Friday, July 27, 2018

Top Ten Things: July PPV Matches

Welcome to another edition of Enuffa.com's Top Ten Things, where I assemble a list of ten something-or-others and what-have-yous and decide what order they should go in.

Today I have a list of the ten greatest July PPV matches of all time.  The July PPV wasn't invented until 1988, when the NWA created a Great American Bash special headlined by Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger for the World Title.  For years the NWA/WCW was alone in presenting a PPV event in July, but in 1995 the WWF jumped in, filling the monthly gaps in their PPV schedule with a series of In Your House shows.  In 20 years nary a July has gone by without a PPV event.  While none of the Big Four shows have ever taken place during this month, the annual B-shows have supplied some real classics, some of which I'll talk about, startiiiiing...............now.




10. Midnight Express vs. Southern Boys - GAB '90 - 7/7/90


In 1990 the Midnight Express delivered some of the best matches of their career, and some of the best matches that year.  After dethroning US Tag Champs Brian Pillman and Tom Zenk at Capitol Combat, the Midnights defended against hot new babyface team The Southern Boys (Tracey Smothers and Steve Armstrong) at the Great American Bash.  The result was a blazing 18-minute tag team clinic that saw the Midnights retain.  In a rather poor in-ring year for the NWA, the US Tag division stood above the rest.




9. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn - Battleground - 7/24/16


These former best friends-turned hated rivals clashed one last time at the 2016 Battleground, in a match intended to put their epic feud to bed forever.  And what a battle it was.  Zayn and Owens know each other so well and have worked together so long they'd be hard-pressed to have a bad match, but this bout pulled out all the stops and ratcheted up the drama.  After a brief feeling-out process the big moves appeared fairly early in the match, with Zayn nearly killing himself on an errant springboard moonsault.  Owens then attacked Zayn's vulnerable right arm before Zayn staged a late-match comeback, complete with multiple brutal-looking half-nelson suplexes.  After several unsuccessful attempts to hit the Helluva Kick, Zayn finally nailed the move, picked Owens up almost with a look of regret, and hit a second for the win.  This match easily stole the show and proved one of WWE's best bouts of the year, while giving Zayn a much-need big win.




8. Jeff Hardy vs. Rob Van Dam - Invasion - 7/21/01


The Invasion PPV should've been the start of the greatest angle in wrestling history.  Unfortunately the WWF misfired at almost every turn, burying just about every non-WWF guy in the process.  The one import that caught fire though was Rob Van Dam, who for about six months was pushed to the moon, beginning with this Hardcore Title match against Jeff Hardy.  The two daredevils traded breathtaking high spots in a match that ranged all over the arena, before Van Dam snared his first taste of WWF gold.  The Invasion show may have been a disappointment but this match delivered huge.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Parents' Night In #10: Jaws (1975)

Kelly and Justin are back to talk about one of their all-time favorite films, one they just GOTS ta watch every summer, the Spielberg masterpiece JAWS!




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Book Review: The Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the WrestleMania Era


Chad "The Doc" Matthews of LordsofPain.net fame is back with another countdown of the top 100 something-or-others of the WrestleMania Era (for Doc's purposes that's 1983 to the present).  While his previous tomes focused on the greatest stars and champions of said era, his latest volume deals with the top 100 matches and rivalries of the past 35 years in both WWE and WCW.

Matthews' intent here is to create an objective match/feud ranking, taking into account not only the quality of key matches, but the buildup to them, the character interactions, and the feud's overall impact on the business for its time (The end of the book covers his scoring methodology in detail if you're interested).  After poring through decades of matches and moments, Chad put each candidate head-to-head with its peers in an attempt to nail down a definitive Top 100 that any wrestling fan can reasonably agree with.  As with all art forms, there is of course an unavoidable element of subjectivity when trying to argue that Match/Rivalry A is better than B, but Matthews does present a lucid, pretty compelling argument for the placement of each entry.

There are definitely inclusions (and exclusions) I didn't agree with, but I have to give the author credit for making a strong case for his rankings.  For example Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels being in the top 40, above many other feuds/matches I would deem far superior.  I wasn't a fan of this feud or match in general at the time and I've never felt the urge to revisit it.  But between Hogan-HBK drawing a very strong buyrate, Shawn managing to carry the entire feud on his own (Hogan opted not to appear on basically any TV leading up to the match), and Shawn getting out of Hogan one of his best-ever bouts (though hardly one of Shawn's best), I can at least appreciate why Matthews rates it so highly.  If you've read Doc's LOP columns you already know he's a fair and well-reasoned debater, and that comes across in the book as well.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Brewery Reviewery: One Love Brewery (Lincoln, NH)

Welcome to another Brewery Reviewery here at Enuffa.com, where I sample some local beer flavor and tell you all what I think.


 
One Love Brewery
25 South Mountain Rd Unit 4
Lincoln, NH 03251

My latest brewery visit took place at One Love Brewery in Lincoln, NH, on the main drag through town, just off of 93.  The family and I had just taken in a movie and wanted to grab a bite for lunch, and I wanted to drink some goddamn beers.


