Friday, June 30, 2017

Foreign Object Friday: Hacksaw Jim Duggan's 2x4

Hacksaw & Gorilla at WrestleMania VII
Courtesy: WWE

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Since it's July 4 weekend, I figured I'd go with a semi-patriotic Foreign Object Friday. It's hard to argue there are many wrestlers more patriotic than Hacksaw Jim Duggan. For decades he has carried the American flag in one hand and his 2x4 in the other. Throw in a "Hoooo!" and a thumbs up and it's like it's 1988 all over. 


2x4 meets Andre
Courtesy: WWE
From time to time Hacksaw would turn to his trusty 2x4 for some assistance in the ring. The most memorable time for this in my 1-2-3 cents was on a Saturday Night's Main Event in early 1988. Andre the Giant was choking Hulk Hogan in the center of the ring. Several good guys rushed to help the Hulkster but no one could break the Giant's massive grip. That's when Hacksaw hit the ring and whacked the broad back of Andre with the 2x4. The hits worked and the Giant finally released the champion.


WrestleMania III
Courtesy: WWE
Eventually, the two would end up feuding and the board was used again throughout their battles. Hacksaw pulled out the 2x4 against other famous foes, including Dino Bravo, Bad News Brown and the Iron Sheik. Hacksaw's first appearance at WrestleMania III including him hitting the former champion with the 2x4.


Hacksaw at the Hall of Fame
Courtesy: WWE
There were times the board would be decorated. Yellow ribbons adorned it during the Persian Gulf War and when Hacksaw was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011, the 2x4 was present and wearing a black bowtie. Foam versions were sold with Hacksaw's likeness at live events in the 80s. To this day, when he makes an appearance, Hacksaw signs small pieces of wood for fans in attendance.



Hacksaw is another Superstar that I've had the chance to meet in person. In 2011, shortly after his induction, I got to interview him at Rent One Park in Marion, Illinois. It was a great opportunity. Every time I'm near a 2x4 I pick it up, prop it on my shoulder and shout out Hoooooo! 


Thursday, June 29, 2017

My managerial Mt. Rushmore



@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this post, let's address the 600-pound gorilla. My inability to edit photos. I do not know how to do Photoshop, but it is on my list of things to learn sooner rather than later. I made the beautiful pic before you thanks to Snapchat. Now on to my managerial Mt. Rushmore. In my 1-2-3 cents Bobby Heenan, Jim Cornette, Paul Heyman and Jimmy Hart are the creame of the crop when it comes to managers.


Various Heenan Family members
Found on allhiphop.com
Bobby "The Brain" Heenan is not only my favorite manager of all-time, but he's on my top 5 of all-time performers in the wrestling business. His timing was perfect whether it was taking a bump or cutting a promo. Even though he was leading guys into war against Hulk Hogan, I could never boo Heenan himself. Sure I disliked King Kong Bundy, "Big" John Studd and eventually Andre the Giant. But I always loved the man behind the Superstars.



In 1998 I had the great honor of meeting Bobby Heenan when he was with WCW. He was just as amazing in person as he had been on TV all those years. My favorite Heenan memory has to be him unveiling the WCW World Championship on an episode of WWF Wrestling Challenge and teasing that Ric Flair would soon be coming to the World Wrestling Federation. 


Heenan and the big gold belt
Courtesy: WWE
I'm focusing on his work in the WWF, but of course, Heenan was successful long before his arrival in New York. He managed AWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkel. He helped "Ravishing" Rick Rude become Intercontinental Champion. Heenan's Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard) and The Colossal Connection (Andre and Haku) won tag team gold. Other standouts include Mr. Perfect, Paul Orndorff and "The King" Harley Race. Bottom line, Bobby was the best.


The Midnight Express
Courtesy: jimcornette.com
Jim Cornette caught my eye when he and the Midnight Express arrived in World Class Championship Wrestling. I had read about him in the Apter magazines before that debut in Texas and despite his antagonizing tendencies, I appreciated the work he was doing. Corny's work on the mic was fantastic and like Heenan, he wasn't afraid to take a bump. The most famous one being (at least that I remember) was at Starrcade '86: The Sky Walkers. Cornette fell from the scaffold and Big Bubba Rogers was supposed to catch the manager but missed. 


Cornette, Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji
Courtesy: WWE
Other memorable Cornette moments for me include the screwing over of the Dynamic Dudes in WCW, the creation of Smoky Mountain Wrestling and his tenure in WWE with Yokozuna, Vader, Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith and the NWA gang. I liked the idea, however, it was crushed out of the gates, no fault to the players involved. I love the fact that I can listen to Cornette twice a week now on his podcasts as he shares memories and a plethora of wrestling knowledge. 


