Thursday, December 29, 2016

NJPW WrestleKingdom 11 Preview & Predictions

by Landon Wayne

WrestleKingdom. The peak of New Japan's mountain. The show Young Lions aspire to be a part of one day. The show that has seen the greatest wrestlers from across the globe...and TNA World Champion Jeff Hardy. But enough about sour relationships that made mockeries of future main eventers. We're here for the wrestlers of New Japan Pro Wrestling, to see all the events of 2016 come to a head at the beginning of 2017. And here for you, exclusively on, Justin and I are gonna go through each match on the card, give an index card's worth of insight, and let you know how we see it going down. Let's get started with Wrestle Kingdom 11, in...TOKYO DOME.

The New Japan Rumble

If this is your first WrestleKingdom, Imagine the pre-Mania Battle Royal you always ignored on the bonus features of your Wrestlemania DVDs. That's this. Near identical to a Royal Rumble, it's present on the pre-show mostly as a way for the rest of the New Japan roster to be in the Dome. There will also be cameos from the annals of NJPW and Japanese wrestling history in general, but nothing terribly important.

Landon's Pick: Doesn't Really matter. Haku, I guess.
Justin's Pick: Your guess is as good as mine. Probably one of the surprise entrants, but likely no one who will see a push because of winning this.  I'll go with Jushin Liger, why not?

Tiger Mask W vs Tiger The Dark (Kota Ibushi vs. ACH)

On paper this sounds like it's gonna be a fantastic match. ACH and Ibushi have styles that are unique, but will probably fit together perfectly. However, I can't help but flash back to Chris Jericho's first book, wherein he talks about his first, and last, night under the Super Liger Mask. Which was in the Tokyo Dome. Where he did such a poor job that the gimmick immediately died. I just hope both men practice together while wearing their masks. I'd prefer a choreographed good match over an ad libbed botch.

Landon's Pick: Tiger the Dark. And I still need to watch the anime.
Justin's Pick: Tiger Mask Ibushi.  And let's hope he soon takes off the mask and goes back to challenging for the big belts.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Title Match: The Young Bucks (c) vs. Roppongi Vice

The Junior Tag titles are defended in a straight-up 2 in 2 match this year. Roppongi Vice winning the tag tournament was a surprise to many who may not have been paying attention to underlying stories. Probably the most predictable match on he card, we've seen enough Young Bucks and RPG matches to be able to guess where this match will go. I'm honestly struggling for things to say about it.

Landon's Pick: Roppongi Vice
Justin's Pick: I'm glad we aren't getting yet another 4-way Jr. Tag match here.  Those are always fun but they've been featured on the last three WK shows and they start to blur together (not unlike 7-man WrestleMania Ladder match clusters).  This should be an excellent bout and I'll also go with RPG Vice to win the straps.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Movie Review: Rogue One - A Star Wars Story

Well my esteemed colleague Dan Moore and I have both seen Rogue One and we have some thoughts to share with you, whether you like it or not.  So here we go....


Justin: So Daniel, what did you think of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?

Dan: I liked it a lot. It felt totally different than any other Star Wars movies. I liked the new characters, with the exception of the lead. Jyn Erso I felt was a tad underdeveloped. Her mom dies, and she is raised elsewhere, and that's kind of it for her character. We're supposed to just assume she's a jaded badass after that without seeing any of it. The actress, Felicity Jones, was fine, but she played a non-character. As opposed to Rey in The Force Awakens, who seemed a much more vivid and REAL character.

But I enjoyed the rag tag, Dirty Dozen-like feel to this Star WAR movie. It was grim, it was gritty, and it helped erase the bad feelings of the truly inferior prequels. This one is THE PREQUEL in my mind. I choose to remember nothing of Episodes I-III until the inevitable Disney remakes.

Justin: I enjoyed it quite a bit, with a few reservations.  It definitely felt a little different while still feeling like you were in the Star Wars universe.  Everything was gritty and dirty and looked lived in, unlike three other movies I could name where the scenery was pristine and digital.  Rogue One is essentially a war movie, housed within the Star Wars setting (I saw nods to Saving Private Ryan, Apocalypse Now, and Bridge on the River Kwai).  It was a lot of fun to see this universe from a different angle, low and in the weeds.  This had the smallest scope of any Star Wars film thus far and I liked that; the filmmakers didn't feel the need to make it EPIC.  It also had some of the best space battle stuff they've ever done - it was chaotic but you could follow the action, there was some strategy involved, and a few legitimate surprises.

As for the reservations, I agree, Jyn was very underdeveloped as a character - we needed much more reason to care about her, since the plot itself was simply an exercise.  We already know what's going to happen, so it falls on the characters to draw us in.  She didn't quite do that for me.  My favorite character actually was the droid, who provided most of the humor.  The mystical blind dude was interesting as well and I would've liked to see more of his story.

