Friday, June 28, 2019

Top Ten Things: Beatles Songs (Paul McCartney Edition)

Welcome to the second installment of our Beatles-related Top Ten Things, here at, where I count down the ten best tunes written by each of the Fab Four's three songwriters (Sorry Ringo...)!  If you missed the George Harrison edition, click HERE to check it out!  And click HERE for the John Lennon one.

Today it's Paul McCartney's turn.  One half of probably the greatest songwriting duo in the history of the planet, Paul was in my estimation the most accomplished pound-for-pound musician in the Beatles.  With a voice that ranged from smooth-as-silk to soulful and ballsy to screeching and harsh, Paul probably brought the most diversity of sound to the band.  From 1965 when he introduced the unfathomably out-of-character "Yesterday" into their repertoire, Paul was always pushing the boundaries of production and orchestration.  It was his idea to link together the songs on Sgt. Pepper, arrange the Side 2 song fragments of Abbey Road into a cohesive suite, and make an improvised movie about a bus tour of the English countryside....okay so not all his ideas landed.  But Paul in many ways was the most directly responsible (not to discount the others by any means) for The Beatles' music being perceived as a bona fide artistic endeavor.

Aside from all that though, the man wrote some incredibly iconic songs.  This installment and the next about John were much harder to narrow down than the George edition, simply because of the volume of classic tunes they each churned out.  On to the Honorable Mentions!

Honorable Mentions

Sgt. Pepper/Reprise

The two-part song that tied The Beatles' most famous album together, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and its reprise total under three-and-a-half minutes, but their pure rock n' roll energy is palpable.  The first part kicks off the album with rollicking swagger, punctuated by horns and audience murmurs to give it a live feel, while the reprise sends the pseudo-concept album home with a guitar-charged bang before the grand finale of "A Day in the Life."  I always found most of Paul's Sgt. Pepper output to be rather overshadowed by John's contributions, but I love this two-parter.

Drive My Car

Kicking off the revered Rubber Soul album is this vigorous guitar rocker rife with sexual innuendo, about an aspiring movie star who hires a fella to be her chauffeur with benefits.  Paul and John's double-lead vocal harmonies bounce over bluesy lead guitars, underscored by Paul's tight, palm-muted bass sound (I believe this is the first time he used that technique and I always loved how it sounded).

You Won't See Me

Another Rubber Soul standout is one of three songs he wrote about his crumbling relationship with actress Jane Asher.  "You Won't See Me" took some cues from The Four Tops and other Motown groups, while the lyrics marked a departure from Paul's sweeter, more innocent early years.  Rubber Soul is generally cited as The Beatles' turn to a more mature sound, and this simple breakup song is one of several illustrations of that.

And now for the main event....

10. Lady Madonna

The first single released during The Beatles' return to stripped-down rock n' roll (after the psychadelic 1966-67 period), "Lady Madonna" gained inspiration from rhythm & blues piano icon Fats Domino.  Vocally Domino inspired Paul to such an extent that he altered his singing style to match Domino's soulful timbre, creating a whole new signature "McCartney voice" (my favorite version of Paul, incidentally).  At just over two minutes, "Lady Madonna" is nonetheless densely packed, its lyrics a rumination on the working single monther, with obvious Catholic undertones.  This is one of my favorite Paul pastiches.

9. Yesterday

One of the most widely covered songs in music history, "Yesterday" wormed its way into Paul's brain while he was asleep, and upon waking he raced to a piano so he wouldn't forget it.  The melody came to him so easily he assumed he must've heard it somewhere, and asked everyone he knew if they recognized it.  Once established as an original idea, the song was given the working title "Scrambled Eggs" while Paul tweaked it, and the final lyrics didn't take shape until months later.  The despondent ballad was such a departure from The Beatles' established sound that it took strenuous convincing from producer George Martin to keep it as a solo performance with a string quartet behind it, and the rest of the band vetoed its release as a UK single.  But "Yesterday" instantly became a phenomenon, with a top-ten Matt Monro cover version released that same year, the first of literally thousands of versions.  The song may be simple and saccharine, but there's no denying its significance in broadening The Beatles' artistic palette.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Parents' Night In #21: A Hard Day's Night (1964) - Justin and Kelly Watch The Beatles and Scream Like Little Girls!

Set your Wayback Machine for 1964 and join Justin and Kelly at the height of BeatleMania for their first feature film, A Hard Day's Night

This Richard Lester-helmed "day in the life" comedy follows the Fab Four and their wildly hectic misadventures as the biggest pop group in the entire world, climaxing in a live television performance that has all the youngsters screaming their brains out with joy!

Kelly and Justin enjoy some wine and talk about our love of all things Beatles, our favorite Beatles albums, and our respective favorite member of the band!

Tune in, turn on and drop out (wait, that was a few years later) and join us for Parents' Night In!

Thanks for watching!  Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE to our channel, and follow us on Twitter, MeWe, Mix, and Facebook!

The History of WWE King of the Ring (1994)

Welcome back to's History of WWE King of the Ring!

King of the Ring '94 - Baltimore Arena - 6.19.94
Yeesh, what a downturn this show took from the previous year.  Where the 1993 tournament carried real weight and accounted for the two longest and best matches of the PPV, this time the company skimmed through the tournament (allotting only 8.5 minutes to the LONGEST tourney bout), and inexplicably put a one-off Roddy Piper vs. Jerry Lawler match in the main event.  Not to mention football player Art Donovan was part of the announce team, and knew exactly zilch about wrestling.  Thus his commentary was laughable at best and distractingly nonsensical at worst.

Of the three non-tournament matches only one was worth seeing, and despite being the billed main event it took place in the middle of the show.  WWF Champion Bret Hart defended against Intercontinental Champion Diesel, in a shockingly good bout.  Diesel was a very unproven monster heel at this point but he had excellent chemistry with Bret as it turned out, and this was a fine 22-minute main event.  Diesel won by disqualification when Bret's old partner Jim Neidhart attacked Diesel, hoping to negate the unfair advantage caused by Shawn Michaels' interference.

Dammit Jim....

The second non-tourney match was for the Tag Titles, as The Headshrinkers defended against Yokozuna and Crush.  I'd hoped for the heel tandem to win the straps here, as they would've made a dominant pairing.  But a distraction by Lex Luger cost them the match, and Crush & Yoko would never team again.