The Dangerous Alliance
Courtesy: WWE
I'm definitely a Paul Heyman guy. Even when Paul E. Dangerously was walking around with a Zack Morris-style cell phone, I liked the guy. But not at first. I didn't like his time in the AWA, but once he arrived in WCW and built the Dangerous Alliance I was on board. Rick Rude, "Stunning" Steve Austin, Madusa, Arn Anderson, Larry Zybysko and Bobby Eaton were the best thing going in the company after Ric Flair left and the Four Horsemen dissolved. 


Paul and Brock
Courtesy: WWE
Of course to be a good manager one has to be good on the mic. Heyman demonstrated that through the years, eventually creating ECW. I popped like crazy when CM Punk dropped Heyman's name on Monday Night Raw in 2011 and then a short time later the advocate arrived back on the scene. He's done many great things and has added some flavor to Brock Lesnar. Heyman's presence when Brock isn't around is exactly what wrestling fans need.


The Mouth of the South
Courtesy: WWE
"The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart rounds out my Mt. Rushmore. Hart is another manager I had seen in the Apter mags. But when he showed up in the WWF in 1984 I became a fan of his. The megaphone and the loud suits set him apart from the other managers in the company. He lived up to that Mouth of the South moniker and drove fans insane.


Jimmy Hart and I in 2006
Courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
Hart's successes include leading the Hart Foundation to tag team gold. The world was shocked when his charge, the Honky Tonk Man pinned Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat for the IC Title. Not only did Honky win, he went on to become the longest reigning IC champ ever. That's a record that holds up some 30 years later. The Nasty Boys, The Natural Disasters, Money, Inc., Greg Valentine, The Mountie and the Funk Brothers are just some of the notables he managed. His face turn and run with Hogan and Brutus Beefcake was less desirable to me as a fan, but I never stopped liking what Hart was doing. I also had a chance to meet Hart in 2006 at a WrestleMania Axxess event. I'm also working to get him the My 1-2-3 Cents Podcast. And don't discount his work behind the scenes, creating and composing theme songs through the years.

This is just the tip of the iceberg on each of these incredible managers. I appreciate what they've done through the decades to make pro wrestling even more enjoyable. Without them, the business would not have been the same.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Carmella is money

Ms. Money in the Bank, again
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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As suspected, Carmella has won the WWE's second ever Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match. This, of course, was the rematch from last week's event on pay per view. Storyline wise the "do over" match was needed because of the interference by James Ellsworth. In my 1-2-3 cents, it's because of the backlash from fans who were upset that a man "won" the first ever women's version of the match.


Chairwoman
Courtesy: WWE
Right now there are plans for me to voice more of my feelings on that situation on any upcoming Positive Cynicism podcast with Chad, so I'll save all it for that show in the coming weeks. However, WWE made the right decision banking on Carmella. Admittedly she's one of those characters I didn't think was going to make it after debuting on SmackDown Live last year. When she was first drafted (last I might add) she seemed out of place without her NXT buddies Enzo and Big Cass.

In fact, up until a couple months ago, I was still holding out for WWE to do a reunion of sorts for that trio. But then the genius idea came about to pair her with Ellsworth. The combo has been gold. I'm thoroughly entertained by these two and Carmella has stepped up her game both in the ring and on the mic. I also really dig the money printed gear she's wearing too.


Airborne
Courtesy: WWE
I had picked Carmella a couple weeks ago to win the MITB because I believed her character was most fit to portray the Ms. Money in the Bank character. The build to an eventual cash-in will be amazing and only topped by Carmella becoming the SmackDown Live Women's Champion. She's a classic case of a Superstar I wasn't high on at first and becoming a fan of in the long run. So maybe there's still hope for Baron Corbin...


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I didn't have a 'Ball' watching Raw

Big Baller Brand meets Miz TV
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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There's plenty of buzz online as fans like myself play Tuesday morning booker when it comes to the previous night's Raw. The show this week was at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and early in the day, the announcement was made that the Ball family would be a part of the show. Admittedly, I'm not a sports fan and until I threw it in my Google machine (thanks, Conrad), I had no idea who these folks were.

I say that without meaning for it to sound disrespectful. Lonzo, LaVar and LaMelo were the guests on Miz TV. The segment made little sense to me, but as I said I don't follow sports and fully understand WWE likes to have celebrities on the show that will get mainstream coverage. The Balls are obviously well known in LA so I'm not hating on the celebrity guest appearance.
LaVar vs. The Miz???
Courtesy: WWE
During the course of the segment, LaVar went a little crazy, taking off his shirt and running around the ring. I think it was Corey Graves who said it, the segment went off the rails. He was referencing Dean Ambrose's appearance, but in my 1-2-3 cents, it was also an acknowledgment of the youngest Ball who repeated a racial slur that made air. 