The other minor gripe (very minor) is that this film is FULL of fan service.  Like it's all over the place.  Most of it works though, and is done tastefully.  But a few moments were a bit groan-inducing for me (Did we really need to see Walrus Man and Mr. Ugly?).  Obviously with a story so closely linked to A New Hope there's gonna be a lot of visual repetition, so the lion's share of that didn't bug me.  I appreciated that, unlike say Revenge of the Sith, this film actually respected the continuity with ANH and made sure there weren't any loose or contradictory threads.

The 2017 Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame

by Michael Drinan

It’s that time of year again when the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame announces its newest inductees. The Hall of Fame Class of 2017 are Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, Joan Baez and Yes, with an Award For Musical Excellence to Nile Rodgers. Here are a few thoughts on this year’s inductees....

Thank God Tupac got in!

My first thought when I saw the list of inductees was “Thank God Tupac got in!” because of all the dipshits out there who think hip hop shouldn’t be in the HOF. Hip hop certainly belongs. The argument that “It’s not rock n’ roll” is a weak argument when you take into account that it’s a genre that was an offshoot of rock music in the beginning, aligned itself within the New York punk/new wave scene and became an integral part of rock music in the late 90s, for better or worse. The mission statement of the HOF is to recognize artists who demonstrate “unquestionable musical excellence and talent,” as well as having “had a significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.” To suggest that hip hop hasn’t had a role in the development and evolution of rock & roll would be one of the most ignorant thoughts ever. Face it people, hip hop is in and it belongs and Tupac is deserving of induction.

Nile Rodgers and Chic

This is the eleventh time disco band Chic has been nominated and rejected for induction. If you’ve read any of my previous entries on the Hall of Fame nominees, you would know that I’m against Chic being inducted. I still feel they didn’t distinguish themselves apart from any other disco group out there while conceding their influence in the hip hop genre is strong and undeniable. Needless to say, I’m not upset that they didn’t get in. However, Nile Rodgers was given the Award For Musical Excellence which “honors performers, songwriters and producers who have changed the course of music history. These artists have dedicated their lives to creating influential, important music infused with originality, and have achieved a level of timeless distinction.” This creates a little controversy that even left Rodgers himself “perplexed.” Of course, the pro-Chic crowd is asking the HOF, “So, Chic isn’t good enough to get inducted but Nile Rodgers, who is a key contributor to the group, is given an award for being original and influential?” To which I say, “Yep, that’s right!” Rodgers has had a tremendous career on his own as a producer, songwriter and collaborator for a ton of artists like Diana Ross, Christina Aguilera, David Bowie, Sister Sledge, Madonna, Grace Jones, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran and Robert Plant. So it’s not as if he isn’t deserving of the award. Just because one member of a band is influential on his own doesn’t automatically translate to also mean the band was influential. Quiet down folks.


College girls everywhere are now celebrating the fact the band behind one of their favorite songs to sing while drunk and hugging their girlfriends, are now Hall of Famers. I don’t necessarily mind that Journey was inducted. There was a part of me that felt in time they would get in. It just seems a bit undeserved this year considering the other nominees.

Yes and ELO

Jesus. This fucking shit. This fucking shit right here. First, I kind of get ELO in the sense that Jeff Lynne was a close contributor and collaborator of George Harrison and Tom Petty to the point where he was a member of the Traveling Wilburys. So, I’m not totally shocked even though I think ELO sucks ass. But Yes? Are you fucking kidding me here people? So because they were a part of your 1970s high school soundtrack, you think they’re worthy of enough to be in the Hall of Fame? Fuck outta here. The only great thing Yes ever did was change their name from Mabel Greer’s Toyshop.

Joan Baez

For me, this was overdue. The biggest argument people have made against Joan getting in was she was mostly known for her covers, which is hard to argue. However, Joan was a key figure in the Greenwich Village folk scene that exploded in the ‘60s, and not only did cut a strong figure with her performances and iconic voice, but she influenced countless number of important artists within that scene, like Dylan, Phil Ochs and Johnny Cash. Hell, she even left an impression on rock gods Led Zepplin and Judas Priest. I like that she’s finally in as an artist. It feels right.

The Snubs

When the inductees get announced, the first thing we notice are the snubs and this year the list is a doozy. First, Chaka Khan. Third time nominated is not a charm for her and I think the HOF needs to take a long, hard look at itself. I was hoping this would be The Cars’ year to get in considering their accomplishments as opposed to fucking Yes, ELO and Journey, but looks as if I’ll have to keep on waiting.

However no other snub stood out like Janet Jackson. I’m pretty surprised she didn’t get in this year considering the nominees. She’s an icon that helped define an era in R&B which is more than you can say about Yes.

Looking ahead

Now that the Class of 2017 is in the books, next year’s list of eligible artists is looking pretty fucking awesome. We’re talking Beck, Rage Against The Machine, Radiohead, TLC, Dr. Dre, Tool and Stone Temple Pilots being the most notable. Throw them on top of the already eligible artists like Tori Amos, A Tribe Called Quest, Nine Inch Nails, PAT FUCKING BENATAR (!!!!!!!!!!!!), The Runaways, Alice in Chains, and the rest of 2017 nominees who didn’t get in this year, and there’ll certainly be quite a few people bitching about the HOF on social media.

