Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Stride Pro Wrestling switches venues... again

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Once again Stride Pro Wrestling finds itself in a new venue. Long story short, our usual home at the Illinois Star Centre Mall has been having issues. The mall itself does not have functioning restrooms and they will not allow us to bring in more than 100 fans. The anchor stores like Dillards and Target have working facilities, but that's not enough for us.

This happened earlier this month and we scrambled. Sadly it has happened again this month, but we had a few more days notice than in January. So No Love Lost 2 will be held in the small gym at John A. Logan College in Carterville. Bell time is still 6:30 p.m. Doors will open at 6. 

I want to personally thank JALC Basketball coach Kyle Smithpeters and Dean of Community Education Barry Hancock for making this possible. The show must go on and it will thanks to the folks at Logan.

The Stride Cup Tournament continues with the mystery competitor from round one facing Ace Hawkins and JD Wilk battles Jose Magnifico. Jay Spade defends the Stride Pro Wrestling Championship against Bull Bronson, Tony Flood gets one last chance against Legacy Champion Chris Hargas. Expect much more Saturday night too, including an appearance Heath Hatton on J. Wellington Beauregard's Striking Your Fancy.

Monday, January 29, 2018

No bull, Bronson is back

Bull Bronson is back
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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In December, Bull Bronson surprised Stride Pro Wrestling fans by making his return to the company. That night he helped Woodlawn School Athletic Director Jan Peterson battle members of the DR Party. It seemed it was a one-time return appearance for Bronson, but General Manager Sam Hunter tells me he has signed Bull back to a full-time contract.

Spade flies onto Bull and others
Courtesy: Jason Wilkey

The big man is wasting no time making his presence known in Stride. He has challenged current heavyweight champion Jay Spade to a match this Saturday night. No Love Lost 2 goes down at the Illinois Star Centre Mall in Marion. It will be great to see this match as I don't recall them ever wrestling each other one on one. I remember Spade did battle Bull in a multi-man match at AAPW's Main Event in 2012. Bronson won that contest.

Spade vs. Matheus
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
However, a lot has happened in the last six years. Spade has come a long way and is one of the hardest working and most dedicated men on the Stride roster. He and Joey O'Riley enjoyed a run as tag team champions and at that same show in Woodlawn, Spade did the unthinkable in beating Roger Matheus for the Stride Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Championship. A month later he retained after Matheus went nuts and got disqualified. 

Spade will need to harness that same drive and determination he used against Matheus, as Bull is just as big and as brutal as the former champion. I have no doubt each man will bring their A game to the show this Saturday. Bell time is 6:30 p.m. and tickets are just $10 for adults and $5 for kids. See you there. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

It's a wrestle-riffic weekend

Chad and the Horsemen
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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There is no shortage of wrestling action on this Royal Rumble weekend. Whether you're into WWE or the independent scene, there are several shows happening. Since I'm in southern Illinois, I'll stick to the local shows first.

Saturday night Cape Championship Wrestling in Cape Girardeau, Missouri presents Cages Chaos 2. Each match on the show will be contested inside a steel cage. The main event features CCW Champion "Best of the Best" Austin Lane defending against Justin "The Juice" Smart. The man who trained Lane, Jerry Lynn, will be the special guest referee for the match. Several Stride Pro Wrestling guys will also be on the show tonight, including Roger Matheus, Ace Hawkins and Brandon Espinosa. You can see the full card here. 

Also tonight, IWA Productions will invade the Fairfield (Illinois) Elks Lodge. IWA Cruiserweight Champion Heath Hatton will be among the Stride guys appearing. Chris Hargas, Dexter Roswell and Jose Magnifico are also scheduled to wrestle tonight.

Stride Pro Wrestling returns to action a week from tonight. On Saturday, Feb. 3 Jay Spade will defend the Stride Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Title against Bull Bronson. The Stride Cup Tournament continues and Hatton will be the guest on 'Striking Your Fancy' with J. Wellington Beauregard. No Love Lost 2 will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Illinois Star Centre Mall in Marion.

