Monday, August 31, 2015

Dan's Review of the MTV Video Music Awards

(Editor's Note: Goddammit, MTV.  You used to be soooooo good.  Hmmm, maybe Dan and I should post a discussion about that.....)

I'll admit this straight up. I watched nary a second of this narcissism convention. I wouldn't be able to stomach ten minutes of vapid, rich whores talking to equally vapid, rich dickheads, never mind four hours of this suck fest.  I make no qualms about the fact that I'm a decrepit, ornery, old man at this point in my life. I mean, look at this picture of yours truly below.

That's me running at full speed

So, clearly I am not the target audience. I get that. I have my finger far from the pulse of society. But what the hell business does MTV have putting on a video music awards show anyway? When was the last time they actually showed music videos on the channel formerly known as Music Television? Every time I flip through that station it's always pregnant teens domestically assaulting the poor bastard that wasn't smart enough to pull his pork sword outta the girl's baby bunker. There's literally no music on the channel at all anymore. None.

Pro Wrestling: A Mark's History, part 12 (The Year of HBK)

What a pivotal year 1996 was in the world of pretend fighting.  The landscape of the business would change drastically over next five years, and '96 was really where it began.  Yes, the Monday Night War had already started the previous September, but it wasn't until mid '96 that things fully escalated and each company would begin to find their respective identities.

Shawn Michaels made his triumphant post-concussion return at the Royal Rumble, putting on a mesmerizing performance and becoming only the second 2-time Rumble winner in history.  WrestleMania season that year was of the totally-predictable-but-awesome variety.  It was obviously Shawn's time to shine and I couldn't wait to see it all unfold.  Shawn's Rumble win positioned him to challenge Bret Hart for the WWF Title, creating what was on paper the greatest WrestleMania match of all time.  Added to the intrigue was the revelation that it would be a 60-minute Iron Man match.  This really felt like a celebration of pure wrestling, which was just all kinds of awesome.  Piling it on, the WWF also booked Undertaker vs. Diesel as the semi-main event.  The two best big men in the company at that time in a full-on slugfest.  This was shaping up to be an unequaled 'Mania lineup.

Over at WCW the World Title was passed back and forth between Ric Flair and Randy Savage (rehashing what the WWF had done in 1992), while Hulk Hogan took a buncha time off.  Hogan's fan reaction had become lukewarm as fans seemingly remembered why they had tired of his act in the WWF.  I was watching RAW religiously every week but flipping over to Nitro during breaks just to keep up on current events.  I did enjoy some of the Cruiserweight stuff on the show, but my first response was that the action was so fast and spectacular they weren't leaving any time for any of the moves to mean anything.  The terms "ring psychology" and "workrate" weren't yet in my lexicon, so I wasn't approaching this stuff from the point of view of an IWC fan by any means (still didn't have internet yet), but on some level I recognized that the storytelling aspect of the Cruiserweight matches was lacking.  It was around this time that I first saw Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko, whom I had read about in PWI.  All the magazines raved about their work, but at the time I was pretty underwhelmed by them.  I appreciated the technical aspect but didn't connect with any of them emotionally.  Other than that stuff, Nitro just looked to me like Old Folks' Wrestling.  The main event matches and feuds were insufferably dull to me.

Yeah man, I just didn't get it at first.....

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Helluva Band: Nine Inch Nails

Hello and welcome to another edition of Helluva Band, where I dissect and discuss a particular band or artist I have grown to enjoy, thus forever ruining your experience of listening to them with my overanalytical gobbledygook.

Today I'll be talking about Nine Inch Nails, easily the most famous and well-respected of all industrial rock bands, and brainchild of enigmatic visionary Trent Reznor (Is there a cooler name in rock music?).  I'll discuss their/his various works and how I came to be a fan.

