Saturday, April 29, 2017

WWE Payback 2017 Preview & Predictions

with Dan Moore (@SouthieDanimal) and Landon Wayne (@LSWayne21)

Welcome to another round of WWE Predictions here at Enuffa.com!  This month we're trying a three-man predictions panel, as our colleague Landon Wayne joins Dan and myself for some prognostications.


Well folks, the first post-WrestleMania PPV of 2017 looks quite solid on paper, minus one match (it's pretty obvious which one).   It's always refreshing when 'Mania season is over and we can get back to focusing on the actual roster.  As for this Superstar Shakeup nonsense, I'm holding judgment for a little while to see how everything plays out.  But I do hate this new Jinder Mahal push, which reeks of the same out-of-nowhere booking as in 2002 when the Big Show jumped from RAW, where he was a jobber to the stars for months, to Smackdown, where suddenly he was so fearsome Paul Heyman dumped Brock Lesnar to manage him.  Most of us either watch or follow both shows, guys.  We're not morons.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand.  This show should be quite good overall, so let's get to it.

***So far this season I'm 9/12 to Dan's 5/12.  Landon's season will start now.***



Pre-Show Match: Enzo & Cass vs. Anderson & Gallows


I don't care much about either of these teams anymore - The Club got a half-assed, brief Title run that did them no favors, and Enzo & Cass's shtick got old months ago.  The match should be okay I guess.

Justin's pick: Enzo & Cass finally get a win I guess.
Dan's pick: I guess. I don't care. Both these teams annoy me at this point.
Landon's pick: Bullet Club, because Landon's policy is Ride till you die, and I will die with Gallows and Anderson




WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville vs. Austin Aries


These two had a pretty damn good opener at 'Mania and hopefully they'll get a comparable amount of time.  Neville has been a great custodian of the division and I'd probably keep the belt on him a while longer, but I dunno if WWE has the patience for that.

Justin's pick: I have a feeling AA takes the belt here
Dan's pick: AA FTW
Landon's pick: There's no one left for Neville to face, so Aries gets it here.




RAW Tag Team Championship: The Hardy Boyz vs. Sheamus & Cesaro


I like this pairing - the Hardyz got one of the biggest pops at 'Mania for their surprise return and Title win.  However I don't see them as long-term Champions this time around.  S&C really should never have dropped the belts when they did.  Plus Matt needs a reason to be "Broken."

Justin's pick: Cesaro & Sheamus recapture the gold
Dan's pick: Hardyz keepz the beltz
Landon's pick: We can do to hold off on the broken turn for a little longer.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Top Ten Things: Fawlty Towers Episodes

Welcome to yet another edition of Top Ten Things, where I pick my ten favorite of somethingorother....

Today what's on my mind is the classic British sitcom Fawlty Towers (which is streaming on Netflix as we speak), one of my all-time favorite comedy series.  Created by John Cleese and then-wife Connie Booth, Fawlty Towers takes place in a shoddy English hotel run by an eminently rude, impatient man and his rather domineering wife.  Supported by a clever, quick-thinking waitress and a bumbling Spanish waiter, the hotel and its staff get into various misadventures and hilarity ensues by the truckload.


Cleese's inspiration for Towers was a hotel called The Gleneagles, where he once stayed with the Monty Python cast, flabbergasted by the rudeness of its owner Donald Sinclair.  Cleese mined this character for all the comedic material he was worth, and in the process created an incredibly funny, highly influential series.  As with most British sitcoms each season consisted of only six episodes, and Cleese and Booth only made twelve total, with a four-year lag between seasons.  This means of course that only two episodes failed to make this list of ten - "The Builders" and "The Kipper and the Corpse."  Don't get me wrong, there's nary a bad episode of this show, but for one reason or another these two episodes rank at the bottom for me, mostly because they both veer too far into slapstick for my taste.

But here are the top ten in my estimation.....



10. Basil the Rat


The final episode of the series deals with the hotel being given a health code citation for numerous violations.  While the staff scrambles to rectify these issues and avoid closure, Manuel's pet rat gets loose, triggering a whole new set of problems.  This felt like a good way to end the show, as certain recurring jokes had reached the end of their shelf life.  But it was good for one last hurrah, culminating in the trademark zany Fawlty humor.

Favorite Moment: The health inspector reads a laundry list of health violations and Basil responds with "....Otherwise okay?"




9. The Anniversary


Probably the wackiest episode (Polly even mentions the Marx Brothers in this one), is #11, wherein Basil plans a surprise anniversary party for Sybil but pretends like he's forgotten their anniversary altogether.  This of course backfires as Sybil leaves in a huff just before their friends arrive, and Basil decides to pretend Sybil is upstairs sick in bed.  One of my favorite aspects of this episode one of Basil's friends, Roger, only half-heartedly going along with the ruse despite clearly knowing something's up, and repeatedly toying with Basil.  This episode is probably the most "sitcom-ish" but still has a ton of laughs.

Favorite Moment: Another of Basil's friends mentions she saw Sybil driving around in the town and Basil covers it up by claiming that's another woman who looks like Sybil.  When the real Sybil comes back, Basil pretends she's the fictitious lookalike and locks her in the kitchen while he says goodbye to his friends.




