Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My MITB pick is ABC

MITB 2017 participants
Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Money in the Bank is right around the corner and I'm pretty excited because I will be in the crowd that night in St. Louis. It'll be even more fun because I missed WrestleMania this year and I'm going with a group from Stride Pro Wrestling along with my long lost pal Weston. Chad and his nephew will also be there, so it's going to be a fun night. I'm also hitting up the Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard show earlier in the day. But I digress...

I have not picked a winner yet for MITB, I think it's too early to do that. As we know U.S. Champion Kevin Owens, Nakamura, AJ Styles, Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn are the combatants. My title says ABC, which means Anyone But Corbin. It pains me to say that because I have really focused on trying to be more positive with my posts in recent months. But I do not understand the love for Corbin from within the machine. 

Corbin talks, I don't listen
Courtesy: WWE
I have nothing but respect for anyone who becomes a WWE Superstar. But that doesn't mean they're all going to be liked by the fans. Corbin falls into that category for me. His character hasn't connected with me. That's not to say it never will, as there have been past Superstars I didn't like but then became a fan of later. Brock Lesnar, Billy Gunn and Albert/Tensai are just a few. 

Once MITB gets closer I'll expand more on my thoughts of a winner. I hope the rumors of a Baron Corbin push are just that and he does not ascend to the top of the ladder and grab that briefcase on June 18. But if he does, I'll get over it. I survived the Diesel years after all. 


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Building the Titus Brand

Titus Brand
Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Several months ago Titus O'Neil introduced the world to his brand. At first, I was skeptical of the idea, but I must say even with its moderate success so far, I'm a fan. Titus tried recruiting the New Day in the early phases of his brand building mission. Now it appears Apollo Crews is on board.


Prime Time Players
Courtesy: WWE
O'Neil is a talented Superstar in the ring and on the mic. He and Darren Young, under the management of Abraham Washington, were one of my favorite tag teams at that time. But the Prime Time Players eventually turned good and then split up and reunited and split again. Young got hurt and Titus seemed lost for a time.

Now he's on a solid path and I really hope WWE Creative has a big picture idea of what they're going to do with this angle. One thing that always seems to be missing is a strong mid card. The company tends to focus more on the main event players. 


Titus and his kids
Courtesy: WWE
I like Titus O'Neil a lot. His in-ring persona as a bad guy works, despite his real life good guy reputation. I'm also a fan of Apollo Crews, but both guys have floundered on their own in recent months. Hopefully, this new union will move both guys up the ladder. When it comes to the Titus Brand, I'm buying. 


Monday, May 22, 2017

Please don't hinder Jinder

Jinder Mahal wins the gold
Courtesy: WWE

By
Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Big night for WWE fans. I woke up this morning to social media feeds celebrating Jinder Mahal's WWE Championship win. I was mildly surprised he beat Randy Orton for the title because I don't bet against Orton usually, especially since he lost to Bray Wyatt a few weeks ago. However, Mahal won not only his first championship in WWE, but his first ever pay per view match (I read that somewhere, but I don't know if it's true and I don't have the time to research it, sorry.)

Mahal's rise to the top of the SmackDown Live roster has been unconventional, to say the least. He was released from WWE in 2014 but came back last year after the brand split and didn't do much to impress me at the time. He had a mini-alliance with Rusev and Lana. I actually liked the pairing, but they broke up and Rusev ended up getting hurt. I'll be the first to admit I was surprised when Mahal won the challenge to become the number one contender.

Mahal vs. Orton
Courtesy: WWE
But I didn't hate the notion by any means. WWE needs youth and freshness to survive. Mahal has both of those qualities. There's speculation he's in his spot because of the company's plans to expand into India. I simply say, "so what?" That could be a factor in the decision, but I find it laughable when some fans say it's the reason why. Others are pissy that he looks so much bigger than before and is not being tested for the Wellness Policy. Unless you're an insider with WWE and have proof, leave those claims at the door.

While I'm happy for Mahal, I must say I fear WWE Creative will hinder Jinder. Chad texted me earlier and said he hopes Orton doesn't regain the championship Tuesday night on SDL. I hadn't even considered that. Taking the belt away now would reek of the crappy reign Jack Swagger had. The company never fully got behind him. The same could be said for Wyatt's quick run. I'm hoping history doesn't repeat itself and Jinder can continue to grow in the eyes of the WWE Universe. This could also mean big opportunities for the Singh 


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Meeting the Butcher

Meeting Abdullah


By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

A couple days ago, my buddy Heath Hatton invited me to ride with him to SICW (Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling). He had two matches, a six-man tag and he was a participant in the Bruiser Brody Memorial Battle Royal. We talk about the experience in this week's podcast which drops Monday. 

