Monday, March 27, 2017

Missing from Manias past


By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Ric Flair, Sting, The Road Warriors, Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Terry & Dory Funk, Jr., Kerry Von Erich and the Steiner Brothers. All guys at one point I would have never imagined wrestling at WrestleMania. But each of these men had at least one appearance on the WWE's biggest event of the year. Here are some others I would have loved to see step on the grandest stage of all.

Brody vs. Abdullah the Butcher
Courtesy: WWE
Bruiser Brody is one of my favorites from childhood. When I first started watching wrestling, I remember him well on Wrestling at the Chase and in World Class Championship Wrestling and eventually the AWA. One of the first live events I attended was main evented by Brody and Ric Flair. Brody won by disqualification. How cool would it have been to see Brody come into the WWF in the early years of WrestleMania?

Although had that happened I could see Brody being built up to the point of getting the title match against Hulk Hogan and then conquered by Hulkamania by the end of the night. That wouldn't have been a bad thing either, but something Brody would not likely have been keen on. Of course in different eras, it would have been great to see Brody vs. Mankind or Brody vs. the Undertaker at a Mania too.

The Midnight Express
Courtesy: WWE
One of my favorite tag teams of all time is the Midnight Express. While I liked Dennis Condry and Bobby Eaton, my pick for this blog is Stan Lane and Eaton, along with manager Jim Cornette. The British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation and The Rockers would have all been worthy Mania opponents for the Express. Jim Cornette would later appear on WrestleMania events with the men he managed, but fans missed something in not having Eaton and Lane in the WWE. Now that the Rock 'n Roll Express is going into the Hall of Fame, I hope Midnight Express is on the shortlist to be inducted.

Kharma
Courtesy: WWE
Kharma's time in WWE was short, way too short. Her only match (at least official match) came at the 2012 Royal Rumble. She was a part of the 30 Superstar contest. I was there, so I'm grateful for having had the chance to see her in action. But I think a huge opportunity was missed with her. A Beth Phoenix-Kharma match for the Women's Championship would have been amazing. While I don't see the chance ever happening, she'd be a great opponent for any of the women on the roster today as well. I wish thing could have gone differently for Kharma both personally and professionally.

So who never made it to Mania that you would have liked to see on the show? Comment here or on the My 1-2-3 Cents social media pages.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The best of WrestleMania

Money Inc. at WrestleMania 26


By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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I've been fortunate enough to attend 9 WrestleManias in person. My buddy Chad and I started going in 2006, with WrestleMania 22. We sat out the next year, but resumed the schedule, attending 24-30. We took a break again for 31 and then made the trip to Dallas in 2016. We are not going this year either. (But my hope is to be back in New Orleans for 34.)

I thought I'd share a few of my favorite memories for those past trips, or WrestleManias to be more exact. There are fun times had that have nothing to do with Mania as well.

Flair's last match
Ric Flair's retirement match was held at WrestleMania 24. We were there in Orlando for Naitch's final match in WWE. Despite the fact that he stepped back into the ring to wrestle for other companies, I still hold that match against Shawn Michaels as my favorite WrestleMania match I've seen in person. 

Bryan celebrates

When Daniel Bryan finally overcame the odds and won the WWE World Title at WrestleMania 30, it felt like the start of a new era. His match that opened the show against Triple H was amazing. But then to go into the main event and beat Batista and Randy Orton for the gold was something special. I hold both of those matches in high regard too.

The Beast conquers Undertaker
That same night Brock Lesnar shocked the world and ended the Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania. It was a moment I never thought would happen. You could feel the life escape the Superdome that night as fans gasped in horror. 

Edge's last match
At the time I didn't give it much thought, but the fact that we witnessed Edge's last match at WrestleMania 27 is something pretty special. A career full of injuries took their toll and he surrendered the belt and retired shortly after his defense against Alberto Del Rio.

Hanging out before Mania 22
Nothing in particular for my final "best moment" other than the whole ambiance of being on hand at WrestleMania for the very first time. It was at the All-State Arena in Chicago and the last of the arena Manias. There's an indescribable amount of energy and electricity when in the crowd at any WrestleMania, but since this was the first, it was nothing short of awesome.

A few others to mention, Shawn Michaels' retirement match against the Undertaker, Legends like Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka and Ricky Steamboat coming back to face Chris Jericho and getting the chance to see The Rock wrestle live (I'd only seen him as Rocky Maivia). 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Look to my right and I see the Hollywood sign...

