple runs as champ there again.  


His life took a major turn after he injured his neck and ended up temporarily paralyzed as a result.  I had a chance to meet and talk with Lex in 2011, along with Nikita Koloff.  The two have found Jesus and are spreading His message.  Lex had also mended fences with WWE and was working behind the scenes with the company.  I hope that at some point the two sides work together again and Luger takes his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Problem with Crowdfunding



By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Let me begin by saying that it's not my intent to pick on anyone who uses or donates to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe or KickStarter.  These sites are great ways for people in need to raise money for whatever they deem necessary.  It's up to the public to decide if they want to help.  But recent campaigns have made me want to share "My 1-2-3 Cents" on why I feel disheartened by the sites.

Virgil
Photo courtesy: WWE
Former WWE Superstar Virgil played "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase's bodyguard in the 1980's, before breaking free and having a brief run on his own. Now, some 25 years later, the man behind that gimmick hopes to become THE real Million Dollar Man with a GoFundMe page.  To date though, Virgil has only raised $135 and a lot of criticism online.  

Potato salad
Zach Brown
I'm not bashing the guy.  Honestly, it's not a bad idea and goes to show that anyone can set up a site and find some people who are willing to donate.  The other example that I want to address is the guy who raised $55,000 in a joke KickStarter fund to make potato salad.  But to be fair, Zach "Danger" Brown ended up having a community wide potato salad party and teamed up with other groups to help the hungry.  But the original purpose of the page was to raise ten bucks to buy his ingredients.  Thousands pitched in much more than that.

Ayden Bell & Sheamsu
On the flip side of the coin, I did a story about a little boy in West Frankfort, Illinois who is battling cancer.  Last year he got to meet his favorite WWE Superstar Sheamus, thanks to the folks at the Make-a-Wish Foundation.  But the family needed help with medical expenses and had a GoFundMe page set up for those purposes.  When it was up and running it had only raised a few hundred dollars, a long way off from the $20,000 goal. 

Again, I'm not judging people for making the donations they do, but I think it's sad that a boy fighting for his life can't get the same level of support as a man who wanted to make a bowl of potato salad.  I have donated to crowdfunding sites in the past, including one for WWE legend Kamala.  The wrestler lost both of his legs due to high blood pressure and diabetes.  The money I donated went to help pay for the publishing of his book "Kamala Speaks."  I got a "reward" of a t-shirt, but I also made the pledge because by getting that book on store shelves, Kamala would be able to get an income since he can no longer wrestle.  Others may find that a silly reason to give.

It's a free country.  We can give to whom we deem worthy of our hard earned money. I just hope that after reading this, people will use crowdfunding sites for legitimate purposes and not the latest "get rich quick" scheme.  And for those who donate, consider giving to a family or a cause in need in your community.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Famer Friday: The Midnight Express & Jim Cornette

Cornette, Lane, Condrey and Eaton


By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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One of my favorite tag teams of all time is the Midnight Express.  I'm talking about the "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton, "Sweet" Stan Lane and Jim Cornette version.  Not "Bombastic" Bob and "Bodacious" Bart from the late 90's.  While the Eaton/Lane version of the Express is my favorite, I do appreciate and respect the work that "Loverboy" Dennis Condrey added to the team.  I don't go back far enough in my fandom to remember the original Express of Condrey, Randy Rose and Norvell Austin.


The early years
I want to say my first memories of Eaton, Condrey and Cornette are when they came to World Class Championship Wrestling.  The trio engaged in a very memorable feud with The Fantastics.  Their time in Texas was brief, but by watching them I learned quickly these two knew what they were doing in the ring.  Those matches helped establish my love for tag team wrestling.  The three headed to the NWA and had a classic scaffold match against The Road Warriors.  Eaton told me in a podcast interview I did with him that he didn't enjoy it because his team ended up tumbling to the ring below.  


The Express gets sweeter
Eventually Condrey would leave the group and Lane would replace him.  Many times that spells doom (not Ron Simmons and Butch Reed) for a tag team, but I enjoyed this incarnation even more.  Lane brought youth component to the team and in my opinion was more physically gifted than Condrey.  This new duo quickly started collecting championships winning the U.S. tag team titles three times and the NWA world tag team titles once.  

