Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The History of NXT Takeover: San Antonio

by Landon Wayne
@LSWayne21


The Road to Wrestlemania Weekend began here, in San Antonio on a Saturday night. In what seems like a quickly settling tradition, the Takeover events seem to all align before Big Four PPVs, which is brilliant both as a showcase for the NXT stars to people getting ready for a weekend of wrestling anyway, and to make the Sunday event feel bigger because of it. Takeover: San Antonio, like the Rumble to come after it, sets the board for the weekend upcoming in Orlando, as we may get a better feeling for who will challenge for what titles. But before we can go to Wrestlemania weekend, we have to get through Texas.


Eric Young defeated Tye Dillinger in an opening match that was better than I think many were giving the two a chance to give. It told a very good story of Tye being the superior athlete to Eric, but for the numbers game of Wolfe and Dane (Wait…). I really don’t know what the plan is with Tye, despite continuing to look good. He is destined to be a mediocre mid-card man in WWE if he ever leaves NXT. Eric Young and Sanity looked really strong as a unit coming out of this match. Young was able, with the finish the way it was, to show that his finisher could be hit from a variety of situations, something I think every finish needs. Sanity should be groomed for a tag title shot, IF DIY were the tag champs. But they’re not. Oh, we’ll get to that.



Roderick Strong defeated Andrade “Cien” Almas in a match that felt a lot like a match midway through the G1. There was a general sense of stake, but no specific motivations for either man. There was a clear sense that the man who won would get more opportunities or better ones than the other. Both Roddy and Andrade looked very strong in their performance. The biggest news is that they’ve decided to call Roddy’s running dropkick the Sick Kick.

The Authors of Pain defeated DIY for the NXT Tag Team Titles in a match that was as good as it really could have been. Like I mentioned in the preview, I’m not high at all on the Authors of Pain idea. I liked them better when they were called The Ascension, and The Dudleys…and Demolition, and finally the Road Warriors. I don’t know where we go from here, because we really don’t have any face teams to go up against the Walls of Meat. And I don’t know where DIY goes from here. Really an odd choice, but they must have ideas behind it.

Monday, January 30, 2017

WWE Royal Rumble 2017: Best Rumble PPV Ever?

Well damn.  Last night's Royal Rumble was about as good as can be expected in 2017.  Better than that even; I'd say the 30th edition was on par with the best Rumble PPVs they've ever done.


I've read a lot of negative feedback about the show, mostly due to the booking which was admittedly pretty unexciting.  No one new was positioned to be "made" with this match; it centered around the "safe" choices and we didn't get the expected Samoa Joe debut or a Kurt Angle return.  However we did get a very unpredictable Rumble with a larger field of potential winners than we've had in a very long time.  There were easily ten or so guys who could reasonably have walked away with the WrestleMania title shot, and that's nothing to sneeze at.  Aside from that, the Rumble match had a couple little surprises, like Tye Dillinger entering at #10 and Jack Gallagher making the most hilarious use of an umbrella I've ever seen.  Other highlights were Jericho as the long man once again (lasting just over an hour), Braun Strowman pulling a 1994 Diesel and killing a buncha guys before being eliminated, Goldberg besting Brock for the second time, and Roman Reigns eliminating The Undertaker and setting up their WrestleMania match (a prospect many are grumbling about but I'm actually fine with - it's something different and maybe we'll see Reigns go heel).  This Rumble match was not unlike the 2001 version in some ways - the surprise entrants were minor but the match had a good amount of star power and primarily served to reinforce the established names.  That's ok as long as a) the build to 'Mania unfolds logically and b) future Rumbles create some new stars.  I have few gripes about this Rumble match, except that the frequency of these two-time Rumble winners is gettin' to be a lot, and it's taking away from the specialness of that achievement.  But that's fairly minor.  Also in our Rumble pool I ended up with Roman Reigns and was ultimately the runner-up (Second time that's happened with Reigns, fourth time overall).


What really made this show stand out was the undercard.  I say without hesitation this was the finest Rumble undercard WWE has ever produced.  Two stellar Title matches and two solid title matches, with not one stinker on the entire PPV (I'm not counting the pre-show - Jax vs. Banks was a throwaway).  One can't really ask for more than that out of a Royal Rumble undercard, which generally trends toward uneven at best.

