Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Wrestling Do-Overs: The Invasion Angle, part 8 (No Mercy 2001)

Kurt Angle gets caught in the middle of the Steve Austin-Hollywood Hogan feud as we head toward No Mercy 2001....

To read this series from the beginning, click HERE

RAW after Unforgiven

RAW opens with Vince in the ring, mic in hand, Kurt Angle at his side.  He starts to say something about Kurt Angle being a fair and impartial referee at Unforgiven but is immediately interrupted by Austin's music.  Austin storms down to the ring and yanks the mic out of Vince's hand.  "Vince, I ain't in the mood for your crap, so piss off, I got nothin' to say to your stupid ass.  I'm here to deal with this lump of garbage you call a fair and impartial referee."  Vince exits the ring and watches from ringside.  Austin berates Angle for not keeping control of the match, Angle keeps saying "I was doing my job."  Austin says to Vince, "You know damn well I'm not through stompin' a mudhole in Hogan's ass, but I want a piece of your suck-up Kurt Angle too.  At No Mercy it's Hogan-Angle-Austin for the WWF Title.  Make the damn match, because Stone Cold said so!"  Vince hesitantly slides back in, Austin hands him the mic.  "Fine Steve.  At No Mercy it will indeed be Hogan vs. Angle vs. Austin, for the WWF Title.  You two resolve your issues however you need to, but above all, one of you needs to win back that championship!  I'll personally put up one million dollars to whichever of you defeats Hogan and brings the WWF Championship home."  Angle shakes Vince's hand, then Austin shakes it, only to lay him out with a kick/Stunner combo.  Angle takes a powder and Austin walks up the ramp as the show goes to break.

Later in the show Hogan (with Booker, Bischoff and others) cuts a promo about The Alliance's continued dominance.  "Booker T made good on his promise last night, jack!  He regained his WCW Title from that Hollywood Hack, The Rock!  And guess what, I'm still the wrestling god.  I'm still the WWF Champion, brother!  But I hafta give a shout-out to the one WWFer I kinda like, Christian, who was Johnny-on-the-spot in my match once he saw Crooked Kurt Angle's officiating.  He was having none of it, and he stuck his neck out to see justice done, man!  Ya know somethin' Uncle Eric?  Booker?  I think we should throw young Christian a bone and give him a match, tonight, for your US Championship!  Now that you're the six-time WCW Champion, how 'bout you give an up-and-coming superstar an opportunity at greatness?"  Bischoff smiles and Booker nods.  "Ya know, Hollywood, I can dig THAT, SUCKAAAA!"

In the main event Booker faces Christian for the US Title.  They lock up and exchange some basic wrestling holds, but then suddenly Christian does a feeble rollup and Booker exaggeratedly waves his legs to kick out but can't.  Christian wins the US Title.  Booker stands up as the referee awards Christian the belt, and they hug.  Bischoff from ringside throws Booker a T-shirt, and Booker unrolls it, revealing a WCW logo, and presents it to Christian, who proudly puts it on.  Christian is the newest Alliance member.  Backstage an enraged Edge trashes the locker room as RAW fades to black.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Parents' Night In #33: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Time to be Quentin Quarantino'd with Justin & Kelly as we watch Tarantino's latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, with Margot Robbie as 60s icon Sharon Tate.  We love the 1960s anyway, and this film transported us to that era, just before Woodstock, when the country was about to be shattered by the Charles Manson murders.  OUATIH is the story of aging Western TV star Rick Dalton, trying to regain relevance in an era where he feels out of place.  We'll talk about Tarantino and his films, the controversy surrounding Robbie's sparse dialogue, the Bruce Lee scene, over-the-top violence, TV and movie westerns, and more!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Wrestling Do-Overs: The Invasion Angle, part 7 (Unforgiven 2001)

SummerSlam 2001 left the WWF reeling as The Alliance captured the top championship.....

To read this series from the beginning, click HERE

RAW After SummerSlam

RAW opens with the entire Alliance assembled in and around the ring.  Bischoff has the mic and he's standing next to Hogan, who's got the WWF Title around his waist.  "I told you!  I told all of you!  I told you at SummerSlam this man, the wrestling god, the Immortal Hollywood Hogan, would stomp all over your little Rattlesnake and win the WWF Title!  None of you believed me, but I told you!"  Hogan holds up the belt as the crowd boos like crazy.  Hogan takes the mic.  "Last night the WCW-ECW Alliance reigned supreme, Jack!  Oh sure we had a few setbacks.  Booker T, you had a rough night, brother.  But don't worry, you're still the US Champion and soon enough you'll send Dwayne back to LA and become the..."  Booker says it with him.  "Six time! Six time! Six time! Six time! Six time! Six time! WCW Champion!"  Hogan continues, "Lance, Bubba and D-Von, Sting, RVD and Goldberg all showed those WWF hacks how it's done, and last but not least, we have a new saying around these parts: Hogan 3:16 says 'I just killed your Rattlesnake.'"  Bischoff and Hogan share an obnoxious laugh.  Bischoff takes over: "Since we pounded the crap out of your WWF roster and left your company in ruins, we're gonna take a well-deserved night off and go party like only the Alliance can.  Enjoy your second-rate wrestling show, folks!"  The Alliance exit up the ramp as the show goes to commercial.

