Thursday, March 31, 2016

MVPs of WrestleMania #1



By Kevin Hunsperger & Chad Smart
@kevinhunsperger, @chadsmart, @my123cents

I've enjoyed counting down the MVPs of WrestleMania.  It should come as no surprise that Chad and I have both picked the Undertaker as our number 1 MVP.  

The Streak starts...
Courtesy: WWE
Kevin's thoughts:  My senior year of high school (25 years ago) The Undertaker made his WrestleMania debut against the legendary "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka.  I expected 'Taker to win that encounter as he was an up and coming Superstar and Snuka was there to help put over those younger guys.  Then he beat Jake "The Snake" Roberts.  He missed WrestleMania 10, but soon won the WWF Championship by beating Sycho Sid at 'Mania 13.  From there on the Undertaker plowed through the competition beating everyone from the young upstarts like Randy Orton to the legends like Ric Flair and everyone in between.

The Streak ends
Courtesy: WWE

'Taker added gold twice more at WrestleMania events, beating Edge and Batista.  He bested Triple H three times, Kane twice as well as Shawn Michaels; retiring the iconic Superstar.  Then in 2014 something weird happened.  The Streak of 21 wins came to a screeching halt.  I've flip-flopped on whether I like the idea of Brock Lesnar ending one of the greatest records in the history of the company.  It definitely sent shockwaves around the world and picked up main stream press.

The Streak starst again
Courtesy: WWE
At WrestleMania 31 he beat Bray Wyatt, the Superstar I think should have ultimately ended the Streak and a new phenom could have been born.  This year it's Shane McMahon standing in the Dead Man's way.  If Vince McMahon has his way, Undertaker will be done at 'Mania if he doesn't beat the boss's son in the much anticipated Hell in a Cell match.  Win or loss, no one can deny the career of the Undertaker and how important he is to the WrestleMania brand.

Various 'Taker opponents
Courtesy: WWE

Chad's thoughts:  
Is there any other honest choice? Taker has wrestled on more WrestleManias than any other wrestler. “The Streak” helped add intrigue to WrestleMania over the last decade. Even with “the Streak” broken, Undertaker has probably one of the most anticipated matches coming up at WrestleMania Star. While I personally think Taker should have retired after WrestleMania XXX, there’s no denying his longevity has helped build the WrestleMania name. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

MVPs of WrestleMania #2


By Kevin Hunsperger & Chad Smart
@kevinhunsperger, @chadsmart, @my123cents

Last year I had the idea to do an MVPs of WrestleMania blog, but came up with it a day or two before the big event.  So I held my list waiting for WrestleMania 32 to roll around.  Admittedly I've made a couple of minor tweaks to the original list and debated internally over the quality of my list.  I invited Chad to play along too.  While the lists aren't perfect (he's not in our top ten), I hope you enjoy.  A new blog will be posted daily until March 31, the day I leave for Dallas.

Rockin' at WrestleMania 5
Courtesy: WWE

Kevin's pick:

2)  Shawn Michaels:  The Heartbreak Kid is of the most decorated Superstars in the history of WWE.  He has been a HUGE part of WrestleMania, dating back to 1989 when he and Marty Jannetty made their Mania debut against the Twin Towers.  Big Bossman and Akeem took out the Rockers that night and watching the team back then I knew Shawn was special, but I had no idea the icon he'd become.  After splitting with Jannetty and going on his own, HBK had some of the best singles matches the big event has ever seen.

Retiring Ric Flair
Courtesy: WWE
His classic ladder match against Razor Ramon set a new standard in wrestling more than 20 years ago.  He beat Bret Hart for his first WWF World Championship in WrestleMania's first and only Iron Man Match.  That zipline entrance inspired me to do the same thing as my wedding, or at least ask if it was possible.  My wife said "hell no!", but I digress.  His final match during the first part of his WWE career was a torch passing moment to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14.  Years later, he'd return to the company and the big show to face Chris Jericho.  Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Triple H and Vince McMahon were all rivals of HBK in that period.  He also took on and lost to John Cena and retired legend Ric Flair in what has become my favorite "in person" WrestleMania match.

End of an era
Courtesy: WWE
Shawn himself would soon wrap up his own career.  A year after the Flair match he wrestled the Undertaker in what many call one of the best Mania matches of all time.  Then at WM 26, HBK put his career on the line and vowed to retire if he couldn't beat the Undertaker and his streak.  The match closed out the show and just like the year prior, Undertaker scooped up and tombstoned Shawn for the win.  He's been back as a referee and to give Sting some Sweet Chin Music.  I'm sure there's plenty more guest spots in his future, assuming he wants to keep being a part of WrestleMania.

