Sunday, July 31, 2016

All out of bubble gum...

Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Listen to the podcast

It's hard to believe it's been a year since the world lost one of the all-time greats to ever step into a wrestling ring. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper is one of the Superstars who defined my childhood as a wrestling fan. From smashing a coconut on Jimmy Snuka's head to kicking Cyndi Lauper in the ring to painting half his body black; Piper was the man. His death was the third of three big stars from the 80s and 90s, with Dusty Rhodes dying a month earlier and The Ultimate Warrior a year before that.

Dusty & Warrior statues
Courtesy: WWE
WWE has honored the latter two with statues created in their likenesses. There's also the Warrior Award as part of the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. And last year there was the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. But so far, nothing for Hot Rod. Maybe with the new Hall of Fame opening next year, there will be a statue or some tribute to Piper then.

All out of bubble gum
While My 1-2-3 Cents is far from a global entity, I wanted to do something to honor the memory of one of our favorite wrestlers. So in December when Chad and I put together the year-end Centy Awards there will be a new category in Piper's memory. The All Out of Bubble Gum Award will go to someone who has displayed courage, bravery and determination outside of wrestling storylines. When I hear the famous line "I've come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubble gum." it brings to mind someone who is determined to fight the good fight, no matter the odds.

Never got to met Piper, but Chad did
Piper made the line famous in the movie They Live, but had used it before in a wrestling promo before ever making it to the WWF/E. The line has inspired many and is even the name of a soda flavor. The award we'll do is a small way for a couple of fans to honor and remember a man who changed the way they viewed wrestling.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Summer of Flair

Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Listen to the podcast

Summer of 1991 I was in Florida on vacation. It was right before the Great American Bash and Ric Flair was set to defend the WCW World Heavyweight title against Lex Luger. I was watching WCW Saturday Night in the hotel room when a scroll went across the bottom of the screen, effectively saying Flair was no longer with WCW and would not be defending the belt at the Bash. I quickly wondered what was next for Flair, but hoped he'd be going to WWF.

The original Bash poster
Remember it was 1991 and there was no internet and no Monday Night Wars. Raw wasn't even a show at that point. The only live programming was the big four pay per views from WWF and the handful WCW was doing. I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next.

A few weeks later as I was preparing to leave for college. I was casually watching Wrestling Challenge and when the show was coming to an end and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan whipped out Flair's WCW championship belt. He informed his broadcast colleagues the man who owned the belt was the real world's champion and could be coming to the WWF. Gorilla Monsoon asked "does the guy have a name?" Then jaws dropped everywhere, at least in my house, when Heenan said the belt belonged to Ric Flair. To my knowledge it was the first time WWF had ever acknowledged another wrestling company or wrestler who wasn't already on their programming.

Up close for a WWF house show featuring Flair
I'd long been a fan of Flair and news of him coming to WWF was more than welcomed by me. I love wrestling, but always preferred WWF to WCW. The Nature Boy was coming to "our side" and I was ecstatic. A few months later I was in the second row watching Flair battle "Rowdy" Roddy Piper in the main event of a house show on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University. 

That moment with Heenan, the belt, Monsoon and Jim Neidhart is one of my favorite wrestling memories of all time. I still get goosebumps watching it and I've incorporated the audio of that into my podcast open. Part of what made it so special was there was no internet to spoil the surprise. But that's a conversation for another day.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The benefits of being a part-timer

Part-Timer Brock Lesnar
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Former WWE World Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar recently tested positive for substances banned by UFC. According to published reports, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency administered two tests to Lesnar. He tested positive for clomiphene. It's a banned substance that works as an anti-estrogen agent used to treat women's fertility problems. But when men take it, the drug works like a steroid by boosting testosterone production.

WWE will not be pulling Lesnar from his SummerSlam match against Randy Orton. That's because the company's Wellness Policy does not cover "part-time performers", which is what Lesnar considered. 

Now for My 1-2-3 Cents on the situation....

