Thursday, April 27, 2017

Damn! Ron Simmons comes to CCW

Ron Simmons!
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Consider this my better late than never post. Last Saturday night my buddy Tom Harness and I attended the Cape Championship Wrestling show. The action was great throughout the night. Hollis Giroux won the CCW Heavyweight title in an action packed fatal four-way that included defending champ Brandon Barbwire, Austin Lane and guest Colt Cabana. 

New champs!
New tag team champs were crowned too as Blaster and guest Jeff Cobb beat Farmer Billy Hills and Dell Tucker. The title changed surprised me, especially after the Pinnacle members started playing dirty and handcuffed Cobb to the bottom rope. But what happened at the end of the match shocked the capacity crowd. A familiar theme song came over the loudspeaker and WWE Hall of Famer Ron Simmons emerged. 

The crowd popped like a bag of Orville Redenbacher at the sight of the former WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He cleared the ring and before cutting a promo he worked in his trademark phrase "DAMN!" Simmons then thanked the fans for supporting him through the years. Hundreds lined up at intermission to get a photo with him and the new tag team champs.
Meeting Ron Simmons in Chicago
I met Simmons during WrestleMania Axxess in 2006. He was great. And everyone I talked to who wrestled on the show Saturday night said he was amazing backstage. It was great to see him in person again and hear Simmons speak from the heart and show his appreciation to the fans.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Branding in the wrestling business

Zack Ryder, Mr. PEC-Tacular and Red Daniels
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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In the age of social media developing a brand has become big business. Marketing experts will tell you it's important to get yourself out there in front of an audience and keep followers engaged. This brand building can make or break entrepreneurs, bloggers, social media stars and athletes. That includes professional wrestlers.

My buddy Tom Harness at Harness Digital Marketing touches on the importance of branding for wrestlers briefly in the most recent episode of My 1-2-3 Cents the Podcast. A growing number of wrestlers or Superstars have picked up on branding. This post is about a few who have done a good job at reaching the masses.

Courtesy: WWE
Several years ago Zack Ryder was floundering on the mid card. Maybe even lower than that. He then took to YouTube with his Z! True Long Island Story. The videos worked and soon Zack saw himself getting that push he so rightly deserved. While in the short term the action paid off as Ryder won the U.S. Championship and was rubbing elbows with the likes of John Cena, it didn't take long for WWE Creative to pull the rug out from under the Superstar. WWE took over production of the YouTube channel and eventually canceled the show. Ryder's push disappeared. But he's continued to toil and make some quick comebacks. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for him as he rehabs from an injury.

Makeup time on Tainted Dreams
Courtesy: @tainted_dreams_the_series
Impact Wrestling's Mr. PEC-Tacular Jessie Godderz is a crossover star from the reality TV world, having been on Big Brother. He has done a great job building his brand and helping get exposure for Impact Wrestling in the mainstream. Follow him on Twitter (@MrPEC_Tacular) and you'll understand what I mean. He has several projects outside the ring, including acting, music and hosting. As far as I'm concerned he's currently the biggest crossover wrestler to have never worked for WWE.

Building Stride Pro Wrestling's brand

Local indy wrestlers are getting in on the action too. I'll focus on Stride Pro Wrestling because I'm a part of that company. Established guys like Heath Hatton, Chris Hargas and Farmer Billy Hills are utilizing social media to get their names out there. Recent graduates of the Stride school like Red Daniels and Dexter Roswell are doing well in this area too. They've found characters that work for them and as they get established with the local scene I have no doubt more opportunities will come their way. Stride guys who are reading this, I'd love to help with building your brand too. Just holler at me.

Hanging with Colt
Others who come to mind immediately, include Colt Cabana. He turned lemons into lemonade after being released by WWE and has a successful podcast and still wrestles all over the world. He's making a huge name for himself without a "machine" behind him. And the "King of Dong Style" Joey Ryan took a moment from a viral video and has capitalized on it to build his career as well.

The important thing to getting your name out there is stepping outside your comfort zone. You don't have to sacrifice your privacy to do it either. Make it a habit and part of your daily routine and chances are you're going to see more growth in your following.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Did the Superstar Shakeup happen too soon?

Orton & Wyatt
Courtesy: WWE
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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The question of the day: Did the Superstar Shakeup happen too soon? Short answer: Yes. But since I get paid by the word, I'll go into long form here. (Editor's note: I don't get paid by the word.) 

