Friday, November 30, 2018

Top Ten Things: Marx Brothers Films

Welcome to Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com, where I talk about things.  Ten things.  The top ten things.  See?


Today what's on my brain is the Marx Brothers.  You know 'em, you love 'em.  Groucho!  Chico!  Harpo!  Zeppo (sometimes)!  Born Julius, Leonard, Adolph (later Arthur), and Herbert, the Marxes (along with a fifth brother Gummo) honed their craft for years on the Vaudeville circuit before gaining notoriety with three Broadway hits, and from there they swept the nation as movie stars.  Boasting incredible onscreen chemistry fueled by Groucho's unparalleled wit, Chico's hilariously sleazy Italian character, and Harpo's astonishing gift for pantomime, the Marx Brothers left an indelible mark on both cinema and comedy, with a 15-year film career that spawned numerous timeless classics.

Here are the Marx Brothers' ten best films, according to me....




10. The Big Store


The Marxes' intended final film was this 1941 farce set in a department store whose co-owner has hired private detectives (Groucho, Harpo & Chico) to investigate a plot by the store manager to murder her nephew.  It lacks the urgency and inventiveness of their prime years but does include its share of silly set pieces one would expect from a Marx Brothers movie.  The Marxes would come out of retirement to make A Night in Casablanca in 1947 (after Chico revealed he owed large gambling debts), but The Big Store was billed as their swan song.





9. Room Service


Based on a 1937 play, Room Service was the only Marx film not written specifically for the brothers.  It concerns a stage producer and his ragtag crew going to any lengths necessary not to be evicted from their hotel room before the opening performance, and while fairly screwball, features the Marx Brothers at their most restrained.  This was also the first Marx film to abandon the traditional character relationships between Groucho, Harpo and Chico.  In this film Harpo and Chico's characters work for Groucho and the three are in cahoots from the start; in this respect as much as any other, Room Service doesn't quite feel like a Marx film, but it does at least feature a little of their trademark onscreen mischief.





8. Monkey Business


The first Marx film not based on a play was their third overall, about four stowaways who run amok on a cruise ship and fall in with two separate warring gangs.  Monkey Business is a rather odd film, in that a story arc is put into place but multiple threads are left unresolved, such as the protagonists evading the authorities, Groucho's romance with Thelma Todd's character, the aftermath of the kidnapping and rescue of Joe's daughter, etc.  Also notable about this film is the lack of musical numbers other than Chico and Harpo's instrumental solos.  Monkey Business is definitely my least favorite of the Paramount movies and I can't help wondering why they didn't instead make a film version of I'll Say She Is, particularly given the way they shoehorned in the Maurice Chevaille bit from that play.  Still this movie isn't without its charm.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Top Ten Things: Wrestling Entrance Themes

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

Today I'm looking at the all-time greatest wrestling entrance themes!


Entrance themes are such an integral part of establishing a character it's hard to imagine a time before they were universal.  When I started watching this wacky fake sport in 1986 only certain acts were given entrance music.  Mostly it was headliners and championship contenders, otherwise guys came to the ring to only the ambient arena noise.  Most puzzling is the fact that perennial attraction Andre the Giant never had an official entrance theme (Toward the end of his career Vince McMahon's "Stand Back" became his them for video packages, but it wasn't used for his actual ring entrance).  There were other times when a piece of music was intended for one wrestler but co-opted for someone else.  Hulk Hogan's "Real American," a theme we now consider inseparable from the man, was originally written for the US Express (Mike Rotundo & Barry Windham).  Kurt Angle's theme, repurposed by the fans as "You Suck," was once the entrance music for "The Patriot" Del Wilkes.  Then of course there was Jimmy Hart's "Crank It Up," recorded for the Piledriver album, which the Young Stallions "stole" for their own use.  I always got a kick out of that one.

At any rate, a wrestler's entrance theme can say so much about them.  It can help illustrate what type of persona they use.  If the music is dark and foreboding, the character probably is too.  If the music is bombastic and upbeat, the character probably has a loud personality.  When done correctly, the first note of a wrestler's theme can send the crowd into a tizzy, and can be just as important a part of the fans' experience as seeing that person in the ring.

The following ten themes exemplify these qualities.  In each case the entrance music has become forever linked to that character, evoking a massive crowd response every time it blares through those arena speakers.





10. Chris Jericho - "Break the Walls Down"



Beginning with one of the coolest sound effects ever designed, Jericho's entrance theme originally counted down a "Millennium Clock" before exploding into a Rage Against the Machine-esque slow rocker that also seems to have a bit of Beastie Boys influence.  Between the lyrical references to metal bands and the conjured image of walls being broken down, this song conveys Jericho's iconoclastic ring persona brilliantly.





9. Finn Balor - "Catch Your Breath"




This one takes a while to get going, but man, when it does it's pure detuned metal awesomeness.  Boasting an anvil-to-the-skull, stomp-worthy guitar riff followed by a choral chant, this intimidating theme does everything great entrance music should.  It sets the tone for the character, it imprints itself on your brain, and it encourages audience participation, as the crowd chants and gestures along with Balor.  This is my favorite current wrestling theme.




Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Rocky IV

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!  Today I'll be talking about one of the most popular installments in the Rocky franchise, the one that probably most evokes 80s nostalgia, and certainly the most dialed-up of all the films.  It's east vs. west.  It's America vs. Russia.  That's right, it's Rocky IV!


