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.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Parents' Night In #20: 2001 A Space Odyssey - Kelly's Live Reaction!

Kelly has never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey.  I know, disgraceful.  But for this special PNI episode we capture her live, real-time reaction to the film.  Spoiler alert: Stanley Kubrick breaks her brain!

Join us as we enjoy some craft beer and watch one of Justin's all-time favorite films, which has now become one of Kelly's as well.  If 2001 was Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece (and most would agree it was), then PNI Episode #20 discussing 2001 is ours!

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Thursday, June 6, 2019

NJPW Dominion 2019 Preview & Predictions

Big goings-on in New Japan these days, not the least of which is this Sunday's Dominion card!  

The Best of the Super Juniors tournament came to a close on Wednesday, and for the second time Will Ospreay has emerged victorious, unseating the previously undefeated Shingo Takagi, who swept all nine of his regular tourney matches.  So Shingo is the 2007 New England Patriots then.  Not to be outdone however, the debuting Jon Moxley made huge waves by capturing the IWGP US Title from Juice Robinson, becoming the first man to hold both the WWE and IWGP versions of said championship.  Both guys have compelling matchups on the Dominion card, but there's a whole lot more to boot.  Let's get to it.

Jon Moxley vs. Shota Umino

What a strange placement for the US Champ, in a last-minute opener against the most promising current Young Lion.  But if given time this should be pretty great.  Umino of course had a fantastic New Japan Cup showing against Hiroshi Tanahashi, and this match almost feels like an after-the-fact audition for Moxley in a way.  Now that he's proven himself against another gaijin/NXT alum he'll get a real taste of native New Japan opposition.

Justin: Moxley is obviously winning
Landon: Moxely kills Shotime.

Shingo Takagi vs. Satoshi Kojima

Another strange undercard match that should nonetheless be fun pits BOSJ runner-up Shingo against veteran Kojima.  I wonder if this means Shingo will be moving up to heavyweight; he is after all massive compared to the other Juniors, and his stablemate Takahashi is returning soon.  Even better, maybe he'll be in the G1.  Seems like another audition of sorts to me.  But I expect a fine bout.

Justin: Shingo gets his first heavyweight division win
Landon: Shingo to win. Still upset he didn't win the BOSJ.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The History of WCW SuperBrawl (1995)

No WCW.....don't do it!

Ah crap, they did it.....

SuperBrawl V - Baltimore Arena - 2.19.95

Welp, this was only two months removed from the dreadful Starrcade '94, at a time when Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff had taken everything that made WCW what it was and chucked it out the goddamn window (except Ric Flair, whom they kept around just to torture for seven more years).  The result was a mostly horrible in-ring product with a bunch of recognizable stars from the old WWF, plus a few guys whose inclusion on the roster absolutely baffles me.

It should be noted that an Arn Anderson-Johnny B. Badd TV Title match was on the pre-show and got a whopping four-and-a-half minutes.  Remember this as you read the list of luminaries that actually made the main card.  Fuckin' hell.....

First up we have Alex Wright vs. Paul Roma, in what was a pretty nondescript opener apart from a few clever moves by Wright.  Not sure why he was facing half of a tag team, but whatever.  He had solid potential but never really lived up to it.  Roma played a good douchebag but was more or less irrelevant by 1995.  Wright won with a rollup after shoving Roma into Orndorff.

The less said about this next match the better.  Jim Duggan vs. Bunkhouse Buck.  Holy shit this match was boring.  Two inept brawlers slogging through an eleven-minute match.  What kinda generic-ass gimmick is Bunkhouse Buck?  A farmer guy.  That's it.  Awful stuff.  Duggan won with the lamest-looking clothesline ever.

I'm in hell.  Next up is Kevin Sullivan vs. Dave Sullivan - also terrible.  Dave Sullivan was of course Kevin's younger brother (not in real life), who moved as though in slow motion.  Where did WCW get all these hack wrestlers in the mid 90s?  Evad, Bunkhouse, The Renegade; all of them useless.  This was just about as dull as the previous match and ended mercifully when Kevin rolled Dave up and hooked the tights.  Who in God's name thought Kevin Sullivan was relevant enough in 1995 to have a singles feud with his pretend brother?  Hilariously enough Brutus Beefcake, the main event challenger from Starrcade '94 two months earlier, was Kevin Sullivan's sidekick in the third match on this show.

Seriously, who was shelling out 30 bucks to see this??

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The History of NXT TakeOver: XXV

Man, for a show that sorta flew under the radar in the wake of AEW's monumental debut, NXT TakeOver XXV really tore the house down, lit the ruins on fire, and peed it out.......that was a compliment by the way.  WWE's one good brand delivered yet another incredible show this past weekend, a fast-moving 160 minutes that boasted three ****+ matches and a couple of very strong supporting bouts.  This brand is on fire.

