Saturday, September 30, 2017

Cashing in on tag team gold

By Sam Hunter

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Tag teams have come in gone in Stride Pro Wrestling. But one constant for most of 2017 has been the current tag team champions Ax Allwardt and Scott Phoenix. When J. Wellington Beauregard first put this duo together, I never dreamed they'd not only win the tag team titles so quickly but hold on to them longer than any other team has in Stride's history. They were a makeshift duo has made things work.

Cash Borden, Lane Austin and Joey O'Riley
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
Now there's a new team breathing down their necks, who came together on a whim. Cash Borden and Joey O'Riley have proven to be great tag team wrestlers in the past. Cash teamed with Dalton Diamond and Joey and Jay Spade held the Stride Tag Titles earlier this year. Both men embarked on a singles career, but last month found themselves fighting a common enemy in the DR Party.

That match had lasting implications as it was an opportunity to get a tag team championship match. Cash and Joey wrestled like a well-oiled machine. If you didn't know any better, you'd think they had been partners for months, if not years. These two pose the most credible threat to Maximum Overdrive since winning the belts in the spring.

Maximum Overdrive
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
But the champs won't just fall to their challengers. Time and time again they've fought back when it looked like they were down and out. And with J-Wells lurking outside the ring, you never know what might happen. Plus, if the issues with the DR Party have been cleared up, the champs have an even bigger advantage going into this matchup. 

The action comes to Community Consolidated School 204 in Pinckneyville this Friday night. A meet and greet with Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat" starts at 5 p.m. The wrestling action follows starting at 6:30 p.m. Call (618) 357-2419 for ticket information.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fun Fact Friday: Red Daniels

Red Daniels outside the ring

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

More than a year ago Red Daniels became the first graduate of the Stride Pro Wrestling school. In that time, the Carterville native has captured the tag team championships with Jake Capone and wrestled in several main events, including a fatal four-way for the Stride Heavyweight Championship. 

He's now embroiled in a feud with the recently suspended Chris Hargas, which we'll get to more on at another time. Today though, here are three fun facts about this rising star.

Red's band

1. Red played guitar in a pop-punk band called Those Guys and a metal band called Kirkwood Manor. Both groups put out an album each. We'll have to ask him to perform at a show in the future to see if he's better than Elias.

2. Despite his icy exterior, Red has a warm heart in there somewhere. Or at least he did. He coached junior high soccer for two years. It's a sport he also used to play.

3. Red is a man of many talents. He has won several drafting competitions in the past. He's taken those skills to his job at General Dynamics and is even in the process of building his own house with his own two hands. 

Created by Sam Hunter

Red faces Ace Hawkins at the next Stride Pro Wrestling event, Rasslin' in the 'Ville. It's Friday, Oct. 6. Bell time is 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The world according to EC3

Ethan Carter III
From @therealec3 on Twitter

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Earlier today I sat in on my first Impact Wrestling teleconference. The guest was Grand Champion EC3. I wanted to ask Ethan Carter III a question, but admittedly, I'm not sure how the program works and despite trying two or three times, I had no success.

But other wrestling journalists around the world got to chime in and ask Carter questions. Topics ranged from the upcoming Bound for Glory pay-per-view in November to the current product to Carter's time as Derrick Bateman in NXT. Carter has come a long way since his days in WWE. Not only has his in-ring and mic skills improved, so has his look. My question was going to be about the travel involved with pro wrestling and maintaining a workout routine and healthy eating habits. But maybe next time I'll figure out how the Q&A session works.

One of the more interesting questions asked during the teleconference about real life playing a role in his character development. Here's his answer. 

Courtesy: Impact Wrestling
"We are entertainment. Main event angles are sold based on serious and true emotions... There's a time and a place for comedy. I never wanted to be a comedy guy. I want to be a top guy and I am a top guy based on who I am and an extension of myself, I think and I hope." He said he's his own worst critic and works hard to improve himself in the ring.

