Wednesday, January 31, 2018

New England Patriots Cheating: A Loser's Myth

by Dan Moore

The New England Patriots are the greatest dynasty the NFL has ever known. They're about to make their 8th Super Bowl appearance since 2001 with 5 wins and possibly their sixth this coming Sunday. But they are not without controversy, either real or imagined. Here now are my thoughts on all the alleged cheating, scandals and referee help they've received since their run began almost twenty years ago.


Ah yes, the Tuck Rule game. The game where a rule was applied correctly and everyone lost their shit. The rule that earlier in the year went against the Patriots. The rule that was applied in a divisional round game, a full two games before the Super Bowl, that allowed the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Yes, that rule. 

Raiders fans would have you believe this is what the play actually looked like. 

You wanna bitch that the rule sucks? I’m with you. You wanna say the Pats got lucky that game? Abso-fuckin’-lutley. But don’t give me any of this bullshit that the Raiders got cheated out of the Super Bowl when they couldn’t even take care of business two fucking games before the big one. There was 1:50 left in the game. Oakland could've, ya know, stopped the Pats. Or maybe stopped them in overtime. But that gets left out when you talk about this game BECAUZ WE WUZ CHEATED (Also, let me remind you, the big bad Raiders, who totes woulda won the Super Bowl in 2001 if not for the refs cheating them out of the Super Bowl 8 whole quarters before it began, made it to the Super Bowl in 2002 and got their fucking doors blown off 48-21 by Tampa Bay so suck a boner, you Raiders crybabies). 


This is the one. The big one. The lie that still gets repeated to this day. The Patriots were reported to have taped a practice the Rams had the weekend of the Super Bowl, by breathing tub of goo John Tomase.

The man's a goblin

A fat, curly haired nobody who decided that journalism doesn’t matter as long as you’re first to report whatever tripe you hear in a bar room. Tomase did no research and said “Eh fuck it, Pats taped practices." And this is the nonsense you hear from every other jealous fanbase about the Patriots. The man lied about it, made no real apology and SOMEHOW is still employed in the Boston media. It makes no fucking sense and I hope he gets paper cuts on that little web section of his hand in between his fingers.

(Also, read this if you wanna know all about this nonsense )

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The WrestleMania Main Event: No New People Allowed

So I'm getting ready for work this morning and my mind wanders, as it does more frequently than I care to admit, to the subject of pro wrestling (Oh CHRIST, here he goes again....).  Specifically I was thinking about WWE's inability over the past decade-plus to create new top stars, and how that correlates with who gets to main event The Show of Shows, WrestleMania.  The idea popped in my head once again that, wow, no matter what happens to him from here, whether his in-ring career resumes or not, Daniel Bryan got to headline WrestleMania.  It's an honor bestowed on so few, and he's one of them.  Forever.

The fact that these guys got to main event 'Mania but Punk didn't is just unreal.

But then I decided to go back over all the 'Manias since the show was created 33 years ago and count exactly how many men got to main event the spring spectacular.  Just how exclusive is this club?  And the numbers are pretty striking when you think about them.  The overall total is 33, which is an average of one new guy per year.  But it's the decade-by-decade numbers that are really telling.  First let's review exactly who's on this list and then I'll show you how revealing this trend is as it pertains to WWE's stagnant star factory.  I'll give you some totals after each ten years of Manias.

The following is a list of NEW WrestleMania main event participants by year:

WrestleMania I: Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff, Mr. T

WrestleMania 2: King Kong Bundy

WrestleMania III: Andre the Giant

WrestleMania IV: Randy Savage, Ted Dibiase

(WM5 had Hogan and Savage, who had both headlined before)

WrestleMania VI: Ultimate Warrior

WrestleMania VII: Sgt. Slaughter

WrestleMania VIII: Sid Justice

WrestleMania IX: Bret Hart, Yokozuna

(WM10 had a rematch of the WM9 main event)

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Power of the Pin 1.29.18: The Last Days of Lesnar

Welcome to a special guest column from Ryan K Boman of  Ryan K. Boman is the co- founder of Lecrettia Media Services, a content and marketing firm that specializes in sports & entertainment promotion.  He began writing professionally in 1990 at the age of 14. As a syndicated columnist and feature writer, his work has appeared in The Miami Herald, AdWeek, SB Nation, The Southern Illinoisan and

by Ryan K. Boman

As we come churning to the end of the WWE calendar and look towards WrestleMania, we’ve already answered one major question: Shinsuke Nakamura will face AJ Styles for the WWE Championship on the company’s signature stage.

For "smart fans," it must have felt like it was raining candy, hearing Nakamura utter those three syllables after he won The Royal Rumble last night. And for Smackdown, as a brand, it’s another opportunity to surpass its older brother, RAW, with the world watching. Based on their past encounters in Japan, there’s no reason to believe that The Artist and The Phenomenal One won’t play a tune in New Orleans that will have the wrestling audience singing.

Which brings us to the dance card of the current Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar. With a showstopping match already set in the other world title scene, what does WrestleMania have in store for Brock? And even more importantly, what comes afterwards?

