Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2008)

Well, the first half of this show was garbage filler, but it picked up huge in the second half....


SummerSlam '08 - Conseco Fieldhouse - 8/17/08

As with the 2008 edition of WrestleMania, I went into this show not excited at all.  The two World Titles had lost so much value from being deemphasized it was absurd.  Just take a look at the lineup for this card.  Seven matches total.  Matches 6 and 7, the co-main events, had no championships on the line.  The two Title matches are 4th and 5th on the card.  What. The hell.  Also despite CM Punk cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase and winning the World Title, he was booked as a fluke Champion, unable to beat anyone decisively in free TV matches and paired on this show with the less-than-relevant JBL.  Then again he got a great gig on this show compared to his counterpart Triple H.  The WWE Champion was booked against the world's largest deadweight, The Great Khali.  I guess no one learned anything from SummerSlam 2007?  Still the 2008 'Slam ended up being a pretty good show, mostly due to a pair of excellent main events.

It should be noted there was also a well-done RAW angle on this PPV, as Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels reignited their amazing blood feud.  I'm not sure why this had to happen on a PPV, especially one where WWE struggled to find worthy challengers for the top two belts, but whatever.

The opening match was forgettable but not bad, as Jeff Hardy took on MVP. Hardy had an up-and-down 2008, finally getting main event-level pushes but also getting caught with controlled substances and getting suspended.

Second was a match reminiscent of the Val Venis/Trish Stratus vs. Eddie Guerrero/Chyna match from SummerSlam 2000, as Santino Marella/Beth Phoenix took on Kofi Kingston/Mickie James, where the winning team would walk out the Intercontinental and Women's Champions, respectively.  This wasn't good but it was inoffensive.

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2007)

I hate this show.  Hate it.  So I hope you're ready for some anger in this review.  Fuckin' hell, let's get started....


SummerSlam '07 - Continental Airlines Arena - 8/26/07

I take it back.  Every horrible thing I said about SummerSlam '06?  Forget it all.  That show was a paragon of wrestling awesomeness compared to this phoned-in fiasco.  Holy lord, I can't believe this show made the air.  Legit, looking back on the match lineup and how brutally half-assed everything was, this looks like a WCW PPV circa 2000.  I'm pretty sure WWE was daring people NOT to buy this show.

Kane vs. Finlay?  Crap.

Umaga vs. Carlito vs. Mr. Kennedy?  Three-way Intercontinental crap.

Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero?  Saw it the previous year and it wasn't that great then.  Chavo was heatless and basically just jobbing to the stars in 2007.  Two years later he'd be jobbing to Hornswaggle.

Divas Battle Royal?  Nice-looking crap.

John Morrison vs. CM Punk - Okay match but it only went seven minutes and the company had no plans for Punk at all until Morrison got nailed for steroids two weeks later, and they finally put the ECW Title on Punk.  But this match wasn't a tenth as good as that one.

Jeezus, JoMo is pretty.  I mean I'm not gay, but he's BEAUTIFUL.

Triple H vs. King Booker - Watch WrestleMania XIX to see what these two were capable of.  Watch this match to see Triple H bury the shit out of a top-flight semi-main eventer.  Seriously, this is basically an eight-minute squash.

The Great Khali vs. Batista - Get the fuck outta here.  Khali was actually the World Champion at one point??  Khali can barely walk upright.  What dipshit put the company's number-two championship on him?  In case you were wondering, unwatchable crap.

John Cena vs. Randy Orton - Finally, one good match on this putrid card.  John Cena was Mr. SummerSlam three years running, two of them as one half of the only good match.  This was fine, but I had zero emotional stake in it.  In 2007 I was really only watching WWE programming to see CM Punk (who got no push at all), and the occasional Shawn Michaels classic.  At the time the company was frantically trying to convince everyone that Cena and Orton were two of the greatest of all time, so they completely oversold this match.  It's a good main event, but not at all a standout, except on this absolute dud of a PPV.

This one stupid move was better than the entire rest of the card.

2007 was another pretty awful year for WWE, when I was paying much more attention to TNA and especially Ring of Honor to get my wrestling fix (ROH circa 2007 was AMAZEBALLS).  WWE was doing whatever they wanted, regardless if it worked or if it was what the fans wanted to see.  They were attempting to create new stars, but pushing the wrong ones, and they were still stuck on the Attitude template.  By year's end they had finally started to refocus and were at least putting on good solid PPV events.  But SummerSlam '07 is one of the worst shows I've ever seen and is probably the worst SummerSlam in the event's history.

Best Match: John Cena vs. Randy Orton - Cena was in the best match of the night three years running.
Worst Match: Great Khali vs. Batista - Big Dave stunk up the joint two 'Slams in a row.  This one wasn't really his fault though.  Shawn Michaels couldn't make Khali look good.
What I'd Change: Ya know what, if this is your SummerSlam card, cancel the whole show.  Just toss it all out.  Christ!
Most Disappointing Match: John Morrison vs. CM Punk - These two got to show what they were capable of two weeks later on free TV, but on this show they got a scant seven minutes.
Most Pleasant Surprise: That the universe didn't collapse on itself under the gravity of this black hole of anti-entertainment.
Overall Rating: 1.5/10
Better than WrestleMania 23?: Ask me that again.  I double-dog dare ya, motherfucker.  Ask me one more goddamn time!

2006

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Top Ten Things: Tool Songs

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

Today I'm thinkin' about everyone's favorite weirdo math-metal quartet, the band whose fifth album is just one month away (FINALLY!), the Stanley Kubrick of rock n' roll, Tool!


I compare them to Kubrick because like Stanley, Tool are uncompromising in their artisitic vision, relentlessly perfectionistic, and their output is not easily digestible, yet it's still commercially successful.  You need to put in some work to enjoy a Tool album; it's not something you can listen to passively.  Between the unconventional time signatures, the multi-layered instrumentation, the radio-defying running times, and the hooks that only sink in after several listens, a Tool record gets infinitely better with familiarity.  When I think of Tool I think of Maynard's snaking, undulating melodies, Adam's agile guitar riffs that fit together like puzzle pieces with Justin's pulsing bass lines, and Danny's impossibly complex drum patterns that sound like he has at least two extra limbs.  Tool is unlike any other band out there; the songs conjure vivid imagery and develop organically, taking as long as they need to get where they're going.

But which Tool songs are at the top of the pile?  Let's take a look at the Top Ten Tool Tunes.....

**Note: I'm a music nerd so some of this will deal with the songs' compositional theory.**



10. Lateralus


The title track from their third album, the wildly complex "Lateralus" features shifting time signatures (5/8 in the verse, 9/8 to 8/8 to 7/8 in the chorus) and a vocal rhythm inspired by the Fibonacci sequence.  The subject matter is about growing and pushing one's boundaries to achieve something greater than themselves, again tying into the Fibonacci theme ("Ride the spiral to the end/And may just go where no one's been").  The verse/chorus/verse/chorus structure then gives way to a climactic third act that employs a 4-over-3 polyrhythm, with the vocals in 4 and everything else in 3.  This is one of Tool's many epic tunes that dazzles musically but also carries a positive message.