The Women's Title match opened the show and this was the absolute right move to get the San Antonio crowd invested.  Charlotte vs. Bayley felt like the first match in a series, and they got a respectable 13 minutes to tell a story.  Charlotte is such a major star right now in every facet of her game, it's really quite something to behold.  Bayley still hasn't quite recaptured her NXT magic on the main roster but it'll come.  This match didn't blow the doors off the place but it wasn't designed to - we'll doubtless see numerous superior rematches in the coming months.  For now this felt just about right for its place on the card, and the finish was novel if sudden - Charlotte nailed Natural Selection on the ring apron before rolling Bayley away from the ropes and scoring the pin.  Good opener.

Friday, January 27, 2017

WWE Royal Rumble 2017 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to your official Enuffa.com predictions for the 30th Annual Royal Rumble!  Or as Vince McMahon would like you to call it, "The 30th Anniversary of the Royal Rumble." 


We're about to begin a pretty unpredictable Road to WrestleMania, as only a few matches on that show are set in stone right now (Rollins vs. Triple H, Goldberg vs. Lesnar, and apparently Big Show vs. Shaq????).  Thus the Rumble and the Title pictures on both shows are very hard to call.  Generally speaking that's a good thing, though it does open the door for WWE to make some horrendous creative decisions as they scramble to arrange the pieces on the chess board (see Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon, 2016).  But overall I'm pretty jazzed about this show for those reasons, also because WWE is returning to the Alamodome after 20 years.  The 1997 Rumble, though it hasn't aged all that well, was a thoroughly entertaining PPV that felt like a big deal in no small part because of that expansive venue.  They're also extending this show to a four-hour format as they've done with SummerSlam and Survivor Series, so every match should get enough time.

Anyway let's get to the predictions.

***I lead Dan 65/101 to 59/101.***



Pre-Show Match: Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks


I'm actually quite interested in this match and feud so it kinda sucks they're stuck on the Pre-Show.  After finally losing her epic feud with Charlotte, Sasha has run into a brick wall by the name of Nia Jax.  Nia showed great potential in NXT that's blossoming on the main roster, as she's been presented as an unstoppable force.  This match will likely be a typical David vs. Goliath; Jax's dominance vs. Banks's resilience.  The female version of Strowman vs. Zayn, if you will.  If the rumors are true and the WrestleMania plan is a four-way for the Women's belt, this match and feud will need to be booked to make both women look strong.  But I see Nia winning here.

Justin's pick: Nia Jax
Dan's pick: Sure




Pre-show RAW Tag Team Championship: Sheamus & Cesaro vs. The Club


This'll be a solid tag team brawl.  Sheamus & Cesaro just won the belts a month ago so I don't see them losing already, especially not on the Pre-Show.  Not much else to say about this match.  It'll be fine.

Justin's pick: Sheamus & Cesaro retain
Dan's pick: I hate them putting a Championship match on the pre-show.  Kills whatever prestige these fake championships should have.  S&C should retain.




Pre-show Match: Alexa Bliss, Mickie James & Natalya vs. Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella & Naomi 


Wow, the Smackdown women's roster is actually a full boat.  We have three separate feuds going on right now and this match is a way to advance them all.  Feels a bit like a Saturday Night's Main Event kinda thing, but whatever, it'll be fun.  Mickie James's addition to the roster can only be a good thing - she's still got it by the way (See her match against Asuka for Exhibit A).  Also Nattie's back to being a heel and that makes me happy.  This match will need to establish Nikki as Alexa's next challenger.  So....

Justin's pick: Team Nikki wins
Dan's pick: Team Alexa, because I don't know


Thursday, January 26, 2017

NXT Takeover: San Antonio Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another edition of Enuffa.com Predictions, as my colleague Landon Wayne and I pick apart this Saturday's NXT Takeover special from San Antonio!



The landscape of NXT has gone through quite a number of changes since Toronto, with several new faces added to the mix.  The Women's division in particular is in a rebuilding phase, as Asuka has destroyed everyone in her path since arriving on the scene a year and a half ago.  The Tag Title picture for the first time in about a year isn't focused on The Revival.  The NXT Championship has bounced back and forth between Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura (who is right now the sole face of the promotion).  It's an interesting and somewhat unpredictable time on the yellow brand.  So let's take a look at the matchups....



Roderick Strong vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas


Once again poor Almas is being used to put over an NXT newcomer.  They need to figure out something to do with this guy.  He's got the in-ring talent in spades, but his character isn't connecting.  As for Roddy Strong, it should be fun to see how he fares in NXT.  He's an obviously very accomplished indie star with a track record of fantastic bouts and I'm excited to see him interact with Austin Aries when Aries returns.  This match will be a fun opener and a great showcase for Strong.

Justin's pick: Roderick Strong
Landon's pick: This is the one match on the card that I think has the potential to be better than its placement. I have full confidence that these two will be able to make a great match out of what they’re given. I think Almas has a lot to offer the company that he isn’t, though that’s no fault of his. Strong’s place in the company is still to be determined in my mind, and the result of this match will tell all. My prediction is Almas, regardless.