Icon vs. icon
Courtesy: WWE

Chad's pick:


2) Vince McMahon: If it weren’t for Vince McMahon, there would be no WrestleMania. Given the events of the past 35 years, if there were no Vince, who knows if wrestling would have any mainstream exposure today. It was a risky move to place all the chips on the table with the first WrestleMania. Looking back at how barebones the first event was, it’s amazing to think how big WrestleMania has grown. From a mid-afternoon, darkly lit wrestling show to a weekend extravaganza with an average of 70,000 fans and larger than life staging, WrestleMania has definitely earned the nickname “Super Bowl of Wrestling.” That is quite the accomplishment for the 70-year old WWE visionary.   Not to mention the handful of times he's competed in the ring at Mania against his own son, Shane, as well as Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels.


Catch up...







Tuesday, March 29, 2016

MVPs of WrestleMania #3


By Kevin Hunsperger & Chad Smart
@kevinhunsperger, @chadsmart, @my123cents

Last year I had the idea to do an MVPs of WrestleMania blog, but came up with it a day or two before the big event.  So I held my list waiting for WrestleMania 32 to roll around.  Admittedly I've made a couple of minor tweaks to the original list and debated internally over the quality of my list.  I invited Chad to play along too.  While the lists aren't perfect (he's not in our top ten), I hope you enjoy.  A new blog will be posted daily until March 31, the day I leave for Dallas.


We’ve agreed again on our number 3 MVP of WrestleMania, Hulk Hogan.

Hogan slams Andre
Courtesy: WWE

Kevin’s thoughts:  Hulk Hogan was a huge part of the first seven WrestleManias.  He helped launch WWF into the main stream in the mid 80s.  We’ve talked before about the hero being as good as his nemesis.  It’s fair to say those first several years the “bad guys” changed, but Hogan was the man at the top.  From body slamming Andre the Giant at WrestleMania 3 to passing the torch to the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 6 to coming back years later to face the Rock, Hogan has had countless WrestleMania moments.  He won the WWF title at three of the events, including that impromptu encounter with Yokozuna at WrestleMania 9.  Even as recent as ‘Mania 30 and his slip up with the Sliver Dome vs. Super Dome, Hogan reached a new generation of fans.  I hope sometime sooner rather than later, fences are mended between the Hulkster and WWE.  

Hogan vs. Savage
Courtesy: WWE
Chad’s thoughts:  While the only time I think I’ve ever cheered the Hulkster was at WrestleMania 1 (I still hold firm that Andre beat Hogan at WM3), it can’t be denied that without the larger than life persona, WrestleMania 1 probably wouldn’t have been as successful. Hulkster was the attraction the first seven WrestleManias were essentially built around to garner interest.

Catch up...






Monday, March 28, 2016

MVPs of WrestleMania #4


By Kevin Hunsperger & Chad Smart
@kevinhunsperger, @chadsmart, @my123cents

Last year I had the idea to do an MVPs of WrestleMania blog, but came up with it a day or two before the big event.  So I held my list waiting for WrestleMania 32 to roll around.  Admittedly I've made a couple of minor tweaks to the original list and debated internally over the quality of my list.  I invited Chad to play along too.  While the lists aren't perfect (he's not in our top ten), I hope you enjoy.  A new blog will be posted daily until March 31, the day I leave for Dallas.

Winning the title!
Courtesy: WWE
Kevin's pick:

4) John Cena:  Probably an unpopular choice to some, but John Cena has been a staple of WrestleMania for the last 12 years.  This year marks the first Mania without Cena, however I'm not convinced his presence won't be felt.  Cena won the U.S. title at his first WrestleMania and the WWE Championship at his second.  He went on to defend, capture or wrestle for the gold in the years that followed.  It wasn't until 2012 when he was in his first non-title WrestleMania match, but still main evented, losing to The Rock.  His only other non-title affair game against Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 30.  Winning the U.S. title again at 31 helped give that championship new life.  The John Cena U.S. Open Challenge made an overlooked secondary title great again.  He's also had some pretty cool entrances through the years.

Winning the title!
Courtesy: WWE
Chad's pick:


4) Shawn Michaels: Looking at his win-loss record, you’d never guess Shawn Michaels is called, “Mr. WrestleMania.” Shawn lost almost twice as many matches as he won compiling a 6-11 record over the course of his WWE career.  While his record may not be outstanding, one can’t deny that his matches against Razor Ramon, Steven Austin, Chris Jericho and The Undertaker aren’t some of the best in WrestleMania history. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

MVPs of WrestleMania #5


By Kevin Hunsperger & Chad Smart
@kevinhunsperger, @chadsmart, @my123cents

Last year I had the idea to do an MVPs of WrestleMania blog, but came up with it a day or two before the big event.  So I held my list waiting for WrestleMania 32 to roll around.  Admittedly I've made a couple of minor tweaks to the original list and debated internally over the quality of my list.  I invited Chad to play along too.  While the lists aren't perfect (he's not in our top ten), I hope you enjoy.  A new blog will be posted daily until March 31, the day I leave for Dallas.