Brock vs. Dean Ambrose
Courtesy: WWE
WWE says Lesnar is part-time, however he was one of the top draft picks a couple weeks ago on SmackDown. His image is used in the promotional banner for RAW and his profile is up on the Current Superstars category of the website. There's no mention of the part-time status in his profile. I don't know how the company legally defines a part-time performer vs. full-time, but as fan I know his status. But does the general public know this? Should WWE care?

The Rock & Ronda Rousey
Courtesy: WWE
Yes they should. With all the news of the infractions with UFC, WWE mostly ignoring the violations insults the intelligence of fans as well as the current roster of WWE Superstars. Everyone who steps into a WWE ring to wrestle should be held to the same standards. That includes The Rock, Ronda Rousey or Shaq. Making exceptions for celebrities or part-timers devalues the widely regarded and respected Wellness Policy.

If something happens to Lesnar, the media will have a field day once again with WWE. Expanding the policy to cover part-time and celebrity appearances would at least give WWE some protection in the court of public opinion. Without holding these performers responsible for their actions sets a bad precedence.

It's also ironic that Orton jabbed at Lesnar during The Highlight Reel on Battleground saying "no enhancement required." after being suspended twice for violating the Wellness Policy. I'll just leave it at that.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dear Shinesty & Opposuits: Please make this suit...

Tom in the middle with the PacMan suit
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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A few years ago my friend, Tom Harness, introduced me (and everyone in southern Illinois) to the Ugly Christmas suits made by Shinesty. He wrote this blog about it in 2014. Since then he's amassed a collection of suits made by Shinesty and/or Opposuits. He's covered for Christmas, Halloween and even an 80s themed party with the Pac-Man suit (which is my favorite).

Chad's Hall of Fame suit
I've always wanted to get one of these suits, but I don't want to be "that guy" copying something my friend has turned into a successful fundraiser each year at Christmas. He's literally known as "the suit guy" by some folks here. I have mad respect for what he's done with the project. When Chad and I attended the WWE Hall of Fame this year he busted out his own Shinesty suit, which he told me was inspired by Tom.

What I currently wear to wrestling shows

So to not commit gimmick infringement, I've started a campaign to have Shinesty and/or Opposuits to come up with a design for wrestling fans. If anyone from either company is reading this please create a luchador wrestling mask suit. There are millions of wrestling fans out there. They'd be popular attire at the WWE Hall of Fame. And as a ring announcer for an independent wrestling company, I would wear it at our monthly shows. I know others in companies around the country would do the same thing. Test the market with the luchador mask suit and other wrestling themes could follow. I have ideas for other wrestling related apparel, but I'll save that for another blog. 

LuchaDad needs a lucha mask suit
Tom's Ugly suit made the news (several times)
When wearing a Shinesty or Opposuits suit you get noticed. I want to help share the awesomeness of these suits with the professional wrestling crowd. Let's make it happen!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rebuilding Dolph Ziggler

Your SummerSlam SmackDown Live main event
Courtsey: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I've been a fan of Dolph Ziggler's since he first showed up in WWE years ago, shaking hands and introducing himself to the Superstars and Divas backstage. He had been repackaged from his days in the Spirit Squad as a cool and cocky heel. Ziggler had the look and the personality to go far in the business.

Courtesy: WWE
But like many Superstars, Dolph's push has been a roller coaster ride since his 2008 debut. I popped like crazy when he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase during the RAW after WrestleMania 29 and he won the World Heavyweight Championship. (We were there in the crowd) Disappointment quickly set in when the title reign was cut short, in part due to injury and allegedly over comments he made on social media.

He won the Intercontinental title in the interim and continued to be close to grabbing that "brass ring", but has never returned to the world title. After a lackluster feud this year with Baron Corbin, Dolph has won the 6-Pack Challenge on SmackDown Live and now has a WWE Championship match against Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam. 

