Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Helluva Band: Metallica (Part 1)

Welcome to a special two-part edition of Helluva Band, about my favorite band in the entire world.

Metallica.  In the words of Jason Newsted, "The biggest heavy band of all time."  In the words of my Enuffa.com associate Dan Moore, "Go ahead, say it - Metallica.  Congratulations, your tongue just got rocked."  In the words of one of the 21-year-old interns I work with, "What's Metallica?"  You're fired kid, get out!

What began as four teenagers pounding out bellicose machine gun compositions in the hopes of out-metaling all their heavy metal brethren has gradually escalated over three decades into a mainstream, stadium rock juggernaut, transcending genre and spawning 9 multi-platinum albums and an IMAX concert film.  Never satisfied with musical status quo, Metallica has always strived to introduce new, unexpected elements on every album, defying the conventions of their often-parodied field.  Their influence can be heard and felt in nearly every metal band that came after, and every new album of theirs is a major music industry event.

I first became aware of Metallica in seventh grade music class.  One of our first assignments was to bring in a poster or photo or drawing of any band we were interested in and put it up on the wall.  Interesting assignment really.  I was introduced to quite a few band names I hadn't heard before.  There was a Megadeth poster, a Motley Crue poster, and someone had posted a crudely drawn picture of a bunch of crosses sticking up out of the ground with the words Metallica: Master of Puppets at the top.  I said to myself, "What's Metallica?"  You're fired kid, get out!

Around this time I was watching a lot of MTV (what a fucking great channel that used to be), and discovered quite a few bands for the first time.  My musical tastes up until this point were pretty limited.  I had grown up with The Beatles and The Police, and that was about all I listened to except for a slew of random radio singles.  Then I started seeing videos from Def Leppard and Poison, and suddenly hard rock burrowed its way into my life.  Here was catchy, safe music with a slightly aggressive edge (Heavy metal at that point carried a stigma, what with bands like Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne being blamed for teen suicide - what a crock.), and I felt like I had arrived at the cool kids' table.  That fall a raunchy, dangerous-sounding band called Guns N' Roses was all over the radio, and this was the heaviest music I had ever heard.  After initially hating GNR, they grew on me like a fungus, and I was hooked.  I was officially a fan of hard rock music, and Guns N' Roses were at the top of the heap.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

Sigh.....welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com.  Today we look at the moment when Universal's Frankenstein franchise took a screeching 90-degree turn and went tumbling, ablaze, off a cliff into the night.  That moment when the studio ceased making top quality films about everyone's favorite flat-headed clod and transformed him into a mindless B-movie ghoul.  That's right, I'm talkin' about Ghost of Frankenstein....  (Click HERE if you missed Son of Frankenstein)

When Son of Frankenstein was another smash-hit, Universal realized there was still a ton of money in these movies and began churning them out at a rapid-fire pace, without paying attention to the annoying little details like story, characters, acting, or in this case visual style.  Ghost picks up the story shortly after the events of Son, where the villagers of Frankenstein are still angry and hysterical because the apparent death of the monster hasn't magically fixed all their woes (Kinda like with American politics).  They believe the monster might still be alive, not to mention Ygor (Good guess), and it's kept them under a curse.  The mayor eventually gives in to their badgering and greenlights their plan to destroy Frankenstein's castle (Because apparently the authority figures in this town are cool with rioting).  As they smash and burn the castle, Ygor stumbles onto the preserved monster, embedded in a block of solidified sulfur.  He breaks free and Ygor takes him to the village to find Wolf Frankenstein's brother Ludwig, also a scientist who might have the secret to restore the monster to his former glory.  Here we go again.....

So what worked and what didn't (Spoiler alert: Most of it didn't work)?  Let's take a look.....

The Awesome

Bela Lugosi

Bela's back as Ygor, and despite being directed to play the character completely differently than before, he gives another solid turn as the villainous hunchback, manipulating both the monster and the scientists to bend to his will.  No matter how cheesy and low-rent the movie, Lugosi's presence is always a welcome one.  Just ask Ed Wood.

"Hello young lady.... vant to see the inside of my van?"

Twist Ending

After a pretty tedious, meandering hour, it all comes down to Ludwig's decision to take out the monster's criminal brain (Remember that from the first movie?) and put in a healthy one.  Unfortunately though, Ygor has convinced his assistant Dr. Bohmer to substitute Ygor's brain, which will allow him to live in a strong, healthy body instead of his current mangled form.  Ludwig unwittingly puts Ygor's brain in the monster's head and revives him, and the monster begins triumphantly speaking in Ygor's voice.  But just then he discovers his eyesight is failing due to Ygor not having the same blood type as the monster.  Yeah this is all pretty goofy, but it's kind of a cool, disturbing plot twist for this series and I would've liked to see where they took this storyline.  Problem was, in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man the studio hated Lugosi's performance as the monster and cut all his dialogue, removing any references to this scene, including the monster's blindness.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The History of NXT TakeOver: Toronto

Air Canada Centre - 11.19.16

After two NXT Takeovers that just reached "very good" status, the yellow brand really brought it for Toronto.  This show had everything you could want from a Takeover special, including three good-to-great Title matches.  So let's get to it...

Tye Dillinger vs. Bobby Roode kicked things off as expected.  Roode's entrance included a choir singing the intro to his (incredible) entrance theme.  Seriously, I can't get that stupid song out of my head for days after I watch one of these shows.  Why's it hafta be so good?  Anyway, this match was given considerably more time than I expected and played out like an old-school undercard bout.  As I watch Roode I'm reminded of Ted Dibiase, where his character and the way he carries himself mostly make up for the fact that he doesn't really do that much between the ropes.  I know he's a heel so he isn't supposed to fly around and such, but his offense strikes me as very limited.  Anyway, this match was fine.  Roode got the win using his new implant DDT finisher, a vast improvement from his pumphandle slam.  Solid opener.

Next up was the finals of the Dusty Classic, and as I figured it was a middling affair.  TM-61 bounced around and did a couple of fun high spots, including jumping off the structure holding Paul Ellering's cage, while the Authors of Pain mowed them over.  Still not sold on this team, but they're better Road Warrior clones than The Ascension.  They need new ring attire though.  How many times are we gonna see monster heels in SWAT gear?  I mean Roman Reigns is STILL wearing that shit.  This match was forgettable, though the inevitable DIY vs. AOP match should be a fun mismatch.

The show picked up huge with the NXT Tag Team Championship, as The Revival faced DIY in a 2/3 Falls match.  I'm a huge fan of this match type, I'm a huge fan of great tag team wrestling, and this bout lived up to all its promise.  Dash & Dawson played the part of The Andersons to the hilt while DIY's work brought to mind the Rock & Roll Express.  Johnny Gargano nailed the Ricky Morton role, spending much of the match as the babyface in peril.  The psychology here was perfect, and the third fall had so many close near-falls which the crowd totally bought into.  After having both his legs chopped out, Gargano managed to hook the Gargano Escape on Dawson while Tommaso Ciampa snared Dash in an armbar for the double tapout.  Great, great tag team match.