One Love is a German-style pub with a traditional feel; lots of wood with an open, multi-floor seating plan and 19th century decor; a very welcoming atmosphere.  The food there is your typical pub fare, with lots of comfort food options plus German favorites like pretzels with beer cheese and spicy mustard (We had a serving of those and they were quite tasty).  I wasn't super hungry so I just had a garden salad for my lunch entree, and it was actually very nice.  I do love me some balsamic dressing.


But beer is the reason I'm here, so let's get to that.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Top Ten Things: Disappointing Wrestling PPVs

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

Today's topic is something we can all relate to as wrestling fans.  You're all set up in front of the TV, maybe with a beer in hand, maybe some popcorn, maybe a slice of pizza, maybe a nice wholesome bowl o' broccoli.  That warning screen flashes, instructing you against the unauthorized reception of the upcoming broadcast, and the anticipation has reached a fever pitch.  You can't wait to see three or four hours of wrestling awesomeness unfold before your eyes.......And then you're treated to sports-entertainment shit sandwich.  Nothing about the show lives up to your expectations.  Your world crumbles around you.  And you're goddamn pissed.  The following are ten examples of such an experience for me.....



10. WrestleMania IV


After the unequivocal success (both commercial and critical) of WrestleMania III, the WWF had their work cut out for them to somehow make the followup even bigger than the Hogan vs. Andre-headlined blockbuster.  They decided that a first-time-ever WWF Championship tournament would do the trick, and booked a brilliantly-executed swerve to vacate the Title.  This 14-man tourney would be the centerpiece of WrestleMania IV, but the card would include a staggering eighteen scheduled bouts (only sixteen took place due to tournament draws) over a period of four hours.  If that sounds like an overloaded show, that's because it was.  There were simply too many matches crammed into this PPV and thus nothing got enough time to shine; the tournament final was given a skimpy nine-and-a-half minutes, making it the shortest WrestleMania main event ever until 1993.  Where WrestleMania III featured both an in-ring masterpiece (Savage vs. Steamboat) and a tremendously entertaining spectacle (Hogan vs. Andre), 'Mania IV boasted no truly memorable bouts, and aside from Randy Savage's Championship coronation in the finale, boasted nary an historic moment.  Couple all this with a largely uninterested live crowd comprised mostly of business guests of Donald Trump's, and what ensued was a dull, dreary WrestleMania that served as the WWF's worst PPV of 1988.




9. Great American Bash '88


The NWA's third-ever PPV event featured two huge firsts, Ric Flair defending the World Title against his former Horsemen protege Lex Luger, and a monumental five-on-five war inside a three-decker steel cage.  Going into this I couldn't wait to see how this incredible, foreboding structure would be utilized, and I anticipated the company's new top babyface dethroning the heel Champion.  Well, Luger came up short of the Title in just about the stupidest way possible - the Maryland State Athletic Commission stopped the match because Luger was bleeding from the forehead, despite Luger having snared Flair in his Torture Rack finisher.  And the Tower of Doom as it was called consisted of the two teams essentially trying to race each other from the top cage to the bottom so they could each run away from the battle.  This match was both boring and confusing to watch.  Elsewhere on the card we got two very good tag team matches, neither of which had a clean finish, and a Barry Windham-Dusty Rhodes US Title match involving a heel turn that made no sense, from someone not involved in the match whatsoever (Ronnie Garvin).  The nonsensical booking turned what should've been a pretty great show into an overthought calamity with almost no satisfying finishes.  Fortunately the company would refocus under the new Ted Turner regime and string together several great PPVs over the next year and a half.




8. Survivor Series 1990


The 1990 edition of this Thanksgiving PPV introduced a new wrinkle.  Not only would we be treated to the usual series of team elimination matches, but the survivors of each bout would meet at the end for a climactic Survival Match.  Also the company teased the debut of a new character for weeks leading up to the event, as a giant egg appeared on WWF television  and would apparently hatch at the PPV.  The resulting show featured abbreviated elimination matches, the one involving WWF Champion the Ultimate Warrior stuck in the opening slot, and the big egg-hatching reveal turned out to be a man in a turkey suit dancing with Gene Okerlund.  The Gobbledygooker was never involved in any match or storyline going forward and served no purpose whatsoever.  Finally the big Survival Match main event went a scant 9:31 and played out like a warmup showcase for Warrior and Hulk Hogan.  This PPV was a poorly assembled mess except for the debut of The Undertaker, the only good thing it's remembered for.



Saturday, July 21, 2018

Toys That Pissed Us Off: Playsets

Welcome to a new feature here at Enuffa.com!   Today our very own Dan Moore and I will discuss some of the toy playsets from our respective youts (What is a yout?) that really burned our asses for one reason or another.

Playsets in theory were all kinds of awesome.  You had your action figures and were all set to reenact some awesome movie sequence or what have you, but you needed a setting for the excitement to take place in.  You could either use your imagination and pretend the top of your dresser was the Death Star, or you could fashion something out of cardboard boxes, or you could be like the cool kids and get the officially licensed playset specifically designed to go with your toys.  And when it was good, it was AWESOME.  The G.I. Joe line for example boasted nary a bad playset.  From the Defiant shuttle to the Cobra Terror Drome, to the massive 7.5-foot USS Flagg, those playsets set the standard for action figure accessories.  Sadly not all playsets were so well-thought out.  Here are eleven such examples, in no particular order.