After regaining the world boxing championship from Clubber Lang at the end of Rocky III, Mr. Balboa settles into semi-retirement, content to enjoy his life as a wealthy family man.  But when a monstrous Russian boxer named Ivan Drago throws his hat into the US boxing ring, Rocky's best friend Apollo Creed will not stand for it.  No sir.  Creed challenges the young powerhouse to an exhibition fight, things go horribly wrong, and Rocky finds himself in enemy territory, face-to-face with his most intimidating opponent yet.

Like the previous three installments, Rocky IV was a major box office success and everyone remembers it fondly.  Everyone except me apparently.  There's a lot, repeat, A LOT wrong with this film, and for me it doesn't hold up very well at all compared to the first three.  Sooo, let's break this sumbitch down and see what went wrong....




The Awesome


Rocky Nostalgia

I'm a big fan of the Rocky series (particularly the first three films and Rocky Balboa), so even despite all its flaws it's hard to not want to watch this movie when I get done with III.  I also have fond childhood memories of seeing this one in the theater with my parents.  We were on vacation in Newport, RI and it was a snowy November evening.  We were looking for something to do and my sister and I both lobbied intensely to see Rocky IV.  My parents reluctantly obliged, and at the time my sister and I loved this stupid movie.




The Fight

As absurdly over-the-top as the big Rocky-Drago fight sequence is, it's shot and edited with Stallone's usual slick sensibilities and for the time it made for a pretty epic climax.  Drago beats the shit outta Rocky for 15 rounds but can't put him away, Rocky's iron jaw keeps him in the fight and he manages to score the knockout right at the end.  It's basically a one-dimensional version of the second Apollo fight but it's well photographed and choreographed.

I'm thinking he didn't actually connect with that one.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Movies of Disbelief: Star Wars (1977)

Welcome to another Movies of Disbelief here at Enuffa.com!  It's time to discuss an unnecessarily major beef I have with one of my favorite films.....


Star Wars.  Just saying those two little words conjures up so much imagery, nostalgia, and special effects badassery.  In 1977 George Lucas dropped perhaps the greatest-ever 200-megaton awesome-bomb on the world, in the form of his sci-fi/fantasy swashbuckler, introducing us all to iconic characters Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and of course Darth Vader.  If you didn't grow up with Star Wars in your life, I'm sorry, your childhood was trash.  This film and its two sequels shaped so many lives, and eventually spawned a bona fide pop culture empire (See what I did there?) that keeps churning out new material every year.

So yeah, it's safe to say I'm a Star Wars fan.  No, scratch that, I'm a Star Wars OG.  I've been in Star Wars Heaven since '77.  Well probably more like '79, I was only 18 months old when the first movie came out.  As far as I'm concerned the original film is still the best of the entire franchise.  Empire is a damn close second, but to me A New Hope is one of the most perfect cinematic experiences ever crafted.  And it's Unaltered or nothing by the way, none of that Special Edition bullshit.  I don't need to see cartoon Jabba showing up or a CG-cluttered Mos Eisley, and don't even get me started on Greedo.  If you believe the updated version of that scene is superior to Han blasting Greedo through the fucking pelvis unprovoked, you should check directly into a home for the criminally insane, as you are a danger to both yourself and others.

Take this shit right here, put it in a box, and throw it in the fucking ocean.

Anyway, even though Star Wars is one of my absolute favorite films ever made in this or any universe, there are nonetheless a few plot contrivances numerous people have pointed out, and that was even before Lucas completely fucked up the continuity with Special Editions and prequels.  The first and perhaps most frequently cited is when C-3P0 and R2-D2 launch an escape pod from Tantive IV and the Imperial gunners decide not to shoot it down, something which would have prevented the entire film from happening.  Way to cover your bases, assholes.  Another is, why didn't the Death Star just blow up the planet of Yavin, thus destroying the fourth moon and the Rebel Base with it, instead of taking the time to orbit around and allow the Rebels a chance to attack?  But these nitpicks are forgivable considering how fantastic the rest of the movie is.

I hope these two nitwits got Force-choked
and then Vader peed on their dead bodies.

Where I draw the line though is at Luke keeping the surname Skywalker despite being raised in hiding from his now evil father and the more evil Emperor.  Twenty years earlier Luke and his twin sister were separated and reared by different families so as not to pop up on Vader's radar (That almost rhymes).  Leia became Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan.  But not only did they send Luke to Vader's home planet of Tatooine, they called him Luke SKYWALKER, after his father.  Real nice subterfuge, dummies.  Wait a second though, Luke grew up with his "uncle" Owen Lars, whom he was raised to believe was Anakin's brother, yes?  So why the hell wasn't he called Luke Lars?  And if Luke thinks Owen is his actual uncle, how did they explain to him why his father's surname wasn't also Lars?  Maybe they shared with him the terribly uninteresting saga of the time Anakin showed up at the Lars homestead and brought his dead mother home, and then left?  Jeezus what a boring bedtime story.  "Uncle Owen, how come my name is Skywalker?"  "Well Luke, your dad's mom married my dad.  I only met him for ten minutes and frankly didn't know him from Adam.  He was exactly nothing to me.  So forget all that stuff I told you about how he went off to war and I resented him for it.  'Twas all pure nonsense that homeless hippie Ben told me to tell you.  Here's what really happened, my stepbrother showed up, asked about his mom, buried her corpse in the backyard over there, and then skipped town with our protocol droid.  Wait, DID I JUST BUY BACK MY OWN FUCKING PROTOCOL DROID??  Son of a two-dollar whore!!!"

God I hate the prequels....


