Friday, December 14, 2018

The Dive Bars of America: The Harbor Inn (Ocean City, MD)

by Dan Moore
@SouthieDanimal

Back with another edition of The Dive Bars of the Good Ol’ U.S. of A. I’ve got a 5-category rating system between 1 and 4 handlebar mustaches, which is the preferred mustache by 9 out of 10 old timers in dive bars.

Harbor Inn
216 Somerset St
Ocean City, MD 21842


Being from Boston, I miss out on a lot of things offered in bars outside of Massachusetts. We have no happy hour here, and it’s essentially ruined my life. Oh sure, I can go out and buy a bottle of Bud Light for $6.25 but how am I supposed to get messed up off three beers? (Here’s a secret: Ludes). Therefore, I am forced to venture elsewhere to find happy hours, and on my most recent trip to OC, I stumbled upon this gem of a bar down by the waterfront. The Harbor Inn is a rectangular room with a misshapen floor, a ceiling that’s far too low, and patrons with nary a full set of teeth among them. So, it’s heaven.


Fun Factor: There’s enough to do here that doesn’t involve drinking. There’s a pool table, a touchscreen game and TVs for your sports-watching. Why you would waste your time with any of that when there’s GALLONS of cheap booze hanging out is beyond me. Get your priorities in line, young man.



Cast of Regulars:. This is what you’d call a "Locals Bar." It’s like Cheers, but with more alcoholics. And the locals, at first, don’t take to kindly to strangers. I walked in and you could hear that record scratch. They looked at me like I had shit dripping out of my ears. But then, a patron by the juke box cracked a somewhat suggestive joke, I laughed, and I became one of the gang. By the time I left, I had heard some new and very colorful vulgarities being spewed from the drunken mouths of all my new friends. It was a pleasure.



Thursday, December 13, 2018

WWE TLC 2018 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to the final 2018 PPV Predictions column here at Enuffa.com!  This Sunday is Tables, Ladders and Chairs, and it's a loaded lineup to say the least.  Let's get to it!


I'm not sure how they think they're fitting 12 matches onto this show, but I'm assuming 2-3 of them will be bumped to the pre-show.  That said, about half this lineup looks pretty great, and three of the matches are important enough to main event the show.  There's definitely some filler as well, but if they don't screw it up this should be a good show with some potential main roster MOTYCs.

On to the predictions!

***Dan is back in the lead with a stellar 7/8 Survivor Series showing.  He's at 68% (67/99), I'm behind by one pick with 67% (66/99), and Dave and Landon are tied for third with 65% (64/99).  This race continues to be a nailbiter!***



Mixed Match Finals: R-Truth & Carmella vs. Jinder Mahal & Alicia Fox


What a pointless tournament this was.  Can you imagine a tournament that originally included AJ, Charlotte, Braun, Asuka, Miz, and Finn, that ends up with this as the Final?  Why even include anyone of consequence in this tournament if they're just gonna be subbed out anyway?  So the winners here get the #30 slot in their respective Royal Rumbles next month.  Which means #30 isn't winning either Rumble match.  Whoever draws that number in our house pool can go ahead and eat it, shit it out, and then pee on it.  This match has to be on the pre-show, right?

Justin: I guess Truth and Carmella?  Though I do love Jinder/Alicia's tag team name: Mahalicia!
Dan: Mahal has to win and then when he runs in at 30 be immediately eliminated from the Rumble. BOOK IT.
Landon: Fuck you all, Truth and Carmella
Dave: Truth & Carmella but does anyone care?





Tables Match: Natalya vs. Ruby Riott


Ah, the feud over sunglasses that needlessly exploited the death of Nattie's father.  What a classy organization Vince runs.  A carny to the end.  The action should be decent but I don't care about this feud.  Or tables matches really.  Another pre-show candidate I'd say.

Justin: Nattie wins to put this to bed
Dan: RIOTT SQUAD FOR LIFE
Landon: Natalya
Dave: Nattie





Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy vs. Cedric Alexander


Murphy's a helluva hand, as is Cedric.  This should be a fine match, even though, again, I don't care much about this division.

Justin: Murphy retains
Dan: Buddy Buddy Mitchell
Landon: Murphy retains
Dave: Heh, Buddy Murphy (winner)


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Top Ten Things: Scary Movie Moments

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!

Since it's October I thought I'd do a Halloween-themed list, so today I'll be talking about truly frightening or disturbing moments/scenes in some of my favorite scary films.  I generally don't scare very easy when watching a film; I've seen so many in my lifetime, and coming up with new ways to shock audiences becomes more difficult with each passing year.  But there are some cinematic scares that have endured for me, either because of a visually harrowing moment, or because of the sheer genius of a scene's construction.



10. The Shining: Bear Suit - This first entry isn't terrifying in the traditional sense, but I've included it more because it's such a strange and upsetting image.  In this scene from one of the all-time horror classics, Wendy Torrance is running through the halls of the haunted Overlook Hotel trying to find her son.  She stops in her tracks and the camera abruptly zooms in through the open doorway of one of the rooms, on a ghost dude in a bear suit pleasuring another ghost dude in a tux.  The novel provides an explanation for these supernatural shenanigans, but it's so much more effective as an unexplained cinematic bit.  This visual is so traumatic, so bizarre and disorienting, for both Wendy and the audience, particularly since neither of these men is supposed to be there.  It's like something out of a nightmare that you can barely remember; one of those dreams where you can only recall fragments of out-of-context imagery that stay with you for weeks.

Seriously, what the hell's goin' on?




9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Pointing - The 1978 remake of this sci-fi classic (in my opinion the best version by far) ends with the entire city of San Francisco being taken over by human-impersonating pod people.  The protagonist Matthew Bennell has seemingly escaped without being assimilated and is spotted by his friend Nancy, one of the few humans left in the city.  As she approaches him, he turns and lets out the signature body snatcher screech, revealing to us that he's one of them, and alerting the other pod people to Nancy's presence.  It's a truly terrifying conclusion to the film, and the visual of Donald Sutherland pointing at her accusingly with this inhuman facial expression is an iconic horror moment.

If you ever suspect someone of anything, just point at them like this
and I guarantee they'll own up to every shitty thing they've ever done.

Dan's Top 9: Christmas Movies/TV Shows

This list is in response to Jingles' ri-GODDAMN-diculous list from the other day. There are no parameters here. Anything that’s been in the movies or on TV that has burned some piece of it into your eyeholes is allowed. Because this is America. Also, Just Friends will be nowhere near this list because FOR FUCKSAKE it’s Just Friends. Neither will It's a Wonderful Life because I’m not 92.  (JB Note: I'm still not sure why my picks bother you so much, but whatever-the-fuck-ever.)



9. The Muppet Christmas Carol

Kermit and the gang’s version of Charles Dickens classic is goddamn HILARIOUS. Filled with very adult-themed jokes (the first ghosts are Jacob & Robert Marley...think about it), a few decent original songs and a fine turn as Scrooge for Michael Caine. Featuring all your favorite Muppet characters, this one’s a keeper.



8. How The Grinch Stole Christmas

A true television classic, The Grinch is a must watch each Christmas. Excellent animation by the master Chuck Jones and beautifully narrated by Boris Karloff, this one also contains the great song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, sung by Tony the Tiger himself, Thurl Ravenscroft. The Grinch is a personal favorite of mine as every year when I was a kid, my Nana would read the book to me and my brother and sister on Christmas Eve. The cartoon is great, but I think Nana did the voices better.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Top Ten Things: Ladder Matches

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com, where I count down the ten best or worst things I'm thinking about!