The Worst Thanksgiving EVER

Since Turkey Day is upon us, my associate Dan Moore and I would like to share with you our worst Thanksgiving memories.  Enjoy, if you can.....

Dan's Worst Thanksgiving

Gather 'round children, as I tell you a tale conjured from the combined nightmares of Jason Voorhees, The Babadook and Khloe Kardashian. At a Thanksgiving feast a few years ago, my family trekked to Auntie Patty and Uncle Benny’s house. Uncle Benny was the best cook in the family, and also a true vulgarian, so it was always a blast to eat some bird and listen to him say outrageous things to the old ladies in attendance. A marvelous human being.

A typical Thanksgiving scene welcomed me with open arms as I walked into my aunt’s house. There was bread being baked, glass cornucopias filled with fake fruits, and a banquet table with a giant, steroid-filled turkey and all the fixings. Stuffing, squash (the baby puke of sides), corn, cranberry sauce (the Jell-O from hell) and that’s it. WAIT. WHAT? In one of the most preposterous moves in the history of gluttony, Uncle Benny decided that year NOT to make mashed potatoes. Seriously. Just gone. The fucking glue of the Thanksgiving meal was cast aside like a late hobo at the soup kitchen.

It was, to put it mildly, disappointing. There were many tears shed that day at the lack of the beautiful mound of swirly goodness. We should’ve been laying our heads on the opaque pile of buttery tastiness. Instead, we were pelted in the head with starchy, overcooked rocks.  He decided on roasted potatoes that year. ROASTED. The red-headed stepchild of the potato family. Motherfucker coulda thrown French fries my way and I woulda been happier. At least with the abundance of gravy about, I coulda made some poutine. It’s still brought up to this day in our family, and I for one will never forget that blackest of holidays.  It was a truly brutal nut punch. That’s the worst kind of punch. Right on the nut.

The only way that Thanksgiving could’ve been worse:

Justin's Worst Thanksgiving

I got that beat.  I got that beat.

In the late 90s I joined my parents for Thanksgiving at their friends' house.  It was a large gathering, with kids and grandkids running around, making so much noise I couldn't hear myself fantasizing about Steve Austin fighting Bill Goldberg (Listen, you fantasize about what you want to and I'll fantasize about what I want to.  Assholes....).  We proceeded to gather around the two adjacent tables (since there isn't a dining table in the free world big enough to accommodate this bloated roster), and after piling roughly 64 pounds of Thanksgiving accoutrements onto my structurally stressed plate, I discovered to my horror that my hosts did not provide gravy.

I'd like to repeat that last part: DID NOT PROVIDE GRAVY.

What kind of Communist jamboree had I been dragged to where I'm expected to eat white-meat turkey (typically the dryest of meats) without drizzling a gushing torrent of scrumptious, buttery, brown fat all over my plate?  This was intolerable.  What's for dessert, a bucket of sand?  Sawdust in a bag? A tablespoon of Nestle Quik?  Now I know what Hell looks like.

No thank you, kind sir and madam.  Good day to you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Dive Bars of America: Sully's (Quincy MA)

by Dan Moore

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.

28 Chestnut St
Quincy, MA 02169

About a week ago, myself and fellow Enuffa contributor Scotty Pickles decided to head into Quincy Center for a little day drinking. And we decided on Sully’s as our venue of choice. For some reason, when you google this fine establishment, it comes up as Sully’s Spa. If you show up here for a nice massage and some possible crotch play, YOU’RE IN THE WRONG PLACE, PAL (that’s across the street). Sully’s is split into two distinct areas, one long bar and a seating area behind it. It also has a boss neon sign that you can see even when you’re blind drunk.

Fun Factor: Keno, all day, all night. Along with the scratchie machine, jukebox and old school TV with rabbit ears, that’s about it for your entertainment dollar. Not much happening here. But I love me some Keno, so I’m biased. They also have AWESOME d├ęcor all over the place. Planes made out of old Natty Light cans? YES PLEASE.

Cast of Regulars: Oh, yeah. TONS of em. And they were all hunkered down at the end of the bar watching reruns of “I Love Lucy”. I would love to judge these old codgers for watching an ancient episode of a show from the fifties, but I was drinking two-dollar beer in the middle of a Wednesday, so I can’t really act all high & mighty.

Spuds MacKenzie counts as a regular

Monday, November 21, 2016

WWE Survivor Series 2016 Review, or Why I Don't Like Squash

For the 2016 edition WWE finally took the Survivor Series concept back to its roots (mostly), assembling three huge traditional elimination matches - one for the men, one for the women, and one for the tag team division.  All three delivered on some level, laying the foundation for what turned out the best main roster PPV of the year.  Additionally there were three singles matches, two of which also delivered, and one which just may be the most baffling thing of any kind, in any medium, in any universe, ever.  Advanced trigonometry makes more sense to me than did this main event.  But before I start complaining about a show that I frankly quite enjoyed overall, let's talk about the good stuff.

The show opened with the Women's elimination match pitting RAW Champ Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax, and Alicia Fox against Smackdown Champion Becky Lynch, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Carmella, and Natalya, subbing for Nikki Bella who was attacked by a mystery person backstage.  I'm guessing the reveal's gonna be that Nattie injured her to get herself into the match.  No matter, the change was a welcome one for me.  This match was a lot of fun despite a slightly rushed pace.  But the women got a solid 17 minutes to work with and multiple feuds played out a bit.  The RAW vs. Smackdown rivalry has never, and will never work as a believable feud, but at least in a few cases the babyfaces and heels were booked as very reluctant partners.  After Bayley won the match for her team, her co-survivor Charlotte beat the holy hell out of her, hammering home that the pleasantries were over.  Pretty much everyone in this match got time to make an impression, particularly Nia Jax who was booked like a monster, eliminating Naomi by countout after beeling her off the apron onto the floor.  This match easily ranked high on the list of best women's Survivor Series bouts, right up there with the Team Moolah vs. Team Sherri match from 1987.  A great way to open the PPV.

Next up was the Intercontinental Championship, as The Miz, fresh off regaining the strap this past Tuesday defended against Dolph Ziggler's scheduled opponent, Sami Zayn.  I'm still not sure why Miz was booked to win back the Title at the last minute, as Zayn vs. Ziggler surely would've been the superior contest.  But this was quite alright too.  As I've said before, Zayn is nigh incapable of having a bad match, and The Miz is looking better than he ever has.  So this gelled nicely.  Miz eventually won in classic heel fashion.  Zayn had slapped on a figure four and Maryse rang the bell to distract both Zayn and the referee, allowing Miz to roll Zayn up for a cheap pinfall.  This was a cheap finish, but an appropriate one for Miz's character.  It also protected Zayn somewhat and left the door open for a rematch, should WWE come to its senses and move him over to Smackdown.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Metallica - Through the Never

Welcome once again to everyone's favorite* Enuffa.com feature, Awesomely Shitty Movies, where I painstakingly examine a piece of cinematic art and try to understand why it doesn't work the way I'd like it to.