We'll start with one of the most beloved toy franchises, the original Kenner Star Wars line.




1. Jabba's Throne Room


Justin: Let's get one thing out of the way - the Jabba figure itself was spectacular.  It was easily one of the best Star Wars toys Kenner ever produced, with incredible detail, movable arms and a tail that twitched when you turned Jabba's head.  This toy looked fantastic.  His throne though was a different story.  The detail looked good, and it included a trap door into which Jabba could send his victims to be eaten by the Rancor.  But there were one or two problems.  First off, the trap door was the surface the Jabba toy sat on.  So you'd have to remove Jabba to access it.  Second, the door opened OUTWARD.  The hell kinda trap door opens up like that?  The victim would be catapulted across the room!  Third, the area under the trap door was so shallow your Luke figure could only be placed there in a horizontal position.  So there was no reenacting the Rancor scene with this stupid toy.

Dan: I wanted to LOVE this fucking playset. My cousin Jefferey told me all about it before I got it. How cool Jabba was. How awesome all the accessories were. And that it had a working pit. I was fucking PSYCHED. I had one of those Inhumanoid giant toys who could double for the Rancor so I was ready to play.

This giant fellow in the middle?  Oh yeah, Rancor on 'roids!

And then I got the dumpster fart of a playset. Realizing that my dreams of having Luke get chased around under Jabba were crushed, I quickly dispatched with the playset itself and recreated one on my own out of a plain cardboard box, like a true poor person.






2. Ewok Village


Justin: To be fair, this was a pretty impressive playset for its time.  A big walkway area with a fire pit, over which you could pretend the Ewoks were roasting a person, a tree elevator, and a net for capturing unwitting Rebels underneath.  But compared to the setting in the film this was really skimpy.  Only one place to roast people?  A net underneath the village instead of off in the woods nearby?  An elevator that only holds like two people at a time?  Not to mention very little actually happened in the Ewok village in the movie - all the Endor action took place in the open woods.

Dan: I actually loved this playset a lot. But yes, my initial bitching about it was that there was no room to cook up both a Skywalker AND a Solo. I was PISSED. I refashioned the useless elevator into another roasting pit and I was happy about that. My parents were not happy, however, years later when they bought the Sherwood Forest playset from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and realized it’s the SAME FUCKING TOY.



Also, the Friar Tuck toy was a Pig Guard from Jabba’s palace with a new head. Blew my mind



Friday, July 20, 2018

The History of NWA/WCW Great American Bash (1991)

Alright, time to hold my nose as I review this stinker.....


Legend vs. Legacy - Baltimore Arena - 7.14.91

Oh wait, scratch that.  Change of plans....

Luger vs. Windham - 7.14.91

In a scant two years the NWA (morphing into WCW) went from being at the top of its game to being in absolute creative shambles.  Nowhere is this more evident than at their 1991 summer spectacular.  Ric Flair, the NWA's top star for the past decade, had reached a contractual impasse with the new management (led by the cosmically inept Jim Herd) and was forced out of the company while still in possession of its top championship.  His scheduled match with Lex Luger was thus off, and WCW's scrambling to plug this roster hole seemed to have a domino effect on the rest of this PPV.  Once again they shoehorned eleven matches onto a three-hour broadcast, and once again most of the matches belonged in a wrestling dump heap.

Case in fucking point: Steve Austin & Terrence Taylor vs. Bobby Eaton & PN News in a Capture the Flag Scaffold Match.  Sweet merciful Christ, what the hell was this?  Scaffold matches in general are terrible, but this achieved new levels of putrid.  The scaffold itself looked so rickety and unsafe I don't know how these four guys were even coaxed up there.  Once on the platform they did basically nothing for the better part of ten minutes, aside from trying to not die.  After several agonizing minutes of a match three of these four guys should've been mortified to have on their resumes (I'll let you guess which three), Bobby Eaton captured the other team's flag to euthanize this shitshow.

Absolute drivel

Next up was one of several not-ready-for-PPV bouts: Tom Zenk vs. Diamond Stud, a forgettable free TV match featuring an enormously jacked Scott Hall a year before he jumped to the WWF and mainstream success.  Stud won after some interference from DDP.  Moving on....

We go from the future Razor Ramon to the future Diesel, as Ron Simmons faced Oz.  Apparently every match on this show featured a future WWF talent from 1996.  This also belonged nowhere near a PPV.  A portly Kevin Nash looked lost for most of this, yet somehow got to dominate the match.  Eventually Ron Simmons woke everyone up with a clothesline that sent Oz over the ropes, but Oz soon took over again.  Simmons eventually won with a powerslam.

Simmons' reaction upon learning he'd be working with Oz: ".....DAMN!"

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

WWE Extreme Rules 2018: A Microcosm of Vince's Shitshow


Move over Backlash, there's a new sucky PPV sheriff in town.  Extreme Rules felt like WWE was actively trying to put on a bad show, between the filler matches, the multiple instances of counterproductive booking, and the noteworthy moments WWE expects everyone to remember in place of good wrestling.  This felt like a Bischoff-era WCW PPV, except without a show stealing Cruiserweight Title match.  I'm hard-pressed to pick a match of the night; only two bouts are in contention but neither of them was even on par with the opening G1 match on night 3 (Michael Elgin vs. Hangman Page).  WWE's product is in absolute shambles right now and it requires on my part a Herculean effort to even get annoyed with it.  That's how little I care.