9. Jambi


The second song on 10,000 Days borrows its strange title from Pee Wee's Playhouse (specifically the show's genie character), which Danny Carey said sprung to mind when he heard Justin Chancellor's bass line.  "Jambi" is mostly in 9/8, giving the song a circular pulse, and features some of Adam Jones' most impressive syncopated rhythm guitar work.  Lyrically the song seems to deal with the meaninglessness of wealth and power without being able to share it with one's soul mate, as it were - "If I could I'd wish it all away/If I thought tomorrow would take you away."  Then the song's conclusion mentions two uniting as one, a theme that recurs later in the album and in its stereoscopic artwork.  It's probably as close to a love song as the band has ever written.


The History of WWE SummerSlam (2006)

This is what I like to call The Era of the Phoned-In SummerSlam, starting with a show I went to live and wish I hadn't....


SummerSlam '06 - TD Banknorth Garden - 8/20/06

What a stinker of a card this was.  I was in attendance at this show, sitting in the loge opposite the hard cameras, and when I watched this on DVD a month later I actually spent more time looking for myself in the crowd than watching the matches (I was wearing a bright red football jersey so I was easy to spot).  That's how spectacularly dull SummerSlam 2006 was.

The show opened with a passable but uninspired bout between Rey Mysterio (fresh off his terrible World Title run where he was booked as the weakest champion ever) and Chavo Guerrero.  These two have had excellent matches over the years - just check out No Way Out 2004 - but this wasn't one of them.  It was an okay opener but not at all memorable.

Next up was Big Show defending the ill-conceived new ECW Title against Sabu in a watered-down hardcore match.

Attempting to recreate the buzz of 2005's SummerSlam, WWE brought Hulk Hogan back yet again and had him wrestle Randy Orton in the third match of the night.  Keep in mind how unimpressed I was with Hogan vs. HBK.  That was a masterpiece compared to this.  Hogan won by DQ in under eleven minutes.

One of the two watchable matches was next, as Mick Foley and Ric Flair had a bloody I Quit match which was going pretty well until the abrupt finish.  Flair threatened to beat up Foley's crush Melina, prompting Foley to give up.  Melina of course turned on Foley the next night. 

Look at that blubber fly!

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2005)

2005 - the year Shawn Michaels slummed it by carrying Hulk Hogan to one of his best matches....

SummerSlam '05 - MCI Center - 8/21/05

The 2005 edition was a strange one indeed.  A dream match main event with no championships involved, two pretty good but rather short World Title matches, Matt Hardy getting utterly destroyed again, Kurt Angle vs. a jobber, and a 30-second squash.  Alrighty then.

In the opening contest, Chris Benoit (going from the 2004 main event to the 2005 curtain jerker) defeated Orlando Jordan for the US Title in 25 seconds.  Umm, ok.  Good rule of thumb for PPV matches: don't ever include a match on the card that's shorter than the ring entrances.  Kinda makes people resent that they paid to see the match.

Match #2 was Matt Hardy's second brutal SummerSlam ass-kicking in a row, as Edge beat him so badly that the match was stopped.  Now just to give you all an idea how moronic this was, Matt Hardy had legitimately been fired from the company a few months back for airing online that his girlfriend Lita was cheating on him with Edge.  Why this is a fireable offense I'm not sure, but I guess Vince just hates a cuckold.  Anywho, the fans lashed out at WWE for firing Matt, demanding that he be brought back.  Vince obliged and smartly used the real-life drama as the backdrop for his feud with Edge.  This was spectacular television and should've led to an absolutely thrilling blood feud between the two.  Unfortunately Matt got his ass handed to him by Edge at nearly every turn and therefore the heat for this rivalry dissipated almost immediately.  Matt got crushed in under five minutes and the match was stopped after Matt bled a lot.  Nevermind that the main event featured much more blood and no ref stoppage.  Matt then went on to lose to Edge several more times before finally beating him at Unforgiven in a cage match.  But by then it was clear Matt wasn't really in Edge's league, and he was moved off RAW shortly thereafter.  This was probably the worst-botched feud since the Invasion angle.

The big-time SummerSlam feel finally arrived in match #3, as old frenemies Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio lit it up in a splendid Ladder Match.  While the angle behind this is one of the stupidest in recent memory - the idea was that Mysterio's son Domenic was actually adopted and Eddie was his birth father (nevermind that if you've seen Mysterio's face or you know what his wife looks like, Domenic is very clearly THEIR son), who wanted custody of the boy.  Hanging over the ring was a clipboard with Domenic's custody papers.  Now, I'm of the opinion that a wrestling match should basically never, ever, ever, EVER resolve any kind of real-life legal dispute.  It's patently ridiculous that any legitimate court would accept a pretend fighting contest as an acceptable way for two parties to come to an agreement over things like marriages, child custody, ownership of a car, intellectual property, etc.  Wrestling matches should resolve wrestling feuds.  That's it.  That being said, this was a helluva good ladder match and thankfully put the stupendously idiotic custody battle to bed.

It wouldn't be a WWE card if at least one tremendous talent weren't totally wasted, so at SummerSlam '05 Kurt Angle was paired with the long-since-irrelevant Eugene in a throwaway four-minute squash.  Remind me again, what was Shelton Benjamin doing that night?  Could Angle not have wrestled him instead?  For the love of Jeezus??

In a 'Mania rematch Randy Orton made his comeback from an arm injury to once again face The Undertaker.  These two worked great together, and this bout was just as good as their 3-star-plus WrestleMania 21 match.  Orton finally got the win here to continue the feud.

It's the Clothesline from Hustle Loyalty Respect.

The show-stealing WWE Championship match was next (oddly in the 6th spot out of 8) as Chris Jericho got his first one-on-one PPV WWE Title match since 2002, and carried the still-clumsy Cena to a damn fine 15-minute contest.  The next night Jericho would repeat this performance before walking away from the company for two years.  It was nice to see him finally get a real title shot after three full years of criminal misuse.

Batista then defended the World Title against JBL in a match I didn't care much about, but it was a solid 9-minute no-DQ brawl.  Batista made convincing use of the ring steps to put his challenger away, via a Batista bomb.