Earlier this year, speculation was swirling that Lesnar might be riding out his contract with World Wrestling Entertainment until his UFC suspension was over. The theory, some fans surmised, was that he was simply collecting a paycheck until he could return to a ‘real sport’. Fueling that chatter  was some sniping over the summer between Lesnar and former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, leading fans to believe the two were hyping a potential MMA fight. That buzz died down when Jones was suspended for a drug violation himself.

Lesnar has made comments in the past that indicate he feels he’d be taken more seriously as a legitimate combat fighter, as opposed to a sports entertainer. Despite his rough, ‘I-Don’t-Give-A-Damn’ exterior, it’s clear that Lesnar’s legacy as an athlete (real or otherwise) is important to him. His foray several years ago into football was a sign of that natural, competitive streak; he had never played football at the collegiate level, yet still hung with the Vikings before eventually being cut.

WWE Royal Rumble 2018: Nakamura, Asuka and RONDA ROUSEY

Well.  It seems WWE has rediscovered how to put on a fun Royal Rumble.  TWO in fact.  For a while there the Rumble had become one of my least favorite events on their calendar, but between last year's pretty great show (with admittedly the wrong ending) and last night's pretty great show (with the exact right results across the board), the Royal Rumble has officially returned to form.  There was nary a bad match on the main card, both Rumbles delivered, there were memorable moments abound, lots of fun surprise entrants, a clear direction for WrestleMania, and a monumental debut to end the show.

First up, oddly, was the WWE Title match.  AJ Styles defended against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, in a crisply worked 16-minute match.  Nothing spectacular here, but the three of them worked well together and AJ even got to bust out his moonsault-reverse DDT combo (which I don't remember seeing since his WWE debut two years ago).  Styles retained after countering an Owens pop-up powerbomb into a roll-up, but Owens and Zayn protested since Owens technically hadn't tagged into the match.  Solid opener.

Next was the Smackdown Tag Title match (SD kinda got shafted with this lineup; both of their bouts went on first), as The Usos defended against Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin.  The Usos have been on fire and this continued that trend.  Energetic, fast-paced and well-booked, with a shocking two straight falls for Jimmy and Jey, this was a fine undercard match.  I liked that the first fall was long and the second fall was surprisingly short - it was realistic and defied the typical structure for a 2/3 Falls match.

The men's Royal Rumble was third out of six, which was pretty baffling until the end of the show when it was made clear why.  I dare say this was the best Rumble match of the past decade, if not longer.  The booking of this match was predictable in a good way; everyone who should've gotten to shine did.  The final five ended up being the five most plausible winners.  Finn Balor entered at number 2 and made the final four, having lasted 57+ minutes.  And of course Shinsuke Nakamura got his WWE career-defining moment by outlasting both John Cena and Roman Reigns to win the whole thing (after 44 minutes of in-ring time).  It seems my WrestleMania wish is coming true - AJ vs. Nakamura will tear the house down.  This is how you book a Royal Rumble match in 2018.  Other notes: Rey Mysterio looked better than he has in probably ten years and I wouldn't mind seeing him return as a part-timer.  Andrade Almas and Adam Cole both had good showings and it was great to see the NXT guests not geeked out on the main roster for a change.  Fuck you Comcast, for my internet going out RIGHT AT THE END OF THE MATCH.  Anyway, this was a pretty fantastic Rumble match that ranks up there with the 1992 and 2004 editions.

Participants: Rusev, Finn Balor, Rhyno, Baron Corbin, Heath Slater, Elias, Andrade Almas, Bray Wyatt, Big E, Sami Zayn, Sheamus, Xavier Woods, Apollo Crews, Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro, Kofi Kingston, Jinder Mahal, Seth Rollins, Matt Hardy, John Cena, The Hurricane, Aiden English, Adam Cole, Randy Orton, Titus O'Neil, The Miz, Rey Mysterio, Roman Reigns, Goldust, Dolph Ziggler
Final Four: Shinsuke Nakamura, Roman Reigns, John Cena, Finn Balor
Long Man: Finn Balor (57:30)

The match given the unenviable post-Rumble spot was Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan vs. The Bar.  I didn't really see any of this match except the finish, thanks to Comcast and my piece of shit wifi modem.  By the time I got back online the match was almost over.  From what I understand it was passable and served its purpose in furthering the Rollins-Jordan feud.  And The Bar regained the straps as they should have.  So no complaints there.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The History of WWE Royal Rumble, part 10 (2015-2017)

We're almost up to date.  Read on.....

Royal Rumble - First Union Center - 1.25.15

For the second straight year Vince McMahon's stubborn tone-deafness backfired on him at the Royal Rumble.  The egregiousness of the booking was even worse than 2014's Rumble, and here's why: at least in 2014 an argument could be made that WWE didn't realize how badly Batista's comeback and Rumble win would be received.  I mean, those of us with the capacity for logical thought knew Batista's return wasn't going to galvanize the fanbase like Vince hoped, and that 2014 was clearly Daniel Bryan's time.  But WWE realized they'd made a mistake and worked diligently to correct it, and eventually we got the WrestleMania we deserved.  But WWE learned nothing from this fiasco apparently, as you'll see.

Before I go on any further about this turd of a Rumble match, let's recap the undercard.

The Ascension experiment fell on its face out of the gate, as the fans didn't buy these two generic-looking Indie-style midcarders as the second coming of the Road Warriors.  But no matter, they still got a decisive win over The New Age Outlaws.  This stunk.  Moving on.