For some bizarre reason the main event slot went to the aforementioned Roddy Piper vs. Jerry Lawler debacle.  This amounted to twelve-plus minutes of nondescript brawling leading mercifully to a Piper win.  In what universe this could be considered a fitting main event I have no idea.  Now let us never speak of it again.

The tournament took up seven of the ten matches on the card, and despite some intriguing pairings nothing really stood out given the abbreviated length.  The one memorable match in the tourney was the Owen Hart vs. 1-2-3 Kid semifinal, which was about as good as any 3.5-minute bout I've ever seen.  They crammed a ton of action into such a short time. Still though, it was only 217 seconds, so it could only be so good.  The Owen vs. Razor final could've easily been a 4-star affair had it gone 15-20 minutes, but the company only gave them six and a half.  I dunno about you, but for me a guy winning the final of a tournament in such short order when said tourney is meant to elevate him kinda negates the importance of it all.  Owen won the tournament in part thanks to Jim Neidhart, who revealed himself to be in cahoots with Owen the entire time, having preserved Bret's Championship for the eventual Bret-Owen rematch.  Still the crown went to an eminently deserving new heel who was now the top antagonist in the company, setting the stage for SummerSlam.

How was this match not epic?

This was a one-and-a-half match show.  There's no other way to describe it.  The WWF Title match was great, and the Owen-Kid semi was a spectacular short match.  Otherwise this show stunk to high heaven.

Best Match: Bret Hart vs. Diesel
Worst Match: Roddy Piper vs. Jerry Lawler
What I'd Change: Skip the Piper-Lawler nonsense, leave Art Donovan at home, and give the tournament matches a feeling of actual importance.  Owen vs. Razor only being allotted 6:35 is inexcusable.
Most Disappointing Match: Owen Hart vs. Razor Ramon
Most Pleasant Surprise: How well Diesel worked with Bret
Overall Rating: 3.5/10

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Top Ten Things: Beatles Songs (George Harrison Edition)

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at!  It's been a while since I made one of these stupid lists, but I thought of kickass three-parter for y'all!  Today I'm all about The Beatles, those four lovable mop-tops from Liverpool who went on to change the entire fuckin' world.

A couple years ago I compiled my list of The Beatles' best albums, and while it occurred to me back then to do a list of songs as well, I ran into a conundrum: How the actual hell do you narrow down the Beatles' iconic song catalogue to ten choices?  It would be nigh impossible.  So instead I've saved myself hours of agony by compiling not one list, but three: the ten greatest Beatles songs written, respectively, by the group's three songwriters - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and today's subject, George Harrison!

George has always been considered the unsung hero of the band, finding himself in the unenviable position of having to compete with the two-headed compositional juggernaut known as Lennon-McCartney.  While the two prodigies were virtually pooping out gold records, George was left to his own devices to come up with one or two tunes he just hoped would be deemed worthy of inclusion on each album.  Though his early output certainly didn't stack up to standout singles like "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You," George was diligent and untiring, honing his unique gifts and molding himself into a great composer in his own right.  By the time the band recorded Revolver, George could consistently be counted on to deliver at least one album standout; he was sadly almost always limited to two tracks per disc, and when the band broke up he'd amassed a double album's worth of material which became his solo record All Things Must Pass.

With all this in mind, let's take a look at the Top Ten Beatles Songs: George Harrison Edition.... 

Honorable Mentions


George's anti-establishment anthem about consumerism and class relations dates as far back as the Revolver writing sessions but wasn't finished until the White Album.  The use of harpsichord calls to mind snooty 18th century upper-crusters, while the lyrics have a biting satirical bent.

The Inner Light

One of three Harrison-penned Beatles songs to use traditional Indian instruments, "The Inner Light" deals with his newfound interest in Transcendental Meditation.  The music alternates between slow, meditative lyric sections dealing with spirituality, and upbeat Indian temple music making liberal use of George's sitar; the prevailing theme here is about discovering one's inner peace.

Within You, Without You

Probably George's most famous sitar-based song, and his only track on Sgt. Pepper, was steeped in traditional Indian music but with a mix of Western instrumentation as well.  The lyrics evolved out of a philosophical conversation with Beatles friend Klaus Voorman about embracing the non-physical.  I always found this song a bit overlong, but it was nonetheless an adventurous major sonic departure for the band.

Alright, now for the top ten....

10. For You Blue

A simple, bouncy 12-bar blues composition written for his wife Pattie, "For You Blue" was heavily influenced by a trip George took to Woodstock, NY to jam with Bob Dylan and The Band, a welcome contrast to the discordant White Album recording sessions.  This song ended up on the Let It Be album, itself a very troubled production, but it managed to retain its intended care-free vibe, and is one of George's two strong Let It Be offerings.

9. Long, Long, Long

Perhaps the quietest of all Beatles songs, from the "quiet Beatle," George's hauntingly serene ballad about his reconnecting with God immediately follows Paul's violently heavy "Helter Skelter" on the White Album, making for an abrupt mood swing.  The song has a sad-but-relieved vibe about it, as though George were atoning for his time experimenting with mind-altering substances and truly finding tranquility in mysticism.

8. Blue Jay Way

Released at the height of Beatles psychadelia, George's lone contribution to the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack is a ghostly, atmospheric tune written on a Hammond organ while George and Pattie waited for friends to arrive at their rented LA house, immediately after a long flight from London.  Harrison's songs usually seemed to take on a darker tone than John or Paul's, but that's especially true of "Blue Jay Way," which perfectly conveys George's post-flight exhaustion and impatience waiting for his house guests.   

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

AEW Fyter Fest Preview & Predictions

This Saturday is All Elite Wrestling's second official event, which will be available on B/R Live as a free stream.  It's definitely more of a minor show but there's still plenty of intriguing stuff going on to tide us over until next month's Fight for the Fallen, which will tide us over until their August supercard All Out.

AEW right now is everything WWE is not.  Cool, exciting, buzz-generating, and man can this company move tickets.  All Out, as everyone is now aware, sold out 12,000 tickets in 15 minutes, with about 100,000 more users waiting in online queues to buy them.  No wrestling event in history has ever had this much demand for tickets.  Not WrestleMania, not Royal Rumble, nothing.  Simply amazing.

But let's talk Fyter Fest....