*In a poll conducted among three readers, two cited ASM as their preferred column.

Today I'll be picking apart the acclaimed 2013 concert film, Metallica: Through the Never.  I've been a monumental Metallica fan since early 1989 (as you can read here and here), when I first laid eyes on the video for "One."  Never before had my ears been assualted by such molten, powerful musical strains.  Just a few short weeks later Metallica were my favorite band in the world, and aside from The Beatles they still are.  I've seen these fellas in concert ten times and it's been two-plus hours of heavy metal bliss on every occasion.

So when I heard Metallica would be releasing a concert film in IMAX no less, I was certainly intrigued.  While my initial thought was, "Shouldn't they finish their new album first?" I knew Through the Never would be a fun, immersive hard rockin' experience, interweaved with some sort of ongoing storyline throughout.

So why does this qualify as an Awesomely Shitty Movie you ask?  Well sir, Through the Never is a film of extremes.  Rarely has a film come along where the awesome is so immeasurably life-altering, yet forced to co-exist, sometimes within the same shot, as such soul-crushingly shitty claptrap.  So let's Jekyll & Hyde this movie and separate what sucked about it from what was great, thus freeing its virtuous aspects to truly achieve their potential.  I dunno what that means....

The Awesome


Look, it's a Metallica concert film.  It is by definition gonna be all kinds of awesome as long as the band is onscreen shredding everyone's balls off.  It's Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett and Trujillo blasting the audience with boiling-hot volcanic metal, like four flamethrowers melting off your face.  They rattled off such classics as "Creeping Death," "Master of Puppets," "Enter Sandman," and the aforementioned "One."  How can you go wrong?  Also with Trujillo on bass and the band having refocused on good old-fashioned speed metal, their live performances have been tight as a tripwire.  Where their chops in the late 90s got a little messy, the four members have been at the top of their game since Death Magnetic came out.

Even this picture rocks my socks off.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

NXT TakeOver: Toronto Preview & Predictions

It's a two-fer kinda weekend in WrestleTown, as WWE will present both Survivor Series on Sunday, and NXT Takeover: Toronto on Saturday.  So my colleague Landon and I will try to predict the outcome of NXT's newest opus.  Join us, won't you?

Looks like NXT will now be chasing the main roster around the globe for every Big Four PPV, and I love it.  It makes the Rumble, 'Mania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series feel like a bigger deal when all four become big wrestling weekends, it forces the main roster to up their game, lest they be upstaged by "developmental," and it adds to the magnitude of the TakeOver specials.

The Toronto edition looks pretty great on paper, and once again the red and blue brands will have their work cut out for them if they wanna follow it.  For once though we may have an actual contest on our hands, as Survivor Series also promises to be something special.

But let's get to the NXT matches....

Dusty Classic Finals: TM-61 vs. Authors of Pain

This tourney had the potential to be bigger than last years, what with 16 teams vying for the trophy, and had the original plan of Austin Aries & Roderick Strong making the finals come to fruition we'd have a guaranteed top-notch affair.  Alas, Aries sustained an eye injury thanks to a stiff Nakamura kick, and his team was out of the bracket.  So we're stuck with two teams about whom I'm less than enthusiastic.  Hopefully they'll both prove their worth here with a killer contest, but I'm not expecting anything amazing.

Justin's pick: I gotta go with Paul Ellering's duo, particularly since Ellering himself will be stuck in a cage.  Usually the wrestler(s) whose manager is incarcerated at ringside ends up winning.
Landon's pick: Let's talk for a hot second about this thing. Last year it was used to launch a multi month, multi main event program between the two winners. Now it's between the not-Road Warriors and a falling flat Hype team. This could've been done a lot better, but I understand at least some plans had to be changed.  For what it's worth, Authors to win.

Robert Roode vs. Tye Dillinger

Another showcase match for Roode, who hasn't shown me that much in the ring as yet, but who does carry himself like a superstar.  At this point Roode's appeal is all about that entrance.  Hopefully he changes that here.

Justin's pick: Roode, clearly
Landon's pick: The crowd may be split Solidly in half for this one. By that, I mean the crowd will equally be chanting both men in full force. Roode to win, honestly due to Dillenger at this point being unable to break out in NXT.

WWE Survivor Series 2016 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to, Jeezus, ANOTHER round of Enuffa.com PPV Predictions, with your host, me, and my cohort Dan Moore, as we try to predict what will happen on WWE's latest illogically booked offering, Survivor Series!

Actually, truth be told, I'm pretty excited about this PPV.  Why you ask?  Because it reminds me of this one:

That's right, after DECADES of waiting, and I hate waiting, WWE is finally getting back to their roots with this show, presenting three big elimination matches.  One for the men, one for the women, and holy shit on a serving spoon, ONE FOR THE TAG TEAMS!  It's been 28 years since we got the 5 Teams vs. 5 Teams match, and at long last we're being treated to another one!  I don't even care that today's tag division can't hold a tealight to that of yesteryear, or that all three of these elimination matches are part of the contrived, tired RAW vs. Smackdown rivalry that literally zero fans care about.  I'm just excited to be seeing a real Survivor Series card again.  And it'll be four hours this year (Fuck, that's gettin' to be a lot), so none of them should get shortchanged.  Bring it on.

As for the rest of the show, we have two promising singles matches and one that's gonna suck, which is sadly the main event of the evening.  But we'll get to that.

Prediction time.

***I currently lead 52/82 to Dan's 50/82.***

Cruiserweight Championship: Brian Kendrick vs. Kalisto

Well someone came to their senses and realized Kalisto is a cruiserweight, and now he's all over Smackdown.  Unlike TJ Perkins (who's a solid hand but devoid of a character), Kalisto actually connects with the audience, so there's a chance they'll be invested in this match.  Also if Kalisto wins the belt the entire division gets moved to Smackdown (Makes sense since the new 205 Live show will be airing directly after the blue brand on Tuesdays).  I know Kendrick just won the belt, but there's no reason whatsoever to add this stipulation unless you're actually gonna go through with it.  The RAW creative team has no idea what to do with these guys and the division's been dying a slow death since the CW Classic ended.  Just move the lot of 'em over to Smackdown and make 205 Live a Smackdown property.

