Wednesday, March 27, 2019

WWE Smackdown: Why Asuka Should Go To AEW

Remember when WWE would announce a big match for WrestleMania and your anticipation would build as the big day got closer?  Good times, right?  Whatever happened to that idea?

WWE Photo

I resisted the urge to begin this article with the phrase "fuck this company," so as to not sound as genuinely angry as I am.  Last night, in an effort to further load up a WrestleMania main event that didn't need further loading, Vince decided to throw out the planned Fatal 4-Way to determine a #1 Contender to Asuka's Smackdown Women's Title and just had Asuka defend against Charlotte, with no buildup whatsoever.  Oh, and she lost.  So now Ronda-Becky-Charlotte involves both Women's champions for no reason, and Asuka has nothing to do at WrestleMania.  Isn't that just fuckin' peachy.

Look, I realize Asuka's planned title defense at 'Mania wasn't going to be a featured match.  Hell, it probably would've been bumped to the pre-show, on a PPV with 17 matches.  That's fine.  It still would've been an easy, dominant title defense that would've made her look strong and she could've moved on to a better opponent later.  Now she's just one of the girls who wasn't important enough to have a real match and she'll presumably be stuck in the ever-pointless pre-show battle royal, that will be won by a comedy act anyway.  Fuck this company.  See?  There it is.

Monday, March 25, 2019

NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 Top Ten Matches

Image result for new japan cup 2019

The New Japan Cup is in the history books and we got the result most of us were expecting.  Kazuchika Okada will challenge Jay White at Madison Square Garden for the IWGP Title.  This tourney boasted the biggest field of all time, with 32 men vying for this historic opportunity.  Overall it was a very enjoyable tour, with loads of restaurant-quality matches and some unexpected twists along the way, plus some refreshing new faces.  I won't go into detail about every match, but I've narrowed down what I feel were the ten best entries, in chronological order.  Okada is represented in four of these matches, which for me unequivocally makes him the tourney MVP.

1. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yuji Nagata (March 8th) - ****1/4

These two grizzled bastards beat the piss out of each other and it was glorious.  What a way to kick off this tournament.

2. Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin (March 9th) - ****1/4

While not the best match these guys have had together, this was an excellent showing that left welts on Okada's chest for the duration of the tourney.

3. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shota Umino (March 10th) - ****

This Shota Umino kid has it, man.  He's gonna be a major player someday.  What a gallant performance in standing toe-to-toe with the icon Tanahashi.  From a pure storytelling standpoint this was one of the best matches of the tour.

Movies of Disbelief: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Welcome to another installment of Movies of Disbelief, here at, where I examine one aspect of an otherwise okay or even a great film and discuss why it sticks in my craw.

Today's subject is one of my favorite movies of all time, ALL TIME.  It's the action film I hold above all other action films, and the one that solidified Harrison Ford as my first childhood hero.  I'm talkin' about Raiders of the Lost Ark!

The brainchild of George Lucas, Raiders was conceived around the same time as the original Star Wars, with Lucas paying homage to the adventure and sci-fi serials he enjoyed as a kid.  Both ideas began to flourish simultaneously but he set aside the earthbound action-adventure one and concentrated on what would become the most enduring sci-fi/fantasy franchise of all time.  Once Star Wars became the phenomenon it did, Lucas then turned to his other big idea, revealing it to his buddy Steven Spielberg after Steve suggested he'd like to direct a James Bond film.  Lucas replied, "I've got something better - The Adventures of Indiana Smith!"  After Lucas finished describing the concept in detail, Spielberg said he was all-in except for the name.  Lucas then suggested "Indiana Jones," and history was made.

Raiders of the Lost Ark was a masterful swashbuckler, chock full of iconic action set pieces and led by an equally iconic lead performance from Ford, whom Lucas initially wasn't even considering for the role, fearing that the actor-director pairing would be the popcorn version of Deniro-Scorsese.  Tom Selleck was eventually chosen as the world-traveling archaeologist, but ran into scheduling issues due to his Magnum PI commitments, and Spielberg again suggested Ford.  Had it not been for Magnum we'd have ended up with a very different movie.