There you have it! Leave your thoughts on the Class of 2017 in the comments section below. Who would you like to see get in next year?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The 2016 Year-End Pro Wrestling Awards

Welcome to's 3rd Annual Year-End Pro Wrestling Awards!  

2016 was a year of overwhelming change in the wrestling industry.  We saw defections, roster splits, new stars made, dream matchups realized, and above all a gluttony of available wrestling content.

The WWE Network alone added so many events, specials and series it became damn-near impossible to keep up with all of it.  Couple that with NJPW's usual, robust schedule, TNA, ROH, Lucha Underground, RPW, etc. and it's safe to say the wrestling business is financially pretty healthy overall.

WWE expanded to the point that their various sub-promotions are beginning to resemble the old territory days.  RAW, Smackdown, NXT, 205 Live, and the impending UK and Women's tournaments are providing something for just about everyone, and there's certainly no shortage of PPVs and Takeover specials to gorge on.  The second attempt at a roster split has been a mixed bag, but the two main roster brands have provided fairly divergent products thus far.  Adding to WWE's appeal this year was the influx of new faces and established outside talents, many of whom were allowed to keep their existing names and gimmicks.  It's created a refreshing set of new matchups and in some ways taken us back to the Monday Night War era, when known wrestlers would jump from one company to the other.  And much like the old territory days, familiar faces in a new environment allows some of these veterans to freshen up their gimmicks and movesets against a new crop of opponents.  It's all made for a very diverse WWE product, about which I obviously have numerous reservations and criticisms, but which does instill cautious optimism.

NXT continued growing into a full-fledged third brand, adopting a new TakeOver schedule based on the main roster's Big Four PPVs and making greater use of established veterans to add credibility and seasoning.  The "developmental" territory outclassed the main roster at every turn, providing most of the company's best major shows.

New Japan rallied after the loss of four top stars, quickly filling the void with some new blood and reinvigorating rising talent, thus allowing the company to break out of their comfort zone and take some booking risks.  Most of these paid off big, and while the overall quality might not have been quite at the pitch-perfect level of 2015, the company's long-term health looks extremely good.

Amid controversies and lawsuits, TNA still managed to hold on by a thread, changing up their product and employing some unconventional tactics, mostly involving Matt and Jeff Hardy.  I haven't kept up with TNA in quite some time, but from what I understand the product in 2016 was vastly improved from recent years.  So there's still hope for the Keith Richards of wrestling promotions.

Ring of Honor solidified and expanded their relationship with New Japan, making much greater use of NJPW's roster for special events/PPVs, and lending their own talent to the Japanese promotion.  ROH Titles were defended on NJPW shows, ROH stars captured NJPW gold, and it's allowed both companies to reach wider audiences.  TNA would be wise to try and get in on this action.

Monday, December 19, 2016

WWE Roadblock: End of the Line Review

WWE reached the End of the Line last night at their final 2016 PPV Roadblock, and while nothing grabbed me by the throat and shook, it was a perfectly solid way to spend an evening, given that it was an unnecessary December PPV event.  The six matches ranged from very good to total throwaway but nothing on the show was offensive and most of the booking was well-executed.  Let's take the deep dive, shall we?

The show opened with a hotly contested, loads-of-fun Tag Title match, as The New Day hoped to extend their new longevity record against Sheamus & Cesaro.  This was furiously paced with lots of suspenseful near-falls and great attempts by both teams to get a cheap advantage.  The New Day tried to use their superior numbers to pick up the win but Sheamus & Cesaro anticipated all of it.  The finish was superbly booked, as Sheamus went to make a tag and Cesaro deliberately whiffed on it but ran into the ring anyway, duping Kofi into thinking he was now the legal man.  Kofi hit him with Trouble in Paradise and went for the cover but Sheamus, still the legal man, dove on top of Kofi for a surprise win.  The New Day sold the loss of the belts perfectly, hammering home the devastation of being dethroned.  This is how you elevate a title.

Match #2 was the Sami Zayn 10-minute challenge against Braun Strowman, and while I was not a fan of this concept at all, the execution was decent.  Zayn showed some offense for the first few minutes before being decimated by Strowman's power.  Zayn took a tame but convincing beating (some blood here would've helped tell the story immensely) before Mick Foley showed up and threatened to throw in the towel.  Zayn then came back and eventually nailed Strowman with the Helluva Kick to go the distance.  I'm sure this feud will continue and Strowman will get his decisive win back.  Zayn needs to be in Title contention.

Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho was next, in a match that was hurt considerably by a pretty dull crowd (Pittsburgh's fans seemed very disengaged all night after the opening match), but was technically just fine.  They got 17 minutes and put together a technically very good bout with fun back-and-forth action.  Nothing at all wrong with the match, it just wasn't a classic like it should've been.  Kevin Owens attempted to interfere on Jericho's behalf but it backfired and Rollins got the win.  Jericho then sold disgust with Owens.