I first became aware of Nine Inch Nails in high school in the early 90s, mostly because the "alternative" kids had the logo sewn or drawn on their bookbags and jackets.  I had no idea what the band was all about and figured it was some sort of punk outfit, based solely on which of my classmates listened to them.  I myself was a metal guy, preferring the chunky guitar riffage and gutteral vocals of Metallica and Megadeth, and paid little attention to much else (The Beatles were an exception). 

At this time MTV had a weekly metal video show called Headbanger's Ball (goddamn this show was awesome) which aired from 11pm-2am every Saturday night.  I would stay up late long after my parents had retired for the evening and tape the videos I was interested in.  MTV used to be pretty spectacular back when they were actually MUSIC television.  One night a Nine Inch Nails video popped up on my TV screen for a song called "Wish."  This featured tinny, preamp-overdriven guitars and a fast, metal-ish tempo.  It was certainly unlike anything I had heard before, which at the time was a bad thing.  I wasn't terribly open to new and unusual music like I am these days, so I dismissed it as noisy crap.

The one that started it all.....

Two years later another Nine Inch Nails song started showing up in the rotation of my favorite station WAAF.  It had this weird, almost disco-esque feel to it, and the singer was blathering something about "fucking like an animal."  I'll be totally frank; I HATED this song when it came out.  It did nothing for me musically and I actually resented that metal fans everywhere (including some of my best friends) were embracing this wholly non-metal-sounding dance music with crude lyrics (Somehow I was rather uppity about including excessive cuss words in song lyrics even though I've had a mouth like a trucker since I was twelve).  Even my girlfriend at the time kinda liked the song and found it a little sexy; the idea of her enjoying another guy singing "I wanna fuck you like an animal" decidedly made me squirm.

Kinda looks like a guy about to eat a piece of poop.

So it's safe to say I had no intention of ever becoming a NIN fan.  Over the years they released other albums and few songs here and there caught my attention but I didn't really give them a fair chance.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

WWE, Sting, and Band-Aids

Last night's RAW featured two celebrated returns to WWE TV. 

The first occurred early in the show as The New Day, fresh off regaining the WWE Tag Titles at SummerSlam, were interrupted in their celebration by The Dudley Boyz, who haven't been seen together on WWE TV since 2005.  Both Bubba and D-Von appear to be in tremendous shape (Bubba especially has stepped up his game the past few years, enjoying a main event run in TNA) and a feud with such a decorated tag team will hopefully boost the credibility of the Tag Champs.  Big E, Kofi and Xavier Woods have one of the best acts in WWE at the moment (Woods has been brilliant with his ringside antics during their matches), so the optimist in me sees a three-month program involving some underhanded tactics allowing New Day to retain the straps, and then finally they get a clean win over the Dudleys in the blowoff match. 

The other return last night was of course Sting (or "The Vigilante, Sting" for those of you wondering why Police frontman Gordon Sumner showed up on RAW), who hasn't been seen since his unexpected (and ill-advised) WrestleMania loss to Triple H.  Sting pulled the ol' switcheroo in the main event segment, appearing in place of Seth Rollins' commemorative statue and wordlessly challenging The Authority's chosen one to a WWE Title match at Night of Champions.  As with the Dudleyz scenario, a high-profile feud with such a beloved legend seems designed to give the young WWE Champion a major rub, presumably leading to a much-needed clean win. 

Pro Wrestling: A Mark's History, part 11 (Diesel Power)

The 1995 Royal Rumble changed things up in that the entry intervals between wrestlers was cut down from 2 minutes (or sometimes 90 seconds) to 60 seconds.  My reaction at the time was that it cheapened the idea of longevity as the total match time was cut almost in half, but at the same time it allowed the ring to fill up faster.  In hindsight it was not a good idea, which is why they've never done it that way since.  Anyway, Shawn Michaels became the first wrestler to run the table, entering at #1 and winning the whole thing.  Obviously there would forever be an asterisk next to his achievement, but it was still pretty cool.  He also executed one of the most entertaining near-eliminations of all time, dangling off the top rope for what seemed like an eternity while only one foot touched the floor.