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Monday, November 26, 2018

Movie Review: Creed II (2018)


Like its original hero, the Rocky franchise simply will not stay down.  And that, as it turns out, is a good thing.  After 2006's Rocky Balboa shockingly proved a wonderful return to form (Rocky IV and V are both terrible films, let's be honest), and then 2015's Creed spinoff took the franchise in a whole new direction, I learned to never again bet against this film series.

Creed II picks up three years after Creed; Apollo's son Adonis has recovered from his split-decision loss in the first film and become a top contender, ousting over-the-hill Danny Wheeler for the Heavyweight Title, and proposing to his girlfriend Bianca.  Halfway across the world Ivan Drago (an uncannily compelling Dolph Lundgren) has been training his son Viktor to be the same type of in-ring killing machine he himself was 30 years ago.  Viktor challenges Creed for a shot at the title and the battle lines are drawn for a sequel to the first tragic Drago-Creed fight from Rocky IV.  I won't go into plot specifics beyond that, but suffice it to say this film is predictable in that same good way all the other Rocky films are, while further developing these well-drawn characters.  Director Steve Caple Jr. and screenwriters Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone have crafted yet another moving, highly entertaining chapter in the Rocky saga that hits all the familiar notes while throwing in some nice new passages.

This film amazingly adds depth to the silly, one-dimensional romp that was Rocky IV by exploring the consequences of Ivan Drago's two fights in that film.  Set off by a television appearance of Viktor, Adonis becomes haunted by his father's death going unrevenged, while Drago's loss to Rocky in 1985 has left him disgraced and divorced; his obsession with Viktor finishing what he started has all but eaten him alive since.  The script gives father and son Drago a conflicted relationship - Ivan's brutal training borders on torture, while Viktor can't fathom seeking admiration from people he doesn't respect.  The intervening years have somehow made Dolph Lundgren an absolutely fascinating figure; I found myself unable to take my eyes off his weathered face that wordlessly conveyed shame, longing for esteem, and a buried affection for his son.  That Creed II lends Rocky IV so much purpose has to be considered a triumph in itself.

On Adonis's side of things, the film examines his increasingly complicated home life (Bianca finds out she is pregnant and fears the baby will inherit her hearing issues) and his relationship with Rocky, who urges him not to get in the ring with the son of his father's killer.  Michael B. Jordan is once again a sympathetic and at times misguided hero, while Stallone continues to find new corners to explore in the lovable Philly street fighter he created 40+ years ago (the running theme this time around is strained father-son relationships).  Rocky's training regimen here involves teaching Creed how to adapt to the most unforgiving conditions and absorb more punishment than he ever thought possible, making the climactic showdown a punishing war of attrition.

Creed II incorporates story elements from Rocky II, III and IV, while continuing to forge its own path in developing the the two lead characters.  It may tread some familiar ground as its predecessors have all done, but in the end it's a very worthy entry in a series that seems determined to go the distance.

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


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Mass Music Review #3: The Modern Lovers

Welcome to another Mass Music Review here at Enuffa.com, where our friend Chris Gillespie looks back at a seminal Massachusetts-based band of yesteryear.....



The brainchild of Natick native Jonathan Richman, The Modern Lovers ironically was born of his failure to make it as a professional musician in New York City while living on the couch of Steve Sesnick, the manager of the band with whom he was infatuated: The Velvet Underground. Richman spent nine months in New York and would go on to live in the infamously poorly kept Hotel Albert, but would later return to his home state and settle in Boston following a trip to Europe and Israel.

The "classic" lineup from left to right: David Robinson, Jerry Harrison, Ernie Brooks, and Jonathan Richman

Deciding to organize a band modelled after the Underground, Richman recruited his childhood neighbor and friend John Felice on guitar. Following this, the duo quickly recruited drummer David Robinson and bass player Rolfe Anderson to the newly christened Modern Lovers. In September of 1970, the group played their first date with another local band called the Sidewinders only a month after Richman had returned home. From the beginning, it was clear that Richman had a unique manner about him during performances: he had short hair while wearing a tie and jacket and would often improvise new lyrics and monologues for different shows.

Young Jonathan Richman during the band's heyday

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Top Ten Things: WWF Saturday Night's Main Event Matches

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things here at Enuffa.com, where I count down the ten best (or worst) items pertaining to something-or-other....


Today I'm talking about what used to be, for me growing up at least, the greatest wrestling show on television, Saturday Night's Main Event.  For those not familiar with the show (I'm not sure I wanna know you), Saturday Night's Main Event aired a few times a year on NBC during Saturday Night Live's timeslot and usually featured four or five matches taped a few weeks earlier.  This was back when you almost never saw real matches on free television, as the weekly shows generally consisted of quick squash matches designed to draw ticket buyers to local house shows.  But every couple months we were treated to a handful of competitive bouts between top stars, and it was EVENT VIEWING.  As a 12-year-old who never got to see the PPVs until they were available on VHS, seeing Hulk Hogan or Randy Savage or The Ultimate Warrior wrestle a match on free TV was the most monumental thing happening that month.

The show's initial run ended in '92 (following a one-year move from NBC to Fox) before it resurfaced in 2006-07.  Unfortunately by that time the magic was gone, as fans had long been accustomed to seeing big free TV matches every week on RAW and Smackdown.  SNME was clearly a pre-Monday Night War phenomenon and couldn't work in the modern era.  But at the time of its original run it was truly a delight.