Eric Young vs. Tye Dillinger


Dillinger is another solid hand who seems destined to make incoming guys look good.  I've never been much of an Eric Young fan but the Sanity gimmick is at least intriguing.  This'll be another competitive showcase match with an obvious outcome.

Justin's pick: Eric Young
Landon's pick: Eric Young. Tye needs to be number 10 in the Rumble or there’s gonna be riots.



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

WWE Royal Rumble Favorites: Who CAN Actually Win

by Dan Moore
@SouthieDanimal


January is Royal Rumble time. My favorite PPV to watch, the Rumble has up to 30 (and sometimes 40) men that enter the squared circle to possibly win a chance to be the WWE Champion. But let’s be realistic. Of the 30 (or sometimes 40) there’s only a handful that actually have a shot to pull off the victory. I mean, as funny as it would be to have watched Drew Carey win (or at least I assume that’s what Vince thought), most of these guys have no chance. Here now are the dudes that might have a shot to be the last man standing at the end of the night.


JB: I'll my adding my two cents to each section, just to annoy everyone.




NAMES BUT NEVER-WILLS

Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, The Miz, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, The New Day, Sheamus, Cesaro

These are all the mid tier of the WWE at this point. They’ll all put in a good showing, they’ll all get the crowd going, and they’ll all do something bad ass in the match. But none of them have a chance to win this thing.


JB: I would add Sami Zayn to this group.  He'll have a solid showing and give us all some fighting spirit, but he'll fall short.




LONG SHOTS

Kurt Angle ODDS 100-1
One of the greatest superstars ever. He could potentially end up being a surprise participant in the Rumble, but I put his odds at winning at ZERO.

AJ Styles ODDS 80-1
The man doing the best work week in, week out has to be put on this list. But I expect him to hold onto his Smackdown Title and move onto another feud for 'Mania.

John Cena ODDS 75-1
I mean, he’s always got a shot at it. Always.

Finn Balor ODDS 50-1
Due to come back from injury any time now, it’s not unprecedented to see a returning star win the Rumble in such fashion. However, I don’t see him pulling off the win here. Just doesn’t seem right from the storyline perspective.


JB: If Balor does indeed return on Sunday I'd put him in the group of Contenders, or at least the Possibles.  He'd be pulling a 2008 John Cena or a 2010 Edge.  And it would be awesome.  Also you gotta add Samoa Joe at probably 60-1 odds, as he's a very likely surprise addition.  He's all done with his NXT responsibilities and isn't even booked at Saturday's NXT TakeOver.  He'll be in this Rumble to kill a lotta people, but he won't win.  But it will set up a feud for him with someone, which is gonna be great.  #JoesGonnaKillYou


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Welcome to yet another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!


Today's entry is for me one of the great disappointments in cinematic history.  In 1994 Francis Ford Coppola followed up his critically and commercially successful Dracula adaptation with a production of Frankenstein, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, with Robert Deniro as the creature.  Like Dracula, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was an operatic, gritty, almost pulpy screen version of the novel that featured fairly graphic blood and gore, and appealed to the mid-90s culture of excess.  Unfortunately it wasn't nearly as well-received as its counterpart and flopped in the States, though it did pretty well overseas.

Being a huge fan of Coppola's Dracula, I was salivating at the prospect of a faithful Frankenstein adaptation, and for a solid five years I tried to convince myself that this film worked.  But it doesn't.

So what went wrong?  How did such a promising endeavor fail to connect with its audience?  Let's take a look....



The Awesome


Robert Deniro

In an odd bit of casting against type, Robert Deniro was tapped to play the reviled, misshapen creature, and even stranger, his character/performance is the most understated and relatable.  In a film where almost everyone has comically histrionic moments of distress and anguish, Deniro oddly provides an anchor, portraying the creature as a misunderstood brute who is pretty gentle by nature until pushed too far.  Despite having to act through heavy makeup, Deniro, like Boris Karloff in the 30s, was able to convey a wide range of emotions and make us care about him.

Looks like Leatherface almost



Helena Bonham Carter

She's asked to go a bit over-the-top occasionally (to go along with her absurdly large hairstyle), but overall Carter's performance as Victor's fiancee Elizabeth is tender and nuanced, making the romantic elements of the story ring true even as the rest veers into parody.  She comes across as a strong 90s cinematic love interest while staying true to the period setting.  

"The hair needs to be bigger on top!
It's gotta be a wall, a wall!"