Owens & Jericho
Courtesy: WWE
I have enjoyed the stories coming out of the Shakeup and my only criticism is it seems to have happened too soon after WrestleMania. Loose ends weren't tied up before Bray Wyatt went to Raw and Kevin Owens went to SmackDown Live. Because of this, there are now two championships that are no longer on Raw being defended on a Raw event. It's not a huge deal, but when it comes to the brand split and pay per views, I prefer only the big four shows to have inter-brand matches.

I have more thoughts on the upcoming Payback event, but since it's only Tuesday and I hope they're going to add another match or two, I'm going to wait until later in the week to weigh in on those thoughts. Overall though I'm pleased with the way stories are currently developing. I would have waited until after Payback to do the Shakeup. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

I never knew... Kevin Von Erich wrestled in the WWF

Kevin Von Erich vs. Brian Lee
Not sure the original credit, I saw it on @WCCWMemories Twitter
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I'm starting a new feature here on the blog with a story about something I didn't know about. As a lifelong wrestling fan, I feel like there isn't much I don't know. But with the evolution of podcasts hosted by wrestling insiders and the boom in social media, I'm learning there are things I didn't know.

For the first installment, I have to give credit to World Class Memories (@WCCWMemories). They recently tweeted the photo of Kevin Von Erich vs. Brian Lee. At first, I didn't give the picture much thought. But when you look at the turnbuckle pad, you clearly see the WWF logo on it. I never knew Kevin joined his brother Kerry in the Fed.

Heading to the ring
Courtesy: Bud Horne
After doing some research on my "Google machine" I found that Kevin had a dark match against Lee at a Wrestling Challenge taping in Texas. It happened on December 2, 1991. Kevin didn't sign with the World Wrestling Federation, and the article I read doesn't say why. I'm hoping to get him on my podcast in the near future and learn more about this story. We all know Lee went on to become the "fake" Undertaker in 1994 and after that Chainz in WWF. 

This particular match happened six days before WWF came to Cape Girardeau, where I was attending college at the time. Kerry Von Erich, who remains one of my all-time favorite wrestlers, didn't appear on that card. He was wrestling the same day at a WWF show in Los Angeles. I never got to see the Texas Tornado live in a WWF ring, however, I did see him battle Ric Flair for the NWA World Title in 1985. But I digress...

Kerry & Kevin Von Erich
Courtesy: WWE
Kerry was no longer wrestling for the Intercontinental Championship at this time and was facing the likes of The Berzerker and Skinner. How awesome would it have been for Kevin and Kerry to reunite and have a run as a tag team in the WWF? Although good guys vs. good guys were rare back then, a match between the brothers and The Legion of Doom would have been epic. No doubt the Von Erichs could have been top contenders for the WWF Tag Team Titles and would have likely had a run. I know I'm biased, so what do you think? Weigh in here or on the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page and don't forget to like it.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Quit calling wrestling fake

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I've ranted on this before and it seems the time has come to do it again. I have been a wrestling fan for more than 30 years. And yes I know that the outcome is predetermined. What irritates me though is when non-wrestling fans call it "fake". Especially when it's said like this "You know wrestling is fake, right?" or "You know it's not real, right?" 

My chop marks & Masters' busted head
Courtesy: Jason Wilkey photography
As someone who has not only watched wrestling but worked within the business behind the scenes and in front of the crowd, it's insulting to hear this. I've even had a match, albeit for about 15 minutes, but my body can attest, there was nothing fake about what we were doing in the ring. I had red marks on my chest the next day from the chops I took and the guy I wrestled, Mike Masters had his head split open when a chair shot went wrong. The pool of blood in the ring and the six staples required to close the wound are another reminder this business is far from fake.

Injuries from Heath Hatton & "Farmer" Billy Hills
My friend and wrestler "Farmer" Billy Hills posted the pic on his social media after the Cape Championship Super Show. You can see he is clearly not feeling like the action he was involved in was fake. Stride Pro Wrestling Champion Heath Hatton was injured last year in the ring. He continues to nurse nagging injuries that you wouldn't expect from a fake job. He even needed surgery on his head as a result of an injury during a match.