Justin's pick: Kalisto
Dan's pick: You almost need Kalisto to win here so it moves to the blue brand.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Sami Zayn

I have mixed feelings about this last-minute change.  Ziggler vs. Zayn would've probably stolen the show and I'm not sure why they took the belt off Dolph already, aside from this match now being heel vs. babyface.  Regardless, Miz is good enough to have a helluva match with Zayn, and Zayn is good enough that he'd be hard-pressed NOT to have a good match.  Miz really never should've lost the belt, so I can't complain that he's got it again.  So where does that leave Ziggler?  Do they add him to this and make it a 3-way?  I'd be fine with that.  Do they pit Ziggler vs. Rusev since neither of them is booked?  Do they add him to the elimination match so Shane doesn't have to be in it?  For fuck's sake, Shane!  More on that later.  Anywho, if Sami wins, the I-C belt goes to RAW.  I can't see that happening.  Miz keeps it.

Justin's pick: Miz retains
Dan's pick: Wait, what? Had no clue Miz even won the belt back. I LOVE IT. Miz retains.

The History of WWE Survivor Series, part 10 (2014-2015)

We've reached the finale of our historical journey....

Survivor Series 2014 - Scottrade Center - 11/23/14

Oddly the main event of the 2014 edition was like a do-over from 2013.  The Authority picked five guys to represent them, against a five-man insurrection led by the company's top babyface.  And if the good guys won, The Authority would be out of power, with only the babyface leader able to reinstate them.  On paper that's a pretty high-stakes elimination match.  Unfortunately the execution leading up to this show was so bad and lacked all urgency, and this type of angle has been done so many times no one really cared.  A year prior, with the Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority feud in high gear, this would've been epic.  In 2014 though, with longtime WWE posterboy John Cena cast as "The guy Triple H and Steph don't want representing the company because........just because," it doesn't quite work.  But before we get to this match, let's look at the rest of the show.

First up was a four-way match for the Tag Team Title, as Goldust & Stardust defended against Team Mizdow, The Usos, and Los Matadores.  Taken in and of itself this match was perfectly decent.  It was given over fifteen minutes and everyone involved could work.  The problem was these four teams had faced each other in various combinations ad nauseum over the preceding weeks, so nothing about this felt special.  It was just eight guys executing a match.  Also this being Survivor Series, Elimination Rules would've made more sense.  Mizdow won the belts prematurely to further the eventual split between Miz and Sandow, which as we all know led to nothing.

They won the belts too soon and split up too soon.
Next up was a four-on-four Divas elimination match: Alicia Fox, Emma, Naomi and Natalya vs. Paige, Cameron, Layla, and Summer Rae.  There was little point to this match but I'll be goddamned if it wasn't terribly entertaining.  It's a rare thing for a women's match of any kind to get nearly fifteen minutes on a PPV, and this was actually treated like a real Survivor Series bout.  Sadly it was a clean sweep which I hate in general (these should be saved for very rare occasions and made into a huge deal), but I liked the match quite a bit all things considered.

The first big match of the night was next, as Dean Ambrose faced Bray Wyatt in a battle of the crazy dudes.  This was pretty underwhelming actually, and ended with a lame DQ.  They'd have a much better match with an even dumber ending at TLC.

Next up was Adam Rose and The Bunny vs. Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil.  What in the hell was the point of this?  Between the match itself and the entrances this took up probably 7 minutes of valuable air time that could've been given to one of the matches people actually gave a shit about.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

You Used to Be Sooooo Good: Metallica (A Heated Debate)

Welcome back to another edition of You Used to Be Soooo Good, where Justin & I, Dan Moore, discuss things used to be awesome but now, eh, not so much. This week we discuss master musicians who I believe were once at the top of the music world, but have lost a few chords on their gee-tars whilst JB thinks they’re still chugging along at light speed.

METALLICA: You Used to Be Soooo Good

Now that's METAL right there.
DAN: Ah, Metallica. Once the go to band for all things awesome & metal. If you needed your ass blasted off with music so loud the angels themselves head banged to it, they were the fellas you listened to. Their music defined metal. Christ even their name is f*cking awesome. METALLICA. Say it again. Congratulations, your tongue just got rocked. They took a genre of music, metal, named themselves after it, and then reorganized the pecking order of metal bands. It went
1.      Metallica
2.      No one else comes close

Going to their concerts in the 80s and 90s was akin to allowing a jet to take off in your eardrums. Those were the loudest concerts I’ve ever been to in my life, and I’ve seen the Barenaked Ladies (it was because a girl I hadn’t slept with yet bought tickets, but that’s still not an acceptable excuse). They were the best.
And then…they weren’t. They cut their hair and lost their powers, like metal Samsons. Now I’m not saying the haircuts all of a sudden made them not be able to rock as hard anymore, but that’s definitely the cutoff (pun humor!) point. To begin their careers, they released possibly the five greatest metal albums ever and then…a lotta crap that is completely forgettable. No songs on those albums released after The Black Album resonate with me at all. I would be hard pressed to name any, in fact. To go from perfect metal monsters to whatever they are now is such a disappoint to me as a fan of metal.

The History of WWE Survivor Series, part 9 (2011-2013)

These next three are quite a mixed bag....

Survivor Series 2011 - Madison Square Garden - 11/20/11

This show was loads of fun, up until the main event.  There's not a bad match on the card, but I found the Rock/Cena vs. Miz/Truth tag match utterly depressing.  But we'll get to that in a bit.

The PPV opened with a spectacular US Title match, as Dolph Ziggler defended against the departing John Morrison.  These two gelled superbly and JoMo left WWE with a bang.  This eleven-minute match featured 17 kinds of Awesome.  For those counting, that's roughly 1.5 kinds of Awesome per minute.

Second was a solid Divas Title match between Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres.  Nothing mindblowing, but both of these women could work, and they did.

The lone elimination match was next, as Wade Barrett led Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, Hunico (the former Fake Sin Cara and now simply known as Sin Cara), and Mr. Double-Duty Dolph Ziggler against Randy Orton, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, Mason Ryan (??), and Sin Cara (now simply known as Not Sin Cara).  As always someone had to be pinned very early; this time it was Ziggler, and shortly after that Sin Cara injured himself (man this guy turned out to be a bust) and had to forfeit his spot.  Once that stuff was over though, this turned into a pretty good elimination match.  Barrett was just beginning to look like a real star and along with Cody, outlasted Team Orton to take the duke.  Sadly Barrett was plagued by injuries the rest of his WWE run and his push was never fully realized.

The World Title match was up next as Mark Henry defended against The Big Show.  On paper this sounds like a snorefest, but it was actually pretty decent.  The action was stiff and included the old Tackle-Through-The-Barricade spot.  Henry hit Show with a nutshot to cheaply retain the belt, and Show made him pay for it by injuring his leg with a chair.  This would've been the perfect time for Mr. Money in the Bank Daniel Bryan (who wasn't booked on this show) to cash in and win the World Title in front of a rabid New York crowd, but the company chose to save that for the TLC PPV in December.  Whatever....