Hollywood!
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Did you sing that title? It's from Miley Cyrus' hit Party in the USA. Seven years ago today I boarded a plane bound for Hollywood. Burbank to be exact. I was going to meet my buddy Chad ahead of WrestleMania 26, which was being held in Phoenix. I got to spent a couple days in LA and then we drove to Arizona for all the wrestling geek stuff.



Our first stop on the way to Chad's place was In & Out Burger. I can't remember the name of the burger we had, but Chad told me to order it that way. It and the fries came topped with Thousand Island dressing. A detail Chad didn't tell me and something I am not a fan of, but I ate anyway and it was actually pretty tasty. 


Then we visited the famous Hollywood cemetery and looked at the final resting spots of actors and actresses. Yes, it's probably a bit morbid but I found it very fascinating. We walked the Hollywood Walk of Fame and then headed to Madam Tussads. I love that place because you can pose and be goofy with all the wax figures. The evening wrapped up at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. Yep, I had fried chicken and waffles together for the very first time that night.

The trip was a lot of fun. Now that my kids are older, I'm sure they'd love to take a trip to Hollywood too. And Uncle Chad would love to have us all. Here are some more pics.

Vince McMahon's star

Alfred Hitchcock

Simon Cowell

The Rock

Charlie Chaplin

Carrie Underwood


Friday, March 24, 2017

Foreign Object Friday: Jimmy Hart's motorcycle helmet

Jimmy Hart circa WrestleMania VII
Courtesy: WWE

By
Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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For years, "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart came to the ring carrying a megaphone. On more than one occasion that device would serve as a weapon and help his Superstars win matches and in some cases championships. But for some reason at WrestleMania VII when Hart showed up with the Nasty Boys he was sporting a motorcycle helmet.

As an 18-year-old fan and nearly a decade of fandom under my belt, I had a feeling that helmet would come into play. Much to my surprise though it was the megaphone that made its first appearance in the match. But it backfired and the Hart Foundation gained the upper hand again. Brian Knobbs was the victim of a Hart Attack and as Jim Neidhart covered the Nasty Boy, the referee was distracted getting Bret Hart out of the ring. 

The helmet is used
Courtesy: WWE
Jimmy Hart quickly tossed the helmet to Jerry Sags who blasted the Anvil with it. Knobbs rolled on top of him and three seconds later there were new tag team champions. As a fan, I always questioned why the refs never questioned actions like this. At one moment the babyface is in control and then when the referee turns back around, the good guy is laid out. But after that's what makes wrestling so much fun. 

Remember this?
Courtesy: WWE
I don't remember now if the helmet was a one off for Hart or if he continued to wear it through the Nasty Boys' title run. I suppose we can throw in Hulk Hogan's classic helmet from the late 80s too when he battled Bad News Brown. Those were the days...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Let's talk about sex (tapes)

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

Sex tapes seem to make or break celebrities. It's been like that for quite some time. Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee became even more famous. And sex tapes are responsible for giving the world celebrities like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. Now a few WWE Superstars find themselves at the center of a sex tape scandal.

Xavier Woods
Courtesy: WWE
Recently a video with former Divas Champion and NXT Women's Champion Paige was released. She is seen doing very personal and private things with former referee Brad Maddox and current Superstar Xavier Woods. It's been reported WWE does not plan to punish Paige nor Woods. Maddox no longer works for the company. I think the decision to not punish the parties involved is a good one. Paige's phone was either stolen or hacked and the videos and images released without her knowledge.

Paige and Alberto
Courtesy: TMZ
Paige's fiance Alberto Del Patron has withdrawn from an upcoming appearance at WrestleCon. His statement “Due to the invasion of our privacy I need to be home with the person that needs me more at the moment and our family. Thanks for your support and I’ll be seeing you the next time.”

There have been countless memes and jokes made about the situation online. Now that the news is about a week old, and WWE has had live events since the situation will come to pass. I do expect taunts and chants at WrestleMania next week and on the Raw that follows. 

Paige in NXT
Courtesy: WWE
I'm not going to lie, I've chuckled at some of the memes I've seen. But sometimes we fail to remember that celebrities are real people. Paige is deeply hurt by this leak and her family is legitimately worried about her well-being. Whoever chose to hack and share the information needs to be held accountable and prosecuted for the act. I realize sometimes these things are done intentionally to garner attention, however that is not the case with this situation.