What's on my mind this week?  Why it's the Ladder Match, which was created in the late 1970s in Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling, brought to the WWF by Bret Hart in 1992, and revolutionized by Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania X.  Since then the Ladder Match has been a perennial stuntfest utilized to crown Champions, elevate new stars, and test the limits to which a wrestler can push his body.  For the purposes of this piece I'm disqualifying TLC matches since they technically aren't the same thing, and there would be way too many of them on this list.  I'm also eschewing the Money in the Bank match, as most of those kinda blur together for me now.  There's very little else that can be done with the multi-man Ladder Match, sadly.  Might be time to put a moratorium on those for now.  Anyway, these are the ten best standard Ladder Matches, in my opinion.



10. The Rock vs. Triple H - SummerSlam - 8.30.98

 



After the template had been set in 1994, The Rock and Triple H attempted to redefine this gimmick match as more of a no-nonsense brawl that happened to feature a climbing implement.  These two rising stars would feud on and off for the next two years, but this is the match that really catapulted both to the next level.  While not a gasp-inducing spotfest like the two HBK-Razor matches, this one featured gritty, hard-hitting action, some outside interference, and a nuclear crowd who cheered for the heel Rock just as much as for the babyface Triple H.  In fact this match led to a brief face turn for Rocky, before he swerved everyone and joined Mr. McMahon's Corporation.




9. London & Kendrick vs. MNM vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Regal & Taylor - Armageddon - 12.17.06
  

This multi-car pileup of a wrestling match was probably the closest the company would ever come again to the TLC series from 2000-01.  Three of the teams involved were known for high-flying antics, while the fourth was comprised of two down and dirty ground grapplers.  The only word to describe this match is "chaos."  But in a good way.  This one will always be remembered as "That time Joey Mercury lost his face."  An errant see-saw ladder spot resulted in Mercury's nose exploding, leaving pools of blood all over the ring.  Just brutal.  But even outside of that unfortunate occurrence, this was a helluva match.


PPV Showdown: NJPW WrestleKingdom 9 vs. WrestleKingdom 10

Welcome to another edition of PPV Showdown, where I'll take two editions of a given wrestling show and compare the shit outta them to determine which one is better.  

Today I'm looking at the two best WrestleKingdom shows from New Japan, both of which rank very highly among the greatest PPVs I've ever seen.  From top to bottom each of these shows delivered a spectacular cross-section of the NJPW product and yielded multiple MOTY candidates.  WWE (or anyone else) will be hard-pressed to come up with anything nearly this good anytime soon.


But there's a question that's been bugging me for a while now: which was better, WrestleKingdom 9 or 10?  Both editions were universally praised, and trying to pick one over the other is like trying to choose your favorite child.  Structurally the two shows were pretty similar and thus should be easy to compare.  Yet they were both so outstanding, how does one choose?  Well let's take this one step at a time and go down the card.  Hopefully when this is over we'll be able to determine once and for all which show was superior....




4-Way Jr. Tag Match

Both WKs opened with a 4-way match for the Jr. Tag Titles (as did WK8) to energize the crowd.  In both cases this match featured insane tandem offense and nearly non-stop action.  2015's match pitted Jr. Tag Champs reDRagon against The Young Bucks, Forever Hooligans, and Time Splitters.  There wasn't a wasted moment here and all four teams went basically balls-to-the-wall for 13 minutes before reDRagon retained.

By comparison WK10's version also saw reDRagon defending the straps, this time against The Young Bucks, Roppongi Vice, and hot new team Matt Sydal & Ricochet.  It was a similarly contested lightning paced battle, but this time The Young Bucks captured the belts after nearly 17 minutes.

So these matches were both roughly ***1/2 star spotfest-type affairs, but I'll give a slight edge to the WK10 version since it had a bit more time to breathe, plus Ricochet's mindboggling offense was a difference maker.

Point: WrestleKingdom 10



Monday, December 10, 2018

Top Ten Things: 2 out of 3 Falls Matches

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!

Today I'll be discussing one of the oldest, time-honored wrestling match types, the 2-out-of-3 Falls match!  Back in the olden days 2/3 Falls was a common format for Championship matches, as a way to truly determine the better competitor and rule out fluke victories.  In the old NWA system, all World Title matches were required to be contested under these rules, and quite often the match would go to a time limit draw in the third fall, which protected both guys for future bouts.  I've always enjoyed this type of match as it lends itself to longer, more epic matches with a heavy emphasis on good old mat wrestling.  During the Attitude Era the WWF added a wrinkle to the 2/3 Falls match by giving each fall a different set of rules (i.e. traditional rules for the first fall, No DQ for the second, etc.), calling it Three Stages of Hell.  Regardless though, there's something epic about a 2/3 Falls match when done well.

Let's take a look at what I consider the ten best examples of 2/3 Falls....




10. Angle/Benoit vs. Edge/Mysterio - Smackdown - 11.7.02


In the fall of 2002 the RAW and Smackdown shows each had exclusive rosters, and Paul Heyman's Smackdown was crushing RAW on a weekly basis, both creatively and in the ratings.  Much of SD's success can be attributed to these four competitors, who made up two-thirds of the revered Smackdown Six (Los Guerreros were the other two).  The World Tag Championship had been made a RAW-exclusive Title during the roster split, and Smackdown GM Stephanie McMahon decided to create a separate set of belts for her show.  Hence a tournament was assembled which boiled down to Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs. Edge & Rey Mysterio at No Mercy, in a 22-minute classic.  The rematch took place only a few weeks later on Smackdown, and it was a 2/3 Falls match.  While not quite as good as the PPV bout, this featured incredible action and palpable suspense, as Edge & Mysterio played the underdogs to perfection on their way to a Title victory.





9. Demolition vs. Hart Foundation - SummerSlam - 8.27.90


In early 1990 the WWF's tag team division essentially consisted of three top babyface tandems - Demolition, The Hart Foundation, and The Rockers.  Sure there were a few heel teams such as The Bolsheviks and The Orient Express, but they were all booked as jobbers to the stars, and the Harts and Rockers were presented as the only credible threats to the Champions Demolition.  Just after WrestleMania VI it looked like the Harts were slowly turning heel, adopting some underhanded tactics and referring to Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty as "tumbling teenyboppers."  It seemed like Bret and Jim would be positioned as villain challengers to the popular facepainted duo of Ax & Smash.  But two factors caused a change of plans.  The first was that the Harts were still extremely popular and the fans didn't really want to boo them.  The second was that the aging Bill Eadie (Ax) was no longer able to wrestle a full schedule and needed to take more of a managerial role in Demolition, necessitating the introduction of a younger third member, Crush.  With Demolition now working as a three-man team it made more sense to turn them heel and invoke the "Freebird Rule," where any two members of a Championship team could defend the Titles (I love this gimmick, by the way).  So at SummerSlam, the Hart Foundation were positioned as babyface underdogs facing a dastardly powerhouse team who frequently pulled the old "switcheroo" during their matches, subbing in a fresh man for an injured one.  The result was a very strong 2/3 Falls match that saw Hart and Neidhart overcome the odds (with an assist from WWF newcomers Hawk & Animal) to regain the Tag belts.  After a brief, disappointingly one-sided feud with the Legion of Doom, Demolition were sadly phased out less than a year later, while the Harts enjoyed a strong run with the belts.





8. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho - SummerSlam - 8.27.00


The year 2000 was an amazing one for the WWF.  With the influx of almost all of WCW's best workers, the WWF roster was now loaded with tremendous in-ring talent creating fresh matchups and feuds galore, possibly the best of which involved the two Chrises.  Jericho and Benoit had worked together for years, both in Japan and in Atlanta, and in the spring/summer of 2000 they resumed their feud, facing each other three times on PPV and several more times on RAW and Smackdown.  The rivalry reached a fever pitch at SummerSlam, in a 2/3 Falls match.  While not quite given enough time to fully steal the show, Jericho and Benoit nevertheless delivered a forgotten near-classic that ended the feud for the time being.



Dan's Top 9: Die Hard Characters

DAN'S TOP


by Dan Moore
@SouthieDanimal

Today, the world lost one of the great actors, Alan Rickman. He succumbed to cancer at age 69. I’ve watched him in many films throughout the years, but of course, his role in Die Hard comes to the front of my dumb brain. And what better time to discuss the best Die Hard characters ever than today as a sort of memorial to Mr. Rickman’s work? Here we go.


9. The "No More Table" Guy


We all know him. He's the shiny, hairy, gold chain-wearing, greasy German-but-sounds-Greek gunman that shows up about halfway through John McClane's first adventure.

He's got some real terrorist hubris, asking our hero "Where are you going, pal?" as McClane evades him while running out of table. It leads beautifully into one of John's most sternly delivered action hero quips.

Wild N' Crazy Guy: Next time you have the chance to kill someone, don't hesitate!
McClane (all sweaty-lipped and serious): Thanks for the advice...



8. Richard Thornburg 


The prototypical scumbag reporter beautifully played by ginger hammer William Atherton (That he didn't play that worm Roger Goodell in Concussion is a travesty). He not only invades the privacy of the McClanes' children but he also singlehandedly causes outright panic by broadcasting about plane hijackings on Christmas Eve! Throughout the two flicks he's in, he spreads beautiful lies and propaganda. In other words, he's got a job waiting for him at Fox News.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Great Wrestling Champions: Ric Flair (1989-1990)

Welcome to a new Enuffa.com feature, The Great Wrestling Champions, where I examine a particularly noteworthy championship reign in the annals of wrestling history - one that made a difference in elevating said championship and the company it represents.

Today's entry is the 1989-90 reign of NWA World Champion Ric Flair.


Flair's sixth title run was in my estimation the greatest of his sixteen famed world championships, showcasing a bona fide in-ring artist and showman at the top of his arguably unparalleled career, and marking his final run as THE star of the NWA.  Flair had legitimately ruled the 80s as far as the NWA/WCW was concerned, enjoying a decade-long run as the promotion's undisputed top draw.  While he considered his first NWA Title reign as something of a tryout (In those days the NWA Board of Directors had to vote on whether to crown a new champion and Flair got a narrow 5-4 vote of confidence), by the end of 1983 he was clearly the man to whom the torch was passed, from former top NWA draws Harley Race and Dusty Rhodes.  His star power was so great that he'd travel around to the various NWA territories and feud with the local top star, in order to make that guy look like a bigger deal.  Flair would keep the title for a year or two, lose it to a babyface challenger to garner a big box office, and win it back shortly thereafter.  This was the pattern from his second reign on.  He briefly lost the title to Kerry Von Erich, Dusty Rhodes, Ronnie Garvin and finally, in a match that set the tone for the NWA's banner year 1989, Ricky Steamboat.

Flair's feud with Steamboat instantly became the stuff of legend, as the two perfectly paired adversaries traded wins over a three month period, scoring three staggering Match of the Year candidates and assembling one of the greatest wrestling feuds of all time.  Flair would win the title back at WrestleWar '89 and immediately follow up one stellar feud with another; the returning former champion Terry Funk attacked him post-match to set up six months of brutally contested enmity.  The inciting incident involved Funk piledriving Flair on a table and putting him out of action for two months due to a kayfabe neck injury.  This allowed the NWA to build to their first match at The Great American Bash, and marked Flair's first babyface turn since 1983.  The hotly anticipated Flair-Funk bout on July 23rd was a wild powderkeg of a match, spilling all over the ringside area and showing off Flair's brawling versatility after the graceful, scientific trilogy with Steamboat.


Friday, December 7, 2018

Parents' Night In #15: Rocky (1976)

Welcome to another episode of Parents' Night In, here at Enuffa.com!

This week Kelly and Justin pop open some wine and watch one of their favorite Thanksgiving-time films, the movie that launched the most unlikely blockbuster franchise of all time, ROCKY!  We'll talk about the series as a whole, why it still resonates over forty years later, why Stallone is so lovable, and why Rocky and Adrian's first kiss could never be done the same way in 2018.  Tune in and laugh as we discuss the most beloved underdog story ever, Rocky! 

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Top Ten Things: Christmas Movies

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!  These are ten things I like or don't like, and I'm here to tell you about 'em.  Makes sense.

Today it's my ten favorite Christmas movies!  As one who has loved the holiday season since childhood, a big part of my celebrating is in the form of watching Christmas-themed movies.  Some are required viewing every December, while others I only revisit once in a while.  But they all help me get in the ol' holiday mood.

Some notes about this list - I'm only including movies where Christmas itself figures heavily in the plot.  There are a lot of films simply set against the backdrop of the Christmas season, and while some of those are great (Die Hard and Lethal Weapon for example), I don't really consider them Christmas movies in the strictest sense.  So I've limited the list to films that couldn't really work without the Christmas theme.

Also I'm not including the standard half-hour TV specials from back in the day.  The Grinch, Charlie Brown and Rudolph are all great, but they're TV shows, not movies.  So there.

Finally there are two beloved movies you won't find on this list: A Christmas Story, and Christmas Vacation.  I hate both of them.  I know most people think they're essential viewing, but I can't stand either one.  I find them both pretty cynical and unpleasant, which defeats the whole purpose of watching a Christmas movie.  Sorry.

On to the list!



10. Elf



Jon Favreau's 2003 Christmas romp stars Will Ferrell as a Buddy, a human who stowed away in Santa's bag as a baby, and was raised as a North Pole elf.  As Buddy grows to adulthood he begins to realize he doesn't fit in with the other elves, and he seeks out his birth father, a grumpy New York publishing executive played by James Caan.  Filled with lighthearted humor and Ferrell's signature flair for physical comedy, Elf is a classic Fish Out of Water story involving Buddy finding his way in the human world while also managing to save Christmas.  The film peters out toward the end for me, as there's too much emphasis on Santa being chased through Central Park by the NYPD.  But otherwise Elf is a fun little holiday movie that has something for everyone.





9. Edward Scissorhands



Tim Burton's cult classic Edward Scissorhands stars Johnny Depp as the titular character, a Dr. Caligari-inspired artificial man whose inventor died before he could be finished, leaving him with scissors where his fingers should be.  This of course makes for a very inconvenient existence (As Seinfeld's barber pointed out, "What's he gonna do on-a the toilet?"), and after moving in with Dianne Wiest and her family he becomes a suburban outcast.  This film, like most of Tim Burton's work, takes place in a visually bizarre world full of social misfits and outsiders.  But even among these weirdos Edward doesn't fit in, and the ultimate result is a bittersweet and surprisingly touching love story.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Wrestling Do-Overs: WWF King of the Ring 2000

Welcome to another installment of Wrestling Do-Overs, here at Enuffa.com, where I dig out an old PPV that kinda sucked (or in the case of today's subject, was a vile, steaming shit burger), and reshape it to make it better.