Bull James vs. Eddie Kingston
If you follow the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page you've seen that Chad is in Philly this weekend for the Royal Rumble. He attended the House of Hardcore 37 show at the ECW Arena Friday night. Earlier today he met the Four Horsemen and he's headed to Sunday's Chikara show and the Rumble Sunday night. We'll talk more about his experiences there in Monday's My 1-2-3 Cents podcast. 

Watch the video below to learn how you can win a Shockmaster Elite action figure.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Fun Fact Friday: Mitch Blake

Mitch Blake

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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When I started Fun Fact Friday, it was to help promote independent wrestlers around the region. Most of the subjects have been from Stride Pro Wrestling or Cape Championship Wrestling. This week, I'm heading north of the area, but still in southern Illinois with IWA Productions. They have a show coming up Saturday night (Jan. 27) at the Fairfield, Illinois Elks Lodge. Stride competitors like Heath Hatton, Jose Magnifico and Dexter Roswell will be part of the show, as well as one-half of the tag team champions in IWA Productions; Mitch Blake. Here are a few things to know about him.

1. When he hits an opponent it's a MITCH SLAP. It's not a chop and he really puts everything into it and makes sure his foe is in pain when it's all said and done.

2. Check out the video above to hear Mitch talk. He says that is his real voice and not a "wrestler voice."

3. Mitch loves the wrestling business. It's been a passion of his and the reason he wakes up each morning for the last 25 years. That's when he started training.

Mitch and his tag team partner Beau Tatum will defend the gold tomorrow night. The show begins at 7 p.m. at the Fairfield Elks Lodge.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

2018 Royal Rumble contest

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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The Royal Rumble is just a few days away and the guys at My 1-2-3 Cents are celebrating with another Rumble contest. Chad will actually be in Philly for the event this year, so for the first time, I'm going to be setting things up on my own and contacting the winners. Since there are two Rumble matches this year, we'll have two contests going and you can enter both. 

So, answer these questions in a private message to the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page by Sunday, Jan. 28 at 11 a.m. CST and you'll be entered. Winners will be determined by the most correct answers. 

Who will enter the Royal Rumble #1?

Who will enter the Royal Rumble #30?

What entrant number will win the Royal Rumble?

Who will have the most eliminations?

Who will be the 'iron man' of the Royal Rumble?

Tiebreaker: How many eliminations will be the most this year? 

Who will enter the Royal Rumble #1?

Who will enter the Royal Rumble #30?

What entrant number will win the Royal Rumble?

Who will have the most eliminations?

Who will be the 'iron woman' of the Royal Rumble?

Tiebreaker: How many eliminations will be the most this year? 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Royal Rumble dream

Spoiler alert: This is about Daniel Bryan
Courtesy: WWE

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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As wrestling fans, we always think we know what's best when it comes to storylines and matches. However, I trust (mostly) in the men and women behind the scenes. There is sometimes a method to the madness. But there are also times when logic gets thrown out the window. I hope with the 2018 Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 34 that is not the case.

Nakamura vs. Cena
Courtesy: WWE
I've been asked several times who I think is going to win this year's Royal Rumble. Rumors persist that it's going to be Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. So Roman is definitely in the conversation for winning. Others have argued, including my buddy Chad, that since Elimination Chamber is a Raw pay per view, that a SmackDown Live Superstar will win the Rumble and Nakamura vs. AJ Styles seems to be what a lot of fans fancy now. 

I'd be all for that. Admittedly I haven't watched a lot of wrestling in recent weeks due to other obligations but I have kept up with things via social media and the interwebs. I still don't feel like WWE has done enough to make me care about Nakamura. So putting him in one of the main events of the biggest show of the year may be premature. However, there's still time to make this happen.

Just a few minutes ago Chad threw an idea out to me via text. I don't know how serious he is about it or if he even wants me sharing, but it is certainly thought-provoking. What if Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn beat AJ at the Rumble and win the WWE Championship. Then Daniel Bryan enters the Rumble match and wins it. I told him the internet would explode. 