The show opened with a pair of utterly forgettable matches, one of which featured a title change.  The B-Team defeated Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt for the RAW tag belts in a nothing, free TV-caliber match, and then Finn Balor "upset" Baron Corbin with a small package in another free TV-caliber match.  It's adorable they're still trying to present Corbin as any kind of threat, but no, I'm not buying it.  Balor's position in this company is so far beneath where he should be, but they have so many more issues beyond that I can't even focus on him.  *1/2 for the B-Team match, *3/4 for the Balor one.

Case in point, the systematic sabotage of Asuka in service of the least deserving women's champion since the Kelly Kelly era, Carmella.  I just want to sit down with Vince and ask him, "Why do you hate Asuka so much?"  I also want to sit down with Triple H and ask, "Why are you letting Vince destroy stars you've so carefully built?"  Going into WrestleMania 34 Asuka was something special.  An undefeated, legit badass with gargantuan charisma.  Three months later Asuka is just another one of the girls, just another dimwitted babyface who gets distracted by shiny objects at the expense of her title aspirations.  That a nothing in-ring talent like Carmella even beat Asuka to the championship, let alone got to pin her twice on PPV is a microcosm of how ass-backward Vince's booking philosophy is these days.  After five minutes of forgettable action, James Ellsworth predictably escaped his shark cage but got stuck hanging upside down, at which point Asuka forgot all about winning the title and instead beat up Ellsworth.  And then Carmella rammed her into the shark cage and pinned her.  Asuka could not have been made to look more ineffectual if WWE were deliberately trying (and I'm convinced they were).  DUD



Monday, July 16, 2018

The History of NWA/WCW Great American Bash (1990)

The New Revolution - Baltimore Arena - 7.7.90

1989 to 1990 was quite a dropoff in quality for the NWA, and the Great American Bash PPV falls right in line with that.  The long-awaited Ric Flair vs. Sting showdown had been in the works for months, and was originally booked for WrestleWar that February.  But a knee injury sidelined Sting for four months and Lex Luger took his spot, turning babyface and feuding with Flair until Sting was ready.  While this was certainly a huge marquee match, I wasn't a Sting fan at the time and therefore wasn't particularly excited about his inevitable Title win.  I was also pissed that the company reverted just about all the top stars to where they were in 1988.  Flair and the Horsemen were the top heels, Luger was a babyface again.  It all felt like a retread.

As for this show, once again they crammed way too many matches in, and this time it was an astonishing eleven bouts, nearly half of which had no business on a PPV.

First up was Brian Pillman vs. Buddy Landell.  This was a decent enough opener, as Pillman was obviously quite accomplished and Landell was a solid hand.  I'm not sure what the purpose was though.  They weren't feuding and Pillman had come off of a really strong US Title program with Lex Luger, followed by a US Tag Title run.  Why was he being wasted in a throwaway showcase match?

Next was Mike Rotunda vs. The Iron Sheik.  Seeing mid-80s WWF guys like Sheik, Orndorff, Bob Orton, and Junkyard Dog show up in the NWA in 1990 was so strange.  I guess they just wanted recognizable names to help put over the younger NWA stars at this point.  Rotunda had given up his Varsity Club gimmick in favor of a sailor persona, which was beyond stupid.  Rotunda didn't have babyface charisma at all and the Captain Mike thing reeked of 80s jobber.  Mike won a brief match that was out of my head the moment it ended.

The third consecutive throwaway match on this show, Dutch Mantell vs. Doug Furnas was designed to showcase newcomer Furnas, but the match went on far longer than it needed to, and again, I'm not sure why this was included on a PPV.  Furnas won with an impressive belly-to-belly suplex after eleven ponderous minutes.

The oddly pleasant surprise of the night was Harley Race vs. Tommy Rich, in an incredibly physical match given Race's age (He was 47 but looked 60), that proved Race could still turn it up when he needed to.  Contrary to expectations, Race did most of the crazy bumping, including his usual back somersault over the ropes ending with his head hitting the ring apron.  This match had historical value since nine years earlier Rich upset Race for the NWA Title, but otherwise this was a superfluous match that was better than it had any right to be.

How'd Eaton not suffer massive spinal compression?

The proper PPV began with the Midnight Express vs. Southern Boys, another classic effort by Eaton and Lane.  In the tradition of MX's battles against The Rock n' Roll Express and The Fantastics, this match began with babyface team dominance as The Southern Boys stayed one step ahead of the Champs for the better part of ten minutes.  Eaton and Lane eventually took control after some heel tactics, and the match built to a melee with multiple finishers before Eaton rolled up Tracy Smothers in a small package for the win.  The Midnights were in peak form in 1990 and this was one of the highlights of their year.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Welcome to yet another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies here at Enuffa.com, where I examine a film that is horribly, deeply, life-wreckingly flawed but for one reason or another I can't help tossing it into the DVD player every so often.


