Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Music Review: Queens of the Stone Age - Villains


Four years after their (in my estimation) masterpiece ...Like Clockwork, quirky alt-rock quintet Queens of the Stone Age is back with Villains, their devilishly mischievous take on radio dance-rock.  Produced by Mark Ronson (Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga), Villains boasts a rather whimsical, light-on-its-feet sound with touches of David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, and plenty of 70s-style groove.

The album's opening track "Feet Don't Fail Me" sets the tone with an almost disco beat and a dirty guitar riff, as frontman Joshua Homme croons in no-fucks-given fashion about the simple, urgent need to put on some music and dance.  This track gets the album moving and serves as a mission statement about the band's new approach; there's plenty of Berlin-era Bowie influence on display here, along with fuzzy pre-amped guitars.

Next up is the album's first single, the insistently hooky "The Way You Used to Do," a playful shuffle groover with probably the most memorable riff on the album.  Think blues meets glam, as Homme intones an "us vs. the world" message to an unnamed lover.

The album settles into more familiar QOTSA territory on the more measured, sinister rocker "Domesticated Animals" (which would feel right at home on Rated R) and the melancholy almost-love song "Fortress," possibly my favorite on the record.  Both songs feature those trademark Homme guitar melodies that add texture and weight to the tracks.  "Fortress" deals with the protective walls we all put up, and how we handle ourselves when they give way.

Another standout is the quasi-epic "Un-Reborn Again," which starts out mellow and builts to a spectacular refrain where the band drops out and an orchestra springs up in its place, showing once again Homme's gift for complex, multi-layered arrangements.

The second single and eighth album track, "The Evil Has Landed" features a boxy pentatonic main riff and a sparsely constructed verse section with lyrics about defiantly enjoying life, consequences be damned.  In the final two minutes the song's start-stop feel gives way to a slower, more driving groove with a repeated lyric, "Here we come, get outta the way," hammering home the nihilistic message of the track.

The closing song "Villains of Circumstance" has a darker, more somber tone that brings to mind "I Appear Missing" from the last album, with a gentle triplet feel and introspective lyric.  Lines like "I know that life moves on, that's what scares me so," seem to suggest a come-down moment after the album's previously care-free tone.

Overall Villains is another sardonically wicked QOTSA album with some memorable tunes, plenty of groove, and Homme's unique swagger.  I consider it a step down from ...Like Clockwork, but considering how much I like that album (it was my favorite album of 2013), that was inevitable.  Still, there's plenty to sink your teeth into on this record and its 48-minute running time flies by.  Homme & co. set out to make a fun, toe-tapping rock n' roll album and they've done that, while still stamping the music with their distinctively eccentric panache.

I give the album ***1/2 out of *****.





Tuesday, August 29, 2017

John Cena vs. Roman Reigns.....at No Mercy???

Well we're finally getting the monumental first-time clash between WWE's former posterboy John Cena, and Vince McMahon's handpicked replacement (whom no one else likes in that spot) Roman Reigns.  Make no mistake, this match is a big deal.  So big in fact, that a main event of this magnitude could only happen.....AT NO MERCY!!!  Wait, what??  Seriously?  They're giving away the biggest current first-time match in this company at a B-PPV in September?  The fuck sense does that make?  Wouldn't you wanna save this for 'Mania 34, or at least Survivor Series?


I legit don't understand this company anymore.  Between Cena-Reigns and Lesnar-Strowman, No Mercy is shaping up to be a stacked card.  But why are they putting so many eggs in this rather unimportant basket?  We haven't had a truly gigantic WrestleMania main event since the first Rock vs. Cena match.  I should think Cena vs. Reigns (and Brock vs. Braun) are the two best RAW main events for April 8th.  But I guess Vince reeeeeally wants Brock vs. Roman II to headline the big show in New Orleans.  Yawn.  Wouldn't want to excite us too much at the end of a seven-hour PPV, would ya?  The audience might actually react to the main event of the year's biggest show.  Can't have that.