Then one could argue too, if you don't want those types of images stolen, don't have them in the first place. Hindsight is 20/20. Be more thoughtful of other people's feelings before judging them and sharing the hate. 




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Facing the boss's son

Shane goes airborne
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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There have been some negative vibes on social media after speculation turned to AJ Styles facing Shane McMahon at WrestleMania. While I agree, a Styles-Bray Wyatt match for the World Championship would have been awesome, there's nothing wrong with facing the boss's son on the biggest night of the year.

Crashing onto Undertaker
Courtesy: WWE
Last year when Shane returned to Monday Night Raw and found himself placed into a Hell in a Cell match against the Undertaker, there were plenty of haters too. But Shane once again proved himself as a great performer who wasn't just calling in the match. At age 46 he did death-defying stunts that men half his age couldn't handle. He loves the family business and it's always shown.

In all likelihood, the match at this year's Mania won't be up for Match of the Year, but I have no doubt both Shane and AJ will rise to the occasion. This match should also give Styles an even higher profile within the company in the post-WrestleMania months ahead. In fact, I won't be surprised if he's champion by the end of the year. X-Pac, Kurt Angle nor the Undertaker suffered from having been in the ring against Shane O'Mac on a pay per view event. 

Shane listens, AJ complains
Courtesy: WWE
Wrestling fans are sometimes quick to poo-poo an idea or match without giving it a chance. I've fallen into this category too. But I am actually looking forward to this match and ultimately wish I was going to be in Orlando to see it in person.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Being 40-something isn't old

Facing 40 (2013)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Twenty years ago I thought 30 was old. Then I turned 30 and my thoughts quickly changed. In fact for me turning 30 was much harder than turning 40. I spent my 20s establishing my career and my family. When 30 was looming I still had a lot I wanted to accomplish. Because I hadn't reached those goals I viewed myself as a failure. 

Right before my 31st birthday, I made a big move in my career. We uprooted our family which had been planted in Indiana and headed to southern Illinois. On paper, the move was lateral, but I quickly started to climb the ladder at WSIL-TV and became the morning co-anchor. About a year after that our daughter was born. By then I was nearly 33 and felt accomplished. So by the time 40 rolled around, I had no worries.


Eyes on the prize
Now that I'm in my mid-40s, I have my eyes on new prizes. Building the blog, podcast and my presence on social media are all on my new to-do list. Some days I feel like time is slipping away and I'm never going to reach the top of the mountain. Then I'm reminded of others who were well into middle age before they made their impact. Here are some of the inspiring examples I found.


Col. Harland Sanders
We all know KFC and Colonel Sanders. Like many people, I assumed the Colonel had been a long time fixture in the fast food wars. I was wrong. He was 65 years old when his blend of 11 herbs and spices made him a household name. Sanders actually used his social security checks to franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken. 


Grandma Moses in action
Grandma Moses was even older. She became one of the best-known folk artists of all-time and didn't even start painting until age 78. Sam Walton didn't open his first Walmart until he was 44 (the age I just turned last week).


Self-high five for DDP's first world title win
Courtesy: WWE
And finally a wrestling connection to all this. "Diamond" Dallas Page's in-ring career didn't start until age 36. He won his first world championship at 43. He's now one of the most loved and respected figures in the world of sports entertainment.

While I know we're all going to die one day, I also know being middle aged doesn't mean giving up. Too often people hit a point in life and think it's too late or lack the motivation to keep climbing. I just have to work harder to prove myself. I'm patient, I'm hungry and I'm determined.

Monday, March 20, 2017

WrestleMania was built on celebrity involvement

WrestleMania promo photo
Courtesy: WWE
 By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I've complained a lot in the past about part-timers and celebrities swooping in at WrestleMania and stealing the spotlight from active members of the roster. After some serious thought and hearing the opinions of others, I had an epiphany over the weekend. Rewind to 1985 and the very first WrestleMania. It was all about the celebrities. Mr. T, Cyndi Lauper, Muhammed Ali, Billy Martin and Liberace were all featured at the inaugural event. They're what made WrestleMania stand out from a usual wrestling show at Madison Square Garden. The company could have simply done Hulk Hogan & Jimmy Snuka vs. Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff, but would we be gearing up for WrestleMania 33 today had that been the featured match?

