Saturday, March 31, 2018

Greg Valentine's WrestleMania legacy

Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

While listening to the most recent episode of Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard, I learned an interesting fact about Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. The topic for the show is WrestleMania IV and the tournament for the WWF Championship. Co-host Conrad Thompson mentions during the episode that Valentine had competed for all three championships (at the time) in the first three WrestleManias.

Courtesy: WWE

That statement got me to thinking. Of course, Conrad is right. Looking back Valentine was the Intercontinental Champion at WrestleMania. He defended against the Junkyard Dog and was counted out. I really, really wanted JYD to win the belt that night and thought he was going to do it. 

Valentine, Johnny V and Brutus Beefcake
Courtesy: WWE
A year later, he and Brutus Beefcake were the unlikely WWF Tag Team Champions. They lost those belts to the British Bulldogs. Then at WrestleMania IV, the Hammer was part of the WWF Championship Tournament. He beat Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat (he had a thing for opponents with an animal name) in round one. Then in the second round, he lost to the eventual winner "Macho Man" Randy Savage.

Valentine vs. Savage
Courtesy: WWE
Valentine was a bad guy when I was growing up and a good one at that. Therefore I wouldn't have called myself a fan of him. However, as an adult, you can look back and understand the contribution wrestlers made to the business and judge them independently of just their persona in the ring. This is quite an accomplishment for Valentine and a WrestleMania fun fact that is overlooked. 

I scoured the internet and racked my brain to determine if anyone else has wrestled for the three primary champions at WrestleMania. I came up blank. But I did find this cool site that offers up more WrestleMania fun facts. If I've missed someone who has competed for all three titles at WrestleMania, let me know. None-the-less though, Valentine is the first to do it. It's Hammer Time! 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Ten years later: WrestleMania 24

Ready to rumble as Hornswoggle

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

It's hard to believe ten years have already passed since WrestleMania 24. It was March 30, 2008, at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando. I was one of the 74,635 in attendance that day. It was the second WrestleMania my buddy Chad Smart and I attended.

Here are a few takeaways from that event a decade later. 

Flair says goodbye
I was there for Flair. When rumors of Ric Flair's retirement match being a part of WrestleMania, Chad and I made an extra effort to get tickets. We sat in what I believe was the fourth row that night and watched as our childhood hero wrestled for the last time in WWE. Even though we had speculated it would be Flair's swan song, I still found myself cheering for Naitch, hoping he'd pull off a surprise win and stick around a little longer.

The next night we watched as Legends and Superstars honored "Nature Boy" on Raw. I'm not going to lie and say that I'm disappointed Flair ended up wrestling again in TNA after his retirement. But I still hold a special memory of that night and can proclaim I was there for Flair's last WWE matchup.

Triple threat fun
That night also marked John Cena's first WrestleMania loss. He was pinned by Randy Orton in a triple threat match for the WWE Championship. Cena had won the Royal Rumble two months earlier and I figured he'd be a lock for winning the gold. Even though it's a little blurry the pic here is one of my favorites I took at WrestleMania 24.

Main event
Undertaker's Streak continued as he repeated from WrestleMania 23 and won the World Championship, pinning Edge in the main event of the night. Fireworks popped in celebration after the victory and it turns out a fan was injured in the process.

Big chokeslam from the Big Show
Another big moment from the night was Floyd 'Money' Mayweather taking on the Big Show. The giant had just returned after a hiatus from WWE. In my mind, Big Show was a lock for this one too, but I loved how they put the match together and Mayweather getting the underhanded victory. 

Bunny time
CM Punk won Money in the Bank that year. Admittedly I wasn't completely on board with Punk at the time, as I hoped John Morrison would have a moment to shine. The Playboy BunnyMania Lumberjill match is exactly what you're thinking. It goes to show how far WWE executives and creative have come in terms of their treatment of women's wrestling. 

Those are just a few of my memories from the show. We dressed as Hornswoggle for some unknown reason that year. We had a great time and got to keep our chairs and added to our collection of photos and autographs from a variety of WWE Superstars. 

