Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Tony Flood gets schooled

Flood gets slammed

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

One of the things I love most about Stride Pro Wrestling is the interaction with fans. That's a benefit of most indy shows. The men and women in the ring take the time to talk with fans and take photos and sign autographs. You don't see that happen very often on the bigger stage and if you do, you'll pay handsomely for it in most cases.

Christopher Elementary School
On Wednesday morning a few of us from Stride made a trip to Christopher Elementary School, the host of Saturday night's benefit show. Heath Hatton, Tony Flood and I attended a pep rally of sorts both celebrating the end of the 2018 Winter Games and also promoting our event. Stride will be invading the school's old gym to help raise money for trip students are taking to New York.

Tony being Tony...
The gym was packed with students in grades K through 8. Teachers were on hand too as I introduced Tony and Heath and hyped up the championship matches each man is in. Hatton and Ax Allwardt challenge for the Stride Pro Wrestling Tag Team titles and Flood faces Heavyweight Champion Jay Spade. There was a nice roar from the audience and then Tony snatched the mic from my hand and proceeded to insult the students and staff within the very school he once attended.

Hatton heard enough though and took the mic and told Tony there was no need to wait until Saturday to get his butt kicked. But Tony balked until Hatton stopped the number one contender and scooped him up, slamming him to the hardwood gym floor. The students roared in excitement and no doubt enjoyed seeing a little karma coming to the Northern Saint. I only wish when I was that age that pro wrestlers would have come to our school for an assembly.

Don't miss the action. Six great matches are scheduled at Christopher Elementary Saturday night with a 7 p.m. bell time.

Monday, February 26, 2018

This friendship is flooded

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Fans of Stride Pro Wrestling may not know that rivals Jay Spade and Tony Flood have a very storied history together. The two grew up in Christopher and were the best of friends through the teenage years. They even got into the pro wrestling business together. You can hear Flood's take on it in this week's My 1-2-3 Cents podcast
Bull Bronson vs. Jay Spade
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
Each man took a different path after splitting up as a tag team. I met Jay in All-American Pro Wrestling where he proved time and time again that his heart and drive helped him achieve success and the admiration of the fans. I didn't meet Flood until he debuted in Stride Pro Wrestling where he was estranged from Spade and had distanced himself from his hometown roots, adopting Canada as his home. 

Flood wins the Stride Rumble
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
Now the two are on a collision course and it's all coming to a head in the very school they met. Flood's path to the championship match is more colluded than Spade's. Tony hasn't always used the most respectable tactics in the ring. In fact, he hid under the ring during the Stride Rumble earlier this month before dumping Roger Matheus to become the number one contender. Some may consider that a smart strategy, which it did work out for Flood in the end. Spade, however, has faced giants and monsters not only to win the Stride Pro Wrestling Championship but to defend it. 

This match will no doubt be amazing. Both men put 110% in the ring. Flood is hungry, but Spade has worked too long to win the title to just let it go. We'll see you Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Christopher Grade School.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Looking for their Legacy

Legacy contenders
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

In yesterday's blog post I talked about the winner of the Stride Cup Tournament being crowned the new Legacy Champion this Saturday night at Christopher Grade School. Whether it's Jose Magnifico or Anonymous, there won't be much time to celebrate the victory. That's because Saturday night there is a fatal four-way to determine the number one contender for the belt. So who's in the match?

Jerry Travelstead: T-Dog is the very first Legacy Champion. He's taken Stride Pro Wrestling by storm since joining the company shortly after it was created. Jerry is an educator by day. He put 110% into everything he does, including in the ring. He fights hard and the night he won the Legacy Title in a grueling ladder match, I believe he proved his doubters wrong. Jerry is the real deal and has a solid chance of winning this match and going on to regaining the Legacy Title.

JD Wilk: Wilk has consistently improved his game since debuting in Stride Pro Wrestling in December 2016. He's taken some time off due to injuries and has come back with a completely new style. Once a high flyer, Wilk has bulked up and has used that extra weight and strength to his advantage. But with that new look has come a new attitude. While I didn't like seeing him turn down young fans who wanted to slap his hand as he walked to the ring earlier this month, I do think he rededication to getting on the winning track is refreshing. He's young, he's hungry and he's more dangerous than before.

Ace Hawkins: Ace is the most experienced of anyone in this match (I think, you'll see why in a moment). He is the current Missouri Wrestling Heavyweight Champion (that belt is not defended in Illinois obviously) and has wrestled around the country and the world. I've seen Ace win gold in other companies, including All-American Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Collision. Winning this match Saturday night will set him up to get a crack at gold in Stride.

