Thursday, November 30, 2017

Beard vs. mask

Jose Magnifico vs. Brian Richards
Photo by Steve Belcher
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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No Shave November comes to an end tonight. But for Stride Pro Wrestling's Brian Richards, it could end on December 9th. The enforcer of the DR Party is putting his beard on the line against Jose Magnifico's mask. The two have been engaged in an on-again-off-again feud for most of the year.

When Dexter Roswell and Richards showed up in Stride Pro Wrestling in December 2016, the duo attacked Magnifico. The Mexico, Missouri native was apparently on their short list of people who weren't helping to make Stride great again. Through 2017, Magnifico has battled against various members of the DR Party. 

Richards with the pinata
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
Richards takes great pride in being Roswell's "right-hand man" and the enforcer for the group. He's also quite proud of his beard. After having to sit out at November's show due to his neck injury from the Ax Allwardt piledriver, Richards still got himself involved as Magnifico was battling Arron Brooks. Richards swiped Magnifico's pinata and whacked the masked star over the head with it, setting up Brooks for the win.

Courtesy: Steve Belcher
It was after that last attack that Magnifico, who is one of the most fun-loving wrestlers in the Stride Pro Wrestling locker room challenged Richards to the beard vs. mask match. You know Magnifico is frustrated when he's willing to put the heritage of the wrestling mask on the line in such fashion. That match is a part of the big Buried Alive show on Saturday, Dec 9 at the Illinois Star Centre Mall in Marion. Bell time is 6:30. It's going to be a huge night, so please join us.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Ax will 'smash' Phoenix

Maximum Overdrive's final title defense
Courtesy: Steve Belcher

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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There's an old saying, 'fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Ax Allwardt has been fooled once. He won't be fooled again. At the November Stride Pro Wrestling show, Ax was sold out by not only his longtime manager and friend J. Wellington Beauregard but also his tag team partner Scott Phoenix. The duo was known as Maximum Overdrive and was Stride Pro Wrestling's longest reigning tag team champions. 

Phoenix and J. Wells have pledged their allegiance to the DR Party and Scott and Dexter Roswell are the new tag team champions. I loved the pairing of Ax and Scott. Clearly, Ax and J. Wells had taken Phoenix under their wings and helped him grow as a wrestler. But something happened along the way and Ax got screwed over.

Ax pops Dexter Roswell
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
If you ask either J. Wells or Phoenix, they claim they dumped Ax because of his age. Yes, the Old School Warrior is a veteran of the ring, but there are plenty more piledrivers left from the former Stride Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Champion. Ax is not a happy man. He wasn't ever a happy man, but now it's even worse. He has a lot of pent up rage and anger that will no doubt come through on Saturday, Dec. 9. That's when he gets his hands on Phoenix. It'll be the first time the two have faced off. And Mr. Beauregard better keep his distance, as I'm sure Ax has something in store for his former manager too.

Phoenix "taps"
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
No matter what the motivation was for turning on Ax, the end result won't be good for the DR Party, Scott Phoenix nor J. Wellington Beauregard. That's just my 1-2-3 cents, but I would never, ever bet against a guy like Ax Allwardt. He's not a man to be messed with and that lesson is about to be taught old school style.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The stars of Starrcade

My Stars of Starrcade
Courtesy: WWE
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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WWE is bringing back Starrcade this evening for a house show in North Carolina. And I just listened to the Starrcade 1987 What Happened When podcast with Tony Schiavone and Conrad Thompson. So it's put me in the mood to write about this iconic event presented by Jim Crockett Promotions and later WCW. 

I was always a WWF guy, but I did watch other companies obviously. Starrcade to me was always a big deal but was never really the same after Ric Flair left. Even after returning to WCW, Starrcade had lost its original luster. It may have been because of all the former WWF guys who had come to the company too and the Dusty Rhodes, Tully Blanchard, Nikita Koloff, Rock 'n Roll Express, etc. era had passed us.

My senior year in high school Starrcade '90 came to St. Louis. My buddy Jim and I attended the event which was headlined by Sting and The Black Scorpion in the steel cage. That night was the reveal that Flair was the Scorpion, which most of us figured out when they announced "Nature Boy" was out of the tag team title match with Arn Anderson against Doom. But I digress. Now for a look at who I thought were the Stars of Starrcade.