The worst match of the night was the Cruiserweight Title match.  They only got six minutes, the fans didn't care at all, and the action was just sorta there.  I don't know what needs to happen with this division but something does, pronto.  Fortunately after Rich Swann retained the belt, Neville showed up and beat the piss out of him and TJ Perkins.  So at least this division now has a clear antagonist and Neville finally has something to do.  It's the small victories....

The standout match of the night, not surprisingly, was Sasha vs. Charlotte for the Women's Title.  This Iron Man match had weight, drama, intensity, and a good story.  It had a few flaws too, but the match was good enough that they can be forgiven.  I loved the early grappling, I loved that there were no falls until 19 minutes in, I loved Sasha's resiliency and Charlotte's desperation.  I did not love that Sasha gave up the tying fall with only two seconds to spare, after Charlotte spent nearly five minutes destroying her knee.  John Cena once beat Randy Orton in an Iron Man match in similar fashion.  I get that when the pain becomes too intense you aren't thinking logically, and realistically Sasha had a 2-1 lead at that point anyway and figured she'd retain via a draw.  But two seconds?  What really should've happened is Charlotte should've used a chair late in the match to wreck Sasha's leg, then Sasha could've tapped with like 20 seconds left, and the clock would've run out as both women recovered.  Then Charlotte would've clearly tied up the match due to heel tactics.  Anyway, the overtime period was great; Sasha got a really awful bloody nose which added to the drama and brought to mind Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart.  After nearly mounting a comeback, Sasha fell prey to the Figure 8 again and finally tapped to drop the Title to Charlotte for the third time.  This certainly was an unusual feud, with six title changes.  Not sure what happens now.  Charlotte vs. Bayley at WrestleMania?  Sasha vs. Nia Jax?  Anyway I'd rate this gritty, old-school match roughly ****, and really would've liked to see it close the show.

The actual main event went to the rather anticlimactic Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns.  After some decent brawling early on, the bout settled a bit too long into the Owens headlock spot before ramping up again.  They did add some entertaining bells and whistles, such as the frog splash across the announce table.  But once again the crowd seemed pretty uninterested.  The finish here came when Owens failed to put Reigns away, and Jericho ran into the ring and attacked Owens, drawing a disqualification.  I did like this booking choice.  Jericho tagged his buddy, presenting the appearance of dissension, but then revealed it was all a ruse to save Owens' title AND give him a win.  Reigns and Seth Rollins were livid and put both guys through tables, a la The Shield.  If only RAW's top two babyfaces were more well-liked.

So the RAW product is definitely suffering from a lack of fan enthusiasm, largely due to Vince's inability to present likable babyfaces who actually win matches.  I don't know when he lost sight of what makes people cheer a wrestler, but it's been gone for a while now.  The fans will never like Reigns unless he goes through a great heel run first, and Seth Rollins hasn't been presented as someone the fans should actually identify with.  He's just an angry dude who got fucked over.  Rollins needs a soul-baring type of promo to turn the corner with this new character.  Reigns needs to become a villainous killing machine so he seems cool again.

But overall this show was perfectly solid, continuing the pattern of the split-brand PPVs:  RAW has the stronger roster and thus better overall PPVs, but Smackdown has better talent at the top and you're much more likely to see a Match of the Year contender on the blue PPVs.

Best Match: Sasha vs. Charlotte
Worst Match: Swann vs. Kendrick vs. Perkins
What I'd Change: Put the Iron Man match last and tweak the booking so Charlotte had to cheat to win.
Most Disappointing Match: Probably Rollins vs. Jericho, but it was fine
Most Pleasant Surprise: How good the Tag Title match was
Overall Rating: 7/10

Thursday, December 15, 2016

WWE Roadblock: End of the Line Preview & Predictions

Welcome to more PPV Predictions, yadda yadda yadda.  This new PPV schedule's gettin' to be a lot.  And could they seriously not come up with a new name for this one that wasn't already used THIS YEAR?  So 2016 had two Roadblock events.  Not to mention the name doesn't even make sense in this context.  Back in March it was supposed to be a "roadblock" on the Road to WrestleMania.  Now it's just a "roadblock" before we get to 2017?  I don't get it.  Anyway, there's a show this Sunday, it looks pretty decent, and now we're gonna talk about it.

***I'm still leading Dan, 59/94 to 57/94.  Suck on that.***

Pre-Show Match: Rusev vs. Big Cass

Rusev apparently has no career when not holding the US Title.  This is the second time his stock took a nosedive after he dropped the belt, both times to a former WWE Champion.  And now he's on the pre-show.  This however is Cass's first singles feud, so that's significant for him.  Rusev is supposed to be the heel here but he's been the sympathetic character the entire time, defending his wife's honor against two yahoos who make fun of her (one of whom was actually ready to bang her in a hotel room).  I'll ask this again: who's the babyface in this feud?  The match will be middle-of-the-road I'm sure.  Rusev is a solid worker but I'm not sold yet on Cass as a single.