Here now are the ten greatest matches in the history of this fantastic show. (Note: for the purposes of this column I've included the air date as opposed to the taping date)





10. Hulk Hogan vs. Big Bossman - 5/27/89


Hogan's first televised WWF Title defense after WrestleMania V was against his old foe The Big Bossman, in a steel cage no less.  At the time I had jumped off the Hogan bandwagon, siding with Randy Savage in the MegaPowers split.  Thus I wasn't terribly excited about this match going in, nor did I care for Hogan's No Holds Barred nemesis Zeus being integrated into WWF storylines.  Zeus attacked Hogan prior to this match to add a little suspense, but it was obvious Bossman wasn't winning the belt here.  However the match itself turned out to be a very entertaining cage brawl, the highlight of which was Hogan suplexing Bossman off the top of the steel structure.  In 1989 that spot was one of the most death-defying things I had ever seen, and it made this a very memorable bout.





9. Mr. Perfect vs. Tito Santana - 7/28/90


On a stacked SNME episode that featured three Title matches, what seemed like a throwaway Intercontinental defense turned out to be a very well-worked, show-stealing match.  This aired a month before Summerslam, and oddly they gave away the scheduled Warrior-Rude PPV main event on this show for free (I know the SS match was in a cage, but still).  So there wasn't much suspense there, and even less in the Tag Team Title match, as Demolition (scheduled to face the Hart Foundation at the PPV) defended against The Rockers here.  But Mr. Perfect, whose Summerslam opponent was up in the air following Brutus Beefcake's infamous parasailing accident, would face the man he defeated to win the vacant I-C Title that April, Tito Santana.  At the time I feared Perfect would drop the Title here, setting up a rematch at the PPV, but with some help from Bobby Heenan ("He's gotta beat you!  You don't hafta beat him!") on the outside, Perfect delivered a successful and enjoyable Title defense.





8. Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff - 1/3/87


At the time this was one of the WWF's biggest televised matches, being the blowoff for the legendary Hogan-Orndorff feud which lasted through most of 1986.  It was also the first steel cage match ever shown on free WWF television, and therefore felt like a huge deal.  While this doesn't get a lot of points for technique, it was a pretty good brawl that led to a false ending, when both men escaped the cage simultaneously.  As I recall this was the first time I ever saw such a scenario, where two different referees declared opposing winners.  The show broke for a commercial and when it resumed the match had been restarted.  This of course led to Hogan getting the clear victory, settling this rivalry and freeing the Champion up for his impending feud with Andre the Giant.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Top Ten Things: Coen Brothers Films

Welcome to Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com, where I'll count down my ten favorite something-or-others....


Today's topic is Joel and Ethan Coen, the co-director brothers who specialize in strange characters, meticulously crafted dialogue, and sometimes head-scratching endings.  The Coens have built a tremendously diverse and idiosyncratic slate of films spanning multiple genres, often involving film noir elements and seedy criminals, but sometimes taking the form of a sardonic comedy or scathing satire.  I've been a fan of theirs more or less since they debuted with Blood Simple, but it was in the mid-90s that Joel and Ethan reached their full potential, and they've helmed multiple classics over the past thirty years.

But which Coen films are the best?  Let's look at the top ten now, shall we?




10. A Serious Man


This uncomfortable dark comedy about a physics professor whose life begins spiraling out of control was quietly nominated for multiple Oscars and largely flew under the radar.  Michael Stuhlbarg stars as Larry Gopnik, a husband and father of two whose wife wants to leave him for his best friend, and whose slightly delinquent kids don't respect him.  Stuhlbarg carries the film with an understatedly comic performance, reacting to each new hardship with annoyed disbelief.  The Larry character reminds me a bit of Barton Fink in that he never seems to give up hope or accept that he's simply screwed.  The film has a philosophical tone but ultimately appears to arrive at the conclusion that bad things sometimes happen to people just because.  An unexpectedly strong inclusion to the Coens' filmography.





9. Raising Arizona


This zany western-comedy stars Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter as a robber and cop, respectively, who inexplicably fall in love and decide to steal a baby from a rich couple who has just had quintuplets.  But soon Cage's ex-cellmates escape prison and pay him a visit, and he goes back to armed robbery, while the baby's actual parents hire a grizzled bounty hunter to retrieve their child.  The film blends screwball elements with those of Mad Max to show off the Coens' bizarre sense of humor, and also marks their first of several brilliant collaborations with John Goodman.





8. Barton Fink


Possibly the weirdest Coen Brothers film is this dark, moody period piece set in 1941, about a playwright-turned-screenwriter plagued with writer's block.  John Turturro's title character lives in a Hollywood hotel and befriends his next door neighbor Charlie (John Goodman), who turns out to be a brutal serial killer.  This psychological drama was written over three weeks while Joel and Ethan struggled to complete the Miller's Crossing script, and though difficult to fully categorize, contains elements of film noir, horror and surrealism.  Barton Fink is read by some as symbolic of the rise of fascism in Eastern Europe, while others see it as a parable about a man trapped in Hell.  Whatever the interpretation, Barton Fink is a darkly unique, haunting entry in the Coen pantheon.



The History of NXT TakeOver: WarGames II

Well WWE's third brand outdid themselves this past weekend, presenting an absolutely fantastic TakeOver special headlined by an EPIC WarGames main event. 