Warrior vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Courtesy: WWE
Kevin's pick:

5) Triple H:  Love him or hate him, it's hard to deny the impact Triple H has had on WrestleMania, not just as a performer but a part of WWE management.  Triple H made his WrestleMania debut 20 years ago as Hunter Hearst Helmsley against a returning Ultimate Warrior.  Sure that outing was less than successful, but it didn't take long for HHH to become one of WWE's big players.  He has had several championship matches, including beating Chris Jericho for the Undisputed Championship at WrestleMania 18.  

He became the first heel to win a WrestleMania main event at WM 2000.  (I don't count Yokozuna's win at WM 9 because Hulk Hogan walked out that night as champion.)  My favorite Triple H WrestleMania match came a couple years ago when he lost to Daniel Bryan in the opener at WrestleMania 30.  It was a bit of a torch passing moment... kinda.  This year the 46 year old heads into the main event of WrestleMania as the defending champion.  When I watched the Blue Blood get squashed in 1996, I never imagined he'd be the champion 20 years later.


The Fink
Courtesy: WWE
Chad's pick:

5) Howard Finkel: There is only one person to appear on camera at the first 31 WrestleManias. That man is affectionately known as, “The Fink.”  Legend has it, Fink is also the one credited with coining the term, WrestleMania.  While he is now reduced to introducing the Hall of Fame inductees, it’s no denying the early WrestleManias would have sounded very different without Howard Finkel’s distinctive voice announcing the competitors.  

Saturday, March 26, 2016

MVPs of WrestleMania #6


By Kevin Hunsperger & Chad Smart
@kevinhunsperger, @chadsmart, @my123cents


Last year I had the idea to do an MVPs of WrestleMania blog, but came up with it a day or two before the big event.  So I held my list waiting for WrestleMania 32 to roll around.  Admittedly I've made a couple of minor tweaks to the original list and debated internally over the quality of my list.  I invited Chad to play along too.  While the lists aren't perfect (he's not in our top ten), I hope you enjoy.  A new blog will be posted daily until March 31, the day I leave for Dallas.

For number 6 we both picked Bret "The Hitman" Hart

WrestleMania 8
Courtesy: WWE
Kevin's thoughts:
Bret Hart has the distinction of being the second to last guy in the ring at the first two WrestleMania battle royals.  He also teamed with Jim Neidhart at several Manias including a six-man tag at 3.  The duo joined forces at 5, 6 and 7.  The Hitman went on to win the IC title from Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 8 in one of the best matches at the event of all-time.  He picked up the World title from Yokozuna a year after losing it to the big man also at a WrestleMania.  He had amazing matches with his brother Owen Hart and of course the big Iron Man match against Shawn Michaels and the "I Quit" match against Stone Cold.  Hart returned to the ring in 2010 to face Vince McMahon in a street fight.  While it was an ugly encounter, it gave the Hitman a chance at closure after his abrupt departure from the company in 1997.


Austin-Hart
Courtesy: WWE
Chad's thoughts:

“The Hitman” bridged the gap between Hulkamania and the Attitude Era. During that time, Bret faced off against Roddy Piper, Yokozuna, Bob Backlund, Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart and the already mentioned, Steve Austin. Add in his tag team matches as part of the Hart Foundation and you’ve got a solid WrestleMania resume.


Miss an MVP?



9.   "Stone Cold" Steve Austin & "Rowdy" Roddy Piper 

8.   The Rock & "Stone Cold" Steve Austin


7.   "Macho Man" Randy Savage

Friday, March 25, 2016

MVPs of WrestleMania #7

By Kevin Hunsperger & Chad Smart
@kevinhunsperger, @chadsmart, @my123cents


Last year I had the idea to do an MVPs of WrestleMania blog, but came up with it a day or two before the big event.  So I held my list waiting for WrestleMania 32 to roll around.  Admittedly I've made a couple of minor tweaks to the original list and debated internally over the quality of my list.  I invited Chad to play along too.  While the lists aren't perfect (he's not in our top ten), I hope you enjoy.  A new blog will be posted daily until March 31, the day I leave for Dallas.

For number 7 Chad and I both picked "The Macho Macho" Randy Savage.  

Savage battled The Ultimate Warrior
Courtesy: WWE
Kevin's thoughts:

My favorite WrestleMania match of all-time is the battle between Savage and the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 7.  His match against Ricky Steamboat at 3 is among the greatest.  Savage beat four men in one night to win his first world heavyweight title.  I sat in the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis and watched WrestleMania 4 on closed circuit with my dad that night.  I became an even bigger Macho Man fan that night.  He went on a few years later to win the gold again, beating one of the greatest in the game, Ric Flair.  I hate that he was on commentary for nine and left shortly after beating Crush at WrestleMania 10.  I wish he would have had that comeback opportunity like we saw with Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and Roddy Piper.