I was excited about the opportunity to go for several reasons. I'd never been to SICW plus I wanted to meet promoter Herb Simmons, as well as the legendary Larry Matysik who was the voice of Wrestling at the Chase and is involved with SICW. Brody's widow Barbara Goodish was there Saturday night as well as WWE Hall of Famer Abdullah the Butcher. All four were very kind and inviting to me as I stayed in the locker room and chatted with the other wrestlers throughout the show.

At one point, I looked around and it was just Abby and I there watching on the large monitor. It was one of the most surreal moments I've experienced as a wrestling fan. I was watching a match with one of the biggest legends in the business. He was pretty quiet throughout the evening, and me being an introvert I dared not initiate a conversation. But it's a memory I won't forget.

Thank you to Heath for letting me tag along and to Herb and the rest of the men and women on the card for being so inviting to me. It was a great evening and I look forward to making the trip again in the future. Oh and look for a podcast interview with Larry soon. We chatted about setting something up. I'll also have an interview soon with new SICW Heavyweight Champion Chris Hargas. Congrats to you!


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Backlash 2017 preview

Orton vs. Mahal
Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin


My TV consumption has dropped significantly in the last week or so. Our rabbit chewed the cord to our DirecTV router, so I missed Raw & SmackDown Live and hadn't finished watching the previous week's shows either. So I'm a bit disconnected but have been keeping tabs online. That being said, here are some quick thoughts on Backlash. And sorry I'm neglecting NXT: Takeover, as I haven't tuned into the program in a while either.  Too many side projects going on... but I digress.

Randy Orton will retain the WWE Championship. I don't think the feud with Jinder Mahal is over yet and with rumors swirling that WWE wants to give him a big push I won't be surprised if he wins the belt, but I fear they're also gearing up Baron Corbin for a run against Orton.

That being said, Corbin will beat Sami Zayn. Then I and half the IWC will scowl.

Breezango will win the WWE Tag Team Titles. I can't believe I just typed that, but they seem to be over like rover right now and why not give them a chance?

Kevin Owens will retain the U.S. Title against AJ Styles. Had they not hot potatoed the belt with Owens and Jericho recently, I would have figured Styles for the win. I still think AJ will win the match, just not the belt.

Nakamura will beat Dolph Ziggler. But I could see this ending with Dolph winning to throw a swerve at the fans and piss off most of the IWC. (For the record, I'm a big Dolph Ziggler fan still.)
Luke Harper will beat Erik Rowan in a 50/50 booking match.

The Welcoming Committee will beat Naomi, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, hopefully after Charlotte turns on her partners.

Tye Dillinger will beat Aiden English.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Foreign Object Friday: Abdullah the Butcher's fork

Abdullah the Butcher & his fork


By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

One of the most sadistic men to step into the squared circle is Abdullah the Butcher. The more than 400-pound Sudanese mad man made a career out of slicing and dicing his opponents. His usual weapon of choice was something we all use every day: a fork.




With a name like "the Butcher", you would expect a violent temperant. Abdullah provided that for decades as he carved up the foreheads of opponents like Bruiser Brody, Dusty Rhodes and Carlos Colon. Gallons of blood spilled in countless rings, not just from Butcher's opponents, but from his own head. It always looked so painful and the scars that were left behind remain. Of course, barbed wire, chairs and other weapons played a role in these infamous feuds for the Butcher.


Hogan gets forked
Until I started doing some background searching for this blog, I didn't know Hulk Hogan was also "forked" by Abdullah the Butcher. The two battled it out in Japan in 1982 and as you can see, The Hulkster (before he was the Hulkster) bled like a stuck pig that night. And one of the few men bigger than Abdullah, Andre the Giant also got a taste of the fork as well.

My fork tie at Hall of Fame 2011
In 2011 I paid homage to Abdullah with my wardrobe choices that night. I secured a fork to my tie for the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony. Fellow Hall of Famer Terry Funk inducted Abdullah that night and I believe it was the first time I'd heard the Butcher speak at a wrestling related event. He always had such a mystique about him, but he's really a gentle giant, or so it seems.



Abdullah the Butcher will be a guest this weekend at the SICW show in East Carondelet, Illinois. That night features the Bruiser Brody Memorial Battle Royal. 