Eli Drake, Chris Adonis and ECIII
Courtesy: Impact Wrestling 
Carter also talked about being a "face of the company" but also put over the fact that Bobby Lashley and newly crowned Impact Champion Eli Drake are also sharing in that role. He also coined the phrase "beef castles" in reference to himself, Drake and Chris Adnois. A beef castle is a "hunk of a man" in Carter's words and said Patrick Swayze was the ultimate beef castle. 

EC3 signed with Impact in 2013 and has become one of the company's premier players. He is one of the highlights of watching the show as far as I'm concerned.

Monday, September 25, 2017

I can't see Cena retiring

Torch passed???
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Not surprising, Brock Lesnar retained the Universal Championship and Roman Reigns beat John Cena. Now there is buzz that Cena is retiring. I can't see Cena retiring (pardon the pun) anytime soon. But he will continue to separate himself more as an in-ring performer. I'm cool with that. 

As Cena mentioned during Raw Talk, he's 40 years old. He's been going at an elite level for 15 years. The guy deserves a break. When you get older, those breaks become more important, not just for the body but the mind. While watching the match between Cena and Reigns (I knew the result because I watched Monday morning), my respect for Cena grew even more than before. 

Courtesy: WWE
Too many times fans, sometimes myself included, have referred to the 16 time WWE Champion as Super Cena. It's not meant to be endearing, but a jab at Cena's way of always coming back for the win. However, it's Cena's out of ring persona that is truly worthy of the "super" adjective. I've talked about it before, but his work with Make A Wish, Susan G. Komen and other charitable groups simply cannot be matched. Cena has been the face of the company for more than a decade, and it's a title he's earned and performs well.

For the time being, Roman has the torch in his hands. But Cena isn't ready to let go just yet. I'm sure on Raw tonight we'll get an "I retired the Undertaker and John Cena" promo. It goes well with the story WWE is telling for Roman. I don't mind it. I don't dislike either man involved in this. Fans sometimes forget this is a marathon and not a sprint.

Speaking of which, I'm still on the side that Reigns will reign again as Universal Champion at WrestleMania. The story has been building between him and Lesnar for years. They've both beaten the Undertaker at WrestleMania. They've both beaten John Cena in convincing fashion. Even though I'd rather see Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman or the ultimate longshot, my main man Neville, get a crack as Universal Champion, I'm going to put faith in the storytellers and writers within WWE. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

No Mercy 2017 predictions

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Another WWE event is upon us and like I do each time, here are my quick picks. For my full thoughts on the WWE Unverisal Championship match, read yesterday's blog. Bottom line, I want Braun Strowman to win, but I think Brock Lesnar will retain.

Roman Reigns will beat John Cena. I don't necessarily want this to happen. I could even see this becoming a three-part series. I know the jury has been out on their promo war, but I've enjoyed it. However, in my 1-2-3 cents, the company is grooming both men for Cena to pass the torch. I'm just not convinced Roman is the guy to accept it. But I'll keep an open mind.

The Miz will retain the Intercontinental Championship against Jason Jordan. I'm still not ready to accept Jordan as a singles guy. He's being rushed into this IC program with the Miz. Let him simmer more on the mid-card and build up to the IC title after the first of the year. 

I don't like her odds, but I really hope Alexa Bliss retains in the five-way challenge against Nia Jax, Emma, Sasha Banks and Bayley. Jax is a no-brainer for a future champ, but I'd rather see the switch happen in a singles match.

Neville will beat Enzo Amore. However, because of his popularity in merchandise, I can see WWE putting the Cruiserweight Championship on Enzo. Then I will be sad.

Finn Balor will beat Bray Wyatt. Both men are talented and it's hard to pick a winner here, but going by the past trends, I see Balor going further than Wyatt in the immediate future at least.

Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins will retain the Raw Tag Team Titles against The Bar. Again, I like both teams, but I'm not a fan of hot potatoing belts. And it's too early for the inevitable breakup of Ambrose and Rollins.

Elias will beat Apollo Crews. 

Who do you have in this year's No Mercy event? Post your thoughts here or on the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Have mercy, give Braun the belt

Braun as champ???
Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

WWE has done an amazing job building Braun Strowman into a viable contender for the Universal Championship. The big man went from the muscle of the Wyatt Family (a role I didn't give a rat's ass about him in) to now one of the most over Superstars on the current roster. It's been an amazing transition and one that was organic.