8. The Wedding Party


Episode three centers around a bride and groom, and her parents who all stay at the hotel but whom Basil doesn't realize are all one family.  He observes each of them (and Polly, who's a childhood friend of the bride's) going in and out of each other's rooms and assumes there are multiple inappropriate liasons going on.  This leads to him making a fool of himself at every turn, including twice when he and a drunk Manuel end up on the floor as the guests walk in.

Favorite Moment: The groom asks Basil if there's a drug store still open and Basil thinks he wants to buy condoms (in fact he needs batteries for his razor), responding "Let me tell you something - you disGUST me.  I know what people like you get up to, and I think it's disGUSTing."  This bit kills me every time.  


NFL Draft Preview 2017

Well, sports fans, tonight is it! After months of pointless games and a gigantic comeback in the championship, we finally get to the good stuff!

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOORING

Guys in suits sitting around desks and calling out names all night! HOLY FUCKING SHIT THIS IS ELECTRIFYING!!!

OHHHHHHHHH WHAT A RUSH!!!!!!!!!!!

Man oh man, when I think of awesome sporting events, nothing gets my dick dripping like dudes at a desk saying names and talking about how high their ceilings are. You want excitement? Teams might trade picks for future picks that will be new guys with different names! Holy Jumping Christ, I'm moist.

Here now is what I would do with the first 5 draft picks.

#1 CLEVELAND BROWNS: I'd look for the remote.
#2 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Change the channel to literally anything else.
#3 CHICAGO BEARS: Seriously, anything else. Big Bang Theory, Real Housewives shows, maybe even an E! special about some junkie, like Whitney Houston or some shit.
#4 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Oh holy shit, you're kidding me, I CAN'T FIND THE REMOTE!
#5 TENNESSEE TITANS: Jump in front of a bus. Off myself. Anything is better than this garbage. I don't understand how any moron can watch this repetitive tripe for hours and hours on end. And I LOVE sports. Now if you'll excuse me, baseball is on.

And this is only the 1st inning. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

We Are At War: WWF Unforgiven 1998


So Spring Stampede last week was, for the most part, pretty good. The undercard matches were competitive, and the nWo matches were overall tolerable. So many of the things we're led to believe about WCW remain true today. But how will the WWF product hold up?


Unforgiven, April 26th, 1998

We're coming off one of the most significant Wrestlemanias of all time, with Steve Austin firmly at the helm, Rock and HHH building up slowly with their factions on the undercard. We're in for what looks like a loaded card, including the infamous first ever Inferno match between Undertaker and Kane.

The commentary team is the now iconic pair of Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. This may come as a shock, but they're just as good as people remember them being. They had their flow down, and very seldom did they talk over each other, a problem that plagued the WCW commentary team last week.


Farooq, Ken Shamrock, and Steve Blackman vs The Nation (The Rock, D'Lo Brown, and Mark Henry) w/Kama Mustafa
Shamrock was unusually hot this night. It's amazing how of all six of these men, only two would go on to hold world titles in this company. The story that the Nation had betrayed Farooq translates well nineteen years later, and even if Ross wasn't driving the point home the psychology in the ring would tell you. The match started off really hot, but once we got to the heat that lasted 20 minutes in this 10 minute match, the crowd died a death. It seriously got worse until I was begging for the match to be over. Which came about 30 seconds after the hot tag, where Farooq pinned Rock.

Meltzer Rating: 1/2*
The match started very good, but then died a death as I said. Shame.



Triple H vs Owen Hart for the European Championship, Chyna in a Shark Cage
A week ago I said that AJ Styles was my favorite all-time wrestler. But for a long time, Owen Hart easily held that spot. He's still easily in my top 10, and is probably never leaving. But Race almighty, was he acting like a dork in this match, He seemed to be channeling every hokey 80s southern babyface. Maybe he was just trying to make himself laugh. The match was building up to being a good performance, before the bullshit happened.

So try and follow me, and remember I'm making none of this up.
Chyna, suspended in a cage 20 feet in the air, bends the cage bars and escapes. She proceeds to dangle from the cage, which gets lowered by Road Dogg. She then distracts about 6 people, so that X-Pac could clonk Owen in the head with a fire extinguisher, so Hunter could get the pin.

Got that? Don't care, moving on

Meltzer Rating: **3/4
It would have been good, bu then the shenanigans made it pointless.


The New Midnight Express w/Jim Cornette vs The Rock and Roll Express for the NWA Tag Team Championships
It was a traditional 80s tag team match, in the middle of the Monday Night Wars. t some point you could feel the crowd trying to care, but they really couldn't. I wanted to get myself excited for this match, but couldn't because of the dead crowd. Mechanically the match was fine, and there was some fun double team spots from the Midnight. But God bless all five men involved, but they were out here to die a death. Midnight won.

Meltzer Rating: *
Jim Cornette was out there and making it somewhat entertaining.


Sable vs. Luna Vachon, Evening Gown Match
What a fucking relic this match was. The fact that this got the second biggest reaction on the show is ridiculous. Sable's dress did a good job of not showing how big Sable's chest was. Seriously, you could kill a mini with those things. I don't know what else to say, there was tits abound.