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

2018 Hall of Fame inductors

Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

WWE has announced some of the people who will be doing the induction portion of the upcoming Hall of Fame ceremony. I've decided to do a little fantasy booking of the show. At one time I thought only other Hall of Famers should do the induction, but I've changed that stance through the years. I know WWE listens to the person going into the HOF to an extent, but I don't know that they solely have the choice of their inductor. So here we go...

Goldberg is being inducted by Paul Heyman. I know they have a history together from Goldberg's two brief stints in WWE. Heyman managed Brock Lesnar at two WrestleMania matches against Goldberg. I believe those are also Goldberg's only two Mania matches. From the WWE portion of his career, I guess I get it. But here's a short list of who I would have picked. 

1. Eric Bischoff. It's hard to argue Goldberg's rise to fame came during the Bischoff reign of WCW. Goldberg was hands down the biggest star the company created during the Monday Night War era. I believe Bischoff would be the best choice for the induction ceremony. 

2. However, Triple H was one of Goldberg's biggest WWE rivals. So one could argue Hunter would be a great choice for this. Lesnar also makes sense, but I imagine they're going to keep him out of the ceremony spotlight that night. 

The Dudley Boyz are being inducted by Edge and Christan, two of the men who made up some of the greatest tag team rivalries of the early 2000s. The Hardys are of course that other team, but with Matt being in an ongoing angle that's out of his previous character, E&C are probably the right choices here. However, I think in hindsight, Heyman would have made more sense with the Dudley's history in ECW and the relationship they had on air in WWE. 

Ivory is being inducted by Molly Holly. This is a solid choice. I'm happy to see Molly will be a part of the evening. 

Those are the only three that have been officially announced. As for the others...

Courtesy: WWE
I'd pick Road Dogg to induct Jeff Jarrett. They are synonymous with each other. Another logic choice would be Jerry Lawler due to the Memphis connection or as awkward as it may sound, Kurt Angle.

Tony Atlas who managed Mark Henry or Ron Simmons who lead him in the Nation of Domination are both solid picks for the induction of the World's Strongest Man. 

Hillbilly and Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan is the only logical choice for Hillbilly Jim's induction. I still believe this is a huge possibility. But I won't hold my breath for it. I also won't be surprised when it's announced "Mean" Gene Okerlund or Henry Godwinn are doing the honors.

Since Undertaker doesn't break character for the HOF, maybe Santina Morella would be the one to induct Kid Rock since Rock played a concert leading up to the Women's Battle Royal at WrestleMania 25 that Santina won. 

I don't recall off the top of my head how they've handled the Warrior Award inductee. Someone like Cena or Dana Warrior will probably be the one to do it. 

Who are your inductor picks? Share your thoughts here or on the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page.

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Seven things I love about WrestleMania VII

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

It's hard to believe WrestleMania VII went down 27 years ago today (March 24, 1991). I was a senior in high school and it's one of the first WrestleManias I watched live. I watched the first WrestleMania on closed-circuit later that evening and WrestleMania IV the same way but from the Kiel Center in downtown St. Louis. My buddy Jim had invited me over to watch VII and I still remember being so stoked to not have to watch to get a VHS copy of the show.

So since today is the anniversary, I figured I share some things I love about WrestleMania VII. 

7.  Bret Hart's solo career launches. Hart and his tag team partner Jim Neidhart lost the WWF Tag Team Championships that night to the Nasty Boys. It was pretty much the end of the Hart Foundation as Bret would get a huge push as a solo act and won the Intercontinental Championship at the company's next pay-per-view, SummerSlam 1991. They'd tried this a few years prior, but the Hitman and Anvil ended up reuniting. This time, however, Hart went full speed ahead as Neidhart joined forces with Owen Hart for a while. 

Courtesy: WWE

6. Blindfold match. The blindfold match between Rick Martel and Jake "The Snake" Roberts gets criticism from some fans. However, I enjoyed the hell out of it and the story that led to the match. Back in the early 90s, there were no Raw or monthly pay-per-views. WWF was able to build this story and let it simmer from the fall of 1990 all the way to the culmination in March 1991. 