When Braun showed up on Raw after the brand split in 2016, WWE really pushed him hard. He killed countless enhancement talent, but somewhere along the way, it felt like he was getting lost in the shuffle. I'm not sure of the exact moment, but it feels like around the time he and Roman Reigns started going at it, Braun started getting more over.

Boot to the face
Courtesy: WWE
I would have never thought I'd say it, but I hope Braun beats Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the No Mercy event Sunday. It's the first time in a long time WWE has cast enough doubt on a match to make me believe the contender can walk out as champion. However, my gut tells me (I don't read the news sites) that Brock will retain the gold and Reigns will eventually be "the guy" again.

It's time for Brock to drop the championship. However, I can still see WWE waiting for that to happen at WrestleMania. Who do you think should be the man to take the title? 


Friday, September 22, 2017

Fun Fact Friday: Tony Flood

Legacy Champion Tony Flood
Courtesy: Steve Belcher

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Tony Flood talks the talk, but he also walks the walk. Flood has been a part of Stride Pro Wrestling since day one. The Northern Saint has also been annoying (most) fans with his cocky attitude. But it works for him, as Flood duped Stride General Manager Sam Hunter, Jerry Travelstead and the fans as he captured the Legacy Championship.

I wanted to learn more about Flood, so I asked him for three fun facts. I also hope to follow up with him in the future for a podcast episode of My 1-2-3 Cents. But for now, enjoy these nuggets of info about everyone's favorite wrestler from Christopher, Alberta, Canada.

1. When most 16-year-olds are getting their first job flipping burgers or stocking grocery store shelves, Tony was taking bumps in a wrestling ring. He started his wrestling career as a teenager, ten years ago.
2. Stride Pro Wrestling fans are familiar with Team Triple X; Jay Spade and Joey O'Riley. But before Spade and O'Riley wowed local wrestling fans, Flood was Spade's partner. The two worked as a team in 2007.

Ladder match
Courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents
3. Despite being the reigning Legacy Champion and one of the best overall performers on the Stride Pro Wrestling roster, Flood is 0 and 5 in ladder matches. I witnessed one of them, the night Travelstead won the Legacy Championship in Pinckneyville. I also saw the aftermath. Both men looked like they'd just survived a car wreck. 

Created by Sam Hamblin 

I respected Flood's ability as a performer long before that night. But the match made me a true believer. Tony has the skills both in the ring and on the mic. However, sometimes those mic skills get him in trouble. In fact, his title is on the line Friday, Oct. 6 against Heath Hatton. If Heath loses, he and Sam will leave Stride. Be sure to join us.

Promo code: MY123CENTS

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cody Rhodes vs. WWE

Cody Rhodes enters ROH
Courtesy: George Tahinos

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I'm going to start this blog off by stating for the record I am a fan of Cody Rhodes. I enjoyed every incarnation of the man in his time in WWE. From his first break teaming with Bob Holly to Legacy to "Dashing" Cody to Rhodes-Scholars and even Stardust (even though I know he hated it). In my 1-2-3 cents, he was one of the most undervalued members of the roster and I'm happy for the success he's found on the independent scene and as the current Ring of Honor champion. It's also my 1-2-3 cents that his wife Brandi (Eden in WWE) was also grossly misused and should have had a larger role in the company. 

Now that you know where I'm coming from, let me move forward. WWE announced this week it's bringing back the Starrcade brand for the first time since acquiring WCW. The last Starrcade event was in December 2000. The title will be a part of an event planned for Thanksgiving weekend, involving SmackDown Live talent. Legends like Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and The Rock 'n Roll Express are also scheduled to appear.

Dusty vs. Ric Flair
Courtesy: WWE
The announcement of the event drew some criticism from Cody and Brandi, mostly being upset that Dusty Rhodes, who helped create Starrcade, wasn't credited and that Dustin (Goldust) Rhodes isn't scheduled to have a match on the show at this point. I understand Cody's emotional attachment to the situation, but I disagree with his point of view. Of course, if I was in his shoes, I might think differently, but I'd like to think that I wouldn't. Also, I don't disagree with him on everything. 