Meltzer Rating: 1/2*


New Age Outlaws vs LOD 2000 w/Sunny for the WWF Tag Team Championships
Sunny is ridiculously hot. Hawk and Animal are getting on in age,but at this point they still look alright. Road Dogg did his singalongcoming out, and part of the crowd was going along with it. This was the Road Warriors trying to do a WWF tag match with heat and comebacks, and it's never worked in the past and didn't work here. Hawk got beat up forever, and only Jerry Lawler's commentary could save me. The match ended in a German Dusty finsih, completely wasting everyone's time.

Meltzer Rating: 3/4*
Tag team wrestling in the late 90s was dead as a door nail. It'll be another year and change before we get the E&C/Hardys revival.


I'm not sitting through a Jeff Jarrett Concert. Y'all can go fuck yourselves.



 Kane vs The Undertaker, Inferno Match
A match that turned out to be very good on camera, this was the first really entertaining match on the show. The second official match in the Goddamn Feud That'll Never End, it was a well paced Kaiju fight surrounded in fire for aesthetic.Eventually, the match spilled outside, and The Undertaker managed a spectacular dive over the top rope and the fire. The ending fell flat, seemingly almost an accident in story, which is a shame for a very good monster fight. It took forever for Tim White to call for the bell, as Kane ran with his arm on fire to the back.

Meltzer Rating: **3/4
This match has been on at least two DVD sets before, so it's real easy to find this match on accident. Would I go out of my way to see this match on the Network? Maybe not, but if you're here for the main event, maybe consider watching this one.


Steve Austin vs. Dude Love for the WWF Championship
Dude Love was always my sleeper favorite persona of Mick Foley. This is Austin's first big show title defense, and already he's fully into the McMahon feud that arguably helped win the War. Despite the silence for about half the roster, the crowd went wild for Austin. While not a technical spectacle, the fight was a very good story between these two men. They brawled in the ring, outside the ring, up the ramp, back down the ramp, and eventually back in the ring. Then, in 1998, we had our first instance of a Montreal Screwjob tease, as McMahon came out after promising catastrophe earlier. We didn't get a Screwjob, however, as Austin murdered Vince dead with a chair, Stunned Love, and counted his own three count.

Okay.

Meltzer Rating: ****
A good main event. The Austin character is fun to watch, despite the style of match not being my preference. But I can see the appeal, and in the end this was just the continuation of the story for next month.


They say you can forgive a bad undercard if there's a good main event. Well, despite a very good main event, and a fun Inferno match, the rest of this card just absolutely dragged the whole show down. This is the side that won the Monday Night War? This is the boom period that had millions of fans and thousands of PPV buys? It has to get better.

Right?

(All Meltzer Ratings taken form The May 4th, 1998 issue of the Wrestling Observer.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

NJPW Wrestling Dontaku and Friends, The Preview


I think Gedo's finally lost his crackers with this one.

While definitely viable with the depth of their roster, spreading seven title matches out over three events is going to make for a crazy week. It would be equally crazy for me to try and preview every individual event that has a title match on it. So I'm going to be cutting what I look at down to the matches that New Japan deems important. Namely, the matches they've chosen to showcase on their video packages that play before the Road To Wrestling Dontaku events. Let's get started.


Road To Dontaku, 4/27 (CHAOS vs Suzuki-Gun)

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship (Second Defense): Suzuki-Gun (Taichi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) vs. Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero and Baretta)

I'm not surprised that the Jr. Tag title match is on the Road To show. As hot as Takahashi has made the Jr. Heavyweight title lately, Taichi and Kanemaru have cooled the tag titles off. That's nothing personal, just that between schmozz finishes and Taichi being generally hated for all the wrong reasons, there's just no interest for the tag titles. Roppongi Vice has spent all the time since losing their belts trashing the champions, and a loss here would look bad on the former champs

Landon's Pick: RPG Vice. Normally, I'm not one to endorse short title reigns, but seriously Suzuki-Gun is death for these titles.
Justin's Pick: RPG needs to win the belts back.





 NEVER Openweight Championship (Fourth Defense): Hirooki Goto (c) vs Minoru Suzuki

This one should be fun. In what is Goto's toughest challenge for the NEVER Openweight Title yet, the champion goes against the baddest man in New Japan.This leads to an interesting crossroads in the life of the NEVER Openweight title itself. Either Goto defends the belt, and shuts every doubter of his reign down (and ties Masato Tanaka and Tomohiro Ishii for total defenses), or Minoru takes the belt to begin a reign with the title that could last till Wrestle Kingdom 13. This match certainly could shine as the main event of this show.

Landon's Pick: Goto defends. Suzuki shouldn't be going for the NEVER title anyway. But if Suzuki wins it it'll be an interesting time.
Justin's Pick: This should be brutal and awesome.  On one hand I agree Goto should retain and solidify himself as THE new NEVER Openweight guy.  But on the other hand Suzuki has yet to win a big match since returning.  Eh, maybe Suzuki wins the belt for a few months before dropping it back to Goto.



Top Ten Things: Mastodon Songs

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


With the recent release of Mastodon's seventh LP Emperor of Sand (a hella good record, my review of which is HERE) I thought I'd look back on their remarkable career and pick their top ten songs.  Every album is represented here except one - sadly nothing from their 2002 debut Remission made the cut for me.  In terms of standout tracks I found that Mastodon's more recent albums put more focus on individual song composition rather than presenting the album as a whole (understandable given that three of their earlier records were concept albums), so this list may seem skewed to their later output.  But feel free to discuss in the Comments section.  Here we go.....