5. Andre's swan song. I don't think anyone knew it, but WrestleMania VII would be Andre the Giant's last Mania. He died less than two years later and even at the event in Los Angeles. He wrestled a few more times after this. You probably recall Andre didn't actually wrestle at Mania, just aided the Big Bossman in his match against Mr. Perfect.

Courtesy: WWE
4. The Streak is born. In 1991 no one had any idea that the Undertaker would still be showing up for WrestleMania in 2018. I had believed at that point that the gimmick would be around for a year or two and then fade away like so many of the other over the top cartoonish characters we'd come to see in the WWF. But much credit to Undertaker, Paul Bearer and WWE Creative for staying the course and creating one of the most iconic characters ever. The Streak was something of importance for more than two decades as well. 

3. Hulkamania ran wild again. Yes, I was a Hulkamaniac, even in high school. I couldn't stand the fact that Sgt. Slaughter was WWF Champion. It was great to see the belt back where it belonged (even though I had no problem with Warrior's run on top either).

2. Kerry Von Erich makes his WrestleMania debut. WrestleMania VII was Kerry's one and only Mania appearance. Growing up, I was a huge fan of his. When he signed with WWF in 1990 as the Texas Tornado I was excited to see him on the big stage. His run was solid despite having the personal demons he battled. His appearance at Mania was short and sweet, but he was victorious that night beating Dino Bravo.

1. "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior. This remains my personal favorite when it comes to WrestleMania matches. The emotion involved in it radiated through the TV that night. The end was amazing with Warrior, war paint smeared all over his face, pinned an exhausted Macho Man with one foot on his chest. Some criticized that move, but to me it was perfect. Then with Sherri turning on Savage and Elizbeth making the save made me pop. I loved Savage and Sherri together, but we all know he and Liz were meant to be.

So what are your favorite moments from that night? Share here or on the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

My wrestling dream gig

Picturing myself with WWE...

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I have been very fortunate with the opportunities I've received in pro wrestling. Before I graduated college, I mailed a resume and cover letter to the WWF (it was 1995) basically seeking any kind of employment with the company. I got a very polite letter in response telling me there were no openings at that time but they'd keep my information on file for six months. Through the years I'd apply several more times, including the ring announcer gig that Lillian Garcia was hired for.

I was quite clueless about how to even get into the indy wrestling business. But in 1999, I made contact with a company in Muscle Shoals, Alabama called Millenium Wrestling Alliance. I literally stood on a stage across from the ring and ran a small camcorder on a tripod. After moving to Indiana I did nothing with wrestling again until 2005, when I was asked to ring announce a couple IWA: Midsouth shows. 
Managing Velvet Sky in 2011
Then in 2010, I got a chance to ref a couple matches for an indy company in McLeansboro, Illinois. That was followed by a guest managing spot with Velvet Sky at a TNA show in Marion and my commentary duties with All American Pro Wrestling. I eventually got involved in an angle and wrestled. For the last two years, I've been announcing for Stride Pro Wrestling. I'm content with that and I'm ecstatic that I've done all these things.

Sam Roberts on the Kickoff Show for PayBack
Courtesy: WWE
As you might guess, though, I want more. Yes, I would love to have been a manager or ring announcer or even commentator in WWE. I know time is not on my side in terms of age, but I believe this goal I have is somewhat realistic. I would love the opportunity to be on the panel for a WWE Kick Off Show. Other better-connected wrestling fans like Sam Roberts, (someone I have great respect for) have had this chance. Now I'd like a shot. I'd be content with doing one segment.

I know there is a chance someone from WWE or someone who is connected with WWE is reading this. Please let me know the proper route to take to make this dream became a reality. Thanks and wish me luck. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

WWE Hall of Famer reaches out to Stride star

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

More than 30 years ago, Hulkamania was born. Hulk Hogan (with the backing of Vince McMahon) took pro wrestling to new heights. It became a worldwide phenomenon and eventually transitioned into 'sports entertainment.' Hogan called his followers Hulkamaniacs. I myself was one as were millions of others.