All that aside, the Cena-Reigns promo last night was quite noteworthy for the most part.  Both guys took some nice digs at each other that veered into shoot territory, and Roman Reigns seemingly got to inject a little of his own personality into a promo for the first time.  Reigns called Cena out for being a part-timer who only shows up when WWE pays him enough (dayamn!), while Cena called out Reigns for being a corporate creation who still hasn't proved he belongs there ("It took you five years to cut a halfway decent promo").  Also, Reigns is clearly playing the heel in this feud.  Cena's position is 100% correct, while Reigns' is based on a skewed perception of things.  One of my favorite lines from Cena was "I do this part-time better than you can ever do it full-time."  Oh snap, Johnny!

What I didn't like about this promo though were the gratuitous references to backstage politics.  Granted, plenty of promos have drudged up that material before.  But where CM Punk's "pipe bomb" promo for example played within the context of "I'm the best wrestler in this company but I don't get the recognition I deserve, I don't get to be on the posters or mugs, etc.," Reigns talked about Cena "holding back younger talent" and "burying people," and Cena talked about using the US Title to "introduce new superstars" like Kevin Owens (accurate) and AJ Styles (Cena lost the US Title long before AJ showed up).  Within the confines of this fictional wrestling world, the idea of a main event guy holding back younger talent or giving new guys opportunities doesn't make sense.  The main event guy is the main event guy because he wins a lot of matches.  Calling attention to the company pushing someone based on anything else is counterproductive to the illusion that these wrestling matches are genuine competitions.  That would be like a supporting character on The Walking Dead calling out Rick because he doesn't get the screen time Rick does.  "You're only the main character on this show because the writers like you the best!"  It doesn't work.  Cena then pointed out that he hasn't main evented a WrestleMania in five years and that he opened the show at SummerSlam.  I mean, fair enough, but main eventing WrestleMania is supposed to be something that is earned based on winning matches, no?  WWE needs to knock it off with this fourth-wall shit.

In other news, Alexa Bliss won back the Women's Title already.  Sooo Sasha Banks has now held that belt four times, for a total of 82 days.  These unnecessary title changes on both shows are making me nuts.  What is this, the Russo era?  When did the number of title reigns become more important than the length?  I forget who said it years ago but some announcer was talking about Ric Flair (I think) being the NWA Champion six times and the line was "He's won it six times?  That means he's lost it five."  Winning a title a buncha times isn't nearly as impressive an accomplishment as holding onto it.  Cool it with the padded championship records, will ya?

Anyway, like I said, No Mercy is gonna be a big PPV.  They've already got a huge double main event and we still presumably have the Rollins/Ambrose vs. Cesaro/Sheamus rematch, the Balor-Wyatt rematch, and something for Samoa Joe to do.  I just don't like that they're rushing this Cena vs. Reigns thing.  Reminds me of 2008 when they needed a second main event for SummerSlam and they hotshotted Cena vs. Batista instead of saving it for WrestleMania 25, which so desperately could've used a better main event.  You can only do a big first-time match once.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Game Of Thrones Season 7, Episode 7: The Dragon And The Wolf

by Dan Moore 


AND THE WALL COMES CRUMBLING DOWN!!!  


As predicted months ago in this very column, The Wall went bye bye.

Told ya. 


The White walkers started their slow march south by destroying the last line of defense in the north. Now, the Great War is upon us because of an ice dragon, bitches.


BAD ASS 


So much happened in this episode, but this was the big one. Now the walkers have a clear path to the south. They can destroy all the living & add them to their ever expanding army. They're quite efficient. The fact that the dragon could take down the wall so quickly was a bit of a stretch but the writers needed a way for the whites to get going down south, so there it is. As it is, I thought the sequence was awesome looking & the music really amped up the spectacle. 