Mustachioed Jones

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Great PPVs: WrestleMania X

Welcome to another edition of The Great PPVs, here at and!

Today I'll be revisiting another classic WrestleMania PPV, specifically the apex of the New Generation era, WrestleMania X!

'Mania 10 was the first WrestleMania I ever ordered on PPV (I'd gone to see WM5 on closed-circuit TV), and also the first WWF PPV in a while that I was urgently stoked for.  At the time I was a huge Lex Luger fan (yeah I know), and had been following his main event babyface push intently.  Vince was for several months banking on Luger becoming the next Hulk Hogan, repackaging him as an all-American hero, feuding him against the monstrous WWF Champion Yokozuna, and giving him a countout win in the main event of SummerSlam '93.  I was disappointed that he'd failed to capture the belt that night, but figured it was all building to a rematch at WrestleMania.  When Luger and Bret Hart became co-winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble (something that's never happened before or since), I thought, "This is his time, it's gonna happen!"  Due to the double winner, it was announced that Yokozuna would defend the title against one Rumble winner, and the second would face the champ later in the show.  I was sure Luger would finally unseat Yoko and then successfully defend against Bret in the main event, a match I was beyond excited to see.

Little did I know that the fans overall just weren't that into Luger as the top guy, and it was Bret who'd captured their attention and affection.  WrestleMania X would be a transformative show for me; as my childlike fascination with the already past-his-prime Luger would begin to fade, and my new appreciation for the company's two best workhorses, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, was just beginning.  Bret was one of those wrestlers I liked a lot, but he was never my favorite guy.  When he beat Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental Title in 1991 I was a little bummed because I liked Perfect better.  When he upset Ric Flair for the WWF Title I was excited at the company's new direction, but was sad that Randy Savage was no longer the focus.  By late 1993 I was all aboard the Lex Express, and Bret was probably my third-favorite babyface, after Lex and The Undertaker.  Meanwhile Shawn had caught my attention with great performances at Survivor Series 1992 and 1993 (both against Bret, coincidentally).

Bret had just begun a feud against his brother Owen, which I figured would occupy him for months and thus he wouldn't regain the title just yet.  After a coin flip that determined Luger as the first challenger, Bret would face Owen before getting his own title shot.  This was another match I couldn't wait to see, and I expected a classic.

The other bout of interest was Shawn Michaels challenging Intercontinental Champ Razor Ramon, which was changed to a Ladder Match shortly before 'Mania.  My only familiarity with Ladder Matches at this point were a pretty terrible Dusty Rhodes-Tully Blanchard match in 1985 and a disappointing Bret-Shawn bout that took place in 1992.  Thus my initial reaction to this announcement was "Dude, whyyyy??"  Keeping with this show's apparent theme of defying my expectations, the Ladder Match would prove me wrong in a profound way.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Brewery Reviewery: Cape Cod Beer (Hyannis, MA)

Welcome to another installment of Brewery Reviewery, here at, where I visit a local purveyor of craft beer, sample some flavors, and report back.  This past weekend I hit up Cape Cod Beer in Hyannis, MA, where no fewer than 15 beers were up for the tasting, plus a whole lot of other local goings-on.

Cape Cod Beer
1336 Phinneys Lane
Hyannis, MA 02601

The tasting room is located in part of their warehouse building, behind the retail store (which offers take-home growlers, cans and official Cape Cod Beer merch).  In addition to beer pours there was a slew of local vendors peddling their wares, from specialty salts to hot sauces to crafts.  The brewery also features a pop-up kitchen with rich & tasty comfort food.

In terms of beer options, Cape Cod lets you either order full-pint pours or go with a flight of five beers.  I started with the latter before settling on a favorite.  Here's the rundown:

Narrow Lands NEIPA: Soft malt character and little-to-no yeast character, juicy, double dry-hopped New England IPA is easy-drinking with a crisp, clean base that allows the hops to shine through.  Double dry-hopped with Citra and Mosaic, this easy-drinking beer has the bright fruit notes of grapefruit, guava, mango and orange rind.  The hops give this beer another level of thirst-quenching bite that is still soft and mellow.  Clean mouthfeel, juicy hops and a crisp-dry finish.  ABV: 5.9%

JB: This New England-style IPA was a little less citrusy than I could've wished, but it was balanced and pleasant, and easy to drink.  I've recently become obsessed with NEIPAs so I go out of my way to try new ones whenever I can.  This one was alright.

