Friday, May 31, 2019

We Are At War: WWF Over The Edge 1998

A brief note. I put the Meltzer Ratings on my PPV throwbacks for a specific reason. I don't worship Meltzer's word as fact, no one should. His opinions are his own and should be taken merely as that, though very respected and widespread, as an opinion. I post the ratings along with my review to give an insight to what people thought of the product at the time, so that you the reader can understand how the standards of today differ to then. Now usually, I don't post the thumbs up/down parts or the best/worst match segments, but...well...

Fucking telling, isn't it?

Shamrock was nowhere on this show.
Over The Edge, May 30th 1998

Legion of Doom 2000 vs Skull and Eight Ball
I honestly didn't pay much attention to this match, but Sunny was hot as always. Hawk no sold a piledriver early, the only man who I'm okay with completely no selling it. But then the bikers got the heat on the LOD, and immediately no one cared. The tag team scene in '98 was historically terrible and it showed here. The Road Warriors should not be having anything other than a Road Warriors Squash. Twin Magic, but Animal says fuck your twin magic with a powerslam for the win.

Meltzer Rating: 1/2*
Did I mention Sunny was hot?

Thursday, May 30, 2019

NXT TakeOver: XXV Preview & Predictions

Another NXT TakeOver special is here, so let's take a look at the card and make some predictions, shall we?

Hard to believe we've arrived at the 25th TakeOver.  NXT continues to be the one part of WWE programming that is always worth seeking out.  While the main roster product is flying apart due to an unsustainable creative infrastructure with zero long-term direction, Triple H and his NXT team keep churning out a simple (in a good way), easy-to-watch show featuring great matches and angles that leave everyone satisfied.  And somehow despite constantly having their talent raided by an increasingly desperate Vince McMahon, NXT always has more talent ready to step up.  TakeOver: New York was an absolutely stellar card that will almost certainly hold up by year's end as the best WWE-produced show of 2019.

But now let's get to current events.  The XXV card looks pretty great too, and will be the first NXT show since NXT London to not immediately precede a main roster PPV.  So for the first time in almost four years the black and gold brand will stand or fall totally on its own.

Matt Riddle vs. Roderick Strong

This match could end up stealing the show.  Matt Riddle finally sold me on his abilities with a fantastic New York showing against Velveteen Dream, and I expect an incredibly crisp, hard-hitting match with Roddy.  Coming off a major loss to Dream I have to think Riddle takes this one to rebuild his mojo and put him back into title contention.

Pick: Riddle

North American Championship: Velveteen Dream vs. Tyler Breeze

I'm very happy Breeze got sent back to NXT; he's too valuable a talent to be wasting away on a main roster that doesn't have anything for him to do.  I can think of several other misused stars who'd benefit from such a move (Gable, Harper, hell, even Banks), so hopefully Hunter is lobbying for them as well.  Dream on the other hand is a prodigy, already a stellar worker at 23 years old and loaded with charisma.  This should be a fine title match.

Pick: I'll go with Dream to retain

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Brewery Reviewery: Battery Steele (Portland, ME)

Welcome to another Brewery Reviewery here at!

Our recent trip to Portland, ME yielded numerous brewery visits, and six of them are clustered in the same industrial park!  After hitting up our old favorite Allagash we noticed that across the street were four more breweries, three in one building.  This right here is God's country.

The first stop in this treasure trove of delicious beverages was Battery Steele, a modest operation producing audacious, complex flavors out of a mostly unfinished warehouse space, where you can smell the fresh wort being created (Just like my kitchen when I brew at home).

Battery Steele Brewing
1 Industrial Way
Units 12/14
Portland, ME 04103

But don't let the barebones appearance fool you, this place has some killer stuff on tap!  We tried all six pours and there was nary a miss to be found.  Check it out, kids...

Flume (Double IPA, 8.0%):  A blend of traditional English malts combined with loads of wheat and oats give this double IPA a soft, clean malt profile. We hop this beer intensely, imparting huge notes of tropical fruit, citrus and pine.

JB: My favorite of Battery Steele's IPAs, this was super juicy and boasted a hint of that smooth weed-esque dankness.  Pretty great stuff.