The main event saw the first-and-only-time dream match of Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels.  Two months earlier on an episode of RAW, Michaels turned heel on Hogan to set this up.  Hogan was then absent for almost the entire build of this match, leaving Shawn to tackle all the hype (which yielded a pretty hilarious Larry King parody sketch where Shawn impersonated Hogan).  The match itself was probably one of Hogan's best, but far from Shawn's.  It was about five minutes too long and featured Shawn extensively beating the tar out of Hogan, bloodying him profusely with a chair (yet no ref stoppage - hmmmmm), and nailing him with the superkick before Hogan's inevitably trite, outdated no-sell comeback.  Seriously, this match really illustrated how comically obsolete Hogan's cartoonishly powderpuff offense was in 2005.  Hogan hit the big boot, which Shawn sold like James Caan being riddled with several dozen bullets in The Godfather.  He looked like a dying fish out of water having an epileptic fit.  Then Hogan paused for what felt like seventeen minutes to mug for the crowd before finally, mercifully hitting his stupid legdrop.  One of the worst-executed "Hogan comeback" endings I've ever seen.  This match really kinda stunk and I question whether it was a dream match we really needed to see.  Originally the plan was for Shawn to win here and set up a steel cage rematch at Unforgiven, where Hogan would've triumphed.  But Terry wanted no part of jobbing to a 220-pounder, so Shawn agreed to lose and they dropped the planned rematch.  The following night on RAW Shawn went back to being a babyface after verbally sticking it to Hogan one last time.  So this match had essentially no consequences and therefore no purpose.

Look at Shawn just bouncing around like a SuperBall for that old fool.

SummerSlam 2005 was a very mixed bag - four of the matches were good to very good while the other four were varying degrees of pointless despite a couple of them having quite a bit of potential.  Following this show the company shifted some talent around and had a decent fall season built on the OVW Class of 2002, but this show sorta feels stuck out of time.

Best Match: John Cena vs. Chris Jericho - an unexpected hit from the inexperienced WWE Champ
Worst Match: Orlando Jordan vs. Chris Benoit - 25 seconds. Why bother at that point?
What I'd Change: Swap out Eugene for Shelton Benjamin and you'd have the match of the night.  Make Matt vs. Edge an actual contest where Matt goes too far and gets DQ'd to set up a rematch, give Benoit-Jordan at least four minutes to have a real match, and cut Hogan's match down to about 16 minutes and force him to come up with a realistic finish.  Or better yet, screw Hogan, he was already way too old to be wrestling, let alone beating a full-time roster member.
Most Disappointing Match: Edge vs. Matt Hardy - what a waste
Most Pleasant Surprise: Cena vs. Jericho
Overall Rating: 6.5/10
Better Than WrestleMania 21?: Certainly not.

2004

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Monday, July 29, 2019

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2004)

A step up from 2003 overall, but this edition was still not the on-paper classic it looked like....


SummerSlam '04 - Air Canada Centre - 8/15/04

This SummerSlam was a bit underwhelming for me.  I had extremely high expectations for an overall great card with multiple classics, and other than two predictably great matches there wasn't much else going on.  It seemed like there were some time management issues given how short some of the bouts were, but I can't figure out where all that time went.

The opening six-man between the three Dudleys and Rey Mysterio, Paul London & Billy Kidman was a fine way to kick off the show.  Very quick and exciting, and showcased some nice Cruiserweight action, plus Bubba and Devon.

Second was the payoff to one half of one of the stupidest ongoing angles I can remember: Kane had been stalking Lita, trying to hook up with her.  Lita was dating Matt Hardy at the time, who ran to her rescue.  Kane challenged Matt to a match, where if Kane won, Lita would be forced to marry him.  First, in what universe would any woman agree to marry a guy she hated, if her boyfriend couldn't beat up said creep?  Why wouldn't Lita have just gotten Kane arrested for stalking her and repeatedly assaulting her boyfriend?  Second, in what universe would a marriage under duress be legally binding?

Kane beat the bejeezus out of Matt to win the match, and Lita ended up having to marry him.  Then Kane impregnated her, about which she was horrified, until Gene Snitsky showed up one day and bashed Kane with a chair, causing him to land on top of Lita, causing a miscarriage, about which Lita was devastated.  So she was upset that the demon spawn her evil stalker husband gave her would never be born.  And then Kane became the babyface in a new feud with Snitsky, only to later feud with Edge, for whom Lita dumped Kane, turning heel in the process.  Unbelievable.  Sorry for the tangent.  This Kane-Hardy match stunk.

Next up was John Cena vs. Booker T in a Best-of-Five series for the vacant US Title, and the company inexplicably put Match #1 on the SummerSlam card.  I was looking forward to this, but being the first match in the series it only went 6 minutes and amounted to very little.

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2003)

In 2003 the company snatched a stalemate from the jaws of certain victory, with a half-good SummerSlam....


ASummerSlam '03 - America West Arena - 8/24/03

The 2003 edition of the summer extravaganza is probably the most infuriating, in that it was so very close to a great PPV and somehow managed to fall spectacularly short.  With only a few adjustments this show could've been awesome.  Instead it was just a pretty good show that had the stupidest ending since WrestleMania XI.

The show opened with a throwaway World Tag Title match - La Resistance (more or less a carbon copy of the Rougeau Brothers from the 80s) vs. The Dudley Boyz.  This was, I believe, the 387th time these two teams had faced each other in televised matches, but that didn't stop WWE from throwing this match on the show.  Nevermind that the previous month's Smackdown-only PPV had an amazing WWE Tag Title match of Haas & Benjamin vs. Mysterio & Kidman, and literally everyone who bought this show probably would've rather seen that again.  But whatevs.

Next up was Undertaker vs. A-Train (yup, they repackaged the big fat hairy bald dude Albert as the big fat hairy bald dude A-Train).  This was during the year or so where Vince was convin....um, CERTAIN that Albert was gonna be a huge main event heel.  He had thrown Edge at him, and when Albert didn't get over they kinda blamed Edge.  Then they started a months-long feud between Taker and Big Show/Albert.  That didn't work either.  A couple months after this show they even stuck Albert in there with Chris Benoit, hoping the latter's impeccable workrate would get Mr. Train over.  By the beginning of 2004 they finally realized Albert was destined to be a midcarder (Until 2012 when they put a bunch of fake Japanese tattoos on his face and called him Lord Tensai, with the intent of feuding him with John Cena).  Anyway, this match is about what you'd expect.  Slow, plodding, and inconsequential.

Third was one of a slew of 2003 PPV matches featuring non-wrestlers (holy jumpin' Christ there were a lot of these), as RAW GM Eric Bischoff faced WWE heir-apparent Shane McMahon.  This whole feud was built around Bischoff coming on to Shane's mom, and Shane vowing revenge.  The angle was super creepy and at the same time defied anyone with more than 150 brain cells to care in the slightest.  The match was a total waste of ten-and-a-half minutes of my life (by comparison the Cruiserweight Title match that got bumped to the pre-show got roughly one-fifth of this running time), and is one of many examples from 2003 of just how delusional the McMahon family was about their own drawing power.  Lotta that still going on......

Not a good first hour for SummerSlam '03.

These two couldn't have a sucky match if they tried.

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2002)

Greatest SummerSlam of all time, comin' atcha.....