Mr. T at WrestleMania
Courtesy: WWE
As the years passed, the celebrity involvement didn't wane. Mr. T was back in the ring at WrestleMania II. There was a cavalcade of stars like Elvira, Susan St. James and William "The Refrigerator" Perry (along with several other NFL stars for the battle royal). Through the years we've seen the likes of Lawrence Taylor, Snooki and Floyd "Money" Mayweather step through the ropes at WrestleMania. I've found as a fan that my level of dislike for this idea depends more upon my fandom of the celebrity in question than the actual use of a non-Superstar.

Goldberg vs. Lesnar
Courtesy: WWE
The same is true of part-timers or Legends coming in. They too should be treated like the celebrity appearance. They're attractions. And I think there was a lot of casual fans who have enjoyed seeing the Goldberg comeback. It's been well documented here that while I'm not a fan of his, I do appreciate what Goldberg has done for wrestling. That being said, I don't have a problem with him having a match at WrestleMania, but I am still not on board with him being the champion.

The Rock & Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 31
Courtesy: WWE
Long story short, the very foundation on which WrestleMania is built upon is based on the celebrity factor. Plus these days between the kickoff show, the multi-Superstar matches and the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, pretty much everyone gets a chance to be part of the biggest event of the year. Let's chill and enjoy the show, and save our criticism for AFTER WrestleMania because you know, wrestling fans know how to better book an event. Oh, and I was fully behind the rumored Rock/Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H/Stephanie McMahon match for last year's event.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

What-if Mania: Flair vs. Hogan

Hogan & Flair circa 1986
Courtesy: WWE
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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In 1992 wrestling fans thought they'd finally get the WrestleMania dream match of a lifetime, Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair. Flair had just won the WWF Championship at the Royal Rumble and all signs were pointing to Hogan and Flair at WrestleMania VIII. However, the plug was pulled on the idea and we got Flair against Randy Savage and Hogan faced Sid.

Dusty vs. Flair
Courtesy: WWE
With this blog, I'm rewriting history and starting with WrestleMania II. Sorry King Kong Bundy, I'm putting in Ric Flair. To get there, we have to start at Starrcade 1985. You may recall Dusty Rhodes pinned Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship that night. But the decision was later reversed and the belt went back to Flair. However, for this story, Dusty keeps the belt and Flair leaves for the WWF.

Bundy vs. Hogan
Courtesy: WWE
On Saturday Night's Main Event in February 1986, Hogan defends the championship against Bundy (instead of Don Muraco). During the course of the match, manager Bobby Heenan gets flustered and waves feverishly toward the back. Flair, in a spectacular robe, emerges through the curtain much to the shock of the fans. He hits the ring and chop blocks Hogan's knee. The referee calls for the bell and Flair and Bundy proceed with the attack. 

Bundy launches an Avalanche as Flair slaps on the Figure Four Leg Lock. Hogan is helpless as Heenan's henchmen continue to torture the champ. Andre the Giant eventually makes it to the ring to save Hogan, setting up a staredown with Bundy. 

Hogan vs. Flair
Courtesy: WWE
Hogan later challenges Flair to a match at WrestleMania (not inside the big blue cage). "Nature Boy" and his manager, Heenan, accept and the two collide in the main event of the second installment of WrestleMania. Hulkamania was, of course, running wild at the time so Hogan retains in the first showdown with Flair... Bundy goes into the WWF/NFL Battle Royal to keep the feud with Andre going. As for the rest of Flair's run, I don't know, I'm only doing the Mania match.

I know by bringing Ric Flair in at that time changes a lot of history for both WWF and NWA. In 1986 it's fair to say both Hogan and Flair were at the top of their respective games. The match would have been more appealing compared to five and a half years later when the two started meeting on the house show circuit. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Podcast ponderings

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

Every week for more than two years I have recorded and shared My 1-2-3 Cents the Podcast on the Jittery Monkey Podcast Network and iTunes. Many of those shows have a guest related to the world of professional wrestling. Sometimes it's just me rambling about the latest in the world of sports entertainment. And other times Chad joins me to talk more about the business.

The market is saturated with wrestling related shows. When I started in late 2014 I don't feel like there were as many former wrestlers (or personalities) doing shows. Recently there's been a huge surge in this and I wonder more often than not what this uptick means for small shows like My 1-2-3 Cents.

