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.


The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade, part 4 (1992-1994)

The next triumvirate of Starrcades starts off okay before a steep decline in quality....


Starrcade '92 - The Omni - 12/28/92

Well this was a whole lot better.  The previous Starrcade featured ten forgettable, awkward tag matches and a convoluted battle royal main event.  Yes, the Norfolk Scope was dressed up nicely, adding to the splendor of the event, but not one match from that show stood out or warranted a second viewing.  SC'92 on the other hand featured a handful of big matches (two of which were truly inspired) and even though half the card was still taken up by Battlebowl proceedings, the four mongrel tag bouts were concise, fast-paced, and moved along with a purpose.  I still had no interest in the tournament format but Starrcade '92 was a rare show with nary a bad match.  This PPV took place during the Bill Watts era, thus The Omni had a stripped-down, barebones look with gloomier lighting and minimal Starrcade decor.  The focus in 1992 WCW was almost entirely on the action in the ring, and the play-by-play was called by the dream commentary team of Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura.  While their chemistry wasn't as strong as say Jesse & Gorilla or JR & Lawler, I loved hearing these two work together; my favorite play-by-play announcer with my favorite color man.

Side note: I know Rick Rude was injured but where the hell were Steve Austin, Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton??

The first four matches were all Lethal Lottery tag bouts, none of which overstayed their welcome, fortunately, and all of which were at least a little fun on some level.  Cactus Jack teamed with Johnny B. Badd vs. Van Hammer & Dan Spivey in a decent opener with some good wrestling from Team Cactus.  I'm not sure what they were thinking giving Hammer & Spivey the win though; what's the point of two obvious non-winners being in Battlebowl?  Next was Vader & Dustin Rhodes vs. The Barbarian & Kensuke Sasaki in a very entertaining slugfest reminiscent of a Japanese Strong Style match.  This didn't go long but felt urgent.  Vader beat the piss out of Rhodes after getting the win.  The standout of these tag matches was next - The Great Muta & Barry Windham vs. Brian Pillman & 2 Cold Scorpio.  I liked the Muta-Scorpio/Muta-Pillman exchanges a lot; Muta vs. Pillman should've been a major feud at some point.  Another brief match where they crammed in a lot of good action.  Finally we had Sting & Steve Williams vs. Jushin Liger & Erik Watts, which had good wrestling all around except for Watts, who was clearly not ready for prime time but was being pushed due to his father's position as head booker.  Still this was a fine match, particularly when it was Sting vs. Liger.

Lotta talent in that ring.

With the Lottery bouts out of the way the show settled into a more traditional format with four title matches.  First was The Great Muta challenging Masahiro Chono for the NWA World Title (now separated from the WCW version).  I liked this quite well actually.  Nothing about it was mindblowing, and at 12 minutes it couldn't be epic, but it was well-worked by both guys.  Muta unexpectedly submitted to Chono's STF.

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.




The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade, part 3 (1989-1991)

Welcome back!  Starrcade's about to hit a rough patch.  A realllllllly rough patch.....


Starrcade '89 - The Omni - 12/13/89

For Starrcade '89 the NWA inexplicably (for the first of four consecutive Starrcades) went with a non-traditional card format, in this case two round-robin tournaments, one singles and the other featuring tag teams.  I can only assume they got this idea from New Japan's G1 tournament and wanted to try their hand at such a gimmick.  I've already published my own revised version of the show HERE, but in short, there were three major things wrong with using the Iron Man/Team tournament concept at the company's flagship PPV.  1. They'd already given away the blowoff to the year's biggest feud (Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk) on free television a month earlier, so the singles tournament featured no hot rivalries at all.  2. They never made it clear what was at stake in these tournaments other than bragging rights, so the audience had no real reason to invest in the outcome.  3. Twelve matches is a lot for a three-hour PPV.  Oh, and 4. In both tournaments they totally buried someone unnecessarily.