Pre-Show Hardcore Match: Michael Nakazawa vs. Alex Jebailey

I don't know much about either of these dudes, but Jebailey is the head of CEO Gaming, which is co-sponsoring this event.  For that reason I could see him winning this match, but Nakazawa is an actual AEW guy so it would make more sense for him to go over I think.

Pick: Nakazawa

Pre-Show Match: Kylie Rae vs. Leva Bates

Kylie seems to be one of the women they're building this division around, and since she came up short at Double or Nothing it makes sense for her to get a win here.

Pick: Kylie Rae

Pre-Show Match: Best Friends vs. SoCal Uncensored vs. Private Party

This will be a wild affair full of non-stop action.  Best Friends and SCU both scored wins at DON, while Private Party is getting a proper introduction here.  The winners in this match advance to a First-Round Bye match at All Out, to determine their placement in the upcoming Tag Title tournament.  I guess Best Friends makes the most sense.

Pick: Best Friends

Monday, June 24, 2019

Brewery Reviewery: Bissell Brothers Brewing (Portland, ME)

Welcome to another Portland, Maine-themed Brewery Reviewery, here at!

Bissell Brothers Portland
4 Thompsons Point #108
Portland, ME 04102

Bissell Brothers Three Rivers
157 Elm Street
Milo, ME 04463

Our next stop on the tour is the white-hot Bissell Brothers Brewing, located at Thompsons Point in downtown Portland, with a second branch in Milo, ME.  Bissell offers an eclectic roster of brews, with some core beers and some small-batch flavors.  The Portland taproom is bright and full of energy, with local artwork adorning the walls and tons of kickass merch for sale (I picked up a shirt because their logo is boss).  Sadly they don't offer tasting flights, but you can order full pours or pick up cans to go.  There's also a walk-up eatery called Locally Sauced next door, where you can grab some sober-up food while you're enjoying the beers.  This place was hopping when we visited and I get the impression that's generally the case.  Kind of a picnic atmosphere going on.  Picnic-plus-tasty-goddamn-beers.... 

Nothing Gold (8.2%): Our hoppiest beer to date. Brewed to celebrate what was, what's next, and ultimately what is.

JB: This is one of those juicy IPAs that gives you flashbacks - tangy, hoppy, full-bodied, and tremendously addictive.  I've recently become a NEIPA aficionado and it's because of beers like this one.  My favorite of the bunch.

Umbra (7.5%): An oatmeal stout with Maris Otter base malt—this is our first dark beer to enter regular production.

JB: I love me a good stout, and this one is very rich but also kinda dry, with strong coffee and cocoa notes that don't overpower the beer.  Well-played.....

The Nuclear Whim With the Fuse of a Mile (7.6%): An IPA to celebrate our 4th year of existence.

JB: Another delicious IPA, this one was juicy and very smooth with a little sweetness but also had those earthy pine/weed notes you'd find in a Fiddlehead IPA.

Lucent (Small Batch, 4.9%): Meaning “glowing” or “lit from within”, Lucent is a traditional German-style Helles, derived from the German word hell which translates to “bright”, words which describe the look of the beer perfectly. The style was invented by Munich-based brewery Spaten in 1894 as a lighter version of their Oktoberbier. Longer fermenting and low hop addition create (ideally) a full-bodied, light colored pale lager that tastes biscuity, lemony, leans a little more towards the malty side of things, and has a dry finish on the palate. All of which serve to make this beer endlessly drinkable and, as some of us have taken to saying, a true guzzlebrau.

JB: Nothing super fancy about this Helles, it's just very easy-drinking and sessionable.  Perfect for a day on the beach.

Bissell Brothers is on fire right now and it's easy to see why.  The four beers we tried were all easy recommendations, and I look forward to exploring the rest of their roster.  The room is loud and busy, but it's a very fun ambience and gives the impression that you're part of something big.  Check this place out if you haven't already!

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The History of NXT TakeOver: TakeOver

Time for a restaurant-quality show....

TakeOver - Full Sail - 5.29.14
While technically the second NXT Network special, this was the first to carry the name TakeOver, and it was a major improvement over Arrival.  The streamlined card featured five matches, three of which were in the four-star range, and one of which truly kicked off the so-called "Divas Revolution."

The first two matches were nothing spectacular; Adam Rose vs. Camacho opened the show.  I figured this would be a squash win for Rose but Camacho actually dominated the match.  One (of many) problems I have with the Rose persona is he never seems to be trying to win the match, he's all about the comedy aspect.  So when he makes a late match comeback and ends up winning suddenly it feels false.  Short and inoffensive.

Next up was NXT Tag Champs The Ascension vs. Kalisto & El Locale.  While another example of The Ascension's limited in-ring ability, this was easily a step above their Arrival match, as Kalisto was able to carry most of the action.  Locale however was pretty awful.  It seemed like he used to be able to do the high-flying lucha moves but was now far overweight to pull them off.

The final three bouts were quite a trilogy of awesome.  Sami Zayn faced Tyler Breeze for the #1 Contender's spot, and what a match!  These two meshed perfectly and everything looked incredibly crisp.  Both guys left it all in the ring with crazy aerial moves and tons of counters.  Breeze blocked Zayn's Helluva Kick and inadvertently hit him in the groin, then capitalized with his finisher for the upset win.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The History of WWE King of the Ring (1993)

From the wrestling weirdo who brought you The History of WWE WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and Royal Rumble, it's the official History of WWE King of the Ring!

That's right, now that I've tackled WWE's Big Four PPV histories, I'm strapping myself into the ol' time machine to take another look at what was temporarily one of the Big Five.

The King of the Ring tournament was originally a special house show attraction held annually in New England, before the WWF decided to add it to the PPV schedule in 1993.  At the time the WWF calendar only featured the Big Four PPV events, so creating a fifth was a pretty huge deal.  Over the next decade the annual PPV was used as a springboard for many up-and-coming stars, with mixed results.  In 2003, due to sagging buyrates, the company discontinued the event, replacing it with Bad Blood, and only brought the tournament itself back on free television every few years.  Here now is a look back at this sometimes great, sometimes awful PPV....

King of the Ring '93 - Nutter Center - 6.13.93
The inaugural PPV edition of the tournament was centered around re-establishing Bret Hart as a top babyface after the mindbendingly stupid booking of WrestleMania IX, where Bret lost the WWF Title to Yokozuna only for the returning Hulk Hogan to swoop in and take the belt in an impromptu match.  Widely considered the worst WrestleMania of all time, that show did no favors for the man presumably pegged to lead the company through the 90s.  On top of that, Hogan took the belt and went home after previously agreeing to drop it back to Bret at SummerSlam.  Instead Hogan refused to appear on any house shows for two months and insisted on losing it back to Yokozuna at the KOTR PPV.  Is it any wonder I can't stand that guy?