Beating the Nature Boy
Courtesy: WWE
Chad's thoughts:


In my opinion, the Savage/Steamboat battle for the I-C title at WrestleMania 3 still holds up as the best WrestleMania match ever. Add in the “Macho Man’s” title tournament win at WrestleMania 4, matches against Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and Ric Flair and it’s easy to see why Savage is on the list. 

Miss a list?


9.   "Stone Cold" Steve Austin & "Rowdy" Roddy Piper 

8.  The Rock & "Stone Cold" Steve Austin

Thursday, March 24, 2016

MVPs of WrestleMania #8

By Kevin Hunsperger & Chad Smart
@kevinhunsperger, @chadsmart, @my123cents


Last year I had the idea to do an MVPs of WrestleMania blog, but came up with it a day or two before the big event.  So I held my list waiting for WrestleMania 32 to roll around.  Admittedly I've made a couple of minor tweaks to the original list and debated internally over the quality of my list.  I invited Chad to play along too.  While the lists aren't perfect (he's not in our top ten), I hope you enjoy.  A new blog will be posted daily until March 31, the day I leave for Dallas.


Facing Hulk Hogan
Courtesy: WWE
Kevin's pick: 

8) The Rock:  It's hard to argue the success the Rock has had in and out of the ring.  His first WrestleMania came in 1997 as Rocky Maivia and he was the defending Intercontinental Champion, beating The Sultan.  A year later he retained the IC title against Ken Shamrock and a year after that he went into WrestleMania 15 the defending WWF Heavyweight Champ.  Yes he lost the gold to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin twice.  But he beat the Rattlesnake at 19 as well as the iconic Hulk Hogan a year before that.  The Rock came back to host WrestleMania and then face John Cena not once, but twice, including another championship match.  I enjoy his guest spots at 'Mania, but I think the "host" role has been a bit overplayed.  I'm hoping for something fresher at this year's event.



Blooded against Bret
Courtesy: WWE
Chad's pick:

8) Steve Austin:  I really tried to stay away from putting Austin on the list as I didn’t want to go with only names that headlined WrestleMania. However, I can’t deny that without “The Rattlesnake,” during the late 90s, we may be doing a list of Starrcade MVPs instead of WrestleMania MVPs. The match against Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13 made Austin THE man in WWE. Title victories at WrestleManias 14, 15 and 17 established Steve Austin as the MVP of the Attitude Era.


In case you missed any...


9.   "Stone Cold" Steve Austin & "Rowdy" Roddy Piper 


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

MVPs of WrestleMania #9


By Kevin Hunsperger & Chad Smart
@kevinhunsperger, @chadsmart, @my123cents

Last year I had the idea to do an MVPs of WrestleMania blog, but came up with it a day or two before the big event.  So I held my list waiting for WrestleMania 32 to roll around.  Admittedly I've made a couple of minor tweaks to the original list and debated internally over the quality of my list.  I invited Chad to play along too.  While the lists aren't perfect (he's not in our top ten), I hope you enjoy.  A new blog will be posted daily until March 31, the day I leave for Dallas.

Austin beats HBK at WrestleMania XIV
Courtesy: WWE
Kevin's pick:

9) "Stone Cold" Steve Austin:  
When a newly named "Stone Cold" Steve Austin appeared at his first WrestleMania (XII) 20 years ago I had no idea he'd become one of the biggest stars the business would ever see. I had liked Austin from the start of his career and his "Stunning" days back in World Class Championship Wrestling.

But in WWE Stone Cold truly heated things up, really breaking out in his match at 'Mania 13 against Bret Hart.  He "lost" the contest but won over fans everywhere.  He went on to capture the top prize in back to back WrestleManias (14 & 15) and again at 17, beating Shawn Michaels and the Rock twice. Even in retirement, Austin has had an impact on WrestleMania, playing the role of special enforcer referee for matches like Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar and Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. Michael Cole.  I'll never forget his presence at WrestleMania XXX and the opening segment with fellow legends Hulk Hogan and The Rock.  

Piper gets stunned and it's the pits...
Courtesy: WWE
Ironically my pick met Chad's pick in a showdown of sorts at WrestleMania XXI in Los Angeles...

Piper vs. Hogan
Courtesy: WWE
Chad's pick:

9)  "Rowdy" Roddy Piper:  For the initial WrestleMania to be a success, there had to not only be a great hero for the fans to cheer for, but also a great villain for the fans  to want to see get his comeuppance. That villain was “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.  Piper was the perfect foil to ultimate good guy, Hulk Hogan.  The rowdy one may have only won one match at WrestleMania but that doesn’t negate the importance he had for the impact of WrestleMania 1.

In case you missed any...