???: That's right, a mystery opponent will be filling that fourth spot. Stay tuned Saturday night to see who rounds out this foursome. Again, we're at Christopher Grade School. Bell time is 7 p.m.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Two prizes for the price of one

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

The Stride Cup tournament was announced in 2017 and officially kicked off at the January show in Carterville. The prize, of course, is the beautiful Stride Cup trophy. However, at the February show, we learned the winner of this eight-man tournament will get another prize, the Legacy Championship.

The Stride Cup & Legacy Championship
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
In case you missed it, Legacy Champion Chris Hargas had to relinquish the title due to an injury. Chris, get well soon by the way. General Manager Sam Hunter made the decision that evening to add the Legacy Title to the Stride Cup finale. It'll be a big night for one of two men.

El Magnifico
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
Those men are the ever popular Jose Magnifico. He's been wrestling in Stride and around the region for years now. Fans immediately get up on their feet when his ring music hits. Magnifico celebrates with the fans before getting to the ring and even if things don't go well for him, there's still dancing and usually some candy being passed out. Sometimes though that happens when the pinata Jose carries gets smashed over someone's head. Magnifico scored wins over Brian Richards of the DR Party and JD Wilk to advance to the finals. 

Anonymous wins
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
Magnifico faces newcomer Anonymous. The big man made his debut in the Stride Cup tournament in January, appearing in the ring after the lights went out in the venue. He destroyed Shane Lauder in seconds and carried the rookie back to the locker room on his shoulder. We haven't seen nor heard from Lauder since. Anonymous also beat Ace Hawkins in the tournament.

This will be a great match and with so much on the line, I look for each man to put in 110%. Be sure to join us Saturday, March 3 at 7 p.m. at Christopher Grade School. This match is a fundraiser for the school so be sure to support the cause. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Fun Fact Friday: Jake Capone

Jake Capone
Courtesy: Steve Belcher

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I first met Jake Capone in 2011 as I was working on some Halloween Havoc blogs for My 1-2-3 Cents. This was before WWE Network and I had put out a call for anyone who had a copy of the first event. Jake did and we met on the SIU campus and made the exchange. A few months later Jake ended up on the All-American Pro Wrestling roster as Justice.

Years later, Justice turned bad and changed his name to "The Hitman" Jake Capone. He was a founding father of the Midwest Mafia. Together he and Red Daniels (RIP) held the Stride Pro Wrestling tag team titles. But another opportunity took Jake and his family out of state, but I've kept in touch and wanted to spotlight him on Fun Fact Friday.

1. Jake is a huge movie buff and has a large collection of movies, including some lesser known films. (As I mentioned he had Halloween Havoc '89 ready to loan out.)

2. Besides wrestling, Jake works as an artist too. He dabbles in several mediums including photography, music and film production. Jake also enjoys writing. You can check out his artwork on the TeePublic website too. I've recently picked up a shirt there. Here's the link.

3. Jake is a huge Elvis fan and credits his dad for knowing all the King's songs by heart. 

You can learn more about Jake on episode 155 of My 1-2-3 Cents the podcast.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Who will induct Goldberg?

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I typically do not report rumors on My 1-2-3 Cents. In fact, I don't do much 'reporting' at all. But I do share links from time to time on the Facebook page. This blog was set up seven years ago to be a platform for me to share my thoughts on the world of pro wrestling. Instead of my 2 cents, it's my 1-2-3 cents. Get it?

Courtesy: WWE
Anyway, I've seen several sites resharing the rumor that Paul Heyman is going to be the man to induct Goldberg into the WWE Hall of Fame. I guess I can see the connection in that Goldberg's two (short) WWE runs featured feuds with the biggest 'Paul Heyman guy' on the planet, Brock Lesnar. But honestly, I figured Paul would be the man to induct The Dudley Boyz into the Hall of Fame.

So who would be a suitable Goldberg inductor? My first thought was Eric Bischoff. He seemingly makes the most sense, being the man who helped create the Legend we know today. Other candidates would be Hulk Hogan (I know), The Rock (he 'brought' Goldberg to WWE) or Triple H.

Don't get me wrong though, Heyman is a great speaker and will do the duty justice, assuming the rumor mill is right on this. After all, they got the Double J going into the Hall of Fame right... 

Monday, February 19, 2018

That's H-A-Double L - O-F -F-A-M-E

Selfie with Jeff Jarrett in 2016
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Many pro wrestling fans are buzzing today after NBC Sports and WWE announced Jeff Jarrett will be the latest inductee into the Class of 2018 Hall of Fame. Rumblings about the induction started last week online, most of which I discounted. It's not because I didn't think Double J was worthy. I always figured he'd eventually get the nod, I just didn't think it would happen this year.