Another tag match followed, this one a WWE Tag Title match between The Usos and Team Mizdow.  Not bad but not much more than a run-of-the-mill RAW match.

Third time's the charm?  Not so much.  The Bella Twins faced Paige & Natalya in the third consecutive tag match on this show, and while probably the best bout so far, this also wasn't much to tell the grandkids about.

Amazingly, a memorable and awesome match broke out in the semi-main slot, as WWE Champ Brock Lesnar defended against John Cena and Seth Rollins.  Man, what a stunningly worked match.  All three guys wrestled like this was the main event of WrestleMania, packing the bout with non-stop action, near-falls, and high spots.  Lesnar dominated early with German suplexes galore (including a double GS on Rollins flunkies Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) before being put through a table by Rollins mid-match.  Rollins would then turn in a career performance, nearly defeating John Cena for the Title if not for Lesnar's third-act comeback.  Lesnar finally finished off Rollins by countering a Curb Stomp with an F5, retaining the Title and capping off his best match since SummerSlam 2013.  One of the best Triple Threats I've ever seen.

Had the Rumble match been anywhere near as good as the three-way this PPV would've been saved.  Alas it wasn't good.  At all.

Friday, January 26, 2018

NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another edition of NXT Predictions, here at, where Landon Wayne and I break down the latest TakeOver special from the one good brand under the WWE umbrella.

I gotta be honest, I haven't been keeping up with NXT current events very well these days, and it's not easy when the main roster has scooped up so much of their top talents.  NXT's been in a rebuilding phase for the last six months or so, and while the wrestling quality is always very good to excellent, it's felt like a developmental brand again, which hadn't been true since before the Owens-Zayn signings.  That said, TakeOver: Philadelphia is looking like a pretty terrific show.

Let's get to it.

Kassius Ohno vs. Velveteen Dream

This match was just officially announced last night.  Dream has been quite the breakout young star of late, with monster charisma and a great grasp of his character.  He had an unexpected show stealer with Aleister Black at the last TakeOver, and many were sad he didn't win that match.  Well I think this will be his consolation prize.  Dream is a hot commodity and now's the time to give him his first major win.

Justin: Dream
Landon: Dream wins. No offense to my personal Hero, but Kassius is here in the player coach role mostly I feel. I don't know if he'll ever make it to the main roster or not.

NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era vs. Authors of Pain

Hmm, which tag team name is better, reDRagon or Undisputed Era?  What precisely about this era is undisputed?  Or does the name suggest that there's no dispute that this is indeed an era?  What asshole came up with this name?  It sucks.  If you're not gonna use reDRagon, at least come up with something similar.  Or something that references Ring of Honor, like Code of Honor maybe.  Just something.  Christ.  Anyway this should be a fine contest.  AoP have come a very long way since their 2016 debut.  O'Reilly and Fish are the balls.  This could be the sleeper hit of the show.

Justin: reDRagon retain, as I think AoP are main roster-bound sooner rather than later.
Landon: reDRagon

WWE Royal Rumble 2018 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to the first round of main roster WWE predictions of 2018!  It's January, and that means it's time for the Royal Rumble, traditionally the one PPV a year WWE hasn't sucked all the fun out of......except in 2014 and 2015.

It's a somewhat unpredictable field this year, as other than the obvious choice of Roman Reigns (whose second Rumble win would be met with scorn and violence in the same building in which his first occurred three years ago, so get it out of your fucking heads WWE), there are multiple potential winners.  Look, we all know Roman's fighting Brock at WrestleMania, so there's no fun in having him win the Rumble.  It has to be a Smackdown guy takin' it down again on his way to facing AJ.  Unless of course WWE has some curve ball in mind.  And WWE curve balls always suck.  They suck balls, in fact.

This will also be the first Rumble event to feature TWO Rumble matches, as the women are getting their own match.  This could be fun.  I'm sure we'll see some cameos in that match from former WWE women's stars.  I also imagine this match will be of the 1-minute-intervals variety, so as not to burn out the crowd before the men's Rumble.

But let's get to some predictions.  Side note: Thank Christ we'll be spared that awful Cruiserweight Title match they had planned.  Fuck Enzo.

***I'm leading with 74/103 (71.8%), Landon's on my heels with 64/91 (70%), Dave's third with 47/69 (68%), and Dan's in the caboose with 63/103 (61%)***

Smackdown Tag Team Championship 2/3 Falls Match: The Usos vs. Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable

Man, how much better would this be if it were American Alpha still?  I've always liked Benjamin but Jordan & Gable had such great chemistry as a team.  I'm still baffled.  Anyway, this should be a fun tag match as long as each fall is given time (WWE has this habit of rushing through 2/3 Falls matches and making them totally unrealistic).  This match could go either way but I'm sticking with the champs here because of what I think is gonna happen in the next match....

Justin: The Usos retain
Dan: Yes
Landon: Fuck, I'm behind on Smackdown...uhh.....Usos cause nothing matters to me about this company besides beating Justin in predictions.
Dave: Usos

RAW Tag Team Championship: Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan vs. The Bar

Dean Ambrose's injury really effed everything up, huh?  Rollins & Jordan has to be the most random tag title pairing since Cena and David Otunga.  Anyway this match should be quite good given the talent involved.  The rumored plan is for a Rollins-Jordan match at Mania, which is a double-edged sword.  On one hand, that could be a pretty great little match.  On the other, THAT'S the best you have for Seth Rollins?  At any rate, it makes sense for The Bar to win the staps back and begin the breakup of this unlikely babyface team.