Still this show had a lot to like about it.  Of the twelve matches about eight or nine were watchable or better, and this show marks one of only two times (I think) we ever got to see The Steiners vs. The Road Warriors.  In general the concept of a round-robin tournament is fun and presents some intriguing pairings you wouldn't normally see (just watch some of the recent NJPW G1 tournaments for evidence of that), but Starrcade was just the wrong show for this experiment.  The attendance numbers certainly reflect this; the 17000-seat Omni was only about a third filled, to the point that the house lights had to be dimmed midway through the show to cover up the vast areas of empty seats. 

The singles tourney featured the NWA's top four stars - World Champion Ric Flair, US Champion Lex Luger, and two former TV Champions, Sting and The Great Muta.  On paper every one of the six singles matches should've been gold.  Unfortunately the time contraints (fifteen-minute time limits for all twelve bouts), somewhat hindered the wrestlers' ability to deliver standout matches.  In some cases, mostly those involving Muta, the matches were criminally shortchanged; Flair vs. Muta theoretically could've been the main event of Starrcade had they built it up properly.  In actuality that match was given under two minutes and Muta looked like a chump after it was over.  The innovative, tremendously exciting young Japanese import was jobbed out three times and ended up leaving the company right after Starrcade.  Not the best way to treat one of your top heels of the year.  Flair's other two matches, against Luger and Sting respectively, were both headliner-worthy but not up to their 1988 efforts.  Luger was the only man to go undefeated, beating Sting and Muta and going to a draw with Flair.  But Sting scored a major upset in the final match, defeating his former rival and current mentor Flair with only thirty seconds left in the time limit.  This gave Sting enough points to win the whole tournament, and he was soon named the #1 Contender.  Flair and the Andersons made Sting an honorary Horsemen but soon turned heel on him once the reality of Sting's impending challenge set in.  Had the company made it clear beforehand that the winner of this tourney would receive an automatic title shot, that probably would've gotten people much more interested.  Sadly this wasn't the case, and all Sting officially won that night was a trophy.

It's Champion vs. Champion!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade, part 2 (1986-1988)

Welcome back to The History of Starrcade!

Moving right along to 1986....



Starrcade '86 - Greensboro Coliseum/The Omni -
11.27.86

Starrcade '86 was the first one I was aware of as a wrestling fan.  On Saturday mornings I'd watch World Wide Wrestling and see ads for the VHS release.  I must say those commercials were GOLD.  Whoever put those together had me at "hello."  When I used to watch those Turner Home Entertainment tapes I looked forward to the previews as much as the event itself.

The 1986 edition suffered greatly from its main event plans being derailed only a month out.  Jim Crockett Promotions had intended a major World Title push for Magnum TA, which would've kicked off at Starrcade with a huge win over Ric Flair.  Who knows what would've happened, had that come to fruition.  Magnum was enormously popular, built like a brick shithouse, and had rugged good looks that appealed to a crossover audience.  The NWA could've had another Hulk Hogan on their hands, and may very well have been able to compete with Vince.  But unfortunately it was not to be, as Magnum suffered a career-ending car crash in October, and the promotion had to scramble to put together a new main event for its biggest show of the year.  The bookers cleverly turned Nikita Koloff babyface by having him show compassion and remorse over his longtime enemy's injury.  I like that choice a lot actually.  Thus Nikita took Magnum's place in the main event and became one of the NWA's top faces for the next two years.

The company also put the spotlight on one of the secondary main events, even naming the show after it.  Starrcade '86 was the television debut of the Scaffold Match - a horribly dangerous gimmick bout where the combatants are forced to fight twenty feet above the ring on a three-foot-wide platform.  They renamed it The Skywalkers Match (I wonder if George Lucas ever considered suing) and it took on a pretty mythic quality.  But before we get to the top-billed matches, let's take a look at the rest of the show.  For the second consecutive year Starrcade emanated from both The Omni and the Greensboro Coliseum.

Starrcade '86 opened with Tim Horner & Nelson Royal vs. Don & Rocky Kernodle, which sounds pretty nondescript on paper but featured surprisingly good action and a fast pace.