Onsight #7 (Experimental IPA Series, 7.2%):  This beer combines a simple grain bill of 2-row, oats and wheat with some of our favorite hops. The blend of yeasts creates a pillowy soft, saturated mouthfeel that carries notes of melon, stone fruit, berries and gives way to a resinous, deep citrus finish.

JB: Similar to the Flume but slightly more bitter on the finish.  Quite nice.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

AEW Double or Nothing: The War is On!

By any metric, All Elite Wrestling's inaugural show has to be considered a success.  Double or Nothing featured three pretty great main event-caliber bouts, an entertaining, easy-to-watch undercard, a massive surprise debut, and a simple, no-nonsense, sports-like presentation in front of an eager sold-out crowd.  And it scored on PPV as well, potentially garnering as many as 100,000 buys, as well as 200,000 Google searches.  AEW is the real deal, folks, and it's just getting warmed up.

The main card kicked off with a fast-paced six-man tag, pitting SoCal Uncensored against OWE's Strong Hearts stable.  The action was quick and furious, and all six men got time to be showcased.  The match built to lots of high spots including a Frankie Kazarian hurricanrana from the apron to the floor and a Scorpio Sky dive over the ropes.  Kazarian and Daniels finally ended the match with a Best Meltzer Ever on El Lindaman.  A very enjoyable hot opening match to rev up the crowd.  ***1/4

The second match included a surprise addition, as Awesome Kong made her long-awaited return to the ring, turning the Britt Baker-Kylie Rae-Nyla Rose triple threat into a fatal 4-way.  Kong and Rose had several power clashes during the match, while Baker and Rae provided most of the faster action.  They broke out a Tower of Doom spot late in the match, as Baker and Rae went to superplex Rose but all three were powerbombed by Kong.  The match boiled down to Baker and Rae, who traded strikes and suplexes, and finally Baker scored a superkick and running knee to win the match.  Solid stuff.  **3/4

Two up-and-coming tag teams were showcased next as Best Friends faced Jack Evans and Angelico in a wildly athletic encounter.  Both teams broke out loads of innovative combination moves and the pace kept increasing as they went on, culminating in Best Friends hitting their finisher on Evans for the win.  Post-match both teams were attacked by the debuting Super Smash Brothers (who legally have to change their name) and an entourage of masked henchmen.  This match/segment nicely established AEW's midcard teams.  ***

Friday, May 24, 2019

Pro Wrestling: A Mark's History, part 3 (Earl Screwed Hogan)

By the summer of 1987 I became an avid reader of the WWF Magazine.  There was a grocery store in my town called Iandoli's, and it was the only place I could consistently find said periodical.  Every single month I made sure to accompany my mom on a grocery trip just so I could pick up the newest issue.  The first one I ever bought was the Feb/March '87 issue with Randy Savage on the cover, proudly holding the Intercontinental title.  That Christmas my sister gave me a year's subscription to the magazine, which I renewed every year until 1998.  I still have a massive twelve-year stack of them at my parents' house.

The cover of the first WWF Magazine I ever bought.

My first house show took place on August 1, 1987.  By this time I was very familiar with the local promos they aired on Superstars every week at the end of each segment, advertising the upcoming house show cards.  The Worcester Centrum was the closest arena to me, so I always paid close attention to what matches were coming up in my neck of the woods.  I'm not really sure why I asked my parents to take me to this particular house show, as it was a pretty weak C-show lineup.  Maybe it was just a case of "I've waited long enough to check this out, so let's do this!" My stepfather somewhat reluctantly took me to the show (He had watched wrestling as a kid but unlike me he actually outgrew it.).

Thursday, May 23, 2019

AEW Double or Nothing Preview & Predictions

Hey kids!  It's the first-ever All Elite Wrestling predictions column, here at!

Landon and I are back to discuss and dissect the fledgling promotion's debut PPV (All In wasn't under the AEW banner).  This Saturday is the first official offering from Cody & company's upstart wrestling troupe, and they'll need to hit a homerun to really generate a buzz leading into their TNT series this fall.  I'd hoped to see the AEW championships decided here, but I guess this is more of a showcase to introduce everyone to the various players before determining the hierarchy.  Still this should feature some spectacular matches and hopefully get everyone talking about All Elite Wrestling.  I'm really rooting for this company to succeed and challenge WWE on their creative and business practices; this industry desperately needs a shakeup.