Today I'll be revisiting the 2000 King of the Ring, which took place in my hometown of Boston, MA, and served as the most disappointing PPV of an otherwise pretty fantastic calendar year for the WWF.  2000 was of course the year when almost every B-PPV was awesome (Armageddon being the outlier), while almost every Big Five show was overloaded and mediocre-at-best (the wonderful 2000 Rumble was the one exception).  But the PPV that really stunk up the joint like a rotting carcass in the fireplace was King of the Ring.  At a time when the company had maybe the best roster they'd ever assembled up to that point, they bragged that the 2000 tournament would boast the largest field ever at 32 participants, with the final eight advancing to the PPV itself.  And aside from two very puzzling inclusions (What in the green fuck were Crash Holly and Bull Buchanan doing in the quarterfinals?), this Elite 8 was very strong indeed.  So how'd they screw it up so bad?  Hold that thought for a second while I go over the non-tourney bouts.

One of the drawbacks of including an eight-man tournament on one show is of course the time constraints.  The tournament ate up seven slots, and the WWF for some reason felt the need to cram four additional matchups onto this card (Keep in mind that back then PPVs were limited to three hours; no WWE Network luxuries in the double-aughts).  They included a four-way Tag Team Title match (which ended up being the one really solid thing on the show), a convoluted tables/dumpster tag team match, an Evening Gown Hardcore Title match between two quinquagenarians, and a six-man tag match for the WWF Title, wherein whomever scored the final pin would be the champion.  Said main event included two non-wrestlers, Vince and Shane McMahon, and ended with The Rock pinning Vince to win Triple H's WWF Title.  A lamer way to win the company's top championship I can't imagine.

Oooh, The Rock pinned a senior citizen to win the belt.  How impressive...

So back to the tournament - as planned, the bracket consisted of seven matches, the longest of which went 9:50.  And that match took place in the first round.  Yup, not one tournament match reached the ten-minute mark.  Contrast that with the 1993 King of the Ring, which featured two full-length Bret Hart matches (19 minutes and 18 minutes, respectively), one of which was the PPV's main event.  Which tournament do you suppose came off as a bigger deal?  Ya goddamn right.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Wrestling Do-Overs: Starrcade '89

Welcome to another installment of Wrestling Do-Overs, here at Enuffa.com, where I'll take a famous wrestling event or angle and reimagine it the way I would've booked it.  Today I'll pick apart the 1989 edition of the NWA's flagship event, Starrcade



Starrcade '89 took place on December 13th (a Wednesday - what an odd night to do a PPV) at The Omni in Atlanta, GA.  The strategy to make this event stand apart from all other PPVs was to hold two simultaneous round-robin tournaments, one for singles wrestlers and one for tag teams.  The winners of each tournament would get.......bragging rights I guess?  There was never a tangible prize at stake, which right away raised a red flag.  Still the concept was intriguing and allowed us to see a handful of first-time matchups.

Before I get into my version of the lineup, let's take a quick look at what actually transpired and I'll explain why I don't think it worked.  The card was as follows:

Steiner Brothers vs. Doom - 12:24
Lex Luger vs. Sting - 11:31
Road Warriors vs. Doom - 08:31
Ric Flair vs. The Great Muta - 1:55
Steiner Brothers vs. Road Warriors - 7:27
Sting vs. The Great Muta - 8:41
The New Wild Samoans vs. Doom - 8:22
Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair - 17:15
The New Wild Samoans vs. Steiner Brothers - 14:05
Lex Luger vs. The Great Muta - 4:15
Road Warriors vs. The New Wild Samoans - 5:18
Sting vs. Ric Flair - 14:30

Sting won the singles tourney while the Road Warriors won the tag team round-robin.

On paper there are some top-flight matches here, to be sure.  Flair and Sting were the top two babyfaces at the time and their alliance added a new dynamic to this matchup.  Flair vs. Luger took place at the previous year's Starrcade but now their roles were reversed which made this bout different from the last.  Hawk & Animal vs. The Steiners was a major dream match as both teams were wildly popular and dominant.  Even Flair vs. Muta looked great in theory.

But here's why this card didn't really work for me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Top Ten Things: Essential NJPW PPVs

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com, where I count down Ten Things that are at the Top of my list.  Pretty simple really.  Not sure why I have to explain it.


Today I present the ten (or more accurately, fifteen - narrowing this list down to ten is nigh impossible now) best NJPW PPVs I've seen thus far in my relatively young New Japan fandom (New JaFandom?).  I started watching NJPW in January 2015, when they launched NJPWWorld.com, a subscription streaming service not unlike The WWE Network (If you haven't subscribed you should do so - it's cheaper than WWE's version and you'll get access to forty-plus years of New Japan).  Basically from day one I was hooked, and I started poring through the archives to absorb as much New Japan awesomeness as I could find.  So here are fifteen essential NJPW PPVs you need to watch (and if you've already seen 'em, watch 'em again!).  Here we go:





15. WrestleKingdom IV


The WrestleKingdom series evolved from New Japan's 25-year tradition of holding a huge Tokyo Dome show every January 4th.  Regardless what weekday that falls on, the Tokyo Dome show is always on the fourth day of the year (weird, right?).  The name has changed several times, and starting in 2007 they turned the event into a PPV and called it WrestleKingdom.  In my opinion he first WK show to really deliver on all fronts was the fourth edition.  The undercard was a bit cluttered with tag matches (as was customary at the time), but once Intermission was over this show really took off.  Besides the couple of standout tags (Prince Devitt & Ryuske Taiguchi vs. Averno & Ultimo Guerrero; No Limit vs. Team 3-D vs. Bad Intentions), WK4 featured four good-to-great singles matches in a row to close out the PPV.  Tiger Mask IV vs. Naomichi Marufuji holds up as one of the best Jr. Heavyweight matches I've seen, which was then amazingly topped by a superb Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Go Shiozaki heavyweight match, which was followed by the surprisingly awesome Takashi Suguira vs. Hirooki Goto for the GHC Championship.  The main event, for the IWGP Heavyweight Title, saw Shinsuke Nakamura (pre-rock star persona) defend against the bruiser veteran Yoshihiro Takayama, in a slow but intense brawl.  This show started out slow but escalated to a fever pitch in the final 90 minutes, making it the best of the early WrestleKingdom events.

Key Matches: Takashi Suguira vs. Hirooki Goto; Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Go Shiozaki; Tiger Mask IV vs. Naomichi Marufuji





14. Power Struggle 2013


Often seen as something of a transitory PPV due to its place on the calendar so soon before WrestleKingdom, the annual November show Power Struggle generally features little in the way of important angles or title changes.  But that didn't stop NJPW from presenting a very strong edition in 2013.  Undercard standouts included the Young Bucks vs. Suzuki-Gun tag match and a short-but-intense Shibata-Honma slugfest, but once again the final four bouts were where business really picked up.  Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tomohiro Ishii stole the show with a 17-minute war, Tetsuya Naito settled his months-long feud with Masato Tanaka, Shinsuke Nakamura narrowly retained the I-C Title against Minoru Suzuki, and Kazuchika Okada defended the IWGP Title against Karl Anderson in a main event that far exceeded my expectations.  The last three Power Struggle shows have essentially just been a collection of good matches without major consequences, and the 2013 edition was the best of the series.