Big Sea Saison: Big Sea Saison is a single-hopped farmhouse ale that features Sorachi Ace, a hop that was originally developed in Japan.  This hop is cultivated from the famed Brewer's Gold and Saaz hops and is known for its lemony flavor.  The beer has a bright citrus overtone matched with an effervescent, dry finish.  ABV: 5.25%

JB: I'm a big fan of saisons and this was one of the standouts of the day, with a good mix of citrus flavor and a bit of spice.  I ended up buying a couple four-packs of this, both because I really enjoyed it and because as a seasonal offering it was 50% off.  Lovely stuff, this one.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Movie Review: Captain Marvel v. Internet Trolls

Sorry trolls, Captain Marvel is not only a hugely successful female-led blockbuster, but it's a pretty darn good one at that.

Marvel's latest entry in the decade-plus MCU centers around Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), an Air Force pilot whose DNA gets supercharged during a mission gone wrong, transforming her into a galactic ubermensche.  As part of the Kree Starforce, Vers as she is now called helps police the universe under the tutelage of Yon-Rogg (an austere Jude Law), waging war against a race of shapeshifters known as the Skrulls.  Only problem is Vers begins having flashbacks to her previous life and feels a compulsion to learn what she's seemingly forgotten.

Captain Marvel refreshingly turns the idea of the origin story on its ear by presenting Vers' past as a mystery to be uncovered; she and the audience glean information about her past together, making the presentation much more engaging than your average superhero origin.  Amid some James Bond-esque action set pieces with a sci-fi tinge, information about our lead character is doled out gradually, while she simultaneously builds a rapport with her new ally Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson in a spry variation of the grizzled character).  Vers finds herself on Earth in the mid-1990s, hoping to locate a prototype light-speed travel device before the Skrulls find it, and the film provides lots of 90s-themed easter eggs, like grunge references and a scene in an internet cafe (remember dial-up?).

My Favorite WrestleMania Moment

by Dan Moore

Over the years, WWE’s biggest event has given its fans tons of moments that are forever implanted in your brain as truly memorable and awesome. Hogan slamming Andre the Giant. The Macho Man parading Miss Elizabeth on his shoulders in a victory march. Stone Cold bleeding his face off against the Hitman. Shawn Michaels ending the iconic career of the Nature Boy with the words "I'm Sorry. I Love You." And then of course this.

18 seconds

Sheamus decimating Daniel Bryan in double the time it takes me to find a rubber (Just kidding, I don’t use those, who am I, Justin? Or Derek even?!?!?). But that’s not my favorite moment. No, my favorite moment was this.

Right at the count of three, this is the moment before he screamed,

That right there, friends, is Justin Ballard filled with rage as his hero D-Bryan was pinned. This man loves wrestling (in case you can’t tell by the ENDLESS wrestling columns). He has his favorites but man oh man they were all trumped by the scrappy bearded fellow from Oregon (Editor's Note: It's Washington, fuckface). He was so looking forward to this matchup. And it was over before he sat down from taking a leak.

The sheer joy his absolute misery gave us that day is immeasurable. Much like the screams of children fueled the creatures of Monsters, Inc, the tears of this man filled me with enough energy to move mountains that day. It gave me unexplainable joy. Food tasted better. The air seemed fresher. I had more energy and self-confidence than I ever dreamed of.

To this day, I’m SHOCKED he didn’t throw us all out of his house the second this happened. We needled him endlessly all night and each time you could see the red flickering light of anger grow bigger as the vein in his head almost exploded with rage. Easily the greatest WrestleMania memory of my life.