Conrad & Bruce Something to Wrestle With
Courtesy: MLW Radio
Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard, for example, has millions of listeners. I just crunched the numbers for 2017 and in the first 11 weeks of the year, My 1-2-3 Cents is averaging 80 listeners per show. Episodes with indy wrestlers typically do better because they share the podcast on their social media accounts.

Two-time My 1-2-3 Cents guest Jeff Jarrett
I enjoy doing a wrestling-themed show but wonder if the genre has too much coverage, especially by experts in the field. I firmly believe podcasting is the wave of the future and allows everyday people to have a voice. I know I should be more excited about the fact that 80 people on average give a damn about what I have to say instead of thinking ONLY 80 people listen. Plus I've had a chance to meet (in person and/or on the phone) many greats in wrestling.

Friends, what can I do to boost my audience? I'd love your 1-2-3 Cents on the subject. Thanks for reading and listening to the show. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Foreign Object Friday: Finlay's shillelagh

Hornswoggle & Finlay with their shillelaghs
Courtesy: WWE

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

It's St. Patrick's Day so it only makes sense to talk about Irish Superstar Fit Finlay and his shillelagh in today's Foreign Object Friday. The official definition of a shillelagh is a thick stick of blackthorn or oak used in Ireland, typically as a weapon.

Lashley tastes the shillelagh
Courtesy: WWE
Like Jimmy Hart's megaphone, Mr. Fuji's cane and Jim Cornette's tennis racket, Finlay's shillelagh was often at his side. He used it more than a time or two against opponents both big and small. Bobby Lashley tasted the shillelagh after Little Bastard (eventually Hornswoggle) slid him the weapon. That blow helped Finlay capture the U.S. Championship. 

Little Boogie Man gets hit
Courtesy: WWE
Little Boogie Man was also abused by the shillelagh. Finlay used it during he and Hornswoggle's feud with the Boogie Man and his diminutive counterpart. Even the World's Strongest Man Mark Henry has been whacked with the wooden stick too.

Father and son
Courtesy: WWE
Eventually, Finlay and his son turned good, but that didn't necessarily mean an end to the shillelagh shenanigans. It was used among several other foreign objects during Finlay's Belfast Brawl match against JBL at WrestleMania 24. There were even times Finlay relied on Hornswoggle as a weapon too, launching his pint-sized partner on unsuspecting foes.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tag teams that should have won gold

Rockers, Stallions and Islanders
Courtesy: WWE
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Many times we see on social media fans talking about wrestlers who should have been the World Heavyweight Champion. I've even written a blog or two about it myself. But tag teams are never really brought into the conversation. Here are three tag teams who should have won the WWF Tag Team Championship.

Tag team champs... NOT
Courtesy: WWE
The Rockers technically beat the Hart Foundation for the belts in the fall of 1990. However, there were issues with the ring that night and the footage never aired on TV. Back then there was a saying if it didn't happen on TV, it didn't happen, so Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty were never recognized as the champs. I always enjoyed the duo and was disappointed when they split them up. We all know Michaels went on to have an amazing solo career and also won the tag titles with various partners, including Diesel, Steve Austin and Triple H. Jannetty and The 1-2-3 Kid had a brief run as champions too. 

The Young Stallions vs. The Hart Foundation
Courtesy: WWE
Paul Roma and Jim Powers were both "enhancement talent" in the mid-1980s. But then in 1987, the two caught fire and The Young Stallions started climbing the tag team ranks. The two joined the Killer Bees as the survivors of the tag team match at the first Survivor Series. They seemed to be the perfect underdog duo and destined to eventually win the gold after years of toiling. Imagine had they beat the Hart Foundation for the belts in '87 instead of Strike Force. Not knocking Rick Martel or Tito Santana, but the angle could have gone very similarly with Roma turning heel and becoming the Model. Again, no knock to Martel who did extraordinary in that role. 

The Islanders vs. The Young Stallions
Courtesy: WWE
The Islanders were a solid babyface team in the 80s. Then one day they joined forces with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. The trio worked well together as Haku and Tama put their years of experience to good work. Haku would eventually win the belts with Andre the Giant. The Islanders could have been The Brain's first champs, but it wasn't meant to be.

I realize putting the titles on any of these teams would have disrupted the history of the WWF. But it would have been nice to see these three hard working teams be rewarded for their skills.