Next was Jimmy Garvin vs. Brad Armstrong in a very strong undercard bout.  These two had good chemistry and worked hard.  Brad Armstrong was a pretty underrated talent, always good for a solid opening match to rev up the crowd.  This went to a time limit draw which was probably a mistake given its spot on the card.  A blazing ten minute match with a decisive finish would've been more appropriate.  Still, this was good stuff.

The next two matches were throwaway tag bouts - Hector Guerrero & Baron von Raschke vs. Barbarian & Shaska Watley; and Ivan Koloff & Krusher Kruschev vs. The Kansas Jayhawks.  Both were quite forgettable and about the only intrigue came later during the evil Russians' promo on their former friend Nikita.  One thing that I found disturbing was the sound of the live crowd cheering when von Raschke did his goosestep bit.  That's not something a sane person would cheer.

The first of many gimmick matches was next, as Wahoo McDaniel faced Rick Rude in an Indian Strap Match.  While the concept of two enemies bound together is always intriguing, I hate the "touch all four corners" rule.  I find it silly and cumbersome and it really disrupts the flow of the match.  As expected this was mediocre, and I found it strange that both guys were bleeding from a piece of leather.  This would also be the first of many blood-soaked bouts on this card. 

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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The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade, part 1 (1983-1985)

Hey there everyone.  Welcome to Enuffa.com, your home for pro wrestling, movies, music, and other life-altering forms of pop culture.  I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Hey Justin, it's been a while since you posted the complete history of a beloved wrestling supercard.  Can ya help us out?"  You my friends are in luck, because without further ado, I'd like to present.....

The Enuffa.com Complete History of WCW Starrcade!!!




That's right, it's time to hop into the ol' DeLorean and travel back to 1983, when Jim Crockett Promotions envisioned a wrestling event so magnanimous it couldn't be just for the live crowd in attendance.  It had to be broadcast on closed-circuit television throughout the South!  Big wrestling events on Thanksgiving night had long been a tradition in the region, and Crockett correctly surmised that a supercard held on that date would draw big business.  Starrcade '83 is the real Granddaddy of Them All - the first wrestling event broadcast on closed-circuit, and the prototype for the modern PPV event.  The show was a tremendous success, famously causing massive traffic jams in downtown Greensboro, and JCP made Starrcade an annual tradition.  Quickly it became the promotion's flagship event, and by 1987 it was also carried on pay-per-view.  When Ted Turner bought out Jim Crockett in 1988 he kept the Starrcade brand but moved it to December to avoid having to compete with the WWF's Survivor Series, and that's where it stayed until WCW folded in 2001.

So let's look at the highs, lows and everything in between, of Starrcade!



Starrcade '83 - Greensboro Coliseum - 11.24.83

The inaugural Starrcade was by today's standards a very barebones production which featured quite a few obscure names from the early part of the decade.  It was a very uneven show with a pretty forgettable first half.  But it's the final three matches that make Starrcade '83, and they're all first-rate classics of the era. 

The NWA event lineups back then were different from the WWF approach, in that they stuck all the undercard bouts early on the card and saved the important ones for the second half - quite often the last four matches would all be for championships.  By contrast Vince would spread the big matches around to give each show peaks and valleys, often inserting "buffer matches" between some of the headliners.  There are pros and cons to both philosopies of course.

After three matches that could be considered throwaways (The Assassins vs. Rufus Jones & Bugsy McGraw; Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin vs. Scott McGhee & Johnny Weaver; and a brief Abdullah the Butcher-Carlos Colon showdown), the show began for real with a solid tag match: Bob Orton (Randy's dad) teamed with Dick Slater against Mark Youngblood and Wahoo McDaniel.  This was no five-star classic, but it was easily the best match thus far.

Next was a TV Title vs. Mask match between The Great Kabuki and Charlie Brown (actually the "suspended" Jimmy Valiant under a mask).  I've never been much of a Valiant fan, so for me there wasn't much to this, but it does stand as the first-ever championship match on a Starrcade show.
From here on out the show was pure gold.