Back from break and Vince goes into the WWF locker room and orders the whole roster out to the ringside area.  They all come out, and Vince and his top guys are in the ring.  Austin is missing.  Vince takes the mic.  "I'm gonna say this quite frankly, guys.  WCW kicked our ass last night.  They made us look stupid.  And now they're off partying while we're trying to put the pieces back together.  I'm embarrassed, for both you and myself.  Dammit, you sons of bitches, get mad!  Rock, you hit 'em where it hurts, you're the new WCW Champion!  You're our shining beacon!  Wait, where's Steve?....Why isn't Steve out here?....In the back, anyone seen Steve?..."  A cameraman backstage runs toward a commotion and suddenly on the Titantron we see Austin interrogating an arena staff member.  "Where are they stayin', ya piece of crap?  Where's Hogan's hotel??"  "I don't know, I told you!"  Austin throws him to the ground and heads for the exit.  "I'm gonna comb this whole damn city for those pieces of trash!"  Vince yells after Austin, "No Steve, this isn't the right way!"  Austin ignores him and leaves the building, dragging a cameraman with him as we go to break.

Wrestling Do-Overs: The Invasion Angle, part 6 (SummerSlam 2001)

The Invasion PPV has dire consequences, and SummerSlam promises several epic WWF vs. WCW matches......

To read this series from the beginning, click HERE

RAW after Invasion

RAW begins with Eric Bischoff, Paul Heyman and the entire Alliance in the ring.  Bischoff gloats about winning the first battle at Invasion.  Rob Van Dam now holds both the Intercontinental and Hardcore Championships, and henceforth the Hardcore Title is no more.  "The Hardcore Title is for glorified stunt men like Mick Foley, not accomplished athletes like Rob Van Dam!"  Lance Storm captured the European Title from Matt Hardy, and The Dudley Boyz retained the WWF Tag Titles, meaning The Alliance now controls every WWF Championship but one.  "And the man who holds that Title, Steve Austin, got pinned in the middle of this ring by our fearless leader, The Immortal Hollywood Hogan!"  Hogan steps forward and laughs arrogantly before hugging Bischoff.  Hogan takes the mic and cuts a promo on Austin, saying Austin and his pathetic Team WWF couldn't get the job done and Team WCW made short work of those losers.  "As I recall there's a big PPV coming up in August called SummerSlam - just one of many WWF PPVs the Hulkster built.  Austin if you have any guts at all you'll give Hollywood Hogan a shot at that piece of tin on your shoulder, and I'll show you what a real WWF Champion looks like!"

The show goes to commercial just after JR announces that Vince McMahon and the WWF roster has not yet arrived in the building and he doesn't know what's been planned for tonight's show.

After the break, Heyman has returned to the announce table while Bischoff is still in the ring, with the Alliance surrounding it on the outside.  "Since Mr. McMahon and his band of losers still hasn't shown up to this arena, the WCW/ECW Alliance will be running RAW tonight.  And since The Alliance loves beating up losers, you're about to see a few of our guys tune up by squashing a handful of nobodies we found at the local bingo hall.  First up is your brand new European Champion, Lance Storm!"

Storm makes short work of a local jobber, submitting him with the single-leg Boston crab in just under two minutes.

"Wow, what an amazing athlete Lance is!  We are blessed to have him on the WCW roster!  Okay, next up it's one of the premier tag teams in wrestling today, Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon!"

DDP & Kanyon kill two local jobbers.

"I know, it's incredible to watch DDP and Kanyon work, isn't it?  You're lookin' at the next WCW Tag Champs right here.  Anyway, you all might wanna sit down for this one.  Right now you're gonna be treated to a rare free television match from the premier Champion in this business today, the five-time WCW Champion, Booker T!!!!"

Booker begins squashing a jobber when a handheld camera shot appears over the Titantron.  JR and Heyman are in disbelief as a familiar voice bellows over the PA system.  "Booker T!  Oh Booker T?  Before you finish beating up on that jabroni I though you'd like to get a look at your opponent for SummerSlam.  Four weeks from now you'll be putting the WCW Title on the line against...." the camera pans over and it's The Rock! "...the trailblazing, eyebrow raising, jabroni-beatin', pie-eatin', best in the present, future and past, and if ya don't like it, YOU CAN KISS THE ROCK'S ASS!!"  The crowd erupts as Booker watches the Titantron in a state of shock.  The jobber comes up behind Booker and rolls him up for a three count, and Booker loses it, nailing the jobber with three axe kicks.  Suddenly the WWF roster storms the ring and the two rosters get into a wild brawl.  JR says, "My God, this is utter chaos!  Don't go anywhere, Monday Night Raw will be right back!"