Justin's pick: If this were on the PPV proper I'd pick Cass, as I know management is high on him.  But since it's a pre-show match only a segment of the audience will be watching.  Seems like Rusev'll get a cheap win to set up a more prominent match later.
Dan's pick: These PPV picks are getting to be a full time job. I think Cass gets the win here.

WWE Tag Team Championship: The New Day vs. Cesaro & Sheamus

Congratulations to The New Day on becoming the longest-reigning Tag Champs of all time.  It's quite an accomplishment for a trio that seemed doomed with a go-nowhere gimmick when they started.   But Kofi, Big E and Xavier took the ball and ran all the way with it, creating a money-making goofball persona that's moved merchandise like crazy.  This is a tough match to pick.  Conventional WWE wisdom says "Okay, they got to break the record, let's move on now."  But given how well their merch sells and how they seem on the verge of turning heel again it seems prudent to me to keep the belts on them till 'Mania, when a title change would be a huge deal.  On the other hand, how many times can you delay pulling the trigger on Cesaro & Sheamus?  This is a pickle.....

Justin's pick: I guess C&S finally get the job done
Dan's pick: I think New Day continue to reign.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Movie Review: Manchester By the Sea

by Michael Drinan

Next to the film Moonlight, Manchester By The Sea should be at the top of your 2016 “Must See” list. I had read about the buzz surrounding this film after its Sundance premiere back in January, and the hype just grew bigger until the gushing reviews started to roll in one after another...and rightfully so. This film is as incredible a story as it is emotional. Every rave review is well deserved.

Manchester By The Sea was written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, and tells the story of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a janitor/handyman in Quincy who receives word that his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died from heart disease. This forces Lee to travel to his hometown of Manchester By The Sea, Massachusetts to take care of the many responsibilities involved with his brother, including Joe’s teenage son, Patrick (Wonderfully played by Lucas Hedges). When Lee discovers his brother has not only appointed him Patrick’s guardian, but has also  provided funds for Lee to relocate back to Manchester, he is perplexed and insists that he cannot move back to his hometown. This creates a problem since Patrick feels he has more to give up moving away from Manchester than Lee has moving away from Quincy, but the reasons behind Lee’s resistance aren’t clear and the film does a fantastic job at carefully unveiling Lee’s story.

One of the best things about this movie is the writing. It’s difficult to write dialogue that sounds real and genuine for movies, but Kenneth Lonergan fucking nailed it. The way these characters talk and act toward each other feels so human and relatable I almost felt as if I were eavesdropping on what these characters were saying and doing. The majority of the dialogue is emotional and serious, and at times tense, but Lonergan knew how to include humor to break the tension and keep the moviegoer hooked. It worked like a charm. Nothing felt unnatural and this was a huge factor in caring about the characters.

The movie seamlessly weaves flashback scenes with the present day, slowly unfolding the story without causing any confusion with the audience. It trusts the audience will follow along as it delves into Lee’s backstory and explains the reason Lee feels he cannot return to his hometown. There are no spoilers here, but once you learn the reason it completely opens up the rest of the story and makes sense of everything, from Lee’s demeanor to his way of life, and it packs one hell of an emotional punch to the throat.

This brings us to the actors, and what better place to start than with Casey Affleck. The man utterly shines in this role. The acting is subdued and subtle but the way Affleck approaches his character is astounding. Just by the way he walks and carries himself you can tell Lee is a troubled man, carrying a heavy burden. As much as I loved him in The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, and especially his performance in Gone Baby Gone, this role is easily Affleck’s best work to date and he will almost assuredly receive a Best Actor Oscar nomination.

Michelle Williams also gives a noteworthy performance as Randi Chandler, Lee’s ex-wife, despite only appearing in spots throughout the movie. There’s tension and drama that is palpable between the two characters and reaches a crescendo when Randi and Lee run into each other walking around town. The scene between the two was the highlight of the film for me and Williams’ line “I should fucking burn in hell for the things I said to you” is forever burned into my memory. The scene broke me down, tears in my eyes, and reminded me of the “It’s not your fault” scene in Good Will Hunting and the diner scene in Moonlight, by being the moment when all the cards are on the table and you now truly know these characters. Williams’ delivery in that scene, combined with the character precision of Affleck’s Lee, made me feel everything these characters were feeling. It was difficult watching that scene end, I loved it so much.

The pacing of the film was deliberate, taking much-needed care in the storytelling and character development that allowed the emotional crux of the plot to really hit home. Even though there were short moments when I wondered where all of this was leading, once I got there I understood. The movie ends in the simplest of ways, neatly wrapping up the experience these characters had gone through. Initially, I didn’t like the ending; I felt there should be more. However, after thinking about it for a day, it was clear to me how necessary and appropriate the ending was. Maybe I was just sad that it was the end.