Flair vs. Lex Lugar: Starrcade 1988
Courtesy: WWE
As I mentioned, I never really felt like Starrcade was the same after that event in '90. Ric Flair had long become the face of the pay per view. He was the main event for Starrcades '83 through '90. He beat Harley Race for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship that first year and went on to defend it or win it each year that followed (90 is the exception when he was Black Scorpion he lost to Sting). 

After Flair headed to the WWF in the summer of 1991, WCW's product suffered (at least in my 1-2-3 cents). It was clear at that year's Starrcade when a new concept was introduced: Battle Bowl. I didn't hate the idea of Battle Bowl but would have rather seen it at an event other than Starrcade. It drug down the heritage of the show.

Flair vs. Rhodes: Starrcade 1985
Courtesy: WWE
Without Dusty Rhodes, there may be no Starrcade. He was booking for JCP at the time the concept was born. He's credited with being one of the forces behind Starrcade. However, I found it interesting Dusty didn't wrestle on the first Starrcade card. Of course in the years that followed, he became a big part of the show. In 1984 and 85, Rhodes battled Flair for the championship. Naitch won in 84 when the special guest referee Joe Frazier stopped the match due to Dusty's bleeding. A year later, it appeared Rhodes won the gold, but the decision would change and Rhodes won via disqualification instead (a 'Dusty finish' if you will).

My third and final star of Starrcade is probably an unexpected one, but it's Tony Schiavone. With the exception of Starrcade '89 when he was with WWF, Schiavone was a part of each Starrcade either as a host, an interviewer or a commentator. He was the voice for wrestling below the Mason Dixon line as they say on his podcast. I definitely did not appreciate the work Tony did when he was doing it back then. Years later as I look back and rewatch shows and listen to his stories about the way things were, I respect him even more.

There are plenty of other names who were stars of the show. Sting comes to mind immediately, along with Lex Luger. The two of them had quite a bit of staying power with the product. The Rock 'n Roll Express, Midnight Express and Road Warriors all deserve shout outs too along with the Steiner Brothers, Arn Anderson, Barry Windham and Tully Blanchard. Of course managers JJ Dillon, Paul Ellering and Jim Cornette are part of that discussion too.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Fun Fact Friday: Stride Pro Wrestling

Current Stride Pro Wrestling champions
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Fun Fact Friday is designed to highlight men and women of independent wrestling. Today, I'm focusing on a wrestling company Stride Pro Wrestling has been around since 2016. The first show was held March 5, 2016. Here are a few facts about this Marion, Illinois based company.

Ax Allwardt wins the Stride Pro Wrestling champion
In the early days, Stride Pro Wrestling was actually called CMA Pro Wrestling as it was hosted at the CMA Dojo in the Illinois Star Centre Mall.

There have been three heavyweight champions in the company. Ax Allwardt was the first to capture the gold (beating Heath Hatton, Frank Wyatt and Tony Flood in a fatal four-way match). He's also the first wrestler in Stride to hold a second title. He and Scott Phoenix won the tag team titles earlier this year. 

Heath Hatton has become the first heavyweight champion to wear that belt and the Legacy Title. His run with that belt was short, losing it back to Tony Flood, who has become the only two-time title holder (of the same championship). By the way, there have also been three Legacy champs.

The tag team titles have had the most holders. To date, five teams have won the gold. Phoenix, thanks to his recent double cross of Allwardt has become the company's only two-time tag team champion.

James Storm at Braving the Storm
Stride Pro Wrestling has raised thousands of dollars for a variety of groups in southern Illinois. Jerry Travelstead has led the way on some of these efforts. Greats like James Storm, "Cowboy" Bob Orton, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and Bushwacker Luke have all helped too. Also, the men and women on the Stride roster give their time for these events too. The next fundraiser show is coming to Woodlawn Elementary on Saturday, Dec. 16.

But before that show, Stride will host the first Buried Alive match in the company's history on Saturday, Dec. 9. Red Daniels and Chris Hargas will go head to head in this battle. Bell time is 6:30 p.m. at the Illinois Star Centre Mall.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Pro wrestling makes me thankful

Pumping up the crowd
Photo courtesy: Steve Belcher

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Last year I kept my Thanksgiving Day post pretty serious as I wrote about all the things I was thankful for in 2016. I am still grateful for all those things, so this year I thought I'd write more about the things I'm thankful for in the world of professional wrestling. Yes, I'm going there on the holiday. (Sorry, I'm not sorry.)