The happenings in King's Landing mashed together just about every surviving major character left. We had the Dragonstone crew trying to convince the Incest OG's to band together and fight the cold dead people. And Cersei agrees (because they throw a zombie right in her fucking eyeholes), but not before we get a very tense scene between her & Tyrion. It was great seeing her viciousness come out on the brother she truly hates. It's been so long since these two characters have interacted I forgot how good they are together. Cersei even threatens Tyrion with her mutant Mountain man, but it turns out to be a bluff. 


Have you met Cersei's bodyguard, Super Shredder? 

Top Ten Things: Film Directors

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

Today I'll be discussing my all-time favorite filmmakers.  As a cinefile I've spent years seeking out quality films made by gifted directors, and there have been more than a few whose careers I've followed very closely, at least for a while.  Some directors fell off my radar after a downturn in quality (Rob Reiner anyone?), but in each of the below cases I actively seek out films by these directors.  In some cases they are essential viewing for me.

Here now is the list....




10. Paul Thomas Anderson


One of Hollywood's quirkiest, most adventurous directors, Anderson has made a career of creating non-traditional films centered around flawed protagonists.  He often wears his cinematic influences on his sleeve, but always injects his own style and sensibilities into every picture.  His noirish debut Hard Eight garnered positive reviews, but it was his sophomore effort which brought him to my attention.  Boogie Nights chronicles the rise and fall of adult film star Dirk Diggler, set against the messy transition from the artsy smut of the 70s to the more utilitarian, VHS-driven industry of the 80s.  Anderson created such a fully realized universe and cast of characters in this movie I couldn't help being totally immersed, and Boogie Nights remains one of my all-time favorite films.  He followed it up with the uneven but superbly acted Magnolia, the Kubrick-esque opus There Will Be Blood, and the puzzling but never dull The Master.  Even in light of his two (in my opinion) misfires Punch-Drunk Love and Inherent Vice, Anderson has enjoyed a stellar career thus far, directing two masterpieces and three other uniquely admirable efforts.

Top Three Films: Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, The Master





9. David Fincher


Perhaps no other director seized my fascination so early on in his career as David Fincher.  His debut film Alien 3 (which he later disowned) disappointed me severely, but there was still something about his visual style that struck me.  His ability to play with light and darkness lent Alien 3 a richness that its script sorely lacked.  He brought that sense of intensely tangible dread to the forefront in his second film, the overwhelmingly bleak Se7en (another one of my all-time favorites), and again in his Hitchcockian thriller The Game.  But it will probably always be Fight Club that audiences most closely associate with Fincher.  This mindfuck of a movie had such a profound impact on our cinematic lexicon, and along with The Sixth Sense, made plot twists a must-have in any thriller for several years.  Much of Fincher's recent work has been a little more conventional (but often still excellent), from the police procedural Zodiac, to the Gump-esque Benjamin Button, to the darkly droll The Social Network.  His two most recent films (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl) were both based on bestsellers, with mixed box office results, but they cemented Fincher as a visually gifted event filmmaker.

Top Three Films: Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network





8. F.W. Murnau


One of cinema's earliest visionaries, Murnau created some of the most optically stunning images ever photographed for a film.  At a time when most moving pictures featured static, flat camera angles, Murnau brought expressionist atmosphere and movement (In The Last Laugh for example he used a swing and a wheelchair to create motion).  He also made use of deliberately fantastical special effects to lend his films a moody, dreamlike quality.  Consider the opening passages in his horrific epic Faust, which depicts a struggle between God and Satan.  These effects don't strive for realism, yet they're more effective in conveying the story than some of our modern CGI.  Undoubtedly Murnau's most famous film is Nosferatu, the first major adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula.  Murnau set the bar for all future versions of the immortal Count, inventing a loathsome, disease-spreading apparition.  Some of film horror's most iconic images came from this film and it remains mandatory viewing every Halloween.  Murnau was sadly killed in a car accident shortly after being imported by Hollywood, and it's a tragedy we never got to see his intended American filmography.  His first American film, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, won three awards at the first Oscars ceremony.