Courtesy: WWE
Of all current possibilities, I like this one the most. But as far as we know Bryan still hasn't been cleared to wrestle by WWE physicians. That being said, this would be the ultimate surprise entrant into the match. I'm still holding out hope that IF he's medically cleared by doctors that he will one day wrestle again. His style would have to change, but I'd love for him to have an opportunity to return to the top of the mountain like he was in 2014 at WrestleMania XXX. But his health has to come first, over my fandom and that of millions of others.

Now on Sunday, I'll be watching the Royal Rumble and patiently waiting for Bryan's music to hit and for him to run to the ring with thousands of "YES!" chants filling the arena. Chad will be there by the way and the current plan is to do a podcast after the event ends. So Monday's My 1-2-3 Cents podcast will drop a little later than usual. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Raw is Hunsperger (and Smart)

That's me in the middle
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Yes, I am being totally egotistical with the title and the content of today's blog. January 22, 2018, is, of course, the night WWE celebrates Raw 25. In January 1993 Monday nights changed forever when Prime Time Wrestling transitioned from a pre-recorded studio format to live (and live to tape) pro wrestling action and sports entertainment. 

Of the 1,286 episodes of Raw that have already aired, I have appeared on two of them. I should also give credit to my favorite wrestling buddy, Chad Smart too. It was with him that I attended my very first Raw on January 8, 2007. Chad and I worked together at the time and we were joined by a fellow co-worker, Randy Livingston. Chad and I attended WrestleMania 22 the previous year and dressed as the Spirit Squad, so we wanted to keep the cosplay tradition alive.

The 3 Faces of Hogan
The three of us decided on the "3 faces of Hogan." I already had the old school red and yellow Hulkamania shirt. I cut up an old t-shirt and created a bandana and bought a yellow mustache to complete the look. Randy went as "Hollywood" Hogan from the nWo and Chad got patriotic as he brought Mr. America back to life. 

The costumes looked pretty good if I do say so myself. Little did we know we'd end up in the opening shot when Raw went live on the USA Network that night from the Scottrade Center. We were holding signs in honor of our Australian friends we'd met the year before at Mania. 

Celebrating Ric Flair at Raw
The following year, Chad and I attended WrestleMania 24 in Orlando. That's the night Ric Flair retired. On a whim, we decided to get tickets to Raw after learning the Four Horsemen were going to be at the show. Much to our surprise, we walked up to the ticket window and got two tickets on the opposite side of the hard cam and pretty close to the floor. The best part, the tickets were only $50 each.

Being at the show, we had no idea if we'd be on camera. This was at a time before either of us had a smartphone or a Facebook account. I believe one of our former coworkers called Chad that night on his flip phone and informed us we'd been on the air. Because it was a big celebration for Flair, we are in several of the shots of the "Ric Flair: The Definitive Collection" DVD. In recent days I've been tagged and texted with screenshots from the WWE Network.

We've been to a handful of other Raws since then, all the night after WrestleMania. Now that I think about it, that night in January 2007 is my only non-WrestleMania weekend Raw experience. It's fun to be there live and I've love to be in New York this evening watching in person, but I'll enjoy the show on DVR. Oh and listen to our top six moments from Raw here

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Royal Rumble winners

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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It's hard to believe the Royal Rumble has been around 30 years. So ahead of next week's show, I came up with some fun facts, mostly about the winners, but I had to stretch on some of them. Most of these I knew, but full disclosure, I had to look some info up.

1988 - Jim Duggan: First Royal Rumble winner

1989 - "Big" John Studd - Went on to WrestleMania 5 to be a special guest referee and not wrestle. 

1990 - Hulk Hogan: First time a WWF Champion won the Rumble.

1991 - Hulk Hogan: First Superstar to win back to back Royal Rumbles

1992 - Ric Flair: The first heel to win the Royal Rumble and for the first time the WWE Championship was awarded to the winner.

1993 - Yokozuna: First Superstar to win the match under the stipulation that the winner gets a championship match at WrestleMania.

1994 - Bret Hart & Lex Luger: First (and only) co-winners of the Royal Rumble.

1995 - Shawn Michaels: First Superstar to draw number one and win the Rumble.

1996 - Shawn Michaels: Won the match a second time and had the same number of eliminations both years (8). 

1997 - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin: First time a Superstar was eliminated from the match and came back to win the Rumble. 