Justin: The Bar
Dan: JR retain
Landon: Rollins and Jordan retain
Dave: The Bar.....mmmm, beer.....

WWE Championship Handicap Match: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

I hate handicap matches.  So, so much.  Why couldn't this just be a triple threat?  It'd be great.  Nope, RAW already has one of those even though that one should just be a singles match.  Fuck this shit.  Soo, clearly Owens and Zayn end up not being able to get it together and I'm guessing it all leads to a Mania match between them.  No complaints there, but wouldn't a 3-way here accomplish the exact same goal?  This will be yet another case of the Shane nonsense getting in the way of a good match from these guys.

Justin: AJ retains
Dan: Fuck it, KO & Sami
Landon: AJ Styles
Dave: AJ, I mean, come on.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The XFL is Back, BABY!!!

by Dan Moore


Vince McMahon just announced the return of his formerly ill-fated and all but forgotten sports venture, the XFL. That's right, the football league with WRASSLIN' commentators and big old floppity titties is coming back.

She plays for the New Jersey Hindenburgs

I dunno about you but while I wait for the Super Bowl to commence in about a week, this announcement of a sub-par football league coming back is really getting my gonads a-moving. I for one cannot wait to see a team fumbling punt returns and throwing short on 3rd and long every time (like Andy Reid!). 

And holy shit can you imagine what the silly nicknames could be on the back of the jerseys nowadays??!?! Yea, me neither cause they could be real fucking names. There is 100% a kid SOMEWHERE in America named He Hate Me. I guaran-fuckin'-tee it. 

SHALOM! It is I, He Hate Me Blumsack!

I have no idea why Vince hates money, cause this thing is probably gonna fail AGAIN. He's spending $100 million bucks to televise third rate football games WITHOUT my man Johnny Manziel. I mean, WHAT??!?! Vince said that nobody with a criminal background can be in the league. That's like 95% of the SEC. Who's gonna be in this league, soccer players?!?!


Regardless, I'll still watch this piece of shit league for three reasons. 

A. I love football

2. I love train-wrecks

D. You're outside of your mind if you think I'm gonna miss Tim Tebow suiting up for the Corpus Chisti Christ-O's.

"Christ is the only Hail Mary I need...wait a minute..."

NJPW The New Beginning 2018 Preview & Predictions

New Beginnings are coming in a few days. Three nights, every title on the line at some point. Going through all of the matches at once would give me a hemorrhage cause ain't nobody got time for that. So we're distilling the important matches out of each night and talking about them. I'm running behind on my own blog, so let's jump right in with Sapporo.

The New Beginning in Sapporo, Night 1, 1/27/18

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Championship [1st Defense]
Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (Bullet Club) (c) vs. Togi Makabe, Toa Henare & Ryusuke Taguchi (Taguchi Japan)

Landon: Bullet Club keeps the belts here, I hope. This shit needs to stop bouncing back and forth between teams, and this is probably the best use for Fale and the Tongas. Let their reign be long and chaotic.
Justin: The title that never stops moving.  I guess it's fine that this title exists because it gives a tiny bit of significance to one six-man schmozz on each show, but that's diminishing with each title change.  Instead of a barely cobbled together six-man division I wish NJPW would introduce a women's division.  That would preclude the necessity for so many multi-man tags on these big shows, plus it would potentially be yet another case of NJPW showing WWE how it's done.  Bullet Club retains I guess.

IWGP Intercontinental Championship [5th Defense]
Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Minoru Suzuki (Suzuki-Gun)

Landon: I know this is like the fourth time I've said this but I don't care. Tanahashi is hurt and his elbow is made out of  broken glass wrapped in paper. Put the belt on Suzuki and let it ride for a year. Get the belt off of the poor man, now.
Justin: Man, Tanahashi is STILL holding onto that arm.  At this point it must look like Homer Simpson DIY spice rack.

I have to think Suzuki is the man who finally dethrones him so he can take some time off.  Suzuki may have lost the NEVER belt but this would be a helluva bounceback.  Suzuki wins.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mike's Oscar Thoughts 2018

by Michael Drinan

Ladies and gentlemen….it’s Oscar season! After a year full of great films, the nominations for Academy Awards were announced and now we get to discuss. So, here are a few of my thoughts.

First, a huge shout out to Rachel Morrison for becoming the first woman to be nominated in the Best Cinematography category for Mudbound. She also filmed Fruitvale Station, another really good, deeply emotional film. Highly recommend, that one.


I didn’t make it out to the theaters as much as I had in years past, which caused me to have only seen one of the Best Picture nominees, which was Get Out. (which was excellent BTW) I’m going to try and see more before the show so I can be better informed when making my predictions.

For me, this category didn’t really have any surprises. I’ve heard great things about each and every one of the nominees so it’s going to be very interesting to see how it all shakes out. At the moment Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, for me are the frontrunners here, with Call Me By Your Name and The Shape of Water being dark horses.