Thursday, May 18, 2017

3 Stars who need to come back to WWE

Morrison, Rhodes, Hogan
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

There are reports that 5 Star Wrestling has offered CM Punk a million dollars to be a part of an upcoming summer tour. That's a lot of money and who knows if Punk will actually do it, but the notion got me to thinking about what Superstars I'd like to see make a return to WWE. After all, the company has mended fences with the likes of Bruno Sammartino, The Ultimate Warrior and Kurt Angle. Who knows, one-day Punk may come back to be enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame, but I highly doubt we'll see him wrestle there again. So who would I like to see come back? 


Morrison in action
Courtesy: WWE
John Morrison was one of the most underutilized guys on the WWE roster. He went from a tag team guy, winning the championships with both Joey Mercury and the Miz to being a fairly well-accomplished singles star, winning both the Intercontinental and WWECW Championships. However, he never seemed to get over that hump so many Superstars get stuck at. I didn't realize he left WWE nearly six years ago. He's doing great in Lucha Underground and with some acting projects in Hollywood. Morrison (Johnny Mundo) still looks amazing and works his ass off in the ring. He definitely left before WWE really started the push for the current product. He could easily come back and work his way into the main event picture.


Cody & Goldust
Courtesy: WWE
Cody Rhodes has only been gone a year but I miss seeing him on a weekly basis. He's honing his craft and only getting better working indy shows as well as TNA and Ring of Honor. I'm loving the "American Nightmare" gimmick. I liked the Stardust character and even the idea of having Cody on one show and Stardust on the other. But he's established he doesn't need the character to get over. Sometimes leaving and finding oneself and allowing the company to see what they've missed out on is needed. Drew McIntyre comes to mind as the most recent example.


The Hulkster
Courtesy: WWE
Hear me out on this last one. Hulk Hogan is a legend in the business. While I don't agree with, nor defend what he said, it's hard to deny the Hulkster's legacy. I don't want him back full time necessarily or even to wrestle. Right now, I'd be content with some guest appearances on big shows and reentry into the WWE Hall of Fame. There's been more buzz that Hogan will return. It's time. He made a mistake and apologized. 

Who would you like to see come back to WWE? There are plenty of other names out there that can be added to this list.


Hulk Hogan merchandise  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

These boots (or shoes) are made for wrestling

Cena's sneakers
Courtesy: WWE

By
Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

A post by a friend on Facebook recently helped to inspire this blog. I don't want to call anyone out, as this person was simply voicing his opinion, something I do daily here with My 1-2-3 Cents and other forms of social media. His post was "wearing tennis shoes or basketball shoes in the ring is so disrespectful." 


Cena's shoes again
Courtesy: WWE
Again, I'm not judging him for voicing an opinion, but it did get me to thinking. My first thought was John Cena. He's not worn wrestling boots his entire time in WWE, or at least I don't think he has. I'd say it's hard to argue that he has ever been disrespectful to the business. Shane McMahon too. He wrestles in sneakers. And what about the men and women who don't wrestle in shoes at all? 


Me & my Nike shoes
Courtesy: Jason Wilkey Photography
I should note when I wrestled, I also laced up a pair of tennis shoes. I did this because I am not a wrestler, but was just having a match so it wouldn't have made sense for me to have boots. Also, I wasn't about to spend the cash on boots for a one time deal. 


Sable & her "puppies"
Courtesy: WWE
At the end of the day, wrestling is entertainment. Sometimes as fans we take it too seriously. I'm guilty of this too. But remember, there has been live "sex" show in the ring. Women have danced topless in the ring. Then there's the beer drinking, crotch chops and makeout sessions that happened in the squared circle.


IRS vs. The Undertaker
Courtesy: WWE
I don't know the point of my rambling. I understand and respect the opinions of those different from mine. But the absence of wrestling boots on a character in a show is far from disrespectful. Should there be a dress code? Costumes and gear are what makes characters and gimmicks different. Wrestling in a shirt, tie and suspenders worked for the IRS character. That's just My 1-2-3 Cents... 



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Roman Reigns may be right

Roman Reigns makes his case
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I've had to catch Raw highlights online due to a pet rabbit gnawing away at the cord to the DirecTV adapter. Watching the segment with the five Superstars laying claim to who should be the number one contender got me to thinking. Roman Reigns was first to state his case to General Manager Kurt Angle and may have the best argument for being the number one contender (More on that in a moment).

Finn Balor flies
Courtesy: WWE
WWE has spent the last few years turning Brock Lesnar into a monster. There was that little hiccup against Goldberg, but that notwithstanding, it's hard to find someone able to unseat the Universal Champion. I like Finn Balor a lot and think he will get a run once again with the gold, but I just don't see him being able to conquer someone the size of Lesnar. Lesnar had trashed the Big Show, Undertaker and John Cena in the same calendar year. I know I've said before size shouldn't (and doesn't) matter, but I just can't see Balor-Lesnar being anything short of a one-sided massacre at this point.