The non-tournament matches included a decent Intercontinental Title defense by Shawn Michaels against Crush, a forgettable eight-man tag pitting The Smokin' Gunns & The Steiners against The Headshrinkers & Money Inc., and of course the godawful Hogan-Yokozuna rematch.

Par for the course at this point in his career, Hogan just kinda went through the motions, once again feebly attempting to recapture the magic of his 'Mania 3 match with Andre.  After 13 pretty rancid minutes, Harvey Wippleman climbed on the ring apron in the guise of a ringside photographer, and his camera exploded in Hogan's face.  Yoko capitalized and reclaimed the Championship, in one of the stupidest match finishes since, well, WrestleMania IX.  Hogan vanished from WWF TV for nine years, and the "exploding camera" incident was never explained.

Screw you Hogan.  YOURE FIIIIIRED!!!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Pro Wrestling: A Mark's History, part 4 (I Love the NWA)

As WrestleMania IV loomed I eagerly anticipated my hero Hulk Hogan winning the WWF Title tournament and once again becoming the Champion.  My #2 choice at the time was Randy Savage, but in my mind the ideal place for him was as the Intercontinental Champion (partly because I still saw the World Title as a Big Man Belt).  I once again didn't get to watch the PPV, but my friend Greg went to see it on closed-circuit TV and called me with a full recap immediately upon returning home.  He was ecstatic to see Savage emerge with the Title, and while he wasn't my first choice, I was relieved the belt didn't end up around Ted Dibiase's waist (I absolutely hated him. HATED. HIM.).

With Savage as the Champion I was definitely interested to see where things would go.  It was a real change from Hogan's perennial David vs. Goliath feuds, and Savage got to bring his technical prowess to the WWF's main event scene.

The First Couple of Wrestling

The most emotionally charged feud of that period was Rick Rude vs. Jake Roberts, which was sparked by Rude unwittingly propositioning Jake's wife at ringside.  It was a great way to start a feud and was first time I can recall seeing a wrestler's real-life spouse being part of a storyline (Miss Elizabeth excepted).

WWE Stomping Grounds Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another round of WWE Predictions here at!

This month it's the PPV no one cares about whatsoever, WWE's newest show, Stomping Grounds!  Fuck does that even mean, anyway?  "Stomping grounds" is an expression about someone returning to their old familiar haunts.  So like, in WWE's case a PPV at Madison Square Garden might apply.  They haven't done a televised show there in forever but it used to be their home arena, so you could say they're returning to their old "stomping grounds."  But this show is at the Tacoma Dome, where I'm pretty sure WWE has never before held a PPV.  So where does the expression "stomping grounds" fit in?  Does Vince think anymore before deciding on things?  Why not just keep the name Battleground?

Regardless of stupid monikers, I probably won't even watch this show aside from one or two matches (it'll be the first non-Saudi WWE PPV since Battleground 2017 that I haven't watched from start to finish), because there's almost nothing of interest.  The top four matches are all repeats from either WrestleMania, Money in the Bank or Super ShowDown and none of them were good the first time.  And WWE wonders why this show isn't close to sold out (meanwhile AEW's All Out was full within fifteen minutes, with about 100,000 more fans still wanting tickets).  I've said it before, but 1998 Vince McMahon would be laughing with pity at the sad old fool he'd eventually become.  WWE's product hasn't felt this irrelevant and tired since probably mid-1995, when it was running on Diesel fumes.  It took about 18 months of Nitro kicking its ass for Vince to really shake things up.  Problem is I don't think the 73-year-old Vince has it in him to admit his product needs a drastic overhaul, plus at this point most of the money he's making is guaranteed, irrespective of record-low ratings.  For now that is...

Anyway, let's get started on this shitshow.  Gotta be one of the least interesting PPV lineups they've ever put together.

Cruiserweight Championship: Tony Nese vs. Drew Gulak vs. Akira Tozawa

Well it's another cruiserweight match that will be entertaining but which no one will react to.  And this will probably get bumped to the pre-show.  I'm not sure what WWE needs to do to make anyone give a shit about their cruisers.  It's literally just a buncha guys with no star power.  The division needs to be centered around one or two top dudes, but in order to build up to that 205 Live needs people to tune in and care about them.  It's a Catch 22.  Contrast this with NJPW's Jr. division, spearheaded currently by Will Ospreay, who's one of the hottest stars in the business right now.  WWE needs to find its Will Ospreay - maybe put Ricochet on 205 Live part-time, make him the champion, but also feature him on RAW and SD against the heavyweights so he becomes a crossover star?  Anyway, I'll stick with Nese to retain here.

Pick: Nese keeps the strap

The New Day vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

This match was just thrown together, followed by Owens and Zayn losing two 2/3 Falls matches in two straight falls.  So yeah, that makes me give a shit about this match.  Technically this should be good but like most of the product I've been given zero reason to care.

Pick: Owens & Zayn were made to look like total geeks this week so they're winning here.  50-50.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The History of NXT TakeOver: Arrival

What's up kids?  I'm back with another PPV History series!  Taking a break from WWE's main roster PPVs, I shall now tackle the vaunted NXT TakeOver specials.  

The NXT brand has blossomed incredibly since Triple H assumed control of it back in 2012.  Once viewed as little more than a feeder system for the main roster, NXT under Hunter's direction has actively recruited the best Indy talent from all over the world, lending the brand some much-needed credibility and helping season the homegrown rookies.  NXT is now one of the most beloved brands in all of pro wrestling, based at Full Sail University but having sold out full-scale arenas like Brooklyn's Barclays Center.  It's become commonplace for NXT specials to outclass the main roster PPVs, as Hunter's brand features a much greater emphasis on the in-ring product, simple, easy-to-follow storylines, and perhaps most notably, a Women's division that's been consistently as good or better than anything else in the entire company.  While the main roster has quite often failed to properly utilize NXT call-ups, there's no denying the "third brand" has begun to leave its mark on WWE as a whole, many of its graduates having won multiple main roster championships.  Let's take a look at the brief but already storied history of NXT: Takeover!