I really feel the Best Director Award is Greta Gerwig’s to lose, for not only making a critically and universally adored film, but after her strikingly incomprehensible absence in this category at the Golden Globes, I feel she’ll get the votes. If not, Guillermo Del Toro might get it. My money’s on Gerwig.


Original Screenplay is going to be a great category to watch. It is filled with excellent films, with great scripts. I don’t know who is going to win but I do know which film isn’t going to win. As much as I loved The Big Sick, for its humor, real-world situation and characters, diversity and intellect, it is up against a very, very tough field. I’m very happy Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani were recognized for their excellent screenplay. They deserved it.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Hardships of Being a New England Patriots Fan

by Dan Moore

The New England Patriots vanquished the Jacksonville Jaguars to move on to their record 10th Super Bowl. It is their 3rd in the last 4 years and their 8th since 2000. It is a spectacular run the likes of which has never been seen in professional football. But I'm not here today to talk about how awesome the Pats are or how beautiful Tom Brady is or how big a johnson Bill Belichick has. No. I've done all that.

I'm here to talk about how awful this is for us Pats fans. I mean, this winning all the time really takes a toll on all of us. Here are my major gripes about the Patriots being the greatest team in football ever:


Figuring out where to go for the Super Bowl usually isn't that tough. Mainly because your loser teams aren't in it. But we here in New England hafta figure it out yearly. Do you know how hard that is? I mean, do you go to someone's house or a bar? Do you order pizza AND wings (yes)? And what kind of drugs are allowed? Are you at some loser's house where you can only smoke weed? Or at a cool guy's house, a guy named Tank, where the cocaine falls freely like a snowstorm? These things take planning and it's not easy to plan the biggest party of the year every year.


See this here?

WORTHLESS PIECE OF SHIT. I had this banner for like 8 minutes before it became useless. So I replaced it with this.  

Now with the Pats going back to the Super Bowl, there's a strong likelihood that this banner will also become pointless. Just another jizz rag in the jerkoff store of life. I find it rude, nay, downright IMPOLITE of the Patriots to continue to be so dominant that they make me buy new banners and shirts every year just so I can keep up with all the championships. I'm fucking broke over here. 

The History of WWE Royal Rumble, part 9 (2012-2014)

Welcome to part 9.  Mediocrity ensues.  In terms of the Rumble events, not my writing.  You know it and you love it.  Let's get on with it....

Royal Rumble 2012 - Scottrade Center - 1.29.12

What a phoned-in show this was.  Considering the company had two excellent World Champions in January 2012 they sure put on a shoddy Rumble PPV.  An undercard with only one really good match (which was underwhelming), and a Rumble match featuring one of the worst lineups in history.  Let's examine this turd.  God, even the poster for it sucks.

The show opened, as so many PPVs of the time did, with the World Title match.  New Champion and smarmy dickish heel Daniel Bryan defended in a steel cage against two of the biggest men on the roster, Mark Henry and The Big Show.  The match told a good story and much of it consisted of Bryan using any weasely tactic possible to evade a toe-to-toe fight.  But at under ten minutes and with two massive opponents Bryan was hardly put in a show-stealing position.  This was okay, and the right guy won.

The obligatory Divas match was next as Beth Phoenix and Natalya (dubbed The Divas of Doom) teamed with the Bella twins against Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Alicia Fox and Tamina Snuka.  The DoD were the primary focus of the division at this point and seemed poised for a good heel run which would lead to a Beth vs. Natalya match at WrestleMania.  Alas none of that came to fruition and Natalya was saddled with an "uncontrollable gas" gimmick (who wouldn't get over with that?) while Beth got the privilege of being pinned cleanly by talk show host Maria Menounos at 'Mania 28.  Lovely.  This match was what it was, i.e. five minutes of "meh."

The ill-conceived John Cena vs. Kane feud was kicked off third.  Typical WWE nondescript brawl ending in a double countout, necessitating a rematch in February.  Given how thin the Rumble roster was, couldn't these two have just been included there?

Do I have your attention now?

Oh lovely, a squash match is next.  Brodus Clay (Remember him?  He was gonna be a huge deal.) destroyed Drew McIntyre (Remember him?  He was gonna be a huge deal.) in 65 seconds.  Thus began the disturbing 2012 trend of routinely including squash matches on PPV.

The one highlight of the evening was the WWE Title match pitting CM Punk against Dolph Ziggler, with GM John Laurinitis serving as the guest ringside enforcer.  I'm not sure what company officials were smoking when they elected to give Johnny Ace an on-air role, but he was terrible.  Like embarrassingly bad at everything.  And this is a guy who used to be a moderately successful wrestler.  This match was fine but the Johnny L bullcrap got in the way and they weren't given enough time to knock one out of the park.  Punk retained at about 14:30.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The History of WWE Royal Rumble, part 8 (2009-2011)

Welcome back to our Royal Rumble History retrospective!  We've come to the end of the 2000s!

Royal Rumble 2009 - Joe Louis Arena - 1/25/09

Here's a rather tepid event if I've ever seen one.  The 2009 Rumble was thoroughly mediocre and frankly not all that memorable.  It had a series of middling undercard matches followed by a Rumble match where nearly all the big names entered early and overstayed their welcome.