Let's get to it....

Pre-Show Match: Kip Sabian vs. Sammy Guevara

I know nothing about either of these guys, other than Guevara is a former AAA Cruiserweight Champion.  I have to think this match goes on first to warm everyone up and will be a fast-paced, high flying affair.

Justin: I'll go with Sammy G since he's got a cache already
Landon: Guevara

Pre-Show 21-Man Casino Battle Royal

Unlike WWE's Battle Royals there's actually something at stake here, and that's a title shot.  It was announced this week that the winner of this match will face the winner of Omega-Jericho to become the inaugural AEW World Champion.  Kind of an odd way to crown a first champ, but okay.  The rules of this are, the participants will enter in groups of five at set time intervals, based on luck of the draw, with one super-lucky winner getting the final 21st spot.  Thus far none of the announced participants has a snowball's chance in hell of winning this, based on the stakes.  So one of the yet-to-be-announced names has to be takin' this one down.  Adam Page's match with PAC is off, so if they don't give him a substitute opponent he could easily be one of the four.  Other possibilities include Jon Moxley (I gotta think it's a lock he at least appears on this show if nothing else), CM Punk (who is currently booked to announce an MMA show in California that night), and Joey Ryan (who is booked elsewhere as well).  I'm hoping against hope that Punk is the man here but that seems like a longshot.

Justin: I'll go with Jon Moxley to make his surprise AEW debut a la Lex Luger on the first Nitro episode and win the battle royal.
Landon: Jon Moxley

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Brewery Reviewery: Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME)

Welcome to another edition of Brewery Reviewery, here at, where I visit a fine beer-brewing establishment and taste as much of their wares as I can while still remaining upright.

Last weekend the wife and I made a trip to Portland, ME, home of basically every brewery on the planet, and took in a slew of these wonderful places.  My goal is to write about all of them, so here goes....

Our first stop was a venue we've visited before, one of our favorites, Allagash!

Allagash Brewing Company
50 Industrial Way
Portland, ME 04103

Most folks who have heard of this lovely institution (which recently overtook Shipyard as Maine's top-selling brewery) know them for their Belgian White flagship beer, a masterpiece of the genre that has for years held a slot in my all-time top five.  The combination of citrus, cloves and that wonderful banana-esque Belgian yeast is always welcome in my gullet.  I've been a fan of their Tripel, Saison, and Black for a long time as well, but Allagash has branched out quite a bit over the years, always experimenting with new flavors and brewing techniques.  My mission this visit was to try some of their limited and obscure releases.

Coolship La Mure: This blend of spontaneously fermented beer is aged on blackberries. We begin brewing Coolship la Mûre with Pilsner malt, 40% raw wheat, and aged whole-leaf hops. The unfermented wort is then transferred to a large shallow pan called a coolship, which allows the hot wort to mingle with wild yeast and souring microbiota in the Maine air. After fermenting and aging in French oak wine barrels for over two years, we add blackberries and let it rest for an additional five months. The finished beer’s aroma exhibits hints of lime zest and an herbal, berry-like quality. The tart flavor evokes multiple facets of blackberry, including just-ripened fruit and rich, juicy berry.

JB: This unusual brew is very tart with prominent blackberry flavor, similar to a Lambic.  I'm not a big sour beer guy but this was a bold, flavorful example of it.

Darling Ruby: Darling Ruby is a refreshing farmhouse ale with a twist: grapefruit juice and zest. The beer’s specific style is a grisette, a light and refreshing cousin of the modern saison. The combination of a grisette and citrus whirls tangy notes together with tropical aromas—all before landing on a beautifully dry finish. A lively ride from beginning to end.

JB: Ruby is dry and grapefruity, with a slighty bitter finish.  A nice, crisp saison substitute.