Arrival - Full Sail - 2.27.14

The first WWE Network live special was not a main roster PPV, but an NXT showcase.  With WrestleMania XXX approaching as the first-ever PPV to be aired on the Network, WWE used NXT: Arrival (the TakeOver name wouldn't be used until the second special) as something of a guinea pig, broadcasting the two-hour event live during the Network's first week.  The show featured all three NXT Championships on the line, plus a much-anticipated rematch between two ROH alums.

The show opened with an incredible 22-minute war between Cesaro and Sami Zayn, which brought to mind both men's ROH work.  The counters here were off the charts as both guys pulled out every move they could think of.  The match told a great story of Cesaro being the overconfident bully and Zayn being the determined underdog who refuses to stay down.  What a way to kick off the first NXT special.  If you weren't hooked after watching this match there just might be something wrong with you.

Next up was Mojo Rawley vs. CJ Parker (better known today as Juice Robinson).  This was little more than a squash to show off Rawley's stuff.  He wasn't terribly accomplished in the ring at this point, and he's got one of the worst finishers in the game (think Earthquake's finisher but 150 pounds lighter), but few guys in NXT boast as lively a persona.  Parker's character was that of an obnoxious environmentalist and it's a little disturbing that such a persona would only get over as a heel.  But whatever, this was a throwaway.

The first Title match took place next as The Ascension faced Too Cool in a match between two teams I'm not fond of whatsoever.  The Ascension have to be the least successful Road Warrior knockoffs of all time.  Konnor at least looks the part, but at 5'11" and 220 pounds Viktor is hardly the right guy for a team like this.  Too Cool's schtick got old back in 2000 and they weren't given much to do here.  I'm not entirely sure why they were picked for this Title defense, actually.  Not much of a match.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Dive Bars of America: BullShots (Atlantic City, NJ)

by Dan Moore

This column features some of the greatest and grossest dive bars in the U.S. of A. I’ll be using a rating system between 1 and 4 handlebar mustaches, which is the preferred mustache by 9 out of 10 old timers in dive bars.

2309 Pacific Ave
Atlantic City, NJ 08401

You had me at $2 Bud Lights, BullShots.

My dear friend, Scotty Pickles, is getting married this year and we needed a place to go for his bachelor party so’s we could gamble, son. We decided Vegas was too far and Foxwoods too close. We settled on Atlantic City. As we drove to check into our place, we zoomed past that delightful sign above. We knew we found our spot. Bud Light is Southie water so this was a friendly place for us. BullShots has a long bar with a room in the back that has pool tables and oh yea, it’s connected to a strip club.

Fun Factor: Oh, there’s a ton in this joint. There’s all kinds of silly shit hanging from the walls here. There’s pool tables in the back (though I never made it back there because BEER). They got beer pong, hookah and tons of promotions all week. It’s a veritable drunken playground. Oh, and it’s connected to a strip club.

Also, they got cigarettes, and smoking is always fun!

Beer Choices: They had $2 Bud Light. That’s really all I needed. But yes, they had a surprisingly diverse beer menu for a hole in the wall bar. Yeungling, Stella and many of your other big name beers. The funniest part about the booze in this joint is that you hafta buy your beers in this bar and then bring it over to the strip club. AC has some weird law where the strip clubs can’t serve booze if they show completely NEKKED womens, so to get around it, some of the strippy strips require you to bring your own beer. It’s truly a wonderful scene watching grown men pay $15 bucks for a 6 pack and get walked over to the strip club by a stripper to watch them strip. The circle of life, indeed. 

The History of NJPW Dominion (2015)

The next four Dominion shows were really something, starting with this masterpiece.....

Osaka-Jo Hall - 7.5.15

The 2015 Dominion PPV was the first NJPW show I truly anticipated as a fan, after initially diving into the product with WrestleKingdom 9.  Between January and July 2015 I perused their back catalogue and watched the big matches from New Beginning, Invasion Attack and Wrestling Dontaku.  But Dominion was the first stacked New Japan show after WK9, and I made it a point to sit down and view it from start to finish, on the day it aired.  Another bit of trivia for you, Dominion 2015 was the first NJPW show I wrote a predictions column for (I went 8 for 9).  If WrestleKingdom 9 converted me into a New Japan fan, Dominion 2015 vaulted New Japan ahead of WWE on my list of wrestling priorities, and I haven't looked back.

This show was the culmination of a year-long arc for the company's rising Ace, Kazuchika Okada, who'd been unseated for the IWGP Title by AJ Styles (partly due to Bullet Club shenanigans), and spent the intervening months trying to climb back up the mountain (with a heartbreaking loss to Tanahashi at WrestleKingdom 9).  Okada's road to Dominion had been a troubled one, with a couple losses to Bad Luck Fale before a big win at Invasion Attack that ended that feud and set the stage for a rematch with AJ at the second-biggest show of the year.  Such was the central story of Dominion 2015.

But first the undercard...

The show opened with a wild, fast-paced offering from the Jr. Heavyweight Tag division, as The Young Bucks defended their Titles against reDRagon and RPG Vice.  The Bucks took a lot of abuse early in the match from both teams but managed to outmaneuver Fish and O'Reilly on the outside, leaving Romero and Beretta to flatten reDRagon with planchas meant for Matt and Nick.  From there the Bucks staged a walkout which prompted RPG Vice to give chase, and Matt and Nick superkicked them both on the ramp before running back into the ring.  RPG Vice nearly got counted out but just made it back in.  After lots of wild exchanges, Kyle O'Reilly took out both RPG Vice members with a rebound lariat, and Fish hit a top rope Falcon Arrow on Romero for a nearfall.  But the Bucks came back, knocking reDRagon out of the match with twin superkicks, Matt superkicked Beretta out of the ring, and the Bucks hit More Bang for Your Buck on Romero to retain the belts.  A super fun opener with the type of Jr. action you'd expect from these three teams.  ***3/4  