All you gotta do is tap, Del Rio.  Tap-tap-tappa-roo!

The true main event of the evening was second-to-last as WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio defended against WWE's newest folk hero CM Punk.  This was a fantastically-worked match, full of great action, drama, submission holds and reversals.  After 17 minutes Punk forced Del Rio to tap out to the Anaconda Vice and began his legendary 434-day reign as WWE Champion.  The MSG crowd ate up this match and its aftermath with a serving ladle.  Unfortunately its awesomeness would be upstaged by the billed main event.....

Monday, November 14, 2016

Top Ten Things: Metallica Songs

And we're back with another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!

Today I'll be talking about what are in my estimation the ten best songs by the greatest metal band of all time, Metallica!  For those of you who are new to the site, my associate Dan Moore and I argued at great length about Metallica's recent works HERE, but we both agreed that in the pantheon of face-melting, gut-pummeling, earhole-drilling heavy music, Metallica stand head, shoulders, knees and toes above the rest.  From their searing debut Kill 'Em All to their mainstream rock megahit Metallica (otherwise known as The Black Album), to their misguided, psychotherapy-infused St. Anger and subsequent return to shred-worthy form, the epic Death Magnetic, Metallica have crafted a masterful body of work consisting of nine (soon to be ten) distinctive studio albums that span three decades.

But which of their dozens of legendary songs are the best of the bunch?  It was tough to narrow it down to ten and I had to take into account both my own personal connection to the songs and their overall importance.  Let's take a look, shall we?

10. My Apocalypse - The blistering closer of Death Magnetic is reminiscent of the band's early thrashers.  The track is impossibly fast and visceral, and leaves the listener with the clear impression that, yes, Metallica is back to the business of making old-school speed metal better than anyone in the business.

9. Frantic - This selection will undoubtedly be controversial, but the one great song on St. Anger is a brutally heavy aural juggernaut that features a killer tritone-based guitar riff over Lars' relentless percussive hammering (for this one track I can forgive that horribly annoying ringing snare).  Plus I always dug the nu-metal influence of that "Frantic-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tock" line.

8. Fuel - The Load/ReLoad double album has taken a lot of flak over the years for being "too different," and "too grungy" for Metallica's core fanbase, but both albums contain several gems, the best of which is ReLoad's opening track.  "Fuel" has a kinetic, driving beat and an awesomely heavy detuned riff, accompanied by a tremendously hooky chorus.  This was the closest thing to a traditional metal song from Metallica's most experimental era.

The History of WWE Survivor Series, part 8 (2008-2010)

We're nearing the end of our historical journey.  Enjoy!

Survivor Series 2008 - TD Garden - 11/23/08

The 2008 edition was uneven at best.  The good matches were worth watching and the bad matches are to be avoided like a three-week-old pastrami sandwich.  On the plus side there were three traditional elimination matches, and on the minus side there were three mediocre-or-worse singles bouts.

The show opened with a 5-on-5 match, as Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio, The Great Khali, and Cryme Tyme (yet another one of those classy "ethnic" WWE gimmicks) faced JBL, Kane, MVP, John Morrison, and The Miz.  Once past the idiotic, overly-quick eliminations this settled into some okay, watchable Survivor Series fare.  Nothing big was at stake, but it was just a solid, old-school elimination match.  Shawn, Mysterio, and for some reason The Great Khali were the survivors (shortly after this the company finally figured out that Khali probably shouldn't be beating anyone given his physical condition).

A Divas elimination match was next, featuring RAW's Beth Phoenix, Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Candice Michelle, and Jillian Hall against Smackdown's Michelle McCool, Victoria, Maria, Maryse, and Natalya.  Once again we the audience were expected to believe that brand loyalty was more important to these wrestlers than moral alignment.  The match featured a series of rapid-fire eliminations spread over nine-and-a-half minutes.  Quite forgettable.  Beth Phoenix won the whole thing.

In slot 3 was the first singles match of the night, as The Undertaker and The Big Show plodded through a Casket Match.  I've never felt much chemistry between these two, and this was no different.  Tedious.  Very tedious.

The best 2008 elimination match was next, as Randy Orton led Shelton Benjamin, William Regal, Cody Rhodes, and Mark Henry against Batista, CM Punk, Kofi Kingston, Matt Hardy, and R-Truth.  This match came about because two months earlier at Unforgiven, Orton attacked and punted World Champion Punk backstage, resulting in Punk being taken out of his title defense that night, costing him the Championship by forfeit.  I'm not sure in what universe it's believable that a Champion can be sneak-attacked backstage minutes before his scheduled defense, and the company penalizes him by immediately stripping him of the belt, thus allowing his last-minute replacement (Chris Jericho) to capture said Title.  The whole point of this was to start a major feud between Orton and Punk, but only weeks later Batista returned to WWE TV and usurped Punk's spot in the feud.  Punk became a total afterthought and never got a return Title match, instead having to win another Money in the Bank briefcase to get near the strap again.  Anyway, the match was quite good, despite yet another first-minute elimination and Punk being taken out unceremoniously midway through.  Orton and Cody survived.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums of All Time, Picked Apart (251-300)

by Michael Drinan

We carry on with our bashing of Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time by tackling entries 251-300. You can catch up with Part 5 HERE.

251. Otis Redding - The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
252. Metallica - Metallica
253. Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express
254. Whitney Houston - Whitney Houston
255. The Kinks - The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
256. Janet Jackson - The Velvet Rope
257. Willie Nelson - Stardust
258. Grateful Dead - American Beauty
259. Crosby, Stills & Nash - Crosby, Stills & Nash
260. Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club

This section kicks off with Otis Redding’s last studio album before his death. Great album. Nice to see it here.

Whitney Houston’s eponymous debut is the first of her albums to appear on this list, which is surprising because I thought I’d see the soundtrack to The Bodyguard before anything, but whatever.

Janet Jackson’s The Velvet Rope is a surprise here for me. It’s a highly influential album and a departure on her sound and style but I still think her album janet. is a better album. I wish it were ranked here instead of The Velvet Rope, or higher.

261. Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman
262. Grateful Dead - Workingman’s Dead
263. Ray Charles - The Genius of Ray Charles
264. Blood, Sweat & Tears - Child is Father To the Man
265. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo’s Factory
266. The Who - Quadrophenia
267. Paul Simon - There Goes Rhymin’ Simon
268. Jesus & Mary Chain - Psycho Candy
269. Rolling Stones - Some Girls
270. Beach Boys - The Beach Boys Today!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Top Ten Things: WWE Survivor Series Teams

What up, m'nerds!  Welcome to another Top Ten Things here at Enuffa.com!