The Walking Dead
Courtesy: AMC
The bottom line is this. I don't tell my friends who love the Walking Dead that the zombies aren't real and no one is getting their heads blown off. We all know there's not a giant gorilla running amok on Skull Island and spoiler alert, Dr. McDreamy wasn't really performing surgery on Grey's Anatomy.  There's no need to remind fans of these movies and TV shows that they're watching something "fake" and there's no need to do the same for wrestling fans. We get it, it's entertainment. I really don't want to see men and women actually beating the hell out of each other.  Thanks for putting up with this rant.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cape Comic Con is layin' the smack down

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Cape Con Snapchat filter
Courtesy: Harness Digital Marketing

Cape Comic Con is in its 12th year. The event has always featured some kind of wrestling element. Legends have come in for meet and greets, including the likes of Terry Funk, Jerry "The King" Lawler, Jim Cornette and "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton (who I met & interviewed in 2015). Some years there have been matches. But 2017 will be a banner year for wrestling and comics. Cape Championship Wrestling is part of two big shows.

Mickie Knuckles wins the trophy
Photo courtesy: J. Ryan Abney (Spooky's Customs)
Friday night, Mickie "Moose" Knuckles won the Girl Fight Luna Vachon memorial tournament. (I had picked her to win on my blog earlier this week). Saturday night (at 7 p.m.) it's the Cape Championship Wrestling Super Show. You can view the full card here, but in addition to the company mainstays like champion Brandon Barbwire, tag team champions Farmer Billy Hills and Dell Tucker and "Sexy" Sarge O'Riley there will be a handful of special guests. Colt Cabana, Joey Ryan and Leva Bates (aka Blue Pants) will be part of the action too.

The Pinnacle at Cape Con
Photo courtesy: Farmer Billy Hills
Stars from CCW will be at the company's booth Saturday and Sunday at the Osage Center as well. I am headed to Cape Con shortly with my buddy iBatman. We will be there through the wrestling show as well. We'll recap the events on Monday's podcast. I'm looking forward to hearing the perspective of a partial wrestling fan.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Foreign Object Friday: Sarge O'Riley's sock

"Sexy" Sarge O'Riley & his socks

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I'll admit I don't know much about "Sexy" Sarge O'Riley. I've only seen him wrestle once, but that will change Saturday night as I head to Cape Championship Wrestling's Super Show. He's part of a six man tag, joining Roscoe Eats Lisa as they take on The L.A. Hustlers and JD Wilks.

In doing some research for this big event, I learned that like Mankind and Santino Marella, Sarge also has used a sock from time to time to help in the ring. It's not the usual weapon of choice which makes it a fun one to feature on Foreign Object Friday.

As you can see in the photo, Sarge likes the funky variety of socks. He also keeps more than one on standby. Fans get into the action by chanting "Sexy Socko!" I don't know if they're sexy, but as a sock connoisseur, I do like them.

Will the socks come into play Saturday night? Find out at the AC Brass Building at Arena Park in Cape Girardeau. Bell time is 7 p.m. It's part of a weekend filled with fun at the 12th annual Cape Comic Con.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Girl Fight coming to Cape Girardeau

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Look out southeast Missouri. The first ever Girl Fight Luna Vachon Memorial Tournament is coming to Cape Girardeau. It's part of the big Cape Comic Con celebration happening April 21-23. The Girl Fight kicks off the weekend. The show is Friday night at the AC Brase Building at Arena Park. 

Lil Bit vs. Sarah Summers (Stride Pro Wrestling)
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
Eight of the best female wrestlers on the independent scene will be a part of this unique event. Scheduled to appear, familiar faces in CCW Sarah Summers, Lil Bit and Nikki Lane. Indy favorites like Amazing Maria, Miss Monica and Ruby Raze will be joined by former NXT Star "Blue Pants" Leva Bates and former TNA star Mickie Knuckles (who I once ate dinner with at Applebee's many years ago).

Mickie Knuckles
Courtesy: Mickie "Moose" Knuckles Facebook page
All eight of these women are highly talented and have what it takes to win this tournament. I've had a chance to see half of these competitors in action through the years. And picking a winner is not easy. But Mickie Knuckles has to be a favorite here. As Jim Ross would say, she's tougher than a two dollar steak and just as fearless. I know it's cliche, but the real winners will be the fans. They will witness eight of the best who will do what it takes to win this special tournament to honor of the wrestling's most unique and iconic women in Luna Vachon.