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Wrestling Do-Overs: The Invasion Angle, part 5 (Invasion PPV)

We've reached the first official in-ring appearances of Team WCW.

To read this series from the beginning, click HERE

RAW After King of the Ring

Vince comes out and says that after watching Kurt Angle beat his son to within an inch of his life at King of the Ring, he's come to realize how important it is to protect what he holds dear.  That means both his family and the company he built.  Since the end of March, the WWF has been under attack, and he's watched his employees suffer repeatedly at the hands of a bunch of lawless hooligans.  But when he watched his son Shane take the worst beating of his life to protect the family business, that lit a fire under him, and now the line is drawn in the sand.  The WWF will not stand for this any longer.  "Eric Bischoff, you want a war?  In four weeks there will be a WWF PPV event, and if you and your band of pirates have the cojones to show up, you'll get a war!  We'll call the event....INVASION!!"

It's announced that Chris Benoit suffered an injury during the Triple Threat match and its aftermath, and will be out indefinitely (real-life neck injury), but Chris Jericho has asked for a one-on-one Title match with Steve Austin tonight!

Undertaker and Kane will enact their Tag Title rematch clause next week against The Dudley Boyz, after Sting appeared and cost them the belts.

Edge has a coronation segment after winning the King of the Ring tournament, and Christian shows signs of jealousy, teasing a breakup.

Austin vs. Jericho is the main event.  The two have an excellent 15-minute match free of interference, and Austin counters a Lionsault and hits the Stunner to retain.  As he's celebrating, Bischoff appears on the Titantron.  "Congrats on another win Steve.  Tell your boss Vince that I accept his challenge at Invasion.  Whaddya say we each put together a five-man team for the main event of that show?  You pick your four best WWF pals, and I'll assemble my WCW contingent.  Let's see, we have WCW Champion Booker T, Goldberg, Ric Flair, Sting......I guess that leaves one spot open.  I wonder if we can find one more guy....."  Bischoff says to someone off-screen, "What do you think?"  The camera pans over and it's Hollywood Hulk Hogan!  "Uncle Eric, I think I'm wide open on July 22nd.  I will see you at Invasion!"

The announcers go bananas as RAW goes off the air.

The Next Week

Vince announces the members of Team WWF at Invasion.  It will be the WWF Champion Steve Austin leading the team of Triple H, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, and The Big Show!

Jim's Mock 2020 NFL Draft: Goin' Local

Our colleague Jim Fitch is back after a long absence, and he's here to talk football!

Hi all, and welcome to my contribution to the endless flood of 1st-round mocks, which you are likely already tired of.

Full List of 2020 Ravens NFL Draft Picks

This one should, hopefully, be kind of fun, though. Two of the (few) upsides of the COVID-19 pandemic are time to read, and time to write. And I loves me some football reading. So what I have done for this mock is a bit different: I have read, and watched, and listened to, as much local and team-specific football journalism I can possibly consume. And, as one does, I have come to love some, to like some, and to dislike some. And for every team, I have a new local favourite source.

For each pick, I will share that new local favourite source with you. And then I will pick exactly who that source tells me to pick, providing of course that the player is still available. If that source has selected a trade, I will make that trade, but only if a local source covering the other team that I like (not necessarily my new local favourite, but a good source) has proposed the same trade for first-round purposes). If the player selected by my new favourite local source has already been drafted, though, I will make a selection for that team myself.

Okay, then: with all of that junk out of the way, let’s step to the socially-distanced podium. The Bengals are on the clock.


The local source: The Cincinnati Enquirer Bengals Beat Podcast.  Available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeart Radio – all of the usual suspects. It’s really fun. Try it out.

Their pick: QB Joe Burrow, LSU.

Is the player available?: this is the first pick.

The pick: QB Joe Burrow, LSU. And absolutely no one is surprised.


The local source: Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post. The Post has lots of strong football columns, and they do not all agree on what ought to happen with this pick. I am going with Brewer here, because I just love his writing style.

His pick:

Is the player available?: Yup.

The pick: EDGE Chase Young, OSU. I would trade down. Young is utterly incredible; his ceiling comparison is, not kidding, Michael Strahan. But this team is swiss cheese, and also has a youthful defensive line featuring multiple first-round picks. It’s nice to have an embarrassment of riches at a key unit, but not if every other part of your team, you know, sucks?


The local source: Chris Burke, Lions columnist for The Athletic (subscription-only): over a decade of national experience at ESPN, Motown native, data out the wazoo, and eminently readable.

