Saturday, October 31, 2020

Scariest of All-Time Part 31: The Undertaker

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Of course, I wanted to end this series on a high note, and I don't know that they come any scarier than the Undertaker. When he first appeared in WWE (30 years ago next month),  I thought he'd be a flash in the pan. There was no way a dead man gimmick was going to go very far.

But man, was I wrong. While I wouldn't add him to my top 10 favorites, he is definitely one of the wrestlers I respect and admire. He has put himself through so much over the years, and just with his loyalty and consistency alone, he's in the conversation of all-time greats. 

I loved the early stuff. Even though it was borderline cheesy at times, the presentation was so memorable. Stuffing his opponent in a body bag as Paul Bearer stood by with the urn was great. Casket matches eventually became a thing, and then the first set of Buried Alive matches. The Undertaker was part of the first Hell in a Cell match as well. 

I could write for days about the Undertaker and what he's meant to the business. We all know it. I am just glad WWE is honoring him all November long for his 30 years as that character. Despite its evolution (which helps characters survive), the Undertaker has a permanent spot in WWE history.

Side note: I didn't do a separate feature on Paul Bearer but very easily could have. Bearer and Undertaker together was one of the best manager/wrestler combos. And even apart, Bearer evolved the character and made it work with Mankind, Kane, and Vader. Kudos to him for that. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Scariest of All-Time Part 30: The Fiend


@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Without a doubt, the Fiend is my favorite thing happening right now in wrestling. I have always been a fan of Bray Wyatt, dating back to the early days on NXT as Husky Harris. Then when he and his family arrived on the scene a few years later, I was even more impressed.

Now with the Firefly Funhouse and the new characters, another dimension has been added to the cult favorite. Adding Alexa Bliss to the formula has also been enjoyable and I'm curious to see where things go from here.
My only criticism of the Fiend is that I would have kept the two personalities separate. Bray Wyatt hosts the Firefly Funhouse and The Fiend is a separate entity who comes out to wrestle on special occasions. I think I'd even do it where Bray wrestles in the sweater and pants from time to time too. 

But regardless, I still find this story a compelling one. It's a credit to the talent of Wyatt to pull off yet another character that has connected with the WWE Universe. When that music hits and the red light comes on, you know you're in for something special. As Puppet Mr. McMahon would say, "This is such good shit!" 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Scariest of All-Time Part 29: Jacksyn Crowley


@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know a whole lot about indy wrestler Jacksyn Crowley. But I can tell you I like what I've seen of him in Cape Championship Wrestling. He is the company's current heavyweight champion, having beaten his brother Otis and Cash Borden in a triple threat match over the summer.

I have seen Jacksyn in action a couple times in my trips over to CCW. Most notable was an amazing contest between him and Ace Hawkins. The action was intense that night and the two stole the show. I'm pretty sure he's been spotted at the AEW Arena (I know that's not the right name for it) and I wouldn't be surprised to see him get some TV time in the ring somewhere someday. 

Just take a look at Jacksyn. He presents himself in a way that sends a chill down the spine. However, the fans love him. While his look is scary, his ability is far from it. He's clashed with other greats including Marko Stunt, Austin Lane, and Dexter Roswell. I encourage you to watch his work and see for yourself. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Scariest of All-Time Part 28: The Wyatt Family


@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

The Wyatt Family is one of my favorite factions in recent years in pro wrestling. The unit's leader, Bray Wyatt, put off a mystic that hasn't been seen before. Of course, add the other members' size and strength, Luke Harper, Erik Rowan, and Braun Strowman, and you have an unstoppable unit.

The Family added little things to ramp up the intimidation factor like the sheep masks, the lantern, and even the sledgehammers that the Bludgeon Brothers carried. When they went head-to-head with the Shield, it was one of my favorite thing happening in that time frame. I wasn't thrilled when they added Randy Orton. However, Daniel Bryan's addition was something I enjoyed. 

Unfortunately, Harper and Rowan have left the company. The mystery cage Rowan carried fell more than flat. And Harper is back to being Brody Lee, now the leader of the Dark Order in AEW. Strauman has created his own niche, and Bray Wyatt is doing new things (spoiler, more on my thoughts of the Fiend coming soon). 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Scariest of All-Time Part 27: New Jack

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One look at New Jack and it's obvious this is a guy you don't want to f*ck with. His forehead is a reminder of just how brutal the pro wrestling business can be. But anyone who knows New Jack knows not only can he take a lot of punishment, he can dish it out as well.

If you haven't seen the Dark Side of the Ring episode dedicated to New Jack, I highly recommend it. We learn more about this controversial wrestler. He has sliced and diced many of his opponents, surely eliciting a response of fear from those who have never been in the ring against him.