The opener was a match for the now-defunct ECW Title, as new monster heel Jack Swagger (a guy in whom I saw tremendous potential at the time) vs. Matt Hardy.  This was a solid match that showcased the All-American American pretty well.

The All-American American, JACK THHHHHHWAGGER!!

Next was a Women's Title match featuring Beth Phoenix defending against Melina.  Your basic six-minute Divas match.  Melina captured the belt.

Third was one of the weaker World Title matches in recent memory as John Cena faced JBL.  This was against the backdrop of a godawful JBL-Shawn Michaels feud, in which Michaels supposedly had financial problems and was hired by JBL to help him win the World Title.  First off, Shawn had been a WWE employee on and off for 20 years and was easily one of the higher-paid stars in 2009.  Are we supposed to believe he's in such financial peril he'd accept a manservant position working for another wrestler?  The feud was awful and this match was devoid of suspense since obviously JBL wasn't winning the Championship.

The best undercard match of the night was WWE Champ Jeff Hardy defending against Edge.  This was a well-worked 19-minute match with a lame ending.  It was rumored leading into this that the returning Christian would interfere and cost Jeff the Title, leading to a feud between them.  Instead WWE opted to have Matt Hardy (who had just wrestled earlier as a babyface) turn against Jeff so they could fight at 'Mania, and then make up a month later.  Nevermind that Edge's longtime best friend Christian would have a much more logical reason for helping Edge.  The Hardy vs. Hardy feud yielded a couple decent PPV matches but was a terribly ill-conceived angle.

The Rumble match itself had a strong cast of characters but unfortunately too many of the top stars entered early in the bout and almost all of them lasted well over 30 minutes (four of them lasted over 45!).  The result was a Rumble with the same faces being present throughout the duration and essentially no potential winners entering during the later portions.  Look, I'm all for having one or two guys last a long time in the Rumble but when it's six or seven it removes the specialness of the accomplishment.  If all the top guys can stay in 30-45 minutes, the Rumble must not be that grueling a match.  It was a different way of booking the Rumble but overall I didn't think it worked.  The final four were Orton and his two Legacy partners Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase, against Triple H.  Hunter somehow survived this 3-on-1 scenario long enough to dump out Cody and Ted, but was ultimately ousted by Orton.  The next two months featured a ludicrously-booked Triple H-Randy Orton feud culminating in one of the worst-received WrestleMania main events in history.

....And that's for kickin' me out of Evolution!!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The History of WWE Royal Rumble, part 7 (2006-2008)

Welcome back to and our Royal Rumble History!  We've entered the John Cena Era!

Royal Rumble 2006 - American Airlines Arena - 1/29/06

Aaaaand we're back to another one-match Rumble PPV.  The 2006 edition featured a flat-out abysmal undercard with not one but two shitty Title matches, BOTH OF WHICH went on after the Rumble itself.  That's correct, the Royal Rumble went on fourth out of six.  Unbelievable.

The show opened with a decent enough Cruiserweight Six-Way match, as Kid Kash defended against Gregory Helms (having shed his Hurricane gimmick), Funaki, Nunzio, Jamie Noble and Paul London.  This went just shy of eight minutes but was a fun opener.  Helms got the pin to capture the Title and was set up for a promising heel run.  Unfortunately, as was common with Cruiserweight Champions, the company more or less forgot about him.

Next was a nigh unwatchable women's match as hot new heel Mickie James (who was amazing in this role) faced glorified model Ashley Massaro, with Women's Champ Trish Stratus as guest referee.  Utterly pointless, and even a talented worker like Mickie couldn't carry Ashley to a passable bout.  But ya know, Ashley was on the cover of Playboy so they had to feature her heavily.

Another throwaway was next as The Boogeyman defeated former WWE Champion JBL in just under two minutes.  The Boogeyman character was cartoonish but well executed, however the performer Marty Wright couldn't wrestle a lick.  Just dreadful.

Fourth out of six was the Rumble match.  This edition centered around the tasteless exploitation of Eddie Guerrero's death two months earlier, as Rey Mysterio had begun dedicating everything he did to Eddie, repeatedly talking to the ceiling on camera.  Mysterio delivered a career performance here though, drawing number 2, going coast-to-coast, and breaking Chris Benoit's longevity record.  The match boiled down to Rey, Triple H (who drew #1), and Randy Orton.  Rey as usual played the underdog to perfection, outmaneuvering both heels to win the match.  This appeared to be setting up Rey vs. Kurt Angle at WrestleMania, which would've been spectacular, but unfortunately the company added Randy Orton to the World Title mix and then only gave the three guys 9 minutes at 'Mania.  Rey would go on to have one of the worst World Title runs ever booked.  Anywho, this Rumble match was well-done and made Rey look great for one night at least.  Other highlights included the returning Rob Van Dam, and both members of MNM having impressive stints.

Rey beat two-thirds of Evolution in one match.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The History of WWE Royal Rumble, part 6 (2003-2005)

Here we go with Part 6 of The History of WWE Royal Rumble!

Royal Rumble 2003 - FleetCenter - 1.19.03

What a perfect illustration of how much better Paul Heyman's Smackdown was than RAW in 2003.  The '03 Rumble holds a special place for me because I was in attendance.  The WWE product at this point had spectacular highs coupled with absolutely dreadful lows, and this PPV showcased both.