His pick: TRADE: Miami receives 2020 1st (3rd overall); Detroit receives 2020 1st (5th overall), 2020 2nd (39th overall).

Can a quality Miami local source trade partner be found? Yes. Mike Tanier, Dolphins columnist for the Bleacher Report makes the identical trade here: Both Burke and Tanier also select the same players at 3 and at 5, too, which makes this easier for yours truly.

The pick: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama. Without tanking.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Parents' Night In #32: The Godfather (1972), Francis Ford Coppola's Masterpiece

Kelly & Justin are back to discuss the greatest of all gangster films, Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece The Godfather.  We'll cover Kelly's legitimate shock upon learning halfway through that Michael was played by Al Pacino (Nope, not kidding), the recurring harbinger of doom in the form of oranges, Mo Green's outRAGEous Boston accent, how Virgil Solozzo became known as The Turk, and Kelly invents a new form of dance.  Get cozy on that couch and hang out with the PNI gang!

Subscribe to our channel and click the Notification bell to stay updated on future episodes, and don't forget to visit, follow us on Twitter (@EnuffaDotCom), join us on Facebook and Google+ (search "EnuffaDotCom")!

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Brewery Reviewery: Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co. (Newport, RI)

Welcome to another Brewery Reviewery, here at!  I love beer and I love going to the places where they make the beer.  And then I like to write about the places where they make the beer that I love.  This past weekend on our annual trip to Newport, RI I headed over to one of the first breweries I'd ever visited, Newport Storm!

Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co.
293 JT Connell Hwy
Newport, RI 02840

Newport Storm (which now falls under the combined banner of Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co.) was founded in 1999 by a group of friends who had all majored in chemistry, and for years served as the state's only brewery.  They eventually expanded into distilled spirits as well, now offering whiskey, rum, gin, amaro and moonshine.  Their tasting room offers all that, plus a variety of their signature beers, as well as guided (or self-guided) tours around the facility.  The tasting room was always an inviting spot, and recent updates like improved seating and board games have made it even cozier.  I'm not a spirits guy, so I went with a beer flight; of the six options on tap a flight includes four 4 oz. pours for nine bucks, plus if you hold onto your tasting card and present it at Brick Alley Restaurant & Pub (an ever-popular Newport spot) they'll give you a Newport Storm beer on the house with the purchase of an entree.  Can't go wrong there.

Anyway, let's get to the brewskies.  In addition to the four I sampled in the tasting room I purchased two others for take-home enjoyment, and of course cashed in my tasting card at Brick Alley for another....

Thursday, April 16, 2020

RIP Howard Finkel (1950-2020)

Legendary WWF/WWE ring announcer and Hall of Famer Howard Finkel has passed away after several years of worsening health problems.  Finkel was for decades the voice of the company, serving as the primary ring announcer from the late 1970s until the early 2000s.  When I started watching wrestling in 1986, Finkel's unique, throaty delivery immediately caught my ear, and to this day when I think of how a ring announcer should sound, The Fink's voice is what springs to mind (Sorry, Michael Buffer).  By contrast the NWA's ring announcer at the time Tom Miller had a stilted quality to his delivery, while I always found his successor Gary Cappetta's voice too nasal and thin for that role.  But Fink's voice had a grandeur about it.  No matter how inconsequential the match, when Fink got up there and announced the participants, it felt like a big deal.  And when there was a title change, whoa baby.  "Your winner, ladies and gentlemen......and NEEEEEWWWWW World Wrestling Federation Champiunnn...."  There was no one like him in that role and there never will be again.

Howard Finkel is also credited with coming up with the name WrestleMania.  Yeah, no big deal.  Finkel named the biggest and longest-running PPV event in wrestling history, what of it?  It's only the most universally recognized event name ever, and it came from this little balding man with a huge voice.  I seriously hope he and his family continue to get massive royalty checks for that in perpetuity.

Howard Finkel's contributions to the wrestling industry were significant and lasting.  He and his signature ring announcing will forever be missed.  Godspeed to the greatest ring announcer of all time.

RIP Howard Finkel, 1950-2020 

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Movies of Disbelief: It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Before I get started, let me preface this by saying I love It's a Wonderful Life.  Absolutely love it.  It's one of my top ten all-time favorite films, I've loved it since I was about nine years old, my wife and I watch it every year at Christmastime without fail.  I adore this film.

Released in 1946, It's a Wonderful Life was Frank Capra's favorite of all his movies.  The story of the downtrodden everyman George Bailey (in THE performance of Jimmy Stewart's career), who is visited in his most desperate hour by a guardian angel, was based on a short story called The Greatest Gift, written on a Christmas card by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1939 and published in 1944.  RKO Pictures optioned the film rights and went through three screeplay drafts before deciding not to move forward with the project, and sold the whole kit n' kaboodle (plus the three drafts) to Frank Capra's Liberty Pictures for a cool ten grand, exactly what they paid for it in the first place.