Their feuds with the Rock 'n Roll Express, The Road Warriors and Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson are what defined an era of tag team wrestling.  Lane and Eaton's chemistry as well as their abilities in the ring and Cornette's skills on the mic made them nearly flawless.  


Heel turn
Another one of my favorite memories was during their brief face run and "partnership" they had with the Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas and Johnny Ace aka Laurinaitis).  It was at a Clash of the Champions that Corny screwed over the young duo and helped his main charges win their match.  And who can forget when a young Paul Heymen reunited Rose and Condrey to feud with Lane and Eaton over the Midnight Express name?  

The Midnight Express simply never had a bad match as far as I'm concerned.   Their work still holds up more than 30 years later.  Watching their matches reminds me of an era in wrestling that's long forgotten when it comes to putting on compelling tag team matches. So I say Cornette, Eaton, Lane and Condrey all deserve to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hello Ladies

Charlotte, Becky and Sasha join the Divas Revolution



By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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For months fans have been waiting for an overhaul or at least an update in the WWE Divas division.  I think it's fair to say that's exactly what happened on the July 13 episode of Raw.  Three of the best from NXT appeared on the big stage as a part of Paige's Divas Revolution. As I write this Tuesday afternoon, Charlotte, Becky Lynch and NXT women's champion Sasha Banks remain on the NXT roster on WWE's website and are not listed as WWE Divas.

Putting these three young and talented women on the main roster is a breath of fresh air in a often forgotten division.  During the segment on Raw, Michael Cole said "take a look at the future of women's wrestling!"  That statement spoke volumes to me because rarely do you hear the words "women" (it's usually Divas) and "wrestling" (it's usually sports entertainment) on WWE programming.  I don't think the company is abandoning its trademarks, but it was nice to hear a brief break from the norm.

While the presumed transfer of these three women to the main roster is exciting for the division, I do have some concerns.  I hope the moves mean WWE Creative will put more thought into the Divas division, as it seems they focus on just the champion and a particular challenger most of the time.  I also hope that the likes of Natalya and Emma aren't lost in the shuffle.  

Finally, if Charlotte, Becky and Sasha are all leaving NXT, what's next for the few women left there?  Overall that group is so talented but the division is small on NXT.  I understand they're just doing an hour a week as opposed to the five hours the main roster does, plus specials on the WWE Network.  Will Sasha do double duty or drop the NXT Women's title and move on completely?  Time will tell.  I'm going to remain optimistic that it'll be a win-win for everyone involved and hopefully before the end of summer there's a new Divas champion.  Wooo!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wrestling Gives Back

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Sometimes the men and women involved in professional wrestling are thought of as greedy and heartless.  There are cases of bad people in the business, but the WWE constantly gives back to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Special Olympics and Make-a-Wish among others.  That of course is a billion dollar corporation, but even smaller, independent companies give back too.  I've been a part of shows that have raised money for tornado and fire victims, cancer patients and children in need at Christmas.  

Sawyers & Diamond vs. Murdoch & Hills
Fans in southern Illinois, southeast Missouri and western Kentucky have a chance to help as wrestler "Farmer" Billy Hills puts together a benefit show for a boy named Danton.  Danton has autism and is losing his eyesight.  His family wants to purchase a service dog for the boy, but as you can imagine the dogs are expensive.  A night of wrestling is planned on Sunday, July 26 in Harrisburg, Illinois to help with those costs.

Hatton vs. Wyatt
Tickets are just $5 that night.  Doors open at 6 p.m. at Training Daze Gym (104 W. McHaney Street) in Harrisburg.  Bell time is 7 that night.  The card features a main event of Farmer and his partner former WWE tag team champion Trevor Murdoch against Dalton Diamond and Zakk Sawyers.  Heath Hatton (he was on Extreme Rule 2012 against Ryback) will take on Frank Wyatt.  The ladies will be in action too as Sarah Summers and "The Mississippi Queen" BeBe battle Keri Gold and Jennifer Justice.

Murdoch will also work with wrestlers before the show in a clinic for $25.  It'll be a great night of wrestling action, all in an effort to help a boy in need.  Learn more about the show in my podcast interview with "Farmer" Billy Hills.