Monday, May 20, 2019

WWE Money in the Bank 2019: Seth and AJ Save the Day

Well that show went from a big bag of suckage to a pretty good PPV by the end.  Money in the Bank 2019 often felt like a WCW show, with not much organization, baffling booking choices and a slew of really short matches.  And then all of a sudden it settled into a really good piece of work (with another baffling choice at the end).  What was made clear here is that a) the WWE roster is too big to fit everyone on a PPV, b) there are way too many championships (and another one on the way apparently), and c) Vince is still grasping at straws to make his product hot again.

The show kicked off with the women's Money in the Bank match, and while pretty short, this was a good bit of fun with everyone working hard.  There were a few messy spots and everything came off very rehearsed, but the action was entertaining and sometimes innovative.  Naomi got a few fun spots, like when ladders were coming at her from both sides and she ducked into a split, leaving everyone to crash into each other.  Ember Moon got the biggest pop (aside from the finish) with a spectacular Eclipse from an outside ladder into the ring.  Toward the end, with everyone selling injuries, Mandy Rose's pal Sonya Deville actually picked her up in a fireman's carry and climbed the ladder with Mandy on her shoulders (no small feat).  And just when it looked like Mandy was about to steal the win, Bayley came out of nowhere, glared at both of them, and shoved them off before grabbing the briefcase.  This felt like a big moment and it was great to see them finally throw Bayley a frickin' bone.  And she wasn't even done yet.  This was fun.  ***1/4

Next up was the match that pissed me off again, Samoa Joe vs. Rey Mysterio.  For the second straight PPV these guys got no time at all, though apparently this wasn't planned that way.  Rey hit Joe with a senton that broke Joe's nose (and it was gushing like a broken water main), so they went right to the finish, with Rey countering a powerbomb into a hurricanrana/cradle combination.  Problem was Joe's shoulder was way up after the one-count but the ref counted anyway, clearly to leave Joe with an out.  It was the first of three terrible officiating calls on this show, and I don't know why they're making all the refs look incompetent.  How is this possibly going to pay off in any satisfying way, Shane fires all the referees?  Joe then beat Rey down in front of his kid.  I assume we'll eventually get Joe vs. Dominic?  Is Dom any good?  This match stunk because it was only 90 seconds.  *

Match #3 stunk too, as The Miz and Shane lumbered through an awkward cage match that saw the referee call for a rope break despite cage matches supposedly not allowing rope breaks (I feel like I've seen cage match pin attempts halted by them before).  Miz hit Shane with a Skull Crushing Finale but Shane got his foot on the rope and the announcers claimed it was because the referee was afraid to count the pin on his boss.  But then, why did he count all the other pin attempts?  Both guys ended up on top of the cage, with Shane trying to slide off but Miz going for a superplex.  Shane ended up slipping out of his shirt and falling to the floor to win.  Seriously?  Shane is 2-0 in this feud now?  And we're gonna have to see this match AGAIN?  Fuck this.  This was overly long and boring.  *1/2

Following this shite, we got the Cruiserweight Title match, and as it turned out this absolutely SHOULD have been on the pre-show.  The audience didn't care about it at all, Ariya Daivari looked sloppy, and the match didn't come together until the closing moments.  Tony Nese hit a 450 splash and finished him with a running knee.  They could've left this off the main card to save time.  I will never understand the mentality behind putting a match on a show just to serve as a buffer.  Shouldn't every match feel like it belongs there?  **

Thursday, May 16, 2019

WWE Money in the Bank 2019 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another edition of WWE Predictions, here at!

This Sunday, after an unusual six-week lag between PPVs, WWE is back with Money in the Bank!  I'm not sure why the de facto fifth Big Five show was moved directly after WrestleMania, but whatever, this show actually looks solid on paper.  There's some filler to be sure, but most of the big matches should deliver.  And boy does WWE need to hit a homerun right now.  The ratings have been in the toilet and their creative moves to reinvigorate the fans have reeked of desperation.  Wild Card rule?  Get the fuck outta here with this.

I've been saying it for years, but stop doing scripted promos and let these characters emerge organically, and 90% of your problems would go away.  Oh well, All Elite Wrestling's weekly show on TNT starts in October, and they've already announced that their promos will be genuine.  Man, that's gonna be great.