Capra fleshed out this simple fantasy parable into a 130-minute dramedic masterpiece, about a small-town fellow who is unselfish to a fault, having spent so much of his life helping everyone around him he has become disillusioned and discouraged, ultimately neglecting his own dreams.  George Bailey had planned from an early age on becoming a successful architect and builder, hoping to design skyscrapers and bridges, travel the world, and be someone of great importance.  But circumstances being what they are, George never leaves his hometown, instead inheriting his father's Building & Loan business and spending decades trying to save the townspeople from financial ruin at the hands of Bedford Falls' evil tycoon Mr. Potter.  When George's business faces collapse itself, George contemplates suicide, but is visited by his guardian angel Clarence, who shows George just how important he's been to everyone in his life.  Realizing his desperation was a shortsighted mistake, George rushes home to his family and friends, and all is well.

George Bailey is a greater man than most of us will ever be....

Monday, April 13, 2020

Movies of Disbelief: Rounders (1998)

I love poker.  It's one of the greatest games ever invented; a unique mix of skill, lying, reading people, and just plain luck.  No other game meshes these aspects together like poker, and no poker variation is as pure and elegant as Texas Hold 'Em.  And no movie is as responsible for popularizing Texas Hold 'Em as Rounders.

Released in 1998 and starring Matt Damon, Edward Norton and John Malkovich, Rounders tells the story of a prodigious poker player named Mike McDermott who loses his entire bankroll one night and vows never to return to the table.  That is until his best friend Worm gets out of jail and essentially drags him back into the seedy New York poker underworld.  Mike and Worm then find themselves desperately trying to win $15,000 in just a few days to avoid being killed by loan sharks, and Mike rediscovers what made him fall in love with the game to begin with.

Rounders is a riveting, taut thriller but also a darkly comic, eminently quotable cult film about following our passions and staying true to what we are.  It also features one of the least plausible scenes of all goddamn time.

About halfway through the film Mike's live-in girlfriend and fellow law student Jo discovers that Mike has broken his promise to stay away from gambling, and while he's out, she packs up all her shit and moves out of their apartment.  Mike comes home to find Jo's things gone, and is quite frankly neither surprised nor all that visibly upset.  He and Worm then drive to Atlantic City for a night of poker shenanigans and it's just like old times.

"Rolled up Aces over Kings....."

Soon after this, Mike is seen alone in his apartment watching an old World Series of Poker VHS tape, when his friend and fellow gambler Petra (an unreal sexy Famke Janssen) shows up to talk to him about Worm.  Petra works at one of their regular poker clubs, and she informs Mike that Worm has run up thousands in debt, in Mike's name.  Then this exotic, statuesque Eastern European bombshell, who gushes like a school girl whenever Mike is around, begins kissing Mike and asks to stay.  Ya know, so they can touch each other in a very impure manner.  Probably multiple times.  Whichever way Mike fancies.  Instead, Mike awkwardly pulls away and says he'll see her soon, and she leaves.

"So uh, Mike? You gonna just sit there moping or are we gonna do a good piece a-bidness?"

Now look, assholes, I can buy all the over-the-top poker showdowns, I can buy the montage where Mike and Worm play high-stakes games at places like country clubs, cigar bars and even what appears to be a Greek sandwich shop, I can buy Worm totally fucking up Mike's shit at the State Troopers' game with super-obvious deck stacking that anyone who's ever laid eyes on a playing card could spot, hell, I can even buy John Malkovich's outRAGEous Russian accent.  What I can't, and WON'T swallow is a handsome young fella whose girlfriend has just hit the bricks turning down a wild night of horizontal mattress bingo with Famke fucking Janssen.  It would never happen.  In any realistic universe the second she starts kissing him, that apartment is pure bedlam.  What few possessions he has left would be strewn about the floor, out the window, probably shoved up his ace-hole (Heh, get it?).  There's zero chance he'd let her do any less to him than ANYTHING SHE WANTS.  I'm sorry Michael, you're simply not a believable character anymore.  Quite frankly I hope Teddy KGB takes every red cent you own.

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Friday, April 10, 2020

Movies of Disbelief: Superman Returns (2006)

Our new feature Movies of Disbelief will focus on one unforgivable aspect of a movie that already has a lotta problems.  Because why not?