Dressed like Farmer with fan Lane Davis
Courtesy: Dave Davis
First and foremost I am thankful to have spent the year still working at the ring announcer for Stride Pro Wrestling. I know there are plenty of other folks out there who would love to have this opportunity and some who would do a much better job with it. But the folks at Stride (both behind the scenes and in the crowd) believe in me. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to see our cheering fans each month. 

Chris Hargas & Red Daniels
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
I love the direction the company is headed in. Stories are being told and talent is being developed. Some of the students are becoming the teachers at the Stride school. It makes me proud to see how quickly they've developed and connected with the fans. I'm happy to call many of the men and women of Stride Pro Wrestling my friend and welcome them onto the My 1-2-3 Cents podcast as well as feature them regularly here on the blog.

This has also been the year of developing new friendships in the wrestling world. Some of my new friends I haven't met in person (I know that sounds weird to say 'friends'), but I enjoy communicating with them via social media. Some of the crew at Podzilla 1985 I have had the chance to meet and chat with each month at Stride shows. Others I look forward to meeting in the new year. I've also had a good time growing a relationship with the guys at Skullbuster Wrestlecast and Tom & Jim's Top Five. Chad actually turned me on to both of those podcasts and I consider it appointment listening each week.

Check out
Speaking of podcasts, I'm thankful to still be a part of the Jittery Monkey Podcasting Network. Greg Mehochko asked me to join three years ago. Episode one drop on Dec. 9, 2014. I appreciate everyone who has listened, shared or been a guest on the show. I'm working on some big things for the My 1-2-3 Cents brand in 2018 and I hope you'll all continue to support those projects too.

Finally, I'm grateful for the new opportunity to be a sponsored athlete with COLLARxELBOW brand. I still think that sounds weird, but I'm excited about the opportunity. You can shop online and save 10% anytime with the promo code MY123CENTS (and Black Friday you save 25%).  

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Black Friday Beatdown

A COLLARxELBOW Christmas Story
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@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Soon many of us will sit down to Thanksgiving dinner. After that meal, some of you will head to the store in search of Black Friday bargains. But there's no need to leave the house (unless you're trying to get away from family members) this year. My friends at COLLARxELBOW brand is offering up a great deal for online shoppers.

Promo code: MY123CENTS
Earlier this year I became a sponsored athlete for the brand created by former WWE Superstar Al Snow. Anytime you shop and use the code MY123CENTS you'll save 10 percent. But on Black Friday from 6 a.m. until Midnight (EST) you'll save 25 percent with that code. And anyone who spends $75 or more gets that CxE Ugly Christmas t-shirt. I personally wish those shirts were available for purchase too. 

The first 100 people to place an order will get a free CxE towel as well. Ordering is easy, use this link and it'll take you to the online store. There are a variety of shirts (both t-shirts and baseball shirts), ball caps and stickers. Remember, use the code MY123CENTS and you'll save 25 percent on your order this Friday (Nov. 24). Beyond that time you'll get a 10 percent discount. Thanks for the support.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Rhetorical questions about Survivor Series 2017

Survivor Series 2017
Courtesy: WWE

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Overall I was impressed with the 2017 Survivor Series. There wasn't one match on the card that disappointed me in terms of the performances. But like many fans, I have some questions that likely won't be answered by WWE in the wake of the annual event. 

The Shield vs. The New Day
Courtesy: WWE
1. Why wasn't the Shield vs. New Day match an elimination one? Don't get me wrong, this was an outstanding match and New Day was much more competitive than I had anticipated. That's not a knock on Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E, but Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins have all be WWE Champion. I love the elimination matches at Survivor Series and in my 1-2-3 cents this one could have been one as well.

2. Why did the participants in the elimination matches have separate entrances? As someone pointed out on Twitter, nothing says unity like separate ring entrances. I know I'm being nitpicky and I don't know how often all team members have come out together. In my 1-2-3 cents, teams should be lead to the ring by the captain and with his or her music playing for everyone. While we're at it, go back to the fun team names like The Enforcers and The Rude Brood.