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Monday, March 11, 2019

WWE Fastlane 2019: Roman Gets Cheered, Kofi Gets Buried

Fastlane 2019 started life as a Vince Russo-esque calamity of a PPV and ended up being an okay show by the end.  Despite numerous nonsensical booking decisions that have accelerated in recent months amid WWE's ratings desperation, there was enough good wrestling here to save the show and give it a passing grade.  The first third of the PPV was bad, the second third was okay, and the final third achieved "good."

The show opened with the Usos-MizMahon rematch, which was probably a step up from their previous efforts.  Still, Shane really needs to quit it; he was once again out of breath and purple after not much activity.  The big spot came late in the bout, when Shane was about to go for a coast-to-coast dropkick on Jey but Jimmy climbed the opposite turnbuckle, intending to hit a big splash on the Miz.  Both men jumped simultaneously and Shane ended up dropkicking Jimmy midair, but unfortunately the timing was a bit off and Shane hit Jimmy's knees.  Still the spot got a good reaction.  Miz then went for a frog splash on Jey, who got his knees up and cradled Miz for the win.  Post-match, Shane turned on Miz and beat the piss out of him in front of his father, who turned in one of the worst performances I've ever seen on a wrestling show.  Surely if a father were watching someone beat up his son in real life he'd react, right?  Show some hint of being upset?  Maybe jump the rail and try to help?  Nope.  Miz's dad just sat there like a deer in headlights and didn't go over to help his son until after Shane had left.  This angle was pretty terrible.  Is anyone legitimately interested in Shane vs. Miz, by the way?  Anyway the match gets ***.

After an interminably long lull involving Elias and various commercials, the show finally got going again with Asuka vs. Mandy Rose, a more or less nothing match that went six minutes and ended with Sonya Deville grabbing a kendo stick from under the ring but leaving the apron all bunched up under the ropes.  Mandy bounced off the ropes and slipped on the apron, stumbling right into an Asuka kick for the pin.  Why Asuka should even need a banana peel spot to beat Mandy is beyond me.  Mandy and Sonya then teased a breakup as they walked to the back.  Can we for Chrissake give Asuka a real WrestleMania opponent?  Maybe call up Kairi Sane?  This match wasn't good.  *1/2

Music Review: Gary Clark Jr. - This Land (2019)

by Mike Drinan

There are artists that you know are great, you can hear flashes of it, but for whatever reason they just don’t have that great or classic album in their catalogue. I felt that way for years about the Foo Fighters until they released 2011’s Wasting Light. Even Beyonce didn’t prove it to me until she released Lemonade, an album that I think needs to be in my life.

Gary Clark Jr. was that kind of artist for me ever since I heard his 2010 Bright Lights EP. There were flashes of brilliance, great songs and a guitar playing mastery that had many anointing him as the next great blues guitarist to carry the torch of the genre from...whoever it was that came before him. The problem was that it never coalesced into a great album. His first two albums sounded flat and disjointed, never coming close to the energy and the guitar mojo of his live performances. Maybe he was trying too hard to be the next great blues artist? I don’t know, but the albums weren’t working and there didn’t seem to be much of “him” coming through the songs.

That all changed this past Friday when he dropped his third studio album, This Land, and completely changed the course of his career. To put it plainly, this album kicks fucking ass and is the album I’ve been hoping for from him. There’s not one element to this album that can be pointed to that makes it so good. He’s pissed, worried, sad, in love, excited, energized and teeming with regret. Contrary to his previous work, it all comes through at a volume of eleven.

The record kicks off with the title track, a synth heavy blues track with a hip hop delivery that boils with rage, detailing racist experiences at his home in Austin, Texas. This anger quickly culminates with the lyric “We don't want, we don't want your kind, We think you's a dog born, Fuck you, I’m America’s son, This is where I come from”. Yeah, you didn’t hear any of that on his other two albums.

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Dive Bars of America: The Cellar Tavern (Abington, MA)

by Dan Moore

This column features some of the greatest and grossest dive bars in the U.S. of A. I’ll be using a rating system between 1 and 4 handlebar mustaches, which is the preferred mustache by 9 out of 10 old timers in dive bars.

The Cellar Tavern
221 North Avenue
Abington, MA 02351

Thar she blows.  It's an actual cellar.  Under someone's home.  With an old timey truck thereabouts.