Ah, the much-maligned Superman Returns.  Bryan Singer's 2006 attempt to relaunch the Richard Donner Superman franchise was the amalgamated end-result of multiple aborted projects (including the infamously unfilmed Nicolas Cage version) and ended up costing an absurd $250 million all told.  Starring Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, and newcomer Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel himself (in an admirable performance that more or less channels Christopher Reeve's), Superman Returns takes place five years after Superman II, when Kal-El, umm......comes back to Earth after investigating a supposed Krypton sighting.  The sighting turned out to be nothing, making Supes' entire disappearance no more than a half-assed, unimaginative plot device (Jeezus guys, come up with SOME valid reason for him to be missing, will ya?), and Superman gets back to saving people and thwarting Lex Luthor's evil schemes. The film opened to much fanfare, but left audiences and critics pretty cold.  The bloated 154-minute running time, the rather languid pace, and an excruciating subplot involving Lois's son who may or may not be the product of Kal's SuperSeed (Spoiler alert: He's Superman's kid. We all know from the start he's Superman's kid. That this film is at all coy about it is one of its biggest and stupidest issues.) all contributed to Superman Returns' lackluster box office performance, and the intended sequel was scrapped.

But look, regardless of whether Superman Returns was a sprawling mess (It was), or whether it was a cheap, soft reboot of the Christopher Reeve series (Again, it was), or whether it was still light years better than Man of Steel (Yup, it was), there's one thing we can all agree on, and it's what I'm here today to talk about....

Lex setting up shop on Mordor...

Superman Returns ultimately centers around yet another real estate-based plot hatched by Lex Luthor, to grow a new continent in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, declare himself the owner of said landmass, and charge people truckloads of money to buy property on Lexarctica or LexAmerica or Lexstralia or whatever the hell he planned to call it.  To that end he makes a trip to Superman's Fortress of Solitude, steals a bunch of Kal's magical Kryptonian crystals (the ones that power his big alien computer console), and launches one crystal wrapped in Kryptonite (Real nice, a "humans only" rental policy - fuckin' racist...) into the ocean.  This film establishes (from something that I guess was implied in the 1978 movie) that these Kryptonian crystals grow like a Chia Pet on PCP when submerged in water, and one crystal shot into the ocean floor sprouts a massive, arid, gray continent.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Ultimate Dream WrestleMania, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our Ultimate Dream WrestleMania!  Night 1 has already been heralded as an all-time classic PPV (I believe Dave Meltzer gave both Flair vs. Bryan and Savage vs. Punk five stars), and we're only halfway through the festivities.  Strap yourselves in and enjoy the second half!


Edge & Christian vs. The Midnight Express

We open with a blazing tag team matchup, as Jim Cornette's legendary Midnight Express takes on the team that "reeks of awesomeness."  This is your classic seesaw matchup, as neither team is able to maintain an advantage for very long.  The tandem offense is plentiful and dizzying, and the referee has trouble keeping just two men in at a time.  Halfway through, the Midnights exploit a distraction allowing Cornette to wallop Christian with his tennis racket, and they take control.  After several minutes of abuse, Christian tags Edge and all hell breaks loose, with all four men in the ring at once.  At the fourteen-minute mark the Midnights set Christian up for the Veg-O-Matic, but Edge pushes Bobby Eaton off the top rope and nails the Implant DDT on Stan Lane for the win.

Eddie Guerrero vs. Owen Hart

Two of the most beloved heels in wrestling history face off next, in a bout likely to be rife with cheating.  Hair-pulling, tights-hooking, rope-holding, it's all there.  Eddie sets a fast pace early on but Owen eventually slows it down to gain an advantage.  After eleven minutes Owen accidentally knocks down the official, Eddie grabs a chair and tosses it to Owen, and feigns being hit.  The referee questions Owen about using the chair and Eddie rolls him up for a close two-count.  Owen kicks out and snares an airtight small package for the three.

Triple H vs. Killer Kowalski

It's Mentor vs. Student as the monstrous Killer Kowalski faces his greatest protege, Triple H.  This match would be a contrast of styles as Kowalski tries to brawl while Hunter isolates a leg to negate his size disadvantage.  In the closing minutes Kowalski catches Hunter with the dreaded claw hold and nearly gets a submission before Hunter lurches for the ropes.  The referee pushes Kowalski away but he charges at Hunter, who catches him with a Harley Race high knee, followed by the Pedigree for the win at 8:40.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Ultimate Dream WrestleMania, Part 1

Welcome to a special presentation - The Ultimate Dream WrestleMania!

I've presented a few WWE vs. NJPW dream cards which can be read HEREHERE, HERE and HERE, but I thought I'd put together an ultimate fantasy WrestleMania card using stars of the past and present, and including a bevy of dream matches we all wanted to see but never got to.  The one self-imposed rule for this show was every match had to be something we'll never see in a wrestling ring (minus one partial exception in Part 2).  Also for the purposes of this piece, assume every competitor is in his respective prime years.

For a show of this magnitude, a) the only appropriate venue is The Pontiac Silverdome as it looked in 1987, and b) the lineup is so huge it would take place over two nights (and this column will be in two parts)!  Nearly 100,000 fans would pack this majestic stadium (TWICE!) in anticipation of twenty of the greatest and most colossal bouts in the history of our sport (Thanks Tony!).