Look, I can’t tell you what to do and I know that the Star Wars film Rogue One is about to be released in a couple of days and that may take priority in many people’s movie-going lives. I know it will for me. However, I urge you to see this film. Like Moonlight, the film gives viewers an emotional, relatable, and at times, funny movie experience with master actors commanding their characters with absolute grace and purpose. Also like Moonlight, it will receive Oscar consideration and it’s gearing up to be a thrilling showdown reminiscent of 2008, when No Country For Old Men went up against There Will Be Blood for Best Picture. This year, it will be Moonlight and Manchester By The Sea. Take your pick, both are fucking incredible.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Drinan's Top Ten Metallica Albums

by Michael Drinan

While Justin and I were reviewing the new Metallica album, the question of where it ranked in the band’s catalog was an obvious one. After reading Justin’s rankings, I knew I needed to list my preferred order of their works because...well, why should he have all the fun, right (Like it’s his site or something)?  So, without further is my ranking of Metallica’s albums.

10. St. Anger

I think the notorious snare drum could be the only reason anybody needs to put this album at the bottom of the list, but nevertheless there are more reasons. The riffs were generic and uninteresting and at times it seemed as if James and Kirk’s guitars were competing for space, muddying up the playing. The absence of Kirk’s guitar solos hurt, causing the majority of the songs to be boring, especially with the long track times. Add all of that up and it’s easily their weakest album. As much as people hate this record (and boy do they hate this record), I don’t hate it as much. I really like the first four tracks and I love the anger that comes across in James’ vocals. Overall, the music did embody the turmoil the band was going through at the time and, like Justin said, was an album the band needed to make.

Key Tracks: Frantic, Some Kind of Monster, Dirty Window

9. ReLoad

The sister album to Load had a lot of really good songs, excellent playing and saw the band experiment a little further than on previous albums inhabiting a more mature-sounding style. Even though it was meant to be paired with Load, overall it has a different vibe than its companion. Some songs have a more country-blues influence and a lot of the songs, like “Slither”, “Bad Seed” and “Devil’s Dance”, carry some pretty heavy grooves in the riffs. The album does have some weak spots and quite a few songs feel as if they’re imitations or reflections of songs off of Load. Justin mentioned “Fixxxer” is “Outlaw Torn 2” and I would also add that “Better Than You” is a poor man’s “King Nothing” and “Prince Charming” imitates “Wasting My Hate”. None of that ruins the album for me per se, but it’s very obvious and makes the album as a whole weaker.

Key Tracks: Fuel, Bad Seed, Prince Charming


by Dan Moore

Unless you were under a rock for the last two years, you know that the rocket-armed,  gorgeous quarterback of the New England Patriots, Tom Brady, was railroaded by the very league for which he plays. The NFL decided that for the first time EVER, air leaving footballs due to science was a nefarious plot that was planned by the dastardly Brady and a few dinks in the locker room. The NFL leaked false reports for months, never bothered correcting them, and dragged Brady and his Hall of Fame reputation through the mud. The whole time, the NFL kept up with the lie that his was all for the “integrity of the game” being spouted from Lord Goodell’s weird, pursed lips.

Looks like Rog sat on an upside-down barstool

So the precedent is now set. The punishment for deflation of footballs is four games, a million-dollar fine, and loss of a 1st and 4th round pick. Got it.

BUT HOLD THE FUCK ON. Yesterday, it was reported by Fox’s Jay Glazer that the Giants had informed the NFL that they had suspected the Pittsburgh Steelers of playing with deflated footballs. OH YEAH, IT’S ABOUT TO GET GOOD, RIGHT!!?!?!? Goodell has to go all scorched earth on those cheaters from Pittsburgh now, right? Mike Tomlin’s legacy forever tainted! Big Ben is a huge cheater and he should be suspended! What a scumbag! All the national news outlets have definitely stopped talking about our Head Cheeto-Elect to talk about this awful, terrible news, right? Has Mark Brunell bought more Kleenix?!?!?!

Seriously, be more of a pussy....

Nope. None of that happened.  Within minutes, the NFL refuted the report. They have yet to refute Mort's incorrect 11 of 12 report from over a year ago.

So let’s review. Air missing from footballs.

BRADY & THE PATRIOTS: Evil dirtbags. Monster criminal masterminds. Related to both Voldemort and The Emperor. Also, seen pushing kids into mud holes and stealing their bikes.


I was gonna use a picture of actual crickets, but I'm too lazy.

Let me wrap my head around this. The Giants testing the balls on their sidelines and then sending those balls to the office in NY do not constitute a formal I have no idea what a formal complaint is (Also, testing the balls on the sidelines is tampering, and the Giants should be punished, as should the Colts in the original farce as they admitted to the same.).

It's a JOKE. Brady was drilled at a press conference like he was part of the Kennedy assassination, Big Ben goes up there, says he was actually playing with Nerf balls, and they all laugh it off. For Christ’s sake, a grown man CRIED ON AIR about air in footballs when it came to Brady. But now, nope, no big deal. The NFL has shown with this non-investigation that deflated footballs were not the real crime. The real crime was being successful. The real crime was Brady and the Patriots 15-year reign of terror on the NFL. The real crime was other NFL owners being sick of getting their asses kicked by TB12 and company. It would be funny if it weren’t so ridiculous.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Movie Review: Moonlight

by Michael Drinan

There should be quite a few movies on your “To See” list this time of year, when all of the films hoping Oscar will come calling get released, and there are quite a few good ones this year. However, the film that should be at the top of this list is Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins and starring Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes and AndrĂ© Holland.