The big story of this Rumble was the mega-face push of Brock Lesnar, who had been betrayed by Paul Heyman two months earlier (in one of the most nonsensical angles of the era), and who was now returning from a brief injury.  The opening match was a Rumble qualifier between Lesnar and The Big Show which, while better than their Survivor Series '02 encounter was still only about six minutes.  But it accomplished what it needed to and provided a decisive win for Lesnar on his way to the Rumble.

Next was a Tag Title throwaway - The Dudley Boyz defeated William Regal and Lance Storm for the straps.  This was inoffensive but pretty dull.

Third was the culmination of probably the worst storyline of 2002 - Torrie Wilson vs. Dawn Marie.  Weeks earlier it was revealed that Dawn had been banging Torrie's father Al, and there was a storyline wedding complete with Al Wilson stripping down to his skivvies (Just what we all wanted to see!).  A week or so later Al "died" while he and Dawn were on their honeymoon, specifically during the physical act of love.  Torrie blamed Dawn for killing her father and thus we were subjected to this matchup.  Three and a half minutes of pointless.

But at least Torrie vs. Dawn was bad and short, unlike our next bout.

The World Championship would be decided between Triple H and the latest WCW import, Scott Steiner.  Steiner had debuted awkwardly at Survivor Series and after a pretend bidding war between the WWE brands, showed up on RAW and announced that he was contracted to get a Title shot.  Now I could be wrong about this but I'm pretty sure he didn't wrestle a single solitary match leading up to this one.  And it's clear no one in WWE bothered to watch any of his late WCW bouts, because I can't imagine he'd have been in line for a main event push based on any of those "classics."  The RAW team must've been desperate for someone to feud with Hunter, since they'd buried all the top babyfaces over the previous four months.  I guess maybe they should've presented Booker, Kane or RVD as worthy challengers at Survivor Series, hmm?  It was also baffling that they took this Big Poppa Pump character, a 'roided-up freak who used uncomfortable sexual humor to get crowd heat, and tried to make him a likable babyface.  There was nothing heroic about Scott Steiner in this incarnation, and therefore no reason to want to see him beat up Triple H.  Plus the horrific buildup to this match consisted of posedowns, arm wrestling challenges and gibberish Steiner promos, resembling a late 80s Ultimate Warrior feud, and not in a good way.

How much did these two spend on PEDs that year?

During the match intros the live crowd gave Steiner a lukewarm reception and popped pretty big for Hunter despite him being the heel.  But their reaction changed within the first few minutes of the match, when it became clear what a shit-show we were all watching.  By the end of this clumsy, repetitive crapfest the entire FleetCenter audience was booing both guys, and after botching some suplexes and being clearly winded for much of the bout, Steiner's days as a main event babyface were numbered. 

Look it's Kurt Angle slapping the Anklelock on some dude.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Movie Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

At the risk of sounding imprudent, I think the Best Picture Oscar for 2017 has been decided, in my mind at least.  I still have a lot of catching up to do with the current crop of Oscar bait movies, but I frankly can't fathom a 2017 film outshining Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.  Martin McDonagh's black comedy powderkeg is a Coen-esque masterpiece, boasting an absolutely stacked cast, a sardonic, brutally frank sense of humor, multiple knife-twisting plot turns, and maybe most significantly a career highlight lead performance from Frances McDormand.  Sweet Jeezus this movie's brilliant.

Three Billboards concerns a divorced mother, Midred Hayes, whose daughter Angela was raped and killed months earlier, now outraged that the murderer has still not been found.  She rents out the titular billboards near her house, asking the local sheriff (a compelling-as-always Woody Harrelson) why he hasn't done anything about it.  This throws the town into an uproar, as Mildred's ad campaign is seen as an attack on law enforcement, and the pressure is on to solve the case but also to punish Midred's impudence.  What follows is a contentious, often violent power struggle, during which we're treated to one unforgettable scene after another and introduced to numerous memorable characters.  There's the dimwitted loose cannon Deputy Dixon (an Oscar-worthy Sam Rockwell), who's already been accused of torturing black suspects, or Mildred's abusive ex-husband Charlie, who sides with the police and blames Midred for Angela's death, or Red, the mealy-mouthed advertising agent from whom Mildred rents the billboards and who the police pressure to revoke her lease.  It's rare to find this deep a roster of supporting characters.

I won't go into much more plot detail than that; part of the joy and sadness in watching this film lies in the numerous surprises.  The story does not at all unfold the way one would expect, the script finds laughs in some very unexpected places, and high tension between characters is conjured before you even know what hit you.

Thematically the films deals with the senselessness of tragedy, our powerlessness in the face of it, and both the destructiveness and effectiveness born of carrying around all that anger.  Mildred is a pillar of righteous rage, bringing to task a local police force that seems too busy harassing local citizenry to be interested in solving her daughter's murder.  In her mind she has nothing left to lose, which manifests as a pervading aura of anarchic free will.  No matter what the police or anyone else threatens her with, she is not in the least bit intimidated.  Mildred acts the way we all wish we could when confronted with injustice; her anger gives her incredible power.