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

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Worst Thanksgiving EVER

Since Turkey Day is upon us, my associate Dan Moore and I would like to share with you our worst Thanksgiving memories.  Enjoy, if you can.....


Dan's Worst Thanksgiving

Gather 'round children, as I tell you a tale conjured from the combined nightmares of Jason Voorhees, The Babadook and Khloe Kardashian. At a Thanksgiving feast a few years ago, my family trekked to Auntie Patty and Uncle Benny’s house. Uncle Benny was the best cook in the family, and also a true vulgarian, so it was always a blast to eat some bird and listen to him say outrageous things to the old ladies in attendance. A marvelous human being.

A typical Thanksgiving scene welcomed me with open arms as I walked into my aunt’s house. There was bread being baked, glass cornucopias filled with fake fruits, and a banquet table with a giant, steroid-filled turkey and all the fixings. Stuffing, squash (the baby puke of sides), corn, cranberry sauce (the Jell-O from hell) and that’s it. WAIT. WHAT? In one of the most preposterous moves in the history of gluttony, Uncle Benny decided that year NOT to make mashed potatoes. Seriously. Just gone. The fucking glue of the Thanksgiving meal was cast aside like a late hobo at the soup kitchen.


It was, to put it mildly, disappointing. There were many tears shed that day at the lack of the beautiful mound of swirly goodness. We should’ve been laying our heads on the opaque pile of buttery flavor. Instead, we were pelted in the head with starchy, overcooked rocks.  He decided on roasted potatoes that year. ROASTED. The red-headed stepchild of the potato family. Motherfucker coulda thrown French fries my way and I woulda been happier. At least with the abundance of gravy about, I coulda made some poutine. It’s still brought up to this day in our family, and I for one will never forget that blackest of holidays.  It was a truly brutal nut punch. That’s the worst kind of punch. Right on the nut.

The only way that Thanksgiving could’ve been worse:





Justin's Worst Thanksgiving

I got that beat.  I got that beat.

In the late 90s I joined my parents for Thanksgiving at their friends' house.  It was a large gathering, with kids and grandkids running around, making so much noise I couldn't hear myself fantasizing about Steve Austin fighting Bill Goldberg (Listen, you fantasize about what you want to and I'll fantasize about what I want to.  Assholes....).  We proceeded to gather around the two adjacent tables (since there isn't a dining table in the free world big enough to accommodate this bloated roster), and after piling roughly 64 pounds of Thanksgiving accoutrements onto my structurally stressed plate, I discovered to my horror that my hosts did not provide gravy.

I'd like to repeat that last part: DID NOT PROVIDE GRAVY.


What kind of Communist jamboree had I been dragged to where I'm expected to eat white-meat turkey (typically the dryest of meats) without drizzling a gushing torrent of scrumptious, buttery, brown fat all over my plate?  This was intolerable.  What's for dessert, a bucket of sand?  Sawdust in a bag? A tablespoon of Nestle Quik?  Now I know what Hell looks like.

No thank you, kind sir and madam.  Good day to you!


Comment below with some of your Thanksgiving horror stories, and join us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube!






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



Saturday, November 17, 2018

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2017)



Toyota Center - 11.19.17

Well, just like the 2016 Survivor Series, this was a very good PPV that had a mindnumbingly stupid main event.  The problem is, unlike 2016's main event which only took up 90 seconds of my time, this one took 33 minutes.  Brock Lesnar went from the worst match of the night in 2016 to the best match in 2017, while the men's elimination match took the opposite path.

The show opened, smartly, with the six-man tag between two very over squads, The Shield and The New Day.  The crowd was into this and loved both teams (except Roman who got a smattering of "you still suck" chants).  Both trios worked hard and aside from a couple miscues (which seemed oddly prevalent on this show), threw together a very enjoyable 21-minute match which loads of false finishes and an actual ending that was a callback to an earlier spot - after being thwarted earlier in the match, The Shield put it away with their signature triple powerbomb, but delivered it from the second rope.  If anything this match could've been maybe three minutes shorter, and it wasn't at the same level of the Shield's amazing 2014 matches with The Wyatts and Evolution.  But it was a hot opener with a big-fight feel and established The New Day as very worthy opponents for the dominant Shield.