Top Three Films: Nosferatu, Faust, The Last Laugh


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Movie Review: Dunkirk (2017)


Well I've seen Christopher Nolan's WWII triptych twice now.  The first time I had very mixed feelings about it.  Dunkirk is essentially without characters.  It's a visceral, small-scope assault on the senses designed to plunge the viewer into the horrors of this particular battle (if one can even call it that), wherein 300,000 British soldiers were rescued from certain death after being trapped on the beach for days.  So shallow was the water at Dunkirk that British destroyers were unable to access the besieged soldiers, and thus the Navy began recruiting small private vessels which could navigate directly to the beach.  The evacuation was considered miraculous and inspired Churchill's famous "We shall fight on the beaches" speech.  But the film left me a little cold on the first viewing.  While I was duly impressed with Nolan's technique (as always) and the film's authenticity, I wasn't able to connect with any of the characters since they're only there to drive the plot.  Dunkirk boasts precious little dialogue, and what's there is often hard to make out amid the thunder of battle and Hans Zimmer's pounding score.  I exited the theater saying to myself, "Okay....so that happened.  Now what do I do with it?"

Upon a second watch I was able to put aside my expectations (Nolan films usually have a rich emotional core to them but Dunkirk's lack thereof frustrated me), and simply take the film for what it was and what it intended to do.  Nolan wants us to see, hear and feel what it must've been like, how harrowing the experience was, how terrifying for the British not to know whether they'd ever make it off the beach.  The historical context and the personal drama didn't concern him; he preferred to tell this story through visuals and sound.  To set Dunkirk apart from other war films, Nolan employed a threefold narrative structure and used time expansion to allow intercutting between the three segments (The events on land cover one week, the sea one day, and the air one hour).  On the first viewing I found this a little distracting and gimmicky, but the second time it worked for me, keeping the film's momentum fluid and lending the two shorter time periods more weight than they would've otherwise carried.

For a 2017 film, Dunkirk has a very no-nonsense frankness about it.  There is nothing glamorous about the battle scenes, no rousing speeches to the men, no Hollywood sheen to the events.  The film is visually striking but not in a trumped-up, artificial sense.  The sequences in the air for example don't play out like Top Gun; the pilots don't pull any fancy spinning maneuvers or spectacular midair stunts.  They use simple flight patterns to position themselves with a direct line of sight to enemy planes.  When planes get shot down they don't explode like a TIE fighter.  They emit smoke and slowly lose altitude before crashing to the water below.  The main character Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and the other trapped soldiers spend much of the film hiding, crawling and trying not to drown.  The Mark Rylance character and his two shipmates spend the film just trying to reach Dunkirk while there are still soldiers to rescue.  There's nothing gratuitously adventurous about these characters, they were simply terrified young men whose only concern at this point was escaping to England.  Contrary to the usual war movie fare, there's nothing fun about what we see here.

I've read reviews calling Dunkirk the best war film ever made and others calling it Nolan's greatest work.  I disagree with both statements, but this is still a very worthy entry in Nolan's catalog.  He's looked at the war genre from a different angle and presented an immersive, austere look at what these soldiers went through in the aftermath of one battle.  You won't find any philosophizing about the brutality of war, nor much context to drive home the implications of this evacuation, beyond the obvious, that it saved hundreds of thousands.  What you will get is a thoroughly realistic, gritty visual document achieved with thousands of film extras, real World War II vehicles and equipment, talented actors (who admittedly aren't asked to do all that much acting), and almost no CGI.  Dunkirk may not be a masterpiece, but it's a film you'll find yourself thinking and talking about long after you've seen it.

I give the film *** out of ****.


   

Monday, August 21, 2017

WWE SummerSlam 2017 Was Good, Jinder Mahal Isn't

SummerSlam 2017 felt a bit like one of those older WWF PPVs that had a ton of variety and was oddly more enjoyable than it probably deserved to be.  The ten main PPV matches cruised by at a decent pace and this show never felt to me like a slog, a la SummerSlam 2016.  There wasn't anything truly great on the show, but there were several very good matches, most of which occurred in the second half.  In that way this was like the anti-WrestleMania; the last two 'Manias have started out strong and become a major drag by the final hour.