Moonlight follows Chiron from boyhood to adulthood as he tries to discover himself, while growing up in the rough surroundings of a Miami neighborhood that seems to not understand who Chiron is or what he’ll become. It is woven into three parts or chapters, starting with Chiron as a kid, then as a teenager and finally as a full-blown adult.

Most of my favorite movies of all time deal with the human condition and experience. I find stories about a character’s struggle, endurance and perseverance, whether victorious or in defeat, some of the most interesting films out there and quite simply, Moonlight is one of the most realistic stories I’ve ever seen translated on film. It’s damn near flawless. Everything about this film is spectacular, from the characters and the acting to the directing and cinematography.

There wasn’t a wasted scene anywhere to be found. Watching Chiron go through each experience, interacting with each character, how they make him feel and how goddamn relatable the whole thing was, made this film such an experience and pleasure to watch. You feel something for each character, whether it’s anger, disappointment, love, appreciation or heartbreak, the film pulls you in and forces you to participate. The relationships portrayed in this film are fragile and complicated. Each play a part in Chiron’s story of himself, as he looks for any form of tenderness and acceptance in his life.

Each actor shows their skill in brilliantly interpreting the characters with such warmth and humility. The three actors who play the lead role of Chiron are stunning and the performances from all the actors are certainly award-worthy.

It’s an absolutely beautiful film to look at and the editing really brings attention to the environment surrounding the characters. The film’s soundtrack contains beautiful scores and classic songs perfectly placed to strengthen the scenes. Finally, Barry Jenkins’ directing is fantastic, bringing out the greatest performances from his cast in order to fluidly and realistically tell this incredible story of human connection. The statement that Jenkins makes is clear and poignant and can be felt by everyone who steps into the theater to see this film. It’s remarkable.

I promise to not give anything away here, but the diner scene near the end of the film...UGH! IT’S SO GOOD! And Barbara Lewis’ classic song “Hello Stranger” playing on the jukebox made the scene even better, adding so much to the emotional tension of the scene.

There are quite a few movies I’m itching to see in the theaters in preparation for awards season, but Moonlight has definitely become my favorite movie of the year. It’s certainly a film that will be talked about for years to come.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Music Review: Metallica - Hardwired...To Self-Destruct

Well, Metallica's long-awaited (and I mean fuckin' LOOOOOOONG-awaited) tenth album is on shelves and in the iPhones everywhere.  And my associate Mike Drinan (@mdrinan380) and I have allowed ourselves a couple weeks of digestion before commenting publicly on it (being that there's A LOT of it to digest).  So here we are with a discussion of Metallica's new album.....

Justin: So Michael, what are your thoughts on Hardwired...To Self-Destruct?

Mike: First and foremost, I really like this album. When I first heard the title track, it sounded like a castoff from Death Magnetic and I was worried that the band would be complacent and just try to make DM again but with better production. That, however, isn't the case. It's not a huge step forward from DM but it is a step forward. This album sounds like a mixture of all the eras of Metallica to me, from the thrash, speed metal era with "Spit Out The Bone" and the title track, to the more straightforward metal era with "Here Comes Revenge" and even the Load era with songs like "Now That We're Dead" and "Dream No More". The production on this album is so much cleaner and the performances are really good. I have to say, I'm really impressed with Kirk and his leads on this album considering he lost his phone with I think 200-someodd lead demos on it and was forced to remember some of them or come up with new ones. Sounds like he still has it to me. There is a lot happening in a lot of these songs that impressed me. Their influences spill over in these songs. I can hear a little Iron Maiden in "Moth Into Flame", a little Sabbath in "Am I Savage?" and of course, Motorhead. James' vocals I feel, for the most part, sound really good but there are a lot of spots where his lyrics are a little bland and uninteresting. I did appreciate the Lemmy tribute on "Murder One" even though I was expecting something a little thrashier and heavier, but that might be nitpicking.

My gripes on this album - first is Lars. I know Lars isn't a technical drummer but his playing on this is so mediocre, nothing he does excited me one bit and I haven't felt that way about his drumming since St. Anger. His kick drums sound very thin and weak. I'm used to them being heavy and full. Another negative I have is some of these songs seem very bloated and overdone. I feel as if they could've trimmed some of these songs down a little more.

The only songs that I really don't care for are "ManUNkind" and "Am I Savage?". The theme of the former just fell flat to me and the latter just didn't hold my interest. Some favorites are "Spit Out The Bone," "Now That We're Dead," "Confusion," "Moth Into Flame," and "Here Comes Revenge".

Alright Justin....what are your thoughts?