SummerSlam '02 - Nassau Coliseum - 8/25/02

One of the best WWE events I've ever seen.  This show ranks up there with 'Mania 17 and 19.  Eight matches, not one of them bad, and a few of them in the four-star range.  Literally the only thing missing from SummerSlam 2002 was a five-star classic.  This show took place during the red-hot RAW vs. Smackdown feud, where GMs Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon were constantly trying to one-up each other each week.  Behind the scenes Paul Heyman was writing Smackdown and just knocking it out of the park every week (this was the beginning of the orgasmically good Smackdown Six era).  SummerSlam '02 is a perfect illustration of how much better the blue brand was at this point.

The show opened in impossibly spectacular fashion with Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio.  This was nine minutes of awesome.  Mysterio was still healthy at this point, and could do absolutely astounding things in the ring.  Paired with a general like Kurt Angle, there was no way this match couldn't be incredible.  My only complaint is that this match wasn't twice as long.

This match was nine minutes of fuckin' great.

Chris Jericho was enjoying one of the worst, most depressing examples of misuse in wrestling history.  He had just been traded to RAW, where there was almost no one really great to work with.  Had he stayed on Smackdown he could've been part of the Smackdown Six (or Seven I guess).  Sadly Jericho went from headlining WrestleMania to floundering in the RAW midcard for the next three yearssince there wasn't an available top heel spot for him there.  He had a brief and unremarkable feud with Ric Flair and bafflingly lost clean to the 53-year-old in this match.  It's a pretty good match, it's just that Jericho deserved so much better.

Smackdown was well-represented by the third match: Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero.  This feud produced a trilogy of absolute classics, the first of which took place here.  Excellent 11-plus-minute bout that showcased both guys as future main eventers.  After you watch this match, go and find their no-holds-barred rematch from Smackdown which took place about a month later.  You will not be disappointed.

Next up was the Tag Title match between Lance Storm & Christian, and Booker T & Goldust.  Booker and Goldust had been paired as an unlikely babyface duo, and managed to get hugely over.  This match is no classic but it's not too shabby either.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Awesomely Shitty Movies: The Hateful Eight

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com, where I pick apart the pros and cons of a given film.  Sometimes it's a movie I'm quite fond of in spite of its flaws, sometimes it's a movie I wish I could be more fond of in spite of its flaws.  Today's entry falls into the latter category.  It's Quentin Tarantino's latest opus, The Hateful Eight.


Quentin Tarantino is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers.  His uniquely demented filmography includes three Best Picture nominees, literally dozens of classic sequences, and some of the wittiest, most memorable dialogue ever put to film.  Drawing from his video store geek origins in the early 90s, Tarantino has built a body of work full of loving pastiches of gangster films, westerns, war movies, pulp novels, and even horror films, assembled with such enthusiasm and bravado one can't help but be swept up in their frenetic energy.

So what went wrong with H8?  This epic-length western concerns an eclectic group of bad guys and unscrupulous lawmen who get snowbound in a Wyoming lodge, and the film shows us in painstaking detail how this sociopolitical powderkeg might play out.  You've got a bounty hunter, a notorious outlaw, a black Civil War Major, a racist Civil War General, a British hangman, a newly elected Sheriff, a cowboy, and a Mexican dude.  Plus a stagecoach driver and a handful of other characters who make brief appearances.  The film plays out like an ultra-violent parlor drama, almost entirely taking place in one room, as the characters argue, scheme, bargain, and eventually start shooting at each other.  Like his 2007 film Death Proof, H8 is little more than an exercise in style, and while Tarantino films always have plenty of that (I found the first half of DP a delightfully entertaining play on cheaply cobbled together 1970s grindhouse fare), it left a lot to be desired in other areas.

So let's take a look at the virtues and drawbacks of The Hateful Eight....



The Awesome


Cast

As always, Tarantino's casting is first-rate; this film is largely populated with sure-footed veteran actors who suit their characters perfectly.  Kurt Russell is the down n' dirty bounty hunter John Ruth, who will stop at nothing to make sure his quarry, the brutal outlaw/killer Daisy Domergue (a gleefully degenerate Jennifer Jason Leigh, who earned an Oscar nod) hangs to death at Red Rock.  Samuel L Jackson is the resourceful former Civil War officer Marquis Warren, whose instincts are always on point and who's the closest the film has to a protagonist.  Walton Goggins is the slack-jawed, slightly dimwitted "good ol' boy" Chris Mannix, who's on his way to Red Rock to begin his term as Sheriff.  Bruce Dern is the bitter, tight-lipped old Confederate General Sanford Smithers.  And Tim Roth is the oddly foppish Red Rock hangman Oswaldo Mobray.  Whether Tarantino mainstays like Jackson and Roth, or newcomers like Leigh, each member of the cast slips comfortably into their "hateful" roles.  No complaints about the performances.

No shortage of onscreen talent here.



Cinematography

Shot in glorious 70mm (an odd choice considering most of the film takes place in the one room), H8 is a beautiful-looking film, peppered with some breathtaking shots of the snow-covered Wyoming landscape (actually shot in Colorado).  Regular Tarantino collaborator Robert Richardson gives the film a classic widescreen look, and it's a shame there weren't more locations in the story to take advantage of the medium.

They shoulda filmed the whole movie outside.


The History of WWE SummerSlam (2001)

In the midst of the worst-botched wrestling angle of all time came an incredible SummerSlam....


SummerSlam '01 - Compaq Center - 8/19/01

This show was awesome.  SummerSlam 2001 took place at the height of the Invasion angle which, while remembered by history as an abysmal failure on a massive scale, did produce a few good PPVs, most significantly this one.

From top to bottom nearly every match on the card was good to great, a few of them were first-time dream matches, and there was a big-time feel to the whole proceeding.

The show opened in style with an I-C Title match between WCW's Lance Storm and the WWF's newest King of the Ring, Edge.  This was short and to the point, but featured fast-paced back-and-forth action.  Great way to kick off the show.

Next up was a fun little six-man tag: The Dudleys and Test vs. The APA and Spike.  Nothing spectacular here, but it was a nice addition and brought some variety to the show.

In the third slot was an excellent Cruiserweight Title Unification match between X-Pac and Tajiri.  This match existed outside the Invasion angle as neither man was part of the Alliance.  Nevertheless it was a blistering small-man contest and marked the end of the WWF Light Heavyweight Title, which was absorbed into the Cruiserweight belt (I mean that literally; the Cruiserweight belt swallowed the other one like an amoeba).

Chris Jericho and Rhyno were up next and had a match nearly worthy of a semi-main slot.  Jericho had some trouble with the overly loose ropes, but managed to hold his own in this very solid undercard bout.

Bout 6 was a rematch to the amazing RVD-Jeff Hardy spotfest from Invasion.  To up the ante, this was made a Hardcore Title Ladder Match.  While it wasn't quite up to the high standard set by the first encounter, this was a fine, brutal Ladder Match and helped cement RVD as the hottest star in the company.