Just recently New Jack was in southern Illinois for a new company called Anna Fight Underground. He didn't wrestle that night as I believe he was recovering from an injury. But decades after his debut, New Jack is still making appearances and fans want to see more of him.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Scariest of All-Time Part 26: Bam Bam Bigelow


@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

One look at Bam Bam Bigelow and you knew he was a badass. With tattoos up and down his arm and more famously on his scalp, Bigelow was one of the scariest guys to set through the ropes. Early on in his career, he wrestled as Crusher Yurkov, a menacing man from Russia. 

When he arrived in the WWF during the summer of 1987, he came in with a lot of fanfare. He turned down the offers of all the heel managers to reveal Oliver Humperdink as his manager. While he wasn't scary as a babyface, he was quite impressive during that first run. I had actually picked him to win the WrestleMania IV tournament (I was a hopeful 15-year-old at the time). 

By the time he returned to the company in 1993 he was a much different character. The Beast from the East lived up to his name and dominated the competition. He joined forces with Luna Vachon and the usual duo showed us just how scary they could be.  Bigelow eventually joined the Million Dollar Corporation and even main evented WrestleMania 11 against Lawrence Taylor. 

Bigelow sadly died in 2007. As far as I'm concerned he was one of the all-time best big men in the ring.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Scariest of All-Time Part 25: The Midwest Monster Hunters

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I first came to know the Midwest Monster Hunters when Bo Sawyer and Jason Tiller showed up in Stride Pro Wrestling in early 2018. The two worked as a tag team along with Blaine Black in southern Indiana and parts of southern Illinois. Tiller and Sawyer quickly rose in the tag team ranks and had two runs as the tag team champions in Stride.

The trio has been known to hunt werewolves, vampires, and other things that go bump in the night. Sawyer and Tiller even went head-to-head in Stride against Abyss and the Viking King Roger Matheus. What a battle that was in October 2018. 

Bo has also evolved his own character work and wrestles now as Graven. Head back to the My 1-2-3 Cents Podcast archives on Jittery Monkey and hear more about that. It's Episode 308. I'm looking forward to COVID being over and seeing more of these guys in action in person. I have a lot of respect for what they're doing inside the ring and out with the brand they're building. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Scariest Wrestlers of All-Time Part 24: Nailz


@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Before Nailz was a hardened ex-con, he was a clean-cut pro wrestler named Kevin Kelly. But somewhere along the way, he committed a crime and went to the prison in Cobb County, Georgia. While there, he was allegedly tortured by one of the prison guards, the Big Bossman. In 1992, Nailz was released and sought revenge on the Bossman.

He jumped the former corrections officer during a Superstars of Wrestling taping. Nailz beat the crap out of Bossman, using a nightstick in the assault. As Bossman recouped from the attack, Nailz went on a path of destruction, destroying enhancement talent along the way. The two eventually met in a Nightstick on a Pole match at Survivor Series 92. Bossman got his revenge and Nailz ended up leaving shortly thereafter, for famously (again allegedly) attacking Vince McMahon. 

Even though the prisoner gimmick was sorta hokey, Nailz did add a fear factor with it. The distorted voice and his disregard for human life made him a dangerous competitor while he was in the WWF. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Scariest of All-Time Part 23: One Man Gang

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I remember when One Man Gang arrived on World Class Championship Wrestling with his manager Gary Hart. The big man had a look that was more than intimidating. The mohawk with the skull tattoos on either side of his head showed fans just how tough this guy was. Remember, this was before we got a look at Bam Bam Bigelow's tattooed skull a few years later.

The Gang was double tough and went toe-to-toe with all the company's top good guys, including the Von Erichs and Bruiser Brody. OMG's look reminded me of a biker, complete with a chain that came into play in matches more than once. But eventually, he would travel to the UWF and win the promotion's heavyweight title. He lost the belt to his future tag team partner Big Bubba Rogers (the Big Bossman) and then headed to the WWF. 

In the WWF, One Man Gang would challenge Hulk Hogan. His size and strength made him the perfect foil for Hogan in that era. For some crazy reason, Vince McMahon decided to change the persona, and the street-tough from Chicago became a shucking and jiving guy from deepest, darkest Africa. 

I was disappointed overall with the Akeem character, though he was quite memorable. However, One Man Gang was the better gimmick as far as I'm concerned. I think even WWE would agree, having brought back the Gang for the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania 17. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Scariest of All-Time Part 22: Karrion Kross

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Karrion Kross is probably my favorite 'newcomer' in 2020. Even though he's been wrestling for years, I only first became familiar with his work in Impact Wrestling. I was impressed with the little bit that I did see of him there. Now that he's in NXT/WWE, I've come to appreciate him even more, coupled with a podcast interview he recently did with Chris Van Vlet. 

Now for the scary part. Kross' look is one meant to intimidate his opponents. He's someone that if you run into in a dark alley, you'd immediately turn around. I think even in daylight, he would send you in the other direction. He doesn't step away from anyone and goes toe-to-toe with each opponent that tries to stop him.