I recently moved even more south than the south shore, and have been looking for a dark place to wet my whistle. And lo and behold, this beautiful basement arrived on the horizon. The Cellar has a long bar that’s also combined with a horseshoe shaped part. It’s got a buncha tables for your eating and boozing pleasures too.

Fun Factor: This place is a drunkard’s heaven. They do all kinds of specials during the week. Like a ladies night on Thursdays with raffles and half-priced food.  It’s got the requisite Keno, dart boards abound, a killer juke box and Yahtzee for grownups. Throw a few bucks around and who knows, maybe you’ll walk outta here with enough cash to buy some Advil for your next hangover because…

Booze Choices: ARE DIRT CHEAP. My dear lord. You saddle up to this stick with 20 bucks, and you are going home in a body bag. Ice cold Bud Light drafts are 2 bucks and they have a myriad of cheap mixed drinks all over the place. If you had a bad day at your shitty job (and all jobs are shitty unless you’re a porn star or 3rd string NFL quarterback), this is the place to drown your sorrows.

Delicious & cheap. Just like me.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 Preview & Predictions

We're on the cusp of the biggest New Japan Cup in history, with a whopping 32 participants, the winner getting a shot at the IWGP Championship at G1 Supercard on April 6th.  Usually the winner gets the title match at Sakura Genesis, but the instant sellout Madison Square Garden show has replaced that on the NJPW calendar, and thus we're looking at the highest-stakes New Japan Cup tournament ever assembled.  But who's walking away with the Cup?  Let's take a look at the field.

1. Yuji Nagata
2. Tomohiro Ishii
3. Tomoaki Honma
4. Taichi
5. Manabu Nakanishi
6. Yoshi-Hashi
7. Chase Owens
8. Juice Robinson
9. Kazuchika Okada
10. Michael Elgin
11. Mikey Nicholls
12. Hikuleo
13. Will Ospreay
14. Bad Luck Fale
15. Toa Henare
16. Lance Archer
17. Hiroshi Tanahashi
18. Shota Umino
19. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
20. Ryusuke Taguchi
21. Kota Ibushi
22. Tetsuya Naito
23. Evil
24. Zack Sabre Jr.
25. Togi Makabe
26. Colt Cabana
27. Toru Yano
28. Davey Boy Smith Jr.
29. Satoshi Kojima
30. Minoru Suzuki
31. Hirooki Goto
32. Sanada

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

WWE Fastlane 2019 Preview & Predictions

We've reached our final PPV Predictions piece for the 2018-2019 season, so get ready to kick into high gear on the Road to WrestleMania, because it's time to rev up your engines in the FASTLANE!!!  God what a stupid name for a PPV...

Anyway, this show is strangely not stacked, like an old In Your House show from the 90s.  But there's some potentially very enjoyable stuff on tap here, including a one-last-time Shield reunion, a big women's rematch with WrestleMania implications, and the one I'm excited about, a dream match of ROH alumni (Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't recall ever seeing Danielson vs. Steen back in the day).  This should be the second consecutive WWE PPV to go less than 3-1/2 hours, which is always refreshing these days.

Let's get to it.

***Heading into the final PPV of the season I'm ahead with 69% (88/127), Landon's next with 66% (84/127), and the Moore boys are tied with 65% (83/127).***

Pre-Show: Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade

Okay, this is fucked that these guys are on the pre-show.  This is I think the fourth televised singles match of this feud and deserves to be on the main card.  They'd better at least be building to a 'Mania match that'll get a good spot, because Rey and Andrade tear it up every time.  I'll go with Andrade to win here, setting up their big rematch.

Justin: Andrade
Dan: Rey
Landon: Andrade
Dave: Andrade

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. Shane McMahon & The Miz

Ugh, this again.  Their match at Chamber was fine, if forgettable, but Shane desperately needs to stop trying to do this shit.  He looks winded, sweaty and purple halfway through every match and seems hell-bent on dying in the ring.  Stop it.  Shane vs. Miz is obviously happening at 'Mania so they're not winning the belts back.  This is the beginning of the end for MizMahon.