Dude, look how close that is......

What this meant for me though was that my two favorite wrestlers, Shawn Michaels and Diesel (yeah he grew on me fast for some reason I still don't understand) would be facing each other at WrestleMania XI for the WWF Title.  I could not have been more excited!
Wanna hear something stupid though?  A couple of my friends decided to order the show in their dorm room, AND DIDN'T EVEN INVITE ME.  Unbelievable.  I'm generally the biggest wrestling fan in any group of friends I've ever had.  That's not an exaggeration - it's really a sick thing.  And these pals of mine didn't mention their plans to order WrestleMania until after the fact.  Christ!  Of course the show was kind of a stinker anyway other than the Title match, which astoundingly didn't even close the show!

Monday, August 24, 2015

WWE SummerSlam 2015 was Better Than WrestleMania 31

Sometimes it pays to have low expectations.  Case in point, last night's SummerSlam extravaganza.  I went into this show with the mindset of "I'll be content as long as I don't feel like my night was wasted," and what I got was a consistently very entertaining wrestling show with a ton of variety where every match felt like it got enough time, and a few actually stood out.

The much-dreaded-by-me Brock Lesnar-Undertaker main event was easily the best match delivered by these two since their No Mercy 2002 Hell in a Cell.  It was streamlined, hard-hitting, full of nice little nuances (the double situp for example), and while the ending left me baffled at first, once the replay explained everything I actually kinda liked it.  Granted we've been conditioned that the timekeeper never rings the bell until the official calls for it, but in all these years you'd think human error would get in the way at least once.  Well, last night was that one occurrence.  Taker tapped out and the timekeeper jumped the gun.  It was a realistic screwup and hopefully WWE follows up on it by having The Authority discipline said timekeeper on RAW.  Moreover, it protects Lesnar as an unstoppable monster, sets up the inevitable "rubber match" at WrestleMania, and reframes this feud with Taker playing more of a heel (don't get me wrong, getting a Dallas crowd to boo Taker is going to be impossible, but still).  I liked this match a lot, and the lasting image for me will be of the defiant Lesnar flipping Taker off just before passing out to Hell's Gate.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

WWE SummerSlam 2015 Predictions!!!

Well folks it's that time again.  The tentpole PPV of the summer is upon us, and the 2015 edition is SUUUUUUUUUUUPER-SIZED!!!!  That's right, this year's SummerSlam is a four-hour spectacular loaded up with ten, count them, TEN big matches.  And since it's in a normal arena as opposed to a MegaUltraDome, the entrances hopefully won't be taking up half the show like they do at WrestleMania.  Also celebrity wrestling fan Jon Stewart is hosting the show.  While I don't get why a PPV needs a host (Isn't that why the announcers are there?), I'm a Stewart fan and he's a wrestling fan, so hopefully his involvement will be entertaining.

So let's get to the business of prognosticatin', shall we?  As always my associate Dan Moore will give his picks too.

Currently Dan is beating me, for the first time since we started this tradition.  I gotta step it up.  Dan: 28/43, Justin: 26/43

Four-way WWE Tag Team Title Match: Prime Time Players vs. The New Day vs. Lucha Dragons vs. Los Matadores

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dan's Top 9: TV Shows to Watch While Boozing

Welcome to another edition of Dan's Top 9.  It's a countdown.  Written by Dan.  No explanation needed.   Done.


Booze. It's what makes the world go 'round. Whether out at the bar drinking a dozen or so beers with friends or sneaking a bottle of Mad Dog into a christening, booze makes everything better.  However, there are times where you don't wanna see the light of day or interact with other humans when you're drinking. For those times, I present to you the best programs on television to watch when you're drinking that thirty pack alone.

9. Nature Programs: The tranquil sounds of planet earth make for a lovely companion as you sip down Jack & Diets (I'm watching my figure). Also good for a laugh when you come upon some endangered species doing it. Ever watch rhinos bang when you're hammered? It's fucking HILARIOUS.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Newbie's Take on NJPW G1 Climax 25

Well folks, the G1 Climax 25 tournament has come and gone, and it is now time for post-G1 depression.  Sigh.....