This led to a terribly botched spot that could've been awesome.
But at least no one got hurt.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The History of WWE SummerSlam (2000)

In a year when the WWF was firing on all cylinders, this overcrowded show has to be considered a disappointment.  Still it had its high points....


SummerSlam 2000 - Raleigh Entertainment & Sports Arena - 8/27/00

Here's a bloated PPV lineup.  As with that year's WrestleMania, the company decided to put entirely too many matches on the SummerSlam card.  Unlike 'Mania, they only had the standard three hours to squeeze in ten matches.  As a result the show was very diluted, despite about half of it being quite good.  But even some of the good matches weren't really given enough time to breathe.

For the second consecutive year the main event was a Triple Threat for the WWF Title, this time between The Rock, Triple H, and Kurt Angle.  This was a pretty damn good 3-way match, and was probably the first time the Triple Threat became worthy of headlining a PPV.  Where just about every previous incarnation of this gimmick was either slow, sloppy, overly chaotic, or all three, this match had a much clearer flow to it.  It was a blessing in disguise that Kurt Angle was legitimately knocked out of the match for much of the running time due to a botched table spot, as it left Triple H and The Rock to settle the match down for a while.  When Angle returned late in the match it created a nice dynamic shift.

Just before the table pulled an ad lib and smashed Angle's face.....

The show featured a pair of awesome undercard matches.  The first was a 2-out-of-3 Falls match between the two Chrises - Jericho and Benoit.  These two had spent much of 2000 feuding over the I-C Title and had both been elevated to semi-main event players.  This match was the third in an excellent trilogy of PPV bouts.  While not up to the standard of their Backlash match (which IMO was one of the best matches of 2000), this was a pretty great undercard match.  It was only given about 16 minutes, which given the stipulations is pretty skimpy.  Had this been an 8-match card they could've had probably another ten minutes to make this match epic.

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1999)

Vince Russo's final PPV with the company was kind of a mess but still managed to be a very fun show....

SummerSlam '99 - Target Center - 8/22/99

SummerSlam 1999 is one of those PPVs where you know you've basically been fed a platter of garbage, but you kinda couldn't help enjoying it.  This show was essentially the climax of the Vince Russo era as he left for WCW a month later, and the booking leading up to this show was sloppy and nonsensical.  At this point Titles were changing hands on an almost weekly basis so their value took a nosedive and it was sometimes even hard to remember who was a Champion.  The Steve Austin phenomenon had become a bit stagnant and it seemed clear it was time for a new star to break out while Austin took a little break.

That new star was Triple H.  Repackaged as a ruthless, cunning superheel, Hunter made a bold move to go against the grain and not rely on catchphrases or flash.  Rather, he went old-school and just became a big sadistic bully who liked to dissect opponents.

It seemed clear Hunter would be the one to dethrone Austin at SummerSlam, but then the booking took several confusing turns, starting with Chyna winning a #1 Contender's Match on RAW.  Then the following week Hunter got his Title shot back.  Then the following week Mankind was added to make it a Triple Threat (from what I've read this was due to Austin not wanting to drop the Title to Hunter, but I don't know for sure).  Anyway, that's how it ended up, and in a stunning publicity stunt, Jesse Ventura would return to the WWF as the guest referee.

The match itself was your typical 1999-era WWF brawl.  Wild action, little real wrestling, some shenanigans between Ventura and Shane McMahon (it was fun to see Ventura back in a WWF ring).  The match was ok but not great.  Mankind won the Title and then lost it to Triple H the next night, begging the question "Why not just have Hunter beat Austin," which lends credence to the above rumor.  Triple H attacked Austin after the match as a way to write him off the show for a couple months.

WHACK!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1998)

The Attitude Era was in full-swing, and in August 1998 the WWF presented a huge event....


SummerSlam '98 - Madison Square Garden - 8/30/98

The 1998 edition felt like a monumental event.  At a time where the company was still rebuilding from the roster holes left by Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart and others, they made the most of things and began manufacturing new exciting characters like crazy.  Led by Steve Austin and the "Attitude" formula, the WWF was riding the biggest wave of momentum in a decade.

SummerSlam was headlined by a huge face vs. face match for the WWF Title - Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker.  This would be Austin's biggest Title defense to date, and the result was a helluva good brawl.  An accidental head collision early in the match knocked Austin loopy for a minute but he gutted it out and managed to deliver a main event-worthy bout that included an insane legdrop-through-table spot by Taker.

Right.  In.  The Dick.

The semi-main spot featured an Intercontinental Ladder Match between the company's two biggest rising stars, The Rock and Triple H.  These two would feud on and off for the next two years, but this is the match that really catapulted both to the next level.  While not a gasp-inducing spotfest like the two HBK-Razor matches, this one featured gritty, hard-hitting action, some outside interference, and a nuclear crowd who cheered for the heel Rock just as much as for the babyface Triple H.  In fact this match led to a brief face turn for Rocky, before he swerved everyone and joined Mr. McMahon's Corporation.

The third-most hyped match was for the Tag belts, as the New Age Outlaws attempted to regain the Titles from Kane & Mankind.  Unfortunately this didn't end up being much of a match due to the storyline falling out of the two heels.  Kane no-showed the match, leaving Mankind in a handicap situation.  The Outlaws made rather short work of him, especially after Kane showed up and bashed Mankind with a sledgehammer.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1997)

In the late 90s SummerSlam returned to a Big Four feel, starting with the 1997 edition....


SummerSlam '97 - Meadowlands Arena - 8/3/97

Now this is a fuckin' SummerSlam, part 2.  SummerSlam '97 was the climax of the awesome USA vs. Canada feud that resulted in a slew of singles matches involving the Hart Foundation vs. their American opponents.  The stakes of each match was very high, particularly the World Title match, where if Bret Hart failed to beat The Undertaker, he would never again be able to wrestle in the US.  Special referee and Bret's mortal enemy Shawn Michaels was also subject to a stipulation, whereby if he showed any favoritism toward Taker, HE would never be able to wrestle in the US. 

The match itself was a methodical but drama-filled epic, with the Bret-Shawn dynamic adding another layer to the tension.  Taker almost seemed like a third wheel as the power struggle between the other two took center stage.  After 25 minutes of action, Bret and Shawn got into an argument, where Bret provoked Shawn into swinging a chair at him, only to duck as the chair knocked out Taker.  Bret covered him for the pin and Shawn was forced to make the count.  This was absolutely genius booking, but had the unfortunate effect of making Bret the third wheel as Shawn and Taker then engaged in a landmark feud.  Odd that both the prologue and aftermath of this match saw the WWF Champion as the afterthought.  Anyway, damn good main event.

Some belated 4th of July FIREWORKS!

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1996)

The year of Shawn Michaels included a pretty damn weak overall SummerSlam, but that didn't stop Shawn and Vader from putting on a classic....