With the 30th annual Survivor Series around the corner (Hard to believe it's been three decades!) I thought I'd take a look back at my ten favorite Survivor Series squads over the years.  As many of you may know I'm a huge fan of the Survivor Series concept - always have been - especially when we get to see two superteams duke it out on the big PPV stage.  Often an elimination match is only built around one feud: the captain of one team vs. the captain of the other.  In cases like that you'll often see teams like The Undertaker's 1995 bench, comprised of low-carders Henry Godwin, Savio Vega and "Make a Difference" Fatu.  Hardly an all-star cast, and since they swept that match Taker didn't even really need them.  But when a match consists of multiple A-listers trying to resolve multiple angles and rivalries, magic happens.  Let's take a look at the list.

***Note: I'm presenting this in chronological order, as ranking these ten teams would be difficult, and I don't like things that are difficult.***

1. Team Randy Savage (1987): Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake & Jim Duggan

The first-ever Survivor Series match pitted Intercontinental Champion The Honky Tonk Man and four of his pals against two former Champs and a few other guys who'd had issues with HTM.  Savage's team boasted easily the strongest lineup of the inaugural PPV.  Beefcake, Roberts and Duggan were all super over, but the most mind-blowing inclusion was Savage's former archnemesis Ricky Steamboat, with whom he'd feuded on and off for two years.  The sight of these two working together after Savage's babyface turn was incredible.  Ultimately this team made fairly easy work of HTM's lineup, only suffering one pinfall loss (Beefcake) and losing Duggan to a double countout before gaining a 3-on-1 advantage on Honky Tonk, who took a powder at the end.  This stacked team kicked off the grand Survivor Series tradition with a bang.

2. Team Powers of Pain (1988): Powers of Pain, Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs, Rockers & Young Stallions

First off, I'm beyond excited the 10-team elimination match is returning this year, after a 28-year hiatus.  This particular concept yielded the Match of the Night at the first two Survivor Series PPVs and I can't believe no effort was made before now to bring it back.  The 1987 20-man match was excellent and highlighted the WWF's robust tag team division.  The 1988 incarnation did it one better, delivering my favorite WWF match of 1988.  The Powers' team included three of the most talented duos in wrestling history - The Harts, The Bulldogs and The Rockers - and looking back now it's stunning to think about how much talent resided in that corner of the ring.  The match eventually boiled down to The Powers vs. Demolition and The Conquistadors, when Demolition's manager Mr. Fuji turned on them before being adopted by the now-heel Powers of Pain.  Probably still my all-time favorite elimination match.

3. Hulkamaniacs (1989): Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts & Demolition

The match may have been a staggering disappointment full of lazy disqualifications and no surprises, but there's no denying what a strong team this was.  WWF Champ Hogan, Tag Champs Demolition, and perennial favorite Jake Roberts assembled for the 1989 main event (slated third on the card for some reason) to take on Ted Dibase, Zeus and The Powers of Pain.  Had the booking been stronger and the heel team not been comprised of stale characters, this could've been a classic battle.

The History of WWE Survivor Series, part 7 (2005-2007)

Rather a mixed bag from '05-'07.....

Survivor Series 2005 - Joe Louis Arena - 11/27/05

This right here is a pretty damn good show.  Shockingly, for the second consecutive year the Survivor Series main event was a traditional elimination match.  While it was built around a completely phony "brand loyalty" premise, it was nice to see a melee between two superteams serve as the top-billed match at this event.

The card opened with a WCW retread - Chris Benoit vs. Booker T in a Best-of-Seven Series match for the US Title.  Their chemistry in 2005 was nowhere near on the level of their 1998 work, but this was still a fine way to open the show.  As with SummerSlam, Benoit went from headlining this PPV in 2004 to curtain-jerking in 2005.

Trish Stratus then took on Melina for the Women's Title in a pretty solid little match.  Trish was usually awesome, and Melina's absurd flexibility always made for some memorable spots.  Not bad.

Third up was a match I wasn't expecting to enjoy at all - Triple H vs. Ric Flair in a Last Man Standing match.  This feud started that October on the "USA Homecoming" episode of RAW, when Triple H turned on Flair for basically no reason.  Seriously, the feud was based on the thinnest of motivations.  Hunter said he realized Flair was no longer a legend and had to be stopped.  Really guys?  That's all you have?  Anyway, this match was definitely longer than it should've been, but still an exceptional, violent brawl with all kindsa flowing crimson.

"You must be stopped, ex-legend!"

The WWE Title match was next as first-time Champion John Cena defended against Kurt Angle.  This was sadly nowhere near their Unforgiven match two months prior, and due in part to special referee Shawn Daivari's biased officiating it devolved into a rather gimmicky affair.  The brief 13-minute running time didn't help either.

In the death spot was the one truly bad match of the night, as RAW GM Eric Bischoff faced Smackdown GM Teddy Long.  The whole RAW vs. Smackdown feud was so utterly forced and devoid of any genuine heat.  Did anyone in the audience truly believe any of these guys was loyal to their own brand, especially when they held Draft Lotteries almost every year to shuffle the roster around?  Idiotic.  Anyway, this was what you'd expect from two non-wrestlers.

The main event featured the Smackdown team of World Champ Batista, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Bobby Lashley and JBL vs. the RAW team of Shawn Michaels, Big Show, Kane, Carlito and Chris Masters.  Again, are we supposed to think Batista and JBL who just feuded all summer are suddenly allies simply because they're on the same show?  But the match was quite good, featured splendid action and drama, and in an echo of the 2003 Survivor Series match, boiled down to HBK vs. Orton and two partners, in this case JBL and Mysterio.  Unfortunately the 3-on-1 drama was diffused after one minute when Shawn superkicked and eliminated JBL and Rey.  Just like in 2003, Orton was able to outlast Shawn to win the whole match, making this the third consecutive year Orton was the sole survivor.  After the match The Undertaker returned to resume his feud with Randall, which would lead to a Hell in a Cell match the following month.

Babyfaces and heels united to stop those evil bastards on the other show!

The 2005 Survivor Series was a solid outing.  While I didn't care much about any of the featured feuds, at least the card itself was well-executed.  As a standalone show this was one of the strongest editions in several years.

Best Match: RAW vs. Smackdown Elimination Match
Worst Match: Eric Bischoff vs. Teddy Long
What I'd Change: I'd have left the GM match off the show because, who cares?  Cena vs. Angle could've gone longer as well.
Most Disappointing Match: John Cena vs. Kurt Angle
Most Pleasant Surprise: Triple H vs. Ric Flair - both this and their previous cage match at Taboo Tuesday were far better than they had any right to be, given the big fat Nothing their feud was about.
Overall Rating: 7/10
Better than WrestleMania 21 and/or SummerSlam '05? - No, but yes.

Survivor Series 2006 - Wachovia Center - 11/26/06

What a depressing show this was.  Survivor Series 2006 was a nice little cross-section of how uninspired and defiantly unsatisfying the WWE product was that year.  Looking over this card there were several potentially good matches, but sadly not one of them broke out of the two-star range.  WWE at this point was pushing who they wanted to push and more or less ignoring everyone else, regardless of how over they were (see Punk, CM).  Basically every match on this card felt like the whole crew was going through the motions and didn't want to be there.  Soooo, let's get started analyzing this bore of a show.