At the commentary table is Good Ol' JR and Jesse Ventura, and the ring announcer is of course Howard Finkel.

Let's take you to the action!


Anderson & Blanchard vs. The Hardy Boyz

It's the quintessential flashy aerial babyface team vs. the rugged, no-frills veteran heels.  The Hardy Boyz would dominate the early going with tandem offense and impossibly quick tags, keeping their slower opponents off-balance.  But after several minutes Arn and Tully would find an underhanded tactic to turn the tide, isolating Jeff and working to destroy his legs.  Jeff would fight valiantly, finally tagging in Matt, and all hell would break loose.  After twelve minutes The Hardyz would hit the Twist of Fate/Swanton combo on Tully, but a distracted official would miss Arn coming off the top rope with an elbow on Jeff and rolling Tully on top of him.  The sneak attack would be good for three.

Lex Luger vs. The Ultimate Warrior

This power vs. power match would be succinct and intense.  Luger would try to counter the Warrior's ferocity with a more measured approach, slowing the pace and working the back to soften it up for the Torture Rack.  Warrior meanwhile would attempt to pummel Luger into oblivion and go for a quick finish.  After eight minutes, Warrior would escape the Rack, bouncing off the ropes with a devastating flying tackle.  Luger would regain his feet only to be leveled with a second, and a third.  Luger would stumble back up and walk into a gorilla press/big splash combination, giving Warrior the duke.

Randy Orton vs. Mr. Perfect

Possibly the two cagiest participants in this whole extravaganza are Mr. Perfect and "The Viper," both of whom would start this match very cautiously, each prepared for the other to use the most devious of maneuvers.  Orton would find a break early on and work over Perfect's head and neck with his methodical, sadistic attack.  Perfect would rally late in the match with a faster-paced assault.  After eleven minutes Perfect would take advantage of a missed Orton dropkick and hook on the PerfectPlex, but Orton would knee him in the face with his free leg, twist his body, and level Perfect with a game-winning RKO Outta Nowhere!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

WWE WrestleMania 36 Night 2 Recap & Review

Welcome back to this two-part WrestleMania 36 review.  Night Two was another very mixed show, I would say a step down from Night One overall, as it only featured one really noteworthy match and more baffling booking/time management decisions.  Check out Part 1 HERE.

Things kicked off with Rhea Ripley defending the NXT Title against Charlotte Flair.  They got twenty minutes to put together a really physical, intense match, and they made the best of it.  Ripley hit the Riptide two minutes in but Charlotte kicked out, and a little while later Charlotte took out Ripley's knee and worked it relentlessly.  Ripley sold the knee really well and settled into an underdog babyface role as a result.  She made the babyface comeback toward the end, hitting a top-rope dropkick and her reverse cloverleaf, but Charlotte escaped.  After some good nearfalls, Charlotte locked in the Figure Four and then bridged up, and Ripley tapped.  Just like with Asuka two years ago, WWE dropped the ball on having a hot new star defeat the Queen at WrestleMania.  I will never understand why Vince is the enemy of creating new stars.  Now was the time to push Ripley to the moon.  She has everything you could want in a wrestling star - youth, a fantastic look, charisma, and strong in-ring ability.  Where's the problem?  I get that Flair's presence on NXT will ostensibly improve ratings, but why does she need the title to do this?  Sure, Ripley can chase her and win it back at a TakeOver, but once again you've shown everyone that the new kid isn't as good as the woman who wins all the time.  Make new stars, dipshit; it's the lifeblood of your business.  All that said, this was easily the match of the night, and for my money the second-best match of the weekend.  ****

They followed it up with a solid little match in Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley.  These guys only got seven minutes but the match was filled with action.  Early on Lashley hit an overhead throw on the floor, but Black made a comeback and after a failed first attempt, finally hit an Ibushi moonsault to the floor.  Lashley was about to go for the Dominator but Lana demanded a spear for some reason.  Lashley bounced off the ropes for a spear but ran into Black Mass for the pin.  As Black celebrated, Lashley shot Lana a dirty look for screwing up his match.  This was decent.  **3/4

Monday, April 6, 2020

WWE WrestleMania 36 Night 1 Recap & Review

Well, as expected that was a different sorta WrestleMania.  Like basically every edition it had its ups and downs, but fortunately this review is mostly positive.  (Check out Night 2 HERE)

Number 36 is in the books and it was definitely a mixed results-type show.  The lack of live crowd certainly hurt the overall vibe but everyone worked hard to negate the effects of the room silence; one side effect that was often entertaining was being able to hear the wrestlers trash-talk during each match.  My biggest complaint is that on both nights the final two matches were either underwhelming or just plain stupid.  Why Vince thinks a top championship match going under five minutes is acceptable at WrestleMania, I'm sure I don't know.  But we'll get to that.  Let's review Night 1....