Anywho, this being my first G1 tourney as a New Japan fan (or as my wife would call me, a "Jeezus, wouldya shut up about New Japan already??"), I thought I'd throw together a quick write-up about the experience.

The G1 tournament is of course New Japan's annual round-robin tournament to determine the #1 Contender at next year's WrestleKingdom PPV.  So it's like the Royal Rumble except waaaaaay more intensive.  The number of participants varies year to year, as does the schedule.  Whereas the last few tourneys have consisted of entire cards of G1 matches (which I loved because it meant multiple full shows of excellent singles bouts), the 2015 edition was more spread out to give the guys more time to recover from each match.  This year there were 19 total dates including the Finals, and each "regular season" show only featured five tourney matches from one block at a time.  This layout definitely made it easier to keep up if your goal was to only watch the G1 matches, as the first half of each show consisted of multi-man tag bouts to warm up the crowd.  The downside of course is that there wasn't a full show on the level of last year's Day 7 (considered by most to be the best NJPW show of the year).  Still the 2015 G1 tourney had a helluvalotta good-to-great matches and built to an absolutely fantastic peak with the "semi-finals" and the Finals show.

Pro Wrestling: A Mark's History, part 10 (The New WWF Generation)

As 1994 began, multiple top heroes were being positioned to challenge Yokozuna for the WWF Title.  Chief among them were former champ Bret Hart, Lex Luger, and after two years wading around the midcard pool fighting off silly cartoon villains, The Undertaker was finally being pushed as a top challenger. 

He would wrestle Yoko at the '94 Rumble in a casket match, and at the time I really thought he might take it down.  Unfortunately Taker needed some time off and he lost to the Champion with the help of 10 (ten!) midcard heels, in one of the worst matches I've ever seen.  Seriously, this thing stunk worse than a Taco Bell Chalupa fart.  Even worse was the goofy post-match angle, where Taker "disappeared" from the casket, appeared as a ghost on the TitanTron, and "floated" up to the ceiling (in fact it was Marty Janetty in Taker's costume who was the floating stunt double - I mean couldn't they have found anyone close to Taker's size for this job??).

Yup, Yokozuna looks how I felt watching this snorefest.

The Rumble match itself ended for the first time with co-winners, as Bret Hart and Lex Luger tumbled over the ropes simultaneously.  This meant that at WrestleMania X Yokozuna would have to defend the Title twice.  Luger won the coin toss for the first crack at the Champ, while Bret would face his estranged brother Owen before getting his shot.

These two matches, coupled with the possibility of a Bret vs. Luger main event, and the Shawn Michaels-Razor Ramon I-C Title match, made WrestleMania X a must-see event for me.  This was the first WrestleMania I had ever ordered on PPV, and man did I pick a good one!

I was actually shocked when Luger failed to win the Title, as I figured the months-long build from the summer of '93 would result in Luger finally climbing the mountain.  I was pretty pissed when he got disqualified and ousted from the Title hunt, and of course it was then a forgone conclusion that Bret would be regaining the belt in the main event.  To this day, with all due respect to Yokozuna, I still think Bret vs. Luger would've been a spectacular match and I consider it a lost opportunity that it never happened.  When Bret predictably won the Title back, I was happy for him and knew he was deserving, but I wasn't overly excited about it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Deflategate: Why Are We Still Talking About This?

Editor's Note: Dan's pissed.  And rightfully so....

The New England Patriots have been mired in a 'controversy' of the NFL's making. During the AFC Championship game, some footballs were found to be significantly deflated of air. Or they weren't. Depending on which lie in the Wells Report you want to believe. But clearly the air gauge they used to measure the PSI showed this, right? Depends on which air gauge the Wells Report wants to tell us the refs used. The whole thing is a blueprint on how not to investigate something. The lack of science, the omission of facts and the complete keystone cops atmosphere of this would be hilarious if it weren't so frustrating.