After the winner is crowned, Final Drive and Eurydice will take the stage and perform a concert. Tickets for both shows are just $10. Head here for more details. And come back the next night for the CCW Super Show.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hooray for Bollywood

Randy Orton addresses Jinder Mahal
Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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To say SmackDown Live this week was full of surprises would be an understatement. This is going to come off as a backhanded compliment, but I am trying to be sincere in my words. The Six-Pack Challenge for the number one contender to the WWE Championship was filled with men I would have never thought of in the main event scene. No offense to Mojo Rawley, Erick Rowan and Jinder Mahal, I just didn't have them on that level. But I am looking forward to seeing what's in store for Mahal.

"The Bollywood Boyz" help Jinder

The former member of 3MB won the challenge and will face the champ at the May event Backlash. I like that the Bollywood Boyz (I'm not sure that's what they'll be called on the main roster) helped Mahal pick up the win. The Indian Royal has never really been given a shot and actually has floundered a great deal since returning to WWE last year. The addition of the Boyz gives the SmackDown Live tag team division some new life as well.

Mahal beats Zayn
Courtesy: WWE
I don't expect Mahal to win the gold in his first attempt. But I do hope WWE Creative does something over the next month to build him up as a credible contender for the championship. SDL lost some big names to Raw in the Superstar Shakeup so the blue brand is in a rebuilding mode.  Not only did The Miz, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt all leave, but John Cena is on a break and Rusev is out injured. Development of new top tier guys is needed ASAP.

I had hoped AJ Styles would be named number one contender, but I'm looking forward to his battle with Kevin Owens (assuming he retains against Chris Jericho at Payback). There's also the assumption that Orton will beat Wyatt on the same card (still not sure why the SDL top belt is being defended on a Raw event). 

Once again I'll sit back and enjoy the ride and look forward to being live in the crowd at Money in the Bank. It's only two months away, but the entire complexion of the SDL roster could be completely different in that short time. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Brains beat out brawn this time

Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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The Superstar Shakeup is already proving to be good for the Raw Women's Division. The Fatal Fourway match for the number one contender to the Women's Championship added two new faces to the mix. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James recently joined the roster after being a big part of the division on SmackDown Live. Those ladies joined Nia Jax and Sasha Banks to find who would be the number one contender to Bayley's championship.

I fully expected Banks to win and set up an eventual heel turn against her best friend, but I was pleasantly surprised when that was not the way the match went down. In the closing moments, the ever dominant Jax took out James by using Banks as a battering ram. She then sent Banks to the mat with a thunderous Samoan Drop. But before she knew what happened, Bliss recovered from outside, dropkicked Jax and sent the Samoan Superstar to the floor. Bliss took the opportunity to then pin Banks and officially take her rightful place as the number one contender.

Kick to the face
Courtesy: WWE
The execution of the finish was brilliant and I look forward to seeing what all Bliss can do on Raw. Honestly, I didn't pay much attention to her on NXT, but when she was drafted to SmackDown Live I took notice. But couldn't you, after she won the championship on the blue brand twice. I liked it last week when she immediately called out Bayley and then backed it up by winning the Fatal Fourway. Next step comes at Payback and the crowning of a new Raw Women's Champion. I'm sure that'll leave some people blissed off...

Monday, April 17, 2017

WWE's history at the Show Me Center

Cheryl Roberts vs. Rick Rude (Show Me Center)
Courtesy: WWE

Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Easter Sunday 2017 WWE returned to the Show Me Center. Because of my work schedule, I was not able to make the hour-long drive to Cape Girardeau to see Randy Orton retain the WWE World Championship against AJ Styles and Bray Wyatt. But by attending Southeast Missouri State University, I attended several WWE house shows in the early and mid-1990s.

My first WWE show at the Show Me Center
December 1991
My first show I watched Roddy Piper battle Ric Flair. I've seen Bret Hart defend the WWE Championship against Papa Shango and Randy Savage face Razor Ramon. I witnessed Shawn Michaels retain against Mankind, Sid battle Goldust and an up and coming Steve Austin in the curtain jerker against "The Stalker" Barry Windham. More recently my son and I watched the likes of John Cena, Triple H and The Big Show do their thing in southeast Missouri. I even met and interviewed The Miz at the SMC prior to a live event in 2010.

Cheryl and Rude
Courtesy: WWE
However, one of the most memorable storylines from the late 80s was actually recorded in Cape Girardeau. It wasn't until I moved to southern Illinois and talked with some friends who were there that I realized the incident happened here. It was 1988 and in the post-WrestleMania IV era of wrestling.