Key Matches: Kazuchika Okada vs. Karl Anderson; Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Minoru Suzuki; Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii





13. WrestleKingdom 8


The 2014 edition of WrestleKingdom has the unfortunate distinction of being sandwiched between the two best all-time WKs, but that doesn't stop it from being a helluva good show in and of itself.  The show started out strong with two good Tag Title matches - The Young Bucks defended the Jr. Heavyweight straps against Time Splitters, Forever Hooligans and Suzuki-Gun in a blistering spotfest, while Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith jr. faced the new Bullet Club combination of Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows for the Heavyweight belts.  The middle of the show featured several okay matches before the final third once again took things to the next level.  Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata delivered a brutal war, Kota Ibushi dethroned Prince Devitt for the Jr. Heavyweight Title in a great piece of storytelling, Okada and Naito had a marathon IWGP Title match, and in a first for WrestleKingdom the Intercontinental Title took the main event slot, as Nakamura faced Tanahashi in the clear Match of the Night.  While WK8 lacked a true MOTY candidate, it still stacks up as one of the best editions of NJPW's flagship event. 

Key Matches: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi; Prince Devitt vs. Kota Ibushi; Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata





12. WrestleKingdom 12

The 2018 edition of the Tokyo Dome spectacular was a loaded, rock-solid show capped off by two epic main events and drew the biggest NJPW crowd in 20 years.  Aided hugely by the involvement of former WWE mainstay Chris Jericho, WK12 drew 35,000 paid and garnered a ton of industry buzz.  While the show wasn't quite on the level of the tippy-top editions, WK12 was nonetheless an excellent, satisfying PPV with a very strong undercard and the first Match of the Year candidate in Omega vs. Jericho, a wildy violent contest that ranged all over ringside.  The main event of Okada vs. Naito took a shockingly unexpected turn when Naito, overwhelmingly favored to capture the IWGP Title, failed to do so in a 34-minute war.  Elsewhere on the card, Jay White made his post-excursion return in a somewhat underwhelming Intercontinental Title challenge against Tanahashi, while Kushida, Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll and Hiromu Takahashi nearly stole the show in a blazing 4-way Jr. Heavyweight Title match.  WK12 continued the still-ongoing trend of excellent Tokyo Dome supercards, becoming in my estimation the sixth consecutive WrestleKingdom to score a 9/10 or better.

Key Matches: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito; Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho; Marty Scurll vs. Kushida vs. Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi






11. King of Pro-Wrestling 2012


Voted the Best Major Show of 2012 by the readers of Wrestling Observer, King of Pro-Wrestling was the first PPV to use that moniker, and was a streamlined, loaded lineup.  Both Jr. Heavyweight Titles were defended in top-flight matches - Forever Hooligans defended the tag belts against Time Splitters, and Low-Ki defeated Kota Ibushi for the singles championship in a 17-minute showstopper.  After a few good but largely inconsequential bouts, the show kicked into overdrive with a trio of excellent matches.  Okada defended his WK7 #1 Contender's slot against Karl Anderson, Shinsuke Nakamura and Hirooki Goto had a blazing I-C Title match, and in the main event Hiroshi Tanahashi faced Minoru Suzuki in an epic 29-minute match with loads of psychology and nary a pin attempt until the very end.  Incidentally this bout was named Match of the Year by the Observer.  KoPW was a tremendous PPV that outshined every other NJPW show in 2012, and amazingly it would be outdone by its 2013 sequel.

Key Matches: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki; Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto; Kazuchika Okada vs. Karl Anderson


The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade, part 6 (1998-2000)

We've reached the end of the line for WCW, and its flagship show.  Tread carefully, as the next three editions are full of turds.....

Sigh....here we go.....


Starrcade '98 - MCI Center - 12.27.98
And I thought Starrcade '97 was bad.  Jeezus, that was a magnum opus compared to this disorganized mess.  1998 was the year WCW really started collapsing under its own weight.  The top stars had so much control over their characters that nothing involving them made any sense, and when one homegrown star somehow managed to surge in popularity certain egos went out of their way to cut out his legs (Hmm, that sounds familiar).  We were at the height of the nWo Wolfpac run, which involved the heel nWo faction feuding with the vaguely babyface nWo "red & black" team comprised of Kevin Nash, Lex Luger, Randy Savage, Konnan, and the formerly huge babyface star Sting (How badly was Sting's mystique damaged by his association with this stupid group?).  So let's examine this shitshow....

Things started out okay with a double Cruiserweight Title match.  First it was Billy Kidman vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Juventud Guerrera in a crazy fun opening match.  Kidman and Mysterio attempted to stay allied but that was short-lived.  Guerrera had recently joined Eddy's LWO (Yet another nWo offshoot - Christ) so he was a cocky heel here.  Lots of high-risk moves and innovative pin attempts.  All three guys did a great job of selling exhaustion by the end to make the Cruiserweight offense mean something.  Eddy got involved toward the finish but his interference backfired and Kidman retained.  Once again the Cruiserweights got more time than any other match, which is pretty shocking.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Music Review: Haken - The Mountain (2013)


I just became aware of acclaimed English prog-metal outfit Haken about a month ago, having researched them upon seeing their new album Vector in a Newbury Comics weekly "new releases" email.  I consider myself a fairly casual prog fan.  For me the genre is like horror films; I tend to ignore most of them but when someone does something really special with the form it's spectacular.  Being desperate for some new music, I went right over to YouTube to check out Haken's latest singles, "The Good Doctor" and "Puzzle Box, and was instantly blown away, not only by their musicianship, but more importantly by the band's uncanny songwriting ability.  Haken use their incredible technical acumen in service of crafting the best possible songs, something I find many prog bands seem to forget.  Instead of just being a showcase for blazing chops, Haken's music consists of great songs that just happen to include the bells & whistles of prog music.  I pretty quickly digested Vector (its 45-minute running time positively scant for a progressive rock album) and its predecessor Affinity, before settling on their third album, 2013's The Mountain.

It's this conceptual masterwork I'm here today to talk about.  The Mountain is a loose concept record about overcoming life's struggles, rising and falling, etc.  Hardly novel subject matter, but the music on this album is simply fantastic.  Listening to Haken's first two records - impressive in their own right but stylistically similar to Dream Theater and other bands of that ilk - gave me a full appreciation for how much the band stretched their legs on The Mountain.  This record has many of the usual prog-metal hallmarks but also jazz influences and choral arrangements, plus far more mood swings than you'll find on most albums.

The Mountain begins gently with "The Path," a piano/vocal introduction centering on the start of a daunting journey, which then gives way to the soaring, hopeful "Atlas Stone," a lofty 7-plus-minute piece about rising to the challenge.  Things get quirky on "Cockroach King," with its seeming nod to the music of Danny Elfman, before a pair of excellent 4-minute tracks.  "In Memoriam" is a powerful dirge in 7/8 time with one of many brilliantly infective chorus hooks found on this record, while "Because It's There" begins with a haunting jazz a capella intro before settling into a saccharin acoustic ballad.

