Sunday, March 26, 2017

Celebrity Jersey Cards #315 Richard Pryor & Chelsea Handler

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities seen wearing sports jerseys.  As baseball season approaches, I am featuring the MLB champion Chicago Cubs!

The legendary Richard Pryor was born in Peoria, IL and earned his Celebrity Jersey card from his performance in Brewster's Millions.  Pryor actually looks very natural in the uniform.  I could see him as a reliever from the late 60's.
Comedian Chelsea Handler was born in New Jersey.  Among her many credits is the highly successful Chelsea Lately, which ran from 2007-2014.  She showed pretty good form is tossing the first pitch at Wrigley Field leading to her Celebrity Jersey Card.  She gets extra points for wearing the Cubs hat, too.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Working With Elliott Serrano

I have been a fan and admirer of Elliott Serrano for years.  The man they call "King of Chicago geeks" is what Johngy's Beat dreams to be.  While I will never reach the level of success that Elliott has, I can proudly say that I have worked with him on multiple projects and can also call him a friend.
I first met and worked with Elliott at the Benefit for Thailand Volunteers, a charity wrestling event organized by PL Myers.  I had the opportunity to pick his brain a bit about his road to success.  Elliott was as nice as could be.
Ever the humble guy, he told me to just keep plugging, to put my stuff everywhere and to do as much as I could.  It sounds like simple advice, but actually too often we get lost by focusing on one thing, while there is so much out there and so many ways to achive a goal.
Recently, PL Myers approached me about joining him for a revamped version of his long-running HeroTV cable show.  Of course, I signed on to co-host with him.  Last week, we started taping interviews and our first guest was Elliott.
I was ecstatic to have the chance to do a real interview with Elliott.  Time flew as we talked about his career, his heroes and more.  It was more like three friends talking.  He had some great stories.  I had a lot of fun and I think the viewers will enjoy it, too.
HeroTV is scheduled to start in April.  The Elliott interview is slated tro air later this summer.  I look forward to HeroTV, more adventures and hopefully more Elliott! 
Elliott Serrano and me in Villa Park, IL-March 2017.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tessa Blanchard Is A Third Generation Star On The Rise

Tessa Blanchard is a third generation wrestler.  Her grandfather Joe and her fatherTully were quite accomplished in the ring.  Joe played three years in the Canadian Football League and then wrestled for over 25 years.  Tully wrestled for over 30 years and might be best known as an original member of the Four Horsemen.  At 21, Tessa is already continuing the legacy.
Tessa had a couple matches in the WWE, but has mainly kept busy honing her craft on the independent scene.  I had the pleasure of watching her in action at Resistance Pro.
Wrestling is in her genes, but she also is working very hard to create her own path.  She has the looks, charisma and in-ring ability to go far.  At only 21, she has a bright future ahead of her.  I predict she will one day do big things in the WWE.
Friends and regular readers of Johngy's Beat know that I have a particular fascination with familial connections.  Third generation stars are very rare.  The Rock and Randy Orton are two of the biggest names.  There are a select few third gen women wrestlers, maybe most notably Nattie Neidhart.  I think Tessa will become the best third gen woman wrestler.  I'm glad I got to see her up close during her early days.
Tessa Blanchard and me in Summit, IL-May 2016.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tony Scarpone at C2E2 2016

Tony Scarpone is the man behind Pro Wrestling Blitz, an independent wrestling company which usually runs shows in Joliet, IL.  Scarpone has been a fixture on the Chicago wrestling scene for many years.  I'd say he is a retired wrestler, too, but do wrestlers really retire?
It's no secret I am a loyal and staunch supporter of Resistance Pro wrestling, but I also believe there is room in the business for more than one company.  Competition is good.  Technically, these two companies compete, but their fan base, location, style and many other factors are different.
In any case, Scarpone and Blitz put on excellent shows.  Their production values might be second to none, at least in this area.  Some of their main wrestlers, like Grin, have pretty big followings and deservedly so.
Scarpone has always been good to me and I respect what he has done with Blitz.  If you happen to be around the Joliet area, you might want to check out a Blitz event.  Head to PWBlitz.com for more info, including their next event.
Tony Scarpone and me in Chicago, IL-March 2016.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Armando Estrada in Blizzard Brawl 2015

Armando Estrada had a nice run in the WWE mostly as a manager.  He remains active on the independent scene and at comic cons.
Estrada gets it.  He is armed with his trademark hat, cigar and sun glasses for fans to get the full experience and he doesn't charge ridiculus prices.  As a fan, of course, you will want the full Estrada expeirnce.  Why not?
Despite playing a heel quite well, Estrada is actually very fan friendly in person.  In short, he is the ideal celebrity guest.
You can follow Estrada on twitter to get updates and other fun stuff.  Estrada is fairly active and very entertaining.  Check him out and see him if you can.  It is definitely a fun time.
Armando Estrada and me in Waukesha, WI-December 2015.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cards That Never Were: Henry Boucha Topps 1972, '75 & '77

Cards That Never Were is a recurring series in which I create virtual cards for players who were missed in various sets.  It is a concept I have borrowed from too many others to list, but I thank them all for their work and inspiration.
Henry Boucha played six seasons in the NHL.  He broke in with the Detroit Red Wings in the 1971-72 season and played three seasons with them.  He played one season with the Minnesota North Stars.  Then he went to the Kansas City Scouts for a season and went with them to Colorado (as the Rockies) for one season, before retiring after the 1976-77 season.  He also had a short stint with the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA.
On a couple of sidenotes, Boucha is a full-blooded Chippewa Ojibwa.  Also, in January of 1975, he was involved in an ugly stick incident which left him with broken bones around his eyes and blurred vision.  While he played two more seasons, it ultimately lead to the end of his career.
Boucha's hockey cards were a bit spotty.  He did not receive one after his first, fourth and sixth season (the last would have been a career-capper).  Of course, I had to attempt to correct this by creating a card for him from the sets of 1972-73, '75-'76 and '77-'78.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Friendly Encounters: PL Myers and Matt Parker

Friendly Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends who have met celebrities.