I've been following Jeff Jarrett his entire career. I remember first reading about him in the Apter magazines when he was wrestling for Contentinal Wrestling Association. When Jeff wrestled for the AWA and USWA I actually got to see him in action. Then, of course, his cross over to WWF made a lasting impression. 

Jarrett and me in 2011
I'm not going to sit here and write about all of Jarrett's wrestling accomplishments, we know his record. I want to talk about my personal experiences with Jarrett. I met him for the first time in 1998 when I was a reporter in Florence, Alabama. Jarrett and the Harris twins were in nearby Tennessee playing in a celebrity basketball game to raise money for the school. That meeting was short and sweet. Then in 2011, I had an even more abbreviated encounter with Jarrett at a TNA Basebrawl event.

Fast forward to 2015 and I had a chance to interview Jarrett on the phone for the My 1-2-3 Cents podcast. The occasion came up again and I was able to have him as a repeat guest. Then Jarrett came to Marion, Illinois to promote Global Force Wrestling coming to Rent One park for a show. We met in one of the suites and spent some time chatting before and after the interview. He had remembered the podcast interviews and we talked about more than wrestling that night. I left with an even greater appreciation for Double J.

This is a well-deserved announcement. Jarrett has been through a lot over the last year or so. I wish him nothing but health and happiness and I hope this leads to a new relationship between he and WWE. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

My favorite Kerry Von Erich moments

Kerry Von Erich after winning the NWA Title
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

February 18, 2018, marks the 25 year anniversary of the death of Kerry Von Erich. Regular readers here know Kerry is one of my all-time favorites and growing up I ranked him higher than Hulk Hogan himself. Instead of focusing on his death though, I wanted to use this day to remember a few of my favorite Kerry Von Erich matches.

1. Without a doubt his winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship is not only my favorite Kerry Von Erich match but one of my all-time favorite matches. It features two of favorite wrestlers. Kerry fulfilled his promise to honor the life of his brother David that day. In front of a then-record crowd, Kerry battled the "Nature Boy" for just over 11 minutes before catching Flair with a backslide and winning the gold. 

I was 11 years old then and through the roof with excitement. Kerry's reign only lasted 18 days and I was deeply disappointed by the loss, but I viewed it as a huge accomplishment for Von Erich. He went on to appear on the covers of many wrestling magazines in the weeks that followed holding that ten pounds of gold. I collected those mags and hung posters featuring the "Modern Day Warrior" on the wall of my bedroom and even my locker at school. Less than a year later, I was fortunate enough to see a rematch between the two in St. Louis. Flair got himself disqualified. 

Texas Tornado vs. Mr. Perfect
Courtesy: WWE
2. Kerry stormed into the WWF in the summer of 1990 as the Texas Tornado. It was my senior year in high school and when he was placed in the Intercontinental Championship match against Mr. Perfect at that year's SummerSlam, I was stoked. After five minutes of action, Kerry pinned Perfect and was crowned the IC champ. 

Again, his title reign didn't last nearly as long as I had hoped it would. But he got the rub of hanging with The Ultimate Warrior on several occasions. I think had Kerry been in a different place in his personal life back then, his WWF tenure and championship run could have had more meaning than it did ultimately. 

Kerry Von Erich vs. Kamala
3. As I mentioned earlier, Kerry was to me what Hulk Hogan was to millions of fans. Before the Hulkster bodyslammed Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy or  One Man Gang for that matter, Kerry was performing these feats of strength. I remember vividly Von Erich battling Kamala on slamming him. I believe the announcer, Bill Mercer, said it was the first time the Ugandan Giant had been body slammed. I have no idea if that's true, but to me, it was a feat of superhuman strength. As the years passed, Kerry slammed other big men, including Gang. 

There are plenty of other fond memories I have of Kerry Von Erich. His feuds with the Freebirds, Chris Adams and Gino Hernandez are also among some of my favorites. There are too many instances in those battles to pick favorites. And I still think he should have won the battle with Jerry Lawler in the AWA Championship matches. What are some of your favorite moments of the "Modern Day Warrior"?  

Saturday, February 17, 2018

WWE changes its PPV format

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

It's been a rumor for a week or so, but WWE confirmed the news Saturday. After WrestleMania, the company is going back to non-branded pay-per-view events. So that means a reduction in PPV events each year, which in my 1-2-3 cents is a good thing. Not counting the events planned for this month, there are nine more PPVs coming to WWE Network this year.