If you didn't pick these guys to win, I dunno what to tell ya.

The women's elimination match was next, after a baffling backstage pep talk from Stephanie McMahon to her RAW team that once again made the actual women wrestlers look subservient to the boss's daughter.  I don't want to see McMahons on my TV screen anymore.  I'm sick to goddamn death of this family.  Anyway, the match itself got over 18 minutes and didn't feel like a sprint, but still felt a bit rushed.  Too many eliminations were too sudden, like Becky Lynch's unceremonious exit two minutes in (This was of course before they knew what they had with Becky).  From there we got a battle of the bulls, as Nia Jax and Tamina faced off.  Tamina won this round by repeatedly attacking Nia outside the ring and hitting her dad's Superfly splash on the floor, getting Nia counted out.  Bayley also fell to Tamina's splash, while Alicia Fox was the victim of a horrendous fast count by the ref.  Naomi had rolled her up and she was clearly supposed to kick out before being locked in a submission hold, but the referee counted 1...2-3 and basically pushed her out of the ring.  Not sure who screwed up, but someone did.  It all boiled down to Nattie and Tamina vs. Asuka, allowing the Empress of Tomorrow to fully demonstrate her dominance by eliminating both opponents clean.  Not a great match but a good one that accomplished what it needed to.  Asuka was set up for a several-month run of dominance that included winning the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble.  Sadly Vince ruined her starting with her WrestleMania 34 loss to Charlotte, and she's become just one of the girls.

Asuka's main roster push looked so promising until Creative started doing what they do.

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

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2014)




Survivor Series 2014 - Scottrade Center - 11/23/14

Oddly the main event of the 2014 edition was like a do-over from 2013.  The Authority picked five guys to represent them, against a five-man insurrection led by the company's top babyface.  And if the good guys won, The Authority would be out of power, with only the babyface leader able to reinstate them.  On paper that's a pretty high-stakes elimination match.  Unfortunately the execution leading up to this show was so bad and lacked all urgency, and this type of angle had been done so many times no one really cared.  A year prior, with the Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority feud in high gear, this would've been epic.  In 2014 though, with longtime WWE posterboy John Cena cast as "The guy Triple H and Steph don't want representing the company because........just because," it doesn't quite work.  But before we get to this match, let's look at the rest of the show.

First up was a four-way match for the Tag Team Title, as Goldust & Stardust defended against Team Mizdow, The Usos, and Los Matadores.  Taken in and of itself this match was perfectly decent.  It was given over fifteen minutes and everyone involved could work.  The problem was these four teams had faced each other in various combinations ad nauseum over the preceding weeks, so nothing about this felt special.  It was just eight guys executing a match.  Also this being Survivor Series, Elimination Rules would've made more sense.  Mizdow won the belts prematurely to further the eventual split between Miz and Sandow, which as we all know led to nothing.

They won the belts too soon and split up too soon.
Next up was a four-on-four Divas elimination match: Alicia Fox, Emma, Naomi and Natalya vs. Paige, Cameron, Layla, and Summer Rae.  There was little point to this match but I'll be goddamned if it wasn't terribly entertaining.  It's a rare thing for a women's match of any kind to get nearly fifteen minutes on a PPV, and this was actually treated like a real Survivor Series bout.  Sadly it was a clean sweep which I hate in general (these should be saved for very rare occasions and made into a huge deal), but I liked the match quite a bit all things considered.

The first big match of the night was next, as Dean Ambrose faced Bray Wyatt in a battle of the crazy dudes.  This was pretty underwhelming actually, and ended with a lame DQ.  They'd have a much better match with an even dumber ending at TLC.

Next up was Adam Rose and The Bunny vs. Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil.  What in the hell was the point of this?  Between the match itself and the entrances this took up probably 7 minutes of valuable air time that could've been given to one of the matches people actually gave a shit about.

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