Heel mode
Courtesy: WWE
In the next few weeks, WWE should rebuild "The Showoff" and return him to what were his best "character" days. I'd love to see Dolph go full blown heel again. Bleach his hair blond again. Return to the neon pink trunks with HEEL printed on them and trade in the current tights from the Shawn Michaels collection. Those days Dolph seemed more natural and more himself. Now I feel like he's trying to pay homage to the Heartbreak Kid. The best characters are those who are themselves, only turned up several notches.

Dolph with Flair & The Miz
Along with the new look a winning streak each week on SmackDown Live is essential. Those wins have to come against some of the biggest names on the roster. A victory over John Cena leading into SummerSlam would add the credibility I feel is lacking in this match as I write this post on July 27. While we're at it, give Dolph a manager. Bring back "Nature Boy" Ric Flair to be his protege. I'd also pair him with Eva Marie. She's already got heat and the two could become a self absorbed power couple.

This was written not to disrespect Dolph Ziggler. The brand split has been great so far and I think making this move with him could put him as one of the top heels on SmackDown Live. He's earned that right. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Demolishing tag team history

Courtsey: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I've been a wrestling fan for more than 30 years. But from time to time I learn something new or relearn something I've forgotten about the business. The most recent lesson came earlier this week when WWE proclaimed The New Day as the longest reigning WWE tag team champs. Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi Kingston have held the titles since SummerSlam 2015 (338 days to date). 

Courtesy: WWE
While I'm a huge fan of the New Day, I questioned WWE's math and history skills, remembering that at WrestleMania IV in 1988 Demolition beat Strike Force for the gold and defended the belts a year later at WrestleMania V and remained champs until the fall of 1989. The total: 478 days. I also discovered in my research that the Valiant Brothers held the gold for 370 days. Both reigns are longer than The New Day's time as champs.

But then I read the fine print. WWE in 2002 established the WWE tag team champions. Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit won those titles when the first brand extension happened. By 2010 the company retired the World Tag Team champion and the belts that were held by Ax and Smash.

The New Day
Courtesy: WWE
So technically speaking, it's true. The New Day are the longest reigning WWE tag team champions. But if you're a history and a fool for old school like me, the overall longest set of tag team title holders in WWE are in fact Demolition. #TheMoreYouKnow

Let them eat squash

Nia Jax in action
Courtesy: WWE
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

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Monday Night RAW ushered in the new era of the brand separation with something wrestling fans haven’t seen in awhile. No, I’m not talking about a show that was pretty much entertaining the entire time. RAW saw the return of squash matches. 

Braun Strowman taking care of business
Courtesy: WWE
Nia Jax made her main roster debut squashing Britt Baker in the first hour of the show. Later in the show, Braun Strowman, making his first appearance separated from the Wyatt Family, demolished the pretty fly for a white guy jobber, James Ellsworth. Both matches combined were 11 minutes shorter than the shortest match on the show. 

I’ve seen some comments online about how the squash matches exposed there’s not enough talent to have two separate brands.  Now, I don’t know the wrestling history of the people making these comments. If they are fans that became fans during the Attitude Era or later, I can understand not understanding the purpose of a squash match. For wrestling fans that remember life before the Monday Night War, squash matches were the majority of matches on television. 

Big Cass & Enzo vs. The Shining Stars
Courtesy: WWE
I think bringing back squash matches is an idea that is way past due. Using the matches from Monday night, new talent got to look impressive without sacrificing the credibility of any other wrester on the roster.  For example, later in the show Enzo and Big Cass fought the Shining Stars. It’s probably safe to say given the way the Colons were presented before and after they make Los Matadors, fans don’t see the Shining Stars as credible threats to any other tag team on the WWE roster. If WWE wants to push the Shining Stars as potential tag-team champions, they’ve got a lot of damage control to do before fans will accept them as anything other than a jobber tag team. 

Obviously WWE can’t have every match on the show be a squash, however utilizing two or three matches per show is not only a solid way to establish talent, it will also help stretch out feuds. Instead of seeing Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn fight each other week after week, KO can squash some unknown local talent then run down Sami in a post match promo.  