Today the film in question is the third installment of the original Mad Max Trilogy, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.  I'm a huge fan of this series - the inaugural Mad Max is a mercilessly bleak dystopian film with an unrelentingly frantic pace, wherein our protagonist loses everything he cares about and becomes a sadistic revenge-seeker.  The second film, The Road Warrior, is simply one of the greatest action films I've ever seen.  This hugely influential piece of pop culture is essentially a Western set in a post-apocalyptic future, where Max has been aimlessly roaming the wasteland scavenging fuel and food, and lends his considerable survival skills to help a small band of colonists defeat a gang of homicidal marauders.

The first two movies make up two-thirds of a near-perfect trilogy.  Unfortunately, as with many trilogies, the third episode falls devastatingly short of expectations.  With Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, director George Miller stepped back into a Co-Director role after his longtime producer Byron Kennedy was killed in a helicopter crash.  Right off the bat this movie would lack the main driving creative force behind the first two films.  Still there was an interesting story to be told here, and some aspects of it worked quite well.  Let's take a look at the pros and cons of Beyond Thunderdome.


The Awesome


Mel Gibson

None of these movies would work at all without Mel Gibson's thoroughly compelling turn as the emotionally broken Max Rockatansky.  Gibson has lately revealed himself to be a totally crazy person with serious bigotry issues, but it's impossible to deny what an onscreen talent he used to be.  When I first heard they were making a new Max film without Gibson I couldn't possibly picture anyone else in the role (I have to admit though, Tom Hardy proved himself a fantastic choice).  Like Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones or Bruce Willis as John McClane, Mel Gibson was born to play Max.  He brought rugged, taciturn charisma and a hardened heroic quality to this lonely but honorable character.  We're able to completely sympathize with him despite his moral ambiguity.

Max is a BAMF

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Mallrats

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, where I dissect a cinematic clunker that I also happen to enjoy.


Today's topic is Kevin Smith's second film Mallrats.  After the indie success of his smart, slacker-centric Clerks in 1994, Smith was given a much larger budget by Universal Studios to do basically the same type of movie.  But this time our pair of lovelorn, do-nothing 20-something protagonists spend their aimless free time at a mall, trying to repair their failed relationships.  Returning from Clerks are the zany supporting characters Jay & Silent Bob, who in this film are given some action-comedy set pieces and get to directly affect the plot.  The studio more or less took Smith's trademark formula and attempted to make it more mainstream, with very mixed results.  At the time I found this film unequivocally hilarious, but it's probably aged the worst of Smith's View Askewniverse outings.

So let's look at what worked and what didn't....



The Awesome


Jason Lee

Almost everything great about his movie begins and ends with Jason Lee.  The former skateboarder became a major find for Kevin Smith, who would cast him in numerous subsequent films.  But perhaps no role was as big a show stealer for Lee as Brodie Bruce, the mall-obsessed comic book and video game junkie whose lack of ambition has cost him his girlfriend Rene.  Lee's brilliantly vulgar, reactionary delivery is responsible for most of the film's best lines, and his natural charisma allows the viewer to identify and root for this character in spite of his many flaws and obnoxious persona.

I fuckin' love that guy.



Shannon Doherty

One of two principles cast for their name value, Shannon Doherty gives a harsh but oddly likable performance as the strong-willed, no-bullshit Rene, who's reached the end of her patience with her lazy, inattentive boyfriend.  The focus of the movie is on the male characters, but Doherty admirably conveys why the firebrand Rene is such a good match for Brodie.

Brenda??




Michael Rooker

Character actor Michael Rooker plays the film's main antagonist Jared Svenning, whose primary motivation is to keep T.S. Quint (Jeremy London) from dating his daughter.  Svenning is an aspiring game show producer/host whose pet project Truth or Date serves as the film's Maguffin.  Rooker plays this role with over-the-top relish, serving as both a villain and something of a buffoon who, as a television producer, is in over his head.

Don't eat the pretzels!


NJPW G1 Climax 28 Preview & Predictions

It's mid-July and that means it's time for the most exciting four weeks on anyone's wrestling calendar, when twenty of New Japan's top heavyweights compete in a round-robin tournament for a slot in the WrestleKingdom main event.  That's right, the G1 Climax is upon us!


This year's lineup is stacked as all hell, and similar to last year's (I'm not complaining by the way, the 2017 edition was pretty unanimously considered the greatest wrestling tournament of all time), but with championships having changed hands and certain participants looking to climb back up the mountain the stories should play out a little differently. 

For those of you new to the G1, the format is two blocks of ten, each of whom wrestles everyone else in his block once over the four weeks.  A win gets you 2 points, a draw gets you 1, a loss gets you 0.  The two block leaders at the end face each other in the Finals, and the winner gets the #1 Contender's briefcase to challenge for the IWGP Title at WrestleKingdom, but with a caveat.  Whoever had defeated the eventual winner during the course of the tournament gets to challenge him for said briefcase, which plays out over the fall PPV season.  Thus far the briefcase has never changed hands, but there's a first time for everything.  Also of note, since the implementation of the G1 briefcase in 2012, no G1 winners have gone on to dethrone the champion at the Tokyo Dome.  It is a great honor and accomplishment to win the G1 Climax but by no means is it a guarantee of becoming the IWGP Champion.  The G1 winners in the briefcase era were Kazuchika Okada in 2012, Tetsuya Naito in 2013, Kazuchika Okada again in 2014, Hiroshi Tanahashi in 2015, Kenny Omega in 2016, and Tetsuya Naito again in 2017.