10. Bladecatcher


This instrumental track from Blood Mountain is frenetic and bizarre, and captures perfectly the band's offbeat take on the metal genre.  From the start-stop intro to the blast-beat "verse" to the elastic "hook" guitar riffs, this song is a great introduction for anyone who needs a demonstration of how original and strange Mastodon is.




9. The Sparrow

This somber closer to The Hunter is probably the biggest departure yet from Mastodon's sludge-metal roots, featuring delicate arpeggiated guitars and only one harmonized vocal line that repeats throughout the song.  Inspired by a quote from the recently deceased wife of the band's accountant, the lyrics consist of a single phrase - "Pursue happiness with diligence."  On a stripped-down, song-oriented album like The Hunter, this ballad makes a fitting, poignant conclusion.




8. Octopus Has No Friends


Another standout from The Hunter (an album with numerous standout songs) is this unusual, upbeat tune featuring impossibly intricate guitar riffs and very simple lyrics literally exploring Brann Dailor's observation that whenever he sees an octopus at an aquarium, it's alone in the tank.  Pretty out-there thing to write a song about, but this is a fantastic track with some of Mastodon's most impressive syncopated playing.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Dan's Top 9: Movies That SHOULD Be Remade

by Dan Moore
@SouthieDanimal

DAN'S TOP

A little while ago, my esteemed colleague Justin Ballard wrote an article about unnecessary remakes. I agreed with all of 'em except Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I have no loyalty to the original and the remakes, prequels and sequels have been decent (albeit forgettable) horror movies. It got me to thinking though…what flicks are out there that need a new version? These aren’t all necessarily bad movies; just flicks I feel need an updating. Starting off here with a few sequels.




9. Beverly Hills Cop 3

The first two Cop flicks are two of the funniest Eddie Murphy movies ever made. They show Murphy at the very apex of his comedic powers. Both of them are eminently re-watchable. Then they laid this turd on our doorsteps. While the first two are filled with hilarious jokes and boobies, this one is a hodgepodge of boring set pieces and an unreal annoying Eddie Murphy performance. Need this remade with the true Axel Foley, cursing up a storm and shooting bad guys with his friends, Detectives Taggart & Rosewood.

George Lucas cameo’d in this, and even the maker of the
Star Wars prequels couldn’t believe how bad this was. 




8. Lethal Weapon 4

Filled with two of the most memorable cops ever put to screen, Riggs & Murtaugh became friends to all of us that have watched the original 3 over and over again. Incredible action scenes and a real sense of comradery between the two leads make Lethal Weapons 1,2 & 3 some of the best buddy cop movies ever made. And then part 4 showed up. With NOTHING resembling a cohesive script and chock full of waaaay too many characters, Lethal Weapon 4 was DOA. They shoulda went with a less-is-more approach like the original cause this movie SUCKS.





7. Battlefield Earth

When watching a movie with 10-foot dreadlocked aliens, I’m always hoping for veiled messages from a space cult delivered by an overacting John Travolta. This is an awful movie filled with all kinds of subliminal speak for L. Ron Hubbard’s Space Diary, er I mean, "Religion."  But at its very basic level is a decent sci-fi movie idea: Aliens took over earth, and hundreds of years later a human rebellion tries to take it back. Too bad it was all gummed up with the word of Xenu.

Yeah, this is all your favorite Hollywood stars' religious deity. Makes sense.



Friday, April 21, 2017

TNAce: The Essential AJ Styles Collection, Disc One


AJ Styles is probably my favorite, all-time favorite wrestler. Yes, more than Ishii, Silas Young, or even Harley Race. So getting the four disc Essential Collection of his best matches in TNA has always been on my radar. I know that TNA's beginnings were less than stellar...and some of the middle...and...and I mean 2012 was really good...But AJ Styles, even back in 2007 when I started watching TNA, had talent that rose above the schlock. So as I put in disc 1 of the set, a group of matches I've never seen before, I thought surely, SURELY, this applied throughout the earlier days.

Right?



June 19th, 2002
AJ Styles, Low Ki, and Jerry Lynn vs The Flying Elvises (Jorge Estrada, Jimmy Yang, and Sonny Siaki)
Ho boy...I guess this match is on here more for profiling purposes. It was the first official match on TNA's first show. Really, the only way I can describe it is thus;
Move.
Move Move.
Move Move Move Dive Move.
Dive Dive Dive.
Move.
There's no real reason to watch this match beyond historical reasons. Plus, the Elvises won.


June 26th, 2002
AJ Styles vs Psicosis vs. Low Ki vs. Jerry Lynn, Double elimination match for the X-Division Championship
This should have been the first match on the collection. There was constant movement and action, with a series of singles falls eventually boiling the match down to AJ Styles and Jerry Lynn within the first 10 minutes. It set AJ up as strong champion (spoilers, he wins), but also makes Jerry Lynn look really good by dominating through much of the match. It's clear to anyone that young Styles as a lot of potential that they could tap into. Unfortunately, the X-Division would go on to be treated like the undercard of WCW's day, and many of the fantastic wrestlers of the division would never get a chance in the main event. But, this isn't the place for that bitter debate.