The brand split is still fresh so who knows if the current changes will last more than a month. Right now though, I am on board with the changes I’ve seen so far. If WWE would get rid of the opening 15-minute in-ring promo, I think they’ve got all the tools to make me interested in their shows again. If they revert back to their old ways, well, I’ll be hoping at some point “Broken” Matt Hardy will show up and delete them all.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Grandma's potato salad recipe

Brooke & Memaw making potato salad
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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It's summer time and one of my favorite side dishes is potato salad. Growing up, I hated potatoes, but now I love them. Sweet potatoes especially, but that's not the point of this post. This is a recipe my Grandma Bresler had for potato salad. It's great for taking to picnics, barbecues and summer gatherings. My mom and daughter made some up recently. I need to do it too so four generations can be involved in the process.

Finished product

Grandma's Potato Salad

5 pounds of red potatoes
8 hard boiled eggs
1 onion, chopped
6 to 8 celery stalks, chopped
1 pound of bacon, fried crisp (or a package of "real" bacon bits)
1 jar of mayonnaise (we use Duke's or Miracle Whip)
Salt & pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes with the skin on until they're tender. Let the potatoes cool and then peel and cut into pieces. After the eggs have boiled, let them cool. Peel and cut and add to the potatoes. 

Add the chopped onion, celery, bacon and mayonnaise and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately or put it in the fridge and let it cool.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Battleground predictions

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Battleground is just a few hours away and will serve as a send off for several Superstars prior to heading to their new shows. We know the Club will no longer include AJ Styles and the new threesome of John Cena, Enzo and Big Cass is over too. Here are my picks for the show. Be sure to listen to the analysis of Battleground on the My 1-2-3 Cents podcast.

Dean Ambrose will retain the WWE Championship only to have Stephanie McMahon present Seth Rollins with the World Heavyweight Championship the next night on Raw. The only way the brand extension can truly work is to have two separate heavyweight champions. At one point I was for just one champ, but if WWE is going all in on the split two champs have to be the way they do it.

Sasha Banks and Nia Jax will beat Charolette and Dana Brooke. Bayley won't be the mystery partner. Sasha will keep the feud with Charolette going strong and the two will face off at SummerSlam. There's no need to throw Bayley into that mix just yet. 

The Miz will retain the Intercontenial title against Darren Young. I just don't see Young as IC champ material, but that's not to say he can't or won't be one day. I do like the pairing with Bob Backlund. Time will tell.

Rusev will beat Zack Ryder. I love Zack, don't get me wrong. But WWE has yanked him around so many times in the past he's not a credible threat to the monster heel Rusev. He needs to stay strong and face stiffer competition at SummerSlam next month. 

The Club and AJ Styles will beat John Cena, Enzo and Big Cass. I'm breaking my own "never beat against Cena" rule. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson can carry on with the feud against Enzo and Cass on Raw and Cena and AJ can wrap things up against each other at SummerSlam on the SmackDown Live side of things.

I like the Becky Lynch-Natalya feud going on right now. Since they're both on SmackDown Live, I'd add the stipulation that the winner of this match becomes the number one seed in the tournament for SDL women's championship, because like I said earlier there needs to be two sets of champs.

The New Day will beat The Wyatt Family. My only reasoning for this is my assumption the Family as we know it is splitting up. Braun Strowman is going to Raw and Erick Rowan and Bray Wyatt will be on SmackDown Live. Plus as the tag team champions, I'd like to see New Day going into the SummerSlam storyline looking stronger.

Despite saying the match is their final battle, I see more life in the Sami Zayn-Kevin Owens feud. I'd rather see this culminate at WrestleMania and if WWE doesn't wait that long than Hell in a Cell with Zayn winning and finally breaking that 'underdog' stature.  

The Usos will win against Breezango. I'm not sure WWE is firmly behind Fandango and Tyler Breeze just yet.