The Hulkster as you might imagine inspired plenty of up and coming pro wrestlers. That includes Stride Pro Wrestling's own Ragin' Redneck. The Redneck showed up in Stride last fall when he battled Curly. After a less than stellar record, Redneck traced his red and yellow roots and earlier this month Redneckmania was born.

The new character debuted at the Stride Pro Wrestling Anniversary 2 show. Despite losing to newcomer Chase King, Redneckmania was flying. He took to social media and tweeted the man who inspires him, Hulk Hogan himself. The Hulkster reacted and retweeted Redneckmania's appreciative post.

Many of Hogan's followers reacted, some negatively. But that's what social media has become. We applaud Redneckmania for taking a chance and putting himself out there on social media. Keep up with him on Twitter (@kingjohnrobert). The next Stride Pro Wrestling show is set for Saturday, April 7 at the Carterville Community Center. It's a benefit for referee Lane Austin.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Eight is enough, actually too much

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

WWE is adding one more name to the 2018 Hall of Fame class. 'The World's Strongest Man' Mark Henry will join seven others already announced for the ceremony on Friday, April 6. I have no opposition to Henry going into the Hall of Fame, but I do believe eight inductees is a bit much. I suspect there will be another Legacy Class announced too.

The point of this post isn't to judge who is going into the Hall of Fame. Each man and woman has the done enough in their respective careers to be inducted. Having attended nine Hall of Fame ceremonies in the past, I know first-hand speeches can be long and the evening gets out of control quick. Ten years ago when Ric Flair went in his speech coupled with the Rock's induction of his father and grandfather extended the evening past midnight. Kane had to cut off Mr. T in New Orleans. I love hearing from some of my favorite Superstars, but there's a point when we have to wrap up things.

Class of 2013
My favorite ceremony was in 2013. There was a class of five Superstars and one celebrity at Madison Square Garden. Each one could have been the headliner that year too, with Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Booker T, Mick Foley and Trish Stratus going in. Vince McMahon inducted Donald Trump that night too.

If I held the keys to the castle I would limit the ceremony to four Superstar inductions, one celebrity (and not each year) and the Warrior Award along with the video package for the Legacy Class. Those four Superstars would include a main eventer, a tag team, a female wrestler, and the last spot would be for an announcer, manager or mid card Superstar. On years of no celebrities, I'd add another midlevel Superstar.

Henry pins Orton
Courtesy: WWE
Mark Henry has been involved in pro wrestling for more than 20 years. He's more than worthy, having great runs with the cream of the crop, including his 2011 World Championship reign. However, I don't recall hearing anything about an official retirement. Personally, I'd rather WWE wait a couple years to induct Superstars after retirement. But I also understand wanting to strike while the iron is hot like they did with Edge, Shawn Michaels and even Flair.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Show me the Moolah or maybe not

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

By now you've seen the news that WWE had announced the first ever Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal. It was designed to be a tribute to the longest reigning champion in women's wrestling, and a female version of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal that was established in 2014. However, there was fan backlash and WrestleMania sponsor Mars (Snicker's) released this statement:

We were recently made aware of the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc’s (WWE) decision to honor a former wrestler during the upcoming WrestleMania 34 event. As a principle-based business that has long championed creating inclusive environments that encourage and empower everyone to reach their full potential, this is unacceptable. We are engaging with the WWE to express our disappointment.

The battle royal will still happen, but now will be called the WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal. I like the idea of honoring a legend in this way. Several of Moolah's trainees have accused the now-deceased Superstar of keeping their earnings and pimping them out to male wrestlers. But is this the right call to make. I'm simply going to play Devil's advocate for the rest of this discussion.

Mad Maxine, a Moolah trainee and accuser
Courtesy: WWE

Yes, change the name

Because of everything going on in Hollywood and beyond, reacting to allegations of abuse is the right thing to do. Moolah has been dead for more than a decade and obviously can't defend herself against the allegations.

Frankly, I was surprised the company made the plan in the first place. When the women's tournament last year was named after Mae Young and not Moolah, I made the assumption it was due to the past allegations. This situation is not new.