Lynn vs. Styles was a very good match-up.

Top Ten Things: "Acquired Taste" Films

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

Today I'll be talking about films that, at least for me, have required numerous viewings to fully appreciate and enjoy; films that, like the best music, become better with familiarity.  Sometimes a single watch doesn't allow you to process every nuance of the script or performances, or fully take in the visual composition at work, or nail down the subtext of what the director was trying to say.  And sometimes appreciation of a film just comes to you with age.  Something I wasn't interested in or couldn't relate to in my teens or 20s might be fascinating to me in my 30s or 40s.

I'm reminded of a Stanley Kubrick quote: The idea that a movie should be seen only once is an extension of our traditional conception of film as an ephemeral entertainment rather than as a visual work of art.

You said it Stanley.  Here are ten such films.....




1. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)


I first watched Bride of Frankenstein in college and my original assessment was that it strayed so far from the book and was so unabashedly weird that I hated it.  I'd become such a fan of the novel and Mary Shelley's complex depiction of the creature that the Universal film versions frustrated me to no end.  But upon later viewings I developed an appreciation for the film's uncompromisingly bizarre tone and for how ballsy its anti-religious and sexual undertones were for 1935.  Despite the simplicity of his speech in this film Karloff's monster is completely sympathetic and by this point in the story he's become the clear protagonist moreso than Dr. Frankenstein.  The performances by Ernest Thesinger as the sinister, rather flamboyant Dr. Pretorious, and Elsa Lanchester as The Bride are also iconic in the pantheon of classic monster films.  The Bride's "birth" is obviously the most film's famous scene; that this was such a memorable character is even more amazing considering how brief her appearance is.  What really sticks out about Bride after multiple viewings though are the Expressionist visuals; the use of light and shadow, the multi-plane shot composition, the use of wide-angle lenses.  What began for me as a goofy, over-the-top sequel has become my favorite of the Universal Monster films.





2. Citizen Kane (1941)


Kane is another film I first watched in college.  My English Literature class covered this film for some reason, and our professor had us watch parts of it to illustrate the artistry of some of the visuals and the narrative style.  What I saw piqued my interest enough to buy the VHS tape and I sat down and watched the whole thing.  And while I did appreciate the visuals to a certain extent I'd be lying if I said the story jumped out at 18-year-old Justin.  For a teenager raised largely on action films this rise-and-fall tale about a newspaper tycoon wasn't exactly the most exciting thing I'd ever seen.  But the imagery kept me enough of a fan that I rewatched it several times, and much later as an adult who'd actually tasted life, my appreciation of the story grew considerably.  One day about five years ago I decided to pop in the DVD after not having viewed the film in several years, and suddenly it all clicked for me.  The shot composition, the performances, the circular story structure, it was all ingenious, game-changing stuff.  Citizen Kane is now one of my all-time favorite films, and it only took me about two decades to realize it.




Thursday, April 20, 2017

Toys That Pissed Us Off: Playsets

Welcome to a new feature here at Enuffa.com!   Today our very own Dan Moore and I will discuss some of the toy playsets from our respective youts (What is a yout?) that really burned our asses for one reason or another.

Playsets in theory were all kinds of awesome.  You had your action figures and were all set to reenact some awesome movie sequence or what have you, but you needed a setting for the excitement to take place in.  You could either use your imagination and pretend the top of your dresser was the Death Star, or you could fashion something out of cardboard boxes, or you could be like the cool kids and get the officially licensed playset specifically designed to go with your toys.  And when it was good, it was AWESOME.  The G.I. Joe line for example boasted nary a bad playset.  From the Defiant shuttle to the Cobra Terror Drome, to the massive 7.5-foot USS Flagg, those playsets set the standard for action figure accessories.  Sadly not all playsets were so well-thought out.  Here are ten such examples, in no particular order.

We'll start with one of the most beloved toy franchises, the original Kenner Star Wars line.




1. Jabba's Throne Room


Justin: Let's get one thing out of the way - the Jabba figure itself was spectacular.  It was easily one of the best Star Wars toys Kenner ever produced, with incredible detail, movable arms and a tail that twitched when you turned Jabba's head.  This toy looked fantastic.  His throne though was a different story.  The detail looked good, and it included a trap door into which Jabba could send his victims to be eaten by the Rancor.  But there was one or two problems.  First off, the trap door was the surface the Jabba toy sat on.  So you'd have to remove Jabba to access it.  Second, the door opened OUTWARD.  The hell kinda trap door opens up like that?  The victim would be catapulted across the room!  Third, the area under the trap door was so shallow your Luke figure could only be placed there in a horizontal position.  So there was no reenacting the Rancor scene with this stupid toy.

Dan: I wanted to LOVE this fucking playset. My cousin Jefferey told me all about it before I got it. How cool Jabba was. How awesome all the accessories were. And that it had a working pit. I was fucking PSYCHED. I had one of those Inhumanoid giant toys who could double for the Rancor so I was ready to play.

This giant fellow in the middle?  Oh yeah, Rancor on 'roids!

And then I got the dumpster fart of a playset. Realizing that my dreams of having Luke get chased around under Jabba were crushed, I quickly dispatched with the playset itself and recreated one on my own out of a plain cardboard box, like a true poor person.