He and Scarlett Bourdeaux's entrance on NXT is nothing short of awesome. These two are the future of the company. When Kross got hurt in his championship match against Keith Lee was a huge letdown. I hope that he comes back better than ever at the top of the card once he's healthy enough to get back in the ring. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Scariest of All-Time: 'Bloody' Dexter Roswell

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I've sung the praises of Dexter Roswell in the past. Roswell is a product of the Stride Pro Wrestling Training Academy for those who don't know or don't remember. Four years ago, when he debuted, Dexter Roswell was a snobby political character who insisted on using hand sanitizer after making contact with fans. In hindsight, he may have been on to something in 2016...

Over the years, the character, like any good one, has evolved. Fans in Stride are getting a taste of 'Bloody' Dexter, a character first developed in Cape Championship Wrestling. Roswell is clearly a troubled individual as he comes to the ring with a different persona at each show. He's unpredictable and, along the way, has developed a much needed mean streak.  

He really rose to the occasion back in March at Strideiversary when he captured the Stride Pro Wrestling No Limits Championship. Bloody Dexter pulled out all the stops and did what it took to win. I salute his efforts in the ring and look forward to seeing what is no doubt a bright (or dark) future for the macabre Dexter Roswell.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Scariest of All-Time Part 20: 3 Faces of Foley


@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

One person, three personalities. That's the best way, to sum up, Mick Foley, right? Although some might argue four personalities when you add Mick to the equation. However, for this blog, I'm focusing on Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack.

Of course, fans were first introduced to Cactus Jack. I remember seeing him in wrestling magazines first, being involved in bloody battles both here in the United States and Japan. Then he emerged in the UWF (Herb Abrams) and eventually WCW and ECW. Jack was a dangerous and scary figure in the ring, putting his body on the line and taking more out of himself than his opponents.

In the WWF, Foley became Mankind. Personally, that's my favorite incarnation of the character. I feel like it had the most depth and grew the most over time. In the early stages, his music and his screeches sent chills down my spine. But even as a good guy, carrying a sock (Socko) and writing books, you still knew this guy was badass and meant business.

Dude Love, while less violent, was no less scary. To think all of these characters were in Foley's head at the same time was nothing short of impressive. His trifecta at the 1998 Royal Rumble was one for the ages. I can't put over enough how much I have grown to appreciate and respect Foley through the years. He's made such a mark on the world of pro wrestling. Thanks, Mick!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Scariest of All-Time: Cash Borden


@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

What can I say about Cash Borden? First, the disclaimer, he's a friend of mine in Stride Pro Wrestling. Cash isn't the biggest guy in the fight, but he is definitely the most fearless. The things I've seen him do have been pretty incredible. He's scary because he doesn't care what he does to his opponents or HIMSELF. He inflicts just as much pain on himself when he's in the ring. 

He went toe-to-toe with Roger Matheus (a previous entry for this blog). Cash even came to the ring when Roger and I battled inside a steel cage and helped me get the win. He had some help from his trusty taser. And that's the other thing about Cash; he's not afraid to grab an object or two to get the upper hand. Barbed wire bats, tasers, and light tubes are just a few of his weapons of choice. 

Cash continues to carve a niche for himself here in southern Illinois and southeast Missouri as one of the all-time greats. I appreciate what he brings to the ring each time he gets in there for a fight. He and others are also working to establish Anna Fight Underground on the local indy scene. Give them a look as well. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Scariest of All-Time Part 18: Vader

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

The transformation Leon White made from 'Baby Bull' to Big Van Vader may be one of the most drastic in the history of pro wrestling. Vader was a brutal big man who stopped at nothing to kick some ass. His brute strength and attitude made him one of the toughest of all-time. Vader was also one of the best big men to ever step through the ropes.

Early in the presentation of the character was the most fear-inducing. The giant mask that shot off steam after he took it off was quite impressive. Vader would then proceed to beat the crap out of whoever he was in the ring against. One of the most infamous times being the match with Cactus Jack where Jack lost an ear in the battle. 

When he turned babyface in WCW in 1995 right before being fired I feel like the character jumped the shark. Vader should have never been a good guy. He was a big, nasty heel and got enjoyment out of beating up his opponents. While his WWE run was okay it was far from what we all hoped for or expected. I'm not sure where he got off track but a Vader world title run in the WWF should have happened as far as I'm concerned. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Scariest Wrestlers of All-Time: Viscera


@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

When Men on Mission arrived on the scene in WWF in 1993, I never imagined he would become a dark and demonic figure. As Mabel, the 500 pounder danced his way to the ring with his partner Mo and their rapping manager Oscar. Then the duo turned heel and dumped Oscar. Eventually, Mabel became a king but later his persona took on a more evil look. 