Former wrestling manager extraordinaire PL Myers was "the Shot to the Top."  He worked with some of the all-time greats of wrestling, such as the Road Warriors and Bobby Heenan.
Matt "Big Money" Parker was a Contributor Extraordinaire during the earlier days of Johngy's Beat.  Along with a lot of video work and computer assistance, Matt interviewed some very big names, like Craig Biggio and the Ultimate Warrior.
When two big hitters like PL and Matt get together, anything can happen.  I'm just fortunate to be friends with both.
PL is pretty much retired from the wrestling business and Matt is pretty much retired from Johngy's Beat.  Both have moved on to more important things, such as marital bliss.  While I miss both men, I also am happy for each, because they both seeem to be happy and content.
Of course, the wrestling door is always open for a return from PL and you just neer know in wrestling.  The Johngy's Beat door is also always open for a return of Big Money.  Either way, I have great memories of both and more importantly, both are still a part of my life away from business.
PL Myers and Matt Parker in Midlothian, IL-November 2011.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Celebrity Jersey Cards #314 Shawn Michaels & Sasha Banks

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities seen wearing sports jerseys.  With WrestleMania around the corner, I am featuring some champions sporting hockey jerseys.

WWE Hall of Famer "The Heart Break Kid" Shawn Michaels made an appearance at a Pittsburgh Penguins game to introduce the line named after him.  The "HBK Line" of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup last season.  Joining him on his Celebrity Jersey Card is broadcaster Scott Oake.
Continuing the relationship between the WWE and the Penguins, the HBK Line of Hagelin, Bonino and Kessel compared championship belts with then-WWE RAW Women's champ Sasha Banks.  WWE owner Vince McMahon had previously gifted the Penguins with a special title belt for their Stanley Cup championship.  This Celebrity Jersey Card has three Cup champs, a wrestling champ and two title belts!  Banks, born Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado in California, is a first cousin to Snoop Dog and has won the RAW Women's title three times and the WWE NXT Women's title once.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cards That Never Were: Bobby Orr 1978 and 1979

Cards That Never Were is a recurring series in which I create virtual trading cards for players who were missed in various sets over the years.  It is a concept I have borrowed from too many others to list, but I thank them all.
Bobby Orr came up with the Boston Bruins in the 1966-67 season.  He played with the Bruins through the 1975-76 season, although he saw limited action in that last year due to injuries.  Orr's place in the Hall of Fame was already cinched by this time.
With knee injuries plaguing him and contract negotiations stalling with the Bruins, Orr signed with the Chicago Blackhawks for the '76-'77 season.  He played 20 games in his first season in Chicago, but missed the entire next season.  In '78-'79, he came back, but only managed six games before he was forced to retire.
Orr received cards in every set from 1967-68 through '75-'77.  Somewhat oddly, his '76-77 card shows Orr with the Blackhawks, thanks to some airbrushing.  He received his last card, despite only playing 20 games in '76-'77, because of his star status.
He did not appear on another regular issue card during his career, which is somewhat understandable based on seasons of zero and six games.
Since my CTNW creations favor Chicago cards, I had to fill the Orr void in the '77-'78 and '78-'79 sets.  Fortunately, I found several pictures of Orr in the Hawks jersey.  I would have liked one in the white jersey, but I'm happy enough with these.
I vividly remember the hope every season.  It's a shame we could not have had more play from Orr.  At least we now have more cards of him.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Haley Reinhart + Coca-Cola = Perfection

I first discovered Haley Reinhart when I came across a YouTube Video of her singing a cover of "Creep" by Radiohead.  I was blown away.  I looked up all of her other stuf on YouTube and my fandom kept growing.
It just kept getting better.  A little more research on HaleyReinhart.com revealed that she is a native of the Chicago area.  She placed third in the tenth season of American Idol and her rendition of Bennie and the Jets was ranked by E! Online as the 14th best AI performance of all time.  She was ranked similarly high on several other AI lists, too.
Since AI, she has performed solo and as part of Postmodern Jukebox.  She also has appeared on stage with her musician father Harry.  She is fantastic in any of those combinations.
I had the pleasure of seeing Reinhart perform last summer and met her prior to the show.  She was as friendly as could be and just adobable.
I thought my opinion of Reinhart was about as good as it could be, when I came across Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart "Caley" Stageit on YouTube.  Around the 19 minute mark, Reinhart reaches over to a nearby table, grabs a Coke and proceeds to take a big swig (see visual proof below).
Thee you have it.  The perfect woman.  She is as cute as can be.  She sings like an angel, but can also belt out a rocker.  Plus she likes Coke!  Now if only she liked men twice her age, I might be in heaven.