2. Ewok Village


Justin: To be fair, this was a pretty impressive playset for its time.  A big walkway area with a fire pit, over which you could pretend the Ewoks were roasting a person, a tree elevator, and a net for capturing unwitting Rebels underneath.  But compared to the setting in the film this was really skimpy.  Only one place to roast people?  A net underneath the village instead of off in the woods nearby?  An elevator that only holds like two people at a time?  Not to mention very little actually happened in the Ewok village in the movie - all the Endor action took place in the open woods.

Dan: I actually loved this playset a lot. But yes, my initial bitching about it was that there was no room to cook up both a Skywalker AND a Solo. I was PISSED. I refashioned the useless elevator into another roasting pit and I was happy about that. My parents were not happy, however, years later when they bought the Sherwood Forest playset from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and realized it’s the SAME FUCKING TOY.



Also, the Friar Tuck toy was a Pig Guard from Jabba’s palace with a new head. Blew my mind



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

We Are At War: WCW Spring Stampede 1998


19 Years ago, the Monday Night Wars raged on. I was 4 years old when the WWF broke the ratings dominance WCW, 7 when WCW folded forever. The Attitude Era is remembered as such a mythical time, of tremendous TV and great PPVs. Revisionist history tells us that WCW was a sinking ship from around the split of the nWo and before, and that the WWF started their almighty comeback with Austin's title reign that started at Wrestlemania 14.

Conveniently, both of these happened in the spring of 1998, where I'm gonna pick up in the timeline. I'm not going to be reviewing the weekly Raw and Nitro shows, because I seriously don't have the time or patience for that shit. Instead, I'm going to pick up their slack, and cover the PPVs as they come down the pike. There's gonna be good, there's gonna be bad. May Macho Man have mercy on my soul.

Spring Stampede, April 19th 1998
 6 Days ago, WWF beat WCW in the ratings war for the first time in 84 weeks. 20 minute Hogan promos dominate the program's pime time, and an undercard struggle for attention by putting on great matches that go ignored by the people in power. That is the stage set for April in 1998.
The opening package focused entirely on the nWo, only a passing mention of Sting, the World Champion. The Wolfpac split is coming soon, and Nash and Hogan's interactions in the video say as much. There's a smattering of nWo shirts in the crowd, like Bullet Club shirts are in crowds today.

Schiavone, Tenay and Heenan are our commentary booth. They're generally unoffensive, and I generally like all three of them. Heenan does a good job on color, with Mike and Tony doing good play by play.


Goldberg vs. Saturn
Goldberg was ridiculously popular. The crowd went wild when his music came on. He was labeled as 73-0, and the Number One contender for the United States Title. Almost immediately, he almost kills Saturn with a Pumphandle Fallaway. He certainly had an explosive style that was entertaining as hell. Not to take away from Perry Saturn, who had a very unique and fun to watch style. Goldberg threw Saturn around like a cruiserweight, the rest of the Flock interfered. Goldberg murdered Kidman with a spear. Golberg stood through the Rings of Saturn, and hit a Jackhammer from a Fireman's Carry. Goldberg was stupid strong, and stupid awesome. A really fun opener.

Meltzer's Rating:*1/2
It was short, and smokey, but it was fun regardless.

Monday, April 17, 2017

WWE vs. NJPW Supercard III

Welcome to the 3rd Annual WWE vs. NJPW Supercard, here at Enuffa.com!  In 2015 I came up with the bright idea to imagine what would happen if the two biggest wrestling companies in the world went head-to-head (Read the 2015 one HERE).  By 2016 both rosters had undergone massive changes so I revisited the topic and made it a yearly thing (Read that one HERE).  So here's the third edition - WWE currently sports the most stacked roster it's had in years, while NJPW took a difficult transition period and managed to flourish, filling its lineup holes with a host of new and growing stars, and their product is as strong as ever.  But which roster looks better now?  I've booked eleven fantasy matchups and given my picks for who I'd pick to win.  



Let's get to the matchups!



Neville vs. Hiromu Takahashi


After a terribly uneventful year on the main roster as a one-dimensional babyface, Neville suffered a leg injury in early 2016 that put him on the shelf for 8 months.  But it was a blessing in disguise; the time away allowed him to overhaul his character and he returned as a bitter heel with his sights set on destroying the new Cruiserweight division.  Neville won the CW Title in short order and has been a fantastic centerpiece ever since.

The former Kamaitachi returned to New Japan in 2016 after a three-year absence, with a new villainous persona aligned with the roguish Los Ingobernables stable.  His first act was to challenge the Jr. Heavyweight Champion Kushida to a match at WrestleKingdom 11, where he captured the title in a blazing 16-minute contest.  Takahashi has already carried himself like a major star and been a huge asset to the wildly popular stable.

This match would be fast and furious, with stunning aerial moves and lightning-fast counterwrestling.  Neither man would be afraid of taking shortcuts, but in the end Takahashi's pals on the outside would be a difference-maker.  Look for Takahashi to take the match in 9 minutes after a Time Bomb.

Winner: Hiromu Takahashi





Dean Ambrose vs. Katsuyori Shibata


Ambrose has had a pretty successful year, winning Money in the Bank and cashing in the briefcase for a WWE Title win the same night, and later capturing the Intercontinental Title.  While not perceived at quite the same level as his two former Shield-mates, Ambrose has nonetheless become a reliably prominent star and gotten plenty of the company's focus.