Justin: Usos retain
Dan: Twinsies
Landon: Usos
Dave: Usos, but let this be it with this feud.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

RIP King Kong Bundy, plus WWE's Booking Mess

Another wrestling legend has left us, as King Kong Bundy passed away yesterday at the age of 61.  I first became aware of the 450-pound monster heel in 1986 or so; I'd started watching the Hulk Hogan cartoon on Saturday mornings but hadn't crossed over to the actual wrestling product yet.  But flipping through the TV Guide one day I saw an ad for Saturday Night's Main Event, which promoted a King Kong Bundy match.  No picture of the guy though.  Being a fan of the film King Kong, the name immediately caught my attention and I began to try to picture what a wrestler named after The Eighth Wonder of the World (a moniker applied to Kong way before Andre) would look like.  A few months later I caught my first glimpse of the bald behemoth and instantly found him terrifying.  Just a giant wall of humanity with a shaved head and missing eyebrows, whose two big moves both involved squashing an opponent under his massive girth.  I soon learned that Bundy had challenged Hulk Hogan (my favorite at the time) for the WWF Title in a steel cage at the second WrestleMania and went out of my way to find that match.  As an eleven-year-old I loved it - an easily digestible ten-minute titanic struggle inside a blue bar cage.  Bundy was certainly no in-ring workhorse, but his fearsome appearance and stature made him a credible monster, plus he could cut a fine promo.  His "five-count" gimmick was a clever way to get over his physical dominance as well; in all his squash matches he'd hit his Avalanche finisher (think the Stinger Splash but with twice as much weight behind it), and insist the referee count to five instead of three for the pinfall.  His run at the top of the WWF was relatively brief, but King Kong Bundy was always one of my favorite superheavyweight heels of the 80s, who could always be booked as a major threat to our babyface champions. 

RIP King Kong Bundy (1957-2019)

Friday, March 1, 2019

The Great PPVs: WrestleMania III

What's up folks?  Time for a new weekly feature called The Great PPVs, where I revisit a wrestling show that captured the imagination and carved out a place for itself in the annals of the business.

This being the first installment I thought I'd start at the beginning.  Or more precisely, at the beginning of my time as a wrestling fan.  I started watching this pretend sport in November of 1986 (after having been sucked into the characters and pageantry via the Hulk Hogan's Rock n' Wrestling cartoon).  The first three major angles I was privy to as a fan were Randy Savage trying to crush Ricky Steamboat's neck with the ring bell (for which I absolutely HATED Savage at the time), referee Danny Davis screwing the British Bulldogs out of the Tag Team Titles (for which I absolutely LOATHED Davis), and Andre the Giant turning against his best friend Hulk Hogan, challenging him to a WWF Title match (for which I absolutely REVILED Andre).

Around the same time the WWF had been showing ads for something called WrestleMania III.  I was like, "What's that, some sort of convention?  And when were WrestleMania 1 and 2??"  Then when Andre challenged Hogan to a match at WrestleMania it all fell into place.  "Oooooh, WrestleMania III is like a special wrestling show."  I didn't yet grasp the concept of PPV, so this was all new to me.

Those three aforementioned angles, along with the retirement of Roddy Piper, would form the backbone of the WrestleMania card, a lineup so magnanimous it could only be held in the massive, 90,000-seat Pontiac Silverdome.  To help build the main event, the main draw for this monumental PPV, the WWF touted Andre's seeming imperviousness; he had not, according to the WWF, ever been defeated in a wrestling ring (in fact he had lost a couple matches outside the WWF), nor even body slammed (even a cursory knowledge of wrestling history of course disproved that factoid - Hogan himself had slammed Andre only seven years earlier).  They also booked a special battle royal on Saturday Night's Main Event a few weeks before 'Mania, where Andre eliminated Hogan before being tossed out by numerous other wrestlers.  The WWF Magazine published a Tale of the Tape, claiming Andre was 7'5", 520 pounds to Hogan's 6'8", 294 pounds (down from his usual billed weight of 303 - nice touch).  All signs pointed to the four-year WWF Champion's time being up.  There was no way he could beat the unbeatable.