1998 - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin: Went toe to toe the night after winning the Rumble with Mike Tyson on Monday Night Raw.

1999 - Vince McMahon - First non-Superstar to win the Rumble.

2000 - The Rock: First time a Royal Rumble winner went on to WrestleMania to face three other competitors for the Championship.

2001 - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin: First three-time winner of the Rumble.

2002 - Triple H: First time the winner challenged for the "Undisputed WWE Championship". 

2003 - Brock Lesnar: First winner of the Royal Rumble under a brand split.

2004 - Chris Benoit: Won the Rumble as a SmackDown! Superstart but switched brands to challenge the Raw Champion (Triple H).

2005 - Batista: Won the Rumble and for the first time, the second runner-up challenged the opposing show's champion (John Cena challenged JBL). 

2006 - Rey Mysterio: First Superstar under 200 pounds to win the Rumble.

2007 - Undertaker: First Superstar to draw number 30 and win the Rumble.

2008 - John Cena: First time a Superstar no one could see won the Royal Rumble.

2009 - Randy Orton: First time the final two men in the Rumble went on to face each other WrestleMania. Triple H won the WWE Championship the next month at No Way Out in the Elimination Chamber.

2010 - Edge: Up to that time the Superstar who spent the least amount of time in the match to win the Rumble (7:19).

2011 - Alberto Del Rio: First Superstar to outlast 39 other Superstars.

2012 - Sheamus: Yes, Sheamus won. But this marked the first time all three members of the commentary team also competed in the Royal Rumble (Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole and Booker T).

2013 - John Cena: First year an NXT Superstar competed in the Rumble (Bo Dallas).

2014 - Batista: Eliminated Roman Reigns moments after the "Big Dog" set a new record for most eliminations in a single Rumble match (12).

2015 - Roman Reigns: First time a Royal Rumble winner was pinned in the Championship match by a Money in the Bank winner cashing in (Seth Rollins). 

2016 - Triple H: First time the WWE Championship was defended in the match. Reigns came in as champ and lost the title that night, only to go on and regain it from Triple H at WrestleMania 32.

2017 - Randy Orton: Announced he was giving up his Championship match after Bray Wyatt won the gold at No Way Out, but it turned out to be a swerve by Orton.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Fun Fact Friday: Herb Simmons

Herb Simmons
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Social media has been a powerful tool for years, letting people reconnect all over the world. It's also been a great way to learn more about one of my passions, professional wrestling. It feels like there are more independent companies cropping up, including several within a couple hours of my home in southern Illinois. 

One company I've been able to check out is Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling. Several familiar faces from the Stride Pro Wrestling roster have been on the show, including Heath Hatton, Ax Allwardt and Chris Hargas. 

Abdullah the Butcher and I 

Last year I attended my first show in East Cardonolet. I met the legendary Abdullah the Butcher, long time announcer Larry Matysik and promoter Herb Simmons. He agreed to participate in this week's Fun Fact Friday.

Herb and Ted DiBiase
1. Herb has been promoting wrestling for 43 years. SICW has had many greats on the show; including Dory and Terry Funk, Harley Race, Bushwhacker Luke, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Ted DiBiase, One Man Gang, Koko B. Ware and Hillbilly Jim. He also worked with legends like Bruiser Brody, Dick Murdoch, Crusher Blackwell, Ox Baker, Baron Von Raschke and Gene Kinski. 

2. The company has a monthly show called SICW Wrestling Explosion. You can watch it here. It's based on the classic Wrestling at the Chase from St. Louis. (I grew up on that show.) They just aired episode 360. Congrats! 

3. Herb's day job is the St. Clair County 9-1-1 director. He's also been the mayor of East Carondelet for 33 years. SICW does several fundraiser shows for the police and fire departments in the community. 

SICW returns to the East Carondelet Community Center Saturday (Jan. 20) Bell time is 7 p.m. You can call (618) 286-4848 to reserve tickets. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

3 Things I want in WWE in 2018

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Despite the freezing temperatures, snow and ice, I like the month of January for a number of reasons. It's a fresh start to the year. People seem to put their differences aside for one day in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. And WWE presents the Royal Rumble and the official countdown to WrestleMania. Since this is a pro wrestling blog, that'll be the topic of discussion and specifically for WWE. There are three things (off the top of my head) that I want to see happen in the world's largest Sports Entertainment company (and in no particular order).