Shibata spent most of 2016 as the centerpiece of the NEVER Openweight division, delivering multiple strong style classics before finally dropping the belt to his old friend Hirooki Goto at WrestleKingdom 11.  Since then he's moved up the card, winning the New Japan Cup and challenging Okada for the IWGP Championship in an epic war.  Shibata's future is up in the air after the Okada match, but we're all hoping he's able to get back in the ring (minus the shoot headbutts of course).

This would be an insane war of attrition, with both men quick to engage in a slugfest and neither wanting to back down an inch.  Ambrose would be very comfortable taking the fight to the floor, while Shibata would prefer a straight-up in-ring battle.  At the 12-minute mark Ambrose would go for Dirty Deeds, but Shibata would push him into the ropes, Ambrose would go for a pendulum clothesline only to walk into a Shibata headbutt to the chest, followed by a choke and the PK for the win.

Winner: Katsuyori Shibata





Kevin Owens vs. Hirooki Goto


Kevin Owens had a tremendous 2016/early 2017, rekindling his blistering feud with Sami Zayn before capturing the new Universal Championship and forging an uncomfortably close friendship with Chris Jericho.  Owens was the main focus of RAW after the new brand split, until he turned on Jericho and lost the Universal Title to Goldberg.  But he rebounded at WrestleMania 33 by defeating Jericho for the US Title.  Owens remains one of the best heels in the company and isn't afraid to make the fans hate him.

Goto once again had an up-and-down year in 2016, falling just short of the IWGP Title AND the G1 Climax tournament, but began 2017 by dethroning his old friend Shibata for the NEVER Openweight Title.  Thus far his run has been quite dominant and he continues to deliver the goods between the ropes.

This match would be rugged and intense, with Goto's no-nonsense style clashing with Owens' surprising agility.  The striking would be brutal and I could see this devolving into dueling forearms and headbutts to the chest.  Owens would be quick to try to find shortcuts, while Goto would be full-steam ahead.  Owens would escape the Shouten-kai and counter the GTR by turning over, shoving Goto into the ropes and hitting a lightning-quick Pop-up Powerbomb for the win at 13 minutes.

Winner: Kevin Owens


Top Ten Things: Unnecessary Movie Remakes

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things!  I am your host, Justin, and I'll be bitching about something most would consider trivial.  But ya know, that's my thing.  So stick it.

Today I'll be talking about an issue that's plagued Hollywood for many years - particularly this century - the unnecessary remake.  Remakes are nothing new; the early decades of cinema saw countless movies done over, to take advantage of ever-improving technology and greater budget availability (just like now).  Plus it was a way for the studios to make easy money with a known title and not have to come up with original ideas (just like now).  Sadly these remakes often failed to live up to the artistry and craftsmanship of the original versions (just like now) and many of them fell by the wayside.  In the last fifteen years or so it seems just about every film churned out is either a remake, a sequel, a reboot, a prequel, a requel, a threequel, a squeakuel (okay that one just applies to the Chipmunks), and any new ideas get squeezed out of the mix except at Oscar season.  Some of the remakes in recent years have been downright baffling, in many cases at the expense of original films that absolutely got it right the first time.  So let's take a look at some of those....



10. The Karate Kid


Directed by John G. Avildsen of Rocky fame, The Karate Kid tells a similar story of an unlikely underdog's one chance at redemption.  Danny Larusso is the new kid in a California suburban school, who immediately runs afoul of some local bullies who also happen to be martial arts students.  After taking a few beatings from these kids, Danny enlists the help of the superintendent of his apartment building, an old Okinawan by the name of Mr. Miyagi.  The film follows Danny's unorthodox training and builds to the karate competition where Danny overcomes the odds and wins the whole thing.  This was a truly inspirational 80s film that has aged fairly well despite some cheesy moments and its similarity to Rocky.  But in 2010 Will Smith co-produced an "update" starring his son Jaden as the titular "Kid" and Jackie Chan as the Miyagi character.  While it got mostly positive reviews, it just struck me as cheap exploitation of a known brand (Lots of that going on in Hollywood), and I can't imagine anyone deeming it the definitive version, nor do I recall anyone clamoring to see it remade.  Makes one wonder when an ill-advised Rocky remake will see the light of day.




9. Psycho


Speaking of remakes no one asked for, in 1998 Gus Van Sant released his homage/shot-for-shot recreation of Alfred Hitchcock's iconic thriller.  This version would be in color, thus robbing the film of the original's distinctive look, and aside from a few shots now made possible by updated technology (the opening crane shot into the hotel room window for example), Van Sant offered literally nothing new.  He used the original shooting script and didn't make any changes to the story, nor did he try to make it his own.  This was nothing more than a vanity project, akin to a contemporary band covering a classic old song note-for-note, resulting in a banal sound-alike.  This doesn't even cover the senselessly inappropriate casting of Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates in a performance that can't hold a candle to Anthony Perkins' original.  If I ever said "Let's watch Psycho" and the person I was hangin' out with popped in the 1998 version I'd punch them square in the face.