Next up was one of only two "forgettable" matches of the night; Bad Luck Fale and Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma and Tetsuya Naito.  This match was historically significant, as it marked more or less the beginning of Tetsuya Naito becoming the Ingobernable we all know and love today.  Honma was ambushed by the heels at the opening bell, and Naito sauntered down to the ring, in no hurry to help out his partner.  The opening few minutes consisted of Fale and Takahashi pounding Honma, and every time Honma escaped to his corner Naito refused to tag in.  Finally Naito agreed to do some work, leveling both heels with a dive to the outside and offering his signature pose back in the ring.  Naito locked Fale in a Figure Four but ran into some trouble and tagged Honma back in, taking a powder on the outside.  Honma flattened Takahashi with a running headbutt, and Naito detained Fale long enough for Honma to hit a top rope headbutt for the win; this was during a time when Honma lost basically always, so the crowd was jubilant at his success here.  Naito bailed after the bell and left Honma to his celebration.  The rest of course is history; Naito would soon become one of the company's top draws thanks to his transformation into an anti-hero.  A decent match with nice character development, but not a standout on a show like this.  **1/2

The really stacked portion of the card began next with the Katsuyori Shibata-Kazushi Sakuraba fight.  And I mean FIGHT.  This was one of the best simulated MMA bouts I've ever seen and I'd rank it right up there with Sakuraba-Nakamura from WK7.  The grappling looked totally convincing and snug, and Shibata's strikes were brutal.  Sakuraba mostly relied on submission holds, repeatedly locking in guillotine chokes and armbars, while Shibata fought back with sickening forearms, palm strikes, and a pair of stiff-as-hell corner dropkicks.  The most memorable moment came when Sakuraba locked a rear naked choke on a standing Shibata.  Shibata inched toward the ropes with Sakuraba on his back like a spider monkey, but as he reached out, Sakuraba converted the hold into a double butterfly lock to trap both Shibata's arms; Shibata had to resort to reaching the ropes with his teeth to break the hold.  Shibata spun Sakuraba around with a lariat but got caught in another choke that nearly passed him out.  Shibata escaped and locked in his own choke, which he released just long enough to score a match-ending Penalty Kick.  This was fantastically brutal and different from anything else on the show.  ***3/4 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Brewery Reviewery: Geary Brewing Company (Portland, ME)

Welcome to another Portland, Maine installment of Brewery Reviewery here at!  We're goin' old school for this one, as we visit the longest-running American craft brewery east of the Rockies, Geary Brewing Company!

Geary Brewing Company
38 Evergreen Drive 
Portland, ME 04103

This was one of the more interesting Portland visits for us; from the moment we walked in, Geary's felt different from the new-school breweries nearby.  Located (unfortunately) about a half-mile down the road from the Industrial Way cluster of brewers (Beermuda Triangle), Geary's has a distinctly old-world vibe about it, and that carries over to the beers as well.  Founded in 1983, long before most people even knew what craft beer was, Geary's was the brainchild of David and Karen Geary, who had a passion for traditional British beers.  David studied across the pond to learn the techniques and brought them back to Maine, creating a UK-inspired pale ale that, at the time was unlike just about anything available in the US.  The Gearys have since sold the brewery and retired, but their recipes live on, among a slew of new flavors and varieties.  The Geary's staff was friendly and very knowledgable, sharing stories of Geary's long history as we tasted, making for a fun, relaxed experience.  The atmosphere at this place is almost quaint, in a good way, which sets it apart from the younger establishments.  And they had a long list of tasty brews to boot....

Pale Ale (5.2%): Our flagship is a classic British-style pale ale with a nod to the legendary beers of Burton-on-Trent.  It has a copper color with a malty body and medium mouthfeel.  Stone fruit sweetness complements the traditional bitterness of this ale.

JB: Not unlike Sam Adams Boston Ale, this flagship is a simple-but-flavorful English bitter, with a malt-forward palate.  Very easy to drink, it's like visiting an old friend (Did that sound pretentious?  I don't care).

Hampshire Special Ale (7.5%): Maine's original "winter warmer," the unique, incredibly complex HSA is a clear, mahogonay-colored strong ale with a heavy body and thick mouthfeel.  A toasty, malty, stone fruit sweetness complements and contrasts the assertive flavors of the large hop build and noticeably high alcohol content.

JB: My favorite of the bunch, this special ale has a lovely blend of crispness and a bit of dunkel flavor from the yeast.  Me likey.

Pick Me (4.8%): Brewed with fresh Maine wild blueberries, this lager captures the unique, robust flavor profile of those tiny blue miracles with a clean, fresh finish in every sip.

JB: Several years ago I'd never have been caught dead drinking a blueberry beer, but I've come to appreciate them quite a bit, particularly the subtle ones.  This is one of those, with a unique purple tinge and light blueberry notes.

The History of WCW SuperBrawl (1997)

SuperBrawl VII - Cow Palace - 2.23.97

We've entered the first full year of the nWo era, when WCW was killing the WWF every week in the ratings.  Hogan & co. had taken the company by storm, winning most of the belts, and by this point even Eric Bischoff had joined the heel supergroup, which put them more or less "in charge" of everything.  It got to where nWo guys would lose a belt and Bischoff would just reverse the decision the next night and give the title back to his buddies.  This of course begs the question, "Why bother having the match then?"  But whatever, it was working like crazy for ratings in 1997.  Between that and the wild Cruiserweight action, Nitro had become destination TV, while RAW scrambled to counter it with anything they could think of.  The WCW PPVs on the other hand suffered a lot due to the overemphasis on storylines over in-ring action.  SuperBrawl VII is one such example...

Once again, Dusty Rhodes joined Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan on commentary, more often than not blathering on about god-knows-what and offering little to no insight.  No disrespect meant to Dusty, but as a color commentator he was approximately as bad as Booker T is now.

Syxx vs. Dean Malenko was a solid Cruiserweight opener, with Malenko out for revenge against Syxx for insulting his father.  Malenko laid into Mr. Waltman from the opening bell and dominated the first half, even pulling Syxx up during two early pin attempts so he could inflict more punishment.  Syxx came back in the second half and was about to hit Dean with the belt until Eddie Guerrero ran down and tried to yank the belt away, only to lose his grip on it, allowing Syxx to whack Malenko in the face and score the pin.  A decent match but already with the run-ins??

Gee, I wonder where this is gonna go....

Next up was a lucha showcase six-man with Konnan, La Parka and Villano IV facing Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo and Ciclone.  This was your basic late 90s spotfest with everyone doing as much as possible in nine minutes.  At one point Ciclone went for a twisting Asai moonsault and completely missed Villano, landing on his face on the floor.  Late in the match they broke out some over-the-top moves that involved all six guys (like four of them doing "The Star" while La Parka put Guerrera in a Mexican surfboard in the center).  Finally Konnan nailed Juvi with Splash Mountain to win a pretty sloppy but mildly entertaining schmozz.