The show opened, unexpectedly, with the originally planned Matt Riddle-Kassius Ohno match, which Triple H admitted publicly was never off the table; rather he didn't want to advertise it and have people pissed off that it only went six seconds.  Thus it was "pulled" from the show so when it did end after one move, the crowd would see it as a bonus match instead of a ripoff.  Riddle cut a promo and challenged Ohno to meet him in the ring for a match, Ohno acquiesed and then ate a running knee, followed by the three count.  This was literally the first Riddle match I'd ever seen, so I'm looking forward to watching him in a full-length match.  NR

The first proper bout was the 2/3 Falls match between Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane.  This was, shall we say, underwhelming.  The action was intense and nonstop, but for a 2/3 Falls match to only go eleven minutes is criminal.  Sane got attacked on the outside by Baszler's two pals Jessamin Duke and Marina Shafir, and fell victim to Baszler's rear naked choke at the two-minute mark.  Sane evened the score only minutes later following an Insane Elbow, but after a ringside brawl involving Duke, Shafir and Io Shirai and Dakota Kai, Sane went for another elbow but got rolled up for the third fall.  Baszler retained and it looks like we'll get a six-woman tag in the near future.  Baszler and Sane work wonderfully together, but for a blowoff of sorts this match deserved to be twice as long.  ***

The rest of the matches on this show were all above ****.

Aleister Black and Johnny Gargano put together an incredible, fast-paced war that went 18 minutes and had nary an ounce of fat.  The strikes on display were crisp and stiff, and both guys looked amazing.  Gargano played the role of the babyface who's lost his way and let his obsession destroy him.  The feud with Tomasso Ciampa poisoned his soul and now he is a violent maniac.  Gargano is fantastic in this persona.  Black was out for revenge and made Gargano pay for his transgressions without coming off as sadistic.  The finish involved Black hitting a Black Mass and holding Gargano upright for a moment just so he could hit a second.  An excellently worked match, and I wonder if we'll see a triple threat with these two and Ciampa in January.  ****1/4


Monday, November 19, 2018

WWE Survivor Series 2018: This. Was. Awesome.

Well I'll be goddammned.  WWE actually pulled off a really great Survivor Series PPV that for me even exceeded the miraculously good show from 2016.  Including the pre-show match (which has to be one of the two or three best pre-show matches of all time), this had three very good elimination matches, four excellent singles bouts and only one throwaway tag match.  In 2018 this is about as good a main roster WWE show as you could ever hope for.  Let's get into it.


I pretty much always skip the pre-shows for these PPVs but since this particular pre-show included my beloved 10-team elimination match I made it a point to watch, and I was glad I did.  While this was obviously no Powers of Pain-Demolition epic from 1988, these ten teams worked their asses off to do something memorable.  The first half felt a bit rushed as teams were getting eliminated pretty quickly, but once it boiled down to New Day & Usos vs. Revival & Gable/Roode, this kicked into high gear.  Loads of crazy offense and dives over/off the top rope (including an absolutely nuts spot where Jimmy Uso German suplexed Gable off the top, onto the pile of guys on the floor).  It boiled down to The Usos vs. The Revival - nice to see Dash & Dawson make it to the end - and Jimmy & Jey hit their superkicks followed by a top-rope splash to win the whole thing.  Just a damn fun opener that won the crowd over (WWE should hold every PPV at the Staples Center, by the way; this crowd was awesome).  ***1/2


The proper PPV opened with the women's elimination match, and this was roughly on par with the 2016 edition.  Some last minute changes improved the match, as Nattie and Ruby Riott were subbed out after a locker room fight in favor of Sasha and Bayley (nothing against Nattie and Ruby, but you can't omit Sasha and Bayley in one of these things).  Mandy Rose disappointingly ended up being the mystery partner for Smackdown, but she at least earned her keep in this match.  Of course the match started with two "shocking" quick eliminations.  WWE has to stop doing this - both main card elimination matches had them and they never get the desired reaction.  They seemingly set up dissension between Rose and Sonya Deville, as Rose stole a pin on Mickie James after Deville leveled her with a sliding knee.  Sasha tapped out Mandy with a Bank Statement and Bayley and Sonya got double counted out.  This paved the way for a super engaging exchange between Sasha and Asuka that lasted a good four minutes.  I'm hoping Sasha gets moved to Smackdown so we can actually see this feud.  More on that later.  Sasha gained the upper hand and climbed to the top rope only for Nia Jax to push her off into a waiting Asuka, who slapped on the Asuka Lock for the tap out.  Nia then pounced on Asuka with three legdrops, followed by a Samoan Drop for the win.  Nia had nuclear heel heat coming off her injury of Becky Lynch.  I'm torn on the idea of exploiting a real-life injury to get someone else over, but I guess that's kinda the nature of the biz, and I have to commend Nia for running with it so well.  She came off like a total asshole here.  Very enjoyable match to open the main card.  ***1/2


Next up was a top contender for Match of the Night, as Seth Rollins faced Shinsuke Nakamura.  I daresay this was Nak's best main roster match to date.  He looked a lot like his old NJPW self here, pulling out every move in his arsenal and played the antagonist to the hilt.  The first half of the match was a little slow in spots and they struggled to keep the crowd into it, but in the second half everything picked up tremendously.  They built to a furious pace by the end, trading finisher attempts and counters, and finally Nak went for a Kinshasa but missed, allowing Seth to hit the Curb Stomp for the win after 22 minutes.  I was very happy to see this get the time it deserved and even happier to see Nakamura look really motivated again.  This was pretty excellent.  ****1/4



Friday, November 16, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com, where I examine the pros and cons of an entertaining-but-stupid movie.  Oft-times it'll be an old film I liked at the time but later discover to be pretty shabby.

Such is the case with today's entry, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey!