Of note, the crowd for NXT TakeOver the night before was electric from start to finish.  The SummerSlam crowd was mostly pretty dead except during a few select matches.  I've asked this before, but isn't Vince bothered by this phenomenon?  You'd think he'd figure out a way to make the main roster crowds' enthusiasm match that of the NXT audience.

Things kicked off in very strange fashion, with the John Cena-Baron Corbin match.  I'm not sure who thought this would make for a hot opener, but it wasn't; Corbin's nondescript offense and Cena's seeming lack of motivation of late failed to jumpstart the Brooklyn crowd.  There was a nice callback near the end of the match, where Cena tossed Corbin to the buckles, Corbin slid out of the ring, and immediately slid back in.  Earlier in the bout this spot resulted in Corbin leveling Cena with a clothesline, but Cena turned the tables the second time, hitting a clothesline of his own, followed by the AA for the win.  Not much of a match, but I got some enjoyment out of it because my son watched it with me and he's a big Cena fan.  Baffling choice for an opening bout though, and Corbin is clearly in the doghouse.

Next up was a much stronger match, pitting Smackdown Womens' Champ Naomi vs. Natalya.  These two strung together some nice, innovative offense, the wrestling was fairly crisp, and Nattie finally got a well-deserved Title win with the Sharpshooter.  Perfectly serviceable undercard match with the right winner.

The worst match of the night was third, as Big Cass and Big Show sleepwalked through a fairly excruciating ten minutes.  I'm not sure why this needed to be on the main card while the Smackdown Tag Title match wasn't, nor were The Miz or The Hardyz, and Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler were absent from this show completely.  The only memorable bit was Enzo squeezing out of the shark cage, which immediately led to him getting murdered by Cass.  Pointless.

Speaking of pointless, Randy Orton beat Rusev in ten seconds.  Poor Rusev.  He and Lana had a great act, so of course the company split them up.  He had a very good heel character, so of course the company turned him into a joke.  Not that I was excited about this match anyway, but Jeezus this was a waste.

Things picked up again with the RAW Women's Title match, as Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks delivered a well-worked 13-minute bout on par with Naomi-Nattie.  This wasn't on the level of Sasha and Charlotte's matches, and certainly nowhere near as good as the show stealing Asuka-Ember Moon match from the night before, but Alexa plays the douchebag heel to perfection and these two have undeniable chemistry.  Sasha won the belt for the fourth time via Bank Statement tapout.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III Preview & Predictions

It's SummerSlam weekend, and that means NXT is descending on Barclays Center the night before the main roster, for the third annual TakeOver: Brooklyn!  It's looking like a decent lineup, if a bit underwhelming compared to the two previous Brooklyn shows.  But let's take a look....






Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade Almas


It sucks that Tomasso Ciampa got hurt when he did - Ciampa vs. Gargano should by all rights be happening on this show and it'd almost certainly be the best match of the night, and the match everyone would be talking about.  But Gargano's in the opener instead, unfortunately.  Jeezus, Almas desperately needs something to kickstart his career, he's been languishing at the bottom of the card since he debuted.  And this match isn't gonna help his cause - there's no way Gargano loses in the opener when the payoff to his Ciampa feud is still forthcoming.

Justin: Gargano wins
Landon: Johnny Wrestling's gonna win this one it seems. I don't know what Andrade is missing, but he's just not clicking.




Aleister Black vs. Hideo Itami


This one should be a fine contest.  Itami's another guy whose NXT run hasn't panned out as expected.  Part of that is the two years' worth of injuries he sustained, but next to Owens, Zayn, Joe and Nakamura, Itami just kinda seems in a lower tier so far.  The former KENTA needs a defining NXT match.  Could this be it?  I don't think he's winning here - Black is clearly a top priority for the NXT brand.