As Viscera, he wore all black to the ring and changed the color of his eyes to white. He was part of the Ministry of Darkness, joining forces with Undertaker, Paul Bearer, Acolytes, and more. Viscera used his size and power to take control of his opponents.

Viscera then became Big Daddy V, a playboy of sorts. But there was still a mean streak there. I can't remember what happened first, the run with Lillian Garcia or his time being managed by Matt Striker. None-the-less though, Viscera was a fear-inducing monster on WWE programming for many years. May he rest in peace. 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Scariest of All-Time: Kevin Sullivan & Fallen Angel


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Kevin and Nancy Sullivan scared the crap out of me as a kid. I'd read about them on the pages of the Apter mags. The couple made us all believe that they worshipped the devil. Nancy, of course, was the Fallen Angel. Those pics of them on the beach wrapped in snakes along with the likes of Purple Haze, Bob Roop, and Oliver Humperdink haunted my young brain. The group was known collectively as the Army of Darkness.

I don't remember seeing Sullivan on TV until he signed with Jim Crockett Promotions in 1987. I thought he was an odd choice to manage the Varsity Club, but eventually, he'd become the leader of the Dungeon of Doom. While that group was more cheesy than scary, it seemed like the perfect fit for Sullivan. 

Fallen Angel went on to become Woman and managed Doom and was associated with the Four Horsemen before her new husband Chris Benoit left the company for WWE. Sadly, we all know how that story ended.

Nevertheless, Sullivan and Angel were an odd couple of the 80s and one that convinced a lot of fans they were the personification of evil. To this day, some people believe Kevin Sullivan is a Satanist. He was that convincing in his role. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Scariest of All-Time: Doink the Clown

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I've read some polls that show as many as 42 percent of Americans are scared of clowns. I do not fall into that category, as I dressed up as a clown for Halloween when I was in third (maybe?) grade. It became even more apparent when Doink the Clown arrived in the WWF in late 1992. 

Personally, I loved this gimmick. Matt Bourne was perfect as the evil clown, terrorizing the babyface Superstars on the roster. His match with Crush at WrestleMania IX is in my favorite moment from that show (I'm not kidding). I thought everything was going great for the character until he turned good in late summer 1993. Then Bourne left and the character lost its luster for me.

When Dink was added to the mix, I checked out on Doink. As far as I'm concerned he never should have turned but I totally get why. What better character to use as a marketing tool to kids than a lovable clown. He may not have been as friendly as Bozo, but fans seemed to enjoy his silly antics and giving bad guys like Bam Bam Bigelow grief.

I will admit I did get a kick out of Men on a Mission and the Bushwhackers coming out as Doinks at Survivor Series 1993. By this point, the fear the character induced was gone and that's okay. I wish rumors of Glen Ruth playing DTK had come to fruition. I think an updated version of the character would have worked during the Attitude Era. I think it could even work now, but I'll enjoy the nostalgia when Doink shows up from time to time. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Scariest of All-Time: The Missing Link

@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Early in my wrestling fandom, a bizarre wrestler entered the scene in World Class Championship Wrestling. He had green face paint, an indescribable haircut, and an impressive physique. He was the Missing Link.

The Link was part of Gen. Skandor Akbar's Devastation Incorporated. He came to the ring to Quiet Riot's Bang Your Head and put his head to good use. His headbutt devastated most of his opponents. The Link would leave WCCW and wrestle very briefly in the WWF. He was a member of the Heenan Family, but from what Bobby Heenan said in interviews years later, the Missing Link was a pain in the ass.

That being said, I always enjoyed his work. He wasn't a master technician in the ring. But he was entertaining. He stayed in character and instilled fear in his opponents' hearts and the fans watching each week. Even when he returned to WCCW and UWF and turned good, he was an intimidating force in the ring. 

Sadly, Dewey Robertson, the man who brought the Link to life, died in 2007. Thanks for the memories. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Scariest of All-Time: Papa Shango

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I love Papa Shango. Yes, I know the gimmick was pretty dang cheesy, but in that era, cheese was good. Or at least I thought it was. This voodoo master made life miserable for his opponents, most notably the Ultimate Warrior. 

Prior to that he stormed the ring at WrestleMania VIII to help Sid Justice beat up on Hulk Hogan. That prompted the returning Warrior to hit the ring at 100 miles per hour and dispose of the heels. That lead Shango to cast a spell on Warrior, who ended up losing his lunch on TV once. 

Papa Shango wasn't long for this world. The man behind the gimmick, Charles Wright eventually became Kama the Ultimate Fighting Machine in the Million Dollar Corporation, then Kama Mustafa in the Nation of Domination before somehow transforming into the Godfather. What an evolution.

But for what it's worth, I always enjoyed the Papa Shango character. Looking back nearly 30 years later it provided plenty of entertainment for fans.