The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade, part 5 (1995-1997)

We've arrived at the start of the Monday Night War!



Starrcade '95 - Nashville Auditorium - 12.27.95

Hulk Hogan's shadow was temporarily lifted from WCW in late 1995 due to a kayfabe suspension, so the focus for this show was on in-ring wrestling and several homegrown WCW stars.  WCW once again went back to a standalone tournament-type format for Starrcade - this time it was a WCW vs. New Japan series of matches with the winning team earning a World Cup trophy, which in the long run meant absolutely zero.  Despite WCW putting together a team of both babyfaces and heels, their guys were all greeted as heroes by the Nashville crowd.  Aside from the tourney there would also be a Triangle match to determine a number-one contender to Randy Savage's WCW World Title in the main event.  Two of those contenders and Savage himself were also in the New Japan series, which was just strange.  But unlike say Starrcade '91, this show at least had a handful of memorable bouts, even if the tourney concept was once again pointless in the grand scheme.

Bobby Heenan was great as usual on color commentary but unfortunately had to compete with Dusty Rhodes, who I've always found insufferable as an announcer.  He probably took up about half the talking time of the three-man team and most of his comments were incomprehensible.  So that was quite distracting.

The WCW-NJPW series kicked off with a pretty great on-paper match: Chris Benoit vs. Jushin Thunder Liger.  This did its job as an opener but was frankly a little underwhelming given the talent involved.  I imagine their matches in Japan blew this one out of the water.  Kevin Sullivan ran down to distract Benoit (thus ruining the ending) and Liger executed a really bad hurricanrana and hooked Benoit's legs for the pin.  Not nearly as good as you'd think.

On the flipside though, Alex Wright vs. Koji Kanemoto was a shockingly good followup; better than the opener and with a nice fluid feel to it.  They got almost twelve minutes and did a lot with them.  This match felt almost like a lighter, less stiff version of a New Japan match.

The first throwaway was next as Lex Luger wrestled Masahiro Chono.  Not much to this one but at least it was short.  Chono dominated most of the match, even slapping on his STF finisher, but Luger made it to the ropes and mounted the shortest comeback ever before applying the Torture Rack for the win.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Top Ten Things: Marx Brothers Films

Welcome to Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com, where I talk about things.  Ten things.  The top ten things.  See?


Today what's on my brain is the Marx Brothers.  You know 'em, you love 'em.  Groucho!  Chico!  Harpo!  Zeppo (sometimes)!  Born Julius, Leonard, Adolph (later Arthur), and Herbert, the Marxes (along with a fifth brother Gummo) honed their craft for years on the Vaudeville circuit before gaining notoriety with three Broadway hits, and from there they swept the nation as movie stars.  Boasting incredible onscreen chemistry fueled by Groucho's unparalleled wit, Chico's hilariously sleazy Italian character, and Harpo's astonishing gift for pantomime, the Marx Brothers left an indelible mark on both cinema and comedy, with a 15-year film career that spawned numerous timeless classics.

Here are the Marx Brothers' ten best films, according to me....




10. The Big Store


The Marxes' intended final film was this 1941 farce set in a department store whose co-owner has hired private detectives (Groucho, Harpo & Chico) to investigate a plot by the store manager to murder her nephew.  It lacks the urgency and inventiveness of their prime years but does include its share of silly set pieces one would expect from a Marx Brothers movie.  The Marxes would come out of retirement to make A Night in Casablanca in 1947 (after Chico revealed he owed large gambling debts), but The Big Store was billed as their swan song.





9. Room Service


Based on a 1937 play, Room Service was the only Marx film not written specifically for the brothers.  It concerns a stage producer and his ragtag crew going to any lengths necessary not to be evicted from their hotel room before the opening performance, and while fairly screwball, features the Marx Brothers at their most restrained.  This was also the first Marx film to abandon the traditional character relationships between Groucho, Harpo and Chico.  In this film Harpo and Chico's characters work for Groucho and the three are in cahoots from the start; in this respect as much as any other, Room Service doesn't quite feel like a Marx film, but it does at least feature a little of their trademark onscreen mischief.





8. Monkey Business


The first Marx film not based on a play was their third overall, about four stowaways who run amok on a cruise ship and fall in with two separate warring gangs.  Monkey Business is a rather odd film, in that a story arc is put into place but multiple threads are left unresolved, such as the protagonists evading the authorities, Groucho's romance with Thelma Todd's character, the aftermath of the kidnapping and rescue of Joe's daughter, etc.  Also notable about this film is the lack of musical numbers other than Chico and Harpo's instrumental solos.  Monkey Business is definitely my least favorite of the Paramount movies and I can't help wondering why they didn't instead make a film version of I'll Say She Is, particularly given the way they shoehorned in the Maurice Chevaille bit from that play.  Still this movie isn't without its charm.


The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade, part 4 (1992-1994)

The next triumvirate of Starrcades starts off okay before a steep decline in quality....


Starrcade '92 - The Omni - 12/28/92

Well this was a whole lot better.  The previous Starrcade featured ten forgettable, awkward tag matches and a convoluted battle royal main event.  Yes, the Norfolk Scope was dressed up nicely, adding to the splendor of the event, but not one match from that show stood out or warranted a second viewing.  SC'92 on the other hand featured a handful of big matches (two of which were truly inspired) and even though half the card was still taken up by Battlebowl proceedings, the four mongrel tag bouts were concise, fast-paced, and moved along with a purpose.  I still had no interest in the tournament format but Starrcade '92 was a rare show with nary a bad match.  This PPV took place during the Bill Watts era, thus The Omni had a stripped-down, barebones look with gloomier lighting and minimal Starrcade decor.  The focus in 1992 WCW was almost entirely on the action in the ring, and the play-by-play was called by the dream commentary team of Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura.  While their chemistry wasn't as strong as say Jesse & Gorilla or JR & Lawler, I loved hearing these two work together; my favorite play-by-play announcer with my favorite color man.

Side note: I know Rick Rude was injured but where the hell were Steve Austin, Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton??

The first four matches were all Lethal Lottery tag bouts, none of which overstayed their welcome, fortunately, and all of which were at least a little fun on some level.  Cactus Jack teamed with Johnny B. Badd vs. Van Hammer & Dan Spivey in a decent opener with some good wrestling from Team Cactus.  I'm not sure what they were thinking giving Hammer & Spivey the win though; what's the point of two obvious non-winners being in Battlebowl?  Next was Vader & Dustin Rhodes vs. The Barbarian & Kensuke Sasaki in a very entertaining slugfest reminiscent of a Japanese Strong Style match.  This didn't go long but felt urgent.  Vader beat the piss out of Rhodes after getting the win.  The standout of these tag matches was next - The Great Muta & Barry Windham vs. Brian Pillman & 2 Cold Scorpio.  I liked the Muta-Scorpio/Muta-Pillman exchanges a lot; Muta vs. Pillman should've been a major feud at some point.  Another brief match where they crammed in a lot of good action.  Finally we had Sting & Steve Williams vs. Jushin Liger & Erik Watts, which had good wrestling all around except for Watts, who was clearly not ready for prime time but was being pushed due to his father's position as head booker.  Still this was a fine match, particularly when it was Sting vs. Liger.

Lotta talent in that ring.