Anyway, let's get to this overloaded card....

Pre-Show Smackdown Tag Team Championship: Daniel Bryan & Erick Rowan vs. The Usos

Look, I know Bryan's status was up in the air when they put this lineup together, but in what world does it make sense for him to be on the pre-show?  Bump something else to make room, or leave this off the card, no?  If given time this should be quite good, though it makes zero sense for the Usos, who just got moved to RAW, to get this match.  This brand split needs to just end.  Merge the belts and feature the big stars more or less on both shows.  You can have certain guys be on one show more than the other, but the split roster thing isn't working anymore.

Pick: Bryan & Rowan just won these belts so they're not losing 'em yet.

Pre-Show Cruiserweight Championship: Tony Nese vs. Ariya Daivari

Another cruiserweight match that should be good but I'm not invested in it.  Nese is very talented though, and his 'Mania Pre-Show match with Buddy was quite solid.

Pick: Nese retains

Steel Cage Match: The Miz vs. Shane McMahon

Fuckin' hell.  Why is this feud still going?  Why has Shane been featured on every PPV this year?  Why should I believe a cage match will actually keep the action in the ring?  This is one of two matches in which I have zero expectation for anything of quality.  Piss break.

Pick: Miz gets his win back from 'Mania

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Back to the Future, Parts 2 & 3

Welcome one and all to another installment of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at!

Today it's a double-feature, as we dissect the beloved sequels to the 80s adventure/sci-fi/comedy masterpiece Back to the Future.  Yup, I'm probably gonna ruin these two movies for you.  Don't misunderstand me though, I LOVE the Back to the Future trilogy.  It's a classic series that still holds up as a tremendously enjoyable triumvirate of films, and the first one especially is required viewing for anyone who likes fun.  However, when you reaaaaally sit down and think about the second and third movies, they're full of plot holes, tacked-on character motivations, genre cliches, and time-travel paradoxes (given how much dialogue is devoted to this subject, these are kinda hard to forgive completely).

So join me and dip your toes into the pool of overanalysis.  Really, the water's fine!

The Awesome

The Story

Picking up right where the first movie left off, Doc Brown has just returned from the year 2015 (Christ, that's already in the past now!) and urgently needs Marty and Jennifer to go back with him to stop their kids from royally screwing up the McFlys' entire future.  While in 2015 Marty (with the help of the villain Biff Tannen) inadvertently creates a rift that alters the last sixty years in horrible ways.  What follows is a complex adventure that sees our heroes jumping to different eras in the hopes of repairing the damaged timeline.  In the process Doc is accidentally displaced to 1885, and the third film (set in the Old West) sees Marty follow him back in the hopes of preventing his murder at the hands of Biff's ancestor Buford Tannen, so they can both get back to 1985 where they belong.

Wow, that paragraph made these movies sound damn near impossible to follow, but in actuality they're loads of fun and whenever I watch the first movie I have to watch Parts 2 & 3 to complete the experience.  Time travel in general is a fascinating concept around which to build a story, and if you can avoid the obvious loopholes inherent in the genre it usually results in an interesting-at-worst kinda movie.

The Characters

By this point we've grown to love Marty McFly and Doc Brown as protagonists.  They have a wonderful father-son dynamic and are endlessly likable.  Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd clearly had amazing chemistry together and regardless of any script shortcomings we automatically care about what happens to these two characters.

When are we getting these damn hoverboards???

On the flipside, Thomas F. Wilson is perfectly cast as Biff Tannen and his various relatives.  He's a fantastically loathsome bully the audience can enjoy hating, and we relish whatever misfortune happens to befall him.

Mr. Tannen is a Grade-A Douchebag.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Music Review: Babymetal - Metal Resistance

Japanese "idol group" Babymetal is a band whose music should be nowhere near as skillfully crafted or sonically rewarding as it is.  Considering the group was a producer-assembled offshoot of a J-Pop vocal group comprised of 12-year-olds, I was almost ready to dismiss them as a disingenuous corporate creation.  But then I listened to their new album Metal Resistance.  Dammit, this thing's good.