The Ball Family reacts
Courtesy: WWE
I've been trying to keep things more positive on this blog, so I apologize for the negativity attached to this post. I just thought the Miz TV segment was a huge waste of time and didn't do anything to advance a storyline on Raw. Honestly, (and again I'm playing Tuesday morning booker), I would have just had Lonzo or LaVar serve as a special guest referee for the night. Let them come out, get a pop and perform a useful function. However, as stated in the open, the segment captured plenty of attention on social media and in some mainstream media circles, so in that regard, it's mission accomplished.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Can Shaq make an impact on Impact?

Shaq & Hulk Hogan in TNA in 2012
Courtesy: Impact Wrestling

By
Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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There's some buzz this week that NBA Legend Shaquille O'Neal will be making an appearance at the upcoming Slammiversary pay-per-view for Impact Wrestling. At this point, it's just a rumor and is based on a recent comment by Jeff Jarrett. He promised "the most powerful, influential resident of Orlando, Florida" will be associated with the event. Some wrestling sites are betting on Shaq.

Shaq & Big Show standoff
Courtesy: WWE
It does make sense. Shaq is a huge celebrity and does indeed live in Orlando. He's got a history with being involved in professional wrestling, dating back to the WCW days. Shaq was in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32 and was rumored to be facing The Big Show at this year's WrestleMania in Orlando, but the deal fell through. Plus he appeared on an Impact episode, promising Hulk Hogan he had his back against Aces & Eights.

John Cena & Shaq
Courtesy: WWE
Now to answer the question of this post, can Shaq make an impact on Impact? Of course, he can. I'm not going to hate on Impact or Jarrett for wanting to bring in a big name celebrity to spice up the show. WWE has been doing this for decades with everyone from Mr. T to Snooki. And as Impact continues to reboot and rebuild, this could be the shot in the arm the doctor ordered.


I have no idea if Shaq will wrestle. From a marketing and branding standpoint, I'd certainly start getting the word out now what his involvement is going to be. Yes, there's always fun in the surprise, but if you're looking for buy rates and mainstream coverage, in my 1-2-3 cents, Impact should be letting the world know they've got one of the most iconic basketball players of all-time on their show. And since the show is six days away, the time to start promoting the big name appearance has come.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

The 5 best main stream songs associated with wrestling

Iceman King Parsons & Kerry Von Erich
Courtesy: WWE
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Long before Jim Johnston started composing music for the WWE or before Superstars sang their own theme songs on The Wrestling Album and Piledriver, wrestlers would come out to mainstream music. Michael Hayes is often credited with being the first to come to the ring with music, or at least rock music. Then, of course, the whole "Rock 'n Wrestling" connection happened a short time later and neither industry was the same again.

Here are my five favorite songs from the radio that were made even more popular by the wrestlers (or companies) who used them. By the way, these are in no particular order.



1. Another One Bites the Dust. Before he belted out "Grab Them Cakes" on the first Wrestling Album, Junkyard Dog used to come to the ring to this hit by Queen. It's been more than 30 years since that happened, but I still think of the Dog and his post-match ritual of dancing with the fans on Superstars of Wrestling. 



2. Tom Sawyer. Growing up, Kerry Von Erich was my absolute favorite wrestler. He was the Modern Day Warrior, so it only made since he came to the ring to Rush's Tom Sawyer, with the opening line "Modern day warrior mean mean stride..." I still think of those crowded shows at the Dallas Sportatorium as Kerry would get mobbed making his way to the ring as the song blasted over the PA.



3. Carry On My Wayward Son. This is the theme song of former Stride Pro Wrestling Champion Ax Allwardt. He's used it for as long as I've known him, which dates back to All American Pro Wrestling shows I attended in 2008. Now he's got a tag team partner in Scott Phoenix and as Stride Pro Wrestling tag team champs, they've changed their tune to Rock You Like a Hurricane, another classic hit from my childhood. But it's Kansas that gets the nod for this list as well as Ax for keeping the 80s alive when he steps into the ring.



4. Obsession. Saturday Night's Main Event was a huge deal to me growing up. I would check the TV Guide religiously hoping a new episode would be on. After the Superstars who would be wrestling that night would cut a quick promo, the sweet sound of a synthesizer would take over and clips of my favorite Superstars would play. 