Samoa Joe
Courtesy: WWE
I like all five contenders booked for the match at Extreme Rules. If I had to pick the one I want to see win the challenge the most, it would be Samoa Joe. He's got a decent chance against Lesnar, but I'd rather them give him a little more time finding his place on the main roster and save Joe-Lesnar for WrestleMania 34. 

Bray Wyatt, although a recent WWE Champion, doesn't seem viable in ending Lesnar's reign of terror, especially considering Orton beat Bray and Lesnar destroyed Orton a few months ago at SummerSlam. Seth Rollins is great, but I just don't see him getting another run with the belt just yet either. While Reigns has had more than enough time with the main event picture and championship runs, he appears to be the most groomed and prepared for an encounter with Lesnar.

Reigns at WrestleMania
Courtesy: WWE
Reigns made several valid points during his pitch to Angle. He did (seemingly) retire the Undertaker at WrestleMania. And right now I believe him when he says he's the only guy who can beat Brock Lesnar. However, as mentioned, I'd rather see Reigns-Lesnar at SummerSlam and Lesnar-Joe at Mania. But I can also see Braun Strowman getting involved somewhere down the line when he's back from his surgery. No matter what though championship win by Reigns should include a full fledge turn and that could be the set up for him and Balor down the road. They're 50/50 against each other now...

No matter what you think of the current product, it's hard to deny things are very, very interesting in the championship picture right now. I'm excited to see what happens at Extreme Rules.

Monday, May 15, 2017

I never knew... OJ Simpson could have wrestled

OJ Simpson vs. Hot Rod???

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

A new week and a new installment of I never knew... And this one is again courtesy of the podcast, Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard. Bruce and co-host Conrad Thompson discuss the match that was supposed to happen between Roddy Piper and OJ Simpson on the Roddy Piper episode of the podcast. Yes, you read that right, OJ Simpson was going to have a match at WrestleMania XII in Anaheim. 

To set the timetable for you, this was less than two years after OJ's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman were found murdered at Nicole's house. OJ was the prime suspect and went on trial before eventually being acquitted in October 1995. WrestleMania XII was March 1996.

Split screen from WrestleMania XII
The mention of such a match was the first I'd ever heard of OJ ever doing a wrestling angle. You may remember, Piper eventually ended up facing Goldust in a Hollywood Backstage Brawl. During the course of the match, Piper hops into a white Ford Bronco and chases Goldust in his gold Cadillac. The production team used file news footage of the infamous chase involving OJ's white Ford Bronco along an LA freeway.

Prichard explains on the podcast that once the idea got out that the plan was for Piper to "beat the s--- out of OJ," the ex-NFL star's people declined the offer. Add to the negative reaction many outside the WWE had given the idea, it was safe to say it wasn't going to happen. There was a real fear that sponsors would pull ads at a time WWE was struggling to stay competitive with WCW.

Goldust vs. Piper
Courtesy: WWE
It's for the best that this match never happened. True, OJ was never convicted of the murders, but the court of public opinion had already tried and convicted him. Less than a year after the proposed match, Simpson was found liable in a wrongful death suit filed by the Brown and Goldman families.

I wonder how fans would have received the match and what backlash WWE would have suffered as a result. My gut tells me this would have been a disaster and not helped in the battle with WCW.





Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cyndi Lauper's Mother's Day Party


Cyndi Lauper's Mother's Day Party
Courtesy: WWE Network
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I've been a bit nostalgic this week with my wrestling blogs. Since Monday I've written about Bobby Heenan & Brother Love, Bruiser Brody, Terry Funk, Kevin Von Erich and the very first Saturday Night's Main Event. I'm keeping the trend alive for today's Mother's Day post. It was that first SNME that aired in May 1985 that featured a segment honoring the moms of some of the WWF Superstars.


Junkyard Dog & his mom
Courtesy: WWE Network
Cyndi Lauper was at the top of the music charts at the time and had become involved in the Rock 'n Wrestling Connection, seconding Wendi Richter in her feud against the Fabulous Moolah. Before the party started, Richter successfully defended the WWF Women's Championship against Moolah and Junkyard Dog beat Pete Doughtery. JYD's mom, Bertha, was ringside for the match. She got in the ring and celebrated after Dog's victory. Hulk Hogan had also dedicated his championship defense to his mother.