The band's music pays homage to numerous metal bands and subgenres, notably Dream Theater (For backing instrumentalists to play recreate such a complex style is no small feat, incidentally), Sevendust, Slipknot, power metal bands like Helloween, and even some dubstep here and there.  Atop this molten barrage of guitars and drums are the hooky, saccharine melodies of three teenage girls.  These two elements should not mix well at all, but somehow they do.  The album's twelve tracks fly by, containing enough radio-friendly choruses for a Bieber record but enough machine-gun speed metal destruction for the Rockstar Mayhem Festival.  Almost all the lyrics are in Japanese, but don't let that deter you.  The melodies will be stuck in your head for days regardless.

The opener "Road of Resistance" is one of the most driving tracks on the album, assaulting the listener with blast-beats and background death vocals before lead singer Su-Metal jumps in with that sweet melody.  The Helloween influence is felt most strongly on this track.

One of the standouts is the second song "Karate," which features a snaky midtempo nu-metal groove I could easily hear on a Sevendust record.  The chorus is one of the strongest on the album and one of most instantly memorable hooks I've heard in a long time; this is some professional songwriting.

Track 3, "Adawama Fever," is equally hooky but in a more simplistic way.  The vocals dance over a syncopated beat before settling into a goofy but undeniably fun chorus having something to do with bubble gum.  This song is super high-energy.

One major stylistic departure is the piano ballad "No Rain, No Rainbow," which shows off Su-Metal's increasingly self-assured vocals.  For an 18-year-old she can really belt out these tunes and I look forward to hearing what she can do as she matures.  Evidently this one was written a while back but Su-Metal didn't feel comfortable recording it until after she'd extensively performed it live and could emotionally get inside of the song.  The wait paid off; she sings this one like she means it.

The Dream Theater influence is front and center on the late-album song "Tales of the Destinies," a track full of odd meters, start-stop riffs, and numerous time changes.  But then the chorus explodes right out of a Helloween album, the band pounding out impossibly fast riffs while Su-Metal's uplifting chorus melody soars.

My favorite track is the album closer, "The One," which is the only song delivered totally in English.  The lyrics seem crudely written (probably due in part to the translation), but this is an anthemic prog-metal masterpiece that would serve very well as the grand finale to a rock opera.  It's got one of those rare choruses you can hear on a loop and never tire of, and when it eventually fades out to close the album you can't wait to start over again.

Metal Resistance has a little something for everyone who likes loud, energetic music.  It's slickly produced, expertly played heavy metal with some of the most hauntingly catchy hooks you're likely to hear.  The impetus behind this band may have been one of commercialism, but when it comes to creating a deceptively challenging hard rock album with strong re-listen value, Babymetal is the real deal.  This is one of the best albums so far this year.

I give the album **** out of *****

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Pro Wrestling: A Mark's History, part 2 (WrestleMania III Rocks My World)

Welcome back!  Now presenting Part 2 of A Mark's History....

As I said, the first feud in which I had an emotional stake was Savage vs. Steamboat, to the point that watching a Randy Savage promo made me physically angry.  Now I knew from the beginning that wrestling was "fake."  I knew the results were predetermined and that the guys weren't really trying to hurt each other.  However, I bought into Steamboat's throat injury completely.  I thought Savage had actually crushed Steamboat's larynx, and in my eleven-year-old mind the vignettes they showed of Steamboat going through therapy to regain his voice were indisputable proof.

The next angle that really got my blood boiling was when referee Danny Davis screwed the British Bulldogs out of the Tag Team Championship.  Very shortly after I started watching in the fall of '86, the Bulldogs became my favorite team.  One Saturday in January of '87 the Bulldogs were scheduled to wrestle the Hart Foundation - a heel team but one I had started to enjoy, mostly due to Bret Hart's quite obvious wrestling ability (I didn't know much at that age but on some level I recognized a good worker when I saw one.).  My reluctant fondness for the Harts evaporated very quickly however when Davis's atrocious officiating caused the Bulldogs to lose the straps.  I remember thinking, "There's no way this decision can stand."  Sadly this was the first time I encountered the old "referee's-decision-is-final" bit, and I was highly pissed.  The following week, WWF President Jack Tunney (who I thought was legitimately the head of the company - it wasn't until about a year later that I learned play-by-play commentator Vince McMahon was the real owner, which blew my mind) angrily announced that Davis was "suspended for life."  I actually stood up and cheered at this.  True, swift justice!