Pictured: Feeding time at the NFL Office

Yesterday the testimony from Tom Brady's appeal hearing was released Does it paint quite the bad picture for the NFL. There's quite a few takeaways from it. Here's a few thoughts.


For months, it's been rumored the Baltimore Ravens tipped off the Indianapolis Colts about some shenanigans with Patriots footballs. Ravens Head Coach Harbaugh has vehemently denied this.

Yesterday's release shows otherwise. The Special Teams coordinator from the Ravens called Colts Coach Chuck Pagano about something screwy with the kicking balls (which, by the way, are never touched by game day staff until they hit the field. Those are issued straight out of box by NFL referees). Now, maybe you can make the argument that Harbaugh didn't know this but then that means one of two things

A) Harbaugh has no control over his staff and they do whatever they want, including going over his head and talking to other organizations

B) Harbaugh knew and blatantly lied, repeatedly.

You make the call.


Vincent is currently the NFL executive vice president of football operations. He is also, by all accounts, the most hypocritty hypocrite of all time. Tom Brady has been suspended four games for most likely being generally aware that some footballs were probably tampered with but maybe not because SCIENCE. But Aaron Rodgers, Pro Bowl QB for the Green Bay Packers, actually said he likes to push the limits of the PSI levels in the footballs. Not generally aware. He told this to broadcaster Phil Simms, who quoted this on an NFL broadcast.

Not only was this laughed about, it's not even a blip on the NFL's discipline radar. As pointed out yesterday from Stephanie Stradley, a lawyer from Houston with no horse in this race (follow her on Twitter @StephStradley, she's brilliant), this didn't even register as even a minor faux pas for Vincent or the NFL.

Rodgers specifically said he likes to push the limits of the air pressure in footballs, and nothing. Brady might be generally aware that some other guy maybe fiddled with some game equipment, four game suspension. Yeah, makes sense.


Throughout the whole testimony, Goodell constantly butts in to get reassurances for answers that are in plain English. Or he has no idea what the word 'Yes' means.

He lacks any kind of reasoning and seems to not understand how language or the world in general works. He asks about Brady getting rid of his phone (by the way, Goodell introduced the word "destroyed." Nowhere does Brady say this. That language was introduced by Rog and told to the public to make him sound guilty) and seems to have no clue what a phone is or how it works.

Evidently, Big Rog thinks cell phones are owned and operated by the Mission: Impossible crew. This is the guy in charge of the biggest sports entity in the world.

This whole Deflategate nonsense has been a sham and a witch hunt from the get-go. It's an embarrassment for Goodell, Brady, the Patriots and all of the NFL. The sooner Brady is exonerated and plays in week one, the sooner we can all forget this and watch some football again. Like we all want to.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A "Rowdy" Roddy Piper Remembrance

(Editor's Note: I thought I'd defer to my associate Dan Moore to say a few words about the passing of Roddy Piper.  While I was obviously a fan of the Hot Rod, Dan admired him on a different level.  So it only seemed right for him to take the lead on this one.)

I grew up in a household that watched and tolerated wrestling to different degrees. My father went to live events with his buddies a lot. My mother used to let me, my older sister and younger brother stay up past our bedtime to watch Prime Time Wrestling, the precursor to RAW. She didn't mind wrestling but didn't much pay attention either. Around the corner was my Aunt Patty and my cousin John Michael who was like a big brother to us.  He watched all the time and tried out his wrestling moves on us much smaller kids. Auntie paid attention to varying degrees. But there was one wrestler everyone that all of us agreed was can't miss television: The Hot Rod was the best.

I was seven when WrestleMania came around back in 1985. That was back in the day when there were clear cut good guys and bad guys. My childhood brain loved the Hulkster, Junkyard Dog and Hillbilly Jim. I obviously hated King Kong Bundy and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. They were jerks and cheats.