The Hulkster
Courtesy: WWE
1. Make amends with Hulk Hogan. The former WWE Champion and the biggest star of the 1980s was removed from the company's Hall of Fame section online in 2015. It stems from racist comments the Hulkster made years ago on a private recording. I don't want to turn this into a huge debate, but Hogan has served his time. Firing him and essentially kicking him out of the Hall of Fame were extreme measures. 

There had been buzz that perhaps Hogan would return at Raw25 next week and maybe he will. But he has tweeted that he'll be watching the show from home Monday night. It could all be a swerve but in case it's not, Hogan should be a part of WWE in some form. No, I don't want to see him wrestle again, however occasional appearances like other Legends is more than acceptable. 

Vince McMahon has a history of letting bygones be bygones when it comes to doing business. Bruno Sammartino, Ultimate Warrior and Kurt Angle are all recent examples of that. And without sounding like a jerk, no one is getting any younger, in this case, so let's move on and bring back the yellow and red.

Hanging with Neville
2. Bring back Neville. Yes, I am a fanboy for Neville. I know he walked out and is likely not coming back. However, I would pop like Orville Redenbacher (yes, my go to) if he came back. He's a great talent and was helping breath some new life in the Cruiserweight Division. And I'd love to see him kick in Enzo's head... 

I love Bruce Prichard & Conrad
3. Induct Brother Love into the WWE Hall of Fame. Like I mentioned above with the mending fences comment, Bruce Prichard has been invited back after nearly a decade. Brother Love is scheduled to be a part of Raw25. I know I'm jumping the gun, but Brother Love certainly deserves a spot in the HOF. I loved the character from day one and simply enjoy listening to his podcast Something to Wrestle With.

I'm hopeful with the invite there's at least a chance Bruce ends up back in the company. Again, it doesn't have to be a full-time gig, but I would love to see a handful of Brother Love segments in 2018. He still has a great mind for the business too and could be an asset behind the scenes.

These are just a few of the things I'm hoping for this year. What are some things you want to see happen in 2018?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ricocheting from the indies to WWE

Ricochet battles Will Ospreay

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Earlier this week WWE announced indy star Ricochet has signed a deal to start work at the Performance Center in Orlando. He'll be a part of the NXT brand as he continues to develop and hone his craft. It'll be a nice boost into the NXT system with fresh faces coming in. Additionally, it's been reported the tag team War Machine and women's star Candice LeRae are also NXT-bound.

Ricochet, whose real name is Trevor Mann, is actually not far from where I live now. For those who know, I'm a morning news anchor in southern Illinois. Mann grew up in Paducah, Kentucky which is about 45 minutes away. So after learning of his signing, I ran a story on the news about "local wrestler headed to WWE." It's a great excuse to get some wrestling stories on the newscast.

Ricochet vs. Austin Lane
I've had a chance to watch Ricochet wrestle in person a couple of times. The stand out occasion for me was when he faced Austin Lane in the main event of a Cape Championship Wrestling show in August 2016. You can see a portion of that match here (I can't figure out how to post an Instagram video on this blog.)The two put on a clinic in the ring which exceeded my expectations. Not only was I impressed with the guest star on the show, but Lane also. 

Ricochet's signing is welcomed by me and in my 1-2-3 cents, he could also help breath some new life into the Cruiserweight division. I don't know what the future holds for Neville (I'm still hoping he returns) but the man formerly known as Prince Puma would certainly add some sizzle to 205 Live. I can't imagine he'll be on NXT long, but even if he is, it'll be a benefit for both sides. 

Even though I don't know him personally, I'm excited someone from my neck of the woods is getting a break in the largest wrestling (sports entertainment) company in the world. Ricochet's signing should be enough to encourage men and women toiling in the independents to keep pushing. Also, youngsters should see this as a reminder to NEVER give up on their dreams. Heck, it's something even us old timers could use too.

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