But anyway, let's get to the analysis.  I'll talk briefly about the 20 participants and then offer predictions and most anticipated matchups in each block.



Block A

Kazuchika Okada

The former IWGP Champ enters his first G1 in four years without the cherished gold.  This radically changes the dynamic of his performances here, as he'll no longer be playing defense.  Instead Okada will need to scratch and claw his way to the top of the standings if he wants to main event WrestleKingdom for the fifth straight year.  We should feel a greater sense of urgency in his matches this time.  Okada is, I would think, a lock for the Finals and a heavy favorite to win it all.


 


Hiroshi Tanahashi

The previous company Ace still has some gas left in the tank.  Can he climb back up the mountain and get one more run with the belt?  Tanahashi's big matches the past year or two have carried a greater sense of desperation, as he struggles to stay at the level of his prime years.  Tana will last deep into this tournament but likely fall short on the last A block night, falling to Okada again.  Or will he?





Jay White

Fresh off losing the US Title in what has to be considered his best match to date, Jay White has gone full-on asshole heel and I love it.  Being a former champion, he'll obviously have a bigger chip on his shoulder which should garner electric heat and make his matches emotionally engaging.  Looking forward to seeing him grow as a performer over these four weeks.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

WWE Extreme Rules 2018 Preview & Predictions


.......Sigh.......another lackluster WWE show is upon us, folks.  Time to pretend any of it's interesting and make some predictions.  It continues to baffle me how badly WWE wastes their insanely talented roster on boring, tired matchups while leaving potentially great ones on the table (or ruining them with stupid booking, a la AJ vs. Nakamura).  Of the ten scheduled matches this Sunday only two interest me, and there are a few others that should be decent despite my not caring about them.  Sooo, let's get to it I guess.  How did the B-PPVs actually get LESS interesting since they dual-branded them??

***Dave has taken the lead this season, with 26/42 (62%), Dan and I are tied with 25/42 (60%), and Landon has fallen slightly behind with 24/42 (57%).  But Jeezus, none of us are doing well, thanks to the nonsensical booking that's plagued the product since 'Mania.***





Pre-Show Tables Match: The New Day vs. SAnitY


This was just added.  Christ there's a lot of matches on this show.  Tables matches are usually lame.  New Day matches are usually good.  I'm so torn.  Anyway, SAnitY are the new team on the block so they win here.

Justin: SAnitY
Dan: 'The fuck is Sanity?  I don't even watch the shows anymore.  I don't care, Sanity wins.
Landon: SAnitY
Dave: New Day





Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin


First off, how the FUCK did this make the card but Sasha vs. Bayley still hasn't happened yet?  They've been teasing that goddamn feud since February!  Shit or get off the pot, for fuck's sake.  Anyway, I have zero interest in seeing Finn attempt to get a good match out of Corporate Corbin or whatever the hell they're calling him now (Yeah, I know, it's Constable - because there's been one of those in this country in the last 200 years).  Two years ago Finn became the first Universal Champion.  Now he's curtain-jerking (or worse) against a hump like Baron.  Welcome to WWE, home of the reverse ladder to success.

Justin: I guess Finn takes this?  Christ, I hope so.
Dan: Yeah Finn
Landon: Corbin
Dave: Finn I guess.





RAW Tag Team Championship: Deleter of Worlds vs. The B Team


I have a feeling this gets bumped to the pre-show.  Does anyone care about this match?  A mongrel tag team defending against a jobber tag team?  Pointless.

Justin: Matt & Bray retain
Dan: Matt & Bray
Landon: Champs retain
Dave: Matt & Bray





Extreme Rules RAW Women's Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax


Oh good, this match again.  Look, I enjoyed their first two outings.  In fact I'm one of the few who did.  But why do we need it again?  Ronda Rousey is going to be sitting at ringside for this so obviously it's setting up her next title shot at SummerSlam, presumably against Alexa.  I guess the Extreme Rules stip could make this different.

Justin: Alexa retains
Dan: Alexa
Landon: Alexa
Dave: Alexa but who cares?

Monday, July 9, 2018

NJPW G1 Special Review

New Japan delivers again.  The G1 Special at the Cow Palace was yet another pretty stellar effort from the world's best wrestling promotion, featuring three excellent marquee matches and a host of fun undercard bouts, plus some newsworthy items.


The first three tag team matches were just a fun way to warm up the crowd, starting with a 10-man tag between the lower-tier Bullet Club members and the supporting members of CHAOS (RPG3K, Gedo and Yoshi-Hashi).  The SanFran audience popped big for King Haku, who teamed with two of his sons (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa), plus Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens.  The match was a briskly paced nine minutes and ended with Tonga scoring the pin on Gedo.  Not much more than a showcase, but it didn't overstay its welcome and Tama Tonga in particular looked like a star here.  More on that later.  **

Next up was the best of the three undercard tag matches, as Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre resumed their feud with Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano.  As expected this match shined when Suzuki and Ishii were pounding the snot out of each other.  Their inevitable singles match will no doubt be a brutal spectacle.  The finish came out of nowhere as Yano tried several times to hit a low blow on Sabre only for Sabre to block and counter.  But Ishii leveled him with a clothesline, allowing Yano to cradle him for the pin.  Very entertaining stuff.  **3/4