SummerSlam '96 - Gund Arena - 8/18/96

The 1996 edition was pretty indicative of the overall roster depth, or lack thereof, at that time.  Almost every PPV event that year had a very strong upper card with not much below the top two or three bouts.  SummerSlam felt a little skimpy as a result.  There was an amazing main event, a couple of decent undercard matches, and a whole lotta filler.

Shawn Michaels defended the WWF Title against monster heel Vader in a spectacular clash of styles.  This match was one of a whole string of awesome HBK main events that year.  Despite a miscue or two (which Shawn rather shamelessly called attention to during the match), and an overbooked pair of false endings, this was one of the best matches of 1996.  Considering how much difficulty Shawn had beating Vader, they probably should've had the planned rematch at Survivor Series, but alas backstage politics put the kibosh on that.

Wait, why is Shawn in the ring with that fan wearing a jockstrap on his face?

The semi-main belonged to the Undertaker-Mankind feud.  In a rematch from King of the Ring, Taker and Mankind battled in the first-ever Boiler Room Brawl - a no holds barred fight through the bowels of the arena.  Unfortunately while this sounded wild and awesome in theory, it was a might disappointing in execution.  The match went very long and didn't really contain enough high spots to sustain it over 26 minutes.  The shock ending came when Taker's longtime manager Paul Bearer turned on him to join Mankind, in one of the few such swerves that actually made sense.  Mankind was booked to clearly have Taker's number, and so Bearer's opportunism was somewhat warranted from a storyline perspective.

The 24/7 Hardcore Title rule was clearly in effect, as Mankind
attacked Taker during his shift as the Cleveland High School
Managerial Custodian.  How rude.....

The third standout was a meaningless midcard bout between Marc Mero and Goldust.  There was little heat for this, but the match itself is pretty good.  Fast-paced and full of solid action, including Mero's debuting Shooting Star Press (the first time I'd ever seen that move).  Not bad stuff.

The rest of the show kinda stunk though.  Owen Hart vs. Savio Vega opened the show and was nothing to write home about, the 4-way Tag Title match (Smokin' Gunns vs. Bodydonnas vs. Godwinns vs. New Rockers) was hampered by Bodydonna Skip being injured and basically unable to get in the ring, Sycho Sid vs. Davey Boy Smith went a paltry six minutes and was instantly forgettable, and Jerry Lawler vs. Jake Roberts was plain awful.  And the red-hot King of the Ring Steve Austin was stuck on the pre-show in a two-minute squash with Yokozuna.  Just baffling.

What resulted was a stitched-together PPV carried entirely by its two top-billed matches that unfortunately weren't quite enough to make it a good show.  The main event is quite a battle though.

Best Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Vader
Worst Match: Jerry Lawler vs. Jake Roberts
What I'd Change: Unfortunately given how thin the roster was, there wasn't much room for improvement here.  I'd certainly have put Steve Austin on the main card, for the love of Christ!  Also I know he was being punished at the time, but give Triple H something to do.
Most Disappointing Match: Undertaker vs. Mankind - Their KOTR match was a hard-hitting slugfest, and this match should've upped the game.  Sadly it failed to reach the same level.
Most Pleasant Surprise: I guess the Mero-Goldust match.  I was expecting very little of that one and it turned out pretty good.
Overall Rating: 5.5/10
Better than WrestleMania XII? - Nope

1995


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Monday, July 22, 2019

The History of WWE Summerslam (1995)

In 1995 the WWF was running on Diesel Power, and it was fairly disastrous both commercially and critically.  But this show was pretty decent in spite of itself....


SummerSlam '95 - The Igloo - 8/27/95

Here's a show that on paper looks absolutely wretched.  A weak main event, a slew of free TV-caliber matches, a host of top talent missing from the card (seriously, were Owen, Bulldog, Yokozuna, Sid & Luger booked elsewhere that night??), and only one PPV-worthy bout.  Yet somehow this was a pretty good PPV with a host of entertaining matches.

The main event is one of the weakest in SummerSlam history.  In yet another attempt to recreate Hogan vs. Andre, they booked Diesel to face the newest King of the Ring, Mabel.  There was literally zero heat between these two, and if they insisted on doing another Power Wrestler vs. Fat Guy match, why not book Yokozuna to win the KOTR tourney and challenge Diesel?  At least Yokozuna had Championship credibility, ya know, having been a former Champion.  The match was predictably underwhelming and short.

Wait, why is Diesel in the ring with that fan in a Grimace costume?

The real standout of this SummerSlam was of course the Ladder rematch for the I-C belt between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon, the two men who defined the Ladder Match 17 months earlier.  While not up to the legendary status of their first go-round, this is still a damn fine Ladder Match with memorable spots involving TWO ladders (In 1995 the idea of a second ladder being introduced was mind-blowing. No I'm serious.) and a different dynamic being that both guys were now babyfaces.

I hope Razor got a helluva Christmas gift that year for saving Shawn's life.

As I said before, most of this card was taken up by free TV-type matches, including an excellent hot opener of Hakushi vs. 1-2-3 Kid, a good squash between Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Bob Holly, a Bertha Faye Women's Title win over Alundra Blayze that was so forgettable I literally forgot to mention it in the first draft of this article, a jobber match between Skip and Barry Horowitz (what was this feud doing on PPV??), and Bret Hart fighting Jerry Lawler's protege Isaac Yankem (who went on to much better things a few years later) in a rare miss for Bret (he never did have much chemistry with Glen Jacobs unfortunately).

The unexpected hit of the night was the Undertaker's Casket Match against Kama.  I had no hopes at all of liking this match, but it ended up being one of the better matches of the night.

All in all while I'm not sure what the company was thinking putting together such a lackluster lineup for the second biggest show of the year, SummerSlam '95 is still a pretty good watch, if not all that memorable.

Best Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon
Worst Match: Smokin' Gunns vs. Blu Brothers (I ask again, why were Owen and Yokozuna, the WWF Tag Champions, not on this show??)
What I'd Change: A lot.  The problem was the overabundance of heels and the dearth of babyfaces.  First, since Davey Boy Smith turned heel just before this, why not book him against his former tag partner Lex Luger?  Swap out the Horowitz match for that.  Next, let's go with Diesel vs. Yokozuna as the main event.  Have Mabel fight Bret perhaps.  Since "it takes a king to know a king," Lawler could've recruited Mabel to go after his sworn enemy.  Third, since Hakushi wasn't going to be pushed long-term anyway, sub in Owen Hart to fight 1-2-3 Kid.  It would still be a blistering match and Owen would've actually gotten on the card.  That just leaves Sid as the one omission, and he obviously wasn't missed.
Most Disappointing Match: Bret Hart vs. Isaac Yankem - Jacobs just wasn't there yet as far as in-ring ability, it was a dumb gimmick, and even Bret couldn't get a good match out of him at that point.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Undertaker vs. Kama
Overall Rating: 6/10
Better than WrestleMania XI? - Yes


1994



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The History of WWE SummerSlam (1994)

Taker vs. Taker - what a shitshow.....