The show opened with a stellar 15-minute fight between Matt Riddle and Roderick Strong.  I said two months ago that Riddle's bout with Velveteen Dream finally sold me on the former MMA star, and this match solidified that in spades.  These guys went balls-out for 15 minutes and yet still found room to build to a peak, with super crisp, smooth-as-fuck action and tons of nearfalls.  This is how you kick off a PPV.  Spots that stuck out to me were Strong nailing Riddle with repeated running forearms, each of which got a bigger pop than the last, followed by his double-underhook backbreaker for a long two-count that got a huge gasp from the audience.  Riddle failed to put him away with Bromission but instead debuted what was basically a reverse Neutralizer called Bro Derek (cute name) for the win.  This was a fantastic showcase match for Riddle but also displayed what an incredible worker Roddy Strong is.  The intensity and crispness reminded me of a NEVER Openweight fight and I could watch these two smash each other all day long.  Matt Riddle is the real deal.  ****1/2

Next up was the 4-Way Ladder Match to determine the new NXT Tag Champions.  I might be in the minority but I'm burned out on ladder matches.  WWE does them way too often and there's not much new under the sun; it's like trying to stand out from the pack by releasing an action movie during the summer.  That said, this was one of the better ladder car wrecks in recent years.  Certainly not on par with last year's North American Championship match, but definitely a fun outing with lots of cringe-worthy bumps (mostly taken by Kyle O'Reilly).  The talent involved was strong enough to make everything look great and painful.  This was basically twenty minutes of chaos.  Late in the match the Forgotten Sons' third man Jaxson Ryker interfered and laid everyone out, proceeding to set up a ladder for one of his pals to climb.  But all six men he attacked ganged up on him and beat him down with said ladder, taking him out of the equation.  The match boiled down to Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler prepping their ascent only for both Street Profits to take them out after Montez Ford pulled a Shelton Benjamin by vaulting from the top rope to the ladder and retrieving the belts.  Very good ladder match, even if I'm kinda tired of seeing these.  ****

Monday, June 3, 2019

Brewery Reviewery: Austin Street Brewing (Portland, ME)

We're back with another Portland, Maine installment of Brewery Reviewery, here at!

Stop #3 on our recent Portland tour was Austin Street Brewery, which has two locations in the area; we visited the Industrial Way location, in the same building as Battery Steele and Foundation Brewing (review forthcoming), and right across from Allagash.

Industrial Way Blending, Bottling & Tasting Room
1 Industrial Way, #8
Portland, ME 04103

Fox Street Brewery & Tasting Room
115 Fox Street
Portland, ME 04101 

This was another modest taproom, with most of the seating available at the outdoor picnic tables and only a few places to sit inside by the ordering window.  The staff was very personable and eager to discuss their ever-changing list of offerings.  We got a flight and sat outside on a lovely May afternoon.

Here's what we thought of the stuff....

ABV%: 5.3

Patina Pale is our flagship hop forward pale ale.  We start with a blend of base malts in the mash tun, then add copious amounts of American hops in the kettle followed by even more in the form of dry hopping.  The result is a very citrusy, slightly piney ale with a crisp malt background and just enough bitterness to balance it all out.

JB: Patina makes perfect sense as a flagship brew.  Crisp, easy drinking, balanced, with a mix of citrus and hops.

ABV%: 3.8

Made with all Maine grain, we use 2-row pale malt from Maine Malt House, flaked wheat and organic flaked rye from Maine Grains.  The beer is then generously hopped with Mosaic.  The resulting beer is loaded with pineapple and orange notes that carry through from the aroma into the taste with a bready malt flavor to balance everything out.

JB: This is a really tasty session IPA that almost drinks like a farmhouse ale.  Nice and citrusy for the summer months and super easy to drink.

ABV%: 6.9

Florens is a double dry hopped IPA loaded with Mosaic, Citra and Equanot hops.  This very aromatic beer has a flavor dominated by pineapple, and grapefruit.  A slightly sweet finish features just enough bitterness to balance.

JB: This one is a bolder but balanced IPA, lightly bitter with some citrus; if you like NEIPAs (and boy do I), you'll dig this one.

ABV%: 5.0

Our kölsch style ale is traditionally brewed with pilsner malt and a touch of malted wheat and then hopped with only noble varieties.  The result is an easy drinking beer that blurs the line between ale and lager.  An aroma of spicy hops followed a flavor of honey and straw with a slight fruitiness makes for the perfect beer to reach for when balance and subtlety is needed.

JB: A really nice Pilsner-type beer that doesn't have the unpleasant sourness at the end like some kolsch beers do.  Light and refreshing.

Austin Street Brewery's Industrial Way location, like Battery Steele, is fairly unassuming, but their product is quite delicious and varied, and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.  Definitely worth a stop on your Portland brewery itinerary.

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