You sir, are pure scum!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Pro Wrestling: A Mark's History, Part 1 (How I Became a Wrestling Nerd)

Howdy!  Welcome to the first chapter of Pro Wrestling: A Mark's History!   Over the weeks and months (or however long I end up doing this) I’ll be publishing an ongoing memoir of my nearly three decades of wrestling fandom.

For this entry I’ll start by talking about how and why I became hooked on this bizarre phenomenon involving grown-ass men putting on tights and pretending to beat each other up.

Yup, I blame this stupid cartoon

It was just before my 11th birthday in 1986 that I officially became a wrestling fan.  All it took was one 60-minute episode of the syndicated Saturday morning WWF show to suck me in beyond all reason.  However it took me about four years to arrive there. 

I guess my first exposure to wrestling would've been going to see Rocky III, which of course featured Hulk Hogan in the famous "wrestler vs. boxer" scene.  Being only seven at the time, I found this sequence rather strange and confusing.  My stepfather, with whom I saw the film, explained to me that pro wrestling was nothing but simulated combat.  As is the case for many non-fans my first reaction was, "Well who'd want to watch fake fighting?"

Skip ahead a few years and Hulk Hogan popped up again, this time on his Saturday morning cartoon show, Hulk Hogan's Rock & Wrestling.  A terrible show to be sure, but 9-year-old me became enthralled with the characters of Hogan, Superfly Snuka, Roddy Piper, etc.  I still hadn't seen a single wrestling match, as the cartoon really had nothing to do with the in-ring product.  But it was the comic booky characters that drew me in.  Couple this with the release of the LJN line of WWF Wrestling Superstars toys, and it was the coolest thing since He-Man.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Top Five Films of the Year: 2007

Hell of a film year, 2007.  A lot of good-to-great films scattered about the whole calendar year, and Oscar season was one of the strongest in recent memory with some truly original stuff.

5. Juno

Jason Reitman scored big with his sophomore effort, about a brainy teenage girl who finds herself pregnant and decides to give the baby up for adoption.  Ellen Page put herself on the map with her performance as Juno, delivering screenwriter Diablo Cody's quirky nerdspeak convincingly and naturally.  Not many actresses would be able to make this dialogue work, but Page weaves it right into the character so we're able to identify with her.  The film is full of wonderful and engaging supporting performances, such as J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney as Juno's father and stepmother.  Both characters are gruff and brutally frank but still supportive and loving, and it's refreshing to see such realistic parent characters in a film.  Their relationship with Juno is just as you'd expect a healthy one to be under the circumstances.  The other two major characters are the intended adoptive parents, played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner.  Garner's character is played as slightly neurotic and uptight, while Bateman's cool charisma and affinity for alternative rock naturally draws Juno to him.  As the film wears on the dynamic between her and the adoptive parents changes very unexpectedly.  Juno is a splendid mix of quirky comedy and light drama - a real triumph for Reitman and co.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Parents' Night In #19: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Kelly & Justin enjoy some Barrel House Z and Newport Storm craft beer and watch Justin's favorite action movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark!  Sit back, crack open a delicious beverage, and reminisce about this action-adventure classic!

Don't forget to Like and Subscribe!  Join us on Twitter, Facebook and MeWe!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Top Five Films of the Year: 2006

Welcome to another installment of our Top Five Films of the Year series, where I recap my picks for the best movies of a given calendar year.  Today we're talking about 2006 a rather sparsely populated year for really great films.  There wasn't much of value in terms of popcorn movies that year (Superman Returns and X-Men: The Last Stand for example felt okay at the time but didn't age well), but Oscar bait season provided some quality films.  Here are five of them.