8. Texas Chainsaw Massacre


Another classic horror movie pillaged by new millennium Hollywood, TCM broke new ground in 1974 as a realistic, gritty slasher film, before such a thing even existed.  Despite hardly showing any explicit violence, the film succeeded in being a psychologically disturbing, visceral experience that gave birth to the legendary character of Leatherface.  After several terrible sequels the franchise got a reboot in 2003 when Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes company tackled the material, creating a slickly overproduced, run-of-the-mill gorefest with no sense of realism.  This went against the spirit of the original, which relied on mood and guerrilla-style filmmaking to plunge the viewer into palpable terror.  The '03 version was simply another geek show in an already overfarmed genre, and it seemed Platinum Dunes was transparently cashing in on the name recognition.  Worse, it prompted remakes of every popular slasher movie from the 70s and 80s.  Which brings us to....




7. A Nightmare on Elm Street


Ugh.  In 2010 Platinum Dunes, having churned out remakes of TCM, Halloween and Friday the 13th, finally undertook the most stylish of the 80s slasher franchises, A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Things actually got off to a promising start when the always-creepy Jackie Earl Haley was cast as Freddy Krueger.  And, well, that's it.  Everything else about this remake stunk.  From the paint-by-numbers look of the film to the overuse of CG animation to the unimaginative dream sequences, to the explicitly revealed "Freddy is a child molester" twist, this film was devoid of the fun and ingenuity of the original.  It was so poorly received the studio abandoned the planned sequel and left us only with this disposable retread.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Awesomely Shitty Movies: The Running Man

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

Today we'll dissect and discuss what is possibly The Mother of Awesomely Shitty Movies (or at least a well-respected Aunt), The Running Man!  Based to the loosest possible degree on the novel by Richard Bachman (or Stephen King as he's known to everyone), The Running Man tells the story of a dystopian future where the global economy has collapsed and the country is a police-state.  The masses are controlled by a military-industrial complex that keeps them placated with violent television and a steady stream of disinformation.  The most popular TV show is called The Running Man, where convicted felons are hunted down by cartoonish gladiator-types called Stalkers.  The host/creator of the show is the slimy but immensely charismatic Damon Killian, who has become a beloved cultural icon.

The Running Man (1987)


The protagonist of the film, Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger), is a former SWAT cop who after refusing to kill dozens of food rioters, is framed for their deaths and wrongfully imprisoned.  He and two fellow prisoners (members of an underground resistance whose mission is to expose the corrupt establishment and restore democracy) escape, only to end up as Running Man contestants.

What ensues is a fantastically awful amalgam of pro wrestling and numerous side-scrolling video games, as the Runners have to evade a series of Stalkers in order to get to the next stage.

This film is absolute tripe, but holy lord it's entertaining.  And here's why....



The Awesome

The Backdrop

This movie creates a richly detailed little universe for our characters to inhabit.  From the fake TV shows and commercials, to the neat technological advances, to the bit characters, the filmmakers have done a fine job of establishing the environment and making this seem like a real world that could actually exist.  To a certain extent it reminds me of the dystopia of Robocop.  There are some tangible aspects of this universe that make the story somewhat believable.

Reminds me a little of Blade Runner.  Just a little.



Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Ultimate Dream WrestleMania, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our Ultimate Dream WrestleMania!  Night 1 has already been heralded as an all-time classic PPV (I believe Dave Meltzer gave both Flair vs. Bryan and Savage vs. Punk five stars), and we're only halfway through the festivities.  Strap yourselves in and enjoy the second half!




NIGHT 2


Edge & Christian vs. The Midnight Express


We open with a blazing tag team matchup, as Jim Cornette's legendary Midnight Express takes on the team that "reeks of awesomeness."  This is your classic seesaw matchup, as neither team is able to maintain an advantage for very long.  The tandem offense is plentiful and dizzying, and the referee has trouble keeping just two men in at a time.  Halfway through, the Midnights exploit a distraction allowing Cornette to wallop Christian with his tennis racket, and they take control.  After several minutes of abuse, Christian tags Edge and all hell breaks loose, with all four men in the ring at once.  At the fourteen-minute mark the Midnights set Christian up for the Veg-O-Matic, but Edge pushes Bobby Eaton off the top rope and nails the Implant DDT on Stan Lane for the win.




Eddie Guerrero vs. Owen Hart


Two of the most beloved heels in wrestling history face off next, in a bout likely to be rife with cheating.  Hair-pulling, tights-hooking, rope-holding, it's all there.  Eddie sets a fast pace early on but Owen eventually slows it down to gain an advantage.  After eleven minutes Owen accidentally knocks down the official, Eddie grabs a chair and tosses it to Owen, and feigns being hit.  The referee questions Owen about using the chair and Eddie rolls him up for a close two-count.  Owen kicks out and snares an airtight small package for the three.





Triple H vs. Killer Kowalski


It's Mentor vs. Student as the monstrous Killer Kowalski faces his greatest protege, Triple H.  This match would be a contrast of styles as Kowalski tries to brawl while Hunter isolates a leg to negate his size disadvantage.  In the closing minutes Kowalski catches Hunter with the dreaded claw hold and nearly gets a submission before Hunter lurches for the ropes.  The referee pushes Kowalski away but he charges at Hunter, who catches him with a Harley Race high knee, followed by the Pedigree for the win at 8:40.