In 1988 the world was introduced to two lovable dunderheads with a taste for hard-rockin' music, Bill S. Preston, esquire, and Ted "Theodore" Logan, who as it turns out were destined to change the world with their special brand of heavy metal, if only they could pass their History exam.  With the help of a futuristic mentor and a time traveling phone booth, these two dummies saved the day and secured their future.

Fast-forward three years and our (second) favorite pair of dopey cinematic metal dudes were back, this time fighting for their very lives against evil robot clones created by Chuck De Nomolos, a futuristic heavy with designs on retroactively altering the timeline.  Hmm, evil robots sent back in time to kill the protagonist?  That premise sounds oddly familiar.

So what worked about this silly sequel and what didn't?  Let's zoom in for a closer look...



The Awesome

Cool Premise/Lofty Concepts

Where Excellent Adventure had a very lighthearted, pretty small-scope time travel premise (Bill and Ted need to travel through time and recruit various historical figures for their high school history project to avoid flunking out and derailing their rise to global fame), the second film ups the ante by having the aforementioned evil robots actually kill our heroes, allowing the filmmakers to show us what heaven and hell look like.  Conceptually this is a really fun story with lots of room for imaginative visuals and afterlife-related gags.  Bill and Ted spend over half the movie as wayward spirits and we get to explore various mythical and surrealistic locations with them.



George Carlin

My all-time favorite standup comedian returns as Bill & Ted's futuristic mentor Rufus, and while his comedic talents are sadly wasted in this franchise, he's always a welcome onscreen addition.

George was the best

Thursday, November 15, 2018

WWE Survivor Series 2018 Preview & Predictions

Yeah, I know, RAW vs. Smackdown is a stupid angle every time they do it.  Babyfaces and heels who have been feuding all year putting their differences aside for brand loyalty makes zero logical sense since both brands are part of the same company and many of these people switched brands within the past seven months anyway.  It's nonsensical.  But ya know what?  I don't care, IT'S SURVIVOR SERIES, BABY!


Since the inception of this PPV I've been a huge sucker for the big elimination matches (as I've mentioned at least once or twice on this site), and if RAW vs. Smackdown is the only way to get Vince to care about the gimmick, then so be it.  But we also have four big Champion vs. Champion matches, all of which have real potential.  On paper, even with this week's changes, Survivor Series looks like the main roster's strongest lineup all year.  I've already gone into the potential ramifications of Daniel Bryan's WWE Title win so check out that column.

Let's get to the picks.

***Guess who just took the lead, bitches!  I have pulled ahead with 67% (61/91), Dan's close behind with 66% (60/91), and Dave & Landon are tied at 64% (58/91).***




Pre-Show Tag Teams Elimination Match: Bobby Roode/Chad Gable, The Revival, The B-Team, Lucha House Party & The Ascension vs. The New Day, The Usos, SAnitY, The Club & The Colons


I'm a little sad this got bumped to the pre-show, as I love the tag team elimination matches when they do them.  The 2016 edition was a fine throwback to the old school Survivor Series shows, and hopefully this will get enough time to be that as well.  Sadly the tag division on RAW is a shambles, with essentially five jobber teams.  Thus Smackdown should run away with this match.  New Day and Usos ought to both be survivors.  This'll be fine if it gets time to breathe.

Justin: Team Smackdown
Dan: Yes'm
Landon: Smackdown
Dave: Smackdown





Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali


This should also get bumped to the pre-show since it has zero to do with the RAW vs. SD theme and only the 205 Live niche gives a shit.  I'm sure the match will be fine, no disrespect to the cruisers, but the company brass obviously don't care about this division so why should I?  Murphy just won this belt so he keeps it here.

Justin: (channeling Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar) Come on, Murph....
Dan: I've never heard of these men.  But I'm going with Murphy because of Robocop.
Landon: Murphy retains
Dave: I guess the champ wins.





Authors of Pain vs. The Bar


It's the RAW tag champs vs. the SD tag champs, and this should be a smashmouth kinda match.  Four power broker brawlers who like to fight stiff.  I can dig it.  This shouldn't go much more than 10-12 minutes of nonstop fighting.

Justin: I'll go with Cesaro & Sheamus
Dan: AOP. Because why not?
Landon: Authors of Pain.  RAW's gotta be strong, bro.
Dave: Authors of Pain


NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2018 Preview & Predictions


Goddamn this show looks great.  Despite only being four matches, this might be the most stacked show in NXT history.  Oddly the NXT Title match is the LEAST interesting of the four, but that should be excellent nevertheless.  This weekend has some serious potential in general, even on the main roster side.

Let's get to pickin'....



Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano


I can't believe Gargano is a heel now.  Apparently the feud with Ciampa broke his soul and made him a violent bastard.  Not a bad story I guess.  I wonder if DIY will eventually reunite as heels.  This match could steal the show given the talent involved, and on this card that's saying something.

Justin: This has to be more than a one-off match, right?  If so, Gargano should win the first go-round.
Landon: Gargano





NXT Women's Championship 2/3 Falls: Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane


I love this.  These two have had two very good outings so far and 2/3 Falls matches when done well are fantastic (Okada-Omega anyone?).  Since there are only four bouts on the show I think this'll get adequate time; I'm thinking in the 25-minute range.  Baszler just regained the title last month so she's gotta retain here.

Justin: Shayna retains
Landon: Shayna


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

New WWE Champion: Did Bryan Danielson Just Debut in WWE?

Well that was certainly a surprise.  As WWE often does, the company shook up the Survivor Series lineup at the eleventh hour, and the for the second year in a row the WWE Title changed hands less than two weeks before the PPV, thus altering one of the top matches.