3. Why didn't Triple H or John Cena wear the shirt for their respective brands? At least Triple H had on a red shirt. But Cena wore lime green armbands and no shirt. Come on John.

4. After Randy Orton RKO'd Finn Balor, why on earth did Michael Cole encourage the Viper to make the cover? The whole match was a back and forth between the Raw and SmackDown Live commentary teams. My guess is Cole got caught up in the moment and didn't realize he was cheering for the other team. 

Owens & Zayn attack
Courtesy: WWE
5. Why would Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn attack Shane McMahon? I know why they did it. But logically speaking, Shane will either a) punish them on SDL or b) fire them, effectively sending them to Raw. The last time Stephanie McMahon was around Owens, she snarled at him after he headbutted Mr. McMahon. So it would seem she wouldn't have any use for the duo either. But maybe I'm reading too much into that storyline.

6. When do we get "Broken" Matt Hardy?

7. Why did Baron Corbin win? You all had to know that was coming as I'm still not on board with Corbin and believe that the Miz is really hitting his stride as of late.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

My favorite Survivor Series

Survivor Series 1990
Courtesy: WWE
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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With Survivor Series just a few hours away, I thought I'd share a quick post about my favorite of the 30 events. Let's go back to 1990 and enjoy a stroll down memory lane. I was a senior in high school. George HW Bush was President of the United States and our country was inching closer to war with Iraq. In fact, Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter was making his WWE pay per view wrestling debut. 

Undertaker vs. Dusty Rhodes
Courtesy: WWE
There were plenty of other debuts that night that made this a memorable event for me. The Undertaker was the mystery partner of The Million Dollar Team. Ted DiBiase promised a big surprise that night and boy did he deliver. "Mean" Mark Callous from WCW showed up dressed in black and purple. Brother Love escorted him out very slowly and methodically. He took out Koko B. Ware in the opening moments of the match. Went on to pin the opposing team's captain, "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, but got himself counted out for going after the Dream to inflict more punishment.

Goobley Gooker debuts
Courtesy: WWE
The Goobley Gooker also made his first appearance at Survivor Series 1990. The turkey hatched from a giant egg and was a let down to many fans. Under the mask was Hector Guerrero. Unfortunately (and yes I mean that), the gimmick didn't stay around long but has been brought back over the last 27 years for nostalgia's sake. Chad and I talk more about the gimmick on Monday's My 1-2-3 Cents podcast. 

My favorite Survivor Series team of all-time opened the show that year. The Warriors, led by The Ultimate Warrior, The Texas Tornado and the Legion of Doom battled the Perfect Team of Mr. Perfect and Demolition. You can read more about that here

The main event
Courtesy: WWE
The other thing I liked about this PPV was the ultimate survivors' match. The winners from the previous matches were put into the main event. This is the first and only time WWE has done the match. WWF Champion the Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan and Tito Santana beat DiBiase, Rick Martel, The Warlord, Hercules and Paul Roma. Not surprising, Warrior and Hogan were the sole survivors of that match. The only thing I would have changed about it is allowing Warrior to have that moment to himself. Warrior never really got the chance to be "the man." I understand business wasn't as good as it was when Hogan was on top and that's why he was always close by, but Warrior's ascension to the top was dead in the water before it even started. 

So those are a few of the reasons Survivor Series 1990 stands out for me. What's your favorite Survivor Series? Weigh in here or on the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Survivor Series 2017 Predictions

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Survivor Series is coming up Sunday night and I'm looking forward to this event. The traditional elimination matches have always been one of my favorite things in professional wrestling. Thirty years ago this month the event debuted. It's morphed through the years and I'm glad we're getting at least a couple elimination matches this year.

Even though I'm looking forward to the 2017 event, I do have some criticism. If they're doing the whole Raw vs. SmackDown Live, there needs to be some kind of repercussions or stipulations involved. Last year SmackDown Live won the men's competition, but what does that mean? The show is still referred to as the "B show" by those on Raw. So my hope would be either make the rivalry mean something or just have both rosters on the same card but do Raw vs. Raw elimination matches and SDL vs. SDL elimination matches.

Enough of that though, here are my predictions for this year's show.

Enzo will beat Kalisto to retain the Cruiserweight Championship.

Universal Champion Brock Lesnar will defeat WWE Champion AJ Styles.