5. Children of Men

Alfonso Cuaron's stark adaptation of the 1992 sci-fi novel takes place in a dystopian future Great Britain, where humanity is facing an infertility crisis.  It's been 18 years since a human baby was born, and society has begun to break down, with political groups waging war on each other, almost every government in the world having fallen to chaos, and Britain having turned into a police state.  A former activist named Theo (Clive Owen) is tasked by his ex-wife and her allies with escorting a pregnant refugee to the coast so she can meet up with scientists in Portugal and aid them in finding an infertility cure.  Along the way Theo and his friends are ambushed and betrayed, and the film becomes a taut race for survival.  Cuaron makes incredible use of long, unbroken shots in a few of the action sequences, giving them a wholly unique feel and plunging us right into the bedlam.  Clive Owen makes a splendidly flawed, unlikely hero, while Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine supply memorable supporting performances.  Children of Men touches on themes of immigration policy, religious faith, and redemption, while exploring a fascinatingly thoughtful science fiction premise.

4. Rocky Balboa

Well this wasn't supposed to happen.  The sixth entry in the dead-horse Rocky franchise should never have been even watchable, let alone one of the best in the series.  But Sylvester Stallone managed to wash off the foul stink of the wretched Rocky V and present a completely worthy conclusion to the saga.  While this film doesn't totally ignore the events of V (Rocky is still back to his working-class roots), it picks up the story years later after Adrian has died (Stallone famously explained the decision to kill her off by citing how much of a drag her character had become).  Rocky now owns a successful Italian restaurant and has settled into a comfortable (albeit lonely) retirement, until an ESPN dream fight simulator pits Balboa against the current heavyweight boxing champion Mason Dixon, piquing the public's interest in seeing the matchup for real (inspired by George Foreman's unlikely comeback in the 90s).  Rocky eventually agrees to the exhibition fight and we wander into familiar territory, complete with the classic Training Montage.  As with the first Rocky film however, this movie is not really about the fight, but rather focuses on the characters.  Rocky has seemingly lost his sense of purpose after Adrian's death and spends much of his energy mourning her, while her regretful brother Paulie is anxious to leave that part of his life behind ("Stop talking 'bout yesterday, Rock! Yesterday wasn't so great!").  Rocky develops a relationship of sorts with Marie, a girl he used to know from the old neighborhood, and in growing close with her and her son Rocky begins to really live again.  I had no expectations of enjoying this film.  The idea of picking up the Rocky series again after 17 years seemed totally absurd, but to his credit Stallone rediscovered what made these movies work in the first place and crafted an excellent final chapter (until the equally excellent spinoff Creed showed up that is) that rivals the original.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2019 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another round of PPV Predictions, here at!

This Friday and Saturday are the annual NJPW Wrestling Dontaku two-night event, one that should have Dominion implications!  As always there are multiple tag matches making up most of the lineups, with a few major bouts headlining.  So we'll preview the really important stuff.  Let's get to it.

Night 1

Kota Ibushi & RPG3K vs. Tetsuya Naito, Bushi & Shingo Takagi

This match is taking place on both nights so we'll pick winners for both bouts here.  Whole lotta talent in this match and both incarnations should be high energy AF.  Ibushi is either moving on from his Naito feud after this or they'll have a rematch at Dominion, I'm not sure which.  Either way they always deliver when they're together, maybe too well for either's safety.  I'm gonna say the two teams split these two matches.

Justin: Team Ibushi wins the first night, LIJ wins the second
Landon: LIJ

Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Evil & Sanada

The IWGP Champ and his stout buddy Ishii deliver a preview of their respective Night 2 singles matches against Naito's two senior henchmen.  This should be an excellent tag match to build to the second night.  I'll go with LIJ to win here.

Justin: LIJ
Landon: Magic Killer to Ishii

NEVER Openweight Championship: Jeff Cobb vs. Taichi


Oh good, New Japan's answer to Baron Corbin (the crappy worker no one likes who keeps getting big matches) challenges the new NEVER champ.  I'm not expecting much out of this, but maybe Cobb will carry him through a good outing.  Cobb just won the belt so he pretty much has to retain here.

Justin: Cobb retains
Landon: Cobb retains so I can meet him with both titles in a week.