Daniel Bryan is the new WWE Champion.  Perhaps the most surprising thing to me is how mixed my feelings are about this development.  On one hand, I've been waiting four-and-a-half long years for Daniel Bryan to win back the belt he never lost.  On the other, AJ Styles was so close to eclipsing CM Punk's reign (mid-January would've been the benchmark).  On one hand, Daniel Bryan is now a heel and will undoubtedly be incredibly entertaining in that role (Please please please bring back "I have till five!").  On the other, Styles very possibly would've eked out a win over Brock Lesnar to avenge last year's loss.  On one hand we finally get to see the SummerSlam 2014 main event we were supposed to get.  On the other, that match was designed to be a complete squash and this could be too.  On one hand, this shakeup is super newsworthy and may create loads more interest in Survivor Series.  On the other, it's now kind of a heel vs. heel main event, where it used to be a clear babyface-heel dynamic.  On one hand, Bryan winning the title is a big Smackdown moment obviously engineered to create a can't-miss feel about the show and increase its ratings before Fox takes over.  On the other, they gave away a huge title change on free television with zero buildup.

So yeah, I'm conflicted on the whole thing, but mostly leaning positive.  After all, this ensures the AJ-Bryan feud will continue into December and we should finally see that match on PPV at TLC.  Between that and the likely Ambrose-Rollins match, that PPV is looking pretty sweet right now.  Plus the smart money would be on Bryan keeping the belt till WrestleMania at least, more or less guaranteeing a strong co-main event.

As for Bryan vs. Lesnar, I just want to see a competitive match like Brock vs. AJ was.  I imagine Brock has enough respect for Bryan to not just steamroll the guy, not to mention it would look really lame for a newly turned, newly crowned heel champion to get killed five days later by the other champ (WWE has done more insane things of course).  So I think it's realistic to hope for a reasonably back-and-forth match, especially if Bryan cheats his ASS off.  And on that note, I think Bryan should steal the win here.  Think about it; Bryan is definitely staying with the company for three more years, Brock may not be (no one knows what he's doing after WrestleMania at this point).  Bryan plans on wrestling every PPV and every weekly TV show, Brock won't be back till at least the Rumble.  Have Strowman and AJ both try to cost their respective enemies the match if you have to, have Bryan go full-on Zack Sabre Jr. and try to tie Brock in knots or win with cradles, have him go full Eddie Guerrero and cheat at every turn, I don't care how underhanded it is.  But Bryan should get the cheap win to give him plenty of heat going into TLC, a show Brock isn't wrestling on anyway. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Brewery Reviewery: Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co. (Newport, RI)

Welcome to another Brewery Reviewery, here at Enuffa.com!  I love beer and I love going to the places where they make the beer.  And then I like to write about the places where they make the beer that I love.  This past weekend on our annual trip to Newport, RI I headed over to one of the first breweries I'd ever visited, Newport Storm!


Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co.
293 JT Connell Hwy
Newport, RI 02840

Newport Storm (which now falls under the combined banner of Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co.) was founded in 1999 by a group of friends who had all majored in chemistry, and for years served as the state's only brewery.  They eventually expanded into distilled spirits as well, now offering whiskey, rum, gin, amaro and moonshine.  Their tasting room offers all that, plus a variety of their signature beers, as well as guided (or self-guided) tours around the facility.  The tasting room was always an inviting spot, and recent updates like improved seating and board games have made it even cozier.  I'm not a spirits guy, so I went with a beer flight; of the six options on tap a flight includes four 4 oz. pours for nine bucks, plus if you hold onto your tasting card and present it at Brick Alley Restaurant & Pub (an ever-popular Newport spot) they'll give you a Newport Storm beer on the house with the purchase of an entree.  Can't go wrong there.


Anyway, let's get to the brewskies.  In addition to the four I sampled in the tasting room I purchased two others for take-home enjoyment, and of course cashed in my tasting card at Brick Alley for another....



Saturday, November 10, 2018

Top Ten Things: WWE Survivor Series Teams

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

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

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



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


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




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


This particular concept yielded the Match of the Night at the first two Survivor Series PPVs and I can't believe no effort was made before 2016 to bring it back.  The 1987 20-man match was excellent and highlighted the WWF's robust tag team division.  The 1988 incarnation did it one better, delivering my favorite WWF match of 1988.  The Powers' team included three of the most talented duos in wrestling history - The Harts, The Bulldogs and The Rockers - and looking back now it's stunning to think about how much talent resided in that corner of the ring.  The match eventually boiled down to The Powers vs. Demolition and The Conquistadors, when Demolition's manager Mr. Fuji turned on them before being adopted by the now-heel Powers of Pain.  Probably still my all-time favorite elimination match.




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


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


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Top Ten Things: Metallica Songs

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

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



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



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


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


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


Monday, November 5, 2018

Big NJPW & WWE News from The Weekend

Big weekend for wrasslin' news, folks.  Two major PPV events took place, one good, one embarrassing, but both have some heavy ramifications for the next couple months of matches and angles.  


Power Struggle

First off, NJPW's final major event of the year is in the books, and Power Struggle was a solid show with three very good top matches.  Chris Jericho of course retained the Intercontinental Title over Evil, in a highly entertaining back-and-forth brawl that helped build toward the Jericho-Naito rematch at the Dome.  Evil held his own in his second-ever PPV main event, while Jericho looked good once again working his Terry Funk-esque style.  Post-match Naito stepped up to challenge Jericho for the Dome, and Jericho said he's already beaten Naito and will not be facing him again.  But New Japan announced the match a day later anyway.  That was weird. 