The opening match saw the already dead and buried Spirit Squad (featuring the future Dolph Ziggler) against four Legends with a combined age of roughly 240 - Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Ron Simmons and Sgt. Slaughter.  As with any nostalgia vs. youth match the Legends team won (Flair singlehandedly eliminated three of the Squad members to become the sole survivor), thus ensuring no long-term benefit from the match whatsoever.  This stunk.

Next was the US Title match between Chavo Guerrero and Chris Benoit.  This was fine but wouldn't remotely make either guy's highlight reel.

The third match was Lita's retirement bout against Mickie James for the Women's Title.  Of all the matches on this PPV this was probably the only one with any urgency or motivation from its participants.  Lita clearly wanted to go out with a bang, and both women delivered.

Up fourth was an elimination match that should've been epic given the talent involved.  Triple H, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk and the Hardy Boyz faced Randy Orton, Edge, Johnny Nitro, Gregory Helms, and Mike Knox.  Hmmm, which of these ten dudes doesn't belong?  Could it be the guy who was eliminated 40 seconds into the match?  Yup, WWE once again decided to essentially pull a bait-and-switch by knocking someone out of the match right at the outset.  I love when that happens.  Anywho, what should've been a 20-plus-minute war became an eleven-minute clean-sweep, as the heels were made to look totally ineffectual and incompetent.  And yet the DX-Rated RKO feud continued for two months after this match, even though Edge and Orton got their asses handed to them in decisive fashion here.

Next up is an elimination match featuring DX! The Hardyz! CM Punk!
.............oh, and five other guys.

Next was the Undertaker facing one of WWE's all-time disappointments, Mr. Kennedy, in a First Blood match.  I honestly never got what the big deal was with Kennedy.  He was a good talker with very limited in-ring skills and a look that screamed "midcarder."  Even his back tattoo looked bush league.  Kennedy won here thanks to interference by MVP, and then Taker beat the everlovin' shit out of him to ensure his heat was instantaneously diffused.

The final elimination match pitted John Cena, Bobby Lashley, Kane, Rob Van Dam and Sabu against Big Show, Test, MVP, Finlay and Umaga.  For the second time ON THIS SHOW one of the heels was eliminated immediately, as Umaga got DQd for hitting RVD with a TV monitor.  Did the writers for each match not consult each other to ensure they weren't duplicating efforts?  From there the match was a flurry of overly quick eliminations, with five men getting taken out in the span of two minutes.  Cena and Lashley prevailed at 12:35, making this the longest elimination match of the night (eight minutes shorter than the shortest match at the inaugural Series PPV).  As an aside, The Big Show looked absolutely terrible in 2006.  He was easily a hundred pounds heavier than he is currently, and seemed exhausted just being conscious and upright.  It's easy to see why he took a year off shortly after this.  Test also looked overly inflated from whatever performance-enhancers he was using, like someone inserted balloons under his skin and blew them up.

Dave?  Dave!  DAVE!  Wake up!

The main event was World Champion Booker T vs. Batista, in another dull, plodding affair from these two.  As with the 2006 SummerSlam, there was virtually no chemistry here and the match felt like it was happening just because they needed a main event.  Couple that with Batista's horribly unheroic win after a belt shot, and this was one of the weakest PPV main events I can remember.

The 2006 edition of the show played out like we all only had a little bit of time to watch each match.  Everything was rushed and awkward, and somehow despite only seven matches on the card not one of them exceeded 14 minutes.  Other than the female wrestlers no one seemed to give much of a shit about actually entertaining people, and the result is a real downer of a PPV that advanced very little.  Also only one match was won by a heel, and that was due to a backfired run-in, and followed by an epic post-match mauling by the babyface.  I've said this before, but if the babyfaces are never in peril, where's the conflict?  This show just sucked all kinds of ass.  All kinds.

Best Match: Lita vs. Mickie James - Yes, an 8-minute women's match was better than anything else on this stinker.
Worst Match: Team Flair vs. Spirit Squad - Please tell me why anyone would pay to see four 60-year-olds beat up a group of promising young wrestlers.  What is gained by this in the long run?
What I'd Change: Cut the opening old-timers match, make the DX-RKO match 25 minutes and have Orton and Edge win the whole thing so they seem like a threat, and generally present a PPV where the talent seems to actually enjoy their job.
Most Disappointing Match: Team DX vs. Team Rated RKO
Most Pleasant Surprise: Lita vs. Mickie
Overall Rating: 1.5/10
Better than WrestleMania 22 and/or SummerSlam '06? - No on both.  Astounding considering how bad SummerSlam '06 was.

Survivor Series 2007 - American Airlines Arena - 11/18/07

Things got somewhat back on track in late 2007, as WWE rediscovered consistently watchable PPVs.  That year's edition of No Mercy and Survivor Series began a string of solid shows.  While Series wasn't exactly a throwback to the gimmick's glory days, it was still a strong PPV with two excellent main events.

The show kicked off in style as CM Punk defended the ECW Title against John Morrison and The Miz in a brief but exciting Triple Threat match.  For a little while the company was finally starting to get behind Punk as a rising babyface star (partly out of necessity due to JoMo being suspended for PEDs).

Next was a rather pointless inclusion, a one-fall ten-Divas tag team match.  It was forgettable but inoffensive.

Another free-TV quality match followed as Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch successfully defended the World Tag straps against Bob Holly and Cody Rhodes.  Holly and Rhodes became a team in the logical fashion: they wrestled each other several times with Holly repeatedly beating the piss out of Rhodes until he "learned respect."  This was a terrible angle and a perplexing way to create a babyface duo.  The match here was fine but far from noteworthy.

Things really picked up however with the lone traditional Survivor Series match, as Triple H, Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio and Kane (Matt Hardy was supposed to be on the team but was kayfabe injured - yet another instance of an elimination match missing a participant right from the start.  Christ!) took on Umaga, Mr. Kennedy, MVP, Finlay and Big Daddy V.  Not much of a heel team there, but the match was decent and was actually given ample time for a change.  Triple H and Jeff Hardy were the survivors in this somewhat pedestrian but entertaining match.

It wouldn't be a Survivor Series card without an inclusion that made me wanna slit my wrists, so WWE added The Great Khali vs. Hornswaggle.  This is yet another example of a match that clearly didn't garner a single PPV buy, and I defy WWE to prove otherwise.  Vince and Shane were in Hornswaggle's corner, so obviously this was meant for an audience of one.  It's stuff like this that makes one question Vince's sanity and taste in entertainment.

It's a Sharpshooter.  Ring the bell.  RING THE F*CKING BELL!!