Freddie Blassie & his "mom"
Courtesy: WWE Network
Then it was party time. For some reason, Iron Sheik, Nikolai  Volkoff and Freddie Blassie were invited. Blassie's "mom" Laura was a woman young enough to be Blassie's daughter. Hulkster's mom, Ruth was there too. Cyndi's mom, who was in several of the music videos was on hand. Moolah came in and crashed the celebration. Keep in mind there's a large cake in the shot and you know where that's headed. Moolah insulted Cyndi and her mom Catrine. The mother and daughter along with Richter lunged at the former champ knocking her and "Mean" Gene into the cake. 


Moolah and Mean Gene
Courtesy: WWE Network
Segments like these became commonplace on Saturday Night's Main Event. It definitely was a mix of sports and entertainment and as cheesy as it was, I miss those days, a lot. 


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Remembering Bruiser Brody

Brody!


By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I'm old enough to have had the chance to watch Bruiser Brody wrestle. My fandom started in 1983, about five years before Brody's life came to a tragic end. But in those five years, I'm flooded with many great memories of one of the toughest wrestlers to walk the planet. 


Husk! Husk! Husk!
Most of the work I recall from Brody happened in World Class Championship Wrestling and the AWA. He would come to Texas and team up with the Von Erichs in their battles with Skandor Akbar's Devastation Incorporated. Brody would go toe to toe with beasts like Kamala and eventually Abdullah the Butcher among others. It was funny because he was the bad guy in the AWA under the management of Sheik Adnan-al Kaissie



A week after attending my first professional wrestling show (WWF in Dec. 1984), we took in our first NWA event. Ric Flair defended the championship against Brody. Until recently I had no idea the match was online. The two battled to a bloody no-contest and Flair walked out with the gold. This was before my appreciation for the "Nature Boy" was found so I was disappointed with the outcome. 


Butcher vs. Brody
Besides Flair, I'd argue Abdullah the Butcher was Brody's biggest rival in the business. The two carved each other up with foreign objects, including the Butcher's famous fork, in promotions around the world. Both of their foreheads looked like road maps after their years against each other in the ring.



This Saturday night, May 20, SICW celebrates the life of Brody with a memorial battle royal. His widow, Barbara Goodish, will be on hand as well as Abdullah. The event is also the celebration of the 58th anniversary of Wrestling at the Chase, a show that was a staple in our home on Sunday mornings for many years. 


Brody
Courtesy: Prowrestlingstories.com

Brody's life ended way too soon, but I'm grateful for the time he was here and having the chance to go back and watch his work. No doubt he influenced plenty of men in the ring, including John Nord, Mick Foley and Luke Harper. Even Daniel Bryan wore "Brody boots" at WrestleMania XXX. Hopefully sooner rather than later Brody will take his rightful spot in the WWE Hall of Fame.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Foreign Object Friday: Terry Funk's branding iron

Terry Funk
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

When Terry Funk debuted in the WWF in 1985 he came with more than his traditional cowboy hat. The tough Texan toted a branding iron to the ring, along with his manager Jimmy Hart. The end of the iron had two crosses, representing Funk's residence of the Double Cross Ranch.

Funk leaves his mark
Courtesy: WWE

My memories of the branding iron include Funk using it to mark his opponents after a match. This paved the way for Jake "The Snake" Roberts to allow Damien to slither over opponents, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake to cut the hair of his fallen foes and "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase to stuff cash into the mouths of his Million Dollar Dream victims. 


Funk brands Hogan
YouTube/WWE
Even big names were branded by Funk. One night WWF Champion Hulk Hogan got the treatment. This lead to a feud between the two. Funk had also been battling the ever popular Junkyard Dog and once Dory Funk, Jr. was brought in, the brothers battled JYD and Hogan several times. The two teams clashed in the main event of a house show I attended in 1986 in St. Louis.

Jimmy Hart gets branded
Courtesy: WWE
Sometimes the tables were turned and the good guy would use the branding iron. JYD lost to Funk on Saturday Night's Main Event. But when Funk tried branding the Dog, JYD fought back and knocked the former NWA Champion out of the ring. During a tug-of-war with the Mouth of the South as the rope, the mouthy manager lost his pants. Hart squirmed feverishly as his butt got branded and the crowd cheered with delight. JYD getting pinned moments earlier no longer mattered.

Look closely there's blue ink on Orndorff's pecs
The branding iron is missing though
Obviously, the branding iron wasn't hot, but it did leave a mark. The same can be said about my LJN action figures. I learned quickly that pressing Funk's iron onto an ink pad leaves a lasting impression. More than 30 years later, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff is still a marked man.

Eventually, Funk's iron did get fired up in "extreme" situations in other companies. And who can forget when he traded in the iron for a chainsaw in the late 90s?