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top Ten Things: Kurt Angle Matches

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

Today I'll be counting down the top ten matches of probably the greatest pure athlete ever to lace up a pair of pro wrestling boots, Kurt Freakin' Angle.  Angle made easily the most successful-ever transition from the amateur/Olympic mat to the WWF/E ring, picking up the mechanics and storytelling nuances faster than possibly anyone before him.  After only a few years in the business Angle became a company MVP, delivering dozens of Match of the Year candidates during his seven-year WWF/E run.  He then very unexpectedly signed with TNA and repeated his in-ring success there, proving himself a cornerstone for the better part of a decade.


Angle is now a free agent and has long expressed a desire to finish his career where it started, in WWE.  I for one would very much like to see this happen; Angle was in my estimation the Wrestler of the '00s and his storied career deserves to end on the highest note possible, on the biggest stage of them all.

For now though, let's take a look back at the best matches in Kurt Angle's remarkable career....



10. Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle - WWE WrestleMania XX - 3.14.04


The billed semi-main event for the 20th WrestleMania was Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle for the WWE Title.  This was an instant classic with fantastic performances by both men, and had one of the cleverest endings I can remember (Eddie loosened his boot so that when Angle put him in the anklelock it would slip off his foot.  Then when Angle charged at him, Eddie nailed a small package for the win.  A perfect way for the Eddie Guerrero character to steal a victory.)




9. Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe - TNA Turning Point - 12.10.06


Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle was easily the greatest (and most profitable) feud in TNA history, and this was their best match together.  Only weeks after his TNA debut, Angle won their shockingly brief first encounter at Genesis, but now it was time for Joe to even the score.  After 19 minutes of spectacular back-and-forth chain wrestling and submissions, Joe finally made Angle tap out to the Coquina Clutch, ending one of the best matches of 2006.




8. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit - WWE Unforgiven - 9.22.02


The two best technical wrestlers in the company (and probably the world) at this time engaged in a legendary on/off feud from 2001-2003, and while not the apex of said rivalry (Hint: there's more Angle vs. Benoit on this list), this match is near the top.  There was no major angle taking place between Angle and Benoit, this was just a battle for dominance.  They built on their 2001 match series and delivered a blistering 15-minute clinic with nary a low point.  Benoit eventually won with a quick rollup, and these two would go on to become reluctant tag partners in the quest for the new WWE Tag Team Titles.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Movie Review: La La Land

Well Mr. Drinan and I have finally both seen La La Land, the new musical that's getting all kinds of award buzz (along with a host of awards).  Did it live up to the hype?  Mike and I will break it down a little for ya.  ***SPOILERS AHEAD*** 



Justin: Alright let's get into this.  What did you think of La La Land?


Mike: Over. Rated. I don't think it's a bad movie, it's just okay. However, the amount of praise being heaped on this movie, I feel, is undeserved and overblown. It seems like Hollywood is falling over itself because this movie is about Hollywood and LA and plus, it's a musical! Hooray. Okay great, it's a musical, but it's nothing different than what's already been done. Everything about this film is drenched in nostalgia and tribute. I couldn't count how many old time movie posters were hanging on the wall during Emma Stone's number before the ladies went out on the town. Is LA really covered with lamp posts from the 1950s on every corner? Ryan Gosling's wardrobe was also old timey with the wing-tipped shoes. I thought this movie was going to be a modern take on the musical and all I got was a movie that had the 1940s and 50s written all over it.

I found the plot to be generic and boring. What was the plot? Two white people are having a tough time breaking into show business. **Yaaaawn**  No one needs a two-hour musical to realize that show business is tough to break into, so spare me the pity party. Also, the characters barely have any backstory and the script makes them uninteresting to the point that I don't care about them or feel invested in whatever happens to them. All movie long I was waiting for something to happen and nothing ever did. I was bored to tears over this movie.

Now, the music was the best part of this film for me even though I didn't think it was all that great. In fact, there were only two songs in the film that I felt lent anything to the story. The first was "City of Stars." I loved how it was the recurring song throughout the film. The other was Emma Stone's "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)." Other than those two, the film didn't benefit from any of the other musical numbers, they were just spectacle. The opening number made me feel as if I was watching an Old Navy commercial. Plus, there was a long stretch in the middle of the film that didn't have any musical numbers at all. I even wondered to myself, "Wait, is this still a musical?" before the music started up again. It was almost as if the film itself forgot it was a musical at that point.

This film was straight out of the "Old Hollywood" playbook. It was so formulaic and obvious. Again, okay movie but undeserving of all the praise it's getting.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

NJPW WrestleKingdom 11 Review: Greatest Main Event Ever?