Up until this point Survivor Series 2007 was in danger of being just as sucky as the 2006 edition, but fortunately the double main event saved it.  Randy Orton defended the WWE Title against Shawn Michaels, with the stipulations that Orton could lose the belt on a DQ and that Shawn was banned from using the superkick.  These stips made for some nice psychology and forced Shawn to get a little creative with his offense (in an odd twist Shawn broke out the Crippler Crossface, only five months after the Chris Benoit murder-suicide).  This was a helluva good Title match.

The main event was the blowoff to the excellent Undertaker-Batista feud of 2007, inside Hell in a Cell.  These two had amazing chemistry and turned in a handful of show-stealing matches that year.  I consider 2007 to be when Taker rediscovered his considerable in-ring ability, and also the year Batista came into his own as a worker.  After twenty-plus minutes of back-and-forth action, the returning Edge interfered, disguised as a ringside cameraman, and cost Taker the bout.  While run-in endings usually detract from big matches, in this case Edge's meddling made sense and kicked off a great feud that lasted through most of 2008.


Survivor Series 2007 was far from a perfect show, but it was light years better than the previous installment and featured two killer main events.  The ensuing calendar year would see several strong PPV offerings and a somewhat refocused WWE product. 

Best Match: Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels
Worst Match: The Great Khali vs. Hornswaggle
What I'd Change: Cut the Khali-Hornswaggle shit, obviously.  And where was Shelton Benjamin??
Most Disappointing Match: Probably the elimination bout.  It was decent but not great.
Most Pleasant Surprise: I guess the return of Edge, as I knew it meant an extended Taker-Edge feud.
Overall Rating: 7/10
Better than WrestleMania 23 and/or SummerSlam '07? - No, and yes.

Part 6                                                                                                                                                Part 8

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The History of WWE Survivor Series, part 6 (2002-2004)

This installment, if anything, proves that I should likely see a therapist about my wrestling-related issues.  But I'm not wrong.  Read with caution.....

Survivor Series 2002 - Madison Square Garden - 11/17/02

Sweet mother of God this show pissed me off.  Really, on so many levels this show made me want to smash lots of things with a steel girder.  Besides the obvious surface-level stupidity of this not at all being a proper Survivor Series lineup (Not one traditional SS match?  Really?), the booking was so incredibly nonsensical it actually hurt my face.  Some of the matches were fine, but the backstage political games that plagued WWE at the time undermined almost everything good that happened.  So strap on your hip boots, cuz we's about to wade through some shit.

The opening match was a six-man elimination Tables Match. Ooooh, so close to being an actual Survivor Series match, but nope.  During the brand split in early 2002, the company decided to split up not one, but two of their top tag teams, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz, essentially gutting the entire division.  Oh, and they made the Tag belts exclusive to RAW so almost no teams even existed to fight over them.  Makes sense.  Anyway, this match saw Bubba Dudley, Spike Dudley and Jeff Hardy face Three Minute Warning and Rico.  It was fine for what it was, but I gave less than a poop.  There's one moment during the match where Jeff Hardy is brawling outside the ring and the participants have clearly been told to pick up the pace and get to the finish.  Rico gets up on the second rope and quite audibly yells, "Jeff! Get in here!"  Well done sir.

Second was a Cruiserweight Title match between Billy Kidman and Jamie Noble.  This was fine.  Seven minutes was enough for them to make an impression at least.

The Women's Title match was next as Trish Stratus defended against her crazed, smitten rival Victoria (another Trish feud played out in similar fashion a few years later with Mickie James).  Victoria was great as this psychotic character who seemed to harbor romantic feelings for Trish.  She also had Tatu's "All the Things She Said" as her entrance theme, which was fucking fantastic - probably the best entrance theme in the company at the time.  This match was pretty good and elevated Victoria as an excellent heel champ.

Okay, here's where things get stupid, folks.  The WWE Title match saw the company's newest main event star Brock Lesnar, fresh off cleanly defeating Rob Van Dam, The Rock and The Undertaker in PPV bouts (plus Hogan and Flair on free TV), defend against The Big Show, fresh off defeating almost no one on RAW for months.  Big Show had been floundering for the better part of two years and lost basically every feud he was involved in, only to be traded to Smackdown and immediately given a #1 Contender's spot.  Umm, what?  To make matters worse, the storyline was that Lesnar's manager Paul Heyman legitimately feared for Lesnar's well-being after Big Show attacked him, and was convinced Lesnar couldn't win the match.  Keep in mind Brock Lesnar was undefeated at this point while The Big Show just came off a horribly unsuccessful midcard run on RAW.  Got that?  So Lesnar's manager Paul Heyman didn't think the undefeated WWE Champion could beat his newest challenger who had just spent months losing most of his matches.  Did WWE think their viewers didn't watch both shows?  Also of note: Big Show's most recent PPV match prior to this was at May's Judgment Day, where he and Ric Flair lost a handicap match to Steve Austin.  Yeah there's a credible challenger.

Why is Big Bully Busick beating up Brock Lesnar?

Anyway, the match was a four-minute brawl where the big story was that Lesnar's ribs were injured (to be fair Lesnar was legit injured so he couldn't work a full match).  Lesnar dominated much the match, lifted Big Show up for an F5 (incredible), and went for the pin, only for Heyman to turn on Lesnar and help The Big Show win the Title.  So let me make sure I'm clear on this.  We're supposed to believe that Paul Heyman was so convinced his guy couldn't beat this perennial midcarder that he "opportunistically" turned on Lesnar, despite Lesnar never having lost a match, and despite Lesnar having THIS match won.  Sorry, did anyone at WWE Creative bother to proofread this garbage before they greenlit it?  This is some of the worst storytelling I've ever been privy to.  None of this made sense, and it wasted the potentially HUGE moment of Brock Lesnar's first pinfall loss by giving it to someone who wouldn't benefit from it (oddly similar to WCW booking Kevin Nash to beat Goldberg).  Oh, and the match wasn't good.

The one really great match on this show was the WWE Tag Team Title match (the company realized that RAW had basically no tag teams left to challenge the champions Chuck & Billy, so rather than the logical option of having the champs wrestle on both shows they created a Smackdown-only set of Tag belts) - a Triple Threat Elimination bout between Champions Rey Mysterio & Edge, Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit, and Los Guerreros.  This three-way feud for the straps resulted in some spectacular television in the fall of 2002, or as it's known by most, The Smackdown Six Era.  The only problem was that the belts changed hands every couple weeks.  Angle and Benoit were the first champions, but two weeks later they lost the belts to Edge & Mysterio, who lost them here to Eddie & Chavo.  But this was a helluva good match (with a slightly anticlimactic third act after Angle & Benoit were ousted), and really the only bright spot on the show.

Yes, I mean that wholeheartedly.  The Tag Title match was far and away the best thing on this card, including the inaugural Elimination Chamber.