The third showcase match pitted Tanahashi and Kushida against Hangman Page and Marty Scurll, and accomplished a lot in elevating Page.  Very early in the match Page hit a death-defying shooting star press off the apron to the floor, landing on his feet(!) and knocking Kushida down.  From there the pace was furious as the heavyweights and the juniors paired off, but in the end Page finished Kushida with his Rite of Passage finisher (reverse Tombstone piledriver).  Page is rapidly proving himself a worthy New Japan star and I'm interested to see how he does in the G1.  **1/2

The first important bout was next as Hirooki Goto defended the NEVER Title against Jeff Cobb.  This was a rugged display of athletic power wrestling, full of suplexes and high-impact moves.  This was my first time seeing Cobb and thus far I'm duly impressed.  From what I understand this wasn't even one of his best efforts (at 12 minutes it felt a little short), but I'm hoping New Japan will bring him on board officially.  Goto retained after the GTR.  Solid midcard match.  ***

The History of NWA/WCW Great American Bash (1989)

This one's generally considered the best of the bunch....


Glory Days - Baltimore Arena - 7.23.89

1989 was in my opinion the best year in NWA history.  The company had undergone major management and booking changes with the sale to Ted Turner, but the emphasis was still on simple storylines and athletic wrestling.  It's no surprise that the 1989 Great American Bash was and is considered a classic PPV, with loads of star power and several standout matches.  It's also a source of a bit of frustration for me, because with a bit of retooling this show could've been basically perfect.  It was the first hour that got in the way.

The show opened with a two-ring Battle Royal showcasing several midcard stars and some of the company's newest talent.  The 14-man bout included Eddie Gilbert, Terry Gordy, Steve Williams, Scott Hall, Bill Irwin, Brian Pillman, Ranger Ross, Mike Rotunda, Ron Simmons, Rick & Scott Steiner, Kevin Sullivan, and the Skyscrapers, who won the whole thing and split the winnings.  While the two-ring format set this apart from traditional Battle Royals (and made for a nice unusual visual the whole night) this was pretty nondescript stuff, really only notable for monster heels Sid Vicious and Dan Spivey getting a big win.

I thought the Skyscrapers were pretty boss at the time

What didn't make sense were the next two bouts that followed.  First Brian Pillman faced Bill Irwin in a ten-minute squash that clearly didn't belong on a PPV, then The Skyscrapers showed up again to annihilate The Dynamic Dudes, in another glorified showcase match.  These two matches took up nearly 20 minutes that should've gone to some of the later bouts.

Another pointless match was next as Jim Cornette faced Paul E. Dangerously in a Tuxedo Match.  I'm generally against manager vs. manager bouts full-stop, but especially when both of them are involved in one of the headlining matches designed to help settle their issue.

The show really got going in match 5, as the Steiner brothers faced Mike Rotundo and Kevin Sullivan in a wild Texas Tornado match.  This was about as good as could be expected, with all four guys doing a lot with what little time they were alotted.  Imagine how much better this could've been with five more minutes.

The really stacked portion of the show kicked off with Sting vs. Great Muta for the TV Title, a blazing match that's about as good as any 8.5-minute match you'll ever see.  Sting began the bout by diving from one ring to the other on top of Muta.  They crammed everything they could into this, with lots of wild top-rope spots and over-the-rope dives which were unheard of in 1989.  It's too bad they weren't given fifteen minutes to really steal the show.  After Muta accidentally spit mist into Nick Patrick's eyes, the finish was the old back suplex into double-pin spot, where it wasn't clear whose shoulders were down.  Sting was declared the winner but the belt was later held up and Muta won the rematch.  This was a damn fine little match but should've been a MOTY contender.

PLANCHA!  PLANCHA!  PLANCHA!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Face/Off

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com, where I'll examine a movie that is horribly entertaining but also entertainingly horrible.

Today's entry in the series is John Woo's 1997 action thriller, Face/Off



Face/Off stars John Travolta as FBI agent Sean Archer, whose son was killed by his arch-nemesis Castor Troy, a manic, sadistic terrorist played by Nicolas Cage.  Six years later Troy announces to the FBI that there's a bomb hidden somewhere in Los Angeles which could potentially kill millions of people.  The FBI attempts to capture Troy in an ambush but Troy ends up in a coma before they can learn the location of the bomb.  After unsuccessfully interrogating every member of Troy's gang, Archer reluctantly submits to a radical new procedure wherein his face will be removed and replaced with Castor's, allowing him to impersonate his enemy and infiltrate the maximum security prison where Castor's brother/accomplice Pollux is being held.  Archer's subterfuge fools Pollux, who reveals the bomb's location, but before Archer can arrange his release from prison, the real Castor Troy emerges from his coma, forces the surgeon to apply Archer's face to his, and then kills everyone who knew about the procedure.  The real Sean Archer is now trapped in prison as Castor Troy, while the real Castor Troy takes over Archer's life.

This is one of the most convoluted premises of any action movie I've ever seen, but somehow the filmmakers managed to pull a pretty entertaining piece of crap out of what probably should've been a disastrous effort.  So let's take a look at what worked and what didn't.