Justin: Black
Landon: I hate undefeated streaks, and my heart wants Hideo to win this one to pick up some sembence of momentum




NXT Tag Team Championship: Authors of Pain vs. SAnitY


Not terribly excited about this one.  AoP has improved but they need a great team to bring it out of them.  I don't think SAnitY is that team.  It'll be a wild brawl I'm sure, but I don't expect anything amazing.  AoP should retain here unless there's a call-up plan for them.

Justin: AoP retains
Landon: A team that needs a great team to make great matches should not be the champions. SAnitY is closer to that, but we gotta circle jerk over the LOD redux. AOP retains


Thursday, August 17, 2017

WWE SummerSlam 2017 Preview & Predictions

Oh my, it's been a full four weeks since we at Enuffa.com have dropped a big ol' WWE Predictions bomb on the interwebs.  Feels like the epic show of shit that was Battleground was ages ago.  Well, WWE is back with the summer spectacular, and it's gonna be a long night.  A...long.....long, long.......long, long, long, long, long....night.


But to be fair, this show looks pretty strong.  It doesn't have that one must-see match like AJ Styles vs. John Cena from last year, but there's plenty of intriguing bouts lined up.  So let's make with the predicting....

***Dave is in the lead with 15/21 (71%), I'm in second with 38/55 (69%), Landon's third with 28/43 (65%), and Dan's still in the basement with 30/55 (55%)***




Pre-Show: Cruiserweight Championship: Akira Tozawa vs. Neville


Yeah, so this is one of TWO SummerSlam matches WWE gave away the Monday before SummerSlam, for free.  Makes sense.  And this one even had a title change.  Tozawa is the new Cruiserweight Champion.  So goddamn stupid.  Wouldn't wanna put this match on the actual PPV and have the title switch then, would we?  Fuck's sake.  Anyway, this should be decent but the crowd will not care, because the company clearly doesn't.

Justin: Tozawa retains, and we'll probably see this match again on Monday
Dan: Tozawa. No clue why you change the belt on free TV. No clue.
Landon: This Pre-Show pick is sponsored in part by Red Stripe, The official beer of Jamaica.
Dave: Towza I guess





Pre-Show: Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The New Day vs. The Usos


Ya know, I'm not even mad this got bumped to the pre-show.  Their match at Battleground was really good, but we've seen this pairing enough I think.  Smackdown desperately needs some new viable teams.  Maybe splitting up American Alpha wasn't the best idea, hmm?  Dopes.

Justin: New Day retains
Dan: I'm pretty sure these are the only two teams on Smackdown. Cereal boys win.
Landon: New Day retains
Dave: New Day, but come on, let's see something new.





The Big Show vs. Big Cass


On second thought, here's one they could've bumped instead.  Does anyone care about this feud?  Cass has potential but I'm not at all invested in this heel turn.  They really should've turned Cass and Enzo both heel and made Enzo the manager.  This match won't be good.

Justin: Cass
Dan: Cass
Landon: Cass, or this thing dies in the water.
Dave: Boring.  Cass.





Randy Orton vs. Rusev


Poor Ru'.  Remember two years ago when he was a threat?  Guy's a total afterthought now.  When they paired Rusev and Jinder as a team, did ANYONE think Jinder would be first to the WWE Title?  If you answered yes, you're a goddamn liar.  This feud is what's known as a placeholder to build Orton back up after losing three straight to Jinder.  I'm not expecting much of a match here.

Justin: RKO
Dan: Viper
Landon: Orton wins, because of fucking course he does.
Dave: Orton needs to win.





Smackdown Women's Championship: Naomi vs. Natalya


This could be good.  Both of these women can go, and it's nice to see Nattie finally getting another crack at a title.  She's been one of the best in the women's division for years and hasn't held gold since like 2010.  Insane.  Anyway I think it's time for her to get a new run with the strap, plus that will allow Naomi to chase her for a while.