Well this was a big deal, folks.  WrestleKingdom 11 was, as expected, a major hit for New Japan, proving unequivocally that they've recovered from the significant talent losses of 2016.  This was as good as PPV as we're likely to see all year.


The big news coming out of WrestleKingdom 11 is that the 2017 Match of the Year has already been decided.  Hell, this may have been the match of the decade.  I almost don't know how to describe it.  I can't remember being this blown away by a wrestling match since the Triple H-Shawn Michaels-Chris Benoit main event at WrestleMania XX.  If anything tops Okada vs. Omega in 2017 (or anytime soon) I can't wait to see it.  This was nearly 47 minutes of just about everything you could ever want out of a main event.  The match started methodically with both men showcasing their grappling skills.  Act 1 lasted roughly 15 minutes and then the match surged to another level, with Act 2 consisting of some of the most insane high spots I've seen since the Attitude Era.  Omega landed a moonsault from the top rope, over the railing to the floor, he took a back body drop over the top rope through a table on the floor, Okada took a Dragon Superplex that looked like it killed him, and so on.  And this was only the second act of the match!  After this the drama actually escalated as both guys tried to put each other away, Omega kicked out of the Rainmaker (joining a very exclusive club) and tried in vain several times to hit the One-Winged Angel before finally falling to the fourth Rainmaker of the match.  Again, this went 47 minutes and didn't feel a moment too long for me.  I've never seen anything like this.  Dave Meltzer awarded this match an unprecedented six stars, and in no way do I consider that hyperbole.  Okada vs. Omega was one of the most incredible wrestling matches I've ever seen in my thirty-plus years as a fan.


The main event was so good in fact that I feel like the rest of the card got unfairly overshadowed.  I had a hard time objectively rating the other nine matches after only one viewing, but I'll do my best....

The show opened with Tiger Mask W (aka Kota Ibushi) vs. Tiger the Dark (aka ACH) in a quick, lighthearted six-minute match.  Nowhere near what these two are capable of, but it wasn't supposed to be.  Ibushi needs to go back to being Ibushi ASAP.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Drinan's Top Ten Albums of 2016

by Michael Drinan
@mdrinan380

With the passing of such great musical icons as Prince, David Bowie, Merle Haggard and George Michael, it’s really helpful that this year was also filled with really great music to help ease the grief of losing those whose art meant so much to us. It only made sense to make a list of my Top Ten Albums of 2016.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This list was compiled and written before Run The Jewels dropped their album RTJ3 on Christmas Day. Since I have not given it more than 1 ½ listens thus far, out of fairness to the albums that made the list, I had to leave it off. However I’m confident if I had the opportunity to give it more listens, it would have definitely made it; from what I've heard so far, it’s incredible. Okay….on with the list!




10. Metallica - Hardwired...To Self Destruct


Ah yes, I love a good Metallia record and they really delivered on this one, to the point that a lot of Metalli-haters have doubled back and actually given the band a little applause. Impressive since the album really combines all eras of Metallica (even the dreaded 90s era *GASP*) quite seamlessly. Even though there are a few missteps on the album, the songs that are really good leave you with your jaw on the floor. “Moth Into Flame” is surely to be added to the long list of Metallica’s best-written songs and no one leaves “Spit Out the Bone” without screaming out of pure giddiness. These songs keep playing in my head and I rush to put this album on, almost as if I need a daily dose of it to get me through the work day. Also, being a Metallica fan since the “Black Album”, it’s sure nice to have an album to make the “I like ‘old’ Metallica” crowd shut the fuck up for a minute.




9. Kendrick Lamar - untitled. unmastered.


In 2015, Kendrick Lamar released his third studio album To Pimp A Butterfly, which was a stunning work of hip hop, a genre-defining work. Critics and fans praised the album for its infusion of funk, free jazz and hip hop while tackling a wide range of topics like racial disparity, poverty, police violence, and substance abuse. If there were anything more thrilling and fulfilling than that album, it was the performances. Instead of just performing the tracks from the album, Kendrick would perform unreleased songs, tracks that didn’t make the album for a variety of reasons. After a desperate plea from basketball superstar Lebron James to release these songs, Kendrick released this 8-track EP that featured the songs in unmastered, some even unfinished, form. The release showcased Kendrick’s songwriting process to the point where people, including myself, marveled that his throwaway songs are better than most of the finished albums released by other rappers today. The themes he tackles and the way he spins them to make them relevant to himself and relatable to the listener is incomparable. The EP shows how deft a lyricist he is and how well-thought his verses are. It proved that his nickname “King Kendrick” is well deserved.