With the Lottery bouts out of the way the show settled into a more traditional format with four title matches.  First was The Great Muta challenging Masahiro Chono for the NWA World Title (now separated from the WCW version).  I liked this quite well actually.  Nothing about it was mindblowing, and at 12 minutes it couldn't be epic, but it was well-worked by both guys.  Muta unexpectedly submitted to Chono's STF.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Top Ten Things: Wrestling Entrance Themes

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!

Today I'm looking at the all-time greatest wrestling entrance themes!


Entrance themes are such an integral part of establishing a character it's hard to imagine a time before they were universal.  When I started watching this wacky fake sport in 1986 only certain acts were given entrance music.  Mostly it was headliners and championship contenders, otherwise guys came to the ring to only the ambient arena noise.  Most puzzling is the fact that perennial attraction Andre the Giant never had an official entrance theme (Toward the end of his career Vince McMahon's "Stand Back" became his them for video packages, but it wasn't used for his actual ring entrance).  There were other times when a piece of music was intended for one wrestler but co-opted for someone else.  Hulk Hogan's "Real American," a theme we now consider inseparable from the man, was originally written for the US Express (Mike Rotundo & Barry Windham).  Kurt Angle's theme, repurposed by the fans as "You Suck," was once the entrance music for "The Patriot" Del Wilkes.  Then of course there was Jimmy Hart's "Crank It Up," recorded for the Piledriver album, which the Young Stallions "stole" for their own use.  I always got a kick out of that one.

At any rate, a wrestler's entrance theme can say so much about them.  It can help illustrate what type of persona they use.  If the music is dark and foreboding, the character probably is too.  If the music is bombastic and upbeat, the character probably has a loud personality.  When done correctly, the first note of a wrestler's theme can send the crowd into a tizzy, and can be just as important a part of the fans' experience as seeing that person in the ring.

The following ten themes exemplify these qualities.  In each case the entrance music has become forever linked to that character, evoking a massive crowd response every time it blares through those arena speakers.





10. Chris Jericho - "Break the Walls Down"



Beginning with one of the coolest sound effects ever designed, Jericho's entrance theme originally counted down a "Millennium Clock" before exploding into a Rage Against the Machine-esque slow rocker that also seems to have a bit of Beastie Boys influence.  Between the lyrical references to metal bands and the conjured image of walls being broken down, this song conveys Jericho's iconoclastic ring persona brilliantly.





9. Finn Balor - "Catch Your Breath"




This one takes a while to get going, but man, when it does it's pure detuned metal awesomeness.  Boasting an anvil-to-the-skull, stomp-worthy guitar riff followed by a choral chant, this intimidating theme does everything great entrance music should.  It sets the tone for the character, it imprints itself on your brain, and it encourages audience participation, as the crowd chants and gestures along with Balor.  This is my favorite current wrestling theme.




The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade, part 3 (1989-1991)

Welcome back!  Starrcade's about to hit a rough patch.  A realllllllly rough patch.....


Starrcade '89 - The Omni - 12/13/89

For Starrcade '89 the NWA inexplicably (for the first of four consecutive Starrcades) went with a non-traditional card format, in this case two round-robin tournaments, one singles and the other featuring tag teams.  I can only assume they got this idea from New Japan's G1 tournament and wanted to try their hand at such a gimmick.  I've already published my own revised version of the show HERE, but in short, there were three major things wrong with using the Iron Man/Team tournament concept at the company's flagship PPV.  1. They'd already given away the blowoff to the year's biggest feud (Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk) on free television a month earlier, so the singles tournament featured no hot rivalries at all.  2. They never made it clear what was at stake in these tournaments other than bragging rights, so the audience had no real reason to invest in the outcome.  3. Twelve matches is a lot for a three-hour PPV.  Oh, and 4. In both tournaments they totally buried someone unnecessarily.

Still this show had a lot to like about it.  Of the twelve matches about eight or nine were watchable or better, and this show marks one of only two times (I think) we ever got to see The Steiners vs. The Road Warriors.  In general the concept of a round-robin tournament is fun and presents some intriguing pairings you wouldn't normally see (just watch some of the recent NJPW G1 tournaments for evidence of that), but Starrcade was just the wrong show for this experiment.  The attendance numbers certainly reflect this; the 17000-seat Omni was only about a third filled, to the point that the house lights had to be dimmed midway through the show to cover up the vast areas of empty seats. 

The singles tourney featured the NWA's top four stars - World Champion Ric Flair, US Champion Lex Luger, and two former TV Champions, Sting and The Great Muta.  On paper every one of the six singles matches should've been gold.  Unfortunately the time contraints (fifteen-minute time limits for all twelve bouts), somewhat hindered the wrestlers' ability to deliver standout matches.  In some cases, mostly those involving Muta, the matches were criminally shortchanged; Flair vs. Muta theoretically could've been the main event of Starrcade had they built it up properly.  In actuality that match was given under two minutes and Muta looked like a chump after it was over.  The innovative, tremendously exciting young Japanese import was jobbed out three times and ended up leaving the company right after Starrcade.  Not the best way to treat one of your top heels of the year.  Flair's other two matches, against Luger and Sting respectively, were both headliner-worthy but not up to their 1988 efforts.  Luger was the only man to go undefeated, beating Sting and Muta and going to a draw with Flair.  But Sting scored a major upset in the final match, defeating his former rival and current mentor Flair with only thirty seconds left in the time limit.  This gave Sting enough points to win the whole tournament, and he was soon named the #1 Contender.  Flair and the Andersons made Sting an honorary Horsemen but soon turned heel on him once the reality of Sting's impending challenge set in.  Had the company made it clear beforehand that the winner of this tourney would receive an automatic title shot, that probably would've gotten people much more interested.  Sadly this wasn't the case, and all Sting officially won that night was a trophy.

It's Champion vs. Champion!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade, part 2 (1986-1988)

Welcome back to The History of Starrcade!

Moving right along to 1986....



Starrcade '86 - Greensboro Coliseum/The Omni -
11.27.86

Starrcade '86 was the first one I was aware of as a wrestling fan.  On Saturday mornings I'd watch World Wide Wrestling and see ads for the VHS release.  I must say those commercials were GOLD.  Whoever put those together had me at "hello."  When I used to watch those Turner Home Entertainment tapes I looked forward to the previews as much as the event itself.

The 1986 edition suffered greatly from its main event plans being derailed only a month out.  Jim Crockett Promotions had intended a major World Title push for Magnum TA, which would've kicked off at Starrcade with a huge win over Ric Flair.  Who knows what would've happened, had that come to fruition.  Magnum was enormously popular, built like a brick shithouse, and had rugged good looks that appealed to a crossover audience.  The NWA could've had another Hulk Hogan on their hands, and may very well have been able to compete with Vince.  But unfortunately it was not to be, as Magnum suffered a career-ending car crash in October, and the promotion had to scramble to put together a new main event for its biggest show of the year.  The bookers cleverly turned Nikita Koloff babyface by having him show compassion and remorse over his longtime enemy's injury.  I like that choice a lot actually.  Thus Nikita took Magnum's place in the main event and became one of the NWA's top faces for the next two years.

The company also put the spotlight on one of the secondary main events, even naming the show after it.  Starrcade '86 was the television debut of the Scaffold Match - a horribly dangerous gimmick bout where the combatants are forced to fight twenty feet above the ring on a three-foot-wide platform.  They renamed it The Skywalkers Match (I wonder if George Lucas ever considered suing) and it took on a pretty mythic quality.  But before we get to the top-billed matches, let's take a look at the rest of the show.  For the second consecutive year Starrcade emanated from both The Omni and the Greensboro Coliseum.