The next two matches were shaping up to be solid outings until outside nonsense happened.  TV Champion Prince Iaukea defended against Rey Mysterio in a fun little match that featured crisp action and some nice death-defying lucha stuff from Rey.  But then Steven Regal showed up at the end and cost Rey the match, pulling him off the ring apron in such a way that Rey hit his face on the apron and Iaukea was able to just pin him.  Stupid ending to a decent bout.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The History of WCW SuperBrawl (1996)

WCW was still running on the WWF's old fumes....

SuperBrawl VI - Bayfront Arena - 2.11.96

WCW was nearing the end of its full-on WWF-lite phase, and the landscape was about to change only a few months after this show.  But for now we're stuck in retread mode, and the results are once again quite tedious.  Here we go....

I've said it before but I can't stand listening to Dusty Rhodes' commentary.  His overuse of the phrases "If you weel" and "Dubya C Dubya, where da big boys play" is so beyond grating I wanna stab myself in the face.  Also when did Tony Schiavone begin using the word "telecast" every thirty seconds?  I don't remember him ever saying that word in the 80s.  Jeezus Christ Tony!

The show opened with a mildly entertaining garbage match between The Nasty Boys and Public Enemy, which at the time was probably considered pretty wild.  Both teams were pretty dull to watch in general but this match was a little fun at least.

The surprising hit of the night was TV Champ Johnny B. Badd vs. Diamond Dallas Page.  Pretty decent stuff here, as these guys had good chemistry.  Weird to see Badd go over here since he was WWF-bound a month later.  DDP was morphing into the solid hand he'd become during the nWo era.

Taker musta been pissed....

This show had three very disappointing matches, and the first was a Tag Title match; Harlem Heat vs. Sting & Luger.  A major letdown considering the talent involved.  Too much of this and the followup match against the Road Warriors was taken up with "Is Luger a good guy or a bad guy?"  No one looked terribly motivated.  Hawk & Animal interfered to give Sting & Luger the win (I guess stemming from their feud with Luger?).  Pretty weak.

The US Title was on the line next as Konnan defended against One Man Gang.  Jeezus this was terrible.  I was never impressed with Konnan to begin with, and seriously, someone thought the One Man Gang would get over in 1996??  Gang's offense looked beyond sluggish and one-dimensional, and Konnan was sloppy as all hell.  Konnan won with the worst-looking cannonball-type move ever.  Brutally awful.

Speaking of awful, next was an "I Respect You" strap match between Kevin Sullivan and Brian Pillman.  Now correct me if I'm wrong, but is being forced to say the phrase "I respect you" really that much of a blow to someone's pride?  You can very easily have respect for someone you dislike; it's not like an "I Quit" match where you're admitting you got beaten.  Anyway, Pillman infamously went off-script here and surrendered 45 seconds into the match "I respect you, Booker Man!", and Arn Anderson was sent out as a sub.  Anderson and Sullivan plodded through about three minutes before Ric Flair broke up the fight and got them on the same page, uniting them against Hulk Hogan.  Utterly pointless.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The History of NJPW Dominion (2014)

The Bullet Club has taken over, folks.  It's New Japan, 2014....

BodyMaker Colosseum - 6.21.14

By June 2014 the Bullet Club had gone through a major shift, as founder Prince Devitt left New Japan for TitanLand (following a Loser Leaves NJPW match at Invasion Attack), and was replaced as leader by the industry's hottest free agent AJ Styles.  AJ made a major statement from the start, capturing the IWGP Championship in his New Japan in-ring debut.  Also by this point buzzworthy indy tag team The Young Bucks had been added to the mix, making the Bullet Club a diverse, powerful stable.  The 2014 Dominion show was fairly strange compared to the others; with no IWGP Title match on the card it would instead by headlined by an Intercontinental Championship match (the third of five such NJPW PPVs that year), while IWGP Champion Styles was in a tag match third from the top.  What's weirder about this show is that by my count three of the five pre-intermission bouts scored **** or better, while none of the final four matches did.  What is this, a WWE show??  But Dominion 2014 was still a solid, easy to watch outing with some fine wrestling.

The show opened gorgeously with The Young Bucks vs. Time Splitters for the IWGP Jr. Tag belts.  This began with lots of innovative, fast-paced action, the Splitters mostly frustrating the Bucks.  Matt and Nick eventually took control after their patented head scissor/flying kick combo, and kept outmaneuvering Alex Shelley to keep him from escaping as they worked him over.  The Bucks broke out a slew of tandem moves over several minutes, and finally Shelley evaded them and got the hot tag.  Kushida ran wild, taking out both Bucks, but fell victim to a Doomsday Device dropkick for a two-count.  Time Splitters recovered and hit a tandem Sliced Bread for a nearfall.  Kushida went for the Hoverboard Lock but Matt countered with a tombstone setup for the IndyTaker.  The pin was broken up and the Bucks hit their tandem 450 splash for another two-count.  Finally they went for More Bang for Your Buck, but it was broken up, and Kushida snared a Hoverboard lock on Nick for the tapout finish.  Just an awesome, prototypical Bucks-Splitters match to kick off the show; exactly the kind of match you'd want from these teams.  ****1/2

The shortest match of the night, and the only one under ten minutes, pitted Tetsuya Naito against Tama Tonga in a crisp, energetic match.  Tonga attacked before the bell and controlled most of the early moments, taking the action outside and hitting a TKO-type move to drop Naito throat-first on the railing, which looked brutal.  Naito beat the 20-count and took over the match with a neckbreaker, and the remaining minutes featured quick back-and-forth action.  Tonga got the advantage with a backdrop suplex and the finishing sequence was full of reversals until Naito found a break and hit the Stardust Press for the win.  This was fun.  ***

Maybe the unexpected hit of the night for me (and I'm not sure why I was surprised by this) was Goto and Shibata vs. Yuji Nagata and Tomoaki Honma.  These four guys beat the shit out of each other for eleven minutes and it was glorious.  Honma attacked before the bell, pummeling Shibata with chops and stomps, but Shibata wasn't having it and engaged both guys with traded forearms.  Later in the match Shibata and Honma had an incredible striking battle, trading rapid-fire palm strikes until Honma leveled him with a lariat and tagged Nagata.  Shibata and Nagata then had a sick striking war of their own and traded backdrop suplexes.  Shibata and Nagata eventually spilled out of the ring as Goto and Honma fought inside.  Honma hit a blockbuster but missed his diving headbutt.  Goto landed a yushi guroshi but Honma countered the Shouten with a small package for a nearfall.  Goto then hit a Dominator-type move for the win.  Shibata and Nagata continued brawling all the way to the dressing room.  This was like a NEVER Openweight tag match, stiff as fuck and full of nonstop action.  ****

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Brewery Reviewery: Definitive Brewing (Portland, ME)

Our Portland, Maine Brewery Reviewery series continues with Definitive Brewing!