There's nary a misstep in the performances either.  Sam Rockwell nearly steals the show as the loathsome, degenerate Deputy, revealing sympathetic character traits that confound expectations.  Harrelson as Police Chief Willoughby could've been a villainous hick caricature, but instead is both authoritative and reasonable.  John Hawkes as Charlie is hardened and frightening, a violent bastard of a husband.  And McDormand.....Frances McDormand's terse, internalized performance is awe-inspiring and may be the best of her career.

Martin McDonagh has amazingly taken seemingly divergent narrative tones and woven them together to make a uniquely hilarious, unnerving, heartbreaking film.  If there's a better movie than Three Billboards in 2017 I can't wait to see it.

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

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Friday, January 5, 2018

NJPW WrestleKingdom 12 Review

Well.  That show took some unexpected turns, didn't it?  Like The Last Jedi, WrestleKingdom 12 left more than a few people scratching their heads, as what seemed a slam-dunk main event result ended up not happening.  Ya know what though?  I'm puzzled by it, but I'm not sad about it.  More on that in a bit.

New Japan's flagship PPV is in the history books, and all told it was one helluva good show.  The nine matches on the main card ranged from inoffensive to pretty awesome.  While WK12 lacked for me that one blowaway match, it was a newsworthy show with a ton of variety (in the same way the WK9 card had lots of different match types), and while a bit of an endurance test (The shortest bout was over 14 minutes), never got boring (unlike WrestleMania cards these days).  There was no intermission and the matches were presented one after the other without a lot of wasted time in between.

The show kicked off with the Jr. Tag Team Titles, as RPG3K defended against The Young Bucks.  The match, like its WK11 counterpart, was much more psychology-based than your average Jr. Tag match, as the Bucks and Sho/Yoh waged a war of attrition, one man from each team selling a back injury.  I especially liked the exchanges where Nick and Sho took turns kicking the injured backs of their respective opponents.  This match got a robust 18 minutes before the Bucks hit Yoh with the Meltzer Driver and finally tapped him with a Sharpshooter.  The ending felt a little flat to me but otherwise this was a fine opening match.  I assume RPG3K will chase the belts for a few months before regaining them.  I'd like to see the Bucks move up to the heavyweight tag division after that.

Next up was the one skippable match, the 6-man gauntlet.  This was mostly pretty nondescript but also inoffensive.  The first segment involved Suzuki-Gun against War Machine and Michael Elgin.  This had some fun exchanges and ended in roughly six minutes with Zack Sabre causing Rowe to pass out with a leg scissor.  Ishii/Yano/Beretta then made quick work of SG when Yano rolled up Taichi for the pin forty seconds later.  A few minutes after that Yano pinned Taguchi with another rollup.  Finally the champs, Fale and Guerrillas of Destiny arrived and had the longest segment of the match, looking pretty dominant for a while but ultimately losing the straps as Beretta polished off Tama Tonga with a Dudebuster.  So new six-man champs as per usual.  Again, this match was skippable but fine for what it was.  If this is the worst thing on your PPV, you've put together a pretty damn good PPV.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

NJPW WrestleKingdom 12 Preview & Predictions

3, Koraku 1-chrome, Bunkyo, Tokyo Japan
The Home of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Yomiuri Giants
42,000 seats
The Big Egg
The Motherfucking Dome.

January 4th is around the corner. The culmination to a year of storylines brings us back to Tokyo.  We've seen Young Lions Return completely changed, cried together as someone fought for his life, been amazed (and some appalled) as a foreigner came in and fired the first shot in his war, and the stage is set to pay off what's my pick for the greatest redemption story in Pro Wrestling this Millennium. Every title in New Japan's power is on the line, with one non-title match, and only one schmozz with nothing behind it. It looks to be,  I'm sure this has been said every year for a while now, the biggest and most important Dome show to date.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles [1st Title Defense]
Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (c) vs. Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson)

Landon: Sho and Yoh came back late this year, and shocked the system in the Junior Heavyweight scene. Winning the titles in their first match back, and in their next three bouts as a team, won the Super Jr. Tag Tournament. Now we have the biggest challenge of their run, The Young Bucks. This match could go either way, seeing how much everybody fawns over Matt and Nick, but I hope it ends up being Roppongi 3K defending. It could be a capstone to a solidifying moment that makes them the new, hot, domestic team, which is something this company needs bad.

Justin: The company has strapped rockets to Sho and Yoh's backs, booking them to win the Jr. Tag belts in their debut match as a team and also booking them to win the Jr. Tag tournament.  I see no reason to put the brakes on now.  RPG3K retains.

NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Title Gauntlet [1st Title Defense]
BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (c) vs. CHAOS (Beretta, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano) vs. Juice Robinson, Ryusuke Taguchi & Togi Makabe vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Takashi Iizuka & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) & Michael Elgin

Landon: Bullet Club retains. Who could possibly care.

Justin: Another clusterfuck gauntlet for the 6-man straps.  This set of belts is quite meaningless now, to the point that LIJ more or less had to lose them in order to go for the real tag belts.  It also bugs me that Tomohiro Ishii has nothing better to do, for the second year in a row, than be in a multi-man schmozz.  But whatever, this is the only potential throwaway on the entire PPV, so I'm not that upset about it.  War Machine is apparently WWE-bound (Goddammit), so they aren't winning here.  Any of the other teams could walk away with the belts.  These matches almost never favor the champions, but I could see them retaining.  Keep 'em on Bullet Club Team Tonga.