JB: I like the album a lot overall.  My appreciation is a bit tempered by the fact that it took eight years and it didn't blow me away like I'd hoped.  But there's plenty to like on this album, exhausting though it might be to get through in one sitting (as I did the first day).


by Dan Moore

Look, we all heard it yesterday after the Patriots dismantled the STLA Rams. “Tom Brady has now surpassed all other quarterbacks in NFL history with his 201st win”. He’s the winningest of all time. He’s got four Super Bowl rings, on his way to a possible fifth. He keeps breaking records and in his 39th year of life, his excellence shows no signs of slowing down. He is truly the GOAT.

Yeah, great, grand. But let’s be honest. Let’s be realistic. How many does he actually have? None. That’s right ZERO. As we all know, the Lord and Emperor Roger Goodell, who I trust implicitly, told me that science does NOT exist in the small town of Foxboro, Massachusetts. Which totally makes sense. So when Tom SHADY was found to have paid off multiple ball boys AND Mother Nature by deflating footballs in the hallways and pisshouses of Gillette Stadium, all his wins are vacated.

It stands to reason to me and any other real fan of honest-to-goodness no-cheating football that TB12 has exactly NO REAL WINS. No, that’s correct. Saint Roger of House Goodell let me know that he viciously abused footballs so I discern he’s done this his whole, gross, cheating career. So he has ZERO victories leading up to this year. Sure, after he was found to be the cheatingist cheater in CheaterLand, the balls were under lock & key like nothing we’ve ever seen before. But you just know Brady, with his gorgeous eyes and cleft chin, got to them somehow. He HAD to. How else would you explain his insanely good stats this year and last?

Hard work? Practice? Talent? No way. AIR IN FOOTBALLS. And clearly being that he was suspended this year, none of his wins this year count either. How can wins count the same year you’ve been suspended, DUH!

I refuse to believe that anything other than some sort of witchcraft has helped him "win" all these games. It’s just not possible. So bow down to him if you want, bow to him. Bow to the King of Slime, the King of Filth, the King of Putrescence. Boo. Boo. Rubbish. Filth. Slime. Muck. Boo. Boo. Boo.

WWE TLC 2016 Review, or AJ Styles Is Superman

So, TLC 2016, huh?  How 'bout it?  What we saw last night was essentially one of the old In Your House PPVs, with an extraordinary main event, a couple pretty good undercard matches, and some filler.  Nothing offensive and the show moved along swiftly, but overall just an okay PPV.

The proceedings unexpectedly kicked off with the Tag Title match, as Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton made pretty short work of Rhyno & Heath Slater.  The announcers weren't even trying to hide how long the odds were against the Champions and for the first few minutes I thought they might actually retain; usually when the announcers clearly favor someone they lose the match.  The action was fine but this wasn't long enough to mean much beyond the Title change.  There was a nice moment where Orton took a bullet for Wyatt and then Luke Harper at ringside took a Gore for Orton.  This established a clear pecking order within the Wyatt Family and it'll be interesting to see where this goes.  The crowd was into this and it turned out to be an easily digestible opening match.

Next was Nikki Bella vs. Carmella, which was easily the weakest match on the card but still felt like a pretty realistic, messy fight.  Nikki had her hair done in tight braids, a la the female UFC fighters.  Nice touch.  Carmella is still illustrating that she was called up too soon but she did take some pretty stiff shots, in particular the spot where Nikki kicked her from behind into the dasher boards.  Nikki eventually won with the new Rack Attack (This name makes no sense for this move by the way - the original Rack Attack was a Torture Rack Drop, while this one is just Marc Mero's old TKO), after emptying an entire fire extinguisher on her.  Not a great match but it did fit the storyline pretty well and the animosity came across.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

WWE TLC 2016 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another round of PPV Predictions here at  Christ, there's too many PPVs....and we're gonna be back in two weeks with ANOTHER one.  It's like someone loaded all the PPVs ever into a fire hose and turned it on full blast, right in my face.

This Sunday is Smackdown's TLC show.  Nice to see the blue brand get one of the big gimmick PPVs since RAW got Hell in a Cell.  Once again this show looks to be succinct and to the point, likely running under three hours.  It's quite sad when that's a good thing.  But let's get to the predictions.

***I'm up by three now, leading Dan 55/88 to 52/88, both of us having a terrible accuracy rate with Survivor Series.  Thanks a lot, Goldberg!***

Chairs Match: Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin

This match came about because Corbin got pretend-injured a few weeks ago in a match against Kalisto, losing him his spot at Survivor Series.  He then returned AT Survivor Series, ruining a perfectly good Cruiserweight Title match.  Dick.  Also, despite clearly being recovered from his fake injury he was NOT reinserted into the Surivor Series match, and instead Shane McMahon nearly got killed.  Ace move, gang.  This match is likely gonna be messy.  I like Kalisto but unless they're gonna make him an Intercontinental contender or put him back in the tag division he should really be on RAW with the Cruisers.  I still don't care much at all about Corbin.  He's a generic big man with two moves.  I'm guessing the chairs stip will help Kalisto level the playing field and allow him to win.

Justin's pick: Kalisto
Dan's pick: I guess Corbin wins here? I dunno, maybe Vince's love for the BIG MAN gets him the W. But Corbin stinks. Also, he's bald, but won't let it go.