Courtesy: WWE

No, leave Moolah alone

Remember innocent until proven guilty. Society typically takes the word of the accuser over the accused. That's not to say we shouldn't. But in my own personal experiences, I've seen reports of sexual abuse reported and the accuser later recant their statement. Lives are destroyed in these situations.

Pro wrestling is an interesting form of entertainment. In my 1-2-3 cents, many fans don't separate the character from the person playing that character. Case in point, Mary Lillian Ellison is the woman behind the Moolah character. She's the one who allegedly treated her trainees, not the woman we came to love to hate to love again on WWE programming. 

I'll lump that in with the Ultimate Warrior too. I know he legally changed his name to Warrior and years ago made several homophobic and other statements that some people found offensive. Now he's in the WWE Hall of Fame and has an award named in his honor. But again, I view the statements made by the man different than what was done in the ring.

It's not unlike the Bill Cosby situation.  I know some networks have pulled the plug on the Cosby Show. Dr. Cliff Huxatable isn't accused of drugging women and taking advantage of them, Cosby is. Plus when pulling the show the other actors, writers and crew members are being punished.

No one discredits the Joker for Heath Ledger's overdose death. However, when Sherri Martel's name was brought up to have the Battle Royal named after her, some discredit Sherri because of her addiction issues. But to that, I say addiction is a disease and would we be critical of someone who had cancer due to years of smoking? Or liver problems because they're an alcoholic? I realize I'm on a slippery slope at this point and a whole different argument can be made for addiction and substance abuse issues. I'll save that discussion for another day...

Again, I get that wrestling is different from the rest of Hollywood. Changing the name is probably the best for everyone involved. I'll close with this. I applaud WWE giving the Women's Division more opportunities. However, instead of copying everything the men have done (Money in the Bank, Elimination Chamber and Royal Rumble) I'd like to see some other kind of new and innovative match that's exclusive for the women. Let the male Superstars play catchup in that regard. I have no ideas for this women's match, just something I'd like to see WWE Creative come up with soon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Braun's tag team partner

Braun battling other tag teams
Courtesy: WWE

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Based on the actions of Monday night's Raw, Braun Strowman has secured a match against the tag team champions, the Bar. It's an interesting twist in the WWE tag team situation. It's lead to plenty of speculation on who Braun will choose as a partner.

The Bar
Courtesy: WWE
WWE has done an amazing job building Braun into a monster. Probably too amazing actually. Despite the loss to Roman Reigns at Elimination Chamber, Strowman has been unbeatable. Even in a handicap tag team match against Sheamus and Cesaro, I have a hard time believing he's at a disadvantage. I don't ever recall one man holding the WWE (WWF) tag team championships, but I'll admit I find the idea intriguing. Some will argue that's disrespectful to the lineage of the championships. But again, it's a predetermined activity. It's hard to apply logic to an illogical situation.

So, should WWE book a partner for Braun? I do think a title switch is needed. I had hoped a team, not on the current roster would have stepped up to the challenge, (not the Young Bucks) but this scenario works for me too. There have been a few names floated as possible partners for Braun. But from everything I've read (take that with a grain of salt) there is no definitive plan yet for this situation.

Elias plays some music
Courtesy: WWE
Elias: I'm not sure how I feel about this one. The two have been battling it out for weeks. Applying logic (I know what I said earlier) this makes little sense. But Elias is over big. The two would definitely shake things up in a match at Mania. 

Courtesy: WWE
Neville: For obvious reasons, I like this idea. Neville has been MIA since the fall. There's been speculation that he's working with WWE management on a possible return. I loved him as King of the Cruiserweights. I could almost see he and Braun like a more destructive version of Enzo and Big Cass.

Big Cass
Courtesy: WWE
Big Cass: Speaking of the big guy, he should be coming off the injured list soon. I'm just throwing that name out there because obviously now that Enzo is gone from WWE, Cass really has nothing to come back to at this point. Pairing him up with a monster like Braun could establish an amazingly dangerous duo.

So who do you think Braun should team with? Or should he go it alone? Weigh in here or on the My 1-2-3 Cents Facebook page.

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