Tag champs
Courtesy: WWE
He's right, it would be nice if WWE included Goldust on the card. However, if they don't, I understand. Goldy is on the Raw brand and this is a SmackDown Live event. Also, Michael Hayes has extended an invitation to Cody to team with Dustin on the show. That would be amazing and I'd love to see them face the Hardy Boyz (I know they're Raw too), but what the hell... 

In my 1-2-3 cents, WWE doesn't have to give credit to the creator or innovator of each concept they present. Dusty was mentioned in the article for his involvement, but not as one of the creative forces behind it. To that point, I don't know that WWE mentions Pat Patterson every year at the Royal Rumble and I couldn't tell you officially who should be recognized for Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series or King of the Ring.

Dusty Rhodes statue unveiling
Courtesy: WWE
WWE has done a lot to honor the American Dream's legacy. There's a life-size statue of Dusty that was unveiled at WrestleMania Axxess a couple years ago. In 2016, there was a tag team tournament in the Dream's honor. There are a lot of Legends, Hall of Famers and contributors to the success of the business that don't get the credit they deserve. I really don't believe WWE is trying to squash the legacy of the Dream or take anything away from what he did for wrestling.

My hope is that one day Cody finds what he's looking for on the indy scene and is able to once again put his talents on display on the global stage of WWE. I respect what he, Dustin and their father have done and continue to do for the betterment of professional wrestling (and sports entertainment).

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Modern day Heenan Family

The Heenan Family

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I'm moving forward with another tribute to the greatest manager in the world of professional wrestling, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Managers have become a much less common part of the business, however, in my 1-2-3 cents they play a huge role and have through history. We know Heenan managed some of the all-time greats, including Andre the Giant, Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and advised Ric Flair. So today I'm putting together a modern-day version of the Heenan Family. 

The monster heel
Courtesy: WWE
Braun Strowman. The Heenan Family always had some big men to back up the Brain. Andre, Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy are just some of the behemoths that signed with Bobby. Strowman has developed into a main event player on his own. I can see Heenan confidently leading the big man to the ring in his upcoming battle against Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. 

The Glorious One
Courtesy: WWE
Bobby Roode. In his current "Glorious" incarnation, Roode reminds me a lot of "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff and "Ravishing" Rick Rude, two mainstays in the Heenan Family. Roode is an excellent performer who is destined for continued greatness in WWE. But imagine if Heenan was there with Roode. I believe he'd manage him right to the WWE Championship.

The Cocky One
Courtesy: WWE
Dolph Ziggler. He's up and he's down. Ziggler reminds me a lot of Mr. Perfect, who we saw Heenan work with as well. The Brain and the ShowOff together would be a great combination. In general, most Superstars these days are expected to get over on their own. Dolph has done that, but a manager can be that cherry on top. That's exactly what Heenan would do in this situation.

The Tag Team
Courtesy: WWE
The Bar. The Heenan Family always had strong tag teams too. From the Islanders to the Brain Busters to the Colossal Connection, the Brain was a major player in the division.  Sheamus and Cesaro have gelled well together as a team, actually much better than I had expected. Both are big, tough and strong and would be excellent at keeping the Brain safe after running his mouth too much.

The Confident One
Courtesy: WWE
Carmella. I debated this choice, but the Heenan Family never had a female member. When I say I debated, it wasn't about putting a female in the family, but instead which one. I originally was going to go with Charlotte Flair, but Carmella has really grown on me this year and in my 1-2-3 cents Heenan could have helped her get over even more so than she has now. 

The Raw Talent
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
Red Daniels. This is another choice I struggled with because I don't want to overlook or leave anyone off the Stride Pro Wrestling roster. There are several men who could have reaped the benefits of The Brain and Red is one who fits the Heenan Family mold as far as being a big guy with a bad attitude. Heenan could have harnessed that aggression and used it to take Red to new heights.  

I love the Brain. I still consider myself lucky to have met and interviewed him nearly 20 years ago. It was a surreal moment and one I cherish now more than ever before. Godspeed, Brain.