The match of the night for me went to Naito vs. Sabre, a technically dazzling clash of styles typical of Sabre, with Naito struggling throughout to counter Zack's innovative grappling.  Naito worked over Sabre's neck early on, which ended up making the difference, as Zack couldn't lock in his Orienteering with Napalm Death finisher properly.  Naito hit a Destino out of nowhere and followed it up with a second for the win.  A very strong semi-main event match. 

The runner-up was Ishii vs. Suzuki, an absolutely brutal fight that mostly consisted of the two of them standing toe-to-toe and hitting each other as hard as they could.  Just insane strikes in this one.  Ishii outlasted his sadistic opponent to retain the RPW Title.  I'm curious if he'll get to defend it again at the Dome (hopefully against someone like Sabre?).

Hirooki Goto regained the NEVER Openweight Title in another stinker against Taichi.  I'm really not sure what they were thinking putting that belt on Taichi, who's a good chickenshit heel character but all wrong for the NEVER belt.  Goto needs a good opponent for the Dome so that title can get back on track.

The final piece of big news from Power Struggle was RPG3K winning back-to-back Super Jr. Tag tournaments, setting up a rematch of the three-way finals at WrestleKingdom.  Kind of odd that Bushi & Shingo would be included in the Jr. Tag Title match since they lost here, but I'm okay with it.  I called it in my predictions that no matter who won here we'd likely see a rematch at the Dome. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

NJPW Power Struggle 2018 Preview & Predictions

It's the last big stop on the way to the Dome!  Power Struggle is upon us, and on paper looks like a very solid show.  There's no monumental main event match but rather a host of very good uppercard bouts, including the New Japan return of Chris Jericho, defending his Intercontinental Title for the first time.  His presence alone should mean a sellout.


Anyway let's get to this WrestleKingdom 13-shaping show....



Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV, Soberano Jr. & Volador Jr. vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, ACH, Chris Sabin & Toa Henare

It's the leftover Jr guys from the tournament against each other.  Should be a fun opener that goes around 8 minutes.

Justin: Team Liger
Landon: Taguchi Japan





Kushida & GBH vs. Robbie Eagles & Guerrillas of Destiny

This is here to further build the BCOG guys I think.  Should be decent.

Justin: BCOG
Landon: BCOG





Super Jr. Tag League Finals: El Desperado & Kanemaru vs. RPG3K vs. Bushi & Shingo Takagi

We've got a very unusual scenario for this final match, a three-way tie with each team having beaten one of the other two teams.  The winners here (provided it's not Desperado & Kanemaru) will presumably get a title shot at the Dome.  Frankly I'd like to see Sho & Yoh vs. Bushi & Tagaki as the Dome Jr. Tag match.  But I have a feeling they'll set up another three-way somehow.  Anyway this should be fun.

Justin: Bushi & Takagi
Landon: LIJ





Kazuchika Okada & Beretta vs. Jay White & Bad Luck Fale


This one's all just to set up Okada vs. White in January, so we'll get a preview of that match.  Okada-White has potential to be one of the great feuds of 2019.  Beretta's gotta be here just to take the fall I think.

Justin: The New Original Bullet Club
Landon: White kills Beretta


Thursday, November 1, 2018

George Romero's Living Dead Trilogy: Day of the Dead (1985)

Welcome to the final part of my Living Dead Trilogy retrospective.  If you missed Part 1 and Part 2, check 'em out.....



Dawn of the Dead was such a success the distributor, United Film Distribution Company, signed Romero to a three-picture deal, provided that one of those three films would be a sequel to Dawn.  Romero, fearing that if said sequel wasn't a hit he'd lose the chance to direct the two non-zombie films, opted to save it for last.  His next two movies were Knightriders, a Renaissance faire drama which flopped due to poor distribution, and Creepshow, a horror anthology which was a modest hit but by no means a smash.  As a result, UFDC hedged their bets with the Dawn sequel, only willing to adhere to the original $7 million budget if Romero released it as an R-rated film.  Up to this point George had planned for Day of the Dead to be a massive, sweeping zombie epic, "the Gone With the Wind of zombie films," but refused to compromise the intended violence and gore for an R rating.  Thus the budget was slashed in half and Romero was forced to completely overhaul the project.  The resulting film was initially seen as an underwhelming, depressing letdown after the thrill-ride of Dawn, and made most of its money overseas and on home video.  Amazingly though, Day of the Dead has developed an enthusiastic cult following in the thirty-odd years since, in many ways becoming just as influential as its two predecessors.

Day of the Dead takes place a considerable time after Dawn, when the human race is all but wiped out, and only a few pockets of civilization remain, mostly underground.  The story centers around a small military/scientific contingent occupying an abandoned mine, hoping to find some sort of solution to the zombie infestation.  Living conditions are nearly unsustainable and the scientific team is at the mercy of a crazed Captain, who is uninterested in studying the zombies and simply wants to destroy them.  What follows is a power struggle and clash of ideas between the two factions that actually contains more thematic human drama than any other film in the series.

This guy's a whackaloon.

One of the main plot threads concerns the lead scientist, Dr. Logan (a compellingly demented Richard Liberty), who has begun experimenting on zombie specimens, hoping to "tame" them.  His most promising subject is a ghoul called "Bub," who seems to understand/remember how to work basic tools and appears almost civilized.  This subplot exploits a fascinating story element: that the zombies are no longer the bad guys.  Zombies simply act according to their instinctual nature and the only evil left in the world is that which is perpetrated by the survivors.