I can see pros and cons on this move. I liked the idea of dueling brands because Superstars were getting overexposed being on Raw and SmackDown Live each week. Then factor in the pay-per-views and storylines and angles got old fast. Now there's at least a break to just once a week. I know the company will keep the TV shows separate, or so it appears. But unless they add time to the pay-per-views, I worry some Superstars will once again become lost in the shuffle. I don't know what the pay scale is for Superstars in terms of these network events but I'd hate to think anyone is losing out.

I also like the idea of only having all brands on the same event for the big four shows; WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam and Survivor Series. I hope they keep the storylines separate until Rumble time and maybe Survivor Series. WWE Creative needs to come up with a purpose to have Raw vs. SmackDown Live if they're headed that way again in November.

Longer shows are tough on the live crowd as well as those of us watching at home. Three hours is already too long for Raw. Six hours for WrestleMania is ridiculous. Other shows are getting longer too. My friends over at Pro Wrestling Unscripted suggested featuring some of the mid-card feuds as the main event matches on Raw or SmackDown Live and saving the main eventers for the pay per views. That move could be a good one to keep lower tiered Superstars on TV. 

I'm not complaining about the situation, I just want to see how it all plays out. Will the company take turns alternating the main events on these PPVs? The move could also give us a break from some Superstars appearing each month too. Like everything in pro wrestling, we have to be patient and see how things play out.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fun Fact Friday: Stride Pro Wrestling Tag Team Titles

Current Stride Pro Wrestling tag team champs:
The DR Party

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Stride Pro Wrestling is nearing its two year anniversary and in that time has had some great men and women come through. Some are guests, some are mainstays and for others, things just didn't work out... But one thing that has been consistent is the quality of the tag team division. There have been five sets of tag team champions in that time. Here are a few fun facts about titles.

1. 'Homicidal' Stephen Davis and Frank Wyatt are the first team to win the gold in Stride Pro Wrestling. They beat Jay Spade and Josh Totten in the championship finals of the tournament. It didn't take Spade long to reunite with his former partner, Joey O'Riley though. That duo captured the titles next.

Midwest Mafia
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
2. The Midwest Mafia, Red Daniels (RIP) and Jake Capone are Stride's biggest and shortest reigning tag team champions. The duo won the gold in February 2017 and lost them in their first defense in April. 

Sarah Summers vs. Ax Allwardt
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
3. Sarah Summers is the only female wrestler to compete for the Stride Pro Wrestling tag team titles. She and Farmer Billy Hills were part of a multi-team match. It was on that night that Ax Allwardt and Scott Phoenix won the belts, making Ax the only former Stride Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Champion to win a second title in the company.

4. Speaking of Scott Phoenix, he is the first man in Stride to hold the tag team titles with more than one partner. Due to the "Freebird rule" applying to the DR Party now you can say each member has held the gold with the other three. But the originally billed champions were Dexter Roswell and Phoenix, the night he screwed over Ax.

The DR Party
Courtesy: Steve Belcher
5. J. Wellington Beauregard has managed three of the five tag team champions. Eighty percent success rate isn't bad.

Ax teams up with Heath Hatton on Saturday, March 3 at Christopher Grade School. This odd couple will go for the gold that night against the DR Party.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Pick the next Stride guest

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Stride Pro Wrestling is turning to fans to help determine the next guest who comes to one of our shows. Note we already have James Ellsworth lined up for the April 14 show in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. You can vote on the choices here. Note I am merely fantasy booking here and have no influence on what's going to happen with these particular stars. The contenders include:
Ryback vs. Hatton
Courtesy: WWE
Ryback. He, of course, is a former WWE Intercontentinal Champion. Could Heath Hatton and Ace Hawkins team up and get revenge on the former Skip Sheffield. Remember that duo faced Ryback at WWE Extreme Rules in 2012.

Billy Gunn and I have gone against each other in video game form. We also told the crowd in Herrin to "Suck it!" back in April 2005. He's a former WWE tag team, Intercontinental and Hardcore champ. Maybe he and I could team up for a match... 

Courtesy: WWE
Who is most likely to get hardcore with Hardcore Holly? He's been the Hardcore champ along with tag team champion in WWE. He's tougher than a two dollar steak, just like Roger Matheus.

J. Wellington Beauregard and the "Million Dollar" Man Ted DiBiase could compare bank accounts if you chose the former tag team champion. I'm sure DiBiase wouldn't mind funding the DR Party's mission to "Make Stride great again" either.

And last but not least, we'd all give Jerry "the King" Lawler the royal treatment should he be selected. He's old school like Ax Allwardt. Maybe the two could team up against members of the DR Party.

Please vote. We'll let you know soon who we are able to strike a deal with.