Definitive Brewing
35 Industrial Way
Portland ME 04103

Located next to the Beermuda Triangle as I like to call it (Battery Steele, Austin Street and Foundation), right across the street from Allagash, is a standalone building that houses Definitive Brewing.  Definitive boasts a big variety of flavors and offers a really inviting, wide open tasting room with a full view of the brewing floor.  They're dog-friendly so on this day we met a slew of adorable four-legged pals, and there's a bookcase full of board games to keep you busy (I lost at Jenga but was victorious at the old-school game Shoot the Moon, where you have to manipulate a ball bearing uphill across two metal rails - I made it to Jupiter).

Famous Portland landmark Holy Donuts had a table that day, so we tried a couple of their tasty offerings as well.  These are decadent donuts, folks.

But I'm no donut expert, I'm here to talk about beer.  Definitive lets you order full pours or flights, so we split a double-flight of eight beers, allowing us to try all but the two sours on tap; sour beers are not our thing, sadly.  Let's hit it....

Monday, June 10, 2019

NJPW Dominion 2019: Ospreay Steals the Show, Ibushi Almost Dies

Welp, Dominion 2019 was definitely not on the level of 2018, or 2017, or 2015.  But then those three editions are three of the best PPVs I've ever seen.  Still I have to consider this show, very good though it may have been, as a mild disappointment.  I've come to expect Dominion to automatically be a Show of the Year contender, and this wasn't that.  Fortunately it was a sellout and set up some cool stuff for the future, but I was expecting a grand slam and they only hit a triple.

Before we get to Dominion though, I wanted to talk a little about the three big matches from the Best of the Super Juniors finals, because that show concluded with a trilogy of superb stuff.

Jay White and Hiroshi Tanahashi had a pretty excellent little match, where the returning but still very much hurting Tana muscled through and still managed to deliver.  White concentrated on Tana's surgically repaired elbow for much of the bout and played the asshole to a tee.  Side note: I love White's new facial hair, it somehow makes him look much more like a main event heel.  At one point Gedo distracted the referee allowing White to hit a low blow, but it backfired as Tana hit a low blow of his own and rolled him up for a very close nearfall.  Tana went for the Cloverleaf but White grabbed the injured arm and converted it into a cradle for the three-count.  This was maybe the best match these two have had so far and they did a great job of masking Tana's limitations while letting their characters drive the action.  Oddly Tana's injuries are somehow *less* exposed in a singles bout than in a six-man.  More on that later.  Damn good match.  ****

Even better was Jon Moxley's US Championship debut against Juice Robinson.  These two guys had a rugged, ugly, austere fight, where Moxley busted up Juice's eyebrow early on, using punches and biting to draw some blood.  They used tables and brawled a lot on the outside to evoke a Terry Funk-type vibe, and this was the hardest I've seen Moxley work in quite some time.  He really did come off like a man freed of WWE's creative constraints and seemed to be having the time of his life.  Juice, his dreadlocks shorn (I'm not sure how I feel about this), has reinvented himself as a more serious, tough babyface and dished out just as much punishment as he took.  The match culminated with a series of reversals, and Moxley hit his signature DDT, but Juice kicked out and the place went wild.  Moxley then hit another DDT but this time with elevation, to capture the US Title.  Moxley is now the only man to hold both the WWE and IWGP US Championships, and the first debuting star to win a New Japan title since AJ Styles five years ago.  This was exactly the kind of debut match I wanted to see from Moxley and I can't wait to see him in the G1 tournament.  Helluva fight.  ****1/2

Not to be outdone, by anyone, Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi blew the motherfuckin' roof off the place with their BOSJ final.  Ospreay, who has emerged as NJPW's newest breakout star, and Shingo, who has absolutely crushed it since debuting with the company last fall, pulled out all the stops in a 33-minute war that felt like 18.  I won't even try to recap everything they did, but a few of the really memorable moments included Ospreay hitting a 630 senton on Shingo's back, followed by a shooting star press, an apron OsCutter, a Shingo Last of the Dragon that looked absolutely crippling, Ospreay kicking out after two Pumping Bombers, and finally the top rope OsCutter followed by the Stormbreaker to hand Shingo his first New Japan defeat.  Just a fucking incredible battle that nothing on the Dominion show could possibly have followed.  Ospreay then announced that he is moving to Japan and will wrestle in both the Jr. and Heavyweight divisions.  This guy has to be a top G1 finisher, and should probably win next year's tournament.  Goddamn, this was insane.  *****

Brewery Reviewery: Foundation Brewing Company (Portland, ME)

Stop #4 on our Portland, Maine brewery tour brings us to Foundation Brewing Company, also located on Industrial Way, across from Allagash.  Foundation shares walls with Battery Steele and Austin Street, in a building I like to call The Beermuda Triangle (trademark pending).

1 Industrial Way #5
Portland, ME 04103

Like its neighbors, Foundation is nestled in a modest warehouse space, but they make the most of it, with a bright, lively atmosphere, plenty of seating and shelves of board games to keep you occupied while you enjoy some lovely flavor.  You can either peruse their wide-ranging, ample selection with flights or treat yourself to full pours, or pick up some to-go cans.  We went with the flight option so as to get four samples, but there were no fewer than ten options on offer (our dinner reservations downtown sadly wouldn't permit a second flight).

Here's what we came up with...

Dreamboat (NEIPA, 6.6%): Dreamboat is a New England IPA featuring Columbus and Eureka! hops. Our first IPA brewed with an American Ale yeast. Dreamboat pours a golden yellow with a pronounced haze. The soft mouthfeel is like floating on clouds, with no bitterness and flavors of pineapple and resin, with a dank backbone. First served in the tasting room on draft in December 2018.

JB: This here is a smooth NEIPA, citrusy with that pleasant dankness to give it some real complexity.  Probably my favorite of the bunch.