5. Take Me Home. And then after that 90-minute rollercoaster ride of wrestling emotion, Phil Collins would wrap things up. Take Me Home would play as the pics or video from the night would recap and the credits would role. To this day, I love the song but hearing it made me sad early Sunday morning as I knew it would be weeks until another SNME would be on.

What say you? What are your favorite mainstream hits to make it to the wrestling world? Weigh in here or on Facebook.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

3 Tag team breakups I hated to see

Big Cass kicks Enzo
Courtesy: WWE

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Earlier this week, one of WWE's most popular tag teams came to an end. Big Cass put the big boot to Enzo and in an instant, the longtime partners were through. The action reminds me of when three of my favorite tag teams came to an end.


Sweet chin music
Courtesy: WWE
Perhaps the most famous tag team breakup is the Rockers. In 1992 it was clear Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty were not feeling it anymore. A split had been teased for months, and finally, Shawn had enough and threw Marty through the window on the Barbershop segment. I enjoyed the Rockers as a tag team, but allowing Shawn to launch a singles career is one of the best moves WWE ever made. Adopting the HBK persona and attitude has put Shawn Michaels near the top of many fans' lists of favorites.


Mega Powers explode!
Courtesy: WWE
The Mega Powers were destined to split up. The one time enemies became quick allies when "Macho Man" Randy Savage was being abused by The Honky Tonk Man and the Hart Foundation. Suddenly, with the urging of Elizabeth, Hulk Hogan made the save. The WWF's top two guys became fast friends and tag team partners. The relationship lasted roughly 18 months before the Mega Powers exploded. The buildup and breakup of these two will go down as one of the best angles devised by WWE.


Bulldogs end!
Stampede Wrestling 
Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid are still my favorite tag team of all time. The British Bulldogs teamed for a few years in WWF before heading back to the Stampede area. It was there that Kid turned his back on Davey Boy ending that duo. I never saw this play out on TV but read about it in the Apter mags as a teenager. In the long run, this too worked out well, at least for Davey Boy Smith. He would come back to the WWE a few times, winning the European, Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships. 

I love tag team wrestling. But I know there are times when it's necessary to split up teams and let the singles go on to bigger and better things. It's expected that Big Cass will be the big star of the most recently torn up tandem. Hopefully, Enzo finds success too, I really think he'd make a great manager/mouthpiece for someone.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Foreign Object Friday: Rick Martel's Arrogance

The Model
Courtesy: WWE
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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In the early and mid-80s, Rick Martel was the personification of 'white meat babyface.' He was the AWA World Heavyweight Champion around the time I started my wrestling fandom. In late 1986 or early 87, he and Tom Zenk headed to the WWF. The duo was known as the Can-Am Connection. They were wildly popular, but Zenk left abruptly and Tito Santana filled the void and the tandem was known as Strike Force.

Strike Force
Courtesy: WWE
They worked well together and even beat the Hart Foundation for the WWF Tag Team Championships. But it was villainous actions of Mr. Fuji that cost the team their titles to Demolition at WrestleMania IV. Then Ax and Smash injured Martel and he ended up on the shelf for quite a while.

By WrestleMania V, Martel and Santana were back together and facing the Brain Busters. There was a miscommunication during the match and Martel left in a huff, leaving Tito to face a two-on-one challenge. He couldn't overcome it and Strike Force lost in their much-anticipated return.

Martel & Slick
Courtesy: WWE
That's when Martel dropped the ultra good guy persona and became an arrogant jerk. He adopted the moniker The Model and picked up Slick as his manager. I still find that to be a strange pairing, but I digress...

The Model
Courtesy: WWE
The Model gimmick included Martel toting around a cologne atomizer filled with his specially created fragrance Arrogance. He would use the cologne to gain the upper hand and win a variety of matches. The most famous incident involving Arrogance was when Martel sprayed it in the eyes of Jake "The Snake" Roberts.

The blinding
Courtesy: WWE
The Snake was blinded for what seemed like months and the two had their pay off match at WrestleMania VII. They wore blindfolds and fumbled around the ring until Jake finally hit the DDT and picked up the win. The Model continued to carry around arrogance and use it on others, but nothing will top the feud with Jake Roberts in my 1-2-3 cents. 


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Trading Maryse for Dallas & Axel

Pep talk by the Miz
Courtesy: WWE
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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On Monday Night Raw two relationships seemingly came to an end and a new one developed. Enzo and Big Cass have split as a tag team (a bit prematurely in my 1-2-3 cents) and it looks like Maryse has had enough of the Miz. The "It Couple" has had some trying moments over the last few weeks, in large part due to Dean Ambrose. Reports are Maryse and the Miz are through in part because of the similarities of the gimmick with newcomers Maria and Mike Kanellis on SmackDown Live.