After a pretty entertaining 4-minute pre-show match pitting Cesaro against Drew Gulak (I'd like to see more of this pairing with 12 minutes to work with), the proper show began with the Womens' Tag Titles.  Asuka & Kairi Sane faced Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross, in a pretty well-worked match that just went too long.  In front of a crowd this 15-minute match might not have worn out its welcome, but here it ended up dragging a bit by the end.  Asuka came off great in this empty-arena environment though, taunting her opponents for much of the bout.  She's so good in this heel role.  The Kabuki Warriors dominated much of the bout, but in the end the babyfaces hit a Cross neckbreaker/Twisted Bliss combination on Kairi to regain the belts.  I'd have liked to see Asuka and Kairi hold onto the straps for a full year or so, but six months is a solid reign.  This was a fun opener that just went about three minutes too long.  ***

The match I was least looking forward to was next, as Elias faced everyone's favorite reason to change the channel, Baron Corbin.  After an angle on Smackdown where Corbin knocked Elias off the camera perch to the concrete floor, they teased Elias not being able to wrestle.  But of course Elias came out, not selling anything, bashed Corbin with his guitar, and the match was underway.  This ended up an okay 9-minute TV match but nothing more.  Corbin dominated a lot of the action but after a rope-assisted pin attempt that failed, Corbin got rolled up by Elias (with a handful of tights) for the three.  Well it was inoffensive at least....  *1/2

The most baffling match placement of either night was next as Becky Lynch defended against Shayna Baszler.  How this went on third and only got eight-and-a-half minutes is beyond me.  This was pretty much all action as they traded strikes and submission attempts back and forth.  Becky at one point hit a uranagi on the apron which looked great.  The match ended when Becky went for Disarm-her but Shayna reversed into the choke.  Becky refused to submit and did the Bret Hart-Steve Austin spot where she rolled backward to pin Shayna and retain.  A year into Becky's title reign this was the wrong move, Shayna should've won here.  But I assume we'll see a rematch given the fluky finish.  One of a few booking decisions that didn't make sense to me, but a solid if underwhelming match.  ***1/4

Thursday, April 2, 2020

WWE WrestleMania 36 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to a very weird round of WWE Predictions here at!  Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during this pandemic.  Take every opportunity to thank and appreciate our healthcare workers and all the other essential employees who still have to go in.

Well, this year's WrestleMania went from very underwhelming to just bizarre.  Instead of one 7-hour broadcast we're getting two nights of it.  No word about which matches will be on which night, which is pretty inexcusible given the next point.  Instead of a live broadcast the PPV was taped last week over two days.  Instead of a packed stadium the venue will be the Performance Center and a few other closed locations.  This show is going to be unique, probably in all the wrong ways.  WWE would've been well-advised to simply postpone WrestleMania until the summer.  But then if they didn't stop Over the Edge 1999 when one of their wrestlers died in the ring, why would a little thing like a global pandemic slow them down?

Anyway, this lineup is a smorgasbord of random stuff.  Some of it has a lot of potential, some of it has none.  One of the main events is off, since Roman Reigns opted not to participate given his compromised immune system.  Good thing Vince sacrificed Bray Wyatt to Goldberg just so Roman could beat him, huh?  This right here is what happens when you book only for right now and not for the future.  So we have yet another 'Mania whose top matches are dominated by old guys and part-timers, but on the plus side there's no Triple H match for the first time since 2007.

But enough ballyhoo, let's get to the predictions....

Dolph Ziggler vs. Otis

Who thought this match was WrestleMania-worthy?  I know these two are feuding, but how about a tag match at least?  Ziggler and Roode vs. Heavy Machinery?  Hello?  Why is this feud important enough for a singles match on the biggest show of the year?  But, ya know, nothing for Shinsuke Nakamura or Cesaro...  Boy do I not care about this.

Pick: Otis I guess.  Who gives a shit?

Elias vs. Baron Corbin

Speaking of matches I don't give a shit about, what in god's name is this doing here?  Yeah, let's pit the two worst wrestlers in the company against each other at WrestleMania.  What could go wrong?  Is anyone tuning in for this match?

Pick: Elias?  This match will have no effect on the universe whatsoever.

Women's Tag Team Championship: Kabuki Warriors vs. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross

Not sure what happened to Beth Phoenix and Natalya, who were supposed to be in this match as well.  I'd much rather see those two challenge here than Alexa and Nikki.  This should be decent given how good Asuka and Kairi are.  I fear they'll just be putting the belts back on Alexa and Nikki, because "Only English-speaking wrestlers can get over."  I hope I'm wrong.  Asuka and Kairi should jump to AEW.

Pick: Alexa and Nikki regain the belts