Justin: Nattie wins
Dan: Yup
Landon: My man on the inside, Tommy Gunn, says that Naomi is going to be holding the belt until 2018. So Naomi retains here.
Dave: Naomi



Red Sox 1st Pitch To The Nards: An Oral History

by Dan Moore
@SouthieDanimal

Last night, one of the greatest events mine eyes have ever seen occurred. Before the Boston Red Sox took on the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park, they were honoring a young man named Jordan Leandre.  Jordan had cancer and was known around these parts for running around the bases when he was a little kid. It’s Jimmy Fund week where the Sox do their annual telethon to eliminate cancer so there he was on the mound to deliver the first pitch. And what a first pitch it was. View the glory below.


RIGHT. IN. THE. DICK. 

I am not lying to you, loyal reader, when I tell you this is legit the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life. I have watched this maybe 4 million times already and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it. Watching a grown man getting hit in his beef popsicle on an endless loop has cheered me up immensely. 

The amount of things that had to go wrong with this pitch that it ended up hitting this chubby cameraman in his spunk bunker is off the charts. First, the kid gets on the mound and he had to be nervous. Then, he had to shoot off a pitch that he must've known was going haywire the second it left his hand. And the big dude taking the pics had to settle in and be a pro long enough that his meat scepter was in total danger. In fact, Tony Capobianco IS a total pro and kept shooting pics! 



I fear I have no way to stop watching this. I do not see how any other video on the interwebs can possibly bring me more joy than a stitched horsehide baseball hitting a man square in the nuts. So tonight I will continue to watch this video and I will pray for Tony Capobianco's clam hammer.


Never Forget. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

NJPW G1 Climax 27, or How Freakin' Good Can This Get?


Well another G1 Climax is in the history books, and hot damn if that wasn't one helluva ride.  As expected the 2017 tournament yielded a sea of ****+ matches including probably half a dozen legitimate Match of the Year candidates, multiple story threads playing out, and a clear direction heading toward next year's WrestleKingdom 12 show.

G1 27 saw Yuji Nagata make his final appearance in the annual tourney, scoring only a single victory but delivering a host of memorable performances, one of which (his battle with Kota Ibushi) stole the show for me.  Nagata is a seemingly ageless warrior who at 49 can still tear the house down anytime he wants.

Meanwhile, G1 newcomers Zack Sabre Jr. and Juice Robinson made their mark in a big way, with numerous excellent showings and a surprise win or two for both guys.  Sabre made Intercontinental Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi tap out the first night of the tournament with an absolutely sick-looking submission, while Juice Robinson got shocking wins over both US Champ Kenny Omega and powerhouse Michael Elgin.  Both NJPW newbies undoubtedly earned title shots against their respective title-holding opponents this fall, and I eagerly await both matches.
Elsewhere in the tournament, Kota Ibushi made his long-awaited NJPW return sans Tiger mask, and padded his already amazing resume with spectacular showings against Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and possibly my favorite match of his, the gritty, rugged bout with Zack Sabre.  Ibushi defeated the British technical master at his own game, eschewing his usual aerial assault for a battle of strikes and grapples.  I sincerely hope Ibushi sticks around this time, or if he must roam again, returns very soon.  Ibushi is a one-of-a-kind talent and the company is better for his presence.

Two of the company's bruisers had marvelous, show stealing matches against top names: Michael Elgin, and Evil.  Both B-Blockers, Elgin and Evil each faced Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega, and all four matches were incredible.  Elgin defeated Kenny on Night 8, while Evil got a shocking win over Okada on Night 14, undoubtedly setting him up for an IWGP Title match this fall.  Both men clearly elevated themselves with their work here.