SummerSlam '94 - United Center - 8/29/94

This here is about half of a good PPV.  The summer of '94 in the WWF was largely centered around the Bret vs. Owen feud, which was fantastic.  It would come to a head at SummerSlam, as the two brothers dueled in a steel cage.  Unfortunately the match didn't live up to my expectations, nor was it even the main event of the show.

Bizarrely they decided to have the returning Undertaker (absent since January after losing a Casket Match to Yokozuna) fight his doppleganger in the main event of SummerSlam, without really establishing first that the doppleganger was a fake.  Ted Dibiase showed up on WWF TV and announced Taker's return, then brought him out to wrestle.  And it was fairly obvious this was not Mark Callaway, but not obvious enough that we the audience could see where they were going with it.  It was as though Callaway had been fired and they tried in earnest to pass off impostor Brian Lee as the same man.  Then suddenly there were house show cards being booked with two separate Undertakers, but none of this was mentioned in the actual storylines.  And then the announcement came that at SummerSlam the main event would be Undertaker vs. Undertaker.  Just a very sloppily thrown-together angle.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1993)

Welcome to the most mediocre PPV ever, SummerSlam 1993!


SummerSlam '93 - Palace of Auburn Hills - 8/30/93

Here's a show steeped in mediocrity.  SummerSlam '93 is an odd case of a PPV event providing neither highs nor lows.  Every match except one (Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzales) is watchable, but almost none of them are memorable.

The big story going into this show was the rise of Lex Luger as the All-American hero who bodyslammed Yokozuna on the 4th of July.  Luger had been using the goofy Narcissist heel persona that understandably didn't light the world afire, and with the departure of Hulk Hogan the company felt it needed another musclebound superhero to build the company around.  Luger toured the country in a bus to promote the event, and all signs pointed to him becoming the next WWF Champion and posterboy.

The match itself was underwhelming.  It wasn't a bad match per se, but also not terribly exciting.  Luger winning the Championship would've at least provided the big moment the bout (and PPV) needed but strangely the company didn't pull the trigger, instead booking a countout win for Luger, complete with a post-match victory celebration generally reserved for an actual Title win.  This moment was just baffling; Luger and other babyfaces basking in the glory of his All-American win......by countout.  Just bizarre.

YAAAAYYYY!!  Congratulations Lex, on winning........nothing.

The undercard featured a few pretty good matches but again, nothing past 3-star territory.  The highlight of the night was WWF Tag Champs The Steiners vs. The Heavenly Bodies, in a very good undercard tag bout.  Also strong was Bret Hart, mired in midcard doldrums, taking on Doink the Clown, who subbed for the "injured" Jerry Lawler.  Bret and Doink had a solid match which led to Lawler's injury being exposed as a fake.  Bret then had a brief match with Lawler which didn't amount to much at all.

The Intercontinental Title match, which should've been epic, saw Shawn Michaels defending against Mr. Perfect.  HBK vs. Perfect.  Read that and just think about how ungodly awesome that match would be.  Yeah well, it wasn't.  Perfect seemed unmotivated and Shawn was uncharacteristically out of shape, leading to a banal affair that also ended in a countout.  Really?  Both singles Championship matches decided by a countout??

Yikes, Shawn was HUNGRY in those days.

The rest of the show consisted of RAW-caliber matches: Razor Ramon vs. Ted Dibiase, Marty Janetty vs. Ludvig Borga, IRS vs. 1-2-3 Kid, and a six-man pitting Tatanka & The Smoking Gunns vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & The Headshrinkers.  Nothing of note there.

SummerSlam '93 was a PPV where basically nothing important happened.  When it was over everything was pretty much as it had been the week before.  No titles changed hands, no new feuds were born, no old feuds were resolved, and no matches were must-see.  Lex Luger became a main event WWF star briefly, but that's about it.  Seven months later he was a midcarder again.

Best Match: Steiners vs. Heavenly Bodies
Worst Match: Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzales - Seriously, this feud started in January of '93 and didn't end until August.  Seven months of just putrid drivel, spread over three PPVs.  Coincidentally seven months is how long each of their matches felt.
What I'd Change: I mean I'd probably actually have Luger win the belt I guess.  If you're trying to create the next Hulk Hogan you can't have him come up short in his first attempt,right?
Most Disappointing Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect - How they screwed this one up I'll never know.
Most Pleasant Surprise: I guess Bret Hart vs. Doink?
Overall Rating: 6/10
Better than WrestleMania IX? - Yes, this sucky ending is still way better than WM9's sucky ending.


1992


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Thursday, July 18, 2019

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1991)

We've reached the early 90s, when the WWF presented a pretty bad SummerSlam that everyone for some reason remembers very fondly.......


SummerSlam '91 - Madison Square Garden - 8/26/91

The mediocrity continued with SummerSlam '91, which many fans strangely hail as a classic.  I'll grant that it was a somewhat stacked show where multiple feuds were blown off, but there's very little good wrestling here.  The Savage-Elizabeth wedding angle also took up way too much time and probably should've happened on free TV to set up Savage's return to the ring.

The main event was the continuation of one of the least fun feuds in wrestling history, Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter.  I cannot believe the WWF was still trying to exploit the Persian Gulf War six months after it ended.  Just pitiful.  This time it was Hogan teaming with Warrior against Slaughter, Col. Mustafa (a repackaged Iron Sheik, as though we wouldn't recognize him), and Slaughter's manager Gen. Adnan.  Here's a question, if Slaughter was the lowest ranked of the trio, why was he the leader?  Anyway the match stunk and was notable only for the inclusion of Sid Justice as the guest referee, and for being Warrior's last match for a while after backstage contractual shenanigans led to his firing.

The match this show is most remembered for was Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart for the I-C Title.  This would be Perfect's final match for over a year as nagging injuries forced him to the sidelines.  This match was quite good (though I don't rate it as highly as most do), and Bret's singles career took off from this point.  Given how much pain he was in, Perfect did a helluva job elevating "The Hitman."

Perfect submitted the second the hold was applied.
Given his real-life back issues this is not surprising.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

You Used to Be Sooooo Good: Star Trek Movies

Welcome to another edition of You Used to Be Soooo Good, where Justin & I, Dan Moore (@SouthieDanimal), discuss things used to be awesome but now, eh, not so much. This week is a tad different, in that we are talking about films we actually like now but they’re missing…something from the old days.


Star Trek Movies:  You Are Stiiiiiiill Kinda Good, But Used to Be Sooooo Much Better

The classic, awesome Enterprise of the original films.

DAN: Oddly enough, Justin and I both watched Star Trek Into Darkness again on the same night independently, but clearly linked in a strange psychic way. And while I do enjoy the film (except for the dumb surname) and its reboot-starting predecessor, there’s definitely a lack of character development in these new films that hurt them. These flicks boast incredible effects, great action, competent acting; they are terribly entertaining, but really dumb. The iconic Trek characters have basically no personality. They have the idea of the old characters, but nothing’s fleshed out.