The "It" couple as Cena &Nikki
Courtesy: WWE
Last year when Maryse returned to WWE she gave the Miz's character new life. The couple became Must See TV. Their mocking of John Cena and Nikki Bella was the highlight of that feud leading up to their intergender tag team match WrestleMania 33. Even though the two apparently won't appear on TV together anymore, I haven't read anything about Maryse's future with WWE.


The Entourage
Courtesy: WWE
Now Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel are going to fill the role of support for the Miz. The former Social Misfits are now a part of Miz's Entourage. The duo dressed as teddy bears Monday and offered a beat down on Ambrose to pay back the previous week's attack on the Intercontinental Champion.


That face though...
Courtesy: WWE
While I will miss the magic and chemistry we saw with Miz and Maryse, it's refreshing to see Dallas and Axel getting put in a prime role on Raw. These two have floundered for years with different gimmicks and groups. It's my hope they're able to work well with the Miz and spark new interests from the WWE Universe. Both of these legacies are deserving of something more than what they've done over the past year or so, so I wish them nothing but the best. As for Maryse, I'm sure we'll see more from her in the future too.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Do over: Money in the Bank women's edition


Preparing for MITB Part 2
Courtesy: WWE

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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The women of SmackDown Live are getting a second chance to do their historic Money in the Bank ladder match. The first encounter over the weekend ended with James Ellsworth climbing the ladder, grabbing the briefcase and dropping it into the waiting arms of Carmella. 

Returning SDL General Manager Daniel Bryan ruled that Carmella has to hand over the briefcase. The reason: Ellsworth interrupted one of the most important moments in the history of women's wrestling in WWE. The moment will now be "re-lived" on SmackDown Live on June 27.

Ellsworth grabs the case
Courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
All five of the original participants will compete in the match, Carmella, Tamina, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Natalya. In my 1-2-3 cents, Carmella will win again. It makes no sense to take the case away from her and keep her in the rematch. If she cheated and did things that are "unprecedented", wouldn't it make more sense to keep her out of the second match as a punishment? Or perhaps I'm reading too much into it.

The cynic in me wonders if this was the original plan or if WWE is responding to the backlash online. I heard several complaints that a man interfering in the match was a setback for the women's wrestling movement within the company. I don't necessarily agree with that point of view, but I certainly understand it. Remember, it's all a work, no matter how we get to the end result.

Ms. Money in the Bank
Courtesy: WWE
Carmella is the best suited for the Ms. Money in the Bank gimmick. Her character has come a long way since debuting on the main roster and she and Ellsworth work very well together. The promo she cut on the post-MITB SmackDown Live was her best yet. This is just a minor setback for the couple and I have no doubt Carmella will make a fabulous SmackDown women's champion sooner rather than later. You can bank on that.



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

St. Louis Legends WWE forgot

St. Louis Legends
Courtesy: WWE

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I have been hesitant to write this blog, as I don't want to come off as too critical of WWE and I don't want to make the same mistake the company did in overlooking worthy people to be included in the St. Louis Legends segment. I loved the idea and think it's a great way to pay tribute to those who have paved the way. I grew up in St. Louis and watched Wrestling at the Chase and attended shows several times as a kid, so I take this segment a bit more personally than I probably should. 


Larry Matysik and SICW Promoter Herb Simmons
I'm not going to say the men who were recognized shouldn't have been. Instead, I'm going to offer my 1-2-3 cents on how the segment should have gone. Last week I wrote about the decision to keep longtime Wrestling and the Chase announcer Larry Matysik out of the spotlight for this segment. I would have loved for the WWE to not only recognize Larry but also let him call that championship match with JBL, Byron Saxton and Tom Phillips. 


Bruiser Brody
I would have also included a video package featuring the stars who made St. Louis wrestling memorable. WWE's video production is the best in the world. Their team does an excellent job and could have produced a piece that lasted a few minutes honoring those legends. Names that weren't included during the Money in the Bank broadcast like Bruiser Brody, Dick the Bruiser, Bulldog Bob Brown, Gene Kinski, Pat O'Connor, Rufus R. Jones, Mickey Garagiola and Sam Muchnik. These men are in addition to the greats who were ringside and mentioned during the broadcast. 

I never expected a tribute to St. Louis Legends by WWE, but after hearing from SICW Promoter Herb Simmons on Facebook, it would have been awesome of WWE to do something. Again, it wasn't expected, I'm not whining about the situation. What they did was nice, but not complete by any means.