The Intercontinental Champion The Miz will beat U.S. Champion Baron Corbin (at least I hope).

SmackDown Live Women's Champion Charlotte Flair will win against Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss. 

The SmackDown Live Women's Team will beat the Raw Women's Team in the elimination match. Asuka will either get disqualified or counted out to keep her undefeated streak intact.

The Shield will beat the New Day.

SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions The Usos will beat Raw Tag Team Champions The Bar.

Team Raw will beat Team SmackDown Live after the Daniel Bryan screw job. (See Thursday's blog.)

That puts it Raw 4 and SDL 3. It'll be interesting to see how the Shane McMahon, Kurt Angle and Triple H involvement plays out. Someone had suggested Triple H leading an NXT team into battle that night, which would be epic, but obviously not happening. What are your thoughts on this year's card? 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fun Fact Friday: Austin Lane

Austin Lane
Courtesy: Dreadhead Kev Photography

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Austin Lane is the reigning Cape Championship Wrestling champion. I've had a couple of chances to see him in action at CCW and he lives up to his nickname "The Best of the Best." After getting some info from him for this week's Fun Fact Friday, it makes sense how Lane earned that moniker.

The champ
Lane says he mirrors his wrestling philosophy from "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. "I make every opponent look like a star and could beat me," Lane recently told me.

Lane and Kurt Angle (yes, that Kurt Angle) are the only two wrestlers to win the Power Pro Championship while being undefeated.

Jerry Lynn is Lane's mentor. He calls the former WWF Light Heavyweight Champion his "wrestling dad" and the two remain close today. 

Lane holds a victory over former WWE Champion Kevin Nash. It came during an event in 2004. 

And not only is Lane "the best of the best" in the ring but in the writing world too. In high school, he won several literary awards and has many of his work published.

Remember you can check out Austin Lane Saturday, Nov. 25 at the final CCW show of 2017. He'll team with former rival Brandon Barbwire as they take on Justin Smart and Osby Tomlin. That show is happening at the Delta Community Center. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Daniel Bryan will turn at Survivor Series

Daniel Bryan
Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Disclaimer: I don't read the dirt sheets or most other "news" sites. I'm basing this blog on my own observations of Raw and SmackDown Live in the weeks leading up to this Sunday's Survivor Series event.

Daniel Bryan will either turn on AJ Styles or Shane McMahon and the rest of Team SmackDown. Here are the cues I picked up on and am probably looking too hard at, but I need a blog today and I hate not posting when I have a feeling like this and it turns out I was right. So here we go.

Survivor Series has had a few incidents when a "screw job" happened, the most infamous being 20 years ago this month. Despite not having had a match for more than two years, Bryan is still one of (or maybe the) most over guys in the company. Turning bad or at least against "his" show would be jaw-dropping. 

He went to Raw alone a couple of weeks ago to confront Kurt Angle. Then the lights went out, Kane appeared and Bryan was carted out on a stretcher. Why was he there alone? He and Shane are usually on the same page, but since the siege a few weeks ago, the two have been at odds.

Bryan's promo supporting AJ Tuesday night came off well. Sounded like he himself would be stepping into the ring. But there was something about the way he delivered it just made me think he's gonna stab AJ in the back. I can't explain why.  

Later that night when The Shield hit the ring along with other Raw Superstars, the SmackDown locker room quickly cleared and joined the battle. As the General Manager of the blue brand, I'd expect to at least see Bryan rallying his roster or trying to fight off the attackers. Since I don't know what limitations he has in terms of taking bumps, I again may be reading too much into his absence at the end of the show.

There's been plenty of online chatter that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will screw over the SmackDown team. In my 1-2-3 cents, WWE knows the fans are expecting it and will go with someone else to make the turn. Bryan would be the most shocking person to pull this off.

Here's the tricky part to this though. I don't see the WWE Universe booing Daniel Bryan. He's just a likable guy in general and if WWE allows him to wrestle again (he's reportedly been cleared by more than one doctor to do so) the fans will go nuts. However, Bryan is hands down the best example of making chicken salad out of chicken sh!t when it comes to WWE storylines.

So in closing, Bryan may not turn his back on the fans, but I see him walking away from Shane and SmackDown. I'm not gonna lie though, if he's cleared to wrestle again, I'd love a Bryan vs. Shane or AJ Styles match at WrestleMania.