All that aside though, the G1 centered around, and "climaxed" with, the New Japan "big four" - Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito, Kenny Omega, and Kazuchika Okada.  Of the tournament's 19 shows, there were only four nights by my count where the best match didn't involve at least one of these four men.  And fittingly, the final three main events were transcendent.  On Night 17 Tanahashi and Naito renewed their rivalry from earlier this year with an epic, dramatic bout that for me was their best outing yet.  Naito won the rubber match to advance to the Finals.  Paralleling that, on Night 18 we got the the third match in the Okada-Omega series, and while only half the length of their Tokyo Dome classic (the SHORTER of the first two), this match was impossibly action-packed, showcasing balls-to-the-wall wrestling that never let up for the bout's 24-minute running time.  You're not ever gonna see a better match of that length in 2017, or for a long time thereafter.  I think this was my second-favorite of the series, after the WK11 match.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Game Of Thrones Season 7, Episode 4: The Spoils Of War

By Dan Moore


FIIIIIIIIIIIRE!!!! There’s nothing like a nice, pleasant Sunday ending with a goddamn dragon torching a Lannister army. It’s a beautiful sight. 


I hope you like your foot soldiers well done. 

I'm getting ahead of myself here, though. That was the end of the episode & the real meat of this week's installment. I'm reversing course here, so let's start with...

RESTEROS:

---Arya finally made it back to Winterfell and had a lovely reunion scene with her sister, Sansa. You could tell these two really missed each other as they talked for the first time in years in the catacombs of their childhood home next to the statue of their departed father. And then she met up with Bran. That kid is a fucking DRAG, man. I know he's gonna have a bigger part to play as the show wraps up, but Christ he sucks right now (same with Littlefinger. That manipulative fuck is up to something, but I cannot pinpoint it all). 

---We also got to see how awesome Arya is with her sword skills as she sparred with Brienne. A fun scene that really shows that a girl is not to be messed with. 


My money was on Brienne. I'M RUINED!!!

---At Dragonstone, Jon shows Dany all the dragonglass in the caves under her castle. And it's an epic looking scene filled with a dramatic new piece of music. Jon discovered in the cave that the Children of the Forest left some paintings behind that showed they eventually teamed up with men to fight the common enemy, the White Walkers. This convinces Ms. Stormborn that she should help Jon battle the undead...but only if he bends the knee. These two are letting pride get in their way. I thought Dany was smarter than Jon, who, we realize, knows nothing, but she's just being petty at this point. 

So about that dragon battle. AWESOME. Jaime and his hetero life mate Bronn are just hanging around, heading back to King's Landing when Bronn hears some folk a-creeping and BOOM Dothraki army backed up by a motherfucking dragon. It was an awesome spectacle to watch on the tube. 


Money shot. 

The battle was awesome to watch, but there were defintley some pros & cons. 

PRO: The CGI dragon torching a buncha poor saps looked awesome. The guys getting cooked so fast they instantly became ash was cool as shit. 

CON: I don't care about courage or a soldier's oath, I see a prehistoric murder machine spewing lava breath, I turn tail and get the hell outta there. The fact that none of the Lannister army ran for the hills seemed unlikely. 

PRO: The scenes were shot well. None of that confusing editing where you have no idea what's going on. 

CON: Ok, so Bronn shoots Drogon with his giant crossbow, who gets mighty pissed off and shoots flames at the crossbow. Bronn...ducks outta the way? And lives? COME ON WITH THIS SHIT. The size of that dragon fire blast woulda toasted him up faster than a marshmallow on a campfire. 



CON: And along with that...Jaime sees Dany on the ground so he heads over there to try and kill her. Drogon does what Drogon does and spits hot fire all over him...and he's knocked off his horse by Bronn and into a conveniently placed lake? COME ON WITH THIS SHIT PART 2! Disregarding the fact that the little lake is like 100 feet deep, they both woulda been burned up faster than Michael Jackson's hair. I get not wanting to kill both these dudes like that, but I like some form of reality in my shows with fire breathing dragons & where people come back from the dead. 

Those distractions aside, this was one of the best battle scenes GoT has put to film. It was a great way to end the episode. Even though it looks like Jaime was floating down into a watery grave to meet Jack Dawson, you know he ain't going out like that. Might this lead to a reunion with Tyrion? I assume he gets captured after being brought out of the lake with no bottom. Should make for some interesting (non dragon) fireworks for next week's show.