Starrcade '86 opened with Tim Horner & Nelson Royal vs. Don & Rocky Kernodle, which sounds pretty nondescript on paper but featured surprisingly good action and a fast pace.

Next was Jimmy Garvin vs. Brad Armstrong in a very strong undercard bout.  These two had good chemistry and worked hard.  Brad Armstrong was a pretty underrated talent, always good for a solid opening match to rev up the crowd.  This went to a time limit draw which was probably a mistake given its spot on the card.  A blazing ten minute match with a decisive finish would've been more appropriate.  Still, this was good stuff.

The next two matches were throwaway tag bouts - Hector Guerrero & Baron von Raschke vs. Barbarian & Shaska Watley; and Ivan Koloff & Krusher Kruschev vs. The Kansas Jayhawks.  Both were quite forgettable and about the only intrigue came later during the evil Russians' promo on their former friend Nikita.  One thing that I found disturbing was the sound of the live crowd cheering when von Raschke did his goosestep bit.  That's not something a sane person would cheer.

The first of many gimmick matches was next, as Wahoo McDaniel faced Rick Rude in an Indian Strap Match.  While the concept of two enemies bound together is always intriguing, I hate the "touch all four corners" rule.  I find it silly and cumbersome and it really disrupts the flow of the match.  As expected this was mediocre, and I found it strange that both guys were bleeding from a piece of leather.  This would also be the first of many blood-soaked bouts on this card. 

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Rocky IV

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!  Today I'll be talking about one of the most popular installments in the Rocky franchise, the one that probably most evokes 80s nostalgia, and certainly the most dialed-up of all the films.  It's east vs. west.  It's America vs. Russia.  That's right, it's Rocky IV!


After regaining the world boxing championship from Clubber Lang at the end of Rocky III, Mr. Balboa settles into semi-retirement, content to enjoy his life as a wealthy family man.  But when a monstrous Russian boxer named Ivan Drago throws his hat into the US boxing ring, Rocky's best friend Apollo Creed will not stand for it.  No sir.  Creed challenges the young powerhouse to an exhibition fight, things go horribly wrong, and Rocky finds himself in enemy territory, face-to-face with his most intimidating opponent yet.

Like the previous three installments, Rocky IV was a major box office success and everyone remembers it fondly.  Everyone except me apparently.  There's a lot, repeat, A LOT wrong with this film, and for me it doesn't hold up very well at all compared to the first three.  Sooo, let's break this sumbitch down and see what went wrong....




The Awesome


Rocky Nostalgia

I'm a big fan of the Rocky series (particularly the first three films and Rocky Balboa), so even despite all its flaws it's hard to not want to watch this movie when I get done with III.  I also have fond childhood memories of seeing this one in the theater with my parents.  We were on vacation in Newport, RI and it was a snowy November evening.  We were looking for something to do and my sister and I both lobbied intensely to see Rocky IV.  My parents reluctantly obliged, and at the time my sister and I loved this stupid movie.




The Fight

As absurdly over-the-top as the big Rocky-Drago fight sequence is, it's shot and edited with Stallone's usual slick sensibilities and for the time it made for a pretty epic climax.  Drago beats the shit outta Rocky for 15 rounds but can't put him away, Rocky's iron jaw keeps him in the fight and he manages to score the knockout right at the end.  It's basically a one-dimensional version of the second Apollo fight but it's well photographed and choreographed.

I'm thinking he didn't actually connect with that one.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Movies of Disbelief: Star Wars (1977)

Welcome to another Movies of Disbelief here at Enuffa.com!  It's time to discuss an unnecessarily major beef I have with one of my favorite films.....


Star Wars.  Just saying those two little words conjures up so much imagery, nostalgia, and special effects badassery.  In 1977 George Lucas dropped perhaps the greatest-ever 200-megaton awesome-bomb on the world, in the form of his sci-fi/fantasy swashbuckler, introducing us all to iconic characters Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and of course Darth Vader.  If you didn't grow up with Star Wars in your life, I'm sorry, your childhood was trash.  This film and its two sequels shaped so many lives, and eventually spawned a bona fide pop culture empire (See what I did there?) that keeps churning out new material every year.

So yeah, it's safe to say I'm a Star Wars fan.  No, scratch that, I'm a Star Wars OG.  I've been in Star Wars Heaven since '77.  Well probably more like '79, I was only 18 months old when the first movie came out.  As far as I'm concerned the original film is still the best of the entire franchise.  Empire is a damn close second, but to me A New Hope is one of the most perfect cinematic experiences ever crafted.  And it's Unaltered or nothing by the way, none of that Special Edition bullshit.  I don't need to see cartoon Jabba showing up or a CG-cluttered Mos Eisley, and don't even get me started on Greedo.  If you believe the updated version of that scene is superior to Han blasting Greedo through the fucking pelvis unprovoked, you should check directly into a home for the criminally insane, as you are a danger to both yourself and others.

Take this shit right here, put it in a box, and throw it in the fucking ocean.

Anyway, even though Star Wars is one of my absolute favorite films ever made in this or any universe, there are nonetheless a few plot contrivances numerous people have pointed out, and that was even before Lucas completely fucked up the continuity with Special Editions and prequels.  The first and perhaps most frequently cited is when C-3P0 and R2-D2 launch an escape pod from Tantive IV and the Imperial gunners decide not to shoot it down, something which would have prevented the entire film from happening.  Way to cover your bases, assholes.  Another is, why didn't the Death Star just blow up the planet of Yavin, thus destroying the fourth moon and the Rebel Base with it, instead of taking the time to orbit around and allow the Rebels a chance to attack?  But these nitpicks are forgivable considering how fantastic the rest of the movie is.

I hope these two nitwits got Force-choked
and then Vader peed on their dead bodies.

Where I draw the line though is at Luke keeping the surname Skywalker despite being raised in hiding from his now evil father and the more evil Emperor.  Twenty years earlier Luke and his twin sister were separated and reared by different families so as not to pop up on Vader's radar (That almost rhymes).  Leia became Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan.  But not only did they send Luke to Vader's home planet of Tatooine, they called him Luke SKYWALKER, after his father.  Real nice subterfuge, dummies.  Wait a second though, Luke grew up with his "uncle" Owen Lars, whom he was raised to believe was Anakin's brother, yes?  So why the hell wasn't he called Luke Lars?  And if Luke thinks Owen is his actual uncle, how did they explain to him why his father's surname wasn't also Lars?  Maybe they shared with him the terribly uninteresting saga of the time Anakin showed up at the Lars homestead and brought his dead mother home, and then left?  Jeezus what a boring bedtime story.  "Uncle Owen, how come my name is Skywalker?"  "Well Luke, your dad's mom married my dad.  I only met him for ten minutes and frankly didn't know him from Adam.  He was exactly nothing to me.  So forget all that stuff I told you about how he went off to war and I resented him for it.  'Twas all pure nonsense that homeless hippie Ben told me to tell you.  Here's what really happened, my stepbrother showed up, asked about his mom, buried her corpse in the backyard over there, and then skipped town with our protocol droid.  Wait, DID I JUST BUY BACK MY OWN FUCKING PROTOCOL DROID??  Son of a two-dollar whore!!!"

God I hate the prequels....


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