I'm probably mostly wrong with these predictions, which isn't a bad thing. I like when WWE comes up with things I'm not thinking.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Careers saved by tag team wrestling

Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Listen to the podcast

So far I'm pleased that most of the established tag teams in WWE will remain intact after the draft. Of course general managers could split up some of the duos as Chad suggested during our podcast and have the Ascension and the Usos pursue singles careers. 

Selfie time
Courtesy: WWE
I'm particularly glad to see that Breezango was drafted together and Fandango and Tyler Breeze will at least for now continue to function as a team. When both men were brought up from NXT to the main roster, I had high hopes for them. After very short lived pushes each seemed to get lost in the shuffle.

A couple months ago new life was breathed into their careers when they were put together as a team. While I'm not sure they'll become tag team champions, Breezango is no doubt getting more attention from creative than they were as individuals. There have been other floundering singles Superstars saved by getting a partner.

Oh you didn't know?
Courtesy: WWE
The best example of this is the Road Dogg and Billy Gunn. Billy was transitioning out of The Smoking Gunns team and tried a solo career as RockaBilly with the Honky Tonk Man as his manager. The gimmick fell flat. Road Dogg meanwhile had departed Jeff Jarrett as the Roadie and really hadn't done much. In fact I don't really remember him doing anything until the angle with Billy started.

New Age Outlaws
Courtesy: WWE
When the two first teamed up I didn't think it was a good pairing. Then The New Age Outlaws beat the Legion of Doom for the WWF tag team titles and I thought the powers that be had lost their minds. The Road Warriors, one of wrestling's greatest tag teams of all time, had just lost the gold to a couple of midcard no names. It reminded me of when Steve Regal (not William) and Jimmy Garvin beat the Warriors for the AWA straps 12 years earlier. But this was the start of something big and the Outlaws have gone down as one of the most beloved and awarded tag teams in the history of the business. Joining DX didn't hurt with them getting over either.

New Day Rocks!
Courtesy: WWE
The current tag team champions, The New Day fit into this category too. Kofi Kingston was on the brink of breaking through to the main event scene but for some reason was derailed along the way. He quickly slipped into the land of the lost. Big E showed potential as a heel, but when he turned face he too got lost in the shuffle. Xavier Woods was working hard to make a name for himself. Then these three Superstars in search of an identity came together and the rest is wrestling history. I never imagined New Day would be as wildly popular as they are. The merchandising alone will put them in the books as some of WWE's greatest Superstars. After all, what other Superstar has had their own cereal? 

What singles stars have you seen saved by becoming a tag team competitor?

Friday, July 22, 2016

I made it on The Rock's YouTube channel...

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Listen to the podcast

I have been waiting on pins and needles for nine days to find out if I was one of 32 finalists in the Rock the Promo contest on the Rock's YouTube channel. Contestants had to submit a 45 second video with a character and make certain points in their promo. The field was narrowed to the final 32 which were revealed earlier today on YouTube. As I watched the video I got excited for a minute when a quick cut of my character made it on screen. But I was part of the rejects, much like the early episodes each season on American Idol.

My character is one I've actually been wanting to introduce to the My 1-2-3 Cents supporters for some time. His name is LuchaDad. Up until now I had no creative way to make that happen. But thanks to the Rock's contest, LuchaDad and his 10 year old LuchaDaughter are out in the open. Doing this forced me out of my comfort zone (yes I have one believe it or not) and has got my creative wheels spinning for future projects. My 45 second submission is below.

I chose the bathrobe instead of a fancy wrestling robe because I'm a dad. I told a cheesy "dad joke" thanks to my high school friend Jodi for that one. And I used the belt as my intimidating look because who didn't fear a belt spanking as a child? The Padre Island reference is to keep with the dad/Latino gimmick I'm working. 

While I didn't make it into the top 32, I did make it onto the Rock's YouTube channel which not many people will likely ever be able to say. Take a look at the others involved, my one second of fame comes in at 1:28 on the video below. Thanks to the Rock and his team for the opportunity and for using part of my video in the montage. Also thanks to my "LuchaDaughter" for being such a good sport. Also good luck to the final 32!