Cheryl says "no"
Courtesy: WWE
"Ravishing" Rick Rude had just beaten an enhancement talent and a beautiful woman in the crowd caught his eye. He wanted her to accept his "Rude Awakening" which involved a kiss in the middle of the ring. The woman objected, which had never happened before. When pressed as to why she explained her husband was a WWF Superstar. Rude balked and grabbed the woman by the wrist. That's when Jake "The Snake" Roberts sprang into action and protected the honor of his wife.

This lead to a great feud between Rude and Roberts. Cheryl Roberts became the centerpiece for the battle and gave Rude a snap to the face a time or two during the war. I find it very cool that this all happened in a small town (comparatively) speaking like Cape Girardeau. I never knew WWE did TV tapings at the Show Me Center. That building holds an iconic part of wrestling history.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy WWEaster

Undertaker as an Easter egg
Courtesy: Black Sports Online
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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It's Easter, I'm all-in for the blogging streak here and I'm trying to make My 1-2-3 Cents a wrestling blog only (go to Kevin HunsBlogger for the other stuff). So today is the best I could muster for a wrestling/Easter themed post. I apologize in advance, but thank you for reading this on the holiday no less.

Easter Bunny meets the "Macho Man"
First up is the picture I found online of "Macho Man" Randy Savage and the Easter Bunny. Doing some late night research on Easter eve (I know it's not a real thing), I came up short in trying to figure out what the heck the story is behind the photo. Judging by Savage's look in the pic, I'm guessing this was during his time with WCW. Google has failed me in discovering any other details. It's a neat picture and one I've never seen before, despite the fact that it has to be at least 20 years old. 

They're here...
Courtesy: Black Sports Online
 I came across a site with some really cool artwork focusing on WWE Superstars transformed as Easter eggs. There's everyone from the New Day to John Cena to the Wyatt Family and the Undertaker on the site. You can see all the designs on Black Sports Online

The Ultimate Easter egg
Courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
Those photos are much better than my 2014 attempt at a Superstar inspired Easter egg. I decorated an egg that year in memory of the Ultimate Warrior who had died 12 days earlier. My skills may be lacking, but the sentiment was there none the less. 

Did the Easter Bunny leave you anything wrestling related this year? WWE is performing in Cape Girardeau later this evening (Easter night). I won't make it there for the show, but I will be at Cape Championship Wrestling this upcoming Saturday for the company's Super Show. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Should the Shield reunite?

The Shield
Courtesy: WWE

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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In the recent era of professional wrestling, there are three things you can bet WWE fans will speculate on. If WWE is in the Chicago area, CM Punk will be on the show. The Undertaker and Sting will face off at the NEXT WrestleMania. And the Shield will reunite. I think the third option is the most likely to happen, but doubt there will ever be a more than a one-time reunion between Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose.

Don't get me wrong, the Shield was one of the best things to happen to WWE in late 2012. The trio shook things up and brought about some positive change in how WWE viewed the talent at NXT. I do wish the three would have stayed together as a unit a bit longer, but the execution of Rollins turn was perfect.

In breaking up the Shield, I liked that WWE didn't do what WCW did with the NWO decades ago by adding new members and growing the group. The Shield will always be remembered as that core three, Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose.

Rollins vs. Triple H
Courtesy: WWE
Now that all three men are back on Raw the speculation has already started that they'll team again. While I'm not opposed to it happening, I just can't see it being a priority right now. Reigns is enjoying the rub of beating the Undertaker, Rollins dethroned the "King of Kings" Triple H and Ambrose is busy with the Intercontinental Championship.

Undertaker vs. Reigns
Courtesy: WWE
That being said, it would make sense to bring the boys back together to help Roman in his battle with the nasty and vile Braun Strowman. But unless he gets a couple of allies, it would look more like the Shield bullying the big man. At one time, Roman Reigns was the darling of the group and fans cheered him. If WWE wants to make him THE good guy and face of the company, it might not be a bad idea to reunite the Shield and get that rub once again.

Ambrose as IC champ
Courtesy: WWE
All three former members of the Shield are talented Superstars and have bright futures in the company. I'm glad to see Ambrose on Raw because it felt like he was getting lost in the shuffle of SmackDown Live. I hope WWE Creative puts more emphasis on the IC title and Ambrose is a featured player on Raw in the weeks and months ahead.