The Awesome

John Travolta & Nic Cage

First and foremost, the two leads do an excellent job in this film of convincing the audience that a) this scenario is at all believable and b) that for most of the film's running time they are each playing the opposite character.  Travolta plays Archer as a spiritually broken man, haunted by the death of his son and consumed with catching the bastard who killed him.  His relationships with his wife and daughter are in shambles and the only thing that will bring him peace is taking Troy down.  Cage plays Troy as a high-wire act - oozing evil charisma and relishing his own depravity. 


When the ol' switcheroo occurs, each actor gets to explore the other character.  Cage as Archer brings an even greater sense of melancholy and develops a rather tender relationship with Troy's girlfriend Sasha (Gina Gershon), while Travolta's Troy rekindles the romance with Archer's wife (Joan Allen), and is actually able to identify with Archer's troubled teenage daughter (Dominique Swain).  He also becomes an FBI hero when he locates and diffuses his own bomb and uses all the Bureau's resources to chase down "Castor Troy."  Both actors are fantastic in both roles and have a lot of fun imitating each other.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

NJPW G1 Special in San Francisco Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another round of NJPW Predictions here at Enuffa.com!  Landon Wayne (of FalconArrowEmporium.blogspot.com) and I are back to sort out the matches and predictions!


In what is now an annual tradition, New Japan will be visiting American soil once again just before the G1 Climax, with a special PPV that airs live on AXS TV and then on-demand on NJPWWorld.com.  The company really stacked their championship fields with gaijin to try and capitalize on the western audience, and with this show taking place at the Cow Palace in San Francisco this will be the largest American event in NJPW history.  Stagnant ticket sales initially stoked fears that the company had tried to expand too fast, but from what I understand the event is mostly sold out now.  Going from a 2300-seat venue last year to a 5000-seater this past March to 10,000 now was certainly ambitious but it looks like they'll be just fine.

Anyway this show is fairly stacked, with five big title matches and some showcase tags.  Let's get to it...



10-Man Tag: Yoshi-Hashi/Gedo/Roppongi 3K vs. Chase Owens/King Haku/Yujiro Takahashi/Guerrillas of Destiny


Oh look at this, father and son teaming together.  What a strange turn of events.  Should be a fun little opening match.  I'm not expecting it to go very long but it'll be a showcase for RPG3K (who are still chasing the Jr. Tag belts). 

Justin: I have a feeling Haku will be super over, so they may give Bullet Club the win here.
Landon: Do we know if Haku is still the linear WCW Hardcore Champion? If not him, who is? Bullet Club





Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.


It's a rematch from Dominion.  This'll be great whenever Ishii is in the ring and silly whenever Yano is.  Ishii vs. Suzuki is still being built as a blood feud and I imagine we'll get to see that at either Destruction or King of Pro-Wrestling, or both. 

Justin: Suzuki-Gun pins Yano again
Landon: MORE. LANDON WANT MORE ISHII SUZUKI. Yano Pins Sabre





Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kushida vs. Hangman Page & Marty Scurll


Shocking to see Tana in such a low undercard spot, but I guess he's got less name recognition than most of the western wrestlers.  This should be another fun tag match.  Kushida and Scurll will have excellent exchanges I'm sure.

Justin: Tana & Kushida get the win
Landon: Fucking weird, but Team WMB wins here


Monday, July 2, 2018

Bob Dylan's "Blonde On Blonde" Revisited

by Michael Drinan
@thesurfacenoise



I was twenty years old when I first listened to the album. Dylan was a name I had heard before but never paid much attention to or gave him a listen. When you grow up in the 90s you don’t feel you need an artist like Dylan in your life because you already have so much to listen to as it is. So, when the 90s faded, along with the great music that came with it, I figured it was time to dive into the music of the 60s to see what the fuss was all about, and The Beatles and Dylan were the first artists to check out.

As a guide, I used VH1’s list of “100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll” to point me in the right direction. Before you roll your eyes I will tell you that it was and still is the best list on the subject I’ve seen. Sixteen years later and I still find myself agreeing with the albums listed, even though we can always quibble on placement. Of course, The Beatles and Dylan were littered all over it and so it seemed to be the most logical place to start. The Beatles were easy to listen to since my dad had many of their albums. Dylan, I had to go to the music store and buy his albums to hear them.

So, I bought Blonde On Blonde along with Blood On The Tracks, two works that many deem to be his best. I went to my car, popped in Blonde On Blonde and went driving around the back roads of Hampton Roads in Virginia and listened, preparing to be blown away.

I didn’t prepare myself enough. How could anyone?

The first track, “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35” I dismissed as being a playful little jam session where it seemed as if no one knew how to play their instruments. I still sung it out loud because I had heard it before off the Forrest Gump soundtrack. I began settling into the album on the second track “Pledging My Time”, a muddy, bluesy stomper with a soaring harmonica intro. My foot kept tapping, my head bobbing back and forth and my fingers drumming along. I was into it.

The clincher came when “Visions Of Johanna” came on and opened with one of the greatest opening lyrics I’ve ever heard, “Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re trying to be so quiet.” Mother. Fucker. What a line! I was instantly sold, not just on the album but with Dylan himself. I heard he was a great lyricist, the “poet of rock ‘n’ roll”, but you’re never prepared for when you realize it or when you believe it. That lyric was the one that sold me on that notion. He was the greatest lyricist in rock history.