JUSTIN: Right, the spirit of the characters is there (which is more than you can say for Man of Steel – I’ll keep shitting on that film till my dying day), but it's basically Kirk and Spock in action figure form.  Both Star Trek '09 and Into Darkness featured a gigantic black monster vessel as the evil ship. It's also pretty humorous how blatantly Into Darkness copied entire passages of dialogue from ST2.


DAN: I believe they call that an "homage" now, and not plagiarism. The creators of this new Trek series are playing off the existing archetype of the old Trek series characters. What we already know about them, and not doing much else. Also, Chris Pine just doesn’t do it for me as Kirk.


JUSTIN: I actually like Pine a lot as Kirk.  I think I like him better than Zach Quinto. For me, Pine’s Kirk is closer to Shatner's than Quinto's Spock is to Nimoy's.  And that's more the writing than anything else - this Spock is kind of a jerk and is pretty easily swayed into becoming emotional.


DAN: My problem with him as Kirk is he’s just sort of a generic hero man. There’s nothing memorable about his Kirk like there is about Shatner’s. I do like him, and I think he’s dreamy but there’s just not enough there for me to care about his Kirk.

Yup, they look and feel vaguely like the original characters.

JUSTIN:  True, and that's really the case with all of them.  They just took a cursory approximation of the original characters and stuck 'em in these movies.  Kirk's heroic and repeatedly defies authority (how he's able to hold onto the Captain's chair at all is beyond me), Spock is cold and logical (unless the story requires him to fly into a rage and beat the piss out of the bad guy), McCoy is curmudgeonly and spouts metaphors constantly, Uhura speaks other languages (and is now for some reason the #3 character in the pecking order), Sulu's good at fencing, Scotty's really funny, and Chekhov is Russian. It's odd that Admiral Pike has gotten more screen time than any of those guys.

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1990)

The 1990 edition was a major step down from the first two, which were flawed shows to begin with.  This one's pretty terrible....


SummerSlam '90 - Philadelphia Spectrum - 8/27/90

What a mess this show was.  They tried to cram 10 matches in, only 9 of which happened due to a forfeit, the WWF Champion was given an opponent who was never built up to be a World Title contender, thus stripping the main event of any suspense, and Hulk Hogan was once again paired with an obese monster heel.

First we'll highlight the good parts: The Rockers fought the new tag team of Hercules and Paul Roma, dubbed Power & Glory in more of an angle than a match.  Shawn Michaels was "injured" at the outset, leaving Marty Janetty in a handicap situation.  But it was a nice introduction of the new heel team, who unfortunately never got much traction after this.

The Hart Foundation once again challenged Demolition for the Tag belts, this time in a 2 out of 3 falls match.  And once again the Harts stole the show at SummerSlam, supplying 15 minutes of solid tag team action.  The Harts finally won the Titles and the recently-debuted Legion of Doom were set up to feud with their WWF imitators.


The main event cage match between The Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude was a pretty good ten-minute bout.  Nowhere near as good as their 'Slam '89 match, but not bad at all.  Unfortunately Rude hadn't ever been positioned as a serious WWF Championship challenger and since Warrior defeated him the previous year (and a month before this PPV on Saturday Night's Main Event) there wasn't much heat for this match.  Rude would leave the WWF shortly after this.  Sadly for Warrior he was never really pushed as the #1 guy in the company after winning the Title from Hogan.

The blue bar cage.  Must've hurt like a sonofabitch to get thrown into that thing.

Now for the rest of the show.  Hogan's match with Earthquake is nigh unwatchable; yet another Hogan vs. Big Fat Dude match that tried unsuccessfully to recapture the magic of Hogan vs. Andre.  They added The Big Bossman and Dino Bravo as the two corner men to create more intrigue, begging the question: Why not just make this a tag match?

Randy Savage was completely wasted in a two-minute squash of Dusty Rhodes, and his manager Sherri Martel beat Dusty's valet Sapphire by forfeit when Sapphire sold out to Ted Dibiase.

The other major bout was Mr. Perfect defending the I-C Title against a mystery opponent, because for the second time Brutus Beefcake had to miss his scheduled Title shot, this time due to a real-life injury caused by a parasailing accident.  Beefcake's substitute was WWF newcomer Kerry Von Erich (one of my all-time least favorite wrestlers), who made short work of Perfect to win the belt.

Add three other forgettable midcard matches and you have yourself a show very indicative of the piss-poor WWF PPVs in 1990.  They weren't doing very much right at this time and it was evident in all their major shows.

Best Match: Demolition vs. Hart Foundation
Worst Match: Jim Duggan/Nikolai Volkoff vs. Orient Express - Really?  This was on an actual PPV?
What I'd Change: I'd trim some of the fat to allow the two best matches - Harts vs. Demolition and Warrior vs. Rude - to be much longer.  I'd probably make the Hogan match a tag match just to make it a little faster paced.  I'd give Savage a real match to work with, whether that means giving him and Dusty a good 10-12 minutes or giving him a fresh opponent.  How does Savage only get two minutes?
Most Disappointing Match: Savage vs. Dusty.  I say again, two minutes??
Most Pleasant Surprise: Not much really.  What little I expected to enjoy, I did.
Overall Rating: 3/10
Better than WrestleMania VI? - Yes, but they're both garbage.


1989
                                                                                                                                                         1991


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Monday, July 15, 2019

You Used to Be Sooooo Good: Tool

Welcome back to our semi-regular feature. This one's a tad different. Typically we take something that was once AWESOME but now sucks. This time, we're talking about a band that is badass and great but is MIA except for a bunch of mini-tours over the past year

.

TOOL: YOU USED TO BE SOOOOOO GOOD (AND PROBABLY STILL ARE) 


DAN: I remember the first time I heard Tool. Back when MTV used to be a music channel and not a place for teen whores to show off their bastard kids, I watched the video for "Sober" off Tool's first album, Undertow. The first impression I had wasn't so much about the music but the visual components of this truly bizarre stop-motion Claymation-type video.

The spastic dance this little creep did freaked me out

I knew fuck all about the band, and it stayed that way until MTV once again showed me a video by them. Ostensibly named "Track #1", this song was enough to intrigue to search out the band behind this odd videos. When I purchased ├ćnima I realized the name of that song was actually "Stinkfist" and MTV changed it because EWWW HANDS IN BUTTS.

But that album was hypnotizing. It was MILES away from the grungy pop-ish like rock music I was listening to at the time. The chord progressions, the insanely elaborate drum beats and the one-of-a-kind vocals of lead singer Maynard James Keenan made for a band the likes of which mine ears had never heard. I needed more after listening to ├ćnima. In what turned out to be a pattern, it would be a long wait.